Australian news, and some related international items

Is there REALLY profit in nuclear waste importing industry?

graph S Aust waste dump costs

Conservation Council South Australia 18 Mar 16  A high-level nuclear waste dump for SA  

 Should we do it for the money?

 The Nuclear Royal Commission claims some eye-popping revenue figures to take the world’s high-level nuclear waste.

With fears about the economy and future job losses, it’s easy to be tempted.
The big question is: if it is such a good deal, then why aren’t other countries rushing to do it? Something just doesn’t add up.
The reality is there is no massive windfall. In fact, there is a very real chance it will actually end up costing us money. Why?
There is no international market for nuclear waste. Therefore, any prices or costs are pure guesswork based on assumptions and modelling.
The Royal Commission’s economic modelling contains some extraordinarily optimistic assumptions about future energy costs, profit levels & interest rates.
It assumes that countries with waste stockpiles will pay an inflated price with no real-world justification, and that no other country will choose to compete and offer a cheaper option.
It assumes that Australia, a country with very little nuclear experience, will be able to do something that no other country has ever managed, at a much lower cost than experienced countries estimate.
The modelling doesn’t include billions of dollars of extra costs like transport, shipping and insurance…and the list goes on and on.
Perhaps that’s why the consultants who did the modelling acknowledge there is a 100% error margin in their calculations. That means that project costs could easily double.
And even if it does make money, any earnings will have to be shared with other states. We will get less GST revenue from the Federal Government.
If more realistic assumptions are made, the bottom line looks very different. Instead of bringing money into our state, it could bankrupt us.
The State Bank collapse cost SA around $3 billion. If this project goes pear-shaped we could lose $128 billion.
At the end of the day, it’s simply impossible to weigh up fairly up-front benefits and long term (thousands of years) costs. As prominent SA economist Professor Dick Blandy says:
“The problem with the high level nuclear waste dump is the inescapable risk… of severely adverse outcomes that we might be passing on to tens of thousands of future generations of South Australians.
We should think of what we will leave to our descendants – and not do it.”

March 17, 2016 Posted by | business, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Labor, Liberal unite to support high-level nuclear waste dump in South Australia

Tweedle-NuclearLabor, Liberal unite to support high-level nuclear waste dump in South Australia February 16, 2016  Paul Starick and Daniel Wills The Advertiser UNPRECEDENTED political support is being thrown behind South Australia becoming the global storage facility for high-level nuclear waste in return for a $445 billion bonanza.

Forging a historic united front on a decades-old issue of bitter division, Labor Premier Jay Weatherill and Liberal federal Resources and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg are encouraging debate on a Royal Commission proposal, unveiled on Tuesday, for SA to store and dispose of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of spent nuclear fuel and waste…….

March 17, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, politics, South Australia | 2 Comments

Senate tables over 6,000 signatures against Hill End nuclear waste dump

Protest-No!18 Mar 16 NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon today tabled 6,282 signatures calling on the government to drop plans for a nuclear waste dump at Hill End. “Over 6,000 people have signed three petitions saying no to a nuclear waste dump at Hill End,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“The Hill End community has voted at three separate community meetings to unanimously oppose a nuclear waste dump and are strongly supported by their neighbouring towns, local councils and business groups.

“The Minister and the Department keep repeating that the nuclear waste dump won’t be imposed on communities that don’t want it.

“Yet the government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money sending glossy packages promoting the dump to residents in Bathurst and Mudgee, after promising the Hill End community meetings that they had heard the message it wasn’t wanted.

“They’re now following up their promotional package blitz with survey phone calls and face to face visits to Hill End , Bathurst and Mudgee residents fishing for support. “It’s time the Government acknowledges that no one wants nuclear waste at Hill End,” Senator Rhiannon said.

March 17, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

South Australia Nuclear Waste Dump Plan – Future Safety Is Unknown!

safety-symbolA high-level nuclear waste dump for SA   Can it be done safely?

Conservation Council South Australia 18 Mar 16 The honest answer to this question is: we don’t know. No-one knows, because in all the years since the Hiroshima bomb, not one country in the world has worked out how to store high level nuclear waste safely for the length of time it remains dangerous to humans.
The US spent over $10 billion and invested 20 years planning to store high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, only to abandon the plan due to community opposition.
The Royal Commission often mentions Finland, which is building a waste facility. But the Finnish site is not even complete − it will only start receiving used fuel next decade. And it will only take their own domestic waste. Before we know whether the Finnish technology will even work, the Royal Commission proposes that we in SA import 20 times their planned volume.
The only real-life experience with a deep underground nuclear waste facility anywhere in the world is the intermediate-level Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in the US state of New Mexico.
This was supposed to be the most advanced, efficient and safest facility ever developed by any country.
In 2014 there was a fire at the WIPP closely followed by an unrelated rupture of one of the underground barrels, followed by failure of the filtration system designed to keep radiation from the outside environment. Workers were exposed to radiation and the WIPP will now be closed down for at least four years and the repair bill will be over $500 million.
Investigations into these incidents highlight substandard hazard identification and management, and WIPP operators themselves acknowledge that complacency and cost-cutting set in within just 10−15 years of the facility opening.
Even repositories for low and short-lived intermediate-level waste (let alone high-level waste) have run into trouble. Three repositories in the USA have been closed because of environmental problems. Farmers in the Champagne region of France have taken legal action in relation to a leaking radioactive waste dump. In Asse, Germany, all 126,000 barrels of waste already placed in a repository are being removed because of large-scale water infiltration over a period of two decades.
And then there’s the issue of safe transport across oceans, through ports and along SA roads for 70 years.
Choosing to import toxic waste is a forever choice. If we can’t guarantee we can store it safely for tens of thousands of years we shouldn’t take it in the first place.
The SA Royal Commission proposal
The Royal Commission recommends we import high level nuclear waste and temporarily place it in above ground storage for at least 17 years while a deep underground repository is built.
But what happens if the underground repository doesn’t actually work? By then we will already have the toxic waste on our soil and and we can’t give it back. What then?

March 17, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

New South Wales Parliament passes anti-protest laws

civil-liberty-2smAnti-protest laws giving police greater powers pass NSW parliament

Anti-coal seam gas protesters could be jailed for seven years under laws described as a ‘crackdown on democratic rights’ Trespassing anti-coal seam gas advocates face heavier fines and greater jail sentences with tough new anti-protest laws passing through NSW parliament.

With the support of the Shooters and Fishers party and Christian Democrat Fred Nile, the controversial legislation was passed 20-16 in the upper house on Wednesday after minor amendments to the original proposal.

The bill gives police greater powers to search without a warrant, seize items and move protesters on, while fines for illegal entry to mining and CSG sites have increased tenfold from $550 to $5500.

Anti-CSG protesters who interfere with gas sites – including those who chain themselves to machinery – will also be exposed to a maximum jail sentence of seven years.

The Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham, who along with Labor voted against the legislation, condemned the changes as a “jackboot police crackdown on democratic rights”.

The Labor MP Adam Searle also spoke out against the bill’s “sinister” provisions.

“This legislation strikes at the heart of a fundamental aspect of our society – the right to peacefully protest,” he told parliament during hours of fierce debate.

But the premier, Mike Baird, defended the legislation, saying he didn’t believe it was too harsh.

“It’s quite simple, peaceful protests are fine,” Baird said. “Anyone that wants to disrupt a business or ultimately act illegally and puts the lives of themselves and others at risk, well we’ve put these measures in and I think it’s appropriate.”

About 500 protesters shut down a part of Sydney’s CBD to rally against the proposed changes on Tuesday.

A Reachtel poll commissioned by the NSW Nature Conservation Council this week also showed 61.4% of people opposed increasing police powers and fines for protest action.

The NSW Law Society said lawyers were concerned the legislation could seriously interfere with people’s human rights liberties.

Meanwhile, the NSW Unions movement says it’s considering launching a high court challenge against the laws.

March 17, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, New South Wales | Leave a comment

The decision to import high level nuclear waste is a forever decision.

South Australia nuclear toiletA high-level nuclear waste dump for SA: The big questions 

 Conservation Council South Australia 18 Mar 16

Once we make it, there is no going back. So, we are not just making the decision for ourselves, but for thousands of generations of future South Australians.
Is this the best we can do?
What message are we sending the world if we say: ‘the best that SA can do is take the worst that you’ve got’. Is our destiny to be the end point of a dirty chain – the last carriage at the end of the line?
Or should we be looking for economic opportunities that make our state cleaner, safer and deliver more jobs and opportunities for our children.
Surely if we have a choice, our collective vision for our state is not to be the dumping ground for some of the world’s most toxic substances. South Australia has a tremendous history of innovation and a great reputation for clean and green food, wine and tourism Surely we can do better.
If it is such a money-spinner and can be done safely, why aren’t other countries eager to do this?
Either it won’t be an economic bonanza, or the job of storing this waste is a hell of a lot harder than we’ve been told. Otherwise, why aren’t other countries putting up their hand to do this? Something just doesn’t add up.
Is there any rush?
No. This stuff isn’t going away, and no other country is rushing to take it. If it’s the right decision now, it will still be the right decision in 15 or 20 years’ time. By then, safer solutions may have emerged. By taking our time, we aren’t risking our economy – any income or jobs are years away, and so much is likely to change in the meantime.
Surely, we all have to agree to this?
Absolutely! This decision will affect every single South Australian. Our international reputation – our story of who we are – will change forever.
This must not be a decision made just by a handful of politicians on North Terrace. All South Australians have the right to be actively engaged. That takes time and care to get right.
In particular, the Traditional Owners of any likely dump site in the north of our state must be given the genuine opportunity, and the necessary time and space, to say yes or no.
So, what’s the solution to the world’s high level nuclear waste stockpiles?
A number of countries are working on high level waste storage facilities for their own waste (such as Finland), but they are still being built, so we don’t know yet if they will work. The US currently doesn’t have a solution. In the meantime, waste is being temporarily stored next to nuclear reactors in wet ponds, and temporary dry casks.
For years, there have been claims by the nuclear industry that a safe solution to radioactive waste is just around the corner.
Rather than import toxic waste into a part of the globe that doesn’t currently have any − in order to bury it in the ground and hope it stays safe for tens of thousand of years − shouldn’t there be a requirement placed on those that profit from nuclear power and nuclear weapons to invest in processing their waste into cleaner forms for permanent disposal first?

March 17, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Court ruling puts Japan’s nuclear energy policy into disarray

judge-1flag-japanJapan’s nuclear energy policy remains in disarray after court ruling

NAOKI ASANUMA, Nikkei staff writer, Tokyo 17 Mar 16, Five years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that caused reactors to melt down at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant, Japan’s nuclear energy policy remains in disarray. On March 9, the Otsu District Court in Shiga Prefecture ordered Kansai Electric Power to halt the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at its Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, after taking issue with the power company’s safety protocols regarding earthquakes and tsunamis. The order is the first of its kind suspending the operation of a reactor in service in Japan and has raised questions about who among the many stakeholders — utilities, the central government, local authorities, regulators, residents and courts — has the power to start or stop them.

      The decision appeared to repudiate safety regulations born out of an exhaustive debate among experts, as well as inspections at the Takahama plant that lasted more than two years. Kansai Electric now assumes the strongest earthquake that could hit Takahama would produce a ground acceleration of 700 gal, or galileo units, up from its previous assessment of 550 gal. But that failed to satisfy the court, which held that investigations of active fault lines and other safety aspects were not thorough enough. The ruling also rejected the utility’s argument that it had taken tsunami risks under careful consideration.

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March 17, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Turnbull govt missing the chance for Australia to lead on climate change action

Turnbull in hot panMalcolm Turnbull risks Australia’s economy with inaction on climate change, Guardian 
Jonathon Porritt, 15 Mar 16 

He may not want to confront climate-change deniers in his party, but it’s time for the prime minister to seize the low-carbon agenda for the opportunity it is

Even for a sympathetic observer from the UK, the politics of climate change in Australia is, to say the least, vexatious. But it’s now entering a more critical phase than ever before. The mismatch between the conclusions of the Paris agreement in December last year and the failure of Australia’s political establishment to understand what’s going on “out there in the rest of the world” is putting Australia’s entire economy at risk.

When the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, wrested the prime ministership from Tony Abbott in September last year, the international climate community breathed a deep sigh of relief. With the former Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, Abbott was seen as the most egregiously pig-headed climate-change denier in western world had ever thrown up. By contrast, Turnbull had done OK on climate change as a previous leader of the Liberal party, so it was assumed he would do a lot better second time round.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As I discovered on my latest visit, Turnbull has been utterly pusillanimous in pursuing any kind of progressive climate agenda. As part of his “oil on troubled waters” strategy, he apparently decided not to take on Abbott’s climate-denying guerilla fighters, and has offered zero leadership to Australia’s confused and polarised citizenry either before or after Paris.

For instance, he stood idly by as Australia’s world-renowned science agency, the CSIRO, announced it would cut 80% of its climate scientists, effectively ending Australia’s climate research program.

No surprise then that the New South Wales Liberals recently passed a motion, with the support of more than 70% of delegates, calling on the federal government to hold public debates between scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and independent climate scientists. Basically, they are still refusing to accept that the science of climate change is settled, and are fighting an obstinate rearguard action to keep mining and burning as much coal and gas as possible.

You can see why Turnbull might be a bit nervous about confronting such a monumentally ignorant faction in his party. And he may even be reassured that such deniers still hang on elsewhere in the world. ……..

What he needs to know is that it’s all so much worse (and moving so much faster) than anyone imagined even five years ago. Instead of having decades to do what needs to be done to set the global economy on a genuinely low-carbon trajectory (as in net zero emissions by 2050, which is what Turnbull’s government signed up to in Paris), we now have little more than a decade.

Australia is uniquely vulnerable in this respect. The damage that will be done to the Australian economy as the world decarbonises at speed, leaving billions of dollars stranded in fossil-fuel assets that can no longer be developed, is almost impossible to imagine. And to rub salt into that already inflamed wound, there are few countries that will suffer more from rising average temperatures (as in forest fires, increasingly inhospitable cities, and drought-devastated rural economies) and rising sea levels……..

as it happens, not only is Australia uniquely vulnerable to the consequences of runaway climate change, it’s also extraordinarily well-placed to navigate its way through to the kind of ultra-low-carbon prosperity on which the destiny of all nations now depends.

In January a blockbuster report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) identified Australia as one of the most significant beneficiaries of this kind of accelerated shift to renewables by 2030, providing significant gains in GDP (up 1.7%) and employment, as well as socioeconomic and other environmental benefits.

March 17, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

UK Hinkley nuclear power project a ‘dead duck’

dead-duck-nuclearflag-UKResignation of EDF finance chief shows new UK nuclear plant ‘a dead duck’ By Molly Scott Cato |, 16 Mar 16, Five years on from the Fukushima, the human and environmental impacts of the disaster  continue to grow in scale, writes UK Green MEP Molly Scott-Cato. Molly Scott-Cato is an MEP for South-West England and Gibraltar, whose constiutency covers the Hinkley Point nuclear reactor.

This is a key reason why I am fighting so hard to prevent the new reactors at Hinkley point in Somerset from being built.

Nuclear-power is not commercial; it cannot survive without government subsidy and never has been able to during the 60 years of its existence. That in itself should be enough to close the question of whether we wish to build new nuclear power stations in Europe. But somehow the commercially unviable deal to build at Hinkley has slipped between the scrutiny of commercial and political interests, and between the political authorities at Westminster and in Brussels. It is extraordinary that such a shaky deal could have got so far and endured for so long as it was never going to survive in a commercial market.

For me one of the most shocking aspects of the deal was how little concern was raised by UK politicians. We are talking about a deal that involves two Chinese nuclear companies that are ultimately under the control of the Chinese Communist Party gaining access to our civilian nuclear industry. I am astonished that Conservative MPs are prepared to countenance such a risk to our national security.  And this is to say nothing of the risk of suicide terrorism which we are left open to when nuclear stations are operational anywhere in the country.

Commercially the Hinkley deal has been a dead duck for some time. ………

The issue of most concern in this whole sorry saga is the total absence of genuine political scrutiny. Most UK MPs only seem to have woken up and taken any interest about a week before the deal was signed off last autumn. Cameron and Osborne have been operating as though in a legal vacuum. The British media has paid no attention to the rules of the single market and my continual efforts to interest them in the issue of state aid have failed……..

March 17, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The global nuclear industry kept alive by tax-payer money, but not for long?

Pro-nuclear governments try to shield the nuclear operator from these risks, if possible. They protect the nuclear operator from lawsuits (reducing insurance costs). They guarantee debt (reducing interest text-my-money-2costs). In the U.S. they tend to pass on unexpected (but prudently incurred) costs to the consumer.

That leads to our second point: these measures do not reduce risk, they just shift it. The risk never goes away. The government and consumer now bear part of it. But consumers do not take out nuclear risk policies with semi-annual payments. They do not see the cost so it doesn’t exist for them until the electricity bill goes up. In the same way, government can deny the costs of acting as an insurer of last resort because no line item appears in the budget to cover the costs until an accident happens (that’s the way a Congressional staffer explained it once at a meeting on the future of nuclear power).

flag-UK5 years after Fukushima: Nuclear power prospects dim Leonard Hyman and William Tilles, March 15, 2016 Five years after a devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident at Fukushima that killed thousands and displaced many more, the Japanese are still cleaning up, people still cannot return to their homes and, possibly the least important statistic, Tokyo Electric Power’s shares sell at one quarter of the pre-accident price.

Roughly five years ago, the British government and French utility EDF began a process to build another nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, an investment still awaiting the approval of EDF’s board. As odd as it seems, the tragic disaster and botched business deal have a common thread (other than the fact that EDF shares sell at one-third of their 2011 price): the role of government in nuclear power. Continue reading

March 17, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One Month Above 1.5 C — NASA Data Shows February Crossed Critical Threshold


We had a number of preliminary indicators that February of 2016 was going to be ridiculously hot. And, according to new reports from NASA, those indicators appear to have born out.

In short, we’ve just experienced a month that was more than 1.5 C hotter than 1880s averages. It’s not a yearly average in this dangerous range — but likely the peak reading from a very intense El Nino combining with the growing base forcing of human climate change. That said, it’s a foretaste of what could very easily happen on a 5-15 year timescale in the annual measure if fossil fuel burning and related carbon emissions do not radically ramp downward.

February of 2015 was About 1.57 C Hotter Than 1880s Averages

According to NASA GISS, February of 2016 was the hottest February ever recorded by a long shot with global temperature departures hitting a never-before-seen above…

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March 17, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ENuFF RESPONSE To The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission

In the Final report, ENuFF respectfully requests that the NFCRC demonstrate how producing & using
the Jacobs MCM report does not contravene s.13 of the NWPA 2000.
In the Final Report, ENuFF respectfully requests that the NFCRC specifically excludes storing any
nuclear waste within the Earthquake Hazards Zone as previously determined & published by
Geoscience Australia on their website.
ENuFF also highly recommends that the NFCRC:
(1) fully digests & act upon Paul Langley’s Response13 to the Tenative Finding 74; &
(2) re-visit Appendix 2 of Yuri Poetzl’s 24 July 2015 Submission14 & publicly
respond to all its’ questions.

Diagram SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle

ENuFF   RESPONSE To The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission February 2016 TENTATIVE FINDINGS    Everybody for a Nuclear Free Future, March 2016  (on original the authors of this response provide source references for their statement)

MA-PITJA MUNU IRATI WANTI “Go away and leave the poison where it is”
“Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000“1 (hereafter ‘NWPA 2000’), which includes the following provision:
13—No public money to be used to encourage or finance construction or operation of nuclear waste storage facility. Despite any other Act or law to the contrary, no public money may be appropriated, expended or advanced to any person for the purpose of encouraging or financing any activity associated with the construction or operation of a nuclear waste storage facility in this State.”2
The NFCRC was funded by public money therefore it would be unlawful for the NFCRC to divest such money “… for the purpose of encouraging or financing any activity associated with the construction or operation of a nuclear waste storage facility in this State.”

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March 17, 2016 Posted by | Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | Leave a comment