Australian news, and some related international items

“The disaster has not gone away”: Sydney to commemorate Fukushima anniversary

This Sunday March 11 marks one year since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan triggered a nuclear accident at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. The reactors are still not under control and over 100 000 people remain ‘radiation refugees’ displaced from the area.

Events are planned around Australia and the world to mark the anniversary of the tragedy and call for an end to uranium mining and nuclear power. In Sydney a commemoration event will be held on Sunday March 11, 3-6pm at the Tom Mann Theatre (136 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills), with speakers and high-profile music and performance (see full details below).

A keynote speaker will be Peter Watts, an Arabunna man from the Lake Eyre region in South Australia. Mr Watts is co-chair of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance and has recently returned from addressing an 11 000 strong conference in Japan about the effects of the Olympic Dam uranium mine on Arabunna country. Continue reading

March 8, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian non government organisations’ message to Japan

Statement from Australian National Nuclear Free movement  Representatives from the following non-government environment and health organisations met over the weekend of March 3-4 2012: Environment Centre NT, Conservation Council of Western Australia, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Friends of the Earth, Japanese for Peace, Medical Association for the Prevention of War, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Footprints for Peace, Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace, Yellowcake Road Collective. The meeting sends this message of support to the people of Japan.

As we approach the one year anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that lead to the ongoing nuclear emergency at Fukushima, we wish to express our profound sympathy for the people of Japan.

A senior Australian Government official acknowledged last year that “Australian-obligated nuclear material was at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in each of the reactors”[1]. In light of this we express our deep sorrow that uranium from Australia bought by TEPCO is contaminating your sea, water, food chain and community.

On a good day uranium from Australia becomes radioactive waste. On a bad day it becomes nuclear fallout. The human impacts of the Fukushima nuclear emergency are wide ranging and long term. We regret that around 100,000 radiation refugees are displaced by the disaster and unable to return to their homes.

We cannot stop earthquakes and tsunamis. We can – and must – stop nuclear dangers.

Despite the ongoing emergency at Fukushima Australian governments at state and federal levels are pushing ahead with this toxic industry. The two biggest uranium mines in this country: Olympic Dam and Ranger have plans in place for new developments, exploration proposals continue and the Federal Government is working to advance uranium sales deals to India, China and United Arab Emirates.

We are determined to stop sales of uranium from Australia. Uranium mining causes environmental and cultural damage in Australia and leads to long-term damage overseas. Continue reading

March 8, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Opposition to nuclear | | Leave a comment

Australia’s Future Fund, and its investments in nuclear weapons

A Future Fund with a chequered past. 8 March 12,   IT is yet to celebrate its sixth birthday, but Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Future Fund, has long attracted criticism….. Last year it emerged that the Future Fund had invested heavily in a string of companies that made parts for nuclear weapons. It defended its move on the grounds the investments did not contravene the nuclear non-proliferation treaty……. The Future Fund argues its strategy ensured a strong performance during the darkest days of the global financial crisis.

A spokesman said its focus was “on an appropriate mix of investment opportunities to achieve mandated returns with acceptable but not excessive risk”.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

The psychological toll, as well as the cancer risk, in Fukushima’s radiation

Radiation is still leaking from the now-closed Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, though at a slower pace than it did in the weeks after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. It’s not immediately fatal but could show up as cancer or other illnesses years later.
The uncertainty breeds fear.

The [cancer] risk is cumulative. The radioactivity in one’s body builds up through various activities, including eating contaminated food every day or staying in a hot spot for an extended period.

Uncertain risks torment Japanese in nuclear zone, THE HINDU, 8 March 12,  Yoshiko Ota keeps her windows shut. She never hangs her laundry outdoors. Fearful of birth defects, she warns her daughters — never have children.

This is life with radiation, nearly one year after a tsunami-hit nuclear power plant began spewing it into Ota’s neighbourhood, 60 km away. She’s so worried that she has broken out in hives.

“The government spokesman keeps saying there are no immediate health effects,” the 48-year-old nursery school worker says. “He’s not talking about 10 years or 20 years later. He must think the people of Fukushima are fools. It’s not really OK to live here,” she says. “But we live here.” Continue reading

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The right policy mix – Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC)

Luckily, in Australia, we are developing precisely such a [correct] policy mix. R&D support is taken care of by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), a price on carbon starts in mere months, and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) focuses on rolling out clean energy projects.

If subsidies are an economic evil, then let’s deny them across the board. Let’s wind back the billion dollar depreciation subsidies for oil and gas and wind back the billions in fuel tax exemptions for the mining industry for a start.

Right track for a clean energy future Climate Spectator,  8 Mar 2012 Simon O’Connor  “…….that policy option, [supporting renewable energy combined with a price on carbon]  is far and away the most cost-effective climate change mitigation strategy, delivering emissions reductions at significantly lower cost..

….. At a time when most economies are blindly groping for industries that will create jobs and open new markets, the renewable energy industry is a global superstar. Over $260 billion was invested globally in renewables last year, with more renewable energy infrastructure built than fossil fuels since 2010.

Germany is the world’s biggest market for solar power, producing about half of all solar output in 2010, and was recently responsible for lodging around a quarter of the world’s patents for renewable energy technologies. Considering the more than $40 billion invested there last year in the midst of a tumultuous eurozone economy, and the 370,000 jobs in the renewable sector, it seems odd to suggest that support for clean energy has been poorly targeted.

German growth in this sector has without doubt been primarily due to strong government support. Having nurtured the industry to the point that it is becoming genuinely commercially competitive, the German government is now slowly unwinding its support. Far from a demonstration of the failure of public support, this is a textbook example of how innovation should be considered a public good, one that should be supported then left to stand on its own two feet once mature. .. Continue reading

March 8, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Let’s not forget that other cancer causer – UV radiation

Students in NSW not sun safe, Sky News,  March 4, 2012 New research shows students in NSW have amongst the poorest sun protection in Australia. The state came second last in a nationwide review of the sun protection policies in government schools by the New South Wales Cancer Council.

It’s now calling for an urgent overhaul of the state’s outdated sun policy so students receive the same sun protection measures as schools in other parts of Australia. Skin cancer prevention manager Vanessa Rock says state schools in NSW were failing to implement basic sun protection measures.

As part of the survey, each state and territory was marked on a list of key sun protection requirements, such as wearing a sun safe hat and using SPF 30+ sunscreen. Queensland, the NT, Victoria and ACT all scored top marks while Tasmania, which has much lower levels of UV radiation, came in at the bottom of the list.

Models banned from tanning, SMH 1 March 12,    “….Sue Heward, SunSmart’s manager, calling on Victoria to follow the NSW Government’s decision last month to ban solariums by 2015. ”Not only is solarium use harmful to your health but it can prematurely age the skin making it coarse, pigmented, leathery and wrinkled. It is suggested that 80 per cent of wrinkles are due to overexposure to UV radiation from either the sun or solariums.”
The thinking goes that if the fashion industry sets an example that a tan is not stylish then young women, who are particularly resistant to health warnings, might be persuaded of the dangers of tanning….

.. It has been estimated that each year in Australia, 281 new melanoma cases, 43 melanoma-related deaths, and 2572 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma can be attributed to solarium use.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | health, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Aboriginal Sovereignty – it’s about Respect, and Land – not about Money

Aboriginal sovereignty must be on the agenda, says Michael Anderson, Green Left, March 7, 2012, By Kamala EmanuelPerth About 50 people attended a forum addressed by Michael Anderson at the Curtin University Aboriginal Studies Centre on March 5. Anderson is a Gamilaroi man from New South Wales and is one of the four original founders of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972.

The forum was organised by the Nyoongar Tent Embassy. Two days before, Anderson had addressed the WA Tent Embassy.

Anderson said Aboriginal people had never given up their sovereignty, that there had never been a defeat in declared war, that Aboriginal land had not been ceded and that the British crown had not asserted sovereignty over Aboriginal people.

He gave illustrations from case law, including letters and legislation from colonial times, to show that Aboriginal people were not British subjects and were they considered such. He described recent legal efforts examine whether Australian courts have jurisdiction over Aboriginal people. Anderson invited Aboriginal people of WA to take part in the formation of an interim Aboriginal government of national unity. So far, the interim government includes representatives of more than 40 Aboriginal nations from eastern Australia.

He described plans to have Aboriginal people recognised as a non-self-governing people by the United Nations. He also spoke of several legal initiatives, including a “writ of Mandamus” to get the British parliament to protect Aboriginal sovereignty, genocide proceedings against Britain in the European Union, and compensation and restitution claims for Aboriginal people with respect to mineral and petroleum exploitation.

The crowd received his words with enthusiasm. Many agreed with Anderson’s view Aboriginal sovereignty was “not about the money”. Anderson also said it was important to reject the Barnett state government’s proposed land deal with Nyoongar people in southwest Western Australia — a deal that would stamp out all native title claims over the region.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment