Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s role in the big nuclear issues for 2016

skull nuclear worldFive big nuclear issues for 2016 — and Australia’s role in them, Independent Australia  Noel Wauchope 5 January 2016Nuclear issues got next to no discussion in Australia in 2015. That is sure to change in 2016 from five explosive factors, writesNoel Wauchope.

#1: Nuclear weapons  “……….. In the event of nuclear war, Pine Gap makes Australia both a participant and a target.

What the experts call a “limited nuclear war” between India and Pakistan is always on the cards as both nations ramp up their nuclear weaponry. What does Australia do about this? The Turnbull Government, ignoring the advice of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) and pro nuclear power expert Dr John Carlson, goes ahead with insecure uranium sales to India, thus contributing to that India-Pakistan arms race.

All these considerations will matter to Australia in a number of ways in 2016. An obvious example is in the diplomatic tightrope that our Government must walk in its relations with China — Australia’s largest export market.

#2: Indigenous rights……. For 2016, governments must have learned that Indigenous Australians are a force to be reckoned with and that non-Indigenous might join in that anti nuclear struggle. State governments, particularly Western Australia, have sought to strengthen the resources industries’ power to fight Aboriginal land rights. This has to be an issue for uranium mining in 2016 — whether mining developments can continue to ride roughshod over traditional Indigenous traditional land.

#3: Energy technologies Renewable energy is here to stay. ….. Australia leads the world in rooftop solar, with the highest portion of residential buildings with rooftop photovoltaic power. Despite government policy uncertainty, important solar research continues, community solar projects are developing, large scale solar projects are taking off, for example, in New South Wales. Wind power is now also taking off and has long shown its success in South Australia.…….. The nuclear lobby would have everyone believe that nuclear energy is the answer. But even they know that this is not a practical choice for Australia. In February, the South Australia Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission will be announcing its recommendations. Its chief, Kevin Scarce, has already indicated that it is not likely to recommend nuclear power.

In 2016, Australia still has the opportunity to become a leader in truly clean renewable energy technologies, as energy storage systems become a reality…….With 2016 as an election year and with the ALP’s policy of a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, renewable energy developments form a challenging issue.

#4: Australia as the world’s nuclear waste dump…..  the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission and all that will ensue from its recommendations. Commission head, Kevin Scarce, will no doubt cover his back with worthy statements about proceeding only if there is a social licence, but we can be pretty sure that this expensive year-long Royal Commission is not going to turn its back on its central idea — importing nuclear wastes. Meanwhile, in 2016, the ALP will have to face the push within its ranks to change its existing anti nuclear policy.

#5: The propaganda war….. there will be pressure on Australia’s academic and health authorities, as well, of course, on the mainstream media…….–and-australias-role-in-them,8544

January 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | 2 Comments

Only a small fraction of Lucas Heights radioactive waste is of medical origin

nuclear-medicineThe incessant references to nuclear medicine to ‘sell’ the proposed radioactive waste repository/store amount to nothing more than emotive propaganda

10-20% of the current stockpile would be the plausible range for medical waste − closer to 10% if measuring by radioactivity (because spent reactor fuel is such a large contributor to total radioactivity) and closer to 20% if measuring by volume.

Nuclear medicine and the proposed national radioactive waste dump Jim Green National nuclear campaigner – Friends of the Earth, Australia December 2015

To download a 2-page paper addressing these issues right-click here.

“As health organisations, we are appalled that access to nuclear medical procedures is being used to justify the proposed nuclear waste dump. Most waste from these procedures break down quickly and can be safely disposed of either on site or locally.” 

− Dr Bill Williams, Medical Association for the Prevention of War

“Linking the need for a centralized radioactive waste storage facility with the production of isotopes for nuclear medicine is misleading. The production of radioactive isotopes for nuclear medicine comprises a small percentage of the output of research reactors. The majority of the waste that is produced in these facilities occurs regardless of the nuclear medicine isotope production.” 

− Nuclear Radiologist Dr Peter Karamoskos


Proponents of a national radioactive waste facility (a repository for lower-level wastes and a co-located store for higher-level wastes) claim or imply that nuclear medicine would be jeopardised if the facility does not proceed. There is no basis to such claims – they amount to dishonest scare-mongering.

Proponents claim that most or all of the waste that the federal government wants to dispose of or store at a national repository/store arises from medicine, specifically the production and use of medical radioisotopes. However, measured by radioactivity, the true figure is just 10-20%. Measured by volume, the figure may be within that range or it may be higher than 20% − but it takes some creative accounting to justify the claim that most or even all of the waste is medical in origin.

In any case, the fact that some waste is of medical origin doesn’t mean that a national repository/store is the best way to manage the waste.

If the plan for a national repository/store does not proceed, medical waste will continue to be stored at the Lucas Heights reactor site operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and, in much smaller volumes, at hospitals. Some waste is used in hospitals and then sent back to ANSTO (e.g. molybdenum ‘cows’ that have been ‘milked’ of the daughter radionuclide, technetium-99m − by far the most commonly used medical radioisotope). That is no problem since ANSTO and hospitals continue to produce radioactive waste and thus they have an ongoing need for on-site waste stores and waste management expertise regardless of the options for periodic off-site disposal.

Nuclear medicine is not being adversely affected by the absence of a national radioactive waste repository/store. Nuclear medicine will not benefit from the creation of a national radioactive waste repository/store. Continue reading

January 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

MP Bruce Scott now has “deep reservations” for Oman Ama as nuclear waste site

politicianMP reveals “deep reservations” for nuclear waste sit  | 6th Jan 2016 MARANOA MP Bruce Scott has weighed in on the proposed nuclear waste facility at Oman Ama, admitting he has “deep reservations” about the issue.

The outgoing Federal MP has been neutral on the issue since the small community, west of Warwick, was announced as one of six sites shortlisted for a nuclear waste dump.

Mr Scott has vowed to make sure the Oman Ama site does not go ahead if that is the wish of the community. “I believe a decision of this magnitude needs to be made by the local community, giving consideration to the impacts the proposed facility may have on the region’s farming potential,” he said.

“The proposed nuclear waste facility is dependent on broad community support. “If local residents and concerned neighbours do not support the proposed location, I will work with my ministerial colleagues to ensure the Oman Ama site does not go ahead.”

The comments come as Senate candidate Belinda Marriage called on both Mr Scott and Southern Downs MP Lawrence Springborg to represent the views of the community.

A vocal opponent of the facility, Ms Marriage said she had attempted to contact Mr Scott several times to express the feelings of the community, to no avail.

Ms Marriage, who runs a free-range pork property at Karara, said it was clear the people of Oman Ama had spoken.

“Mr Springborg, the Queensland state representative, needs to represent this community,” she said.”The overwhelming majority of the community are saying no to the dump. “How much clearer do they have to make it?”

Mr Springborg was unavailable for comment yesterday, however, in the past he has declared he had an “open mind” on the issue.

For those opposed to the facility though, the case is already closed. Ms Marriage said it was time to bury the Oman Ama proposal. “With the strong support against having a nuclear dump in our agricultural region, I urge the ministers to listen to our wishes and desist in trying to bully us into having a dump built in our rich agricultural history,” she said.

“The community wants to go back to doing what they do best, raising families and growing clean food, crops and fibres for the people of Australia.”

Mr Scott is encouraging concerned community members to have their say before the consultation period ends on Friday, March 11, at 5pm. Visit http://www.radioactivewaste.

January 6, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, wastes | Leave a comment

Global nuclear corporations get together in marketing drive

nuclear-marketing-crapGreat power relations: How the US, China and India will forge new partnerships on nuclear energy in 2016, South China Morning Post,  James Wertsch, Shen Dingli and Swaran Singh say this year will see greater collaboration between the world’s three largest polluters – the US, China and India – following their pledges to move away from fossil fuels, 05 January, 2016

This year is set to be the year when the US forges new nuclear partnerships with China and India, and could explore joint projects in third countries, with Westinghouse Electric and the Hualong nuclear power company in negotiations for such ventures. But, given previous mutual security and non-proliferation concerns, this newfound enthusiasm may also be breeding new anxieties.
global nuclear conglomerate

To begin with, complicated and long-winded structural integrity tests have just been declared successful for two of the four Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power reactors being set up in China’s Zhejiang ( 浙江 ) and Shandong (山東) provinces. These should become operational in September and December respectively. Westinghouse is also in final stages of negotiations for six of the same type of reactor for Gujarat in India.

At a price tag of some US$5 billion to US$6 billion per reactor, such reports are boosting the share price of Westinghouse, which is negotiating to buy parts of the French nuclear reactor manufacturer Areva. It reportedly needs US$7.7 billion to balance its books. Areva’s losses are also allowing China’s Hualong to emerge as the new cost-effective player in the sensitive global nuclear market. That explains why US firms are tying up with China……

….US firms partly owned by Japan’s Toshiba and Hitachi, which explains the changing geopolitics as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month signed the long-awaited Indo-Japanese deal clearing the decks for American firms to deliver nuclear technology to India…. Continue reading

January 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ralph Nader: Building a renewable energy future

Nader,-Ralph Ralph Nader: Building a renewable energy future – OpEd December 26, 2015. The U.S. has some big problems that require bold solutions. Unfortunately, books about solutions to our society’s problems are often given short shrift by reviewers or languish on our bookshelves. As I often say, this country has more problems than it deserves and more solutions than it uses. Now comes S. David Freeman. …

In January of 2016, in collaboration with his coauthor, Leah Y. Parks, he will publish a new and important book about our energy future: All-Electric America: A Climate Solution and the Hopeful Future. The book is scathing but optimistic, and manages to be bold while remaining pragmatic. …

Book All Electric America

When All-Electric America comes out … you will have a chance to make yourself knowledgeable about the real avenues available to us to transform our energy infrastructure for present and future generations by moving toward a new renewable energy economy with far more jobs, health, efficiency and security benefits than there are in relying on hydrocarbons and radioactive atoms.

To listen to my interview with David Freeman, visit

January 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian Ethical Superannuation finds the nuclear industry to be an unacceptable risk

Logo Australian Ethical

Australian Ethical Super  Dr Stuart Palmer, Head of Ethics Research at Australian Ethical. 6 Jan 16 
We agree that the nuclear energy is a complex issue given the need to transition globally to low-emissions power. However, Australian Ethical has a strong negative screen on nuclear power for a range of reasons including:
· frequent association with nuclear weapons manufacture;
· radioactive pollution from uranium mines;
· the intractability of radioactive waste;
· the potential for catastrophic failure of nuclear power stations;
· security risks associated with the operation of nuclear power stations, and with the transport and storage of nuclear waste.
In our view these concerns outweigh the potential climate change benefits of nuclear power. Even with new generation nuclear plants we still consider the level of risk to be unacceptable, particularly given rapid advancements in renewable energy and storage technology.
I hope this information is helpful in explaining our approach.

January 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

“New Matilda” refutes the pro nuclear spin of Geoff Russell

the economics of new nuclear power doesn’t stack up. And we’ve got much more important things to do (like exposing the well-funded lies of some in the fossil fuel industry and planning for a much different and smaller grid), than arguing with well-intentioned but intellectually conceited proponents of nuclear energy

Nuclear And Nonsense: An Insider’s Guide On Making Renewables Work, New Matilda
By Terry Leach  January 4, 2016  
Renewable energy advocate Terry Leach takes up the fight for an inexhaustible power supply.

Geoff Russell’s recent New Matilda article ‘Batteries and Bulldust’ makes the argument that renewable energy can’t displace fossil fuels due to the problems of the intermittency of renewable energy and the difficulty of storing electrical energy.

Russell compares the stupidity of Germany’s renewable push to France’s wisdom in generating most of their power from nuclear. Obviously, the superior governance, cheaper electricity and lack of inefficient subsidies results in France consistently outperforming Germany economically. Sadly for the French this isn’t true. Germany is the economic powerhouse of Europe.

Maybe, just maybe, the Germans aren’t ‘puddle shallow thinkers’. Problems of intermittency and storage of renewable energy are solvable, and the Germans are doing just that.

Despite our current government’s opposition, technological development and entrepreneurship means that Australia is well placed to solve those problems here. Continue reading

January 6, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

At least 80.000 Americans got cancer from nuclear weapons manufacturing

cancer_cellsthe Institute for Energy and Environmental Research has maintained that the actual number of fatal cancers caused by nuclear testing could be 17,000. Of course, a larger number of people contracted cancer from nuclear testing than actually died of it. The government study estimated that those who contracted cancer numbered at least 80,000 Americans.

Flag-USAOpen thread for night owls: Building the U.S. nuclear arsenal has killed thousands  By Meteor Blades   Jan 05, 2016 Lawrence Wittner writes—American Casualties of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program When Americans think about nuclear weapons, they comfort themselves with the thought that the vast, nuclear destruction of human life has not taken place since 1945—at least not yet. But, in reality, nuclear weapon-related destruction has taken place, with shocking levels of U.S. casualties. Continue reading

January 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tamil Nadu anti-nuclear activists have intensified their campaign

Campaign against expanding nuclear projects in TN, THE HINDU, 5 Jan 16  As negotiations between India and Russia are in the advanced stages for installing the third and fourth units of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant anti-nuclear activists have intensified their campaign against the expansion of nuclear assets in Kalpakkam and Kudankulam. india-antinuke

Distributing pamphlets to the public advocating against nuclear power at the Egmore Railway Station on Monday, S.P. Udayakumar, Convenor of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) said, “As the first unit in Kudankulam is not operational for over six months and the second unit is further delayed, we have serious doubts about the project.”

Claiming that the project was “inherently flawed” and the components supplied to the project were sub-standard, he said the Site Evaluation Report, Safety Analysis Report and the Environment Impact Assessment Report, which were to be made available to them as per the Central Information Commission’s order were not provided yet, as the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited had obtained a stay on the order in the Delhi High Court in 2014……

January 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry unpopular in South Korea

thumbs-downAbout 11,000 county residents participated in the referendum. Of them, nearly 92 percent voted against a nuclear power plant.
flag-S-KoreaBitter Debate Over Nuclear Power Simmers in Rural South Korea, NYT By  JAN. 5, 2016“……… in 2010, the 399 mostly older people who made up the population of three villages agreed to give up their land and their centuries-old way of life to make room for something few other places wanted: a nuclear power plant.

That act plunged the surrounding Yeongdeok County into a bitter debate over whether the plant would be a savior or a death knell. The clash also revealed the depth of despair in South Korea’s increasingly empty rural communities, as well as growing misgivings about the country’s heavy dependence on nuclear power…….

villagers like Shin Wang-ki, 56, who grows pears, apples and peaches and believed that a plant would mean the end to a longstanding and cherished way of life.

“No way! Who’s going to buy fruits or crabs from an area near a nuclear power plant?” he said. “I inherited a clean land from my ancestors and want to leave it untainted for my children.”……..

In 2012, South Korea selected Yeongdeok and Samcheok, a coastal city to the north, as sites for new reactors.

Yet by then, skepticism — and anxiety — was spreading. First came the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. Then came another shock: Reports that emerged after a series of scandals revealed that nuclear power plants across South Korea had been using parts whose safety test results were faked. Continue reading

January 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar Australia: 1.5 Million+ Solar Power Systems Installed

1.5 Million+ Solar Power Systems Installed In Australia January 5, 2016Energy Matters  More than 23.2 million solar panels are now installed in Australia – a module for every man, woman and child in the nation.

According to solar consultancy firm SunWiz, Australia registered its 1,500,000th solar power system on December 22, 2015. More than 4.65 gigawatts of sub-100kW capacity systems are generating clean electricity across the country and saving their owners a bundle on power rates.

SunWiz states Australia boasts the highest number of installations per capita in the world and the equivalent of 18% of Australian households own a PV system.

map australia-solar-installations

“Australia ranked 8th in the world for capacity installed in 2014, and is likely to be a top-10 country for installed capacity in 2015,” says SunWiz.

State-wise, while Queensland has the most solar power systems in the country ( 450,000+), South Australia has the highest proportion of households with PV installed (30%).

Solar PV is now contributing more than 2.5% of Australia’s electricity requirements. While that may not sound like a huge amount, it’s very valuable electricity as solar panels typically produce the most power during periods coincide with high demand. This reduces the need for added mains grid infrastructure and the incidence of higher cost generation from peaking power stations; the cost of which can exceed $13,000 per megawatt-hour ($13 a kilowatt hour).

For 2016, SunWiz predicts the residential solar market will slightly contract, the small and mediumcommercial solar sector will grow 10-20% and the large-scale commercial segment will also experience significant growth as companies become increasingly aware of how much can be saved on energy costs by going solar.

SunWiz doesn’t expect much in the way of utility scale projects being brought online in Australia this year.

“… the focus will be upon earlier stages of project development, with utility-scale project deployment starting in earnest in 2017 and growing from there.”

The utility scale sector went into limbo during the drawn-out battle over Australia’s Renewable Energy Target; instigated by now ex-Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. After dragging on for eighteen months, the issue was finally settled in June 2015; ensuring sunnier days ahead for the sector.

January 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | 1 Comment

Rooftop solar power in Western Australia produces more electricity than the State’s biggest power turbine

solar-rooftopRooftop solar producing more energy than WA’s biggest turbine, ABC Radio AM 5 Jan 16 By Anthony Stewart Rooftop solar panels in the South-West Interconnected System (SWIS) in Western Australia are now producing as much energy as the state’s largest power turbine, according to research from Curtin University.

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: Listen to Anthony Stewart’s report (AM)

SWIS stretches from Kalbarri north of Perth to Ravensthorpe in the state’s south, taking in the Perth metropolitan area. Curtin University sustainability professor Peter Newman said 20 per cent of homes across the grid have rooftop solar panels installed.

“We are in the extraordinary position of saying that Perth [SWIS] now has rooftop solar as the largest supplier of electricity, it’s the biggest power station in WA,” he said.

“It’s nearly 500 megawatts and it’s growing rapidly, by 2020 we could have half of Perth’s [SWIS] households with rooftop solar.”……

Professor Newman said the state’s electricity utilities needed to rapidly adapt to the growth in solar.

“They didn’t predict it, they have all these contracts for coal and gas that go 20 or 30 years and they have even got an old power station out of mothballs, fixed it up, but never turned it on,” he said.

“Despite the boom times we actually reduced our power consumption during this period because people are just not needing it if you’ve got the PV’s [photovoltaic] on the roof.”

Energy utility Synergy has been contacted for comment.

Batteries to drive solar boom…..

January 6, 2016 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Enova – Australia’s first community-owned renewable energy retailer

“what we do is we buy from the national energy market and sell to you; it comes through the grid. “In order for you to have renewable energy, we enter into agreements to purchase green power from accredited renewable energy providers, so that whenever we are selling you energy we are offsetting that with green energy certificates.”

Ms Crook said Enova also hoped to increasingly buy from local renewable energy generators.

“What we hope to be doing is facilitating the development of community-scale renewable generation,”

logo EnovaAustralia’s first community-owned renewable energy retailer Enova to open its doors in Byron Bay  ABC North Coast, 5 Jan 16  By Samantha Turnbull Australia’s first community-owned renewable energy retailer, Enova, is about to open its doors in northern New South Wales after raising $3.8 million from 1,090 investors.

Seventy-five per cent of the voting shares are held on the NSW north coast, but chair Alison Crook said the company had attracted investors from every state and territory in Australia. Continue reading

January 6, 2016 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Wester Australia finally bans solarium tanning beds

Total eclipse for tanning beds, The West Australian, Cathy O’Leary December 31, 2015, Hundreds of young WA women are likely to avoid disfiguring and potentially deadly skin cancers because of a ban on tanning beds that starts tomorrow.

Regulations to ban commercial sun beds make WA the last State to outlaw the machines.

Cancer Council WA director of education and research Terry Slevin said the ban came 12 months after laws took effect in the rest of the country.

He said that before regulations started in Australia it was estimated that sun beds caused almost 3000 skin cancers a year, including 281 melanomas, and were responsible for 43 melanoma-related deaths.

A recent study predicted one in six melanomas in Australians aged 18 to 29 could be prevented if solarium operators were shut down.

Mr Slevin said the machines were mostly used by people under the age of 24, often young women.

They exposed skin to ultra-violet radiation five to six times more intense than the midday summer sun……

January 6, 2016 Posted by | health, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australians at high risk of skin cancer

Is your family playing it safe in the sun?

5th Jan 2016 THE message isn’t new but it is a serious one that needs constant reinforcing.

Summer is a peak time for sunburn and irreversible sun damage and with many out and about on holidays during this time of year it is essential we remember the five S’s:

  • slip on sun-protective clothing,
  • slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen,
  • slap on a brimmed hat,
  • seek shade and
  • slide on sunglasses.

For Aussies (particularly Queenslanders), having the highest rates of melanoma in the world is not something we should be proud of.

We can’t use the excuse that we don’t know about the damage too much unprotected sun exposure causes.

We have been educated with campaigns warning us of the dangers for decades.

Yet about 2000 people in Australia still die from skin cancer each year and two in three Aussies are diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.

These statistics are shocking when you know most skin cancers can be prevented by the use of good sun protection.

Before heading out, check the UV index – a way of describing the daily danger of solar UV radiation intensity – and avoid the peak times.

The higher the UV Index value, the greater the potential for damage to your skin.

The UV Alert in your newspaper shows the time of the day people need to be particularly SunSmart.

Prevention is better than a cure so also have each member of your family’s skin checked regularly.

January 6, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment