Australian news, and some related international items

March 11 an important date for Australia, and for the world.

sign-thisFor Australia, March 11 is significant as the closing date for submissions –  submit comments to the National Radioactive Waste Management Project.  The government pitches this plan as a sort of medical necessity. Not true. The real purpose is to store the radioactive trash due to return soon from France, and later from UK. This trash is the processed “intermediate level” nuclear wastes produced by the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor. Australia is obligated to take it back. It is not a large volume, and could be stored at Lucas Heights.

The selected communities don’t want this radioactive trash dump, despite the bribes offered by Government. It is also seen as a “foot in the door” for the cranky South Australian plan to invite in the world’s nuclear trash.  It’ snot too late, even now – to send in a comment: see tips on how to do this. 

For the world. It is the 5th anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear catastrophe. A catastrophe that continues –  with the molten cores of the reactors not even found, with thousands of bags of radioactive debris, over 1000 tanks of radioactive water, and more accumulating every day, with radioactive leakage to groundwater and to the Pacific.  A huge workforce of thousands daily involved in the clean-up, and no effective monitoring of their health. The government urges evacuees to return – but people are not convinced, especially about bringing children back to the irradiated zone.

And Japan, and the global nuclear industry pretend that all is well with the nuclear industry! And Fukushima will be OK again. Shades of Dr Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide – “all is for the best, in the best of all possible worlds”


March 11, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Greens plan for solar shade in Brisbane’s King George Square

Brisbane council election: Greens promise ‘solar shade’ in text-relevant, Brisbane Times March 9 2016 Cameron Atfield It’s long been the civic centre of Brisbane, but now King George Square has again found itself at the centre of Brisbane’s council election campaign.

Greens lord mayoral candidate Ben Pennings has unveiled a plan to cover the square in solar shading, which would come equipped with sockets for people to charge their phones in the shade. Below – solar shade , Arizona University 

solar shade Arizona University

The Greens want to introduce solar shade, similar to this at Arizona State University, to Brisbane’s King George Square

Mr Pennings said the solar panels would generate 100,000 kilowatt hours a year to help charge City Hall, which he said would save Brisbane City Council $20,000 in annual electricity bills.
“The Greens’ plan for King George Square embraces this century rather than looking to the past of roped-off grass,” he said. “A one-off investment of $2.5m will shade King George Square with solar panels.”Residents can relax in the shade and use the power to charge their phones, tablets or laptops.

“New seating will allow people to recharge on their own or connect under the shade in small groups.”………

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Submissions close today on national radioactive waste project

sign-thisBeyond Nuclear Initiative: Submissions close today on national radioactive waste project . Six sites across the country have been named as possible locations for the national radioactive waste facility. The public comment period on this proposal will run until 5pm AEDT today March 11, 2016.

Community representatives from all of the six areas recently travelled to Canberra to meet face to face and stand united in calling for all of the sites to be scrapped due to local opposition. They are urging the government to halt the current site selection process and instead initiative an inquiry. A jointly prepared paper from the six sites is uploaded on the national waste dump page of the BNI website.

Radioactive waste production and management is a national issue and all interested people are encouraged to make a submission to the government process.

Tips for making a submission are on the Act! page of the BNI website.

Read more at:

March 11, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Radiation toll at wrecked Fukushima nuclear station, even kills the robots!

Fukushima deformed  structuretext-radiationInside the Fukushima nuclear power plant, five years after the disaster was triggered by an earthquake and tsunami,,  MARCH 10, 2016 [EXCELLENT PHOTOS] “………Today, the radiation at the Fukushima plant is still so powerful it is impossible to extract and remove deadly melted fuel rods.

And authorities still don’t how to dispose of highly radioactive water stored in tanks around the site.

 While the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), has made some progress, they are grappling with the fact that they don’t have the technology to find missing melted fuel rods in three reactors at the plant. The rods melted through containment vessels in the reactors.

Humans shouldn’t even be near these reactors. They are the most dangerous part of the plant.

Tepco has developed robots that have been sent in to search for radioactive fuel. But so far, none have been successful. They have all “died”. “It is extremely difficult to access the inside of the nuclear plant,” Naohiro Masuda, Tepco’s head of decommissioning said in an interview. “The biggest obstacle is the radiation.”

Mr Masada said the robots were built to swim under water and search for the melted fuel rods.But as soon as they get close to the reactors, the radiation destroys their wiring and renders them useless, causing long delays, Mr Masuda said.

Each robot has to be custom-built for each building. “It takes two years to develop a single-function robot,” Mr Masuda said.

Workers on the site are regularly working outside in the exclusion zone to remove contaminated debris, but they can’t keep up with the mounds of mess they’re cleaning up. They are routinely being scanned for radiation exposure, as more reports emerge of locals being at greater risk of cancer and thyroid disorders……….

More than 8,000 workers are at the plant at any one time. They are constantly removing debris, building storage tanks, laying piping and preparing to dismantle parts of the plant. Much of the work involves pumping water into the wrecked and highly radiated reactors to cool them down.

The radiated water is then pumped out of the plant and stored in tanks around the site.  Tepco has completed around 10 per cent of the work to clear the site up — the decommissioning process could take 30 to 40 years.

A subterranean “ice wall” is also under construction. Dubbed the world’s biggest ice wall, it will stop groundwater from becoming contaminated, using coolants to create a 30-metre deep wall of ice.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear Royal Commission findings agree with French report: Nuclear power is prohibitively expensive

nuclear-costs1The Nuclear Industry Prices Itself Out Of Market For New Power Plants, Climate Progress, BY JOE ROMM MAR 8, 2016 “……… in newly-released findings, South Australia’s nuclear royal commission found that the price of electricity from new nukes greatly exceeded not only business-as-usual projections for electricity prices but also prices in a “strong climate action” case. The Commission concluded “it would not be commercially viable to generate electricity from a nuclear power plant in South Australia in the foreseeable future.”

The Commission explicitly looked at plausible electricity prices for a new reactor in 2030 based on both current designs and possible fourth-generation ones, such as small modular reactors (SMRs). The Commission estimated the cost for the most viable nukes at US$7 billion for a typical large 1125-megawatt reactor and $2.8 billion for two 180-megawatt SMRs. The smaller SMRs would be providing electricity for a whopping US$0.17 a kilowatt-hour!

A study done for the Commission found that both large nukes and SMRs “consistently deliver strongly negative NPVs” (net present values) for both 2030 and 2050 — even for the strong climate action scenario. The Commission Chair noted that given how Australia’s National Electricity Market works, renewables are “the first energy that goes into the market” because they have the lowest costs.

The Commission’s findings are consistent with a 2014 Energy Policy study, “The cost of nuclear electricity: France after Fukushima.” Using cost data released by the French government after the Fukushima disaster, the study found the cost of French nuclear plants steadily escalated over the past four decades. Further, it projects “the future cost of nuclear power in France to be at least 76€/MWh (US$0.084/KWh) and possibly 117€/MWh (US$0.129/KWh),” which “compares unfavorably against alternative fuels,” such as wind……..”

March 11, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Time for UK to scrap its new nuclear power project

Hinkley-nuclear-power-plantTime for the UK to end attachment to Hinkley Point nuclear plant,, 10 Mar 16 
The costs and technical uncertainty were a warning to ministers  
When George Osborne, touring China in September, announced the UK’s commitment to a new power station at Hinkley Point, he intended it as a cornerstone of Britain’s drive for Chinese investment.

No matter that, the following month, protesters inflated a giant white elephant near the site for a visit by Xi Jinping, China’s president.

Not easy, then, for the chancellor to announce that the deal should not go ahead. Yet that is what he should do.

The resignation of Thomas Piquemal, chief financial officer of EDF, the French utility building the plant — apparently because of the threat that the project poses to EDF’s financial stability — gives him the chance.

If the plant is ever built, it would have claim to the title of the most expensive object in Britain. The cost is £18bn but could rise to £24bn. It is meant to produce 7 per cent of Britain’s energy needs.

The costs and the technical uncertainty of Hinkley C should have been decisive in prompting ministers to find another way. The plans make a nonsense of Britain’s fitful attempts to give itself an energy policy. Instead they promise unnecessarily expensive energy for consumers and businesses………

EDF is stalling on a “final investment decision” despite lavish commitment from the UK. The contract promises to pay £92.50 per megawatt hour of electricity produced for 35 years — index linked, too. This is extraordinarily expensive, almost three times today’s wholesale price and three times as much as from new gas-fired power stations………

EDF is struggling with the European pressurised reactor (EPR). It has had to bail out Areva, the French reactor maker behind the design, while two smaller nuclear plants in Finland and France are behind schedule and over budget. Two others of similar design, in China, are also running late; no others have been ordered. If Hinkley C is built, it would be among the first of its kind and very likely the last.

This repeats the mistake that has dogged British nuclear power: of reinventing the model each time a new plant is built.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The nuclear lobby targets women. How Britain fell for “new nukes”

news-nukeflag-UKTargeting women In 2012 EDF began a publicity campaign in the UK to soften up the public, which was predominantly anti-nuclear, including paying for editorial in women’s magazines because its market research found that women were more like to oppose nuclear power than men.

A complaint I made to the Advertising Standards Authority was upheld, regarding the use of advertising from EDF that was not labelled as advertising and looked like editorial, in Marie Claire – the “magazine for women who want to think smart and look amazing”. The articles were provided by EDF, under the headline “Nuclear power: the facts”, but contained inaccuracies.

Even after the ASA ruled in my favour, EDF still continued making dubious claims in the pages of the magazine, such as that in the 2030s “nuclear reactors in Somerset and Suffolk could supply around 40 per cent of the country’s energy needs”.

In its dreams, maybe. because even while this was going on the French National Audit Office had recommended abandonment of the EPR as too complex and expensive.

“The problem is, politicians like big projects. By contrast, energy efficiency, although much more beneficial, is almost invisible, and is certainly lots of small projects.”

And energy projects don’t come much bigger than nuclear power. As Jimmy Cliff might have put it: “the bigger they come, the harder they fall.”

The mystery of Britain’s love affair with new nuclear, The Fifth Estate, David Thorpe | 8 March 2016  Electricite de France’s chief financial officer Thomas Piquemal has resigned after opposing the announcement next month of a final investment decision on building a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point C in the UK.

EDF shares immediately dropped in value and further questions are being asked over the wisdom of proceeding with the plant, which would be the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in two decades. It was originally planned for completion in 2017 and is now unlikely to be built until at least 2025 – if ever. Continue reading

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s radioactive forests: the demise of the logging industry

text ionisingflag-japanFIVE YEARS AFTER: Radioactive forests prevent logging revival in Fukushima March 09, 2016 By YOSUKE FUKUDOME/ Staff Writer TAMURA, Fukushima Prefecture--The once-thriving industry of log production for shiitake mushroom farming remains virtually nonexistent in Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear disaster contaminated extensive mountain areas.

A year before the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011, the prefecture produced logs for cultivating shiitake totaling 47,800 cubic meters, the third largest volume among Japanese prefectures.

But radioactive fallout from the nuclear accident meant that shiitake log production in the prefecture dwindled to about 1 percent of the pre-disaster level in 2014, which is having a serious impact on local industry.

In the Miyakoji district of Tamura, located about 20 kilometers inland from the crippled nuclear power plant, the lumber industry shipped around 200,000 logs annually before the 2011 disaster.

“More than 80 percent of this area’s land is covered by forests, and we cannot think of any other business opportunities that don’t involve forestry,” said Shoichi Yoshida, a 60-year-old executive of the Fukushima Central Forestry Association.

While the evacuation order covering an eastern strip of the district was lifted in 2014, radioactive levels of trees in the district remain above target levels, and the resumption of shipments is still nowhere in sight.

However, local forestry workers still routinely cut down oak and other trees, which are more than 20 years old, to maintain the mountain area’s capability of producing quality logs.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA solar energy market now racing ahead

text-relevantThe US Solar Market Is Growing Ridiculously Fast By  Mar. 9,At the end of 2015, the solar industry experienced something of a Christmas miraclewhen Congress unexpectedly extended a package of vital tax credits for renewable energy that were set to expire. Overnight, 2016 went from looking like it was certain to be a bust to looking like one of the biggest growth years on record.

New analysis from the energy market research firm GTM paints a picture of the awesome year solar installers in the United States have ahead of them. GTM predicts solar installations to jump 119 percent in 2016, adding 16 gigawatts of new solar by year’s end. (For reference, in 2011 there were only 10 gigawatts of solar installed total across the country.) Most of that is utility-scale solar farms, with the remainder coming from rooftop panels on homes and businesses.

This clean energy boost isn’t just a boon for the industry; as a result of the tax credit extension, greenhouse gas savings from solar and wind installations could add up by 2030 to the equivalent of taking every car in the country off the road for two years, a recent study found.

Here’s the chart [on original] from the report. Show this to anyone who still thinks solar is some kind of fringe, hippie pipe dream

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Capping of Ranger open cut uranium mine

Ranger uranium mine open cut pit capped as part of ongoing site rehabilitation ABC Radio  NT Country Hour  By Daniel Fitzgerald 10 Mar 16 An open cut pit at the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory has been capped after 20 years of rehabilitation work.

Energy Resources Australia (ERA) began filling in Pit 1 after mining in the pit ceased in 1996, with work continuing intermittently around other activities at the site, which is surrounded by Kakadu National Park.  AUDIO: Tim Eckersley speaks about rehabilitation works at ERA’s Ranger mine (ABC Rural)

Leftovers from the processing operations at the mine, known as tailings, were dumped into the large pit and left to settle. General manager of operations at the Ranger mine, Tim Eckersley said the tailings were a “sandy, muddy mixture so it has taken quite some years to consolidate.”………..

Since 2012 ERA said it had spent more than $400 million on rehabilitation works at the mine.

Environmental management of the mine site had been marred by several incidents in recent years.Last year, a fire on the site burnt into Kakadu National Park and threatened nearby Indigenous cultural sites.ERA avoided charges over a 2013 incident when 1,400 cubic metres of radioactive slurry was spilt after a tank collapsed.

The mine has an uncertain future after traditional owners said they would not support mining operations after the mining lease ended in 2021.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Australia’s Liberal Party Wants National Debates on whether or not Climate Change is happening!

Liberal global warmimg

NSW Liberals call for national debates on climate change science
The NSW Liberals have formally called on the Turnbull government to conduct public debates about climate change – including as to whether the science is settled – in a stark reminder of the deep divisions within the party over the issue.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

The Sorry History of the Liberal Party’s Religious Conversion to Climate Denialism

Lest anyone assume that this is an issue only for the Liberals, it should be noted that the Australian Labor Party’s climate policies have hardly been consistent, veering from indifference under Paul Keating, to grave moral challenge under Rudd, and finally the “art of the possible” under Julia Gillard. Meanwhile, the arcane accounting rules around the Kyoto Protocol have allowed both Labor and Liberal governments to draw a veil over the true progress.

As economist Ross Garnaut warned in 2008, it may be that the problem is simply too wicked for our democratic system to cope.

Liberal-policy-1How climate denial gained a foothold in the Liberal Party, and why it still won’t go away, The Conversation, , March 10, 2016 It seems the Liberal Party is still having trouble letting go of climate denial, judging by the New South Wales branch’s demand that the Turnbull government arrange a series of public debates on climate science.

Leaving aside the fact that this kind of town hall debate would only entrench opposing viewpoints rather than making scientific headway (a task best left to peer-reviewed journals), it is not the only recent example of Liberal Party members seeking to stoke doubts over the reality of climate change.

Last September, Liberal National Party senator Ian Macdonald told the federal parliament that Australia’s children have been “brainwashed” about human-induced climate change, which he described as “a fad or a farce or a hoax” and “farcical and fanciful”.

Two months earlier, Macdonald’s fellow LNP MP George Christensen attended the Heartland Institute’s climate sceptic conference. There he described climate concerns as “hysteria” and the stuff of science fiction.

And a month before that, rural Liberals called for a parliamentary inquiry into climate science, while urging Australia not to sign any binding agreement at December’s Paris climate talks.

This pervasive climate scepticism might make it look like this is a longstanding position within the Liberal Party. But history tells rather a different story.

The forgotten history of Liberal climate positions

Continue reading

March 11, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Dangerous global warming will happen sooner than thought

climate-AustDangerous global warming will happen sooner than thought – study, Guardian,  , 10 Mar 16  Australian researchers say a global tracker monitoring energy use per person points to 2C warming by 2030. The world is on track to reach dangerous levels of global warming much sooner than expected, according to new Australian research that highlights the alarming implications of rising energy demand.

University of Queensland and Griffith University researchers have developed a “global energy tracker” which predicts average world temperatures could climb 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2020.

That forecast, based on new modelling using long-term average projections on economic growth, population growth and energy use per person, points to a 2C rise by 2030.

The UN conference on climate change in Paris last year agreed to a 1.5C rise as the preferred limit to protect vulnerable island states, and a 2C rise as the absolute limit.

The new modelling is the brainchild of Ben Hankamer from UQ’s institute for molecular bioscience and Liam Wagner from Griffith University’s department of accounting, finance and economics, whose work was published in the journal Plos One on Thursday.

It is the first model to include energy use per person – which has more than doubled since 1950 – alongside economic and population growth as a way of predicting carbon emissions and corresponding temperature increases.

The researchers said the earlier than expected advance of global warming revealed by their modelling added a newfound urgency to the switch from fossil fuels to renewables.

Hankamer said: “The more the economy grows, the more energy you use … the conclusion really is that economists and environmentalists are on the same side and have both come to the same conclusion: we’ve got to act now and we don’t have much time.”……..

The researchers suggested switching $500bn in subsidies for fossil fuels worldwide to renewables as a “cost neutral” way to fast-track the energy transition.

Wagner said pulling the rug from out under the fossil fuels industry was a move of “creative destruction” and “more a political issue rather than an economic issue”…….

March 11, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Evocative photos of what a nuclear future can be – Atomic City, Idaho

Atomic City Idaho 2016

Haunting photos of Idaho’s Atomic City, 30 years after nuclear disaster drove everyone away  ra ra Tech Insider  11 Mar 16 When photographer David Hanson arrived in Atomic City, Idaho in 1986, he knew he was capturing a still-cooling piece of American history.


While the Mountain West boomtown spent the early 1950s thriving on the power generated at the nearby nuclear complex, within a few years a string of nuclear meltdowns had sent the town’s residents searching for safer dwellings. Atomic City — current population: 29 — was left to become a shell of its former self.

Thirty years later, Hanson has finally released his haunting photographs in a book called“Wilderness to Wasteland.”

Here, he walks us through what he saw………

“It seems frightening yet somehow appropriate that the most enduring monuments America will leave for future generations will be the hazardous remains of our industry and technology,” he said.

He envisions an America that, in 150 years, will look upon Atomic City as a failed part of the human experiment to revolutionize the way people live.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

High Court challenge to Tasmania’s anti protest laws – by Bob Brown

Brown,BobBob Brown challenges Tasmania’s anti-protest laws in High Court ABC News 9 Mar 16 Former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown has issued a High Court challenge to the Tasmanian Government’s anti-protest laws.

The legislation which passed Parliament in 2014 allows for on-the-spot fines and tougher penatlities for repeat offenders.

Mr Brown and a number of others were arrested and charged in January, under the new laws, for protesting against the logging of Lapoinya Forest in Tasmania’s north west.

He issued the High Court challenge on the grounds the laws were contrary to the implied freedom of speech on government and political matters under the Australian constitution.

“I know that a challenge in the High Court can be a very expensive thing but I also know that a lot of people are worried about this legislation and the spread of it in other states,” he said.

“The laws will, if not challenged, trap everybody who wants to take a stand against something that’s manifestly wrong going on in our country.” Mr Brown said the Tasmanian Government promised the laws were not aimed at “mum and dad” protesters.

But he said “first up, they trapped a young mother and nurse who grew up in the Lapoinya area and a local grandfather”.

Hobart solicitor Roland Brown said the High Court challenge was a test case.

“This case is unusual because it’s seeking to have made invalid, or declared invalid, legislation that targets people’s political belief and their opinion in relation to environmental, social, cultural and economic factors,” he said………

March 11, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, Tasmania | Leave a comment