Australian news, and some related international items

Call to Aboriginal land councils to avoid uranium

Aboriginal land councils urged to avoid uranium Eugene Boisvert 23, 2012 An environmental activist says Aboriginal land councils may apply for permits to explore for uranium because they now don’t have to give permission for exploration on their land.

Natalie Wasley from the Beyond Nuclear Initiative is organising a protest next month, when expressions of interest for the permits close.

The far west is believed to be rich in uranium. Ms Wasley says exploration will inevitably lead to mining, and that the Broken Hill Aboriginal Land Council should have to give permission for mining activity to happen on their land.

“Unfortunately when the exploration laws changed they actually altered the Aboriginal Land Rights Act to say that local councils don’t have to give consent for exploration to go ahead,” she said. “This is a very retrograde move and something that should be very strongly opposed.”  Natalie Wasley from the Beyond Nuclear Initiative says it is unclear
who has applied for the licences, but she believes Aboriginal Land Councils will apply.
“I believe there’s been an expression of interest put in but we’re not sure who’s actually made applications until the application period closes on the 13th of November,” she said.

“There’ll be a rally outside Parliament House on that day where lots of different organisations are sending representatives to say that we don’t want any exploration licences to be granted. The ABC has attempted to contact the Broken Hill Aboriginal Land Council for comment.

October 23, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, New South Wales, uranium | Leave a comment

Podcast: Western Australia uranium mining- far from becoming a reality

Radioactive Show | 12 Oct 2012 Western Australian Environment Minister Bill Marmion has signed off on the Toro Energy Wiluna Uranium Mine in the Goldfields Region of WA. However this is by far not a done deal; Kado Muir, Tradition Owner of the Goldfields region and Mia Pepper, nuclear-free campaigner with the Conservation Council of WA tell us why.File Download (25:13 min / 12 MB)

October 23, 2012 Posted by | Audiovisual | Leave a comment

Senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon move to stop wind farms

 In July 2010, the National Health and Medical Research Council found  that there is no published scientific evidence to support adverse effects of wind turbines on health.

Given their currently significant, and potentially enormous, contribution to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, wind farms should not be held guilty until proven otherwise.

Wind farms: guilty until proven otherwise?, 22 Oct 2012 Albert Yu Recent reports show that coal-fired power stations are finding it difficult to operate in the new market environment with falling electricity demand, a carbon price and the renewable energy target. Meanwhile, as noted by the Productivity Commission last week, wind generation is an “increasingly important source of power” in the National Electricity Market, highlighted by news of the first turbines turning at Australia’s largest wind farm to date, the 420 MW Macarthur wind farm.

As reported on Climate Spectator last month, wind power has allowed South Australia to transform itself from almost entirely being an importer of power from Victoria to being an exporter during high wind periods, whilst significantly reducing the state’s carbon emissions.

On the other hand, sitting before the Senate is the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment (Excessive Noise from Wind Farms ) Bill 2012, introduced on June 28 by Senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon to (in Senator Madigan’s words) “ensure we do not see any expansion in the number of wind farm refugees.” Continue reading

October 23, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, wind | 6 Comments

Hear this ABC radio broadcast on Solar Thermal Power

AUDIO What is ‘solar thermal’, and it is the renewable energy source of the future? 23 October 2012 , 11:03 AM by Sally Rope  We got talking about renewable energy sources yesterday – coming out of the news that Premier Campbell Newman has lifted the ban on uranium mining in Queensland.

We don’t use nuclear energy here in Australia, but it does have some appeal in that it’s a carbon free energy source, but many feel the risks are too great for us to go down that path.

So if coal and oil are on the way out, and nuclear is not an option – what else? Quite a few of our listeners called in to tell us about solar thermal power.

Matthew Wright is the Executive Director of the organisation ‘Beyond Zero Emissions’ who have put together a proposal called the ‘Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan’, and solar thermal is an important part of that plan…

October 23, 2012 Posted by | Audiovisual | 1 Comment

Listen to podcast – hypocrisy of Queensland Premier on uranium mining

AUDIO Letter shows Campbell Newman’s uranium backflip ABC radio AM 23 Oct 12  By Elise Worthington and Stephanie Smail The Australian Conservation Foundation says it received a letter from Queensland Premier Campbell Newman just days ago that stated the Queensland Government had no plans to approve uranium mining.

The State Government yesterday lifted a decades-old ban on uranium mining, setting up a three-member panel to make recommendations on how the change will be implemented.

But in a letter dated October 11, 2012, and sent to the head of the ACF, Don Henry, the Premier reaffirmed statements he made before the Queensland election saying there were no plans to lift the uranium ban Read the letter here

ACF spokesman Dave Sweeney said the decision to give the go ahead to uranium mining was “deeply disturbing,” and accused the LNP of breaking its election promise.

“They said that they were crystal clear that they had no plans or desire to approve or facilitate the development of uranium in Queensland,” he said.

“This is a massive and deeply disappointing about-face that completely lacks a basis in evidence and also runs against community promises and expectation.”…

October 23, 2012 Posted by | Audiovisual | Leave a comment

Today – a hoax about new Fukushima crisis obscures the real peril that continues there

Nuclear Perceptions Fight Reality OpEd News,   By William Boardman, 22 Oct 12,  FUKUSHIMA FREAKOUT OBSCURES REAL ACCIDENT THAT GOES ON AND ON An early morning flurry of internet reports carried scary  — but false — headlines  aboutFukushima  nuclear power plant’s fuel

pools exploding and burning, and releasing massive amounts of radiation on October 22.  Many readers expressed skepticism, as the reports seemed to come from a single, unconfirmed source and by later the same afternoon more responsible websites were labeling the story a hoax .

The Fukushima accident in Japan continues nonetheless, at a slower pace for now, even though one of the more dangerous damaged units has cracks in its walls and is sinking into the ground, as affirmed by nuclear engineer Arnie Gunderson  in his October 21 podcast .

Unit 4 at Fukushima is perhaps the most threatening part of the damaged plant because the unit’s fuel rods are outside the containment where further mishap could lead to the release massive amounts of radiation directly into the environment.

At the time of the earthquake in March 2011, about 100 miles of Japan’s coastline, including the area around Fukushima, dropped about three feet, increasing the impact of the tsunami that destroyed the nuclear  power plant, which continues to deteriorate.

In recent weeks it’s become increasingly clear  that Fukushima Unit 4, with its unprotected fuel rods is continuing to sink  into the ground, and is sinking asymmetrically, creating the possibility that the building will begin to tilt.   The unit sank about 36 inches in March 2011 and has sunk another 30 inches since then, as confirmed by Gunderson.

How Safe Is a Buckled, Sinking Building?……..


October 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Global decline of the nuclear power industry

World Nuclear Industry Status Report maps nuclear power’s global decline A new World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2012, authored by Mycle Schneider with Antony Froggatt and Julie Hazemann, maps the continuing global decline of nuclear power. The report shows that nuclear’s future rests not on new construction, but that “Plant life extension seems the most likely survival strategy of the nuclear industry at this point” – a good reason to continue to block reactor license extensions. The report noted that: “Only seven reactors started up, while 19 were shut down in 2011.” By July 2012, “only two were started up, just compensating for two that were shut down so far this year”. Other highlights:

China is spending five times more on renewables than nuclear post-Fukushima with no new nuclear construction since 3/11; nine reactors have been listed as “under construction” for more than 20 years; four countries – Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan – will phase out nuclear power and five more to date – Egypt, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait and Thailand – have abandoned plans to develop, or re-develop nuclear power; new builds have been canceled in Brazil, France, India and the US; certification of new reactor technologies has been delayed numerous times; in the US, of the 28 license applications received, 16 were subsequently delayed and eight were suspended indefinitely or officially canceled; of the 59 units under construction in the world, at least 18 are experiencing multi-year delays, while the remaining 41 projects were started within the past five years or have not yet reached project start-up dates.

October 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear reactors were kept UNSAFE, so as not to alarm people

Nuclear Perceptions Fight Reality OpEd News,   By William Boardman, 22 Oct 12,  FUKUSHIMA FREAKOUT OBSCURES REAL ACCIDENT THAT GOES ON AND ON   “….Perception of Safety Wins Out Over RealityAs has been widely reported, Tepco has known since 2002 that the Fukushima site was unsafe.  “I actually think they knew in the eighties,” Gunderson commented.   One reason TEPCO didn’t do anything was money, and another was public relations. They didn’t want to create the perception that the site was unsafe, so therefore they kept the site unsafe,” Gunderson said. He explained that they have since acknowledged their behavior and he read from a TEPCO public statement:

“There was a worry that, if the company were to implement a severe accident response plan, it would spur anxiety throughout the country and in the community where the plant was sited, and it would lend momentum to the anti-nuclear movement.”

Similar thinking in the U.S. was revealed by the release of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) study that showed that 34 U.S. nuclear power plants at risk of flooding from dam failures upstream.  Written about six months ago, but classified “not for public disclosure,” the studywas recently made public by a whistleblower.

“So here’s the NRC, America’s nuclear watchdog, doing exactly what Tokyo Electric did, preventing the public from becoming aware of a safety problem, because they don’t want to frighten the public,” Gunderson said.


October 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Report on Queensland Premier’s uranium push, includes opinion poll

Newman’s uranium backflip means money and jobs to him – what does it mean to you? BY:THE AUSTRALIAN, JOHN MCCARTHY, ROBYN IRONSIDE   From:The Courier-Mail  October 23, 2012  “…… Premier Campbell Newman’s announcement yesterday came just 11 days after writing to the Australian Conservation Foundation saying he had “no plans to approve the development of uranium in Queensland” .

Green groups have slammed the move, labelling it dangerous, rushed and made with little or no consultation .

Mr Newman said the backflip was sparked by Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s trip to India to open negotiations on uranium exports, which put the issue back on the agenda…..

the Government is facing criticism it rushed the decision without consultation after going to the polls claiming it had no plans to lift the ban.

Green groups said it took less than 11 days for Mr Newman to change his mind after he wrote to the Australian Conservation Foundation on October 11 stating that the Government’s position was “crystal clear” and it had “no plans to approve the development of uranium in Queensland”……

it is likely that it will take at least four years for any project to get developed because of the strict environmental approvals needed from both the State and Federal governments.

A hazardous materials port would also have to be built to cope with the exports.

Queensland’s last operating uranium mine, Mary Kathleen, about 80km west of Mount Isa, closed in 1982 after 30 years in use.

The Goss Labor government won office in 1989 with a policy of no new uranium mining, an effective ban that has applied ever since.

Ironically on the exact same day in Brisbane in 1977, 371 people were arrested at an anti-uranium protest in Brisbane, including a Labor senator.

October 23, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) needs to be kept

Australian Solar Council Goes Into Bat For Home Solar Support  by Energy Matters, 22 Oct 12, “……..The Australian Solar Council has firmly rejected the call by the Productivity Commission to abolish the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).

“We all know that many more Australians want to install solar panels and solar hot water, but the upfront cost of these systems remains a significant barrier. That is why the SRES is so important and must be continued,” says John Grimes,Australian Solar Council Chief Executive.

“Demand for solar PV has reduced significantly since the solar multiplier was reduced on 1 July, and there are no signs that demand is picking up. The last thing the solar industry needs is more uncertainty.”

The Australian Solar Council is seeking direction and reassurance that the SRES and associated mechanisms are not under threat.

Mr. Grimes says his organisation endorses the view of Giles Parkinson of RenewEconomy who wrote recently that “until organisations such as the Productivity Commission get their mind around solar PV…then we cannot rely on them to make sensible recommendations”.

Under the current timetable, the Solar Credits multiplier is not due to be phased out until July 1 next year. If the Commissions draft recommendations were implemented, that could be brought forward to as early as towards the end of this year.

October 23, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment