Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Chinese-Australian uranium and rare earths mining company meets political opposition in Greenland

Left-wing party opposed to rare earth mining project wins Greenland election,  A left-wing environmentalist party opposed to a controversial mining project won a clear victory in Greenland’s parliamentary election, according to results released Wednesday. https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20210407-left-wing-party-opposed-to-rare-earth-mining-project-wins-greenland-election 7 Apr 21,

With 36.6 percent of the vote, Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) was ahead of Siumut, a social democratic party that has dominated politics in the Danish territory since it gained autonomy in 1979.

“Thank you to the people who trusted us to work with the people in the centre for the next four years,” IA leader Mute Egede said on KNR public television after the results were announced.

IA, which was previously in opposition, is expected to grab 12 out of the 31 seats in the Inatsisartut, the local parliament, up from eight currently.

But without an absolute majority, the most likely scenario is that IA joins forces with smaller parties to form a coalition.   Siumut, which headed the outgoing government, was partly weakened by internal struggles. It gained 29.4 percent of the vote, still two percentage points higher than its results in the 2018 election.

The dividing line between the two parties was whether to authorise a controversial giant rare earth and uranium mining project, which is currently the subject of public hearings.

The Kuannersuit deposit, in the island’s south, is considered one of the world’s richest in uranium and rare earth minerals — a group of 17 metals used as components in everything from smartphones to electric cars and weapons.

IA has called for a moratorium on uranium mining, which would effectively put a halt to the project.

Divisions over Kuannersuit originally triggered the snap election in the territory after one of the smaller parties left the ruling Siumut coalition.

Opponents say the project, led by the Chinese-owned Australian group Greenland Minerals, has too many environmental risks, including radioactive waste.

Egede told KNR he would immediately start discussions to “explore different forms of cooperation” before forming a coalition government.

The 34-year-old, who has been a member of the Inatsisartut since 2015, took over the reins of the left-green party a little over two years ago.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics international, rare earths, uranium | Leave a comment

Unstoppable: Rooftop solar market notches up new all-time high in March — RenewEconomy

Australia breaks yet another record for rooftop solar installations, with homes and businesses adding 317MW of systems in March – an all-time high for national monthly installs. The post Unstoppable: Rooftop solar market notches up new all-time high in March appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Unstoppable: Rooftop solar market notches up new all-time high in March — RenewEconomy

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s part in continuing nuclear havoc in Pacific islands – legacy of atomic bomb tests

75 years after nuclear testing in the Pacific began, the fallout continues to wreak havoc    https://theconversation.com/75-years-after-nuclear-testing-in-the-pacific-began-the-fallout-continues-to-wreak-havoc-158208?fbclid=IwAR3q9QJvy507ds2kD0ibOvkD6ZzxFqgGjfHsGrwqJUVMNpujOu8sAeLVPtY
April 6, 2021 
 Patricia A. O’Brien Patricia A. O’Brien is a Friend of The Conversation.Historian, Visiting Fellow in the School of History, Australian National University and Adjunct Professor in the Asian Studies Program, Georgetown University,    This year marks 75 years since the United States launched its immense atomic testing program in the Pacific. The historical fallout from tests carried out over 12 years in the Marshall Islands, then a UN Trust Territory governed by the US, have framed seven decades of US relations with the Pacific nation.Due to the dramatic effects of climate change, the legacies of this history are shaping the present in myriad ways.

This history has Australian dimensions too, though decades of diplomatic distance between Australia and the Marshall Islands have hidden an entangled atomic past.

In 1946, the Marshall Islands seemed very close for many Australians. They feared the imminent launch of the US’s atomic testing program on Bikini Atoll might split the earth in two, catastrophically change the earth’s climate, or produce earthquakes and deadly tidal waves.

A map accompanying one report noted Sydney was only 3,100 miles from ground zero. Residents as far away as Perth were warned if their houses shook on July 1, “it may be the atom bomb test”.

Australia was “included in the tests” as a site for recording blast effects and monitoring for atom bombs detonated anywhere in the world by hostile nations. This Australian site served to keep enemies in check and achieve one of the Pacific testing program’s objectives: to deter future war. The other justification was the advancement of science.

The earth did not split in two after the initial test (unless you were Marshallese) so they continued; 66 others followed over the next 12 years. But the insidious and multiple harms to people and place, regularly covered up or denied publicly, became increasingly hard to hide.

Radiation poisoning, birth defects, leukaemia, thyroid and other cancers became prevalent in exposed Marshallese, at least four islands were “partially or completely vapourised”, the exposed Marshallese “became subjects of a medical research program” and atomic refugees. (Bikinians were allowed to return to their atoll for a decade before the US government removed them again when it was realised a careless error falsely claimed radiation levels were safe in 1968.)

In late 1947, the US moved its operations to Eniwetok Atoll, a decision, it was argued, to ensure additional safety. Eniwetok was more isolated and winds were less likely to carry radioactive particles to populated areas.

Australian reports noted this site was only 3,200 miles from Sydney. Troubling reports of radioactive clouds as far away as the French Alps and the known shocking health effects appeared.

Dissenting voices were initially muted due to the steep escalation of the Cold War and Soviet atomic weapon tests beginning in 1949.

Opinion in Australia split along political lines. Conservative Cold War warriors, chief among them Robert Menzies who became prime minister again in 1949, kept Australia in lockstep with the US, and downplayed the ill-effects of testing. Left-wing elements in Australia continued to draw attention to the “horrors” it unleashed.

The atomic question came home in 1952, when the first of 12 British atomic tests began on the Montebello Islands, off Western Australia.   Australia’s involvement in atomic testing expanded again in 1954, when it began supplying South Australian-mined uranium to the US and UK’s joint defence purchasing authority, the Combined Development Agency.

Australia’s economic stake in the atomic age from 1954 collided with the galvanisation of global public opinion against US testing in Eniwetok. The massive “Castle Bravo” hydrogen bomb test in March exposed Marshall Islanders and a Japanese fishing crew on The Lucky Dragon to catastrophic radiation levels “equal to that received by Japanese people less than two miles from ground zero” in the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic blasts. Graphic details of the fishermen’s suffering and deaths and a Marshallese petition to the United Nations followed.

When a UN resolution to halt US testing was voted on in July, Australia voted for its continuation. But the tide of public opinion was turning against testing. The events of 1954 dispelled the notion atomic waste was safe and could be contained. The problem of radioactive fish travelling into Australian waters highlighted these new dangers, which spurred increasing world wide protests until the US finally ceased testing in the Marshalls in 1958.

In the 1970s, US atomic waste was concentrated under the Runit Island dome, part of Enewetak Atoll (about 3,200 miles from Sydney). Recent alarming descriptions of how precarious and dangerous this structure is due to age, sea water inundation and storm damage exacerbated by climate change were contested in a 2020 Trump-era report.

The Biden administration’s current renegotiation of the Compact of Free Association with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and its prioritisation of action on climate change, will put Runit Island high on the agenda. There is an opportunity for historical redress for the US that is even more urgent given the upsurge in discrimination against US-based Pacific Islander communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are peoples displaced by the tests.

Australia is also embarking on a new level of engagement with the Marshall Islands: it is due to open its first embassy in the capital Majuro in 2021.It should be remembered this bilateral relationship has an atomic history too. Australia supported the US testing program, assisted with data collection and voted in the UN for its continuation when Marshallese pleaded for it to be stopped. It is also likely Australian-sourced atomic waste lies within Runit Island, cementing Australia in this history.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, history, reference, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

As the Climate Crisis Grows, a Movement Gathers to Make ‘Ecocide’ an International Crime Against the Environment   

As the Climate Crisis Grows, a Movement Gathers to Make ‘Ecocide’ an International Crime Against the Environment    InsideClimateNews,   7 Apr 21, International lawyers, environmentalists and a growing number of world leaders say “ecocide”—widespread destruction of the environment—would serve as a “moral red line” for the planet.By Nicholas Kusnetz, Katie Surma and Yuliya TalmazanApril 7, 2021  The Fifth Crime: First in a continuing series with NBC News about the campaign to make “ecocide” an international crime.

In 1948, after Nazi Germany exterminated millions of Jews and other minorities during World War II, the United Nations adopted a convention establishing a new crime so heinous it demanded collective action. Genocide, the nations declared, was “condemned by the civilized world” and justified intervention in the affairs of sovereign states. 

Now, a small but growing number of world leaders including Pope Francis and French President Emmanuel Macron have begun citing an offense they say poses a similar threat to humanity and remains beyond the reach of existing legal conventions: ecocide, or widespread destruction of the environment.

The Pope describes ecocide as “the massive contamination of air, land and water,” or “any action capable of producing an ecological disaster,” and has proposed making it a sin for Catholics. 

The Pontiff has also endorsed a campaign by environmental activists and legal scholars to make ecocide the fifth crime before the International Criminal Court in The Hague as a legal deterrent to the kinds of far-reaching environmental damage that are driving mass extinction, ecological collapse and climate change. The monumental step, which faces a long road of global debate, would mean political leaders and corporate executives could face charges and imprisonment for “ecocidal” acts. 

To make their case, advocates point to the Amazon, where fires raged out of control in 2019, and where the rainforest may now be so degraded it is spewing more climate-warming gases than it draws in. At the poles, human activity is thawing a frozen Arctic and destabilizing the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. 

Across the globe, climate change is disrupting the reliable seasonal rhythms that have sustained human life for millenia, while hurricanes, floods and other climate-driven disasters have forced more than 10 million people from their homes in the last six months. Fossil fuel pollution has killed 9 million people annually in recent years, according to a study in Environmental Research, more than tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS combined. 

One in four mammals are threatened with extinction. For amphibians, it’s four in 10.

Damage to nature has become so extensive and widespread around the world that many environmentalists speak of ecocide to describe numerous environmentally devastated hot spots: 

  • Chernobyl, the Ukrainian nuclear plant that exploded in 1986 and left the now-deserted area dangerously radioactive;
  • The tar sands of northern Canada, where toxic waste pits and strip mines have replaced 400 square miles of boreal forest and boglands;
  • The Gulf of Mexico, site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people, spilled at least 168 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean over 87 days and killed countless marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and migratory birds; 
  • The Amazon, where rapid deforestation encouraged by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro prompted Joe Biden, during his presidential campaign, to propose a $20 billion rescue plan and threaten the Brazilian leader with economic sanctions.

The campaign to criminalize ecocide is now moving from the fringe of advocacy into global diplomacy, pushed by a growing recognition among advocates and many political leaders that climate change and environmental causes are tied inherently to human rights and social justice.

The effort remains a long shot and is at least years from fruition, international and environmental law experts say. Advocates will have to navigate political tensions over whether national governments or the international community have ultimate control over natural resources. And they’ll likely face opposition from countries with high carbon emissions and deep ties to industrial development. …………………

Into the Mainstream

While the campaign for an ecocide law could take years—if it is successful at all—advocates say the effort could bear fruit much sooner: The ecocide campaign has thrust the concept into public discussion. 

Mehta doesn’t expect the campaign to catch fire in the United States, but after four years of President Donald Trump, she’s heartened by the arrival of John Kerry, Biden’s special climate envoy. “We don’t expect the U.S. to join the ICC any time soon, but that said, the conversation around ecocide itself, we don’t see any reason why it can’t start happening in the U.S.,” she said.  

The State Department released a statement saying that the U.S. “regularly engages with other countries” on “the importance of preventing environmental destruction during armed conflict,” but added, “We do not comment on the details of our communications with foreign governments.”

Mehta’s campaign is also part of a wider effort by activists who have been looking to the courts to force more aggressive action on climate change.

As of July 1, 2020, at least 1,550 climate change cases have been filed in 38 countries, according to a U.N. report.

In the landmark Urgenda case, a Dutch court ruled in 2015 that the government had acted negligently by failing to take aggressive enough action to limit its greenhouse gas emissions. The decision, upheld by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in 2019, ordered the government to hit specific emissions reductions targets and sparked a series of similar lawsuits in other countries………….. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/07042021/climate-crisis-ecocide-vanuatu-the-fifth-crime/

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Proposed New Mexico nuclear waste storage facility is illegal

Nuclear waste director: Proposed New Mexico nuclear waste storage facility is illegal,   https://www.thecentersquare.com/new_mexico/nuclear-waste-director-proposed-new-mexico-nuclear-waste-storage-facility-is-illegal/article_5c2497f2-9716-11eb-a1c7-f34c8873c0ba.html (The Center Square) 7 Apr 21, – Safety and economic concerns over a proposed nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad have prompted the state of New Mexico to sue the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

To be built by Holtec in southeast New Mexico, the facility would be an above-ground complex for storing spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants.

The state’s lawsuit is built on legal concerns.

Holtec has stated the federal government is going to fund the facility, but according to federal law, utilities are responsible for storage, said Don Hancock, director of the Southwest Research and Information Center’s Nuclear Waste Program.

The state argues consistently throughout the complaint that this whole facility is illegal because the federal law doesn’t authorize the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to authorize this kind of consolidated facility,” he told The Center Square.

Hancock added that the state’s entire list of complaints is 47 pages long.

“The federal government has said in law that this spent fuel, this irradiated fuel from nuclear power plants, is highly toxic and highly dangerous, and its permanent disposal requires it to be disposed deep underground in stable geologic formations, so that’s the law,” he said. “This facility is none of that.”

Holtec and NRC attempted to circumvent that issue by terming the storage facility as temporary, however, the state pointed out that Holtec and NRC can’t provide a timeframe for when it would be moved and have admitted they don’t have any plans for where it would go, said Hancock.

These legal concerns only compound the economic issues raised.

The facility would be built in the middle of the biggest oil and gas production areas in the state and poses a significant threat to operations.

“In the best of all circumstances it would be disruptive and, the worst of all circumstances, it would close down a multi-million dollar industry,” Hancock said.

Disruption would be caused by global perceptions that New Mexico oil producers are OK with having an illegal nuclear storage facility nearby that could leak into the supply of oil, Hancock said. The worst-case scenario is a leak that leaves New Mexico’s oil supply radioactively contaminated and causes billions of dollars in economic damage.

“If there was a leak or an accident and the nation and the world heard there was a major nuclear accident in the middle of the oil and gas production field of New Mexico or Texas, what do you think people are going to think about that?” he asked.

After failed attempts to get the NRC to consider their concerns, the state turned to the courts to make their voice heard, said Hancock.

“The state feels ignored,” he said.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japanese government continues Japan’s ”Nuclear Village” generous grants to keep ageing nuclear reactors going.

Lucrative grants offered to keep aging nuclear reactors running,  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14326422

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

April 7, 2021   
The central government is offering billions of yen in new grants to Fukui Prefecture to allow a nuclear plant operator to run its aging reactors beyond their operational life span of 40 years.

Fukui is not the only prefecture in Japan that hosts old reactors, and the grants could create momentum toward the restarts of these units.

“As for an expansion of grants, up to 2.5 billion yen ($22.6 million) will be provided per nuclear plant to a prefecture preparing to respond to the extension of the 40-year life of reactors,” the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a document presented to the Fukui prefectural government on April 6.

The ministry’s offer is expected to become a key point of discussions as Fukui Prefecture and the prefectural assembly begin to weigh whether they should approve of the restart of three reactors in question there.

Fukui Governor Tatsuji Sugimoto hailed the central government’s offer, calling it “a step forward.”
He had urged the prefectural assembly to discuss the restart issue in February, but the assembly put off the debate, citing a lack of measures to revitalize the local economy.

Osaka-based Kansai Electric Power Co. is pushing to reactivate the three reactors in Fukui Prefecture–the No. 1 and 2 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant in Takahama and the No. 3 reactor at the Mihama nuclear plant in Mihama.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority has given its one-time permission to operate those reactors for 20 more years beyond their 40-year life spans.

If the local governments approve the restarts, Fukui Prefecture would receive a combined 5 billion yen under the new grant setup.

The town halls of Takahama and Mihama have already given the greenlight to the restarts. The remaining hurdle is whether the governor and the prefectural assembly will approve them.

The maximum 2.5 billion yen will be made available over a period of five years, according to the industry ministry’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.

The offer of the funds came in response to the Fukui prefectural government’s request for additional grants concerning the reactors as a measure to stimulate the local economy.

The prefectural government is expected to discuss how to distribute the grants with Takahama and Mihama.

Other prefectures hosting old reactors operated by companies seeking the 20-year extension will be eligible for the new grants.

The only other facility that has gained the NRA’s permission to operate beyond 40 years is the Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Five other reactors in Japan have been in service for more than 35 years.

The decommissioning process has started for other aging reactors because their operators decided that upgrades and additional safeguard measures required to bring them back online would be too expensive.

(This article was written by Kenji Oda and Takayuki Sato.)

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“I lost the support of my colleagues”: Kean explains decision to dump Turnbull — RenewEconomy

NSW energy minister Matt Kean says the future of coal mines beyond the remit of new zero emissions advisory board, which is one reason why Turnbull was dumped as chair. The post “I lost the support of my colleagues”: Kean explains decision to dump Turnbull appeared first on RenewEconomy.

“I lost the support of my colleagues”: Kean explains decision to dump Turnbull — RenewEconomy

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Do or die moment for market re-design as Taylor takes control of process — RenewEconomy

Plans for a post-2025 redesign of Australia’s main grid delivered to Angus Taylor – but will the Morrison government actually deliver much needed reforms? The post Do or die moment for market re-design as Taylor takes control of process appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Do or die moment for market re-design as Taylor takes control of process — RenewEconomy

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 7 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “2020 Set A New Record For Renewable Energy. What’s The Catch?” • More than 80% of all new electricity generating projects built last year were renewable, leading to a 10.3% rise in total installed zero carbon electricity generation globally. But in spite of reduced energy demand in 2020 due to Covid-19, fossil fuels […]

April 7 Energy News — geoharvey

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment