Australian news, and some related international items

Expert, independent and public: Call grows for a new approach to radioactive waste management 

WASTES-1Australian civil society groups have called on the Federal Government to take a new approach to the vexed issue of radioactive waste management.

In an open letter to federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane national environment groups, the ACTU, public health and Aboriginal representatives have urged the Minister to move away from a search for a postcode for a remote dump in favour of a credible and open examination of the range of management options.

The groups’ letter states:

For over two decades, successive Australian governments have sought to manage Australia’s radioactive waste inventory through the development of a co-located remote central dump and store.  This approach has repeatedly failed to win social license and has been characterised by division, contest and the inability of the Commonwealth to realise a site.  There is no reason to think that repeating this approach in a new place would lead to a different outcome and seeking site nominations from communities that often suffer extensive economic disadvantage risks placing many in an invidious position. The approach taken to date on radioactive waste management has led to a polarisation of views and a lack of the consensus and discourse required to realise lasting solutions.

“As health practitioners we see that Australia now has both a real chance and the clear need to avoid another sweep it under the carpet response to our nuclear waste problem,” said Dr Peter Tait of the Public Health Association of Australia.

“A national inquiry into the long term, responsible management of Australia’s nuclear waste is overdue and necessary.” Continue reading

October 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

High level nuclear waste (not medical) soon to be returned to Australia

WASTES-1Mr Karamoskos says the public has been sold a furphy about what nuclear waste will be stored in any waste site.

He says most of the waste will not be medical waste.

‘Accumulated waste over the last 60 years from Lucas Heights, industrial and defence waste.

Time is running out to find a nuclear waste site in Australia Cameron Wilson, 10 Oct 14 The Federal Government is running out of time to find a safe nuclear waste site.

Within a year, nuclear fuel rods the French have been reprocessing for us will be returned to Australia. By 2020 more nuclear waste, which was being reprocessed in the UK, will be sent back too; and 60 years of accumulated industrial and defence nuclear waste, along with future medical waste, will also need a new home.

The government had hoped to bury the waste on Indigenous land in South Australia and then the NT but both attempts failed.Now, the government is considering allowing pastoralists with free-hold land to nominate their properties as nuclear waste storage sites.

Resources Minister Ian McFarlane says as of November 10, 2014, the tender process will be opened up to interested parties. John Armstrong is a cattleman in the Northern Territory. He’s expressed interest in nominating his land for hosting the nuclear waste. He believes it could bring infrastructure and investment to more isolated parts of the country. Continue reading

October 10, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment


The writing is on the wall for Rio – post-Fukushima the uranium commodity price is at an historic low, the global market outlook shows no signs of recovery and the company continue to lose millions at Ranger mine every year. NT and Commonwealth regulators need to use the Ranger 3 Deeps EIA process to take a sobering look at the mine’s struggling financial position, it’s poor worker safety, nuclear security and environmental record and use this opportunity to close the door on this costly and contaminating trade for good.”

7 Oct 14 The Environment Centre has vowed to contest any new uranium mining in Kakadu National Park and called on Rio Tinto to commit to a comprehensive closure and rehabilitation plan for Ranger uranium mine. The call coincided with an international day of action on October 7th with trade unions, communities and Indigenous groups protesting to highlight the health, environment and social impacts of Rio Tinto’s multinational mining operations.


Rio Tinto and subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia are currently seeking an approval to develop a new underground uranium deposit, Ranger 3 Deeps, despite recent claims that the company is unwilling to take responsibility for the $600 million plus clean-up costs from its open pit operation.

Rio’s Chief Executive Sam Walsh has repeatedly refused to take responsibility for rehabilitation, most recently at the company’s Melbourne AGM, suggesting instead that its subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia, 68% owned by Rio should bear sole responsibility despite its weak financial position.

Lauren Mellor from the Environment Centre NT said “We are supporting the international call today to hold Rio Tinto to account for its appalling track record on environmental, social and industrial safety issues. Here in the NT Rio’s Ranger uranium mine has recorded over 200 license and security breaches, spills, and accidents in its 30 year history. Continue reading

October 8, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Would YOU buy meat from land hosting a radioactive trash dump?

plate-radiationNT cattleman offers to host nuclear waste dump 6 Oct 14 “…….recently Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane has been looking at pastoral leases, and his problem could soon be over.

A Northern Territory cattleman, John Armstrong, from Gilknockie Station, 250 kms south of Katherine, says he’s willing to have the nuclear waste dump built on his property.  Why?  Because it’s a money spinner………

You might wonder why a cattle producer would want a nuclear waste plant anywhere near his cattle but Mr Armstrong has such vast tracts of land at his disposal, the facility would be a long way from where the cattle are raised, he said.

But something’s not right here.  There’s no way in the world I would buy meat from a supermarket or a butcher if I had the slightest suspicion it was produced on the same property housing a nuclear waste dump. It’s just not cricket.

To date, Mr Armstrong hasn’t been in touch with the federal minister but he’s watching and waiting for a government announcement for interested parties to apply……

October 6, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

NT News reports Aboriginal owners wanting to host radioactive trash dump

wastesNorthern Territory land councils race clock to nominate a radioactive dump site, NT News  BY ZACH HOPE OCTOBER 04, 2014  TRADITIONAL owners are racing against the clock to nominate a site to house Australia’s nuclear waste before the Federal Government opens the process to a national tender.

Traditional owner Geoffrey Wangapa Barnes, from the Ngatijirri clan of the Tanami Desert, said about 50 of 60 traditional owners gave in-principle support for a site northwest of Yuendumu during a meeting with Commonwealth staff and scientists last month.

It comes as the Northern Land Council continues its talks with traditional owners of the Muckaty Land Trust for a nomination north of the controversial site scuttled in June because of clan and family divisions.

Mr Barnes, a delegate of the Central Land Council, said traditional owners were left confused when the desert meeting ended without a compensation package put on the table.

It prompted him to email Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion but he said he received no response.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, who has responsibility for finding the radioactive waste site, said the department staff were only at the meeting to explain the issue and not negotiate a package.

“They (the traditional owners) need to write to me and put their case but they haven’t done that,” he said…….

Mr Barnes and his uncle, ousted CLC chairman Maurie Japarta Ryan, have called for another meeting between traditional owners, scientists and the Government before the next CLC meeting in the first week of November.

Despite an arbitrary deadline expiring on September 30, the land councils still have exclusive rights to nominate a site until November 10, when Mr Macfarlane will open a tender to groups anywhere in Australia. …….

October 6, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

Chief Minister Giles may offer Northern Territory site to host nuclear waste dump

wastesexclamation-Adam Giles may offer NT nuclear waste site if traditional owners fail to nominate locatio105.7 ABC Darwin  By Rick Hind 1 Oct 2014,   NT Chief Minister Adam Giles has suggested his Government may put up a site for a national nuclear waste dump if traditional owners fail to nominate one.

Traditional owners in the Northern Territory were asked to nominate their land for a nuclear waste facility by September 30.

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane had indicated that if a site was not nominated, a selection process involving land owners from anywhere else in the country would start in November……..

“We haven’t decided whether we will at the moment, but I think we will look at it if the land councils don’t nominate a site,” he said…….

“Potentially it’s an economic opportunity for the Territory, but it’s also an opportunity for the Northern Territory to show leadership on the national stage about where to store nuclear waste,” Mr Giles said……..

However, Mr Giles added that any discussion of a possible location for a waste facility was jumping the gun.

“Let’s not get too far in this argument because we haven’t done all the analysis at this stage,” he said……..

The Northern Land Council and the Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane have declined to comment until the nomination deadline passes.

October 1, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

Lucas Heights’ high level nuclear wastes to return to Australia from France – where to put them?


It’s best understood as the latest chapter in a long-running saga of how Australia deals with radioactive waste. We’ve got this spent nuclear fuel which is high level nuclear waste and later classified as long-lived intermediate level waste and that’s sent overseas for reprocessing and that’s the waste that’s going to come back.”

Government searching for nuclear waste site as time runs out  SBS News 30 Sept 14, Next year more than 11 tonnes of Australian nuclear waste will return from France after being sent overseas more than a decade ago. The government now faces the difficult and controversial task of finding a permanent home for it…….

Next year, more than 11 tonnes of nuclear waste will return to Australia after being sent to France more than a decade ago.

There, it’s been reprocessed into a more stable – but still highly radioactive – form.

Lucas Heights Plant Manager, David Vittorio explains.

“Reactor fuel is created in a form that’s useful for reactors. It’s not actually a form that’s useful for long-term storage so the whole idea of reprocessing is repackaging it into a chemical form and a materials form so that it’s suitable for long-term storage,” he says.

“So really what we’re receiving from France is in a glass matrix, suitable for long term storage.”

Under an agreement with France, Australia must take back the reprocessed waste in 2015. Continue reading

October 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

Australia’s Aboriginal Central Land Council suspicious of the government’s nuclear waste dump plans

CLC seeks more Red Centre nuclear waste dump answers By Robert Herrick Fri 12 Sep 2014,

Traditional owners in central Australia say they are frustrated by the Commonwealth’s process for nominating a site for a nuclear waste storage facility on Aboriginal land.

The Federal Government is seeking a new location for the facility, after a nominated site at Muckaty Station, near Tennant Creek, was abandoned.

The Government has given the Northern and Central land councils until the end of the month to put forward an uncontested site for a nuclear waste dump, before considering proposals from all landowners.


Traditional owners in the Tanami Desert are offering a site 540 kilometres west of Alice Springs.

However, the Central Land Council (CLC) said Commonwealth officials could not answer all the questions put to them at a meeting this week at the Tanami Mine, including how waste would be transported.

The CLC says it has a responsibility to ensure traditional owners are fully informed of the potential impacts of a nuclear waste dump before it can back any nomination.

September 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

Australian government will “let” residents offer their land as radioactive waste dump!

WASTES-1PUT IT IN THE BACKYARD: Government Considers Letting Australians Nominate Their Land As A Radioactive Waste Dump


The government has flagged it intends to open a nationwide volunteer process, similar to what is currently open to Aboriginal Land Councils in the Northern Territory, under the National Radioactive Waste Management Act.

If nominations are opened, land owners in all states and territories would be able to volunteer their properties for technical consideration.

“A site will only be selected if it can fulfil strict environmental requirements,” minister for industry, Ian Macfarlane said in a statement.

Those interested in having a radioactive facility built out the back have until November 10 to submit a proposal.

Macfarlane said all submissions will be considered before a decision is made to widen to selection criteria.

September 9, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

Australian government actively setting up bribes to Aboriginal communities to host nuclear waste dump

briberyGovernment ‘not short of choice’ for nuke dump site ABC Online Indigenous By Gail Liston and staff writers September 08, 2014 Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane is “confident” nuclear waste being stored under buildings in Sydney and Melbourne could still be headed for the NT.

The ABC understands traditional owners from central Australia are in talks to nominate a site in the Tanami Desert, 540 kilometres west of Alice Springs for a facility to house nuclear waste, in the wake of a site near Tennant Creek being withdrawn in the middle of a federal court challenge.

Earlier this year the Minister offered NT Aboriginal land councils an opportunity to nominate a site, which he said would be “worth millions and millions of dollars to whoever is successful”, after the Federal Government withdrew its nomination of Muckaty Station north of Tennant Creek.

Mr Macfarlane said he would only consider nominations that were uncontested, after theMuckaty nomination process which he later described as a disaster.

Asked if he was aware of a group from the Tanami offering land to build the site, Mr Macfarlane refused to answer directly.

“I am not going to talk about potential applications while the existing process is in operation. The Central and Northern Land Councils still have the best part of 20 days to supply me with a site,” he said.

“I can say I won’t be short of choice if this process goes beyond the current process with the Central and Northern Land Councils.”

I am receiving offers from potential sites from right across Australia,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“I am confident that if we don’t succeed in the current process we’ll succeed in the subsequent process to identify a site and build a repository so that nuclear waste that is currently being stored in shipping containers and car parks underneath CBD buildings in Sydney and Melbourne will have a proper place to be stored.”

The ABC has been told a delegation from the Central Land Council will start consultations with the traditional owners later this week.

The Tanami Road is the only way to access the site, but a 254 kilometre stretch remains unsealed.

Sealing the road is one of the key recommendations in the Federal Government’s plans for developing Northern Australia but could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Nat Wasley from the Beyond Nuclear Initiative says the Minister is trying to bribe desperate people into accepting nuclear waste. “He gave till the end of September, so it is not surprising that people are looking to have meetings and find out more information before that deadline,” he said.

“We are also seeing the situation where the Minister is dangling a carrot yet again in front of communities who desperately do need funding for outstations, roads and housing.

“I’m not sure of the exact location of the site that is being looked but it would be a concern if the Government is considering taking nuclear waste along unsealed roads for the very reason that it can’t find other ways to manage nuclear waste.”

Government keen to avoid another Muckaty……….

Mr Macfarlane later said the process to nominate Muckaty Station was “a disaster” but there was interest from Aboriginal land owners elsewhere.

He said if there were no takers for a dump in the NT by September he would open the bidding to the rest of the country, but warned any potential site would need to be undisputed.

“I’ll throw it open to anyone in Australia who can provide me with a block of land free of dispute and challenge that is environmentally suitable and that will be keenly sought after by a whole range of people – individuals, private property owners.”

September 9, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | 1 Comment

Australia is bound to take back nuclear wastes, but govt hypocrisy continues about its destination

a-cat-CANNote that the Australian government has learned nothing from the Muckaty experience.  They will still try to barter with Aboriginal communities  – with decent living conditions as most Australians have now offered in  exchange for radioactive trash dumping on Aboriginal land land.

Note that the government is still lying about the main purpose of the Lucas heights nuclear reactor –  pretending that the tacked-on nuclear medicine facility is the main thing.

That’s nonsense – the Lucas Heights reactor was set up originally in 1958 as the precursor to nuclear weapons and nuclear power for Australia.  Medical radionuclides can be obtained without a nuclear reactor.

wastesAustralian authorities are searching for a site to store 14 tonnes of nuclear waste heading from overseas  ELLEN WHINNETT NATIONAL POLITICAL EDITOR HERALD SUN AUGUST 18, 2014 A NATIONWIDE hunt is under way to find somewhere to store 28 containers of ­nuclear waste due to return to Australian shores by the end of next year.

The Federal Government is searching for a suitable site to permanently house the waste, which will be shipped back to Australia from France and the UK by the end of 2015.

The hunt follows the collapse in June of an agreement to store the waste on Aboriginal land at remote Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory.

The six cubic metres of treated waste will be held in stainless steel containers, which will weigh up to ­14 tonnes. The containers will be returned to Australia in a purpose-built storage container about a third the size of a shipping container.

The Government is seeking a remote site which has low rainfall and is geologically ­stable, and has identified Central Australia as potentially the most suitable region. Tens of millions of dollars could be expected to be paid to any community that agrees to house the waste on their land.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the Government was looking for sites submitted by landowners.

He said several land councils in Central Australia had been invited to consider nominating a site. A national tender will be held if no site is nominated by the Northern Land Council or Central Land Council by September 30.

The Commonwealth Government owns land at ­Woomera, in outback South Australia, and has been considering it as a potential site for a nuclear waste dump since the Howard government.

“The Government is committed to ensuring Australia has an appropriate facility for the management of radio­active waste created within Australia, largely as a result of nuclear medicine production,’’ Mr Macfarlane said.

The waste was created by the now-defunct HIFAR and Moata nuclear reactors which operated at the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney.

Under international agreements in the 1990s, Australia shipped the waste offshore to countries with more experience managing nuclear waste, including France, the UK and the US, for processing and storage. These countries reprocessed the waste, removing further radioactive materials from it before storing it.

The move has put pressure on the Government to find a permanent site to house the waste, and a further six drums of technological waste, generated during the reprocessing of our spent fuel.

French law does not permit the Australian waste to be held beyond 2015 and the Australian Government is not aware of any mechanism under which it could delay the return of the waste.

August 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

What is the best thing to do with Australia’s radioactive waste?

it is time to restore trust, credibility and common ground in relation to radioactive waste management based on good science, good process and acceptance that social and human concerns are valid and need to be addressed alongside technical criteria.  

What is clear is that the approach taken to date has failed – and if it is simply tried again in another place it is likely to fail again.  The government holds a duty of care to all Australians, including future generations, to get this issue right and the best start is through a dedicated National Commission into responsible waste management.

WASTES-1Many years, many debate and countless column inches later, the nation is no closer to a lasting solution to nuclear pollution. Why? By Dave Sweeney
It’s now just two months since the federal government’s long held plan to relocate Australia’s radioactive waste to a remote site in the Northern Territory collapsed during a high profile Federal Court action bought by Aboriginal Traditional Owners opposed to a dump on their country.

After seven years of sustained and against the odds campaigning the people of Muckaty and Tennant Creek dodged a forever bullet, but the celebrations have been clouded by the continuing radioactive rumour mill.

NT Senator Nigel Scullion has joined Chief Minister Adam Giles and former Prime Minister Bob Hawke in banging the nuclear drum and are now actively promoting a new Territory dump site for Australia’s, and possibly the world’s, radioactive waste. A recent flying visit to Tennant Creek by Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has also raised renewed emotions and concerns about the dump push.

Like the waste itself, the issue is far from dead.

But all this political re-positioning continues to miss the central and long-standing question – what is the best thing to do with Australia’s radioactive waste? Continue reading

August 16, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

Dr Jim Green puts the case for an independent Commission of Inquiry into radioactive waste management

Green,JimManaging Australia’s radioactive waste, Online opinion By Jim Green – , 12 August 2014 How should Australia manage radioactive waste? The short answer is that there is no obvious approach − hence the need for an independent Commission of Inquiry.

This discussion primarily concerns waste produced at the Lucas Heights nuclear research reactor site Lucas-09south of Sydney, operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), as well as much smaller volumes produced and/or stored at numerous medical, scientific and military sites. Radioactive waste produced at Australia’s uranium mines, from the use of Australian uranium overseas, and the radioactive contamination of Maralinga and other nuclear bomb test sites, are separate problems.

To date, efforts to find a radioactive waste repository site have been unsuccessful. For the past 15 years, Coalition and Labor governments have attempted a ‘crash though or crash’ approach, attempting to impose a repository first in South Australia and more recently in the Northern Territory − both attempts failed in the face of opposition from Traditional Owners and the wider community.

All options should be considered Continue reading

August 12, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

Victoria Daly Regional Council, (Northern Territory) backs down from radioactive waste plan

wastesTop End council denies radio-active dump plans ABC News  ABC Rural  By Carmen Brown  8 Aug 14 The Victoria Daly Regional Council is backing away from reports it is planning to build a dump capable of storing radio-active material in the Top End.

A council employee revealed plans to build a 100 hectare waste facility near Timber Creek, which would be used to store municipal waste and ‘listed’ items including farm chemicals, acids and low-level radio-active medical waste.

However, Victoria Daly Regional Council Mayor, Steven Hennesey, denies the claims and says the site will only be used for household rubbish and asbestos.

“It is not, under any circumstances, going to deal with radio-active waste, and it is not going to be a toxic dump,” he said……..

August 8, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

Bob Hawke sees importing nuclear waste as solution to Aboriginal disadvantage!

briberyBob Hawke: nuclear waste storage could end indigenous disadvantage.  Former prime minister says Northern Territory leader Adam Giles supports idea, despite rejection of Muckaty dump plan  in Arnhem Land, Sunday 3 August 2014 “….. Hawke said he was confident that the answer to long-standing indigenous socioeconomic problems was to allow radioactive waste to be stored on Aboriginal land, and use the revenue to improve living standards.

Speaking at the Indigenous Garma festival in the Northern Territory, Hawke said he had met Adam Giles, the territory’s chief minister, to discuss the idea and had got a favourable response……..”.I believe I have the answer. I’ve discussed this proposal with Adam Giles, who tells me he’s been approached by a number of elders who, like himself, are keenly supportive of the proposal.”

Despite having some of the largest deposits of uranium in the world, Australia has maintained a long-standing opposition to nuclear power and storing radioactive waste from overseas.

In June, traditional Indigenous owners in Muckaty Station, north of Tennant Creek, triumphed in a seven-year battle to stop domestic nuclear waste being dumped on their land……..

he stressed that the solution would give Australia “the capacity for substantial new expenditure on indigenous Australians”………Dave Sweeney, a nuclear-free campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation, said Hawke’s proposal was a “bloody disgrace”.

“Here you’ve got a privileged white man standing up saying this rubbish should be dumped on systematically disadvantaged people’s land,” he told Guardian Australia. “It’s offensive and it’s dumb.

“For more than 20 years Aboriginal communities at multiple sites in South Australia and the NT have mobilised and defeated federal government plans for a national radioactive waste dump on their country, most recently at Muckaty. To think that they will accept an international dump is fanciful.

“To put forward that the best way to address the shameful state of the economic and structural disadvantage of the world’s oldest continuing culture is through hosting the world’s worst industrial wastes is a profound and perpetual policy failure.”

August 4, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment


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