Australian news, and some related international items

Paul Langley investigates Australian govt’s cover-up of Maralinga atomic radiation deaths.

highly-recommendedA Message to Australians from the British Government Paul Langley’s Nuclear History Blog 25 May 13 “The Royal Commission does not answer the questions that arise from the deaths and injuries resultant from the repeated nuclear bombing of Australia by Britain.”

Dr Cutter of the Aboriginal Health Service, Alice Springs, testified that mass deaths of Aboriginal people occurred at the time. There are reports of mass graves. Britain took 10 years to not answer the question of the location of the mass graves….”

Maralinga signChristina Macpherson 25 May 13,  I highly recommend this article, in which  Paul Langley reports on his own research into the effects of the Black Mist fallout cloud of 1953. One court case proved injury to a claimant, but the legal proceedings in this case have been suppressed from the record.

Langley has first-hand witnesses of the radiation injuries, to civilians and military, and of government suppression of information on this.

Yet by 2006 the higher rate of cancer among nuclear test veterans was confirmed by the government’s own survey.
Langley’s efforts to uncover the facts about Aboriginal victims’ health, following exposure, were met with blocking. Yet Langley knew that documents did exist, discussing this, in correspondence between Senator Chaney and the South Australian Health Commission.

He reports that all the medical records of the Maralinga radiation victims treated at Port Augusta hospital have mysteriously disappeared, as have also exposure dose records of all Australian Service Personnel. Langley assumes that these records do exist, but are now held in the UK, by the Ministry of Defence.

Langley’s conclusion – “the Australian government was a fifth column in this nation on behalf of the British government.”

May 25, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

NT trade unions join Traditional Owners to protest Muckaty radioactive waste dump.

Muckaty24 May 13Six years and still standing strong:   NT Union members will join Traditional Owners and supporters from across the Territory in Tennant Creek this weekend for a rally against the proposed national radioactive waste dump at Muckaty in the Northern Territory. The rally and concert will mark exactly six years since the Northern Land Council voted to nominate the site.

In May 2012 the Australian Council of Trades Unions National Congress unanimously voted to support the Muckaty campaign. Bryan Wilkins, NT Organiser for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union said, “NT Unions handsoffare standing in solidarity with Traditional Owners and communities to resist the federal government plan for a radioactive waste dump. We will continue to campaign against any legislation that targets the Muckaty Land Trust, or any site in Australia for a nuclear waste dump that is not based on recognised scientific and international best practice.”

Muckaty Traditional Owners and the community in Tennant Creek remain resolutely opposed to the national radioactive dump being built. Muckaty Traditional Owner Dianne Stokes said, “It’s been six years of big struggle for Warlmanpa and Warumungu people. We are still standing strong. We are saying that we still don’t want the waste to come to Muckaty Land Trust.”

“Tomorrow will be a big day for us mob, the Traditional Owners of the Muckaty. We are happy that we have people traveling to Tennant to join us for the rally against the nuclear waste. We also have unions coming along and we are looking forward to meet these people. We will march together to stand up strong and tell the NLC and the government to back down and leave us alone.”

Beyond Nuclear Initiative coordinator Natalie Wasley added, “The nomination of Muckaty by the NLC and the dogged pursuit of the site by successive Federal Ministers are being challenged on the ground as well as in the federal court. It is highly disappointing that while the court is scrutinising the original nomination process, the NLC is preparing to nominate a new site on Muckaty for assessment. The process of managing radioactive waste must be transparent and include all stakeholders. We urge Federal Resources Minister Gary Gray to step away from the highly contested Muckaty plan and initiate an Independent Commission into radioactive waste management.”


May 25, 2013 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, Opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Report shows that Malawi gets a raw deal from Paladin’s KAYELEKERA URANIUM MINE

THE CASE OF PALADIN’S KAYELEKERA URANIUM MINE: REPORT RELEASED ON THE REVENUE COSTS AND BENEFITS TO MALAWI, Mining in Malawi, 23 May 13 The Australian mining company Paladin Energy and its subsidiaries along with the Malawi-based Kayelekera Uranium Project, in which it has an 85% stake, were the subject of much discussion this evening in Lilongwe at the launch of the report The Revenue Costs and Benefits of Foreign Direct Investment in the Extractive Industry in Malawi: The Case of Kayelekera Uranium Mine. The report explores what it describes as Malawi’s largest Foreign Direct Investment* and the extent to which Malawi is benefiting. It concludes that ”Malawi is getting a raw deal from the mining and exploitation of uranium by Kayelekera Mine”…….


At the launch of the report, Dalitso Kubalasa and Collins Magalasi, the executive directors of MEJN and AFRODAD respectively, spoke briefly before AFRODAD’s Tafadzwa Chikumbu presented the research findings. This paved the way for a lively question and answer session with questions raised about whether or not parliament is ready to renegotiate the terms of the agreement with Paladin, what has happened to the man who lost his sight due to “kayelekera radiation” and if mining revenue in Malawi therefore “dirty money”.

This discussion was followed by the official launch of the report by the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Juliana Mphande who exclaimed that she was “appalled to note that incentives offered to Paladin have severe implication to Government revenue and require attention of parliament”. She outlined the areas requiring parliamentary investigation and debate…..

Below is a summary of the main findings: Continue reading

May 25, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Ocean life – wide radioactive contamination from Fujushima

radiation-in-sea--food-chaiJapan Radiation Widely Contaminates Pacific Marine Life  24 May 13Traces of radioactive cesium from Japan’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have been found in water and plankton collected
from all 10 points monitored across a vast stretch of the western Pacific.

The isotopes cesium-134 and cesium-137 were found in the tiny plantlike creatures from the coast of Japan’s Hokkaido Island to Guam.

The samples were taken early last year, less than a year after the tsunami that overwhelmed the plant, but the findings were just
announced at a meeting of the Japan Geoscience Union.

Cesium-134 has a half-life of two years while it takes 30 years for cesium-137 to decay by half. Scientists say the isotopes were being dispersed across the Pacific in plankton, and were accumulating up the food chain as the tiny creatures were eaten by larger marine life.
Further studies are being conducted to see how much cesium was building up in fish and possibly marine mammals.

Radiation was flushed into the Pacific after three meltdowns occurredat the Fukushima nuclear plant. More than two years after the March 2011 disaster, plant operators are struggling to contain the 400 tons of radioactive water poured over the melted cores of reactors 1, 2 and 3 to prevent the fuel from melting and burning again.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian Greens’ practical plan for an Energy Savings Agency

greensPolitics of solar: Milne, Hunt and the CEFC, REneweconomy, By   24 May 201The politics around solar, and the renewable energy target, and enabling bodies such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation continue to get murkier as the election approaches. Attendees at the Solar 2013 conference in Melbourne got a taste of it on Friday as various politicians swaggered into the conference. Investment certainty is craved, and promised. But it remains elusive.

Greens leader Christine Milne delivered the only new initiative, saying she wants to establish a new federal government agency – the Energy Savings Agency – that she says will lower electricity bills, save energy and reduce emissions.

She says the Energy Savings Agency will have three priorities – focusing on reducing demand in peak periods, striking a minimum and compulsory “fair price” for electricity generated by consumers and exported to the grid, and designing a national energy efficiency scheme, something that Labor has talked about but failed to deliver.

Milne-Chris-smMilne proposes providing $400 million over 5 years in incentives to reduce demand, which she says could deliver $1 billion in energy savings. The national EE scheme would look to combine and expand the three state-based schemes currently in operation.

She said the agency will make Australia’s energy system fairer, cheaper and cleaner. “The Federal and State Governments have failed to prevent unnecessary spending on new electricity poles and wires,” Senator Milne said. “Make no mistake, several state governments want to maximise profit from their electricity assets. Selling less electricity is not in their interest which is why reform of the energy market is too slow and why intervention is vital.”

“We need an independent agency to provide information, analysis, advocacy and financial support to help remove the barriers to cheaper and cleaner energy options.”

Senator Milne said the proposal has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office and will cost $405 million to run each year.

The case of over-investment in the grid was one taken up by Oliver Yates, the CEO of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which has $10 billion in funds to invest – for a commercial return – in emerging renewable technologies, and which is likely to be a major catalyst of big solar and other significant renewable projects.

Yates said that the $40 billion spent on the grid in recent years had provided a “miserable” outcome for consumers. A study to be released soon by the CEFC will conclude that a minimal amount had been spent on demand management – despite numerous studies saying that these could have saved billions of dollar in investment, and thousands of dollars to individual households.

“Rather than writing off expenditure  … there is a real risk that these costs will get pushed onto retail and commercial customers that produce electricity,” Yates said. This would be bad for the solar industry.


May 25, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, election 2013, energy | Leave a comment

Doctors speak out on conflict of interest between State economic priorites, and public health

Doctors say big South Australian projects show little regard for health , Adelaide Now, 23 May 13 STATES show “scant regard for human health” by letting polluting projects with potentially deadly consequences to go ahead, doctors say.

A report from Doctors for the Environment Australia points to the Port Augusta power station, the deferred Olympic Dam expansion and the Port Pirie lead smelter as examples of industrial developments approved without adequate checks.

Environment Minister Ian Hunter said the State Government was working on the National Plan for Clean Air and its own framework to manage air quality.

DEA spokesman Dr David Shearman said SA was listening to their concerns more than in other states…… The DEA report claims state governments have a “conflict of interest between budget bottom line and the health of their citizens” and calls for a federal environmental protection agency to oversee health impact assessments, or at least national laws that enforce a higher standard for the states.

Spokesman David Shearman said projects were given the go ahead without factoring in the social and financial costs of the pollution.

“It is clear that state government approvals of coal and coal seam gas projects are often influenced by potential economic gain without thorough assessment of potential harms,” he said. ….

May 25, 2013 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Indigenous cultures and the future – World Indigenous Network Conference

nuke-indigenous.1The heavy footprint of the mining sector is compounded by the legal limitations of the native title regime, the often controversial and secretive nature of mining agreements and the fact that the cards are heavily stacked against the Aboriginal people who are concerned about or would prefer to see no mining on their country.

Selling the future short ANDREW PICONE ABC Environment 24 MAY 2013 Mining offers great hope for many Indigenous communities, with promises of jobs and schools. However Australia’s traditional owners should not sell themselves short of a future. “…….Next week in Darwin, Indigenous land owners, environment groups and other stakeholders from around the world will come together to address some of these burning issues at the World Indigenous Network 2013 conference. The conference comes at a key moment because across Australia, particularly in the north, there is an increasing number of collaborations between Indigenous Australians and conservationists, occurring alongside Australia’s mining boom.

Indigenous peoples from places as diverse and distant as Egypt, Mongolia, Lappland, Ecuador and all over Asia Pacific and representatives from communities right across Aboriginal Australia will share stories and strategies about a broad range of land and sea management issues and to celebrate healthy country and strong cultures. Continue reading

May 25, 2013 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Australian study shows increase in cancer among children who had CT scans

CT Scans May Increase Cancer Risk in Children, Adolescents Larry Hand May 23, 2013      Children and adolescents who undergo computed tomography (CT) scans may be at greater risk of developing cancer compared with individuals who do not, according to a study published online May 21 in the British Medical Journal. However, the absolute risk for all cancers is relatively low.John D. Mathews, MBBS, MD, PhD, DSc Hon, DMedSc Hon, professor of epidemiology at the School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, Australia, and colleagues analyzed the records of children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years who were included in the Australian Medicare database between January 1, 1985, and December 31, 2005. They followed the study population through electronic linkage to the Australian Cancer Database and the National Death Index through December 31, 2007. Continue reading

May 25, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

In 102 countries, solar power is as cheap as the grid power, and costs still falling

Graph of the Day: Solar grid parity in 102 countries   By  on 24 May 2013 Here’s an interesting graph used by Suntech’s Stuart Wenham (sourced from Applied Materials) during a presentation at the Solar 2013 conference in Melbourne on Thursday. It highlights the extent of “grid parity” for solar PV across the world – it is now in 102 countries.


This definition of “grid parity” is the cost of rooftop solar versus the cost of electricity sourced from the grid – this is sometimes known as “socket parity”. Most of the countries – though not all – are those with good solar resources and relatively high electricity pricesAustralia reached “socket parity” several years ago.

Wenham says that solar PV will fall a further 50 per cent in costs up to 2020 – see our story today. He says that solar PV at a utility level will also challenge fossil fuels – as it already does in those with high gas and diesel costs, and will offer the cheapest avenue to countries which have little electricity infrastructure.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

VIDEO: the award-winning solar wheelchair

see-this.wayVIDEO Solar Powered Wheelchair Wins Award  25 May 13 A team from University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science recently won first place in a 2012 World Cerebral Palsy Day competition for their solar powered wheelchair design.

We first reported on solar wheelchairs back in 2010, when Haidar Taleb had just begun a journey to take him across the United Arab Emirates.

Inspired by roofs on convertible cars, the lightweight solar panels on the U.Va. team’s wheelchair are retractable and don’t significantly add to its length, width, height or weight when stored. A system of hinges on both sides of the chair controls the deployment of the solar panels. The three panels have a conversion efficiency of 15% and a capacity of 160 watts. When fully deployed, the custom solar panels cover an area of over one square meter. The wheelchair can operate for more than 4.5 hours at a speed of 8 kilometres per hour on a fully charged lead acid deep cycle battery, a range increase of more than 40 percent over batteries alone. At a speed of 1.6 km/h and suitable light exposure, the wheelchair and can run “indefinitely”; without needing to utilise battery power.

Built with lightweight materials, while the system may look fragile, it has been designed to operate under conditions more extreme than would be experienced in normal use. The panels and retractable mechanisms account for less than 15% of the completed wheelchair’s unoccupied weight.

Anyone with enough physical dexterity to use a joystick can operate the chair; including retracting and deploying the solar panels. In addition to standard features common to this type of wheelchair, USB power outlets are provided that can power a wide range of small devices.

In a wonderful display of generosity, the team will use their prize money to perform some final tweaks to the chair give it the individual in Turkey who submitted the initial suggestion for a solar-powered wheelchair.
The remaining prize money will be returned to United Cerebral Palsy in support of future World CP Day competitions.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Book: A Short History of Nuclear Folly

Book-nuclear-follyA Short History of Nuclear Folly [Hardcover]

Release date: April 30, 2013
In the spirit of Dr. Strangelove and The Atomic Café, a blackly sardonic people’s history of atomic blunders and near-misses revealing the hushed-up and forgotten episodes in which the great powers gambled with catastrophe

Rudolph Herzog, the acclaimed author of Dead Funny, presents a devastating account of history’s most irresponsible uses of nuclear technology. From the rarely-discussed nightmare of “Broken Arrows” (40 nuclear weapons lost during the Cold War) to “Operation Plowshare” (a proposal to use nuclear bombs for large engineering projects, such as a the construction of a second Panama Canal using 300 H-Bombs), Herzog focuses in on long-forgotten nuclear projects that nearly led to disaster.

In an unprecedented people’s history, Herzog digs deep into archives, interviews nuclear scientists, and collects dozens of rare photos. He explores the “accidental” drop of a Nagasaki-type bomb on a train conductor’s home, the implanting of plutonium into patients’ hearts, and the invention of wild tactical nukes, including weapons designed to kill enemy astronauts.

Told in a riveting narrative voice, Herzog—the son of filmmaker Werner Herzog—also draws on childhood memories of the final period of the Cold War in Germany, the country once seen as the nuclear battleground for NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries, and discusses evidence that Nazi scientists knew how to make atomic weaponry . . . and chose not to.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Resources | Leave a comment

PODCAST: USA’s very dangerous zone, old leaking radioactive tanks at Hanford

Hear-This-wayGreat Haste Made Great Waste at Hanford
 Expert: “Incipient collapse” of radioactive waste tanks possible at U.S. nuclear site (AUDIO)

Title: Great Haste Made Great Waste at Hanford
Source: Fairewinds Energy Education
Date: May 22, 2013
Nuclear policy expert Robert Alvarez: Not much attention is paid to the fact that these tanks [at Hanford] that are holding these wastes, they’re decades old.

Most of them were constructed from the 40s-60s, over a third of them have leaked, and their structural integrity really leaves much to be desired.

By the time we get around to removing the contents of these wastes and ultimately stabilizing them, these tanks could go in to a state of incipient collapse.
Full report here

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Greg Hunt and the Liberal Coalition’s plans to sabotage renewable energy

ballot-boxSmPolitics of solar: Milne, Hunt and the CEFC, REneweconomy, By   24 May 2013  “……The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC)  this week released its investment policies, which include as a rough guideline a minimum $20 million investment by the agency, and targeting projects of around $200 million.

But the CEFC is now the subject of a fierce political battle, with the Coalition repeating its vow to not just disband the CEFC, but also to dishonour contracts entered into by the CEFC, and to repatriate money not spent by the time the “caretaker” period ahead of the September poll begins on August 12.

Hunt-Greg-climateCoalition climate spokesman Greg Hunt spoke to the audience about the need for investment certainty and removing sovereign risk, but the Coalition’s two biggest policy proposals – removal of the CEFC and having yet another review of the renewable energy target in 2014 – are creating just that…..

Hunt was asked three times to clarify his position on the RET, and whether that included support for the 41,000GWh target. To which he replied each time, “we are committed to the 20 per cent target, and have proposed no changes.”

But despite his desire to have “investment certainty”, he reiterated the Coalition’s preference to have a 2-yearly review rather than a four yearly review recommended by the Climate Change Authority – and endorsed although not yet legislated by the government. It is this very prospect of yet another review in a year’s time – and the fear of a more favourable response to the utilities’ demands to lower the fixed target in response to falling demand – which is currently stalling investment.

He also repeated his intention to disband the CCA, as well as the various clean technology programs which had been facilitating investment in rooftop solar and energy efficiency programs on commercial rooftops – a program that has been warmly embraced by the manufacturing sector….

May 25, 2013 Posted by | election 2013 | Leave a comment