Australian news, and some related international items

International Atomic Energy Agency team working at Tianjin explosion site

Huge blasts at Chinese port disrupts iron ore, oil shipments,  Cecilia Jamasmie | August 13, 2015 Two huge explosions that tore through an industrial area Wednesday night in the northeast Chinese port city of Tianjin, have killed at least 50 people and disrupted the flow of iron ore, oil, and other items through the world’s 10th largest port. Vast areas of the port have been devastated, and shipping containers crashed into one another, leaving them in bent, charred piles. Rows of new cars, lined up on vast lots for distribution across China, were reduced to blackened carcasses, AP reports.

Explosion Tianjin 15

The Tianjin Public Security Bureau said the explosion happened at the Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics Co. Ltd., which handles the transport of hazardous goods………

“It is unclear the extent of the disruption likely to be experienced to port activities,” Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG), Australia’s third-largest shipper, noted in a statement. “We will be monitoring the situation.

A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Beijing environmental emergency response center, as well as 214 Chinese military nuclear and biochemical materials specialists are working in the area, official Xinhua news agency reports………

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Radioactive polonium in seafood. as result of 1960s nuclear bomb tests

Kiwis exposed to radiation in seafood – study—study-2015081507#axzz3ipQ2JViV Saturday 15 Aug 2015 New Zealanders who eat a lot of seafood may be exposing themselves to radiation and putting their health at risk, a study suggests.


Researchers found seafood such as mussels, paua and oysters contained concentrated levels of radiation.

Those at particular risk were sub-populations for whom fish consumption was culturally important and those relying of fishing and shellfish collection to feed their families, the study’s authors said in an article released on Friday.

“Seafood has importance to the New Zealand population as a source of nutrition consumed in considerable amounts by some sectors of the community,” they said.

“Chemical contaminants in seafood can therefore lead to significant health burdens to the population and it is an important public health function to identify the contaminants of concern and characterise their exposure.”

Researchers measured levels of radioactive caesium and polonium in 36 kinds of seafood.

Levels of caesium were of minimal dietary concern, but levels of polonium could “contribute significantly to the dietary does of ionising radiation for high seafood consumers, although the magnitude varies considerably depending on the composition of seafood species consumed,” the researchers said.

They found levels in New Zealand were the same as found in other countries, which suggested the radiation was a worldwide result of global nuclear testing rather than the 2011 Fukushima incident.

Radiation levels were higher in seafood than other foods, they said.

The study by Andrew Pearson, Sally Gaw, Nikolaus Hermanspahn and Chris Glover was published in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity earlier this year.


  • Slapjack tuna
  • greenshell mussels
  • paua
  • queen scallop
  • rock lobster
  • Bluff oyster
  • littleneck clams


August 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Africa in a bind to buy costly nuclear technology

Pretoria has already signed non-binding inter-government agreements for nuclear power support from several countries including France, China and South Korea.


flag-S.AfricaNuclear power plan stirs fears of secrecy and graft Project could cost as much as $100 bn – experts., Money Web  Joe Brock, Reuters | 14 August 2015 Fears are growing in South Africa that agreements to build nuclear power plants that could be the most antnuke-relevantexpensive procurement in the country’s history will be made behind closed doors, without the necessary public scrutiny.

Among those voicing concern, two government sources say the Treasury is not being included in procurement discussions, despite the massive budgetary implications of a project that experts say may cost as much as $100 billion. Continue reading

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Judge defending the NSW Land and Environment Court

justice‘If you have a degraded environment, you’re impoverished’: Justice Brian Preston,  ENVIRONMENT EDITOR, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD August 14, 2015 – Brian Preston, chief judge of NSW Land and Environment Court, joins Peter Hannam for a chat over lunch……. The Land and Environment Court was the first so-named court in the world when it was established in 1979, according to Ben Boer, Emeritus Professor at Sydney Law School and Preston’s first lecturer on environmental law, and a long-time friend and collaborator. There are now about 700 such courts globally.

But long before he got the top job at the court, he helped found another key organ of environmental law: the Environmental Defender’s Office of NSW.

It was the EDO that last week won a ruling in the Federal Court that found Environment Minister Greg Hunt had not properly considered advice on two threatened species, the Yakka skink and the ornamental snake, when approving Adani’s huge $16 billion Carmichael coal mine in Queensland.

The verdict prompted Prime Minister Tony Abbott to declare that courts were being used to “sabotage” mining projects, adding that Australia “must, in principle, favour projects like this”. The NSW Bar rejected the comments..

While our lunch preceded Mr Abbott’s outburst, Preston defended the importance of judicial independence, and later remarked that miners too often view environment checks as merely red tape.

Preston makes time for our lunch between his court duties, ongoing research for a book on environmentally sustainable development, and his work for a global effort to find ways the law can be used to curb climate change. He also teaches biodiversity law at Sydney University, and has helped develop environmental law in China and Thailand – two nations particularly in need of regulatory control –……..

He says that having a specialist court with judges well-read in environmental issues does not imply – as some miners argue – that developers won’t get a fair hearing.

“You should be environmentally literate,” he said. “All courts strive to make the right decision and you’re more likely to make that if you’ve got more knowledge.”……..

August 14, 2015 Posted by | legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Guidelines for growing renewable energy in Victoria

Victoria-sunny.psdFour easy ways to grow renewable energy in Victoria, REneweconomy, By  on 12 August 2015  With the Abbott government sabotaging Australia’s clean energy future, states such as Victoria must step up and lead on renewable energy.

The uncertainty unleashed by the Abbott government has cost Australia’s renewable energy sector dearly. On the Prime Minister’s watch, investment has collapsed by 90 per cent and over 2,500 people working in the sector have lost their job.

Not content with its savage 20% cut to the national Renewable Energy Target, the Abbott government has dictated to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation that it can no longer invest in wind farms and rooftop solar power.

This is the context in which the Daniel Andrews government is developing its Renewable Energy Action Plan to grow the sector and jobs in Victoria.

The Andrews government has been sending all the right signals when it comes to renewable energy. It was elected with a commitment to repeal the Baillieu-era restrictions on wind farms. And it delivered on the commitment just months after taking office.

To date, the Andrews government has provided financial support for the Newstead community in it pursuit to be 100 per cent renewable by 2017, as well as a 30-KW community solar project in Woodend. It has also established a $20 million New Energy Fund to encourage investment in renewable energy and cleantech projects.

The Andrews government’s Renewable Energy Action Plan is due for release later in 2015 and will build on these positive first steps.

“We will do whatever we need to do to increase the total percentage of energy generated from clean sources but also do whatever we can to create more jobs,” Premier Andrews said while visiting the Ararat wind farm.

There are some straightforward ways the Victorian government can increase renewables before it announces its comprehensive plan. Continue reading

August 14, 2015 Posted by | energy, Victoria | 1 Comment

Young USA climate activists take legal action against government

Flag-USAYouth Sue Obama Administration For Allowing Climate Change, Violating Constitutional Rights

“We have a moral obligation to leave a healthy planet for future generations.” Huffington Post,  08/12/2015

climate young protestor

Twenty-one young people from around the country filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration on Tuesday accusing the federal government of violating their rights by contributing to climate change through the promotion of fossil fuels.

The plaintiffs, who range in age from 8 to 19, filed their complaint in U.S. District Court in Oregon. The complaint lists numerous defendants, including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Defendants have for decades ignored their own plans for stopping the dangerous destabilization of our nation’s climate system,” the plaintiffs said in their complaint, which was filed with the help of the Oregon-based nonprofit Our Children’s Trust. “Defendants have known of the unusually dangerous risk of harm to human life, liberty, and property that would be caused by continued fossil fuel use and increase [carbon dioxide] emissions.”

While setting new policies to reduce carbon emissions, the Obama administration has often touted an “all of the above” approach to energy policy that includes oil, natural gas, coal and renewable energy, the complaint continues. By continuing to promote the development and use of fossil fuels, the federal government violated their constitutional rights, the young plaintiffs allege.

“What we are providing is an opportunity for them to participate in the civic democratic process and go to the branch of government that can most protect their rights,” said Julia Olson, the lead counsel on the case………

In early August, Obama called climate change “one of the key challenges of our lifetime.”

 “We’re the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it,” the president told an audience at an event in the White House’s East Room, where he unveiled new regulations on emissions from power plants.

But in the eyes of Olson and the plaintiffs, that’s not enough. They are asking for a court orderto force Obama to immediately implement a national plan to decrease atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million — a level many scientists agree is thehighest safe concentration permissible — by the end of this century. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has already hit 400 parts per million.

“It’s really important that the court step in and do their jobs when there’s such intense violation of constitutional rights happening,” Olson said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Strategy for developing Australia’s renewable energy

Australia-solar-plugIn Australia, survey evidence has shown clearly that renewable energy is wildly popular (research and development on renewable and other low-emissions technologies also enjoys wide popularity across all climate-relevant segments of society), whereas fossil fuels, nuclear power, carbon taxes and increases in electricity bills are very unpopular. One conclusion from this evidence is clear: Labor’s renewable energy frame is likely to be appealing, and the Abbott Government’s fetishisation of coal is likely to be unappealing.
Australia’s renewable energy wars: How to win the argument for green power, The Interpreter,  12 August 2015 

The first post in this three-part series compared the energy plans of Australia’s major political parties with the rest of the world. The second post considered the economics of Australia transitioning to a renewables-based energy system. When it comes to the politics of climate change and renewable energy, it is relevant to consider both strategy and tactics.

Climate change is not going to be solved with a single giant global treaty and a perfect emissions trading scheme. Climate action is not, internationally or domestically, a ‘one shot game’. As such, agents of climate action, including policymakers, must take seriously the idea that decarbonising global and national economic sectors will require a strategic approach. Continue reading

August 14, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Problems in rare earth mining industry

rare-earth-dysprosiumMost Chinese rare earth miners running at a loss — report,  Cecilia Jamasmie | August 12, 2015 About 90% of China’s rare earth producers are currently operating at a loss as prices for the coveted elements — used in high-tech sectors — continue to drop due to overcapacity and illegal mining.

According to the Association of China Rare Earth Industry, local companies have been losing money for months and many are expected to close up shop before year-end.

Chen Zhanheng, the group’s deputy secretary-general, told China Daily the main issues weighing on the market are oversupply and illegal mining.

Many companies rushed into rare earth mining and production business when prices were high, he told the paper, producing much more than what the market really needed.

“Rare earths are not as difficult to mine and process as many seem to think, so many illegal miners are bypassing regulations to dig and smelt the metals. This, in turn, has led to a glut in the market,” he said.

The situation has not only affected small producers. The country’s six largest rare earth miners are also feeling the pinch, according to Investorintel: Continue reading

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian nuclear and climate news in brief

a-cat-CANTHE NUCLEAR PR WAR intensifies.  The South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission is now publishing submissions. Rather selectively.  Issues Paper 4  –  Management, Storage and Disposal of Waste is the most important topic, because the whole aim of the nuclear lobby and its shonky Commission is to get South Australia to take in the world’s radioactive trash.

On this trash topic, they’ve now published 44 submissions. No surprise that they didn’t manage to put in Dr Helen Caldicott’s one (or even my humble effort under real name Noel Christina Wauchope)

But they did manage to publish 29 pro nuclear ones. With one exception ( the Australian Workers Union), all of these come from industries, associations, and individuals who would benefit commercially or career-wise from the nuclear industry.

ABC Radio National came to the pro nuclear party, with Philip Adams hosting two nuclear propagandists.  SBS TV is to an extent coming to the same party, hosting a confusing programme about uranium. For just one thing, that programme buys the nuke lobby’s false story about bananas being equal to nuclear fission in their effects on the human body.

No time just now to do credit to the fine submissions from Australian organisations and individuals. But I cannot resist mentioning a splendid little piece from Brett Bernard Stokes. Brett lightens things up – even though what he says is true, anyway.

CLIMATE CHANGE. Many Australians, and international observers are dismayed, and shocked, at the Abbott government’s deliberately pathetic greenhouse gas emissions target. A UN climate expert warns that Australia will have to improve on this. But Abbott has no intention of meeting even his emissions target.

Surprise surprise! Australian women are more concerned about climate change, and more anti nuclear, than Australian men are.

ABORIGINAL ISSUES: Winda-Mara – Aboriginal success stories that we just don’t hear about.

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Electricity companies offer solar, battery, technologies for lease.


August 14, 2015 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

#NuclearCommissionSAust: an overview of submissions published about Radioactive Trash

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINSo far the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission has published 44 Submissions about Issues Paper 4 – Management, Storage and Disposal of Waste

Surprise surprise! They haven’t published Dr Helen Caldicott’s submission. They haven’t published mine, (written under my full name Noel Christina Wauchope)

Well, as the import of radioactive trash is the main purpose of this shonky Royal Commission, we can expect that they will give priority to the pro nuclear ones.

The tally for the published submissions?  – 29 in favour of South Australia importing radioactive trash, 15 against.

Of the 29 in favour- well – they ALL have  a vested or very obvious commercial or career interest in the radioactive-trash-import project.

  • 9 are actually companies or nuclear associations.
  • 2 are government agencies, – ANSTO and  the Commonwealth Government.
  • 14 Individuals – all with either direct connection to a nuclear /uranium company, or with a political/career motive
  • Australian Workers Union – a sad standout?  I guess they have bought the nuclear lobby mantra of “jobs jobs jobs”


August 14, 2015 Posted by | Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | Leave a comment

Nuclear is the wrong direction for SA: Environment groups enter submission to Royal Commission.

submission goodThree leading environmental organisations – Conservation SA, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Friends of the Earth, Australia – have submitted a detailed joint submission to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission which forensically details an extensive series of nuclear myths and false assumptions.

“South Australia’s future lies in renewable energy, not nuclear. It’s cheaper, safer and quicker to roll out,” said Conservation SA Chief Executive Craig Wilkins.

“This week’s axing of hundreds of jobs from Olympic Dam should raise huge questions about growth potential in the nuclear industry.

“With renewables, we can be in charge of our own destiny, not dependent on decisions made in corporate boardrooms on the other side of the world,” he said.

“Much of the nuclear promotion in SA is premised on the idea of a global nuclear ‘renaissance’, said lead submission author Dr Jim Green. “In fact, the nuclear renaissance is stone cold dead.

“There are fewer reactors now than there were a decade ago. Nuclear fuel cycle markets for enrichment, conversion and fuel fabrication are oversupplied. And as the continuing job losses at Olympic Dam demonstrate, the uranium market is extremely weak and will remain so for years,” he said.

As well as highlighting the contested and constrained status of the current nuclear sector the 248 page report makes a compelling case that the industry’s future will be no brighter.
“So-called Generation 3 reactors projects such as the French EPR and Westinghouse AP1000 are in trouble, with multi-year delays and multi-billion dollar cost blowouts,” said Dr Green. “So-called Generation 4 reactors are decades away and, as a recent report by the French government concludes, safety claims made by Generation 4 advocates do not stand up to scrutiny.”

Many environment, public health and Aboriginal groups have expressed concern that the Royal Commission is being used by the nuclear industry as a Trojan Horse in an attempt to open national and international radioactive waste dumps in SA.

“Australia has yet to find a lasting, responsible solution to domestic radioactive waste so it beggars belief that some are promoting Australia as the solution to the world’s nuclear waste problems.

“Proponents of a deep underground nuclear waste dump in Australia have been coy about the fact that the world’s only deep underground nuclear dump – in the US state of New Mexico – has been shut down following a February 2014 explosion,” Dr Green concluded.

Attachment 1: Two page submission briefing.

Attachment 2: Joint submission to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission by Conservation SA, Australian Conservation Foundation, and Friend¬¬s of the Earth, Australia.

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | Leave a comment

Chinese government sends nuclear experts to Tianjin explosion site

Chemical, nuclear experts testing Tianjin blast site, Aljazeera America,  Military has begun work on the ground in China’s northern port city where two explosions killed at least 55 dead August 14, 2015 China has sent chemical experts into Tianjin to test for toxic gases after a series of deadly explosions.

The team of nuclear and chemical experts is on the ground on Friday in the northern port city of Tianjin, the scene of two massive explosions that have left at least 55 people dead. Seventeen of the dead were from among the more than 1,000 firefighters sent to the mostly industrial zone to fight the ensuing blaze, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Explosion Tianjin 15

The chemical experts were testing the area for toxic gases, the official news agency Xinhua said, adding that the death toll had climbed to 55, with 701 admitted to hospital.

The team of 217 nuclear and biochemical materials specialists from the Chinese military began work at the site on Thursday.

The explosions at a warehouse for hazardous chemicals in the Chinese port of Tianjin on Wednesday raised questions about the whether the materials had been properly stored. Windows were shattered for miles around by the shockwaves, and the explosions were so big they were seen by satellites in space and registered on earthquake sensors.

Officials in Tianjin said they did not yet know what materials were at the hazardous goods storage facility where the explosions happened, or the cause of the blast.

But the Beijing News reported earlier that according to manufacturers, at least 700 ton of sodium cyanide were at the site, along with other substances, and the poisonous chemical had been detected in sewage samples in the area.

The report was no longer available on the newspaper’s website on Friday………..

ianjin is the 10th largest port in the world by container volume, according to the World Shipping Council, and the seventh-biggest in China. It handles vast amounts of metal ore, coal, steel, cars and crude oil.

Ships carrying oil and “hazardous products” were barred from the port Thursday, the Tianjin Maritime Safety Administration said on its official microblog. It also said vessels were not allowed to enter the central port zone, which is near the blast site.

State media said senior management of the company had been detained, and that President Xi Jinping demanded severe punishment for anyone found responsible for the explosions……..

As is customary during disasters, Chinese authorities tried to keep a tight control over information. Police kept journalists and bystanders away with a cordon about a mile from the site. On China’s popular microblogging platform of Weibo, some users complained that their posts about the blasts were deleted, and the number of searchable posts on the disaster fluctuated, in a sign that authorities were manipulating or placing limits on the number of posts.

The Tianjin government said that because of the blasts it had suspended online access to public corporate records. These records might be used to trace the ownership of Ruihai. It was not clear whether the blackout was due to technical damage related to the explosion. No one answered the phone at the Tianjin Market and Quality Supervision Administration or the Tianjin Administration for Industry and Commerce on Thursday.

Ruihai Logistics said on its website — before it was shut down — that it was established in 2011 and is an approved company for handling hazardous materials. It said it handles 1 million tons of cargo annually……..

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

#NuclearCommissionSAust plan rejected by the Australia Institute

submission goodAustralia Institute rejects nuclear option for South Australia, International Business Times, By  @ibtimesau on August 13 2015 The global debate on the safety of nuclear power continues, with South Australia joining the debate.

A plan by the state to set up either a nuclear waste dump or a nuclear power station was rejected by the Australia Institute due to major flaw in economic and technical assumptions for a domestic nuclear power industry. Richard Denniss, chief economist of the institute, points to lack of commercial scale of the technology being proposed as the most extreme assumption……..

Even nuclear power is not an option for the state, Denniss said, adding “Even if you totally dismiss issues like security, proliferation, safety, insurance and public opposition, nuclear energy is Australia is a very expensive and very slow option to implement.”

In its submission to the SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, the the institute said that if there was a way for other countries to profit from nuclear waste, it would have done so. It said the proposal would only “create a high level waste problem for ourselves in the hopes that we would be able to not merely solve it, but profit from it.”

The submission also cited experience of other countries that use nuclear power, such as France, which sources 80 percent of its electricity for nuclear plants. However, the 2014 net loss reported by Areva, the state-controlled nuclear power company, of 4.9 billion euro was even bigger than Areva’s stock market value of 3.7 billion euro.

The institute instead pushed for renewables such as solar and wind power, although Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is also cold to the idea of wind power, particularly windmills which he considers ugly…….

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | Leave a comment

Nuclear power will be redundant, as renewables develop fast -Conservation Council of SA

submission goodSA told prioritise renewables, not nuclear 9 News, AAP , 13 Aug 15,  Renewable energy should be prioritised over nuclear power, the Conservation Council of SA says.

Detailing its submission to South Australia’s royal commission into the nuclear fuel cycle, the council says the state’s future lies in renewable energy.

“It’s cheaper, safer and quicker to roll out,” the council’s chief executive Craig Wilkins said on Thursday.

 The council’s submission came after the Australia Institute said renewables would make nuclear energy redundant. “Solar and wind power, right now, is cheaper than nuclear power. And unlike nuclear, renewables are getting cheaper,” the institute said.

“In the time it would take to develop an Australian nuclear power industry, it will be made utterly redundant by renewables.”…..

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | Leave a comment

International Radio: Dr Helen Caldicott on Japan’s nuclear power restart

“the doctors have been told not to tell their patients that their symptoms are related to radiation. It’s a horrifying medical situation.”

Hear-This-wayQ&A: Dr. Helen Caldicott on Japan’s nuclear power restart, Free Speech Radio News BY  · AUGUST 12, 2015    DOWNLOAD AUDIO ………”The majority of Japanese people, 60 or 70 percent, are opposed to the reopening of reactors. There’ve been many, many demonstrations, but I’m afraid money counts over there. And Tepco and Toshiba are really the government, and when they decide it goes ahead. It is also being…it’s also happening Caldicott,-Helen-4because the nuclear industry in America is exerting a huge amount of pressure upon the Japanese industries to open again, for several reasons: a) It will increase the amount of uranium; b) [It will] encourage the nuclear industry in America; and c) Japan is a major producer of parts of nuclear reactors – the reactor vessel, etc. etc. – which they export all over the world, to Turkey and elsewhere. So there’s a huge amount of money involved and they don’t really care, let’s be frank, about people’s health. Continue reading

August 14, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment