Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

It’s not clear what will be done about Lynas’ radioactive wastes in Malaysia, as Lynas plans rare earths processing also in Texas

Lynas’ US plans no threat to Wesfarmers interest, Malaysian problems,   https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/lynas-us-plans-no-threat-to-wesfarmers-interest-malaysian-problems-20190507-p51kx2.html.  By Colin Kruger – May 20, 2019 Lynas Corp’s plans to establish processing operations in the US are not expected to pose a threat to Wesfarmers’ interest in the rare earths group, but it won’t offer a Plan B for its Malaysian problems either.Lynas told the ASX on Monday it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with one of its US customers, Blue Line Corp, for a joint venture to separate medium and heavy rare earths elements in Texas. Lynas said it would be the majority owner of the venture…….

The company declined to comment further but Ms Lacaze will front investors on Tuesday and is expected to clarify plans to invest in processing infrastructure in Western Australia where it mines the rare earths at Mt Weld.

This will offset the sovereign risk of its billion-dollar Malaysian operations, which could be forced to close in September if Lynas does not remove more than 450,000 tonnes of low level radioactive waste.

The company had been in talks with Wesfarmers about a processing joint venture in WA last year which led to a controversial $1.5 billion bid by the conglomerate in March. Continue reading

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May 23, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths | Leave a comment

Why is UK govt covering up the records on nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s?

May 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, secrets and lies, wastes, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Pacific leaders have voiced frustration over Australia’s failure to curb its emissions

May 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Leaders of New Zealand, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Fiji welcome UN chief Antonio Guterres for climate talks (What about Australia?)

May 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian rare earths company Lynas is determined to keep its radioactive trash in Malaysia

Lynas backs Malaysian waste solution despite removal order, Fin Rev Brad Thompson 6 May 19, Lynas Corporation is pushing ahead with plans to build a permanent disposal facility for low-level radioactive waste in Malaysia despite a contested ultimatum to export about 450,000 tonnes of residue already stockpiled by September.

The Wesfarmers takeover target said on Monday it was confident of meeting conditions outlined by Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to ….. (subscribers only) ..https://www.afr.com/business/mining/rare-earths/lynas-backs-malaysian-waste-solution-despite-removal-order-20190506-p51kh2

May 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths, wastes | Leave a comment

British exhibition on nuclear testing glosses over the impact on Aboriginal people

Cold War exhibition tries to airbrush Britain’s dark history of nuclear testing, The Conversation, Sue Rabbitt Roff, Researcher, Social History/Tutor in Medical Education, University of Dundee, May 2, 2019  A new exhibition about the Cold War recently opened at the UK National Archives at Kew in south-west London. Protect and Survive: Britain’s Cold War Revealed seeks to tell the story of how the years of high nuclear tensions affected the UK, from spy paranoia to civil defence posters to communications at the heart of government. …..

an extremely important facet of Britain’s Cold War has been almost entirely airbrushed from the story. There is barely anything in the exhibition about the 45 atomic and nuclear weapons detonations carried out by the British: 12 in Australia from 1952-57, nine in the central Pacific in 1957-58, and a further 24 alongside the Americans in the Nevada desert until as recently as 1991. The effects on the health of all this testing on indigenous people and some 22,000 British servicemen who were sent as observers is still being researched.
The Cold War exhibition includes three photos showing the atmospheric effect of the 1952 detonation off the Montebello Islands off north-western Australia. There is one additional picture of the hydrogen bomb that was exploded near Christmas Island in May 1957, the first of the central Pacific series, which persuaded the US to resume nuclear collaboration with the UK. And that’s about it. Worse, the exhibition includes a map of the global impact of the nuclear era in which the test locations in Australia are obscured by lettering – not least Maralinga, an important Aboriginal area in which seven detonations took place.

Files under review

My understanding is that decisions about the content of the exhibition were finalised late last year. Interestingly, this was around the same time as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the public body with ultimate responsibility for the UK’s nuclear legacy withdrew recordsfrom the National Archives relating to 1950s nuclear weapons tests that had been declassified decades ago, pending a “security review” by the Ministry of Defence and Atomic Weapons Establishment. Specialists in this field have long complained about the many files concerning British testing that have remained secret, which makes the withdrawal of declassified files all the more unsettling………

Remembrance, The omissions at the London Cold War exhibition are a reminder about the UK’s low-key approach to its weapons testing history. The story doesn’t only need to be properly told at this exhibition, it needs a permanent public space. Yet no existing museum dedicated to Britain’s wars is interested in giving it house room – not even the records and memorabilia of all the military personnel sent to observe the tests. A number of years ago I was quietly told while walking down a corridor in one major institution not to offer it my own records because “they will end up in the skip”.

My years working in this field indicate to me that successive governments seem to want the story of British nuclear testing to die off naturally. But surely, at the very least, the point of the National Archives is to preserve the records to ensure that it is never allowed to be forgotten. https://theconversation.com/cold-war-exhibition-tries-to-airbrush-britains-dark-history-of-nuclear-testing-116237

May 2, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Journalist Glenn Greenwald defends Assange

Journalist Glenn Greenwald defends Assange: The Hill,  Julia Manchester 24 Apr 19   ‘Things that journalists do every single day’ Journalist Glenn Greenwald on Monday defended WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after he was charged by the Justice Department earlier this month for allegedly conspiring to hack a government computer in connection with the organization’s release of sensitive government files in 2010.

“So much of what’s in the indictment, encouraging a source to get more documents, helping a source cover her tracks in order not to be detected, are things that journalists do every single day,” Greenwald, co-founding editor at The Intercept, told hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton in an appearance on Hill.TV.

“You can say journalists don’t typically help a source hack into a password in order to get you know, a better way of hiding her identity, but helping a source avoid detection is definitely something journalists are not just entitled to do, but obligated to do,” he continued. ……https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/439992-greenwald-defends-assange-these-are-things-that-journalists-do-every-single-day

April 25, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Lynas rare earths corporation still struggling with its tricky problem of radioactive wastes

Record result but still no breathing space for Lynas,  The Age, Colin Kruger, April 20, 2019 

It should have been a great week for Lynas Corp…..  Despite soft prices in the rare earths market – and a forced shutdown of its operations in Decemberdue to a local Malaysian government cap on its production limits – Lynas reported a 27 per cent jump in revenue to $101.3 million in the March quarter……

Unfortunately, Lacaze could provide no information on the glaring issue outside the company’s control that imperils its future: the regulatory cloud around the 450,000 tonnes of radioactive waste produced by its Malaysian operations since 2013, which is jeopardising the renewal of its licence to operate in the country. …..

the company was still “seeking clarification” on comments earlier this month by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, which appeared to solve the problem of the licence pre-condition that Lynas says it cannot meet – removal of the radioactive waste by September 2.

Mahathir said Lynas – or any potential acquirer (without explicitly naming Lynas’ estranged suitor, Wesfarmers, whose $1.5 billion indicative offer for the group was rebuffed in March) – would be able to continue to operate in Malaysia if it agreed to extract the radioactive residue from its ore before it reached the country.

Despite two cabinet meetings since that announcement, Mahathir has failed to clarify his comments, or confirm whether it means Lynas might not need to move the existing mountain of radioactive waste that has been accumulating at its $1 billion, 100-hectare processing facility in Kuantan province.

Continue reading

April 22, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics international, rare earths, wastes | Leave a comment

Countering the smears against Julian Assange

Julian Assange: Within Washington’s grasp? | The Listening Post (Full)

Debunking All The Assange Smears, by Caitlin Johnstone  , Robert Gore, STRAIGHT LINE LOGIC,21Apr19

This is the definitive and comprehensive source for anyone who wants to defend Julian Assange in an argument and win. From Caitlin Johnstone at theburningplatform.com:

Have you ever noticed how whenever someone inconveniences the dominant western power structure, the entire political/media class rapidly becomes very, very interested in letting us know how evil and disgusting that person is? It’s true of the leader of every nation which refuses to allow itself to be absorbed into the blob of the US-centralized power alliance, it’s true of anti-establishment political candidates, and it’s true of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Corrupt and unaccountable power uses its political and media influence to smear Assange because, as far as the interests of corrupt and unaccountable power are concerned, killing his reputation is as good as killing him. If everyone can be paced into viewing him with hatred and revulsion, they’ll be far less likely to take WikiLeaks publications seriously, and they’ll be far more likely to consent to Assange’s imprisonment, thereby establishing a precedent for the future prosecution of leak-publishing journalists around the world. Someone can be speaking 100 percent truth to you, but if you’re suspicious of him you won’t believe anything he’s saying. If they can manufacture that suspicion with total or near-total credence, then as far as our rulers are concerned it’s as good as putting a bullet in his head.

Those of us who value truth and light need to fight this smear campaign in order to keep our fellow man from signing off on a major leap in the direction of Orwellian dystopia, and a big part of that means being able to argue against those smears and disinformation wherever they appear. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any kind of centralized source of information which comprehensively debunks all the smears in a thorough and engaging way, so with the help of hundreds of tips from my readers and social media followers I’m going to attempt to make one here. What follows is my attempt at creating a tool kit people can use to fight against Assange smears wherever they encounter them, by refuting the disinformation with truth and solid argumentation.

This article is an ongoing project which will be updated regularly where it appears on Medium and caitlinjohnstone.com as new information comes in and new smears spring up in need of refutation.

Here’s a numbered list of each subject I’ll be covering in this article for ease of reference:

0. How to argue against Assange smears. Continue reading

April 22, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, politics international | Leave a comment

Malaysian government insists that Lynas must remove its 450,000 tonnes of radioactive waste from the country

April 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths, wastes | Leave a comment

Kevin Rudd, as Foreign Minister in 2011, aware of Lynas’ probable radioactive wastes problem

Malaysian concerns over Lynas raised with Kevin Rudd in 2011,  https://www.theage.com.au/business/companies/malaysian-concerns-over-lynas-raised-with-kevin-rudd-in-2011-20190415-p51ebx.html, By Colin Kruger, April 16, 2019, Former prime minister Kevin Rudd warned in 2011 that Australian companies needed to operate to high environmental and safety standards in their overseas operations after being alerted to Malaysian concerns about the radioactive waste produced by rare earths group Lynas Corp.

This was around the same time that ASX-listed Lynas was being warned, in a confidential report it commissioned, that it had failed to engage with the Malaysian community, which could jeopardise its operations in the country.

A letter obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age details a response from Mr Rudd, who was foreign minister at the time, to Senator Doug Cameron, who had met with a delegation of Malaysian citizens expressing their concerns about Lynas’ $1 billion operating plant in Kuantan.

“The Australian government expects Australian companies to operate to high environmental and safety standards in their overseas operations, as they would in Australia,” said the letter from Mr Rudd dated July 20, 2011.

“While ultimately Malaysian law governs the management of residues from the plant, the Australian government has welcomed the Malaysian government’s decision to establish the independent expert panel as an open and transparent response to community concerns.”

Mr Rudd noted that the Lynas plant, once completed, would be the “largest single investment in Malaysia and as such, the government is taking a close interest in the project”.

The plant’s importance went beyond Australia’s relationship with Malaysia.

At the time, there was significant global concern about the fact that China dominated the supply of rare earths – a group of 17 elements crucial to the manufacture of hi-tech products like digital cars, smart phones and wind turbines. Despite the name, the elements are not actually that rare, but they are environmentally hazardous to extract.

In 2010, the then Japanese foreign minister, Seiji Maehara, raised the issue with Mr Rudd during trade talks in Canberra.

Mr Rudd said at the time that Australia “understands the significance of rare earths globally” and “Australia stands ready to be a long-term, secure, reliable supplier of rare earths to the Japanese economy”.

It was shortly after that trade visit that a deal was unveiled under which $US250 million in Japanese government agency financing was made available for an accelerated expansion of Lynas’s Mount Weld rare earths mine in Western Australia, and its associated processing facilities in Malaysia.

Mr Rudd is understood to have played a key role. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Senator Cameron were approached for comment.

Lynas, which is being pursued by former Coles owner Wesfarmers with a potential $1.5 billion indicative offer, faces closure of its Malaysian operations by September if it cannot comply with new conditions introduced in December due to the environmental concerns. These currently include the removal of more than 450,000 tonnes of residues containing low-level radiation.

Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott met with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last month to discuss the regulatory issues faced by Lynas.

The following day, Dr Mahathir announced that a company interested in acquiring Lynas had promised to extract the radioactive waste before exporting the ore to Malaysia.

Wesfarmers has denied any impropriety in its meetings with the Malaysian government.

This month, Australian regulators confirmed they had requested detailed information from Lynas and Wesfarmers about communication between the companies before the public announcement of the takeover bid on March 26.

Earlier last month, four Lynas directors had acquired shares during a designated trading window.

A Lynas spokesman said the company had “no reason to believe that Wesfarmers had an ongoing interest in the company at the time the shares were purchased. The purchases were made in a designated trading window”.

Lynas said it “categorically rejects any assertions of impropriety”.

Lynas chief executive Amanda Lacaze will update the market on the company’s operational performance for the March quarter on Tuesday.

The company’s results for the December quarter were affected by a temporary shutdown of its operations after Lynas failed to receive approval to lift the approved limit for processing lanthanide concentrate.

Lynas shares closed 6¢ lower at $2 on Monday.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths, wastes | Leave a comment

Whatever you think of Julian Assange, his extradition to the US must be opposed

April 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, politics international | Leave a comment

Police drag Julian Assange from Embassy. Scott Morrison says “no special help”, Bill Shorten pleads ignorance of the matter

https://www.rt.com/news/456212-julian-assange-embassy-eviction/ 12 Apr, 2019

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has spent the last seven years. That’s after Ecuador’s president Moreno withdrew asylum.

That’s only a day after WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson claimed that an extensive spying operation was conducted against Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy. During an explosive media conference Hrafnsson alleged that the operation was designed to get Assange extradited.

Assange’s relationship with Ecuadorian officials appeared increasingly strained since the current president came to power in the Latin American country in 2017. His internet connection was cut off in March of last year, with officials saying the move was to stop Assange from “interfering in the affairs of other sovereign states.”

The whistleblower garnered massive international attention in 2010 when WikiLeaks released classified US military footage, entitled ‘Collateral Murder’, of a US Apache helicopter gunship opening fire on a number of people, killing 12 including two Reuters staff, and injuring two children. 

The footage, as well as US war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 200,000 diplomatic cables, were leaked to the site by US Army soldier Chelsea Manning. She was tried by a US tribunal and sentenced to 35 years in jail for disclosing the materials.

Manning was pardoned by outgoing President Barack Obama in 2017 after spending seven years in US custody. She is currently being held again in a US jail for refusing to testify before a secret grand jury in a case apparently related to WikiLeaks.

Julian Assange ‘won’t get any special treatment’: Scott Morrison, SMH , By Michael Koziol and Latika Bourke
April 12, 2019  Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed Australia is providing consular assistance to Julian Assange following his arrest in London but the Wikileaks founder will receive “no special treatment”, even in the wake of a US extradition request.

An Australian citizen, Assange had been living in the Ecuadorian embassy for more than six years until that country ended his political asylum on Thursday for “discourteous and aggressive behaviour” and WikiLeaks’ “hostile and threatening declarations” against Ecuador.

He was charged with skipping bail by entering the embassy in 2012. Appearing in Westminster Magistrates’ Court four hours later, he pleaded not guilty, claiming he had a reasonable excuse for seeking asylum as his arrest would end in his extradition to the US.

That extradition request, on charges related to the publication of vast quantities of classified information by Wikileaks, is forthcoming but will be fought by Assange’s lawyers…..

Scott Morrison – “He won’t be getting any special treatment from Australia, he’ll be getting the same treatment that any other Australian would get.”

Asked whether Australia would fight a move to extradite Assange to the US, Mr Morrison said the Wikileaks founder was at the mercy of the British justice system. ……
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, also commencing the election campaign in Sydney, said Assange was entitled to his day in court but had no view on his extradition to the US.
“I think he should receive consular assistance, beyond that I don’t know all the facts of the matter,” Mr Shorten said. “He should deserve the ability to be represented in court which he will be.” …….https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/julian-assange-won-t-get-any-special-treatment-scott-morrison-20190412-p51dfg.html

April 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

The Court Of Public Opinion And The Blood-Curdling Untold Story – on Julian Assange

This prospect prompted the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and 33 EU parliamentarians to issue strongly worded statements to both the UK and Ecuadorian governments in December last year, warning against facilitating the prosecution of a journalist, editor and publisher for “publishing the truth”. The statements demanded Assange’s “immediate release, together with his safe passage to a safe country”, and reminded the UK of its “binding” legal obligations to secure freedom for Assange.

A critical task for propagandists such as those waging a psychological war on Wilkileaks, then, is to feed audiences material that supports official narratives and exclude that which does not. Since its inception, the smear campaign against Julian Assange and Wikileaks has been remarkably concerted and consistent in that regard.

With the new year, however, news broke that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had offered Ecuador a $10 billion bailout in return for handing Julian Assange over to the United States. This bounty came on top of earlier US pressures and inducements, reportedly including increased oil exportsmilitary co-operation and another $1.1 billion in IMF loans, with the US representative of the IMF instructing Ecuador that it must “resolve” its relationship with Julian Assange in order to receive the IMF money.

Australian Barrister Greg Barns has called it the blackmailing of a nation. News website 21st Century Wirecalled it “one of the biggest international bribery (or extortion) cases in history.”

While there is “not a single shred of evidence that any of [Wikileaks’] disclosures caused anyone harm”, writes journalist and author Nozomi Hayase, what Wikileaks did do in 2010 was expose thousands of previously unreported civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. These deaths included the nonchalant gunning down of children, journalists and their rescuers, and other “indiscriminate violence… torture, lies [and]bribery”, writes Chris Hedges. According to Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Elsberg, the leaks exposed “a massive cover-up over a number of years by the American authorities”.

Julian in ‘critical danger’, new rules ‘torture’ – Assange mother *AUDIO*

The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange, Part 2: The Court Of Public Opinion And The Blood-Curdling Untold Story, New Matilda, By Dr Lissa Johnson February 25, 2019  In her ongoing special investigation into the detention of Julian Assange, Dr Lissa Johnson turns to the art of smear, and how to corrupt a judicial system.

On Friday 14th February, the Editor in Chief of news website Consortium News, Joe Lauria, visited Sydney to host a ‘Politics in the Pub’ event: Whistleblowing, Wikileaks and the Future of Democracy. The event took place in anticipation of upcoming rallies to free Assange…….

. It is imperative that we pressure the Australian government to make sure its citizen, Julian Assange, is protected from the lawlessness of the American Empire.” Continue reading

April 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics international, reference | Leave a comment

Malaysian environmentalists and consumer groups dispute Lynas’ claims about radioactive wastes

Lynas is being unscientific, not SAM or CAP  https://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/471173  SM Mohamed Idris   6 Apr 2019 Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) refer to the letter by Lynas Malaysia reported in Malaysiakini on 5 April 2019, which says that our recent statements about the plant’s wastes are “false and ignore scientific fact.”

The controversy is over the definition of wastes from the Lynas’ water leach purification (WLP) process, which contains thorium and uranium.

Lynas claims that the wastes are naturally-occurring radioactive material (called NORM), while we claim that the wastes are not naturally-occurring, but have been technologically-enhanced and should be called technologically-enhanced naturally-occurring radioactive material known as TENORM.

Citing “two eminent scientists”, Lynas states as fact that “the small amount of thorium and uranium in the WLP generated are not man-made but naturally occurring radionuclides found in soil, water and in food.”

Lynas is clearly distorting the facts.

First of all, the thorium and uranium containing wastes generated by Lynas are not found to naturally occur in the Gebeng area, where the plant is located. On the contrary, the raw material which is processed by the Lynas plant is lanthanide concentrate that contains the thorium, uranium and the rare-earth.

This raw material is processed and imported from the Mount Weld mine in Australia and is brought to Malaysia. It is then subject to further processing in Gebeng by Lynas.

Therefore, how can it be said that say that the thorium and uranium are naturally occurring in the soil, water and in food when they were not there before in the Gebeng area, if not for the Lynas operations?

Moreover, what is even more significant is that we are talking about the generation of an accumulated amount of more than 450,000 metric tonnes of radioactive wastes from the Lynas operations thus far. To call this naturally-occurring radioactive material is indeed unscientific.

Secondly, the wastes that Lynas has generated from the WLP process clearly falls within the definition of TENORM, as defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as: “Naturally occurring radioactive materials that have been concentrated or exposed to the accessible environment as a result of human activities such as manufacturing, mineral extraction, or water processing.”

The USEPA also states that “technologically enhanced” means that the radiological, physical, and chemical properties of the radioactive material have been concentrated or further altered by having been processed, or beneficiated, or disturbed in a way that increases the potential for human and/or environmental exposures.”

Indeed, Lynas seems to have forgotten that its own Radiological Impact Assessment of 2010 refers to the residues from its operations as TENORM.

Moreover, in a study co-authored by, Dr. Sukiman Sarmani (the “eminent scientist” that Lynas refers to in its letter) and three others (published in 2014 on the Lynas plant residue), shows that the WLP residue has a high radioactivity of Thorium 232 compared to the natural background levels of Malaysian soils and therefore comes under the purview of the regulatory authorities.

These facts fortify our position.

Lynas in its letter also refers to us as “unqualified people.”

For the record, SAM and CAP have very deep and detailed knowledge of how rare-earth plants can impact public health and the environment, having had years of considerable experience from being involved in the Asian Rare Earth (ARE) case in Bukit Merah, Ipoh.

We assisted the people of Bukit Merah over many years countering the claims of ARE, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board, the International Atomic Energy Agency and others.

This we did by being engaged and involved with many scientists and public health experts both from Malaysia and abroad, who helped the community battle in the courts, that finally led to its closure. We have over the years documented the serious health impacts suffered by the Bukit Merah community, that continue till today, due to the impacts of low-level radiation.

Surely our rich experience and knowledge cannot simply be dismissed by the likes of Lynas. SM MOHAMED IDRIS is president of both environmental movement Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and NGO Consumers Association of Penang (CAP).

April 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths, wastes | Leave a comment