Australian news, and some related international items

Assange: Albanese must act where the Coalition failed

By John Jiggens,16446 9 June 2022, The Morrison Government failed Julian Assange. Supporters of the persecuted publisher are looking to Anthony Albanese to make good on his statement that “enough is enough”, writes Dr John Jiggens.

AFTER 20 APRIL, when a UK court formally approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, mainstream media presented a narrative that claimed UK Home Secretary Priti Patel would have until 31 May to rubber-stamp Assange’s extradition.

That date has now come and gone and we still await Patel’s decision.

But is this all there is to it?

The victory of Anthony Albanese’s Labor Party in the Australian Federal Election has brought new hope to supporters of the Australian publisher.

Last year, our new Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus issued a statement saying that Labor wanted the Assange matter brought to an end. His leader, our new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, said he couldn’t see any purpose in keeping Assange in gaol, stating “enough is enough”.

In the first week of the Albanese Government, the ABC reported:

‘Mr Albanese is also a signatory to the Bring Julian Assange Home Campaign petition.’

However, the ABC gave no source for this claim. (The Bring Julian Assange Home Campaign petition –‘Free Julian Assange, before it’s too late. Sign to STOP the USA Extradition’  – is an online petition that has now garnered over 715,000 signatures.)

Phillip Adams – not the popular ABC Late Night Live host – who originated the online petition, this week published an update stating firstly that he was not the source of the ABC’s information, but then added, rather coyly, that the ABC report gave him ‘great confidence’ that the campaign had ‘turned a corner’ and had brought a smile to his face.

That smile no doubt broadened when PM Anthony Albanese replied to a question fromThe Guardian, which asked whether it was now his position that the U.S. should be encouraged to drop the charges against Assange and whether he had made any such representations to the U.S. Government.

Albanese replied that it was his position that “not all foreign affairs is best done with the loudhailer”.

So, there is still no confirmation that Anthony Albanese signed the online petition. Although, signing a petition which would ultimately go to himself (as the PM) seems an odd way for  Albanese to indicate his support for Assange when he could have joined the Bring Julian Assange Home Campaign parliamentary group. That certainly isn’t a loudhailer approach.

The battle to stop the extradition of Julian Assange hangs, intriguingly, in the balance.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Assange is still in jail – what can the new government do? by Greg Barns | Jun 7, 2022 

There are signs that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese seems more interested in dealing with the plight of Julian Assange than was the Morrison government. UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has to decide whether or not to sign off on Assange’s extradition to the US by the middle of this month. Albanese must act now, writes Greg Barns.

Julian Assange is an Australian citizen facing over 170 years in a US prison for revealing the truth about US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. His case is important for a number of reasons, including the inhumanity of keeping him locked up in the notorious Belmarsh prison in the UK as his mental and physical health declines. Assange’s case is an attack on freedom of speech. It also represents a dangerous development for citizens, journalists and publishers around the world because the United States is using its domestic laws to snare an individual who has no connection to the jurisdiction. This is the sort of law which Australia has condemned in the context of Beijing imposed laws on Hong Kong.

Tonight, the ABC broadcasts a documentary Ithaka, a film by Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton which follows their father John Shipton across the world as he campaigns for his son. The broadcast is a milestone in the Australian campaign to free Assange from the shackles that the US and UK have bound him since 2012, when he sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, fearing, rightly, that he would extradited to the US.

Anthony Albanese is taking an interest in this case, in contrast to Scott Morrison’s government that showed little interest in pushing Washington on behalf of an Australian citizen facing cruel and unusual punishment in the US It was manifested in an answer he gave last week in a media conference and was  confirmed by his Foreign Minister Penny Wong in an interview on the ABC last Friday.

Asked whether he would intervene with the US to save Assange, Albanese replied that his “position is that not all foreign affairs is best done with the loudhailer.” In other words, as one foreign affairs expert told this writer, Albanese is rightly respecting the US-Australia relationship by raising the Assange issue in private with the White House.

Wong’s comments last week should also be seen as a positive sign that, at last, some action will be taken to stand up for freedom of speech by ending the Assange case. Speaking on Radio National last Friday, Wong said:

The Prime Minister has expressed that it’s hard to see what is served by keeping Mr Assange incarcerated and expressed a view that it’s time for the case to be brought to an end.

As former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr has written, it is perfectly legitimate for Australia to ask the US to withdraw its case against Assange. Carr has also pointed to the dangerous precedent set by the case – the extraterritorial reach of the US to seize anyone anywhere in the world who exposes something which embarrasses Washington. On September 8, 2020 Carr told The Sydney Morning Herald:

If America can get away with this — that is digging up an Australian in London and putting him on trial for breaching their laws — why can’t another government do the same thing? For example, an Australian campaigning for human rights in Myanmar, that Australian in theory could be sought by the government of Myanmar and brought back to Myanmar from London and put on trial there for breach of their national security laws.

Ironically the Morrison government opposed the security law that China imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 in part because it includes a provision which catches foreign citizens who criticise Beijing’s rule in Hong Kong.

The case of Assange cannot be allowed to continue. It represents an affront to fundamental democratic values and it shows Washington to be no better than authoritarian regimes that hunt down critics the world over. The early signs are the Albanese government is uncomfortable about the case, which is a welcome development, but there is little time to do so.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Defence faces budget blowout with Aukus nuclear submarines to cost more than scrapped French project

New analysis says ‘megaprojects’ often end up costing more than projected and predicts inflation will impact on defence budgets,  Daniel Hurst Foreign affairs and defence correspondent Wed 8 Jun 2022

The Albanese government faces the prospect of a blowout in defence spending, with analysts warning that the nuclear-powered submarines will cost “significantly more” than the cancelled $90bn French project.

A new report has also questioned whether the Australian defence force would be able to meet a target to increase the number of uniformed personnel by 20,000 over the next 20 years, given that it is averaging net annual growth of only 300.

Australia’s total defence funding stood at $48.6bn this financial year, or 2.11% of GDP.

That figure – which included the Department of Defence and the Australian Signals Directorate – worked out to be $133,191,781 a day, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s annual report on the defence budget.

The report’s author, senior analyst Dr Marcus Hellyer, said there was “no doubt that the ADF was getting better” but he also warned of risks inherent in an acquisition program built around “megaprojects”.

“Such projects take years or decades to design and deliver, while spending huge sums for little benefit in the short term,” Hellyer wrote.

“When they encounter problems, those problems are big.”

The report noted that the now-abandoned French Attack-class submarine program had “cost over $4bn and delivered nothing”, while the Hunter frigate program continued to experience delays “and won’t get a vessel into service for over a decade”.

It said even though the nuclear-powered submarine program envisaged under the Aukus deal had “the potential to deliver a huge step-up in undersea warfare capability”, it was “the mother of all megaprojects” with a risk profile to match.

Continue reading

June 9, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Chasing unicorns’: NSW Liberal minister rejects federal opposition push for nuclear power. 

Matt Kean’s comments come after Peter Dutton indicated support for nuclear energy could be part of future Coalition policy , Guardian,  Michael McGowan, @mmcgowan, Wed 8 Jun 2022

The new leader of the opposition, Peter Dutton, has indicated that support for nuclear energy could be a part of the Coalition’s future policy platform, while former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has backed calls to overturn the moratorium.

“I don’t think we should rule things out simply because it’s unfashionable to talk about them,” Dutton said on Monday.

But amid a reduction in new nuclear projects globally, Kean poured cold water on the push by his Coalition colleagues in Canberra on Wednesday, saying pursuing nuclear energy generation in Australia was currently a “fantasy”……

Kean referred to the UK government’s underwriting of the construction of the Hinkley Point C station to the tune of about $300 a megawatt-hour, which he said was “three times more expensive than the current electricity bills at the height that we’re paying right now”.

He said the cost and timeline of new nuclear energy meant it was not realistic to consider it as an option.

  • “Not only that, they started the build of [Hinkley Point C station] in around 2008,” he said. “It’s now 2022 and it still hasn’t been turned on, so we can’t wait 20 years to chase some fantasy, which is large-scale nuclear.

“What we need to do is focus on things that are going to lower household bills today and set us up for more prosperity in the future.”…………..

 many small nuclear reactor proposals overseas have been beset by problems , and Kean said that two of the firms pushing the use of the technology – Rolls-Royce and US firm NuScale – wouldn’t have prototypes ready for construction until the next decade.

“So people talking about nuclear as an asset to our energy challenges right now are literally chasing unicorns,” Kean said.

…………… right now, we are focusing on the things that we know work [and] that we know are going to drive down household bills and that’s why we’ve got our energy roadmap here in NSW to roll out solar, wind [and] pumped hydro storage with transmission lines. Because we know that that’s the best way to lower household bills to keep the lights on and to deliver clean, reliable electricity.”

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“They are clearly afraid of scrutiny”: Dispute deepens over carbon offset integrity — RenewEconomy

Former head of Australia’s carbon offset watchdog defends claims most offsets lack integrity, and says regulators are “clearly afraid of scrutiny”. The post “They are clearly afraid of scrutiny”: Dispute deepens over carbon offset integrity appeared first on RenewEconomy.

“They are clearly afraid of scrutiny”: Dispute deepens over carbon offset integrity — RenewEconomy

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar Insiders Podcast: The solar industry won’t waste this energy crisis — RenewEconomy

The mood in the solar industry has lifted as energy price hikes boost interest in rooftop PV and battery storage. The post Solar Insiders Podcast: The solar industry won’t waste this energy crisis appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Solar Insiders Podcast: The solar industry won’t waste this energy crisis — RenewEconomy

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NSW targets offshore wind projects as it seeks proposals for Illawarra renewable zone — RenewEconomy

NSW is targeting offshore wind projects to help power some of the state’s biggest energy users as it opens up registrations for Illawarra renewable zone. The post NSW targets offshore wind projects as it seeks proposals for Illawarra renewable zone appeared first on RenewEconomy.

NSW targets offshore wind projects as it seeks proposals for Illawarra renewable zone — RenewEconomy

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Ship’s crew and its cartogropher:” AEMO maps out priorities for 100 pct renewable grid — RenewEconomy

AEMO playing the role of “ship’s crew and its cartographer” for the grid as it maps out route to 100 per cent renewables in just a few years. The post “Ship’s crew and its cartogropher:” AEMO maps out priorities for 100 pct renewable grid appeared first on RenewEconomy.

“Ship’s crew and its cartogropher:” AEMO maps out priorities for 100 pct renewable grid — RenewEconomy

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chris Bowen needs flexibility to avoid capacity market trap set by fossil fuel lobby — RenewEconomy

Bowen says ESB to release capacity market proposals within days. He needs to take care it is not a prop for fossil fuels, and is truly “flexible”. The post Chris Bowen needs flexibility to avoid capacity market trap set by fossil fuel lobby appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Chris Bowen needs flexibility to avoid capacity market trap set by fossil fuel lobby — RenewEconomy

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 8 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Climate Change, Danger Seasons And The Need For Global Action” • Deadly heatwaves, extreme drought, food and water shortages, catastrophic flooding, rapidly intensifying tropical storms, raging wildfires – around the world, climate change is exacerbating extreme conditions and their harsh toll on people and ecosystems. [CleanTechnica] Fire in New Mexico (Kari Greer, USFS […]

June 8 Energy News — geoharvey

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ukrainian victory not in the cards – former top US official The US and its allies should persuade Ukraine to negotiate with Russia, Hugh De Santis says . Ukraine won’t be able to win against Russia, and the US must persuade Kiev to negotiate with Moscow to end the conflict, Hugh De Santis, who oversaw NATO and arms control policy planning in the Reagan administration, has insisted.

Defeating the Russian forces on the battlefield and restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity, including taking back Crimea, “would be condign punishment for Russia’s unprovoked invasion,” De Santis wrote in his opinion piece for The National Interest magazine on Saturday.

“But would it be worth the cost of more carnage in Ukraine, the possibility of a wider war in which chemical or tactical nuclear weapons might be used, further disruption of the world economy, and renewed European polarization?” he asked.

According to the former State Department official, the answer to that question is negative.

“A Ukrainian military victory is not in the cards, and a negotiated outcome is the only realistic goal,” he insisted.

Because of this, “the US and its allies must persuade Kiev to bring this war to an end, including by imposing limits on further military aid as leverage,” De Santis suggested.

Washington has been actively backing Kiev during the conflict, supplying it with weapons, funds and intelligence. In May, US President Joe Biden approved a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky and “his advocates in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states” should come to terms with the fact that Ukraine will become a neutral state and that it would have to hand over the Donbass and Crimea to Russia for the peace talks to be successful, he pointed out.

Current high-ranking US and EU officials have also recently identified negotiations as the preferred outcome of the conflict as Russian forces continue their steady advance in the Donbass.

Last week, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said that “a negotiated outcome is a logical choice, but both sides have to come to that conclusion on their own.”

A few days before that, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged the bloc to increase deliveries of weapons to Ukraine and apply even more sanctions against Russia, but explained that it should be done to help Kiev strengthen its position in future peace talks with Moscow. Just over a month ago, Borrell was insisting that “this war must be won on the battlefield” by Ukraine.

Russia attacked its neighboring state in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The War Situation Has Developed Not Necessarily to Ukraine’s or the West’s Advantage But They Plan to Negotiate When They’ve Turned Things Around a Bit

 naked capitalism,  by Yves Smith,

ust because Russia has been slow and methodical about grinding up Ukraine’s army and materiel in Donbass does not mean that there’s reason to think Ukraine can turn its losses around with generous applications of Western funding, weapons, and hopium. And on the economic war front, even though Russia has taken a hit, it seems to be making surprisingly solid progress in adjusting, while conditions in the US and Europe look to be worsening, and at an accelerating rate.

Admittedly, the press, presumably reflecting the readings of military experts, has greatly reduced coverage of the conflict now that even generous applications of porcine maquillage can no longer hide that things are going from bad to worse for Ukraine. A very long established contact forwarded this message from a former senior US military official:

Just in from an Army Colonel in the building:
“Spoke to someone today who said that the Ukie basic training is 10 days and then off to the front. 65% casualty rates. At least double or more the losses of the Russians but you don’t hear anything about it.”

Recall that Scott Ritter, early on in his many detailed analysis, said that if one side was consistently inflicting casualties at a higher rate than the other, even at a ratio of say 1:1.2, the side with the lower losses would prevail.

Recall also that Ukraine has not made a single significant offensive since the war began. The most it has been able to achieve are small tactical gains that don’t amount to anything over time.

……………………………….. Truth be told, Western officials and the media are increasingly acknowledging that Ukraine can’t win this war, and therefore the two sides need to negotiate a peace. But to invoke a saying I heard in Venezuela, “They have changed their minds, but they have not changed their hearts.” The US and NATO have consumed so much Ukraine Kool-Aide that they are light-year away from what a realistic settlement would have to include. And that’s because they still can’t admit to themselves that Russia is wining, and at this rate, will have taken Odessa before Zelensky will even be willing to cede Donbass. For instance, look at this key statement from Joe Biden’s New York Times op-ed earlier this week:

We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table

Why should Ukraine keep fighting and losing more men and suffering more damage? Why not sue for peace now? Biden’s unstated assumption is that if the US pumps enough air into the leaking Ukraine balloon, it will be in a better position than it is now. That can come about only by taking territory back or by inflicting huge losses on the Russian side. In what universe is that a likely outcome?

There are also complicating factors on the Russian side. One is that the Russian population regards Putin as too dovish and would much rather have the Ukraine matter be as settled as it can be via this war. That argues for taking more territory, certainly the entire Black Sea coast, probably Kharkiv and perhaps even securing the Dneiper save perhaps hard by Kiev.

A second matter is that many of the “liberated” or expecting to be liberated territories seem to want to join Russia, and not be independent friendlies or part of a Novorossiya (this may be realism as well as romanticism; they are too small to go it alone). One reason for this expectation is that at least some members of the Donbass militias are continuing to fight for the Russian cause in neighboring oblasts, here Kherson. 

Recall that Putin was not happy when the two breakaway republics declared independence in 2014, and he had to push them in the Minsk Accord negotiations to accept staying in Ukraine,……………………………………………..

 the Guardian get credit for admitting that Russia is winning the economic war – and Putin is no closer to withdrawing troops. However, economic editor Larry Elliott’s contains a lot of hand wringing and falsehoods, like the claim that Putin “weaponized” food. But notice that his closing section calls only for “a deal” not a rollback of sanctions. And it’s the sanctions that are hurting the collective West:

If proof were needed that sanctions are not working, then President Joe Biden’s decision to supply Ukraine with advanced rocket systems provides it. The hope is that modern military technology from the US will achieve what energy bans and the seizure of Russian assets have so far failed to do: force Putin to withdraw his troops.

Complete defeat for Putin on the battlefield is one way the war could end, although as things stand that doesn’t appear all that likely. There are other possible outcomes. One is that the economic blockade eventually works, with ever-tougher sanctions forcing Russia to back down. Another is a negotiated settlement.

Putin is not going to surrender unconditionally, and the potential for severe collateral damage from the economic war is obvious: falling living standards in developed countries; famine, food riots and a debt crisis in the developing world.

The atrocities committed by Russian troops mean compromising with the Kremlin is currently hard to swallow, but economic reality suggests only one thing: sooner or later a deal will be struck.

Perhaps Elliott didn’t want to stick his neck out too far by saying ending at least some of the sanctions would be necessary. But the failure to call for that means that politicians with no skin in the game like Ursuala von der Leyen will continue trying to escalate. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t working. These officials have convinced themselves that eyepoking the evil Putin will bring down Russia. They need to heed the oracle’s warning to to Croesus: that if he attacked the Persians, he would destroy a great empire. That empire was his own.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Putting People First in Low-Dose Radiation Research

Putting People First in Low-Dose Radiation Research, Bemnet Alemayehu  Natural Resources Defense Council. 7 June 22.It is urgent and feasible to improve our understanding of low-dose and low-dose-rate ionizing radiation health effects according to a new report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS). At the request of the U.S. Congress, the NAS formed a committee of experts to conduct the study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The report’s primary goal was to recommend a research program to increase the certainty of how exposure to low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation affects human health.  

NRDC agrees that this is the right time to reconsider low-dose interdisciplinary radiation research in the United States and explore opportunities that advances in radiation health physics and information technology are providing. A large fraction of the U.S. population is exposed to low-dose, and low-dose-rate radiation and this number is increasing. Low-dose radiation research is most relevant to impacted communities due to disproportionate level of radiation exposure these communities have experienced compared to the general U.S. population due to activities carried out as part of the U.S. nuclear weapons program. Going forward, the study should give an opportunity for stakeholders and impacted communities to have deep and meaningful engagement at all stages of the research program by identifying priorities of research that concern them. The study should also prioritize trust building and make use of local community expertise.

How are we exposed to low-dose radiation?

People are exposed to ionizing radiation from a variety of sources. Most of this exposure comes from background radiation sources and from medical procedures.

Ionizing radiation is radiation that carries with it enough energy to remove an electron from an atom. This process can initiate a chain of events leading to health problems. When considering the health effects of radiation, understanding the amount of radiation dose absorbed by a person or an organ is critical.

Low-dose and low-dose-rate (low-dose accumulated over several years) are defined to mean a dose below 100 milligray and 5 milligray per hour, respectively. Gray is a unit used to measure the amount of radiation absorbed by an object or person, reflecting the amount of energy that radioactive sources deposit in materials through which they pass. Low-dose radiation exposure includes exposure to natural radiation, medical applications, and occupational exposures. According to the NAS report, low doses of radiation delivered over long periods do not cause prompt tissue or organ damage but may cause cellular damage that increases an individual’s long-term risk of cancer and hereditary disorders in a stochastic (or probabilistic) fashion.

The NAS report identified the following seven low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation exposure sources to be relevant for the study:

  • exposure from natural radiation sources
  • exposure to patients from medical applications
  • occupational exposures
  • exposure of workers that results from nuclear power routine operations and accidents
  • exposure from nuclear or radiological incidents
  • exposures from the nuclear weapons program, and
  • exposure from nuclear waste.

Key recommendations from the report

Research agenda

Ionizing radiation occurs in a wide range of settings and the number of exposed individuals is increasing. However, the relationship between exposure to radiation and cancer risk at the very low doses is not well established. Currently, there is also no dedicated low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation research program or coordinated research strategy in the United States.

The report recommended research programs that leverage advances in modern science to obtain direct information on low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation health effects. These are:

  • advances in epidemiological study design and analysis
  • advances in radiobiological research
  • advances in biotechnology and research infrastructure

For the research to achieve its goals, integration and interaction between these research programs is critical.

Program funding

The report found that a significant investment over a sustained period spanning several decades is necessary to accomplish the research goals. The report estimated that $100 million annually is needed during the first 10 to 15 years with periodic assessments. The report cautioned that inadequate funding for the program would lead to the possible inadequate protection of patients, workers, and members of the public from the adverse effects of radiation.

Leadership for low-dose research in the United States

The report proposed joint Department of Energy and National Institute of Health leadership for low-dose radiation research that involves division of tasks based on capabilities. The report also recommended that the Department of Energy take strong and transparent steps to mitigate the issues of distrust toward research that it manages.

Engagement with impacted communities

Success of the low-dose radiation program would depend not only on its scientific integrity but also on its ability to meaningfully engage and communicate with the stakeholders, which includes impacted communities.

Impacted communities, according to the report, include indigenous communities; atomic veterans; nuclear workers; uranium miners, transporters, and their families; and individuals or communities impacted by radioactive contamination or nuclear fallout due to nuclear weapons testing, offsite radiation releases from nuclear weapons production sites, and nuclear waste cleanup activities. 

Impacted communities have strongly objected to the Department of Energy’s management of the low-dose radiation program due to the Department’s responsibility for management and cleanup of nuclear sites conflicting with its role as a manager of studies on low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation health effects.

For the success of the low-dose radiation program, the program needs to:

  • develop a transparent process for stakeholder identification, engagement, and communication
  • include members of the impacted communities in the independent advisory committee so that they may participate in various aspects of research planning and implementation, and
  • set up additional advisory subcommittees with substantial stakeholder participation to advise on specific projects that involve human populations exposed to low-dose radiation.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ukraine bars nuclear regulator from visiting Russian-occupied power plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency wants to ensure that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is safe. Politico, BY LOUISE GUILLOT, June 7, 2022

Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear power plant operator, on Monday denounced a request by the global nuclear watchdog to visit the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The Ukrainian operator accused Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, of “lying” and warned that the visit was a way of legitimizing Russia’s occupation of Europe’s largest nuclear plant — which is operated by Ukrainian staff but has been under the control of Russian troops since March.

“The Ukrainian side did not invite Grossi to visit ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant] and had previously denied him such a visit, emphasizing that a visit to the power plant will be possible only when our country regains control over it,” Energoatom said in a Telegram post.

Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev said in March that the Russian state-owned nuclear operator had no intention of taking operational control of Zaporizhzhia.

Grossi said Monday that he was “actively working” on sending an expert mission to the plant “sooner or later but better sooner.” Grossi has been working on setting up such a trip for months, but has so far been unsuccessful in getting Ukraine and Russia to agree on the details.

Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, said last month that the IAEA was in touch with both Russian and Ukrainian authorities about a possible visit, Russian state-controlled press agency Interfax reported………………………..

Grossi also said Monday that Ukraine told his agency it has “lost control over” nuclear material at Zaporizhzhia and that data communication on nuclear safeguards with the plant has broken down. Nuclear safeguards mechanisms are essential to ensure that nuclear facilities are not misused and nuclear material not diverted from peaceful uses.

“The urgent need for us to be there is clear to all,” he said. “Logistics and other such considerations must not prevent it. We must find a solution to the hurdles preventing progress at Zaporizhzhia NPP.”………………

The IAEA declined to comment on Energoatom’s allegations.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Indigenous groups challenge New Brunswick’s costly radioactive waste legacy

Difficulty, cost of managing radioactive waste underlined by hearings, by Kim Reeder and Susan O’DonnellJune 8, 2022

The recent re-licencing hearing for New Brunswick’s Point Lepreau nuclear reactor highlighted the difficulty and cost of managing the province’s long-lived legacy of radioactive waste.

Most of the radioactive materials generated by the Lepreau nuclear facility were never found in nature before the discovery of nuclear fission 83 years ago.

The Point Lepreau facility, however, has produced – and will continue to produce – thousands of tons of these toxic radioactive materials in the form of high, intermediate and low-level radioactive waste which must be kept isolated from all living things for a period of time that dwarfs the span of recorded human history.

When the Point Lepreau reactor was first built, the materials used in the core area – the metal, the concrete, even the heavy water that fills the vessel – were ordinary, non-radioactive materials. However, these items have all been transformed into extremely radioactive material during the normal operation of the reactor.

In fact, because these materials are so toxic, once the plant is shut down, NB Power has a plan to let the facility sit for approximately three decades before dismantling it, a strategy referred to as ‘deferred decommissioning’. During this time, referred to as the ‘dormancy’ period, the radioactivity will decrease significantly. However, the radioactivity will still be sufficiently high as to require handling by robotic equipment and careful packaging so as not to deliver a lethal dose of radiation to an unshielded worker or the environment.

The second consideration is that currently, no waste disposal site exists for the Point Lepreau facility itself, which will become thousands of tons of radioactive rubble, classified as intermediate and low-level waste. By deferring decommissioning, NB Power avoids the need to store and monitor the wastes until a disposal facility becomes available. As well, they avoid potential double-handling of wastes to meet unknown future disposal facility requirements.

NB Media Co-op’s Harrison Dressler described in a previous article that during the re-licencing hearing for Point Lepreau, a main focus of the Peskotomuhkati Nation’s intervention reflected their concerns about the lack of adequate planning for the toxic decommissioning waste. The Nation is and always has been opposed to producing and storing radioactive waste on its territory, which includes Point Lepreau.

The Nation does not want the regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), to ‘approve’ NB Power’s inadequate plan and financial guarantee for decommissioning Point Lepreau.

The Nation’s expert on the topic, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility president Gordon Edwards, compared NB Power’s financial guarantee with an OECD study of dozens of reactors that have already been dismantled. In his report, Edwards notes that NB Power’s financial guarantee is less than 40 percent of what is needed according to the OECD study. Indeed, the total amount NB Power plans to set aside is more than a billion dollars less than what the OECD estimates is likely required.

NB Power’s current decommissioning plan assumes much of the decommissioning waste will be sent off-site to a licensed facility for permanent disposal. Currently no such facilities exist, which is recognized as an industry challenge.

Edwards also found that NB Power has so far made no effort to locate a repository to receive the decommissioning waste, which is solely the responsibility of NB Power and the provincial government. Without a storage site, and without adequate funding, where will it all go?

During the re-licencing hearings in May, both the CNSC and NB Power were questioned by the regulator about the unrealistic nature of their plan, considering the plan assumes there will be a permanent home for this waste – and that no plans are being made for such a facility.

CNSC staff explained that the current plan is all that is required under Canadian law, and NB Power said that because of the deferred decommissioning strategy, they have a long time to figure out a solution to the problem. Experience shows, however, that NB Power and the New Brunswick government are already late in starting the effort, if they indeed do intend to have a site approved in the 2050s. Lepreau is scheduled to be shut down around 2040.

At the CNSC hearing, the Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc., and Kopit Lodge – representing Elsipogtog First Nation – also raised similar concerns about radioactive waste. The Wolastoq Nations did not participate in the hearing. However, in March 2021, the traditional Wolastoq Grand Council issued a declaration against producing more radioactive waste at Point Lepreau. No Indigenous community in Canada – or elsewhere – has so far declared itself in favour of storing radioactive waste on its traditional territory.

Without a dramatic increase in the financial guarantee that NB Power must accumulate while the reactor is still earning money by selling electricity, and without a concerted effort to develop a concrete long-term strategy for New Brunswick’s radioactive waste legacy, both the Peskotomuhkati Nation and the New Brunswick population will be left with a permanent dump for radioactive waste right on the shore of North America’s Natural Wonder: the Bay of Fundy.

Kim Reeder, a senior policy analyst with the RAVEN project at the University of New Brunswick, coordinated the CNSC intervention for the Passamaquoddy Recognition Group. Susan O’Donnell, the lead researcher for RAVEN, also participated at the CNSC hearing.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment