Australian news, and some related international items

Purpose of the Renewable Energy Review – to promote the coal and gas industries

fossil-fuel-industryThe RET review cares only about coal profits, not renewable energy  Monday 1 September 2014     The review did not conclude that the RET had failed to fulfil its objectives, rather it decided that the objectives were irrelevant Let’s not beat around the shrubbery: the review of the renewable energy target (RET) led by Dick Warburton was a sham designed from the very start to conclude that the RET should be wound back. If you don’t agree with the overwhelming scientific view on climate change you are not going to feel any great need for Australia to bother about pursuing renewable energy. Instead, you’ll view renewable energy as an optional extra – and that view permeates the RET review.

The RET was not implemented because of some random desire to force businesses to use electricity generated by a more expensive method. It was introduced by the Howard government in 1997 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was included as part of “the largest and most far-reaching package of measures to address climate change ever undertaken by any government in Australia”.

Thus, if you think climate change is all a bit of a scam driven by the UN and NASA with an assist from the Bureau of Meteorology and a vast majority of the world’s scientists, media and governments, then your position on the need for renewable energy is rather altered.

Which brings us to Dick Warburton, a man who told the ABC in Februarythat he was “sceptical” of “the claims that man-made carbon dioxide is the major cause of global warming”.

Warburton of course says his views had “no bearing on this report at all”. But it is clear that they did, because throughout the report there are logical inconsistencies which have the RET judged against different criteria than its purpose. The review is also founded on the view that renewable energy is something needed only if the demand for electricity requires it…….. the review did not conclude that the RET failed to fulfil its objectives, rather it concluded that the RET’s objectives were irrelevant……..

given we no longer have a carbon price, it would seem the report is putting all its faith in the government’s Direct Action emissions reduction fund (ERF). However, the government has not modelled the cost of abatement under that plan; thus the review’s conclusion that there are “lower cost options” is utterly reckless……..

The reality is that this report didn’t give a stuff about renewable energy, or the reduction of carbon emissions. It cared about the profits of coal fired power generators, laughably suggesting the RET might in time cause their profits to fall so low that they would reduce spending on maintenance.

If the government accepts the review’s recommendations to either close the scheme to new entrants or to severely adjust the cap, it can only do so on the basis that its direct action will achieve the same goals more efficiently.

But to do that it needs to show us the modelling. Otherwise they’re just selling us snake oil.

September 1, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s role in the pollution of the planet – theme for September 2014

Australia is seen as the “lucky country” – wealthy, healthy, progressive – happily remote from the troubles, and the pollution of other countries. But, as Barry Jones once wrote – Sleepers Awake!

Australia is well and truly up there with the major world polluters. Indeed, we boast the greatest greenhouse emissions per person, of any country in the world.  We’re letting the coal industry trash the  Great Barrier Reef. We’re killing our one and only major river system – the Murray Darling.  We’re champion deforesters. Australia’s thin arable topsoil is being blown and washed away.  Radioactive pollution has been with us since the inception of the dirty uranium industry, and the colonialist scandal of Britain’s atomic bomb testing, –  and fools are recommending that we get more of it!

This website has focused on the nuclear industry. But really, that should not be separated from all the other criminal offences against the planet – carried out because of an exploitative and crazy culture of endless growth and endless consumption.Australia-&-polluted-planet

We’d better hope that it is not too late to change. At a “local level” Australians can learn from traditional Aboriginal land management, as described by Bill Gammage in his book The Biggest Estate”

At a global level, we’d better take part in the world-wide movement towards clean energy, and towards a conserver, rather than a consumer, society.

August 31, 2014 Posted by | Christina themes | 1 Comment

Australia was deliberately used as Britain’s radiation test experiment, at Maralinga!


As The Advertiser has previously reported, hundreds of bones were subsequently collected from the bodies of 21,830 dead babies, infants, children, teenagers and young adults across Australia without the knowledge of their parents.

The Strontium-90 testing program in Australia was the longest of its kind in the world, finally ending in 1978.

In September, 2001, following an extensive investigation by The Advertiser, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency revealed it had kept ash samples from bones collected from hospitals in Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne.

In a report to the then federal health minister, Michael Wooldridge, the agency said it had detected varying levels of Strontium-90 in all Australian capital cities.

British scientists secretly used Australian population to test for radiation contamination after nuclear tests at Maralinga  (includes copies of documents from British National Archives),.au 29 Aug 14 scientists secretly used the Australian population to test for radiation contamination after the nuclear tests at Maralinga in the 1950s, a new book confirms.

Its author, Frank Walker, has obtained the minutes of a top secret meeting in England where the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment approved a program to determine the long-term effects of the tests on Australia and its citizens. Continue reading

August 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Growing anxiety about Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – IN UKRAINE!

The West’s Collective Angst About Ukraine’s Crisis-Zone Nuclear Reactors     Markus Balser (2014-08-30) BERLIN — For many in Ukraine the city of Enerhodar is known simply as “Atomic City.” It was founded a couple of decades ago to accommodate a power station, and the city with its 50,000 inhabitants in southeastern Ukraine is known today as one of the country’s main energy suppliers. The six reactor blocks of the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Station spread out over many hundreds of meters along the banks of the Kakhovka Reservoir on the Dnieper River. The power station is not just responsible for most of Ukraine’s electricity, but it is also the city’s biggest employer and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

Atomic City’s dimensions were always suspect to critics of atomic energy, but these days even professionals in the nuclear sector are a bit uneasy about Zaporizhia. That’s because the power station is located just 124 miles from the part of Ukraine occupied by separatists, meaning the reactors are located in one of Europe’s most dangerous regions. Continue reading

August 31, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Doubts about the safety of India’s nuclear power programme

safety-symbolflag-indiaDoubts over India’€™s ability to handle nuclear power expansion, SMH,  August 31, 2014  South Asia correspondent at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald New Delhi: With an agreement to allow the sale of Australian uranium to India expected this week, Indian scientists are questioning India’s ability to manage a rapid expansion of its nuclear power industry.

“Nuclear security and safety is a pressing concern in this country,” said Happymon Jacob, who teaches arms control and disarmament at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

“India insists that enough security is in place, but my argument is that we need to look deeper, and when you look deeper you see that the regulation of nuclear materials is in the hands of government – and not in the hands of a totally independent regulator,” Dr Jacob said.

With India’s nuclear capabilities hidden beneath layers of secrecy since its first successful nuclear tests in 1974 and a subsequent round of tests in 1998, Dr Jacob said, there have been several attempts to establish an independent regulator of the nuclear power industry……….

if we are going to learn the lessons of the nuclear accident in Fukushima, then we have to ensure there is a means for independent verification of what is occurring and of what could go wrong,” Dr Jacob said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will arrive in Mumbai on Thursday  for his first bilateral meeting with India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The meeting will take place the day after Mr Modi’s return from Japan where he is expected to a sign a massive $90 billion nuclear trade pact to allow Japanese nuclear power companies to build  plants in India………

August 31, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Uranium miner Paladin reports another big loss

graph-downwardWeak uranium price hits Paladin NICK SAS The West AustralianAugust 29, 2014 The weak uranium price has hit Perth miner Paladin Energy, with the company reporting a $338 million loss for the year.

Late last night the John Borshoff-run company reported a basic operating loss of $3.4 million – which it blamed on the weak uranium price – compared to its operating profit of $55.9 million last year.

The $338 million book loss came on the back of a $226 million impairment on its Queensland exploration assets, along with smaller impairments at its African mines.

The Kayelekera Mine, which it put on care-and-maintenance in May, was the main culprit in the operating blowout, with the mine reporting basic cash costs – but not all-in costs – of $US42.6 a pound.

The uranium price has been hovering around the $30/lb pound mark for much of the year……….

Earlier this week Mr Borshoff had his contract extended by two years until the end of 2016. He will be paid a base salary of $1.38 million a year.

August 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Wreckage falls into pool near spent fuel rods at Fukushima No. 3 reactor

exclamation-Accident in Reactor 3 fuel pool at Fukushima — Large piece of wreckage falls nearby spent uranium rods — M5 quake hits plant soon after — Official: “Unable to say” whether any are damaged (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

AFP, Aug 29, 2014: [TEPCO] said it had not detected any significant changes in radiation readings or in the level of pool water at the No. 3 reactor… Friday’s incident occurred shortly after noon during a remotely controlled operation to remove debris from the fuel pool at the unit where the broken reactor still lies untouched… The operating console of the fuel handling machine slipped loose and fell into the pool… In a vivid reminder of the fragility of the area, a magnitude-5.0 quake struck off the Fukushima coast hours after…

Bloomberg News, Aug 29, 2014: A 400 kg piece of equipment slipped from a crane and fell back into a pool holding spent uranium fuel rods… [It] is about a meter wide and 1.6 meters high…  Today, the utility known as Tepco was attempting to move the device as part of its cleanup at the site, said spokesman Hiroshi Itagaki… Itagaki said the company is unable to say at present whether the accident damaged any of the uranium fuel rods in the pool.

EnformableAug 29, 2014: At the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, workers accidentally dropped a large piece of debris into the Unit 3 spent fuel pool… that weighs almost a thousand pounds… TEPCO is working to check the 566 spent fuel assemblies in the Unit 3 spent fuel pool to see if any of them have been damaged by the most recentaccident.

NHK, Aug 29, 2014: TEPCO says the pool contains 566 nuclear fuel rods, and that it is trying tocheck whether any of them have been damaged. >> Watch the broadcast here

See also: Asahi: Tepco to check for “smashed fuel rods” after large piece of debris fell at Fukushima Unit 3 pool

And: 25-foot-long metal beam drops into Reactor No. 3 pool at Fukushima — Not clear if any fuel rods have broken — Could further complicate removal efforts (VIDEO)

Video: Gundersen – Obviously much of Unit 3 spent fuel is damaged… highly damaged – May have to be cut out of the racks using robotic tools

August 31, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australians to lose jobs, businesses, if RET scaled back

Renewable Energy Target: Who benefits from scaling back the scheme?NEWS.COM.AU AUGUST 30, 2014    “……..WHO LOSES?

The clean industry sector has railed against scaling back the scheme, warning it would gut future investment in renewables in Australia, damage the $10 billion already committed and put 21,000 jobs at risk.

Australians would also lose subsidies for installing devices such as solar hot water, panels or wind turbines. This is worth about $2500 for those installing a typical three kilowatt solar power system.

Australian National University’s Professor Andrew Blakers, said most of Australia’s fossil fuel stations would be retired over the next few decades.

“The RET target of 41,000 gigawatt hours by 2020 drives renewable energy investment at a sufficient annual rate to reach more than 90 per cent renewable electricity if continued until 2040,” he told The Conversation.  “Thus Australia has the wonderful prospect of moving to a clean electricity future at approximately zero net cost, as retiring coal and gas power stations are replaced by renewable energy.”

Infigen Energy has warned the proposed changes offered the “worst outcomes for electricity consumers”. The wind farm operators said modelling in the review showed the RET would result in a net benefit to consumers compared to closing the scheme.

“The claims that the RET would drive up electricity prices have once again been shown to be incorrect,” Infigen managing director Miles George said in a statement. He said the results were driven by ideology, not facts.

Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton said scaling back the scheme would only serve old-coal generators well past their use-by date.

“These recommendations would stop renewable energy in its tracks, stifling competition within the Australian energy market and ultimately disadvantaging electricity customers,” he said in a statement.

The wider industry has also warned of a sovereign risk issue if a message is sent globally that Australia is not open for business

Greens leader Senator Milne said the uncertainty generated by the review has already deterred investment in clean energy.

“A huge solar farm in Mildura has halted development; Hydro Tasmania stands to lose millions, and countless other innovative businesses, as well as the jobs and families they support, are now in danger,” Ms Milne said.

“The Renewable Energy Target is cutting pollution, rolling out investment, creating jobs and will bring power bills down. Why on earth would we get rid of it?

“Once renewable energy projects are built, they cost almost nothing to run. They are crucial to keeping power prices under control, because the cheap energy they produce drives down the wholesale price of power.

“The reality is that the fossil fuels sector can’t handle the competition from renewables, so the Abbott government is trying to delay the inevitable……..

August 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Michelle Evans tells why she marched for a better Australia

March-in-AustralaWhy I marched in Bathurst today for a Better Australia August 31, 2014 by michellemevans “……..I am standing here today to make my voice heard. The current government is not speaking for me, they don’t speak for my family, they don’t speak for my values nor my hopes and dreams for our country.

It is disgraceful that the budget put forward by the self declared Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs cuts more than half a billion dollars from funding to Indigenous affairs……….

Another strategic cut made by the Abbott government is to Indigenous democracy.
The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples has been defunded altogether……….

We require more than words to effect impactful and sustainable change in Indigenous affairs. Cutting funding has sent your message loud and clear – these services, programs and people do not matter. We need to ask ourselves who is this government representing?

We are gathered here today to speak up and speak out.
Government efforts to silence grassroots organized representative voices like our community controlled services, our representative bodies, our not for profit organisations are not going to be tolerated by me/by us………

My dream is to see Australia free of the shackles to England, to see our land, our home become a Republic that recognizes in law the First Australians. That is why I am marching today for a better and fairer Australia………..

August 31, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Yea! Boo! Australian government destabilises the solar power industry

Australia-solar-plugAustralia’s solar installers face another boom and bust Solar energy installers are expecting a boom then sharp contraction of their businesses as the Abbott government prepares to take an axe to renewable energy support. Continue reading

August 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Australia led the world in solar power – and then what happened?

Aust-sunHow Australia Perfected Solar Power and Then Went Back to Coal By Julian Morgans August 30, 2014 There was a time in the 1980s when Australia led the world in solar technology. To begin with, Australia receives more solar radiation per square foot than anywhere on the planet, and that presents an obvious advantage. But the true catalyst was geography: two thirds of the country consists of uninhabited desert. This posed problems for engineers tasked with constructing a national telephone network in the early 1970s. The solution was to build remote relay stations powered with solar energy, which at the time was a fledgling, expensive technology. Yet by 1978 the national provider, Telecom, had developed reliable solar cells that could be installed affordably across the country and be infrequently maintained. International recognition came in 1983 when Perth was tapped with hosting the Solar World Congress.

Fast-forward to 2014 and Australian solar power is in a very different place. This week a proposed solar farm with 2,000 dishes—capable of powering 30,000 homes—was canceled amid uncertainty about the future of renewable energy. This comes at a time when every one of the country’s proposed solar farms are on hold and coal operators push legislation to strangle solar proliferation. So what happened? Continue reading

August 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

How USA supported Israel’s nuclear weapons program – new documents reveal

flag-IsraelNewly declassified documents reveal how U.S. agreed to Israel’s nuclear program Documents reveal contacts between Washington and Jerusalem in late 1960s, when some Americans believed the nuclear option would not deter Arab leaders but would trigger an atom bomb race. HAARETZ, By  | Aug. 30, 2014 The Obama administration this week declassified papers, after 45 years of top-secret status, documenting contacts between Jerusalem and Washington over American agreement to the existence of an Israeli nuclear option. The Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), which is in charge of approving declassification, had for decades consistently refused to declassify these secrets of the Israeli nuclear program. Continue reading

August 31, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tasmania urging Federal government not to scrap Renewable Energy Target

map-tasmania-wind.1Greens urges Hodgman Government to ‘utterly reject’ RET review recommendations 31 Aug 14,  By Ellen Coulter  Greens leader Christine Milne has urged the Hodgman Government to stand up for renewable energy and “utterly reject” the Warburton report’s recommendations.

The review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET), chaired by Dick Warburton, has recommended the scheme be drastically cut back.

The prospect that the findings will be adopted by the Abbott Government has cast a pall over the renewable energy industry Australia wide.

In Tasmania, Hydro Tasmania has warned any winding back would threaten billions of dollars in investment and doubt prevails over proposals such as the Granville Harbour wind farm on Tasmania’s west coast.

Liberal Premier Will Hodgman says he is worried about the Commonwealth’s response to the review, which is expected in about a fortnight.

State Energy Minister Matthew Groom is planning to fly to Canberra this week to urge the Federal Government against scrapping the RET. “We’re very anxious about any decision that the Federal Government might make to this scheme that could disadvantage the state,” Mr Hodgman said.

“I urge the Federal Government to look very carefully at Tasmania, consider our investment and also further opportunities in the future.”

Mr Hodgman said he has been arguing Tasmania’s case for months and that Mr Groom would again be pushing the cause to his federal counterparts.

But Ms Milne said the Tasmanian Liberals were not doing enough.

She maintained that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was determined to “destroy renewable energy”.

“It was his idea to abolish the Renewable Energy Target altogether,” she said.

She said the Tasmanian Government was “attacking the Federal Government with a wet lettuce leaf” and needed to present a strong rejection of the Warburton review.

“I think it is time that if Matthew Green supports a clean energy future, supports renewable energy, that he stands up and really condemns the direction of the Abbott Government and rejects utterly the Warburton report on renewable energy,” Ms Milne said.

“Frankly, it is pathetic. If they are going to make a stand they need to stand with the jobs, with the university [UTAS], with the renewable energy future and against Eric Abetz.”

August 31, 2014 Posted by | politics, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Who benefits is the Renewable Energy Target is scaled back?

From a commercial point of view the fossil fuels sector seems to have the most to gain if the RET is scrapped or scaled back.

The Climate Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation and WWF Australia commissioned independent modelling that found weakening the RET could result in $8 billion in additional profit to coal and $2 billion to gas generators.

Renewable Energy Target: Who benefits from scaling back the scheme?NEWS.COM.AU AUGUST 30, 2014 THE renewable energy sector is powering along but not everyone seems to be happy with how successful it has been.
title=”2014-08-30T11:48:00+10:00″>So far the Federal Government has pumped $9.4 billion into supporting the Renewable Energy Target (RET) and, since 2001, the amount of electricity produced by clean energy has almost doubled.
In July, South Australia got nearly half its electricity from wind and solar, and Australians’ take-up of small-scale systems such as home solar panels, has already exceeded levels anticipated for 2020………
title=”2014-08-30T11:48:00+10:00″>There are widely differing predictions about whether electricity bills will go down or increase if the RET is scaled back. It may just stay the same.

Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne has criticised the review, headed by climate sceptic Caltex Australia chairman Dick Warburton, who has rejected suggestions his personal views coloured his work.

Senator Milne suggested the review’s recommendations reflected the fact that “clean energy is proving way too good at making coal obsolete”.

“The RET review is part of the dinosaur protection racket – an $8 billion favour for Tony Abbott’s mates in the fossil fuels sector, at the expense of clean technology,” Senator Milne said.

“To protect his big-business mates Tony Abbott got rid of the carbon price, making it free to pollute, and now he’s destroying the market for renewable energy.”
WHO BENEFITS? Continue reading

August 31, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia continues to ignore its role in the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe

Fukushima: Australia’s Radioactive Rocks And Responsibility, New Matilda, 29 Aug 14, By Dave Sweeney
There’s no room for nuclear power in Australia – or anywhere else – argues Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney.

In March 2011 people all around the world held our breath as the Fukushima nuclear disaster played out on our screens.Later as the headlines, albeit not the radiation levels faded, it was confirmed that Australian uranium directly fuelled Fukushima. Rocks dug in Kakadu and northern South Australia were the source of the radioactive fallout threatening Japan and well beyond.

The line of connection was made clearly from a failed reactor complex on Japan’s East coast to the back of a big yellow truck at an Australian mine-site.

This week the man who steered Japan through the critical early days of the continuing crisis is touring Australia with a simple message: there can be no nuclear ‘business as usual’ in the shadow of Fukushima.

Mr Naoto Kan was the Japanese Prime Minister at the time the Fukushima nuclear crisis started in March 2011 after a powerful earthquake and tsunami caused chaos across Japan……..

Against a context of domestic nuclear promotion with Bob Hawke urging Australia to become the world’s radioactive waste dump and PM Abbott cutting treaty corners and hawking uranium sales to India on a visit there early next month, Mr Kans cautionary tale is timely.

Mr Kan has already spoken in Darwin and visited the embattled Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu where he met with the regions Mirarr Traditional Owners. The Mirarr have the longest lived experience of uranium mining of any Aboriginal people in Australia.

This experience was previously summed up by Mirarr leader Yvonne Margarula with the potent phrase, ‘None of the promises last – but the problems always do.”

Following the Fukushima meltdown the Mirarr leader wrote a powerful note to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon stating, “Given the long history between Japanese nuclear companies and Australian uranium miners, it is likely that the radiation problems at Fukushima are, at least in part, fuelled by uranium derived from our traditional lands. This makes us feel very sad”.

Along with the sadness was a desire for scrutiny, a view shared by Ban Ki Moon when he formally called in September 2011 for Australia to conduct ‘an in-depth assessment of the net cost impact of the impacts of mining fissionable material (uranium) on local communities and ecosystems’.

Sadly, and culpably, to date there has been no meaningful response from any Australian government, uranium company, uranium industry body or regulator to the fact that Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima…….Let’s hope that this week Mr Kan’s clear message is heard and heeded: Fukushima is a game changer with Australian fingerprints and our shared energy future must be renewable, not radioactive.

August 31, 2014 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 476 other followers