Australian news, and some related international items

The Adelaide Advertiser misleads public on medical nuclear isotopes

The Editor
The Advertiser

Your correspondent Phil Day (The Advertiser, 24/2/15) is a victim of those nuclear industry spin doctors who try to use nuclear medicine to justify the use of nuclear reactors.

The nuclear waste that is being considered for dumping in South Australia does not come mainly from medical grade isotopes, it comes from nuclear power stations and from facilities for producing the fuel for nuclear power stations and nuclear weapons. The nuclear waste from medical grade isotopes is comparatively trivial.

I also hope I never need a CAT scan or X-ray because both use ionising radiation. However, neither CAT scans nor X-rays use radioactive isotopes or produce nuclear waste and hence their use to justify generating and importing nuclear waste is misleading.

Dennis Matthews


February 25, 2015 Posted by | media, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australia’s Royal Commission should investigate the costs of uranium mining

 South Australia Govt Backs Uranium Mining Sourcceable, 24 Feb 15 South Australia’s royal commission into the role of nuclear power should investigate the costs of uranium mining, conservationists say.

The draft terms of the reference for the royal commission, released on Monday, are focused on nuclear power generation, uranium enrichment and waste storage.  But the government has ruled out scaling back the state’s involvement in uranium mining, while also precluding the use of nuclear for military purposes.

Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney says the decision to exclude consideration of uranium mining is deeply disappointing.  “The nuclear industry starts with uranium and so should any genuine assessment of the nuclear sector in South Australia,” he said.

To ignore an evidence based cost-benefit analysis of this sector is to move from the real world of industry performance to a publicly funded platform for industry promises.” The ACF has pushed for an end to uranium mining, which it says has been linked to the contamination of surrounding soil, air and water………….. – See more at:

February 25, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

The next step in South Australia’s Nuclear Farce

OK – Now it has turned up on
a-cat-CANThe Premier’s media release says that you can find the  Terms of Reference at

I couldn’t find anything there about the subject. Perhaps later?

Symptomatic of the clumsy and inept rush that characterises this tacky Royal Commission idea.Scarce,--Kevin-glow

Also no mention of personnel – other than the pro nuclear former S.A Governore Kevin Scarse.  (at right) Independent, my foot!

Anyway – here are the Draft Terms of Reference  Continue reading

February 23, 2015 Posted by | Christina reviews, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill announces the Terms of Reference for Royal Commission

Nuclear royal commission draft terms of reference announced by SA Premier Jay Weatherill South Australia’s nuclear royal commission is to inquire into enrichment, storage of waste and power generation, but not uranium mining.

The State Government has rAust-hot-newseleased draft terms of reference and announced there would be public consultation until March 13.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the inquiry would focus on three key areas, but the terms of reference had deliberately been kept general.

“These are the broadest possible terms of reference … they won’t be settled for a further week,” he said.

“The only caveats really are the non-military uses will be the only things explored and it’s not our intention to suggest any retreat from the current involvement in uranium mining.”

The Premier said it would be the broadest possible analysis of South Australia’s involvement and potential for future involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.

“We think it’s important to go through what is a thorough process of debate and discussion in the community about this important issue,” he said.

When asked if the state were mindful of a looming federal deadline to deal with the issue of nuclear waste storage, he said: “We don’t think this is something that should be rushed.

“The Commonwealth’s been talking about nuclear waste storage for decades so I don’t think our timeline is going to threaten any key decisions.”

Before the year is out, nuclear fuel rods that are being reprocessed by the French are due to be returned to Australia and by 2020 more nuclear waste being reprocessed in the United Kingdom is due to be returned as well.


February 23, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | 1 Comment

A Dangerous Farce – South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission

nukefools-daySA nuclear royal commission a farce, Independent Australia 22 February 2015 The South Australian government’s royal commission into our nuclear future is a farce, and a dangerous farce, warns Noel Wauchope.

FIRST OF ALL, it is not the province of one State to determine by a State royal commission that a nuclear industry should be introduced in Australia. That is a protected issue as a ‘A Matter of National Environmental Significance’ under the National Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Secondly, this royal commission would be a mammoth waste of money for South Australia The cost would run into hundreds of $millions. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was allocated over $434 million in 2013 for its first four years of operation. Given that nuclear issues are the province of national law, not South Australian, this is a totally unnecessary expense.

Thirdly, the public involvement‘ in the terms of reference for this royal commission is a farce in itself. Just look at how this was dealt with by the South Australian government:

8 February:

The announcement was made. Despite the fact that this whole initiative is clearly of national importance, it has received minimal publicity outside Adelaide. The Adelaide Advertiser ran a poll. The Adelaide Advertiser is pretty much regarded as the nuclear lobby’s free propaganda vehicle. No surprise if their readership turns up the required positive result.

9 February:

Consultations began on the Terms of Reference for the royal commission. Premier Jay Weatherill touted nuclear power for climate change action, though he said it was not economically viable. The better options, he said, were importing and storing radioactive waste, and uranium enrichment.

Pro-nuclear former governor, Kevin Scarce, was appointed as “independent” head of the inquiry. No mention of what scientists, etc. might be on the panel.

16 February:

(closing day for comments on the Terms of Reference for the royal commission)

There is no need for a royal commission into the nuclear industry for Australia. Nuclear proponent, Ziggy Switkowski, concluded in the 2006 Switkowski Report that the industry is not economically viable here. Nuclear reactors often far exceed their construction budgets. The last nuclear power plant built in Canada cost AUD$15.1 billion.

Mr. Switkowski predicted the capital cost at $4-6 billion for our first 1000MWe reactor.

However, we already know that, despite some pious statements by Jay Weatherill about nuclear power’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, action on climate change is not the motivator for this new inquiry.

According to a report by The Australian on 10 February 2015:

‘He [Premier Jay Weatherill] said he was open to the prospect of remote parts of the state hosting a nuclear waste deposit but played down the prospect of a power plant being built.

“I think that’s the least likely outcome of the royal commission,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“I think what’s most likely is that it will be regarded as not viable for either the state or the nation.” ‘

In the same interview on ABC’s The World Today, Weatherill’s enthusiasm for storing the world’s nuclear waste is clear: ……..,7399

February 23, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Dirty, Unsafe, Unsound, Uneconomic – yes – that’s the nuclear industry chain

The case to expand the nuclear industry in South Australia and the world is weak. It stands neither on its life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions, nor increased safety, nor economy. New nuclear technologies under construction are far over budget and over time. Future nuclear technologies are not close to being commercially available.

These and other nuclear issues are discussed in more detail in Chapter 6 of my bookSustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change.

Uncritical acceptance of the claims of nuclear proponents would set back safer, cleaner, faster and cheaper methods of mitigating climate change.

dirty-nuclearNuclear Energy Is Dirty, Unsafe And Uneconomic: Environmental Scientist  by Dr Dr Mark Diesendorf , Associate Professor and Deputy Director within the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of NSW..At present there is no market for expanding South Australia’s uranium mining and exports. In 2012, BHP Billiton put on hold its expansion plan for the Olympic Dam uranium-copper mine and since then has shed hundreds of jobs. That there is an excess of uranium enrichment capacity in the world is even acknowledged by the World Nuclear Association.

And, as explained below, wind energy is already much less expensive than nuclear and, on current trends, large solar power stations based on photovoltaic modules will also be cheaper within the 15-year period that it would take to plan and build a nuclear power station in Australia.

We should add to the 15 years the indefinite time-period it would take to gain public acceptance.

Looking beyond South Australia to the world, there seem to be three shaky legs upon which proponents attempt to stand their campaign to expand nuclear energy:

1. Nuclear energy has allegedly no or low greenhouse gas emissions.
2. New nuclear reactor technologies are allegedly safer than the present generation of reactors.
3. New and existing reactors are allegedly cheaper than other low-carbon technologies, notably renewable energy.

Let’s examine these claims. Continue reading

February 23, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australia faces choice of a Renewable or a Radioactive future

Rather than make SA a hub for renewable energy and other sustainable technologies (the state already derives 26 percent of its energy from wind power), the corporate board rooms are determined to press ahead with the most dangerous “alternative” available.

News-Limited1The Murdoch press, which previously defended the state from the imposition of a nuclear waste dump, has changed its tune accordingly. Its pages, usually dominated by climate change denying pens-for-hire, now carry bogus “carbon-free” claims for the water-guzzling, weapons proliferating, tax-payer supported nuclear power industry.

The Australian Financial Review refers to opponents of the nuclear industry as the “loony, left-progressive class”. The same editorial says the locating a dump for the world’s nuclear waste in SA would be an “act of good global citizenship” given that we supply the uranium. The dishonesty of this position is plain. A good global citizen wouldn’t have supplied the uranium in the first place.

Map-South-Australia-windA renewable or radioactive future South Australian Premier Jay South-Australia-nuclearWeatherill’s announcement that there will be a Royal Commission into the extension of the nuclear industry into enrichment, waste storage and nuclear power has rocked the state and sent shock waves across the country.

The Labor Party reversed its anti-uranium mining stance in the 1980s with a promise to limit to three the number of mines extracting and exporting the radioactive material. Kevin Rudd later lifted the cap to five. Widespread security and safety concerns in the community meant that political leaders had to step carefully in advancing the interests of the uranium industry.

Long decades of pressure from the industry via lobbyists, servants in academia, the media and the bureaucracy appear to have changed all that. There have always been advocates of hosting the riskier parts of the nuclear cycle, including nuclear-powered vessels and even nuclear weapons, but their views were considered extreme and hawkish. The SA Premier’s choice of an open-ended Royal Commission to inquire into the matter appears to be an effort to make the impending policy shift appear “scientific”, “arm’s length” and “impartial”. Continue reading

February 21, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | 1 Comment

South Australia: huge solar project from Origin Energy

Parkinson-Report-Origin Energy to build Australia’s biggest rooftop solar array  By  on 19 February 2015

Origin Energy and Zen Energy Systems are to build a 3MW solar system on the rooftop of the old Mitsubishi factory in Tonsley, Adelaide, in what will be the largest rooftop solar array in the country.

The awarding of the contracts was announced by the South Australian government this week. The intention to build the array was first announced late last year. Origin Energy will own the rooftop array and sell the output to the tenants of the Tonsley high tech centre (artists impression to the right), under a power purchase agreement that it is looking at replicating elsewhere in the country.

Indeed, Origin Energy managing director Grant King says the company is “changing its view” on electricity markets, and is particularly interested in the economics of utility-scale solar in Australia.

“We are working hard to understand economics of utility scale solar in Australia,” King told an analysts briefing.

Origin has also revealed it has bought a 40 per cent stake in the 69MW Javiera solar project in Chile (pictured right), which is being built by SunEdison in the Atacama desert, without subsidies, and will supply electricity mainly the nearby Los Pelambres copper project.

Origin Energy says this will also help it understand the economics of large-scale solar – both in international markets, and in Australia.

Zen – a tenant in the Tonsley complex – has been awarded the installation and maintenance contract.

“It’s a great job to get to ramp up our capacity and profile with a number of multi-megawatt jobs in the pipeline currently evolving for ZEN around Australia,” managing director Richard Turner said.

South Australia Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said the tender for the 3MW solar project had attracted a huge response from tenderers. “Tonsley is fast gaining a reputation as an innovation precinct with a focus on sustainability and urban renewal, so it’s not surprising that a project of this size has attracted significant interest,” he said.

Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter said the project would add to South Australia’s credentials as a national leader in renewable energy.

Hunter noted that South Australia has 41 per cent of the nation’s operating wind farm capacity and one in four households have rooftop solar panels.

“If South Australia was a nation, we would rank second only to Denmark as the world leader in terms of installed wind power on a per capita basis,” he said.

Origin’s head of energy markets, Frank Calabria, said the company was delighted to be named preferred partner for the innovative Tonsley project, which will see Origin build, own, and retail the electricity generated by the 3MW solar array.

“We are excited about this project, which will be the largest rooftop solar array Origin has installed, as it builds on our solar leadership and demonstrates our renewed focus on our solar business.

February 21, 2015 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 1 Comment

South Australian Labor – a nuclear waste dump to fix money problems?

text-cat-questionIsn’t that just a lovely idea?  Have South Australia’s labor politicians no brains? It”s like advocating cigarette smoking in order to fix obesity ( an idea I pinched from that great South Australian, Dr Helen Caldicott)

South-Australia-nuclearLabor eyed outback nuclear waste ‘windfall’ to wipe out state debt    SA Bureau Chief ADELAIDE  Political Reporter
 AN outback nuclear dump was considered by the South Australian Labor government in 2012 as a “silver bullet” to solve the state’s debt problems. An internal cabinet document obtained by The Australian reveals the government considered a plan to use the billions in revenue from a waste-storage facility to pay off debt and establish an infrastructure fund. It also proposes that, over time, nuclear waste could be tapped as a new source for power generation, and flags a public relations campaign to sell the idea.

The revelation comes after Premier Jay Weatherill last week announced a royal commission into nuclear power, saying it was time for a “mature” discussion about the potential to expand the state’s role in the fuel cycle.

However, the most senior South Australian Liberal, Christopher Pyne, yesterday rejected Mr Weatherill’s inquiry, putting him at odds with Tony Abbott.

“We have all the energy we need here in Australia … whether it’s coal energy — I do not support an extension to nuclear energy,” the Education Minister told ABC radio.

The Prime Minister has backed the royal commission, saying Mr Weatherill had offered “a gale of common sense”.

Mr Weatherill was Premier when then employment minister Tom Kenyon presented the “silver bullet” proposal to a cabinet planning day, arguing that a pro-nuclear policy to build on the state having one of the world’s largest uranium mines, Olympic Dam, would turn around the state’s finances. It flags the problems of spiralling debt of more than $10 billion, “no sign of a turnaround in budget” and flagging confidence in the economic future of the state as reasons for building a nuclear storage facility.

“Rather than suffering a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ in the lead up to 2014, a single decision could turn the budget on its head,” the document says.

A series of bilateral deals with targeted nations such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the US are flagged to provide “an unprece­dented revenue windfall” in exchange for taking thousands of tonnes of nuclear waste.

“It is proposed this windfall be used to wipe out state debt, and implement a state infrastructure fund to enable a huge program of building works to drive the economy and deliver a boom to the state well in excess of any ‘mining boom’,” the report says.

Hosting Australia’s low-level waste would be conditional on ­allowing imported waste — a “non-negotiable aspect of the ­arrangement”.

Yesterday, Mr Kenyon — who remains a backbench MP — said all ministers received the ­November 2012 document, but he would not comment on cabinet deliberations.

“I think it has a lot of ­potential for the economy and I will ­certainly be putting that to the royal commission,” he said.

Mr Weatherill told The Australian yesterday that Mr Kenyon had been a “long-time advocate for increased involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle”.

“There are many views both in the Labor Party and in the wider community on this issue and I would ask anyone interested to make a submission to the royal commission,” Mr Weatherill said.

Mr Kenyon’s proposal raises the idea of locating the storage ­facility at sites previously earmarked by the commonwealth for a nuclear dump site, despite these being fiercely opposed by former Labor premier Mike Rann in 2004

February 20, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Port Adelaide doesn’t want a nuclear reactor – “Put it in Port Augusta”

Port Adelaide community leaders say they don’t want a nuclear power plant in the heart of the Port KURTIS EICHLER PORTSIDE MESSENGER FEBRUARY 18, 2015

 THE Port Adelaide Mayor and a local MP say they do not want a nuclear reactor built in their patch.Port Adelaide Enfield Mayor Gary Johanson and State Labor Port Adelaide MP Susan Close say any such plan for the heart of the Port would not be viable.

Mr Johanson said because the district was only 14km from the city it should not be an option for generating nuclear energy.He said Port Augusta, 322km north of Adelaide, was a better and more “convenient” option for the state.


While Mr Johanson would not be drawn on the viability of storing the state’s nuclear waste on the Le Fevre Peninsula, he said a power plant would not work even if it did create jobs………

“There are benefits in job creation in other areas such as freight but I don’t think it is feasible to have a nuclear power plant in the Port,” Mr Johanson said.

“I can’t see you would want to build it anywhere in metropolitan Adelaide.” Mr Johanson said most Port Adelaide residents would not want to live near a nuclear reactor……..

Dr Close agreed the Port was ill-suited for nuclear power. “The idea of a nuclear plant in the Port is a ridiculous and inflammatory suggestion and I don’t support it,” she said.Local real estate agent Rob McLachlan said a nuclear power plant in the heart of the Port would not attract people to live in the area.

Port Augusta mayor Sam Johnson did not return calls before the Portside Messenger’s deadline.

February 20, 2015 Posted by | business, South Australia | Leave a comment

Dry Future for Adelaide ( very unwise to bring water wasting nuclear industry)

text-cat-question Makes you question the intelligence of South Australia’s businessmen and politicians  – even contemplating the high water use, and high water-polluting industries of nuclear industries, and expanding  uranium mining
Adelaide is facing a dry future – it needs to start planning now , The Conversation Mark Thyer Senior Lecturer, School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering at University of Adelaide Seth Westra Senior Lecturer, School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering at University of Adelaide, 19 February 2015,
Imagine a future where the yearly flow into one of the largest water reservoirs of a major Australian city could halve within 70 years. This is a scenario that Adelaide could face if the world continues on its current trajectory of high greenhouse gas emissions, according to the latest reports released this week from the Goyder Institute of which we were the lead authors.

This means Adelaide needs to start planning climate change adaption strategies for its water supply now, in combination with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Declining supply

The finding is based on one of the most detailed modelling efforts that has been conducted into the water security of an Australian city. Based on the outputs of 15 recent global climate models combined with downscaling rainfall to the catchment scale and hydrological modelling, we assessed how changes in rainfall and evaporation and transpiration (water evaporating from plants) will affect runoff in the Onkaparinga Catchment. Historically, this catchment has supplied on average about 50% of Adelaide’s water supply, with the remainder supplemented by pumping from the Murray River.

The findings suggested that a high level of confidence can be placed in projections of a decline in runoff. In fact, 98% of the model simulations suggested a decrease in runoff by the end of the century (the remaining 2% suggest little change).

However, the magnitude of change is highly uncertain – some projections suggest only small levels of change; others as much as 75% or more.

Dealing with the dry

The results paint a bleak future, but there are things we can do. The most obvious solution is to collectively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. By looking at a low-emission trajectory (i.e. one that assumes that society will take active measures to reduce emissions) the reduction of reservoir inflows might only be 25%.

As well as reducing emissions, we need to start preparing to adapt to a drier future…….

February 20, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, South Australia | Leave a comment

Concern that the Nuclear Royal Commission is really about a radioactive trash import business

MARK PARNELL: Giving one week is a ludicrous short time frame. 

WASTES-1NATALIE WHITING: The Premier, Jay Weatherill, has said he thinks it would be more likely that the commission recommend the establishment of a waste dump rather than power station.

Craig Wilkins from Conservation SA says that’s concerning.

CRAIG WILKINS: The only real market gap in the nuclear cycle is around receiving the world’s top nuclear waste. Certainly nuclear power and nuclear enrichment are just not feasible in the short term in our state. So that’s a big conversation. So I suppose part of our concern is that this inquiry is a bit of a Trojan horse for that agenda.

NATALIE WHITING: He says it has been difficult getting a submission up in the time frame

AUDIO Nuclear Royal Commission moves forward in SA MARK COLVIN: A royal commission is the biggest, most thorough, but often most expensive way Australia has of investigating an issue.  ABC Radio P.M. 

But in South Australia, just a week after the surprise announcement that of a royal commission into developing a nuclear industry, submissions on what the terms of reference should be are already closing. There’s been some criticism of that short time frame. Continue reading

February 18, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Crikey explores the purpose of a Royal Commission into Nuclear Power

Crikey clarifier: why is a royal commission investigating nuclear power? by Crikey Intern   The South Australian Labor government has called for Australia’s first royal commission into the nuclear fuel cycle, raising questions about the use of nuclear power. Royal commissions are mostly held to explore issues and events that have already taken place, so it is unusual that a royal commission has been appointed to analyse the case for nuclear power. Why a royal commission? And is that really the proper forum to investigate the potential use of nuclear power?

Why is a royal commission being used instead of a normal inquiry process?

A royal commission is a form of “public inquiry” where government-appointed bodies provide advice on or investigate an issue. Royal commissions are used to analyse issues of high importance or controversy, and they can last for several years.

The royal commission itself follows a recent call by Julie Bishop for a renewed discussion about nuclear power, as she says it is an “obvious direction” for reducing greenhouse emissions.

The infamous nuclear disasters that took place in Chernobyl and Three Mile Island have made people wary of nuclear power, and there is concern nuclear power stations could be “potential targets for terrorist attacks”.

Energy expert Mike Sandiford told Crikey the “irrationality in nuclear debate” requires a mature discussion. Continue reading

February 14, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australian government continues to promote uranium industry, despite its gloomy market situation

South-Australia-nuclearSA Govt to give Uranium One green light for exploring new sites in state’s north-east, ABC News  By Gavin Coote  13 feb 15 The owner of Honeymoon mine in South Australia’s north-east is set to be granted three new uranium exploration licenses in the region.

Honeymoon has been mothballed for 15 months but Uranium One was successful in an application to explore in three sites near the existing mine, 75 kilometres north-west of Broken Hill.

It came as the State Government planned to hold an inquiry into the potential opportunities that could come from the state’s expanding nuclear energy industry.

The SA Department of State Development said Uranium One put forward a strong case to play a part in future discoveries.

The Department’s Mineral Resources executive director Ted Tyne said the exploration licences would be finalised in the next few weeks…….

February 13, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Only till Monday February 16 for public comment in nuclear inquiry!

We’ve already had the nuclear debate: why do it again? The Conversation Ian Lowe Emeritus Professor, School of Science at Griffith University 11 Feb 15 “…….In principle, there is a process for public involvement in establishing the terms of reference, but the hypocrisy-scaletimescale for that exercise suggests it is a complete charade. The web site gives only until next Monday, a bare week after Weatherill’s announcement, for public comment on the terms of reference.

Also, there has been no announcement of any independent scientific or environmental expertise to guide former governor Kevin Scarce…”.

February 11, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment


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