Australian news, and some related international items

Protest in Darwin – the beginning, not the end, of the fight against Muckaty nuclear waste dump

Even if the Federal Court dismisses the action from the traditional owners, the fight to stop the waste dump going ahead will not end

Darwin protest against Muckaty waste dump  9 News  Mar 20 2012  Federal government plans to build a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory amount to “radioactive racism” and ignore the wishes of indigenous people, a protest has been told. Continue reading

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Northern Territory, Opposition to nuclear | | Leave a comment

BHP, Rio Xstrata – no pain from Australia’s Mineral resources Rent Tax (and uranium is exempt)

Resources tax: what you may not know … SMH, Ian Verrender, March 20, 2012 Despite all the hullabaloo, all the hand-wringing and the wailing from various sections of the mining industry, the passage of the Mineral Resources Rent Tax overnight confirms Australia as one of the world’s most benign destinations for miners.

That’s right. When it comes to taxing resource companies, Australia is a soft touch, a virtual tax haven. Not that you will read that anywhere else. More than likely you will continue to be beaten about the head with dire predictions of
impending doom and threats of mass defections from our big mining houses……

almost every country with a resource base, rich and poor, has begun tightening the screws after witnessing in the past decade one of the greatest wealth transfers in history – away from the citizens who owned the minerals and towards the companies exploiting those resources.

It is a global trend that will make it increasingly tougher for the big resource houses to maintain their earnings growth, Continue reading

March 20, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Globally, the nuclear industry is on the run: it is incompatible with democracy

 The end of the nuclear illusion,   The Daily Star, Praful Bidwai, 20 March 12,  “…….Nuclear power is now on the run globally. The number of reactors operating worldwide has fallen from the historic peak of 444 (2002) to 429. Their share in global electricity supply has shrunk from 17% to 13%. And it’s likely to fall further as some 180-plus 30 years-old or older reactors are retired. Just about 60 new ones are planned.

Post-Fukushima, nobody will build reactors without big subsidies or high state-guaranteed returns –or unless they are China or India. China’s rulers don’t have to bother about democracy, public opinion or safety standards.

Nor are India’s rulers moved by these. They are desperate to award the reactor contracts promised to the US, France and Russia for lobbying for the US-India nuclear deal in the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Dr. Manmohan Singh has even stooped to maligning Indian anti-nuclear protesters as foreign-funded, as if they had no minds of their own, and as if the government’s priority wasn’t to import reactors.

Nuclear power is bound up with secrecy, deception and opacity, which clash with democracy. It evokes fear and loathing and can only be promoted by force while violating civil liberties.

A recent BBC-GlobeScan poll shows that 69% of people in 23 countries oppose building new reactors, including 90% in Germany, 84% in Japan, 80% in Russia and 83% in France. This proportion has sharply risen since 2005. Only 22% of people in the 12 countries which operate nuclear plants favour building new ones.

The world has witnessed five core meltdowns in 15,000 reactor-years. At this rate, we can expect one core meltdown every eight years in the world’s 400-odd reactors. This is simply unacceptable. Yet, the nuclear industry behaves as if this couldn’t happen. It has a collusive relationship with regulators, Continue reading

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Malaysian anger at government’s secretive approval of Lynas’ rare earths plant

Protesters criticize the Malaysian government’s quick and quiet approval of the plant and the absence of public consultation or a waste management plan. Many also argue that the history of past plants is an indicator of Lynas’ future. Similar plants and radioactive waste dumps have been closed in Papan, in western Malaysia, and Baotou, China, due to pollution of river water used for farming and links to lung cancers in workers.

Thirty years ago, Mitsubishi operated a refinery in the nearby city of Ipoh. “Like Lynas, (the refinery) had no long-term waste management plan, and ad hoc arrangements eventually led to a situation of indiscriminate, clandestine dumping of radioactive thorium-containing wastes in and around Ipoh city

Fearing radiation, Malaysians oppose Australian waste plant , By Heather Farr,   UPI ,19 March 12,  “……Protesters say they fear that radiation from the plant could be linked to a number of health concerns and argue that’s why the corporation chose to build outside of Australia. Continue reading

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The environmental and illness toll of rare earths processing

China’s rare earths refineries…… have poisoned rivers with acid and piled up radioactive waste — an environmental cost that aroused little controversy in developed, consuming nations

Malaysian protesters blame an earlier rare earths plant, shut by Japan’s Mitsubishi Chemicals in 1992, for birth defects and a high number of leukemia cases……

Environmental campaigners point to studies done in both New Jersey and China showing that thorium radiation emitted during the refining process and by plant waste can cause cancer, leukemia, birth defects and chronic lung diseases.

Pollution the big barrier to freer trade in rare earths Al Arabiya News,, 19 March 2012 Environmental campaigners point to studies done in both New Jersey and China showing that thorium radiation emitted during the refining process and by plant waste can cause cancer, leukemia, birth defects and chronic lung diseases.

Tackling pollution, not freeing up trade, is regarded as the solution to a global shortage of rare earths, the metals that are the building blocks of the 21st century. Continue reading

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Movement of Fukushima radiation across Pacific Ocean shown in maps

Maps show movement of radiation, and of debris  across Pacific Fukushima radiation moving in seawater across Pacific Ocean, according to consulting company,  By Charlie Smith, March 18, 2012 Oceanic radiation from last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster is approaching northern Hawaii, according to the latest tracking by ASR Limited .

The coastal-management consulting company has created a map that follows the movement of radiation in seawater since the Japanese earthquake on March 11, 2011. ASR Limited suggests radiation is crossing the Pacific Ocean.

Last April, Japanese officials claimed  that they had halted the release of radioactive radiation from the crippled nuclear reactors at Fukushima.

On December 5, however, the Los Angeles Times revealed  that “45 tons of highly radioactive water” had been released from the plant on the previous weekend.

Greenpeace has also reported  finding highly radioactive sea life off the Japanese coast. Meanwhile, ASR Limited has also released a map showing how far the floating island of Japanese debris has travelled since last year’s earthquake.

It’s expected to reach the British Columbia Coast in 2013. A huge amount of debris is headed toward British Columbia.

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s cancer toll will come years later: workers are at particular risk

 One group particularly at risk of health harm is the large and growing number of workers required to help control, shut down and clean up the damaged nuclear plants.

 On average, the contracted day labourers receive two- to three-times the radiation dose of a regular worker but are not included in utility statistics. And there is no compulsory, centralised system for tracking cumulative radiation exposure or health outcomes of these workers.

Fukushima radiation toll will continue for generations Despite claims that Japan’s Fukushima meltdown caused no deaths, in fact the true health costs of Fukushima’s radiation leaks won’t be known for decades. Independent Australia 18 March 12,  Professor Tilman Ruff reports. A year can be a long time in politics. But for the radioactive particles released from Fukushima’s damaged nuclear reactor, a year is just a moment in their life of hundreds or thousands of years.

So, what is the radiological situation at Fukushima one year after the disaster?  the extensively damaged plants are still unstable and highly radioactive. This has restricted access and clean-up efforts, which will need to go on for many decades.

Though Japanese authorities declared they’d achieved a “cold shutdown” in December, an arbitrary definition was used: coolant water temperature was less than boiling, pressure inside the reactors was not raised, and the release of radioactive materials from the first layer of containment was below a specified level. But it didn’t mean the nuclear reaction inside the reactors had been stably shut down…. Continue reading

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment