Australian news, and some related international items

Radioactive wastes: South Australia

Royal Adelaide Hospital waste to be shipped back overseas when it closes, Daniel Wills, State Political Editor,   August 27, 2017  

RADIOACTIVE waste currently stored at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital is set to be sent back overseas as the site is cleared when health services shift to the other end of North Tce.

With demolition and redevelopment of the site imminent once medical services are transferred to the new hospital next week, The Advertiser can reveal the State Government is developing plans to return the waste back to it European or British origin.

More than a year ago, Renewal SA chief executive John Hanlon told a State Parliament committee how the Government was working on plans to house the waste in SA when the old RAH closed. While no proposal was settled, officials investigated a new SA site that could also be a repository for other low-level radioactive waste scattered in other sites around the state.

A  SA Health spokeswoman said the old RAH waste, mostly used for patient treatment and research, was no longer needed once the shift to the new hospital was complete.

“The radioactive sources are currently stored in lead-lined boxes in a secure store in preparation for the removal process,” she said. “Once the old RAH site is decommissioned, the majority of waste radioactive sources will be safely returned to the country of origin.”

Most of the radioactive sources at the old RAH used for medical purposes came from the UK or Europe. SA Health is also working to identify any other origin countries. Final disposal is expected to be dealt with by the source material’s manufacturers.

The department is working with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and the state Environment Protection Authority to ensure safe, and legal removal. The old RAH is one of 78 different facilities in SA currently storing low or intermediate level waste, according to the government’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

Low level waste is generated in hospitals and by industry. It comprises paper, rags, tools, and gloves with short-lived radioactivity that do not require shielding during normal handling.

Intermediate waste is typically metal and other materials from decommissioned reactors.  It emits higher levels of radiation and requires shielding during handling, transport and storage.

Parliament was told in 2011 that radioactive waste currently at the old RAH is in a basement.SA Health is responsible for the removal of all known radioactive sources before the site is handed over to Renewal SA, which will oversee a $1 billion redevelopment.

August 28, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Dr Jim Green debunks the hype about Generation IV new nukes

James Hansen’s Generation IV nuclear fallacies and fantasies, REneweconomy, Jim Green, 28 Aug 2017

The two young co-founders of nuclear engineering start-up Transatomic Power were embarrassed earlier this year when their claims about their molten salt reactor design were debunked, forcing some major retractions.

The claims of MIT nuclear engineering graduates Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie were trumpeted in MIT’s Technology Review under the headline, ‘What if we could build a nuclear reactor that costs half as much, consumes nuclear waste, and will never melt down?’

MIT physics professor Kord Smith debunked a number of Transatomic’s key claims. Smith says he asked Transatomic to run a test which, he says, confirmed that “their claims were completely untrue.”

Kennedy Maize wrote about Transatomic’s troubles in Power Magazine: “[T]his was another case of technology hubris, an all-to-common malady in energy, where hyperbolic claims are frequent and technology journalists all too credulous.” Pro-nuclear commentator Dan Yurman said that “other start-ups with audacious claims are likely to receive similar levels of scrutiny” and that it “may have the effect of putting other nuclear energy entrepreneurs on notice that they too may get the same enhanced levels of analysis of their claims.”

Well, yes, others making false claims about Generation IV reactor concepts might receive similar levels of scrutiny … or they might not. Arguably the greatest sin of the Transatomic founders was not that they inadvertently made false claims, but that they are young, and in Dewan’s case, female. Ageing men seem to have a free pass to peddle as much misinformation as they like without the public shaming that the Transatomic founders have been subjected to. A case in point is climate scientist James Hansen ‒ you’d struggle to find any critical commentary of his nuclear misinformation outside the environmental and anti-nuclear literature.

Hansen states that 115 new reactor start-ups would be required each year to 2050 to replace fossil fuel electricity generation ‒ a total of about 4,000 reactors. Let’s assume that Generation IV reactors do the heavy lifting, and let’s generously assume that mass production of Generation IV reactors begins in 2030. That would necessitate about 200 reactor start-ups per year from 2030 to 2050 ‒ or four every week. Good luck with that.

Moreover, the assumption that mass production of Generation IV reactors might begin in or around 2030 is unrealistic. A report by a French government authority, the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, states: “There is still much R&D to be done to develop the Generation IV nuclear reactors, as well as for the fuel cycle and the associated waste management which depends on the system chosen.”

Likewise, a US Government Accountability Office report on the status of small modular reactors (SMRs) and other ‘advanced’ reactor concepts in the US concluded: “Both light water SMRs and advanced reactors face additional challenges related to the time, cost, and uncertainty associated with developing, certifying or licensing, and deploying new reactor technology, with advanced reactor designs generally facing greater challenges than light water SMR designs. It is a multi-decade process …”

An analysis recently published in the peer-reviewed literature found that the US government has wasted billions of dollars on Generation IV R&D with little to show for it. Lead researcher Dr Ahmed Abdulla, from the University of California, said that “despite repeated commitments to non-light water reactors, and substantial investments … (more than $2 billion of public money), no such design is remotely ready for deployment today.”……

August 28, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Kimba nuclear enthusiasts should check out the situation in Japan

Paul Waldon, Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, August 26
Nuclear promotes what it is, and that is “DEATH”. Look at Japan a country that lived by nuclear and now dying by nuclear, with a population that is reducing every year. The year that followed the triple meltdown at Daiichi Fukushima 20,000 people worked at the plant with many leaving after 3 months with high exposure levels of radiation reaching their safety limits. 3,000 people worked at the plant everyday with a unrealistic program to cleanup in a 40 year time frame.
It’s common  for young people to refuse to work there, workers receiving 10x more radiation than other plants, many quit because of pay and perks being cut, contracts reduced by 30%. TEPCO and contractors finding it hard to source skilled workers with the expertise to mitigate the contamination, and the stigma of radiation dividing communities.
So if you are looking for a job at $125 a day for a 20 day month taking home $2500, where you are shunned and treated like a leper with a stigma of radiation, you DON”T need to promote nuclear waste abandonment for the unwilling communities of Hawker or Kimba, just pack your bags and move to Japan.

August 28, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Afghanistan’s other great tragedy – climate change

According to a report by the UNEP, the World Food Programme and the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), the biggest climate hazards to Afghan livelihoods are drought and floods, caused by irregular snowmelt or rainfall.

global warming should be taken as seriously as fighting insurgents. “Terrorism is not going to be lingering here for ever,” he says. “But climate change is an ongoing death sentence.”

How climate change is a ‘death sentence’ in Afghanistan’s highlands, Global warming should be taken as seriously as fighting insurgents, say those witnessing the savage impact first-hand, Guardian, Sune Engel Rasmussen , 28 Aug 17 , 

The central highlands of Afghanistan are a world away from the congested chaos of the country’s cities. Hills roll across colossal, uninhabited spaces fringed by snow-flecked mountains, set against blistering blue skies.

In this spectacular, harsh landscape, one can pinpoint more or less where human settlement becomes impossible: at an altitude of 3,000 metres (9,840ft).

This is where Aziza’s family lives, in the village of Borghason. In a good year, they just about survive by cultivating wheat and potatoes for food and a small income. However, when the rains fail, as they increasingly do, the family is plunged into debt, unable to reimburse merchants for that year’s seeds. “Last year, we had to borrow money from the bazaar,” Aziza says.

Things are about to get tougher. The precariousness of life in Bamiyan, one of Afghanistan’s poorest provinces, leaves villages like Borghason at the mercy of climate change.

Continue reading

August 28, 2017 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Australia: no preparedness for nuclear disaster

What’s the plan for nuclear survivors? No, really, Gympie Times,  Julia Lawrence OAM, 27th Aug 2017 I FIND it hard to believe we are not up-to-date with nuclear disaster preparedness in this country.

August 28, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Dr Jim Green debunks the claims about Integral Fast Reactors solving the nuclear waste problme

James Hansen’s Generation IV nuclear fallacies and fantasies, Jim Green, REneweconomy, 28 Aug 2017,

“…….Hansen claims that “modern nuclear technology can … solve the waste disposal problem by burning current waste and using fuel more efficiently” and he states that nuclear waste “is not waste, it is fuel for 4th generation reactors!”

But even if IFRs ‒ Hansen’s favoured Generation IV concept ‒ worked as hoped, they would still leave residual actinides, and long-lived fission products, and long-lived intermediate-level waste in the form of reactor and reprocessing components … all of it requiring deep geological disposal. UC Berkeley nuclear engineer Prof. Per Peterson states: “Even integral fast reactors (IFRs), which recycle most of their waste, leave behind materials that have been contaminated by transuranic elements and so cannot avoid the need to develop deep geologic disposal.”

So if IFRs don’t obviate the need for deep geological repositories, what problem do they solve? They don’t solve the WMD proliferation problem associated with nuclear power. They would make more efficient use of uranium … but uranium is plentiful.

In theory, IFRs would gobble up nuclear waste and convert it into low-carbon electricity. In practice, the EBR-II reactor in Idaho ‒ an IFR prototype, shut down in 1994 ‒ has left a legacy of troublesome waste.

This saga is detailed in a recent article and a longer report by the Union of Concerned Scientists’ senior scientist Dr Ed Lyman. Lyman statesthat attempts to treat IFR spent fuel with pyroprocessing have not made management and disposal of the spent fuel simpler and safer, they have “created an even bigger mess”.

Lyman concludes:

“Everyone with an interest in pyroprocessing should reassess their views given the real-world problems experienced in implementing the technology over the last 20 years at [Idaho National Laboratory]. They should also note that the variant of the process being used to treat the EBR-II spent fuel is less complex than the process that would be needed to extract plutonium and other actinides to produce fresh fuel for fast reactors. In other words, the technology is a long way from being demonstrated as a practical approach for electricity production.”

Japan is about to get first-hand experience of the waste legacy associated with Generation IV reactors in light of the decision to decommission the Monju fast neutron reactor. Decommissioning Monju has a hefty price-tag ‒ far more than for conventional light-water reactors. According to a 2012 estimate by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, decommissioning Monju will cost an estimated ¥300 billion (A$3.5bn). That estimate includes ¥20 billion to remove spent fuel from the reactor ‒ but no allowance is made for the cost of disposing of the spent fuel, and in any case Japan has no deep geological repository to dispose of the waste….

August 28, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

A truly good news story – the cuttlefish are back in Spencer Gulf

South Australians – pat yourselves on the back. When the nuclear lobby wanted to put the nuclear industry up at the top of Spencer Gulf – South Australia said “NO” – as South Australians have been doing for decades – fighting back. Nuclear power would have caused releases of hot water into the Gulf, ruining the special temperature conditions essential for the breeding of these unique and beautiful animals.

We don’t really know why they dwindled, and why they’re now back. But hooray for their return!

Thousands of giant cuttlefish back in SA, Australian Associated Press, August 25, 2017 Thousands of giant cuttlefish are flocking to the rocky coastline of the upper Spencer Gulf in South Australia to spawn in record numbers, reserving a worrying decline.

More than 100,000 cuttlefish have journeyed to Point Lowly near Whyalla to breed, according to data from the state government’s principal research institute.

The number is up from a record low of just over 13,000 in 2013.

The giant Australian cuttlefish – which can reach up to 60cm in length and weigh five kilograms – live for two to three years and migrate annually to Spencer Gulf to spawn.

The worrying decline in their numbers in 2013 promoted more research into their breeding patterns. This year’s population estimate is the third-highest recorded over the last decade,” said senior research scientist Dr Mike Steer.

It is still not completely understood why cuttlefish migrate to the Spencer Gulf nor why their numbers declined, but fishing restrictions have been put in place until 2018 as a precaution.

“The last five years of research has clearly demonstrated the population’s capacity to rebound from low numbers very quickly,” Dr Steer said.

August 28, 2017 Posted by | environment, South Australia | Leave a comment

Examining the connection between cyclones and climate change

Cyclones and climate change: connecting the dots,,  by Marlowe HOOD, 27 Aug 17, Paris (AFP) – Scientists freely acknowledge they don’t know everything about how global warming affects hurricanes like the one pummelling southeast Texas.

But what they do know is enough to keep them up at night. The amplifying impact of sea level rise, warming oceans, and hotter air — all incontrovertible consequences of climate change — is basic physics, they say.  Likewise accelerated shifts in intensity, such as the sudden strengthening that turned Harvey from a Category 2 to a Category 4 hurricane — on a scale of 5 — just as it made landfall Friday.

What’s missing is a detailed track record of hurricanes past, the kind of decades-long log of measurements that climate scientists need to discern the fingerprint of human influence.  Starting in the 1970s, satellite data allowed for a better tally, but even that wasn’t enough.

“It is awfully difficult to see climate change in historical data so far because hurricanes are fairly rare,” Kerry Emmanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at MIT in Boston, told AFP. Experts, in other words, do not disagree on the potential of manmade global warming to magnify the destructive power of the tropical storms known variously around the world as cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons.  Rather, they are confounded — for now — by a lack of information.

“Just because the data don’t allow for unambiguous detection yet, doesn’t mean that the changes haven’t been occurring,” noted James Kossin, a scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Center for Weather and Climate in Madison, Wisconsin.

Kossin figured out that cyclones have drifted poleward in their respective hemispheres over the last three decades, a finding hailed by other hurricane gurus as the most unambiguous evidence so far that global warming has already had a direct impact. Continue reading

August 28, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Over a Century Later, Marie Curie’s Research Papers Are Still Radioactive

Marie Curie’s Research Papers Are Still Radioactive 100+ Years Later  by Ted Mills 
When researching a famous historical figure, access to their work and materials usually proves to be one of the biggest obstacles. But things are much more difficult for those writing about the life of Marie Curie, the scientist who, along her with husband Pierre, discovered polonium and radium and birthed the idea of particle physics. Her notebooks, her clothing, her furniture, pretty much everything surviving from her Parisian suburban house, is radioactive, and will be for 1,500 years or more.

If you want to look at her manuscripts, you have to sign a liability waiver at France’s Bibliotheque Nationale, and then you can access the notes that are sealed in a lead-lined box. The Curies didn’t know about the dangers of radioactive materials, though they did know about radioactivity. Their research attempted to find out which substances were radioactive and why, and so many dangerous elements–thorium, uranium, plutonium–were just sitting there in their home laboratory, glowing at night, which Curie thought beautiful, “like faint, fairy lights,” she wrote in her autobiography. Marie Curie carried these glowing objects around in her pockets. She and her husband wore standard lab clothing, nothing more.
Marie Curie died at age 66 in 1934, from aplastic anemia, attributed to her radioactive research. Continue reading

August 28, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Without Clean Energy Target, Australia’s booming renewable energy will flounder: Frydenberg prevaricates

Renewable energy booming but could soon turn to bust, analysts warn, The Age, Nicole Hasham , 27 Aug 17

Australia produced enough renewable energy to power 70 per cent of households last financial year, new data shows, but advocates warn the booming industry will flounder unless the Turnbull government commits to a clean energy target.

The government is sharply divided over whether to adopt the target, the central recommendation of Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s review of the national electricity market…….

Mr Frydenberg cited Clean Energy Council figures showing there was a record $8 billion of renewable investment underway, delivering more than 4000MW of new renewable generation capacity.

He has previously said the clean energy target, if implemented, would not come into effect until 2020 so there was “no rush” for the government to make a decision……

August 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

China has more than doubled its end-of-decade solar power target

China has more than doubled its end-of-decade solar power target, with new
installations dramatically outstripping expectation, according to the
government’s energy agency. By the end of July this year, China’s solar
PV capacity topped 112GW, after installing a stunning 35GW in just seven
months — more than twice as much as installed by any other country in all
of 2016.

As a result, total solar PV capacity now exceeds the government’s 2020 goal of 105GW, set as recently as last year. This could have created a very confusing situation for the industry – after years of
record-setting installations, there was no target to hit – but the
National Energy Administration (NEA) responded by setting new, ambitious
annual installation targets.

These targets would take capacity to 213GW in
2020 — which is five times larger than current capacity of the United
States. That would mean covering an area of land equivalent to greater
London – 1500km2 – with solar panels. Current growth rates suggest
China could even surpass that new, higher target.

August 28, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Enough renewable energy to power 70% of Australian homes 

Renewable energy generates enough power to run 70% of Australian homes

Renewable Energy Index shows sector will generate power to run 90% of homes once wind and solar projects being built in 2016-17 are completed, Guardian, Joshua Robertson, 28 Aug 17, Australia’s renewable energy sector is within striking distance of matching national household power consumption, cranking out enough electricity to run 70% of homes last financial year, new figures show.

The first Australian Renewable Energy Index, produced by Green Energy Markets, finds the sector will generate enough power to run 90% of homes once wind and solar projects under construction in 2016-17 are completed. The index, funded by GetUp through supporter donations, underlines the advance of renewables, despite Australia’s electricity markets still leaning heavily on carbon-emitting coal and gas-fired generation.

Renewables, which made up just 7% of national electricity output a decade ago, accounted for 17.2% last financial year. This jumped to 18.8% last month. This is saving the power sector from carbon pollution equivalent to taking more than half of all cars in Australia off the road, according to Green Energy Markets.

 The biggest single source of renewable power remained hydro-electricity (40%), followed by wind (31%) and rooftop solar (18%), the index found. Less than 2% came from large solar farms, suggesting the best is yet to come from this arm of the renewables industry which has an array of large-scale projects underway.

Green Energy Markets analyst Tristan Edis said the emergence of renewables, in particular wind and solar, as a “significant source of power” had ushered in a “construction jobs and investment boom”.

“The renewable energy sector has staged a remarkable recovery, after investment completely dried-up under former prime minister Tony Abbott,” Edis said.

He said investors had “recovered their confidence under Malcolm Turnbull”, with help also from “a range of state government initiatives”. Edis said the renewables sector was on track to meet the federal government’s renewable energy target of 20% of total generation by 2020 over a year early, by the end of 2018.

However, the renewable jobs boom underpinned by the RET could “soon turn to bust”, he said.

Renewable investment beyond the RET risked collapsing without the Turnbull government moving forward on chief scientist Alan Finkel’s recommendation for a future “clean energy target”, he said.

At least 46 large-scale energy projects under construction by the end of June were providing enough work to employ 8,868 people full-time for a year. This figure had surged to 10,000 by July. Most jobs were in NSW (3,018), thanks largely to wind farms, while Queensland (2,625) was next, with 70% of its jobs coming from solar farms.

Rooftop solar installations supported a further 3,769 full-time jobs across Australia in 2016-17.

With most projects underway in Queensland, large solar farms still generated less than 2% of renewable energy in 2016-17, the index found.

Generation from rooftop solar, which was “back in 2008 little more than a rounding error”, had “grown spectacularly”, Edis said.

More than 150,000 systems installed in the last year alone would produce enough energy for 226,000 homes, he said.

“Meanwhile these solar systems will also save consumers $1.5 billion off their electricity bills over the next 10 years.”

Miriam Lyons, GetUp’s energy campaigns director, said that “everyday Australians are voting with their rooftops” in a move that “heralds the end of the era of big polluting energy companies dominating the market and manipulating prices to fill their own pockets”.

“Who do we have to thank for the renewables boom? Certainly not the federal government,” she said.

“Instead we can thank the thousands of everyday Australians who stood up and defended the national [RET] from Tony Abbott’s attacks, who saved [the Australian Renewable Energy Agency] from federal government budget cuts, and who pushed their state governments into showing some leadership on clean energy.”

The Australian Renewable Energy Index will be published monthly.

August 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Voices of reason call for immediate end  to NT Indigenous Intervention

~ Jeff McMullen,10655

” … Several outspoken Elders,  including Utopia’s Rosalie Kunoth-Monks  and speakers from the Yolgnu Nations Assembly  will launch the statement of support in Melbourne.

“They say the slow strangulation of services to the smaller homelands and the suffocating government control of almost all aspects of community life  is a creeping extinction for these Aboriginal people. …

“The group statement concludes:

“We call on the Australian Government to heed the call of Northern Territory Elders  for an immediate end to the racism and discrimination of the Intervention policies which are an ongoing stain on the Australian nation.

“It is time that the Australian Governments respect and negotiate with remote living Indigenous people in good faith, demonstrate proper duty of care to them and allow all First Nations of Australia the right to self-determination.”

August 28, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull tries to look climate change good, with Snowy Hydro funding

Malcolm Turnbull to announce millions in funding for Snowy Hydro 2.0 pet project, The Age,  James Massol, 27 Aug 17 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is set to announce millions in extra funding for his pet project, Snowy Hydro 2.0, after visiting the power station on Monday morning. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is set to announce millions in extra funding for his pet project, Snowy Hydro 2.0, after visiting the power station on Monday morning.

The announcement is due to be made in News Corp papers on Monday, but Fairfax Media has learnt the details ahead of time.

Mr Turnbull will attempt to focus on electricity prices and energy policy for the entire week ahead, in an attempt to shift focus away from the citizenship fiasco….

The feasibility study is due to be completed by the end of year; work is already under way on technical and drilling work and it will soon ramp up to be a 24-hour-a-day operation……

The expansion of Snowy Hydro, which will conservatively cost at least $2 billion and which will take at least four years to complete, is designed to provide power for an extra 500,000 homes when finished. The bill for the project could effectively double from $2 billion to $4 billion because of essential upgrades to power transmission lines into Melbourne and Sydney.

When completed, it will effectively function as a giant battery for the east coast electricity market and the new power station will have an estimated generation capacity of 2000 megawatts…..

ARENA began talks with Snowy Hydro about working on the project in February, about a month before the Prime Minister announced the project, and it is hoped the know-how the agency gains from working on Snowy Hydro 2.0 will be used on other pumped hydro storage projects.

The Commonwealth owns 13 per cent of the scheme, NSW 58 per cent and the Victorian government 29 per cent.

August 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Gloves are off in Adani megamine fight

ADANI will chase activists and environmental groups for an estimated $1 million in court damages after receiving a slap on the wrist for coal dust spill…. (subscribers only) news/queensland/adani-plays-ha rdball-with-protesters-to-get- its-carmichael-mine-built/news -story/e9cffaf4f9a0fb631f80ca1 fb3fd1336

August 28, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment