Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear news that was this week – Australia

Australian media , naturally, came up with joyous stories about our new great uranium-inspired relationship with India, and also about Julia Gillard falling over, due to her high heeled shoes. Apart from one admirable editorial in The Age, Australians would never read/hear about India’s nuclear unsafety, and its frantic nuclear arms race.

By the way, on the subject of India’s nuclear unsafety, I was surprised that few readers of took an interest in the story about Canada sending back to India the radioactive kitchenware that arrived in Montreal     I wonder if  Australia is getting any radioactive imports from India – India is notorious for its poor control of radiation safety –   perhaps  that would be a modern example of “Pig Iron Bob”?

In the Australian Senate, Greens Senator Ludlam  put ANSTO chief Adi Paterson on the spot, as Paterson wriggled and writhed trying coverup, and deny the 2007 radioactive spill incident at Lucas Heights.  ANSTO hastily puts out more propaganda about Lucas’ Heights “purpose” being nuclear medicine. Other  questions to  Senate committees raised embarrassing matters like the shambles that is Australia’s nuclear non proliferation policy, and India’s poor record.

In harmony with the pro nuclear propaganda about India, Paladin CEO John Borshoff dismissed concerns about Fukushima.  (No doubt this was part of his desperate effort to save Paladin uranium, following its disastrous losses.)

South Australia is to hold a Solar Thermal Energy Parliamentary Enquiry – following huge community enthusiasm  to replace Port Augusta coal generators with solar power.

Coal power is in trouble, 2 coal generators shutting down in South Australia, one in New South Wales, one in Victoria.  The causes – downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices  due slumping electricity demand, the carbon tax and Australia’s Renewable Energy Target. Victoria’s Premier Bailllieu, (friend of Bog Coal) is very annoyed at this.

Western Australia’s  utility scale solar energy 10-megawatt Greenough River project up and running. Nevertheless, Premier Barnett has this week attacked the Renewable Energy Target , and approved the Wiluna uranium project, though it has no adequate water plan, nor closure and cleanup plan – as well as being uneconomic.

Now, something  to be proud of  – Antarctica: AUSTRALIA and France have developed a plan to protect 1.9 million square kilometres of east Antarctica as new marine parks.


October 19, 2012 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Australian media more interested in Julia Gillard’s shoes, than in the dangerous uranium deal with India

 The opening up of nuclear trade with India — first by the US in 2008 and most recently by Australia — has broader implications. It fundamentally changes the proliferation equation for other countries.

 The most dangerous lie peddled by industry and by the Australian and Indian governments is that India has a strong track record of nuclear non-proliferation.

 The Gillard government has no intention of seriously addressing any of the proliferation, safety, security and regulatory problems, nor does it care about the repression and murder of peaceful citizen protesters in India.

India’s Abysmal Nuclear RecordBy Jim Green, New Matilda, 18/10/12

While the media focuses on Julia Gillard’s stumbles, India’s clunker of a nuclear industry stays unexamined. But hey, what’s a bit of nuclear proliferation between friends? Jim Green from Friends of the Earth on the South Asian nuclear arms race

 According to Gemma Bailey, writing in the Australian Financial Review, Prime Minister Gillard has a cunning plan. She will ensure that Australia’s uranium supply treaty with India contains strict conditions on the safe use of the nuclear fuel. The plan, we’re told, “is intended to neutralise opponents who highlight that India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

If only that were true. Here’s Gillard’s real plan: trot out tired old lines about strict conditions and hope that journalists will regurgitate them without question. For the most part, it works. A number of media organisations have run an Associated Press piece which asserts as fact that Australia “sells uranium only … under strict conditions”. Michelle Grattan has twice used her Fairfax column to remind us about John Howard’s cricketing abilities, but she remains silent about the weapons proliferation issues at stake with the uranium deal.

Fairfax’s National Times ran what was essentially a propaganda piece by Professor Amitabh Mattoo from the Canberra-funded Australia India Institute. And the day before Labor’s National Conference debated uranium sales to India last year, the Sydney Morning Herald published a column by the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf downplaying the risk of proliferation. The Lowy Institute — which prominently lists uranium miner BHP Billiton as a funding partner — refused to run a critique of Medcalf’s column on its blog.

 At stake is the nuclear arms race in South Asia and broader, global nuclear proliferation concerns. As Ron Walker, a retired Australian diplomat and former Chair of the Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said last year: “I am horrified that the media have not explained the enormity of this proposal.”

India is at least as culpable as its neighbours in fanning the nuclear arms race in South Asia.

Continue reading

October 19, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, uranium | Leave a comment

CEO dismisses Japanese nuclear disaster to promote Alice Springs uranium mine

CEO dismisses Japanese nuclear disaster to promote Alice Springs uranium mine  The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) says comments attributed to Paladin CEO John Borshoff on the Angela Pamela uranium deposit are disingenuous and insulting to people still suffering from the effects of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

 “Claims that Fukushima is behind us are a gross insult to the intelligence of the public here in Australia and completely misrepresent the situation in Japan. In Japan the ongoing problems from the reactor disasters are far from in a state of ‘clear air’ – the real and political fallout is ongoing,” was the response today from PHAA Spokesperson Clive Rosewarne on reports that the exploration company Paladin was keeping the uranium deposit at Angela Pamela (around 25kms south of Alice Springs) on its proposed projects list.

 “Comments attributed to Paladin CEO John Borshoff in the NT News and on ABC News look like a desperate attempt to talk up an industry to investors who are rightly looking to place their money on better investment options. The price of uranium continues to fall amid growing international rejection of nuclear power by the public and their governments.”

 In July this year the Japanese Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission reported most of the 150,000 evacuees ‘continue to face grave concerns, including the health effects of radiation exposure, displacement, the dissolution of families, disruption of their lives and lifestyles and the contamination of vast areas of the environment.’ And that ‘There is no foreseeable end to the decontamination and restoration activities that are essential for rebuilding communities.’

“The Angela Pamela deposit has been soundly rejected as an option on the doorstep of Alice Springs,” said Mr Rosewarne. In recent NT elections anti-uranium candidates polled strongly – often against the general NT voting trend. He continued, “People in Alice Springs don’t want this project both for its impact locally and because of the events at Fukushima.”

 Preliminary modelling undertaken by PHAA shows that prevailing winds would pose a risk of contamination to residents in the local vicinity, particularly those in the jail, the Joint Defence Facility (Pine Gap) and rural areas.

 “Given the right wind and weather conditions, failure of dust suppression and tailings management at any Angela Pamela mine means people around Alice Springs are at a low but still significant risk of dust exposure. Workers at the Brewer Industrial Estate, prisoners and officers at the Correctional Facility, staff at the Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap and residents of the Iwupataka Homelands face this risk. In Alice Springs itself, workers and tourists at the airport and residents at Amoonguna are at lower risk. The Ilparlpa subdivision carries an intermediate risk. Grazing cattle and station workers in the surrounding country would always be at some risk,” concludes Dr Peter Tait author of the study.

 With their joint venture partner having taken a step back, Paladin CEO Borshoff’s description of the Angela Pamela deposit as a ‘key project’ may reflect more upon his personal attachment to the deposit (he was involved in the early exploration of the site in the 1970-80’s) rather than on the economic or social reality facing the project,” concluded Mr Rosewarne.

 For further information/comment Clive Rosewarne, Spokesperson for PHAA Ecology and Environment Special Interest Group:         0487 282 303

October 19, 2012 Posted by | Northern Territory, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Dr Adi Paterson of Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation upset at being called a lying shit

Nuclear agency boss emotional as whistleblower taunts  By Bianca Hall  THE head of Australia’s nuclear agency briefly broke down at a dramatic Senate estimates hearing yesterday, after an angry whistleblower accused him of covering up a serious incident in which workers were splashed with radioactive material.

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation chief executive Adrian Paterson was comforted by Senators and staff, and refused to leave the room until the man had left the building.

Listening to Mr Paterson give evidence was former ANSTO worker and whistleblower David Reid, who worked at the facility for almost 30 years, including years as his colleagues’ occupational health and safety representative.”You’re a liar,” Mr Reid growled when Mr Paterson finished telling the inquiry he did not believe the incident had occurred.

”You’ve fabricated the findings, covered up safety incidents … you guys covered it over. You’re a lying piece of shit.”

Mr Reid later told The Age he had been sacked after bringing claims of the incident to management. ”It’s trashed my life; I’ve just been obsessed with it. My marriage fell apart, and I lost my house and I’m living in a caravan. But I can’t let it go.”

The fracas centred on an incident that allegedly took place at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights facility in 2007, which has been the subject of multiple inquiries, and remains disputed by all parties involved.

KPMG conducted the most recent investigation into the incident, reporting in June that many current and former ANSTO employees had ”imprecise at best” recollections of the incident. But it found the regulator – the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency – failed to properly investigate the matter and neither its interim, nor final inspection reports, ”sufficiently examined allegations that a contamination incident … occurred”.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam called for ANSTO to apologise to Mr Reid. ”I think what has to happen from here, Mr Reid is clearly owed an apology, but the regulator is going to have to step up.”


October 19, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | 1 Comment

All the way with Gillard and Singh – never mind the danger

PM backs nuclear talks with India, The Age October 18, 2012 Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has praised Julia Gillard’s efforts in reversing Labor’s ban on uranium exports as the two leaders gave the go-ahead to start negotiations on a nuclear safeguards agreement….. Ms Gillard said last night that formal negotiations on a nuclear safeguards agreement, which would allow Australian uranium to be exported to India, “can begin now”. But she has made it clear that it will take a year or two, at least, for any agreement to be finalised, and for exports to begin.

India’s nuclear industry has been fiercely criticised by the country’s auditor-general, who found it was dangerously unsafe, disorganised, and, in many cases, completely unregulated….

October 19, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Julia Gillard and Manmohan Singh in harmony over uranium sale plan

Gillard and Singh on song on uranium, The Age October 18, 2012 Adam Gartrell, AAP  India’s leader has personally praised Prime Minister Julia Gillard for her government’s revised stance on uranium sales and has declared a “new chapter” in the bilateral relationship.

Manmohan Singh and Ms Gillard have formally agreed to start negotiations on a nuclear safeguards agreement to allow Australia to start selling uranium to India….

October 19, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Uranium mining in Western Australia – the Barnett Government’s Betrayal

The Premier has shown his colours this week by attacking the Renewable Energy Target and supporting a half-baked scheme to mine toxic material and sell it to a dangerous industry that is in terminal decline. The Wiluna project makes no sense whatsoever on an economic level as well as an environmental level.

  10 October 2012 The Western Australian Minister for Environment has handed down his flawed decision to approve the Toro Energy Wiluna Uranium Project today. This mine, if not stopped, will be the first uranium mine to open since the change in uranium policy by the Western Australian Government in 2008.

The State Government has failed to place adequate conditions on mine closure for Toro’s Wiluna Project. Toro has not revealed estimates of future mine closure liability and has not submitted a final rehabilitation plan. Despite the scarcity of water in the area, the Minister failed to determine adequate water resource for the life of the mine. Continue reading

October 19, 2012 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Plutonium the killer poison in nuclear wastes, and nuclear reprocessing

 five years of meetings between Soviet and American scientists from the Federation of American Scientists about what to do with the separated plutonium. There is a tremendous pressure to use it. . . . It is as if we don’t know what to do with this unless we make it serve us, and that is exactly what I am beginning to think, that we cannot ask of the poison fire. If we want to make it serve us, it will kill us

Nuclear Guardianship The Search for New Perspectives  Lecture by Joanna Macy reprinted with permission from Poison Fire, Sacred Earth,  TESTIMONIES, LECTURES, CONCLUSIONS,  THE WORLD URANIUM HEARING, SALZBURG 1992 pages 256-258

To call this stuff “waste” is a misnomer, it is hardly an accurate term, because the strange and almost mythic character of the poison fire — uranium — and our processing of it has been that at every stage of the fuel cycle, everything that we have employed, every glove, every boot, every truck, every reactor, every facility, every mine, every heap of mill tailings, everything becomes not only contaminated, but contaminating.

And governments and industry and scientists themselves don’t know what on earth to do with it. They don’t know what to do with this stuff, and it is our most enduring legacy. They say they have a final solution to bury it in the ground in deep geological disposal, hiding it out of sight and out of mind, as if the earth were dead, as if the earth were not a living being, shifting with underground waters and seismic activities, as if the containers themselves could outlast a generation, which they cannot!

For nothing lasts as long, no container lasts as long as the poison fire itself. And it will leak out and out to contaminate. Continue reading

October 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fossil fuels just a back up for wind and solar energy?  By   18 October 2012 The head of one of the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturers has expressed his surprise at the public debate around health concerns over wind energy in Australia, saying it does not happen elsewhere. Continue reading

October 19, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

South Australia to hold Parliamentary Enquiry into Solar Thermal Energy for Port Augusta

Solar Thermal Energy Parliamentary Enquiry For South Australia by Energy Matters The efforts by supporters of the construction of a solar thermal power station in Port Augusta, South Australia have paid off.

SA Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said a select committee will research a proposal to replace Alinta Energy’s Northern and Playford coal-fired power stations at Port Augusta with a concentrated solar thermal plant. Continue reading

October 19, 2012 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Solar panels, energy efficiency, high utility prices, are causing slump in demand for coal powered electricity

Power industry in the dark as demand wilts WA Today October 19, 2012 – “…… Demand slump The process itself is clear enough. Higher prices are prompting people to use less power, whether at home or at work. The higher dollar has forced some energy-intensive manufacturers to reduce output or shift abroad.

Solar panels sprouting on roofs at the pace of about 300,000 homes a year and more insulation batts underneath them are also curbing demand, particularly at peak times. Buildings are also much more energy efficient. Continue reading

October 19, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | 2 Comments

India’s much trumpeted nuclear reactor construction binge has fizzled out

India’s much trumpeted nuclear reactor construction binge has fizzled out… in the next five years we should not
expect any shipments from Australia.

The India-US nuclear deal had one aspect of tacit proliferation built into its structure – the horizontal proliferation of knowledge from the civilian to the military

As a result while all kinds of water-tight restrictions were placed on the transfer of materials and power, none was placed on the movement of scientists. This of course was well known, the point was to acquire French reprocessing technology – ostensibly for civilian purposes but then to duplicate the same to improve India’s reportedly dismal weapons material reprocessing.

The scary state of Indian reactors, their safety and security has long been whispered about – but was blown apart by the CAG’s indictment a few months back.

Julia’s Nuclear Tango – Analysis
 IPCS October 18, 2012 By Abhijit Iyer‐Mitra As expected, nuclear negotiations took centre stage during Australian
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s visit to Delhi. Much talk of cultural links owing to the English language, cricket, a Westminster style parliament was bandied about. While Australia insists on a multifaceted engagement to build deep interdependencies, India sees only its one point agenda in all of this and has held ties hostage to the supply of Uranium. While opinions in Delhi seem optimistic many factors point to need for a hard reality check. Continue reading

October 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian uranium sales to India, fraught with hypocrisy and danger

If we really want to assist Indian communities who currently lack access to electricity – and we should – it would be far more effective to prioritise exporting Australian expertise in regional renewable energy systems.

the admission this week from India’s own auditor that the country’s nuclear industry is “dangerously unsafe, disorganised and, in many cases, completely unregulated” – only compounds   concerns.

When Australian uranium leaves our waters it effectively disappears from the radar. This is a profound concern for a fuel that can power either nuclear reactors or nuclear weapons. High-level Indian officials have stated that they need to source uranium from overseas in order to free up their own uranium for military purposes

No smooth passage to India for Australian uranium DAVE SWEENEY, ABC 18 OCT 2012 PRIME MINISTER JULIA GILLARD is in India this week and amid the staged handshakes and solemn exchanges of signed papers.  The uranium sales plan is being heavily promoted. But there is growing concern both here and in India about the implications of the move and the fast-tracking of nuclear-armed India into the global atomic club.
No doubt Julia Gillard will be employing the age-old tactic of highlighting a problem that no reasonable person could ignore and then seeking to ‘own’ the solution. Proponents of the sales deal point to the estimated 200 million Indians who do not have reliable access to electricity as a rationale for the sales deal. But to link Australian yellowcake with lights and cookers in remote Indian villages is to draw a very long bow. Continue reading

October 19, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment