Australian news, and some related international items

Rainbow Bridge to Fukushima

Benny Zable with Chibo Mertineit and 4 others Sat 11 March 2017 Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay, Australia

Anti-nuclear activists gathered at Cape Byron Lighthouse today morning to mark the sixth anniversary of the tsunami that crippled the nuclear power reactors in Fukushima and to send a message of solidarity to the people of Japan.

Morning joggers and walkers were greeted by the sound of shakuhachi and Indonesian harp. The Pacific ocean rose in gentle swells; an osprey rode the updrafts.

Local activist Iris Nunn led the group in prayers for the children and families of Fukushima. Nimbin resident Chibo Mertineit spoke of the long peoples’ struggles to stop the spread of nuclear power that started in West Germany in the seventies and is now part of a global movement to draw attention to the perils of the nuclear age.

Activists unfurled a banner that said: Fukushima reminds us that nuclear power is a dead end.

With radioactivity still spilling into the oceans, land and air, activist called for urgent international assistance to resolve the crisis.

Artist and environmentalist Benny Zable said: “Say no to nuclear. Go Green!’ Pic: Harsha Prabhu

March 13, 2017 Posted by | New South Wales, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment


Friends of the Earth Australia is today releasing a detailed report on the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 (NRWMA). The report ‒ written by Monash University fifth-year law student Amanda Ngo ‒ comes against the backdrop of the federal government’s targeting of a site near Hawker in SA’s Flinders Ranges for a national radioactive waste store and repository.

The NRWMA is heavy-handed, undemocratic legislation that gives the federal government the power to extinguish rights and interests in land targeted for a radioactive waste facility. In so doing the Minister must “take into account any relevant comments by persons with a right or interest in the land” but there is no requirement to secure consent. Traditional Owners, local communities, pastoralists, business owners, local councils and State/Territory Governments are all disadvantaged and disempowered by the NRWMA.

The NRWMA disempowers Traditional Owners ‒ in this case Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners ‒ in multiple ways, including:

  • The nomination of a site for a radioactive waste facility is valid even if Aboriginal owners were not consulted and did not give consent.
  • The NRWMA has sections which nullify State or Territory laws that protect the archaeological or heritage values of land or objects, including those which relate to Indigenous traditions.
  • The NRWMA curtails the application of Commonwealth laws including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 and the Native Title Act 1993 in the important site-selection stage.
  • The Native Title Act 1993 is expressly overridden in relation to land acquisition for a radioactive waste facility.

Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners have been clear in their opposition to the planned radioactive waste facility in the Flinders Ranges. “I call upon the Federal and State Governments to put an end to this volatile position that the Adnyamathanha people are facing,” said Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Enice Marsh. “Native Title and the Aboriginal Heritage Act are not protecting our land. This needs a complete review or a Royal Commission. The Barndioota site in the Flinders Ranges must be struck off as a potential radioactive waste dump site and the National Radioactive Waste Management Act needs to be amended to give us the right to say ‘no’.”

Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Regina McKenzie, who lives on Yappala Station near the proposed dump site, said: “The NRWMA is a political attack on Adnyamathanha women’s spiritual beliefs. The destruction of our culture and significant woman’s sites is a form of assimilation and thus breaches Article 8.1 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The NRWMA also breaches Article 25 of the UN Declaration which refers to our spiritual relationship with the land and the right to maintain and strengthen our culture. This is a breach of our Aboriginal human rights and our people and amounts to cultural genocide.”

The NRWMA has been criticised in both Senate Inquiries and a Federal Court challenge to an earlier federal government attempt to impose a national radioactive waste facility at Muckaty in the Northern Territory.

The NRWMA also puts the federal government’s radioactive waste agenda above environmental protection as it seeks to curtail the application of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Dr Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, said: “A senior government official claims the NRWMA is based on ‘world’s best practice’. In fact, the legislation systematically disempowers local communities and Traditional Owners and weakens environmental protections. It needs to be radically amended or replaced with legislation that protects the environment and gives local communities and Traditional Owners the right to say no to nuclear waste dumps.”

 Amanda Ngo’s paper, ‘National Radioactive Waste Management  Act 2012′, is posted at

March 13, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, reference | Leave a comment

Fukushima was fuelled by Australian uranium. Time to reconsider this unethical and failing trade

We urgently need a genuine and disinterested examination of the costs and consequences of Australia’s role in fuelling the international nuclear trade.

Earlier this decade the Nobel Peace Prize winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War’s (IPPNW) called for a global ban on uranium mining after finding:

‘Uranium ore mining and the production of uranium oxide (yellowcake) are irresponsible and represent a grave threat to health and to the environment. Both processes involve an elementary violation of human rights and their use lead to an incalculable risk for world peace and an obstacle to nuclear disarmament.’

Six years on from Fukushima: Facing the fallout, Independent Australia,  11 March 2017,  Six years after the Fukushima disaster, it’s long overdue for Australia’s nuclear apologists to face up to their responsibilities, writes Dave Sweeney.

SIX YEARS is a long time to do nothing.     Australian governments of all shades routinely claim they are on the front foot — innovative, agile and responsive. The Australian mining industry’s rhetoric is full of commitments to world’s best practise, highest standards and innovative community engagement.

But when it comes to the under-performing uranium sector, these adjectives and assurances are simply cover for a profound retreat from responsibility…….

While the headlines might have faded, the radiation, dislocation and complexity has not. Lives have been utterly disrupted and altered, and Fukushima remains a costly, complex and continuing nuclear crisis, and an unresolved environmental and social tragedy today.

So what does this sad story have to do with Australian Government, and mining industry inaction and denial?

Lots. Fukushima was directly fuelled by Australian uranium. Fukushima’s radioactive fallout started its life as a rock in Australia.

In October 2011, there was formal confirmation from the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) that

Australian obligated nuclear material (uranium) was at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in each of the reactors.’

Now, Australia rips and ships many minerals to many places and it would be unreasonable to put too much responsibility on the supply chain — no one holds a local miner culpable for a fatal motor accident in a car made overseas from Australian origin iron ore.

But uranium is different. Continue reading

March 13, 2017 Posted by | religion and ethics, uranium | Leave a comment

Concern about increased storage of nuclear wastes at USA site

The request also raises new concerns about the amount of radioactive waste being stored on the lab’s property, which has been threatened by catastrophic wildfires at least twice in the past 20 years, and about the lab’s long-troubled history of waste management, which has been a frequent subject of federal oversight reports.

Work was stalled for a number of years at the facility because of safety concerns with the building, including an inadequate fire safety system and its potential inability to withstand an earthquake.

“The desire to make more waste is actually competing with [the] desire to get on top of their safety and [existing] waste issues”

The continued storage of above-ground waste also raises questions about the safety of the drums in the event of a fire

LANL seeks permission to store more nuclear waste on-site Mar 12, 2017. By Rebecca Moss The New Mexican LOS ALAMOS — Los Alamos National Laboratory wants to store thousands of gallons of newly generated radioactive waste for an indefinite number of years, possibly decades, on laboratory property that is primarily used for plutonium research and nuclear weapons development.

The lab in January asked the state for permission to modify its 2010 hazardous waste permit in order to use two waste rooms and an outdoor storage pad near the lab’s plutonium facility to hold 1,700 waste drums, or 95,000 gallons, of radiologically contaminated materials — enough to fill six backyard swimming pools.

The new waste would join millions of gallons of radioactive waste and other hazardous contaminants stored in shallow pits and above ground throughout the lab’s 43-square-mile property, Continue reading

March 13, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Labour’s win in Western Australia means more gloom for the uranium industry

Uranium calls for approved projects to go ahead, The Australian, Mining & Energy,  March 13, 2017 Resources reporter Perth Labor’s emphatic victory in the West Australian election has cast a shadow over the state’s uranium sector, with the industry urging the incoming government to keep the door open for the most advanced uranium projects.

Labor went to the polls on a platform opposed to the development of uranium projects, with the exception of any proposal that had already received government approvals.
The WA uranium projects of ASX-listed duo Vimy Resources and Toro Energy, along with Canadian uranium heavyweight Cameco, were all ticked off by Colin Barnett’s government in the months leading up to the election.
But anti-nuclear campaigners argue that the ticks received by the projects to date fall far short of representing the full suite of approvals required before they can move into development.
Mia Pepper, a nuclear-free campaigner with the Conservation Council of WA, told The Australian she would be urging the new Labor government to block the proposed developments.
“Under Barnett, those companies tried to get as many approvals as possible to shore up their position under a Labor government and I think they’ve fallen well short. They’ve got conditional state approval, and in some cases conditional federal approval, but those aren’t final approvals,” Ms Pepper said…….

March 13, 2017 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science makes fanciful claims on their ability to manage nuclear waste dump for South Australia

Paul Waldon Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA March 11 

Today is the sixth anniversary of the Daiichi incident where nobody thought there would ever be a triple meltdown.  After 14 of the fifteen reactors at 4 sites on the east coast of Japan were compromised, calling it a accident is hard when there was little foresight to a tsunami when choosing a site that previously had suffered a larger recorded impact from the sea.
This has raised red flags with other countries and their nuclear programs, where now they want to phase out their dependence on nuclear. There are people from other countries who are prepared to embrace the menace of atomic energy, and we have some here in Australia. However I don’t believe all are stupid and ignorant, but I do share some of their opinions, they are vociferous to the facts of the inherent dangers, great risks, costs, and contamination at the front end of the cycle.
I do strongly disagree with the fact that nuclear is carbon free and their ideals to achieve the safe management of deadly radioactive waste from the back end of these waste producing machines we call reactors.
However The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has made claim they can build a facility to handle deadly radioactive waste and manage it in a area with culturally sensitive issues, fragile top soil, large aquifers the environment is dependent on, teaming with wildlife, prone to flooding, and reported to be the most seismically active area in Australia while the majority of the local population is not in favour. The DIIS has their ability mixed up with their capability.

March 13, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tesla batteries to the rescue for South Australia’s electricity system?

Greens say Elon Musk’s plan is a game changer Australian Greens Senator for South Australia Sarah Hanson-Young says Elon Musk’s proposal to solve South Australia’s energy crisis with battery storage is the game changer our state needs to switch back on.

“We live in the perfect state for wind and solar. Battery technology allows us to make hay while the sun shines, storing the power so we can use it when we want and need. While chairing a senate inquiry into battery storage, I’ve heard evidence that if 20,000 homes with solar panels had a battery as well, the load shedding that cut off the air conditioning when we needed it most last month wouldn’t have happened.

“This is the innovation Malcolm Turnbull promised when he declared he would be the ‘Innovation Prime Minister’

Elon Musk says his Tesla battery company could solve South Australia’s energy crisis in 100 days Luke Griffiths, Lauren Novak, The Advertiser March 11, 2017 TECH billionaire Elon Musk on Saturday confirmed he’s spoken personally with Jay Weatherill to discuss his company’s plans to build a battery farm to help SA solve its power woes – amid support from the Australian Greens, who say his plan to build a batter farm could be “game changer”.

Michio Kaku – Musk & Game Changing Tesla Powerwall Battery

March 13, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, storage | 1 Comment

At 89, he works with granddaughter to prevent nuclear doom

The former defense secretary is spending his twilight years sounding the alarm with his 29-year-old granddaughter.

“When my kids were getting under desks at their school and going through nuclear drills — the danger today is actually greater. We’re just not aware of it,” says Perry.

At 89, he works with granddaughter to prevent nuclear doom

Before Forever Changes

MARCH 11, 2017, BY  Picture a nondescript packing crate labeled “agricultural equipment” being loaded onto a delivery truck, which drives along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., until it stops midway between the White House and the Capitol.

The nuclear bomb explodes with the power of 15 kilotons. There are more than 80,000 deaths, from the highest ranking members of government to the youngest schoolchildren. All major news outlets then report receiving an identical claim: that five more nuclear bombs are hidden in five major cities.

Such is the nightmare nuclear scenario that former US Defense Secretary William Perry says may seem remote, but the consequences, if realized, would be disastrous. Continue reading

March 13, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA study on health effects of uranium mining on indigenous communities

Mothers, Babies on Navajo Nation Exposed to High Levels of Uranium Navajo Birth Cohort Study figuring out how exposure affects health  • December 20, 2016

Researchers with the Navajo Birth Cohort Study aren’t looking for simple answers about how uranium exposure affects health. We already know—and have known for decades—that contact with uranium can cause kidney disease and lung cancer.

This study is the first to look at what chronic, long-term exposure from all possible sources of uranium contamination—air, water, plants, wildlife, livestock and land—does down through the generations in a Native American community.

Since the study began in 2012, over 750 families have enrolled and 600 babies have been born to those families, said Dr. Johnnye Lewis, director of the Community Environmental Health Program & Center for Native Environmental Health Equity Research at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and NBCS principal investigator.

We’re collecting a huge amount of data,” Continue reading

March 13, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ignorance of Australia’s pro nuclear politicians and lobbyists

Paul Waldon Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 12 Mar 17 

Peter Faukner: Nuclear Services Corporation, Carl J Hocevor: Aerojet Nuclear Corporation, Arnie Gundersen: Nuclear Technician, Robert D Pollard: Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Ronald Fluege: Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory C Minor, Richard B Hubbard and Dale G Bridenhaugh: General Electric engineers
These are but a few people who have been unsatisfied ex-workers of the nuclear industry, and decried nuclear with their vociferous concerns of safety. It is important to recognize  there is growing opposition to nuclear power generation and abandonment of waste within the technical community.
August the 6th 1975 more than 2300 scientists were acknowledged as sending a message to American congress and the president warning of the dangers of the governments expanding nuclear program.
Today in Australia we have people in politics and in the nuclear work sector ignorantly embracing the production and abandonment of atomic waste for our future generations to bare the costs for the next 244,000 years so they can feel happy with a misguided thought they are better off with job security for a meagre few years.

March 13, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear fuel and waste has the “Midas touch” when it comes to radioactive contamination

Thought for the day:  Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, Derek Abbott, 13 Mar 17  Nuclear advocates love to wax lyrical about how dense nuclear fuel (and hence waste) is. They say the darnedest simplistic things such as “all the world’s fuel rods would barely fill a football pitch.”

But they are forgetting that nuclear fuel & waste has the “Midas touch”….everything it touches also becomes non-recyclable waste: the dry casks, the nuclear vessels, all containment materials, rod assemblies, cladding, reaction moderators, the metals within processing and enrichment plants, centrifuges, robotic equipment that touches fuel, clothing of workers that comes into contact with fuel/waste dust etc etc. The list is endless and the waste mountain is huge.

A case in point is Fukushima. Whilst it is indeed a more extreme example, it nevertheless highlights the ‘magic’ of the Midas touch that nuclear has. For example, to date, in addition to the fuel itself Fukushima has accumulated:

a) 870,000 tons of stored contaminated water with nowhere to go
b) 3,519 containers of radioactive sludge
c) 64,700 cubic metres of discarded compressed safety clothing
d) 80,000 cubic meters of contaminated trees
e) 200,400 cubic meters of radioactive rubble
f) 3.5 billion gallons of contaminated soil

That’s a heck of a waste management problem that will run into hundreds of billions of dollars by the time they are done.

March 13, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Zero Nuclear Power Stations! – call from from former Japanese Prime minister

Ex-PM Koizumi repeats call for ‘zero nuclear power plants’ March 12, 2017 (Mainichi Japan) SAPPORO (Kyodo) — Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Saturday repeated his call for Japan’s complete departure from nuclear energy as the country marked the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

March 13, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Elon Musk in talks with Malcolm Turnbull on energy storage

Elon Musk, Malcolm Turnbull in talks on renewables after billionaire’s ‘100 days or it’s free’ pledge Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he has held a “great, in-depth discussion” with Elon Musk, after the billionaire tech entrepreneur offered to fix South Australia’s energy problems within 100 days.

On Friday, Mr Musk said energy storage could solve the state’s electricity problems with a Tesla battery farm, and work could be completed within 100 days, or it would be free.

He followed that up in talks with South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill, later tweeting that he was impressed by the State Government’s commitment to a “smart, quick solution”.

Twitter was again the preferred medium of communication on Sunday, with Mr Musk and Mr Turnbull swapping appreciative tweets after speaking for nearly an hour.

March 13, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, storage | Leave a comment

Tesla’s energy storage could be the answer to South Australia’s electricity problems

Tesla’s offer: How SA’s power network could benefit from energy storage, ABC News,  By Michael Collett 11 Mar 17 South Australia’s energy network has been struggling of late — there were forced blackouts for tens of thousands of homes during a heatwave last month because there wasn’t enough power to meet demand.

But Tesla thinks it has a solution. The company’s billionaire boss Elon Musk says he could install a battery farm capable of fixing the system within 100 days of signing a contract.

It’s a suggestion that the Grattan Institute’s energy expert Tony Wood says should be taken seriously, but it’s not the only electricity storage option that’s available.

What’s the advantage of electricity storage? The idea is that energy storage technologies can take power during off-peak hours and put it back into the grid when it’s needed.

As well, wind and solar are intermittent sources of electricity generation, so this power needs to be stored if the grid is to rely entirely on renewables. (Keep in mind that South Australia already gets about 50 per cent of its energy from renewables, mostly wind and solar.)

One storage technology that’s getting a lot of press is Tesla’s Powerpack.

Tesla says this battery is “infinitely scalable” — that means a business could buy a single Powerpack so that it still has power during a blackout, while a city, state or country could install hundreds, thousands or even millions of them in order to support an entire grid.

In 2015, Musk said you’d be able to transition the United States to renewable energy with 160 million of them, and the entire world with 900 million……

March 13, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Big rise in solar panel installations in South Australia

Installation of solar energy panels surge after SA blackouts Daniel Wills, State Political Editor, The Advertiser March 12, 2017

INSTALLATION of solar panels have surged in the wake of SA’s statewide blackout, despite a cutback in customer tariffs, as homes and businesses take power security into their own hands.

Figures released by Solar Citizens shows SA spent about $23 million on panels in the final quarter of last year, a more-than 17 per cent jump compared with the same period in 2015.

In the second half of 2016, after an incident in July when volatile prices almost forced the temporary closure of some of SA’s biggest employers, 6424 solar systems were installed in the state.

That lifted the overall number of solar systems in SA to a huge 205,068.

At the same time, diesel generator sellers are reporting a huge surge in interest.

Solar Citizens SA campaigner Dan Spencer said households were clearly looking to panels as a technology that could bring down prices as well as add some backup to the grid.

“While politicians attacked SA’s clean energy leadership, South Australians took action at home,” he said. “With solar and storage becoming cheaper and more affordable every day it’s no surprise that ordinary South Australians have looked to clean energy.”

The top five suburbs for solar installation since the blackout were located in regional or outer suburban areas with incomes below the SA average. The regional suburb of Waitpinga led the way and was followed by Smithfield Plains, Salisbury North, Angas Plains and Morphett Vale.

March 13, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment