Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki – time for the Global Nuclear Ban Treaty – theme for August 2020

August 6th and August 9th are the days that remind us of the horror of nuclear weapons.  The failing and desperate nuclear industry would like us to forget  about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They’d like us to swallow their spin about new small nuclear reactors. (But new small nuclear reactors are just the latest gimmick to support the nuclear weapons industry, and put a friendly mask on it. They really have no other purpose.)

In this time of pandemic and global heating, Trump’s USA, Putin’s Russia, and other nations, are putting obscene amounts of money into nuclear weapons. The U.N.’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons  (passed by a vote of 122-1-1 at the United Nations in 2017) is looking ever more rational and necessary.  It will enter into force when 50 nations have ratified it. It’s now up to 43 ratifications.

“The pandemic has taught us that all the world’s great needs and threats are linked. By reallocating bloated military spending and reorienting nations to resolve conflict through peaceful negotiation, people and governments throughout the world can more easily tackle the enormous economic and civil injustices that give rise to conflict and fuel the fire of climate change. Each victory in each arena must be used to feed progress elsewhere if humanity is to survive this century.

As we remember the victims of the atomic bombings 75 years ago and hear the stories of the survivors, we realize more than ever: we are all in this together. ” – Michael Christ, Executive Director, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

August 15, 2020 Posted by | Christina themes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Senate Nuclear Waste Inquiry gets vague and incomplete answers from Department of Industry

It is difficult to understand why important legislation now before Parliament should include or involve information that cannot be publicly disclosed as this is completely counter to the open and uninhibited nature of parliamentary business and the inquiry committee would at the very least be given a summary of the suppressed information which could then be dealt with by the privileges committee.

If it is being suggested that legal privilege is needed with respect to a judicial review preventing the development of the facility then surely this must be part of the legislative process in dealing with the bill since one of the central issues is eliminating any rights of judicial or administrative review

 

Peter Remta, 13 Aug 20, My comments on some of the written answers by the department to the questions put on notice at the Senate committee hearing on 30 June 2020.

SENATE COMMITTEE INQUIRY – NATIONAL RADIOACTIVE WASTE
MANAGEMENT AMENDMENT (SITE SPECIFICATION, COMMUNITY FUND AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2020

Answer to Question by Senator Hanson-Young:
Question: What does ANSTO understand is the proportion of your waste that would make up what is stored at the Kimba site?
Answer:
As per the Australian Radioactive Waste Management Framework dated April 2018, it is anticipated that the wastes resulting from ANSTO’s operations anticipated that the wastes resulting from ANSTO’s operations and nuclear medicine production will account for approximately 78 per cent* of all wastes that would be managed at the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility(NRWMF).

*This figure is subject to revision as more information becomes available…….

Answers to Questions 4, 5 and 6 by Senators McAllister and Patrick:
From the rather vague and incomplete answers to the specific questions posed by Senator McAllister it appears that the bill for amending the present legislation was hastily put together with little time for proper planning.

It is easier to fully quote the parts of the department’s answer:

Over the life of the program the department has briefed respective Ministers on risks to the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility development associated with judicial review.

On 31 July 2019, the department provided a brief to the former Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, the Hon Matthew Canavan, which also noted the potential to specify a site in the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 (the Act).
On 20 August 2019 the Minister wrote to the Prime Minister seeking amendments to the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 (the Act).

On 21 and 22 August 2019, at community forums in Kimba and Hawker, Minister Canavan indicated that Parliament would have a role in the site selection decision making process.

On 30 September 2019, the Prime Minister responded to the Minister’s letter of 20 August 2019. On 17 October 2019 and on 4 November 2019, the department provided further briefs to the Minister on potential amendments to the Act.

On 8 November 2019, the Minister wrote to the Prime Minister seeking policy authority to develop legislative amendments.

The answer then went on to say that it was the practice not to disclose information about the business of the cabinet and that certain sensitive information contained in some documents to be given to the committee on a confidential basis which would not be in the public interest to reveal and has therefore been redacted

It is difficult to understand why important legislation now before Parliament should include or involve information that cannot be publicly disclosed as this is completely counter to the open and uninhibited nature of parliamentary business and the inquiry committee would at the very least be given a summary of the suppressed information which could then be dealt with by the privileges committee.

If it is being suggested that legal privilege is needed with respect to a judicial review preventing the development of the facility then surely this must be part of the legislative process in dealing with the bill since one of the central issues is eliminating any rights of judicial or administrative review

The forums on 21 and 22 August last year only dealt with ensuring that the government’s grants would be paid direct to the communities and not the state  government as this was a major concern to the members of both communities,

To protect their position Minister Canavan undertook to enshrine the the grants payments to the communities through appropriate legislative action but there was nothing along the lines suggested by the department’s answer.

From the totality of all that has been said or done by the department and ANSTO it is quite clear that they want to pursue their own means of identifying an appropriate site and method for the permanent disposal of the local intermediate level waste. Continue reading

August 15, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Torres Strait Islanders claim climate change affects their human rights – Australia govt tries to stifle their claim

Australia asks UN to dismiss Torres Strait Islanders’ claim climate change affects their human rights

Complaint argues Morrison government has failed to take adequate action on emissions or adaptation measures, Guardian, Katharine Murphy Political editor 14 Aug 20  The Morrison government has asked the human rights committee of the United Nations to dismiss a landmark claim by a group of Torres Strait Islanders from low-lying islands off the northern coast of Australia that climate change is having an impact on their human rights, according to lawyers for the complainants.

The complaint, lodged just over 12 months ago, argued the Morrison government had failed to take adequate action to reduce emissions or pursue proper adaptation measures on the islands and, as a consequence, had failed fundamental human rights obligations to Torres Strait Islander people.

But the lead lawyer for the case, Sophie Marjanac, says the Coalition has rejected arguments from the islanders, telling the UN the case should be dismissed “because it concerns future risks, rather than impacts being felt now, and is therefore inadmissible”.

Marjanac said lawyers for the commonwealth had told the committee because Australia is not the main or only contributor to global warming, climate change action is not its legal responsibility under human rights law.

“The government’s lawyers also rejected arguments that climate impacts were being felt today, and that effects constituting a human rights violation are yet to be suffered”.

A spokesman for the attorney general, Christian Porter, said submissions to the human rights committee were not publicly available……

Lawyers for the islanders have alleged that the catastrophic nature of the predicted future impacts of climate change on the Torres Strait Islands, including the total submergence of ancestral homelands, is a sufficiently severe impact as to constitute a violation of the rights to culture, family and life.

The challenges associated with sea level rise in the Torres Strait have been well documented. A report from the Climate Council on the risks associated with coastal flooding notes that Torres Strait Island communities are extremely low-lying and are thus among the most vulnerable in Australia to the impacts of climate change.

The report concludes the shallowness of the strait “exacerbates storm surges and when such surges coincide with very high tides, extreme sea levels result”. It cites sea level data collected by satellite from one location in the Torres Strait between 1993 and 2010 that indicated a rise of 6 mm per annum, “more than twice the global average”,

Although the report notes this was a single dataset, low-lying islands in the Pacific – and Torres Strait islands such as Masig and Boigu – are likely to be at the forefront of forced displacement. Some forecasts have predicted up to 150 million people could be forcibly displaced by climate change by 2040 – larger than the record number of people already forced from their homes globally.

The non-profit group ClientEarth is supporting the complaint. A spokesman for the group said: “It is shameful that Indigenous communities on Australia’s climate frontline are being told that the risk of climate change to their human rights is merely a future hypothetical issue, when scientists are clear these impacts will happen in coming decades”.

“Climate change risk is foreseeable and only preventable through immediate action in the present. States like Australia have legal duties to protect the human rights of their citizens”. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/aug/14/australia-asks-un-to-dismiss-torres-strait-islanders-claim-climate-change-affects-their-human-rights

August 15, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors – NuScam an expensive pipe dream

Look Over There! Jason Kenney’s Phoney Nuclear Power Distraction   Why the Alberta premier’s small nukes pipe dream makes no economic sense., David Climenhaga 14 Aug 20,  | TheTyee.ca   

When Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says small nuclear reactors “could be a game changer in providing safe, zero-emitting, baseload power in many areas of the province,” as he did this week in a tweet, he’s pulling your leg…….

No electrical utility is ever going to buy one unless they are forced to by government policy or regulation — the kind of thing Alberta’s United Conservative Party purports to oppose……..

Small nuclear reactors are not as cheap to build as the premier’s fairy tale suggests.

Bringing an acceptable small nuclear reactor design all the way from the drawing board to approval by a national nuclear regulatory authority will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

While dozens of speculative companies are printing colourful brochures with pretty pictures of little nukes being trucked to their destinations, very few are serious ventures with any possibility of building an actual reactor. The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency says diplomatically there are about 50 concepts “at different stages of development.” Those that are serious, like NuScale Power in the United States, have huge amounts of government money behind them. 

The only small nuclear reactor plant known to be operating in the world now is the Akademik Lomonosov, Russia’s floating power barge with two 35-megawatt reactors aboard. From an original estimate of US$140 million in 2006, its cost had ballooned to US$740 million when the vessel was launched last year.

The kind of small reactors Kenney is talking about won’t be cheap by any yardstick.

Small reactors are less economical to run than big reactors…….

This is why nobody wanted to buy the scaled-down CANDU-3 reactor, development of which was paid for by Canadian taxpayers in the 1980s. At 300 megawatts, they were just too small for commercial viability. A working CANDU-3 has never been built.

The cost of small reactors would have to come down significantly to change this. And remember, the research and development requirements of small reactors are just as high as for big ones. With nobody manufacturing modules, there are no existing economies of scale. In other words, dreamy brochures about the future of small reactors are just that — dreams.

By the way, in 2011 the Harper government privatized the best commercial assets of Crown-owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to… wait for it… SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. Think about that every time you hear Conservatives in Ottawa screeching about the goings on at SNC-Lavalin!

Small reactor designs mostly require enriched uranium, and Canada doesn’t produce any……

Small reactors might be safer than big ones, but we don’t really know.

Kenney and Savage talk about small reactors as if it were a fact they’re safer than big reactors. Maybe they are. But we don’t really know that because nobody but the Russians actually seems to have built one, and in most cases they haven’t even been designed.

Remember, the Russians’ small reactors are both on a barge. For what it’s worth, critics have called it “Floating Chernobyl.”

Small reactors won’t be safe without public regulation……..

Then there’s the matter of waste disposal.

Nuclear plants don’t produce a lot of waste by volume, but what there is sure has the potential to cause problems for a very long time. Thousands of years and more. So safe storage is an issue with small nukes, just like it is with big ones.

Where are we going to store the waste from all these wonderful small nuclear reactors Kenney is talking about?

How many jobs is it likely to create here in Western Canada? Well, Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment recently posted a job for a director of small modular reactors. That person will supervise four people. That’s probably about it for jobs for the foreseeable future.

If Alberta ever ends up with the same number of people working on this, we’ll be lucky https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2020/08/13/Kenney-Nuclear-Power-Plant-Distraction/

August 15, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

$6.6 trillion in annual GDP at risk as Asian climate warms – McKinsey Global Institute

August 15, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Even with $1.4 billion government subsidy, NuScam’s nuclear station is still a dodgy prospect

The NuScale SMR plant is designed to be built with up to a dozen 60-MW reactor modules.

UAMPS is seeking other utilities throughout the West to purchase hundreds of megawatts of the $6 billion project’s output, but no utility has agreed to such a purchase.

Utah Taxpayer Association Vice President Rusty Cannon said UAMPS members currently committed to the project should withdraw from it because of the risks.

“The development of untried new designs is no place for small utilities with no nuclear construction experience to risk their customers’ money,” former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford said during the briefing.

the first module is now expected to be operational in June 2029. Previously NuScale had targeted commercial operation of at least one reactor module in 2027.

August 15, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian government using COVID recovery strategy to bolster its mates in gas industry

How Australia is suffering a resource curse, Canberra Times, John Hewson   14 Aug 20, 

There have been recent media reports that the commission advising the Morrison government on its COVID recovery strategy has recommended that taxpayers provide massive support to build gas and fuel infrastructure.

However, Australia is possibly suffering something of a “resource curse”, as capital markets increasingly won’t invest in – nor insure – new coal and gas projects.

With the world seeking to accelerate the transition to low-carbon economies and societies, this would see the Australian people being asked to invest in old-world industries and technologies, rather than new, emerging industries. Or in assisting some key industries that have been severely damaged by COVID-19 to reset.

It is not unfair to claim that Australia has never really had an effective industry policy.

Sure, we have often ridden on the backs of sheep and minerals booms, and enjoyed them while they lasted…….

The current special interest push for gas and fuel infrastructure defies common sense, is directly against our national interests.

It is to the detriment of other major export/employment sectors – such as education (especially universities) and international tourism – that have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic but are not being supported by government assistance.

Coal and gas are facing declining global demand; they are hardly “infant industries” the longer-term future of which could justify investment to assist them to grow up.

These projects just wouldn’t stack up as feasible, when full account is taken of their economic/commercial, social, and environmental costs and benefits.

Investors are also reassessing their climate risks and moving out of climate exposed investments, forcing many of the big oil, gas and coal companies to make significant write downs of the values of their assets.

By comparison, investments in renewable energy (including recognising its significant potential as an export, especially to Asia), as well as in the transition business opportunities as transport is decarbonised, in regenerative agriculture, and in a host of bioenergy/circular economy projects dealing with waste and fuel security will probably stack up on such a cost/benefit assessment…..

The tragedy is that the Morrison government gives priority to its mates. ….

Today, it’s more the mining industries and banks – and now the specific influence of some on the COVID Commission with gas and related interests.

It’s time for our government to think beyond the square, and in our national interest.

John Hewson is a professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU, and a former Liberal opposition leader. https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6877063/how-australia-is-suffering-a-resource-curse/?cs=14246

August 15, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

BHP shareholders demand immediate stop to mining that disturbs Aboriginal heritage

August 15, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

South Australia’s electricity prices fall as renewables ramp up and coal declines

SA power prices in steep fall [  Adelaide Now , 14 Aug 20,

Prices of electricity charged by generators are falling sharply in SA and across the market as more renewables power up and coal output falls. ... (Subscribers only) 

August 15, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate Change Is a Security Threat to the Asia-Pacific

August 15, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment