Australian news, and some related international items

Brewarrina nuclear dump protests send clear message to Council: “Keep Bre Nuclear Free”.

The Brewarrina community is stepping up the campaign against a proposed national nuclear waste dump, with two successful events held over the weekend.

A silent protest was held at the local Council meeting on Friday the 23rd February, with over 20 local protestors attending. Ngemba man Jason Ford presented the No Nuclear Bundabunda on Ngemba Land – Bad Poison petition to the councillors. The petition had 563 clear ‘no’ votes compared to 84 residents who voted in a Council survey that Council should ‘continue with the project.’

Ngemba woman and campaign coordinator Trish Frail said, “We did not win gold, but we won silver and we are happy with that at this stage of the campaign. No further action can be taken by Council until a Working Group is established and the many questions we put to them are answered.”

“We want to know the motivation and funding behind the delegation to Lucas Heights last November and details of the consultation arrangement for nuclear advocate Robert Parker. There is clearly no mandate for the Council to just push ahead and keep promoting the nuclear waste dump,” Ms Frail stated.

The ‘Keep Bre Nuclear Free’ rally the following day mobilised over 100 people, with young people proudly leading the march and chanting ‘No Bundabunda on Ngemba Land’ and ‘Keep Bre Nuclear Free’.

Many Elders also came out to support the campaign.

Aunty Doreen said, “As a Ngemba Elder and a custodian of the land it is important that I support the younger generation in preventing this atrocity from happening on our land, which came from the Dreaming. We struggle with the atrocities that have happened in the past; our future generations should not have to struggle with this danger.”

“It is nuclear genocide. The cotton industry has wrecked our water ways, we can’t let the nuclear industry wreck our land, water and environment,” Aunty Doreen concluded.

Supporters from Melbourne and Canberra travelled to participate in the rally, with messages of support sent from other areas currently under assessment to host the national nuclear dump.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, New South Wales, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Still time to make submissions on ARPANSA’s draft Code on Radioactive Wastes

Greg Bannon, Flinders Local Action, 28 Feb 18

ARPANSA is inviting comments from “people and organisations interested in the disposal of solid radioactive waste to tell us their views on this topic”.  The deadline was extended from last Friday until this coming Friday, 2nd March at 5.00 pm.

The issue is tied up with future disposal, not just storage, of intermediate level radioactive waste (ILRW).  At the moment I reckon the code only allows for “near the surface disposal of solid radioactive waste”.  Bruce Wilson from DIIS has said that there is currently no plan for disposal of ILRW, only temporary storage.  If ANSTO, for example, wants to dispose of ILRW deep underground there will need to be a change in the code to allow for it, including new guidelines, such as stable geology, impervious sub-strata, e.g. granite, and so on.  Even though ARPANSA is rightly saying this change has nothing to do with the current NRWMF sites selection process, it could mean that in the future the operator of the NRWMF, holding ILRW at ground level on a “temporary” basis, might be able to apply to convert the site to include a deep underground burial facility.

I think this may be more relevant to the Kimba region than Wallerberdina.  I simply can’t see how the geology of the western side of the Flinders, between the Ranges and Lake Torrens, with known seismic activity and delta-type outflows from the Ranges, could be consistent with stable geology.

If the NRWMF goes ahead, wherever it goes ahead – Kimba or Wallerberdina  – it should be clear that any changes adopted should not apply to those sites.  We are now into our third year of this process and have been dealing with it on the basis of what we’ve been told – that the sites are for low level only with intermediate on a temporary basis only!

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Zealand Prime Minister may urge Malcolm Turnbull to join UN nuclear weapons ban

NZ may lobby Aust on nuclear weapons ban   SBS News 27 Feb 18  “……….Australia could be in for a lecture from New Zealand on nuclear weapons disarmament.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will visit Australia for talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the end of the week.

She’ll be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, seven cabinet ministers and a business delegation.

Ms Ardern delivered a major foreign policy speech to the New Zealand Institute of Public Affairs on Tuesday and announced her government will reinstate the cabinet position of disarmament and arms control minister.

Last July, 122 countries voted in the United Nations to ban nuclear weapons.

Ms Ardern flagged in the speech her government was looking at an early ratification of the treaty. “In a modern context, the greatest challenge comes from North Korea, situated right here in our region,” she said.

“At a time when risks to global peace and security are growing and the rules-based system is under such pressure, we must recommit ourselves to the cause of non-proliferation and disarmament.”

Australia has refused to sign up to the treaty ban and did not take part in the negotiations.

The country relies on the deterrent protection from the US’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

New Zealand has long adopted a firm line in opposing development of nuclear capabilities, which at times puts the small Pacific nation at odds with some allies.

……… Asked if she’ll raise the issue with Mr Turnbull, Ms Ardern told reporters in Wellington: “I have no qualms having conversations about it.”……. NZ also has an ongoing offer to resettle 150 refugees from Nauru and Manus Island, which has previously been rejected……..


February 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi groundwater inflow increased 4 times as normal

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Tokyo Electric Power Company announced on 26th that the amount of groundwater flowing into the basement of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors buildings 1 and 2 began to increase in February and temporarily nearly quadrupled. There is a possibility that the influx may have increased due to the repair work of the drainage passage passing through the vicinity.
According to TEPCO, the inflow from January 1 to February 8 this year is about 48 tons per day on average. However, despite the fact that it did not rain from February 8 to 15, it increased to an average of about 131 tons. It peaked at about 179 tons on the 19th and started to decline from 20th.
In the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, groundwater flows into the basements of the buildings and mixes with contaminated water, leading to an increase in new contaminated water.

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February 28, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More Fukushima Propaganda to Come from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Feb 26, 2018,

Ministry of the Environment Cohosts Panel Discussion “Update Fukushima” —

Cheer Fukushima by Knowing It More and Sharing That Knowledge More
– Statement for “Update Fukushima” Released from Tokyo –
TOKYO, Feb. 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The Ministry of the Environment of Japan (MOEJ) on Saturday, February 10, 2018, cohosted the Panel Discussion “Update Fukushima” — Cheer Fukushima by Knowing It More and Sharing That Knowledge More –, hosted by the Update Fukushima Executive Committee and held at the United Nations University’s U Thant International Conference Hall (in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo).
While environmental recovery in Fukushima after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake is well underway, the area still suffers misconceptions within Japan and abroad due mostly to the lack of accurate information. To help correct this situation, the ministry cohosted the aforementioned event in order to discuss, identify and share a variety of facts…

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February 28, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nick Xenophon’s SA BEST party promises community electricity co-op.

Xenophon’s SA BEST unveils community electricity co-op plan By Sophie Vorrath on 27 February 2018 

February 28, 2018 Posted by | energy, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

INTERVIEW:  Niger: “In Arlit, people drink water contaminated by radioactivity”

 This fear is also present in
 The word Areva is scary. It’s a taboo subject unless it’s to magnify the business. People want to talk, but like the Nigerian government, they feel helpless against this multinational. When I was doing my scouting, many people told me that I was putting myself in danger. Here, when you talk about Areva, it’s like a God, you should not call your name out loud.

In the documentary, you show this radioactive dust, poisoned water, houses built with land mines, contaminated food, livestock dying .

Houses must even be destroyed because the clay walls contain radioactivity.

The uranium deposits exploited by Orano (formerly Areva) are poisoning the population, explains Amina Weira, author of a documentary on the subject.

Interview by Matteo Maillard (Dakar, correspondence)  THE WORLD  27.02.2018

It was a Tuareg encampment swept by bursts of Saharan simoun. Today it is a city that bears the mark of its development as its decadence. In Arlit, in northern Niger, uranium has been a source of hope since the French group Areva (renamed Orano in January) began mining the deposits in the 1970s.

Many nomads and workers came to this arid region. the workers’ city which was then called “the second Paris”. None knew the invisible danger of radioactivity.

Forty years later, Niger became the second largest supplier of uranium to Areva, but the mining of Cominak and Somair contaminated the population in its daily activities. It is in the sanded streets of her childhood that Amina Weira, a 29-year-old Nigerian filmmaker, posed her camera in front of the elders who lived through the early days of mining. In this film entitled La Rage dans le vent, presented in Dakar as part of the Films Femmes Afrique festival, she shows the invisible threat hanging over Arlit. Interview. Continue reading

February 28, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Vitrified nuclear waste due to be sent from UK to Lucas Heights, Australia by 2022

Radioactive Waste: Australia:Written question – 10476

Q Asked by Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) Asked on: 13 September 2017.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Radioactive Waste: Australia
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the total volume of UK-generated radioactive waste that will be sent to Australia’s proposed national radioactive waste facility; what the origins are of the waste that will be returned to Australia for disposal in that facility; and what the level of radioactivity is of all the waste that will be sent to that facility.

In 1996 the Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) signed a contract with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) for the processing of spent nuclear fuel from the Australian research reactor at the Dounreay reprocessing facility. The contract contained an obligation to return uranium and an option to return waste which is supported by a MoU between the UK and Australian Governments in the form of an intergovernmental letter. The radioactive waste, which arose from the processing, comprises several tens of drums of cemented waste. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) assumed responsibility for the material when it became owners of Dounreay in 2005.

Cemented waste is challenging in terms of transport and volume, and for the ANSTO waste the return would require multiple moves or the provision of new flasks to ensure transport can be secured. The Scottish and UK Governments consulted on a proposed policy of radioactive waste substitution for the radioactive waste arising from historic fuel reprocessing contracts with overseas customers at Dounreay in 2010. Agreement was reached between the Scottish and UK Governments on 16 March 2012. Waste substitution is an internationally accepted practice where a radiological equivalent amount of waste is returned to the customer in a form that is acceptable. A contract was signed in 2014 with the NDA to enable waste substitution.

The substituted radioactive waste will be in the form of four vitrified residue containers holding waste which falls within the activity levels of Intermediate Level Waste. The vitrified residue (sealing of radioactive waste in molten glass poured into engineered stainless steel containers) comes from Sellafield. Waste in this form is immobilised. The cemented drums containing the Australian-origin radioactive waste from the processing of the spent nuclear fuel will be retained and managed at Dounreay pending final disposal, as the Dounreay Intermediate Level Waste stores are designed to accept it.

The vitrified residues are forecast to be returned to Australia by 2022 and are expected to be stored in an authorised storage facility located at Lucas Heights near Sydney, where the Australian research reactor is located. Following storage at Lucas Heights the vitrified residues will be co-located with a new disposal facility for Low Level Waste and will be temporary stored at that facility.

The Australian Government accepts that it has an international obligation to receive the vitrified residues. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) is charged with identifying a site – National Radioactive Waste Management Facility – for its Low Level Waste currently stored in 100 different places around Australia. The NDA has been informed that following a public consultation process across Australia, DIIS is now actively engaged in dialogue with two communities in South Australia – Wallerberdina Station, near Hawker, and at Kimba. A decision on where the facility will be located has not yet been made.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

The global health threat of climate change

Impact of climate change on health is ‘the major threat of 21st century’ Skeptical Science  [good graphs], 26 February 2018  This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Daisy Dunne

The health of millions of people across the world is already being significantly harmed by climate change, a major new report finds.

From driving up the number of people exposed to heatwaves to increasing the risk of infectious diseases, such as dengue fever, climate change has had far-reaching effects on many aspects of human health in last few decades, the authors say.

In fact, the effect of climate change on human health is now so severe that it should be considered “the major threat of the 21st century”, scientists said at a press briefing held in London.

The report is the first from the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, a project involving 24 academic institutions and intergovernmental organisations from across the world. The project plans to release a report tracking progress on climate change and global health every year.

Feeling the heat

Continue reading

February 28, 2018 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Australians Mobilise to Stop Indian Coal Project

By Kalinga Seneviratne

‘A peoples’ movement is gathering steam across Australia
to stop a project by an Indian company to establish
Australia’s biggest ever coal mining project …

‘The protest movement … argues that
Australia needs to cut greenhouse gas creating coal exports
rather than opening more mines. …

‘The protest movement has formed alliances among conservation groups such as
the Australian Conservation Foundation,
Australian Marine Conservation Foundation,
Greenpeace and the Bob Brown Foundation …

‘There is even a ‘Sydney Knitting Nannies’ Group
– women in their 60s and 70s – supporting the campaign and
in Sydney along there are 500 active campaign groups, ….

traditional owners of the land – Wangan and Jagalingou Aboriginal people
– have taken their ‘native title’ claims to the Federal Court of Australia.
The hearing is scheduled for March 2018. … ‘
Read more of Kalinga’s comprehensive & informative article:

February 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Climate change denialists: is Australia’s new Deputy PM one of those?

Is Australia’s new Deputy PM another anti-wind climate denier? REneweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath on 27 February 2018 

February 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

A Labor government could revoke Adani’s licence for coal mine expansion

Adani mine licence could be revoked under Labor government, Geoff Cousins says Bill Shorten told him, ABC News 27 Feb 8

Businessman and environmentalist Geoff Cousins says Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told him that if Labor wins government it could revoke the Adani mine licence.

Mr Cousins, former president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, told 7.30 that Mr Shorten made the statement to him privately last month.

“The key statement was that, ‘When we are in government, if the evidence is as compelling as we presently believe it to be regarding the approval of the Adani mine, we will revoke the licence, as allowed in the act. That’s a clear policy’,” Mr Cousins said.

“He told me he intended to speak to his colleagues.”

He said the conversation took place when Mr Shorten asked him for advice about the environmental impact of the Adani mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

Mr Cousins said he spent two days in north Queensland with Mr Shorten — at the Labor leader’s request — to discuss the matter.

“He said he wanted to learn as much as he could first hand about the mine and the impacts on the reef and climate change issues and so on,” Mr Cousins said.

“He said the reason he wanted to get that first-hand knowledge was because he was planning a firmer policy position on Adani.”

According to Mr Cousins, at the end of the two days Mr Shorten told him he would discuss the policy with his colleagues.

Mr Cousins said he was speaking out publicly to “increase the pressure” on Labor to make a decision.

“It’s pretty clear there is some kind of resistance in his party to him leading on this issue,” he said………

The Adani mine has been a major headache for Mr Shorten and the Labor Party.

In rural Queensland the party faces a very real electoral threat from One Nation and wants to be seen as offering jobs and economic growth.

But at the same time it is trying to appeal to voters in the inner-Melbourne electorate of Batman, which could fall to the Greens in a by-election in just over a fortnight.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Jacinda Ardern’s ‘sexist, creepy’ 60 Minutes interview angers New Zealand

Guardian,  Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin 26 Feb 18 
Australian journalist Charles Wooley criticised for calling PM ‘attractive’ and discussing the conception of her baby. 

New Zealanders have criticised an interview with their prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, as “creepy” and “sexist”.

In the opening segment of the Australian current affairs show 60 Minutes , which aired on Sunday night, the veteran reporter Charles Wooley described the 37-year-old Ardern as “attractive”.–

“I’ve met a lot of prime ministers in my time,” says Wooley, filmed strolling the corridors of Parliament House with Ardern, the camera pulling in for a close-up on Ardern’s smiling face. “But none so young, not too many so smart, and never one so attractive.”

Wooley goes on to say that like the rest of New Zealand, he is “smitten” with their prime minister, with Channel Nine describing the interview in promos as a behind-the-scenes special with a world leader “like no other”, who is “young, honest and pregnant”.

“Admittedly, although somewhat smitten just like the rest of her country, I do know, that what’s really important in politics has to be what you leave behind,” Wooley says.

The interview was immediately met with derision from many New Zealanders on social media, who leapt to the defence of Ardern at having to endure the overly personal line of questioning, and dismissed Wooley as misogynistic and inappropriate. Other viewers said the interview was “repugnant”, “creepy” and “painful”.

“How did a nice person like you get into the sordid world of politics?” Wooley asked Ardern

“Nice people go into politics,” replied Ardern, smiling.

Wooley’s questions about her pregnancy appeared to make her and her partner, Clarke Gayford, rather uncomfortable.

“One really important political question that I want to ask you,” Wooley said. “And that is, what exactly is the date that the baby’s due?”

Ardern replied that her baby was due on 17 June, to which Wooley replied: “It’s interesting how many people have been counting back to the conception … as it were,” which made Gayford blush and laugh uncomfortably, responding: “Really?”

Wooley continued: “Having produced six children it doesn’t amaze me that people can have children; why shouldn’t a child be conceived during an election campaign?”

At this, Ardern appeared to roll her eyes, responding: “The election was done. Not that we need to get into those details.”

Wooley’s interviewing style obviously irked Gayford, who later alluded to the program when he tweeted about great places in New Zealand where you could “escape for 60 Minutes or longer”……..

In her weekly media standup Ardern said she did not find the interview offensive though she was initially taken aback by the question concerning the conception date of her child.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Solar now employs over 10,000 Australians — RenewEconomy

Australia’s booming solar industry now supports more than 10,000 full time jobs.

via Solar now employs over 10,000 Australians — RenewEconomy

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs – too much power to Peter Dutton?

Politicising Intelligence: Dutton, Pezzullo and the Department of Home Affairs, Independent Australia , Dr Binoy Kampmark discusses the “unsettling” power overreach of the newly devised super ministry, the Department of Home Affairs, overseen by Peter Dutton and Michael Pezzullo.

BE WARY of the police state operative, the desk job authoritarian — be especially wary of the political figures endorsing such characters, those supposed saviours from inflated threats and cardboard demons.

This is the dilemma Australian bureaucrats face across a range of departments in Canberra, notably those cannibalised in the creation of the Department of Home Affairs, the remodelled variant of the Immigration and Border Protection portfolio. Those affected by the process hail from the Attorney-General’s DepartmentInfrastructure and Regional Development and Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The Saturday Paper‘s Karen Middleton revealed something that was as surprising as the next sunrise. ASIO officials are said to have been tetchy about the whole business of centralised power — a point that seemed to eek its way in a secret speech delivered by the former Australian Attorney-General, George Brandis. Brandis, according to Middleton, claimed the creation of the department to be “unsettling” for the agency, though expressed confidence that the changes would be implemented without too much fuss……..

Pezzullo and Dutton harbour a confused view about the protection of liberty. To ensure its strength, a degree of state confusion and muddling is necessary. But security assumes the force of a sledgehammer, centralised and directed against citizen and enemy alike.  ……..,11243

February 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment