Australian news, and some related international items

Malcolm Turnbull favours importing radioactive trash to Australia

Turnbull nuclearAustralia could store nuclear waste for other countries, Malcolm Turnbull says, Guardian, , 28 Oct 15 PM tells Adelaide radio that he was sceptical Australia would ever build nuclear power stations, but a larger role in nuclear fuel industry was worth exploring….

Australia should “look closely” at expanding its role in the global nuclear energy industry, including leasing fuel rods to other countries and then storing the waste afterwards, Malcolm Turnbull has said.

But the prime minister said he was “sceptical” about whether Australia would ever build its own nuclear power stations to provide electricity to domestic customers, given the country had plentiful access to coal, gas, wind and solar sources.

Turnbull made the observations in a radio interview on Wednesday, a day after he named Dr Alan Finkel, a vocal advocate of nuclear power and the outgoing chancellor of Monash University, as Australia’s next chief scientist.

He was asked to weigh in on the issue during a visit to South Australia, where the state Labor government has launched a royal commission into options for participation in the nuclear fuel cycle. Turnbull praised the premier, Jay Weatherill, for setting up the inquiry…..

“…it’s a perfectly reasonable view: we’ve got the uranium [and] we mine it; why don’t we process it, turn it into the fuel rods, lease them to people overseas; when they’re done, bring them back – and we’ve got very stable geology in remote locations and a stable political environment – and store them?”

“That is a business that you could well imagine here.”….. playing that part in the nuclear fuel cycle I think is something that is worth looking at closely.”

Turnbull was environment minister in the Howard government, which commissioned a study into the feasibility of nuclear power by a task force led by the former Telstra chief, Ziggy Switkowski, who is now chairman of NBN Co……

The Australian Conservation Foundation described Turnbull’s comments as “ill-considered” and warned that radioactive waste was “a complex and contested policy area”.

“Radioactive waste presents serious environment, security and public health challenges – and it lasts a lot longer than any politician’s tenure,” said Dave Sweeney, a foundation campaigner.

Greenpeace dismissed nuclear power as “an expensive distraction from the real solutions to climate change, like solar and wind power”.

“It leaves a legacy of radioactive waste which remains dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years,” said Emma Gibson, head of program for Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

“We only have to look at the Fukushima disaster in Japan to be reminded of the health, social and economic impacts of a nuclear accident, and to see that this is not a safe option for Australians.”

Turnbull is seeking to bolster the Liberal party’s popularity in South Australia, where the government suffered political difficulties after his predecessor, Tony Abbott, backed away from a pre-election promise to build 12 submarines locally…….

October 28, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Australia’s govt and Opposition swing towards the nuclear industry

New Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg, who has said there is a moral obligation to exporting coal to provide energy for millions of people without access to electricity, has been a long-time supporter of nuclear power and said in his maiden speech that it was “inexplicable that in Australia we have yet to have a constructive and thorough debate about nuclear power, the only baseload, carbon-neutral energy source”.

Showing how the nuclear debate is moving, Mr Shorten also did not rule out nuclear power in the future, saying he would watch what the  South Australian royal commission says

Aust spin doctors 15

Nuclear power option should not be closed: federal government, Financial Review, by Laura Tingle, 27 Oct 15,  The federal government is keeping open the possibility of adopting nuclear energy to fulfil Australia’s baseload electricity needs while asserting the central role of coal to global energy needs.

The government has told the South Australian Nuclear Royal Commission that nuclear power plants can deliver large amounts of electricity with very low carbon emissions, and should not be closed off as an option.

The revelation came as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull rejected a call by a group of 60 prominent citizens for a moratorium on coal exports and new mines amid a revived debate about Australia’s energy future.

“No I don’t agree with a moratorium on the idea of exploiting coal”, Mr Turnbull said on Tuesday, a position backed by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten……. Continue reading

October 28, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Conflict of interest in nuclear authorities: Dr Gordon Edwards explains

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINDr Gordon Edwards at SA NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION hearing, 21 October 15 

Dr Edwards gave a wonderful explanation of the danger of nuclear technology, focussing on explaining  radioactivity.

He also spoke of his concerns about the independence of nuclear regulators, and of safety measures needed for population near nuclear facilities, for example, how Canada supplies potassium iodate pills to communities.

Extract DR EDWARDS: The complexity of the technology means that a lot of people 45 are mystified by it, including decision-makers, and politicians, for example, .SA Nuclear 21.10.15 P-742 Spark and Cannon generally don’t necessarily have a background in nuclear science. One of the only ones I know, I think, was Jimmy Carter, he was actually a nuclear engineer in the American nuclear navy. But outside of him, I don’t think of any major politician who has a background in nuclear science.

So that the  technology is sufficiently complicated that people tend to be mystified by it and therefore feel a little bit – they find it difficult to judge, other than by trusting the experts in the industry itself. The difficulty with trusting the people in the industry itself, is that there is either consciously or unconsciously a kind of a conflict of interest there because they are devoted to the industry 10 and they want the industry to succeed and of course they try to reassure the public that it’s safe and they try their best to make it safe but there is this problem of – well, what if they weren’t so devoted to the industry and had the same knowledge, would they make the same judgment? Would they perhaps see it as being unsafe? And one of the difficulties with dangerous technologies 15 is that people who work on the technology feel conflicted and it’s difficult to blow the whistle on a technology that you truly believe in. So this is an inherent problem.

Similarly when you have a regulator, although independence is the goal, it’s 20 difficult to maintain that independence. The people in the regulatory body are often drawn from the very industry that they are regulating because they are experienced in that field and consequently you need people with understanding and expertise, so how do you kind of keep regulatory independent when in fact there is this constant interaction between the people in the regulatory body and 25 the people in the industry. They tend to come to see themselves as colleagues and if I might draw an analogy, you might think of the regulator as drifting towards being more of a coach than a referee…….So this problem of independence is not an easy one to deal with…….

Another thing that I think would be very helpful in my own opinion would be regulators, as the industry itself, they tend to be very top heavy with engineers and physical scientists, geologists and such like, 5 chemists, the so-called hard scientists and they tend to be extremely thin on biomedical expertise. I think it’s very helpful to have some biomedical expertise in the regulatory body because they have a different perspective. They have a different approach and also if and when things do go wrong, the biomedical team can be very helpful in advising the public and the workers and 10 everybody, as to what kind of precautions to take in terms of protecting yourself. What kind of foods should be avoided? What kind of measures should be taken? I think it would be very reassuring to the public to have such people on board.

Moreover, if you had a health department, which we do not have in our regulator, if you had a health department staffed with competent and independent biomedical people, they could also help to educate workers and the public as to why we are so careful with this technology. Why we must invest in all these safety precautions because they could make it clear what the dangers are. Continue reading

October 28, 2015 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Time that Australia took a responsible attitude to radioactive trash management at Lucas heights

Lucas-09Australia’s Policy On Nuclear Waste Is All At Sea, Huffington Post, Dave Sweeney, 27 Oct 15   “…….. Australia has dropped the ball badly in relation to responsible radioactive waste management. For over 20 years, successive federal governments have repeatedly tried and failed to ‘solve’ this issue by imposing a national nuclear facility on unwilling remote communities. Apart from causing unnecessary and deep community stress, this approach has delivered little.

In late 2015 we have no national waste facility nor have we identified a possible future site. And we have a ship that is literally bringing this issue back home at a rate of knots. Instead of trying to dump this waste on remote Aboriginal land, a better solution can be found by referencing that most understated example of Aboriginal technology — the boomerang. It may come as a surprise to some but Lucas Heights is actually the most appropriate place for this waste to be stored.

ANSTO’s Lucas Heights facility has secure tenure and is actively policed. The site is fenced and patrolled and both generates and is home to the majority of Australia’s radioactive waste. The facility is also home to Australia’s highest concentration of nuclear expertise and technology.

Furthermore, after an Aboriginal-led campaign saw Muckaty Station in the NT removed as a possible waste site during a Federal Court trial last year, ANSTO has improved its ability to store waste at Lucas Heights with a new dedicated and purpose built on-site storage facility.

Key parties including ANSTO, industry lobby group The Australian Nuclear Association, and federal regulator The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency all agree that the secure management of radioactive waste at ANSTO is feasible and credible. And in a rare case of consensus on matters nuclear, national environment groups agree.

Two decades of short-term political ‘fixes’ for a long-term environmental and human challenge have delivered very little. Extended interim storage at the site of production at Lucas Heights offers the least-worst solution and provides a circuit breaker in a long running but scarcely advanced public debate.

It gives us the assurance and ability to do what Australia has never done and clearly needs to do. We need an evidence-based and open review into the best options to most responsibly manage Australia’s radioactive waste.

In the interest of all, including future Australians, this is an opportunity we cannot afford to waste.

October 28, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, wastes | Leave a comment

SUNBURY & MACEDON RANGES Residents ride for renewable energy

poster-renewables-rally  , by Esther Lauaki  Energy-conscious cyclists will strap on their helmets at a Ride for Renewables event this weekend.

The 15-kilometre ride on October 31 kicks off from the Black Forest timber mill near Woodend, heading for the site that locals propose for three wind turbines.

Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group hosts the annual Ride for Renewables to promote renewable energy in the region, including a large, government-funded solar panel project at the Woodend timber mill and a community wind farm.

The group hosts events and practical activities that seed sustainable living initiatives around the shire.

Group president Ralf Thesing says the ride is a chance for people to show their support for the two projects under way.

“These projects have been several years in the making, ” he said. “We want to install more solar panels on more homes.”

The proposed wind turbine project could generate enough power for up to 4500 homes – enough for Woodend, Macedon and Mount Macedon, he said.

Cyclists will need a water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, any medications, a high-visibility vest and comfortable clothing and helmets, Mr Thesing said. Registration and briefing are at 10am for an 11am start.


– See more at:

October 28, 2015 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull not keen on nuclear power, but keen on nuclear waste import

Turnbull nuclearMalcolm Turnbull sceptical about need for nuclear power plants in Australia, consults with ‘Brett the chef’, ABC News 27 Oct 15 By political reporter Anna Henderson Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has expressed reservations about whether Australia will need a French-style nuclear power industry, despite acknowledging there is support for further investigation into the technology in South Australia.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill set up a royal commission in March to undertake an independent investigation into the state’s participation in the nuclear fuel cycle.

In Adelaide for a day of media events, Mr Turnbull was asked for his view in an interview with local radio station 5AA……..

a lot of South Australians feel like this, and it’s a perfectly reasonable view, is we’ve got the uranium, we mine it, why don’t we process it, turn it into the fuel rods, lease them to people overseas?

“When they’re done, bring them back and we’ve got very stable geology in remote locations and a stable political environment and store them.

“That is a business that you could well imagine here.”

Mr Turnbull went on to lay out his view of the future of widespread nuclear power in Australia.

“Would we ever have a nuclear power station in Australia? Or like the French do, dozens of nuclear power stations?” he said.

“I would be a bit sceptical about that and I’m not talking about the politics.”

Mr Turnbull said Australia was already using more affordable sources of energy, including coal, gas, wind and solar……..

October 28, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Camp Concern: protestors recall and reactivate anti nuclear campaign in Kakadu

“The mining company that has benefited and profited from the use of this area and the mining lease now needs to move towards a comprehensive clean-up.

“We’re still not completely aware of contamination problems that need to be rehabilitated.

“What’s promising is the protest from Aboriginal communities against the mining is as strong as ever. There’s a lesson [from Camp Concern] in partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists sharing information together.”

kakaduCamp Concern: Activists reunite for anti-uranium mining protest 40 years later inside Kakadu 105.7 ABC Darwin  By Emilia Terzon and Lisa Pellegrino , 27 Oct 15 As uranium mining near Kakadu faces an uncertain future, activists calling themselves Camp Concern have reunited inside the Northern Territory park to mark 40 years on from the launch of an anti-mining protest. Continue reading

October 28, 2015 Posted by | history, Northern Territory, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

USA campaign to stop transport of dangerous radioactive trash

antnuke-relevantradiation-truckStop Fukushima Freeways Campaign Kicks Off
New Map shows DC AREA would be a Corridor for Extremely Dangerous Radioactive Nuclear Waste Shipments  
By: Nuclear Information & Resource Service (NIRS) Washington, DC October 27, 2015 – Over 250 intensely radioactive nuclear waste shipments would cross through the Washington DC metropolitan area and thousands more would travel across the roads, rails and waterways of the nation, if plans for the country’s first, and scientifically indefensible, nuclear waste repository in Nevada move forward. Today, Nuclear Information and Resource Service released maps of the likely routes radioactive shipments would use, joining dozens of environmental and clean energy groups across the country. The groups want residents to weigh in with Congress and decision makers about the dangers. Continue reading

October 28, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nevada residents aware of danger of transporting nuclear wastes


both Nevada residents and a host of anti-nuclear groups in states along the likely routes have opposed the plan, saying a mistake is inevitable in the transport of so much fuel, estimated by the Tennessee Environmental Council at 20 tons to 50 tons of irradiated fuel in each canister. 

Radioactive waste could be transported through Chattanooga, anti-nuclear group says {incl maps)  The Tennessee Environmental Council, an anti-nuclear watchdog group, says that Chattanooga is a likely waystation for the transport of nuclear waste on its way to Nevada.

A map released by the group shows that radioactive waste from 30 nuclear reactors would pass through Tennessee by rail, each shipment containing more radioactive material than the Hiroshima bomb blast.

Chattanooga would likely see shipments from the Sequoyah nuclear plant pass through on its way south and west, while fuel from the Watts Bar plant would likely be transported north. Other shipments coming from Georgia and beyond could be transported through Chattanooga on its way to Nashville.  Continue reading

October 28, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull on a tricky tightrope

To avoid an insurrection, Turnbull faces the challenge of not straying too far from the views of his colleagues. Yet at the same time his key political advantage is his ability to appeal to those voters who can’t stand the likes of Canavan and Abbott.
Turnbull tightrope
PM Malcolm muddled in the middle – defending coal while conceding solar-battery edge, Business Spectator TRISTAN EDIS  27 OCT Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull found himself today badly wedged in between the need to satisfy his more conservative Liberal-National colleagues and his own personal desire to align Australia in line with leading scientific thinking and the frontier of technological innovation…..

61 eminent Australians — including a science Nobel Laureate, Peter Doherty, and Australian of the Year for her service to medicine, Fiona Stanley — had issued an open letter urging world leaders to place a moratorium on new coal mines and expansions.

Meanwhile The Australian newspaper reveals that the Prime Minister is facing an internal push from some of his Liberal National colleagues, led by Nationals senator Matt Canavan, to push through with legislative amendments removing the right of environmental groups to mount legal challenges to environmental approvals such as what occurred in relation to Adani’s huge Carmichael coal mine. Continue reading

October 28, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Uranium price tumbles down and down and down

Washington (Platts)–27 Oct 2015

The daily spot price of uranium Monday was $36.50/lb U3O8, down $1.15 from October 20, following a week when sellers accepted incrementally lower offer prices, according to price reporting company TradeTech.

The U3O8 daily spot price has declined nearly every day since TradeTech reported it at $37.75/lb October 16 and 19. The price was $37.65/lb October 20, $37.35/lb the next day, $37/lb October 22 and $36.50/lb on October 22, according to the company, which reported the spot price unchanged Monday.

In its report Friday for the week ended that day, TradeTech said, “a few sellers did attempt to draw out additional buying interest by lowering offer prices. A few buyers did step into the market to take advantage of lower prices, but most buyers remained largely disinterested.”

Overall, it reported an aggregate of 700,000 lb of U3O8 in six transactions were concluded for the week ending Friday, “with prices declining with each successive transaction.”

TradeTech on Friday reported the weekly U3O8 spot price at $36.50/lb, down $1.25 from October 16.

Price reporting company Ux Consulting on Monday also reported a $36.50/lb weekly U3O8 spot price, down $1.25 from October 19…….

October 28, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


India-uranium1By Neena Bhandari | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis SYDNEY (IDN) 27 Oct 15  – Though the Australian Parliament has not yet ratified the Australia-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement signed in 2014, civil society, environment and disarmament advocates caution that sale of uranium to India would fuel a nuclear arms race in the region and undermine Australia’s strong credentials as an exponent of nuclear safeguards policies.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Australia has expressed grave concerns regarding the weak safeguards in the Agreement, the poor safety record at Indian nuclear facilities, and the implications of the Agreement for the nuclear non-proliferation regime. This is the first time the Australian Government would be selling uranium to a country that is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Continue reading

October 28, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

100% renewable energy electricity company launched in South Australia

map solar south-australiaSouth Australian company to launch country’s first 100 per cent renewable energy utility provider, ABC News   By Alex Mann, 26 Oct 15  A South Australian company will launch the country’s first 100 per cent renewable energy utility company, with the author of the 2008 Climate Change Review signalling his support.

Professor Ross Garnaut has been appointed chairman of Zen Energy and said the company’s launch would be a game changer.

“I’ve been disappointed that the established energy companies have not taken the opportunity that’s there,” he said.

The company will use a combination of solar power generation, battery storage, and localised energy grids to create self-sustained communities that will buy back the power they generate.

For years, Zen Energy has been putting battery units in people’s homes.

Now its chief executive Richard Turner plans to take entire communities off the grid — from social housing stock, to apartment buildings and regional communities.

He said he will generate the power, then sell it back to users at a fraction of the current costs.

“We’re looking at a spot in the market very soon where we’re going to be almost half the cost of the grid,” he said.

It could be the end of the power grid as we know it

It is just the latest disruption in an energy revolution sweeping across Australia which could spell the end of the power grid as we know it……….

October 28, 2015 Posted by | energy, South Australia | Leave a comment

Queensland’s huge wind solar plant goes ahead

renewable-energy-pictureAustralia’s First Wind/Solar Plant To Be Built In Queensland October 28, 2015 Energy Matters Construction of a $140 million combined wind and solar energy facility in North Queensland is expected to begin within a year.

Kennedy Energy Park will go ahead as a result of a 50/50 joint venture agreement between Canberra-based Windlab Limited and Japan’s Eurus Energy Holdings Corporation.

The first stage of the Kennedy Energy Park will see 6 wind turbines and 64,000 solar panels installed. The wind turbines used will have the largest span in Australia – 136 metres in diameter. The first stage of the park will generate enough power to supply more than 25,000 Queensland homes.

The second stage will involve 1200 MW of renewable energy capacity; enough to meet most of the state’s contribution to Australia’s Renewable Energy Target.

Windlab Chief Executive Officer, Roger Price, says Kennedy Energy Park will be able to match North Queensland’s’ current energy demand profile more than 80% of the time.

“This particular site has been carefully mapped and we know it is predominantly windy through the afternoon and into the evening, and obviously experiences sunlight during daylight hours. This resource profile ensures almost constant energy production,” he said.

Flinders Shire Council has backed the project……..

October 28, 2015 Posted by | energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

No reason for optimism about fusion nuclear power

nuclear-fusion-pieAnother Fusion White Elephant Sighted in Germany 27th, 2015  Helian  According to an article that just appeared in Science magazine, scientists in Germany have completed building a stellarator by the name of Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), and are seeking regulatory permission to turn the facility on in November.  If you can’t get past the Science paywall, here’s an article in the popular media with some links.  Like the much bigger ITER facility now under construction at Cadarache in France, W7-X is a magnetic fusion device.  In other words, its goal is to confine a plasma of heavy hydrogen isotopes at temperatures much hotter than the center of the sun with powerful magnetic fields in order to get them to fuse, releasing energy in the process.  There are significant differences between stellarators and the tokamak design used for ITER, but in both approaches the idea is to hold the plasma in place long enough to get significantly more fusion energy out than was necessary to confine and heat the plasma.  Both approaches are probably scientifically feasible.  Both are also white elephants, and a waste of scarce research dollars.

The problem is that both designs have an Achilles heel.  Its name is tritium.  Continue reading

October 28, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment