Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

MP Ted O’Brien’s “grassroots” survey linked to a firm that promotes NuScam’s small nuclear reactors

Coalition MP’s ‘grassroots’ nuclear power survey linked to consulting firm: Ted O’Brien’s Time to Talk Nuclear website was registered by business that helps US reactor company, Guardian, Daniel Hurst, 4 Dec 22,

Coalition frontbencher conducting a “grassroots” survey about nuclear power is using a website registered by a business that helps an American small modular reactor company, records reveal.

Ted O’Brien, the shadow minister for climate change and energy, issued a statement on Friday saying he was “launching a grassroots community engagement program” under the banner “Time to Talk Nuclear”.

He urged Australians to “join the conversation” by completing a short survey on the website, with the first question being: “What do you think could be the benefits of nuclear energy in Australia?”

Guardian Australia can reveal the web domain was registered by Helixos Pty Ltd, a Sydney-based consulting company whose projects include “supporting the commercialisation of new nuclear energy technology”.

Helixos lists the US company NuScale Power as one of its clients.

Helixos says on its own website that NuScale Power “is reinventing nuclear energy and Helixos is helping them bring it to market”. It adds: “Helixos also provides training for employees to become technology ambassadors and engage with stakeholders and the public.”

A search of domain records for O’Brien’s website shows the contact name for the domain registration is Lenka Kollar, a nuclear engineer who co-founded Helixos in 2020. She previously held the role of director of strategy and external relations for NuScale Power.

In that previous role, Kollar was “working to bring NuScale’s small modular reactor to market through business plan development and clean energy outreach”, according to a profile published in 2017.

Kollar addressed a Global Uranium Conference in Adelaide last month on the topic “reaching net zero with nuclear energy”.

In tweets summarising her speech, Kollar said: “The time is now for Australians to have a conversation on nuclear energy and potentially overturn the ban.”…………………………………………..

Helixos’s projects are listed openly on its own website.

It works with the Energy Policy Institute of Australia “on editing public policy papers to promote progressive, technology-inclusive energy policy”, including one focusing on “the ability of small modular reactors (SMRs) to support a ‘just transition’ for coal communities in Australia”.

Helixos states it worked with SMR Nuclear Technology Pty Ltd “to develop a proactive stakeholder engagement strategy” to “help achieve the main goal of having nuclear energy considered as part of Australia’s future energy mix”.

Robert Pritchard, who is both chair of SMR Nuclear Technology and executive director of the Energy Policy Institute of Australia, declined to comment…………………………….

The survey has only three mandatory questions, starting with views on the benefits of nuclear energy in Australia.

It then asks what concerns, if any, the participant holds about nuclear energy, followed by any questions they might have. There is an optional section to “stay informed” by submitting an email address and postcode to O’Brien’s team.

O’Brien’s website also sets out frequently asked questions such as: “Is nuclear energy clean?”

The answer states: “Yes! Nuclear power’s total life-cycle carbon emissions and raw material requirements are the lowest among other energy sources, even lower than wind and solar.”

The climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen, has previously accused the Coalition of pushing the nuclear debate as a “rearguard attempt to undermine and deny the transition to renewables”…………….  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/dec/04/coalition-mps-grassroots-nuclear-power-survey-linked-to-consulting-firm

December 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, spinbuster | Leave a comment

What do you think the arms trade is, a charity? Actually yes, that’s what it is

Michael West Media, by Callum Foote | Oct 7, 2022,

All’s not fair at the warfare Expo, where taxpayer-funded arms merchants hobnob with military types by invitation only. “Aggressive” journalists not allowed. Persona non grata Callum Foote reports on Land Forces 2022, Australia’s biggest War Fair.

Land Forces is the annual exposition for the defence industry, or the most profitable corporate welfare exercise in the country. 

Australia is the fourth largest importer of weapons in the world, behind Saudi Arabia, India and Egypt. It is roughly the 20th largest exporter of weapons. This is a disparity former Defence Minister Christopher Pyne, now a defence industry consultant, set out to rectify in 2018 with the launch of the $3 billion Defence Export Strategy after meeting with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan. Pyne, who was in attendance at Land Forces 2022, stated at the time the goal of making Australia a top-10 exporter.

Over the next decade, the Australian government will invest $200 billion in the Defence Force with an eye to support the weapons export industry. In line with these goals, Australian military spending has shot through the roof – from $10 billion in 2000 to just under $50 billion in the last budget. The big winners? Largely foreign multinational defence contractors, and plenty of small local ones too; they’re growing along with the public spending.

Land Forces is their gathering, the gathering of the year for those looking to earn a profit from this public investment. The conference brings in interest from international weapons makers such as Boeing and Thales as well as 700-odd smaller Australian manufacturers and service providers hoping to get in on the action.

Alms for arms

The company behind Land Forces, AMDA, formerly the Aerospace Maritime and Defence Foundation of Australia, is part of group of companies registered with Australian Charities and Non-for-profit Commission which operates around the country. 

Yes, that’s right: AMDA is a weapons charity; and despite its income of $10m-plus from defence contractors and governments, it also helped itself to JobKeeper subsidies, despite rising profits during the Pandemic.

t has 24 full-time-equivalent employees and had a total revenue in 2021 of $8.5 million – 13% of which came from government grants.

While revenue in 2021 was down from 2020, where the ‘‘charity’’ pulled in $10.5 million, profit was actually up from $2.1 to $3.5 million. Sales revenue also rose slightly in 2021 from $7.2 million to $7.4 million.

Where this charity’s financials differ from most, not even to begin discussing its purpose, is that as of 2021 AMDA has $32.5 million in assets, up from $28 million the year before, with over $10 million of that being in cash or cash equivalents. Were it not for JobKeeper, its large cash reserves would still be large but not quite so large. 

With all this cash, one would think that AMDA could weather any storm. Not so, according to the board which includes not one but two former chiefs of the Australian Navy, a former chief of Army and Air Force and a former CEO of Lockheed Martin Australia, who decided to take JobKeeper payments.

That’s right, over 2020 and 2021 AMDA took $1.2 million in JobKeeper payments, $870,000 in 2021 and $360,000 in 2020. 

In the same period the total remuneration to the key management personnel of the charity, people such as the CEO and the board members, was $1.5 million and $1.4 million respectively.

Despite the fact that this is public money, AMDA has refused to comment on whether it will be returning the taxpayer subsidies it took to line the coffers of its charity while increasing executive pay.

Embedded with the activists

The activists protesting outside the arms fair are up against a powerful foe, and they know it.

While protesting under the banner of Disrupt Land Forces, a campaign organised under the flag of activist organisation Wage Peace, the activists are reluctant to claim that they are a part of any organisation at all. It’s more of a community, they say.

Most protesters are wary of the media and wish to remain anonymous. There are members of more ‘‘hardcore’’ organisations such as Extinction Rebellion and Blockade Australia, 12 of which were arrested last June during civil action related to climate change.

On Tuesday morning, around 50 or so of the protesters gathered outside the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre entrance where a rally received moderate media attention from SBS and Channels 10 and Seven. 

These media outlets were really only interested in the Greens politicians, led by Senator  David Shoebridge, who briefly talked to the activists before clearing off. The cameras then left with them, leaving the activists to the rest of the weeks activities. 

Depending on who you ask, the goal of the protesters is to either meaningfully decrease the attendance of the conference or increase the cost of putting it on……………………………………………………..

A likely Coalition

Many of the protesters have been involved in activism for decades, such as Margie Pestorius, a spokesperson for Wage Peace who has been protesting since the late 1980s.

“I was part of the Melbourne Rainforest Action Group [MRAG] at its height in 1989. We blockaded ships carrying Malaysian rainforest timber threatening the livelihoods and lives of the Indigenous Penan and the ecosystems they had nurtured and lived with.”


Pestorius has since pivoted to anti-militarism activism, which lacks the same support as environmental causes here in Australia.

Among the protesters are Aunty Sue Haseldine, Indigenous elder from Kokatha country who has had to deal with the fallout of atomic weapons testing in her country. Now she has learnt that Souther Launch, an Australian space company who has “aligning their business goals with defence industry priorities” according to Thales will be testing on her land once again.

Aunty Sue says she will refuse to leave if testing goes ahead “If they’re going to destroy heritage then they’re going to destroy me too. That country out there is our church, our school, our spirituality, our pharmacy. It is shameful to know that these weapons will be tested on our country which will then be used to commit atrocities across the world” she told a crowd outside Thales’ office in Brisbane.

Uncle George Dimara from West Papua also spoke outside Thales, decrying the use of Australian-built Thales Bushmasters being used by Indonesian forces in West Papua.

Others include members from Teachers for Peace, a group of Australian teachers who are pushing back against what they see as the encroachment of defence industry spending in the education sector.

The protests lack the wide-scale support seen in the environmental movement such as the thousands strong marches that have taken place in Australia’s major cities over the past few years, but that doesn’t mean these activists are dismayed.

According to Adrian Heaney, a spokesperson for Wage Peace, “these protests have demonstrated our commitment to resisting the profit-fuelled arms race enabled by institutions like Land Forces. Arms fairs of this kind in Australia have been stopped before by people power—it’s our responsibility to continue this tradition. There is no time left for more murder, more destruction. We need collaboration, not more conflict.”  https://michaelwest.com.au/what-do-you-think-the-arms-trade-is-a-charity-actually-yes-thats-what-it-is/

October 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

‘Next generation’ nuclear is not a credible energy response – makes no sense for Australia- The Australian Conservation Foundation

 The pressing need to transition from fossil fuel energy to a low carbon future has seen renewed calls for domestic nuclear power in Australia. The Australian Conservation Foundation has recently reviewed scientific literature and industry practice from Australia and around to world to see if any developments in nuclear technology might have changed the role of this deeply contested power source.

Our findings are captured in a new report, which provides a clear pathway to a low carbon energy system. ACF is committed to effective climate action but maintains that ‘next generation’ nuclear is not a credible energy response and the pursuit of nuclear power in Australia makes no sense.

It would slow the transition to a low-carbon economy, increase electricity costs and unnecessarily introduce challenges and risks associated with high-level nuclear waste management including the potential for catastrophic accidents, with profound inter-generational economic implications for Australian taxpayers.

It is important to note that proponents of nuclear power in Australia are not calling for the deployment
of existing nuclear reactor technology. Instead, they are promoting ‘next generation’ nuclear technology which currently does not exist to scale.

 Australian Conservation Foundation 5th Oct 2022

https://www.acf.org.au/our-shared-energy-future-is-renewable-not-radioactive

October 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

‘Next-generation’ nuclear power a furphy

By Marion Rae, Canberra Times, October 5 2022 ,

Small-scale nuclear power for Australia’s remote mining sites and communities has been dismissed as toxic and too expensive.

Research released on Wednesday by the Australian Conservation Foundation found the nuclear option would increase power bills, risk catastrophic accidents and bring new challenges for dealing with waste………………..

The ACF report dismisses the new SMR technology as expensive and unviable, and found small reactors in Russia and China have been subject to serious delays and cost blowouts.

SMRs could not be introduced to Australia without huge taxpayer subsidies, and would result in higher electricity prices, the report said.

“While there are hopes and dreams of ramping up SMR production, the mass-manufacturing facilities needed to produce the technology are found nowhere in the world,” the report said.

Earlier this year, CSIRO estimated 2030 costs at up to $326 per megawatt hour for SMR-generated nuclear power compared to up to $82 for wind and solar in a grid powered 90 per cent by renewable electricity.

Federal energy agencies have also found the designs are at best “paper reactors” and billions of dollars away from being ready.

………………………………………… critics say mining, processing and transporting uranium is highly polluting, as is reactor construction and waste management over thousands of years. https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7929821/next-generation-nuclear-power-a-furphy/

October 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nukes Corp swings into action

THE BUG  

Do Australians want to embrace nuclear energy? While our Media Glass House researchers can’t provide a definitive answer to that question, they do know we are all about to be told we do need it and should want it.

A few weeks back Opposition Leader Peter Dutton floated the idea of embracing nuclear power as a way to deliver supposedly cheaper, more reliable base-load power, and emissions-free energy.

Mr Dutton is obviously in the business of differentiating himself from the “woke” Labor Party which has a policy opposed to nuclear power, apart from its use in new submarines apparently.

The Liberal Party leader even set out an implied deadline for when we should have nuclear power plants up and running – 2030.

“Sixty percent of the capacity of our coal-fired generators is expected to leave the market by 2030,” he warned.

So obviously the question of whether we go nuke or not (and therefore to vote Liberal or not) is set to be a big issue in the 2025 federal election.

It would be a big change and Mr Dutton has a big job ahead of him to convince his fellow Australians.

But, as always, the Liberals Party is already being given considerable assistance by the Liberal and National parties’ retained advertising agency, News Crap Australia.

Right on cue News Crap Australia and its army of right-wing columnists and commentators have been spruiking the Dutton talking points.

The national broadshit soon published an “exclusive” (what else?) story based on sources in the American nuclear power sector which claimed a nuclear power network across Australia made up of US-made (naturally) mini-reactors would be quite feasible. (below on original)

Apparently the power plants would take just three years each to build (a perfect fit for Dutton’s timeline) and the cost of power would be lower than solar once the cost of batteries is taken into account.

All that information came from the people making the power plants so we should believe them, right?

LNP Queensland Senator Matt Canavan, who sits with the Nationals in Canberra, has also used one of his regular columns to explain how badly we need to go nuke. (below on original)

At the weekend columnist Vikki Campion, a columnist whose partner is former Nats’ leader and nuclear supporter Barnaby Joyce, joined in. (below on original)

Liberal Party promoter, Sky News “after dark” ranter, and News Crap Australia columnist had a go in her column in News Crap Australia’s Sunday turdbloids. (below on original)

A 2011 poll by the Lowy Institute showed 62% of respondents were “somewhat against” or “strongly against” nuclear power while 25% were “strongly in favour” or “somewhat in favour”.

So, as we noted above, there’s a bit of a job to be done by Dutton and Co to make their case.

But, as always, they can rely on the support and advocacy of News Crap Australia.  https://thebugonline.com.au/2022/10/03/nukes-corp-swings-into-action/?fbclid=IwAR3kWQp1VD_vTGwQYEwHK2-k3wCzJJgXMLAjAH0lu01gFAMt1XfLqK3NC4w

October 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

The Australian nuclear lobby’s embarrassing claim about Kimba nuclear dump plan and nuclear medicine.

Peter Remta 3 Sept 22, Apparently the Australian government has instructed its Geneva legation to inform both the special rapporteur and the Human Rights Commissioner’s office that any attempts to stop Kimba will lead to a disastrous world shortage of nuclear medicine which will predominantly affect third world countries including the Pacific island nations.

What a great diplomatic masterstroke!

This gets better than Days of our Lives as the latest claim is that the opponents of the Kimba proposals are being financed by the overseas competitors to ANSTO in producing nuclear medicine

ANSTO has still failed to explain that the nuclear medicine being produced by it is becoming obsolete since the medical profession worldwide is turning away from it towards cheaper and above all far safer alternatives.

One of the major failings by the government in promoting the Kimba facility is that it never explained the true and unsafe nature of reactor generated nuclear medicine to the community with former Minister Keith Pitt being the main culprit.

No wonder ANSTO is now turning towards cosmetics as its main undertaking.

September 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Jenny Ware -A Liberal MP happily in the grip of the nuclear lobby

Some of the more inane comments promoting nuclear power for Australia have lately been voiced by Liberal MP Jenny Ware . She’s enthusiastically advocating nuclear to solve Australia’s electricity crunch prices. (a. Nuclear would not be operative for decades. b. Nuclear is the most costly source)

And she wants the Lucas Heights research reactor to provide electricity. Does she not know that there’s a bit of a difference between a research reactor and a commercial nuclear power plant? (There are a few other problems, too, but nuclear lobby mouthpieces don’t usually stretch to considering them.

from The Daily Telegraph – Nuclear the best medicine for power prices, says new MP Newly elected member for Hughes Jenny Ware has declared Australia has to start talking about adding nuclear into the mix, otherwise we won’t be able to keep the lights on.

James Morrow in The Chronicle writes Hughes MP Jenny Ware wants Lucas Heights nuclear reactor to help power Australia

August 1, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, spinbuster | Leave a comment

TODAY Busting the poorly informed pro-nuclear hype of Spectator Australia

Today I encountered, for the first time the magazine “Spectator Australia”. I was drawn to it by the tantalising title of its article (25/7/22) “Politicians destroy nuclear when the world needs it most.”, by Alan Moran. The main message of the article seems to be that the stringent safety regulations are an unnecessary handicap to the nuclear industry, and cause unnecessary costs.

I was tempted to check on what sort of a magazine ”Spectator Australia” is. Crikey reported that :

The Spectator presents a stridently — often rabidly — ideological conservative perspective on Australian politics and society. ”

Much earlier, The Guardian reported on its British parent:

The magazine cleaves to a purple-faced, right-wing, pro-fox-hunting, climate-change-denying, insidiously Islamophobic worldview” 

Ah well – that helps to explain this article. Here are just a few of my reflections on the article:

Nuclear power is reliable and safe” – as long as you don’t count Mayak, Santa Susanna, Church Rock, Chornobyl, submarine accidents, Windscale. Three Mile Island, Tokaimura, Fukushima …

“Deaths related to the industry are small” – yeah, when you don’t count the deaths caused by persistent exposure to radiation – especially amongst nuclear workers. Later-developing cancers are not as newsworthy as sudden accidental deaths.
”Demonisation”, presumably by fanatic anti-nuclear people , has caused the downfall of the nuclear industry? Well, well – I had no idea that we were so effective. I thought that it was caused by the unaffordable costs. the intractible waste problem, the nuclear weapons proliferation problem.

“risk aversiveness to whatever safety problems there may be” – that phrase speaks volumes – this mansplaining macho author isn’t even interested in knowing about risks!

Costs? Well the Fin Review and CSIRO don’t agree with this author https://www.afr.com/companies/energy/nuclear-energy-too-expensive-to-replace-fossil-fuels-20220711-p5b0pd 

He quotes France – does he not know that France is in one hell of a pickle – nationalising the industry, shutting down reactors because of the heat, and the corrosion?

UK – he quotes Rishi Sunak – as Chancellor Sunak advised Boris against the big nuclear spend ! This article is a load of ignorant poppycock!

July 26, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina reviews, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Michael West busts the spin of Murdoch media’s nuclear marketing.

It’s the nuclear debate. On the one hand, we have all the scientists, and experts on finance and energy.. And on the other hand we have Rupert Murdoch’s experts – Chris Kenny,  Caleb Bond and  the whole Sky News team. These people are experts in nuclear energy.

And so we have one side saying ”No Australia should not build nuclear power plants because they are too costly and there’s the issue of how to dispose of the nuclear wastes

But on the other hand – we have new evidence, unveiled by Sky News – by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, that nuclear energy is actually the cheapest new  form of energy

Australian nuclear engineer Tony Irwin [of Small Nuclear Technologies company] has crunched the numbers and it’s turned out – that in the long term nuclear energy is the cheapest form of energy. Daily Telegraph’s Piers Ackerman reported on all these numbers, – on the capacity factor, the estimated plant life, line transmission costs and all the other factors that are considered in the cost of building nuclear power stations is cheaper than wind and solar and vastly more efficient than pumped hydro 

  All prevailing wisdom – the science indeed would say that nuclear is the most expensive.

Why are we having thi debate?    If we were to build a NPP right now, it wouldn’t be up and running for 10 years they cost $20 billion to build.

Here we have Caleb Bond from Adelaide Advertiser – no need for a university education. Chris Bowen described nuclear energy as a complete joke. ” Doesn’t he have egg on his face right now” –  Caleb’s take.

Most experts think nuclear energy is a joke, too expensive  Who are the people quoted here?

The Australian and The Murdoch publications ……………..rabbiting on about how we have to go nuclear for baseload energy 

Where do they get their experts from?

We are getting to Murdoch’s experts,  Caleb Bond cited in evidence  a story in the Daily Telegraph  another Murdoch –  ”New research reveals that nuclear energy is actually the cheapest form of energy”        the expert here is pre-eminent global expert Piers Ackerman, one of Muroch’s greatest lackeys. – saying the nuclear energy is the cheapest.

The CSIRO value nuclear energy at 128-330 MW per hour .  9()% wind and solar they valued at 55-80 MW less than half. Coal is cheaper – they all are cheaper. Backing up the CSIRO is the world economic  forum  -is the IEA  the International Energy Agency. They base their decisions on the science

Nuclear is not only dangerous because of the wastes, but it is also perilously expensive to build, and it won’t be done before the climate is irretrievably damaged.in 2030

This is a complete distraction and it’s utter nonsense . And the Murdoch people actually understand this – they understand that it is never going to happen.

This is quintessential Murdoch stuff.  It’s a distraction.They know that nuclear energy is not viable,  It does not make commercial sense. The debate was over at least 2 years ago.  Solar is the cheapest, then wind, and hydro and so on.

Despite people like Matt Canavan. Barnaby Joyce, playing up to their coal donors, their vested interests – the problem is in the grid now, that coal is not viable.

2 years ago the IAE declared in its world energy outlookj solar as the  cheapest.energy in history

Murdoch’s nuclear push is a distraction. They know it will never happen. They need to have  a hat at the table.  They come up with a contrarian view –   to create division and debate. Murdoch creating enemies –  our experts like Piers  have told us that this is so-  the enemy is renewable energy everyone else are all woke latte-sipping lefties -anybody that doesn’t like coal.  They’ve lost that debate, They know that they have no basis to push coal and  gas will be next.

So what they’re doing now is promoting SMRs.  Lets’ build smrs.  This has been tried elsewhere hasn’t been seen to work efficiently –  If the Chinese the Russians, the Americans and Brits can’t get it going – why are we even talking about them?  When we have free solar and wind Because Murdoch wants to be a player in this debate. it’s all about media creating goodies and baddies, Liberal good, Labor bad, Green terrible. 

Thanks to Giles Parkinson at REneweconomy.  we quote his research into this.

The track record of smrs around the world has been pitiful. Just a handful of projects most or all suffering massive cost overruns and multi years delay. Russia’s floating nuclear plant  was 9 years behind schedule, more than 6 times over budget and the electricity it produces is estimated to cost  an exorbitant US $200 per Megawatt hour.- according to the OECD;s nuclear energy  agency –   a source that Murdoch minions would be fleeing from. Why would you when you have Chris Kenny Piers Ackerman and the lobbyists from ANSTO?   

The only other operational smr anywhere else in the world, China’s high temperature gas cooled smr, was 2 to 3 times more expensive than initial estimates. It was 8 years behind schedule and plans for additional reactors at the site have been dropped . Argentina’s smr is 7 years behind schedule , billion dollar cost overruns, current cost 23 times beyond preliminary estimates. . The cost exceeds A$1billion for a plant with the capacity of 2 large wind turbines.

By the time we did it in Australia and spent $5 billion on our smr that would have gone out to $20 to $30 billion for a small nuclear reactor when the climate has been destroyed by 2035. Not a very sensible policy outcome. 

China recently began construction of an smr based on conventional light-water reactor technology.  According to China National Nuclear Corporation, construction costs per kilowatt (kW) will be twice the cost of large reactors and the levelised cost of electricity will be 50% higher than for large reactors.

So not only do they take a long time to build, are hugely expensive, they’re not efficient either, So there you have it. It doesn’t work, like carbon capture and storage.

Yet it is being feverishly espoused in the Murdoch press. They’re coming out with nuclear energy stories daily. Their copy is pay-walled. it is losing influence. The ABC has just said it doesn’t want to showcase Murdoch newspapers in its breakfast television. 

These guys are in a bind and they have to be controversial, combattive even, to maintain their tiny Sky News audience, which they package up as recent research found, and send it all around the world as evidence that their climate-denying analysis has legs. It is a classic misinformation – propaganda machine.  which is subsidised by us, the tax-payer.  They are looking for a cause celebre. looking for relevance Their bullying tactics are on the way, They will come up with any proposition possible to create a difference, to create a media narrative and this nuclear narrative despite it being majestically ill-conceived has no legs  but that will not stop then from carping on about it.

July 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, spinbuster | 1 Comment

Spinbusting the propaganda of SMR Nuclear Technology’s Tony Irwin as he spruiks for Small Nuclear Reactors for Australia

First to nuclear power, which, we should remember, has been effectively banned in Australia since the late 1990s.

On page three of the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney, columnist Piers Akerman wrote an “exclusive” news
story showing “nuclear energy is cheaper” than coal, gas, solar or wind. Such a claim would overturn pretty much all serious analysis of electricity costs around the globe. So where did it come from? The
International Energy Agency maybe, or perhaps the CSIRO?

No. Akerman quoted “new data” from Tony Irwin, who is a nuclear industry veteran and a technical director at a consultancy company with “specialist industry knowledge on the procurement and development of nuclear technologies” with a focus on small modular reactors (SMR).

But one problem with using Irwin’s numbers is they are based on an estimate of the cost of one
particular SMR design which has not yet been built and won’t produce power until at least 2029.

Guardian 30th June 2022

 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/30/net-zero-nuance-commentary-on-decarbonising-the-grid-misses-the-mark-on-batteries-and-nuclear

July 2, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Weapons corporations infiltrate our schools and charities, promoting war-mongering to our youth

REPUTATION LAUNDERING,

 https://declassifiedaus.org/2022/03/31/reputation-laundering/ DeclassifiedAUS2 The weapons companies spruiking the ‘benefits and opportunities’ of the wars in Ukraine and Yemen and tensions in the South China Sea are infiltrating our schools., MICHELLE FAHY, 31 MARCH 2022

A Lockheed Martin missile blows up a school bus in Yemen, while in Australia the company gains kudos by sponsoring the National Youth Science Forum.

BAE Systems supports the education of kids in Australia, while being complicit in the killing of thousands of children in Yemen.

Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons-maker, is raking in billions from ongoing wars like the four-week Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the eight-year long Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Lockheed Martin laser-guided bomb blew up a bus full of Yemeni school children in 2018, killing 40 children and injuring dozens more.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Lockheed Martin was busy cultivating kudos with kids as major sponsor of the National Youth Science Forum, a registered charity originally set up by Rotary.

Then there’s US missile-making giant Raytheon which now has a significant new manufacturing facility in Australia. It has continued to supply the Saudi-led coalition with weapons for the Yemen war, despite extensive evidence pointing to war crimes arising from its missiles being used to target and kill civilians. 

In January 2022, a Raytheon missile killed at least 80 people and injured over 200 in a so-called precision strike in Sa’adah in Yemen.

Within days of this horrific incident, Raytheon’s CEO was telling investors that rising tensions represented “opportunities for international sales” and he fully expected to “see some benefit” from “the tensions in Eastern Europe [and] the South China Sea”.

There’s no mention in Australia’s media of the big profits Raytheon is making from the Yemen war, which has now entered its eighth year, killed or injured at least 19,000 civilians, and possibly many more, and also caused the deaths of tens of thousands of children through starvation, due to disruption of food supplies and militarily-enforced trade blockade.

Instead, we’ve seen pictures of Aussie school kids having fun with the Australian snowboarding Paralympian who Raytheon Australia hired to front the launch of its Maths Alive! educational exhibition.

And we also heard about Raytheon’s sponsorship of Soldier On and the Invictus Games, despite the irony of a weapons company using its support of injured military personnel as a public relations exercise.

There’s a name for this cynical behaviour by corporations: ‘reputation laundering’.

Weapons companies are now ‘Innovators’

The world’s weapons producers have also taken to promoting themselves as ‘innovators’ in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths, called STEM. 

This enables them to target children and young people as future employees (see, for exampleBAE Systems AustraliaBoeing Defence Australia, and Saab Australia), often with the willing partnership of respected institutions. Many Australian universities now have MOUsjoint venturesstrategic partnerships, or other forms of collaboration with the weapons industry.

This enthusiastic support of STEM serves a double purpose: reputation laundering, and a socially acceptable way to promote the weapons industry as a future employer directly to children and their parents.

Promoting STEM education is essential to creating a well-trained workforce for key industries of the future, particularly those that can tackle the existential risks associated with climate change. The concern with the weapons industry’s activities in this domain is the way it is using STEM to target children as young as primary school age for weapons-making careers, often with the support of government. 

The spin and glamour being associated with Australia’s increased militarism is a concern on several levels, particularly as the marketing omits pertinent information: weapons and warfare aren’t mentioned.

Nor is there information about how children might use their STEM skills to enhance the ‘lethality’ of their employer’s products.

Nor about a future in which the need for human involvement in the ‘kill chain’ is eliminated by creating autonomous robots to make life and death decisions instead. (This is not science fiction, these research and development programs are already happening.)

Working for companies involved with nuclear weapons isn’t discussed, either.

Instead, a world of euphemism has been created: ‘advanced technology systems, products and services’, ‘high end technology company’, ‘leading systems integrator’, ‘security and aerospace company’, ‘defence technology and innovation company’. 

It is also likely to be weapons company marketing material if the phrase ‘solving complex problems’ appears, especially if accompanied by claims of ‘making the world safer.

None of these euphemisms conjures up realistic images of the bloody and brutal destruction the world is witnessing in the world’s latest war in Ukraine.

The ways global weapons giants have cultivated relationships with organisations of good purpose in Australia is highlighted in the following examples.

Lockheed Martin and the National Youth Science Forum

The National Youth Science Forum was created by Rotary, which remains involved. The Forum, now a not-for-profit organisation overseen by a board, has numerous programs, the flagship program being for Year 12 students interested in a career in science.

“The ban treaty embodies the collective moral revulsion of the international community,” according to the Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament at the Australian National University, Professor Ramesh Thakur.

Lockheed Martin and the Gallipoli Sponsorship Fund

In 2020, Lockheed Martin Australia became the first corporate sponsor of the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund and provides $120,000 to fund 12 Lockheed Martin Australia bursaries for the educational benefit of descendants of Australian military veterans.

Lockheed Martin is providing these Australian educational bursaries through to the end of 2023, with an opportunity to extend.

Referring to Lockheed Martin as a “defence technology and innovation company”, the Gallipoli Sponsorship Fund’s website also does not disclose Lockheed’s status as the world’s dominant weapons-maker nor its position as a major nuclear weapons producer.

BAE Systems and The Smith Family

This example illustrates that public pressure can and does make a difference.

The UK’s largest weapons-maker, BAE Systems, has been working inside Saudi Arabia supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s role in Yemen since the start of the war.

A BAE maintenance employee was quoted in 2019 saying, “If we weren’t there, in 7 to 14 days there wouldn’t be a jet in the sky.” BAE Systems has sold nearly £18 billion worth of weaponry to the Saudis since the war in Yemen started in 2014.

Yet in Australia, BAE Systems started a $100,000 partnership with The Smith Family in August 2020, sponsoring a STEM education program for under-privileged children.

BAE’s role helping the Saudis prolong one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises in Yemen was pointed out numerous times to The Smith Family, a children’s charity, after news broke of its BAE sponsorship.

The Smith Family initially resisted but after increasing pressure and activism from peace organisations and many complaints from the public, The Smith Family soon dropped its controversial ‘partnership’ with BAE Systems Australia, mere months after it had started.

Morally indefensible positions

Benign-sounding sponsorships of Australian school children such as these might appear less self-serving if weapons companies behaved consistently and stopped supplying weapons to those nations known to be serial abusers of human rights. 

Saying they are merely doing the bidding of their governments in supplying the Saudis, and other abusive and repressive regimes, as these companies have, is not a morally defensible position.

It is particularly not defensible in the face of evidence of ongoing war crimes being committed using their weaponry.

MICHELLE FAHY is an independent writer and researcher, specialising in the examination of connections between the weapons industry and government, and has written in various independent publications. She is on twitter @FahyMichelle, and on Substack at UndueInfluence.substack.com  An earlier version of this article was published in Michael West Media in November 2020.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, reference, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Jim Green busts the spin of the (two-member) party ”Greens for nuclear energy Australia”


Jim Green, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch 23 Mar 22, ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’ claim that the ‘real’ name of their group is ‘Greens for Nuclear Energy Australia’ but they can’t change their facebook group name ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’! Evidently the group has tried to change its name, an implicit acknowledgement that they have been falsely misrepresenting themselves as a sub-group of the Australian Greens political party. Furthermore, they are shifting their propaganda over to new sites called ‘Australians for Nuclear Energy’ … another implicit acknowledgement that they have been falsely misrepresenting themselves as a sub-group of the Australian Greens political party.

What to make of the new name ‘Greens for Nuclear Energy Australia’? As far as we know there are only two members in the group, so it should be called ‘Two Greens for Nuclear Energy Australia’. Or to use their own terminology, ‘A Relatively Small Number of Greens for Nuclear Energy Australia.’ #greenwashinghttps://nuclear.foe.org.au/fake-greens-group/

And FoE has for many years exposed the misinformation of ‘pro-nuclear environmentalist’ Ben Heard, who consults for the Minerals Council, the most aggressively anti-environment organisation in Australia, which is really saying something. https://nuclear.foe.org.au/ben-heard-secret-corporate…/ As John Quiggin notes: “In practice, support for nuclear power in Australia is support for coal. Tony Abbott understands this. It’s a pity that Ben Heard and others don’t.”

March 24, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Meet Australian Public Affairs, the lobbying firm that pushed the Kimba nuclear waste dump for the Federal Government.

The representation by Australian Public Affairs of companies working within or directly linked to the energy, mining and uranium mining industries—many of which obviously have an interest in a nuclear waste dump—does not appear to have been disclosed to the public at any stage of their lobbying work for the federal government on the campaign for a national nuclear waste management facility.

Meet the lobbying firm that pushed the Kimba nuclear waste dump for the Federal Government while claiming “commitment to Indigenous Australians”. Matilda Duncan, 24 Feb 22,

Australian Public Affairs company officers: Tracey Cain, Phillip McCall, Kathryn Higgs, Nick Trainor, Paula Gelo, Matthew Doman, Dominique Wolfe,

Having pocketed six years worth of consulting fees campaigning on behalf of the federal government for their proposed nuclear waste dump in SA, Australian Public Affairs claims “success” as the Barngarla people of the Eyre Peninsula continue to fight the dump through the courts.

It’s a grim project brief few public relations firms would want: convince Australia it’s acceptable to establish not just a national nuclear waste dump, but an international dump site that would potentially accept nuclear waste from the United Kingdom and France.

The requirements of the job: advocate for a radioactive waste facility being built in the middle of one of Australia’s largest wheat and agricultural belts. Urge locals to support a nuclear waste dump near Kimba, despite the site neighbouring both a conservation park and a national park. Avoid publicly questioning why the company the federal government hired to assess the shortlisted dump sites has a U.S. parent company that manufactures nuclear weapons.

Think up methods of pushing the dump in a state that has already been subjected to the stress of a government nuclear waste dump site selection process an inexplicable 4 times in 23 years—and rejected it, to the point the Olsen Government passed legislation to prevent radioactive waste being brought into the state: the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000, which was subsequently strengthened by the Rann Government.

Sell the nuclear dump to the public in a state in which traditional owners have already been subjected to decade upon decade of trauma thanks to the nuclear industry and materials for nuclear weapons being sourced from their lands. Avoid mention of the damaging mining conducted at Radium Hill, the uranium mining that continues to this day at Olympic Dam, the grotesque takeover of land to establish a weapons testing range double the size of England, or the hideous government decision to allow Britain to test 7 atomic bombs at Maralinga and Emu Field without adequately warning the Indigenous people living there—bombs that, in a full circle of destruction, were made using uranium sourced from Radium Hill.

In the face of this depraved and dark history of governmental abuse, the job: tell the locals it will be worth it because the nuclear waste dump will bring “45 jobs”.

Tracey Cain and Alastair Furnival willingly took on the work.

For the past seven years, their lobbying firm Australian Public Affairs has been working behind the scenes for the Federal Government, providing media and campaign strategy advice to help the government promote the nuclear waste dump—presented as the “National Radioactive Waste Management Facility”—and steer them through what continues to be a long, flawed and troubled dump site selection process.

A married couple, Cain and Furnival share a property worth $5 million in Cremorne and equal ownership of Australian Public Affairs Pty Ltd. Furnival is also a staffer at another consulting firm, Elevate Consulting.

Their company made national headlines in 2014, during Furnival’s time as a federal government staffer. That year, Cain and Furnival’s company was lobbying for the junk food sector, representing Cadbury, the Australian Beverages Council and Mondelez Australia (formerly Kraft), while Furnival was working as chief of staff for the federal assistant health minister, Fiona Nash.

According to media reports, Senator Nash and Furnival intervened to pull down a food health star rating website less than 24 hours after it was launched, despite it having been in development for two years and approved by state and territory food ministers.

Furnival owned half of Australian Public Affairs while intervening in public policy decisions as Nash’s chief of staff. Furnival resigned in the wake of the scandal.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STAFFERS VS. LOBBYISTS WRITING SPIN

The Morrison Government appear to have given Australian Public Affairs plenty of latitude to complete their work promoting the nuclear waste dump, extending permission to act directly as Government spokespeople.

Numerous times over the past 2 years, media enquiries about the national nuclear waste management facility sent to the federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) and it’s superseding [new] department have been responded to directly by an Australian Public Affairs staffer rather than federal government staff.

Media enquiries from this journalist were responded to directly by Australian Public Affairs Director Nick Trainor, who in an introductory email two years ago claimed to “work with” the federal government.

Trainor provided a response on behalf of DIIS and the “National Radiactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce” in that email, without disclosing that he was in fact working for a lobbying firm representing the federal government on the nuclear waste dump project…………………………………

A DISAPPEARING ETHICS POLICY

Sometime after 2015, Cain and Furnival removed an ethics policy for Australian Public Affairs from their company website.

The policy claimed Australian Public Affairs was ‘committed to an ethical and quality approach to servicing our clients’. The company would ‘refuse causes, ideas or programs which pose harm to the community’, the policy claimed, ‘never promote deception or unsupportable claims’ and ‘at all times act as a leader in the pursuit of ethical practice.’……………………………………

Australian Public Affairs’ Deputy CEO, Phillip McCall, previously worked for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) with oversight of the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor . APA’s client list has also included mining, gas and energy giants such as Santos—Australia’s second largest independent oil company and owner of the Moomba oil and gas fields in South Australia’s north-east.

APA staff were registered as lobbyists with the South Australian Government on Santos’ behalf from 2017 to late 2018. Uranium mining exploration projects in Santos’ Moomba gas fields were announced the following year, in 2019

APA also represented Santos on their Narrabri coal seam gas project.

Earlier this year—as their work for the Morrison Government on the nuclear waste dump continued—Australian Public Affairs began representing MaxMine (Resolution Systems), a mining technology company with offices in South Australia and South Africa. The company claims its “mission is to become the world’s biggest miner without owning a mine.”

MaxMine has been linked to Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group, after—according to MaxMine’s own promotional material—conducting work on their technology with Fortescue in 2010.

WASTE DUMP POLITICAL CONNECTIONS

Andrew Forrest has invested in uranium mining for years. In 2014, he bought EMA, the company that owned uranium deposits at Mulga Rock in Western Australia. Just two months ago, a new uranium mining operation commenced there. Forrest’s private company, Squadron Resources, has an interest in the uranium mining company working at Mulga Rock, Vimy Resources.

The former Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill, was appointed to a CEO Position with Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation after he left public office.

Weatherill was behind the “unusual step” of setting up a Royal Commission in 2015 to consider South Australia’s potential role in the nuclear industry—despite the aforementioned decades of proposals for nuclear waste dumps being rejected by the community and legislation being enacted to ban nuclear waste being brought into the state. Weatherill spen much of his time as Premier pushing a proposal for a high-level nuclear waste storage facility in South Australia.

Weatherill has further personal connections to the current nuclear waste dump proposal. During his tenure as SA Premier, his wife Melissa Bailey was appointed to a position at AECOM Australia Pty Ltd—the company commissioned by the federal government to write site assessment reports for each of the shortlisted nuclear waste dump sites, covering topics like environmental impacts, climate change and wildlife impacts…………………………..

Questioned about the employment of Jay Weatherill’s wife at AECOM Australia Pty Ltd and why the federal government hired the company to assess the nuclear waste dump sites despite its association with nuclear weapons development, Australian Public Affairs responded on behalf of the federal government to both queries with the same phrase: “AECOM Australia Pty Ltd was selected to provide the required services through an open tender process and evaluation conducted in accordance with an approved procurement plan.”


The representation by Australian Public Affairs of companies working within or directly linked to the energy, mining and uranium mining industries—many of which obviously have an interest in a nuclear waste dump—does not appear to have been disclosed to the public at any stage of their lobbying work for the federal government on the campaign for a national nuclear waste management facility.

THE KIMBA COUNCIL

Remarkably, Cain has already claimed her company’s work on the government’s nuclear waste management facility project to be a “success”—even as the Traditional Owners, the Barngarla people, are again challenging the project through the courts.

For years the Barngarla people have repeatedly stated they have not been consulted about the storage of radioactive waste on their land. Representatives of the Barngarla people were excluded from a community vote to gauge local support for the nuclear waste facility—after the District Council of Kimba decided to exclude native title holders from the vote.

Despite major mainstream news outlets including the ABC, Guardian, Channel Ten’s The Project and NY Times visiting Kimba and publishing coverage of Jeff Baldock—the man who volunteered to sell his land at Napandee to the government for the nuclear waste management site—no attention was given by these outlets to his relative and business partner Graeme Baldock, a member of the Kimba Council that determined the Barngarla people would be excluded from the community vote on the nuclear waste dump………..

Graeme and Jeff Baldock had previously purchased thousands of hectares of land in the region near Kimba—in the region where the dump site is set to be established—according to information published in 2015 by the Baldock family farming company, Karinya Agriculture.

A member of the District Council of Kimba since 2010, Graeme Baldock was communicating directly with the federal government agency responsible for the nuclear waste management facility site selection process, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS), between 2017 and 2019.

In response to a freedom of information application made in early 2020 seeking access to Graeme Baldock’s emails with DIIS over two years, DIIS stated that the “documents contain personal information of certain individuals” and due to privacy provisions in freedom of information legislation, “8 third parties” would need to be consulted before the government might consider releasing the documents.

The Department of Industry then sought to impose administration charges of $500 to process the request for Graeme Baldock’s emails.

“COMMITTED TO CLOSING THE GAP”

As the Barngarla traditional owners pursue some semblance of justice through the courts, Tracey Cain continues to advertise her company’s services in the “Indigenous Affairs sector” today, writing: “Australian Public Affairs has extensive communications expertise with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, on behalf of traditional landowners and Indigenous organisations, and for governments, corporates and NFPs wishing to engage with these communities.”

It’s not just the Barngarla people APA’s work on the nuclear waste dump process has affected—the traditional owners of other sites shortlisted for the dump, like South Australia’s Adnyamathanha people, have already publicly described the stress it caused. “The emotional stress we’re feeling is off the charts,” Regina McKenzie, an Adnyamathanha traditional owner, told the ABC in 2016. “We’re still the custodians here; we’ve always looked at it that way.”

Australian Public Affairs’ company spiel continues: “Within this work, APA is particularly committed to social and economic initiatives which support the Closing the Gap agenda, to provide Indigenous Australians with the same level of opportunity as the rest of the nation: including in health, mental health, education and social policy.”

In another section of APA’s website, the company characterises an “increase in environmental concern – not least amongst farmers and indigenous communities” as leading to “a rise in red tape and cost of compliance”.

In addition to APA working on projects that have contributed to the disenfranchisement of Indigenous communities, Furnival—Cain’s husband and co-owner of Australian Public Affairs—worked for the Abbott Government, an administration that cut $535 million from Indigenous programs.

Cain was contacted for comment about her husband’s role with the Abbott Government and asked if APA staff were directly involved with negotiations with the Barngarla people and other local communities involved in the nuclear waste dump site processes.

Cain was asked if Australian Public Affairs staff made it clear to these communities that they were a lobbying firm, not federal government staffers, when responding to their enquiries and concerns about the nuclear waste dump. She did not directly address these questions.

HISTORY REPEATING

Australian Public Affairs is not the only public relations firm to have chosen to assist the Government to continue perpetuating the toxic legacy of uranium in South Australia. Michels Warren have taken on the task too—an Adelaide PR firm that first represented the Howard Government during their attempt to establish a dump in South Australia from the late nineties until at least 2004. Freedom of information applications revealed the company’s dirty campaign to “soften up the community” and sell something its own staff knew had no benefit to South Australians: “The National Repository could never be sold as “good news” to South Australians. There are few, if any, tangible benefits such as jobs, investment or improved infrastructure. Its merits to South Australians, at the most, are intangible and the range and complexity of issues make them difficult to communicate.”

Despite having their ugly tactics exposed, Michels Warren chose not to leave their involvement with the nuclear industry and nuclear waste in the past. They went on to represent the Weatherill Government’s aforementioned unusual Royal Commission into nuclear power in 2016—a decision that might be explained, in part, by their previous campaigning on behalf of the corporate owners of the Beverley and Honeymoon uranium mines in South Australia.

 IRATI WANTI

Almost two decades ago, the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Indigenous women based near Coober Pedy in South Australia, were into their eighth year of fighting the Howard Government proposal to dump nuclear waste from the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor on their traditional lands.

In April 2003, the council’s founders, Eileen Kampakuta Brown and Eileen Wani Wingfield, received the Goldman Prize for environmental activism—an award akin to the Nobel Prize—and $US125,000 to continue their campaign against the nuclear waste dump. The women were fighting the Howard Government into their seventies, with a campaign slogan of “Irati wanti” which roughly translated as “The poison – leave it”.

The founder of the prize, Richard Goldman, said the women had been chosen for a campaign that “exemplifies how much can be accomplished when ordinary people take extraordinary action to protect the health of our planet”.

Mrs Brown said at the time that she was talking on behalf of her ancestors so that her children and grandchildren might also be able to live on the land, telling the Sydney Morning Herald in 2003 through her granddaughter: “There’s a lot of life out there.” https://matildaduncan.net/stories/22/feb/23/australian-public-affairs-tracey-cain-nuclear-waste-dump

February 24, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, spinbuster | Leave a comment

The murky world of financing Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)


IKEA it ain’t: don’t go looking for friendly nuclear option, no matter the spin

MICHAEL WEST MEDIA, By Noel Wauchope|December 30, 2021  Despite the Murdoch media hype over small nuclear reactors as a solution for Australia’s “clean energy” future, this is costly technology which barely exists in a commercial sense. Noel Wauchope explores the murky world of funding for Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs).

Small nuclear reactors are being proposed as the solution for Australia’s ‘clean energy’ future.  Australians should be aware of the financial  gymnastics going on in the USA, with NuScale, and in the UK, with Rolls-Royce. That’s just to single out the two most advanced of the many dubious SMR projects still at the starting gate.

The Murdoch media is enthusiastic about SMRs. Missing from the hype are a lot of unanswered questions. For a start — the ”M” stands for ”modular” — meaning that these reactors will be built in pieces, sort of, and transferred to a site, where they will be assembled, like a piece of IKEA furniture. But in fact there are at least 50 designs being promoted, and not all are modular. 

The critical question comes down to – the money

The enthusiasm of the SMR lobby for the economic viability of SMRs is not matched by the facts.

 For one thing to consider – there’s the price of the electricity to be eventually delivered by these small nuclear reactors. The Minerals Council of Australia estimates that by 2030 and beyond, SMRs could offer power to grids from $64-$77MWh, depending on size and type.

An analysis by WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff, prepared for the 2015-16 South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission,  estimated  a cost of A$225 / MWh for a reactor based on the NuScale design, about three times higher than the MCA’s target range. CSIRO  estimatesSMR power costs at A$258-338 / MWh in 2020 and A$129-336 / MWh in 2030.

Then there are the costs of actually getting SMRs in the first place.

In Russia, China, France, and Argentina, the construction is done entirely or largely at taxpayers’ expense, and there is little or no transparency about the costs. But generally in the Western world, electricity production is supposed to be a commercially viable operation.  In the context of promoting low -carbon technologies, SMRs are promoted as being cheaper than large ones.  It is generally acceptable for the government to kick-start the process, with some funding, but with the understanding that the industry will become successful, profitable. 

NuScale financing contortions………………….

Now NuScale is to go public by merging with what’s known as a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC……..

US Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler wants to tighten regulations on SPACs:

Glitzy corporate presentation decks, hyped press releases and celebrity endorsements can balloon a SPAC’s equity well beyond a reasonable value long before proper disclosures are filed,  Gensler said.

SPACs have had a chequered history — they enable the sponsors to avoid financial loss, even if the business fails, as many did, in the 1990s.  Sixty-five per cent of deals completed in 2021 at a valuation above $1bn are trading below $10 — the price at which they were floated. All of the companies are trading below their stock market highs with some of them down by as much as 70%. Senator Elizabeth Warren and three other Democrats are investigating the imbalance between the financial results for the sponsors and banks versus the early investors.

Rolls-Royce still looking for money

The process of getting funding for the UK’s SMRs is equally tortuous. ……………….   

Rolls-Royce will be seeking more investment for the project to help fund the building of actual SMRs.

The government is currently passing legislation that will allow investors to back projects like SMRs using a regulated asset base (RAB) model, which allows them to recoup upfront costs from the consumers, over the construction period, long before those consumers actually get any electricity from the project. 

Mythical beasts

So — what it all boils down to is an agreement to spend about £400 million over the next three years — to perhaps produce a design for a reactor, which might get approved by the regulators, and might find investors who might be willing to pay what will be at least £2 billion to build each one.

Where does all this leave Australia? Confused, probably like everyone else?  It’s not at all clear who is going to end up paying the most for small nuclear reactors, or indeed, if that fleet of SMRs will ever become a reality. It will probably be the taxpayers.  I haven’t mentioned all those ancillary costs — of winning community approval, of security, waste disposal. In all the hype about solving the climate crisis, it’s not likely that Australia will have the necessary thousands of small nuclear reactors operating in time to have any effect on the climate. 

In the meantime, it’s worth being wary about the financial aspects, given the obscure manipulations going on in the US and UK, and remembering that not yet does one of these mythical beasts, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors actually exist.

Renewables remain the cheapest “new-build” source of energy generation. They exist. They work.  https://www.michaelwest.com.au/ikea-it-aint-small-modular-nuclear-reactors/ 

December 30, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

Defence scrambles to train nuclear scientists for ‘exciting roles’ on AUKUS programme.

Defence scrambles to train nuclear scientists for ‘exciting roles’ on AUKUS program
ABC,  by defence correspondent Andrew Greene  19 Dec 21, Students and public servants are being enticed with generous scholarships to study nuclear science and engineering so they can begin “exciting roles” on the massive AUKUS submarine program.

Key points:

  • Defence expects to offer more than 300 scholarships 
  • The program will train graduates to work in the nuclear-powered submarine program 
  • The scholarships are worth approximately $20,000 per student yearly 

Defence is scrambling to find hundreds of properly qualified staff for the mammoth task of acquiring a nuclear-powered submarine fleet with the help of the UK and US.

The ABC can reveal Defence is establishing a nuclear scholarship program from next year, offering scholarships worth approximately $20,000 per student per year.
 Over the next five years Defence expects to offer over 300 scholarships and has launched a separate initiative to sponsor existing staff to undertake nuclear-related Masters courses.

………………….An existing Defence STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Cadetship Program is also being expanded to target nuclear-related studies, with cadets entering trainee positions in the department……………..  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-19/defence-staff-studying-nuclear-science-aukus-program/100710264

December 20, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Education, politics | Leave a comment