Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Restoring Kakadu to its former glory (now that uranium mining is finished)

Kakadu at a crossroads: Traditional owners welcome call to restore park to its former glory http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-29/kakadu-at-a-crossroads:-traditional-owners-tourism/9921510  By Felicity James  

Advertisements

June 29, 2018 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Water wars: A new front in the fight against Adani

GreenLeftWeekly , author Margaret Gleeson  June 21, 2018

‘In April Adani applied to the federal Department of Environment and Energy
to expand a dam by 450% and build a pipeline for its Carmichael coalmine,
without an assessment under national environment laws.

‘The project, North Galilee Water Scheme, involves expanding an existing
2.2 billion-litre dam to 10 billion litres and building associated infrastructure,
including 110 kilometres of pipeline to transport water
from the Suttor River and Burdekin Basin. The aim is to supply at least
12.5 gigalitres of fresh water to the Carmichael coalmine and
other mines in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland. …

‘In its application, Adani said the water trigger applies only to
projects associated with extraction. …

‘“It’s an incredibly narrow reading of the EPBC Act,” said
Australian Conservation Foundation Stop Adani campaigner Christian Slattery.
“Clearly it’s a project connected with coalmining.”

‘“If this interpretation is accepted by the minister it further demonstrates
the weaknesses of the EPBC Act and the need for a new generation of environmental laws.”

Labor’s environment spokesperson Tony Burke said the government should ensure
a thorough and rigorous environmental assessment is conducted:
“Adani cannot evade the scrutiny of the expert independent scientific committee,
and the minister for the environment should not be facilitating an opportunity for Adani
to avoid scientific scrutiny on its use of water.

‘“The more I look at this [Carmichael] project and the way the company has dealt with
different layers of government the more sceptical I have become.”

Lock the Gate Alliance campaign coordinator Carmel Flint said the proposal came
when “most of central Queensland is in drought” and the effects on other water users
and the environment must be considered.

‘“Adani is apparently trying to sneak through approval for a massive water scheme
without a full environmental assessment … in our view that’s an activity
which is absolutely required to go through the water trigger,” she said. …

‘Adani’s claims in the application, in relation to consultation with local Traditional Owners
and its track record on adherence to environmental regulations, are spurious at best. …

‘It makes no mention that its dodgy Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
is subject to legal challenge. …

‘The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists told the Productivity Commission review
that mining exemptions make it difficult to measure the cumulative
impacts of water extraction,
“placing entire groundwater and interconnected surface water systems at risk”. …

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland chief executive Jo Bragg said
the community was not given an opportunity to object to the granting of Adani’s water licence.

‘She said the commission’s findings added to pressure on federal Labor
to revoke Adani’s environmental approvals if it wins power.’

Read more of Margaret‘s comprehensive, well-researched & groundbreaking article,
www.greenleft.org.au/content/water-wars-new-front-fight-against-adani

June 22, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

Australian Medical Association urges fixing the uranium-polluted water supplies to remote communities

Filtering out heavy metals years away, despite high uranium detected in water, ABC News , By Bridget BrennanIsabella Higgins and Stephanie Zillman, -20 June 18

The Northern Territory Government has downplayed concern following the ABC’s revelation that drinking water has been high in uranium in three Aboriginal communities for a decade — even as the Power and Water Corporation said a plan to filter heavy metals was still years away.

Key points:

  • Earlier this week ABC revealed at least three Central Australian communities have uranium levels in drinking water that exceed health guidelines
  • The NT Health Minister has now responded, saying the NT Health Department and Power and Water were working together on the issue
  • But medical professionals said the situation was “unacceptable”

The response came as the Australian Medical Association urged the water supplies be fixed, with Aboriginal health organisations describing the situation as “unacceptable”.

On Tuesday, ABC’s 7.30 revealed the central desert communities of Laramba, Wilora and Willowra supplied bore water with elevated levels of uranium.

Data from the Power and Water Corporation showed Laramba’s water supply contained uranium at higher than 0.04 milligrams per litre (mg/L).

Australian Drinking Water Guidelines outline those levels should not exceed 0.017 mg/L — and the corporation agreed that several communities are drinking water above the national guidelines.

Yet the Power and Water Corporation said a plan to filter out elevated levels of heavy metals like uranium from drinking water in some Central Australian communities is still years away……….

Doctors said fixing the supply should be a priority.

“Contaminants which do make the drinking water unsafe to drink above the guidelines as stipulated, should be treated as a health priority,” AMA president Dr Tony Bartone said.

“All governments — of either jurisdiction — need to ensure that all Australians have access to potable drinking water.”

Dr Bartone said the AMA wanted safe drinking water levels to be part of the Closing the Gap targets, which are currently undergoing a review after 10 years of limited progress.

“Access to safe drinking water is a prerequisite for good health,” he said.

“You can’t really set aspirational targets for health without really pinning the strategy to the building blocks around good health — the social determinants of health.”

John Paterson, chief executive of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, said an independent review was needed “as soon as possible”.

“Governments need to respond to this, we need the experts out there to explain how much contamination is in the water and what solutions have been provided,” he said.

Rod Little, co-chair of National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, said he was shocked to hear of uranium levels not meeting health guidelines in Aboriginal communities. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-20/high-uranium-detected-in-central-australian-bore-water/9891522

June 22, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, uranium | Leave a comment

Monte Bello Islands remain a nuclear radiation risk

Montebello Islands are a nuclear radiation risk, but boaters and campers flout the rules, ABC North West WA By Susan Standen , 17 June 18

June 18, 2018 Posted by | environment, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Labor prepared to strengthen environmental protections, as grass roots members demand

Labor considers tougher environmental laws as branches call for new agency
Tony Burke says Labor isn’t afraid to strengthen laws as grassroots campaign calls for more proactive protections,
Guardian, Katharine Murphy Political editor @murpharoo17 May 2018 

 

May 17, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s scarce water could be helped by solar and wind power

Solar and wind could ease Australia’s water shortage https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/solar-and-wind-could-ease-australia-s-water-shortage-20180513-p4zf1t.html -By Cole Latimer, 

Australia is one the world’s top 20 water-stressed nations but a shift to more renewable energy could lessen the nation’s water pressure.

A report by the World Resources Industry identified Australia as one country vulnerable to water stress where the potential for cheap renewable energy, solar and wind as opposed to fossil fuels, could reduce water consumption country-wide as these technologies use minimal – or zero – water.

May 13, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, solar, wind | Leave a comment

The ecological knowledge of indigenous peoples

Land managers in Australia have adopted many of the fire-control practices of the aborigines and have partnered with native people.

While the skill of aborigines with fire had been noted before the giant brushfires – early settlers remarked on the “park-like” nature of the landscape – and studied before, it’s taken on new urgency. That’s why Australian land managers have adopted many of the ideas and partnered with native people as co-managers. The fire practices of the aborigines are also being taught and used in other countries.

Scientists have looked to Australian natives for other insights into the natural world. A team of researchers collaborated with natives based on their observations of kites and falcons that fly with flaming branches from a forest fire to start other fires. It’s well known that birds will hunt mice and lizards as they flee the flames of a wildfire. But stories among indigenous people in northern Australia held that some birds actually started fires by dropping a burning branch in unburned places. Based on this TEK, researchers watched and documented this behavior.

Aboriginal people “don’t see themselves as superior to or separated from animals. They are walking storehouses of knowledge”

Native Knowledge: What Ecologists Are Learning from Indigenous People https://e360.yale.edu/features/native-knowledge-what-ecologists-are-learning-from-indigenous-people

From Alaska to Australia, scientists are turning to the knowledge of traditional people for a deeper understanding of the natural world. What they are learning is helping them discover more about everything from melting Arctic ice, to protecting fish stocks, to controlling wildfires.   

While he was interviewing Inuit elders in Alaska to find out more about their knowledge of beluga whales and how the mammals might respond to the changing Arctic, researcher Henry Huntington lost track of the conversation as the hunters suddenly switched from the subject of belugas to beavers.

It turned out though, that the hunters were still really talking about whales. There had been an increase in beaver populations, they explained, which had reduced spawning habitat for salmon and other fish, which meant less prey for the belugas and so fewer whales.

“It was a more holistic view of the ecosystem,” said Huntington. And an important tip for whale researchers. “It would be pretty rare for someone studying belugas to be thinking about freshwater ecology.”

Around the globe, researchers are turning to what is known as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to fill out an understanding of the natural world. TEK is deep knowledge of a place that has been painstakingly discovered by those who have adapted to it over thousands of years. “People have relied on this detailed knowledge for their survival,” Huntington and a colleague wrote in an article on the subject. “They have literally staked their lives on its accuracy and repeatability.”

Tapping into this traditional wisdom is playing an outsized role in the Arctic, where change is happening rapidly.

Continue reading

April 27, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, culture, environment | Leave a comment

Accelerating rate of heat increasing in oceans, especially around Australia

‘Concerning’: Marine heatwaves increasing, especially near Australia, https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/marine-heatwaves-australia-tasman-sea-climate-20180410-p4z8qq.html, By Peter Hannam, 

Marine heatwaves are increasing in their frequency and duration at an accelerating rate in many parts of the world, especially around Australia, a team of international scientists has found.

The number of oceanic heatwave days a year has increased by 54 per cent in the past century globally, the researchers determined, using data of sea-surface temperatures from long-established sites and satellites.

“We have seen an increasing trend in the frequency and duration [of marine heatwaves], and that trend has accelerated in the past 30 years or so,” said Lisa Alexander, associate professor at University of NSW’s Climate Change Research Centre, and an author of the paper published in Nature Communications on Wednesday.

Rather than a precursor, the number of heatwave days may even be an underestimate of what is to come as the planet warms, Professor Alexander said. “We could see it accelerated even more, given what we’ve seen recently,” she said.

Episodes of extreme heat over land have been studied more closely than those beneath the waves. Oceans, though, not only absorb about 93 per cent of the additional heat being trapped by rising greenhouse gas levels, they are also the main driver of the Earth’s climate.

Thank goodness we have the oceans as this massive sink [for both heat and carbon dioxide] but they are also changing too, and we tend to forget that,” said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, an author of the paper and also a researcher at the UNSW CCRC.

Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick likened the oceans to the tropics, where temperatures typically move within a narrow band. Even moderate increases can have big impacts on humans and ecosystems alike.

The paper, which defined heatwaves as at least five consecutive days with sea-surface temperatures in the top 10 per cent of warmth over a 30-year period, found such events were on the increase in most parts of the world.

Global hot spots

Australia was home, along with the north Pacific and north Atlantic, of some of the global ocean hot spots.

While coral bleaching from extended heat over the Great Barrier Reef and elsewhere in recent years had drawn international attention, many other regions had seen “substantial ecological and economic impacts”, as fishing and tourism industries they support were hit, the paper said.

For instance, an extreme event off the Western Australia coast in 2011 led to large-scale effects in the Ningaloo region. Kelp forests south of Ningaloo were hammered and are yet to recover.

“You only need to have that one event to have this complete shift in the ecological environments,” Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick said, noting such changes have tended to be less dramatic on land.

“Will it ever change back? Have we reached the point of no return for certain marine environments?” she said. “There are a lot of unknowns there, but it’s quite concerning.”

Coral bleaching events have garnered much of the attention but many other marine species, including kelp forests off Tasmania, can be vulnerable to changing conditions.

“[Corals] are the sort of poster child for ecological change, and other systems aren’t maybe as pretty to look at,” Professor Alexander said. “But [others] are equally as important in the ecosystems and food chains”.

Tasman Sea heat

The westward boundaries of the continents tend to be where oceans are warming fastest, including off the east Australian coast.

The Tasman Sea had experienced an increase in heatwave events even before this past summer’s record burst, that fell outside the researchers’ period of study.

In a special climate statement released last month by the Bureau of Meteorology and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the agencies found the south Tasman Sea recorded sea-surface anomalies of as much as 2.12 degrees last December and 1.96 degrees in January.

Those readings were compared with a 1981-2010 baseline – and broke the record for those months by about a degree – an unusual departure from the norm for ocean readings.

April 13, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

Aboriginal traditional owners warn that Rum Jungle uranium mine rehabilitation is jeopardised

 

Above: Finniss River polluted by Rum Jungle mine’s toxic metallic and radioactive debris

Rum Jungle uranium mine rehabilitation jeopardised by NT Resources Department, traditional owners warn http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-03/uranium-mine-rehabilitation-jeopardised-nt-resources-department/9612056  By Sara Everingham 

April 4, 2018 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Worrying changes to Gippsland mining plan – risk of radioactive pollution

Fingerboard mine changes are ‘significant and disturbing’ — MFG, http://www.gippslandtimes.com.au/story/5272468/mine-changes-are-significant-and-disturbing/David Braithwaite@DaveismOfficial 8 Mar 2018,  MINE-Free Glenaladale has not been directly advised by Kalbar what the changes to its project will entail, and spokesperson Pat Williams said it was waiting for the revised project description to be posted on Kalbar’s website.

“One of our members tried to get more information from Kalbar. All he was told was that the new project area was 1675 hectares (an increase of more 200 hectares) and that there would be a revised project description on their website in a few days,” Pat Williams said.

“So the only information we have to go on is the interview with Kalbar spokesman Martin Richardson.”

Mine-Free Glenaladale believes rather than being “refinements”, the extra processing plant for rare earths, as well as zircon and titanium, and the new mine path, are significant and substantial changes to the original proposal that was put to the referral for the environmental effects statement.

“It is unfathomable that as an effectively different project, they shouldn’t be required put in a new referral to allow for public comment,” Pat Williams said.

“Rare earth mining and processing has very bad press around the world.

“We understand there are only a handful of rare earth mines in Australia, and none in areas where there are so many conflicting land uses and such potential damage to the environment.”

Mine-Free Glenaladale also disputes Mr Richardson’s description of the mine tailings as sand, quartz and clay, claiming tailings from mineral sands mines contain large amounts of concentrated heavy metals and radioactive elements. 

Concerns are also held about the possibility of high levels of radioactive elements thorium and uranium.

The intervention of the mining warden with some affected landowners to effect mediation with Kalbar has also been viewed by the group as intimidatory.

Mine-Free Glenaladale has called on Kalbar to hold a “whole of community” meeting so people can hear the same information at the same time and get the opportunity to ask questions.

April 4, 2018 Posted by | environment, Victoria | Leave a comment

Australia needs an independent National Environment Protection Agency

Why Australians Need A National Environment Protection Agency to Safeguard Their Health   The rationale for reform is clear, writes David Shearman, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at University of Adelaide, in this article which first appeared in The Conversation. PrBono Australia, , 28th March 2018   David Shearman   

Australia needs an independent national agency charged with safeguarding the environment and delivering effective climate policy, according to a new campaign launched by a coalition of environmental, legal and medical NGOs.

Most Western democracies have established national regulatory action, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency – yet Australia is a notable exception.

On Tuesday in Canberra, the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) will hold a symposium on the reform of environmental laws in Australia. If enacted, these proposals would offer protection to Australia’s declining biodiversity and environment, as well as helping to safeguard Australians’ health.

The proposal would involve establishing a high-level Commonwealth Environment Commission (CEC) that would be responsible for Commonwealth strategic environmental instruments, in much the same way that the Reserve Bank is in charge of economic levers such as interest rates.

The new CEC would manage a nationally coordinated system of environmental data collection, monitoring, auditing and reporting, the conduct of environmental inquiries of a strategic nature, and the provision of strategic advice to the Commonwealth government on environmental matters, either upon request or at its own initiative. The necessary outcomes would then be delivered by government and ministers via a newly created National Environmental Protection Authority (NEPA).

On Wednesday, this call will be echoed by a major alliance of leading environmental groups, including Doctors for the Environment Australia. Similar to the CEC/NEPA proposal, this group has called for an independent National Sustainability Commission that would develop conservation plans, monitor invasive species, and set nationally binding air pollution standards and climate adaptation plans.

The new body would replace the EPBC Act, which has failed to deliver the protections it promised in key areas such as land clearing and species protection, and has no role in limiting climate change which is a major factor in species loss.

The new agencies would be in a position to provide authoritative and understandable consensus reports, similar to those produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change but with a stronger legal basis on which the government should act on its advice.

Why change the system?

The rationale for reform is clear. Only last week the International Energy Agency reported that Earth’s greenhouse emissions have increased yet again. Meanwhile, extreme weather events have increased, while wildlife diversity is on the decline………..https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2018/03/australians-need-national-environment-protection-agency-safeguard-health/

March 31, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Hunters Hill residents still waiting on government to clean up uranium contaminated land

Hunters Hill residents wary of latest announcement on uranium contamination, ABC News, 20 Feb 18, By Jade Macmillan

Residents on Sydney’s lower north shore have dismissed the Government’s latest plans to clean up land contaminated by a uranium smelter more than hundred years ago as “a hollow promise”.

Property Minister Victor Dominello announced $30 million to remediate the waterfront land on Nelson Parade in Hunters Hill, the former site of the Radium Hill refinery, which closed in 1915.

The area was also occupied by a carbolic acid plant until the early 1900s and a tin smelter until the 1960s.

Residents have spent decades urging the Government to remove the affected soil, which the NSW Environment Protection Authority found it was contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons, coal tar pitch, arsenic and lead.

“Having this funding should give the community confidence that we are determined to remediate the site,” Mr Dominello said, ahead of a public meeting of more than 200 residents on Tuesday night.

“The Government is currently considering suitable disposal locations for the waste, and is in discussions with the Federal Government on the possibility of using the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility earmarked for development in South Australia.”

The minister did not provide a timeframe for the works and a site for the radioactive facility has not yet been selected.

Rosemary Manusu, 80, who has lived on Nelson Parade for more than 50 years, said she had little faith in the announcement after years of inaction from successive governments.

“It’s been promised and promised about three or four times. So until they actually start moving it, I don’t believe a word they say,” she said……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-21/hunters-hill-uranium-contamination-residents-wary/9468272

February 21, 2018 Posted by | environment, New South Wales, uranium | Leave a comment

Labor Party branches want a new and more effective environment act and independent watchdog

Labor branches push for new environment act and independent watchdog. ALP’s internal advocacy group wants sweeping reforms to protect natural heritage to be adopted as policy at next conference, Guardian,  Adam Morton, 31 Jan 18

Bill Shorten is facing rising internal pressure to make the environment central to Labor’s election pitch after 250 ALP branches passed a motion calling for strong new national laws and an independent agency akin to a “Reserve Bank for environmental management”.

Branches from every state and territory have backed a campaign by the Labor environment action network (Lean), an internal advocacy group, for sweeping reforms to protect natural heritage to be adopted as policy at this year’s ALP conference.

It would be backed by a “science-fuelled and politically empowered” agency with the authority of the Reserve Bank and watchdog powers to police the law.

Felicity Wade, Lean’s national convener, said protecting the environment was a legacy issue for Labor. This dates back to Gough Whitlam’s introduction of Australia’s first federal environment laws and Bob Hawke’s protection of iconic sites and early work factoring sustainability into government decisions.

 “It’s time for Bill Shorten to recognise the environment has been central to modern Labor’s success and to work with us to make this happen,” she said.

She said the need to act was clear. “Australia’s identity is incredibly tied to this amazing landscape, yet things are crashing at an alarming rate,” she said. “We are one of the top 10 land-clearers in the world and we have one of the highest extinction rates in the world, yet we are one of the richest countries in the world.”

The Lean campaign was devised at a meeting of members in Canberra in August. It has precedent: in 2015, the group won the backing of 370 branches for a successful motion calling on the party to adopt a 50% renewable energy goaland an emissions reduction target for 2030 based on the advice of the federal Climate Change Authority.

………She said the need to act was clear. “Australia’s identity is incredibly tied to this amazing landscape, yet things are crashing at an alarming rate,” she said. “We are one of the top 10 land-clearers in the world and we have one of the highest extinction rates in the world, yet we are one of the richest countries in the world.”

The Lean campaign was devised at a meeting of members in Canberra in August. It has precedent: in 2015, the group won the backing of 370 branches for a successful motion calling on the party to adopt a 50% renewable energy goaland an emissions reduction target for 2030 based on the advice of the federal Climate Change Authority.

Wilderness Society’s national campaigns director, Lyndon Schneiders, said it would be a positive campaign. “We know 2018-19 is the once-in-a-generation chance to set up serious national environment laws,” he said. ……https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/31/labor-branches-push-for-new-environment-act-and-independent-watchdog

 

February 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Govt funding for environment languishes, as mining companies receive double the benefit in tax credits

Miners receive twice as much in tax credits as Australia spends on environment
Analysis shows federal and state environment spending cut while industry awarded $2.5bn in fuel tax credits, Guardian,  Adam Morton, 2 Feb 18, 

Mining companies will receive more than twice as much in fuel tax credits as the Turnbull government will spend on environment and biodiversity programs this financial year, an analysis has found.

Coalmining companies alone are expected to get more back than the diminishing funding allocated to the federal environment department.

The analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) found that, across commonwealth, state and territory governments, investment in environment and biodiversity programs was cut by 9% – from $6.95bn to $6.32bn – in the three years to 2016-17. Total budget spending rose by 10% in the same period, from $634.9bn to $701.5bn.

It adds to a weight of evidence that environment campaigners and political veterans say shows government support for environment protection is at its lowest ebb since before the landmark decisions to protect Kakadu, the Daintree rainforest and the Franklin river in the 1980s.

…….. The commonwealth’s state of the environment report last year found parts of Australia’s natural estate were in poor or deteriorating condition and there was insufficient public support for environmental management and restoration programs.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/02/miners-receive-twice-as-much-in-tax-credits-as-australia-spends-on-environment

February 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

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/

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