Australian news, and some related international items

Dr Andrew Allison challenges The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s reckless Tentative Findings

exclamation-The proposal is that we should accept waste before the repository has been completely built and tested. This proposal is so reckless, as to be negligent. We would face the very real risk of being left with high-level nuclear waste, and no technology to properly handle it.
The plan [outlined in The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s Tentative Findings] seems extraordinary. It is proposed that we should give ourselves a waste problem in the hope that we, unlike everyone else, could solve it – like a person who takes up smoking just to prove they can quit.

submission goodResponse to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s Tentative Findings By Dr Andrew Allison, B.Sc. B.Eng. PhD. (Elec. Eng.) 17 March 2016

INTRODUCTION One of the Key Tentative Findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission is that: “The storage and disposal of used nuclear fuel in South Australia is likely to deliver substantial economic benefits to the South Australian community. An integrated storage and disposal facility would be commercially viable and the storage facility could be operational in the late 2020s.” [1]
I argue that this finding is open to challenge on technical, and economic grounds. I point out that no country has yet successfully operated a permanent high-level nuclear waste storage facility, without incident, for any substantial length of time. This includes technologically advanced nuclear nations, such as the USA, and Russia. These countries have been generating nuclear waste for over fifty years and yet they have still not solved the waste storage problem. It is stretching credibility to the limit to imagine that a non-nuclear country, like Australia, could succeed where the USA and Russia have failed.
No country has ever operated a high-level nuclear waste storage facility, as a commercial enterprise. It is doubtful that anybody ever will, because the service is impossible to price. No markets exist for this type of service. …….

Continue reading

May 4, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May | Leave a comment

Flinders Aboriginal elders strong in their fight against nuclear waste dumping on their sacred lands

heartland-2Dumped-on Elders down but not despairing, Eureka Street Michele Madigan |  02 May 2016 “……..Outlining the numerous times that the Traditional Owners had asked the State Minister for the Environment and the Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg to visit the site, she [Enice Marsh, Adnymathanha Elder/Traditional Owner for the Flinders Ranges area of SA.] could only conclude, ‘But all this has come to no avail — it’s all been totally ignored.’

On Friday Frydenberg managed to have it both ways, in what seems to be a now fashionable way to go about such announcements. ‘There is no final decision.’ And yet, there is only one site remaining from what was a ‘self selection’ offer by the original 28 property owners and the shortlisted six.

Frydenberg described the selection process to date as ‘rigorous’. However, as the follow up process will now include ‘technological, safety and environmental assessment’, an obvious question remains about just how ‘rigorous’ it could really have been.

In a repeat of the one of the Kimba owners’ comments some months back, Chapman seems to be quite ill-informed regarding what will actually be deposited on the property, quoting the usual presenting argument used in the former SA campaign of 1998-2004: that the dump will be for medical low-level waste from various hospitals and universities around the country.

No mention as usual that there is no need for this to be stored long term in the first place. No mention of the intermediate level radioactive spent fuel rods which arrived back from France in December, and are presently housed at Lucas Heights. One wonders when such news will be broken to the property owners and the Hawker community.

In contrast, the Adnyamathanha neighbours and other Traditional Owners are completely aware of this and decry the flawed, seemingly unscientific process where one person can offer their land with absolutely no consultation to the neighbours.

Their own Indigenous Protected Area expert research and eyewitness knowledge cites that as well as being a site replete with ‘countless thousands of Aboriginal artifacts and registered cultural heritage sites’, ‘There are frequent yarta ngurra-ngurrandha (earthquakes and tremors). We see the ground move and the hills move; we feel the land move. At least half a dozen times each year.

‘It is flood land. The water comes from the hills and floods the plains, including the proposed dump site. Sometimes there are massive floods, the last one on 20 January 2006.’

In stark contrast to the previous national dump campaign of 1998-2004 which was opposed by the state government, it seems that this time no member of the SA government has come to the defence of the extraordinary Flinders Ranges, a focal point for the tourism industry of South Australia. Wilpena is a famous tourist site of great beauty and heritage, popular with both national and international tourists.

Indeed the SA community next Friday will hear the royal commission’s final recommendation to import high-level radioactive waste into our seemingly politically disposable state — disposable, now, even to our own politicians…….

despair is a temptation but there is also ‘the distressing matter of indifference. Indifference can be lethal.’ And what pain it gives to those like Enice Marsh who care.

But still there is resilience, and still there is hope. Not only are the Adnyamathanha determined to fight on, the five other communities that are now off the shortlist have pledged their solidarity in a continuing fight against ‘this flawed process’.

Who knows the power of such leadership to break the bonds of our own indifference and despair.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, South Australia | Leave a comment

No thought of nuclear upgrade for submarines, says Prime Minister Turnbull

Turnbull liarPossibility of nuclear upgrade held no sway in subs decision: PM, THE AUSTRALIAN MAY 3, 2016  Brendan Nicholson  Malcolm Turnbull has strongly rejected claims his government picked the French submarine so the navy could more easily swap to nuclear powered boats in the future……….

“It is great news for Australia, great news for France and everyone has something to win in this partnership,” Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister  said. “It is a great adventure that starts for our two countries at every level. We are very grateful for the decision taken by Australia.”

Mr Turnbull said the sub­marines would be the best.

“This is a great national enterprise and it will drive our economic plan for jobs and growth.”

May 4, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Britain’s massive boondoggle- Hinkley nuclear project one of the costliest things on Earth

Hinkley costs

UK’s proposed nuclear plant is one of the costliest things on Earth proposed Hinkley Point C reactor could cost $35 billion. Jon Fingas , @jonfingas 05.02.16 Nuclear power has been around for decades, but it still isn’t cheap… in fact, it may result in one of the most expensive objects on the planet. Cost estimates for the UK’s proposed Hinkley Point C reactor have crept up to £24 billion (about $35 billion), making even some of humanity’s more ambitious construction projects seem like small potatoes. The Large Hadron Collider cost “just” $5.8 billion to build, the BBC notes. About the only thing that rivals Hinkley on Earth is Chevron’s recently completed $54 billion natural gas plant in Australia. If you’re not picky, the International Space Station’s collective modules top everything at a total of $110 billion.

As for why it would be so absurdly pricey? Greenwich University professor Steve Thomas says it’s due to not just the inherent complexity of nuclear power, but the safety concerns. Tragedies like Chernobyl and Fukushimahave made it clear that disasters are far more costly than getting it right the first time.

Not that this is going to assuage critics of the plant, which has spent several years on ice. Greenpeace contends that it’s not just audacious in an era of budget cuts, but that the money could be better-spent on renewable energy sources like solar and wind farms. And it’s not just because they’re safer, either. They’d likely be finished much sooner, Greenpeace claims, and falling renewable energy prices could make these options more affordable. There’s no certainty that the government will listen to calls for change, but it’s clear that Hinkley Point C is the product of an era when nuclear tech still seemed like the most cost-effective way of powering the population.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Royal Commission’s advisor AREVA admits to ‘400 irregularities’ in nuclear power plant parts!

AREVA-Medusa1France’s nuclear giant Areva admits to ‘400 irregularities’ in nuclear power plant parts, with 50 still in operation, Telegraph, UK,   Henry Samuel, Paris 3 MAY 2016 
France’s ailing nuclear giant, Areva, faced a major scandal on Tuesday after the country’s nuclear watchdog confirmed there have been “irregularities” in 400 parts produced in its reactors since 1965, and that “around 50 are currently in service in France’s nuclear power plant fleet”.

France’s independent Nuclear Safety Authority, ASN, said the “irregularities” were listed in an audit it had ordered from Areva after it detected a “very serious anomaly” in a reactor vessel in the country’s Flamanville EPR nuclear plant, the same model Britain plans to use for two new plants at Hinkley Point.

The fault in the vessel destined to house the plant’s nuclear fuel and confine its radioactivity was detected last year.

“These irregularities consist in incoherencies, modifications or omissions in manufacturing dossiers,” ASN said in a statement.

The revelation came hours after Areva’s director general admitted that 400 documents assessing whether parts of nuclear plants met required standards may have been “falsified”.

The doubts over documents supposed to rubber-stamp the quality of parts destined for new-generation nuclear power reactors will be a cause for serious concern for the British government as it is poised to finalise a controversial, multi-billion pound contract to build reactors at Hinkley Point designed by Areva.

Areva launched an audit late 2015 into anomalies at the Le Creusot Forge site, which  specialises in highly complex moulded parts for new-generation nuclear reactors.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why must we always force nuclear waste onto Aboriginal people?

What we believe is needed now is an independent and deliberative inquiry into long-term isolation and stewardship options for this material, and learning from countries overseas who are dealing with much larger inventories of this material than we are. What have they learned, long term? Isolation and stewardship of this material, rather than simply which outstation we should build the shed on.

The second thing that we believe should happen while that inquiry is underway is to properly containerise, in these 60-year licence caskets, the existing spent fuel and reprocessed material that at the moment is lying at the Lucas Heights facility. We believe that should be properly hardened and containerised, and there should be an audit of the existing collections of dispersed waste, non-reactor isotope investigations so that we are not producing this waste, and a commitment to not take international waste.

We need to respect the voices of the communities who are standing up and saying no.

Ludlam-in-Senate03 May 2016 | Scott Ludlam I rise this evening to speak on the long history of failed plans to locate national radioactive waste dumps here in Australia at multiple sites across South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia and to point out the disturbing consistency with which it is disproportionately Aboriginal land that is targeted, Aboriginal communities who are expected to host the most dangerous categories of industrial waste that this society is capable of producing.

It seems that so little has been learnt since when long ago, in 1991 or 1992, the federal government embarked on a national site selection process to try and work out where the waste from the HIFAR reactor at Sydney’s Lucas Heights should go—more than 30 years after the reactor first went online. It probably came as something of a surprise to the community then that, 30 years after this industrial facility had started operating, there was still no coherent plan for the disposal of its waste products.

And here we are now, in 2016, and you have to ask: what on earth have we learnt in the intervening time? One thing I think we have learnt is that coercive attempts to dump radioactive waste on unwilling communities are doomed to fail. That is not just the experience here in Australia; international experience bears this out as well. And so little has been learnt from a process which, in my view and in the view of some of my colleagues, actually held some promise…..

Whether it be spent fuel, whether it be radioactive waste from the isotope plant at the Lucas Heights complex, whether it be other categories of medical waste—trash, gloves and other items—or whether it be radioactive waste of various categories from mining operations, the question ‘Which outstation should this stuff be dumped on, which Aboriginal community should host this material, at which outback site can we dump this stuff out of sight out of mind?’ is simply wrong. If we start with the wrong question, we inevitably come to the wrong answer……… Continue reading

May 4, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

Montebello nuclear test veterans return to site – no compensation over 60 years later

Montebello atomic test 1952Atomic test veterans back at Montebello Islands as compo bid drags on  Malcolm Quekett – The West Australian on May 4, 2016 “……After returning to HMAS Fremantle, the sailors were tested with the Geiger counter and told they had to decontaminate themselves using a hard brush and soap under the shower.

They stayed under the water for hours and scrubbed. But they were then told they were wasting their time. They were showering under sea water which was itself contaminated.

Mr Whitby said he collapsed soon afterwards and was taken to a naval hospital in Darwin where he stayed for a week, lost one-third of his body weight and developed extreme anxiety and a chronic cough.He was transferred to hospital in Perth for another two weeks. “No one had any knowledge of radiation illness,” he said.

Mr Whitby was eventually discharged from the Navy in 1961, but the problems have followed him to this day. He said he developed skin cancers that had to be removed, and he still had the anxiety and the cough.

His best man, who had gone ashore with him, died at the age of 38 from cancer, and another mate died before turning 40. Wives of men on the ship suffered miscarriages.

After years of struggling to have his case acknowledged by officialdom, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal found in 2012 that he should be paid compensation and have his legal bills met.

Mr Whitby, 76, of East Fremantle, said he was still waiting. A Department of Veterans’ Affairs spokesman said the DVA was “investigating the claims and will be in a position to respond when that investigation is complete”.

Mr Whitby has allies among the other members of the Australian Ex-Services Atomic Survivors Association. Between 1952 and 1957, Britain conducted 12 atomic tests at the Montebellos as well as Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia.

“Minor trials” were also conducted at Emu Field and Maralinga between 1953 and 1963. Next month, members of the association and family members will journey to the Montebellos to place a plaque to mark the 60th anniversary of the last test.Among them are Jim Marlow, 80, of Canning Vale, Rex Kaye, 76, of Melville, and Denis Flowers, 80, of Ferndale, who will all pay their own costs to be part of the expedition.

Mr Marlow was aboard HMAS Karangi near the Montebellos when one of the tests took place. He said the crew assembled on deck and were told to turn their backs just before the explosion, and then turned back again to see the massive cloud build up.

Mr Kaye was a general hand in the Royal Australian Air Force and worked with planes used in the SA tests. He said he was still fighting leukaemia and side effects……..

May 4, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, weapons and war | Leave a comment

End of Kakadu uranium era brings old threats, new challenges and new hope

Ranger 34 May 16 The Australian Conservation Foundation and the Mineral Policy Institute have today welcomed further moves towards the end of the uranium industry in Kakadu and called for confirmation that no underground mining plans will be pursued ahead of Energy Resources of Australia’s (ERA) annual meeting in Darwin today.

Last week ERA confirmed it had finally formalised a A$100 million credit deal with parent company Rio Tinto to provide extra certainty and capacity around rehabilitation of the Ranger mine site. The credit deal, described by ERA as ‘prudent, appropriate and in the best interests of all shareholders,’ is predicated on no further uranium mining at Ranger.

“ERA no longer mines uranium and soon will no longer process uranium at the troubled Ranger site,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney. “This annual meeting is a good time for the company to accept that the uranium production era is over and it is now time for clean-up and repair. ERA should now formally withdraw its Ranger 3 Deep (R3D) application for underground mining at Ranger and instead focus its full efforts on closure, exit and transition”.

All mining and mineral processing at Ranger is required to end by early January 2021 and ERA is obliged to ensure the comprehensive rehabilitation of the mine site and surrounds.

This rehabilitation is required to be of a very high standard – suitable for the former Ranger mine site to be formally included into the surrounding Kakadu World Heritage region. Environment groups will be inside the Darwin meeting and will ask questions of ERA about the future rehabilitation of the site.

“There are massive challenges facing ERA and Rio Tinto at Ranger and they will be long judged by their efforts in the coming years,” said Mineral Policy Institute legacy mines project coordinator Lauren Mellor.

“Ranger has had a troubled and contested history and there is a clear need to now do business differently and better. Many eyes across Australia and around the world are watching ERA and Rio Tinto and this rehabilitation work is a key test of the company’s credibility and responsibility”.

Environment groups will be continuing their efforts to ensure the highest standard rehabilitation and closure work at Ranger and to support the aspirations of the region’s Mirarr Traditional Owners in the transition to a vibrant post mining regional economy.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | business, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

New legal case against Adani coal mine now underway

Activists launch fresh court challenge over Carmichael coalmine  Australian Conservation Foundation argues emissions from coal mined from Adani’s project
will put the Great Barrier Reef at risk by exacerbating climate change’ Michael Slezak | The Guardian Australia 3 May 16:

” … If successful, the case will have ramifications beyond the Carmichael mine or even the Great Barrier Reef. It could have implications for any fossil fuel development, and require the minister to consider the effect of the burned fuel on any world heritage area – like the forests in Tasmania, for example.

“This is the first case of its kind to be heard in Australia,” said O’Shanassy. “The court will be asked to examine a section of Australia’s national environment law that has never before been tested in court. If this case is successful it will strengthen climate change considerations and world heritage protection in Australian law.” The hearing at the federal court in Brisbane is expected to go for two days. Hunt and Adani will be represented.”


Adani Big Coal Case Could Make It Harder To Get Mines Approved ‘A landmark case that could “put a brake on Australia’s fossil fuel exports”  kicked off this morning in the Federal Court, in a precedent-setting bid to invalidate  Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s approval of the largest coal mine the nation would ever see’  Thom Mitchell | New Matilda 3 May 16:

” … Under the United Nations process, the country that burns fossil fuels is responsible for them. Who exported the fossil fuels is considered irrelevant. And that was why Hunt, and all governments to date, largely ignored the damage Australia’s fossil fuels exports do to our environment when making approval

The Australian Conservation Foundation is trying to change that. They’re arguing that irrespective of where the coal is burnt, it will have a serious impact on the Reef, and that this impact will be felt irrespective of how the United Nations framework on climate change works. … “

May 4, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

More research needed into climate change – bushfire links

bushfireSenate inquiry told of need for more research into bushfire-climate change links   May 3, 2016  BLAIR RICHARDS State Political Reporter Mercury CALLS for more research into the links between climate change and bushfires and for greater national firefighting capacity have emerged from a Senate inquiry into the Tasmanian Wilderness fires.

The Senate’s environment and communications reference committee is examining the response to the fires that blazed through more than 20,000ha of the state’s Wilderness World Heritage Area in January and February.

The inquiry has received 24 submissions from stakeholders including scientific and conservation organisations, government agencies and individuals.

Some submissions called for more research into the impact of climate change on fire risk:…….

THE Australian Conservation Foundation said the fires should be a “wake-up call” for Australian governments to act on climate change.

 THE Department of Environment said 20,100ha (1.3 per cent) of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area was affected by fire……..

However, the Tasmanian Government’s submission said the forecast outlook for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area was classified as “normal”.

The Senate committee is due to report by May 30.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Tasmania | Leave a comment

100 % renewable energy: San Diego to become largest US city to achieve this

renewable_energy San Diego to become largest U.S. city to run on 100% renewable energy , Inhabitat, 
by , 3 May 16, 


San Diego is not waiting for Washington to get its act together on climate change. The southern California city is moving forward with an ambitious plan to run on 100% renewable energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035 – and it’s doing so in a bipartisan manner. Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer endorsed the Climate Action Plan that was unanimously approved by the Democrat-dominated city council in December.

Renewables, including solar and wind, would be increased to achieve the target. San Diego alreadyplaces second in the nation for solar power with solar installations growing 76.6 percent in two years to 189 megawatts of installed photovoltaic capacity at the end of 2015.

Related: Vancouver will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy

The plan also includes an initiative to increase the urban tree canopy to 35 percent by 2035 – perhaps even more important than the clean energy and greenhouse gas emissions targets because trees sequester carbon. More climate scientists are recognizing the importance of restoring ecosystems to draw down atmospheric carbon in order to reverse global warming and protect biodiversity. Restoring water cycles, soil, grasslands, wetlands and forests could remove gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere, returning the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels of safety and stability, according to Biodiversity for a Livable Climate………

In going 100 percent renewable, San Diego joins a growing list of cities around the world committing to powering their economies completely with clean energy. They include VancouverSan Francisco, Sydney and Copenhagen.

+ San Diego Climate Action Plan

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Senate Committe calls for delay in CSIRO job cuts, until after the federal election

election Australia 2016CSIRO job cuts should be delayed until after federal election, Senate Committee says  Job cuts at the CSIRO should be delayed until after the federal election, a Senate Select Committee has recommended. ABC News 3 May 16 

In a revision of the original plan to shed 350 positions, the CSIRO wants to cut 275 jobs and set up a new climate research centre in Hobart, creating 40 positions.

A Senate Committee has recommended the Government direct the organisation to stop its proposed restructure in light of an anticipated election in July. It also recommended a suitable independent agency investigate the economic value of CSIRO climate measurement and research.

The Oceans and Atmosphere division was the hardest hit under the plan, facing a loss of 75 positions.Losses elsewhere included 35 from Minerals, about 70 from land and Water, about 30 from Agriculture, 45 from manufacturing and about 20 from Food and Nutrition.

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said in a statement it was clear the value of CSIRO’s climate scientists had been underrated. “What is clear from this entire debacle is that both the Australian Government and the CSIRO management has at no stage placed any value on the work being done by the CSIRO climate scientists,” he said.

“The report makes clear recommendations to halt the restructure process until the election is over. Both the board and the Government have the ability to do this right now.”……..

May 4, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment

Australian Greens unveil 7 point plan for the nation getting off coal and gas

election Australia 2016greensSmGreens climate policy calls for immediate ban on new gas, coal projects  By  on 28 April 2016  The Australian Greens have unveiled a seven-point policy plan to wean the Australian economy and electricity network off coal, including an immediate ban on all new coal and gas projects, a tax on coal exports and a carbon price.

Following on the heels of federal Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan, the Greens’ 7-point plan – released on Thursday – aims to put an “urgent brake” on Australia’s fossil fuel emissions, while also investing in large-scale clean energy.

And it follows the ALP in calling for the reinstatement of a carbon price – although Greens Leader Richard di Natale has already ridiculed Labor’s proposed version, which he told the National Press Club on Wednesday equated to a carbon price of 3c a tonne.

The Coalition, meanwhile, is busy disparaging both, with environment minister Greg Hunt dusting off the party’s tried and tested mantra on ABC Radio National on Thursday, that “the overarching point here is that this is an electricity tax.”

The Greens plan, which would raise revenue by placing a levy on coal exports and “ending tax-free fuel” for mining companies, includes a $1 billion Clean Energy Transition Fund to help workers exit the coal industry.

It would also invest in the health of the Great Barrier Reef, which is already feeling the effects of global warming, with as much as 90 per cent of its coral affected by bleaching. Continue reading

May 4, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment