Australian news, and some related international items

Bobby Brown’s Submission to #NuclearCommissionSAust

Bobby Brown Submission

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | 1 Comment

Western Australia’s Yeelirrie uranium proposal poses genuine extinction threat

text-uranium-hypeState and national environment and Indigenous groups have called on the state EPA to reject Canadian company Cameco’s proposal to mine uranium at Yeelirrie in WA’s East Murchison region.

 The call comes as the groups formally provided the EPA with a detailed critique highlighting specific community, environmental and procedural issues, along with wider nuclear industry safety and security concerns. Over 2,000 individual submissions were made to the EPA opposing the Yeelirrie uranium proposal.

 A key specific concern involves the threat of species being made extinct as a result of the project. “This proposal threatens to make 15 species of subterranean fauna extinct,” said CCWA nuclear free campaigner Mia Pepper.

 “We want the EPA to reject the proposal because of these unacceptable impacts.  In its current form the project is likely to cause the extinction of ten species of stygofauna and five species of troglofauna.* These creatures might be small and hard to count but that does not mean that they don’t matter.”  

 Many of the area’s Traditional Owners have opposed proposals to mine uranium at Yeelirrie for more than 40 years.  Pastoral operators and other stakeholders have also raised concerns about the impact on scarce water resources and the problems of dust and airborne pollution from a planned 9 kilometre open pit and large stockpiles of radioactive material in a region known for regular high winds.

 “There is scant economic incentive for this mine,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.   “The uranium market remains depressed and the commodity price has flat-lined. Cameco wants a paper approval to effectively warehouse a product that lacks social license and demand.

 “Cameco – and two other WA uranium hopefuls – are racing to get assessments approved before the next state election.  This might make sense for a company but it doesn’t make for good public policy.

 “We are deeply concerned about fast tracked approvals for deficient proposals and urge the EPA to say no to extinction by saying no to this uranium mine.”


December 14, 2015 Posted by | environment, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Paris Agreement Keeps the flames of hope and commitment alive

logo Paris climate1


Philippa Rowland, 14 Dec 15 a new climate agreement struck last night with all countries on board – For me, one important outcomes is keeping the small flames of hope and commitment inside each and everyone of us alive and burning fiercely, for there is absolutely no doubt that the Earth needs champions at this time and that there will be hard yards ahead as we make out way through the next decades.

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

Australian Women in Agriculture back island communities in call for climate action NOW

remoter communities, these Indigenous communities, are being talked to, rather than being part of, the discussion.”

Another woman from the Maldives told the gathering that her community of small, low-lying islands off the coast of India, had now lost all their fresh water.

“She was extremely passionate in saying, ‘How much more do we need to know? Why can’t we act now?’.

“So the developed world sits back and argues about language, but the developing world is actually experiencing it.”

Kiribati 15Listen to remote communities concerns on climate change says Australian Women in Agriculture representative from Paris ABC Rural  By Anna Vidot While some farmers are sceptical about human-induced climate change, one woman in agriculture says Australia needs to listen to the concerns of farmers and remote communities who say they’re already being affected.

Professor Daniela Stehlik is a member and former board member of Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA). She is their representative on a self-funded trip to Paris during the COP21 climate summit.

Attending talks with other women in agriculture on the sidelines of the government negotiations, Professor Stehlik said agricultural women had sent a clear message.

“Listening to the women from the Maldives and from Ecuador, from Canada and North Dakota [in the United States], it’s affecting them right now,” Professor Stehlik said. “For them, the discussion about whether it is or it isn’t [affecting them] is moot. It’s kind of like, well … just get on with it.

“What I’d be saying to people is, let’s not always just look at our own backyard. “Let’s see what’s happening around the world, let’s hear from other people about how they believe it’s impacting them, and then let’s think about how what we’re doing can make a difference.”

The talks have provided practical examples of what communities in developed countries like Australia can do, and are already doing, Professor Stehlik said.

Parisians undertake to meet renewable energy target Continue reading

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

Some optimism on the results of the Paris Climate Conference

So I leave thinking the Paris agreement – for the first time setting expectations for all nations and for the world – might just be a strong enough signal to give real momentum towards slowing global warming despite the dysfunctional international process and the imperfect national promises and the arguments over detail that will continue interminably at such conferences.

logo Paris climate1Paris climate deal might just be enough to start turning the tide on global warming
Despite the dysfunctional international process and the imperfect national promises and the arguments over detail, the Paris agreement – setting solid expectations for the world to limit temperature rise – gives even a cynic cause for optimism,
Guardian   in Paris 13 Dec 15 “……Two weeks at the climate summit were a wild ride between cynicism and the final realisation that there were reasons to be optimistic, despite the dysfunctionality of it all. And not just because of good lunches…….

Island states and low-lying “climate vulnerable” countries like the Marshall Islands, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Vietnam run an unexpectedly effective campaign to change the goal of the agreement from limiting global warming at 2C to bringing it back to less than 1.5C. They assemble powerful supporters, including the United States, the European Union, Germany, France, Brazil and – eventually – Australia. President Obama spent some of his two days in Paris meeting with island state leaders and calls himself an “island boy”. The young activists paint 1.5C on their faces and sing songs about it in the streets.

In the end it all boils down to an agreed “purpose” in the Paris deal to hold global temperature increases to “well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit (them) to 1.5C, recognising that this would significantly reduce risks and impacts of climate change”…….. Continue reading

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

Pressure now on Turnbull to improve Australia’s climate policies

Turnbull in hot panHeat turned up on Malcolm Turnbull’s domestic climate policies as world pledges to act, SMH, December 14, 2015  Environment and immigration correspondent A watershed climate pact in Paris has stepped up pressure on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to act at home to curb emissions and phase out fossil fuels, as the federal government warns it will not risk the economy to meet the new global commitment.

Labor says the Paris agreement struck over the weekend, under which all nations will aim to keep global warming below 2 degrees or lower compared with pre-industrial levels, shows Australia’s domestic policies are “out of step with the rest of the world” and inconsistent with the new global accord.

The Greens and environment groups say the agreement shows the coal era is over and renewable power – set for an investment boost following the Paris talks – is now undeniably central to the world’s energy future. Continue reading

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

In Australian Capital Territory panasonic home battery trial launched

sunFirst panasonic home battery trial launched in the ACT December 11, 2015  Reporter for The Canberra Times ActewAGL has partnered with Panasonic to promote the installation of solar panel and storage battery packages across the territory. Continue reading

December 14, 2015 Posted by | ACT, storage | Leave a comment

New wind farms to go ahead as Turnbull removes barrier to Clean Energy investment

Wind turbines in Azerbaijan. End of Tony Abbott’s war on wind farms gives green light to Capital Region projects, Canberra Times, December 13, 2015  Canberra Times reporter Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to lift Tony Abbott’s controversial ban on government investment in wind power has been embraced by the Australian Capital Region farming community.

On Sunday, Fairfax Media revealed Environment Minister Greg Hunt has issued the Clean Energy Finance Corporation with new orders that negate the Abbott government’s June decree, which prohibited the $10 billion green bank from investing in new wind power projects.

The move gives the Clean Energy Finance Corporation the green light to fund many wind farms in the Southern Tablelands – one of Australia’s fastest growing wind investment regions – enabling them to progress from planning to construction.

Crookwell farmer and NSW regional organiser for the Australian Wind Alliance, Charlie Prell, said wind farms now able to access funding include Collector, Rye Park, Yass Valley, Bango, Rugby, Crookwell two and three, Capital two, and Boco two.

“All of these wind farms will contribute massively to the local economy, not only during construction, but over the life of the wind farms,” Mr Prell said.

“It’s giving farmers in these regions a passive income stream with making our operations more sustainable, financially and environmentally, and giving local businesses the opportunity to participate in construction activities.”

Under the new mandate, the corporation will be allowed to invest in any wind projects provided they involve “emerging and innovative” technology, although it does encourage it to “focus on offshore wind technologies”.

Mr Prell said the wind farms already operating in this area have contributed significantly to small business, particularly in Goulburn, Bungendore, Taralga and Crookwel……..

December 14, 2015 Posted by | ACT, New South Wales, wind | Leave a comment

33,480 US nuclear workers’ deaths due to radiation exposure


Flag-USAAt least 33,480 US nuclear workers died of exposure: Report   A yearlong investigation reveals that America’s great push to win World War II and the Cold War has left “a legacy of death on American soil,” with at least 33,480 US nuclear workers dying of radiation exposure over the course of the last seven decades. Continue reading

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

Idaho nuclear workers – 390 deaths from radiation- caused linnesses

death-nuclearFlag-USAFederal government acknowledges nuclear radiation likely killed 396 in Idaho, George Zapo, Inquisitr, 13 Dec 15 The federal government acknowledged that nuclear radiation work performed at an Idaho site likely caused or contributed to the deaths of 396 workers. Hundreds of Idaho National Laboratory (INL) employees have filed health insurance claims, declaring the nuclear radiation work they performed at the United States’ leading center for nuclear energy research and development caused them to become ill, and in many cases die prematurely.

Jim Delmore worked at INL since 1966. He is one of the top experts in the nation on mass spectrometry, an analytical chemistry technique. He’s retired now, but he continues to work at the INL as a senior fellow.

Jim said has suffered through several bouts of five different cancers — all in remission now. Based on what he knew from a 1972 incident, he made a claim in 2013 under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.

On November 13, 1972, Jim Delmore came to the laboratory he ran at the Idaho National Laboratory, and found the facility roped off from entry because of a plutonium contamination. It turns out, a chemist brought a sample of plutonium nitrate into the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory at the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant the day before that was 10,000 times larger than needed, Delmore said.

The plutonium nitrate spread throughout the lab. Internal tests showed the dose to the lungs of the 13 lab staff was small. However, it also showed that several of the workers had been previously contaminated and had not been adequately monitored.

Delmore received $150,000 in compensation. In addition, other INL workers, who were able to prove their work with nuclear radiation likely contributed to, or caused their illness, received part of $53 million in health care costs paid under the program.

Another $188 million was paid to the survivors of 471 former INL workers who’ve died, according to the Department of Labor.

The federal government acknowledged for the first time this year nuclear radiation work done by workers at Idaho National Laboratory probably caused or contributed to the deaths of 396 workers.

Though the U.S. federal government compensated the families of nearly 480 INL workers who died, official say that only 396 workers proved to the government’s satisfaction that nuclear radiation exposure at INL was 50 percent or more responsible for their deaths. So far, 15,809 of the nuclear worker deaths nationwide fit that test.

Idaho National Laboratory employees have been finding it difficult to prove eligibility. In fact, nearly two of every three claims are denied. When an INL worker has a disease that qualifies, they also have to prove they had been exposed to high levels of nuclear radiation or hazards.

Fortunately, because Jim Delmore brought the 1972 nuclear radiation incident and the lack of internal monitoring to the attention of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in his 2013 claim, many former employees may be eligible for compensation without having to prove anything — except that they have a qualifying disease.

Jim Delmore simply responded about the eligibility of his co-workers……..

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

Kansas nuclear workers – trail of radiation-caused deaths

nearly 300 former Kansas City Plant workers who have received more than $55 million in compensation for illnesses linked to their work, according to an analysis of government data obtained by McClatchy Newspapers through the Freedom of Information Act.

In more than half of the cases, the money went to survivors after the workers died.

Most of those who applied to the federal fund got nothing, including the families of at least 554 deceased Kansas City Plant workers whose claims the government denied.

death-nuclearFlag-USAKansas City’s nuclear legacy trails weapon makers and their families

Scores of workers have died after making nuclear weapons at the Bannister Road plant

A government review finds more radioactive materials used at the plant than was known before

The federal government has paid $55 million to sickened workers, but a vast majority are still frustrated that they have not been compensated  The Kansas Cty Star, BY LINDSAY WISE AND SCOTT CANON 13 Dec 15  Marlon Smith , worked as a roofer at the Bannister Federal Complex in south Kansas City for just five months in 2005.

That’s all the time it took for him to suffer irreparable damage to his lungs by inhaling particles of beryllium, a hazardous metal used in nuclear weapons production.

Today the 58-year-old has chronic beryllium disease, a serious respiratory condition that can be fatal.

Smith says the subcontractor he worked for never warned him about the dangers of beryllium exposure, even after he asked why other workers in a tent a few yards away from him were fully suited in protective gear.

“I said, ‘Where is my suit?’ ” he recalls. “They said, ‘You don’t need one. You need just a dust mask.’ ”

News that beryllium and other toxins sickened workers at the site broke years ago. But a recent investigation by the federal government revealed that some employees at the Kansas City Plant might have been exposed to more radiation than previously known. Already, the government has paid workers from the plant, or their survivors, tens of millions in compensation for illnesses and deaths. That figure is still growing……..the latest investigation by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and an advisory board appointed by the president has turned up proof that operations at the site in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s involved more radioactive materials — and potentially higher radiation doses to workers — than previously disclosed in the public record.

More than 1,440 workers who fell ill after working at the Kansas City Plant have applied for compensation and medical coverage from the federal government. The money comes from a fund created in 2001 to recognize the sacrifices made by nuclear workers who helped America fight the Cold War.

Smith received a check this year for $150,000 from the federal government, a sum he considers a paltry price for his life and livelihood.

“How can you put a price on somebody’s life?” he asked.

The roofer is in a group of nearly 300 former Kansas City Plant workers who have received more than $55 million in compensation for illnesses linked to their work, according to an analysis of government data obtained by McClatchy Newspapers through the Freedom of Information Act.

In more than half of the cases, the money went to survivors after the workers died.

Most of those who applied to the federal fund got nothing, including the families of at least 554 deceased Kansas City Plant workers whose claims the government denied.

The approval rate for cases involving former workers at the plant is particularly low at just 23 percent — less than half the national average, McClatchy’s analysis found.

Workers and their relatives say they’re confounded by the paperwork and bureaucracy of the claims process.

Otha Gilliam has a stack of documents for his late parents’ compensation cases at least a foot thick in his home in south Kansas City.

The struggle to follow through with the claims leaves him overwhelmed……..

As the government now acknowledges, work with natural uranium took place at the plant in the early 1950s. Natural uranium emits about twice as much radioactivity per gram as depleted uranium. Workers also machined magnesium alloys containing thorium, a radioactive element, in the 1960s and ’70s. And they used tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, to prepare calibration sources and produce luminescent switch plates. Radioactive nickel-63 was plated on disks that also were used to calibrate radiation detectors.

The natural uranium and mag-thorium alloy machining could result in the biggest bumps to workers’ estimated radiation doses, said Stuart Hinnefeld, director of NIOSH’s Division of Compensation Analysis and Support……..

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

Texas nuclear plant workers – hundreds die from radiation-caused illnesses

widespread examples of payouts that occur only after a worker dies. She handled the claim of one widow who just this year received a payout on a claim that her husband filed in 2005. The husband died of cancer in 2011.

“Many claimants have commented that they think the claims are drug out so that the claimants die,” Ray said. “It truly is less costly to pay a survivor than it is to pay compensation and provide long-term healthcare for a living worker.”

Half of all claims are settled on behalf of survivors, including workers’ spouses, children, parents, grandchildren and grandparents

death-nuclearFlag-USAThe perils of Pantex: Hundreds of workers sickened at Texas nuclear weapons plant, Star telegram, 13 Dec 15 

Panhandle nuclear weapons assembly plant a hazardous workplace

Workers used to joke that they made soap at the facility

More than 1,300 workers and families have been awarded compensation since 2000 BY YAMIL BERARD

AMARILLO “…..Years ago, it was popular for plant workers to tell spouses and other loved ones that they made soap at the nuclear weapons assembly facility on a 16,000-acre parcel. But Pantex now conjures up a different image, as hundreds have suddenly fallen ill or died at the plant, a vital component in the nation’s nuclear weapons program since the 1950s.

The federal government has made concessions to a growing number of workers, like Ruzich, whose Pantex jobs made them sick. Many hundreds have been provided with medical coverage and lump sum payments, under the energy employees’ compensation program, according to records provided to the Star-Telegram by the Labor Department. Continue reading

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

$millions paid out to workers made ill at South Mississippi nuclear site

Nuclear tests in South Mississippi cost government millions in claims
 BY PAUL HAMPTON, Sun Herald, 12 Dec 15  The Department of Labor has paid almost $5.5 million to people who are suffering medical problems after working at the Salmon Nuclear Explosion Site southwest of Hattiesburg.

Combined with money paid to workers who lived in Mississippi but didn’t necessarily work on the Salmon site, the total is $16.8 million. A total of 56 claims came from the Salmon site, commonly known as the Tatum Salt Dome.

The medical claims were from workers exposed to radiation and other toxic substances at the site from 1964 through June 29, 1972, said Amanda McClure of the Department of Labor’s Office of Public Affairs. The money came from the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.

“Former DOE federal workers and DOE contractors and subcontractors who were diagnosed with cancer and whose cancer was caused by exposure to radiation while working at the Salmon Nuclear Explosion Site during the covered time period are eligible for lump-sum compensation and medical benefits,” she said in an email……..

Shortly after the blast, scientists drilled down into the dome to lower instruments into it, and the drill bit brought contaminated soil to the surface. The mistake was repeated in 1966. Several cleanup attempts were made.

The buildings were razed and sent to the Nevada Test Site in 1972. A monument at the site warns people not to drill or dig.

In 1979, about 15 families were evacuated, some in the middle of the night, after scientists believed they had found deformed and radioactive wildlife in the area. That radioactivity later was attributed to contaminated lab equipment used to test the wildlife.

In the 1990s, scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy drilled 55 wells near the site to test the water. The DOE also spent $1.9 million for a water system so residents wouldn’t have to use well water……

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

Has Malcolm Turnbull got any hope of real action on climate change?

Turnbull straightjacketParis UN Climate Conference 2015: Paris delivers, but can Malcolm Turnbull? SMH December 13, 2015  Environment editor, The Age With the Paris summit wrapping up having delivered an historic global climate agreement, questions will inevitably turn to whether Malcolm Turnbull will use the international momentum to advance the climate debate back home.

For half a decade, Australia has been stuck in a fact-free debate on climate policy – one that has seen one of the biggest challenges the world faces turned into a domestic political chew toy.

But where the failure at Copenhagen helped derailed Kevin Rudd’s climate ambition back in 2009, success in Paris presents the opposite opportunity for Turnbull, who many believe has a deep desire to move to a more robust climate policy.

For a start, Australia has to review its emissions targets.  It has set what is widely regarded to be a low-ball goal of cutting emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The government has known it may have to lift this under the Paris deal, and has been preparing for it by signalling it will allow the use of international carbon markets – representing cuts effectively in poorer countries paid for by Australia – from 2017. The Paris deal supports international carbon trading.

We will soon find out whether two weeks on, and one historic agreement later, Turnbull feels the world has moved enough to take a few brave steps forward.

Deeper cuts will also require a bigger re-think of domestic policies – Australia will not be able to rely on the current combination of paying some farmers and businesses to cut emissions, carbon accounting fiddles and falling demand for electricity.

It will have to find a way to finally address pollution from the country’s fleet of large, ageing coal-fired power plants. Emissions from coal have been rising since the Coalition abolished the national carbon price scheme.

The government’s direct action scheme is not fit for this job – at least not as currently designed. It will need a radical overhaul, perhaps one that would make it look more like a type of emissions trading scheme……..forward.

December 14, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Bleak future for USA nuclear power industry

new designs are at least 10-30 years away from being commercially viable. “It’s not a technology problem, it’s an engineering and project management problem,” he said. “[Nuclear] is a fundamentally flawed technology.”

“The idea that we would have fusion this century is not credible,” he said. “This is not an engineering problem, it’s a lack of physics understanding


The Outlook For Nuclear Power In The US Really Sucks, Gizmodo, 13 Dec 15  JENNIFER OUELLETTE     “……. what’s really killing nuclear power in this country is garden-variety economics: in the emerging energy market of the 21st century, nuclear just can’t compete — particularly with ultra-cheap natural gas.
“There are a lot of climate scientists talking about how we need nuclear power or we can’t solve climate change,” said Greg Jaczko, a former chair of the NRC who is now a consultant in Washington, DC. “I hear that and I think, well, then we’re never gonna solve climate change, because nuclear power is not gonna do it. We’re not doing today what would need to be done to maintain that massive fleet of reactors in the future.”

It all comes down to the staggering price tag. Continue reading

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment