Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Restoring Kakadu to its former glory (now that uranium mining is finished)

Kakadu at a crossroads: Traditional owners welcome call to restore park to its former glory http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-29/kakadu-at-a-crossroads:-traditional-owners-tourism/9921510  By Felicity James  

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June 29, 2018 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Historic Northern Territory treaty agreement  means ‘the old way is finished’

‘Chief minister says ‘nothing is on or off the table’ for new treaty agreement signed in Barunga’
Lorena Allam Sat 9 Jun 2018

‘Gunner told the crowd he was proud to have signed the memorandum of understanding,
calling it “the most significant Aboriginal affairs reform in the NT this generation”. … ‘

‘The chairman of the Northern Land CouncilSamuel Bush-Blanasi,
said it was “momentous.”

‘“We’ve got a big journey ahead of us.
The MOU gives us high hopes about the future, and
I hope the government stays true to the spirit of the MOU.”

‘That note of hope was echoed by the chairman of the Central Land CouncilFrancis Jupurrurla Kelly.

‘“I hope a treaty will settle us down together and bring self-determination.

‘“Today we bounced the ball,” Jupurrurla Kelly said,
“but we don’t want to stay the only players in the game.
The next steps must be led by Aboriginal people across the Territory so that
… everyone can have their say.”

Tiwi Land Council’s Gibson Farmer Illortaminni was more cautious.
“We’ve got to be careful and understand each other about what we want,
because we don’t want to have the same problems we’ve had in the past.
The MOU is a good start, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

‘The treaty agreement kicked off the annual Barunga festival.

Read more:
www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jun/09/historic-northern-territory-treaty-agreement-means-the-old-way-is-finis

June 10, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Decades overdue Ranger Uranium Mine rehabilitation plan released The world is watching

Northern Land Council, 5 June 2018     The Northern Land Council and Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation welcome today’s public release of the Ranger Mine Closure Plan by Energy Resources of Australia. The plan is decades overdue and critical to the company meeting the objectives of rehabilitation.

The NLC and GAC, representing the Mirarr Traditional Aboriginal Owners of the mine site, will now review the plan and engage with stakeholders as part of the approval process. While not part of a public environmental impact statement process, the public release of the plan does provide the broader community with an opportunity to comment on the plan to the Australian government.

The Mine Closure Plan is of a very high level and even though Ranger’s closure is imminent, a significant amount of detailed planning and supporting studies remain outstanding. ERA and its parent company Rio Tinto must clearly demonstrate that they have sufficient resources devoted to mine closure to provide stakeholders with confidence that the objectives outlined in the closure plan can be met.

The Ranger plan remains unenforceable until it is approved by the federal Minister for Resources. The mine’s operational life must cease by January 2021, ahead of five years’ rehabilitation. The future of Aboriginal communities downstream of the mine and the World Heritage listed values of Australia’s largest national park are at stake.

ERA and Rio Tinto’s rehabilitation obligations include remediation of the site such that it can be incorporated in the surrounding Kakadu National Park. The final determination as to whether the area can be incorporated into the World Heritage area sits with the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, on advice from its expert advisory bodies the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).

NLC contact: Martha Tattersall 0427 031 382 GAC contact: Kirsten Blair 0412 853 641

http://gac-v3.katalyst.com.au/media/W1siZiIsIjIwMTgvMDYvMDQvM3plYWpidjJ1al8yMDE4MDQwNl9HQUNfTkxDX3JlX0VSQV9SVU1fTUNQXzVfSnVuZV8yMDE4LnBkZiJdXQ/20180406%20GAC%20NLC%20re%20ERA%20RUM%20MCP%205%20June%202018.pdf

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Ranger mine closure and rehab to cost $1bn

The $1 billion plan for the closure and rehabilitation of Australia’s oldest operating uranium mine has been released by Energy Resources of Australia… (subscribers only) 
http://www.ntnews.com.au/business/ranger-mine-closure-and-rehabilitation-to-cost-1-billion/news-story/f86aa022ca5c700cf3264c7fe8d3abdd

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Northern Territory, wastes, uranium | Leave a comment

Indigenous Rangers left waiting for funding commitment

Indigenous rangers left out to dry, 26 Apr 18 
It’s been a long and anxious wait for indigenous ranger organisations in the Territory, as they hope for a formal funding commitment to arrive before deal expires in June …(subscribers only) 
http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/northern-territory/indigenous-rangers-in-the-northern-territory-left-waiting-for-formal-funding-agreement/news-story/51f868eb3e08369ca59517ef0cf0072c

April 26, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Aboriginal traditional owners warn that Rum Jungle uranium mine rehabilitation is jeopardised

 

Above: Finniss River polluted by Rum Jungle mine’s toxic metallic and radioactive debris

Rum Jungle uranium mine rehabilitation jeopardised by NT Resources Department, traditional owners warn http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-03/uranium-mine-rehabilitation-jeopardised-nt-resources-department/9612056  By Sara Everingham 

April 4, 2018 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Rare earths mining in Central Australia approved

EPA approves $900m rare earths mine in Central Australia despite radioactive risk, ABC News, By Ben Millington,  5 Jan 18,A proposed $900 million rare earths mine in Central Australia has been recommended for approval by the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (EPA), after an assessment process lasting more than two years.,

Arafura Resources’ Nolans Project at Aileron, 135 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs, would mine rare earth materials such as neodymium and praseodymium, used to manufacture strong magnets for wind turbines and electric vehicles.

The EPA identified several long-term environmental risks and impacts with the project, but found they could be managed.

“There will have to be a high level of operational management control for this project over a couple of generations, and there’ll have to be a high level of regulatory scrutiny, there’s no two ways about that,” EPA chairman Paul Vogel said.

The primary risks include the permanent storage of naturally occurring radioactive material onsite and the use of significant groundwater resources over the 35 to 55-year lifespan of the project……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-05/epa-approves-rare-earth-mine-in-central-australia/9306610

January 6, 2018 Posted by | Northern Territory, rare earths | Leave a comment

Northern Territory to unveil plan for 50% renewables

Northern Territory to release 50% renewables plan next week http://reneweconomy.com.au/northern-territory-release-50-renewables-plan-next-week-18260/ By Giles Parkinson on 24 November 2017 As Australia’s national energy policy enter a new hiatus – as the industry awaits some text to be inserted into the thought bubbles around the proposed National Energy Guarantee- some states and territories are getting on with their own plans.

The Labor government in the Northern Territory is expected next week, and possibly as early as Monday, to unveil the detail of its roadmap to a 50 per cent renewable energy target.

The government last year commissioned a special panel to put together the plan, which could result in some 400MW or more of mostly solar capacity in the territory over the next decade – not a huge sum by any means, but still significant given the potential investment droughts elsewhere.

As in other states, Labor has a diametrically opposite view to the conservative parties. Former LNP leader  and chief minister Adam Giles was an ardent critic of renewables, and now works for Australia’s richest person, the mining magnate Gina Rinehart.

 The Labor government in the NT is taking a similar approach as the Labor government in Queensland with its 50 per cent renewable energy target, although the Queensland plans hinge on the outcome of the state election on Saturday. The results seem impossible to predict.

Victoria’s Labor government, meanwhile, has legislated a 40 per cent renewable energy target by 2025, and is conducting a 650MW auction – the largest ever in Australia – while the ACT has already contracted with some 700MW of wind and solar to meet its 100 per cent renewable energy target by 2020.

South Australia’s Labor government has already met its 50 per cent renewable energy target, and is keen on adding more, with numerous large scale solar, wind and storage projects lining up in the state.

The Northern Territory is almost entirely reliant on gas and diesel, and has three small grids – around Darwin, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs, and a host of stand alone systems and micro-grids in its many remote communities.

Alice Springs has made a major push into solar – including 12MW of rooftop solar and the 4MW Uterne solar system (the first large scale system in Australia) – and is installing a 5MW battery storage unit to help allow more solar into its small grid.

The Department of Defence is also making a major push into solar, announcing tenders for a total of 12.5MW of utility-scale solar for the RAAF base and barracks in and around Darwin.

The advisory panel was appointed by the government last December and asked to deliver a roadmap by mid year.

It was chaired by remote power system expert Alan Langworthy, and including Katherine Howard, former Australian Renewable Energy Agency chair Greg Bourne, Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie, and Lyndon Frearson, the head of solar and storage specialists Ekistica.

November 24, 2017 Posted by | energy, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Planning for the town of Jabiru to be rejuvenated as uranium mining ends

Jabiru: the Kakadu mining town facing closure seeks a fresh start  The town of 1,000 people is supposed to disappear as the Ranger uranium mine closes, but locals want to give it a new future as a tourism hub, Guardian, Helen Davidson, 24 July 17

Jabiru is a small town on a countdown.

Deep inside Kakadu national park, the tiny network of bush-lined streets and a tired shopping precinct was originally built in 1982 to service the community of workers from the Ranger uranium mine. It remains home to just over 1,000 people, a quarter of whom are Indigenous, and serves as a hub for more than 300 people living on nearby outstations.

It has also grown to become a base for the 210,000 odd tourists who visit Kakadu each year, many of them staying at the smattering of caravan parks and crocodile-shaped hotels on their way through.

But Energy Resources Australia is required to wrap up its operations and rehabilitate the site when its lease expires in 2021, after losing the support of its parent company, Rio Tinto, to open another mine.

That means returning the land – including Jabiru – to a pre-mine state, taking the electricity and airport with it.

 Almost no one wants the town to be fully rehabilitated, but in the absence of an alternative plan, ERA is continuing with its obligations to shut it down within four years……..

The uncertainty is already having an impact, with a number of businesses having closed their doors in recent years, unable to secure loans or find buyers without a guaranteed future.

The West Arnhem Regional Council has provided assurances that it will remain in the region, servicing the Indigenous communities.

“Jabiru is the town in this region. There’s nothing else between Coolalinga [near Darwin] and Gunbalanya [in Arnhem Land],” says Justin O’Brien, chief executive of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation.

Gundjeihmi, which represents the Mirarr traditional owners of the park, is working with the federal and territory governments, and ERA, on an alternative plan for the town.

O’Brien is optimistic, and says ERA’s study was based on “full demolition” scenarios.

“They are a narrow focus on what would occur if nothing else happened.”

Last year the Mirarr were legally recognised by the federal court as the native title holders of the land Jabiru sits on, and are negotiating a township lease……

The airstrip, connected to the Ranger mine, has a future three years longer than the town under the current closure plans – it would be demolished in 2025. If it disappeared it would be devastating for the tourism industry, O’Brien says.

“Jabiru and Kakadu might not be kicking the goals in tourism we think it could and should be, but it’s all that’s on offer at the moment. In the peak season it can be difficult getting a bed.”

Bob McDonald, director of Kakadu Air, which has operated from the Jabiru airstrip running scenic flights over Kakadu for 36 years, declines to talk about the report, but tells Guardian Australia he is “extremely optimistic” and the current planning is “a great opportunity for the normalisation of Jabiru”. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/24/jabiru-kakadu-mining-town-facing-closure-seeks-fresh-start

July 24, 2017 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

North Korea’ latest intercontinental ballistic missile would be able to hit Darwin

Australia now within range of new North Korean missile, as calculations show it could fly far enough to hit Darwin

  • The ‘landmark’ test of a Hwasong-14 missile was overseen by leader Kim Jong-Un
  • It was fired from a site in the North Phyongan province into the Sea of Japan
  • It is believed to have reached an altitude of 2802 km and flew 933 km
  • The North has long sought to build nuclear missiles capable of reaching the US
  • Weapons analysts say the missile has the capability to travel up to 6,700km
  • Darwin is only 5,750km from Pyongyang, putting Australia into the firing line

Experts say the missile could reach a maximum range of 6,700km on a standard trajectory, meaning it would be able to hit Darwin, which is 5,750km from Pyongyang.

David Wright, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote on the organisation’s allthingsnuclear blog that the available figures implied the missile ‘could reach a maximum range of roughly 6,700 km on a standard trajectory’.

‘That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska.’ …………http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4664328/Australia-range-new-North-Korean-missile.html#ixzz4ltt8SE9M

July 5, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Senator Scott Ludlam asks some inconvenient questions on the cleanup of the Ranger uranium mine

Environment and Communications Legislation Committee 23/05/2017 Estimates
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY PORTFOLIO
Clean Energy Regulator

Full Transcript: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;adv=yes;orderBy=customrank;page=0;query=Dataset%3AcomSen,estimate%20Dataset_Phrase%3A%22estimate%22%20CommitteeName_Phrase%3A%22environment%20and%20communications%20legislation%20committee%22%20Questioner_Phrase%3A%22ludlam,%20sen%20scott%22;rec=5;resCount=Default

CHAIR: I welcome the Office of the Supervising Scientist.

Senator LUDLAM: I understand that ERA is in the process of starting to get on with closing the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu and have notified stakeholders—presumably including yourselves—that they are intending to vary the way that they are depositing the tailings back into pit 3, and that they are proposing to change from an aerial tailings deposition to subaqueous deposition. For the non-specialists, could you describe maybe in plain English the difference in technique they are proposing.

Mr Tayler : The previous tailings deposition methodology had tailings being dredged from the tailings dam and tailings coming from the mill being deposited onto a beach, essentially. The new methodology that ERA is proposing involves depositing tailings through water; hence the subaqueous versus subaerial. Essentially, it was being put onto a tailings beach; the new method will be depositing it through the water column itself.

Senator LUDLAM: Is the decommissioning of the mine being treated as a nuclear action under the EPBC Act?

Mr Tayler : No.

Senator LUDLAM: Can you describe for us why not?

Mr Tayler : I would prefer that questions specific to the EPBC Act were directed to the Environmental Standards Division, or we could take it on notice if that is okay.

Senator LUDLAM: I think that is fair enough. If you can take it on notice, but I guess the answer is not going to come from you, is it? I think we have already let these people go.

Mr Tayler : Yes, it is a legal point, and I would not want to comment on that in case I got it wrong.

Senator LUDLAM: That is fine. I understand there is an interception trench, which intersects the saline plume coming out from under the tailings storage facility. We have been asking your predecessors in this office for years about this. My understanding is that ERA is currently monitoring that plume of saline water. There is a certain amount of dewatering that is being done. How long is it expected that monitoring and dewatering operations would continue beyond 2020?

Mr Tayler : In relation to the seepage—

Senator LUDLAM: In 2026, I beg your pardon. In relation to the monitoring of that saline plume and the dewatering.

Mr Tayler : Specifically related to the tailings dam?

Senator LUDLAM: Yes.

Mr Tayler : That is not information that we currently have. It is on ERA’s work program to conduct some detailed groundwater modelling of the TSF footprint. The TSF will not be decommissioned for several years yet, so I could not give you a specific answer to that question at this time.

Senator LUDLAM: When is the expected decommissioning date for the tailings storage facility?

Mr Tayler : I would have to take that on notice for the exact date. I believe it was towards the end of the rehabilitation process, which would put it in the 2024-25 period, but I will confirm that for you.

Senator LUDLAM: I will tell you what the purpose of these questions is: we have a plume of saline water that ERA was a bit reluctant to concede even existed, seeping out from under the dam, carrying goodness knows what other processed chemicals and radionuclides and whatever with it. We have the company with interception trenches, possibly bores, trying to get a sense of how much water is falling out the bottom of the TSF. We have an interception trench which is allowing them to remove some of that water and presumably process it and clean it up. That is a very active process of maintenance. How long is it anticipated to last?

Mr Tayler : Yes, I understand the question. At this stage, I do not have sufficient information to answer that question.

Senator LUDLAM: In terms of a yes/no. Is that because you do not have it at the table or you do not think that knowledge exists at this time?

Mr Tayler : I do not think that knowledge exists at this time. We need ERA to complete some proposed groundwater modelling. That will model the movement of that plume. That will give some indication of how long that plume will take to move, how long it will take to dilute and what management, if any management, will be required. That work has not yet been undertaken.

Senator LUDLAM: It is 2017. How does the ERA not know that already? I have been asking about this for about eight years, and this was an issue way before I came along.

Mr Tayler : Operationally, I think the issue has been quite well managed. We can provide an update on that if that would be helpful. From a long-term closure sense, the focus has been on looking at the groundwater impacts from the pits. Further work is still required on quantifying exactly what is beneath the TSF and what that may look like in the future.

Senator LUDLAM: So they still do not really know what is coming out from underneath the dam?

Mr Tayler : In an operational sense, we know very well exactly what is moving now. How that will behave over the long term into the future is not yet quantified.

Senator LUDLAM: Could you provide us with an estimate of how much water is seeping out from under the TSF every year? We have had order of magnitude estimates going back a couple of years.

Mr Tayler : For the whole dam? I would have to take that on notice.

Senator LUDLAM: Thank you. What I am trying to find out is whether that process is still going to be underway beyond 2026 or if it is within the company’s work plan that it is all well and truly done.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, Northern Territory, politics | Leave a comment

Solar power plant for Northern Territory Aboriginal community -cuts reliance on diesel

NT aboriginal community to get 1MW solar plant, cut reliance on diesel, REneweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath on 1 June 2017  One Step Off The Grid

A remote Aboriginal community south of Darwin in the Northern Territory will soon be powered mostly by the sun, thanks to a hybrid solar and diesel generation plant being built as part of the Territory government’s SETuP program.

The Daly River project will see the construction of a 1MW solar facility, that is expected to provide 100 per cent of the local Nauiyu community’s energy needs during the day, relegating the diesel generators for use only at night and as back-up…….

…to read the full story on One Step Off The Grid, click here

This article was originally published on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, which focuses on customer experience with distributed generation.  http://reneweconomy.com.au/nt-aboriginal-community-get-1mw-solar-plant-cut-reliance-diesel-59838/

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Northern Territory, solar | Leave a comment

News on fracking in Australia

Renowned scientist Tim Flannery warns NT against investing in gas
The former chief commissioner of Australia’s Climate Council says the NT should take heed of the risks posed by hydraulic fracturing when considering gas projects such as the proposed Jemena pipeline.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-06/tim-flannery-warns-against-nt-pipeline/8502186

Western Australia
Tribunal rules against Indigenous anti-fracking protestor in WA
An Aboriginal man who has spent more than two years protesting mining companies from a makeshift camp in northern WA declares victory, despite a tribunal ruling likely to end his campaign.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-05/tribunal-rules-against-anti-fracking-protester/8501544

May 7, 2017 Posted by | legal, Northern Territory, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Pine Gap critically involved in USA – North Korea antagonism

Pine Gap ‘on standby’ as tensions rise between the US and North Korea, Debra Killalea news.com.audebra.killalea@news.com.au @DebKillalea IF Kim Jong-un is planning a missile attack, one strategic military and intelligence facility should know all about it. And it’s in the centre of our country.

IF Kim Jong-un is planning to launch a missile at Australia or US interests there’s one strategic intelligence facility that should know all about it.

And it’s right in the centre of our own country.

The secretive Pine Gap spy base has a vast array of signals intelligence capabilities and you can bet it will be monitoring Kim Jong-un’s every word.

Run by both Australia and the United States, the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is located about 20km from Alice Springs.

The remote site is considered strategically vital by both the US and Australian governments and it is used to collect a wide range of signals intelligence as well as providing information on early warning of ballistic missile launches. The flat landscape away from any city ensures the secretive site has a lack of interference.

It also contributes to and collects data used for US drones in the Middle East and Pakistan and it has access to satellites that could spy on most continents, bar the Americas and Antarctica

And while personnel based there are always searching for intelligence, they are now understood to be on standby following escalating tensions between North Korea and the US, according to the NT News.

According to the report, the US has notified Australia that it’s prepared to shoot down any missiles launched as North Korea escalates its threats. Continue reading

April 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

ERA boss pushes nuclear power as energy source for Australia

Top End uranium miner pushes nuclear power into Australia’s future energy mix as supply debate continues, ABC Rural By Carl Curtain “….Energy Resources Australia (ERA), which operates a uranium mine near Jabiru, held its annual general meeting in Darwin on Wednesday.

With Australia in the grip of a so-called energy crisis as a major gas shortage looms in 2018, chairman Peter Mansell did not miss the opportunity to press his company’s view on the national debate underway.

While he made it clear any future expansion of Ranger uranium mine depended on economic viability, he said a national discussion on nuclear power would provide a boost to the sector.

Although mining ceased at the site in 2012, stockpiled ore continues to be processed, with the operating lease due to expire in 2021.

ERA also holds an option to expand underground via its mothballed Ranger 3 Deeps project, but would face resistance from traditional owners……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-12/energy-resources-australia-uranium-mining-nuclear-power-agm/8438800

April 14, 2017 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment