Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s right-wing push for nuclear power is really a ruse to promote the coal industry

Wren’s Week: Out with Medicare and in with nuclear power   Independent Australia  By John Wren | 27 July 2019 “………..In the last week or so, too, there has been an upswing in calls for nuclear power in Australia. Interestingly, the calls are being made by all the old die-hard coal freaks in the Liberal and National Parties. Barnaby Joyce was prominent, with a harebrained scheme to offer free electricity to people whose homes are within sight of the plant.

Nuclear power has also been discussed amongst all the “looney fringe” on Sky News (after dark). The Energy Minister Angus “Watergate” Taylor was put under extreme pressure during Question Time by the Labor Party. He was visibly flustered. Taylor is not a strong performer at the Despatch Box. It culminated with him “not ruling out” nuclear power.

What is interesting about the sudden interest in nuclear power from the coalists is that it is actually a ploy to burn more coal. In the incredibly unlikely scenario that a nuclear power plant is built in Australia, it will take at least ten years to be functional. From a climate change perspective, that’s far too long regardless. It’s another ten years of coal consumption.

While we argue and debate the pros and cons of nuclear power, we are also continuing to burn coal. It’s a ruse and Australians should not be sucked in by it. Nuclear power is not the answer to Australia’s emissions now. It may have been 20 years ago when it was first mooted, but that time is long gone.,12941

July 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

National Party Member for Gippsland Darren Chester makes reassuring, but rather ambiguous, noises against setting up nuclear power

“No plans” for move to nuclear: MP Latrobe Valley Express, Michelle Slater  , 26 July 19,

July 27, 2019 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Is Fukushima Safe for the Olympics? — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

A recent visit suggests that the repercussions of the 2011 nuclear disaster aren’t over. The New National Stadium at sunset, Tokyo July 25, 2019 The 2020 Olympic torch relay will commence in Fukushima: a place more often associated with a 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster than international sports. That’s no accident: the location is […]

via Is Fukushima Safe for the Olympics? — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

July 27, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anti-Olympics groups want more attention put on event’s downfalls — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

July 23, 2019 Anti-Olympics groups on Tuesday called for the end to the quadrennial international sports event, highlighting the situation surrounding Japan’s disaster-struck Fukushima and its connection to the games, as well as the overall displacement of residents within host cities. With only a year left before the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games begin, members […]

via Anti-Olympics groups want more attention put on event’s downfalls — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

July 27, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To add to its safety problems, ANSTO has had to increase prices for nuclear medicine from the Lucas Heights reactor

Troubled ANSTO raises nuclear medicine prices, THE AUSTRALIAN,   SEAN PARNELL, HEALTH EDITOR,JULY 26, 2019  Australia’s nuclear medicine sector has been hit with price hikes of up to 9 per cent from the government manufacturer despite months of supply problems, safety concerns and breakdowns.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation provides the domestic supply of nuclear medicine, likely to be needed by one in two Australians during their lifetime, and also wants to ramp up its exports.

But amid calls for Australia to also embrace nuclear energy, ANSTO’s reputation has been tarnished by problems at its Lucas Heights facilities that have even required it to rely on imports.

Most recently, after heaters for hydrogen converters failed, ANSTO was forced to bring its new $200 million plant into service before it had all the approvals. Two workers were then exposed to excess radiation, forcing its closure, and yet another investigation by the regulator, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.

An ANSTO spokesman yesterday confirmed the nuclear medicine sector had been asked to pay more than 3-9 per cent more for products…….

Some customers have been lobbying federal Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews to intervene.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, safety | Leave a comment

“Dark money”helped elect Ohio politicians who were conducive to handing out $1.1billion to the nuclear industry

The Ohio legislation reads as if it were designed specifically to undermine the planet’s continued capacity to support a steady human population.

It even ends programs aimed at encouraging Ohio residents to reduce power consumption, through upgrades to appliances or heating and cooling systems

OHIO REPUBLICANS BALKED AT A NUCLEAR BAILOUT, SO THE INDUSTRY ELECTED NEW REPUBLICANS — AND WALKED AWAY WITH $1.1 BILLION The Intercept,   Ryan Grim,  , Akela Lacy  25 July 19  ON TUESDAY, a dark-money effort linked primarily to the Ohio nuclear industry delivered an audacious payoff, as a newly elected state legislature overcame years of opposition to shower a $1.1 billion bailout on two state nuclear plants.

Several dark-money groups spent millions to replace key Republican state legislators in the spring of 2018, followed by a furious lobbying campaign to make sure those new lawmakers elected a new House speaker — one who was amenable to the subsidy. The nuclear industry in Ohio has been on the brink of failure for several years, but previous legislatures had objected to a bailout, reading the writing on the wall: Nuclear power is neither a cost-effective solution for power nor an effective response to climate change, despite hopes for its success.

In April 2018, two nuclear plants, both owned by the electric utility FirstEnergy, filed for bankruptcy and have been threatening to cease operations if not bailed out. They were under increasing pressure to compete with cheaper alternatives, ranging from natural gas to wind and solar. The bankruptcy filings give a glimpse into the company’s political spending: more than $30 million from 2018-2019 on lobbying and campaigns in Ohio and Pennsylvania (where the company also sought a bailout, so far unsuccessfully).

The dark-money effort deployed a variety of vehicles that went by names like the Conservative Leadership Alliance and the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance. Murray Energy, a coal company, also gave heavily to current state House Speaker Larry Householder and his allied candidates, and the bailout from Ohio also includes subsidies to prop up failing coal plants in the state.

The payoff is extraordinary in degree Continue reading

July 27, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear electricity production ‘threatened by heatwaves’

France’s nuclear electricity production ‘threatened by heatwaves’, Rfi, 27 July  19, By RFI with Alison Hird   French electricity giant EDF closed down nuclear reactors at two plants in the south of France this week due to the heatwave. Supporters of nuclear power vaunt its role in de-carbonising energy production but can it still be an energy of the future if the future is likely to be hotter?

July 27, 2019 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

International forum calls for joint church action to end nuclear energy development

International forum calls for joint church action to end nuclear energy development July 26, 2019 [ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] An international forum set up by the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK) – the Anglican Communion in Japan – has issued a statement this week calling for denuclearisation and for churches to join in the campaign for natural energy.

The statement, following a gathering in May, says: “the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station disaster and subsequent damage which occurred as a result of the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake completely shattered the myth of safety and made us aware of the extreme danger of nuclear power generation.”

It states that as long as nuclear power generation is operative, it continues to create dangerous radioactive waste and there is a risk that the technology can at any time be diverted to nuclear weapons and threaten the right to live in peace.

It continues: “no longer should we continue as a society with the economic priority of reliance upon nuclear power generation; we should take a new path, of course practicing power saving and energy conservation, and we should make policy changes to renewable energy . . . Also, we have recognised that, when a nuclear power plant accident occurs, it is irreparable, and is more hazardous than with any other energy source. While on the one hand, grave effects remain now, after eight years have passed, with the passage of time we have become forgetful of the pain and suffering of those afflicted by the disaster.” Continue reading

July 27, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The nuclear industry will be crowing over a strange Ohio law that pushess nuclear and restricts renewables and energy efficiency

Ohio Governor Signs Coal and Nuclear Bailout at Expense of Renewable Energy

Opponents fear the law will send the growing wind and solar industry to neighboring states while Ohio homeowners are stuck boosting old, uneconomical power plants.  Inside Climate News, Dan Gearino,  26 July 19, 

July 27, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson a passionate supporter of the nuclear industry

In Cumbria 25th July 2019 New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged his support for a nuclear
renaissance, the Barrow-based Dreadnaught submarine programme and Northern
Powerhouse Rail in his maiden speech. On nuclear, Copeland MP Trudy
Harrison asked him: “Does the Prime Minister agree that the time is now
for a nuclear renaissance and that Copeland is the centre of nuclear

Mr Johnson replied: “It is time for a nuclear renaissance
and I believe passionately that nuclear must be part of our energy mix and
she is right to campaign for it and it will help us to meet our carbon

His comments were made just days after the Government launched
a consultation into funding large-scale nuclear power stations and an £18
million Government investment into the development of small modular
reactors through a consortium led by Rolls-Royce, and including the
National Nuclear Laboratory, Wood and Nuvia. Opinions are being sought
between now and October 14 on a proposed Nuclear Regulated Asset Base (RAB)
model to fund large power stations.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

First nations rights and colonising practices by the nuclear industry: An Australian battleground for environmental justice 

PDF of full article available on request (

First nations rights and colonising practices by the nuclear industry: An Australian battleground for environmental justice  Jillian K. Marsh and Jim Green

The Extractive Industries and Society  July 2019


This paper highlights current events and original research to explore the tensions between First Nations, industry and government in the context of uranium mining and nuclear waste management in Australia. We outline challenges faced by Aboriginal Australians in their role as custodians of the land, and as community leaders. A critical examination of some of the barriers to First Nations empowerment includes government engagement through legislation and practices that have repeatedly resulted in dispossession and disempowerment of Australian Aboriginal Traditional Owners. Laws ostensibly designed to provide rights and protections to Aboriginal people are repeatedly curtailed or overridden to facilitate nuclear projects—in particular radioactive waste repositories and uranium mines. We argue that existing measures provide feeble rights and protections for Aboriginal people as laws have repeatedly produced outcomes that favour government and industry and deny Aboriginal rights to sovereignty. Our research highlights patterns of colonial oppression that transgress human rights, and frames mining and nuclear waste in a way that lacks a decolonisation strategy and are based on industrial violence. Theoretical understandings of Indigenous sovereignty through a decolonising lens will highlight Indigenous standpoints, the continued contestation of Indigenous peoples’ customary land rights, and the limitations of post-colonial environmental justice.


The government and industry approach to environmental and cultural justice sits uneasily with the principle of free prior and informed consent enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The government approach lacks credibility based on the idea that consultation is somehow an equivalent and acceptable form of a consenting process. Continue reading

July 27, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Rio Tinto moves to own Ranger remediation

Rio Tinto moves to own Ranger remediation, Matthew Stevens, Jul 26, 2019

In pushing Energy Resources Australia towards a potentially controversial capital raising Rio Tinto has moved to take greater ownership of what is arguably the most important mine retirement and clean-up in Australian resources history.

The task ahead is the required $830 million remediation of the Ranger uranium mine, which sits in a necessarily excised pocket of the United Nations World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.

Ranger has been operated by Energy Resources Australia through its often controversial 40-year life. Through that time ERA has been majority owned by Rio Tinto or its Australian forebear, CRA. Currently Rio owns 68.4 per cent of ERA.

But a plan to fill the $400 million or so gap between what Ranger’s remediation is expected to cost and the cash that ERA has at hand to pay for the big clean-up could quite easily see Rio creep to a position that would see the mine operator fully absorbed by the mother ship.

ERA revealed extended discussion with Rio Tinto over how the funding gap would be filled has ended with its Anglo-Australia overseer insisting the only path was for Ranger’s operator to make a renounceable rights issue.

Rio Tinto has committed to take up its full entitlement and to underwrite the balance of any issuance if alternatives are not available.

The erstwhile uranium miner told its minority owners that it is “considering the size, structure and terms” of any potential rights issue “having regard to the interests of ERA as a whole”.

While that is an appropriate expression of independence, the most unlikely outcome here would be an ERA board populated by Rio Tinto appointees will end up doing anything that does not concur with the parent’s view of the company’s future.

The minority question

The most likely question ahead, then, for minority shareholders is going to be whether or not they double-down on a failed punt and back the rights issue needed to sustain the long, costly wind-up of their business?

Whatever the size, structure and terms of the raising Rio Tinto wants ERA to make, it will be material to the minority owners. ERA’s current market capitalisation is $130 million. So tapping the market for even half the shortfall could prove definitively dilutive for those unprepared to throw funds at a business destined to disappear.

In most circumstances this course might be cause to wonder at whether or not this pathway might represent a level of minority shareholder oppression. Rio Tinto’s pitch though is the exception to the rule.

ERA stopped being a miner five years ago and hopes its future might be extended were dashed a few years later when Rio Tinto found itself unable to support the Ranger 3 underground expansion, a conclusion we revealed first in April 2015.

Presently ERA’s only recourse to income is through processing uranium from stockpiled ore. That production will end in 2021 and ERA has a legal obligation to safely close the operation by 2026. The cost of remediation will endure at least half a decade beyond that and so too will the risk to reputation and social licence of any and all shortcomings of that effort.

Quite sensibly, Rio Tinto assesses it fully owns the risk of any failure or future non-compliance. It is regularly reminded of that inescapable reality by the anti-uranium activists, by the increasingly power ESG lobby and by governments state and federal.

RELATED: Rio Tinto worried about ERA’s Ranger uranium mine

The funding proposal sketched out on Thursday announces those warnings were unnecessary. Rio Tinto really does want to own Ranger’s remediation.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

A new, and damning, analysis of the prospects for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

At a global level, the report concludes that, as with the much-heralded ‘nuclear renaissance’ of recent times, SMRs will not be built in any significant scale.
Whether the economies claimed from the use of production line techniques can be achieved will only be known if reactors are built in very large numbers, and at significant cost.
Spending so much time and effort pursuing such an uncertain technology, at a time when the ‘climate emergency’ has now reached the political and public lexicon in requiring urgent attention, does not appear to be an effective use of taxpayer resources.
In the overall view of the report authors, the prospects for SMRs in the UK and Worldwide are limited and not worth the huge levels of effort or finance being proposed for them.

NFLA support joint report with the Nuclear Consulting Group which looks at the prospects of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in the UK and globally and concludes they will not be built to any significant  scale    25 Jul 19

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes cooperating with the Nuclear Consulting Group (NCG) in its development of one of the most detailed analyses of the technologies being developed to create small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) in the UK and around the world. This report concludes there remains fundamental barriers to any significant development of this new nuclear technology, and its prospects for creating some kind of ‘nuclear renaissance’ are unlikely to be realised.

The report has been developed by Professor Stephen Thomas of Greenwich University, Dr Paul Dorfman of University College London and NCG Founder, Professor M V Ramana of British Columbia University, and the NFLA Secretary. (1) The global nuclear industry has put forward SMRs as a panacea to the problems of high cost and the difficulty of financing large nuclear reactors; a ready-made alternative that can fill the gap.

However, as the NCG / NFLA report outlines in detail, there are huge obstacles to overcome. Some of these are technical issues, others are around building up an effective supply chain, while the financing of such schemes will only be possible with significant and large subsidy from the public purse.

The report starts with considering the failures in delivering larger nuclear reactors, and then takes in turn each type of SMR technology that has been put forward by companies involved in the nuclear industry. Continue reading

July 27, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics are showing the nightmare waiting for L.A. in 2028 — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

July 23, 2019 TOKYO — Something unprecedented is happening this week in Japan. Activists from around the world are convening for the first-ever transnational anti-Olympics summit. Tokyo protest groups have teamed up with those from recent host cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Pyeongchang, South Korea, and future hosts, including Los Angeles. The summit coincides […]

via Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics are showing the nightmare waiting for L.A. in 2028 — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

July 27, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The 2020 Olympics Are Likely to Be a Disaster — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

After spending a day with Tokyo’s anti-Olympics organizers, it was clear why they are angry about the 2020 Olympics—and that they are ready to fight. Members of the group Okotowari Olympics 2020 protest outside the Japan Sport Olympic Square. July 22, 2019 By Dave Zirin and Jules Boykoff At first glance, this must appear to […]

via The 2020 Olympics Are Likely to Be a Disaster — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

July 27, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment