Australian news, and some related international items

School students’ climate action strike, across Australia, on 15 March -and this is having its impact!

Students strike for climate change, defying calls to stay in school | ABC News

Australia’s young climate activists to strike again – and people are listening  Students around the world have been holding protests over climate change in recent months, and they’re happening again in Australia this week.  SBS, BY NICK BAKER  11 Mar 19, Australian students are once again planning to walk out of schools to protest climate change inaction.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | 1 Comment

Dismissing Aboriginal objections, Leonora Shire Council, (Western Australia) wants an underground nuclear waste dump!

Outback WA council keeps hand raised for nuclear waste facility, as legal action halts progress on SA sites ABC North and West ,By Gary-Jon Lysaght , 12 Mar 19, While the search for a place to store Australia’s nuclear waste remains on hold pending a decision by the Federal Court, a small council in outback Western Australia still has its hand raised as a potential site.

Key points:

  • Kimba and Hawker in South Australia are being considered as sites for storing nuclear waste
  • A company called the Azark Project has a proposal to store waste in a “seismically stable” location near Leonora in the WA Goldfields
  • The Federal Government says it is currently not considering Leonora as a potential location

Leonora, a WA Goldfields town about 200 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie, is being touted as a potential location for an underground nuclear waste disposal facility.

The Federal Government is considering sites at Kimba and Hawker in South Australia for an above-ground facility capable of permanently storing low-level waste and temporarily storing intermediate-level waste.

Nuclear waste being stored at Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) would be sent to the nuclear waste disposal facility…….

He said the Azark proposal was to store low-level and intermediate-level waste underground on a permanent basis. ……

Leonora not being considered

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said it was currently not considering Leonora as a potential location and that detailed studies were continuing at the three nominated sites in South Australia.

Lyndhurt and Napandee are the properties near Kimba being considered and the site near Hawker is called Wallerberdina Station.

A proposed community ballot on support for the facility in Kimba and Hawker has been on hold pending legal action.

The Leonora Shire Council remains in favour of a nuclear waste facility near the town, saying it could provide jobs and much-needed infrastructure for the small town.However, Leonora Shire President Peter Craig said that support could wane because of what he described as a lack of consultation from Azark.

“Azark did have a community meeting back in April 2018, which was pretty positive, there were some questions that still needed to be answered,” he said.

“To this day, in our view, as a council, Azark have failed in consultation work with the community…….

Mr Craig said Azark had consulted people one-on-one but not in a wider group since the 2018 meeting. ……

Cultural and environmental concerns

Throughout the site selection process at both Kimba and Hawker there has been opposition from local Aboriginal groups, who say a facility would impinge on sacred land.

Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation said local Aboriginal groups at Leonora remained strongly opposed to the facility.

“[Azark] says there’s no chance of any impact on water — there’s no evidential basis for that,” he said.

“They say there is no cultural or heritage issues — that is contested by local Aboriginal people.

“When this was first flagged, Aboriginal people who have deep concerns about this proposal got a petition together that rapidly got, in a number of days, around 500 signatures.

“In a remote region, that’s a quick and significant expression of concern.”……

Mr Sweeney said the Federal Government should stop the site selection process.

“We desperately need, right now, for the brakes to go on the federal process at Kimba and at Hawker and an independent assessment of the best ways we can manage radioactive waste.”

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, Western Australia | Leave a comment

From Australia to Japan to India, USA also, youths will skip school on March 15 to protest against climate change

Striking for the future: From Australia to Japan to India, youths will skip school on March 15 to protest against climate change

Students from at least six Asian countries will take part in Global Strike for Future
But authorities in some countries have warned students not to disrupt classes South
China Morning Post Zoe Low 10 Mar, 2019 On March 15, students from at least six countries in the Asia-Pacific will be part of a global school strike to demand concrete action from governments to tackle climate change.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Even more Australian students will strike for climate action, this Friday

We’ve been forced into this’: Australia’s school climate strikes to go global Guardian, Naaman Zhou @naamanzhou, 11 Mar 2019  In November, Scott Morrison told the striking students to ‘go to school’ – this time even more of them will strike Four months on, 17-year-old Doha Khan says the school climate strikers have learned a lot.

On Friday, thousands of primary and high school students are again planning to walk out of class across the country, protesting against the government’s inaction on climate change, and what they see as the destruction of their future.

Up to 50 rallies, in scores of regional towns, are planned for 15 March. This time, the students will be joined by others in America and Europe, in what has become a global movement.

At the November protests, thousands took to the streets. In Canberra, they met Greens senators, Labor MPs and the independent MP Rebehka Sharkie. They were told by the prime minister, Scott Morrison, to “go to school”, and by the resources minister, Matt Canavan, that they were “learning to join the dole queue”.

More recently, the New South Wales education minister, Rob Stokes, told students to stay in class because “you can’t strike if you don’t have a job”.

But the leaders of Friday’s strike say the movement has only grown, gained momentum, and become smarter.

“We really did take into account a lot of the criticism that came out of last year,” says Khan, who goes to the Glenunga International high school in Adelaide.

“There were claims that the kids were just striking and didn’t have any demands. So this time around we’ve made our demands a lot clearer.

“We have them set out on all banners: stopping the Adani coalmine. No new fossil fuel projects, 100% renewables by 2030.”

This year, the number of rally points has grown, mostly in regional areas. There are 18 in New South Wales alone – from Bowral to Byron Bay – and Khan feels enthusiasm has risen, rather than quietened down.

“This time our response rate has doubled,” she says. “Last time, a week before the strike, we had 1,000 responses on Facebook. This week we are over 2,300. We are now getting a hundred responses a day. That’s pretty cool – and this is just the Adelaide strike.”……..

March 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

After Fukushima: Nuclear power’s deepening crisis -it’s never appropriate for Australia

Independent Australia By Dave Sweeney | 12 March 2019 Eight years ago the world held its breath as the Fukushima nuclear crisis unfolded in Japan. Today the lands are littered and the seas awash with the consequences of radioactive waste responses and the economic, human and environmental costs are severe and continuing.

Fukushima was directly fuelled by Australian uranium and in its aftermath, this contested trade remains hard hit, as is the wider global nuclear power sector. Globally, reactors are in recession and the promises of the promoters look increasingly hollow.

The nuclear industry is in crisis everywhere.

In contrast, worldwide renewable power generation has doubled over the past decade and costs continue to fall dramatically.

A record amount of new renewable power capacity has been installed worldwide every year over the past decade. Renewables accounted for over 26 per cent of global electricity generation in 2017, while the nuclear contribution languishes at ten per cent. Around our shared planet, over ten million people are employed in renewable energy industries and the trajectory is only going one way.

In January, Australia’s Climate Council, comprising leading climate scientists and policy experts, issued a policy statement concluding that:

‘Nuclear power stations are not appropriate for Australia — and probably never will be.

According to the Climate Council:

‘Nuclear power stations are highly controversial, can’t be built under existing law in any Australian state or territory, are a more expensive source of power than renewable energy, and present significant challenges in terms of the storage and transport of nuclear waste, and use of water.’

This view was reinforced by Federal Labor, at its national conference in December, when it committed to

“prohibit the establishment of nuclear power plants and all other stages of the nuclear fuel cycle in Australia.”   

At this time, Shadow Energy Minister Mark Butler was scathing of nuclear advocates, telling ABC Radio:

“This is not a technology that has any opportunity for Australia, it is extraordinarily expensive power as well… we want to focus on renewable energy which is going to bring down emissions, bring down power prices, and power thousands and thousands of jobs.”

China ‒ long seen as the saviour for the industry ‒ has not approved a new reactor construction site for more than two years and is instead prioritising renewable energy. The number of countries phasing out nuclear power now includes Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Taiwan and South Korea.

The British nuclear power industry is in free-fall …….

Nuclear lobbyists used to claim nuclear power would be too cheap to meter. Now, it’s too expensive to matter…….,12459

March 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

The startling and continuing costs of the Fukushima nuclear accident

Asahi Shimbun 10th March 2019 In a startling disparity, a private think tank puts the cost of addressing the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster between 35 trillion yen and 81 trillion yen ($315 billion and $728 billion), compared with the government estimate of 22 trillion yen.

The calculation, by the Tokyo-based Japan Center for Economic Research, showed that the total could soar to at least 60 percent more and up to 3.7 times more than the 2016 estimate by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. In releasing the latest estimates on March 7, the center said it is time for serious debate over the role nuclear energy
should play in the nation’s mid- and long-term energy policy.

Of the highest price tag of 81 trillion yen, 51 trillion yen would go toward decommissioning the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and treating and disposing of radioactive water. The ministry put the cost for these tasks at 8 trillion yen. The center calculated the compensation to victims at 10 trillion yen, while the comparable estimate by the ministry
was 8 trillion yen.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Encouragement to the kids, who no doubt will be ridiculed for standing up about climate change

Striking schoolkids should wear storm of criticism as a badge of honour By John Birmingham March 11, 2019  
 I hope a lot of school kids join this global children’s strike on Friday and I hope they’re mocked and traduced by their elders in politics and the media, because those elders aren’t really their betters on this issue; they’re mostly either dangerous fools or mendacious swine.

The hammer of the coming climate catastrophe will fall most heavily on these kids and eventually upon their children and grandchildren, 20, 30, 40 years from now, and it will do them no harm to take a few rhetorical knocks from a bunch of bloviating, overpaid idiots simply because they chose to step up and take action now. It’ll be good practice.

They’re going to be doing this for the rest of their lives, unless they’re cool with those lives ending in famine, superstorms and wars over diminishing water supplies, and shrinking remnants of arable land.

Protest won’t directly change that of course. Only radically revised policy settings, massive expenditure on clean energy R&D, and the accelerated deployment of paradigm shifting new technologies can change that. But that change will come only when political actors feel a real sense of terror for their futures. Not the future of the planet and its inhabitants, mind you. Just for their own immediate futures. Their pay cheques.

When they feel that existential terror creeping up on them, you’ll start to see things like Tony ‘climate change is BS’ Abbott, perform the sort of tortured interpretive dance routine the electors of Warringah have enjoyed this week.

Abbott is tying himself into Yogi Master knots as he tries to fend off the challenge of Zali Steggall, a highly accomplished and impeccably conservative independent candidate for his seat, who somehow manages to believe in the free market, the primacy of the individual, franking credits for everyone and how awesome it would be if our lives didn’t end in famine, superstorms and war over diminishing water supplies etc, etc.

The only reason Abbott and his fellow travellers on the dirty great coal train to oblivion feel any need to move away from their previous embrace of pro-apocalypse energy policy is because they can see that public opinion has moved on. Year after year of worsening climate and extreme weather events will eventually do that to people.

All those kids who strike on Friday are helping to move that opinion. Yeah, they’ll be derided and ridiculed, their motives questioned and belittled. But they just need to remind themselves that those who caused this problem will soon enough all be dead, leaving them to clean up the mess.

Best they get started now.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Endless clean-up work at Fukushima nuclear wreck

TV5 Monde 8th March 2019, Japan: 8 years after the tsunami, the Fukushima power station remains a  huge construction site. The immediate risk seems to be averted, but where arduous tasks and unforeseen events continue.
Here are the three main issues:
Nuclear fuel Four of the six reactors at the plant were damaged.  The cores of units 1 to 3 have melted at the time of the accident and it is now known that the fuel has almost completely fallen to the bottom of the primary containment of each unit, which it even partially started.
Contaminated water, waste. The site is teeming with contaminated water, “although the various measures taken have mitigated” the problem, according to Mr. Ono. The water is initially that of the tsunami that ravaged the facilities, water that had to pump, sanitize and store. It is then the one
used to cool the reactors and finally the one that falls from the sky and down the mountain upstream and contaminates the way. However, an underground barrier wall and pumps make it possible to limit the amount of water contaminated by the installations.
About 4 / 5,000 people work on the site every day, almost half as many as four years ago, “because large construction sites have been completed (wall of ice, laying a coating on the ground, construction of various buildings), “says Ono. On average, the exposure of workers to radiation is now less than 5 mSV per year, but this single figure masks the large disparities between individuals according to their tasks.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Small modular nuclear reactors headed for the graveyard

An obituary for small modular reactors Jim Green, The Ecologist, 11 March 2019,

The nuclear industry is heavily promoting the idea of building small modular reactors (SMRs), with near-zero prospects for new large power reactors in many countries. These reactors would have a capacity of under 300 megawatts (MW), whereas large reactors typically have a capacity of 1,000 MW.

Construction at reactor sites would be replaced with standardised factory production of reactor components then installation at the reactor site, thereby driving down costs and improving quality control.

The emphasis in this article is on the questionable economics of SMRs, but a couple of striking features of the SMR universe should be mentioned (for details see the latest issue of Nuclear Monitor).

First, the enthusiasm for SMRs has little to do with climate-friendly environmentalism. About half of the SMRs under construction (Russia’s floating power plant, Russia’s RITM-200 icebreaker ships, and China’s ACPR50S demonstration reactor) are designed to facilitate access to fossil fuel resources in the Arctic, the South China Sea and elsewhere. Another example comes from Canada, where one application of SMRs under consideration is providing power and heat for the extraction of hydrocarbons from oil sands.

A second striking feature of the SMR universe is that it is deeply interconnected with militarism:

  • Argentina’s experience and expertise with small reactors derives from its historic weapons program, and its interest in SMRs is interconnected with its interest in small reactors for naval propulsion.
  • China’s interest in SMRs extends beyond fossil fuel mining and includes powering the construction and operation of artificial islands in its attempt to secure claim to a vast area of the South China Sea.
  • Saudi Arabia’s interest in SMRs is likely connected to its interest in developing nuclear weapons or a latent weapons capability.
  • A subsidiary of Holtec International has actively sought a military role, inviting the US National Nuclear Security Administration to consider the feasibility of using a proposed SMR to produce tritium, used to boost the explosive yield of nuclear weapons.
  • Proposals are under consideration in the US to build SMRs at military bases and perhaps even to use them to power forward operating bases.
  • In the UK, Rolls-Royce is promoting SMRs on the grounds that “a civil nuclear UK SMR programme would relieve the Ministry of Defence of the burden of developing and retaining skills and capability”.

Independent economic assessments

SMRs will almost certainly be more expensive than large reactors (more precisely, construction costs will be lower but the electricity produced by SMRs will be more expensive). Continue reading

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear shills busily promoting the industry on the anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe

Libbe HaLevy Nuclear Spinbuster, 11 Mar 19, 

Today is the 8th anniversary of the earthquake/tsunami/start of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. I’m taking note of the full-court-press of MSM articles extolling nuclear (Shellenberger in pro-nuclear Forbes really twisted his mental knickers in a bunch) and denigrating everyone/thing from Linear No Threshold (which holds that radiation exposure is cumulative and there is no exposure level that is safe) to that perennial target, Dr. Helen Mary Caldicott. The nuclear industry pays millions every year to their PR shills and focus groups to psychologically hone their talking points and convince us that they’re AOK! All we’ve got is us – and the truth. To my dear friends who mourn the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear consequences of 3/11/11, may we be safe and persist and succeed… whatever that may mean

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Adults won’t take climate change seriously. So we, the youth, are forced to strike

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists By Maddy FernandsIsra HirsiHaven ColemanAlexandria Villaseñor, March 7, 2019 Editor’s note: The authors are the lead organizers of US Youth Climate Strike, part of a global student movement inspired by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg’s weekly school strikes in Sweden and other European countries.

We, the youth of America, are fed up with decades of inaction on climate change. On Friday, March 15, young people like us across the United States will strike from school. We strike to bring attention to the millions of our generation who will most suffer the consequences of increased global temperatures, rising seas, and extreme weather. But this isn’t a message only to America. It’s a message from the world, to the world, as students in dozens of countries on every continent will be striking together for the first time.

For decades, the fossil fuel industry has pumped greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. Thirty years ago, climate scientist James Hansen warned Congress about climate change. Now, according to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on global temperature rise, we have only 11 years to prevent even worse effects of climate change. And that is why we strike.

We strike to support the Green New Deal. Outrage has swept across the United States over the proposed legislation. Some balk at the cost of transitioning the country to renewable energy, while others recognize its far greater benefit to society as a whole. The Green New Deal is an investment in our future—and the future of generations beyond us—that will provide jobs, critical new infrastructure and most importantly, the drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions essential to limit global warming. And that is why we strike.

To many people, the Green New Deal seems like a radical, dangerous idea. That same sentiment was felt in 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed the New Deal—a drastic piece of legislation credited with ending the Great Depression that threatened (and cost) many lives in this country…….

The alarming symptoms of Climate Denialism—a serious condition affecting both the hallways of government and the general population—mark our current historical crossroads of make-it-or-break-it action on climate change. Although there are many reasons for this affliction—such as difficulty grasping the abstract concept of a globally changed climate, or paralysis in the face of overwhelming environmental catastrophe—the primary mode of Climate Denialism contagion involves lies spouted by politicians, large corporations, and interest groups. People in power, like Senator McConnell and the Koch brothers, have used money and power to strategically shift the narrative on climate change and spread lies that allow themselves and other fossil fuel industry beneficiaries to keep the fortunes they’ve built on burning fossil fuels and degrading the environment. …….

We strike because our world leaders haven’t acknowledged, prioritized, or properly addressed the climate crisis. We strike because marginalized communities across our nation—especially communities of color and low income communities—are already disproportionately impacted by climate change. We strike because if the societal order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then influential adults will be forced to take note, face the urgency of the climate crisis, and enact change. With our future at stake, we call for radical legislative action—now—to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people. We strike for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100 percent renewable economy, and to stop creation of new fossil fuel infrastructure. We strike because we believe the climate crisis should be called what it really is: A national emergency, because we are running out of time.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate change is a key issue for New South Wales election

Climate change top of voters’ minds in NSW election SMH, By Alexandra Smith March 12, 2019  Climate change is a key election issue for most people in NSW, polling shows, as the environment emerges as a more pressing concern for voters than hospitals, schools and public transport.

Exclusive Herald polling shows that 57.5 per cent of voters say they will be swayed by climate change and environmental protection when deciding who to vote for on March 23…….

Internal party research showed climate change played a major role in last year’s Wentworth byelection and is shaping up to be a key issue in former prime minister Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah.

With climate change again looming as an issue at the federal election in May, Mr Abbott on Friday abandoned his call to withdraw from the Paris agreement to reduce carbon emissions, falling in to line with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the key policy………

The three independents – Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, and Wagga Wagga MP Joe McGirr – are demanding Labor and the Coalition take action on climate change.

The crossbenchers, who will hold the balance of power if the government loses six seats, wrote to the Premier and Mr Daley last week asking them to act on transitioning from coal mining to clean energy……

March 12, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales, politics | 1 Comment

State of the drought – New South Wales , South Australia, Northern territory, Western Australia

State of the drought shows dams empty and NSW drowning in dust  ABC Weather By Kate Doyle 12 Mar 19, It’s not good. Not good at all.

The hot dry summer has stripped the soils of moisture, water storages are down in every state and territory, and New South Wales is drowning in dust.

Key points:

  • Water stores are down in every state and territory
  • Keepit dam is empty and Dubbo’s dam could be empty by 2020
  • A hot and dry summer has exacerbated low soil moisture, with a dry autumn forecast

So far this drought has been short but hard-hitting. The coming cold season will be a test of that descriptor.

Last year’s national farm production was down on the bumper year of 2016, but a good year in the west, decent prices and some moisture last summer softened the blow.

But with widespread low soil moisture, the pressure is on the arrival of cool-season rain.

The heat is making things worse

Lynette Bettio, a climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said the big dry was affecting large parts of NSW, eastern South Australia and parts of the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia.

And despite the flooding rains in the north, even Queensland isn’t off the hook.

“The floods largely missed those areas of drought that we were covering,” Dr Bettio said.

“It did relieve some of those areas; those large totals of rainfall meant that some areas near the border with the NT are no longer in that bottom 10 per cent for those [drought-measuring] periods.

“But there’s still large parts of southern Queensland that are in that bottom 10 per cent of rainfall and lowest-on-record rainfall for those 11-month and 23-month periods.”……..

March 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Quuensland bushfire worsens

Prepare to leave’: Bushfire could worsen

Residents in a community near Bundaberg have been told to gather their belongings and prepare to leave their homes as a bushfire burns in a nearby national park  … (subscribers only)

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Fukushima Mothers Running a Citizens’ Lab to Track Nuclear Radiation

Running a Citizens’ Lab to Track Nuclear Radiation

After the 2011 tsunami triggered a nuclear disaster in Fukushima, there were widespread fears about radiation leaking into the environment. Now a group of volunteers—who are mostly mothers—is tackling the issue head-on.

A woman in a lab coat and surgical mask analyzes a screen full of data. Only those with some training in physics—and in this case, a fear of of radiation—would be able to make sense of these numbers.

Ayumi Iida, 33, is one of twelve volunteers at Tarachine, a local NGO in Fukushima, Japan. She runs the Citizens’ Lab, as the volunteers like to call their laboratory. From the window of the facility, you can catch a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, precisely eight years ago today the stage for one of the greatest natural disasters of the 21st century. Continue reading

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment