Australian news, and some related international items

Sue Tulloch’s scathing criticism of the federal nuclear waste dump process and shambolic Barndioota Consultative Committee

Sue Tulloch A submission to Senate Standing Committees on Economics  – The appropriateness and thoroughness of the site selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility (NRWMF) at Kimba and Hawker in South Australia, noting the Government has stated that it will not impose such a facility on an unwilling community. (Submission No. 32)

Terms of reference:

b)   how  the need for ‘broad community support’ has played and will continue to play a        part in the process, in particular:

ii)    how  ‘broad community support’ has been or will be determined for each process          advancement stage.

  •  Untenable site nomination process
  • The legitimacy of the Governments’ Orima Survey 
  •  Lack of transparency from the Minister and DIIS Policy Officer
  • Shambolic role of the Bardioota Consultative Committee 
  • whether  wider (Eyre Peninsular of state‐wide) community views should be taken into consideration and, if so, how is this occurring or should be occurring


I am Sue Tulloch, a resident of Quorn, a town within the Flinders Ranges Council district which includes  the site, Barndioota nominated for a NRWMF, a section of the Wallerberdina Pastoral Lease in the northern Flinders Ranges near Hawker. Having with my partner, run the Copley Bakery (northern Flinders Ranges) for 20 years, I know why Australian and overseas visitors want to experience the Flinders Ranges. They perceive the area as having unique wilderness qualities. What would happen if we inserted a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility into this mindset?

Untenable site nomination process

  • The  site was nominated by one individual, Grant Chapman, previously a Federal Government Senator, particularly interested in Australia’s search for a national nuclear waste site for over 20 years, these facts were not publicised.
  • Nobody either next door to the Barndioota site boundary, or in the surrounding  areas were notified at the time.
  • Mr Chapman does not live on this property. He does not live in the designated area, whereas locals who live within the designated area ( Flinders Ranges Council district) have been suddenly lumped with the responsibility  of deciding yes or no to ‘hosting’ the establishment of a NRWMF, the long and short term consequences, impacting all Australians.
  • If this site nomination process (Stage 1) is proven to be untenable, so would the ensuring community consultation process, and the ‘Community Sentiment Survey’.

The legitimacy  of the Governments’ Orima Survey to access broad community consent to proceed to Stage 2.   

The following observations were made after two days of personally studying the governments’  ‘Community Sentiment Survey – Report of Findings’, published by Orima Research in April 2016.

The survey was conducted on behalf of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to determine community sentiment for continuing to the next phase of a public consultation process, ( phase 2 technical assessment ) for the establishment of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) at six nominated sites. I focused on the nominated site of Barndioota and generally found the whole results conflicting and ambiguous from a layman’s point of view.

That the survey contains too many errors and unsubstantiated generalisations to be considered a formal, interpretive report, being  inappropriate for public scrutiny, considering the questionable methodology and data obtained via the pilot and main general population surveys, especially as the future of the whole site selection process apparently seems to depend on it!  (ref 1)

Lack of transparency from the Minister and the Policy Officer

  • I have been frustrated by the general absence of clear answers to my very specific questions sent to Minister Canavan (ref 2,3) and the Policy Officer,      (ref 5, 6)
  • I had a battle (representing myself, no other group), to see the Minister when he visited Hawker (Fri 2/6/17), having followed all protocol including forwarding my questions well beforehand and communicating with the Ministers’ diary secretary, I was asked by the Policy Officer if I had permission to attend.
  • At the meeting, Minister Canavan did answer my question (ref 3 Q 2) saying, the government had no plans for future disposal of the Intermediate Level Waste proposed for the NRWMF.
  • Replies to my correspondence (ref 4, 6) were received, but disappointingly generic in nature.
  • At a meeting with the Dept of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) on June 3 2017,  my questions, despite of the Ministers’ assertion, (ref 4  4th para)   were not addressed.

Shambolic role of the Barndioota Consultative Committee (BCC)

The BCC was established (Nov 2016) by the (DIIS) for ‘ensuring the community is fully engaged and is able to provide input on key aspects of the project throughout its’ next phase’ (NRWMF BCC Guidelines p.1 1.1 2nd para)   However my experience as a public observer at the Dec 2017 BCC meeting, was anything  but  inclusive.

The discussion involved a presentation by consultant about the possibility of excluding Quorn in the next vote to go to Stage 2

  1. Public observers (myself and another) not especially invited as speakers by the DIIS, were very obviously not welcomed. After being told the whole days’ business could not proceed if we stayed,( an invidious position to be put in), we were individually, forcibly escorted out by the DIIS representative      (ref 7) What a farcical example of ‘ensuring the community is fully engaged!

ƒ The BCC ‘is not a decision‐making body and performs an advisory role only’, (BCC Guidelines p1 1.2), however ‘meetings may be open to the public at the discretion of the Committee….’ (BCC Guidelines p7 1.4.4 last para) Is this a decision making role?

ƒ The BCC  is overwhelmingly dominated by  ‘stakeholders’ wanting the NRWMF to go ahead, including the DIIS representatives. It therefore, appears to be a biased, controlled forum that does not practically encourage broad public consultation, being instead a marketing exercise to manufacture community consent.

ƒ The Deputy Convener of the BCC needs to be: ‘independent of the Department’ and to ‘act impartially with respect to any individual or representative in the community’ (BCC Guidelines pp3,4). His role as Chairperson at the Hawker BCC meeting with Minister Canavan (Fri 2/6/17), was blatantly in favor of the NRWMF going ahead, emphasising the considerable financial benefits for Hawker if the ‘project’ went ahead.

ƒ The Deputy Convener effectively evicted me from the Dec 2017 BCC meeting, (ref 7 para 2) contravening most of the ‘selection criteria for the Deputy Convener’, (BCC Guidelines p4) including;

ƒ An ability to facilitate and manage stakeholder committees in an independent manner   ƒ Experience in community relations, facilitation, mediation or public advocacy: ƒ An ability to represent the concerns of a variety of interest groups and an understanding of local issues.

ƒ A willingness to share information with the local community

Meeting  minutes (notes) are ‘drafted by the Department at the end of each Committee meeting, in collaboration with the Independent and Deputy Convener’ (BCC Guidelines p6). These notes are often, only, ‘publicly available on the Department’s website’  a week before the next bimonthly meeting if at all.(ref 7 para 3) A  further example of the inappropriate, disingenuous role the BCC plays in the site selection process for a NRWMF.

e) whether wider (Eyre Peninsula or state‐wide) community views should be taken into consideration and, if so, how this is occurring or should be occurring.

Definitely, in a democracy such as Australia, wider community views regarding an issue with state and national relevance should be mandatory! Particularly in South Australia in light of the Citizens Jury voting no, to the proposal of deposing overseas high level radioactive waste in South Australia. (SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report May 2016). Albeit a separate issue to the NRWMF, it demonstrated the overall negative public attitude towards State and Federal Government radioactive waste proposals.

Most South Australians and Australians are unaware of the NRWMF proposal, believing that since the 2015‐2016  SA Royal Commission, any nuclear waste issues have been ‘done and dusted’. This has proved very handy for the Federal Government, effectively isolating the targeted community groups around Hawker and Kimba, fighting against having  a NRWMF imposed on them.


Another resident of Quorn, in correspondence to Mr Bruce Wilson (DIIS advisor to the Minister), sums up my opinion about the appropriateness and thoroughness of the site selection process for a NRWMF at Hawker and Kimba, in SA, noting that the Government has stated that it will not impose such a facility on an unwilling community. ‘The search for a site to dispose of Australian generated LLW and ILW has .… so far, been unsuccessful….. If it is a National problem the answer needs to be found in a nationally collaborative way, with bi‐partisan support, and not palmed off onto remote, vulnerable communities, whose cohesion is split and disrupted by ideology, money and unsubstantiated raised  expectations.’ re jobs, tourism opportunities and long term environmental stability.

I appreciate this valuable opportunity to voice my opinions at a Federal Government level and thank Senator Rex Patrick for the chance.


May 14, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

We must not leave nuclear waste decisions up to poorly informed Kimba residents

These people seem to have no grasp at all of the concerns of people worldwide about the effects of nuclear pollution on the environment and on future generations.

It is as if they have no understanding whatsoever of the risks to South Australia’s precious groundwater, to South Australia’s agricultural reputation, nor of the risks of transport accidents, terrorism, and the longterm situation of stranded radioactive trash.

Just consider these inane comments:

“the majority, we’re just so excited about the possibilities.  

“it’s a way of ensuring a future for his young children.”

“I think it’s far safer than my own farming industry”

Decision looms for SA town of Kimba divided over nuclear waste  The town of Kimba is struggling for economic growth. Some see nuclear waste as the industry that could help it prosper. Rhiannon Elston, 13 May 18 

The small community of Kimba sits roughly halfway across the national highway stretching between South Australia’s east and west coasts.  Wheat is the main crop grown here, but mayor Dean Johnson

says it’s marginal farming land. “We’re very reliant on rainfall in our area,” he tells SBS News.

The town’s uncertain future is the reason some residents have thrown their support behind a plan to store the nation’s nuclear waste. Local small business owner and farmer Michelle Raynr and her husband have offered to sell a small parcel of their land to the government for a future radioactive waste facility.

“You kind of just dread to think what the town will be like in another five, ten years if it doesn’t happen,” she says.

It would be a permanent facility for Australia’s low-level nuclear waste, and a temporary site for intermediate level disposal.

Ms Raynr says not everyone has been supportive of her decision.  “It’s been a little bit disappointing, people’s reactions,” she says.“But the majority, we’re just so excited about the possibilities.”

Andrew Baldock is one who agrees. His parents have also offered to sell a piece of their land. He says it’s a way of ensuring a future for his young children.

“I’d really like to see something like this to help underpin the community, and perhaps, put us ahead of the other struggling towns in the region,” Mr Baldcock says.

“To me, it’s a lot less scary than the chemicals and the petrol, diesel and everything else that comes through our road here. I think it’s far safer than my own farming industry, to be honest.”

Radioactive waste is currently held across 100 different facilities. The federal government says it wants a central facility, housed in a community willing to support it.

Peter Woolford, Chairman of an anti-radioactive waste group in Kimba, wants the concerns of those who don’t support the project, to be heard.

“They’ve continually said they’re not going to impose it on a community, that it has to have broad community support, but I don’t think they have that in Kimba at all.”

The location for a national facility has been narrowed down to three sites, all in South Australia. Two are in Kimba, and the other is near Hawker, in the Flinders Ranges. The federal government says any facility would be constructed and managed under a strict regulatory framework.

Kimba local Graham Tiller believes any radioactive waste should be stored on existing government land.“There’s just no guarantees that land values won’t depreciate, or that grain won’t be devalued,” he says.

Tina Wakelin, another resident, says she agrees the site must go somewhere, but questions why it has to be in Kimba. “We must not be depicted as trying to stop nuclear medicine, that’s not the aim at all,” she says.“But a little town like ours should not feel responsible for all of Australia.”

Last month, the Resources Minister announced $4 million dollars in community funding grants for both Hawker and Kimba.

Mayor Dean Johnson says dozens of groups benefited from the cash injection.

“There’s the pony club… tennis courts, playgrounds, all sorts of things.”

Graham Tiller’s wife, Janet Tiller, says the money is not worth the impact of such a project.  “No amount of money’s worth the health and livelihoods and friendships that have been lost in the town,” she says.

A postal ballot will be held on August 20 to measure community support.

The final decision as to where the waste site will go rests with the Resources Minister, who is expected to make his choice by the end of the year.

May 14, 2018 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

Kimba community being conned by false propaganda about nuclear medicine

Geraldine Gillen Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 14 May 18 It is not just Kimba that needs to be consulted. I live at Whyalla, just up the road. At the very least all of Eyre Peninsula needs to be consulted, better still all South Australia. It will effect and affect us all. Especially the reputation of any agritculture or aquaculture. Unbelieveable that there are some people in Kimba who think this will “save” their town. I believe if it goes ahead, it will be the demise of the town.

Roni Skipworth Gov thinks that people can be bought – they did with the Shire of Kimba as it is a dying town like many rural towns n those who want this to happen decided $$$$ is what they need to boost it.
When the Mayor decided that the vote should only be for Kimba residents three quarters of the Shire didn’t want it, as everyone I have spoken to is against it. Somehow the Mayor and Ramsay had found a loophole and they ran with it. People are getting blinded by being healed by Nuclear Medicine saying it’s OK to av this dump but don’t realise that the Nuclear Waste is completely different than Nuclear Medicine.
Yes the gov is trying to cover up the negatives and saying it is harmless but it’s not as it was why then a worker last year when he got contaminated by a work accident is still not well. When the governments put out No Bullying ads why don’t they take action as at the moment that is what they are doing BULLYING US INTO SAYING YES FOR MANY NEGATIVE IDEAS THEY WANT TO DO ALL AROUND AUSTRALIA.
Brendan Harrington the tax payer as insurance companies hate nuclear, – USA has plenty about it on google and the tax payer pays not the nuclear corporation. I say  NO Nuclear dump and people  should research and see Medical isotopes have a half life of 3 days, This is not about medical isotopes.

May 14, 2018 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

Book on the campaign against Adani coal megamine

Just four citizens’: the Australians who confronted Adani in India, and made a difference Guardian, Geoff Cousins, 12 May 2018

In this book extract, Geoff Cousins describes how the farmer, the activist, the tourism operator and ‘an old bald man with hope in his heart’ travelled to India to protest against Adani……..

The campaign against the Adani mine is unique in my experience of major environmental battles. Most are “place-based” campaigns in one way or another: “don’t dam this river”; “don’t pollute this groundwater reserve”; “build this gas hub somewhere other than in a wilderness area”. The Adani proposal is different and touches on all the major environmental issues of our time, from climate change to global warming, from shifting from fossil fuels to renewables to the direct and indirect impacts on the Barrier Reef.

It has become a symbol of what is wrong with so much of the government policy in this country and elsewhere and that is why the campaign has attracted such widespread and passionate support. The central question that has focused the minds of all involved has become: if we can’t stop this mine at a time in history when urgent action is needed on all these issues, what can ever be achieved by the environment movement?…….

In discussions with traditional owners in Australia, it has been powerful to be able to describe first-hand the mistreatment Adani has meted out to Indigenous groups in India. The same promises are being made here, of employment and funding, and Indigenous groups are increasingly disbelieving of them – even those who may have signed agreements with Adani before they knew the truth.

A farmer in a wide hat and a bright green shirt with a white map of Australia on the back; an experienced and brave Great Barrier Reef activist; a woman who left her tourism business to join us at the last minute; and an old bald man with hope in his heart and fear in his belly – this was the great Aussie delegation. The Indians loved us. “You’re just four citizens?” they asked. “You don’t represent any organisation or government?” “No, just four people,” we answered.

There are thousands now, all over our country. More than 130 Stop Adani groups and thousands more people join the cause every month, with only one aim: to protect the planet, our reef, our natural world and our way of life against the environmental rape and pillage being carried out by Gautam Adani and his band of brothers.

This is an edited extract from David Ritter’s The Coal Truth: The fight to stop Adani, defeat the big polluters and reclaim our democracy ($29.99, UWA publishing)

May 13, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia’s scarce water could be helped by solar and wind power

Solar and wind could ease Australia’s water shortage -By Cole Latimer, 

Australia is one the world’s top 20 water-stressed nations but a shift to more renewable energy could lessen the nation’s water pressure.

A report by the World Resources Industry identified Australia as one country vulnerable to water stress where the potential for cheap renewable energy, solar and wind as opposed to fossil fuels, could reduce water consumption country-wide as these technologies use minimal – or zero – water.

May 13, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, solar, wind | Leave a comment

Cheryl Axleby:  Budget ignores solutions and damages our communities

Author: Cheryl Axleby

Cheryl Axleby is a proud Narungga woman with family ties across South Australia.
Cheryl is the co-chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS).’

‘Yet again, our people have been let down with this year’s Federal Budget.

‘The investment in our communities is more eroded,
our quality of life more diminished,
our voices and needs more blatantly ignored.

‘While the Budget seeks to commemorate colonisation,
it fails to address its ongoing consequences and the oppression
that our people continue to experience.

‘The most alarming aspects of the Budget further stack the system
against our people and punish people living in poverty.

‘As a co-chair of NATSILS, I have been actively involved in trying to engage with governments
to provide insight and solutions into justice and social issues we face,
and the need for greater investment. It is disheartening that they are not listening,
and actively doing damage to our communities. …

Time for change

‘We remain unheard.
Our national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative bodies
are not invited to sit at the table with government.
Our communities are not meaningfully involved in the reform process.
And now the poorest amongst us will be punished for the ongoing effects of colonisation.

‘There are solutions.
Many of these were set out by our organisations in the 2016 Redfern Statement.
Now we continue to wait for the Government to act on their commitment to
“do things with us, not to us”.’

Read more of Cheryl Axleby‘s significant, comprehensive & thought-provoking article
under the following themes: HousingWelfare & CDPClosing the GapJustice:

May 13, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Ken and Carole Wetherby demand that Eyre Peninsula remain ‘clean and green’ – NO nuclear waste dump

Submission To: Senate Standing Committees on Economics  Regards “Selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia”Ken and Carole Wetherby (Submission No. 12) 

We live on a ‘hobby farm’ 10km east of Cleve which is outside the Kimba District Council.

Terms of Reference, our comments refer to items b, d and e. b)

“Broad community support”, the level of community support required for acceptance should be set at a 2/3 majority- then stick to this figure – don’t ‘waffle’.

d) Essentially the ‘community benefit program’ is a bribe and that is what it should be called.

e) This is the point which we have disagreed with from the outset. The establishment of a radioactive waste management facility at Kimba will have an effect on the whole of Eyre Peninsula, not just the Kimba Council area and we should all be allowed to have our say.

The ‘clean green’ reputation of the agricultural, fishing/aquaculture and tourism industries could be negatively affected. “Hobby farm’ values could also be affected – in our case we retired to our ‘hobby farm’ at Cleve because of Eyre Peninsula’s ‘clean green’ reputation. The agricultural zone on Eyre Peninsula is isolated from other farming areas by Spencers Gulf, the Nullarbor Plain and pastoral land to the north and as such it has a unique ability, as an entity, to claim and retain our “clean green’ reputation.

May 12, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

South Australian Premier  Steven Marshall now doing a backflip on nuclear waste dumping

NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP: NOW A FEDERAL ELECTION ISSUE?  Mark Simpkin  Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 10 May 18 


On the 11 November 2016, Steven Marshall declared, ‘I have a much greater vision for SA than becoming the world’s nuclear waste dump.’
Source: Eureka Street. Michele Madigan 16 November 2016

Of course you’d have to be pretty naive to think this isn’t step 1 to becoming the world’s nuclear waste dump?

Steven Marshall had previously said he would not support the facility and declared last year “a nuclear waste dump is now dead”.
Source: ABC News.
First posted 8 Jun 2017, 10:46am

Given deadlines are fast approaching and this seems as though its a foregone conclusion, it would seem our Premier Steven Marshall was unable to stay to his word and Malcolm Turnbull and Senator Matthew Canavan have been able to roll him. Embarrassing?

Then again when you’re offering 4 times property value to locals and offering other opposition segments houses and cars in exchange for their support, it’s hard to stop matters.

Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA Flinders Local Action GroupNo Radioactive Waste Facility for Kimba District No Dump Alliance

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

Turnbull’s budget shows complete ignorance about climate change

Hours before the doors swung open on the budget lock-up, the bright sparks on Twitter had already started a new meme. #KeepMyTenDollars was a reminder that Australians would gladly forgo an extra few bucks a week for to see the governments prioritise spending on health, education and renewables, not corporate and high-end tax cuts. It was certainly funnier than Scott Morrison’s bizarre attempt at humour.

“What have you achieved?” would have been an odd opening line to the government’s pre-election budget speech, were it not coming from the mouth of the man who famously waved a lump of coal around in Parliament to declare his love for the toxic fuel. The joke was lost on the rest of us, but it was the punch line that betrayed the confusion of the government.

The world’s leading economists have been warning for decades that the damage caused to the climate by burning coal, oil and gas poses one of the most serious threats to the global economy. The cost of destruction in agriculture, tourism, finance, insurance, property, and even mining caused by sweeping floods, droughts and bushfire caused by distorting the world’s life support systems is nearly unimaginable.

Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a sector that will not be severely impacted by climate change. But collapsing costs in renewables and a rising global movement against pollution is changing the headwinds – not that our Government seems to have noticed.

You would think that a Government that waxes lyrical about intergenerational equity would have at least a primary school grasp on climate change. Yet the forbidden words were nowhere to be seen in the budget speech, save for a small reference to the Government’s plans to walk away from innovation in the renewables sector (whatever happened to that dogged commitment to ‘jobs and innovation’). The devil, as always, was in the detail of the budget papers.

Budgets are a statement of values that mark the principles of legislators. In this year’s budget, the Government’s values were laid bare, with climate spending slashed by almost half, falling further to $1.2 billion by 2022. Analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation found that the under-resourced Department of Environment and Energy will have an axe taken to its bottom line, with spending slated to plunge by 43 per cent on 2013 levels (when the Government took office) by 2022.

The Renewable Energy Target will be abolished by 2020. Taxpayer largesse will continue to flow to the Government’s friends in fossil fuel companies, with $30 billion in diesel tax subsidies pouring into private companies over the forecast period. No additional money for renewables or climate mitigation and adaptation will be forthcoming.

The opportunities that come from renewable energy, which are now cheaper as well as being cleaner and healthier, are being seized by the community of nations while Australia clings to a wheezing, out-dated economy.

On the same day the budget was delivered, the meter at Mauna Loa, Hawaii clocked 410 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – a level not seen in 800,000 years, well before humans developed agriculture, let alone donned suits and waved rocks around in Parliament.

The other critical budget, the carbon budget, is in obvious deficit.

The Government should keep my ten dollars, and use it to achieve real progress towards a coal-free, more liveable society. Most Australians would gladly chip in for wind and solar, and our vast weight of numbers will eventually prevail.

It’s clear after this budget that it will take concerted action from all Australians everywhere for the Government to regain its grip on reality.

May 12, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

A journey to the heart of the anti-nuclear resistance in Australia: Radioactive Exposure Tour 2018

 NUCLEAR  MONITOR  – A PUBLICATION OF WORLD INFORMATION SERVICE ON ENERGY (WISE)   AND THE NUCLEAR INFORMATION & RESOURCE SERVICE (NIRS  Author: Ray Acheson ‒ Director, Reaching Critical Will, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom)   NM859.4719, May 2018 

Looking at a map of South Australia’s nuclear landscape, the land is scarred. Uranium mines and weapon test sites, coupled with indications of where the government is currently proposing to site nuclear waste dumps, leave their marks across the desert. But amidst the devastation these poisonous activities have left on the land and its people, there is fierce resistance and boundless hope.

Friends of the Earth Australia has been running Radioactive Exposure Tours for the past thirty years.Designed to bring people from around Australia to meet local activists at various nuclear sites, the Rad Tour provides a unique opportunity to learn about the land, the people, and the nuclear industry in the most up-front and personal way.

This year’s tour featured visits to uranium mines, bomb test legacy sites, and proposed radioactive waste dumps on Arabunna, Adnyamathanha, and Kokatha land in South Australia, and introduced urban-based activists to those directly confronting the nuclear industry out in country. It brought together about 30 people including campaigners from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and Reaching Critical Will, environmental activists with Friends of the Earth Australia and other organisations, and interested students and others looking to learn about the land, the people, and the industries operating out in the desert.

The journey of ten days takes us to many places and introduces us to many people, but can be loosely grouped into three tragic themes: bombing, mining, and dumping.  Each of these aspects of the nuclear chain is stained with racism, militarism, and capitalism. Each represents a piece of a dirty, dangerous, but ultimately dying nuclear industry. And each has been and continues to be met with fierce resistance from local communities, including Traditional Owners of the land.

Testing the bomb   The first two days of the trip are spent driving from  Melbourne to Adelaide to Port Augusta. We pick up activists along the way, before finally heading out to the desert. Our first big stop on the Tour is a confrontation  with the atomic bomb. Continue reading

May 12, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

‘Blatantly discriminatory’: changes to remote work-for-dole scheme criticised

Mostly Indigenous remote jobseekers still need to work more than 
double hours of non-remote jobseekers for same income’

‘An overhaul of the remote work-for-the-dole scheme announced in the federal budget
has been criticised for maintaining racist and discriminatory requirements 
on its majority Indigenous participants. …

Adrianne Walters, a senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, said
it was “mind-boggling” that the difference in requirements remained,
albeit slightly modified.

‘“Equal pay for equal work is a core tenet of Australian society.
The federal government must eliminate the blatantly discriminatory requirement,
which sees people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
forced to work more hours for the same basic Centrelink payment as people in cities,”
Walters said. … ‘

Helen Davidson & Christopher Knaus:

May 12, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Eddie Hughes MP- Nuclear Waste Dump Site Selection Process is Deeply Flawed

Eddie Hughes  Submission to Senate Inquiry on Nuclear Waste Dump Sit Selection Process  (Submission No. 57 My name is Eddie Hughes and I am the State Member for Giles. Please accept the speech I gave in Parliament on the 31 May 2017 as my submission for the Senate Inquiry into “The selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia”.

I believe that the selection process is deeply flawed as a result of being based on an individual site nomination process.


Mr HUGHES ( Giles ) ( 15:23 ): I rise today to talk about the process that is on the way to determine whether a facility to accommodate domestic nuclear waste is built in South Australia. It is very strange, given the vastness of the Australian continent and, indeed, the concentration of nuclear expertise at Lucas Heights, that the only three sites being considered are all in the electorate of Giles. The reason all the sites are in Giles does not reflect any particular set of comparative advantages.

What it does reflect is a fundamentally flawed site selection process. It is a site selection process that has little regard for the impact on the communities that have been put in the spotlight and a site selection process that has absolutely no regard for the division that has been created.

Let me be clear: we do need to manage our domestically-produced waste in a responsible fashion. The adoption of such a divisive process does not, however, represent a responsible approach. The trigger for the engagement process is at the heart of why this is a seriously flawed approach. If you look at Kimba and the surrounding district, and if you look at Hawker and its district, you will see the division that has been caused. The trigger for the Flinders Ranges site was totally centred on the action of one person. That person does not live in the region; he lives in Adelaide. He is an absentee landlord. This absentee landlord nominated Wallerberdina Station which is under a pastoral lease. The absentee landlord is Grant Chapman, a former Liberal Party Senator.

The process adopted by the Federal Government did not call for communities to nominate a site; it called for individuals with land tenure to nominate sites, a bizarre approach which then left communities to react. The absentee landlord did not consult with his neighbours prior to nominating his property. I understand that he did not discuss his intention with neighbouring pastoralists and he did not consult with the local Aboriginal people, some of whom live on the adjoining property at Yappala Station. I spent a night at Yappala, listening to the concerns expressed by the residents. They were shocked by the nomination and the arrogance of the absentee landlord. We now know that the presence of Aboriginal people in the Flinders Ranges dates back 40,000 years. They are not blow-ins, they are not absentee landlords, they have lived and walked the country for generations.

The nomination of Wallerberdina was marked and will always be marked by a complete lack of respect for the Adnyamathanha. The absentee landlord did not speak to his neighbours, neighbours whose connection to the land he obviously has no appreciation of. We are not all that far from terra nullius. His neighbours were invisible. The nomination and the ongoing process has generated division not just in the European community but also in the Aboriginal community. The nomination process in Kimba also centred on the actions of individuals and has also led to community division. In the lead-up to the Federal election, the people of Kimba were under the impression that the two sites nominated near Kimba had been taken off the table, only to magically reappear after the election.

Most of the waste generated comes from the Eastern States. Lucas Heights can easily accommodate the long-lived intermediate waste for decades to come. That is where the expertise is and that is  where the more serious waste is generated. When it comes to that waste and other waste streams, we have ample time to get this right, and a starting point at a national level is to initiate a roundtable process involving all the various interests, including non-government environmental bodies. We have an obligation to do this properly and we can build a consensus about our long-term management of nuclear waste. What has happened to date should become a case study in how not to do it.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

South Australian Parliament debating law to protect whistleblowers

SA parliament to debate whistleblower laws

A law shielding South Australian journalists from liability for refusing to reveal their sources will be tabled in state parliament.

Whistleblowers may soon have stronger protections under a bill introduced to parliament in South Australia.

The Liberal government on Thursday introduced legislation to shield journalists from criminal or civil liability if they do not disclose the identity of their sources when the information is in the public interest.

“This legislation enhances the public’s right to know by encouraging whistleblowers to come forward on the understanding that journalists will not be forced to disclose their identity in a court of law,” Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said.

The proposed legislation would make the default rule that journalists cannot be compelled to answer a question or produce a document that may disclose the identity of an informant.

“I anticipate it will be a very rare day that a court will deem revealing the identity of the informant is necessary to protect the public interest,” Ms Chapman said.

SA Law Society President Tim Mellor said the legislation was an important step in the protection of a free press.

“Like an independent judiciary, the fourth estate of a free press is an integral part of an open and transparent society,” Mr Mellor said

South Australian and Queensland are the only two states without shield laws.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Geophysicists say that North Korean nuclear blast ‘moved mountain’. Australia’s seismic station plays role in monitoring

While Dr Wang and his team used data from seismic monitoring systems in China and the surrounding area, Australia has one of the best in the world, Professor Tkalcic said: the Warramunga monitoring station in the Northern Territory, near Tennant Creek.

It’s almost smack bang in the centre of the continent, in an incredibly quiet part of the world, seismically speaking; far from tectonic plate edges, cities and the shoreline, where waves crashing on the coast create seismic noise.

There is also an infrasound detection system at Warramunga station, which detects waves that travel through the atmosphere produced by bomb blasts.

The data is transmitted by satellite to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation in Vienna, where it is monitored round the clock.

North Korean nuclear test had energy of 10 Nagasaki bombs and moved mountain, geophysicists say  By science reporter Belinda Smith, 11 May 18, 

An underground North Korean nuclear test in September last year exploded with 10 times the energy of the atomic bomb that exploded over Nagasaki in 1945.

It also caused the overlying mountain peak to sink by half a metre and shift about 3.5 metres south.

Key points:

  • North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb under Mt Mantap on September 3, 2017
  • Using satellite measurements and seismic data, geophysicists calculated the strength of the test and its location — the first time satellite radar has been used this way
  • The blast was big enough to cause an earthquake and deform the mountain above

These are conclusions drawn by geophysicists, who used satellite radar and instruments that pick up waves travelling through the earth, to calculate the explosion’s depth and strength.

In the journal Science today, they also report signs that a subterranean tunnel system at the test site collapsed 8.5 minutes after the bomb detonated.

In the past, satellite technology — called synthetic radar aperture imagery — has mapped how the ground stretches and warps after earthquakes.

But this is the first time it has been used to examine a nuclear bomb test site, according to Teng Wang, study co-author and a geophysicist at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

Since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, nine nuclear tests have taken place.

Six of these were by North Korea, five of which were at its Mt Mantap facility in the country’s north.

The bombs were detonated in chambers tunnelled into the mountain itself — a granite peak that extends upwards just over 2,200 metres.

But this means the details of the tests, such as the energy produced by the bombs, have been largely unknown outside North Korea — until now.

Eye in the sky, ear to the ground

Dr Wang and his colleagues suspected they could deduce the strength and precise location of the bomb test on September 3 last year, which triggered a magnitude-6.3 earthquake.

Clandestine nuclear activities are tracked by a global monitoring system of sensors that pick up the faint shivers and shudders generated by distant underground blasts and earthquakes.

But while these instruments are capable of picking up the wave signature of a bomb blast thousands of kilometres away, more information is needed to pinpoint exactly where an explosion has taken place.

So in the weeks after the September North Korean bomb test, Dr Wang and his colleagues received images of the Mt Mantap terrain before and after the test, snapped by the German TerraSAR-X satellite.

To map the bumps and dips on the Earth’s entire surface, TerraSAR-X pings radar towards the ground and measures how long it before the signal is bounced back up again.

“As long as the ground is deformed, we can measure it from space using synthetic radar aperture,” Dr Wang said.

Combined with a bit of nifty mathematical modelling — the first time anyone’s modelled an underground nuclear test with radar data — he and his colleagues got a fix on the exact location of the detonation site.

This is a highlight of the work, said Hrvoje Tkalcic, a geophysicist at the Australian National University, who was not involved in the study.

“What’s always difficult is pinpointing an exact location [of a bomb test],” Professor Tkalcic said.

Dr Wang and his team calculated that the top of the mountain subsided about half a metre after the September test, and parts of it shuffled south.

To manage this deformation, the bomb released the energy equivalent to between 109,000 and 276,000 tonnes of TNT in a chamber 450 metres below Mt Mantap’s peak.

The “Fat Man” bomb that exploded over Nagasaki yielded an energy level equivalent to 20,000 tonnes.

Among the data, they found the seismic shivers of a second, smaller event — an aftershock that appeared 700 metres south of, and 8.5 minutes after, the explosion.

The waves produced by the aftershock weren’t consistent with an explosion; rather, it looked like the ground had imploded.

This, the geophysicists suggest, “likely indicates the collapse of the tunnel system of the test site”.

While Dr Wang and his team used data from seismic monitoring systems in China and the surrounding area, Australia has one of the best in the world, Professor Tkalcic said: the Warramunga monitoring station in the Northern Territory, near Tennant Creek.

It’s almost smack bang in the centre of the continent, in an incredibly quiet part of the world, seismically speaking; far from tectonic plate edges, cities and the shoreline, where waves crashing on the coast create seismic noise.

It uses an array of buried instruments to pick up waves that travel through the ground, acting as a giant antenna to amplify weak signals.

“They’re used in the same way as astronomers use arrays of antennas to look at deep space. It’s just that our antennas are pointed to the centre of the earth,” Professor Tkalcic said.

There is also an infrasound detection system at Warramunga station, which detects waves that travel through the atmosphere produced by bomb blasts.

The data is transmitted by satellite to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation in Vienna, where it is monitored round the clock.

So how do geophysicists know if seismic waves are caused by bomb blasts and not, say, an earthquake or landslide?

In a subterranean explosion, the ground is pushed outwards and compressed, sending a particular type of wave through the ground, Professor Tkalcic said.

An earthquake’s seismic signature is different. If two plates collide, rub against each other or slip, they send out another type of wave.

“We can tell if the first motion was predominantly a compression or if it was a shear type of motion,” Professor Tkalcic said.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The melting of Antarctic ice is coming from warm waters underneath

Global warming is melting Antarctic ice from below Warming oceans melting Antarctic ice shelves could accelerate sea level rise, Guardian,  John Abraham, 9 May 18,  “……With global warming, both of the poles are warming quite quickly, and this warming is causing ice to melt in both regions. When we think of ice melting, we may think of it melting from above, as the ice is heated from the air, from sunlight, or from infrared energy from the atmosphere. But in truth, a lot of the melting comes from below. For instance, in the Antarctic, the ice shelves extend from the land out over the water. The bottom of the ice shelf is exposed to the ocean. If the ocean warms up, it can melt the underside of the shelf and cause it to thin or break off into the ocean.

 A new study, recently published in Science Advances, looked at these issues. One of the goals of this study was to better understand whether and how the waters underneath the shelf are changing. They had to deal with the buoyancy of the waters. We know that the saltier and colder water is, the denser it is.

Around Antarctica, water at the ocean surface cools down and becomes saltier. These combined effects make the surface waters sink down to the sea floor. But as ice melt increases, fresh water flows into the ocean and interrupts this buoyancy effect. This “freshening” of the water can slow down or shut down the vertical mixing of the ocean. When this happens, the cold waters at the surface cannot sink. The deeper waters retain their heat and melt the ice from below.

The study incorporated measurements of both temperature and salinity (saltiness) at three locations near the Dalton Iceberg Tongue on the Sabrina Coast in East Antarctica. The measurements covered approximately an entire year and gave direct evidence of seasonal variations to the buoyancy of the waters. The researchers showed that a really important component to water-flow patterns were ‘polynyas.’ These are regions of open water that are surrounded by ice, typically by land ice on one side and sea ice on the other side.

When waters from the polynya are cold and salty, the waters sink downwards and form a cold curtain around the ice shelf. However, when the waters are not salty (because fresh water is flowing into the polynya), this protective curtain is disrupted and warm waters can intrude from outside, leading to more ice melt.
Based on this study, we may see increased ice loss in the future – sort of a feedback loop. That concerns us because it will mean more sea level rise (which is already accelerating), and more damage to coastal communities. I asked the lead author, Alesandro Silvano about this work:

 Lead author Alesandro Silvano.

We found that freshwater from melting ice shelves is already enough to stop formation of cold and salty waters in some locations around Antarctica. This process causes warming and freshening of Antarctic waters. Ocean warming increases melting of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, causing sea level to rise. Freshening of Antarctic waters weakens the currents that trap heat and carbon dioxide in the ocean, affecting the global climate. In this way local changes in Antarctica can have global implications. Multiple sources of evidence exist now to show that these changes are happening. However, what will happen in Antarctica in the next decades and centuries remains unclear and needs to be understood.

This is just another reason to take scientists seriously and act to slow down climate change before it is too late.

May 10, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment