Australian news, and some related international items

National Radioactive Waste Facility has strong community opposition – says Public Health Association of Australia

Public Health Association of Australia, Submission No 14
PHAA does not support the proposed site for the National Radioactive waste Facility.  Far from strong community support, there is strong community opposition, including unanimous opposition among Traditional Owners, and consultation does not appear to have been undertaken with the communities through which waste would have to travel to the new facility. And Inquiry into all aspects of radioactive waste management should be held before any decision is made.

April 14, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Uniting Church, South Australia, rejects National Radioactive Waste Bill as discriminatory against Aboriginal people

April 14, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Wildfires getting close to Chernobyl nuclear station, radiation rises in smoke

Radiation levels rise as fires burn near Chernobyl’s former nuclear power plant  13 Apr 20 A photo taken from the roof of Chernobyl’s old nuclear power plant has revealed how close the bushfires raging through Ukraine’s forests are from the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster.

Key points:

  • Crews are working to contain the forest fires burning through the territory surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant
  • Radiation levels near the fires have been elevated, with the blazes producing swirling smoke
  • Winds are blowing smoke towards Kiev though authorities say radiation levels in the city remain normal

Firefighters are working to control the blazes burning through the irradiated forests in the territory surrounding the former nuclear plant.

Radiation levels near the wildfires have risen, and the blazes have produced swirling smoke which is being blown towards neighbouring regions.

Winds had blown the smoke towards rural areas of Russia and nearby Belarus, but they shifted in the direction of Ukrainian capital Kiev over the weekend.

Authorities in Kiev, which has a population of about 3 million people, say radiation levels in the city remain normal.

Its citizens are already in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The winds are more of a significant headache for the site of Chernobyl’s closed nuclear power plant. Strong gusts could spread the fires towards what is left of the facility as well as the abandoned equipment used to clean up the disaster.

“At the moment we cannot say the fire is contained,” acting head of the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management Kateryna Pavlova said.

What stands in the fire’s path?

Fires are common inside the “Zone of Alienation”, a circle with a 30-kilometre radius that surrounds the old nuclear plant and is fenced in barbed wire. But the current blazes are larger than normal and are stirring up radiation as they burn grass and forests.

Winds could spread fires to remnants of the nuclear plant and authorities are trying to protect the critical infrastructure in the exclusion zone.

This includes the plant itself (and its radiation-containing sarcophagus), as well as the so-called “graves” — parking lots of abandoned, contaminated trucks and vehicles left behind from the original disaster.

“We have been working all night, digging firebreaks around the plant to protect it from fire,” Ms Pavlova said. Access to the 2,600 square kilometre area is limited to workers and tourists on guided excursions.

What happens when an irradiated tree burns down?

In the 34 years since the disaster, radiation has settled into the exclusion zone’s soil and been absorbed by the roots of trees and vegetation. While many plants in the immediate vicinity of the plant died when the nuclear reactor exploded, the plant life within the exclusion zone adapted over the decades to come.

However, the radioactive particles are brought back to the surface of the soil and released in smoke when the plants burn in fires.

The exclusion zone was established after the April 1986 disaster which saw a reactor explosion send a cloud of fallout over the European continent. The Zone of Alienation is largely unpopulated, save for about 200 people who have remained in the area despite government orders to leave.

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone was established after the April 1986 disaster at the plant sent a cloud of radioactive fallout over much of Europe.

People are not allowed to live within 30 kilometres of the old power station, where a giant protective dome was put over the fourth reactor in 2016.

The dome, called the New Safe Confinement, enclosed the temporary “sarcophagus” built around the reactor immediately after the disaster.

Chernobyl’s three other nuclear reactors continued to generate electricity until the plant finally closed in 2000.

April 14, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The Coronavirus and Climate Action: We must advocate now for immediate and significant investments in green infrastructure

The major impact of coronavirus on the trajectory of climate change must not be a temporary reduction in emissions from cars, trucks and airplanes. It must be a collective recognition that rapid and significant voluntary changes in our behavior are possible. For individual climate action to be sustained, people must find honor and joy in it. And that action must also be supported by government leadership and coordination. We must advocate now, as vocally as we can, for immediate and significant investments in green infrastructure. To avert disaster, we must change how we live.  

The Coronavirus and Climate Action  Confronting global warming will take a completely different approach from confronting the pandemic, By Laura J. Martin on April 10, 2020

In recent weeks, many Americans have voluntarily and radically altered their behavior in order to protect others from the novel coronavirus. Those who are less vulnerable are making sacrifices in order to protect those who are more vulnerable: the elderly, the immunocompromised, and—in our country, with its broken social safety net—the uninsured and the poor.

Climate scientists have been quick to draw parallels between the need to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus spread and the need to flatten the carbon emissions curve. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that we must reduce emissions by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 in order to lessen the severity of future emergency; to reduce, but not eliminate, the probability of catastrophic changes in sea level, ocean acidity, extreme weather, food security and biodiversity.

But confronting climate change will require a completely different generational politics than confronting coronavirus. Rather than young people changing their lifestyles to protect the elderly, the large and growing proportion of older citizens in industrialized countries will have to change their lifestyles in order to protect children and those not yet born. Those with power and resources today will have to change their lifestyles dramatically in order to protect the world’s poorest and most marginalized, those who will not be able to move away from climate hazards. This is the message that youth activists like Zero HourIsra Hirsi and Greta Thunberg implore us to heed. It is also the premise of DearTomorrow, a storytelling project where people write climate messages to loved ones living in the future.

While such activists argue that individuals must opt to change their lifestyles, to travel less and consume less, others contend that voluntary climate action is a pipe dream. They refer to psychologists and economists who argue that we humans are “hardwired” to prioritize the present over the future, and thereby make decisions that benefit us today, even if they harm us later. This second camp of environmentalists argues that policy makers must enact laws and regulations that radically reshape energy infrastructure and national economies.

Who is right? Continue reading

April 14, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

What is needed is a green recovery, but will governments promote that?

April 14, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Coronavirus set to cause largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions — RenewEconomy


Covid-19 could trigger largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions in 2020 – but even this would not come close to bringing the 1.5°C global temperature limit within reach. The post Coronavirus set to cause largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Coronavirus set to cause largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions — RenewEconomy

April 14, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment