Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear waste shipment to come from UK to Lucas Heights

Australia to receive UK nuclear waste shipment amid bitter dispute over national storage facilityTwo-tonne load to be stored at Sydney’s Lucas Heights until national facility built in several years ShepherdThu 21 Oct 2021 Two tonnes of nuclear waste will be shipped from the United Kingdom to Australia next year as debate continues over a national storage facility.

The shipment of four 500kg canisters inside a forged steel container called a TN-81 is part of a waste swap deal with the UK.

The intermediate-level waste is to be stored temporarily at Sydney’s Lucas Heights facility then sent to the national radioactive waste management facility the federal government plans to build near Kimba in South Australia

However that project is the subject of a bitter dispute, and is years away. It will take several years for all the regulatory approvals to pass, and the government has declined to nominate when it will start construction.

In 1996 Australia sent spent fuel rods from its Hifar reactor – the predecessor to the existing Opal multi-purpose reactor – to the UK to be recycled into fuel for nuclear power plants. The “radiologically equivalent” waste will be sent to Australia under the 2022 waste repatriation project.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (Arpansa) reported this week that it is working with the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation “for the inspection of radioactive waste containers, set to return to Australia from the Sellafield Reprocessing Plant”.

The waste relates to the processing of spent fuel sent to the UK in earlier years from Australia’s former research reactor,” Arpansa said.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto) says it successfully repatriated radioactive waste from France to Australia in 2015 and that the TN-81s had been used successfully in 180 nuclear shipments around the world.

The federal government says Lucas Heights does not have the room or the approvals to store the nation’s nuclear waste, which is spread across more than 100 sites, so it will commission a purpose-built dump. It settled on a site at Napandee, near Kimba in South Australia.

That plan has been deeply divisive.

A ballot run by the Australian Electoral Commission found more than 60% of people in the Kimba council area supported the facility, which would store mostly medical waste that is currently in separate sites all over the country.

But the traditional owners, the Barngarla people, say many were excluded from that ballot because they lived outside the council area. In a separate ballot, Barngarla voters unanimously rejected the proposal.

Chair of The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, Jason Bilney, later welcomed amendments to the legislation that leave open the possibility of a judicial review.

Federal resources minister, Keith Pitt, has announced his intention to declare that Napandee will host the site. Before that declaration is made, however, there has been a consultation process for anyone who has a legal right or interest in the proposal.

Submissions to that consultation will close on Friday.

Pitt will consider any comments, and if he goes ahead and declares Napandee as the site, the federal government plans to acquire the land and begin preparations to build the facility – barring legal challenges.

Conservation Council of SA chief executive officer, Craig Wilkins, said the UK shipment highlighted the overall issues with creating a national facility. The facility will mostly store low-level waste but will temporarily store intermediate-level waste such as that coming from the UK.

Wilkins says Lucas Heights should store all waste until a permanent facility can be built.

“If this is genuinely our waste and we have a responsibility to look after it, then we need to do that properly,” he said.

“We need a genuine, long-term national approach to dealing with our waste, rather than this ad hoc temporary fix of shifting some of the waste across to SA to temporarily park it in above-ground sheds while they work out what to do with the waste long term. It makes sense to get the long-term solution first.”

International best practice is to bury the waste in a deep disposal site in the safest place in the country, he said. “That work hasn’t been done yet, and until it’s done the waste should stay … at Lucas Heights.”

The government says waste from more than 100 sites needs to be consolidated in a purpose-built facility and that neither Lucas Heights nor the CSIRO storage site at Woomera were intended for permanent storage.

The industry department argues Lucas Heights “is not large enough” because any free space is needed for an expansion of research activities, and that it is only licensed for temporary storage.

Debate over nuclear storage continues, as does debate over Australia’s planned acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines, and debate over whether Australia needs nuclear power.

October 21, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

COVID Restrictions Deny Southern Belarus Children Rare Escape From Chernobyl Radiation

COVID Restrictions Deny Southern Belarus Children Rare Escape From Chernobyl Radiation

October 20, 2021 Ricardo Marquina. In Belarus, just across the border from Ukraine, many children have been living with chronic radiation sickness since a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded in 1986. They have returned to school after being unable to escape contamination for yet another summer due to COVID-19 pandemic border restrictions. For VOA, Ricardo Marquina has more from the Gomel region of southern Belarus in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.

October 21, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s pro nuclear lobby revs up its propaganda, via News Corpse, but it’s short on facts

Some examples.

PM must go nuclear before Glasgow trip
   Herrald Sun Terry McCrann,

The PM must make an aggressive bi-partisan commitment to nuclear power in Australia before he goes to Glasgow promising an ‘utterly stupid’ net zero emissions target. 20 Oct 21,

Net-zero hour as Nats urged to take the nuclear option   Courier Mail 

A maverick Nationals senator has warned his colleagues they must be open to nuclear power if net-zero is to become a reality.

Really green environmentalists’ are saying we should go nuclear to save the planet Sky News host Chris Kenny says a lot of “really green environmentalists” are saying Australia should go nuclear to save the planet.

Mr Kenny said while “every man and his dog” has an opinion on net zero by 2050 it cannot be reached on current technology without the use of nuclear power.

“The only countries that can go close to net zero do so with a lot of nuclear power,” he said.

……….” I can’t understand why we aren’t going for nuclear power , if you really want zero emissions technology, and at least we know that nuclear works. “ Anrew Bolt on Sky News 21 Oct 21

Australia is ‘held back’ by Labor Party on nuclear

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says Australia is being “held back by Anthony Albanese” on establishing nuclear power in the country.

“If the Labor Party, in a bipartisan way, came forward as proper statesmen and women, and said they support nuclear power, then we would have a nuclear industry here,” Mr Joyce told Sky News host Andrew Bolt.

“And that would be a great outcome for our nation.

“But we know the political tactics of the Labor left led by Anthony Albanese, will just use it as a mechanism to cut and dice us on fear tactics.”

October 21, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Despite the new frenzy for nuclear power – the reality is that it still has major problems

from Yahoo News, 20 Oct 21, ”…….Practical concerns also temper enthusiasm for a nuclear future. The next generation of reactors, heralded as a game changer by supporters, still haven’t been proven in the real world. Even if those technologies are as revolutionary as advertised, skeptics say it could take decades before they make a real difference in the global energy grid — too long if the worst outcomes of climate change are to be avoided.

Renewable energy technologies can be enough on their own“The drawbacks to nuclear are compounded by the burgeoning success of renewables — both solar and wind are getting cheaper and more efficient, year after year. There is also a growing realisation that a combination of renewables, smart storage, energy efficiency and more flexible grids can now be delivered at scale and at speed — anywhere in the world.” — Jonathon Porritt, Guardian

The world doesn’t have time to wait for next-gen nuclear“When it comes to averting the imminent effects of climate change, even the cutting edge of nuclear technology will prove to be too little, too late. Put simply, given the economic trends in existing plants and those under construction, nuclear power cannot positively impact climate change in the next ten years or more.” — Allison Macfarlane, Foreign Affairs

A major ramp-up in nuclear technologies isn’t economically feasible“While nuclear power may have once been cheaper than wind or solar, the economics have since changed dramatically. Nuclear power plants are very expensive to build and the economics of nuclear power are getting steadily worse. By contrast, renewables continue to come down in price.” — Ian Lowe, Conversation

There’s no way to guarantee that nuclear plants will be safe“People around the world have witnessed the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents. It is more than enough to believe that a safe nuclear power plant is nothing but a myth.” — Jang Daul, Korea TimesMore nuclear power could lead to more nuclear weapons“Some nations — India and Pakistan, and in all probability Israel — became nuclear powers after originally seeking nuclear technology for research or to develop nuclear power. … This is important: The technology used to turn on lights or charge mobile phones shouldn’t need to involve national or international defence apparatus.” — Editorial, Nature

Nuclear waste is still a major problem“Nuclear waste lasts for hundreds of thousands of years before they are half-decayed. Our United States government — perhaps the longest continuous government in the world — is only 232 years old. Who will be around to manage uranium wastes?” — David Ross, Courier-Journal

October 21, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Director General of the IAEA all anxious about Autralia’s planned nuclear submarines

We feel the heat’: Malaysia cool on Australian submarines, SMH,  By Chris Barrett, October 21, 2021
   Singapore: Australia’s attempts to ease south-east Asian anxiety about its submarine ambitions continue to fall short, with Malaysia deeply concerned despite acknowledging the difference between nuclear power and nuclear arms. 

The Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam have welcomed the AUKUS pact between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as Australia’s plans to enhance its military capability with varying degrees of enthusiasm. But Indonesia and Malaysia are fearful its acquisition of nuclear-propelled submarines will ramp up tension and trigger an arms build-up in the region.

It is a view not disputed by Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who on Wednesday said the prospect of other countries seeking to follow Australia and develop their own nuclear-powered submarines “cannot be excluded”.

The Morrison government has sought to address consternation in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur by sending Vice Admiral David Johnston, the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, to the region for talks but two of Australia’s most important neighbours are unconvinced.

……….. . Saifuddin said nuclear power was “not something that will make Malaysians and I believe many ASEAN people comfortable”……… He said some ASEAN member nations would raise the issue with Australia, a dialogue partner of the regional bloc, when leaders convened for a three-day virtual summit next week.“During the next ASEAN [leaders meeting] there is the ASEAN-Australia summit. I believe some member states want to raise the issue with Australia during the summit,” he said.

“I don’t think it is useful to evaluate whether we are satisfied with [Australia’s] explanation. The issue is still there.“

…. He said Malaysia didn’t want to have to choose sides in the geopolitical rivalry between the US and China.

……. Grossi, the head of the IAEA, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, said Australia’s pursuit of a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as a non-nuclear armed nation needed to be closely monitored.

October 21, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

BHP’s legal privileges overOlympic Dam copper-uranium mine have had devastating consequences for traditional Aboriginal owners

David Noonan  Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch, 20 Oct 21

 · “A Way Forward” Juukan Caves Inquiry Final Report…/Nort…/CavesatJuukanGorge/Report Inquiry Report conveys a striking critique of BHP legal privileges over Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine, see Legislative exemptions from cultural heritage protections p.147-148:

“Acts such as these have had devastating consequences for traditional owners as rights to protect cultural heritage are intentionally disrupted and prevented … these Acts remain in force and even when they are repealed their associated histories of injustices will remain … States and territories as well as companies involved in such acts should seek to fast-track transitions and recompense traditional owners for injustices that have occurred.”

October 21, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

IAEA chief: Aukus could set precedent for pursuit of nuclear submarines

Guardian, Julian Borger 20 Oct 21, Special taskforce convened by IAEA to look into Aukus deal as Iran hints at fresh pursuit of its 2018 naval nuclear propulsion program

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog has said other states could follow Australia’s example and seek to build nuclear-powered submarines, raising serious proliferation and legal concerns.

Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said during a visit to Washington that he had set up a special team to look into the nuclear safeguards and legal implications of the Aukus partnership announced last month, in which the US and UK will help Australia build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

If the plan is carried through, it would be the first time a non-nuclear weapons state has acquired nuclear-powered submarines. It reflects a grey area in the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows fissile material to be removed from IAEA safeguards for such purposes.

The procedures by which the agency would ensure that the fuel, removed from agency oversight, is not diverted to making nuclear weapons have yet to be worked out………..

Grossi said it “cannot be excluded” that other countries would use the Aukus precedent to pursue their own nuclear submarine plans.

Canada and South Korea have both contemplated building nuclear-powered submarines, which can stay underwater longer and are quieter than their conventional counterparts. Brazil too has an ongoing nuclear submarine project………..

October 21, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Morrison refuses to release net zero modelling, as Australia outed for fudging climate report — RenewEconomy

Leaked documents show Australia trying to water down influential UN-backed climate report, as Morrison government refuses to release its net zero modelling. The post Morrison refuses to release net zero modelling, as Australia outed for fudging climate report appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Morrison refuses to release net zero modelling, as Australia outed for fudging climate report — RenewEconomy

October 21, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sydney Trains goes zero emissions, with renewable certificate deal — RenewEconomy

Sydney Trains transitions its network to zero net emissions, after inking a deal with Red Energy to buy renewable energy certificates. The post Sydney Trains goes zero emissions, with renewable certificate deal appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Sydney Trains goes zero emissions, with renewable certificate deal — RenewEconomy

October 21, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia ranked worst amongst international peers for climate action, fossil fuel use — RenewEconomy

Australia ranked last among developed countries for climate action, due to its poor track record on emissions and its ongoing dependence on fossil fuels. The post Australia ranked worst amongst international peers for climate action, fossil fuel use appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Australia ranked worst amongst international peers for climate action, fossil fuel use — RenewEconomy

October 21, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The folly of gas: Most new gas generators not viable, says Carbon Tracker — RenewEconomy

Australia is hitching its future to a “gas-led recovery”, but new report says gas plants are not viable because renewables and storage are cheaper, and cleaner. The post The folly of gas: Most new gas generators not viable, says Carbon Tracker appeared first on RenewEconomy.

The folly of gas: Most new gas generators not viable, says Carbon Tracker — RenewEconomy

October 21, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

October 20 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion:  ¶ “Biden’s Climate Targets Are Possible Without Clean Energy Program, But Will Need Tax Credits And Regulations” • Even if Democrats’ cornerstone climate policy is stripped out of their budget bill, an independent analysis estimates President Joe Biden can still meet his climate goals. But it would take decisive action and regulations. [CNN] Offshore […]

October 20 Energy News — geoharvey

October 21, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UK’s Net Zero Strategy lacks concrete plans for reducing emissions and promoting renewables

 In reaction to the government’s Net Zero Strategy, Rebecca Newsom, Greenpeace UK’s head of politics, said “This document is more like a pick and mix than the substantial meal that we need to reach net zero. Extra cash for tree planting and progress on electric vehicles doesn’t make up for the lack of concrete plans to deliver renewables at scale, extra investment in public transport, or a firm commitment to end new oil and gas licences.

There are only half-hearted policies and funding commitments to decarbonise our draughty homes at the speed necessary, and it fundamentally fails to grapple with the need to reduce our meat and dairy consumption to stop global deforestation. With just eight years left to halve global emissions, the government can’t just keep dining out on its ‘ambitious targets’. Until the policy and funding gaps are closed, Boris Johnson’s plea to other countries to deliver on their promises at the global climate conference next month will be easy to ignore.”

 Greenpeace 19th Oct 2021

October 21, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment