Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

South Australia’s contaminated groundwater – thousands of sites

polluted-waterToxic sites in Adelaide’s suburbs number in their thousands BRAD CROUCH THE ADVERTISER JULY 22, 2014  THE Opposition has demanded a statewide audit of contaminated sites, as it emerges the dangers of trichloroethene entering groundwater was suspected as far back as the 1940s.

The call for an audit comes after Environmental Protection Authority chief executive Tony Circelli confirmed that “thousands” of sites were contaminated with various chemicals and the EPA received about 100 new notifications each year.

The State Government and Environment Minister Ian Hunter are under increasing pressure over the contamination scandal in Clovelly Park , where dozens of people have been forced to leave their homes because of health risks from the vapours of trichloroethene (TCE) rising up through the soil from industrially poisoned groundwater.

Mr Circelli, was responding to a claim by UniSA Professor Ravi Naidu, the managing director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation, that there are about 4000 contaminated sites in SA.

Mr Circelli said that claim was incorrect, but conceded the number “is in the thousands”.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said an audit was needed to clarify the exact number of contaminated sites and their locations. “The purpose of conducting a statewide audit would be to establish a hierarchy of sites based on potential public health risks,” he said.

“As well as playing an important community awareness role, the audit could also provide a benchmark for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of contaminated sites for the EPA and assist with any future contamination investigations………http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/toxic-sites-in-adelaides-suburbs-number-in-their-thousands/story-fni6uo1m-1226998071395?nk=38b4e03626cff750bb726e65c1a3e9f4

July 23, 2014 Posted by | environment, South Australia, water | Leave a comment

Despite Tony Abbott, Solar Power is shining in Alice Springs

Red Centre keeps shining as solar technology hub http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-22/alice-springs-solar-hub-technology/5613534  ABC Rural  By Lauren Fitzgerald Central Australia is continuing to attract international investment from the solar industry, despite the Alice Solar City initiative wrapping up more than a year ago. In its five-year history, the program helped hundreds of homes and businesses install solar panels and solar hot water systems.

The general manager of the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), Lyndon Frearson, says Alice Springs now also has a reputation as a hub for developing technology.

solar-stATION-aLICE-sPRINGS

He says companies from China, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Switzerland and America are all installing different solar PV modules at the CAT site. “The range of their investment varies depending on the size of the facility that they want to put in,” he said.

“Some of them are putting in little five-kilowatt systems as a test site, where they might be putting a number of small test sites around the world, through to a Swiss-based company which only has three R & D [research and development] facilities in the world, and they chose to build one of them here.

“And certainly those investments are in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Mr Frearson says local businesses like the Alice Springs Airport are also demonstrating an ongoing commitment to solar. “They received a subsidy to do their original project, but they’ve just [installed] 320 kilowatts off their own bat, completely their own investment. “And that’s both a maturing of the economics, that the solar panels are cheaper and the energy prices have changed.

“But it also shows a degree of confidence that they as an organisation and their board have in the technology to better run their business. “And there are a number of examples within Alice and broader afield throughout central Australia where different entities are making those decisions.

“So I think the legacy of Alice Solar City in central Australia is strong. “Certainly it’s something we see people talking about with pride, and we still see people outside of Alice focus very heavily on and see Alice Springs as a leader in this space.”

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, solar | Leave a comment

Global physicians’ scathing criticism of UNSCEAR report on Fukushima nuclear disaster

Fukushima: Bad and Getting Worse – Global Physicians Issue Scathing Critique of UN Report on Fukushima  CounterPunch, by JOHN LaFORGE, 20 July 14 

There is broad disagreement over the amounts and effects of radiation exposure due to the triple reactor meltdowns after the 2011 Great East-Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) joined the controversy June 4, with a 27-page “Critical Analysis of the UNSCEAR Report ‘Levels and effects of radiation exposures due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 Great East-Japan Earthquake and tsunami.’”

IPPNW is the Nobel Peace Prize winning global federation of doctors working for “a healthier, safer and more peaceful world.” The group has adopted a highly critical view of nuclear power because as it says, “A world without nuclear weapons will only be possible if we also phase out nuclear energy.”

UNSCEAR, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, published its deeply flawed report April 2. Its accompanying press release summed up its findings this way: “No discernible changes in future cancer rates and hereditary diseases are expected due to exposure to radiation as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident.” The word “discernable” is a crucial disclaimer here.

text-UNSCEAR

Cancer, and the inexorable increase in cancer cases in Japan and around the world, is mostly caused by toxic pollution, including radiation exposure according to the National Cancer Institute.[1] But distinguishing a particular cancer case as having been caused by Fukushima rather than by other toxins, or combination of them, may be impossible – leading to UNSCEAR’s deceptive summation. As the IPPNW report says, “A cancer does not carry a label of origin…”

UNSCEAR’s use of the phrase “are expected” is also heavily nuanced. The increase in childhood leukemia cases near Germany’s operating nuclear reactors, compared to elsewhere, was not “expected,” but was proved in 1997. The findings, along with Chernobyl’s lingering consequences, led to the country’s federally mandated reactor phase-out. The plummeting of official childhood mortality rates around five US nuclear reactors after they were shut down was also “unexpected,” but shown by Joe Mangano and the Project on Radiation and Human Health.

The International Physicians’ analysis is severely critical of UNSCEAR’s current report which echoes its 2013 Fukushima review and press release that said, “It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers.”

“No justification for optimistic presumptions”

The IPPNW’s report says flatly, “Publications and current research give no justification for such apparently optimistic presumptions.” UNSCEAR, the physicians complain, “draws mainly on data from the nuclear industry’s publications rather than from independent sources and omits or misinterprets crucial aspects of radiation exposure”, and “does not reveal the true extent of the consequences” of the disaster. As a result, the doctors say the UN report is “over-optimistic and misleading.” The UN’s “systematic underestimations and questionable interpretations,” the physicians warn, “will be used by the nuclear industry to downplay the expected health effects of the catastrophe” and will likely but mistakenly be considered by public authorities as reliable and scientifically sound. Dozens of independent experts report that radiation attributable health effects are highly likely………. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/18/fukushima-bad-and-getting-worse/

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A record June for global heat

globe-warmingJune a global scorcher as records melt, The Age July 22, 2014  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Last month was a scorcher for global temperatures with warmth over land and sea breaking records for June while sea-surface temperatures posted their largest departure from long-term averages for any month.

Combined average temperatures over land and sea were 0.72 degrees above the 20th century average of 15.5 degrees, making it the hottest June and adding to the record May and equal record April, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

More striking for climatologists, though, were the sea-surface temperatures. These came in 0.64 degrees above the 20th century average of 16.4 degrees – the first time any month had exceeded the long-run norm by more than 0.6 degrees.

Parts of all major ocean basins notched their warmest June, with almost all the Indian Ocean and regions off south-eastern Australia the hottest on record.

An El Nino event remains about a 70 per cent chance of forming during the northern summer, which could see more records tumble. The weather pattern sees the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean becoming relatively warm compared with western regions, and typically brings hotter, drier than usual conditions to south-east Asia and Australia.

Australia posted its hottest 12 months on record in the year to June, while 2013 was the hottest calendar year in more than a century of records, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

While June was another month of above-average temperatures, Western Australia and the Northern Territory were cooler than normal – breaking a sequence begun in February in which every state or territory had above-average warmth, NOAA noted.

June was the 352nd month when global temperatures were above the 20th century average – with the last below-average month in February 1985……….

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/june-a-global-scorcher-as-records-melt-20140722-zvhzq.html#ixzz38MCEc5oI

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear power makes climate change worse

globalnukeNOhighly-recommendedHow Nuclear Worsens Climate Change, Sierra Club,    May 28, 2014 The nuclear industry has been selling the world a story that nuclear power is a solution to climate change because it does not generate carbon dioxide (CO2), a major greenhouse gas. While this is true of the nuclear chain reaction itself, the front and back ends of nuclear power generate a large volume of CO2 and leave a trail of endlessly dangerous radioactivity along the way.

 ☢ Nuclear power has a big carbon footprint. At the front end of nuclear power, carbon energy is used for uranium mining, milling, processing, conversion, and enrichment, as well as for transportation, formulation of rods and construction of nuclear reactors (power plants). At the back end, there is the task of isolation of highly radioactive nuclear waste for millennia—a task which science has so far not been able to address. Large amounts of water are also used, first in mining and then in cooling the reactors.
All along the nuclear fuel chain, radioactive contamination of air, land and water occurs. Uranium mine and mill cleanup demands large amounts of fossil fuel. Each year 2,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste and twelve million cubic-feet of low-level radioactive waste are generated in the U.S. alone. None of this will magically disappear. Vast amounts of energy will be needed to isolate these dangerous wastes for generations to come.
☢ Nuclear power takes too long to deploy. Construction of the 1500 new reactors that the nuclear industry claims are needed to address global warming would mean opening a new reactor once every 2 weeks for the next 60 years. Reactors can take 10-15 years to build with an estimated cost of $12-15 billion each. In the past, cost and time needed for construction have each more than doubled from original estimates. We need to supply low-carbon energy sources NOW.
☢ Nuclear power is not suited for warming climates. Nuclear reactors need  enormous amounts of cool water to continually remove heat from their cores. Reactors  have been forced to close during heat waves due to warmth of sea, lake or river water — just when electricity is being used most. Low water levels during heat and drought have also forced reactors to shut down. In addition, cooling causes serious damage to aquatic life, killing millions of fish and untold numbers of macroinvertebrates, aquatic eggs and larvae.

☢ Six times as much carbon can be saved with efficiency or wind. Benjamin Sovacool from the Institute for Energy and Environment at Vermont Law School averaged the high and low estimates of carbon pollution from nuclear power. His study revealed that nuclear power’s carbon emissions are well below scrubbed coal-fired plants, natural gas-fired plants and oil. However, nuclear emits twice as much carbon as solar photovoltaic and six times as much as onshore wind farms. Energy efficiency and some of the other renewables also beat nuclear by sixfold or more.
☢ Nuclear power is not flexible. Nuclear is all-or-nothing power. A reactor can’t be geared to produce less power when electricity from renewables (like wind and solar) increases on the grid. This can make it challenging to increase renewables past a certain point. (continued on page 2)
When a reactor shuts down due to accident, planned upgrade or permanent closure, a large amount of power has to be found elsewhere. And nuclear plants are being closed, not opened — some because they no longer are making a profit. It’s important to develop renewablesNOW to be able to replace the electricity when utilities announce plans to close reactors.
☢ Nuclear subsidies rob research on renewables. Nuclear power has been subsidized throughout most of its fuel chain. In 2011 the Union of Concerned Scientists published Nuclear Power, Still Not Viable without Subsidies. This report shows that in some cases subsidies were greater than the value of the electricity produced. Subsidies are supposed to be for new innovations — not for propping up outdated technologies like fossil fuels and nuclear. Nuclear is also a dirty extractive industry – and like coal, oil and gas, nuclear depends on a limited supply of natural resources (uranium) in the ground.
☢ Cost of nuclear is going up, while cost of renewables is going down.Estimates for new reactors are, on average, four times higher than estimates from just eight years ago. Estimates for new reactors are invariably far less than the final cost, with the final cost often doubling. Sometimes, as in the cases of the Columbia Generating Station, Cherokee, and Perry, billions were spent while the reactors were never finished. Costs of renewables continue going down while their efficiency increases. ……. http://content.sierraclub.org/grassrootsnetwork/sites/content.sierraclub.org.activistnetwork/files/teams/documents/SierraNuclearClimate%20%284%29.pdf

 

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Victoria’s wind farms may be able to expand, after all

wind-turb-smWind companies question planning office response ENERGY companies will be allowed to make minor changes to wind farm planning permits from next month. Weekly Times 22 July 14, The move — which will pave the way for up to 964 turbines to be built across the state creating up to 2376 megawatts of wind energy — has been labelled a “change of heart” by Greens leader Greg Barber.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy said “we’re making a small adjustment to the planning scheme to allow existing wind farm planning permits to be amended, which may assist with upgrading turbine technology”……….http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/wind-companies-question-planning-office-response/story-fnkerdda-1226997709510

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Physicians find ten grave failures in UN report on Fukushima nuclear catastrophe

text-UNSCEARFukushima: Bad and Getting Worse – Global Physicians Issue Scathing Critique of UN Report on Fukushima  CounterPunch, by JOHN LaFORGE, 20 July 14 Physicians find ten grave failures in UN report

The majority of the IPPNW’s report details 10 major errors, flaws or discrepancies in the UNSCEAR paper and explains study’s omissions, underestimates, inept comparisons, misinterpretations and unwarranted conclusions.

1. The total amount of radioactivity released by the disaster was underestimated by UNSCEAR and its estimate was based on disreputable sources of information. UNSCEAR ignored 3.5 years of nonstop emissions of radioactive materials “that continue unabated,” and only dealt with releases during the first weeks of the disaster. UNSCEAR relied on a study by the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) which, the IPPNW points out, “was severely criticized by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission … for its collusion with the nuclear industry.” The independent Norwegian Institute for Air Research’s estimate of cesium-137 released (available to UNSCEAR) was four times higher than the JAEA/UNSCEAR figure (37 PBq instead of 9 PBq). Even Tokyo Electric Power Co. itself estimated that iodine-131 releases were over four times higher than what JAEA/UNSCEAR) reported (500 PBq vs. 120 BPq). The UNSCEAR inexplicably chose to ignore large releases of strontium isotopes and 24 other radionuclides when estimating radiation doses to the public. (A PBq or petabecquerel is a quadrillion or 1015 Becquerels. Put another way, a PBq equals 27,000 curies, and one curie makes 37 billion atomic disintegrations per second.)

2. Internal radiation taken up with food and drink “significantly influences the total radiation dose an individual is exposed to,” the doctors note, and their critique warns pointedly, “UNSCEAR uses as its one and only source, the still unpublished database of the International Atomic Energy Association and the Food and Agriculture Organization. The IAEA was founded … to ‘accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.’ It therefore has a profound conflict of interest.” Food sample data from the IAEA should not be relied on, “as it discredits the assessment of internal radiation doses and makes the findings vulnerable to claims of manipulation.” As with its radiation release estimates, IAEA/UNSCEAR ignored the presence of strontium in food and water. Internal radiation dose estimates made by the Japanese Ministry for Science and Technology were 20, 40 and even 60 times higher than the highest numbers used in the IAEA/UNSCEAR reports.  Continue reading

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation doing well, expanding

Clean Energy Finance Corporation plans expansion after dodging axe   http://www.smh.com.au/business/clean-energy-finance-corporation-plans-expansion-after-dodging-axe-20140721-zvdhg.html#ixzz38MD2vaOK  July 22, 2014  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has capped its first year of operations, managing to avoid the federal government’s axe and generating more than $3 billion in investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

The CEFC issued more than $900 million in loans in the year to June 30 – backed by the private sector at the rate of $2.20 for each of its own dollars – securing the annual abatement of at least 4.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the process.

Chief executive Oliver Yates said the fund generated a “reasonable return” for the taxpayer, raising funds at the government rate of about 3.5 per cent and lending under commercial terms at about 7 per cent.

The CEFC aims to at least match last year’s investments this financial year, with many of the projects “very complementary” to the government’s $2.55 billion Direct Action plan to pay polluters, Mr Yates said.

“Our numbers to date are that energy efficiency upgrades to buildings are saving about 45 per cent in energy costs,” Mr Yates said. “The challenge for Direct Action is that you need to fund all the action before you get paid for it, and that comes down to who actually funds these projects.”

In its first year, the CEFC’s investments were split about 60-40 in favour of renewable energy – largely solar – over energy efficiency projects.

Insiders say morale remains high among the 50 or so staff despite the Coalition’s vow to scrap the fund, a move blocked by Labor, the Greens and lately the Palmer United Party.

“It’s a game of snakes and ladders and has been for a while,” Mr Yates said, noting the regular policy shifts including last week’s repeal of the carbon price and uncertainty over the government’s support for large-scale renewable energy target.

Despite that uncertainty, companies and banks continue to line up for new investment, particularly in small-scale solar photovoltaics (PV).

The CEFC announced on Tuesday it will provide as much as $120 million for three new solar PV financing programs, including $70 million for US-based SunEdison. Tindo Solar, the country’s only solar PV panel maker, will also get $20 million in loans.

The fund will also provide up to $80 million as part of a cornerstone investment with a unit of Colonial First State to create Australia’s first unlisted clean energy investment platform for institutional investors. Colonial First State will aim to raise as much as $500 million for investments.

Falling solar PV prices have made panels more attractive for residential and commercial users alike. Globally, solar PV investment fell 22 per cent last year but actual new capacity rose 27 per cent because of tumbling costs, according to the Renewable Energy Policy Network.

July 23, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment