Australian news, and some related international items

Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into Lucas Heights Nuclear Waste Management Facilities

Upgrade and extension of radioactive waste management facilities at Lucas Heights House of Representatives, Parliament of Australia, 5 Feb 16 
text-wise-owlThe Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works today announced that it is conducting an inquiry into the upgrade and extension of radioactive waste management facilities for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

ANSTO’s submission notes that current storage facilities will reach full capacity early in 2017 and although locations for a new facility are being considered, the new facility is not expected to be operational until 2020.

The inquiry will examine existing low and intermediate-level solid waste facilities at Lucas Heights that require extension and upgrade, with extension works for the low-level solid waste facilities expected to be completed by April 2017, and works for the intermediate-level facilities to be completed by June 2018.

In addition to upgrading and extending storage capacity, works will include upgrading ventilation and security systems, electrical infrastructure and surrounding roads.The estimated cost of the project is $22.3 million and it is anticipated that the Committee will conduct public and in-camera hearings for the inquiry in the near future.

Further information on the public hearing will be available soon on theCommittee’s website.

Submissions to the inquiry close on 10 March 2016.

NB the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works is neither involved in the tendering process nor the awarding of contracts. Enquiries on those matters should be addressed to ANSTO.

For media comment – Office of Senator Dean Smith (Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works) (08) 9481 0349 Committee Secretariat (02) 6277 4636Full details on the project are available on the Committee’s website.


February 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Queensland government rejects any nuclear waste dump plan

Queensland--antinukeQueensland says ‘no’ to national radioactive dump plan February 3, 2016 senior reporter The Palaszczuk government has ruled out supporting any plan to build a national radioactive waste storage facility anywhere in Queensland.

That includes Oman Ama, the small town on the Cunningham Highway between Inglewood and Warwick, where a private landowner had put forward his property as a potential radioactive waste site.

Information from the Australian government project confirms intermediate-level radioactive waste would be “temporarily” stored at the chosen facility for many years, while the majority of radioactive waste would be low-level.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says intermediate-level radioactive waste “contains higher radioactivity levels than low level waste. It requires shielding when handled. Intermediate level waste – generated during operation of a nuclear power plant – consists mostly of ion exchange resins used to clean the water circulating through the reactor.”

Queensland has now written to the Australian government and asked that all potential Queensland radioactive waste storage sites be removed from the Australian government’s shortlist of six potential sites.

This was revealed in a letter on January 25, 2016, written on behalf of State Development Minister Anthony Lynham, to one of the opponents of the proposed radioactive waste dump.

Private land holder Gordon Donovan – who owns land at Oman Oma, suggested his property as a radioactive dump. The federal government has offered $10 million for the community which is eventually chosen to accept the waste.

The January 25 2016 letter, from Dr Lynham’s policy advisor, says the Queensland government will not support “in any circumstances” a radioactive waste storage facility in Queensland.

I wish to advise that the Queensland government does not support, in any circumstances, anywhere in Queensland being utilised for radioactive waste storage,” the letter says.

“Minister Lynham has specifically written to the Honourable Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, asking that he remove Queensland sites from the Australian government’s shortlist for the storage of radioactive waste.”

The decision was welcomed by Bob Morrish, from the lobby group Friends of Oman Ama which is effectively southern Darling Downs grazing land with a single service station.

“It is very heartening to us to see that the state government will back their legislation dating back to 2007; that’s their Prohibition of Nuclear Facilities Act,” Mr Morrish said……..

February 5, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, Queensland, wastes | Leave a comment

South Australian community in Kimba alarmed: nuclear waste site “at Minister’s discretion”

radioactive trashCommunity shortlisted for nuclear waste site says consultation is driving community apart ABC Radio PM 1 Feb 16   “……..NATALIE WHITING: Three of the six sites shortlisted for Australia’s nuclear waste dump are in the federal seat of Grey in South Australia.

Two of those are in the small farming community of Kimba. Local farmer Peter Woolford says consultation about the proposal is taking its toll.

PETER WOOLFORD: The stress that’s there is quite evident, and the community is fractured…….

The Commonwealth’s consultation team has visited Kimba three times since the shortlist was announced in November.  They’ll be back again this month.

PETER WOOLFORD: They meet with groups, they meet with individuals, so to me it’s a pretty divisive thing doing it separately, and in small groups, but you know, that’s what they have to do.  They say they’re trying to get word to everybody, and I guess that’s the consultation process.

NATALIE WHITING: The Federal Government has said the shortlist will be whittled down further in March. But across the border in New South Wales, a shortlisted community has already been told they won’t be getting the dump.

The Federal Member for Calare, John Cobb, assured a packed community meeting in Hill End on the weekend that it wouldn’t be the site. He said he had already spoken with the Minister, and it would be ruled out because of community opposition. That’s frustrated some people in Kimba……..

PETER WOOLFORD: The consultation team cannot tell us what percentage is against, you know, we’ve asked that question to them, you know, what percentage against will stop this? But at the end of the day they keep saying to us that it’s up to the Minister’s discretion. And they said to us they will find a site.

NATALIE WHITING: The Commonwealth process has been running alongside South Australia’s Royal Commission into the Nuclear Cycle.

The Royal Commission will hand down its tentative findings in a fortnight. It has been investigating all possible involvement in the industry – from waste storage to power generation.

The country’s chief scientist Alan Finkel told Radio National he looks forward to advising the Commonwealth when it responds to the findings.

ALAN FINKEL: The primary focus I anticipate from the report will be on storage: is there an opportunity for Australia, in particular South Australia, to have a role in a global nuclear fuel cycle by taking the role of long term storage.

NATALIE WHITING: That goes well beyond the waste plans currently being discussed by the Government……..

February 3, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Community opposition stops nuclear waste dump: U-turn by MP John Cobb on nuclear policy

Protest-No!Hill End nuclear waste dump ruled out due to community opposition, ABC News 29 Jan 16 By Nick Dole

A nuclear waste facility will not be built at Hill End in central-west New South Wales because community opposition to the proposal is so strong, the Federal Government has said.

The site at Hill End, north of Bathurst, was one of six being considered for a nuclear waste facility.
It was offered up by a local landowner, who could be paid four times the land’s market value.

At a packed public meeting on Saturday, dozens of residents spoke against the concept, telling representatives from the Federal Government that Hill End was a “totally inappropriate” location.

Many residents expressed concerns about potential water contamination or the risk of transporting radioactive material.  Local resident Kerri Burns said Hill End should be removed from the selection process immediately.
“We’ve been polite, but if this goes further, the gloves are off,” she said.

The audience was told Hill End would remain on the shortlist for now, due to a legislated consultation process.

But the Member for Calare, John Cobb, said he had already communicated the community’s view to Minister Josh Frydenberg.

“I said, ‘We are not going to be building this at Hill End’ and he looked at me and I said ‘The community is against it and they are not going to change their mind’,” Mr Cobb said……..

January 31, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, opposition to nuclear, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Mongolia secret [but failed] nuclear waste deal – a model for Australia?

This article relates to Mongolia, but the principles would also apply to Australia, on the basis that anywhere will do. The waste in question is not only Japanese waste, but also waste produced in nuclear power plants exported by Toshiba/Westinghouse

secret-agent-Smwhile ostensibly the negotiations were between the three governments, the plans for the deal were drawn up by the U.S. and Toshiba with the aim of selling nuclear power plants to emerging economies under a scheme called Comprehensive Fuel Service.

According to this scheme, vendors assure potential customers that they will handle any future nuclear secret-dealswaste produced by power plants the customers buy, which is why Mongolia’s acceptance of such waste is so important. Due to local resistance, neither the U.S. nor Japan has anywhere to dump spent fuel, even their own.

The reason Yamada became so interested in this topic years after the fact is that in the meantime, Toshiba has been caught up in financial scandals that have brought the company to its knees, and he wanted to explore the connection between Toshiba’s nuclear energy business and its fiscal woes.

the U.S., desperate to find a friendly country to accept nuclear waste, was pushing Japan to make a deal with Mongolia.

The elephant in the room for Toshiba is nuclear

Japanese press outlets often cover scoops from competing outlets, but it’s rare to build on a competitor’s story with original reporting, especially when the scoop is a few years old. In December, the weekly magazine Aera, which is affiliated with the Asahi Shimbun, ran an article about a secret meeting that took place between representatives of Japan, Mongolia and the United States almost five years ago. This meeting was first reported by Haruyuki Aikawa in the May 9, 2011, issue of the Mainichi Shimbun.

What interested Aera reporter Atsushi Yamada about the article was Aikawa’s assertion that Toshiba Corp. was on hand for the negotiations. Continue reading

January 19, 2016 Posted by | secrets and lies, wastes | Leave a comment

What materials will go into waste repositary for Lucas Heights nuclear trash?

radioactive trashRadioactive waste in Australia, Medical Association for the Prevention Lucas-09of War (MAPW) 18 Jan 16  …………….Where does the radioactive waste to be deposited in this repository come from? The repository is designed for “low level” and “intermediate level” waste; as of 2014 a total of 4,906 cubic metres (m3 ).
1 • Low level waste will be the largest amount by volume with 4250m3 (87%). More than half is contaminated soil in ten thousand drums (located at Woomera) from CSIRO ore research in the 1950s and 1960s. Less than half is Lucas Heights’ reactor waste. The remainder is contaminated soil (20m3 ), old industrial gauges, smoke detectors, medical equipment, luminous signs and CSIRO waste and research sources.
 • Material from the old Radium Hill mine site will also be sent to the repository. • Intermediate level waste (656m3,, 13%) is the most hazardous and requires the most isolation from the environment and humans. Most of it is ANSTO reactor operational waste, with much of the rest from past mineral sands processing. Much of the 100m 3 of state/territory waste comes from industrial, medical and research equipment. There is a small proportion of radium legacy waste part of which was used in cancer treatments until about 1976.
 • Future intermediate level waste will nearly all come from waste/spent fuel from the decommissioning the HIFAR and MOATA nuclear reactors. These were replaced by the OPAL reactor. This spent fuel has been sent to Scotland and France for reprocessing. The first returning shipment in 2015 comprised of 25 tonnes in concrete containers.
When will the repository be operational? Who knows? The previous deadline of 2015 was missed requiring further interim storage at Lucas Heights until a permanent repository is found. ….

January 18, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, wastes | Leave a comment

The planned repositary for Lucas Heights returning nuclear waste

text-wise-owlRadioactive waste in Australia, Medical Association Lucas-09for the Prevention of War (MAPW) 18 Jan 16  What will the repository look like? “……The low level waste will be permanently disposed of in a shallow trench covered by 5 metres of soil with plastic and clay lining to prevent water and other materials entering. The nuclear fuel waste, which is intermediate level waste, is too hazardous to be managed in this manner, so will be placed above ground in a temporary purpose-built store3 . Is the repository a permanent management solution? No. This is merely an interim repository for the intermediate level waste. There is no timeline set for a permanent solution. Permanent disposal of intermediate level waste requires deep geological burial. So the Commonwealth repository follows IAEA recommendations only for the low level waste (see below). It does not meet the permanent disposal needs of the intermediate level waste, and defers accountability indefinitely
Does the repository meet world’s best practice? The IAEA stipulates that reprocessed spent fuel comprising long-lived intermediate level waste (e.g. the waste return ing from Scotland and France) “contains long lived radionuclides in quantities that require a high degree of isolation 3 from the biosphere”. This is typically provided by disposal in geologic formations at a depth of several hundred meters4 . Interim storage is permitted above ground until the deep geological repository is prepared. Best practice must dictate a plan and timeline to enable this. Currently we don’t have such a plan. Interim in this case really means indefinite. Australia’s “interim storage” designation is a stealth method of avoiding an appropriate permanent solution.
Will the repository be suitable for storing spent nuclear fuel, say from nuclear power stations? No. It is not even suitable for permanently disposing of the reprocessed nuclear reactor fuel we will be receiving. Just one (average) nuclear power reactor produces 3000 cubic metres of low and intermediate level waste per year plus some 30 tonnes of high level solid packed waste per year.
We are currently struggling to deal with 4000 m3 of low and intermediate level waste accumulated over 50 or 60 years. High level waste requires permanent storage in deep geological formations for several hundred thousand years. Every year around the world 12,000 tonnes of high level waste and 130,000 m3 of low and intermediate level waste are produced from the generation of electricity from nuclear power by 438 nuclear reactors. There is no permanent repository for high level waste anywhere in the world.

January 17, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, wastes | Leave a comment

MP Bruce Scott now has “deep reservations” for Oman Ama as nuclear waste site

politicianMP reveals “deep reservations” for nuclear waste sit  | 6th Jan 2016 MARANOA MP Bruce Scott has weighed in on the proposed nuclear waste facility at Oman Ama, admitting he has “deep reservations” about the issue.

The outgoing Federal MP has been neutral on the issue since the small community, west of Warwick, was announced as one of six sites shortlisted for a nuclear waste dump.

Mr Scott has vowed to make sure the Oman Ama site does not go ahead if that is the wish of the community. “I believe a decision of this magnitude needs to be made by the local community, giving consideration to the impacts the proposed facility may have on the region’s farming potential,” he said.

“The proposed nuclear waste facility is dependent on broad community support. “If local residents and concerned neighbours do not support the proposed location, I will work with my ministerial colleagues to ensure the Oman Ama site does not go ahead.”

The comments come as Senate candidate Belinda Marriage called on both Mr Scott and Southern Downs MP Lawrence Springborg to represent the views of the community.

A vocal opponent of the facility, Ms Marriage said she had attempted to contact Mr Scott several times to express the feelings of the community, to no avail.

Ms Marriage, who runs a free-range pork property at Karara, said it was clear the people of Oman Ama had spoken.

“Mr Springborg, the Queensland state representative, needs to represent this community,” she said.”The overwhelming majority of the community are saying no to the dump. “How much clearer do they have to make it?”

Mr Springborg was unavailable for comment yesterday, however, in the past he has declared he had an “open mind” on the issue.

For those opposed to the facility though, the case is already closed. Ms Marriage said it was time to bury the Oman Ama proposal. “With the strong support against having a nuclear dump in our agricultural region, I urge the ministers to listen to our wishes and desist in trying to bully us into having a dump built in our rich agricultural history,” she said.

“The community wants to go back to doing what they do best, raising families and growing clean food, crops and fibres for the people of Australia.”

Mr Scott is encouraging concerned community members to have their say before the consultation period ends on Friday, March 11, at 5pm. Visit http://www.radioactivewaste.

January 6, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, wastes | Leave a comment

Queensland’s Oman Ama residents reject nuclear waste dump

Queensland--antinukeOman Ama residents reject proposal for nuclear waste disposal site  January 4, 2016 – Drew Creighton A group of residents of the tiny Darling Downs hamlet of Oman Ama has banded together in a bid to prevent Australia’s first permanent nuclear waste disposal facility from being built near their town.

Oman Ama was one of six sites shortlisted by the Federal Government and announced in November as a possible location for the facility.

The group has written to federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg ’emphatically’ rejecting the proposed nuclear waste dump.

The proposed site is roughly 90 kilometres from Warwick on Bennets Gully.

Friends of Oman Ama member and local doctor Dr Colin Owen said in a statement he was not convinced the proposal was risk free.”Mishaps have occurred in such facilities around the world, including at Lucas Heights in Sydney,” Dr Owen said.

The facility he referred to is the Lucas Heights reactor that produces nuclear medicine. Dr Owen is convinced there have been mishaps in the past 10 years at the reactor.

In 2010 a whistleblower alleged there had been a series of safety breaches at Lucas Heights.

Dr Owen said the proposed site was just a few kilometres north of Murray-Darling tributaries such as the Condamine. “The big concern is that if it leaks into there, the whole murray darling water way will be compromised,” he said.

Safety is not the only concern the residents have. Mental health nurse Susan Campbell had a list of worries including devaluation of land, risk to tourism initiatives and anxiety levels in locals.

Not all locals are against the proposal and one resident has offered their property as a potential site for the facility.

Another medical practitioner from Oman Ama, Dr Bob Morrish, is concerned with what has been called ‘obfuscation’ by the government. “The Government people have not been clear about the difference between storage and disposal, particularly in relation to the so called ‘interim’ storage of intermediate level radioactive waste,” Dr Morrish said. “They have refused to define ‘interim’ but suggested it could be as long as 30 years.”

The group is also pressuring the landholder to withdraw his application for the proposed site of the nuclear facility.

The other five sites on the shortlist are Sallys Flat in NSW, Hale in the Northern Territory and Cortlinye, Pinkawillinie and Barndioota in South Australia.

The government’s consultation process is expected to take until March, with a final shortlist of three sites announced later this year. A final determination of the site will not be announced until after this year’s federal election.

January 4, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Queensland, wastes | Leave a comment

Shire of Leonora, Western Australia, enthusiastic for nuclear waste dump

greed copyWA shire wants nuclear waste facility despite Federal Government knockback, ABC News 17 Dec 15 By Rhiannon Shine A shire in Western Australia’s Goldfields is determined to host a radioactive waste facility, despite being knocked back by the Federal Government last month.

The shire of Leonora was disappointed it did not make the Government’s shortlist for a proposed low-level radioactive waste facility.

The town, about 260 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie, east of Perth, was one of two local governments from the Goldfields region to express interest in hosting the facility.

But this week the council voted to engage a geological consultant to search for suitable nuclear waste sites in the area.

Chief executive Jim Epis said it was a long-term investment.

“I’m talking about maybe five, 10, or even 20 years away,” Mr Epis said.

“We are going to have quite a few uranium mines around our neck of the woods and we think it’s fair that someone in the area should be responsible for taking the waste back.

“We’re going to head off now and look into the future, and see if we can identify these sites where we can take nuclear waste from anywhere in Australia.”

Councillors voted unanimously to spend about $13,000 on the services of Al Maynard and Associates geological consultants.

Mr Epis said the geologists would likely focus on areas in the northern part of the shire.

“A lot of that land up there is in granite, which is ideal for nuclear waste deposits,” he said.

Council braces for opposition from locals

Mr Epis said he expected the decision would be met with some opposition.

“Over the last 10 years the Leonora community has had plenty of opportunity to discuss nuclear mining with a number of different companies,” he said.

“There [are] those out there that are totally against the idea.

“It just creates healthy debate.”……..

December 18, 2015 Posted by | wastes, Western Australia | Leave a comment

72% of Australians oppose this nation becoming the world’s radioactive trash dump

radioactive trashNuclear waste returned to Australia, raising concerns about future dump site, Guardian, 5 Dec 15 “………Environmentalists have raised concerns about the safety of the ship, which left the northern French port of Cherbourg in October. One French lawmaker described it as a “dustbin ship”.“This is not the kind of ship you would want to see transporting nuclear waste,” said Greenpeace campaigner Emma Gibson, who was on board a boat following the BBC Shanghai on Saturday……

The waste will initially be housed at the Lucas Heights reactor in southern Sydney until a nuclear waste dump site is selected and built. It is expected to be trucked to the reactor from Port Kembla overnight.

The government has said the nuclear waste dump site would only be used to store Australia’s radioactive waste but Greenpeace has warned that creating a new waste facility is an invitation to other countries to use Australia as a dumping ground.

The group said a poll of 3,144 people last month that it had commissioned from ReachTel suggested that most Australians opposed plans to store nuclear waste for other countries.

Asked about Australia accepting nuclear waste from overseas, 18.3% supported it, 72.1% opposed it and 9.6% were undecided…….

Most Australians rightly don’t want their country to become a nuclear waste dump for the rest of the world,” Gibson said.

“Nobody has yet worked out a safe way to manage long-term nuclear waste, which can remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years.”…..

December 6, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

Lucas Height’s nuclear reactor’s returning wastes arrive by ship at Port Kembla

ship radiationControversial nuclear waste shipment arrives in Port Kembla  Twenty five tonnes of nuclear waste will be transported to Sydney’s Lucas Heights after it arrived in NSW on Saturday.

The bulk carrier BBC Shanghai was greeted at Port Kembla, near Wollongong, by a heavy police presence including the riot squad, mounted officers and divers.

Police boats and jet skis accompanied it into the harbour as Greenpeace protesters followed behind. On shore about a dozen protesters unfurled a banner that read “don’t waste Australia”. “We are very concerned our place, our region, is being used to do other people’s dirty work,” South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said.

Arriving from France, the ship entered the harbour just before 1pm. The waste was expected to take around eight hours to unload before it was to be transported in in a six-metre-long and three-metre-wide steel cell along the Princes Highway under police guard to Lucas Heights in Sydney’s south.

Police in Port Kembla worked with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANTSO) to coordinate the arrival. ANTSO in a statement said the waste would be held in Sydney while the Federal government searches for a permanent site to dump nuclear waste.

A shortlist of six sites was released in November, including Sallys Flat near Bathurst in New South Wales and three sites in South Australia.

The waste is what remains of shipments sent to France for reprocessing in the 1990s when eight shipments in total were sent there, as well as to the United Kingdom and the United States.

The waste sent to the US will remain there, but shipments sent to the UK will return within five years. In its statement ANTSO said the nuclear waste had “enabled generations of potentially life-saving nuclear medicine production”.

December 6, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, wastes | Leave a comment

Illawarra unions will unload Lucas Heights returning nuclear wastes, but oppose international waste imports

highly-recommendedIllawarra unions will join Port Kembla protests as ANSTO’s nuclear waste text-wise-owlarrives on Saturday  Ben Langford, 3 Dec 15  Illawarra unions have made it clear their members will work to unload the shipment of Australian nuclear waste coming home from France, but will not handle any other nations’ shipments that governments may decide to accept.

The cargo ship BBC Shanghai is due to arrive in Port Kembla on Saturday morning with about 10 tonnes of waste which had been reprocessed in France.

The dock workers union, the Maritime Union of Australia, said its members would unload the shipment of reprocessed waste without incident.

But MUA southern NSW branch secretary Garry Keane said that was because it was Australia’s waste, and they would not accept waste shipments from another country.

“Our members do not support the nuclear industry,” he said. “There is no totally safe way to transport or store waste which remains a danger and threatens communities for thousands of years.

“Understandably no one else wants our nuclear waste – that is why it is coming back to Lucas Heights and we want to send a clear message that we don’t accept anyone else’s nuclear waste.”

South Coast Labor Council secretary Arthur Rorris said the precautions being taken showed the risks. “I don’t remember this level of police operation being required for the last imported shipment of solar panels,” he said. “The fact that we have this operation tells us that this is very dangerous, and we now have it confirmed that we have plutonium in the waste.”

 The Australian Conservation Foundation, among the strongest opponents of the nuclear industry in Australia, said it did not want the shipment stopped, as ANSTO’s Lucas Heights facility was the best place for it to end up.

“We reluctantly accept that we have a responsibility to accept our own waste,” the ACF’s Dave Sweeney said.

“But we comprehensively draw the line against any sniff of international waste.”

Greenpeace, the MUA, SCLS and other anti-nuclear groups will protest at Port Kembla harbour when the shipment arrives.

ANSTO says the shipment is “intermediate-level” waste in accordance with international standards but Greenpeace said the French classification system, which names the shipment as “high-level” waste, is more appropriate.

The Federal Government is spending $30 million to repatriate the waste.

A major police operation is planned for the weekend, with an exclusion zone around the harbour from 5am to 3pm Saturday, and police guarding the shipment as it is trucked through Wollongong to Lucas Heights, likely early on Sunday.


December 4, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, wastes | Leave a comment

National waste dump is NOT NEEDED for medical nuclear wastes

nuclear-medicineIs Australia becoming the world’s nuclear waste dump by stealth?  December 2, 2015 -Dr Margaret Beavis 

When it comes to justifying new nuclear waste storage, a lot has been said about it being essential for medical diagnostics and cancer treatment. This is misleading. It blurs two distinct components of nuclear medicine – the production of isotopes and the use of isotopes.

Australia’s medical use of isotopes creates very little waste. In contrast, reactor production of isotopes generates considerable amounts, and ANSTO (the Australian national nuclear research and development organisation) is very quietly proposing to dramatically increase production to supply 30 per cent of the world market. This will significantly increase Australia’s nuclear waste problems.

On the “use” side, the vast majority of isotopes used for medical tests are very short-lived. They decay on the medical facilities’ premises until their radioactivity is negligible. They can then be disposed of in the normal waste stream (sewers, landfill etc) according to set standards. There is no need for a new nuclear waste facility for these isotopes. Most cancer radiotherapy uses X-rays, which does not produce any waste at all. A very small proportion of cancer treatments need radioactive materials, which also are too short-lived to require a remote repository, or are legally required to be sent back to the (overseas) supplier once used up. There is a very small amount of legacy radium relating to cancer therapy in the past, however, this has not been used in Australia since 1975.

On the other hand, using a nuclear reactor to manufacture radio isotopes creates a significant amount of intermediate and low-level waste. ANSTO has recently unilaterally decided it will dramatically increase its production of medical isotopes at the Lucas Heights reactor to supply 30 per cent of the world’s needs. This business decision assumes it will not have to pay for the disposal of the waste produced, even though it will need securing for many thousands of years.

This decision ignores the reality of technology that enables isotopes to now be produced using accelerators and cyclotrons; i.e. without using a reactor and without generating large quantities of radioactive waste. This is fast approaching commercial scale and economic viability. ANSTO’s decision contrasts with that of the Canadian nuclear authorities, who have for some years been actively phasing out reactor production, and pouring money into developing non-reactor technologies.

Canada, the world’s single largest producer of medical isotopes, independently reviewed its nuclear industry in 2009 and decided not to build a new reactor. Several reasons stood out: investment in reactor production of medical isotopes would crowd out investment in innovative alternative production technologies both domestically and internationally, Canada did not want to continue being the radioactive waste site for other countries’ nuclear medicine industries, it created supply vulnerabilities, and at no stage was it commercially viable without massive taxpayer subsidies.

The ANSTO decision represents vested interests entrenching a reactor-based model and crowding out development of other options. In many ways it is like the coal industry boosting production to stop wind and solar development. Like coal, the business model relies on not being responsible (financially or socially) for the waste it leaves behind.

We urgently need an open conversation about whether we want to pick up the world’s waste tab when it comes to producing medical isotopes. This is a policy choice that will leave Australia storing waste from isotopes produced for international markets. The market price for these isotopes does not factor in the price of storing this waste, which falls to the taxpayer and the community unlucky enough to be landed with it. It is taking Australia down a path that Canada has rejected.

The bottom line is that storage of nuclear waste from reactors is difficult, requiring long-term isolation and security.

We need transparent, informed and clear discussion of what our choices are. We have an obligation to future generations to minimise the waste we produce. There needs to be a considered and open debate about where existing waste is most safely stored in Australia. And it needs to be absolutely clear to ANSTO that we do not want to be left holding the world’s radioactive waste by default.

The Australian community is far from convinced about taking on more radioactive material on behalf of the international community. ANSTO needs to be much more explicit about what it is planning. As a government-owned entity it has a responsibility to be upfront and consult with the community.

When it comes to such long-term decisions about radioactive materials, sleight of hand is not good enough.

Margaret Beavis is a GP and national president of the Medical Association for Prevention of War.

December 2, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, secrets and lies, wastes | Leave a comment


radioactive trashThe French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) has revealed to Greenpeace that the waste has been classified as high-level (long-life) waste according to standards set by ANDRA, the French national radioactive waste management agency. High-level waste is ANDRA’s most severe nuclear waste classification.

Areva documents have also confirmed that the waste still contains low quantities of plutonium.

The nuclear waste is due to be unloaded off the BBC Shanghai at Port Kembla in southern radiation-truckSydney in the early hours of Sunday, 6 December. It will then be transported to Lucas Heights by road for interim storage.
ship radiationSydney, 2 December 2015 – Nuclear waste returning to Australia this weekend by ship from France has been classified as high-level waste by French authorities, contradicting Australia’s claims over its radioactivity, a Greenpeace report has found.
Greenpeace’s investigation also found the waste still contains quantities of plutonium – highly toxic even in small quantities – despite reprocessing by French state-owned nuclear company, Areva.

“The Australian government is downplaying the danger of this shipment, saying it is liar-nuclear1intermediate-level waste that isn’t harmful unless mismanaged. But we know it contains plutonium and is classified as high-level waste by the French authorities,” said Emma Gibson, Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s Head of Programs. Continue reading

December 2, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies, wastes | Leave a comment


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