A Critical Look at ‘Uranium: Twisting the Dragon’s Tail’, truthdig, Aug 9, 2015 By Stanley Heller A week or so before the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, I watched a curious documentary on PBS. It was called “Uranium: Twisting the Dragon’s Tail.” You can see it here. The presenter was a physicist named Derek Muller. What’s odd is that Muller concludes that nuclear power is not the way to go, but the way the film was edited, the message is the opposite: that nuclear power is relatively safe and that its technical problems are at the point of being solved. Continue reading
IPA: Coal lobbyist and climate skeptic factory, Independent Australia, Graham Readfearn 30 July 2015 The fossil-fuel funded Institute of Public Affairs has just a released a report promoting the potential of the Galilee Basin, which just happens to be a project by one of its funders — right-wing, mining billionaire Gina Rinehart. Graham Readfearn from DeSmogBlog reports.
The Institute of Pubic Affairs holds the unofficial and dubious title of being Australia’s leading climate science denial organisation.
The so-called “think tank”, based in Melbourne, promotes fringe views on climate science from non-experts while attacking renewable energy………
The IPA has worked with Rinehart’s lobby group, Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision, to push for a lowering of taxes and regulations in the country’s north to promote mining projects. IPA executive director, John Roskam, confirmed to Fairfax media in 2013 that Rinehart had provided funding to the IPA.
The IPA also gave Rinehart a “Free Enterprise Leader Award” in 2013 during its 70th anniversary dinner, attended by a who’s who of Australian conservative politics including Abbott and Rupert Murdoch.
But has the IPA’s decision to go all out in support of Galilee Basin coal come too late? ………https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/ipa-coal-lobbyist-and-climate-skeptic-factory,7999
Solar Industry Hits Back At Report Critical Of Roof-Top Solar, New Matilda, By Thom Mitchell, 27 May 15 A report by a respected think-tank is being slammed by key players in the solar energy industry. Thom MItchell reports.
A report published by the Grattan Institute on Monday has been dismissed by the solar industry, which argues its critique of generous state and federal government subsidy schemes misrepresents their true value and ignores important flow-on benefits. Continue reading
The paper appears to be totally confused by what is a cyclic process. For example, the phrase “once-through” cycle is an oxymoron and reprocessing spent fuel is just that, not recycling. These terms come from the nuclear industry’s spin doctors.
Nowhere in this Issues Paper is information given on Government funding of the nuclear industry either directly in the form of grants and through government supplied services such as exploration, testing, environmental, and occupational health and safety services or indirect in the form of administrative services associated with the nuclear industry. We have no way of telling, for example, whether government expenditure has been recouped through royalties.
This, the first issues paper of the SA Government’s commission into expanding SA’s role in the nuclear industry, will confirm the worst fears of those who suspect that this commission is an expensive farce funded by the taxpayers of SA , and that the decision to expand the nuclear industry in SA is an ALP-LP-nuclear industry done deal.
The issues paper is the product of the SA Government’s mining bureaucracy, a bureaucracy that has a long history of a gung-ho environmental vandalism in the name of development. In the days when uranium mining was being considered at Roxby, Beverley and Honeymoon it was called the Dept of Mines & Energy but was known in the environment circles as the Dept of Mines & Mines, there never was any interest in anything form of energy other than coal, gas, oil and uranium.
Thanks to the Australian Democrats we got the Renewable Energy Target (RET) which overnight led to significant investment in wind energy in SA. We then got an even better result in the form of rooftop solar, the ultimate challenge to the fossil-nuclear fuel lobby and to multinational energy corporations in general. Not surprisingly the Liberal-Labor duopoly is now trying to reverse this challenge to big business’ control over electricity generation. To a ruling duopoly, which has given us widespread privatisation of essential services, consumer control over electricity generation is anathema.
The issues paper has four sections. Continue reading
Office for Nuclear Development
- Tim Stone, Senior Adviser to the Secretary of State for BERR and to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury on new nuclear power: he is the Chairman and founder of KPMG‘s Global Infrastructure and Projects Group.
Protecting the nuclear industry from bad news
Sharing intelligence with the industry
In December 2011, The Guardian revealed how the OND was “quietly exchanging intelligence on key policies with multinational companies in an effort to protect and promote their plans for new nuclear power stations”.
It shared information about the handling of the EDF‘s application to build the first of the new nuclear stations at Hinkley Point, in Somerset.
It also sent EDF and the Nuclear Industry Association details of its court battle against Greenpeace, which is trying to block the Government’s nuclear plans…….http://powerbase.info/index.php/Office_for_Nuclear_Development
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
South Australia has a shameful nuclear history and the Royal Commission must be allowed to investigate it.
Mr Weatherill says “storing of nuclear waste” will be on the Royal Commission’s agenda. South Australians fought hard to defeat Canberra’s proposal for a national dump for low- to medium-level waste — so an international high-level nuclear waste dump is a non-starter.
The Premier says the Royal Commission will not be used to “look backwards at things that have gone wrong.” But failing to learn from the mistakes of the past makes it all the more likely that they will be repeated.
South Australia has a shameful nuclear history and the Royal Commission must be allowed to investigate it.
Examine SA’s shameful nuclear legacy Advertiser Dr Jim Green, 9 Feb 15 THE first test with Premier Jay Weatherill’s proposed Royal Commission into nuclear issues comes with his statement that it will be carried out by independent experts.
Is that what he really intends? Or does he plan a re-run of the Switkowski commission established by the Howard federal government in 2006? That commission was comprised entirely of “people who want nuclear power by Tuesday” according to comedian John Clarke. Continue reading
A company called South Australian Nuclear Power Systems Pty Ltd has been lobbying the South Australian and federal government to remove the significant legal and political roadblocks to advance nuclear power in the state. The group is headed by former News International director Bruce Hundertmark and includes veteran American nuclear spruiker Richard Cherry, a former executive of the secretive General Atomics that operates South Australia’s Beverley uranium mine; Ian Kowalick, the former head of Premier and Cabinet; and professors Tom Wigley and Stephen Lincoln from the University of Adelaide, home to a chorus of atomic fellow travellers.
Adding to this push has been the repeated promotion of the money to be made by storing the world’s radioactive waste. Senior executives of the World Nuclear Association have joined with former prime minister Bob Hawke, Warren Mundine and others to talk up the dollar signs while covering up the danger signs. Their approach ignores South Australians, particularly Indigenous South Australians’ sustained and successful efforts to oppose radioactive waste dumping in their country.
Dave Sweeney The nuclear royal commission is a response to South Australia’s poor fortune, the nuclear lobby, and concerns over climate change. It must remain independent. e announcement this week of a Royal Commission into the nuclear industry in South Australia has raised both stakes and eyebrows around the nation.
Many South Australian politicians have been enamoured with the economic allure of nuclear power. After all, the world’s biggest mining company sits atop the world’s largest uranium deposit at BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine, 500km north of Adelaide. But opening the door to talk of uranium enrichment, domestic nuclear power and international nuclear waste is a major escalation in radioactive rhetoric.
The move comes in stark contrast to the current run of play in relation to the domestic and international status of the nuclear industry. Continue reading
The co-signatories “support the broad conclusions drawn in the article ‘Key role for nuclear energy in global biodiversity conservation’, published in Conservation Biology.” The open letter states: “Brook and Bradshaw argue that the full gamut of electricity-generation sources − including nuclear power − must be deployed to replace the burning of fossil fuels, if we are to have any chance of mitigating severe climate change.”
So, here’s my open letter in response to the open letter initiated by Brook and Bradshaw:
– – –
Dear conservation scientists, Continue reading
Business groups want Government to ‘get out of the way’ of nuclear power ABC NewsBy political reporter Nick Pedley 4 Dec 2014,
The organisation’s chief executive, Nigel McBride, has welcomed the comments from senior figures within the Federal Government.
“I do welcome what is, to me, a very important sign from the Prime Minister that this Government is not closed to what could be a significant game-changer in our fight for affordable energy,” he said.
At the moment legislation bans nuclear power from becoming a reality.
Mr McBride’s view of the legislative ban is blunt.
“What we need from Government is we need governments to get out of the way,” he said.
Business SA is pushing for a debate about building a $3 billion micro reactor known as a Prism power plant designed by General Electric and Hitachi.
The plant converts used nuclear fuel rods and surplus plutonium into energy.
Mr McBride argued the proposal would pay its own way after five years.
He said the technology was safe and innovative and would also see nuclear nations pay Australia to take their spent fuel rods.
Tony Abbott welcomes nuclear energy ideas……….
Mr McBride has reassured the Prime Minister there would not be a push for government assistance.
“We’re not asking for subsidies,” he said.
“We’re asking for the Government to allow this to proceed.”
Engineers call for ‘simple legislation change’
The body that represents the nation’s engineers, Engineers Australia, has joined the call for Government to remove the legislative barriers to nuclear power.
Tony Irwin from Engineers Australia said the Prime Minister’s comments showed nuclear power was “seriously being considered”.
He also called for “simple legislation change”.
Mr Irwin said there were already regulators in place who could monitor the industry.
“We need a process to see how we’re going to change the legislation,” he said.
Mr Irwin is also the technical director of a company called SMR Nuclear Technology…………
He said it might be difficult to win support for the micro reactor because it was new technology and there was not enough regulatory approval in other nations for the Prism plant.
The Opposition’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, earlier this week dismissed nuclear power as an alternative.
“I don’t think it’s a viable option for Australia,” Ms Plibersek said.
“We know that it’s expensive.
“It takes a long time to get nuclear energy underway and in fact countries that have been relying on nuclear energy like Japan and Germany are actually retreating from the use of it.”
Senior Labor frontbencher Jenny Macklin said it was unnecessary for more nuclear energy in Australia.
She also wanted to know where the power stations would be located.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-05/governments-urged-to-embrace-nuclear-power/5945072
Moore’s trip to Australia has been financed through the climate science denial organisation the Galileo Movement.
Moore is almost always described as a co-founder of Greenpeace, despite Greenpeace itself contesting that he wasn’t a co-founder.
An archive of Moore’s CV shows his work for corporations and organisations in logging, pulp and paper and mining. He has also been an advocate for the nuclear energy industry.
Climate Science Denialist Patrick Moore Tours Australia After Comparing Students to the Taliban http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/10/23/climate-science-denialist-patrick-moore-tours-australia-after-comparing-students-taliban#disqus_thread Canadian climate science denialist Patrick Moore is at the beginning of a tour around Australia speaking to audiences across the country.
But here’s a warning. If you do find yourself in the audience and don’t want to be compared to the “Taliban” then don’t even think about walking out in protest.
Less than two weeks before flying to Australia, Moore spoke on the campus of Amherst Collegein Massachusetts. When members of the college’s environmental group decided they had heard enough and walked, Moore said they had a “Taliban mindset”.
When he was later asked to apologise, a report in the Amherst College student newspaper says Moore instead chose to double-down on his remark. “Fifty people walk out, and I say that’s a pretty Taliban thing to do,” Moore is reported to have said, characterizing the behavior of the young students to that of the fundamentalist regime that massacred thousands and committed brutal repression of women.
Who is Patrick Moore?
Moore has no scientific credibility on climate change and has never published a scientific paper on the issue. Yet Moore claims there is “no scientific proof” that humans are causing global warming and that “throwing bones on the ground” would have a better predictive ability than most climate models.
His opinion on the science runs against all the major national science academies in the world and about 97 per cent of all the peer reviewed studies on climate change carried out since the early 1990s. Continue reading
A hard-headed look at nuclear power Mike Childs 02 August 2013 http://www.foe.co.uk/news/nuclear_40884All the evidence is that we are facing a planetary emergency, especially with rapidly rising greenhouse gases and warnings from scientists of the potential breaching of tipping points. This isn’t a reason to panic but it is a reason to take a hard-headed approach in assessing and reassessing positions on technologies and practices. It also requires an ability to think out of the box and imagine a different future; or as Friends of the Earth’s strap-line says, see things differently.
It was with this hard-headed, seeing things differently, approach that we embarked on a review of the evidence for and against new nuclear power stations in the UK. The review could have thrown up information or evidence that would require us to change our current opposition to new nuclear power, but we undertook this review because we consider, objectively and without prejudice, the facts on the issues we work on. This is an important guiding principle given the planetary emergency context we are operating in.
To help us in our reassessment of the evidence we commissioned the Tyndall Centre at Manchester University to carry out a review. We commissioned them because they do not have a position for or against new nuclear power, they have expertise in nuclear power, and they are leading academics on climate change, especially carbon budgets. Their review was peer reviewed by academics in favour of nuclear power and against.
After receiving the Tyndall Report, and after considering it properly, we are of the view that continued opposition to new nuclear power stations in the UK is still a credible position.
The Tyndall Report found:
- The non-nuclear energy pathway that Friends of the Earth advocates is credible and compatible with the capabilities of a future electricity grid. The researchers suggested we should regularly review our energy pathway to take into account technological developments, particularly if higher levels of electricity are needed than modelled due to faster roll out of electric cars and heat pumps than the already very ambitious levels within our energy pathway. We will of course do so but given that the UK is particularly blessed with large amounts of renewable energy it is our current view that the resources are likely to be adequate to fulfil any potential extra demand.
- The health impacts of coal are worse than nuclear power – as Friends of the Earth has said in the past – and that recent life-cycle research also suggests this is the case for gas, including gas with CCS. It also suggests that life-cycle health impacts for renewables are broadly comparable to nuclear, but cautions that the life-cycle assessments have not accounted for all the health impacts resulting from nuclear accidents (e.g. mental health impacts as a result of relocation).
- Nuclear waste management remains an “unresolved issue” in the UK with no safe repository in place. A new build nuclear programme would not add significantly to the quantity of waste but could increase the overall radioactivity of the waste inventory by around 265 per cent.
- Higher estimates of the cost of nuclear power are more plausible than estimates of low costs, stating that “claims that nuclear power is cheaper than other low carbon options (including CCS and wind) are unlikely to be borne out in reality”.
The researchers urged us to advocate changes in energy use, supply and storage that are commensurate with reducing the UK’s emissions as fast as possible, and with the aim of securing a carbon intensity of electricity below 50g/CO2/KWh by 2030.
Since receiving the report we have updated our position paper. We continue to oppose the construction of new nuclear power stations, promote the rapid introduction of renewable energy – particularly offshore wind – and oppose the provision of subsidies to nuclear power as they are reducing the amount of money available to more sustainable energy saving and renewable energy technologies.
Specious comparisons between Australian uranium and Saudi oil have also been made by former South Australia premier Mike Rann, pseudo-academics Ian Plimer and Haydon Manning, Access Economics, and Comrade Paul Howes from the Australian Workers Union.
But Australia’s uranium export revenue in 2011 was 466 times lower than Saudi oil revenue in the same year − Australia would need to supply entire global uranium demand 31 times over to match Saudi oil revenue. The uranium industry accounts for 0.015 per cent of jobs in Australia, and in the 10 years from 2002-11 it accounted for just 0.29 per cent of national export revenue (with most of that revenue never coming anywhere near Australia because of the high level of foreign ownership).
The uranium industry hoped that the post-Fukushima spot price would rebound after it fell to $US50/pound … but then it fell to $US40 … and now it has fallen below $US30.
The uranium spot price fell to $US29/pound U3O8 on May 5 and has not budged since. Not since mid-2005 has the price been so low. The price is less than one-half of the pre-Fukushima price, and less than one-quarter of the price at the peak of the 2007 bubble.Uranium Investing News notes that “the phrase ‘uranium renaissance’ has been uttered so often that it has begun to feel like a bad joke”.
What’s going on?
The uranium lobby has been arguing that plans to begin restarting reactors in Japan later this year (all of Japan’s 48 reactors are currently shut-down in the wake of the Fukushima disaster) will lead to higher uranium prices. But as As FNArena notes, progress towards reactor restarts in Japan “has been glacial and anti-nuclear protest has been powerful”.
Japan’s uranium inventories probably amount to around 100 million pounds (45,400 tonnes) according to David Sadowski, a Raymond James analyst.
Sadowski added that many utilities around the world “are sitting on near-record piles” of uranium. It could take a decade or more before Japanese utilities exhaust existing inventories.
China is buying uranium − but is now sitting on stockpiles sufficient to meet current annual consumption eight times over. The uranium lobby hoped that the December 2013 end of a US-Russian agreement to downblend weapons uranium for use in power reactors would stimulate a price increase. But the spot price has fallen 17 per cent this year alone.
French state-controlled nuclear group Areva’s first-quarter revenue from its uranium mining unitfell 63 per cent. The mining arm of Russia’s state-controlled utility Rosatom has frozen uranium expansion projects in Russia and elsewhere (hence the Honeymoon mine in South Australia has been put into care-and-maintenance). Canadian giant Cameco has abandonedits earlier uranium production growth targets (and scaled back uranium exploration and development work in Australia). In 2012 BHP Billiton cancelled its planned expansion of Olympic Dam in South Australia and disbanded its uranium division. Wannabe uranium miner Marathon Resources gave up on the uranium game last year, stating that the “risks were more likely to exceed rewards”. Energy Resources of Australia is struggling with the political and economic fallout of a December 2013 leach tank collapse at the Ranger mine in the Northern Territory resulting in the spillage of 1.4 million tonnes of radioactive slurry; the collapse of a ventilation shaft a few weeks ago; and the revelations of a whistleblower published in the Mining Australiamagazine on May 5.
Australian-based Paladin Energy operated two mines in Africa but production at one of those mines has been suspended and the company is at risk of going bankrupt. As Paladin Energy chief executive John Borshoff said last July, “the uranium industry is definitely in crisis”.
A nuclear insider’s view
Just about everyone in and around the uranium industry consoles themselves with the thought that uranium prices will have to rebound sooner or later to stimulate new production, which will be required even if global nuclear power capacity continues to stagnate. A contrary view comes from Steve Kidd, an independent consultant and economist with 17 years of work at the World Nuclear Association and its predecessor, the Uranium Institute.
Writing in the Nuclear Engineering International Magazine on May 6, Kidd states that “the case made by the uranium bulls is in reality full of holes” and he predicts “a long period of relatively low prices, in which uranium producers will find it hard to make a living”……http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/5/29/energy-markets/uranium-%E2%88%92-how-low-can-it-go
Strange time to suggest a LEGO nuclear future for Australia , Independent Australia, Noel Wauchope 21 April 2014, By 2022, Australia could have many “Lego-like” small nuclear reactors in operation, dotted about the nation. This is being proposed now, not just by the long-term fervent believers in Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), but in formal submissions to the coming Energy White Paper.
Last month, the Department of Industry’s submission to the Energy White Paper pitched Small Modular Reactors as an energy solution for isolated areas in Australia, where there is no access to the electricity grid.
The Energy Policy Institute of Australia (EPI) agreed in its submission, suggesting in its submission small modular reactors (SMRs) are particularly suitable for use in mines and towns in remote locations around Australia.
The BHP-funded Grattan Institute’s submission envisages a string of these little nuclear reactors, connected to the grid, along Australia’s Eastern coast.
‘The Abbott government is being told that now is the time to flick the switch to “technology neutral,” opening the way for nuclear options.’
Orchison described the advantages of SMRs as ‘Lego-like’.
In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.
America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s. Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.
But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects………..
It should be noted that nowhere in [the original article about China, does the author] Chen mention “small” reactors. However, Australian proponents of ‘small’ reactors welcomed this article, as the Thorium Small Nuclear Reactor is the favourite type proposed for Australia from all 15 possible small designs.
So, while we’re being told that China is racing ahead in the scramble to get these wonderful SMRs, in fact, China has been very much encouraged and helped into this by the U.S. Department of Energy.
This is understandable, seeing that for China it is a government project, with no required expectation of being commercially viable.
In their enthusiasm for China’s thorium nuclear project, writers neglected to mention the sobering points that Stephen Chen made in his South China Morning Post article, such as:
- ‘Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented ‘war-like’ pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve.’
- ‘… opposition from sections of the Chinese public.’
- ‘… technical difficulties – the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals that could damage the reactor.’
- ‘The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.’
- ‘… engineering difficulties .…The thorium reactors would need years, if not decades, to overcome the corrosion issue.’
- ‘These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers.’……….
Australia’s SMR enthusiasts discount the known problems of SMRs. Some brief reminders from the September 2013 report, from the United States’ Institute for Energy and Environmental Research:
- ‘Economics: $90 billion manufacturing order book could be required for mass production of SMRs …the industry’s forecast of relatively inexpensive individual SMRs is predicated on major orders and assembly line production.’
- ‘SMRs will lose the economies of scale of large reactors.’
- ‘SMRs could reduce some safety risks but also create new ones.’
- ‘It breaks, you bought it: no thought is evident on how to handle SMR recalls.’
- Not a proliferation solution. ‘The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.’
- Not a waste solution: ‘The fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products like technetium-99 (half-life over 200,000 years).’
- Ongoing technical problems. ……….http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/strange-timing-to-suggest-a-lego-nuclear-future-for-australia,6404
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) launched the Australians for Coal website on Monday, before a television advertisement campaign, in order to extol the economic benefits of coal. The MCA has said the “silent majority” of Australians support coal, as opposed to a small but vocal group of anti-coal activists.
The site urges supporters to email their local MPs with a template letter that calls upon them to support the mining industry, which is “under attack from activists and extremists”.
When users enter a postcode, the website attributes their letter to all MPs in their home state, rather than just their local MP.
But the letters are also forwarded to “anti-coal activists”, with the Australian Conservation Foundation and Friends of the Earth confirming receipt of 28 emails. It is understood Greenpeace and anti-coal group Quit Coal were also sent emails. The emails sent to the environmental groups display each supporter’s name, postcode and email address. The emails to the non-government organisations abruptly stopped on Monday.
“It’s a really bizarre strategy – I now have these people’s names, emails and postcodes,” said Cam Walker, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “From go to woe this has been a pretty sloppy campaign.”
Walker said the MCA’s campaign had been “soundly trounced” by a largely critical reaction on social media……Bandt, the deputy leader of the Greens, said: “One of the emails came from Dame Gina Rinehart, so I’m not sure of its authenticity.
“The coal barons are terrified and rightly so. Coal is the next asbestos or tobacco and big coal is trying to fight that. I’m pleased this campaign has galvanised people who want to phase out coal.
“If everyday Australians love coal so much, why have one million of them put solar panels on their roofs? People are voting with their feet.”………
The MCA didn’t respond to questions put to it by Guardian Australia.http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/18/australians-for-coal-sent-supporters-letters-to-environmental-groups