Australian news, and some related international items

Geoff Russell: Falls from solar rooftop a bigger danger than Fukushima?

thumbs-downscrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINGeoff Russell, Extract from Submission to the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission “……The Royal Commission is uniquely placed to learn from the past, but it will need to deal with the drivers of nuclear fear in the community. To build confidence in the community, the Commission’s report will need to convince both sides of politics to speak with one voice about the misinformation that drove (and drives) the Fukushima evacuation.

Appeasement, in the form of more and more levels of safeguards and protocols to attempt to say that “it can’t happen here” isn’t the answer. There will always be accidents despite every effort to avoid them. Planes still crash, but people understand the relative risks and board them regardless of personal fear.

They understand that fear is their personal problem and not a function of the objective facts. So it’s time to put nuclear accidents into perspective and stop treating them as something fundamentally different.

The fear and irrationality at Fukushima saw people die to avoid a trivial risk. Governments are supposed to protect people from nutters, not act on their behalf.

All energy sources have risks and in a rational world they’d be compared according to proper measures of suffering and disability; the simple trigger sequence logic (“nuclear -> cancer -> end of civilisation”) of decades past shouldn’t be allowed to influence decision making in 2015.

In Australia in 2010-11 there were 7730 Worker’s45 Compensation claims for serious injury resulting from falls from a height. How many were associated with rooftop solar panels? As far as I can see, nobody is even counting, but a million solar rooftops means more people on ladders; many of them amateurs. This is real danger, the kind that can put you in a wheel chair for the rest of your life. A proper comparison of nuclear risks with those of other energy sources will measure and include such risks along with the considerable risks associated with not avoiding continued climate destabilisation because we acted too slowly. We need safe clean energy and climate scientists say we need it fast. The Royal Commission will need to break with past traditions and confront nuclear fear head on and call it for what it is.

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | Leave a comment

Pacific Island Forum will be dominated by Australia’s Inaction on Climate Change

Australia’s inaction on climate change set to dominate Pacific Island talks, Guardian, 6 Sept 15  Australia and New Zealand are expected to face strong criticism from Pacific Island leaders disappointed the nations are not doing more to combat climate change.


The issue will likely dominate this week’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit in Port Moresby, ahead of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris later in the year.

Pacific leaders want the world to work on restricting the global warming temperature rise to 1.5C, fearing a 2C target will risk the survival of many tiny islands.

Natural disaster recovery will be fresh on their minds. The summit starts on Monday, six months after Cyclone Pam, which flattened much of Vanuatu and caused heavy flooding on Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands.

Host nation Papua New Guinea is grappling with the opposite problem – what could be its worst drought in 20 years and a potential food crisis.

The prime minister, Peter O’Neill, has said El Niño conditions have been exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are also experiencing a dry spell………

The Pacific Island Forum runs from 7-11 September.

September 6, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

How Water Becomes Radioactively Contaminated

text ionisingby Gordon Edwards, Ph.D.

(1) When nuclear fuel is used in a nuclear reactor or an atomic bomb, the atoms in the fuel are “split” (or “fissioned”) to produce energy.  The fission process is triggered by subatomic particles called neutrons.  In a nuclear reactor, when the neutrons are stopped, the fission process also stops.  This is called “shutting down the reactor.”

(2) But during the nuclear fission process, hundreds of new varieties of radioactive atoms are created that did not exist before.  These unwanted radioactive byproducts accumulate in the irradiated nuclear fuel — and they are, collectively, millions of times more radioactive than the original nuclear fuel.

(3) These newly created radioactive materials are classified as fission products, activation products, and transuranic elements.  Fission products — like iodine-131, cesium-137 and strontium-90 — are the broken pieces of atoms that have been split.  Activation products— like hydrogen-3 (“tritium”), carbon-14 and cobalt-60 — are the result of non-radioactive atoms being transformed into radioactive atoms after absorbing one or more stray neutrons.  Transuranic elements — like plutonium, neptunium, curium and americium — are created by transmutation after a massive uranium atom absorbs one or more neutrons to become an even more massive atom (hence “transuranic,” meaning “beyond uranium”).

(4) Because of these intensely radioactive byproducts, irradiated nuclear fuel continues to generate heat for years after the fission process has stopped.  This heat (“decay heat”) is caused by the ongoing atomic disintegration of the nuclear waste materials.  No one knows how to slow down or shut off the radioactive disintegration of these atoms, so the decay heat is literally unstoppable. But decay heat does gradually diminish over time, becoming much less intense after about 10 years.


(5) However, in the early years following a reactor shutdown, unless decay heat is continually removed as quickly as it is being produced, the temperature of the irradiated fuel can rise to dangerous levels — and radioactive gases, vapors and particles will be given off into the atmosphere at an unacceptable rate.


(6) The most common way to remove decay heat from irradiated fuel is to continually pour water on it. Tepco is doing this at the rate of about 400 tons a day. That water becomes contaminated with fission products, activation products and transuranic elements.  Since these waste materials are radiotoxic and harmful to all living things, the water cannot be released to the environment as long as it is contaminated.

(7) Besides the 400 tons of water used daily by Tepco to cool the melted cores of the three crippled reactors, another 400 tons of ground water is pouring into the damaged reactor buildings every day. This water is also becoming radioactively contaminated, so it too must be stored pending decontamination.


(8) Tepco is using an “Advanced Liquid Processing System” (ALPS) that is able to remove 62 different varieties of radioactive materials from the contaminated water — but the process is slow, removal is seldom 100 percent effective, and some varieties of radioactive materials are not removed at all.


(9) Tritium, for example, cannot be removed. Tritium is radioactive hydrogen, and when tritium atoms combine with oxygen atoms we get radioactive water molecules. No filtration system can remove the tritium from the water, because you can’t filter water from water. Released into the environment, tritium enters freely into all living things.


(10) Nuclear power is the ultimate example of the throwaway society. The irradiated fuel has to be sequestered from the environment of living things forever.  The high-quality materials used to construct the core area of a nuclear reactor can never be recycled or reused but must be perpetually stored as radioactive waste.  Malfunctioning reactors cannot be completely shut off because the decay heat continues long after shutdown.  And efforts to cool a badly crippled reactor that has melted down result in enormous volumes of radioactively contaminated water that must be stored or dumped into the environment.  No wonder some have called nuclear power “the unforgiving technology.”…….

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nine Medical Implications of Tritium-contaminated Water

water-radiationby Helen Caldicott, M.D.

(1) There is no way to separate tritium from contaminated water. Tritium, a soft beta emitter, is a potent carcinogen which remains radioactive for over 100 years. It concentrates in aquatic organisms including algae, seaweed, crustaceans and fish. Because it is tasteless, odorless and invisible, it will inevitably be ingested in food, including seafood, over many decades. It combines in the DNA molecule – the gene – where it can induce mutations that later lead to cancer. It causes brain tumors, birth deformities, and cancers of many organs. The situation is dire because there is no way to contain this radioactive water permanently and it will inevitable leak into the Pacific Ocean for over 50 years or longer along with many other very dangerous isotopes including cesium 137 which lasts for 300 years and causes very malignant muscle cancers –rhabdomyosarcomas, strontium 90 which also is radioactive for 300 years and causes bone cancers and leukemia, amongst many other radioactive elements.

(2) All cancers can be induced by radiation, and because much of the land in Fukushima and beyond is contaminated, the food – tea, beef, milk, green vegetables, rice, etc. – will remain radioactive for several hundred years.

(3)  “Cleanup” is a misnomer, radioactively contaminated soil, timber, leaves, and water cannot be decontaminated, just possibly moved to another site there to contaminate it.

(4)  Incineration of radioactive waste spreads the cancer-inducing agents to other areas including non-contaminated areas of Japan.

(5) Cancers have a long incubation period – 2 to 80 years after people eat or breath radioactively contaminated food or air.

(6) The IAEA says that decommissioning of these reactors will take 50 to 60 years and some people predict that this mess will never be cleaned up and removed.

(7) Where will Japan put this highly radioactive melted fuel, fuel rods and the like? There is absolutely no safe place to store this deadly material (that must be isolated from the exosphere for one million years according to the US EPA) on an island that is riven by earthquakes.

(8) As these radioactive elements continually seep into the water and the ocean and are emitted into the air the incidence of congenital deformities, cancer and genetic defects will inevitably increase over time and into future generations.

(9) Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of radiation than adults (little girls are twice as sensitive as boys) and fetuses are thousands of times more sensitive – one X ray to the pregnant abdomen doubles the incidence of leukemia in the child.


September 6, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scrutiny on IAEA claim of “no harm from Fukushima”

Why The IAEA Claim Of No Harm In Fukushima Is Wrong September 2nd, 2015

Portions of the new IAEA report on Fukushima have been criticized by the media and roundly slammed by Greenpeace. Much of the dispute is around a contradictory statement about the potential thyroid cancers in evacuees. IAEA admits that the exposure data being used is limited and unclear but went on to give a solid prediction there would be no thyroid cancers from Fukushima related exposures.

UNSCEAR and IAEA have been relying on outdated estimates done by the Fukushima Health Survey.  The Fukushima Health Survey adopted a dose estimate scheme created by NIRS. There are a number of problems with this dose estimate scheme.

  • The NIRS dose estimate is for external exposure only. The critical portion of any exposure related to thyroid cancer is the internal exposure. Usually by the inhalation or ingestion of iodine 131.
  • There are no actual radiation readings used for estimates made for exposures during the first three days of the accident. These first three days are also when some of the largest exposures would have happened
  • NIRS uses the source term radiation estimate provided by the Japanese government. This estimate has been proven to be extremely low by later studies including one that used CTBTO radiation monitors to back track estimate the levels of radiation released from the plant.
  • NIRS assumed most residents evacuated before radiation levels rose, for many this was not the case as not all residents evacuated early in the disaster
  • NIRS admits there is considerable uncertainty in their estimates and that recalculations may be in order if new data shows the source term or radiation levels were higher. This has never been done…………..

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Naomi Klein’s book is helped with marketing, by Australia’s climate criminal Tony Abbott

Book-Naomi-KleinClimate Criminal Tony Abbott Is The Best Marketing Possible For My New Book: Naomi Klein, New Matilda, By Thom Mitchell, 6 Sept

Australia is leading the world in willful ignorance on climate change, says one of the world’s most prominent activists. Thom Mitchell sat down with Naomi Klein.

Canadian writer, activist, and film-maker, Naomi Klein has called out the Abbott government’s response to climate change as perhaps the worst in the world, describing the nation’s targets carbon reduction targets as “egregious” and our Prime Minister as the “best marketing” possible for her new book, ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate’……..

Klein’s book is predicated on the argument that having failed to take any meaningful action for two full decades, the solutions to climate change must now involve a radical restructuring of global economies to provide the cash needed to cut out carbon, but it is couched in a vision of the climate crisis also acting as a catalyst for the progressive redistribution of wealth.

“The argument I make in the book is that the ideology, the world-view, that Joseph Stiglitz has called ‘market fundamentalism’ simply cannot accommodate what human beings need to do in the face of the climate crisis,” she said.

“This is an ideology that wages war on the regulation of corporations, wages war on the idea of collective action, is constantly trying to liberate corporations from the burden of taxation and that is just not compatible with what we need to do in the face of a civilisational crisis like climate change.”…….

Klein, who is also a board member of climate advocacy group, said that developed nations need to be slashing carbon pollution by 8 to 10 per cent year on year to keep within the two degree rise in average global temperatures the governments of the world have agreed is ‘dangerous’.

While the movements pushing for stronger action on climate change are winning, Klein said, “the problem is this [movement] is also on a firm and unyielding, science-based, deadline” and even the most ambitious targets countries have announced fall short of the pace of change science tells us is needed…….

For better or worse, Klein argues, global warming will change everything.

Klein said the broader economic agenda of the Abbott government – which has promoted the regressive concentration of wealth into the coffers of the nation’s richest or foreign mining moguls like Gautam Adani, the Indian billionaire attempting to develop the nation’s largest ever coal mine – is driven by the same neoliberal ideology that shackles climate action.

“What the book is arguing is we don’t just need climate action, we need climate justice; we need to take action on climate change in ways that simultaneously fights inequality and improves quality of life for the vast majority of people,” Klein said.

“Some people are going to have to sacrifice because some people have way too much — I would include myself in that category. But the fact is that most people are going to have a better life than they have right now if we do this right, if we transition right.

– See more at:

September 6, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott’s deceptive spin about the Paris Climate Targets

Abbott-firemanAbbott’s smoke and mirrors before Paris climate summit, The Saturday Paper, 22 Aug 15 MIKE SECCOMBE

Tony Abbott’s emissions reduction pledge ahead of the UN climate summit in Paris smacks of statistical sophistry and deceptive deadlines………one of the several specious arguments Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been using to create the impression – the false impression – that his government is serious about acting to limit climate change.

After the announcement of the government’s long-awaited new target for greenhouse gas emissions last week – a reduction of 26 per cent, and possibly 28 per cent on 2005 levels, by 2030 – Abbott fronted the media to insist it was “foursquare in the middle” of the pledges made by other nations ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Paris at year’s end.

“It’s better than Japan,” he boasted. “It’s almost the same as New Zealand. It’s a whisker below Canada. It’s a little below Europe. It’s about the same as the United States. It’s vastly better than Korea. Of course, it is unimaginably better than China.”

Except, of course, none of this is true. The Australian government’s target is not in the middle of the range, and Abbott had no right to be satisfied,….. Continue reading

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Queensland government makes a small start on recycling of batteries

recycleQld govt to recycle power tool batteries

September 6, 2015  BRISBANE dads will be able to safely dispose of their old power tool batteries in hardware stores under a new recycling program.

ENVIRONMENT Minister Steven Miles says special battery bins will be placed in Bunnings, Masters and Trade Tool stores in the city until next June.

“If you’ve bought your dad a power tool this Father’s Day make sure to tell him he can turn in his old battery. It will save clutter in the shed and save the environment at the same time,” Dr Miles said in a statement.

September 6, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment