Australian news, and some related international items

The week that has been in nuclear news – Australia

Trumpiness AGAIN!  Yes! He’s pulled America out of the Iran nuclear deal. Doesn’t augur well for the North Korea – USA summit to be held in Singapore on June 12. Increased risk of war in the Middle East.

Thirty thousand experts, policy people and diplomats are in Poland, planning for the next round of climate talks, The 1.5 degree C limit is a matter of life and death for some Pacific Island nations. 2 degrees is beyond safe.

Isn’t it good to learn about some sane, co-operative action? The power of environmentalism – Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians unite in campaign for the environment.

Renewable Energy Now Employs 10.3 Million People Globally.



Nuclear waste dump plan,  Some more submissions to the Senate Inquiry on Selection of Site

  • Eddie Hughes MP– Nuclear Waste Dump Site Selection Process is Deeply Flawed.
  •  David Noonan: No sound reason for ANSTO’s nuclear reactor wastes to go to Kimba South Australia as STRANDED WASTES.
  •  Gary Cushway shows up the lack of indigenous support for nuclear waste dump.

Geophysicists say that North Korean nuclear blast ‘moved mountain’. Australia’s seismic station plays role in monitoring.

CLIMATE. Adani’s Carmichael mine in Queensland no longer a viable proposition.  Turnbull’s election budget dumps on climate and renewables.


South Australian Parliament debating law to protect whistleblowers.

USA, Australia, want to keep fossil fuel lobbyists in climate talks – developing nations want them OUT.


May 11, 2018 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Eddie Hughes MP- Nuclear Waste Dump Site Selection Process is Deeply Flawed

Eddie Hughes  Submission to Senate Inquiry on Nuclear Waste Dump Sit Selection Process  (Submission No. 57 My name is Eddie Hughes and I am the State Member for Giles. Please accept the speech I gave in Parliament on the 31 May 2017 as my submission for the Senate Inquiry into “The selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia”.

I believe that the selection process is deeply flawed as a result of being based on an individual site nomination process.


Mr HUGHES ( Giles ) ( 15:23 ): I rise today to talk about the process that is on the way to determine whether a facility to accommodate domestic nuclear waste is built in South Australia. It is very strange, given the vastness of the Australian continent and, indeed, the concentration of nuclear expertise at Lucas Heights, that the only three sites being considered are all in the electorate of Giles. The reason all the sites are in Giles does not reflect any particular set of comparative advantages.

What it does reflect is a fundamentally flawed site selection process. It is a site selection process that has little regard for the impact on the communities that have been put in the spotlight and a site selection process that has absolutely no regard for the division that has been created.

Let me be clear: we do need to manage our domestically-produced waste in a responsible fashion. The adoption of such a divisive process does not, however, represent a responsible approach. The trigger for the engagement process is at the heart of why this is a seriously flawed approach. If you look at Kimba and the surrounding district, and if you look at Hawker and its district, you will see the division that has been caused. The trigger for the Flinders Ranges site was totally centred on the action of one person. That person does not live in the region; he lives in Adelaide. He is an absentee landlord. This absentee landlord nominated Wallerberdina Station which is under a pastoral lease. The absentee landlord is Grant Chapman, a former Liberal Party Senator.

The process adopted by the Federal Government did not call for communities to nominate a site; it called for individuals with land tenure to nominate sites, a bizarre approach which then left communities to react. The absentee landlord did not consult with his neighbours prior to nominating his property. I understand that he did not discuss his intention with neighbouring pastoralists and he did not consult with the local Aboriginal people, some of whom live on the adjoining property at Yappala Station. I spent a night at Yappala, listening to the concerns expressed by the residents. They were shocked by the nomination and the arrogance of the absentee landlord. We now know that the presence of Aboriginal people in the Flinders Ranges dates back 40,000 years. They are not blow-ins, they are not absentee landlords, they have lived and walked the country for generations.

The nomination of Wallerberdina was marked and will always be marked by a complete lack of respect for the Adnyamathanha. The absentee landlord did not speak to his neighbours, neighbours whose connection to the land he obviously has no appreciation of. We are not all that far from terra nullius. His neighbours were invisible. The nomination and the ongoing process has generated division not just in the European community but also in the Aboriginal community. The nomination process in Kimba also centred on the actions of individuals and has also led to community division. In the lead-up to the Federal election, the people of Kimba were under the impression that the two sites nominated near Kimba had been taken off the table, only to magically reappear after the election.

Most of the waste generated comes from the Eastern States. Lucas Heights can easily accommodate the long-lived intermediate waste for decades to come. That is where the expertise is and that is  where the more serious waste is generated. When it comes to that waste and other waste streams, we have ample time to get this right, and a starting point at a national level is to initiate a roundtable process involving all the various interests, including non-government environmental bodies. We have an obligation to do this properly and we can build a consensus about our long-term management of nuclear waste. What has happened to date should become a case study in how not to do it.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

South Australian Parliament debating law to protect whistleblowers

SA parliament to debate whistleblower laws

A law shielding South Australian journalists from liability for refusing to reveal their sources will be tabled in state parliament.

Whistleblowers may soon have stronger protections under a bill introduced to parliament in South Australia.

The Liberal government on Thursday introduced legislation to shield journalists from criminal or civil liability if they do not disclose the identity of their sources when the information is in the public interest.

“This legislation enhances the public’s right to know by encouraging whistleblowers to come forward on the understanding that journalists will not be forced to disclose their identity in a court of law,” Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said.

The proposed legislation would make the default rule that journalists cannot be compelled to answer a question or produce a document that may disclose the identity of an informant.

“I anticipate it will be a very rare day that a court will deem revealing the identity of the informant is necessary to protect the public interest,” Ms Chapman said.

SA Law Society President Tim Mellor said the legislation was an important step in the protection of a free press.

“Like an independent judiciary, the fourth estate of a free press is an integral part of an open and transparent society,” Mr Mellor said

South Australian and Queensland are the only two states without shield laws.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Geophysicists say that North Korean nuclear blast ‘moved mountain’. Australia’s seismic station plays role in monitoring

While Dr Wang and his team used data from seismic monitoring systems in China and the surrounding area, Australia has one of the best in the world, Professor Tkalcic said: the Warramunga monitoring station in the Northern Territory, near Tennant Creek.

It’s almost smack bang in the centre of the continent, in an incredibly quiet part of the world, seismically speaking; far from tectonic plate edges, cities and the shoreline, where waves crashing on the coast create seismic noise.

There is also an infrasound detection system at Warramunga station, which detects waves that travel through the atmosphere produced by bomb blasts.

The data is transmitted by satellite to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation in Vienna, where it is monitored round the clock.

North Korean nuclear test had energy of 10 Nagasaki bombs and moved mountain, geophysicists say  By science reporter Belinda Smith, 11 May 18, 

An underground North Korean nuclear test in September last year exploded with 10 times the energy of the atomic bomb that exploded over Nagasaki in 1945.

It also caused the overlying mountain peak to sink by half a metre and shift about 3.5 metres south.

Key points:

  • North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb under Mt Mantap on September 3, 2017
  • Using satellite measurements and seismic data, geophysicists calculated the strength of the test and its location — the first time satellite radar has been used this way
  • The blast was big enough to cause an earthquake and deform the mountain above

These are conclusions drawn by geophysicists, who used satellite radar and instruments that pick up waves travelling through the earth, to calculate the explosion’s depth and strength.

In the journal Science today, they also report signs that a subterranean tunnel system at the test site collapsed 8.5 minutes after the bomb detonated.

In the past, satellite technology — called synthetic radar aperture imagery — has mapped how the ground stretches and warps after earthquakes.

But this is the first time it has been used to examine a nuclear bomb test site, according to Teng Wang, study co-author and a geophysicist at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

Since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, nine nuclear tests have taken place.

Six of these were by North Korea, five of which were at its Mt Mantap facility in the country’s north.

The bombs were detonated in chambers tunnelled into the mountain itself — a granite peak that extends upwards just over 2,200 metres.

But this means the details of the tests, such as the energy produced by the bombs, have been largely unknown outside North Korea — until now.

Eye in the sky, ear to the ground

Dr Wang and his colleagues suspected they could deduce the strength and precise location of the bomb test on September 3 last year, which triggered a magnitude-6.3 earthquake.

Clandestine nuclear activities are tracked by a global monitoring system of sensors that pick up the faint shivers and shudders generated by distant underground blasts and earthquakes.

But while these instruments are capable of picking up the wave signature of a bomb blast thousands of kilometres away, more information is needed to pinpoint exactly where an explosion has taken place.

So in the weeks after the September North Korean bomb test, Dr Wang and his colleagues received images of the Mt Mantap terrain before and after the test, snapped by the German TerraSAR-X satellite.

To map the bumps and dips on the Earth’s entire surface, TerraSAR-X pings radar towards the ground and measures how long it before the signal is bounced back up again.

“As long as the ground is deformed, we can measure it from space using synthetic radar aperture,” Dr Wang said.

Combined with a bit of nifty mathematical modelling — the first time anyone’s modelled an underground nuclear test with radar data — he and his colleagues got a fix on the exact location of the detonation site.

This is a highlight of the work, said Hrvoje Tkalcic, a geophysicist at the Australian National University, who was not involved in the study.

“What’s always difficult is pinpointing an exact location [of a bomb test],” Professor Tkalcic said.

Dr Wang and his team calculated that the top of the mountain subsided about half a metre after the September test, and parts of it shuffled south.

To manage this deformation, the bomb released the energy equivalent to between 109,000 and 276,000 tonnes of TNT in a chamber 450 metres below Mt Mantap’s peak.

The “Fat Man” bomb that exploded over Nagasaki yielded an energy level equivalent to 20,000 tonnes.

Among the data, they found the seismic shivers of a second, smaller event — an aftershock that appeared 700 metres south of, and 8.5 minutes after, the explosion.

The waves produced by the aftershock weren’t consistent with an explosion; rather, it looked like the ground had imploded.

This, the geophysicists suggest, “likely indicates the collapse of the tunnel system of the test site”.

While Dr Wang and his team used data from seismic monitoring systems in China and the surrounding area, Australia has one of the best in the world, Professor Tkalcic said: the Warramunga monitoring station in the Northern Territory, near Tennant Creek.

It’s almost smack bang in the centre of the continent, in an incredibly quiet part of the world, seismically speaking; far from tectonic plate edges, cities and the shoreline, where waves crashing on the coast create seismic noise.

It uses an array of buried instruments to pick up waves that travel through the ground, acting as a giant antenna to amplify weak signals.

“They’re used in the same way as astronomers use arrays of antennas to look at deep space. It’s just that our antennas are pointed to the centre of the earth,” Professor Tkalcic said.

There is also an infrasound detection system at Warramunga station, which detects waves that travel through the atmosphere produced by bomb blasts.

The data is transmitted by satellite to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation in Vienna, where it is monitored round the clock.

So how do geophysicists know if seismic waves are caused by bomb blasts and not, say, an earthquake or landslide?

In a subterranean explosion, the ground is pushed outwards and compressed, sending a particular type of wave through the ground, Professor Tkalcic said.

An earthquake’s seismic signature is different. If two plates collide, rub against each other or slip, they send out another type of wave.

“We can tell if the first motion was predominantly a compression or if it was a shear type of motion,” Professor Tkalcic said.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal. What now?

  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, John Mecklin May 2018,  

With his decision today to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump has put the long-term future of the deal in doubt, at the very least. In a televised announcement from the White House, Trump said the United States would reimpose the “highest level” of economic sanctions against Iran and would hold other nations accountable for violating those sanctions. During his truculent presentation, Trump asserted that the Iran nuclear deal—known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA—was “horrible” and “one-sided.” Even if Iran complied with the terms of the “decaying and rotten structure” of the JCPOA, the president claimed, it could move to the verge of creating nuclear weapons in “a very short time” even as it continued to build nuclear-capable missiles and support terrorism across the Middle East and the world. (The president’s claims run counter to the assessments of the numerous international security experts who note that the JCPOA’s intrusive inspection regime and other components would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons indefinitely.)

As he announced US withdrawal from the Iran deal, Trump threatened dire consequences for Iran if it resumed work toward nuclear weapons. At the same time, he asserted that his administration would work with allies toward a new deal that he was “ready, willing and able” to negotiate with Iran. Iran has previously insisted it will not renegotiate the JCPOA.

In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s decision, it was unclear how Iran, the other five countries that agreed to the JCPOA—Russia, China, the UK, France, and Germany—and the rest of the world would respond over the long term. The Bulletin invited a wide variety of top international security experts to provide comments on Trump’s decision and its potentially wide-ranging ramifications. Their responses are published below, in hopes they will help the international community find the best possible path forward. ……….


May 11, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The Trump decision on Iran : dangerous, irresponsible, and full of implications for North

Korea  EXPERT COMMENTARY MAY 2018, Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, Arms Control Association

Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran clearly violates the multilateral Iran nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While the move is unsurprising—given Trump’s failure to recognize the nonproliferation value of the deal and frequent threats to walk away—it is dangerous and irresponsible, and it risks manufacturing a nuclear crisis that the international community cannot afford.

There was no legitimate reason for Trump to reimpose sanctions. For the past two years, the nuclear deal has verifiably restricted Iran’s nuclear program and subjected it to intrusive monitoring and verification. Even critics of the deal, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have admitted that there is no evidence that Iran is in violation of the agreement.

Trump’s main criticism—that the deal paves the way to an Iranian nuclear weapon in 10 years—is based on a flawed analysis that discounts the value that the permanent monitoring mechanisms and prohibitions put in place by the deal possess. They are a bulwark against nuclear weapons development.

By violating the deal, Trump has only isolated the United States and undermined Washington’s credibility. His “plan B” —to negotiate a “better deal” with Iran— is completely unrealistic. After this clear demonstration that the United States cannot be counted on to implement an agreement in good faith, Trump will hard pressed to gain any support for sanctions, let alone new talks. As a result, Trump is inciting a proliferation crisis, rather than working with allies to develop a long-term diplomatic strategy that would build on the agreement in the years ahead and address Iran’s malign activities outside of the accord.

Despite Trump’s reckless decision to reimpose sanctions, it would be premature to declare the nuclear deal dead. The JCPOA is a multilateral agreement endorsed by the UN Security Council and Washington’s P5+1 partners—China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom—which have pledged to implement the deal, irrespective of US actions. And these states and the European Union have powerful tools at their disposal to block the secondary effects of US sanctions.

It will be critical that these states move quickly to insulate legitimate business from US sanctions, demonstrating to Iran that there is still an incentive—trade with Europe and other developed economies—to continue abiding by the nuclear commitments made under the accord. Failure to ensure that Iran has international trading opportunities will make it more likely that Tehran will respond to Trump’s violation by breaching the nuclear limits. While Iran is unlikely to dash for a bomb, Iranian officials have left the door open to restart uranium enrichment to 20 percent uranium 235, a level of fissionable material currently prohibited by the deal. If Iran choses this path it would destabilize the region and increase the risks of conflict.

Trump’s decision has nonproliferation consequences beyond Iran. Trump is about to sit down at an important summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to discuss denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Violating the Iran deal undermines US credibility in those negotiations and sends a message to Kim Jong-un that even if an agreement is reached and North Korea abides by its terms, there’s no guarantee that Washington will fulfill its commitments. This is a dangerous precedent to set and risks this historic opportunity to de-escalate tensions with North Korea.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

American community sick and tired of “baby-sitting” stranded nuclear wastes

 bipartisan negotiations  produced “a separate path to interim storage, decoupling it from a permanent repository.”

Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) SMUD estimates that it spends roughly $5 million each year to essentially “babysit” the waste, which requires tight security and a small crew to oversee its proper storage.

Tons of nuclear waste sitting near Sacramento finally might move   BY EMILY CADEI WASHINGTON 10 May 18, 

More than two hundred tons of nuclear waste have been sitting a half-hour drive from downtown Sacramento for decades, as policymakers in Washington haggle over where to send the material. Continue reading

May 11, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Developing nations want to bar fossil fuel lobbyists from climate talks, but Australia and USA don’t agree.

US, Australia fight push to bar fossil fuel interests from climate talks By Natasha Geiling on 11 May 2018  ThinkProgress  

For nine days, representatives from governments across the globe have been meeting in Bonn, Germany, to hammer out details of the Paris climate agreement.

But participating at the talks alongside diplomatic representatives and environmental groups are some perhaps unexpected parties — like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has long opposed climate regulations and is a vocal proponent of fossil fuels.

A coalition of developing nations in Africa and Latin America had hoped to draw attention to the influence that the fossil fuel industry maintains over the climate negotiation process with a formal acknowledgement of conflicts of interest at the conclusion of the talks in Bonn this week.

But developed nations — led largely by the United States — succeeded in preventing such a formal acknowledgement from being included in the meeting’s final notes. Continue reading

May 11, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Renewable Energy Now Employs 10.3 Million People Globally   10 May 18 The renewable energy industry employs 10.3 million people worldwide, according to new data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). And the sector is growing rapidly, adding more than 500,000 jobs last year alone, an increase of 5.3 percent from 2016, PV Magazine reported.

The solar industry accounts for the largest share of jobs in renewable energy, with nearly 3.4 million people employed in research, production, installation and maintenance of solar panels — an increase of 9 percent from 2016. The solar sector is followed by liquid biofuels, with 1.9 million jobs, and hydropower, with 1.5 million. The IRENA report finds that employment in the global wind industry decreased slightly from 2016 to 2017, shrinking to 1.15 million. China is home to 65 percent of the world’s solar jobs, and 43 percent of all renewable energy jobs. Due to the region’s robust manufacturing sector, four-fifths of all renewable energy jobs are located in Asia.

“The data underscores an increasingly regionalized picture, highlighting that in countries where attractive policies exist, the economic, social and environmental benefits of renewable energy are most evident,” said Adnan Z. Amin, director general of IRENA.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Influence of Israel, Saudi Arabia, in Trump’s policy on Iran

Trump Outsources US Foreign Policy to Riyadh, Tel Aviv Over Iran Deal – Analysts

 Jonathan Ernst 17 10.05 WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The United States by exiting the Iran nuclear agreement has now essentially outsourced US foreign policy in the Middle East to both Israel and Saudi Arabia, analysts told Sputnik.

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the United States is ready to announce an additional set of sanctions against Iran as early as next week in response to its alleged development of nuclear weapons.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced that the United States was withdrawing from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by the P5+1 and EU, which ensures Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful in exchange for sanctions relief. In addition, the US Treasury said it would reimpose the highest-level economic sanctions possible on Iran.

In the week prior to Trump’s decision Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an internationally-broadcast address presented old intelligence and tried to claim that Tehran was continuing to develop nuclear weapons.

In fact, Iran has remained compliant under the conditions of the JCPOA as verified by the IAEA in 11 reports since January 2016 — a reality US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo even admitted during his confirmation hearings.

Israeli, Saudi Victory

Retired US Army Major and historian Todd Pierce told Sputnik that Trump’s announcement was a triumph for the leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of whom want the United States to confront Iran.

“Trump has placed US foreign policy in the hands of the coalition of Israel under Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia under [Crown Prince] Mohammad bin Salman, which his son in law Jared Kushner helped bring together to collectively wage war against Iran and Syria,” he said.

Trump’s statement on why he was pulling out of the international nuclear agreement with Iran was expressed in terms that made it sound like Trump was determined to go to war, Pierce observed.”Constructively, in effect, Trump’s talk sounded like a declaration of war against Iran, with the first step being to tighten up the ‘blockade’ of Iran, meaning in the 21st century version of that, US sanctions,” Pierce said.

Trump’s address was also notable for how closely it followed the arguments made eight days earlier by Netanyahu in his efforts to persuade the US government and Congress to scrap the agreement, Pierce pointed out.

Trump, like his ally and friend Netanyahu had shown scant regard for factual accuracy in his presentation.Trump was not an extremist or aberration in setting such policies but was fulfilling goals that had been followed for decades, Pierce pointed out.

Tehran Undaunted

Global peace activist and expert on the medical dangers of nuclear energy, Dr. Helen Caldicott, told Sputnik that she expected Tehran to continue honoring its commitmentsunder the 2015 nuclear accord.

“I think there will not be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East despite the fact that Israel was vehemently opposed to the treaty and surreptitiously lobbied against it with the powers that be in the US,” Caldicott said.

Caldicott, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, the organization that was the co-winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, noted that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had pledged to remain in the accord.

“Rouhani says that Iran will abide by the JCPOA, a stand which I intuitively had predicted,” she said. “It also seems clear that the European nations will definitely not abide by Trump’s terms of increased sanctions, after begging him to comply.”
The United States still needed to realize that Russia was not an ideological enemy of the West any more the way the Soviet Union had been throughout the Cold War, Caldicott maintained.

“If America could come to its senses and decide that all nuclear weapons are useless symbols of annihilation and have absolutely nothing to do with ‘defense’ it could lead the world to sanity, survival and nuclear disarmament,” she said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said on Wednesday that the country may start development of nuclear weapons if Iran continues its nuclear program.

Caldicott is the author of many books, including “The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military Industrial Complex” and “War in Heaven:” The Arms Race in Outer Space.” The Smithsonian Institution has named her one of the most influential women of the 20th century.


May 11, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment