Australian news, and some related international items

South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill and his Citizens’ Jury Nuclear Deception

Citizens' Jury scrutinyWeatherill trumps up Citizens’ Jury Report in push for SA nuke waste dump, Independent Australia 15 July 2016, Noel Wauchope, who has been covering the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission for IA, calls SA Premier Jay Weatherill out over a sleight of hand following the Nuclear Citizen’s Report this week.

SA Premier Jay Weatherill received the Nuclear Citizen’s Jury Report on 10 July. He said that it was a “commonsense” report and that:

“they [the jury] are asking us to also change the legislation to undertake that work”

(i.e: the work of investigating overseas markets for sending nuclear wastes to South Australia)

Here’s where the sleight of hand comes in. That call to change legislation did not come from the Citizens’ Jury. It came from the pro-nuclear Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (NFCRC), and the jury was merely doing its appointed task — which was to paraphrase the NFCRC’s recommendations. Throughout the jury process, the jury members were reminded that they had no brief to make any decisions or recommendations and they conscientiously stuck to that rule.

Now I think we know why Weatherill was so adamant that this group be called a “jury”. A later group of 350 members, will also be called a “jury”. There is some possibility that this number 350 could be taken as an adequate sample of the South Australian population of 1.712 million. So again, by regurgitating the NFCRC’s recommendations, this might conceivably be portrayed as the “verdictof the people. That’s a lot safer than a referendum. …….

NFCRC is over, and finished, but hey — not so!  The next move is a massive public advertising process and this kicked off with the recent Citizens’ Jury, which, while being organised by the South Australian firm DemocracyCo, was master-minded and controlled by NFCRC personnel. The witnesses were predominantly pro-nuclear, speakers from NFCRC were prominent and NFCRC staff were present at many, if not all, sessions.

Several times, during hearings, and Q and A sessions, the jury was reminded of the necessity to change State and Federal legislation.

Weatherill nuclear dream

This process had, in fact, already begun, with legislative change that had to be made retrospective, seeing that the government had already spent $7.2 million on the Royal Commission. It is rare for legislation to be made retrospective. As the Greens’ Mark Parnell commented:

‘The retrospective clause is basically saying that if anyone did anything illegal we now legalise it.’ 

The South Australia Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 used to say:

13 — No public money to be used to encourage or finance construction or operation of nuclear waste storage facility

(1) Despite any other Act or law to the contrary, no public money may be appropriated, expended or advanced to any person for the purpose of encouraging or financing any activity associated with the construction or operation of a nuclear waste storage facility in this State

This section was amended in May 2016. The government wanted to remove Section 13, altogether. However, after several efforts on this, (Greens’ Mark Parnell objecting), Section 13 was amended, to include a new provision:

‘(2) Subsection (1) does not prohibit the appropriation, expenditure or advancement to a person of public money for the purpose of encouraging or financing community consultation or debate on the desirability or otherwise of constructing or operating a nuclear waste storage facility in this State.’

That was a small step forward for the nuclear cause.

Now for a bigger step. The government needs to drastically amend the South Australia Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000. Later on, they need to get changes made to the national legislation — The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).  They’d probably like these national powers to be removed and have these topics placed under State laws.

In building their argument for changing the law, the Weatherill Government needs to gather persuasive evidence about the proposed economic bonanza to come from importing foreign nuclear wastes. That means another round of expensive trips overseas, and a lot of advertising and promotional meetings in South Australia.

All this can now be justified, because, according to the government, the Citizens’ Jury called for more information, especially on economics, and even more importantly, called for changing the law on importing nuclear waste.

hurdles toff

The fact that this jury group diligently summarised the Royal Commission report, without themselves making any recommendations, will almost certainly get lost in the onslaught of pro-nuclear hype that is about to descend upon the South Australian population.,9237

July 16, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, politics, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Coalition govt’s secret plan to take over community-run indigenous rangers scheme

secret-agent-AustLeaked docs reveal secret Coalition plans for indigenous rangers Although the Indigenous Rangers — Working on Country program is a huge success, Nigel Scullion wants to overhaul it from a community-run to a top-down structure. Crikey, Josh Taylor , 15 July 16  A secret document, leaked to Crikey, reveals significant changes being considered for the federal government’s wildly successful indigenous rangers program — that is, if Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion keeps his job and is around to implement them.

The “Indigenous Rangers — Working on Country” program was started in 2007 under the Howard government as a means to provide employment and training for indigenous Australians into work applying their knowledge of the local land to care for it. It currently employs 777 indigenous rangers in full-time roles in 107 different groups, and more than 2500 indigenous people overall in full-time, part-time or casual positions…… (subscribers only)

July 16, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Craig Wilkins, Conservation Council of South Australia, at parliamentary Nuclear Inquiry

It is remarkable that the royal commission only used one consultant to do this. Basically, all this conversation, all this energy and momentum, is based on the work of one consultant. Surely we deserve a second opinion.
When you look at examples like in the US, with Yucca Mountain in Nevada, they went a huge way down the path of making a decision about what to do and then they changed their minds after about $13 billion worth of investment.
There are so many assumptions built into Jacobs’ modelling which, when you add them all up, just make this an incredibly risky venture financially.

Citizens Jury Panel 1: Craig Wilkins

p.55 Mr WILKINS: Yes, I thought I would just give a brief summary mainly around the economics, the safety and the consent issues before we perhaps have a larger conversation after that. Essentially, we are keen to talk about the very specific proposal to make money by importing high-level nuclear waste into Australia and, by doing so, to turn our state into the largest nuclear waste site in the world. For us, the devil is very much in the detail.
Our impression, from the public conversation, is that most people think this is an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ idea, where we bury the waste deep in the outback and that is it. The reality is very different. Before we get there, ships containing that high-level waste enter South Australian waters through the South China Sea and other problematic areas, entering our prawn and tuna fishery areas and other aquaculture zones, going past tourism hotspots, every 24 to 30 days for 70 years. That is a huge amount of transport.
The waste will be unloaded into a purpose-built port built somewhere on our coastline—probably around Whyalla is the most likely bet. Then it is transported to a site around five kilometres or 10 kilometres from our coastline where it will sit for decades above ground, and up to 72,000 tonnes will be left there over that 80 years of the span of the proposal. So, this isn’t out of sight, out of mind. It will be a very prominent feature of our landscape, and it will require a level of security infrastructure and cultural impact around that which I think will change fundamentally parts of our state.

Continue reading

July 16, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, politics, reference, South Australia | Leave a comment

No Profit in Nuclear waste

  • A minimal safety margin requires that high level waste not be imported before an agreed licensed geological disposal site…
  • High level nuclear waste disposal costs can double in a decade…..
  • Dubious claim that disposal of nuclear waste in SA costs one quarter less than in experienced countries…. 
  • SA faces a $60 billion debt in costs across 37 years of ongoing nuclear waste storage operations and nuclear facility decommissioning after the last receipt of overseas revenues for waste imports….
  • Nuclear contingency costs are unfunded…

Noonan, DavidBrief (July 2016) by David Noonan, Independent Environment scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINCampaigner

South Australians are being misled by inflated revenue claims, untenable assumptions and under-reported nuclear waste costs. Reality check analysis shows there is no profit in nuclear waste.

Nuclear waste costs are fast rising and unrelenting for decades after the last recite of waste imports regardless of whether or not claimed revenues and fixed prices over time prove to be realistic or illusory.

The Nuclear Royal Commission Final Report Ch.5 “Management, storage and disposal of nuclear waste” and the Nuclear Commission Tentative Findings Report (p.16-20) present a nuclear waste baseline business case that is near solely reliant on a consultancy “Radioactive waste storage and disposal facilities in SA” (Feb 2016) by Jacobs MCM, summarised in Final Report Appendix J.

There is no market based evidence for the Final Report revenue assumptions and claimed income.

Claimed revenues are a tonnage based multiplier: inflated tonnage equals misleading revenues.

Claimed revenues are doubled by an assumption SA can take twice the waste the US failed to achieve. Continue reading

July 16, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, reference, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

The hideous maths of nuclear power construction

A decade late, way over budget — yep, that’s nuclear power, Crikey 15 July 16  A new nuclear power plant in the UK is already facing budget blowouts and massive delays — before any work has even started on it, Glenn Dyer and Bernard Keane write.  Proponents of an Australian nuclear power industry — of which there are quite a number in the federal Liberal Party text Hinkley cancelled— might read up on what’s been happening in the UK around the planned Hinkley Point nuclear power station, which yet again demonstrates how the maths of nuclear power rarely add up — even in countries with established nuclear power industries, let alone a country like Australia that would have to build one from the ground up.

The Hinkley Point project, which will contain two “European pressurised reactor” (EPR) units, was originally planned to come online from 2025 and provide 7% of the UK’s power needs. It was to be built by French nuclear giant EDF (85% government owned), backed by Chinese investment. But that was until the hideous maths of nuclear power construction reared their ugly head. Despite new UK chancellor Philip Hammond yesterday confirming his commitment to Hinkley Point, there are now real doubts the project will go ahead……….. (subscribers only)

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Czech Republic struggles with the problem of mounting nuclear waste

antnuke-relevantCzech nuclear waste deep storage will only be sited where there is local Oscar-wastessupport says ministry Radio Czech Republic, 15-07-2016  Chris Johnstone Nuclear power means nuclear waste and the Czech Republic, like many other European countries, is faced with the headache of where to store the waste long term. A shortlist of seven locations for geological tests for suitable deep storage resulted in howls of protest from most of the citizens and mayors living near the sites. And that has forced a rethink from the ministry and state body piloting the selection process.

The Czech Republic has been producing nuclear power for just over 30 years now with the two plants at Dukovany and Temelín responsible for producing around a third of the country’s electricity. And there are plans to boost that proportion with more plants in the future.

But the high level nuclear waste produced from the process is still being stocked on site at the plants with plans for a deep storage site hitting furious opposition from most of the seven preliminary sites earmarked for geological tests. Five of those sites have launched or allied themselves to legal proceedings aimed at stopping the surveys and sent back millions of crowns in payments aimed at compensating locals for the inconvenience.

Now the Ministry of Industry and Trade says it will bow to the opposition and seek to push ahead with surveys at one locality near Třebíč in Vysočina and another straddling Vysočina and South Moravia.

Minister Jan Mládek said the decision was not a defeat for the ministry………..

What’s the time pressure to get this done – how long can you keep storing it [the waste] at nuclear sites?

“It’s a really long term process and the storage should be built by 2065, but we have milestones and what for us at this moment is very important is that the decision about the location should be decided by the Czech government in 2025. This is a milestone we are targeting, we are not yet about building but about picking the place where it will be built.”

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No, we don’t need the fantasy of small nuclear reactors

Laurel Kaskurs, 16 July 16 What we need is not more atomic pipe dreams producing separated plutonium as waste. That is what SMRs amount to. T

There are triple renewable hybrid plants, like Stillwater in Fallon, NV that produce zero waste and can compete with SMRs to deliver flexible power to the grid by using geothermal storage to convert heat from daytime sunlight to keep the lights on at night while Solar and solar pv handle the load all day.

SMR green paintedIt’s not a theory on paper. It’s an operational power plant designed by Enel Green Power and I read
about it in a renewable energy magazine. That is where our government subsidies should go. Not to another plutonium making weapons contractor that is decades away from a prototype.

For the sake of the DNA of future generations, we can not keep draining the economy by subsidizing an industry that kills us slowly with cancer and genetic instability. If you want to solve the climate problems, the time is now, with proven renewable technology, not 2030 with an atomic fantasy.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Snall nuclear reactors – doubtful future, and are they needed anyway?

SMRs-mirageFOR GENERAL ATOMICS, SMALLER NUCLEAR PLANTS ARE BEAUTIFUL, San Diego Union Tribune  But can its technology work? And is it even needed? BY ROB NIKOLEWSKI July 15, 2016 The scientists and engineers at General Atomics think the future of nuclear energy is coming on the back of a flatbed truck.

And the leadership at the San Diego-based company, which has been developing nuclear technologies for more than 60 years, has already spent millions in the expectation that its ambitious plans for the next generation of reactors will actually work.

“We have technology that we think is going to qualitatively change the game,” saidChristina Back, vice president of nuclear technologies and materials at General Atomics……’s designed to produce a reactor that’s so compact that the company’s handout material shows it being transported by tractor-trailer.

But EM² is still a long way from becoming a day-to-day reality in a fast-changing energy landscape. Continue reading

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shock in Britain as new Prime Minister closes Climate Change Department

Climate change department closed by Theresa May in ‘plain stupid’ and ‘deeply worrying’ flag-UKmove Campaigners called for ‘urgent reassurance from the new government’ that the fight against climate change and pollution will not be ‘abandoned’ Independent  Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent , 15 July 16 The decision to abolish the Department for Energy and Climate Change has been variously condemned as “plain stupid”, “deeply worrying” and “terrible” by politicians, campaigners and experts. Continue reading

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

New Zealand government- concern over Pacific atolls and climate change

Kiribati 15Pacific atolls ‘could be underwater by 2050  Radio New Zealand Chris Bramwell, Deputy Political Editor – @chrisbramwell, 15 July 16   The government is being warned to prepare for an impending stream of refugees from the Pacific as low-lying atolls are swamped by sea-level rise over the coming decades.

Labour is also calling for the government to take a humanitarian approach to people from the region antnuke-relevantwho are overstayers in New Zealand.

United Nations warns if sea level rise continues at the current rate, the Pacific atolls of Kiribati and Tuvalu could be completely submerged within decades……

Labour’s Su’a William Sio said the people of the Pacific were fighting a losing battle. The government could take a more sympathetic approach to overstayers from Kiribati and Tuvalu and not send them back to islands already under pressure, he said.

“The main islands they’ve got issues not just with climate change, but with population growth and waste on both Tuvalu and Kiribati, so I think we’ve got to seriously look at what we do with that, and my view is that we need to adopt a humanitarian stance with the overstayers that are here.”

Climate change refugees might not be a serious issue now, but they would become one, he said.

“The overwhelming scientific evidence is telling us these islands will be underwater by 2050 or 2070, so we actually do need to have a strategic long term plan in preparation to help these islanders because we can’t just sit around once those islands are underwater.”…..

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Queensland: Catholic schools recognised by Vatican for solar energy success

church green 1Vatican praise for Townsville Catholic diocese solar scheme By Ben Millington Catholic schools in north Queensland have caught the eye of the Vatican with a solar project that is cutting carbon emissions and saving millions of dollars.

The Diocese of Townsville, which stretches from the coast to Mt Isa in the state’s north-west, has installed solar panels on roofs of all its eligible schools. The diocese has invested $6 million in one megawatt of solar panels, but diocese director of education Dr Cathy Day said this could deliver a much higher return. “The best figures that I like to think is a saving of $40 million over 25 years,” she said.

“Now when you turn that into teachers that we can pay for, or resources for students, that’s quite a substantial amount of money and I think it’s a great investment.”

In combination with the use of low-energy LED lighting, she said, the diocese had cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent, which is equivalent to taking 40,000 cars off the road. Dr Day said her main motivation had been to set a positive example for students and the broader community. “We’ve all got to start investing in technology and energy efficiency,” she said. “This is the way of the future. Our students are going to be in these industries. Nobody’s going to be working in a coal-fired power station in years to come.”

Emissions will eventually be cut by 80 per cent With further investment, Dr Day said they expect to achieve an 80 per cent reduction in emissions through installing more solar and energy-efficient air conditioning, as well as using batteries to store the power generated.

She returned last week from a visit to Rome, where she presented the project to Vatican officials in meetings led by former deputy prime minister and onetime ambassador to the holy see, Tim Fischer, who has become a spokesman for the project. Mr Fischer said the scheme was well received in Rome and he would like to see it rolled out in schools across the world. “What has happened in Townsville is mildly revolutionary and is extremely positive in terms of energy savings because it works and it can be monitored in real time,” he said.

“That’s what caused positive ripples in Rome. They saw in this sustainable, cut-through, realistic energy savings created without massive capital expenditure.”

The project is already being replicated in other Catholic schools in Cairns and the Northern Territory.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, religion and ethics, solar | Leave a comment