Australian news, and some related international items

A sad day for Australian media

Today we learn ( from )  of the departure of  a number of Australia’s top investigative journalists.  They include The Sydney Morning Herald’s  Ian Verrender, Elisabeth Sexton and Scott Rochfort . Other Fairfax journalists leaving –  Debra Jopson,  David Marr,  Adele Horin , Andrew Stevenson and SMH science editor Deborah Smith .

From the Murdochracy departs  science writer, Leigh Dayton  – one of my favourites –  she made science interesting and often amusing, and had the guts to write critically about ARPANSA – Australia’s radiation protection authority.

Just when we need good investigative journalism in teh mainstream media – Australia is losing these senior writers.  Will their young replacements be able to withstand corporate and government pressures, or will they take the easy way out of just regurgitating press releases?

September 1, 2012 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Unionists and dedicated environmentalists walk to oppose Wiluna uranium mining project in Western Australia

Remote walk against uranium mining in WA ABC News  Aug 31, 2012  A major union is vowing to overturn Labor leader Mark McGowan’s decision on uranium mining. Earlier this year, Mr McGowan softened Labor’s anti-uranium stance, saying if the party wins power at the State election it will not close any mines that have already received final approval.South Australian company, Toro Energy, is within a whisker of that deadline.

It hopes to open WA’s first uranium mine near Wiluna and is expecting the project to be approved by the end of the year.

But Steve McCartney from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union says the union will be lobbying hard to reverse Mr McGowan’s decision.

“Our main objections are we don’t want our members exposed to uranium,” he said. “We believe it’s unsafe. We believe that this is an industry we don’t need in Western Australia.”

The union’s comments come as anti-nuclear protestors trek about 200 kilometres from Yeelirrie to Leonora to protest against uranium mining in Western Australia.

It may seem like a futile gesture, trying to raise awareness in one of Australia’s most remote locations.

But, the protestors, who have come from across Australia to take part in the walk, believe the event is all the more important given this week’s sale of WA’s largest uranium reserve, Yeelirrie, to Canadian uranium producer, Cameco.

Brisbane retiree, June Norman, says she is taking part in the walk because she is worried about Australia’s future.

“I’m really really concerned. I have grandchildren and I have great grandchildren and I want them to live in the beautiful country that I’ve grown up in and my children have grown up in and at the rate things are going, I worry about that,” she said…..

September 1, 2012 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Western Australia | Leave a comment

How Australia’s top nuclear expert, Ziggy Switkowski, trivialised Fukushima nuclear disaster

Threat from meltdown only minor: Ziggy Switkowski, fmr head, ANSTO, Paul Langley’s Nuclear History Blog, 1 Sept 12,    Comparing the bullshit at the time with the reality…..  Threat from meltdown only minor: Ziggy Switkowski March 14, 2011

The impact of any meltdown in Japanese nuclear reactors damaged by the recent earthquake will be small compared to the devastation caused by the quake itself and the subsequent tsunami, Australia’s best-known nuclear power expert says.

Ziggy Switkowski, who was chairman of the the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) until a few months ago, says a significant build-up of radiation is unlikely.

“The contribution, if any, to this [disaster] from the nuclear fleet, I expect even under worst case scenarios is going to be small,” he told Fairfax Radio Network today……..

 Contrast with reality: BBC 26 Dec 2011 Fukushima accident: disaster response failed – report…….

September 1, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

How Internet information is manipulated by corporate power, examples from UK, Russia, Germany

Russia’s natural resource oversight body to keep mum on catastrophes from now on Anna Kireeva, Charles Digges, 16/08-2012 […] Now, all information requests sent to Rosprirodnadzor’s press service will be subject to scouring by the special commission before it is released to the public  – a decision greeted by some of Kirillov‘s subordinates as anti-democratic and needlessly complex.

 Rosprirodnadzor is one of the Russian government’s most important sources of information about environmental conditions in Russia

How to manipulate the Internet  by  1 September 12,  Below, are quotes from some articles that are looking at issues of internet blocking and manipulation of searches etc..

I live in the UK, and recently discovered that Uk government requests to access peoples personal data was much lower than other countries. This was because laws passed last year allow authorities to hack anyone of interest…..

they do not need to apply to the courts any more, they have to put them on the recently renamed DOMESTIC EXTREMIST DATABASE (DED) office. The DED now have no name so as to deter data protection requests from a concerned public. As you will see below, other countries also censure/manipulate data to suit local needs and some countries are more open than others..

I wanted to cover censorship and manipulation in Japan and the USA after the Gulf Oil Spill and Fukushima tragedy but the PR company (OGILVY and MATHER, WPP) that smoothed over the disasters would need its own article.

For now here are some examples of how the manipulation works.

Irradiated Russian region moves to manipulate its Internet image Charles Digges, 29/07-2011[…] Authorities in Chelyabinsk have announced that they will pay the equivalent of $13,000 in order to try to alter the region’s “online footprint” so that people looking for information on Chelyabinsk on the internet read “positive or neutral evaluations of the ecological situation” there. Continue reading

September 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The urgent nuclear energy issue in USA – It’s the water, stupid

According to a 2011 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, water withdrawals vary widely from one type of power plant to another: “On average in 2008, plants in the US nuclear fleet withdrew nearly eight times more freshwater than natural gas plants per unit of electricity generated, and 11 percent more than coal plants.

 When water efficiency is factored into the equation, alternative energy sources, like wind turbines and solar cells, compare more favorably to coal, gas, and nuclear power. 

Treading water, BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS, BY DAWN STOVER | 22 AUGUST 2012In 1954, Lewis Strauss, then chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, gave a speech in which he famously predicted that “our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter.” Whether he was talking about fission reactors or a secret fusion project is unclear, but he was wrong in either case. What did turn out to be too cheap to meter, however, was water.

Unless you have a private well or spring on your property, you probably don’t enjoy free water in your home. But it’s a different story if you’re running a power plant or drilling for oil: The biggest water consumers pay the least for every gallon, and most power plants pay almost nothing at all. Perhaps that’s why so little research and funding is devoted to saving water — far less than is spent on energy efficiency.

This year’s drought, however, is a painful reminder that water is not an unlimited resource. According to the National Climate Data Center, moderate to exceptional drought currentlycovers 64 percent of the contiguous United States. A new study in the journal Nature Climate Change predicts that severe and widespread droughts will continue during the coming decades……

A June 2012 report from the watershed-protection group River Network found that, for every gallon of water used in an average American household, five times as much water is used to provide that same home with electricity.

It takes water to make energy. Coal, gas, and nuclear power plants generate electricity using steam-driven turbine generators. They withdraw surface water from rivers, lakes, or other bodies and use it to cool the steam. Thermoelectric power production has been the largest category of water use in the United States since 1965, and it is currently the fastest-growing user of freshwater. Continue reading

September 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA voters support Obama’s energy policy

Voters Favor Obama over Romney on Energy  By Jen Alic , 28 August 2012 US voters apparently favor President Barack Obama’s energy policy over the energy independence plan unveiled by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to two new polls conducted this week.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 49% of registered voters surveyed preferred Obama’s energy policy, while 41% preferred Romney’s. Voters were specifically asked who they trust more to come through with a successful energy policy.

In the same poll that considered adults who are both registered voters and non-registered voters, 49% chose Obama’s energy plan, while 37% chose Romney’s.

In a separate poll conducted by USA Today/Gallup, 53% of those surveyed preferred Obama’s energy plan, to 40% for Romney. This particular poll was conducted before Romney unveiled his energy independence plan.

On Thursday, Romney unveiled his much-talked-about energy plan, a 21-page white paper that focuses on drilling and makes no mention of climate change and only a vague mention of renewable energy efforts.

Obama’s policy is nearly the flip side, focusing on supporting renewable energy at the expense of fossil fuels, though it is described as an “all-of-the-above” strategy to expand domestic energy production.


September 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Uranium mining from the oceans? It’s just not economical

 “…….. Ocean-mined uranium feasible, but not economical The Street By Resource Investing News 08/29/12 – If uranium buyers can’t find enough U308 on land, perhaps they can turn to the sea; or so say scientists from the University of Alabama and the American Chemical Society. “The ocean actually contains more uranium, although very dilute, than you can find in any land source in total,” said chemist Robin Rogers in a recent news conference, “which means we have a wonderful resource; it’s just always been very expensive to get it out.”

On and off over the past half century, scientists have been researching ways to extract uranium from seawater, but the process has always proved so costly and laborious that no one in the industry took it seriously. The US Department of Energy recently funded a project to develop a more cost-efficient process, and as a result researchers were able to decrease the cost estimate for ocean-mined uranium by over 46 percent to $300 per pound. Unfortunately, that’s five times costlier than traditional mining and a far cry from economical.

September 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear reactors in trouble as climate change affects their cooling systems

How Climate Change May Affect Nuclear Power Plants    August 29, 2012 Many nuclear power plants rely heavily on access to nearby sources of cold water to keep the system cool. Many of these power plants were built several decades ago and some of them are not well prepared for the warmer weather we are now experiencing.

At a twin-unit nuclear power plant in Illinois , temperatures exceeded what is allowed with current regulations by four degrees Fahrenheit.

Craig Nesbit a spokesman for Exelon, which owns the plant, stated the following about the recent incident:

“I’m not a climatologist. But clearly the calculations when the plant was first operated in 1986 are not what is sufficient today, not all the time.”

The cooling pond consists of a 2,500-acre (10 square kilometer) lake. For a cooling system like this to function properly, the heat dumped into the pond eventually has to move somewhere else. The warmer the weather the more saturated the air becomes, which means less energy is transferred away from the cooling pond. In a typical situation, cooling ponds loose their heat during the night, but because the temperatures these days have stayed above 90 degrees, the plant`s cooling system has been compromised. Continue reading

September 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Activist nun in USA has highlighted nuclear security danger

Rent-a-cops Guarding Nuclear Weapons Gary Michael Church  We spend hundreds of billions of dollars, a truly mind boggling amount of money, on defense.
Yet we guard the most dangerous material on Earth with faulty electronic devices and poorly trained private security guards.

Do we imagine that other nuclear nations are doing a better job than we are?
Do we, as citizens of the U.S., realize what would happen if terrorist bombs began destroying our cities?

“Thomas D’Agostino, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Energy Department branch responsible for U.S. nuclear weapons, said changes were underway after the incident.”

I am surprised he still has his job. If a natural disaster can cause a catastrophe like Fukushima, what could be accomplished intentionally? Nuclear power plants, with their pools of spent fuel rods, are prime targets for nuclear terrorism.
Destroying a Nuclear power plant with a nuclear weapon would give you two for the price of one. Pick the right day with the wind strong and headed inland and thousands of square miles become uninhabitable.

Several major cities are sited downwind of nuclear power plants.

September 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan’s Nuclear Mafia in charge of the industry and the Fukushima cleanup

The Nuclear Mafia Derails Democracy in Japan Dissident Voice, by Richard Wilcox / August 31st, 2012

End of the day, factory whistle cries, Men walk through these gates with death in their eyes.
– Bruce Springsteen, “Factory

Bring us the living dead. People no one will miss.
– Fukushima official’s request to Yakuza

TEPCO’s involvement with anti-social forces and their inability to filter them out of the work-place is a national security issue … Nuclear energy shouldn’t be in the hands of the yakuza. They’re gamblers and an intelligent person doesn’t want them to have atomic dice to play with.
– Japanese Senator1…. The exploitation of labor at nuclear plants depends on the tools of social engineering, of government, mass media and schools. This is the hidden and shameful side of today’s materialist society and belies our complicity in a criminalized culture.

Inefficient and corrupt employment practices at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP) are prolonging the disaster. Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) outsources 90 percent of the work to subcontractors, mainly utilizing Japan’s criminal syndicates, “the Yakuza.” Japan is still a middle class society and most people will not volunteer for nuclear work. Japan risks running out of workers who have not exceeded their legal radiation limits.

Considered to be “Japan’s largest organized crime group” — who are on the radar of the US Treasury Dept. (another big crime group) — the Yakuza offer a service to society by sopping up its losers and giving them a dodgy occupation….. These short video interviews offer a useful introduction into how the Yakuza operate. Tepco’s relationship with the Yakuza is a cesspool of corruption from the highest to the lowest levels in its organization. “A senior National Police Agency officer, speaking on grounds of anonymity said, ‘TEPCO has a history of doing business with the yakuza that is far deeper than just using their labor.’ ”1 Continue reading

September 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Lynas Corporation has mucked up its rare earths reprocessing project

The radioactive residue produced is the responsibility of the company and if necessary, it will be returned to its place of origin.

And what might be the place of origin’s attitude?

“National legislation stipulates,” the WA minister for mines and petroleum has stated, “that Australia will not accept responsibility for any waste product produced from offshore processing of resources purchased in Australia such as from iron ore, mineral sands, and the rare earths produced by Lynas Corporation”.

“The Malaysian finding that Lynas must take the radioactive waste back to Australia may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back with the Lynas effort. This slight detail requires the governments of both Australia and the state of Western Australia to acquiesce in taking the waste from a plant that should have been built in Australia in the first place but wasn’t

LAMP going out for Lynas, 9 News, by Greg Peel, As recent FNArena articles on the subject of the rare earth metals space have noted, the global race to compete with China on rare earth element (REE) production has now come down to a mere handful of names including two stand-outs, and a big chunk of daylight to third. (See, for example: Rare Earths Done And Dusted? No, It’s Xeno-Time). Those two companies are Molycorp in the US and Australia’s own Lynas Corp . A year ago, it looked like Lynas had moved ahead of Molycorp.

According to research and opinion from REE specialist Hallgarten & Company, that is certainly no longer the case. Indeed, Lynas shareholders may be in some trouble. Continue reading

September 1, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths, uranium | Leave a comment

In USA the nuclear ‘renaissance’ unravels

Unraveling the Nuclear Renaissance MATTHEW L. WALD Power plants are a bit like insect eggs. At the start, there are huge numbers, but few of them make it to adulthood.

The last few days may have seen the demise of two reactor projects that had looked promising a few years ago, when the economy was strong and people worried about the high price of natural gas and the possibility of a price on carbon emissions. But natural gas is at historic lows, carbon charges seem unlikely, and lately neither reactor project has looked likely.

On Wednesday, Exelon Corporation, the nation’s largest nuclear operator,threw in the towel on a planned twin-reactor project in Victoria County in Texas. Continue reading

September 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment