Australian news, and some related international items

Tony Abbott does not understand that the Muckaty nuclear waste dump plan is a national issue

Abbott weighs in on dump dispute, 06 Jul, 2012 FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will be just as despised as Resources Minister Martin Fergushima if he keeps banging on about dumping nuclear waste in the pristine Barkly.

Speaking in Darwin this week, Mr Abbott said that a nuclear waste facility would be in the national interest.

“I am confident that any waste arrangements here in the Territory will be conducted in the most effective way, with the least possible risk to the environment,” he said.

“You know, sometimes local concerns do have to give way to the national interest.

“The Territory waste centre will be a long, long way from built-up areas … and this is why it is appropriate to find a remote location for these kinds of facilities.”

National environment group, Beyond Nuclear Initiative (BNI), rejected Mr Abbott’s comments, saying the proposal to build the radioactive dump at Muckaty was based on politics rather than science. BNI spokesperson, Nat Wasley, said a senior departmental official admitted to a senate inquiry that the push for a remote dump site was political.

“Mr Abbott is also trying to dismiss concern about the Muckaty dump as ‘local’,” she said.

“Yet the Australian Council of Trade Unions and Australian Conservation Foundation – the peak trade union and environment bodies in the country – as well as other unions, health and human rights organisations have clearly stated opposition to the proposal. “Territory and national concerns reach beyond the environmental risks of transporting and storing radioactive waste in remote areas to include the social aspects of the flawed process that led to Muckaty being nominated.”

Ms Wasley said any attempts to advance the Northern Territory dump plan would be met with fierce national resistance.

July 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australian invention – laser uranium enrichment raises nuclear weapons proliferation risks.

a tension between the United States’ goal of safely commercializing nuclear-power technology and its efforts to control the proliferation of nuclear materials. “When there’s a conflict, generally speaking, the policy to spread nuclear technology overrides the non-proliferation policy.”

Laser-based uranium enrichment plant sparks controversy 07/05/2012 Laser Focus World  by Gail Overton  Senior Editor  Washington, DC–A July 4 Nature news story from Sharon Weinberger says that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to open a plant that uses laser-based uranium enrichment will be considered in private. Although the controversial laser uranium-enrichment technology is on the cusp of making it cheaper to create fuel for nuclear power plants, some non-proliferation experts are concerned that the efficiency of the laser-based technology will also smooth the path for bomb makers.  Continue reading

July 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology | Leave a comment

An opportunity to hear Dr Helen Caldicott, speaking on nuclear power, in Adelaide

July 22. HELEN CALDICOTT ON URANIUM, THE NUCLEAR CYCLE, AND THE THREATS TO OUR ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH Sunday July 22, 2pm Lecture Theatre 102, Napier Building, University of Adelaide
Arguably the most well-known anti-nuclear campaigner on the planet, Nobel Prize nominee Dr Helen Caldicott has spent the past four decades educating citizens on the environmental and health impacts of nuclear power. The co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Dr Caldicott has been an outspoken critic of the entire nuclear cycle – from uranium mining to nuclear power.
She has consistently opposed uranium mining, nuclear power
plants, and foreign nuclear waste in Australia.She will be discussing the environmental and health impacts of the nuclear cycle, and especially uranium mining. This is an important issue for South Australia, home of Olympic Dam, set to become the world’s largest uranium mine.

Numerous environmental and Indigenous groups have raised concerns about the broader impacts of Olympic Dam, especially the lack of proper storage for the mine’s radioactive tailings.

This event is organised by Left Unity SA, an activist and educational organisation that seeks to unite progressive groups and individuals around common struggles for social justice and environmental integrity. For further information:

July 6, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

USA to cut carbon emissions by 17% by 2020 – no new coal-fired power stations!

Result? No new coal-fired power stations! Under the Clean Air Act, carbon emissions are limited to 1,000 pounds of COper MW hour of power produced.

Both the government and the Coalition have committed to a 5 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2020.  But the United States has pledged a much more responsible cut of 17 per cent by 2020,

EPA Clean Air to end coal in the US    4 July, 2012   Last week, in a milestone announcement that  went largely unreported in Australia, the US Court of Appeals upheld the EPA’s right to regulate greenhouse emissions under the Clean Air Act. Today is the 4th July and Independent Australia believes this decision is cause to celebrate.  Environment editor Sandi Keane reports.  IS AUSTRALIA a leader or a laggard in the climate action stakes?

Both the government and the Coalition have committed to a 5 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2020.  But the United States has pledged a much more responsible cut of 17 per cent by 2020, in spite of Obama being forced by the Republicans to shelve his ‘cap and trade’ scheme.


Because the Environment Protection Agency and Clean Air Act (ironically both introduced by Republican Presidents) will do most of the heavy lifting.  Unlike Australia’s state-run, toothless, EPAs, the US EPA has real teeth. It has just taken a huge bite out of the future profits of coal-fired energy producers and other CO2 emitters in the United States thanks to last week’s decision in the US Court of Appeals.

The milestone announcement went largely unreported in Australia. Three judges –two Democrats and one Republican – upheld the EPA’s right to regulate greenhouse emissions under the Clean Air Act. Continue reading

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Earthquake the probable cause of Fukushima nuclear disaster: new concerns about other Japanese reactors

The 641-page report criticized Tepco as being too quick to dismiss earthquake damage as a cause of the fuel meltdowns at three of the plant’s six reactors, which overheated when the site lost power.

Inquiry Declares Fukushima Crisis a Man-Made Disaster, NYT, By HIROKO TABUCHI, July 5, 2012 TOKYO — The nuclear accident at Fukushima was a preventable disaster rooted in government-industry collusion and the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture, a parliamentary inquiry concluded Thursday. Kyodo News, via Associated Press
The report, released by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, challenged some of the main story lines that the government and the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant have put forward. Most notably, the report said the plant’s crucial cooling systems might have been damaged in the earthquake on
March 11, 2011, not only in the ensuing tsunami.

That possibility raises doubts about the safety of all the quake-prone country’s nuclear plants just as they begin to restart after a pause ordered in the wake of the Fukushima crisis…… Continue reading

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Prime Minister Gillard holding firm on climate change action, rejecting nuclear power

Julia Gillard answers your questions about the carbon tax in live blog Annika Smethurst   Herald Sun July 05, 2012
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard answered tough questions on the carbon tax in an exclusive live blog with Herald Sun readers today. The Prime Minister tackled questions on nuclear power, pension increases and the controversial carbon pricing scheme for an hour….

Ms Gillard reiterated her stance not to resort to nuclear energy due to the country’s wealth in alternative energy
sources such as wind, sun, tidal and geothermal energies. “What nation on earth has more access to abundant renewable energy sources than  us? A clean energy future makes sense for our nation?” she said.

Ms Gillard also assured readers Australia’s economy and employment would continue to grow based on the country’s advantages in renewable energy….. Ms Gillard said that around the world other nations were moving to cut carbon pollution with Australians joining 850 million people around the world who live with a carbon pricing. “500 million Europeans live with carbon pricing and 200 million Chinese. And then there are nations like South Korea and Mexico
deciding to price carbon,” she said….

July 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Another Ugly Australian Uranium Mine in a World Heritage Park

Tanzania gets U.N. nod for uranium mine in game park DAR ES SALAAM, July 5 (Reuters) Tanzania has received U.N. approval for Australia-based miner Mantra Resources to build a $400 million uranium mine in a world heritage game reserve despite pressure from environmental groups opposed to the project, it said on Thursday.

Green groups have warned that toxic mining activities at the plant would harm the ecologically sensitive Selous Game Reserve in the east African country…

July 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Huge wind farms to go ahead in South Australia and Western Australia

Go-ahead given for huge wind farm   5 July 12,    FINAL State Government approval has been given for the construction of a $900 million, 105-turbine wind farm in the state’s mid-north.

The 315 megawatt Hornsdale wind farm, to  be built 15km from Jamestown, would  be the state’s largest, with the capacity togenerate 1,050,000 megawatt hours of electricity a year. The Development Assessment Commission gave provisional approval to the development in May, with Planning Minister John Rau yesterday giving developer Investec Bank Australia the green light to begin the development. Energy Minister Tom  Koutsantonis said the project would create up to 250 construction jobs locally.

Mega wind farm for Mid West Daniel Mercer, The West Australian July 6, 2012,  State-owned power generator Verve is planning to significantly increase WA’s share of renewable energy supplies by spending $600 million to build the State’s biggest wind farm. Continue reading

July 6, 2012 Posted by | South Australia, wind | , | Leave a comment

Jumbo sized solar pergola at Perth zoo

Perth Zoo unveils ‘jumbo’ solar plant WA Today July 5, 2012 Perth Zoo has completed its jumbo-sized solar panel installation – stretching partly across its elephant enclosure – making it the city’s largest single source of sun power.

A new 102-metre “solar pergola” was unveiled today, completing the $2.7 million clean-energy project that began last year with the installation of 303 solar panels on eight zoo structures. They include the elephant barn, reptile display, retail shop,
maintenance and administrative buildings.

A total of 755 solar panels are now used by the zoo, with the potential to generate about a third of its energy needs – 370,000kW hours a year – saving the popular tourist attraction about $100,000 a year. The installation was jointly funded by the state and federal governments as part of the nation’s $94 million Solar Cities program.

While the steel-framed solar pergola is the centrepiece of the Perth Zoo project, it also doubles as a bus shelter, running along the northern perimeter road and propping up 452 solar panels with a power rating of 145kW.
The entire system is rated at 237kW, making it the largest single solar generator in Perth – the world’s sunniest capital city, with an average eight hours sunshine a day over the entire year. Perth Zoo hosts about 610,000 visitors a year.

July 6, 2012 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | | Leave a comment

Solar Dawn confirms its plan to rise  Ecogeneration, , 5 July 2012 The Solar Dawn consortium has advised the Federal Government that its Solar Flagships Program-winning project is well-advanced and remains Australia’s best prospect for a large-scale solar thermal facility, despite the consortium failing to meet the recent financial close milestone and the Queensland Government’s decision to withdrawn from its project support agreement.
Solar Dawn Project Director Anthony Wiseman said that while the project delay represented a set-back, the consortium – made up of AREVA Solar and Wind Prospect, after CS Energy pulled out – will pursue discussions with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Queensland Government to move Solar Dawn forward based on the project’s advanced status and the strong economic and environmental benefits it offers to the state and the country…..

The Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) said that it is deeply disappointed with the Queensland Government’s decision to axe funding to the project, as it will put Australia at the forefront of the global solar thermal industry. AuSES is seeking industry feedback on the decision…..

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Queensland, solar | | Leave a comment