Australian news, and some related international items

Can citizen’s juries make decision on Australia importing global nuclear wastes?

Citizen’s council to steer SA nuclear waste decision MEREDITH BOOTH THE AUSTRALIAN MAY 11, 2016 

A system used to decide “tricky policy issues” such as how South Australians manage unwanted dogs and cats will be set up to decide the state’s nuclear future.

Labor Premier Jay Weatherill said a citizen’s jury of 50, chosen from 25,000 “everyday South Australians’’ in a similar way to how a jury is chosen for a criminal trial, will be formed next month to pose key questions raised by the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission into the state’s further involvement in the nuclear industry.

A second jury of 350 would seek community feedback and report to the government by September, before a decision on a dump is made by November. Including an advertising campaign, the process would cost $1 million, Mr Weatherill said…..

citizen jury

The Premier said it would be impossible to proceed with recommendations, which included expanding uranium mining and considering nuclear power, without strong community support. “This is going nowhere if it is going to be the subject of political controversy,” he said……

“No serious investor will co-operate with us, no international partner will want to be part of entering into what is a long-term, extraordinarily expensive set of investments if they don’t think the community is going to be able to deliver on them.

“This is a test of our democracy. Can we have a mature and reasoned debate about this issue and come up with a wise judgment,“ he said.

The government has recently used citizen juries on issues of dog and cat management and cycling laws, saying it develops independent views not dominated by lobbyists and activists.

But the nuclear question was “clearly a very significant decision to entrust to this process,’’ said University of Adelaide political analyst Clement Macintyre.

“It means that the decision is arms’ length from the government, and potentially politically safer for them,’’ he said.

Mr Weatherill’s openness to a nuclear dump has clashed with Labor’s national platform, which is strongly opposed to the importation and storage of nuclear waste. However, he said political consensus had to be achieved at state level before taking the question nationally.

May 11, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Long haul for South Australia nuclear waste dump project, and serious risks

Australians face big decision on nuclear waste dump,  MAY 10, 2016 ….. ” it’s not going to be an overnight fix for the state’s budget problems. A permanent facility would take 28 years to build, and this construction could only start once local residents were on board. The commissioner has suggested it could take 10 years to get this approval.

Even if an interim facility was built to take used fuel while the permanent version was under construction, this would still only be operational 11 years after a decision on the project was made.

hurdles toff


Used nuclear fuel, stored as a solid ceramic in metal cladding, generates heat and is highly radioactive and dangerous.

According to the commission, radiation levels reduce quickly during the first 30 to 50 years of storage and the most radioactive elements decay within 500 years. But less radioactive elements in nuclear fuel do require storage and isolation for at least 100,000 years.

The commission noted that the most serious consequences of disturbing nuclear fuel were linked to potential exposure to radiation.

And certainly nothing focuses the mind like considering the wasteland of Chernobylor Fukushima………

the difficulty of disposing of nuclear waste, even low-level waste, which needs be stored for up to a few hundred years, have been illustrated in the US and France.

America’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) was compromised when a drum of radioactive waste burst open in the underground facility. Most disturbingly, the rupture was blamed on someone putting the wrong type of kitty litter in the drum, possibly due to a typo in a policy manual.


Conservationists have accused the commissioner of downplaying the risks of nuclear storage and have threatened to ramp up their campaign against the dump.

“We’ll be increasing our profile, our presence and our concerns,” Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney told AAP……..

Invitations will be sent this week to 25,000 people seeking an expression of interest in being part of a 400-person jury that will consider the state’s approach…….

Treasurer Scott Morrison said the Federal Government would work constructively with SA to address any issues arising out of the Royal Commission…….

May 11, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Cameco uranium plan faces rocky road

logo WANFA , 11 May 16 Traditional Owners from the regions around the proposed Yeelirrie and Kintyre uranium operations in WA have today sent Cameco shareholders and stakeholders a clear message of opposition to any mining plans. The groups have released a joint statement to coincide with Cameco’s Annual General Meeting being held in Saskatoon, Canada.

Both communities have a long history of opposition to uranium mining plans at Yeelirrie and Kintyre, dating back to early uranium exploration in WA during the 1980’s. Both communities have also attracted the support of environment, social justice, union and health organisations and the state Labor and state and federal Greens parties in their fight against uranium mining.

“You can’t reverse what the old people have said before. We’re going to stop it” said Desmond Taylor, Karlamilyi Traditional Owner. “This is my spiritual birthplace, my dreaming place. Warturarra (the proposed Kintyre mine site) became my spiritual home; the bush food there became my totem. To mine there would take away my spirit and the totem, it will destroy the living things around it, that place would become empty.”

The joint statement is going to the Cameco Board, shareholders and major Canadian investors. It conveys the depth of the contest that company will face should it seek to advance uranium mining.

“Our country is special to us” said Kado Muir, a Yeelirrie Traditional Owner and Senate candidate for the National Party. “I’m not anti-mining I am speaking as a Traditional Owner communicating our view that Cameco and uranium mining are not welcome on our country. Uranium is different to other mining, because the risks remain for thousands of years. It is our responsibility to look after the land for future generations. We will continue to challenge the proposal to mine uranium at Yeelirrie.”

Members of the Parnngurr and Martu community will be walking from through the Karlamilyi National Park to the proposed uranium mine at Kintyre from the 4th – 12th of June in protest to Cameco and Mitsubishi’s uranium mine plans. See community interviews here.

The Walkatjurra Rangers and Yeelirrie Traditional Owners will also be walking in protest to the Yeelirrie uranium mine from the 7th of August – 7th September. This will be the sixth annual walk against uranium mining in the region. See community interviews here.

May 11, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

#NuclearCommissionSAust bizarre attack on renewable energy

renewable-blinkers-onIn its final report, the commission draws from the usual nuclear play-book on renewables: that wind and solar can’t do the job, that other renewable energy technologies are untested, and that renewables will require expensive and additional back-up power.

So far, South Australia has got to 50 per cent wind and solar without the need for any additional back-up power. Indeed, there is still surplus capacity.

Royal Commission wants rules changed on nuclear power in Parkinson-Report-Australia  By  on 10 May 2016 The Royal Commission on the Nuclear Fuel Cycle has concluded that nuclear power generation is not a commercially viable option for Australia, and won’t be until the 2030s – if at all, but it still wants governments to repeal laws that ban nuclear generation.

The main findings of the Royal Commission centred around the creation of a nuclear waste dump, despite widespread criticism of the move. That recommendation will be reviewed by the South Australia government over the course of the year.

But on the same day that the last coal-fired power generator in the state was closed down, the commission has also argued the case for nuclear, saying it “might” be needed post 2030.

The Royal Commission seems to accept that nuclear power is not just too expensive, but too big to fit into the South Australia market, and it would be too risky for the state to build “new generation” technology, such as the “generation IV” reactors often promoted in nuclear circles.

Yet, further into the report, it expresses support for small modular reactors, despite the fact that this technology will likely be even more expensive, due to reduced economies of scale, and forms part of the “new generation” technologies because the first of its kind are not likely to appear within the next decade.

The commission gives some bizarre interpretations in the state of the market, Continue reading

May 11, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

UN says that Britain failed to consult Europe over Hinkley nuclear plan risks

text Hinkley cancelledHinkley Point: UN says UK failed to consult over risks  UN Economic and Social Council says Britain has not met its obligations to discuss the impact of nuclear accident with neighbouring countries , Guardian, 9 May  16  The British government has run into a major new problem with the Hinkley Point C nuclear project, with a United Nations committee ruling that the UK failed to consult European countries properly over potential environmental risks.

Documents seen by the Guardian show Britain “is in non-compliance with its obligations” (page 21) to discuss the possible impact of any accident or other event that could affect those nations in proximity to Hinkley.

This is just the latest in a string of problems connected with the planned £18bn project to construct new reactors in Somerset, with the developer EDF of Francerecently delaying a final investment decision until September.

Paul Dorfman, a senior researcher at UCL’s energy institute, said the ruling from the UN Economic and Social Council throws great uncertainty over Hinkley.

“This is a huge blow to the government and introduces a whole new element of doubt over the scheme. It is hard to see how EDF can sign off any final investment decision whilst the government has yet to resolve this important issue.”…..

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Paragraphs in the Royal Commission report that deserve scrutiny

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINMichelle Drummond, South Australia, 11 May 16 After reading the summary of the report I wanted to highlight a couple of points that I see as being important, and worth consideration.  Firstly it seems obvious to me that the dump is actually the wedge to introduce the rest of the Nuclear industry into Australia.

It is interesting that the opening statement highlights that being involved in Nuclear activities brings environmental, social, financial and safety risks.

In the next paragraph they talk about the 120 year life span of the project and ignore that there is still another 99,880 years to maintain the safety of the dump.

In paragraph 3 it is firmly stated there needs to be agreement by the South Australian Community (Citizens Jury now offered as the method for reaching agreement I have found that it is open to abuse, unless everyone is well informed across the topic.)

Paragraph 6 states that the government needs to pursue simplification of both state and federal legislation in regards to uranium mining.

Paragraph 8 is all about expanding mining, and exploration and removing barriers. At the end of this paragraph it was pleasing to see the idea that mining companies should be held financially responsible for remediation and decommission.

Paragraph 11 discusses the removal of legislation so that Australia could reprocess waste as well as storing it.

Paragraph 13 states that Nuclear power should not be discounted based on safety.

May 11, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

The dangers of high powered guns near nuclear facilities

nuclear-target-chainBigger guns, bigger problems? How high-powered ammunition could affect nuclear power plants May 9, 2016 By TERI SFORZA / STAFF WRITER, Orange County Register,   Shortly after the horrors of 9/11, a curious package landed on Dave Lochbaum’s desk.

It was flat but heavy. Inside the bubble pack was a battered steel plate, blasted with dents and holes from semiautomatic weapons fire. Each pockmark and perforation was carefully labeled – by hand, in permanent ink – with the type of ammunition used to produce it.

Security forces at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and nuclear plants nationwide had increased their firepower to take on a more formidable terrorist threat. The steel plate, sent by a San Onofre security manager, graphically illustrated what Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer, considered a potentially devastating, increased risk:

More powerful ammunition meant to protect nuclear reactors was capable of piercing control panels and critical piping.

The concern doesn’t appear to have been publicly disclosed at the time, but it resurfaced recently after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allowed nuclear security forces to override state and local gun control laws and possess high-powered weaponry that would otherwise be banned. Continue reading

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Greenpeace Australia Pacific online campaign: Stop the Government from silencing us

sign-thisThe government has just released the report of its inquiry into nature group’s charity status. The Government’s report proposes to make the tax concession on your donation dependant on us spending less of our time advocating for the environment. They also want to distract us from our real work of fighting for the climate and the reef by tying us down with audits and inquiries.

Send a message now to our political party leaders and let them know that they need to reject this report and stand up to the fossil fuel industry once and for all.

Send your message here:

May 11, 2016 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

New report attacking environmental groups must be resisted

Green groups are united in calling for the PM and Minister Hunt to reject the report and a number of its recommendations. Any administrative changes to the Register of Environmental Organisations done before the federal election would confirm that the Inquiry was all about politics and not about good management of environmental groups.

civil-liberty-2smMalcolm Turnbull must reject anti-democratic attack on environmental groups, Independent Australia,  Cam Walker 9 May 2016,  Will Malcolm Turnbull follow Tony Abbott’s witch-hunt on environmental groups, which will see them lose charitable status for “civil disobedience”?

THE DISPROPORTIONATE influence of the fossil fuel and mining sectors over federal government policy is both well documented and long standing.

With the rise of the far right neo-liberal Abbott Government, the agenda of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) also became more influential after several years of being on the “outer” while the ALP was in power.

The IPA is well known for arguing against the environment movement and has campaigned against specific environmental policies like thecarbon tax.

Being fundamentally opposed to mainstream scientific positions on climate change and the work of the environment movement, the IPA has argued for the government to reconsider all funding which is provided to the environment movement.

This convergence of views – conservative MPs, right wing think tanks and influence by the fossil fuel sector – has led to a sustained attack on the environment movement in recent years.

One key aspect of this attack has been the House of Representatives Inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations. After narrative in the media and, we have to assume, lobbying by many in the mining and fossil fuel sectors, Minister for the Enviroment Greg Hunt initiated the Inquiry into the tax status of green groups. It was widely seen as being politically motivated. Continue reading

May 11, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Clean energy leadership from Australian Capital Territory

nuke fighterWhile the Canberra-based wing of the fossil fuel industry – their lobbyists and political supporters – try to scare us into thinking the transition to 100 per cent renewables will be a disaster, the ACT government is just getting on with it, and the benefits of doing so, directly and through the impact of its leadership on others, will flow for decades to come.

Canberra leads the country on clean energy  Based on recent history, it’s anyone’s guess who the Australian prime minister will be in four years. But in 2020, whoever is in The Lodge and Parliament House, those buildings will be powered 100 per cent by renewable energy, based on new ACT government policy.

The ACT is well known as a leader on a range of social issues and more recently on climate change. It already has set ambitious climate targets, early support for battery storage and plans for fossil fuel divestment. This week the ACT government announced it will move even faster, replacing coal with clean energy in just four years.

As the national climate debate heads back into yet another scare-campaign death spiral, the ACT government and others are showing that ambition is not just necessary but feasible, economically and politically.

Although national policy uncertainty and reluctant energy companies have led to large-scale renewables investment plummeting in recent years, the ACT is driving wind and large solar through its innovative reverse auction process. In fact, the ACT is behind nearly all of what is being built. The low prices attracted and the strong local support for renewables are impelling the government to go further. Continue reading

May 11, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

A South Korean plea to close down nuclear power


flag-S-KoreaPlease leave without a trace,

By Kim Sun-ae
The nights in cities are too bright. When I recently passed by a shopping arcade at night, the lights of each building were blinding. I couldn’t help thinking of how that electricity was made and where it comes from.

Korea produces about 70 percent of its total electricity through thermal power generation, and about 30 percent through nuclear power generation. Nuclear power has emerged as a big social issue since the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. The nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima, and other places have shown that nuclear power stations are not safe.

Just as all the old nuclear power plants in Fukushima exploded, decrepit power stations have a higher risk of accidents. Therefore, nuclear power plants that reach the end of their lifespan must be closed. Also, new nuclear power stations should not be built.

With this, the government needs to actively support the development of renewable energy including solar power generation. Korea can make electricity with its abundant solar energy. Continue reading

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anti-coal protest at Newcastle – 66 charged by police

66 charged at Newcastle anti-coal protest May 8, 2016 SMH, Tim Connell Sixty-six people were charged by police on Sunday after they took part in a climate change protest at Newcastle’s coal harbour.

About 1500 joined the demonstration, part of a global day of protests about fossil fuel use.

About 200 took to the water in kayaks and canoes, to impede access to the port, while 57 were arrested for blocking a rail line to the coal loader……. A spokesman from environmental activist group said climate change was an important issue to raise as the country prepared for the election on July 2.

“On a day when the election [was] called, it’s sending a signal to our elected leaders,” spokesman Campbell Klose said.

Despite the arrests, the protests were mainly peaceful, Mr Klose said……

May 11, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste import plan – a tough test for democracy

Nuclear lobby on Aust govtDaniel Wills: Once the gabfests of two citizens’ juries is over, a tough political call remains on storing high-level nuclear waste in SA May 10, 2016 Daniel WillsState Political Editor The Advertiser

VOTERS consistently call for bold political leadership, but revolt when blindsided with big and difficult decisions. By convening a citizens’ jury to determine future policy on a nuclear waste dump, Labor is trying to both test and cajole public opinion…………

The SA Royal Commission recommendation for the state to pursue a high-level international nuclear waste storage facility is almost the biggest test a democracy can imagine.

It will have irreversible impacts that will last for as long as people live on this patch of dirt.

The waste will have to be stored for 100,000 years. The pyramids are just 4500 years old. White settlement came to SA only 180 years ago. Countless generations will deal with the fallout……

May 11, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment