Australian news, and some related international items

Three former TEPCO execs plead not guilty

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs


Three former executives of the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have pleaded not guilty over the March 2011 accident.

Nuclear meltdowns occurred at the plant after it was hit by a giant earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The defendants are former Tokyo Electric Power Company Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former Vice Presidents Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Muto.

They are accused of professional negligence resulting in the deaths of 44 people, including hospital patients forced to stay at evacuation shelters for a long period.

At the start of the trial at the Tokyo District Court on Friday, Katsumata apologized for the serious accident, and causing a great nuisance and concern.

But he said it was impossible to predict the tsunami, and the nuclear accident that followed, at the time.

Takekuro and Muto also offered apologies but pleaded not guilty.

Points of contention will likely…

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June 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Court finds ex-environment ministry official Yuji Suzuki guilty of taking bribes — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

An excavator sits among bags of nuclear waste in the town of Tomioka near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2016. FUKUSHIMA – The Fukushima District Court on Thursday sentenced a former Environment Ministry official to one year in prison, suspended for three years, for accepting bribes to help a company win […]

via Court finds ex-environment ministry official Yuji Suzuki guilty of taking bribes — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima ice wall nears completion

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs


An underground ice wall being built to keep groundwater from entering the crippled nuclear reactor buildings in Fukushima is expected to be completed soon.

Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are circulating coolant in pipes buried around the buildings to make the 1.5 kilometer-long barrier.

The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, hopes to keep groundwater from being contaminated with radioactive substances.

The utility has so far left part of the wall unfrozen, due to fears that freezing the entire area could lead to a sharp drop in groundwater levels outside the reactor buildings, which could cause the tainted water to leak out.

On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority gave basic approval for the utility’s plan to freeze a 7 meter-wide section that remains on the mountain side.

Utility officials have explained to authority members that the groundwater level won’t plunge and that they are prepared for such an…

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June 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The week that has been in Australian climate and nuclear news

From the news media, you would hardly know it, but two big international meetings are happening. In New York,  delegations from more than 130 States are working  to finalize the text  for the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”.  In Hamburg, the G20 summit is about to be held, with climate change as a central issue. Meanwhile, as I write, the “important”  news item is, as usual, occupied by Donald Trump, who apparently has tweeted rudely, again – ho hum.

A warning from climate experts – just 3 years left to start real action against climate change.

Investigative journalism lives!  The Center for Public Integrity’s Nuclear Negligence examines safety weaknesses at U.S. nuclear weapon sites operated by corporate contractors.



Australia’s Karina Lester speaks at United Nations conference on a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

Karina Lester tells the Anangu story, and of the Aboriginal fight against nuclear waste dumping.

Washed up former Prime Minister Abbott still in the embrace of the nuclear industry.

What tests go on at Woomera – ‘the largest land testing range in the world’ ?

Minister For Nuclear and Coal, Matt Canavan pushes forward with Kimba radioactive trash dump plan. South Australia federal nuclear waste dump plan. Organisation NO RADIOACTIVE WASTE ON AGRICULTURAL LAND  IN KIMBA OR SOUTH AUSTRALIA bitterly disappointed at Minister Canavan progressing this plan without broad community support. 


United Nations concerned over impact of climate change on Aboriginals: lack of indigenous inclusion in policy-making. United Nations committee encourages Australia to rethink its support for coal mining industry.

For Australian climate scientists, climate change is becoming a personal and serious concern.

Great Barrier Reef headed for death, without a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions – UNESCO report. Great Barrier Reef’s huge economic value to Australia.

Twists and turns in the saga of Adani loan deal for giant Carmichael coal mineFarmers for Climate Action gathering huge support in their fight against Adani coal mine expansion.

John Pratt ‘s climate and coal news.

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Most Australians want renewables to be primary energy source, survey finds. New South Wales’ largest solar energy farm to go ahead.  Melbourne Water’s network of “mini-hydro” electric plants.  Sorry I just can’t keep up! ……..Energy news from REneweconomy.  More  energy news from REneweconomy. 28 June renewable energy and climate news


June 30, 2017 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Karina Lester: the Anangu story, and the Aboriginal fight against nuclear waste dumping

Karina Lester: Aboriginal people do not want a nuclear waste dump in South Australia Karina Lester, The Advertiser June 28, 2017 IT was a huge honour to travel to New York for United Nations negotiations on a historic treaty to ban nuclear weapons — a long journey from Walatina in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in far north west South Australia.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, personal stories, South Australia | Leave a comment

Nuclear ban treaty talks on now. Background of workplace hazards for weapons workers

Confronting the Profits and Legacies of Nuclear Violence By Ray Acheson Global Research, June 28, 2017  Reaching Critical Will 

As the majority of the world’s countries have been gathered at the United Nations negotiating the nuclear weapon ban treaty, the Center for Public Integrity has been releasing installments of a new report about workplace hazards at the US nuclear weapon laboratories. Monday’s installment of the report reveals a “litany of mishaps” across the eight sites that involve workers inhaling radioactive particles, receiving electrical shocks, being burned by acid or in fires, splashed with toxic chemicals, or cut by debris from exploding metal drums. Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the plutonium cores for nuclear warheads are produced, has “violated nuclear industry rules for guarding against a criticality accident three times more often last year” than any of the country’s other 23 nuclear installations combined.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Human race has 3 years left to really make a start on preventing dangerous climate change

World has three years to prevent dangerous climate change, warn experts Since the 1880s, the world’s temperature has risen by about 1C because of greenhouse gases resulting from human activity, Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent @montaukian   29 June 17 The world has three years to start making significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or face the prospect of dangerous global warming, experts have warned in an article in the prestigious journal Nature.

Calling for world leaders to be guided by the scientific evidence rather than “hide their heads in the sand”, they said “entire ecosystems” were already beginning to collapse, summer sea ice was disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs were dying from the heat.

The world could emit enough carbon to bust the Paris Agreementtarget of between 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius in anything from four to 26 years if current levels continue, the article said.

Global emissions had been rising rapidly but have plateaued in recent years. The experts, led by Christiana Figueres, who as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change played a key role in the Paris Agreement, said they must start to fall rapidly from 2020 at the latest.

“The year 2020 is crucially important for another reason, one that has more to do with physics than politics,” they said.

Citing a report published in April, they added: “Should emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain level, the temperature goals set in Paris become almost unattainable.

“Lowering emissions globally is a monumental task, but research tells us that it is necessary, desirable and achievable.”

The article was signed by more than 60 scientists, such as Professor Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, politicians, including former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and ex-Irish President Mary Robinson, businesspeople like Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever, investment managers, environmental campaigners and others.

Since the 1880s, the world’s temperature has risen by about 1C because of greenhouse gases resulting from human activity – a process predicted by a Swedish Nobel Prize-winning scientist in 1895.

The Nature article laid out the effect of this sudden increase on the planet. “Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are already losing mass at an increasing rate,” it said.

“Summer sea ice is disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs are dying from heat stress – entire ecosystems are starting to collapse.”

And it added: “The social impacts of climate change from intensified heatwaves, droughts and sea-level rise are inexorable and affect the poorest and weakest first.”

Humanity is currently emitting about 41 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide a year, but if the Paris target is to be met it only has a carbon ‘budget’ of between 150 and 1,050 gigatonnes.

“If the current rate of annual emissions stays at this level, we would have to drop them almost immediately to zero once we exhaust the budget. Such a ‘jump to distress’ is in no one’s interest. A more gradual descent would allow the global economy time to adapt smoothly,” the experts wrote.

But they urged people not to abandon hope.

“The good news is that it is still possible to meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions begin to fall by 2020,” they said.

Donald Trump, the US President and climate science-denier, has pledged to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, which will take until 2020.

The Nature article urged world leaders to take the opposite approach by using science to guide policy and defending scientists.

“Those in power must stand up for science,” it said.

“French President Emmanuel Macron’s Make Our Planet Great Again campaign [a deliberate play on Mr Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan] is a compelling example.

“He has spoken out to a global audience in support of climate scientists, and invited researchers to move to France to help accelerate action and deliver on the Paris agreement.”

Any delay would pose a threat to human prosperity.

“With no time to wait, all countries should adopt plans for achieving 100 per cent renewable electricity production, while ensuring that markets can be designed to enable renewable-energy expansion,” the experts wrote.

Optimism was also important.

“Recent political events have thrown the future of our world into sharp focus,” they said. “But as before Paris, we must remember that impossible is not a fact, it’s an attitude. It is crucial that success stories are shared.

“There will always be those who hide their heads in the sand and ignore the global risks of climate change.

“But there are many more of us committed to overcoming this inertia. Let us stay optimistic and act boldly together.”

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

United Nations concerned over impact of climate change on Aboriginals: lack of indigenous inclusion in policy-making

WGAR News, 30 June 17 UN ‘raised concerns over disproportionate  impact of climate change on Australia’s Aboriginal population &  called for gov to engage Indigenous peoples when designing policy. 
Adani mine is opposed by Indigenous landowners.’

‘In the last review of Aus’s obligations to the covenant in 2009,  the committee raised issues over domestic emissions & Indigenous peoples,  but this was the first time coal mining was singled out

June 30, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

United Nations committee encourages Australia to rethink its support for coal mining industry

UN committee urges Australia to rethink support for Adani coal mine Climate Home,  29/06/2017,  Human rights review finds Australia’s coal production ambitions will contribute to dangerous climate change and asks government to reconsider By Karl Mathiesen
A UN committee has urged Australia to review its support for expanded coal production, just as Malcolm Turnbull’s government considers loaning Indian company Adani almost $1bn towards a massive new mine project in Queensland.1The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), which reports to the UN high commissioner on human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said Australia’s increasing carbon footprint was “at risk of worsening in the coming years” undermining the country’s pledges to the Paris climate agreement.

In a periodic review of Australia’s performance under a UN treaty on human rights, released this week, the committee noted: “environmental protection has decreased in recent years as shown by the repeal of the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2013, and the State party’s ongoing support to new coal mines and coal-fired power stations”.

In light of this, the committee of 18 international human rights experts encouraged Australia to “review its position in support of coal mines and coal export”.

The Australian government has remained a staunch supporter of the proposed Carmichael mine project, coal from which will generate more carbon emissions than New York City each year it operates.

On a trip to India in April, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull claimed the project would create “tens of thousands of jobs” for Australians – a claim that has been discredited by Adani’s own experts and a Queensland court.

A government infrastructure fund is weighing an application for a near-$1bn loan to Adani for a railway to transport the coal to the coast.

Australian ministers have often argued the Adani mine is backed by a “moral case” for supplying Indians with cheap electricity. The experts on the CESCR are elected by state parties based on their “high moral character”. They include an Indian representative.

The UN recognises that climate change is a threat to human rights. Coal mining and other highly-polluting industries could therefore be viewed as contravening international treaty obligations.

Aside from curbing coal mining, the CESCR recommended Australia’s government immediately introduce new measures to cut its growing carbon emissions and expand renewable energy production.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | 1 Comment

Uranium industry begs for tax-payer help, as it remains in apparently permanent decline

Companies promise payback when prices rise — but until then, uranium wants a break, Casper Star Tribune, Heather Richards 307-266-0592,  Jun 27, 2017 

When the market recovers, the uranium industry won’t need a tax break. But it does now, industry representatives say.

Citing low prices and employment, the Wyoming Mining Association will make the case for a state tax cut on uranium when lawmakers meet Thursday in Casper…..

prices for yellowcake, the powdery ore processed after mining, tumbled as low as $18 per pound last year due to a worldwide glut, from record highs of more than $120 in 2007. Production is down, and employment in the industry has fallen to its lowest level since 2004, according to the Wyoming Mining Association.

Uranium companies need an incentive to invest in new mines and production while the market is suffering…..

Otherwise, production is going to continue to decline as companies dig out the ore available at their existing mines and shy away from the cost of new operations or expansion.

…..But the idea has already sparked pushback by those unimpressed with the association’s argument.

 “’When the market recovers’ has been the theme song of the uranium industry since the 1980s, and they always want some kind of deal,” said Wilma Tope, a board member with the Powder River Basin Resource Council, which opposes a tax cut. “Unfortunately, the history of this industry is one of leaving behind un-reclaimed uranium mines and polluted landscapes for other taxpayers to clean up.”

In a statement released before the committee meeting, the council pointed out that current reclamation sites in Fremont County still need to be addressed, including groundwater concerns at the both the former Split Rock facility near Jeffrey City and the Umetco Minerals Corp. outside Riverton. Cleanup at the American Nuclear Corporation site in Fremont County is on hold due to lack of funds, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The company went under in 1994. Cleanup responsibilities were transferred to the state of Wyoming, according to the commission.

“In other words, the American – and Wyoming – taxpayers are on the hook for reclamation costs for mostly foreign owned companies. This is corporate socialism at its best,” Tope said in a statement…..—-but/article_6533f0f1-64aa-59eb-a458-aead3059624b.html

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More energy news from REneweconomy

Consumers, PV and storage critical to low carbon grid: AEMO
AEMO underlines push on demand side of grid, wanting new market rules and regulations to facilitate rooftop solar, storage, energy efficiency and demand management. It marks major shift for the grid operator, and for the design of Australia’s grid towards consumers rather than generators.

States betting on giant batteries to cut carbon
Some states and electric power companies are rolling out a new weapon against fossil fuels — giant batteries.

  • Commercial buildings get new nabers and save on energy costs
    From 1 July 2017, the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) Program will extend to commercial building spaces of 1,000 square metres and more, helping more businesses save on their energy costs.
  • Cairns Port prepares for the arrival of thirty story high wind turbines
    Eight cargo vessels containing enormous blades, wind towers and more than 450 components for Queensland’s largest wind farm project, RATCH Australia’s Mount Emerald Wind Farm, will soon transit through the Port of Cairns in a boost to local economies.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Farmers for Climate Action gathering huge support in their fight against Adani coal mine expansion

Farmers join fight against Adani coalmine over environmental concerns  More than 2,000 farmers and agriculture leaders express concern proposed Carmichael coalmine could affect groundwater, biodiversity and climate change, Guardian, Michael Slezak, 30 June 17, A group of Australian farmers have joined the large coalition of groups fighting against Adani’s giant Carmichael coalmine, after they became concerned about the affects the mine would have on groundwater, biodiversity, rural communities and climate change.

Farmers for Climate Action – a group of more than 2,000 farmers and agriculture leaders concerned about climate change – became the newest group to join the Stop Adani alliance last week, at the same time as one of its members attracted more than 30,000 signatures to a petition calling on the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, to rescind her commitment to give Adani unlimited free access to groundwater used by farmers in the region.

Longreach farmer Angus Emmott launched the petition last week; a few days later he had an accident on his farm and had to be airlifted to hospital. When he checked on the number of signatures on Wednesday, he was shocked to see there were nearly 30,000……

“It’s too big a danger for the future,” Emmott said. “We need clean water. We need good soil. We need food security. And we have the potential to be a leader in renewable energy in Queensland. We don’t need to be reviving an outdated technology.”

Excited by the number of signatures, Emmott decided to try to get a meeting with Palaszczuk and deliver the petition in person. “The doc says I should take it easy after my accident, but as soon as I get the all-clear to travel I’ll fly to Brisbane to deliver the petition in person. I might bring a few other farmers with me too,” he said in an update posted on the petition website.

Emmott said it appeared a lot of farmers have signed the petition, as well as people in cities who share his concerns. He said he hopes to reach 50,000 signatures before he delivers the petition to Palaszczuk.

The Farmers for Climate Action chief executive, Verity Morgan-Schmidt, said the group had decided to join the Stop Adani alliance mainly because of impacts the proposal would have on groundwater, but also because of concerns about biodiversity, rural communities and the climate. The decision brought the number of groups in the Stop Adani alliance to 13.

“No one can tell us, with any confidence, what impact this project could have on water supplies from underground aquifers because there is no independent or government oversight, or trigger levels that would halt mining,” Morgan-Schmidt said…….

June 30, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, Queensland | Leave a comment

G20 summit July 7-8. Paris climate deal is ‘non negotiable’- Angela Merkel

Paris deal ‘non-negotiable’: Merkel, Herald Sun ,Deutsche Presse Agentur, June 29, 2017  

The Paris climate agreement is “irreversible and non-negotiable,” Chancellor Angela Merkel says, ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg.

The European Union’s remaining 27 members have expressed their “unequivocal” commitment to the accord despite the United States’ decision to leave, Merkel told the Bundestag.

President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that the US would cease participation in the 2015 agreement to halt climate change.

In an implicit reference to Trump, Merkel said that those “who believe the problems of this world can be solved though isolationism and protectionism are sorely mistaken – only together will we manage to find the right answers to the central questions of our time.”……

Merkel is hosting the G20 summit on July 7-8, which will bring together leaders including Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

John Pratt ‘s climate and coal news

  • SECOND YEAR OF BLEACHING IMPACTS GREAT BARRIER REEF – GBRMPA UPDATE 29/5/17  Global coral bleaching over the last two years has led to widespread coral decline and habitat loss on the Great Barrier Reef.
    Since December 2015, the Great Barrier Reef has been exposed to above average sea surface temperatures, due to the combined effects of climate change and a strong El Niño.

    These conditions triggered mass coral bleaching in late summer 2016 and led to an estimated 29 per cent loss of shallow water coral Reef-wide, according to findings by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
    Winter sea surface temperatures in 2016 remained above average and, by the beginning of the 2016-17 summer, the accumulated heat stress on the Reef resulted in a second wave of mass bleaching.
    Staff from the Marine Park Authority took part in aerial surveys conducted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and the results confirmed the extent and severity of the 2017 bleaching event.

  • Climate Change Could Spark Another Great Recession! #StopAdani 

    This Time, It May Be Permanent

    Climate change will wreak havoc on the U.S. economy, leading to as much as a 3% decline in national GDP by the end of the 21st century if left unaddressed — and losses will be far higher in some of the country’s poorest areas, according to a new study.

  • Extract from Cairns Regional Council Climate Change Strategy #StopAdani 

    2.4 Implications for the region

    Tourism –

    Many tourists visit the region solely because of the natural beauty of its reefs and rainforests.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

100 Percent Renewable Grid Is Possible – developments in USA

Sempra VP Surprises, Says 100 Percent Renewable Grid Is Possible Now   By Ingrid Lobet / inewsource A vice president with Sempra Energy, one of the nation’s largest utilities, made a stunning admission to a roomful of gas and oil executives this week: there is no technical impediment to California getting all of its energy from renewables — now.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment