Australian news, and some related international items

To 19 December – Climate and Nuclear News

Climate has to dominate this week’s news. It seems that it takes a 15 year-old schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg to best spread the message, the reality of the planet’s situation. . Radio Ecoshock introduced some hard questions that have been ignored:

What social disruptions are being caused by global heating –  increased levels of malnutrition, starvation, disease, civil conflict and war – and not ecluding affluent nations?

Should we tell young people what we’ve done to the climate? (Too late: they are telling us.)

Far from perfect, but still, nearly 200 nations reached an agreement on climate action rules.


NUCLEAR. A second legal case to stop nuclear waste dump: Aboriginal traditional owners lodge complaint with Australian Human Rights Commission.

Labor Party’s National Conference is debating policy on the Federal Govt’s nuclear waste dump plan. Also debating whether to join the UN nuclear weapons ban treaty.  Labor has-been Gareth Evans still pro nuclear, sabotaging the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty.


Australia lies low in Katowice as UN scrapes together rules for climate deal.  Australia’s credibility on the line at UN climate talks. Australian government’s hypocritical performance at UN Climate Summit. Promoting coal at UN Climate Summit, did Environment Ambassador, Patrick Suckling speak officially for Australia? Anger, protests as Australia supports US fossil fuels event at UN climate talks.

Liberal Coalition has an energy vision: No more renewables, or emission cuts, before 2030.  Fact-checking Liberals’claim that Australia’s carbon emissions are coming down. Climate Democrats to enter the fray and disrupt Australia’s politics.

Australia’s Liberal National govt will use tax-payer funds to promote new and existing coal mines.  Scott Morrison and the Business Council are pushing coal – but on what evidence?.

The legal clause which could allow Adani to sue Australia.  Priest vows to block Adani bulldozersAdani aims to quash traditional owner challengers, tells court they’re ‘impecunious’. Australia’s Liberal Coalition govt cosying up to coal megaminer Adani.  Coalition designs underwriting tender so it can choose what it wants, including coal .

High alert as bushfire risk reaches Black Saturday levels. Bushfire threat to vital koala habitat.

The South Australian  farmers taking the fight to mining companies .

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Australia Defence taps solar, battery storage for NT base, in push away from fossil fuels.   Whyalla powering ahead – with renewable energy!    Solar farms getting smaller, cheaper and smarter to overcome grid hurdles. Western Australia  names new energy minister, primes grid for 900MW renewables rush.


December 18, 2018 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

A second legal case to stop nuclear waste dump: Aboriginal traditional owners lodge complaint with Australian Human Rights Commission

Another bid to stop SA nuclear dump–spt.html, Australian Associated Press18 December 2018  Traditional owners will lodge an Australian Human Rights Commission complaint alleging a fundamentally flawed process in the selection of a site near Hawker in South Australia as a possible location for a national radioactive waste dump.

The complaint will be lodged on Tuesday by lawyers acting for the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association.

It alleges that both the ballot to assess community support for the waste facility, which excludes many traditional owners, and the damage done to significant cultural heritage sites by commonwealth contractors constitutes unlawful discrimination.

Maurice Blackburn lawyer Nicki Lees says the nomination process for the Hawker site has been fundamentally flawed from its inception.

“From day one this process has shown a complete lack of regard for the traditional owners and for the significance of this site to the Adnyamathanha people,” Ms Lees said.

ATLA chief executive Vince Coulthard said his people remain strongly opposed to any nomination of their land for a future waste dump site and the legal action was important in seeking a fair hearing for their concerns.

It’s the second bid by traditional owners to scuttle the dump proposals with the Barngarla people also taking action over the selection of an area near Kimba, on Eyre Peninsula, as a possible location for the federal waste depository.

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

Labor has-been Gareth Evans still pro nuclear, sabotaging the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty

That treaty is now considered a huge success with 164 state parties. Evans was wrong then and he is wrong again now on the nuclear weapon ban treaty.”
According to Ican, 78% of the federal Labor caucus have pledged to work for Australia to sign and ratify the treaty, including two-thirds of the shadow cabinet.

Labor set for nuclear showdown as Gareth Evans warns of risk to US alliance, Guardian, Paul Karp

The former foreign affairs minister made the comments to Guardian Australia on the sidelines of Labor’s national conference, intervening in a dispute over how to translate in-principle support for disarmament into practical action.

The showdown set for Tuesday pits the Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese against the party’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, two traditional Labor left allies divided by conditions to be put on joining the treaty.

Guardian Australia understands that Albanese has registered an amendment proposing to sign and ratify the nuclear weapons ban treaty immediately to send a strong signal in favour of disarmament and noting that Australia can seek changes after it joins. Continue reading

December 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Sun setting on Japan’s nuclear export sector

Post-Fukushima cost overruns may kill a giant power project in Turkey, and there are few other deals to replace it

 DECEMBER 16, 2018 10:29 AM (UTC+8)  apan’s nuclear export industry could be dealt a fatal blow if Mitsubishi Heavy Industries pulls out of a massive project to build four large power plants on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, as reports have suggested.

The Sinop plant project in Turkey was seen as Japan’s best chance for an industry – battered and bruised after the 2011 tsunami and triple meltdown at Fukushima – to put together a workable export strategy that did not break the bank of potential international customers.

Aside from Sinop, the Japanese industry has only one viable export project still upcoming: Hitachi’s bid to build two reactors on the island of Anglesey in Britain. And even that deal is looking shaky.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has not pulled the plug yet on its stake in the four-reactor project on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, but a slew of domestic media reports and talk in Tokyo, suggests that, in the face of seemingly ever-rising construction costs to meet new safety standards that have been put in place since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the company will bail.

Fukushima legacy

When the deal was signed with Ankara in 2013, the ownership profile was: 65% awarded to a consortium made up of MHI, Itochu, France’s Areva, and GDF Suez. The other 35% was covered by Turkey’s electric power utility, Elektrik Uretim.

However, in April, Itochu pulled out of the consortium, citing cost overruns. That left the consortium with 51%, and the remaining 49% owned by the Turkish utility.

Without Mitsubishi the viability of the project is in question, sources say, unless Turkey can find a new partner or is willing to take on the project without its largest foreign partner. The Russians, who are building a nuclear complex on Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast, might be interested.

According to Kyodo, a thorough cost evaluation was to be completed by the end of this year. Itochu waited for the report to be released before bailing out of the deal. MHI is apparently waiting for the study to be completed before deciding its next move.

When the deal with Mitsubishi was signed in 2013, the estimated cost was $18 billion for four 1,100-megawatt nuclear power plants. But overall costs have soared, passing $42 billion in April – when Itochu withdrew, and is now put at about $44 billion.

Cost increases are nothing new in the nuclear power industry, but have been exacerbated in recent years by expensive adjustments phased in to meet more stringent safety concerns following the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed four units of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The Sinop cost rises, however, also encompass other problems encountered in construction.

Fukushima, one of the most serious nuclear accidents in history, turned most of Japan against nuclear power. Before March 11, 2011, Japan had 54 nuclear plants. All were shut down after the accident and some are slowly returning to service having passed scrutiny by the regulator. Five are expected to restart within the next five years, and eight will likely be decommissioned. But prospects for the remaining plants are unclear.

Aware that no new nuclear plant may ever be built at home amid the anti-atomic public mood, Japan’s nuclear vendors have turned to overseas exports as the Fukushima accident does not appear to have destroyed the Japanese industry brand in other countries.

Endgame for nuclear exports?

If Mitsubishi does pull out of the huge project in Turkey it will be a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who sees international exports of nuclear technology as an important way to boost the economy. On his many trips abroad, he often acts as a salesman for nuclear exports. For example, it was a topic of discussion with Turkish President Recep Erdogan on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Argentina.

Details of the conversation were not revealed, but it would be a good bet that they discussed the Sinop project with the threat of Mitsubishi hanging over them, and that Abe sought ways to keep the project viable.

Meanwhile, it is not just MHI that may have doubts about the sector. Japan’s nuclear export industry has suffered plenty of setbacks in the seven years since Fukushima. Questions about the future of the sector hang over all three main players in the sector.

Toshiba, one of Japan’s big-three nuclear constructors, recently pulled out of the nuclear power business overseas after incurring huge losses in the United States.

Toshiba has also suffered something of an administrative meltdown in its quest to win construction contracts in the US. In February it finally unloaded it money-losing American subsidiary, Westinghouse, for $1 billion less than it paid to acquire the company 10 years ago.

If the export program is to remain viable, it may be in Wales, where the British government is seeking to build a two-reactor nuclear power plant on the island of Anglesey. Among those bidding for the project is Japan’s third nuclear constructor, Hitachi, through a subsidiary called Horizon Nuclear.

In the nuclear world, there are constructors – like MHI, Toshiba and Hitachi – and operators, who run the plant after it is completed, and they are not always the same. Japan learned from Korea’s successful bid to build six nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates that offering to build and also run them – a one-stop service – is key to making sales.

Hitachi is teaming up with the Japan Atomic Power Company, which operates two plants in Japan (although both are currently shut down pending the review by regulators). The plan is to present the British with a package deal.

Now, there are worries that Hitachi might pull out of the British project. Chairman Hiroaka Nakanishi was quoted in the Times of London saying his company was “facing an extreme situation,” and that a final decision on whether to stay with the project or leave it will be made next year.

If Mitsubishi does, as is widely expected, pull out of the huge project in Turkey, the only egg left in Japan’s overseas nuclear export basket will be Wales.

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

Nuclear reactors lost at sea (will they be safe in space rockets?)

Explosive Accidents: The Lost Nuclear Arsenal at the Bottom of the Sea–PFmFciWyMO28xaa1nU7OFMlC7UfuQwjMFh4

Sep 3, 2018 Ian Harvey In July of 2018, Andrew Thaler wrote for Southern Fried Science that there were at least two nuclear capsules, four unarmed weapons, and one armed nuclear weapon sitting on the ocean floor, that he was aware of.

His information was based on declassified U.S. Department of Defense narrative summaries of accidents involving U.S. nuclear weapons.

He noted that the documents he had access to only covered the period of time between 1950 and 1980. Any more recent data would still be classified. There is reason to believe that his estimated numbers for nuclear material in the oceans are far too low.

Business Insider in 2013 wrote that since 1950 there have been 32 nuclear weapon accidents, known as Broken Arrows, where an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons resulted in the firing, launching, theft, or loss of said weapon.

BI reported in this piece that there were six nuclear weapons that have been lost and never recovered. The time frames for the BI list continued into the 2000’s, but this is also a lowball number.

According to a 1989 article in the New York Times, however, there have been at least 50 nuclear warheads and nine reactors scattered on the ocean floors since 1956.

These were the result of various accidents on the part of U.S. and Soviet bombers, ships, and rockets, according to a study of naval accidents that was published by Greenpeace and the Institute for Policy Studies.

The study outlines 1,276 accidents, both nuclear and non-nuclear, on the part of the world’s navies, and has some, more limited, information on another 1,000 accidents. The study points out that the total number of incidents amounts to one major peacetime accident a week

Information for the study was gathered mostly through the Freedom of Information Act, which included American intelligence assessments of Soviet naval accidents.

Eighty days after it fell into the ocean following the January 1966 midair collision between a nuclear-armed B-52G bomber and a KC-135 refueling tanker over Palomares, Spain, this B28RI nuclear bomb was recovered from 2,850 feet (869 meters) of water and lifted aboard the USS Petrel (note the missing tail fins and badly dented “false nose”).

The authors also received information from the governments of other nations. The report said that the worst accident occurred in 1986, when a Soviet submarine sank 600 miles northeast of the Bermuda coast, depositing two nuclear reactors and 32 nuclear warheads on the bottom of the ocean.

That one accident left more nuclear material under the sea than the authors of the first two pieces posited, combined. The study also notes that it doesn’t reflect data on any of the “many hundreds” of Soviet accidents about which little is known, and suggested that the Soviet Navy has far more accidents than those of America.

The accidents are, for the most part, due to human factors, ranging from issues of faulty navigation to outright sabotage.

So far, the U.S. has admitted to knowing of one hydrogen bomb that is leaking radioactive material. That bomb was accidentally dropped into the sea south of Japan in 1965 by an aircraft carrier.

Read another story from us: The Missing Nuclear Weapons Lost Off The Coast Of Bermuda

There is some likelihood that other bombs may have also begun to leak radiation into the water, and are just unknown as yet. Even if it hasn’t happened yet, the chances of such leaks will increase over time as the weapons degrade, having the potential to cause untold harm to the oceans and our planet as a whole.

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

The legal clause which could allow Adani to sue Australia,

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has stated again that a future Labor government should not cancel the Adani mine licence for environmental reasons because of “sovereign risk”.

All major banks and financial institutions have refused to fund the Adani project because of both financial and environmental risks, and there is a strong grassroots movement which has moved public opinion and resulted in Labour opposing any use of federal funds to support the project.

So the Adani project itself is regarded by investors as very risky. As prominent economist Saul Eslake has argued, its demise is unlikely to result in a sudden fall of more general investor confidence in Australia, which is what “sovereign risk” implies.

There is a bigger risk for a future government which might choose to cancel the licence. Adani could sue the Australian government for millions of dollars through the process known as Investor-State Disputes Settlement (ISDS), using the now terminated Australia-India Bilateral Investment Treaty.

ISDS gives giant global companies like Adani special legal rights that are not available to local companies to claim millions in compensation if they can argue that a law or policy has reduced the value of their investment, known as “indirect expropriation” and/or if they can claim that they were not properly consulted about the change in the law or policy.

The cases are heard by international tribunals that have been criticised by legal experts such as former High Court Chief Justice Robert French because they have no independent judges, no precedents and no appeals. There are now over 900 known cases and many are against healthenvironmentindigenous rights or other public interest regulation.

Even when governments win, they lose, because it takes years and millions of dollars to defend ISDS cases. The US Philip Morris tobacco company lost its claim for compensation for Australia’s 2012 plain packaging legislation in the Australian High Court. The company could not sue under the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement because the Howard government had not agreed to ISDS in that agreement. The company moved some assets to Hong Kong and used ISDS in a Hong Kong-Australia investment agreement to sue the Australian government. It took over four years for the tribunal to decide that Philip Morris was not a Hong Kong company. It took an FOI case to reveal that it cost the government $38m of taxpayer dollars in legal fees to defend the case.

The Australia-India treaty was terminated by India on March 23, 2017 but it has an extraordinary grandfather clause that means its provisions apply to investments made before that date for another 15 years. India, South Africa and a number of other countries have terminated all such investment treaties because of the risks and costs to governments from unfair tribunal decisions. Australia’s Productivity Commission has condemned ISDS for the same reasons, as did the previous Rudd-Gillard Labor government.

The European Court of Justice found recently that ISDS limits national sovereignty and that any trade agreement containing ISDS could not be negotiated by the European Commission, but had to be approved by each EU national parliament. Fearing rejection of ISDS, the EU has ceased including ISDS in its recent trade deals, including the one currently being negotiated with Australia

Current Labor policy opposes ISDS in trade and investment agreements because it “undermines fair competition, judicial independence and the Australian people’s sovereign right to legislate and implement policies in their interests through democratic processes”.

The cancellation of the Australia-India investment agreement in March 2017 means that Adani cannot claim compensation for investments made after that date. But under the 15-year grandfather clause, Adani could seek compensation for what it has claimed is the $3bn of investment made before March 2017 in preliminary costs including the Abbot Point port lease to export the coal.

Even the threat of an ISDS case can deter governments from taking action in the public interest. The New Zealand government deferred its plain packaging legislation for over four years until the Philip Morris ISDS case was over. Now it seems that Labor could be deterred from developing a policy against the Adani project because of the threat of ISDS.

This is yet another example of why Labor should implement its policy against including ISDS in all trade agreements, and remove it from current agreements like the TPP-11. Global corporations should not have special legal rights to undermine the policies of democratically elected governments. It would be a travesty of democracy if a government elected on the basis of majority support for regulation of carbon emissions and other action against climate change faced challenges from global companies aiming to frustrate their implementation.

 Dr Patricia Ranald is convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network and a research fellow at the University of Sydney

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

Coalition has an energy vision: No more renewables, or emission cuts, before 2030 — RenewEconomy

Coalition says new wind and solar will allow it slash electricity emissions by 26% by 2022, after which it expects emissions to rise and new investment to stop. The post Coalition has an energy vision: No more renewables, or emission cuts, before 2030 appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Coalition has an energy vision: No more renewables, or emission cuts, before 2030 — RenewEconomy

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

Boosting renewables and cutting energy costs — RenewEconomy

The Andrews Labor Government has announced $1.1 million worth of grants to support renewable energy projects in local communities across Victoria. The post Boosting renewables and cutting energy costs appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Boosting renewables and cutting energy costs — RenewEconomy

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

An elephant whiter than Hinkley looms on the horizon — daryanenergyblog

Much has been said over the last few years about the Hinkley C project, very little of it positive. It was ill-conceived from the start, the CfD system used to fund it isn’t going to work and by all accounts its likely to become the whitest of white elephants. However, there is another nuclear energy project […]

via An elephant whiter than Hinkley looms on the horizon — daryanenergyblog

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

As Americans Wake up to Climate Threat, Deniers Dig In — Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Above, climate deniers as always with their finger on the pulse of reality, have decided to double down on coal burning. Denialist clown and tobacco shill Steven Milloy is leading a “Burn more Coal” campaign, as America wakes up to the depths of the climate catastrophe. On the other hand, when we run out of […]

via As Americans Wake up to Climate Threat, Deniers Dig In — Climate Denial Crock of the Week

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

Grid connection biggest concern for wind, solar, and storage projects — RenewEconomy

Concern about pace and cost of grid connections, and lack of clarity about the rules for connection, cited as biggest concern for wind and solar industry. The post Grid connection biggest concern for wind, solar, and storage projects appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Grid connection biggest concern for wind, solar, and storage projects — RenewEconomy

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

10 million and more reasons to be cheerful: RenewEconomy page views surge in 2018 — RenewEconomy

Huge interest in clean energy transition – and technologies and policies that go with it – helped deliver more than 10m page views to RenewEconomy this year. The post 10 million and more reasons to be cheerful: RenewEconomy page views surge in 2018 appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via 10 million and more reasons to be cheerful: RenewEconomy page views surge in 2018 — RenewEconomy

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