Australian news, and some related international items

EPA recommendation on uranium mine a dangerous new low – Australian Greens

“Toro has not revealed estimates of future mine closure liability and has not submitted a final rehabilitation plan. This is remarkable given the company intends for post-closure liability to pass to Australian taxpayers only 10 years after mining ceases, though the consequences of the mine will endure for many centuries. This project should not proceed until there is a full public inquiry as provided for under the Act into the wider environmental and public health consequences of uranium mining in WA.”

May 21st, 2012 The Environmental Protection Agency should change its name after today’s appalling recommendation to approve Western Australia’s first uranium mine at Wiluna, WA Greens said today.

Greens national spokesperson on nuclear policy Senator Scott Ludlam said “The proposal by Toro Energy is full of gaping holes. If the EPA is prepared to back this half-baked, messy scheme – it sets a dangerous low standard for uranium mining in Western Australia”.

“The EPA recommends that the Minister ‘notes the EPA has concluded that it is likely that the EPA’s objectives  would be achieved’. Well if this shoddy plan is all it takes to achieve the EPA’s objectives, then its objectives need to be reformed urgently in the interest of public health and safety.”

In his submission to the EPA, Senator Ludlam had identified a several alarming flaws in company’s impact assessment of the proposed mine. Continue reading

May 21, 2012 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Musicians in the struggle for Aboriginals’ justice against Australia’s nuclear industry

The band also show their passionate connections to country in the song “Story”, whose deep story belies its brief lyrics. “Behind the lyrics lie one of the darkest stories of modern Australian history,” says Basil. “The dispossession of desert people by our country’s involvement in the atomic bomb-making industry.

“In the ’50s and ’60s, two groups of desert people living thousands and thousands of kilometres apart were taken out of their homelands. The song’s lyrics name those places. “In the north, Pintubi people were taken to Papunya. Blue-streak rockets fired from Woomera landed on their country. “In the south, Maralinga pe

Anti-nuclear brothers are radio activists, Green Left , May 21, 2012,By Mat Ward Nuclear Kop The Super Raelene Brothers

Anti-nuclear activist band The Super Raelene Brothers first made it into the pages of Green Left Weekly in 1995. But the duo, who have just dropped their latest atomic-bomb-atomising EP, Nuclear Kop, were making m usic way before then….. We create songs that celebrate what we see and where we are. We also build songs that voice concern about what is happening or not happening in our local community.”

Those concerns have led them to release songs such as “‘Wiya Angela-Pamela”, which went to number 1 on Triple J’s Unearthed charts in 2010, and a cover of Redgum’s 1980 classic “Nuclear Cop” ― both available as free downloads on their website . Continue reading

May 21, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Despite what nuclear lobby researchers say, low dose radiation IS bad for you

Low dose ionising radiation IS harmful to health Independent Australia, Noel Wauchope, 21 May 12, A landmark study on Hiroshima survivors comprehensively disproves nuclear lobby spin about ionising radiation being safe at low doses.  This week, a new report about low dose ionising radiation was published — one that should put a spanner in the works of the nuclear lobby. It is called ‘Studies of the Mortality of Atomic Bomb Survivors, Report 14, 1950–2003: An Overview of Cancer and Noncancer Diseases’.

First of all, let me explain why this report is so important and so timely.

It’s now just over a year since the tragic Fukushima disaster. So the nuclear lobby thinks that it’s time to restart the nuclear renaissance, and to get people to stop worrying about ionising radiation.

To this end, the industry, and particularly the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have projects under way.

In particular, there are two important projects going on seemingly unrelated ones. But they are, as a matter of fact, closely related.  Both aim to dampen the public concern about ionising radiation — indeed, to promote acceptance of “low level radiation”:

One sets out to downgrade nuclear emergency procedures. The other aims at discrediting the scientifically accepted model on the cancer risk of low level radiation — known as the Linear No Threshold model (LNT), which states that there is no level below which ionising radiation is not harmful, with risk increasing with each added unit of radiation……..

Project 2 – discrediting the radiation risk model

The U.S. Department of energy funds research projects worldwide that promote the theories of “radiation hormesis” and “adaptive radiation”.

Radiation hormesis holds that, at a low level, radiation is not only harmless, but actually good for human health.

Adaptive radiation holds that people exposed to low level radiation, over time, become resistant to its cancer-causing effects.

It’s easy to see how well this fits in with a relaxing of the rules for safety around nuclear facilities, and a public complacency about the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island…… Continue reading

May 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

India’s democracy in peril

Should India’s troubled democracy give way to an authoritarian, and more militaristic regime –  should Australia be send ing India uranium, the fuel for its nuclear weapons?   Christina Macpherson

Australia’s next big problem: India’s democracy,  SMH, May 21, 2012  Here’s a nasty thought: the big threat to Australia’s commodities-underwritten prosperity extending out to 2030 and beyond is India’s democracy. Much worse though is the threat that irresponsible democracy poses to India itself.

Present crises aside, Australia’s is supposed to live happily ever after thanks to India picking up the commodities demand slack as the Chinese economy matures, thus extending our resources boom for another decade or

India barely has manufacturing industry thanks to a conspiracy of poisonous protectionism, stifling bureaucracy and
endemic corruption, never mind the gross waste of resources that is the caste system……

.Should the day arrive when one brand or another of authoritarianism – nationalistic, religious or military – is able to seize control through gross government failure, lack of demand for Australian coking coal could be the least of the region’s concerns.

May 21, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics international | Leave a comment

Success of solar power is giving a shock to Australia’s utilities

Fear and loathing as utilities grasp impact of solar PV, REneweconomy By Giles Parkinson   21 May 2012 Australia’s power generators and electricity network operators are viewing the rapid falls in the cost of solar PV and an anticipated surge in installation with an increasing level of concern.

The potential of solar PV to deliver cost-effective options for home and commercial consumers has been apparent to many in the industry for some time.

The report delivered by the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission into solar feed-in tariffs merely confirmed this, and offered it as a potential excuse for the utilities’ apparently lack of enthusiasm to ensure connections for solar PV and other forms of distributed energy.

While plunging costs are good news for consumers, who can turn to solar PV in increasing numbers with the emergence of innovative financing solutions, it is a massive headache for the incumbent generators and network operators, who are about to witness business models built up over decades being shredded by a technology that is as disruptive to the electricity industry as mobile phones were to telecoms…..

Australia has just over 1.5GW of solar PV installed on rooftops now – so there is little apparent impact on the NEM as it stands. By 2020, when the percentage of households with solar PV is expected to treble from around 7 per cent now to 19-20 per cent, the impact is significant.

By 2030 and 2035, it takes a large slice out of the generators’ earnings pie – an impact that has already been established in Germany, which has 25GW of solar PV and counting, and which we documented in our piece “Why generators are terrified of solar.”

It should be remembered that the profit projections – and the debt repayments – built into the Australian generators’ financing models depend almost entirely on the “super dividend” they receive when peak demand surges and the cost of wholesale electricity rises up to 10-fold for just a few hours of the year. A large deployment of solar PV will quite literally throw a spanner in those works……

May 21, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Time for a rethink on NATO’s militarism

New thinking is needed on Nato,  Rae Street  20 May 2012  As Nato meets in Chicago , it is high time our politicians started to take a hard look at the organisation. They need to stop kowtowing to a US agenda of global military dominance through Nato and realise that Nato is not bringing peace and security, but dangerous instability. Seumas Milne (Comment, 16 May) outlined the dangers from wars of intervention; Malalai Joya described the suffering brought to Afghanistan by the occupying forces (Our Chicago resistance, 17 May).

But the dangers are even wider. Nato continues to assert it needsnuclear weapons for defence and still holds a policy of first use of nuclear weapons. At the Lisbon summit Nato leaders reaffirmed their addiction to nuclear weapons, ignoring the nuclear non-proliferation treaty which states that nuclear weapon states should disarm “in good faith”.

Trident is integrated into Nato and there are five nuclear-armed Nato bases in Europe from Belgium to Turkey. Nato is building its missile-defence programme in European bases – aimed at Russia? Outside Europe, Nato is expanding its influence from the Mediterranean to the Pacific.

Nato brings with it enormous cost. Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex is alive and profiting. Since all Nato military forces have to have interoperability, they are constrained to buy the same fighter planes, mainly from Lockheed Martin . In times of austerity the military manufacturers flourish while, in Nato states, people are being hit by savage cuts in welfare services.

Can we hope that new thinking will come out of the Nato summit?

May 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Revolutionary new Australian project studies runaway climate change

Australian Project Simulates Runaway Climate Change Climate Central : May 19th, 2012 By Oliver Milman, The Guardian  An Australian university has embarked upon an ambitious project — hailed as the first of its kind in the world — to simulate how the environment would cope with runaway climate change.

The decade-long study, at the University of Western Sydney’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment , will subject Australian bushland to heightened CO2 levels and altered rainfall patterns consistent with a “business as usual” global increase in greenhouse gases. Continue reading

May 21, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | | 1 Comment

Australasia Has Hottest 60 Years in a Millennium May 20th, 2012 By Alison Rourke, The Guardian  The last 60 years have been the hottest in Australasia  for a millennium and cannot be explained by natural causes, according to a new report  by scientists that supports the case for a reduction in man made carbon emissions. Continue reading

May 21, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s Clean Energy Finance money is going to dirty gas, rather than renewables

Gas is not a new, emerging technology worthy of support. Gas power would keep Australia on a very high path of emissions compared with world averages.

It would take the building of a few initial solar thermal plants to bring its building costs down to a reasonable, commercially viable level.

But the CEFC is clearly not aiming at that result…. 

The conclusion is that the CEFC will probably do nothing to break the grip of the fossil fuel industry “greenhouse mafia” on Australia’s politics and energy supply.

First, because it has so much potential for supporting “clean” gas, not really clean renewable energy.

Clean energy finance, or gas industry handouts?, May 19, 2012 By Ben Courtice A concentrated solar thermal power plant. The CEFC will probably do nothing to break the grip of the fossil fuel industry “greenhouse mafia” on Australia’s politics and energy supply. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is being set up under the Clean Energy Future legislation (the carbon price package). It will provide $10 billion to support renewable and low-emissions energy.

That’s the message that most climate-concerned people have been hearing from the Labor government and the Greens.

Unfortunately, it now seems overly optimistic. The recently completed CEFC expert review  shows it may give most of its support to gas projects. Continue reading

May 21, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment