Australian news, and some related international items

15 January – climate and nuclear news in Australia this week

I scratch around for good news on climate. Alex Smith, of Radio Ecoshock, notes that ‘several long-time climate bloggers and Facebook activists are “retiring” to their private lives.’ He quotes one: “I’m no longer interested in awakening the masses. The masses made it clear that they are not interested.”

The grand old man of coastal science Dr. Orrin Pilkey warns: start withdrawing from the coast-line now, or wait for the coming panic. As Australia’s government promotes coal mining and coal power, and avoids any action on climate change, every State and Territory in Australia is being  hit with record heat.  Decentralising the energy supply system – renewables are creating a new world order.

On the nuclear scene, the New Nuclear Arms Race remains the biggest threat in 2019. Meanwhile, as the nuclear industry fails economically, the mainstream media continues to pour out articles about “new nukes” – Small and Medium Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)Molten salt reactors. – articles that read like straight handouts from the nuclear lobby.


Australia’s environment – a winner at National Labor Party Conference.

Australian Julian Assange in new danger as Ecuador caves in to USA pressure (and Australian govt does nothing)

NUCLEAR – UK “reviewing” files on nuclear bomb tests in Australia– this smacks of a cover-up. –Proposed nuclear waste dump in Flinders Ranges – an urgent issue for South Australians, and all Australians.   From uranium mining to nature conservation – Kakadu National Park to get $216 million boost.


Air conditioners make a massive contribution to global warming (Why not promote SOLAR air-conditioning?)

Bushfire in Adelaide Hills is still a threat.  Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road at risk from sea level rise.  Adani Contractor Locked Up and Blockaded.


The problem of hazardous waste from discarded old solar panels.  Australia’s “largest” wind farm wins planning approval for Victoria.

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Matt Canavan’s ‘urgent’ new nuclear waste dump: The devil is in the detail

January 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Australia’s energy trends: we could be 100% renewable sooner than you think

Australia could hit 100% renewables sooner than most people think, Guardian, 

Not since the invention of the steam engine have we seen the pace of change occurring in energy systems around the world. In Australia our electricity system is changing rapidly, from new technologies and business models to changes in policy and perhaps even regulation. As the year begins, here are five energy trends you should expect to see in 2019.

1. More action towards 100% renewable energy

Last year was a boom year for renewables. Despite rhetoric from some political quarters talking up coal and talking down renewable energy, we installed more solar panels and wind turbines than ever before. There are at least 40 large-scale wind and solar projects in construction in Australia, totalling over 6000MWs of new generation capacity. This means renewables will continue on a steep growth curve as analysis by the Melbourne University Climate and Energy College shows.

This rapid growth in renewables and soon battery storage is at least in part driven by a corresponding reduction in cost. Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis reveals a compound annual reduction in cost of battery storage of 21% over eight years. Facts such as these are the engine driving us towards 100% renewables at a pace much faster than most pundits think.

At a political level California has just legislated a move to 100% renewables, while at home South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT are on track to be net 100% renewables in the next few years. With everyone from tech billionaires to school students demanding 100% renewables, pressure for a more rapid shift to renewables is likely to continue to build.

Many still think that 100% renewables can’t be done. In 2017 ANU, Energy Networks Australia and CSIRO joined the ranks of Australia’s leading institutions on energy that have now done their own plans to show Australia can reliably achieve 100% renewables. This takes the number of 100% renewables plans for Australia to more than 10.

In the corporate sector, global initiative The RE100 has arrived in Australia. This initiative which encourages companies to commit to 100% renewables has seen global companies headquartered outside of Australia such as Carlton United Breweries and Ikea lead the way. In late 2018 Commonwealth Bank became the first Australian company to join, signing a large power purchase agreement in the process.

2. Solar for renters and other locked-out energy users……..For a long time these households have been in the too-hard basket for policymakers and industry alike. However, there are signs that in 2019 this could be changing. The Victorian and South Australian governments have announced policies to support 50,000 rental properties to access solar, and for South Australia, batteries also. In NSW the government is trialling a program of solar for 15,000 low-income energy rebate customers. These are small steps, but if scaled could start to change the current trend towards solar energy haves and have-nots.

3. Community energy going gangbusters

Communities are also taking matters into their own hands, developing innovative community-owned clean energy projects and implementing plans to move to 100% renewables. Despite a lack of interest from mainstream energy players and little policy support, Australia’s community energy sector has grown to more than 105 groups and 174 operating projects. Most famously the communities of Yackandandah and Daylesford……

4. A battle between good and bad hydrogen

Hydrogen fuel is not a new idea, yet in 2019 hydrogen is likely to make significant strides towards becoming a major part of our global energy ecosystem……..

5. Clean energy elections

No 2019 trend article is complete without mentioning the upcoming elections. According to researcher Rebecca Huntly climate change is a top issue with the electorate and as such both the NSW and federal elections are going to have a focus on climate and energy policy whether politicians like it or not…….

January 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Concerns in USA about Holtec managing nuclear wastes

After the Shutdown: Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station Oyster Creek is done producing nuclear energy. Now comes the hard part: cleaning up five decades of radioactive waste. New Jersey Monthly, By Ian T. Shearn | | January 14, 2019 


Shortly after the shutdown, plant employees began the process of cooling down the reactor and removing all nuclear fuel for storage in the plant’s used-fuel pool, a bath of highly purified, chemically balanced, fresh water. The 40-foot-deep pool—with reinforced concrete walls 2-feet thick—contains 2,430 fuel assemblies, more than half of the spent fuel that has accumulated over five decades.

Exelon estimated decommissioning would take 60 years. Its method, a process known as SAFSTOR, includes waiting for the radiation—both in the fuel pool and the reactor—to diminish naturally over decades, reducing the contamination risk for workers dismantling the facility. That plan changed dramatically last summer when Exelon reached an agreement to sell the plant to Holtec International, which has a technology campus in Camden, and proposes to complete the task in less than eight years by expediting the transfer of the spent fuel from the pool to dry storage casks before its radiation has appreciably decayed. Holtec and Exelon have asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an expedited approval of the sale by May 1,  prompting concern among environmentalists. 

“What’s the big hurry?” asks Janet Tauro, board chair of Clean Water Action NJ. “Holtec may be the best thing in the world, but we’re talking about 1.7 million pounds of nuclear waste.” Lacey Township, the Sierra Club and Concerned Citizens of Lacey have asked the NRC to hold a public hearing. Tauro and Clean Water Action New Jersey have asked the state attorney general for a review of the Exelon/Holtec deal.

“The NRC will try to complete a review of the application by May 1,” says NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.  “But we have made it clear to Exelon and Holtec that achieving that will be contingent upon us receiving the information we need.” That could include information about technical aspects of the decommissioning and adequacy of funding for the project.

Exelon and Holtec officials are nonetheless optimistic the deal will be approved on their timetable. Soon, the nuclear license and the 700-acre property would be transferred to Holtec—along with control of a nearly $1 billion decommissioning trust fund generated by utility ratepayers over decades. Holtec would assume all liability for the spent nuclear fuel—and any potential accidents.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, says he’s fine with the expedited decommissioning schedule. “It’s very doable and it’s been done many times throughout the country,” he notes. But he would like to see the storage site for the nuclear waste elevated and upgraded to withstand potential flooding or a terrorist attack. According to an AP report, the Sierra Club and several community groups also say the $1 billion fund is insufficient for cleanup and storage.

Tittel is “most concerned,” however, about the transfer of Oyster Creek’s ownership from Exelon, an industry behemoth with deep pockets, to Holtec, a relatively small limited-liability company, which will subcontract the work to an even smaller subsidiary. “If there is some kind of accident, there will be no one to hold accountable,” he says. …….

What’s in it for Holtec? The company would, in effect, hire itself and its subsidiary to clean up the site by drawing fees from the decommissioning fund. Holtec also would purchase its own storage casks for the cleanup…..

Holtec’s decommissioning plan “is like burying a body without an autopsy,” says Paul Gunter,  policy analyst and nuclear-reactor watchdog.

Gunter is also alarmed by Holtec’s partnership for the decommissioning work. SNC-Lavalin, Gunter says, currently faces federal corruption charges in Canada. Equally disturbing, he says, the company is “barred from doing any contractual work with the World Bank until 2023—again because of global corruption.”

SNC-Lavalin has had a legal cloud over its head since 2015 (the same year it began collaborating with Holtec) when allegations surfaced that former employees paid $150 million in bribes to officials in Libya to influence government policy and win contracts. ….. And in May, Canadian authorities filed charges against SNC-Lavalin after a multiyear probe related to illegal political contributions.

“Is this the company we want to be handling a $1 billion trust fund?” asks Gunter……..

The decommissioning project is not the only joint venture between Holtec and SNC-Lavalin. The two companies are also collaborating on the design and production of a small, nuclear and modular reactor, called SMR-160, at Holtec’s Technology Campus in Camden. The reactor is planned for operation by 2026.

Last February, Holtec signed an agreement in Camden that calls for the state-run nuclear operator in Ukraine to adopt the SMR-160 technology to meet its energy needs. Shortly after, Holtec announced that Ukraine may also become a manufacturing hub for SMR-160 components.

“Holtec is poised to….reinvigorate nuclear power,……” CEO Singh told World Nuclear News at the time.


January 15, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Disease – after-effects for uranium miners decades later

Uranium workers can face illnesses decades later. Many workers don’t know that help is available.Star Tribune, Heather Richards 307-266-0592,, Jan 14, 2019 

Four times a year, Angela Hays Carey visits Wyoming to find former uranium workers who could qualify for federal health benefits.

Every year, she finds some who didn’t know about federal compensation and health care support, or who never realized their illness was tied to exposure decades ago from their work in uranium mining, milling or transportation of ore……..

Hays Carey is the community outreach manager for Nuclear Care Partners, a group that assists former uranium and atomic workers with the red tape of federal benefits from the Energy Employee Occupational Illness Program Act and offers in-home care for former atomic workers who suffered serious illness from exposure.

Cold war mining

There are hundreds of Wyomingites who worked in uranium mining, milling and ore hauling prior to 1972, and as such, may qualify for one of the branches of coverage offered by the federal government. The benefits are tied to federal employment, but not directly. Most miners and atomic workers pre-1972 were essentially subcontractors for the federal government, she said.

The federal government has a number of compensation programs for former workers whose sickness today is tied to the Cold War arms race and the atomic bomb studies that fueled the uranium and atomic industries. A number of initiatives have attempted to secure compensation for uranium miners, millers and ore haulers following the 1972 cutoff.

There are nearly 30,000 former workers receiving benefits nationally, and more than 300 Wyomingites who have filed claims, Hays Carey said.

But every year there are more workers that Hays Carey runs into in Wyoming. She is based in Idaho, but travels to Wyoming for programs such as Wednesday’s luncheon in Casper.

Many of the workers she meets are aware of the benefits but have been denied.

That’s usually what I deal with when I come,” she said. “They didn’t file correctly; they didn’t turn in the right information. I love to look at those because it is easy to get the right information.”

Lying in wait

The health concerns tied to exposure to radiation and other toxins can be severe, but they can also lie dormant. People get older, they have health issues and they don’t always realize that the root cause could be from their past jobs, Hays Carey said.

Someone will come down with pneumonia and their lungs can’t properly fight it. That’s when the doctor may notice a more serious underlying issue……

Chronic lung issues, cancer and fibrosis are among the most common illness tied to historic uranium mining, inhaling uranium decay products or repeated exposure to gamma radiation.

There are a handful of states where the mining, milling and ore hauling workers mostly resided. Wyoming is one of those states, along with Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. To a lesser extent, mining was also happening in North Dakota and Idaho……..


January 15, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Japan faces huge costs as nuclear reactors are scrapped

Japan News 14th Jan 2019 The total cost for scrapping the nation’s nuclear power facilities —
excluding Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plants and other facilities under construction — is estimated to be about ¥6.72 trillion, according to a tally by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

The assessment only includes dismantlements of nuclear power facilities for which the cost can currently be estimated. Among these estimates, the cost for closing a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant now being built by Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL) in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, accounts for the largest amount at ¥1.6  trillion.

The cost for decommissioning 53 commercial nuclear reactors is estimated to total about ¥3.58 trillion, for an average at ¥57.7 billion per reactor. Of the 53 reactors, 19 reactors are scheduled or are likely to be scrapped.

January 15, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

UK’s “nuclear renaissance” now collapsing as Hitachi looks like dumping Moorside nuclear project

FT 13th Jan 2019 Nick Butler: Who could blame the board of the Japanese company Hitachi if
its members decide at their meeting this week to scrap plans for a new nuclear power station at Wylfa on the North Wales island of Anglesey?

Hitachi has invested more than £840m in the project over the past six years. The technology has passed all the tests set by the UK’s nuclear regulator. But the company has been unable to get the government to put in place the clear and credible financial structure necessary to underpin the investment.

That failure has already led other investors to abandon the new plant planned at Moorside in Cumbria. Talk of scrapping the Wylfa project could be a bargaining tactic on the part of Hitachi but the reality is probably much simpler. Hitachi’s doubts have been well signalled during the
past few months and the company’s purchase of ABB’s power grid business at the end of last year gives it a range of investment choices.

Given Whitehall’s chronic indecision, the company is ready to use its capital elsewhere. Hitachi’s withdrawal would mark the collapse of the energy policy adopted in 2013 by the UK’s coalition government. Facing what were believed to be ever-rising energy prices  the policy plumped for new nuclear, promising that 35 gigawatts of new capacity would be on stream by the mid 2030s – more than replacing the first generation of nuclear plants, which would by then have reached the end of their useful lives.

Because the price of gas seemed doomed to keep rising, new nuclear would come to look highly competitive over time as well as reducing dependence on imports. Since then much has changed, and the assumptions which underpinned the old policy now look laughably wrong.

The costs of all forms of energy (apart from nuclear) have fallen dramatically and there is no shortage of supply. Electricity demand is down thanks to efficiency gains and new technology.

The contract for the first new nuclear station being built at Hinkley Point in Somerset, which enjoys a guaranteed index-linked price for 35 years from the moment the plant is commissioned, looks exorbitant. The demise of Wylfa forces the need for a comprehensive review of energy policy.

Since the UK government is too busy preparing for Brexit to focus seriously on any other issue, the review should be conducted independently. Advances in energy technology offer more
possibilities each year. But those options will never be taken up unless the old outdated policy is scrapped and a more realistic approach put in place.

January 15, 2019 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Desalination pours more toxic brine into the ocean than previously thought

January 15, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Know your NEM: Looking forward, after looking back — RenewEconomy

The worm is starting to turn, as wind and solar power become widely acknowledged as the forthcoming mainstream suppliers of energy into the NEM. But can governments and regulators keep pace? The post Know your NEM: Looking forward, after looking back appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Know your NEM: Looking forward, after looking back — RenewEconomy

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Windscale/Sellefield Pt. 3 Research for a book length study — Nuclear Exhaust

Sources relating to the Black Report of 1984. 1. BBC on this day 23 July 1984 A government report into cancer levels near the controversial nuclear plant at Sellafield in Cumbria has confirmed suspicions of higher-than-normal levels of leukaemia in the area. However, it says, too little research has been done to definitely link […]

via Windscale/Sellefield Pt. 3 Research for a book length study — Nuclear Exhaust

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NSW waves through 900MW solar farm for construction in Riverina — RenewEconomy

Reach Solar’s 900MW Yarrabee Solar Farm, approved for construction in NSW Riverina, will have capacity to power a city nearly twice the size of Newcastle. The post NSW waves through 900MW solar farm for construction in Riverina appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via NSW waves through 900MW solar farm for construction in Riverina — RenewEconomy

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

National Electricity Market year in review: Wholesale electricity prices — RenewEconomy

First instalment of three-part series looking back at what the past year of energy policy turmoil has meant for the National Electricity Market (NEM). The post National Electricity Market year in review: Wholesale electricity prices appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via National Electricity Market year in review: Wholesale electricity prices — RenewEconomy

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

January 14 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “ScottishPower: the Journey to Renewables” • ScottishPower, one of the UK’s biggest utilities, announced it will switch to 100% renewable energy. The move is hailed as touchstone moment and a good example for any big utility seeking to shed its fossil fuel legacy, but does the move make economic sense, and if so […]

via January 14 Energy News — geoharvey

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment