Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

New South Wales Labor leader sticks up for the right of school students to strike over climate change

Michael Daley says NSW schoolchildren have right to strike over climate change, Guardian, Anne Davies

State Labor leader says education is ‘bigger than the classroom’ as he applauds students for ‘standing up and taking action’

The New South Wales opposition leader, Michael Daley, has backed the state’s schoolchildren striking and attending rallies on climate change, saying it was a democratic right to protest and “an important way to realise their own personal power”.

Speaking at a National Press Club event in Sydney, Daley said he supported the rallies on Friday, even though he might soon be the premier and responsible for ensuring children attend school.

“Education is also bigger than the classroom. It is based on life experience. That is, in part, the importance of being confident and passionate enough to form beliefs and being prepared to stand up for them,” he said.

“They don’t have a microphone or money like the big end of town. But they do have their democratic right to assembly. I support that right to protest especially when it comes to climate change and our fragile environment.

“And more importantly in this inert digital age, of acting on that belief. Of standing up and taking action for what you believe in – it is called leadership.”

Labor has sought to distinguish itself from the Coalition by promising more rapid action on climate change, including installing seven gigawatts of regional solar farms and establishing a rebate scheme to encourage households to install a further two gigawatts of rooftop solar……… https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/mar/13/michael-daley-says-nsw-schoolchildren-have-right-to-strike-over-climate-change

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March 14, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Climate change is a key issue for New South Wales election

Climate change top of voters’ minds in NSW election SMH, By Alexandra Smith March 12, 2019  Climate change is a key election issue for most people in NSW, polling shows, as the environment emerges as a more pressing concern for voters than hospitals, schools and public transport.

Exclusive Herald polling shows that 57.5 per cent of voters say they will be swayed by climate change and environmental protection when deciding who to vote for on March 23…….

Internal party research showed climate change played a major role in last year’s Wentworth byelection and is shaping up to be a key issue in former prime minister Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah.

With climate change again looming as an issue at the federal election in May, Mr Abbott on Friday abandoned his call to withdraw from the Paris agreement to reduce carbon emissions, falling in to line with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the key policy………

The three independents – Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, and Wagga Wagga MP Joe McGirr – are demanding Labor and the Coalition take action on climate change.

The crossbenchers, who will hold the balance of power if the government loses six seats, wrote to the Premier and Mr Daley last week asking them to act on transitioning from coal mining to clean energy……https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/climate-change-top-of-voters-minds-in-nsw-election-20190311-p513bb.html

March 12, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales, politics | 1 Comment

New South Wales election – 3 Independent MP’s gather strength for climate action

NSW election roundup: independents join forces on climate changeThree possible kingmakers write to premier and opposition leader. Plus: the key promises made this week , Guardian, Josephine Tovey
 Three independent MPs who could become kingmakers in the event of a hung parliament have put climate change, and “future-proofing” the environment and economy, at the forefront of their agenda. Sydney’s Alex Greenwich, Lake Macquarie’s Greg Piper and Wagga Wagga’s Joe McGirr joined forces on Friday to call on the two major parties to commit to a 10-year adjustment strategy for coalmining communities, “backed by substantial financial resources to affected regions”.“A transition away from coal is what the planet urgently needs but it requires planning to avoid social and economic impacts in mining regions,” they wrote in a letter to the New South Wales premier and opposition leader.

Polls have consistently suggested the main parties are locked in a dead heat, and a Coalition minority government is widely regarded as a likely outcome of the 23 March election.

Greenwich said that whatever the outcome, he would work with either of the major parties to deliver his priorities, with a strong focus on climate change and homelessness……. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/mar/02/nsw-election-roundup-independents-join-forces-on-climate

March 4, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Three people treated at Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear facility after chemical spill

ABC News 1 Mar 19  Three staff at the Lucas Heights nuclear facility have been decontaminated after being exposed to a chemical spill.

Key points:

  • Australia’s only nuclear reactor is located at Lucas Heights, about 40km south of Sydney’s CBD
  • Two men and a women were decontaminated and taken to Sutherland Hospital
  • The facility has had several contamination scares in recent years

A spokesman for Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) said the workers were exposed to sodium hydroxide when a cap came off a pipe in the nuclear medicine manufacturing building…………

Contamination scares

The Lucas Heights facility, about 40 kilometres south of the Sydney CBD, has had several contamination scares in recent years.

In August 2017 a worker suffered blisters on his hands after he dropped a vial of radioactive material and was contaminated through two pairs of gloves.

The event was deemed the most serious in the world in 2017, according to the International Nuclear Event Scale — the global grading system for nuclear incidents.

ANSTO apologised to the worker who was exposed to the radioactive material and produced an “action plan”, in response.

An independent review of the facility was conducted in October 2018 and found that it failed modern nuclear safety standards and should be replaced.

In the same week ANSTO confirmed five workers had received a dose of radiation at the facility, but that the amount of radiation was “less than a chest X-ray”.https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-01/three-treated-after-safety-breach-at-sydney-nuclear-facility/10860708

 

March 2, 2019 Posted by | - incidents, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Climate change becoming a hot issue for New South Wales election

‘Everyone loves solar’: Climate action heats up as NSW election issue, Brisbane Times By Peter Hannam February 23, 2019 NSW voters, including conservative ones, want the state government to step up action on climate change, including boosting renewable energy, two separate polling sets show.

A statewide Essential survey conducted February 6-11 for the Nature Conservation Council of 544 respondents found 51 per cent were more likely to back a party boosting clean energy and 18 per cent less likely. Among those identifying as Liberal or National supporters, the ratio was 43 per cent in favour and a quarter against.

Three separate uComms surveys for Greenpeace, each of more than 600 respondents conducted in marginal seats of Ballina, Coogee, and Penrith, found higher support for renewable energy.

In Penrith, for instance, 60 per cent of Liberal voters said they were more likely to support a party investing in renewables and 30.7 per cent less likely. In Coogee, 52.1 per cent of Liberal voters were more likely to back a party with such policies, and 38.6 per cent against.

In Ballina, 65 per cent of National supporters agreed rooftop solar and batteries would cut household power bills for homeowners and renters, while 32.8 per cent disagreed.

The polling comes amid another torrid period of extremes. NSW smashed heat records in January, with temperatures almost six degrees about average and two degrees above the previous record set in bushfire-scorched January 1939.

Much of the state remains in severe drought – with 2019 off to a dry start amid rainfall levels typically less than a fifth of normal levels – sending reservoir levels tumbling and contributing to a series of mass fish kills and algal bloom outbreaks in the Darling and other rivers.

While climate scientists have yet to determine the role climate change is having, the background warming of more than a degree over the past century across Australia is raising the likelihood of heatwaves. Climate models also point to a long-term drying trend across southern Australia, including NSW, with more to come.

No policy’

The onus to demonstrate action to tackle climate change appears to fall heavier on the Coalition if the polling and last December’s federal byelection for the Sydney seat of Wentworth are any guide, Kate Smolski, chief executive of the Nature Conservation Council, said.

“Voters deserted the Liberals in Wentworth over climate change, and [this month’s] poll shows that it’s a statewide phenomenon,” Ms Smolski said.

“This is bad news for the Berejiklian government, which after eight years of Coalition rule still doesn’t have a climate change policy or a renewable energy target.”……..

the Greens plan to introduce a carbon change bill, including a broad carbon price, to reach the net-zero emissions goal by 2040.

“We need targets with teeth if we are going to actually decarbonise,” Cate Faehrmann, Greens environment spokeswoman, said. “That is why I have developed legislation which sets binding targets to reach net-zero emissions by 2040 and gives ordinary citizens the power to prosecute government ministers who are not serious about meeting these targets.”

Jeremy Buckingham, the former Greens and now independent MP, said policies are needed to tackle emissions from agriculture, industry and transport.

“Everyone loves solar panels, so we get policies focused on popular renewable energy, but with only a few years left to act, we need comprehensive policies to decarbonise all sectors rapidly, even if they are politically challenging,” he said. https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/everyone-loves-solar-climate-action-heats-up-as-nsw-election-issue-20190222-p50zl7.html

February 25, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

New South Wales election – an opportunity to vote in politicians who care about our health and environment

NSW election: our chance to vote 1 for climate and health, Croakey,  Editor: Mark Ragg Author: John Van Der KallenJohn Van Der Kallen is a rheumatologist and the NSW Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia. February 21, 2019 The Lancet has described tackling climate change as the ‘greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.’ The upcoming NSW election is one of those opportunities to improve our health, but we need to vote for politicians who will take climate change seriously.

February 25, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Court judgment a precedent for climate to weigh more than coal business in legal cases?

Landmark Rocky Hill ruling could pave the way for more courts to choose climate over coal, ABC, The Conversation By Justine Bell-James, 12 Feb 19, On Friday, Chief Judge Brian Preston of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court handed down a landmark judgementconfirming a decision to refuse a new open-cut coal mine near Gloucester in the Hunter Valley.

The proposed Rocky Hill mine’s contribution to climate change was one of the key reasons cited for refusing the application.

The decision has prompted celebration among environmentalists, for whom climate-based litigation has long been an uphill battle.

Defeating a mining proposal on climate grounds involves clearing several high hurdles.

Generally speaking, the court must be convinced not only that the proposed mine would contribute to climate change, but also that this issue is relevant under the applicable law.

To do this, a litigant needs to convince a court of a few key things, which include that:

  • the proponent is responsible for the ultimate burning of the coal, even if it is burned by a third party, and
  • this will result in increased greenhouse emissions, which in turn contributes to climate change.

In his judgement, Judge Preston took a broad view and readily connected these causal dots, ruling that:

The project’s cumulative greenhouse gas emissions will contribute to the global total of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. The global total of GHG concentrations will affect the climate system and cause climate change impacts. The project’s cumulative GHG emissions are therefore likely to contribute to the future changes to the climate system and the impacts of climate change.

Other courts (such as in Queensland, where the proposed Adani coalmine has successfully cleared various legal hurdles) have tended to take a narrower approach to statutory interpretation, with climate change just one of numerous relevant factors under consideration.

In contrast, Judge Preston found climate change to be one of the more important factors to consider under NSW legislation.

To rule against a coalmine on climate grounds, the court also needs to resist the “market substitution” argument — the suggestion that if the proponent does not mine and sell coal, someone else will.

This argument has become a common “defence” in climate litigation, and indeed was advanced by Gloucester Resources in the Rocky Hill case.

Judge Preston rejected the argument, describing it as “flawed”. He noted that there is no certainty that overseas mines will substitute for the Rocky Hill coalmine.

Given increasing global momentum to tackle climate change, he noted that other countries may well follow this lead in rejecting future coalmine proposals.

He also stated that:

An environmental impact does not become acceptable because a hypothetical and uncertain alternative development might also cause the same unacceptable environmental impact……..

This decision potentially opens up a new chapter in Australia’s climate litigation history.

Judge Preston’s ruling nimbly vaults over hurdles that have confounded Australian courts in the past — most notably, the application of the market substitution defence.

It is hard to predict whether his decision will indeed have wider ramifications.

Certainly the tide is turning internationally — coal use is declining, many nations have set ambitious climate goals under the Paris Agreement, and high-level overseas courts are making bold decisions in climate cases.

As Judge Preston concluded:

An open-cut coal mine in this part of the Gloucester valley would be in the wrong place at the wrong time … the GHG emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions.

Indeed, it is high time for a progressive approach to climate cases too.

Hopefully this landmark judgement will signal the turning of the tides in Australian courts as well.

Justine Bell-James is a senior lecturer at The University of Queensland. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-12/rocky-hill-ruling-more-courts-choose-climate-over-coal/10802930

February 14, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

In New South Wales, government lets mining companies dodge costs for site rehabilitation.

NSW ‘accounting trick’ lets miners dodge appropriate rehabilitation costs, Guardian, Ben Smee


Lock the Gate accuses state government of placing interests of mining sector over those of taxpayers   New South Wales taxpayers could be shortchanged up to $500m by a state government “accounting trick” that allows mining companies to dodge paying appropriate contingency costs for site rehabilitation.A 2017 report by the NSW auditor general found that security deposits paid by miners for future rehabilitation were inadequate and made several recommendations, including that the “contingency” costs be increased.

Though not part of the formal recommendation, the report said contingency costs should range from 25% to 50% (of the estimated total rehabilitation cost).

The environmental group Lock the Gate has obtained a letter, through Freedom of Information, that shows the NSW Department of Planning and the Environment told a parliamentary committee last year it had accepted all of the auditor general’s recommendations, and that it had already increased contingency costs.

The department told Guardian Australia this week it had increased “contingencies” to 30%. But it later clarified that figure included “contingency” and two other metrics – project management costs and post-project environmental monitoring – which were dealt with separately by the audit.

The amount for “contingency” remains at the previous level of 10%.

Rick Humphries, the mine rehabilitation coordinator at Lock the Gate, said the new arrangements were “an accounting sleight of hand” that had the effect of not forcing mining companies to meet the standards outlined by the audit….. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/14/nsw-accounting-trick-lets-miners-dodge-appropriate-rehabilitation-costs

February 14, 2019 Posted by | environment, New South Wales, uranium | Leave a comment

New South Wales Labor announces plan for 500,000 households to get rooftop solar

Labor announces plan for 500,000 households to get rooftop solar, https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/labor-announces-plan-for-500-000-households-to-get-rooftop-solar-20190209-p50wrl.html, By Laura Chung,February 9, 2019 NSW Labor has announced it will support a program to help 500,000 households to install rooftop solar, reducing electricity bills in the next 10 years.

Under Labor’s Solar Homes policy, owner-occupied households in NSW with a combined income of $180,000 or less would be eligible for a rebate, to be capped at $2200 per household.

Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Adam Searle, said the policy could add solar to an additional million homes over the next decade, and could save the average household anywhere between $600 and $1000 a year on electricity bills.

“This is a bold program to push NSW to the front of the energy revolution,” he said. “This will significantly cut electricity bills and carbon emissions.”

“We will have much more to say about energy and tackling climate change.”

The program would be phased in during the 2019-2020 financial year. The policy announcement comes ahead of the launch of Labor’s campaign bus, which will travel around the state from Sunday.

The Smart Energy Council said Labor’s policy addressed two of NSW residents’ main concerns: the cost of living and climate change.

It shows “a strong commitment towards climate change” and is a “sign of confidence in renewable energy, a critical part of NSW’s future,” a spokesman said.

The council said it would like to see a stronger commitment from both the NSW Government and the Opposition to supporting families’ purchases of household solar batteries, which would provide people “with a greater sense of control of power and how they use power.”

In a statement, deputy leader of NSW Liberals Dominic Perrottet said Labor “cannot be trusted” to deliver more affordable, reliable and clean energy, “with a history of energy cost blowouts and blunders”.

The NSW Coalition government “is getting on with the job of taking pressure off electricity prices, while maintaining energy security,” Mr Perrottet said.

February 10, 2019 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, solar | Leave a comment

This New South Wales court ruling will shake the coal industry to its core

Paparc  People Against Political and Religious Corruption, 8 Feb 19, 

In an Australian first, and a decision that will no doubt set a precedent in this country, and shake the coal industry to its core, a proposed coal mine in Gloucester has been denied and rejected by the Chief Justice of the Land and Environment Court.

“Wrong place because an open-cut coal mine in this scenic and cultural landscape, proximate to many people’s homes and farms, will cause significant planning, amenity, visual and social impacts.

“Wrong time because the [greenhouse gas] emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of [greenhouse gases] at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in emissions.”

‘Dire consequences’: NSW court quashes plans for new coal mine
http://www.abc.net.au/…/rocky-hill-mine-plans-qaus…/10792902

 

February 8, 2019 Posted by | environment, legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Heat in New South Wales – bushfires, health impact, and roads melting

Roads melt as temperatures break records across NSW, SMH, By Jenny Noyes, 17 January 2019 As temperature records continue to be broken across NSW, residents from Sydney to Menindee are warned the heatwave melting the state is yet to hit its peak, and in some parts is forecast to continue into next week without respite.

On Wednesday and Thursday, new maximum temperature records were set at 27 sites across NSW and the ACT, while some of the hottest overnight temperatures on record worsened the impact of the ongoing hot spell.

The conditions were so extreme that the bitumen on the Oxley Highway near Wauchope, just west of Port Macquarie, began melting about midday.

Walcha Council is using water from a nearby river to cool the pavement.

“Roads and Maritime Services acknowledge water is a scarce resource at this time, however it is required to ensure the safety of motorists and keep the road open,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the NSW Rural Fire Service was battling more than 50 fires across the state – 20 of them are uncontained.

Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said 61 new fires were ignited on Wednesday alone, 31 of them started by lightning.

“We’re still trying to capture some of these fires and get them contained,” he told 2GB radio.

Total fire bans were in place across much of central NSW, stretching from the Victorian border up to Queensland……….

Dr Broome said that hospitals across the state were preparing for a 14 per cent rise in emergency room admissions and a 13 per cent rise in mortality, after a similar event in 2011. …….https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/roads-melt-as-temperatures-break-records-across-nsw-20190117-p50s0e.html

January 19, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Health risks due to high salt content in water, in a drought town

December 11, 2018 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Spikes in radiation monitored during bushfires near Lucas Heights nuclear site

15th April 2018 – Residents told to “Shelter in place”, Peter Daley
technologypals.com.au, 20 Nov 18

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5617263/Sydney-bushfire-spreads-nuclear-reactor-army-base-residents-nearby-evacuated.html

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) local radiation monitor station shows significant spikes in radiation during the fire event.

Below are screen shots from the ANSTO radiation monitoring station at Endagine. Endagine is located East of the Lucas Heights reactor.

What caused this spike in local radiation?

Did the fire release local radioactive contamination?

Reactor venting?

Fault in equipment?

Their rainfall monitor shows it definitely was not raining at the time of these detections, so these detections can’t be explained away as Radon wash out events.

Radiation Spike plus rainfall chart 15th to 16th April

http://sccc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Australia-Sydney-ANSTO-Monitoring-site-15th-to-16th-April-2018.png

More Radiation detection spikes showing on the live Engadine ANSTO monitor station chart, 19th April.

http://sccc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Australia-Sydney-Engadine-ANSTO-live-Monitoring-Station-19th-April-2018.png

ANSTO live monitoring site,

http://www.ansto.gov.au/Resources/Localenvironment/Atmosphericmonitoring/Radiationmonitoring/index.htm

November 20, 2018 Posted by | - incidents, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Concern over New South Wales zurconium mine – also mining uranium and thorium

Kazzi Jai  Kazzi Jai  Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 11 Nov 18, 

when you can’t legally “produce” uranium and thorium BUT inadvertently “mine” it to get the rare earth elements zirconium, hafnium, niobium and yttrium?

That’s what’s happening at the Toongi mine, 25km south of Dubbo in NSW. Called the “Alkane Resource’s Dubbo Zirconia Project” its lease was granted in December 2015. Much closer to Sydney at 380km…. compared to Roxby Downs which is 565 km from Adelaide! And it turns out that the mine has between 10,000 and 100,000 tonnes of uranium according to Geoscience Australia!

And there’s more! Turns out that over the 20-year life of the project around 80,000 tonnes of “radioactive substance” – uranium and thorium – would need to be “diluted”, according to Alkane’s Environmental Impact Statement.

This “dilution” would require up to 50 million tonnes of other, non-radioactive, materials. Around 7 million tonnes of salt, 2.5 billion litres of ‘liquid residue’ and 2 million tonnes of ‘solid waste’ would remain at the mine site forever, alongside a 40-hectare “final void”.

Now, why isn’t this in our local papers do you think?  https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/

November 11, 2018 Posted by | New South Wales, uranium | 1 Comment

New South Wales government is preparing for a surge in renewable energy

We want to do everything we can’: NSW readies for renewables surge, Brisbane Times, By Peter Hannam, 5 November 2018 New solar and wind farms being planned for NSW have twice the capacity of the state’s coal-fired power stations, prompting the state government to set aside $55 million to help smooth their introduction.As of October 29, NSW had 20,000 megawatts of generation capacity either approved or seeking planning approval, worth more than $27 billion in investment, according to government data.

Proposed solar plants accounted for 11,200MW, dwarfing wind farms with 5100MW, and the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro of about 2000MW. Just 100MW involved coal, with the planned upgrade of AGL’s Bayswater power station.

Along with the new plants, some eight large-scale battery projects – all with solar farms – with more than 400MW-hours of capacity are also in the planning pipeline as the industry gears up for the bulge in variable energy sources.

The market, though, is going to need some near-term help to smooth the exit of most of the state’s existing power plants – particularly the 10,160MW of coal-fired power stations, said Amy Kean, director of the Energy Infrastructure and Emerging Technologies unit at the Department of Planning

To that end, the government last week revealed the first details of its $55 million Emerging Energy Program aimed at supporting a portfolio of nascent technologies that will be needed as 70 per cent of the state’s generation fleet retires by 2035.

“We’re trying to drive these technologies down the cost curve so they can then complement variable wind and solar technologies,” Ms Kean said.

The surge in renewable energy comes as the federal government has largely vacated the energy policy space after the demise of the Turnbull government’s National Energy Guarantee. The states are largely being left to press on with carbon reduction and other power sector goals.

“There is no doubt that our energy future lies in alternative technologies,” Don Harwin, the NSW Energy Minister, said.

“We want to do everything we can to unlock the expertise of the private sector to accelerate projects that deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy.”

Renewable energy could emerge as a key policy issue at next March’s state election. Adam Searle, Labor’s energy spokesman said his party planned to “have quite a lot more to say about it”, and that the ALP “will do more on new energy than Coalition parties”.

Solar catches up with windThe rapid advance and competitive nature of solar photovoltaic panels, meanwhile, has caught many by surprise. …….https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/we-want-to-do-everything-we-can-nsw-readies-for-renewables-surge-20181104-p50dw9.html

November 6, 2018 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | 1 Comment