Australian news, and some related international items

Labor Party pressure on South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill to dump nuclear plan

Weatherill WeathervaneJay Weatherill will be forced to abandon nuclear waste storage plan, Labor sources say 

November 8, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Premier Weatherill’s nuclear political quagmire (a martyr for the nuclear religion?)

weatherill-martyrWith citizens dissenting, Labor party members preparing for internal debate and anticipation building among nuclear industrialists, the Weatherill government has waded into a political quagmire, in which it now stands waste-deep.

Simplify Day won’t ease nuclear tension in South Australia, Online opinion, By Dan Monceaux, 9 Nov 16  “……If support for future high-level nuclear waste storage had been demonstrated by the Citizens Jury, or granted by Traditional Owners, repealing legislative barriers would have been the necessary next step before opening the gate for further investment. The Jury’s report recommends against such reforms, casting doubt on the nature and content of the policy announcement expected later this month.

The Jury has also called for the State Government to draw no more from the public purse. To date the State has committed $13 million dollars to the Royal Commission, Citizens’ Jury and ‘Get to Know Nuclear’ public relations campaigns combined.

The jury’s objections have no doubt stolen some wind from the sails of supporters. The Premier now risks compounding the identified problem of a lack of trust in government, if he is to announce any further financial commitment to explore the Commission’s proposal. Meanwhile, dissenting voices within the South Australian Labor party will likely draw confidence from this as the party heads towards a contentious Special Convention on the topic. Continue reading

November 8, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Citizens Jury clearly examined the economic danger of importing nuclear wastes

scrutiny-on-wastes-sa-bankruptClear-headed citizens’ jury refused to be dazzled ANALYSIS, InDaily, Richard Blandy, 7 Nov 16 The citizens’ jury’s rejection of a high-level nuclear waste dump for South Australia was based on courage and common sense, writes economics commentator Richard Blandy – one of the expert witnesses called to address the jury. My fellow expert economic witnesses, chosen by a formal voting process by all the members of the citizens’ jury, were Dr Mark Diesendorf , a former Principal Research Scientist in the CSIRO and former Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Technology, Sydney), Dr Richard Dennis, Chief Economist at The Australia Institute, Barbara Pocock, Emeritus Professor of Economics at UniSA and a member of the SA Economic Development Board, and me.

All of these expert witnesses opposed the royal commission’s proposal to establish a high level nuclear waste dump in South Australia.

DemocracyCo, the body running the citizens’ jury process, added to this group Dr Tim Johnson, Project Manager/Consultant at Jacobs Engineering, which undertook the analysis of the nuclear dump for the royal commission. Dr Johnson was the project manager for Jacobs’ work on the cost analysis and business case for the dump.

Naturally enough, Dr Johnson supported the royal commission’s proposal to establish the dump.

Dr Diesendorf, participating in proceedings through a Skype link to Sydney, said the dump proposal painted a scenario of huge financial risk which had not been adequately addressed. South Australia could only proceed if it operated under two delusions – a delusion of grandeur and a delusion of being able to manage large risks that had not been adequately addressed.

I noted that there is no global market for high level nuclear waste at present so the price we could expect to get was a guess. The forecast profitability of the dump rested on highly optimistic assumptions, and the dump could easily lose money (on the Royal Commission’s own analysis in Figure J6) instead of being a bonanza. As Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said in his recent State Budget: “There is no silver bullet … [including] the nuclear royal commission.”

Richard Dennis pointed out that South Australia had already spent $10 million on the nuclear dump proposal, but still did not have a cost/benefit analysis. The price we would get for storing nuclear fuel was exaggerated and the volumes we would store were exaggerated. Would no other country enter the market if there was a bonanza happening in South Australia? One of the key assumptions of economics is that huge profits will attract competitors. If the project were likely to make so much money, why wouldn’t BHP be wanting to invest in it, or at least spend the next $10 million to explore the project further?

Barbara Pocock noted that all the economists agreed the dump was not a goer. In an earlier session, Dr Johnson had also agreed that the proposal needed a lot more work. It was a complicated project that had never been done before. At a projected cost of $145 billion, it was equivalent in financial size to 70 new Royal Adelaide Hospitals. A cost overrun would be very easy. The SA proposal was 20 times bigger than what the Finns are building. The profits come from holding the waste in inexpensive temporary storage for a very long time – but nothing will go wrong! We should not be dazzled and desperate. We should remember the State Bank – which cost us $3 billion and 20 years of economic confidence.

Tim Johnson summarised and defended the analysis that Jacobs had undertaken for the royal commission, which is contained in accessible reports, including the royal commission report itself. I will not go through this material again, here.

Most questions from the members of the citizens’ jury were directed to Dr Johnson, with other members of the panel commenting from time-to-time.

Late in the afternoon last Sunday, the 350 people of the citizens’ jury reported on their findings, the most important of which is reproduced below (supported by two thirds of the jurors):

No, not an option for the state under any circumstances for reasons of consent, economics, trust and safety.
· Under no circumstances should South Australia pursue opportunity to store and dispose of nuclear waste from other countries for reasons of consent, economics, trust and safety………


November 8, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury | Leave a comment

Weatherill champion for nuclear waste, likely to bite the political dust

weatherill-martyrCitizens’ jury decision spells nuclear disaster for Weatherill, Crikey, The citizens’ jury bombshell has left Jay Weatherill facing an unwinnable political conundrum, writes InDaily senior reporter Tom Richardson, 7 Nov 16  And either way, he will have to abandon one of two projects most closely associated with his premiership………nuclear was never genuinely on the political agenda until Weatherill put it there. It was in the Liberal policy grab-bag entitled “we support this but can’t be arsed genuinely advocating for it”, and on the extended wishlist of people like Business SA’s Nigel McBride…….

Steven Marshall wasn’t here to turn the knife on behalf of the oposition, because he is currently touring nuclear facilities in Finland, to make up for the bipartisan tour he pulled out of back in September.

Bipartisan support may be important, but nonetheless, for a nuclear waste dump to succeed it needed a champion from the nominal political left. And in putting it firmly on the agenda, Weatherill anointed himself that champion…….

If he forges on with the waste dump, he will be thumbing his nose at the findings of the citizens’ jury, effectively abandoning any pretence of consultative leadership and “riding roughshod” over public opinion — the very thing he criticised about the Rann administration.

If, however, he takes the jury’s unequivocal red light as an unnavigable road-block, he might as well hand back the keys right now.

For that will entail, once again, a term of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Weatherill has gambled plenty on the assumption that the will of the jury will reflect a grudging admiration for his “boldness” in putting the nuclear issue on the agenda.

Instead, it reflected a complete disconnect between the government and the governed, a lack of trust and a lack of faith that this administration — or any other — can deliver on such a proposal……

In an intriguing interview in September, Weatherill suggested his “courage” in tackling risky reform would be rewarded at the ballot box………

In the end, the most tangible upshot of the millions of dollars and thousands of hours spent on the question of a prospective high-level nuclear waste dump could be that the federal government’s comparatively uncontroversial low-to-medium-level repository is quietly green-lit.

In other words, the Government’s grandest achievement will have been to help allow something that it successfully blocked 12 years ago. (Incidentally, blocking it back in 2004 was also regarded as its grandest achievement at the time.)

The citizens’ jury has exposed a fatal flaw of the Weatherill administration’s brand right now. Like the nuclear waste on which it has staked its future, it is both toxic and heading for a deep hole.

Weatherill has shown himself deft at extricating himself from such situations in the past, but with little more than a year before he faces the polls he is haunted by a prophesy of his own creation.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” he warned us…And two years on, he couldn’t have been more right…….

November 8, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Letter seeking Radiological Monitoring Data to Minister Ian Hunter

November 8, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Dissociated State: The Exclusion of Aboriginal People by South Australian Authorities

November 8, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Swelling Decommissioning Costs, Who’s Gonna Pay

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

The 2016 road report points to inflated decommissioning costs.
Three reactor meltdowns to be decommissioned,
an unprecedented task in the world.
It’s a long journey, to continue to record the series
“The road to decommissioning”.

Five years and half years have passed since the disaster at the Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, among the many technical difficulties, the removal of nuclear fuel remains a challenge.

As the disaster costs keep on rising more than expected, it is becoming extremely difficult to to finance them under the current system.

Not just the increase in labor costs and technology development costs, and the cost of decontamination to enable the residents return, but also the compensation costs, all are significant. Therefore the current « system » to finance those costs has hit a wall.

TEPCO recently complained of the severity of the burden, it seeked from the country a policy to…

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November 8, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate change is intergenerational theft. #auspol


By Naomi Klein.

Climate change is intergenerational theft. That’s why my son is part of this story.

The short film I’ve made with the Guardian stars my son, Toma, aged four years and five months. That’s a little scary for me to write, since, up until this moment, my husband, Avi, and I have been pretty careful about protecting him from public exposure. No matter how damn cute we think he’s being, absolutely no tweeting is allowed.
So I want to explain how I decided to introduce him to you in this very public way.
For the past eight years, I have been writing and speaking about climate change pretty much around the clock. I use all the communication tools I can — books, articles, feature documentary, photographs, lectures.
Yet I still struggle with a nagging feeling that I’m not doing justice to the enormous stakes of this threat. The…

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November 8, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan’s New Utilities Object to Footing Part of Fukushima Bill

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs


TOKYO — Japanese independent power providers are up in arms over a government proposal to have them shoulder some costs related to the fallout of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, including compensating victims and decommissioning old reactors.

“Why should we have to pick up compensation costs for Tepco’s accident?” fumed a top official at a company selling electricity in the Tokyo area, referring to Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings.

Given the narrow profit margins involved in power retailing, new suppliers will likely pass these costs on to customers. More than half a year on from the full liberalization of Japan’s electricity retail market, just 3% or so of households have switched to independent power providers from big regional utilities that had monopolized the market. Some observers worry that forcing newcomers to take on some of the nuclear costs could further slow the glacial pace of the market expansion by taking away…

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November 8, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Premier Jay Weatherill’s political future on the line?

Where to now, for Premier Weatherill’s nuclear dream? Online Opinion, Noel Wauchope 8 Nov 16    On November 6th, to the surprise of all, South Australia’s Nuclear Citizens Jury came up with a report that overwhelmingly rejected the government’s plan for importing and storing high level nuclear waste. Over four days of witness hearings, and deliberations, the 350 members of the jury were tasked with producing an answer to this question:

Under what circumstances, if any, could South Australia pursue the opportunity to store and dispose of nuclear waste from other countries?

The jury’s answer:

Under no circumstances should South Australia pursue opportunity to store and dispose of nuclear waste from other countries for reasons of consent, economics, trust and safety.

An over-riding consideration was the lack of Aboriginal consent:……..

Weatherill nuclear dreamThe Jury strongly recommends that there be no further amendment to the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act at this time.

Many in the Jury felt strongly that if the nuclear waste proposal is to go ahead no further public money should be spent at this time. Any further analysis should be conducted and funded by key players within the industry.

Weakening or repealing this law is the first goal in the nuclear lobby’s plan set out in the report by Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission South Australia.

The jury was critical of the “Perceived lack of objectivity of Royal Commission Report”…….

A “yes” result might have been problematic, drawing national attention to this extraordinary plan to make Australia be the first country on the planet to invite in the world’s radioactive trash.

But a “No” vote – nobody expected that, and you could see by Weatherill’s rather fixed and strained smile on receiving the report, that it is causing some angst in the government. And no doubt, in the nuclear camp in general.

However, one can be sure that they will quickly regroup, and refresh their campaign. Premier Weatherill made it clear that the discussion will continue…….

everyone seems to agree that the Jury’s report is at least a “setback” for the nuclear waste plan, as the Financial Review describes it. It also raises questions about Premier Weatherill’s political future. Weatherill has been praised as an example of political courage. Weatherill prides himself on taking risks.

macbethHe could decide to cut the losses to the State, and pull out from the plan now. Perhaps Weatherill has invested too much energy and involvement with the nuclear lobby, to take such a step. As Macbeth said, when considering stopping his ambitious but dangerous cause – “”I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er,”

November 8, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment