Australian news, and some related international items

Wrap up of the week’s Australian nuclear news

Olympic Dam uranium mine expansion.  Justice Besanko will hand down his ruling this Friday 20th April on legal challenge against Federal Environment Minister’s approval for this.  Meanwhile, also on 20th April, a Supreme Court first directions hearing of challenge against the South Australian govt’s approval.

Radiation incident, NSW:   New South Wales Pacific Highway road workers’ mysterious illness. Affected by DDT or radiation from a 1980 radioactive transport spill? Inquiry to be held.

Northern Territory govt to allow uranium exploration in water catchment area for planned new dam.

Carbon tax compensation to start in May.    Clean Energy Finance Corporation ready to go, and Tony Abbott, no matter how much twisting and turning he does, won’t be able to stop it. Review by expert panel gives the CEFC a good rap.

Federal Politics.  Australian Greens.  Sudden and gracious resignation of Greens leader Bob Brown. Christine Milne takes over, with a plan for working with rural and regional Australia for sustainable energy.  Council of Australian Governments being pressured by BHP and others, especially the South Australian Government, to remove Federal Government environmental jurisdiction over projects.  (E.g – it would be so much nicer for Olympic Dam expansion to not have to worry about what the rest of Australia thinks about its water use, or radioactive dust clouds).

Western Australia’s big solar farm due to be operational within months.

Uranium miners ERA and Paladin put on a bold face, but their debts and share price decline tells a different story.  Ranger uranium mine may well close down.

April 19, 2012 Posted by | Christina reviews | 1 Comment

Olympic Dam uranium mine expansion challenge in South Australia’s Supreme Court


The first directions hearing is listed for  tomorrow April 20,  at 9.15am before Justice Gray in the Supreme Court.



Justice Besanko will hand down his ruling this Friday 20th April 2.15pm.

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

The New South Wales Pacific Highway’s ‘toxic ditch’

Ben Colton said his uncle Robert Deards was one of the initial police officers called to the crash and handled the drums, which “made him sick to the point he nearly died”. Mr Colton said his uncle and another officer spent 14 hours at the scene – and were later told to go for a swim to wash off any radioactive particles – but their complaints and recognition of their exposure fell on deaf ears.

CAESIUM-137 A radioactive isotope formed as a by-product of nuclear fission usually involving uranium. It has a half-life of 30 years. It remains the main health risk and source of radiation around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Short term high-level exposure can produce nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, head aches and blisters, which can return
up to weeks later in the body. It is also blamed for birth defects.

Lethal, toxic truth buried in a highway ditch Herald Sun, By Richard Noone and Neil Keene From: The Daily Telegraph April 19, 2012 WHY radioactive materials, a banned pesticide and food were on the same truck that crashed on the New South Wales Pacific Highway in 1980 is a mystery….. An ANSTO spokesman said the drums – one 60 litres and another smaller one – carrying the nuclear material were undamaged in the crash and later taken with the undamaged food to Brisbane. The rest, including the DDT, was believed to have been buried.

Despite full knowledge of its location the then RTA proceeded with the $60 million upgrade, awarded to BMD Constructions, in March last year without removing it first. Continue reading

April 19, 2012 Posted by | history, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Road workers recovered, mystery of 1980 toxic spill remains

[ on December 4, 1980] The first two police officers on the scene were senior constables Robert Deards and Terry Clifton, who remained there for 12 hours, handling two drums of radioactive material, and handling burst bags containing DDT.

Mystery illness recalls 1980 toxic spill, SMH, Ben Cubby, Nick Ralston, April 19, 2012 FIVE road workers have recovered after exposure to a mystery toxic chemical they unearthed while building a new section of the Pacific Highway near Port Macquarie. The workers were struck by nausea, vomiting and sore throats after excavations uncovered a patch of greyish clay that became streaked with orange after it was exposed to the air.

The site, between Herons Creek and Stills Road near the town of Laurieton, is notorious as the location of one of Australia’s most controversial spills of toxic chemicals and radioactive material. In 1980 a truck rolled over while carrying several tonnes of the insecticide DDT, two drums of radioactive material and some other chemicals. Some of the DDT was apparently buried on site. It sparked a chain of events that saw allegations of a ”massive cover-up” by a local doctor who claimed 13 people involved in the clean-up fell ill, and a parliamentary investigation.

Although the affected workers were exposed nearly three weeks ago and have since returned to work, the cause of the illness remains unknown and a 50-metre exclusion zone has been imposed around the construction site, NSW Roads and Maritime Services said. The Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, said there was no sign of radioactivity, though further tests would be undertaken. Continue reading

April 19, 2012 Posted by | history, New South Wales | 1 Comment

ANSTO says not involved in 1981 truck’s toxic spill. Inquiry to be held

Nuclear agency distances itself from toxic scare ABC News,  April 18, 2012  Australia’s peak nuclear agency says toxic material that has halted upgrade work of the Pacific Highway in New South Wales did not originate at its Lucas Heights facility……  a statement from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), says a review of records shows its predecessor, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC), was not concerned with any aspect of the truck accident….

It went on to say that a report from April 1981 stated that “the sources were not the property of the AAEC nor were they being consigned to or from the AAEC”. “They were the property of a geophysical company and do not appear to have suffered any harm.” ANSTO says it has received advice from the Environmental Protection Agency that there is no indication of radioactive drums or canisters being located at the site……A federal parliamentary report into
hazardous materials in 1982 included details of the crash which Mr Higgins says is being checked in light of the sick workers…..

Minister calls for highway inquiry April 19, 2012  NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay says an independent inquiry will investigate how five road workers came to be exposed to potentially toxic material buried on the state’s mid-north coast. Continue reading

April 19, 2012 Posted by | New South Wales, safety | Leave a comment

Australian Greens leader connecting with farming communities on sustainable energy

Greens leader kicks off regional tour, Kallee Buchanan ABC News April 18, 2012   The new Greens Leader says she is starting her regional tour in the central west because it offers a diverse range of views on renewable energy and agricultural issues. Christine Milne is touring rural areas to try and improve the party’s relationship with farmers.

Her first stop will be Orange, where she will meet orchardists, graziers and environmental groups……. Ms Milne says she will use her visit to Orange to encourage farmers to support renewable energy projects. Senator Milne says opposition to renewables like wind power often comes from regional communities putting up with the impacts, without getting the benefits.

“I’m keen to talk to local government about pre-planning in terms of renewable energy facilities and making sure that farmers can actually get a financial benefit and if you actually involve the community in achieving a financial benefit you find that there is a lot more openness of course because people weigh up what level of income they can get.”

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

Nuclear power’s 3 Titanics- Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima – and they still push it as ‘safe’

Nuclear power plants and the process of atomic fission in them are inherently dangerous—at a scale of technological disaster that is unparalleled.

now there are numerous and truly safe, clean energy technologies available that render nuclear power totally unnecessary. Thus, we can avoid sinking with the atomic Titanics which the nuclear power promoters insist we board.

Nuclear Titanics – The Perils of Technological Hubris, Counter Punch,  by KARL GROSSMAN 16 April 12,  On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, The Japan Times yesterday ran an editorial titled “The Titanic and the Nuclear Fiasco” which stated: “Presenting technology as completely safe, trustworthy or miraculous may seem to be a thingof the past, but the parallels between the Titanic and Japan’s nuclear power industry could not be clearer.”

“Japan’s nuclear power plants were, like the Titanic, advertised as marvels of modern science that were completely safe. Certain technologies, whether they promise to float a luxury liner or provide clean energy, can never be made entirely safe,” it said…
the same kind of baloney behind the claim that the Titanic was unsinkable is behind the puffery that nuclear power plants are safe. The nuclear power promoters are still saying that despite the sinking of atomic Titanics: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and now the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants.

In fact, underneath the PR offensive are government documents admitting that nuclear power plants are deadly dangerous. The first analysis of the consequences of a nuclear plant accident was done in 1957 by Brookhaven National Laboratory, Continue reading

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

Don’t worry: radiation’s OK: nuclear is cleaner than wind or solar energy – says uranium industry’s Michael Angwin

Facts ‘needed to end radiation fear’,  Herald Sun April 19, 2012 AUSTRALIANS would fear radiation less if they better understood the science behind it, a uranium advocacy group says.

A misinformed fear of radiation, from disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima, drives public perception about uranium, the Australian Uranium Association (AUA) says…

.. AUA CEO Michael Angwin says radiation is a safe natural phenomena that need not be feared…… “You do see people who will become physically ill due to just the fear of the unknown.” He said he saw people sick with worry in Japan last year following the major earthquake and feared radioactive disaster at the Fukushima
nuclear plant….
Mr Angwin said while Fukushima had been a set-back for the image of uranium it remained a clean-energy option for the future. “Emissions from nuclear energy are very low, about the same as wind and in many cases less than a number of the solar technologies,” “For the same amount of electricity produced, the emissions from the nuclear industry are very low.”….

April 19, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, marketing for nuclear | 3 Comments

Expert panel reviews the Clean Energy Finance Corporation

the panel has recognised the significance and the potential for new technologies to transform Australia’s energy system and ensure it remains competitive with other countries.

Now, however, just watch the Opposition attack it, along with the usual suspects among the established energy generators and emitters. The key themes of this report – investment for long-term gains over short term costs, the “external” benefits which are overlooked by banks and statutory authorities, and the issue of future competitiveness – will no doubt be lost in the shouting.

Ten things you should know about the CEFC REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson  17 April 2012 The long-awaited “experts review” into the proposed $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation has been delivered to – and accepted by – the federal government.

The CEFC is seen as one of the most critical elements of the Clean Energy Future package by large parts of the clean energy industry, particularly those trying to introduce new technologies. It will certainly be one of the political hot potatoes going into the next election. The federal Government says it intends to introduce legislation into the Budget sittings of parliament which begin in May. The Opposition calls it a “slush fund.”

Here are some highlights from review by the team led by Reserve Bankboard member Jillian Broadbent, and supported by funds manager David Paradice and former banker Ian Moore. Continue reading

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

India fires its new ‘China Killer’ nuclear -capable missile

India fires nuclear-capable ICBM Agni-5 Deccan Herald, Bhubaneswar, April 19, 2012,   India on Thursday conducted the maiden test of its indigenously developed nuclear capable Agni V ballistic missile with a strike rangeof over 5,000 km, from the Wheeler Island off Odisha coast.
The three-stage solid propellant missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from the launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at about 8.05 a.m., defence sources said……..

India to test ‘China Killer’ missileSMH, Ben Doherty, April 18, 2012 INDIA could test fire its most powerful nuclear-capable missile yet as early as today, a 50-tonne, 20-metre rocket that has the potential to reach all of Asia and large parts of Europe.

The Agni V – named for the Hindu god of fire, but given the incendiary appellation ”the China Killer” by the more sensationalist of the local press – has a range of more than 5000 kilometres, and has beenslated for a 1000-second test flight some time between today and Friday…… Continue reading

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