Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

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

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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

Issue for The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA): IS ANSTO’s NUCLEAR REACTOR VIABLE?

ISSUES FOR URGENT RESOLUTION BY ARPANSA
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is the national regulator of all federal government aspects of nuclear and radiation sources and activities with the prime objective of protecting and keeping safe the nation’s population and environment from the harmful effects of radiation and other nuclear pursuits.


In its regulatory role ARPANSA will shortly have to address issues linked to nuclear waste and collectively are probably the most important and significant situation that has had to be dealt with by ARPANSA since its foundation over twenty years ago

ANSTO VIABILITY
The first is the need for ARPANSA to obtain an independent andcomprehensive assessment and report on the proposed increased
production of nuclear medicine by reactor generation by the AustralianmNuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) at its Lucas Heights precinct

The reason behind this is that ANSTO is relying on its production of nuclear medicine as the mainstay of its activities and intends to become a major international producer and exporter of reactor generated nuclear medicine.

However this appears to be a misconceived and purposeless intention since nuclear medicine generated by reactor isotopes is in significant decline throughout the world due to its dangerous inherent state in being used in medical diagnosis and treatment


There is a world wide turning away by the medical profession from using reactor generated nuclear medicine because of its sever danger to patients coupled with its extremely high production costs.

More alternatives to this form of nuclear medicine are already extensively used as they are far safer and pose little risk to patients and additionally are much cheaper to produce with the involvement of major international drug companies


ARPANSA should seek the independent and expert assessment and review of the proposal and intentions by ANSTO as part of the licensing process for the increased storage facility for nuclear waste at Lucas Heights recently proposed by ANSTO

The assessment and review must include a financial examination to determine commercial and economic viability of the activities and proposals by ANSTO as this is an essential ingredient of the qualifications for the licence for the increased storage capacity


Since the suitably qualified experts for the assessment are not in Australia (as in any case this could create a conflict situation) ARPANSA will need to rely on and engage the highly qualified experts in this field available
from overseas

From the general tenor and prescriptions of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 and applicable regulations – which are referred to as the enabling legislation – it seems quite certain that the commercial and financial aspects must be included by ARPANSAin considering an application for a licence


This should be even more imperative since the funds sought by ANSTO for the increased storage capability at Lucas Heights are being provided by the federal government which is in direct and colloquial terms taxpayers’ money and it is an obligation of the government to protect public revenue and expenditure

There has never been any publicly released information by ANSTO on the financial aspects of the production and sale of its nuclear medicine but as justification for the production ANSTO has relied on the emotivearguments that in their lifetime everyone has or will have a need for nuclear medicine.

ANSTO claims that it has given to the government a recently commissioned independent study into future nuclear medicine supply in Australia and this study should be given to ARPANSA with all supporting information for assistance for its assessment and review as part of the licensing process.

November 13, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, health, reference, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

No likelihood of Australian jobs in nuclear submarine construction, nor in big Pacific vessel

as the government comes under fire from Labor over hundreds of submarine construction jobs being at risk, Defence officials also revealed that a vessel intended to conduct disaster relief missions to the Pacific would now be built overseas instead of locally.

Hybrid nuclear submarine ‘unlikely’, navy chiefs say, AFR,  Andrew Tillett
Political correspondentThe Royal Australian Navy has signalled it is unlikely to select a hybrid nuclear submarine design that combines British and American technology, in a significant concession to mitigate the risk of delays.

The head of the nuclear submarine taskforce, Vice-Admiral Jonathan Mead, told a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday that Defence wanted to have at least one nuclear submarine before 2040 in a worst-case scenario and was looking to accelerate deliveries.

Officials also downplayed the possibility of leasing a submarine from the United States or the United Kingdom to avoid a capability gap with the ageing Collins class submarines, at a time China is rapidly shifting the balance in the Indo-Pacific with its military build-up.

But as the government comes under fire from Labor over hundreds of submarine construction jobs being at risk, Defence officials also revealed that a vessel intended to conduct disaster relief missions to the Pacific would now be built overseas instead of locally.

Among the mooted options are acquiring US-designed Virginia class submarines, the British Astute class, partnering with the UK on the design of its new attack submarines or a hybrid of the British and American boats.

However, it is unclear what level of Australian content will be incorporated into the submarine despite the government’s intention to build them in Adelaide, nor whether it would be possible to use an American combat system in a UK-designed boat……….. As part of the Pacific Step-up announcement in 2018, the government said it would acquire a large-hulled support vessel for humanitarian missions in the south-west, but the committee heard the government had confirmed in recent months to buy the ship from overseas.

“This is another Morrison government announcement not delivered,” Senator Wong said.Foreign Minister Marise Payne said a lack of capacity in Australian shipyards in Adelaide and Perth meant there was no room to build the new Pacific vessel…….“I don’t regard it as reneging on the commitment,” Senator Payne said. https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/hybrid-nuclear-submarine-unlikely-navy-chiefs-say-20211027-p593j3

October 28, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, weapons and war | Leave a comment

$6000 a day to one US advisor to Australia on getting nuclear submarines. How much to the 3 new ones?

American-dominated panel advising government on submarines as Defence eyes US and UK choices for nuclear fleet, By defence correspondent Andrew Greene, ABC, 25Oct 21.

Three senior American shipbuilding executives are being paid to advise Australia on submarines, but the defence department and government are refusing to say what their work involves or how much they are costing.

Key points:

  • Defence is refusing to discuss the role or salaries of the American officials on the Submarine Advisory Committee
  • Senators are expected to examine the work of the submarine committee during Senate Estimates hearings this week
  • Industry insiders believe the submarine committee needs a British official given the UK’s role in AUKUS

Senators are this week expected to grill officials over the role of the Submarine Advisory Committee, which was formed by the Turnbull government in 2017, a year after a French company was selected for the now dumped $90 billion Attack-class program.

………  Over the next year and a half, the defence department’s Nuclear-Powered Submarine Task Force will work with Australia’s British and American AUKUS partners to identify the best way to acquire a fleet to replace the scrapped French project……. Retired Admiral Donald Kirkland, Jim Hughes and Donald McCormack are all veterans of the US shipbuilding sector and their current three-year appointments to the committee are due to end in May 2024.

Admiral Kirkland is the chairman of American company Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), which builds US Virginia-class submarines, Mr Hughes has also worked for HII, and Mr McCormack is an executive director at the US military’s Naval Sea Systems Command.

Questions sent by the ABC to the defence department last week concerning how much Submarine Advisory Committee members are paid, and what interactions they now have with the Nuclear-Powered task force, remain unanswered.

While Defence is yet to respond to questions about remuneration, an 18-month contract from 2018 uncovered by the ABC, shows Admiral Kirkland was paid $675,000 for his advisory services.

Earlier this month, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead confirmed his secretive “Capability Enhancement Review” completed ahead of the Morrison government’s nuclear submarine announcement had not worked with the advisory committee.

Jostling between British and American companies for Australia’s future nuclear-powered fleet is well underway with early debate emerging over whether a US Virginia-class or UK Astute-class submarine is the best base model

Defence industry insiders are now privately questioning whether the government will appoint any British experts to the Submarine Advisory Panel given the United Kingdom’s membership of AUKUS and the country’s extensive experience with nuclear boats.

Last month, it was revealed former US Navy Secretary Donald Winter was being paid $US6,000 a day as an advisor to the federal government on shipbuilding matters.Defence industry insiders are now privately questioning whether the government will appoint any British experts to the Submarine Advisory Panel given the United Kingdom’s membership of AUKUS and the country’s extensive experience with nuclear boats.

Last month, it was revealed former US Navy Secretary Donald Winter was being paid $US6,000 a day as an advisor to the federal government on shipbuilding matters.  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-26/american-dominated-panel-advising-nuclear-submarine-fleet/100567052

October 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Greenland soon to reinstate its ban on uranium mining

Within weeks, Greenland’s parliament, the Inatsisartut, is expected to
pass a bill reinstating a ban on uranium mining that was lifted in 2013
following pressure from mining companies. “The Greenlandic minister with
responsibility for minerals has publicly stated that a ban on uranium
mining will put an end to all future uranium mining, full stop,” Mariane
Paviasen, a Greenland MP and leading activist in the anti-uranium mining
movement, Urani? Naamik (Uranium? No), told Green Left.

 Green Left 20th Oct 2021

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/greenland-set-restore-uranium-mining-ban

October 23, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

All nuclear reactors are very expensive, but small nuclear reactors are even more expensive

Australian Submarines May Go Nuclear But Our Power Stations Never Will,   SOLARQUOTES, October 11, 2021 by Ronald Brakels

  • ”…………………….Small Modular Reactors Are More Expensive An SMR is a Small Modular Reactor.  There have been claims these will provide cheap energy in the future, but this seems unlikely given their designers have stated that…
    • Before cost overruns are considered, SMRs will produce electricity at a higher cost than current nuclear reactor designs.Being more expensive than conventional nuclear power is a major obstacle for any plan to supply energy at a lower cost. 
  • The advantage of SMRs is they are supposed to be less likely to suffer from disastrous cost overruns.  This means they are a more expensive version of a type of generation that is already too expensive for Australia before cost overruns. While any cost overruns that do occur may not be as bad as conventional nuclear, that’s not what I call a good deal.  

  • There is nothing new about small nuclear reactors.  India has over a dozen reactors of 220 megawatts or less in operation.  But all Indian reactors now under construction are larger because they want to reduce costs.  Technically their small reactors aren’t modular because major components weren’t constructed at one site and then moved to where they were used.  This leads to another major problem with SMRs…
    • They don’t exist. Before Australia can deploy an SMR, a suitable prototype reactor will have to be successfully built and operated. Then a commercial version will need to be developed and multiple units constructed overseas without serious cost overruns and used long enough to show they can be operated safely and cheaply. Given nuclear’s prolonged development cycle, this could easily take over 20 years.  The very best estimate for the cost of electricity from an SMR I have seen is around 6.2 cents per kilowatt-hour and it relies on everything going perfectly — a rare thing for nuclear power.  It also leaves out several costs that have to be paid in the real world.  :……….https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/submarines-nuclear-not-power-stations/

October 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

Nuclear power is too expensive for Australia.

Australian Submarines May Go Nuclear But Our Power Stations Never Will,   SOLARQUOTES, October 11, 2021 by Ronald Brakels

Australia recently decided to buy nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS pact with the UK and United States. 

Assuming it goes ahead, the first sub may be ready around 2040.  But while our submarines may have nuclear reactors, our power stations never will.

There is a simple reason Australia will never have nuclear power despite deciding to get reactors that wander around under the ocean.  The reason is…

  • Nuclear power is too expensive for Australia.
  • Every other concern — whether it’s safety, waste disposal, decommissioning, insurance, or location — is irrelevant because nuclear energy can’t clear the first and vital hurdle of making economic sense. Some suggest building nuclear power in addition to renewables because the threat from global roasting is so great we should fight emissions using every means at our disposal.  But this would be counterproductive because:
  • Nuclear power consumes resources that would result in greater emission cuts if used for solar and wind generation plus energy storage.
  • In other words, $1 spent on solar power will cut greenhouse gas emissions far more than $1 spent on nuclear energy.Finally, some people say we need nuclear power to provide a steady source of low emission baseload generation, but this suggestion is completely nuts.  Even if we built nuclear power stations, they would soon be driven out of the market in the same way coal power is because:
    • Nuclear power has exactly the wrong characteristics to be useful in a grid with a high penetration of solar and wind.Australia currently doesn’t have a nuclear power industry, and building submarines with American made sealed reactors that are never refuelled will do next to nothing to make nuclear power more cost-effective.  In this article, I’ll explain why nuclear power makes no economic sense in Australia, and at the end, I’ll also whinge a bit about nuclear submarines.  ………..
  • Nuclear Power Is Ridiculously Expensive The cost of energy from new nuclear isn’t just expensive; it’s ridiculously expensive.  Here are examples of reactors under construction in developed countries, using Australian dollars at today’s exchange rate:

  • Finland’s Olkiluoto #3 reactor:
      So far, this 1.6 Gigawatt reactor has cost about $14 billion, which is around $8,750 per kilowatt of power output.  Construction started in 2005 and was scheduled to be completed in 2009.  Due to delays, it’s now scheduled to commence normal operation in February 2022 for a total construction time of 17 years. 
  • France’s Flammanville #3 reactor:  The cost of this 1.6 gigawatt reactor is approximately $31 billion.  That’s $19,400 per kilowatt.  Normal operation is scheduled for 2023 — 16 years after construction began. 
  • UK’s Hinkley Point C:  These two reactors will provide 3.2 gigawatts of power and cost around $42 billion.  That’s $13,100 per kilowatt.  Construction began in 2018, and they’re currently scheduled to come online in 2026.
  • US Vogtle 3 & 4:  These two reactors in Georgia (the US state, not where Stalin was born) will total 3.2 gigawatts and, by the time they are complete, may cost over $38 billion.  That’s around $12,000 per kilowatt.  Construction started in 2013, and they’re expected to come online next year.  These are the only commercial reactors being built in the United States. 
  • As you can see, new nuclear isn’t cheap.  Note these aren’t the most expensive reactors under construction in Western Europe and North America, they’re the only ones under construction.     If you think these reactors are expensive to build but provide cheap electricity, that’s not the case.  The Hinkley Point C reactors under construction will receive a minimum of 21 cents per kilowatt-hour they supply for 35 years after they come online.  If the wholesale electricity price goes above 21 cents, they’ll receive that instead.  The 21 cents is indexed to inflation, so it will remain ridiculously expensive for the full 35 years. In the US, households in Georgia will have paid around $1,200 each towards the new Vogtle reactors by the time they come online. After that, their electricity bills will increase by around 10% to pay for the new nuclear electricity.  For another nuclear power station to be constructed in the US would require a payment per kilowatt-hour similar to or higher than Hinkley Point C. ………………..

………….. Poor Choice For Emission Reductions. Some people ask…“Why not build both nuclear and renewable capacity to reduce CO2 emissions as rapidly as possible?”

The answer is…“Because every dollar invested in nuclear will cut emissions by much less than a dollar spent on renewables.”

If the goal is to cut emissions rapidly, it’s counterproductive to invest in nuclear.  Australia doesn’t have existing nuclear capacity or a half-built reactor, so whether it makes sense to keep old reactors operating or complete construction doesn’t come into it.Nuclear capacity isn’t quick to build.  Some notable examples:


  • Olkiluoto 3
     — 17 years
  • Flammanville 3 — 16 years
  • Watts Bar 2 — 43 years
  • Because Australia has no nuclear power industry, it would take more than five years to build a nuclear power station even if we could start construction today1. But Australia can increase its solar energy generation almost immediately.  Extra wind power will take months to arrange, as wind turbine purchases are more complex than just ordering extra solar panels and inverters.  Firming the grid with energy storage is also fast.  The world’s largest battery, the Hornsdale Power Reserve or “Tesla Big Battery”, was built in 100 days.Whether cost or time are considered, nuclear energy is a poor choice for reducing emissions.
  • Nuclear Energy Not Needed For Baseload GenerationOne of the craziest reasons given for building nuclear power in Australia is we need low emission baseload generators.  This idea is nuttier than a lumpy chocolate bar because:
    • No baseload generators are required.
    • Like coal, nuclear power has the wrong characteristics to support a grid with high solar and wind generation.It’s impossible to argue that we need baseload generators that run continuously (except for maintenance).  This is because South Australia has none.  The state doesn’t continuously import electricity either. 
  • Despite having no baseload generators, SA still manages to meet demand as well as other states. South Australia had coal baseload generators in the past, but as wind and solar power capacity expanded, there were increasing periods of low or zero wholesale electricity prices2 resulting from solar and wind having zero fuel costs.  Because their fuel is free, they have little or no incentive not to provide electricity even if they receive next to nothing for it. 
  • Because coal power is expensive to start and stop and saves very little money by shutting down because its fuel cost is low — but not zero — it often had no choice other than to keep operating during periods when it was losing money on every kilowatt-hour generated. In 2016 South Australia shut down its last remaining coal power station because it was no longer profitable.  This same process is happening throughout Australia as solar, wind, and energy storage capacity increases.  In a (hopefully) short period of time, renewables will drive coal power out of the market. 
  • If it doesn’t make economic sense to keep existing coal power stations around to supply baseload power, it definitely makes no sense to replace them with more expensive nuclear reactors with the same problem – that shutting down saves little money because their fuel cost is low.  Building a nuclear power station and then only using it half its potential capacity almost doubles the cost of energy it produces. 

………………. Other Nuclear Energy IssuesThere are many issues associated with nuclear power that are often discussed but are irrelevant.  I’ll quickly mention and dismiss half a dozen or so:……….https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/submarines-nuclear-not-power-stations/

October 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

US and UK begin jostling to supply Australia with nuclear submarine fleet

US and UK begin jostling to supply Australia with nuclear submarine fleetABC By defence correspondent Andrew Greene10 Oct 21, ‘……….In 2021, the Australian Defence Force is again considering what role the Royal Navy could play in developing its next submarines, or whether like many modern acquisitions, it will focus on interoperability with American technology.

Under the AUKUS partnership struck in September, the leaders of the United Kingdom and the United States have agreed to work with Australia on how to build a new class of nuclear-powered submarines.

Over the next 18 months, the Nuclear-Powered Submarine Task Force inside the Department of Defence will lead a study into the numerous regulatory issues involved in the ownership and operation of nuclear-powered boats.

While the design is not yet known, or what the criteria will be, for many commentators the existing British Astute-class is emerging as an early favourite for Australia to replace the Collins-class fleet

Others inside the defence industry believe any nuclear-powered Australian submarine will need to be an American boat, based on the Virginia-class so that it can be serviced at nearby US bases in Guam or Japan.

Both the British and US options have various advantages and disadvantages, which highlight the extraordinarily complex process the ADF faces to select a nuclear-powered submarine — which may never actually eventuate.

Already the regulatory challenges appear significant, as nothing is more complex and costly in the military world than nuclear-powered submarines, particularly for a country with no domestic nuclear industry.

In the United States, an eminent group of former officials and experts has written to President Joe Biden warning the AUKUS deal could threaten national security by encouraging hostile nations to obtain highly enriched uranium (HEU).

Australia insists it will uphold its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but the engineering sector warns it will be a steep learning curve for the Defence Department.

The now dumped Attack class submarine being designed by France’s Naval Group was based on the Barracuda class, which lost three years in development because of less complex regulatory issues associated with low enriched uranium (LEU).

“This is a very long-term effort that’ll be decades, I think, before a submarine goes in the water,” US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday predicted last month…………    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-10/us-and-uk-begin-jostling-for-nuclear-submarine-contract/100525756   

October 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics international | Leave a comment