Australian news, and some related international items

It is not too late to tell the Australian govt “NO” to South Australia nuclear waste dump

If you use the ACE template, please change at least some of the words and the heading, as the government counts multiple copies of the same email as a single submission.

Submissions close Thursday 26 March

The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill amends the National Radioactive Waste Management Act to specifically target South Australia for a national nuclear waste ‘facility’ ‒ a repository for low-level waste and an above-ground ‘interim’ store for long-lived intermediate-level waste including nuclear reactor fuel waste.

The Bill is deeply flawed and should be rejected. Among other problems, the Bill and the existing Act systematically disempower and dispossess Barngarla Traditional Owners who are unanimous in their opposition to the proposed nuclear waste facility.

 You can make a submission on or before Thursday March 26 to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee which is holding an inquiry to the Bill.

The easiest and quickest way to make a submission is to simply sign our online submission, adding any comments you like.  – Friends of the Earth

Click here to use our proforma

Alternatively, you can write your own submission and email it to:

For information on the inquiry, click here.

For information on the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill 2020, click here.

March 19, 2020 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

After backlash from colleagues, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro backs down from nuclear power support

Barilaro retreats on Nationals support for One Nation nuclear bill,, By Lisa Visentin,March 17, 2020 Deputy Premier John Barilaro has walked back his party’s support for a One Nation bill to allow nuclear power in NSW, as the issue threatened to split the Coalition.Mr Barilaro, a long-time advocate of nuclear energy, alarmed some Coalition MPs when he declared two weeks ago that the National Party would support Mark Latham’s bill to overturn a ban on uranium mining.

But the Nationals’ leader changed his tune on Tuesday, telling a budget estimates hearing the matter would first need to be considered by the party room as well as the cabinet.

Mr Barilaro made the unilateral call to back Mr Latham’s bill during an interview on Sky News on March 3 before consulting his party room, triggering concern among some National MPs and angering some of his Liberal cabinet colleagues. 

“I’ve since then had to pull that back to the point where I’ll have to go through the National party room, the parliamentary team, before we get to that position,” Mr Barilaro told the hearing.

“What I’m committing to is advocating for a policy that the party stands for and let’s see what happens when we get to the floor of Parliament.”

However, Mr Barilaro reiterated his strong personal support for nuclear energy, in particular “small nuclear reactors”, which he dubbed “the iphone of reactors”.

In a terse exchange, Labor MLC Adam Searle asked Mr Barilaro whether he was aware small nuclear reactors “don’t exist anywhere in the world at the moment”.

Mr Barilaro responded that he was “advocating for a technology that we know is on the horizon,” saying the Russians “would probably have small modular reactors on the market in the next two to three years.”

When quizzed about whether he’d discussed with his Coalition colleagues where in NSW the reactors could be located, Mr Barilaro floated the option of his own electorate of Monaro, on the state’s southern border.

“I haven’t even ruled it out of my own electorate. There you go. There’s your press release for today. Can’t wait to see it,” he said.

Mr Barilaro has previously grounded his support for Mr Latham’s bill as being consistent with the National Party’s policy position to “support nuclear energy in Australia as part of the energy mix for the future”, adopted at last year’s state conference.

He confronted an immediate backlash from within the cabinet, which had yet to consider the issue, with at least four senior ministers saying they would not support his push to back the bill. One minister told the Herald they were prepared to quit cabinet rather than support it.

The split followed a parliamentary inquiry into Mr Latham’s bill, chaired by Liberal MLC Taylor Martin, which concluded the government should support it.

The inquiry’s report stated: “the committee could find no compelling justifications from an environmental or human safety point of view which would warrant the blanket exclusion of nuclear energy.”

The two Labor MPs on the inquiry – John Graham and Mick Veitch – opposed the findings in a dissenting statement which reaffirmed Labor’s “longstanding and unequivocal platform position in relation to nuclear exploration, extraction and export.”

Mr Latham was also on the inquiry, which was comprised of eight MLCS, including three Liberals, two Labor, and one member apiece from the Nationals and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party.

March 19, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Pandemics may come, with loss of biodiversity, loss of wild habitat

March 19, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Doctors again call on Australian govt about Julian Assange’s precarious health, risk of coronavirus

Almost 200 medical doctors say Julian Assange’s health is at increased risk from coronavirus,  
John McEvoy
 18th March 2020  On 18 March, almost 200 medical doctors wrote to Australian foreign minister Marise Payne to warn that Julian Assange’s health is at increased risk from the new coronavirus.

“Mr Assange could die in prison”

This is the latest in a number of letters sent by Doctors for Assange to express concern over the WikiLeaks publisher’s deteriorating health.

On 22 November, the group signed an open letter addressed to UK home secretary Priti Patel, saying: “we have real concerns, on the evidence currently available, that Mr Assange could die in prison”.

In a follow-up letter published on 4 December, the doctors wrote:

When the UK, as a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council, repeatedly ignores not only the serious warnings of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, but also its unequivocal investigative and remedial obligations under international and human rights law, the credibility of the UK’s commitment to human rights and the rule of law is fatally undermined.

Fertile breeding grounds”

The latest letter, signed by medical doctors from countries including the UK, Australia, Sweden, and the US, was written in light of the recent coronavirus pandemic.

The letter reads:

We wrote to you on December 15 2019 that Julian Assange’s life is at risk due to nearly a decade of human rights abuse including arbitrary detention, psychological torture and medical neglect. Now, with the president of the Prison Governor’s Association warning that prisons provide “fertile breeding grounds” for coronavirus, Julian Assange’s life and health are at heightened risk due to his arbitrary detention during this global pandemic. That threat will only grow as the coronavirus spreads. …

We therefore stand by our previous calls for the Australian Government to urgently intervene to protect the life, health and human rights of its citizen Julian Assange, before it is too late, whether due to coronavirus or any number of catastrophic health outcomes.

Coronavirus is the latest threat to Assange’s life, adding onto years of arbitrary punishment and psychological torture.

March 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

“Peaceful” and military nuclear reactors always inextricably linked

Anne McMenamin Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch Australia, 19 Mar 20,   . I’m referring to the structural links between the commercial and military uses of nuclear reactors, and, to some extent, the way THEY see it – which doesn’t always line up with the technical realities. History shows that the 2 industries have been inextricably linked from the beginning.

“Great efforts have been and still are made to disguise the close connection between nuclear energy for war and for power stations. Two reasons are suggested for this: political convenience in avoiding additional informed protests against nuclear weapon production and industrial convenience in carrying on without public protest what has become a very profitable industry.”
Sir Kelvin Spencer CBE FCGI LLD (HON)
First issue of Medicine and War, in 1985

Similarly, a document from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in August, 1981, states:
“There is no technical demarcation between the military and civilian reactor and there never was one. What has persisted over the decades is just the misconception that such a linkage does not exist.”
“Some Political Issues Related to Future Special Nuclear Fuels Production,”
LA- 8969-MS, UC-16

In 2013, historian Dr David Palmer said,
“The issue is processing uranium for nuclear power that then can be used for defence. You have to understand this in terms of Adelaide; it’s a military, industrial and intelligence complex.”
Palmer was commenting on the notable push for nuclear energy and nuclear submarines coming from numerous academics and business people in Adelaide. He considered the real motive behind the nuclear push is security in energy supply for the military, and hence the need to solve the problem of waste disposal, which is currently discouraging investment in nuclear power. Major military/weapons corporations such as Raytheon, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root, Lockheed Martin, Babcock and General Atomics are now a noticeable presence in the SA economy.
Links can be clearly seen, e.g. Heathgate, which owns the Beverley mine, is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Atomics, one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturer/servicer.

March 19, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The Hazards of Tritium

tests for statistical significance have been misused in epidemiological studies on cancers near nuclear facilities. These in the past have often concluded that such effects do not occur or they downplayed any effects which did occur. In fact, copious evidence exists throughout the world – over 60 studies – of raised cancer levels near NPPs.

Most (>75%) of these studies found cancer increases but because they were small, their findings were often dismissed as not statistically significant. In other words, they were chucked in the bin marked “not significant” without further consideration.

Just as people were misled about tobacco smoking in previous decades, perhaps we are being misled about raised cancers near NPPs nowadays.

The Hazards of Tritium, Dr Ian Fairlie, March 13, 2020


Nuclear facilities emit very large amounts of tritium, 3H, the radioactive isotope of hydrogen.  Much evidence from cell/animal studies and radiation biology theory indicates that tritium is more hazardous than gamma rays and most X-rays. However the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) continues to underestimate tritium’s hazard by recommending  a radiation weighting factor (wR) of unity for tritium’s beta particle emissions.  Tritium’s exceptionally high molecular exchange rate with hydrogen atoms on adjacent molecules makes it extremely mobile in the environment. This plus the fact that the most common form of tritium is water, ie radioactive water, means that, when tritium is emitted from nuclear facilities, it rapidly contaminates all biota in adjacent areas. Tritium binds with organic matter to form organically bound tritium (OBT) with long residence times in tissues and organs making it more radiotoxic than tritiated water (HTO). Epidemiology studies indicate increases in cancers and congenital malformations near nuclear facilities. It is recommended that nuclear operators and scientists should be properly informed about tritium’s hazards; that tritium’s safety factors should be strengthened; and that a hazard scheme for common radionuclides be established. Continue reading

March 19, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

USA Small Nuclear Reactors clearly meant for military use, and Australia is involved

If the testing goes well, a commercially developed, Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensed reactor will be demonstrated on a “permanent domestic military installation.
“We always talk with our partners and allies about collaboration… particularly with [National Technology and Industrial Base] countries — U.K., Canada, Australia. “
Pentagon awards contracts to design mobile nuclear reactor Defense News 

By: Aaron Mehta    March 9  WASHINGTON— The Pentagon on Monday issued three contracts to start design work on mobile, small nuclear reactors, as part of a two-step plan towards achieving nuclear power for American forces at home and abroad.

The department awarded contracts to BWX Technologies, Inc. of Virginia, for $13.5 million; Westinghouse Government Services of Washington, D.C. for $11.9 million; and X-energy, LLC of Maryland, for $14.3 million, to begin a two-year engineering design competition for a small nuclear microreactor designed to potentially be forward deployed with forces outside the continental United States. Continue reading

March 19, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Dr Ian Fairlea on Epidemiological Evidence of Cancer Risks

The Hazards of Tritium, , Dr Ian Fairlie, March 13, 2020   “……….Epidemiological Evidence of Risks Because of methodological limitations, epidemiology studies are a blunt tool for discovering whether adverse effects result from radiation exposures. These limitations include:

  • under-ascertainment, …
  • strict data requirements….
  • confounding factors: the true causes of morbidity or mortality can be uncertain due to confounding factors such as socio-economic status and competing causes of death.
  • bias: ……
  • poor signal to noise…..
  • uncertain doses:……
  • wide confidence intervals……
Many epidemiology studies are ecologic studies, that is, quick inexpensive studies which look at health statistics in tables and notate individual data. Their findings are usually regarded as indicative, but not conclusive. If their findings suggest an adverse effect then these should be investigated further by more detailed cohort or case-control studies. The latter match “cases” (i.e. those with an adverse health effect) with randomly-selected similar individuals without an adverse effect, in order to minimise under-ascertainment. However few of these are actually carried out because of their expense and long time-spans. Sometimes they are not carried out for political reasons because findings of increased cancers are not welcome.
A disconcerting finding is that a substantial number of epi studies near NPPs conclude there are no findings of ill health even though positive increases were in fact observed. That is, the researchers were unable to accept the evidence of their own work. It is difficult to comment on this cognitive dissonance (few studies seem to exist on this phenomenon) but it is apparently often due to unacknowledged biases or to group-think re the impossibility for ill-health effects to exist near nuclear facilities. In their conclusions, such authors have discounted their findings using a variety of reasons ………
However there is a serious problem here. If similarly increased health effects had been observed near, say, a lead smelting factory or an asbestos mine, would they be dismissed by referring to these rationales? I rather doubt it. In other words, what is occurring here is that hidden biases in favour of nuclear power are in play. In my view, such conflicts of bias should be declared at the outset just as conflicts of interest are nowadays.

The Abuse of Statistical Significance Tests

Many epi studies of cancer near NPPs have found increased risks but dismissed them as not “statistically significant”. This wording often misleads lay readers into thinking that a reported increase is unimportant or irrelevant. But, in statistics, the adjective “significant” is a specialist word used to convey a narrow meaning, ie that the likelihood of an observation being a fluke is less than 5% (assuming a p = 5% test were used). It does not mean important or relevant.
Also this phrase is usually employed without explaining that the chosen significance level is quite arbitrary. There is no scientific justification for using a 5% level or any other test level: it is merely a matter of convenience. In other words, it is quite possible for results which are “not significant” when a 5% test is applied, could become “significant” when a 10% or other test level were used.
The existence of this practice has historical parallels. In the 1950s, dozens of health studies financed by tobacco companies acted to sow seeds of doubt about the health effects of cigarette smoking for many years. Continue reading

March 19, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Government advisory body tells Morrison to lift his game on climate — RenewEconomy

Federal government advisory body says Morrison must move quickly on climate change to seize economic opportunities, and to mitigate the growing impacts on Australians. The post Government advisory body tells Morrison to lift his game on climate appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Government advisory body tells Morrison to lift his game on climate — RenewEconomy

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How a small nuclear war would transform the entire planet  

How a small nuclear war would transform the entire planet  

As geopolitical tensions rise in nuclear-armed states, scientists are modelling the global impact of nuclear war., Nature,     Alexandra Witze,  18 Mar, 20, 

It all starts in 2025, as tensions between India and Pakistan escalate over the contested region of Kashmir. When a terrorist attacks a site in India, that country sends tanks rolling across the border with Pakistan. As a show of force against the invading army, Pakistan decides to detonate several small nuclear bombs.

The next day, India sets off its own atomic explosions and within days, the nations begin bombing dozens of military targets and then hundreds of cities. Tens of millions of people die in the blasts.

That horrifying scenario is just the beginning. Smoke from the incinerated cities rises high into the atmosphere, wrapping the planet in a blanket of soot that blocks the Sun’s rays. The planet plunges into a deep chill. For years, crops wither from California to China. Famine sets in around the globe.

This grim vision of a possible future comes from the latest studies about how nuclear war could alter world climate. They build on long-standing work about a ‘nuclear winter’ — severe global cooling that researchers predict would follow a major nuclear war, such as thousands of bombs flying between the United States and Russia. But much smaller nuclear conflicts, which are more likely to occur, could also have devastating effects around the world. Continue reading

March 19, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Cancel The Tokyo Olympic Games! — limitless life

The Tokyo Olympic Games Dear Friends, The conscientious Japanese citizens are shocked by the queer attachment to holding the Tokyo Olympic Games as planned in spite of the declared Corona virus pandemic. The rumored alternative of postponement confirms the lamentable level of understanding as to the purposely ignored Fukushima radioactive dangers which are […]

via Cancel The Tokyo Olympic Games! — limitless life

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March 18 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “A Faltering Fracking Industry, On The Verge Of A Bailout, Mixes Patriotism And Oil In The Permian” • Abundant signs across the Permian Basin, one of the most prolific oil and natural gas plays in the US, suggest that supporting the industry that’s one of the largest contributors to the climate crisis is […]

via March 18 Energy News — geoharvey

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Victoria seizes power to speed-up network investments, skip RIT-T assessments — RenewEconomy

Victorian parliament passes legislation granting the state’s energy minister new powers to exempt network investments from RIT-T assessments. The post Victoria seizes power to speed-up network investments, skip RIT-T assessments appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Victoria seizes power to speed-up network investments, skip RIT-T assessments — RenewEconomy

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As economy stalls, the government should remap Australia’s energy landscape — RenewEconomy

Australia should use energy transition to re-boot economy as energy markets pause, oil prices crash, and a virus without a vaccine stalls human activity around the world. The post As economy stalls, the government should remap Australia’s energy landscape appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via As economy stalls, the government should remap Australia’s energy landscape — RenewEconomy

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Victoria slammed for using misleading data to justify lifting of gas moratorium — RenewEconomy

The Australia Institute slams the Victorian government for using misleading jobs and emissions figures to justify lifting of gas moratorium. The post Victoria slammed for using misleading data to justify lifting of gas moratorium appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Victoria slammed for using misleading data to justify lifting of gas moratorium — RenewEconomy

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment