Australian news, and some related international items

Hear Christine Milne destroying Tony Abbott’s campaign against environment and renewable energy

Milne-Chris-smThe Australian Greens
Hear-This-wayGreens respond to Greg Hunt: Christine Milne
The Greens will have a say on whether the carbon tax is repealed if the Coalition wins the election.Hunt-direct-action

Tony Abbott’s plans for the environment are dangerous and extreme: from his determination to gut national environmental protections and hand what’s left to the states, to his double dissolution promise.

We stand up for the environment in Parliament. We’ll stand firm for the Clean Energy Act and for national protection of the places and species that are too precious to lose.

Have a listen to Christine Milne respond to Greg Hunt on ABC Radio National this morning:

May 20, 2013 Posted by | Audiovisual | Leave a comment

Yvonne Margarula’s continued fight against uranium mining on her people’s land

Fifteen years on and still no mine at Jabiluka

Sunday May 19th marks fifteen years since Yvonne Margarula – Senior Traditional Owner of the Mirarr clan – was arrested for ‘trespassing’ on her traditional land at Jabiluka.


In the early hours of May 19th 1998 Yvonne Margarula was arrested along three other Aboriginal people – Jacqui Katona, Christine Christophersen and Reuben Nango – on the Jabiluka mineral lease. The highly controversial proposed Jabiluka uranium mine was under construction at the time of the arrests but development of the mine was eventually halted as a result of the campaign lead by Ms Margarula.

Ms Margarula argued that her protest against the Jabiluka uranium mine was “traditional action taking a modern form” and that her long standing opposition to the mine was fulfilling her duties as a Traditional Owner. However, in an extraordinary court ruling Ms Margarula was found guilty of trespassing on her own land and after appeal was fined $500.

Yvonne’s arrest took place on a shipping container which was the property of the mining company and she was aware of the fact that she may be arrested. This combination of factors was enough to see tens of thousands of years of living culture and connection with land overruled by the imposition of an unwanted mining project. Amidst significant publicity surrounding this ludicrous legal situation, Yvonne’s fine was anonymously paid and legal history was made.

Fifteen years ago Yvonne Margarula stood on her country and said no to unwanted mining just as her father said no to unwanted mining on Mirarr country at Ranger fifteen years before that. The efforts of the Mirarr to protect their country and culture continue. Please support the Mirarr in their continued fight to ensure responsibility at Ranger and to permanently protect Jabiluka.

May 20, 2013 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Toro economic report – uncovering the uranium industry bull

20 May 13,  West Australia’s first planned uranium mine has been put under the spotlight and found lacking in a detailed new economic bull-uncertain-uraniumanalysis.

The viability of Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium proposal has been examined by the independent economic consultancy Economists at Large in a report jointly commissioned by the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA and the office of WA Senator Scott Ludlam.

“It is time for Toro to come clean on the full costs of the Wiluna project”, said ANAWA member Mia Pepper. “Toro’s mine closure plans and costs require particular attention as the project’s viability rests on these.”

“In 2013 ERA – the operator of the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu – estimated closure costs at $640 million. Even if you half that and half that again for this small low grade project, mine closure estimates are still around $150 million – we are yet to hear full details from Toro about this cost.”

The report outlines that for Toro to achieve a positive Net Present Value would require the convergence of a range of external scenarios including low mine closure costs, structural changes in the long term uranium contract price, a drop in Australian exchange rates, cost easing in the mining sector and better efficiency in mining, milling and recovery rates so the project proceeds on time, within budget and without technical snags. The chance of all these factors occurring is very low.

“The Toro project represents risk at every stage”, said Mia Pepper. “It is a risk to the environment at Lake Way, a risk to shareholders and investors and a risk to WA tax payers. This report confirms that the economics of the project are volatile and uncertain – however it is certain that the project will remain strongly contested”.

“From people taking action on country – like the seventy committed people walking through the region in opposition to uranium mining right now – to sounding the alarm in the board room, this flawed mine plan will be contested. The Toro Energy plan has never made sense and this report shows that it also won’t make dollars”.

The author of the report, Roderick Campbell, economist with Economist at Large, is available for comment on 0438503249.


May 20, 2013 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Photovoltaic colar cell printing – just like printing on a T shirt – an Australian first!

Aust-sun“We’re using the same techniques that you would use if you were screen printing an image on to a T-Shirt,” he says.

see-this.wayVIDEO Printing Australia’s Largest Solar Cells  20 May 13, Scientists have produced the largest flexible, plastic solar cells in Australia – 10 times the size of what they were previously able to – thanks to a new solar cell printer that has been installed at CSIRO. The printer has allowed researchers from the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) – a collaboration between CSIRO, The University of Melbourne, Monash University and industry partners – to print organic photovoltaic cells the size of an A3 sheet of paper.

According to CSIRO materials scientist Dr Scott Watkins, printing cells on such a large scale opens up a huge range of possibilities for pilot applications.

“There are so many things we can do with cells this size,” he says. “We can set them into advertising signage, powering lights and other interactive elements. We can even embed them into laptop cases to provide backup power for the machine inside.”….. Continue reading

May 20, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Lack of health regulation for workers in Australia’s overseas uranium mines?

eyes-surprisedComment on article  Man loses sight due to Kayelekera radiation rshaba , 20 May 13,  Does this mean that Paladin does not offer protective clothing including protective glasses to its employees? This is a no-brainer for someone dealing with radioactive substance business. I am shocked! It seems Paladin is taking advantage in people’s ignorance by not investing in appropriate protection especially for its front-line employees doing the “dirty” work. I could understand if it were a Chinese or Indian based company,

BUT Australian & Canadian based, my foot! Where are the government regulators? This should be a basic issue on their “checklist”: no protection and insurance cover for front-line staff, no business, simple and straight forward. The problem is that once someone has been exposed to radioactivity then whoever or whatever they come into contact with, will indirectly be exposed to radioactivity. Does the Government run regular radioactive on water, foods etc around the area?

May 20, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Paladin Energy blames sub-contractor for poor working conditions at Kayelekera uranium mine

Siliwonde,-Abraham-blind-byMan loses sight due to Kayelekera radiation, SUNDAY TIMES, 19 MAY 2013   KAREN MSISKA  It is all doom and gloom for a Kayelekera Uranium Mine ex-employee who has lost his sight, his job and any means of eking out a leaving to fend for his extended family.

On July 7, 2010, Abraham Siliwonde started working as a labourer at [Australian]  Paladin Africa’s Kayelekera Mine in Karonga bubbling with hope that he would use the remuneration to improve living standards in his household.

But less than three years later, the 31-year-old, along with his six children and five wards from his deceased relatives, is a mere dependent on a small banana business his wife conducts at Karonga town market.

He lost sight in July 2012 and medical examinations have linked his condition, uveitis or inflammation of the uvea – the part of the eye that contains the iris and ciliary body and choroid – to exposure to radioactive chemicals.

Uranium ore is known to be highly radioactive.”In February 2012, I was moved to spotting. This is where one stands and guides the dumpers on where to drop the uranium ore from the pit as it is set to get into the crusher, the first point in uranium processing,” said Siliwonde on Friday.

“I was guiding dumpers carrying high grade uranium ore; the other grades are low and medium. I could feel intense heat from lumps of uranium ore and the next day I would be passing yellowish urine and feeling malarial symptoms.” He said regardless of the gear one puts on while at spotting, they feel the heat being emitted by the uranium ore, stressing “the situation is worsened by supervisors who keep people there longer than more productive.”

He said he was drafted into driving dumpers in January 2012 but by July, he had lost his vision and instead of working, he was a continuous visitor to health facilities seeking to restore his vision. “After a series of visits to the mine clinic at Kayelekera, I was referred to Karonga district hospital where I was further referred to Mzuzu central hospital on 30 November 2012,” he added.

“At Mzuzu Central Hospital, they asked whether I had an eye operation before because they said my eyes had cracks. I underwent strenuous tests but after telling them the environment I was working in, they identified exposure to radiation as the possible cause and referred me to Kamuzu Central Hospital.”

According to medical documents The Sunday Times has seen, Siliwonde’s reference to Kamuzu Central Hospital’s Lions Sight First Eye Hospital was “to determine if patient’s condition may indeed be due to uranium dust exposure.” His situation was not improving even with spectacles. A reference report dated April 15, 2013 indicates that Siliwonde’s acuity (sharpness of vision) for both eyes had slightly improved to 6/36 from 6/60.

A report signed by Dr J Msosa, Chief Ophthalmologist at Lions Sight First Eye hospital, confirms exposure to radiation as the possible cause.

Part of the report reads: “The vitritis (posterior uveitis) may indeed be due to exposure to radiation. It is well known that all radioactive substances can cause radiation retinopathy which appears like posterior uveitis………

“The only source of income is a small banana business my wife conducts. It’s a pity that the situation at Kayelekera is not closely monitored. A lot of people are suffering because they are exposed to radioactive dust blowing from the pit area since the surface is not kept wet as per agreement.”

However, Paladin officials pushed the bucket to one of their contractors. In response to an emailed questionnaire, Paladin Energy Limited’s General Manager – International Affairs, Greg Walker, said Siliwonde was employed by one of their contractors at the mine. He added that the issue has not been brought to Paladin’s attention……

May 20, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Huge write-down in value of Paladin’s Kayelekera uranium mine

uranium-oreKayelekera value cut over weak spot prices THE DAILY TIMES , 17 MAY 2013  THOM KHANJE Australian-uranium miner, Paladin Energy, has slashed a further US$45 million from the value of its Kayelekera Mine in Karonga as poor spot prices of uranium continue to negatively affect its earnings from the mine.

Following the write-down, the mine is now valued at only USid=”mce_marker”40.8 million, down from over US$200 million nine months ago.

graph-downwardIn its financial report for nine months to March 31 released this week, Paladin blamed continued poor uranium prices for the losses.

The spot uranium price, which has been in the doldrums since the 2011 Fukishima nuclear disaster, went down to a three-year low of US$40.75 a pound by the beginning of this week.

Paladin has since reported an overall net loss of US$247.7 million for the nine months, a sharp drop from the USid=”mce_marker”37.7 million net loss for the similar previous period…….

The falling uranium price and reduced production levels at both the Kayelekera and Langer Heinrich Mine in Namibia during the first quarter of 2013 compared to the previous three months, have also led to a fall in Paladin’s stock market value…..

May 20, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Atomic test veteran fights on for justice on radiation exposure

Atomic-Bomb-Lflag-UKFife Christmas Island veteran vows to fight on with campaign By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, 9 May 2013 

A Fife Christmas Island veteran who recently won a legal fight against the Ministry of Defence (MoD), has vowed to continue his fight for “the truth”, despite 12 ex-servicemen losing their appeal to be granted a war pension.

antnuke-relevant Dave Whyte, 76, of Kirkcaldy, told The Courier that, thanks to his recent freedom of information victory over the MoD, he can now “prove beyond doubt” that he was exposed to massive levels of unsafe radiation following the British nuclear tests carried out in the 1950s.He remains adamant the whole situation is a “cover up” by the MoD to protect the civilian nuclear industry.

Mr Whyte took the MoD to court last year for refusing to supply him with information about radiation levels he and thousands of veterans were exposed to while serving in the armed forces. Continue reading

May 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

90% decline in share price for uranium producers ERA, Paladin Energy , and Bannerman Resources

fearCoal, uranium and gold stocks among the hardest hit as good times end BY:ROBIN BROMBY  The Australian   May 20, 2013  “…… Among those hardest hit are coal, uranium and gold. The base metal stocks don’t seem to have suffered to quite the same degree, although few stocks have come off less than about 60 per cent.

Among those with declines of more than 90 per cent since their peak are leading uranium stocks. In their case, their peak was back in 2007. Producer Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has come down from $18.92 then to $1.04 now. Paladin Energy (PDN) hit $10.80 back in 2007 and now sits at 94c. Bannerman Resources (BMN) with its Namibia project was a star back then at a high of $4.14, now at 5.8c…..”

May 20, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Radioactivity in Tokyo river eels ignored by authorities!

Radiation-Warning1flag-japanLocal governments ignore cesium detection in Tokyo river eels, Asahi Shimbun May 17, 2013 By YUSUKE FUKUI/ Staff Writer Tokyo and Chiba local governments took no action for nearly two months after being informed that radioactive cesium had been detected in eels caught in a boundary river between the two prefectures.

Officials of both governments said no independent study was conducted because the eels were not caught by professional fishermen intending to sell the catch.

The detection of the cesium was also not publicized. On March 9, a 47-year-old self-employed woman caught an eel from the Edogawa river in Tokyo’s Katsushika Ward. Concerned about reports that cesium had accumulated downstream in the river, she sent the eel to Hideo Yamazaki, a professor of environmental analysis at Kinki University in Osaka Prefecture. Using a germanium semiconductor detector, Yamazaki found that the eel had 147.5 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, higher than the central government standard of 100 becquerels.

Yamazaki reported his finding to the Fisheries Agency in late March because he felt there was a need for an official investigation to back up his finding as well as further studies to look into the effects on other fish.

Although the Fisheries Agency informed both the Tokyo metropolitan and Chiba prefectural governments about the finding, neither had conducted an official study as of May 16.

An official with the Tokyo metropolitan government’s fisheries division said, “Basically, only fish that enter the distribution network is subject to studies. The eel fishing season also does not start until summer.”….. Yamazaki conducted further studies on four eels caught by the same woman in April and May in the Edogawa river. The eels had cesium levels between 97.4 becquerels and 129.6 becquerels per kilogram, with three of the eels having cesium levels exceeding the central government standard…..

May 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funds Victoria’s revolutionary solar cell printing technology

The Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium is a collaborative effort between CSIRO, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, BlueScope Steel, Robert Bosch SEA, Innovia Films and Innovia Security and is supported by the Victorian State Government and the federally funded Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

sunVIDEO Next Generation Solar Cell Printer In Australia  20 May 13 A new solar cell printer installed at CSIRO in Clayton, Victoria is now cranking out A3-sized flexible solar cells.

The $200,000 printer is the next stage in the evolution of solar cell printing in Australia. In just three years, researchers from the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) have progressed from making cells the size of a fingernail to cells that are now 30cm wide.
Using semiconducting inks, the cells are printed on thin flexible plastic or steel at a rate of up to ten metres per minute or one large cell every two seconds. Current studies have shown stable outdoor performance beyond six months and the consortium anticipates lifetimes of several years will be achievable soon. Current module power output from printed devices is 10-50W per square metre; but over 80W has been achieved on small lab-scale devices.

The technology doesn’t have to be a competitor when it comes to traditional silicon based solar panels. Thin film solar can be used to enhance the efficiency of standard solar panels as the different types of cells capture light from different parts of the solar spectrum.

The researchers have a grand vision for their printed solar cell technology.

“Eventually we see these being laminated to windows that line skyscrapers,” says VICOSC project coordinator and University of Melbourne researcher Dr David Jones. “By printing directly to materials like steel, we’ll also be able to embed cells onto roofing materials.”

A screen printing line is also being installed at nearby Monash University and combined will see Clayton Manufacturing and Materials Precinct one of the largest organic solar cell printing facilities on the planet.

The Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium is a collaborative effort between CSIRO, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, BlueScope Steel, Robert Bosch SEA, Innovia Films and Innovia Security and is supported by the Victorian State Government and the federally funded Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

May 20, 2013 Posted by | solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Declarations of Aboriginal Independence advanced at Brisbane Treaty Talks

Anderson,MichaelDeclarations of Independence advanced at Brisbane Treaty Talks, 20 May 13 Michael Anderson, Convenor of the Sovereign Union of First Nations and Peoples in Australia, said from Brisbane today:

“Having attended a two-day Brisbane Treaty Talks conference and workshops on the continuing sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, I can say that the meeting was one of the best meetings on a single national issue that I have attended for many years.

“Clearly the people are now asking the pertinent questions relating to a process of asserting their continuing sovereignty as individual Nations.

“They expressed their great admiration for the steps taken by the Murrawarri Republic and are now seeking further advice in relation to the processes that were adopted by the Murrawarri People to take this revolutionary action. The participants agreed unanimously to investigate the processes adopted by the Murrawarri Republic and will now make all efforts to follow the same or similar path.

“The participants of the conference and workshops know in their own hearts that this is what their Elders passed have been seeking to achieve. The people are saying that now they need to make a greater effort to achieve what the Murrawarri have. (For those who were unable to attend, the Treaty Talks were webcast live.)

“A number of considerations that were made that will be followed by another meeting  in five weeks time,  when we will further investigate domestic and legal positions that establish the legal foundation of our own statehood under international.

“Again this meeting will be open to all people considering these actions including non-Aboriginal supporters. The suggested date and venue is:

22 – 23 June 2013

Murri School,

1277 Beaudesert Road,

Acacia Ridge, Brisbane Continue reading

May 20, 2013 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Australia’s power utilities blaming home solar, conveniently forgetting subsidy for air-conditioning

solar-on-houseUtilities want higher charges to shade business model from solarREneweconomy, By    20 May 2013The electricity supply industry has resumed and intensified its efforts to change the tariff system for rooftop solar households, in a bid to protect revenues that are falling and their business models that are eroding because more customers are producing their own electricity.

new discussion paper was released this weekend, “exclusively” to News Ltd newspapers which enthusiastically took up the chance to demonise the cost of renewables once again.

The upshot of the paper is that households with rooftop solar are “avoiding” network costs, and these in turn are being passed on to other users, which the electricity supply industry says are mostly less wealthy households.

The ESAA estimated the current total of “avoided” costs at $340 million, or around $30 per household.

To put this into context, this sum is – according to the ESAA’s own data – just one eleventh of the cross-subsidy paid by households with no air conditioning.….. Does the ESAA suggest that air conditioning households should be hit with higher fixed tariffs to pay for network extensions? No, of course not, because the increased use of air conditioners adds to the revenue pool of the electricity industry, and they want to get a return on their grid investment.

The use of solar, however, detracts from the incumbents because rooftop solar households draw less electricity from the grid – leading to the now well documented “death spiral.”

The ESAA wants to arrest this spiral by lifting fixed charges or introducing tariffs for solar households to maintain the revenue pool and protect its business model. This has already begun in several states, and to make itself look like an innocent bystander, the industry has brought the violins to play a song of woe on behalf of the least well off.  But this is not about protecting less wealthy households, it is about protecting the business model of the utilities.

What seems inevitable however is that the industry will one day soon need to change its business model of face the same decline as fixed priced telephony or printed photos. They are fast approaching their Kodak moment……

Solar is causing problems for traditional utilities because it is taking revenue away from the day-time peaks. Extending rooftop solar’s reach into the early evening, and combining it with smart technology, would remove the evening peak as well – and with even more revenue from the incumbent generators, network providers and retailers. But it would certainly reduce costs for customers…….

May 20, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, solar | Leave a comment

Anti nuclear march – thousands rally in Taiwan

protest-Taiwan-2012THOUSANDS IN TAIWAN RALLY AGAINST NUCLEAR POWER Yahoo 7 News, May 20, 2013, TAIPEI (AFP) – Thousands of Taiwanese marched through the capital Taipei on Sunday urging the government to halt construction of a nearly completed nuclear power plant, citing the Japanese atomic crisis.

The demonstrators chanted slogans like “No Nuke for Our Children” during the march which extended for miles as they evoked memories of
the March 2011 Fukushima crisis sparked by an earthquake and tsunami. Continue reading

May 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Radioactive plume moved along surface water from Fukushima to California

map-40-degrees-LatStudy: Concentrated Fukushima radioactive plume staying on narrow path toward U.S. — Moving with surface water along 40 N — Same latitude as Northern California (MAP)
Title: Surface pathway of radioactive plume of TEPCO Fukushima NPP1 released 134Cs and 137Cs
Source: Biogeosciences
Authors: M. Aoyama, M. Uematsu, D. Tsumune, and Y. Hamajima
Date: May 7, 2013

[…] The main body of radioactive surface plume of which activity exceeded 10 Bq m−3 travelled along 40° N and reached the International Date Line on March 2012, one year after the accident. A distinct feature of the radioactive plume was that it stayed confined along 40° N when the plume reached the International Date Line. […]

A distinct feature of the radioactive plume was that it stayed confined along 40 N when the plume reached the International Date Line, as stated in Sect. 3.2. The radioactive plume travelled 1800 km (from 160 E to 178 E) for 270 days (9 months) (Fig. 5); therefore, an average zonal speed (u) of the surface radioactive plume was calculated to be about 8 cm s−1 which was consistent with the speed of the reported surface current of 4–16 cm s−1 in the region (Maximenko et al., 2009). […]

We can also assume that the Fukushima radioactive plume moved with surface water […]
Full study here

May 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment