Australian news, and some related international items

Anger as Fukushima to host Olympic events during Tokyo 2020 Games

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs


An environmental activist wearing a gas mask takes part in a recent demonstration to mark the 6th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

The decision to hold baseball and softball matches in the city of Fukushima as part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has been criticised as a cynical manoeuvre by the Japanese government to convince the world that the 2011 nuclear crisis is over.

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games announced on Friday that the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium will host softball and baseball matches during the Games.

Venues in Tokyo will host the majority of the sporting events, which will take place six years after a magnitude 9 earthquake struck off Tohoku, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people and the melt-down of three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which is less than 50 miles from Fukushima City.


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May 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ministry shows plan to recycle radioactive soil in Fukushima

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Minamisoma 18 may 2017.jpg

The Environment Ministry demonstrates an experiment on recycling contaminated soil, shown in black in the center, in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 17.

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture–In an apparent attempt to quell fears, the Environment Ministry on May 17 showed how it will recycle radioactive soil in construction projects to reduce the growing piles of widely abhorred contaminated debris.

In the demonstration to media representatives here, the ministry measured radioactivity levels of bags of soil collected in decontamination work around the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and sorted the earth from other garbage.

Using soil with readings up to 3,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, the ministry plans to create a 5-meter-tall mound measuring 20 meters by 80 meters. Such mounds could be used, for example, as foundations for seawalls and roads in Fukushima Prefecture and elsewhere.

Testing of the methods started on April 24.

After confirming the…

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May 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Radiation Checks After Fire

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Japan’s Forestry Agency is checking for the possible spread of radioactive contamination following a forest fire near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The fire started at the end of April and raged for almost 2 weeks. It destroyed 75 hectares in the area designated a no-go zone due to high radiation.

Officials and forest fire experts are inspecting the site looking for changes in radiation levels and the potential for landslides that could spread radioactive substances.

Fukushima Prefecture officials say they have not detected any major changes in radiation levels so far.

Inspections will continue for another day. The agency will publicize the results by the end of next month.

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May 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Government Reporting on Nuclear Risks: Examining the Recent Forest Fires in Fukushima No-Go Zone

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs


The forest fires in the exclusion zone in Fukushima, near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (FDNPP), were extinguished on May 10 after having burnt 75 hectares in 12 days, spreading from Namie to Futaba.

The wildfires raised a number of questions about the radiation related health hazards and the ways the information was treated by the Fukushima prefectural government and the mass media.

Fukushima prefecture maintained the attitude of under-evaluating the possible impact of the fire in regard to the dispersion of radioactive substances. Major media transmitted the Fukushima government’s official comments, and an exceptional local newspaper, Kii Minpo (Wakayama prefecture), had to apologize after having received complaints and criticism for its column alerting the local population to the dispersion of radioactive substances by the fire, and saying that the government as well as the national newspapers are too dismissive of the radioactive dispersal problem.

However, when it…

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May 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

19 May the latest nuclear and climate news – Australia

The English language news media hops about from one theme to another. While the nuclear crisis about North Korea seems to continue- the focus has shifted to the USA’s President’s credibility problem. Well, as long as he’s the focus, I guess that Donald Trump is happy, anyway.

Meanwhile the present drama about the computer hacking of hospitals and businesses has taken on a more sinister aspect. People now realise that  computer hacking could affect nuclear power stations , even perhaps nuclear military sites.

A new twist to this subject is the realisation that “cyber warfare” – to paralyse a country’s computer systems, could become a more satisfactory way for an enemy to attack, rather than use nuclear weapons. Analysts now consider North Korea as potentially able to use this method.

Investigative journalism lives:  Close to Norway – Russia’s secret nuclear weapons build-up, and waste dumps



You wouldn’t know that a Parliamentary Committee is about to rubber stamp a plan for Australia to put money and resources into developing new nuclear power plants, despite our laws prohibiting this, now would you?

  1. Compelling argument against Australia joining the Framework Agreement for Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems.
  2. NO PUBLIC DISCUSSION! Australia’s Generation IV Nuclear Energy Accession.  
  3. ANSTO must be transparent on costs of its nuclear research: Generation IV nuclear reactors – high cost for little benefit.

The military connection to the push for advanced nuclear reactors in South Australia. SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S NUCLEAR MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

New South Wales National Party to embrace nuclear energy.


May 19, 2017 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

New South Wales National Party to embrace nuclear energy

 Nuclear energy must be considered for NSW: Nationals leader ANDREW CLENNELL, STATE POLITICAL EDITOR, The Daily Telegraph , May 19, 2017 NUCLEAR energy should be considered as a way forward to provide energy security in NSW, Deputy Premier John Barilaro will tell his first National party conference as leader today.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | 5 Comments

Cyber warfare might be a bigger threat than nuclear – and North Korea is good at this

With the attention of the United States and its allies at present focused on North Korea’s nuclear activity, North Korea potentially has greater latitude to act aggressively in the cyber realm, especially against the private sector. 

North Korea, Iran, and the Challenges of Dealing With Cyber-Capable Nuclear States Luke McNamara, May 18, 2017 North Korea’s successful missile launch last Sunday has further sharpened the world’s focus on the country’s growing nuclear capabilities. But in remarks last month, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly commented that North Korea poses a more likely cyber threat than it does a nuclear concern.

While years of sanctions have isolated the Hermit Kingdom from much of the global financial system, North Korea may be seeking to fund the state’s coffers through a widespread cyber-crime campaign. It appears that its ability to do so may be enhanced, rather than hampered, by the increased attention that is paid to its accelerating nuclear program.

In early 2016, multiple South Korean security vendors who provide services to the country’s financial sector were targeted with malware in a campaign that also affected aerospace and defense. More notably last year, an intrusion at an Asian bank eventually revealed a manipulation of international systems and a loss of over $81 million dollars. Several months after that, similar activity was uncovered targeting the Financial Supervision Authority of Poland, where North Korea has an embassy that likely could have supplied cyber threat operators with Polish-language operational support. We now strongly suspect that this activity is linked to North Korean state-sponsored cyber espionage actors.

For close observers of North Korea’s capabilities, state-sponsored espionage actors carrying out financial theft should not come wholly as a surprise. Continue reading

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Can new nukes save the industry from bankruptcy? It’s not likely

“The story the nuclear industry tries to offer, is that while old reactors may have been afflicted with problems, the new generation is going to be immune. But while they will get around some, they will also have a new set of problems,” says Ramana. “If it were up to me, I would say it’s not worth spending more money on these things, throwing good money after bad.”

“The nuclear industry is sort of riding into the sunset,” he says. “The question is how fast is it going to ride into it.”

For those who see a nuclear sunset on the horizon, the clearest solution to the problem of both energy production and climate change is renewables.

What the end of the atomic renaissance means for nuclear power, New Scientist,  The next generation of nuclear reactors was meant to bring cheaper, safer power. Where are they, and can they save the industry from bankruptcy and closure? By Lisa Grossman,7 May 2017

IT’S not a great time to be a nuclear reactor engineer. Plants are closing all over the world, even before the end of their usable lives. The most recently shut was a £15 billion power station in Cumbria, UK.

In the US, the only four reactors being built are years late and billions over budget. Should the four Westinghouse models under construction in South Carolina and Georgia ever be finished, it’s hard to say who will service them. Westinghouse Electric, their manufacturer and one of the last private companies building nuclear reactors, filed for bankruptcy on 29 March.

What happened? Just four years ago, we were supposed to be entering a nuclear renaissance. The US had started building its first reactors in 30 years to much fanfare. The Bush and Obama administrations increased spending on nuclear energy R&D by billions of dollars. Radical new designs for the next generation of reactors were supposed to spread safer, cleaner, sustainable energy around the globe.

 Instead, we seem to be stuck with a dwindling supply of mid-20th century models. “Even if they finish those [Westinghouse] reactors, they will not be monuments to the nuclear renaissance,” says economic analyst Mark Cooper at Vermont Law School. “They will be mausoleums to the end of nuclear power.” Can the next generation of reactors still save the day?

“New reactors will not be monuments to the nuclear renaissance – they will be mausoleums” Continue reading

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Adani Carmichael coal mine: climate, health and economics are against it

Climate Council: climate, health and economics are against Carmichael mine, Will SteffenEmeritus professor, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Hilary BambrickHead of School, School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology  May 19, 2017 Despite the overwhelming evidence that fossil fuels are killing the Great Barrier Reef and making many extreme weather events worse; despite the emphatic thumbs-down from the finance sector; and despite the growing awareness of the serious health impacts of coal, the proposed Carmichael coal mine staggers on, zombie-like, amid reports it has been offered a deferment of A$320 million in royalty payments.

A new Climate Council report, Risky Business: Health, Climate and Economic Risks of the Carmichael Coalmine, makes an emphatic case against development of the proposed mine, or of any other coal deposits in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, or indeed elsewhere around the world.

Burning coal is a major contributor to climate change. Australia is already reeling from the escalating impacts of a warming climate. Heatwaves and other extreme weather events are worsening. The Great Barrier Reef has suffered consecutive mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. Climate change is likely making drought conditions worse in the agricultural belts of southwest and southeast Australia. Our coastal regions are increasingly exposed to erosion and flooding as sea level rises.

If we are to slow these disturbing trends and stabilise the climate at a level with which we might be able to cope, only a relatively small amount of the world’s remaining coal, oil and gas reserves can actually be used.

The majority must be left unburned in the ground, without developing vast new coal deposits such as those in the Galilee Basin.

On budget

The amount of fossil fuels we can burn for a given temperature target (such as the 1.5℃ and 2℃ targets of the Paris climate agreement) is known as the “carbon budget”.

To give ourselves just a 50% chance of staying within the 2℃ Paris target, we can burn only 38% of the world’s existing fossil fuel reserves. When this budget is apportioned among the various types of fossil fuels, coal is the big loser, because it is more emissions-intensive than other fuels. Nearly 90% of the world’s existing coal reserves must be left in the ground to stay within the 2℃ budget.

When the carbon budget is apportioned by region to maximise the economic benefit of the remaining budget, Australian coal in particular is a big loser. More than 95% of Australia’s existing coal reserves cannot be burned, and the development of new deposits, such as the Galilee Basin, is ruled out.

The health case

Exploiting coal is very harmful to human health, with serious impacts all the way through the process from mining to combustion. Recently the life-threatening “black lung” (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis) has re-emerged in Queensland, with 21 reported cases. Across Australia, the estimated costs of health damages associated with the combustion of coal amount to A$2.6 billion per year.

In India, the country to which coal from the proposed Carmichael mine would likely be exported, coal combustion already takes a heavy toll. An estimated 80,000-115,000 deaths, as well as 20 million cases of asthma, were attributed to pollutants emitted from coal-fired power stations in 2010-11. Up to 10,000 children under the age of five died because of coal pollution in 2012 alone.

Compared with the domestic coal resources in India, Carmichael coal will not reduce these health risks much at all. Galilee Basin coal is of poorer quality than that from other regions of Australia. Its estimated ash content of about 26% is double the Australian benchmark.

This is bad news for children in India or in any other country that ends up burning it.

The economics

The economic case for the Carmichael mine doesn’t stack up either. Converging global trends all point to rapidly reducing demand for coal.

The cost of renewable energy is plummeting, and efficient and increasingly affordable storage technologies are emerging. Coal demand in China is dropping as it ramps up the rollout of renewables. India is moving towards energy independence, and is eyeing its northern neighbour’s push towards renewables.

All of these trends greatly increase the risk that any new coal developments will become stranded assets. It’s little wonder that the financial sector has turned a cold shoulder to the Carmichael mine, and Galilee Basin coal development in general. Some 17 banks worldwide, including the “big four” in Australia, have ruled out any investment in the Carmichael mine.

From any perspective – climate, health, economy – the proposed mine is hard to justify. And yet the project keeps on keeping on.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Ian Dunlop: This is not rhetoric: approving the Adani coal mine will kill people

 Brisbane Times, Ian Dunlop , 18 May 17  Rarely have politicians demonstrated better their ignorance of the risks and opportunities confronting Australia than with Barnaby Joyce, Matt Canavan and other ministers’ recent utterances on Adani and Galilee Basin coal, along with their petulant foot-stamping over Westpac’s decision to restrict funding to new coal projects. Likewise, Bill Shorten sees no problem in supporting Adani.

The media are no better; discussion instantly defaults to important but secondary issues, such as Adani’s concessional government loan, the project’s importance to the economy, creating jobs for north Queenslanders and so on.

Nowhere in the debate is the critical issue even raised: the existential risk of climate change, which such development now implies. Existential means a risk posing large negative consequences to humanity that can never be undone. One where an adverse outcome would either annihilate life, or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.

This is the risk to which we are now exposed unless we rapidly reduce global carbon emissions…….

It is already impossible to stay below the 1.5-degree Paris aspiration. To have a realistic chance of staying below even 2 degrees means that no new fossil-fuel projects can be built globally – coal, oil or gas – and that existing operations, particularly coal, must be rapidly replaced with low-carbon alternatives. Further, carbon-capture technologies that do not currently exist must be rapidly deployed at scale.

Climate change has moved out of the twilight period of much talk and limited action. It is now turning nasty. Some regions, often the poorest, have already seen major disasters, as has Australia. How long will it take, and how much economic damage must we suffer, particularly in Queensland, before our leaders accept that events like Cyclone Debbie and the collapse of much of the Great Barrier Reef are being intensified by man-made climate change? Of that there is no doubt, nor has there been for decades. The uncertainties, regularly thrown up as reasons for inaction, relate not to the basic science but to the speed and extent of climate impact, both of which have been badly underestimated.

The most dangerous aspect is that the impact of fossil-fuel investments made today do not manifest themselves for decades to come. If we wait for catastrophe to happen, as we are doing, it will be too late to act. Time is the most important commodity; to avoid catastrophic outcomes requires emergency action to force the pace of change. Australia, along with the Asian regions to our north, is now considered to be “disaster alley”; we are already experiencing the most extreme impacts globally.

In these circumstances, opening up a major new coal province is nothing less than a crime against humanity. The Adani mine by itself will push temperatures above 2 degrees; the rest of the Galilee Basin development would ensure global temperatures went way above 3 degrees. None of the supporting political arguments, such as poverty alleviation, the inevitability of continued coal use, the superior quality of our coal, or the benefits of opening up northern Australia, have the slightest shred of credibility. Such irresponsibility is only possible if you do not accept that man-made climate change is happening, which is the real position of both goverment and opposition……..

We deserve better leaders. If the incumbency is not prepared to act, the community need to take matters into their own hands.

Ian Dunlop was an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is a member of the Club of Rome.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Severe coastal floods increasing, as sea levels rise

Rising seas could double the number of severe coastal floods By Chelsea Whyte, 8 May 2017

Just 35 years from now, severe coastal flooding could hit twice as often as it does now – if the seas rise by between just 5 and 10 centimetres.

Such a hike would make 50-year weather events happen twice as often, according to work by Sean Vitousek, a coastal scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his colleagues. A 50-year event is an increase in sea level so large that it’s only likely to happen twice a century.

Sea levels are actually projected to rise by more than this – estimates put it at between 10 and 20 centimetres over the next few decades.

 “It doesn’t take a ton of sea level rise to significantly change the frequency at which you have flooding,” says Vitousek.

Extremely high water levels are sometimes caused by storm surges and low pressure atmospheric systems, when the easing of pressure on the sea allows water levels to rise. But normal tides and waves also play a part.

Cities under water

Taking those factors into account in his model, Vitousek found that, by 2050, wave-exposed Indian cities like Mumbai and Kochi, and Abidjan in Ivory Coast would see increased frequency of flooding with just a 5-centimetre rise in seas.

If the rise were 10 centimetres, increased flooding would also hit Shanghai, London and New York.

Sea level rise is a global phenomenon that affects regions differently. The ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are so massive that their gravity draws ocean water towards them. As they melt, that water will go elsewhere.

If you lose Greenland, you’ll have more water in the ocean, which will elevate sea level everywhere. But the effect will be stronger farther away from Greenland,” says Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “In Greenland or Antarctica, the water levels may even drop. The tropics always lose because they’re in the middle.”

Sea levels are currently going up by about 3 to 4 millimetres across the globe somewhat uniformly, Vitousek says, but some areas are more susceptible to sea level rise than others because that makes up a larger percentage of their overall water levels.

n the higher latitudes where the difference between high and low sea level in a given year could be 3 metres, a few centimetres may not be noticeable. But in the tropics, that small increase could account for 10 to 20 per cent of the variation, Vitousek says. “It’s not a trivial percentage of the water level,” he says.

Accept the danger

Aimée Slangen, a climate change scientist at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, says regional events like El Niño could keep down some of the sea level rise in the tropics, but not forever.

“I think it would only delay the inevitable: at some point, flooding frequencies are going to increase as long as sea level keeps on rising,” she says. Vitousek says possible responses are to retreat from coastlines or to invest in engineering solutions, like building up natural beaches or creating artificial ones or building sea walls that provide shoreline protection.

But over the next few decades, an increase of 10 to 20 centimetres is inevitable, says Levermann. Even with large reductions in emissions, the die has already been cast for the near future.

“No one has to be afraid of sea level rise, if you’re not stupid,” he says. “It’s low enough that we can respond. It’s nothing to be surprised about, unless you have an administration that says it’s not happening. Then you have to be afraid, because it’s a serious danger,” Levermann says.

Journal reference: Nature Scientific ReportsDOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01362-7

Read more: Unexpected Antarctic melt could trigger 2-metre sea level rise

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s Attorney General Brandis intervenes in W and J court action against Adani

Traditional Owners fighting Adani  appalled at improper political interference

“The Attorney General, George Brandis, has intervened in a Federal Court hearing in which the Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s proposed coal mine are seeking to strike out a fake agreement Adani claims to have for the mine to proceed.

“Senator Brandis’ intervention follows his second failure to rush through changes to the Native Title Act….

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J)Traditional Owners CouncilAdrian Burragubba, said,

““The Attorney General has made an extraordinary and political intervention in matters before the court.  Intervening in our case shows Brandis is working in billionaire Adani’s interests,  not ensuring the proper administration of justice.  Again, Brandis is making Native Title all about Adani’s mine instead of good law reform. …

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, MsMurrawah Johnson, said,

““Adani didn’t negotiate and achieve the free prior informed consent of the W&J people. The meeting, which Adani and its barrackers claim achieved consent, with a 294 to 1 vote, is as fake as its ILUA.
It is not a true expression of the W&J Traditional Owners.

““Over 220 of the attendees at Adani’s meeting are people who have never been involved in the W&J claim or decision making, and who are identified with other nations and claims, or didn’t identify an apical descent line. …

Lawyer for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Mr Colin Hardie, said,
“My clients have four strong grounds against Adani’s purported ILUA. …

May 19, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

19 May climate news in Australia


Time for the climate policy review we had to have
Peter Castellas
It’s time to get serious about climate policy, and set Australia up to make the most of the zero carbon transition that is undoubtedly underway.

Australia risking its international standing over climate change inaction: Marshall Islands
The President of the Marshall Islands compares Australia to a “big brother or big sister” openly mocking science on climate change, saying inaction “weakens your ability to be a force for good on the world stage”.

Funding Climate Destruction And Human Rights Abuses: Efic Australia Abroad
Lucy Manne
Banks are walking away from mining projects that harm our planet, and our people. But one Australian Government organisation still isn’t getting the message
The Brisbane suburbs that will suffer ‘extreme’ temperature rises under infill

May 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

19 May Renewable energy news in Australia

Maximising local benefits from uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency
Rob Passey and Ben Elliston
Work on regional plans for 100 per cent renewable energy highlight importance of storage to soak up daytime supply, and the need to reduce night-time loads and shift them to the day.
Rooftop solar: Sydney and other CBDs have barely tapped ‘solar goldmines’
Sydney’s CBD has huge untapped rooftop solar potential that could save businesses and homes $70m a year on power costs, according to new study that has lessons for all Australia’s capital cities.
Rooftop solar: Sydney and other CBDs have barely tapped ‘solar goldmines’
Sydney’s CBD has huge untapped rooftop solar potential that could save businesses and homes $70m a year on power costs, according to new study that has lessons for all Australia’s capital cities.
New South Wales
Rooftop solar saved NSW consumers nearly $1 billion in heatwave
Rooftop solar likely saved nearly $1 billion in electricity costs during the February heatwave in NSW, as well as helping to keep the lights on. But solar households and businesses got little reward for their contribution.

ANU breakthrough: Butterfly effect could boost solar cell efficiency
ANU researchers develop butterfly wing-inspired nano-technology that could improve the efficiency of solar cells.
Queensland .Sun Metals says new solar farm will underpin zinc refinery expansion
Korean Zinc refiner says 116MW solar plant it’s building near Townsville will underpin the expansion of its north Queensland operations.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment