Australian news, and some related international items

Anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown – 11 March

There’s not a lot in the mainstream media, about this important anniversary. But much of what there is – concerns the “recovery” of the area, the Olympic Games,  the robots, the ice wall, the (forced) return of evacuees, the story that tritium contamination doesn’t really matter, does it? ……    etc etc – whitewashing the real situation. And, perhaps more importantly, encouraging the world to forget about the nuclear catastrophe.  And above all, let’s pretend that it does not have global significance.

All sorts of experts, scientists etc propound ways to fix Fukushima’s nuclear problem, get rid of the molten nuclear fuel debris, and the nearly 2 million tons and counting, of radioactive water.

I could believe in their sincerity – IF all this  concern were not linked to the promotion of the global industry. Indeed, if their concern were linked to a plan to stop producing toxic radioactive trash.

The people of Fukushima need help from the world –   but not the kind of help that teaches them, and the global community, that everything is OK really, and the nuclear industry can charge ahead.

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Christina themes, General News | 2 Comments

Uranium tailings at Olympic Dam – radioactive for at least 10,000 years- must be SAFELY managed!

Initial Scoping – Olympic Dam Expansion Issues 22 Feb 2019 David Noonan B.Sc., M.Env.St., Independent Environment Campaigner“……….Radioactive Tailings Management

The 1982 Indenture places an onus on the SA Gov. to grant approvals on terms to facilitate mining.

Roxby Tailings Storage Facilities are to be covered and ‘disposed’ above-ground as final landforms.

Civil society must not accept continued downgrade of standards in Roxby uranium mine expansions.

A full comprehensive safety assessment to determine long term risks from radioactive tailings must be a core required part of this assessment AND apply the 1999 standards set at Ranger mine.

The most recent assessment of Radioactive Tailings Management at Roxby granted Federal and SA Gov. Approvals (Nov 2011) to vastly increase tailings production (from the now lapsed open pit mine proposal) prior to actually carrying out this type of safety study on the long term risks from tailings.

The 2011 Roxby Approvals downgraded the key 1999 standards applied to Ranger uranium mine.

Instead of Federal Gov. required final disposal of tailings (in to a pit) “in such a way to ensure that:

  1. i)The tailings are physically isolated from the environment for at least 10,000 years;
  2. ii) ii) Any contaminants arising from the tailings will not result in any detrimental environmental impact for at least 10,000 years;” Olympic Dam Condition 32 Mine Closure (Nov 2011) defers a Mine Closure Plan and only applies unstated environmental outcomes: “that will be achieved indefinitely post mine closure”, and:

“c. contain a comprehensive safety assessment to determine long term (from closure to in the order of 10,000) risk to the public and the environment from the Tailings Storage Facility and Rock Storage Facility.”

Requiring outcomes to “be achieved indefinitely” does recognise that tailings risks are perpetual.

However, rather than specific high standards of outcome set at Ranger for at least 10,000 years, this 2011 approval has unstated outcomes and only references 10,000 yrs as a period of modelling study.

 In April 2013 Condition 32 was amended to further defer the safety risk assessment, from “within two years of the date of the approval”, to: “prior to the construction of the Tailings Storage Facility”.

 A “No Uranium Recovery” alternative leaves all uranium & associated radioactive decay products in the tails. Roxby mine extracts approx. 2/3 of the uranium from the ore, with 1/3 left in the tailings.

In current mining practice, tailings retain some 90 per cent of the radioactivity in the ore (given the decay product radionuclides remain, thorium & radium ect). Deporting all uranium to the tails doesn’t affect the public interest requirement, in any case, to isolate tailings for over 10,000 years.

 Note: BHP “Tailings Facility Update” (19 Feb 2019) claims a review shows “no significant deficiencies” at Olympic Dam Tailings Storage Facilities and says: “BHP supports calls for greater transparency in tailings management disclosure”. The BHP “Dams and Tailings Management” page cites “establishment of independent Tailings Stewardship Boards to undertake reviews”, and says: “A trial of the stewardship program has been completed at our Olympic Dam asset in SA”.

March 9, 2019 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

The future of all life: Indigenous sovereignty and the Fukushima nuclear disaster,

 Bay View, National Black Newspaper,  by Harun Minhaj, March 4, 2019 In 2011, an unprecedented series of die-offs began to strike dead hundreds of millions of sea creatures in the northern Pacific Ocean. As one sailor who frequently travels the Pacific remarked in October of 2013:

“I’ve done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I’m used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3,000 nautical miles, there was nothing alive to be seen.”

What precipitated such a dramatic devastation of marine life in the Pacific Ocean?

Just a few months before the die-offs began, the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Complex in Japan caused the greatest pollution of the marine environment by radioactive contaminants in history. Far from over, these releases are still ongoing.

More than 400 tons of radioactive water have been flowing into the Pacific every day since the meltdowns began.

Although the full extent of the damage from Fukushima Daiichi has yet to be determined, the volume of these releases alone shows that we are dealing with something unprecedented in history.

Indigenous elders and scientific community sound the alarm

I was first alerted to the severity of the Fukushima disaster by Bay Area Indigenous Elder Zachary RunningWolf. A full-time activist and community leader in the Bay Area, RunningWolf has long campaigned for racial and environmental justice in a myriad of ways……..

For the last nine years, he has also led a four-day monthly stop driving boycott to combat global warming……

When RunningWolf ran for mayor of Berkeley in 2016, he made addressing Fukushima a central component of his campaign. For RunningWolf and many Indigenous elders concerned about the ongoing violence against Mother Earth, stopping the Fukushima nuclear crisis is of the highest priority.

Consider this call for action released in 2013 by a council of Indigenous elders called the Caretakers of Mother Earth:

“The People of the Earth understand that the Fukushima nuclear crisis continues to threaten the future of all life. We understand the full implications of this crisis even with the suppression of information and the filtering of truth by the corporate owned media and nation states. We strongly urge the media, corporations and nation states to acknowledge and convey the true facts that threaten us, so that the international community may work together to resolve this crisis, based on the foundation of truth” (emphasis added).

The deep concern expressed by RunningWolf and the Caretakers of Mother Earth about the impact of Fukushima’s radiation on the Pacific is shared by thousands of scientists. For instance, the platform adopted by the more than 5,000 scientists who make up the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry declared in 2014 that “the Fukushima nuclear accident on 11 March 2011 emerged as a global threat to marine biodiversity in the Pacific Ocean and human health in coastal communities.”

Other scientific organizations such as the Nordic Probabilistic Safety Assessment Group have gone even further. This institution – which is by no means “anti-nuclear” as it was founded by the nuclear utilities of Finland and Sweden – predicted in 2011 based on official estimates of radioactivity released into the Pacific that around 50-100 million fish would die from just one of the most deadly and prolific isotopes which had been released. ……….

Along with the unprecedented die-offs, a consistent set of symptoms frequently occurring together was observed across species:

Some of these symptoms (such as cancer, hair loss, and mutations) are well-known consequences of radiation sickness, while other more obscure ones such as high levels of parasites have been confirmed in studies of sea life to occur as a consequence of radiation. Altogether, only radiation sickness can produce such a widespread, prolonged epidemic exhibiting all these symptoms.

The genocidal impact of Fukushima radiation in the Pacific

It would be extremely foolish to assume this devastation in the Pacific Ocean will not profoundly impact human life. It is widely recognized that for numerous reasons our very survival depends on the health of the oceans, most notably because they produce the majority of the oxygen that we must breathe to live.

Native peoples, whose traditional livelihoods are often intimately bound up with the health of the ocean, are on the front line of this struggle. ……..

As aboriginal advocates have argued, the violence of nuclear contamination in desecrating their lands and culture must be recognized as a kind of cultural genocide. In this case, where the Pacific Ocean itself has been desecrated, Fukushima’s radiation must be recognized as constituting a genocidal assault on numerous Indigenous peoples’ cultures and livelihoods.

Furthermore, the radiation in Pacific seafood poses a significant health risk to the people who consume it. Estimates calculated by a wide variety of experts in nuclear power, chemistry and medicine show that this risk has been severely underestimated, and in fact more than 1 million people would die from cancer and other diseases if the consumption of radioactive Pacific seafood continues unabated.

In the Bay Area, Indigenous Blackfeet Elder RunningWolf has long been warning the public to avoid consuming Pacific seafood since even before the 2016 Berkeley mayoral race, while calling for the University of California – with its flagship campus located in Berkeley – to be held accountable for issuing no health warnings in turn.

As aboriginal advocates have argued, the violence of nuclear contamination in desecrating their lands and culture must be recognized as a kind of cultural genocide……………

March 9, 2019 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne sadly admit’s that there’s no chance of Australia developing a nuclear industry

Defence minister’s nuclear industry wish

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne wishes Australia established a nuclear energy industry in the 1950s, but he cannot see it happening in the future, Daniel McCulloch ,Australian Associated Press, MARCH 8, 2019 

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne believes it’s unrealistic to suggest Australia will ever establish a nuclear energy industry.

Mr Pyne cannot see the overwhelmingly negative community attitudes towards nuclear power shifting in the foreseeable future.

He made the assertion after fielding questions about why Australia’s new fleet of submarines, which are currently under construction, will be powered by diesel rather than nuclear energy.

The minister said Australia would have been the only country in the world with nuclear-powered submarines and no domestic industry to back them up.

“I wish we’d had a nuclear energy industry from the 1950s onward and then this wouldn’t even be an argument,” Mr Pyne told a Sky News defence summit on Friday.

“Bob Hawke said the same thing, but I think the horse has completely bolted.”

My Pyne described the debate around nuclear energy as a “parlour room” discussion.

“Which prime minister of any political persuasion is going to say, ‘I know what we’re going to do, we’re going to start a nuclear energy industry’?

“We have the most, in some respects, irrational debate occurring around the Adani mine but people think we’re going to have a new debate around nuclear energy? I mean, it’s just not real world.”

March 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

BHP wants the South Australian government to further weaken standards at Olympic Dam uranium mine

Initial Scoping – Olympic Dam Expansion Issues 22 Feb 2019 David Noonan B.Sc., M.Env.St., Independent Environment Campaigner “………   Mine Expansion Assessment – to drive down Standards?

BHP will shortly release a formal Application to the SA Gov., the SA State Planning Commission & Mines Minister will decide the level of assessment and reporting requirements, and the SA Gov. release “Guidelines” to the EIS. Public consultation & NGO input should occur on draft Guidelines.

 These Guidelines to the EIS are crucial to the credibility of the mine expansion assessment and this process is likely to be conducted before the Federal election and to be near binding thereafter.

There are a range of reasons for concern over this Roxby mine expansion project and assessment:

  • Public interest appraisal of this 2019 project needs to draw on analysis of BHP Roxby operations from 2005-06 and expansion proposals, process, decisions & conditions to 2013;
  • The outdated 1982 Indenture imposes extraordinary legal privileges and vested interests of the proponent, including over Aboriginal Heritage, that are intended to continue to apply;
  • A new SA Mining Act currently before Parliament to apply updated standards to all other mining projects in SA is not proposed to apply to SA’s largest mine: BHP Olympic Dam;
  • Roxby is also governed by the Mine Works and Inspection Act 1920 which solely provides the powers for Mine Inspectors to enter & inspect and to make Orders, however the Depart has sought to repeal this Act and roll these powers over Roxby into the proponents Indenture;
  • The SA Gov.’s Major Project Declaration has sought to impose serious limitations on this assessment, contrary to the standards, coverage, analysis and transparency that are required to inform good public interest decisions and conditions in this case

; · Successive SA Gov.’s have failed to secure a Rehabilitation Bond over the Olympic Dam mine. This process must now do so, requiring a new appraisal of liabilities over all mine operations: existing, enabling 200 000 tpa, and proposed expansion works and impacts; ;

  • Olympic Dam should be subject to a statutory mandated 100 per cent Bond applying the ‘most stringent conditions’ over estimated Rehabilitation Liabilities to ensure full costs in radioactive ore mining are secured in advance. See D Noonan submission (April 2017) to the Federal Inquiry on Rehabilitation of Mining (due to report 20 March
  • 2019):
  • Radioactive Tailings Storages at Roxby are designed and operated to leak liquid wastes, with inadequate lining to cut costs. The BHP open pit expansion proposal was also designed to leak. This 2019 expansion project is highly likely to be designed to leak and to cut costs by failing to require physical isolation of tailings from the environment for at least 10 000 years;
  • This assessment should include a range of alternatives to the proponent’s vested interest preferences, including that the ‘No Uranium Recovery’ option to only trade in copper and other non-radioactive products should be assessed across all Roxby operations;
  • The SA Gov. has a significant conflict of interest in this case and the ‘one stop shop’ Bilateral Assessment Agreement Clause 8.1, c (ii) seeks to constrain the coverage of Conditions applied by the Federal Minister. In practice, this Federal Liberal Gov. failed to impose Conditions on Radioactive Tailings Management in granting uranium mine Approvals in WA;
  • The next Federal Gov. must apply the ‘most stringent conditions’ on all uranium mining operations & reject ‘clearly unacceptable impacts’ on MNES under EPBC including on the fragile Mound Springs, as the State of South Australia can-not be relied upon to do so…….

March 9, 2019 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

8 years later, still no solution to Fukuhsima’s tons of radioactive water, still accumulating

Eight years after triple nuclear meltdown, Fukushima No. 1’s water woes show no signs of ebbing, Japan Times, BY RYUSEI TAKAHASHI, STAFF WRITER, 8 Mar 19,

This is the first in a series examining how the northeast and the nation are progressing with efforts to deal with the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.

Nearly a thousand storage tanks are scattered across the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, holding a staggering 1.1 million tons of treated water used to keep its melted reactor cores cool while they rust in the sun. Continue reading

March 9, 2019 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Olympic Dam: Uranium responsibilities and alternative ‘No Uranium Recovery’

“Olympic Dam Mega-Expansion Without Uranium” Report Launch

Initial Scoping – Olympic Dam Expansion Issues 22 Feb 2019 David Noonan B.Sc., M.Env.St., Independent Environment Campaigner “………..Uranium responsibilities and alternative ‘No Uranium Recovery’

 Since opening in 1988, Roxby mine has produced toward 80 000 tonnes of uranium oxide and left toward approx. 200 million tonnes of radioactive tailings to remain above ground on-site for-ever.

While this Roxby project is assessed in 2019-20 to a cited BHP Board decision in late 2020, the RioTinto Ranger open pit mine will close and go onto rehabilitation, leaving BHP’s Roxby mine and General Atomics Beverley 4 Mile mine in SA as the only operating uranium mines in Australia.

The Nuclear Free Movement & allies have a responsibility to contest this BHP Roxby mine expansion:

  • Australian uranium (from both Roxby & Ranger mines) fueled the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, always produces intractable nuclear waste, and present’s ongoing dual-use nuclear weapons risks and untenable nuclear accident risks. Australia’s uranium sales deals are also marked by secrecy;
  • Australian uranium is routinely sold to nuclear weapon states failing to honor their NPT nuclear disarmament obligations, to non-transparent regimes in China (and previously Russia), and is intended to go on to unstable regions: to the UAE in the Middle East, to Ukraine, and to India – outside of the NPT and in a nuclear arms race with Pakistan.

This BHP Roxby expansion is intended to increase and to ‘lock in’ Australia’s complicity in untenable nuclear risks & impacts, rather than the needed phase out of uranium mining and export sales deals.

In response to the prior BHP Olympic Dam open pit mine plan, the Australian Greens released a report by academic Dr Gavin Mudd “The Olympic Dam Mega-Expansion Without Uranium Recovery” (Dec 2010), with no uranium and only non-radioactive products to leave the Roxby mine.

In the public interest, this technically viable alternative mine configuration – with significant reduced water usage, should be re-appraised in light of this 2019 Roxby mine expansion plan, see the 2010 Report at:

As Senator Scott Ludlam & SA Greens MLC Mark Parnell have said, this is a challenge to BHP and to the SA & Federal gov’s to assess credible alternatives with better environmental outcomes – both here & overseas, see the Report Launch at:

Note: Uranium has declined over time as a share of Olympic Dam revenue to less than 20 per cent.

ACF/ D Noonan have campaigned for ‘No Uranium Recovery’ at existing & any expanded Roxby mine…….”.

March 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

BHP’s grand plans for Olympic Dam uranium mine, using old legislation for open slather on water, Aboriginal rights, environment

Initial Scoping – Olympic Dam Expansion Issues 22 Feb 2019 David Noonan B.Sc., M.Env.St., Independent Environment Campaigner The BHP Roxby ‘Major Project’ Copper & Uranium Mining Proposal: ‘Olympic Dreams: Major step for $3 billion, 1800-job North mine expansion’ (15 Feb, p.1 promo The Advertiser) as SA Gov. grant’s “Major Project” status to assess BHP’s latest expansion plan, to:

  • Increase copper production from 200,000 tonnes per annum to 350 000 tpa, with an increase in ‘associated products’ – uranium oxide: from 4 000 to approx. 6 000 tpa;
  •   Use the outdated 1982 Roxby Downs Indenture Ratification Act to control this EIS assessment under the Mining Minister, with the Indenture over-riding other SA legislation and subjecting Aboriginal Heritage to a constrained version of a 1979 Act across BHP Olympic Dam operations in the Stuart Shelf Area (covering 1 per cent of SA) – rather than the contemporary standards, process and protections in the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988;
  • Use a since replaced 1993 Development Act and “Major Project” status Sec. 46 (1) that excludes Appeals regarding the Environment Impact Statement (EIS) process and outcomes;
  • Use a ‘one stop shop’ Bilateral Assessment Agreement leaving the SA Gov. to conduct the assessment, including on Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES)under the Commonwealth Environment Protection legislation (EPBC Act 1999), on nuclear actions and on the fragile Mound Springs Endangered Ecological Community – reliant on GAB waters;
  • Use the SA Gov. Declaration to “Exclude” existing mining and “enabling activities” up to 200 000 tpa Cu & associated products and resultant impacts from this EIS assessment, “such as: waste treatment, storage and disposal, including but not limited to, Tailings Storage Facility 6, Evaporation Pond 6, additional cells for the contaminated waste disposal facility, and development of a low-level radioactive waste storage facility”;
  • And to increase extraction of Great Artesian Basin fossil water “up to total maximum 50 million litres a day annual average” (above the volumes last assessed in 1997 and set at a max of 42 Ml/day) and give BHP rights to take GAB water – potentially up to 2070, with “any augmented or new water supply pipeline from the GAB along with any other wellfield”;…… ……. .

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Olympic Dam, politics, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Paying a small tribute to Fr Denis Edwards RIP (March 5th) and his love of Earth and All connected

I am opposed to an international waste dump in SA, because I believe we are called by God to love and to respect this land as a gift, and to protect its integrity for future generations. As Pope Francis has insisted, “intergenerational solidarity is not an option, but a basic question of justice.” He insists on the priority and fundamental role of indigenous peoples in all such decisions about the land: “For them land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values”  (Laudato Si’, 146).”

Professor Denis Edwards Theology, Australian Catholic University, Priest of the Archdiocese of Adelaide

Paying a small local tribute to Denis and his memory- from  No Dump Alliance website. 
Thank you Denis
Michele Madigan
Acknowledging Ngarrindjeri Ruwe

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, religion and ethics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Abbot Point Nine fines reduced on appeal

Source  8 March 2019 

Nine anti-Adani activists, each originally fined $8,000 for disciplined non-violent direct action, which blocked coal exports from Adani’s Abbot point coal terminal for a total of 14 hours in January 2018, have expressed great relief that their fines have been substantially reduced on appeal to Bowen District Court.

The activists’ fines were reduced to between $2,000 to $3,000 each.

“Our actions were aimed to highlight the massive threat posed to a liveable planet for future generations by Adani’s railway and mine. Burning the Galilee Basin’s coal will make limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, as agreed at Paris, an impossibility.” said Liisa Rusanen, one of the nine activists.

“In confronting the climate emergency, of course we need to phase out coal and other fossil fuels. We also need to stop billion-dollar corporations from dictating government policy. The destruction of the environment has deep roots in the current political system and our future depends on facing this.” Added Nic Avery, another of the nine activists.

Another of the nine, Ella Skerret, pointed out “our original fines totalled $72,000 compared to Adani’s $12,000 fine for exceeding their licensed release of polluted water into the Caley Valley Wetlands during cyclone Debbie.  A second pollution incident occurred in the recent major rainfall event and is being investigated. Will they be handed another meagre fine?”

The nine activists thanked Caxton Legal Centre, in addition to Barristers Andrew Boe and Sian McGee for their dedicated hard work in achieving this appeal court outcome.

March 9, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

‘Chernobyl in a can’ – potential for error, in Holtec’s nuclear waste canisters

Nuclear waste solution remains elusive amidst polarized debate,The Coast News group,  by Jordan Ingram, 8 Mar 19, …………‘Chernobyl in a can’

In November 2018, a retired systems analyst silently held up a fistful of lemons during a Community Engagement Panel discussion with officials from Southern California Edison and the Nuclear regulatory Commission regarding a near-miss canister incident on Aug. 3 at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

Donna Gilmore, who spent her career designing and analyzing IT systems at Caltrans and the state Controller’s Office, had a clear message: the “Holtec nuclear waste dry storage system is a lemon and poses a risk to Californians.”

When Gilmore, 71, discovered that Edison was using “thin-walled” Holtec canisters to store tons of nuclear waste at decommissioning SONGS, she saw a potential for error with an incalculable cost…….

According to Gilmore, each of the canisters currently stored at San Onofre holds roughly the same amount of Cesium-137 that was released after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

“You basically have a Chernobyl disaster in each can,” Gilmore said.

Stephen Waters, a retired electrical engineer for Dillingham Construction during large hydroelectric projects such as PG&E’s Kerckhoff No. 2 and Edison’s Balsam Meadows, agreed with Gilmore’s assessment.

In an email correspondence with Gilmore, Waters wrote:

“The bottom line is these tables confirm your ‘Chernobyl in a can’ claim.  Each can would contain approximately 35 times the amount of Plutonium, the same amount of Cesium-137 and roughly six times as much Strontium-90 as released at Chernobyl.”…….

Gilmore said there are much safer canisters currently used in other parts of the world, including the CASTOR V/19 — the “Cadillac of the industry, according to Gilmore — which boasts nearly 20-inches ductile cast-iron protection……..

Reports released earlier this year by Samuel Lawrence Foundation further supports Gilmore’s claims, finding that the damage, or “gouging,” caused to the “thin-walled” steel canisters as they are lowered into the vaults is the most serious issue facing the storage facility.

In a 2017 report by the Electric Power Research Institute, steel canisters were found to be susceptible to chloride-induced stress corrosion cracking, chloride-rich salts combined with moisture that eat holes through metals over time.

Several cases of through-wall cracks due to chloride-induced corrosion were reported at nuclear power stations, including Koeberg, Turkey Point, St. Lucie and San Onofre, according to a report by the NRC.

In 2009, three examples of chloride-induced cracks were discovered in steel pipes at SONGS…..

what is more alarming, according to Gilmore and Waters, is that no approved method currently exists to deal with a failed canister.

During an Oct. 11, 2018, meeting on spent fuel storage, NRC Commissioner David A. Wright asked engineer Christian Araguas about the ability to inspect and repair canisters.

Araguas responded that the NRC and DOE are “trying to develop techniques to be able to inspect, you know, casks in service” and hopes that “they’re going to be able to inspect these in the future,” according to the meeting transcript.

Even more damning is the admission by Holtec President Kris Singh that it is “not practical to repair a canister if it were damaged” and that “all it takes is a microscopic crack” to get a release of millions of curies of radiation. ….“Why don’t they make containers that can be inspected and monitored in a manner that they don’t leak or explode,” Gilmore said. “Even the cheapest automobile can be inspected, maintained and repaired before something goes wrong.”

What’s the plan, man?

“The first step in emergency planning is prevention,” Gilmore said. “We have to focus on prevention and not get distracted with anything else. This idea that there’s an evacuation plan is giving false hope.”……

March 9, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Public Meeting in Melbourne: Keep Western Australia Uranium Free!

Jim Green .Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, March 6, 19 

Please join us for a public meeting on Wednesday, March 13, from 6.30‒8pm in Melbourne.
Special Guest speakers:
— K‒A Garlick ‒ Nuclear Free Community Campaigner, Conservation Council of Western Australia
— Dave Sweeney ‒ Nuclear Free Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation
— Dr Jim Green ‒ National Nuclear Free Campaigner ‒ Friends of the Earth Australia
WA is currently facing the threat of uranium mining. Several Tjiwarl Traditional Owners have joined with the WA Conservation Council to mount a legal challenge to prevent mining at Yeelirrie ‒ a proposal twice rejected by the WA EPA because of unacceptable risks of species extinction. Please join us to hear about this important legal challenge and the broader resistance to uranium mining in WA and across Australia.
Hosted by Friends of the Earth Melbourne
312 Smith St, Collingwood (Friends of the Earth office)
Wednesday, March 13, 6.30‒8pm
Snacks provided.

March 9, 2019 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

We ignore the wipeout of insects at our peril

Honey, we shrunk the bee and insect species that feed us,Canberra Times, By Elizabeth Farrelly, March 9, 2019  Insects or mortgage brokers, which to lose? Hmm. Tricky choice.

After the banking royal commission targeted mortgage brokers’ secret kickbacks last month, the industry retaliated. Its Grim Reaper-style advert showed an anxious family facing an endless corridor without choice or deviation. Imagine a world without mortgage brokers, the voiceover exhorted, as though that were inconceivable. Yet – such is our species’ self-absorption – no one wasted advertising dollars on a possible extinction, revealed days earlier, that’s exponentially more worrisome: the end of insects.

Insects are often held by the eco-minded (including the UN) as a solution to world hunger. There are insect cookbooks and insect-eating Ted talks. The catch, of course, is that mass insectivorism presumes precisely the kind of destructive, industrial monoculture that has turned food-production into the planetary eco-crisis we have. But there’s also this. On current trends there may not be any bugs, period – depriving us not only of crunchy six-legged comestibles but of virtually all food except (perhaps) the synthetic.

The new report, Worldwide Decline of the Entomofauna, by Australian biologists Sanches-Bayo and Wyckhuys, collated 73 longitudinal insect population studies to identify a single downward trend: continuing decline in many insect species globally over decades. “Over 40 per cent of insect species are threatened with extinction,” it says. The worst affected are those upon which world agriculture most relies yet which it also most mistreats: butterflies, moths, bees and dung-beetles.

Factors include habitat loss, industrial agriculture, urbanisation, chemicals, pollution, disease, stress and climate change, all driven or exacerbated by humanity.
We’re like the classic bad parent; relentlessly interventionist – imposing gifts, rules and expectations – but strictly in our own interest, not the child’s……..
Bee disappearance should be a wake-up call. Honeybees are wild creatures that, although occasionally domiciled with humans, travel up to 13km for nectar, covering some 53,000 hectares …
This gives the honeybee, Apis mellifera, a unique role as wild-to-human environmental indicator. When massive bee loss showed across Europe, Asia and America (which has lost over half its bee population), scientists found pollen samples containing over a hundred different chemical contaminants. But the most obvious culprit was pesticide; in particular neonicitinoids……..

It’s an old, old story, this prioritising of profit or convenience over nature, usually cloaked by “demand”. But in the choice between insects and mortgage brokers? Reckon I’ll follow the honey.

March 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear disaster has left a lasting distrust of the nuclear industry

The Fukushima nuclear disaster’s legacy: An inescapable stigma, Commentary: Pockets of innovation, like a drone testing field, have some hoping the region sheds its notoriety. But it’s not that simple. CNet

BY ROGER CHENG MARCH 7, 2019 The J-Village hotel and sports complex in Fukushima was immaculate, its grand lobby welcoming us with bright lights and pristine marble floors. Several furnished conference rooms stood ready to host one event after another.

There’ was just one jarring thing: the utter silence throughout the facility.

It was our first night in the Fukushima region, and my photographer, James Martin, and my interpreter had arrived a little after 10 p.m. Initially, we weren’t sure if this was the right location – we seemingly had the only vehicle in the parking lot, and a quick search of those conference rooms found no staff.

It wasn’t until we located the reception desk, tucked out of sight from the main lobby, that we found another human. The employee noted that only 15 guests were staying in the 200-room hotel.

Welcome to Fukushima.

That first night proved to be one of the more memorable moments in a trip that included a visit inside one of the most radioactive hotspots in the world, a look at a massive underground ice wall and a virtual reality experience that took me to places no human could survive. It stood out because it illustrated the long way this area has to go before any semblance of normalcy can return…….

Eight years on, there’s been little progress with the actual cleanup. While three of the six reactors have been safely decommissioned, the remaining three have proven to be such a challenge that Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, just last month finally succeeded in sending a robot down to the Unit 2 reactor to pick up some of debris in the highly radioactive core.  ………

Tepco and local government officials are pushing the concept of an “Innovation Coast” in the region through facilities like the Naraha Center for Remote Control Technology and the Robot Test Field in nearby Minamisoma. The idea is to tap into the investment already being made in the cleanup effort and create a Silicon Valley of robotics and drone technology.
“What we want to do is turn that on its head and create a positive image of Fukushima around the world,” Akifumi Kitashima, director of the robot industry promotion unit for the Fukushima prefectural government, says through an interpreter…….

there are reminders of the disaster everywhere. Drive on the nearby Joban Expressway and you’ll periodically run into signs with a readout of the radiation level. The daily weather report on the local evening news contains an update on the radiation in the area.

I periodically drove past fields containing hundreds of bags of radiated dirt.

At the same time as my tour of Daiichi in November, former Tepco executives were in court to deal with charges of professional negligence. Despite Tepco’s efforts to clean the mess up, there continues to be mistrust of the company and of nuclear power……..

March 9, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Rising temperatures threaten health of fetuses, researchers say

March 6, 2019  By Ruth SoRelle, Texas Climate News  Climate change evokes images of people swimming out of their flooded neighborhoods, cars bumper-to-bumper as drivers flee burning homes, merciless sun that dries up rivers and lakes. However, climate change is more than these very visible disasters. Of equal or greater danger is the silent, unseen damage that may occur in the gestating fetus – damage that can last a lifetime.

In a recent article in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an international group of researchers concluded that higher temperatures caused by climate change may result in up to 7,000 additional infants with congenital heart defects in Texas and seven other representative states over an 11-year period.

The researchers combined a multi-state database of birth defects with another of population. They integrated that with maps of temperatures across the nation and projected temperature increases from 2025-2035 to predict an increase in the numbers of infants born with serious heart defects.

In Texas and Arkansas (which the researchers defined as the South), for example, they foresee as much as a 34 percent increase in newborns with certain malformations such as tetralogy of fallot (a combination of four defects that affects the flow of blood) and as much as a 35 percent increase in another type involving a hole in the wall between the heart’s chambers.

In the Northeast they predict a 38.6 percent increase in atrial septal defect (a hole in the wall that divides the upper chambers of the heart). The Midwest is expected to have the highest increases of heat exposure to pregnant women, excessively hot days, heat-event frequency and heat event duration, when compared to the baseline period.

This study is a continuation of a 2018 study that first linked long duration of hot weather with heart defects, particularly in the southern and northeastern United States.

Scientists believe that when pregnant women are exposed to heat early in pregnancy, two problems can occur – fetal death or interference with the process in which cells generate new proteins, inducing severe fetal malformation. In the newer study, those problems appear associated with congenital heart defects…….

March 9, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment