Australian news, and some related international items

Voting begins in Kimba as nuclear waste issues divide the community

‘The most divisive thing’: two small towns brace for a vote on nuclear waste

Whatever the result, the communities on South Australia’s Eyre peninsula are split over the issue – and will be for some time, Guardian,   Calla Wahlquist  27 Oct 19, After four years of speculation and three years of consultation, the small towns of Kimba and Hawker in South Australia have begun the final stage of a process that has divided neighbours and placed these otherwise forgotten communities on the national map.On 7 November, the Kimba district council will announce the result of a month-long vote on whether its residents support the construction of a nuclear waste facility at one of two proposed sites. On 11 November a similar vote will open for the Flinders Ranges council over a third proposed site at Wallerberdina.

The search for a suitable site has taken more than 30 years. If one or both of the communities vote yes, the resources minister, senator Matt Canavan, could name the final site by the end of the year.

The government has always said a facility will only be built in a community that broadly supports it,” Canavan said in a statement to Guardian Australia. “If a community returns a majority no vote, the government will not proceed with the construction of a facility in that community.”

Kimba and Hawker are only 200km apart, falling on either side of Port Augusta at the top of the Eyre peninsula. They are both in the federal electorate of Grey. The former federal member, Barry Wakelin, has drawn criticism from his ex-Liberal party colleagues for publicly criticising the proposal, citing as his chief concern the impact of community division.

“Once you divide the community, where there are really clear views one way or the other, it’s quite difficult to settle that down again,” he says.

What is proposed?

The proposed Wallerberdina site is on rangelands (used for grazing), occupying a 100 hectare slice of the 23,580ha station owned by former Liberal senator Grant Chapman, who sat on nuclear waste committees in his 28 years in parliament.

Both of the proposed sites at Kimba are on farming country, prompting a grassroots campaign against the use of agricultural land to dump nuclear waste.

All three sites were volunteered by the property owners, as part of a process that saw 28 sites nominated across Australia. The government says it is a coincidence that the three finalists are in one narrow patch of SA.

The proposed facility would provide for the disposal of low-level nuclear waste and the temporary storage — for how long it’s not clear — of intermediate-level nuclear waste.

“The facility will be able to hold Australia’s current and future intermediate-level waste until [the] establishment of a permanent facility for this material,” the taskforce says in a statement to Guardian Australia. “The permanent facility will be in a different location and of a different type.”

It says there’s about 1,771 cubic metres of intermediate-level waste and 4,975 cubic metres of low-level waste at 100 sites across Australia, including the Lucas Heights reactor, and those volumes are expected to rise incrementally over time.

There are 45 jobs promised as part of the facility and the host community will also receive $31m in federal funding, including $20m for community projects and $3m designated for Indigenous groups.

Both the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, covering Kimba, and the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (Atla), covering Hawker and Wallerberdina, oppose the facility.

Regina McKenzie, an Adnyamathanha traditional owner who lives on a station adjoining Wallerberdina, says federal contractors damaged a cultural women’s site while conducting their cultural heritage survey. Atla was working with the station owner to catalogue the archeological and intangible heritage before the site was volunteered for a nuclear facility, but say they have since been left out.

“The government has been talking at us, they have not been talking with us,” she says.

The Barngarla lost a federal court challenge arguing that all registered native title holders should be eligible to vote in the community ballot, whether they are local residents or not, and are appealing that decision to the full court. An attempted injunction to stop the community ballot going ahead until that appeal was heard was unsuccessful. ………

Wakelin says the decision ought to have been made without money on the table. Affected communities have already received $5.76m in funding for community projects and a further $4m was announced this month.

He says politicians are “petrified” of discussing nuclear waste, and he believes the federal government will try to get the issue resolved quickly – even if both communities vote no.

“As the minister tells us now: ‘Yeah, you can vote, but I’ll still make the decision’,” he says.

Greg Bannon, a spokesman for the Flinders Local Action Group, has been opposed to the project since Wallerberdina was named as one of six shortlisted sites in November 2015 (the site was named Barndioota at the time). He knows the area well from working as a jackeroo. It’s typically very dry but has been known to flood, and abuts the Flinders Ranges, the most seismically active area of SA.

“I thought: this cannot be the right place, it must be a mistake,” Bannon said…….

October 28, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

MP Sonja Terpstra and Victoria’s Labor government stand by existing bans on nuclear activities

Sonja Terpstra, State Labor Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region “….The Victorian Government and I do not support the state parliamentary inquiry into the use of nuclear energy. We stand by our existing ban on nuclear power and are committed to retaining the Victorian Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1963.

It makes no sense to construct nuclear power stations in Australia. They present significant community, environmental and health risks, not to mention the ongoing and yet unsolved problem of the disposal of nuclear waste. Instead through the Victorian Labor Government’s ambitious Victorian Renewable Energy Target, we are giving the renewable energy sector the confidence needed to invest in the clean energy projects and jobs that are crucial to our future….”

October 28, 2019 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Science journalism – run by white men, but should be more diverse

October 28, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

New political party Reform WA wants nuclear power as an option for Western Australia

New political party Reform WA wants nuclear power as an option for Western Australia

October 28, 2019 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Just 413 people can make the decision on storage of Australia’s nuclear waste

Tim Bickmore shared a post.No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia, 27 Oct 19,

70% of the Kimba vote is in.

Only 413 people (50%+1 of 825) could determine the location of Australia’s entire radioactive waste stockpile for the duration of an unknown potential number of centuries.

That’s democracy for ya…..

Have you posted your ballot paper back yet? As of this morning the Australian Electoral Commission advised us that they have received 569 ballot papers (69.13%). Please be aware that whilst the closing date for the ballot is Thursday the 7th November 2019 at 10am, adequate time needs to be allowed to ensure your ballot reaches Adelaide and is included in the count by the above date and time.

October 28, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Inexplicable silence on the danger of transporting nuclear wastes across Australia

Paul Waldon Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA   October 26 2019

Transportation of nuclear waste maybe one of the biggest, non talked about mediums responsible for the migration of radioactive contamination. If we don’t ship it to Hawker or Kimba it reduces the risk of contaminating such environments. Remember Australia has a “high grade” nuclear waste dump, it’s called ANSTO, Lucas Heights, and will remain so for more than ten years after it shuts its doors.

October 28, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

240 conservation scientists call on Australian government to strengthen environmental protection laws

Letter by 240 leading scientists calls on Scott Morrison to stem extinction crisis, More than 240 conservation scientists sign open letter warning PM that 17 Australian native species face extinction in next 20 years. Guardian,  Adam Morton Environment editor @adamlmorton, Mon 28 Oct 2019 More than 240 conservation scientists have called on Scott Morrison to drop his opposition to stronger environment laws and seize a “once-in-a-decade opportunity” to fix a system that is failing to stem a worsening extinction crisis.

With the federal government due to this week announce a 10-yearly legislated review of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, the scientists have signed an open letter to the prime minister urging him to increase spending and back laws to help protect the natural world from further destruction.

The letter says three native species have become extinct in the past decade and another 17 could follow in the next 20 years. More than 1,800 Australian plants and animals are formally listed as threatened with extinction, but the scientists say this is an underestimate.

“Our current laws are failing because they are too weak, have inadequate review and approval processes, and are not overseen by an effective compliance regime,” the scientists say.

“Since they were established (in 1999), 7.7m hectares of threatened species habitat has been destroyed. That’s an area larger than Tasmania. Meanwhile, the number of extinctions continue to climb, while new threats emerge and spread unchecked.”

Environmental law was a point of difference at this year’s election, with Morrison pledging to limit “green tape” that he said cost jobs while Labor promised a new environment act and a federal environment protection authority.

Lesley Hughes, a distinguished professor of biology at Macquarie University, member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a signatory to the letter, said environmental protections had been consistently wound back over the past decade, most often by conservative governments.

She said it was having a significant impact, pointing to the 2016 state-of-the-environment report that found Australia was facing multiple environment changes and lacked a national policy that established a clear vision for the protection and sustainable management of the country’s natural heritage.

She also cited a WWF assessment that ranked eastern Australia as one of the world’s top 11 deforestation hotspots. Australia was the only developed country on the list.

“It’s a very grim picture,” Hughes said. “This letter is a pre-emptive strike to say this is an opportunity to do it better, this is not an opportunity to weaken and dilute the existing weak laws.”

Morrison’s pledge not to increase environmental laws came as a United Nations global assessment found biodiversity was declining at an unprecedented rate, with one million species across the globe at risk of extinction and human populations in jeopardy if the trajectory was not reversed.

The environment minister, Sussan Ley, said the review of the EPBC Act was an independent process that would encourage submissions from a wide variety of perspectives…….

October 28, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

85 fires burning across New South Wales

Warnings issued as dozens of bushfires burn across New South Wales, Almost 1200 firefighters are tackling large bushfires on the NSW mid-north coast among scores of blazes around the state. SBS, 27 Oct 19,

Warning levels for two bushfires on the NSW mid-north coast have been increased to watch and act, with close to 1200 firefighters battling 85 blazes around the state.

An out-of-control blaze in the Darawank area, north of Forster-Tuncurry, has burnt more than 2300 hectares, the NSW Rural Fire Service said.

Fire activity has increased under the influence of erratic winds, it said in a statement on Sunday afternoon.   The fire has crossed The Lakes Way and is burning towards Failford, where smoke and ashes may be encountered.

“There are a number of small active areas throughout the fireground,” NSW RFS said.

“Firefighters and aircraft continue work to slow the spread of the fire.”

The blaze is producing large amounts of smoke……..

At midday some 85 fires were burning across the state with 45 not contained.

Nearly 1200 firefighters are working to contain the fires, NSW RFS said.

Embers from the Tuncurry blaze travelled kilometres ahead of the fire front on Saturday, creating spot fires in suburban backyards and the headland at Forster Main Beach……

October 28, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

USA’s Plowshare anti-nuclear activists found guilty of all charges

Kings Bay Plowshares activists found guilty of all charges,,Oct 25, 2019, by Jesse Remedios
BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA — A jury unanimously found seven Catholic activists guilty Oct. 24 of conspiracy, destruction of government property, depredation and trespassing for a 2018 anti-nuclear weapons protest at Kings Bay Naval Base in Georgia.The verdict, which came after a little more than two hours of deliberation, was the culmination of a four-day trial at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The seven activists, who were tried together but received individual verdicts, were found guilty on all four charges brought against them and now face up to 20 years in prison.

The seven defendants, known together as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, are Elizabeth McAlister, 79; Jesuit Fr. Stephen Kelly, 70; Martha Hennessy, 64; Patrick O’Neill, 63; Clare Grady, 60; Mark Colville, 58; and Carmen Trotta, 57. Five of the seven — all but Hennessy and McAlister — represented themselves.

Bill Quigley, who represented McAlister and is a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, said in a statement outside the courthouse that it was an “honor to be with these seven brave, courageous, faithful people.”

“They have told the truth despite the cost. They have taken their actions despite the risks. And they still have more consequences to go in their efforts to try and save all of our lives, and the lives of all of our children and grandchildren, and the lives of everybody around the world,” Quigley said.

The group was arrested in the early morning hours of April 5, 2018, on Kings Bay Naval Base where they broke in to perform a non-violent protest known as a “plowshares action,” taking its name from a verse in the book of Isaiah that says “nations will beat swords into plowshares.” The protest included symbolically hammering on statues of nuclear missiles, pouring human blood around the base and hanging banners with messages denouncing nuclear weapons.

In August 2019, a federal judge denied the activists’ request to dismiss charges under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

During the trial, O’Neill told the jury that a dramatic protest was necessary to alert the world to the dangers of nuclear weapons.

Evidence presented by the prosecution suggested the protestors did a total of around $30,000 worth of damage to government property.

Following the verdict, the defendants remained positive and continued to pronounce their message of peace as they gathered with friends and family at a press conference outside the courthouse. They thanked their supporters, told stories, sang hymns and even danced around the sidewalk to profess their continued belief in their mission.

“It’s been an incredible experience and it’s not over yet,” said Hennessy. “The efficiency of the state can never be underestimated yet we proceed in humility. The weapons are still there, the treaties are being knocked down one after the next, but we are called to keep trying and we will do this together. We have no other choice.”

Judge Lisa Godbey Wood, who tried the case, ruled Oct. 18 that the defendants would not be allowed to bring in expert witnesses to speak to the dangers of nuclear weapons or the motivations of the defendants.

owever, following the verdict, O’Neill expressed gratitude that he and his co-defendants were able to testify about their beliefs concerning the immorality of nuclear weapons.

“I think collectively we said what needed to be said,” O’Neill said.

With the exception of Kelly — who remains in custody for outstanding charges in another state — all defendants were allowed to leave the courthouse on bond while they await their sentencing hearing.

Multiple defendants, all of whom are white, connected their case to issues with the criminal justice system and mass incarceration.

“The Pentagon has many installations and we just walked out of one of them,” said Colville. “It’s a place where they weaponize the law and they wield it mostly against the poor. … Once in a while people of privilege like us get a taste of it, and when we do, we should hear the word ‘guilty’ as a blessing on us because it gives us an opportunity to stand with people who hear ‘guilty’ all the time, every day.”

After the verdict was announced, Wood told the defendants they have 14 days to file a motion for a new trial, acquittal or any other motion they see fit.

[Jesse Remedios is an NCR Bertelesen intern. His email address is]

October 28, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Area of Fukushima Nuclear Power Station Disaster Badly Impacted By Flooding, High Waves, Landslides — Mining Awareness +

The area of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station is being impacted by high waves, flooding and landslides. Who knows how many more bags of nuclear waste, and more tons of radioactive water will now be at sea, i.e. in the Pacific Ocean. “Death toll climbs to 10 as heavy rains hit typhoon-ravaged eastern Japan […]

via Area of Fukushima Nuclear Power Station Disaster Badly Impacted By Flooding, High Waves, Landslides — Mining Awareness +

October 28, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Forget deterrence — Beyond Nuclear International

Nuclear war ends, not begins, when the weapons go off

via Forget deterrence — Beyond Nuclear International

October 28, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Humans of the Polygon — Beyond Nuclear International

Four generations of sickness and death in Kazakhstan

via Humans of the Polygon — Beyond Nuclear International

October 28, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another 162MW solar farm gets connection approval in Queensland — RenewEconomy

Powerlink approves connection deal for 162MW solar farm in Queensland’s western downs region. The post Another 162MW solar farm gets connection approval in Queensland appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Another 162MW solar farm gets connection approval in Queensland — RenewEconomy

October 28, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Crookwell 3 wind farm blocked as NSW seeks to protect coal mine developments — RenewEconomy

NSW planning commission blocks $120M Crookwell 3 wind farm, just as Berejeklian government goes to the defence of new coal mines. The post Crookwell 3 wind farm blocked as NSW seeks to protect coal mine developments appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Crookwell 3 wind farm blocked as NSW seeks to protect coal mine developments — RenewEconomy

October 28, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NSW, Canberra finally wake up to grid needs ahead of Liddell coal closure — RenewEconomy

NSW and federal governments finally move to support more grid upgrades, which will help bring in more renewables and clear the path for more coal retirements. The post NSW, Canberra finally wake up to grid needs ahead of Liddell coal closure appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via NSW, Canberra finally wake up to grid needs ahead of Liddell coal closure — RenewEconomy

October 28, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment