Australian news, and some related international items

News this week, especially about nuclear issues

Inundation of news this week, mostly about the USA election. But also about coronoavirus and climate.


The nuclear issue is less covered, and could be seen as less important than those two present world crises.
But here’s the problem. The global nuclear lobby is quietly organising, and the impending Biden-Harris administration in America is giving that lobby new impetus. It has been easier for the anti-nuclear and clean energy movement to oppose the policies of that bullying sociopath Donald Trump. It will be harder to oppose Biden and Kamala, who, like Barack Obama, are supporters of, and beholden to, the nuclear industry.
I have found all the news quite overwhelming this week. While I acknowledge the urgency and importance of coronavirus and climate, I think that, from now on, I might need to confine my news to  nuclear issues, (which is where this newsletter started).  The nuclear threat is going on, as it were, under the radar. Politicians and communities are being sucked in by clever pro nuclear propaganda and financial incentives, all this helped along by slick and uncritical media coverage.
Some bits of good news   Grass Restoration Project is a Virginia Success, Planting 600 Acres That Grow to Become 9,000.Growing food together is growing soul food, too.


CLIMATE. Jo Biden’s win leaves Scott Morrison looking pretty silly on climate policy. Biden as president would pursue climate ‘cheaters’, such as Morrison’s Australia.  Australian govt will feel the heat when a Biden administration rejoins the Paris climate agreement.  Zali Steggall calls on Australia’s chief scientist to clarify position on net zero emissions by 2050.
Australian doctors accuse government of failing on climate change.  Superannuation fund commits to net-zero emission investments after Brisbane man sues.   North of Australia is headed for a severe heatwave.

NUCLEAR. Australian government’s Nuclear Waste Bill – divisive, undemocratic and racist processes.  Farmers go to Canberra, to protest the law that forces a nuclear dump on Kimba’s agricultural land.  South Australia’s Jim Whalley provides nonsensical and misleading propaganda, spruiking small nuclear reactors.  Frazer Nash and The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME) want nuclear power – “good for the environment”!!   Worry rocket launch site will damage environment (also at Antinuclear)  The plan to use nuclear bombs for fracking in Western Australia.


Politics – what hope for civil society?

The beginning of the end for nuclear weapons?

Some problems that will handicap the development of Small Nuclear Reactors.

As with every week, the Google headlines about nuclear power mostly lead to articles that promote it.

November 9, 2020 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Farmers to Canberra, to protest the law that forces a nuclear dump on Kimba’s agriculutral land

We are members of the Kimba community and proud and productive grain farmers who have travelled to Canberra to meet with Labor, Green and cross-bench Senators to put a face to those directly impacted by the proposed legislation to name Kimba as the site for Australia’s radioactive waste dump.

In our view the process the Government has employed to site this facility in Kimba over the last five years has been unfair, manipulative and completely lacking in transparency.

We are extremely concerned that the Governments proposed legislation  currently awaiting Senate consideration intentionally removes our right to contest the decision and denies basic protections .

It is clear that productive farming land in Kimba is not the best, or even the right place for our nations radioactive waste. We urge the federal government to step back and review their selection process rather than continue trying to force this decision through via Parliament.

Quotes can be attributed to Toni Scott – Secretary, No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA Committee  Media Contact – Kellie Hunt – 0428 572 411

November 9, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, opposition to nuclear, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby is happy with the Biden-Harris election result

The nuclear lobby is quite happy with the Biden -Harris win.  More on this later, as I try to delve deeper into a possibly cosy relationship between Kamala Harris and the global nuclear lobby.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic Council writes confidently of the nuclear industry’s plans for future development under the new American administration.

The Atlantic Council, 8 Nov 20, legislation that encourages the rapid deployment of nuclear energy technology represents an area where Democrats and Republicans can continue to work together—as they have over the last four years …….
legislation that encourages the rapid deployment of nuclear energy technology represents an area where Democrats and Republicans can continue to work together—as they have over the last four years……..
With bipartisan support, Congress passed the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), which was signed into law in 2018. Congress passed the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) in December 2018, and it was signed into law in 2019. NEICA helps establish public-private partnerships through the US Department of Energy’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program in order to speed the development of the next generation of nuclear reactors.
Strong bipartisan congressional support for nuclear reactors—both the existing fleet and also the next generation of advanced reactors.
here are still more opportunities for bipartisan cooperation on nuclear energy policy. In July, the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA) was passed in the Senate as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 with bipartisan support, but it was not included in the House version of the bill. Both chambers will have to agree on a final version of NELA before the new president can sign it into law. Support for NELA, which focuses on advanced reactor demonstration and developing advanced reactor fuel, would send a powerful signal from the Biden Administration. This also holds true for the Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act (NERDA), which was introduced in the House by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA-17) earlier this year…..

November 9, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Jo Biden’s win leaves Scott Morrison looking pretty silly on climate policy

November 9, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Biden – Harris win – a win for the climate

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris cinch win, Climate Group responds, Mirage News 8 Nov 20, The Climate Group congratulates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their historic victory, as announced by the New York Times, Associated Press, and BBC.President-elect Biden’s climate and clean energy plan is the most ambitious we’ve seen from a major US presidential nominee. Under his administration and leadership, we are optimistic about the future of US climate action and the opportunity for renewed global collaboration to address the climate crisis.

Amy Davidsen, Executive Director at the Climate Group, said: “Concern for the climate played a major role in the 2020 presidential debates. President-elect Biden’s win shows that Americans expect their president to follow climate science and take the bold and necessary actions to get the US back on track as a leader…..

November 9, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

In Britain, as in America, Small Nuclear Reactors – useless – EXCEPT FOR helping the nuclear weapons industry

A secret military agenda.  UK defence policy is driving energy policy – with the public kept in the dark, Beyond Nuclear
By David Thorpe, 8 Nov 20
,The UK government has for 15 years persistently backed the need for new nuclear power. Given its many problems, most informed observers can’t understand why. The answer lies in its commitment to being a nuclear military force. Here’s how, and why, anyone opposing nuclear power also needs to oppose its military use.

“All of Britain’s household energy needs supplied by offshore wind by 2030,” proclaimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a recent online Conservative Party conference. This means 40 per cent of total UK electricity. Johnson did not say how, but it is likely, if it happens, to be by capacity auctions, as it has been in the recent past.

But this may have been a deliberate distraction: there were two further announcements on energy – both about nuclear power.

16 so-called “small nuclear reactors”

Downing Street told the Financial Times, which it faithfully reported, that it was “considering” £2 billion of taxpayers’ money to support “small nuclear reactors” – up to 16 of them “to help UK meet carbon emissions targets”.

It claimed the first SMR is expected to cost £2.2 billion and be online by 2029.

The government could also commission the first mini power station, giving confidence to suppliers and investors. Any final decision will be subject to the Treasury’s multiyear spending review, due later this year.

The consortium that would build it includes Rolls Royce and the National Nuclear Laboratory.

Support for this SMR technology is expected to form part of Boris Johnson’s “10-point plan for a green industrial revolution” and new Energy White Paper, which are scheduled for release later in the autumn.

Johnson will probably also frame it as his response to the English citizens assembly recommendations– a version of the one demanded by Extinction Rebellion in 2019 – which reported its conclusions last month.

While the new energy plan will also include carbon capture and storage, and using hydrogen as vehicle fuel, it’s the small modular reactors that are eye-popping.

They would be manufactured on production lines in central plants and transported to sites for assembly. Each would operate for up to 60 years, “providing 440MW of electricity per year — enough to power a city the size of Leeds”, Downing Street said, and the Financial Times copied.

The SMR design is alleged to be ready by April next year. The business and energy department has already pledged £18 million (US $23.48 million) towards the consortium’s early-stage plans.

They are not small

The first thing to know about these beasts is that they are not small. 440MW? The plant at Wylfa (Anglesey, north Wales) was 460MW (it’s closed now). 440MW is bigger than all the Magnox type reactors except Wylfa and comparable to an Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor.

Where will they be built? In the town of Derby – the home of Rolls Royce – where, as nuclear consultant Dr. David Lowry points out, the government is already using the budget of the Housing and Communities Department to finance the construction of a new advanced manufacturing centre site.

When asked why this site was not being financed by the business and energy department (BEIS), as you’d expect, a spokesperson responded that it was part of “levelling up regeneration money”.

Or perhaps BEIS did not want its budget used in such a way. Throwing money at such a “risky prospect” betrays “an irrationally cavalier attitude” according to Andrew Stirling, Professor of Science & Technology Policy at the University of Sussex Business School, because an “implausibly short time” is being allowed to produce an untested reactor design.

Only if military needs are driving this decision is it explicable, Stirling says. “Even in a worst case scenario, where this massive Rolls Royce production line and supply chain investment is badly delayed (or even a complete failure) with respect to civil reactor production, what will nonetheless have been gained is a tooled-up facility and a national skills infrastructure for producing perhaps two further generations of submarine propulsion reactors, right into the second half of the century.

“And the costs of this will have been borne not by the defence budget, but by consumers and citizens.”

Yes, military needs

UK defence policy is fully committed to military nuclear. The roots of civil nuclear power lay in the Cold War push to develop nuclear weapons. Thus has it ever been since the British public was told nuclear electricity would be “too cheap to meter”.

The legacy of empire and thrust for continued perceived world status are at the core of a post-Brexit mentality. It’s inconceivable to the English political elite that this status could exist without Great Britain being in the nuclear nations club, brandishing the totem of a nuclear deterrent.

“The civil-military link is undisputable and should be openly discussed,” agrees Dr Paul Dorfman at the Energy Institute, University College London.

Andrew Stirling talks of the “tragic relative popularity of (increasingly obsolescent) nuclear weapons”. The coincidental fact that civil nuclear installations are also crumbling provides a serendipitous opportunity for some.

The stores of plutonium in the UK are already overflowing and the military has its own dedicated uranium enrichment logistics.

Any nation’s defence budget in this day and age cannot afford a new generation of nuclear weapons. So it needs to pass the costs onto the energy sector.

“Clearly, the military need to maintain both reactor construction and operation skills and access to fissile materials will remain. I can well see the temptation for Defence Ministers to try to transfer this cost to civilian budgets,” observes Tom Burke, Chairman of think tank E3G.

The threat of nuclear proliferation

The threat of nuclear proliferation is therefore linked to the spread of civil nuclear power worldwide, says Dr David Toke, Reader in Energy Politics, Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Aberdeen. David Lowry agrees: “India, Pakistan and above all Israel are obvious examples, each of which certainly has built nuclear weapons.”

It’s impossible to separate the tasks of challenging civil nuclear power without also challenging military nuclear interests, Stirling strongly believes. “The massive expense of increasingly ineffective military nuclear systems extend beyond the declared huge budgets. They are also propped up by large hidden subsidies from consumer and taxpayer payments for costly nuclear power.

“Huge hidden military interests will likely continue to keep the civil nuclear monster growing new arms. Until critics reach out and engage the entire thing, we’ll never prevail in either struggle.”

How new plants would be paid for still remains a question. Nuclear power is prohibitively expensive.

November 9, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The plan to use nuclear bombs for fracking in Western Australia

ED Note.  The absurd and dangerous project discussed here has nothing at all to do with the very admirable American group The Plowshares.
Operation Plowshare pushed for a civilian use for atomic bombs in the 1960s and Port Hedland was in its sights, ABC Radio Perth, By Emma Wynne– 8 Nov 20  Almost every day, John Clancy visits the State Library of WA and delves into the records, intent on finding the background to stories that have piqued his interest.

Most recently, his dives into the archives led him to a largely forgotten episode in Western Australia’s past — the serious discussions that took place about using a nuclear weapon to create a deep harbour at Port Hedland in the state’s north.

The discussions were between the WA Government, United States nuclear scientists, and mining companies.

In 1961, the US Government began Operation Plowshare, a program investigating using atomic technology for civil purposes.

“[The US] had the bomb at the end of the war and they were looking for ways to get some value back out of it after all the money they had spent developing it,” Mr Clancy said.

The original fracking was atomic fracking. But it was too strong for that. It was doing too much damage underground.”

Various Plowshare ideas floated included using atomic bombs to cut a highway through southern California or duplicate the Panama Canal in Nicaragua, but they were deemed too big and too risky.

“They’d have needed 30 or 40 bombs to do that,” he said.

“There would have been too much leftover waste and they didn’t quite know what a big concentration of it in one place would end up doing.”

His interest in the connection to WA was first roused years ago on a trip to the United States.

“You can do a public tour of the Nevada [nuclear] Test Site (NTS), and I did that,” he said.

“They had one particular test that they (the NTS) had set up with Port Hedland in mind, seeing how much dirt they could shift with one blast and how big the hole would be. That’s the first I heard of this.”

Recently, his online research led to an array of documents held in the State Records Office including reports, correspondence, and newspaper clippings about the plans during the 1960s.

“I never thought there would be this much information on it,” he said.

The files reveal numerous discussions the State Government, north-west mining companies, and nuclear scientists had around using nuclear technology in the Pilbara.

At the same time, the discovery of vast iron ore deposits in the Pilbara meant that the region was rapidly opening up to mining and industrial development.

A port was needed to ship million of tonnes of iron ore offshore.

Mr Clancy said the project in Australia’s remote north-west, requiring only one or two bombs, would have seemed an ideal first project.

“The Plowshare operation was quite prominent, they were shopping around anywhere they could for someone that was interested,” he said.

“While this was going on, they were still doing underground testing in America, they were gathering information all the time.

“They [Operation Plowshare] were open to anything.”……….

While it’s not entirely clear who first suggested it, the flurry of correspondence between the Western Australian government, engineering firms and mining companies throughout the 1960s shows the idea was firmly on the drawing board.

In one letter to Charles Court, a former premier and minister for regional development and the north-west from 1959 until 1971, an engineering firm wrote they had met with Australia’s atomic energy attache at the embassy in Washington and were eager to proceed:……..

A report of a visit by Australian Atomic Energy officers to BHP’s Deepdale iron ore development, dated February 1, 1966, gives some hint of the magnitude of the political challenge faced.

It also raised the inconvenient problem of the existence of the Test Ban Treaty:

The report goes on to discuss how an exemption may have been possible, but it would have required the Australian Government to be the first in the world to propose changing the treaty.

Mr Clancy also suspects the fallout from the British tests on the Montebello Islands in Western Australia’s north-west and in Maralinga in South Australia also played a part in why the ideas came to nothing.

By 1971, the Liberal government under Premier David Brand had been defeated and the records come to an end.

In 1977, the United States Government formally ended Operation Plowshare, never having found a site for the peacetime application of nuclear weapons……..


November 9, 2020 Posted by | history, Western Australia | Leave a comment

The Public Relations battle for nuclear in the UK

A secret military agenda.  UK defence policy is driving energy policy – with the public kept in the dark, Beyond Nuclear, By David Thorpe, 8 Nov 20 , ”…………The PR battle for nuclear

There is a PR battle in the UK media for new nuclear – and now there are two sides to it.

Editors seem to favour giving pro-nuclear writers a clear ride and rarely question their baseless claims that nuclear is zero carbon. This is misguided and not based on empirical data, says Dr Lowry.

If the carbon footprint of the full uranium life cycle is considered – from uranium mining, milling, enrichment (which is highly energy intensive), fuel fabrication, irradiation, radioactive waste conditioning, storage, packaging to final disposal – nuclear power’s CO2 emissions are between 10 to 18 times greater than those from renewable energy technologies, according to a recent study by  Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, California.

Another recent peer-reviewed article in Nature Energy shows that nations installing nuclear power don’t have lower carbon emissions, but those installing lots of renewables do. Moreover, investment in new nuclear “crowds out” investment in renewables.

Renewables therefore offer a more rapid and cost-effective means to address net zero targets. The opportunity cost of nuclear is severely negative. The 2019 version of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report comprehensively demolishes any evidence-based arguments on the utility of nuclear to help address climate change.

But that’s not the real argument. It’s military. At the very least, we deserve to be told.

David Thorpe is author of books such as Solar Technology and One Planet CitiesHe also runs online courses such as Post-Graduate Certificate in One Planet GovernanceHe is based in the UK.

November 9, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Politics in the age of pandemics, global heating, and nuclear danger – theme for November 20

The global threats of pandemic, climate change, and nuclear danger clearly require co-operation between nations, if we are to have any hope for a decent future – indeed – perhaps any future, for the human species, and for the rest of the other species, too.

Tensions as Armenia- Azerbaijan conflict pauses. War in Syria grinds on. USA and China already in some sort of cold war. National pride and one-up-manship are perpetually on display among the leaders of countries.  Nationalist and populist leaders seem to be in charge, with competitiveness and dog-eat-dog as their prevailing philosophy.

It is time for political leaders to pay attention to the efforts of global bodies, the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, and the many international agencies that work for the public good. What a timely winner for the Nobel Peace Prize was the United Nations World Food Programme!

As I write, people all over the world sigh in relief as the USA’s Democratic Party, led by reaonable people, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, wins the American election.   The disastrous results of four years of the Trump presidency for the United States will take some fixing. A return of President Trump would mean disaster for the whole world.

A rational team in the White House could begin the change that the world needs –   co-operation between the powerful nations to address the threats that now preoccupy the world’s people.

The Biden-Harris team will address the horrors of pandemic and climate change.

But let’s be aware. They’ll be more co-operative on nuclear arms control, but they are just as much in the grip of the nuclear lobby as the Republicans are.

November 9, 2020 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

NSW targets 12GW of renewables and storage under new roadmap that includes auctions — RenewEconomy

NSW government unveils its $32 billion investment plan for wind, solar, and storage, expected to cut emissions and costs for consumers as coal exits. The post NSW targets 12GW of renewables and storage under new roadmap that includes auctions appeared first on RenewEconomy.

NSW targets 12GW of renewables and storage under new roadmap that includes auctions — RenewEconomy

November 9, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More Australian drivers embrace electrified cars, as hybrid SUV sales triple — RenewEconomy

Australian drivers embrace electrified drivetrains, with figures showing hybrid SUV sales tripling compared to same period in 2019, and passenger EVs up 25 per cent. The post More Australian drivers embrace electrified cars, as hybrid SUV sales triple appeared first on RenewEconomy.

More Australian drivers embrace electrified cars, as hybrid SUV sales triple — RenewEconomy

November 9, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

November 8 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “A Joe Biden Presidency – A New Day In Fight For Climate Action” • You know that feeling when you awake from a long nightmare and see the sun shining outside? Yes, that’s what it feels like today. The US presidential election results have been confirmed in favor of Joe Bidenand Kamala Harris. […]

November 8 Energy News — geoharvey

November 9, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More wind and solar means early closure of coal plants is more likely — RenewEconomy

We now estimate that Australia’s main grid will be around 45% renewable as early as 2025, and that spells bad news for some coal generators. The post More wind and solar means early closure of coal plants is more likely appeared first on RenewEconomy.

More wind and solar means early closure of coal plants is more likely — RenewEconomy

November 9, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment