Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s nuclear testing before the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne should be a red flag for Fukushima in 2020

 Part time tutor in Medical Education, University of Dundee

The scheduling of Tokyo 2020 Olympic events at Fukushima is being seen as a public relations exercise to dampen fears over continuing radioactivity from the reactor explosion that followed the massive earthquake six years ago.

It brings to mind the British atomic bomb tests in Australia that continued until a month before the opening of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne – despite the known dangers of fallout travelling from the testing site at Maralinga to cities in the east. And it reminds us of the collusion between scientists and politicians – British and Australian – to cover up the flawed decision-making that led to continued testing until the eve of the Games.

Australia’s prime minister Robert Menzies agreed to atomic testing in December 1949. Ten months earlier, Melbourne had secured the 1956 Olympics even though the equestrian events would have to be held in Stockholm because of Australia’s strict horse quarantine regimes.

The equestrians were well out of it. Large areas of grazing land – and therefore the food supplies of major cities such as Melbourne – were covered with a light layer of radiation fallout from the six atomic bombs detonated by Britain during the six months prior to the November 1956 opening of the Games. Four of these were conducted in the eight weeks running up to the big event, 1,000 miles due west of Melbourne at Maralinga.

Bombs and games

In the 25 years I have been researching the British atomic tests in Australia, I have found only two mentions of the proximity of the Games to the atomic tests. Not even the Royal Commission into the tests in 1985 addressed the known hazards of radioactive fallout for the athletes and spectators or those who lived in the wide corridor of the radioactive plumes travelling east.

At the time, the approaching Olympics were referred to only once in the Melbourne press in relation to the atomic tests, in August 1956. It is known that D-notices from the government “requesting” editors to refrain from publishing information about certain defence and security matters were issued.

The official history of the tests by British nuclear historian Lorna Arnold, published by the UK government in 1987 and no longer in print, reports tests director William Penney signalling concern only once, in late September 1956:

Am studying arrangements firings but not easy. Have Olympic Games in mind but still believe weather will not continue bad.

This official history doesn’t comment on the implications. And nowhere in the 1985 Royal Commission report is there any reference to the opening of the Olympics, just one month and a day after the fourth test took place 1,000 miles away.

The 1984 report of the Expert Committee on the review of Data on Atmospheric Fallout Arising from British Nuclear Tests in Australia found that the methodology used to estimate the numbers of people who might have been harmed by this fallout at fewer than 10 was inappropriate. And it concluded that if the dose calculations were confined to the communities in the path of the fallout and not merged with the total Australian population “such an exercise would generate results several orders of magnitude higher than those based on conventional philosophy”. There was no mention of the Olympic Games.

Neither Prime Minister Menzies nor his cabinet ever referred publicly to what had been known from the outset – that the British atomic tests in Australia would almost coincide with the Melbourne Olympics. The tests and the Games were planned simultaneously through the first half of the 1950s.

In May 1955, 18 months before the Olympics were due to start, Howard Beale, the Australian minister for supply, announced the building of “the Los Alamos of the British Commonwealth” (a nuclear test site in New Mexico) at Maralinga, promising that “tests would only take place in meteorological conditions which would carry radioactive clouds harmlessly away into the desert”.

An Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee was formed by the Australians but was closely controlled by physicist Professor Ernest Titterton, the only Englishman on the panel. The 1985 Royal Commission stated explicitly that the AWTSC was complicit in the firing of atomic detonations in weather conditions that they knew could carry radioactive fallout a thousand miles from Maralinga to eastern cities such as Melbourne.

Hazards of radioactivity

Professor Titterton, who had recently been appointed to a chair in nuclear physics at the Australian National University after working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, and at Aldermaston in England, explained why the atomic devices were being tested in Australia:

Because of the hazards from the radioactivity which follows atomic weapons explosions, the tests are best carried out in isolated regions – usually a desert area … Most of the radioactivity produced in the explosion is carried up in the mushroom cloud and drifts downward under atmospheric airstreams. But particular material in this cloud slowly settles to the ground and may render an area dangerously radioactive out to distances ranging between 50 and several hundred miles … It would therefore be hazardous to explode even the smallest weapons in the UK, and it was natural for the mother country to seek test sites elsewhere in the Commonwealth.

The AWTSC published two scientific papers in 1957 and 1958 which flat out denied that any dangerous levels of radioactivity reached the eastern states. But their measurements relied on a very sparse scattering of sticky paper monitors – rolls of gummed film set out to catch particles of fallout – even though these could be washed off by rain.

Despite their clear denials in these papers, meteorological records show that prior to the Games there was rain in Melbourne which could have deposited radioactivity on the ground.

The AWTSC papers included maps purporting to show the plumes of radioactive fallout travelling north and west from Maralinga in the South Australian desert. The Royal Commission published expanded maps (see page 292) based on the AWTSC’s own data and found the fallout pattern to be much wider and more complex. The Australian scientist Hedley Marston’s study of radioactivity uptake in animals showed a far more significant covering of fallout on a wide swathe of Australian grazing land than indicated by the sticky paper samples of the AWTSC.

The 1985 Royal Commission report into British Nuclear Tests in Australia discussed many of these issues, but never in relation to the proximity and timing of the 1956 Olympic Games. Sixty years later, are we seeing the same denial of known hazards six years after the reactor explosion at Fukushima?

 

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July 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Advancing responsible radioactive waste management in Australia.

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF Briefing note: March 2018

Overview:

Radioactive waste management in Australia has been a contested, divisive and ultimately non-productive area of public policy for decades. The timing and circumstances are now conducive for adopting a revised approach that is more likely to advance responsible national radioactive waste management and agreed and lasting outcomes.

This approach to responsible radioactive waste management in Australia is founded on not imposing any federal facility on an unwilling community, acting in a manner consistent with both existing state and territory laws and leading international industry practise and ensuring high standards of extended federal interim storage at the two secured sites where the majority of the waste is sited pending an inclusive and robust examination of the range of long term future management options.

Scale and current context:

Australia holds around 4250 cubic metres of low level radioactive waste and 655 cubic metres of longlived intermediate level waste. Around 95% of this material is currently stored at two secured Federal sites. Nearly all of Australia’s intermediate level waste is held where it was created at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) Lucas Heights nuclear reactor facility in southern Sydney. This material is Australia’s highest level radioactive waste and is the most significant management challenge. Most of the low-level waste is at the Defence Department’s Woomera site in South Australia.

The National Radioactive Waste Management Project:

The current preferred federal plan involves the emplacement and covering of containerised low-level radioactive wastes and the above ground storage of long lived higher level waste at a single regional or remote site. There is no intention to recover the low-level material – it would be disposed of in-situ.

There are plans to remove the higher-level waste for deep geological disposal at a location yet to be determined after a period of between 20 to 100 years. The current approach to intermediate level waste management is not best international practice. Instead it is based on unnecessary transport and doublehandling and replacing above ground interim storage at ANSTO for above ground interim storage at a far less resourced regional facility.

Since April 2016 South Australia has been the only region under active consideration as a site for a federal radioactive waste facility. Three sites, one at Barndioota in the Flinders Ranges and two near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula, are under consideration. All sites are contested and there is considerable Aboriginal and wider community concern, opposition and division. Existing SA legislation, the Nuclear Waste Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000, makes the federal plan unlawful in SA. While the federal government could override any state legislative road-blocks doing so would be inconsistent with leading practise for facility siting and open to clear procedural and legal challenge.

The employment and economic opportunities provided by the federal radioactive waste plan are modest. There would be some short-term fencing and construction work and there are plans for twelve to fifteen (fte) security and maintenance jobs, an interim ‘disruption’ payment of two million dollars for community programs in the affected regions and a ‘community benefit fund’ of no more than ten million dollars (with no clear guidance on where, when or how the federal government would allocate this money).

Previous federal attempts over many years to impose a radioactive waste dump on multiple sites in regional South Australia and the Northern Territory have all failed.

The case for a revised approach: Extended interim storage and option assessment:

Leading civil society organisations including environment, public health, Indigenous and trade union groups all support an expert, open and independent Inquiry into the full range of radioactive waste management options.

Radioactive waste remains a concern for thousands of years and its management demands the highest quality decision making and information. Enhanced and extended interim storage at current federal facilities offers a policy circuit-breaker and, coupled with an options review, is the best way to identify and advance lasting and responsible radioactive waste management.

Extended interim storage, particularly at Lucas Heights given this site is already home to the most problematic wastes, is prudent and credible as:

ANSTO is already both the continuing producer of and home to virtually all of Australia’s higher level radioactive waste

 ANSTO has certainty of tenure, a secure perimeter and is monitored 24/7 by Australian federal police

 Storing the waste at ANSTO means the waste will be actively managed as operations at the site are licensed for a further three decades. It also keeps waste management on the radar of the facility/people with the highest level of nuclear expertise and radiation response capacity in Australia

 After community opposition and Federal Court action ended an earlier proposed waste site at Muckaty (NT) ANSTO constructed and commissioned a new purpose built on site store dedicated to housing reprocessed spent nuclear fuel waste which returned from France in late 2015. This Interim Waste Store has a conservative design life of forty years, its license is not time limited and it has (if required) regulatory approval to store these reprocessed wastes ‘until the availability of a final disposal option’.

 Extended interim storage at ANSTO helps reduce any political pressure to rush to find a ‘remote’ out of sight, out of mind dump site and increases the chances of advancing responsible management

 Storage at ANSTO has been previously identified as a credible and feasible option by ANSTO, nuclear industry lobby group the Australian Nuclear Association and, most importantly, the federal nuclear regulator, the Australian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

There is no regulatory or radiological impediment to extended interim storage at Lucas Heights. ANSTO’s facility is prohibited from becoming a permanent disposal site, however there are no comparable constraints on it as a site for extended storage.

Importantly, this approach also provides the ability to have a circuit breaker in this long running issue in the form of an evidence based and open review of the best long-term management options.

Nothing about the nuclear industry, especially nuclear waste, is clean or uncomplicated but extended interim federal storage – coupled with a wider robust public review of the full range of longer term management options – is the approach that is most likely to advance and realise lasting and responsible radioactive waste management in Australia.

July 13, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, reference | Leave a comment

Paul Waldon on the unreliability of manufactured news from the Department of Industry Innovation and Science (DIIS)

Paul Waldon Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA July 4 

Where are all of these alleged proponents of a nuclear waste dump that the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has claimed support the risk of contaminating their own environment of Hawker for a few jobs.

Only one, yes 1, that’s less than two, nearly zero, zip, squat, zilch, butt kiss, and it was only that one elderly local that got up and spoke in support of a risky program at the Hawker community meeting on the 6th of May 2016. A man with No conscience, and willing to burden the young with the contamination of Hawker and the Flinders,

the same meeting that had over 100 concerned people decrying the abandonment of radioactive waste, yet the DIIS claim this one man was the majority. The augury of the DIIS’s factoids needs to raised so people are adroit to the dangers of their manufactured figures.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/

July 6, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, reference | Leave a comment

Geologists warn that the Barndioota region is a dangerous site for nuclear waste dumping

Barb Walker to Quorn – Out & About Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA June 25

From: Professor Chris von der Borch
For distribution: The Advertiser, The Transcontinental, The Town Crier, Quorn Out and About, The Mercury and Get About – Hawker.
Received: Sunday, June 24th 2018

Subject: Proposed nuclear waste dump near Hawker.

“A site on the western slopes of the Flinders Range west of Hawker is one of the key areas currently under consideration for storage of low level, and the much more dangerous intermediate level, nuclear waste. A number of distinguished geological colleagues and myself, who collectively share many decades of geological research in the proposed area, are very concerned that the one of the suggested storage sites, in the Barndioota region, ticks “all the wrong boxes” as a fail-safe option.

Such nuclear waste, which would have a radioactive half-life of tens of thousands of years, needs a careful consideration of the geological parameters of a proposed responsible storage site, rather than what appears to be “political expediency”! And the site under consideration would certainly not satisfy these geological considerations.

It lies in one of the most seismically active regions of Australia. It lies in a zone which is subject to catastrophic flash-flooding and mudflow activity. The area is adjacent to a major saline lake, Lake Torrens, which is a “terminal drainage area”, meaning that all surface and underground run-off from the ranges ends up in the periodically drying surface lake sediments. So the bottom line is that, were such a storage site were to break down within the next several thousand years, radioactive material would end up in the surface sediments of Lake Torrens. Dry desert winds would then have the potential to disperse radioactive dust over large areas which may well be occupied by humans in the future.”  https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Fight%20To%20Stop%20Nuclear%20Waste%20Dump%20In%20Flinders%20Ranges%20SA

June 27, 2018 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, reference, South Australia | Leave a comment

Response to ‘Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems’

   Science Direct 18 May 18 

May 19, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Scientists refute Ben Heard’s paper opposing reneweable energy

Can we get 100 percent of our energy from renewable sources? https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-05/luot-cwg051718.php New article gathers the evidence to address the sceptics LAPPEENRANTA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY 

Is there enough space for all the wind turbines and solar panels to provide all our energy needs? What happens when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow? Won’t renewables destabilise the grid and cause blackouts?

In a review paper last year in the high-ranking journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Master of Science Benjamin Heard (at left) and colleagues presented their case against 100% renewable electricity systems. They doubted the feasibility of many of the recent scenarios for high shares of renewable energy, questioning everything from whether renewables-based systems can survive extreme weather events with low sun and low wind, to the ability to keep the grid stable with so much variable generation.

Now scientists have hit back with their response to the points raised by Heard and colleagues.The researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Delft University of Technology and Aalborg University have analysed hundreds of studies from across the scientific literature to answer each of the apparent issues. They demonstrate that there are no roadblocks on the way to a 100% renewable future. Continue reading

May 19, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Maralinga Britain’s guinea pig land for toxic nuclear bomb testing

Australia’s Least Likely Tourist Spot: A Test Site for Atom Bombs, NYT, 

April 18, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, personal stories, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Submission for the public good – to Senate Inquiry on nuclear waste dump selection

Submission to Senate Standing Committees on Economics “Selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia “

My name is Noel Wauchope. I am a former school teacher, having taught science in secondary schools. I have a long term interest in nuclear issues. I would say that I am a generalist, rather than a specialist in a scientific field. I believe that this generalist approach is an advantage in examining and communicating about a nuclear waste dump proposal. All too often, even very well educated people are intimidated by the technical jargon of experts on nuclear technology, and thus become reluctant to form their own opinion.

I note the specific terms of reference that we are encouraged to address, and I deplore the fact that they, and the title of this Inquiry, are already begging the question – by stating “in South Australia”.

Already we are all supposed to accept without question the proposition that South Australia is the location for the federal nuclear waste dump – done and dusted!

SUMMARY

My main concern is in addressing  b the concept of “broad community support”. The Inquiry ‘s brief for this appears to  be confined  to the Kimba and Hawker people. The establishment of a nuclear waste facility at Kimba or Hawker will involve transport of radioactive wastes through the region, and will have ramifications for its economy, agriculture and tourism. The local communities have not been properly informed, and pretty well brain-washed with the myth that the nuclear waste dump is a “medical necessity”.  The nature of the wastes, lumping together Intermediate Level Wastes (ILW) and Low Level Wastes (LLW) is a messy and confusing plan, and its real meaning has not been explained to them. The safety problems with waste canisters have not been discussed. These local communities are not aware of their future in hosting “stranded wastes” – as there is no existing plan for the permanent burial of the very long lasting ILW wastes.

The involvement of indigenous people by the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) has been inadequate, and the idea that they support the plan is simply not believable, in view of the poor survey practices carried out, and the clear opposition of leading Aboriginal organisations.

e Eyre Peninsular , state-wide and nation-wide community views should be considered.

Related matters include South Australia’s law prohibiting nuclear waste facilities,  best practice for managing nuclear wastes, publicity and media coverage, and a responsible approach to radioactive waste management, and  Australia- wide decision-making.   Continue reading

March 26, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics, reference | Leave a comment

David Noonan’s Submissions to Senate regarding Reprocessing Nuclear Fuel and Safety of Intermediate Level Wastes

two David Noonan Submissions to current Federal Parliamentary Inquiry by Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT) Reprocessing Nuclear fuel – France (to report by 19 June) have been made public,

An ARPANSA Submission (23 Feb, 2 pages) “regarding the safety of intermediate level waste” has also been made public, at: https://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=0739bc51-9403-4490-b0ce-c8cc6ed074a2&subId=563939

See below url’s & extracts for DN sub’s & JSCT Inquiry homepage at: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Treaties/NuclearFuel-France

D Noonan Submission (14 Feb): “Public Interest Questions, Scenarios and Consequences of ‘Reprocessing Nuclear fuel – France’ treaty actions & associated nuclear actions”

https://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=eab981b4-146d-4b66-aad9-59f64b275db0&subId=563627

ANSTO is without a Plan B to address key public interest scenarios which demand answers:

·         Reprocessing in France will not prove to be available throughout the OPAL reactor Operating License to 2057. At most, this treaty covers the first 2 of 5 decades of OPAL fuel wastes;

 ·         AND the proposed above ground Store in SA for ANSTO’s nuclear waste will damage and divide community and fall over and fail just as prior attempts have in SA and in NT.

If the OPAL reactor is to continue to operate ANSTO must address required contingencies:

·         Extended Storage of OPAL nuclear fuel waste on-site at Lucas Heights in secure cask storage. Lucas Height operates a Store for HIFAR nuclear fuel wastes with capacity to do so until availability of a final disposal option and can now set up to do so for OPAL fuel wastes;

 ·         AND to have to manage ANSTO nuclear fuel wastes entirely with-in Australia through to final disposal. Sending OPAL nuclear fuel waste overseas for reprocessing is used as an excuse to produce a burden of further nuclear waste without capacity or answers for its disposal. …

my Supplementary Submission (28 Feb) provides further evidence on three key aspects:

https://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=f42dce88-9ecf-44f0-8195-5e9e552de078&subId=563627

1. Reprocessing is not International Best Practice, is in decline, and may leave ANSTO stranded

… A key Reprocessing review for consideration by JSCT is: ‘Plutonium Separation in Nuclear Power Programs. Status, Problems, and Prospects of Civilian Reprocessing around the World‘ (IPFM, July 2015), see: http://fissilematerials.org/library/2015/07/plutonium_separation_in_nuclea.html

France is currently the only country in the world that operates a commercial-scale spent fuel reprocessing plant.”  (IPFM Report, Country Studies Chapter 3 France p.30)

 … ANSTO should disclose the additional cost in Reprocessing compared to dry-cask storage

“The cost of spent-fuel reprocessing also is about ten times the cost of the alternative option for managing spent fuel, dry-cask spent-fuel storage.” (IPFM, Intro p.11)

 2. Extended Storage of ANSTO nuclear fuel waste at Lucas Heights is a viable option

& Contingency to return OPAL reactor Reprocessed fuel waste to Storage at LHs

3. ANSTO failure to provide a disposal strategy for OPAL nuclear fuel wastes flouts best practice

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

I will say NO to the waste dump

Regina McKenzie Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, February 3, 2017  Back home on the Range, seeing it made a lump come into my throat, how can any one even think of putting a waste dump in such a beautiful ancient land?

We the people of this land comes from a group of nations, that were hunted in the past, the Government of them days actually supported the activity of early settlers, a five pound bounty, which was a lot of money in those days, was paid per scalp of Aboriginals, blankets that was exposed to small pox given out to unsuspecting yura’s, who then shared these gifts to the wider Aboriginal people, hence spreading the disease to people who had no immunity to it and can’t forget the water hole being poisoned, what I am getting at is back then, when we were hunted, this land was our sanctuary all the decimated nations fled into the hills, thus forming the Adnyamathanha people, adnya meaning rock and mathanaha meaning groups, it was the hills of this beautiful land that saved us,

I hear many say oh thank goodness for the missionaries they helped us ….. NO they only contained us on missions, taking control of our lives, banning the people to practice culture and making public enemies of the ones who stood strong, it was the land that gave us places to hide and why we are still here, so why do Yura’s take it for granted? why do they turn their back? why do they so cowardly bend their knee?

I will stand for the land, I will fight with every ounce of my strength, I live and breath this land, it is my solace, my love, the place where I am whole, I will say NO to the waste dump, I stand proud and I will protect my Mudah, my past, present and future  https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/

February 5, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Federal nuclear waste dump, reference, South Australia | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear macho men always wanted nuclear weapons, and they still do

What Dibb suggested is that Australia, under the guise of generating nuclear power or on another pretext, acquire the essential technology to produce the fissile material needed to build a nuclear weapon. The hypocrisy involved is staggering. Analysts making such proposals accuse countries like Iran and North Korea of putting such plans into practice, and support a US pre-emptive attack to eliminate the supposed threat.

Dibb is well aware that Australia is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

before signing the NPT in 1970 and ratifying it in 1973, the Australian government drew up plans for a commercial nuclear power plant at Jervis Bay, south of Sydney, that would covertly supply the enriched uranium needed to manufacture nuclear weapons. The Jervis Bay project, which was promoted by Prime Minister John Gorton, was mothballed after he was ousted in 1971 by Billy McMahon.

This discussion is tied to a broader push to boost military spending in preparation for war.

In its 2016 defence white paper the government already foreshadowed a multi-billion dollar military expansion, lifting the defence budget to at least 2 percent of gross domestic product and purchasing advanced weapons systems. In a related move, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday announced a vast expansion of military industries in the name of a drive to export arms and become one of the world’s top ten weapons exporters.

None of these steps has anything to do with “defence” or preserving peace.

Renewed push for Australia to build nuclear weapons https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/01/30/aust-j30.html#pk_campaign=sidebar&pk_kwd=textlink, By Peter Symonds , 30 January 2018

A discussion has begun over the past month in Australian strategic and military circles about the necessity of building nuclear weapons, or developing the capacity to do so, against the alleged threat posed by nuclear-armed powers, above all China.

The debate, in public at least, is quite cautious, given the widespread popular hostility to war and thus the potential for protests to erupt against any move to create a nuclear arsenal. However, the very fact that the issue is actively being discussed is another sign of rapidly sharpening geo-political tensions and the accelerating arms race by major powers around the world. Continue reading

February 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

AUSTRALIA’S HISTORY OF MISMANAGING RADIOACTIVE WASTE

Friends of the Earth, Australia, www.nuclear.foe.org.au, January 2018
“The disposal of radioactive waste in Australia is ill-considered and irresponsible. Whether it is short-lived waste from Commonwealth facilities, long-lived plutonium waste from an atomic bomb test site on Aboriginal land, or reactor waste from Lucas Heights. The government applies double standards to suit its own agenda; there is no consistency, and little evidence of logic.” ‒ Nuclear engineer Alan Parkinson11 Alan Parkinson, 2002, ‘Double standards with radioactive waste’, Australasian Science, https://nuclear.foe.org.au/flawed-clean-up-of-maralinga/

https://nuclear.foe.org.au/flawed-clean-up-of-maralinga/

RADIUM HILL: A radioactive waste repository at Radium Hill “is not engineered to a standard consistent with current internationally accepted practice” according to a 2003 SA government audit.

PORT PIRIE: The Port Pirie uranium treatment plant is still contaminated over 50 years after its closure. It took a six-year community campaign just to get the site fenced off and to carry out a partial rehabilitation. As of July 2015, the SA government’s website states that “a long-term management strategy for the former site” is being developed.

ARKAROOLA WILDERNESS SANCTUARY: SA regulators failed to detect Marathon Resource’s illegal dumping of low level radioactive waste in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. If not for the detective work of the managers of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, the illegal activities would likely be continuing to this day. The incident represents a serious failure of SA government regulation. The Royal Commission report dealt with this scandal in two sentences and failed to note that the SA government regulator did not detect the illegal dumping of radioactive waste.

MARALINGA: The ‘clean-up’ of nuclear waste at the Maralinga nuclear test site in the late 1990s was a fiasco:2
•                    • Nuclear engineer Alan Parkinson said of the ‘clean-up’: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.”

•                    • Scientist Dale Timmons said the government’s technical report was littered with “gross misinformation”.

•                    • Dr Geoff Williams, an officer with the Commonwealth nuclear regulator ARPANSA, said that the ‘clean-up’ was beset by a “host of indiscretions, short-cuts and cover-ups”.

•                    • Nuclear physicist Prof. Peter Johnston (now with ARPANSA) noted that there were “very large expenditures and significant hazards resulting from the deficient management of the project”.

If there was some honesty about the mismanagement of radioactive waste in Australia, coupled with remediation of contaminated sites, we might have some confidence that lessons have been learned and that radioactive waste will be managed more responsibly in future.

But there is no such honesty from the government, and there are no plans to clean up contaminated sites.

More information: Pages 11-15 in Submission to SA Joint Select Committee, https://tinyurl.com/jsc-sub

February 1, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear Racism in Australia

Jim Green, Anti-nuclear & Clean Energy (ACE) Campaign, Friends of the Earth, Australia, www.nuclear.foe.org.au  January 2018 

The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga in South Australia. Permission was not sought from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha. Thousands of people were adversely affected and the impact on Aboriginal people was particularly profound.

The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety was characterised by “ignorance, incompetence and cynicism”. Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their homelands and taken to places such as the Yalata mission in South Australia, which was effectively a prison camp.

In the late-1990s, the Australian government carried out a clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear test site. It was done on the cheap and many tonnes of debris contaminated with kilograms of plutonium remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology. As nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the ‘clean-up’ on ABC radio in August 2002: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.”

Barely a decade after the ‘clean-up’, a survey revealed that 19 of the 85 contaminated debris pits had been subject to erosion or subsidence. The half-life of plutonium-239 is 24,100 years.

Radioactive ransom − dumping on the NT

From 2005−2014 successive federal governments attempted to impose a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, 110 km north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. A toxic trade-off of basic services for a radioactive waste dump was part of this story from the start. The nomination of the Muckaty site was made with the promise of $12 million compensation package comprising roads, houses and scholarships. Muckaty Traditional Owner Kylie Sambo objected to this radioactive ransom: “I think that is a very, very stupid idea for us to sell our land to get better education and scholarships. As an Australian we should be already entitled to that.”

The Liberal/National Coalition government led by John Howard passed legislation − the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 − overriding the Aboriginal Heritage Act, undermining the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and allowing the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent.

The Australian Labor Party voted against the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act, with Labor parliamentarians describing it as “extreme”, “arrogant”, “draconian”, “sorry”, “sordid”, and “profoundly shameful”. At its 2007 national conference, Labor voted unanimously to repeal the legislation. Yet after the 2007 election, the Labor government passed legislation − the National Radioactive Waste Management Act (NRWMA) − which was almost as draconian and still permitted the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent.

In February 2008, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd highlighted the life-story of Lorna Fejo − a member of the stolen generation − in the National Apology in Parliament House. At the same time, the Rudd government was stealing her land for a nuclear dump. Fejo said: “I’m very, very disappointed and downhearted about that [NRWMA legislation]. I’m really sad. The thing is − when are we going to have a fair go? Australia is supposed to be the land of the fair go. When are we going to have fair go? I’ve been stolen from my mother and now they’re stealing my land off me.”

Shamefully, the NLC supported legislation disempowering the people it is meant to represent.

The Federal Court trial finally began in June 2014. After two weeks of evidence, the NLC gave up and agreed to recommend to the federal government the withdrawal of the nomination of Muckaty for a nuclear dump. The Coalition government led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott accepted the NLC’s recommendation.

Lorna Fejo said: “I feel ecstatic. I feel free because it was a long struggle to protect my land.”

Owners have won a significant battle for country and culture, but the problems and patterns of radioactive racism persist. Racism in the uranium mining industry involves ignoring the concerns of Traditional Owners; divide-and-rule tactics; radioactive ransom; ‘humbugging’ Traditional Owners (exerting persistent, unwanted pressure); providing Traditional Owners with false information; and threats, including legal threats.

In 1998, the Howard government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near Woomera in South Australia. Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu in the 1950s.

The proposed dump generated such controversy in SA that the federal government hired a public relations company. Correspondence between the company and the government was released under Freedom of Information laws. In one exchange, a government official asked the PR company to remove sand-dunes from a photo to be used in a brochure. The explanation provided by the government official was that: “Dunes are a sensitive area with respect to Aboriginal Heritage”. The sand-dunes were removed from the photo, only for the government official to ask if the horizon could be straightened up as well. Terra nullius.

In 2003, the federal government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished with the stroke of a pen. This took place with no forewarning and no consultation with Aboriginal people.

The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to ‘get their ears out of their pockets’, and after six years the government did just that. In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election − after a Federal Court ruling that the federal government had acted illegally in stripping Traditional Owners of their native title rights, and with the dump issue biting politically in SA − the Howard government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan.

The Kungkas wrote in an open letter: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”

Nuclear War
One example concerns the 1982 South Australian Roxby Downs Indenture Act, which sets the legal framework for the operation of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine in SA. The Act was amended in 2011 but it retains exemptions from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Traditional Owners were not even consulted. The SA government’s spokesperson in Parliament said: “BHP were satisfied with the current arrangements and insisted on the continuation of these arrangements, and the government did not consult further than that.”

That disgraceful performance illustrates a broader pattern. Aboriginal land rights and heritage protections are feeble at the best of times. But the legal rights and protections are repeatedly stripped away whenever they get in the way of nuclear or mining interests.

Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed. New South Wales legislation exempts uranium mines from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act. The Western Australian government is in the process of gutting the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 at the behest of the mining industry. Native Title rights were extinguished with the stroke of a pen to seize land for a radioactive waste dump in SA, and Aboriginal heritage laws and land rights were repeatedly overridden with the push to dump nuclear waste in the NT.

While a small group of Traditional Owners supported the dump, a large majority were opposed and some initiated legal action in the Federal Court challenging the nomination of the Muckaty site by the federal government and the Northern Land Council (NLC).

Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a famous victory, but the nuclear war against Aboriginal people continues − and it will continue to be resisted, with the Aboriginal-led Australian Nuclear Free Alliance playing a leading role.

More information:  • Australian Nuclear Free Alliance www.anfa.org.au Friends of the Earth 
The greatest minds in the nuclear establishment have been searching for an answer to the radioactive waste problem for fifty years, and they’ve finally got one: haul it down a dirt road and dump it on an Indian reservation.” −− Winona LaDuke, Indigenous World Uranium Summit, 2006

January 29, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference | Leave a comment

“Significant radiation dose” received by Lucas Heights worker in nuclear accident

Radioactive liquid spills on worker at Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/national/radioactive-liquid-spills-on-worker-at-lucas-heights-nuclear-reactor-in-sydney/news-story/a14c71d0d093ddad94d39f5ea614359f, Peter Jean, Political Reporter, The Advertiser, December 14, 2017 A WORKER received a “significant radiation dose” when a vial of radioactive liquid spilt onto their hands in the most serious recorded safety incident to ever occur at Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.

The Advertiser can reveal the accident occurred on August 22 when a vial of the nuclear medicine product Molybdenum-99 was dropped when its cap was being removed during a quality-control test. The incident was rated “severe” by regulators and has led to changes in safety procedures.

Molybdenum-99 is produced by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation at Lucas Heights, below, for use in cancer and heart disease scans.

ANSTO Health general manager Mark Moore said the analyst has a slightly elevated risk of developing skin cancer after the liquid spilt on their hands.

“The analyst was working in a shielded fume cupboard that, in normal operation, limits a dose received, but the dropping of the vial resulted in the radiation dose,’’ Mr Moore said.

“Our employee remains at work and is currently performing alternative quality assessment work in the nuclear medicine field.”

Mr Moore said the staff member had burn-like symptoms, including blistering and reddening of the skin.

“While ANSTO is still waiting to be advised on the final estimate dose by an independent clinical specialist, we know it was above the annual statutory dose limit of 500 millisieverts, and expect to be issued with a formal breach from the regulator,” Mr Moore said.

“At this stage, the dose is estimated to be more than 20 Sieverts, which is 40 times above the extremity dose limit.”

The incident was reported to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

An ARPANSA investigation criticised some safety practices in Lucas Heights’ radiopharmaceutical production facilities.

December 15, 2017 Posted by | - incidents, New South Wales, reference | Leave a comment

AUSTRALIA’S RADIOACTIVE WASTE: WHAT TO DO WITH IT? WHERE TO PUT IT? WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? WHY KEEP PRODUCING IT?

 by ENuFF(Everyone for a Nuclear Free Future SA) enuff.sa@gmail.com November 2017.In 2015 the SA Weatherill government established the SA NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION (RC). The following year, the government adopted 9 out of 12 of the RC’s recommendations including to expand uranium mining and to collaborate with the federal government on nuclear power developments. A proposal to remove the state’s Nuclear Waste Storage Prohibition Act and, thereby, allow the state to pursue an international highlevel radioactive waste (HLW) dump was not adopted.

Less publicised, the RC’s Report also recommended that the government pursue the disposal of Australia’s own radioactive waste in SA; hardly a novel idea! (Previous attempts have been made, and failed.) And, this recommendation was adopted.

Running in parallel with the RC; confusing many people, the federal government was, again, doing just that: seeking a ‘suitable site’ for shallow burial of decades of Australia’s accumulated low-level waste(LLW) and indefinite storage (co-location) of long-lived and highly hazardous intermediate-level waste (ILW).

A short list of three sites was selected; all in SA: one at Barndioota in the Flinders Ranges – traditional land of the Adnyamathanha people – and two sites at Kimba.

A decision about a final site in SA for the nation’s waste is imminent. State politicians are surprisingly mute about such an important decision. Clearly they do not want this issue raised in the forthcoming (March 2018) state election.

So where has Australia’s radioactive waste come from? Australia has been accumulating nuclear waste since the Cold War era of the late 1940’s. Initially, it is mostly this legacy waste that would be destined for a national waste dump.

During the post-World War 11 and Cold War decades,  Australia mined and milled uranium for US and UK bomb projects; provided sites at Monte Bello, Emu Fields and Maralinga for British atomic bomb tests; established a research reactor at Lucas Heights and developed the Woomera Rocket Range. The forerunner to the CSIRO and a number of nuclear physics research laboratories at universities, especially at the ANU, were also conducting nuclear-related research. The facilities mentioned above were developed in close collaboration with the UK’s quest to develop and test atomic weapons, and the means to deploy them. They all produced and/or stored radioactive waste. There was no thought about what to do with the waste.

 Following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many in military and government circles considered that the next war would be fought with nuclear weapons.

Some influential Australian politicians and scientists considered that Australia, too, should eventually produce its own bombs and nuclear power reactors. For example secret work on centrifuge uranium enrichment technology, ostensibly, to reduce the ‘lead-time’ required to develop weapons, was being conducted by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC) in the 1960s. However, until now, apart from research reactors, such nuclear dreams have not yet come to fruition.

Since the 1970s after much controversy, a new era of uranium mining creating millions of tonnes of radioactive tailings has commenced; the oldest reactor at Lucas Heights(HIFAR) has been de-commissioned, the Moata reactor is due for decommissioning and a third reactor – the OPAL – has been built; all with no long-term plans for the waste.

A group of nuclear enthusiasts, undeterred by the intractable nature of nuclear waste and catastrophic nuclear accidents, is determined to take Australia further down the nuclear road. They wish for Australia to build nuclear power stations and nuclear submarines.

According to ANSTO (formerly AAEC), the organisation responsible for operating the Lucas Height’s OPAL research reactor, the nuclear isotopes currently being produced are for nuclear medicine; engineering; making our food more nutritious and undefined research. No reference is made about defence-related research, from either the past or present (ENuFF considers that at least 50% of Australia’s radioactive waste could have been created by defence activities. However, it is difficult to verify this.)

In spite of a backlog of decades of waste, no federal government has succeeded in persuading any community to willingly host either the LLW or the much more hazardous and long-lived ILW. Yet ANSTO is in the process of significantly expanding OPAL’s production of medical isotopes for export, thereby, increasing future highly hazardous spent fuel and reprocessed spent fuel waste.

Where is Australia’s waste currently located? It is estimated that there are around 100 sites; many of them in hospitals, universities and engineering businesses, generally holding very small amounts. Such wastes are the responsibility of the state in which they were used. But, the majority of the waste, both in terms of its quantity and level of radioactivity, is held at a number of federally controlled sites including Lucas Heights, Woomera, Radium Hill, Maralinga, St Mary’s in suburban Sydney and Amberley Air Force Base. Waste from these sites is a federal responsibility.

Like a dirty old can being kicked down the road, Australia’s radioactive waste has been moved from one temporary site to the next: for example, waste stored at Derrimut near Melbourne was shifted to St Mary’s in suburban Sydney. From St Mary’s it was moved to Woomera. CSIRO waste from Fisherman’s Bend was moved to Lucas Heights and, after three years, moved again to Woomera, where it has been ‘temporarily’ stored for the past 23 years.

And how is the waste being managed? Records for some of it are lost. Aircraft washings, following the atomic bomb tests, ended up in the Pacific Ocean. Waste from the first decade of Lucas Height’s operation was buried on site. Radioactive valves were buried in old paint tins at Derrimut. At Hunters Hill it was simply forgotten, until rediscovered when building work on a new development commenced there. The Fisherman’s Bend waste is currently stored in 10.000 corroding metal drums housed in a tin shed at Woomera, where the Defence Department doesn’t want it, and where it is leaking Radium-226. Uranium tailings exist in massive and growing quantities; they are stored in ‘dams’ which leak into surrounding soils and ground water when wet, or are blown away when dry and powdery. Uranium tailings, like higher levels of waste, remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.

Meanwhile, the English routinely release waste into the Irish Sea and wanted to wash their hands of the Maralinga site. The Americans have polluted many sites: the Colorado River, Hanford, swathes of Nevada and the Marshall Islands to name just a few. The Russians, too, have a long history of radioactive pollution, most infamously the poisoning of Belarus and Ukraine from the Chernobyl disaster, and the Mayak region from their bomb programme. The Japanese do not know what to do with waste from their nuclear reactors, let alone from the Fukushima multiple melt-downs, that is, apart from releasing it into the Pacific Ocean.

Would a permanent dump for Australia’s LLW waste at Barndioota or Kimba be any better managed? Who Knows? But the highly hazardous waste, including reprocessed spent fuel classified by ANSTO as ILW but by France as HLW, would be kicked further down the road and stored ‘temporarily’ at the proposed national dump. There it would remain, until a permanent repository for hundreds of thousands of years is planned and built hundreds of metres below the ground.

The federal government insists that many other countries have successfully resolved their radioactive waste issues. But, they have not. Why else is there ongoing interest in the establishment of an international waste dump in Australia as recommended by the RC? A national radioactive dump could well become an opportunity to leapfrog into just such an international waste project, as proposed by state Liberal Party adviser Richard Yeeles.

STOP PRODUCING THE WASTE, ONLY THEN WILL WE TALK ABOUT WHAT TO DO WITH IT

 

December 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, reference | Leave a comment