Australian news, and some related international items

6 April – 6 May : Assessing the Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission before its results are released on 6 May

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINIt’s one month until the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission will announce its findings. And everyone knows what they will be  – “nuclear waste importing will be a bonanza for South Australia”

This is the first of the significant posts that will appear on this site each day, ,until 6th May.

Kevin Scarce has dismissed opposition to the plan as largely “emotional”, not “factual” . I suspect that will be the way in which the Commission will deal with the opposing Submissions.  Here’s today’s:

The Greens SA’s submission to the Nuclear Royal Commission’s Tentative Findings rejects the suggestion that an economic bonanza awaits our State if South Australians would only resign ourselves to becoming the world’s nuclear garbage bin.

graph S Aust waste dump costs

“The Royal Commission has been blinded by imaginary wealth and sucked into believing that a project that has never succeeded anywhere else in the World is South Australia’s for the taking”, said Greens SA Parliamentary Leader, Mark Parnell MLC.

“The most obvious question is being ignored: If this is such a great deal, how come no other country has grabbed it before now?

“The Greens are urging the Royal Commission to “get real” and critically examine the supposed economic benefits alongside the ongoing economic, social, environmental and reputational costs.

“Washing your hands of responsibility for a toxic legacy left to future generations is just immoral.

“The solution to South Australia’s current unemployment problems won’t be solved with mythical jobs that are decades into the future with the creation of toxic liabilities that last hundreds of thousands of year.

On releasing the “Tentative Findings” Report to the media on 15th February 2016, Commissioner Kevin Scarce stated, “The community needs to understand the risks and the benefits.”  The Royal Commission’s “Tentative Findings” highlights many purported benefits but is scant on detail when it comes to the profound risks.

According to the Greens’ submission, the “Tentative Findings” suffer from:
1.Unrealistic expectations of the magnitude of the project;
2.Failure to appreciate 6 decades of international failure to solve the nuclear waste problem;
3.Missing costs, unfunded liabilities, missing contingencies and failure to recognise inevitable cost blow-outs
4.Heroic assumptions of other countries’ willingness to pay for SA to take their nuclear waste;
5.Lack of recognition of the potential for irrecoverable sunk costs and unlimited future liabilities;
6.Failure to address reputational damage and impact on other sectors of the economy; and
7.Naïve expectations that South Australia would get to keep all the profits from a nuclear waste dump in our State, without having to share them with other States.

“The Commission’s final report due on 6th May should recommend that the folly of South Australia’s increased involvement in the nuclear industry be abandoned.

“In relation to the other Terms of Reference, increased uranium mining, uranium processing or nuclear power were never really an option for SA and the Royal Commission was an expensive way to tell us what we already knew”, concluded Mark Parnell.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May | Leave a comment

Kevin Scarce bemoans the “emotion” and “opinion” of opponents of nuclear waste dump

Scarce blahWealth beyond measure? Scarce commission backs SA nuke ‘dump’ Tom Richardson, INDaily, 11 Feb 2016  “……  “This commission is not driven by emotion or opinion,” Commissioner Kevin Scarce told reporters today. However, he conceded emotions and opinions would be divided by his findings on nuclear storage.

“The debate has been formed upon fear,” he said……..

Under questioning, however, he bristled at the use of the term “waste dump”, saying he “wished people would stop using” it.

“It’s a sophisticated engineering site… it has no bearing whatsoever on a dump,” he said. The case for nuclear waste storage was overwhelmingly the strongest of the four terms of reference considered, with Scarce finding nuclear electricity generation “would not be commercially viable in the foreseeable future… taking account of future demand and anticipated costs”……..

Greens MLC Mark Parnell insisted the economic case was flawed and “illusory”, because it only analysed the short-term benefits, rather than long-term environmental damage and reputational risk.
“If it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” he said, ignoring Scarce’s distaste for the terminology.

“A dump is a dump is a dump… if it looks like a dump and serves the purpose of a dump – it’s a dump.”…….

The commission has cost $5.5 million since it was established last year, but Scarce said that would be “value for money if the community has the opportunity to consider the facts”….

Dr Jim Green from Friends of the Earth denounced the commission’s “optimistic view of potential profits”. “Costs are likely to be astronomical, even over relatively short timeframes… just to build a repository would cost A$39 billion, according to the latest estimate in France, or A$43 billion according to an estimate from Japan,” Green said. ra ra

April 6, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Transfer of radioactive trash across the globe is such a con job!

a-cat-CANThis transfer of wastes from UK to USA is such a con job. It’s portrayed as a “win win”, with the pretense of obtaining medical radioisotopes for diagnosis and treatment of cancer. . What a lie! What an unequal swap!

First of all, medical radioisotopes can be obtained without use of nuclear reactor, as Canada is now doing. By use of non nuclear cyclotrons – linear accelerators, these radioisotopes (most being very short-lived) can be made close to the point of use – a much more practical system.

Second, the whole transport idea is bizarrely unsafe –  passing through or over communities, waterways – risk of accident, of terrorism.

Thirdly, it is madness to set up this “exchange” plan, in order to prolong this noxious industry, and with that silly figleaf of nuclear medicine tacked on top of it.

Blind Freddy could see that the number one priority is to stop making radioactive trash

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Carmichael coal project – the whitest of white elephants

coal CarmichaelMine2Adani’s Carmichael mine is just not going to happen, The Age, April 5, 2016  Business columnist   Adani is not going to happen; the construction, that is, of the leviathan Carmichael mine, the world’s largest thermal coal mine in the hinterland of the Great Barrier Reef.

Much is the wailing and gnashing of teeth at the move by the Queensland government to approve the project but this approval is entirely political.

The evidence is compelling. Carmichael is the whitest of white elephants.It is all about the appearance of commitment to jobs, jobs that will never occur unless the coal price doubles, and it is about the government not getting bashed up by the opposition for being anti-jobs and abandoning its election commitments.

Even Adani is coy. No sooner had the Indian conglomerate been granted approval than it deferred the project for another year. Buried in the detail of its press release was this: “opportunity for final investment decision and construction in 2017”.

Reaching “final investment decision” would require willing financiers with a cool $10 billion just for Phase One. But Adani’s bankers have long since fled the scene.

There would be no taxpayer support nor “dredging [of the reef] at Abbot Point [port] until Adani demonstrates financial closure,” said Resources Minister Anthony Lynham.

Which brings us to the real world, financial closure; not only is the project “bankerless” but, apart from the Australian government, which is “energy-policyless”, the real world has moved on, quickly.

The head of the world’s biggest power provider, chairman Liu Zhenya of China’s State Grid Corporation, recently told a US energy conference the ramp-up of renewable energy and ongoing integration of wind and solar power projects into the grid were gathering pace.

“A fundamental solution [to address power needs and climate change] is to accelerate clean energy,” Liu told his audience of energy executives. The eventual aim was “replacing coal and oil”.

The rapid build-up of renewables can be deployed quickly and economically. “Clean energy is competitive,” said Lui. “The only hurdle to overcome is mindset. There’s no technical challenge at all”………

April 6, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

The folly of sending nuclear wastes across the world

In such circumstances it becomes tempting to look for short cuts. One occasionally raised is to put all the world’s problematic waste somewhere very remote like the west Australian desert. This is a non-starter. The Czech and Slovak experience illustrated this. As a single country they planned a single repository, but after their “velvet divorce” each insisted it would not permanently manage the other’s waste. Such an international solution also contradicts the aforementioned issue of being responsible for your own legacy.

The other major hope is that science will find a convincing way either to use waste as fuel for reactors, and/or that “partitioning and transmutation” would drastically reduce the half-lives of the relevant isotopes. Yet these approaches are complex and expensive, involving molten salt reactors or accelerator-driven systems. And critically, there would still be some volume of long-lived waste that needed to be managed – no method can yet promise to drastically reduce the half-lives of all the different waste types. The only credible way forward is deep burial.

flag-UKBritain is sending a huge nuclear waste consignment to America – why?, The Conversation, , April 5, 2016 “……..The vast majority of the UK’s waste comes from its fleet of nuclear power stations. Most of it is stored at the Sellafield site in north-west England. But the material being sent to the US is a particularly high (weapons usable) grade of enriched uranium that you wouldn’t want to move to Sellafield from its current location at Dounreay in the north of Scotland without building a new storage facility – presumably more expensive than the cost of transportation.

The decision to move this radioactive waste out of the UK has been presented as making it harder for nuclear materials to get into the hands of terrorists, but this is implausible. The UK is capable of managing homegrown highly enriched uranium itself. The plan also contradicts the principle that countries are responsible for managing their own nuclear legacy…….

Airplane danger

we are talking about substances which could harm human health for tens of thousands of years into the future. It raises profound ethical issues of equity between generations.

Deep burial

The scientific community does in fact agree on how to dispose of these materials safely: deep underground in appropriate geology Continue reading

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

The Panama Papers: The files reveal the darker side of the BHP Billiton merger

BHPBillitonSmThe Panama Papers: The files reveal the darker side of the BHP Billiton merger
The Mossack Fonseca files raise questions about the 2001 merger between South African miner Billiton Plc and BHP Ltd— beginning with how dependent the British arm of the big miner has become on tax-free profits from its Singapore marketing hub to pay dividends. (subscribers only)

April 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

Roundup of news on the Panama global financial corruption scandal

corruption 1Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca labels leak a ‘crime and attack’The revelation of the Panama Papers detailing the off-shore structures of many wealthy clients is a “crime” and an “attack” on Panama, the law firm at the heart of the scandal has said.

Panama Papers: FIFA officials, Lionel Messi, Michel Platini named in secret offshore files Disgraced FIFA officials, suspended UEFA chief Michel Platini and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi were amongst the names found the Panama Papers — leaked documents which reveal offshore financial dealings of the world’s rich and famous.

Panama Papers leak: Australian security company Wilson linked to Hong Kong corruption scandalLeaked documents have revealed that two brothers embroiled in a massive Hong Kong corruption scandal were ultimately in control of an Australian security company that earned roughly half a billion dollars in lucrative government contracts.

Panama Papers: Tax office investigating 800 Australians identified in financial record leak The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is investigating 800 Australian residents named in a massive leak of tax and financial records known as the Panama Papers.

Panama Papers: Iceland PM Gunnlaugsson urged to resign amid Mossack Fonseca data leak By International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and ABC staffPressure is mounting for Iceland’s Prime Minister to resign after an unprecedented leak of data revealed accusations he used an offshore company to hide millions of dollars in investments in Iceland’s major banks.

Panama Papers: Vladimir Putin associates, Jackie Chan identified in unprecedented leak of offshore financial records An unprecedented leak of more than 11 million documents has revealed the hidden financial dealings of some of the world’s wealthiest people, as well as 12 current and former world leaders and 128 more politicians and public officials around the world.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ): The Panama Papers: Exposing the Rogue Offshore Finance Industry Leak of more than 11 million documents show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens.

Panama Papers: Greens call for Wilson Security to be stripped of contracts after corruption scandal links exposedThe Greens have called on the Federal Government to strip Wilson Security of its contracts for offshore immigration detention centres after revelations the company has links to a Hong Kong corruption scandal.

Panama Papers: Here’s who has been caught in the fallout of the Mossack Fonseca leak The unprecedented leak of more than 11 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has revealed some of the hidden financial dealings of the world’s rich and powerful.

Here’s a look at some of the more high-profile people feeling the heat after the scandal broke.

Panama Papers: Iceland PM Gunnlaugsson refuses to resign over tax leaks; protesters take to streets Iceland’s Prime Minister is refusing to resign after leaked tax documents known as the Panama Papers revealed accusations he and his wife used an offshore firm to allegedly hide million-dollar investments.  (Actually I think that he has now resigned)

Panama Papers: Fraudsters, former tax officials among Australians identified in Mossack Fonseca leak Convicted fraudsters, directors banned by the corporate regulator and former Australian Tax Office (ATO) officials are among hundreds of Australians linked to companies incorporated by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca

(Read more about this investigation by ICIJ journalists and more than a hundred other media partners at: – and check out the videos and reading list.)

April 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

UK would save £40bn by developing renewables, scapping Hinkley nuclear project

Hinkley costs

The report says that at £24bn, Hinkley Point C would be the “most expensive building on Earth”, and argues that the new reactors would pass not just economic costs to future generations, but the burdens of nuclear waste and climate change because nuclear is not quick enough to build at scale to stave off dangerous global warming

Scrapping Hinkley for renewable alternatives would save ‘tens of billions’
Solar and wind would generate the equivalent power to Hinkley over the plant’s planned lifetime for £40bn less, says analysis comparing future costs, Guardian, , 5 Apr 16, Scrapping plans for new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset and building huge amounts of renewable power instead would save the UK tens of billions of pounds, according to an analysis that compares likely future costs.

The Intergenerational Foundation thinktank calculated that Britain would pay up to £40bn less for renewable alternatives that would generate the equivalent power to Hinkley over the plant’s planned lifetime.

A final investment decision by EDF on the nuclear power plant’s expansion is expected in May. The deal involves the government committing £92.50 per megawatt hour over 35 years for its electricity output, more than twice the current wholesale price.

But a report published on Tuesday by the thinktank, which campaigns on fairness between generations, found that onshore windfarms would cost £31.2bn less than Hinkley, and solar photovoltaic power £39.9bn less over 35 years to build and run. The estimate is based on both the value of subsidies paid by the taxpayer for the electricity and the cost of building the infrastructure. Continue reading

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

Medical education now addressing radiation risk with medical imaging

medical-radiation30376 – Radiation protection of the patient, RACGP March 16  Gplearning

Many medical imaging procedures involve exposure to ionising radiation. The immediate and long-term benefits of these procedures are widely understood. However, in clinical settings, both referring and radiological medical practitioners often have limited awareness of the actual doses of radiation and risks involved.
While risk associated with any single procedure is likely very small, the cumulative effect of frequent, often repeated and potentially inappropriate radiographic imaging presents a real public health concern for risks such as radiation-induced cancer.
This activity will cover the measurement of radiation associated with medical imaging; the effects of radiation exposure; the radiation associated with specific imaging procedures; and issues in clinical decision making, including evidence based medicine and risk communication.

Relevance to General Practice
Patients often rely on their GP for education about the risks and benefits of tests, including medical imaging. All international regulatory authorities, including those in Australia, require that imaging procedures be justified before being performed to protect patients from unnecessary or harmful tests.
The premise of justification is simple: the benefit of the test must outweigh the harm. In clinical practice, the process of justification is often less clear.
GPs are responsible for more imaging referrals than any other group. Most of these referrals are justified (the benefits far outweigh the risks) however, recent reviews suggest that between a significant number of medical radiation exposures may be unnecessary.
This activity will discuss the radiation associated with specific imaging procedures; and issues in clinical decision making, including evidence based medicine and risk communication. …….

April 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Australia’s anti science legacy from Tony Abbott

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmTony Abbott’s harmful legacy lives on in climate silence, SMH April 5, 2016 Sydney Morning Herald political and international editor “………Australia had a bipartisan consensus on climate change under John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull. The consensus was that climate change was real and that pricing carbon through an emissions trading scheme was the best way  for Australia  to respond.

Abbott shattered the consensus. He rode to power a conservative reaction against climate change action. He used it to destroy Turnbull’s leadership and then Rudd’s and, finally, Julia Gillard’s.

Together with his footsoldiers in politics and the media, he succeeded in muddying the public’s understanding of climate change in the process. The conservative reaction intimidated some scientists, news editors and commentators. And Turnbull, in fear of reviving an angry conservative rearguard, has bound himself to the Abbott policy.

The net result today is Australia’s muted debate and confused response to climate change……..

The planet is far from saved from the depredations of climate change; just look at the reef. But the news is not all bad. Australia might even recover sufficiently from the Abbott era to begin to care again.

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

Bureau of Meteorology might be able to take over CSIRO’s lost climate research

climate-changeBureau of Meteorology plan to take over CSIRO climate change research, The Age, April 5, 2016  Adam Morton, Peter Hannam, The Bureau of Meteorology has offered to save climate research that CSIRO plans to axe under a plan that would see long-term programs and dozens of jobs transfer between the two national science agencies.

The proposal, discussed at a meeting convened by chief scientist Alan Finkel​ last month, is the most concrete of several ideas thrown up by the scientific community in a bid to retain internationally respected climate researchers and data collection.

Scientific agencies were taken by surprise when CSIRO chief Larry Marshall announced in February that the organisation would stop climate data collection as it re-positioned itself as an “innovation catalyst”, focusing on work that was financially attractive to government or private partners.

The recasting of the century-old Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, initially linked to about 350 job cuts including up to 100 climate scientists, has drawn criticism from some research institutions in Australia and overseas.

It is understood the Bureau of Meteorology put forward two proposals that would see it hire either 40 or 50 CSIRO scientists as it took on more climate measurement and modelling – but was contingent on additional funding to pay for them. CSIRO is yet to respond in detail……….. Continue reading

April 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Solar farming now an economic crop for USA farmers

solar-aghastFarmers Quit Corn; Grow Solar Power, Triple Pundit,   on Friday, Apr 1st, 2016 One of the arguments used against solar power deployment is the amount of space needed for all of those solar panels. Although one study has shown that 0.6 percent of all land in the U.S. would be needed to completely electrify the country, the fight still goes on, even as solar and wind power technologies continue to increase in efficiency while decreasing in costs.

The fight is also occurring in counties across the U.S., as landowners and farmers seek new ways to generate revenue. Most of rural America has missed out on the economic revival that has conjoined technology and urbanization in many cities, so these counties are also seeking new ways to generate tax revenues. Farmers, of course, have also taken a hit due to the ongoing slump in global commodities.

The controversy over farmers having the right to sign contract with solar and wind power companies is now taking center stage in North Carolina.

The combination of the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS), which requires utilities operating in the state to generate some electricity from renewables, along with its booming tech culture, has turned the Tar Heel State into a solar powerhouse. In fact, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) says North Carolina ranks third in the nation amongst U.S. states in total solar capacity. Last year, the installation of over 1,100 megawatts of solar power placed North Carolina in second nationally in new solar generation.

And much of this power is generated in rural counties across the state, from the northern border with Virginia to along the South Carolina state line. According to Solar Strata, one company that is riding North Carolina’s solar boom, these new solar farms are appearing on farmland where crops such as tobacco, peanuts, cotton and corn can no longer earn enough money for farmers to keep their land. Other sites are appearing on fallow land that has not been farmed in years. Companies such as Solar Strata pay rent to these farmers, with contracts that often last as long as 20 years. As quoted by one farmer who was interviewed by Joe Ryan of Bloomberg, “It gives me a way to keep the farm . . . and pass it to my grandchildren.”…….

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

Wind farming is saving family farms in USA, and providing jobs

In many cases, lease payments from turbines are the difference between keeping a farm and selling off the land.

Jason Wilson of Calhan, CO, told me, “The wind farm allowed us to be able to keep our family farm. We had come to a point where it no longer made financial sense to keep the property even with its vast sentimental value. The wind farm balanced the financial viability with the sentimental value, allowing the family farm to be passed on to the next generation.”

 wind farms bring other opportunities for employment. Wind turbine technician is the fastest growing occupation in the country and presents another employment avenue for people who enjoy rural lifestyles.

windmills-and-hayHow does wind help the family farm stay in the family?, Greg Alvarez, 22 Mar 16During my tour through Colorado wind power last week, I often heard how wind helps keep the fabric of rural communities intact, allowing them to thrive.

Land lease payments make it possible for family famers and ranchers to keep their businesses running, expanded tax revenue provides resources to buy new emergency services equipment, and wind farms bring well-paying jobs to the community, meaning young people don’t have to leave home to find a good career.

Millions in financial resources for rural communities

New data released today allows us to quantify these sorts of anecdotes: landowners with wind turbines on their property now receive a total of $222 million in lease payments every year. Overall, landowners in six states currently receive over $10 million each year in lease payments, and 26 states have landowners that receive over $1 million.

This revenue acts as a drought resistant cash crop for family farmers and ranchers, providing a stable source of income they can count on when productivity declines because of drought or other causes. It also helps protect them from commodity price fluctuations, a frequent source of frustration in the agricultural world.

Real world impacts Continue reading

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment