Australian news, and some related international items

South Australian Business and Premier want to import radioactive waste

Business groups embrace nuclear industry debate in South Australia ABC News 9 Feb 2015,The prospect of a nuclear industry in South Australia has been embraced by the state’s peak business group as a multi-million-dollar industry. Business SA chief executive Nigel McBride said it would be good for the state and could result in reduced carbon emissions.

“We’re talking about a massive, potential nuclear recycling industry,” he said.

“We’re talking about low energy costs and a huge rise in job opportunities through cheaper manufacturing, cheaper water.” SA Chamber of Mines and Energy chief executive Jason Kuchel said it was “about time” options for the future were discussed.

“One of those things that we would be hopeful for is that we might able to consider enriching uranium in South Australia,” he said.

Mr Weatherill …. indicated that he did not think the establishment of a SA nuclear power plant was on the horizon but said a nuclear waste dump and the creation of a nuclear enrichment industry should be considered……


But the Conservation Council’s chief executive Craig Wilkins described any use of nuclear energy in SA as “unwanted” and “unsafe”.

“It’s old thinking, rather than new thinking and it’s so frustrating to spend time, energy and resources investigating this when we are on the cusp of an energy revolution in renewable,” he said….


February 9, 2015 Posted by | business, politics, South Australia | 2 Comments

A warning on greedy businessmen’s push for nuclear chain in South Australia

South-Australia-nuclearSouth Australia takes first step to nuclear power GEORGE LEKAKIS The New Daily, Financial Services Editor 9 Feb 15 “……..The setting up of the Royal Commission follows lobbying by prominent South Australian business figures for an independent evaluation of nuclear power and enrichment proposals for the state……..South Australian Nuclear Energy Systems has been discussing its business proposals with Federal and State politicians, with a view to amending laws that ban nuclear power generation.

The Commonwealth Biodiversity Act currently prohibits the deployment of nuclear power stations throughout Australia.

Mr Hundertmark told The New Daily last year that the company had identified international capital sources for funding local nuclear projects and had formed connections with global players.
“The funding of the things that need to be done is not a real problem – the problem is to get the legislative changes needed,” he said at the time.

Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman David Sweeney warned that the Royal Commission could merely be a pretext for conditioning South Australians to the prospect of establishing a nuclear waste dump.

“There’s no doubt that a large part of this inquiry is to de-sensitise people to the idea of creating an international radioactive waste dump in the state,” he said.“People need to be wary of the possibility that the inquiry is just a Trojan horse for getting a waste dump built.”

Mr Sweeney said any independent inquiry would find that the economic case for nuclear power did not stack up. “As far as nuclear power is concerned, this is a fanciful exercise because of the outstanding growth of renewable alternatives,” he said.

Mr Weatherill said the government would finalise the terms of reference for the Royal Commission in consultation with experts.

In June last year, The New Daily revealed that a group of high-powered businessmen and scientists led by former News International director Bruce Hundertmark had formed a new company to prepare business proposals for nuclear power stations in South Australia.

Apart from Mr Hundertmark, the board of South Australian Nuclear Energy Systems Pty Ltd, includes Ian Kowalick, the former chief of staff to ex-Liberal premier John Olsen.


February 9, 2015 Posted by | politics, reference, South Australia | Leave a comment

The Adelaide Advertiser is in the grip of the nuclear lobby

news-nukeDennis Matthews, 9 Feb 15 From its comments denigrating would-be opposition to the nuclear industry whilst at the same time paying lip service against radical pro-development forces it’s pretty obvious that The Advertiser has already made up its mind about Jay Weatherill’s opportunistic so-called independent Royal Commission into the nuclear industry (The Advertiser, 9/2/15).

With subjective comments like those from the media, business communities and pro-nuclear politicians why waste taxpayers money on window dressing a foregone conclusion?

Once again the public is being led like lambs to the slaughter in the name of development, which in truth is nothing less than a proxy for narrow-minded, regressive, vested interests.

February 9, 2015 Posted by | media, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australia could make “$billions” out of nuclear power – Adelaide Advertiser

devil-bargainDANIEL WILLS STATE POLITICAL EDITOR THE ADVERTISER FEBRUARY 09, 2015CONSTRUCTION of a uranium enrichment plant could inject billions of dollars into the South Australian economy and modern waste-treatment facilities could double as cheap power generators if the state’s nuclear capacity is expanded, industry says.

Premier Jay Weatherill has reversed decades of Labor opposition to the state taking a greater role in the uranium industry, yesterday announcing a royal commission to investigate opportunities for nuclear storage, uranium enrichment and power creation.

It has raised immediate ire from the green lobby and been dismissed by the Opposition as a backflip and tactical distraction from health controversies.

Mr Weatherill conceded the announcement was a major reversal from his previous stance on the nuclear industry. He said he now had an “open mind” amid opportunities for jobs and investment, and growing fears about climate change.

“I have in the past been ­opposed to nuclear power, all elements of it,” he said. “I now have an open mind. “When the facts change, people should change their minds.”

February 9, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Bob Hawke and Jay Weatherill – Labor fans of nuclear power and radioactive waste dumping

Hawke,-Bob-relevantBob Hawke supports SA nuclear dump The Australian, 9 Feb15 FORMER prime minister Bob Hawke has backed siting a nuclear waste dump in South Australia after Premier Jay Weatherill ­revealed he would hold a royal commission into the state’s deeper involvement in the nuclear ­industry.

The commission’s findings could also open the door to opportunities for nuclear generation and construction of nuclear-­powered submarines in the state, said nuclear physicist Ziggy Switkowski, who led the 2006 commonwealth government inquiry into the viability of a domestic ­nuclear Ziggy-spruikerpower industry.

Consultation on terms of reference begin today, and are expected to cover the state’s further potential for mining, enrichment, energy generation and storage phases of the nuclear cycle for peaceful uses.

Mr Hawke’s decades-long lobbying for Australia to take the world’s nuclear waste had been a no-go zone with the state Labor government, despite South Australia being a prime storage candidate with a vast, geologically sound backyard. The former Labor PM called the commission a “hell of a good idea” and said the ALP, which has a platform forbidding the establishment of nuclear power plants and all other states of the nuclear fuel cycle in Australia, had previously been open to altering its nuclear policy.

“The Labor Party has shown that it has a degree of flexibility in the nuclear debate, particularly with export of uranium,’’ he said……….

Mr Weatherill said his personal anti-nuclear stance had changed and he was “well along the journey” Continue reading

February 9, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Australian Youth Climate Coalition condemns South Australian government’s proposal on nuclear issues

South-Australia-nuclearNuclear issues to be examined by SA royal commission, Premier Jay Weatherill announces  // 8 Feb 2015,

A royal commission will look at the future role South Australia should play in the nuclear industry, Premier Jay Weatherill says.

The SA Premier called a news conference to make the surprise announcement, telling reporters the inquiry would be a first for Australia.

He said the inquiry would look at SA’s involvement in the mining, enrichment, energy and storage phases in the life cycle of nuclear fuel.

“We believe South Australians should be given the opportunity to explore the practical, financial and ethical issues raised by a deeper involvement in the nuclear industries,” he said.

Mr Weatherill said SA had one of the world’s biggest uranium deposits and had been involved in uranium production for more than 25 years.

“It is now the time to engage in a mature and robust conversation about SA’s future role in the nuclear industry,” he said.

He said consultation would start in the coming day on the terms of reference.

“We need to understand all these issues so that the community can make an informed judgment,” he said.

A number of independent experts would be engaged to support the royal commission’s work, Mr Weatherill said.

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition was swift to condemn the Government’s announcement.

It said the state needed to focus on its renewable energy potential rather than nuclear potential.

ABC political reporter Nick Harmsen said it put the proposition of a nuclear waste dump in South Australia back on the political agenda, after a previous Labor administration fought federal moves.

February 8, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | 2 Comments

South Australia held to ransom with privatised electricity distribution

 Dennis Matthews , 7 February, 2015  South Australia’s electricity consumers have been held to ransom ever since the Olsen Government privatised the monopoly electricity distribution arm of ETSA and Rob Lucas gave the new owners a guaranteed return on investment. Chief beneficiary of this folly is a billionaire Chinese businessman (The Advertiser, 2/2/15) who must be wishing the whole of Australia was as naive.

It’s time to do a Playford and nationalise monopoly essential services that are holding SA to ransom. Sure, the SA Government might try to do the same as a private owner but there is a big difference. The SA Government is answerable to the consumer every four years and, as shown by the defeat of the Olsen Government and two successive Queensland governments, the public will not stand for such ideologically-driven nonsense.

The sooner we buy back the monopoly electricity distribution system the sooner confidence will return to both public and private consumers.

February 7, 2015 Posted by | energy, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australia and ACT are ahead in renewable energy

Hitting the Renewable Energy Target,   Chief Operating Officer, Green Building Council of Australia  Souceable, 3 Feb 15  “……..The Climate Council’s recent report, The Australian Renewable Energy Race, finds that those states with a favourable policy environment and with established renewable energy targets winning the renewables race. South Australia, having already met its 2020 renewable energy target of 33 per cent, now sources more than a third of electricity from renewable sources and a quarter of homes have solar PV panels. South Australia has installed more large-scale renewable capacity since 2001 than any other state, and has now set a 50 per cent target.

The report finds the ACT is also “punching above its weight” with a target of 90 per cent renewable energy by 2020, and a feed-in tariff scheme attracting investment in large-scale project Continue reading

February 4, 2015 Posted by | ACT, energy, South Australia | Leave a comment

Scientists warn on climate change – a hotter drier South Australia

climate-AustSouth Australia to get much hotter, drier, new climate change report reveals The Advertiser  KATRINA STOKES JANUARY 27, 2015   SOUTH Australia is only going to get hotter and drier and more prevalent periods of drought and fire-related conditions will continue to increase, a report released today reveals.

The CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology report says what climate change experts have been saying for a long time — climate change is real.

The experts predict Adelaide will experience an increase in the number of days above 35C from 20 in 1995 to 26 in 2030, to between 28 and 47 in 2090.


ey predictions from the report include:

WINTER and spring rainfall in southern Australia is projected to decline, while changes in other areas are uncertain

THE time in drought will increase over southern Australia, with a greater frequency of severe droughts

BY 2090, Australian average temperatures are projected to increase by 0.6 to 1.7C for a low emissions scenario, or 2.8 to 5.1C under a high emission scenario

MORE hot days are like to occur as well as harsher fire weather, including an increase in the number of days with a “severe” fire danger rating

Climate Institute chief executive officer John Connor said the report findings demonstrated why it was in Australia’s best interest to “drive ambitious climate action”.

“This new data reinforces earlier analysis for Treasury (the government) that showed large chunks of the Australian economy will be whacked by global warming … sectors like agriculture, health and ecosystems are hit well beyond their ability to adapt,” he said………

January 30, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, South Australia | Leave a comment

Precedent-setting Aboriginal native title grant over large area of SA Eyre Peninsula

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: Barngarla people granted partial native title over large area of SA Eyre Peninsula

ABC News By Nicola Gage and Natalie Whiting 23 Jan 15 A two-decade native title claim which covers about two thirds of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula has been granted in the Federal Court.

The Barngarla people filed a native title claim for the area in April 1996.

Justice John Mansfield delivered his judgment on their right to the land on Thursday.

     The group’s claim covered 44,500 square kilometres, an area almost triangular in shape and encompassing the coast between Port Augusta and Port Lincoln and the surrounding land and sea……..

Judgment could set precedent for claims in SA, interstate

Solicitor Philip Teitzel said the case was one of the first in the nation to go over densely settled areas and could have broad implications…….

January 23, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia | Leave a comment

Strong interest from South Australia and Victoria in ACT’s wind energy auction

Parkinson-Report-ACT wind energy auction: And the winners are …. REneweconomy, By  on 14 January 2015  The ACT government’s wind energy auction has thrown up some surprising winners, and none of the planned 200MW of wind turbines will be built within a bull’s roar of the nation’s capital, if market intelligence is correct. The ACT government advised the winning tenderers of their success just before Christmas, and have until early February to prove that they have the finance in place to build the projects.

The winners have not been publicly announced, and will be kept confidential. But through a process of elimination – i.e. by crossing out those among the 18 project tenders who concede they didn’t make it, there are three likely winners.

They are the Hornsdale wind project in South Australia – regarded as the country’s most prospective wind project because of its excellent wind resources. Industry estimates suggest that the project could be a go-er with a tariff of around $80/MWh…………

The second winner is thought to the small Coonooer Bridge wind project in Victoria. This is owned by Windlab, a spinoff of CSIRO which is based in Canberra. Coonoer is likely to be just 18MW, but will also likely have a level of community ownership through an innovative structure that we discussed here.

The third project is less certain but is thought to be the Ararat project owned by RES, also based in Victoria. It is also bidding for less than half of its nominated capacity of more than 220MW.

The ACT wind energy auction is important to the wind industry in Australia because the sector has been at a standstill for nearly two years. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, no new wind projects were financed in Australia in 2014 because of the Federal government’s attempts to nobble the renewable energy target.

That helped cause an 88 per cent slump in large scale clean energy investment, and pushed Australia down from 11th position to 39th in the world, below Myanmar and Honduras. For some international investors, the ACT auction was considered to be the last hope in Australia, given the uncertainty that continues around the RET.

Contrary to the federal government, which sees its future in coal, the ACT government hopes to source 90 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2020. It will do this through a series of auctions – 40MW of large scale solar already completed, an initial run of 200MW of wind, and around 50MW of other large scale solar projects including storage, and 23MW of waste-to-energy projects.

The ACT government raised the prospect of winning tenders going to other states if the price was cheaper, although it did profess to have a strong “local content” component of the tender………….

January 16, 2015 Posted by | ACT, South Australia, Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

BHP wants Australian Government to allow bigger radioactive waste dam at Olympic Dam

BHP-on-Aust-govtBHP Billiton wants to increase radioactive waste storage at Olympic Dam, but opponents say leakage rates will rise, SMH,  January 12, 2015 –  Resources reporter BHP Billiton believes it can increase the amount of radioactive waste being stored in ponds at Olympic Dam without seepage rates rising, under the new development plan for the famous mineral deposit in the South Australian outback.

Continuing the rollout of new plans for the giant uranium, copper and gold mine, BHP has sought permission from the federal government to raise walls around an important waste or “tailings” dam at the mine from 30 metres to 40 metres.

The change would increase the volume of radioactive fluids that can be held in the dam – which is one of four on site – from 48.4 million cubic metres to 64.8 million cubic metres, with the work expected to be complete by September 2023.

Storage of the tailings, which include radioactive materials and acids, has been controversial since Olympic Dam’s previous owner, Western Mining Corporation, confirmed in 1994 that 5 billion cubic metres of the tailings fluids had leaked out of the storages and into an aquifer underground.

Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney said increasing the volume of tailings under storage would probably cause more leakage.

“There is no question that increased pressure would add to the chances of increased seepage,” he said.

“We see tailings management as one of the big, unspoken problems with uranium mining. It is an unresolved environmental management problem.”……..

The push to increase the amount of tailings storage comes just months after BHP revealed a new strategy to develop Olympic Dam by putting a heap leach operation at the start of the existing processing cycle.

BHP will conduct a three-year trial of the heap leach concept, before deciding whether it warrants further expansion.


Confirmation of the heap leach trial was the first sign of progress at Olympic Dam since mid 2012, when BHP axed a $30 billion plan to develop the entire Olympic Dam deposit using the world’s biggest open-pit mine.

That $30 billion plan would have required the construction of eight new tailings dams, each requiring a 65-metre-tall embankment, and each covering two square kilometres.

January 12, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, South Australia, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

The Maralinga nuclear bomb test scandal lingers on

Lingering impact of British nuclear tests in the Australian outback Jon DonnisonSydney correspondent 1 Jan 2015,  “It seems remarkable today but less than 60 years ago, Britain was exploding nuclear bombs in the middle of Australia.  In the mid-1950s, seven bombs were tested at Maralinga in the south-west Australian outback. The combined force of the weapons doubled that of the bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in World War Two.

In archive video footage, British and Australian soldiers can be seen looking on, wearing short sleeves and shorts and doing little to protect themselves other than turning their backs and covering their eyes with their hands.

Some reported the flashes of the blasts being so bright that they could see the bones of their fingers, like x-rays as they pressed against their faces.Much has been written about the health problems suffered by the servicemen as a result of radiation poisoning.

Far less well-documented is the plight of the Aboriginal people who were living close to Maralinga at the time.

“Every night I cry for them,” Hilary Williams tells me as she sits around a campfire for an impromptu picnic of kangaroo tails laid on for our visit.

Her mother and grandparents all witnessed at least one of the explosions from just a few kilometres away.

Ms Williams said all three of them died young after suffering lung problems.

“It’s so sad. They’re not here anymore,” she said, adding that she had heart problems she believes were also linked to the bombs.Locals around Maralinga spoke about a black mist of radioactive dust over their communities following the explosions.

“A lot of people got sick and died,” said Mima Smart, an aboriginal community leader.

“It was like a cancer on them. People were having lung disease, liver problems, and kidney problems. A lot of them died,” she said, adding that communities around Maralinga have been paid little by way of compensation……….

Robin Matthews, caretaker of the Maralinga Nuclear Test Site. “They thought they’d pick a supposedly uninhabited spot out in the Australian desert. Only they got it wrong. There were people here.”


During the 1960s and 70s, there were several large clean-up operations to try and decontaminate the site. All the test buildings and equipment were destroyed and buried. Large areas of the surface around the blast sites was also scraped up and buried.

But Mr Matthews said the clean-up, as well as the tests themselves, were done very much behind closed doors with a high level of secrecy. “You’ve got to remember that this was during the height of the Cold War. The British were terrified that Russian spies might try and access the site,” he said.

The indigenous communities say many locals involved in the clean-up operation also got sick..

‘Sick land’

Maralinga has long been declared safe. There are even plans to open up the site to tourism. But it was only a few months ago that the last of the land was finally handed back to the Aboriginal people. Most, though, say they have no desire to return there.

Mima Smart told me she regards Maralinga as sick land. “I don’t want to go back. Too many bad memories.”

And even almost 60 years on, the land still hasn’t recovered. Huge concrete plinths mark the spots where each of the bombs was detonated.

Around each, the blast area would have stretched for several kilometres.The orangey red soil of the outback sparkles strangely green.If you look closely, you can see the ground is covered with what looks like broken glass, where the soil got so hot it literally melted and turned to silicon.

And even after all this time, the natural vegetation still won’t grow back. “The grass here only ever grows a few inches,” said Mr Matthews. “Even the birds and the kangaroos still stay clear of this area.”

More than half a century on, most people here still regard Maralinga as a dark chapter in British Australian history

January 2, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Australia scaling back feed -in solar payments to householders

solar-feed-inPayments slashed for solar homes that feed into grid in SA CAMERON ENGLAND CHIEF BUSINESS REPORTER, 23 Dec 14  THE once-generous payments householders received for their solar power will be scaled back to a 5.3c per kilowatt hour from the start of next year.This equates to a return of about $540 per year from a 6kW system which is large enough to power most homes.

But if you installed the same sized system before October 2011 you would potentially be pulling in $4836 per year.

Those payments will continue until June 30, 2028.

The retailer feed-in tariff, which must be paid by your energy provider, was set at 7.6c/kWh last year but fell to 6c once the carbon price was removed.

The Essential Services Commission of South Australia has further reduced it to 5.3c/kWh because it “reflects the forecast wholesale market value of photovoltaic (solar) electricity in the coming year’’.

“The proposed value is lower than the 2014 retailer feed-in tariff of 6.0 cents/kWh, due to the lower forecast wholesale market price of electricity,’’ ESCOSA says.

Individual energy retailers can elect to pay householders more for their power.

The original 44c/kWh feed-in tariff was taken up by more than 100,000 householders before it was closed by the Government in September 2011, and reduced to 16c/kWh. Householders who receive these payments are also eligible for the 5.3c payment which is paid by energy retailers.

Those who signed up before the cut-off receive the higher tariff until the scheme expires in 2028, costing an estimated $1.425 billion — an amount recovered through fees charged to all electricity customers.

The initially generous scheme was designed to foster the growth of the solar industry.

Solar panel prices have plummeted since then, with larger systems much more affordable now.

December 24, 2014 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 1 Comment

Rear Admiral Scarce joins the South Australian pro nuclear clique

Let’s talk nuclear, says ex-governor Kevin Scarce THE AUSTRALIAN  Verity Edwards DECEMBER 13, 2014 AFTER seven years of political silence in his role as governor of South 

AFTER seven years of political silence in his role as governor of South Australia, Kevin Scarce yesterday finally spoke out to say the state should consider developing a nuclear industry to compensate for a downturn in manufacturing……….

December 13, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment


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