Australian news, and some related international items

Brett Stokes – a reminder about ANSTO and its zeal for the nuclear industry

Brett Burnard Stokes about ANSTO 15 Jan 18 
(a) government backed nuclear corporation ANSTO are spending lots of money to establish a nuclear waste dump in South Australia,

|(b) there are laws in SA against nuclear waste dumps (see ) including a provision that no public money be spent promoting nuclear waste dump.

(c) in contempt of SA laws, ANSTO has spent millions of dollars of public money on propaganda campaigns in South Australia, targetting various places with three sites active now, two in Kimba and one in the Flinders.

(d) ANSTO have run polling a while back, where the results were pretty marginal … and way short of “clear local consent” to proceed.

(e) ANSTO want to pretend that there is “clear local consent” so they are lying and also changing the rules,

(f) ANSTO have dodgy expansionary business plans involving huge export earnings from “medical isotopes” they plan to make at Lucas Heights.
If they do this, it will produce a lot of waste that they do not want to keep at Lucas Heights where there is room.
The business plans are dodgy on many levels.

(g) ANSTO are bullies with lots of cash.

January 14, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

2018 to be a bumper year for America’s weapons sales

the global deregulation of American firearms which could, in turn, according to critics, put such weaponry ever more easily in the hands of both criminal gangs and extremist groups

As Donald Trump might put it, major weapons contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin cashed in “bigly” in his first year in office.

This year will undoubtedly be a banner year for arms companies. The only question is: Might it also mark the beginning of a future movement to roll back unconstrained weapons expenditures?

Tomgram: William D. Hartung, 2018 Looks Like an Arms Bonanza OpEd, By Tom Engelhardt  11 Jan 18 This article originally appeared at

Here’s a cheery note for you: the last mass killing of 2017 took place moments before midnight on New Year’s Eve. A 16-year-old New Jersey boy picked up a semi-automatic rifle, “lawfully acquired” by a member of his family, and killed his father, mother, sister, and a family friend. In doing so, he helped ensure that 2017 would be the deadliest year for mass killings in our modern history. (There is now, on average, slightly more than one mass killing a day in this country.) Nonetheless, guns of all sorts, including military-style assault rifles and even bump stocks like the 12 Stephen Paddock evidently used to turn his semi-automatics into functional automatics and slaughter 58 people from a hotel window in Las Vegas, are still readily available. Nowhere on Earth, not even in ravaged Yemen (which takes second place in gun ownership), is more weaponry available to more types of people. As the years go by here, such weapons are more easily and openly carried with only the most minimal of background checks (or less than that). Think about this: Americans, 4.4% of the people on this planet, own 42% of the guns and commit 31% of the mass killings.

Oh, and I did promise you that there was something cheery in all this, didn’t I? So here it is: the Trump administration, knowing a good thing when it sees it, is now hard at work ensuring that American weapons makers will make it a remarkably similar world. Its officials are intent, it seems, on recreating the planet in an American image. Keep in mind that U.S. arms makers like Lockheed, Raytheon, and General Dynamics already monopolize the global arms market in a way that should (but in this country regularly doesn’t) stagger the imagination. Continue reading

January 14, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Hawaii’s false nuclear alarm – a frightening reminder of the real risk

False Alarm Adds to Real Alarm About Trump’s Nuclear Risk , NYTBy THE EDITORIAL BOARD, JAN. 13, 2018 It was the sort of nightmare that had only ever been real for most people’s parents or grandparents — the fear of an impending nuclear attack. “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii,” read the emergency alert that residents of the Aloha State received on Saturday morning. “Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

The authorities quickly announced that the alert was a mistake. But it made tangible the growing fears that after decades of leaders trying to more safely control the world’s nuclear arsenals, President Trump has increased the possibility of those weapons being used.

At a time when many are questioning whether Mr. Trump ought to be allowed anywhere near the nuclear “button,” he is moving ahead with plans to develop new nuclear weapons and expanding the circumstances in which they’d be used. Such actions break with years of American nuclear policy. They also make it harder to persuade other nations to curb their nuclear ambitions or forgo them entirely.

Mr. Trump has boasted about the size and power of America’s nuclear arsenal, threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, pushed for a massive buildup of an arsenal that already has too many — 4,000 — warheads and wondered aloud why the United States possesses such weapons if it isn’t prepared to use them.

Now, as he tries to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons capability and ensure that Iran never acquires one, Mr. Trump is poised to make public a new policy that commits America to an increasing investment in those very weapons, according to a draft document made public by HuffPost and confirmed by The Times.

…….. The proposed nuclear policy says a more aggressive nuclear posture is warranted because the world is more dangerous, with China, North Korea and Iran cited as concerns. Yet blowing up the Iran deal would free Tehran to resume its nuclear activities and make the world less safe. In other words, Mr. Trump’s approach makes no sense.

Under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, signed in 1968, the United States and Russia promised to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons. They made significant, although insufficient, progress. After reductions under a succession of past presidents, the American stockpile is 85 percent smaller than it was at the height of the Cold War. Negotiations on further reductions have stalled in recent years as Russia, threatened by America’s superior conventional arsenal, became more reliant on nuclear weapons, and there is no serious sign that Mr. Trump wants to revive the talks.

President Barack Obama made a down payment on a saner policy by narrowing to “extreme circumstances” the conditions under which nuclear weapons would be used and ruling out their use against most non-nuclear countries. Mr. Trump’s policy also talks about “extreme circumstances, ” but it dangerously broadens the definition to include “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” which could mean using nuclear weapons to respond to cyber, biological and chemical weapon attacks.

Until Mr. Trump, no one could imagine the United States ever using a nuclear weapon again. America’s conventional military is more than strong enough to defend against most threats. But Mr. Trump has so shaken this orthodoxy that Congress has begun debating limits on his unilateral authority to launch nuclear weapons. Expanding the instances when America might use nuclear weapons could also make it easier for other nuclear-armed countries to justify using their own arsenals against adversaries.

As the residents of Hawaii can tell you, it’s a risk the world cannot afford.

January 14, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Renewable energy prices rapidly falling, becoming competitive with traditional fuels

City AM , New York, 13th Jan 2018, Renewable energy to be competitive with fossil fuels by 2020 as prices drop. The cost of generating renewable power is falling at an “unprecedented” rate, and by 2020, all renewable technologies will be price competitive with traditional fossil fuels, a new report says.

Since 2010, the cost of generating power from onshore wind has fallen by around a quarter, while solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity costs have dropped by 73 per cent, according to a report published today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

Within just two years years, Irena expects solar energy generation costs to halve, and it said the best onshore wind and solar PV projects could be delivering electricity for an equivalent of 3 cents (2 pence) per kilowatt hour (kWh), or less.

The report said the current cost spectrum for fossil fuel power generation ranges from 5 to 17 cents per kWh. In comparison, all current commercial forms of green energy are expected to generate in the range of 3 to 10 cents per kWh by 2020.

“Turning to renewables for new power generation is not simply an environmentally conscious decision, it is now – overwhelmingly – a smart economic one,” said Adnan Amin, Irena’s director general.

January 14, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tesla’s South Australian battery project – a rapid success

Inverse Innovation 11th Jan 2018. The results are in: Tesla’s South Australian project, touted as the
world’s largest lithium-ion battery with enough energy to power 30,000
homes, had an astonishing first month of operation. The 100-megawatt
behemoth, originally conceived by Elon Musk through a bet over Twitter, has
inspired the states of Queensland and Victoria to follow suit with their
own projects.

January 14, 2018 Posted by | South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Australian banking giant Macquarie invests in energy storage system

Business Green 12th Jan 2018, Connected Energy has secured a £3m investment from Australian banking giant Macquarie and French utility ENGIE to support the rollout of its
stationary storage system, it announced yesterday. The E-STOR system
offered by Connected Energy uses second-hand batteries from electric
vehicles (EVs), repurposing them into an energy storage system to help
homes and businesses cut energy costs and manage their power use more

January 14, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, storage | Leave a comment

Indigenous Americans and the polluting legacy of uranium mining

Uranium Miners Pushed Hard for a Comeback. They Got Their Wish. NYT, JAN. 13, 2018  “………The Navajo town of Sanders, Ariz., a dusty outpost with a single stoplight, is a reminder of uranium’s lasting environmental legacy.

In Sanders, hundreds of people were exposed to potentially dangerous levels of uranium in their drinking water for years, until testing by a doctoral researcher at Northern Arizona University named Tommy Rock exposed the contamination.

“I was shocked,” Mr. Rock said. “I wasn’t expecting that reading at all.”

Mr. Rock and other scientists say they suspect a link to the 1979 breach of a wastewater pond at a uranium mill in Church Rock, N.M., now a Superfund site. That accident is considered the single largest release of radioactive material in American history, surpassing the crisis at Three Mile Island.

It wasn’t until 2003, however, that testing by state regulators picked up uranium levels in Sanders’s tap water. Still, the community was not told. Erin Jordan, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, said the department had urged the now-defunct local water company for years to address the contamination, but it had been up to that company to notify its customers.

Only in 2015, after Mr. Rock raised the alarm, did local regulators issue a public notice.

The town’s school district, whose wells were also contaminated with uranium, received little state or federal assistance. It shut off its water fountains and handed out bottled water to its 800 elementary and middle-school students.

The schools finally installed filters last May. Parents remain on edge.

“I still don’t trust the water,” said Shanon Sangster, who still sends her 10-year-old daughter, Shania, to school with bottled water. “It’s like we are all scarred by it, by the uranium.”

January 14, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

THE AUSTRALIAN reports on Queensland’s long drought (not a mention of climate change)

Farmers in distress as devastating drought enters its sixth year  The Australian, RICK MORTON, Social Affairs reporter, Sydney @SquigglyRick

Almost five years after drought was last officially declared in Queensland, two-thirds of the state, or 120 million hectares, is in the grip of a dry so long and grinding that many who can afford to have forgotten it even exists.

At the end of last year, 35 council areas in the state remained wholly drought declared — some since April in 2013 — affecting thousands of beef and sheep ­stations, farms and other agricultural businesses.

Take Audrey Stone, a beef ­cattle property in Queensland’s central-west. It would be easy, owner Brett Wehl says, to sit back and believe it is the driest place on the continent.

The Wehl family homestead, about 40km northwest of Barcaldine, sits among a flat moonscape filled only with choking acacia bushes and tumbleweeds. The 6070ha property has run about 1000 head of cattle in the past but there are just 20 on it now.

Others have it worse, some have it better, but playing that game will drive a person mad, Mr Wehl says.

At the end of last year, precisely two-thirds of Queensland remained drought-declared with much of this officially in drought for four years and counting.

The state government has handed out $140m in drought assistance in that time. The proportion of the state affected has fallen from 87 per cent at the beginning of last year but thousands of farmers and graziers are still in its grip.

The public has largely moved on, however, and families have been left behind to eke out an existence in the regions……..

January 14, 2018 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | 1 Comment

Australia’s extreme heat here to stay. #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol — jpratt27

How Australia’s extreme heat might be here to stay By Adam Morton Hobart A section of highway connecting Sydney and Melbourne started to melt. DRIVERS were being urged to take caution while heading towards Melbourne on the Hume Highway. A stretch of the road began to melt at Broadford in hot weather on Friday afternoon. […]

via Australia’s extreme heat here to stay. #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol — jpratt27

January 14, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

#PoweringPastCoal #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol — jpratt27

The We Mean Business coalition urges forward-looking companies to sign the declaration of the Powering Past Coal Alliance and back the powerful signal sent by more than 25 countries, states and regions that coal’s time has passed. At COP23, the UK and Canada, alongside Costa Rica, Fiji, France, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, New Zealand, Oregon, Quebec […]

via #PoweringPastCoal #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol — jpratt27

January 14, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lest we forget: South Australians consistently reject hosting a nuclear waste dump

January 14, 2018 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment