Australian news, and some related international items

The ethics of burdening future South Australians with nuclear wastes?

A high-level nuclear waste dump for SA   What is our moral obligation?

Conservation Council of South Australia

The argument goes: surely SA has a moral obligation to import nuclear waste…

…because we mine uranium?

Uranium mining is only the first of many stages in the nuclear fuel chain. Mined uranium is converted, then enriched, then made into fuel and then used in nuclear power plants. All through this process, there are companies and other countries generating income and profits.
Why is it that companies are very happy to take the profits from their activities, but always try to push the costs (financial, environmental and social) back on to the public? For years, tobacco companies tried to dodge their disastrous impact on the health system until governments forced them to be held to account.
Surely the nuclear industry should be required to use some of its profits to invest in processing its waste into cleaner forms before it is placed in permanent storage? If it can’t do that, what is our moral obligation to continue to supply uranium to an industry that is not willing to take responsibility for its own waste?
And if we accept the logic that we are ultimately responsible for the waste products associated with our exports, shouldn’t we apply it to all our export products, like copper or steel? And shouldn’t other countries be held similarly accountable for the waste produced from their exports?

…because we are more geologically and politically stable than other places?

High-level nuclear waste stays dangerous to humans for tens of thousands of years. To put that into context, the Crusades happened 700 years ago, and the pyramids in Egypt were built around 4,500 years ago. To claim that SA will be politically stable based on just the last 200 years of parliamentary democracy is ridiculous.
Equally, SA is not the only region in the world with these characteristics and our geological stability is not all that is claimed. According to experts like Dr Mike Sandiford from the University of Melbourne, Australia is less tectonically stable than a number of other continental regions. The melting of ice sheets as a result of global warming is predicted to increase earthquakes and other seismic activity.
The US has regions that are just as stable as SA, and, unlike us, they produce high-level nuclear waste. So, using this logic, don’t they have a greater moral obligation to create a solution?

…because we benefit from x-rays?

The proposed high-level waste dump has nothing to do with waste from nuclear medicine. That is part of a separate (Federal) process to develop a dump for Australia’s domestic low and intermediate-level waste.

If we want this decision to include moral considerations (as it should), we might ask ourselves about the ethics of burdening thousands of generations of future South Australians with the cost and risk of managing highly radioactive waste, when any economic benefits are long gone.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | religion and ethics, South Australia | 1 Comment

Secret weapons grade plutonium shipment from Japan to USA

ship radiationThe Pacific Egret and its escort ship Pacific Heron are reportedly lightly armed UK flagged vessels and arrived in Kobe port from Barrow-in-Furness, England on March 4th. The Egret docked in Tokai for pre-transport logistics last week. Both ships after departing Tokai port will sail together most likely through the South Pacific to the east coast of the United States.

NPT and Nuclear Security Risks’ Exposed by Secret Plutonium Shipment: NGOsMarch 18, 2016 Tokyo- (PanOrient News) A coalition of five non-governmental organizations warned today that a shipment of weapons-grade plutonium scheduled to antnuke-relevantdepart the port of the Japanese Tokai nuclear station in Ibaraki prefecture this coming weekend highlights the failure, but also the proliferation risks, of the current Japanese nuclear policy. 

A cargo of 331kg of plutonium will be loaded on to the Pacific Egret, an armed British nuclear transport ship, prior to departure under armed escort to the United States. It will be the largest shipment of separated plutonium since 1.8 tons of plutonium was delivered to Japan by controversial Akatsuki-maru in 1992. The two month voyage to the Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station will then see the plutonium dumped at the Department of Energy Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. Continue reading

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Alternative energy sources far better than Hinkley nuclear power project

Hinkley is a deal that has nothing to do with market reality. Nothing to do with affordability, let alone with the ‘hard-working families’ that [energy secretary] Amber Rudd keeps bleating on about. And nothing to do with addressing our climate change responsibilities.

“By contrast, it’s got everything to do with political leaders in three nations – the UK, France and China – all of which ‘need’ Hinkley Point to happen for grubby geopolitical interests of their own.”

text-relevantflag-UKFive ways to power the UK that are far better than Hinkley Point

These alternatives to the troubled planned nuclear plant will be faster to build and cheaper for energy consumers, say experts, Guardian,  The planned £18bn nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset are derided by critics as “one of the worst deals ever” for Britain, but defended as crucial to the UK’s energy policy by the government.

Recent resignations and financial warnings have knocked confidence in the Hinkley C deal, raising the question of whether clean energy alternatives could plug the gap. The fast-changing economics of the energy world, with renewables and other clean technologies falling in cost, indicate they can. The alternatives also look faster to build – it would take a decade to get Hinkley into operation – and cheaper for consumers, who ultimately foot the bills.

Energy policy expert Jonathan Gaventa, from the thinktank E3G, has come up with five better ways of powering the nation:

Energy efficiency

Electricity demand is already falling. The Somerset site for Hinkley C was approved in 2010 but since then UK demand has already fallen by more than the plant will produce, about 25TWh a year or 7% of today’s demand. Due to repeated delays, Hinkley C is unlikely to produce electricity much before 2030, by which time six Hinkleys’ worth of electricity could have been cut from the national demand, according to a McKinsey report for the government.

Wind turbines

Wind power generation equivalent to one Hinkley has been connected to the national grid since 2010. Onshore wind power, having dropped 20% in cost over the last five years, is much cheaper than the heavily subsidised price Hinkley is guaranteed for over 35 years. The costs of offshore wind are also falling and likely to be below Hinkley well before 2030.

graph price-history-silicon cells

Solar power

Electricity from solar power is now also cheaper than Hinkley, having fallen by half in the last five years. From almost no solar panels in the UK, a third of a Hinkley has been added since 2010. Half of that was delivered in just 18 months, according to government statistics. [excellent graph]    Continue reading

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Indigenous opponents of Adani’s Carmichael mine to intensify court battle

justiceWangan and Jagalingou people vow to ‘take the fight up a notch’
after mine’s endorsement by Queensland parliament’ Joshua Robertson, The Guardian Australia:

“Indigenous opponents of Adani’s Carmichael mine have vowed to ramp up  their legal fight against the project despite fresh progress by the miner and  its endorsement by the Queensland parliament.

Representatives of the Wangan and Jagalingou people, the traditional owners of the site of Australia’s  largest proposed coalmine, are considering a series of high court and federal  court actions to broaden their unfolding battle against the Indian miner.

Adani’s failure to secure an Indigenous land use agreement (ILUA) with the Wangan and Jagalingou continues to pose a key obstacle for the project, … “

March 19, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Queensland | Leave a comment

Hinkley nuclear project will lock UK tax-payers into huge debt

“The £22bn ‘poison pill’ effectively reduces the risk to zero for EDF and its backers, which is great for them. But from an outside perspective, it smacks of desperation.”

“Energy economics are changing rapidly and so the momentum is towards decentralised, smart and flexible energy systems. It is moving away from large, inflexible power plants like Hinkley. If it ever gets funded, it will be a white elephant before it is even finished and this government, with this £22bn ‘poison pill’, will have tied the next generation into paying for it, for no reason that I can understand. If it is simply political saving face, it really is pitiful.”

Hinkley costs

flag-UKHinkley Point C nuclear deal contains £22bn ‘poison pill’ for taxpayer
Public left with huge liability for a government closure of power plant before 2060 under UK’s agreement with EDF,
Guardian, , 18 Mar 16, The Hinkley nuclear power deal contains a “poison pill” which could leave taxpayers with a £22bn bill if a future UK government closed the plant before 2060, according to an official document seen by the Guardian.

The huge liability shows Hinkley is a “terrible deal” for the UK public, according to critics, with the company also guaranteed three times today’s price for electricity for 35 years. The project has recently been battered by financial warnings and resignations at its prime backer EDF, although on Thursday France’s economics minister, Emmanuel Macron, said that the French state would bail the company out.

The deal the UK government has agreed with EDF, set out in an unpublicised “minute”, commits the British public to pay subsidies of up to about £40bn in real terms and provides state guarantees on nuclear waste disposal and insurance, while allowing the plant to begin producing electricity as late as 2033. Continue reading

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

High Court challenge to Tasmania’s controversial anti-protester laws

here are environment ministers Groom and Hunt backing the arrest and punishment of Australians who make a modest stand for threatened species that they, the ministers, should be protecting.

In an age of the accelerating and irreversible destruction of our Earth’s biosphere, the untoward and often unseen influence of its exploiters is eroding Australia’s time-honoured rights to peaceful protest.

It was inevitable that somewhere, some time, some citizens would face the repressive Tasmanian laws. That stand has now been made among the stately ferns of Lapoinya and will move to the High Court of Australia where the consequences are enormous for every environmental, social, cultural and Indigenous issue in Australia’s future

Bob Brown’s arrest in Lapoinya under new anti-protestor laws, The Saturday Paper, BOB BROWN, 19 Mar 16  A Brown,Bob follows their use to arrest conservationists in the Lapoinya forest. “…….The logging at Lapoinya torpedoed any hope Forestry Tasmania had of winning Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, the internationally recognised green accreditation increasingly sought by global markets. FSC depends on respectful relationships with local communities………

Through all of this, the nation’s most powerful potential guardians of Australia’s forests and threatened species, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the federal minister for the environment, Greg Hunt, failed to lift a finger.

The right to protest under threat

In Australia, the option of choice for setting back conservation is the strangling of environmental protest. As the resource-extraction industries come under fire for increasing encroachments on farmland and places of high natural or cultural heritage value, a key strategy is to have governments outlaw effective political protest…….. Continue reading

March 19, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Nuclear energy now unpopular with majority of Americans

Flag-USAMost Americans now oppose nuclear energy, poll finds By Mark Hensch, 18 Mar 16  A majority of Americans oppose using nuclear energy for the first time, according to a new poll.

Fifty-four percent dislike nuclear energy in the Gallup survey released Friday, with 44 percent who support using it.Pollsters found that opposition toward nuclear energy is up 11 points since last year, when 43 percent rejected using it as an energy source.

Support for nuclear power is down 7 points during the same period, with 51 percent backing the resource in 2015.

The poll has tracked public opinion on nuclear power since 1994. The high point in support for nuclear energy was in 2010 at 62 percent.

In 2011, support was at 57 percent just before the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant. Support for nuclear energy in the U.S. remained relatively unchanged the following year, but has slipped since.

The Fukushima plant suffered nuclear meltdowns after it was damaged in an earthquake and tsunami. It’s considered the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Gallup polled 1,019 Americans via cell and landline telephones from March 2-6. The poll has a 4 percent margin of error.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment