Australian news, and some related international items

Greens ready for #NuclearCommissionSAust report “all about waste dumping”

greens“It’s all about the dump”: Greens gear up for nuclear war, IN Daily, 12 Feb 16 The South Australian Greens are preparing for a sustained public relations assault from next week, in the assumption that the Royal Commission into the state’s nuclear fuel cycle will recommend the viability of a nuclear waste dump. The commission, headed by former Governor Kevin Scarce, will detail its “tentative findings” on Monday morning, preceding another round on consultation.

Greens MLC Mark Parnell told InDaily the party had prepared a variety of options for leaflets and online material, with staff “putting out a call to Greens members for volunteers to hand out flyers”.

“What we’re doing is trying to anticipate what the Royal Commission might come up with, so there will be no surprises that the waste dump is front and foremost in our thinking,” Parnell said.

“That’s on the basis that nuclear power is incredibly expensive and slow [so] they might recommend it but I always thought that was less likely. The processing and value-adding stuff – my understanding is economically it doesn’t stack up [and] of all the different things they’re looking at, it keeps coming back to the dump.”

He said insiders he had spoken to insist “it’s all about the dump”.

“That’s the impression that we’ve had since about a week after the Royal Commission was announced, once the terms of reference were announced… but we’re preparing for a few different scenarios so we can respond on Monday,” he said.

“We have several different versions ready to go.”

He said his party’s position on nuclear waste storage “hasn’t really changed over the past many years”, and suggested Labor should maintain the position it took in 2004, when it went to the High Court to kill off a federal proposal to establish a repository at Woomera. Continue reading

February 12, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Senator Scott Ludlam backs 6 Australian communities opposing nuclear waste dump

Ludlam-in-SenateGreens senator wants towns off shortlist for waste dump site    A Greens senator has backed six Australian communities campaigning to stop a nuclear waste dump being established in their areas. The Weekly, Mudgee, NSW, 10 Feb 

Scott Ludlam addressed the Upper House on Thursday, drawing his colleagues’ attention to the strong opposition to the proposed waste dumps in Hill End; at Omanama in Queensland; Hale in the Northern Territory; and Cortlinye, Pinkawillinie and Barndioota in South Australia. e
 He moved that the Senate calls on the federal government to:
  • Acknowledge the opposition and lack of community support at all six sites, respect previous commitments on non-imposition and the importance of community consent, and remove all six sites from further consideration.
  • Initiate a genuinely independent inquiry to investigate long-term stewardship options for spent fuel, reprocessing waste, and other categories of radioactive waste, including drawing on international examples and experience.
  • Investigate options for active waste minimisation, including increased use of non-reactor based methods for radioisotope production.
  •  Clearly reaffirm policy and legislative prohibitions on the importation and disposal of international radioactive waste.
 Mr Ludlam’s call came just days after Calare MP John Cobb spoke in the House of Representatives about the level of opposition to the proposed waste dump in his own electorate. “The Hill End community … are, and will remain, united against the establishment of such a facility,” Mr Cobb said in parliament. “Hill End have requested that they be immediately ruled out and not have to wait until March for the government’s response as to which communities might continue dialogue over the placement of the facility.
“Minister Frydenberg has stated that those communities that the government will continue discussions with will be announced some time after March 11. I ask for the voices of Hill End to be listened to.”
Bathurst Regional Council also took a stand against the proposed dump last week, calling on the government to remove Hill End from the short list of sites before the March 11 deadline.

February 12, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Senator Edwards’ fantasy of free nuclear electricity for South Australia

Free nuclear power is a fantasy: Report new report from The Australia Institute shows that a proposal to establish a global nuclear waste industry in South Australia would fail to secure 90% of the imported waste, leaving an expensive and risky legacy for the state.

The report was commissioned by the Conservation Council of South Australia to analyse the submission to the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission by Liberal Senator Sean Edwards. The Royal Commission is due to release tentative results next week.

“The Edwards plan is deeply flawed. It is a plan funded by taking thousands of tonnes of nuclear waste, but would fail to process over 90% of that waste, leaving it to future generations to deal with,” said report author, The Australia Institute’s Dan Gilchrist.

Senator Edwards is proposing that South Australia imports 60,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel from other countries, and then leaves most of it, 56,000 tonnes, in dry cask storage which is designed for temporary use.


Report: The impossible dream: Free electricity sounds too good to be true. It is.

“The plan relies on technology that has never been deployed commercially – not with all the expertise in France or Germany or Japan or the United States.

“Indeed, logically, if a viable solution emerges, other countries will no longer pay Australia billions to hand over the waste.

“The plan fails to consider a basic economic principle: if Australia can generate free electricity – why wouldn’t other countries?

“Nothing in the plan explains what our great-great grandchildren are meant to do with this legacy. Indeed, the plan never mentions the leftover waste, as if it was not worth worrying about. Worse, all the money is spent in the first 50-60 years. Nothing is left to deal with the leftover waste.

“In many ways it is like a vastly complex loan. Australia will ‘borrow’ many billions of dollars, spend the lot, and leave it to future generations to pay it back. Indeed, a loan would be better, since it would not require South Australia to store tens of thousands of tonnes of radioactive material in the meantime.

“It is no wonder that Senator Edwards has been able to promise free electricity and reduced taxes. He is spending someone else’s money. Eventually, however, the piper must be paid.”

February 12, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Senator Sean Edwards’ Impossible Nuclear Dream

Edwards,-Sean-trashThe impossible dream: Free electricity sounds too good to be true. It is. A new report from The Australia Institute shows that a proposal to establish a global nuclear waste industry in South Australia would fail to secure 90% of the imported waste, leaving an expensive and risky legacy for the state.

The report was commissioned by the Conservation Council of South Australia to analyse the submission to the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission by Liberal Senator Sean Edwards. The Royal Commission is due to release tentative results next week.

Senator Edwards is proposing that South Australia imports 60,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel from other countries, and then leaves most of it, 56,000 tonnes, in dry cask storage which is designed for temporary use.

February 11, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Companies like AGL waiting for government clarity on renewable energy policy

highly-recommendedAGL puts an each-way bet on renewable energy, The Age February 11, Turnbull climate 2 faced2016  AGL:Environmental terrorist or evangelist? Take your pick but financial pragmatist is probably the best description.

The fact is that this company makes most of its earnings off the back of carbon producing coal-fired energy production and is using the proceeds to seed a $3 billion renewable energy fund that will invest in clean sources of power like solar and wind.

There is nothing new age environmentally conscious in this. Like any corporation that is looking to maximise returns, AGL (like several others) understands that the writing is on the wall for the the production of dirty energy – in the longer term. Thus it is making an each-way bet on the future.

Make no mistake, companies like AGL make investment decisions primarily with reference to investment returns rather than environmental outcomes – regardless of the rhetoric. This is the company that last week announced it was winding down its interest in the coal seam gas industry.

Once again it was influenced by community uproar and protests about fracking in their back yards but the decision was one centred on the the gas supply/demand equation and the capital costs of firming up an unreliable coal seam gas resource……..

Renewables tipped to pay off

Longer term it is clear that AGL is taking a punt that the balance will ultimately move between clean renewable energy and the dirty stuff which earns its healthy profits today – hence this week’s creations of the renewables fund.

One of its existing clean energy assets will be effectively vended into this new renewables fund…….

To really move the dial towards producing cleaner energy, companies like AGL need stronger support from the government which under the Abbott government gave them little certainty about how much support and financial incentive would be given to green policies.

And AGL is the first to admit that the changes in government policies over the past 4 -5 years has made investment decisions difficult.

Ultimately AGL, which is the country’s largest generator, its largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the largest builder and operator of renewable energy is a particularly important part of the conversation about Australia’s energy use and generation.

And as such the allocation of its investment should exert some influence on government policy. But it is limited in how fulsome any commitment to investment in clean energy can be until it can be secure with the level and the timing it will receive from legislators. :

February 11, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy, politics | Leave a comment

South Australia – decision on nuclear expansion at end of 2016

South-Australia-nuclearSA govt to hold off on nuclear call South Australia’s government won’t decide whether to expand its nuclear industry until the end of the year, despite a royal commission preparing to release tentative findings.

Former governor Kevin Scarce will on Monday reveal his initial response to whether SA should play a bigger role in the mining, enrichment, energy and storage aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle before releasing his final report on May 6.

Premier Jay Weatherill told parliament on Tuesday that the government will consult with the community and the Commonwealth and provide its response before the end of the sitting year in December.

February 10, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill’s Statement to Parliament on Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission

Weatherill glowPremier Jay Weatherill tabled a Statement (9/02/16) outlining the progress and next steps for the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain (sorry, they call it “Cycle”) Royal Commission.

Following the release on February 15, of its “tentative findings“, the Commission will hold  a five week “comment period”, during which  public meetings will be held in:

Adelaide, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Whyalla, Port Lincoln, Mt Gambier, Ceduna, Renmark, and Aboriginal communities in the Far North and West Coast.

On 6 May, the Commission will present its final report.

Next – community discussion between May and August.

“Once we have the findings, I would anticipate some engagement with the Commonwealth Government about the final report” 

Then “a period of decision making where Government will need to assess the evidence gathered by the Commission, and the feedback from the community before outlining its full response to the Royal Commission

I expect to provide a full response to the Royal Commission to the Parliament before the end of sitting this year.”


February 10, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Rural Australia loses climate science guidance from CSIRO

Martin McDonald: Climate change has not been answered for farmers – we need more information, not less
Cuts to the CSIRO’s climate and land and water research will make finding solutions – and making milk Australian families can afford – ever more difficult

Turnbull climate 2 facedCanberra Times Editorial: CSIRO a chance for PM to lead on climate
Malcolm Turnbull should give the research organisation with a little more room to breathe.

Mel Fitzpatrick: Job cuts threaten to sink science
CLIMATE research community fears Australia’s highly regarded programs are at risk

February 10, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australian Government cuts climate science jobs at CSIRO

Map Turnbull climateCSIRO climate scientists speak out about job cuts
As the boss of the CSIRO continues to defend his planned restructure, senior climate scientists have spoken out about their fears. A Chief Research Scientist has told PM Australia risks losing world-leading research capabilities. Another says climate work that helps with weather prediction, ocean rescue, defence capabilities and natural disaster prediction is under a cloud.

CSIRO staff ponder ­industrial action over climate shake-up

CSIRO’s staff body has taken steps towards industrial action as the fallout from the restructure continues.


CSIRO cuts criticised by senior UK climate scientist – don’t stop the underpinning science
A senior climate scientist at the UK national weather service has criticised the proposed job cuts at the CSIRO, which will reduce the organisation’s capacity to monitor climate change.

Michael Slezak: CSIRO climate cuts attack a national treasure when we need it most
Chief executive Larry Marshall is right that we need to invest in adaptation, but this requires a proper understanding of how the climate will change


John Birmingham: Blunt Instrument: CSIRO cuts bring Australia global fame for choosing stupid
From the earliest days of the penal colony the journals of the First Fleet officers remarked upon the weird, often violent climatic changes that made survival in the antipodes such a fraught, contingent affair.

February 10, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

​Calm heads and clear information needed on nuclear medicine and waste claims 

Medical Association for the Prevention of War, 5 Feb 16 Media reports today linking continued access to nuclear medicine to the development of a new national nuclear waste facility do not correctly reflect the situation or advance considered discussion of these issues, according to leading national public health group the Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW).
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), which runs the Lucas Heights reactor, has increased pressure on the waste dump selection process by saying it will run out of storage capacity by early 2017, and will have to stop making medical isotopes for nuclear medicine use. This statement omits many facts. 
ANSTO has quietly decided to develop a reactor based export industry for medical isotopes, to supply 30% of the world market. This plan, made with no public debate or inquiry, would very significantly increase waste from reactor use. 
In contrast, Canada had an extensive public review of its reactor production in 2009, and decided it did not wish to continue using a reactor to produce isotopes. Reasons included lack of reliable supply (reactors only operate 80% of the year, and do break down from time to time), expense to the taxpayer of the production, and the burden of nuclear waste left in Canada due to international use. 
Medical isotope production
The Canadians have developed proven methods of isotope production using cyclotrons (which does not generate reactor waste), with a successful pilot in January 2015. They are now in the process of scaling up and getting regulatory approvals for this, and look to be able to supply Canada in the next 3-5 years. 
It should be noted that using medical isotope produces extremely little waste. It is reactor production of isotopes that needs public debate and scrutiny. 
We can continue with ANSTO’s business plan, and export to supply the world market. This will leave Australia with vastly increased burden of nuclear waste from international nuclear medicine use, and is the more expensive option.
We can return to business as usual supplying Australia, which means we produce isotopes less than one day a week (not five days a week), with a subsequent major decrease in radioactive waste. This would enable all parties to plan world’s best practice storage in a rational and calm manner. We could further partner with Canada and work to develop cyclotron production of isotopes at commercial scale in Australia. 
This is cheaper and more reliable than reactor production, and does not leave communities, taxpayers and future generations with a nuclear waste burden that will last for millennia. And unlike a nuclear reactor, it poses almost no accident, proliferation or terrorist risks. We do not need to choose between access to nuclear medicine and the time and processes needed to advance responsible radioactive waste management. 

February 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into Lucas Heights Nuclear Waste Management Facilities

Upgrade and extension of radioactive waste management facilities at Lucas Heights House of Representatives, Parliament of Australia, 5 Feb 16 
text-wise-owlThe Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works today announced that it is conducting an inquiry into the upgrade and extension of radioactive waste management facilities for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

ANSTO’s submission notes that current storage facilities will reach full capacity early in 2017 and although locations for a new facility are being considered, the new facility is not expected to be operational until 2020.

The inquiry will examine existing low and intermediate-level solid waste facilities at Lucas Heights that require extension and upgrade, with extension works for the low-level solid waste facilities expected to be completed by April 2017, and works for the intermediate-level facilities to be completed by June 2018.

In addition to upgrading and extending storage capacity, works will include upgrading ventilation and security systems, electrical infrastructure and surrounding roads.The estimated cost of the project is $22.3 million and it is anticipated that the Committee will conduct public and in-camera hearings for the inquiry in the near future.

Further information on the public hearing will be available soon on theCommittee’s website.

Submissions to the inquiry close on 10 March 2016.

NB the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works is neither involved in the tendering process nor the awarding of contracts. Enquiries on those matters should be addressed to ANSTO.

For media comment – Office of Senator Dean Smith (Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works) (08) 9481 0349 Committee Secretariat (02) 6277 4636Full details on the project are available on the Committee’s website.


February 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Queensland government rejects any nuclear waste dump plan

Queensland--antinukeQueensland says ‘no’ to national radioactive dump plan February 3, 2016 senior reporter The Palaszczuk government has ruled out supporting any plan to build a national radioactive waste storage facility anywhere in Queensland.

That includes Oman Ama, the small town on the Cunningham Highway between Inglewood and Warwick, where a private landowner had put forward his property as a potential radioactive waste site.

Information from the Australian government project confirms intermediate-level radioactive waste would be “temporarily” stored at the chosen facility for many years, while the majority of radioactive waste would be low-level.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says intermediate-level radioactive waste “contains higher radioactivity levels than low level waste. It requires shielding when handled. Intermediate level waste – generated during operation of a nuclear power plant – consists mostly of ion exchange resins used to clean the water circulating through the reactor.”

Queensland has now written to the Australian government and asked that all potential Queensland radioactive waste storage sites be removed from the Australian government’s shortlist of six potential sites.

This was revealed in a letter on January 25, 2016, written on behalf of State Development Minister Anthony Lynham, to one of the opponents of the proposed radioactive waste dump.

Private land holder Gordon Donovan – who owns land at Oman Oma, suggested his property as a radioactive dump. The federal government has offered $10 million for the community which is eventually chosen to accept the waste.

The January 25 2016 letter, from Dr Lynham’s policy advisor, says the Queensland government will not support “in any circumstances” a radioactive waste storage facility in Queensland.

I wish to advise that the Queensland government does not support, in any circumstances, anywhere in Queensland being utilised for radioactive waste storage,” the letter says.

“Minister Lynham has specifically written to the Honourable Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, asking that he remove Queensland sites from the Australian government’s shortlist for the storage of radioactive waste.”

The decision was welcomed by Bob Morrish, from the lobby group Friends of Oman Ama which is effectively southern Darling Downs grazing land with a single service station.

“It is very heartening to us to see that the state government will back their legislation dating back to 2007; that’s their Prohibition of Nuclear Facilities Act,” Mr Morrish said……..

February 5, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, Queensland, wastes | Leave a comment

Minister Josh Frydenberg says radiation anxieties are based on myth

Minister dismisses scare campaign, urges residents to embrace opportunity of nuclear waste dump, Courier Mail February 5, 2016  QUEENSLANDERS have been urged not to be scared of radioactive waste, but to ­embrace the opportunities a nuclear dump could bring.

Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Minister Josh Frydenberg said Queenslanders should not be panicked by nuclear because most fears were based on myth.

Frydenberg radiation

The Federal Government has moved to intervene in the debate after a protest campaign in the tiny locality of Oman Ama, near Inglewood, 250km southwest of Brisbane.

A property owner has ­offered his land to the Government for a mega low-waste ­nuclear dump and it is one of Mr Frydenberg’s six preferred sites across Australia.

Mr Frydenberg told The Courier-Mail community feedback was important and up to three sites would soon be short-listed.

“It is also important to remember the number of benefits that will flow to the final chosen community,” he said……..

February 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Turnbull copying Abbott as destroyer of renewables, stripping Australian Renewable Energy Agency

“The fact that Arena and the CEFC are still on the chopping block shows that the Liberals’ attacks on renewables hasn’t stopped under Malcolm Turnbull. Greg Hunt has confirmed that these two agencies will remain in the Turnbull Liberal government’s sites.”

Renewables agency stripped of members and run by bureaucrat

Board terms expire, leaving body tasked with investing in emerging technology in hands of department secretary for second time in two years. ll appointed board members of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency have had their terms expire and have not been replaced, leaving it governed by the secretary of the Department of the Environment, Guardian Australia has learned.

The same thing happened in 2014 while Tony Abbott was prime minister, and the move has now been criticised as an attempt by the Turnbull government to remove the independence of the agency.

Turnbull destroys renewables

According to legislation, the board must consist of the secretary of the Department of the Environment and up to six others appointed by the minister. The agency can operate with the secretary being the only board member, since it reaches quorum when a majority of the board members are present, which now occurs with one.

Parliament sits for the first time in 2016 on Tuesday, with bills abolishing both the renewable energy agency (Arena) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation still before parliament, despite having been rejected by the Senate. Signs indicate the Turnbull government intends to keep them. Continue reading

February 3, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Community opposition stops nuclear waste dump: U-turn by MP John Cobb on nuclear policy

Protest-No!Hill End nuclear waste dump ruled out due to community opposition, ABC News 29 Jan 16 By Nick Dole

A nuclear waste facility will not be built at Hill End in central-west New South Wales because community opposition to the proposal is so strong, the Federal Government has said.

The site at Hill End, north of Bathurst, was one of six being considered for a nuclear waste facility.
It was offered up by a local landowner, who could be paid four times the land’s market value.

At a packed public meeting on Saturday, dozens of residents spoke against the concept, telling representatives from the Federal Government that Hill End was a “totally inappropriate” location.

Many residents expressed concerns about potential water contamination or the risk of transporting radioactive material.  Local resident Kerri Burns said Hill End should be removed from the selection process immediately.
“We’ve been polite, but if this goes further, the gloves are off,” she said.

The audience was told Hill End would remain on the shortlist for now, due to a legislated consultation process.

But the Member for Calare, John Cobb, said he had already communicated the community’s view to Minister Josh Frydenberg.

“I said, ‘We are not going to be building this at Hill End’ and he looked at me and I said ‘The community is against it and they are not going to change their mind’,” Mr Cobb said……..

January 31, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, opposition to nuclear, politics, wastes | Leave a comment


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