Australian news, and some related international items

Doctors for the Environment Australia speak out on Australia’s disgraceful response to climate change

Climate change: Australia’s position is unconscionable for a wealthy country   By David Shearman  

April 29, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | 1 Comment

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists praises “straight talk” from Dr Helen Caldicott

Straight talk from down-under more, Bulletin of the Atomic scientists By Dan Drollette Jr, 26 APRIL 2018

During the darkest days of World War II, US Army general Joseph Stilwell earned the nickname “Vinegar Joe” for his brilliant, blunt, bracing, leadership style. Stilwell’s tough, honest assessment of a disastrous military campaign in Asia captured the imagination of the American public, and roused the White House to completely re-assess the direction it had been taking: “I claim we got a hell of a beating. We got run out of Burma and it is humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, fix it, then go back and retake it.”

Though she may not enjoy the comparison to a military man, the same tough-but-invigorating observations can be found in the pithy, concise, sharp (and sometimes humorous) words of legendary anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott, who recently gave an hour-long interview to the Bulletin by Skype from her home in Sydney. For nearly 60 years, this Australian physician has been taking on the powers-that-be, and fighting for a world without nuclear weapons.

And not holding anything back.

It’s not every day that one hears the words “missile envy” in a sober-sided analysis of the reasons for the nuclear arms race. Or learn that the solution to nuclear proliferation may be to give the collective bottoms of those in charge a good swat.

Or hear this observation about the current situation in Washington: “We’ve got a man in charge who I think has never read a book, and who knows nothing about global politics, or his own county’s politics. Who operates with his own kind of sordid intuition. And he’s putting people in every department committed to destroying that department… My dream solution is that people from Congress come in, pick him up, and lock him in a laundry [room] or something. ”

And now, you can enjoy a sneak peak of the full interview, for free, in advance of formal publication in the Bulletin’s bi-monthly magazine.

And find out what she said about you.

(Full disclosure: I was the interviewer, so I may be biased in her favor. But I’d still highly recommend reading what Caldicott has to say, no matter who conducted the interview.)

Publication Name: Taylor and Francis OnlineTo read what we’re reading,  click here

April 29, 2018 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

North Korea’s nuclear test site to be publicly closed- Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong-un promises to close North Korea’s nuclear test site in May in front of the world, ABC News , 29 Apr 18, 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to shut down the country’s nuclear test site in May and open the process to experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States, Seoul’s presidential office has said.

Key points:

  • Singapore is being considered as a location for the Trump-Kim summit
  • Mr Trump said he would continue to sanctions pressure on Pyongyang
  • He is also providing the Japanese Prime Minister with updates on the negotiations

Mr Kim made the comments during his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday (local time), where he also expressed optimism about his anticipated meeting with Donald Trump.

The North Korean leader said the US President would learn he is “not a person” to fire missiles toward the United States, Mr Moon’s spokesman Yoon Young-chan said.

During the summit, the two Korean leaders promised to work toward the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula, but made no references to verification or timetables…………

North Korea suspends nuclear tests, will change time zone

North Korea this month announced it has suspended all tests of nuclear devices and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and plans to close its nuclear testing ground.

Mr Kim reacted to scepticism that the North would only be closing down the northernmost test tunnel at the site in Punggye-ri, which some analysts say became too unstable to conduct further underground detonations following the country’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September.

In his conversation with the South Korean President, Mr Kim denied that he would be merely clearing out damaged goods, saying that the site also has two new tunnels that are larger than previous testing facilities, Mr Yoon said.

Mr Yoon said the North Korean leader also revealed plans to re-adjust its current time zone to match the South’s………

April 29, 2018 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Full extent of melted fuel in Fukushima No. 2 reactor revealed [incl VIDEO],By CHIKAKO KAWAHARA/ Staff Writer, April 27, 2018 

The bottom of the inside of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s crippled No. 2 reactor has been revealed in a much clearer and wider range in footage released by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. on April 26.

The film shows the clearest pictures yet inside the containment vessel just below the pressure vessel of the nuclear reactor, which went into meltdown due to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Melted nuclear fuel debris is seen attached to pillars, walls and the ceiling, and accumulations between approximately 40 and 70 centimeters thick are piled up and cover the whole floor.

TEPCO captured the footage on Jan. 19 by attaching a remote-controlled camera to an extendable rod with a span of 16 meters into the containment vessel from an opening in its side.

Excerpts were released at the time, but new processing of the footage has revealed a much clearer picture.

In the bottom of the containment vessel, fuel debris has fused to some areas particularly thickly. It is possible that the bottom of the reactor has several holes that caused the debris to fall and solidify as it cooled.

The improved knowledge of the nuclear reactor’s state will help to calculate an estimate of the amount of the debris inside, and suggest at how it could be removed in the future. TEPCO hopes to start its next investigation inside the reactor within this fiscal year.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Contradictions and problems in the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce process

Selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia, Submission 29 – Extract from Attachment 1 Anica Niepraschk 

Arising challenges

Even though the current process is still in its early stages, it already either faces new challenges or has not yet dealt with older ones. Despite repeated calls by civil society organisations for an independent Inquiry into the full range of radioactive waste management options available, the government has instead continued its preferred option of a centralised radioactive waste facility. This leaves the current process vulnerable to criticism that the waste should remain at the sites where it is produced rather than being transported long distances through Australia, posing the risks of accidents on the way and the risk of an out of sight – out of mind approach in a remote area far away from expert oversight.

A continuing concern remains the federal government’s perception of urgency to solve the siting challenge, which is used as a justification for avoiding a more time consuming approach based on extensive consultation and consensus. Other countries have recognised that the provision of realistic timeframes is an essential condition in successful siting processes. The Australian government, despite the last 20 years of unsuccessful, rushed and pressured approaches, has again chosen to be bound by a rigid and self-imposed timeframe, trying to resolve the siting in around 18 months.

The current National Radioactive Waste Management Act (2012) is democratically compromised, as it provides for key legislation to safeguard cultural heritage and the environment as well as state legislation to be overridden in order to declare a site. SA, WA, Victoria and the NT all have state legislation in place prohibiting the storage or even transportation of radioactive waste from outside the state or territory. The federal government’s call for all Australian landowners to consider making a site nomination has failed to address this conflict of undermining existing laws and a ‘voluntary’ process.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Fukushima: Total atmospheric releases of ionising radiation has exceeded that of Chernobyl disaster.

Counterpunch 27th April 2018 The radiation dispersed into the environment by the three reactor meltdowns at Fukushima-Daiichi in Japan has exceeded that of the April 26, 1986
Chernobyl catastrophe, so we may stop calling it the “second worst”
nuclear power disaster in history. Total atmospheric releases from
Fukushima are estimated to be between 5.6 and 8.1 times that of Chernobyl,
according to the 2013 World Nuclear Industry Status Report. Professor Komei
Hosokawa, who wrote the report’s Fukushima section, told London’s
Channel 4 News then, “Almost every day new things happen, and there is no
sign that they will control the situation in the next few months or

April 29, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Cumbria County Council (CCC) finds flaws in the selection process for a nuclear waste dump site

Cumbria County Council (CCC) have recognised the fundamental flaws within the latest process to find a location to bury the nation’s nuclear waste. The CCC response to the government consultation echos many of the points which Cumbria Trust has made.  In particular the failure to address the need for secure interim storage, despite the most dangerous elements within waste being too hot to bury for well over a century.  They also highlight the lack of clarity over the community’s right of withdrawal, something of particular concern to Cumbria Trust.  As we have previously stated this is a process which has been designed to be very simple to enter and very difficult to leave.

Five years ago it was CCC which called a halt to the search process, and their concerns have not gone away.

The News & Star has reported this week:

A NEW search to find a community willing to host an underground nuclear waste storage bunker is based on ‘fundamentally flawed’ government policy, council officials in Cumbria have said.

The nationwide scheme to identify a location for a £12 billion geological disposal facility buried at least 200 metres below the surface was relaunched by the government in January and is expected to take 20 years to secure.

It promises incentives including £1m per year for five years for the five communities that volunteer to be on the shortlist – with £2.5m a year for the two that go forward to the testing stage, which would see deep boreholes dug underground.

But experts within Cumbria County Council have instead called for more clarity on how the high level waste – the majority of which is currently kept in storage vessels in west Cumbria – will be kept safe if a suitable location is not identified within the time frame.

They also state the right of willing communities to withdraw from the process is not clear enough within the proposal, while there is no detail about how the waste could be retrieved at a later date if new technology to dispose of it more efficiently is developed.

Read the full report here

April 29, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The woman who paints insects — Beyond Nuclear International

Cornelia Hesse-Honegger’s work reveals bugs deformed by nuclear exposures

via The woman who paints insects — Beyond Nuclear International

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The little piggies that won’t go to market — Beyond Nuclear International

Contaminated by Chernobyl, wild boar remain radioactive

via The little piggies that won’t go to market — Beyond Nuclear International

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lessons from international experiences in selecting a nuclear waste dump site

Selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia, Submission 29 – Extract from Attachment 1 Anica Niepraschk 

International siting processes: Experiences and lessons


Although evidence of leaks and accidents at existing radioactive waste facilities were repeatedly emphasised during the 14 years of study and consultation of the EA, the review panel’s final report released in May 2015 supported the construction of the DGR at the shore of Lake Huron.60 This decision was based on the panel’s conclusion that no significant adverse environmental effects were expected. With the facility being expected to store radioactive waste for thousands of years, there is widespread concern that no one can effectively guarantee that no environmental harm will be caused. The release of the report was followed by a statement from the Saugeen Objiway Nation who do not approve of a radioactive waste facility at the site due to fears of contamination of the world’s largest fresh-water system. As a result, it could have negative impacts to the water supply in the Great Lakes Basin, a very highly populated area in both Canada and the USA. OPG has repeatedly committed to not proceeding with the project without the approval of the local First Nations. It now faces questions why the site is supposed to be the best possible for an endeavour with such unique and far-reaching risks and might have to justify why it did not examine other potential sites, which could have shown to be more suitable. Having pursued only one location because it was volunteered is now backfiring for OPG, which is facing wide public opposition to the DGR siting by 154 cities across Canada and a large number of civil society and environmental organisations.6

There is also growing concern and active opposition to the project in the United States. Most recently, a citizen’s group challenged the review panel’s recommendation in Federal Court, arguing that it failed Canada’s international obligations, violated environmental law and was biased.62

It is uncertain whether the necessary approvals will be given or how OPG will react to the growing local, national and international opposition to the project.

Lessons learnt from the process

∞ Just because a site is volunteered does not necessarily mean it has wider public support or is the most geologically suitable site. This puts the siting process at increased risk of opposition and failure.

∞ The support of the local Indigenous people is essential to avoid imposing a radioactive waste management facility…..

Environmental and wider impact assessments form part of an informed decision making process and should be carried out by independent institutions and agencies with a high level of expertise, transparency, accountability and credibility

The UK

Criticism and open questions

As the siting process in the UK is ongoing it might well change over time. It is therefore necessary to monitor developments and analyse their impact upon the voluntarist character of the process. The most radical of such potential developments would be the government deciding to follow a completely different, non-voluntarist approach. This is a particular concern as it has specifically reserved its right to do so if voluntarism fails.74 Clearly it is hoped that such a drastic process reversal will not occur.

Some environmental organisations including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have also criticised the Government’s approach of paying community benefits for participating in the siting process, describing these as bribes and false incentives to motivate communities to even consider the option. Paying benefits is indeed a controversial issue in radioactive waste management siting processes with one side arguing as above and the other that a community taking on such a high risk as hosting radioactive waste should at least benefit from it in some way.

It is clear that poverty or the lack of viable economic alternatives is not an ethical or acceptable rationale for siting such facilities.

Further concerns have been expressed over the fact that local government does not have a right of veto in the process as well as the recent inclusion of a GDF and borehole drilling under the Planning Act 2008 in the list of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. This means that local planning can be by-passed by a predetermined decision making process that does not require community consent. These valid concerns over the threat of an undemocratic and imposed process have to be addressed if the UK process is to credibly respond to critics. In the White Paper and public comments, and also in recent and direct correspondence between the author and the responsible department, the government has clearly expressed that the outlined community engagement will work alongside the process of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project Approval and that no decision will be taken without the clear consent of the community. This commitment is not as strong as legislation and therefore the possibility of the Government not living up to its promise still remains. Currently however there is reason to believe that a voluntarist approach really is favoured and that it will hopefully prevail.

Lessons learnt

A truly voluntarist approach requires:

∞ Early and extensive provision of geological, technical, socio-economic and other information to communities, including independent analysis

∞ Continuous engagement and debate throughout the siting process and beyond. This must be without artificial barriers and informed by the community…

∞ Time for communities to make an informed decision ie/ no imposed timeframe

∞ A continuous Right of Withdrawal

∞ Recognition – preferably in law – of the essential nature of community consent on the final siting decision……

International experience and lessons for Australia

The international case studies highlight some features that are essential to a successful voluntary siting process. This chapter aims to explore these characteristics and how they feature in the current Australian context and make recommendations for possible improvements of the Australian approach based on the international experience.

All over the world attempts to site radioactive waste management facilities, no matter of what level of radioactivity, based on purely technical and/or political considerations have been ineffective. Public and community opposition has  repeatedly halted such approaches. The current international consensus is that sitingmprocesses should be voluntary, with no imposition of any facility on a community and that socio-economic factors have to be considered equally and together with technical criteria….

Countries deal with these possibilities in different ways. Often these have been reactionary to a first failed attempt. In Australia these factors pose a risk for the NRWMP. So far, there has been no official statement on what alternatives might be pursued if the current nominations do not fulfil the necessary criteria to safely host the proposed national facility. Most critically, it has to be ensured that the government does not just settle for a site that only fulfils the minimum safety standards necessary, just because it might be the most or only accepted site available…..

Interestingly in all the cases presented siting has only been successful in communities with a nuclear history of some sort, such as hosting a nuclear reactor or inter- mediate storage facilities for radioactive waste. Even when other communities had shown initial interest in hosting a radioactive waste facility, they ended their engagement in the siting process quite early on. This shows that it is much more likely for a repository to be hosted by a community already familiar with the nuclear industry. … Co-hosting a repository with other nuclear activities can also reduce the risks in transporting radioactive waste materials to the facility as transport can be reduced or minimised.

Australia currently has a limited number of nuclear activities and stores its radioactive waste materials in a large number of intermediate storage places, most of which are very small. Only the site of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s nuclear reactor and larger radioactive waste storage facility at Lucas Heights would reflect this international experience.

…. It is pivotal that a non-restrictive timeframe is applied in siting processes, providing all stakeholders with sufficient time to make informed decisions. In the international case studies this has sometimes shown to require years. Given the longevity of radioactive waste this increased time investment early in the process is justified and necessary.

the right-to-veto the government’s or operator’s siting decision can also provide the community with the final say on hosting a facility or not. In general, a community should be able to leave the siting process at any time if wished. As the UK example shows, this was one of the main factors communities wanted when consulted on how to improve the siting process and has further proven to be a key feature of all the siting processes, making engagement really voluntary.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 29 Energy News


Science and Technology:

¶ With increased long-distance shipping of fresh food has come the long-distance shipping of dangerous insect pests and plant pathogens. Now climate change has allowed some of these to proliferate rapidly in regions where they either previously were not present or were unable to maintain more than the barest population levels. [CleanTechnica]

World fruits

¶ As the ice sheets of the world melt, an enormous amount of pressure will be lifted off of the continental crusts that play host to them, as well as the surrounding oceanic basins. Something similar is broadly true, but to a much lesser degree, of the world’s remaining large glaciers. With changes in pressure, there will be seismic activity. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A great number of technologies related to renewable energy and passive building design have been in use historically in many parts of the world. Some are not well…

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April 29, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment