Australian news, and some related international items

Australian nuclear news- week to end of September

Greta Thunberg gave an impassioned speech at the United Nations Climate Summit, .  It has resulted in some quite vicious media attacks on her, while it has highlighted the inability of world leaders to take effective action to stop or slow global heating.

It has also sparked a new burst of climate denialism. Nevertheless, science persists in uncovering the unwelcome facts.  The French National Center for Scientific Research has just released a report warning that  Earth could warm 7 degrees C by the year 2100. Numerous scientific bodies warn on increasing greenhouse gases, and increasing pace of global heating.

The World Nuclear Energy Status Report 2019 was launched on September 24. Some brief notes on its findings are here. They indicate that the commercial nuclear industry is in decline.


CLIMATE. Sir David Attenborough slammed the Australian government’s response to climate change. Scott Morrison and Donald Trump happily together against action on climate change.  Scott Morrison on climate change: he just doesn’t “get it. Behind closed doors: Australia pushes reputation as world’s leading fossil fuel dealer.    Minerals Council of Australia makes global top 10 climate policy opponents.  Australian schoolgirl attends United Nations Youth Climate Summit.

NUCLEAR. 50+ groups sign joint civil society statement on domestic nuclear power.  Submission for the public good: to Federal Nuclear Inquiry – Noel Wauchope.    Lyn Allen and Richard Ledger’s nuclear submission – for the public good.  Nuclear submarines for Australia? Dangerous, would require costly taxpayer insurance.   NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro wants to “normalise”nuclear power.

Nuclear waste dump ballot to go ahead in Kimba, South Australia.

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Clean Energy Finance Corporation and National Farmers Federation back ready-made clean energy solutions for Australian farmersTwo huge renewable hydrogen projects planned for Queensland. Small but “smart” Kanowna solar farm comes on line in northern NSW. Australia’s main grid copes just fine with minimal amount of coal.


Leaders of world’s largest emitting economies do not have real plans to meet goal of net zero emissions.

Nuclear weapons an unacceptable danger to humanity – U.N.Secretary-General António Guterres.

Weapons proliferation risk of nuclear power in space.

Climate change makes nuclear waste even more of a deadly threat.  Nuclear power is on the skids: it’s really not going to help address climate change.  Nuclear energy too slow, too expensive to save climate: report .

Uranium industry in permanent collapse? And thorium industry probably no better.

September 30, 2019 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

50+ groups sign joint civil society statement on domestic nuclear power

Friends of the Earth Australia is proud to be among the 50+ groups to sign the following statement calling for a clean, green, nuclear-free future.

The statement has been submitted to the federal inquiry into nuclear power (you can read the FoE submission about ‘small modular reactors’ here and our statement about nuclear power and climate change here).

The strong level of trade union support for a nuclear-free future is very welcome, with key national unions and peak union bodies including the ACTU endorsing the statement below.


Our nation faces urgent energy challenges. Against a backdrop of increasing climate impacts and scientific evidence the need for a clean and renewable energy transition is clear and irrefutable. All levels of government need to actively facilitate and manage Australia’s accelerated transition from reliance on fossil fuels to low carbon electricity generation.

The transition to clean, safe, renewable energy should also re-power the national economy. The development and commercialisation of manufacturing, infrastructure and new energy thinking is already generating employment and opportunity. This should be grown to provide skilled and sustainable jobs and economic activity, particularly in regional Australia.

There should be no debate about the need for this energy transition, or that it is already occurring. However, choices and decisions are needed to make sure that the transition best meets the interests of workers, affected communities and the broader Australian society.

Against this context the federal government has initiated an Inquiry into whether domestic nuclear power has a role in this necessary energy transition.

Our organisations, representing a diverse cross section of the Australian community, strongly maintain that nuclear power has no role to play in Australia’s energy future.

Nuclear power is a dangerous distraction from real movement on the pressing energy decisions and climate actions we need. We maintain this for a range of factors, including:

  • Waste: Nuclear reactors produce long-lived radioactive wastes that pose a direct human and environmental threat for many thousands of years and impose a profound inter-generational burden. Radioactive waste management is costly, complex, contested and unresolved, globally and in the current Australian context. Nuclear power cannot be considered a clean source of energy given its intractable legacy of nuclear waste.
  • Water: Nuclear power is a thirsty industry that consumes large volumes of water, from uranium mining and processing through to reactor cooling. Australia is a dry nation where water is an important resource and supply is often uncertain.
  • Time: Nuclear power is a slow response to a pressing problem. Nuclear reactors are slow to build and license. Globally, reactors routinely take ten years or more to construct and time over-runs are common. Construction and commercialisation of nuclear reactors in Australia would be further delayed by the lack of nuclear engineers, a specialised workforce, and a licensing, regulatory and insurance framework.
  • Cost: Nuclear power is highly capital intensive and a very expensive way to produce electricity. The 2016 South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission concluded nuclear power was not economically viable. The controversial Hinkley reactors being constructed in the UK will cost more than $35 billion and lock in high cost power for consumers for decades. Cost estimates of other reactors under construction in Europe and the US range from $17 billion upwards and all are many billions of dollars over-budget and many years behind schedule. Renewable energy is simply the cheapest form of new generation electricity as the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator concluded in their December 2018 report.
  • Security: Nuclear power plants have been described as pre-deployed terrorist targets and pose a major security threat. This in turn would likely see an increase in policing and security operations and costs and a commensurate impact on civil liberties and public access to information. Other nations in our region may view Australian nuclear aspirations with suspicion and concern given that many aspects of the technology and knowledge base are the same as those required for nuclear weapons. On many levels nuclear is a power source that undermines confidence.
  • Inflexible or unproven: Existing nuclear reactors are highly centralised and inflexible generators of electricity. They lack capacity to respond to changes in demand and usage, are slow to deploy and not well suited to modern energy grids or markets. Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are not in commercial production or use and remain unproven and uncertain. This is no basis for a national energy policy.
  • Safety: All human made systems fail. When nuclear power fails it does so on a massive scale. The human, environmental and economic costs of nuclear accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima have been massive and continue. Decommissioning and cleaning up old reactors and nuclear sites, even in the absence of any accidents, is technically challenging and very costly.
  • Unlawful and unpopular: Nuclear power and nuclear reactors are prohibited under existing federal, state and territory laws. The nuclear sector is highly contested and does not enjoy broad political, stakeholder or community support. A 2015 IPSOS poll found that support among Australians for solar power (78‒87%) and wind power (72%) is far higher than support for coal (23%) and nuclear (26%).
  • Disproportionate impacts: The nuclear industry has a history of adverse impacts on Aboriginal communities, lands and waters. This began in the 1950s with British atomic testing and continues today with uranium mining and proposed nuclear waste dumps. These problems would be magnified if Australia ever advanced domestic nuclear power.
  • Better alternatives: If Australia’s energy future was solely a choice between coal and nuclear then a nuclear debate would be needed. But it is not. Our nation has extensive renewable energy options and resources and Australians have shown clear support for increased use of renewable and genuinely clean energy sources.

The path ahead:

Australia can do better than fuel higher carbon emissions and unnecessary radioactive risk.

We need to embrace the fastest growing global energy sector and become a driver of clean energy thinking and technology and a world leader in renewable energy technology.

We can grow the jobs of the future here today. This will provide a just transition for energy sector workers, their families and communities and the certainty to ensure vibrant regional economies and secure sustainable and skilled jobs into the future.

Renewable energy is affordable, low risk, clean and popular. Nuclear is simply not.

Our shared energy future is renewable, not radioactive.

September 30, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste dump ballot to go ahead in Kimba, South Australia

Robyn Wood Note the end with a quote from the Kimba pro nuker who will profit by selling his land. No quote from nuclear opponents. Have a read of the comments, most of them are opposed to the nuclear waste dump plan. The Barngarla people’s request for an injunction to stop the Kimba vote has been denied. The Kimba ballot is happening now. The Flinders Ranges council has agreed to do a risk assessment, but Canavan is not going to wait for the results before doing the Flinders ballot in November.

Nuclear waste dump ballot to proceed in South Australia Tim Dornin – AAP, The Advertiser, September 28, 2019
A ballot among the Kimba community, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, will begin next week as the local council seeks to gauge support for the construction of a nuclear waste dump.

It plans to post out ballot papers on Thursday, asking locals if they back locating the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility at one of two nominated sites in the region.

The vote comes after the Federal Court on Friday rejected another bid by the Barngarla people to stop it going ahead, pending more court action next year.

The Barngarla, who possess rights over much of the region around Kimba, have argued the poll is unlawful because it excludes native title holders.

That view was rejected by the Federal Court judge in July, a decision now subject to appeal. 
On Friday, another judge rejected a bid for an immediate injunction blocking the vote ahead of the appeal being heard.

Two sites near Kimba have been short-listed as potential locations for a low-level radioactive waste storage facility, while a third is near the Flinders Ranges town of Hawker.

The federal government is yet to reveal its preferred location but said recently it was mindful of the need to reach a decision.

On Friday the government said as well as the Kimba ballot and one to be conducted in the Hawker region in November, business owners and residents within a five-kilometre radius of the three nominated sites would also be surveyed.

The Barngarla had claimed their exclusion from the Kimba ballot was based on their Aboriginality and would impair their human rights or fundamental freedoms as native title owners.

Rejecting that argument in July, Justice Richard White ruled the council’s actions did not contravene racial discrimination laws.

On Friday, Justice Craig Colvin rejected the Barngarla’s argument that its chances of winning on appeal were strong and said the basis for an immediate injunction had not been made out.

National Radioactive Waste Management Taskforce general manager Sam Chard said the decision confirmed the community ballots could proceed.

“What this means is that after more than two years of consultation, communities will have multiple ways in which they can have their say on the proposal,” Ms Chard said.

‘”Whether individuals are for or against the facility, we’re confident the communities at the centre of the process are well informed.”

The Kimba council said it intended pushing ahead with the ballot as there was “no legal impediment” to it going ahead.

“Council’s position has always been to facilitate the ballot on behalf of the minister for resources and northern Australia so our community could have its voice heard,” Mayor Dean Johnson said.

The council plans to post out the voting papers on October 3, with the ballot to close on November 7.

Support for the nuclear waste facility is thought to be mixed across the local community.

Jeff Baldock, who has nominated his Kimba farm as a possible site, is backing the project as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure Kimba’s future”.

September 30, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Sir David Attenborough slammed the Australian government’s response to climate change

David Attenborough says Australian government ‘doesn’t give a damn’

about rest of the world, Telegraph, UK,  Giovanni Torre, perth

24 SEPTEMBER 2019 
Sir David Attenborough slammed the Australian government’s response to
climate change as the country’s prime minister Scott Morrison skipped
the United Nations Climate Summit in favour of a rally for President Donald

While the United Kingdom has reduced its carbon emissions over the past 12
years, emissions from Australia have increased and the country is among the
worst polluters per capita.

Sir David said the current Australian government had departed from the
previous government’s commitment to tackling climate change.
“(They had been) saying all the right things… then you suddenly say, ‘No it
doesn’t matter… it doesn’t matter how much coal we burn… we don’t give a
damn what it does to the rest of the world’,” he said.

Sir David noted that Mr Morrison brought a lump of coal into one of
Australia’s houses of Parliament in 2017, calling out to the opposition:
“Don’t be scared, it won’t hurt you”.

“If you weren’t opening a coal mine okay I would agree, it’s a joke. But you
are opening a coal mine,” he said.

Sir David noted that Mr Morrison had campaigned for re-election on a
platform of support for new coal mines.

Speaking from Chicago, Mr Morrison defended his government’s record on
climate change……


September 30, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

UK Energy chief advises scrapping Hinkley nuclear energy project, going for renewables instead

Telegraph 28th Sept 2019   Scrap Hinkley Point: nuclear plant is expensive and out of date, says Ovo Energy chief, Britain’s next nuclear power plant should be scrapped because it is wastefully expensive and out of date, according to the boss of Ovo Energy. The industry should instead look to the future with ever-cheaper renewable energy, said Stephen Fitzpatrick, the founder and chief executive of the group that will soon be the UK’s second-biggest supplier as Ovo acquires SSE’s consumer business.

“We should just call it a day. I thought at the time the deal was struck at £92.50 per megawatt
hour (MWh), inflation-linked, that it was a bad deal for customers. Unfortunately the technology, the design it is based on, is unproven,” he said. “Looking at the cost for customers of renewables, solar, and wind, the cost just keeps coming down. The cost for nuclear keeps going up.

It strikes me that this does not represent value for money for consumers, never more so than this week when the cost went up by £2.9bn.” The Hinkley Point C reactor will cost up to £22.5bn to build as costs keep rising above initial plans.

Mr Fitzpatrick would prefer the industry to invest in restructuring the energy network to handle more renewables, including the variable supply of wind and solar. This could be handled in
part with a “smart network” using batteries to handle shifting supply and demand.

“If you think about the £39/MWh that was achieved at the last auction for offshore wind, and when Hinkley Point goes live it is going to be about £100 more per MWh some time in the late 2020s,” he said. “If we make smart decisions and focus on value for money and what is best for the end consumer, I am quite sure we can keep costs [of decarbonising thenetwork] under control.”

September 30, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro wants to “normalise”nuclear power

NSW Deputy Premier calls for nuclear vote within three years, AFR,  Aaron Patrickn 30 Sept 19, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro suggested holding a non-binding vote at the next federal election to approve the introduction of nuclear power, a step that could help overcome entrenched opposition from the left to the low-emissions technology.

The leader of the state National Party is one of the leading political advocates for nuclear power, which is currently being investigated by parliamentary inquiries at the federal level and in NSW and Victoria.

“We could quite simply have a plebiscite at the 2022 election,” he told a conference run by the Australian Nuclear Association in Sydney. “We need to normalise [?] the conversation.

“Bit by bit it has become the norm. The negativity isn’t happening anymore. Australia is welcoming the conversation.”[?]

Supporters of nuclear power have been buoyed by the new political interest in nuclear, which received a boost when federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor initiated the federal inquiry last month.

At the University of Technology Sydney on Friday, several hundred engineers, regulators and policy experts gathered at the conference to discuss international developments and the Australian outlook.

“The conference is genuinely standing room only,” South Australian nuclear advocate Ben Heard said. “I have never seen it like this. Something is changing down under.”

The federal Coalition’s current policy is not to legalise nuclear power, but some federal and state Coalition MPs hope that developing community attitudes, and the pressure for action on global warming, could change the political environment.

The Labor Party and the Greens remain adamantly opposed. Labor climate change and energy spokesman Mark Butler has challenged the government to identify which cities, suburbs or towns would be the location for future nuclear reactors……..

Under a plan advocated by members of the Australia Nuclear Association, the federal government would build at least 20 nuclear power plants from 2030 to 2050.

At a cost of around $6 billion each, each plant would have a generating capacity of 1000 megawatts, which is about half AGL’s NSW Liddell power station, which is due to close in 2023…….

Nuclear critics, including former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, have said that the cheapest way to reduce emissions is to combine wind and solar power with some form of storage.

Although batteries have very limited capacity at the moment, experts expect them to improve in coming years.

September 30, 2019 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear submarines for Australia? Dangerous, would require costly taxpayer insurance

September 30, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment