Australian news, and some related international items

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane calls for volunteers to host radioactive trash dump

wastesIndustry Minister Ian Macfarlane says bidding for nuclear waste dump to begin in March ZACH HOPE NT NEWS DECEMBER 14, 2014   BIDDING to host Australia’s nuclear waste dump will begin in March, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has said. It comes after Northern Territory land councils lost exclusive nomination rights because they failed to meet two deadlines of September 30 and November 10 to offer a site.Landowners, pastoralists and indigenous groups across the country will now have the opportunity to submit a tender…………..

December 14, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

Traditional Aboriginal owners at Muckaty gear up for renewed fight against nuclear waste dumping

MuckatyhandsoffMuckaty landowners say nuclear dump fight is ‘back to square one’   in Darwin The owners feel the only way to protect the station is for it to be within the borders of the neighbouring Central Land Council The proposal of a second site for nuclear dumping at Muckaty Station sends the fight “back to square one,” traditional landowners say. They feel the only way to protect the area is to be within the borders of the neighbouring Central Land Council, which decided not to make a nomination last week due to local opposition.

Last week the case for a storage facility on Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory was reopened when one of the clan groups proposed a second parcel of land, just months after a bitter seven-year dispute appeared to have ended.

The Northern Land Council (NLC) had abandoned its nomination to the federal government to store low and intermediate radioactive waste in the area north of Tennant Creek as part of a settlement reached outside the federal court. It is now considering the new proposal.

One of the traditional owners, Dianne Stokes, told Guardian Australia the new proposal takes the fight “back to square one.” Continue reading

November 15, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

Public comments closed on nuclear waste plans: need for a national inquiry

WASTES-1Unproven and unfinished: Time for a new approach to managing Australia’s radioactive waste November 10, 2014 National civil society groups have urged federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane to display an open mind and an open door with a new approach to radioactive waste management.

The call comes as public comment closes today on a planned federal government move to start a national nomination process for potential waste dump sites.  This move follows the failure of a long federal push for a waste facility in the Northern Territory.

National environment groups, the ACTU, public health and Aboriginal representatives have urged the Minister to stop searching for a postcode for a remote dump and instead initiate an inquiry into the best way to manage this waste.

Australia has never had an independent, expert review of responsible management options. Continue reading

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

Rum Jungle uranium mine- its pollution still a costly problem over 60 years later

$200m sought to rehabilitate former Rum Jungle uranium mine, ABC News 31 Oct 14 By Joanna Crothers    The Rum-Jungle-mineDepartment of Mines and Energy is seeking $200 million from the Federal Government to rehabilitate the former Rum Jungle mine site.

Attempts to rehabilitate the site, Australia’s first uranium mine, stem back to the 1970s.

Scientists from the Department of Mines and Energy (DoE) have been drilling at the site over the past three weeks and analysing rock samples.It is estimated that five million cubic metres of rock will need to be relocated or re-buried in two of the mine’s deepest pits.

The process is likely to take three years and cost millions, scientists say…….Uranium and copper were mined at the site from the 1950s until the site closed in 1971. Waste rock at the site was buried but it started releasing acid and metals into the nearby East Finniss River. Ms Laurencont said the rocks were larger and more oxidised than was thought.

The Department said a purpose-built facility was needed to store the waste, so there was no further damage to the environment.

Last year the Federal Government allocated $14 million for developing a rehabilitation plan, in addition to $8 million already spent on a preliminary plan.

Acidic drainage has plagued the site since it closed and the Finniss River is a significant fishing sport for Indigenous people and Territory anglers.

The recreational reserve now known as the Rum Jungle South Recreation Reserve was shut from 2010 until 2012 by the Northern Territory Government where some low-level radiation was detected.

The Department will present its plan of rehabilitation to the Treasury in March next year.Other plans to rehabilitate include cleaning up other areas of the site and reintroducing vegetation onto the site.

November 3, 2014 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

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


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