Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Compelling argument against Australia joining the Framework Agreement for Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems.

Today, I am taking the unusual step of publishing an entire submission. That’s because it is so good.  The nuclear lobby pulled a swifty on Australians, by having government and media very quietly do what is sure to be a “rubber stamp” job on Australia joining up to the Framework Agreement for Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems.

They allowed a very short time for submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiry. The nuke lobby must have been in the know, as they put in 11, whereas there were only 3, (one mine) critical of the plan.

Fortunately the critical ones contain compelling information. So, here, in full, is the:

Submission from Friends of the Earth Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation .

Contacts:

• Jim Green (Friends of the Earth, Australia) jim.green@foe.org.au, 0417 318 368

• Dave Sweeney (Australian Conservation Foundation) dave.sweeney@acf.org.au, 0408 317 812

Contents

1. Introduction and Response to National Interest Analysis

2. Generation IV Reactor Concepts ‒ Introduction

3. Decades Away

4. Purported Benefits

5. French Government’s IRSN Report

6. US Government Accountability Office Report

7. The Slow Death of Fast Reactors

8. Integral Fast Reactors

9. Thorium 10. Small Modular Reactors 11. Fusion Scientist Debunks Fusion

 

  1. INTRODUCTION AND RESPONSE TO NATIONAL INTEREST ANALYSIS Friends of the Earth Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation welcome the opportunity to make a submission to this inquiry and would welcome the opportunity to appear before a hearing of the Committee.

The Committee will likely receive submissions promoting the construction of Generation IV reactors in Australia and it is therefore worth noting comments by the SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in its May 2016 Final Report: “[A]dvanced fast reactors and other innovative reactor designs are unlikely to be feasible or viable in the foreseeable future. The development of such a first-of-a-kind project in South Australia would have high commercial and technical risk. Although prototype and demonstration reactors are operating, there is no licensed, commercially proven design. Development to that point would require substantial capital investment. Moreover, electricity generated from such reactors has not been demonstrated to be cost competitive with current light water reactor designs.”1

Here we provide brief responses to a number of comments in the National Interest Analysis (NIA).2

The NIA asserts that participation in the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) will further Australia’s non-proliferation and nuclear safety objectives. No evidence is supplied to justify the tenuous assertion. There is much else that Australia could do ‒ but is not doing ‒ that would demonstrably further non-proliferation objectives, e.g. a ban on reprocessing Australian Obligated Nuclear Materials (AONM); a reversal of the decision to permit uranium sales to countries that have not signed or ratified the NPT; or refusing uranium sales to countries that refuse to sign or ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. There is much else that Australia could do ‒ but is not doing ‒ that would demonstrably further safety objectives, e.g. revisiting the decision to sell uranium to Ukraine in light of the ongoing conflict in that country, refusing to supply uranium to nuclear weapon states that are not fulfilling their NPT obligations, insisting that uranium customer countries establish a strong, independent regulatory regime (as opposed to the inadequate regulation in a number of customer countries, e.g. China, India, Russia, Ukraine and others).

Nuclear non-proliferation would also be far better realised by active Australian engagement in the current UN process around the development of a nuclear weapons ban treaty. Instead Australia has spurned this pivotally important initiative and is refusing to participate. If Australia is serious about its international standing, our representatives would be at the table in New York.

The NIA states that ongoing participation in GIF will help Australia maintain its permanent position on the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors. ANSTO routinely makes such arguments ‒ in support of the construction of the OPAL reactor, in support of the development of nuclear power in Australia, and now in support of Australian participation in GIF. Australia has held a permanent position on the IAEA’s Board of Governors for decades and there is no reason to believe that participation or non-participation in GIF will change that situation.

The NIA asserts that accession to the Agreement and participation in GIF will have important economic benefits. No evidence is supplied to justify that tenuous assertion. There are no demonstrated economic benefits from participation in GIF ‒ however there are clear costs.

The NIA states that the “costs of participation in the System Arrangements will be borne by ANSTO from existing funds.” ANSTO should be required to provide a detailed account of past expenditure relating to this Agreement and anticipated future expenditure.

The NIA states that ongoing participation in GIF “will improve the Australian Government’s awareness and understanding of nuclear energy developments throughout the region and around the world, and contribute to the ability of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to continue to provide timely and comprehensive advice on nuclear issues.” Those arguments are tenuous, especially given that little about GIF is secret.

The NIA states that “Generation IV designs will use fuel more efficiently, reduce waste production, be economically competitive, and meet stringent standards of safety and proliferation resistance.” Those false claims are rebuked in later sections of this submission.

The NIA states that the success of Australia’s bid for membership of GIF was based in part on ANSTO’s “world-class capabilities and expertise” in the “development of nuclear safety cases.” ANSTO should be asked to justify that assertion. ANSTO could also be asked whether, based on its “world-class” expertise in nuclear safety, whether it considers it is appropriate for Australia to sell uranium to countries with demonstrably inadequate nuclear regulatory regimes, e.g. China, India, Russia, Ukraine and others.

The NIA asserts that “a significant expansion in nuclear power production is underway or under consideration by a number of countries, including several in the Asia Pacific region.” In fact:

  • Globally, nuclear power has been stagnant for the past 20 years.
  • For the foreseeable future, there is zero likelihood of a “significant” nuclear expansion of nuclear power and there will be an overall decline unless growth in China matches the decline elsewhere. Declines can be predicted with great confidence in North America, across all EU countries combined, in Japan, and in numerous other countries and regions ‒ and a very large majority of the world’s countries (about five out of six) are nuclear-free and plan to stay that way.
  • No country in the Asia Pacific or South East Asia is seriously planning to introduce nuclear power. The only country that was seriously planning to introduce nuclear power in the region ‒ Vietnam ‒ abandoned those plans last year.

The NIA states that Australia’s participation in GIF falls within the existing functions of ANSTO under Section 5 of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Act 1987. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties should assess whether Australia’s participation in GIF is consistent with legislation banning nuclear power in Australia (the EPBC and ARPANS Acts). 2.

2. GENERATION IV REACTOR CONCEPTS ‒ INTRODUCTION Continue reading

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May 13, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, reference, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

The military connection to the push for advanced nuclear reactors in South Australia

With a nuclear waste dump in South Australia that accepts international shipments, the full range of the “nuclear industry” in the state would be complete, truly making it the “Defense State” that has become the state motto.[9]

SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S NUCLEAR MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: THE GLOBAL CONTEXT, Spirit of Eureka ,Talk by David Palmer at “SA  The Nuclear State” forum 03 May 2017   “……..If citizens – the people – whether they are in the Fukushima region of Japan or in Adelaide, South Australia – have a right to speak out on the dangers of the nuclear industry, then who are the elites promoting the nuclear industry? If we look at prominent figures in government the institutional linkages become all too clear. Consider the example of Kevin Scarce, Governor of South Australia until 2014, a Rear Admiral retired from the Royal Australian Navy, current Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, and Deputy Chairman of Seeley International, the largest air conditioning company in Australia that is known for energy-efficiency. Scarce led the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission and was the primary author of the report that recommended the South Australian government accept a nuclear waste dump. All the links are there in Scarce’s connections and positions: military, university, corporate, and government.

Furthermore, the Royal Commission did not focus solely on a nuclear waste dump. It considered possible expansion of nuclear industries in the state that encompassed mining, enrichment, and power generation. The Royal Commission report states that “The activity under consideration is the further processing of minerals, and the processing and manufacturing of materials containing radioactive and nuclear substances (but not for, or from, military uses) including conversion, enrichment, fabrication or reprocessing in South Australia.”[3]

But during the time this Royal Commission report was being prepared and finally delivered, Adelaide became the focal point for naval shipbuilding contracts, particularly submarines. Both Labor and Liberal politicians  sought to outdo each other in pushing for submarines to be built in Adelaide. They will be diesel powered, but the majority of submarines internationally use nuclear power propulsion. Potential overseas contractors also use designs geared for nuclear power. There are those in Australian naval circles who would like to see these Australian subs with nuclear, not diesel, power. And where will these submarines be used, and with what international interests? We know the answer to that question, as recent events in the Western Pacific have confirmed. The USS Carl Vinson, the nuclear powered air craft carrier, was on exercises in the Indian Ocean in early April with Australia’s HMAS Ballarat, when it was ordered to the Korean peninsula this month in response to the North Korean threat to explode a nuclear bomb.[4] This latest development is just one example of the escalating naval tensions on our side of the Pacific. Crises like this will potentially increase pressure for Australia to build submarines – and possibly other naval vessels – that are nuclear powered.

What does the corporate profile of the “nuclear industry” look like? Continue reading

May 13, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian government energy policy leading the nation to catastrophe – professor Ian Lowe

Professor Emeritus of science at Griffith University says govt energy policy risks ‘catastrophe’ http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/conservation/griffith-universitys-head-of-science-says-govt-energy-policy-risks-catastrophe/news-story/f7cf7b285a7e9e5fdba0457d28591997

A “CATASTROPHIC collapse of life” is drawing closer and parts of Australia could become unlivable by the end of the century if we don’t change course. Nick Whigham@NWWHIGHAM, 13 May 17

UNLESS the Australian government fully embraces renewable energy and moves to decarbonise our energy supply in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, parts of Australia like Bourke and Alice Springs will become unlivable in our lifetime.

That’s the warning from the highly decorated Professor Emeritus of the School of Science at Griffith University, and former president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Professor Ian Lowe.

As public debate rages over the potential opening of the Adani coal mine in Carmichael, Queensland, Prof Lowe believes the government’s dedication to fossil fuels is taking the country in a troubling direction. Continue reading

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

Citizens must get informed, and speak out against the dangerous nuclear industry

These women defy the illusion that you have to have a Ph.D. in nuclear physics or in nuclear engineering – that you must be a Ben Heard – to have a legitimate voice about nuclear power and the potential dangers of nuclear industry accidents. Our movement needs scientific experts, but all of us can gain basic knowledge and speak out
SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S NUCLEAR MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: THE GLOBAL CONTEXTSpirit of Eureka Talk by David Palmer at “SA  The Nuclear State” forum 03 May 2017   There are other speakers and participants here today who have more expertise in the scientific and engineering details of this controversy than I do. My comments are aimed, instead, at those powerful elite stakeholders who are at the core of what we know as the military-industrial complex – here in South Australia, our country, but also globally, with its centre in the United States.

Is this issue of a nuclear waste dump advocated for South Australia just about jobs and economic prosperity, as Premier Wetherill claims? Or is it far broader? The words of Ben Heard, former executive director of pro-nuclear power lobby group Bright New World, sum it up well: “We must be a full service provider to the nuclear back-end.”[1] Adelaide’s Advertiser reported last month that “a new open letter [has been sent] to state MPs, 42 influential people demand[ing] the State Government commits to completing first-stage investigations of the proposed high-level repository.”[2] Many of these “influential people” signed a similar letter back in December demanding the same thing, through Ben Heard’s pro-nuclear Bright New World.

But just what is this “nuclear back-end” – the back end of what? Nuclear materials have a wide range of uses, including medical and commercial ones that are distinct from their main uses for power generation and weapons. The vast majority of government expenditures related to nuclear materials goes toward nuclear weapons and military uses (such as naval propulsion systems), and nuclear power. In the United States, virtually all nuclear-related industries and products in the energy and military-application areas are joint operations involving private companies working under government contracts and regulations. The scientific and engineering knowledge required for the nuclear industry means that universities and university-linked research centres play a major role in bringing these two institutions – private companies and government – together. In South Australia, Ben Heard (who is connected to University of Adelaide) is symbolic of this key link connecting networked institutions and elites.  Continue reading

May 13, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Russia’s secret nuclear weapons buildup, and wastes storage, close to Norway

The satellite images, however, only reveal what is visible on the surface. Most of the actual warheads are underground.  

What now takes place in regard to submarine-launched ballistic missiles’ facilities hasn’t been seen at the naval bases on Kola since the large-scale infrastructure construction to support the Typhoon submarines at the Nerpichya base in Zapadnaya Lista happened in the 1980s.

Norway pays for nuclear safety While nuclear weapons are stored inside the mountain on the east side of the Litsa fjord, huge amounts of nuclear waste are stored just two kilometers away, across the fjord in the infamous Andreeva Bay. Thousands of cubic meters of solid radioactive waste and nearly 22,000 spent nuclear fuel elements from submarine reactors are stored here. Neighbouring Norway, along with other donor countries, have spent hundres of millions kroner (tens of millions euros), on nuclear safety projects aimed at upgrading the infrastructure in Andreeva Bay.

Satellite images show expansion of nuclear weapons sites on Kola, Barents Observer [excellent pictures]  By Thomas Nilsen, May 08, 2017 The reverse gear seems to hang up for continuing disarmament of nuclear weapons in the Arctic. Barents Observer has made a comprehensive review of satellite images from naval base-level storage facilities that confirms heavy construction works.

The New START Treaty says USA and Russia must limit the numbers of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 by February 5, 2018. Over the last two years, Russia has increased the number of deployed warheads and is now 215 over the max limit to be reached.

There are extensive construction work at two of the Northern Fleet’s facilities for storage of warheads and ballistic missiles for submarines (SLBM) on the coast of to the Barents Sea. The Barents Observer has studied satellite images of the Kola Peninsula open available via Google Earth, combined with open-source data on numbers of nuclear warheads in Russia. The results are frightening. Continue reading

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

U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson signs Arctic agreement for action on climate change

Tillerson, at Arctic meeting, signs document affirming need for action on climate change, LA Times, William Yardley, 11 May 17, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed his name Thursday to a document that affirms the need for international action against climate change, adding further uncertainty to the direction of climate policy under the Trump administration.

The document, signed by Tillerson and seven foreign ministers from Arctic nations meeting this week in Fairbanks, Alaska, says the participants concluded their meeting “noting the entry into force of the Paris agreement on climate change and its implementation, and reiterating the need for global action to reduce both long-lived greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants.”

Called the Fairbanks Declaration, the document says the leaders signed it “recognizing that activities taking place outside the Arctic region, including activities occurring in Arctic states, are the main contributors to climate change effects and pollution in the Arctic, and underlining the need for action at all levels.” Continue reading

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