Australian news, and some related international items

Wiluna uranium project not viable due to flooding risks

Lake Way flooding proves Wiluna unviable 27 Mar 15, (Good photos)  After yesterday flying over Lake Way to see the extent of flooding in the area, WA Greens spokesperson on uranium Robin Chapple MLC has expressed deep concern about the future of proposed uranium mining on the lake bed.

 Toro Energy Ltd plans to store radioactive tailings from the proposed Wiluna uranium mine – up to 100 million tonnes – in the mined-out Centipede and Millipede pits, which will also reside on the lake bed and are currently underwater.
 The company has previously cited flooding as a non-issue claiming the lake to be a natural drainage point however photographs taken by the Hon Robin Chapple MLC reveal this to be untrue.
 Mr Chapple said the extensive flooding at Lake Way raised very serious concerns about the ability of Toro Energy Ltd to effectively manage water whilst mining such a volatile mineral on a lake bed.
“I do not believe this company has properly accounted, nor planned, for potential flooding to the extent we have seen this week at Lake Way,” he said.
“Not only would flood waters of this magnitude carry radioactive material to other parts of the ecosystem but upon drying out, could potentially release large quantities of oxidised uranium – radioactive dust – into the atmosphere.
“Had this been an active mine site we would now be dealing with an environmental disaster on a large scale.”
For comment please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

March 28, 2015 Posted by | environment, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Remote Aboriginal communities in distress over W.A. moves to get them off their land

“And those remote communities stand there waiting for their verdict but don’t know what they’ve done to appear before the Liberal Government’s jury.”

Remote community residents frightened they will be forced off their land: Aboriginal elder  ABC News 26 Mar 15  By Lucy Martin People in remote Indigenous communities are panicking about their future, say an Aboriginal elder and MP, as the Western Australian Government maintains no community will close without consultation.

Pintupi elder Bobby West said life was good in the isolated community of Kiwirrkurra in Western Australia’s Gibson Desert.

“It’s a friendly and safe community, much better than close by in the town area. We’re not planting marijuana or selling drugs in small communities. Yeah, we got a good life out here,” he said.

It has remained that way for decades, but Mr West said residents were growing increasingly frightened they would soon be forced off their land. Continue reading

March 28, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Flooding danger to uranium tailings at proposed Wiluna uranium mine

exclamation-Chapple says water could increase the risk at Toro,  Kalgoorlie Miner, 26 Mar 15  Mining and Pastoral MLC Robin Chapple has expressed concerns about plans to mine uranium in Wiluna after the “flooding” of Lake Way.

His comments came this week after a flyover revealed what Mr Chapple termed flooding on the lake bed. Toro Energy plans to store radioactive tailings from the proposed Wiluna uranium mine — up to 100 million tonnes — in the mined-out Centipede and Millipede pits, which will also be on the lake bed and are now underwater. The company has cited flooding as a non-issue, claiming the lake to be a natural drainage point, according to Mr Chapple.

Mr Chapple said the extensive flooding at Lake Way raised serious concerns about Toro’s ability to manage water effectively while mining on a lake bed. “I do not believe this company has properly accounted, nor planned, for potential flooding to the extent we have seen this week at Lake Way,” he said

“Not only would floodwaters of this magnitude carry radioactive material to other parts of the ecosystem, but on drying out could potentially release large quantities of oxidised uranium … into the atmosphere.

Mia Pepper Nuclear Free Campaigner Conservation Council of Western AustraliaAbout the flooding of Lake Way – the proposed site for the “Wiluna uranium project” including three pits on Lake Way. We’ve raised the issue that Toro Energy want to store about 100 million tonnes of radioactive tailings in two mined out pits on the lake bed (Centipede and Millipede) – the Department of Mines and Petroleum haven’t yet approved or even seen a tailings management plan from the company. We are focused on making sure the tailings don’t end up in this lake!

Conservation Council of Western Australia (Inc.) City West Lotteries House, 2 Delhi St, West M 0415 380 808 T (08) 9420 7291 F (08) 9420 7273

March 27, 2015 Posted by | environment, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Getting Aboriginals off their land, to facilitate mining industries

Anderson,MichaelGhillar Michael Anderson, leader of the Euahlayi people and ambassador of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, wrote an open letter to the United Nations on March 3, in which he states that the proposed closures of remote communities are to open up the land for mining.

“For the Western Australian government to now dispossess and displace the peoples of these homelands is designed to facilitate an expeditious expansion of mining interests and other developments,” he wrote.

The announcement of the closures coincides with the introduction of the Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill by the Barnett government last November. The bill, which is about to be debated in state parliament, proposes changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972. These simplify the process of gaining permission to develop Aboriginal sites, as the chief executive of the DAA will have sole discretion over whether to deem heritage protection. This would continue a DAA trend over recent years of site assessment which is beneficial to industry.

Are Mining Interests Behind Western Australian Remote Aboriginal Community Closures? March 20, 2015 by Paul Gregoir Yesterday, 18,000 people turned out at rallies across Australia in protest of the Western Australian government’s proposal to close up to 150 remote Aboriginal communities.



Continue reading

March 27, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Climate change, extreme heat and bushfires in WA

climate-changeThe heat is on: climate change, extreme heat and bushfires in WA

Source: Climate Council Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of heatwaves in Western Australia and driving up the likelihood of very high fire danger weather.
  • Western Australia is experiencing a long-term increase in average temperatures and in 2014 the state recorded its highest ever annual average maximum temperature.
  • The number of heatwave days in Perth has increased by 50% since 1950.
  • Nine of Western Australia’s hottest Januarys on record have occurred in the last 10 years.
  • The number of days per year
    with severe fire danger weather is projected to almost double in south west Western Australia by 2090 if global carbon emissions are not drastically reduced.

Recent fires in Western Australia have been influenced by record hot dry conditions.

  • The long-term trend to hotter weather in Western Australia has worsened fire weather and contributed to an increase in the frequency and severity of bushfires.
  • The concept of a normal bushfire season is rapidly changing as bushfires increase in number, burn for longer and affect larger areas of land.
  • By 2030, the number of professional firefighters in WA will need to more than double to meet the increasing risk of bushfires.

3. The economic, social and environmental costs of increased extreme heat and bushfire activity is likely to be immense.

  • In Perth, from 1994-2006, there were over 20 heat attributable deaths per year. If average maximum temperatures were 2°C warmer, this number would almost double to 40 deaths.
  • Some of Western Australia’s most fire-prone regions may become unlivable as the risks to lives and property caused by bushfires continue to increase.
  • Without effective action on climate change, there will be 20 times the number of dangerous days for outdoor workers by 2070, reducing productivity.

4. Tackling climate change is critical to protecting Western Australia’s prosperity.

  • As a nation we must join the global effort to substantially reduce emissions and rapidly move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy if we are to limit the severity of extreme heat and bushfires both in Western Australia and nationally.

March 22, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Western Australia | Leave a comment

National protests against plans to close remote Aboriginal communities

#SOSBlakAustralia call goes out across the land to save remote Indigenous communities, Crikey  MARIE MCINERNEY | MAR 19, 2015 A day of action to protest plans to close remote Indigenous communities in Western Australia ended up not only trending nationally on Twitter but hit the streets in real-life, with rallies across Australia, from Derby and Roebourne to Townsville and Tasmania.

The largest protest was, understandably, in Perth, fuelled by Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s “lifestyle choice” comments last week. They also prompted this call today by Close the Gap campaign co-chairs Mick Gooda and Kirstie Parker for the governments to re-engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, saying the decisions being made about remote communities are “highly damaging and a breach of inherent rights”.

Such was the growing momentum on the issue that Premier Colin Barnett addressed the rally in Perth – see The West Australian’s report and other media coverage of the protest (and  2015 Close the Gap day events):……

Below is a selection of the #SOSBlakAustralia tweets that captured virtual and real-life protest through the day, from organisations and individuals, including high profile sports and arts figures. Not even a pending cyclone was going to stop them: [tweets reproduced here]

March 21, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s huge wind power potential blocked by Federal and State governments

While there are only three large-scale wind farms in WA, smaller community-based operations have been successful at locations including Denmark, Bremer Bay, Rottnest Island, Kalbarri, Denham and Coral Bay.

An expansion of the Albany wind farm means it meets 80 per cent of the town’s power needs.

wind farm Alnany WA

Wind power: WA wind farms ineffective for renewable energy TREVOR PADDENBURG PERTHNOW MARCH 16, 2015 WA is one of the windiest places on the planet with wide open spaces for wind farms, yet the state remains a renewable energy backwater, latest figures reveal.

Clean Energy Council data for significant wind farm projects shows WA generates less than 500MW of power from a total of 308 turbines around the state.

That’s half of Victoria’s wind generation at 939MW from 454 turbines and well below South Australia, which generates 1205MW of electricity from 561 turbines.

One reason is debate about health effects and noise emissions from wind turbines, even though numerous studies including a recent National Health and Medical Research Council review ruled there was no truth to claims that turbines cause health effects.

Aside from the question of health effects, the wind energy industry in WA is in crisis from a political double whammy, with the Federal Government signalling it wants to scrap Australia’s renewable energy target and the WA Government signing new contracts that tie electricity production to coal.

Estimates put investment in large-scale renewable energy projects in 2014 at 10 per cent of the figure for 2013.

That’s despite the Australian Institute saying wind had the potential to supply 40 per cent of Australia’s energy needs and was now cheaper to produce than coal.

Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh said WA should be a world leader but it remained in the doldrums, underfunded and undervalued by governments fixated on coal.

“WA has a great wind resource and the space. But the review of the renewable energy target has basically closed the industry down,” he said. Continue reading

March 18, 2015 Posted by | Western Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Mounted police, canine squad & dozens of police move Aboriginal protestors at Perth’s Heirisson Island

policeman-with-truncheonHeirisson Island Aboriginal protest: Police move in to clear campers, ABC News 13 Mar 15  By Rebecca Trigger Angry scenes erupted at Perth’s Heirisson Island today as police and the city moved to dismantle an Aboriginal camp, set up in response to the State Government’s plan to close remote communities.

Dozens of officers, including mounted police and the canine squad moved in on the island at about 3:00pm, Continue reading

March 14, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Melbourne rally in protest at plan to close remote Aboriginal communities

Aboriginal rally brings Melbourne CBD to standstil SAMANTHA LANDY HERALD SUN MARCH 13, 2015  HUNDREDS of Aboriginal rights activists have shut down Melbourne’s CBD in a protest against the planned closure of remote indigenous communities in Western Australia. The demonstrators brought Swanston St to a standstill during the evening peak, disrupting traffic and almost a dozen tram routes for about an hour and a half from 6pm…….

Ms Onus said Mr Abbott’s comments that living in remote communities was a “lifestyle choice” were “blatantly racist”. “These people live where their ancestors have been for tens of thousands of years,” she said.

“There will be (thousands of) Aboriginal refugees if these communities close. “We know what happens to homeless Aboriginal people — they’re often criminalised. “They’re gonna end up in prisons and hospitals and homeless shelters.”

Ms Onus said protests were also being held in other capital cities.
Victoria Police spokesman Adam West said there were no incidents during the

March 14, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Victoria, Western Australia | Leave a comment

A new project off the coast of Australia may make wave power a reality

Renewable energy Looks swell, The Economist 14 Mar 15  A new project off the coast of Australia may make wave power a reality

Mar 14th 2015 NO LAND stands between Antarctica and Australia’s west coast—just a vast ocean, rippled and rocked by the Roaring Forties. For centuries these westerlies, which blow between latitudes 40° S and 50° S, powered ships sailing from Europe to Asia. These days, they are also creating waves in the world of renewable energy. At the end of February, a demonstration project designed to use the ocean swell they produce went live. As a result Australia’s largest naval base now gets part of both its electricity and its fresh water courtesy of the ’Forties.


Carnegie Wave Energy, in Perth, has been working since 1999 on what it calls CETO technology. Ceto was the ancient Greek goddess of sea monsters, and Carnegie’s particular monsters are buoys that resemble giant macaroons. They float a metre or two below the ocean’s surface, bobbing up and down in the swell and generating electricity as they do so. The current version, CETO 5, has a capacity of 240kW per buoy. Three of the beasts are now tethered to the sea bed 3km from HMAS Stirling, on Garden Island. They also help to run a desalination plant on the base, for fresh water is a valuable commodity in Western Australia’s arid climate………
Carnegie aspires to bigger and better buoys it hopes will generate a megawatt each when launched in 2017. These versions, CETO 6, will be 20 metres across and will produce electricity inside themselves instead of at an onshore power plant. That means no pipe is needed; a submarine power cable will do instead……….
Carnegie also has its sights on markets farther afield. Military bases around the world need secure supplies of energy and water. And wave energy is attractive to island countries like the Maldives that must, at the moment, import fossil fuel at some expense. Whether submarine wave power of this sort will ever become truly mainstream is moot. But Carnegie is showing that, in appropriate circumstances, it could indeed have the wind behind it.

March 14, 2015 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | 1 Comment

Respected Aboriginal women elders explain the importance of the Homelands

Gardiner's Range‘People wanted to go back to homeland’

Mr McLarty said many of the small communities were created in response to government policy last century which saw Aboriginal people forcibly amalgamated into camps with other tribes.

“People wanted to move back to their own homeland,” he said.

“People wanted to go out to their own community, to feel some ownership, because they didn’t feel like they belong here in another tribal area.”

He said the Prime Minister’s comments may come from a lack of understanding of Aboriginal people’s history.

The women said remote communities were being unfairly painted as dysfunctional.

They argued that in most communities, children were safer and happier being raised ‘on-country’, where there was not the steady flow of drugs and alcohol and they could learn the traditional culture.

highly-recommendedRemote Aboriginal community closures: Return to country or risk losing traditional homes forever, elders warn By Erin Parke and Rebecca Trigger Senior Aboriginal women from WA’s Kimberley say the Prime Minister’s “lifestyle choice” comments are a wake-up call and people who have drifted from their bush communities should return or risk losing them forever.

The call comes in the wake of Tony Abbott’s suggestion that living in remote Aboriginal communities was a “lifestyle choice” that could not be endlessly subsidised by the Government.

Senior Miriuwung Gajerrong woman and chairperson of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre Merle Carter said the comments should spur people into action.

“For all of our people who are living in town, who are fringe-dwellers, just because of alcohol, go back to your communities,” she said.

“With the statement that Premier Colin Barnett made about closing the Aboriginal communities, and Tony Abbott backing him up, this might be a wake-up call.” Continue reading

March 13, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Murky dealings in Western Australia’s Kintyre uranium mine proposal

Do the Martu people really want uranium mined nearby their communities? It does not sound like it but their permission is ‘official’…….

Wiluna Elder Geoff Cooke will fight to the end to prevent mining on his Country.

“We are the custodians of the land. Uranium is a poison. Our rivers will be poisoned. Our trees will be poisoned. Our food will be contaminated. Our people will become sick.


Uranium mine proposal approved – on Martu Country, The Stringer, by Gerry Georgatos March 7th, 2015   Western Australia’s largest national park is facing its biggest threat – uranium mining. Last Thursday, the State’s Environment Minister approved a uranium mine proposal while in the background an investigation is plodding along into allegations of improper dealings by some Traditional Owners.

Anti-uranium campaigner and conservationist Mia Pepper said, “The Minister, Albert Jacobs, approved the proposed uranium mine at Kintyre, a unique ecosystem that was excised from the Karlamilyi National Park to allow mining.” In the Northern Territory, Jabiluka was excised from the World Heritage listed Kakadu. When it comes to uranium mining – and mining in general – anything can happen, even in the middle of a world famous and world heritage listed national park.

“Uranium mining would impact on scarce water resources and a number of significant and vulnerable species including the bilby, marsupial mole and rock wallaby, ” said Ms Pepper.

The Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, will decide the final approval check, but it is a given. The national park and Kintyre are surrounded by Martu communities. It is Martu Country but for those with the huge quid in mind, it is uranium country. The Parnngurr community has been fighting against the uranium proposal. Continue reading

March 9, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | 1 Comment

Western Australian government dismissive about environmental concerns re Kintyre uranium mine

Pilbara uranium mine: Minister dismisses concerns over environmental approval ABC News 6 Mar 15 Western Australia’s Environment Minister Albert Jacob has dismissed concerns about his conditional approval of a Pilbara uranium mine. One of the world’s largest uranium producers, Cameco, is proposing to build the Kintyre open-cut mine about 270 kilometres north-east of Newman.

Environmentalists have condemned the decision, citing concerns over the level of radiation monitoring required of the company throughout the Karlamilyi National Park, where the mine would be located……..

the WA Conservation Council’s Mia Pepper said the Government should ensure any animal which is consumed by traditional landowners, not just those that are endangered, also remain protected.”In that area there is a lot of hunting and the big concern is around the radiological uptake in bush foods, which could impact public health,” she said.

“Whether there’s a big risk or a small risk, the point is that there should be monitoring and there should be evidence that the company can provide to the community to say that there is no risk.”……..

Traditional owners, the Martu people, signed a land-use deal with Cameco in 2012.

Kintyre now requires federal environmental approval.

The Conservation Council said environmental groups have vowed to continue to fight the project and will take their concerns to Canberra.

March 7, 2015 Posted by | environment, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Corruption investigation does not stop Western Australia from approving Kintyre uranium mine

briberyWA uranium mine approved despite looming corruption investigation, WA Today  March  6 Steve Holland WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob approved a controversial uranium mine proposal on Thursday despite a looming investigation into the dealings of representatives of the traditional owners of the land.

Cameco Australia, in a joint venture project with Mitsubishi Development, acquired the Kintyre uranium deposit in WA’s remote Pilbara region in 2008 and the final stages of approval are edging closer.

But dealings of the representatives of the local Martu people, including the business practices of the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation, are currently under investigation by the Office of Regional Indigenous Corporations, or ORIC. Continue reading

March 7, 2015 Posted by | secrets and lies, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia government – new laws to stifle protest

civil-liberty-2smProtesters face new laws Daniel EmersonMarch 6, 2015, The Barnett Government has declared war on radical protesters with new laws criminalising thumb-locks, barrel locks or any other way of physically preventing or threatening lawful activity.The laws – introduced to the Legislative Council last week without fanfare – reverse the onus of proof, carry maximum penalties of two years jail or a $24,000 fine and ensure cost recovery for any police response.

Stung in recent years by campaigns against shark culling, gas processing at James Price Point and, more recently, logging of Mowen Forest in the South West, the Government says it needs enhanced laws to combat evolving tactics of protesters. The Opposition has warned the wording of the Bill prohibiting the “physical prevention of a lawful activity” is so broad it could capture a range of activities, including sit-in protests at electorate offices or marches that impede traffic.

The laws make intentionally or physically preventing a lawful activity an offence punishable by 12 months jail or a $12,000 fine. Police suspicion is enough to determine the intention was there, which the accused person must disprove in court.

The penalties double when the conduct risks physical harm to anyone, including the accused. It will also be an offence to manufacture or possess any “thing” suspected to be used for physically preventing lawful action……..

Shadow attorney-general John Quigley said Labor was yet to adopt a party position but he was concerned at the Bill’s onus of proof reversal and ramifications for legitimate protest. Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren said the Bill was “jaw-dropping in its overreach”. A spokesman said Nationals MPs had no concerns with the Bill so far……
WA Forest Alliance convenor Jess Beckerling said the laws were excessive but would not stop people from defending the environment.

March 7, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, Western Australia | Leave a comment


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