Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

 Unions NSW opposes nuclear powered submarines and the AUKUS treaty.

Paul Keating ,Branch Secretary, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney Branch, 26 Apr 22,

Unions NSW declares its total opposition to the reckless announcement by Scott Morrison that Australia would be developing nuclear-powered submarines as part of a military alliance with the US and UK.

 At a time when Morrison should have been pursuing vaccination supplies and providing maximum support to our health system and millions of people in lockdown, he has been pursuing secret military deals. The deal will continue to escalate unnecessary conflict with China.  Workers have already been impacted with seafarers stranded on coal ships and some trades shut down.

Extraordinary sums of money have been wasted with the previous submarine contract scrapped only five years after it was signed. That contract was worth $90 billion – nuclear submarines will cost much more.

 Only six countries in the world have nuclear submarines, and they all have nuclear power stations. Advocates for nuclear power and nuclear weapons have been emboldened. The submarines will use highly enriched uranium ideal for nuclear weapons.

  The Australian government has repeatedly tried to set up nuclear waste dumps on First Nations land. This will intensify that pressure.

  The billions wasted on submarines should be spent on:

Building an Australian strategic shipping fleet in Adelaide that could operate in cabotage and international trades;

·         Building renewable energy and offshore wind turbines to ensure we prevent global heating from exceeding 1.5°C;

·         Raising Jobseeker payments to well above poverty levels;

·         Pay increases for health workers and investments in our health systems;

·         Pay increases for teachers and investments in public schools to make them covid-safe;

·         Investing in firefighting capacity and ensuring we are ready for the next bushfire season.

 Workers have no interest in war with China or any other country. Every effort should be made to pursue peaceful relations.

 Unions NSW stands in solidarity with workers in all countries in opposing war and wasteful environmentally harmful military spending.

We pledge our opposition to oppose the development of nuclear submarines in Australia, and the development of any other nuclear industry.

May 2, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, Opposition to nuclear, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Will Australia’s nuclear submarines end up being built overseas?

ABC7.30 / By Angelique Donnellan,  18 Apr 22, In 1938, wharfies at Port Kembla, south of Sydney refused to load smelted iron ore bound for military production in Japan for its war against China.

Key points:

Independent Senator Rex Patrick is concerned Australia’s nuclear submarines may end up being built overseas
Defence expert Clive Williams believes it would be cheaper to build the subs in the US or the UK
Port Kembla in NSW is being considered as a base for the nuclear submarines

Some locals, including Alexander Brown from Wollongong Against War and Nukes, says the peaceful legacy is reason for the town not to become a defence base for Australia’s new nuclear submarines.

“We’re a city of peace, and we’re a city of renewable and sustainable employment. We don’t want to turn into a defence industry town,” he told 7.30.

“If nuclear submarines are based here in Port Kembla, we’re looking at accident risks for us, for sea life, for the ecosystem that we all depend upon.”

Port Kembla is being considered as a potential $10 billion east coast nuclear submarine base location, along with Newcastle and Brisbane.

Debra Murphy from Illawarra Regional Development Australia said the town should embrace the opportunity.

Along with the base proposal, the historic AUKUS deal to deliver eight nuclear-powered submarines remains a work in progress during its initial 18-month consultation period…………

Defence Minister Peter Dutton wouldn’t be drawn on when the new nuclear submarines would be built and go into service, or the amount of construction work that would happen in Australia.

Under the previous French submarine deal, there was a public pledge to spend 60 per cent of the contract value in Australia………..

Concerns subs may be built overseas

South Australian Independent Senator and former submariner Rex Patrick said the language around a local build was too vague.

Every day, it looks more and more likely that this submarine will be built overseas,” Mr Patrick told 7.30.

“The government keeps squeezing on the schedule and that means that they have to reduce risk wherever they possibly can.

“The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has predicted that this project will cost about $170 billion. An overseas build is the exporting of $170 billion of taxpayers’ money and thousands of Australian jobs to foreign shipyards.”……………………..

Expert says subs should be built overseas

Defence researcher Clive Williams from Australian National University said considering the complexity of a nuclear submarine, taxpayers would get better value for money if the boats were constructed in the US or UK.

“I think building at Osborne in South Australia is fraught with danger and could well be another defence procurement disaster. I’m sure that it’ll wind up in cost overruns, changes to design, fiddling around with it, and so on,” he told 7.30.

“I think a much safer bet is to go with an overseas purchase.”………………………………

The government is pursuing the nuclear option after cancelling a contract last September with the French to build 12 diesel-electric submarines, a move that is likely to cost up to $5.5 billion in compensation to the companies involved, including Naval Group.

Mr Dutton said negotiations were ongoing and the settlement would be made public when finalised.  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-04-19/australia-aukus-nuclear-submarines-building/100982778

April 19, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

No – it turns out that the nuclear submarines not likely to be built in Australia – Morrison

I am in awe. The man is a marketing genius.  He managed to make sure that the  submarine development plan for Adelaide was shut down –    by promising an even better nuclear submarine development in Adelaide.  Now that wondeful new job-making enterprise vanishes into the ether.  But – no worries –  he”ll be able to convince us that an attack on Australia by China is imminent, -so natioal security tops employment.  So no doubt Australians will rejoice and re-elect the champion marketer.

PM won’t commit to build nuclear subs locally  Joseph Brookes,, https://www.innovationaus.com/pm-wont-commit-to-build-nuclear-subs-locally/ 6 April 2022  Prime Minister Scott Morrison will not commit to building Australia’s nuclear powered submarines locally, saying any industry development considerations will be trumped by the need to acquire the capability as soon as possible.

The refusal, made Wednesday as the AUKUS arrangement was expanded to other technologies, follows Defence Minister Peter Dutton also flagging Australia would need to “get the balance right” between supporting local industry and securing capabilities in response to rising foreign threats.

The AUKUS arrangement was announced in September and the “intent” to build new nuclear powered submarines in Australia was a welcome direction for the local defence industry because the new plan also meant the previous submarine program was being scrapped.

A taskforce is continuing to assess options for acquiring the new submarines, including which vessel type and where they will be built.

In February, Defence Minister Peter Dutton had to address concerns about local industry missing out after a high-ranking Defence official told an industry conference the department is “maturing beyond ascribing a percentage” of local industry involvement and was unlikely to set a minimum like previous major ship builds.

A few weeks later the minister suggested a decision on submarine type would be revealed before the election after the taskforce made significant progress earlier this year.

But he was promptly contradicted by Prime Minister Scott Morrison who said a decision was not anticipated before the election because of the processes that would be required stretching into a caretaker period.

On Wednesday, during an announcement about the expansion of the AUKUS arrangement to hypersonic technologies and electronic warfare, the Prime Minister backed away from any commitment to local industry.

He was asked if he could guarantee if the new submarines, beyond the nuclear reactor, would be built in Australia.

“We’re working through all of those issues at present what, and that is certainly our intention to maximise all of that [local manufacturing]. Of course it is,” he told reporters.

“But it’s also the paramount goal is to ensure we get that capability as soon as we can, and it’s in the best form that it can be working with our partners.”

April 7, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Weapons corporations infiltrate our schools and charities, promoting war-mongering to our youth

REPUTATION LAUNDERING,

 https://declassifiedaus.org/2022/03/31/reputation-laundering/ DeclassifiedAUS2 The weapons companies spruiking the ‘benefits and opportunities’ of the wars in Ukraine and Yemen and tensions in the South China Sea are infiltrating our schools., MICHELLE FAHY, 31 MARCH 2022

A Lockheed Martin missile blows up a school bus in Yemen, while in Australia the company gains kudos by sponsoring the National Youth Science Forum.

BAE Systems supports the education of kids in Australia, while being complicit in the killing of thousands of children in Yemen.

Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons-maker, is raking in billions from ongoing wars like the four-week Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the eight-year long Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Lockheed Martin laser-guided bomb blew up a bus full of Yemeni school children in 2018, killing 40 children and injuring dozens more.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Lockheed Martin was busy cultivating kudos with kids as major sponsor of the National Youth Science Forum, a registered charity originally set up by Rotary.

Then there’s US missile-making giant Raytheon which now has a significant new manufacturing facility in Australia. It has continued to supply the Saudi-led coalition with weapons for the Yemen war, despite extensive evidence pointing to war crimes arising from its missiles being used to target and kill civilians. 

In January 2022, a Raytheon missile killed at least 80 people and injured over 200 in a so-called precision strike in Sa’adah in Yemen.

Within days of this horrific incident, Raytheon’s CEO was telling investors that rising tensions represented “opportunities for international sales” and he fully expected to “see some benefit” from “the tensions in Eastern Europe [and] the South China Sea”.

There’s no mention in Australia’s media of the big profits Raytheon is making from the Yemen war, which has now entered its eighth year, killed or injured at least 19,000 civilians, and possibly many more, and also caused the deaths of tens of thousands of children through starvation, due to disruption of food supplies and militarily-enforced trade blockade.

Instead, we’ve seen pictures of Aussie school kids having fun with the Australian snowboarding Paralympian who Raytheon Australia hired to front the launch of its Maths Alive! educational exhibition.

And we also heard about Raytheon’s sponsorship of Soldier On and the Invictus Games, despite the irony of a weapons company using its support of injured military personnel as a public relations exercise.

There’s a name for this cynical behaviour by corporations: ‘reputation laundering’.

Weapons companies are now ‘Innovators’

The world’s weapons producers have also taken to promoting themselves as ‘innovators’ in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths, called STEM. 

This enables them to target children and young people as future employees (see, for exampleBAE Systems AustraliaBoeing Defence Australia, and Saab Australia), often with the willing partnership of respected institutions. Many Australian universities now have MOUsjoint venturesstrategic partnerships, or other forms of collaboration with the weapons industry.

This enthusiastic support of STEM serves a double purpose: reputation laundering, and a socially acceptable way to promote the weapons industry as a future employer directly to children and their parents.

Promoting STEM education is essential to creating a well-trained workforce for key industries of the future, particularly those that can tackle the existential risks associated with climate change. The concern with the weapons industry’s activities in this domain is the way it is using STEM to target children as young as primary school age for weapons-making careers, often with the support of government. 

The spin and glamour being associated with Australia’s increased militarism is a concern on several levels, particularly as the marketing omits pertinent information: weapons and warfare aren’t mentioned.

Nor is there information about how children might use their STEM skills to enhance the ‘lethality’ of their employer’s products.

Nor about a future in which the need for human involvement in the ‘kill chain’ is eliminated by creating autonomous robots to make life and death decisions instead. (This is not science fiction, these research and development programs are already happening.)

Working for companies involved with nuclear weapons isn’t discussed, either.

Instead, a world of euphemism has been created: ‘advanced technology systems, products and services’, ‘high end technology company’, ‘leading systems integrator’, ‘security and aerospace company’, ‘defence technology and innovation company’. 

It is also likely to be weapons company marketing material if the phrase ‘solving complex problems’ appears, especially if accompanied by claims of ‘making the world safer.

None of these euphemisms conjures up realistic images of the bloody and brutal destruction the world is witnessing in the world’s latest war in Ukraine.

The ways global weapons giants have cultivated relationships with organisations of good purpose in Australia is highlighted in the following examples.

Lockheed Martin and the National Youth Science Forum

The National Youth Science Forum was created by Rotary, which remains involved. The Forum, now a not-for-profit organisation overseen by a board, has numerous programs, the flagship program being for Year 12 students interested in a career in science.

“The ban treaty embodies the collective moral revulsion of the international community,” according to the Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament at the Australian National University, Professor Ramesh Thakur.

Lockheed Martin and the Gallipoli Sponsorship Fund

In 2020, Lockheed Martin Australia became the first corporate sponsor of the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund and provides $120,000 to fund 12 Lockheed Martin Australia bursaries for the educational benefit of descendants of Australian military veterans.

Lockheed Martin is providing these Australian educational bursaries through to the end of 2023, with an opportunity to extend.

Referring to Lockheed Martin as a “defence technology and innovation company”, the Gallipoli Sponsorship Fund’s website also does not disclose Lockheed’s status as the world’s dominant weapons-maker nor its position as a major nuclear weapons producer.

BAE Systems and The Smith Family

This example illustrates that public pressure can and does make a difference.

The UK’s largest weapons-maker, BAE Systems, has been working inside Saudi Arabia supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s role in Yemen since the start of the war.

A BAE maintenance employee was quoted in 2019 saying, “If we weren’t there, in 7 to 14 days there wouldn’t be a jet in the sky.” BAE Systems has sold nearly £18 billion worth of weaponry to the Saudis since the war in Yemen started in 2014.

Yet in Australia, BAE Systems started a $100,000 partnership with The Smith Family in August 2020, sponsoring a STEM education program for under-privileged children.

BAE’s role helping the Saudis prolong one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises in Yemen was pointed out numerous times to The Smith Family, a children’s charity, after news broke of its BAE sponsorship.

The Smith Family initially resisted but after increasing pressure and activism from peace organisations and many complaints from the public, The Smith Family soon dropped its controversial ‘partnership’ with BAE Systems Australia, mere months after it had started.

Morally indefensible positions

Benign-sounding sponsorships of Australian school children such as these might appear less self-serving if weapons companies behaved consistently and stopped supplying weapons to those nations known to be serial abusers of human rights. 

Saying they are merely doing the bidding of their governments in supplying the Saudis, and other abusive and repressive regimes, as these companies have, is not a morally defensible position.

It is particularly not defensible in the face of evidence of ongoing war crimes being committed using their weaponry.

MICHELLE FAHY is an independent writer and researcher, specialising in the examination of connections between the weapons industry and government, and has written in various independent publications. She is on twitter @FahyMichelle, and on Substack at UndueInfluence.substack.com  An earlier version of this article was published in Michael West Media in November 2020.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, reference, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Directors net $3.7 million in selling off their Paladin Energy uranium shares, then uranium stocks plummet

Paladin directors narrowly avoid nuclear sell-off   https://www.afr.com/rear-window/paladin-directors-narrowly-avoid-nuclear-sell-off-20220308-p5a2u3Joe AstonColumnist,  Uranium miner Paladin Energy advised the Australian Securities Exchange on Monday that chairman Cliff Lawrenson and non-executive director Peter Watson had, between them, sold 4.5 million, or 55 per cent, of their shares in the company between February 28 and March 3, netting proceeds of $3.7 million.

Lawrenson’s broker secured an average out price of 84¢ while Watson had to settle for 81¢.

It was certainly an auspicious moment for the pair. That very evening, of March 3, Russian forces seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, but not before their shelling set it on fire, and uranium stocks dutifully plummeted across global markets.

On March 4, 154 million Paladin shares changed hands, crunching the share price down 15 per cent to 74¢. At one point in intraday trading, they were down 26 per cent.

Timing is everything, the old truism goes, and you can safely say about Lawrenson and Watson that their timing is the opposite of radioactive.

Lawrenson still has 2.1 million Paladin shares to his name while Watson has 1.6 million.

March 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Australian companies’ uranium shares plummet

ASX uranium shares plummet amid Ukraine power station attack. Motley Fool, A fire at Europe’s largest nuclear power station has uranium investors on edge… Mitchell Lawler   6 Mar 22, ASX-listed uranium shares are tumbling on Friday following reports of a fire at Ukraine’s largest nuclear power station ……..

The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is suffering a red session on Friday amid an intensification of the situation in Ukraine. However, ASX uranium shares are showing up as some of the hardest-hit companies of all on the Australian share market.

At present, many uranium producers and explorers are trading 10% to 20% lower. This follows reports that one of Ukraine’s nuclear power stations — the largest in Europe — is on fire as a consequence of Russian attacks.

………. with years of unattractive prices for the commodity, investments in creating new a new supply had been dampened.

However, with expectations of nuclear energy becoming a piece in the green transition puzzle, investors were willing to take a punt on ASX uranium shares.

That was until the latest development in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Companies copping the brunt of bad news

Currently, ASX uranium shares are being sold off hard. Here’s how some of these companies are tracking:

……..  https://www.fool.com.au/2022/03/04/asx-uranium-shares-plummet-amid-ukraine-power-station-attack/?fbclid=IwAR3wVwynPOQ2N70CGEs0Tr8ch7ZGTZXuIJ75k1Ii4sQE-0xN0Tgdgqkq_-Q

March 7, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Nuclear submarine plan does not mean more jobs for Australians. In fact it’s already caused 1,100 job losses

Now, we find out that the new $100 billion AUKUS subs deal is unlikely to have any local content mandate and may deliver absolutely nothing to the South Australian economy and workers.

more than 1,100 South Australian workers had lost their jobs because of the government’s decision to scrap the French agreement.

Doubts over local industry involvement in nuclear subs program,  Joseph Brookes, Innovation Aus, Senior Reporter, 4 February 2022  Unions have called on the Prime Minister to commit to a minimum level of local industry involvement in the upcoming nuclear submarine program after a senior Defence official reportedly said there would be no mandated minimum level.

A high-ranking Defence official this week told an industry conference the department is “maturing beyond ascribing a percentage” of local industry involvement and was unlikely to set a minimum like previous major ship builds, according to The Australian.

In response to subsequent concerns from local industry, Defence minister Peter Dutton said Australia would “get the balance right” between supporting local industry and securing capabilities in response to rising foreign conflicts involving China………

The minister did not commit to a minimum level of local industry participation in submarine contracts.

In response to the earlier report that Defence’s Capability and Sustainment Group chief counsel Fran Rush had said the government was more focused more on securing capability than building local industry, unions called for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to fulfil a commitment to build at least eight nuclear powered submarines in Adelaide.

“Scott Morrison promised South Australia that it would receive billions in investment and thousands of jobs from the AUKUS submarine contract, making up for the significant losses caused by his tearing up of the French Naval Group contract, under which many South Australians were already employed,” SA Unions Secretary Dale Beasley said.

Now, we find out that the new $100 billion AUKUS subs deal is unlikely to have any local content mandate and may deliver absolutely nothing to the South Australian economy and workers.

“First Scott Morrison betrayed the French, now he’s betraying South Australians, by ripping away promised jobs and investment.”

The union said more than 1,100 South Australian workers had lost their jobs because of the government’s decision to scrap the French agreement.

Nearly 150 officials, including private contractors, are part of a government-led taskforce currently exploring options for acquiring submarines.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.   https://www.innovationaus.com/doubts-over-local-industry-involvement-in-nuclear-subs-program/

February 5, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ranger uranium mine rehabilitation costs could blow out to $2.2 billion, Energy Resources tells ASX

Ranger uranium mine rehabilitation costs could blow out to $2.2 billion, Energy Resources tells ASX,  https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2022-02-02/ranger-uranium-mine-cleanup-cost-blowout-to-2-2-billion/100798666ABC Rural / By Daniel Fitzgerald  The rehabilitation of a decommissioned uranium mine in Kakadu National Park could cost up to $1.2 billion more than expected and take two years longer than initially planned. 

Key points:

  • Rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine to cost between $1.6 billion and $2.2 billion
  • Timeline of clean-up pushed out by two years 
  • Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation concerned ERA won’t be able to fund extra costs

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) — a subsidiary of mining giant Rio Tinto — shut down production at its Ranger uranium mine, 250 kilometres east of Darwin, in January last year and has since been working to return the mine site to its original state.

The rehabilitation was originally estimated at $973 million, but in a statement to the ASX on Wednesday, ERA revised costs to be approximately between $1.6 and $2.2 billion.

The company also said clean-up works could continue until the end of 2028, more than two years longer than planned.

The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents Mirarr traditional owners, had been seeking clarity on the expected cost blowouts from ERA.

“We knew it would cost more, but a doubling — to probably the biggest rehabilitation exercise in the history of Australian mining — took us by surprise,” chief executive Justin O’Brien said.

“It’s not good news, but at least we now have a much greater picture of the true cost.”

ERA’s statement outlined a number of reasons for the revised cost, including engineering issues, emerging technical risks and additional water treatment costs.

“It is a complex operation and it is in a very sensitive, world-heritage-listed national park, upstream of Aboriginal communities and the Arafura Sea,” Mr O’Brien said.

Federal changes needed to extend time frame

ERA’s current lease stipulates the company must complete the rehabilitation and be off the mine site by 2026, a condition legislated by the Atomic Energy Act 1953.

With the rehabilitation time frame now stretching into 2028, ERA said it “has been engaging with government and key stakeholders to amend the Atomic Energy Act 1953 and extend the expiry date of ERA’s tenure on the Ranger Project Area”.

Mr O’Brien said a two-year extension to the rehabilitation was “pretty ambitious”.

“If you’re going to amend the legislation in Canberra you don’t just do it for two years, you give them lots of space to do this,” he said.

“If they [ERA] relinquish within another 26 years, then fine.”

Can ERA afford the cost blowout?

In light of the cost revision, ERA said it was “currently reviewing all available funding options to ensure that the increased forecast cost of the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area will be adequately funded”.

As of December 31, 2021 the company had $699 million in cash funding and $535 million held by the Commonwealth government as part of the Ranger Rehabilitation Trust Fund.

ERA’s parent company, Rio Tinto said in a statement to the ASX, “it is committed to working with [ERA] to ensure the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area is successfully achieved to a standard that will establish an environment similar to the adjacent Kakadu National Park”.

February 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, environment, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Australian taxpayers up for $170Billion, for American nuclear submarines. No problem?

Australia’s Aukus nuclear submarines could cost as much as $171bn, report finds

Australian Strategic Policy Institute report calls project ‘most complex endeavour Australia has embarked upon’ Guardian, Tory Shepherd, Tue 14 Dec 2021 

Australia’s eight planned nuclear submarines will cost $70bn at an “absolute minimum” and it’s “highly likely” to be more than that, defence analysts say.

With inflation, the cost could be as high as $171bn, according to a new report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The thinktank’s report contained a series of estimates ranging from low to high and conceded that estimating the final cost of the project is necessarily an “extremely assumption-rich activity”…………

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has said the planned nuclear-powered submarines, part of the Aukus deal with the United States and the United Kingdom, would likely cost more than the scrapped plan for conventional submarines, which would have cost $90bn……..

Australia will partner with either the US or the UK to buy their boat designs, and a nuclear-powered submarine taskforce is working through the details

“We haven’t determined the specific vessel that we will be building, but that will be done through the rather significant and comprehensive program assessment that will be done with our partners over the next 12 to 18 months,” Morrison said in September.

“Now, that will also inform the costs that relate to this, and they are yet to be determined.”

The authors of the Aspi report, Implementing Australia’s Nuclear Submarine Program, wrote that while the Aukus deal has seemed to move fast, the enterprise would still be “a massive undertaking and probably the largest and most complex endeavour Australia has embarked upon”.

“The challenges, costs and risks will be enormous. It’s likely to be at least two decades and tens of billions of dollars in sunk costs before Australia has a useful nuclear-powered military capability…….

The Aspi report co-author Dr Marcus Hellyer told Guardian Australia the government needed to work out its priorities and would need to balance capability needs, scheduling and the Australian industry content. He emphasised that picking which submarine to build was “secondary” to picking a strategic partner.

The US is building submarines at a rate 10 times higher than the UK, he said……….

The report canvasses other issues that will need to be resolved.

There are likely to be legislative changes needed to allow nuclear reactors in Australia. The government should consider appointing an internal nuclear regulator, an inspector general of nuclear safety, and how it will responsibly dispose of radioactive waste once the reactors that power the submarines reach the end of their useful lives…….. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/14/australias-aukus-nuclear-submarines-estimated-to-cost-at-least-70bn

ReplyForward

December 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia has been warned, even from the militaristic Australian Strategic Policy Institute, on the problems and astronomic costs of the nuclear submarines

The price tag will be eyewatering, with an eight-boat programme costing Aus$116 billion (US$83 billion) “at an absolute minimum”, almost a tenth of annual gross domestic product.

“It’s likely to be at least two decades and tens of billions of dollars in sunk costs before Australia has a useful nuclear-powered military capability.”


Australia warned bid for nuclear subs carries ‘enormous’ risks   
https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20211213-australia-warned-bid-for-nuclear-subs-carries-enormous-risks  13/12/2021   Australia’s bid to develop a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines will cost more than US$80 billion and take decades in the “most complex” project the country has ever embarked on, a study released Monday warned.

The report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute — an influential Canberra-based think tank — said ownership of the high-tech subs built with US or British know-how would offer a major advantage in deterring aggression from China or elsewhere. [Really?]

But it will also be a fiendishly difficult task requiring a step-change in Australia’s military and industrial capabilities.

It is “probably the largest and most complex endeavour Australia has embarked upon. The challenges, costs and risks will be enormous,” the think tank warned.

“It’s likely to be at least two decades and tens of billions of dollars in sunk costs before Australia has a useful nuclear-powered military capability.”

The project, announced last month, will make Australia the only non-nuclear weapons power to own nuclear-run submarines, which are capable of travelling quickly over long distances carrying long-range missiles and state-of-the-art underwater drones.

Canberra plans to equip them with conventional rather than nuclear weapons. It has yet to decide whether it will buy US or British technology, what class, size and capabilities the subs will have, where they will be built or how radioactive material will be handled.

Even under an optimistic schedule, the first submarines are unlikely to be operational before 2040, according to the report’s authors, who include former Australian defence department officials and an expert on nuclear physics.

The price tag will be eyewatering, with an eight-boat programme costing Aus$116 billion (US$83 billion) “at an absolute minimum”, almost a tenth of annual gross domestic product.

Among a litany of tasks ahead, the navy will have to triple the number of submariners it recruits, refurbish docks, and develop extensive nuclear safeguards.

On the diplomatic front, Australia will need to reassure neighbours and the International Atomic Energy Agency that the subs do not present a nuclear proliferation risk.

“Regardless of the Australian government’s declared intentions,” the report said, “once Australia possesses (weapons-grade enriched uranium), the breakout time to develop and construct nuclear weapons would be less than a year if a simple nuclear-weapon design were pursued.”

The submarine plan has already caused diplomatic headaches for Canberra, with nearest neighbour Indonesia expressing concern, and the decision to ditch a contract to buy French non-nuclear submarines causing fury in Paris.

December 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Debunking the false claims that nuclear power is affordable for Australia

Nuclear Power’s Economic Crisis, Jim Green, 9 Dec 21

new report by Friends of the Earth Australia comprehensively debunks claims that nuclear power is cheap or affordable in the Australian context.

The 32-page report, ‘Nuclear Power’s Economic Crisis and its Implications for Australia’, details catastrophic cost overruns with nuclear power construction projects ‒ including ‘small modular reactors’ (SMR) ‒ over the past decade.

Dr. Jim Green, author of the report and national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, said: “Nuclear lobbyists base their claims about ‘cheap’ nuclear power on implausible cost estimates for reactor types that have not even been built. Our report aims to ground the nuclear debate in detailed, factual information about reactor construction projects.

“Every reactor project in the U.S. and Western Europe over the past decade has been a disaster. Costs for every one of those projects has ballooned by more than $10 billion. They are all behind schedule, by as much as 13 years.

“SMR projects have also been disastrous: expensive and over-budget, slow and behind schedule. There are disturbing connections between SMRs and nuclear weapons proliferation, and between SMRs and fossil fuel mining. The only operating SMR anywhere in the world is used by Russia to power fossil fuel mining in the Arctic.

“The nuclear ‘renaissance’ of the 2000s has collapsed into corporate carnage including the bankruptcy of American nuclear giant Westinghouse and near-bankruptcy of its parent company Toshiba. In France, Areva was saved with an $8 billion bailout and the other major utility, EDF, is saddled with $66 billion in debts. Nuclear corruption and criminality are evident in many countries operating nuclear power plants.

“The persistence of nuclear support can be attributed to three factors: ignorance, commercial interests, and the ‘culture wars’. 

 Those are the likely explanations for the Minerals Council of Australia’s ongoing disinformation campaign regarding nuclear power. Member companies such as BHP and Rio Tinto should stop the MCA’s nuclear disinformation campaign or resign their membership from the MCA.”

“Research by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator conclusively demonstrates that nuclear power is far more expensive than renewables coupled with storage. It’s time for nuclear lobbyists to stop dissembling and to face the facts: Australia’s future is renewable, not radioactive.” Dr. Green said.

The report notes that in 2020, a record 256 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity were added to the world’s power grids compared to a net gain of 0.4 GW of nuclear capacity. This year will be another record-setting year for renewables with 290 GW installed so far, and nuclear power has flatlined yet again with the small number of reactor start-ups matched by permanent reactor closures.

The report, ‘Nuclear Power’s Economic Crisis and its Implications for Australia’, is online at https://nuclear.foe.org.au/economics/

December 9, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

Australian superannuation funds still have considerable investments in nuclear weapons companies: some are not disclosing this

  https://www.businessinsider.com.au/these-australian-super-funds-are-still-invested-in-nuclear-weapons

John Buckley 9 Dec 21

  • Most major super funds have some kind of exposore to nuclear weapons.
  • Australian Super, the nation’s largest fund, was found to have $1.5 billion in nuclear weapons holdings.
  • Some omit nuclear weapons from their “controversial” investment exclusions.

Most of Australia’s major super funds continue to hold investments in nuclear weapons companies, almost a year after the UN Treaty on nuclear weapon prohibition came into effect.

According to new analysis from the Australia Institute and nuclear weapons prevention non-profit, Quit Nukes, 17 of Australia’s major super funds currently have holdings in nuclear weapons companies. 

The funds that do, the analysis found, make opaque attempts — if any at all — to disclose the investments to current and potential members, and in some cases go to great lengths to conceal them.

Australian Super, the nation’s largest super fund both by membership and funds under management, has close to $1.5 billion in nuclear weapons companies. 

The fund’s investment policy says Australian Super does not exclude nuclear weapons (or other controversial weapons technology) from its investment pot. 

For members with a higher conscience, Australian Super offers a “Socially Aware” membership, but even then, that only excludes landmines and cluster munitions. 

Moving through the list, the case was the same in most other corners across the market. Aware Super, Australia’s second largest fund, says that it excludes controversial weapons, but that definition doesn’t cover nuclear weapons. 

Aware invests in 12 nuclear weapons companies.

HESTA, meanwhile, only excludes investment in companies which earn more than 5% of their total revenue from nuclear weapons across the whole portfolio, but still has exposure to 14 nuclear weapons companies. 

Over at Hostplus, nuclear weapons aren’t classified as controversial weapons either, and therefore aren’t excluded from the fund’s investment prospects. 

But the fund says that it plans to recategorise nuclear weapons come January next year, at which point it’ll have to find a way to divest from eight nuclear weapons companies. 

It is a popular strategy at most of the market’s major players, where controversial weapons are excluded from investment, but nuclear weapons aren’t considered controversial. 

Among them are Rest Super, Telstra Super, and Mercer Super. At Cbus “controversial weapons” are explicitly excluded from fund investment opportunities, but there’s no mention of nuclear weapons. The fund has exposure to six nuclear weapons companies.

A survey undertaken by Quit Nukes found that just under 70% of Australians would expect nuclear weapons to be considered “controversial weapons”, while that same proportion of Australians, when asked, said they’d prefer their super not be invested in nuclear weapons.

Margaret Beavis, co-director at Quit Nukes, said Australia’s $3.4 trillion pension industry has phenomenal power, and their abstinence could go a long way in eliminating nuclear weapons, which are now illegal under international law. 

“While there is big money invested in nuclear weapons companies, these investments are usually a tiny percentage of the whole funds under management,” Dr Beavis said. 

“There is no evidence to suggest that divestment will negatively impact returns. Some funds are making change, including Hostplus, which recently decided to divest all nuclear weapons holdings by the end of January 2022,” she said. 

Bill Browne, a senior researcher at The Australia Institute’s Democracy and Accountability Program, said it’s clear that Australians don’t want their money “invested in weapons of mass destruction”, and that super funds should heed the warning. 

“Australians have the right to know exactly how their money is being invested, but most major super funds do not tell their members about their investments,” Browne said. 

“Superannuation is one of the great Australian projects, guaranteeing retirement income for millions of workers. Most Australians would have no idea that their retirement money is being used to finance nuclear weapons,” he said. 

“It is incumbent upon all funds to invest in the future of Australians — and that future does not include nuclear weapons.”

Some smaller, emerging funds have already pulled the rug on nuclear investments completely. The only six funds that that have either fully divested, or weren’t exposed to nuclear in weapons in the first place are: Active Super, Australian Ethical, Christian Super, Crescent Wealth, Future Super, and Verve Super.

December 9, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power’s Economic Crisis and its Implications for Australia

Nuclear Power’s Economic Crisis and its Implications for Australia, Nuclear Free Campaign, Friends of the Earth Australia 

December 2021 report by Friends of the Earth Australia, ‘Nuclear Power’s Economic Crisis and its Implications for Australia’.

The full report is available as a PDF.

The introduction (minus references and footnotes) is copied below.

INTRODUCTION & SUMMARY

Despite the abundance of evidence that nuclear power is economically uncompetitive compared to renewables, the nuclear industry and some of its supporters continue to claim otherwise. Such claims are typically based on implausible cost projections for non-existent reactor concepts. For example the Minerals Council of Australia conflates self-serving, implausible company estimates for small modular reactors (SMRs) with “robust estimates” based on “conservative assumptions”. And the Australian Nuclear Association bases its claim that nuclear power is Australia’s “least cost low carbon energy option” on the non-existent BWRX-300 SMR.

Claims about ‘cheap’ nuclear power certainly don’t consider real-world nuclear construction projects. Those following real-world developments have come to the opposite conclusion. Indeed supporters of nuclear power have issued any number of warnings in recent years about nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis” and a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West” while pondering what if anything might be salvaged from the “ashes of today’s dying industry”.

Consider the following statements, many of them from industry insiders:

  • “I don’t think we’re building any more nuclear plants in the United States. I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. They are too expensive to construct.” ‒ William Von Hoene, Senior Vice-President of Exelon, 2018.

    • Nuclear power “just isn’t economic, and it’s not economic within a foreseeable time frame.” ‒ John Rowe, recently-retired CEO of Exelon, 2012.
    • “It’s just hard to justify nuclear, really hard.” ‒ Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric’s CEO, 2012.
    • “We see renewables plus battery storage without incentives being cheaper than natural gas, and cheaper than existing coal and existing nuclear.”‒ Jim Robo, NextEra CEO, 2019.
    • France’s nuclear industry is in its “worst situation ever”, a former EDF director said in November 2016 ‒ and the situation has worsened since then.
    • Nuclear power is “ridiculously expensive” and “uncompetitive” with solar. ‒ Nobuo Tanaka, former executive director of the International Energy Agency, and former executive board member of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, 2018…………………

Several reasons can be posited for the crisis which led Bob Carr ‒ a former nuclear supporter, NSW Premier and Australian Foreign Minister ‒ to describe nuclear power as lumbering, cripplingly expensive and moribund:

  • The Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.
  • A suite of economic challenges: catastrophic cost overruns with reactor projects; nuclear power’s negative learning curve (it has become more expensive over time); and nuclear power’s inability to compete economically with renewables.
  • Nuclear corruption scandals in many ‒ perhaps most ‒ of the countries operating nuclear power plants.

Other reasons could be added to that list, such as the failure to find solutions to manage long-lived nuclear waste, and the explosion in the world’s only deep underground nuclear waste repository in 2014.

This paper focuses on nuclear power’s economic problems ‒ catastrophic cost overruns with reactor projects, and nuclear power’s large and worsening economic disadvantage relative to renewables.

Summary

Every power reactor construction project in Western Europe and the US over the past decade has been a disaster:

  • The only reactor construction project in France is 10 years behind schedule and the current cost estimate of A$30.6 billion is 5.8 times greater than the original estimate.
  • The reactor under construction in Finland is 13 years behind schedule and the current cost estimate is 3.7 times greater than the original estimate.
  • The Hinkley Point nuclear plant in the UK was meant to cost £2 billion per reactor and be complete by 2017; but construction hadn’t even begun in 2017 and costs have increased more than five-fold.
  • The V.C. Summer project in South Carolina was abandoned after the expenditure of around US$9 billion.
  • The Vogtle project in Georgia is six years behind schedule and costs have doubled.

Western Europe and the US provide the most striking examples of nuclear power’s crisis and the most striking examples of a more generalised problem: alone among energy sources, nuclear power has become more expensive over time, or in other words it has a negative learning curve.

Section 5 discusses nuclear power globally and in important countries other than those in Western Europe and North America. Suffice it to note here that nuclear power is struggling almost everywhere. China is said to be the industry’s shining light but nuclear growth is modest (an average of 2.1 reactor construction starts per year over the past decade) and paltry compared to renewables (2 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear power capacity added in 2020 compared to 135 GW of renewables).

Outside of China, the writing is on the wall: 48 power reactor start-ups and 98 permanent shut-downs from 2001‒2020 as well as a looming wave of shut-downs because of the ageing of the world’s reactor fleet and, in some countries, nuclear phase-out policies. Globally, renewable power capacity grew by a record 256 GW in 2020 (four times greater than Australia’s total capacity) compared to 0.4 GW for nuclear power.

Small reactors have a history of failure. Recent and current SMR construction projects are few and far between and exhibit familiar patterns of lengthy delays and large cost overruns:


  • The SMR under construction in Argentina is seven years behind schedule; the cost exceeds A$1 billion for a plant with the capacity of two large wind turbines; and the current cost estimate is 23 times higher than preliminary estimates.
  • Russia’s floating nuclear plant ‒ said to be the only operating SMR in the world ‒ was nine years behind schedule, more than six times over budget, and the electricity it produces is estimated to cost an exorbitant A$284 / megawatt-hour (MWh).
  • The high-temperature gas-cooled SMR in China is eight years behind schedule, plans for additional reactors at the same site have been dropped, the cost is 2‒3 times higher than initial estimates, and hopes that the reactor could produce cheaper electricity than large nuclear reactors have been dashed.
  • China recently began construction of an SMR based on conventional light-water reactor technology. According to China National Nuclear Corporation, construction costs per kilowatt (kW) will be twice the cost of large reactors, and the levelised cost of electricity will be 50% higher than large reactors.
    • Russia recently began construction of an SMR based on fast reactor technology. Construction was expected to be complete in 2020, but didn’t even begin until 2021. The construction cost estimate has increased by a factor of 2.4.Sections of the nuclear industry ‒ and some outside the industry ‒ claim that SMRs have a bright future. Those claims have no factual or logical basis. Everything that is promising about SMRs belongs in the never-never; everything in the real-world is expensive and over-budget, slow and behind schedule. Moreover, there are disturbing, multifaceted connections between SMR projects and nuclear weapons proliferation, and between SMRs and fossil fuel mining.
  • Nuclear power ‒ large or small ‒ has become far more expensive than renewables and the gap widens every year. Research by the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator demonstrates that nuclear power is far more expensive than renewables plus backup power in the Australian context. Research by the same organisations demonstrates that nuclear power is far more expensive than renewables plus integration costs (transmission, storage and synchronous condensers).
  • Support for nuclear power in Australia has no logical or rational basis. The persistence of that support can be attributed to several factors:
    • Ignorance.
    • Commercial interests (direct nuclear interests as well as indirect interests ‒ Australian economist Prof. John Quiggin notes that “in practice, support for nuclear power in Australia is support for coal).
    • Ideological ‘culture wars’. Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull describes nuclear power as the “loopy current fad … which is the current weapon of mass distraction for the backbench.”
    All three reasons may partially explain the Minerals Council of Australia’s ongoing disinformation campaign regarding nuclear power, discussed in section 4.
  • The same reasons could explain support for nuclear power within the Morrison federal government. Nonetheless, the federal Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources expects 69% renewable supply to the National Electricity Market by 2030. There is zero or near-zero support for nuclear power among state and territory governments, including conservative governments ‒ they are focused on the renewables transition (albeit unevenly). Tasmania leads the pack thanks to its hydro resources. South Australia is another pace-setter: wind and solar supplied 62% of local power generation over the past 12 months, wholesale electricity prices were the lowest on the mainland at an average of A$48 / MWh, and grid emissions have fallen to a record low. South Australia is on track to comfortably meet its target of 100% net renewables by 2030.   https://nuclear.foe.org.au/economics/?fbclid=IwAR3Q4ib7eX6r2KPY6kXNztlDKR4_SVzZPL4JeWGc50XLOnyCDeyhPWu0Imw

December 9, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

Union leaders demand super funds dump nuclear-linked companies

Six super funds have already divested from the 26 companies on the list, including Active Super, Australian Ethical, Christian Super, Crescent Wealth, Future Super and Verve Super.

CareSuper previously had holdings in Safran and Thales but has divested from these companies, according to the report.

Union leaders demand super funds dump nuclear-linked companies,     https://www.afr.com/policy/tax-and-super/union-leaders-demand-super-funds-dump-nuclear-linked-companies-20211208-p59frc , Michael Read Reporter, Dec 8, 2021  Hostplus has agreed to divest from companies linked to the nuclear weapons industry after coming under pressure from progressive think-tank the Australia Institute and Quit Nukes.

Other industry funds are being lobbied to follow suit, including AustralianSuper, which has $1.5 billion invested in 18 companies that critics say are linked to the nuclear weapons industry.

A new report by the Australia Institute and Quit Nukes says 17 of Australia’s largest super funds, including Aware Super and BT Funds Management, are investing in companies linked to the nuclear weapons industry.

The report argues that funds can divest from these companies without negatively affecting financial returns.

The report says Hostplus has agreed to divest by the end of the year, but The Australian Financial Review was unable to reach the fund to confirm.

“Just prior to the launch of this report, Hostplus confirmed with Quit Nukes that it has decided to include nuclear weapons in their definition of controversial weapons,” the report says.

It quotes Hostplus as saying: “Our Responsible Investment Policy and our Controversial Weapons Divestment Policy have both been updated and approved by the Board. Hostplus expects to be fully divested of their holdings in nuclear weapons companies by the end of January 2022.”

Wide range of investments

The Australia Institute classifies 26 companies as involved in the nuclear weapons industry. The companies are involved directly in the development, testing, production or maintenance of nuclear weapon-related technology, parts products or services.

The list includes defence industry giants such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and missile system producers Bharat Dynamics and Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Some of the companies on the list are conglomerates such as Airbus and Boeing whose corporate activities extend well beyond their involvement in the defence industry.

The report finds that the nation’s largest super fund, AustralianSuper, has $1.5 billion invested across 18 companies linked to the nuclear weapons industry. The investments include a $1.6 million stake in BWX Technologies, which is involved in uranium processing and other site-specific services for the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

AustralianSuper did not respond to a request for comment.

Aware Super holds a stake in 12 companies on the list, including US firm Textron, which produces re-entry vehicles for intercontinental ballistic missiles, and Safran, which is involved in missile production for the French nuclear arsenal.

A spokesman for Aware Super committed to reviewing its investment framework and said nuclear weapons companies were already excluded from its socially responsible investment option.

AustralianSuper did not respond to a request for comment.

Aware Super holds a stake in 12 companies on the list, including US firm Textron, which produces re-entry vehicles for intercontinental ballistic missiles, and Safran, which is involved in missile production for the French nuclear arsenal.

A spokesman for Aware Super committed to reviewing its investment framework and said nuclear weapons companies were already excluded from its socially responsible investment option.

“BT excludes securities where industries or activities undertaken breach our ESG (environmental, social and governance) exclusions framework, this includes nuclear weapons activities in contravention of the UN Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,” a spokeswoman said.

We have investment options available that exclude all nuclear weapons and we regularly review and refine our investment approach across a broad range of ESG issues … We haven’t seen the full report, so can’t comment on its findings,” she said.

Unions call for divestment

Union leaders are demanding that super funds divest from companies that critics say are linked to nuclear weapons production.

Electrical Trades Union national assistant secretary Michael Wright said it was “tough to claim industry funds are an ethical choice if they continue to invest in nuclear weapons”.

“I know a lot of our members are with funds called out in this report as investing in nuclear weapons. If these funds don’t divest soon our members may well look to place their retirement savings with funds that are more ethical,” Mr Wright said.

For union- and employer-backed industry funds, the equal representation board model means directors are sourced equally from the two groups.

Six super funds have already divested from the 26 companies on the list, including Active Super, Australian Ethical, Christian Super, Crescent Wealth, Future Super and Verve Super.

CareSuper previously had holdings in Safran and Thales but has divested from these companies, according to the report.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation federal secretary Annie Butler said there was “an urgent need for superannuation funds to ensure their investments are safe and ethically sound – and not in industries which can ultimately cause so much devastation and misery to our populations”.

Australian Services Union national secretary Robert Potter said investments in nuclear weapons undermined the work done by the union’s members.

“We welcome the nuclear weapon ban treaty and we’re committed to steering workers capital to align with the objectives of our ASU national policy,” Mr Potter said.

The Australia Institute’s senior researcher, Bill Browne, said he hoped the report would act as a “wake-up call to all superannuation funds still investing in nuclear weapons companies”.

“Superannuation is one of the great Australian projects, guaranteeing retirement income for millions of workers,” Mr Browne said. “Most Australians would have no idea that their retirement money is being used to finance nuclear weapons.

“It is incumbent upon all funds to invest in the future of Australians – and that future does not include nuclear weapons.” 

December 9, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK and Australian consultancy firms get together in anticipation of nuclear submarine programme

In readiness for the commencement of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine program, local consultancy Coras has formed a partnership with Britain’s Abbott Risk Consulting. Coras partners with Abbott to deepen nuclear submarine capability

 28 November 2021 Consultancy.com.au, The partnership between the Australian defence-focused management consultancy and the UK-headquartered risk management specialist comes ahead of Australia’s transition to a nuclear-powered submarine capability as part of its recently-struck AUKUS pact with the UK and US.

The formal agreement is built on an existing close working relationship between the two consulting firms and aims to capitalise on the melding of local knowledge and international nuclear expertise……………..  https://www.consultancy.com.au/news/4433/coras-partners-with-abbott-to-deepen-nuclear-submarine-capability

November 29, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment