Australian news, and some related international items

World wide climate protests, by hundreds of thousands of school students

Even in chilly Oklahoma, USA – Students rally for climate change

Hundreds of thousands leave schools world-wide to protest climate change inaction, SBS NEWS< 17 Mar 19, Hundreds of thousands of students in more than 2000 cities from Australia to Uganda and Germany left the classroom on Friday to protest government inaction on climate change.


March 18, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

India -Pakistan just that little bit closer to that nuclear war brink

Indian military confirms deployment of nuclear subs amid rising tensions with Pakistan, AMN By News Desk2019-03-17

Tensions between the two nuclear-armed Asian powers escalated last month, after an incursion into Pakistani territory in Kashmir by Indian Air Force warplanes to strike at Jihadist militants led to skirmishes in the air and small arms and artillery fire along the shaky Line of Control border.

Major combat units of the Indian Navy including the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier-led battle group, nuclear submarines “and scores of other ships, submarines and aircraft” were quickly shifted from exercises to operational deployment as tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad escalated, India’s Ministry of Defence revealed in a statement Sunday……..

Earlier Sunday, sources speaking to Reuters reportedly said that India and Pakistan had threatened to lob nuclear missiles at each other during the crisis and that only US officials’ intervention helped to defuse what may have well turned into a much deadlier conflict. ……

Tensions continue to smolder, with regular reports of airspace violations, military drills held in the sensitive border area, and back and forth allegations of ceasefire violations amid small arms and artillery fire along the Line of Control in Kashmir.

March 18, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Roland Oldham, French Polynesia’s leading advocate for the victims of France’s nuclear weapons tests has died.

Leading Tahiti anti-nuclear advocate Roland Oldham dies,  18 Mar 19, French Polynesia’s leading advocate for the victims of France’s nuclear weapons tests has died.

Roland Oldham, who was the founder and president of the organisation Moruroa e tatou, died at the age of 68.

He had been a teacher and a unionist who had also lived in New Zealand.

Mr Oldham spearheaded Tahiti’s efforts to get France to pay compensation for those suffering ill health as a result of the weapons tests carried out between 1966 and 1996.

He was locked in a battle with the French state which only a decade ago admitted that the tests caused radiation-induced diseases.

In the face of France rejecting almost all compensation claims Mr Oldham pushed for a review of the law.

It has been amended and France now says more victims will be compensated.

Tens of thousands of military and civilian personnel were involved in the testing regime at Moruroa and Fangataufa where a total of 193 were carried out.

In the 1990s, Mr Oldham, whose organisation wasn’t affiliated to any political party, was under surveillance of the local intelligence agency.

March 18, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate striker Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel peace prize 

Teenage Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Has Been Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize Adam Vaughan

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old from Sweden who started a global movement of schoolchildren striking to demand climate change action, has been nominated for the Nobel peace prize.

The nomination comes a day before thousands of pupils worldwide are expected to walk out of school in more than 1,600 towns and cities across more than 100 countries.

If she won, Thunberg would be the youngest person to become a Nobel peace prize laureate, a title Malala Yousafzai took as a 17-year-old in 2014 for her work on the right to education.

Climate winner

It would also be only the second time an individual had won for work on climate change. The first was former US vice-president Al Gore, who was awarded the prize in 2007 alongside the UN climate science group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Thunberg tweeted that she was: “Honoured and very grateful for this nomination.”

The nomination was made by Freddy André Øvstegård, a member of the Norwegian parliament, and two colleagues in the Socialist Left Party.

March 16, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Youth climate strikes held in 100 countries

‘Fridays for future’ marches for climate change going global | DW News

It’s our time to rise up’: youth climate strikes held in 100 countries Sandra LavilleMatthew Taylorand Daniel Hurst, Sat 16 Mar 2019 

School and university students continue Friday protests to call for political action on crisis  From Australia to America, children put down their books on Friday to march for change in the first global climate strike.

The event was embraced in the developing nations of India and Uganda and in the Philippines and Nepal – countries acutely impacted by climate change – as tens of thousands of schoolchildren and students in more than 100 countries went on “strike”, demanding the political elite urgently address what they say is a climate emergency. Continue reading

March 16, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Three Mile Island and thyroid cancer: they now have a “marker” for radiation-caused cancer

thyroid cancer caused by low-level radiation has a different “mutational signal” than most thyroid cancer, Goldenberg said. He and his colleagues used molecular research that had been pioneered after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to find that genetic marker.  

Three Mile Island and thyroid cancer: Debates continue over health issues after nuclear plant accident

On March 28, 1979, Chris Achenbach-Kimmel was a 14-year-old freshman at Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill, Cumberland County. Fourteen miles away, on the Susquehanna River, staff at Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station were trying to contain the damage from an accident at one of its reactors.

“I just remember being in class, and just getting the news, and wondering, what does this mean?”……

Her mother kept her and her siblings inside as much as possible. TV news reports echoed through the house as her mother waited for an “all clear” from authorities. ……

For Achenbach-Kimmel, the accident became merely one more high school memory. She graduated in 1982 and went on to a career in occupational therapy.

It wasn’t until her thyroid cancer diagnosis in 2010 that she thought again about Three Mile Island. Continue reading

March 16, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear station in Nebraska prepares for potential flooding, in powerful winter storm

Nebraska preps nuclear plant for possible flooding, no public danger, March 15, 2019 

(Reuters) – Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) on Friday declared an “unusual event” at its Cooper nuclear power station in Nebraska due to the possibility of flooding along the Missouri River following a powerful winter storm this week.

The plant continues to operate safely and “there is no threat to plant employees or to the public,” the utility said in a release.

The late winter storm, dubbed a “bomb cyclone” by meteorologists, left blizzards, floods and tornados in its wake after hitting the U.S. Mountain and Plains states this week, before pushing east into the Midwest and the Great Lakes Region early Friday.

NPPD said its workers have filled sandbags along the river levee and procured other materials and supplies for flood protection.

The biggest danger to a nuclear plant from flooding is the loss of power, which can make it difficult to cool the uranium fuel in the reactor core and the fuel stored in the spent fuel pool.

That is what caused the fuel in some reactor cores at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan to partially melt down in 2011 after a giant earthquake and tsunami cut power to the plant.

Since Fukushima, all U.S. reactors have been upgraded with additional safety equipment, including portable pumps and generators to keep cooling water circulating through the reactor in case the plant loses offsite power.

NPPD said its procedures require it to declare an unusual event to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission when the Missouri River tops 899 feet above sea level. It reached 899.05 feet Friday morning, the company said.

Should the river rise to 900 feet above sea level, NPPD said plant workers will “barricade internal doorways as another layer of protection for facility equipment.”

If the river reaches 901.5 feet above sea level, NPPD said it would take the station offline as a protective measure.

The plant was built at 903 feet above sea level, which is 13 feet above natural grade, NPPD said.

The Cooper station is three miles (4.8 km) southeast of Brownville, Nebraska, near the Missouri River.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by David Gregorio and Richard Chang)

March 16, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

3 decades later, many believe that this horrendous murder was done to protect the nuclear industry

Robert isn’t alone. He has documented the harassment and even murder of other whistleblowers who spoke out about contentious nuclear issues, or attempted to supply him with sensitive information.  

March 14, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

From Australia to Japan to India, USA also, youths will skip school on March 15 to protest against climate change

Striking for the future: From Australia to Japan to India, youths will skip school on March 15 to protest against climate change

Students from at least six Asian countries will take part in Global Strike for Future
But authorities in some countries have warned students not to disrupt classes South
China Morning Post Zoe Low 10 Mar, 2019 On March 15, students from at least six countries in the Asia-Pacific will be part of a global school strike to demand concrete action from governments to tackle climate change.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The startling and continuing costs of the Fukushima nuclear accident

Asahi Shimbun 10th March 2019 In a startling disparity, a private think tank puts the cost of addressing the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster between 35 trillion yen and 81 trillion yen ($315 billion and $728 billion), compared with the government estimate of 22 trillion yen.

The calculation, by the Tokyo-based Japan Center for Economic Research, showed that the total could soar to at least 60 percent more and up to 3.7 times more than the 2016 estimate by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. In releasing the latest estimates on March 7, the center said it is time for serious debate over the role nuclear energy
should play in the nation’s mid- and long-term energy policy.

Of the highest price tag of 81 trillion yen, 51 trillion yen would go toward decommissioning the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and treating and disposing of radioactive water. The ministry put the cost for these tasks at 8 trillion yen. The center calculated the compensation to victims at 10 trillion yen, while the comparable estimate by the ministry
was 8 trillion yen.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Encouragement to the kids, who no doubt will be ridiculed for standing up about climate change

Striking schoolkids should wear storm of criticism as a badge of honour By John Birmingham March 11, 2019  
 I hope a lot of school kids join this global children’s strike on Friday and I hope they’re mocked and traduced by their elders in politics and the media, because those elders aren’t really their betters on this issue; they’re mostly either dangerous fools or mendacious swine.

The hammer of the coming climate catastrophe will fall most heavily on these kids and eventually upon their children and grandchildren, 20, 30, 40 years from now, and it will do them no harm to take a few rhetorical knocks from a bunch of bloviating, overpaid idiots simply because they chose to step up and take action now. It’ll be good practice.

They’re going to be doing this for the rest of their lives, unless they’re cool with those lives ending in famine, superstorms and wars over diminishing water supplies, and shrinking remnants of arable land.

Protest won’t directly change that of course. Only radically revised policy settings, massive expenditure on clean energy R&D, and the accelerated deployment of paradigm shifting new technologies can change that. But that change will come only when political actors feel a real sense of terror for their futures. Not the future of the planet and its inhabitants, mind you. Just for their own immediate futures. Their pay cheques.

When they feel that existential terror creeping up on them, you’ll start to see things like Tony ‘climate change is BS’ Abbott, perform the sort of tortured interpretive dance routine the electors of Warringah have enjoyed this week.

Abbott is tying himself into Yogi Master knots as he tries to fend off the challenge of Zali Steggall, a highly accomplished and impeccably conservative independent candidate for his seat, who somehow manages to believe in the free market, the primacy of the individual, franking credits for everyone and how awesome it would be if our lives didn’t end in famine, superstorms and war over diminishing water supplies etc, etc.

The only reason Abbott and his fellow travellers on the dirty great coal train to oblivion feel any need to move away from their previous embrace of pro-apocalypse energy policy is because they can see that public opinion has moved on. Year after year of worsening climate and extreme weather events will eventually do that to people.

All those kids who strike on Friday are helping to move that opinion. Yeah, they’ll be derided and ridiculed, their motives questioned and belittled. But they just need to remind themselves that those who caused this problem will soon enough all be dead, leaving them to clean up the mess.

Best they get started now.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Endless clean-up work at Fukushima nuclear wreck

TV5 Monde 8th March 2019, Japan: 8 years after the tsunami, the Fukushima power station remains a  huge construction site. The immediate risk seems to be averted, but where arduous tasks and unforeseen events continue.
Here are the three main issues:
Nuclear fuel Four of the six reactors at the plant were damaged.  The cores of units 1 to 3 have melted at the time of the accident and it is now known that the fuel has almost completely fallen to the bottom of the primary containment of each unit, which it even partially started.
Contaminated water, waste. The site is teeming with contaminated water, “although the various measures taken have mitigated” the problem, according to Mr. Ono. The water is initially that of the tsunami that ravaged the facilities, water that had to pump, sanitize and store. It is then the one
used to cool the reactors and finally the one that falls from the sky and down the mountain upstream and contaminates the way. However, an underground barrier wall and pumps make it possible to limit the amount of water contaminated by the installations.
About 4 / 5,000 people work on the site every day, almost half as many as four years ago, “because large construction sites have been completed (wall of ice, laying a coating on the ground, construction of various buildings), “says Ono. On average, the exposure of workers to radiation is now less than 5 mSV per year, but this single figure masks the large disparities between individuals according to their tasks.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Small modular nuclear reactors headed for the graveyard

An obituary for small modular reactors Jim Green, The Ecologist, 11 March 2019,

The nuclear industry is heavily promoting the idea of building small modular reactors (SMRs), with near-zero prospects for new large power reactors in many countries. These reactors would have a capacity of under 300 megawatts (MW), whereas large reactors typically have a capacity of 1,000 MW.

Construction at reactor sites would be replaced with standardised factory production of reactor components then installation at the reactor site, thereby driving down costs and improving quality control.

The emphasis in this article is on the questionable economics of SMRs, but a couple of striking features of the SMR universe should be mentioned (for details see the latest issue of Nuclear Monitor).

First, the enthusiasm for SMRs has little to do with climate-friendly environmentalism. About half of the SMRs under construction (Russia’s floating power plant, Russia’s RITM-200 icebreaker ships, and China’s ACPR50S demonstration reactor) are designed to facilitate access to fossil fuel resources in the Arctic, the South China Sea and elsewhere. Another example comes from Canada, where one application of SMRs under consideration is providing power and heat for the extraction of hydrocarbons from oil sands.

A second striking feature of the SMR universe is that it is deeply interconnected with militarism:

  • Argentina’s experience and expertise with small reactors derives from its historic weapons program, and its interest in SMRs is interconnected with its interest in small reactors for naval propulsion.
  • China’s interest in SMRs extends beyond fossil fuel mining and includes powering the construction and operation of artificial islands in its attempt to secure claim to a vast area of the South China Sea.
  • Saudi Arabia’s interest in SMRs is likely connected to its interest in developing nuclear weapons or a latent weapons capability.
  • A subsidiary of Holtec International has actively sought a military role, inviting the US National Nuclear Security Administration to consider the feasibility of using a proposed SMR to produce tritium, used to boost the explosive yield of nuclear weapons.
  • Proposals are under consideration in the US to build SMRs at military bases and perhaps even to use them to power forward operating bases.
  • In the UK, Rolls-Royce is promoting SMRs on the grounds that “a civil nuclear UK SMR programme would relieve the Ministry of Defence of the burden of developing and retaining skills and capability”.

Independent economic assessments

SMRs will almost certainly be more expensive than large reactors (more precisely, construction costs will be lower but the electricity produced by SMRs will be more expensive). Continue reading

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear shills busily promoting the industry on the anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe

Libbe HaLevy Nuclear Spinbuster, 11 Mar 19, 

Today is the 8th anniversary of the earthquake/tsunami/start of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. I’m taking note of the full-court-press of MSM articles extolling nuclear (Shellenberger in pro-nuclear Forbes really twisted his mental knickers in a bunch) and denigrating everyone/thing from Linear No Threshold (which holds that radiation exposure is cumulative and there is no exposure level that is safe) to that perennial target, Dr. Helen Mary Caldicott. The nuclear industry pays millions every year to their PR shills and focus groups to psychologically hone their talking points and convince us that they’re AOK! All we’ve got is us – and the truth. To my dear friends who mourn the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear consequences of 3/11/11, may we be safe and persist and succeed… whatever that may mean

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Adults won’t take climate change seriously. So we, the youth, are forced to strike

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists By Maddy FernandsIsra HirsiHaven ColemanAlexandria Villaseñor, March 7, 2019 Editor’s note: The authors are the lead organizers of US Youth Climate Strike, part of a global student movement inspired by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg’s weekly school strikes in Sweden and other European countries.

We, the youth of America, are fed up with decades of inaction on climate change. On Friday, March 15, young people like us across the United States will strike from school. We strike to bring attention to the millions of our generation who will most suffer the consequences of increased global temperatures, rising seas, and extreme weather. But this isn’t a message only to America. It’s a message from the world, to the world, as students in dozens of countries on every continent will be striking together for the first time.

For decades, the fossil fuel industry has pumped greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. Thirty years ago, climate scientist James Hansen warned Congress about climate change. Now, according to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on global temperature rise, we have only 11 years to prevent even worse effects of climate change. And that is why we strike.

We strike to support the Green New Deal. Outrage has swept across the United States over the proposed legislation. Some balk at the cost of transitioning the country to renewable energy, while others recognize its far greater benefit to society as a whole. The Green New Deal is an investment in our future—and the future of generations beyond us—that will provide jobs, critical new infrastructure and most importantly, the drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions essential to limit global warming. And that is why we strike.

To many people, the Green New Deal seems like a radical, dangerous idea. That same sentiment was felt in 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed the New Deal—a drastic piece of legislation credited with ending the Great Depression that threatened (and cost) many lives in this country…….

The alarming symptoms of Climate Denialism—a serious condition affecting both the hallways of government and the general population—mark our current historical crossroads of make-it-or-break-it action on climate change. Although there are many reasons for this affliction—such as difficulty grasping the abstract concept of a globally changed climate, or paralysis in the face of overwhelming environmental catastrophe—the primary mode of Climate Denialism contagion involves lies spouted by politicians, large corporations, and interest groups. People in power, like Senator McConnell and the Koch brothers, have used money and power to strategically shift the narrative on climate change and spread lies that allow themselves and other fossil fuel industry beneficiaries to keep the fortunes they’ve built on burning fossil fuels and degrading the environment. …….

We strike because our world leaders haven’t acknowledged, prioritized, or properly addressed the climate crisis. We strike because marginalized communities across our nation—especially communities of color and low income communities—are already disproportionately impacted by climate change. We strike because if the societal order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then influential adults will be forced to take note, face the urgency of the climate crisis, and enact change. With our future at stake, we call for radical legislative action—now—to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people. We strike for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100 percent renewable economy, and to stop creation of new fossil fuel infrastructure. We strike because we believe the climate crisis should be called what it really is: A national emergency, because we are running out of time.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment