Australian news, and some related international items

Liberal and Labor will downplay nuclear waste issues, until the election is safely over

Tweedle-NuclearDecision on low-level nuclear waste dump unlikely before year-end and without public support, April 30, 2016, The Advertiser, DANIEL WILLSPARIS, FRANCE, Sunday Mail (SA)  A GO-AHEAD for a low-level nuclear waste dump for South Australia will not be granted before the end of the year – and will only proceed if there is public support, Premier Jay Weatherill says.

Speaking to the Sunday Mail during a visit to France to meet the designers of the future submarines, Mr Weatherill said the proposal could only be approved after the final Royal Commission report and the delivery of a State Government response to Parliament.

An array of state laws currently ban both low- and high- level waste facilities, as well as the use of nuclear energy and enrichment of mined uranium……..

“I think it’s a community debate that will begin in earnest after the next federal election,” he said.……

May 2, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, election 2013, politics | Leave a comment

The submarine boondoggle- over $2000 per each Australian

4. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE  So we spend $2,000 each. That just gets us the big lumps of steel. If you actually want to use them, you’re paying more. It could be another $2,000 to $4,000 per Australian….

OPTIONS   The great thing about the way the acquisition will work is there should be the opportunity to cut back from 12 when the inevitable delays and cost blowouts happen. From here we can’t save the whole $2000 but maybe we can save some, for better uses.

text-my-money-2Sub standard: why the $2,000 we are each spending on submarines will probably be a terrible waste APRIL 30, 2016, Jason Murphy  AUSTRALIA is spending $50 billion to buy submarines. The biggest whack of money we’ve ever spent on a Defence project. It comes out at $2000 per person. And it’s probably a shocking idea. Continue reading

May 2, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Fukushima denial – the immorality of the nuclear lobby

text-relevantFukushima – the story continues… BY: ROGER METCALFE, BIZCOMMUNITY. South Africa, 29 Apr 16 The 5th anniversary of the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant on the east coast of Japan has come and gone, and, still the whole story hasn’t been told…..

Japan’s escalating situation is: “Far worse than we truly know. There are hundreds of issues at stake here”   “Whether it is meltdown temperature, radiation exposure, or the number of people exposed – all of these statistics are flawed. We don’t know anything yet.”

“This is far worse than what the general public are perceiving. At the moment we are facing the challenge to conquer denial. This is simply organised denial” …….Mycle Schneider

Fukushima provides a perfect case study for the meltdown of truth. It is beyond reckless and immoral for governments and mainstream media to downplay and cover up such disasters……

Let us not forget that the global economy is ruled by those who control the money system. Multinational corporations, including multi-trillion dollar nuclear industries, seek to monopolise control of the markets, such the energy sector. The way profits are extracted have nothing to do with a healthy environment and humanity……

May 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Australia Aboriginal land again targeted, for probably unnecessary radioactive trash dump

The Flinders Ranges site was nominated by Grant Chapman but he has precious little connection to the land. Conversely, the land has been precious to Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners for millennia. The fact that the government is once again targeting a ‘remote’ Aboriginal site is beyond comprehension and creates a lot of frustration and hurt.

“Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners weren’t consulted about the nomination. Even Traditional Owners who live next to the proposed dump site at Yappala Station weren’t consulted. The proposed dump site is adjacent to the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area.

radioactive trashSA once again targeted for nuclear waste dump, Niepraschk, 2 May 16

Last Friday the government announced its preferred site for a national radioactive waste dump, near Hawker in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges. The site was nominated by former Liberal Senator Grant Chapman, who holds a long-term lease over the Barndioota station, and his nomination has been endorsed by the Liberal government in Canberra.

The latest process to find a dump site follows 20 years of failed attempts trying to force a dump on Aboriginal communities in SA and later the Northern Territory. Continue reading

May 2, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Choice of nuclear dump site – “appalling” disrespect to Aboriginal culture

handsoffIt’s a desecration”: Traditional owner slams SA nuclear dump plan, InDaily,Bension Siebert, 29 Apr 16  @Bension1

 A traditional owner of the Flinders Ranges area short-listed to become a national nuclear waste dump says the plan is an “attack on our culture” that would “desecrate” sacred sites.

Adnyamathanha traditional owner Regina McKenzie told InDaily Barndioota Station, near Wilpena Pound, was home to spiritually and architecturally significant sacred burial sites and story lines.

McKenzie, also a lease holder living next to the station, said placing a nuclear waste dump on the site would amount to a “desecration”.

She said the plan showed “appalling” disrespect to Aboriginal culture and the Government “should be ashamed”. It’s a desecration; it’s a desecration of our belief system,” she said. She said the Adnyamathanha people wanted to preserve the story lines within the land “not only for our children but for non-Aboriginal people to come in and learn about our culture”.

“Imagine if somebody approached the Vatican and told them they wanted to put a nuclear dump [there]?”…….

Conservation Council SA Chief Executive Craig Wilkins said a nuclear waste dump on the site would damage South Australia’s tourism brand.

He said it “puts at risk the image of one of the state’s tourism icons: the Flinders Ranges” and was not “an economic or employment solution for SA” because it would create “a maximum of just six ongoing jobs”. “Nuclear waste has an enormous power to divide and fracture communities.”

May 2, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Liberal coalition plans nuclear submarine fleet so that we can fight China

Coalition plans nuclear-powered submarine fleet over long term. Fin Rev, by Aaron Patrick and Phillip Coorey, 1 MAY 16

Some of Australia’s new submarines could be nuclear-powered by the time they enter service, making them much more potent against the huge Chinese navy.

One of the reasons French ship builder Direction des Constructions ­Navales Ser­vices, also known as DCNS, won the $50 billion contract was its ability to switch easily to a nuclear version of the submarines being designed for the Royal Australian Navy.

That is because the Australian diesel-powered Shortfin Barracuda will be a shorter, lighter version of a nuclear submarine already being manufactured by DCNS in Cherbourg on the English Channel.

Cabinet ministers and defence officials have already discussed the possibility of switching from diesel engines to nuclear power part-way through the construction contract, political, government and industry sources say.

The Coalition wants to keep the option open in case public opposition to nuclear power changes in the future. National polls taken from 2006 to 2009 found between 35 and 50 per cent of Australians supported introducing nuclear power, a study by the National Academies Forum showed.

DCNS, which is majority owned by the French government, is expected to start building the Australian submarines in Adelaide next decade. The last one might not be completed until 2050.

The other bidders for the contract, Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, don’t make nuclear submarines………..

The government, which has been criticised for opting to build the submarines in Australia, said it was not considering switching to a nuclear-powered version………

Another drawback of nuclear reactors is that, unlike diesel motors, they can’t be turned off to make the submarine silent.

Australia’s submarines are unusual. They would be the only conventionally powered ones that used pump jets for propulsion rather than propellers, Stephan Fruehling, a defence expert at the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific, said.

The Coalition government quietly supports developing a nuclear industry in Australia and on Friday proposed storing radioactive waste on a remote South Australian cattle station.

It has encouraged the South Australian Labor government to push ahead with a debate over storing spent nuclear rods from overseas. Given the submarines will be built in Adelaide and South Australia has some of the largest uranium deposits in the world, the state could one day become the centre of an Australian nuclear industry.

May 2, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Stop the pretense: nuclear energy is just not commercially viable

text-my-money-2The real point of this story is that nuclear power is not commercially viable but has become a state-sponsored technology. There is nothing wrong with state supported technology. But we could save a lot of time and money by not pretending that it is something else.

flag-UKLets Stop Pretending Nuclear Power Is Commercially Viable  By 
 Sat, 30 April 2016, First its new president, Jean-Bernard Levy, said French state utility EDF would delay a decision on its joint French-Chinese nuclear project in the UK, Hinkley Point. That was over a year ago. Then the CFO of EDF, Thomas Piquemal, quit reportedly because he opposed the project on fi-nancial grounds. That was a short time ago. Then after a leaked memos, the French gov-ernment just announced that EDF would be raising more money and the Hinkley decision would now come in September.

Hinkley costs
David Cameron’s government in the UK backs this exceedingly expensive project and the French government controls both EDF and Areva, the nuclear manufacturer that developed the nuclear system to be used at Hinkley Point. Continue reading

May 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is thorium really a new, cheap, safe form of nuclear energy?

Thorium-dreamThorium: new and improved nuclear energy?

There is quite some – sometimes tiresome – rhetoric of thorium enthusiasts. Let’s call them thor-bores. Their arguments have little merit but they refuse to go away.

Here are some facts:

  • There is no “thorium reactor.” There is a proposal to use thorium as a fuel in various reactor designs including light-water reactors–as well as fast breeder reactors.
  • You still need uranium – or even plutonium – in a reactor using thorium. Thorium is not a fissile material and cannot either start or sustain a chain reaction. Therefore, a reactor using thorium would also need either enriched uranium or plutonium to initiate the chain reaction and sustain it until enough of the thorium has converted to fissile uranium (U-233) to sustain it.
  • Using plutonium sets up proliferation risks. To make a “thorium reactor” work, one must (a) mix the thorium with plutonium that has been stripped of the highly radioactive fission products; (b) use the mixed-oxide thorium-plutonium fuel in a reactor, whereby the plutonium atoms fission and produce power while the thorium atoms absorb neutrons and are turned into uranium-233 (a man-made isotope of uranium that has never existed in nature); (c) strip the fission products from the uranium-233 and mix THAT with thorium in order to continue the “cycle”. In this phase, the U-233 atoms fission and produce power while the thorium atoms absorb neutrons and generate MORE uranium-233. And so the cycle continues, generating more and more fission product wastes.
  • Uranium-233 is also excellent weapons-grade material. Unlike any other type of uranium fuel, uranium-233 is 100 percent enriched from the outset and thus is an excellent weapons-grade material and as effective as plutonium-239 for making nuclear bombs. This makes it very proliferation-prone and a tempting target for theft by criminal and terrorist organizations and for use by national governments in creating nuclear weapons.
  • Proliferation risks are not negated by thorium mixed with U-238. It has been claimed that thorium fuel cycles with reprocessing would be much less of a proliferation risk because the thorium can be mixed with uranium-238. In fact, fissile uranium-233 must first be mixed with non-fissile uranium-238. If the U-238 content is high enough, it is claimed that the mixture cannot be used to  make bombs with out uranium enrichment. However, while more U-238 does dilute the U-233, it also results in the production of more plutonium-239, so the proliferation problem remains.
  • Thorium would trigger a resumption of reprocessing in the US. In most proposed thorium fuel cycles, reprocessing is required to separate out the U-233 for use in fresh fuel. Reprocessing chemically separates plutonium and uranium and creates a large amount of so-called low-level but still highly radioactive liquid, gaseous and solid wastes.
  • Using thorium does not eliminate the problem of long-lived radioactive waste. Fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products including technetium-99 (half-life of over 200,000 years). Without reprocessing, thorium-232 is itself extremely long-lived (half-life of 14 billion years) and its decay products will build up over time in irradiated fuel. Therefore, in addition to all the fission products produced, the irradiated fuel is also quite radiotoxic. Wastes that pose long-term hazards are also produced at the “front end” of the thorium fuel cycle during mining, just as with the uranium fuel cycle.
  • Attempts to develop “thorium reactors” have failed for decades. No commercial “thoriumreactor” exists anywhere in the world. India has been attempting, without success, to develop a thorium breeder fuel cycle for decades. Other countries including the US and Russia have researched the development of thorium fuel for more than half a century without overcoming technical complications.
  • Fabricating “thorium fuel” is dangerous to health.  The process involves the production of U-232 which is extremely radioactive and very dangerous in small quantities. The inhalation of a unit of radioactivity of thorium-232 or thorium-228 produces a far higher dose than the inhalation of uranium containing the same amount of radioactivity. A single particle in the lung would exceed legal radiation standards for the general public.
  • Fabricating “thorium fuel” is expensive. The thorium fuel cycle would be more expensive than the uranium fuel cycle. Using a traditional light-water (once-through) reactor, thorium fuel would need both uranium enrichment (or plutonium separation) and thorium target rod production. Using a breeder reactor makes costly reprocessing necessary.
The bottom line is this.Thorium reactors still produce high-level radioactive waste. They still pose problems and opportunities for the proliferation of nuclear weapons. They still present opportunities for catastrophic accident scenarios–as potential targets of terrorist or military attack, for example. Proponents of thorium reactors argue that all of these risks are somewhat reduced in comparison with the conventional plutonium breeder concept. Whether this is true or not, the fundamental problems associated with nuclear power have by no means been eliminated.

May 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s uncertain politics mean that Renewable Energy Target is in doubt

Renewable energy target in doubt as $10b investment needed The Age, , Energy Reporter , 2 May 16,Fresh doubts have been raised about the country’s ability to meet the 2020 renewable energy target after a new analysis found that $10 billion of extra investment is needed in a market where lenders are wary because of changing regulations.

In research to be released on Monday, BIS Shrapnel has determined it is “highly doubtful” the 2020 target of 33,000 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy output can be achieved given the stalling of investment over the past few years that means a huge catch-up effort is required. It expects the goal may only be reached one or two years late.

Some 4850 megawatts of wind farms and solar power plants need to be installed to meet the deadline, with most expected to be built in NSW, Queensland and Victoria, the research firm found. It calculates that though $340 million of investment has been committed to new projects, another $10 billion is needed.

The findings come as the Clean Energy Council is calling for an increase and extension to the 2020 target as part of a package of measures proposed to end greenhouse emissions from the electricity sector by 2050, as required if climate change is to be limited to less than 2 degrees C.

In a document called Power Shift, also released on Monday, the council proposes measures to ensure the “orderly” closure of heavy-emitting coal plants, which chief executive Kane Thornton said were “more at home in the Eastern Bloc” than in Australia.

“As these plants phase out, Australia can take advantage of our world-class sun, wind, waves and bio-energy that will deliver the lowest-cost form of new electricity generation,” Mr Thornton said. The document says regulated emissions limits or emissions trading could be used to drive plant closures.

On the renewable energy target, which peaks at 2020 and then continues flat until 2030, the council is pushing for an extension of the system to 2035 to provide the certainty required for investment…….

May 2, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

The impacts of climate change are here

Jeff Masters: Food system shock: climate change’s greatest threat to civilization.
The greatest threat of climate change to civilization over the next 40 years is likely to be climate change-amplified extreme droughts and floods hitting multiple major global grain-producing “breadbaskets” simultaneously. &

India heatwave: Train keeps city alive as cricket matches cancelled, farmers and animals suffer

In India, 330 million people across 10 states are in the grip of a crippling drought and heatwave.

Supplies are so depleted in one city that it is entirely reliant on drinking water delivered daily by train.


May 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment