Australian news, and some related international items

To 13 April – climate and nuclear news

With the whole world in the grip of anxiety about coronavirus, and preoccupied with responding to the pandemic, climate scientists and activists ponder the opportunity to develop a green economy when it is over.  And indeed, the global climate, and the world’s biodiversity are right now benefiting from the lockdown response.  But, alas, the signs are already there, that, in recovering from the health crisis, governments are more likely to promote polluting industries and consumer spending, and to relax environmental safeguards. It’s too early to tell.

As for the nuclear lobby, it continues to battle bravely on, with propaganda about nuclear’s role in diagnosing COVID 19, and with promoting small nuclear reactors. Despite the nuclear industry’s present urgent problem with Coronavirus and staffing– or perhaps because of this, it is heavily promoting “clean”, “safe”, “cheap” nuclear power to Africa.

A bit of good news – Reports Find Social Restrictions Are Working to Curb New COVID-19 Cases From Italy to Seattle


NUCLEAR.    Josephite South Australia Reconciliation Circle’s advice to the Senate Inquiry on Radioactive Waste Bill.   A flawed process- National Radioactive Waste Management- Submission from David Noonan.  Bob Phelps’ submission: There is no valid case for the planned national nuclear waste facility at Kimba.  Conservation Council of Western Australia stresses importance of submissions to strengthen environmental protection – especially to keep anti nuclear provisions.

CLIMATE. Coronavirus action: Australia’s moment to change course for a clean environment, slowing global heating. Calls for Morrison to end fossil fuel stimulus, redirect funds to clean tech. Big win for fossil fuels as regulators seek 12 month delay on 5-minute rule change.

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Australia renewables hit 50% of main grid’s net demand on Easter Saturday. Why Australia needs to aim for at least 75% renewables by 2030Cleantech startups get a boost with ARENA funding for EnergyLab.   W.A. to lead way in transition to distributed, renewable and equitable grid. New wind farm begins generating in Victoria. Australia’s clean energy transition delayed due to outdated electricity market design.  AEMO declares system strength shortfall in Queensland after wind, solar curtailed.


The coronavirus pandemic, like other global catastrophes, reveals the limitations of nationalism.

Climate change could cause sudden biodiversity losses worldwide.

Ordinary people can beat the nuclear establishment: it’s been done before.

New START treaty must be extended, a U.S. – Russia nuclear arms race an intolerable threat to the whole world.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation in a Deadlock.

Nuclear fusion, too hot, too costly? And not ready before 2050.

UKRAINE. Chernobyl wildfires now ‘close’ to exploded nuclear reactor.

April 13, 2020 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

A flawed process- National Radioactive Waste Management- Submission from David Noonan

The Bill entrenches proposed untenable indefinite above ground storage and unnecessary double /
dual handling of ANSTO nuclear fuel wastes and Intermediate Level Wastes (ILW).

to be imposed onto the community of SA contrary to our Parliament’s express will.
an unacceptable threat to impose nuclear waste
against the express will of the Barngarla People, compromising their Indigenous rights and interests
To: Senate Standing Economics Legislation Committee of Inquiry
National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill 2020 – public submission
Re: Flawed Federal process contrary to Nuclear Safety Committee advice and untenable interim
nuclear waste storage compromises Safety & Security and Rights & Interests in SA.
Dear Committee Chairperson
Please consider this submission and my request to give Evidence as a Witness at a Hearing in SA.
The Bill’s amendments to the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 further entrench
failures of best practice and shortcomings of the Federal gov. process on these issues to date.
After 4 years of solely targeting SA sites (since April 2016) the Bill amends the Act to specify SA as a
nuclear waste state and Napandee near Kimba as an above-ground interim Nuclear Waste Store.
The Bill entrenches proposed untenable indefinite above ground storage and unnecessary double /
dual handling of ANSTO nuclear fuel wastes and Intermediate Level Wastes (ILW). The nuclear
regulator ARPANSA states these wastes require radiation shielding, safe handling and security, and
require isolation from people and from the environment for over 10,000 years.
The proposal is contrary to a range of public interest advice from the Nuclear Safety Committee
(NSC) to the regulator ARPANSA and arguably compromises safety and security in South Australia.
The Bill exposes the Federal government’s failure to recognise that ARPANS Act Licensing may not be
granted to the proposed Nuclear Store, leaving an amended Act stranded with a specified failed site.
The proposed Nuclear Store is illegal under SA Law passed by the State Liberal gov. in 2000 and is
thereby intended to be imposed onto the community of SA contrary to our Parliament’s express will.
Further, the Federal gov. practice to date has conspicuously failed to consult or engage the SA

community on core plans to ship nuclear fuel waste to a Port in SA and to transport ILW across SA.

The Bill’s proposed specification of Napandee as a Nuclear Store effectively targets the Whyalla Port.


The “Site Characterisation Technical Report: Napandee” (DIIS, July 2018, Proximity to ports p.150)
named Whyalla Port to take shipments of nuclear fuel wastes, in the event Napandee is specified.
thereby intended to be imposed onto the community of SA contrary to our Parliament’s express will.
Two shipments of reprocessed nuclear fuel wastes are intended to an SA Port, in 130 tonne TN-81
casks, within the first two years of operations of a Nuclear Waste Store at Napandee (p.152).
Some 100 x B-double 50 tonne loads of Intermediate Level Wastes (ILW) are also intended in the
first four years of Nuclear Store operations at Napandee (p.152). The Report (p.157-158) states:
“It may be possible to have these containers shipped from Port Kembla to ports such as Whyalla”
The affected Eyre Peninsula, Whyalla and transport route communities have been denied a say on
these Federal plans and now face potential serious reputational risks and material impacts.
The Whyalla City Council states there has had no advice from Federal or SA gov’s on use of the Port.
Whyalla is targeted for nuclear waste shipments and should have a right to refuse untenable plans.
This flawed Federal gov. process is a direct breach of advice from the Nuclear Safety Committee in a
letter to APRANSA CEO Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson (Nov 2016), NSC Chair Dr Tamie Weaver stressed the
“ongoing requirement to clearly and effectively engage all stakeholders, including those along
transport routes”, with the NSC stating such engagement “is essential”.
The NSC has also advised (2013) that dual handling transport for interim storage “does not represent
International Best Practice” and “also has implications for security” and for safety.
Importantly, the proposed NRWM Facility presents an unacceptable threat to impose nuclear waste
against the express will of the Barngarla People, compromising their Indigenous rights and interests.
This Inquiry must Recommend repeal of overrides of Aboriginal heritage and traditions in the Act &
in Bill. Then Premier of SA Jay Weatherill (Oct 2017) argued for recognition of an Aboriginal People’s
‘right of veto’ over proposed nuclear waste storage and disposal on their traditional lands.
****This flawed Federal gov. process has also divided and damaged the Kimba agricultural community
and presents a reputational and material impact risk to their livelihood and community cohesion
Overall these matters cut to the core of SA public interests at stake in a draconian Federal agenda.

Co-location of an above ground Nuclear Store alongside a Low-Level Waste Disposal Facility may fail.


The regulator ARPANSA has said it expects separate Licence Applications for the above ground
Nuclear Store and for the Low-Level Waste Disposal Facility. The Federal gov. must not pre-empt nor
take for granted the outcome of this separate ARPANSA Licensing process for a Nuclear Store in SA.

The Nuclear Store in SA is unnecessary given ANSTO capacity for Extended Storage at Lucas Heights.

My background experience is relevant: as an Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) campaigner
based in Adelaide over 1996 to 2011, including 5 years on the prior Federal attempt to impose a nuclear waste facility in SA (over 1998 to 2004) – another flawed process that had to be abandoned.
I was also a Witness as an individual on nuclear waste issues at a Hearing of the SA Parliament Joint
Committee Inquiry on the Findings of the Nuclear Royal Commission, held in 2016.
I have made submissions to the Minister on Nuclear Waste Store issues (May 2017 – Attachment 5, &
Nov 2018), provided a range of Briefing materials (see Attach’s 1 & 2), and given media comments.
Please feel free to contact regarding any aspect of this public submission, by Mobile, Text or E-Mail.
Yours sincerely
Mr David J Noonan B.Sc., M.Env.St.
Independent Environment Campaigner

April 13, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Coronavirus action: Australia’s moment to change course for a clean environment, slowing global heating

Climate scientists say coronavirus could be Australia’s golden opportunity, Climate experts say the way Australia chooses to rebuild its economy after the COVID-19 pandemic will seal its climate change fate.  BY CLAUDIA FARHART, 10 Apr 20, 

Australian climate scientists are urging the government to recognise the similarities between the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, arguing they could be the key to stopping global warming.

Professor Matthew England from the University of New South Wales’ Climate Change Research Centre said acting early, listening to expert advice and adaptation were the keys to solving both crises.

While the coronavirus is posing a serious risk to millions of lives right now, Mr England said climate change will threaten even more lives over the next five decades.

“We’ve seen all around the world that the nations ignoring the best advice of their scientists are suffering the most, and climate change is no different,” he told SBS News.

“We have expert reports that have been tabled for the last three or four decades, but many nations are ignoring those, so I think that COVID-19 provides a wake up call for what happens if you do ignore the best scientific advice.”

Revealing the possibilities

Emissions around the globe are already dropping significantly as the world stays home and production grinds to a halt, with China already recording a 25 per cent drop in emissions in the first quarter of 2020.

Photographs of smog-free Los Angeles skies, crystal clean canals in Venice and clear views of the snow-capped Himalayas from India have circulated online, showing visible improvements.

While these significant improvements in air and water quality are showing people around the globe what is possible when emissions are reduced, Mr England said it is not time to celebrate yet.

Instead, he says Australia needs to recognise the opportunity COVID-19 presents to rebuild in a more environmentally friendly way.

“This is going to be a major stall in the global economy, but out of this pandemic we’re certainly going to see a huge economic boom and it’s going to be a real chance to make that boom a low-carbon boom,” he said.

“To solve climate change, we actually need large scale innovation and the huge economic boom that is poised to happen out of this pandemic.”

‘Fight or flight’

While COVID-19 has already killed at least 90,000 people, the World Health Organisation has warned that climate change will kill as many as 250,000 people per year by 2030.

Professor Mark Howden of the Climate Change Institute said governments’ differing approaches to the two crises was as simple as how our brains are wired.

“The coronavirus is appealing to our hindbrain, our fight or flight responses, rather than our forebrain, our planning and strategic responses,” he told SBS News.

“Humans are much more attuned to responding to the short-term rather than the long-term.”

While Mr Howden is expecting to see a drop in Australian carbon emissions of roughly five per cent due to COVID-19, he said this will not be the first time such a drop has occurred.

Australia’s emissions saw a similar drop during the global financial crisis of 2009, but were back to their normal levels within two years.

“This is simply because we’re much less active economically, and emissions are fairly closely tied to GDP, so the big challenge will be what happens after the coronavirus,” he said.

However, unlike during the GFC, Mr Howden said coronavirus has now given governments the proof that a health crisis can be halted by an all-in effort.

“Coronavirus has meant that governments have ditched often long-held ideologies and been forced into very pragmatic responses,” he said.

“I think climate change actually needs that – it needs to move away from ideological positions into responses which are informed by the evidence, the science.”

SBS News contacted the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science for comment but did not receive a response.

April 13, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Ionising radiation risk in smoke from re-ignited fires in Chernobyl area

The main risk from the fires comes from inhaling, via the smoke, small radioactive particles thrown years ago from the open core of the Chernobyl reactor

Chernobyl Wildfires Reignite, Stirring Up Radiation
Maria Varenikova, 13 Apr 20, VINNYTSIA, Ukraine — Firefighters have struggled to control wildfires burning through radioactive forest in the abandoned territory around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, where radiation levels are considerably lower than they were immediately after the 1986 accident but still pose risks.

Radiation readings near the wildfires, where smoke is swirling about, have been elevated, with the wind blowing toward rural areas of Russia and Belarus for most of the past week. The wind shifted Friday toward Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, but authorities say the radiation level is still normal in the city, whose population is about three million.

But Saturday’s strong winds could spread the fires to the remnants of the nuclear plant and the equipment that was used to clean up the disaster, said Kateryna Pavlova, the acting head of the agency that oversees the area, in a telephone interview. “At the moment, we cannot say the fire is contained,” Ms. Pavlova said.

After the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, authorities created an area around the plant known as the Zone of Alienation, a rough circle with a nearly 18-mile radius, fenced off with barbed wire. Access to the zone is limited to workers who manage the site and tourists who take guided excursions.

Over time, radiation has settled into the soil, where its half-life ticks away mostly harmlessly. But the roots of moss, trees and other vegetation have absorbed some radiation, bringing it to the surface and spreading radioactive particles in smoke when it burns.

Already in lockdown because of the coronavirus, Ukraine is now also contending with fires in the post-apocalyptic landscape of the Chernobyl zone.

Wildfires break out there often but the blazes burning through dry grass and pine forests this spring, after a warm and dry winter, are far larger than the typical brush fires in the Chernobyl zone.

The Exclusion Zone Management Agency, the government office that manages the site, said the fires have burned through more than 8,600 acres over the past week. By Saturday, about 400 firefighters, 100 fire engines and several helicopters had been deployed to the exclusion zone.

According to the state center of radiation and nuclear safety, contaminated smoke is expected to reach Kyiv this weekend. However, the radiation level in the air, once smoke has disbursed far from the fires, is considered safe. It is expected to be about a hundredth of the level deemed an emergency.

The Exclusion Zone Management Agency is trying to protect critical infrastructure in the Chernobyl zone, such as the plant itself and the so-called “graves,” or parking lots of abandoned, highly contaminated trucks and tracked vehicles that were left from the original disaster, officials said.

“We have been working all night digging firebreaks around the plant to protect it from fire,” Ms. Pavlova said.

The cause has not been determined. One possibility is that a fire started intentionally by farmers to clear stubble from nearby fields had spread into the zone.

The Zone of Alienation is an eerie landscape of abandoned villages, equipment “graves,” empty fields and dense pine and birch forests, set aside in perpetuity as an experiment in mitigating nuclear disaster. The idea was to limit, through isolation, the lethality of radiation.

The danger is minimal today. Scientists say the average radiation level in the zone is about a quarter as harmful to human health as it was in the immediate aftermath of the explosion and fire.

Radioactive elements degrade at predictable intervals, called half-lives, that can vary enormously. The average particle half-life at Chernobyl is about 30 years.

The main risk from the fires comes from inhaling, via the smoke, small radioactive particles thrown years ago from the open core of the Chernobyl reactor, said Olena Miskun, an air pollution expert with Ecodiya, an environmental advocacy group.

“Wind can raise hot particles in the air together with the ash and blow it toward populated areas,” Ms. Miskun says. Also, radioactive particles can land on gardens or fields and later be consumed in food.

“We are lucky to have quarantine measures in place now,” she said. “People stay at home, walk less and wear masks,” anyway, because of the coronavirus threat.   Andrew E. Kramer contributed reporting from Moscow.

April 13, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia renewables hit 50% of main grid’s net demand on Easter Saturday — RenewEconomy

Australia reaches more than 50% renewables on a low-demand Easter Saturday. Within a decade, this will be the country’s average share of renewables. The post Australia renewables hit 50% of main grid’s net demand on Easter Saturday appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Australia renewables hit 50% of main grid’s net demand on Easter Saturday — RenewEconomy

April 13, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If we can tackle corona, why not climate? — Beyond Nuclear International


We changed course fast on Covid-19. Now we must do the same for climate

via If we can tackle corona, why not climate? — Beyond Nuclear International

April 13, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 12 Energy News — geoharvey

Science and Technology: ¶ “Coronavirus Puts Arctic Climate Change Research On Ice” • Every year, 150 climate scientists of the EastGRIP project fly to Greenland to bore deep into its largest glacier and measure ice streams beneath it. The ice streams empty into the ocean, rising sea levels. This year the ice streams will go […]

via April 12 Energy News — geoharvey

April 13, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment