Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s new ban on uranium to Russia should be permanent

uranium-trail.Russia uranium ban should stay: Greens (Oz) Sep 2014 | Scott Ludlam Confirmation that the Australian Government has suspended potential uranium sales to the Russian Federation has been welcomed by the Greens, after questions placed by Adam Bandt MP in the House and Senator Scott Ludlam in the Senate.

“The Australian Greens have argued that uranium sales to the Russian Federation should never have been contemplated in the first place,” Senator Ludlam said.

“President Putin’s implied threat of nuclear escalation last week, saying, “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers,” underlies the risks that Australia faces in fuelling the nuclear industry in Russia and elsewhere.

“With heightened tensions resulting from Russia’s military actions in eastern Ukraine, it is entirely appropriate for the Australian Government to prevent Australian uranium from being shipped to the Russian Federation,” said Senator Ludlam.

“The Greens believe we should revert to an outright ban and caution Prime Minister Abbott against opening a new line of atomic instability with India, which has refused to sign up to international legal agreements on non-proliferation and disarmament.”

September 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Our toxic planet – from plastic bags to nuclear waste


From ordinary plastic bags to extraordinary pools of nuclear waste, we have unleashed a staggering array of poisons into the same ecosystems that feed us and provide us with other biological necessities such as air and water. In some cases, such as nuclear waste, we have heard decades of discussion and debate about risks, costs and benefits. However in most cases, we are either ignorant or barely aware of the impacts and potential risks…….
we still only have one planet and we should try to keep it alive

Plastic Bags, Nuclear Waste and a Toxic Planet, Energy Collective, Steven Cohen,  September 3, 2014 Last week we saw California move a step closer to banning one-time-use plastic bags and the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission legalize above-ground storage of nuclear waste. What’s the connection? Every once in a while I think it is useful to turn aside from the deeply rooted, but relatively straightforward problem of climate change, to the growing use of uncontrolled toxic substances in our daily economic life. The toxicity of our environment may well be more difficult to address than the problem of climate change. Continue reading

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s environment groups call for abandoning sales of uranium to India

URANIUM SALES TO INDIA  Friends of the Earth is today releasing a joint statement (attached) from leading environment groups calling on the government to abandon plans to sell uranium to India or any other country refusing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty − the centrepiece of the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament architecture.

The statement notes the harm suffered by Indigenous people, workers and the poor at the hands of the nuclear industry in India; brutal state repression of peoples’ movements against nuclear projects; and the inadequacy of labour laws and environmental protection regulations in India.

Gem Romuld, Nuclear-Free Campaign Co-ordinator with Friends of the Earth, said: “Having visited India and spoken with many people living in the shadow of dangerous nuclear plants, and witnessed their heroic resistance to brutal state repression, I am appalled that the Abbott government is implicating Australia in these gross human rights abuses.”

“There is strong public opposition to uranium sales to India − a 2012 Lowy Institute poll found that 61% of Australians opposed uranium sales to India, with just 33% in support. A 2008 Lowy Institute found that 88% agreed that Australia should only export uranium to countries which have signed the NPT.”

“India accounts for just 1.4% of world uranium demand.[1] Claims from government and industry that the uranium deal will result in a jobs bonanza and significant export revenue must be exposed for the lies they are. Likewise, claims that uranium sales to India will indirectly boost trade by fostering trust and goodwill ignore the fact that bilateral trade grew six-fold from 2000−2011 despite Australia’s principled ban on uranium exports to countries refusing to sign the NPT.”[2]

“India’s nuclear safety regime is ‘fraught with grave risks’, India’s Public Accounts Committee said in a report last year, adding that the country’s nuclear regulator was weak and under-resourced. In 2012, India’s Auditor-General found that 60% of regulatory inspections for operating nuclear power plants in India were either delayed or not undertaken at all.”

“There are further risks arising from domestic and international political tensions. For example, transport of uranium ore from India’s Bagjata mine to the Uranium Corporation of India Limited processing plant was suspended after an ore-laden truck was torched by Maoists on 7 May 2014.”

“Australia should be helping India shift towards a future that it renewable[3] not radioactive,” concluded Ms Romuld.


September 4, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott’s racist remarks are deliberate, not just blunders

Woolombi Waters says Tony Abbott is at it again but don’t think for a moment these are gaffes The Stringer by Dr Woolombi Waters September 3rd, 2014 A little over a month ago it was reported Tony Abbott as the Prime Minister of Australia made a political gaffe or blunder when he stated “I guess our country owes its existence to a form of foreign investment by the British government in the then unsettled or, um, scarcely settled, Great South Land.”

But this was no blunder. It was intentional and showed the true values and beliefs of this Prime Minister. When he stated he wanted to be seen as Australia’s first Prime Minister for Aboriginal People it was about paternalism and intervention because we obviously are not capable of managing our own destiny.

According to Abbott we need to be told what to do. His personal interest though didn’t appear to last long instead relying on others, Noel Pearson, Nigel Scullion, Warren Mundine and Andrew Forrest to deal with the Aboriginal issues amongst themselves. In doing so Abbott has totally ignored any Aboriginal leaders outside this inner sanctum, including the majority of his own Indigenous Advisory Council.

Then, over the weekend he comes out stating that the arrival of the First Fleet was the “defining moment” in the history of this continent. Then he said it again, “Let me repeat that: it was the defining moment in the history of this continent.” Continue reading

September 4, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors pose a special danger in a war situation

A worrying factor in Ukraine’s chaos: 15 nuclear reactors WP By Rick Noack September 3 As Ukraine looks like a country teetering on the edge of war, there’s an important factor to keep an eye on: The country’s 15 nuclear reactors.


“There haven’t been many conflicts in states with nuclear power facilities in the past, so we’re really entering unknown territory here,” said Jeffrey Mankoff, Deputy Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Russia and Eurasia Program. NATO has already shown its concern, sending a small team of civilian experts to Ukraine in April to advise the government on the safety of its infrastructure.

There is a historical component to the anxiety: In April 1986, a reactor of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant at Chernobyl exploded, causing the worst nuclear disaster in history, and a high rate of cancer among emergency workers and people living in the affected areas even today. Chernobyl happened in a time of peace: Today, Ukraine’s reactors operate near a war zone.

Closest to the fighting is Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Station, which houses six separate reactors: There are doubts about the safety mechanisms in place in these power plants. German public broadcaster ARD has warned that “a second Chernobyl disaster will be inevitable if the fighting in Ukraine cannot be stopped.” Sergej Boschko, who heads Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency,told ARD that “no nuclear power plant is protected against military attacks. They are not made for war, they are made for peace.”

Nuclear material also presents a problem: ARD reports that 100 containers of burned nuclear fuels were found in the open air 120 miles away from the front line. This waste product is radioactive and dangerous if stored incorrectly. Hans-Josef Allelein, the chairman of Germany’s Institute for Reactor Safety and Reactor Technology, said in an interview that these reports would indicate a “real danger” if true. “Such containers could theoretically be used as dirty bombs,” Allelein explained. “In the end, the area around a nuclear power plant needs to be secured with a reliable air-defense system …….

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

30 years later, and Chernobyl’s radioactive boars still roam Europe

eyes-surprisedRadioactive Boars From Chernobyl Are Still Wandering Around Germany, Sarah Zhang, Sept 14 Nearly 30 years later, radiation from Chernobyl still scars the landscape. Perhaps most remarkably, some of that radiation travelled hundreds of kilometres downwind, settled into the soil, and moved up through the food chain. So now we have radioactive wild boars, still roaming around Germany causing trouble.

Since 2012, according to the Telegraph, the state government of Saxony has required that boars hunted for food be tested for radiation. One in three regularly exceeds the safety limit. How did wild boars born decades after the Chernobyl disaster become radioactive? The Telegraph explains:

Even though Saxony lies some 700 miles from Chernobyl, wind and rain carried the radioactivity across western Europe, and soil contamination was found even further away, in France.

Wild boar are thought to be particularly affected because they root through the soil for food, and feed on mushrooms and underground truffles that store radiation. Many mushrooms from the affected areas are also believed to be unfit for human consumption.

Wild radioactive boars may be dangerous to eat, but wild boars in general are a menace across Germany. They’re digging up gardens, shutting down the Autobahn, and even attacking the occasional poor soul. Read more about the boars at the Telegraph.

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

India is by no means a safe place to send Australia’s uranium

Australian and Indian nuclear trade Hasan Ehtisham 4 Sept 14  Adding Australian uranium into India’s energy mix would have serious fallouts on prevailing strained relations between India and its nuclear-armed neighbours  Australia is expected to sign a civil nuclear agreement with India during the visit of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott early next month. Negotiations have been concluded to smooth the path for uranium imports from Australia.


The news came out when hundreds of thousands of Indian men and women protested against the expanding nuclear industry. These protests have been a regular feature in Koodankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra) and Gorakhpur (Haryana), and at least five activists have lost their lives since 2010 in their struggle against the Indian government’s decision without taking the affected parties on board. Radioactive waste from uranium mining in the country’s east is reportedly affecting adjacent communities. Thousands of Indians suffer from the effects of uranium mining  related to poor technical and management practices. Continue reading

September 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

(Under pressure from The Greens) Australia bans uranium sales to Russia

Australia bans uranium sales to Russia Yahoo 7 News September 3, 2014, Australia has banned uranium sales to Russia over its actions in Ukraine while announcing it will set up an embassy in Kiev and may offer military assistance.

The announcement by Prime Minister Tony Abbott came just days after Canberra said it would toughen its sanctions against Moscow so they match those of the European Union…….The Ukraine crisis will be a key topic during a NATO summit in Wales this week attended by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

She said a decision on whether Russian leader Vladimir Putin should be invited to the Group of 20 summit in Brisbane in November was still some way off, as opposition to his presence grows.

Bishop said she would be speaking with NATO members to canvass opinion, but there was time for the Russian president to prove why he should still be at the table.

“But the point is this, there are a number of international meetings before the G20,” she said, pointing to the APEC forum in Beijing and the East Asia summit in Myanmar.

“I think we’ll have a better idea of the international community’s attitude and indeed President Putin’s attitude to attending these meetings before we consider the G20.”

Bishop added that as the rotating G20 host Australia’s role was to “consult and to reach a consensus”.

“But we are some way from that decision and of course we take soundings, and I’ve no doubt people will raise it with me, but it is not Australia’s call,” she said.

September 4, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Indian villagers have already paid a heavy health price for the uranium industry

Independent studies of the health status of people who live near the uranium mines and mills have found both that there are physical deformities occurring at a much higher rate than controlled villages which are having similar population but are a little bit further away from the mines and mills, as well as lung diseases coming in at a much higher rate among those who work in the mines and mills.

Australia to sell uranium to India but at what cost to its people? Australian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast: 03/09/2014  Reporter: Stephanie March

As Prime Minister Tony Abbott prepares to sign off on a deal to sell Australian uranium to India, critics are warning of the cost to the lives and safety of India’s most vulnerable.


CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: “……. critics say India’s drive towards a nuclear future is coming at a cost – the lives and safety of the country’s most vulnerable.

South Asia correspondent Stephanie March reports.

STEPHANIE MARCH, REPORTER: This lush forest land in eastern India is home to the Adivasi, one of the country’s Indigenous tribes people. Here in the town of the Jaduguda, the Adivasi live simple lives, much the way they have for centuries.

But the locals feel something isn’t right with the world around them.

Mohammad Yusuf is just one child in the village deformed since birth. Continue reading

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In spite of Tony Abbott, Australia’s Largest Solar Farm Opened

Australia’s Largest Solar Farm Opened 4 Sept 14  Canberra’s Royalla Solar Farm, owned by Spanish company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), was opened on Wednesday.

The 24MWp solar power plant  is located just south of Tuggeranong, approximately 23 kilometres south of the Canberra CBD and will generate enough electricity to supply around 4,500 Canberra homes.
Comprised of 83,000 solar panels, it’s not only largest solar farm in Australia, Royalla is also the first large scale solar facility connected to the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Among those at the opening were ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell, Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes and Clean Energy Council Acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton.

“This project has helped to demonstrate the exciting opportunity and massive benefits that large scale solar can deliver in Australia,” said Mr. Thornton.

“The Royalla Solar Farm is a showcase for what is possible using today’s technology, and has utilised many local businesses, suppliers and contractors to deliver a real boost to the local economy.” Continue reading

September 4, 2014 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

Australia’s top engineers call for keeping Renewable Energy Target as it is

Engineering peak body backs Renewable Energy Target 2 Sept 14  Following the release of the government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target, peak professional body Engineers Australia has reiterated its support for maintaining the RET in its current form.
“Not only are there major environmental benefits to be had under RET, but there are significant employment and economic benefits to be gained from RET projects, especially in regional areas,” said Chair of Engineers Australia’s Sustainable Engineering Society, Dr Alice Howe.

“The RET is clearly delivering benefits for Australia, and Engineers Australia does not support moves to dilute or weaken its operation.

“Engineers are central players in delivering Australia’s energy infrastructure, and we stand by the need to create a long-term and sustainable energy sector in this country. Ongoing investment in renewables is a critical component of our energy security mix.

“Heavy reliance on fossil fuels creates a major vulnerability in our economy. If significant global action on greenhouse gas reductions occurs, the consequences for Australian energy exports and even Australia goods and services, due to their high carbon footprints, may be severe.

-“While we welcome strong public debate on this topic, we urge the government to stand by the RET in its current form. Engineers Australia believes that the RET should be retained to at least its present level,” said Dr Howe. –

September 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

India’s nuclear industry run un-safely by old boys network

India-uranium1Australia to sell uranium to India but at what cost to its people? Australian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast: 03/09/2014  Reporter: Stephanie March

“…………STEPHANIE MARCH: India’s nuclear safety watchdog, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, issues the guidelines for how mines like Jaduguda operate and is responsible for overseeing the nuclear power plants, like this one in Rajasthan, that may eventually receive Australian uranium. However, India’s Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee have found deep flaws in the regulator’s structure and operations. Their reports call the regulator weak and not independent of industry or government.

ABHIJIT IYER-MITRA: Well the concern really is that it’s becoming a bit of an old boys’ network. So the people who retire from the Atomic Energy Commission, they come onto the Atomic Energy Regulatory body and they’re basically auditing their own friends. They’re auditing their own work.

S.R. UDAYAKUMAR, ANTI-NUCLEAR ACTIVIST: If they were transparent, open, accountable and democratic in their functioning, we wouldn’t have this problem. We wouldn’t be so suspicious and afraid. They don’t share any information with the public. They don’t even respect the democratic heritage of this great country.

STEPHANIE MARCH: India hopes to build dozens of nuclear reactors in coming decades, fuelled partly by uranium coming from Australia, but critics say the country isn’t up to the task of doing so safely.

M.V. RAMANA: If Australian uranium were to be fuelling a nuclear reactor, could there be a potential accident sort of like what happened in Fukushima, and the answer is yes. This is certainly possible in any nuclear reactor. It’s particularly possible given the operating record in nuclear reactors.

STEPHANIE MARCH: Back in Jaduguda, it’s hard for the locals to see the potential benefits of India’s nuclear future. Their own power supply is intermittent and many believe the price they’ve already paid in the name of their nation’s development is too high.

S.R. UDAYAKUMAR: Do we have a good functioning, safe toilet in any of (inaudible) the in this country? No. If we cannot even do that, how do you want us to believe that we will be quite alright with storing and safeguarding the nuclear waste for so many generations? This is dangerous. People of Australia really should think about our safety and well-being.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Stephanie March reporting.

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Russia investing in solar and wind energy – (while Australian government tries to stop it

antnuke-relevantflag_RussiaAustralia’s renewables wipe-out; Russia’s solar steps Business Spectator  BLOOMBERG NEW ENERGY FINANCE  3 SEP 14 “……….while the renewable industry is battling to stay alive in the world’s smallest continent, the biggest country in the world – Russia – is doing much to spur development in solar and wind.

Six solar power generators are slated to be built in southern Russia by 2016, with Moscow-based VC/PE investor Bright Capital and Solar Management having agreed to invest RUB 10bn ($US277m). The plants are to have a total capacity of at least 90MW, according to a statement from a signing ceremony with Bright Capital managing partner Mikhail Chuchkevich, Solar Management’s Pavel Shevchenko and Astrakhan governor Alexander Zhilkin on the regional government’s website. At capex over $US3/W, the project should be able to meet the Russian local content requirement.

Wind power, which is not, so far, much of an energy source in the country, is getting a boost with Chinese Xi’an Electric and Hong Kong’s Goldwind International Holdings mulling building a factory in partnership. The plant will manufacture wind power equipment, according to engineering firm E4 Group. Electronic equipment for the plant would be supplied by Xi’an Electric Engineering, which is part of the China XD Group, according to the statement.

Goldwind is not the only Chinese manufacturer to express an interest in Russia. Similar plans have been announced by other Chinese companies such as Dongfang Electric. Several European manufacturers including Siemens and Vestas are also believed to be looking at Russia. However, the country’s stringent local sourcing rules and disappointing interest in past tender rounds for wind have had a negative effect on investors. Still, for Goldwind, a final decision may be close: on August 26, it suspended trading of its shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, pending the announcement of a “major event”.

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ignore incorrect Report on Renewable Energy Target – say investors

solar-panels-and-moneyany changes to the RET scheme would need to pass through both the House of Representatives and the Senate and that Mackay Sugar would “continue to engage in the political process to urge government to adopt a more favourable approach”

Investors urge Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to ignore renewable energy target report KERRIE SINCLAIR THE COURIER-MAIL SEPTEMBER 02, 2014

AUSTRALIAN super funds with hundreds of millions of dollars ring-fenced for investment in renewable energy are poised to invest offshore unless the Federal Government makes a strong, long-term commitment to renewables.

The Investor Group on Climate Change, which represents Australian institutional investors with $1 trillion in funds under management, on Tuesday said it will urge the Abbott government to ignore a report which it said used incorrect investment assumptions. Continue reading

September 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

The most i,portant book for Australians to read – FORGOTTEN WAR by HENRY REYNOLDS

book-Forgotten-WarFORGOTTEN WAR by HENRY REYNOLDS Dave’s Book Group , September 2, 2014 This is perhaps the most important book one can read as an Australian.

The subject of the frontier conflict between the white colonists and the Aboriginal nations of Australia is directly relevant to the life chances afforded their descendants………

Reynolds begins by reminding us of the history wars that raged in the Australian media in the 90s and 2000s. He observes that during this time all sides of the debate, which was about how to talk about the colonisation of Australia, agreed on the importance of reconciliation, but none of them said what we needed to be reconciled to. It is hard to disagree with him. It does seem strange that we were silent on why there was a need for reconciliation even though we were happy to agree there was a need.

After this he returns to the familiar ground of the history wars in order to settle the key issue that was disputed at that time – what should we call the violence that occurred on the Australian frontier. Inside the first 50-60 pages he provides so many direct quotes from the highest British and colonial officials possible, one governor after another, that any doubt about whether the colonists thought they were at war is removed.  I had expected Reynolds tot go through the massacres one by one ordetail deaths region by region, perhaps because this has been done elsewhere, so much so that it can now be accessed on wikipedia.

It’s clear they considered it a war. One that was unfortunate, but necessary in their view to bring violence to a swift end rather than prolong it. The governors also supported this view with all the legal, military, political and logistical measures they could manage at the far end of the empire.

The result was the Aboriginal peoples resisted occupation violently, as any people would, but we’re defeated by a more numerous, better armed, and better organized opponent………

And so what next? It seems clear there was a consensus on killing in the 19th century, among the ruling class at least, and that there has been a consensus on forgetting in the 20th. What should the next consensus be?

Strangely perhaps Reynolds points to his key target, the Australian War Memorial, for a way forward.  He points out that its two key slogans are equally, if not more so, relevant to the Frontier War than the overseas wars to which they refer.

The first slogan is ‘lest we forget’. It is perfectly appropriate for the Frontier War. The second is “here is their spirit, in the heart of the land they love, and here we guard the record which they themselves made’. It is hard to think of a better line with which to commemorate the black dead of the Frontier War.

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Resources | Leave a comment