Australian news, and some related international items

The nuclear toll on workers and communities – theme for June 19

McClatchy reports: 33,480 Americans dead after 70 years of atomic weaponry

“….. The number of deaths has never been disclosed by federal officials. It’s more than four times the number of American casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And it looms large as the nation prepares for its second nuclear age, with a $1 trillion plan to modernize its nuclear weapons over the next 30 years…..

A total of 107,394 workers have been diagnosed with cancers and other diseases after building the nation’s nuclear stockpile over the last seven decades. The project includes an interactive database that offers details on all 107,394 workers.

McClatchy’s yearlong investigation, set in 10 states, puts readers in the living rooms of sick workers in South Carolina, on a picket line in Texas and at a cemetery in Tennessee…..

— Federal officials greatly underestimated how sick the U.S. nuclear workforce would become. At first, the government predicted the compensation program would serve only 3,000 people at an annual cost of $120 million. Fourteen years later, taxpayers have spent sevenfold that estimate, $12 billion.

— Even though costs have ballooned, federal records show that fewer than half of those workers who sought help had their claims approved by the U.S. Department of Labor.

— Despite the cancers and other illnesses among nuclear works, the government now wants to save money by cutting current employees’ health plans, retirement benefits and sick leave….. … Ralph and Jodi Stanton)

Disastrous health effects of uranium mining, on the people of Jharkhand, India

the financial benefits are meaningless when weighed against what his group says is an alarming rise in stillbirths, birth defects, and adults and children diagnosed with cancer, kidney disease, and tuberculosis.

report showed a far greater incidence of congenital abnormality, sterility, and cancer among people living within 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) of the mines than those living 35 kilometres away. Mothers in villages close to the mine sites were also twice as likely to have a child with congenital deformities, …. us”…

June 22, 2019 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

Northern New South Wales MP – “NO nuclear power – not on my watch!”

Not on my watch” – MP fuming over backing for nuclear power –   Gold Coast Bulletin, 21 June 19, 

A NORTHERN NSW MP says she will fight tooth and nail against nuclear power after a southern Gold Coast politician said she was open to considering the divisive energy source.

Member for Richmond Justine Elliot pointed to a recent Sky News interview involving Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews, the Member for McPherson.

When asked about nuclear energy in Australia, Ms Andrews said: “I don’t have an issue with it being considered.”

Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Mark Butler seized on the comments and said it was another example of senior Liberals supporting nuclear power.

He asked whether Ms Andrews would “prefer the nuclear plant in Coolangatta, Robina, Burleigh Heads or Palm Beach?”.

“Scott Morrison needs to make his position clear,” he said.

The back-and-forth over the issue prompted Mrs Elliot to weigh in and reaffirm her “longstanding opposition to nuclear power”.

“Our community on the North Coast does have a major issue with nuclear energy and I stand with them in opposing any nuclear power plants in coastal communities like ours on the NSW North Coast,” she said.

“Let me make this very clear to Scott Morrison and the Liberals and Nationals – if you pursue any plans for nuclear energy in our region, our community will fight this every day.”

The Labor MP said she had a clear message for LNP Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“As the local Federal MP my message to the Prime Minister is – no nuclear power – not on my watch,” Mrs Elliot said.

“The Liberal National government needs to come clean on their plans for nuclear power and reassure our community that it won’t become home to a nuclear power plant.

“We know that nuclear power plants need to be built near water so I call on the Liberals and Nationals to rule out any plans for nuclear power in our area.”

Mrs Elliot was adamant the northern NSW community “don’t want it in our area”.

“I stand committed in my opposition to nuclear power and under my watch the North Coast will never become home to a nuclear power plant,” she said.

Mrs Elliot added nuclear power plants could not legally be built in Australia and she said the pressure was on Mr Morrison to “take real action to end the energy crisis that has emerged under the Liberal National Government”.

“So far, all the Liberals and Nationals are promising in energy is expensive new coal-fired power stations and a growing pressure from Ministers such as Karen Andrews, for Australia to pursue even more expensive nuclear power,” she said.

Mrs Elliot’s electorate of Richmond stretches from the Queensland-NSW border to Ballina region in the south

June 22, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Resources Minister Matt Canavan changes his tune – now REJECTS nuclear power !

What a waste: Minister’s question for nuclear inquiry, Courier Mail, 21 June 19RESOURCES Minister Matt Canavan has shied away from backing an inquiry into nuclear power in Australia, as he warns a permanent home would need to be found for high-level waste first.

He said a facility to store low-level radioactive waste from medical facilities had not been agreed on, despite a 40-year search.

Some of his Queensland LNP colleagues, led by Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and Senator James McGrath, are pushing for a two-year inquiry into nuclear power

Senator Canavan said he did not believe it stacked up financially and it could cost more to generate power than existing energy sources.

He said the British Government had recently underwritten a nuclear power station, guaranteeing a price of $140/megawatt hour, which is higher than the $100/megawatt hour price currently paid in Australia.

“I don’t think it’s the right choice right now for Australia, mainly from a financial and cost perspective,” Senator Canavan said.

“The Government’s focus has been on getting prices down in Australia.

“That’s why right now I don’t think the current technology of nuclear technology is a solution to that.”

Senator Canavan also warned that a facility for storing high-level radioactive waste would need to be found. “We have been trying for 40 years to find a long-term repository for radioactive waste that is produced at Lucas Heights (nuclear reactor in Sydney) and some legacy waste we have from other activities,” he said.

“If we can’t find a permanent home for low-level radioactive waste associated with nuclear medicines, we’ve got a pretty big challenge dealing with the high-level waste that would be produced by any energy facilities.”

But he said he welcomed his colleagues bringing forth significant policy issues, and would speak to them seeking further detail.

Senator McGrath and Mr Pitt said this week they would write to the Prime Minister seeking his support for an inquiry into nuclear power to go ahead, given it has been more than a decade since the previous investigation.

June 22, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australian Nuclear Association lobbies government with its “nuclear vision”

Australians urged to adopt nuclear power, World Nuclear News, 20 June 2019 The Australian Nuclear Association (ANA) has appealed to Australians to understand that nuclear energy is ready to make a valuable contribution to low emission dispatchable generation for Australia……  Although it is home to the 20 MWt Opal research reactor, nuclear power has been prohibited in Australia since 1998 under two Acts of Parliament: the Australian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Act and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.In a declaration yesterday, signed by ANA President Dr Mark Ho, ANA noted that nuclear energy supplies 10% of the world’s electricity “safely, reliably, cleanly and economically”…….

To achieve these benefits, Australia needs to do nine things, the declaration says.

These are: repeal long-outdated federal and state legislation preventing its proper consideration; initiate informed public debate towards achieving social licence while acknowledging concerns of safe waste disposal and radiation protection; commit to a genuinely technology-neutral long-term energy policy; focus on affordability, reliability and sustainability, accounting for total system costs in establishing the optimal mix of low emission technologies; enhance Australia’s internationally respected nuclear regulatory regime; facilitate supportive international technology exchange linkages; invite proposals to establish the business case; enhance research and development, drawing on ANSTO’s facilities and expertise; and support every level of education and training needed by emerging industries.

ANA “strongly encourages” the governments of Australia and its states and territories and industry to deliver this vision. “We will contribute to balanced and open public education and communicate constructively with the media on the benefits of nuclear power to help Australia develop a safe, reliable and cost-effective energy sector,” it adds.

ANA is an independent incorporated scientific institution made up of people from the professions, business, government and universities with an interest in nuclear topics.

June 22, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

USA war crimes – mass deaths in Fallujah, depleted uranium effects linger

there is no credible official figure for civilian casualties because the U.S. commanders and the Pentagon played down the killing of civilians in the Iraq conflict, though some estimates place deaths in the Mideast country at between a half-million and 1 million.

it was the widespread deployment of depleted uranium (DU) munitions that was to have lasting human damage.

The British scientific report entitled “Cancer, Infant Mortality, and Birth-Sex Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009” confirmed that DU was in shells and also in bullets that were fired in large, unreported quantities, causing radiation contamination. DU’s effects can last for a long period and resulted over time in physical deformities among children.

Ghosts of Fallujah Haunting America

June 21, 2019 Staff A U.S. legislator has arrogantly admitted publicly that his Marine Corps unit may have killed hundreds of civilians in Fallujah. Will these war crimes continue to go unpunished?

By Richard Walker

The admission by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) that his Marine Corps unit may have killed hundreds of civilians, including women and children, in the city of Fallujah in Iraq in April 2004 once again raises the question of whether U.S. forces committed war crimes and used chemical and other unnamed weapons during major battles in Iraq that year. Continue reading

June 22, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Veteran of Chernobyl nuclear clean-up: HBO TV episode was very accurate

Chernobyl Episode 4 Scene | HBO | Graphite Clearing

This man knows what it’s really like shovelling radioactive debris on top of Chernobyl’s reactor ABC News , 21 June 19

Key points:

  • At age 32, Jaan Krinal was forced to go to Chernobyl and clean the roof of the reactor
  • He says men were initially enthusiastic to help eliminate the radiation
  • One-third of the men of his town he served with in Chernobyl have died

When he left his wife and two children on May 7, 1986 and went to work, Jaan Krinal didn’t know he would be one of those people.

The 32-year-old was working on a state-owned farm in Soviet-occupied Estonia.

Because he’d been forced to complete the Soviet military’s retraining a year before, he was confused when officers surprised him at work and said he’d been called up again — immediately.

Jaan and 200 other men were taken to a nearby school. Once they’d walked through the door, no-one was allowed to leave.

The men’s passports were seized before they were loaded onto buses and taken to a forest, where they were told to slip into brand new army uniforms.

“That’s when I first questioned what’s really going on here,” Jaan recalls………

Workers told radiation could have health benefits

It all happened fast.

Hundreds of men boarded a Ukraine-bound train on May 8. By the next evening, they were setting up camp on the edge of Chernobyl’s exclusion zone.

They were just 30 kilometres away from the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster — the still-smouldering wreckage of a reactor torn apart by a series of explosions and spewing radiation in a plume across Europe.

Jaan was among the first group sent to clean up in the aftermath of the catastrophe.

Tasked with hosing down radiation on the houses in nearby villages, he was thrown into the thick of it……

Despite the apparent uselessness of the job, they continued to work 11-hour days without a day off until the end of June. After that, they had two days of downtime a month.

As the weeks rolled on, suspicions grew.

“We started to have doubts. But all the officers said, ‘Why are you fretting, the radiation levels aren’t that high.”

In a cruel irony, the commanders told the men that being exposed to radiation would actually have health benefits.

“They joked that whoever has cancer can now get rid of it — because the radiation helps,” Jaan says.

Men unaware of deadly reason behind roof time limit

By the end of September, whatever enthusiasm the men initially felt had faded.

As many developed a cough, concerns grew about whether they were being lied to about the radiation being harmless. The respirators the men were given wouldn’t stay on because of the heat and were used until they got holes in them.

Later they found they should have been replaced every day…….

A rumour had it that the very last leg of the assignment was going on the roof of the reactor to clean up as much debris as possible.

Humans were going to be given a task that remote-control robots had previously attempted, but failed. The machines simply stopped working due to the unprecedented levels of radiation.

“When they told us, ‘You have to go to the roof’, we thought, ‘Oh, this means we can go home soon’,” he says.

On the day, he changed his army uniform for a protective suit, glasses and a gas mask, and a metal groin guard.

“We were all lined up and told, ‘who doesn’t want to go on the roof, step forward’. But only a couple of us did,” he says.

“There was no mass rejection. Most people went up there.

“It had to be done. We couldn’t just leave it. I think everyone realised the longer the reactor would have stayed open, the more dangerous it would have become.”

Jaan was shown on a small screen exactly which piece of debris he had to pick up with a shovel and throw off the roof of the reactor, but strictly warned against going too close to the edge.

He had two minutes to complete the assignment — a bell would ring to tell him when to run back.

The two-minute timeframe was to limit exposure to radiation, which could kill a man.

But this wasn’t communicated to the men at the time.

Jaan says the roof-cleaning scene depicted in HBO’s mini-series Chernobyl mirrored real life events…….

A staggering one-third of the men of his town who went to Chernobyl have died.

The average age of death has been 52.

“Over the past couple of years, just a couple of us have died. But not too long ago it was around 10 men a year,” he says.

“There have been cancers. There have been suicides too, but thankfully not too many.”……

he hopes tourists won’t start flocking to the ghost city.

“I hope they’ll never start sending large groups of tourists there. It’s still a dangerous zone,” he says.

He hasn’t seen the mini-series, but welcomes the attention Chernobyl disaster is getting — he thinks it acts as a warning to the human kind.

June 22, 2019 Posted by | - incidents, General News, wastes | Leave a comment

Poor market prospects for nuclear power

Nuclear Power: The Future of the Global Market, 2024 — Unprecedented Rise of Renewable Energy Set to Dent Market Prospects for Nuclear Power

Yahoo Finance PR Newswire  Research and Markets, June 22, 2019   “……….ISSUES & CHALLENGES
Unprecedented Rise of Renewable Energy Set to Dent Market Prospects for Nuclear Power
Wind and Solar Expansion Lead to Renewable Power Revolution
High Capital Intensiveness of Nuclear Power Plants
Despite Ongoing Evolution in Nuclear Reactor Technologies, Nuclear Construction Hits Numerous Roadblocks
Construction Status of Major Generation III+ Nuclear Power Plants Worldwide
Factors Responsible for Construction Delays and Ongoing Efforts for Extending Operational Lifetime of NPPs…..

June 22, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Extinction Rebellion activists occupy four Australian cities protesting Adani, 

Extinction Rebellion activists occupy four Australian cities protesting Adani, Protesters are ramping up anti-Adani demonstrations – tonight taking over four major CBDs – as works on the controversial mine get underway.

The Carmichael Coal Mine received its final environmental approvals to begin work on the central Queensland project, after nearly a decade of opposition and debate.

Queensland’s Environment Department last week approved the mine’s groundwater management plan, ultimately giving it the final go-ahead.

Around 60 people have begun construction activity that includes work on the mine access road……

June 22, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

UN Investigator: ‘Credible Evidence’ Ties Saudi Crown Prince, Khashoggi Death — Mining Awareness +

From VOA News: “UN Investigator: ‘Credible Evidence’ Ties Saudi Crown Prince, Khashoggi Death By VOA News June 19, 2019 05:48 PM There is “credible evidence” linking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October in Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul, a U.N. rights investigator said Wednesday. Agnes Callamard, the U.N. […]

via UN Investigator: ‘Credible Evidence’ Ties Saudi Crown Prince, Khashoggi Death — Mining Awareness +

June 22, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 21 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Are We Heading For A New Tanker War?” • Tankers were blazing in the Gulf. We’ve been here before. America and Iran came to blows in the same waters 28 years ago. Ships were attacked, crew members killed and injured. Before it was over, an Iranian airliner had been shot out of the […]

via June 21 Energy News — geoharvey

June 22, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Energy Insiders Podcast: Mining industry turns to wind, solar, batteries and hydrogen — RenewEconomy

The mining industry is going green – at least in its electricity supply. A special “live” podcast from the Energy and Mines conference in Perth. The post Energy Insiders Podcast: Mining industry turns to wind, solar, batteries and hydrogen appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Energy Insiders Podcast: Mining industry turns to wind, solar, batteries and hydrogen — RenewEconomy

June 22, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Miners see 50% renewables as standard, but are aiming for 100% — RenewEconomy

Miners turn corner on renewables, with minimum 50% wind and solar considered the norm, and looking to use cheap renewables to build industries rather than just export ore. The post Miners see 50% renewables as standard, but are aiming for 100% appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Miners see 50% renewables as standard, but are aiming for 100% — RenewEconomy

June 22, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Berrybank wind farm begins construction with turbines made locally in old car factory — RenewEconomy

The 180MW Berrybank wind farm will use turbines constructed in a former car factory in Geelong. The post Berrybank wind farm begins construction with turbines made locally in old car factory appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Berrybank wind farm begins construction with turbines made locally in old car factory — RenewEconomy

June 22, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BHP energy tender could deliver “game changing” shift to renewables — RenewEconomy

BHP puts its Chile and Australian electricity contracts out to tender, and expects renewables to feature strongly in “game-changing” shift. The post BHP energy tender could deliver “game changing” shift to renewables appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via BHP energy tender could deliver “game changing” shift to renewables — RenewEconomy

June 22, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment