Australian news, and some related international items

Traditional Aboriginal owner leads renewed fight against Yeelirrie uranium mining

Traditional owner opposes Yeelirrie development Aug 28, 2012   A traditional owner is planning to step up protests against uranium mining at Yeelirrie, near Wiluna. Kado Muir says the new owners of the Yeelirrie deposit in the Goldfields will have a tough time trying to develop a mine at the site.

BHP Billiton has announced it is selling the deposit to Canadian-based Cameco.The Minister for Mines, Norman Moore, has welcomed the deal saying Cameco is more likely to develop a mine at the site.

Mr Muir says he is concerned about the change of ownership. “With Cameco in place, it does cause quite a bit of concern for us because they are a company who will seek to develop the mine as quickly and as soon as they can,” he said.
“That just adds impetus to our campaign to ensure that WA remains a uranium-free state.”

Mr Muir believes the public will not support uranium mining in WA. “We are worried about it,” he said. “[Cameco] are up against the wall in terms of time lines and the people of WA have not yet had the chance to voice their concerns about
uranium mining at the ballot box. “There is no broad community support for uranium mining in WA.”

August 30, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Mad monk Abbott also ignorant – about uranium mining

 Abbott Out Of His Depth On Mining, New Matilda , 27 Aug 2012 Does Tony Abbott understand the Australian mining sector?  His inept response to the Olympic Dam announcement showed him mangling the basics of public policy, writes Ian McAuley Last week BHP-Billiton announced that their profit had fallen from $US32 billion in 2010-11 to a mere $US27 billion last year, and that they were shelving their  $30 billion Olympic Dam expansion.  . Tony Abbott’s commentary on the event exposed him as an Opposition Leader way out of his depth and brought forth confusing statements about the progress of the resource boom.

Abbott’s claim that the carbon tax and the minerals resource rent tax (MRRT) were behind the decision to drop the Olympic Dam expansion was quite at odds with the company’s announcement that the decision was about capital construction costs and “subdued commodity prices”.

The resources at Olympic Dam are uranium, copper and gold, none of which is subject to the MRRT. If anything, global action on climate change should have been expected to boost uranium demand, but the price of uranium oxide has fallen  from a peak of $US290/kg in 2007 to around $US110 now, the Fukushima accident and the tumbling price of gas and photovoltaics having dampened any expectation of a price recovery….

August 30, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Be wary that BHP might push for further environmental concessions for Olympic Dam uranium site

The Guardian Australia 29 Aug 12, “………South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill is also doing his best to sound optimistic in the light of the Olympic Dam decision. Though his predecessor Mike Rann signed a shamefully generous indenture agreement with BHP Billiton in December last year, it wasn’t enough to satisfy international capital. BHP may use the current unsettling situation to press for the bending of the environmental rules to allow for the speedy introduction of the
notorious acid leeching extraction method at the site….
Abbott will step up the anti-union assault even further than Gillard to deliver the conditions transnational investors want.

Lost in all of these events and threatened changes are the wishes and needs of the Australian people. They don’t want a future dependent on exports of uranium to countries like the US where they enable the production of nuclear weapons and depleted uranium shells. They don’t want the wishes of the Aboriginal people ignored or the environment sacrificed to boost the bottom line of transnational corporations.
They don’t want to have to beg profit-bloated transnationals to make a suitable tax contribution out of the fortunes still being made out of resources that rightfully belong to the whole people. They want a sustainable, pro-people economy….

August 30, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Political danger for Victoria’s Premier Baillieu in following irrational anti wind energy policy

Anti-wind farm laws are bad politics for a Premier on the nose, REneweconomy,By   30 August 2012 Ted Baillieu is a Premier in trouble. Since coming to office, he has made a slew of unpopular decisions that have caused his public support to evaporate. Baillieu’s decision to scrap TAFE funding is perhaps the highest profile of these missteps. His anti-wind energy laws, imposed one year, are less well known but are a damaging sleeper issue.

The innocuous-sounding VC82 amendment effectively banned wind farms from operating in large swathes of the state. They establish arbitrary ‘no-go zones’ and allow just one objector to stop any wind turbine within 2km, making Victoria the world’s biggest NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

Our state’s once lucrative pipeline of wind farm projects has been blocked and capital is fleeing interstate. Over the last 12 months, just one development application has been lodged with the department of planning.

Traditionally, the Liberal Party was seen as the party of business and an ally of science and progress. In recent years, it has become captive to a Tea Party-style culture of anti-wind energy and anti-climate science extremism.

If the Premier was riding high in the polls then he could perhaps prosecute the irrational agenda of the anti-wind lobby. But he does not have political capital to spare on such ideological adventurism. Continue reading

August 30, 2012 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

BHP passes off dubious West Australian uranium “asset” to Cameco

BHP offloads Australian uranium project to Cameco August 30, 2012 Business  Recorder,    BHP Billiton on Monday said it was selling one of Australia’s largest underdeveloped uranium mines to Cameco for US $430 million, just days after delaying its Olympic Dam copper and uranium project. The world’s biggest miner said an agreement had been signed for its wholly-owned Yeelirrie uranium deposit in Western Australia, and was awaiting clearance from Australian regulators and the state government. ….
Chief executive of Melbourne-based BHP Marius Kloppers last week said the company had no plans to develop any uranium projects other than Olympic Dam. “Generally speaking those mines are too small a scale to fit in our portfolio and the product, quite candidly, is too small to fit into our portfolio on its own,” he said.

August 30, 2012 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Rally opposing Sydney’s Hunters Hill radioactive waste going to residential suburbs

Fallout spreads from uranium waste dumping plan  29 AUG 12  BY ELIAS JAHSHAN AROUND 200 residents attended a rally at Lidcombe’s Remembrance Park last Saturday to protest the NSW government’s plans to transfer radioactive waste from an old Hunters Hill radium smelter to residential areas, including a facility at Lidcombe.

The rally was organised by the Auburn Asian Welfare Centre and Soka Gakkai International Australia, a Buddhist and non-government organisation.

A spokeswoman from SGI Australia said waste products from at least 500 tonnes of uranium ore processed at the former Hunters Hill smelter remained in the soil, and will be sent to the Office of Environment and Heritage-owned facility at Joseph St, Lidcombe.

At the rally, Monash University environmental engineer Gavin Mudd acknowledged that radioactive waste needed to be removed from Hunters Hill, but said the problem was a lack of transparency in the plans to dispose of the contaminated soil.

Dr Mudd believed the best place for that waste was the Australian Nuclear Research and Development Organisation facility at Lucas Heights.

“The best place is not Kemps Creek, and it’s not (Lidcombe),” he added.

Lucas Heights is prohibited by law from accepting anything other than Commonwealth waste. Dr Mudd said the soil from Hunters Hill would be classed as state-owned waste.

“Politicians can change legislation quickly when the will is there,” he said. THE STORY SO FAR

– The state government wants to rehabilitate and sell the land at the Hunters Hill uranium smelter site, which closed in 1915.

– Contaminated soil waste is to be transferred to a Lidcombe facility.

– November 2011: Auburn Council unanimously votes to become a nuclear-free zone, but state government can still override this vote.

– February: Auburn RSL delivers 1000 signatures for a petition against the plans.

– March: Rally held at Auburn Town Hall.

– June: Petition with more than 13,000 signatures opposing the plans debated in state parliament, but fails to change government’s stance.

August 30, 2012 Posted by | New South Wales, uranium, wastes | 1 Comment

How the Murdoch media whitewashes nuclear disasters

Murdoch’s Journal pushes tragic Fukushima flim-flam , August 29, 2012 With every atomic reactor disaster comes the inevitable whitewash.  And Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has just painted a tragic new coat over the radioactive wasteland of atomic flim-flam.
Its “Panic at Fukushima” speaks volumes to a nuclear power industry now crumbling at the core.  It fits an historic pattern:
When yet another radioactive leak emits from the local nuke—no matter how serious—the official response is hard-wired to include the phrase “no danger to the public.”

When serious structural cracks surface at reactors like Ohio’s Davis-Besse or Crystal River, Florida,  safety concerns are invariably dismissed with well-funded contempt.

As with fatally flawed steam generators at California’s San Onofre, if it can make an extra buck, the industry will run these reactors into the ground, safety-be-damned.  Protected by federal taxpayer insurance and the bankruptcy laws, they know even a catastrophic disaster need not trouble their bottom line.

When earthquakes rattle reactors in Virginia and Ohio, or threaten others near New York City and Los Angeles, the public is “never in danger.”  Likewise a generation of Japanese heard for decades that reactors at Fukushima and Kashiwazaki were “perfectly safe.”

But, now that earthquakes have hammered them both, we know who pays. Continue reading

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Country Victoria taking to solar power, ahead of Melbourne

Solar Power – Regional Victoria Gets It Energy Matters, 30 Aug 12,  Statistics recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show uptake of solar power technology outside of Melbourne to be higher than in the state’s capital city.

In Melbourne, 4% of households had solar hot waterand 5% had solar panel systems in October 2011. However, in the rest of the Victoria, 9% of households had solar hot water installed and 8% had solar panels. Uptake has probably increased substantially since October last year, but these results help quash one of the many myths of solar power – that only well-to-do big city folks can afford it. Continue reading

August 30, 2012 Posted by | solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Australia to co-sponsor Pacific Energy Summit in April 2013

New Zealand to host Pacific energy summit  AAP August 29, 2012  INTERNATIONAL energy superpowers could assist Pacific nations to establish renewable energy, with New Zealand set to host a summit bringing all sides together.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, who is in Rarotonga attending the Pacific Islands Forum, says the Pacific energy summit will take place in April 2013.

It would be co-sponsored by Australia, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank and co-hosted by the European Union.

Renewable energy was a main talking point when New Zealand hosted the forum last year, and Mr McCully says the summit would be its legacy in ensuring the talk turns into action….

August 30, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Nuclear history – the childish irresponsibility of USA military researchers

Handheld nuclear weapons? The Army was once working on them  By , August 29, 2012 If you check the Internet, you will find some discussion on the possibility of developing a handheld or shoulder-holstered nuclear weapon launcher. More recently, the discussion has centered on a so-called briefcase bomb that terrorists might be able to deliver undetected to a major U.S. city.

But I was amused recently to come across a very matter-of-fact discussion about the imminent development of a handheld nuclear launcher on a “Meet the Press” program broadcast Jan. 4, 1959. The guest that day was Gen. James M. Gavin , who had just resigned as chief of the Army Division of Research and Development. The questioner is John W. Finney  of the New York Times. (Thanks to , where I purchased an archive of these shows.)

Gen. Gavin was no crackpot. He was a highly respected military man who had served with distinction during World War II and was a leading advocate for racially integrating the armed forces.

More than anything, what this clip illustrates to me is the incredible naivety the military had about nuclear bombs in the 1950s. Remember, this was the period during which above-ground tests were contaminating wide swaths of the American West and sickening its people — something the government has belatedly, and reluctantly, admitted .

Click the link below to listen to the clip, then feel thankful the general’s predictions didn’t come true. Otherwise, U.S. troops may be training Afghan soldiers today in the use of such weapons, while hoping they don’t end up in the hands of terrorists or, in any case, that soldiers could run away faster than the fallout from such a bomb could come back to get them. Meet the Press, Jan. 4, 1959

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BHP Billiton downsizes Olympic Dam project, as uranium market collapses

BHP Billiton Shrinks Project Team for Olympic Dam Mine, WSJ, BY ROBB M. STEWART, August 29, 2012,  MELBOURNEBHP Billiton Ltd. is reducing the size of the project team working on scaled-back plans to expand its Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in South Australia, with roughly 140 employees facing transfer or lay off.

Melbourne-based BHP, the world’s largest mining company by market value, last week cut or deferred billions of dollars in proposed investments and said it wouldn’t approve any new major project until at least the middle of next year as costs continue to soar and commodity prices slump. The highest-profile casualty of the clamp down on spending was its US$30 billion Olympic Dam project, and …subscribers only SB10000872396390444506004577618130532297156.html

August 30, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Russia’s pile of radioactive nuclear submarines and reactors sunk in the Arctic sea

one of the most critical pieces of information missing from the report released to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority was the presence of the K-27 nuclear submarine, which was scuttled in 50 kilometers of water with its two reactors filled with spent nuclear fuel in in Stepovogo Bay in the Kara Sea in 1981.

Information that the reactors about the K-27 could reachieve criticality and explode was released at the Bellona-Rosatom seminar in February.

 Bellona, Charles Digges, 28/08-2012  “….Enormous quantities of decommissioned Russian nuclear reactors and radioactive waste were dumped into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia over a course of decades, according to documents given to Norwegian officials by Russian authorities and published in Norwegian media…..”

The K-27 nuclear submarine, which was sunk by the Soviet Navy in 1981 for disposal, poses a possible risk of exploding beneath the sea. The submarine was not among radioactive hazards cataloged by Russian Authorities. Continue reading

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment