Australian news, and some related international items

Labor Member of Parliament joins Northern Territory protest against nuclear waste dump plan

March marks five years of nuclear waste push Allyson Horn, May 25, 2012   A protest has marked the fifth anniversary of the proposal to build a nuclear waste facility at Muckaty Station.    More than a hundred people have taken part in a protest against a
proposed nuclear waste facility in the Northern Territory.

Muckaty Station, about 130 kilometres north, of Tennant Creek is the site being considered for Australia’s first nuclear waste dump. Protesters marched along Tennant Creek’s main street, chanting “no dump at Muckaty, don’t waste the Territory”.

It has been five years since the site at Muckaty was first nominated for the facility but protesters say some of traditional owners of the land still have not been consulted about it.

Local MLA Gerry McCarthy stood alongside protesters and reaffirmed his commitment to fight against the dump. He says he would take part in a blockade to stop construction of the facility, if it comes to that. 

Diane Numbin Stokes is a traditional owner from Tennant Creek and a custodian of the land area that includes Muckaty station. She says the land being set aside for the nuclear waste dump is an Aboriginal men’s site, but this does not mean the women can’t voice their concerns. “We don’t want the waste to come to that land,” she said.

A Federal Court challenge against the nomination of the site is yet to be settled.

May 25, 2012 Posted by | Northern Territory, Opposition to nuclear | | Leave a comment

Russia’s anti nuclear movement battling to close aging reactors, and stop new ones

On Murmansk Oblast’s Kola peninsula, however, nuclear backers face one of the strongest environmental organizations in Russia. For more than 10 years, Vitaly Servetnik and other activists at Priroda i molodezh (Nature and Youth) have battled attempts to build new reactors and extend the life of existing ones at the Kola nuclear plant, carrying out more than 100 protest campaigns

Servetnik accuses the authorities of using the Interior Ministry’s anti-terror police, known as Center E, to spy on his small group based in Murmansk.

ecologists persuaded authorities in Volgodonsk, southern Russia, to hold round table talks on the planned power increase of one reactor at the Rostov nuclear plant. In the Kaliningrad exclave, opposition is mounting to the planned 2016 launch of a new reactor at the Baltic plant. 

Nuclear-Strength Kola TOL Special Report: In Russia’s northwest, a scrappy bunch of young environmentalists faces off against a powerfulnuclear lobby. By Alexander Tretyakov  reporter for SOTV, a publicly funded Internet television channel in Moscow.24 May 2012  . MOSCOW | Murmansk Oblast in northern Russia has one of the highest concentrations of nuclear energy on earth. Nuclear submarines and icebreakers of the Russian Northern Fleet sail the White and Barents seas, and the Kola nuclear power plant is still going strong nearly 40 years after its first reactor hummed into life.

Russia’s nuclear industry is due for a massive expansion under a government plan to increase nuclear’s share in national power
production. Russia has shown no sign of wavering on nuclear power in the wake of last year’s Fukushima disaster, Continue reading

May 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Western Australian govt will not allow uranium to be shipped from W.A. ports

WA has no plans to change stance on uranium  , Business Spectator, 25 May 12 The Liberal-Nationals government of West Australia has no plans to ship yellowcake uranium to overseas markets due to a lack of suitable ports, “because they are either surrounded by residential areas or do not have container facilities”, according to a report by Federal Labor MP Melissa Parke said that the WA government’s decision recognised “that the people of Western Australia are strongly against the mining and movement of uranium”……….,

May 25, 2012 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Queensland govt axes solar farm project

Queensland Government Bails On Solar Farm Project by Energy Matters, 25 May 12 The Queensland Government has withdrawn funding for Cloncurry Solar arm as part of a cost cutting campaign that may see other solar elated casualties. Continue reading

May 25, 2012 Posted by | Queensland, solar | | Leave a comment

South Australian government worried: Olympic Dam uranium expansion a non starter?

Premier queries BHP Billiton’s concerns over Olympic Dam decision  by: MICHAEL OWEN . THe Australian May 25, 2012 
SOUTH Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has claimed “artificial” reasons are being used by BHP Billiton to consider delaying a decision on its $20 billion Olympic Dam mine expansion in the state’s far north.

Securing approval by the BHP board for the mega-mineral project is crucial for the credibility of the Labor government….

May 25, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Renewable energy in Australia threatening the profits of fossil fuel industries

Electricity industry is in for a big shock  by: Giles Parkinson  The Australian  May 25, 2012   Data from the European electricity market shows how 25GW of solar PV has changed the nature of the German electricity market. The data compares how the market looked in 2008, against how it looked on a sunny day on March 12 this year.

“……..It is just a snapshot, but it is being repeated often enough that generators in Germany, Italy and elsewhere in Europe are calling for the rollout of solar to be capped to protect their earnings.
Several gas-fired plants in Germany have either been closed or marked for closure, and the largest electricity companies, E.ON and RWE, have made it clear they cannot keep these plants open, and are refusing to build new ones, without further help. So the German government has come up with a new mechanism called “capacity factors”. The details are yet to be worked out, but essentially it represents a payment to ensure that the gas-fired plants are available to balance the growing number of solar PV and offshore and onshore wind plants in the German grid, and to provide capacity as nuclear and then coal-fired power stations are removed.
It would seem inevitable that Australia will have to follow the same path. The brown coal generators are already feeling the pinch from lower wholesale prices of electricity caused by moderating demand and by the large wind capacity in South Australia. They have succeeded once in persuading the Victorian government to reduce the ambitions of its state-based renewable energy target, and are now seeking to do so again at the federal level. Already, the federal government has provided two payment mechanisms for the closure for some of the most polluting plants, and compensation to ensure that others stay open despite the impact of the carbon price (which ostensibly is designed to force their closure).
The government also has an energy security mechanism that can provide emergency financing to any generators finding themselves in trouble. Capacity payments, incentives to ensure that “peaking” generators that are flexible enough to provide energy when a coal-fired generator is offline, renewables are not functioning, or in times of peak demand, may well become part of the landscape…..

May 25, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Sales of uranium to India not yet government policy? no date set for negotiations

Division delays sales of uranium to India by: David Crowe and Mark Dodd   The Australian May 25, 2012  LABOR’S landmark policy change to allow uranium sales to India is yet to be put into effect amid divisions within the government over whether to proceed with a deal seen as crucial to the relationship between the two countries.

Talks on a bilateral deal are yet to begin despite assurances last year that negotiations would be under way by now and assumptions in India that talks had already begun.

Julia Gillard overcame objections from some of her cabinet colleagues to secure the policy shift at the ALP conference last December, drawing praise from India for strengthening the two nations’ strategic partnership.

But ministers are still considering whether to adopt the party platform as government policy and there is no date set for the formal negotiations to begin.

The delays come as Canberra also decides on Western Australia’s first uranium mine in the face of calls from the Greens for tougher safeguards on the Toro Energy project despite its approval by the state’s environmental regulator……
“Australia and India are not currently negotiating a civil nuclear co-operation (‘safeguards’) agreement,” a department official told The Australian.  “Before exports could take place, a civil nuclear co-operation agreement would need to be concluded to cover supply of Australian uranium to India.”…..

May 25, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s challenge to take part in the renewable energy revolution

there are all kinds of businesses associated with these industries, and we can do that well in Australia and we can certainly demonstrate how to make our cities work better with them, which requires this integration of smart grids and all kinds of storage systems and so on that are emerging.

RENEWABLES INVESTMENT ECLIPSES FOSSIL FUELS  Radio National, The Science Show, download audio       19May  Investment in renewable energy infrastructure is outstripping that for fossil fuels. Investment was equal in 2008, but the balance has swung since. During 2011, globally, $40 billion was invested in fossil fuels. $260 billion was invested in renewables.  In the past year the price of photovoltaic cells has dropped by 50%.

Peter Newman describes the growth of investment in renewable as exponential. He says we are living through one of the most dramatic periods in history as fossil fuels are being phased out. Continue reading

May 25, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment