Australian news, and some related international items

South Australia Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission Community Consultation Coober Pedy 14 May 2015

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAIN Transcript by Noel Wauchope, 20 May 2015   This transcript is a reliable account of the proceedings, but is not word for word accurate. As far as possible, I have used the exact words.

KEVIN SCARCE:  My name’s Kevin  I have also here members of my team – Greg  Ward, Wes Taylor, Mary – .  About three months ago the governmnet decided that they wanted an inquiry into the nuclear fuel cycle, so they decided on  a Royal Commission. I have the Terms of Reference..I am responsible to investigate this. My job is to answer the four questions in the Terms of reference. By the end of this process I will deliver a Report to government, by 6th May 2016.
The reasons for this Royal Commission are:
1. It’s an independent inquiry
2. The second reason for a Royal Commission is that it is evidence-based. There is a lot of feeling in the community, about the nuclear fuel cycle. It is important to unearth the facts and also to examine the risks, – so that we have a basis for progress. We can think of this as an opportunity for the future.
3. Thirdly – the purpose to unearth facts. Royal Commissions are  a trusted venue for unearthing facts.
 First I’ll talk about we mean by the nuclear fuel cycle, and what we are attempting to do n this year long examination of the nuclear fuel cycle. I’ll talk about the processes of that cycle.Then about how you can help. I’ll talk about the process we are going to use to engage the community. The nuclear fuel cycle entails  the mining and processing of uranium,  manufacturing of nuclear fuel, and power generation , and storage of wastes – the costs and the risks – 

Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, South Australia | Leave a comment

Uranium policy in the Draft ALP Conference Platform 

Re: Uranium policy in the Draft ALP Platform for National Conference 2015

The 2015 Australian Labor Party (ALP) National Conference will be held from July 24/26 in Melbourne. Ahead of Conference the federal ALP has circulated draft policy documents for consultation and comment.

The full draft policy document can be found here with comments accepted from the general public as well as ALP members until Friday 29 May.

Tweedle-NuclearThe draft uranium policy as presented poses both unreasonable reductions in transparency and unacceptable increases in risk.

The draft policy seeks to remove:

· health, safety and monitoring protections for workers

· public accountability and industry transparency mechanisms

· a long standing veto on the importation and storage of international nuclear waste

The draft policy proposes to facilitate:

· the importation, storage and disposal of international nuclear waste

· all aspects of the nuclear industry except domestic nuclear power (ie- uranium enrichment/fuel fabrication/reprocessing/waste conditioning)

Against the backdrop of the continuing Fukushima crisis, directly fuelled by Australian uranium, it is important that the ALP does not further erode an already deficient policy.

Key national and state environmental groups will be making submissions in response to the above points, but we encourage anyone concerned about this backwards policy step to also contribute via the online comment process.

A little effort from us now might help stop a big set back at the national conference in July.

Some suggested points to include in your submission are listed below- please feel free to adapt and expand on these.

If you would like further information or to discuss the draft policy and response please contact: Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation, d.sweeney [at] or Natalie Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, beyondnuclearinitiative [at] Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors touted to the South Australian Royal Commission

SA inquiry hears of new breed of small nuclear reactors, Financial Review, by Simon Evans, 19 May 15   “…………..The nuclear royal commission being headed by former South Australian governor Kevin Scarce will examine the suitability of small reactors in the Australian energy market and will also scrutinise emerging technologies known as fast neutron reactors. The commission started in mid-April and Mr Scarce has held several community forums across South Australia in the past few weeks and is holding open sessions at the state’s three universities, including Adelaide University, over the next three days starting on May 19.

SMRs Australia

 Those fast neutron reactors are referred to in the industry as Generation IV reactors………….

 The issues paper says some of the new-generation reactors are “designed to use thorium as a fuel”. …………

Mr Scarce also points out that in Britain, which has a deregulated electricity market like the NEM, a new nuclear power generation project for Hinkley Point in Somerset had developed a regulated “contract for difference” model for the purchase of the electricity supplied by the facility to retailers. The £16 billion ($31.30 billion) project, which is being developed by French utility EDF, has started earthworks but there have been delays because of uncertainty around the final investment decision for what would be Britain’s first new nuclear power plant in two decades……..

May 20, 2015 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | 1 Comment

Federal parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties deliberating on uranium sales to India

To its credit, parliament’s treaties committee seems to be taking the problems with the India agreement seriously. If the committee recommends the deal be revised or rejected the onus will be on the government to take the problems seriously.

India-uranium1No yellow cake for India y Dave Sweeney – Monday, 18 May 2015  Despite widespread controversy around planned uranium sales to India, including from the government’s own former Director General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, the
moves to Melbourne this week taking evidence from groups concerned about security, safety and environmental impacts. Independent security analysts and representatives of the Uniting Church will join national environment groups Friends of the Earth and the Australian Conservation Foundation to highlight concerns over the contested sales plan. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Labor, Coalition agree on new renewable energy target

Renewable energy sector welcomes bipartisan RET deal, debate rages over burning of wood waste, ABC Radio 19 May 15 By Peta Donald The renewable energy sector has welcomed a bipartisan deal over the Renewable Energy Target (RET), saying it clears the way for billions of dollars of investment in energy from sources like the wind and the Sun.

The Federal Government and Labor yesterday agreed to lower the RET from 41,000 gigawatt hours to 33,000, to fully exempt trade-exposed industries from the target and to scrap the two-yearly reviews which threatened to derail the deal.

Instead, the Clean Energy Regulator will provide an annual statement to Parliament and the government of the day on progress towards the target, what impact it is having on electricity prices, and whether the scheme is at risk of default.

The Government could bring legislation for the new target to the Parliament as early as next week, which means more than 23 per cent of Australia’s power would come from renewable sources in five years. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

$6 billion cut to investment as result of new renewable energy target will mean

New renewable energy target will mean $6 billion cut to investment: analysts, SMH, May 18, 2015  National political reporter Six billion dollars in investment in wind and solar power will be lost as a result of a compromise deal on the renewable energy target, energy market analysts say.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance says investment in Australian projects will fall from an expected $20.6 billion by 2020 to $14.7 billion after the Abbott government and Labor reached a deal to reduce the target.

Monday’s agreement, which came after more than 12 months of political gridlock, will slash the original large-scale target of 41,000 gigawatt hours of annual renewable energy production by 2020 to 33,000 gigawatt hours.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said the expected drop in projects is “what we’ve had to accept in order to resolve this situation”.

“The industry was entirely frozen. There was no new investment if the situation continued,” he said. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

Mark Diesendorf shows why nuclear power is just not worth the risks

Accidents, waste and weapons: nuclear power isn’t worth the risks , The Conversation,   “……

The case for expanding nuclear energy is based on myths about its status, greenhouse gas emissions, proliferation, accidents, wastes and economics. Let’s take each in turn.


Nuclear is not, and has never been, a major energy force. Global annual nuclear energy generation peaked in 2006. Meanwhile its percentage contribution to global electricity generation has declined from its historic peak in 1993 of 17% to about 10% today. The only countries with significant growth are China, India, Russia and South Korea. In the rest of the world, retirements of ageing reactors are likely to outweigh new builds.

Greenhouse emissions

Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Uranium price plunges – AGAIN

graph-down-uraniumUranium daily spot price down 35 cents from week ago to $35.65/lb Washington (Platts)–19 May2015
The uranium daily spot price was $35.65/lb U3O8 Monday, down 35 cents from a week ago, according to price publisher TradeTech.
antnuke-relevantThe daily U3O8 spot price had held steady at $36/lb during four trading days, May 8-13, TradeTech reported. The spot price declined 25 cents on Thursday and by another 10 cents, to $35.65/lb, on Friday, according to TradeTech, which Monday reported it unchanged…….

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rossing uranium company ‘s losses, cuts production

graph-down-uraniumNamibia’s Rossing Uranium revenue tumbled in 2014 – official, Star Africa May 19, 2015  The impact of lower prices and the lower production figures in 2014 has strained Rossing Uranium’s revenue, which declined by 19 per cent compared to the previous year, leading to a net loss after tax of N$91 million (about US$8 million), compared to N$32 million (about US$2.7 million) profit in 2013.

The company’s turnover in 2014 was N$2.4 billion (about US$201 million), down from N$2.9 billion (about US$243 million) in 2013.

Managing director Werner Duvenhage revealed in a statement issued to APA on Tuesday that 2014 was a tough year due to continued decline of uranium globally, putting substantial pressure on the business.

“The challenging times currently experienced in our industry are mainly because of global influences. It was a tough year because the uranium price continued to decline globally, putting substantial pressure on our business, with the average uranium spot market price at US$33 (N$333) per lbs, much lower than the US$38 (N$418)) per lbs average in 2013,â€� he explained……….

Unfortunately, the uranium price declined further during the first half of the year, leading to a management and board decision to curtail production and meet only contractual commitments, with the resulting curtailment production plan effective from August 2014,� he said.

“The 2011 tsunami in Japan and its impact on the Fukushima nuclear plant still continued to plague the uranium market in 2014, with excess supply causing a decline in market prices.

“Nuclear plants in Japan remained off-line for most of the year. Supply has increased over the three years since the Fukushima incident.

“This is a recipe for continued weak prices in the near term. Utilities are holding large stocks in all forms, which defer their need to buy for one to three years on averageâ€�……

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tepco to ease its debts by selling uranium stockpiles

graph-down-uraniumflag-japanTepco looking to sell some uranium stockpiles to cut costs Japan Times, 19 May 15 Tokyo Electric Power Co. is planning to sell part of its uranium stockpiles for nuclear power generation in the current business year to cut costs amid uncertainty over the restart of idled nuclear plants, a company document obtained by Kyodo News showed Monday.

antnuke-relevantTepco has not consumed uranium since the 2011 nuclear crisis started at its Fukushima No. 1 complex that eventually resulted in all of Japan’s nuclear reactors being taken offline amid safety concerns. By reducing the stockpiles, the utility is seeking to slash costs for managing them as it faces funding difficulties stemming from the nuclear crisis.

According to the document, Tepco aims to reduce the amount of uranium to levels prior to the Fukushima disaster by the end of fiscal 2015 through March. The company estimated in the paper it can secure ¥12.3 billion ($103.13 million) by selling around half of the planned amount……..

Major utilities including Tepco procure uranium, which could be diverted to military use, under long-term contracts from overseas suppliers in Canada and elsewhere.

As of the end of March, Tepco had a total of 17,570 tons of uranium (tU), equivalent to the amount used at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant for 10 years, compared with 16,805 tU at the time of the nuclear disaster in March 2011.

The amount would increase to 19,317 tU in fiscal 2015 if the company does not sell some of the stockpile.The utility will likely return it to the suppliers or pay for the costs of uranium enrichment in kind, while it will also consider terminating uranium purchase contracts and reducing purchase volumes to streamline its business, according to the document.

Japan Atomic Power Co. has also taken the rare step of selling some of its uranium, apparently to raise money to repay loans amid its faltering business conditions.

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Research shows link between nuclear power and cancer

there was twice the chance of dying of breast cancer if you lived next to the Blackwater than if you lived next to the Crouch.
BREAST-CANCERflag-UKBreast cancer and nuclear power – statistics reveal the link ‘they’ wanted to hide, Ecologist  Chris Busby 18th May 2015  The link between nuclear power and cancer is real, writes Chris Busby, and revealed in the UK’s cancer statistics – if only you look for it. Previous approaches have focused on rare cancers over large, poorly selected populations. But look at common cancers among those most exposed to nuclear radiation, and the statistical evidence is overwhelming.

Do nuclear sites cause increases in cancer in those living nearby? This is the question which has always been the key to stopping the development of nuclear energy.

For if the answer is Yes, the laws would cut in; human rights would cut in. Check Mate. The nuclear industry and its supporters have always known this, just as the cigarette companies and the asbestos makers recognised their own specific nemesis.

You can argue about the economics of nuclear till you are blue in the face, but they can always move the goalposts, global warming, future security of supply, special new safe thorium reactors and so forth. But killing people with your radioactive discharges: that’s it. The End.

This week saw the publication in a peer-reviewed journal – Jacobs Journal of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine – of a study which I carried out in 2003 of breast cancer mortality 1995-2002 near Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Senators out to sabotage wind energy industry

Senators could demand wind power restrictions in RET scheme, The Age,  May 19, 2015   National political reporter Crossbenchers are set to demand the government shut wind power out of a portion of Australia’s renewable energy target, in exchange for backing the inclusion of native timber burning.

Day, Bob nukesLiberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm, Family First senator Bob Day and independent John Madigan will support the government’s proposal to bring wood waste into the scheme, but could seek conditions that would reserve part of the 33,000 gigawatt-hour target for solar and hydro power only.

The three senators are vocal opponents of wind turbines and sit on a parliamentarywind-farm-evil-1 committee examining their health effects that held public hearings in Canberra on Tuesday……..

Leyonhjelm,-DavidHe [David Leyonhjelm] said the senators were also talking about conditions they could seek for wind power to “prevent people from getting sick”.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said he feared this could see the Senate debate being sidetracked by views that were anti-science.

“The first place to start is that there is not one medical scientific body anywhere in the world that accepts wind turbines cause physiological illness,” he said.

“What’s really most disappointing in this is that it’s the aggressive anti-wind stance adopted by politicians and some members of the community that spreads alarm … and is a potential cause for some of the symptoms people experience.”

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said he was concerned solar and hydro projects could be “crowded out” of the renewable energy scheme by wind power.

May 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, wind | 1 Comment

Finland cancels plans for Olkiluoto 4 nuclear reactor

thumbs-downFinland cancels Olkiluoto 4 nuclear reactor – is the EPR finished?, The Ecologist,  Dr Jim Green & Oliver Tickell 15 May 15 

This week Finland cancelled its option for a second European Pressurised Reactor as the existing EPR project sinks into a abyss of cost over-runs, delays and litigation

text-relevantIt now looks like the EPR is a failed technology and its owner, French nuclear giant Areva, is fast running out of both money and orders as its ‘hot prospects’ evaporate.There’s been plenty of bad news recently for the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) nuclear power station design.

And now there’s more. The Finnish electricity company TVO announced this week that it had cancelled plans to build a second EPR at Olkiluoto in western Finland because of delays and problems with the first EPR on the site currently being built by Areva and Siemens.

That plant, Olkiluoto 3, is running severely over time and budget. Construction began in 2005 and it is not expected to commence operating until 2018, nine years late.

The estimated cost has risen from €3.2 billion (US$3.6b) to €8.5 billion (US$9.5b). Areva has already made provision for a €2.7 billion (US$3.0b) writedown on the project, with further losses expected. FTVO and Areva / Siemens are locked ina €10 billion legal battleover the cost overruns.

Finland’s government had given TVO a deadline of 30th June to request a building permit for its planned Olkiluoto 4 plant. TVO said it would not pursue the project due to “the delay of the start-up of Olkiluoto 3 plant unit.”

It added: “In this situation it is impossible to make significant Olkiluoto 4 related decisions necessary for the construction license application.” Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Global nuclear power market is in for a very hard time


About a dozen world governments are currently watching the global nuclear market as they remain on the fence with regard to nuclear energy’s future. This uncertainty, furthermore, persists against a background of the falling prices of oil, gas, and coal, and, in addition, problems that are mounting for the world’s major nuclear companies.

Survival of the fittest? World’s major nuclear builders are in for a long stretch in the red, Bellona, May 18, 2015 by  MOSCOW – Judging by the numerous reports on negotiations under way over new reactor construction projects, 2015 should be a pivotal year for nuclear power development across the world. The most vigorous efforts toward expanding their presence on the international markets are applied by the Russian Rosatom and France’s text-relevantAreva. But all is not so rosy with both companies’ balance sheets. In free market conditions, without generous subsidies from state budget, the industry is as good as paralyzed, and it’s no wonder that its leaders are made of those with access to state coffers. Will the largest nuclear competitors find salvation in their governments’ support?

Tightening belts

In mid-January, the international ratings agency Fitch downgraded 13 of the largest Russian companies. Among them was Atomenergoprom, part of the vast structure of the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom. The “BBB-“ rating is the lowest within the category of investment-grade ratings, and the negative outlook – the minus in the “BBB-” – means that it can be revised downward yet, which, in this case, means re-classification down to one of the speculative-grade ones. In other words, as per Fitch’s definitions, from a category characterized with “adequate” capacity for payment of financial commitments – with adverse business or economic conditions more likely to impair this capacity – the companies may be further “demoted” to a category with “an elevated vulnerability to default risk, particularly in the event of adverse changes in business or economic conditions over time.” Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Aboriginal leaders meet in Broome

Leaders unite to finish the land rights battle THE AUSTRALIAN, Natasha Robinson
MAY 20, 2015 
Aboriginal leaders from across the country have pledged to forge a new path to lift their people out of poverty and dependence, placing property rights at the centre of a national empowerment agenda that would shuck off the bureaucratic constraints threatening to reverse the gains of land rights and native title.

A historic meeting of more than 40 indigenous leaders in Broome yesterday heard that the enactment of land rights and native title legislation represented the “high point” of Aboriginal rights in ­recent decades, with those rights relentlessly undermined ever since by policies that had failed to afford indigenous people a true stake in policy and enterprise.

The roundtable was notable for its close co-operation between political warriors from the land rights era and conservative figures, with a remarkable level of agreement ­between the Left and the Right.

Reconciliation icon Patrick Dodson, hosting the event on Yawuru land, said the fight for true control over property and local economies was the “common backbone” of today’s Aboriginal rights movement.“Many of the gains that we thought we’d made … are now being undermined and dissipated,” Mr Dodson said. “We have a lot more in common than we have that divides us.

“None of us have got the silver bullet or the single answer, but we’re all searching for the best interests for the indigenous ­peoples, not just our own groups, but across Australia.”…….

The roundtable was attended by more than 40 indigenous leaders from across the country, including Cape York leader Noel Pearson, Northern Land Council chief executive Joe Morrison, chief executive of the Aboriginal charitable trust KRED Enter­prises Wayne Bergmann, North Australian Land and Sea Management Alliance chief executive Melissa George, Carpentaria Land Council director Murrandoo Yanner, National Native Title Tribunal president Raelene Webb and North Australia Land and Sea Management Alliance chairman Peter Yu. Mr Pearson said the initiation of the roundtable by Mr Gooda and Mr Wilson had “brought a really fresh angle” to discussions of economic development that were often divided along ideological lines……..

In cases where native title was extinguished, compensation was next to impossible for commun­ities to obtain, the meeting heard.


May 20, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment