Australian news, and some related international items

Greg Phillips- Australia’s nuclear management amendment bill – a dishonest, manipulative process.

Greg Phillips to Senate Committee on  National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 [Provisions] Submission 27 

The location of a nuclear dump at Kimba (in the vicinity of valuable farmland, fishing grounds and tourism area) should be rejected. The whole process has been the result of a dishonest, manipulative process.  The seat of Grey has been targeted and groomed for many years. The location of a nuclear dump at Kimba (in the vicinity of valuable farmland, fishing grounds and tourism area) should be rejected. The whole process has been the result of a dishonest, manipulative process. The seat of Grey has been targeted and groomed for many years.

The first and major dishonesty relates to Australia’s definition of Intermediate waste. The “intermediate level” waste destined for Kimba would be called “High Level Waste” (HLW) in the USA[1], Canada[2], UK[3], Japan[4], South Africa[5], Taiwan[6], Switzerland[7], South Korea[8]. Even France classified it as High Level Waste when they shipped it to us. The vitrified residue from processing spent nuclear fuel is almost universally called “High Level Waste“. Even  Australia once called it High Level Waste[9]. So why do we call it “Intermediate”? Because Australia has a dishonestly slack and misleading definition of “High Level” waste that is purely based on how thermally hot it is ie. “high level radioactive material means material which has a thermal energy output of at least 2 kilowatts per cubic metre.”. The definition doesn’t even mention the radioactivity of the waste! No other country does this. It’s like passing a law that says “manure is only manure if it is hotter than 30 degrees C“. If the “intermediate” waste inner containers were taken out of their massive transport container (the “TN81” container, with 10- inch thick solid steel walls), standing next to it would give a person a fatal radiation dose in seconds. The sole purpose of this definition seems to be to make the importation of High Level
Waste invisible to the public.

The dishonesty of the definition should be enough to stop this process now. It puts Australia at risk because it means that other countries could send their High Level Waste to us and it will be magically redefined as “Intermediate” by our laws. (Note: don’t be tricked by misleading statements from nuclear experts/lobbyists such as “reprocessing removes the bulk of the radioactive material” – the vitrified residues left over from reprocessing are almost as radioactive as the original spent fuel, the “bulky” Uranium and Plutonium removed are relatively low radioactivity[10]. Also, spent fuel from research reactors (whether HEU or LEU types) is still considered HLW[2])

Nuclear medicine (the production of nuclear isotopes) is often used to justify the existence of this dump. But many countries are moving to methods that produce isotopes that don’t produce wastes. Cyclotrons and accelerators can produce isotopes with no reactor waste[11, 12]. The medical isotopes used for the superior imaging of PET scans are produced with a cyclotron. These isotopes decay so quickly that they can be thrown out in normal trash after a few weeks
[13] – no radioactive dump required. ANSTO decided to gamble taxpayer’s money to try and dominate the world medical isotope market with a complex, messy isotope manufacturing technique that produces a lot of problematic waste – waste that the taxpayer (and workers) will have to pay dearly to manage[14]. Canada is moving to a network of Cyclotrons to produce isotopes – it is safer, cleaner and more reliable than relying on a single nuclear reactor (probably cheaper too). Some even predict that the superior imaging of PET will make Technetium-99m/Mo-99 imaging begin to disappear over the next 10 years[15].

The nuclear power/arms/mining pushers see the Kimba dump as a foot in the door for an international dump. It is located near several ports that could be used to directly import nuclear waste. If Australia is going to continue to generate dangerous nuclear waste, it should be stored where there is already high security to protect it ie. Lucas Heights. There is plenty of room for the reactor waste there. Meanwhile Lucas Heights needs to work hard at reducing the waste produced from its production of medical isotopes. Accelerators are the way of the future, but ANSTO has a conflict in interest in that it knows that pushing cyclotrons/accelerators will undermine its reactor/isotope business. ANSTO’s dream of shipping taxpayer funded isotopes to the world (while taxpayers also fund the waste disposal) should be given up. If Australia
concentrated on producing isotopes for its own uses only, then the volume of radioactive wastes  ANSTO produces would be reduced dramatically.

Here in South Australia we have been bombarded with lobbyists over the last few years trying to create an International nuclear waste dump in our state. One of the main pushers for a nuclear dump seems to be the Uranium miners (who want to increase their international Uranium sales by giving other countries an easy place for them to abandon their problematic, highly toxic, nuclear waste). It is worth remembering at this point that spent nuclear fuel (and reprocessed spent fuel) is millions of times more radioactive than the Uranium ore we dig up.
Shipping and handling nuclear waste would put our workers and our fisheries, farmers, tourism,
security etc. at risk.

Nuclear lobbyists are often deceptive about the risks of radioactive contamination. They try to make people think that inhaling or ingesting radioactive particles/contamination is the same as the non-contaminating radiation you get from an X-ray (or the increased Cosmic rays when traveling in an airplane). Ingesting or inhaling radioactive contamination is much more dangerous, it is more like inhaling Asbestos. It could sit in your lungs, muscles, bones for years/decades, increasing the risk of cancer. Because illnesses from such contamination take years to develop, the lobbyists dishonestly dismiss any consequences from the Chernobyl and Fukushima catastrophes. The young and the pregnant are most vulnerable to such
contamination. If someone covered a group of people (or land) with Asbestos dust, you wouldn’t say “no harm was done” – unfortunately that is what nuclear lobbyists try to do. No one dies immediately from inhaling Asbestos dust, but we know that the deadly effects can take years/decades to appear. The Cesium-137 that contaminates large areas of Japan will take hundreds of years to decay away, meanwhile the young and pregnant are at risk of disturbing it and breathing this slow-acting poison into their system.

The whole process of selecting a site has been so flawed and dishonest that it should be started again. 


[1] “Waste materials remaining after spent fuel is reprocessed”
[2] “….to convert high-level radioactive liquid solutions into a solid (glass)“,
“Research reactors in Canada use highly enriched uranium (HEU) or low-enriched uranium (LEU) as
[3] “HLW is produced as a by-product from reprocessing spent fuel from nuclear reactors. HLW typically
occurs in liquid form and a process called ‘vitrification’ converts the liquid HLW into a solid product.”
[4] “In Japan, it has been decided that the high-level radioactive waste (vitrified waste) will be disposed of in stable host rock formation more than 300 meters underground.”
[5] “High Level Waste (HLW) comprises the metal and mineral waste left over once spent fuel has been
reprocessed to extract any re-usable uranium or plutonium.”
[6] “High level waste: means the spent nuclear fuel for final disposal
or the extraction residuals generated in reprocessing. “

Click to access enforcement-rule.pdf

[7] “HLW consists of spent fuel assemblies from nuclear power plants and vitrified (glassy) residues
from the reprocessing of the fuel assemblies. “
[8] Refer to diagram – Reprocessing->High Level Wastes->Sealed Package
[9] “The two categories of high level waste are unreprocessed spent fuel and the fission product/actinide
residue generated from spent fuel reprocessing.”…”HLW solution is being vitrified and stored in aircooled
Reeve, Australian Atomic Energy Commission, 1985”

Click to access 17000568.pdf

[10] “During reprocessing, the fission products and the minor actinides, responsible for more than 98%
of the radioactivity, are separated out for conditioning in blocks of glass. This vitrified waste is what
constitutes France’s high-level waste.” “National Cyclotron Network to Solve Canada’s Medical Isotope Crisis”
[12] “Competition heats up to produce medical radioisotope”
[13] “Everything we make has a very short half-life, so we basically store it until it decays away,” …”Then
it’s completely cold and you wouldn’t know that it had been radioactive.”
[14] “The story begins with a rough design sketch on a plane late in the year 2007 for a facility that will
meet Australia’s current and future needs for molybdenum 99,…” … “The new Mo-99 production facility
has a very complex design due to the multi-component production process, radioactive environment,
management of waste streams and regulatory requirements.”
[15] “..imaging technology, such as PET (positron emission tomography) scans, is reducing the need for
technetium. In fact, he predicts in the next 10 years, technetium imaging will begin to disappear.”
National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020
Submission 27


June 6, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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