Australian news, and some related international items

Scott Morrison’s plan for Australia to fund small nuclear reactors and other very dubious technologies that purport to combat global heating.

Australia to fund low-emissions research as world sets ambitious climate targets, The Age, By Mike Foley, April 21, 2021,

The government is offering $566 million to global experts who want to collaborate with Australia on clean energy projects, with ‘green steel’, battery storage and even research on nuclear fission reactors among the possible tech options.

Australia will help fund groundbreaking research in low-emissions technology as the Morrison government confronts increasingly ambitious climate commitments from major trading partners ahead of a global climate summit.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce a $566 million investment in research partnerships with other countries for new technology like green steel, small modular nuclear reactors, and soil carbon sequestration. He said the technology from the deals would benefit Australian export industries such as agriculture, coal, aluminium and gas…….

Australia’s focus on international action contrasts with the increasingly ambitious 2030 emissions targets that developed nations are announcing in the lead-up to US President Joe Biden’s international climate summit on Thursday…….

But Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said one country alone cannot make commercially viable the low emissions solutions needed to replace polluting technologies, or roll them out at scale……..

The partnership funding is a commitment in the upcoming federal budget. The Morrison government has entered discussions with the US, UK, Japan, Korea and Germany…..

Funds will be invested in research and development partnerships in line with Australia’s technology roadmap, which has prioritised hydrogen, low-emissions steel and aluminium, battery storage, and soil carbon sequestration on farmland….”

The Morrison government will also seek to collaborate with the US and UK on small modular nuclear reactors, which are not yet commercially viable. It has no plan to remove Australia’s ban on nuclear power or fuel processing.. …

April 22, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, technology | Leave a comment

Morrison’s last minute climate token: $70m a year for ‘international partnerships’ — RenewEconomy

New initiatives mean Morrison will now go to Biden’s climate summit with $1.1 billion of promised investment, but no new emissions targets. The post Morrison’s last minute climate token: $70m a year for ‘international partnerships’ appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Morrison’s last minute climate token: $70m a year for ‘international partnerships’ — RenewEconomy

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima waste water plan won’t win public confidence, no matter how hard Japan tries

Fukushima waste water plan won’t win public confidence, no matter how hard Japan tries,  Peter Wynn Kirby

  • The nuclear industry’s history of secrecy and cover-ups is only one reason
  • Tepco’s incompetent and at times dishonest handling so far of the 2011 disaster and its aftermath has shattered what’s left of people’s trust.

To exasperated observers, this recalled the nuclear industry’s notorious 1990s mobilisation of Pluto-kun, a puckish cartoon character who drinks plutonium – arguably the world’s most dangerous substance – to demonstrate its harmlessness.

While other nations in the region have registered vociferous opposition to the water release plan, the domestic resistance is telling. A majority of Japanese oppose the plan. For a decade, the fishing industry has laboured, successfully, to show that the seafood it brings to market is safe, giving a wide berth to the plume of radioactive effluent haemorrhaging out of the Fukushima nuclear plant. All these efforts may soon appear to have been made in vain.

As indicated above, the choice of last Tuesday for the announcement seems to have been dictated by politics alone. Did Japan see the Olympics as a feel-good spectacle that could provide cover for the decision? Did US President Joe Biden’s recent pressure on Japan and South Korea to work together on regional security make the timing more palatable? 

Whatever the calculus involved, one thing is for sure: the more Japan tries to make Fukushima Daiichi seem perfectly safe, the more people distrust the message – and the messenger.

As the Japanese proverb goes, “Let the past drift away like water.” Yet with radiation, letting go is not so simple. Even as the Japanese government tries to rid itself of the catastrophic after-effects of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, radioactive traces stubbornly remain. 

Japan announced last week its intention to release about 1.25 million tonnes of waste water collected from the bowels of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The water to be released into the Pacific Ocean contains tritium, a radioactive hydrogen isotope with a half-life of over 12 years. The unwelcome news has provoked uproar both within Japan and among neighbouring countries

For over a decade, authorities have been engaged in a messy, difficult, frustrating, even Sisyphean task, flushing the ruined footprint of the power station with water to keep the slumped nuclear fuel there from triggering a chain reaction.The meltdowns left parlous uranium fuel in desultory clumps amid the wreckage below. The only way to cool the escaped uranium is to flood the most dangerous areas of the Fukushima Daiichi complex with circulating seawater. Radioactive groundwater and waste water have been stored on-site to avoid contact with humans and the environment.

Ever since, huge water tanks filled with contaminated water have been springing up around the Fukushima Daiichi site like poisonous mushrooms. Now, there are over 1,000 of them. Most rival the size of small Japanese apartment buildings. 

You didn’t have to be a genius to realise that the situation at Fukushima Daiichi was unsustainable. Any child who could do basic maths, or maybe a bit of Minecraft, would have been able to see that, day by day, month by month, the water would increase and the 350-hectare site would have less and less available space.Whatever else you might say about Japanese bureaucrats with regard to nuclear policy, they have very good maths skills. As a result, we can surmise that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s announcement last week was, at root, a question of politics and calculated timing

Not that Japan didn’t attempt to resolve the situation otherwise. Authorities tried a range of strategies, including plugging leaks and creating a gigantic US$300 million ice wall around the site, underground, to stem water flow.

In the end, filtering the waste water was the only workable solution. But Japan had mixed results with this strategy. In June 2011, the first filtration system set up by reviled Tepco – Tokyo Electric Power Co, the company that owned the nuclear power station – broke down after only a few hours. The amount of radioactive Caesium in the water overwhelmed the filters. 

More recently, before a parliamentary commission, Tepco was forced to admit that it had falsely claimed to have treated most of the waste water from the plant. In actual fact, Tepco had properly dealt with only about one-fifth of the waste water.

Astonishingly, this disappointing result stemmed from it not having bothered to change the filters often enough. Even such basic elements of quality control seem to be beyond the capabilities of the Tepco team, which already lives in infamy after having presided over the world’s second most damaging civil nuclear disaster, after Chernobyl. 

Predictably, scientists, officials and industry stakeholders argue that this degree of tritium discharge happens all the time in the nuclear industry – this is more or less true, however perturbing – and suggest that the announced controlled release should therefore present no problem whatsoever.

But the history of the nuclear industry globally is one of military synergies, secrecy, cover-ups, Machiavellian information management, and propaganda-style communication with the public. Indeed, it was striking that on the very same day as Suga’s announcement, Japan’s reconstruction agency released a video depicting tritium in the form of Tritium-kun, a harmless-seeming fishlike creature with blushing cheeks who says tritium release is safe.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

There will be mounting opposition to Japan’s plan to dump radioactive water into the ocean.

Toxic reaction to Japan’s
Fukushima water dump

Experts insist the release of treated radioactive water is not dangerous.

Legal challenges might find otherwise.

The Netflix documentary “Seaspiracy” caused a stir following its release last month, both for highlighting the serious damage human activities are causing the world’s oceans – whether from marine debris or whale hunting – and also for claims that the program features misleading statements and statistics.

But the controversy pales against the announcement last week by the Japanese government that it plans in two years to release treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.

The contaminated water has been held in tanks since an earthquake and subsequent tsunami damaged the Fukushima nuclear reactor in 2011. With storage capacity predicted to run out late next year, Japan has decided to press ahead with long-speculated plans to dump treated wastewater into the sea.

Even though the Japanese government, International Atomic Energy Agency and some experts have argued that the release of the water is not dangerous and will do no harm to the ocean, there are good reasons to be concerned about the potential for environmental damage. Local Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese fishing industries have protested the move, as have communities in the Pacific Islands. China has been scathing, with one recent op-ed in the state-run China Daily declaring “Japan cannot use the Pacific as its sewer”. The United States has been more understanding in its comments, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken praising Japan for “transparent efforts” in its decision.

But Japan may also be challenged under international law, and South Korea has already threatened legal action under international dispute settlement mechanisms.

There are at least two international treaties that regulate or ban the dumping of waste at sea: the United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972, generally referred to as the London Convention and Protocol.

UNCLOS stipulates that all parties shall cooperate in protecting the marine environment and under Article 210 explicitly requires “laws, regulations and measures shall ensure that pollution by dumping is not carried out without the permission of the competent authorities of States”.

That terminology will be debated, whether it be over the notion of “competent authorities” or indeed whether Japan’s plan amounts to “dumping”. UNCLOS defines the terminology of dumping as “any deliberate disposal at sea of wastes or other matter from vessels, aircraft, platforms or other man-made structures at sea”. Given that the proposal is to release water held on land, this may not be covered by the convention.

It may even be argued that dumping at sea is allowable under Article 8 of the London Convention and Protocol. The article stipulates that dumping is allowed during an emergency, with the provision that a party “shall consult any other country or countries that are likely to be affected”. That may explain the “transparency” of Japan providing two years notice of its intended action. Yet in this case, it is questionable whether running out of storage capacity can be considered an emergency, given the article also stipulates such action is permissible only “in emergencies posing an unacceptable threat to human health, safety, or the marine environment and admitting of no other feasible solution”. 

Regardless of how such disputes play out, however, it is also notable that neither UNCLOS nor the London Convention and Protocol have strong sanction mechanisms. Enforcement relies on either coastal states or flag states.

Neighbouring countries have reacted strongly, as have international environmental NGOs, including Greenpeace. Boycotts and bans on Japanese fisheries products have already been mooted. Unless another solution is found, Japan’s plan will continue to face a mounting tide of opposition.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan’s government bans shipments of black rockfish from Fukushima, due to highlevels of radioactive cesium

Fish radioactive report prompts Fukushima ban,

By WANG XU in Tokyo China Daily 2021-04-21  The Japanese government banned shipments of black rockfish from Fukushima on Monday, after a radioactive substance was found to be more than five times higher than acceptable levels in the fish caught off the prefecture.

The Fukushima prefectural government said 270 becquerels of radioactive cesium were detected per kilogram of the black rockfish, which had been caught at a depth of 37 meters near the city of Minamisoma, Fukushima, on April 1.

The amount of radioactive cesium is five times more than the limit set by a local fisheries cooperative of 50 becquerels per kg. It is also sharply higher than Japan’snational standard in general foods of 100 becquerels per kg.

In response, Japan’s national nuclear emergency response headquarters on Monday ordered a ban on the shipment of the fish caught off the waters of Fukushima.

Early in February, radioactive cesium 10 times above permitted levels in Japan were detected in the same area.

Scientific research showed the amount of cesium in foods and drinks depends upon the emission of radioactive cesium through the nuclear power plant, mainly through accidents. High levels of radioactive cesium in or near one’s body can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, coma, and even death.

Monday’s restrictions came a week after Japan’s government decided to release radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the sea despite fierce opposition from fishing crews at home and concern from the international community.

“The (Japanese) government’s decision is outrageous,” said Takeshi Komatsu, an oyster farmer in Miyagi prefecture, north of Tokyo. “I feel more helpless than angry when I think that all the efforts I’ve made to rebuild my life over the past decade have come to nothing.”

South Korea strongly criticized the decision to release the contaminated water, with its Foreign Ministry summoning the Japanese ambassador. President Moon Jae-in ordered officials to explore petitioning an international court over the issue.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Global Warming, Environmental Variability, and Infectious Disease — GarryRogers Nature Conservation

COVID-19 battle allowing spread of other infectious diseases in India.

Global Warming, Environmental Variability, and Infectious Disease — GarryRogers Nature Conservation

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gigawatt-scale Queensland wind complex gets development green light — RenewEconomy

Acciona’s plans to develop a wind energy precinct of more than 1000MW in south-west Queensland have been given the green light by the state government. The post Gigawatt-scale Queensland wind complex gets development green light appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Gigawatt-scale Queensland wind complex gets development green light — RenewEconomy

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Major energy players back AEMO’s plan to abandon gas-led recovery modelling — RenewEconomy

AGL, Origin and EnergyAustralia all back decision to ignore Morrison’s ‘gas led recovery’ in next Integrated System Plan. The post Major energy players back AEMO’s plan to abandon gas-led recovery modelling appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Major energy players back AEMO’s plan to abandon gas-led recovery modelling — RenewEconomy

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian airports are ideal hosts for large-scale solar installations, researchers say — RenewEconomy

Researchers measure the significant untapped potential of Australian airports as ideal hosts for large-scale solar. The post Australian airports are ideal hosts for large-scale solar installations, researchers say appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Australian airports are ideal hosts for large-scale solar installations, researchers say — RenewEconomy

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 21 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Why Renewable Electricity Powers Decarbonization – And Pays Off” • For decades, big power utilities piled on with claims that fluctuating solar and wind power could black out the grid. Back in 2005, even the US DOE said renewables were “too rare, too diffuse, too distant, too uncertain, and too ill-timed.” Now we […]

April 21 Energy News — geoharvey

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment