Australian news, and some related international items

Destructive Process and Oversold Benefits: New Report questions nuclear dump economic case, as Govt ballot postponed

20 August 2018  A new report into the claimed economic benefits to regional communities of the Federal Government nuclear waste facility has found the government has exaggerated the benefits, and not properly factored in insurance costs and other risks.

The report’s release comes as the Federal Government scrambles to fix up a controversial community ballot process in the wake of a Supreme Court injunction.  The ballot was due

to begin today (Monday) in the two affected communities of Kimba and Hawker.

“This whole process has been poorly conducted and horribly divisive from day one,” said Craig Wilkins, Chief Executive of the state’s peak environment body, Conservation SA.
“Knowing how reluctant many people in Kimba and the Flinders Ranges are to having a nuclear waste dump in their backyard, the Federal Government has greatly over-sold the economic benefits to try and buy community support.
“This report is a reality check for a community sick of the spin from the Federal Government,” he said.
Conservation SA commissioned economic think tank The Australia Institute to examine more closely Federal Government’s claims of an economic windfall for the affected communities.

The “Down in the Dumps” report compared the current Australian National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) plans with similar facilities overseas, and found a raft of exaggerated jobs and economic return claims.  For example, a proposed facility in Canada which is more than one hundred times larger with more functions and features, will cost only half as much to construct and operate.

As the report’s author, Dr Cameron Murray, states: ‘Either the waste facility is orders of magnitude larger than need for Australia’s nuclear waste, or the government has exaggerated the economic returns to the local community of the NRWMF facility’.

It also questioned the true value of the promised $31 million in local grants and infrastructure promises, as some of this appears to be double-counting, re-labelling of other programs or matched by cuts to other funding streams.

Adjusting the economic impact assessment to account for the exaggerated claims reduces the number of net full time jobs down to just 6.

“At the end of the day, the case for shifting waste across from Sydney to South Australia simply doesn’t stack up,” said Mr Wilkins.

“Why is the Federal Government pushing so hard to move Australia’s highest risk radioactive waste from Lucas Heights where it is safely and securely stored, to park it in SA in temporary sheds while they work out what to do with it?

“Wouldn’t it be better to work out the final disposal plan first, including the true cost and benefit to the local community, and then move it once when everything is sorted?
“Double handling is incredibly wasteful, is not international best practice, and makes no sense in terms of public health or radiation safety.

“It is time for the Federal Government to apologise, walk away and put in place a credible pathway for a long term, permanent solution to nuclear waste stored at Lucas Heights,” he said.
The full report can be found her
For comment:
Dr Cameron Murray, The Australia Institute, 0422 144 674
Craig Wilkins, Conservation SA, 0417 879 439


August 20, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Australia’s racist politicians are also mostly Australia’s nuclear-loving politicians

Alice Workman No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia August 15  

Here’s a list of the politicians who shook hands / hugged / kissed Fraser Anning after his “final solution” speech calling for an end to Muslim immigration and a return to the White Australia policy.

Minister Mathias Cormann
Minister Bridget McKenzie
Minister Nigel Scullion
Minister Conchetta Fierravanti-Wells
Minister Matt Canavan
Assistant minister James McGrath
Assistant minister Anne Ruston
Steve Martin
Amanda Stoker
Jonathan Duniam
James Paterson
Dean Smith
David Bushby
Wacka Williams
Barry O’Sullivan
Cory Bernardi
Derryn Hinch
David Leyonhjelm
One Nation’s Peter Georgiou
Centre Alliance’s Stirling Griff & Rex Patrick

No Labor/Greens senators congratulated him

August 20, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Legal challenge against nuclear waste community vote for Hawker?

Injunction stalls one nuclear waste dump community vote‘The Barngarla people have won a Supreme Court injunction 
against the vote in Kimba, with the Hawker ballot 
still scheduled to open Monday.’ By Brooke Fryer

‘A community vote on whether a nuclear waste facility should be built on
South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula near Kimba has been stalled,
after a group argued the poll was discriminatory. …

‘NITV News understands a similar legal challenge for Hawker is being considered. … 

‘The court heard an example is that a person who owns a property at Kimba
but lives away from the district would be entitled to vote,
but a person who holds native title rights and lives away would not. … ‘

‘Mr Dare says the Barngarla people opposed to a nuclear waste dump
stand alongside the Adnyamathanha people who are also
facing the prospect of a waste dump on their land.

‘”Of course we stand behind them in their pursuit
to not let this waste dump go on their country also.” … ‘

August 20, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Should there be another nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights?

Siting another reactor at Lucas Heights
Even if we assume that Australia does need a third nuclear reactor, is Lucas Heights the best site?
There are numerous and compelling reasons why it is not.

1. It’s not remote

Lucas Heights was selected in 1955, as a site for Australia’s nuclear industry for the very reason that it was remote from population. Now, 40 years later, it is surrounded by houses, on the edge of Australia’s largest city. This is no longer in a good site for a nuclear reactor!

2. It’s not been the subject of a proper site-selection process

The most recent search for a dump for low and short-lived intermediate level radioactive waste has taken 4 years and has considered criteria such as low rainfall, freedom from flooding, stable hydrology, freedom from cyclones, tectonic, seismic or volcanic activity, as well as socio-economic, ecological and land-use factors.

Selection of a site for a nuclear reactor – its production of high, medium and low level waste- should be at least as stringent as that for a low level waste dump!

The McKinnon report said that “If a decision were made to construct a new reactor, it would not necessarily best be placed at Lucas Heights. An appropriate site would best be decided after exhaustive search and taking into account community views. Any siting decision should be based on criteria similar to those developed by the National Resource Information Centre (in its search for a low level waste dump) with an additional range of economic and scientific criteria.” (1993 Research Reactor Review 20.1-2.)

3. It’s the easiest option

ANSTO maintains that “The relocation of infrastructure and personnel to a new site would significantly add to the costs of a new research reactor.” (Website) This is no justification for building a reactor at Lucas Heights!

According to leaked memo to Peter McGauran on the Relocation of the Lucas Heights Nuclear Reactor, “the political fallout from either the refurbishment of the old reactor or the construction of a new one would be of the same order.”

The real reason that Lucas Heights was seen by the Federal Government as being the best site was that it knew that no other community in Australia would accept it. It also believed that the Local Council would be compliant as would the surrounding population

4. It does not comply with public opinion

ANSTO’s recent public opinion poll – commissioned at a cost of $40,000 of taxpayers’ money – found that 83% of Sutherland Shire people surveyed thought that a new reactor should be in a “remote location”. This is consistent with this Centre’s 1992 poll which found that 81 % people felt that a new reactor should be away from population centres. The Commonwealth has ignored this finding.

5. It is a health and safety risk to the local population

According to ANSTO “The annual dose of radiation received by any member of the public living near ANSTO as a result of authorised emissions from the site is currently less than one-100th of the amount permitted by the National Health and Medical Research Council and by NSW Government regulations. A modern research reactor would not produce more than those levels…” (Website)

Regulations or not, there is no proof that this (or any) level of radiation is safe. There are neither medical records nor diagnostic tests to assess the effects of radiation on the local population. Apart from obvious cancers and leukaemia – which can take decades to develop – more subtle health or genetic problems could be caused such as impaired scholastic performance, visual impairment or reproductive problems. The NSW Health Authorities have avoided their responsibilities and declined to carry out health studies. They say that one “would not be warranted”.

Current scientific studies in the UK suggest that even radiation exposure less than 1mSv may be harmful and could be poisoning the human gene pool (New Scientist Oct. ’97) Yet we are daily subjected to routine emissions of radioactive gasses from the nuclear plant at Lucas Heights!

There is no insurance to cover the public against risk of a nuclear accident. Commercial insurance companies will not insure against radiation or nuclear accidents because they “would not have enough funds to cover claims” . (NRMA Insurance letter.) In the event of such an accident claims would have to be made against the Commonwealth Government. The NSW Government and the local Council may also be liable for damages and they are uncertain of their position.

6. Lucas Heights a potential disaster area

In 1994 and 1997 disastrous bushfires struck the area. In the most recent calamity Barden Ridge, the suburb closest to ANSTO, was evacuated at the height of the fire. Eleven houses in the next suburb of Menai were destroyed. At the same time the ANSTO staff were locked in, unable to telephone their families. The official reason was that staff were held back on police advice. For several days the only road connecting the site was blocked to through traffic.

This is hardly the perfect site for Australia’s only nuclear reactor!

August 20, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sells out on climate policy, in effort to save his job

Turnbull dumps emissions from NEG in final act of capitulation, REneweconomy Giles Parkinson & Sophie Vorrath, 

The Turnbull Coalition government has effectively dumped the emissions component from the proposed National Energy Guarantee, in what could be prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s final act of capitulation to the far right forces within the government parties.

Turnbull dumped the emissions component of the NEG in a desperate act to ward off a potential challenge to his 3-year leadership of the Liberals, with home affairs minister Peter Dutton (as we predicted in last week’s podcast) said to be waiting in the wings, and with the numbers, according to Fairfax.

The removal of an emissions target makes a mockery of what the NEG was supposed to be about – a first ever combination of climate and energy policy, of emissions and reliability. It was supposed to be a policy that crossed party lines; instead, it could not even be agreed on by the Liberals.

It remains to be seen if Turnbull gets to keep his job. But it certainly sees the end of any credibility that Turnbull would take climate change seriously.

Instead, the Coalition says it will choose to focus on reliability – even though there is no “reliability issue” because AEMO doesn’t not expect the obligation to be triggered any time in the next 10 years on current measures,…….

The other key component of the Coalition’s policy is to adopt the ACCC proposal of having the government underwrite the financing of new “dispatchable” generation. …….

The need for this is not clear, and while the Coalition’s right wing thinks this will translate into new “base-load” coal, renewable energy developers like UK billionaire Sanjeev Gupta suggests it could help dramatically reduce the cost of solar and storage in the country, to half the price of current wholesale prices.

What’s the chance of the Coalition right wing allowing that to happen? They will be sure to want to choose the technology of their choice. It’s unlikely a Turnbull or a Dutton government would endorse a huge solar and storage project as a result of such a tender.

On top of this, the Coalition is looking to force some energy utilities to divest any assets that it may want to close, think AGL with Liddell. In effect, this is the government intervening to stop coal exiting the market, in effect seeking to stop the clean energy transition. It is appalling.

All in all, Australia’s climate and energy policy remains in a sorry state. Turnbull blames his bare one seat majority for his predicament, but at no time has he shown any leadership or an attachment to his principals, at least as we understood them before he came PM.

The lack of leadership is transparent, but Turnbull is not the only one to blame. That blame should be shared by the principal players in the Energy Security Board and the representatives of the big business lobbies who were behind the NEG.

From the start, they sought to pretend this was something it was not. In the end, that deceipt also became transparent, and the lack of goodwill, and the deliberate doctoring of the modelling that was used to justify it, is quite possibly one of the most shameful episodes in Australian climate and energy policy.

The contrast with the states – whose agreement is needed to sign off on what is left in the NEG – is marked. Victoria’s Labor government has announced an extraordinary scheme to fast-track some 2.6GW of rooftop solar through a combination of rebates and zero interest loans.

This is a gift for the federal Labor Party, and if that translates to votes at the next election that will be a relief for all concerned about climate and energy policy, and the need to embrace rather than fiercely resist, or even deny, the clean energy transition before us……

August 20, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Right-wing in Liberal Coalition causing Turnbull to again weaken climate action

Malcolm Turnbull plans more changes to energy policy amid pressure from within Coalition, ABC News, By Jade Macmillan , 20 Aug 18  Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has outlined further changes to his national energy policy amid increasing pressure from within his own party.

August 20, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear has left its run too late: a response to Ian Hore-Lacy

 ETHOS, 14 August 2018  | Robert Farago “………… Nuclear as the solution?   There are a number of unresolved problems around nuclear power and questions of whether nuclear energy can grow quickly enough to solve our climate change problem. I will just list some of these problems with a sentence each:

  • Weapons proliferation – enriching Uranium for civilian nuclear energy programs can lead to fuel being diverted and further enriched for nuclear weapons programs.
  • Safety – although less deaths have been recorded from nuclear power than from coal mining, nuclear accidents such as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima have shaken the confidence of citizens to have nuclear reactors near their homes and food sources.
  • Waste – although we have generated nuclear waste for 70+ years we still don’t have a solution. Nuclear waste needs to be stored safely for hundreds of thousands of years, longer than settled agricultural society has existed.
  • Decommissioning – cost estimates vary wildly and it’s particularly technically challenging and expensive after nuclear accidents.
  • Water use – like thermal coal generators, nuclear needs large quantities of water for cooling, making droughts and heatwaves a problem.
  • Capacity – if we moved to a large portion of our global electricity generation to nuclear power, will there be enough Uranium to fuel them?
  • Timeliness – can we move quickly enough to a majority nuclear electricity future and meet our global emission reductions?

Continue reading

August 20, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Exaggerated ‘benefits’ of a radioactive waste dump for rural South Australia

The economic benefits of a radioactive waste dump proposed for rural South Australia have been exaggerated, a new report warns Peter Jean, Senior Federal Political Reporter, The Advertiser August 20, 2018 

August 20, 2018 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

Wangan and Jagalingou leaders call on Queensland Govt not to extinguish native title

18 August 2018  ‘In the wake of yesterday’s adverse Federal Court decision against their challenge to Adani’s ILUA,   Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners say yesterday’s judgement merely
confirms the limitations of the native title system, and fails to address their right
as Indigenous people to free, prior and informed consent,
which is at the heart of their action.

‘Mr Adrian Burragubba, one of five applicants in the case, and W&J cultural leader says: 
‘“We are calling on the Queensland Government to rule out
extinguishing our native title in any part of our land.

‘“Once native title is gone, it is gone forever.
It would be a travesty for the Government to wipe out our title for Adani.
If Queensland can stop them dredging the Reef before Adani has money,
or pull the pin on $1 billion NAIF funding, they can surely protect our rights to our land.
They must not hand a private corporation land title at our expense,
based on discriminatory laws.

‘“The Queensland Government has a clear choice here, and yesterday’s ruling
in no way forces them to proceed to extinguish our native title.
Don’t be fooled, it is up to the Government what happens next.

‘“Adani can’t be trusted; how can they say they respect
‘the rights, history, future intentions and requests of the traditional owners’?

‘We are Traditional Owners, we are the people from that land,
and they have never respected our decisions, or our right to free prior informed consent,
or our aspirations to care for our ancestral country.
They split our people for their own ends and then try to claim they care.
They should walk away in shame for all the damage they have done”.

‘Ms Linda Bobongie, another applicant and chairperson of the Traditional Owners Council, says:

‘“While we respect the decisions of the courts, we aren’t satisfied by this judgement
and will work with our legal team to prepare an appeal to a higher court.

‘“We know the Queensland Government has no obligation to act on extinguishment for Adani.
They should wait until all our appeals are exhausted.”

‘“We held out hope for this legal avenue, but anticipated a conservative judgement
within the Native Title system, and were prepared for the decision.
Our Council has vowed to continue to defend our lands and waters from Adani’s destruction.

‘“We call on Adani to immediately withdraw from this damaging project on our land.
No administrative decisions that block our rights will stop us standing our ground
to defend and protect Wangan and Jagalingou Country
and our connection to it.

‘We do not consent to a mine that will destroy our culture and land, and
rob our people of a sustainable future, so a rich company
can get richer exploiting and burning the coal beneath ourfeet”.

August 19, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Queensland | Leave a comment

Hawker vote on nuclear dump siting delayed, after Bangarla people’s court win

Second nuclear vote delayed in SA Kathryn Bermingham, Australian Associated Press August 17, 2018

Another resident vote about a nuclear waste facility has been stalled in South Australia, after an indigenous group argued a similar poll was discriminatory.

A vote on whether the facility should be built near the rural town of Hawker has been delayed, after the Barngarla people were on Thursday granted a Supreme Court injunction to delay a vote on whether it should be built near Kimba.

Flinders Ranges Mayor Peter Slattery said the decision was made because the Kimba matter, due to be heard before the full court next week, may have consequences for the Hawker vote.

He said the decision to delay the Hawker vote was jointly made by the council and the federal government.

Two sites near Kimba, on the Eyre Peninsula, and one near Hawker, in the Flinders Ranges, have been short-listed as potential locations for a low-level radioactive waste storage facility.

The traditional owners of the Hawker site are the Adnyamathanha people, while the Barngarla are the traditional owners of the two Kimba sites.

Lawyer Dan O’Gorman, for the Barngala people, argued in the Supreme Court on Thursday that the poll presented issues of direct and indirect discrimination.

“These owners of land are treated differently and that’s because their rights are native title rights,” he said.

The court heard an example is that a person who owns a property at Kimba but lives away from the district would be entitled to vote, but a person who holds native title rights and lives away would not.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said on Friday the two votes should be held at the same time.

“Until the Barngarla challenge has concluded, the Hawker vote must be delayed,” she said.

“The traditional owners, including the Adnyamathanha people, deserve the right to vote and have their say on an issue that affects their traditional lands.”

August 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull caves in to climate denialists – again

Malcolm Turnbull dumps plan to legislate Paris emissions targets, ABC News, By political editor Andrew Probyn and Melissa Clarke , 17 Aug 18 

August 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Drought, wind and heat: Bushfire season is starting earlier and lasting longer 

ABC News, The Conversation By Owen Price 17 Aug 18 

August 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Barngarla Aboriginal people win injunction to halt nuclear waste dump vote

South Australian Aboriginal group wins injunction to halt nuclear ballot, By Claire Campbell  

August 17, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Several federally-owned land parcels, including Woomera could be assessed as nuclear dump site

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the Industry Department last year identified several federally-owned land parcels which met the suitability criteria to be assessed as possible waste dump sites
Supreme Court orders temporary halt on vote to build nuclear waste facility near Kimba
Peter Jean, The Advertiser August 16, 2018
A COMMUNITY vote on whether a radioactive waste storage centre should be built near Kimba has been stalled by a Supreme Court injunction.

The court action comes as The Advertiser can reveal the Turnbull Government looked at federally-owned land parcels as possible alternatives to the three South Australian sites short-listed for a national radioactive waste management facility.

Residents in the Kimba and Hawker districts had been due to begin voting next week in ballots to determine whether they would be willing to accept a low-level radioactive waste dump.

But the Barngarla indigenous people argued the Kimba ballot was discriminatory because native-title holders who lived outside the municipal boundaries would be denied voting rights. An injunction was granted ahead of a hearing before the full court next week.

Two sites near Kimba and one near Hawker have been short-listed for the waste centre. Meanwhile, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the Industry Department last year identified several land parcels which met the suitability criteria to be assessed as possible waste dump sites.

The documents also reveal the Defence Department was concerned that a site at the Woomera Defence Range could become the national radioactive waste management facility “by default’’.

Radioactive material from the CSIRO is held at the Woomera Defence Range.

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick, pictured, said the Government should release full details of the Government sites which had been studied. “I find it highly disturbing that the Government has kept the Commonwealth-owned land options a secret,’’ Senator Patrick said. “It’s quite apparent that Defence didn’t want to touch the Nuclear Waste Facility with a barge pole — they’d rather it just went to Kimba or Hawker.’’
Speaking before the court injunction was granted, Industry Minister Matt Canavan said it was up to local communities to decide whether they were willing to accept a radioactive waste facility.

“We will not impose a facility on an unwilling community,’’ Senator Canavan said.

The centre proposed by the Federal Government would be used to store low and intermediate-level radioactive waste stored at sites around Australia. About 45 local jobs would be created in the district where the centre was located and the local community would receive a $31 million incentive package from the federal Government.

August 17, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Resources Minister Matt Canavan is deceptive in his statements about “Low Level “nuclear waste

Greg Bannon, Quorn 16/08/2108

Senator Canavan introduces the concept of nuclear energy into the debate on radioactive waste storage, (The Advertiser, 15/08/2018) but refers only to low level waste.

He does not mention the long-lived intermediate level waste. In April, he announced that this would also be stored at the facility. His Department admits there are no plans for its disposal at this stage, only moving it from current temporary storage, to park it temporarily near Hawker or Kimba for several decades.

People in both communities, including the Traditional Owners have said “No”.

Nuclear power generation is another matter entirely. The Scarce Royal Commission into the nuclear fuel cycle rejected nuclear power generation two years ago. The Citizens Jury even rejected the Commission’s recommendation to investigate storing nuclear waste in South Australia. The Senator’s Department vehemently denied any connection between their waste facility and the Scarce Commission’s investigation. The Senator’s reference to nuclear energy seems strange timing.

August 17, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment