Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear health effects- Chernobyl’s toll on children – theme for June 19

Chernobyl’s toll of radiation induced deformities in children, August 28, 2015

Fukushima Not Even Close To Being Under Control, Oil Price, By ZeroHedge Sun, 28 June 2015 “……..As an example of how media fails to deal with disaster blowback, here are some Chernobyl facts that have not received enough widespread news coverage: Over one million (1,000,000) people have already died from Chernobyl’s fallout.

Additionally, the Rechitsa Orphanage in Belarus has been caring for a very large population of deathly sick and deformed children. Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to radiation than adults.

Zhuravichi Children’s Home is another institution, among many, for the Chernobyl-stricken: “The home is hidden deep in the countryside and, even today, the majority of people in Belarus are not aware of the existence of such institutions” (Source: Chernobyl Children’s Project-UK).

One million (1,000,000) is a lot of dead people. But, how many more will die? Approximately seven million (7,000,000) people in the Chernobyl vicinity were hit with one of the most potent exposures to radiation in the history of the Atomic Age.

The exclusion zone around Chernobyl is known as “Death Valley.” It has been increased from 30 to 70 square kilometres. No humans will ever be able to live in the zone again. It is a permanent “dead zone.”

Additionally, over 25,000 died and 70,000 disabled because of exposure to extremely dangerous levels of radiation in order to help contain Chernobyl. Twenty percent of those deaths were suicides, as the slow agonizing “death march of radiation exposure” was too much to endure……..

June 15, 2019 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

Attempts by government to conceal and manipulate the truth: “Chernobyl”s warning

Chernobyl (2019) – What Have They Done?

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

Sydney Morning Herald- review of HBO’s hit show “Chernobyl”, now showing on Foxtel

Apocalyptic mini-series Chernobyl is the year’s unlikely TV hit,  SMH, By Craig Mathieson, June 11, 2019 “…… Chernobyl, a grimly compelling series screening weekly on Foxtel with all five episodes streaming online, is particularly incisive. By using events in 1986, set under a totalitarian regime that subsequently collapsed into the dustbin of history, the show is able to comment on 2019…..

I prefer my opinion to yours,” a local party boss dismissively tells Ulana Khomyuk (Emily Watson), a nuclear physicist who tries to raise the alarm about how serious the accident is. Chernobyl is an indictment on the official fictions of Russia’s one party communist state, a system of crippling shortcuts and absurd obeisance to power, but the blank and bureaucratic system has a familiar feel. One dissenter is threatened not with the bullet but professional obliteration, so that there’s no trace of their life’s work. That’s only more relevant now.

Written by Craig Mazin and directed by Johan Renck, the drama begins in the moments after the devastating eruption, unfolding as a ticking clock clean-up thriller, a mystery about the cause of the accident, and a study of individuals confronting the power that has nurtured them. Both nuclear scientist Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) and government minister Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgard) are insiders, lying about the risk to first responders or asking miners to risk life-threatening  contamination to help prevent a complete nuclear meltdown.

Like all historic recreations it changes details and amalgamates characters into fictionalised representations such as Watson’s Khomyuk, but it succeeds through a dry tone that has the bitterest of aftertaste. It mostly doesn’t allow for sentimentality: when the mining crew foreman asks Shcherbina if his men will be looked after properly for their sacrifice, the political party boss replies “I don’t know” and the phlegmatic miner is actually satisfied. It’s a dreadful answer, but for once he’s been told the truth.

People are evacuated from an Exclusion Zone, animals are shot, and the very earth itself is dug up for 100 square kilometres to be buried elsewhere. The lessons are terrible but instructive: stemming the damage is not the same as fixing the problem. Chernobyl has been an unlikely success with viewers, growing its American audience with each episode and becoming the top-rated show on the website Its appeal is readily apparent. It reflects our present and gives form to our inexplicable future.


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

Australia’s governments keen to frack up the land with coal, gas, nuclear

June 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Silly talk from Sussan Ley, Australia’s new Minister Against the Environment

She babbles on. You have to pause and try to figure out what she really means – the underlying messages. As Minister she wants “greater focus on INDIVIDUAL action” rather than government action. “I do want my approach to the portfolio to be about what YOU can do”. Wants ” approval times for major projects cut”. She doubts that ” land clearing is responsible for species loss”. Wants to simplify the EPBC Act, (too much green tape). She is “open to the review considering a removal of the nuclear ban”

Really, we were better off with Melissa Price. She was a straight out no nonsense advocate for coal. She was well informed in her subject (coal) , and we all knew where she stood. I forgot to mention this. I heard Sussan Ley on ABC radio, saying that on the subject of species extinctions in Australia “she knew better than the UN researchers, because she had lived in rural Australia” She said that “the UN had got it wrong”


Environment Minister floats ‘lending’ Murray Darling environmental water to farmers, Brisbane Times, By Nicole Hasham, June 15, 2019  New Environment Minister Sussan Ley says farmers in the Murray Darling Basin should be allowed to “borrow” water reserved for maintaining the river’s health, and federal approval for major developments must be streamlined to “give proponents more assurances” and reduce delays.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Ms Ley also identified invasive starfish as the “most imminent” threat to the Great Barrier Reef as she flagged potential changes to the way Australia’s natural assets are managed.

The Liberal MP was returned with a 7 per cent swing against her in the rural NSW seat of Farrer, where concern about water allocations to farmers featured heavily in the federal election campaign.

Ms Ley’s new portfolio captures the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, which manages the majority of water for the environment recovered under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

She cited the need for “flexibility” to allow water storages intended for environmental use to be “borrowed” by struggling farmers.

Sometimes the environment doesn’t need all its water but farmers desperately do need water,” she said……

The Australia Institute senior water researcher Maryanne Slatterya former director at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, described Ms Ley’s depiction of the problem as “not very accurate”…….

Ms Ley re-entered the Coalition government’s cabinet last month, after a 2017 expenses scandalforced her resignation from the front bench.

The environment portfolio includes protection of the Great Barrier Reef, which is under grave threat from climate change.

Ms Ley initially nominated the crown-of-thorns starfish, a pest that preys on live coral, as “the biggest, most imminent threat” to the reef…….

The federal government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says climate change “is the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef and coral reefs worldwide”.  …..

Australia’s key piece of environment legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, is due to be reviewed this year.

Ms Ley said it provided “real opportunity to remove some of the green tape around environmental approvals”…..

Australian Conservation Foundation nature campaign manager Basha Stasak said talk about cutting green tape was “code for making it easier for the loggers to cut down our forests, the diggers to rip up endangered animal habitat and corporate irrigators to suck more water out of our rivers”.

June 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Tailings dams at Olympic Dam uranium mine are in the “extreme risk” category.

it is deeply disturbing that BHP recently confirmed that three of the tailings dams at Olympic Dam are in the “extreme risk” category.

This is the highest risk status according to what is often regarded as the best global industry benchmark – the Canadian Dam Association’s safety standards – and relates less to the likelihood of collapse and more to the severity of the resulting human and environmental impacts if a failure did happen.

The environmental threat of tailings dams,12805

By Dave Sweeney  14 June 2019  BHP has applied to expand the Olympic Dam mine in SA, but with the recent failure of tailings dams, caution must be taken, writes Dave Sweeney.

AWAY FROM THE airbrushed corporate head offices, staged media events and slick communications products, the reality of the mining trade is pretty basic and very intrusive.

An orebody is identified, extracted, processed and removed and while the clothing might be high-visibility, many of the industry’s impacts tend to stay pretty low on the wider world’s radar.

Right now, the world’s biggest mining company, BHP, has formally applied to expand the massive Olympic Dam mine in northern South Australia.

This plan deserves serious attention and scrutiny for three key reasons: it involves the long-lived and multi-faceted threat of uranium, it proposes to use massive amounts of finite underground water and the company is in trouble globally over the management of mine wastes and residues currently stored in multiple leaking – and sometimes catastrophically failing – tailings dams.

BHP has recently commissioned a “tailings taskforce” to conduct a high-level review of the management of the company’s tailings dams or tailing storage facilities.

The move comes in the literal wake of the collapse of a tailings dam at the Samarco iron ore operation in Brazil in 2015 that saw 19 deaths along with widespread and continuing environmental damage.

The mine was a joint operation of BHP and Vale, a Brazilian mining multinational that is a major player in global iron and nickel production, promoting its mission as transforming natural resources into prosperity.

Or maybe not after an estimated 40 million cubic metres of toxic sludge from the collapsed dam poisoned the Doce River and utterly devasted the lives of the local Krenak people.

Nothing quite focuses the corporate mind as a high profile and high cost legal action and in May, BHP was served with a multi-party damages claim for over $7 billion on behalf of around 235,000 claimants.

The memory of Samarco and the dangers of large-scale tailings dam failure were tragically highlighted in January this year when another Vale tailings dam at the Brumadinho mine failed, resulting in terrible loss of life with a death toll of between two and three hundred people and massive environmental impact.

In this context, it is deeply disturbing that BHP recently confirmed that three of the tailings dams at Olympic Dam are in the “extreme risk” category.

This is the highest risk status according to what is often regarded as the best global industry benchmark – the Canadian Dam Association’s safety standards – and relates less to the likelihood of collapse and more to the severity of the resulting human and environmental impacts if a failure did happen.

In preparing to contest the new Olympic Dam expansion, environmental groups have commissioned a detailed analysis that clearly shows the tailings present a significant, near intractable, long-term risk to the environment.

However, there are serious concerns that BHP is seeking this major tailings expansion without a full Safety Risk Assessment — such an approach is inconsistent with modern environmental practice and community expectation.

Olympic Dam tailings contain around 80 per cent of the radioactivity associated with the original ore as well as around one-third of the uranium from the ore.

Since 1988, Olympic Dam has produced around 180 million tonnes (Mt) of radioactive tailings. These are intended to be left in extensive above-ground piles on-site forever.

BHP’s radioactive tailings at Olympic Dam are extensive and cover 960 ha or 9.6 km2, an area one-third larger than Melbourne’s CBD.

They have reached a height of 30 metres, roughly that of a ten-storey building, at the centre of tailings piles where water sprays are used to limit tailings dust release and potent radioactive radon gas is released to the atmosphere.

Critics of the planned expansion are calling for safety to be comprehensively and transparently assessed across all tailings at Olympic Dam, without any restrictions, exemptions or legal privileges to the company, before any decision on new storage facilities or more radioactive tailings production.

In the public interest, a full comprehensive tailings Safety Risk Assessment is required from BHP in the expansion Assessment Guidelines and this must be subject to public scrutiny in the EIS Assessment process.

Environment groups are demanding that the EIS Guidelines adopt the Federal Government’s Olympic Dam Approval Condition 32 Mine Closure (EPBC 2005/2270, Oct 2011) as a requirement on BHP for a full Comprehensive Safety Assessment, covering all radioactive tailings at Olympic Dam including that the tailings plan must:

‘…contain a comprehensive safety assessment to determine the long-term (from closure to in the order of 10,000 years) risk to the public and the environment from the tailings storage facility.’

In recognition that tailings risks are effectively perpetual, Condition 32 on Mine Closure requires environmental outcomes:

‘…that will be achieved indefinitely post mine closure.’

The SA Government’s Guidelines and the full comprehensive tailings Safety Risk Assessment must also incorporate the higher environmental standards set by the Federal Government in 1999 to regulate the Ranger Uranium Mine in Kakadu in the Northern Territory:

‘to ensure that:

  1. The tailings are physically isolated from the environment for at least 10,000 years;
  2. Any contaminants arising from the tailings will not result in any detrimental environmental impact for at least 10,000 years.’

There is an obligation for these Guidelines to mandate the application of the ‘high environmental standards’ set out in Object D of the Commonwealth-SA Assessment Bilateral Agreement.

BHP must demonstrate a plausible plan to isolate radioactive tailings mine waste from the environment for at least 10,000 years, in line with the Federal Government’s environmental requirements at the NT’s Ranger uranium mine.

And the South Australian and Federal Governments have a clear duty of care to make sure they do. After Brazil, no one in industry or government can ever say they didn’t know.

June 15, 2019 Posted by | South Australia, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Escalating collapse of global insect populations

The Great Insect Dying: How to save insects and ourselves, MONGABAY,  BY JEREMY HANCE   13 JUNE 2019  

  • The entomologists interviewed for this Mongabay series agreed on three major causes for the ongoing and escalating collapse of global insect populations: habitat loss (especially due to agribusiness expansion), climate change and pesticide use. Some added a fourth cause: human overpopulation.
  • Solutions to these problems exist, most agreed, but political commitment, major institutional funding and a large-scale vision are lacking. To combat habitat loss, researchers urge preservation of biodiversity hotspots such as primary rainforest, regeneration of damaged ecosystems, and nature-friendly agriculture.
  • Combatting climate change, scientists agree, requires deep carbon emission cuts along with the establishment of secure, very large conserved areas and corridors encompassing a wide variety of temperate and tropical ecosystems, sometimes designed with preserving specific insect populations in mind.
  • Pesticide use solutions include bans of some toxins and pesticide seed coatings, the education of farmers by scientists rather than by pesticide companies, and importantly, a rethinking of agribusiness practices. The Netherlands’ Delta Plan for Biodiversity Recovery includes some of these elements………..

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

“Chernobyl” TV series gets high rating, highly viewed in Russia and Kazakhstan

BBC 12th June 2019 , Hours after the world’s worst nuclear accident, engineer Oleksiy Breus
entered the control room of the No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear
power plant in Ukraine. A member of staff at the plant from 1982, he became
a witness to the immediate aftermath on the morning of 26 April 1986.

The story of the reactor’s catastrophic explosion, as told in an HBO/Sky
miniseries, has received the highest ever score for a TV show on the film
website IMDB. Russians and Ukrainians have watched it via the internet, and
it has had a favourable rating on Russian film site Kinopoisk. Mr Breus
worked with many of the individuals portrayed and has given his verdict of
the series.

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

Adani mining project: Court asks Australian govt to look into public concerns

Adani mining project: Court asks Australian govt to look into public concerns  14 June 19

A local court in Australia has asked Federal Govt to listen to public grievances on Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme. It spells fresh trouble for Adanis and their billion dollar coal mining project

In what is being interpreted as fresh trouble for the Adanis in Australia, who are on way to set up USD 16 billion dollar coal mining project in the Queensland state, a local court has asked the Federal Government to listen to public grievances on Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), which had filed a case the Federal Government has said that the latter has conceded public grievances on the Adani’s water scheme were ignored.
ACF said, “This is a massive outcome for the broader community, who raised grave concerns about the effect this project would have on Australia’s precious water resources”, adding, “In conceding the case, the Federal Environment Minister has admitted the Federal Government failed to consider all of the thousands of valid public submissions about if and how Adani’s project should be assessed, in direct breach of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.”

According to ACF, “Those people were denied their right to a voice in this process. This win will ensure their voice is heard. Now the Government will need to go back to the drawing board and open up assessment of the project for public comment again. It’s a big moment in the Adani story, and it couldn’t have happened without the bold vision of ACF in launching the case, backed by the hard work and expertise of the legal team.”

It continued, “This win is a humiliating outcome for the Federal Government over its assessment of Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme – the plan to pump up to 12.5 billion litres of water a year from the Suttor River to the company’s Carmichael mine site. Thousands of Australians made valid public comments on Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme referral, many concerned about the project’s impact on our precious water resources during a time of extreme drought.”

According to ACF, “The Federal Environment Minister has now admitted her delegate did not consider these comments, as required by law. In fact, she has admitted that her Department lost an unknown number of public comments made over the controversial project. This botched process points to a worrying lack of oversight in core assessment procedures designed to protect Australia’s precious water resources.”

It insisted in a statement, “The Federal Environment Minister did not concede our client’s initial argument in the case, which was that the ‘water trigger’ should have applied to the Scheme. The ‘water trigger’ is a measure that ensures any action which has a significant impact on water resources and involves a large coal mining development requires a more rigorous assessment under the EPBC Act.”

It added, “The community is still no closer to having an answer on why the ‘water trigger’ should not have applied to the North Galilee Water Scheme – a project which will take billions of litres of water a year from Central Queensland to service a coal mine. The Australian people have a right to know the impact big projects like this have on their precious water resources.”

June 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

Pick out the anti-environment statements in Sussan Ley’s spiel!

Sussan Ley: I’ll be an environmentalist as minister, Guardian    14 June 19,
Sussan Ley MP says she’s prepared to fight for her portfolio – and a priority will be cutting ‘green tape’ for big projects
The new environment minister, Sussan Ley, has declared herself an “environmentalist”, saying she is prepared to fight for the environment around the cabinet table even when colleagues disagree with her.

Ley, who welcomed the Queensland government’s decision on Thursday to give the green light to the Adani coalmine, told Guardian Australia she wanted to see more action on recycling, threatened species and biodiversity protection, and a greater focus on individual action to achieve a better environment.

But in the lead-up to a 10-yearly review of the country’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, Ley has also flagged that she wants approval times for major projects cut, has left the door open to lifting the country’s ban on nuclear power, and has questioned whether land clearing is responsible for species loss.

The former health minister, who was returned to cabinet by Scott Morrison after she quit over an expenses scandal in 2017, said she saw the role as an advocacy position……

Ley welcomed the review of the EPBC Act, due in the second half of this year, saying the country’s current environmental laws were “unnecessarily arduous, complex and not productive”.

….. Along with the approvals process, a clutch of Coalition MPs have indicated they will use the EPBC Act review to have Australia’s nuclear ban removed, a push that is being backed by the Minerals Council of Australia and industry groups.

Ley said the question of nuclear power in Australia was one “where you have to listen to all of the voices” but said she was open to the review considering a removal of the ban.

“To be honest, I am not strongly for or against nuclear power. I think there are good arguments for it, and there are good arguments against it.

From the perspective of the environment it is important that it is considered, so I am not going to lead that discussion at any point of the review process. Plenty of other people will.”

Ley also made clear her views on the threat to biodiversity after a UN report warned that a million species across the world faced extinction. The minister said she was “concerned” about the problem, but questioned whether land clearing was to blame.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has estimated that there has been a loss of more than 7.4m hectares of threatened species habitat since the EPBC Act was introduced in 1999, with Australia singled out for its high rates of deforestation.

“Biodiversity and … our level of loss of species is of great concern to me,” she said.

“I really believe that the biggest threat to our threatened species is probably feral cats. Loss of habitat isn’t just land clearing, if it is land clearing at all, loss of habitat is often the wrong type of vegetation and that is often introduced weeds……

I do want my approach to the portfolio to be about what you can do, whether it be reducing plastic waste, whether it be about joining a local volunteer group, whether it be about agitating for better weeds and pest management in national parks that are near you, where you live – these are practical things that people can do and they do make a difference.”

On climate change, Ley said she was “interested” in the emissions reduction task of government which is included with the energy portfolio, under Angus Taylor, rather than environment, and said she believed the Coalition’s climate solutions fund is “where we need to be”.

“I am not going to discuss the emissions policy, that is Angus Taylor’s to discuss,”……..

Having argued during the campaign for the compliance and operational parts of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to be split, Ley also said she would use her new role to push for changes being demanded by irrigators……..perhaps we need to work harder on that balance between environmental water and agriculture.”

June 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Anti-Adani protests continue in Canberra

Anti-Adani protests continue in Canberra,    14 June 19,  Despite the Carmichael mine being given its final approvals, anti-Adani protesters are continuing to highlight their concerns with the coal project. Protesters will gather outside the Indian high commission in Canberra on Saturday as the campaign to stop Adani’s Carmichael mine continues.Queensland’s environment department on Thursday signed off on the company’s plan to manage groundwater on and around its Galilee Basin mine site – the final approval the company needs to begin construction.

Former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown is expected to join the peaceful demonstration to “highlight the Adani company’s appalling record of environmental destruction and corruption overseas”.

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

June 14 Energy News — geoharvey

Science and Technology: ¶ “Why Tesla’s Solar Roof Is A Bargain, 53% Of The Price Of A Roof + Electricity” • I priced a new roof for my house, so the numbers are not hypothetical but a comparison of bids and realistic projections of two scenarios over 25 years. The Tesla Solar Roof is 52.7% […]

via June 14 Energy News — geoharvey

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

Why storage is key to NSW government plans, in race to clean energy — RenewEconomy

NSW government to use money collected through consumer electricity bills to help bring new, large-scale generation and storage capacity into its changing grid. The post Why storage is key to NSW government plans, in race to clean energy appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Why storage is key to NSW government plans, in race to clean energy — RenewEconomy

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

An easy-breezy idea for the Minister for Emissions Reduction — RenewEconomy

If Angus Taylor wants to cut emissions, boost regional economies and build a stable electricity grid, then the answer to all three is blowing in the wind. The post An easy-breezy idea for the Minister for Emissions Reduction appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via An easy-breezy idea for the Minister for Emissions Reduction — RenewEconomy

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

Goodbye energy consumers, hello energy citizens — RenewEconomy

Power is literally shifting to the people, and we have only just started to conceptualise what that might mean for consumers as energy citizens. The post Goodbye energy consumers, hello energy citizens appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Goodbye energy consumers, hello energy citizens — RenewEconomy

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