Australian news, and some related international items

Australia: government and industry complicit in Fukushima nuclear catastrophe

Australia could have played a role in breaking the vicious cycle of mismanagement in Japan’s nuclear industry by making uranium exports conditional on improved management of nuclear plants and tighter regulation. 

[The Australian uranium industry] has brought shame to all Australians by turning a blind eye to serious problems in customer countries and responding with mock indignation when anyone calls its bluff….

Australia’s role in the Fukushima disaster, March 17, 2012, Green Left, By Jim Green…..Australia’s role There is no dispute that Australian uranium was used in the Fukushima reactors. The mining companies won’t acknowledge that fact — instead they hide behind bogus claims of “commercial confidentiality” and “security”.

But the truth is out. The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office acknowledged in October that: “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.” It is likely that TEPCO was supplied with uranium from BHP Billiton’s
Olympic Dam mine, ERA’s Ranger mine, and Heathgate’s Beverley mine. Continue reading

March 19, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

China’s nuclear safety problems, more secret than Japan’s

China’s nuclear power plant review: ‘problems in 14 areas’ found,  Should we be concerned? Christian Science Monitor, By Peter Ford,18 March 12, A nuclear official said in passing this weekend that problems in 14 areas need to be resolved. In the wake of Fukushima, a shade more transparency would be welcome.   ….. a press conference held on Saturday on the sidelines of the annual National People’s Congress meeting, at which a top nuclear-industry insider spoke:

Referring to a safety review of China’s nuclear power plants conducted in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan last year, he mentioned, in passing, that “problems in 14 areas have been found and need to be resolved.” Some of them will take up to three years to fix, he added.

That was all that Wang Binghua, chairman of the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp., said on the subject, and none of the journalists present pressed him further, according to an official transcript of his remarks. So all we, and the Chinese public, know is that among China’s 14 working nuclear reactors there are 14 “problems.” What they might be, where, how serious they are, and what can be done to rectify them remains secret…..

Mr. Wang said he expected that the current freeze on the examination and approval of new nuclear plants – in effect since Fukushima – would end this year. He promised that “the Chinese government will not approve any new nuclear project that does not contain necessary emergency measures before the problems identified in the review have been solved.”

But since nobody outside China’s nuclear industry knows what the problems are, nobody can know whether they have been solved or not. Suddenly, even Japan’s dangerously shadowy nuclear industry begins to look almost transparent….

March 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Radioactive cesium in ocean plankton, from Fukushima

 follow-up studies will be necessary because the radioactive cesium is likely to have accumulated in fish that eat plankton, the team said

In the latest survey, the team also found cesium-134 — which has a two-year half-life — in plankton at the same levels as cesium-137, whose half-life is three decades.

Cesium found in plankton almost 375 miles from Fukushima nuclear plant, Boston Herald, By The Yomiuri Shimbun found_in_plankton_almost_375_miles_from_fukushima_nuclear_plant/srvc=home&position=recent, March 18, 2012 – TOKYO — Radioactive cesium believed to have been released during the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Japan following last year’s major earthquake has been found in plankton about 600 kilometers (nearly 375 miles) east of the facility, according to a Japan-U.S. joint research team. Continue reading

March 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian opinion against climate science is fuelled by paid ‘sceptics’

Making heretics of scientists casts a shadow, The Age, Sean Hosking, March 19, 2012 Recent revelations that several prominent global warming sceptics are in the pay of the free-market American think tank the Heartland Institute come as no surprise to many who have witnessed the slow descent of the debate from the lofty ”great moral issue of our time” to the cynical “great big tax on everything”.

The national climate report released by the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology on Wednesday added to the overwhelming body of scientific evidence supporting anthropogenic warming, but a recent CSIRO survey found politics was the primary factor in determining public views on the matter. Continue reading

March 19, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian government’s Energy White Paper deceitful on renewable energy data

The The Energy White Paper also backs nuclear power. Energy minister Martin Ferguson said as he launched the paper : “If we get to the end of this debate some years in the future, and we haven’t made the necessary breakthrough on clean energy at a low-cost outcome, then nuclear is there for Australia to buy off the shelf after a debate.”

Even more hypothetical is so-called “clean coal” (carbon capture) technology — but the paper relies on it for its future “clean energy” mix.

Activists blacklist energy white paper, Green Left , March 17, 2012, By Ben Courtice Climate activists like Newcastle group Rising Tide have labelled December’s draft Energy White Paper  (EWP), which charts the federal government’s plan for Australia’s future energy mix, a “black” paper. The group says the paper  “plans to further expand fossil fuel extraction (both domestically and for exports) at the expense of renewable [energy]”.

The future for fossil fuels in the paper includes more than tripling coal exports. Australia is already the world’s largest coal exporter. The EWP refers to the “entirely new coal precinct opening up in Queensland’s Galilee Basin”…. Continue reading

March 19, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

China, United Arab Emirates, way ahead in renewable energy, Australia lags

The Global Innovation Index, which analyses the economic strengths and innovation potential of 125 countries, ranked China among the world’s top five renewable energy ”innovation drivers”.
The index gave Australia an overall innovation score of 49.9 out of 100, giving it low scores (again, out of 100) for the number of science graduates (43), engineering graduates (22), share of renewables in energy use (three) and scientific outputs (33). 

Just when Australia is getting ready to sell even more vast quantities of coal to the world, the world wants less of it,”

China leads the way with clean-tech,Canberra Times, Rosslyn Beeby, March 19, 2012 Last month, the Chinese government launched a renewable energy think-tank, the China National Renewable Energy Centre. It will draft industry standards and seek to boost global investment in green energy projects.

The centre has already signed research and development co-operation deals with the United States, Denmark and Spain, and is also close to signing agreements with the International Renewable Energy Agency in the United Arab Emirates.
China is now the world’s single largest market for clean technology products and services. Continue reading

March 19, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Suspicions linger on unsolved murder of UK anti nuclear activist

Murrell, 78, was abducted from her home in Shrewsbury and her body was discovered days later in a nearby copse. A high-profile campaigner against nuclear weapons, she had been due to present evidence to the public inquiry into the proposed Sizewell B nuclear reactor in East Anglia.

“The victim was consumed with anxiety that something was going to happen to her. A look at why that might be involves the evidence she was about to give to the Sizewell inquiry.”

Hilda Murrell murder: call to examine ‘MI5 link’ to murder of nuclear activist, Michael Mansfield QC wants to know what intelligence services knew about killing of anti-nuclear activist Hilda Murrell in 1984, Mark Townsend, Guardian UK, The Observer ,   18 March 2012 Campaigner Hilda Murrell, 78, who was murdered in March 1984, had been due to give evidence at the public inquiry into the Sizewell B nuclear reactor.  One of Britain’s leading human rights lawyers has demanded a fresh police inquiry to establish what the British intelligence services knew about the murder of a prominent anti-nuclear campaigner.

Michael Mansfield QC said new evidence meant that an independent police force should be appointed to examine enduring concerns and inconsistencies relating to the death of Hilda Murrell in March 1984. Continue reading

March 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) gets a good rap from business analysts

The CEFC: A good first step, 19 Mar 2012, Climate Spectator, Kane Thornton A recent report by Deloitte, based on consultation with over 40 senior executives in Australian banks, super funds, venture capitalist firms and major investors, has revealed that they see clean energy as a good bet.

This should come as no great surprise: last year, local investments in renewable energy totalled $5.2 billion, while globally the pool reached more than $260 billion. What was perhaps surprising about the Deloitte findings was the
overwhelming  support respondents gave to the government’s $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), to be funded by carbon pricerevenue collected from the country’s 500 biggest polluters. Continue reading

March 19, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Australia should go for 21st Century renewable energy, and move away from outdated fossil fuel power

We cannot afford to be stuck with 19th century fossil fuel thinking and the potential that after spending up big on a one horse gamble that no country will want to buy our dirty energy.

Two-faced climate policy, MATTHEW WRIGHT ABC   19 MAR 2012 It’s ironic that Australia is moving toward a ‘cap’ on carbon emissions because while we’ve got this paper target for a five per cent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2020 we’ve also got the foot on the accelerator and running in overdrive expanding the coal and gas mining at an unprecedented rate.

Australia is on target to increase CO2 emissions originating from our shores by over 400 per cent. It’s a simple trick of accounting: claim a five per cent reduction by ignoring our fossil fuels that are burnt off shore.

This approach of saying one thing while doing another isn’t new to politics, but normally doesn’t keep currency with the population for so long. Trumpeting supposed carbon action while quadrupling our carbon emissions is a complete farce and has been going on for half a decade. Continue reading

March 19, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Huge commercial rooftop photovoltaic solar system for Port Melbourne

Australia’s Largest Rooftop Commercial Solar Power Project Announced, by Energy Matters, 19 Mar 12, NEXTDC Limited (ASX:NXT) (“the Company” or “NEXTDC”) has made another unprecedented move for the Australian data centre industry by committing to build what will be Australia’s largest privately-owned rooftop photovoltaic solar system at its Port Melbourne data centre called “M1”.

NEXTDC  will spend approximately $1.2 million to install up to 400kW of solar panels to generate around 550 MWh (megawatt hours) of electricity per annum. A system of this size will offset over 670 tonnes of CO2 per annum. This equates to taking around 200 cars off the road, or powering NABERS 4 star office space for over 890 people….

NEXTDC has already incorporated energy efficient measures into its new-build data centres such as trigeneration plant and outside free air-cooling. After successful deployment of the solar panels at M1, additional investments will be made at their other data centres around Australia.

“We are proud to be the first data centre operator in Australia to invest in solar energy,” Mr Slattery said. “In fact, we are also committing to install up to 1MW of solar energy within the next 12 months at our upcoming data centre facilities”….

March 19, 2012 Posted by | solar, Victoria | | Leave a comment