Australian news, and some related international items

State of play – nuclear news to March 6th

New South Wales. ANSTO quietly pushing for nuclear power in NSW. Govt is going to dump the Hunter’s Hill radioactive waste at Kemps Creek, despite their pre-election promise against this.  Dear oh dear!  We thought that Warren Mundine would be a bad (pro nuclear) choice for new Senator.  But – equally bad, probably worse, the very prominent and prestigious Bob Carr (?best mate of Tony Abbott) is the new Senator. Carr  has a record of opposing Aboriginal protest rights, as well as promoting nuclear power, and uranium mining for New South Wales

Uranium to India. Kim Beazley, Australia’s ambassador to USA, explains that Australia will sell uranium to India, even if it does go to nuclear weapons.  You see, it’s important not to offend the Indians’ sensibilities by insisting on little fussy regulations like the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.

Lynas rare earths company  is under fire in Australia, with the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia (ANAWA)’s motion to the EPA , questioning health and safety approvals for its Mt Weld mine. Malaysian govt directs Lynas to relocate its radioactive waste facility. A court hearing of Gebeng residents’ case against Lynas to be heard on March 20. Calls for independent monitoring of its radioactive wastes. Hackers break into Lynas’ website.

Astroturfing.  Independent Australia’s Sandi Keane blows the whistle on the ‘community’ anti wind power groups in Victoria

March 6, 2012 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) pushing for nuclear power for New South Wales

A NSW power trip,  Climate Spectator, Keith Orchison, 6 Mar 12, “.. the NSW Legislative Assembly public accounts committee, chaired by Sydney North Shore MP Jonathan O’Dea, which has been given the task by the O’Farrell government of examining the economics of power generation.

…One answer, says the Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation in a submission to the parliamentary committee, is to consider diversifying the NSW power system, adding renewables, fossil-fuelled plants with carbon capture and storage and reactors to the mix.

Energy security for NSW, says ANSTO, will be at risk without active consideration of nuclear energy, given that the future cost of carbon isn’t known and wind and what-not is intermittent. Given the availability and price challenges gas generation faces, it suggests the stability of nuclear power pricing should make it attractive…..”

March 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

NSW Wales government will dump radioactive waste at Kemps Creek

LETTER CONFIRMS O’FARRELL WILL DUMP RADIOACTIVE WASTE AT KEMP’S CREEK (NSW), Beyond Nuclear, 5 March 12,  The O’Farrell Government has turned its back on the people of western Sydney – and confirmed it will break its election promise and dump tonnes of radioactive dirt from Hunters Hill in Kemps Creek. This is in addition to radioactive material from the former uranium smelter at Hunters Hill already being sent to the Lidcombe waste facility. In a February 7 letter to Liverpool City Council, the O’Farrell Government confirmed: The material to be removed from the Hunters Hill site is predominantly clean soil interspersed with traces of low level radioactive contamination, the SITA facility at Kemps Creek is the only facility in NSW licensed to accept this class of waste.

March 6, 2012 Posted by | New South Wales, wastes | 1 Comment

Australian uranium can go to India’s nuclear weapons: Australia doesn’t care

Indian weapons programme will not deter uranium sale: Australia THE HINDU, NARAYAN LAKSHMAN, 25 FEB 12,  Commenting on its decision to allow uranium exports to India, the Australian government this week said that if India hypothetically diverted its domestic uranium into weapons uses following such exports that would be “very upsetting and very bad,” but that development nevertheless “would not alter the direction of the Australian government’s policy.”

Responding to a question from The Hindu on whether resistance to nuclear trade with India in certain international institutions was problematic for this policy decision by Australia, the country’s Ambassador to the United States, Kim Beazley, explained that Australian policy in this regard was driven by two considerations.

The first, Ambassador Beazley said during a media interaction organised by the National Press Club’s International Correspondents Committee, was a statement of principle: “Yes, we are prepared to sell uranium to India. Previously our position was [that we were] not prepared to sell uranium to India.”….The Ambassador also supplied details explaining why Australia had shifted its stance on the matter, outlining several broad issues.

First, Mr. Beazley noted, the Gillard administration believed that so long as Australia had a nuclear agreement with India that was similar to what the U.S. had, that relationship would be “roughly within fingertip-touching distance” of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

Second, he said, Australia “went down and signed that agreement with the Indians basically not because we need the sales. We sell enough uranium… So that’s not important to us. What is important to us is the character of the relationship we have with India, that’s why we made the changes.”

India had clearly conveyed to Australia that it “found us selling to the Chinese and us selling to the Russians and not selling to them to be something of an insult and that had to be dealt with.”

The Ambassador said that it had then become evident to their administration that Australia could not have the sort of relationship with India that it desired if it were operating on a basis that the Indians felt insulted by. “That policy had to change,” Mr. Beazley noted.

March 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A history of dishonesty – Waubra Foundation, Landscape Guardians, and the Baillieu government.

The question we, the voters, need to ask is:  ‘how did such a sorry lot with such a transparent and dishonest agenda succeed in bringing the wind industry to its knees thus depriving the public of a chance to reduce our carbon emissions?’

The answer is that no government could have been so easily duped unless it was complicit.

It is clear that the scuttling of the wind industry in Victoria was a deliberate political ploy to appease the coal industry, with the Guardians’ scare campaign simply serving as window dressing to dupe the public into thinking it was all in our interest.

This is the third part of Independent Australia environment editor Sandi Keane’s trilogy on the role of deception in the public debate on global warming. The first part, Deception is our Product, looked at the role of clever PR practitioners hired by the mining oligarchs to trick the unsuspecting into sacrificing their interests for those of their clients. The second part was the handy guide: The Practical Guide to Trickery & Fakery in the Digital Age. This thirdinstalment is the actual case study of Sandi’s investigation of the Landscape Guardians and the Waubra Foundation.

CASE STUDY: The Landscape Guardians and the Waubra Foundation, Independent Australia, 6 March 12,  It began early last year, when a mate who likes to argue the toss with me on enviro-issues tipped me off about the anti-wind group, the Landscape Guardians.

The first hint that these people were not the self-appointed protectors of the landscape they claimed to be was the name. No dinky di greenie group would knowingly jump into bed with the notorious UK Country Guardians, with its links to both climate skeptics and the nuclear industry. The pressure group was set up by Sir Bernard Ingham, who was a former press secretary to Margaret Thatcher, consultant to the nuclear industry and an acknowledged “black belt” in the art of spin. Continue reading

March 6, 2012 Posted by | secrets and lies, Victoria, wind | , | Leave a comment

Bob Carr and Tony Abbott in perfect harmony

Bob Carr: ‘I agree with Tony Abbott’, Green Left, March 5, 2012 By Peter Robson Prime Minister Julia Gillard anointed former NSW premier Bob Carr as the foreign minister on March 2. It awaits the approval of a joint sitting of NSW parliament but for all intents and purposes, Carr has just been catapulted to the third-highest political post in the land after being out of politics since 2005….. . We found a stand-out post from January 27.   Here, Carr commented on the protest against opposition leader Tony Abbott and Gillard on January 26 by members of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.

Carr said: “I agree with Tony Abbott and think his remarks entirely sensible. The Tent Embassy in Canberra says nothing to anyone and should have been quietly packed up years ago…….Carr also said: “The block-headed demonstration sets back reconciliation and would seal the defeat for Aboriginal recognition in the constitution if a referendum were pending.”

I think the best bit about being an Labor Party intellectual must be having the gall to tell an impoverished, oppressed minority — whose rate of imprisonment exceeds that of the imprisonment of blacks under South African Apartheid — that they are drawing too much attention to their cause. That takes some chutzpah….. In the context of discrimination of the kind his party supports by supporting the NT intervention, and the context of the vast gulf in living conditions and incarceration rates between black and white, such a policy would gut any attempt at “narrowing the gap”. It would, in short, be a policy of assimilation. Aboriginal disadvantage would become simply “disadvantage” — inexplicable, unsolvable, but most of all, no one’s fault.

Carr (bravely, Sir Humphry Appleby might say) started his post with “I agree with Tony Abbott …”. Maybe he should have just left it there.

March 6, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

ICAN exposes the financial institutions that back the nuclear industry

ICAN said that out of 322 such financial institutions, roughly half are based in the US and a third in Europe, while there are institutions from Asia, Australia and the Mid-East.

Over 300 financial institutions funding nuclear firms: NGO , Economic Times, 5 March 12, NEW DELHI: A foreign NGO today claimed that more than 300 financial institutions, including some Indian firms, have exposure to 20 major nuclear weapons companies across the world and urged them to stop these investments.

The NGO, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), has also named Indian conglomerate Larsen and Toubro (L&T), which has done some work for Indian Navy and the missile system, in a report released today.  Continue reading

March 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Carbon price is ‘business friendly’ – far from being a communist plot

Global warming, a communist plot? Business Spectator:  Tristan Edis , 6 Mar 2012   “….. within Australia, climate change science has become tarred as a cause of the left rather than an objective physical phenomenon. Attempts to use a price signal or a market in carbon permits to control the problem, one of the least communist ways of controlling emissions, are represented as the end of the world as we know it. We are told to expect mass job losses, a deep economic recession, the lights going out and even the loss of our democratic freedoms.

Some of this hysteria is clearly the product of public relations exercises by cold, calculating firms looking after their own self
interest, ….
For many of them climate change is seen through the lens of a broader battle against the left’s attempts to curtail achievement of their vision. This is perhaps best personified by someone like Hugh Morgan, former head of Western Mining and president of the Business Council of Australia. Morgan has been a major driver of Australia’s resources industry and has led fights on industrial relations, Aboriginal land rights, and other constraints on development of minerals resources.

When climate change emerged as a major problem in the 90s, Morgan was quick to act with the establishment of the Lavoissier Institute.

This association of climate change with broader causes of the left has been incredibly unfortunate. It means we now have a significant and incredibly influential segment of the business community that is almost irrational in its approach to government policies to control greenhouse gas emissions. Using a price signal or carbon permit market to control greenhouse gas emissions would be the most business friendly way of controlling our greenhouse gas emissions. It should not be seen as some kind of communist plot.

March 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Lynas’ Mt Weld rare earths mines found to have out-dated safety permits

Lynas’ Mt Weld Rare Earths Mines Safety Permits Outdated   NASDAQ 3/5/2012  by Esther Tanquintic-Mis  The controversy now has hit home. With Lynas Corp. still to fully arrest and win over the controversy surrounding its Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Malaysia, here comes yet another information that could possibly whip up a storm right where its home base is.

In a statement released to media news agencies worldwide, the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia (ANAWA) is set to file a motion today, Mar. 6, at the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to question the authenticity and effectiveness of the health and safety approvals issued to Lynas Corp. in reference to its Mt Weld rare earths mines in Western Australia.

According to the Free Malaysia Today, it was the Environmental Defenders Office of Australia that issued the media statement.

Marcus Atkinson, ANAWA spokesperson, alleged Lynas Corp. had made a number of alterations on the original health and safety approvals issued more than a decade ago for the operations of Mt Weld that did not undergo through the appropriate standard operating procedures relative to updating or modifying obsolete approvals.

“Lynas are currently operating under approvals issued to them 14 years ago,” Atkinson said, noting the terms and conditions contained in the original approvals could possibly no longer hold true to this day, specially “the amounts of radioactive materials being transported from Mt Weld through Fremantle Port.”

The Australian non-governmental organization urged the EPA to scrutinize the present operations at Mt Weld versus was what contained in the original health and safety approvals. “Health and safety issues need to be thoroughly examined to ensure the best protection of those involved in the handling of this material,” he said.

“The approvals given 14 years ago need to be re-examined by the EPA and stronger regulations need to be put in place to ease the fears of the community.” ANAWA also called for “extremely stringent” safeguards to protect Fremantle residents and other communities along the transport routes.

“We have made many mistakes in the past with the transport of lead and other materials, and we need to ensure that the same mistakes are not made with rare earth products,” Atkinson said.

Lynas Corp. is currently embroiled in a bitter battle against residents and political wannabes in Malaysia over its $200-million rare earths processing plant project in Gebeng, Kuantan.

March 6, 2012 Posted by | safety, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Groundwater threatened with increasing climate change

UN scientists warn of increased groundwater demands due to climate change, Eureka Alert,  Philip Riley, SAN FRANCISCO, March 1, 2012– Climate change has been studied extensively, but a new body of research guided by a San Francisco State University hydrologist looks beneath the surface of the phenomenon and finds that climate change will put particular strain on one of our most important natural resources: groundwater.

SF State Assistant Professor of Geosciences Jason Gurdak says that as precipitation becomes less frequent due to climate change, lake and reservoir levels will drop and people will increasingly turn to groundwater for agricultural, industrial, and drinking water needs. The resource accounts for nearly half of all drinking water worldwide, but recharges at a much slower rate than aboveground water sources and in many cases is nonrenewable.

“It is clear that groundwater will play a critical role in society’s adaption to climate change,” said Gurdak, who co-led a United Nations-sponsored group of scientists who are now urging policymakers to increase regulations and conservation measures on nonrenewable groundwater.

The scientists recently released a book of their research, titled “Climate Change Effects on Groundwater Resources,” that is the result of a global groundwater initiative by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They will soon make their case to international policymakers at the March 12-17 World Water Forum in Marseille, France.

The high-profile forum will allow the scientists for the first time to put the comprehensive groundwater findings before decision makers who have the power to enact regulatory changes. Gurdak will recommend closely monitoring or limiting groundwater pumping as well as renewing cooperation from communities to consume less water.

“In many ways, California is leading the way in developing solutions,” he said. “Artificial recharge, managed storage and recovery projects and low impact development around the state will become more important for many local water systems to bank excess water in aquifers.”

 The World Water Forum will be held from March 12 to 17 in Marseille, France. “Climate Change Effects on Groundwater Resources: A Global Synthesis of Findings and Recommendations,” was published in December 2011 by CRC Press. Selections from the book can be read here:

March 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Malaysia: call for independent monitoring of Lynas’ radioactive wastes

 ‘Let independent panel monitor Lynas’, New Straits Times,  05 March 2012, KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been urged to hire independent monitoring bodies to publish the radiation readings of residue to be disposed by Lynas Corporation. Environmental Protection Society Malaysia adviser Gurmit Singh said this was important as proof that the radiation level was safe as the government had claimed…

…. “As long as the research and findings by the government are not published, there is always going to be
concern,” he told the New Straits Times when contacted yesterday. Citing the now-closed Asian Rare Earth (ARE) project in Bukit Merah, Perak, as an example, he urged the government to reconsider its decision to continue with the project.

“Shifting the disposal site is not going to address bigger problems that will occur later in the future, the site might be shifted far
from where people live but there is still the eco-system and animals could also be affected. “Radiation is not something that can be immediately seen or felt, hence the phobia by the public.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the government had decided to ask Lynas Corporation to dispose of residue from its rare earth processing plant to a dedicated site far from residential areas.

March 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New renewable energy course in 187 Australian secondary schools

Students help get world on renewable path, Illawarra Mercury, BY KATE MCILWAIN 05 Mar, 2012   A new course focusing on renewable energy at Corrimal High School is helping to inspire the next generation of scientists. The Science and Technology Education Leveraging Relevance, or STELR, course provides colourful, interactive equipment for Year 10 students
to experiment with different ways of generating solar and wind energy. It was developed by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and is now taught at 187 schools nationally…..

March 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Climate change severely affecting Torres Strait islands

A SINKING FEELING IN THE TORRES STRAIT, ABC Radio National,  Hagar Cohen.4 March 2012, There are six islands in the Torres Strait facing inundation from tidal flooding. The encroaching sea is slowly washing away everything from building foundations to ancestral graves, and mosquitoes are thriving. One island has had its worst malaria outbreak in 50 years. There is a temporary solution—building seawalls—but the federal and state governments are showing little interest in paying for that, and in the meantime these island communities have a sinking feeling that relocation may be the only option left for them.

March 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | | Leave a comment