Nuclear waste returning to Sydney from France http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/nuclear-waste-returning-to-sydney-from-france-20150117-12seco.html Kirsty Needham 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
Controversial radioactive clean-up to go ahead,SMH January 18, 2015 Kirsty Needham State Politics Editor, The Sun-Herald A bitter fight over radioactive waste between Sydney’s western and northern suburbs is set to be reignited by the Baird Government on the eve of the state election.
The NSW government will push ahead this year with a $12.4 million clean-up of Hunters Hill land contaminated by a uranium smelter 100 years ago, a government report has revealed.
But the only site in Australia identified by a string of government studies as the best option to store the waste – Kemps Creek near Penrith – is in a marginal Liberal seat where sitting MP Tanya Davies campaigned against the dump while in opposition. Continue reading
BHP Billiton wants to increase radioactive waste storage at Olympic Dam, but opponents say leakage rates will rise, SMH, January 12, 2015 – Peter Ker Resources reporter BHP Billiton believes it can increase the amount of radioactive waste being stored in ponds at Olympic Dam without seepage rates rising, under the new development plan for the famous mineral deposit in the South Australian outback.
Continuing the rollout of new plans for the giant uranium, copper and gold mine, BHP has sought permission from the federal government to raise walls around an important waste or “tailings” dam at the mine from 30 metres to 40 metres.
The change would increase the volume of radioactive fluids that can be held in the dam – which is one of four on site – from 48.4 million cubic metres to 64.8 million cubic metres, with the work expected to be complete by September 2023.
Storage of the tailings, which include radioactive materials and acids, has been controversial since Olympic Dam’s previous owner, Western Mining Corporation, confirmed in 1994 that 5 billion cubic metres of the tailings fluids had leaked out of the storages and into an aquifer underground.
Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney said increasing the volume of tailings under storage would probably cause more leakage.
“There is no question that increased pressure would add to the chances of increased seepage,” he said.
“We see tailings management as one of the big, unspoken problems with uranium mining. It is an unresolved environmental management problem.”……..
The push to increase the amount of tailings storage comes just months after BHP revealed a new strategy to develop Olympic Dam by putting a heap leach operation at the start of the existing processing cycle.
BHP will conduct a three-year trial of the heap leach concept, before deciding whether it warrants further expansion.
Confirmation of the heap leach trial was the first sign of progress at Olympic Dam since mid 2012, when BHP axed a $30 billion plan to develop the entire Olympic Dam deposit using the world’s biggest open-pit mine.
That $30 billion plan would have required the construction of eight new tailings dams, each requiring a 65-metre-tall embankment, and each covering two square kilometres. http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/bhp-billiton-wants-to-increase-radioactive-waste-storage-at-olympic-dam-but-opponents-say-leakage-rates-will-rise-20150111-12ltwq.html#ixzz3OfOVIn50
Muckaty landowners say nuclear dump fight is ‘back to square one’ http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/13/muckaty-landowners-say-nuclear-dump-fight-is-back-to-square-one Helen Davidson 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
Unproven 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. http://www.acfonline.org.au/news-media/media-release/unproven-and-unfinished-time-new-approach-managing-australia%E2%80%99s-radioactive
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
$200m sought to rehabilitate former Rum Jungle uranium mine, ABC News 31 Oct 14 By Joanna Crothers The Department 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.
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. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-31/mines-department-seeking-200m-to-fix-former-rum-jungle-mine/5858764
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
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 http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bushtelegraph/nuclear-waste/5798278 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
“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
NT 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………
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……http://annamariacom.blogspot.com.au/
Northern 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. …….http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/northern-territory/northern-territory-land-councils-race-clock-to-nominate-a-radioactive-dump-site/story-fnk0b1zt-1227079798955
Adam Giles may offer NT nuclear waste site if traditional owners fail to nominate location 105.7 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. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-30/giles-may-offer-up-nuclear-waste-site-if-traditional-owners-dont/5779394
“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
CLC seeks more Red Centre nuclear waste dump answers http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-12/clc-seeks-more-nuclear-waste-dump-answers/5740226 By Robert Herrick Fri 12 Sep 2014,
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.