Australian news, and some related international items

Indonesia will close their waters to ship carrying radioactive trash to Australia

ship radiationIndon to ‘block Aust-bound nuclear waste’ November 21, 2015 AAP
 INDONESIA’S Navy and police reportedly want to close their waters to a ship carrying nuclear waste bound for Australia.

“WE will block the ship because nuclear waste is very dangerous,” sea security coordinating agenda head Vice Admiral Desi Albert Mamahit told The Jakarta Post newspaper.

“Our ships are on standby, although the ship is still far from Indonesia. We have information about the ship.”On October 16, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) confirmed a project to repatriate radioactive waste from France, where it was sent for reprocessing in the 1990s and early 2000s, and which will now be retained at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights, Sydney, facility.”Consistent with security requirements and practice established during nine previous export operations, ANSTO will not confirm the destination port, land route, or timing,” it said on its website.The Indonesians are concerned about a ship called the MV Trader, which was close to the African coast and expected to pass through the Malacca Strait, according to reports.

November 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, safety | Leave a comment

Ipswich, Queensland, at risk from nuclear waste,

Queensland-nuclear-freeIpswich at risk from nuclear waste, Queensland Times  | 20th Nov radiation-truck2015 THE FIGHT is well and truly on to stop hundreds of trucks a year loaded with radioactive nuclear waste from moving through Ipswich towards a national repository near Inglewood.

A site at Oman Ama is one of six slated by the Federal Government to store nuclear waste which has been slammed as “an environmental disaster waiting to happen” by Cr Paul Tully, who is also the national secretary of the Australian Nuclear Free Zones Secretariat.

Cr Tully said the federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg was “putting major cities across southeast Queensland under threat with hundreds of trucks a year carrying dangerous radioactive waste across the region”.

Cr Tully, who called the plan “total lunacy”, said Ipswich did not want such dangerous material transiting through the city.

“It will be a national repository which means that radioactive waste from North Queensland as well as southern states of Australia will come into south Queensland,” he said.

“Anything coming up the Pacific Highway will go through Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba and anything coming from North Queensland would as well.

“So it does hold concerns that hundreds of trucks a year could be coming through our area.”A lot of it would come up through central NSW of course if they do select this site, which is one of six in Australia that has been nominated for further investigation.

“But if a truck, semi-trailer or B-double laden with this material had an accident and caught fire or rolled into a creek or river bed, then that is an issue. Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba residents will be concerned at this act of madness by the federal government.” Continue reading

November 20, 2015 Posted by | Opposition to nuclear, Queensland, safety, wastes | Leave a comment

Danger in transporting radioactive trash to Queensland

radiation-truckGoondiwindi mayor raises issues over transport of nuclear waste to Queensland, ABC News 13 Nov 15  The Mayor of a southern Queensland region shortlisted to store nuclear waste is concerned about how it will be transported, but is keeping an open mind to the proposal.

Oman Ama, 250 kilometres southwest of Brisbane,is one of six sites earmarked by the Federal Government, including three in South Australia, one in New South Wales and one in the Northern Territory. Goondiwindi Mayor Graeme Scheu said he did not want to jump to conclusions.

“The main question around it would be transportation, where it goes, so, so many questions that we don’t even have an answer for and the facts,” he said……..

The Federal Government is offering sweeteners to the community that agrees to house nuclear waste…..

Transporting waste to Queensland ‘total lunacy’

National secretary of the Australian local government nuclear free zones secretariat, Ipswich councillor Paul Tully, said “total lunacy” had overtaken the Federal Government.

Mr Tully said the federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will put major cities across southeast Queensland under threat with hundreds of trucks a year carrying nuclear waste across the region.”They will be transporting nuclear waste from the Lucas Heights reactor west of Sydney and other parts of Australia to Queensland,” he said.

“We don’t want Queensland to become the dumping ground for dangerous waste from NSW.”

He said similar plans in 1989 for a radioactive waste dump at Redbank in Ipswich had been thwarted after major environmental concerns were raised.

Kirsten Macey from the Queensland Conservation Council said regional communities should not be used as the scapegoat for a “dirty” nuclear industry. She wants the waste left in Sydney.

“We believe that where the regulator is – where they have the capacity to store it and monitor it, that’s where the nuclear waste should be stored,” she said. “That’s at Lucas Heights where the nuclear waste is being generated.”

November 13, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Queensland, safety, wastes | Leave a comment

Transport of nuclear waste is dangerous. Lucas Heights reactor should be closed

radiation-truckNuclear waste likely to be transported through the Illawarra, ABC News, 23 Oct 15 Ainslie Drewitt-Smith,  Nuclear waste shipped from France to Australia is likely to land at Port Kembla.The ABC understands the 25 tonnes of treated waste is being returned to the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in November, and is already on a cargo ship bound for the port.

It’s expected the intermediate-level waste will be transferred to trucks, before being transported to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

Greens MLC John Kaye said transporting the waste through the Illawarra is risky. “It’s a very low probability event that there would be an accident, but if there is, it’s a very high consequence accident,” Dr Kaye said.

“Our concern with the nuclear cycle has always been nine times out of ten it’s fine, but then there’s one episode, and when that one episode happens, the results are totally catastrophic.”

The waste was sent to France in the 1990s to be processed, but its return to Australia was inevitable.While there were no issues with the original movement of the waste more than a decade ago, Dr Kaye said it’s not worth trying it again.

“The nuclear waste is set in a kind of glass, it’s then encased in a stainless steel vessel, but you can never keep anything 100 per cent safe,” he said. “The problem is, if there is an accident and one of those caskets is breached, the consequences for the local population are huge.”

Dr Kaye said ANSTO should be shut.

“This is a legacy of some very bad decision making that’s been happening in relation to Lucas Heights. It should have been shut ages ago,” he said.

“There should have been serious money invested into the alternative for isotopes used in medicine. Instead, we’ve continued with the same out of date process for creating these isotopes. It’s created this legacy of waste……..

ANSTO has confirmed in a statement on its website, the waste is on its way to Australia, but hasn’t said whether the material will land at Port Kembla, or be trucked through the Illawarra.

“Spent nuclear fuel was sent to France for reprocessing over four shipments in the 1990s and early 2000s, and the waste arising from that reprocessing operation is required under French law to have left that country by the end of 2015……..

October 23, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, safety | Leave a comment

Uranium miner ERA burned off on day of fire, against Fire Service advice

Uranium miner ERA was told not to burn off on day of blaze: NT Fire Service

By Alyssa Betts The Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service (NTFRS) has revealed it advised Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) not to burn off on the day the uranium miner started a fire that spread into Kakadu National Park.

The fire, which ERA lit to manage weeds at its Ranger mine near Jabiru on October 1, became wild and threatened important Aboriginal cultural sites before it was extinguished a week later.

It is now being investigated by the federal Department of Environment.

A spokesman for the NTFRS said the organisation was contacted by ERA on the day it started the fire and its recommendation to the group was not to go ahead with the blaze.

“In response to an inquiry from the Ranger mine at 7:00am on the day in question, NTFRS recommended there should be no burn due to the high fire danger that day,” a spokesman said in a brief statement. ERA has previously said it notified Parks Australia the day prior to the fire and they were not advised against the back burn.

The miner has not specifically commented on the NTFRS advice.

“ERA is not required to seek approval or obtain a permit for such activities on the Ranger Project Area,” an ERA spokeswoman said.

“ERA followed its normal protocol to notify stakeholders prior to undertaking weed management activities.”

The miner said that on the day the burn was undertaken there was no fire ban in place in the region where the mine was located.

It has offered to pay for the aerial water bombing operations and said it is conducting its own internal investigation into the fire.

October 21, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Uranium miner ERA should be made accountable for fire in Kakadu National Park

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has committed to an inquiry into the fire. This is welcome but any inquiry needs to be open and transparent, not simply another yellowcake whitewash.

Kakadu has been burnt but it is ERA who should be in the firing line. The company lacks the commitment, capacity and competence to conduct such a dangerous trade in such a special place and the recent fire is further proof that it is time to close the chapter on uranium mining in Kakadu.

Uranium miner in the firing line over Kakadu burn A week-wildfire-nukelong fire in the World Heritage listed Kakadu has caused significant environmental damage and threatened Aboriginal art and cultural sites, writes Dave Sweeney. The smoke is finally starting to settle over Australia’s largest national park. For a week Kakadu has been burning following the escape of a “controlled” fire lit by the uranium mining company Energy Resources of Australia.

In a case of good luck rather than good management, no one was seriously injured but, as the flames die down and the damage assessment and questions start up, more of ERA’s shrinking credibility has literally gone up in smoke.

While the full extent of the damage is not yet known, the fire burned over 200 square kilometres of the World Heritage listed Kakadu, causing significant environmental damage and threatening ancient and important Aboriginal art and cultural sites. Continue reading

October 14, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Govt to investigate ERA’s Ranger uranium mine burnoff and subsequent Kakadu fire

bushfireKakadu bushfire: Dept of Environment to investigate Ranger mine burn-off that spread to national park, ABC News, 9 Oct 15   The federal Environment Department says it will investigate a fire started by Energy Resources Australia (ERA) that spread into Kakadu National Park, threatening important cultural sites.

The fire started at ERA’s Ranger uranium mine a week ago and spread into the World Heritage-listed park, threatening several culturally sensitive Indigenous sites. In a statement to the ABC, a spokesman for Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt described the fire as a “very serious matter”.”Minister Hunt has asked the Department and Parks Australia to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the cause of the fire,” the statement said.

“No permission was sought and no approval was received for the lighting of the fire by ERA.

“We will not hesitate to seek reimbursement for the costs of firefighting if negligence or wrongdoing are in any way shown.

“Additionally, a breach of the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act can result in fines of up to $8.5 million.”

The ABC understands the NT Department of Mines and Energy will also be investigating the fire………

Aboriginal groups angry over fire

Justin O’Brien from the Gunjeihmi Corporation, which represents the area’s traditional owners, said ERA needed “to be taught about the sensitive environment” they operate in. “There’s an argument to say they should be prosecuted for what they’ve done, this is the second year in a row that they’ve done this, It’s almost a replica of last year,” he said.

“They are not learning so they need to be taught about the sensitive environment which they’re operating in.”

The Northern Land Council (NLC) said it was not confident a federal investigation would find anyone accountable for the fire.

Joe Morrison, CEO of the NLC, said he wanted to see traditional fire management practices reinstated.

“There’s been lots of fires and lots of investigations in relation to Kakadu and surrounds for a long time, we wouldn’t want to hold our breath,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said he wanted to see Aboriginal people “take control of that agenda and reinstate their traditional fire management practices”.

October 10, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium mine fire in Kakadu National Park

bushfireNT uranium mine fire: Traditional owners call on mine operator to take responsibility for blaze owners are calling on the operator of the Ranger Uranium Mine to take responsibility for a fire that is threatening important cultural sites in Kakadu National Park.

They are also warning if the out-of-control fire spreads into Kakadu’s escarpment country, it will be too difficult to contain. Parks Australia said the blaze started when the mine’s operator, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), began weed management burning which then spread into Kakadu.

Justin O’Brien from the Gunjeihmi Corporation, which represents the area’s traditional owners, said ERA should fund efforts to put out the fire. “I mean there’s an argument to say they should be prosecuted for what they’ve done, this is the second year in a row that they’ve done this, It’s almost a replica of last year,” he said. “They are not learning so they need to be taught about the sensitive environment which they’re operating in.”

Mr O’Brien said the fire was close to escarpment country, where it would be very difficult to put out. “If this fire gets into the escarpment, there’s no water in there,” he said “You can’t do suppression from the air, you cannot get boots on the ground in that country, it’s too rugged. “All you can do is wait for it to put itself out, that’s not acceptable.”

ERA said it notified Parks Australia about the controlled burn and was not instructed to stop the fire from going ahead. Kakadu rangers are due to fly over Kakadu this morning to assess the fire.

Mr O’Brien said hundreds of rock art galleries, plants and animals in Radon Springs are threatened by the fire. One of Kakadu National Park’s most significant cultural sites, Nourlangie Rock, featuring Indigenous rock art showing early contact with Europeans, as well as other art up to 50,000 years old, has been closed to tourists.

October 7, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Lucas Heights (terrorism target) gets security upgrades

Security upgrades at Lucas Heights nuclear reactor not influenced by trespasser scare, SMH, August 25, 2015  Canberra Times Reporter

Security upgrades at Australia’s oldest nuclear reactor were not triggered by the arrest of five men caught loitering outside the site last year, according to officials.

The men were arrested and questioned in September after parking their vehicles within 100 metres of the security gates to the Lucas Heights reactor in southern Sydney.

The group were eventually released without charge but their actions led police to question why they had strayed onto restricted Commonwealth land.

Lucas H target

In response to a question on notice, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation chief executive Dr Adrian Paterson said security upgrades in October were not prompted by the scare.

“Control room operations were outsourced to one of Australia’s largest security firms with significant expertise and experience in control room monitoring,” an ANSTO spokesman said.”ANSTO’s first responder safety function was also outsourced to a private company.”

The spokesman said both changes were made after a detailed review of security arrangements and after consultation with the Australian Federal Police. “The changes have been successfully implemented and are delivering improved operational outcomes as well as cost savings,” he said.

“The AFP continues to be responsible for the 24-hour-a-day physical protection of the ANSTO site as well as armed first response.”

Dr Paterson said ANSTO received regular briefings from the intelligence community and their security posture could be strengthened quickly in response to specific threats……..

In 2001, Greenpeace activists gained entry to the Lucas Heights complex and unveiled banners claiming nuclear power was “never safe”…….

. The Lucas Heights site will also receive a shipment of radioactive waste returned to Sydney from France this year, after being sent to Europe for processing in the 1990s.

According to legal requirements, the waste must be returned from France by December with more waste set to be returned from Britain in 2017……….

ANSTO marketing material states the returning waste is equivalent to one third of a shipping container.

The cost of transferring waste from Britain is expected to cost nearly $27 million over four years, while the return of waste from France has been funded in budgets since 2010……..

August 25, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, safety | Leave a comment

Nuclear facilities in South Australia would be at grave danger from bushfires

bushfireDangers of Bushfires-Wildfires & Nuclear Businesminingawareness, 3 August 15   “………
According to the South Australia Country Fire Service, nearly 1/2 of people living in bushfire prone areas don’t understand the threat. This is apparently true of those proposing adding nuclear scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINanything in Australia.
For, in such a context, the risks of nuclear anything are clearly even higher than average. And, the solar potential in Australia is higher than average. The choice should be clear……..
In January of this year (2015) over 700 South Australian Country Fire Service volunteers fought the Sampson Flat bushfire series, helped by teams from New South Wales Rural Fire Service and Victoria Fire Authority, over the course of a week. On “Black Sunday” 1955 in South Australia, 1,000 Emergency Fire Service volunteers fought fires, but were overwhelmed and 2,500 citizens volunteered to help. For the 1983 Ash Wednesday Bushfires (II), 130,000 firefighters, defence force personnel, relief workers and support crews worked to fight the bushfires.Clearly this is serious business and dangerous in the best of
Adding nuclear to firestorms is even more dangerous than the Fukushima earthquake-tsunami disaster…………

Continue reading

August 3, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, safety, South Australia | Leave a comment

Northern Territory Mines Departments Credibility and ERA’s Contaminants both down the Creek

ENVIRONMENT CENTRE NT – AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION 5 JUNE 2015 On World Environment Day NT and national environment organisations have called on the NT Department of Mines to explain why Energy Resources of Australia, operator of the embattled Ranger uranium mine, should not be prosecuted over a major radioactive spill inside the boundaries of Kakadu National Park.


“Today – World Environment Day – marks twelve months since Energy Resources of Australia gained approval to restart processing at Ranger following a major radioactive spill from a collapsed leach tank in December 2013,” said Lauren Mellor from the Environment Centre NT.

“That a spill of over 1.3 million litres of radioactive slurry happened inside a World Heritage listed National Park is unacceptable: that we still don’t know why twelve months after operations have been resumed is derelict”.

Environment groups are concerned that a subsequent string of regulatory failures indicates that the NT Mines Department is ill-equipped to meet its responsibilities to protect the environment, workers and communities.

In the 12 months since the Ranger restart was approved DME has:

  • Failed to release its report into the 2013 radioactive spill accident, even to other Investigative Taskforce member agencies or Traditional Owners.
  • Failed to prosecute ERA for clear operational breaches under the Mines Management Act to improve safety and environmental protection at Ranger.
  • Been unable to oversight ERA’s water monitoring due to staff shortages and deficient testing, meaning at some sites with contamination trends there was no independent oversight.
  • Not implemented a key recommendation of the Independent Expert’s incident report into the leach tank failure and radioactive spill calling for a complete regulatory overhaul at Ranger.
  • Failed to address contamination trends in Gulungul Creek, part of Kakadu National Park downstream from the mines leaking tailings dam. DME must apply statutory requirements to its deficient monitoring program as recommended by a 2003 Senate Inquiry into Ranger Uranium Mine. This is despite significant spikes of electrical conductivity indicating impacts from the mine are now being seen in Kakadu waters.

“The NT Mines Minister’s inaction on this major incident appears to be a case of prioritising the operations of Energy Resources of Australia above the protection of Kakadu National Park,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.

World Environment Day is a perfect time to send a clear message that poor mining practises are neither acceptable, nor above the law. Kakadu deserves better than complacency,” concluded Mr Sweeney.

Contact:   Lauren Mellor, Environment Centre NT, 0413 534 125  Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation, 0408 317 812

June 6, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, Northern Territory, politics | Leave a comment

Northern Territory Government fails to act on radioactive spill by Energy resources of Australia

June 6, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Alarmingly poor management- Santos’ uranium incident

May 15, 2015 by  The Greens coal seam gas spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said that the conclusions from theNSW EPA’s completed investigations into Uranium contamination at Santos’ Narrabri CSG operations revealed alarmingly poor management and insufficient monitoring and he called on Santos to abandon the Narrabri project.

In their report, the EPA have said that they “have concerns with aspects of the site operations and management” and are issuing Santos with two legally binding Pollution Reduction Programs (PRPs) to improve groundwater monitoring.

“The myth that no cases of aquifer contaminations have occurred in NSW was busted by this incident where elevated levels of Uranium and other heavy metals were found in the groundwater near Santos’ holding ponds,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“No level of Uranium or other heavy metal contamination from coal seam gas is acceptable and the pathetic $1500 EPA at the time is hardly a deterrent to Santos or other companies.”

“It is alarming that the EPA have confirmed Santos does not have a sufficient monitoring program in place. Yet again we find that the management of a coal seam gas operation is not up to scratch and that pollution incidents cannot be properly assessed.”

“The Greens believe that coal seam gas is unnecessary, unwanted and unsafe and that Santos should pack up and leave NSW,” Mr Buckingham said. Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0427 713 101

May 16, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Aboriginal landowners not consulted, not happy, on release of Ranger uranium mine report

for the traditional owners to have any confidence in the capacity of ERA and the regulators to manage Ranger the recommendations of the report must be acted on “swiftly and completely”.

Ranger tank collapse 13photo – uranium tank collapse at Ranger December 2013

Uranium miner ERA ‘did not meet expected standards’, new report over Kakadu acid spill says
 By James Dunlevie  ABC News 24 Oct 14 A report has criticised standards at a Kakadu uranium mine, but local Aboriginal people say the investigation process had broken down and they had not been told the report was being released.

The investigation looked into the circumstances surrounding the incident at the Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) Ranger uranium mine in the national park, where 1,400 cubic metres of acidic slurry was spilt out of a collapsed tank about 1:00am on December 7, 2013.

The report found “at the time of the tank failure ERA’s management of process safety and its corporate governance did not meet expected standards”. In a joint statement announcing the release of the report, Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane and his Territory counterpart, Willem Westra Van Holte, thanked the members of the Ranger Incident Taskforce for their efforts “in particular, the contributions by the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation and the Northern Land Council”.

It’s just absurd that you would establish a taskforce to investigate … over a nearly 12-month period and then release the report and not have any dialogue with any taskforce members.

Justin O’Brien, CEO Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation

Continue reading

October 25, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, safety | Leave a comment

Ranger uranium mine: key recommendation ignored by NT and federal governments

Ranger-3“This report has taken too long and delivered too little. It fails to address the cause of the failure or actively reduce repetition – and its key recommendation has already been ignored,”

ERA to lift safety standards at Ranger Uranium Mine 24 October, 2014 Ben Hagemann Australian Mining, The Ranger Uranium mine has been directed to engage in improvements to process safety procedures on site, as a result of inadequate safety at the time of the failure of a leach tank in December last year.

The Department of Industry released a summary joint statement for the investigation which said that at the time of the failure of Leach Tank 1, the management of process safety and its corporate governance did not meet the expected standards. Continue reading

October 25, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, safety, uranium | Leave a comment


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