Australian news, and some related international items

No confidence in economic projections of #NuclearCommissionSAust

Extract from – Mothers for a Sustainable South Australia:  Our Response to the Tentative Findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission • Maureen Graney • Mary Houlahan • Tracey Kermond • Michelle Parsons • Barbara Pocock 18 March 2016
Scarce wastes moneyEconomic risks: ‘Trust me I’m an economist’
Applying a range of assumptions, the Commission suggests the dump could generate $51 billion for the state. The economic modeling for this conclusion is based on a set of heroic assumptions, given that there is no actual market for high-level waste, no price for it, and no way of predicting real costs including the costs of actual construction or possible accident remediation. A cost-benefit analysis for this proposal requires predictions for long periods (at least centuries), well beyond the capability of existing economic modeling.
We do not have confidence in the economic projections in the Tentative Report, especially given the impossibility of predicting the costs of possible future leaks or problems with a long-term waste dump, or the impact of new entrants to the waste disposal industry. If the financial benefits are large (and the technical possibilities achievable), they will certainly attract new entrants. However, new entrants raise the risks that, having received large quantities of high-level waste, we are left holding it in temporary storage, without a means to recover the costs if things go wrong (as discussed above). The risk of such costs exists for ten, twenty or tens of thousands of years ahead. In the event of some kind of accident, spill or new market conditions and entrants, future Australian generations would have to meet the cost, while the countries that generated the waste will have no interest in the liability or uneconomic nature of the industry.
Our state has taken decades to recover from the last great risk taken by a small group of bankers with the collapse of the state bank. We cannot risk a further economic disaster – potentially much larger in its economic effects – with its possible long-term, sizeable additional impact on future employment, liveability and our environment.
What are the economic risks to the state?
8. This is not the solution for disposal of high-level nuclear waste
The planet needs a solution for this dangerous waste. However, we are concerned that proponents for this proposal are looking for a ‘quick fix’ for South Australia’s economic problems, when safe storage of nuclear waste demands a globally considered solution.
Conclusion We support opportunities for growth of our state and future generations. But these need to deliver real, reliable benefits – not introduce new incalculable risks for our economy, health and environment. The creation of a high-level nuclear waste dump in South Australia is a decision that will be with us – and the children of the future – forever. Given the paucity of evidence that such a dump will not create unacceptable health, environmental and economic risks, we oppose its construction.
No amount of money can offset the potential risk of significant damage to our state, its citizens, our economy, and the lives of future generations – a risk that will persist for over a hundred thousand years.
We are reminded of the prophesy of the American Indian Cree elder who said:
‘When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.’

May 6, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May | Leave a comment

A farming perspective on the Nuclear Royal Commission waste import plan

South Australia nuclear toiletNuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Submission. Patricia  and Maxwell Jones

After having many years of dealing with Uranium Exploration on our Property, we feel we know more about Uranium than miners know about farming.

1* Uranium storage (dumping) LOW waste or HIGH waste, will have an effect on neighbouring properties. Just the name Uranium puts fear in people, had great effect on sheep sales from our property, people did not want to buy glow in the dark sheep. Did lower the value of our Merino wool, dust, (not Uranium dust) have had trouble getting through to miners that we are talking good old
fashion dust that is stirred up every time a vehicle passes by, caused lower yields in our wool, therefore devalued it. Lowered our returns.

2* The uranium waste will come via ship we assume, if ship is lost at sea, what happens to our seas. Once on land it travels by road or rail. There is only one highway across Australia, if an accident, will Highway be closed, Kimba, Low level waste is half way across Australia. Small towns have been totally closed
by paint spills before.

3* If it is as we are told very safe, why then is it not possible to store it in Adelaide? Lots of land there close to the sea not being used. Plenty of workers going to be needing jobs soon in Adelaide.

This is the only State not allowed to grow GM crops, because it could contaminate other crops (see court cases in WA etc;) and the stigma attached to GM, which upsets our Politicians. So what would South Australians and the rest of the world think is worse? The answer is obvious.

If in the polls or Royal Commission were to ask the South Australian people in their individual areas eg; (5th East, Riverland, Adelaide etc/) did they want a Uranium waste dump, we are sure the answer would be NO, not in our back yard.
If it’s so safe why, does it have to be sent to our Farming Land?  The only safe

May 6, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May | Leave a comment

Nuclear Commission’s recommendations – a poisoned chalice for South Australia?

As a South Australian citizen, I am very concerned by what appears to be a disregard for the rule of law. This is particularly concerning as the nuclear industry across the world has a somewhat tarnished reputation when it comes to transparency and compliance with legal requirements. Any lack of confidence in the rule of law (whether perceived or real) will be extremely detrimental to this project and to South Australia as a democratic state. 

A high level nuclear waste dump is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Voluntary importation of one of the deadliest substances known to humanity, with all of its intransigent problems (which no country in the world has yet managed to resolve) may indeed prove to be a poisoned chalice. Indeed, the x billions anticipated as revenue are minor in global economic terms, and definitely insignificant given the 240,000 year time frame of the proposal. 

Scarce poisoned chalice

Response to Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s Tentative Findings, Trisha Drioli   I have a large number of concerns arising from a proposal that seeks to store highly toxic waste in my home State for a period longer than the entire existence of the human species. Never-the-less, I restrict my submission to my some key points: Continue reading

May 6, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May | Leave a comment

No true transparency in the machinations of the Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission

secret-agent-Aust “Transparency” is a term when used in such context, makes a mockery of public consultation and decision-making. In an industry that is hidden within Legislative Agreements that prohibit “freedom of information” and with information locked up in inter-departmental exchanges that circumvent any public disclosure, there is no transparency. Local get-togethers do not equal public engagement. These are serious matters which are of National concern

Response to “Tentative Findings”  – Anne McGovern

Overview The subject of Nuclear Fuel production has been a matter of National discussion and investigation for the past 60 years in Australia. The people of this country have emphatically rejected the development of Nuclear Fuel production, from every stage of mining, milling, fuel fabrication and power generation, to any involvement in the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world.
The Nuclear Power proponents, have at every stage despite persistant resistance, continued to force the Australian Public to defend the non-nuclear position. Here, we find ourselves again defending the right of our country to remain as Nuclear-Free as possible, considering we have already be encumbered with the legacy of numbers of Uranium Mines past and present, for a clean future in Australia.
These are serious issues which the Public does not take lightly. It is plain to see from these “Tentative Findings” that minimal consideration has been given to the concerns and objections raised in a range of submissions received.
The subject matter which the Commission has been charged to investigate, has been studied in a less than thorough or in depth manner.
The following comments are responses based on first- hand knowledge of the actions of the Nuclear Industry in South Australia as was my Submission.

Continue reading

May 6, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May | Leave a comment

Meg Backhouse’s fine Submission to Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission

submission goodRE: HIGH LEVEL and INTERMEDIATE WASTE STORAGE Meg Backhouse 
My major concerns are:  if Australia takes HLW from other parts of the world, that HLW will continue to be produced and that a safe answer to its disposal will be postponed by another 60 years or never be adequately addressed.  That the money to be spent over the 11-15 years to set up the repository, would be better spent on becoming leaders in the renewable boom that is taking place Worldwide.  That the eventual cost will fall in the taxpayers’ laps when/if an unforeseen incident occurs.
Previous attempt In 2001 Russia made it legal to import radio-active waste for storage, with the govern-ment citing hopes to generate $20 billion from importing spent fuel. Large scale move-ment of waste did not occur, and in 2006 Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom announced it would not proceed with taking any foreign-origin used fuel. “If Russia, with vast territory, a mature nu-clear power industry, and experience with their own stockpiles of waste, could not establish a waste dump for profit, what chance does Australia have of succeeding in such an enterprise?” 20royal%20commission%20submission%20FINAL_0.pdf?download=1. International-Nuclear-Waste-Disposal-Concepts/
CONTAINERS:  Both Finland and Sweden have been unable to arrest corrosion of containers to be buried in the deep geological repositories.

Continue reading

May 6, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May | Leave a comment

Catholic Religious South Australia express duty to oppose Nuclear Commission’s import waste plan (extracts from Submission)

church-&-radCatholic Religious South Australia – response the the nuclear fuel chain Royal Commission’s ‘Tentative Findings’

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May 6, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May | Leave a comment

Major financial risks for South Australia are ignored by Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINThe proposal has major financial risks to taxpayers that have been ignored or played down in the Tentative Findings. These are sufficient grounds to reject the scheme. However, if the Royal Commission is determined to ignore or downplay the risks and recommend the proposed project, it should also recommend that 5 the substantial financial risks be taken by a private corporation or consortium, not Australian taxpayers
Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission
submission goodDiesendorf-MarkComments on the Cost Analysis, Business Case and Risks of Management for Storage and Disposal of Nuclear Waste in South Australia
Dr Mark Diesendorf Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences UNSW Australia 18 March 2016
Introduction One of the Key Tentative Findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (2016, p.3) is that:
The storage and disposal of used nuclear fuel in South Australia is likely to deliver substantial economic benefits to the South Australian community. An integrated storage and disposal facility would be commercially viable and the storage facility could be operational in the late 2020s.
The Tentative Finding summarised above is given in more detail in Findings 81- 94 on pp.17-20. These findings appear to be based to a large degree upon a report by Jacobs MCM (2016) that had not been available for public scrutiny until February 2016, around the time of the release of the Commission’s Tentative Findings. The following comments examine critically some of the assumptions underlying the Tentative Findings and Jacobs MCM (2016), especially the latter’s Paper 5. They also discuss the financial risks of the proposed project. The comments focus on the storage and management of high and intermediate level wastes.
Understanding the scenarios Continue reading

May 6, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May | 3 Comments

Dr Andrew Allison challenges The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s reckless Tentative Findings

exclamation-The proposal is that we should accept waste before the repository has been completely built and tested. This proposal is so reckless, as to be negligent. We would face the very real risk of being left with high-level nuclear waste, and no technology to properly handle it.
The plan [outlined in The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s Tentative Findings] seems extraordinary. It is proposed that we should give ourselves a waste problem in the hope that we, unlike everyone else, could solve it – like a person who takes up smoking just to prove they can quit.

submission goodResponse to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s Tentative Findings By Dr Andrew Allison, B.Sc. B.Eng. PhD. (Elec. Eng.) 17 March 2016

INTRODUCTION One of the Key Tentative Findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission is that: “The storage and disposal of used nuclear fuel in South Australia is likely to deliver substantial economic benefits to the South Australian community. An integrated storage and disposal facility would be commercially viable and the storage facility could be operational in the late 2020s.” [1]
I argue that this finding is open to challenge on technical, and economic grounds. I point out that no country has yet successfully operated a permanent high-level nuclear waste storage facility, without incident, for any substantial length of time. This includes technologically advanced nuclear nations, such as the USA, and Russia. These countries have been generating nuclear waste for over fifty years and yet they have still not solved the waste storage problem. It is stretching credibility to the limit to imagine that a non-nuclear country, like Australia, could succeed where the USA and Russia have failed.
No country has ever operated a high-level nuclear waste storage facility, as a commercial enterprise. It is doubtful that anybody ever will, because the service is impossible to price. No markets exist for this type of service. …….

Continue reading

May 4, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May | Leave a comment

Secrecy on health information about uranium workers – Submission to #NuclearCommissionSAust

submission goodNUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION TENTATIVE FINDINGS RESPONSE March 2016 Dan Monceaux – Documentary filmmaker & South Australian citizen

EXPLORATION, EXTRACTION & MILLING “………I have previously expressed my criticism that this, and indeed all Royal Commissions conducted in South Australia are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act 1991. This is fundamentally undemocratic, and contradicts claims made by the Commissioner on many occasions of his commitment to openness and transparency.


Returning to the subject of exploration drilling, I would suggest that there is another factor confounding the efficacy of exploration drilling regulation in South Australia- namely regulatory capture. This is accompanied by a tendency to withhold information regarding non-compliance and regulatory failure. The resulting impression can be one of false assurance. For example, by citing Marathon Resources Rectification Plan 2008 in its Tentative Findings, while neglecting to list the Eyre Iron compliance audit report which it also received, the Commission is misleading the reader. A reader would be forgiven for assuming that Marathon’s non-compliance was an isolated example, when clearly, this is not the case. The compliance audit report is found as Appendix A attached to my submission below.

The Government of South Australia has on its own record admissions of its institutional knowledge of lung cancer risk to uranium workers in underground mines. The evidence base dates back to the early experiences of miners at Joachimstahl in Czechoslovakia, from whose high incidence of lung cancer the first precautionary safety standards were subsequently set in other jurisdictions. The risk was understood in the 1920s as evidenced by publications of the South Australian Department of Mines from the mid 1950s, namely: Possible health hazards in uranium mining – Armstrong, A.T., Department of Mines (1955) The health consequences of workers in the uranium industry – Dr. B. S. Hanson (1956)

They are found in the results of Radium Hill worker cohort studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals. The epidemiological studies of the 1980s, published circa 1990 proved, with epidemiological evidence of elevated cancer incidence, that confidence expressed in the safety of working conditions at the Radium Hill mine in the 1950s and 1960s was ill-founded.

Radon daughter exposures at the Radium Hill uranium mine and lung cancer rates among former workers, 1952-1987 – Alistair Woodward, David Roder, Anthony J. McMichael, Philip Crouch and Arul Mylvaganam (1991)………

the Olympic Dam mine’s radiological safety measures and records remain protected by special secrecy provisions established under the Roxby Downs (Indenture Ratification) Act 1982.  Secrecy during the time of the Radium Hill mine was a matter of protecting Commonwealth secrets during the Cold War. The secrecy provisions of the Roxby Downs Indenture (Ratification) Act 1982, were according to Ian Gilfillan of the Australian Democrats, at least in part to protect the project from attack by environmental groups. The Indenture Act was revised in 2011, and forfeited the ideal opportunity to repeal Cold War-style exemptions as a sign of good faith to the people of South Australia and movement towards open government…………

April 23, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May, Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | 1 Comment

The health of uranium and nuclear workers. Response to #NuclearCommissionSAust’s ‘Tentative Findings’

It is extraordinary that the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission is not publishing Responses to its “Tentative Findings” before it makes its final announcement on May 6th.

submission goodMeanwhile, here is part of at least one very clear and informative response.

NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION TENTATIVE FINDINGS RESPONSE March 2016 Dan Monceaux – Documentary filmmaker & South Australian citizen.

“…… I sincerely hope that the health and wellbeing of South Australia’s workforce, its citizenry and its environment are considered sufficiently important topics for this Commission to elaborate on the matters raised here ahead of its final report to Parliament in May.

………The Commission’s opening tentative finding states that “South Australia can safely increase its participation in nuclear activities, and by doing so, significantly improve the economic welfare of the South Australian community.”

The evidence base for adopting such a confident and conclusive statement is questionable. In the case of nuclear industrial activities which have established links with health conditions including cancer and associated heart, lung and liver conditions and potential genetic harm, the safety or otherwise of an activity or regulatory regime can only be proven by epidemiological studies spanning a timeframe of decades. For example, little is known about the fates of worker cohorts from existing and past uranium mining and milling activity in South Australia………. The Commission has had time to consider this matter, but appears to have not deemed it sufficiently important. ……

I wish to make a case for the prioritisation of epidemiological studies of past and present South Australian uranium worker cohorts as a matter of the utmost importance. The results of such studies could provide an empirical basis for future commentary regarding the safety or otherwise of the industry as it has existed until now…….

The Commission states that “policies must be based on evidence, not opinion or emotion.” The same rule should apply to statements made by the Commission. To be considered credible, they must be supported by material evidence. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Harm can neither be proven, nor safety assured without relevant epidemiological studies. This was known to South Australia’s Department of Mines in 1956, when Dr. B. S. Hanson wrote in The Health of Workers in the Uranium Industry (pg. 16): “It is only by long-term health examinations that the validity of our present speculative exposure limits may be tested.” This document is currently available on SARIG, the South Australian government’s resources industry geoserver:…….

The available evidence suggests that contemporary publications of South Australian Government departments fail to adequately communicate occupational exposure risk to their readers. The perfect example of this is the Uranium fact sheet published by the Department of State Development in 2015, during the proceedings of this Commission. The “Fact Sheet” poses the question “Is uranium safe?” then neglects to answer the question. Instead, it provides the graphic reproduced from t=1458534521755

Compare this to Hanson and Armstrongs statement from 1956, in documents held by the same South Australian government, written 60 years earlier:

health-uranium-worker “Hazards associated with uranium ore are of two kinds, those due to radioactivity, including 6 external radiation as well as internal radiation; and those due to uranium metal poisoning. Radon gas and its solid daughter products would appear to offer the greatest potential danger. They can be inhaled and the solid products so lodged in the body.” (Armstrong, pg. 18)

“The individual employed in a mine or mill risks damage by external or internal radiation, and as to the latter the radioactive particles which form a danger are either ingested or inhaled.” (Hanson pg. 7)

“The daughter products are insoluble, but together with the dust to which they adhere some are engulfed by the reticulo-endothelial cells of the lung surface and there theoretically give a high intensity of alpha radiation to those very surface cells which form the type seen in the usual cancer of the lung.” (Hanson pg. 9)

“The inhalation of active deposit on dust particles, is so much the most important one that most of our [Department of Mines’] effort should be directed towards overcoming it.” (Hanson pg.10)

“In my opinion, dusty clothes inevitably mean an inhalation risk as well as an ingestion risk.” (Hanson pg.14)

“Almost without exception this report deals with the real or probable dangers of radioactivity.” (Hanson pg. 19)

The disparity between the messages of 1955 and 1956 (Department of Mines) and 2015 (Department of State Development) is alarming and deeply concerning……

April 22, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May, Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | 1 Comment

South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission virtually ignored dangers of transporting radioactive trash

As the days get a bit closer to #NuclearCommissionSAust’s announcement of its (predetermined) findings, we need to remember that the Commission’s “Issues Papers” almost completely ignored the question of the dangers of transporting highly radioactive trash across land and sea.

Paul Langley, in his fine response to the Commission’s “Tentative Findings”  raised this very important matter – in the extract below

Response to the Tentative Findings of the SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission A Submission by Paul Langley Nuclear Exhaust 16 Mar 16  “……Transport of HLNW from around the world to a SA HLNW geologic repository
radiation-truckThe Royal Commission apparently assumes that the movements of many hundreds of thousands of tonnes of spent nuclear fuel from many countries around the world to the Gawler Craton will be low risk, no problems and perfectly safe. As contradictory as those stances are. I do not accept that position of default safety. Further I do not accept that the unloading of the HLNW will be perfectly safe. I do not accept that road transport from port to repository site will be perfectly safe, even on a dedicated purpose built road.

ship radiationI would recommend that Super Freighters laden with the contents of countless reactor cores not sail down the Somali coast nor in the waters to the south of Thailand for fear of pirates. They should avoid man made Islands in the South China Sea. I suppose the ships will be guarded by 6 English policemen each with two revolvers between them. Rather than half the Pacific Fleet they would actually warrant. If they ever get to leave their home ports.  What is the Somali coast going to be like in 40 years? Peaceful or short of rad weapons?…….”

April 9, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May | Leave a comment

6 April – 6 May : Assessing the Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission before its results are released on 6 May

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINIt’s one month until the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission will announce its findings. And everyone knows what they will be  – “nuclear waste importing will be a bonanza for South Australia”

This is the first of the significant posts that will appear on this site each day, ,until 6th May.

Kevin Scarce has dismissed opposition to the plan as largely “emotional”, not “factual” . I suspect that will be the way in which the Commission will deal with the opposing Submissions.  Here’s today’s:

The Greens SA’s submission to the Nuclear Royal Commission’s Tentative Findings rejects the suggestion that an economic bonanza awaits our State if South Australians would only resign ourselves to becoming the world’s nuclear garbage bin.

graph S Aust waste dump costs

“The Royal Commission has been blinded by imaginary wealth and sucked into believing that a project that has never succeeded anywhere else in the World is South Australia’s for the taking”, said Greens SA Parliamentary Leader, Mark Parnell MLC.

“The most obvious question is being ignored: If this is such a great deal, how come no other country has grabbed it before now?

“The Greens are urging the Royal Commission to “get real” and critically examine the supposed economic benefits alongside the ongoing economic, social, environmental and reputational costs.

“Washing your hands of responsibility for a toxic legacy left to future generations is just immoral.

“The solution to South Australia’s current unemployment problems won’t be solved with mythical jobs that are decades into the future with the creation of toxic liabilities that last hundreds of thousands of year.

On releasing the “Tentative Findings” Report to the media on 15th February 2016, Commissioner Kevin Scarce stated, “The community needs to understand the risks and the benefits.”  The Royal Commission’s “Tentative Findings” highlights many purported benefits but is scant on detail when it comes to the profound risks.

According to the Greens’ submission, the “Tentative Findings” suffer from:
1.Unrealistic expectations of the magnitude of the project;
2.Failure to appreciate 6 decades of international failure to solve the nuclear waste problem;
3.Missing costs, unfunded liabilities, missing contingencies and failure to recognise inevitable cost blow-outs
4.Heroic assumptions of other countries’ willingness to pay for SA to take their nuclear waste;
5.Lack of recognition of the potential for irrecoverable sunk costs and unlimited future liabilities;
6.Failure to address reputational damage and impact on other sectors of the economy; and
7.Naïve expectations that South Australia would get to keep all the profits from a nuclear waste dump in our State, without having to share them with other States.

“The Commission’s final report due on 6th May should recommend that the folly of South Australia’s increased involvement in the nuclear industry be abandoned.

“In relation to the other Terms of Reference, increased uranium mining, uranium processing or nuclear power were never really an option for SA and the Royal Commission was an expensive way to tell us what we already knew”, concluded Mark Parnell.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May | Leave a comment