Australian news, and some related international items

Submission for the public good: to Federal Nuclear Inquiry – Noel Wauchope

Recommendation. There is no need to change Australia’s laws prohibiting nuclear activities. They were devised to protect Australians from the health, and safety risks of nuclear facilities, – far-sighted in that they have saved Australia from the unnecessary expense of a now collapsing industry. Meanwhile Australia is very well placed to put energy and funds into truly modern developments, and could become a world leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

To start with, the title of this Inquiry , featuring the word  “prerequisite” really makes clear the major issue.

What is the major prerequisite?

Obviously the one important  prerequisite is to repeal Australia’s laws banning nuclear activities. 

First the Federal Law would have to be repealed. (a1)

Then – State Laws –  Victoria’s  NUCLEAR ACTIVITIES (PROHIBITIONS) ACT (a2) -and South Australia’s Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 (a3)




Once these laws are repealed, then nuclear industry proponents will be free to spend much money on publicising the benefits of the industry. With helpful politicians and press, particularly from the predominant Murdoch media, this will give the industry huge boost. As Australia moves further into drought and water shortages, they will claim that nuclear power is essential to solve climate change.  (Even if nuclear power could combat climate change, it would take decades to establish, and by then it would be too late.)

So – that is what the global nuclear industry needs, especially for South Australia, which has specific legislation against spending public money on promoting the nuclear industry .

While Australians have concerns about cost, safety, environment , health, wastes, Aboriginal rights, weapons proliferation etc, I am sure that the nuclear lobby will be able to overcome those hesitations, with an effective programme.

So, I have my doubts that the Terms of Reference matter all that much, but – here goes.  I understand that the emphasis in this Inquiry is on Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

a . waste management, transport and storage.    Continue reading

September 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison and Donald Trump happily together against climate change action

September 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

A warming world means an increased danger from nuclear wastes


Can Nuclear Power’s Deadly Waste Be Contained in a Warming World?  PART OF THE SERIES  Covering Climate Now, Truthout. Karen Charman 23 Sept 19, ‘…………Nuclear Energy Is Not “Clean”

Ever since the nuclear industry became a global pariah following Three Mile Island and the much more severe accident at Chernobyl in 1986, it has been desperately trying to make a comeback.

In the late 1980s, then-chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency Hans Blix began touting the idea that nuclear power should play a significant role in combating climate change because it does not release carbon while generating electricity, a position he continues to promote.

Several prominent advocates for addressing the climate crisis have taken up this call, some of the latest being Democratic presidential hopefuls Cory Booker and Andrew Yang.

……… Because of the huge volume of deadly poisons that the nuclear fission process creates, nuclear reactors need an uninterrupted electricity supply to run the cooling systems that keep the reactors from melting down, a requirement that may be increasingly difficult to guarantee in a world of climate-fueled megastorms and other disasters.

The ongoing accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan following the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 demonstrates the vulnerability of nuclear power plants to such disasters.

Nuclear boosters have been remarkably successful in ignoring and erasing the health effects of radiation exposure, enabling them to downplay the impacts of serious accidents. In truth, reactor meltdowns, depending on where they occur, can kill and injure enormous numbers of people and contaminate the air, water, land and food supply over thousands of miles with radiation. A 1982 study by the Sandia National Laboratory, one of the labs run by the U.S. Department of Energy, calculated deaths and injuries within a year of a core meltdown and subsequent cancer deaths at 76 different nuclear power plant sites, many of which were only proposed at that time. According to this study, the Salem nuclear plant outside Philadelphia could kill 100,000 people within a year, result in 40,000 subsequent cancer deaths and give another 70,000-75,000 people a range of radiation-related injuries. A 1997 report by Brookhaven National Laboratory on the potential consequences of a spent fuel accident also forecasted large numbers of fatalities.

Fission 101

The risks of radiation exposure are downplayed and easily dismissed as “irrational fear” because the physics and chemistry of the fission process and the radioactive elements it produces are complex and not understood by the general public and also because, except in cases of acute radiation poisoning, radiation is invisible.

Radioactive fission products are “variant forms of the ordinary chemicals which are the building blocks of all material and living things,” explains Dr. Rosalie Bertell in her book, No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth. The difference is that stable, non-radioactive atoms have an equal number of protons and electrons.

Nuclear fission creates an imbalance between protons and electrons, producing enormous quantities of hundreds of different radioactive elements — the high-level waste and activation products — all of which seek to return to a stable state. These unstable atoms become stable by knocking out the extra particles fission created, a process she says takes hundreds of thousands of years.

“Every such release of energy is an explosion on the microscopic level,” Bertell says. Radiation exposure is particularly damaging to the structure of cells, which is why it is necessary to keep these radioactive elements, known as radionuclides or radioisotopes, out of the bodies of humans, other living beings and the environment.

As climate models have long predicted, our warming world is now experiencing much larger and stronger storms with significantly more rainfall in the Earth’s wetter areas and more sustained and severe drought and wildfires in the drier regions. In 2019, the hottest June on record triggered an unprecedented fire season in the Arctic, with over 100 intense fires. The summer of 2019 also saw 55 billion tons of water melt off Greenland’s ice sheet in just five days, a rate scientists hadn’t expected for 50 years.

A month before the massive ice loss in Greenland, scientists predicted sea levels could rise 6.5 feet by the end of the century, submerging nearly 700,000 square miles of land.

Most nuclear power plants are located beside rivers, lakes, dams or oceans because they need a continuous source of water to cool the reactors. In August 2018, Ensia reported that at least 100 nuclear power plants built a few meters above sea level in the U.S., Europe and Asia would likely experience flooding due to sea level rise and storm surges.

Though nuclear reactors vary in generating capacity, 1,000 megawatts is common. A reactor of that size contains 100 metric tons of enriched uranium fuel, roughly a third of which needs to be replaced with fresh fuel each year. According to radioactive waste expert Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, the spent fuel, also known as high-level waste, becomes 2.5 million times more radioactive after undergoing nuclear fission in the reactor core.

In a May 2011 report, Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) senior scholar Robert Alvarez, a top official at the U.S. Department of Energy from 1993 to 1999, described the danger of high-level waste this way: “Spent fuel rods give off about 1 million rems (10,000 sieverts) of radiation per hour at a distance of one foot — enough radiation to kill people in a matter of seconds.”

The intense radioactivity the fission process creates is why reactor cores are surrounded by five-feet thick reinforced concrete containment structures and spent fuel must be shielded by at least 20 feet of water in pools for several years after it leaves the reactor.

As of September 2019, 444 nuclear reactors are operating in the world, with 54 under construction, 111 planned and 330 more proposed.

September 24, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian schoolgirl attends United Nations Youth Climate Summit.

Australian climate striker Harriet O’Shea Carre takes fight to New York, By Kirsten Robb  23 Sept 19, Every Friday night, 15-year-old Harriet O’Shea Carre can be found hanging upside down from an aerial hoop in an old train shed in Castlemaine, Victoria.

It takes an impressive amount of upper body and core strength to hoist herself up and twist her body into unnatural shapes on the apparatus. But Ms O’Shea Carre says performing in her aerial circus class is much easier than her other hobby: taking on politicians and big business in the fight against climate change.

She is one of the founding members of the School Strike For Climate (SS4C) movement in Australia. Ms O’Shea Carre has just taken her fight all the way to New York City, where she was invited to attend Saturday’s United Nations Youth Climate Summit.

Around the world on Friday, millions of students — including Ms O’Shea Carre — and their supporters skipped school and work to attend what was touted as the biggest climate protest in world history.

Organisers estimated around 4 million people in more than 163 countries turned out, including an estimated 300,000 Australians.

It was in October last year that the “Castlemaine Three” — Ms O’Shea Carre and her friends Milou Albrecht and Callum Neilson-Bridgefoot — started the Australian SS4C movement in the town of Castlemaine, 120 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.

The teens stumbled across an article about Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has been credited with beginning the global student climate movement.

“Milou read an article about Greta Thunberg when she was pretty much solo striking,” Ms O’Shea Carre said.

“She was really excited about it and she came to me on the school bus and was like, ‘Harriet, there’s this awesome article I read about this girl who’s doing this school strike.'”

After penning an impassioned letter to the editor of a Melbourne newspaper, the three teenagers and about two dozen classmates took the train from Castlemaine to Bendigo to protest outside the offices of their federal members of parliament, MP Lisa Chesters and Senator Bridget McKenzie.

The Castlemaine strikers then decided to hold a global SS4C on November 30. When their rally went viral, Prime Minister Scott Morrison famously called for “more learning in schools and less activism in schools”.

David Carre, Ms O’Shea Carre’s father, says the Prime Minister could not have helped more to galvanise the youth.

“It was probably the best thing he could have said in terms of mobilising these young people.

“To be so dismissive of them, and to suggest that they’re trying to get away with wagging school, that is just quite offensive.”

More than 10,000 went on strike on November 30. Another was held in March 2019, with 1.5 million striking around the world.

“We’re at a point in time where it’s an emergency, and we’re not seeing any action from our leaders,” Ms O’Shea Carre said.

“And if the people who are leading us aren’t doing any leadership, then I will.”

Ms O’Shea Carre was invited to attend the first United Nations Youth Climate Summit in New York City alongside Ms Thunberg.

While her parents and friends marched from Castlemaine to Melbourne, Ms O’Shea Carre joined the rally through the streets of Manhattan.

“It’s so inspiring to be here,” she told 7.30 from New York.

“There are so many people, I’m really excited to be involved in it.”

Ms O’Shea Carre says the group will keep striking until they get action.

“We’re not going to stop because there’s no point in having an education on a dead planet, and at this stage, that’s what we’re headed for.

“We’re going to keep going and keep fighting because we’re not going to let our future go away.”

September 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment