Australian news, and some related international items

Yeelirrie uranium project court outcome shows environment laws in need of urgent repair

Conservation groups are calling for state and national environment laws to be strengthened, following today’s confirmation that the Yeelirrie uranium mine approval was valid, despite advice that the project would lead to the extinction of several unique species and was contrary to key principles of environmental law.

Conservationists, Traditional Owners, and supporters of the campaign against the Yeelirrie uranium mine gathered today to hear the news that their legal challenge against the mine approval had been unsuccessful in the WA Supreme Court of Appeal.

Approval for the Yeelirrie mining proposal in the Northern Goldfields of WA was granted during the final days of the Barnett Government, against the recommendations of the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and against the outcome of a subsequent appeal process.

The EPA found that the project would cause the extinction of multiple species of subterranean fauna and the complete loss of a species of saltbush, concluding that the proposal could not meet key objectives of WA’s environmental legislation.

In July 2017, the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) and three senior members of the Tjiwarl Native Title group lodged a Supreme Court challenge seeking to overturn the environmental approval. After this challenge was unsuccessful, the decision was appealed by the applicants.

Vicki Abdullah, Traditional Owner and Tjiwarl Native Holder said, “We are disappointed, but glad we took this to court, to defend our country and expose the problems with environmental law in this state. We won’t give up – our country is too important. We will continue to fight for Yeelirrie and to change the laws.”

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said that the outcome of the case demonstrated that Western Australia’s environmental laws needed to be urgently strengthened.

“This case has confirmed our worst fears – that it is legally admissible for a Minister to sign off on a project against the advice of the EPA and in the knowledge that it would cause the extinction of multiple species.

“The decision demonstrates that our environmental laws are badly broken. Our community fought for these laws decades ago, and they were never intended to be used by a Minister to commit wildlife to extinction.

“We are calling on the McGowan Government to strengthen our environment laws to give proper protection to our wildlife and its habitat, and to ensure that Ministers cannot make decisions which cause wildlife extinction at the stroke of a pen.

“For the sake of all wildlife across our state, we were determined to challenge what we believe was an appalling precedent set by the previous State Government.

“We have been proud to take this action together with three incredible Tjiwarl Traditional Owners who have stood up for over 40 years to protect their sacred lands and culture from uranium mining.

“The case has drawn national and international attention to the issue and prevented early commencement of the mining project.

“Since this legal action commenced, the economic outlook for uranium mining has significantly worsened, and the community resolve to prevent extinction at Yeelirrie has strengthened. There are also a number of significant hurdles that this company needs to pass before it can commence any mining at Yeelirrie.

“Conservation groups will not give up our fight to prevent extinction at Yeelirrie. The project may have passed in the court of law but it has failed the court of public opinion.

“We will consider options for further appeal of this decision, and we will continue to vigorously engage with the project to ensure the highest level of scrutiny is applied at all approval stages.

“The mining company can expect a long, expensive process if they want to continue pursuing plans to mine uranium at Yeelirrie.

“We thank those who have supported this case to be heard by the WA Supreme Court, and the WA Environmental Defenders Office for representing CCWA and the Traditional Owners in the matter.”

Further Comment:

Piers Verstegen, CCWA Director – 0411 557 892
Kerri Anne (to arrange interviews with the Tjiwarl Women) – 0401 909 332

Further Information:


Yeelirrie in the Northern Goldfields is part of the Seven Sisters dreaming and has many important cultural sites, all under threat from the proposed uranium projects. The community has fought against the proposed mine for over 40 years, and neighboring pastoralists have joined the fight in recent years.

The Cameco mining proposal was rejected by the EPA but approved by the Barnett Government.

The approved project would involve:
•    A 9km long open mine pit and processing plant
•    Clearing 2421 hectares of native vegetation
•    Use of 8.7 million litres of water per day
•    Generation of 36 million tonnes of radioactive mine waste to be stored in open pits
•    Extinction of several unique species found nowhere else on Earth

August 1, 2019 Posted by | legal, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Nuclear power has never been financially viable

August 1, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

What would it really take, for Australia to get “its own nuclear deterrent”?

Counting the costs of an ‘independent nuclear deterrent’  The Strategist

31 Jul 2019, Robert Forsyth   “…….. The first question one must ask is whether nuclear deterrence actually works. Counter to Cold War ideology, and with the benefit of hindsight, it’s now quite clear that nuclear weapons have never deterred any aggression against a nuclear-armed state or a state such as Australia that’s a beneficiary of US extended nuclear deterrence.

Some would argue that the 1962 Cuban missile crisis was such a time. However, Khrushchev backed down not for fear of massive US retaliation but because he realised, only just in time, that the biggest danger came from losing control of his own deployed nuclear-armed forces who might start a war the USSR didn’t want.

It’s also significant that US nuclear weapons were irrelevant in the Vietnam War, in which Australia was deeply involved with its largest military commitment since World War II.

Furthermore, and more recently, the risk of nuclear war through miscalculation, mistake or malfunction has, if anything, increased ……

—the UK has decided to continue with its ‘independent nuclear deterrent’ into the 2060s at an estimated cost of around £150 billion.

However, for all the enormous expenditure, the UK Trident is not independent. In reality, the US—which leases its missiles to the UK from a common US pool, and whose technical design and support for every part of the weapon system to target and launch them is critical—can frustrate the UK from using Trident if it disapproves. So, unlike France, the UK has opted for nuclear dependence on the US.

A force of four nuclear-armed ballistic-missile-equipped nuclear-powered submarines (SSBNs) is required to maintain one continuously on patrol. In addition, to maintain its independence from the US, Australia, like France, would need to design and manufacture its own missiles and associated space-launch system, warheads, specialised satellite navigation, targeting and communications systems. And for that it would need to acquire nuclear submarine design, build, operation and maintenance skills. The UK’s decision to rely upon the US for all of that has predictably resulted in a heavy political as well as still onerous financial cost.

Then there’s the need for a nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), plus at least one surface ship and maritime patrol aircraft to protect the deployed SSBN. Experience shows that at least six SSNs are required to have one always available for this task. Keeping one UK SSBN continuously at sea and undetected places huge and growing strains on a now very depleted and imbalanced navy.

In fact, the cost of maintaining a UK ‘deterrent’ has led to the hollowing out of all the UK’s conventional armed forces to the point where it cannot deter, let alone respond effectively to, aggression against the homeland. ……

Australia, with no nuclear propulsion or missile experience to build on, must either be dependent on US technology and support, or embark on an even more costly all-Australian project. I would urge those who advocate either of these approaches to take a long, hard look at the counterproductive effect that sustaining the four UK Trident submarines has had on the defence of the homeland.  Simply put, it has denied our armed services, especially the navy, the equipment and personnel they need to meet the wide variety of today’s actual threats……..

August 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pillars of nuclear arms control are teetering

Pillars of nuclear arms control are teetering
Collapse of the INF treaty could be followed by the expiry of New Start,

Barring a miraculous turnround, a key pillar of the cold war-era nuclear arms control architecture will tumble this week. First the US then Russia suspended participation this year in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned missiles with a range of 500km-5500km, over Washington and Nato’s claims that Moscow has developed missiles breaching the agreement. Unless Russia destroys those missiles by August 2, the US is set to terminate the treaty. This is not just highly dangerous for European security. It is a further step in the unravelling of arms control and rekindling of the nuclear arms race.

More than 40 years of talks between the US and Moscow produced nine significant treaties and agreements to limit and then reduce nuclear weapons. The demise of the INF treaty follows the US withdrawal in 2002 from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty so the country could proceed to develop a missile defence system to counter rockets from “rogue” states such as Iran and North Korea.

Another, bigger, pillar is now teetering. The New Start treaty on reducing strategic nuclear warheads, signed by then US and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, will expire in 2021. Though the treaty terms allow it to be extended to 2026, the Trump administration has dragged its feet on doing so. ……..

The demise of New Start, after the INF deal, would not just remove constraints on a new arms race but leave the two big nuclear powers for the first time in decades without the ability to verify each other’s weapons. After Mr Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous signal to existing and aspiring nuclear weapons states. If the biggest atomic powers see no need to submit to controls, or honour nuclear deals with third countries, why should they?

It may now be too late to rescue the INF deal. But Washington should engage rapidly with Moscow on renewing New Start. …….

August 1, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

New South Wales Parliament inquiries on uranium, nuclear, and energy

Dan Monceaux shared a linkNuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia , 1 Aug 19
In the NSW Parliament there are two inquiries underway that are relevant to this group’s discussion. There are opportunities to make submissions to both.

1. Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibitions) Repeal Bill 2019 (Submissions close 18 October 2019)

2. Sustainability of energy supply and resources in NSW (Submissions close 15 September 2019)

August 1, 2019 Posted by | ACTION, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Japan to scrap remaining nuclear reactors in Fukushima Prefecture

Japan to scrap remaining nuclear reactors in Fukushima Aljazeera, 1 Aug 19

Tepco to decommission four more reactors in the Fukushima prefecture, eight years after Japan’s worst nuclear disaster.  Tokyo Electric Power Company has announced plans to decommission its Fukushima Daini nuclear plant, located a few kilometres south of the Fukushima Daiichi plant where three reactors melted down after an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The decision by Tepco’s board on Wednesday means all 10 nuclear reactors in the northeastern Fukushima prefecture will be decommissioned.

The prefectural government had previously urged the operator to dismantle the Daini plant, saying its existence has hampered reconstruction efforts, according to Kyodo news agency.

The Daini plant, which started its commercial operation in 1982, only narrowly avoided a major accident at the time of the disaster at the Daiichi. …….In April, Japan partially lifted an evacuation order in one of the two hometowns, Okuma, for the first time since the disaster, but many former residents are still reluctant to return.

The other hometown, Futaba, remains off-limits, as are several other towns nearby.

Tepco said it will take more than four decades to dismantle the four reactors at the Daini plant. The estimated cost for dismantling and decontamination will be 280 billion yen ($2.6bn).

Company president Tomoaki Kobayakawa visited Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori and told him about the decision and the governor asked Kobayakawa to “make safe and steady progress” on the decommissioning.

The utility plans to build an on-site facility to store spent nuclear fuel from the plant, though it has yet to pick a final disposal site for the fuel, Japanese daily The Mainichi reported.

The decommissioning means Japan is left with 33 reactors to generate electricity nationwide, compared with 54 before the disaster.

Of the 33 units, seven reactors are in operation amid lingering concerns about nuclear energy……….

August 1, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

USA movement to unite States against nuclear waste transport and waste dump

Environmental Groups Call For Unified Voice Against Nuclear Waste In Mountain West, Wyoming Public Media, Environmental activists are calling for a united voice in protesting the Department of Energy’s recent shipment of nuclear waste through our region.

Earlier this month, the Department of Energy sent a shipment of nuclear waste from Tennessee to southern Nevada. The shipment was incorrectly labeled as low-level waste, but it was actually mixed with waste that needs treatment before disposal. Nevada officials accused the agency of trying to sneak the material into the state illegally.

Now, environmental activists are calling for Utah Governor Gary Herbert to join Nevada and New Mexico’s governors in their fight against nuclear waste shipments……

August 1, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s government, lackey of the coal industry, in denial over climate change

August 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

July 31 Energy News — geoharvey

Science and Technology: ¶ “Greenland Is Melting In A Heatwave. That’s Everyone’s Problem” • Extreme heat bowled over Europe last week, smashing records in its wake. Now, the heatwave that started in the Sahara has rolled into Greenland, where more records are expected to crumble in the coming days. This has effects across the globe. […]

via July 31 Energy News — geoharvey

August 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Victoria solar rebate “disaster” continues, as August quota fills within two hours — RenewEconomy

Latest monthly allocation of Victoria solar rebates exhausted within hours, reinforcing concerns the state government scheme is effectively strangling the market. The post Victoria solar rebate “disaster” continues, as August quota fills within two hours appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Victoria solar rebate “disaster” continues, as August quota fills within two hours — RenewEconomy

August 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Carnegie puts out call to investors as it seeks to reboot wave energy plans — RenewEconomy

Carnegie Clean Energy seeks $5.5 million from investors as it tries to recapitalise and re-boot its wave energy technologies. The post Carnegie puts out call to investors as it seeks to reboot wave energy plans appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Carnegie puts out call to investors as it seeks to reboot wave energy plans — RenewEconomy

August 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment