Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s Nuclear News at the start of 2016

a-cat-CANWell, there isn’t much, it would seem.  And yet, and yet. I gaze into my magical witches globe, and what do I see?  Why , it is Kevin Scarce, and the entire Australian nuclear lobby, feverishly spinning a web of confusion for the report, (due on 15th February) of the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission.

What they want, is want they wanted before the charade even started – Australia to decide to be the first country in the world to announce itself as the world’s nuclear toilet. But, more than that, it’s the underlying imperative to set up the entire nuclear fuel chain in this country. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill no doubt thinks that this will save his political skin.  We await what will be a tome, or should I say tomb? of doublespeak.

On February 15, Dr Helen Caldicott will be speaking in Adelaide on this issue, (prior to setting off for St Louis County, USA, where there continues to be a nuclear waste pollution and fire threat drama)

Also, bubbling along quietly, residents  strengthen their opposition to proposal for Lucas Heights nuclear waste dumping in their area.  Meanwhile, solar and wind energy initiatives are happening.

I will continue to examine the Submissions to the Nuclear Royal Commission, with extracts on my website  Particular emphasis on the pro nuclear ones.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Let’s examine the pro nuclear Submissions to #NuclearCommissionSAust: here’s one

An example of pro nuke submission from an individual representing in a company. His theme is that waste import would be a great economic boon to South Australia, but only if it is part of a full nuclear fuel chain. He quotes some significant safety risks, but seems to dismiss them as not so serious. He is delightfully enthusiastic, but vague, on the economic benefits.

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINHenry Askin sent in  a submission on Nuclear Waste (Issues paper4 )   )  

Dr. Henry J Askin Director, U-SAFE PTY LTD U-Safe Pty. Ltd. was founded in 2006 to promote the construction and operation of a safe permanent storage and disposal repository for the radioactive by-products of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Askin’s conclusion is vague on the economic result of importing nuclear waste, by itself. But enthusiastic if it is part of the whole nuclear fuel chain:

“The economic benefits will depend on the extent of commitment to the full nuclear fuel cycle, the cost of studying and building the repository, the operating costs and moreover the extent of funding provided by the eventual client entities. Estimation of costs is highly problematic, since there are no equivalent benchmark projects available……

It is not practical to establish an enrichment and reprocessing facility in the state unless in conjunction with nuclear power generation as well. These processes are intensive in electricity consumption and would result in very significant greenhouse gas emissions if conventionally powered. On the other hand, if it were decided to establish a full nuclear fuel cycle industry necessarily including the adoption of nuclear power generation, the economic benefits would be incalculable.

Effects would spread directly throughout the various areas of transport, high technology processing and fabrication of fuel rods, material supply and construction and the initiation of tertiary specialist training in all aspects of nuclear engineering, and spill widely throughout the general service and retail economy.” 

Economics.  He starts with enthusiasm for the economic benefits of waste importing:  

It is without question that if a best in class ILW and HLW repository was accessible the electricity utilities operating the nuclear power stations and the reprocessing facilities would avail themselves of it. This is evidenced by the 1998/1999 campaign by Pangea Resources seeking to establish a deep subsurface repository in Western Australia. The company was created by British Nuclear Fuels, Golder Associates and Nagra, the latter being a Swiss radioactive waste management entity. Management of the public relations was a spectacular failure, with both WA and SA introducing legislation prohibiting the establishment of nuclear waste waste dumps in 1999 and 2000 respectively. 

However Pangea, now known as ARIUS, continues efforts internationally.” 

“Considering the increasing imperatives to remove HLW from vulnerable temporary storage in the vicinity of source reactors, safe disposal would not be expected to be price or cost sensitive. In fact, the generators of this waste would in all probability be prepared to fund the construction of the repository in addition to paying ongoing storage costs for the operation and maintenance of the facility.”

But it would really only be economic if Australia first had the full nuclear fuel chain:

“If the industrial capacity to conduct such full cycle processing were to be established in the state, the magnitude of the resulting economic benefits would go a long way towards the acceptance of international waste and the concomitant construction of the deep storage repository. “

On the safe storage/disposal of nuclear waste:

Within salt domes or mines ……….The most successful of these is the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), opened for business in 1999 at Carlsbad New Mexico. ( ha ha successful?)

Drigg is a surface storage facility  (ha ha currently threatened by flooding in Cumbria) 

He then lists the technical problems in geology for waste disposal

On security risks: 

The principal security risks would appear to be related to protest activities by anti nuclear groups and more seriously, terrorist action. The former would be unlikely to penetrate the perimeter of the surrounding exclusion zone, and be limited to hindrance of transport logistics for limited periods. There is abundant experience in managing this category of essentially nuisance behavior and is not considered to be of concern. 

Far more serious is the possibility of terrorist attack with the objective of acquiring ILW and/or HLW for the assembly of devices capable of area denial in populated or strategic locations, the ‘dirty bomb’ strategy. Although the material would be potentially lethal for those involved, in this age of suicide bombing this is perhaps not an inhibition. However if a deep burial repository were to be established in a remote semi desert area of inland Australia unauthorized access would be a major challenge”

On transport: 

“The greatest vulnerability would lie not with the repository itself but with the waste delivery transport chain”   “Transport of waste to the repository could pose hazards but is unlikely to adversely affect the environment to any greater extent than normal transport” (ha ha what about the huge derailment of sulphuric acid transport, Queensland, in December?)

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | Leave a comment