Australian news, and some related international items

Aboriginal elder takes legal action against new Olympic Dam uranium mine

‘Tiny voice’ of elder takes on Olympic Dam BY: SARAH MARTIN, SA POLITICAL REPORTER  The Australian February 22, 2012   BHP Billiton’s proposed $20 billion Olympic Dam mine expansion, to create the world’s largest open-cut mine, will be challenged in the Federal Court after an application was lodged by Aboriginal elder Kevin Buzzacott.

Mr Buzzacott, who is known as Uncle Kevin, is being represented by the Adelaide-based Environmental Defenders Office. The office claims the mine expansion has been approved unlawfully under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act by federal Environment Minister Tony Burke.

Among the claims are that much of the environmental assessment and decision-making was based on plans and studies that have not yet been prepared and that the minister did not properly consider impacts from the above-ground storage of radioactive tailings waste, the export of uranium and on groundwater resources, including the Great Artesian Basin.

Mr Buzzacott, an elder from Arabunna land in South Australia’s remote north, is known for his anti-uranium campaigning, and in 2007 was awarded an Australian Conservation Foundation award recognising his protest work. The EDO filed an application on his behalf in the Federal Court yesterday, saying his “tiny voice” was prepared to take on the giant……

February 22, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium | Leave a comment

South Australian government framed laws for BHP Billiton’s uranium mining, not for the people

Commercial vested interests of uranium mining companies are writing the script for Australia’s uranium sales deals under both Liberal and now ALP federal governments…….

South Australia should come to its senses and recognise our society’s responsibilities to get out of the uranium trade and not be made complicit in nuclear risks for BHP Billiton’s vested interests.

Our uranium fuelled Fukushima, David Noonan, The Guardian, 22 Feb 12 “……..How did the SA government perform in exercising their responsibilities after Fukushima? Indigenous people bear a disproportionate burden of impacts from uranium mining and this will certainly continue to be the case in SA
under the Roxby Indenture deal “negotiated” by the state with BHP Billiton that is being pushed through Parliament with bi-partisan support.

BHP Billiton is not bound by the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 in the “Stuart Shelf Area” of some 1.5 percent of the area of SA around the Olympic Dam mine.

Aboriginal heritage obligations that apply to every other miner or developer do not apply to the Big Australian for the 70-year extended period of the Roxby Indenture, and the state further agreed that this can only be changed in future with the agreement of the company. Continue reading

February 22, 2012 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

Jewish leaders urge an intelligent approach to Iran

 The only realistic option is to allow Iran to enrich uranium in return for enhanced oversight and inspection of its nuclear program.

Leaders of Cleveland’s Jewish community urgently need to promote discussion of this best option for Israel and the U.S. before it is too late.

Allow Iran ot enrich uranium,  Cleveland Jewish News, February 17, 2012  Norman Robbins  If you’re pro-Israel and want to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, it’s time to leave the U.S./Israeli echo chamber that gives only two ineffective options – more sanctions or war.
First, some background. It is vitally important to distinguish between nuclear “break-out” capability and the actual building of a nuclear weapon. As long as Iran is not attacked, it has many reasons to achieve nuclear capability but not manufacture.

An attack on Iran by nuclear powers such as Israel and the U.S. in the absence of concrete evidence of actual nuclear bomb manufacture would violate international law and be intensely criticized by most of the world. It would legitimize a subsequent crash-program of bomb-making by Iran, as many experts anticipate. Therefore, not making a bomb actually serves Iran as a better deterrent than manufacture, which would cross an obvious “red line.”

In addition, Iran has genuine religious compunctions about building a weapon of mass destruction, as it showed by choosing not to use chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war , by Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa against nuclear weapons and by Iran’s support of a nuclear-free Middle East. Also, it is inconceivable that Iran would pre-emptively use a nuclear weapon against Israel, when it would kill huge numbers of Palestinians, contaminate Islam’s third-most holy site, enrage the entire Muslim world, and suffer Israel’s terrible retaliation. In fact, three directors of Israel’s intelligence (Ephraim Halevy, Meir Dagan and Tamir Pardo), who should know best, have said that Iran poses no “existential” threat to Israel. Continue reading

February 22, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian uranium mining companies ripping off African countries?

IGF’s views follow remarks by Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor Perks Ligoya last December during which he protested the generous allowances the Malawi government provided to Australia’s Paladin Energy in the Kayelekera uranium mining deal in Karonga.

Mining deals worry industry grouping The Daily Times,  21 February 2012  Isaac Masingati An international mining industry grouping, Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF), says it is concerned with contracts between investors and governments especially in developing countries, saying they tend to be skewed in favour the investor.

IGF President Leonard Kalindekafe told the Business Times in Zomba on Friday that there was a concern among members of the grouping that some investors were taking advantage of governments’ lack of expertise to strike deals that bring little profits. “This is a big concern to the Forum because some bona fide countries are not able to realise full benefits from their minerals,” he said. Continue reading

February 22, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

USA wants to sell or lease nuclear submarines to Australia

US offers Australia nuclear subs: report, Business Spectator, 22 Feb 2012  The United States has signalled that it is willing to lease or sell a nuclear-powered submarine to Australia, as the local Defence Department searches for a replacement for its Collins class vessels, according to The Australian Financial Review.

US Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich, told the newspaper Washington viewed Australia’s

submarine program as crucial to security in the Asia-Pacific region.

While Defence Minister Stephen Smith has previously ruled out the purchase of a nuclear sub, Coalition leader Tony Abbott would be expected to consider the option if he becomes prime minister, the AFR said…..

February 22, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Indian government ready to get tough on peaceful fasting anti nuclear protestors

Around 500 police personnel were deployed near the road leading to the project site on Monday and commandos have been positioned at the main gate of the KKNPP premises with automatic weapons.

Anti-nuclear protesters embark on 72-hour fast, THE HINDU, 22 Feb 2012 P. SUDHAKAR Even as a two-member International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team is camping at the Kundakulam Nuclear Power Project site for a routine annual review of reactors that fall under IAEA monitoring, anti-nuke protesters have announced a 72-hour-long fast in protest against the State Experts’ Panel convener S. Iniyan’s assertions that the panel members would not meet the
protesting villagers.

“The 72-hour long struggle will commence from Monday midnight as Maha Sivaratri falls on this day. Continue reading

February 22, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s uranium industry – open slather for BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine

Uranium mining companies in Australia are in denial. They cited “commercial in confidence” so as not to disclose their contracts and not to reveal which reactors were fuelled with their uranium.

 Olympic Dam mine is a dam designed to leak an average of three million litres of liquid radioactive waste a day from the tailings storage facility through decades of mining up to 2050.

The federal and SA governments agreed to surface dumping of the tailings rather than to require best practice disposal into the pit.

Our uranium fuelled Fukushima, David Noonan, The Guardian, 22 Feb 12, Australian uranium fuelled the Fukushima nuclear disaster yet our governments have just approved the world’s largest uranium project in BHP Billiton’s proposed new pen pit mine at Roxby Downs.  “We can confirm that Australian obligated nuclear material was at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in each of the reactors – maybe five out of six, or it could have been all of them; almost all of them”.

This frank smoking gun admission by Dr Floyd, the Director-General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade came some seven months after the Fukushima crisis had started to unfold. It is quite likely this Australian uranium came from Roxby Downs in SA.

Denial runs deep in the nuclear industry. Continue reading

February 22, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | | Leave a comment

Whole body CT scans; their radiation may do more harm than good

the findings suggest that pan-scanning may be 26 times as likely to harm patients in the long run as to immediately help them in the acute care setting…. the results should serve as warning for the emergency department physician against ordering pan-scans for lower-risk patients

CT Pan-Scans Raise Radiation Dose Without Improving Results, Medscape Today, James Brice, February 21, 2012 — An Australian study of emergency department imaging practices has raised radiation safety concerns and new arguments about the clinical benefits of whole-body computed tomography (CT) imaging for the initial emergency department evaluation of critically injured patients.

Pan-scans, a wide field-of-view CT imaging protocol covering the body from the head to the pubic symphysis, stirred intensive debate when they were first introduced in the mid-2000s. A majority of academic authorities eventually accepted the high-speed application for diagnosing life-threatening, multifocal trauma in the emergency department, despite its propensity for exposing patients to levels of radiation of 20 mSv or more.

That single dose is double the amount of ionizing radiation the National Academy of Science’s Seventh Assembly of the Committee on Biologic Effects of Ionizing Radiation says will give a 40-year-old adult a 1-in-1000 chance of future cancer. Continue reading

February 22, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Solar energy a good financial deal for Australian homes

Double quick time for solar returns, The Border Mail, 22 Feb 12, Solar power systems are offering a return on investment in half the time it took a decade ago, according to an industry leader. Eco-Kinetics general manager South Australia, Mark Hofner, said solar power investments today would pay for themselves in about five years.

“A return on investment a decade ago would have taken 10 years,” Mr Hofner said. “Today it is around half the time; even a little 1.5 kilowatt system is under three-and-a-half years for a return. Solar is a good deal.” Continue reading

February 22, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Renewable energy helped Australia to lower greenhouse gas emissions

Mixed Greens: Clean power cut carbon in 2011, RENeweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath   21 February 2012 Australia has cut its total carbon emissions for the second year running, according to new figures released by the federal government yesterday, an achievement – coming at a time of economic growth – that is being largely attributed to the electricity sector and, more specifically, the introduction of more clean, renewable energy into the power mix

. Clean Energy Council acting CEO Kane Thornton said the analysis from the Australian National Greenhouse Accounts shows that overall greenhouse emissions dropped about 1 per cent in the year to September 2011, while electricity emissions dropped 3.2 per cent during this period…….

February 22, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment