Australian news, and some related international items

BHP won’t pay a cent of Mineral Resources Rent Tax from Olympic Dam uranium mine profits

March 16, 2012 With copper, uranium, gold and silver not covered by the Mineral Resources Rent Tax, profits from biggest hole in the ground ever dug on the face of this planet, the Olympic Dam mine, will be excluded the Greens said.Greens Senator forSouth Australia, Senator Penny Wright, told the Senate last night, that while the tax was a first step towards more efficient taxation of the benefits of the mining boom, not a single cent derived from the Minerals Resources Rent Tax (MRRT) would come from the Olympic Dam mine.

“Olympic Dam is one of our largest mines and is expected to raise billions of dollars of profits from the copper, uranium, gold and silver mined there – yet not one of these minerals will be included in the MRRT,” Senator Wright said.

“The owners of this massive hole, BHP Billiton, are smiling all the way to the bank.   Their deal with the South Australian Government locks in pitifully low royalty rates for 45 years, with no guarantees of one extra job in the state, and the government footing the bill for infrastructure.  And Australians will not receive a cent from the mine under the MRRT.

“The net economic return toSouth Australiain years 10-20 of the project could be as low as $10m per year and that is even before millions are given back to BHP Billiton through federal subsidies like the diesel fuel rebate.

“But the real losers of this deal are our children and grandchildren – we are giving their resources away for a pittance while at the same time leaving them to deal with the enormous toxic legacy of managing the world’s largest radioactive waste dump.

“The Greens will ultimately support this tax, because in this case, something is better than nothing. But there is no doubt that this taxation regime needs to be strengthened so we can all get a fair return for our shared mineral wealth and invest it in things that will benefit all Australians like Denticare, the NDIS and quality public education.”


March 16, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Olympic Dam, politics, uranium | | Leave a comment

Muckaty Traditional Owners send plea to Governor General, opposing radioactive waste dump

16 March 12,  Muckaty Traditional Owners opposed to a national nuclear waste dump on the Muckaty Land Trust north of Tennant Creek in the NT have written to the Governor General asking her not to give royal assent or sign the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill into law. The NRWM Bill passed the Senate on Tuesday and the amended legislation finally passed through the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The legislation preserves the highly contested Muckaty nomination, which is currently the subject of a federal court challenge by senior Traditional Owners opposed to the plan. The letter signed by 29 Muckaty Traditional Owners (attached in full 120315_Letter to GG re Muckaty-NRWMB .pdf ) says:

“Many of us are concerned and angry about the dump. We worry about what will be in it and what might be put in it in the future. We worry about the impact on country and animals and bush tucker and the old stories and new kids. We know the dances and designs for that country and we are very worried that the government is trying to put the nuclear waste dump there. We have been talking up for many years to say that we do not want the waste dump, but the government has never listened to us.”

The correspondence also requests the Governor General meet with Traditional Owners ‘face to face’ before making a decision or formally approving  the law. For more information and comment: Muckaty Traditional Owner Penny Phillips, 0488 225 084 Natalie Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, 0429 900 774


March 16, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) bullied employees, to shut them up about radiation concerns

In their statement to Comcare’s investigator, Mr Howe and Mr Bourke said that while they had been reinstated, they were still being harassed.
The case follows that of David Reid, a former staff-elected health and safety officer who was suspended in June 2009 and sacked last June. He had also raised concerns about contamination in the ARI.

Lucas Heights nuclear reactor bullying exposed
BY: LEIGH DAYTON,  The Australian March 16, 2012
  ADMINISTRATORS at Australia’s only nuclear reactor facility used findings of an inaccurate, biased and partially fabricated in-house report as the pretext to suspend – and recommend the dismissal of – two employees who raised health and safety concerns over the mishandling of radioactive materials. Continue reading

March 16, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | | Leave a comment

Unfair court ruling against atomic test veterans

VIDEO ,  Maralinga veterans shocked by ‘cruel’ ruling, ABC News, March 16, 2012 Veterans of the Maralinga nuclear tests in South Australia in the 1950s and ’60s have suffered a major setback in their bid to sue the British government.

The British supreme court has ruled that 1,000 British veterans involved with the tests are unable to file for compensation from the
UK ministry of defence because too much time has passed since the tests. A group of 320 Australian veterans had hoped to file their own class action based on the result. A Sydney solicitor handling the case, Michael Giles, says his firm
will explore their options. “I don’t see it as completely crippling the claim, but our options have been severely limited and we will have to look at it and just take it from there,” he said.

Mr Giles says the British experience might be a setback but it does not change that what happened to veterans was wrong.
“The fact that the government asks you to do this and then you became sick because your government asked you to do that but then your government rejects it and in fact has made laws that’s made it incredibly difficult for you to pursue that is unfair,” he said.

“The amount of money which has been spent by the British government just defending this case through three courts would have gone a long way to compensating British, Australian, New Zealand and Fijian veterans.”

Former RAAF member Avon Hudson says he feels used and abused by the UK court decision. Mr Hudson says he has overcome cancer but is still sick from the nuclear testing. “There is a higher incidence of cancers among the nuclear veterans, something like 40 per cent higher than the normal population that never went to the bomb tests,” he said. “I think that tells anyone with half a brain that we were affected more than the ordinary population.” Mr Hudson says he is shocked by the decision.  “My immediate thoughts is that they are callous, disrespectful, cruel and hard-hearted towards the nuclear veterans,” he said.

March 16, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Intimidation tactics against climate scientists

“I have been subject to all sorts of personal attacks, threats to my safety, my life, threats to my family, and it’s not just me, it’s
dozens of climate scientists in the US, in Australia and many other regions of the world where our findings are finding that climate change is real and potentially poses a threat to civilisation if we don’t confront that challenge. That represents a threat to certain vested interests and they’ve tried hard to discredit the science, often by discrediting and intimidating the scientists. “

VIDEO  Climatologist slams intimidation of scientists Australian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast: 15/03/2012
Reporter: Emma Alberici Climatologist and director of the Earth System Science Centre in Pennsylvania State University Michael Mann joins Lateline.
Transcript Continue reading

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, climate change - global warming, secrets and lies | , , | Leave a comment

South Australia the chosen route for Lucas Heights radioactive wastes to the Northern Territory?

Nuclear waste headed to South Australia – Greens, Herald Sun, AAP March 15, 2012 THE Greens say the South Australian Government has abandoned its tough stand against the transport of nuclear waste through the state. Greens MP Mark Parnell said former Premier Mike Rann won a High Court challenge against Howard government plans to locate a nuclear waste
dump in SA. Mr Rann also opposed the transport of nuclear waste through the state to a proposed dump in the Northern Territory.
Federal parliament yesterday passed a Bill authorising the NT dump and Mr Parnell said the State Government now appeared to accept nuclear waste from the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney would travel through SA….. “This transport is completely unnecessary,” Mr Parnell said today.

“Even if you accept the need to build a waste-storage facility in the Northern Territory, which the Greens totally reject, the most direct route from Lucas Heights to the NT is nowhere near South Australia.”

Mr Parnell said in 2009 a federal government report found that transporting waste through SA was an option that would avoid the
emotive idea of taking it through the Blue Mountains. But he said if the waste came through SA it would travel through Australia’s foodbowl and tourist areas such as the SA Riverland.

March 16, 2012 Posted by | South Australia, wastes | | Leave a comment

Is rare earths company Lynas planning to return radioactive wastes to Australia?

“Where exactly is ‘abroad’? Identify and prove to us which country outside of Malaysia is willing to accept this massive [volume of] toxic waste.

AELB says will close Lynas plant if waste agreement broken The Malaysian Insider, March 15, 2012  KUALA LUMPUR,   The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) assured Malaysians today it will shutter Lynas Corporation’s rare earth plant in Kuantan if the Australian mining firm violates conditions on the disposal of radioactive material.

According to Star Online, the regulator reminded at its weekly media briefing today that that firm had already struck an agreement with local authorities here for it to return any radioactive waste to Australia if it fails to set up a permanent disposal facility here. Continue reading

March 16, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Lynas and Malaysian govt not winning hearts and minds of Malaysians

Four government ministries have been roped in to help Lynas find a suitable storage site in the country is not only amusing but downright deploring. The statement by the international trade and industry minister that the radio active wastes will be disposed of overseas, even though it may break international laws is really not very assuring.

Lynas cannot continue to hide behind the Malaysian government’s skirt in its operations

Lynas Corp’s absurd publicity stunts — The Malaysian Insider, Iskandar Dzulkarnain March 14, 2012 “….what can the Penang CM do to alleviate the current controversy surrounding the Lynas rare earth plant? Would his personal opinion or intervention buy over the thousands of critics who are against the existence of the Rare Earth Plant in Pahang State?

Isn’t it more appropriate to meet with Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of Pakatan Rakyat who is against the controversial project based on allegations that the Australian miner has not given enough assurances on how it will handle the low-level radioactive waste that will be produced at the refinery? Continue reading

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The sobering facts on dealing with dead nuclear reactors

Intermediate-level waste, contrary to its name, is even more of a problem because it may require deep ground burial alongside the high-level spent fuel

In 1976, a British Royal Commission said no more nuclear power plants should be built until the waste disposal problems were resolved. Thirty-five years on, nothing much has changed.

How to dismantle a nuclear reactor, New Scientist, 15 March 2012 by Fred Pearce  By the start of 2012, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, 138 commercial power reactors had been permanently shut down. At least 80 are expected to join the queue for decommissioning in the coming decade – more if other governments join Germany in deciding to phase out nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster in Japan last year.

And yet, so far, only 17 of these have been dismantled and made permanently safe. That’s because decommissioning is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.
A standard American or French-designed pressurised water reactor (PWR) – the most common reactor design now in operation – will produce more than 100,000 tonnes of waste, about a tenth of it significantly radioactive, including the steel reactor vessel, control rods, piping and pumps. Decommissioning just a single one generally costs up to half a billion dollars.

That’s bad enough, but many reactors are not standard PWRs. Continue reading

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Eco Whisper – small, silent wind turbine in operation in Geelong

New polish on the factory floor, The Age, Jo Chandler, March 16, 2012  Geelong manufacturer Austeng ticks many of the boxes nominated by industry gurus as crucial to survival in the globalised world. Is this modest firm the template for the future?……..

The latest proud product of their collective skills sits outside in the yard. It’s a prototype 21-metre high wind turbine, its blades whizzing silently in the breeze, generating 20 kilowatts of energy. It’s emblematic of the kind of future George is determined to be part of. He has put his money where his mouth is, buying back the Eco Whisper prototype that he had built for a renewable power company, and he estimates it will generate about a third of the energy required for his factory. Continue reading

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Victoria, wind | | Leave a comment

National Party M.P. John Cobb urged to support new $10 billion renewable energy fund

Participants are calling on member for Calare John Cobb to get behind the renewable energy fund.

Groups shine light on solar energy Western Daily, BY TRACEY PRISK 16 Mar, 2012  ORANGE Climate Action Now and the Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange joined forces on the weekend to support a national push for the formation of a $10 billion clean energy fund.  Continue reading

March 16, 2012 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

South Australia’s wind energy experience debunks the myths of the anti wind lobby

Australia can draw on real-life experience in South Australia. And it serves to debunk a few myths: wind does not need like-for-like back-up, or anything near it. It does achieve abatement, it does displace fossil fuel generation, and it is not anywhere near as expensive as some claim.

 wind accounts for more than 20 per cent of SA’s electricity consumption, making it the second largest in percentage terms in the world after Denmark, and the highest on a per capita basis.

State’s wind farms help debunk a few myths BY: GILES PARKINSON, The Australian March 16, 2012 IS wind energy as useless as its critics say it is? Is it really so expensive and ineffective that its emissions abatement is achieved at 10 times
the cost of gas-fired generation?

That was the conclusion of a British study sponsored by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, chaired by former Conservative chancellor and noted climate sceptic Nigel Lawson. Wind power upsets a few people, not least the climate sceptics who simply can’t comprehend its utility. Continue reading

March 16, 2012 Posted by | South Australia, wind | , | Leave a comment

Investment coming into renewable energy in Australia

TRUenergy ready to invest in renewables again, REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson on 16 March 2012 TRUenergy, one of the big three retailers responsible for building or commissioning renewable energy projects to meet the 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, says that it is ready to invest in projects, and expects to make its first decisions before the end of the year. Continue reading

March 16, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment