Australian news, and some related international items

Grassroots movement to make Australia’s politicians aware of renewable energy

building this kind of grassroots capacity is central to ensuring that the people’s overwhelming desire for big solar and renewables is heard and acted on in the nation’s parliament.  

Abbott set to catch last wave on clean energy, By Andrew Bray on 8 June 2012 Last week, as the drama of the Craig Thompson affair continued to unfold, our national parliament was reduced to a circus of politicians sprinting around the chamber, and the press gallery struggled to digest each new stunt-filled moment, the 100% Renewable campaign took 30 community representatives to Canberra to talk to our leaders about an issue the public actually cares about – building big solar plants in the sunniest country on earth.

Last Monday, constituents sat down with their local MPs, as well as senior ministers and ministerial advisors, and talked about the widespread support for big solar we found in our big solar poll conducted earlier this year and outlined in the poll report,   12,000 Voices: Australia’s vision for big solarContinue reading

June 8, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

The future for outback mining energy is in renewables, not nuclear

Green group rejects outback nuclear push June 08, 2012   The Australian Conservation Foundation has rejected outright that nuclear power would be a better alternative for parts of South Australia’s outback.

An environmental scientist from the University of Adelaide has this week predicted some outback mines could be nuclear-powered within 20 years. The statement has prompted some support for so-called small modular reactors at places like Olympic Dam.

However, the foundation’s Dave Sweeney says wind and solar power are quite rightly becoming more prominent in regional and remote areas. “Regional Australia is perfectly placed to be using these renewable materials and to be processing minerals, accessing minerals based on a much cleaner production cycle and a much cleaner whole of life
industrial assessment which has far less impact,” he said.

Mr Sweeney says there is simply no place for nuclear power. “There is the real opportunity in regional Australia to use regional sustainable energy systems,” he said. “We’re already seeing mines in regional Australia increasingly using
geothermal, we’re seeing mining operations and other operations and communities using wind and solar.”

June 8, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste dump plan should be taken off the table before it goes off the rails.

by Cat Beaton and Natalie Wasley, 8 June 12,  National and Northern Territory environment groups have called for an end to controversial plans to transport radioactive waste through the NT following another freight train derailment yesterday north of Tennant Creek.  The Environment Centre NT, Arid Lands Environment Centre and Beyond Nuclear Initiative have said the latest accident highlights the risks and the lack of emergency response capacity associated with radioactive transport.

 “The Territory is staring down the barrel of some major toxic transport projects including the proposed radioactive waste dump at Muckaty and the transport of copper concentrate and yellowcake from BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, along with possible uranium shipments from future mine sites in WA”, said the NT Environment Centre’s Cat Beaton.  “Understandably the NT community is increasingly concerned by these plans and the growing transport threats, which are increased by the Territory’s extreme weather conditions. ”

 At a forum in Darwin last week, United Voice secretary Matthew Gardiner highlighted the limited services available to respond to incidents involving radioactive waste. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has also said it could do little to safeguard against future train derailments (NT News June 4, 2011) following the Edith River copper concentrate accident in December 2011.

 The Northern Territory Government has expressed deep concerns over the NT’s capacity to deal with any such event stating: “There is very limited capacity within the Northern Territory hospital network outside of Darwin to respond to any radioactive waste incident or accident” (NT Government submission to 2010 Senate Inquiry)

 “The transport of radioactive material is a weak link in the government’s dump plan and is emerging as a real and serious threat to the Territory’s environment and people,” said Natalie Wasley from the Beyond Nuclear Initiative. “It is time for the federal government to listen to Traditional Owners and the NT community and stop pushing ahead with the Muckaty dump plan”.

June 8, 2012 Posted by | wastes | Leave a comment

Conservation Council and Aboriginal Elder lodge appeals against Wiluna uranium mine

Appeals lodged against first WA uranium mine SMH, Courtney Trenwith June 7, 2012   Several appeals against the environmental approval for WA’s first uranium mine have been official lodged.
In a landmark decision , the state’s independent Environmental Protection Authority last month approved mining company Toro’s $280 million project to mine uranium near Wiluna in the South-West. ….However last night, the Conservation Council of WA lodged an appeal claiming the EPA’s decision contained numerous “critical deficiencies”.

Aboriginal elder and Wiluna resident Glen Cooke also lodged a separate challenge.

The appeals will be heard by an appeal convenor and considered by the Minister for Environment Bill Marmion, in line with the EPA decision. The state government is yet to make a final decision on the project.

CCWA director Piers Verstegen claimed the EPA had failed to properly assess the proposal before approving it. “Importantly, the state government has made commitments to ‘world’s best practice’ regulation of uranium mining in WA, but their own independent report has found that the current system fails that test,” CCWA director Piers Verstegen said.

“We do not believe that the EPA assessment adequately deals with critical environmental risks including the management of radioactive mine tailings, contamination of groundwater and the transport of radioactive material through WA communities.” CCWA also claims there was a denial of procedural fairness and the EPA failured to comply with their own procedures during the assessment process.

“West Australians rely on the EPA to prevent environmental harm, yet they have recommended approval for mining and transporting one of the most dangerous materials known to exist by a junior minerals exploration company that has never successfully mined anything and have not completed all necessary environmental management plans,” Mr Verstegen said….:

June 8, 2012 Posted by | legal, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Solar power taking off in the Middle East

Solar Power Rises in the Mideast, North Africa, CNBC, 7 June 12, “….A number of recent developments highlight the push for renewable energy in the MENA region, from Saudi Arabia’s ambitious solar plans to Qatar’s first-ever polysilicon plant and massive concentrated solar power plants across North Africa. Continue reading

June 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Indian government enlists psychiatry to “cure” anti nuclear activism

If anything, then, the really delusion-prone people are on the other side, in the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). The day the Fukushima crisis took a turn for the worse last year, with hydrogen explosions ripping through three reactors, DAE secretary Sreekumar Banerjee said the blasts were “purely a chemical reaction and not a nuclear emergency …”. NPCIL chairman SK Jain went one better: “There is no nuclear accident….It is a well-planned emergency preparedness programme …

No margin for error Hindustan Times Praful Bidwai June 04, 2012  When it comes to thrusting nuclear power down the throats of unwilling people, official India sets a record of violations of dignity and rights that is embarrassing. Which other government but India’s maligns all anti-nuclear protesters as foreign-inspired and lacking any agency? Where else would the police file 107 FIRs against 55,795 peaceful anti-nuclear protesters, but at Koodankulam, charging 6,800 with “sedition” and “waging war against the State”?

And which other government has asked a psychiatric institution, in this case, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (Nimhans), to “counsel” people and convince them that the project, despite the hazards, is good for them?
To its discredit, Nimhans despatched psychiatrists to Koodankulam to “get a peek into the protesters’ minds” and help these insane people to “understand the importance” of the plant. According to reports quoting its director, Nimhans has “commenced the collection of primary data” and is now seeking “field reactions” to write “multiple strategies” to address “the problem” (the opposition to nuclear power).

Such opposition is thus equated with schizophrenia, fear of sexual intimacy, paranoia or craving for victimhood, to be cured by drastic means. By this criterion, more than 80% of the people of Japan, Germany, France and Russia – who oppose new nuclear plants – must be considered abnormal. Continue reading

June 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima is a GLOBAL safety problem

324 Civic organizations from all over the world have submitted a petition called “An Urgent Request for UN Intervention to Stabilize the Fukushima Unit 4 Spent Nuclear Fuel”, Mr. Murata said noting that those organizations are also demanding a moratorium on Japan’s nuclear reactors.

 “the nuclear village and nuclear dictatorship is exposed, and public opinion and their movements are strong.”Nuclear village is a term for the Japanese distorted social structure in which the pronuclear politicians, scholars and companies have more power than those who are skeptical of nuclear energy. Anti-nuclear protests have been ignored for more than 40 years.

Fukushima Reactor Global Security Issue: Japanese Former Diplomat, June 7, 2012 Tokyo- (PanOrient News) The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Number 4 reactor presents a security problem for the entire world, Mitsuhei Murata, Japan’s former ambassador to Switzerland said.

Fukushima Daiichi plants are “not under control at all… and the situation with nuclear reactors in Japan is like vehicles being driven without a license,” Mr. Murata told a news conference at the foreign correspondents’ club of Japan on June 5. Continue reading

June 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wind farms supported by majority of people in South Australia, Victoria and NSW

 those who opposed wind power were “out of step with community thinking”.

Two-thirds (67 per cent) of people believed a farmer’s right to generate income from their land was more important than a resident’s right to a view clear of wind turbines.

People worrying themselves sick’ over windfarms Political Reporter Lauren Novak June 07, 2012 MORE than 80 per cent of people believe health concerns about wind farms will “turn out to be nothing to worry about”, a survey commissioned by the Clean Energy Council says. Continue reading

June 8, 2012 Posted by | New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, wind | , | Leave a comment

Radiation in the marine food chain

Radiation and Mercury in Fish: Should Americans be Concerned? One Green Planet  June 5, 2012 by Joseph Keon:   The May 29th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that fish caught off the California coast in 2011 by researchers from Stony Brook University in New York were contaminated with radioactive waste from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power facility.

The radioactive isotopes cesium-137 and cesium-134 were found in blue fin tuna at levels ten times higher than in the years prior to the accident, roughly four months after the waste was released into the ocean. Seven months after the accident, Japan’s Fisheries Agency reported broad-spread radioactive contamination (up to 100 percent) in fish caught both in Japanese coastal waters and hundreds of miles away.

Problems with Radioactive Waste Predate Fukushima Even before Fukushima, fish have been shown to carry radioactive waste from the nuclear industry. Tests of salmon from six British supermarkets revealed contamination by the radioactive isotope technetium-99, which has also been found in lobster and shellfish, and has been traced to Britain’s Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant, even though the fish were raised hundreds of miles away.

According to James Waczewski of Florida State University, author of Legal, Political, and Scientific Response to Ocean Dumping, the United States has dumped an estimated 112,000 containers of long-lived radioactive nuclear waste into the Pacific and Atlantic oceans at 30 different sites. A U.S. Senate ruling has since imposed a moratorium on this practice, but nuclear power plants continue to discharge radioactive waste-water into the world’s oceans daily.

No Fish from the Ocean Is Protected Because ionizing radiation from nuclear waste is a carcinogen,
radioactivity in fish is a disturbing reality. Yet even without the Fukushima disaster, the world’s fish supply has become a dubious source of nutrition…….
Although we seldom see the waste floating on the surface of the oceans, if we’re willing to test it, we find that sea life has become our proverbial “canary in the coal mine,” clearly revealing the hidden truth of all that has infiltrated the world’s oceans. Some bodies of water are vastly more polluted than others, but one toxin, mercury, permeates the world’s oceans to such a degree that no fish (and no one who eats fish) is protected.

Mercury in Fish Mercury is a toxic substance that can devastate the nervous system,
leading to lower intelligence and compromised fine motor skills. …..

June 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar Dawn project- Concentrated Thermal Power (CSP) in the balance for Australia

as a new report points out, Australia has a unique opportunity to grab a significant share of the global supply chain for solar thermal, a technology recognised by the International Energy Agency, 

Industry awaits dawn of federal solar project BY  GILES PARKINSON   The Australian June 08, 2012  IN the next few weeks, the federal government will learn whether the $1.2 billion Solar Dawn project in Queensland has been able to meet its extended deadline to obtain finance for the 250 megawatt solar thermal project. Continue reading

June 8, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Christine Milne calls for positive support for Australia’s carbon tax

As she called for public support from business Senator Milne said understood that it was difficult to attract coverage for positive stories because of “the concentration of media ownership”.

“But nevertheless, we have to rewrite the rules that govern our economy so that we move rapidly to a low and then a zero carbon future and sustainable living.”

Greens demand ‘progressive businesses’ attack Tony Abbott, BY: MATTHEW FRANKLIN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT  The Australian June 08, GREENS Leader Christine Milne has demanded “progressive businesses”
with investments in renewable energy publicly attack Tony Abbott’s promised direct action plan on carbon change and celebrate the July 1 introduction of Julia Gillard’s carbon tax.

Senator Milne has also criticised the Business Council of Australia for rejecting environmental controls because they might “impede business investment” and attacked the media for not publishing more positive stories about the need for an economic shift toward greater use of renewable energy. Continue reading

June 8, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Uranium market flat, listless, sluggish and languishing, and getting worse

Uranium Lacked Energy In May June 5, 2012  International Business Times, The best you can say for the global uranium market in May is; at least it was steady. Other commentators used words like flat, listless, sluggish and languishing, with the slight dip in the spot price over the last week of the month doing little to help matters.

Industry consultant TradeTech reports there were just 17 transactions in the uranium spot market last month, with just a tad over 2 million pounds U3O8 equivalent shifted over the course of May. The level of activity was well down on April, with the previous month seeing 3.2 million pounds being traded.

The bulk of May spot market buyers were traders, with the market seeing few signs of life coming from utilities. ….. There was little in the way of Australian broker commentary on the topic of Uranium last week, although JP Morgan analyst Mark Busuttil did say he thought current uranium spot prices were too low and did little to encourage new production.

June 8, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

The movement for Intelligent energy efficiency

This has special relevance in Australia where customers are witnessing a marked fall in the cost of technologies such as solar PV, as well as being subjected to rising electricity prices, a situation exacerbated by the utilities’ push for time-of-use pricing.

Intelligent efficiency could have a dramatic impact on the demand outlook for Australian utilities, and the sort of new generation needed in coming decades, plus whether or not the tens of billions of dollars being spent on transmission and distribution networks is money well spent.

Industry awaits dawn of federal solar project, BY  GILES PARKINSON   The Australian June 08, 2012 “……..Smart thinking HERE’S a new concept in reducing energy consumption: intelligent efficiency. Essentially it refers to a movement beyond energy-efficient light bulbs and other savings devices to a systems-based approach that combines the benefits of a suite of new technologies such as smart meters, renewables such as solar PV and electric vehicles. Continue reading

June 8, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment