Australian news, and some related international items

Northern Territory Chief Minister’s secret support for Territory nuclear dump

exclamation- Territory and National environment groups have called for NT Chief Minister Adam Giles to come clean on his secret support for a Territory waste dump in the wake of revelations by former-Prime Minister Bob Hawke made public today. Mr Giles has previously refused to state his position on the controversial proposal to dump Australia’s nuclear waste at Muckaty, 120 kms north of Tennant Creek until the matter had been settled in a Federal Court trial due to start in June.

Former-PM Minister Bob Hawke has claimed that Giles is “an ardent supporter” of an international dump for high-level nuclear waste in the Territory.  The news is an unwelcome announcement to Muckaty Traditional Owners, the Barkly community and Territory health, environment and trade union groups on the eve of a mass community rally in Tennant Creek on May 25.


Lauren Mellor, Nuclear Free NT Campaigner at the Environment Centre NT, said: “The Chief Minister should be fighting Canberra’s plan to make the Territory Australia’s waste dump, not secretly promoting the Territory as the world’s nuclear dump.”

Dr Jim Green from Friends of the Earth said: “The plan to impose a national nuclear waste dump on the Territory is a national disgrace. The Chief Minister cannot even demonstrate that the Territory can safely manage a uranium mine, with processing at Ranger suspended following a serious industrial accident last year.”

Natalie Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative convenor said: “The Muckaty proposal does not have scientific basis, or social licence to go ahead. Muckaty was not short listed in a national site selection study and people across the Territory have been campaigning against the dump for almost 9 years, since the first proposed sites were announced. We call on Chief Minister Giles to publicly state his position on this important issue so his constituents across the Territory are clear where he stands.”

A community rally in Tennant Creek is planned for May 25, marking 7 years since the Muckaty site was nominated by the Northern Land Council. The Federal Court trial will begin on June 2 with hearings in Melbourne, Tennant Creek and Darwin.

Muckaty Traditional Owners and NT environment, health and trade union groups have launched a television advertising campaign calling for waste dump plans to be scrapped:

For media comment please call:

Lauren Mellor, Environment Centre NT: 0413 534 125

Dr Jim Green, Friends of the Earth: 0417 318 368

Natalie Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative: 0429 900 774 (Tennant Creek)

May 21, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

Under the Abbott government Australia is flying blind on climate chnage

Liberal-policy-1The budget shows we’re now flying blind on climate change The Conversation,  Michael Raupach Professor at Australian National University 21 May 14The word “climate” was conspicuously absent from Joe Hockey’sfirst budget speech as treasurer. It’s not hard to guess why – the full budget sets out major cuts to climate research, andstrong moves against renewable energy programs, such as scrapping the Australian Renewable Energy Authority.

Together, these moves send the strong signal that we are weakening our capacities for both climate knowledge and responses to climate change. As a result, we are increasingly flying blind.

Does this reflect a change in the way in which we, as a society, perceive the risks of climate change? It’s an important question, because although political appetites for action may wax and wane, the laws of nature cannot be repealed.

What the science says

Let’s start with the evidence. The scientific community has just released the landmark Fifth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), confirming and extending previous IPCC reports in 2007, 2001, 1996 and 1990.

In snapshot, the findings are that warming and other climate changes have occurred through the 20th century, mainly because of emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by human activities; these changes will continue and accelerate with increasing emissions; and major reductions in emissions are needed over coming decades if we are to significantly reduce dangers from global warming and other impacts.

The observational evidence and models are clear and in agreement on these broad conclusions. This is a scientific consensus in the true sense; not the outcome of a vote, but the outcome of an effort to discern how nature works………..

The choices on offer

Broadly speaking, our options for responding to climate change can be drawn from two boxes: one marked “do something about it”, the other marked “live with whatever happens”. At this highest level, that’s it: no other boxes are available……….

Knowledge is critical

Whatever value judgements people and their politicians make about climate change, we urgently need knowledge. Gathering knowledge is not easy: it demands diversity, experimentation, and a willingness to fail many times before success is achieved. We need to continue monitoring our changing Earth, including both its natural functioning and the profound ways that we are influencing it.

We need to design strategies for responding to change: doing the painstaking engineering and development of renewable energy systems, working out how to adapt our farms and landscapes, and increasing the energy efficiency and robustness of our towns and cities.

Knowledge is essential because the pace of change is so great that we are creating a world that we do not know, and we need to understand and learn how to live with it even as we shape it. And that, in the larger picture, is why it is not sensible to fly blind.

May 21, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The beautiful giant cuttlefish is back – thank goodness no desalination plant at Spencer Gulf

Here is some good news.   Note that if BHP Billiton’s plans had gone ahead – for the world’s biggest man made hole at Olympic Dam – well, this news might not have been possible.  BHP’s grandiose plan involving building a desalination plant at Mount Lowly. That would have altered the delicate balance of salinity and fresh water in upper Spencer Gulf  – a balance that is essential for the embryo cuttlefish to survive.

Australia would have lost a unique and beautiful  animal – one as special as the koala, kangaroo, platypus –  –  a gain for the uranium industry, a loss for the tourist industry, and for Australia’s ecology.


Giant Australian cuttlefish swarm back to SA Spencer Gulf breeding site ABC News, 21 May 14, Hundreds of giant Australian cuttlefish have swum into breeding grounds at the top of Spencer Gulf in South Australia, reversing a worrying decline of recent years.

The population had been dwindling and local diver Tony Bramley says he had not been expecting to see any this season, based on that trend.

He says it has been warmer-than-usual weather for the start of the breeding season and more cuttlefish might arrive as temperatures drop.

Mr Bramley says he does not know where the cuttlefish have travelled from as there has been no sign of many gathering offshore in recent weeks…….

May 21, 2014 Posted by | environment, South Australia | Leave a comment

They’re waging war against climate scientists

Flag-USADavid Suzuki Discusses the War on Climate Scientists Everybody ought to be doing their part to fight climate change, but instead some are focusing their energy on taking down the folks providing the research on our planet’s future.

From laughter to vehemence, it’s clear that the war on climate scientists and their research is on. In the second part of his conversation with Bill Moyers, Dr. David Suzuki says climate deniers are engaging in a good ol’ game of “kill the messenger.”

“This is a very effective thing that we know has been done by the tobacco industry [and] it’s being done by the fossil fuel industry… You attack a person on the basis of their trustworthiness, their ulterior motives, anything to get away from dealing with the issues,” the scientist, author and philanthropist said.

He said it’s not unlike the attacks he has experienced from Canada’s prime minister, corporations and others over the years for speaking his mind about the government and the fossil fuel industry.

“The fossil fuel industry knows that fossil fuel use is at the heart of climate change,” Suzuki said. “But the problem is their job as CEOs and executives is to make money for their shareholders, and they’ll do it.”

May 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Climate Change is a pro life issue says conservative Christian group


Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), is leading the group’s campaign for Scott to recognize climate change as a major threat in Florida. EEN is collecting signatures for a petition asking Gov. Scott to create a plan for climate change, one which so far has garnered about 12,000 signatures. Hescox told ThinkProgress that EEN chose to focus on Florida because of its vulnerability to climate change — Floridians, especially in the Southeast region of the state, are already struggling to adapt to rising seas that lead to sunny-day flooding and stronger storm surges.

Flag-USA“We wanted to help the evangelical church understand in Florida that climate change is not a liberal issue or any issue other than a people issue,” he said.

Gov. Scott, however, has expressed doubt before that climate change is occurring — in 2010, he told reporters he hadn’t “been convinced” that the problem existed, and last week, he avoided a question on whether his 2010 beliefs are the same today by responding, “I’m not a scientist.”……..

The group emphasizes creation care, the idea that humans have a duty to take care of the Earth, because the Earth and its creatures are the creation of God and to love God’s creation is to love God. The group also notes that the poor are often those who are affected most by pollution, and many Christians believe they have a duty to help the poor.

“The first real handbook of sustainability is the Biblical book of Leviticus. It talks about crop rotation, about how to care about animals,” Hescox said. “That’s why it’s a matter of life for us — everything we do, as human beings, to mess up God’s creation impacts human life.”

Hescox pointed to the suffering climate change has caused around the world as reason why climate change is something Christians should care about. Air pollution is linked to asthmakidney disease and heart problems, and climate change is expected to cause a rise in vectorborne illnesses like malaria and West Nile. These are some of the most compelling reasons to act on climate change, Hescox said.

“For us, it’s a pro-life issue,” he said. “We are pro-life from conception to natural death, and we believe anything that affects the quality of life is something that’s a pro-life value.”………

May 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian Industry Group warns that reducing Renewable Energy target will not bring down electricity prices

Reducing renewable energy target won’t lead to cut in power prices, AIG warns, Lisa Cox, SMH. May 21, 2014 Reducing Australia’s renewable energy target will not lead to a fall in power prices, one of the country’s leading industry groups has warned.

In a move that will pressure Prime Minister Tony Abbott to retain Australia’s goal of producing at least 20 per cent of all electricity from renewable sources by 2020, the Australian Industry Group has urged the government not to abolish or drastically cut the target.

AIG, which represents more than 60,000 businesses, said the RET had lowered wholesale power prices and there would be little benefit to consumers if the target was lowered.

The comments are in contrast to statements Mr Abbott made last year that the RET was causing electricity price rises at a time when Australia ought to be ”an affordable energy superpower”. There are growing fears that the government plans to scale back the target after Australia’s flagship clean energy development agency – the Australian Renewable Energy Agency – was axed in last week’s budget.

In a submission to the government’s review of the RET, the AIG said unwinding the target would require major compensation to businesses that had already made significant investments in renewable energy. It said this would have to come via the federal budget or ”an ongoing payment by electricity retailers – and ultimately energy users – in a closed, grandfathered version of the RET”.

AIG chief executive Innes Willox said on Tuesday that neither deep cuts in the target nor abolishing the RET altogether would deliver ”overall benefits to energy users”……..

The industry group’s submission is critical of the continued upheaval of Australia’s climate and energy policies and the lack of detail surrounding the implementation of the government’s emissions reduction fund to cut carbon emissions.

Read more:

May 21, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Coal seam gas development could pollute Lake Hume with uranium and heavy metals

Time to ban coal seam gas ENGLISH,May 20, 2014,  THE western Riverina would have a Coal Seam Gas development by now if the Grainger Energy application had not been refused in March. There may be a coal seam gas exploration licence application lodged in the Albury area within months.

Of great concern is a potential coal seam gas development in the mountains east of Albury.

The gas could pollute Lake Hume with uranium and heavy metals, which would lead to a slow and horrible death for Albury residents from radiation poisoning. The New York State Senate placed a temporary moratorium on coal seam gas due to pollution of the New York City water supply.

The same companies are using the same processes in Australia. So these companies would not hesitate at all to pollute Lake Hume.

I urge people to look at the trailers for the films Gasland and Fracking Hell: the untold story on the internet. These give an idea of the horror story that is coal seam gas.   Coal seam gas needs to be banned in Australia!


May 21, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Doubtful market for new nuclear reactors

nukes-sad-In Europe and the U.S. cost overruns and delays raise questions about the market for a new generation of  nuclear reactors Scientific American, May 20, 2014  More than a decade ago a contract was signed to build the world’s first third-generation European pressurized reactor (EPR) in Finland. The cutting-edge, 1,600-megawatt nuclear power plant, Olkiluoto 3, (pictured below) which its French maker Areva boasted as the most advanced safety design of the time, is still under construction today. There have been various setbacks as well as endless finger-pointing between Areva and the Finnish utility TVO, which are locked in court battle over expanding costs. Now the reactor might not be completed until at least 2017, if at all, with a price tag of $11 billion, more than double its original estimate.

3 situation is not unique. Another Areva EPR in Flamanville, France, is also behind schedule and over budget. A recent government deal for two new EPRs in the U.K. has also come under fire.


The prospects for a nuclear power revival are no better in the U.S. Although the technology has never been cheap, cost overruns and delays are plaguing the handful of next-generation pressurized water reactors currently being built, the first since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Even before that event, a study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that the cost of new nuclear plants, globally, doubled from 2002 to 2009. The third-generation reactors have safety features that should prevent a meltdown similar to Fukushima’s but political controversy, along with the high price tag means that new nuclear complexes in the U.S. and Europe could be in the single digits instead of dozens originally planned less than a decade ago……….

Costs and delays are also rising for the AP1000 being built by Georgia Power, in part because the units must meet more stringent safety requirements that regulators have introduced in the wake of September 11, 2001, attacks and the Fukushima meltdown. ……

Although the AP1000 is an intrinsically simpler design than the EPR, they both have also faced cost overruns because they are first-of-their-kind deployments. A report by Citi Research found that the Vogtle project is about six months behind schedule and will cost at least $1 billion above original projections. “We’re learning how to do this as efficiently as we can,” says Benjamin, who admits there has been a learning curve. Finalizing the design for construction, which has been approved by American and Chinese regulators, has taken longer than anticipated. So has securing delivery on certain components, such as reactor coolant pumps, because they are being produced for the first time. “We take these lessons as we learn them,” says Benjamin, “and make sure these issues get [resolved] so we don’t face them again.”

Westinghouse hopes that working out the kinks in the first designs will drive down the time line and costs on other plants moving forward—but history shows that may not be possible. A study from Arnulf Grubler at Yale University in 2012 found that despite France’s standardization of building nuclear from the 1970s through 2000s, the French nuclear program still saw substantial cost escalation…….

A report by Citi Research found that the Vogtle project is about six months behind schedule and will cost at least $1 billion above original projections.

May 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment