Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

More bribery to Kimba and Hawker communities as nuclear waste dump ballot nears

Robyn Wood, 9 Oct 19, More bribes for both Kimba and Flinders communities to sway the vote. This government is so blatant. To say the community needs mental health support for those distressed by the dump is a massive insult. My excerpts with underlining of the unbelievable bits:

A range of projects and initiatives can meet the criteria for funding through the program, including local infrastructure upgrades, services, apprenticeships and mental health initiativesThe funding is not dependant on the results of the upcoming ballots which will take place in the District Council of Kimba and the Flinders Ranges Council. An additional $31 million will also be available through a Community Development Package for the community chosen to host the proposed facility.

Federal government announces $4 million funding program for communities in radioactive waste debate, Transcontinental

A new benefit program has been announced for communities at the crux of the radioactive waste facility debate.

The federal government has revealed a $4 million funding program for each of the two communities considering the facility, around Kimba and Wallerberdina Station.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the new funding is a response to community feedback and reflected the delays in the site selection process.

Consultation on the proposed facility commenced in 2016.

“We recognise that the communities have engaged in debate in good faith and we remain committed to supporting them through the site selection process. This investment will support the communities as well as deliver projects and initiatives that can further diversify the local economies,” he said.

“The Flinders Ranges and Kimba are great country places that I have had the pleasure to get to know better through this process.

“We have been listening to the community and we are responding, particularly with respect to investing in services that support the wellbeing of people in these local communities.”

A range of projects and initiatives can meet the criteria for funding through the program, including local infrastructure upgrades, services, apprenticeships and mental health initiatives.

The funding is not dependant on the results of the upcoming ballots which will take place in the District Council of Kimba and the Flinders Ranges Council.

An additional $31 million will also be available through a Community Development Package for the community chosen to host the proposed facility.

Radioactive waste is currently spread over more than 100 locations around Australia and the federal government wants to see it consolidated into a single purpose built facility in line with international best practice.

But Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney said there is no urgency to move the material and more conversations are needed.

“There is no radioactive waste management crisis in Australia,” he said.

“95 per cent of the material that will head to any site in South Australia is currently in secure storage under federal control today, and it will be tomorrow, and it will be for a year and can be for 35 more years.

“The federal regulator, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, has said repeatedly that there’s no urgency to move the most severe and the most problematic material which is the intermediate level waste which is currently based at Lucas heights in Sydney.”

Voting commences in the District Council of Kimba this week, while the Flinders Ranges Council have confirmed that it will hold a community ballot between November 11 and December 12.

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October 10, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Dr Jim Green addresses Australia’s Federal Nuclear Inquiry

Dr Green: Thanks for the invitation to speak. Mr O’Brien, I would respectfully ask you to revisit and reconsider your express view that small modular reactors and other new technologies are leading to ‘cleaner, safer and more efficient energy production’. That argument would be compelling if there were fleets or networks of these SMRs operating anywhere in the world and operating successfully, but as you know, and as Dr Switkowski mentioned in his testimony, there are no such networks anywhere in the world, so we have no idea if or how a network of SMRs might operate in Australia. Further, there isn’t even one single SMR operating anywhere in the world. There isn’t even one prototype SMR operating anywhere in the world. So operating SMRs, of which there are precisely none, clearly provide no basis for arguing that new technologies are leading to cleaner, safer and more efficient energy production.

The next level of evidence that we would logically turn to would be SMRs under construction. And if we ignore the icebreakers, and the floating nuclear power plant under construction by the Chinese and Russian governments, then we’re left with just two SMRs under construction. One is the disaster in Argentina, which has been several decades in gestation. The latest cost estimate for that is $32.4 billion per gigawatt, so wildly uncompetitive. The second one is China’s high-temperature SMR. There’s not a great deal that we know about that reactor, but we do know that plans for 18 further high-temperature SMRs at the same site have been dropped—to use the language from the World Nuclear Association. There have clearly been cost overruns. There have clearly been delays. It’s not terribly promising.

Given the absence of any operating SMRs and the unpromising nature of the two under construction, or the two relevant ones under construction, the argument that SMRs are leading to cleaner, safer and more efficient energy production could only possibly be justified with reference to paper designs until the unproven claim is promoted by the nuclear industry. It ought to be obvious, and I’m sure it is obvious, to everyone here that paper designs and corporate claims are no basis for public policy, especially given the history of the past decade.
The current cost estimates for EPR reactors in the UK are seven times greater than the estimates going back to the mid 2000s—not seven per cent greater or even 70 per cent greater but 700 per cent greater. It’s even worse in the United States where the current cost estimates for AP1000 reactors are 10 times greater than the numbers being floated by Westinghouse in 2006, a 1,000 per cent increase. So we need to be incredibly sceptical with corporate cost claims. I think a good starting point for those claims is to add a zero onto the end and it’s a good chance that your estimate would be better than the company estimates.

NuScale is said to be the next big thing in the SMR world, if only because most of its competitors have collapsed. It’s notable that the South Australian royal commission’s estimate of NuScale costs is 2.4 times higher than NuScale’s own estimate. That’s highly significant because if NuScale can deliver power at its projected costs it will certainly be competitive. But if the royal commission’s figures are correct, as I believe they will be and quite possibly understanding the real costs, then it’s not going to be competitive. The royal commission’s figure was $225 per megawatt hour……….

The private sector is not prepared to bet billions of dollars on SMRs, not even to get a prototype up and running. This is what we see in the US, the UK, Canada and elsewhere. It will not build a single prototype in the absence of very large amounts of taxpayer subsidies, amounting at a bare minimum to hundreds of millions of dollars and almost certainly into the billions of dollars. To date governments are resisting. The British government has invested tens of millions of pounds in grants, but that would need to be increased by one to two orders of magnitude if a single prototype is to be built, let alone a fleet of SMRs. In the US, government largesse has amounted to roughly half a billion dollars. Once again, it’s not even close to getting a single prototype off the ground. The debate in Canada is at an earlier stage, and they haven’t come up with any serious ideas about how they’re going to get a single prototype SMR funded, let alone a fleet of SMRs.

The only thing that would actually change in Australia if the ban against nuclear power were repealed is that nuclear companies would descend on Canberra to try to gouge as much taxpayer money as they could possibly get from the federal government.  That would be the one practical change. Dr Switkowski told the committee that, because of Australia’s prohibition against nuclear power, the US company TerraPower can’t collaborate with an Australian company. But if an Australian company were rich or brave or crazy enough to invest in TerraPower, they’d be most welcome. TerraPower, like all of these other companies, has no intention of building even a single prototype in the absence of huge taxpayer subsidies. So, once again, if Australia’s legal prohibition against nuclear power were repealed, the only change would be that TerraPower company representatives would be lined up outside ministerial offices trying to stitch together a package of direct and indirect taxpayer subsidies.

There are dozens of start-ups involved in the SMR sector and the advanced reactor sector. There are said to be well over 50 in the United States alone. But if all of those companies pooled all of their money into one single pot it’s highly doubtful they would have enough money to build one single prototype—hence the attempts to get billions of dollars of taxpayer money. The executive summary from our joint NGO submission includes a very long and growing list of failed SMR and advanced reactor projects, and there have been further failures in the short time since this committee was initiated.
Finally, Mr O’Brien, in light of the findings of the South Australian royal commission, I would ask you to reconsider your expressed view that SMRs are leading to cleaner, safer and more efficient energy production. The royal commission investigated these issues in detail. It commissioned expert research, and the royal commission concluded:

… fast reactors or reactors with other innovative designs are unlikely to be feasible or viable in South Australia in the foreseeable future. No licensed and commercially proven design is currently operating. Development to that point would require substantial capital investment. Moreover, the electricity generated has not been demonstrated to be cost-competitive with current light water reactor designs……

October 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Julian Assange and Wikileaks have exposed nuclear scandals

What we know about nuclear weapons and the nuclear industry thanks to WikiLeaks

“The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded on 11 October. Why I support the nomination of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.” Open Democracy, Felicity Ruby, 7 October 2019  The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded on 11 October. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have been nominated for the prize again this year, as they have since 2010. As the first staffer of the campaign that won the Peace Prize in 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), I support this nomination for a number of reasons.

The vast majority of governments on this planet want nuclear disarmament negotiations to occur and produce results. ICAN has been mobilising this willingness to push for a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons. From the outset, the campaign deployed accurate information to mobilise public opinion and reeducate a new generation. In facing the truth about nuclear dangers, answers became available and courageous action was taken. Facing the truth about climate change similarly involves the public having accurate information and courageously acting on it.
WikiLeaks and Assange have made a great deal of information available about nuclear weapons and the nuclear industry. A search on the WikiLeaks site for the word ‘nuclear’ brings up 284, 493 results. These documents traverse the nuclear fuel cycle – from uranium mining to nuclear waste – with many thousands exposing nuclear energy industry giants, and nuclear weapon threat assessments, numbers, doctrines and negotiations.
Ten examples

Below are just ten examples of where WikiLeaks exposed wrongdoing on the part of governments and corporations that meant citizens could take action to protect themselves from harm, or governments were held to account:

– Chalk River nuclear reactor shut down – released 11 January 2008 – Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on Chalk River reactor

After the Chalk River nuclear reactor was shut down for routine maintenance on 18 November 2007, inspectors verified the reactor’s cooling systems had not been modified as required by an August 2006 licensing review. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) did not start the reactor but said upgrades could be done as part of maintenance while still operating safely. This impasse lasted a month, with the government intervening to grant an exemption to the reactor to allow its restart. The responsible Minister for Natural Resources, Gary Lunn MP, fired Linda Keen, the President of the Nuclear Safety Commission. Their exchange of letters revealed much about the safety standards and routine practices of the Canadian nuclear regulatory system, and particular problems with the ageing Chalk River reactor previously unknown to the public.

– Footage of the 1995 disaster at the Japanese Monju nuclear reactor – released 25 January 2008
Following the 2008 announcement that the Japanese Monju fast breeder nuclear reactor would be reopened, activists leaked the suppressed video footage of the sodium spill disaster that led to its closure in 1995. Named after the Buddhist divinity of wisdom, Monju, located in Japan’s Fukui prefecture, is Japan’s only fast-breeder reactor. Unlike conventional reactors, fast-breeder reactors, which “breed” plutonium, use sodium rather than water as a coolant. This type of coolant creates a potentially hazardous situation as sodium is highly corrosive and reacts violently with both water and air. On December 8, 1995, 700 kg of molten sodium leaked from the secondary cooling circuit of the Monju reactor, resulting in a fire that did not result in a radiation leak, but the potential for catastrophe was played down the extent of damage at the reactor and denied the existence of a videotape showing the sodium spill. Further complicating the story, the deputy general manager of the general affairs department at the PNC, Shigeo Nishimura, 49, jumped to his death the day after a news conference where he and other officials revealed the extent of the cover-up.

– Serious nuclear accident lay behind Iranian nuke chief’s mystery resignation – released 16 July 2009 WikiLeaks revealed that a source associated with Iran’s nuclear program confidentially told the organisation of a serious, recent, nuclear accident at Natanz. Natanz is the primary location of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program and the site targeted with the Stuxnet worm that contained 4 zero days and was designed to slow down and speed up centrifuges enriching uranium. WikiLeaks had reason to believe the source was credible, however contact with this source was lost. …………..

WikiLeaks and Assange have brought forward many truths that are hard to face, publishing well over 10 million documents since 2006. Often forgotten is that each one was provided by a whistleblower who trusted this platform to publish, and who sought reform of how political, corporate and media power elites operate. Each release has shared genuine official information about how governments, companies, banks, the UN, political parties, jailers, cults, private security firms, war planners and the media actually operate when they think no one is looking.

Assange is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize because of these many releases of information, used as evidence in court cases, freeing prisoners and exposing scandals, torture, murder and surveillance for which redress is only possible when the wrongdoing is dragged into the light. For publishing this true information, Assange, an Australian based in the UK at the time of publication, is on the health ward of Belmarsh Prison, facing extradition and charges attracting 175 years in a US jail, an effective death sentence….. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/what-we-know-about-nuclear-weapons-and-nuclear-industry-thanks-wikileaks/

October 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Federal nuclear waste dump plan- it’s really High Level wastes!

Regina McKenzie‎ to Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA

Thing about this waste dump is, it is not “low” level At all but a Intermediate nuclear waste dump
Intermediate-level waste (ILW) contains higher amounts of radioactivity compared to low-level waste. It generally requires shielding, but not cooling. Intermediate-level wastes includes resins, chemical sludge and metal nuclear fuel cladding, as well as contaminated materials from reactor decommissioning
By standards in Europe, this is classified high , they say it’s only gloves and other stuff, but don’t go into detail about the the intermediate material, what are they really trying to do? Is this the High Level Nuclear Dump by the back door?
Come on South Australia wake up and smell what Canberra is cooking, they want us to be the dump state  https://www.facebook.com/groups/941313402573199/

October 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Climate protest in Perth: arrests in Sydney, Brisbane – Melbourne?

October 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Arrests in the global climate rebellion

Global climate ‘rebellion’ sees mass arrests and blocked roads,  https://www.sbs.com.au/news/global-climate-rebellion-sees-mass-arrests-and-blocked-roads   7 Oct 19, The global environmental movement aims to save the Earth from “extinction”.   Climate protesters from Sydney to New York blocked roads Monday, sparking mass arrests, as they started two weeks of civil disobedience demanding immediate action to save the Earth from “extinction.”The demonstrations, triggered by the group Extinction Rebellion, were mostly limited to a few hundred people in each city, far from the size of last month’s massive Greta Thunberg-inspired demonstrations.

Protesters chained themselves to vehicles and other structures and lay down in the middle of streets in defiance of police across Europe and parts of Asia, Africa and North America.

Protesters chained themselves to vehicles and other structures and lay down in the middle of streets in defiance of police across Europe and parts of Asia, Africa and North America.

Police had made 217 arrests by 17:15 pm (1615 GMT).

“Getting arrested sends a message to the government that otherwise law-abiding citizens are desperate,” IT consultant Oshik Romem, from Israel but working in Britain for 19 years, told AFP while sitting on a road outside parliament.

‘Running out of time’

Hundreds of Australians joined a sit-in on a busy inner Sydney road before being dragged away by the police. Thirty people were later charged.

“We have tried petitions, lobbying and marches, and now time is running out,” Australian activist Jane Morton said.

Australia’s conservative government has resisted adopting new environmental standards and backed lucrative coal exports.

Protests occurred in 60 cities around the world, including New Delhi, Cape Town, Paris, Vienna, Madrid and Toronto.

At New York’s Battery Park, some 200 demonstrators took part in a “funeral march” to Wall Street, where protesters threw fake blood over the financial district’s famous bronze statue of a bull.

“We need imagery like this in order to get people’s attention,” 29-year-old James Comiskey told AFP, as he carried a cardboard coffin in the procession.

‘Burn capitalism!’

The movement is partially credited with pushing the UK government in June to become the first in the Europe Union to commit itself to a net-zero target for harmful emissions by 2050.

Extinction Rebellion is demanding governments reach that target by 2025, as well as holding “citizens assemblies” to decide on policies to achieve that aim.

The parliament in Norway, not an EU member, in June adopted a target of 2030.

There has been less movement in other parts of Europe or the most impacted cities of Asia.

And not everyone out on the streets was impressed with the campaign.

“They’re taking it out on everyday people trying to go about their business. They should go after big people,” London taxi driver Dave Chandler told AFP.

Extinction Rebellion counters that emergencies like the one heating up the climate demands action from everyone across the world.

Hundreds barricaded themselves inside a Paris shopping center for hours over the weekend.  Groups unfurled banners with slogans such as “Burn capitalism, not petrol” above Paris restaurants and fashion boutiques.

And hundreds brought blankets and sleeping bags to one of the main roundabouts in central Berlin which police expect to be shut down for many days.

Extinction Rebellion’s tactics in Australia prompted senior conservative politicians to call for protesters’ welfare payments to be cut.

Sydney assistant police commissioner Mick Willing accused protesters of putting themselves and others at risk, warning that such disruptive protests in the future would “not be tolerated”.

October 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

David Glynne Jones on the unwisdom of nuclear power for Australia in a heating climate

Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia Submission 249  David Glynne Jones

…………4. Australia’s fresh water supplies are already under extreme pressure to meet existing and future environmental flow, agricultural, urban and industrial requirements, and the use of very large quantities of fresh water for the cooling of nuclear power stations is unlikely to be either viable or acceptable.

  1. Consequently the only likely viable option will be to use seawater cooling, requiring nuclear power stations to be located close to the coastline, and with significant environmental impacts on affected coastal waters resulting from water heating and very large water flows.
  1. By comparison, solar photovoltaic and wind turbine generating systems do not require the use of any significant water resources for cooling……..

Energy affordability and reliability

  1. Recent European experience has shown that nuclear power generation is not reliable during extreme heatwave conditions, with nuclear power stations being required to operate at reduced power levels or shutdown completely.
  1. Given that the future climate outlook for Australia is longer hotter heatwaves during the summer, this must be given serious consideration in any decision to adopt nuclear power generation in Australia.
  1. There is no evidence that nuclear power generation using either LMR or SMR technology can compete with other emerging 21st century electricity generation technologies, which are evolving at an increasingly high rate and have gained broad market investor confidence.
  1. The AEMO/CSIRO GenCost 2018 report projects capital and operating costs for both LMR and SMR technology at uncompetitive levels for the foreseeable future.
  1. There is no evidence of market investor appetite for nuclear power generation investment in the absence of government subvention.
  1. The UK SMR program has a NOAK target of GBP 60/MWh (~ AUD 110/MWh), but this cannot be demonstrated until a significant number of reactors haved been built and operated for a significant period. The FOAK target is GBP 75/MWh (~ AUD 140/MWh).
    1. The report found that “Investing in a nuclear power plant is uneconomical. This This
      holds for all plausible ranges of specific investment costs, weighted average cost of
      capital, and wholesale electricity prices”.

      1. Economic feasibility
      2. A recent report published by the German Institute for Economic Research (known  as DIW Berlin) reviewed the development of 674 nuclear power plants built since 1951, finding that none of the plants was built using ‘private capital under competitive conditions’. A full copy of the report is available at https://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.670581.de/dwr-19-30-

      1.pdf. holds for all plausible ranges of specific investment costs, weighted average cost of  capital, and wholesale electricity prices”.

      1. It would be sensible for the Committee to seek input from the energy investment
        1. It is highly unlikely that the commercial insurance industry would ever be prepared
          1. The cost of firmed renewable-generated electricity is already as low as AUD
            1. For a proposed Australian nuclear power generation industry capacity of 20 GWeThe report found that the expected economic loss for a 1000 MWe (1 GWe) nuclear power station would be in the range of Euro 1.5-8.9 billion – approximately AUD 2.4-14.4 billion).this would translate to a future economic loss in the range of approximately AUD50-300 billion………..

            10.The biggest risk for potential market investors in nuclear power generation is the future uncertainty created by competing technologies, given that there is currently no operational evidence that nuclear power generation can ever compete directly with other electricity generation technologies. 70/MWh (https://reneweconomy.com.au/stunning-low-costs-inspire-alinta-to-rampup-renewables-push-flag-early-coal-exit-82836/), and is likely to reduce further over the next two decades.

          12.Australia has a superabundance of solar energy resources – the largest of any nation state in the world. At current solar energy conversion efficiencies Australia has the potential to produce 30% of the world’s current electricity demand from just 1% of its land area (by comparison agriculture uses 53% of Australia’s land area).

          13.The increasing technological and commercial viability of long distance HVDC transmission means that Australia will be able to export highly competitive low cost renewably generated electricity directly to the Asian market. to underwrite the risks of catastrophic failure, and consequently this will need to be underwritten by government (ie taxpayers), as is currently the case in other countries with nuclear power industries. and insurance industries.

 

October 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young defending the right to peacefully protest

The right to peacefully protest is at the core of our democracy. Home affairs Minister Peter Dutton threat to cancel welfare payments of climate protesters is an attempt to silence their views and is completely inappropriate.

Rather than resort to serious threats and attempt to shut down community views, the Government should come up with a national plan for dealing with the climate crisis that we’re in.

Article: Peter Dutton opens door to cancelling welfare of climate protesters, The Australian:
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/…/4907f2938e9099f2f7db1680…

October 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

Labor challenge to nuclear power fan MP Keith Pitt – where would you put nuclear reactors?

October 6, 2019 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Australia’s drought disaster a political disaster too, for its climate-sceptic Morrison govt?

Inadequate drought preparation may prove to be political disaster too, Brisbane Times, Tony Walker  4 Oct 19

Panicky. That’s a word to describe the Morrison government’s response to a national drought emergency. Lack of rain, arid conditions, scorching winds and higher temperatures are contributing to an evolving disaster against the background of a contentious climate change debate.

This is a challenge that will become increasingly difficult for the governments, federal and state, to ignore as water supplies run down in New South Wales towns such as Dubbo and Queensland towns such as Stanthorpe. Risks of bushfire will be further elevated.Judging by Bureau of Meteorology forecasts, drought over much of eastern Australia is set to surpass all others in living memory going back to the beginning of record keeping. In other words, things may get a lot worse before they get better. What is left unspoken by government officials and farm representatives is this aridity will prove to be the new normal. Let’s repeat these words in capitals: NATIONAL DROUGHT EMERGENCY.

It might also be observed that no less than a drought emergency, this is a POLITICAL EMERGENCY for the Morrison government. Governmental responses, both federal and state, to a catastrophic dry across central and northern New South Wales and southern Queensland have been unfocused, according to farm representatives. Tony Mahar, chief executive of the National Farmers’ Federation, the peak body for Australian farmers, awards federal and state governments a “fail” when it comes to developing a national drought strategy to deal with emergencies. “No government, red or blue, has successfully nailed drought policy,” Mahar tells me.

Government inattention may well reflect agriculture’s diminishing share of the national economy at just three per cent of Gross Domestic Product. On the other hand, 1.6 million jobs reside in the complete agricultural supply chain. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s dash – on his return to Australia from a state visit to the United States – to Dalby in the heart of drought-stricken southern Queensland to announce a $100-million relief package as part of an overall $7-billion allocation reflects government political concerns.

Morrison himself would not need reminding that the 2001-2010 millennium drought contributed to John Howard’s undoing, given he was perceived – rightly or wrongly – to be indifferent to climate change. At least six Coalition seats are at risk in the face of seething local anger over water mismanagement, or no management at all. In all of this, what tends to be overlooked is that the government has a wafer-thin majority of one after the Speaker is excluded……….
Finally, the latest Bureau of Meteorology bulletin provides little encouragement to believe that drought conditions will ease in the short term. The BOM reports the lowest rainfall on record extending from the Great Dividing Range as far as Dubbo and Walgett in central NSW. This is a huge swathe of the country under some of the most extreme drought conditions in the history of white settlement. Only the peak of the terrible 1900-02 “Federation Drought” was worse.
This is bad enough but meteorologists at the BOM are also reporting that a phenomenon known as sudden strategic warming above the South Pole risks contributing to a further deepening of the drought. The SSW effect would cause warmer westerly winds to track north, intensifying drought conditions in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. If those forecasts prove correct, distinctions between a natural disaster and a national emergency will certainly become moot. Regardless, in a cloudless sky, these weather conditions will constitute an accelerating political emergency.  https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/governments-scandalously-little-drought-preparation-is-accelerating-disaster-20191004-p52xmv.html

October 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

With temperatures heading for 40C, New South Wales and Queensland at bushfire risk

Large swathes of NSW at bushfires risk as temperatures set to reach 40Cm 
Bourke and Brewarrina brace for 40C day as dust storms set to sweep western parts of state, Guardian,
Australian Associated Press, Sun 6 Oct 2019  The Bureau of Meteorology says an unseasonal heatwave hitting western and north-western New South Wales could demolish October heat records and place large swathes of the state at bushfire risk.While Sydney’s top temperature was expected to reach a mild 23C on Sunday, Bourke and Brewarrina braced for their first 40C day since March.

Wilcannia, Cobar and Dubbo were also set to exceed 37C while dust was forecast for most parts west of Griffith and Bourke.

The BoM warned the fire danger rating in almost every NSW/ACT region was high or very high for Sunday, prompted by heat, high winds and low humidity.

By early afternoon, no bushfires were rated higher than “advice” alert level.

Meteorologist Jake Phillips said the bureau was particularly concerned by conditions to the west of the Great Dividing Range. “It’s quite unusual to see temperatures this warm,” Phillips said.

“In large areas of the state we’re seeing daytime temperatures between 8C and 12C above average for this time of the year, and in some places more.

“As we move into tomorrow, it’s quite likely we will see some places getting pretty close to or maybe breaking October records, the most likely areas being the northern tablelands and north-west slopes.”

Very high fire danger was forecast in ACT and 10 NSW regions: greater Hunter, central ranges, southern ranges, Monaro alpine, lower central west plains, upper central west plains, far western, New England, northern slopes and north western. On Sunday afternoon none were yet subject to total fire bans.

All other regions except eastern Riverina had a high fire danger rating…..

The BoM said Queensland was also set to scorch through another heatwave this week, with hot, dry and windy conditions increasing fire danger, particularly in the south-east….. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/oct/06/bushfire-danger-soars-as-parts-of-nsw-forecast-to-reach-40c

October 6, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales, Queensland | Leave a comment

Tasmanian renewable energy projects tipped to pour $6.5 billion in state’s economy

Tasmanian renewable energy projects tipped to pour $6.5 billion in state’s economy, Examiner, Matt Maloney and Rob Inglis   6 Oct 19,

Premier Will Hodgman says the state will benefit from an economic injection of $6.5 billion through two key renewable energy projects.

The cash windfall was announced during Mr Hodgman’s keynote address to delegates at the Tasmanian Liberal Party state conference on Sunday.

Mr Hodgman said the business case for a second interconnector was stronger after new analysis from TasNetworks showed the Marinus Link project would be able to transport a higher amount of energy to the mainland as previously anticipated……. https://www.examiner.com.au/story/6423824/states-energy-potential-better-than-anticipated/?cs=95

October 6, 2019 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Energy Efficiency the FIRST FUEL – a top Submission from Brenda Hugget

Submission to the Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia Brenda Huggett  Submission 235

My submission will mainly focus on these two terms of reference:

  1. energy affordability and reliability
  2. Economic feasibility

The invitation to make a submission to this inquiry is headed by this statement:

The Australian Government supports an energy system which delivers affordable and reliable energy to consumers while fulfilling Australia’s international emissions reduction obligations.

I thoroughly endorse this aim, but would like to ensure that the Committee of Inquiry draws into this‘energy system’ a serious effort towards ENERGY EFFICIENCY – what the international Energy Agency and the G7 Ministers at their 2016 Japan meeting called the ‘first fuel’ – with its massive potential to power industry and homes cheaply, incrementally and with zero risks or cost blowouts.

At the same time the National Electricity Market is seeing a significant increase in capacity in intermittent low emissions generation technologies…

I believe this sentence should have been followed with “However the dramatic developments in a range of options to store PV and wind energy for ‘when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow’ (the folksy way to refer to the ‘intermittency’ of renewables!) just may – over the coming decade or so – show Australia that it really can rely on renewables so we can truly phase out the last of our fossil fuel energy generation altogether, dodging nuclear power entirely.

Meanwhile our nuclear science academics and their grad students can keep a watching brief on nuclear developments overseas, in case we do find around 2030 that there is a real need for the nuclear option. A real need is totally different from a ‘niche’ where some industrialist (eg a Bill Gates, a Gina Rinehart or an Andrew Forrest) could build a nuclear power facility ‘just because they can’ (ie if there is no prohibition) because they have a passion to give it a go and a spare billion for the land, the plant, the phenomenally expensive insurance that presumably our Government would surely insist upon so that the venture can ‘stand on its own two feet’ (as PM Morrison wants!) and a workforce of eager nuclear engineering graduates.

The SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission

Although Commissioner Kevin Scarce recommended lifting the prohibition (which I strongly oppose at this time) the modelling for the Commission suggested that ‘a nuclear power plant would not be viable in South Australia even under carbon pricing policies consistent with achieving the ‘well below 2 °C’ target agreed in Paris because other low-carbon generation would be taken up before nuclear. p62

However Commissioner Scarce did recommend that the SA government collaborate with the Australian Government to ‘commission expert monitoring and reporting on the commercialisation of new nuclear reactor designs that may offer economic value for nuclear power generation.’ This sounds like a very sensible thing to do at this stage!

Small Modular Reactors

I appreciate that there must be no-one left in Australia who harbours a desire to see a huge ‘traditional’ nuclear power plant built anywhere. Rather the attention of nuclear enthusiasts has been diverted to SMR’s. There are many and varied types of Small Modular Reactors on drawing boards around the planet, reactors that can be factory-made, niftily deployed (only a couple of years, not decades, of work) and because they are small (producing only 300MW or less) the number of reactors at any plant can be scaled up or down according to demand. These drawing board SMR’s utilise a range of differing technologies some of which can be classified as ‘Generation IV’ initiatives and some which are just scaled down versions of earlier technology. Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia

These developments can and undoubtedly are all being monitored by Australian nuclear scientists, who can be presumed to also be monitoring ongoing developments in the quest for fusion pow

Tony Irwin of Sydney-based SMR Nuclear Technology complains (p. 14 of his submission)

that ‘serious consideration of the merits of N-power generation in Australia is precluded by our legislative prohibitions’. This is spurious at best! Nuclear Engineering is taught in Australian universities ANU and UNSW and probably more. Yes of course students and graduates will be champing at the bit to apply their learning on their home turf. But they can easily make themselves useful by either monitoring what is happening overseas and/or gaining experience elsewhere. With PhD scholarships, they can like their professors, even be paid by Australian taxpayers to watch and learn.

  Mr Irwin goes on to complain ‘SMR vendors not treating Australia as a potential market while  prohibitions remain.’ Of course these vendors would be fools to do so! We are not a market for any further nuclear technology (except for OPAL at Lucas Heights) while our legislative prohibitions remain in place – which will be until we as the Australian community have come to a conclusion that this new eg NuScale SMR technology has been truly proven up, has overcome all the safety concerns directed at previous nuclear technology, and that the costs are less than renewables+ batteries and moreover that it really is NEEDED!!! (not just ‘wanted/desired/wished for’)

The NuScale SMR project

Mr Irwin refers several times to the NuScale SMR project, based in Oregon. A little Googling shows that the 3 year review by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commissions of this 12000 page proposal should conclude by Sept 2020. One big – and controversial – ask by the company is that the normal requirement for a 32 km wide emergency evacuation zone be waived, because the company is so confident that their SMR will be safe and they would like to promote their technology as suitable for installing on the sites of decommissioned coal-fired power plants. NuScale has indeed lined up its first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, for a plant at Idaho Falls, aiming to open it in 2027.

There is, predictably, local opposition with opponents arguing that it is more expensive than renewables with batteries, it will still produce nuclear waste (for which the US still has no real solution!) and local authorities don’t have the resources to adequately vet a nuclear plant. NuScale may live up to its (admittedly impressive) promise re safety, use of less water, etc. Australia can wait and see!

During these Watch and Learn years, there should absolutely be no lifting of our moratorium on the development of nuclear energy – a moratorium that has no doubt frustrated some, but has clearly satisfied an overwhelming majority of Australians as poll after poll has shown.

If… around 2030 Australia still has a demonstrable shortfall in energy production from renewables + storage AND cutting edge nuclear developments with concomitant waste elimination have been truly proved up then the Australian government would have a much more realistic chance of gaining much-needed ‘social licence’.

However, it may be just too late….

“Solar PV and onshore wind have won the race to be the cheapest sources of new ‘bulk generation’ in most countries. But the encroachment of clean technologies is now going well beyond that, threatening the balancing role that gas-fired plant operators, in particular, have been hoping to play.” Tifenn Brandily, Energy Economics Analyst at BloombergNEF.  https://about.bnef.com/blog/battery-powers-latest-plunge-costs-threatens-coal-gas/#_ftnref1

ENERGY EFFICIENCY as the FIRST FUEL

The Energy Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, the USA, and the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, met in Kitakyushu in May 2016, to discuss developments since the Hamburg meeting held in 2015, against the background of volatile energy prices and the COP21 Paris Agreement. They issued a joint statement for Leaders’ consideration including, under Improving Energy Efficiency:

  1. We affirm that improving energy efficiency is key to decarbonisation of our economies, enhancing energy security and fostering economic growth and should be regarded as the “first fuel.” We aim to strengthen our efforts to further improve energy efficiency and also call on other countries to follow suit.

 We emphasize the importance of the strong interconnection between, and simultaneous improvement of, energy efficiency and resource efficiency

 More to ‘Watch and Learn’ for Australia

In June this year, the International Energy Agency’s held its biggest ever Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in Dublin, attended by over 400 energy efficiency leaders from governments and corporations. The gathering aimed to identify how to unlock the vast potential of energy efficiency, bringing a wide range of important benefits, from greenhouse gas emissions reduction, to improved energy security and supporting economies to grow while delivering environmental and social benefits.

At this Conference a new Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency was launched, comprising government and industry leaders, chaired by Mr Richard Bruton, Ireland’s Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

It notes that energy efficiency policy implementation has slowed and progress is weakening. Global energy-related CO2 emissions increased last year at their highest rate sin The Commission will produce a concise list of clear, actionable recommendations next year.

“No meaningful energy transition can take place without energy efficiency,” the CEO of the IEA, Dr F. Birol said. More than any single fuel, energy efficiency has a central role to play in meeting global sustainable energy goals.

As a keen exponent and part-time worker in the field of energy efficiency education, I am dismayed but not surprised by Australia’s performance vis a vis the regard paid to this ‘first fuel.’

The AEEEC The American Council for an Energy-efficient Economy rates 20+ nations for their efforts towards energy efficiency. Australia is currently ranked at 18th, between Indonesia and the Ukraine. I BELIEVE WE CAN DO SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS!!!!!!!

 The point about Energy Efficiency, seen as a first fuel, and given commensurate support by Federal, state and local governments is that it could replace the 11% of world energy that is currently nucleargenerated and alongside renewables+storage can probably totally displace fossil-fuelled energy generation. I say probably because just maybe in 10 or 20 years we may have to consider whatever is then proved up to be the best nuclear option, to complement efficiency/renewables/storage in some locations in our wide brown land…

October 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

INCIDENTS RELATED TO TRANSPORT OF RADIATION INSTRUMENTS IN AUSTRALIA

Kim Mavromatis No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia, October 2 

INCIDENTS RELATED TO TRANSPORT OF RADIATION INSTRUMENTS IN AUST (ARPANSA Aust Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Authority website identifies transport accidents) : “The most common incidents include vehicles carrying the source (radioactive material) being involved in a road accident or the source falling from the vehicle carrying the source. On other occasions containers may be damaged in transit and subsequently sources (radioactive material) may be dislodged from internal packing and shielding. CAUSES : Human Error, speed, alcohol, fatigue, loose fittings, maintenance, inadequate systems, training, oversight”.

Transport accidents of nuclear waste have occured in Aust, because of human error :

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH / THE ADVERTISER (2012) : TOXIC HIGHWAY : “Why radioactive materials, a banned pesticide and food were on the same truck that crashed on the New South Wales Pacific Highway in 1980 is a mystery. But the political fallout of its roadside burial and discovery 32 years later – which left five contractors vomiting and exposed another 13 workers to possibly lethal toxic waste – will be nothing short of nuclear”.https://www.facebook.com/groups/1314655315214929/

October 4, 2019 Posted by | - incidents, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Climate change the essential factor in planning about droughts

Drought plan must factor in climate change,     https://www.smh.com.au/business/small-business/drought-plan-must-factor-in-climate-change-20191003-p52xfn.html   Lisa Davies, 4 Oct 19,    As country towns across the inland run out of drinking water, the federal government has started to show its concern for farmers affected by the drought.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison went to Dalby in Queensland last week to announce a $100 million drought package and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has taken time off his day job for a three-day tour of NSW and Queensland.

On one hand, country people will be comforted that the government is paying attention to their plight. On the other, they will ask whether another parade of politicians putting on moleskins and fronting a press pack in the dust will make any difference.

As country towns across the inland run out of drinking water, the federal government has started to show its concern for farmers affected by the drought.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison went to Dalby in Queensland last week to announce a $100 million drought package and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has taken time off his day job for a three-day tour of NSW and Queensland.

On one hand, country people will be comforted that the government is paying attention to their plight. On the other, they will ask whether another parade of politicians putting on moleskins and fronting a press pack in the dust will make any difference.

Everyone says the government needs to do something but for now the government’s basic approach is to dribble out more money and hope that it rains.

That is probably all that can be done in a crisis.

But it is not the whole answer. It ignores the crucial issue of what to do if the scientists are right and droughts are becoming longer and more frequent.

This question should not be conflated with the equally important issue of whether Australia should have a stronger climate change policy.

Deeper cuts in Australia’s carbon emissions are needed to help slow the rise in global temperatures but it will not solve the farmers’ problems overnight. Scientists say droughts will get worse for decades.

The Herald  backs drought assistance to help farmers cope but it should be fair and efficient and it should be designed to encourage farmers to adjust to the new climate conditions.

In fact, the Productivity Commission says a lot of money is already being spent. Sheep, cattle and grain farmers in 2017-18 received about $1.3 billion in state and federal government subsidies. Those farmers now receive 5.8 per cent of their income as subsidies from the government, compared with just 3.7 per cent five years ago, a higher rate of subsidy than any industry sector.

Farmers also receive lots of other indirect help such as state subsidies on freight for fodder as well as generous household payments worth up to $37,000 per couple, far more than age pensioners or single parents.

Yet many people who receive drought relief are not poor. The latest drought package has allowed people with assets up to $5 million to apply.

Mr Morrison says this is not welfare but it is still taxpayers’ money and it should be spent prudently.

Sometimes it seems it is not. The government was left red-faced this week when it emerged that Moyne Shire in western Victoria that got $1 million under Mr Morrison’s announcement was not actually affected by the drought. Equally, it appears that former “drought envoy” Barnaby Joyce was was not required to produce a report to justify his salary and expenses.

Many economists are concerned more deeply that the cash will distort farmers’ decisions about how to react to the changing climate. For instance, some drought assistance compensates farmers who decided not to manage their risk by selling stock at a better price early in the drought.

Farmers groups sometimes call for more dams as a panacea. But it is often hard to produce a long-term business case for them. Fans of dams also often ignore the risk that they will reduce water flows to surrounding farms and the environment.

Unfortunately, even with the best government plan, climate change will reshape Australia’s rural society.

Some farmers will adjust their methods and succeed. Some will decide to sell up their farms to big businesses and do something else. Governments should help those in need but rural Australia must accept that the times are changing

 

October 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment