Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear news in Australia this week.

a-cat-CANPolitics. Pro uranium policy in the Draft ALP Conference Platform. Federal parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties deliberating on uranium sales to India.    Senator Leyonhjelm & Senator Day – nuclear power is fine: wind power is the danger! Senator Bob Day wants nuclear submarines built in South Australia

Revealed – America’s long term push to make Australia accept nuclear waste.

White man’s greed for uranium mining behind closure of remote Aboriginal settlements? Aboriginal cultural heritage depends on remaining on homelands.

Australia’s nuclear lobby keen to “educate” schoolchildren

South Australia. Agricultural scientist warns that South Australia’s agriculture will be endangered by nuclear fuel chain developments. Aboriginal concerns over South Australia’s plans to store nuclear wastes.

South Australia Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission.

Renewable Energy  Labor, Coalition agree on new renewable energy target.  Australia leads the world in percentage of homes with solar power. BHP funded think tank Grattan Institute unfairly critical of solar energy. Australians overwhelmingly prefer solar energy – survey results.  Solar trams for Melbourne. Small scale solar power from Australian company transforms slum life in India. Australian breakthrough solar technology built in Cyprus in five weeks. Tasmania keen to fast track electric vehicles – and become 100% renewable energy powered

Climate change. Australia’s public sector now losing its climate change experts. Tony Abbott likes the Bjorn Lomborg recipe for inaction on Climate Change.   Bjorn Lomborg remains confident about his climate action delaying centre. Labor Party firmly supporting price on carbon

Environment. Environmental powers handed to the States – will mean falling standards.  Federal and Western Australian govts’ systematic attack on environmental critics.

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Call to allow clear participation for Royal Commission submissions – Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Congress

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINThe motion below was passed at Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Congress yesterday. It was moved by the CEPU (Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union) and seconded by Unions SA.

The motion was inspired after trade union representatives participated in a roundtable discussion in Adelaide hosted by Mark Parnell from the SA Greens, where the requirement for a JP to witness a submission to the RC was noted and condemned.

Nuclear Fuel Cell Cycle With regards to the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cell Cycle currently underway in South Australia, Congress notes with alarm the Commission has decided to require that all public submissions to be typed and sworn under oath in front of a Justice of the Peace before they will be accepted.

Requiring members of the public to take the time and resources to type and swear an oath before they can lodge a submission is an  unnecessary and surprising restriction that will serve as a huge barrier to participating in what is supposed to be an open, public, inclusive and democratic process.

To be required to type a submission then swear an oath just to have your say is simply not necessary, and will have a disproportionately large effect on regional and remote communities, a majority of which are Indigenous. Additionally, in many remote communities English is not a first language, so along with the typed and sworn oath requirements means that many Indigenous voices will not be heard in the Royal Commission

The requirements means that if you live in a community that does not have a Justice of the Peace or other authorised witness, you would need to drive (assuming access to car or transport) up to an hour or more to the nearest community that does.

This runs contrary to the spirit of having an open public inquiry and is particularly unacceptable given that it is indigenous communities that will be most impacted should the Commission make recommendations for the establishment of a nuclear waste facility because they will have the facility placed on their land.

Congress calls on the Royal Commission to:

1-    Restore and encourage the broadest possible public participation by removing the requirement for public submissions to be sworn under oath.

2-    Accept oral and written submissions from members of the public.

3-    Ensure that any activities in regional and remote indigenous communities are done in a culturally appropriate manner, including the provision of interpretation services at public meetings and ensuring that written materials are available in local languages.

May 29, 2015 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

America’s long term push to make Australia accept nuclear waste

WASTES-1US pressed Canberra to play ball on nuclear waste by: PAUL CLEARY May 29, 2015  

antnuke-relevantUS government cables from 1978 reveal Washington had a long-term strategy to make Australia acknowledge its “responsibility” to accept nuclear waste.

This pressure coincided with parliament’s approval on June 8 that year of a six-part ­regime to facilitate the mining, milling and exporting of uranium oxide.

Senior US officials began raising the waste issue in June when the two countries began high-level talks over a nuclear co-operation agreement, cables posted on the WikiLeaks website reveal.

A US embassy cable reported that Australia shared the US government’s views about uranium enrichment but “was unreceptive to questions about waste disposal in the Australia-Pacific area”.

When in September that year the Mirror editorialised against Australia’s accepting nuclear waste, US embassy officials told the Department of Foreign Affairs Australia should expect the US to “nudge” it about this issue.

The editorial was brought to the attention of the US embassy by Ron Walker, who headed the defence and nuclear division in the department. US officials bluntly told him Australia was essentially ignoring the problem of nuclear waste. “We replied by telling Walker he and other GOA (government of Australia) officials should assume that during the course of the next several decades there will inevitably be speculation about potential sites for nuclear waste storage,” the US officials wrote in the cable.

“We added that while we read GOA views ‘loud and clear’, the GOA should assume there will be continuing discussion about storage sites for nuclear wastes and in fact we would probably from time to time even go as far as to nudge the GOA about its responsibility in helping to find appropriate, safe and secure storage areas.”

The following week, two officials from the Australian embassy in Washington, described as “Starr and Knight”, asked the US State Department for guidance on talking points to respond to media reports. State Department officials said Australia should mention the US government’s policy of encouraging international co-operation in storage and processing of spent fuel.

One week later, an embassy official asked the State Department if the Australian government could use a form of words at the next Pacific Forum that said it was “highly unlikely” the US government would ask Pacific countries to accept spent nuclear fuel.

The US officials said Australia should not use this language.

The nuclear agreement referred to was signed by the Fraser government in 1979, but the Hawke government ended the plan to develop nuclear enrichment technology when it dismantled Australia’s laboratory-scale centrifuge enrichment plant.

May 29, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, wastes | Leave a comment

The Nuclear Lobby chooses to Erase the Dismal History of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)

Small reactors, in fact, date back to the earliest days of atomic power, and this long history shouldn’t SMRs Australiabe overlooked as vendors tout new generations of the technology. As the history makes clear, small nuclear reactors would be neither as cheap nor as easy to build and operate as their modern proponents are claiming they would be.

nothing in the history of small nuclear reactors suggests that they would be more economical than full-size ones. In fact, the record is pretty clear: Without exception, small reactors cost too much for the little electricity they produced, the result of both their low output and their poor performance. 

In the end, as an analyst for General Electric pronounced in 1966, “Nuclear power is a big-plant business: it is most competitive in the large plant sizes.” And if large nuclear reactors are not competitive, it is unlikely that small reactors will do any better. Worse, attempts to make them cheaper might end up exacerbating nuclear power’s other problems: production of long-lived radioactive waste, linkage with nuclear weapons, and the occasional catastrophic accident

antnuke-relevantThe Forgotten History of Small Nuclear Reactors Economics killed small nuclear power plants in the past—and probably will keep doing so, The Spectrum,  By M.V. Ramana 27 Apr 2015 A tantalizing proposition has taken hold again in the nuclear industry: that small nuclear reactors have economic and other advantages over the standard-size ones being built today. The idea is that by reducing the substantial financial risk of a full-scale nuclear project, small reactors are the best option for kick-starting a much-discussed revival of nuclear power. Continue reading

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear lobby keen to “educate” schoolchildren

Forget the nuclear family we are soon going to have nuclear classrooms if ANSTO has its way BRUCE MCDOUGALL THE DAILY TELEGRAPH MAY 28, 2015


AUSTRALIA’S nuclear facility at Lucas Heights is spearheading a major push to encourage schoolchildren to become scientists.

Thousands of secondary students have been invited to tour the country’s only operational nuclear reactor, meet its scientists and study their research programs.

As Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne launched a plan to make maths and science compulsory in the final year of school, 250 students arrived at Lucas Heights yesterday to work on special projects.

The Year 9 and Year 10 students from seven schools took part in a series of competitive challenges at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)……

May 29, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Trans Pacific Partnership is all about corporate control of government


the largest-ever international economic treaty that has ever been negotiated

Only five of the 29 chapters are about traditional trade. The others are about regulating the Internet and what Internet—Internet service providers have to collect information. They have to hand it over to companies under certain circumstances. It’s about regulating labor, what labor conditions can be applied, regulating, whether you can favor local industry, regulating the hospital healthcare system, privatization of hospitals. So, essentially, every aspect of the modern economy, even banking services, are in the TPP.

Julian Assange on the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Secretive Deal Isn’t About Trade, But Corporate Control As negotiations continue, WikiLeaks has published leaked chapters of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership — a global trade deal between the United States and 11 other countries. The TPP would cover 40 percent of the global economy, but details have been concealed from the public. A recently disclosed “Investment Chapter” highlights the intent of U.S.-led negotiators to create a tribunal where corporations can sue governments if their laws interfere with a company’s claimed future profits. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange warns the plan could chill the adoption of health and environmental regulations.


Watch more from our Julian Assange interview: Part 1 || Part 3 ||Part 4 || Part 5

TRANSCRIPT This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

Continue reading

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Examining the nuclear lobby’s hype about “planned construction of reactors

If we had a list of renewable projects that were planned and under construction, it would look like the renewable sector was 1000 per cent of what it actually is.  That’s because there are a lot of planned wind farms and even more solar farms.

In fact in interviews of Australian households beyond the 10 per cent who already have solar on their roof (25 per cent in South Australia), more than 75 per cent have a plan to get solar on their roof at some point in time.  A similar number believe or are “planning” to get batteries to deliver their solar power as a cheaper alternative to the grid at night.

text nuclear hypeSo if we put all the planned nuclear reactors that never get built against all the planned solar installs and wind installs around Australia and the rest of the world, the nuclear proposals would be so dwarfed to be completely irrelevant.

text-uranium-hypeIf  you’re hearing another one of these countless stories such as those being hawked at the pro-nuclear “Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission” being held in South Australia, just remember there are people who want their uranium penny stocks to take them from rags to riches or riches to even more riches that are creating most of the hype.

In the west, a second generation nuclear reactor is unacceptable and no third generation reactors have ever successfully been built. 

antnuke-relevantWhat if we all adopted the nuclear industry’s interpretation of a ‘planned’ project?MATTHEW WRIGHT   ,  HTTP://WWW.BUSINESSSPECTATOR.COM.AU/ARTICLE/2015/5/27/RENEWABLE-ENERGY/WHAT-IF-WE-ALL-ADOPTED-NUCLEAR-INDUSTRYS-INTERPRETATION-PLANNED
 You’d have to wonder how nuclear energy receives such a wave of fandom from some quarters, particularly in the business and conservative press.

If you search the definitive list of reactors on Wikipedia, you’ll find that reactors are being decommissioned globally at a rate of knots, and many more are set to be decommissioned in the not too distant future. This includes the entire fleet in Germany and a significant portion but unspecified number of reactors in Japan.

If you looked further, you’d find that you could count the total number of reactors built in 2014 and 2015 on just one hand.  In that period  there was activity predominately in China  — with its centralised state control avoiding the scrutiny the technology gets everywhere, outside a lone reactor in Argentina being the exception — but you could hardly get excited as that project was started when first of the Generation Ys were still in nappies in 1981.

So you’ve got a few plants getting built at a much slower pace than planned in China, and a bunch of plants ‘planned’ all over the place. But as is the case with almost all nuclear plans in the last 25 years, they’ve gone nowhere. They are plans (if a dream is a plan), but are not likely to be plants.

So why do we hear about these so called plans over and over? Continue reading

May 29, 2015 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Australia’s public sector now losing its climate change experts

 A 2012 ABARES report stated “Climate variability is a major risk for agricultural production, and this risk is likely to increase under future climate change”.

Canberra’s climate change brain drain becoming critical, The Mandarin 28 May 15  by Climate change expertise is being lost from the public sector as the government fails to fill board vacancies and departments stop commissioning climate policy modelling from ABARES. Continue reading

May 29, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Social priorities and technical conflicts for small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs)

antnuke-relevantOne size doesn’t fit all: Social priorities and technical conflicts for small modular reactors, February 2014  M.V. Ramana,  Zia Mian 


Small modular reactors (SMRs) have been proposed as a possible way to address the social problems confronting nuclear power, including poor economics, the possibility of catastrophic accidents, radioactive waste production, and linkage to nuclear weapon proliferation. Several SMR designs, with diverse technical characteristics, are being developed around the world and are promoted as addressing one or more of these problems.

This paper examines the basic features of different kinds of SMRs and shows why the technical characteristics of SMRs do not allow them to solve simultaneously all four of the problems identified with nuclear power today. It shows that the leading SMR designs under development involve choices and trade-offs between desired features. Focusing on a single challenge, for example cost reduction, might make other challenges more acute.


The paper then briefly discusses other cultural and political factors that contribute to the widespread enthusiasm for these reactors, despite technical and historical reasons to doubt that the promises offered by SMR technology advocates will be actually realized.

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Federal and Western Australian govts systematic attack on environmental critics

Funding withdrawal from Environmental Defender’s Office criticised as ‘systematic attack’ on community groups, ABC News, By Stephanie Dalzell, 28 May 15, The Conservation Council of Western Australia has accused the State and Federal Governments of launching a “systematic attack” on community groups which scrutinise policy decisions.

The criticism comes after WA’s Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) had its funding completely withdrawn by the State Government, effective from the end of this financial year.

The decision follows similar action by the Federal Government in 2013.

The EDO, which also relies on grants and donations, said the combined cut in state and federal funding would leave it with a gap of $250,000 in annual operating expenses. Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen said the cut appeared to be a direct response to the EDO’s advocacy for groups which challenged policy or development decisions.

“The EDO is an extremely important organisation in our community and it brings scrutiny to environmental issues often where government make bad decisions or go wrong in relation to environmental management,” he said. “I think the Government’s keen to remove that scrutiny.

“I think this is part of a systematic attack on community groups around the country that engage in advocacy on environmental issues and stand up for clean water, healthy land, and healthy ecosystems.

“And when that doesn’t align with government policy or the industries that government [is] supporting, that’s when government [feels] uncomfortable with that advocacy and [starts] to cut funding.”……..

May 29, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

BHP funded Grattan Institute unfairly critical of solar energy

The Grattan Institute reported negatively on solar energy.  Don’t let’s forget that the Grattan Institute is largely funded by BHP
As the nation with the highest deployment of rooftop solar “we’re now in an envious position” to capitalise on developments in storage technology

Solar Industry Hits Back At Report Critical Of Roof-Top Solar, New Matilda, By Thom Mitchell, 27 May 15  A report by a respected think-tank is being slammed by key players in the solar energy industry. Thom MItchell reports.

A report published by the Grattan Institute on Monday has been dismissed by the solar industry, which argues its critique of generous state and federal government subsidy schemes misrepresents their true value and ignores important flow-on benefits. Continue reading

May 29, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar, spinbuster | Leave a comment