Australian news, and some related international items

Obscenity of BHP Billiton’s Control of Huge Water Resources in Olympic Damn Uranium Mine Deal

VIDEO Mine expansion draws more water from basin ABC News, Paul Klaric, October 14, 2011 Scientists are concerned that the the proposed Olympic Dam mine expansion will put a strain on Australia’s greatest underground water supply.


. On 13 May 2011 the company announced a proposal for six-fold expansion of Olympic Dam Mine in South Australia – to extract the most valuable single mineral deposit in the world. The mine will consume up to 42 million litres of water a day from the Great Artesian Basin for plus 40 years.

On 10 October 2011 the South Australian (SA) Government granted approval for the BHP Billiton (BHP) Olympic Dam expansion.  The  Indenture Bill, signed on 12 October by representatives of BHP and the State Government, will now be submitted to vote in the SA Parliament. The SA government will not terminate or suspend the current licence which entitles BHP to take 42 million litres of water each day for Olympic Dam from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) – but BHP will in the future pay for GAB water. This failure of the SA Government to protect the best interests of the GAB represents an enormously significant strategic win for BHP.

With the value of the Olympic Dam resource now standing at $1.4 trillion (an increase by a factor of 155 over the $9 billion acquisition price in 2005) free GAB water for the past 6 years has been an irrelevant bonus. But whilst future payments for GAB water will be marked with a miniscule book entry in the accounts of this massive mining operation, the concept of paying for GAB water will certainly be of concern to every single pastoralist, country town, and family that actually NEEDS GAB water.
But it is the strategic significance of the position in which these SA Government decisions have placed BHP that may have some of the most wide-ranging and long-term consequences in this potentially mineral-rich desert region of SA.  The enormous amount of surplus water that BHP will own or control will be sufficient to support two mining operations of the size and scale of the current Olympic Dam mine.  As railway lines were once of such commercial significance to BHP in the competitive iron-ore regions of NW Australia, in these parts of SA it has long been the fact that whoever controls the water controls the commerce.  Perhaps this is not the first time in the history of flawed government decision-making that the seeds of an anti-competitive beast have  been planted.
The true obscenity of what occurred in South Australia these last few days is that, by any measure, the best interests of the GAB have once again been trampled by a State government in the rush to accommodate the wishes of a miner.

October 15, 2011 Posted by | politics, reference, South Australia, uranium, water | , | Leave a comment

Nation-wide movement against India’s nuclear power programme

The writ petition mentions, “How under the pressure of foreign countries and the multi-billion dollar nuclear industry, the government has been pushing forward an expensive, unviable and dangerous nuclear power programme without proper safety assessment and without a thorough comparative cost-benefit analysis vis-a-vis other sources of energy, especially renewable sources.”

Country-wide protests against nuclear plants have escalated following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Humongous nuclear costs at the expense of exchequer  

Activists nationwide unite to battle UPA’s nuclear dreams Rediff, October 14, 2011, Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi Activists, experts and scientists across the country have come together to challenge Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s dream project to double the nuclear energy-based power generation in the country,    writ petition filed by eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan under Article 32 seeks appropriate writ for declaring Nuclear Liability Act, 2010, unconstitutional and to call for safety re-assessment and cost-benefit analysis of all nuclear facilities in India. The petitioners want the overhaul of the ‘dysfunctional’ regulatory system.

The petitioners comprise of distinguished personalities or organisations who have first time come together to challenge one of the biggest policy decisions of the United Progressive Alliance government. Continue reading

October 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s carbon tax has a symbolic and leadership value in international effort against global warming

The passage of this initiative is still hugely important, if for no other reason than that it shows Big Coal can be rolled.  The coal industry is an even larger part of the Australian economy than it is of the American, and it has an enormous amount of political power.  And just like here in the U.S., there are plenty of shrill politicians in Oz who claim that any new tax will lead to economic ruin.  

Gillard told Members of Parliament that they would be judged on their vote by every Australian, “because the final test is not are you on the right side of the politics of the week, or the polls of the year.”

“The final test is this: are you on the right side of history?


Australian Carbon Tax Vote: A Very Big Deal,  ROLLING STONE, : OCTOBER 13,   By JEFF GOODELL    So maybe there is hope for us yet.   After what one Aussie columnist calls“the dirtiest and most dishonest campaign ever waged before the Australian public,” with millions of dollars spent on media ads and climate skeptics flown in from around the world, Australia’s House of Representatives voted yesterday, 74 to 72,to levy a tax on carbon pollution.  The proposal, which was pushed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, will impose a price of $23 on a ton of carbon pollution, starting in 2015.  After 2015, an emissions-trading scheme will be introduced, with the goal of cutting total carbon pollution 5 percent below 2000 levels by 2020.  The legislation still needs to pass the Senate, but because Greens control the balance of power there, that is not likely to be a problem.  Unless something dramatic happens, in a few months Australia will have taken an important first step toward saving itself from the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

This is a big deal.  Continue reading

October 15, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, politics international | | Leave a comment

Japan: radiation from Fukushima found in wider area

AUDIO Japanese govt afraid to tell the truth



Mr. Hayashida, who discovered the high level at the baseball field, says that he is not waiting any longer for government assurances. He moved his family to Okayama, about 370 miles to the southwest.

“Perhaps we could have stayed in Tokyo with no problems,” he said. “But I choose a future with no radiation fears.”

Radioactive Hot Spots in Tokyo Point to Wider Problems   NYT, By HIROKO TABUCHI : October 14, 2011
TOKYO — Takeo Hayashida signed on with a citizens’ group to test for radiation near his son’s baseball field in Tokyo after government officials told him they had no plans to check for fallout from the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Like Japan’s central government, local officials said there was nothing to fear in the capital, 160 miles from the disaster zone.

Then came the test result: the level of radioactive cesium in a patch of dirt just meters from where his 11-year-old son, Koshiro, played baseball was equal to those in some contaminated areas around Chernobyl.

The patch of ground was one of more than 20 spots in and around the nation’s capital that the citizen’s group, and the respected nuclear research center they worked with, found were contaminated with potentially harmful levels of radioactive cesium.

It has been clear since the early days of the nuclear accident, the world’s second worst after Chernobyl, that that the vagaries of wind and rain had scattered worrisome amounts of radioactive materials in unexpected patterns far outside the evacuation zone 12 miles around the stricken plant. But reports that substantial amounts of cesium had accumulated as far away as densely populated Tokyo have raised new concerns about how far the contamination had spread, possibly settling in areas where the government has not even considered looking. Continue reading

October 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Carbon tax bill will benefit most Australians

Carbon tax bill is good news for Australia, Guardian UK, 14 Oct 11,  Once the dust settles, the majority in Australia are likely to find that the bill will benefit them Thanks to a narrow victory for the governmentAustralia now looks likely to join the EU and New Zealand in introducing a comprehensive policy to make carbon polluters pay for the damage they cause. This is very good news. It has been an uphill battle, with the opposition and business lobby all but claiming that the sky would fall in should the bill be passed.

But once the dust settles and the lamenting subsides, the majority of people of Australia are likely to find that the bill passed on Wednesday benefits them. Much of the money raised from the carbon price of £15 per tonne of emissions will be recycled in the form of tax breaks and compensatory payments.

It will also be used to stimulate investment in new clean energy technologies leading to new jobs and increased inward investment. Hopefully over time this will boost Labour and the Greens’ popularity, so ensuring that the policy is protected – despite opposition leader Tony Abbott’s “blood promise” to repeal the legislation.

Australia’s energy system is among the most polluting in the world thanks to its heavy reliance on coal, but Australia’s climate is vulnerable to the impact that climate change brings. Acting to reduce emissions is in the country’s self-interest in the longer term, especially if it can act as an inspiration for other countries to follow.

South Korea and China are looking to introduce emissions-trading schemes and all eyes in the global carbon market are now firmly looking eastwards. There could be significant advantages for Australia’s financial institutions in being amongst the first to participate in this market, just as London has benefited from being the hub of the European carbon market….

Being out in front has its advantages and confers a moral superiority but there will always be forces of conservatism who will be made to feel uncomfortable. It is therefore more important than ever that countries in the early adopters group work together to defend their actions and encourage more into the fold.

No one, in Europe or Australia, can now claim to be going it alone, and with luck soon many more will step up and join the race to the top. As Australia has shown this will not be easy, but we must defy those who would rather participate in a race to the bottom where ultimately everyone is a loser….

October 15, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | | Leave a comment

Australia’s House of Representatives passes The Australian Clean Energy legislative package,

Australian clean and renewable energy legislation passed, Reinforced Plastic 13 October 2011 The Australian Clean Energy legislative package, which put a price on carbon emissions and promotes renewable energy, has been passed by the House of Representatives. By Kari Williamson   The 19 Bills comprise the Clean Energy legislation and the Steel Transformation Plan Bill, which put a price on carbon emissions, promote investment in renewable and clean energy technologies, and support action to reduce carbon pollution on the land.

The legislation will now be introduced to the Senate, and aims to be passed through the upper house by the end of the year. According to media reports, there could be over US$13.2 billion on the table for renewable energy and other low-carbon investment if the legislation passes the Senate.

Australia is currently one of the top 20 polluting countries in the world.

October 15, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | | Leave a comment

Full coronial inquest to be held on Britain’s radiation murder victim

Marina Litvinenko, Mr. Litvinenko’s widow, said the inquiry would include “an investigation into the involvement of the Russian state in his murder, which is exactly what I want.”

Britain Agrees to New Inquiry Into Poisoning Death of a Former K.G.B. Officer NYT, By  October 14, 2011  LONDON — A coroner has agreed to open a full inquest into the radiation poisoning of the former K.G.B. officer Alexander V. Litvinenko, potentially bringing the case before a British legal forum for the first time, opening new seams of information about his death and possibly stirring new tensions with Moscow.

Continue reading

October 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment