Australian news, and some related international items

“Significant radiation dose” received by Lucas Heights worker in nuclear accident

Radioactive liquid spills on worker at Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney, Peter Jean, Political Reporter, The Advertiser, December 14, 2017 A WORKER received a “significant radiation dose” when a vial of radioactive liquid spilt onto their hands in the most serious recorded safety incident to ever occur at Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.

The Advertiser can reveal the accident occurred on August 22 when a vial of the nuclear medicine product Molybdenum-99 was dropped when its cap was being removed during a quality-control test. The incident was rated “severe” by regulators and has led to changes in safety procedures.

Molybdenum-99 is produced by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation at Lucas Heights, below, for use in cancer and heart disease scans.

ANSTO Health general manager Mark Moore said the analyst has a slightly elevated risk of developing skin cancer after the liquid spilt on their hands.

“The analyst was working in a shielded fume cupboard that, in normal operation, limits a dose received, but the dropping of the vial resulted in the radiation dose,’’ Mr Moore said.

“Our employee remains at work and is currently performing alternative quality assessment work in the nuclear medicine field.”

Mr Moore said the staff member had burn-like symptoms, including blistering and reddening of the skin.

“While ANSTO is still waiting to be advised on the final estimate dose by an independent clinical specialist, we know it was above the annual statutory dose limit of 500 millisieverts, and expect to be issued with a formal breach from the regulator,” Mr Moore said.

“At this stage, the dose is estimated to be more than 20 Sieverts, which is 40 times above the extremity dose limit.”

The incident was reported to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

An ARPANSA investigation criticised some safety practices in Lucas Heights’ radiopharmaceutical production facilities.


December 15, 2017 Posted by | - incidents, New South Wales, reference | Leave a comment

Safety concerns about Port Pirie’s former uranium plant site raised by Liberal candidate

Liberal candidate raises safety concerns about Pirie’s former uranium plant site, Port Pirie Recorder, 25 Aug 17,  Frome Liberal candidate Kendall Jackson is calling on the state government to restore the fence at the former Port Pirie Uranium and Rare Earth Treatment Plant and Tailings site.

She said the State Development Department was responsible for managing the area and was yet to release the Radiation and Environment Management Plan for the site.

This was expected to be released in the first half of this year.

“The government must publicly release its plans for the former uranium plant site,” Mrs Jackson said.

“Residents deserve to know what the government has planned for the site and why the report is taking so long to be publicly released…..

August 26, 2017 Posted by | safety, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Militarisation of Australia’s police?

If Turnbull’s plan becomes law – and the prospects of the Opposition stopping anything to do with ‘fighting terrorism’ are remote – we can expect a terrorist attack to trigger an emergency response from the Special Operations Command, whose officers will have to be trained to shoot to kill other Australians.  

As Australia becomes increasingly militarised, it is possible that the Tactical Assault Group could be called out for an anti-war demonstration, anti-mining protest, or industrial strike, and may be told that the people it confronts are enemies of the state and therefore terrorists. It makes me think of those signs you see on American suburban lawns: ‘Beware, Armed Response.’

ALISON BROINOWSKI. Beware, armed response. 19 July 2017  


Now that we have concrete bollards in Martin Place and Swanston Street and on Capital Hill, as well as fences to stop citizens strolling or rolling over the Parliament House grass, you’d think that in exchange for the aesthetic damage inflicted on us we must be safe. After all, Australia has had only five fatal terrorist attacks since the mysterious Hilton Hotel bombing in 1978. The risks we face from lightning strikes, sharks and crocodiles, or indeed bee-stings and falling furniture, are incomparably greater.

But terrorism is serious political business and once the threat of an attack is officially listed as ‘probable’, no government is brave enough to reduce it. Politicians have to be seen to be responding robustly to the danger. Continue reading

July 21, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, safety | Leave a comment

Desert Fireball Network (DFN), captures video of fireball across South Australia

Video emerges of fireball streaking across South Australia sky   Jul 5, 2017 New video has emerged of the moment a fireball streaked across the sky in South Australia last week.

The fireball, which was captured on CCTV by a business in Port Lincoln, was seen by hundreds of residents around midnight last Friday.

The Desert Fireball Network (DFN), which said in a statement it was tracking the fireball, said it was one of the brightest it had witnessed.

 “It originated from within the solar system, having an orbit around the sun and that it went out almost as far as Mars,” DFN’s spokewoman Eleanor Sansom said.

The DFN said its Mount Ives observatory, which is located south of Lake Gairdner, captured an image of the fireball four minutes before midnight.

Hundreds of people took to social media after witnessing the bright light.

“What I can only guess was a meteor passed over Henley Beach,” one wrote on Reddit. “Saw it from the city, fast moving bright light, green trail, bright flash.”

Earlier this year, stargazers in Queensland were treated to the spectacular sight of a meteor blazing across the night sky from Bundaberg to the Gold Coast.

Experts said that meteor could have been travelling as fast as 10km per second.


July 7, 2017 Posted by | - incidents, South Australia | Leave a comment

The nuclear lobby’s spurious argument about the dangers of solar power

abbott-derekDerek Abbott No High Level International Nuclear Waste Dump in South Australia  Thought for the day: Nuke lobbyists love to state that more people die falling off roofs whist tinkering with their solar panels that people have died from nuclear power stations.

If we take the USA, for example, there are about 1 million (in 2016) domestic rooftops with panels. And yes, unqualified people do silly things on roofs when they shouldn’t be there.

By contrast there are about 60 commercial nuke power plants in the USA run under a strict set of guidelines. The waste from those plants is kept indefinitely above ground in dry casks that corrode and have a lifetime of ~50yrs. So when it comes time to start handling those dry casks and repackaging that fuel, on ever increasingly tight budgets, there is going to be a major safety problem.

The alpha particles emitted from the spent fuel in the casks create helium bubbles inside the fuel pellets. The fuel pellets crack. So repackaging the fuel is not simple, given one is dealing with fragments, dust, and particulate matter. This will lead to enormous escalating costs that have not been budgeted by governments. Repackaging runs into many tens of billions of dollars.

The dangers of falling off roofs are immediate, whereas the dangers of spent fuel management have been deferred into the future with dry cask storage that has not yet been taken to the next step. So the qualification of the danger of nuclear has not yet seen full practice.

Question to nuke advocates: given the choice would you ride a horse or a stroke a venomous spider? The statistics are zero deaths per year due to spiders, but 70-80 horse per year by horses. The facts are the raw statistics are not the whole story. Would you prefer to live in a world proliferated with horses, or would you prefer a proliferation of venomous spiders?

January 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, safety | Leave a comment

Royal Commission silent on dangers of nuclear transport and security required

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINAirplane dangerPeter Mahoney, Your Say site 17 Oct 2016  The Royal Commission report appears to be silent on the details of how these radioactive materials would be transported to South Australia, and what sort of defence force support would be required to ensure that they are not the subject of terrorist attack. Who would be responsible for ensuring that they are correctly and securely sealed in their containers in the country of origin, say India or Pakistan? How would an SA facility ensure that proper standards are being followed at every step. The consequences of undetected, small or slow leaks would be enormous if they occur all the way from the country of origin, across the oceans and then across the land to SA.

October 19, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, safety | Leave a comment

Pine Gap endangers Australia – a likely target for nuclear missiles

Map-Aust-Target1Pine Gap: Secretive spy base’s role in drone strikes putting Australia in danger, expert warns  The World Today  By Brendan Trembath  An expert on Pine Gap has raised concerns about the spy base’s role in supporting drone attacks on suspected terrorists overseas.

Officially called The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, the site is jointly run by the Australian and United States governments and is one of Australia’s most secret sites. The facility has been in operation since 1970 and is located half-an-hour’s drive south-west of Alice Springs.

Professor Richard Tanter, from the University of Melbourne, says Pine Gap contributes targeting data to American drone operations, including assassinations. “One of Pine Gap’s two key functions is as a control station and a downlink station for signal intelligence satellites 36,000 kilometres up in space,” he said. “They are picking up a very wide array of radio transmissions, including cell phones, satellite phones and so forth. “And that provides the data, both the contents and the geolocation data for targets of interest through the United States military.”

He said Pine Gap was also used for counter-terrorism and wider intelligence programs, as the site was able to contribute data “pretty directly — for example into drone targeting operations.”

Professor Tanter acknowledged that those type of programs were part of the alliance between the US and Australia, and Australia’s interest in the global fight against terrorism

But he said the question was whether it could be considered a good idea on a political level, seeing the potential for creating “further terrorism” if a strike were to go wrong.

“At a legal and moral level do we really want to be involved in operations which are frankly illegal under international law. In countries where we’re not at war, such as Pakistan or Somalia or Yemen, these are simply assassinations.”

“We won’t like it very much when it’s done back to us I suspect.”

Base also a likely target for nuclear missiles Professor Tanter said the site continued to be a “pretty high priority nuclear missile target” in the event of a major conflict between the United States and Russia or China.

“It would be, as they say in the military, a lucrative target of many benefits,” Professor Tanter said . “Secondly it is itself involved in nuclear war planning. I think that’s a totally awful thing for us to contemplate — you can’t use nuclear weapons except in a fairly genocidal way.”The Defence Department said that “the facility makes an important contribution to national security.”

A spokesperson said: “It provides intelligence on priorities such as terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and foreign military capability and weapons developments. “It also supports monitoring of compliance with arms control and disarmament agreements, and provides ballistic missile early warning information.”

September 24, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory, safety, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Safety concerns about Lucas Heights Nuclear Wastes repatriated from France

safety-symbolFight To Stop Nuclear Waste In The Flinders Ranges   Paul Levai  16 AugLucas-wastes 16 

Paul Levai Interesting trip to ANSTO. A few concerns that I will post as some stage soon but the main one is that the intermediate waste that they propose to store here is our spent fuel rod waste from the old Lucas Heights HIFAR reactor that has been sent to France for reprocessing and must be returned to us as intermediate waste.

 BUT the scary part is that rather than design and build a new container system for the ILW ( that would be easily identifiable) they decided to use an existing design container for HLW (high level waste) because its cheaper and easier and they think it will alleviate safety concerns (better and stronger).

BUT the problem is that NO ONE knows what the French could pack into these containers, we can’t open them and check…and the same container is used to store their high level waste from their Nuclear Power reactors… they could send us anything either deliberately or by mistake!

Australia completes first phase of its waste repatriation project ANSTO :The The shipment of repatriated waste left France on 15 October, arrived in Port Kembla on 5 December, and was safely transported to the interim storage facility at Lucas Heights the following day (6 December, 2015).

ANSTO thanks the State and Federal Government agenciesthat were involved in “Operation Cormorant”, particularly the NSW Police and Australian Federal Police who have worked tirelessly on the repatriation.
The repatriated material will be temporarily held at ANSTO’s interim waste facility, which has been approved by all relevant regulatory agencies, until it is moved to the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility……

August 17, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, safety | Leave a comment

Earthquake near Port Pirie

Earthquake Details Issued by © Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) 2016

Date and Time UTC: 13 August 2016 @ 19:49:39

Location NE of Port Pirie, SA. Magnitude ML: 2.0

Coordinates: -32.811, 138.228 Depth: 1 km

Potentially Tsunamigenic No

August 17, 2016 Posted by | safety, South Australia | Leave a comment

Australian SILEX laser uranium enrichment process has weapon sproliferation danger

Laser uranium enrichment technology may create new proliferation risks, Science Daily, June 27, 2016 Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

A new laser-based uranium enrichment technology may provide a hard-to-detect pathway to nuclear weapons production, according to a forthcoming paper in the journalScience & Global Security by Ryan Snyder, a physicist with Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.
One example of this new third-generation laser enrichment technique may be the separation of isotopes by laser excitation (SILEX) process which was originally developed in Australia and licensed in 2012 for commercial-scale deployment in the United States to the Global Laser Enrichment consortium led by General Electric-Hitachi. Research on the relevant laser systems is also currently ongoing in Russia, India and China.

The paper explains the basic physics of the new uranium separation concept, which relies on the selective laser excitation and condensation repression of uranium-235 in a gas. It also estimates the key laser performance requirements and possible operating parameters for a single enrichment unit and how a cascade of such units could be arranged into an enrichment plant able to produce weapon-grade highly enriched uranium.

Using plausible assumptions, the paper shows how a covert laser enrichment plant sized to make one bomb’s worth of weapon-grade material a year could use less space and energy than a similar scale plant based on almost all current centrifuge designs, the most efficient enrichment technology in use today. The results suggest a direct impact on detection methods that use size or energy use as plant footprints……..

June 29, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, safety, technology | Leave a comment

David Noonan’s Nuclear waste security brief, in brief

highly-recommendedNuclear waste security brief by David Noonan, Independent Environment Campaigner, June 16 

Proposed International nuclear waste storage exposes Australia to risks of terrorism”


An International nuclear waste storage agenda exposes Australia to a range of potential profound adverse impacts through nuclear insecurity as a target for terrorism.

Claims by the Nuclear Commission Findings Report (Feb 2016, p.16-20) that SA “offers a safe long term capability” for the storage and disposal of high level nuclear waste are contradicted by the fact that Australia will be exposed to significant and developing threats in terrorism over decades of proposed Nuclear port and above-ground waste storage operations.

The UK Nuclear Free Local Authorities are concerned a determined terrorist group could be able to pierce nuclear waste transport and storage casks in use around the world and states that transport of nuclear materials should be limited as much as practical, with safe on-site storage facilities developed instead.

The Nuclear Commission’s nuclear waste transport and storage plans face fast emerging and unexpected nuclear security threats as lethal technology gets ever more destructive.  Rocket propelled grenades, demolition charges and innovative available technology like the use of small drones by non-state actors are of increasing concern.

Attacks could seriously compromise operations of a nuclear port or an above-ground nuclear waste storage facility and the extent of impacts could conceivably require the site to be abandoned.

June 20, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, safety, wastes | Leave a comment

Security dangers in Nuclear Royal Commission’s plan

highly-recommendedNuclear Waste Brief (June 2016) by David Noonan, Independent Environment Campaigner

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINProposed International nuclear waste storage exposes Australia to risks of terrorism “In the event of a major nuclear accident, adverse impacts on the tourism, agriculture and property sectors could potentially be profound.” Nuclear Royal Commission Finding 155 Feb 2016, Impacts on other Sectors p.28

An International nuclear waste storage agenda exposes Australia to a range of potential profound adverse impacts in major nuclear accidents and in nuclear insecurity as a target for terrorism.

The SA Nuclear Royal Commission Final Report (9 May 2016, 16 Mb) flagged risks in proposed high level nuclear waste transport and storage and concluded that terrorist attack scenarios are conceivable and rocket attack has the greatest potential to cause a release of radiation from impacted waste transport and storage casks (Appendix L – Transport risk analysis p.312).

In an age of terrorism following the devastating September 11th 2001 attacks there is no room for denial on the real security risks society faces in nuclear and radiological terrorism. Continue reading

June 20, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, reference, safety | Leave a comment

Globally unprecedented scale of Nuclear waste shipments target Australia:

ship radiationNuclear Waste Brief by David Noonan, Independent Environment Campaigner.  3 June 16   An un-declared Australia port is targeted to receive a globally unprecedented scale of high level nuclear waste transport and shipping, facing some 100 000 tonnes of SNF waste over a circa 33 year period of proposed peak Nuclear port operations from project Year 11 to Year 45 (Jacobs MCM, Executive Summary, Figure 3 Timeline of spent fuel transfers, p.5).

This is some 25 per cent higher than the global total of 80 000 tonnes of SNF waste shipped around the world in a 45 year period since 1971 according to the World Nuclear Association report “Transport of Radioactive Materials(Sept 2015) and the Jacobs MCM consultancy (p.152).

A total of 30 000 tonnes of high level nuclear wastes were shipped to the UK Sellafield reprocessing facility and a total of 40 000 tonnes was shipped to the French La Hague reprocessing facility, by far the world’s largest nuclear ports, in the 45 year period since 1971 (WNA report).

An undeclared Australian port is targeted to take over three times the total tonnage of high level nuclear waste shipped to Sellafield and two and a half times the total tonnage shipped to La Hague.

Some 400 waste ships of high level nuclear waste, totalling 90 000 tonnes SNF waste and requiring 9 000 transport casks, are to be brought into Australia in a 30 year period of peak port operations.

In a comparable 30 year period, there were some 160 high level nuclear waste shipments from Japan to Europe from 1969 to late 1990’s, totalling 7 040 tonnes SNF waste and involving some 4 000 nuclear waste transport casks (WNA report).

Sweden has shipped over 4 500 tonnes SNF waste around the Swedish coast to their CLAB central interim storage facility by mid-2015 (WNA report). Australia is proposed to do so every 18 months.

Questions on the location of a Nuclear port and on the safety of waste shipments:

The SA State government must publicly explain the basis for the farcical claim made by Jacobs MCM (Introduction p.11) of “an abundance of locations” suitable for deep sea Nuclear port sites in SA.

Is a new deep sea Nuclear port and high level SNF waste storage site to be imposed in the coastal region south of Whyalla? Or as reported in The Australian “World’s nuke waste may pass through NT, SA(12 May 2016): Is the Port of Darwin also in the Nuclear target range?

The Final Report Concludes: “…if a cask was lost at sea and was irrecoverable, there is a potential for some members of the public consuming locally sourced seafood to receive a very small dose of radiation”; and Concludes that terrorist attack scenarios are conceivable and rocket attack has the greatest potential to cause a release of radiation (Appendix L – Transport risk analysis p.312).

A further Jacobs MCM desk top Concludes that radioactivity that escapes from an unrecovered and degrading cask is expected “to be diluted in thousands of cubic kilometres of seawater” (“Safety and risks in the transportation of radioactive material to and from Australia”, April 2016, p.50). see



June 3, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, reference, safety, wastes | Leave a comment

It’s wrong to sell Australian uranium to critically unsafe Ukraine

The Zaporizhia nuclear facility is Europe’s largest and is only 200 kilometres from the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine. Some commentators have described nuclear plants in the region as pre-deployed nuclear targets and there have already been armed incursions during the recent conflict period.


Australia shouldn’t sell its uranium to Ukraine, Dave Sweeney, 31 Mar 16  Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop’s announcement this week to sell Australian uranium to Ukraine is an ill-advised and dangerous retreat from responsibility.

With timing and placement that a satirist could only dream of emulating – April Fool’s Day, the month of the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl meltdown and while attending a nuclear security summit –  Bishop is set to sign a uranium supply agreement this week with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Australia, the country that directly fuelled Fukushima now plans to sell uranium to Ukraine, the country that gave the world Chernobyl – hardly a match made in heaven.

Thirty years ago the Chernobyl nuclear disaster spread fallout over large swathes of eastern and western Europe and five million people still live in contaminated areas in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. 

Serious containment and waste management issues remain at Chernobyl with a massive concrete shield now under construction in an attempt to enclose the stricken reactor complex and reduce the chances of further radioactive releases.

Against this backdrop there are deep concerns over those parts of the Ukrainian nuclear sector that are not yet infamous names, including very real security concerns about nuclear facilities being targeted in the current conflict with Russia. Continue reading

April 1, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, safety, uranium | Leave a comment

Michele Madigan points out the National dangers of transporting nuclear wastes

radiation-truckNuclear waste danger knows no state borders, Eureka Street MicheleTRAIN-NUCLEAR Madigan |  09 February 2016 “……..It would be a mistake for anyone living outside of South Australia to think that the premier’s plan is just a South Australian problem. Transport and containment risks are hugely significant. State boundaries are no guarantees of safety.

Professor John Veevers of Macquarie University notes the ‘tonnes of enormously dangerous radioactive waste in the northern hemisphere, 20,000km from its destined dump in Australia … must remain intact for at least 10,000 years.

‘These magnitudes — of tonnage, lethality, distance of transport and time — entail great inherent risk.’

In 1998 when the federal government identified the central northern area of South Australia to be site for a proposed national radioactive waste dump, it was not only South Australians who were concerned.

In 2003 the mayors of Sutherland, Bathurst, Blue Mountains, Broken Hill, Dubbo, Griffith, Lithgow, Orange, Wagga Wagga, Auburn, Bankstown, Blacktown, Fairfield, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith — communities along potential transport routes — opposed ‘any increase in nuclear waste production until a satisfactory resolution occurs to the waste repository question’.

The NSW parliamentary inquiry into radioactive waste found ‘there is no doubt that the transportation of radioactive waste increases the risk of accident or incident — including some form of terrorist intervention’. Continue reading

February 22, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, opposition to nuclear, safety | Leave a comment