Australian news, and some related international items

Andrew Williams. Submission to Senate – Small Nuclear Reactors and Wastes – th elephant in the room

Submission 48 to Environment and Other Legislation Amendment (Removing Nuclear Energy Prohibitions) Bill 2022

There are many reasons why nuclear power is unlawful in Australia. Most are not new, and just as
relevant as they always have been.

I do understand that the current push by the nuclear industry of Small Modular Reactors sounds
appealing. Distributed ‘baseload’ power with a number of reactors producing no greenhouse gas
emissions (unlike coal and gas). However, digging only slightly below the surface reveals
insurmountable problems and dangers.

  1. Nuclear Waste is quite frankly the elephant in the room. It is building up all over the world, a
    burden for future generations who have not had a say or benefited from its production. This itself is
    a major ethical issue. The intermediate level waste currently intended to be imposed against the
    South Australian law on a small and now divided farming community (Kimba) must be kept safe
    from people and the environment for a minimum of 10,000 years. Some radionuclides present in
    high level waste from nuclear power plants require containment for over 100,000 years. This needs
    to be acknowledged. It is constantly downplayed by the nuclear industry. (Any plan for a reactor
    build must have this ‘back end’ cost factored in). I would like to make a brief comment on the way
    the current plan for Australia’s relatively small amount of radioactive waste has played out since
    any proposed SMR waste would likely end up at the planned NRWMF at Kimba. The process has
    been manipulative and divisive (to put it politely). It has involved deliberate lies and bribery. It has
    deliberately trampled on the rights of First Nations people. A proper process to honestly and
    respectfully address the waste issue would be a pre-requisite for the consideration of nuclear power
    in Australia.
  2. SMRs require at least 7 years to build (effectively stalling action on climate change) and require
    large taxpayer subsidies, whereas renewables can be up and running in 6 months. Furthermore, they
    have not been tried and tested in the US.
  3. As much as denial is attempted by some, there is an inextricable link between domestic nuclear
    energy production and the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. This is a long and deep
    subject, but this short summary is correct. Australia has its own history on this, which will be
    familiar to some on this committee.
  4. The mining and processing of the uranium required to fuel the nuclear reactors produces
    radioactive tailings and presents a radioactivity hazard to the miners. Workers in nuclear power
    plants also experience radioactive risks, especially those involved in loading the fuel and handling
    the ‘spent’ fuel, which sits in cooling ponds for 7 years and is itself (along with the reactor) a
    potential radioactive threat (loss of electricity necessary for the cooling ponds results in
    uncontrolled atmospheric radioactive release, a real threat in the invasion of Ukraine).
    These and other important reasons are why nuclear power should remain prohibited in Australia.
    The reasons for its current prohibition have not gone away, they have grown stronger.

March 14, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

TODAY. Australia’s splendid nuclear submarine goat rodeo – funny, but it’s really serious

Time for an Australian Monty Python group to emerge. I mean – Scott Morrison as PM was fodder enough for humour. And he must be having a good laugh – at the trap that PM Anthony has fallen into. This latest fabulous nuclear goat rodeo* has every possible comic element – hilarious cost, unseemly wrangling USA v UK for profits, fawning Pm, lying spruiking Biden and Sunak, sceptical public……..

The whole thing is such a glorious farce. Australians should all be falling about laughing – except for one sobering fact – it is really happening.

This is the worst thing that has happened to Australia since the CIA, the USA and UK governments orchestrated the dismissal of Australia’s visionary Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, in 1975. That was a major step in transferring Australia from its British semi-colonial status, to its USA semi-colonial status.

With the AUKUS goat rodeo, Australia now moves to full American military-industrial-complex colonial status.

*Goat rodeo : “a slang term for something going totally, unbelievably, disastrously wrong, and there’s nothing left to do but to sit back and watch the trainwreck. In other words, a goat rodeo is a chaotic situation, fiasco, or, more vulgarly, a s…show.”

March 14, 2023 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Australian nuclear submarine program to cost up to $368b as AUKUS details unveiled in the US

ABC News, By defence correspondent Andrew Greene in San Diego and political reporter Matthew Doran

Australia’s nuclear submarine program will cost up to $368 billion over the next three decades, with confirmation that the federal government will buy at least three American-manufactured nuclear submarines and contribute “significant additional resources” to US shipyards.

Key points:

  • The AUKUS class submarines will be operated by both the UK and Australia, using American combat systems. 
  • One submarine will be built every two years from the early 2040s through to the late 2050s
  • From as early as 2027, four US submarines and one from the UK will start rotating through Western Australia

The Australian government will take three, potentially second-hand Virginia-class submarines early next decade, pending the approval of the US Congress.

There will also be an option to purchase another two under the landmark AUKUS defence and security pact, announced in San Diego this morning.

In the meantime, design and development work will continue on a brand new submarine, known as the SSN-AUKUS, “leveraging” work the British have already been doing to replace their Astute-class submarines.

That submarine — which will form the AUKUS class — would eventually be operated by both the UK and Australia, using American combat systems. 

One submarine will be built every two years from the early 2040s through to the late 2050s, with five SSN-AUKUS boats delivered to the Royal Australian Navy by the middle of the 2050s.

Eventually, the fleet would include eight Australian submarines built in Adelaide into the 2060s, but the federal government is leaving open the option of taking some from British shipyards if strategic circumstances change.

Meanwhile, the federal government estimates the cost of the submarine program will be between $268 billion and $368 billion over the next 30 years.

As part of that figure, $8 billion will be spent on upgrading the naval base HMAS Stirling in Western Australia.

From as early as 2027, four US and one UK submarine will start rotating through Western Australia, to be known as the Submarine Rotational Forces West.

No decision has been made on a future east coast base for submarines, although Port Kembla has firmed as the most likely location.

Standing alongside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, US President Joe Biden spoke of the strength of the alliance already………..

US subs to rotate off Australian coast

During the announcement, President Biden flagged that, from this year, Australian navy personnel would embed with both US and UK crew on submarines and at their shipyards………………………

Mr Albanese confirmed that Australian submariners were already undergoing nuclear power training in the US……………

Money for US shipyards

Australia will also contribute $3 billion over the next four years to US and UK production lines, with the bulk of that money heading stateside.

White House officials insisted Australia was preparing to make a “substantial contribution” to US submarine production facilities.

The US government will also request an extra $US4.6 billion from Congress to upgrade the nation’s submarine infrastructure, with a concession that the readiness of American production lines are “not where it should be”.

Included in its overall project budget, Australia will spend $2 billion over the next four years upgrading the Osborne shipyards in South Australia.

The purchase of Virginia-class submarines from the United States was described by American officials as “a potent nuclear powered submarine force in the 2030s, much earlier than many had expected”.

US officials tried to allay concerns about restrictions on sharing its nuclear technology with Australia…………..

The three AUKUS leaders made the announcement at Naval Base Point Loma, in front of the Virginia-class submarine USS Missouri, which arrived in San Diego Harbor late last week.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the Coalition would support the submarine deal “come hell or high water”.

“We were the authors of it. We give full credit to the government for continuing it and arriving at today,” he said.

………………………………………………… “It is also part of a seismic shift in the US-Australia alliance that will see Australia play an increasingly pivotal role in supporting and contributing to military operations in the region.” – Ashley Townshend from the Carnegie Endowment

March 14, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia news live: Aukus subs deal includes commitment to dispose of nuclear waste; Greens say plan is ‘mortgaging our future’

Guardian 14 Mar 23

Marles: Aukus program includes commitment to dispose of spent nuclear reactors

Marles: the sealed nuclear reactor is our friend, because by virtue of having a sealed reactor, we can provide assurance in respect of every piece of nuclear material through the life cycle of the nuclear material.

We are making a commitment that we will dispose of the nuclear reactor. That is a significant commitment to make. This is going to require a facility to be built in order to do a disposal that will be remote from populations. We are announcing that will be on defence land, current or future.

Now, to be clear, the first of the [nuclear material] we will dispose of will not happen until the 2050s, but within the year, we will announce a process by with this facility will be identified.

We are also a proud signatory to the treaty of Rarotonga. That commits us to not operate nuclear weapons from our territory.

Richard Marles says he is confident that the agreement will hold, even if America has a change in political direction……….

Q: Is it possible that we’ll be maintaining and operating three classes of submarines? That is the Virginia, the Collins and the Aukus submarines? And if so, is there any concern? And can I ask the admiral as well, is there any concern in defence about the prospect of operating three different submarines?

Marles: We obviously will be operating two as a result of this announcement. You know, the preference is to operate as few classes as possible.

Vice Admiral Mead: And once we work with the submarines coming to Western Australia and develop our own capabilities on the Virginias, then the move to SNN-AUKUS, which will have incredible commonality with propulsion systems, platforms, weapons, combat systems and sensors…………………. It remains the position of the Albanese government, that there won’t be foreign bases in Australia and this will not be a foreign base. It’s a forward rotation.…………..

Marles: ‘This is as good a value-for-money spend in defence as you will get’..……

Q: Is a high-level nuclear waste dump the price that South Australia will have to pay for the jobs that go to the state?


Well, as I indicated earlier there will be a process that we will determine in the next 12 months … how the site will be identified. You’ve made a leap that we won’t make for some time. It will be a while before a site is identified but we will establish a process.

Q: The $9bn the government is spending over the forwards has a neutral impact on the budget, $6bn because of what was allocated to the attack class but $3bn is coming from the integrated investment program. Can you give more detail about … where that money is coming from? And if not today, when?

Marles: I won’t give you the detail today except you’re right to identify the integrated investment program and obviously the strategic review has had a good look at all of that. It will be plain in time of the budget.

Q: Why not now, though? You must have an idea where those cuts are going to be? In the interests of transparency, people want to judge what the opportunity cost of the nuclear submarines are. Unless you’re suggesting it’s cuts first and work it out later? Where are the cuts coming from?

Marles: Well, no. You will get all of that information before the budget, which is measured in just a couple of months, so you can judge us at that point.……………………………………… more

March 14, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Fukushima victims feel left out

By WANG XU in Tokyo , 2023-03-13

Editor’s note: On Saturday, Japan marked the 12th anniversary of the massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster with a minute of silence, as global concerns grew ahead of the planned release into the Pacific Ocean of nuclear-contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant. China Daily reviews how locals are still suffering from the disaster and their opposition to the controversial discharge plan.

After catastrophe, only a handful of evacuated residents prefer to return

For the past 12 years Honoka, now 85, has been one of thousands of Japanese who have taken part in protests outside the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Tokyo.

Their bone of contention: the handling of contaminated water in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, eastern Japan, wrecked by an earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people and triggered the meltdown of three nuclear reactors as well as the release of large amounts of radiation.

The dark 12th anniversary of that disaster was marked on Saturday.

Honoka, who requested not to be fully identified, said she was moved by the resilience and determination of Fukushima people and thus volunteered to join them to raise broader awareness about the challenges and hardships they face. She is not from Fukushima, she said.

“Many of them were forced to leave their homes in the aftermath of the disaster, unsure of when, or if, they would be able to return.”

The national government’s handling of the disaster had left her feeling betrayed, she said.

“The government abandoned the people of Fukushima when they needed it most.”

Nevertheless, over the years there has been a concerted drive to rebuild Fukushima and bring back those who left it. Now one of the major concerns is what to do with the nuclear-contaminated water in the plant, and in particular official plans to start releasing it into the Pacific Ocean.

The toxic water has been used to cool the highly radioactive, damaged reactor cores, and there is enough of it to fill 500 Olympic-size swimming pools. The government has said it plans to start discharging the water this spring or summer.

“Dumping the toxic water is contrary to a government pledge of rebuilding my hometown of Fukushima, because it threatens a double blow to our community,” said Hisae Unuma, one of the 160,000 people evacuated from the region and who has been among those pushing for the government to scrap its discharge plan.

Many evacuees such as Unuma have refused to return to their hometowns even though the government has lifted evacuation orders and spent huge amounts of money on rebuilding local facilities and housing.

The Board of Audit, which reviews national government spending, says Japan has spent about 1 trillion yen ($7.3 billion) a year on handling the disaster, and how much the total will be for dealing with its aftermath is unknown.

The Reconstruction Agency says about 80,000 residents have been evacuated from Fukushima prefecture since 2011, and just 16,000 of them have returned home.

In the Tsushima district of Namie town, which once had a population of 1,400, and where reconstruction work has just finished, fewer than 10 residents are reported to have said they plan to move back this spring.

For those who have returned or never left, life promises to be far from ideal, because the agriculture and fishing industries, once the lifeblood of the region, have been devastated by the disaster.

As the Fukushima plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, moves closer to discharging the nuclear-contaminated water, local opposition has intensified.

“The government gave us a promise and is now doing exactly the opposite,” said Tetsu Nozaki, head of Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, referring to an agreement reached by it, the national government and TEPCO.

“The treated water must not be released without the consent of all those involved.”

March 14, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sub-standard: AUKUS plan means more risks for Australia

In response to the news Australia will build and purchase nuclear submarines from the USA and the UK at a cost of up to $368bn between now and the mid-2050s, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s nuclear analyst Dave Sweeney said:

“The arrangement announced today will undoubtedly elevate regional tensions and increase risks for Australians and our neighbours.

“This deal introduces new and significant safety risks that Australia has never had to deal with before.

“There are risks of possible future accidents in our ports and waters, especially given nuclear regulator ARPANSA’s assessment that emergency management arrangements in Australia ‘are not fit for purpose for a future with nuclear powered submarines.’

“Pacific nations, Indonesia and others in our region have deep concerns about AUKUS.

“This arrangement further entangles Australia in the USA’s war-fighting plans.

“It raises serious non-proliferation concerns relating to access to highly enriched weapons-grade uranium and sets a disturbing precedent for imitation and escalation.

“Australia would be the only nation without nuclear weapons but with nuclear submarines. It may embolden other nations to go down this path, increasing global nuclear risks.

“There is no clarity about how the government intends to manage the resulting high level nuclear waste for the thousands of years it remains radioactive.

“As many Australians face daily cost of living pressures – and we all face the pressures of the climate crisis – this deal comes with a massive financial cost we will all bear.

“This whole process has lacked rigour or transparency and will cost Australians many billions of dollars that would be much better spent on social and environmental problems.

“ACF calls for the Albanese government to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to give the Australian public and our region a clear commitment that nuclear subs are not a precursor to nuclear weapons.

“The Prime Minister should rule out Australia facilitating or hosting nuclear weapons – ‘neither confirm, nor deny’ is not an acceptable position. Australia must not facilitate unlawful weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction.

“The PM should also rule out domestic nuclear power – nuclear subs must not become a Trojan Horse for subsidies for a deeply controversial and contaminating energy source.”

March 14, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Porky pies and half-truths from our USA- captured Prime Minister Albanese.

Today’s significant AUKUS announcement about Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines provides significant, long-term strategic benefits for all three countries……..a transformational moment for our nation [Ed. it sure does!transformed to a colony of USA’s military-industrial-complex]

…. provides significant, long-term strategic benefits [?] for all three countries……… our ability to be sovereign [?] ready.

……creating around 20,000 direct jobs [a very dubious claim – ?jobs for Americans and British military experts]

……… Businesses right across the country in every state and territory will have the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from these opportunities. [ a totally unlikely unrealistic claim, backed by no data]

…….. Importantly, the SSNs will be an Australian sovereign capability [is he joking or is he stupid?] …

March 14, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Sir David Attenborough urges people to unite to save ‘nature in crisis’

Sir David Attenborough said “nature is in crisis” as he urged people to
unite to save it for future generations. He spoke out after last night’s
first episode of his five-part show about British wildlife.

His plea comes
as the National Trust, RSPB and WWF have launched their first joint
campaign, Save Our Wild Isles, which encourages people to “go wild”
once a week, by doing activities such as sowing bee-friendly plants or
creating “hedgehog highways”, and urges citizens to call on the
government to make changes to halt nature’s decline.

The series features a
sixth, iPlayer-only episode called Saving Our Wild Isles, commissioned by
the RSPB and WWF. “[It] shows what amazing people are doing to turn the
UK round and how quickly it can recover,” Alastair Fothergill, the
producer, said.

Times 13th March 2023

Independent 13th March 2023

March 14, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment