Australian news, and some related international items

Premier Weatherill either dishonest or ignorant, about Finland’s nuclear waste dump plan

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN PREMIERJay Weatherill has gone to Finland to study their nuclear waste storage project.

With the premier are three stalwarts of the mining and nuclear lobbies: marketing man Bill Muirhead, chief executive of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Consultation and Response Agency (CARA) Advisory Board Madeleine Richardson and chair of CARA John Mansfield.

Unsurprisingly, they all seemed to have no anxieties about nuclear waste disposal.

Weatherill glowPremier Weatherill waxed lyrical in The Advertiser about the Finland waste disposal site, describing it in operation:

There, spent nuclear fuel is placed in eight metre long iron canisters, encased in copper tubes … Inside the underground tunnels, the canisters are placed in deep holes.

Reading this, you would think that is actually happening in Finland. But no — that’s just the plan. The facility, in fact, has no nuclear wastes yet disposed of there. In fact, no wastes will be placed there until 2020, at the earliest.

Weatherill’s comments imply that the Finland project and the South Australian plan are pretty much the same kind of thing. Well, apart from some rather obvious differences in climate, which might matter, the whole plan is different.

South Australia’s nuclear waste import plan would need a dump substiantially larger than Finland’s waste dump:……..

Just for high level nuclear waste alone, it will require a waste dump 14 to 28 times the size of Onkalo (69,000 high level nuclear waste canisters). And for decades, half of the high level nuclear waste will be stored above ground in a temporary facility.

A perhaps even bigger deception is in Weatherill’s main theme, praising Finland for its transparency and community consent, since that is a subject of considerable dispute. ……

Sweden has the Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review. It is a coalition comprising five NGOs working with nuclear and radiation safety issues, advising the Government and informing the public. The coalition is financed by the Government’s Swedish Nuclear Waste Fund.

Finland has no such agency. That might account for the relative ease with which the Finnish nuclear industry gained public acceptance for the plan with no substantial criticism from the public. In Sweden, the nuclear waste burial project has not gone ahead, as there is much debate and opposition from some scientists and from a well-informed public.

Representatives from municipalities near the Finland repository construction site, Johanna Huhtala and Raija Lehtorinne, explained:

‘ … the locals trust the nuclear industry completely.’

I guess that the Finnish model for community consent is more to Weatherill’s liking than the Swedish one. I can’t see him setting up a South Australian NGO office for nuclear waste review.,9518

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, secrets and lies, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Premier Weatherill in Finland; predicts nuclear waste as an election issue for South Australia in 2018

Weatherill glowWeatherill hints at following suit on nuclear waste, MICHAEL OWEN, THE AUSTRALIAN September 20, 2016

Talks with countries looking to export their nuclear waste to Australia for permanent storage will begin next year if the South Australian Labor government decides to proceed with a bold plan to build a dump in the state to house high-level spent nuclear fuel.

Premier Jay Weatherill yesterday toured the site of the world’s first permanent disposal facility for nuclear waste in the Eurajoki region of southern Finland and gave every indication South Australia’s government would give the green light to follow suit…….

Under Finnish law, all nuclear waste the country generates must be handled and permanently stored in Finland.

However, its parliament has ruled out taking waste from other countries.

Mr Weatherill acknowledged Finland’s facility was a direct ­response to the problem of its own high-level waste, a problem his state did not have. However, he said, there was an economic ­opportunity for South Australia, which could safely store the world’s most toxic nuclear waste deep underground……..

“One thing that is really clear is that this is a long journey and that there will be a series of steps that the community will have to take before any final decision is taken,” Mr Weatherill said, noting it could be at least 10 to 20 years before construction started on a facility.

    Mr Weatherill said Posiva was prepared to license its expertise to countries such as Australia…

The state government is conducting a final round of community consultation before cabinet decides in November if to move forward with plans for a facility.

Mr Weatherill indicated a facility for high-level international ­nuclear waste would be an election issue in March 2018.

“It needs bipartisan support and a state government that is prepared to advance it,” he said.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

US State of South Carolina: strong opposition to becoming a nuclear waste dumping groundc

Environmentalists say there is no need to move spent nuclear fuel off of atomic power plant sites. They contend it can be stored safely. Transporting it to a disposal area near Barnwell would increase risks to the public, they said

antnuke-relevantPlan surfaces for new nuclear disposal ground in SC  Casks of spent nuclear fuel are stored above ground at many atomic energy plants because there is no national disposal site for the material U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission  BY SAMMY FRETWELL AND JEFF WILKINSON\,, COLUMBIA, SC 

A plan has surfaced to establish another nuclear waste disposal ground in South Carolina, a state with a history of taking atomic refuse from across the country.

An organization called the Spent Fuel Reprocessing Group wants federal approval to open a disposal area near Barnwell and the Savannah River Site nuclear weapons complex. Spent fuel, a type of highly radioactive waste, would be moved from the state’s four nuclear power plant sites and stored indefinitely at the new facility, records show.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in July received notice of the plan. The proposal is a long way from becoming reality, but if eventually approved by the federal government, it would create a place for nuclear waste disposal that is likely to draw opposition.

Several environmental groups said this week they are preparing to fight any effort to create what they called an atomic waste dumping ground. Continue reading

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PM Robert Menzies ‘ approval of Maraling nuclear bombing, without consulting Parlaiment

Fallout from British atomic tests at Maralinga continues, Liz Tynan – The West Australian on September 27, 2016  “……… the most damaging chapter in the history of British nuclear weapons testing in Australia. The British had carried out atomic tests in 1952 and 1956 at the Montebello Islands off WA and in 1953 at Emu Field north of Maralinga.

The British had requested and were granted a huge chunk of South Australia to create a “permanent” atomic weapons test site, after finding the conditions at Montebello and Emu Field too remote and unworkable.

Australia’s then prime minister, Robert Menzies, was all too happy to oblige. Back in September 1950 in a phone call with his British counterpart, Clement Attlee, he had said yes to nuclear testing without even referring the issue to his Cabinet…… Continue reading

September 28, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Risky plan for thousands of shiploads of radioactive trash to South Australia

Derek Abbott, No High Level Nuclear Waste Dump in South Australia, 27 Sept 16, To fulfil the economic analysis of the Royal Commission report, SA’s dump will have to receive a shipload of
ship radiationwaste once every THREE weeks for the life time of the dump.


I think the Commission hasn’t thought through how unrealistic that workflow will be to manage and how many double hulled ships will have to be purpose built for this. They haven’t thought through how many contract guarantees they are going to need to get that kind of volume. They haven’t thought through the tendency of the nuclear industry to defer costs, and possibly renege on those contracts.

When they don’t even have the sniff of even one contract yet, this is all highly risky.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

A week of anti nuclear protest at Australia’s top target – Pine Gap

pinegap1Pine Gap: 50 years as Australia’s prime nuclear target ICAN Australia 26 September – 2 October 2016:

A week of activities will expose the role of Pine Gap in war, surveillance and nuclear targeting. Beginning on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, 26th September, hundreds of people are gathering at the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility, just 20km from Alice Springs, NT.

A protest camp and conference will discuss the role of the highly secretive facility in drone targeting, mass citizen surveillance and in preparations for nuclear war. The facility is the most likely Australian target in the event of a nuclear war involving the US, immediately jeopardizing the 25,000 residents of Alice Springs, and others in the path of radioactive fallout. “Pine Gap makes critical contributions to planning for nuclear war.

In the fragile world of nuclear deterrence, efforts should be directed at total nuclear disarmament,” said Professor Richard Tanter, University of Melbourne. A UN working group on nuclear disarmament has issued a breakthrough recommendation for the General Assembly to convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. Austrian Foreign Minister Kurz announced last Wednesday that Austria, along with other UN members states, will table a resolution at the General Assembly First Committee in October, seeking a mandate for negotiations to begin next year.

logo-ICAN“For 71 years the majority of countries have experienced the injustice and insecurity that nuclear weapons represent,” said Ray Acheson of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, a steering group member of ICAN. “With negotiations of a ban treaty on the horizon, we are as close as we have ever been to effectively challenging the continued possession of these weapons of mass destruction.”

“When a treaty banning nuclear weapons is negotiated, Australia will be expected to sign it, as it has signed treaties to outlaw other abhorrent weapons. To enable Australia to sign on, the functions of Pine Gap should exclude preparations for nuclear war. This facility has served to implicate Australia in nuclear aggression and as a prime nuclear target for 50 years too long,” said Gem Romuld, ICAN Australia. ICAN Australia will be speaking at the IPAN Conference and participating in the protest camp this week. More information: Disarm protest camp, 26-30 September Independent and Peaceful Australia Network Conference, 1-2 October

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Northern Territory, opposition to nuclear | 1 Comment

Nuclear waste disposal system doomed as communities reject it

antnuke-relevantProtests spur rethink on deep borehole test for nuclear waste By Paul Voosen Sep. 27, 2016 DENVERAlong the way to testing an old-but-new concept in nuclear waste storage—burying spent fuel in a hole drilled kilometers below the surface—the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its contractors relearned a lesson that seems frequently forgotten: Get the locals on board first.


Failure to gain the trust and approval of residents in rural North and South Dakota doomed the start of a $35 million project that would have drilled a borehole 5 kilometers beneath the prairie into crystalline basement rock. Continue reading

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate impacts as Arctic Ocean Ice Disappears


The news last week that summer ice covering the Arctic Ocean was tied for the second-lowest extent on record is a sobering reminder that the planet is swiftly heading toward a largely ice-free Arctic in the warmer months, possibly as early as 2020.
After that, we can expect the ice-free period in the Arctic basin to expand to three to four months a year, and eventually to five months or more.

Since my days measuring the thickness of Arctic Ocean ice from British nuclear submarines in the early 1970s, I have witnessed a stunning decline in the sea ice covering the northern polar regions — a more than 50 percent drop in extent in summer, and an even steeper reduction in ice volume. Just a few decades ago, ice 10 to 12 feet thick covered the North Pole, with sub-surface ice ridges in some parts of the Arctic extending down to 150 feet. Now, that ice is long gone, while the total volume of Arctic sea ice in late summer has declined, according to two estimates, by 75 percent in half a century.

The great white cap that once covered the top of the world is now turning blue — a change that represents humanity’s most dramatic step in reshaping the face of our planet. And with the steady disappearance of the polar ice cover, we are losing a vast air conditioning system that has helped regulate and stabilize earth’s climate system for thousands of years.

Continue reading

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Canberra travellers learn of South Australian Aboriginals’ fight against nuclear waste dumping

MAGALI MCDUFFIE Over two years ago, my partner Alexander Hayes met Bruce Hammond, of the Tanganekald & Western Arrente people, South Australia, who brought to his awareness the ongoing struggles and challenges that his people and other Aboriginal communities face, particularly in light of the South Australian proposal for a nuclear waste dump in the Flinders Ranges. With over three months of logistics and planning, and at Bruce’s invitation, Alex and myself will be travelling through many different communities in South Australia, listening to the voices of people on country, who have not been consulted by the government in an appropriate manner.

So on September 24th we started our journey from Canberra to South Australia.

Our road trip took us through Wagga-Wagga, the Hay Plains, Benanee Lake, Balranald, Mildura, finally arriving in Adelaide on the morning of the 26th.  On 26 September, 2016 we had the pleasure of meeting lester-karinaand interviewing Karina Lester, Co-Manager and Aboriginal Language Worker at Mobile-Language Team, at the University of Adelaide. Karina is the daughter of well-known Yankunytjatjara Elder and Activist Yami Lester, who was blinded by the ‘black mist’ from the first Atomic Test Bomb at Emu Junction, South Australia.

Karina told us that the idea of a nuclear waste dump in South Australia is not new – her grand-mother and her family successfully fought against it back in the 1990s. But now it is on the agenda again, and Aboriginal communities whose land the nuclear dump would be built on are not being properly consulted. Even though the South Australian government is sending representatives to a hundred different communities, under the guise of consultation (Get to Know Nuclear), they are not engaging language experts and interpreters to communicate directly and effectively with these communities. Aboriginal people are therefore not getting all the information on the nuclear waste project, thereby contravening the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on Free, Prior and Informed ConsentContinue reading

September 28, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Crisis in confidence over EPA uranium mine push  27 September

WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Robin Chapple MLC have today questioned the EPA’s approval for preparatory works at the proposed Mulga Rock uranium mine, which is yet to be approved and currently subject to an appeal.

“Today’s approval for preparatory works at Mulga Rocks exposes the sham of the assessment and appeals process; the EPAs decision today is at odds with the intention of the Environmental Protection Act 1986,” Mr Chapple said.

“There has been serious public backlash against the project reflected in numerous appeals being lodged against the project, including from Traditional Owners and people in the local community.

“There is a race on in WA to get uranium mines approved before the State election. This ambition is ridiculous given the widespread opposition to the industry and the market conditions which are prohibitive to new mines.”

“World-wide we’re seeing uranium mines close and others put in to care and maintenance. Vimy Resources may have some political influence and big benefactors like Andrew Forrest, but none of these things will make this mine profitable or socially acceptable,” Senator Ludlam said.

“The EPA’s response to Vimy’s aggressive approach to starting this mine is not just a demonstration of a poor and non-transparent process, it is a slap in the face for the public and local community that have engaged in good faith in a process which is in essence a fait accompli.

“While the process is broken, the resolve of communities to fight this project is very much alive and well.”

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Confusion in South Africa over the government’s murky plans for nuclear power project

Confusion reigns over SA’s RFP for nuclear, IOL , Chantall Presence, 27 Sept 16 
 Parliament – There appears to be confusion on whether South Africa will issue a request for proposals for its nuclear energy build programme by Friday as promised by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

At a media briefing of cabinet’s economic sectors, employment and infrastructure development cluster on Tuesday, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor contradicted an energy official saying she was not sure the RFP would be issued this week.

Energy department spokeswoman Thandiwe Maimane first told journalists: “What is happening on Friday is, as the minister announced on the 7th of September, that the RFP [request for proposals] will be issued by the department towards the beginning of the implementation of the…nuclear programme.”

But, when Pandor was pressed on the wisdom of proceeding with the RFP without an updated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) – South Africa’s comprehensive 20 year electricity generation plan, which is already years out of date, the minister said she was not sure the September 30 deadline could be met……..

The issuing of the RFP would test the markets before a funding model is developed for what many predict will be a very expensive procurement programme. South Africa intends to procure 9 600 megawatts of nuclear energy.

Joemat-Pettersson told MPs in Parliament earlier in September that she had cabinet approval to issue the request for proposals and that this would be done on September 30.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Next USA President will face the $1 trillion price tag of modernizing America’s nuclear weapons

missile-moneyThe $1 trillion price tag of modernizing America’s nuclear weapons falls to the next president, Business Insider Yeganeh Torbati, Reuters, 27 Sept 16, “………..-budget constraints almost certainly will force the next president to decide whether and how quickly to proceed with the Obama administration’s plans to maintain and modernize the US nuclear arsenal.

Crunch time

The crunch comes in the next decade as American ballistic missile submarines, bombers, and land-based missiles – the three legs of the nuclear triad – reach the end of their useful lives.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the total cost of nuclear forces through 2024 at $348 billion, but that does not include some of the costliest upgrades, scheduled for the latter half of the next decade. Independent estimates have put the cost of maintaining and modernizing the arsenal at about $1 trillion over 30 years.

“There’s a bipartisan commitment to doing that upgrade, so we have to assume those funds will come through,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told Reuters on Sept. 20. “But it will be a significant budget increase, especially in the next decade.”

The Energy Department shares responsibility with the Pentagon for the nuclear arsenal, and some of its research and production facilities are 73 years old.

The next administration could abandon or delay some aspects of modernization to cut costs. Or it could raise taxes, increase the budget deficit, or cut domestic programs, all unpopular steps with American voters.

The most vulnerable elements of the modernization plans are a long-range standoff weapon, or LRSO – a nuclear-capable cruise missile launched from an aircraft – and new land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Ten US senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, called on President Barack Obama in July to cancel the LRSO, saying it “would provide an unnecessary capability that could increase the risk of nuclear war.”

Some Pentagon officials and defense experts have said the cruise missile would be a hedge against improved air defenses that are difficult for even a stealthy bomber to penetrate……..

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Holy See: Peace of nuclear deterrence “a tragic illusion” 

Vatican Radio , 26 Sept 16 The Vatican told the United Nations on Monday “nuclear arms offer a false sense of security, and that the uneasy peace promised by nuclear deterrence is a tragic illusion.”

“Nuclear weapons cannot create for us a stable and secure world,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

He was speaking at an event marking the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

“Peace and international stability cannot be founded on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of total annihilation,” the Vatican diplomat said. The full statement of Archbishop Auza can be found below……….

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Zealand – the first nuclear free country – inspired by Dr Helen Caldicott

new-zealand-against-nuclearWhose work was the inspiration for the first nuke-free country , Open Democracy,   MARILYN WARING 27 September 2016

New Zealand was the first country in the world to pass national nuclear-free legislation. Marilyn Waring reflects on how Dr. Helen Caldicott’s influence culminated in the Caldicott,H1passage of the cornerstone of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

If you were growing up in New Zealand and Australia post World War II, there’s a chance you knew about the United States using the Marshall Islands as a nuclear testing site from 1947 until 1962. In an agreement signed with the United Nations, the U.S. government held the Marshall Islands as a “trust territory” and detonated nuclear devices in this pristine area of the Pacific Ocean—leading, in some instances, to huge levels of radiation fall-out, health effects, and the permanent displacement of many island people. In all, the U.S. government conducted 105 underwater and atmospheric tests. You would have also known that the British conducted seven atmospheric tests between 1956 and 1963 on traditional Aboriginal land, in Maralinga, Australia……….

France began its series of over 175 nuclear tests at Mururoa, in the South Pacific, in 1966. At least 140 of these tests were above ground. In 1973, the New Zealand and Australian governments took France to the World Court for continued atmospheric testing, and forced the last tests underground. The testing finally came to an end in 1976.

In New Zealand the U.S. Navy made regular visits between 1976 and 1983 with nuclear-powered and, most likely, nuclear-armed, ships. These visits produced spectacular protest fleets in the Auckland and Wellington harbours, when hundreds of New Zealanders—in yachts of all sizes, in motor boats and canoes, even on surf boards—surrounded the vessels and tried to bring them to a complete stop. By 1978, a campaign began in New Zealand to declare borough and city council areas nuclear-free and, by the early 1980s, this symbolic movement had quickly gained momentum, covering more than two-thirds of the New Zealand population……..

Helen [Caldicott]’s tour through New Zealand in 1983 had a huge, and lasting, impact. At one stop, Helen addressed over 2,000 people at a public event in Auckland. The librarian with whom I corresponded looking for old newspaper reports of Helen’s visit, wrote to me: “Her chillingly detailed description of the effects of a nuclear device detonated over the hall in which we were sitting remains rooted in my psyche to this day! …The other message I most recall is the dichotomy she evoked between the destructive drive of ‘old men’ rulers, the instigators of war, versus the procreative energy of mothers most impelled to oppose them—which, however reductive, retains the compelling logic of a truism!”

Helen’s approach was transformative in New Zealand. Helen’s speaking events packed auditoriums, and overflows of audiences had to be accommodated using loud speaker systems. People responded strongly to this woman, whose life work involved caring for children, speaking about medical effects of fallout, and speaking without the use of the clichéd military and defence ideological rhetoric that treated people as if they were simpletons who couldn’t understand. Her speeches inspired people to act. After Helen spoke, the volume of mail delivered to my parliamentary office increased—particularly from women…..

Helen’s tour through New Zealand in 1983 had a huge, and lasting, impact. At one stop, Helen addressed over 2,000 people at a public event in Auckland. The librarian with whom I corresponded looking for old newspaper reports of Helen’s visit, wrote to me: “Her chillingly detailed description of the effects of a nuclear device detonated over the hall in which we were sitting remains rooted in my psyche to this day! …The other message I most recall is the dichotomy she evoked between the destructive drive of ‘old men’ rulers, the instigators of war, versus the procreative energy of mothers most impelled to oppose them—which, however reductive, retains the compelling logic of a truism!”

Helen’s approach was transformative in New Zealand. Helen’s speaking events packed auditoriums, and overflows of audiences had to be accommodated using loud speaker systems. People responded strongly to this woman, whose life work involved caring for children, speaking about medical effects of fallout, and speaking without the use of the clichéd military and defence ideological rhetoric that treated people as if they were simpletons who couldn’t understand. Her speeches inspired people to act. After Helen spoke, the volume of mail delivered to my parliamentary office increased—particularly from women.

On May 24, 1983, 20,000 women wearing white flowers and armbands and holding banners with peace signs marched quietly up a main street in Auckland to hold a huge rally and call for New Zealand to be nuke-free. It was one of the largest women’s demonstrations in New Zealand’s history. In her book, Peace, Power and Politics – How New Zealand Became Nuclear Free, Maire Leadbetter writes: “I am one of many activists who think of Helen Caldicott’s visit as the point when the peace movement began to grow exponentially… Helen had a magical ability to motivate previously passive citizens to become activists.”

Shortly after Helen’s visit to New Zealand, in 1984, I advised that I intended to vote for the opposition-sponsored nuclear-free New Zealand legislation. This prompted conservative Prime Minister Rob Muldoon to call a snap election. Muldoon told media that my “feminist anti-nuclear stance” threatened his ability to govern.

The new Labour Government of 1984 passed the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act in 1987, the world’s first national nuclear-free legislation. Dr. Helen Caldicott’s influence had culminated in the passage of the cornerstone of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

This essay is one of 28 stories by notable women about remarkable women peacemakers brought together in a collection to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. When We Are Bold: Women Who Turn Our Upsidedown World Right! Editor, Rachel Vincent, September 27, Mapalé.     country?

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments