Australian news, and some related international items

ACF calls on Australian government to stop selling uranium for nuclear weapons

Chernobyl anniversary: Time for Australian government action on uranium, 28 April 12,  On the anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear accident the Australian Conservation Foundation has called on the federal government to improve nuclear safety and stop literally fuelling nuclear insecurity.

On 26 April 1986, a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl in the Ukraine melted down and spewed radioactive materials across Europe and beyond. The human, environmental and economic impacts of the accident were profound and continue.

“Chernobyl literally exploded the myth of the ‘peaceful atom’ and caused many nations to reconsider the risks and costs of nuclear power,” said ACF nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“On the anniversary of Chernobyl and in the continuing shadow of Fukushima it is important Australia also reviews and reconsiders the costs and consequences of our involvement in the global nuclear trade as a significant supplier of uranium – the basic fuel for both nuclear power and nuclear weapons.”

Last year it was confirmed in the federal Parliament that Australian uranium was in the failed Fukushima reactor and is now causing contamination in Japan.  However the federal government has failed to act on calls – including from the UN Secretary General – to review the industry.

ACF has called for the federal government to learn from Chernobyl and Fukushima and:

  • ·         Commission an independent assessment of the environmental and social impacts of uranium mining in Australia (as recommended in the UN review into the Fukushima crisis)
  • ·         Stop selling uranium to nuclear weapon states pending an independent review of importing countries’ compliance with international disarmament obligations
  • ·         Strengthen international and multi-lateral initiatives by including specific performance requirements and review mechanisms in new and existing Agreements and contracts

“Uranium is the asbestos of the 21st Century: like asbestos, the product works, but at too high a cost – and like asbestos Australia will one day stop mining and supplying it. In the meantime we need to step up to our responsibilities and review and address the impacts of the uranium trade. To fail to do so is to fail to learn from the lessons of Chernobyl and Fukushima and to fail to stop the next nuclear disaster,” Mr Sweeney said.

April 28, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Opposition to nuclear, uranium | | Leave a comment

South Australian Government grants lease to (weapons connected) Four Mile uranium mining project

Four Mile uranium mine gets lease Adelaide Now, by: Julian Swallow  April 27, 2012 ALLIANCE Resources and its joint venture partner Quasar Resources have been granted a 10-year mineral lease over their Four Mile project, ending months of negotiations. Mineral Resources minister Tom Koutsantonis said on Friday that South Australia was a step closer to its next major uranium mining development. However, no timetable or funding commitment has as yet been made by the venture partners, who remain locked in a legal dispute…… Continue reading

April 28, 2012 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

Four Mile uranium mines connection with nuclear weapons

Secretive Arms Tycoon Behind New Uranium Mine |The Media Freedom Foundation, 9 March 2010, JamesNeal Blue, who helped devise the Predator unmanned aircraft that are in use in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is the director of a company that bought the Four Mile uranium mine in Australia. Blue is the chairman of Quasar Resources, which is affiliated with General Atomics, a major United States weapons and nuclear energy corporation.

General Atomics reportedly holds $700 million in Pentagon contracts. The Four Mile mine is located next to the Beverly Uranium mine, with is owned by another affiliate of General Atomics. Environmental groups in Australia are worried about the environmental standards that the government has set for the mine, as there is not requirement for the company to ever clean up the radioactive trail that is expected to flow around the water supply. In his Forbes profile, it shows Blue’s primary job is as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Oceanic Exploration Company, but he is also listed as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for General Atomics as well as a couple other similar positions.

This story is relevant not only to people in Australia but also the U.S. and the world because this kind of connection seems to suggest that our government is still making nuclear weapons.Sources: “Secretive arms tycoon behind new uranium mine.” Ben Cubby, Sydney Morning Herald, July 16, 2009. Secretive Arms Tycoon Behind New Uranium Mine | The Media Freedom Foundation

April 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ERA to close Ranger uranium mine, in context of 90% share price fall

Doncha love the headline from this Sydney Morning Herald article about the uranium company Energy Resources of Australia?  Anyone would think that the company had wonderful prospects.   But read the lines (you don’t need to read between the lines) – and you see the true picture –  colossal share price loss, closure of the Ranger open pit mine, and a laughable future prospect for their plan for an underground uranium mine.

From a share price of $18.22 in May 2009, the stock lost more than 90 per cent of its value to be languishing at $1.15 earlier this year, with the company’s future being seriously questioned. 

Kakadu’s miner for all seasons SMH, Peter Ker April 28, 2012 After three decades as a major uranium producer in Australia’s top end, Atkinson’s company Energy Resources of Australia is about to fill in its massive open pit and return the landscape to something resembling the nearby Kakadu National Park.

In a reversal of the typical path taken by mining companies, ERA is about to go from producer to explorer, gambling its future on the viability of a deposit deep beneath its existing operations….

… ERA has spent the past 30 years digging uranium from a small province surrounded on all sides by Kakadu National Park. The company operates here at the grace of the indigenous community, which has long been reluctant to see any more of its land developed for mining. Continue reading

April 28, 2012 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Fukushima could become a global nuclear catastrophe

VIDEO Nuclear experts: Fukushima crisis may become ‘global catastrophe’   By Elliott Freeman Apr 27, 2012 A nuclear watchdog official told RT News that the ongoing crisis at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan could become a “global catastrophe”, echoing warnings from other experts.

 Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste watchdog with Beyond Nuclear , described the potential nightmare to “The Big Picture” host Thom Hartmann , stating that if the pools of nuclear fuel at the plant caught on fire, the area would become so radioactive that the entire containment operation would have to be permanently abandoned. Mitsuhei Murata, the former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland, also expressed grave concerns about what would happen if the damaged building that houses Reactor 4 collapsed. According to the Huffington Post , he explained to the Swiss House of Councilors last month that should such an event occur, it would adversely effect the thousands of spent nuclear fuel rods nearby, which are dangerously exposed to air.
 Nuclear expert Robert Alvarez, the former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, spelled out the potential disaster  in more specific — and chilling — terms in an email sent to renowned Japanese diplomat Akio Matsumura.
 “If an earthquake or other event were to cause the pool to drain, this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of [radioactive] Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl incident,” Alvarez stated.
 However, things could get much worse. According to Alvarez, if the 11,138 spent nuclear fuel rods contained in the facility also went up in flames, it would unleash 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl disaster.
 In addition, a recent study of the meltdown at Chernobyl offers a sobering analysis of the situation, ENS News reports. According to research compiled by Russian scientists and published in the New York Academy of Sciences, the nuclear fallout from the Chernobyl disaster killed over one million people worldwide  from 1986 to 2004. If the worst-case scenario at Fukushima becomes a reality, the effects could lead to millions of casualties around the globe.

April 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation helping Japan to study radiation

It’s interesting that ANSTO will be studying ‘naturally occurring radiation” and will be “supporting Japan  in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster “.   They don’t seem to be showing much interest in monitoring nuclear-power-caused radiation, and I can’t help wondering about that support for Japan.  Could it be support for the Japanese government and nuclear industry minimising the real impact of the Fukushima disaster?    After all, ANSTO’s main business is in keeping the door open for nuclear power in Australia.

Centre gauges radiation St George and Sutherland Shire Leader BY KATE CARR 27 Apr, 2012 AFTER months of searching for the perfect concrete and pre-World War II steel, ANSTO’s new $8.7 million radioactivity measurement centre officially opened on Tuesday. Federal Science and Research Minister Chris Evans helped ANSTO chief executive Adi Paterson cut the red ribbon and opened the centre, where scientists can accurately measure naturally occurring radiation…..
Dr Paterson said the centre would give ANSTO the tools to monitor the amount of radiation in the environment and undertake research which could support Japan in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that followed an earthquake and tsunami.

The new centre needed to be built using specialised materials so that it had such low background radiation that equipment could detect tiny amounts of radiation which might otherwise be drowned out. The centre also includes the only ITRAX core scanner in Australia, a piece of equipment used to measure the composition of sediment core samples taken by drilling.

April 28, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

Tepco to keep 16 workers on the job at Fukushima despite their excessive radiation levels

How’s this for injustice to workers?   An illustration of  three things: the heroism of Japan’s Fukushima “liquidators”,  the nuclear industry’s ruthless lack of concern for its workers, and the desperate situation of the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Workers with high radiation levels to stay at N-plant Jiji Press 28 April 12, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday that a total of 16 employees whose cumulative radiation doses have exceeded 100 millisieverts, a government-set limit, will continue to work at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. According to TEPCO, the 16 are engaged in equipment operation and radiation control and have advanced expertise and extensive experience at the nuclear plant crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami last year.

Following the accident at the plant, the health ministry raised the cumulative dose limit to 250 millisieverts for workers there. But this measure will expire at the end of April. The cumulative limits revert back to 50 millisieverts per year and 100 millisieverts over a five-year period.

As the 16 people are vital for containing the plant’s nuclear crisis, the company will keep them at work and take steps to reduce radiation levels at the quake-proof building used for its disaster response team, it said. With TEPCO taking such measures as covering some ceilings and floors with lead in the quake-resistant building, radiation levels there have fallen to 0.7 microsievert per hour from 1.6 microsieverts, according to the utility.

April 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s Defence minister ‘welcomes’ USA submarines, cagey about upgrades for nuclear submarine visits

Defence Minister evades nuclear sub questions In My Community, 27/Apr/2012 By Laura Tomlinson, Weekend Courier FEDERAL Defence Minister Stephen Smith used a visit to HMAS Stirling today to reiterate the Australian Government’s commitment to its relationship with the United States.

However, the minister would not be drawn on whether Garden Island’s infrastructure was in line for an upgrade to help host American appliances, including controversial nuclear submarines. Mr Smith and Brand MHR Gary Gray toured one of the US’s biggest submarines, the USS Michigan, which is currently docked at Garden Island, before Mr Smith conducted a media conference on the wharf. ….. Mr Smith told reporters of the Federal Government’s previously-announced commitment to building 12 new submarines.

Nuclear subs have been ruled out – because there is no local capability to construct or maintain them, but that doesn’t mean America’s nuclear fleet is unwelcome. Mr Smith said it was important that Australian defence assets were appropriately geographically distributed “for the challenges of the future”, and that American vessels could use Australian ports……

April 28, 2012 Posted by | weapons and war, Western Australia | Leave a comment