Australian news, and some related international items

The Australian government’s shameful record in the Kimba nuclear dump fiasco

I am absolutely disgusted at how the federal government has treated the communities of Kimba and previously Hawker which I  simply could not believe to be possible in Australia

It did not take long to realise how badly and improperly the government dealt with those communities for its own political reasons which has lead to a breakdown of the Kimba community and will probably ruin its agricultural industries

The government should have known from the outset that the unjustified and deliberately misleading information foisted on those communities on such a major issue of national importance would create such strong public opposition which would be difficult to overcome

Had this occurred in another country it would have already been the subject of serious litigation based on human rights yet as much as we pride ourselves on our democratic principles and the rule of law there have been no legal remedies available to the community members opposing the government’s proposals

In opposing the government’s proposals there were many others who shared my views and have helped to displace the legislative process which hopefully will put an end to this most unfortunate and socially insensitive situation

It can only shame our government administration .

December 31, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Never give up! 95 year old Hibakusha welcomes the UN nuclear ban treaty

December 31, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

On danger of nuclear war, the Biden administration – just as bad as Trump’s

December 31, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Small modular reactor plan – a dangerous distraction from climate change action

Feds’ Small Modular Reactor Action Plan is a dangerous distraction from climate change mitigation, Corporate Knights BY RICK CHEESEMAN, December 29, 2020

Attractive rhetoric around SMR’s does not equate to viability upon close examination   In December 18, the Government of Canada launched its Small Modular Reactor Action Plan, ramping up its support for a new generation of nuclear reactors that will be smaller than the existing fleet, and designed for assembly-line production.

Canada can be a world leader in this promising, innovative, zero-emissions energy technology, and this is our plan to position ourselves in an emerging global market,” Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said in a statement.

The governments of New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, together with the federal government, advocate that small modular reactors (SMRs) are essential if Canada is to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050. According to the feds’ 2018 Call to Action report on the mini nuclear reactors, “SMRs are a reliable, clean, non-emitting source of energy, with costs that are predictable and competitive with other alternatives.”

The first problem with these claims is that SMRs don’t yet exist and aren’t expected to exist for a decade, making these claims dubious. It’s not the only questionable claim made by proponents.

Are SMRs a clean, zero-emission source of power? 

Nuclear reactors emit much lower concentrations of carbon than fossil fuels, so one could claim they are zero-emission. But they have their own, uniquely harmful, emissions. From thousands of tonnes of spent fuel to hundreds of thousands of tonnes of mine tailings, nuclear power leaves a radioactive trail that is an immediate threat to waterways and water tables and is lethal for hundreds of thousands of years. SMRs will only add to that.

In 2010, Ad Standards Canada ruled that an ad claiming CANDU reactors were emission-free was “inaccurate and unsupported.” The Power Workers’ Union was expected to remove all ads containing the “emission-free” statement and to qualify any future claims. ……

After 70 years, the nuclear industry still hasn’t found a way to keep habitable environments safe from spent fuel for anything close to the time frames required for it to be harmless. There have been many plans in the past and there are current plans but all have one thing in common: they are unfit for purpose.

Some SMR technologies promise to use CANDU spent fuel in the SMR, claiming this will reduce both the radioactivity and quantity of the spent fuel. This claim is theoretical, based on proprietary data, and a report published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said doing so would be “playing with fire,” noting that the process, called pyroprocessing, will exacerbate the spent fuel storage and disposal challenges, not mitigate them.

Will SMRs be safe?

………. SMRs will require fuel that has been “enriched,” increasing the concentration of plutonium. Since plutonium is the “active ingredient” in nuclear weapons, the potential for nuclear proliferation increases, and SMR fuel production and transportation will require increased security. Concerns over safety are not limited to the actual fuel and its reactions. Many of the SMR designs being considered in Canada have a much higher operating temperature than existing reactors, and some have a much more corrosive environment. The materials required to house the reaction, the reactor itself, do not exist yet and their development is in its infancy.
Will SMRs be a cost-effective source of power?
Projects for constructing and refurbishing nuclear power stations have a solid track record for coming in years behind schedule and billions over budget. It appears that SMRs are following the same trajectory: NuScale Power, an SMR development firm based in Portland, Oregon, may be the closest to having a functioning, approved SMR. To date, the U.S. government has invested $1.6 billion. In 2015, the estimated total development cost was $3 billion; today it is $6.1 billion. In 2008, NuScale predicted that its SMR would be online in 2016; today, it predicts that it will be 2029.
Nonetheless, SMR proponents have suggested that the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for SMRs will be on par with renewables. However, there is a plethora of independent, peer-reviewed papers that indicate much higher costs, including a recent Canadian report that concludes the LCOE of an SMR could be 10 times the cost of wind, solar or diesel. With the costs of renewable energy quickly plummeting, and given the rapid evolution of renewable generation and storage technologies, it’s unlikely SMRs will be competitive.

A range of power-generation and storage technologies that are clean, emissions-free, safe and low cost, is imminent. Within 10 years, these technologies will be widespread, fully incorporated into all levels of society, and deployed to all regions – all before the first SMR comes online. In all likelihood, by the time an SMR comes to market, there will be a more economical and environmentally responsible alternative in place.

While the rhetoric is persuasive, the case for SMRs doesn’t stand up to objective scrutiny. Allocating climate-change funds to them is a travesty.


December 31, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

USA is not facing up to the climate threats to its nuclear wastes

US is Ill-Prepared to Safely Manage its Nuclear Waste from Climate Threats.   More than 150 sites across the country have to be managed for radioactive waste for centuries or millennia. But there’s no plan in place for how this will be done, says GAO report.  Earth Island Journal , CHARLES PEKOW, December 29, 2020    The Cold War never erupted into the nuclear nightmare that the world feared for decades. But the legacy of the never-used nuclear weapons remains a ticking time bomb that could endanger countless people and lead to environmental catastrophe any time.

In the United States, there are more than 150 sites that have to be managed for nuclear waste for centuries or millennia. But, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the US Department of Energy (DoE) — which is charged with managing dangerous, radioactive waste and contaminated soil and water leftover from weapon construction — appears to lacks the capacity for the task.
DoE’s Office of Legacy Management (LM) manages 100 nuclear waste dumps with 51 or 52 more sites expected to fall under its jurisdiction by 2050 (one site remains in question). The sites range all over the country, from Amchitka in the western Aleutians to El Verde on the east side of Puerto Rico. The Legacy Management office takes over maintenance of dangerous sites after other managers — including DoE’s Office of Environmental Management, US Army Corps of Engineers, and private licensees — have cleaned them up.

The GAO report, “Environmental Liabilities: DoE Needs to Better Plan for Post-Cleanup Challenges Facing Sites” (pdf), issued earlier this year, found, among other things, that the DoE doesn’t have a plan for how to address challenges at some sites that may require new cleanup work that is not in the scope of LM’s expertise.

Nor, says the report, does it have a strategy in place to assess and mitigate the effects of climate change on these sites, that need to be safeguarded against increasingly frequent and severe rainfall, tornadoes, hurricanes and accompanying flooding and forest fires. It foresees that the DoE will need yet-to-be-developed technology and untold billions of dollars to keep the stored nuclear waste from contaminating air, soil and water. 
The report notes that the Office of Legacy Management has not developed agreements or procedures in collaboration with the Office of Environmental Management (EM) or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to figure out how to contain the radioactive waste. The Legacy Management office estimated its liabilities (in the 2019 fiscal year) at 503.3 billion – but that could be a vast underestimate as it doesn’t know what hazards or costs may develop. The cost estimates go only 75 years out and don’t include estimates for the cost of protecting the 50 plus sites it will have to take over in the next few decades. For instance, these estimates don’t account for the Elemental Mercury Storage Facility near Andrews, Texas, which DoE hasn’t inherited yet, but where the department has decided to store up to 6,800 metric tons of elemental mercury — a major environmental pollutant………..

some of these sites have already been creating serious problems.

At Rocky Flats, which has become surrounded by suburban development since its 1992 closure, excessive rain damaged the facility in in 2013. The soil, sediment, groundwater, and surface water of the former nuclear weapons manufacturing site had been contaminated with hazardous chemicals and radioactive constituents as a result of “manufacturing activities, accidental industrial fires and spills, support activities, and waste management practices,” according to EPA.
Even after cleanup, several ponds and landfills remained contaminated. In recent years, excessive rainfall and erosion has damaged the site again in the past few years. The office Legacy Managment considers Rocky Flats as its biggest liability ($452 million). In 2016, the estimated cost of just maintenance and surveillance of the site totaled $269 million………

Among the many other problem sites, the Legacy Management office is struggling to figure out what to do with contaminated groundwater at the Shiprock nuclear waste dump on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation in northwest New Mexico. Contaminated water, the legacy of uranium mining for nuclear power plants and weapons, is being pumped to an evaporation pond there.

Compounding the problem, most of these nuclear waste sites were created before key environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation & Recovery Act, were enacted. So the laws don’t apply…………..
Now climate change is adding a new level of complication to an already complex waste management issue that can have serious environmental and public health impacts……….
nuclear watchdog groups aren’t satisfied with the slow progress on this front. The nation needs “a reverse Manhattan project,” to figure out how to safely diffuse the radioactive waste, says Schaeffer of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

December 31, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment