Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Glencore’s “non profit” group and the plan to pollute the Great Artesian Basin

Great Artesian Basin Protection Group Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 17 Dec 17 

“A PLAN to capture and store liquid CO2 in the Precipice Sandstone Aquifer of the Great Artesian Basin has been bluntly opposed by a room of 50-odd landholders at an information session in Wandoan.

The “non-profit” wholly-owned subsidiary of Glencore, Carbon Transport and Storage Company spent two hours on Tuesday afternoon informing the community of their proposed plan to drill 1300m underground into the aquifer and inject CO2 in the form of a “supercritical liquid”, with half the density of water.

The project is still in its infancy, with another six years of modelling and technical studies to get through before a trial injection can even be contemplated in 2022.

If the trial does go ahead in 2022, 60,000 tonnes of liquid CO2 would be injected into the aquifer from a Glencore-owned property 15km west of town for three years to determine the feasibility of a larger-scale project.
The liquid CO2 would dissolve into the aquifer’s water, acidifying it to a pH of 5. Water has a pH of 7.
The acidified water would form a plume.”

https://m.chinchillanews.com.au/…/landholders-vow-…/3104799/

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December 17, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment | Leave a comment

Australian environment has no constitutional protection, unlike Norway’s

An Australian right to a healthy environment?

Our Constitution doesn’t contain an explicit paragraph for environmental protection, nor do we have a bill of rights.

Brendan Sydes said we have very few rights in our Constitution. “We don’t have the direct constitutional foundation for pursuing these sorts of actions,” he said.

“But there certainly is interest in … trying to find duties or obligations deep within our legal system that would force the Australian Government to take climate change and the need to reduce emissions farm more seriously than they are at the moment.

Dr Tom Baxter, corporate governance lecturer at the University of Tasmania, says the Federal Government hasn’t added a climate change trigger to Australia’s environment legislation. “Environmental lawyers are trying to use other mechanisms to prevent companies like Adani digging up the Galilee Basin and shipping coal out through the Great Barrier Reef.”

Should a healthy environment be a human right? These Norwegians think so http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/should-a-healthy-environment-be-a-human-right/9186144     23 NOVEMBER 2017  By Courtney Carthy 

Greenpeace and the environmental group Youth and Nature are suing the Norwegian Government for granting Arctic oil drilling licenses.

Their argument is based on an article in the Norwegian constitution protecting the right to an environment that’s healthy and that long-term consideration be given to digging up natural resources.

Greenpeace Norway head Truls Gulowsen told Hack it all comes down to climate change and oil licenses.

“We had challenged the Norwegian state for handing out new licenses for drilling in the arctic in spite of the fact that they have signed the Paris Agreement,” he said on his way to court. “They acknowledge climate change is a problem, and they know that the world has already found more carbon, fossil carbon, than we can ever afford to burn.”

He said Norway’s constitution gives future generations the right to a healthy environment.

“[That] puts duties on the state to guarantee and safeguard those rights.”

Brendan Sydes, lawyer and CEO of Environmental Justice Australia, says the strategy used by Greenpeace goes to a country’s legal foundation, instead of working with a country’s environmental regulations. Continue reading

November 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, legal | Leave a comment

Farmers and graziers in Norther Queensland worried about environmental impacts of Adani coal mine project

Qld farmers and graziers afraid to speak out against the Adani mine, says Bruce Currie, ABC AM By Katherine Gregory   23 Nov 17 It’s not just urban southern greenies and pro-coal country Queenslanders involved in the Adani debate — farmers and graziers in the north are also voicing their concerns.  In north and central parts of Queensland, some say they are worried about the environmental impacts of the mine and their future livelihood.

Bruce Currie, who has land near Jericho, about 100 kilometres from the Adani site, said many graziers in the Galilee basin were worried about their groundwater security.

“The people I have spoken to on the actual site are very concerned,” he said.

“Because any discussions they’ve had with Adani, the company has not been prepared to accept the onus of proof.

“Court cases have shown it is going to be extremely hard, if near nearly impossible, for landholders to get their water supplies secure if they have to prove it’s a mining company that destroyed them.”

However, farmers like Mr Couture concerned about the mine face desperation for jobs in the region.

Mr Couture said though publicly the media was reporting that Bowen was pro Adani, in truth the town was split on the issue.

“I would say it’s 50/50. The silent majority is not game to talk in public, because you could upset your neighbour, you could upset your family, you could upset people that are pro Adani,” he said.

Mr Currie, who is running as an independent in the electorate of Gregory for the state election, said while Adani spoke about developing the Galilee Basin, that was not really happening.

“Once those mines have been and gone within the lifetime of my kids, there will be no mines, there will be no resources and no royalties, and they would have destroyed our water for perpetuity,” he said.

Concern about the mine has also extended hundreds of kilometres further east to Bowen, about three hours drive south of Townsville.

Dennis Couture, a fruit and vegetable grower in Bowen, said the growing region and Great Barrier Reef could be under threat in the future.

“For the future generation, to be able to give them something that won’t be destructed and wrecked,” he said.

However he said he mostly unhappy with what appeared to be a double standard by the Queensland Government.

“The Government will permit Adani to use as much water as they want,” he said.

“And on the other hand they look at us, the farmer that supplies food, and they are restricting us on water.”…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-23/qld-farmers-afraid-to-speak-out-against-the-adani-mine/9182958

November 24, 2017 Posted by | environment, Queensland | Leave a comment

Western Australia: Mulga Rock Uranium Project threatens environmental impacts from Tailings waste:

Briefer (Nov 2017) by David Noonan, Independent Environment Campaigner

Uranium mining has unique, inherent risks and long term impacts. The West Australian Parliament has passed a Motion (Legislative Council 23 May 2012) recommending:

The government adopt equivalent or better environmental management regulatory requirements for any future uranium mine in Western Australia as exists under Commonwealth and Northern Territory legislation for the operation of the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory with regard to the disposal of radioactive tailings, including the requirements that –

(a) The tailings are physically isolated from the environment for at least 10,000 years: and

(b) Any contaminants arising from the tailings do not result in any detrimental environmental impacts for at least 10,000 years.”

The Barnett era WA gov Approval for the Mulga Rock Uranium Project (Dec 2016) fails to comply with required Commonwealth & NT legislative standards or with the WA Parliament recommendation.

There are two types of intended Tailings Storage Facilities (TSF): an Above Ground TSF and multiple Mine Pit TSF’s in 4 areas across 30 km. An “authorised extent of physical and operational elements” (Approval Schedule 1 Table 2) place some limits on Above Ground TSF but no limits on Mine Pit TSF’s:

Initial disposal for no longer than 2 years after commencement of mining operations, in the above ground TSF labelled on Figure 2. After this time, all disposal must be in the mine pits”;

Disposal of no more than 3 Mtpa of beneficiation rejects and no more than 2 Mtpa of post-leaching tailings material”, within an Above Ground TSF cleared area of up to 106 ha.

Mine Pit TSF’s are not required to use “best available landform modelling over 10 000 years post mine closure” or to try to meet a safety outcome that is applied to the Above Ground TSF disposal:

Condition 16 (1) ensure that the above ground TSF is safe to members of the public and non-human biota, geo-technically and geo-morphologically, and geo-chemically non-polluting.”

Condition 15-1 allows for a plume of tailings seepage and contaminants to move in groundwater:

The proponent shall manage the design and maintenance of all TSF’s to … ensure that the tailings plume is within background groundwater concentrations at the M39/1080 lease boundary”.

The TSF Monitoring and Management Plan (C 15-3) provides for the proponent: “to manage impacts on groundwater quality including from seepage of contaminants into the groundwater and/or soil”.

Conditions 12 & 14 only seek to “minimise impacts” on Inland Waters, on groundwater, and impacts on water quality, including: “Acid and Metalliferous Drainage from seepage into groundwater”.

A number of Management Plans relevant to TSF’s, Groundwater & Environment issues are required: “prior to substantial commencement of the proposal or as otherwise agreed in writing by the CEO” (Conditions 6-1 & 7-1). These Plans require the approval of the CEO Depart of Environment. 2

Barnett era WA gov Uranium Approvals fail to protect Aboriginal Heritage sites:

Redress is required to WA Uranium Approvals authorisation of impacts to Aboriginal Heritage in favour of mining vested interests and irrespective of cultural & heritage values. Aboriginal people should have rights to Free, Prior and Informed Consent over any WA uranium mine proposal.

The WA Approval to the Mulga Rock Uranium Project (Condition 11-1 Aboriginal Heritage) authorises impacts to registered Aboriginal Heritage sites and to “unregistered sites”, with a weak objective to only minimise impacts on heritage sites rather than to properly protect sites and avoid impacts:

  1. minimise impacts as far as practical to registered sites DAA 1985 and DAA 1986 and unregistered sites.”

An Aboriginal Heritage Management Plan is required to be approved “prior to ground disturbing activities being undertaken” with decision powers held by the CEO of the Depart of Environment.

Flawed Federal Uranium Approval fails to mention Aboriginal Heritage or Tailings issues:

The Federal Approval to the Mulga Rock Uranium Project (02 March 2017, Minister Josh Frydenberg MP) inexplicably fails to mention Aboriginal Heritage or regulation of uranium mine radioactive tailings. These are unacceptable omissions of key Federal EPBC Act responsibilities to protect the environment from nuclear actions. The Federal ALP should commit to address this Liberal failure.

WA Approval Conditions require a “Compliance Assessment Plan” by May 2018:

WA Approval Condition 4 “Compliance Reporting” requires the proponent submit a “Compliance Assessment Plan” by May 2018, to the satisfaction of CEO Depart of Environment. This will test the new ALP State gov: acquiesce to uranium mining or require robust Plans to protect the environment.

Further, the CEO has a power under Condition 5 to require release of all validated environmental data relevant to assessment of the Mulga Rock Project “within a reasonable time period approved by the CEO”. These data sets should be made public ASAP and well prior to any Project commencement.

marginal Uranium Project risks a pristine Priority Ecological Community:

The Mulga Rock Uranium Project site is entirely inside the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community and upstream from the Queens Victoria Springs ‘A Class Nature Reserve’. The project poses a serious long term risk to a listed ‘pristine’ area through production of approx. 32 million tonnes of radioactive tailings and seepage of wastes that require isolation for over 10 000 years.

The Bulletin Magazine (Oct 2016) reports capital costs for Mulga Rock processing and mining infrastructure and indirect costs at over A$360 million, with a planned annual production of uranium oxide concentrate at (only) 1,350 tonnes over a mine life of 16 years. A ‘break even’ Uranium Price for Mulga Rock has been estimated at US$50 per pound. Steve Kidd a former senior official of the World Nuclear Association writes in NEI Magazine (Sept 2017) that: “…uranium prices are set to remain in the US$20’s per pound for a long time, maybe throughout the whole of the 2020’s.

For further info see: www.ccwa.org.au/nuclearfreewa and www.ccwa.org.au/mulga_rocks 

November 18, 2017 Posted by | environment, legal, reference, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

1461 scientists speak up for saving Australia’ oceans

Conservationist and 1,461 other scientists release statement describing Australia’s oceans as a ‘global asset’ that must be protected,  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/27/david-suzuki-australia-sickening-threat-to-marine-reserves-undermines-global-protection

Guardian,Michael Slezak, 26 Sept 17, Growing global momentum to protect the world’s oceans from overfishing could be undermined by Australia, warns renowned conservationist David Suzuki and more than 1,461 other scientists.David Suzuki: Australia’s ‘sickening’ threat to marine reserves undermines global protection He said Australia needed to face up to the interconnected issues of climate change and ocean health, both of which it was failing to address.

“I’m sorry Australia, wake up,” Suzuki said. “The oceans are a mess and a great deal of the mess is a reflection of climate change. Climate change is the overarching issue that is hammering the oceans as well as terrestrial areas. And it is absolutely disgusting that coal is still considered a great economic input to Australia.

“When you’ve got something that [other countries] would die for – you’ve got sunlight up the ying yang, why isn’t Australia the world leader in this incredible form of energy? It makes me sick. You’ve got great research facilities. You’ve got great scientists. You’ve got everything going to be a world leader in the energy of the future and you’re not doing it. And it’s not surprising then that you are doing the same to the oceans. What is it going to take for Australia to wake up to the opportunities?”

Australia is currently considering the world’s biggest downgrading of a protected area with a reduction in the size of its network of marine reserves. Continue reading

September 27, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment | 2 Comments

Renowned author Tim Winton on how Malcolm Turnbull betrayed our ocean s

How Malcolm Turnbull has trashed the Liberal Party record and betrayed our oceans, SMH, Tim Winton , 17 Sept 17 “……

Australians have always loved the ocean, but now, more importantly, we understand how vital the sea’s health is to the future of our island home…….

In 2012, after an exhaustive scientific process and wide community consultation, Tony Burke declared a system of marine national parks, one of the biggest and best in the world, the most significant conservation gain in Australian history.

That took courage. Because it put science before politics, prudence ahead of expediency. And it was popular. But as soon as he came to power in 2013 Tony Abbott announced an immediate moratorium on these parks and instigated a review. The purpose was purely political. To delay implementation, corrode consensus and deny the science. A move straight out of the culture warrior’s playbook.

After decades of forward-thinking leaders, the nation had fallen into the hands of a man whose loyalties were only to the past. It was a low moment. But Abbott’s reign was as brief as it was fruitless. It was a relief to see him replaced in 2015 by a man who’d actually done things, who believed in the future. Malcolm Turnbull did not scorn science. He seemed to understand the value and fragility of our natural estate. So there was new hope the marine parks review would now be expedited and redirected towards real conservation outcomes. With coral reefs bleaching and miners pressing for even more coal ports and seabed to drill, the need for protection had only grown more urgent.

Well, that moment of promise is long gone. Turnbull’s period in office has basically been a hostage drama. The bargain he made with powerbrokers rendered him captive to the party’s most illiberal wing, and if his performance on climate, energy and marriage equality aren’t evidence enough, last month’s announcement that marine parks would be slashed beyond all recognition puts it beyond dispute.

……The draft management plans recently released for consultation by Josh Frydenberg don’t just signify the gutting of the national system, they represent the largest removal of protection for Australian wildlife in our history. What the government is proposing is a nihilistic act of vandalism. Forty  million hectares of sanctuary will be ripped from the estate. That’s like revoking every second national park on land. Under its new plan, 38 out of 44 marine parks will be open to trawling, gillnetting and longlining, 33 will be open to mining, and 42 exposed to the construction of pipelines. In total defiance of the scientific advice upon which the original system was designed, 16 marine parks will now have no sanctuary zones at all.

…….. The shame of it is, the Liberal Party has a worthy environmental record, especially with oceans. Malcolm Fraser declared the Great Barrier Reef a marine park in 1975 and in 1978 he ended whaling. And remember, the national push for marine parks began under John Howard. So this government is trashing its own party’s proud legacy……..http://www.smh.com.au/comment/how-malcolm-turnbull-has-trashed-the-liberal-party-record-and-betrayed-our-oceans-20170908-gydy2d.html

September 18, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

A truly good news story – the cuttlefish are back in Spencer Gulf

South Australians – pat yourselves on the back. When the nuclear lobby wanted to put the nuclear industry up at the top of Spencer Gulf – South Australia said “NO” – as South Australians have been doing for decades – fighting back. Nuclear power would have caused releases of hot water into the Gulf, ruining the special temperature conditions essential for the breeding of these unique and beautiful animals.

We don’t really know why they dwindled, and why they’re now back. But hooray for their return!

Thousands of giant cuttlefish back in SA http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/thousands-of-giant-cuttlefish-back-in-sa/news-story/f859a1f7bd568fb213ae2fe4fe66b680, Australian Associated Press, August 25, 2017 Thousands of giant cuttlefish are flocking to the rocky coastline of the upper Spencer Gulf in South Australia to spawn in record numbers, reserving a worrying decline.

More than 100,000 cuttlefish have journeyed to Point Lowly near Whyalla to breed, according to data from the state government’s principal research institute.

The number is up from a record low of just over 13,000 in 2013.

The giant Australian cuttlefish – which can reach up to 60cm in length and weigh five kilograms – live for two to three years and migrate annually to Spencer Gulf to spawn.

The worrying decline in their numbers in 2013 promoted more research into their breeding patterns. This year’s population estimate is the third-highest recorded over the last decade,” said senior research scientist Dr Mike Steer.

It is still not completely understood why cuttlefish migrate to the Spencer Gulf nor why their numbers declined, but fishing restrictions have been put in place until 2018 as a precaution.

“The last five years of research has clearly demonstrated the population’s capacity to rebound from low numbers very quickly,” Dr Steer said.

August 28, 2017 Posted by | environment, South Australia | Leave a comment

Adani fined $12,000 for Abbot Point coal terminal stormwater breach

 The Age, Jorge Branco , 11 Aug 17,  Indian mining giant Adani has been fined $12,000 for a stormwater breach at its Abbot Point coal terminal during Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

The Adani-owned Abbot Point Bulk Coal was granted a temporary licence to more than triple its “suspended solids” releases during the severe weather in March. But the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection claimed more than eight times that amount was released into the ocean near the north Queensland facility.

The fine did not relate to water released into the surrounding wetlands, which was still under investigation. Activists released striking photos of the difference in the wetlands before and after the cyclone, claiming coal had turned the area black, but Adani said it had complied with the conditions of its licence.

 The breach related to stormwater released on the other side of the facility, into the ocean.At the time, a company spokesman said no spill had made its way into the sea and the Queensland Resources Council said “water absorbs light so it is usually black in the images”.

According to the Environment Department, the Temporary Emissions Licence allowed Abbot Point Bulk Coal to release stormwater with a suspended solid limit of 100mg per litre during the high rainfall.

But on April 6, the company informed the department it had breached the conditions with the release of stormwater containing 806mg/L of suspended solids, the department said…….

Mackay Conservation Group co-ordinator Peter McCallum criticised the fine, saying it would encourage future harm rather than deter it.

“Adani is likely to make a business decision that it is cheaper to pollute the Caley Valley wetlands and the waters of the Great Barrier Reef than to put in place infrastructure that will ensure the sensitive environments at Abbot Point are never damaged again,” said the man, whose organisation released the before and after photos of the wetlands.

“Without sufficient penalties for breaching environmental conditions there’s little point in having them.”…….

The company has proposed a $3 billion expansion of the Abbot Point terminal to service its massive Carmichael mine plans in the Galilee Basin. http://www.theage.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/adani-fined-12000-for-abbot-point-coal-terminal-stormwater-breach-20170810-gxtxmd.html

August 12, 2017 Posted by | environment, legal, Queensland | Leave a comment

Australia’s failure to protect environment: the Murray-Darling basin scandal:

The Murray-Darling basin scandal: a symptom of how we fail to protect our environment, Guardian ,  Suzanne Milthorpe, 29 July 17  Only an independent watchdog can sort out the current impenetrable soup of federal, state and local bodies that make up environmental governance Suzanne Milthorpe is National Nature Campaign Manager with The Wilderness Society Australia It turns out that the only drop to drink in the Murray-Darling basin is in private irrigation channels surrounding NSW’s Barwon River. But the scandal unfolding there is not an isolated failure in the system, but a symptom of something much more fundamentally wrong with how we protect our environment. And it’s time for the Australian government to lead us in a national plan to fix this.

The community was rightly shocked this week by allegations of widespread water theft, meter tampering and what looks very much like corrupt dealings between public servants, politicians and certain irrigators in the Murray Darling basin.

People from southern NSW to South Australia are wondering how in the hell wrongdoing at this scale could go undetected and unchecked for so long. How could a multi-billion dollar program, overseen by the federal government, the NSW government, local governments and the Murray Darling Basin Authority, fail to catch such widespread problems? In response to the allegations, downstream users and political leaders are calling for independent inquiries and new independent bodies to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

That’s fair. From the 2014 Icac coal scandals in NSW, government-run clearing of threatened species in Perth’s Beeliar wetlands and the continued logging of Leadbeater’s possum habitat, despite years of federal and state recovery plans, the need for an independent watchdog for our environment and our communities has long been evident.

But what’s being lost in the furore over the Murray-Darling is that this problem is much bigger than the potential corruption in the system. This is just the latest in a long line of similar failures in our system of environmental protection and governance…….

the 2014 Icac coal scandals in NSW…..

clearing of tens of thousands of hectares of koala habitat and logging of old growth forests full of wildlife. …..

the Great Barrier Reef…..

As with the Murray-Darling, our greatest natural assets are caught between self-interested state governments desperately holding on to a mantra of “jobs and growth equals votes” and an utterly disinterested Australian government that is trying its best to rid itself of its responsibilities. The system is broken and needs a complete overhaul. We need a national plan to protect our environment, we need a strong and independent watchdog, a national EPA, with teeth to deliver the plan and we need governments of all levels to stop the buck passing and get on with the job.

It’s time for the Australian government to step up and lead the country in a national environment plan that coordinates the states and territories in a truly national effort to protect the environment. Because the simple truth is that without fundamental change, these scandals will keep happening. Threatened species will face extinction. The Reef will continue to suffocate under tonnes of soil. And our environment and our communities will continue to suffer for years to come. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/29/the-murray-darling-basin-scandal-a-symptom-of-how-we-fail-to-protect-our-environment

July 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment | Leave a comment

Planning for the town of Jabiru to be rejuvenated as uranium mining ends

Jabiru: the Kakadu mining town facing closure seeks a fresh start  The town of 1,000 people is supposed to disappear as the Ranger uranium mine closes, but locals want to give it a new future as a tourism hub, Guardian, Helen Davidson, 24 July 17

Jabiru is a small town on a countdown.

Deep inside Kakadu national park, the tiny network of bush-lined streets and a tired shopping precinct was originally built in 1982 to service the community of workers from the Ranger uranium mine. It remains home to just over 1,000 people, a quarter of whom are Indigenous, and serves as a hub for more than 300 people living on nearby outstations.

It has also grown to become a base for the 210,000 odd tourists who visit Kakadu each year, many of them staying at the smattering of caravan parks and crocodile-shaped hotels on their way through.

But Energy Resources Australia is required to wrap up its operations and rehabilitate the site when its lease expires in 2021, after losing the support of its parent company, Rio Tinto, to open another mine.

That means returning the land – including Jabiru – to a pre-mine state, taking the electricity and airport with it.

 Almost no one wants the town to be fully rehabilitated, but in the absence of an alternative plan, ERA is continuing with its obligations to shut it down within four years……..

The uncertainty is already having an impact, with a number of businesses having closed their doors in recent years, unable to secure loans or find buyers without a guaranteed future.

The West Arnhem Regional Council has provided assurances that it will remain in the region, servicing the Indigenous communities.

“Jabiru is the town in this region. There’s nothing else between Coolalinga [near Darwin] and Gunbalanya [in Arnhem Land],” says Justin O’Brien, chief executive of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation.

Gundjeihmi, which represents the Mirarr traditional owners of the park, is working with the federal and territory governments, and ERA, on an alternative plan for the town.

O’Brien is optimistic, and says ERA’s study was based on “full demolition” scenarios.

“They are a narrow focus on what would occur if nothing else happened.”

Last year the Mirarr were legally recognised by the federal court as the native title holders of the land Jabiru sits on, and are negotiating a township lease……

The airstrip, connected to the Ranger mine, has a future three years longer than the town under the current closure plans – it would be demolished in 2025. If it disappeared it would be devastating for the tourism industry, O’Brien says.

“Jabiru and Kakadu might not be kicking the goals in tourism we think it could and should be, but it’s all that’s on offer at the moment. In the peak season it can be difficult getting a bed.”

Bob McDonald, director of Kakadu Air, which has operated from the Jabiru airstrip running scenic flights over Kakadu for 36 years, declines to talk about the report, but tells Guardian Australia he is “extremely optimistic” and the current planning is “a great opportunity for the normalisation of Jabiru”. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/24/jabiru-kakadu-mining-town-facing-closure-seeks-fresh-start

July 24, 2017 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

A farmer deplores the planned giveaway of precious water to Adani coal mine project

Adani Carmichael mine: Water is too important for farmers to risk wasting it on a mine, ABC News, 6 Jul 17  By Robert Quirk, I’m no activist. I’m a farmer, and as a farmer I’m against the Adani coal mine for one reason: water.

My sugar cane farm is on the flood plains of northern NSW. Many of my friends and colleagues are in the industry located all over Queensland.

All farmers, no matter what the crop, or livestock, rely on water. Sugar cane requires about 1300 millimetres of well-spread rain to grow a crop. You might manage, with good irrigation, on 600-700mm. Too much in the form of a flood and you might end up with a damaged crop.

In a good year, everything you need falls from the sky, at the right time, in the right amount. Of course, not every year is a good year. In fact, good years are rare and that’s why farmers manage risk with irrigation. You store the water for use later with dams and the like, you try to use it efficiently and sometimes you need to extract it from underground, or truck it in.

It’s all pretty basic stuff, so it’s truly bowled me over to learn the detail of the Adani mine in relation to water.

Two sets of rules

Many farmers in Queensland have licences to draw their water from the Great Artesian Basin. The same basin that the Carmichael mine, once in operation, also plans to draw massive amounts of water from.

How much you ask? Good question. As much as the owners please, because the Queensland Government has granted this company unlimited access to extract groundwater…….

Those in favour of the mine are right about one thing — it is a really good deal. It’s just not a good deal for the Australian people……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-07/adani-mine-water-is-too-important-to-farmers/8686890

July 8, 2017 Posted by | environment, Queensland | Leave a comment

Farmers for Climate Action gathering huge support in their fight against Adani coal mine expansion

Farmers join fight against Adani coalmine over environmental concerns  More than 2,000 farmers and agriculture leaders express concern proposed Carmichael coalmine could affect groundwater, biodiversity and climate change, Guardian, Michael Slezak, 30 June 17, A group of Australian farmers have joined the large coalition of groups fighting against Adani’s giant Carmichael coalmine, after they became concerned about the affects the mine would have on groundwater, biodiversity, rural communities and climate change.

Farmers for Climate Action – a group of more than 2,000 farmers and agriculture leaders concerned about climate change – became the newest group to join the Stop Adani alliance last week, at the same time as one of its members attracted more than 30,000 signatures to a petition calling on the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, to rescind her commitment to give Adani unlimited free access to groundwater used by farmers in the region.

Longreach farmer Angus Emmott launched the petition last week; a few days later he had an accident on his farm and had to be airlifted to hospital. When he checked on the number of signatures on Wednesday, he was shocked to see there were nearly 30,000……

“It’s too big a danger for the future,” Emmott said. “We need clean water. We need good soil. We need food security. And we have the potential to be a leader in renewable energy in Queensland. We don’t need to be reviving an outdated technology.”

Excited by the number of signatures, Emmott decided to try to get a meeting with Palaszczuk and deliver the petition in person. “The doc says I should take it easy after my accident, but as soon as I get the all-clear to travel I’ll fly to Brisbane to deliver the petition in person. I might bring a few other farmers with me too,” he said in an update posted on the petition website.

Emmott said it appeared a lot of farmers have signed the petition, as well as people in cities who share his concerns. He said he hopes to reach 50,000 signatures before he delivers the petition to Palaszczuk.

The Farmers for Climate Action chief executive, Verity Morgan-Schmidt, said the group had decided to join the Stop Adani alliance mainly because of impacts the proposal would have on groundwater, but also because of concerns about biodiversity, rural communities and the climate. The decision brought the number of groups in the Stop Adani alliance to 13.

“No one can tell us, with any confidence, what impact this project could have on water supplies from underground aquifers because there is no independent or government oversight, or trigger levels that would halt mining,” Morgan-Schmidt said…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/30/farmers-join-fight-against-adani-coalmine-over-environmental-concerns

June 30, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, Queensland | Leave a comment

Great Barrier Reef headed for death, without a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

UNESCO warns climate change means time is running out for World Heritage Great Barrier Reef http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/unesco-warns-climate-change-means-time-is-running-out-for-world-heritage-great-barrier-reef/news-story/4765a338156dd9e5b9b2c1d2b357d655?nk=ba26857f63080120cbd5fc74c94d3959-1498465693, Daryl Passmore, The Courier-Mail, June 25, 2017

THE Great Barrier Reef will be dead by the end of this century without a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a world-first study warns.

The threat to Australia’s natural wonder is detailed in the first global assessment of climate change impacts on coral, released yesterday by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

It comes just a month before the World Heritage Committee meets in Poland to consider the condition of the Great Barrier Reef and the effectiveness of a management plan introduced by the Queensland and federal governments to protect it.

“Soaring ocean temperatures in the past three years have subjected 21 of 29 World Heritage reefs to severe and/or repeated heat stress, and caused some of the worst bleaching ever observed at iconic sites like the Great Barrier Reef,’’ it says.

“The analysis predicts that all 29 coral-containing World Heritage sites would cease to exist as functioning coral reef ecosystems by the end of this century under a business-as-usual emissions scenario.”

The report calls on all countries with World Heritage coral reefs to act to reduce net greenhouse emissions to zero in order to save them.

On current trends, the assessment predicts, global warming will increase by 4.3C by 2100.

Under that scenario, the Great Barrier Reef would suffer severe coral bleaching twice a decade by 2035 – “a frequency that will rapidly kill most corals present and prevent successful reproduction necessary for recovery of corals.’’

The diversity of life on reefs has led to them being been dubbed the “rainforests of the sea”. Covering less than 0.1 per cent of the ocean floor, they host more than a quarter of all marine fish species.

Australian Marine Conservation Society spokeswoman Imogen Zethoven said the Great Barrier Reef and other World Heritage reefs were in grave danger from climate change, mainly driven by the burning of coal.

“Yet the Australian government appears hell-bent on making the problem worse by pushing ahead with Adani’s monstrous coal mine (planned for central Queensland), talking up a coal-fired power station next to the Great barrier Reef and failing to do its fair share of global pollution reduction,” she said.

 “The Australian government is not only placing our Great Barrier Reef and the 70,000 jobs that depend on it at grave risk, it is endangering the future of World Heritage coral reefs around the world,” Ms Zethoven said.

“The majority of Australians believe the state of our reef is a national emergency, but the Australian government doesn’t care.”

June 26, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, Queensland | Leave a comment

Senator Scott Ludlam asks some inconvenient questions on the cleanup of the Ranger uranium mine

Environment and Communications Legislation Committee 23/05/2017 Estimates
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY PORTFOLIO
Clean Energy Regulator

Full Transcript: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;adv=yes;orderBy=customrank;page=0;query=Dataset%3AcomSen,estimate%20Dataset_Phrase%3A%22estimate%22%20CommitteeName_Phrase%3A%22environment%20and%20communications%20legislation%20committee%22%20Questioner_Phrase%3A%22ludlam,%20sen%20scott%22;rec=5;resCount=Default

CHAIR: I welcome the Office of the Supervising Scientist.

Senator LUDLAM: I understand that ERA is in the process of starting to get on with closing the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu and have notified stakeholders—presumably including yourselves—that they are intending to vary the way that they are depositing the tailings back into pit 3, and that they are proposing to change from an aerial tailings deposition to subaqueous deposition. For the non-specialists, could you describe maybe in plain English the difference in technique they are proposing.

Mr Tayler : The previous tailings deposition methodology had tailings being dredged from the tailings dam and tailings coming from the mill being deposited onto a beach, essentially. The new methodology that ERA is proposing involves depositing tailings through water; hence the subaqueous versus subaerial. Essentially, it was being put onto a tailings beach; the new method will be depositing it through the water column itself.

Senator LUDLAM: Is the decommissioning of the mine being treated as a nuclear action under the EPBC Act?

Mr Tayler : No.

Senator LUDLAM: Can you describe for us why not?

Mr Tayler : I would prefer that questions specific to the EPBC Act were directed to the Environmental Standards Division, or we could take it on notice if that is okay.

Senator LUDLAM: I think that is fair enough. If you can take it on notice, but I guess the answer is not going to come from you, is it? I think we have already let these people go.

Mr Tayler : Yes, it is a legal point, and I would not want to comment on that in case I got it wrong.

Senator LUDLAM: That is fine. I understand there is an interception trench, which intersects the saline plume coming out from under the tailings storage facility. We have been asking your predecessors in this office for years about this. My understanding is that ERA is currently monitoring that plume of saline water. There is a certain amount of dewatering that is being done. How long is it expected that monitoring and dewatering operations would continue beyond 2020?

Mr Tayler : In relation to the seepage—

Senator LUDLAM: In 2026, I beg your pardon. In relation to the monitoring of that saline plume and the dewatering.

Mr Tayler : Specifically related to the tailings dam?

Senator LUDLAM: Yes.

Mr Tayler : That is not information that we currently have. It is on ERA’s work program to conduct some detailed groundwater modelling of the TSF footprint. The TSF will not be decommissioned for several years yet, so I could not give you a specific answer to that question at this time.

Senator LUDLAM: When is the expected decommissioning date for the tailings storage facility?

Mr Tayler : I would have to take that on notice for the exact date. I believe it was towards the end of the rehabilitation process, which would put it in the 2024-25 period, but I will confirm that for you.

Senator LUDLAM: I will tell you what the purpose of these questions is: we have a plume of saline water that ERA was a bit reluctant to concede even existed, seeping out from under the dam, carrying goodness knows what other processed chemicals and radionuclides and whatever with it. We have the company with interception trenches, possibly bores, trying to get a sense of how much water is falling out the bottom of the TSF. We have an interception trench which is allowing them to remove some of that water and presumably process it and clean it up. That is a very active process of maintenance. How long is it anticipated to last?

Mr Tayler : Yes, I understand the question. At this stage, I do not have sufficient information to answer that question.

Senator LUDLAM: In terms of a yes/no. Is that because you do not have it at the table or you do not think that knowledge exists at this time?

Mr Tayler : I do not think that knowledge exists at this time. We need ERA to complete some proposed groundwater modelling. That will model the movement of that plume. That will give some indication of how long that plume will take to move, how long it will take to dilute and what management, if any management, will be required. That work has not yet been undertaken.

Senator LUDLAM: It is 2017. How does the ERA not know that already? I have been asking about this for about eight years, and this was an issue way before I came along.

Mr Tayler : Operationally, I think the issue has been quite well managed. We can provide an update on that if that would be helpful. From a long-term closure sense, the focus has been on looking at the groundwater impacts from the pits. Further work is still required on quantifying exactly what is beneath the TSF and what that may look like in the future.

Senator LUDLAM: So they still do not really know what is coming out from underneath the dam?

Mr Tayler : In an operational sense, we know very well exactly what is moving now. How that will behave over the long term into the future is not yet quantified.

Senator LUDLAM: Could you provide us with an estimate of how much water is seeping out from under the TSF every year? We have had order of magnitude estimates going back a couple of years.

Mr Tayler : For the whole dam? I would have to take that on notice.

Senator LUDLAM: Thank you. What I am trying to find out is whether that process is still going to be underway beyond 2026 or if it is within the company’s work plan that it is all well and truly done.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, Northern Territory, politics | Leave a comment

New South Wales EPA must review procedures for managing contaminated land

I wonder if the radioactively polluted area in Hunter’s Hill is included in this.   Also, just how clean is the Lucas Heights area?  Or should I say Baren Ridge – sounds cleaner than Lucas Heights, doncha think?
Land contamination review follows Fairfax Media Toxic State investigation, SMH, 28 May 17 , James Robertson,  The state government will urgently review procedures for managing contaminated land in NSW, following a Fairfax Media investigation that revealed suspected contamination in residential areas was not being made public to protect house prices.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton announced the review on Saturday after Fairfax Media revealed that the Environment Protection Authority had been keeping “significant” chemical contamination hidden to protect residential property prices.

“There will be an independent urgent review into the procedural guidelines for contaminated land management,” Ms Upton said in a statement…..

An independent review last year found the authority had decided “not to routinely declare all sites where the contamination is significant enough to warrant regulation”.

The authority wanted to avoid “blighting” land prices but its head, Barry Buffier, denied that property prices were the “driving factor” in the organisation’s decision-making.

Environmentalists and the state’s opposition said they were alarmed that residents throughout the state could be unknowingly living on top of dangerous chemicals.

Fairfax also revealed the EPA was struggling to assess and prioritise many thousands of sites that had been reported as contaminated.  …..http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/land-contamination-review-follows-fairfax-media-toxic-state-investigation-20170527-gwek1e.html

May 29, 2017 Posted by | environment, New South Wales | Leave a comment