Australian news, and some related international items

Greig Myer’s fine submission to Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia

Submission 25 Greig Myer   Hopefully this will be the final time that our elected representatives waste time and money on a form of energy that has no public support in pretty much every country on the planet. This has been indicated time and again when the general public has been allowed to have a referendum on the issue. Historically the Australian government has sensibly recognised this in its general moratorium on nuclear power. I will rely on others providing the facts backing up the following broad statements:

There remains no proven long term safe storage facility for nuclear waste anywhere in the world. All facilities to date have experienced increasing leakage risks or actual leakage as time has gone on. The waste also requires ongoing management far beyond the average extent of human planning ability and is based on the assumption of an extraordinarily long stability of government and human affairs that have historically never persisted.

This remains the most basic and fundamental reason that nuclear power should not be considered.

The health and safety risks of nuclear power are massive and exist end to end. From mining uranium, to operating the facility, to dismantling it and storing the waste, at all points humans and the natural environment are exposed to very real risk of radiation exposure, and that is assuming things are operating well.

Nuclear power is currently the most expensive form of electricity generation available, as well as the most dangerous and the most polluting. The estimated costs of generating nuclear power never include the dismantlement of the reactor at the end of its life as well as the multi-generational cost of storage of the waste. These costs must be included in an assessment of nuclear power.

If experts are to be sought to provide an overview of nuclear power then some should be sourced from Germany which is closing down all its nuclear power, and Japan that is currently dealing with the reality of nuclear power when it goes wrong.

Australia as a major supplier of uranium is an enabler of the nuclear waste problem that is going to plague the world for generations. Just because an industry provides profit or jobs does not make it a conscionable activity. Australia could make a major contribution to ensuring that nuclear waste is at least somewhat reduced by shutting down its uranium producing mines. –

Some nuclear proponents raise the red herring of carbon emissions as a reason for nuclear power. Carbon dioxide is only one form of pollution that humanity has to deal with it as a result of its activities. Replacing one form of pollution with a far more toxic alternative is not progress.

There is urgent need for focus on the long-term stabilisation of Australia’s energy grid and this would be a much more appropriate focus for a Parliamentary Inquiry. Solar and wind power are cheap and whatever problems they have they are insignificant compared to the extreme risks that exist with nuclear power

Electric cars are coming and they provide a real opportunity to provide the grid stabilisation that is needed, if the Australian Government provides the appropriate guidelines (universal plug for all cars, all charging to be done between 10am and 2pm??). It is time to focus on the future and leave nuclear power in the past where it belongs. It has had 50 years to prove itself and it has failed comprehensively. 

September 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Submissions Federal 19 | Leave a comment

Former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calls nuclear power a “loopy” fad.

Pressure on PM to rule out nuclear power, By AAP Sep 6, 2019  Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under pressure to rule out nuclear power in Australia, with the opposition saying it’s too expensive and his predecessor calling it a “loopy” fad.

A parliamentary committee is looking at whether nuclear is a feasible, suitable and palatable solution for Australia’s future energy needs.
But Labor wants the coalition to put its nuclear “fantasy” to bed, saying it’s three times as costly as other options and wouldn’t be up-and-running for decades.
“It is a distraction that will do nothing to solve the energy crisis that is confronting Australian households and businesses now,” opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler told reporters in Adelaide on Thursday.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull hasn’t helped the coalition’s case, calling nuclear power a “loopy” fad and a distraction for Mr Morrison’s backbenchers.
Australia’s former leader expressed the view on Twitter, in a discussion about the coalition being in line to hit its 2020 renewable energy target.
“I am delighted the target has been met – but I never had any doubt it would be – the challenge now is making sure the storage/firming is in place to make the renewables reliable,” he wrote on Thursday night.
He said ensuring such reliability will require “careful planning and provision”.
But he stressed renewable energy has an edge over coal and “loopy” nuclear power.
“The bottom line is renewables + storage are cheaper than new coal let alone the loopy current fad of nuclear power which is the current weapon of mass distraction for the backbench.”
Energy Minister Angus Taylor asked for the inquiry amid growing calls from coalition backbenchers for the option to be seriously examined.
Last Thursday, the committee was warned by Ziggy Switkowski – who led a Howard government review into the power source – that there was a real risk of “catastrophic failure” if Australia adopted nuclear energy.

September 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Record warming coming to Eastern states because of sudden warming of air above Antarctica

The air above Antarctica is suddenly getting warmer – here’s what it means for Australia  The Conversation Harry Hendon, Senior Principal Research Scientist, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Andrew B. Watkins, Manager of Long-range Forecast Services, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Eun-Pa Lim, Senior research scientist, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Griffith Young, Senior IT Officer, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, September 6, 2019 

Record warm temperatures above Antarctica over the coming weeks are likely to bring above-average spring temperatures and below-average rainfall across large parts of New South Wales and southern Queensland.

The warming began in the last week of August, when temperatures in the stratosphere high above the South Pole began rapidly heating in a phenomenon called “sudden stratospheric warming”.

In the coming weeks the warming is forecast to intensify, and its effects will extend downward to Earth’s surface, affecting much of eastern Australia over the coming months.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting the strongest Antarctic warming on record, likely to exceed the previous record of September 2002…….

Although we have seen plenty of weak or moderate variations in the polar vortex over the past 60 years, the only other true sudden stratospheric warming event in the Southern Hemisphere was in September 2002.

In contrast, their northern counterpart occurs every other year or so during late winter of the Northern Hemisphere because of stronger and more variable tropospheric wave activity.

What can Australia expect?

Impacts from this stratospheric warming are likely to reach Earth’s surface in the next month and possibly extend through to January.

Apart from warming the Antarctic region, the most notable effect will be a shift of the Southern Ocean westerly winds towards the Equator.

For regions directly in the path of the strongest westerlies, which includes western Tasmania, New Zealand’s South Island, and Patagonia in South America, this generally results in more storminess and rainfall, and colder temperatures.

But for subtropical Australia, which largely sits north of the main belt of westerlies, the shift results in reduced rainfall, clearer skies, and warmer temperatures.

Past stratospheric warming events and associated wind changes have had their strongest effects in NSW and southern Queensland, where springtime temperatures increased, rainfall decreased and heatwaves and fire risk rose……

Effects on the ozone hole and Antarctic sea ice

One positive note of sudden stratospheric warming is the reduction – or even absence altogether – of the spring Antarctic ozone hole. This is for two reasons.

First, the rapid rise of temperatures in the upper atmosphere means the super cold polar stratospheric ice clouds, which are vital for the chemical process that destroys ozone, may not even form.

Secondly, the disrupted winds carry more ozone-rich air from the tropics to the polar region, helping repair the ozone hole.

We also expect an enhanced decline in Antarctic sea ice between October and January, particularly in the eastern Ross Sea and western Amundsen Sea, as more warm water moves towards the poles due to the weaker westerly winds…….

September 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

‘Bold’ scheme launches to power every property on SA’s Eyre Peninsula with solar  

‘Bold’ scheme launches to power every property on SA’s Eyre Peninsula with solar  ABC Eyre Peninsula   By Lucy Robinson and Emma Pedler 6 Sept 19,  An ambitious plan to power every property in one region of South Australia with solar has been labelled an Australian first — but experts are divided over whether it will work.

Key points:

  • The Eyre Peninsula in SA has been plagued by blackouts and a new Community Solar Scheme is rolling out to boost energy security in the region
  • The scheme includes finance solutions and free quotes to help people access the technology
  • SA Power Networks said the current energy network in SA has “limited capacity to support solar” across the state

Home to around 60,000 people, Eyre Peninsula has been plagued by blackouts in recent years and left without power for several days at a time on multiple occasions.

Its towns were among those hit hardest by the statewide blackouts in September 2016, with Eyre Peninsula businesses wearing a median cost of $10,000 from the event.

The Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association (EPLGA) has released a Community Solar Scheme, put together by Regional Development Australia (RDA), which it says could boost energy security while helping residents save money on power bills……..

September 7, 2019 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Storing nuclear waste not economically viable for U.S. State

Storing nuclear waste would only net Wyoming $10 million annually — raising doubts of its viability Star Tribune  Nick Reynolds 307-266-0634,  Sep 5, 2019 

    • Wyoming lawmakers made it clear this week they are serious about exploring the possible construction of a nuclear waste storage facility within state borders.

Whether it will even be possible, however, still remains to be seen.

Though conversations about potential risks to the environment or to human health were front and center at this week’s first – and only – meeting of the Spent Fuel Rods Subcommittee in Casper, the possibility that Wyoming would ever get a repository to store the nation’s nuclear waste seemed a distant one at the close of business Thursday…….

lawmakers on Thursday learned that the potential windfall from the federal government – at just $10 million a year – might not be worth the political battle ahead to make the proposal happen. …… “If the revenue isn’t there – and we’re only talking $10 million right now – there isn’t going to be any interest in this.”……..

some members of the public expressed concerns that the transportation and storage of nuclear waste could be dangerous  …..  while others saw the economic benefits of a nuclear storage facility to be minimal, and not worth the trouble  ….

“This bitty revenue stream isn’t worth it,” said Dallas Laird, a former Casper city councilman. “But I’m glad the Legislature is looking at ways to generate revenue for the state. It’s where you should be looking to spend its time. Not this.”

September 7, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Local Council rejects transport of nuclear waste through Somerset

Hinkley Point A nuclear waste transport plans refused, BBC, 5 September 2019  Plans to transport nuclear waste through Somerset and store it at Hinkley Point A, have been rejected by the county council.

Magnox, which manages the decommissioned site, applied for permission to bring waste from three UK power stations to the site by road.

But Somerset County Council voted unanimously to refuse the plans.

Magnox said it was disappointed the council had not agreed with the recommendation for approval.

Under current planning conditions, only waste generated on the Hinkley A site – which is currently under construction- can be stored there.

The company had applied to change the rules so it could transport and temporarily store waste from Oldbury in Gloucestershire, Dungeness A in Kent and Sizewell A in Suffolk.

It had wanted to make a total of 46 deliveries of “intermediate waste”, such as used nuclear fuel containers, by road through Bridgwater.

Despite being recommended for approval, the council’s regulation committee voted unanimously to oppose the application.

‘No benefit’

Councillor Simon Coles said approving the plans would send a message that more of the Hinkley A storage facility could become home to waste from other parts of the UK.

Brian Smedley, of Bridgwater Town Council, said the plans would have “no economic, social or environmental benefit” to the town…….

September 7, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Labor Party urges Prime Minister Scott Morrison to rule out nuclear power

Labor is pushing ScoMo to rule out nuclear power  Marnie Banger, 6 Sep 19  Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under pressure to rule out nuclear power in Australia, with the opposition saying it’s too expensive and his predecessor calling it a “loopy” fad.

September 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment