Australian news, and some related international items

The week that has been in nuclear news – Australia

Teetering about on the edge of nuclear war –  that seems to be Donald Trump’s favoured position for the world. Or is it just that he is determined to be the dramatic centre of attention at all times? Trump has just threatened Iran with ‘obliteration’, (hardly something designed to give the Iranians confidence about peaceful negotiation). Meanwhile Trump  received a “beautiful” letter from North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who in turn received an “excellent” letter from Trump, although actual negotiations between USA and North Korea are at a standstill.  It would be funny, if it were not so serious.

A bit of good news:  ‘Projects For Good’ – This Ingenious Website Makes it Easier to Change the World



Problem of Western Australia’s enormous lithium mining tailings dump.  New explorer for rare earths in W.A. – doesn’t mention processing, or radioactive wastes.

CLIMATE. Sydney Mayor Clover Moore declares city climate emergency .  Climate change bringing sea-level rise to Victoria’s low-lying towns and suburbs.  Environmental groups are now considering a legal challenge To Queensland’s approval of Adani mine.  Extinction Rebellion activists occupy four Australian cities protesting Adani.

Australian States taking the lead on energy policy, as renewable energy generates more Queensland jobs than coal does.

RENEWABLE ENERGY.     Mining industry turns to wind, solar, batteries and hydrogenRooftop solar throws massive curve ball to world’s most isolated grid. Australian Capital Territory ACT looks beyond 2020 renewables target, seals community solar off-take dealGannawarra battery-integrated solar farm – Australia’s largest – officially opened.   Beryl solar farm reaches full output after single month of commissioning.


The Middle East presents a dangerous nexus of nuclear reactors and violence: military action is still an option. “It’s absolutely essential to avoid any form of escalation in the Gulf” – UN Secretary-General Antonio GuterresWorld’s nuclear weapons – fewer in number, but not safer.

Nuclear power to solve climate change? Too many sound reasons against it.

Researchers Find Radioactive Particles from Fukushima or other Nuclear Disasters Could Stay in Environment, Human Lungs for Decades.

The world’s societies on the brink of unmanageable climate chaos. Worrying feedback loop between damaged ozone layer and climate change.


June 25, 2019 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Busting the spin of Australia’s pro nuclear propagandists

A Powerful Depiction’: Chernobyl Workers Reflect On HBO Series


ABC’s Media Watch takes aim at nuclear misinformation and bias

The ABC’s Media Watch program last night took aim at Australia’s pro-nuclear propagandists and the extreme bias of Australia’s nuclear ‘debate’.

Media Watch discussed HBO’s hit miniseries ‘Chernobyl’, which tops IMDB’s list of the greatest TV shows of all time, and took aim at Andrew Bolt and others for trivialising the death toll (discussed here) and for ignoring the broader impacts of the disaster such as the permanent relocation of 350,000 people and the thousands of children who suffered thyroid cancer due to exposure to radioactive fallout.

Dr Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, said: “Nuclear lobbyists argued that Chernobyl was a result of the dysfunctional Soviet system and that a similar disaster couldn’t happen in Western countries. That argument collapsed with the March 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. Nuclear disasters can happen anywhere and a nuclear disaster anywhere is a nuclear disaster everywhere due to the spread of radioactive fallout. Chernobyl’s radioactive fallout contaminated the whole of Europe and Fukushima fallout reached northern Australia.”

“In addition to their other devastating impacts, nuclear disasters greatly increase the overall cost of nuclear power. The cost of the Chernobyl disaster is estimated at over one trillion dollars [US$700 billion] and the Fukushima disaster could prove to be just as expensive.”

Citing a recent expert analysis, Media Watch noted that nuclear power “doesn’t even get to first base on cost” and took nuclear lobbyists to task for failing to acknowledge the extraordinarily high cost of nuclear power (all reactors under construction in western Europe and north America are estimated to cost $14‒24 billion each while the South Carolina reactor project was abandoned in 2017 after the expenditure of at least A$12.9 billion).

Dr Green said: “Dr Ziggy Switkowski used to be Australia’s most prominent supporter of nuclear power and he led the Howard government’s nuclear review in 2006. But nuclear costs have increased four-fold since then and Dr Switkowski has acknowledged that the window for large-scale nuclear power in Australia has closed as renewables are clearly cheaper.

“John Howard was no anti-nuclear ideologue yet he had the good sense to ban nuclear power. Prime Minister Scott Morrison needs to state unambiguously that the legislation banning nuclear power in Australia will remain in place,” Dr Green concluded.

Contact: Dr Jim Green 0417 318 368  More information:  Last night’s Media Watch segment on nuclear power (video and transcript)   A recent detailed article by Dr Green, cited by Media Watch.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Ignorance of the Morrison Government on the scientific and medical aspects of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Fukushima, the ‘nuclear renaissance’ and the Morrison Government,12834

By Helen Caldicott | 25 June 2019 Now that the “nuclear renaissance” is dead following the Fukushima catastrophe, when one-sixth of the world’s nuclear reactors closed, the nuclear corporations – Toshiba, Nu-Scale, Babcock and Wilcox, GE Hitachi, Cameco, General Atomics and the Tennessee Valley Authority – will not accept defeat, nor will the ill-informed Morrison Government.

Fancy giving the go-ahead the day before the 2019 Federal Election was announced for the Yeelirrie Uranium Mine in Western Australia, with no time for rational and informed input or debate! The fact is that Canadian Cameco, the world’s largest uranium miner and processor, wants to mine this uranium. Our alliance with spurious organisations clearly leads us astray.

To be quite frank, almost all of our politicians are scientifically and medically ignorant and in an age where scientific evolution has become extraordinarily sophisticated, it behoves us – as legitimate members of democracy – to both educate ourselves and our naive and ignorant politicians for they are not our leaders, they are our representatives.

Many of these so-called representatives are now being cajoled into believing that electricity production in Australia could benefit from a new form of atomic power in the form of small modular reactors (SMRs), allegedly free of the dangers inherent in large reactors — safety issues, high cost, proliferation risks and radioactive waste.

But these claims are fallacious, for the reasons outlined below. Continue reading

June 25, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, technology | Leave a comment

Decommissioning, nuclear waste disposal – Holtec really has no incentive to make this safe for the long term

Nuclear Moral Hazard Recent sales of U.S. nuclear plants raise questions about safety, liability, and economic incentives.  (Today’s post is co-authored with Catherine Hausman, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan.)Davis, Lucas and Catherine Hausman. “Nuclear Moral Hazard”, Energy Institute Blog, UC Berkeley, June 24, 2019,Last week, a company called Holtec International received federal approval to acquire New Jersey’s Oyster Creek nuclear power plant. Except Oyster Creek shut down last fall and will never produce another kilowatt-hour. Holtec is buying it to tear it down. It will be responsible for decommissioning the site, including managing spent fuel and other radioactive waste.

The Oyster Creek sale is one of several such recent transactions in which a U.S. nuclear plant is being sold by a large publicly-traded company to a smaller privately-owned company specializing in decommissioning. Though the other sales are pending approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, it is not too soon to consider the potential implications for safety and the environment.

The U.S. nuclear industry has a strong record of safe operations. Historically, most owners of U.S. nuclear plants have been large companies, with significant “skin in the game” in terms of profitability and reputation if something were to go wrong. Do smaller companies have the same incentives? ………

Old Regime – Incentive for Safety

But, these nuclear asset transfers could have a big downside. In the past, safe operations meant that nuclear plants could make more money. We suspect that these economic incentives partly account for the good safety record of U.S. nuclear plants. Nuclear power plant owners worked hard to avoid problems because plant shutdowns are costly for plant owners.

Take Entergy, for example. At its peak, Entergy owned eight U.S. nuclear power plants, over 9,000 megawatts of nuclear capacity. With a large portfolio on the line, Entergy had an enormous incentive to make sure all its plants kept running without incident.

In short, under the old regime, it was profitable for nuclear operators to be extremely safe.

New Regime – Less to Lose

But that argument applied in an era when plants were actually generating electricity. Once plants close, this mechanism is no longer relevant – there are no operating profits on the line. Now the way to maximize profits is to minimize costs; so companies specializing in decommissioning will be working hard to figure out how to perform these functions as cheaply as possible.

And the reputation-based incentives also change. Before, companies worried that any problem at any plant would risk their reputation and thus their whole business – including other plants they owned and possibly including non-nuclear assets. But what about the new owners?  Smaller companies have less to lose.

Bankruptcy protection is also an issue. For a company like Entergy with a $19 billion dollar market capitalization, only a large incident would put it out of business. Not true for a smaller company. Economists have long argued that bankruptcy protection raises a moral hazard problem – with “judgment proof” companies having less incentive to act safely. 

Following in the Footsteps of Oil and Gas?

A similar moral hazard problem arises with oil and gas wells. Our colleague Judd Boomhower has writtenabout how small oil and gas producers face adverse incentives for safety and environmental risk. If the small oil and gas producer declares bankruptcy, it is not responsible for accident clean-up costs. Judd’s research shows that this can lead to less safe operating practices. Relatedly, the American West has thousands of “abandoned” wells that have not been properly remediated, many “owned” by companies that have gone bankrupt. Similar problems have shown up also with coal mines and offshore oil infrastructure. And the stakes for the nuclear sites are tremendous – across the country, we’re talking billions of dollars in anticipated clean-up costs.

Big Role for Regulation

When economic incentives alone do not ensure safe and thorough decommissioning, regulation should play a larger role. The new owners of these plants are inheriting substantial decommissioning funds, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has stated that it will be monitoring financial viability closely throughout the decommissioning process. But what happens if the new owners run out of money? Where will the necessary funds come from if the decommissioning funds prove insufficient to cover costs?

This is new territory for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. As the U.S. nuclear generation fleet heads toward retirement, the NRC needs to pivot away from regulating construction and operation, and toward regulating decommissioning and fuel storage. Given the incentive issues these sales raise, it is critical that the NRC get up to speed quickly on the emerging risks.

Decommissionings at several recently-closed plants are aiming for accelerated timelines, which could be good or bad for safety. Between that and the specialized expertise that the new owners are bringing, the sales could turn out to be a win for the public. But the economic incentives for proper decommissioning are not very reassuring, and it’s not clear that regulations are ready to fill that gap.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

MP Justine Elliot reaffirms strong opposition to nuclear power on NSW and Gold coasts

Elliot opposes nuclear power  24 June 19,From Kyshtym to Lucens, Three Mile Island, Marcoule, Fukushima, Mihama, Paks, Tokaimura, and let’s not forget Chernobyl (and the list goes on), plutonium is forever.

Nuclear energy is dangerous, and there will always be opposition to this controversial power source.

Local MP Justine Elliot has reaffirmed her longstanding opposition to nuclear power after recent comments made by Gold Coast Liberal Minister Karen Andrews. Last week Minister Karen Andrews told Sky News she ‘doesn’t have an issue with it (nuclear energy) being considered.’ (SKY AM AGENDA – 18/06/2019)

Elliot says the community on the North Coast does have a major issue with nuclear energy. ‘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.’

Ms Elliot says as the local Federal MP her message to the Prime Minister is – no nuclear power. ‘Not On My Watch!’

Elliot says the Liberal National government needs to come clean on their plans for nuclear power and reassure the 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.

‘I have a long record of opposition to nuclear power and stand with my local community who have made it clear they don’t want it in our area.’

Nuclear power plants are illegal in Australia. Section 140A of the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act explicitly rules out the development of nuclear installations.

‘The pressure is now on Scott 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.

‘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.’

June 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

BHP’s Olympic Dam uranium mine: tailings dump to larger than Adelaide and up to 30 metres high

David Noonan shared a link. No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia    June 22 19
BHP Olympic Dam Tailings dump to be larger than the CBD of Adelaide AND to be up to 30 metres high at the centre of the tailings pile – around the height of a 10 story building.
All BHP Olympic Dam radioactive toxic mine tailings waste must be isolated from the environment for over 10,000 years…
Please consider making a submission to the federal government who are inviting comments on the BHP Olympic Dam Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) 6 project – but only up to cob Friday 28th June, with no extensions (scroll down for info). Tell the fed’s they must not just approve this TSF 6 on the basis of the vested interest BHP Referral documents.
Key Recommendations are provided along with two Briefing papers prepared for Friends of the Earth Australia (FoEA) and available on-line:
“BHP seek a Toxic Tailings Expansion without a full Safety Risk Assessment” (DN, June 2019, 3 pages)
“Migratory Birds at Risk of Mortality if BHP continues use of Evaporation Ponds” (DN, June 2019, 3 pages)
A set of Key Recommendations on these issues to put to the federal government:
1. The Olympic Dam operation be assessed in its entirety with the full range of project impacts subject to public consultation
Given that uranium mining at Olympic Dam is a controlled “nuclear action” and Matter of National Environmental Significance (NES) under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the integrity of environmental protection requires that the entire Olympic Dam operation be subject to impact assessment so that regulatory conditions can be applied “to consider impacts on the whole environment”. Continue reading

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Olympic Dam, politics, South Australia, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Russia is secretive about its nuclear wastes. Europe’s environmentalists are concerned.

Environmentalists concerned about where Andreyeva Bay spent nuclear fuel is being sent  Bellona, June 24, 2019 by Anna Kireeva, translated by Charles Digges

Representatives from Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear corporation, have sought to sooth environmentalist over concerns that removing tons of spent nuclear fuel from an old submarine base near Murmansk won’t cause further contamination risks at Mayak, the country’s notorious fuel reprocessor, located 3,000 kilometers to the south.

The submarine base is Andreyeva Bay, situated 60 kilometers east of Russia’s Norwegian border, and its cleanup is one of the most important joint environmental efforts that Oslo and Moscow have taken on in decades. Bellona has been at the forefront of advocating for the removal of the base’s 22,000 spent nuclear submarine fuel rods, which threaten to contaminate the Barents Sea.

After years of negotiations among Bellona, and the governments of Norway and Russia, removal of the fuel at Andreyeva Bay finally began in June of 2017. From there it is taken to Mayak, near the Ural Mountain city of Chelyabinsk, for treatment and reprocessing.

But Mayak has a checkered past. Now one of he world’s most voluminous nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities, the Mayak Production Association is also responsible for decades of nuclear contamination throughout the Ural region.

The Russian government also has a history of covering up that contamination, and it was these concerns that some environmentalists brought to a press conference in Tromsø, Norway when a joint Russian-Norwegian Commission on nuclear submarine disposal wrapped up on Friday.

Vitaly Servetnik, co-chairman of the Russian Social-Ecological Union, was among the environmentalists who attended the press conference, which was a first time event for the Commission, which has traditionally closed its doors to the press and the public.

“Sending spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste from the Murmansk region to the Chelyabinsk Region, in our opinion, is not only moving the problem from one region to another through the whole country, but also aggravating existing problems in the areas around the Mayak plant,” Servetnik said, addressing the commission. “In addition, there is no information available to us about how much and what kind of waste is being brought there.”

It’s necessary to point out that Russia doesn’t view spent nuclear fuel as waste. The Russian nuclear industry — like the ones Britain and France but unlike the one in the United States — adopts a closed nuclear fuel cycle. This means that it treats spent nuclear fuel – including the submarine fuel found at Andreyeva Bay, as a resource from which more fuel can be synthesized.

At present, and for the foreseeable future, Mayak is the only facility in Russia capable of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. Simply not taking the spent nuclear fuel from Andreyeva Bay to Mayak, as Servetnik suggests, is therefore a technological impossibility for Russia’s nuclear industry.

Servetnik also expressed concern about the transparency about how Mayak is run, and how difficult it is to get information about its procedures if an environmental group is not a member of Rosatom’s public council.

“The real situation at Mayak is much worse than what Rosatom representatives are telling us about it,” he said at the conference.

Rosatom representatives who were present fundamentally disagreed with Servetnik’s statement……….

After the conclusion of the conference, Servetnik and other environmentalists who attended weren’t reassured by Rosatom’s insistence that they need not worry about the fuel transfers from Andreyeva Bay to Mayak.

“The state corporation views the movement of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel as part of an integrated process,” he said. “If that’s the case, then all of the attention the Russian and international community devoted to the project of cleaning up Andreyeva Bay should now be devoted to Chelyabinsk Region [where Mayak is located].”

Andrei Zolotkov, who heads Bellona’s Murmansk office, agrees that much of Mayak’s environmental history leaves much to be desired, that that its transparency about its activities past and present is required.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Deep Isolation – a nuclear waste disposal method that could be part of shutting down the nuclear industry

I don’t usually post James Conca’s work, as he is a propaganda voice for the nuclear industry. Here he’s praising a nuclear waste disposal  technology, because Conca sees it as being able to ensure that the radioactive trash might later be retrieved, and, miraculously, function as fuel for nuclear fast breeder reactor. 

However, this technology has advantages in the cause of PERMANENT disposal of used nuclear fuel rods – disposal that could be done fairly close to the point of origin – each nuclear power station.

This has promise as a viable technique, as part of PERMANENT SHUTDOWN OF THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY.

Deep Borehole Nuclear Waste Disposal Just Got A Whole Lot More Likely, Forbes, James Conca, 24 June 19  Deep Isolation is a recent start-up company from Berkeley that seeks to dispose of nuclear waste safely at a much lower cost than existing strategies.

The Deep Isolation strategy begins with a one-mile vertical access drillhole that curves into a two-mile horizontal direction where the waste is stored. The horizontal repository portion has a slight upward tilt that provides additional isolation, and isolating any mechanisms that could move radioactive constituents upward. They would have to move down first, then up, something that cannot occur by natural processes.


The borehole technology was developed to frack natural gas and oil wells, but Deep Isolation realized it could dispose of nuclear waste just as well.

Today the company announced it was partnering with nuclear giant Bechtel National, Inc. to bring Deep Isolation’s patented technology to fruition……. The idea of deep borehole disposal for nuclear waste is not new, but Deep Isolation is the first to consider horizontal wells and is the first to actually demonstrate the concept in the field (see figure), showing that the technology is not just theoretical. The field demonstration occurred on January 16th when it placed and retrieved a waste canister from thousands of feet underground.

The technology takes advantage of recently developed fracking technologiesto place nuclear waste in a series of two-mile-long tunnels, a mile below the Earth’s surface, where they’ll be surrounded by a very tight rock known as shale. This type of shale is so tight that it takes fracking technology to get any oil or gas out of it at all. ……..

Under this new agreement, Bechtel will provide support such as project management, financial/business and engineering capability for Deep Isolation’s sales in both domestic and international markets, including those with the U.S. Department of Energy. Deep Isolation will provide options to support Bechtel’s cleanup work at federal government sites around the country. Deep Isolation could also be a key player in Bechtel’s decommissioning contracts at commercial nuclear power plants in the U.S. and worldwide.

James Taylor, general manager of Bechtel’s Environmental business line, said, “Deep geologic disposal is the scientific consensus for permanently removing and disposing used nuclear fuel and high-level waste from their current locations around the country. We have long-term expertise in design, engineering and licensing, as well as the boots-on-the-ground experience with the everyday challenges of cleaning up radioactive waste. “…..


June 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate change and damaged ozone layer are having a feedback effect on each other

Damage to the ozone layer and climate change forming feedback loop
New report finds that impacts of ozone-driven climate change span the ecosystem  June 24, 2019  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Increased solar radiation penetrating through the damaged ozone layer is interacting with the changing climate, and the consequences are rippling through the Earth’s natural systems, effecting everything from weather to the health and abundance of sea mammals like seals and penguins.
Increased solar radiation penetrating through the damaged ozone layer is interacting with the changing climate, and the consequences are rippling through the Earth’s natural systems, effecting everything from weather to the health and abundance of sea mammals like seals and penguins. These findings were detailed in a review article published today in Nature Sustainability by members of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Environmental Effects Assessment Panel, which informs parties to the Montreal Protocol.

What we’re seeing is that ozone changes have shifted temperature and precipitation patterns in the southern hemisphere, Continue reading

June 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The reason Australia doesn’t have nuclear power: the workers fought back

The movement’s real strength always depended on its grassroots – on the willingness of activists to defy the rightwingers in Labor and the unions, even to the extent of facing arrest.

The reason Australia doesn’t have nuclear power: the workers fought back  Jeff Sparrow Workers have been fighting uranium mining for decades – the environment needs mass civil disobedience  @Jeff_Sparrow 24 Jun 2019 

What do Clive PalmerTony AbbottCory BernardiBarnaby JoyceMark LathamJim MolanCraig KellyEric Abetz and David Leyonhjelm have in common?

No doubt many answers will come to to mind. But whatever else unites them, they all support nuclear power.

Jim Green from Friends of the Earth Australia, which compiled the above list, says that nuclear energy now functions more as a culture war troll than a serious policy, not least because the people who want atomic solution to climate change are usually the same people (as the group above illustrates) who don’t believe climate change requires a solution at all.

Despite the best efforts of Queensland conservatives, Australia will not go nuclear. The former chair of Uranium King, Warwick Grigor, says flatly: “No one is going down that path in the foreseeable future.” Even industry boosters see nuclear power stations as feasible only if the government introduces, um, a carbon tax, a proposal to which the culture warriors would react like vampires to garlic.

Nevertheless, progressives should discuss nuclear energy and climate change, if only because the campaign we need against coal can learn from the historic struggle against a different mineral. Continue reading

June 25, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, uranium | Leave a comment

 Production at Australia’s only nuclear medicine facility halted after ‘safety incident’ 

Two workers exposed to unsafe radiation dose at Lucas Heights nuclear facility, Guardian, Michael McGowan

 Production at Australia’s only nuclear medicine facility halted after ‘safety incident’   Production has ceased and an urgent investigation has been launched after two employees at a newly opened Australian nuclear medicine facility at Lucas Heights were exposed to an unsafe dose of radiation late last week.Just two weeks after it was granted a licence to enter into full domestic production, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto) has confirmed production at its new $168m nuclear medicine facility has been halted after “a safety incident” on Friday morning.

Ansto said three of its workers were “attended to by radiation protection personnel” after the incident, in which contamination was detected on the outside of a container holding 42 millilitres of the radioisotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99).

Two of those workers received a radiation dose above the legal limit roughly equivalent to a conventional cancer radiation therapy treatment, an Ansto spokesman said……

Located at the Lucas Heights nuclear facility in Sydney’s south, the $168m nuclear medicine facility was announced by the federal government in 2012 with the goal of tripling Australian production of Mo-99, the parent isotope of Technetium-99m. …..

It is the second contamination scare at the Lucas Heights facility in only a few months.

In March three staff at the Lucas Heights nuclear facility were taken to hospital after they were exposed to sodium hydroxide when a cap came off a pipe in the nuclear medicine manufacturing building.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | - incidents, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Lithium is valuable for many clean devices, but we can’t just ignore the wastes from its mining

Enormous lithium waste dump plan shows how shamefully backward we are SMH, Emma Young, 25 June 19 Emma Young covers breaking news with a focus on science and environment, health and social justice for WAtoday.  We are all – well, all of us who are privileged enough – existing on a spectrum somewhere between “concerned” and “downright panicking” about human impact on the environment.

We look forward to the day our economy transitions to 100 per cent renewable energy, the sun and wind power our homes and lithium batteries store this energy to be used when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining.But here’s the rub: the lithium used to make these batteries must be torn from underground, just like oil, gas and coal.

Western Australia holds some of the world’s richest known lithium deposits and now has an emerging industry to process that lithium here, not just ship it to China as previously done.

It’s part of a plan to make us more than just the world’s quarry; a bigger player in an industry promising big money, and bring jobs and industry to the South West.

But we have run up against a reality, in the very recognisable area of the Ferguson Valley: a reality predictable, yet startling.

Lithium mining will leave its own scars on a landscape already littered with tens of thousands of abandoned mining voids, pits, equipment and piles of tailings – and create its own waste.

In WA’s South West, processing of spodumene ore from the Greenbushes lithium mine will result in 600,000 tonnes per year of waste material being dumped – or ‘stacked’, if you want the euphemism – only 3.5km outside the charming little town of Dardanup.

Let me repeat that: 600,000 tonnes per year.

The existing landfill there, where Cleanaway has applied to take the spodumene tailings to, is already highly visible from the road as you drive towards the region’s flagship wineries.

The application has offended the residents who already put up with dust, rubbish and runoff from the existing and already enormous landfill site.

They are being told that the number of jobs the industry will create for WA justifies the intrusion on their idyll.

To them, it’s on the nose.

And it’s not just sand and dirt. It’s waste of a kind so new to Australia that they had to get samples from China to find out what to classify it as.

Cleanaway submitted to the EPA that it was inert and non-toxic waste.

Yet no sustainable market exists for its reuse.

“By storing tailings in dedicated storage cells, in the event a sustainable market for reuse was developed, the material might one day be recovered,” it submitted, optimistically, to the Environment Protection Authority considering its proposal.

Somehow, I find it hard to believe that it is any miner or processor’s priority to find or develop such a market.

Subject to EPA and Joint Development Assessment Panel approvals, this waste will pile up in Dardanup for decades…….

June 25, 2019 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australia is unprepared for the idea of “the circular economy” – but it is already core policy for many countries

A radical economic shift is coming but Canberra isn’t talking about it, SMH, By Lisa McLean, June 25, 2019  Over the next decade, the Australian economy will be hit with a radical transformation that will forever change our approach to consumption – but no one is talking about it in Canberra yet.

The transition away from our linear economy where we use and then throw away nearly all of the products we buy and consume to a circular economy where we repair, reuse and share is already gaining traction around the world.

When the G20 meets in Osaka this Friday, June 28, this phenomenon – already happening at the grass roots up, kick started by many communities and regions who rely on bartering and communal vegetable patches – is set to be raised as one of the few viable economic pathways out of our global consumption-climate-biodiversity crisis.

The world simply doesn’t have enough virgin resources to support the 10 billion people who will be on our planet by 2050.
We have exceeded our planetary boundaries and as a consequence the rapid and significant destruction of our biosphere is going to impact on health and livelihood of all people. It will lead to collapse of fish stocks, water scarcity, soil erosion, air pollution, global deforestation, biodiversity loss and the list goes on.

The circular economy is now core policy for a growing number of countries with leadership from Finland, the European Union and Canada, but it is also taking a strong hold in Asia as Japan and China implement circular economic policies to transition them to a sustainable inclusive future………

June 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Rooftop solar throws massive curve ball to world’s most isolated grid — RenewEconomy

The growth of rooftop solar in W.A. means the world’s biggest isolated grid could be a blueprint for the planning of a distributed energy system. The post Rooftop solar throws massive curve ball to world’s most isolated grid appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Rooftop solar throws massive curve ball to world’s most isolated grid — RenewEconomy

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 24 Energy News — geoharvey

World: ¶ “Power Purchase Agreements For 1 GW Of Solar Projects Approved In Gujarat” • PPAs for 1 GW of grid-connected solar PV projects tendered and auctioned by the Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited were approved by the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission. The tariffs ranged from ₹2.44/kWh (3.38¢/kWh) to ₹2.68/kWh (3.7¢/kWh). [Mercom India] ¶ “The […]

via June 24 Energy News — geoharvey

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment