Australian news, and some related international items

Coming refugee crisis as sea levels rise on Pacific Islands

antnuke-relevantFiji PM Warns Of Syria-Style Refugee Crisis If Rich Nations Don’t Do More On Climate, Thom Mitchell,  New Matilda, 2 Oct 15  Frank Bainimarama has taken aim at advanced nations for ignoring the plight of Pacific Islanders in pursuit of short-term economic growth. Thom Mitchell reports.

The Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has hit out at developing nations for their “unacceptable” progress in reducing carbon emissions as part of a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, in which he warned of a humanitarian refugee crisis on the scale of the current migration out of Syria if more is not done.

The talks come as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop seeks a place for Australia on the UN Security and Human Rights Councils, but Bainimarama warned that developed nations like Australia are not listening to the voice of Pacific Island nations, whose human rights are threatened by rising seas and hostile weather patterns.
Kiribati 15
“It is simply not acceptable for advanced economies to build a high standard of living on the degradation of the earth and the seas,” Bainimarama said.

The choices we face may be politically difficult in the short run, but the consequences we are already seeing – environmental degradation, unbearable heat, drought, powerful tropical storms and unpredictable weather patterns – are simply unacceptable,” he said.

“[Fiji] plans to move some 45 villages to higher ground, and we have already started.

“We have committed to resettle people from other low-lying, South Pacific Island States that face the prospect of being swallowed up by the rising ocean and falling inexorably to oblivion.

“Should that happen, the people of those Island States would be refugees as desperate and lost as the hundreds of thousands fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq,” he said.

As New Matilda reported in June, experts in migration law, like those at the University of New South Wales’Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, are already warning that the “disasters on steroids” climate change will bring is likely to create a need for special refugee visas.

It is clear by now that international pledges nations have made through the United Nations climate change process will not be enough to keep the global rise in temperature to less than two degrees, which is the level accepted as ‘safe’ by Australia and around 200 other nations:

October 2, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

When the nuclear financial chickens come home to roost

highly-recommendedWhen the party’s over … the financial spectre at the end of nuclear power  Ecologist,  Dr Ian Fairlie 1st October 2015  There are two rules about the end costs of nuclear power, writes Ian Fairlie. It’s far more than you ever knew. scrutiny-on-costsflag-UKAnd whatever sum of money was ever set aside, it’s nowhere near enough. Germany understands this. That’s why it refused to let E.ON spin off its nuclear liabilities into a hands-off company. But the UK, it seems, has lost the ability to learn from its nuclear mistakes.

Nuclear power has a wide spectrum of disadvantages.

One is that when reactors are shut down for good, a host of financial liabilities continue with no income flow from the sale of nuclear electricity to pay for them.

And enormous new liabilities for decommissioning and final disposal commence at the same time……

So what exactly are the liabilities?

The long term costs of nuclear power

Spent fuel. First is the managing of thousands of tonnes of spent fuel amassed over reactor lifetimes. The adjective ‘spent’ is perhaps misleading, as the fuel will remain extremely radioactive for decades, and progressively less radioactive for centuries……

Care, maintenance, defueling. Initially, nuclear utilities will be responsible for the continued cooling, care and maintenance of the final load of fuel in the reactor for about 5 years after closure. Then defueling takes another ~5 years.

Waste management and monitoring. Then utilities will have to carefully manage their still hot (both thermal and radioactive) spent fuel for a period of approximately 60 years either in ponds or in dry stores. After the initial 60 years of careful management, they will continue to be responsible for monitoring their cooling spent fuel for possibly up to another 240 years……..

Governments and nuclear enthusiasts have assured the public that final waste repositories are nigh. But they have been saying this since the start of nuclear power in the 1950s, with little to show for it. We should be prepared to accept the inconvenient truths that there is unlikely to be such a method for the long-term foreseeable future and that there may, in fact, be no such method.

Why do utilities have to manage their spent fuel for so long? The period of 300 years is derived from 10 half-lives of the 2 main dangerous radioisotopes, caesium-137 and strontium-90: both have ~30 year half-lives. A period of 10 half-lives reduces the radioactivity of the nuclear fuel by a factor of about 1,000 2, in this case 10 x 30 = 300 years.

Reactor hulks. Here the main nuclides of concern in reactor metalwork are cobalt-60 and iron-55, both with ~5 year half-lives. Applying the 10 half-life rule, means nuclear utilities will have look after the reactor hulks for at least 50 years. If it is found that their concrete containments are severely contaminated with tritium (hydrogen-3) with a half-life of 12 years, then about 10 x 12 = 120 years will be needed instead……..

Final nuclear waste repository. Finding a long term safe home for nuclear waste is the most expensive headache. There are no operating repositories in the world, and only one planned prototype repository (in Sweden). Such final nuclear waste dumps – if they are ever built – will not only be highly expensive but remain very contentious in all nuclear power countries.

Schemes for paying for nuclear wastes

The German Government has apparently proposed a deal to put nuclear liabilities (ie both spent fuel and decommissioning) in a trust, funded jointly by German nuclear utilities. This sounds a rational idea, but there’s something already like that for spent fuel in the US and its experience is discouraging 3…….



Will they ever learn? …

At the end of nuclear, onerous financial chickens come home to roost for nuclear utilities – and the squabbling begins as to who is going to carry the can. ……

In a nutshell, the problem is that a coal-fired or gas-fired power station can be decommissioned and dismantled in a few years, but nuclear reactors and their fuels could well take centuries. This means that nuclear end costs will inevitably be very large and remain contentious in all nuclear power countries.



October 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spain’s desert solar thermal plant – Australia could do this

antnuke-relevantEven after dark, vast Spanish solar plant harnesses sun’s power

GUADIX, SPAIN | BY MARCELO DEL POZO  Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Frances Kerry , 1 OCT 15 In December this year the UN Climate Conference takes place in Paris. Ahead of the summit, we will release a series of stories, titled “Earthprints,” that show the ability of humans to impact change on the landscape of the planet. From sprawling urban growth to the construction of new islands, each site has profoundly changed in the last 30 years. Each story has accompanying NASA satellite images that show the scale of the change. (here)

Near the town of Guadix, where summer temperatures often top 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), the main sound at the site is a whirring of motors to keep the mirrors – mounted on giant steel frames – tracking the sun as the Earth turns.

The Andasol plant, whose name combines the local Andalucia region with the Spanish word for sun – “sol”, provides electricity for up to about 500,000 people from about 620,000 curved mirrors.

solar thermal Andasol Spain

The glass alone would cover 1.5 square km (0.6 square miles) – the size of about 210 soccer pitches. Installed electricity generating capacity at this semi-desert site is about 150 megawatts.

There is little sign of life here, at an altitude of 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) near the snow-capped Sierra Nevada range. Some hardy red and yellow flowers grow around the fringes, a few pigeons flap past and workers say that the odd fox lopes by at night.

The environmental benefits of clean energy are judged to outweigh the scar to the landscape from the mirrors, which are visible from space. The land is infertile, there is little wildlife and few people live nearby. The biggest regional city, Granada, with about 240,000 people, is 70 km (45 miles) away.

Andasol was Europe’s first “parabolic trough solar power plant” when its first section opened in 2009 – California has the biggest.

Sunlight bounces off the mirrors to heat a synthetic oil in a tube to a blazing 400 degrees C (752 F). That energy is in turn used to drive a turbine, generating electricity.

At Andasol, some energy also goes into a “heat reservoir” – a tank containing thousands of tonnes of molten salt that can drive the turbines after sundown, or when it is overcast, for about 7.5 hours.

That gets round the main drawback for solar power – the sun does not always shine. The system is very different from better-known rooftop solar panels that transform sunlight directly into electricity……..

Solar power has massive potential – one U.N. study estimated the world’s electricity needs could be generated by harvesting solar power from an area of the Sahara 800 km (500 miles) by 800 km.

And in 2014, a report by the International Energy Agency said the sun could – with a radical shift in investments – be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear.

Capacity just from solar thermal plants like Andasol could expand to 1,000 gigawatts a year from 4 gigawatts at the end of 2013, the agency said……..

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry conference’s gloom about future prospects

Flag-USAradiation-sign-sadState Impact Pennsylvania reports, Oct 2 2015,  “….. industry leaders at the “Nuclear Matters” conference in Pittsburgh this week said they were disappointed in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the Obama Administration’s landmark carbon regulation for the power sector……..Industry executives complained about the competition from cheap natural gas, and about a suite of new regulations, imposed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commissions after the the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.

“With the current market as it exists now, we are competing, but we’re not winning,” said Sam Belcher, President and Chief Nuclear Officer for FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company, which operates three plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania……..

Larry Lindsey, a former economic policy assistant to George W. Bush and a speaker at the event, said the industry also suffered from the public’s and politicians’ “irrational fear” of the industry……”

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UK Labour’s shock – Jeremy Corbyn, a man of principle

Corbyn, Jeremyflag-UKThere must be something wrong with Jeremy Corbyn if he doesn’t want to cause a nuclear holocaust, Independent, It’s such a shame Labour didn’t elect somebody more moderate who would be willing to press the button, such as Kim Jong-un Mark Steel  @mrmarksteel  1 October 2015

It’s such a shame Labour didn’t elect somebody more moderate who would be willing to press the button, such as Kim Jong-un …. Corbyn revealed himself as a danger to us all by saying quietly “no”, in response to a calm and measured radio presenter yelling “Would you be prepared to press the button?” at him.

Continue reading

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Flinders Uni still might host Bjorn Lomborg, who now undemines renewable energy

Renewables won’t fix climate – Lomborg
CONTROVERSIAL scientist Bjorn Lomborg has defended the idea of a Climate Consensus Centre at an Adelaide university, saying climate change is real but renewables are not the answer.

FLINDERS University may host Dr Lomborg’s controversial $4 million taxpayer-funded centre despite protests from students and staff who argue it will hurt Australia’s standing in the academic world.

Lomborg, Bjorn

Background information about Bjorn Lomborg is available here: and here:


October 2, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Turnbull govt might appoint an adviser even worse than Maurice Newman

wind-farm-evil-1Scientist who likened wind industry to Hitler floated as potential Turnbull government adviser, The Age, October 1, 2015  Environment and immigration correspondent An expert who has likened the wind industry’s tactics to Hitler and claims the Australian Medical Association’s support for wind power is “corrupt” is among those that Senate crossbenchers want appointed as government advisers on wind power.

The office of Environment Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed he still intends to appoint a scientific committee to advise on the alleged impact of wind turbines on human health, despite the government’s new embrace of renewable energy under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The government will also soon announce who will fill the role of national wind farm commissioner to investigate complaints about wind turbines, despite refusing to appoint a full-time disability commissioner.

The government struck a deal with crossbench senators in June to address “community concerns about wind farms”, including establishing the scientific committee and consulting anti-wind senators when choosing its members.

Leyonhjelm,-DavidSenator David Leyonhjelm has suggested a number of candidates including Bruce Rapley, a New Zealand-based scientific consultant who strongly believes wind turbines negatively affect human health.

Dr Rapley’s position is at odds with findings by the National Health and Medical Research Council that there is no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause health problems.

In a submission to a Senate inquiry on wind farms, Dr Rapley said the AMA’s support for the industry was “yet one more example of how corrupt the system has become”………

Australian Wind Alliance national coordinator Andrew Bray said the Turnbull government should “call an end to Tony Abbott’s war on wind” and abolish plans for the commissioner and the scientific panel, saying both would play roles already filled by other agencies including state ombudsmen, environmental regulators and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

October 2, 2015 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Dr Arjun Makhijani explains why Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) are doomed to fail


Excerpt “…….the core idea of an SMR is that you have smaller reactors. Of course you lose the economies of scale, reactors are big because cost of  materials goes according to surface area, and power production goes according to volume, and the larger the reactor the smaller the material needed per kilowatt.

That is the theory and that is why there were small reactors in the fifties, they were proposed and we went to bigger reactors because they were cheaper, all other things being equal. So you go back to smaller reactors, the underlying technology will tell you that the costs per kilowatt, in terms of materials and labour, the number of wells you need per kilowatt, the amount of steel you need per kilowatt will all go up.

The proposal is that all of these costs would be offset by assembly line manufacturing. So you won’t have to set it up on site. And in theory it is a fair idea to evaluate and you ask what is the size of the assembly line you need? And who is going to create this assembly line and the required supply chain, the vessels and the pumps and valves and all of it? So if you look at what the Department of Energy has said, what the industry itself has said is that you can’t – so you are really displacing the heavy capital cost upstream from the reactor sites……

so now instead of having a 10 billion dollar problem, you have got a 50 or a 100 million dollar problem because to .SA Nuclear 01.10.15 P-431 Spark and Cannon set up a supply chain for say 100 or 150 reactors a year, you need that scale of investment……

you need a supply chain investment that is about the same order of kind of an assembly line for airbuses or (indistinct) So it’s very, very huge. So who is 5 going to make all of these orders that will cause some private party to make that investment in the assembly line? With airbuses we know they get advance orders of hundreds of aircraft and they set up their assembly lines. The answer to that question is, no one other than governments…….

SMRs Australia

How you would handle such a system from a regulatory point of view is 15 mysterious to me because when you have assembly lines, as I note in my paper, you have recalls. Today we have got an 11 million car recall, one of the most reputable companies from perhaps the most technologically reputable country in the world, Germany. What are we going to do if we have 2,000 assembly line reactors that are found to have a fault through design? By design I mean 20 as not properly conceived, or through some cover up, like what happened with Volkswagen. How are we going to deal with it? Are we going to shut them down? Are we going to send them to the manufacturer? Are we going to – it’s unclear…..

the fine 25 print of small module reactors is much, much more complicated economically and in terms of the risks and investments, than their performance have led you to believe. That’s why they’re not – I mean I think – at least two of the four companies that are embarked on it, are already not pursuing it in the United States. Fallen apart before anything was built…. ”

October 2, 2015 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | 1 Comment

The pro nuclear front group Breakthrough Institute joins push for nuclear power in South Australia

The Breakthrough Institute (BI) was notorious for its attacks on Al Gore and climate scientists.It has a long history of trying to   discredit renewable energy, in particular, attacking Germany’s Energiewende. More recently, BI has discovered climate change, as that is a useful tactic in their long-running promotion of new nuclear technology

the promoters of new nuclear reactors for South Australia certainly include idealistic and altruistic people, some of whom have bought the BI’s message. 

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINWho wants to be a nuclear billionaire? Independent Australia, 1 Oct 15  Noel Wauchope navigates the complex web of ambiguity behind submissions to South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission.Some promoters of nuclear industry expansion have very altruistic motivations.

Just who are the people who want South Australia to be a nuclear industry hub?  The submissions to the Royal Commission give some indications, though it is not easy to work this out……

The pro nuclear submissions on the whole, come from interested parties, where a commercial or career motive can be discerned: that is often clearly shown, but sometimes is not apparent. There are also some pro nuclear submissions that are quite cautious about promoting development, and a few who are inclined towards sitting on the fence.

Of the 94 pro nuclear submissions published, 46 come from companies or organisations connected with the nuclear industry. But who knows how many nuclear companies really did send in submissions, as theirs were allowed to not be published, due to ‘commercial in confidence’?

….most favoured topic, as with the organisations, was Issues Paper 3, “ELECTRICITY GENERATION”…

Their  backgrounds?  20 of the [pro nuclear] 48 individuals are now, or were formerly, employed in a nuclear or nuclear-related company, government or university department.(1)  In some cases they state this clearly, in other cases it is not apparent…..

Then there are the 2 career politicians, Sen Sean Edwards and MP Tom Kenyon, who have hitched their political future to the nuclear star.

Then there are nuclear publicists, who are not necessarily engineers or involved in the nuclear industry, but who have become well known for their pro nuclear articles or lobbying.  There are only 4 listed names that could be described as pro nuclear publicists (2)

….the majority of the pro nuclear  submissions enthuse about new nuclear reactors – “Generation IV” Small Modular Reactors” “Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors”.

When you add those individual submissions to the 46 from nuclear-related organisations, it looks as if the overwhelming support for new nuclear reactors comes from interested parties –  nuclear related companies, or individuals connected to the industry, who seek  profit or career advancement. Continue reading

October 2, 2015 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | 2 Comments

Australia’s uranium industry looks to Paris Climate Conference to save it

a-cat-CANRead between the lines, as BHP makes some of  the right noises about climate change, in its oh so worthy portfolio analysis of climate change. BHP warns about the need for action and supports carbon pricing.  It says it supports renewable energy, and does indeed support carbon capture and storage. 

BHP says little about uranium – but I suspect that this is the main game.

However, it is interesting that BHP makes a quite revolutionary statement, for a nuclear company, in for the first time, publicly acknowledging that the next nuclear disaster might be a damaging blow to the industry.

Perth Now reported, Oct 1 : 

“Mining giant BHP Billiton said this week it expected uranium would be the biggest winner in its portfolio, as the world comes under pressure to cut carbon emissions and limit global warming to two degrees celsius.

Australia holds the largest share of uranium resources globally. The ongoing South Australian royal commission into the nuclear fuel cycle is an important opportunity for Australia to review its contribution towards development of nuclear power, Dr Guthrie told mining industry executives in Sydney.”

BHP released a Climate Change portfolio analysis
“In a 2°C world, we believe there is a likelihood of upside for uranium, high-quality metallurgical coal and iron ore.”
“We are investing in the development of low-emissions technologies and supporting market mechanisms that provide financial incentives for emissions reductions and sustainable development. ….”
” a more diverse energy supply mix prevails, with significantly increased use of nuclear energy and renewables”
“Critical uncertainties impacting demand for BHP Billiton’s commodities in a 2°C world:

October 2, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment