Australian news, and some related international items

Labor wants Liberal Coalition to come clean on planned sites for nuclear reactors

Labor pressures Coalition to rule out nuclear ‘fantasies’ or name sites for reactors Mark Butler says almost all proposed reactor sites since 1968 were near residential communities, Guardian, Sarah Martin and Amy Remeikis, 5 Sep 2019 Labor will pressure the government over its “flirtation” with nuclear energy by releasing parliamentary library research that shows almost 150 sites across the country have been proposed for reactors or dumps in the past 50 years.Calling on the prime minister, Scott Morrison, to either rule out nuclear or reveal where reactors would be located, Labor’s shadow energy minister, Mark Butler, said the government should instead direct its efforts to developing a “coherent energy policy”.

“Instead of indulging the policy fantasies of his restive backbench, Mr Morrison should reject the nuclear option or be upfront with Australians about exactly where he wants to build nuclear reactors,” Butler said. “Mr Morrison should forget nuclear energy and focus instead on practical ways of dealing with his government’s energy crisis.”

The list of locations that have been considered for nuclear activities includes about 40 locations for possible nuclear dump sites and almost 100 that have been examined as possible sites for nuclear reactors.

Labor MPs are expected to follow up the release of the information with localised campaigns highlighting the potential threat of nuclear facilities in the listed locations.

The parliamentary library research notes that some of the sites are highly speculative and have never been subject to a formal proposal, while others have been withdrawn or formally excluded as potential locations.

But Butler said that almost all of the proposed reactor sites since 1968 were near residential communities, noting that some locations – such as Townsville – had been proposed twice.

A study by the progressive thinktank Australia Institute in 2007 identified Townsville as one of 17 suitable sites for nuclear power plants across the country, based on key criteria such as electricity infrastructure, demand, transport, and water access.


Labor’s anti-nuclear push comes as parliament’s standing committee on environment and energy prepares to conduct an inquiry into the “prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia” with a report due later this year.

The committee was set up by the energy minister, Angus Taylor, after several conservative MPs publicly agitated for the inquiry.

The chair of the committee, Liberal MP Ted O’Brien, said the inquiry would determine if nuclear energy was “feasible, suitable and palatable”…….

September 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Scrutiny on proposal for thorium nuclear reactors for Australia

New nuclear power proposal needs public  debate,13071

By Helen Caldicott | 4 September 2019  The prospect of thorium being introduced into Australia’s energy arrangements should be subjected to significant scrutiny, writes Helen Caldicott.

AS AUSTRALIA is grappling with the notion of introducing nuclear powerinto the country, it seems imperative the general public understand the intricacies of these technologies so they can make informed decisions. Thorium reactors are amongst those being suggested at this time.

The U.S. tried for 50 years to create thorium reactors, without success. Four commercial thorium reactors were constructed, all of which failed. And because of the complexity of problems listed below, thorium reactors are far more expensive than uranium fueled reactors.

The longstanding effort to produce these reactors cost the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars, while billions more dollars are still required to dispose of the highly toxic waste emanating from these failed trials.

The truth is, thorium is not a naturally fissionable material. It is therefore necessary to mix thorium with either enriched uranium 235 (up to 20% enrichment) or with plutonium – both of which are innately fissionable – to get the process going.

While uranium enrichment is very expensive, the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from uranium powered reactors is enormously expensive and very dangerous to the workers who are exposed to toxic radioactive isotopes during the process. Reprocessing spent fuel requires chopping up radioactive fuel rods by remote control, dissolving them in concentrated nitric acid from which plutonium is precipitated out by complex chemical means.

Vast quantities of highly acidic, highly radioactive liquid waste then remain to be disposed of. (Only is 6 kilograms of plutonium 239 can fuel a nuclear weapon, while each reactor makes 250 kilos of plutonium per year. One millionth of a gram of plutonium if inhaled is carcinogenic.)

So there is an extraordinarily complex, dangerous and expensive preliminary process to kick-start a fission process in a thorium reactor.

When non-fissionable thorium is mixed with either fissionable plutonium or uranium 235, it captures a neutron and converts to uranium 233, which itself is fissionable. Naturally it takes some time for enough uranium 233 to accumulate to make this particular fission process spontaneously ongoing.

Later, the radioactive fuel would be removed from the reactor and reprocessed to separate out the uranium 233 from the contaminating fission products, and the uranium 233 then will then be mixed with more thorium to be placed in another thorium reactor.

But uranium 233 is also very efficient fuel for nuclear weapons. It takes about the same amount of uranium 233 as plutonium 239 – six kilos – to fuel a nuclear weapon. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has already, to its disgrace, ‘lost track’ of 96 kilograms of uranium 233.

A total of two tons of uranium 233 were manufactured in the United States. This material naturally requires similar stringent security measures used for plutonium storage for obvious reasons. It is estimated that it will take over one million dollars per kilogram to dispose of the seriously deadly material.

An Energy Department safety investigation recently found a national repository for uranium 233 in a building constructed in 1943 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

It was in poor condition. Investigators reported an environmental release from many of the 1,100 containers could

‘… be expected to occur within the next five years because some of the packages are approaching 30 years of age and have not been regularly inspected.’

The DOE determined that this building had:

Deteriorated beyond cost-effective repair and significant annual costs would be incurred to satisfy both current DOE storage standards, and to provide continued protection against potential nuclear criticality accidents or theft of the material.

The DOE Office of Environmental Management now considers the disposal of this uranium 233 to be ‘an unfunded mandate’.

Thorium reactors also produce uranium 232, which decays to an extremely potent high-energy gamma emitter that can penetrate through one metre of concrete, making the handling of this spent nuclear fuel extraordinarily dangerous.

Although thorium advocates say that thorium reactors produce little radioactive waste, they simply produce a different spectrum of waste to those from uranium-235. This still includes many dangerous alpha and beta emitters, and isotopes with extremely long half-lives, including iodine 129 (half-life of 15.7 million years).

No wonder the U.S. nuclear industry gave up on thorium reactors in the 1980s. It was an unmitigated disaster, as are many other nuclear enterprises undertaken by the nuclear priesthood and the U.S. government.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, thorium | Leave a comment

Minister Canavan and Department of Industry Innovation and science ready to spoil beautiful, sacred, and arable land – for nuclear trash

Goodes abuse mirrors SA nuclear fight, Eureka Street, Michele Madigan, 03 September 2019   On 21 August I came out of an Adelaide preview of The Australian Dream, Stan Grant’s documentary about the racialised mistreatment of the former AFL footballer Adam Goodes, for a brief interview on our local ABC’s Evening Show. The topic: the resumption of federal government visibility and determination to both deposit and dump nuclear waste in either the Flinders Ranges or Kimba regions.

Later I reflected on this synergy. One of these threatened areas was the location for The Australian Dream’s dramatic opening panoramic shot: Adam Goodes, a tiny figure in a vast landscape, with the Ranges of his ancestors in majestic background. …..
I wonder sometimes if this kind of vehement rage towards certain persons has parallels with the attitude and actions of some among us ‘latecomers’ to this country, to the country itself. It shows itself in a determination to exploit the country, to commodify it, to rape it of its resources; all done with entirely no regard for the consequences — on lands, on precious waters and eventually on all of us, the human race, who rely on creation for our survival.

There is at best exasperation, and at worst, genuine anger shown to many Australians seeking to defend country: to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defenders certainly. In regard to non-Aboriginal people, the word ‘greenie’ has become largely a term of derision………

The Flinders became a place of healing refuge for Goodes. Yet the glory of its incredible antiquity has not been enough to shame the Minister and the Department for Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) in the four-year journey of seriously considering this place of ancestry, beauty, earthquakes and floods as host to Australia’s nuclear waste which will remain dangerous for 10,000 years. Neither has being part of just six per cent of Australia’s arable lands served any protection for the international grain-farming region of Kimba as the alternative choice.
As Goodes paid heavily for his defence against racism, defending country continues to be a costly business for the people of the Flinders and Kimba regions whose communities are irrevocably torn apart by the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility project. Despite Barngala Traditional Owners appealing against Justice White’s 12 July decision that their native rights give them no right to vote, the Kimba Council has recently decided their opinion ballot is to go ahead anyway — from 3 October to 7 November. In contrast, the Flinders Ranges Council is requiring a risk assessment before proceeding with their ballot. The Adnyamathanha people’s appeal remains undecided.

On 13 August, DIIS, in meeting with the Barndioota Consultative Committee in the Flinders, confirmed that the size of the proposed site would now be 60 per cent larger. On 21 and 22 August Minister Canavan visited both areas for brief ‘consultative’ meetings, declaring the site decision is likely before the end of this year, and acknowledging that this may take place before the Flinders ballot. While again refusing to give a named acceptable percentage on such a ballot, Senator Canavan stressed the ballot was just one component in the decision making. Other evidence will include the 1000 submissions in this still open process.

On his 26 August Evening Show, Peter Goers interviewed an enthusiastic proponent — the Member for the vast federal seat of Grey. Rowan Ramsey was indignant that ‘outsiders’ were daring to protest the project. As well as ignoring his companion interviewee, local Greg Bannon, Ramsay revealed his misconception that other South Australians and indeed other Australians have no right to object. In claiming no knowledge of nuclear transport accidents, clearly he had not heard of the 1994 spill near Port Augusta, to name just one example; nor that transporting and simply ‘storing’ the spent fuel rods from the Lucas Heights reactor is exponentially more dangerous than Olympic Dam yellowcake transport……

September 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

‘All of us are in danger’: John Pilger delivers warning from Julian Assange

Today, in further flagrant and conscious censorship, no British, Australian or American newspaper is carrying a report on Waters’ initiative and the rally.

Roger Waters and John Pilger make powerful defence of Julian Assange in London, WSWS  3 September 2019

Up to 1,000 people gathered last night in central London to hear internationally acclaimed musician Roger Waters deliver a musical tribute to imprisoned WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange.

Performing outside the UK Home Office, just miles from Belmarsh Prison where Assange is being held as a Category A prisoner, Waters sang Pink Floyd’s iconic song “Wish You Were Here.” He was accompanied by guitarist Andrew Fairweather Low.

Supporters filled the forecourt and pavement on both sides of Marsham Street, many carrying banners and placards demanding Assange’s freedom and the release of imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Spontaneous chants rang out, “Free, Free Julian Assange!” and “There’s only one decision: No extradition!”

John Pilger, a veteran filmmaker and investigative journalist and a personal friend of Assange, opened the event with an impassioned speech. Pointing in the direction of the Home Office, Pilger told the crowd: “The behaviour of the British government towards Julian Assange is a disgrace. A profanity on the very notion of human rights. It’s no exaggeration to say that the treatment and persecution of Julian Assange is the way that dictatorships treat a political prisoner.”

John Pilger, a veteran filmmaker and investigative journalist and a personal friend of Assange, opened the event with an impassioned speech. Pointing in the direction of the Home Office, Pilger told the crowd: “The behaviour of the British government towards Julian Assange is a disgrace. A profanity on the very notion of human rights. It’s no exaggeration to say that the treatment and persecution of Julian Assange is the way that dictatorships treat a political prisoner.”………

Pilger warned that Assange’s condition was a matter of grave concern. “I worry a great deal about him if he spends many months in Belmarsh,” he said. “The regime there is imposing a kind of isolation on him that is deeply psychologically wounding. He’s in a small cell in the hospital ward. They seem not to know what to do with him. Of course, what they should be doing is letting him out. He certainly should not be in a maximum-security prison.”…….

Underscoring the point made by Kristinn Hrafnsson about the mainstream media, no major British television station reported on the event on their evening news broadcasts. Today, in further flagrant and conscious censorship, no British, Australian or American newspaper is carrying a report on Waters’ initiative and the rally.

Via social media and publications such as the WSWS, however, reports and video of Waters’ performance, Pilgers’ speech and the statements of Gabriel Shipton are circulating widely and will be viewed by hundreds of thousands of people internationally over the coming days.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | 1 Comment

Solar farms switch off en masse as coal plants flex their muscle in Queensland — RenewEconomy

Solar and coal are fighting for dominance in the Queensland market. On Wednesday, coal won – with solar farms switching off en masse as prices plunged. But for how long? The post Solar farms switch off en masse as coal plants flex their muscle in Queensland appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Solar farms switch off en masse as coal plants flex their muscle in Queensland — RenewEconomy

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Victoria’s boosted rooftop solar rebate fully subscribed in minutes — RenewEconomy

Victoria’s rooftop PV rebate again taken up in record time, with boosted September offering of 6,500 discounted home solar panel systems disappearing in under an hour. The post Victoria’s boosted rooftop solar rebate fully subscribed in minutes appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Victoria’s boosted rooftop solar rebate fully subscribed in minutes — RenewEconomy

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Complete melting of Alaska’s sea ice

Alaska’s Sea Ice Completely Melted for First Time in Recorded History , BY Dahr Jamail, Truthout, 3 Sept 19

  The country of Iceland has held a funeral for its first glacier lost to the climate crisis. The once massive Okjökull glacier, now completely gone, has been commemorated with a plaque that reads: “A letter to the future. Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.”

This reality is reverberating across the globe, far beyond Iceland. Even when no literal funeral is being held, we are, in a sense, witnessing an ongoing funeral for the world we once knew.

July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth since record keeping began in 1880. Nine out of the 10 hottest Julys ever recorded have occurred since 2005, and July was the 43rd consecutive July to register temperatures above the 20th century average.

In Greenland, scientists were stunned by how rapidly the ice sheet is melting, as it was revealed the ice there was not expected to melt like this until 2070. The melt rate has been called “unprecedented,” as the all-time single-day melt record was broken in August as the ice sheet lost a mind-bending 12.5 billion tons of water in one day. It is worth remembering that the Greenland ice sheet contains enough ice to increase global sea levels by 20 feet, and it is now predicted that it will lose more ice this year than ever before.

Also for the first time in recorded history, Alaska’s sea ice has melted completely away. That means there was no sea ice whatsoever within 150 miles of its shores, according to the National Weather Service, as the northernmost state cooked under record-breaking heat through the summer.


recent UN report estimates 2 billion people are already facing moderate to severe food insecurity, due largely to the warming planet……


Drought-induced blackouts are now besetting the people of Zimbabwe, where some places are seeing 18 hours per day without electricity. Imagine that in the summer heat. Dams providing hydropower lack water. Power blackouts are spreading.

In Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city, the taps have run dry, affecting more than 2 million people, who have been trying to cope with not having access to municipal drinking water.

In India, a stunning 1 million people were displaced and at least 270 killedby severe flooding from heavier than usual monsoon rains……


These stunning satellite photos show an Arctic burning up in front of our eyes. In Alaska alone, at the time of this writing, at least 1.6 million acres have burned from at least 100 wildfires this summer. Wildfires in Siberiacould well burn into October when the first snows fall, as at least 6.7 million acres have burned across Russia…..


By 2050, Florida will have more days that feel like 100 degrees Fahrenheit (100°F) than any other state in the U.S…….

Denial and Reality

Ever busy denying the crisis, in the last month the Trump administration buried a large climate disruption response plan, as revealed by Politico. The outlet revealed how the Agriculture Department prevented the release of an already completed and sweeping plan about how the government should best respond to the climate crisis…….

September 5, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian Medical Association labels climate change ‘a health emergency’

Australian Medical Association labels climate change ‘a health emergency’, SBS, 3 Sept 19 The Australian Medical Association has joined other international medical groups in recognising climate change as a “health emergency”.  The Australian Medical Association says the evidence on climate change is irrefutable and warns there will be more deaths from heat stress, severe weather events, hunger and disease.The AMA Federal Council declared at its meeting in Canberra that, “climate change is real and will have the earliest and most severe health consequences on vulnerable populations around the world, including in Australia and the Pacific region”.

The AMA has joined other international health organisations, including the American Medical Association, the British Medical Association, and Doctors for the Environment Australia, in labelling it a “health emergency”.

“The Federal Council recognises climate change as a health emergency, with clear scientific evidence indicating severe impacts for our patients and communities now and into the future,” the federal council says……..

Dr Bartone said the AMA was calling on the federal government to adopt several measures, including “mitigation targets” on carbon and policies that promote transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Japan’s dilemma over unsolved problem of Fukushima’s nuclear waste water

Japan briefs diplomats on Fukushima nuclear water concerns,  Japan tried to reassure foreign diplomats Wednesday about safety at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant amid concerns about massive amounts of treated but radioactive water stored in tanks.

Diplomats from 22 countries and regions attended a briefing at the Foreign Ministry, where Japanese officials stressed the importance of combating rumors about safety at the plant, which was decimated by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, while pledging transparency.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, said last month that it would run out of storage space for the water in 2022, prompting South Korea to raise safety questions amid tensions with Japan that have intensified over trade and history. South Korea was among those represented at Wednesday’s briefing.

Water must be continuously pumped into the four melted reactors at the plant so the fuel inside can be kept cool, and radioactive water has leaked from the reactors and mixed with groundwater and rainwater since the disaster.

The plant has accumulated more than 1 million tons of water in nearly 1,000 tanks. The water has been treated but still contains some radioactive elements. One, tritium — a relative of radiation-emitting hydrogen — cannot be separated.

Tritium is not unique to Fukushima’s melted reactors and is not harmful in low doses, and water containing it is routinely released from nuclear power plants around the world, including in South Korea, officials say.

The water has been a source of concern, sparking rumors about safety, especially as Japan tries to get countries to lift restrictions on food imports from the Fukushima area ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Import restrictions are still in place in 22 countries and regions, including South Korea and China.

“In order to prevent harmful rumors about the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant from being circulated, we believe it is extremely important to provide scientific and accurate information,” Yumiko Hata, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official in charge of the Fukushima accident response, said at the briefing. “We appreciate your understanding of the situation and continuing support for the decommissioning work at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.”

Officials said there were no complaints from the diplomats Wednesday about Japan’s handling of the water.

More than eight years after the accident, Japan has yet to decide what to do with the radioactive water. A government-commissioned panel has picked five options, including the controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean.

As disputes between Japan and neighboring South Korea escalated over export controls and colonial-era labor used by Japanese companies, Seoul last month announced plans to step up radiation tests of Japanese food products, and asked about the contaminated water and the possibility of its release into the sea.

Experts say the tanks pose flooding and radiation risks and hamper decontamination efforts at the plant. Nuclear scientists, including members the International Atomic Energy Agency and Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, have recommended the water’s controlled release into the sea as the only realistic option scientifically and financially. Local residents oppose this, saying the release would trigger rumors of contamination, which would spell doom for Fukushima’s fishing and agriculture industries.

The panel recently added a sixth option of long-term storage.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Minerals Council of Australia doesn’t like tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes

‘Misinformed’: Mining lobby hits out at Cannon-Brookes’ climate claims, Brisbane Times, By Nick Toscano and Darren Gray, September 5, 2019 The Minerals Council of Australia  has hit out at tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes accusing the Atlassian founder of accepting without question what it calls misinformed claims about its approach to climate change.

BHP, Australia’s largest miner, is facing a push from shareholders including Mr Cannon-Brookes to suspend its membership of industry groups accused of undermining the Paris climate accord goals through stances on various policy issues.

The resolution recommends BHP cut ties with a list of associations including the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), which it says has supported subsidies for coal-fired power stations in Australia and the development of a new thermal coal basin.

Mr Cannon-Brooks this week said: “Until BHP stops funding for coal lobbyists, we’re extremely sceptical of their environmental or green credentials”…….

September 5, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

September 4 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Those Who Come After Us Will Either Curse Us – Or Thank Us” • I first saw that climate was changing in 2000, when I went to Antarctica to study penguins. Closer to home, my best friend, a lobster fisherman for 25 years, lost his living over an eight-week span when all the […]

via September 4 Energy News — geoharvey

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

World Nuclear Symposium gearing up to escalate their Evil Uranium mining and New Nuclear Build Agenda. —

This is a message from Australian campaigners about the World Nuclear Symposium being held at Westminster Bridge. This affects us all! With the nuclear industry gearing up for new nuclear here in the UK and elsewhere. The most dangerous industry on the planet is literally getting away with it! Even green minded folk have bought […]

via World Nuclear Symposium gearing up to escalate their Evil Uranium mining and New Nuclear Build Agenda. —

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tasmania wind farm delivers Australia renewables target. But what’s next? — RenewEconomy

Clean Energy Regulator says Australia’s 2020 renewable energy target is officially met, nudged over the line by the Cattle Hill wind project in Tasmania. But should we be celebrating? The post Tasmania wind farm delivers Australia renewables target. But what’s next? appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Tasmania wind farm delivers Australia renewables target. But what’s next? — RenewEconomy

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Victoria rooftop solar scheme to re-open Thursday – 6,000 rebates still on offer — RenewEconomy

Solar Victoria’s online application portal to re-open Thursday September 5 at 9am, with around 6,000 home solar rebates still up for grabs. The post Victoria rooftop solar scheme to re-open Thursday – 6,000 rebates still on offer appeared first on RenewEconomy.

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September 5, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment