Is Australia becoming the world’s nuclear waste dump by stealth? http://www.smh.com.au/comment/is-australia-becoming-the-worlds-nuclear-waste-dump-by-stealth-20151122-gl4v04.html December 2, 2015 -Dr Margaret Beavis
When it comes to justifying new nuclear waste storage, a lot has been said about it being essential for medical diagnostics and cancer treatment. This is misleading. It blurs two distinct components of nuclear medicine – the production of isotopes and the use of isotopes.
Australia’s medical use of isotopes creates very little waste. In contrast, reactor production of isotopes generates considerable amounts, and ANSTO (the Australian national nuclear research and development organisation) is very quietly proposing to dramatically increase production to supply 30 per cent of the world market. This will significantly increase Australia’s nuclear waste problems.
On the “use” side, the vast majority of isotopes used for medical tests are very short-lived. They decay on the medical facilities’ premises until their radioactivity is negligible. They can then be disposed of in the normal waste stream (sewers, landfill etc) according to set standards. There is no need for a new nuclear waste facility for these isotopes. Most cancer radiotherapy uses X-rays, which does not produce any waste at all. A very small proportion of cancer treatments need radioactive materials, which also are too short-lived to require a remote repository, or are legally required to be sent back to the (overseas) supplier once used up. There is a very small amount of legacy radium relating to cancer therapy in the past, however, this has not been used in Australia since 1975.
On the other hand, using a nuclear reactor to manufacture radio isotopes creates a significant amount of intermediate and low-level waste. ANSTO has recently unilaterally decided it will dramatically increase its production of medical isotopes at the Lucas Heights reactor to supply 30 per cent of the world’s needs. This business decision assumes it will not have to pay for the disposal of the waste produced, even though it will need securing for many thousands of years.
This decision ignores the reality of technology that enables isotopes to now be produced using accelerators and cyclotrons; i.e. without using a reactor and without generating large quantities of radioactive waste. This is fast approaching commercial scale and economic viability. ANSTO’s decision contrasts with that of the Canadian nuclear authorities, who have for some years been actively phasing out reactor production, and pouring money into developing non-reactor technologies.
Canada, the world’s single largest producer of medical isotopes, independently reviewed its nuclear industry in 2009 and decided not to build a new reactor. Several reasons stood out: investment in reactor production of medical isotopes would crowd out investment in innovative alternative production technologies both domestically and internationally, Canada did not want to continue being the radioactive waste site for other countries’ nuclear medicine industries, it created supply vulnerabilities, and at no stage was it commercially viable without massive taxpayer subsidies.
The ANSTO decision represents vested interests entrenching a reactor-based model and crowding out development of other options. In many ways it is like the coal industry boosting production to stop wind and solar development. Like coal, the business model relies on not being responsible (financially or socially) for the waste it leaves behind.
We urgently need an open conversation about whether we want to pick up the world’s waste tab when it comes to producing medical isotopes. This is a policy choice that will leave Australia storing waste from isotopes produced for international markets. The market price for these isotopes does not factor in the price of storing this waste, which falls to the taxpayer and the community unlucky enough to be landed with it. It is taking Australia down a path that Canada has rejected.
The bottom line is that storage of nuclear waste from reactors is difficult, requiring long-term isolation and security.
We need transparent, informed and clear discussion of what our choices are. We have an obligation to future generations to minimise the waste we produce. There needs to be a considered and open debate about where existing waste is most safely stored in Australia. And it needs to be absolutely clear to ANSTO that we do not want to be left holding the world’s radioactive waste by default.
The Australian community is far from convinced about taking on more radioactive material on behalf of the international community. ANSTO needs to be much more explicit about what it is planning. As a government-owned entity it has a responsibility to be upfront and consult with the community.
When it comes to such long-term decisions about radioactive materials, sleight of hand is not good enough.
Margaret Beavis is a GP and national president of the Medical Association for Prevention of War.
GREENPEACE FINDS NUCLEAR WASTE HEADED TO AUSTRALIA CLASSIFIED AS DANGEROUS HIGH-LEVEL WASTE BY FRANCE
The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) has revealed to Greenpeace that the waste has been classified as high-level (long-life) waste according to standards set by ANDRA, the French national radioactive waste management agency. High-level waste is ANDRA’s most severe nuclear waste classification.
Areva documents have also confirmed that the waste still contains low quantities of plutonium.The nuclear waste is due to be unloaded off the BBC Shanghai at Port Kembla in southern Sydney in the early hours of Sunday, 6 December. It will then be transported to Lucas Heights by road for interim storage.Sydney, 2 December 2015 – Nuclear waste returning to Australia this weekend by ship from France has been classified as high-level waste by French authorities, contradicting Australia’s claims over its radioactivity, a Greenpeace report has found.Greenpeace’s investigation also found the waste still contains quantities of plutonium – highly toxic even in small quantities – despite reprocessing by French state-owned nuclear company, Areva.
“The Australian government is downplaying the danger of this shipment, saying it is intermediate-level waste that isn’t harmful unless mismanaged. But we know it contains plutonium and is classified as high-level waste by the French authorities,” said Emma Gibson, Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s Head of Programs. Continue reading
Australian govt to pay 4 times land value for nuclear dump site, plus #10 million to local community
Sallys Flat should be removed from nuclear waste shortlist, residents say, ABC News 13 Nov 15 By Joanna Woodburn, “……The Government says it needs to build a facility to store the low and intermediate nuclear waste that’s been accumulating in at hospitals, universities and at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney.
Landowners were asked to volunteer their land, with the government offering to buy it at four times the market value. Local communities are being offered $10 million for local projects.”… http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-13/take-sallys-flat-off-nuclear-waste-shortlist-residents-say/6937442
Michels Warren is a PR company working for the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission. The company was involved in the Howard government’s failed 6-year attempt to impose a national nuclear waste dump in South Australia. A great deal of information is available about the role of Michels Warren in this controversy thanks to documents released under Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation.
A September 27, 2000 email written by Stephen Middleton from Michels Warren talked about the need to “soften up the community” and “sell” the repository: “We will lose ground once again unless we can soften up the community on the need for the repository and the reasons why SA has been identified as the best location. The prospect of the Minister announcing the preferred site before we can get to the community with something that explains what it all means makes my head spin. The wider research into issues such as Lucas Heights, uranium mining, the nuclear fuel cycle etc etc can be tackled as a separate issue. It should not hold up anything we are doing in terms of selling the repository to South Australians. The rest of the country probably doesn’t care less about the repository, but it is a big issue in SA. Further delays could be potentially disastrous.”
Why was a South Australian company willingly involving itself in the federal government’s nuclear dump plans? After all, Michels Warren itself acknowledges that the dump is an unwanted imposition on SA.
A 2003 Michels Warren document released under FoI legislation stated: “The National Repository could never be sold as “good news” to South Australians. There are few, if any, tangible benefits such as jobs, investment or improved infrastructure. Its merits to South Australians, at the most, are intangible and the range and complexity of issues make them difficult to communicate.”
So why was Michels Warren dumping on its home state? Money, of course. In total, Michels Warren was paid at least $487,000 to dump on SA … and possibly much more. Michels Warren staff were paid at rates up to $192.50 per hour for their work on the nuclear dump campaign.
An August 16, 2000 “high priority” email reveals that Caroline Perkins, a senior official in the Department of Industry, Science and Resources – at that time under the direction of Senator Nick Minchin – was asked to compile information on protesters. “[T[he minister wants a short biography of our main opponents in the Ivy campaign by about 11am our time (pre-rally)”, the email said. The rest of the email is blacked out under FoI provisions. The email refers to a Michels Warren employee – no doubt Michels Warren helped compile the biographies. Continue reading
Australia sells itself as a nation that can teach the world about responsible mining – Afghanistan is one willing student – but the record suggests our corporations have a callous disregard for the rights of civilians.
Why is it left to US NGOs to expose Australian mining’s wrongdoing in Africa? Antony Loewenstein, Guardian , 27 july 15
There are hundreds of Australian mining companies working in Africa, but just one full-time Australian journalist. What does that mean for accountability? Australian miners are making a killing overseas. With little regulation or oversight, billions of dollars are being made in some of the most remote places on Earth.
The necessity of partnering with autocratic regimes has proved no impediment to investment. Human rights have been breached. Victims are largely invisible.
None of this should be surprising. If Australian companies operating internationally are mentioned in the media, it appears in the business pages and discusses the strengths of a CEO or share price. Rio Tinto, for example, receives largely uncritical coverage despite in the 1980s the corporation facing serious allegations of human rights abuses around the world, including in Papua New Guinea.
Two American non-profit media organisations, the Centre for Public Integrity and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, recently bucked the trend and released a stunning report, Fatal Extraction, on Australian mining companies working in Africa (in which no allegations were made against Rio Tinto). How revealing that this research was led from America and not Australia itself.
The findings of the report, produced in collaboration with African journalists on the ground, were shocking.
From the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Malawi, grim details of death, maiming and police and army brutality were revealed. Continue reading
So that’s the game plan − making absurd claims about Generation IV reactors, pretending that they are near-term prospects, and being less than “abundantly clear” about the truth. Time for these people to be held to account and for Brook to be removed from the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s ‘expert panel’.
On the troubled worldwide history with fast reactors, see the report by the International Panel on Fissile Materials.
Barry Brook being less than “abundantly clear” about Generation IV reactors Jim Green, June 2015, www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/oz/barry-brook-bravenewclimate An 18 June 2015 guest post on Barry Brook’s website claims that Generation IV fast neutron reactors will be mass produced and “dominating the market by about 2030.”
Compare that Big Fat Lie with the following:
- The Generation IV International Forum states: “Depending on their respective degree of technical maturity, the FIRST Generation IV systems are expected to be deployed commercially around 2030-2040.” (emphasis added)
- The International Atomic Energy Agency states: “Experts expect that the FIRST Generation IV fast reactor DEMONSTRATION PLANTS AND PROTOTYPES will be in operation by 2030 to 2040.” (emphases added)
- A 2015 report by the French government’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) states: “There is still much R&D to be done to develop the Generation IV nuclear reactors, as well as for the fuel cycle and the associated waste management which depends on the system chosen.”
IRSN is also sceptical about safety claims: “At the present stage of development, IRSN does not notice evidence that leads to conclude that the systems under review are likely to offer a significantly improved level of safety compared with Generation III reactors, except perhaps for the VHTR …” Moreover the VHTR (very high temperature reactor) system could bring about significant safety improvements “but only by significantly limiting unit power”.
- The World Nuclear Association noted in 2009 that “progress is seen as slow, and several potential [Generation IV] designs have been undergoing evaluation on paper for many years.”
IPA uses Australian tax breaks to help fund U.S. climate skeptic’s libel defence Independent Australia DeSmog Blog 16 May 2015 Environment charities like the ACF face having their Deductible Gift Recipient status stripped by the Abbott government, yet corporate mouthpiece, IPA, keep theirs to help fund U.S. climate skeptic Mark Steyn’s libel suit. Graham Readfearn fromDeSmogBlog reports.
WHEN THE facts on climate change become inconvenient or they start to rub your ideology or vested interest up the wrong way, then there are really only two options available.
Option one is to change your mind. Option two is to try and change, distort, misrepresent or just outright ignore the flood of scientific studies over decades showing the serious impacts of loading the biosphere with fossil fuel emissions.
Mark Steyn is a prominent conservative polemicist and writer in the United States and Canada who has chosen option two.
Australian “free market” think-tank The Institute of Public Affairs chose option two in the late 1980s and has stuck with it since.
Now a climate misinformation book produced by the IPA and paid for with the help of tax breaks in Australia is seemingly helping to finance Steyn in a high profile libel case.
So there are two stories to tell here – one about the libel case and the other about the book. The two meet up at the end……..
The IPA keeps its funders a secret, although its supporters are known to include billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart and at least one major tobacco company.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the country’s Treasurer Joe Hockey, News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch are all big fans.
The IPA holds Deductible Gift Recipient status with Australia’s tax office, which means that anyone giving money to the think tank for certain prescribed activities, such as research, can claim a tax break on their donation.
Last year, the IPA started fundraising to produce a book called “Climate Change: The Facts” which, when you glance at the list of contributors, should have its semi-colon shifted forward to better reflect the contents. It should really be Climate: Change The Facts.
The IPA decided it would use its DGR status to encourage people to donate cash towards producing the book, which the IPA said would cost about $175,000.
As I wrote on DeSmog last year, this meant Australia’s tax revenue would be a tiny bit reduced so a bunch of climate science deniers could spout their usual conspiratorial mush.
Mark Steyn, who has previously toured Australia thanks to the IPA, was one contributor. He has said the book will help “push back against the climate mullahs”………
The book has been produced and is now on sale internationally.
But according to retailers Amazon and Kobo, the book’s publisher is not the IPA but “Stockade Books” – a venture that’s actually owned by Mark Steyn. ……..https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/ipa-uses-australian-tax-breaks-to-help-fund-us-climate-skeptics-libel-defense,7715
Alannah MacTiernan says proposal to fund centre at the University of Western Australia came ‘directly from the prime minister’s office’ A research centre linked to controversial Danish academic Bjørn Lomborg was earmarked for the University of Western Australia through a “corrupt” process initiated by the prime minister’s office, parliament has been told.
The university backed out of the proposal, which was to have been funded by the federal government, after protests by staff and students.The West Australian Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan said on Tuesday that science has been the big loser under the Abbott government.
She said it was curious that the government had found $4m for the Australian Consensus Centre, a think tank which had at its heart a commitment to cherry-pick the scientific evidence which argued against urgent action on climate change.
MacTiernan said the education minister Christopher Pyne says the decision to fund the centre at UWA followed a proposal put forward by the university and Lomborg, but vice-chancellor Paul Johnson said the proposal was not initiated by the university.
The proposal arose out of discussions between Lomborg and the government, MacTiernan said. “It seems the offer came directly from the prime minister’s office and came to UWA only after the Australian Catholic University had rejected it,” she said.
“Extraordinarily, this special research initiative didn’t come through the Australian Research Council or any peer review.” It was a “corrupt process”, she said.
Remote sites in South Australia offered for nuclear dump , THE AUSTRALIAN, 9 May 15 Michael Owen Up to four sites in South Australia’s far north have been put forward as potential radioactive waste dumps.
The federal government, however, is officially remaining tight-lipped about the response to its call in March for voluntary site nominations for a national radioactive waste facility, which closed on Tuesday.Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane’s office refused yesterday to say how many nominations had been received or where they had originated.
“There won’t be details or a breakdown of nominated sites released at this early stage,” a spokeswoman said. “Information about shortlisted sites will be released after an initial assessment period and after consideration by the minister. That is expected to be completed around July.”
A preferred site is not expected to be identified until at least the middle of next year.
This week the government released a request for tender on Austender, seeking expressions of interest from “suitable companies to undertake the necessary site characterisation work”.
The request also seeks the successful tenderer to assist in the “development of a detailed business case which will inform the government’s decision as to whether to proceed with the project and its cost”.
Federal Liberal MP Rowan Ramsey said his vast electorate of Grey, in South Australia’s far north, was an ideal site for a radioactive waste dump as it was remote, sparsely populated and geologically stable. He said he had tried to nominate his own 2400ha farm, but was asked not to by Mr Macfarlane because of concerns of a potential conflict of interest.
“But as a consequence my understanding is there have been a number of other properties nominated in my community. I’ve encouraged people right across the board to nominate,” Mr Ramsey said. “I understand as many as four sites have been nominated in my electorate.”
The search for a site intensified last year after the federal government failed to convince a Northern Territory community to build a facility on its land.
This comes as South Australia’s royal commission into an expansion of the state’s role in the nuclear cycle picks up pace. Among other issues, the commission will examine whether to store international radioactive waste……..http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/remote-sites-in-south-australia-offered-for-nuclear-dump/story-fn59niix-1227347545498
The information is based on documents leaked by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald’s article, How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations, is based on four classified documents produced by the British spy agency GCHQ, and presented to the NSA and three other English speaking agencies reportedly part of “The Five Eyes Alliance.”
In this shocking piece, Greenwald publishes a copy of a spy training manual used entitled: “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.” Greenwald writes that agencies like the NSA are “attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.” Greenwald writes: Continue reading
Energy company’s $11 billion transfer to Singapore rings tax avoidance alarm bells, The Age, April 4, 2015 – Heath Aston Political reporter An energy company operating in Australia transferred more than $11 billion to the low-tax jurisdiction of Singapore in a single year, heightening concerns that Australia is being duped by tax-minimising multinationals.
The extraordinary scale of funds being moved out of the country by individual companies is revealed in an internal Australian Tax Office memo, obtained under Freedom of Information.
It lists 10 companies that channelled a combined $31.4 billion from Australia to Singapore in the 2011-2012 financial year.
An estimated $60 billion in so-called “related parties” transactions went from Australia to tax havens in the same year.
The Tax Office is particularly concerned about mining and energy companies extracting Australian minerals which have established “marketing hubs” in Singapore that appear to have little use other than as a destination for shifted profits. Continue reading
WA uranium mine approved despite looming corruption investigation, WA Today March 6 Steve Holland WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob approved a controversial uranium mine proposal on Thursday despite a looming investigation into the dealings of representatives of the traditional owners of the land.
Cameco Australia, in a joint venture project with Mitsubishi Development, acquired the Kintyre uranium deposit in WA’s remote Pilbara region in 2008 and the final stages of approval are edging closer.
But dealings of the representatives of the local Martu people, including the business practices of the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation, are currently under investigation by the Office of Regional Indigenous Corporations, or ORIC. Continue reading
the previously secret deal followed the Liberal Party’s federal council meeting in June at which it unanimously supported an international waste dump being built in Australia.
Australia next ‘nuclear dump’ http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2007/07/20/australia-next-nuclear-dump The Wilderness Society has warned a deal between Prime Minister John Howard and US President George W Bush to join an exclusive global nuclear club would ensure Australia became the dumping ground for the world’s nuclear waste. Source: 20 JUL 2007 UPDATED 22 AUG 2013
The ministers for foreign affairs and resources had urged Mr Howard to announce the joint nuclear energy plan during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation visit in Sydney in September, Fairfax newspapers reported.
“The proposed action plan would help to open the way for valuable nuclear energy co-operation with the United States,” the briefing note says.
“It would also be consistent with the government’s strategy for the nuclear industry in Australia. Continue reading
Isn’t this just dandy? The Australian government can’t afford to fund services to the needy in health, education, and is doing its darndest to kill clean energy, but is quietly promoting nuclear energy. And not conventional nuclear energy, which is bad enough, but the untested, hugely costly thorium experiment – the same one that was tried and found unviable 50 years ago
ANSTO-SINAP Joint Research Centre, 16 Jan 15 In December 2012, ANSTO signed a memorandum of understanding with the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) for cooperation in the area of materials research and development.