I don’t know which is the worst news this week – climate or nuclear. But I am going away for a week on a boat, WITH NO ACCESS TO ANYTHING DIGITAL. I can’t wait. I’m taking one of those old things we all used to use – A BOOK.
But I digress:
CLIMATE. I hardly know where to start. I think that the worst thing is connected with the collapse of journalism – as articles appear denouncing climate scientists as “frauds”. This, despite the 97 percent scientific consensus on climate change.
NUCLEAR. Remarkable apathy prevails, as nuclear weapons tensions hot up.
CLIMATE and ENERGY
Fossil fuel generators, not renewables, are to blame for high electricity prices. Australian Energy Council warns on likely electricity problems in New South Wales. Australian Energy Market Operator now confident of wind power security in South Australia. Queensland govt will back renewable energy, not new coal-fired power stations.
Powershop electricity customers funding community renewable energy.
Western Australian Greens propose solar battery rebate scheme.
NUCLEAR A responsible global citizen would not sell uranium to Ukraine.
Western Australia.Ruling in favour of challenge against Noongar Indigenous land use agreement may lead to amendment of Native Title Act.
A bunch of American billionaires is trying to save the astronomically expensive nuclear industry – by getting taxpayers to pay for even more astronomically costly “little new nukes”.
Meanwhile in China, France UK, South Korea – and even in America, governments are desperately propping up the super costly “big old nukes’ .
In a world where charlatan Donald Trump can become USA President – the nuclear salesmen might well think that any fraud can be perpetrated on the public.
But not for long.
The genuinely clean energy transition is under way world-wide, and becoming ever cheaper.
The “peaceful” nuclear industry is intrinsically linked to the multi #billion nuclear weapons industry. Yet even the nuclear weapons industry is under threat, with the coming UN nuclear disarmament conference.
Even if concern for the public good does not stop the toxic nuclear industry – the unaffordable economic costs eventually will
It is extraordinary that some French wine producers are accompanying the Australian and French nuclear promoters spruiking the benefits of nuclear waste dumping to the community in the Barndioota region of South Australia. Not only are many vital questions unanswered as ENuFF SA (Everyone for a Nuclear Free Future SA) has shown, but this propaganda campaign completely ignores both the opposition to nuclear waste dumping, in France and the radioactive danger to France’s Champagne vineyards
“The Champagne producers are facing two nuclear timebombs – one already leaking at Soulaine, and one planned at Bure. The wine producers in the Rhone region stood up to the nuclear state in France and won. The Champagne region needs to act fast before it’s too late,” said Fred Marillier of Greenpeace France. “The French Government must stop this madness. The new facility must not accept any more waste, and an immediate investigation launched into how to stop further contamination of ground water.”
Radioactive waste leaking into Champagne Water Supply, Levels set to rise warns Greenpeace, Greenpeace 30 May, 2006 Greenpeace today revealed that France’s iconic sparkling wine, Champagne, is threatened by radioactive contamination leaking from a nuclear waste dumpsite in the region. Low levels of radioactivity have already been found in underground water less than 10 km from the famous Champagne vineyards.
Problems at the dumpsite, including water migration leading to fissures in the storage cells have been reported to French nuclear safety agency in recent weeks (1). Greenpeace has written to the Comita des Producteur de Champagne to warn them that their production risks contamination, as experienced by dairy farmers in la Hague, Normandy.
The waste dump, Centre Stockage l’Aube (CSA) in Soulaine eastern France, contains mostly waste from Electricite de France (EdF) and AREVA, but also includes foreign nuclear waste disposed of illegally under French law (2). Every week nuclear waste is trucked across France to the Champagne site. Once full, the dumpsite will be one of the world’s largest with over 1 million cubic meters of waste, including plutonium and other radionuclides.
ANDRA, the national nuclear waste agency operating the site, stated that it would not release any radioactivity into the environment when given permission for the dumpsite in the late 1980’s. Greenpeace research released last week showed levels of radioactivity leaking from another dumpsite run by ANDRA in Normandy were up to 90 times above European safety limits in underground water used by farmers, and that the contamination was spreading into the countryside Continue reading
To ANSTO, ARPANSA & the DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRY, INNOVATION and SCIENCE
From ENuFF SA (Everyone for a Nuclear Free Future SA) , Pt. Augusta February 8, 2017
We would like some straight answers to the following questions:
The current National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) is the third attempt in a decade to locate a site for a national radioactive waste dump:
Question: Are any designs for a dump planned? The last shipment of nuclear waste returned to Australia following reprocessing in France, in late 2015. It was categorised by the French authorities as high-level waste (HLW). The SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report (May 2016) states on page 95 that reprocessed waste is high level. But ANSTO classifies this highly hazardous material as intermediate-level waste (ILW).
Question: Why do the Australian agencies responsible for nuclear waste mislead the public about radiation levels?
Question: Why is spent fuel from both the retired HIFAR and currently operating OPAL reactor not classified HLW? Is it the only spent fuel in the world to be classified ILW?
Question: Would ANSTO explain how the radioisotopes in spent fuel from its research reactors differ from that of nuclear power reactors? When nuclear waste is reprocessed, waste from other countries is mixed together in the reprocessing liquor. Returning material would, therefore, come from other reactors in France (or the UK) or other client country’s reactors, as well as Australia’s.
Question: When will this be explained to the public? Reprocessing of spent fuel cannot remove ALL of the fissile material: Plutonium and Uranium.
Question: Why, then, does information provided by ANSTO state that there is no fissile material remaining in the returned reprocessed waste? And, when will the agency correct this misinformation?
Question: For how long is spent fuel stored at Lucas Heights before transporting it overseas?
Question: What quantity of spent fuel is currently stored at Lucas Heights, and how is it stored?
Question: Is it the case that the Lucas Heights facility holds about 50% of Australia’s nuclear waste, the remainder being held by the Defence Department and CSIRO?
Question: Therefore, where is it intended to dispose of the remainder of Australia’s waste not currently held at Lucas Heights?
Question: What type of research is conducted at the Lucas Heights OPAL reactor?
Question: Is food irradiation occurring in Australia?
ANSTO plans a significant increase in its production of medical isotopes (in particular Molybdenum-99 MO- 99) at the OPAL reactor.
Question: When will ANSTO, and other agencies, explain how much the OPAL waste stream would grow as a result of this production of isotopes for export to other countries? ANSTO is reported to be planning to build a Synroc facility.
Question: Where would a Synroc facility be located; at Lucas Heights or elsewhere?
Question: Does such a project indicate that Australia would no longer transport spent fuel overseas forreprocessing? Or, is it for repackaging already returned reprocessed waste?
Question: When will ANSTO, ARPANSA and the Department of Industry etc. clarify exactly what waste isplanned for permanent disposal at a proposed NRWMF and what is planned for storage at such a facility?
Question: Furthermore, when will ANSTO et al clarify for how long any stored waste would be locatedat, or nearby, such a facility?
Question: Are licences for disposal/storage of any of the national waste time-limited or not? (e.g. 100, 1,000 or 10,000 years)
Question: Will ANSTO and ARPANSA or the government explain to the SA people, particularly those in the Flinders Ranges and Eyre Peninsular, that the community nearby Lucas Heights, when consulted, rejected permanent disposal of waste at that site?
Question: Do the agencies responsible for the nation’s radioactive waste not agree that it is a pointless and unnecessarily hazardous exercise to transport HLW (called ILW in Australia) to temporarily store it for up to 100 years, when it could remain at its present site?
To relocate this waste for an indefinite period is the height of irresponsibility when the Regulatory Guide for Licensing a Radioactive Waste Storage and Disposal Facility (ARPANSA) states that such waste, “must not be less than 10,000 years for disposal of ILW.”
STOP PRODUCING THE WASTE, THEN WE WILL TALK ABOUT DISPOSAL
Flamanville plant in northern France has been hit by a massive explosion Staff writers, news.com.au News Corp Australia Network 9 Feb 17 AN EXPLOSION at a nuclear power plant on France’s northwest coast on Thursday caused minor injuries, but the authorities said there was no risk of radiation.
The blast occurred in the engine room at the Flamanville plant, which lies 25 kilometres west of the port of Cherbourg and just across from the Channel Islands. “It is a technical incident. It is not a nuclear accident,” senior local official Jacques Witkowski said. He said a ventilator had exploded outside the nuclear zone at the plant, which has been in operation since the 1980s and is operated by state-controlled energy giant EDF.
“It’s all over. The emergency teams are leaving,” Mr Witkowski said.Five people suffered smoke inhalation but there were no serious injuries, Mr Witkowski said.
One of the two pressurised water reactors at the plant was shut down after the explosion and the incident was declared over at 1100 GMT (10pm AEDT), the authorities said.
The two 1300 megawatt reactors have been in service since 1985 and 1986, and the site currently employs 810 people, along with an additional 350 subcontractors.
A new third-generation reactor known as EPR is being built at Flamanville, which will be the world’s largest when it goes into operation in late 2018.
“Explosions in turbines, usually related to oil in bearings overheating, are not uncommon and occur from time to time in conventional coal, oil or gas plants,” said Barry Marsden, a professor of nuclear graphite technology at the University of Manchester.
But Neil Hyatt, a professor of radioactive waste management at Sheffiled University said the incident should not be taken lightly.
“Any incident of this kind at a nuclear power plant is very serious, and the national and international regulators will want to undertake a thorough investigation to understand the cause and lessons to be learned,” he said.
Construction of the new reactor at Flamanville began in 2007 and was initially due for completion in 2012 but has been delayed several times, and its initial budget has more than tripled, to 10.5 billion euros ($11.2 billion)…….http://www.news.com.au/world/europe/flamanville-plant-in-northern-france-has-been-hit-by-a-massive-explosion/news-story/28f0f083f4850f3289939ed489f56c95
SA power cuts: Nuclear energy should be considered as solution, state Liberals say, ABC News 9 Feb 17 Despite opposing a high-level nuclear waste dump in South Australia, state Liberal leader Steven Marshall is now proposing nuclear power as a potential solution to the state’s energy reliability issues….
A citizens’ jury rejected high-level nuclear waste storage in November, prompting Mr Marshall to declare plans of “turning South Australia into a nuclear waste dump” were “now dead”. But today he said that did not mean he or his party were against the production of high-level nuclear waste in South Australia, via nuclear energy generation.
“We’ve never ruled out the nuclear opportunity for energy. We made it very clear that we were not in the slightest bit interested in continuing to pour money into the hopeless case which was a nuclear repository in South Australia,” he said.
“The royal commissioner ruled out nuclear energy in South Australia but there will be a time when it may become viable, and desperate times call for desperate solutions, and we are in a desperate situation.”
Mr Marshall denied the policy was hypocritical, but did not offer an explanation as to what would become of the highly radioactive spent fuel rods if a nuclear reactor was built in South Australia….. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-09/sa-power-cuts-could-be-solved-by-nuclear-energy-say-liberals/8256814
The number of high-priced events in Queensland so far this year are 40 (yes, forty) times more common than in renewables-strong South Australia. Did we hear a peep of protest from the Coalition about this? No.
There is no doubt that more renewables, and more competition, will reduce that pricing power. That is a given.
But the Coalition and many in the mainstream media simply don’t want to know. They have barely reported on the high-priced events in Queensland and NSW, or on the real cause of those events in South Australia.
They don’t want to know: politics and ideology are at play.
High energy prices? Blame fossil fuel generators, not renewables, REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson on 8 February 2017 It seems that you can ask the Coalition government a question about pretty much anything – plunging polls, Donald Trump, Cory Bernardi or even the weather – and the answer will always be the same: “We’re focused on electricity prices.”
Great. But what exactly is the Coalition doing about it? On the evidence to date, not a whole lot, apart from blaming renewables for soaring wholesale electricity costs and promoting something called “clean coal,” despite all the evidence pointing to the fact that coal generation it is not very clean, and not cheap.
They are chasing the wrong target. Australia has experienced some extraordinary high wholesale electricity prices this summer, and most of these price surges have come in states with little large-scale wind or solar.
It is the activities of the fossil fuel generators that are to blame. This is about competition, or the lack of it, and the fossil fuel generators have been going to extraordinary lengths to get rid of competition.
The Australian Energy Regulator has been investigating more than half a dozen “high priced” events, as it is required to do when prices jump above $5,000/MWh. Some of the reports it has already completed make astonishing reading. Continue reading
SA power woes to spread nation-wide, starting with Victoria, Australian Energy Council warns, ABC News 9 Feb 17 By Claire Campbell The Federal Government needs to take urgent action to improve its energy policies before the rest of Australia falls victim to the type of large-scale blackouts experienced in South Australia, the Australian Energy Council has warned.
About 90,000 South Australian homes and businesses were blacked out Wednesday when the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) issued a load-shedding order to avoid potential damage to the network equipment due to supply deficiency.
It asked for more power generators to be switched on but did not receive “sufficient bids” and said it did not have enough time to turn on the second unit at Pelican Point. AEC chief executive officer Matthew Warren said there was no shortage of electrons and available power, but it was not dispatched when required.
He said the entire nation’s system needed upgrading quickly because energy reliability was not just a state issue…….
AEMO has warned that load-shedding is possible in New South Wales on Friday. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-09/sa-power-woes-to-spread-through-rest-of-australia-aec-warns/8257032
Fortunately, there is a bit of good news in his heap of radioactivity. Last November, a settlement was reached between the US Department of Justice, Bechtel Corp. and AECOM (formerly URS) for a whopping $125 million. The civil lawsuit alleged taxpayer funds were mismanaged and that both companies performed shoddy work. The lawsuit also claimed that government funds were illegally used to lobby members of Congress. Brought on by whistleblowers Gary Brunson, Donna Busche, and Walter Tamosaitis (Busche and Tamosaitis’s sagas were highlighted in two Investigative Fund reports I authored for Seattle Weekly in 2011 and 2012), the settlement was one of the largest in DoE history.
No doubt it was a substantial victory for whistleblowers and government accountability, despite the fact that the defendants did not admit guilt. Now, Washington State legislators are pushing HB 1723, a bill that would protect and treat Hanford workers for certain health problems that are a result of the work they’ve done at the facility, such as respiratory problems, heart issues, certain cancers like bone, breast, lung and thyroid, as well as neurological issues.
Good News and Bad News at Hanford, America’s Most Polluted Site http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/09/good-news-and-bad-news-at-hanford-americas-most-polluted-site/FEBRUARY 9, 2017“The people running Hanford need to have a moral compass that directs them in the right way, as human beings, to do the right thing to protect these people,” retired Hanford employee Mike Geffre, who worked at Hanford for 26 years, told KING 5. “They’re trying to save money and save face. They’re standing behind their old position that there’s no problem. That’s absurd. They need to accept the fact that they made mistakes and get over it.”
Toxic odors at an old nuclear depot? This would be startling news anywhere else. But this is Hanford after all, where taxpayer money freely flows to contractors despite the snail-paced half-life of their work. Twenty years and $19 billion later, Hanford is still a nightmare — likely the most toxic site in the Western Hemisphere. Not one ounce of nuclear waste has ever been treated, and there are no indications Hanford will be nuke free anytime soon. To date, at least 1 million gallons of radioactive waste has leaked and is making its way to the Columbia River. It’s an environmental disaster of epic proportions — a disaster created by our government’s atomic obsession during the Cold War era.
No doubt, Hanford is a wreck in search of a remedy, yet the costs covered by American taxpayers appears to be growing exponentially. Continue reading
Heatwaves to be hotter, longer and more frequent, climate change report says, ABC News 9 Feb 17 By Lexy Hamilton-Smith Heatwaves are becoming hotter, lasting longer and occurring more often, the Climate Council’s latest report card on climate change says.
The Cranking Up The Intensity: Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events report has found 2016 was the hottest year on record globally.
Climate scientist Professor Will Steffen warned extreme weather events were projected to worsen across Australia as the climate warmed further. He said the extreme heat had to be “taken really seriously, first and foremost”. “It is a risk for human health, particularly for the most vulnerable — the elderly, very young people, and exposed outdoor workers,” he said.
“It is obviously a risk for the agricultural industry, it is a risk for natural ecosystems.
“We saw an underwater heatwave about a year ago wipe out a large part of the Great Barrier Reef.”A lot of these impacts we are seeing occurring now are occurring earlier than we had projected a few years ago.
“It is giving us some cause for concern that the climate system may be shifting a bit faster than we originally thought.”
Impact varies for each state Continue reading
Powershop reveals cash for renewable projects from customers who paid more https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/09/powershop-reveals-cash-for-renewable-projects-from-customers-who-paid-more
Energy retailer raised $100,000 from customers, which will be given out as grants to community-owned energy projects, Guardian, Michael Slezak, 9 Feb 17, Amid fresh attacks on renewable energy targets from the federal government and large energy retailer ERM Power, smaller electricity retailer Powershop has raised $100,000 from its customers to be given out as grants to 10 community-owned projects around the country.
Three months ago Powershop launched the Your Community Energy initiative, where they gave customers the opportunity to pay higher rates, which it said would then be distributed to renewable energy projects that were community-owned.
Powershop aimed to raise $20,000 by the end of 2016 but, as of February 2017, it had raised $100,000.
One project – rooftop solar on the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (Ceres) centre in Melbourne – has already received $10,000 from the initiative and used that to complete their 15 KW solar installation.
A spokeswoman for Ceres, Judy Glick, said the installation would save the community group $2,000 each year and reduce their yearly emissions by almost 16 tonnes of CO2. “Ceres is on a mission to achieve zero emissions by 2025,” she said.
Five other projects were also announced as recipients of a share of the money. Continue reading
Why coal-fired power handouts would be an attack on climate and common sense
The evidence suggests the push for government help is an attempt to squeeze money out of unwise investments made at the end of the mining boom, Guardian, 9 Feb 17, Michael Slezak, The recent coordinated push for new coal-powered electricity generators in Australia comes as the industry is on its last legs.
The intensified push for government handouts can be seen as a last-ditch attempt for the coal industry to squeeze some money out of the unwise investments it made at the end of the mining boom.
Here are the facts and figures that point towards that conclusion.
The coal industry knows that to stop runaway climate change all coal-powered generators need to close
Australia joined 174 countries and the European Union in 2015, signing the Paris agreement. In doing so, Australia agreed to do its part in keeping the global temperature rise “well below” 2C.
It also commits countries to achieving net-zero emissions “in the second half of this century”.
That agreement, designed to stop runaway climate change, requires that all of Australia’s coal-fired generators close.
According to the International Energy Agency, OECD countries such as Australia need to shut down almost all of their coal-fired power stations by about 2035.
And the rest of the world will need to phase out coal power by 2050, it says. [excellent graph on original] With coal-fired power stations taking up to a decade to build, and designed to last 30 or 40 years, building new ones now is obviously inconsistent with those commitments.
In particular, Australia has committed to reducing its emissions by 26% below 2005 levels by 2030 – a commitment that is not strong enough to limit global warming at 2C and will need to be “ratcheted up”.
But the Australian government recently released projections of the country’s carbon emissions showing that current policies are going to cause emissions to rise to 2030, not drop, leaving Australia overshooting that commitment by a long way. [graph on original] …….
New coal is the most expensive form of energy
While the proponents of coal talk about coal power being “cheap and reliable”, they are wrong on both fronts. Coal is now the most expensive form of new power. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the cost of energy from a new coal power plant would be $134-$203/MWh.
That’s more expensive than wind, solar or highly efficient combined-cycle gas (costing $61-$118/MWh, $78-$140/MWh and $74-$90/MWh, respectively)………
The global coal industry recently saw its biggest player, Peabody, go bankrupt in the US. If companies are forced to take write-downs for these projects by admitting they will never go ahead, it could mean the end for some of the companies.
At his National Press Club address last week, Malcolm Turnbull appeared to point to this as the reason he is now looking to subsidise the most expensive and dirtiest form of energy, saying that it could help our mining industry. He said: “As the world’s largest coal exporter, we have a vested interest in showing that we can provide both lower emissions and reliable baseload power with state-of-the-art, clean, coal-fired technology.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/07/why-coal-fired-power-handouts-would-be-an-attack-on-climate-and-common-sense
Carmichael mine jobs need ’21 times the subsidies’ of renewables, says lobby group
Federal funding for Adani project amounts to $683,060 a job, compared with $32,191 a worker in Queensland’s clean energy sector, 350.org says, Guardian, Joshua Robertson, 8 Feb 17, Clean energy projects in Queensland are already on track to create more employment than Australia’s largest proposed coalmine, which if funded federally would cost taxpayers 21 times more per job, according to new study.
Federal government agencies are investing $71.4m in seven solar farms and a windfarm in Queensland, which are set to deliver a total of 2,218 jobs, according to analysis by climate advocacy group 350.org.
Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal project in central Queensland, which has obtained conditional approval for a $1bn federal infrastructure loan, is predicted to deliver 1,464 jobs.
The level of federal subsidy for Adani would amount to $683,060 a job, compared with $32,191 a worker in Queensland’s clean energy sector.
The Queensland government has accused the federal government of misrepresenting key data while talking up coal in an ideological attack on renewable energy. Continue reading
Solar battery rebate scheme pushed by Greens in WA election pitch, ABC News , 9 Feb 17 By Laura Gartry More than 100,000 WA households could be entirely powered by their own solar energy using battery storage within five years under a 50 per cent tax rebate proposed by the Greens.
In one of first major election commitments by the party, Upper House candidate Tim Clifford said the cost of battery units were currently out of reach for a lot of people.
The Greens’ proposed rebate would allow individuals to get up to half the cost of their storage system covered to a maximum of $5,000 in the first year and tapering off to $1,500 in five years.
The $290 million scheme would also provide a $5,000 upfront grant to install solar for families earning less than $80,000. Households with solar panels in WA are looking to batteries as a way to offset the sharp fall in rebates Synergy pays them for their electricity.
It is hoped the scheme would kick-start the industry and drive down the cost of units and power bills.
Energy Minister Mike Nahan said a possible battery subsidy was discussed, but would not be implemented by the Government…..
Mr Clifford said up to 3,000 WA businesses could also benefit, allowing their battery storage assets to be depreciated over three years rather than 15, which could pay off their battery storage unit within 10 years.
The scheme would be co-funded from the removal of federal fossil fuel and mining subsidies……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-08/solar-rebates-mooted-by-greens-wa-election/8252706