Australian news, and some related international items

Deep divisions caused in rural community of Kimba, over Federal govt’s radioactive trash dump plan.

Community torn over Kimba nuclear plan, Eureka Street Michele Madigan |  28 August 2017 The Unlucky Australians, the documentary of the Gurindjis’ campaign for their land, aired on the ABC late on Sunday night 20 August 2017. The Gurindjis’ successful struggle against the combined might of the Vestey empire and the Australian federal government is one of the greatest Australian stories……

What struck me most was their complete solidarity. Despite the government’s intense pressure — the withdrawal of the blind man’s pension, the promise of solid brick houses built in sight of their tin and bush humpies, or any other threat and enticement — every Gurindji stood firm.

Half a century after the Gurindji Walkoff and half a continent away, on Saturday 19 August at a gathering in Port Adelaide, two modern beleaguered groups, one Aboriginal, one non-Aboriginal, shared their current experiences in striving to protect their own lands and ways of life. Like the Gurindji, their struggle is with the federal government and this time, indirectly, with another big business — the nuclear industry. In contrast to the Gurindji struggle however, modern day communities and even families are being torn apart by enticements and pressures.

Two months ago, South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill conceded that there is ‘no bipartisan government support’ and ‘not sufficient community support’ to continue with the extraordinary scheme that a SA government sponsored nuclear royal commission had recommended. The Premier gave a commitment that a State Labor government, if re-elected, would now not pursue a high-level international nuclear waste dump.

The federal government however continues its pursuit in SA — the disposable state — of a federal dump for the intermediate long-term nuclear waste from the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor and for medical waste. Now, once again, three sites are being offered up: two in Kimba, at the top of Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, as well as the ongoing Flinders Ranges site.

At the 19 August meeting, Kimba farmers spoke of the offers of a paltry $10 million and a tiny 15 (or fewer) permanent jobs as the payoff for the deep divisions and the certain risk to their markets a federal dumpsite would bring. Farmer Toni Scott, overcome by describing a formerly close-knit community now torn apart, broke down in tears. The close voting statistics for and against the site belie the former Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan’s assertion that Kimba is clearly in favour.

Farmer Tom Harris’s neighbour is one of two Kimba farmers who have offered possible dumpsites. However the site is closer to Tom’s family homestead than it is to the neighbour’s. It was sobering to hear his facts. Kimba region farmers ‘are recognised as some of the best dry farmers in the world’ but the competition between grain farmers for international markets is so intense that the warning from the professionals is clear: proximity to a nuclear waste dump will have predictably disastrous negative effects. And the irony — ‘It’s the farmers who’ve kept the town going.’

Meanwhile, the Adnymathanha and other Flinders Ranges station and townspeople continue their efforts to protect SA’s iconic Flinders Ranges from the same fate. During the 31 months it has been a preferred site, their trauma has deepened as they have seen other locals acquiesce. Sadly, with the government’s ‘no-strings-attached’ $2 million for community projects, the tearing apart of families has intensified.

The Gurindji had Frank Hardy and Australian unions supporting them during their terrible privations. Many Kimba farmers and townspeople, and the Adnyamathanha, together with some of the townspeople and most of the Flinders Ranges landholders, are grateful for their own southern (or eastern) supporters. They plead for more: ‘Please help us to be heard!’


August 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Asia – 1200 killed by floods

As Storm Harvey dominates headlines, floods are devastating South Asia  {excellent photos]   

The extreme weather has left around a third of Bangladesh submerged underwater.

People left without proper homes or shelter could be at risk from waterborne diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea and the waters are likely to cause food shortages and malnutrition. Bangladesh have deployed thousands of medical teams, whose main priority is survivors without access to water and sanitary facilities.

While in India, helicopters are being used to rescue stranded survivors, who may have climbed to high points during the floods.

Various flood relief camps have been set up to provide food and shelter.

Indian authorities have also revealed that endangered animals have been killed as water overwhelmed wildlife reserves.

August 29, 2017 Posted by | General News | 2 Comments

Tensions at ‘tipping point’ – Trump, after North Korea tests missile, flying over Japan

All options on the table after missile: Trump Sky News ,  30 August 2017 US president Donald Trump has said ‘all options are on the table’ after North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan.

Mr Trump spoke as China said tensions on the Korean peninsula were now at ‘tipping point’.

North Korea fired a midrange ballistic missile that flew over Japan on Tuesday, a test considered one of the most provocative ever from the reclusive state.

It came as US and South Korean forces conduct annual military exercises on the peninsula. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated Beijing’s call for peace talks, saying ‘pressure and sanctions’ against North Korea ‘cannot fundamentally solve the issue’, and said the country needed to exercise restraint.

‘The UN Security Council has put through several resolutions and sanctions have all along been put in place but everyone can see whether they’ve had actual results,’ she added.

‘On the one hand, sanctions have continued to be put in place via resolutions and on the other hand North Korea’s nuclear and missile launch process is still continuing.’……–trump.html

August 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Danger of flooding to nuclear reactors in South Texas

As Historic Flooding Grips Texas, Groups Demand Nuclear Plant Be Shut Down

This storm and flood is absolutely without precedent even before adding the possibility of a nuclear accident that could further imperil millions of people who are already battling for their lives.”

byJon Queally, staff writer, 29 Aug 17, As record-breaking rainfall and unprecedented flooding continue to batter the greater Houston area and along the Gulf coast on Tuesday, energy watchdogs groups are warning of “a credible threat of a severe accident” at two nuclear reactors still operating at full capacity in nearby Bay City, Texas.

Three groups—Beyond Nuclear, South Texas Association for Responsible Energy, and the SEED Coalition—are calling for the immediate shutdown of the South Texas Project (STP) which sits behind an embankment they say could be overwhelmed by the raging flood waters and torrential rains caused by Hurricane Harvey.

“Both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the STP operator have previously recognized a credible threat of a severe accident initiated by a breach of the embankment wall that surrounds the 7,000-acre reactor cooling water reservoir,” said Paul Gunter, director of the Beyond Nuclear’s Reactor Oversight Project, in a statement by the coalition on Tuesday.

The groups warn that as Harvey—which on Tuesday was declared the most intense rain event  in U.S. history—continues to dump water on the area, a breach of the embankment wall surrounding the twin reactors would create “an external flood potentially impacting the electrical supply from the switchyard to the reactor safety systems.” In turn, the water has the potential to “cause high-energy electrical fires and other cascading events initiating a severe accident leading to core damage.” Even worse, they added, “any significant loss of cooling water inventory in the Main Cooling Reservoir would reduce cooling capacity to the still operating reactors that could result in a meltdown.”

 With the nearby Colorado River already cresting at extremely high levels and flowing at 70 times the normal rate, Karen Hadden, director of SEED Coalition, warned that the continue rainfall might create flooding that could reach the reactors. “There is plenty of reserve capacity on our electric grid,” she said, “so we don’t have to run the reactors in order to keep the lights on. With anticipated flooding of the Colorado River, the nuclear reactors should be shut down now to ensure safety.”

Last week, the STP operators said that safety for their workers and local residents was their top concern, but that they would keep the plant operating despite the approaching storm.

Susan Dancer, president of the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy, said that as residents in Bay City—herself included—were being forced to leave their homes under manadatory evacaution orders, it makes no sense to keep the nuclear plant online.

“Our 911 system is down, no emergency services are available, and yet the nuclear reactors are still running. Where is the concern for employees and their families? Where is the concern for public safety? This is an outrageous and irresponsible decision,” declared Dancer. “This storm and flood is absolutely without precedent even before adding the possibility of a nuclear accident that could further imperil millions of people who are already battling for their lives.”

As Harvey hovers over the coastal region, heavy rains are expected to persist for days even as the storm system creeps toward to Louisiana in the east.

But no matter how remote the possibility, said Gunter, “it’s simply prudent that the operator put this reactor into its safest condition, cold shutdown.”

August 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We can no longer tolerate climate change denial

In February last year CSIRO announced massive funding cuts to its climate change research division, only to partially overturn the decision in the face of sustained national and international criticism. This year the government ended all funding for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.

As with America’s, Australia’s ongoing failure to deal with climate change carries practical and moral consequence. We cannot significantly cut our greenhouse gas emissions without determined national effort and we cannot engage our diplomatic expertise and might to contribute more to an international solution until we cut our emissions.

We cannot any longer afford to tolerate the scientific myopia exemplified by Mr Trump and Mr Abbott.   EDITORIAL AUGUST 30 2017 The United States Weather Service, normally not an agency prone to colourful language, issued an extraordinary statement on Sunday regarding hurricane Harvey, saying, “This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown beyond anything experienced”. It is now predicted the storm could eventually drop over 150 centimetres of rain in some areas, more than any other in the region’s history.

Far from over, it is already clear that Harvey’s impact is catastrophic. Six people are confirmed dead and that number is expected to increase. Cost estimates range up to $US100 billion.

Meanwhile flooding in Bangladesh, India and Nepal during the region’s worst monsoon season in a decade has killed an estimated 1200 people.

Climate scientists are reluctant to attribute any particular weather event to global warming, though in this case the signs are that human behaviour contributed to the formation and severity of the storm and its impact. Continue reading

August 29, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The Finkel clean eneergy target will not meet Australia’s goals in Paris climate agreement

Finkel clean energy target too weak for Paris climate goal, analysis shows Target will transfer pressure to other sectors of the economy to reduce their emissions, research shows,  Research commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation on the clean energy target says the trajectory of emissions reduction is not strong enough. Guardian, Katharine Murphy, 29 Aug 17

The clean energy target recommended by Australia’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel, won’t deliver Australia’s obligations under the Paris agreement and will only transfer pressure to other sectors of the economy to reduce their emissions, according to new analysis.

The new research comes as the Coalition’s difficult internal deliberations over the Finkel review are set to resume, with a report due from the Australian Energy Market Operator about the dispatchable power requirements of the electricity grid after the closure of two ageing coal-fired power stations.

And it comes as the prime minister will on Wednesday hold a second meeting with Australia’s major energy retailers in an attempt to make it easier for consumers to switch their power provider – a response to acute political pressure over rising electricity bills.

Discussions between the government and the companies in the lead up to Wednesday’s talks have centred on whether energy companies can offer monthly billing to try and prevent bill shock, and whether more can be done to communicate with hardship customers to ensure they aren’t locked in to inflated power contracts.

The new research on the clean energy target has been commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation.

 While some government MPs oppose the central recommendation of the Finkel review – a 28% clean energy target – on the basis it is too ambitious, and will lock too much renewable energy into the system, the new modelling from the firm Reputex says the central problem is the emissions reduction trajectory is too weak.

The modelling says the Finkel trajectory would see Australia’s electricity emissions being phased out between 2095-2101 – a timeframe that is inconsistent with the Paris goal of limiting warming to two degrees, and of reaching carbon neutrality by mid-century.

It also points out that if the electricity sector does comparatively less of the heavy lifting on emissions reductions, the burden will fall more heavily on other sectors, with the largest reductions then falling on high emissions growth sectors, rather than the sectors with the largest share of total national emissions……..

August 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Hurricane Harvey: the climate change connection

Hurricane Harvey: The link to climate change, BBC, 30 Aug 17 

August 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian govt -‘no plans’ to build or fund coal power, says PM Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull says Government has ‘no plans’ to build or fund coal power, ABC 28 Aug 17 By political reporter Henry Belot ,

Key points:

  • The Coalition has accepted 49 of the 50 recommendations from the Finkel Report
  • Barnaby Joyce, Tony Abbott among MPs wanting the CET to allow more coal power plants
  • PM Malcolm Turnbull says his Government has funded green energy “to a large degree”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says his Government has no plans to build a new coal-fired power station, and he wants to resolve a fractious debate over a clean energy target (CET) by the end of the year.

August 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

17 August More REneweconomy News

  • Turnbull doesn’t need new baseload, he just needs some balls
    No-one wants to invest in new baseload power. It makes no economic, or environmental sense. Deep down, Malcolm Turnbull understands this, but does he have the courage of his convictions, if that is what they were, to overcome the nonsense from the conservative ideologues?
  • WA could be solar exporter, but it needs a solar industry first
    Report says WA’s Pilbara must first establish local solar industry if it wants to offer Indonesia competitive rates on PV generation.
  • AGL hits pause on virtual power plant in technology “rethink”
    AGL tells its “virtual power plant” customers in Adelaide their installation will be delayed while it reviews technology choices for the program.
  • New demand management plan could match “half a Hazelwood”
    AER’s proposed demand management scheme could deliver flexible capacity equivalent to half the closed Hazelwood coal-plant.
  • Hundreds register interest in Qld renewables + storage auction
    Queensland’s 400MW reverse auction for renewables and energy storage has been flooded with interest.
  • Wind and solar produce three times more energy than IEA admits
    The IEA energy statistics underestimates the role of wind and solar in the world’s energy mix – by a factor of three. Here’s why.
  • Vector to boost its smart energy solutions
    Vector will be expanding its energy storage options for residential, industrial, and commercial customers, starting with LG Chem’s battery storage products.
  • Delta Electricity engages Entura to support Vales Point solar farm
    Specialist power and water consulting firm Entura has been appointed by Delta Electricity to provide engineering services to support the development of the proposed Vales Point power station solar farm.
  • Battery storage: Who’s leading on quality and brand recognition?
    Tesla and LG Chem are leading the battery storage market in terms of brand recognition, but the issue of quality throws up some other names.

August 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

REneweconomy news 30 August

  • Renewables delivering – despite enemies and “lukewarm defenders”
    Green Energy Markets Renewable Energy Index shows an industry delivering on its promise: fulfilling a large and growing part of Australia’s energy needs while also providing meaningful employment.
  • Sapphire Wind Farm seeks community investors in possible Australian first
    Sapphire Wind Farm developer calls on community investors to take shares in what will be NSW biggest wind farm.
  • Snowy Hydro 2.0 Powering Ahead
    Snowy Hydro 2.0 is already employing 350 people and will create more than 5000 new jobs during the construction phase of the development.
  • Know your NEM: Canberra fiddling while Rome burns on energy prices
    Federal Government turns attention back to electricity prices, but while their interest is welcome, it is in a sense just fiddling while Rome burns.
  • WA mulls three gigawatt-scale PV plants to export solar to Asia
    Plans to build three gigawatt-scale solar farms in Western Australia’s Pilbara and Kimberley regions and sell their output to Indonesia via submarine cables, could soon be commercially viable.
  • Victoria proposes “hybrid” contracts for new wind and solar farms
    Victoria “hybrid” contract for its 650MW large scale renewable energy action, combining fixed payment with “contract for difference” that will cap its exposure.
  • NSW on renewables: All talk, not much action
    NSW talks a good talk on renewable energy but offers few actions. Its share of new renewables is far smaller than its share of electricity consumption and this is particularly marked in PV, yet Transgrid sees huge opportunities.
  • S.A. calls tender for “next generation” renewables and storage
    South Australia seeks bids for “next generation” of renewable energy technologies, including “firming” capacity for wind and solar projects, bulk energy storage, and bio-energy.
  • Shell wins approval for 250MW solar plant in Queensland coal country
    Shell wins planning approval for 250MW solar plant in heart of Queensland’s coal country, in what appears to be its first big move into large scale solar in Australia.
  • WA bathes in sunshine, but poorest households lack solar panels
    Solar panels are still a rarity in WA’s lower-income areas.

August 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment