Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear Citizens’ Jury – dubious process, and very dubious purpose

Citizens' Jury scrutinyIt’s not a proper “Jury”, with a purpose to arrive at a yes or no verdict. It is a campaign ruse by the Weatherill government to get these “ordinary people” to develop a readable, understandable, summary of the RC’s 320 pages of recommendations. Apparently the RC personnel are not able to do this themselves.

Two rays of light in all this. First, the jury members are already asking intelligent questions. Secondly, DemocracyCo’s personnel are making every effort to run these hearings fairly, and transparently.

The South Australian nuclear lobby may be in for some surprises.

Nuclear Citizens Jury in action: the purpose and the process, Online Opinion, 

By Noel Wauchope – , 5 July 2016 On June 25 and 26, the South Australian government held the first of three citizens juries, dedicated to discussing the recommendations of the recent Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission. The sessions are being run by the South Australian company DemocracyCo.From the start, there are problems with the purpose of this Citizens’ Jury. Premier Weatherill did not really help to clarify this, in his opening speech, as he explained its purpose:

It is not to arrive at a decision, but to arrive at a decision that the government can make a decision.

The initial company charged with setting up the jury plan was the Sydney company New Democracy. They used the term “Citizens Jury” which is trademarked by the Jefferson Institute. Here’s where the trouble starts. The Jefferson Institute, in inits definition of Citizens’ Jury  clearly states:

The Citizens Jury convenes diverse groups of citizens to study an issue deeply, discuss different perspectives on the issue, and recommend a course of action or craft their own solutions to address the issue at hand.

The Citizens Jury process has been used in several countries, and was used Adelaide in 2015. On that occasion, the Citizens’ jury recommended the mandatory desexing of cats and dogs. All of these Citizens’ Juries made a decision and a recommendation, in keeping with that trademarked definition. To my knowledge, this Nuclear Citizens’ Jury is the first in the world to abandon that principle of making a decision, verdict, or recommendation. Instead, it is charged with the job of developing a readable, understandable, summary of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s 320 pages of recommendations.

How did New Democracy come to this decision to abandon an intrinsic purpose of a Citizens’ Jury? One can only surmise that this was done under pressure from the South Australian Labor government and the Royal Commission?

No wonder that Premier Weatherill floundered a bit in his introduction at the jury opening……..

DemocracyCo have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that the hearings are transparent and accessible to all. They provide videos, at and at and will be providing transcripts. Watching these videos, it is clear that DemocracyCo’s facilitators are endeavouring to manage the hearings in a fair way, courteously giving space for jury members to question the speakers.

Even so, the process is fraught with difficulties. Following Premier Weatherill’s introduction, the first session  introduced members of the Royal Commission team. They outlined the Royal Commission’s steps and recommendations. I got the impression that they were keen to have the Royal Commission strongly influencing the process. Questions from the jury members were at times answered in a vague way.

If this were a real legal jury, speakers could not get away with waffly answers……… Continue reading

July 6, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, politics, South Australia, spinbuster | 1 Comment

The Lizard Bites Back goes North

Buzzacott,-Kevin Nectaria Calan 6 July Arabunna elder Uncle Kevin Buzzacott has invited participants at the Lizard Bites Back to visit his country today, to witness firsthand the impacts of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine on the mound springs in the Lake Eyre region.  The mound springs are integral to the desert ecosystem and sacred to the Arabunna people, and are threatened by the 37 million litres of water per day that the mine uses from the Great Artesian Basin, which feeds the mound springs.

The Lizard Bites Back has attracted over 300 people from around the country, converging near the mine gates for a weekend of direct action, workshops on nuclear issues, and music.  After two days of workshops and marches to the gates of the mine, the last day of the convergence saw nearly one hundred activists block the main road to the mine for eighteen hours.  Riot police were sent in at midnight.  On their way, riot police approached base camp, in what appeared to be a simulated raid.

“They approached camp in formation at midnight, shouting at people to get out of their tents,” said Nectaria Calan, co-organiser of the Lizard Bites Back. “Then, for no apparent reason, they retreated.  Trying to terrorise people at a non-violent protest camp was a low move, but in line with the police’s behaviour all weekend,” continued Ms Calan. “They have spent the weekend defecting cars and trying to deter people from attending the event by telling them that the public land we are camped on is owned by BHP Billiton. They have also prevented mine workers from visiting the camp.  Although they have been lodged for the weekend by the company’s accommodation, they should remember that they do not actually work for BHP.”

“Despite the petty dishonesty of the police and the ongoing abuse of their powers, hundreds of people had the opportunity to sit on country and learn about the risks and impact of the nuclear industry, and disrupt the normal operations of a mine that will leave millions of tonnes of tailings that will remain radioactive for several hundred thousand years.”

“With South Australia facing two proposals for nuclear waste dumps, The Lizard Bites back has also aimed to raise awareness about the connections between uranium mining and nuclear waste,” said Ms Calan.  “A responsible approach to managing nuclear waste would begin with stopping its production.”

Co-organiser Izzy Brown said, “Until we stop mining this metal that we have no idea how to dispose of safely, we will keep returning to remind BHP Billiton and the government that the intergenerational health and environmental impacts of this industry are more important than money.”

Many participants have called for another convergence next year.

“After this weekend, this is the most optimistic I’ve ever felt since Western Mining Corporation started digging up the old country.  This industry is a house of cards,” said Uncle Kevin.

“This place has a long history of struggle, and we will continue to struggle to honour the sacrifices made by the elders that struggled before us, that may still be with us if this mine was not established. We need to say sorry to the old country and begin healing this land.”


July 6, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

Nuclear Citizens’ Jury kept in the dark about radiation health risks

Citizens' Jury scrutinyConveniently ignored was a significant body of evidence from studies on workers and the public exposed to low levels of radiation that there is no safe level – no threshold below which significant health effects do not occur.

for now there is no systematic structured way that the detail of these concerns can be brought to the attention of the jurors leaving us with the distinct impression that they are, to borrow a phrase, being treated like mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed on bullshit!

Testing the accepted Linear No Threshold (LNT) model for radiation and health 

Citizen’s Jury – weighing evidence or manufacturing consent? Observations from the first sitting day
Following on from the already much criticised recommendation from the Nuclear Industry Royal Commission that South Australia become the site for storage and hopefully disposal of around a third of the world’s nuclear waste, the government has funded a ‘citizens’ jury’ process. In the first stage of this a group of 50 people have been randomly selected as representing a cross section of the public – balanced by age, gender and whether they own or rent their homes – to spend 4 days identifying questions of concern and producing a consensus report on the evidence to be later presented to a large group of around 450 citizens for further consideration.

Let us for a moment leave aside the concern about the way the naming of this process as a ‘jury’ is so obviously a myth – divorced from anything that resembles a balanced legal process where evidence is weighed by a group of citizens in the context where a case for and against is presented to them in the presence of an impartial judge who ensures that the process is fair and balanced. Let us focus on one of the all-prevailing concepts of trial by jury: where people giving evidence commit to telling the truth – the whole of it and nothing but. On this simple basic requirement, the process of the citizens’ jury leaves much to be desired.

As part of a small group I was permitted to observe the first two sessions of the first day of this ‘jury’ process dominated by three representatives of the Royal Commission presenting the main recommendations contained in the 320 page report released in May 2016. I left deeply concerned that the jury were, if not being directly lied to, being given something far short of the whole truth. Let me give just three examples. Continue reading

July 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, South Australia | Leave a comment

Record low prices for uranium

antnuke-relevantUranium spot prices descend beyond decade low
 The descending uranium price has put global producers under pressure. by Tess  Ingram Uranium spot prices are still likely to stage a rapid recovery on the back of improving demand, industry analysts and executives argue, despite a persistent supply glut driving prices to a largely unanticipated 11-year low.


Spot prices for uranium oxide, which is used mainly as fuel for nuclear reactors, crept below $US27 ($36) a pound in June for the first time since mid-2005.

The current levels are lower than when prices were sent spiralling after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  After hitting over $US130 a pound in 2007, prices had stabilised to about $US70 a pound at the beginning of 2011 before Fukushima sent them gradually declining to a low of $US28 a pound in May 2014. Prices increased in 2015 but have since slumped about 21 per cent year-to-date.

Argonaut analyst Matthew Keane said prices had persisted “a lot lower than a lot of people expected” and forecasts for the timing of an anticipated supply deficit needed to improve prices “keep getting kicked along”.

“We just haven’t got the reactors online and even though the Chinese build program is very aggressive, we haven’t caught up and really sucked away the inventory yet,” Mr Keane said. “The US and Europe are still sitting on adequate stockpiles.”……



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

Assessing the risks of Australia becoming the world’s nuclear wasteland

Weatherill,-Jay-wastesShunning nuclear power but not its waste: Assessing the risks of Australia becoming the world’s nuclear wasteland Mark Diesendorf 


The South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission has undertaken ‘an independent and comprehensive investigation into the potential for increasing South Australia’s participation in the nuclear fuel cycle’. In its Final Report, issued 6 May 2016, it acknowledges that nuclear power would not be commercially viable in South Australia in the foreseeable future. However it recommends that ‘the South Australian Government establish used nuclear fuel and intermediate level waste storage and disposal facilities in South Australia’. This is a business proposition to store a large fraction of global nuclear wastes, providing interim above-ground storage followed by permanent underground storage in South Australia. The present critical evaluation of the scheme finds that the Royal Commission’s economic analysis is based on many unsubstantiated assumptions. Furthermore, the scheme is financially risky for both Australian taxpayers and customers and has a questionable ethical basis.

July 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Wall St wakes up to economic win of renewables over nuclear power

poster renewables not nuclearNew Wind & Solar Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Cost Less Than Keeping Aging Nuclear Power Plants Running, Clean Technica  July 5th, 2016 by   Recently, we have seen a spate of older nuclear reactors shut down by their owners for economic reasons. One of the first bellwethers of this trend was the Kewaunee power plant closure. While the public at large may not be aware, nuclear power plant owners are aware of the increasing costs of aging reactors and have responded accordingly. A recent quote from the head of Dominion following the Kewaunee closing tells the story. Thomas Farrell II, chairman, president, and CEO of Dominion, stated:

“This decision was based purely on economics. Dominion was not able to move forward with our plan to grow our nuclear fleet in the Midwest to take advantage of economies of scale.”

graph investment fossil etc

This story has been repeated as a succession of older nuclear power plants have announced closure, among them: Diablo Canyon, Crystal River, San Onofre, Fitzpatrick, Fort Calhoun,Vermont YankeeClintonQuad Cities, and Pilgrim.

Wall Street Wakes Up

Continue reading

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

Josh Frydenberg, Energy and Resources Minister attacks environmental groups

Frydenburg, JoshFederal election 2016: Frydenberg slams activist ‘bias’  The Australian, 5 July 16 Liberal frontbencher Josh Frydenberg has attacked the Australian Conservation Foundation and ­Environment Victoria for campaigning against him in his electorate despite their claims to being independent and non-partisan.

Deposed Tasmanian Liberal Andrew Nikolic is also locked in a war of words with ­activist group GetUp! over its activities in his seat, where 80 volunteers and 10 paid staff led a $300,000 campaign against the former government whip.

Mr Frydenberg, the Energy and Resources Minister, said the ACF and Environment Victoria had used billboards, trucks and pamphlets to campaign against the Coalition in his inner-­Melbourne seat of Kooyong.

“These organisations such as the ACF and Environment Victoria claim to be non-partisan and ­independent but they clearly acted in this campaign in a way that is hostile to the Coalition,’’ he said.

The ACF hired a truck to drive through the electorate throughout the campaign with a banner attached attacking Mr Frydenberg for refusing to sign up to its environment pledge……..

ACF spokesman Josh Meadows said the banner and flyers were not partisan. “We weren’t saying vote for this person; what were saying was this person pledged commitment and this person didn’t,’’ he said.

Mr Frydenberg said Environment Victoria also launched a partisan attack, placing a billboard at a prominent intersection in the electorate saying: “We booked this ad to talk about the Liberals’ plan to cut ­climate pollution … they still don’t have one.”

Environment Victoria chief executive Mark Wakeham said: “We are non-partisan, but under the Coalition CO2 emissions have been rising and it’s important that people know that.”…….

In the Adelaide seat of Mayo, GetUp! ran a campaign advocating voting for the Nick Xenophon Team candidate Rebekha Sharkie over Liberal Jamie Briggs. The group says it chooses the recipients of its favours on their stands on renewable energy, marriage equality and education and health.

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

Queensland wind farm to ‘drought proof’ farm incomes and provide jobs

Wind park in Scotland. Author: Ian Dick. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic.Queensland’s $500m Coopers Gap wind farm could be operational by 2020  By Ellie Sibson An energy company planning to build Queensland’s largest wind farm is hoping to have the project operational by 2020.

AGL Energy’s proposed $500 million Coopers Gap wind farm would be constructed at Cooranga North, about 200 kilometres north-west of Brisbane in the state’s South Burnett region. It has a proposed capacity of 350 megawatts and could power 190,000 homes each year.

Under the plans, up to 115 turbines would be built across 11 properties.

Last month, the wind farm was declared a coordinated project and community consultation on the draft terms of reference for an environmental impact statement is currently underway. Dozens of residents attended a recent public meeting at the nearby township of Bell to raise concerns and ask questions about the project.

Project manager Neil Cooke said most of the feedback had been positive. “Some of the community are concerned about the noise being too high and concerned about sleep,” he said. “We’re in the process of organising a second trip down to our wind farms in Victoria so people can actually get to see wind farms close up.”

Wind farm would ‘drought-proof property’  If the wind farm is approved, Cyril Stewart would have three turbines built on his cattle property. During times of drought, Mr Stewart has had to leave his land in search of a job. “It would be the greatest thing since sliced bread because it is drought-proofing the property,” he said. “This is something that rain, hail or shine, there’s an income.”

About 350 workers are needed for construction with ongoing employment for 20 people. South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell said it would be a big jobs boost for the region. “Economic development is something our region really needs,” he said. “These sorts of things don’t come about often … employment driven by the economic outcomes is something that as a region we can’t ignore.” The environmental impact process is expected to take at least six months.

July 6, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, wind | Leave a comment

Victorian government backing 2 new wind farms


The new wind farms will produce enough energy to power 80,000 homes. They will be located at Kiata near Horsham and Mount Gellibrand near Colac.  The Kiata wind farm will have up to 13 turbines, while Mount Gellibrand will host up to 44. Both projects are expected to be operating by 2018.

The government says it is using its purchasing power to support these wind farms through so-called renewable energy certificates. The state government has committed to purchasing some renewable energy certificates from these two wind farms, giving them an additional revenue stream. Certificates are allocated to wind farms as part of the national renewable energy target. Producers of renewable energy can also sell the certificates to energy retailers.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government was rebuilding much-needed confidence in the renewable energy industry. “We can build a strong, sustainable, renewable energy industry that powers our broader economy, creates well-paid jobs and reduces our environmental impact,” she said.

Last month the government committed to a renewable energy generation target of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.  Planning Minister Richard Wynne is also considering six applications to amend existing wind farm permits so they can increase their turbine size.

July 6, 2016 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Teach climate denial in schools – the Hanson plan !

cartoon-climate-AustFederal election 2016: Potential One Nation senator wants climate scepticism taught in schools, SMH July 5, 2016      The One Nation candidate with a strong chance of joining Pauline Hanson in the Senate, Malcolm Roberts, wants climate scepticism taught in schools and says the CSIRO and United Nations’ peak climate body endorse corruption.

As Australians adjust to One Nation’s return as a political force, attention has turned to the party’s far-right agenda, which extends well beyond controversial views on immigration and Islam.

Ms Hanson is confident of securing a second Senate spot out of Queensland, which would see Mr Roberts take a seat in the red chamber. She claims her party is in the running for six Senate position

The One Nation website touts Mr Roberts as a family man and former coal mine manager who is “passionate about climate change data and facts”.

He “has earned the respect of informed people around the world for his investigation of claimed global warming and climate change where he … exposed the corruption,” the website states.

……..Mr Roberts’ views appear to be driving One Nation’s extreme climate policy agenda, which includes pushing for a royal commission into climate science and abolition of the Renewable Energy Target.It also wants the teaching of climate science in schools to be based on “the scientific method of scepticism”.

One Nation wants the Bureau of Meteorology reviewed, including “public justification of persistent upward adjustments to historical climate records” and a review of the CSIRO to determine whether funding has influenced its climate claims.

Mr Roberts is listed as a project leader for the Galileo Movement, a prominent climate-sceptic group that boasts broadcaster Alan Jones as its patron.

In a paper published in 2013, Mr Roberts claimed CSIRO scientists were “deeply enmeshed in producing corrupt UN IPCC reports”, in reference to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which he also described as “corrupt”.

He claimed IPCC papers “contradict empirical scientific evidence and provide no logical scientific reasoning for their core claim that human CO2 caused, causes or will cause global warming”.

The federal election cleaned out a number of parliamentarians seen as roadblocks to the environment cause, such as WA climate-sceptic MP Dennis Jensen and Bass MP Andrew Nikolic, who wanted environment groups stripped of their charity tax status.

It also put in serious doubt the political futures of others including anti-wind farm crossbench senators Bob Day, David Leyonhjelm and John Madigan.

However One Nation’s new power in the Senate would pose a fresh challenge to those seeking stronger climate action in the next Parliament.

On Monday Ms Hanson said she was “definitely not sold on” climate change…….. Comment has been sought from Mr Roberts.

July 6, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment

Some uncomfortable questions ignored by the South Australian Nuclear Waste Dump Commission

What alternative opportunities might we miss if we invest $ billions in the nuclear waste option?
The challenge of global warming leading to climate change has created a need for rapid development of alternative non-polluting energy technologies. This creates an opportunity for revitalising the manufacturing industry in South Australia to provide these alternative energy systems as well as creating jobs in their construction and or installation. The prime candidates for these technologies are in: large and medium scale wind turbines, photo-electric, solar heating and solar electric systems (both household/rooftop and large scale), electric battery storage and control systems (again household or district scale) and hydro pump storage (using surplus from solar/wind renewable power sources to pump seawater into cliff-top reservoirs and release through hydro turbines to generate electricity during periods when sun and wind don’t provide enough power.
This is a dream that could turn into a nightmare

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINSA Nuclear waste dump questions 

Nuclear un-clear: Some questions that need answers before
South Australia becomes the world’s nuclear waste dump

by Dr Tony Webb June 2016 

Where is it coming from and where is it going? 

• Where is this waste coming from? The Royal commission speculates about various countries wanting us to take their waste but there’s nothing definite.
• Where will it come into Australia? We’ve heard that it might come in via Darwin (unlikely) or (more likely) through a new specially built port in theSpencer Gulf. If so where is this to be built – and at what cost, paid for by whom?

 Where will it be stored? It has been suggested there will need to be a secure temporary store at the port and another (or several) elsewhere above ground that will hold the highly radioactive waste for up to 100 years until ‘disposed of’ underground. Where will these temporary dump sites be? On whose land? And where is the proposed underground site to be?
• Where are the detailed engineering plans for this supposedly ‘secure’ but ‘unguarded’ underground site? No other country in the world has yet found a way to safely dispose of nuclear wastes. Several countries are trying – on a much smaller scale than proposed for South Australia – and for their own waste only.
What are the economic costs, benefits & risks?  Continue reading

July 6, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

In USA election coverage, media ignores climate chnage

USA election 2016Climate change: the missing issue of the 2016 campaign, Guardian 5 July 16 
Guardian US survey reveals anger of voters as election year debate fails to deal with concerns over the gathering global disaster by Ed Pilkington and Mona Chalabi  
The race for the White House is failing to grapple with the key issues of the day, especially the urgent need to combat climate change before atmospheric changes become irreversible, a slice of the American electorate believes.

As the primary election season turns toward a head-to-head between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, there is increasing anger and frustration over the nature of the contest. A Guardian call-out to online readers in the US asking them to reflect on the race so far was met by a barrage of criticism on the tone and substance of the world’s most important election – with the two main parties, individual candidates and the media all coming under heavy fire.

The Guardian asked readers to identify the “one issue that affects your life you wish the presidential candidates were discussing more”. Resoundingly, the largest group of participants pointed to climate change……… Continue reading

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