Australian news, and some related international items

Dave Sweeney reflects on the achievements of Australia’s nuclear-free movement in 2018

 The days roll on and 2018 is about to be in the past tense.

As ever the year saw highs, lows and flatlines. It also saw sustained and successful resistance to the nuclear industry in Australia.

This note is a snapshot, not a definitive list, but I wanted to capture some of our collective efforts and achievements so in a quiet moment we can reflect and recharge – and know that we are making a real difference.

Thanks and solidarity to all – and best wishes for a good break and time with people and in places that freshen the spirit. I look forward to working with you all in season 2019.

Uranium: Less is being ripped and shipped

  • Kakadu: the clean-up of the Ranger site is underway – Mirarr native title of the region was formally recognised – Rio Tinto have accepted their responsibility to clean up – there was a calendar and a series of events around the country to mark twenty years since the Jabiluka blockade
  • uranium remains stalled and actively contested in WA: 2018 saw a decade since then Premier Barnett announced a fast tracked uranium sector that would be “iron ore on steroids” – there are no mines but there is a major legal challenge to the Yeelirrie project, procedural challenge to Mulga Rock and community resistance to the four proposed projects with actions at AgMs, project critiques, Walkatjurra Walkabout and more
  • Qld Labor reaffirmed its opposition to uranium mining at its state conference

Radioactive waste: Under pressure and delayed

 the federal plan for a national waste facility in regional SA is highly contested, behind schedule and increasingly uncertain

  • the issue was pushed ahead of the state election and SA Labor has subsequently adopted a good policy position
  • there is growing civil society awareness and engagement with the issue – especially through our trade union partners
  • the Barngarla people were formally awarded native title over the Kimba sites in June and have taken legal action over deficiencies in the Feds consultation processes
  • Adnyamathanha resistance to the proposed Flinders Ranges site is strong and they have lodged a complaint on the plan with the Australian Human Rights Commission
  • community resistance at both sites is sustained and strong with high levels of engagement and regular actions, events and media profile
  • Federal Labor policy has a long way to go but at its national conference in December Labor moved from a policy position dominated by sites and place to one of standards and process
  • Standing Strong – the story of the successful community fight against the earlier plan for an international radioactive waste dump in SA was launched and learned from
  • there was early and strong opposition to chatter around other potential radioactive waste sites – especially at Brewarrina (NSW) and Leonora (WA)


Nuclear weapons: the cold war is reheating and support for a weapons ban grows

 ICAN – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – has continued to build on its 2017 Nobel Peace Prize profile

  • there was sustained outreach and awareness initiatives, including a bike ride from Melbourne to Canberra
  • there is growing international support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons with more nations signing and ratifying the ban
  • federal Labor committed to sign and ratify the ban treaty at its national conference in Adelaide in December – a major step forward
  • the Peace Boat visited Australian waters and cities in January/February and the Black Mist, Burnt Country Maralinga exhibition continued touring

Broader nuclear free efforts

 ANFA – the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance – had a good gathering in the Adelaide Hills in October and there was clear recognition of the role of First Nation people in the atomic resistance with awards to crew in WA, Aunty Sue in SA and Jeffrey Lee gaining the German based Nuclear Free Future award in the global Resistance category

  • anniversaries were marked with actions, events and reflection – including Fukushima, Chernobyl, Hiroshima and Maralinga
  • people engaged in state and federal processes including Senate Estimates, Senate Inquiries into radioactive waste siting and mine rehabilitation, ARPANSA Codes of Practice and more
  • folks engaged with ALP state and federal conferences, the ACTU Congress, many union forums, SoS, the Sustainable Living Festival and more
  • we remained connected and updated via the efforts of Christina Macpherson, Maelor at ACF, Jim Green at WISE, KA at CCWA and Walkatjurra, WGAR news, 3CR’s Radioactive Show, Understory and more

Looking ahead to 2019 – Another big year ahead folks – and one where we consolidate, defend and grow


  • Challenges include:
  • the forever struggle of resourcing and capacity
  • pro-nuke voices pushing small modular reactors (SMRs) and seeking to overturn the ban on domestic nuclear power
  • Mineral Council of Australia and others seeking the removal of uranium mining as a ‘trigger’ action in the federal EPBC Act

  • We need to:
  • better braid the uranium story and struggle into the wider dirty energy-fracking- fossil fuel narrative
  • keep Rio Tinto and the regulators focussed and genuine re the best possible rehab outcomes at Ranger and keep the door shut to the uranium sector in WA
  • support affected communities facing radioactive waste dump plans and push federal Labor to adopt a different approach
  • pressure and support federal Labor to follow through on its commitment to sign and ratify the nuclear weapons ban
  • make Australian uranium companies operating overseas – often in jurisdictions with low governance – accountable for their impacts

December 30, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, opposition to nuclear, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Climate danger: take heart and fight on

30 December 2018  Sydney took the full blast of summer during the week. Some of us might have wondered: is this the turning point? The season when the summer outstays its welcome, drier and hotter with every year? And whatever happened to those cute Christmas beetles? Meanwhile, 2018 ends with the world mired as it has been for more than a decade in the politics of alleviating global warming. At the climate summit in Katowice, Poland, renowned British naturalist David Attenborough warned: “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” But the summit produced another frustrating outcome, as did its forebears, Paris, Copenhagen, Kyoto and Rio.

Listening to those who govern us,  it sometimes seems as if despair is the only logical response.  We have a Prime Minister who, as treasurer, gleefully wielded a lump of coal in Parliament, saying it was nothing to be afraid of. Scott Morrison has made restraining power costs, not fixing emissions, the focus of his bid for re-election in May. He says Australia is meeting its Paris pledge of a 26 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, based on 2005 levels, “in a canter”, but experts say this target is no longer enough to help the planet stave off dangerous warming.

But despair, so damaging to mental health, is not the answer. When despair leads to apathy, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can’t escape climate change entirely but any action that leads to a better future is worth taking.

The antidote is action and activism. Criticism, led by the Prime Minister, of the school students’ protest against climate inaction in November was misguided.

Today’s young people face a full 21st century of  dangerous rising temperatures. As one parent pointed out in a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald: “Our daughter,  aged 15, participated in the rally with our consent as we believe she deserves to have a voice on important issues that affect her future. We support and encourage our children to take an interest in the world around them so that they might become engaged citizens willing to make a difference to the communities in which they work and live.”

Young or old, we are not waiting for directions from the political class. This is perhaps wise when the Coalition is torn over by climate policy, Labor is fudging its attitude to the Adani coal mine project in north Queensland, and the Greens are eating themselves alive.

Look instead to the one-fifth of Australian homes that now have solar panels. As The Sydney Morning Herald reported this month, surging power bills and the falling price of solar panels have pushed the number of households with photovoltaics on their roofs past the 2 million mark. We now think nothing of cutting water use and reusing shopping bags.

Lower levels of government are taking encouraging action. Energy Minister Don Harwin committed the NSW government to getting to zero emissions by 2050.  The City of Sydney draft renewable energy master plan foresees having all the council area’s electricity, heating and cooling supplied from renewable sources by 2030.

Australia is still being powered by that planet-killer coal. We are, as Environment Minister Melissa Price reminds us, responsible for just 1.3 per cent of global emissions, so we won’t change the world on our own. But few nations have as good a chance as us to strike out on a fresh path in 2019. We have the sunlight, land and skilled population to make this happen, with the right will.

Decarbonising the economy has benefits beyond reducing emissions. Coal mining is destructive to the land and water, and the jobs it provides can cause ill-health. The renewable industry can create new 21st-century jobs and become an export industry.

Action trumps despair. As the classic advertising slogan says: we’re worth it.

December 30, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scientists refute the nuclear lobby’s paper “Burden of Proof”


Christina’s note: “Burden of Proof”comes from a very small, but very vocal, Australian pro nuclear shill.


Response to ‘Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems’ Science Direct Volume 92, September 2018, Pages 834-847 lT.W.BrownabT.Bischof-NiemzcK.BlokdC.BreyereH.LundfB.V.Mathieseng 847 lT.W.BrownabT.Bischof-NiemzcK.BlokdC.BreyereH.LundfB.V.Mathieseng  

December 30, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

ANSTO’s worrying history of covering up releases of radioactive gases from Lucas heights nuclear reactor

New nuclear reactor spark cover up claims, PUBLIC not told about potentially dangerous gases spread over hundreds of kilometres for fear of causing alarm. By Linda Silmalis, The Sunday Telegraph, AUGUST 29, 2010 POTENTIALLY dangerous radioactive gases have been secretly pumped into the atmosphere from Lucas Heights and have spread hundreds of kilometres from the nuclear reactor – but the public have never been told.

The release of the highly volatile radioxenon over several months last year was so concentrated that the plumes were detected in Melbourne up to two days later.

Other plumes were dragged out to sea by winds before drifting back over Sydney.

The Sunday Telegraph understands the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) decided against releasing a public statement at the time to avoid causing alarm.

Scientists at a nuclear testing station in Melbourne traced the source of the radioactive gases to Sydney after they picked up 10 specific events between November, 2008 and February last year.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation International Monitoring System site in Melbourne contacted Lucas Heights after detecting the radioxenon isotope Xe-133.

They were told that 36 hours earlier the first “hot commissioning trials” at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights radioisotope facility for Molybdenum-99 had taken place.

Molybdenum-99 is produced by the fission technique – the intense neutron-bombardment of a highly purified uranium-235 – and is used in nuclear medicine.

While the nuclear reactor – and the government body that oversees it – insists the release of the radioxenon by-product were no threat to public safety, no one, including neighbours of the suburban Sydney plant, were informed.

“Xenon gases are highly volatile and, being inert, they are not susceptible to wet or dry atmospheric removal mechanisms,” a scientific report obtained by The Sunday Telegraph says.

“Consequently, once released to the atmosphere they are simply transported down-wind while radioactively decaying away.”

Significant amounts of the main gas detected – Xenon-133 – can be released during a nuclear reaction or a nuclear explosion.

While it is used in medical procedures, specialists are urged not to administer it to pregnant women and children.

Side effects of its use in medical procedures can include allergic reactions such as itching or hives, swelling of the face or hands, swelling or tingling in the mouth or throat, chest tightness, and trouble breathing.

The report into the release from Lucas Heights says the doses were “well below the annual limit for public exposure”.

Officials from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency said it was notified at the time and that the emissions were within public safety guidelines.

In 2006, ANSTO was forced to allay public fears after a leaked memo revealed xenon and krypton were released into the atmosphere following the rupture of a pipe.


December 30, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Poisoned water and deadly dust — Beyond Nuclear International

Cleanup and health studies needed in uranium disaster community

via Poisoned water and deadly dust — Beyond Nuclear International

December 30, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“We do not accept anything that harms our mother Earth” — Beyond Nuclear International

Brazil gas plant and pipelines stopped by community action but nuclear disaster remains a threat

via “We do not accept anything that harms our mother Earth” — Beyond Nuclear International

December 30, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

North Korea’s Kim Yong Un wants more nuclear summits with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in

Kim Wants More Summits With Moon to Tackle Nuclear Issue ,Bloomberg, By Sam Kim and Youkyung Lee. December 30, 2018,

Kim intent on resolving nuclear impasse, Blue House says  North Korean leader sent personal letter to South Korea’s Moon

Kim Jong Un is intent on resolving the nuclear impasse that has stalled negotiations with the U.S. and wants to hold more meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Moon’s office said.

The North Korean leader sent Moon a personal letter of well wishes on Sunday, expressing a willingness to meet often in 2019 to advance peace talks and achieve “denuclearization on the Korean peninsula,” Moon spokesman Kim Eui-keum said. Moon thanked him for the letter, tweeting that the North Korean leader “again made clear” that he would act on his agreement with the U.S. and South Korea.

The missive came amid increased skepticism over Kim’s willingness to dismantle his arsenal of nuclear weapons, months after a historic summit with President Donald Trump in which the two leaders agreed to work toward denuclearization. Kim’s letter made no mention of Trump or the U.S.

…….Earlier this month, North Korea told the U.S. that sanctions and pressure won’t work to force Pyongyang into action on its nuclear program. North Korean state media said the removal of the U.S.’s nuclear weapons from the region was a condition of its own disarmament, raising the stakes for Trump’s efforts to hold a second summit with Kim………

December 30, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

What’s the radioactivity level of Lynas’ refinery thorium wastes?,  Citizens’ Health Initiative.  Chan Chee Khoon, 29 Dec 2018,      Lynas has repeatedly stated that the specific (radio)activity of their water leach purification (WLP) residues is low (but still above Malaysia’s regulatory limit of 1 becquerel per gm of material [the becquerel (Bq) is a measure of radioactivity, equal to the number of nuclear decays per second]:

“The WLP residue, although classified as radioactive material, has the same radioactivity level as the feedstock material (rare earth ore concentrates) used in the Lamp process (about 6 Bq/g of Th)”.

(More accurately, this should read 6Bq/g of WLP – pure Th232 has a specific activity of 4070 Bq/gm of thorium, so 1655ppm of Th232 in WLP residues would contribute 6.7 Bq/gm of WLP).

But saying that each gram of WLP contributes 6Bq of radioactivity amounts to saying that Th232 decays in a single step to a stable element which is not radioactive. Clearly, this is not the case as is evident from the decay chain for Th232 below: [on original]

In a stable equilibrium, the number of nuclear decays for each of the subsequent radioactive progenies in the Th232 decay series is equal to the number of nuclear decays of Th232.

Hence the specific activity of WLP would be 10x the Bq counts contributed solely by Th232 nuclear decays (followed by nine other nuclear decays in the decay chain of progenies in the figure above).

In line with this, p.38 of the Radiological Impact Assessment (Nuklear Malaysia, June 2010) stated that Lynas’ refinery would produce “32,000 tons per year of water leach purification residue (WLP) with radioactivity concentration of 61 Bq/g containing 1,655ppm (6.62 Bq/g) thorium-232 and 22.5ppm (0.28 Bq/g) of uranium-238”.

It is noteworthy that the RIA arrived at this estimate despite this qualification:

“All but one of the daughter products of thorium-232 is a solid. The one exception is radon-220, an isotope of radon, but commonly referred to as thoron [half-life 55 seconds]. There is a possibility of thoron being able to emanate from the concentrate, the residue or thorium bearing contaminated materials so that the entire radioactive series may not be in secular equilibrium. When in secular equilibrium the thorium-232 radioactive series has an activity ten times the activity of thorium-232”) (p.41)

Likewise, the Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment includes a table on page 5-55 which states that the WLP contains 1655ppm of Thorium Oxide and 22.5ppm of Uranium Oxide, for a total specific (radio)activity of 62.0 Bq/g of WLP, i.e. 10 times the specific activity announced.

Lynas should explain why it is taking the boundary case (equivalent to a one-step decay of Th232 to a non-radioactive progeny), rather than in a decay chain including nine other radioactive progenies, occurring in a low-permeability clayey mass of WLP residues, which would retain much of the short-lived Thoron 220 and its decay progenies, and thus approximate a closed system tending towards secular equilibrium.

December 30, 2018 Posted by | rare earths | Leave a comment

Climate change: six positive news stories you probably missed this year.

The Conversation 28th Dec 2018 Renewable energy is being set up faster than ever; Chernobyl fights against
climate change; A new mobilising force for climate action; Global economic
growth may have peaked; Glimmer of hope in emissions reduction; Local
community energy is doing well.

December 30, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear power will exacerbate climate change, not solve it

Fairwinds 29th Dec 2018 Relicensing old nuclear power plants and building new nukes will not
resolve any climate change issues. View our well-researched film,
Smokescreen, created with data from university analyses and independent
international economic reports. Also, check out Arnie’s speech at McGill
University where he discusses how building new nuclear power plants will
actually exacerbate climate change as well as his Truthout article

December 30, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Regulators File Complaint Against Holtec about its nuclear waste casks

Regulators File Complaint Against Maker Of Nuclear Fuel Cask  • DEC 29, 2018 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has filed a complaint against the manufacturer of casks used at the closed Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan tells the Brattleboro Reformer that Holtec International adopted a new design for its steel and concrete casks without a written evaluation, violating federal safety regulations. Officials say the company made changes after it discovered a loose bolt at San Onofre nuclear power plant in California.

Holtec said Friday that the NRC has confirmed the safety of the canisters. It says it doesn’t agree with the severity level of the apparent violation.

The casks are used at other nuclear plants to store spent fuel.

Last month, regulators approved the sale of Vermont Yankee to NorthStar. The company plans to start decommissioning the plant no later than 2021.

December 30, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The biggest porky pies: How fake news has shaped our history

Read more at the By Julia Baird host of The Drum on ABCTV & a journalist and author  29 December 2018 

“We can fact check lies – but who will tell the stories of those who have been ignored, stereotypes and scrubbed out of history? First Nations people have been fed fake news and lies about their history and their present for centuries. As have we all. And the impact of this endures.

Myths like: there is only one Aboriginal culture, voice, or viewpoint.. That Aboriginal people are inherently violent, lazy, drunk. That the impact of colonisation has long passed. That the first inhabitants of this land were simply hunter-gatherers. That Australia was just a wilderness before Europeans arrived.

The truth is starkly different. In his brilliant book Dark EmuIndigenous historian Bruce Pascoe documented how Aboriginal peoples lived here for millennia before Cook arrived, establishing a sophisticated, cultivated form of land management, carefully tended irrigation and extensive farming and fish-trapping practices – with villages with wells, dams, permanent buildings made of clay-coated wood and elaborate cemeteries – operating as a cluster of distinct but connected democracies. A land carefully tilled, a land built upon, a land that sustained an economy, a land that was theirs. … ”

Read much much much more at the Source:

Review of ‘DarkEmu by BrucePascoe’
‘Required re-education readings’ BookReview by BenCourtice!msg/wgar-news/WH0DXuU9ntk/8XeB5QOuAAAJ;context-place=forum/wgar-news

December 30, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Spain’s chain of 97 top grand hotels goes solar

Observer 30th Dec 2018 Spain’s state-owned chain of paradores, the grand hotels often housed in ancient castles and monasteries, has announced that all 97 of its establishments will use only electricity from renewable sources from the start of the new year.

The 90-year-old chain said the decision to switch to green electricity had been made for both environmental and symbolic
reasons. “Paradores is a company that supports sustainable tourism in every sense of the word,” said its chair, Óscar López Águeda. “What’s more, as a public company, we also want to set an example when it comes to investments that encourage energy saving and responsible  consumption.”

December 30, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

December 30 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “More Republicans Than You Think Support Action on Climate Change” • New polls suggest that Republicans’ views on global warming may be at a tipping point. While the media have been focusing on splits between Democrats and Republicans, the more important gap may now be between Republican voters and the leaders they elected. […]

via December 30 Energy News — geoharvey

December 30, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment