Australian news, and some related international items

Assessment of Kevin Scarce’s Royal Commission forums

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINMy impression is that the Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission community forums are pretty formulaic. Kevin Scarce has got it all down pat , and does not stray from his agenda of the 4 Issues in the Terms of Reference.  A bit of lip service is paid to Renewable Energy, but it is clear that this will not feature in the serious examination of energy technologies. There is complete avoidance of legal issues.

The thing that gets me about Kevin Scarce and the Royal Commission, and the media coverage – is theScarce,--Kevin-glow pretense that this is all just a South Australian affair – despite the fact that these nuclear developments are illegal under national law. Of course this whole idea of making South Australia the world’s nuclear hub and waste dump concerns all of Australia.

The meeting at Coober Pedy (14/5/15) was quite a lively one, and the audience showed a degree of knowledge and sophistication that The Royal Commissioners might not have expected to find, in such a remote location. Concerns aired in questions included the problems of nuclear wastes – problems handed over to future generations, environmental concerns, and support for renewable energy rather than nuclear .

At University of South Australia – Mawson Lakes, (19/5/15) about 50 people attended. I have no report on this, other than that at least one University lecturer was worried  that harmful affects of tourism and agriculture and food would not be properly addressed, and small businesses would not put in submissions about the potential harm to their business.

At Adelaide University(22/5/15) around 250 people attended, and pro nuclear people were slightly in the majority – as evidenced by  a show of hands when asked for this. David Noonan of Wilderness Society didn’t get to ask his question – that the proposed activities the RC is investigating are currently illegal in Australia!

At Flinders University (20/5/15)  – (see report on this page) there was some pretty lively questioning.  Kevin Scarce was able to deflect very deftly any difficult questions. His two best techniques –  to point out that matters are “not in the Terms of Reference” and to urge the questioner to seek the answer and “put in a submission”.

A concern that showed up in Adelaide meetings was that of bias – questioners wanted to know about the agendas, the interests of the staff and expert advisers on the Commission. They also wanted to know about the companies involved, and their submissions to the Commission – will the Commission be transparent about this?


May 27, 2015 Posted by | Christina reviews, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Report on Royal Commission meeting at Flinders University 20 May 2015

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINPresentation of Royal Commission to meeting at Flinders University/Tonsley Campus, 20 May 2015

Kevin Scarce outlined purpose of the Royal Commission to examine the 4 issues set out in the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission.- to look at the opportunities and costs of expanding the nuclear fuel chain in South Australia – for the community, environment and economy.

He discussed each of the 4 Issues :

1 Exploration, Extraction and Milling – should this be expanded? Australia has about 30% known U deposits; SA has about 80% of that.

thorium – will consider sources, possible use of this, too.

  1. processing/manufacturing
  • conversion – uranium oxide to uranium hexafluoride
  • enrichment –to concentration suitable for reactors
  • enriched conversion to nuclear fuel/rods
  • medical/scientific isotopes – ANSTO produces these at reactor in Sydney. 10-15% from cyclotrons – one in SA.

3 nuclear reactors/power generation

  1. storage/disposal of nuclear wastes
  • low/intermediate level waste – radioactive materials (clothing, instruments etc) associated with  energy generation – can be treated to assist storage e.g. vitrification; synroc/ceramics;
  • to storage – encased steel & concrete
  • high level – heat produced so stored in wet storage pool to cool – encased in steel & concrete – intended to go to deep geological storage – Finland –developing only one at present  400m underground – operate from 2022 onwards
  • reprocessing of spent fuel rods can recover fuel –large infrastructure & complexity of process

He outlined the process of the Royal Commission. For Any questions needing detailed answer, people can consult the Issues Papers.

There is  a Royal Commission team of 15, who will be seeking national & international expertise. At present – framing ways to examine costs & opportunities. The Commission will be getting balance in talking to experts.

  •        The Commission will examine the issues papers , questions raised on complex processes,  and the Submissions in response to the Issues Papers by – early August response date.  The Submissions will be made public later in the year.
  • not clear here – I think there’s to be release of  & consultation about responses to issues papers– Adelaide & regionally to December
  • Commission will then develop findings – take back to community Feb
  • Final report to SA government – early May 2016

Questions from audience; Commissioner response Continue reading

May 27, 2015 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment