Australian news, and some related international items

Misleading words like “harmless’ used to deceive us on nuclear wastes

A growing band of critics have looked beyond the adjectives and enthusiasm [from the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission] and presented compelling critiques of the international dump plan.

Comment: ‘Harmless’? The dangerous language around nuclear waste Terms like ‘harmless’ waste are misleading and downplay the seriousness of the problem with nuclear waste, writes Dave Sweeney.

wobbly nuke words

The striking thing about radioactive waste is that it never goes away. Right now decisions and plans around managing this zombie waste are out of the shadows and back in the public eye.

Last week federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg named a possible site for a national radioactive waste facility in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges region – home of the Adnyamathanha people. Meanwhile, the South Australia Royal Commission process is exploring the state hosting between 15-30 per cent of the world’s high level radioactive waste.

The two are separate processes but both clearly share common themes of waste and place – and both require serious public scrutiny. The national plan is for a co-located facility for the permanent burial of low level waste and the above ground storage of higher level waste pending a future management decision in one to three hundred years. So we are making decisions here that would directly impact generations well beyond our own.

It’s important to name and dispel some of the myths surrounding this plan, including that it is only low level or ‘harmless’ waste constituting little more than what Minister Frydenberg has described as ‘gloves and goggles’. This misleading language downplays the seriousness of the problem. Continue reading

May 6, 2016 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Legal battle ahead for The Australian govt’s plan to impose nuclear waste dump on sacred Aboriginal land

justicePlan for Flinders Ranges nuclear waste dump faces legal battle MEREDITH BOOTH, VERITY EDWARDS THE AUSTRALIAN MAY 5, 2016  Environmentalists and trad­itional owners say eight years of legal wrangling, which saw the withdrawal of Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory as a site for a nuclear waste dump, is a precedent for the fight they are prepared to wage against a dump planned in South Australia.Wallerberdina Station, part-owned by former Liberal senator Grant Chapman and adjoining Adnyamathanha sacred sites in the northern Flinders Ranges more than 550km north of Adelaide, has been chosen ahead of five others as the preferred site for a national low-level nuclear waste dump.

The decision was made independently of the state’s ­Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, which hands down its findings tomorrow and is expected to recommend that the state stores high-level radio­active waste from overseas.

Conservation Council of South Australia chief executive Craig Wilkins said he hoped the fight to stop the Wallerberdina dump did not reach court, but he was prepared to support a legal battle. “Muckaty Station was an eight-year campaign. We’re deeply hopeful that we don’t need to do that again,’’ he said yesterday. “Not only is it incredibly sacred country for the Adnyamathanha people, the land is subject to flash flooding and frequent earthquake activity.’’

Elder Regina McKenzie, who lives next to the station, said she was prepared to go to court to prevent a nuclear waste dump being built on burial areas and through a 70km storyline that was particularly sacred to indig­enous women.

“It’s desecration on all fronts, it’s an attack on our ­religion, it’s cultural genocide,” she said. “There are Aboriginal bones that have calcified and turned to stone and what right do they have to move those?”

Tweedle-NuclearThe Greens have slammed Labor and the Liberals for “teaming up” to defeat a ­motion calling on the government to acknow­ledge traditional owners’ oppos­ition to the dump.

Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg said that a final decision had not been made.

May 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Australia’s pro nuclear politicians want to be nuclear industry leaders

nuclear dance troupe  15 1A

Australia has overnight been approved as a member of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), a co‑operative international endeavour, joining 12 other nations and the European Union to work together on long‑term research on advanced nuclear technologies.

The Forum develops Generation IV technology and addresses not only the construction and operation of the next generation of nuclear power reactors, but also considers fuel efficiency, reducing waste production, and meeting stringent standards of safety and proliferation resistance.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne said Australia’s success in gaining membership is based on the landmark research infrastructure and world-class research capabilities and expertise at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to contribute to the GIF’s goals.

“Australia’s invitation to join this important global project marks an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of global innovation in the nuclear industry,” Mr Pyne said…..GIF research is focused on six reactor designs that will deliver safe, secure, sustainable, competitive and versatile nuclear technology…

[Frydenberg]“This forum will help develop the technologies that will be integral to the future of the international nuclear industry.”

May 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

World safety in danger in transporting nuclear wastes by air, or sea

Whether it is transported by sea, or even by air, there is real concern over the potential for an accident or a malicious attack that would put the public at risk.

How many nuclear weapons could be made if such material got into the wrong hands? Why risk global nuclear security by transporting this waste across the Atlantic by air?

We call for this deal to be cancelled forthwith. The waste should be stored on-site at Dounreay and not moved over 6,000 miles away.

Airplane danger

antnuke-relevantUK-US air transports of high enriched uranium: global security at risk for commercial gain, Ecologist Ernie Galsworthy / NFLA 3rd May 2016 Planned air transports of high-enriched uranium from Dounreay in Scotland to the US state of Tennessee would risk of accident or a terrorist seizure of weapon-usable nuclear material.  The motive for the transport appears to be purely commercial – and would thus put the public at needless risk for the sake of a cut-price nuclear waste / fuel deal between US and UK authorities.

There has been a recent flurry of media reports suggesting that a proposed transport of radioactive materials from the Caithness Dounreay site to the United States could be sent by plane. Continue reading

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

Sickening pro nuclear spin from THE AUSTRALIAN today

News-Limited1Here’s an example:

“…..Politically, the need for a central­ised facility has bipart­isan support across multiple levels of government. Socially, the government has moved from suggesting sites to prioritising community consult­ation in all stages of the project, especially site selection. Environmentally, internatio­n­al experience has demonstrated that highly engineered and well-regulated low- and inter­mediate-level repositories can be managed safely with no impact on the community or agricultural industry….” 

May 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Climate change doesn’t get a mention in Turnbull’s budget

Parkinson-Report-Turnbull’s first budget ignores climate change and dumps clean energy: That’s #innovative?, Independent Australia , Giles Parkinson 5 May 2016 So much for Turnbull’s trumpeting of a ‘transitional economy’ with zip $ for climate initiatives and $1.3 billion stripped from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.RenewEconomy‘s Giles Parkinson reports.

CLIMATE CHANGE, prime minister Malcom Turnbull once said, is the ultimate long-term problem that needs to be acted on urgently. But in his first budget as government leader, it is as though the issue does not exist.

Climate change was not even mentioned as a word, or a concept, or even an issue — despite Tuesday’s budget apparently being about growth and jobs for the future. T

here was no new money for climate initiatives and the only mention renewable energy got was to confirm that $1.3 billion in funds would be stripped from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

There was nothing in the speech, not a word,”Professor John Hewson, a former leader of Liberal Party, told the SolarExpo conference in 2016.

“The slogan is jobs and growth. I would have though that one of the most significant sectors for economic and jobs growth is renewables  I am staggered that it didn’t get a mention in the speech or in the documents.”

Hewson said the decision to remove funding from ARENA was an “absolute tragedy.”

In the budget papers, for instance, there is no extra funding for the Direct Action plan that Turnbull once ridiculed and dismissed as a “fig-leaf” for a climate policy and now forms the basis of the government’s emissions reductions plan, including the Paris agreement it signed just a few weeks ago.

Once the government has spent the current $2.5 billion allocation for handouts to polluters to do pretty much what they were doing anyway, there is zero extra funding for emissions abatement.

The Coalition government might have been expected to shift towards a “modified” scheme that would see Direct Action evolve with its safeguards mechanism to become a baseline and credit scheme. But that’s what Labor suggested last week, and rather than accept the tentative offer of a return to a bipartisan approach to climate policies, the government slammed the door.

It slammed the door, too, on renewable energy innovation. The $1.3 billion of unallocated funds for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency remains excised from the budget papers – even though it remains legislated – while $1 billion is transferred from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and rebadged as a new Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

Don’t expect Labor to stand in the way of that initiative. It voted with the Coalition earlier this week against a Greens motion to protect ARENA, and has since blamed NGOs for not standing up to the Coalition move to de-fund ARENA,so it won’t stand up either.

For his part, Australian Solar Council chief John Grimes was taking a stand on the matter, telling the Energy Storage Conference in Melbourne on Wednesday that the federal government had “taken a backwards step” in defunding ARENA, and not making the Agency’s competitive grants available any more……..,8955

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

Fakery probe on France’s nuclear parts for export

keep-it-secretantnuke-relevantUK nuclear parts made at French plant in fakery probe, Telegraph   Emily Gosdenenergy editor 4 MAY 2016 Parts of the Sizewell B nuclear power station in Suffolk were made at a French plant being investigated over possible fake manufacturing records, EDF Energy has confirmed.

EDF said components destined for the proposed Hinkley Point C plant were also made at the Areva-owned Le Creusot plant, where anomalies in documents related to 400 nuclear components have so far been identified.

The revelations come as EDF’s former chief financial officer Thomas Piquemal, broke his silence to explain his fears over the Hinkley project that led to his resignation in March.

Mr Piquemal said he had sought a three-year delay to Hinkley as he was not prepared to “bet 60 to 70pc of [EDF’S] equity on a technology that has not yet proven that it can work and which takes 10 years to build”.

He said the proposed reactor technology involved “major construction risk”.

EDF has already postponed a decision on the £18bn Hinkley project until September as it consults with unions on a plan to shore up its balance sheet, but the problems at the Le Creusot plant have raised further doubts about the project and as well as nuclear safety at existing plants………

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

12 record months one after another in global temperatures

global-warming1April joins parade of record global temperatures, making it 12 months in a row, SMH, May 3, 2016  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald 

It’s the sort of anniversary you don’t want to celebrate.

Early reports indicate that April was another record hot month – by some margin – making it 12 months in a row that have set new high marks for heat.

Eric Holthaus, a US-based meteorologist took to Twitter with an estimate that sea and land-surface temperatures would again top 1 degree compared with the average for 1951-80 period used by NASA.

The previous biggest anomaly for April was recorded in 2010 at 0.83 degrees, implying that last month was easily the warmest ever registered for the month.

If confirmed by major meteorological agencies within coming weeks, the April figures would continue the remarkably warm start to 2016, with each month among a handful over the most abnormally hot months in more than 130 years of global figures.

Australia is also exceptionally warm. During the first four months of 2016, average mean temperatures were 1.28 degrees above the 1961-90 period used by the Bureau of Meteorology for its benchmark.

The previous record to this point of the year was 1.16 degrees in 2005, Blair Trewin, senior bureau climatologist, told Fairfax Media……….

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

Uranium company Cameco cutting back on production due to poor market

burial.uranium-industryantnuke-relevantCameco scales back uranium production, WNN, 22 Apr 16Cameco is suspending production at the Rabbit Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan, curtailing production at its US uranium operations, and reducing production at McArthur River/Key Lake in response to market conditions, the company announced yesterday.

Work to transition the underground Rabbit Lake mine to care and maintenance will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by the end of August. Production at the US in situ leach operations cannot cease immediately because of the nature of the technology, and will instead decrease over time as head grades decline. The development of new wellfields will be deferred.

“Unfortunately, continued depressed market conditions do not support the operating and capital costs needed to sustain production at Rabbit Lake and the US operations,” CEO Tim Gitzel said. “These measures will allow us to continue delivering value to Cameco’s many stakeholders and support the long-term health of our company. We will provide assistance to those affected by these decisions,” he said……

The company will also reduce 2016 production at the McArthur River/Key Lake operation in Saskatchewan to 19 million pounds U3O8 (7308 tU), down from 20 million pounds (7693 tU), in response to a currently oversupplied uranium market…….

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

Australian govt not able to meet its Emissions Reduction goal

Liberal-policy-1Budget 2016: Funding hole may leave Emissions Reduction Fund out of money, think tank says, ABC News, 4 May 16 By environment reporter Sara Phillips The Coalition may be left without a functioning climate policy after no new funding was announced for one its flagship climate policies in last night’s budget, according to a think tank specialising in climate change.

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is the centrepiece of the Direct Action policy and is designed to do the heavy lifting in reducing Australia’s emissions.

After two auctions to purchase emissions reductions from businesses last year, around half its funding was exhausted.

A third auction was held last week, with the results yet to be announced, leading the Climate Institute to speculate that the ERF may now be running low.

“If the next two auctions are anything like the last two then we will run out of money in that Emissions Reduction Fund a bit later this year — well before the next election cycle,” said John Connor, chief executive the Climate Institute. Continue reading

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

Australian Greens plan to subsidise households’ solar batteries

greensSmelection Australia 2016Greens to hand households 50% battery cost Elise Scott – AAP on May 5, 2016 The Australian Greens would spend billions handing back half the cost of battery storage to households to encourage the uptake of renewable energy.

The five-year program would be funded by savings through slashing fossil-fuel tax breaks.

The $2.9 billion plan would allow individuals to claim a 50 per cent refundable tax credit on battery storage for their homes, up to $5000 in the first year.The credit would taper off to $1500 by 2021 which the Greens say reflects the projected decline in battery storage costs.

The minor party will on Thursday reveal the policy, which also includes a grant scheme for low income households.”Our battery storage plan will help people power up their home and power down their bills,” Greens leader Richard Di Natale said.

Business would be able claim depreciation on the battery storage asset over an accelerated period of three years.

Batteries enable simpler storage of renewable energy, which otherwise needs to be consumed as it is generated. New technologies are emerging, however battery storage remains relatively expensive for households and business.

Parliamentary Budget Office costings obtained by the Greens showed $2.85 billion would be needed over the forward estimates for the household policy.

The business incentives would cost an additional $38 million. The Greens said it would be funded through by savings, including $2.75 billion from removing accelerated depreciation from fossil fuel intensive industries.

May 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, election 2016 | Leave a comment

Germany to end coal power well before 2050

logo-EnergiewendeGermany to exit coal power ‘well before 2050’ : draft document, Reuters 4 May 16 BERLIN | BY MARKUS WACKET Coal-fired power production in Germany should come to an end “well before 2050”, according to a draft environment ministry document seen by Reuters on Tuesday on how Europe’s biggest economy can achieve its climate goals.

Calls have grown for Berlin to set out a timetable to withdraw from coal in power production, after global leaders clinched a climate-protection deal in Paris last December to transform the world’s fossil-fuel driven economy.

The government is due to decide on a national climate action plan for 2050 by mid-2016 which will lay out how it plans to move away from fossil fuels and achieve its goal of cutting CO2 emissions by up to 95 percent compared to 1990 levels by the middle of the century…….

Germany generated more than a quarter of its electricity from renewable sources – such as wind and solar power – in 2014. The document said the amount of energy produced by green sources should increase by around 75 percent by 2030.

Support for research into energy-storage technologies should be doubled over the next 10 years, the paper says.

The government will also push for a stricter European emissions trading system and is considering whether an additional levy on petrol, heating oil and gas would increase demand for green technologies.

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

Origin Energy to buy whole output from new Queensland solar farm

solar-farmingOrigin Energy signs up for output from new Queensland solar farm, The Age, May 4, 2016   Energy Reporter A 13-year deal signed by Origin Energy to buy all the electricity produced at a new 100 megawatt solar project in north Queensland has accelerated the recovery of the renewable energy sector after a stalling in new investment over the past two years.

The contract, which will have Origin buy both the output and the renewable energy certificates generated by the Clare Solar Farm, also underscores how large-scale solar is improving in competitiveness, catching up with wind power…….

The Clare project will be built by Spanish company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures at a site 35 kilometres west of Ayr. Production is due to start next year and Origin will buy all of the output until 2030.

The deal follows Origin’s commitment in March to buy the output of FRV’s 56MW Moree solar farm, a project that is already in production in northern NSW. It has also applied for government funding for its own solar project in south-east Queensland.

Origin is one of the biggest liable parties under the RET regulations, which requires it to buy an increasing proportion of renewable energy for its electricity retailing activities. The deal with FRV for the Clare output will take Origin’s portfolio of renewable energy generation and purchase contracts to more than 700MW.

Origin’s head of energy markets Frank Calabria said the cost of solar “is falling rapidly compared with other renewable resources”.

“Now is the ideal time to invest in solar and we have been actively looking for opportunities to diversify and add more renewable energy to our portfolio,” Mr Calabria said.

For FRV, the contract with Origin kicks off a third new investment in Australia, after the Royalla solar project in the ACT and the Moree venture.

May 6, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment