Australian news, and some related international items

From Australian nuclear archives – lest we forget – theme for December 2016

text-from-the-archivesFor December 2016, this website will be republishing significant articles from past issues. Historic articles are interesting in themselves, but more importantly, give insight into current problems in Australia.


Aboriginal history – and what the global nuclear industry has done to Aboriginal people is the most important issue in Australia.

It is not, however, the only issue.  The effects of the nuclear industry, in particular, of uranium mining, have not only permanently trashed some land, and threatened precious water, but have also impacted on health of white Australians , as well as black.

In Australian politics, there has been a sorry history of kow towing to the British government and nuclear industry, and to the American.

So called “Australian” companies e.g BHP Billiton ( 75% English owned) and Heathgate  (owned by USA weapons maker General Atomics) portray the false idea that nuclear is an Australian industry.

Australia had a proud history of promoting nuclear disarmament – trashed more recently in its readiness to sell uranium to India ( non signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty) and to Ukraine – a corruption basket case).


November 23, 2016 Posted by | Christina themes, history | Leave a comment

Michael West casts a satirical searchlight on South Australia’s nuclear waste import plan

“By removing this tricky “back end problem” of where to store the waste Australian taxpayers can really assist foreign investors to make more money”

It’s not simply a matter however of digging a best-of-breed hole with the taxpayer bearing 100 per cent of the cost – and sanctioned by a cost-benefit analysis focused on benefits but not costs.

The nuclear dump proposal probably couldn’t have got where it is today without the helpful influence of UCL Australia, the “international campus” of the University College London, which is located in Adelaide.

This university campus was started in 2008 with helpful funding from BHP (Olympic Dam – the world’s largest known deposit of uranium in South Australia) and Santos.

west-michaelVisit Australia, home of the world’s nuclear waste dump!  “Come visit Australia, home of the world’s nuclear waste dump!”

It’s got a ring about it, no doubt about that. Imagine the tourism potential, imagine the premium prices our agricultural produce would fetch! We would be the envy of the global community. Yet this visionary proposal by South Australian premier Jay Weatherill is being white-anted, shot down by naysayers, people who have little understanding of the benefits of hosting the world’s high-level nuclear waste.

Thankfully Rupert Murdoch’s quality newspaper, The Adelaide Advertiser, has thrown its wisdom and authority behind the shrewd plan for the state’s glowing future.

There is still some conjuring of consent to be done though. Despite the Premier and his crack cabinet holding a Royal Commission which recommended the waste dump; and despite expert’s advice in the guise of the Jacobs report, the naysayers have kept their dastardly campaign afoot.

They even alleged this Jacobs report was somehow lacking in independence just because it was written by paid advocates of the nuclear industry. Continue reading

November 23, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia queries Nathan Paine’s statement

Steve Dale to Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, 22 Nov 16  Nathan Paine has been engaged by AREVA as a consultant. In his recent article for the Advertiser he mentioned: “ may not have been publicly stated but global companies like AREVA, Posiva and others from North America were radioactive trashalready starting to look at investing in South Australia.”

Two things from this statement: First, I wonder whether the “others” included Jacobs, and second, whether Posiva are looking for a cheap dump-and-run option for its own waste in South Australia – their “mock-up” of a nuclear dump might be proving too expensive to turn into a reality.

November 23, 2016 Posted by | South Australia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobbyist Nathan Paine rubbishes the economic experts who informed South Austraslia’s Nuclear Royal Commission

Nathan Paine: Yet again South Australia throws the opportunity to have a sensible debate about a big, contentious issue under the bus Nathan Paine, The AdvertiserNovember 21, 2016 AS a business person and proud South Australian, it appears to me that we have once again seen the opportunity to have a sensible debate about big, contentious issues get thrown under the bus in favour of the appeasement of a vocal minority. I am of course talking about the nuclear waste debate cum debacle……


there are people with economics degrees opposed to the proposal and holding themselves out as experts to the Jury.

I personally prefer to consider the facts.

The simple facts are that there are countries which have nuclear waste in short and medium term repositories for which there are large sums of money already held in trust for the long term management of the waste…..

As a consultant engaged by AREVA, one of the world’s biggest nuclear energy companies, I have been fortunate to visit Finland, France and England to tour their facilities and meet the experts on the systems and industry.

Having met and talked with the experts, there was a common consensus that there is a significant opportunity for South Australia.

It has been said by the Jury and others that if this such a good idea, why is industry not supporting it — it may not have been publicly stated but global companies like AREVA, Posiva and others from North America were already starting to look at investing in South Australia.

Yes, the business case is full of assumptions and the next step would have been to prove up those assumptions and secure MOUs with potential customers…..

We must not allow the debate to wither and die on the political vine rather let’s take breath, check the numbers and if they stack up continue the discussion.

November 23, 2016 Posted by | South Australia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Western Australia Labor, likely to win State election, opposes all new uranium projects

see-this.wayMixed prospects for the WA uranium industry 21 November 2016 8:35AM (view full episode)
There are four proposed uranium mines in Western Australia, but none are currently operational.
Some are still waiting on an approvals, and all are grappling with an historically low uranium price.
The fledgling industry is also bracing for the potential election of a WA Labor government, which has vowed to oppose all new uranium projects in the state.

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar thermal plant is the best solution for Port Augusta

solar-concentrated-thermalPort Augusta can show the world what just transition for workers looks like Sharan Burrow
A solar thermal plant in Port Augusta is the best fit for providing both jobs and clean energy. It only needs political will to work  P
ort Augusta, a country town of 14,000 people in South Australia, could have been a perfect example. For 68 years, coal-fired power stations and the local mines generated jobs for 400 workers and provided power for South Australia.

This is the story of a community, its power station workers and their union taking their plan for jobs and solar thermal power to state and federal government, and to global energy giants in France and the United States, demanding a just transition for the people of Port Augusta, demanding a zero carbon future for people everywhere.

The coal-fired power station was on borrowed time. Worried about air quality and environmental health, the community looked for alternative plans for energy, industry and jobs.

Five years of work – during which all options were considered – resulted in a decision that a solar thermal plant was the best fit for both a clean energy base and for skills transfer for existing energy workers.

A feasibility study and three companies interested in constructing this renewable alternative added further cause for optimism.

Even the political support appeared to line up, a promise of funding support before a national election, state government support, and a local mayor backing in his community and workers and their unions with environmental activists singing in tune.

For a moment, Port Augusta held its breath. The plan was in place. A source of energy that would allow workers to transfer from the defunct coal-fired power station. A company willing to build, the community behind it, the workers having hope for a future.

So why are they still waiting?

The missing ingredient is a shared sense of urgency to get the job done, leaving the community and governments out-manoeuvred by corporate greed.

The power station owner, Alinta, deserted its workers and the community in a shocking decision to close years ahead of public commitments. More than 250 workers are potentially stranded.

A dishonest company is nothing new; a company that takes no responsibility for the community from which they have drawn a loyal workforce that made their profits for them is sadly a global tale but where is the rescue team?

A standoff on what comes first, a contract or investment security, seems to be the villain. A standoff between layers of government with a missing procurement contract for purchasing energy from the company willing to invest in the solar thermal plant and a start-up clean tech grant.

November 23, 2016 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Carolina alarm at receiving radioactive wastes from a Canadian nuclear research reactor

“We are concerned that DOE is planning to bring more HEU-related waste to SRS over the coming years, with no plan for their removal from South Carolina and without the public being properly informed about these waste-imports and long-term storage and disposition plans,”

antnuke-relevantShipments of nuclear material to Savannah River Site could continue By Thomas Gardiner Nov 18, 2016 

Spent fuel from a research reactor at the University of Alberta in Canada could soon be en route to South Carolina’s Savannah River Site.

According to documentation provided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, shipping casks for the transfer are being reviewed and a planned shipping route has been approved.

The exact route through the U.S. begins at the Sweet Grass, Montana, border crossing, and ends near Aiken County at the Savannah River Site. According to Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson Roger Hannah, actual routes are not publicized because of security concerns. However, the journey from Sweet Grass to Aiken County is close to 2,300 miles along major U.S. highways, depending on which cities the route goes through.

The spent fuel is U.S.-origin, highly-enriched uranium. It was used for research in a reactor called a “safe low-power kritical experiment,” or SLOWPOKE reactor. In the documents related to the shipping cask review, the SLOWPOKE reactor core is also included in the review.

The Department of Energy has shipped SLOWPOKE reactor cores in the past, with one now residing at Savannah River Site’s L-Basin.

Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch, said in a release, “In September 2015, a SLOWPOKE core was shipped from Jamaica to SRS, where it is now stored with no long-term disposition plans.”

The new material also would be destined for L-Basin. However, with the scrapped Yucca Mountain project and the backlogged waste isolation pilot plant, or WIPP, it is unclear what pathway exists to get the material back out of South Carolina. In multiple conversations about nuclear material coming into the Palmetto State, Gov. Nikki Haley has repeatedly said she refuses to let South Carolina becoming a nuclear dumping ground.

“We believe it is prudent to halt to shipment of HEU-bearing waste to SRS until such time as a plan is presented for removal of such waste from the site,” Clements said.

“We are concerned that DOE is planning to bring more HEU-related waste to SRS over the coming years, with no plan for their removal from South Carolina and without the public being properly informed about these waste-imports and long-term storage and disposition plans,” he said.

According to NRC documents, cask approval could come in March 2017. If that approval is issued, the material could hit the road in 2018. That timeline matches up with presentation given to the Citizens Advisory Board early this year, that showed shipments from Alberta, Canada, expected in 2018.

The route was approved Nov. 9 and won’t expire until Dec. 31, 2021.

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stranded nuclear waste: America’s nuclear hot potato

“The costs associated with rehabilitating WIPP – the only underground nuclear waste repository in the country – have ballooned since 2014.”

whatever method proves the most advantageous in the US, site selection will be an essential and hard-to-navigate obstacle to overcome if the country is ever going to face up to a nuclear waste backlog that is getting longer every year.



Why doesn’t anyone ever suggest just stopping making the stuff?



strandedWaste storage: America’s nuclear hot potato  A 2014 leak at a nuclear waste repository in New Mexico has raised far-reaching questions about long-term storage in the US. On top of the political and economic fallout from the incident, it has reignited the debate about finding a permanent storage site for commercial nuclear waste, a problem that looks no closer to a solution than it did 30 years ago. Power Technology by Chris Lo, 21 Nov 16, 

In February 2014, an incident occurred at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico when a 55-gallon drum containing radioactive waste popped its lid, contaminating 3,000ft of underground tunnels at the facility before rising through the exhaust shaft to escape in small quantities into the surrounding desert. The culprit, it was later discovered, was cat litter. The litter was used by the Los Alamos National Laboratory to seal a drum before sending it on to WIPP for storage. The organic absorbent – with which concerns had previously been raised – reacted violently with the nitrates in the waste and caused the leak.

While the US Department of Energy (DOE) was quick to downplay the immediate risks the leak posed to plant workers and nearby communities, the long-term ramifications of the incident – both in terms of direct consequences and wider implications – have added salt to the open wound that is America’s ongoing nuclear waste storage issue.

The plant, which has been used as a long-term storage site for transuranic radioactive waste from US nuclear weapons research and production since 1999, is not scheduled to resume full operations until 2021. The political and economic fallout from the incident could last much longer, with significant knock-on effects for the nation’s fleet of commercial nuclear plants. Continue reading

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anti-uranium crusaders win top conservation award 

Kalgoorlie Miner (print only 23rd Nov 2016) 
handsoffThe David-versus-Goliath battle of two Leonora women against uranium mining has been recognised, with the pair becoming the first Aboriginal recipients of the State’s top conservation award. Shirley and Elizabeth Wonyabong received the Bessie Rischbieth Conservation Award at a Conservation Council of WA ceremony in West Perth at the weekend.

Shirley and Elizabeth had, during 46 years of resisting uranium mining proposals, displayed “outstanding qualities of courage, integrity, perseverance and commitment” in challenging government and non-government decision-makers, Conservation Council of WA executive director Piers Verstegen said. For the past six years they had been leading people through country on Walkatjura Walkabout to stop a mine being started at Yeelirrie.

November 23, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Opposition to nuclear, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Earthquake reinforces Japan’s anxieties about nuclear power plants

“I think we expect more of such readjusting plate movements and that has been reasonably predicted, and many volcanic activity and earthquakes have been rampant over the last five years,” said Mr. Kurokawa, an adjunct professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies. “So why are we continuing to restart nuclear plants?”

New Quake Tests Resilience, and Faith, in Japan’s Nuclear Plants, NYT,  NOV. 22, 2016 TOKYO — There was no avoiding fearful memories of the Japanese nuclear disaster of 2011 on Tuesday morning after  a powerful earthquake off the coast of Fukushima caused a cooling system in a nuclear plant to stop, leaving more than 2,500 spent uranium fuel rods at risk of overheating………

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Missy Higgins urges us all – read Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything”

Missy Higgins: how an obsession with apocalyptic climate fiction changed my life
The singer reveals what Emily St John Mandel, James Bradley and Naomi Klein taught her about facing the future,
Guardian, Missy Higgins, 22 Nov 16, 

“……….One day, Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything entered my periphery and something twigged. I realised all the post-apocalyptic cli-fi books had led me to this moment. Enough of the fiction. Enough of the hinting. If the world was going to end, I wanted to read the facts. Hit me in the face with them, fuck it, let’s do this.

Well, This Changes Everything did just that. If you do nothing else, just read the introduction to this most terrifying of apocalyptic non-fiction books. To learn that the very thing that drives our culture – profit and growth – is the very thing that is going to kill us was more terrifying than any flu pandemic story I’d read thus far.


That at the root of our problem is possibly who we are as a species seemed more hopeless and paralysing than any zombie apocalypse. Then, when Klein spoke about the very real prospect of our children having to battle serious environmental collapse in their lifetime, I just fell apart.

The creature inside me was thrashing about. “What have I done?” There my son was, glowing in all his angelic innocence, playing with the product of this sick, disposable dream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to collapse down to my knees, hold him and tell him I was sorry. That I didn’t know what the future held and I was scared. So scared. But instead, I watched him in all his wonder, in his blissful little bubble and I stayed there. If only for a sweet, sweet moment, I stayed there and I forgot…..

November 23, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

South Africa delays uneconomic nuclear power plans

scrutiny-on-costsflag-S.AfricaGovernment delays nuclear plant plans as economy stagnates, Mail and Guardian, 22 Nov 2016 Mike CohenPaul Vecchiatto  South Africa delayed plans to build new nuclear power plants over concern about their cost and the waning demand for additional electricity as economic growth stalls.

Under a new timeline, the first nuclear power is expected to come on stream in 2037, with a total 20 385 megawatts of nuclear energy added to the national grid by 2050, according to the “base case” scenario outlined in a presentation about the department of energy’s updated Integrated Resources Plan. The proposal, released in Cape Town on Tuesday, also estimates as additional 37 400 MW of power from wind, 17 600 MW from solar plants, 35 292 MW from gas and 15 000 MW from coal by 2050.

  The government previously said it wanted to generate 9 600 MW of energy from as many as eight reactors that should begin operating from 2023 and be completed by 2029. Price estimates had ranged from $37-billion to $100-billion. Although President Jacob Zuma has championed the nuclear programme, the treasury has cautioned that the country may be unable to afford new reactors at a time when the economy is barely growing and the budget deficit needs to be curbed to fend off a junk credit rating.

“Gas and renewables [will] form the biggest chunk of installed capacity by 2050,” the department of energy said in the presentation. “There is significant reduction in installed capacity from coal……..

Power cuts
The energy plan will be refined in March next year and then submitted to Cabinet for final sign-off.

Eskom, the state-owned utility, has said it could use the more than R150-billion it will accumulate in reserves within 10 years to build new reactors. The utility operates Africa’s only nuclear power plant — the 1 800 MW Koeberg facility near Cape Town, which began operating in 1984.

Rosatom, Areva SA, EDF SA, Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric unit, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corp and Korea Electric Power Corp previously expressed interest in building new reactors in South Africa…..

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vietnam formally scraps nuclear power plans as not economically viable

scrutiny-on-costsVietnam Formally Scraps Plans for First Nuclear Power Plants , 22 Nov 16 HANOI — Vietnam’s legislature on Tuesday endorsed the government’s decision to scrap plans to build the country’s first two nuclear power plants.

A statement from the government announcing the endorsement said cheaper renewable energy and power imports were available and that investment should be made in more urgent infrastructure needs.

The National Assembly in 2009 approved plans to build two nuclear power plants with combined capacity of 4,000 megawatts. Construction contracts had been awarded to companies from Russia and Japan.

Construction was initially scheduled to start in 2014 but was delayed several times.

State media have reported that the nuclear power plants were not economically viable because of cheaper sources of power and that the costs of the plants had doubled to $18 billion.

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scientists alarmed by ‘Extraordinarily hot’ Arctic temperatures

‘Extraordinarily hot’ Arctic temperatures alarm scientists Danish and US researchers say warmer air and sea surface could lead to record lows of sea ice at north pole next year, Guardian, , 22 Nov 16  The Arctic is experiencing extraordinarily hot sea surface and air temperatures, which are stopping ice forming and could lead to record lows of sea ice at the north pole next year, according to scientists.


Danish and US researchers monitoring satellites and Arctic weather stations are surprised and alarmed by air temperatures peaking at what they say is an unheard-of 20C higher than normal for the time of year. In addition, sea temperatures averaging nearly 4C higher than usual in October and November.

“It’s been about 20C warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia. This is unprecedented for November,” said research professor Jennifer Francis of Rutgers university.

Temperatures have been only a few degrees above freezing when -25C should be expected, according to Francis. “These temperatures are literally off the charts for where they should be at this time of year. It is pretty shocking. The Arctic has been breaking records all year. It is exciting but also scary,” she said…….

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Derek Abbott’s Thought For The Day – wasting South Australia’s funds on nuclear waste

abbott-derekDerek Abbott to Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, 22 Nov 16   Thought for the day: A nuclear dump is a rather enormous investment for something so risky and contentious. To go down that path represents an opportunity cost: the missed opportunity for putting that same investment elsewhere in ventures with less risk, better payoff, and with zero contentiousness.

Jay’s approach was flawed from the outset. It presented the public with one single risky business case, without any context of what other business directions the State might be well suited for and what we are good at doing.

To raise a nuclear dump scheme out of vacuum is a non-starter. If Jay wants true democracy and true public engagement, then why not appoint a panel of 350 members of the public to listen to experts on the South Australian economy in general and brainstorm ideas for the future? Let the ideas come from within that build upon on South Australia’s known strengths and talents. Engage us in finding the idea in the first place. Do not take one single-minded idea and thrust it upon us, as that isn’t really considering the bigger picture and taking into account the opportunity cost.

Imposing a single poorly contextualised idea upon us and spending $13 million of our money on trying very hard to convince us is not democracy. It’s called lobbying and manipulating the public.

November 23, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment