Australian news, and some related international items

Hiroshima, Nagasaki – Never Again Nuclear War! – theme for August 2019

This is perhaps the saddest photograph of the time of America’s August 1945 nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The dignity of this boy, as he waits, with his small dead brother strapped to his back, to include the brother in a mass grave.

We know that the bombing of people is unethical, immoral, and simply wrong.

We know that chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction are inhumane and immoral. The global human society knows this, too, and they are illegal under the United Nations Ban –  the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)  and United Nations Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons(TPNW), or the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination. … As of 4 July 2019, 23 nations have ratified the treaty, and it was passed by 120 countries at the United Nations in July 2017.

The nuclear lobby, and the “hawks” may scoff, but this Treaty is clear evidence that the world is coming to see that considering the humanitarian effects of nuclear war, – the treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as assistance and encouragement to the prohibited activities.

The goal is the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. Sounds too extreme to be taken seriously?   It is not as extreme as the goal of using them, which is still actively being considered by the Pentagon.

In July – commentators, politicians, journalists went ecstatic on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. It’s rarely mentioned that USA’s original plan was to explode a nuclear bomb on the moon. It’s rarely mentioned in the current hype about Mars exploration, that the Trump administration’s plan is for nuclear weapons in space .

The humanitarian, the “emotional” side, of discussing nuclear weapons is now taken seriously, much as the nuclear proponents will pontificate about “strategy”, “security” etc. With the UN nuclear ban treaty –   nuclear weapons are no longer “respectable”, and are headed towards eventual elimination.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste: residents near proposed dump told to sign draconian code of conduct,

Nuclear waste: residents near proposed dump told to sign draconian code of conduct,  

Code bans residents from taking notes or recording any part of meetings without prior agreement, Calla Wahlquist  @callapilla 8 Aug 2019 Residents in small South Australian communities shortlisted for a proposed nuclear waste storage facility have been told if they want to attend community consultation meetings they have to sign a code of conduct that bans them from taking notes.

The shortlist for the proposed dump has been narrowed down to Lyndhurst or Napandee, in the Kimba shire area on the Eyre Peninsula, and Wallerberdina Station, which is near Barndioota in the southern Flinders Ranges.

If approved, it would be a permanent storage facility for low-level nuclear waste and provide temporary storage for intermediate level waste, including waste temporarily stored near the research reactor at Lucas Heights in Sydney.

The process has been stalled for more than 12 months because of a federal court challenge by Barngarla traditional owners, who hold native title over land adjacent to the two proposed Eyre Peninsula sites.

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation last month lost a federal court case arguing that a decision not to include native title holders in a local government poll gauging community support for the dump was in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act, but have appealed that decision to the full court.

A majority of Adnyamathanha traditional owners have also said they’re “totally opposed” to the facility being built at Barndioota.

Meetings of two local consultative committees, appointed by the federal industry department’s National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce (NRWMFT) as its main platform for ongoing community consultation, were put on hold while the court case was underway but have been scheduled to resume next week.

But locals have complained that a new code of conduct for people wishing to observe the Barndioota and Kimba consultative committee meetings is unnecessarily restrictive and makes it harder for the community to obtain up-to-date information and voice their concerns.

The code, seen by Guardian Australia, states that “observers” must be approved and cannot “take any notes, or record any part of the meeting … except with the prior agreement of the department, the independent convenor and all representative members of the committee”.

It also says they cannot “repeat or share the individual ideas or views of [committee] members,” and can’t repeat confidential information or try to interject in committee discussions.

“This agreement does not prevent you from discussing information shared during a BCC meeting unless it has been identified as confidential or sensitive,” it says. “The [convenor] may ask you to leave the meeting if you do not comply with this Code of Conduct.”

Farmer Dean Hooper, who has applied to attend the Barndioota meeting, said that restrictions on repeating confidential information and behaving respectfully were reasonable but other conditions placed on attending were “bullshit”.

“They are trying to keep it low and quiet and get this dump to happen as easily and quickly and quietly as possible,” he said.

Hooper opposes the dump and is a member of the Flinders local action group.

The NRWMFT said that the code of conduct concerned behavioural standards and that information in the meeting was not confidential, unless stated otherwise, and that the minutes of all meetings had been published online.

Committee members have also been restricted from discussing meetings with the media. Susan Andersson, a GP from Hawker who sits on the Bandioota committee, said the contract extension that committee members signed in March was “more restrictive” than the original contract and represented an apparent desire by the department to control public information.

NRWMFT general manager Sam Chard said the facility “will only proceed near a community that broadly supports it and which could provide an ongoing workforce”.

In a statement on Wednesday, she said that ballots of residents and ratepayers, like that attempted by Kimba before the federal court challenge, “remain one method that we intend to use to help inform if that necessary broad community support exists”.

People living outside the local government areas can make a submission.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

How the news of nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was censored, and skewed

Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the cutting room floor

By Thomas Gaulkin, August 5, 2019 Seventy-four years after nuclear weapons were first and last used in war, it can be challenging to conceive of the devastation they cause. But even in the immediate months after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, news accounts offered a view of ingenuity and destruction that often elided the human cost.

The newsreels below [on original] were mainly screened to audiences in 1946 and 1947 and detail the destructive force of the explosions almost entirely through excited accounts of the structural damage to the cities.  There’s occasional mention of the lost city populations and the scientific knowledge to be gained from studying their casualties, but hardly any description of what people actually suffered, let alone personal accounts. It’s instructive to look at and listen to these reports today, and contemplate what is missing.

The 12-minute reel below was produced by the US War Department in 1946. “Tale of Two Cities” makes selective use of film that was confiscated from a Japanese filmmaker, Akira Iwasaki—though you wouldn’t know that from the narration, which boasts that “army cameramen have found and filmed pictorial evidence that tells in twisted steel and stone the effect of death-dealing atomic power.” (Some twenty years later, historian Eric Barnouw obtained more of Iwasaki’s footage and produced a remarkably different narrative that documented the horrible physical impact of the attacks on Hiroshima’s citizens.)

Contrasted with the triumphant tone of the news/propaganda made for 1940s audiences, silence changes everything. Made public only decades later, the two films below —one beginning with footage of wounded victims, the other, a full-color glimpse of survivors picking up the pieces of the ruined city—report what those above do not, without a single word.

Nagasaki And Hiroshima (1945)

Harrowing Accounts from Hiroshima Survivors

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Submissions called for – to federal government’s inquiry about nuclear power for Australia

One month for nuclear inquiry submissions, 9 News, Aug 7, 2019  Australians have until next month to make a submission to the federal government’s inquiry into the feasibility of using nuclear energy as a local power source.

Submissions are open until September 16, with the hope of finalising the report by the end of the year……
“This inquiry will provide the opportunity to establish whether nuclear energy would be feasible and suitable for Australia in the future, taking into account both expert opinions and community views.”
The committee will consider waste management, health and safety, environmental impacts, affordability and reliability, economic feasibility and workforce capability.
Security implications, community engagement and national consensus will also be reviewed.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australia needs intelligent long-term energy policy – nuclear does not ‘stack up’

we’ve been able to show (many published studies now) that 100 per cent renewable systems are technically achievable, cost-effective (possibly cheaper than maintaining a fossil fuel system, depending on cost assumptions) and reliable, without having to resort to nuclear power.
Strategic placement of wind and solar plants to take advantage of synoptic weather patterns, combined with pumped hydro energy storage, will require significant investment, and more importantly, intelligent long-term energy and climate policy. 
Should Australia be investing in nuclear energy?  The Australian government is launching an inquiry into the possibility of building a nuclear power industry in Australia. Some will see this as a good thing – another low-carbon tool in the toolbox that we need to combat climate change; others will see it as a dangerous path to go down with the (difficult to quantify) risks of a nuclear accident and issues around dealing with radioactive waste.

There are questions about how long it might take to get a nuclear power station planned, built and operational (maybe as long as 20 years), not to mention that a change of legislation is required before a nuclear plant can even begin to be built. And then there’s the question of cost. Continue reading

August 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

The current push to normalise the increase in, and use of, nuclear weapons

The more that Putin and Trump revalidate the role of nuclear weapons in strengthening national security, the more they normalise the discourse of nuclear weapons use and embolden calls for nuclear weapon acquisition in other countries. In Australia, this debate has been restarted most recently by Hugh White.

A nuclear world in disarray 7 Aug 2019, Ramesh Thakur  We are in a uniquely dangerous period in the atomic age. Geopolitical tensions have spiked in Europe, in the Middle East, on the subcontinent and in East Asia. The nuclear arms control architecture is fraying and crumbling, but no negotiations are underway to reduce global nuclear stockpiles.

A hostile international security environment, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the emergence of new space, cyber and AI technologies have increased the risk of accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons. The growing strategic risks and uncertainty in turn fuel the vicious cycle of renewed interest among US allies in a nuclear deterrent as a hedge against receding US primacy and reliability. Continue reading

August 8, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors don’t operate anywhere yet – but USA companies are keen to sell them to Australia

Nuclear reactors called SMRs are being touted as possible energy source for Australia, ABC News By political reporter Jackson Gothe-Snape 7 Aug 19, Energy Minister Angus Taylor has ordered a parliamentary inquiry into nuclear energy.

Key points:

  • Small modular reactors (SMRs) will be investigated in a parliamentary inquiry
  • These are designed to be built in factories then shipped to a location for operation
  • Some expect SMRs will become popular in coming decades, but none are currently operational

“This will be the first inquiry into the use of nuclear power in Australia in more than a decade and is designed to consider the economic, environmental and safety implications of nuclear power,” he wrote this week.

The inquiry follows campaigns from Coalition senators James McGrath and Keith Pitt, New South Wales Nationals leader John Barilaro, and the Minerals Council to re-examine the nuclear option.

The Government continues to grapple with the pressures of energy prices, reducing carbon emissions and ensuring reliability.

Investigating nuclear is controversial however, given both major parties agree to a ban on nuclear energy in Australia and the Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred in Japan less than a decade ago.

The biggest change in the nuclear sector since the last federal government review is the emergence of “small modular reactors” (SMRs). This technology was specifically referenced in Mr Taylor’s request for an inquiry.

Benefits of SMRs…..

South Australia’s 2016 royal commission into the nuclear fuel cycle sets out their key benefit: cost.

Developers of SMRs “are aiming to lower the typical construction costs associated with nuclear plants through serial fabrication at an off-site facility, with components brought together at the operational site for final assembly”.

Much like Ikea’s economies of scale, the more reactors are built, the cheaper each new one becomes. And multiple reactors can be deployed together on the same site if more energy is needed.

Mobility, safety and … uncertainty

There are other theoretical benefits too.

Because they are built at a factory and then shipped to a location, SMRs could be appropriate for a remote, energy-intensive factory or off-grid settlement needing power.

A similar idea is currently being pursued by Russia, which will soon tow a new floating nuclear power station to its remote far east.

But SMRs won’t look like a Soviet cruise ship. If they ever get built, they will be transportable on road by trucks.

Traditional nuclear power stations are located near rivers, lakes or the coast because they need large volumes of water.

SMRs promise to use less water, which would open up more remote sites.

And they are also designed to be “passively” safe — that is, they promise not to require an operator or backup water or energy to avoid meltdown.

The mooted benefits of SMRs sound promising, but none have been deployed so far.

In fact, they have been discussed for years with only slow progress. NuScale, a prominent SMR company owned by global engineering giant Fluor, is more than a decade old.

Construction on an SMR in China is reportedly set to commence in 2019, while approvals for the first test SMR are currently being worked through in the US and Canada. These may take several more years.

Cost criticism

South Australia’s royal commission found small modular reactors could be an option in future, but flagged there was a risk of cost blowouts associated with unproven technologies.

Despite the theoretical benefits of SMRs, Malcolm Turnbull — a proponent of pumped hydro project Snowy Hydro 2.0 when he was prime minister — argued this week that nuclear options were more expensive than what else is available right now.

“The cheapest form of new generation is renewables plus storage,” he posted on Twitter. …..

Individuals associated with the push for small modular reactors in Australia are closely associated with coal generation.

The NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro attended a 2018 SMR conference in the US with Tony Irwin, a director of SMR Nuclear Technology.

The company’s website states it was “established to advise on and facilitate the siting, development and operation of safe nuclear power generation technologies”.

Another director of that company is Trevor St Baker from Delta Electricity, the company that operates Vales Point on the NSW Central Coast.

A submission from SMR Nuclear Technology to a current uranium inquiry in New South Wales sets out how nuclear may replace coal.

“It should be acknowledged at the outset that there may be an important continuing role for gas-fired and coal-fired power generation,” it states……..

‘Untapped potential’ of uranium

Kevin Scarce, the man who led South Australia’s royal commission, said there was an opportunity to mine more uranium and convert it into a fuel source, “but at the moment that part of global supply is oversupplied”.

“Realistically, in the next 10 to 15 years there doesn’t appear to be much of a market unless nuclear starts to become more seen in the rest of the world.”…

The Minerals Council has long argued for Australia’s ban on nuclear energy to end.

It also wants uranium mining removed from the definition of a “nuclear action” in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

“These activities are not nuclear actions. They are mining activities,” a Minerals Council policy document states.

“Uranium projects should not automatically trigger a duplicative federal environmental approval process, and the costs and delays that come with that, for no environmental benefit.”

A joint media release this week from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Ben Morton announced a Productivity Commission review into resources sector regulation.

It also flagged that “improving the efficiency of environmental approvals would reduce the regulatory burden on business”.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

America’s nuclear-weapons policy isn’t what you think—it’s much worse

The US Strategic Command, which was created in the post-Cold War period to manage US nuclear strike capabilities, has even brought back the Orwellian motto of its predecessor, the Strategic Air Command: “Peace is our Profession.” 

many experts consider missile defense destabilizing: It doesn’t get you defense—it gets you a new arms race. 

Where does this path lead? If history is a guide: nowhere good.

The best-case scenario is that we get out of this era without any nukes going off, having spent our money and resources on weapons that forever sat in silos. That’s money we won’t be able to spend on improving the social safety net, on improving medical care, on basic scientific and medical research, on energy security, on infrastructure upgrades, or on mitigating climate change.

America’s nuclear-weapons policy isn’t what you think—it’s much worse, By Alex Wellerstein August 6, 2019

  In the chaos that currently makes up the day-to-day of American foreign policy—a trade war here, tearing up international agreements and treaties there—it can be easy to miss the larger developments.

One of these, which occasionally rears its head in a frightened headline, is that there is a new nuclear arms race well under way.

In the United States, we typically get this in the form of news about the capabilities of other countries: Russia is developing a “doomsday torpedo,” China is developed “hypersonic missiles,” and so on. Whether these specifics are real or hype (experts are divided about the reality of the “doomsday torpedo”), they are part of a broader reality:

We’re back in an arms race. But it’s not a new one. Continue reading

August 8, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Pro nuclear promoter Warren Mundine back on the propaganda trail

August 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear advocate Switkowski admits that Small Modular Reactors have big problems

August 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology | Leave a comment

New studies find- nuclear power inseparable from nuke weapons – “small” reactors uneconomic

Climate News Network 6th Aug 2019 Two new studies together make an eloquent case against nuclear power: that its civilian uses are inseparable from nuclear warmaking, and that it is always uneconomic and has to be subsidised by taxpayers.

The first report, by the Berlin-based German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), says that
private economic interests have never played a role in nuclear power;
instead the military have always been the driving force behind their
construction. The report’s title sums up its contents: High-Priced and
Dangerous: Nuclear Power is not an option for the Climate-Friendly Energy Mix.

The researchers calculate, after analysis of the 674 nuclear power
plants built since the 1950s, that on average they make a loss of €5
billion (US$5.6 bn) each, and that is without taking into account the cost
of getting rid of their radioactive waste. The report does not simply
investigate the past.

It also looks ahead, reviewing the industry’s plans
for a new generation of nuclear power stations, and particularly the small
modular reactors (SMRs) in which the US, Canada, Russia, China and the UK
are currently investing huge amounts of development money. The researchers
conclude that they too are doomed to be an expensive failure.

The second study, specifically into SMRs, is by the Nuclear Consulting Group (NCG), an
international team of academics and other experts [the writer of this news
report is a member]. It reaches the same conclusion: that they will be
expensive for the taxpayer and never live up to expectations. The NCG,
which works with Nuclear Free Local Authorities in the UK, says its
opposition is based on close scrutiny of the industry. After examining all
the designs of SMRs currently being developed globally, the NCG says: “It
remains likely that no substantive deployment of the technology will be
realised, with just a very few reactors built, at most.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The ‘sarcophagus’ that entombed the Chernobyl nuclear disaster for 30 years is at a high risk to collapse 

August 8, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Queensland officially opens its first completed large scale wind farm — RenewEconomy

Ratch’s 180MW Mt Emerald Wind Farm first in a pipeline of wind farms to be built as Queensland aims for 50 per cent renewables. The post Queensland officially opens its first completed large scale wind farm appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Queensland officially opens its first completed large scale wind farm — RenewEconomy

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AGL plans more storage as it eyes $200 billion energy transition opportunity — RenewEconomy

AGL Energy says it is looking to boost its storage and flexible generation options as it eyes a share of what it describes as a $200 billion investment opportunity that will flow through the market from the clean energy transition. In announcing its $1 billion net profit on Thursday, AGL noted that is has $1.5……

via AGL plans more storage as it eyes $200 billion energy transition opportunity — RenewEconomy

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Victoria government hints at changes to rooftop solar rebate — RenewEconomy

WIth second major industry protest brewing, Daniel Andrews suggest his government considering key changes in design of state’s controversial rooftop solar rebate. The post Victoria government hints at changes to rooftop solar rebate appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Victoria government hints at changes to rooftop solar rebate — RenewEconomy

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment