Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Busting Australian govt media spin about Napandee nuclear waste plan, – by AustralianGovtWatcher

Cut through this spin from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources – glossing over the licensing problem about waste classification. It is duplicitous about “medical” wastes. It ignores the plan’s failure to comply with all regulatory requirements, failure to properly inform local community. It makes dubious claims on economics and employment, and dubious claims about the selective community ballot, and duplicitous claims about Aboriginal involvement (AustralianGovtWatcher’s comments in red italics)

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources National Radioactive Waste Management Facility: Hearings last Tuesday of the Senate Standing Committee on Economics

Media release
2 July 2020

The following can be attributed to a spokesperson from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources:
“The department was pleased to attend the committee hearings on Tuesday to discuss the proposed legislation to support the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility,” the spokesperson said.

“Specifically it was also an opportunity to address some questions about the process and proposed facility, including some those which have since been raised in the media, as outlined below.

Is there are need for a facility?
“The legislation delivers on the Australian Government’s commitment to site the facility at Napandee in Kimba, South Australia.

“The facility will be for the disposal of low-level waste and temporary storage of intermediate level waste, which will be stored at the facility only if it meets strict Waste Acceptance Criteria.”

The facility will fail to meet the safety codes and prescriptions of IAEA as adopted in Australia by ARPANSA

What is proposed to overcome this problem as otherwise ANSTO or whoever else will be the operator of the facility will not get the necessary licences

“About 80 per cent of Australia’s radioactive waste stream is associated with the production of nuclear medicine which, on average, two in three Australians will need during their lifetime.”

This is a dubious claim and depends entirely on the level of classification and the source of the waste – it should be specifically broken down into those categories.

“This medical waste, along with Australia’s historical radioactive waste holdings, is currently spread over more than 100 locations across the country, like science facilities, universities and hospitals.”

True but only a portion of that waste is held or controlled by the federal government.

“It is international best practice to consolidate this waste at a purpose-built facility.”

Agreed but the facility at Napandee will not achieve this.

Can’t the waste be permanently stored at ANSTO?
“Australia cannot indefinitely produce the vital nuclear medicine
that it needs, without responsibly and safely managing the radioactive waste by product.
“The national facility will not fit at ANSTO – it requires at least 40 hectares plus a buffer zone and enabling infrastructure.
“On the other hand, the whole ANSTO Lucas Heights campus, designed for nuclear medicine and research, is only 70 hectares in size, and already has more than 80 buildings on it.”

Although unavoidable due to simply adding new buildings when needed it still shows a dismissal lack of planning over many years which is acknowledged by former senior personnel at ANSTO

Do we need more scrutiny around the process to identify a site?
“The process to site the facility was developed with the assistance of an Independent Advisory Panel which included members with a range of academic, industry and environmental backgrounds, and people who are both generally supportive and against the proposal to establish the facility.”

Absolute nonsense since the choice of the site and subsequent development proposals fail to comply with all regulatory requirements.

Moreover the community members against the proposals were never given full and proper information despite their specific requests.

A good example of this was the issue of fire risks which is of prime importance with the proposed above ground structure in the heart of prime agricultural land.

The so-called Independent Advisory Panel proved to be ineffective and was not constituted as initially planned – it certainly did nothing of consequence to identify the location and provide any real scrutiny.

“And the process has already been independently scrutinised
on two occasions.
“In 2018, the Senate Economics References Committee ran an inquiry into the process for the selection of a site for the facility, and this found that that the process was sound.
“Four years of community engagement and three years of technical studies support the identification of Napandee as a site, which is suitable technically to safely and securely manage Australia’s waste, and broadly supported by the community.”

The Senate Committee inquiring into the selection process in 2018 could not possibly be regarded as being an independent scrutiny as seen from its conclusions and recommendations.

What was the second occasion of scrutiny?

Most importantly the community at Kimba has requested funding and governmental assistance in getting their own proper and independent expert scrutiny and assessment but the government has refused the requests.

The District Council of Kimba also refused a similar request despite claiming to represent the whole community.

What economic benefits would the facility deliver for regional Australia?
“Independent economic analysis conservatively estimated the facility would bring over $8 million in economic benefits to Kimba each year.”

How?

“The facility will also be the area’s largest employer, bringing 45 local jobs.”

Much larger facilities overseas employ a fraction of that number – it is more likely to be less than 10 employees in total and will no doubt depend on the infrequent deliveries of waste to the facility.

Hard to see where the yearly economic benefits of $8 million will come – it will do nothing to replace an agricultural industry at Kimba worth between $55 million to $85 million a year which based on recent overseas situations will suffer dramatically due to the presence of the facility.

“And some 62% of the local Kimba community supported the facility in a Council-run ballot undertaken last year.”

This is based on a very selective ballot the results of which have not been correctly interpreted.

Most importantly the ballot failed on the principle of informed consent as there was a lack of proper information given to the voters prior to the ballot.

What are the ways of protecting cultural heritage?
“While there is no native title or registered heritage at Napandee, which is cleared farming land, the department recognises the Traditional Custodians in the region, who have strong views about a radioactive waste facility being situated in the area.
“If the Barngarla People are willing to consider the opportunity, the department is seeking to engage with the objective of a funded agreement between BDAC and the Government, which could include:

• a Barngarla economic plan – including $3 million allocated
by the Australian Government,
• training, employment and business opportunities,
• a cultural heritage assessment and management program,
• the opportunity to ensure Barngarla heritage and cultural values are enhanced by the Facility and its design,

That is not what the Barngarla people say particularly as the proposed funding outlined by the government will in any case come from other existing financial assistance already available to them.

In any case the government should have been consulting the Barngarla for that type of agreement several years ago and certainly well before their legal actions were taken and which were strongly opposed by the government.
It seems that it will be hard to mend the bridges!

CONCLUSION
These comments are based on various expert advice from overseas which is far more credible in the areas of nuclear science and engineering then exists in Australia mainly due to there being no local nuclear generation industry .

This expert advice can be made available to the Senate committee if necessary

However the whole process of selection of a previously nominated site and the subsequent development proposals lack any community consideration of such inherent issues as the radionuclides inventories of the waste and the risk of fires

July 5, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Misinformation about Energy Economics, from nuclear companies and their propagandists

It is generally accepted in the energy industry that the cost of new nuclear is several times that of wind and solar, even when the latter are backed up by storage.

The nuclear lobby, however, has been insisting to the parliamentary inquiry that wind and solar are four to seven times the cost of nuclear, and to try and prove the point the lobby has been making such extraordinary and outrageous claims that it makes you wonder if anything else they say about nuclear – its costs and safety – can be taken seriously.

Supplementary Submission to the Victorian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Environment and Planning
Inquiry into Nuclear Prohibition Friends of the Earth Australia www.nuclear.foe.org.au
 June 2020  – Extract 

“……..MISINFORMATION REGARDING ENERGY ECONOMICS BY NUCLEAR COMPANIES AND ENTHUSIASTS

 Highly questionable economic claims made by nuclear companies and enthusiasts are addressed in:

  • submission #40 by Friends of the Earth Australia to the NSW nuclear inquiry[1]
  • submission #64 to the NSW nuclear inquiry (see esp. sections 3.5 and 3.6)[2]

 An important article by Giles Parkinson ‒ an energy expert and former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review ‒ is particularly helpful in this regard.  An excerpt is reproduced below but we encourage members of the Committee to read the full, referenced article. The article is focused on submissions to the federal nuclear inquiry[3] but many of the same claims have been presented to the NSW and Victorian inquiries.

Why the nuclear lobby makes stuff up about the cost of wind and solar

[1] https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/submissions/66217/0040%20Friends%20of%20the%20Earth.pdf

[2] https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/submissions/66348/0064%20Australian%20Conservation%20Foundation,%20Nature%20Conservation%20Council%20and%20%20Friends%20of%20the%20Earth%20Australia.pdf

[3] https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Environment_and_Energy/Nuclearenergy

Giles Parkinson, 23 Oct 2019, ‘Why the nuclear lobby makes stuff up about the cost of wind and solar’, https://reneweconomy.com.au/why-the-nuclear-lobby-makes-stuff-up-about-cost-of-wind-and-solar-46538/

Giles Parkinson, 23 Oct 2019, 

 It is generally accepted in the energy industry that the cost of new nuclear is several times that of wind and solar, even when the latter are backed up by storage. The GenCost 2018 report from the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) puts the cost of nuclear at two to three times the cost of “firmed renewables”.

 The nuclear lobby, however, has been insisting to the parliamentary inquiry that wind and solar are four to seven times the cost of nuclear, and to try and prove the point the lobby has been making such extraordinary and outrageous claims that it makes you wonder if anything else they say about nuclear – its costs and safety – can be taken seriously.

 RenewEconomy has been going through the 290-something submissions and reading the public hearing transcripts, and has been struck by one consistent theme from the pro-nuclear organisations and ginger groups: When it comes to wind, solar and batteries, they just make stuff up.

 A typical example is the company SMR Nuclear Technology – backed by the coal baron Trevor St Baker – which borrows some highly questionable analysis to justify its claim that going 100 per cent renewables would cost “four times” that of replacing coal with nuclear.

It bases this on modelling by a consultancy called EPC, based on the south coast of NSW, apparently a husband and wife team, Robert and Linda Barr, who are also co-authors of “The essential veterinarian’s phone book”, a guide to vets on how to set up telephone systems. of wind at A$157/MWh (before transmission costs), which is about three times the current cost in Australia, and A$117/MWh for solar, which is more than double.

 The costs of wind and solar are not hard to verify. They are included in the GenCost report, in numerous pieces of analysis, and even in public announcements from companies involved, both buyers and sellers. St Baker could have helped out, as his company has signed two big solar contracts (for the Darlington and Vales Point solar farms) and we can bet he won’t be paying A$117/MWh.

 Apart from costs, the EPC scenarios for 100 per cent renewables are also, at best, imaginative. For some reason they think there will only be 10GW of solar in a 100% renewables grid and just 100MW of battery storage. Big hint: There is already 12GW of solar in the system and about 300MW of battery storage. But we discovered that assuming wind and solar do not or won’t exist, and completely ignoring distributed energy, are common themes of the nuclear playbook.

 The delivered cost of energy from wind and solar in the EPC modelling of a 100 per cent renewables grid? A hilariously outrageous sum of A$477/MWh (US$330/MWh).

Contrast this with SMR Nuclear Technology’s claims about the cost of a modern small modular reactor – US$65/MWh – even though it admits the technology “has not been constructed”, and which leading nuclear expert Ziggy Switkowski points out won’t likely be seen for at least another decade. …

Why the nuclear lobby makes stuff up about the cost of wind and solar

[1] https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/submissions/66217/0040%20Friends%20of%20the%20Earth.pdf

[2] https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/submissions/66348/0064%20Australian%20Conservation%20Foundation,%20Nature%20Conservation%20Council%20and%20%20Friends%20of%20the%20Earth%20Australia.pdf

[3] https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Environment_and_Energy/Nuclearenergy

Giles Parkinson, 23 Oct 2019, ‘Why the nuclear lobby makes stuff up about the cost of wind and solar’, https://reneweconomy.com.au/why-the-nuclear-lobby-makes-stuff-up-about-cost-of-wind-and-solar-46538/

Why the nuclear lobby makes stuff up about the cost of wind and solar

[1] https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/submissions/66217/0040%20Friends%20of%20the%20Earth.pdf

[2] https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/submissions/66348/0064%20Australian%20Conservation%20Foundation,%20Nature%20Conservation%20Council%20and%20%20Friends%20of%20the%20Earth%20Australia.pdf

[3] https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Environment_and_Energy/Nuclearenergy

 Moltex, which says it is “developing” some sort of fission technology (it says it has a design but hasn’t actually built anything) uses the same trick as EPC to paint a daunting picture of renewable and storage costs, in this case by multiplying the cost of batteries by the total amount of electricity consumed in a single day. “Australia consumes 627 Gigawatt hours of electricity per day, and so the battery storage required to cover just one 24 hour period would cost A$138 billion,” it proclaims. It is such an incredibly stupid and misleading claim that it simply takes the breath away. …

 But that’s what the nuclear industry feels it needs to do to make its yet-to-be invented technology sound feasible and competitive.

Let’s go to StarCore, a Canadian company that says it, too, wants to manufacture small modular reactors, and claims renewables are “seven times” the cost of nuclear, and which also has a fascination with the Nyngan solar farm. It uses the cost of Nyngan to make the bizarre claim that to build 405 of them would cost A$68 billion, and then compares this to what it claimed to be the “zero upfront capital costs” of one of StarCore’s plants.

 Say what? Does the nuclear plant appear just like that? Solar and wind farms also usually have long-term power purchase agreements, but they still have to be built and someone has to provide the capital to do so. Nuclear with a zero capital cost? Really, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

 Down Under Nuclear Energy, headed by a former oil and gas guy and a former professor at the University of Western Australia who specialises in mathematical social science and economics, also bases its solar costs on the Nyngan solar farm and makes this bizarre claim about battery storage: “The precipitous decline in solar technology is highly unlikely to be replicated in batteries, a technology already approaching 150 yrs of maturity,” it says.

Hey, here’s some breaking news. Costs of battery storage have already mirrored solar’s fall, down 80 per cent in last decade and utilities like Transgrid predict another 60 per cent fall over next 10-15 years.

 And most large-scale storage batteries use lithium, an abundant resource, and this is battery technology that was actually invented just over 40 years ago by the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry. As the Nobel citation says: “(Co-winner Stanley) Wittingham developed the first fully functional lithium battery in the 1970s.” Not 1870.

 Women in Nuclear and the Australian Workers Union both quote the Industry Super report on nuclear, which we debunked a while back, which puts the cost estimates of wind and solar plants at 10 times their actual cost.

The “capital cost” of the Dundonnel wind farm in Victoria, for instance, is put at A$4.2 billion (try A$400 million) according to their bizarre calculations, while the Darlington solar farm is put at $5.8 billion (try A$350 million). It’s pure garbage and the fact that it is being quoted really does beggar belief. …

 But all the nuclear submissions have one common trait. They assume that the deployment of renewables is stopped in its tracks, either now or sometime soon. It’s more wish than analysis, but in that they will have found a willing fellow traveller in federal energy minister, Angus Taylor “there is already too much wind and solar on the grid” Taylor, who thought it a good idea to have the inquiry.

 But the reality is that the rest of the energy industry wants to move on. They know that the grid can be largely decarbonised within the next two decades from a combination of renewables and storage. That’s a simple truth that the nuclear lobby cannot accept, and they’ve passed up the opportunity to have an open and honest debate by promoting utter garbage about renewables, to the point where it would be difficult to believe much of anything else they say.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, spinbuster | Leave a comment

South Australian MP Rowan Ramsey, and Minister for Resources, Keith Pitt, talk nonsense about the planned nuclear waste dump at Napandee. 

  By Noel Wauchope, 27 June 20Examining the Joint media release by the Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey MP and Keith Pitt, Minister for Resources, 11 June 2020   – “Important step for national radioactive waste facility in South Australia.” – here it is –

Legislation has been introduced to federal parliament that will pave the way for a critical piece of national infrastructure to support the increasing use of nuclear medicine in Australia and provide an economic boost to a regional South Australian
community. The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill today passed through the House of Representatives.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said it’s an important milestone for the establishment of the facility.

“Governments have been attempting to find a solution to this issue for decades and today our Government has taken a
significant step in bringing the process to a conclusion,” Minister Pitt said.

My Response That just shows how hopeless and incompetent the government has been on this issue and still cannot do everything correctly and in an acceptable manner under internationally prescribed standards.

Moreover the government lacks the capacity or simply does not want to follow and adopt the most recent developments and advances in the field of nuclear waste disposal and storage.

The legislation will confirm the site near Kimba in South Australia as the home for the facility that will allow the continued growth of nuclear medicine in Australia.

My Response This has nothing to do with nuclear medicine and is a most dishonest representation. It again shows bad planning on the part of the government, particularly as the new nuclear medicine facility at Lucas Heights for the production of molybdenum is having persistent problems which could have led to a total shutdown last year. 

Interestingly there was little public reporting of these problems by either ANSTO or ARPANSA as the regulatory authority which as a result had to issue only an interim operating licence.

“The site was one of 28 across the country that was voluntarily nominated, followed by extensive engagement and consultation with the surrounding community that has shown broad support for the project,” Minister Pitt said.

My ResponseThere have not been 28 voluntary nominations or the extensive  engagement and consultations particularly as there has been no contact by the government with the Azark Project at Leonora in Western Australia since early 2018.

“There has also been extensive engagement with other stakeholders during this process, including with Traditional Owners.”

My Response Again, there has been no extensive engagement with Traditional Owners, particularly as the Azark Project has far more internationally based scientific and technical knowledge available to it in the areas of nuclear chemistry and engineering as to waste then possessed by the government through ANSTO and CSIRO There has not been any contact even with the traditional owners\ of the Azark site at Leonora.

Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey, said the local community has heard enough and just wants work on the facility to begin. “I thank the landholders who nominated their properties and have been the centre of attention ever since and I also thank the whole community for engaging in the consultation process,” Mr Ramsey said.

My ResponseRamsey is being disingenuous as in all probability the proposal for Napandee will have difficulty getting the necessary licences for its establishment and operations.

No work can begin until those licences are issued.

The land owners concerned did not voluntarily nominate their properties but only did so at the suggestion of Ramsey and the government through the then Department of Industry Innovation and Science, since other properties in the Kimba region were found unsuitable.

The government has refused to produce the nomination forms for the properties at Napandee and Lyndhurst, as they were apparently filled out for them by the Department’s staff.

“Of course there are differing views, but the whole community has made a decision and most are looking forward to the commencement of work.”

My ResponseThis is absolute rubbish as Ramsey knows that there are many people who are against the proposed facility and if a proper and fully informed plebiscite were held then the government would struggle to get approval for its ill-conceived proposals.

Whichever way it is examined the government has failed to provide sufficient information for an informed decision or consent by the selected voters for the Kimba ballots and excluded many other persons who should have had a vote on this important issue.

Minister Pitt said the legislation will now head to the Senate and called on Labor and the cross-benchers to support the project.

My ResponseWishful thinking as discussions with both the opposition and cross-benchers in the Senate are already suggestive of lack of support for the legislation.

“Suggestions that a site in the Woomera area could be used for the facility are simply not practical due to the increase in Defence Force training activities that will limit access to the area,” Minister Pitt said.

My Response  Is not the real reason that the Defence Force does not trust or rely on ANSTO and will not work with it in containing or disposing of any nuclear waste as Defence wants to retain complete control of its nuclear material?

“The passage of this Bill, and the construction of the facility, is crucially important to the future of nuclear medicine in Australia, which will benefit two in three Australians”.

My Response This, as already mentioned, has nothing to do with the future of nuclear medicine in Australia and this is confirmed by overseas experts who regard the proposals for Kimba as unrealistic and uncommercial with an obvious lack of research.

“Currently the waste is stored in around 100 locations across the country, including hospital basements, research facilities and universities”.

My Response Yes but only a relatively small portion of this waste is under the control of the federal government and again, from discussions with state government and private institutions having waste, is that they will not use the facility as they regard ANSTO as completely unreliable.

“The project at Kimba will support the future growth of nuclear medicine in Australia, and provide new job and economic opportunities for a South Australian regional community.”

My Response How will this support the future growth of nuclear medicine in Australia as its production has nothing to do with the storage issue?

Equally the numbers of 45 new jobs or others stated by the government are completely unrealistic, as much larger similar facilities overseas have only a fraction of that staff complement.

To be quite clear about the situation:

1. Even though it claims that it has not raised any concerns regarding the storage of waste at what is known as the interim waste storage facility at Lucas Heights, ARPANSA still requires ANSTO under existing licensing arrangements to report by 30 June 2020 on the plans for the storage and disposal of that waste.

2. This came about because when this waste was returned by the end of 2015 from overseas reprocessing, the intended storage facility for it which is described as the national radioactive waste management facility was not available.

3. As a result ARPANSA permitted by licence for ANSTO to temporarily store the reprocessed waste at the interim waste storage facility at Lucas Heights but on the condition that ANSTO provides plans for the final management of that waste by its removal.

4. It follows that the urgency is for the government through ANSTO to have firm plans for the removal by being able to specify the proposed facility at Napandee for that purpose.

5. This is obviously the reason for the rushed legislative process which will probably involve debating the bill in the Senate before the existing committee inquiry is completed.

6. A similar condition has been imposed by ARPANSA under the licence for ANSTO to operate the new nuclear medicine facility at Lucas Heights.

7. The waste in question is classified by the government as being of intermediate level but it is at the higher end of that class as to volatility and was classified as high level waste by France when being returned to ANSTO after reprocessing.

8. It is this level of waste about which the government has been rather backward in providing any information of a public nature as by the international safety prescriptions it should even for temporary storage be by appropriate geological burial which is simply not possible at Kimba.

9. It is a major reason for the obvious difficulties that ANSTO will encounter in trying to get the necessary licences for the storage facility at Napandee.

10. The other important aspect of the government’s proposals will be the disclosure by ANSTO of the inventory of radionuclides applicable to that waste which becomes the determining factor of the manner of storage and ultimate disposal to be used for that waste. That is why the level or quantum of radionuclides should be the first issue examined by the Senate inquiry as it will form the basis of the safety case and even indicate whether the Napandee facility plans should be pursued.

11. The ridiculous part of all of this is that the government has persistently refused to consider the Azark Project facility at Leonora , which would readily overcome the problems of storage and ultimate disposal of the intermediate level waste in a completely acceptable manner in accordance with all international standards and at a fraction of the cost of the government’s proposals.

June 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Ben Heard and the fake environment group ‘Bright New World’

Ben Heard and the fake environment group ‘Bright New World’ that accepts secret corporate donations, Jim Green, Nuclear Free Campaign, Friends of the Earth 

For factual rebuttals of the misinformation promulgated by other nuclear advocates, please visit: https://nuclear.foe.org.au/propaganda/

Ben Heard – corporate-funded greenwasher   Ben Heard is arguably the most aggressive and abusive of Australia’s nuclear advocates − see for example this temper tantrum and compare it with the matter-of-fact tone of the paper he is attacking. He has repeatedly indulged in personal, defamatory attacks.Like so many other nuclear advocates, Heard very rarely or never says or does anything about the problems of the nuclear industry such as its systemic racism (abundantly evident in his home state, South Australia) or the inadequate nuclear safeguards system.

A mining industry magazine article says that Heard was “once a fervent anti-nuclear campaigner”. However Heard never had any involvement whatsoever in anti-nuclear campaigning. Heard made no effort to correct the error in the magazine article – indeed he put the article, uncorrected, on his own website. His website was later corrected, but only after his dishonesty was publicly exposed. Likewise, Heard made no effort to correct an ABC article which describes him as a “former anti-nuclear advocate”.

A November 2015 ABC article falsely describes Heard as a scientist. It isn’t clear whether this was an error by the ABC or the latest fabrication and misrepresentation by Heard. Either way, it’s a safe bet that Heard won’t be correcting the error. And again in March 2016, Heard was described as a scientist in the media (inDaily); and again it’s a safe bet that Heard won’t correct the error.

Heard has a recurring disclosure problem. He rarely disclosed his consulting work for uranium company Heathgate when spruiking for the nuclear industry. More recently, he rarely discloses corporate funding – indeed his fake environment group has a policy of accepting secret corporate donations. He said the reason he rarely disclosed his consulting work with Heathgate was that it was mentioned on his website. So any time you hear anyone speaking about anything in the media, it’s your responsibility to do a web-search to see if they have a financial interest!

Heard’s university supervisor was none other than Barry Brook, best known for insisting there was no risk of a serious accident at Fukushima even as multiple meltdowns were in full swing, and for promoting a bogus ‘outstanding scientist’ award on his university website and leaving it there long after he knew it was bogus.

Ben Heard’s “outright lie”, massive hypocrisy and extreme censorship

June 2020 ‒ Long story short … RenewEconomy published a FoE article about small modular reactor economics. Ben Heard demanded a right of reply. RenewEconomy told him that anyone is welcome to submit a contribution and it would be reviewed. Heard said he had been denied a reply. That was an “outright lie” according to the RenewEconomy editor. Anyhoo … Heard’s response to the FoE article was published on his Bright New World website. He denied me a right of reply (!) so I replied in the comments section and my comments were deleted by Heard! And my comment alerting readers to a substantive response on this FoE webpage was not published!

An “outright lie”, massive hypocrisy and extreme censorship … all in a day’s work for Australia’s foremost ‘ecomodernist’ and his lobby group (which accepts secret corporate donations from the nuclear industry).

Here are the comments censored by Heard.

Ben Heard: “Then find the cost estimates, add them up and divide it by three, and float that as the cost of SMR nuclear that will inform decision-making in Australia.”

Response: Yes, real-world SMR construction cost data is limited but it is a better guide than self-serving industry claims. Also relevant are real-world data about cost overruns including the huge overruns with SMR projects and the A$10+ billion-dollar overruns with large reactors in western Europe and the US.

Ben Heard: “If Friends of the Earth thinks +50% is too low, they could have stated their reasoning, made their case (succinctly, if at all possible) and proposed their loading.”

Response: The general recent pattern is that EARLY vendor estimates underestimate true costs by an order of magnitude (see my article – citing AP1000s, EPRs, and Argentina’s SMR as examples), while estimates around the time of initial construction underestimate true costs by a factor of 2-4 (numerous examples cited in my article).

So a 100% loading above NuScale’s estimate would be the minimum starting point.

Note that the WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff LCOE estimate for a NuScale SMR (A$225 or ~US$150 per MWh) is 2.5 times greater than NuScale’s estimate, and it is roughly twice the BNW estimate.

Ben Heard: “We went with vendor first-of-a-kind estimate +50%, consistent with this being a Class 4 cost estimate, independently verified, based on well-known and understood technology …”

Response: None of that changes the fact that real-world projects have been subject to vastly greater cost overruns.

Ben Heard: “We look forward to the author securing employment with a major accounting firm and explaining this [that NuScale’s cost estimate is bollocks] the next time the estimates are verified.”

Response: Heard himself adds a 50% loading. WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff’s LCOE estimate is 2.5 times greater than NuScale’s estimate. No-one believes NuScale’s estimate.

Ben Heard: “Friends of the Earth didn’t understand ‘Class 4 estimate’. It is a defined term, established for estimates of engineer/procure/construct in civil projects. This is clearly described in our submission. We doubt they read it.”

Response: Yes, I do understand the term and have read your various articles and submissions – and referenced three of them at the top of my article. The real-world evidence, for both small and large reactors, demonstrates that Class 4 estimates need a rethink, especially the demonstrably false assertion that a 50% loading will cover any conceivable overruns.

Ben Heard: “‘NuScale’s estimate (per kW) is just one-third of the cost of the Vogtle plant’. Drawing comparison with large nuclear units, the very paradigm SMR is devised to disrupt, while not entirely irrelevant, is pretty dubious.”

Response: The relevance is that there is a solid body of expert opinion that construction costs per kW and LCOE will be greater for SMRs compared to large reactors. For example a 2015 report by the IEA and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency predicts that costs per MWh for SMRs will typically be 50−100% higher than for current large reactors, and a UK report estimated a 30% cost increase per MWh.

Ben Heard: “‘BNW objected to the previous CSIRO/AEMO estimate of five years for construction of an SMR and proposed a “more probable” three-year estimate’. We neither objected, nor proposed a ‘more probable’ 3 years, nor even used the words ‘more probable’!”

Response: From the cited BNW paper: “No SMR developer is working on the basis of 5-year construction. This would also raise the LCOE considerably compared with a more probable 3 three years on the basis of what those bringing SMR to market are actually devising.”

As noted in my article, SMR projects typically take about a decade from start of construction to completion or near-completion (8 to 12.5 years).

Ben Heard: “‘100% agreed with Friends of the Earth [that there’s no empirical basis, nor any logical basis, for the learning rate assumed in the GenCost report]. There remains lack of transparency and replicability as regards the SMR learning rates applied in GenCost.”

Response: So do the maths … what is a reasonable learning rate based on the 12.5 year Russian floating plant?

What is a reasonable learning rate based on the Argentinian SMR, conceived in the 1980s, with construction of the first prototype currently stalled due to the project’s ‘serious financial breakdown’?

What is a reasonable learning rate based on mPower, abandoned after the expenditure of US$500 million and before construction of a first prototype began?

What is the learning rate for fast neutron reactors? That question could be answered based on 70 years of mostly-failed projects and would usefully inform current SMR / Gen 4 debates. My guess is that the FNR learning rate is negative.

What are the learning rates for large light water reactors? Well, we can answer that question, and I did so in my article: a very slow learning rate with modest cost decreases, or a negative learning rate.

Heard / Bright New World claims about SMR learning rates are 100% speculative.

Ben Heard: “‘Even with heroic assumptions resulting in CSIRO/AEMO’s low-cost estimate of A$129 per MWh…’. Friends of the Earth has studiously avoided all of the other necessary corrections identified by Bright New World, in particular operating costs and capacity factor, which bring this right down to more like $100/MWh.”

We have considered all the real-world data and plenty more besides. That research is synthesised in the RenewEconomy article and there’s loads more info in submissions such as this:

 

Our conclusions are shared by informed expert opinion (cited in the submission), e.g. the pro-nuclear US academic researchers who concluded that for SMRs to make a significant contribution to US energy supply, “several hundred billion dollars of direct and indirect subsidies would be needed to support their development and deployment over the next several decades”.

Ben Heard: “‘NuScale Power…hasn’t yet begun construction of a single prototype’. The reference case technology uses the most commercially established fuel cycle in the world, with standard fuel.”

Response: mPower was based on conventional light water technology, but still went bust after the expenditure of US$500 million. Rolls-Royce is proposing light water technology for SMRs in the UK but won’t proceed unless and until a long list of demands are met and hefty subsidies granted…….. https://nuclear.foe.org.au/ben-heard-secret-corporate-donations/?fbclid=IwAR3GNEcscxXXrxshahmX6K76lufOPFnr6QXcgXnQrSnG_LAVjK8uw1poX24

 

June 26, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Reality bats last-Small Nuclear Reactors just not economic for Australia (or anywhere else)

 

Small modular reactor rhetoric hits a hurdle  https://reneweconomy.com.au/small-modular-reactor-rhetoric-hits-a-hurdle-62196/    Jim Green, 23 June 2020, The promotion of ‘small modular reactors’ (SMRs) in Australia has been disrupted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The latest GenCost report produced by the two agencies estimates a hopelessly uneconomic construction cost of A$16,304 per kilowatt (kW) for SMRs. But it throws the nuclear lobby a bone by hypothesising a drastic reduction in costs over the next decade.

The A$16,304 estimate has been furiously attacked by, amongst others, conservative politicians involved in a federal nuclear inquiry last year, and the Bright New World (BNW) nuclear lobby group.

The estimate has its origins in a commissioned report written by engineering company GHD. GHD provides the estimate without clearly explaining its origins or basis. And the latest CSIRO/AEMO report does no better than to state that the origins of the estimate are “unclear”.

Thus nuclear lobbyists have leapt on that muddle-headedness and filled the void with their own lowball estimates of SMR costs. 

Real-world data

Obviously, the starting point for any serious discussion about SMR costs would be the cost of operational SMRs – ignored by CSIRO/AEMO and by lobbyists such as BNW.

There is just one operational SMR, Russia’s floating plant. Its estimated cost is US$740 million for a 70 MW plant.

That equates to A$15,200 per kW – similar to the CSIRO/AEMO estimate of A$16,304 per kW.

Over the course of construction, the cost quadrupled and a 2016 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency report said that electricity produced by the Russian floating plant is expected to cost about US$200 (A$288) per megawatt-hour (MWh) with the high cost due to large staffing requirements, high fuel costs, and resources required to maintain the barge and coastal infrastructure.

Figures on costs of SMRs under construction should also be considered – they are far more useful than the estimates of vendors and lobbyists, which invariably prove to be highly optimistic. 

The World Nuclear Association states that the cost of China’s high-temperature gas-cooled SMR (HTGR) is US$6,000 (A$8,600) per kW.

Costs are reported to have nearly doubled, with increases arising from higher material and component costs, increases in labour costs, and increased costs associated with project delays.

The CAREM SMR under construction in Argentina illustrates the gap between SMR rhetoric and reality. In 2004, when the reactor was in the planning stage, Argentina’s Bariloche Atomic Center estimated an overnight cost of USS$1,000 per kW for an integrated 300-MW plant (while acknowledging that to achieve such a cost would be a “very difficult task”).

When construction began in 2014, the cost estimate was US$15,400 per kW (US$446 million / 29 MW). By April 2017, the cost estimate had increased US$21,900 (A$31,500) per kW (US$700 million / 32 MW).

To the best of my knowledge, no other figures on SMR construction costs are publicly available. So the figures are:

A$15,200 per kW for Russia’s light-water floating SMR

A$8,600 per kW for China’s HTGR

A$31,500 per kW for Argentina’s light-water SMR

The average of those figures is A$18,400 per kW, which is higher than the CSIRO/AEMO figure of A$16,304 per kW and double BNW’s estimate of A$9,132 per kW.

The CSIRO/AEMO report says that while there are SMRs under construction or nearing completion, “public cost data has not emerged from these early stage developments.” That simply isn’t true.

BNW’s imaginary reactor

BNW objects to CSIRO/AEMO basing their SMR cost estimate on a “hypothetical reactor”. But BNW does exactly the same, ignoring real-world cost estimates for SMRs under construction or in operation.

BNW starts with the estimate of US company NuScale Power, which hopes to build SMRs but hasn’t yet begun construction of a single prototype. BNW adds a 50% ‘loading’ in recognition of past examples of nuclear reactor cost overruns.

Thus BNW’s estimate for SMR construction costs is A$9,132 per kW.

Two big problems: NuScale’s cost estimate is bollocks, and BNW’s proposed 50% loading doesn’t fit the recent pattern of nuclear costs increasing by far greater amounts.

NuScale’s construction cost estimate of US$4,200 per kW is implausible. It is far lower than Lazard’s latest estimate of US$6,900-12,200 per kW for large reactors and far lower than the lowest estimate (US$12,300 per kW) of the cost of the two Vogtle AP1000 reactors under construction in Georgia (the only reactors under construction in the US).

NuScale’s estimate (per kW) is just one-third of the cost of the Vogtle plant – despite the unavoidable diseconomies of scale with SMRs and despite the fact that independent assessmentsconclude that SMRs will be more expensive to build (per kW) than large reactors.

Further, modular factory-line production techniques were trialled with the twin AP1000 Westinghouse reactor project in South Carolina – a project that was abandoned in 2017 after the expenditure of at least US$9 billion, bankrupting Westinghouse.

Lazard estimates a levelised cost of US$118-192 per MWh for electricity from large nuclear plants. NuScale estimates a cost of US$65 per MWh for power from its first plant. Thus NuScale claims that its electricity will be 2-3 times cheaper than that from large nuclear plants, which is implausible.

And even if NuScale achieved its cost estimate, it would still be higher than Lazard’s figures for wind power (US$28-54) and utility-scale solar (US$32-44). BNW claims that the CSIRO/AEMO levelised cost estimate of A$258-338 per MWh for SMRs is an “extreme overestimate”.

But an analysis by WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff, prepared for the SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, estimated a cost of A$225 per MWh for a reactor based on the NuScale design, which is far closer to the CSIRO/AEMO estimate than it is to BNW’s estimate of A$123-128 per MWh with the potential to fall as low as A$60.

Cost overruns

BNW proposes adding a 50% ‘loading’ to NuScale’s cost estimate in recognition of past examples of reactor cost overruns, and claims that it is basing its calculations on “a first-of-a-kind vendor estimate [NuScale’s] with the maximum uncertainly associated with the Class of the estimate.” Huh?

The general pattern is that early vendor estimates underestimate true costs by an order of magnitude, while estimates around the time of initial construction underestimate true costs by a factor of 2-4.

Here are some recent examples of vastly greater cost increases than BNW allows for:

* The estimated cost of the HTGR under construction in China has nearly doubled.

 The cost of Russia’s floating SMR quadrupled.

* The estimated cost of Argentina’s SMR has increased 22-fold above early, speculative estimates and the cost increased by 66% from 2014, when construction began, to 2017.

* The cost estimate for the Vogtle project in US state of Georgia (two AP1000 reactors) has doubled to more than US$13.5 billion per reactor and will increase further. In 2006, Westinghouse said it could build an AP1000 reactor for as little as US1.4 billion – 10 times lower than the current estimate for Vogtle.

* The estimated combined cost of the two EPR reactors under construction in the UK, including finance costs, is £26.7 billion (the EU’s 2014 estimate of £24.5 billion plus a £2.2 billion increase announced in July 2017). In the mid-2000s, the estimated construction cost for one EPR reactor in the UK was £2 billion, almost seven times lower than the current estimate.

* The estimated cost of about €12.4 billion for the only reactor under construction in France is 3.8 times greater than the original €3.3 billion estimate.

* The estimated cost of about €11 billion for the only reactor under construction in Finland is 3.7 times greater than the original €3 billion estimate.

Timelines

BNW notes that timelines for deployment and construction are “extremely material” in terms of the application of learning rates to capital expenditure.

BNW objected to the previous CSIRO/AEMO estimate of five years for construction of an SMR and proposed a “more probable” three-year estimate as well as an assumption that NuScale’s first reactor will begin generating power in 2026 even though construction has not yet begun.

For reasons unexplained, CSIRO/AEMO also assume a three-year construction period in their latest report, and for reasons unexplained the operating life of an SMR is halved from 60 years to 30 years.

None of the real-world evidence supports the arguments about construction timelines:

* The construction period for the only operational SMR, Russia’s floating plant, was 12.5 years.

* Argentina’s CAREM SMR was conceived in the 1980s, construction began in 2014, the 2017 start-up date was missed and subsequent start-up dates were missed.

If the current schedule for a 2023 start-up is met it will be a nine-year construction project rather than the three years proposed by CSIRO/AEMO and BNW for construction of an SMR.

Last year, work on the CAREM SMR was suspended, with Techint Engineering & Construction asking Argentina’s National Atomic Energy Commission to take urgent measures to mitigate the project’s serious financial breakdown. In April 2020, Argentina’s energy minister announced that work on CAREM would resume.

* Construction of China’s HTGR SMR began in 2012, the 2017 start-up date was missed, and if the targeted late-2020 start-up is met it will be an eight-year construction project.

* NuScale Power has been trying to progress its SMR ambitions for over a decade and hasn’t yet begun construction of a single prototype reactor.

* The two large reactors under construction in the US are 5.5 years behind schedule and those under construction in France and Finland are 10 years behind schedule.

* In 2007, EDF boasted that Britons would be using electricity from an EPR reactor at Hinkley Point to cook their Christmas turkeys in December 2017 – but construction didn’t even begin until December 2018.

Learning rates

In response to relentless attacks from far-right politicians and lobby groups such as BNW, the latest CSIRO/AEMO GenCost report makes the heroic assumption that SMR costs will fall from A$16,304 per kW to as little as A$7,140 per kW in 2030, with the levelised cost anywhere between A$129 and A$336 per MWh.

The report states that SMRs were assigned a “higher learning rate (more consistent with an emerging technology) rather than being included in a broad nuclear category, with a low learning rate consistent with more mature large scale nuclear.”

But there’s no empirical basis, nor any logical basis, for the learning rate assumed in the report. The cost reduction assumes that large numbers of SMRs will be built, and that costs will come down as efficiencies are found, production capacity is scaled up, etc.

Large numbers of SMRs being built? Not according to expert opinion. A 2017 Lloyd’s Register report was based on the insights of almost 600 professionals and experts from utilities, distributors, operators and equipment manufacturers, who predicted that SMRs have a “low likelihood of eventual take-up, and will have a minimal impact when they do arrive”.

A 2014 report produced by Nuclear Energy Insider, drawing on interviews with more than 50 “leading specialists and decision makers”, noted a “pervasive sense of pessimism” about the future of SMRs.

Last year, the North American Project Director for Nuclear Energy Insider said that there “is unprecedented growth in companies proposing design alternatives for the future of nuclear, but precious little progress in terms of market-ready solutions.”

Will costs come down in the unlikely event that SMRs are built in significant numbers? For large nuclear reactors, the experience has been either a very slow learning rate with modest cost decreases, or a negative learning rate.

If everything went astonishingly well for SMRs, it would take several rounds of learning to drastically cut costs to A$7,140 per kW. Several rounds of SMR construction by 2030, as assumed in the most optimistic scenario in the CSIRO/AEMO report?

Obviously not. The report notes that it would take many years to achieve economies, but then ignores its own advice:

“Constructing first-of-a-kind plant includes additional unforeseen costs associated with lack of experience in completing such projects on budget. SMR will not only be subject to first-of-a-kind costs in Australia but also the general engineering principle that building plant smaller leads to higher costs. SMRs may be able to overcome the scale problem by keeping the design of reactors constant and producing them in a series. This potential to modularise the technology is likely another source of lower cost estimates. However, even in the scenario where the industry reaches a scale where small modular reactors can be produced in series, this will take many years to achieve and therefore is not relevant to estimates of current costs (using our definition).” 

Even with heroic assumptions resulting in CSIRO/AEMO’s low-cost estimate of A$129 per MWh for SMRs in 2030, the cost is still far higher than the low-cost estimates for wind with two hours of battery storage (A$64), wind with six hours of pumped hydro storage (A$86), solar PV with two hours of battery storage (A$52) or solar PV with six hours of pumped hydro storage (A$84).

And the CSIRO/AEMO high-cost estimate for SMRs in 2030 ($336 per MWh) is more than double the high estimates for solar PV or wind with 2-6 hours of storage (A$90-151).

Reality bats last 

 The economic claims of SMR enthusiasts are sharply contradicted by real-world data.

And their propaganda campaign simply isn’t working – government funding and private-sector funding is pitiful when measured against the investments required to build SMR prototypes let alone fleets of SMRs and the infrastructure that would allow for mass production of SMR components.

Wherever you look, there’s nothing to justify the hype of SMR enthusiasts.

Argentina’s stalled SMR program is a joke. Plans for 18 additional HTGRs at the same site as the demonstration plant in China have been “dropped” according to the World Nuclear Association.

Russia planned to have seven floating nuclear power plants by 2015, but only recently began operation of its first plant. South Korea won’t build any of its domestically-designed SMART SMRs in South Korea – “this is not practical or economic” according to the World Nuclear Association – and plans to establish an export market for SMART SMRs depend on a wing and a prayer … and on Saudi oil money which is currently in short supply.

‘Reality bats last’, nuclear advocate Barry Brook used to say a decade ago when a nuclear ‘renaissance’ was in full-swing.

The reality is that the renaissance was short-lived, and global nuclear capacity fell by 0.6 gigawatts last year while renewable capacity increased by a record 201 gigawatts.

Dr. Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter.  

June 23, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Town of Kimba depicted as failing, desperate to have nuclear waste dump for its survival

June 13, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, secrets and lies, spinbuster | Leave a comment

An Email from Stichting Thorium MSR — The Industry Push to Force Nuclear Power in Australia

Why is the Majority Report of the Australian Senate here: https://www.aph.gov.au/-/media/02_Parliamentary_Business/24_Committees/243_Reps_Committees/EnvironmentEnergy/Nuclear_energy/Full_Report.pdf?la=en&hash=2826513C078551487B8265502776DAD5D23EB71D so full of misinformation and a totally false set of technical assertions???

via An Email from Stichting Thorium MSR — The Industry Push to Force Nuclear Power in Australia

May 26, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

The false economics promised by the government’s National Radioactive Waste Management plan

on all proper assessments and studies it is quite clear that the suggested benefits will not become a reality and in fact may lead to a deterioration in the value of the farming lands and residential properties at Kimba due the presence of the nuclear waste facility.

the government is doing no more than attempting to  create a false economy which regrettably is being seized on by some members of the Kimba community as the misconceived salvation of its present depressed rural conditions which are actually common to the rest of Australia.

This is an extract from  Peter Remta  – submission to Senate Committee on National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020   [Provisions] Submission 65

“………FINANCIAL GRANTS
The government has made significant financial grants to Kimba and also previously Hawker to gain community approval for its proposals. While it is a little difficult to ascertain the exact amounts of the grants the list of
recipients indicates that many of them were for rather nebulous and unnecessary purposes with little support or justification. In December 2018 the government first mentioned a so called community purposes
grant of $31million  but failed to provide full details of the grant and its application.

Eventually it was explained that this grant would be a community development package to build economic capacity skills and resilience within those communities and to help realise the economic benefits of hosting the facility.

The three components of the package were:
(a) $8 million for community skills and development
(b) $3 million from the government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy to support economic opportunities for the local Aboriginal community
(c) $20 million as a community fund to contribute towards a range of community focused projects including sustainable health services agricultural research and development and enhancements to local infrastructure such as roads and telecommunications

Even if component (a) were excluded the remaining applications of money should be part of the normal expenditure by the federal and state governments and be completely unrelated to and independent of the community’s  acceptance of the facility.

In fact the local Aboriginal community considers that the moneys from the Advancement Strategy would be available to it in any event under previous arrangements.

Yet at the Senate estimates hearing on 21 February 2019 Manager Chard of the so called national radioactive waste management taskforce stated on behalf of the Department that the community development package of $31 million (she referred to it as $30 million) was being “enshrined” in legislation because this was requested by the community.

She also said that fund – being presumably the component of $20 million of the total package – was “not dependent on the legislation change” since it was envisaged that a fund would be established to support the community when the existing legislation was “conceived” in 2012 even though there had never been any public release or mention of the package and its value until December 2018.

ECONOMIC BENEFITS

The  government has constantly promoted the notion and claimed that the establishment of the facility will lead to significant economic benefits for the Kimba region and its community.

The argument espoused and promoted by the government is that Kimba is a dying agricultural area with no future prospects of revival and consequently the establishment of the facility will provide significant increased employment and other infrastructure benefits ensuring its future for an even quoted figure of 300 years. The economic prospects for Kimba would also be augmented and improved by the intended grants from the government already described as the community development package.

However on all proper assessments and studies it is quite clear that the suggested benefits will not become a reality and in fact may lead to a deterioration in the value of the farming lands and residential properties at Kimba due the presence of the nuclear waste facility.

Based on proper and considered financial advice it seems that the government is doing no more than attempting to  create a false economy which regrettably is being seized on by some members of the Kimba community as the misconceived salvation of its present depressed rural conditions which are actually common to the rest of Australia.

This is a completely wishful but unrealistic perception since it has already been shown by other examples that the facility would in a normal commercial sense need less than 10 workers unlike the government’s constantly quoted figure of 45 workers. Moreover the construction of the facility at Kimba will probably be carried out by already qualified and well experienced contractors from outside of Kimba and their presence during the building stage will add little to the local community……….”

May 25, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, secrets and lies, spinbuster | Leave a comment

John Barilaro got it so wrong about Britain and small nuclear reactors

May 18, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Australian govt’s devious ploy to further dispossess the Bangarla Aboriginal people

First Nations communities continue to be left behind,   Eureka Street,  Michele Madigan -22 Apr 20  “………..As well as their own real fears for their health in the COVID-19 pandemic as documented in their recent submission (number 25) to the Senate Standing Economics Legislation Committee of Inquiry the Barngarla peoples of South Australia’s Eyre Peninisula are being forced to counter attempts to further their dispossession in new schemes by federal government. The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Committee (BDAC) plead with the federal government to delay the current procedures so that the public hearings regarding the site of the federal nuclear waste facility in the Kimba region may take place ‘on Country’ rather than by teleconference, which would greatly disadvantage their cause.

Even more seriously, the BDAC submission (among others) denounces the purposeful strategy by the Resources Minister in refusing to make a formal declaration. Instead, the Minister made ‘a policy decision’ in naming the chosen site of Napandee, having ‘presented it as a declaration’.

BDAC points out, ‘The Government is now seeking to legislate directly, as an indirect but very effective means to prevent judicial oversight.’ That is, the Minister is seeking to change the current legislation of the National Radioactive Waste Management Act so that Parliament itself will ‘select’ Napandee as the site and thereby stopping any judicial oversight of anything untoward in the long administrative process to date.

As the BDAC submission summarises, ‘This is highly concerning to the Barngarla people as it should be to all Australians.’

In the last few days, the federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has written a report critical of the treatment of Barngarla Traditional Owners. It is a unanimous report, endorsed by Coalition members of the Committee.

And there we have it. As Aboriginal communities still await the needed funding to ensure their survival during this pandemic, the wheels of another government ministry are confidently seeking to further dispossess and disempower by such proposed legislation. Shameful indeed.

Michele Madigan is a Sister of St Joseph who has spent the past 38 years working with Aboriginal people in remote areas of SA, in Adelaide and in country SA. Her work has included advocacy and support for senior Aboriginal women of Coober Pedy in their campaign against the proposed national radioactive dump.     https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/first-nations-communities-continue-to-be-left-behind?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Wednesday%2022%20April%202020&utm_content=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Wednesda

April 23, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics, secrets and lies, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Fact-checking the false nuclear claims of NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s nuclear falsehoods https://nuclear.foe.org.au/barilaro/Correcting the nuclear falsehoods of NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro. Mr. Barilaro has been repeatedly provided with factual information so there is no excuse for his ignorance., March 2020, Jim Green, FoE Australia national nuclear campaigner, jim.green@foe.org.au

Mr. Barilaro: Nuclear power is “probably the cheapest cost to the average Australian household”.

Facts:

* Nationals Senator Matt Canavan acknowledges that nuclear power is “very expensive”.

* Industry insiders and lobbyists freely acknowledge that nuclear power is suffering from an economic crisis that could prove to be terminal.

* Nuclear power is in decline worldwide and a growing number of countries are phasing out nuclear power including Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Taiwan and South Korea.

* Laws banning nuclear power has saved Australia from the huge costs associated with failed and failing reactor projects in Europe and North America, such as the twin-reactor project in South Carolina that was abandoned in 2017 after the expenditure of at least A$13.4 billion, bankrupting Westinghouse. That expensive fiasco could so easily have been replicated in NSW if not for the prudent legal ban.

* There are many other examples of shocking nuclear costs and cost overruns, including:

‒ The cost of the two reactors under construction in the US state of Georgia has doubled and now stands at A$20.4‒22.6 billion per reactor.

‒ The cost of the only reactor under construction in France has nearly quadrupled and now stands at A$20.0 billion. It is 10 years behind schedule.

‒ The cost of the only reactor under construction in Finland has nearly quadrupled and now stands at A$17.7 billion. It is 10 years behind schedule.

‒ The cost of the four reactors under construction in the United Arab Emirates has increased from A$7.5 billion per reactor to A$10‒12 billion per reactor.

‒ The cost of the only two reactors under construction in the UK has increased to A$25.9 billion per reactor. A decade ago, the estimated cost was just A$4 billion. The UK National Audit Office estimates that taxpayer subsidies for the project will amount to A$58 billion.

Mr. Barilaro: “As I write this piece, a further 50 nuclear reactors are being built globally (450 reactors currently operate in 31 counties) including in Finland, France, the UK, China and Canada.”

Facts:

* The number of power reactors under construction has fallen steadily from 68 in 2013 to 49 as of Feb. 2020.

* As noted above, reactors under construction in Finland, France and the UK have been subject to catastrophic cost overruns.

* There has only been one reactor construction start in China in the past three years. The number of reactors under construction in China has fallen from 20 in 2017 to 10 now. Renewables generate twice as much electricity in China as nuclear power.

* No reactors are being built in Canada.

Mr. Barilaro on small modular reactors (SMRs): “Given their size and efficiency, their waste is minimal (new advancements in technology continues to address the waste issue)”.

Facts:

* SMRs would produce more nuclear waste per unit of energy produced compared to large reactors.

* A 2016 European Commission document states: “Due to the loss of economies of scale, the decommissioning and waste management unit costs of SMR will probably be higher than those of a large reactor (some analyses state that between two and three times higher).”

* Mr. Barilaro’s “new advancements” (‘Generation IV’ concepts) have failed spectacularly and have clearly worsened nuclear waste management problems (see p.42-43 of our joint submission to the NSW inquiry).

Mr. Barilaro: “The compact nature of SMRs means they need close to only 5 per cent of the nuclear fuel required for large conventional reactors.”

Fact: As the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission report noted: “SMRs have lower thermal efficiency than large reactors, which generally translates to higher fuel consumption and spent fuel volumes over the life of a reactor.”

Mr. Barilaro: SMRs are “becoming very affordable”.

Facts:

* Every independent economic assessment finds that electricity from SMRs will be more expensive than that from large reactors.

* SMRs will inevitably suffer from diseconomies of scale: a 250 MW SMR will generate 25% as much power as a 1,000 MW reactor  but it will require more than 25% of the material inputs and staffing, and a number of other costs including waste management and decommissioning will be proportionally higher.

* A December 2019 report by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator concluded that wind and solar power, including two to six hours of storage, is two to three times cheaper than power from small reactors per unit of energy produced. Nuclear lobbyists dispute the construction costs that underpin this estimate but, in fact, they are a neat fit with real-world construction costs (as opposed to self-serving industry speculation). Indeed the CSIRO/AEMO estimate is lower than the average cost of small-reactor projects in China, Russia and Argentina.

* SMRs in China, Russia and Argentina are, respectively, 2, 4 and 23 times over-budget. None could be described as “very affordable”.

Mr. Barilaro: SMRs “are now on the horizon”.

Facts:

* A handful of SMRs are under construction (half of them to power fossil fuel mining operations in the Arctic, the South China Sea and elsewhere).

* Private sector investment has been pitiful and the main game is to find governments reckless enough to bet billions of taxpayer dollars on high-risk projects. SMRs under construction are all being built by government agencies.

* The prevailing scepticism is evident in a 2017 Lloyd’s Register report based on the insights of almost 600 professionals and experts from utilities, distributors, operators and equipment manufacturers. They predict that SMRs have a “low likelihood of eventual take-up, and will have a minimal impact when they do arrive”.

* Likewise, a 2014 report produced by Nuclear Energy Insider, drawing on interviews with more than 50 “leading specialists and decision makers”, noted a “pervasive sense of pessimism” regarding SMRs.

Mr. Barilaro: SMRs are “not as water hungry as traditional nuclear power plants, because they use air or sand to cool the core.”

Facts:

* SMRs will likely use as much water per unit of energy produced compared to large reactors ‒ possibly more due to lower thermal efficiencies. Nuclear power, large or small, is incredibly thirsty: a typical large reactor consumes 35‒65 million litres of water per day. Gas cooling creates its own set of problems and inefficiencies, leading to higher costs ‒ that is why a very large majority of reactors are water-cooled.

* Sand to cool a reactor core? Perhaps he means sodium ‒ which has caused a number of fires in fast neutron reactors. Sand has only been used as a desperate measure in the event of major accidents, e.g. Chernobyl. Continue reading

March 12, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, spinbuster | Leave a comment

The climate denialist spin machine – the “Anti-Greta” in Australia

In denial: The spin machine upending the climate consensus, DW, 11 Mar, 20   Climate law rollbacks in the US and Australia have origins in libertarian think tanks that trade in climate denial. Investigative journalists have exposed how one is now trying to strip climate protections in Germany…….

….young and upcoming German YouTuber and “influencer,” Naomi Seibt.   Anti-Greta’

The 19-year-old was also in Madrid during the climate denial side event dubbed the Climate Reality Forum, where she spoke on behalf of Heartland. “These days, what scientists say about climate change isn’t really science,” she said.

Since her February 28 appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in the US, global media has dubbed the self-described “climate realist” as the “anti-Greta,” a rising counter to climate activist icon Greta Thunberg. Seibt has embraced the moniker, and during a FOX News interview on the eve of CPAC said that “CO2 emissions are not actually harmful to the planet” while also railing against “climate change propaganda.”………

Outsized influence.   In Australia, climate disinformation campaigns with Heartland links have also helped to depress support for climate action and roll back protections.

Nearly a decade ago, Australia instituted a carbon price and a tax on mining industry profits that made it a climate leader. But both those policies were repealed in 2014 following a misinformation campaign headed by Australia’s incoming conservative prime minister at the time, Tony Abbott — a poster boy for the Heartland Institute and a speaker at climate skeptic conferences who fearmongered about a “carbon tax.” Six years later, Australia is ranked last in climate policy among developed nations.

According to Australian scientist, author and climate analyst Ketan Joshi, a watershed moment in this reversal came in 2011 when Britain’s arch climate denier, Lord Christopher Monckton, told mining industry leaders that Australia needed a news outlet akin to Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News in the US to fight “bogus” climate science. Monckton also spoke at the Madrid climate skeptic conference in December.

Murdoch’s Sky News soon became that voice, says Joshi, the news channel hiring vocal climate skeptics as regular political pundits who call out “global warming rubbish.” Their voices also echo across Murdoch publications that make up around 70% of the print media market in Australia.

Naomi Seibt inevitably took her bow on Sky last week, telling viewers that Fridays for Future rallies in Germany had been infiltrated by radical anti-fascist protesters. Billed as the “anti-Greta sensation,” she also claimed that “Greta Thunberg never talks about the science,” and that climate alarmism will lead to “energy poverty.” This despite Thunberg’s now famous entreaty to “listen to the scientists.”

‘Instilling doubt’  “It’s not about the science,” says Joshi. “It’s about instilling doubt, it’s about making people distrust information that they receive — even if it’s from a trustworthy source.”

Back in Madrid, Taylor also offered the PRs the services of another young YouTuber, his daughter Tiffany. Her latest video argues that climate change has increased rainfall in Australia, and that the recent megafires were primarily caused by arsonists.

The discredited theory that arson was to blame for the intensity of Australia’s unprecedented bushfire season was pushed globally by climate deniers fighting back against the consensus that global heating is the culprit. Donald Trump, Jr, for example, helped the arsonist meme go viral by tweeting about an “exclusive” in Rubert Murdoch’s The Australian newspaper that promoted the debunked theory.  …….https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933

March 12, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors, (just like large) can survive only with massive government subsidies

March 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

“NuclearHistory” exposes the unpleasant facts about liquid fluoride thorium nuclear reactors

Some people believe that liquid fluoride thorium reactors, which would use a high temperature liquid fuel made of molten salt, would be significantly safer than current generation reactors. However, such reactors have major flaws. There are serious safety issues associated with the retention of fission products in the fuel, and it is not clear these problems can be effectively resolved. Such reactors also present proliferation and nuclear terrorism risks because they involve the continuous separation, or “reprocessing,” of the fuel to remove fission products and to efficiently produce U-233, which is a nuclear weapon-usable material. Moreover, disposal of theused fuel has turned out to be a major challenge. Stabilization and disposal of the
remains of the very small “Molten Salt Reactor Experiment” that operated at Oak
Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s has turned into the most technically challenging cleanup problem that Oak Ridge has faced, and the site has still not been cleaned up. Last updated March 14, 2019″ Source: Union of Concerned Scientists, at https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/nuclear_power/thorium-reactors-statement.pdf I wonder who is correct, The Union of Scientists or Mr. O’Brien and ScoMo?

The Industry Push to Force Nuclear Power in Australia, Part 1 of A Study of the “Report of the inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia” Australian Parliamentary Committee 2020.by nuclearhistory, February 29, 2020, “………Nuclear power enables the great powers to project power. It is a crucial geo-political influencer. If the committee has it’s way, we will be working with Russia and China and others on reactors they want to develop, that their own people have not had a say in, that are all based upon reactor designs first thought of in the 1950s, and where actual examples were built at that time, turned out to be unsafe failures which continue to present cost and risk at their sites to this day.

The committee’s first recommendation to government includes the following two sub parts:

“b. developing Australia’s own national sovereign capability in nuclear energy over time; and

c. procuring next-of-a-kind nuclear reactors only, not first-of-a- kind.” end quote.

If Australia becomes a nuclear powered nation, it will become subject to the directives of the IAEA in regard to the standards of those nuclear reactors and the procedures and actions which must take place in regard to them. Australia will also become subject to IAEA directives in regard to the standards and specifications of the Australian national energy grid. Further, the ICRP and other bodies will have an enhanced ability to direct and advise Australia and its people. Further international non proliferation requirements will dictate Australian actions regarding “special nuclear substances.” These requirements including control of information – security provisions – regarding the use of and production of “special nuclear substances”. As is true all over the world, nuclear industries are alone in that they do not, indeed cannot, fully disclose operational matters to share holders. This hardly renders Australia and Australians in control of its own sovereign nuclear technology.
Collaborator nations can be expected to demand certain requirements from Australia in return for their help. In the case of China, which wishes to produce small, light reactors of new types partially to provide a means by which it can quickly transform its navy into a nuclear one, in particular, there may well be special requirements placed upon Australia in return for Chinese collaboration. Who knows what Putin will demand in return for Russian collaboration . America might want many things in return. And so on. No nation which might help Australia would want Australia to benefit to the point where we might gain too much control and power over nuclear facilities located in this country.

“procuring next-of-a-kind nuclear reactors only, not first-of-a- kind” How refreshing that the Committee does not want the first gen iv type reactors – the Fermi 1 and Monju type for example. Those dangerous failures that sit like wounded Albatross in the US and Japan and continue to demand taxpayer funds. The failure of Monju, which has long been foreseen by many, renders the original basis for the Japanese nuclear industry subject to severe doubt. As result of vastly improved safety standards, fuel reprocessing in Japan is in doubt, its future course uncertain, and the nature of high level waste management has been an even more pressing issue.

In any event, it is my view that  the new  types of reactor China is experimenting with are dual use.  That is, they have both military and civilian uses in China. There is little overt opposition to either in China as protest in that nation is dangerous, costly and often lethal. I do not see it in Australia’s national interest to collaborate with Chinese nuclear reactor experimental development. Our contribution will probably speed the ascendancy of a Chinese nuclear navy, and the contribution to be made to Australia by a Chinese/Australian Gen IV is highly suspect, both in the short and long term, both in tactical and strategic terms. And if we are not to buy “first of a kind” reactors but “next of a kind” ones, does this mean we wont buy unproven experimental units but will buy unproven Mk1 production units which have not yet been used to supply power to a grid and which have proven that they fulfil the promises this Parliamentary Committee is making? No such reactors exist with a track record in service providing economic power to any nation grid. None have existed in such deployment and there is no service life span in commercial use for any of these “new” reactor types. 10 years would be the bare minimum to test such a unit over. Anything less is not satisfactory Continue reading

March 5, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, reference, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

Flinders University, South Australia: collusion with nuclear power promotion, Prof Pam Sykes, and the scam of “hormesis”

The Industry Push to Force Nuclear Power in Australia, Part 1 of A Study of the “Report of the inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia” Australian Parliamentary Committee 2020.by nuclearhistory, February 29, 2020“………….The most recent nuclear collaboration between Australia and a nuclear power for nuclear purposes commenced in the year 2000. At that time a US Department of Energy Contractor named Bobby Scott, based at Los Alamos and at Lovelace Respiratory Research Laboratory, New Mexico, came to Adelaide carrying contract documents. The documents were to be signed by the US DOE and involved personnel of Flinders University. Bobby Scott is a well known (to people in the field) as a leading advocate for the theory of radiation hormesis. The contract to be signed was the first of a number. From the time of the signing of that contract, Flinders University engaged in very strong advocacy of the expansion of nuclear industry in South Australia. Prof Pam Sykes was flown from Adelaide to Los Almos and undertook training and seminars in Hormesis. The concept that radioactive substances are, in her words, “like vitamins”.

I have fully explained that this unproven theory flies in the face of reality in terms of radiological safety and data from monitoring of dose and disease all over the world, including, contrary to the claims of the school hormesis, the naturally high background radiation regions of Iran and India. In those parts of Iran and India, (the five northern provinces in Iran, and Kerala in India) some cancer rates are among the highest in the world. Further, in those Iranian provinces breast cancer in teenage women is more common than it is even in the West. And so on. There are five types of cancer in northern Iran which have very high rates. In south western Kerala, the rates of female thyroid cancer is very, very high.

Contrary the to statements made by the school of hormesis, headquartered at Los Alamos, USA and Flinders University Adelaide. From 2000 on, Flinders University promoted the idea of radioactive substances such as uranium and its decay products and the fission products as being “like vitamins”, necessary for life. By 2011 the university was promoting the idea that an expansion of the state’s uranium mines would be good for the health of South Australians, because the natural background here is “too low” for good health. Presumably the transport of tons of additional uranium ore by train from the mines to the ports in open railway trucks would result in faint clouds of radionuclide “vitamins” being dispersed over the whole population of the state in precisely the right theoretical dose, taking into account, somehow, automatically, the age, gender and health status of each South Australian. (I didn’t write what Sykes did, so don’t blame me.). In 2011 the US DOE funded Flinders University put its pedal to the metal and flew into the debate, labelling South Australians who disagreed with it’s position in words which were insulting and which labelled us as lunatics, radiophobes and totally ignorant of radiological safety principles, cowardly, and devoid of reason. Read it here: https://news.flinders.edu.au/blog/2011/07/14/radiation-response-a-meltdown-in-reason/

At least in the piece the University acknowledges that Sykes is funded by American tax dollars paid to the University by a foreign government with a vested interest in obtaining cheap Australian uranium. One of the University’s programs, as explained by Sykes on Channel 7 in 2011 was to deliver healthy male volunteers of all ages radiation doses to their prostate glands to see what happened to those glands. For a fuller accounting of this foreign interference by the USA, using money to induce an Australian university to carry out US policy in terms of the South Australian uranium debate, see my submissions to the SA Royal Commission into the nuclear fuel cycle  here: https://www.academia.edu/14613296/Submission_to_the_South_Australian_Nuclear_Fuel_Cycle_Royal_Commission It’s not pretty, and it was a complete re run of the British/Australian nuclear collaboration of decades earlier (from which this country has not fully recovered). It continues today.
The presumption of nuclear industry and PR program, based as it is on the concepts of the arrogant Dr. Goldman (the last man to deny Chernobyl fallout caused childhood thyroid cancer). Any bullshit will do, just get consent or don’t worry about consent. That’s the line. I’m a doctor, you can’t argue with me. Yes i can sir. You are a liar. I expect Sykes to pop her head up again soon. I’m hoping TEPCO renames the Fukushima break water “The Sykes Health Spa and Resort”. Meanwhile, a bit later on the former SA Premier bobs up and says “Let’s discuss nuclear waste storage, because the northern hemisphere has a big problem with it, and they will pay us plenty to become their global dump. No one, much, lives on Eyre Peninsular, so we can bury the stuff there in tubes made from SA copper, which will last a million years. No worries.   We are working with the Swedes on the this. (I’d rather he’d worked with a pumpkin). We promise, the Premier said, never ever, in a zillion years, or for the life of this government, which ever comes first, to use our nuclear knowledge or nuclear resources for military purposes. Even as he spoke those words, he must have known he was wrong, because the supposed research the US paid for (via experiments the US DOE designed) was already being used by the US Air Force in its negotiations with the State of Nevada. The USAF wanted to fire more DU ammunition on the Fallon Air Firing Range, whereas the State of Nevada wanted less to be fired and more to be cleaned up. No joke, I have the letters, and the DOE publication which promotes it’s new you beaut hormesis technology. Which doesn’t work.
And so that brings me to current time. Hormesis research continues and remains unproven. No-one has solved the very high rates of certain cancers in naturally high radiation areas of Iran and India. And the USAF is still having to clean up its on going messing of the land in Nevada, while no one bothers about the DU littered battlefield of Europe and the Middle East. And the Chair of this nuclear committee, a highly skilled politician which a knowledge of China, reckons I and all I say is not worth while. This argument has been going on for many, many decades. The safety culture of the nuclear authorities is totally lame, pathetic and dangerous. I can imagine, on the basis of the past and on the basis of the changing geo-political future, what the results of Australian collaboration in nuclear energy with other nations will be.……  https://nonuclearpowerinaustralia.wordpress.com/2020/02/29/part-1-of-a-study-of-the-report-of-the-inquiry-into-the-prerequisites-for-nuclear-energy-in-australia-australian-parliamentary-committee-2020/

March 5, 2020 Posted by | reference, South Australia, spinbuster | 1 Comment