Pro nuclear spin hides the real motive behind South Australia’s Royal Commission – a nuclear waste import industry
When announcing the commission last month, SA Premier Jay Weatherill said it would “explore the opportunities and risks of South Australia’s involvement in the mining, enrichment, energy and storage phases for the peaceful use of nuclear energy”.
The move caught many by surprise, not least federal opposition leader Bill Shorten, who – unlike his Labor colleague Weatherill – remains opposed to nuclear.
The announcement also generated huge amounts of free PR for the nuclear industry, as shown in the avalanche of media coverage that ensued – some deliberately balanced, some sceptical of the commission and its value, but much of it highly favourable, especially in the business press.
It is not hard to see why. As Naomi Klein contends, nuclear power is an industrial technology, organised in a corporate manner. And as psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton points out, no technology does more to underline humanity’s dominion over nature than our ability to split the atom.
The positive spin Continue reading
I’m hoping you will support us with this very important issue which has arisen from SA Goverenment regarding a Royal Commission into Nuclear Energy and proposal to store high-level nuclear waste at Maralinga, South Australia
Please read. With thanks, Yami Lester, Yankunytjatjara Walatinna Station, South Australia (08) 8670 5077
Statement on Royal Commission into Nuclear Energy and proposal to store high-level nuclear waste at Maralinga, South Australia:
In 1953 I was just ten years old when the bombs went off at Emu and Maralinga, I
didn’t know anything about nuclear issues back then, none of us knew what was happening. I got sick, and went blind from the fallout from those tests, and lot of our people got sick and died also.
Now I’m 73 years old and I know about nuclear issues, and I have some friends who know about nuclear waste, and they will fight the South Australian Government on their plans to put high-level nuclear waste at Maralinga and to develop nuclear energy in South Australia.
Why does the government keep bringing back nuclear issues when we know the problems last forever?
The Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia (1984-85) revealed
what happened at Maralinga but it never told what happened to Aboriginal people; the findings were left open.Lawyers proved that there was radiation fallout over Walatinna, but because wenever had any doctors records to document what happened to us, (the closest clinic was Ernabella, 160km away as the crow flys and we didn’t have any transport to get there), we only had our stories and they were never written down.
A few years ago they cleaned up Maralinga from the waste that was leftover from the bomb tests; they spent $1 million, and now they’re going to put more waste back there?
That’s not fair because it’s Anangu land and they won’t be able to use that land.
Members from the APY, Maralinga-Tjarutja and Arabunna, Kokatha lands say we don’t want nuclear waste on our land.
The best thing the government can do is the leave the uranium in the ground, stop mining it.
We ask the South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, to talk to Aboriginal people on the lands, and to everyone who has been directly affected by the atomic tests and nuclear industry in Australia before he makes any decisions for South Australia.
What Macfarlane is essentially saying here is, ‘take my offer or I’ll leave you with scheme that we will make clear to investors does not have Coalition Party support.
And in the event that it looks like the target will not be met, we will use that as a mechanism to overcome Senate obstruction to cut the scheme back by even more than what is currently on the table’
Macfarlane threatens: take my RET deal or else, Climate Spectator TRISTAN EDIS 27 FEB 15 , The confusing saga on the Renewable Energy Target continues with Environment Minister Greg Hunt sounding optimistic (as he seems to be about everything) that there will shortly be an agreement on the level of the target, and one that he said will “go significantly further” than 20% market share for renewable energy. Meanwhile Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane on the same day delivered a message of a rather more belligerent and less optimistic tone. Continue reading
Will South Australia’s Royal Commission be genuinely independent, or just excuse for importing radioactive trash?
If the Royal Commission brings a genuine spirit of independence and rigour, and is willing to take evidence on the nuclear sector’s performance in Australia and overseas, the report will provide a valuable contribution to domestic energy and industry policy.
An inquiry into how to get to zero emissions electricity as cheaply and rapidly as possible would have made a far more timely and valuable contribution to debates over energy policy and rebooting South Australia’s manufacturing sector than another rake through the slowly cooling ashes of the nuclear dream. Nonetheless, the lid has been lifted once again, and we can only hope that the Royal Commissioner is willing to take an unblinking look at the evidence, so that the failed hopes and broken promises of the atomic age can be set to rest once and for all
the probability that this whole exercise is designed to build the case for a national or international radioactive waste dump.
Nuclear Industry On Trial? Scott Ludlam Hopes So, New Matilda, 26 Feb 15 The debate about nuclear power in South Australia needs to be had, if only to put the issue to bed once and for all, writes Scott Ludlam.
At first glance, the decision to call a Royal Commission into nuclear technology in South Australia seems like a curious aberration from the ‘Yes Minister’ rule of inquiries: never call one unless you know in advance what it will tell you.
At the outset of this most polarising of debates, I’d like to propose a truce; particularly with those whose pro-nuclear views are motivated by the overwhelming imperative of climate change. If we respect that not all nuclear advocates intend to contaminate the gene pool and plunge us into nuclear winter, I’d ask in return that you consider the possibility that the anti-nuclear case is based on rational assessment of risks and performance, rather than pure emotion as is sometimes asserted.
For those whose motivation is a safe climate, this is a disagreement over means, not ends. Continue reading
Local mayor unhappy with city counterpart’s nuclear comments, The Transcontinental, 27 Feb 15 Port Augusta has been suggested as a “convenient” site for a nuclear reactor, just weeks after the state government announced it will establish a Royal Commission into nuclear power in SA.
Port Augusta mayor Sam Johnson is not happy, saying the suggestion treats those living in regional areas like Port Augusta as second-rate citizens……
Port Augusta mayor Sam Johnson said he’s open to an informed debate on nuclear power, but hit fiercely back at the Port Adelaide mayor’s comments, labelling the idea a “cop out”. (picture from The Transcontinental )
He said there’s no reason to consider putting nuclear power in Port Augusta, given the city is already leading the way in renewable energy.
“Why in the hell would we want nuclear power in Port Augusta when we’ve done so much work on renewable energy, in particular the solar thermal plant?” Mr Johnson questioned.
“We’ve had international experts actually say to us, why isn’t the government in Australia exploring renewable energy such as solar thermal given we have the best geographical climate in the world to do it?
“If the government wants to talk about nuclear, fine, happy to talk about it – but we’re already heading down a successful path…they can go and build the nuclear power plant in Unley or Norwood for all I care.”
Repower Port Augusta chairperson Gary Rowbottom suggested nuclear power is a higher risk option than renewable energy, and doesn’t see why it’s worth exploring when there’s a better option on the table for the city.
“Our current belief is that it is simply not required to take the risks and overcome all the implementation difficulties involved in ‘going nuclear’,” Mr Rowbottom said.
“We can substitute a suite of proven and developing renewable technologies in place of any need to go down the nuclear path…the commercial, health and environmental risks of nuclear are too high to justify it.
“It can be taken as somewhat offensive that the Port Adelaide/Enfield areas (Mr Johanson) are clearly saying that they are not prepared to have a nuclear reactor in their area but it is ideal and more convenient for Port Augusta to have one.”……
What do you think about having a nuclear reactor in Port Augusta?
Send your thoughts to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.transcontinental.com.au/story/2903676/local-mayor-unhappy-with-city-counterparts-nuclear-comments/
End is nigh for NT environmental advocacy groups as funding runs out, ABC News 26 Feb 15 By Elliana Lawford Two environmental advocacy groups in the Northern Territory are set to close as government funding cuts announced last year start to bite.
The Environment Centre NT (ECNT) has told the ABC a number of staff were laid off last week and the centre has limited their operating hours from five to three days a week.
The organisation has led campaigns against uranium mining, pollution, gas exploration and water extraction licences. ECNT chair Tony Young said he was worried there would be no-one to fight for environmental issues in the Northern Territory if the centre closed.
“If there is no independent voice to point these things out then the problems continue and they are exacerbated,” he said. “The range and complexity of the environmental problems the Northern Territory faces really deserves a properly funded, independent, science-based voice … that’s what is in danger.”
The ECNT lost $185,000 in last year’s Territory budget.
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is also struggling and has announced it will close on June 30, after it lost $450,000 in Federal Government funding. EDO chair Kirsty Howey said the office could not operate without financial help.
“With the cutting of federal funding at the EDO, we are looking at shutting the doors on June 30 this year,” she said.
“We just don’t have the money to survive any longer.”
NT Environment Minister Gary Higgins said he was unperturbed by the looming closures of the ECNT and the EDO……..
Labor spokeswoman Nicole Manison said both organisations were needed in the community.
“We need to have a full and independent voice for the government out there in the community,” she said.
“They bring up some pretty tough issues for governments and a good government would actually listen to them.”
Both organisations are still trying to secure independent funding that could delay their closures. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-26/environment-agencies-nt-for-the-chop/6262720
Nuclear Industry On Trial? Scott Ludlam Hopes So, New Matilda, 26 Feb 15 “……The unthinkable consequences of a well-executed terrorist attack on an operating reactor or high-level waste store keep national security planners awake at night, with the potential for nuclear power plants to be used as pre-deployed radiological weapons by those with malevolent intent.
It seems likely that in the face of this evidence, the Royal Commission will see the industry play its last remaining card: an invitation to set aside the actual performance of existing reactors and imagine the potential of a new generation of nuclear technology: safe, clean, reliable, cheap, modular, proliferation-proof; reactors that consume only nuclear waste and emit only unicorn dust.
Forgive the scepticism: no-one has ever come remotely close to designing and building such a device, and commercial application of imaginary Generation IV reactors lies well over an indefinitely receding horizon; always just a few more years and decades away.
Perhaps more to the point, it may be that there are simpler ways to boil water or induce electrons to flow down a wire than the absurdity of plutonium-burning fission reactors cooled by liquid sodium.
Turning to face the timeless abundance of free solar energy presents a much simpler way forward. It is time that advocates of terrestrial nuclear power instead used their efforts to advocate for better use of the celestial nuclear reactor that sustains rather than threatens life on Earth.
The very qualities of scale, baseload delivery and centralisation that so appealed to energy planners of the 1950s make nuclear technology uniquely unsuited to the realities of the 21st century.
Emerging industrial economies like India, Africa and China’s rural hinterlands are vastly better served by decentralised renewable generators feeding local or regional-scale microgrids.
The plunging costs of solar, wind and micro-hydro generators are combining with cheap, decentralised energy storage technology – driven largely by developments in the IT and automotive industries – to drive the final nail into the fallen potential of nuclear power.
In March 2013 the cover and feature piece of the Economist magazine put the case succinctly: Nuclear Power – the dream that failed.
For the indefinite future, there will still be a need for reliable, dispatchable utility-scale power plants, but even here clean-technology has emerged to checkmate atomic energy: large-scale concentrating solar thermal plants have come online in Spain and the United States, paving the way for vastly more ambitious developments in South America and the Middle East combining cheap photovoltaics with heliostat fields heating overnight molten salt energy storage.https://newmatilda.com/2015/02/26/nuclear-industry-trial-scott-ludlam-hopes-so
Will anyone take this Royal Commission seriously?
Focus on Mining expansion only
No mention of old mines and contaminated areas
No mention of water issues- huge supply required for reactor and risks of contamination of waterways and aquifers. SA is a dry state.
Opportunity cost of focussing on nuclear industry instead of becoming world leader in renewables
Ignores high cost of nuclear power compared to other sources
Large subsidies needed from government preventing spending on other important issues
Lack of financial/professional conflict of interest declarations being required from all witnesses and commission members
No mention of health impacts of radiation
No provision for how state would respond to Fukushima type scenario from accident/deliberate damage
No mention of possible impacts on SA tourism, food and wine exports (especially fisheries)
Vast majority of medical waste has a very short period of radioactivity and is not the main reason for a dump.
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.
Greens’ Clean, Renewable Energy Vision For NSW http://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/greens-renewable-energy-em4699/ February 24, 2015
Coal and gas fired electricity generation in NSW generates 60 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, making the state one of the most carbon-intensive economies in the world.
The Greens’ plan includes partnering with households to support the transition away from coal-fired electricity and gas to rooftop solar, energy efficient equipment and intelligent energy trading and management.
The plan would see the creation of public sector energy agencies to provide financial support and technical advice, investment in a “smart grid” and keeping the network in public hands.
“Transformation of the state’s energy industry is inevitable,” stated Greens NSW MP John Kaye, who said it was important this process begins as soon as possible. “Premier Mike Baird’s plans will to pass control of much of the electricity network to private hands would create political and financial barriers to the remaking of the network.”
The Greens say their energy vision would slash household power bills and break the stranglehold of big private-sector energy corporations. They envision an electricity sector where households and businesses would trade roof top solar electricity and other renewable sources across a publicly-owned network.
Pursuing a 100% renewable energy based New South Wales would also create a clean power jobs boom. While there are just 1,800 jobs in NSW’s coal-fired power stations and approximately 4,000 in mining the coal these facilities burn, more than 70,000 new jobs could be created in NSW in clean energy.
The Greens state much of the $17 billion investment in electricity transmission and distribution since 2009 in New South Wales has been in the wrong kind of technology, locking the state into a centralised and expensive supply based on coal and gas.
“A 100% renewable energy NSW is possible, affordable and essential. But it will not happen as long as the old parties remain committed to coal and gas and continue to frustrate and undermine wind and solar,” says the party.
Given that Australia’s uranium mining and export accounts for less than 1 percent of its hundred billion dollar mineral export business (iron ore, bauxite, coal, copper, nickel etc),36 however, these decisions by Australian leaders risked significant political capital over what has been a highly contentious issue in Australia’s recent political history
Undermining Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Energy and Security Politics in the Australia-India-Japan-U.S. Nuclear Nexus 核不拡散の土台崩し オーストラリア·インド·日本·米国間におけるエネルギーと安全保障政策 The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 46, No. 2, November 1, 2014 Adam Broinowski “……Until 2014, along with China, Japan has also seen a boom in mostly solar and wind electricity generation. But this has been stalled by utilities who have refused to take an influx of renewable power into the grid or to reduce electricity prices.10 With fewer nuclear plants scheduled for construction around the world than for shutdown, however, the nuclear industry faces the likely prospect of contraction11 and replacement by rapidly advancing renewable energy options, including solar, wind, tidal, hydro and possibly geothermal power over the longer term.
Despite this gloomy prognosis for the uranium sector, confidence began to return to the uranium mining industry in Australia from late 2012. Continue reading
OK – Now it has turned up on http://yoursay.sa.gov.au/blogs/draft-terms-of-reference
The Premier’s media release says that you can find the Terms of Reference at www.yoursay.sa.gov.au.
I couldn’t find anything there about the subject. Perhaps later?
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
Nuclear royal commission draft terms of reference announced by SA Premier Jay Weatherill http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-23/nuclear-royal-commission-terms-of-reference-jay-weatherill/6224192 South Australia’s nuclear royal commission is to inquire into enrichment, storage of waste and power generation, but not uranium mining.
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.
SA 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:
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.
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.
(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: ……..https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/sa-nuclear-royal-commission-a-farce,7399
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.
Nuclear Energy Is Dirty, Unsafe And Uneconomic: Environmental Scientist https://newmatilda.com/2015/02/21/nuclear-energy-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