Australian news, and some related international items

Victoria’s major bushfires still out of control

Victoria bushfires: Major blazes still out of control as residents may be allowed to return home

By 9News Staff, 6:03am Mar 5, 2019  Five of the 29 bushfires burning in Victoria this morning are still out of control this morning stretching across 59,000 hectares of land.

A cooler weather change that is moving over the state has seen yesterday’s ‘Emergency’ warning zones downgraded to a ‘Watch and Act’ level, however authorities have warned that four major fires are still out of control.

Those incidents include the largest blaze still raging in Victoria at the Bunyip State Park which is still sparking spot fires in multiple areas…….

March 4, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria | Leave a comment

South Australia Labor politicians to visit Port Augusta on 14 March

Kazzi Jai Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 5 Mar 19 

South Australia’s Labor politicians  Peter Malinauskas, (Leader of the Opposition)  and Justin Hanson  are coming to Port Augusta to (in their words) “listen and hear your thoughts on what is important to you and your community”. Only a half hour visit – but plenty of time to make our voices be heard!

Thursday 14th March 1pm – 1.30pm…..Gladstone Square

March 4, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Russia officially halts Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)

Russia officially suspends INF Treaty with US,

Vladimir Putin signs decree suspending Russia’s obligations under key nuclear arms pact with US.   Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree suspending Moscow’s participation in a key Cold War-era nuclear arms control treaty, following a similar move by the United States.

In a statement on Monday, the Kremlin said the suspension would last until the US “ends its violations of the treaty or until it terminates”.

In February, Washington gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which was established as a major safeguard against nuclear war.

The move by US President Donald Trump set the stage for the bilateral pact’s termination in six months.

Washington accuses Moscow of developing and deploying a cruise missile that violates provisions of the treaty that ban the production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles that have a range between 500km and 5,500km.

US officials have also expressed concerns that China, which is not party to the pact, was gaining a significant military advantage in Asia by deploying large numbers of missiles with ranges beyond the treaty’s limit.

Russia has denied any breaches, instead, charging that it was the US that had flouted the pact by deploying missile defence facilities in Eastern Europe that could fire cruise missiles instead of interceptors.

Washington rejects the claim.

The collapse of the treaty has stoked fears of a replay of a Cold War-era European missile crisis during the 1980s, when the US and the Soviet Union both deployed intermediate-range missiles on the continent.

Putin has previously said Russia would seek to develop medium-range missiles, but would not deploy them in the European part of the country or elsewhere unless the US does so.

NATO has supported the US’s decision to withdraw from the pact, but many European leaders have voiced fears over the consequences of its demise.

China has also urged Russia and the US to preserve the treaty.

March 4, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Long delayed realisation of Australia’s brutal history of massacres of Aboriginal people

As the toll of Australia’s frontier brutality keeps climbing, truth telling is long overdue,  The myth of benign, peaceful settlement persists today – even as historians reveal a far more sinister picture

 The Killing Times: the massacres of Aboriginal people Australia must confront
 A massacre map of the frontier wars – interactive

Guardian by Paul Daley, 4 Mar 19 

“…………  The Australian Museum estimates that pre-European invasion in 1788, about 750,000 Indigenous people (representing some 700 language groups) inhabited the continent that would become Australia. This figure may well be an underestimate.

Little over a century later, by federation in 1901, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island population had diminished to some 117,000. Black-white warfare and organised massacres, no matter how you define them, with police, British soldiers, native police, militia and raiding parties as the perpetrators, accounted for many tens of thousands of deaths. Individual acts of violence – including shootings, poisonings, torture and illegal incarceration – killed many more. Battle wounds, starvation (owing to the depletion of traditional hunting grounds) and disease – all of which can also be directly linked to invasion and frontier conflict – killed countless others.

Yet the historiographic confect of benign, peaceful settlement and the unexplained “passing” or “extinction” of the “natives” pervaded well into the 1960s, replete with the deception that very few Aboriginal people died violently during pastoral and urban expansion and dispossession. Things began to change with the emergence of a new, more inquisitive, less empire-centric cohort of historians and writers who, not content with the Anglophile colonial trope of terra nullius and benevolence to the Indigenes, began to commit truth to the page………..

In the 1970s and 1980s a number of historians – among them Henry Reynolds, Marilyn Lake and Richard Broome – began focusing on frontier violence, using the colonial records, newspaper archives and family histories (including generational oral accounts of killings).

Reynolds is acknowledged as the first Australian historian to make a calculated continental estimate of the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who died violently in Australian frontier conflict. In his 1981 book, The Other Side of the Frontier, and after at least a decade’s research Reynolds estimated the figure at about 20,000……….

Reynolds speaks of the significance of Evans and Ørsted-Jensen’s research on the numbers of killings in colonial Queensland.

Based on an extrapolation of native police documentation, they estimated (conservatively) that as many as 60,000 Aboriginal people died in frontier violence in Queensland alone.

The national implications of the figure are profound; the wars that raged across this continent from 1788 did, it seem, claim more Indigenous lives than 62,000 Australian service personnel who died in the first world war…………

March 4, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

The unimaginable toxicity of Fukushima reactor’s molten nuclear debris – robots the only hope for cleanup

For Fukushima’s nuclear disaster, robots may be the only hopeThe 2011 meltdown in Japan is still too hot for humans to handle. Send in the machines. CNet BY ROGER CHENGMARCH 4, 2019  ………. I’m inside the cavernous top of the Unit 3 reactor in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Yes, that Fukushima Daiichi, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

Unit 3 was one of three reactors crippled on March 11, 2011, after a 9.0 earthquake struck 80 miles off the coast of Japan. (Units 4, 5 and 6 at Daiichi weren’t operating at the time.) The temblor shook so violently it shifted the Earth’s axis by nearly 4 inches and moved the coast of Japan by 8 feet. Eleven reactors at four nuclear power plants throughout the region were operating at the time. All shut down automatically. All reported no significant damage.

An hour later, the tsunami reached shore.

Two 50-foot-high waves barreled straight at Fukushima Daiichi, washing over coastal seawalls and disabling the diesel generators powering the plant’s seawater cooling systems. Temperatures inside the reactors skyrocketed to as high as 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fuel rods became molten puddles of uranium that chewed through the floors below, leaving a radioactive cocktail of fuel rods, concrete, steel and melted debris. Molten fuel ultimately sank into the three reactors’ primary containment vessels, designed to catch and secure contaminated material.

Next Monday marks the eighth anniversary of the earthquake. Since then, Japanese energy giant Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, has cleared enough of the rubble on the top floor of the Unit 3 building to allow for my 10-minute visit.

I gaze up at the massive barrel vault ceiling, trying to get a handle on the sheer scale of everything. Radiation levels are too high for me to linger. My quickening pace and breath are betrayed by rapid flapping noises coming from the purple filters on both sides of my respirator mask.

At the far end of the room, there’s an enormous orange platform known as a fuel-handling machine. It has four giant metal legs that taper down, giving the structure a sort of animalistic look. Thin steel cables suspend a chrome robot in the center of the frame. The robot, largely obscured by a pink plastic wrapper, is equipped with so-called manipulators that can cut rubble and grab fuel rods. The robot will eventually pull radioactive wreckage out of a 39-foot-deep pool in the center of the room.

It’s just one of the many robots Tepco is using to clean up the power plant. It’s why I came to Japan this past November — to see how robots are working in one of the most extreme situations imaginable.

The Japanese government estimates it will cost $75.7 billion and take 40 years to fully decommission and tear down the facility. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency even built a research center nearby to mock up conditions inside the power plant, allowing experts from around the country to try out new robot designs for clearing away the wreckage.

The hope is that the research facility — along with a drone-testing field an hour away — can clean up Daiichi and revitalize Fukushima Prefecture, once known for everything from seafood to sake. The effort will take so long that Tepco and government organizations are grooming the next generation of robotics experts to finish the job.  …….

Two years ago, Tepco erected a dome over the Unit 3 reactor and fuel pool so that engineers could bring in heavy equipment and now, us.

Roughly 60 feet below me, radiation is being emitted at 1 sievert per hour. A single dose at that level is enough to cause radiation sickness such as nausea, vomiting and hemorrhaging. One dose of 5 sieverts an hour would kill about half of those exposed to it within a month, while exposure to 10 sieverts in an hour would be fatal within weeks.

Unit 3 is the least contaminated of the three destroyed reactors.

Radiation in Unit 1 has been measured at 4.1 to 9.7 sieverts per hour. And two years ago, a reading taken at the deepest level of Unit 2 was an “unimaginable” 530 sieverts, according to The Guardian. Readings elsewhere in Unit 2 are typically closer to 70 sieverts an hour, still making it the hottest of Daiichi’s hotspots.

The reactors’ hostile environments brought most of the early robots to their figurative knees: High gamma radiation levels scrambled the electrons within the semiconductors serving as the robots’ brains — ruling out machines that are too sophisticated. Autonomous robots would either shut down or get snared by misshapen obstacles in unexpected places.

The robots also had to be nimble enough to avoid disturbing the volatile melted fuel rods, essentially playing the world’s deadliest game of “Operation.” At least initially, they weren’t.    “Fukushima was a humbling moment,” says Rian Whitton, an analyst at ABI Research. “It showed the limits of robot technologies.”…………..

March 4, 2019 Posted by | General News | 2 Comments

How to face what is happening – environmental collapse

Rethink Activism in the Face of Catastrophic Biological Collapse,  Dahr Jamail and Barbara Cecil, Truthout,   

PART OF THE TRUTHOUT SERIES   How Then Shall We Live?  4 Mar 19, 

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
― Wendell Berry

This is a hard piece to write, partly because we, too, are baffled. Environmental collapse, coupled with living in the sixth mass extinction, are new territory. We are still in the process of confronting the reality of living with the prospect of an unlivable planet. These thoughts emerge out of our sober forays into an uncertain future, searching for the right ways to live and serve in the present. The second reason for our reluctance to share this contemplation is anticipation of the grief, anger and fear it may trigger. We visit these chambers of the heart frequently, and know the challenges of deep feeling, particularly in a culture that denies feelings and pathologizes death.  
As the unthinkable settles in our skin, the question of what to do follows closely. What is activism in the context of collapse? Professor of sustainability leadership and founder of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria (UK) Jem Bendell’sdefinition of collapse is useful: “the uneven ending of our current means of sustenance, shelter, security … and identity.” Bendell isn’t the first to warn of collapse — NASA warned of it five years ago. Anyone who takes in the realities of our times will need to find their own relationship to the hard truths about converging environmental, financial, political and social unraveling. There are billions on the planet who are already experiencing the full direct effects of this right now. Forty percent of the human population of the planet is already affected by water scarcity. Humans have annihilated 60 percent of all animal life on the planet since 1970.
Described here, borrowing from Bendell’s analysis, are three responses to imminent collapse. The first is characterized by intensifying efforts to fix the mess we have created. The idea here is that if we just work harder, we can change the situation. The second is mitigation of inevitable suffering and loss, easing the pain and harm that is already underway. Mitigation slows the demise down, giving us the time for the third, which is adaptation to the life-threatening scenarios before us, or in Bendell’s words, “deep adaptation.”………..
Regardless of the plethora of geoengineering plans to draw down CO2 levels or reflect solar radiation back into space, the tough reality is that the effects of CO2 already present in the biosphere are irreversible, and intensifying rapidly. Barring unforeseen forces at work, a consensus of scientific research tells us that a minimum of three degrees Celsius (3°C) warming is already baked into the system under current global climate pledges………….

Anyone who thinks there is still time to wholly remedy the situation must answer the question: How do we remove all the heat that’s already been absorbed by the oceans? Invigorated activism, as heartening and important as it is, is not going to completely stem these tides.

Thus, the third level of activism, adaptation, comes into focus.

Adaptation is new territory. Here is the realm of healing, reparation (spiritual and psychological, among other ways) and collaboration. It is strangely rich with a new brand of fulfillment and unprecedented intimacy with the Earth and one another. It invites us to get to the roots of what went astray that has led us into the sixth mass extinction. Given that with even our own extinction a very real possibility, even if that worst-case scenario is to run its course, there is time left for amends, honorable completions, and the chance to reconnect in to this Earth with the utmost respect, and in the gentlest of ways…………

March 4, 2019 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Trump administration still keenly pursuing sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia

Team Trump Keeps Pushing Deal to Send Nuclear Tech to Saudis

Congress raised ‘grave concerns’ about the Trump administration’s past attempts to send nuclear technology to the Saudis. But Team Trump isn’t done trying. The Daily Beast, Erin Banco, Betsy Woodruff 03.04.19   The Trump administration is still actively working to make a deal to send U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, according to two U.S. officials and two professional staffers at federal agencies with direct knowledge of those conversations. American energy businesses are still hoping to cash in on Riyadh’s push for energy diversification,

March 4, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Alinta, Snowy, Engie, EnergyAustralia fail to meet renewable energy target — RenewEconomy

Regulator confirms leading energy retailers did not bother to meet renewable energy target in 2018, and will make huge profits playing the market over the next three years. The post Alinta, Snowy, Engie, EnergyAustralia fail to meet renewable energy target appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Alinta, Snowy, Engie, EnergyAustralia fail to meet renewable energy target — RenewEconomy

March 4, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What will a Tesla Model 3 EV cost in Australia? Find out here — RenewEconomy

Wondering how much the Model 3 will cost for Australian buyers? This handy calculator might help. The post What will a Tesla Model 3 EV cost in Australia? Find out here appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via What will a Tesla Model 3 EV cost in Australia? Find out here — RenewEconomy

March 4, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March 4 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “We Must Keep In Mind The Costs Of The Green New Deal To Vulnerable Communities” • While the Green New Deal achieves net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, it will cost many workers in the fossil fuel industry their jobs. Specific solutions to this upheaval were given in a recent article in the Harvard Business […]

via March 4 Energy News — geoharvey

March 4, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Over 2000 firefighters working to contain bushfires around Victoria

Fires rip through Victoria: ‘worse than Black Saturday’,  A fire, which has destroyed properties and more than 10,000 hectares of land is burning in the same area as the deadly Black Saturday bushfires.    Bushfires have ripped through Victoria’s east, with a wind change challenging firefighters working all night to contain the blaze.  SBS News 4 Mar 19 

Despite cooler conditions expected on Monday, firefighters may have to contend with dry lightning, which could start more fires.

The Bunyip State Park fire, burning 65km east of Melbourne, was sparked by lightning strikes on Friday and has destroyed more than 10,000 hectares.

The blaze is still racing towards the Princes Freeway and emergency warnings remain in place for the surrounding area.

“The risk of lightning redevelops in the late morning with the chance of some showers and thunderstorms,” Bureau of Meteorology’s senior forecaster Christie Johnson said.

While there was a chance of showers, it was hard to pinpoint where they would hit, and there would only be a few millimetres of rainfall, she said…..

More than 2000 firefighters are working to contain blazes around the state …..

March 4, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria | Leave a comment

USA has no idea what to do with spent nuclear fuel

U.S. still has no place for spent nuclear fuel, so Maine Yankee’s owner gets millions

The award will help pay for the roughly $10 million per year to maintain the repository at the closed nuclear plant in Wiscasset. PressHerald,  BY TUX TURKEL STAFF WRITER 3 Mar 19, For the fourth time since 1998, a federal judge has awarded the owners of three closed nuclear power plants, including Maine Yankee, millions of dollars for the federal government’s failure to remove spent nuclear fuel.


March 4, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, lying about Australia’s greenhouse emissions

Angus Taylor again falsely claims Australia’s greenhouse emissions are falling, Guardian, Amy Remeikis

In an interview with the ABC program Insiders, Angus Taylor repeatedly stated emissions had decreased by 1% repeating the line first said by the prime minister, Scott Morrison, that Australia would meet its Paris commitments in “a canter”…….

March 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Rolls Royce selling vast bulk of its civil nuclear business

Times 3rd March 2019 Rolls-Royce is selling the vast bulk of its civil nuclear business, dealing a new blow to efforts to rebuild Britain’s atomic power industry. The FTSE 100 engineer has hired consultants from KPMG to find a buyer for the
nuclear division, which could fetch up to £200m.

The move marks the end of an era for the country’s premier engineering company, which has more than 50 years’ expertise in nuclear power but is being slimmed down by chief executive Warren East to focus on jet engines, power generators and defence. The nuclear business makes instruments and controls to monitor radiation and temperature and prevent reactors overheating. Its equipment is installed in more than 200 reactors around the world, and it has a big presence in France, where it works with the state-backed engineering firm Orano , [formerly Areva, which went bankrupt]

Rolls-Royce’s retreat from civil nuclear work reflects the industry’s broader problems. Plans for new power stations in Britain have been left in tatters after the Japanese industrial giants Toshiba and Hitachi withdrew, leaving just Hinkley Point in Somerset under way.

The Japanese exit has triggered an inquiry by the Commons business committee into future investment in energy infrastructure. The sale will not include Rolls-Royce’s work on Hinkley Point, which is ringfenced, the company’s
project to develop small reactors or its nuclear submarine reactor business.

Rolls-Royce has been in talks to install its equipment at a plant in Essex planned by China General Nuclear, to help assuage security concerns. This work is likely to be transferred to the new owner. Sources said the business, which has more than 1,000 staff, was likely to go to a trade buyer. A Chinese deal is unlikely.

March 4, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The colonial mindset that caused eternal pain — Beyond Nuclear International

Pacific peoples still suffer due to March 1, 1954 US ‘Bravo’ atomic blast

via The colonial mindset that caused eternal pain — Beyond Nuclear International

March 4, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment