Australian news, and some related international items

Momentum grows for the rescue of Julian Assange

October 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

No benefit to Australia in planning for nuclear power – Tilman Ruff

Nuclear Promises, by Tilman Ruff, Back on the political agenda in Australia, but for what benefit? ARENA,  17 Oct 2019

In 2006 the Howard government commissioned nuclear enthusiast and former chair of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Ziggy Switkowski to undertake a review of nuclear power for Australia. …..

Switkowski’s review recommended twenty nuclear power stations up and down the east coast of Australia. Perhaps mostly intended as a political wedge for Labor and a distraction, proposed postcodes were not forthcoming from the government. At the first shadow cabinet meeting just weeks after its 2007 loss to Labor, the Coalition quickly and quietly dropped the nuclear-power dalliance that had proved distinctly unpopular.

So why are there currently four inquiries under way federally, in New South Wales and Victoria, looking for prospects to resurrect a decomposing corpse? If there were a level playing field, nuclear power would have been cremated a long time ago. The findings of recent inquiries and decisions in Australia and internationally underline this point.

A July 2019 report by the German Institute for Economic Research found no role for nuclear power in battling the climate catastrophe, given nuclear power’s innate connection with nuclear weapons: ‘…nuclear energy can by no means be called “clean” due to radioactive emissions, which will endanger humans and the natural environment for over one million years’. All nuclear energy production, it went on to say, ‘harbors the high risk of proliferation’. Its survey of the 674 nuclear power plants built between 1951 and 2017 showed that,

private economic motives never played a role. Instead military interests have always been the driving force behind their construction… In countries such as China and Russia, where nuclear power plants are still being built, private investment does not play a role either.

The study found that, even ignoring the expense of dismantling nuclear power plants and the long-term storage of nuclear waste, private investment in nuclear power plants would result in significant losses: ‘investing in a new nuclear power plant leads to average losses of around five billion euros’. It concluded that ‘nuclear energy is not a relevant option for supplying economical, climate-friendly, and sustainable energy in the future’.1

A December 2018 report by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) found that the cost of power from small modular nuclear reactors would be more than twice as expensive as power from wind and solar PV with some storage costs included (two hours of battery storage or six hours of pumped hydro storage).2 …….

In 2016 the highly pro-nuclear South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission found that nuclear power was not economically viable.4 While most recently, in January 2019, the Climate Council, comprising Australia’s leading climate scientists and other policy experts, issued a statement arguing that nuclear power reactors ‘are not appropriate for Australia and probably never will be’:

Nuclear power stations are highly controversial, can’t be built under existing law in any Australian state or territory, are a more expensive source of power than renewable energy, and present significant challenges in terms of the storage and transport of nuclear waste, and use of water.5

So what’s going on? Objectively, nuclear power is uniquely associated with a litany of profound dangers. Now that it is already at least twice as expensive as solar and wind power plus storage, each with negligible downsides, a natural death should have occurred long ago.

The current flurry of promotion of nuclear power in Australia seems to have several drivers. It is a convenient distraction for a government beholden to vested fossil-fuel interests, with no serious energy policy, overseeing still-ballooning Australian greenhouse-gas emissions. It is a sop to ideologues claiming credit for bringing the Coalition unexpectedly back to power. And it is a little nod to the goblins that keep alive the potential need for Australia to acquire its own nuclear weapons, recently given a fillip by Hugh White and a large amount of airplay.

So it is necessary to remind ourselves of some of the reasons that the most hazardous way to boil water to make electricity has no place here, or anywhere.

Nuclear power fuels nuclear proliferation   It was recognised way back in 1977 by the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry, which preceded the expansion of commercial uranium mining in Australia, that nuclear power contributes to an increased risk of nuclear war, and that ‘this is the most serious hazard associated with the industry’…..

Australian history underscores the inseparable ‘Trojan horse’ consequences. The government of Prime Minister John Gorton commenced construction of Australia’s first nuclear power reactor at Jervis Bay in New South Wales in the late 1960s, largely to accelerate Australia’s capacity to build its own nuclear weapons. Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC) chair J. P. Baxter spoke of ‘the indissoluble connection between the peaceful and military uses of nuclear materials’. A briefing to the minister for the interior in 1969 stated: ‘From discussions with the AAEC officers it is understood that in establishing the Australian nuclear power industry it is desired to provide for the possibility of producing nuclear weapons…’.10 Gorton later admitted: ‘We were interested in this thing because it could provide electricity to everybody and it could, if you decided later on, it could make an atomic bomb’…….

As the costs of nuclear power have risen to become more than twice as expensive as either wind or solar power with storage, it has become increasingly obvious that some governments maintain civilian nuclear infrastructure and workforce expertise principally to support their nuclear-weapons programs and naval propulsion, including nuclear missile–carrying nuclear-powered submarines. Such governments include those of France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States

Nuclear reactors create enormous radiological hazards over geological time Every phase of the nuclear fuel chain from the mining of uranium to radioactive waste disposal emits radiation and involves risks to health and the biosphere. In seventy years, no deep geological repository or other final disposal solution for highly radioactive waste from nuclear reactors is operating. The capacity of any repository to effectively and reliably isolate waste from the biosphere for a million years and keep it secure from use in radiological weapons over periods orders of magnitude longer than the longevity of any previous human institution cannot be sure. And this is a significant impost on future generations.

In addition to many near-misses, at least fifteen accidents have occurred involving fuel or core damage, with substantial risk of uncontrolled radioactive release, in a variety of reactor types in Canada, Germany, Japan, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and the United States. …….

Nuclear reactors and their spent fuel pools contain large amounts of radioactivity that is more long-lived than that produced by nuclear weapons. Both require continuous cooling. Unlike the several layers of engineered containment around nuclear reactors, spent fuel pools have no containment other than a simple roof over them. At the Fukushima Daiichi plant severely damaged in the 2011 nuclear disaster, 70 per cent of the total radioactivity at the site was in the spent fuel pools…….

The web of links between nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors, and the materials that power both are deep and inextricable. Nuclear power cannot solve our climate crisis, and it aggravates the existential danger posed by nuclear weapons. Jumping out of the climate-crisis frying pan and into the fire of radioactive incineration, nuclear ice age and famine is a lose-lose dalliance with extinction. Promotion of nuclear power as a claimed climate-friendly energy source is a lose-lose proposition. As noted in 2010 by the board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, ‘Nuclear war is a terrible trade for slowing the pace of climate change’.17 Nuclear power is pushed along because of powerful vested interests and a desire to keep powder dry for nuclear weapons. The twin concurrent existential threats of climate disruption and nuclear war demand win-win solutions. A healthy and sustainable future for life on earth requires that we rapidly transition to renewable energy systems and net zero carbon emissions, and that we prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons, with the utmost urgency.

October 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australian media push for press freedom (pity they’re not helping Julian Assange, though)

October 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Complications and secrecy about the Australian govt’s plans for nuclear waste dumping in the Flinders Ranges

No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia, 21 Oct 19,


“4.2 NRWMF Risk Assessment and SWOT
Moved Councillor Taylor, Seconded Councillor Reubenicht

That: a. pursuant to Section 90(2) of the Local Government Act 1999, the Council orders that all members of the public with the Exception of the Acting Chief Executive Officer, Acting Finance & Administration Manager and T Davies be excluded from attendance at the meeting for Agenda Item 4.2 – NRWMF Risk Assessment and SWOT Analysis;

b. the Council is satisfied that pursuant to Section 90(3)(i) of the Local Government Act 1999, the information relates to litigation that the council believes on reasonable grounds will take place, involving the council; and

c. the Council is satisfied that the principle that the Meeting be conducted in a place open to the public has been outweighed in the circumstances because of the potential litigation.

CARRIED (255/2019) Council moved into Confidence and all members of the public left the Chambers at 6:54pm”


Tim Bickmore Also…. The SWOT plan supposed to be released publicly on November 7… “Meeting moved out of Confidence and was reopened to attendance of the Public at 8:12pm

Moved Councillor Reubenicht, Seconded Councillor Anderson

That Pursuant to Section 91(7) of the Local Government Act 1999, the Council orders that the following document(s) (or part) shall be kept confidential, being document(s) (or part) relating to a matter dealt with by the Council on a confidential basis under Sections 90(2) and 90(3)(i) of the Local Government Act 1999:
• NRWMF SWOT Analysis and Risk Assessment;
• The Minutes of Special Meeting 16 October 2019; and

That the order shall operate until the Minister or his authorised representative gives consent for the information to be released either in draft or final form or 7 November 2019 whichever
is the sooner.

Kazzi Jai Omg! So…..if you use the SWOT – even though it is financed by the Feds – it is in contravention of our State Legislation and so the Council is open to liability? Is that correct?
The Feds ALWAYS THOUGHT that they have this one in the bag with respect to SWOT – that’s why they were happy to finance it but set the ballot date anyway!
Arrogant &%$#%&s

  • Kazzi Jai Can’t a copy get “accidentally released”? Just like ScoMo’s talking points email?
    Or get the Feds to release it – since they said this is an “open and transparent process” supposedly??
    Noel Wauchope I don’t really understand what this is all about, but methinks that perhaps the nuclear lobby’s waste dump plans just got a tad more complicated?

    Kazzi Jai, It will be IF the Feds don’t step in and release the SWOT results!

    Kazzi Jai The Councils will RUE THE DAY they EVER had anything to do with this whole sorry process!! The Bribe Money should have been the BIG Warning Light!

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

Three ANSTO nuclear workers exposed to radiation

Three workers exposed to radiation,  By SEAN PARNELL Australia’s $200m nuclear medicine facility breached its licence when three staff members were exposed to radiation….. (subscribers only)

October 21, 2019 Posted by | - incidents, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | 1 Comment

Prime Minister Scott Morrison caught out pretending about renewable energy

Morrison ‘pretending on renewable energy’, Herald Sun, 

Emily Cosenza, Australian Associated Press, October 19, 2019 Australian households and businesses are grappling with the worst energy crisis since the mid-1970s, the energy opposition spokesperson Mark Butler says.

According to Mr Butler, renewable energy investment had collapsed by more than 50 per cent in the first half of the year.

He said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had been caught out pretending Australia was leading the world on renewable energy investment.

“(This is) against the advice of his own government department,” Mr Butler told reporters on Saturday.

“Power bills are going up (and) wholesale prices are up by 158 percent since 2015 alone, according to the Grattan Institute.

“Because of this collapse in renewable energy investment, thousands of good, well-paying jobs in that industry, which are growing everywhere else around the world, are also now at risk.”

In September, the Clean Energy Council announced it feared power prices would rise if the federal government did not extend the renewable energy target. The group said new renewable energy investment projects plunged this year, after reaching a high in late-2018……..

October 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

ANSTO’s nuclear medicine problems

Why is there no mention of the fact that all meedical radioisotopes, including technetium 99m can now be produced by a cycclotron, without need of a nuclear reactor?


The marketing material sent out by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation was clear: its planned nuclear medicine facility, ANM, costing $169m and due by the end of 2016, was a big deal.

State of the art. World-class. A significant improvement on the existing facilities that already performed a lifesa NM will position Australia as a global leader in the high-end manufacturing of nuclear medicine used in over 45 million medical procedures globally each year to diagnose cancers, heart disease and skeletal conditions,” ANSTO boasted……

Atomic angst

Alongside Australia’s nuclear reactor in southwest Sydney are several buildings crucial to the production of nuclear medicine.

On the morning of August 22, 2017, around 7am, one of ANSTO’s quality control analysts dropped a vial containing a solution of the isotope Mo-99 in Building 23 at the reactor site. There, Mo-99 produced in another building is used to make Tc-99m generators for use in nuclear medicine.

Experts would later express alarm at what the worker had been required to do, likening it to “reaching around a tree truck with both hands, to perform a critical procedure” — using tongs to remove the cap from a small bottle. It was an accident waiting to happen.

Building 23 is an older facility, relying on manual labour more than automation, having originally been intended for research, not manufacturing. Even though the breakage was inside a fume cabinet it still contaminated the worker’s gloves — two pairs, worn as a precaution — and, worryingly, the skin underneath.

GRAPHIC: Ill health industry

A specialist oncologist determined the worker had been exposed to about 20 times the statutory annual dose limit of radiation. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency deemed it a level 3 serious incident on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) and notified the International Atomic Energy Agency. It was the first time ARPANSA had reported a level 3 incident, on a scale ranging from 0, where there are no safety implications, to level 7 events such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.

“The injury has caused skin blistering, erythema and desquamation,” ARPANSA reported to parliament in February last year.

“Recent medical observations dated January 2018 showed the tissue damage to the skin of both hands is ongoing. The healing will take months and there is a risk of longer term effects.”

ARPANSA found ANSTO in breach of legislation on the basis it “had many opportunities to prevent the accident or reduce the likelihood of occurrence and/or severity of the accident consequence” and had failed to act.

ANSTO vowed to do better. However, three further safety incidents, as well as a conveyor breakdown in Building 23 that halted production of generators, led ARPANSA to issue a rare formal direction to ANSTO demanding an independent review.

Staff under pressure

The review found culture and morale at ANSTO Health, its nuclear medicine arm, had “significantly deteriorated” under internal changes and constant pressure to do more with less……..

at the end of last year the IAEA sent its own 20-member review team to inspect Australian facilities and, primarily, the regulatory system in which they operated.

Early this year they made a series of recommendations, including that the commonwealth “take actions with specific milestones to address decommissioning of facilities and radioactive waste management by assuring the strategies, programs, funding and technical expertise for safe completion are in place”……..

in June, the ANM facility had to be shut down after the hands of three workers were exposed to radiation, two of whom received a dose that exceeded the recommended annual limit.

The incident was classified level 2, and ARPANSA last month again found ANSTO in breach. Building 54 was hastily reopened before the ANM facility was cleared to resume production.

Then, last month, the unthinkable happened: the ANM facility broke down due to a mechanical fault with a gate valve at the top of a dissolution cell.

Fixing it would be no easy task, made more complicated by the presence of radiation and the effort needed to contain it.

There were no immediate safety concerns for workers but ANSTO has been forced to import Mo-99 ever since.

Currie says importing Mo-99 at least involves less wastage than the previous scenario whereby Mo-99 was traded away for generators, both of which have a limited shelf life…..

ANSTO has never revealed the full cost of the imports and other contingencies, but recently raised its prices.

Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews hasn’t had much to say about all the problems but the government directed another $56m to ANSTO in the last budget.

Funding for new facilities has yet to be allocated.

October 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Maralinga nuclear test site used to house thousands of people, now there’s just three

Maralinga nuclear test site used to house thousands of people, now there’s just three, ABC North and West SA , By Gary-Jon Lysaght and Samantha Jonscher

Between 1956 and 1963, when the British government tested nuclear weapons in outback South Australia, Maralinga was home to thousands of soldiers and scientists.

The land was taken from its traditional owners, the Maralinga Tjarutja, before an official hand back in 2009.

Now, Oak Valley to the north is the largest Aboriginal community on the Maralinga Tjarutja lands.

But the former military test site itself is home to three people — two caretakers and a tour guide…….

October 21, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison on the drought (“Climate” is a dirty word)

Scott Morrison says drought the Coalition’s ‘first call’ – but makes no mention of climate

Prime minister suggests Coalition may commit to extra funding relief in Liberal party federal council speech, Ben Doherty, @bendohertycorro, Sat 19 Oct 2019 The Guardian

Scott Morrison has indicated the federal government might be prepared to commit extra relief funding to drought-stricken communities, reaffirming the drought is the government’s top priority.

In a triumphal speech to the Liberal party’s federal council in Canberra on Saturday, Morrison again said the drought was “the most pressing and biggest call on our budget”.

“It is the first cab off the rank, the first thing we sit together and say, ‘Once we have done everything we can in this area, then we can consider other priorities’…….

The prime minister did not mention the climate crisis while detailing the government’s three-phase drought response package thus far: the farm household allowance for eligible farming families; the drought communities program dedicating $100m to councils affected by the drought; and long-term drought resilience plans, including money for new dams and the drought future fund. ………

The government has been criticised by Labor for moving too slowly on the drought. Accusing the government of “six years of inaction”, Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon has called for a bipartisan drought war cabinet to be established.

“What began as crisis for our farmers fast moved to a crisis for our rural townships, which are literally running out of water,” he said. “And I fear that we now are fast approaching a threat to our food security … We need to sit the major parties down together and to start making some pretty significant decisions.”

The drought response has also been questioned by some councils, including Moyne shire in south-west Victoria, which was given $1m despite not being in drought and whose mayor said he wanted to refuse it…….

October 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australian government’s “entrenched” anti-climate attitude – John Hewson

John Hewson slams Coalition on climate change while business takes lead reducing emissions,  ABC, NSW Country Hour, 20 Oct By Joshua Becker

Former Liberal leader and treasury economist John Hewson has delivered a scathing rebuke of the Federal Government’s climate change policy during an address to farmers and industry leaders.

Key points:

  • John Hewson takes aim at the Government’s policies and its “entrenched anti-climate sentiment’
  • The former Liberal leaders argues that regenerative agriculture can offset a large amount of future emissions
  • Academics say government policy might be less influential than market forces as companies move faster to reduce emissions

“We don’t have a sense of urgency to achieve these emission [reduction] targets,” he told the Australian Farm Institute Roundtable in Canberra.

“There’s an entrenched anti-climate sentiment in the Government at the moment, and indeed government ministers are not turning up at events if they have the word ‘climate’ in the title.

“The comments made by the Prime Minister at the UN, that we are going to meet our emissions targets, was a gross misrepresentation and was staggering for someone in his position.”

Dr Hewson, who is now the chair of the Business Council for Sustainable Development, said he would like to see regenerative agriculture form part of the solution.

“Regenerative agriculture can offset a very significant portion of our future emissions, and I’m staggered that is not being recognised by the National Party,” he said.

“It would have a lot of benefits for regional Australia; a farmer could earn carbon credits or a stream of income for sequestering carbon on their farm.”

Is agriculture prepared to be part of the solution?

Large multinational food companies are moving to adopt new targets to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, which represents companies like Nestle, Unilever, Mars and Danone, has backed calls for companies to use their political influence to push governments to implement a science-based policy agenda.

Some academics believe this marks a shift in the global effort to combat climate change, when companies are moving faster than governments to reduce emissions.

Richard Eckard, a professor of agricultural sciences at the University of Melbourne, said government policy might be less influential than market forces.

“In the past six months, I’ve been back and relooked at all these companies’ sustainability statements and noticed that they’ve all switched to absolute emission reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement,” he said.

“Some of them have interim steps to get there, but all of them are aiming for carbon-neutral food production by 2050.”……

October 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | 2 Comments

Granville Harbour wind farm nears first generation in Tasmania — RenewEconomy

Tasmania’s 112MW Granville Wind Farm on track to start sending power to the grid in December, with the first of its 31 turbines nearing completion. The post Granville Harbour wind farm nears first generation in Tasmania appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Granville Harbour wind farm nears first generation in Tasmania — RenewEconomy

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here’s how to get Australian renewables into the zone — RenewEconomy

Rather than a hedge, regulators should encourage wind and solar generators to connect early through lower access charges to help unlock the lack of investment in network infrastructure. The post Here’s how to get Australian renewables into the zone appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Here’s how to get Australian renewables into the zone — RenewEconomy

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Activists urge Japan to avoid Fukushima in Tokyo Olympics — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Oct 10, 2019 South Korean civic groups on Thursday kicked off a global campaign against potential radiation risks during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, demanding that Japan ban Fukushima food products and cancel games at the Japanese city. “We launch an international campaign to protect thousands of athletes and visitors at the Tokyo Olympics from […]

via Activists urge Japan to avoid Fukushima in Tokyo Olympics — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Typhoon Hagibis Redistributes Fukushima Radionuclides — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

The real problem, more than bags of radioactive waste flushed into rivers, is the dispersion of radioactive contamination by the flood. Contaminated land and radionuclides move to homes coming from mountains and forests that had never been decontaminated. In addition, the deposition of contaminated sludge at the bottom of rivers and dams has been disturbed […]

via Typhoon Hagibis Redistributes Fukushima Radionuclides — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lies dominates typhoon Hagibis Diet debate response — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

For bags made to resist only 3 years, they fared incredibly well in this powerful typhoon, that after 8 years, more than double their resistance expectancy…. The lies and cover-up continue: Koizumi (Environment Minister) insists that “there won’t be any impact on the environment” regarding radioactive bags swept away by the typhoon. Koizumi said, “I’ve […]

via Lies dominates typhoon Hagibis Diet debate response — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment