Australian news, and some related international items

Busting the pro thorium nuclear spin

Should Australia consider thorium nuclear power?  The Conversation 

Today, advocates of thorium typically point to a variety of advantages over uranium. These include fail-safe reactor operation, because most thorium reactor designs are incapable of an explosion or meltdown, as was seen at Chernobyl or Fukushima. Another is resistance to weapons proliferation, because thorium reactors create byproducts that make the fuel unsuitable for use in nuclear weapons.Other advantages include greater abundance of natural reserves of thorium, less radioactive waste and higher utilisation of fuel in thorium reactors. Thorium is often cast as “good nuclear”, while uranium gets to carry the can as “bad nuclear”.

Not so different

While compelling at first glance, the details reveal a somewhat more murky picture. The molten salt architecture which gives certain thorium reactors high intrinsic safety equally applies to proposed fourth-generation designs using uranium. It is also true that nuclear physics technicalities make thorium much less attractive for weapons production, but it is by no means impossible; the USA and USSR each tested a thorium-based atomic bomb in 1955.

Other perceived advantages similarly diminish under scrutiny. There is plenty of uranium ore in the world and hence the fourfold abundance advantage of thorium is a moot point. Producing less long-lived radioactive waste is certainly beneficial, but the vexed question remains of how to deal with it.

Stating that thorium is more efficiently consumed is the most mischievous of the claimed benefits. Fast-breeder uranium reactors have much the same fuel efficiency as thorium reactors. However, they weren’t economic as the price of uranium turned out to rather low.

May 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Senate climate report is a warning for Australia’s military

Climate change warning for Australia’s military    Former defence chief Admiral Chris Barrie, who led Australian forces until 2002, says a new Senate committee report on the security risks of climate change must be taken seriously. SBS World News, By James Elton-Pym  , 18 May 18 


May 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Climate change is a clear and present danger to Australia’s security – Senate report

Senate report: climate change is a clear and present danger to Australia’s security, The Conversation,  Matt McDonald, Associate Professor of International Relations, The University of Queensland, 

The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade yesterday presented its report on the national security implications of climate change.

The report makes several findings and recommendations, noting at the outset that climate change has a range of important security implications, both domestically and internationally.

Tellingly, none of the expert submissions questioned the rationale for this inquiry, nor the claim that climate change challenges Australian national security.

The report concludes that:

the consensus from the evidence (is) that climate change is exacerbating threats and risks to Australia’s national security.

Significantly, it also notes that climate change threatens both state and human security in the Australian context. Here are some of the key security implications.

Sea-level rises and natural disasters are key challenges

The report emphasises the risks posed by rising sea levels and an increase in the frequency and intensity of environmental stress (droughts and floods, for example) and natural disasters such as cyclones. In turn, it notes that these could trigger population movements, with people displaced by extreme weather events or rising seas.

This, the report argues, would have significant implications for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions involving the ADF have increased significantly in Australia and our region in recent years. The report predicts that the ADF will face even more pressure to carry out this type of mission in the future.

In its submission, the Department of Defence pointed out that the ADF was not established to provide these roles. The report recommends the creation of a senior leadership position within Defence to plan and manage disaster relief missions both here and abroad.

Australia, and its backyard, are particularly vulnerable

The report notes that Australia and its region are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Australia’s population is largely clustered in coastal areas, and this is also true of the Asian region generally and the Pacific specifically. Pacific island nations – as low-lying and with limited resources for implementing adaptive measures – are acutely vulnerable to sea-level rises. In the Asian region 40 million people were displaced by natural disasters in 2010-11 alone.

The report argues that Australia’s obligation to its neighbours in the region, acknowledged in recent statements on the Pacific, will create significant pressure on Australia and its defence force to manage the implications of climate change. It recommends sending even more aid to the Pacific region to help build climate resilience.

Defence needs to plan ahead

While the report acknowledges Defence efforts, a key finding is the urgent need for Defence to plan for a climate-affected world………


May 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers

Climate change on track to cause major insect wipeout, scientists warn
Insects are vital to ecosystems but will lose almost half their habitat under current climate projections ,
Guardian, Damian CarringtonEnvironment editor @dpcarrington Fri 18 May 2018 

Global warming is on track to cause a major wipeout of insects, compounding already severe losses, according to a new analysis.

Insects are vital to most ecosystems and a widespread collapse would cause extremely far-reaching disruption to life on Earth, the scientists warn. Their research shows that, even with all the carbon cuts already pledged by nations so far, climate change would make almost half of insect habitat unsuitable by the end of the century, with pollinators like bees particularly affected.

However, if climate change could be limited to a temperature rise of 1.5C – the very ambitious goal included in the global Paris agreement – the losses of insects are far lower.

The new research is the most comprehensive to date, analysing the impact of different levels of climate change on the ranges of 115,000 species. It found plants are also heavily affected but that mammals and birds, which can more easily migrate as climate changes, suffered less.

“We showed insects are the most sensitive group,” said Prof Rachel Warren, at the University of East Anglia, who led the new work. “They are important because ecosystems cannot function without insects. They play an absolutely critical role in the food chain.”

“The disruption to our ecosystems if we were to lose that high proportion of our insects would be extremely far-reaching and widespread,” she said. “People should be concerned – humans depend on ecosystems functioning.” Pollination, fertile soils, clean water and more all depend on healthy ecosystems, Warren said.

In October, scientists warned of “ecological Armageddon” after discovering that the number of flying insects had plunged by three-quarters in the past 25 years in Germany and very likely elsewhere……..

May 18, 2018 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Women leaders come together to fight climate change  

18 MAY 2018
Climate change affects everyone, but certain demographics and groups are at greater risk. One such demographic is women, who are more likely than men to feel the negative consequences of a warming planet.

This fact was one of the primary reasons for the Climate Leaders’ Summit: Women Kicking it on Climate, which was hosted on 16 and 17 May by Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

“I am privileged to work with so many fearless women who are climate leaders,” said McKenna on why she organized the summit. “We know women and girls are particularly at risk when it comes to climate change, and yet women are also at the forefront of bold climate leadership around the world. Together, women are turning ideas into solutions.”

The event brought together female climate leaders from around the world, with representatives from the public, private, academic and civil society sectors. The group focused on topics such as improving collaboration to find solutions to climate change, female empowerment and ensuring that women are represented in global conversations surrounding the environment.

As scientists have begun to understand the effects of climate change, it has become apparent that women are at greater risk, especially in the developing world. In many countries women are responsible for securing food, water and energy for cooking, heating and sustaining their families. This means that they depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, which are threatened by drought, uncertain rainfall and deforestation – all things that are exacerbated by climate change.

For this reason, one of the primary topics of the summit was the importance of sustainable development and clean growth. Especially important is giving women the tools they need to earn a better living and live themselves, and their families out of poverty.

While many issues were discussed, the main theme of the summit was the importance of women’s leadership, especially in combating climate change. Women in leadership roles were essential in creating the Paris Agreement, which includes a soon-to-be implemented Gender Action Plan that will ensure greater female participation in climate negotiations. But the greatest takeaway from the discussions was the importance of advocating for equal gender representation in leadership roles, whether it be in politics, business, or at the local level.

At the end of the summit the general feeling among the women involved was one of inspiration and empowerment. Tina Birmpili, the head of the United Nations Ozone Secretariat, was one of the women who participated. At the end of the experience she felt especially motivated to continue pushing for change.

“We need more women, not only in policymaking and environmental science but also in engineering and technological innovation,” said Birmpili. “Let the disproportionate effect climate change has on women, and the deeper understanding they consequently acquire day by day, be the driving force to catapult them to all positions they deserve to have in the fight against climate change.”

Learn more about UN Environment’s work on climate change and gender.

May 18, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Theme announced for  30th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day 2018

Children’s Day 2018 Announcement 

‘Melbourne, Australia:
SNAICC is delighted to announce the theme for
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day for 2018 is
SNAICC – Celebrating Our Children for 30 Years

‘Our children are the youngest people from the longest living culture in the world,
with rich traditions, lore and customs that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Our children are growing up strong with connection to family, community and country.
Our children are the centre of our families and the heart of our communities.
They are our future and the carriers of our story.

‘This year, we invite communities to take a walk down memory lane,
as we revisit some of the highlights of the last 30 years. We look back
on the empowering protest movements instigated by community that had led
to the establishment of the first Children’s Day on 4 August 1988.

‘We look back at all of the amazing moments we’ve shared with our children over the years,
and how we’re watching them grow into leaders.

‘We look back to see what we’ve achieved, and decide where we want to go
from here to create a better future for our children.

‘If you have celebrated Children’s Day at any time during the past 30 years,
we would love to hear from you. … ‘

Read How to get involved in Children’s Day 2018:

May 18, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Senate report recognises climate risk, but fails to draw obvious conclusions — RenewEconomy

Senate report acknowledges the huge risks of climate change and the “threat to intelligent life”. But it needs to do more than that.

via Senate report recognises climate risk, but fails to draw obvious conclusions — RenewEconomy

May 18, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Narrabri should choose wind, solar over CSG — RenewEconomy

Report finds Narrabri has “enormous potential” for renewables, with scope for between 1GW and 4.5GW of large-scale solar and wind, that would create 500-2,600 permanent local jobs.

via Why Narrabri should choose wind, solar over CSG — RenewEconomy

May 18, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Elvis, aliens and solar pioneers in western NSW — RenewEconomy

How an Australian town found itself at the vanguard of a global solar revolution.

via Elvis, aliens and solar pioneers in western NSW — RenewEconomy

May 18, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Janette Thomas – on the biased “community consultation”on Barndioota nuclear dump plan, seismic and flooding dangers

Janette Thomas Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry into the selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia (Submission No 36)

My name is Janette Thomas, resident of Quorn since 2003. My submission is written to explain the adverse effects of The Federal Government Nuclear Waste Dump siting selection process on my local community, my family and myself. I am deeply concerned that a nuclear waste facility is being considered for a site near Hawker on the Hookina flood plain.

Terms of Reference:

a) The financial compensation offered to applicants for the acquisition of land under the Nominations of Land Guidelines:

The Barndioota shortlisting site was publicly announced in November 2015. It was also mentioned in the November 2015 Community Newsletter of the Flinders Ranges Council by our Mayor in his “Mayors Message” stating “The first Council knew of this was calls seeking information from media outlets”.

Attachment 1 – FRC Community Newsletter, November 2015

In December 2015, The Department of Innovation, Industry and Science (DIIS) held information “drop-in” sessions in both Hawker and Quorn. It is not known how many residents availed themselves of this opportunity to learn more, however it is stated in the Mayor’s Message that “only a few residents visited them to find out more about the proposal”. I did take the opportunity to go and see what was being displayed, and spoke to the DIIS representatives. I voiced my concerns strongly, however it did not appear that there were any notes taken – just an attempt by the representatives to rebut any of the issues that I raised.

Attachment 2 – FRC Community Newsletter, December 2015

A presentation by the DIIS was held at the Quorn Town Hall on 15.2.16. The information given to the meeting was all positive and “talked up” the benefits to the community. For example:

  1. The $10 million dollars the host community would receive if the nuclear waste facility was to be sited in the area.
  2. 2. The 15 FTE jobs that would be available to operate the facility.
  3. 3. The annual $2M Community Benefit Package that would be available for local approved applications during the site selection process.
  4. 4. The tourist opportunities – it was suggested that tourists would come to the area to visit the facility.
  5. 5. Once the site is chosen the landowner is to receive 3 times the current value for the 100 hectares required.
  6. 6. The “temporary” storage of the Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) was barely mentioned, if at all, until question time when the panel was repeatedly asked about how it would be stored and for how long.

b) how the need for ‘broad community support’ has played and will continue to play a part in the process

A phone “survey” was undertaken by Orima over the period late February to early March 2016 to gauge the local community support to proceed to Stage 2, ie does the community want the various surveys to be undertaken to evaluate the area as suitable or not, for the storage of nuclear waste.

I answered a telephone call and was asked for the male occupant of the house between certain ages. My partner was over the age requested, and I was not eligible to do the survey, and so our household was not invited to participate. I heard of similar experiences later. I would like to have had the opportunity to make a statement at that time. How is it that a small number of phone calls about such a serious issue of “hosting” a national nuclear waste dump, can then be manipulated to gauge community support to proceed forward to the next stage. It has been suggested that the people who had no opinion were counted as being “in favour”.

Many people had not heard of the short listing of Barndioota, and had not had a chance to think about what they were saying yes, no, or don’t know to. There was publicity given through newsletters and DIIS mailouts, advising that there would be officers visiting from Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) on a regular basis, who could provide more information and answer any queries, however this all occurred after the decision was announced to proceed to stage 2. I did attend one of their visits voicing my concerns. Their answers were very biased – that there was nothing to be concerned about – refer below: ( f – any other related matters – A).

f) any other related matters

A. The people attending the town meeting 15.2.16 were given the opportunity to ask questions. Many were concerned about the Barndioota site location for many reasons. Some being:

  1. The Flinders Ranges is renown as being a very seismic active locality. Refer to attachment 3 – Independent Geological Report.
  2. 2. Barndioota is situated on a flood plain, notorious for extreme periodic flood events and massive historic mud flows. Refer to attachment 3 –
  3. Independent Geological Report. 3. Question time revealed that there would also be Intermediate level nuclear waste (ILW) stored “temporarily”. When queried how long is temporary – the reply was vague – different figures were quoted. 20, 30 – possibly up to 100 years. If this is the case, I see no reason to move the ILW from its current storage site until a suitable, safe, permanent site is established. Refer to attachment   4 –Quorn Mercury, (Community Meeting pp1-2)

B. The Barndioota site shortlisted, was part of a private leasehold property, and the landholder had not considered or consulted the neighbours or local community before making his application. He had full knowledge of the search for the nuclear waste site having served on three Senate Select Committees related to this industry: Dangers of Radioactive Waste, 23/3/95 to 24/04/96 (Chair from 30/03/95); Uranium Mining and Milling, 08/05/96 to 15/05/97 (Chair from 23/05/96); and Lucas Heights Reactor, 17/08/00 to 24/05/01, but the local community didn’t. This has been a major flaw in the process of a possible nuclear waste dump facility for many reasons.

  1. Neighbours and community should have been given the opportunity to discuss the ramifications of storing nuclear waste in their area as a matter of respect, similar to the building application process of local government.
  2. 2. To date there has been millions of dollars spent in “world best practice” obtaining a suitable site for the nuclear waste facility. For example:

a. The Orima Survey undertaken to proceed to the next stage.

b. Staff travel and accommodation costs for the many visits over the last 2 ½ years during the process period.

  1. Travel and accommodation costs for the numerous groups who have been taken to the Lucas Heights facility.
  2. d. The travel and accommodation costs of the French group who were asked to give account of the facility in their home country.

e. The $2million Community Benefits Programme made available for application as an incentive during the process to the next stage. Currently there is a second $2million application process underway for the Barndioota site. These processes are currently being replicated in Kimba and will be available for all other sites that proceed to the same stage.

f. The appointment of a full-time Liaison Officer (who appears to be in favour of the facility and not impartial).

g. There are various committees, with members receiving payment to cover their costs of time and travel.

h. There have recently been major costly site surveys undertaken

This will be the process for each of the shortlisted sites therefore multiplying the costly exercises manyfold. Continue reading

May 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

South Australia’s battles against nuclear waste dumping won, – and now fought again

EXTRACT from:  A journey to the heart of the anti-nuclear resistance in Australia: Radioactive Exposure Tour 2018, NUCLEAR  MONITOR  Author: Ray Acheson ‒  NM859.4719, May 2018 “……The federal government of Australia wants to build a facility to store and dispose of radioactive waste in South Australia, either at Wallerberdina Station near Hawker or on farming land in Kimba.

Wallerberdina Station is located in the Flinders Ranges, the largest mountain range in South Australia, 540 million years old. Approaching from the north on our drive down from Lake Eyre can only be described as breathtaking. The red dirt, the brown and green bush, and the ever-changing purples, blues, and reds of the mountains themselves are some of the most complex and stunning scenes one can likely see in the world.

Most people might find it shocking that the federal government would want to put a nuclear waste dump smack in the middle of this landscape. But after visiting other sites on the Rad Tour, it was only yet another disappointment ‒ and another point of resistance.

What is known is that the Wallerberdina site is of great cultural, historical, and spiritual significance to the Adnyamathanha people.  It borders the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area, which is a crucial location for biodiversity in the Flinders Ranges. Its unique ecosystem provides a refuge for many native species of flora and fauna, contains many archaeological sites as well as the first registered  Aboriginal Songline of its type in Australia, and is home to Pungka Pudanha, a natural spring and sacred woman’s site.

In case that isn’t enough, the area is a known floodplain. Our travels around the proposed site contained ample evidence of previous floods that sent massive trees rushing down the plain, smashing into each other and into various bridges and other built objects. The last big flood occurred in 2006.

The Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners were not consulted before their land was nominated for consideration by the government for the waste dump. “Through this area are registered cultural heritage sites and places of huge importance to our family, our history and our future,” wrote Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners in a 2015 statement.  “We don’t want a nuclear waste dump here on our country and worry that if the waste comes here it will harm our environment and muda (our lore, our creation, our everything).”

We met Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners Vivianne and Regina McKenzie, and Tony Clark, at the proposed site. They invited us into the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area to view the floodplains and swim in the beautiful Pungka Pudanha. We’d just been camping at Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges National Park only a few kilometres away. It is impossible to understand the government’s rationale for wanting to build a toxic waste dump on this land so cherished by its Traditional Owners, local communities, and tourists alike.

The McKenzies have been working tirelessly to prevent the proposed dump from being established, as have other local activists. Fortunately, they have some serious recent successes to inspire them. In 2015, the federal government announced a plan to import 138,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste from around the world to South Australia as a commercial enterprise. But Traditional Owners began protesting immediately, arguing that the so-called consultations were not accessible and that misinformation was rife.  In 2016, a Citizen’s Jury, established by then Premier Jay Weatherill and made up of 350 people, deliberated over evidence and information. In November that year, two-thirds of the Jury rejected “under any circumstances” the plan to import or store high-level waste.24 They cited lack of Aboriginal consent, unsubstantiated economic assumptions and projections, and lack of confidence in the governmental proposal’s validity.

Other battles against proposed nuclear waste dumps have been fought and won in South Australia. From 1998 to 2004, the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern South Australia, successfully campaigned against a proposed national nuclear waste dump near Woomera. In an open letter in 2004, the Kungkas wrote: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”

Connected communities

The attempts by the Australian government and the nuclear industry to impose a waste dump in the Flinders Ranges, just like their attempts to impose waste dumps and uranium mines elsewhere in the country, or their refusal to compensate victims and survivors of nuclear testing, are all mired with racism. They are rooted in a fundamental dismissal and devaluation of the lives and experiences of indigenous Australians, and of proximity to cities but more importantly, to power.The industry and government’s motivations for imposing nuclear violence on these people and this land are militarism and capitalism.

Profit over people. Weapons over wellbeing. Their capacity for compassion and duty of care has been constrained by chronic short-termism ‒ a total failure to protect future generations. The poison they pull out of the earth, process, sell, allow others to make bombs with, and bury back in the earth, wounds us all now and into the future.

But nuclear weapons are now prohibited under international law. New actors are challenging the possession of nuclear weapons in new ways, and nucleararmed states are facing a challenge like never before.

The nuclear energy industry ‒ and thus the demand for uranium ‒ is declining. Power plants are being shuttered; corporations are facing financial troubles. Dirty and dangerous, the nuclear industry is dying.

This is in no small part due to the relentless resistance against it. This resistance was fierce throughout all of the country we visited, from Woomera up to Lake Eyre, from Roxby Downs to the Flinders Ranges. We listened to stories of those living on this land, we heard their histories, witnessed their actions, and supported their plans…..

May 18, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment