Australian news, and some related international items

Abbott govt calls for rural landowners to host nuclear trash dump

Lucas-wastesHands up if you want to host a toxic waste dump ROB HARRIS THE WEEKLY TIMES APRIL 16, 2015 LANDHOLDERS  are being asked to volunteer to host Australia’s next radioactive waste dump.

The Federal Government has advertised for landholders in all states and territories to nominate 100ha of land to “safely store and dispose of toxic waste”.The waste is mainly byproducts from medical, research and industrial processes.

The landholder of the select site will be offered “a generous payment”, while the local community will be given a “package of benefits”.

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said an Independent Advisory Panel had been established to help assess nominations. The Government said it will undertake “extensive” public consultation during every stage of the project.

Environment groups have urged that radioactive waste storage is not imposed on unwilling communities.

April 17, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

Beyond Nuclear Initiative monitors Australia’s Radioactive Waste Management

Lucas-wastesThe Beyond Nuclear Initiative considers this timeframe to be unnecessarily compressed and constrained, especially given that the first shipment of long-lived intermediate level waste returning to Australia from overseas reprocessing in December 2015 will be returning to a purpose built storage facility at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor complex just south of Sydney.

The Beyond Nuclear Initiative will continue to monitor progress of the NRWMP and inform stakeholders and interested parties of key developments and opportunities for input into the process. That this process is happening at all is a tribute to the tenacity of the Muckaty Traditional Owners who took such sustained action to protect their country and culture. It is also a tribute to all who supported them. Now we need to maintain our vigilance and efforts to advance radioactive waste management in Australia in a more socially and environmentally responsible way.

Radioactive Waste Update- March 2015   Natalie Wasley Beyond Nuclear Initiative coordinator.In June 2014 the Australian federal government abandoned plans to build the first national nuclear waste facility on Aboriginal land at Muckaty in the Northern Territory. The decision came half way through a federal court case challenging the nomination of the site and is a testament to the determined eight year campaign by Traditional Owners and their supporters around the country and world.

Australian non-government and civil society organisations, including environment groups, public health organisations and trade unions, have consistently requested the Minister halt the search for a single remote site in favour of a process based on an audit of all radioactive waste materials in parallel with an independent Inquiry that considered the full range of waste management options.

However, in November 2014 federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane instead announced intention to open a nationwide site nomination and selection process for locating a national radioactive waste facility. The National Radioactive Waste Management Project (NRWMP) was officially launched on Monday March 2 and aims to shortlist nominations, assess preferred sites and declare a final location by the middle of 2016.

The Beyond Nuclear Initiative considers this timeframe to be unnecessarily compressed and constrained, especially given that the first shipment of long-lived intermediate level waste returning to Australia from overseas reprocessing in December 2015 will be returning to a purpose built storage facility at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor complex just south of Sydney. Continue reading

March 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | 1 Comment

Continuing concerns about Australian government’s Radioactive Waste Management

wasteshighly-recommendedRadioactive Waste Management in Australia: The federal government’s revised search for a national facility ACF briefing paper: March 2015  Continuing issues and concerns:  “……·      The Government seems determined to establish a site before the next federal election, which is expected in the second half of 2016. There is no apparent plan in place if a suitable site cannot be found according to the assessment criteria in the proposed timeframe. There are no social or technical reasons to rush a decision that demands the highest quality decision-making, as the facilities currently storing the majority of Australia’s nuclear waste are secure and can provide adequate storage for many years.

  • Despite a wide range of civil society organisations calling for an independent Inquiry into the full range of nuclear waste management options, including decentralised storage, the Government appears set on a centralised co-located facility without an objective assessment of other management options.
  • The revised process allows for nominations of land from any State or Territory. South Australia, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory all have legislation in place prohibiting the storage or disposal of externally produced nuclear waste on their land. The National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012, (section 19) provides the federal government with the power to override these laws. Such a scenario undermines the commitment to ‘volunteerism’, as the democratic rights of the affected electorate would be violated. The federal government has stated that if ‘a freehold landowner put forward a site to become a nuclear waste dump, states or territories would not have veto powers, but the Government did not want to impose its decision without consultation’.
  • The Government has asked all nominators to give consent to public disclosure of the nomination and currently states that it will make nominations public. Ongoing monitoring during the nomination period is required to ensure this occurs and to inform our understanding of community attitudes in nominated regions.
  • The Government has stated its intention to engage with the regional communities in which short-listed sites are located, but does not declare consent by the community to be a condition for final site selection. Furthermore, an Independent Advisory Panel has been established whose objective is partly to develop a site identification methodology that best reflects stakeholder and community values. However, a truly inclusive approach should go beyond the identification stage and include actual consent to the siting. So far, the Department of Industry has only expressed that it may seek evidence of community support.
  • ‘A package of benefits may also be negotiated with the community of the selected site in recognition of the potential development, construction and operational impacts of the facility.’ No details have so far been given on the potential amount and duration of benefits, and this remains a point to observe and brief targeted communities on.
  • Further clarity is also needed in relation to the proposed National Repository Capital Contribution Fund – a fund of at least $10 million, which is a provision of the Act to enhance public services and/ or infrastructure in the State or Territory hosting the selected site. It remains unclear who makes decisions referring to this allocation and on what basis.
  • According to the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012, section 9 (3) the Minister does not have a duty to consider a nomination. This leaves potential for the un-justified preference of some nominations over others and requires monitoring.
  • It is currently uncertain what the position of the Government is on the potential withdrawal of nominations. This, however, seems to be an essential factor to consider in relation to ‘volunteerism’ and the decision making of interested landowners.
  • Compensation for the acquisition of the declared site is open to negotiations but supposed to be guided by a Land Value Calculation and a premium of 3 times the established market price. For 100 hectares of land in remote Australia, this does not equate to a large financial incentive for the landowner. Furthermore, ‘the Commonwealth reserves its right to determine, at its sole discretion, any offer it makes for the acquisition of property’, potentially making the compensation issue less transparent.
  • The actual declaration of a nominated site as the chosen one for a facility gives the Minister the right to acquire adjacent or related land required to access the declared site and may therefore affect the rights of community members, again a potential interference with the concept of ‘volunteerism’ and an issue to alert affected communities to.


March 25, 2015 Posted by | wastes | Leave a comment

Issues ignored in Radioactive Waste Management in Australia

wastesRadioactive Waste Management in Australia: The federal government’s revised search for a national facility ACF Briefing paper compiled by Anica Niepraschk, March 2015

“…………Related issues/ wider impact

As the current process focuses on the selection of a site, it leaves some issues untouched that are of high importance when establishing a National Radioactive Waste Facility:

  •  The safety of workers at the facility as well as in the wider nuclear waste industry (such as in the transport and securing of waste) needs to be ensured.
  • Not only the community in near proximity of the site will be affected but also the communities along the transport routes between the facilities producing or currently storing nuclear waste and the newly established facility. A clear plan on how to engage with these communities and ensure their safety should be developed. At the current stage, there is no indication any such engagement will take place and once again, resistance among the transport routes can indirectly interfere with the proposed concept of ‘volunteerism’.
  • Communities are organic mechanisms and so are characterised by change. Engaging with the affected community at the selected site only during the selection process does not live up to the requirements of such a high-safety issue. Continuous engagement, including consultations and sensitisations as well as transparent access to information, is required beyond the selection process, encompassing the establishment and day-to-day operations of the facility for its whole lifespan.

 For questions, comments or additional information please contact:

Dave Sweeney – Nuclear Free Campaigner, ACF:

Anica Niepraschk – Nuclear Free Campaign Intern, ACF:

Natalie Wasley – Beyond Nuclear Initiative (BNI):

March 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

Australian Capital Territory rejects hosting radioactive waste dump

Environment Minister Simon Corbell says radioactive waste is not welcome in ACT, Canberra Times March 14, 2015 Matthew Raggatt The ACT government would reject any moves to build a radioactive waste facility in the territory, its deputy leader has said.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell said he doubted the nation’s smallest jurisdiction – half of which is covered by national parks and state forests – would make the federal government’s cut for a new site.

“It is extremely unlikely there is any land suitable in the ACT for this activity,” he said.

Earlier this month the federal government called for nominations from landholders of any state or territory for a site for a national permanent radioactive waste management facility. The site would allow for the storage and disposal of “low level and intermediate level waste”, produced in Australia from a range of scientific and industrial/medical activities. …….

A spokeswoman for the Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane said details of the nominated sites would be made public after all applications were received and the minister had considered them.

The spokeswoman said the majority of Australia’s radioactive waste was stored by the Commonwealth at two sites, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation campus at Lucas Heights and the CSIRO facility at Woomera in South Australia.

The Defence Department, Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, state and territory governments and other scientific, industrial and research organisations also stored some waste.

Australia does not produce or store high level radioactive waste, the federal government said.

If you want to put forward your land to be bought for the project, you have until May 5.

March 16, 2015 Posted by | ACT, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste that originated in Lucas Heights is due to return to Australia soon

text-cat-questionWhy don’t people realise the distinction between the relatively small amounts of nuclear waste (originating at Lucas Heights) that Australia is contracted to take back, and the greedy dream of some to import nuclear wastes from other countries?

Four shipments of Australian radioactive waste was sent to France for “reprocessing” between 1999 and 2004, and the first of it will be returned by sea to Australia between September and March 2016. 

text-wise-owlMore time needed to plan for nuclear waste dump: councils,
SMH, March 13, 2015 –  Resources reporter Councils interested in housing Australia’s radioactive waste dump have complained the Abbott government’s tender period is too short for them to make a decision, inclusive with their communities, on the divisive issue.

The government has given landowners and communities two months to nominate as the best location for the national waste facility, which will permanently house intermediate level nuclear waste produced at the Lucas Heights reactors in southern Sydney. Continue reading

March 14, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

South Australian Federal Liberal MP Rowan Ramsey wants nuclear waste dump in Grey electorate

Lib MP happy to store nuclear waste 9 News 6 Mar 15 Federal Liberal backbencher Rowan Ramsey says he’d happily store nuclear waste on his South Australian farm.


The federal government has called for landholders to nominate sites for a national dump to store nuclear waste generated by medical, research and industrial processes.

Mr Ramsey, whose massive electorate of Grey covers almost 92 per cent of SA, says there’s nothing to fear about nuclear waste.

 He suggested that plans to store the waste near Woomera in central SA could be revived, and flagged that his own 2400ha farm could even be an option.

“I am very relaxed about the idea that they might find a good site in my electorate again,” he told ABC radio on Thursday……

The state Labor government’s royal commission into the nuclear industry is looking at the prospects of nuclear waste facilities in SA.

But with the inquiry set to stretch into 2016, it’s unlikely SA will endorse a site before the federal government’s nomination process closes on May 5.


March 6, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia, wastes | 1 Comment

Federal government calls for nominations, by May 5, to host radioactive waste

wastesNuclear waste dump search restarts  3 Mar 15 The federal government has called for voluntary nominations of sites for a national nuclear waste dump.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane says any landholder could nominate a site to store intermediate level radioactive waste and dispose of low-level waste.

Australia has 4248 cubic metres of low level and 656 cubic metres of intermediate level waste in temporary storage across more than 100 sites.The waste has been generated by medical, research and industrial processes.

An independent advisory body will assess the nominated sites against a number of criteria.

These include community well-being, stable environment, environmental protection, health, safety and security and economic viability. At the end of the assessment and public consultation the government will negotiate with the landholder of the selected site.

Site nominations close on May 5.

The South Australian government’s royal commission into the nuclear industry is looking at the prospects of nuclear waste facilities in that state.

Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles has also shown an interest in putting forward a site.But last year he said it would not be done without “full information and dialogue with Territorians”.

In June 2014 the Northern Land Council withdrew its nomination for a section of Muckaty Station, north of Tennant Creek, as the site for Australia’s first nuclear waste dump amid a legal dispute.Further talks on alternative sites failed, triggering the new selection process.

Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney says the decision should not be rushed. “We have time to get this issue right,” he said.

“The minister’s revised process is significantly better than the previous one, but we are still a long way short of where we should be.”

The first concerted effort to build a dump occurred under the Labor government in 1992, identifying a site near Woomera in SA.

March 4, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

Pro nuclear spin hides the real motive behind South Australia’s Royal Commission – a nuclear waste import industry

The real motive….  the Royal Commission is not about nuclear power. It is another attempt to establish a waste-dump in South Australia.

South Australia’s broad-brush nuclear review is meant to sideline opponents, The Conversation, Peter Burdon 27 February 2015, Senior lecturer at University of Adelaide The draft terms of reference for South Australia’s planned Royal Commission on the nuclear industry, which are open for public consultation until the end of next week, are deliberately broad.

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

February 28, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia, spinbuster, wastes | 1 Comment

Highly respected South Australian Aboriginal, Yami Lester, speaks out on nuclear waste dump plan

I’m hoping  you will support us with this very important issue which has arisen from SA Goverenment regarding a Royal Commission into Nuclear Energy and proposal to store high-level nuclear waste at Maralinga, South Australia

Please read. With thanks,  Yami Lester, Yankunytjatjara Walatinna Station, South Australia (08) 8670 5077

Lester, YamiStatement on Royal Commission into Nuclear Energy and proposal to store high-level nuclear waste at Maralinga, South Australia:

In 1953 I was just ten years old when the bombs went off at Emu and Maralinga, I

didn’t know anything about nuclear issues back then, none of us knew what was happening. I got sick, and went blind from the fallout from those tests, and lot of our people got sick and died also.

Now I’m 73 years old and I know about nuclear issues, and I have some friends who know about nuclear waste, and they will fight the South Australian Government on their plans to put high-level nuclear waste at Maralinga and to develop nuclear energy in South Australia.

Why does the government keep bringing back nuclear issues when we know the problems last forever?

The Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia (1984-85) revealed

what happened at Maralinga but it never told what happened to Aboriginal people; the findings were left open.Lawyers proved that there was radiation fallout over Walatinna, but because wenever had any doctors records to document what happened to us, (the closest clinic was Ernabella, 160km away as the crow flys and we didn’t have any transport to get there), we only had our stories and they were never written down.

A few years ago they cleaned up Maralinga from the waste that was leftover from the bomb tests; they spent $1 million, and now they’re going to put more waste back there?

That’s not fair because it’s Anangu land and they won’t be able to use that land.

Members from the APY, Maralinga-Tjarutja and Arabunna, Kokatha lands say we don’t want nuclear waste on our land.

The best thing the government can do is the leave the uranium in the ground, stop mining it.

We ask the South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, to talk to Aboriginal people on the lands, and to everyone who has been directly affected by the atomic tests and nuclear industry in Australia before he makes any decisions for South Australia.


February 28, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, politics, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste generated at Lucas Heights is a very small amount – Ziggy Switkowski

text-wise-owlNuclear waste dump needed, SA could fill gap, ABC Radio P.M  February 23, 2015  Natalie Whiting reported this story

“……….NATALIE WHITING: Is the Federal Government going to need a sight for waste storage earlier than when we might see this royal commission wrap up?

ZIGGY SWITKOWSKI: Yes it will, there is waste being continuously generated from the one research and production reactor that we have at Lucas Heights and there are agreements in place to that some of that waste has been sent overseas for reprocessing, but with the understanding that it would be returned to Australia.
Now it’s a very very small amount. I mean a small amount that might… would be hard-pressed to fill a truck, but obviously you have to handle it very carefully and so between the management of the so called intermediate level waste as well as the very low level waste associated with nuclear medicine and radioactive therapy, you need a small repository and frankly the engineering – the technical challenges of that sort of storage is trivial. But as we’ve found in Australia, no matter which government is in power, the ability to make a decision to identify a storage site and then to commission it has proven to be very difficult politically and socially.

NATALIE WHITING: Nuclear fuel rods from France are set to be returned to Australia before the end of the year

More nuclear waste, which is being reprocessed in the UK, will be sent back by 2020……”

February 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, wastes | Leave a comment

South Australian Labor – a nuclear waste dump to fix money problems?

text-cat-questionIsn’t that just a lovely idea?  Have South Australia’s labor politicians no brains? It”s like advocating cigarette smoking in order to fix obesity ( an idea I pinched from that great South Australian, Dr Helen Caldicott)

South-Australia-nuclearLabor eyed outback nuclear waste ‘windfall’ to wipe out state debt    SA Bureau Chief ADELAIDE  Political Reporter
 AN outback nuclear dump was considered by the South Australian Labor government in 2012 as a “silver bullet” to solve the state’s debt problems. An internal cabinet document obtained by The Australian reveals the government considered a plan to use the billions in revenue from a waste-storage facility to pay off debt and establish an infrastructure fund. It also proposes that, over time, nuclear waste could be tapped as a new source for power generation, and flags a public relations campaign to sell the idea.

The revelation comes after Premier Jay Weatherill last week announced a royal commission into nuclear power, saying it was time for a “mature” discussion about the potential to expand the state’s role in the fuel cycle.

However, the most senior South Australian Liberal, Christopher Pyne, yesterday rejected Mr Weatherill’s inquiry, putting him at odds with Tony Abbott.

“We have all the energy we need here in Australia … whether it’s coal energy — I do not support an extension to nuclear energy,” the Education Minister told ABC radio.

The Prime Minister has backed the royal commission, saying Mr Weatherill had offered “a gale of common sense”.

Mr Weatherill was Premier when then employment minister Tom Kenyon presented the “silver bullet” proposal to a cabinet planning day, arguing that a pro-nuclear policy to build on the state having one of the world’s largest uranium mines, Olympic Dam, would turn around the state’s finances. It flags the problems of spiralling debt of more than $10 billion, “no sign of a turnaround in budget” and flagging confidence in the economic future of the state as reasons for building a nuclear storage facility.

“Rather than suffering a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ in the lead up to 2014, a single decision could turn the budget on its head,” the document says.

A series of bilateral deals with targeted nations such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the US are flagged to provide “an unprece­dented revenue windfall” in exchange for taking thousands of tonnes of nuclear waste.

“It is proposed this windfall be used to wipe out state debt, and implement a state infrastructure fund to enable a huge program of building works to drive the economy and deliver a boom to the state well in excess of any ‘mining boom’,” the report says.

Hosting Australia’s low-level waste would be conditional on ­allowing imported waste — a “non-negotiable aspect of the ­arrangement”.

Yesterday, Mr Kenyon — who remains a backbench MP — said all ministers received the ­November 2012 document, but he would not comment on cabinet deliberations.

“I think it has a lot of ­potential for the economy and I will ­certainly be putting that to the royal commission,” he said.

Mr Weatherill told The Australian yesterday that Mr Kenyon had been a “long-time advocate for increased involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle”.

“There are many views both in the Labor Party and in the wider community on this issue and I would ask anyone interested to make a submission to the royal commission,” Mr Weatherill said.

Mr Kenyon’s proposal raises the idea of locating the storage ­facility at sites previously earmarked by the commonwealth for a nuclear dump site, despite these being fiercely opposed by former Labor premier Mike Rann in 2004

February 20, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Concern that the Nuclear Royal Commission is really about a radioactive trash import business

MARK PARNELL: Giving one week is a ludicrous short time frame. 

WASTES-1NATALIE WHITING: The Premier, Jay Weatherill, has said he thinks it would be more likely that the commission recommend the establishment of a waste dump rather than power station.

Craig Wilkins from Conservation SA says that’s concerning.

CRAIG WILKINS: The only real market gap in the nuclear cycle is around receiving the world’s top nuclear waste. Certainly nuclear power and nuclear enrichment are just not feasible in the short term in our state. So that’s a big conversation. So I suppose part of our concern is that this inquiry is a bit of a Trojan horse for that agenda.

NATALIE WHITING: He says it has been difficult getting a submission up in the time frame

AUDIO Nuclear Royal Commission moves forward in SA MARK COLVIN: A royal commission is the biggest, most thorough, but often most expensive way Australia has of investigating an issue.  ABC Radio P.M. 

But in South Australia, just a week after the surprise announcement that of a royal commission into developing a nuclear industry, submissions on what the terms of reference should be are already closing. There’s been some criticism of that short time frame. Continue reading

February 18, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Recalling the Liberal Party’s push for importing foreign nuclear wastes

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.

logo-IFNECAustralia 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 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.

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 statement

“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

February 4, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, secrets and lies, wastes | Leave a comment

Nowhere to put Lucas Heights nuclear waste – but they still keep making it!

text-wise-owlNuclear waste returning to Sydney from France  State Politics Editor, The Sun-Herald   A shipment of radioactive waste being returned to Sydney from France by December has raised concerns Lucas Heights is becoming a “de facto” national store.

Federal government plans to build a national radioactive waste dump at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory collapsed last year, and a new search for a site will begin in March.

With no permanent national repository, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation has been forced to build an interim waste store at Lucas Heights for the French shipment. It will include 28 stainless steel canisters of reprocessed waste, and six cemented drums of technological waste, including gloves and protective clothing worn by French nuclear workers.

The waste will be shipped from La Hague from July, immobilised in glass in canisters and shielded inside a specially designed forged steel transport container with 20-centimetre thick walls.

Australia sent the radioactive material from its nuclear research reactor to France in the 1990s for reprocessing, but under legal agreements, it must be removed from France by December 2015. More waste will be returned from Britain in 2017. Continue reading

January 19, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, wastes | Leave a comment


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