Australian news, and some related international items

Six international academics refute the attack on renewable energy by Ben Heard and others

Response to ‘Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems’ AUTHORS W. Browna,(a) , T. Bischof-Niemz (b)  , K. Blok(c) , C. Breyerc(d) , H. Lund (e) , B.V. Mathiesen (f  )  (Their  university positions are listed at the end of this post) September 2017

Abstract A recent article ‘Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems [by Ben Heard, Barry Brook, Tom Wigley and Corey Bradshaw] claims that many studies of 100% renewable electricity systems do not demonstrate sufficient technical feasibility, according to the authors’ criteria.

Here we analyse the authors’ methodology and find it problematic. The feasibility criteria chosen by the authors are important, but are also easily addressed at low cost, while not affecting the main conclusions of the reviewed studies and certainly not affecting their technical feasibility.

A more thorough review reveals that all of the issues have already been addressed in the engineering and modelling literature. Nuclear power, as advocated by some of the authors, faces other, genuine feasibility problems, such as the finiteness of uranium resources and a reliance on unproven technologies in the medium- to long-term. Energy systems based on renewables, on the other hand, are not only feasible, but already economically viable and getting cheaper every day.

Contents Continue reading


September 25, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby bringing top USA nuclear spruiker Michael Shellenberger to Australia

‘Michael Shellenberger  will visit Australia in Nov­ember to promote a rethink on nuclear at a minerals industry conference.

A radioactive wolf in green clothing: Dissecting the latest pro-nuclear spin,10735

 Noel Wauchope Michael Shellenberger is a nuclear salesman posing as a new generation environmentalist with unsubstantiated energy “solutions”, writes Noel Wauchope.

LAST WEEK, The Australian excelled itself in uncritically regurgitating nuclear lobby propaganda in the article‘Nuclear the “only option” to replace coal and gas: Michael Shellenberger’. 

To start with, they describe Shellenberger as ‘one of the world’s leading new-generation environmental thinkers‘. Well, that is sort of, a bit, right. Shellenberger is well known as the founder in 2003, with Ted Nordhaus, of The Breakthrough Institute — a nuclear front group dedicated to promoting “new generation” nuclear reactors. He is not a new generation environmentalist, as his focus is solely on the nuclear industry.

In the same opening paragraph, Shellenberger is described as ‘a former renewables advocate to Barack Obama‘. Well, Shellenberger’s advocacy consisted of lobbying Obama to promote not renewables but nuclear power. He is described as ‘now a global champion for nuclear energy’, as if he had only recently become a convert from renewables.

The Australian goes on to quote Shellenberger’s statements against renewable energy, uncritically, despite the fact that he provides no evidence for them:

“[Wind and solar] are doubling the cost of electricity and they have big environmental impacts. All existing renewable technologies do is make the electricity system chaotic and provide greenwash for fossil fuels.”


“[Opposition to nuclear] is like a superstitious religious belief.”

Shellenberger was a one of Time Magazine’s ’30 Heroes of the Environment’ in 2008. True. However, he was chosen and discussed in Time by Bryan Walsh, a nuclear proponent and a member of The Breakthrough Institute. That choice was strongly disputed by genuine leading environmentalists Bill McKibben and Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. 

Having thus established Shellenberger’s very shaky credentials as an environmentalist, The Australian gets to the gist of the story:

‘Michael Shellenberger  will visit Australia in Nov­ember to promote a rethink on nuclear at a minerals industry conference.’

We are told that Germany’s renewable energy transition is not successful and that Shellenberger believes better education about nuclear power is needed as well as ‘a leap forward in scientific literacy about radiation’.

He says:

“The reality is the death toll from Chernobyl in 1986, after 20 years, is less than 200 people.”

As we have come to expect from The Australian and from Michael Shellenberger, no references are given to back up these statements.

Also unsurprisingly, The Australian quotes Shellenberger’s conclusion without comment:

“Nuclear is the only technology that can lift everyone out of poverty and reverse human ­impact.”

As often happens, this article is followed by numerous positive comments, often glowing with praise, if somewhat lacking in information or insight. There were no negative comments. But then, only registered readers of The Australian are allowed to make comments. It is tiring but necessary to refute bald claims made by very manipulative nuclear spruikers.

Where to start?

Here are some links to thoughtful articles which address claims made in this article:

  • The cost or electricity from renewables?

Renewable energy versus nuclear: dispelling the myths about costs‘, by Mark Diesendorf, Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales.

  • Death toll from Chernobyl accident?

‘Radiation harm deniers? Pro-nuclear environmentalists and the Chernobyl death toll’, by Dr Jim Green, National Nuclear Campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and Editor of the Nuclear Monitor.

  • Nuclear lifting the world out of poverty?  

‘Nuclear Power Cost’, from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

September 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

John Quiggan demolishes foolish Minerals Council of Australia’s nuclear spin

The Minerals Council of Australia pushing zombie ideas, September 4th, 2017, John Quiggin,

Fighting zombies is a tiresome business. Even when you think you’ve finally killed them, they bounce back as often as not. But it has to be done, and there are some benefits. When you see a supposedly serious person or organization pushing zombie ideas, it’s an indication that nothing they put out should be presumed to be serious.

There can be few zombies more thoroughly undead than nuclear power in general, except for the idea that nuclear power is a sensible option for Australia. The strongly pro-nuclear SA Royal Commission demolished this zombie so thoroughly that it should have taken a decade at least to regenerate.

But here’s the Minerals Council of Australia, which has taken a break from promoting coal to push the idea thatAustralia needs a nuclear power industry and that the biggest obstacle is a legal prohibition imposed in 1998. The supporting “analysis” is riddled with absurdities, some of which have already been pointed out. I’ll give my own (incomplete) list over the fold

Most obviously, there’s the statement that 58 nuclear reactors are currently under construction. As anyone who’s been paying attention could tell them, that number was 66 not long ago. The decline reflects the abandonment of half-built projects like the VC Summer plant in North Carolina and the fact that some long overdue projects like Watts Bar, started back in 1973, have been completed, while new starts have slowed to a crawl.

That’s only going to accelerate. China currently has 23 plants under construction, but they haven’t approved a new one in eighteen months. Other countries with projects under construction, but no recent approvals include the US and France. Unless something changes, the completion of current projects will cut the number under construction in half within a few years.

Then there’s the claim that nuclear power is affordable. There’s no reference to the dismal record of the existing industry. Instead, the MCA is relying on vaporware

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are close to commercialisation in the US. A Nu-scale 50MWe SMR, for example, is projected to cost around US$250 million.10 Three of these would cost and produce around the same amount of power as the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere – and it would be reliable, synchronous, on-demand power

The reality is that the NuScale SMR doesn’t exist even as a prototype. Any estimate of the costs of such a reactor is purely speculative. The SA Royal Commission looked hard at SMRs and concluded they weren’t a viable option now or in the foreseeable future.

Showing patent bad faith, the MCA quotes the Royal Commission’s claims about the potential for a nuclear waste dump (an idea that has been abandoned) but ignores the more significant finding that nuclear power, including SMRs is hopelessly uneconomic for Australia.

Even more startling is the suggestion that we should follow the example of Canada which supposedly has a thriving nuclear industry. The reality is that nuclear power in Canada has been a failure, with massive cost overruns and frequent breakdowns. After spending at least a billion in subsidies, the Canadian government sold its nuclear energy business for a mere $15 million in 2011. It’s highly unlikely that Canada will ever build another nuclear plant.

Then there’s a reference to some real vaporware, notably including Transatomic a startup backed by Peter Theil. Google reveals that Transatomic had to back away from its inflated claims by a factor of more than 30. An honest mistake, apparently, but not promising as a basis for Australian energy policy.

Regardless of whether the prohibition on nuclear energy is lifted, it’s not going to happen in Australia, or most other countries. The real lesson from this episode is that any analysis coming out of the MCA should be treated with extreme scepticism. In particular, the next time an MCA spokesperson pops up to say that we need coal-fired power indefinitely into the future, remember their similar, and patently false, claims about nuclear power.

September 6, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Australian media mindlessly regurgitates nuclear lobby spin about medical wastes

Misconceptions about radioactive medical isotopes, , By Noel Wauchope -29 August 2017

Australians get their information about medical isotopes straight from The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation(ANSTO) via handouts faithfully retailed via the mainstream media. Some recent examples of media coverage:

The message is straightforward and goes like this:

The purpose of the Opal nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights is to make medical radioisotopes to treat cancer. Australia needs a national radioactive waste dump in rural South Australia, thousands of miles away from Lucas Heights, to dispose of the low-level medical radioactive wastes produced. And this will be a bonanza for the lucky rural community of Kimba.

Is this story true?

No. It is misleading on a number of counts.

First of all, a nuclear reactor is not essential for making medical isotopes. The IAEA lists 39 countries that use cyclotrons to produce them. That includes Australia, which has them not only at Lucas Heights itself, but also at hospitals in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia.

From the invention of the cyclotron (1931) , and discovery of artificial radioactivity (1934), non nuclear particle accelerators were used to produce them. Globally, particle accelerators produced the vast majority of radioisotopes with medical applications until the 1950s. Radioisotopes of medical interest began to be produced as a byproduct of nuclear weapons reactors during World War II. After the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the USA Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)’s main mission was promoting the military use of nuclear material, but “giving atomic energy a peaceful, civilian image” was also part of it. In1948 the AEC took over, and isotopes for biomedical research, cancer diagnostics and therapy were made in nuclear reactors and even became free of charge.

Australia was a bit slow to jump on the medical isotopes bandwagon. The Lucas Heights nuclear reactor began its life in 1958 as the start of a plan for nuclear weapons for Australia.Then it was promoted as research for nuclear power, and later as for making medical radiopharmaceuticals. Lucas Heights and ANSTO itself are very much part of the nuclear lobby’s plan to promote the entire nuclear industry in Australia.

Australia does not need a national radioactive waste dump for medical wastes. Nearly all medical radioactive wastes are very short-lived – a matter of days, or even hours. There is no need to transport them across the continent. Australia does have a problem with higher level wastes: Spent reactor fuel sent to France, USA and UK for processing must be returned. This is the type of waste that needs deep and very secure disposal. That is sure to be the underlying purpose of the South Australian waste dump plan.

The planned national radioactive waste dump will not benefit the local community. Yes, there will be bribes – so far, not much – a $2 million Community Benefit Package to fund local projects, but I’m sure that the Feds will come with better than that. Jobs, no doubt. However, the underlying problem remains. The community is being asked to accept a temporary nuclear waste dump, which is to be set up long before any permanent dump is set up, if it ever is. Kimba, the proposed dump site, is likely to suffer the fate of so many sad sites in America –stuck with “stranded wastes” of radioactive trash. Think what that would do to Kimba’s environment and reputation as an agricultural area.The nuclear lobby has argued persuasively that the Lucas Heights area has held nuclear wastes for decades. However, the Lucas Heights residents did not grasp the implications when the nuclear reactor was set up. They do now – that’s why they want the wastes sent far away.

The global nuclear lobby is fighting a losing battle. The industry has always struggled to win over public opinion. In Australia, the industry’s “foot in the door” is the Opal reactor at Lucas Heights. Following the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s failed attempt last year, to introduce radioactive waste importing, the next sortie is to use Lucas Heights to get a national nuclear waste dump happening. To justify this, the argument put forward is the medical argument.

In the slick salesmanship from ANSTO and the nuclear lobby in general, they don’t mind a few lies and half truths,. For example, they’ll say ” The most important isotope technetium-99m can be made only with nuclear reactors” – conveniently forgetting that Canadian researchers achieved this with a cyclotron in 2015.

They’ll say that cyclotrons are too expensive to set up, conveniently forgetting that the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor was set up at  tax-payer expense, and that tax-payer will have to fund its waste management virtually for eternity.

They’ll ignore the facts that cyclotrons produce negligible wastes.  As most medical radioisotopes have very short half lives – it makes sense to produce them in a decentralised way – in cyclotrons close to the hospitals where they will be used.  The transport of isotopes from cyclotrons is much less of a problem, than from the centralised nuclear reactor.

The nuclear reactor produces radioactive wastes suitable for use as nuclear weapons fuel –  and present a safety problem, with the reactor itself also a target for terrorism.  Cyclotrons do not have these risks, and this need for huge, and expensive security measures.

Canada, having abandoned nuclear reactor production of medical isotopes, is now leading the way in their production and export without use of a nuclear reactor.  ANSTO’s boast of a future thriving export industry in isotopes is sounding hollow.

We should bear in mind that medical radioisotopes are used 80% for diagnosis, and only 20% for actual treatment of cancer. They are an additional means of diagnosis, but not the only means.

We should also be mindful that radioactive isotopes in medicine carry a small increased risk of cancer for the patient, staff, and sometimes the patient’s family.

Therefore our enthusiasm for nuclear medicine should be tempered with an understanding of its limitations and risks, both at the individual patient level, and in the broader context of nuclear fission and its health and environmental dangers.

August 30, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

The ABC swallows the nuclear lobby line on medicine – hook line and sinker

The post below this is an extract from the ABC article “Nuclear medicine production in Australia at risk if dump site can’t be found, industry head says”.  I  left out the bits where ANSTO officials orgasmically discussed how much Australia needs the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor for medical reasons.

Anyone would think that this humanitarian motive is the sole raison d’etre for this nuclear reactor. The ABC apparently buys that story.

BUT, Medical radioisotopes have been made without need of a nuclear reactor. They are made in a linear accelerator
or by a cyclotron
ANSTO at Lucas Heights I believe already has a cyclotron. . The Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission recommended expanding a cyclotron industry in South Australia, to develop medical radioisotopes.
Reactor at Lucas Heights was initially intended as prelude to nuclear weapons production. The medical use was tacked on to make it look more respectable. It remains a fig leaf on the nuclear industry.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina reviews, media, spinbuster | 5 Comments

Australia’s nuclear lobby hoping for nuclear submarines as a ‘foot in the door’

Steve Dale     No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia 3 JUNE 17  The nuclear submarine push seems to have become the preferred “foot in the door” for nuclear. If we had nuclear submarines, refueling and the disposal of waste would still be in South Australia (according to Abbott) – out of mind of the Sydney/Melbourne populations.

Politicians talking about small nuclear reactors backfires for them because that implies the reactors will need to be near Sydney and Melbourne and that will stir up a lot of nuclear push back. So despite the questionable benefits of Australia having nuclear submarines, the nuclear lobby thinks it will get us “hooked” into the nuclear waste cycle.

The Cape Hardy port development and the large purchases of land around the port are probably already earmarked as the nuclear submarine maintenance location. The Abbott/lobbyists are even talking about “leasing” nuclear subs – they are so desperate to suck us in.

July 3, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear lobby ramps up its propaganda

Surely it is no coincidence that, as the federal government – Resources Minister Matt Canavan –  touts a further stage in the plan to park radioactive trash in rural South Australia, and the Liberals introduce a Bill to expand Australian Nuclear Science and Technology’s activities –   our favourite pro nuclear shill, Ben Heard, joins others to promote the nu clear industry  – in Adelaide Thurs 29 June 

  • Ben Heard, Founder & Executive Director, Bright New World  Ben is recognised as a leading voice for the use of nuclear technologies to address our most pressing global challenges
  • Nick Byrne, Chief Financial Officer, Heathgate Resources, – Uranium mining company, owned by USA weapons maker General Atomics
  • Kyra Reznikov, Special Council, Finlaysons Lawyers,  part in a study tour in the footsteps of the Royal Commission to visit nuclear sites in Finland, France and the UK

June 28, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, spinbuster | Leave a comment


Note – from MAPW  While cyclotron production of technetium is commercially  licensed in Canada and undergoing clinical trials, it is still a while (?2years???) before it is a viable option for this particular isotope . And there are issues with the potentially limited and costly supply of the precursor materials. IN addition the heavily subsidised Australian isotopes will probably undercut the market (Similar to subsidising coal against the early phases of renewables-sigh).

But we can urge the government to partner in cyclotron  research. And stop ramping up massively subsidised exports of Molybdenum which is used to make technetium isotopes.

Technetium 99 is the principal radioactive diagnostic isotope used in Australian medical procedures (80% IN 2015-16). This is currently supplied by ANSTO through production of Molybdenum 99 at the Lucas heights OPAL reactor – but Te-99 can also be produced by particle accelerators or cyclotrons which ANSTO is also capable of conducting – in fact it does so for other radioactive isotopes such as Fluorine 18, Carbon 15 & Oxygen 11.

Of the Mo 99 produced by the ANSTO OPAL reactor, currently only 28% is used in Australia whilst 72% is exported internationally. With the expansion of the Mo 99 production by a factor of at least 400% by the end of 2018 & Australia’s demand remaining static thru more efficient use of Te 99.

This means that whilst the nuclear waste will quadruple, the percentage of waste resulting from Australian consumption will drop to about 8%.

Proponents of the dump proclaim loudly that the Wallerberdina/Kimba dumps are needed to store Australian medical waste.


ANSTO barely breaks even with it’s exports, & they are ramping up production whilst global demand is static & new overseas production facilities are about to come on-line.

June 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Pro nuclear shills bring nonsense promises about Generation IV nuclear reactors to Australia

There isn’t the slightest chance that SMRs will fulfil the ambition of making nuclear power “radically cheaper” unless and until a manufacturing supply chain is mass producing SMRs for a mass market.

As things stand, no country, company or utility has any intention of betting billions on building an SMR supply chain.  In the absence of a mass supply chain, SMRs will be expensive curiosities. 

Ben Heard thinks Australia should take the lead building his preferred version of Generation IV fast neutron reactors.

So Australia ‒ a country with virtually no relevant expertise and even less experience ‒ should take the lead developing Generation IV reactors despite the fact that global nuclear industry giants face crippling debts and possible bankruptcy due to cost overruns building a handful of conventional reactors?

That proposition is beyond stupid and it was even rejected by the (stridently pro-nuclear) SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission last year.

New nuclear push digs deep into vault of alternative facts, Jim Green, 31 May 2017, RenewEconomy

Australia’s nuclear energy debate reaches Peak Idiocy this week with the visit of Jessica Lovering from the U.S. Breakthrough Institute. Lovering has and will be speaking at public events alongside Australian university student Ben Heard.

Both the Breakthrough Institute and Heard’s ‘Bright New World’ present themselves as progressive environment groups but they are single-issue, pro-nuclear lobby groups with little interest in broader environmental issues. Australia’s environment groups ‒ i.e. real environment groups ‒ are united in our opposition to nuclear power.

Real environment groups celebrate the spectacular growth of renewables and the spectacular cost reductions whereas pro-nuclear lobby groups, including Lovering’s Breakthrough Institute and Heard’s Bright New World, are on a never-ending campaign against renewables. Global renewable energy capacity has doubled over the past decade and current renewable capacity of 2,006 gigawatts (GW) is 5.1 times greater than nuclear power capacity of 392 GW (including idle reactors in Japan). Actual electricity generation from renewables (23.5% of global generation) is more than double that from nuclear power (10.7%) and the gap is widening every day.

Lovering’s opinion piece in The Australian on Monday fails to note that her speaking trip is sponsored by the Minerals Council of Australia. Likewise, Heard has also been paid as a uranium industry consultant.

Lovering brings a suitcase full of alternative facts to Australia. The most egregious is that the nuclear industry is in the middle of some sort of renaissance. Even her own institute contradicts this, Continue reading

May 31, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

USA’s billionaires’ nuclear front group Breakthrough Institute spinning in Australia

Todays’ AUSTRALIAN touts a nuclear promotion by Jessical Lovering:
“Jessica Lovering is director of energy at The Breakthrough Institute, a US environmental and energy think tank. She is visiting Australia to discuss nuclear innovation with energy policy experts, parliamentarians and government agencies.”
Just let’s be clear on who Jessica Lovering represents, and who is paying for her visit.
Well, the visit is paid for by  the Minerals Council of Australia, also sponsored by the breakthrough Institute.
The Breakthrough Institute is a pretend-environmental group that propagandises for new nuclear power It’s interesting that Jessica will be speaking in Sydney on May 30th, and in Adelaide on May 31st –   coincidentally, just as the Parliamentary Committe is about to give its blessing to Australia signing up to join in developing new :”Generation IV”  nuclear reactors
The Breakthrough Institute  launched the Breakthrough Energy Coalition at the start of the COP21 climate talks in Paris, with collective wealth of three hundred and fifty billion dollars.
The Breakthrough Institute is a billionaire’s club of “new nuclear” proponents, (to name just a few):
  • Bill Gates who owns Terra Power LLC,  a nuclear design and engineering company
  • Richard Branson, publicly touts nuclear energy and put his name on Pandora’s Promise as executive producer.
  • Mukesh Ambani an investor in Terra Power
  • Jeff Bezos investor in  nuclear fusion
  • Chris Hohn’s TCI hedge fund invested in J-Power, a Japanese utility company whose assets included nuclear power stations.
  • Vinod Khosla loves nuclear power and is on record blaming environmentalists rather than nuclear energy’s obviously disastrous economics, for its failure.Chinese billionaire
  • Jack Ma of Alibaba, involved in  China’s investment in the UK’s planned Hinkley-C nuclear power plant.
  • Ratan Tata  investing in nuclear energy in India



Last time the Breakthrough Institute send a macho man to spin to Australia. Lately they’ve turned to using trendy young women –  a case of handing over the poisoned chalice?

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

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!

  2. startup-transatomic-backtracks-on-key-promises/


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 .


• Jim Green (Friends of the Earth, Australia), 0417 318 368

• Dave Sweeney (Australian Conservation Foundation), 0408 317 812


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.


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