Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

NO PUBLIC DISCUSSION! Australia’s Generation IV Nuclear Energy Accession

Submission to:  Inquiry: The Generation IV Nuclear Energy – Accession. by Noel Wauchope, 24 April 2017

First of all, I find it very strange that this agreement has been signed up to in advance, not by any elected representative of the Australian Parliament, but by Dr Adi Patterson CEO of the Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, apparently pre-empting the results of this Inquiry!

I find it disturbing that this Inquiry is being held without any public information or discussion. Are we to assume that the decision to join this “Charter” is being taken without prior public knowledge?

It is a pretty momentous decision. According to the World Nuclear Association the 2005 Framework agreement “formally commits them (signatories) to participate in the development of one or more Generation IV systems selected by GIF for further R&D.”

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 currently prohibits the development of nuclear power in Australia. Nuclear power cannot be approved under either the EPBC Act or the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998.  These prohibitions are, as I understand it,  supported by all major parties in Australia?

This would be an extraordinary step for Australia to take, especially in the light of the recent South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (NFCRC) pro-nuclear Royal Commission, which, while recommending South Australia for an international nuclear waste dump, nevertheless stated that

The recent conclusion of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), which issued updated projections for fast reactor and innovative systems in January 2014, suggests the most advanced system will start a demonstration phase (which involves completing the detailed design of a prototype system and undertaking its licensing, construction and operation) in about 2021. The demonstration phase is expected to last at least 10 years and each system demonstrated will require funding of several billion US dollars. As a result, the earliest possible date for the commercial operation of fast reactor and other innovative reactor designs is 2031. This timeframe is subject to significant project, technical and funding risk. It extends by six years a similar assessment undertaken by GIF in 2002. This means that such designs could not realistically be ready for commercial deployment in South Australia or elsewhere before the late 2030s, and possibly later.”

This was hardly a ringing endorsement of Generation IV nuclear reactors.

The South Australian Citizens Jury, Community Consultations, numerous economists, and the S.A. Liberal Party all rejected that nuclear waste plan, as not economically viable.  A huge amount of preparation was done by the NFCRC in investigating the phases of the nuclear Fuel Cycle (more accurately Chain) to arrive at their rather negative view of Generation IV nuclear reactors.

That makes it all the more extraordinary that the Australian government would be willing to sign up so quickly to ANSTO’s request that Australia put resources into these untested, and so far, non-existent nuclear technologies.

I hope that the Committee is aware of the present financial troubles of the giant nuclear corporations, such as AREVA, Toshiba, and Westinghouse Electric. Nuclear power is turning out to be a financial liability wherever it is not funded by the tax-payer, (as in China and Russia). (1)

The World Nuclear Association describes the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) as countries for whom nuclear energy is significant now or seen as vital in the future. Australia’s situation in no way fits these criteria.

Nuclear energy is not significant now in Australia, and even the NRCRC nuclear proponents do not see it as vital for Australia’s future. It is almost laughable, that right now, renewable energy systems are taking off in Australia – both as large solar and wind farms, and as a huge increase in small decentralised systems such as home and business solar panel installations.

That’s where Australia should be putting its resources of human energy, talent, and funding.

The claims made by the nuclear lobby, ANSTO and some politicians, notably Christopher Pyne and Julie Bishop, about Generation Iv nuclear reactors, do not stand up to scrutiny:

Non proliferation “-   Furthering Australia’s non-proliferation and nuclear safety objectives.” The well-known claim that a “conventional” nuclear bomb cannot be made from these new types of reactor, might be true, to a certain extent. However, IFRs and other plutonium-based nuclear power concepts fail the WMD proliferation test, i.e. they can too easily be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. The use of thorium as a nuclear fuel doesn’t solve the WMD proliferation problem. Irradiation of thorium (indirectly) produces uranium-233, a fissile material which can be used in nuclear weapons.  These materials can be used to make a “dirty bomb” – irradiating a city or other target.  They would require the same expensive security measures that apply with conventional nuclear reactors.

If the purpose in joining the GIF is to strengthen non-proliferation and safety – why is ANSTO the implementing agent not the Australia Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office?

Solving nuclear waste problem? Claims that these new nuclear reactors will solve the problem of nuclear wastes are turning out to be spurious. For example, Nuclear energy startup Transatomic Power has backed away from bold claims for its advanced reactor technology after an informal review by MIT professors highlighted serious errors in the company’s calculations. (2) Even at the best of times, the “new nuclear” lobby admits that their Gen IV reactors will produce highly toxic radioactive wastes, requiring security for up to 300 years.
The Integral Fast Reactor is called “integral” because it would process used reactor fuel on-site, separating plutonium (a weapons explosive) and other long-lived radioactive isotopes from the used fuel, to be fed back into the reactor. It essentially converts long-lived waste into shorter lived waste. This waste would still remain dangerous for a minimum of 200 years (provided it is not contaminated with high level waste products), so we are still left with a waste problem that spans generations. (3)

Climate change. The claim that new nuclear power will solve climate change is spurious. This ignores life-cycle CO2 emissions

Nuclear energy is not zero carbon.

Emissions from nuclear will increase significantly over the next few decades as high grade ore is depleted, and increasing amounts of fossil fuels are required to access, mine and mill low-grade ore.

To stay below the 2 degrees of global warming that climate scientists widely agree is necessary to avert catastrophic consequences for humans and physical systems, we need to significantly reduce our emissions by 2050, and to do this we need to start this decade. Nuclear is a slow technology:

The “Generation IV” demonstration plants projected for 2030-2040 will be too late, and there is no guarantee the pilots will be successful.

Nuclear Economics. For “a time when significant expansion in nuclear power production is underway” – this is a laughable falsehood. In reality, nuclear power economics are in a state of crisis, most notably in America, but it is a world-wide slowdown. (4)

The vagueness of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) agreement is a worry. Australia is to formally commit to participate in the development of one or more Generation IV systems selected by GIF for further R&D.  Surely Australia is not going to sign up to this, without any detail on what kind of research, what kind of reactor, what amount of funding we would be committing to the GIF.

And all this without any public discussion!

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/apr/11/toshiba-losses-uk-moorside-nuclear-plant-westinghouse
  2.  https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603731/nuclear-energy- startup-transatomic-backtracks-on-key-promises/
  3. https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4555
  4.  http://reneweconomy.com.au/nuclear-industry-crisis-29735/

 

May 17, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, secrets and lies, spinbuster, technology | 2 Comments

Nuclear lobby’s misleading and inaccurate critiques of renewable energy

  • Overcoming the military-industrial complex: nuclear has always been a centralized industry, with just a few firms that have very close contacts to the government. And keeping nuclear skills for military purposes seems to be a driver in the UK’s push for new nuclear.
The US (and Australian) nuclear camp critiques studies for 100% renewables. Without reading them. Energy Transition ,by Craig Morris, 15 May 2017

Over the past year, the Anglo world has become interested in nuclear as a complement for wind and solar towards “deep decarbonization,” or a (nearly) 100% carbon-free supply of energy or possibly just electricity. Today, Craig Morris reviews a few papers by Americans and Australians and advises them to tackle the best European studies for 100% renewables head-on, not ignore them.

The first paper is by Stephen Brick and Samuel Thernstrom. Thernstrom has been calling nuclear “an essential part of the puzzle” since at least 2010. The paper is peer-reviewed; unfortunately, none of the reviewers noticed the oversights I found. Continue reading

May 17, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Compelling argument against Australia joining the Framework Agreement for Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems.

Today, I am taking the unusual step of publishing an entire submission. That’s because it is so good.  The nuclear lobby pulled a swifty on Australians, by having government and media very quietly do what is sure to be a “rubber stamp” job on Australia joining up to the Framework Agreement for Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems.

They allowed a very short time for submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiry. The nuke lobby must have been in the know, as they put in 11, whereas there were only 3, (one mine) critical of the plan.

Fortunately the critical ones contain compelling information. So, here, in full, is the:

Submission from Friends of the Earth Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation .

Contacts:

• Jim Green (Friends of the Earth, Australia) jim.green@foe.org.au, 0417 318 368

• Dave Sweeney (Australian Conservation Foundation) dave.sweeney@acf.org.au, 0408 317 812

Contents

1. Introduction and Response to National Interest Analysis

2. Generation IV Reactor Concepts ‒ Introduction

3. Decades Away

4. Purported Benefits

5. French Government’s IRSN Report

6. US Government Accountability Office Report

7. The Slow Death of Fast Reactors

8. Integral Fast Reactors

9. Thorium 10. Small Modular Reactors 11. Fusion Scientist Debunks Fusion

 

  1. INTRODUCTION AND RESPONSE TO NATIONAL INTEREST ANALYSIS Friends of the Earth Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation welcome the opportunity to make a submission to this inquiry and would welcome the opportunity to appear before a hearing of the Committee.

The Committee will likely receive submissions promoting the construction of Generation IV reactors in Australia and it is therefore worth noting comments by the SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in its May 2016 Final Report: “[A]dvanced fast reactors and other innovative reactor designs are unlikely to be feasible or viable in the foreseeable future. The development of such a first-of-a-kind project in South Australia would have high commercial and technical risk. Although prototype and demonstration reactors are operating, there is no licensed, commercially proven design. Development to that point would require substantial capital investment. Moreover, electricity generated from such reactors has not been demonstrated to be cost competitive with current light water reactor designs.”1

Here we provide brief responses to a number of comments in the National Interest Analysis (NIA).2

The NIA asserts that participation in the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) will further Australia’s non-proliferation and nuclear safety objectives. No evidence is supplied to justify the tenuous assertion. There is much else that Australia could do ‒ but is not doing ‒ that would demonstrably further non-proliferation objectives, e.g. a ban on reprocessing Australian Obligated Nuclear Materials (AONM); a reversal of the decision to permit uranium sales to countries that have not signed or ratified the NPT; or refusing uranium sales to countries that refuse to sign or ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. There is much else that Australia could do ‒ but is not doing ‒ that would demonstrably further safety objectives, e.g. revisiting the decision to sell uranium to Ukraine in light of the ongoing conflict in that country, refusing to supply uranium to nuclear weapon states that are not fulfilling their NPT obligations, insisting that uranium customer countries establish a strong, independent regulatory regime (as opposed to the inadequate regulation in a number of customer countries, e.g. China, India, Russia, Ukraine and others).

Nuclear non-proliferation would also be far better realised by active Australian engagement in the current UN process around the development of a nuclear weapons ban treaty. Instead Australia has spurned this pivotally important initiative and is refusing to participate. If Australia is serious about its international standing, our representatives would be at the table in New York.

The NIA states that ongoing participation in GIF will help Australia maintain its permanent position on the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors. ANSTO routinely makes such arguments ‒ in support of the construction of the OPAL reactor, in support of the development of nuclear power in Australia, and now in support of Australian participation in GIF. Australia has held a permanent position on the IAEA’s Board of Governors for decades and there is no reason to believe that participation or non-participation in GIF will change that situation.

The NIA asserts that accession to the Agreement and participation in GIF will have important economic benefits. No evidence is supplied to justify that tenuous assertion. There are no demonstrated economic benefits from participation in GIF ‒ however there are clear costs.

The NIA states that the “costs of participation in the System Arrangements will be borne by ANSTO from existing funds.” ANSTO should be required to provide a detailed account of past expenditure relating to this Agreement and anticipated future expenditure.

The NIA states that ongoing participation in GIF “will improve the Australian Government’s awareness and understanding of nuclear energy developments throughout the region and around the world, and contribute to the ability of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to continue to provide timely and comprehensive advice on nuclear issues.” Those arguments are tenuous, especially given that little about GIF is secret.

The NIA states that “Generation IV designs will use fuel more efficiently, reduce waste production, be economically competitive, and meet stringent standards of safety and proliferation resistance.” Those false claims are rebuked in later sections of this submission.

The NIA states that the success of Australia’s bid for membership of GIF was based in part on ANSTO’s “world-class capabilities and expertise” in the “development of nuclear safety cases.” ANSTO should be asked to justify that assertion. ANSTO could also be asked whether, based on its “world-class” expertise in nuclear safety, whether it considers it is appropriate for Australia to sell uranium to countries with demonstrably inadequate nuclear regulatory regimes, e.g. China, India, Russia, Ukraine and others.

The NIA asserts that “a significant expansion in nuclear power production is underway or under consideration by a number of countries, including several in the Asia Pacific region.” In fact:

  • Globally, nuclear power has been stagnant for the past 20 years.
  • For the foreseeable future, there is zero likelihood of a “significant” nuclear expansion of nuclear power and there will be an overall decline unless growth in China matches the decline elsewhere. Declines can be predicted with great confidence in North America, across all EU countries combined, in Japan, and in numerous other countries and regions ‒ and a very large majority of the world’s countries (about five out of six) are nuclear-free and plan to stay that way.
  • No country in the Asia Pacific or South East Asia is seriously planning to introduce nuclear power. The only country that was seriously planning to introduce nuclear power in the region ‒ Vietnam ‒ abandoned those plans last year.

The NIA states that Australia’s participation in GIF falls within the existing functions of ANSTO under Section 5 of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Act 1987. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties should assess whether Australia’s participation in GIF is consistent with legislation banning nuclear power in Australia (the EPBC and ARPANS Acts). 2.

2. GENERATION IV REACTOR CONCEPTS ‒ INTRODUCTION Continue reading

May 13, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, reference, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

The military connection to the push for advanced nuclear reactors in South Australia

With a nuclear waste dump in South Australia that accepts international shipments, the full range of the “nuclear industry” in the state would be complete, truly making it the “Defense State” that has become the state motto.[9]

SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S NUCLEAR MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: THE GLOBAL CONTEXT, Spirit of Eureka ,Talk by David Palmer at “SA  The Nuclear State” forum 03 May 2017   “……..If citizens – the people – whether they are in the Fukushima region of Japan or in Adelaide, South Australia – have a right to speak out on the dangers of the nuclear industry, then who are the elites promoting the nuclear industry? If we look at prominent figures in government the institutional linkages become all too clear. Consider the example of Kevin Scarce, Governor of South Australia until 2014, a Rear Admiral retired from the Royal Australian Navy, current Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, and Deputy Chairman of Seeley International, the largest air conditioning company in Australia that is known for energy-efficiency. Scarce led the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission and was the primary author of the report that recommended the South Australian government accept a nuclear waste dump. All the links are there in Scarce’s connections and positions: military, university, corporate, and government.

Furthermore, the Royal Commission did not focus solely on a nuclear waste dump. It considered possible expansion of nuclear industries in the state that encompassed mining, enrichment, and power generation. The Royal Commission report states that “The activity under consideration is the further processing of minerals, and the processing and manufacturing of materials containing radioactive and nuclear substances (but not for, or from, military uses) including conversion, enrichment, fabrication or reprocessing in South Australia.”[3]

But during the time this Royal Commission report was being prepared and finally delivered, Adelaide became the focal point for naval shipbuilding contracts, particularly submarines. Both Labor and Liberal politicians  sought to outdo each other in pushing for submarines to be built in Adelaide. They will be diesel powered, but the majority of submarines internationally use nuclear power propulsion. Potential overseas contractors also use designs geared for nuclear power. There are those in Australian naval circles who would like to see these Australian subs with nuclear, not diesel, power. And where will these submarines be used, and with what international interests? We know the answer to that question, as recent events in the Western Pacific have confirmed. The USS Carl Vinson, the nuclear powered air craft carrier, was on exercises in the Indian Ocean in early April with Australia’s HMAS Ballarat, when it was ordered to the Korean peninsula this month in response to the North Korean threat to explode a nuclear bomb.[4] This latest development is just one example of the escalating naval tensions on our side of the Pacific. Crises like this will potentially increase pressure for Australia to build submarines – and possibly other naval vessels – that are nuclear powered.

What does the corporate profile of the “nuclear industry” look like? Continue reading

May 13, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Citizens must get informed, and speak out against the dangerous nuclear industry

These women defy the illusion that you have to have a Ph.D. in nuclear physics or in nuclear engineering – that you must be a Ben Heard – to have a legitimate voice about nuclear power and the potential dangers of nuclear industry accidents. Our movement needs scientific experts, but all of us can gain basic knowledge and speak out
SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S NUCLEAR MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: THE GLOBAL CONTEXTSpirit of Eureka Talk by David Palmer at “SA  The Nuclear State” forum 03 May 2017   There are other speakers and participants here today who have more expertise in the scientific and engineering details of this controversy than I do. My comments are aimed, instead, at those powerful elite stakeholders who are at the core of what we know as the military-industrial complex – here in South Australia, our country, but also globally, with its centre in the United States.

Is this issue of a nuclear waste dump advocated for South Australia just about jobs and economic prosperity, as Premier Wetherill claims? Or is it far broader? The words of Ben Heard, former executive director of pro-nuclear power lobby group Bright New World, sum it up well: “We must be a full service provider to the nuclear back-end.”[1] Adelaide’s Advertiser reported last month that “a new open letter [has been sent] to state MPs, 42 influential people demand[ing] the State Government commits to completing first-stage investigations of the proposed high-level repository.”[2] Many of these “influential people” signed a similar letter back in December demanding the same thing, through Ben Heard’s pro-nuclear Bright New World.

But just what is this “nuclear back-end” – the back end of what? Nuclear materials have a wide range of uses, including medical and commercial ones that are distinct from their main uses for power generation and weapons. The vast majority of government expenditures related to nuclear materials goes toward nuclear weapons and military uses (such as naval propulsion systems), and nuclear power. In the United States, virtually all nuclear-related industries and products in the energy and military-application areas are joint operations involving private companies working under government contracts and regulations. The scientific and engineering knowledge required for the nuclear industry means that universities and university-linked research centres play a major role in bringing these two institutions – private companies and government – together. In South Australia, Ben Heard (who is connected to University of Adelaide) is symbolic of this key link connecting networked institutions and elites.  Continue reading

May 13, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Hawker schoolkids given tax-payer funded nuclear promotional trip to Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) in Sydney.

Hawker School Students Visit ANSTO  Ten students aged 11 to 17 from Hawker School are travelling across the country, to explore some of Australia’s most significant science infrastructure at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) in Sydney.

On Wednesday and Thursday next week, the students and two teachers from Hawker School will spend their days not in their science classrooms, but near Australia’s multi-purpose nuclear research reactor.

Their trip will start in the nearby Royal National Park, with Les Bursill, an elder of the Dharawal community, who will share with them the rich traditional heritage of the land surrounding ANSTO.

Les is the Elder in Residence at the University of Wollongong, and has worked closely with ANSTO to ensure that the many sites of indigenous importance around the Lucas Heights campus are protected.

The students will then head to the ANSTO Discovery Centre, which welcomes 15,000 visitors a year, to learn more about radiation and radioactivity through an interactive workshop.

The OPAL reactor will be the next stop, where students will see the reactor pool up-close, before they tour the wider ANSTO campus, seeing the advanced technology used and the low level and intermediate level waste stores.

On Thursday, engineering will be the subject of choice as the students find out more about all different types of engineering, and take part in hands-on activities as part of Discover Engineering Day.

“ANSTO is thrilled to be welcoming our young South Australian visitors next week,” said Discovery Centre Leader, Rod Dowler.

“Every week we have visits from students, from Kindergarten through to university students, but it is always an exciting time when we are welcoming out-of-state visitors.

“Bringing the kids out to Lucas Heights to see the facilities and to show them the work being done at ANSTO will let them know more about the front end of the nuclear cycle – the research, medicine and innovation that nuclear science enables.

“At ANSTO we produce nuclear medicines that are needed by approximately one in two Australians in their lifetime, for the diagnosis and treatment of cancers, and heart, lung, muscular, and skeletal conditions.

“Researchers also use nuclear research techniques to support research into improving human health, understanding our environment and supporting Australian industries.

“For example, nuclear research supports the agriculture industry through helping to understand the sustainability of Australia’s groundwater reservoirs, by determining their age and the ‘recharge rate’ of water, which helps farmers around the country.

“We’ll also talk to students about radiation, and how it is all around us in everyday household items like potting mix, kitty litter, bananas, granite benchtops and even bricks in houses – and, it also occurs in things we produce, like nuclear medicines and its by-products.

“We’ll be talking about all things nuclear from start to finish, so that the students get a really good understanding of all the steps, people, products and by-products generated by Australia’s nuclear industry.

“We are really looking forward to having the students from Hawker in Lucas Heights, and we can’t wait to show them around.”

May 3, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, South Australia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear fool cycle – regurgitating pro-nuclear submissions made to the SA Royal Commission

Dennis Matthews, 28 Apr 17 Recently, some organisations with impressive sounding names held a symposium at the Australian National University.

The symposium of engineers and scientists was on the nuclear fuel cycle comprised of “mining and fuel processing, nuclear power and waste storage”. The fact that this is a linear process rather than a cycle doesn’t seem to have bothered the participants. The nuclear spin cycle however is real.

The symposium appears to have regurgitated pro-nuclear submissions made to the SA Royal Commission on the nuclear industry and ended up generally agreeing, “that a social licence to operate will not be achieved quickly”. This is an understatement. It has been six decades since Australia got involved in the nuclear industry and sent uranium mined in South Australia and the Northern Territory to the UK for processing and for making nuclear weapons, which were then “tested” in South Australia.

The symposium ended up recommending, “that expertise in the humanities and social sciences be engaged to study the evolution and determining factors for public opinion on nuclear issues in Australia.” Hopefully, these experts will teach the scientists and engineers how to be objective and how to tell the difference between a cycle and spin.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear lobby never gives up

Despite the resounding defeat of the shonky South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission last year, a few zealous lobbyists continue to put across the incorrect story  that expansion of the nuclear industry in that State is  a viable option.

They organised a symposium.

Cambridge Dictionary describes a symposium as : an occasion at which people who have great knowledge of a particular subject meet in order to discuss a matter of interest

That’s interesting, as the communique from this symposium did not name the experts who were present.  I am suspecting that their “great knowledge” was on how to spin pro nuclear propaganda.

The meeting was co-ordinated by the pro nuclear physicist Professor Ken Baldwin. He apparently still believes in the goal of the NFCRC. He had this to say on the NFCRC goals

A further step could be to immediately establish a nuclear regulatory framework, in parallel with community consultation. This would reduce the lead time for nuclear to perhaps ten years if there is public acceptance

The symposium sounded so important, held at the ANU, hosted by The Australian National University (ANU) Energy Change Institute in collaboration with Engineers Australia, the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

It all sounds so awfully academic and gee-whiz important. Apart from Mr Baldwin, no other experts were named. Anyway, surprise surprise. They concluded that  Nuclear options need to be in the energy mix.  I’d just like to know –  how many scientists actually were present? Who put up the arguments for nuclear? What were those arguments?

April 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | 3 Comments

Turnbull’s dishonest spin about his Snowy Hydro energy plan

Turnbull fibbed about Snowy Hydro 2.0 https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/turnbull-fibbed-about-snowy-hydro-20,10235  Mark Hipgrave 26 April 2017Far from being the solution to Australia’s energy crisis, bureaucrats have confirmed the upgrade to Snowy Hydro may never even go ahead, reports Mark Hipgrave.

RECENT TURNBULL GOVERNMENT announcements about renaming the 457 Visa system, toughening the citizenship test, and the one from Fiona Nash about decentralising Govt Departments, made me think about last month’s big announcement – the Snowy Hydro Scheme Expansion.

You will recall that, on March 16, the PM announced plans for a $2 billion expansion of the Snowy Hydro scheme that could add up to 50% to its capacity.

In his media statement, Turnbull outlined the basics of the project — a plan to ‘supercharge the Snowy Hydro precinct’, with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), charged to

‘… examine several sites, which could support large scale pumped hydroelectric energy storage in the precinct.  These sites would involve new tunnels and power stations, connecting existing storages.’

In a speech in front of the penstocks feeding the Tumut 3 Power Station, he sounded positively Churchillian puffing out his chest, malsplaining to us all that the new Snowy Hydro scheme was the

‘… result of the vision and the courage of the generation that won the Second World War … they defended our freedoms …. and they came home and built this …. these are big dreams in these mountains, real courage…’

(He ignored the reality that around two thirds of the workforce employed in the construction of the scheme were immigrant workers, originating from over 30 countries. Not the winners of WWII, they were mostly the losers — displaced persons from Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia and other parts of Eastern Europe. They came with little English and no knowledge at all of Australian values. The work was largely managed by U.S. engineering contractors and, while an engineering triumph, it was achieved with what we would now regard as a shocking safety record). Continue reading

April 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Reactorvated: new nuke push ramps up

The global giants of nuclear power are in disarray. As Westinghouse Electric, Toshiba, AREVA struggle in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, a new breed of sophisticated nuclear campaigners, led by US billionaire Bill Gates, are spruiking “Small Modular Reactors”. Veteran anti-nuclear campaigner Noel Wauchope investigates the pro-nuclear push, the smart social media offensives and the latest government lobbying.   http://www.michaelwest.com.au/ , 15 Apr 17 

We don’t hear much about this, yet. It’s an international nuclear industry plan to develop new nuclear reactors, reactors which are still only in the design phase.

The Treaties Committee of the Australian Parliament is holding an inquiry into the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems. Australia already signed up for this in June 2016, without any public discussion. Now the plan is to extend Australia’s involvement and the Committee has called for submissions by April 28, 2017.

Most people would think the idea of expanding the nuclear industry in Australia was dead and gone, following last year’s debacle of the South Australian government’s attempts to get a nuclear waste import business set up in Australia. The latest plan however is different……..

In the current climate of financial crisis for AREVA, Westinghouse, Toshiba and so on, “new nuclear” companies such as Terrestrial Energy, Transatomic and NuScale now pitch their products as a radically different alternative to conventional nuclear reactors.

This new nuclear propaganda is certainly out there, but it is not yet prevalent in Australia. The nuclear lobby’s first step is to get government commitments in principle, getting Australia in step with USA and the other nations in the campaign. While the government is certainly well aware of the rejuvenated pro-nuclear campaign, the soft-sell to the Australian public is barely underway. It will come……..

The most important target however is the public, and particularly youth via social media……..

It is quite a small number of individuals who produce both the wordy, technical presentations for government, industry and mainstream media and the bright and snappy messages for the young and for non-technical environmentalists…….

In Australia, this nuclear PR is typified by the work of Ben Heard, who sends sophisticated submissions to government, tweets constantly, and who champions the environment via the nuclear front group Bright New World…….

Now targeting youth via new media the spin has taken on humanitarian and nature-loving elements. Although a collective of billionaires and big corporations are behind it, it promotes an alternative to big corporations. It is about saving the planet. It is about endless cheap and pollution-free energy for all, recycling nuclear wastes, combating climate change, promoting the beneficial uses of ionising radiation, freeing people from irrational fears and from anti-science.

The SMR lobby has been successful already in gaining the attention of government and media for technologies which do not yet even commercially exist. In today’s world of “alternative facts” this success is not surprising. It remains to be seen if “new nuclear” can win the public approval that it needs.  http://www.michaelwest.com.au/reactivated-new-nuclear-push-ramps-up/

April 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) backing shonky climate denial book

Australian Climate Denial Think Tank Picks Cat Author and Moonman Ken Ring as Climate Expert, Desmog blog, By Graham Readfearn, April 9, 2017 Do you love cats and want to know what makes them tick?  Do you think climate change is a hoax being pushed as part of a eugenics plot?  Do you like rubber band magic?

If your answers to these questions are “yes,” “hell yeah,” and “sometimes,” then have I got the book for you? Hell yeah, I do.

Australian “think tank,” the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), has launched a fundraising drive for its 2017 edition of the book Climate Change: The Facts.

The IPA is Australia’s biggest pusher of climate science denial and has assembled a conga-line of deniers and contrarians to write chapters for the upcoming publication. Continue reading

April 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Chris Murray responds to statements about UNSCEAR, made by nuclear propagandist Ben Heard

Ben Heard regards UNSCEAR as the “peak body” investigating radiation effects. “Impeccably
credentialed”, he says, “the foremost experts”. Heard claims that “The generally accepted evidence is that 100mSv per year is the minimum long term dose at which ANY increased cancer risk is perhaps detectable” and , re Fukushima, “The possibility of any latent fatality is exceedingly low.”

I wonder what he makes of UNSCEAR’s 2013 report?

” E7. The lifetime baseline risk of solid cancer in the general population of Japan is about 35% on average (males about 41%; females about 29%) [W12]. Following a hypothetical exposure of a group from the same population corresponding to an acute uniform whole-body dose of 1 Sv (equivalent to an absorbed dose of 1 Gy of low-LET radiation to all organs and tissues of the body), the Committee previously estimated the additional lifetime risk of solid cancer due to that exposure to be approximately 13% on average (annex A, table 70 in the Committee’s 2006 Report [U9]). Following doses of 0.1 Sv and 0.01 Sv, the additional lifetime risk due to the exposure was estimated to be smaller by factors of about 10 and 100, respectively.

“31. Adults living in the city of Fukushima were estimated to have received, on average, an effective dose of about 4 mSv in the first year following the accident; estimated doses for 1-year-old infants were about twice as high. Those living in other districts within the Fukushima Prefecture and in neighbouring prefectures were estimated to have received comparable or lower doses; even lower doses were estimated to have been received elsewhere in Japan. Lifetime effective doses (resulting from the accident) that, on average, could be received by those continuing to live in the Fukushima Prefecture have been estimated to be just over 10 mSv; this estimate assumes that no remediation measures will be taken to reduce doses in the future and, therefore, may be an overestimate. The most important source contributing to these estimated doses was external radiation from deposited radioactive material.”.
http://www.unscear.org/docs/reports/2013/13-85418_Report_2013_Annex_A.pdf

The population of Fukushima Prefecture is about 2 million. Anyone can do the figures. Even the 100% pro-nuclear UNSCEAR’s own estimates point to an eventual additional cancer total over the next 80 years of about 2,600.

March 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Weird pro nuclear spin about solar energy being more dangerous than nuclear

Should We Be Concerned About Low Levels of Radiation?’ a talk by Dr.Ian Fairlie

Derek Abbott Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia March 18  Thought for the day: When nuclear apologists gleefully announce that more solar panel workers die falling off roofs than nuclear workers from radiation, their excitement is not only creepy but the sentiment is flawed on three counts.

1) The long term effects of radiation accidents haven’t been fully quantified as we have not yet had long term post-Chernobyl empirical experience.

2) The chance of death on the road is over a 1000 times higher than in flight. Yet we all know that air travel is potentially much more dangerous than road transport. And because it is so much more dangerous, the governance around flight is much more strict. We are seeing relatively few immediate deaths from nuclear precisely because it is so strictly controlled. People falling off roofs is tragic: but it does not absolve nuclear. Instead it does tell us we need to increase roof worker safety standards.

3) Solar penetrates urban areas in a distributed fashion, whereas nuclear is placed away from urban centres. So the comparison is not fair to begin with. If we hypothetically replaced domestic solar panels with small nuclear reactors at each house, this decentralized penetration of nuclear would be open to many more mishaps. This would be the correct comparison https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/

March 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | 1 Comment

In South Africa, Australia’s top nuclear industry propagandist is rubbishing renewable energy

Heard told Fin24 that the suggestion that renewables could be the bulk source of energy supply is “preposterous”

The nuclear energy sector should be treated as a normal competitive industry, like any other, he said.

“If you do that you can get excellent time and cost outcomes.”

Heard said that problems come in when the nuclear sector becomes over-regulated

Room for renewables and nuclear in energy mix – researcher, Johannesburg – Renewable energy falls short of being a base load power source in South Africa, suggests a researcher.

Ben Heard, director of Bright New World organisation and PhD Candidate at the University of Adelaide, has conducted research to dispute the claims by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) that renewables have the capacity for a 70% share of South Africa’s energy sector.

The research, conducted by CSIR analysts Jarrad Wright, Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz, Joanne Calitz and Crescent Mushwana, showed that renewables would be the least cost option for South Africa. Continue reading

March 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Media spin about “new nuclear” and importing nuclear waste

a-cat-CANWhile it’s true that Australia’s mainstream media pretty much ignores nuclear issues at present, the   exception is the Adelaide Advertiser, which seems to have a hotline to the nuclear lobby.   I should mention also  the Whyalla News.

It’s a different story with social media. Australia’s nuclear lobby is active on Facebook and Twitter, and fortunately, Australia’s nuclear critics are, too.

Currently, that very talented pro nuke publicist Ben Heard is leading the pack.

  1. Heard has  put in  a  submission to the  Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s Energy Review, in which he advocates new nuclear reactors , especially small ones:
“Nuclear technology continues to innovate, including toward smaller, simpler reactors that will be wellsuited to the Australian grid…..
Terrestrial Energy has announced its plans to licence its reactor design in the United States, for the Integral Molten Salt Reactor”
He doesn’t mention his association with Terrestrial Energy:  http://terrestrialenergy.com/terrestrial-heardben-1energy-announces-appointment-of-internationally-recognized-authority-on-sustainability-to-international-advisory-board/
2. Heard calls  himself “Bright New World”.  I’m pretty sure that is an accurate description of how many
members are in that organisation:
“Bright New World is going to South Africa next week to give lectures on environmentalism, development, climate change and the crucial role of nuclear energy.”
3. On his website, Heard calls for donations. He is applying to have Bright New  World become a registered charity, so that donations will be tax deductible:
“We are a registered not-for-profit organisation, governed by an independent board, and pursuing tax-deductible gift-recipient status.”

 

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Christina reviews, spinbuster | Leave a comment