Australian news, and some related international items

Western Australian Labor joins Queensland Labor in clearly rejecting nuclear power


Dave Sweeney, 27 Aug 19, It was a big weekend of Labor politics with state conferences in both WA and Queensland.

In WA the following motions were adopted on Sunday 25/8:

WA Labor is committed to implementing a best process and practise approach to uranium assessment and regulation. We urge federal Labor – and the federal government – to reflect this on a national level and retain the long standing and prudent nuclear action trigger for uranium mining and the clear prohibition on nuclear power in the federal EPBC Act (1999) during the current EPBC review process.

WA Labor commits to rigorous scrutiny of any further approvals or applications by any of the four WA uranium mine proposals approved under the previous government. WA Labor will apply the highest regulatory standards to any project and will work with affected communities and key stakeholders including trade unions and workers in order to reduce risks.

WA Labor welcomes the resolution passed unanimously by the 2018 National Labor Conference committing Labor in government to sign and ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and calls on the Australian Government to sign and ratify the Treaty as an urgent humanitarian imperative.

 Queensland Labor reaffirmed their clear policy opposition to uranium mining and also adopted a wider nuclear free position on Sunday:

In order to protect human health and Queensland’s unique natural values, Queensland Labor affirms its commitment to ensuring that Queensland remains nuclear free.

 There was a good presence and profile (WA) and support at both events – see attached pic from WA with Leader of the Opposition Albanese and Yeelirrie defender Vicky Abdullah – a massive shout out to KA, Vicki, Mia, along with Piers and the wider crew from CCWA. The WA nuke free team did a superb job of putting the issue strongly on the radar at Conference. Thanks also to our comrades and champions in Labor and the progressive trade unions.

August 27, 2019 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Renewable energy booming in Australia: nuclear power irrelevant

Nuclear power not the answer as renewables continue to boom in Australia, report finds,’s continuing renewable energy boom means the development of nuclear power is not a viable option, a new report from public policy think-tank the Australia Institute has concluded.

Key points:

  • The Australia Institute’s energy emissions audit for the month July was released today
  • It found SA’s renewable energy generation is setting a “real example” for other states
  • It also found nuclear energy would not complement a high renewables sector

With the potential for nuclear power set to be examined by a federal parliamentary inquiry, the institute said the rapid development of wind and solar resources, particularly in South Australia, would render new “baseload” power resources like nuclear uneconomic.

The think-tank’s latest National Energy Emissions Audit found that for 44 hours during the month of July, South Australia generated enough wind and solar energy to power 100 per cent of its own demand, with some left over for export to eastern states.

The Institute’s climate and energy director, Richie Merzian, said the power grid in SA is effectively eliminating the need for so-called “baseload” supply, the type typically supplied by coal or nuclear.

What high renewables don’t need is a baseload type of energy, so a consistent supply of energy that doesn’t ramp up or ramp down to meet peak demand,” he said.

“That usually happens when you have those extremely hot days in summer that are becoming more common.

“What our audit shows is the windows where you need that peak demand are few, but that’s really where the additional support needs to come and that won’t be provided by a baseload support like nuclear.”

He said the other issue with nuclear energy was the cost and timeframe needed to build a nuclear power station.

“It takes a long time to build and it doesn’t complement high levels of renewables which is what we’re seeing in South Australia and the direction we’re going in in other states,” he said.

Earlier this month, Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor announced the potential for nuclear energy would be examined by a parliamentary inquiry, but insisted Australia’s moratorium on nuclear energy would remain in place.

The parliamentary inquiry is expected to be finalised by the end of the year.

The Australia Institute’s audit acknowledged that South Australia’s high renewable energy output had forced the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to regularly intervene in that state’s market to maintain system security of the grid.

AEMO does so by directing gas generators to run or directing windfarms to curtail their output, or both, when the level of wind energy is deemed a risk to the stable operation of the grid.

But, according to the institute, AEMO has been gradually reducing such interventions as it gains more experience dealing with the high renewable energy mix.

SA is setting a ‘real example’

Mr Merzian said the latest audit had looked at South Australia in particular and had shown it was setting a great example for other states in terms of renewable energy.

“What we found is that for nine of the last 18 months, half of all the energy supplied in South Australia has been from renewable generation, including rooftop solar,” he said.

“That means that South Australia has been able to operate for a good chunk of the last year and a half with at least 50 per cent of its energy coming from wind and solar.

“That’s impressive and that’s the highest in the country and is a real example for where most of the states are going to go.”

He said Victoria and Queensland both had ambitious renewable energy targets and while New South Wales did not have a renewable energy target at state level, it would soon be the largest generator of renewable energy.

Renewable supply meeting demand

Mr Merzian said one prime example from the audit was that for almost 50 hours, the supply of wind and solar power in South Australia was equal with the amount of energy demand.

“Over the last month there were 44 hours in total where the state was generating enough wind and solar that is equal to what it actually required as an energy demand,” he said.

“Not only is South Australia a great example for the rest of the country, it’s also a great example globally.”

He said South Australia did not have the same energy security from coal and gas as other states and had become a “champion” for renewable energy because of it.

“South Australia has really had to charge on its own to build that internal reliability from its own energy sources and that’s really helped it champion its current make up of energy,” he said.

“It also puts a lot of pressure on that transmission link between South Australia and Victoria.

“If South Australia is going to continue to evolve, it’s important that we continue to build on these transmission links and infrastructure.”

A 2006 report on nuclear power led by Ziggy Switkowski suggested Australia could have up to 25 reactors providing over a third of the country’s electricity by 2050.

August 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Both major parties in Queensland now oppose nuclear power

Both major parties in Queensland now oppose nuclear. Not much of an election topic anymore then.

‘Queensland Labor immediately questioned the LNP’s nuclear power policy before Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington on Sunday afternoon issued a single line statement rejecting nuclear power. “The state LNP does not support nuclear power in Queensland,” Ms Frecklington said.’

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

Melbourne Event this Wednesday: Is nuclear power a solution to climate change?

When: Wednesday 28 August 2019, 6.30-8pm
Where: Yami Lester room, Friends of the Earth Office, 312 Smith St, Collingwood

The Federal Government has announced an inquiry into nuclear power, the Victorian and NSW Parliaments are conducting similar inquiries and conservative ideologues are promoting nuclear power. At this event, Prof. Tilman Ruff and Dr Jim Green will bust some of the myths around nuclear power and we’ll show some short films about Chernobyl and other less-known nuclear accidents.

Come along with your questions about nuclear power and enjoy free soup and hot drinks!


Prof. Tilman Ruff (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Australia and Medical Association for Prevention of War) will speak about the public health impacts of nuclear power.
Dr Jim Green (Friends of the Earth) will launch a new Friends of the Earth report,  Nuclear Power – No Solution to Climate Change (

+ short films about Chernobyl and other less-known nuclear accidents
+ Q&A
RSVP here

Contact:, 0417 318 368

August 27, 2019 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

As forests disappear in the Amazon, Australia’s rainforests are being destroyed, too

August 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

Indigenous landowner challenges Sussan Ley’s decision for coal mine

Legal challenge over Sussan Ley’s decision to put potential mining jobs at Shenhua Mine before cultural heritage, ABC News, By Indigenous affairs correspondent Isabella Higgins and Sarah Collard  25 Aug 19, A family fighting to defend their traditional country from mining are suing Environment Minister Sussan Ley after she rejected their heritage protection bid in favour of a controversial Chinese coal project.

Key points 

  • Environment Minister is being sued for rejecting heritage protection in favour of a proposed coal mine
  • Lawyers say it could be an important test case if the decision is found to be unlawful
  • Traditional owners fear important sacred sites will be destroyed if the mine goes ahead

Last month, the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians failed in a bid to have sacred sites in north-west New South Wales preserved and protected from development due to cultural importance.

The land near Gunnedah had already been earmarked for the $1.2 billion Shenhua Watermark Coal Mine, which gained conditional federal approval in 2015 and has state development consents.

Ms Ley rejected their application on the grounds that the potential jobs generated from the mine were more important than cultural preservation.

She acknowledged the project could cause “mental health impacts … a sense of dislocation, displacement and dispossession,” among Indigenous people, but determined the social and economic value of the project took priority.

On behalf of the Gomeroi people, traditional owner Dolly Talbott has launched legal action against Ms Ley, with the case due before court for the first time on Wednesday.

She is being represented by the NSW Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) which will argue that the minister’s decision was “unlawful” and contravenes the constitutional basis of the heritage protection act.

“If we don’t try to save these sites, then we are not fulfilling our obligations to our elders and our ancestors … and our children and grandchildren,” Ms Talbott said.

“[The national Indigenous heritage laws] are supposed to be there for the protection of Aboriginal culture and it doesn’t seem to be working.”……

Benefits of mine outweigh destruction of heritage: Minister

When deciding on the intervention request, Ms Ley acknowledged the mine would result in the “likely destruction of parts of their Indigenous cultural heritage”.

“I considered that the expected social and economic benefits of the Shenhua Watermark Coal Mine outweighed the impacts on the applicants [Gomeroi people]” she said in the rejection document seen by the ABC…….

The Minister has the final say on which applications receive protection status, under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act. …….

Shenhua development courts controversy

This legal battle is the latest saga, in a long-running series of controversies involving the mine.

It sparked vehement protests in recent years, with farmers, environmentalists and Indigenous groups all fiercely opposed to the development.

They have raised concerns about how the mine will impact groundwater and wildlife and whether it’s economically viable.

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce previously labelled the project “ridiculous” after his own government approved the mine, which falls in his New England electorate.

The NSW Government bought back half of the company’s mining exploration license in 2017, at a cost of $262 million, which at the time it said was to protect prime farming land.

Winning this case would mean Gomeroi people can continue to teach their children culture on country, Ms Talbott said.

“The stories of the land that we continue to tell our children today, and hopefully these sites are still there so they can tell their children.

August 27, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Nuking a Hurricane Would Probably Just Create a Slightly Bigger, Radioactive Hurricane

Nuking a Hurricane Would Probably Just Create a Slightly Bigger, Radioactive Hurricane  By Rafi Letzter 26 Aug 19, o Planet Earth 

Has Trump been reading old Live Science articles about nuking hurricanes? And if not, should he be?

President Donald Trump wants to nuke hurricanes into submission before they reach the Atlantic coastline, according to a bizarre article published yesterday (Aug. 25) on Axios. “Why can’t we do that?” he reportedly asked. This raises an important question: Has Trump been reading old Live Science articles? And if not, should he be?

Live Science answered this very question in a 2012 article.

“The theory goes that the energy released by a nuclear bomb detonated just above and ahead of the eye of a storm would heat the cooler air there, disrupting the storm’s convection current,” Rachel Kaufman wrote at the time. “Unfortunately, this idea, which has been around in some form since the 1960s, wouldn’t work.”

The problem is the energy involved, Kaufman reported, citing writing by Chris Landsea, a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research meteorologist.

A hurricane is essentially a powerful, super-efficient country-size engine for pulling heat out of the ocean and releasing it into the atmosphere. As a hurricane’s low-pressure system moves over warm water, that water evaporates and then condenses as droplets in the atmosphere. As the water condenses, it releases the heat it’s carrying into the surrounding air. About 1% of that heat energy gets converted into wind; the rest sticks around as ambient warmth, according to the article.

A hurricane can release 50 terawatts of heat energy at any given moment — a significantly greater output than the entire power system, and comparable to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb detonating every 20 minutes. Trying to stop a hurricane with a nuke would be “about as effective as trying to stop a speeding Buick with a feather,” Kaufman wrote, and might even add energy to the storm

Stopping a smaller tropical depression with a nuke might be more realistic, but there are just too many of them and no good way to tell which will develop into powerful, landfalling hurricanes.

“Finally, whether the bomb would have a minor positive effect, a negative effect, or none at all on the storm’s convection cycle, one thing is for sure: It would create a radioactive hurricane, which would be even worse than a normal one. The fallout would ride Trade Winds to land — arguably a worse outcome than a landfalling hurricane,” Kaufman wrote.

The best way to avoid the destruction of a hurricane, remains a boring one: prepare. In case that’s the route you want to go, how to prepare for a hurricane.

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

Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting U.S.

Jonathan Swan, Margaret Talev, 26 Aug 19, President Trump has suggested multiple times to senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States, according to sources who have heard the president’s private remarks and been briefed on a National Security Council memorandum that recorded those comments.

Behind the scenes: During one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, “I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?” according to one source who was there. “They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can’t we do that?” the source added, paraphrasing the president’s remarks.

Asked how the briefer reacted, the source recalled he said something to the effect of, “Sir, we’ll look into that.”
Trump replied by asking incredulously how many hurricanes the U.S. could handle and reiterating his suggestion that the government intervene before they make landfall.
The briefer “was knocked back on his heels,” the source in the room added. “You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting. People were astonished. After the meeting ended, we thought, ‘What the f—? What do we do with this?'”
Trump also raised the idea in another conversation with a senior administration official. A 2017 NSC memo describes that second conversation, in which Trump asked whether the administration should bomb hurricanes to stop them from hitting the homeland. A source briefed on the NSC memo said it does not contain the word “nuclear”; it just says the president talked about bombing hurricanes.

The source added that this NSC memo captured “multiple topics, not just hurricanes. … It wasn’t that somebody was so terrified of the bombing idea that they wrote it down. They just captured the president’s comments.”
The sources said that Trump’s “bomb the hurricanes” idea — which he floated early in the first year and a bit of his presidency before John Bolton took over as national security adviser — went nowhere and never entered a formal policy process.
White House response: A senior administration official said, “We don’t comment on private discussions that the president may or may not have had with his national security team.”

A different senior administration official, who has been briefed on the president’s hurricane bombing suggestion, defended Trump’s idea and said it was no cause for alarm. “His goal — to keep a catastrophic hurricane from hitting the mainland — is not bad,” the official said. “His objective is not bad.”
“What people near the president do is they say ‘I love a president who asks questions like that, who’s willing to ask tough questions.’ … It takes strong people to respond to him in the right way when stuff like this comes up. For me, alarm bells weren’t going off when I heard about it, but I did think somebody is going to use this to feed into ‘the president is crazy’ narrative.”
Trump called this story “ridiculous” in a Monday tweet from the G7 summit. He added, “I never said this. Just more FAKE NEWS!”
The big picture: Trump didn’t invent this idea. The notion that detonating a nuclear bomb over the eye of a hurricane could be used to counteract convection currents dates to the Eisenhower era, when it was floated by a government scientist.

The idea keeps resurfacing in the public even though scientists agree it won’t work. The myth has been so persistent that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. government agency that predicts changes in weather and the oceans, published an online fact sheet for the public under the heading “Tropical Cyclone Myths Page.”
The page states: “Apart from the fact that this might not even alter the storm, this approach neglects the problem that the released radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas and cause devastating environmental problems. Needless to say, this is not a good idea.”
About 3 weeks after Trump’s 2016 election, National Geographic published an article titled, “Nuking Hurricanes: The Surprising History of a Really Bad Idea.” It found, among other problems, that:

Dropping a nuclear bomb into a hurricane would be banned under the terms of the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. So that could stave off any experiments, as long as the U.S. observes the terms of the treaty.
Atlantic hurricane season runs until Nov. 30.

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

Japan may decommission reactors at world’s biggest nuclear plant

Japan may decommission reactors at world’s biggest nuclear plant,  

Plant operator Tepco says it may start decommissioning at least one reactor five years after restarting two others.  Japan‘s Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said  on Monday it may start to decommission at least one nuclear reactor at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant, the world’s biggest nuclear plant by capacity, within five years of restarting two of the reactors at the site.Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa made the comments in a statement outlining its response to a request for plans on the station’s future by the government of the city of Kashiwazaki in Niigata prefecture, where the plant is located.

In 2017, Tepco received initial regulatory approval from the Japanese government to restart reactors 6 and 7 at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, each with a capacity of 1,356 megawatts (MW). The plant site has seven reactors with a total capacity of 8,212MW, equal to 20 percent of Japan’s nuclear capacity.

The facility is Tepco’s last remaining nuclear plant after it announced plans to shut its Fukushima Daini station, near the Fukushima Daichi plant where a massive earthquake and tsunami caused the meltdown of three of the site’s reactors in 2011.

Kashiwazaki’s Mayor Masahiro Sakurai demanded in 2017 that Tepco submit plans to shut at least one of reactors 1 to 5 in return for approval of the restart of reactors 6 and 7, a city official told the Reuters news agency by phone on Monday. The Kashiwazaki mayor will take about a month to evaluate Tepco’s plan, the official said.

Tepco said on Friday that Kobayakawa would brief local officials on Monday about its answers to the city’s request.

Tepco may take steps to decommission more than one of reactors 1 to 5 within five years after the restart of reactors 6 and 7 if it is confident it can secure enough non-fossil fuel energy sources, according to the statement.

A Tepco official said on Monday the company is aiming to have renewable and nuclear power produce 44 percent of total output by 2030.

Tepco has been trying to convince local authorities near Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, who have sign-off rights on nuclear restarts, that it has overcome operational failings revealed at Fukushima.

Eight years ago, nearly 20,000 people died in an earthquake and tsunami that precipitated what became Japan’s worst nuclear disaster. At least 160,000 people were forced to leave their contaminated homes.

In April, Japan partially lifted an evacuation order in one of the two towns, Okuma, for the first time since the disaster, but many former residents are still reluctant to return.

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

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

Japanese government must take urgent action to protect Japanese people from unacceptable radiation exposure — IPPNW peace and health blog

Now more than eight years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, IPPNW strongly supports the call by civil society organisations in Japan for the ionising radiation maximum permissible dose limit for members of the public to be promptly reduced from 20 to 1 mSv per year. Since 2011, powerful new evidence of radiation-related health risks greater than previously estimated at doses as low as a few mSv and dose rates as low as 1mSv per year has emerged from large studies of children having CT scans, rates of leukaemia in children living in areas with differing levels of background radiation, and large long-term studies of nuclear industry workers. These studies have also confirmed the particular vulnerability to radiation of young children, and women and girls, with long-term cancer risks for young girls being up to 8 to 10 times greater than for adult males for the same radiation exposure.

via Japanese government must take urgent action to protect Japanese people from unacceptable radiation exposure — IPPNW peace and health blog

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

August 26 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “What Are The Chances One Or More Legacy Automakers Will Fail?” • Sandy Munro is a veteran of Ford, who branched out on his own. His business is about optimizing production to increase quality, lowering costs, and solving the technical challenges to bringing products to market. His thoughts on legacy automakers are not […]

via August 26 Energy News — geoharvey

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

Electric vehicles already cheaper for fleet owners than petrol cars — RenewEconomy

Data gleaned by ClimateWorks with Victorian councils shows there are already EVs that are within or below normal council operating costs. The post Electric vehicles already cheaper for fleet owners than petrol cars appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Electric vehicles already cheaper for fleet owners than petrol cars — RenewEconomy

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

Electric vehicle costs set to fall as lithium glut hits — RenewEconomy

BloombergNEF report suggests that rather than lithium being in short supply, there is a glut which will force prices down. But it may be short lived. The post Electric vehicle costs set to fall as lithium glut hits appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Electric vehicle costs set to fall as lithium glut hits — RenewEconomy

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

Tesla Model 3 Australia invasion has begun — RenewEconomy

A Canberra-bound car carrier was spotted on Saturday full to the brim with some of the first Model 3s destined for Australian customers. The post Tesla Model 3 Australia invasion has begun appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Tesla Model 3 Australia invasion has begun — RenewEconomy

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

Coalition report on coal exports to India is missing the backstory — RenewEconomy

To IEEFA’s contrarian perspective, Indian investors in the main are not looking to replicate the Australian thermal coal graveyard. The post Coalition report on coal exports to India is missing the backstory appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Coalition report on coal exports to India is missing the backstory — RenewEconomy

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