Australian news, and some related international items

Submission to ARPANSA on the draft Code for Disposal of Solid Radioactive Waste

Submission 1 to  Code for Disposal of Solid Radioactive Waste (RPS C-3) By Noel Wauchope, 24 Feb 18

Regarding the type of radioactive wastes discussed

The big change in this Code is that it now applies to all types of disposal facility – meaning that higher level nuclear wastes are planned for. The draft Code states on page 9:

– “Australia has no high level waste (HLW) and is unlikely to possess any in the foreseeable 108 future”

But the plan is obviously to include reprocessed nuclear wastes returned to Lucas Heights, from France, where they are classified as High Level Wastes, not Intermediate Level Wastes (ILW) The vitrified waste we received back from France has a radioactivity over one Billion Becquerels per gram (one GigaBq/gr). France considers this High Level Waste…/2006_summar…/files/docs/all.pdf

Many people are aware of the approx 10 cubic metres reprocessed spent fuel classed as ILW & returned from France in 2015. Not more generally known is the fact that there is much much more ILW destined for ‘temporary storage’ above ground (contrary to IAEA best practice) in the proposed repository

Currently there is no official determination about what is actually to be accumulated there – hence the delay in remediating the leaking drums at Woomera and failure to properly inform the local communities, also thereby wrongfully expecting them to sign off on an unknown quality/quantity.

Regarding the containers for transport and interim storage of radioactove wastes 

CASKS. No detail is given in the draft Code, which calls for

“appropriate selection of waste forms and packaging”.
There are problems both in transport and in storage above ground for hundreds of years

For example – accidents, includng fires. The Mont Blac Tunnel was one fire in 1999 that had temperatures of 1000 degrees celsius, while dry cask tests only reach 760 degrees for no more than 20 minutes…/Infrastructural…/mont.htm

There is no detail on the containers for radioactive waste. This is becoming an issue overseas. The Swedish Environmental Court has ruled against their planned radioactive waste repository because of concerns about the copper canisters planned.…/
USA’s The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) allows U.S. nuclear plants to store or transport spent fuel waste in thin walled welded stainless steel canisters designed to withstand a crash at 30 miles per hour…/a-pact-with-the-devil/Content…

Britain has similar concerns.…/swedens-problem-is-al…/ February 21, 2018by cumbriatrust

Regarding the transport and interim storage of radioactive wastes

TRANSPORT.  In all its 65 pages has just the bare 2 lines, which refer the reader to another document. The dangers in transporting nuclearwastes for over 2000 km across the continent are glossed over. But it is well known that such transport over very long distances is risky. Washington, D.C. Mayor Carolyn Goodman – “Anywhere it’s transported is at risk because of the tunnels, the bridges, the railroads, the roads,” she said. “An accident … puts millions and millions of people around the country at risk for loss of life, cancer and everything else.” ,…/in-dc-goodman-highlights-dangers…/

INTERIM STORAGE. This is a nice phrase for what is likely to turn out to be STRANDED WASTES. Page 43 of the draft Code – “Near surface disposal facilities are generally designed on the assumption that 1295 institutional control has to remain in force for a period of time. For short lived waste, 1296 the period will have to be several tens to hundreds of years following closure.”

This Code will approve and give the go-ahead for the plan to have this temporary above-ground storage set up BEFORE there is any building of a permanent deep disposal repository.

Regarding the discussion of COMMUNITY 
COMMUNITY . Page 17 of the draft Code defines “Community” In this Code the term ‘community’ is used to define the level of spatial and social organisation at which the issue of demographics must be addressed by the license applicant in terms of ‘the impact of the facility on the community in which the facility is, or is to be situated’. In general usage ‘community’ refers to a geographical area defined for the purpose of consultation.”

The Code thus eliminates the interest of the broader community – in rural South Australia, in the State of Sout hAustralia, and in the whole country.

Even while considering just the immediate local community, the Code states, on page 23, that one criterion for the location is that it must be a site “which has little or no potential for agriculture or outdoor recreational use”. I wonder what the farming community in the Kimba area think of this?

February 24, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

To 24 February – past week in Australian nuclear news

Not much has changed this week: the simmering North-Korean -USA nuclear continued to simmer  quietly while the Winter Olympics were on: the global nuclear waste anxieties ratcheted up a little.

We got an insight into Donald Trump’s mindset about how to deal with  teenage gunmen, (or anyone difficult?) . He suggests giving bonuses to teachers who carry guns into the classroom. As a former teacher, I shudder to think what might happen in some classrooms with a bunch of obstreperous kids.

Climate change: global sea level rise is inevitable, but more emissions will make it worse. Arctic temperatures soar 45 degrees above normal, flooded by extremely mild air on all sides.


NUCLEAR.  The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency asks for submissions,  by 2nd March, on its draft Radioactive Waste Disposal Code.  So far, they’ve published 16 submissions, all opposing the planned nuclear waste dump, except for one, from Denise Carpenter (  member of the Barndioota Consultative Committee. This Committee’s role is to help determine which is the best site for a National Radioactive Waste Dump.)

Meanwhile submissions to the Senate Inquiry into Selection for Nuclear Waste Dump Site close on 3rd April. The membership of this Committee is not known, but  The Medical Association for the Prevention of War has written to Senators, outlining concerns  about the dump site process.

Brewarrina residents step up campaign against proposed nuclear dump.

Hunters Hill residents still waiting on government to clean up uranium contaminated land.

Eleven members of the Turnbull Government openly support nuclear power for Australia.

Longterm slump in uranium industry looks like being permanent.

CLIMATE: ADANI COAL PROJECT  Labor’s doublespeak about Adani coal mine plan. Townsville City Council censors documentary about Adani coal megamine plan.  Ex-Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce bought up land near Inland Rail project.

ABORIGINAL ISSUES. Australia’s shocking cruelty to Aboriginal people with disabilities:  Solitary confinement.

RENEWABLE ENERGY A renewable energy jobs boom is sweeping across regional Australia.  Premier Jay Weatherill says that South Australia’s election will be a referendum on renewables. S.A. Labor shoots for 75 per cent renewables by 2025.  Mark Parnell outlines The Greens environment policy for the coming South Australian election. Liberal Federal MP Warren Entsch urges Queensland Govt to promote renewable energy.  Miles more at

February 24, 2018 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science appoints giant American corporation AECOM to assess nuclear waste dump sites

AECOM   (formerly known as AECOM Technology Corporation) is an American multinational engineering firm…AECOM traces its origins to Kentucky-based Ashland Oil & Refining Company,

Successful Tenderer To Conduct Site Characterisation    2 February 2018

Successful tenderer to conduct site studies.

THE Department of Industry, Innovation and Science today announced AECOM is the successful tenderer to assess technical suitability of sites being considered for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.

The “site characterisation” works that they undertake under the contract will be conducted on all three of the nominated sites, currently being considered: two in Kimba and one at Wallerberdina Station……..

AECOM was the successful tenderer of five applicants, based on factors including its engineering and radioactive waste management experience, combined with specific experience operating in South Australia.

Radioactive waste is currently stored in more than 100 locations around Australia, and the Site Characterisation is part of Phase 2 of a process to establish a single, safe facility to consolidate the waste.

The facility will be the permanent repository for Australia’s low level radioactive waste, and it will also temporarily store our intermediate level radioactive waste………

“While these assessments are underway, our extensive community consultation will continue.

“Additionally, within the next week we will see the closing of applications for the Community Benefit Program for both communities, on Monday 5th February 2018.

“We have the right experts and the right staff in place to advance this project through various decision points this year,” McCleary said.

February 24, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to set up another pro nuclear ‘Economic Working Group’ (EWG)

Kimba residents to be involved with nuclear economic investigation

Kimba residents have the chance to be directly involved in investigating economic opportunities and issues relating to the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.

As part of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s ongoing consultation, an Economic Working Group (EWG) consisting of local community members will be established to consider the proposal.

 The department is asking community members who want to get involved to submit an expression of interest.

Working group members will consider how economic benefits could be realised, or issues addressed, if Kimba is selected as the location for the national facility.

Opportunities that could come from the facility may include contracting works in construction, ongoing work during operation, and flow on roles in everything from the service industry to tourism.

Head of the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce Bruce McCleary said the project had economic potential.

“This project has potential to generate significant local economic opportunities and this committee will give locals the chance to directly explore that,” he said.

“We know that local community members are best placed to highlight where there are local opportunities, and where more opportunities need to be created.

“Members of the Economic Working Group will work with the Kimba Consultative Committee and the department’s project team to discuss the ways the proposed facility could enhance the local community.

“The committee members will also be tasked with identifying any economic activities that could be impacted by the facility.”

The group will be based on the model already implemented in Barnidoota.

“I encourage all interested local community members – those for, against or undecided on the proposal, to put in an Expression of Interest in joining the Kimba Economic Working Group,” Mr McCleary said.

The Kimba Economic Working Group will consist of a maximum of 10 members, including a Chairperson.

Expressions of interest are now open and close at 5pm EDT on March 13 2018.

For more information on the selection criteria and how to apply to be a member of the Economic Working Group, go to

February 24, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

Landmark Swedish Court Judgment against Nuclear Waste Repository

Landmark Swedish Court Judgment against Nuclear Waste Repository: Read the English Translation

MKG, the Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review has made an unofficial translation into English of the Swedish Environmental Court opinion on the power industry’s Nuclear Waste Company SKB’s license application for a final repository for spent nuclear fuel in Forsmark, Sweden.

The court said no to the application because it considered that there were problems with the copper canister that had to be resolved now and not later. The translation shows the courts judicial argumentation and why it decided not to accept the regulator SSM’s opinion that the problems with the integrity of the copper canister were not serious and could likely be solved at a later stage in the decision-making process.

The main difference between the court’s and the regulator’s decision-making was that the court decided to rely on a multitude of scientific sources and information and not only on the material provided by SKB. It had also been uncovered that the main corrosion expert at SSM did not want to say yes to the application at this time that may have influenced the court’s decision-making. In fact there appear to have been many dissenting voices in the regulator despite the regulator’s claim in the court that a united SSM stood behind its opinion.

The court underlines in its opinion that the Environmental Code requires that the repository should be shown to be safe at this stage in the decision-making process, i.e. before the government has its say. The court says that some uncertainties will always remain but it sees the possible copper canister problems as so serious that it is not clear that the regulator’s limits for release of radioactivity can be met. This is a reason to say no to the project unless it can be shown that the copper canister will work as intended. The copper canister has to provide isolation from the radioactivity in the spent nuclear fuel to humans and the environment for very long time-scales.

 It is still unclear how the process will proceed. The community of Östhammar has cancelled the referendum on the repository, as there will be no question from the government in the near future. The government has set up a working group of civil servants to manage the government’s handling of the opinions delivered by the court and SSM. SSM has told the government that it is ok to say yes to the license application.

The court has stated that there are copper canister issues that need to be considered further. The nuclear waste company SKB has said that it is preparing documentation for the government to show that there are no problems with the canister. Whether the government thinks that this will be enough remains to be seen. This is likely not what the court had in mind. The government would be wise to make a much broader review of the issue. There is a need for a thorough judicial review on the governmental level in order to override the court’s opinion. Otherwise the government’ decision may not survive an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.

There are eminent corrosion experts that are of the opinion that copper is a bad choice as a canister material. There is also increasing experimental evidence that this is the case. One problem for the court was likely that SKB has hesitant to do the required corrosion studies that show that copper does not corrode in an anoxic repository environment. The 18-year FEBEX field test shows that copper corrodes relatively rapidly with pitting corrosion. SKB says that all corrosion is due to in-leaking oxygen but it is now clear that experimental systems containing copper and clay become anoxic within weeks or months so this explanation is not valid. 

MKG has for long wanted SKB to retrieve the next experimental package in the LOT field test in the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory. SKB had refused. The remaining packages have now been heated for 18 years. When a 5-year package was retrieved in 2006 it was discovered that there was “unexpectedly high corrosion”. There is clearly a need for more lab and field test results to decide whether copper is a good and safe choice for a canister material.

The court’s decision-making shows the importance of a democratic and open governance in environmental decision-making. It is important that the continued decision-making regarding the Swedish repository for spent nuclear is transparent and multi-faceted.

February 24, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

America puts a good-looking young woman as nuclear weapons chief

She may be very smart, and even have a bit of integrity. I hope so. But are we here seeing the macho nuclear weapons lobby copying the “nuke nukes” gimmick of appointing a good-looking young woman to front their dangerous operation?

First woman in history takes helm of US nuclear weapons arsenal, Washington Examiner by John Siciliano | Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday swore in the first woman in history as head of the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty was sworn in as administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which under President Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget proposal would comprise nearly half of the Energy Department’s funding.


“The selection of Gordon-Hagerty, who [came] to USEC without any experience operating a company, surprised some enrichment industry analysts,” USEC Watch commented December 22, 2003. “But some sources suggested that the new COO [would] concentrate on improving USEC’s relationships with DOE and with the national security community.

February 24, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment