Toxic sites in Adelaide’s suburbs number in their thousands BRAD CROUCH THE ADVERTISER JULY 22, 2014 THE Opposition has demanded a statewide audit of contaminated sites, as it emerges the dangers of trichloroethene entering groundwater was suspected as far back as the 1940s.
The call for an audit comes after Environmental Protection Authority chief executive Tony Circelli confirmed that “thousands” of sites were contaminated with various chemicals and the EPA received about 100 new notifications each year.
The State Government and Environment Minister Ian Hunter are under increasing pressure over the contamination scandal in Clovelly Park , where dozens of people have been forced to leave their homes because of health risks from the vapours of trichloroethene (TCE) rising up through the soil from industrially poisoned groundwater.
Mr Circelli, was responding to a claim by UniSA Professor Ravi Naidu, the managing director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation, that there are about 4000 contaminated sites in SA.
Mr Circelli said that claim was incorrect, but conceded the number “is in the thousands”.
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said an audit was needed to clarify the exact number of contaminated sites and their locations. “The purpose of conducting a statewide audit would be to establish a hierarchy of sites based on potential public health risks,” he said.
“As well as playing an important community awareness role, the audit could also provide a benchmark for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of contaminated sites for the EPA and assist with any future contamination investigations………http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/toxic-sites-in-adelaides-suburbs-number-in-their-thousands/story-fni6uo1m-1226998071395?nk=38b4e03626cff750bb726e65c1a3e9f4
Red Centre keeps shining as solar technology hub http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-22/alice-springs-solar-hub-technology/5613534 ABC Rural By Lauren Fitzgerald Central Australia is continuing to attract international investment from the solar industry, despite the Alice Solar City initiative wrapping up more than a year ago. In its five-year history, the program helped hundreds of homes and businesses install solar panels and solar hot water systems.
The general manager of the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), Lyndon Frearson, says Alice Springs now also has a reputation as a hub for developing technology.
He says companies from China, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Switzerland and America are all installing different solar PV modules at the CAT site. “The range of their investment varies depending on the size of the facility that they want to put in,” he said.
“Some of them are putting in little five-kilowatt systems as a test site, where they might be putting a number of small test sites around the world, through to a Swiss-based company which only has three R & D [research and development] facilities in the world, and they chose to build one of them here.
“And certainly those investments are in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Mr Frearson says local businesses like the Alice Springs Airport are also demonstrating an ongoing commitment to solar. “They received a subsidy to do their original project, but they’ve just [installed] 320 kilowatts off their own bat, completely their own investment. “And that’s both a maturing of the economics, that the solar panels are cheaper and the energy prices have changed.
“But it also shows a degree of confidence that they as an organisation and their board have in the technology to better run their business. “And there are a number of examples within Alice and broader afield throughout central Australia where different entities are making those decisions.
“So I think the legacy of Alice Solar City in central Australia is strong. “Certainly it’s something we see people talking about with pride, and we still see people outside of Alice focus very heavily on and see Alice Springs as a leader in this space.”
Wind companies question planning office response ENERGY companies will be allowed to make minor changes to wind farm planning permits from next month. Weekly Times 22 July 14, The move — which will pave the way for up to 964 turbines to be built across the state creating up to 2376 megawatts of wind energy — has been labelled a “change of heart” by Greens leader Greg Barber.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy said “we’re making a small adjustment to the planning scheme to allow existing wind farm planning permits to be amended, which may assist with upgrading turbine technology”……….http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/wind-companies-question-planning-office-response/story-fnkerdda-1226997709510
Clean Energy Finance Corporation plans expansion after dodging axe http://www.smh.com.au/business/clean-energy-finance-corporation-plans-expansion-after-dodging-axe-20140721-zvdhg.html#ixzz38MD2vaOK July 22, 2014 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has capped its first year of operations, managing to avoid the federal government’s axe and generating more than $3 billion in investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
The CEFC issued more than $900 million in loans in the year to June 30 – backed by the private sector at the rate of $2.20 for each of its own dollars – securing the annual abatement of at least 4.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the process.
Chief executive Oliver Yates said the fund generated a “reasonable return” for the taxpayer, raising funds at the government rate of about 3.5 per cent and lending under commercial terms at about 7 per cent.
The CEFC aims to at least match last year’s investments this financial year, with many of the projects “very complementary” to the government’s $2.55 billion Direct Action plan to pay polluters, Mr Yates said.
“Our numbers to date are that energy efficiency upgrades to buildings are saving about 45 per cent in energy costs,” Mr Yates said. “The challenge for Direct Action is that you need to fund all the action before you get paid for it, and that comes down to who actually funds these projects.”
In its first year, the CEFC’s investments were split about 60-40 in favour of renewable energy – largely solar – over energy efficiency projects.
Insiders say morale remains high among the 50 or so staff despite the Coalition’s vow to scrap the fund, a move blocked by Labor, the Greens and lately the Palmer United Party.
“It’s a game of snakes and ladders and has been for a while,” Mr Yates said, noting the regular policy shifts including last week’s repeal of the carbon price and uncertainty over the government’s support for large-scale renewable energy target.
Despite that uncertainty, companies and banks continue to line up for new investment, particularly in small-scale solar photovoltaics (PV).
The CEFC announced on Tuesday it will provide as much as $120 million for three new solar PV financing programs, including $70 million for US-based SunEdison. Tindo Solar, the country’s only solar PV panel maker, will also get $20 million in loans.
The fund will also provide up to $80 million as part of a cornerstone investment with a unit of Colonial First State to create Australia’s first unlisted clean energy investment platform for institutional investors. Colonial First State will aim to raise as much as $500 million for investments.
Falling solar PV prices have made panels more attractive for residential and commercial users alike. Globally, solar PV investment fell 22 per cent last year but actual new capacity rose 27 per cent because of tumbling costs, according to the Renewable Energy Policy Network.
Game-changing rooftop solar boom is squeezing the profits out of coal power in Australia http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/rooftop-solar-boom-squeezing-profits-coal-power-autralia.html Michael Graham Richard (@Michael_GR) 14 July 14
Solar power briefly turned electricity prices negative in Queensland Australia is known for its coal, which provides over 80% of its electricity and is a big export, but someday soon it might be known for its solar power. Thanks to rapidly falling solar PV prices, there’s been a rooftop solar boom in Australia. It’s now reaching a point where few coal generators made money last year, and even fewer will make profits this year… Wholesale energy pricing even briefly went negative in the middle of the day (see graph below) recently in the middle of the day in Queensland where there is 1.1 gigawatt of solar spread over more than 350,000 buildings.
Australia as a whole has about 3.4GW on 1.2 million buildings! Eventually, coal won’t be able to compete with solar at any price:
let’s imagine that the wholesale price of electricity fell to zero and stayed there, and that the benefits were passed on to consumers. In effect, that coal-fired energy suddenly became free. Could it then compete with rooftop solar?
The answer is no. Just the network charges and the retailer charges alone add up to more than 19c/kWh, according to estimates by the Australian energy market commissioner. According to industry estimates, solar ranges from 12c/kWh to 18c/kWh, depending on solar resources of the area, Those costs are forecast to come down even further, to around 10c/kWh and lower. (source)
The next step will be for people to get some storage and go off the grid to avoid having to pay these network charges. Australian solar installers are already reporting that “between 15 and 20 per cent of solar customers are asking about storage, and that rate is increasing each month.”
With companies like Tesla having ambitious goals to cut battery prices down over the next few years with gigafactories, the combo of cheap solar PV + cheap battery storage will be hard to beat. Dirty power sources will simply stop being competitive. Australia has lots of sun and high network costs, so it’s at the forefront of this movement. But most other countries will follow at their own pace. The best things we can do to accelerate the switch over to clean energy is to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, create regulation that is more friendly to rooftop solar (net-metering, for example), and put a price on carbon emissions.
Photon to build solar plus storage unit for NSW broadcast tower REneweconmy, By Giles Parkinson on 15 July 2014 German-based solar group Photon Energy is to install a large scale solar plus battery storage hybrid power system at a telecommunications tower in New South Wales that it says could be the fore-runner of thousands of such installations across the country.
The system, to be installed at a broadcast tower operated by BAI near Muswellbrook, will provide 24/7 power through a 39kW solar array and a 215kWh battery storage installation. An 8kW diesel generator will provide standby in emergencies.
Photon Energy says once successfully tested the concept could be implemented on thousands of sites across Australia.
Michael Gartner, the head of Photon Energy‘s Australian operations, said the project was a great step forward“ for solar power to provide clean and economically viable power supply for remote sites.
“The potential for solar PV in the replacement of conventional energy sources is substantial and will bring cost benefits and emissions savings for Australia in the coming years and decades.“
“… We can show how to incorporate solar PV into any given energy system and prove that using abundant sunlight for your own power consumption is the way forward.”……..http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/photon-build-solar-plus-storage-nsw-broadcast-tower-37262
The Carbon Tax Is Dead, Long Live the ..? http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4399 18 July 14 The carbon tax is dead; but don’t expect to see a major difference in power bills – or for too long.
It doesn’t matter that many households were compensated for any impact of the scheme under the Household Assistance Package, or that the carbon tax prevented 11 to 17 million tonnes of carbon emissions.
Nor does it matter higher it resulted in some filthy brown-coal fired power stations being mothballed.
Like it or loathe it, it’s kaput. Spin bettered substance and Thursday’s passing of the repeal turned Australia from a leader to laggard.
“The repeal of Australia’s carbon price is a tragedy, not a triumph” said Michael Raupach Director, Climate Change Institute, Australian National University.
“It flies in the face of three giant realities: human-induced climate change, the proper role of government as a defender of the common good, and the emerging quiet energy-carbon revolution”.
According to the ABC, , consumers can expect to save between 20 and 50 cents each day on their electricity bills now the carbon tax has been repealed.
However, any financial benefit relating to power bills could quickly be eaten up by increases in other charges.For example, in New South Wales, Ausgrid wants increases of around 2 per cent a year over the next five years and TransGrid wants to raise prices by almost 4 per cent – this is just in relation to network charges.
Other states including South Australia have just implemented more electricity price rises. The average South Australian household will pay around $85 a year more.
In Queensland, households were recently hit with a 13.6 per cent increase, expected to cost the average household an extra $190 a year.
Depending what end of the scale of carbon tax savings are to be had, any relief may have already been gobbled up before many will receive their post-carbon tax bill. Anyone planning to do something other than pay power bills with the perceived windfall may need to re-evaluate those plans.
Australian War Memorial should recognise revised Aboriginal death toll: researcher, Brisbane Times July 17, 2014 Cameron Atfield Brisbane Times and Sun-Herald journalist New research that has calculated an Aboriginal death toll of more than 65,000 in Queensland alone during the so-called frontier wars has renewed calls for formal recognition at the Australian War Memorial.
But the AWM in Canberra has dismissed the idea, saying recognition should instead be in the National Museum.
The research, presented to the Australian Historical Association’s Conflict in History conference last week at the University of Queensland, estimated 66,680 deaths between 1788 and 1930.
Of those deaths, 65,180 were indigenous, which is more than six times what was previously thought. The report’s co-author, historian Professor Raymond Evans, said the calculations were based on official records, witnesses’ reports and the number of patrols undertaken by the colonial Queensland government’s Native Police.
Professor Evans said the 65,180 figure was “conservative” and could be as high as 115,000.
“This is just Queensland – imagine what the nation-wide figure could be,” he said.
“If you say it’s a war, you at least allow the fact that Aboriginal people fought hard to defend their lands, so you can say they were warriors and they were fighting for their country. “They were fighting for Australia, for their land.”
Professor Evans said the estimated death toll was at least on a par with Australian casualties during World War I.
“The Australian War Memorial should recognise this as a war. It’s got such a high death rate, it was fought over a long period of time and it was fought between different communities, different nations, for territory,” he said.
“It’s a fight for land and territorial possession and it has many features of warfare and, of course, a huge death rate.” http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/australian-war-memorial-should-recognise-revised-aboriginal-death-toll-researcher-20140716-ztqr6.html#ixzz388vSgyg2
The search for the clean coal holy grail http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/ The Abbott government and a group of investors are pinning their environmental hopes on a clean coal technology that is still in the very early stages of development. Paddy Manning tracks the quest for the clean coal holy grail and investigates the men getting unspeakably rich from the search.
The federal government is pinning its hopes of cleaning up Australia’s electricity sector on a new clean coal technology that is still at the laboratory stage.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has made clear that a key plank of the government’s plan to tackle climate change is reducing emissions from existing black and brown coal-fired power stations……
Ignite Energy Resources, a member of the DICE network, recently recieved a $20 million grant to produce liquid fuel for DICE engines from brown coal, among other things………
photo - Dr John White Executive Director, Ignite Energy Resources
The nuclear war against Australia’s Aboriginal people, Ecologist Jim Green 14th July 2014 Dumping on South Australia “……….The failed attempt to establish a dump at Muckaty followed the failed attempt to establish a dump in South Australia. In 1998, the Howard government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near Woomera in South Australia.
Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu in the 1950s.
The proposed dump generated such controversy in SA that the federal government hired a public relations company. Correspondence between the company and the government was released under Freedom of Information laws.
In one exchange, a government official asked the PR company to remove sand-dunes from a photo to be used in a brochure. The explanation provided by the government official was that: “Dunes are a sensitive area with respect to Aboriginal Heritage”.
The sand-dunes were removed from the photo, only for the government official to ask if the horizon could be straightened up as well. ‘Terra nullius’!
In 2003, the federal government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished with the stroke of a pen. This took place with no forewarning and no consultation with Aboriginal people.
Victory in the Federal Court
The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to ‘get their ears out of their pockets’, and after six years the government did just that.
In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election – after a Federal Court ruling that the federal government had acted illegally in stripping Traditional Owners of their native title rights, and with the dump issue biting politically in SA – the Howard government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan.
The Kungkas wrote in an open letter: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”
The Kungkas victory had broader ramifications – it was a set-back for everyone who likes the idea of stripping Aboriginal people of their land and their land rights, and it was a set-back for the nuclear power lobby.
Senator Nick Minchin, one of the Howard government ministers in charge of the failed attempt to impose a nuclear dump in SA, said in 2005:
“My experience with dealing with just low-level radioactive waste from our research reactor tells me it would be impossible to get any sort of consensus in this country around the management of the high-level waste a nuclear [power] reactor would produce.”
Minchin told a Liberal Party council meeting that “we must avoid being lumbered as the party that favours nuclear energy in this country” and that “we would be political mugs if we got sucked into this”…….. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2476704/the_nuclear_war_against_australias_aboriginal_people.html
Cr Veitch, who will address an anti-uranium protest rally in Townsville later this month, said he believed that aside from the “extreme consequences” for Townsville if something went wrong at the mine, it could invite terrorists into our backyard.
“There is a risk nuclear products could fall into the wrong hands in the Middle East or Eastern Asia,” he said.
Cr Veitch said “there is always that possibility,” that the uranium mine could make Townsville a target for terrorists. Especially with the large military base (at Lavarack).”…….
With any uranium mining operations at Ben Lomond certain to include a highly radioactive tailings dam, he said it was an “impossibility” to ensure safety at the mine in a tropical region prone to cyclones.
“They definitely haven’t been able to contain spills in tropical Australia and I think it would be an impossibility at this location,” he said.
“The State Mining Warden of the time closed it down (in 1981) because they considered it unsafe … what makes it safe now?……
Citizens Against Mining Ben Lomond spokesman David Sewell fears radioactive materials could be transported via the city to the port and then on to the Great Barrier Reef.
The protest march will start at 9.30am on July 27 on the grassed area behind the Picnic Bay Surf Life Saving Club.
Dennis Matthews 18 July 14 Electricity retailers in SA are required by law to pay domestic solar electricity generators only 7.6c a kWh (the minimum retailer payment) and this will automatically decrease to 6c/kWh now that the carbon pricing legislation has been repealed by the Abbott government. Yes, no ifs or buts, automatically!
Given the grossly unequal lobbying and market power of electricity retailers versus domestic solar generators then this can only be described as a travesty. And things are only going to get worse for the household consumer with price increases already flagged by retailers and the monopoly network provider.
Whilst we wait with bated breath to see what happens to what retailers are going to charge us, thanks to Essential Services Commission (ESCOSA), retailers already know that they will pay 20% less to domestic solar generators.
The nuclear war against Australia’s Aboriginal people, Ecologist Jim Green 14th July 2014 Australia’s nuclear industry has a shameful history of ‘radioactive racism’ that dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s, writes Jim Green. The same attitudes have been evident in recent debates over uranium mines and nuclear waste, but Aboriginal peoples are fighting back! The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga in South Australia.
Permission was not sought from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha.
Thousands of people were adversely affected and the impact on Aboriginal people was particularly profound.
Many Aboriginal people suffered from radiological poisoning. There are tragic accounts of families sleeping in the bomb craters. So-called ‘Native Patrol Officers’ patrolled thousands of square kilometres to try to ensure that Aboriginal people were removed before nuclear tests took place – with little success.
‘Ignorance, incompetence and cynicism’
The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety was characterised by“ignorance, incompetence and cynicism”. Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their homelands and taken to places such as the Yalata mission in South Australia, which was effectively a prison camp.
In the late-1990s, the Australian government carried out a clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear test site. It was done on the cheap and many tonnes of debris contaminated with kilograms of plutonium remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology.
As nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the ‘clean-up’ on ABC radio in August 2002: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.”
Barely a decade after the ‘clean-up’, a survey revealed that 19 of the 85 contaminated debris pits had been subject to erosion or subsidence. The half-life of plutonium-239 is 24,100 years.
Despite the residual contamination, the Australian government off-loaded responsibility for the land onto the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners.
The government portrayed this land transfer as an act of reconciliation, but the real agenda was spelt out in a 1996 government document which states that the ‘clean-up’ was “aimed at reducing Commonwealth liability arising from residual contamination.” ………..http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2476704/the_nuclear_war_against_australias_aboriginal_people.html
American scientists have just confirmed that parts of Australia are being slowly parched because of greenhouse gas emissions.
A report in Nature Geoscience shows that the long-term decline in rainfall over south and south-west Australia is a consequence of fossil fuel burning and depletion of the ozone layer by human activity. Such a finding is significant for two reasons. One remains contentious: it is one thing to make generalised predictions about the consequences overall of greenhouse gas levels, but it is quite another to pin a measured regional climatic shift directly on human causes, rather than some possible as-yet-unidentified natural cycle of climatic change.
The other is contentiously political.
Australia’s prime minister, Tony Abbott, has in the past dismissed climate science as “crap”, and more recently has cut back on Australian research spending.
Bush fires and catastrophic flooding
Australia has already experienced a pattern of heat waves and drought - punctuated by catastrophic flooding – and even now, in the Australian winter, New South Wales is being hit by bush fires.
Tom Delworth, a research scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reports in Nature Geoscience that he and a colleague conducted a series of long-term climate simulations to study changes in rainfall across the globe.
One striking pattern of change emerged in Australia, where winter and autumn rainfall patterns are increasingly a cause of distress for farmers and growers in two states.
The simulation showed that the decline in rainfall was primarily a response to man-made increases in greenhouse gases, as well as to a thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer in response to emissions of destructive gases by human sources.
The computer simulations tested a series of possible causes for this decline, such as volcanic eruptions and changes in solar radiation. But the only cause that made sense of the observed data was the greenhouse explanation.
It began in 1970, and it hasn’t stopped yet
South Australia has never been conspicuously lush and wet, but decline in precipitation set in around 1970, and this decline has increased in the last four decades.
The simulations predict that the decline will go on, and that average rainfall will drop by 40% over south-west Australia later this century.
Dr Delworth described his model as “a major step forward in our effort to improve the prediction of regional climate change”.
In May, scientists proposed that greenhouse gas emissions were responsible for a change in Southern Ocean wind patterns, which in turn resets the thermostat for the world’s largest island.
Australian scientists report in Geophysical Research Letters that they, too, have been using climate models to examine Antarctic wind patterns and their possible consequences for the rest of the planet.
Another consequence: accelerated ice sheet melt
“When we included projected Antarctic wind shifts in a detailed global ocean model, we found water up to 4°C warmer than current temperatures rose up to meet the base of the Antarctic ice shelves”, said Paul Spence, a researcher at Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. This temperature rise is twice previous estimates.
“This relatively warm water provides a huge reservoir of melt potential right near the grounding lines of ice shelves around Antarctica. It could lead to a massive increase in the rate of ice sheet melt, with direct consequences for global sea level rise.”
Since the West Antarctic ice sheet holds enough water to raise sea levels by 3.3 metres, the consequences would indeed be considerable.
“When we first saw the results it was quite a shock”, said Dr Spence. “It was one of the few cases where I hoped the science was wrong.”
Australia’s carbon tax abolition draws international criticism Oliver Milman Guardian, 18 July 14 Al Gore calls it a ‘disappointing step’ and European Union says world is moving towards carbon pricing initiatives Australia’s repeal of the carbon price has provoked a largely negative reaction overseas, with former US vice president Al Gore calling it a “disappointing step”.
Gore said Thursday’s abolition of the mechanism means that “Australia is falling behind other major industrialised nations in the growing global effort to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a clean and prosperous future”.
“[It is] a disappointing step for a country that continues to experience the worsening consequences of the climate crisis.”
Gore, who appeared alongside Clive Palmer in a bizarre press conference in June to iterate the Palmer United party’s position on the carbon price, said be was encouraged by the support for the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Climate Change Authority.
“These programs are examples of Australia’s long and continued excellence in combating the climate crisis, and must continue,” Gore said. He added that he was “hopeful” that Australia would adopt an emissions trading scheme (ETS), as advanced by Labor and, in a radically watered down form, by Palmer.
Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s climate commissioner, also voiced disappointment at the carbon price repeal.
“The European Union regrets the repeal of Australia’s carbon pricing mechanism just as new carbon pricing initiatives are emerging all around the world,” she said.
“The EU is convinced that pricing carbon is not only the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions, but also the tool to make the economic paradigm shift the world needs.
“This is why the EU will continue to work towards global carbon pricing with all international partners.”
The European Union has had an emissions trading scheme in place since 2005. The scheme, which covers around 45% of total greenhouse emissions from the 28 EU countries, was due to be linked to Australia’s own emissions trading scheme, but this will now not happen………http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/18/australia-carbon-tax-abolition-international-criticism