Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Government Productivity Commission Report fails to realise the complexity of environmental problems in uranium mining

Mia Pepper, Conservation Council of Western Australia, (CCWA) 10 Dec 20, The Productivity Commission Report has been released.
The CCWA had put in a detailed submission on uranium – in response to the Minerals Council of Australia attempts to reduce federal oversight of uranium mine projects. The overall terms for the PC report was to identify best practice regulation – while removing impediments to investment. (emphasis on removing impediments to investment – sigh).
The short take home message for us: is that the Productivity Commission (PC) echoes calls, initially made through the EPBC Act Review process, that ARPANSA become the regulator for uranium mines, removing the need for EPBC approvals.
This is narrow – it suggests the only problems or issues with uranium mines are related to radiation – the issues are much more complex and need environmental regulators not just radiation expertise.
There is pressure from MCA and AMEC to remove the ‘nuclear trigger’ because they say it impacts on Rare Earths and Minerals sands assessments and approvals – this didn’t get much traction by the PC but was a segue to supporting calls that ARPANSA become the federal regulator and remove the need for the Environment Department to asses or approve uranium project.
This fits with the larger Federal government agenda to remove federal approval requirements through setting up bilateral agreements with all the states and territories to defer powers to the State governments to both assess and approve projects that trigger federal intervention – like all uranium mines do. This is coming up before the Senate – but a majority of senators are set to block this and are calling for the Federal Government to release the final EPBC review report.
The long version with extracts from the PC report: Continue reading

December 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium | Leave a comment

Australia is “rapidly” moving towards a hotter, drier climate

Climate change predictions: Average temps to increase, rainfall to decrease
It seems our already warmer days are only going to get hotter as weather experts paint a grim picture of Australia’s climate in the future.  https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/technology/climate-change-predictions-average-temps-to-increase-rainfall-to-decrease/news-story/c09593fdeb48648c8bfea031bbe7beea
Emily Cosenza, December 9, 2020

NCA NewsWire  Australia is “rapidly” moving towards a hotter, drier climate, with average temperatures to continue on an upwards trajectory and rainfall being predicted to gradually decline in parts of the country.Climate change was a major theme in the Bureau of Meteorology’s State of the Climate 2020 biannual report as weather experts demonstrated how the country’s climate had changed since records began in 1910.

CSIRO senior research scientist Dr Michael Grose said weather trends seen in the past were very likely to continue in the future, including warmer temperatures and sea levels rising.

“Heavy rainfall – that‘s the hourly to daily intense downpours – is likely to become more intense through time, partly because that’s just what happens with a warmer atmosphere,” Dr Grose said.

“Unfortunately, that longer fire season with an earlier start and more days of dangerous fire weather is predicted to continue.

We’re heading towards what Australia would have experienced – or the equivalent for Australia – if global warming reached the 1.5 degree and 2 degree global warming level since pre-industrial, (and) we’re heading towards those quite rapidly.” ……..

“What’s really important in the report, and as we’ve seen in past reports, is that we’re experiencing climate change now, and it’s impacting on our community, many industries and other sectors as well,” Dr Bettio said.

She said some temperatures in the warmer months of 1916-89 were seen less than 1.8 per cent of the time but are now presenting more than 12 per cent on the time. “That 1 degree doesn’t sound like a big number, but it’s really impacting on that extreme heat that we experience

December 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Canada to support the nuclear weapons industry with Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

Canada re-engages in the Nuclear Weapons Business with SMRs,  December 3, 2020, WWW.HILLTIMES.COM/2020/12/03/CANADA-RE-ENTERS-NUCLEAR-WEAPONS-BUSINESS-WITH-SMALL-MODULAR-REACTORS/274591

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan is expected to announce within weeks his government’s action plan for development of “small modular” nuclear reactors (SMRs).

SMR developers already control the federally-subsidized Chalk River Laboratories and other facilities owned by the crown corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).  Canada is now poised to play a supporting role in the global nuclear weapons business, much as it did during World War II.

Canada was part of the Manhattan project with the U.S. and U.K. to produce atomic bombs.  In 1943 the three countries agreed to build a facility in Canada to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.  Researchers who trained at the Chalk River Laboratories went on to launch weapons programs in the U.K. and France.  Chalk River provided plutonium for U.S. weapons until the 1960s.

Canada’s Nuclear Schizophrenia describes a long tradition of nuclear cooperation with the United States:  “For example, in the early 1950s, the U.S. Navy used Canadian technology to design a small reactor for powering its nuclear submarines.”  C.D. Howe, after creating AECL in 1952 to develop nuclear reactors and sell weapons plutonium, remarked that “we in Canada are not engaged in military development, but the work that we are doing at Chalk River is of importance to military developments.”

The uranium used in the 1945 Hiroshima bomb may have been mined and refined in Canada. According to Jim Harding’s book Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System, from 1953 to 1969, all the uranium mined in Saskatchewan went to make U.S. nuclear weapons. Canada remains the world’s second-largest producer of uranium.  North America’s only currently operating uranium processing facility is owned by Cameco in Port Hope, Ontario.

Canada built India’s CIRUS reactor, which started up in 1960 and produced the plutonium for India’s first nuclear explosion in 1974. Canada also built Pakistan’s first nuclear reactor, which started up in 1972.  Although this reactor was not used to make weapons plutonium, it helped train the engineers who eventually exploded Pakistan’s first nuclear weapons in 1998.

In 2015 the Harper Government contracted a multi-national consortium called Canadian National Energy Alliance – now comprised of two U.S. companies, Fluor and Jacobs, along with Canada’s SNC-Lavalin – to operate AECL’s nuclear sites, the main one being at Chalk River.  Fluor operates the Savannah River Site, a South Carolina nuclear weapons facility, under contract to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  Jacobs also has contracts at DOE weapons facilities and is part of a consortium that operates the U.K. Atomic Weapons Establishment.


Joe McBrearty
, the president of the consortium’s subsidiary that operates Chalk River and other federal nuclear sites, was a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine commander and then chief operating officer for the DOE’s nuclear laboratories between 2010 and 2019.

All three consortium partners have investments in SMRs and are ramping up research and development at AECL’s Chalk River facility. Some SMR designs would use uranium enriched to levels well beyond those in current reactors; others would use plutonium fuel; others would use fuel dissolved in molten salt.   All of these pose new and problematic weapons proliferation risks.

Rolls Royce, an original consortium partner that makes reactors for the U.K.’s nuclear submarines, is lead partner in a U.K. consortium (including SNC-Lavalin) that was recently funded by the U.K. government to advance that country’s SMR program.

A military bromance: SMRs to support and cross-subsidize the UK nuclear weapons program, says “Industry and government in the UK openly promote SMRs on the grounds that an SMR industry would support the nuclear weapons program (in particular the submarine program) by providing a pool of trained nuclear experts, and that in so doing an SMR industry will cross-subsidize the weapons program.” 

The article quotes a 2017 Rolls Royce study as follows: “expansion of a nuclear-capable skilled workforce through a civil nuclear UK SMR programme would relieve the Ministry of Defence of the burden of developing and retaining skills and capability.”

The SMR connection to weapons and submarines could hardly be clearer – without SMRs, the U.S. and U.K. will experience a shortage of trained engineers to maintain their nuclear weapons programs.

With the takeover of AECL’s Chalk River Laboratories by SMR developers, and growing federal government support for SMRs, Canada has become part of a global regime linking nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

December 10, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

December 9 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Ohi Ruling Could Signal Trouble Ahead For Nuclear Reactor Restart Plans” • The Ohi case is unique because it’s the first time a court has specifically ruled against the central government over the way it operates its screening process for nuclear reactor safety and over the nature of its earthquake safety standards, adapted […]

December 9 Energy News — geoharvey

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Angus Taylor hails latest emissions projections, but it’s bad news for wind and solar — RenewEconomy

Taylor says Technology Roadmap will deliver cuts needed to hit 2030 emissions target – but the projections predict doom for large-scale wind and solar investment. The post Angus Taylor hails latest emissions projections, but it’s bad news for wind and solar appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Angus Taylor hails latest emissions projections, but it’s bad news for wind and solar — RenewEconomy

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

W.A. maps “just transition” for Collie as renewables hasten coal industry decline — RenewEconomy

McGowan government unveils ‘Just Transition’ plan for coal centre of Collie, as next step in 10 to 15-year process to prepare for exit of coal generators. The post W.A. maps “just transition” for Collie as renewables hasten coal industry decline appeared first on RenewEconomy.

W.A. maps “just transition” for Collie as renewables hasten coal industry decline — RenewEconomy

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Victoria passes half-way mark on road to 50% renewables by 2030 — RenewEconomy

Victoria says it has officially met its interim renewable energy target of 25 per cent by 2020, as it gears up to double that number over next 10 years. The post Victoria passes half-way mark on road to 50% renewables by 2030 appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Victoria passes half-way mark on road to 50% renewables by 2030 — RenewEconomy

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Carbon capture could be six times more costly than wind and storage, analysis shows — RenewEconomy

New analysis suggests that adding CCS to coal and gas generators would be hugely expensive, many times more costly than wind, solar and storage. The post Carbon capture could be six times more costly than wind and storage, analysis shows appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Carbon capture could be six times more costly than wind and storage, analysis shows — RenewEconomy

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment