Australian news, and some related international items

Australian government about to secretly sign up to developing Generation IV nuclear reactors?

Should Australia invest funds and resources in developing Generation IV nuclear reactors? Online opinion, 

By Noel Wauchope, 23 May 2017 Without any fanfare, with no media coverage, Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) is presently considering Australia signing up to the International Framework for Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems (GIF), which will commit this nation to take part in developing new nuclear reactors.Dr Adi Paterson, CEO of the Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, signed up to this GIF Framework last year. However, that does require confirmation by the Australian government. Hence there was the need for the JSCOT Committee to at least take a look at it, before the government completes the membership. Apparently there is no need for public discussion, or probably even Parliamentary discussion.

This Committee very quietly invited submissions, and very few were in the know about this. Now the received submissions have been published – at

Anyway, it looks as if ANSTO is the driving force behind this process, and judging by the submissions received, the nuclear lobby was in the know, even if the public was not. Fourteen submissions were received. Of these, eleven were strongly pro- nuclear, and three were opposed. The opposing submissions came from Friends of the Earth (FOE), (jointly with the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF ), Medical Association For The Prevention of War (MAPW), and myself, (I came upon the Parliamentary website just by chance).

In assessing these submissions, of course, I have to admit to bias on my part. Still, I think that any reader would find that there is one submission that stands out for clarity, and a detailed, factual discussion of the GIF plan. That is the one written by Jim Green and Dave Sweeney, for FOE and ACF.

Green and Sweeney respond to assertions made in ANSTO’s National Interest Analysis. They question claims that the new reactors reduce weapons proliferation risks, are economic, efficient, and solve waste problems. They rebuke the claim of ANSTO that “a significant expansion in nuclear power production is underway “, listing the overall decline in nuclear power growth, with the exception of China. They discuss at length the very long time frame expected even by nuclear industry experts, before any Generation IV reactors could be commercially viable.

They go on to discuss each of the six proposed new nuclear reactors, giving a detailed history of the attempts to develop each, and factual information that refutes those claims made by ANSTO. For all of their statements, Green and Sweeney provide evidence and references.

The Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW)’s submission questions the government’s high subsidising of ANSTO, and points out the poor prospects for private investment in new nuclear power. It refutes the argument that Gen IV reactors would solve the nuclear waste problem, quoting analysis by the US National Academy of Sciences. They discuss the history of attempts to develop Gen IV nuclear reactors: ” a track record of repeated failure and massive cost”. They discuss the direct and indirect costs, and ANSTO’s secrecy about nuclear costs. Safety and reliability issues, and proliferation risks, are examined. They also point out that the recent Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (NFCRC) was not supportive of new nuclear technology. The Commission proposed:

…monitoring and reporting” of new designs, not participation in research and active subsidization. The Royal Commission also places emphasis on economic value for nuclear power generation, which is clearly entirely absent from fast reactor operations.

My own submission also discusses non-proliferation, nuclear waste, and claims about climate change, but it focuses on the lack of public information and discussion. In view of Australia’s laws prohibiting the development of nuclear power in Australia, I find it disturbing that the government is about to put money and resources into developing new nuclear reactors.

Now – to the eleven pro nuclear submissions. In general these faithfully repeat the claims made by ANSTO, stressing the value of Australia participating in an international forum. (e.g: submission from Australian Nuclear Association)

Now – to the eleven pro nuclear submissions. In general these faithfully repeat the claims made by ANSTO, stressing the value of Australia participating in an international forum. (e.g: submission from Australian Nuclear Association)

  • Most submissions praise ANSTO and universities ANU and UNSW for their expertise.
  • Then there’s the claim that nuclear power will decarbonise the economy. (submission by The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE)). (and from Barrie Murphy)
  • Joining GIF will increase the visibility of Australia’s cutting-edge research (from Nuclear Engineering Research Group, School of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, UNSW Sydney)
  • Would increase Australia’s ability to influence international policy – will increase the international status of ANSTO and Australia’s universities. (from Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering)
None of these submissions discussed the proposed reactors or provided any evidence for those claims…….

Continue reading

May 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, secrets and lies, technology | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nuclear energy is not zero carbon.

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

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

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

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

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

And all this without any public discussion!

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


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

ANSTO must be transparent on costs of its nuclear research: Generation IV nuclear reactors – high cost for little benefit

Here’s another fine submission to Australia’s Parliamentary Inquiry into Australia joining the Framework Agreement for Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems . This one blows out of the water any idea that these so far non existent reactors could solve any nuclear waste problem, or be in any way economically viable.  It also throws the spotlight on The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). Just how much of tax-payers’ money is going to this secretive organisation?

The latest reason for generation IV reactors centres on the unsolved problem of how to safely dispose of spent nuclear fuel. The proposition is that plutonium and other long lived transuranics in reactor fuel (that like plutonium also create a disposal problem) could be used up in so called “burner” reactors.

Analysis by the US National Academy of Sciences found this proposal to have such very high cost and so little benefit that it would take hundreds of years of recycling to reduce most of the global inventory.

Should ANSTO propose collaboration can occur without further cost to the taxpayer, then a funding review should be conducted to establish what research is already being done by ANSTO, at what cost, for what purpose and at whose behest. With an average loss of A$200 million annually, ANSTO should be able to provide disaggregated accounts for both transparency and accountability.

Generation IV Nuclear Energy – Accession  Submission Medical Association for Prevention of War  (MAPW) PO Box 1379, Carlton VIC 3053 Australia (03) 9023 195 m. 0431 475 465 e. w.

Executive Summary

MAPW recommends strongly against Australia becoming a party to this agreement. There is no proposal for Australia to get a nuclear power program.

This framework agreement applies to technologies that are economically, socially, environmentally, and from a nuclear security perspective, very dubious. Generation IV reactors are an assortment of proposed technologies that have been put forward over the last 70 years, tried and failed.

ANSTO is already very heavily subsidised by the Australian government, and extending its operations into this research sphere will require further scientific effort, expertise and funding. This is highly inappropriate given the current major constraints on government spending, and the urgent need to focus research energies on realistic, financially viable and proven measures to contain emissions from electricity generation.

Collaboration would mean taxpayer subsidies would go to an industry which has already wasted many billions in public funds and resulted in major adverse legacies. No private industry is prepared to invest in this research without large government subsidies because none are prepared to lose so much money.

It is also clear that Australia has no policy to use these long promised and never commercially delivered reactors. Therefore any involvement just subsidises those who hope to use them. If Australia wishes to expand its nuclear expertise, then research into “non nuclear waste” generating technologies (such as those to produce medical isotopes) would be much more productive and also be of positive benefit to the Australian population.


Objectives of GIF Framework Agreement Continue reading

May 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, reference, technology | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


1. Introduction and Response to National Interest Analysis

2. Generation IV Reactor Concepts ‒ Introduction

3. Decades Away

4. Purported Benefits

5. French Government’s IRSN Report

6. US Government Accountability Office Report

7. The Slow Death of Fast Reactors

8. Integral Fast Reactors

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The continued push for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in Australia

The Parliamentary Committee Inquiry on Australia joining the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems has now published the submissions that it received.

As this Inquiry has been kept quite secret from the media and the public, it is not surprising that nearly all of the submissions have come from companies and individuals with either a very clear, or a vested, interest in the nuclear industry.

For the moment, I will just single out one that particularly interested me. This is from SMR Nuclear Technology Pty Ltd .  They don’t actually have much to say about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, but just go on to fulsome praise of Generation IV nuclear reactors in general, and of ANSTO.:

…….SMR Nuclear Technology Pty Ltd is an independent Australian specialist consultancy established to advise on the siting, development and operation of safe nuclear power generation technologies, principally Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). Two of SMR-NT’s directors were senior managers at ANSTO and have a good understanding of the facilities and capabilities of ANSTO…..

SMR Nuclear Technology Pty Ltd most warmly supports Australia acceding to the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems as extended by the Agreement extending the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems” more

SMR Nuclear Technologies sounds pretty much like ANSTO in disguise.

They dropped a little hint of what ANSTO is up to, in their previous, (rather weak and contradictory) submission to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, in which they stated: “Thorium is now being revisited, particularly in China. Australia (ANSTO) is assisting with this work” –

We didn’t know that the Australian tax-payer was funding thorium nuclear reactor development in China, did we?


May 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, technology | Leave a comment

Australia keen to get involved in nuclear fusion research?

ANU partner with China on nuclear fusion technology for power supply, The Age,  Georgina Connery , 5 May 17, ANU has handed over the keys to its $35 million nuclear fusion stellarator as part of a technology exchange with China aimed at creating a new viable base-load power source by 2050.

Many nations, scrambling to find a solution to the energy crisis, view nuclear fusion as a sustainable solution…….ANU Australian Plasma Fusion Research Facility director Dr Cormac Corr said a memorandum of understanding signed with University of South China in April underpinned the exchange…..

In September 2016, Australia became the first non-member state to enter a formal collaborative agreement with ITER –  set to be the world’s largest Tokamak fusion reactor and the first to create net power.

China, the European Union, India, Korea, Russia, Japan and the United States are jointly funding the construction of the $30 billion nuclear fusion demonstration facility in France.

Australia is trying to position itself as a major player in the ITER project by providing the technology to see volatile plasma, which is otherwise invisible when it reaches temperatures of 150 million degrees inside the reactor…..

ANU professor John Howard and fellow fusion science experts are lobbying, through the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, for a $30 million federal program over the next three decades to further plasma fusion capabilities.

“We want to get an instrument that Australia owns on ITER in prime core space, so we are not relegated to a side show,” Professor Howard said…..

Research conducted at the ANU facility would feed into Australia’s materials and monitoring advice to the ITER project…..

May 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology | Leave a comment

In Australia, new Generation IV nuclear power intimately connected with nuclear weapons – theme for May 17

Right now, a Parliamentary Committee is preparing to rubber stamp an ANSTO plan for Australia to sign up to take part in developing new nuclear reactors – Generation IV reactors.

For a start, most Gen IV nuclear reactors require the input of plutonium or enriched uranium to operate. So Australia would have to import these before being able to operate the  new reactors. So already, with the transport of these highly radioactive materials, there’ s the risk of terrorism, of materials being stolen for weapons. The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.

This advanced involvement in the nuclear fuel chain makes it a logical and not too difficult step for the new reactors to provide the means for making nuclear bombs, including radiological weapons – “dirty bombs”. As well, the reactors themselves form an attractive target for terrorism, or enemy attack.

The nuclear lobby, and especially the South Australian nuclear zealots would see the next step for Australia as nuclear weaponry, however much they might mouth platitudes about non-proliferation. One example of their machinations is the $50 billion  on submarines, intended for nuclear later. As of 2016 the Liberal-National Coalition does not support a prospective ban on the possession of nuclear weapons.

South Australia is proudly called the Defence State, for its strong network of defence research and industry. Strong advocates for the nuclear industry in South Australia have always pushed for the full nuclear chain, and for South Australia to be a nuclear reprocessing hub.

From the very start, nuclear power in Australia was intended as the route to nuclear weapons, starting with  the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.

On Nov. 2, 1956, Australia’s Defense Committee formally recommended the acquisition of kiloton-range tactical nuclear weapons.  

In 1969, the government announced plans to construct a 500-megawatt nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay in New South Wales.

The intention was clear — this reactor was to support a nuclear weapons program.

In 2009 the nuclear weapons contractor Raytheon set up in Australia – Raytheon Australia’s Industry Development Unit (IDU).

Nothing has changed, except that the nuclear lobby has intensified its focus on South Australia.





April 28, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Parliamentary Committee considering if Australia should be involved in making Generation IV nuclear reactors

The gift of the ‘GIF’: Generation IV International Forum, Independent Australia,  19 April 2017 The Turnbull Government has quietly signed Australia up to the GIF Framework Agreement for the development of Gen IV nuclear reactors and is currently conducting a Parliamentary Inquiry of which most of us are unaware, writes Noel Wauchope.

YOU HAVE probably never heard of the “GIF”.

I hadn’t, until just this week when by chance, I heard of the Parliament Inquiry into the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems.

The Committee consists of nine Liberal MPs, six Labor and one Green.

That inquiry is being held now and the Committee calls, or more correctly, whispers, for submissions by 28 April 2017.

It is all about the GIF — Generation IV International Forum. The Australian Government signed up to this, in 2016, without any public discussion.

What is The Generation IV International Forum (GIF)?

An international collection of 14 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, the UK and the USA (original charter members, 2005); Switzerland, Euratom, China, Russia and Australia (signed later).

The World Nuclear Association describes the collection as countries for whom:

‘ … nuclear energy is significant now and also seen as vital for the future’.

What is the 2005 Framework Agreement AKA “the charter”?

According to the World Nuclear Association the 2005 Framework Agreement:

‘ … formally commits them [signatories] to participate in the development of one or more Generation IV systems selected by GIF for further R&D.’

Australia signed the charter on 22 June 2016 represented by Dr Adi Patterson, COE of the Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). — pending this Joint Standing Committee on Treaties review. ANSTO is to be the implementing agent.

When the Australian Government quietly signed up to the GIF, it made no commitment to any particular action towards developing new nuclear reactors.  Other countries – including Japan, Canada, France, South Korea – have committed to working on particular types of Generation IV reactors. Australia might be expected to not only fully sign up as a member of the charter but perhaps also to provide funding and resources to develop one or more types.

Australia’s signing of the GIF

Media reports indicate Australia made a bid, or approach, to join GIF. The active seeking out of such an agreement that is at odds with public opinion, at odds with the current government’s policy position on nuclear power and is inconsistent with Australian laws, which prohibit the use of this technology, is astounding…….

ANSTO makes a number of questionable assumptions about Australia joining in developing new nuclear reactors. For example, ANSTO claims that it would ‘further Australia’s non-proliferation and nuclear safety objectives’, and ‘further strengthen our claim as the most advanced nuclear country in SEAP’ and will position Australia to develop Generation IV reactors.

There are so many questions about — one hardly knows where to start:…….,10215#.WPbL2mlNX7g.twitter

April 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, technology | Leave a comment

Bid for rare earths mining and processing in Australia


Is there any awareness in Australia of the dangers of toxic radioactive trash from rare earths mining and processing?

Next mining boom in Australia will be driven by tech metals for renewable energy and technologies ABC Rural By Babs McHugh, 17 Apr 17  The Australian mining industry is on the verge of a new mining boom based around so-called tech metals.

And as the race cranks up across the nation to find new deposits of rare earths and other metals, industry itself is calling for the development of a value-adding component……

The tech metals complex is made up of rare earths and other minerals and metals that are used in what is referred to as the new economy. They are essential to making high technology componentry such as mobile phones, solar cells and autonomous vehicles.They are also used to make the different kinds of batteries needed to store power from renewable sources, and new types of lightweight engines to replace traditional combustion engines……..

Rare earth hunters also want local value-adding industry There are 17 rare earth elements on the periodic table, falling into the heavy rare earths or light rare earths depending on their atomic weight.

Up until recently, all rare earths were mined and exported from China, which has had a stranglehold on the industry and its pricing. Given their global importance, the race is well and truly on to find more rare earth deposits, and Australia is a favoured hunting ground.

“They’re actually quite ubiquitous in the Earth’s crust,” Arafura Resources managing director Gavin Lockyer said.”Why they’re associated with the term rare is the fact that it’s rare to find them in an economically recoverable quantity.”

Australia the perfect place for processing Arafura Resources has done that with its Nolans Bore project 135 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.The find is considered significant, featuring a 56-million-tonne deposit with a 40-year mine life. It is full of neodymium and praseodymium, which is used to make magnets, the bulk of which are now sourced from China.

“We really think there’s much more value-add to be had by doing downstream processing, and Australia is the perfect place to do that. “We’ve got an existing regulatory environment that covers things like water usage, environmental aspects, air pollutants, transport and disposal. “There’s already a well-established regime and bureaucracy in place to regulate that, and we think it’s better to do that at the mine site where it all happens, rather than trying to do it offshore and making it somebody else’s problem……

April 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, rare earths | Leave a comment

Australian government about to secretly sign up to participate in developing new nuclear reactors

Under the radar: Parliamentary Committee preparing for Australia to sign up to more participation in developing new nuclear reactors 

Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) inquiry into the Agreement for Research and Development on Generation IV nuclear reactors that Australia signed in June 2016, without any public discussion .

Inquiry Homepage: Submissions close 28 th April 2017 Inquiry Homepage:

There are six reactor technologies described as Gen IV. A 2014 industry update on the road map for development of these 6 technologies can be seen here. In short all 6 technologies are in the ‘viability’ (conceptual) or ‘performance’ (engineering) phase. The earliest prediction for the development of a prototype would be 2022, but it’s expected it will take much longer.
What are Gen IV (Generation IV Reactors) ? There are six reactor technologies described as Gen IV. A 2014 industry update on the road map for development of these 6 technologies can be seen here. In short all 6 technologies are in the ‘viability’ (conceptual) or ‘performance’ (engineering) phase. The earliest prediction for the development of a prototype would be 2022, but it’s expected it will take much longer.
What is the 2005 Framework Agreement aka ‘the Charter’? According to the World Nuclear Association the 2005 Framework agreement “formally commits them (signatories) to participate in the development of one or more Generation IV systems selected by GIF for further R&D.” Australia signed the ‘Charter’ on 22 nd June 2016 –by Dr Adi Patterson COE of the Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. (pending this JSCOT review). ANSTO is to be the implementing agent.
Australia’s signing of the GIF Media reports indicate Australia made a bid or approach to join GIF. The active seeking out of such an agreement that is at odds with public opinion, at odds with the current
Governments policy position on nuclear power and is inconsistent with Australian laws which prohibit the use of this technology is astounding.
What the Gov’t said in 2016 in relation to joining GIF: Christopher Pyne, said:

“Australia’s invitation to join this important global project marks an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of global innovation in the nuclear industry.” He added, “Inclusion in the GIF further strengthens Australia’s position as a nation that has the research muscle to deliver innovations on the global stage. It reinforces the governments 1 $billion National Innovation and Science Agenda, encouraging our best and brightest researchers to collaborate with international experts.”

Julie Bishop said in relation to joining GIF 

“Australia has firm non-proliferation goals and nuclear safety objectives, and contributing to the global conversation on this level is an opportunity to assist in the research that is making nuclear technologies safer around the world in the long term.”

April 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies, technology | Leave a comment

Plans for rare earths mine in Northern Territory

Arafura plans to mine, concentrate and chemically process rare earths at the Nolans site, 135km north-northwest of Alice Springs.The project is estimated to create up to 500 jobs in the two-to-three year construction phase, and employ a peak workforce of 300 in the operation phase, which is expected to exceed 40 years.

Construction is estimated to cost $866 million at Nolans, including an estimated $145 million in the Territory and $70 million in Central Australia. It is expected to cost $188 million a year to operate.

The draft EIS and associated specialist studies were on public exhibition for eight weeks last year and attracted 21 submissions, mostly from government departments.

Arafura’s NT general manager Brian Fowler said they were hoping to complete the environmental part of the project this year.

“All matters raised in these submissions were provided to Arafura for consideration and are responded to in the EIS supplement,” he said.

“We look forward to completing the approvals process for the environmental component of the project later this year.”

Rare earths are a collection of 15 elements in the periodic table that are relatively abundant in the earth’s crust, but uncommon to find in quantities that can be recovered economically, Mr Fowler said.

“They are essential to products with significant growth potential in markets associated with the electronics and technology industries, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction,” he said.

Until recently, rare earths were mostly mined, processed and refined in China and, along with Japan and the USA, China accounts for most of the world’s demand for rare earths. Continue reading

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Northern Territory, rare earths | Leave a comment

Australia’s clean transition to renewable energy – theme for January 2017


The whole point of renewable energy is that it is clean. And, for sure, the major fuels – sun and wind – are undoubtedly clean. However, renewable energy does require some components – rare earths – that certainly have a dirty radioactive  history, and may still have a dirty radioactive present.

rare-earths-pollution-ChinaTwo notorious historic examples of pollution from the production of rare earths are the Bukit Merah  project in Malaysia , and China’s project in Inner Mongolia

China is now controlling   rare earths’ production in a cleaner way.  but it would be naïve and simplistic to assume that its pollution problems have completely gone away.

Meanwhile Australian companies, too, are mining and processing rare earths. Lynas, in Malaysia, has had a history pf inadequate management of radioactive wastes, but now has improved its practices.  Greenland Minerals and Energy, about to mine rare earths in Greenland, is criticised for unsatisfactory planning for its radioactive waste tailings.

3 main approaches are being taken to this problem:

rare-earth-recyclingDesign for recycling. This is particularly appropriate for wind turbines.

Reduction in consumption of rare earths . This is not applicable to renewable energy, but rather to the rampant and wasteful  consumption of modern electronic gadgets –  often unnecessary, all too often a part of our throwaway culture.

clean-technologyDesign for green technologies that don’t require rare earths

Of course, like all modern industrial technologies, mining and manufacture and transport  of renewables do mean environmental disturbance.  But this is a balancing act, considering the environmental benefits of renewable energy.

The nuclear lobby pretends that renewable energy is environmentally dirty. In the 21st Century, it is vital that we acknowledge environmental problems, including that fact of radioactive waste from rare earths, and make sure that the production processes are clean, even if this adds to their cost.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes, energy, rare earths | 2 Comments

Australia’s proponents of nuclear submarines are way behind the times

nuke-bubbleNuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia  Paul Richards shared a link. 1 Jan 17 

Emerging this decade are the many challenges to the whole nuclear industries range of products from; medicine, reactors, weapons

Not to mention the always present 1940s backdoor issue that’s never been solved, that of nuclear waste management

This submarine news makes a joke of our neocon naval purchase, particularly if the goal was to put nuclear reactors into the Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A at some future point

The whole biased process used by those enamoured the nuclear industry is becoming increasingly obvious. Particularly, when this Swedish technological development must have been known about but discarded in favour of  the nuclear state, France. Who are a founding member of UN Security Council P5 and who as a group control all nuclear issues globally through the IAEA

Nonetheless, this is a notable problem with all nuclear infrastructure, that is, the slow technological development due to the magnitude of the complex physics difficulties. Issues that are becoming common knowledge and as such widely understood by the public as a secondary downside along with unsolved waste problem

Obsolescence is the biggest problem with all nuclear technology, and the whole industry struggles to survive without sovereign capital funding. Most importantly, because clean alternative technology is rapidly developed and easily recycled.

What is interesting is the catalytic conversion of C02 and water into diesel although in its infancy, has already been trialled as economically viable, as well as being CO2 neutral, and that is before the carbon industry started discounting oil. In all probability, blue or e-diesel will be a good, clean fuel for submarines given the exponential growth in German fuel technology and their incredible technological record as world leaders in catalytic technology

Is it any wonder Germany stepped off the whole nuclear cycle, with such advances rapidly developing, making current nuclear tech look so last century, dated and obsolete?

source: the national interest: an American bi-monthly international affairs magazine published by the Center for the National Interest

January 2, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies, technology | Leave a comment

Cyclotron – a little ray of light in Premier Weatherill’s otherwise dreary nuclear spiel

From Jay Weatherill’s  Response to Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report

“I’m also excited about the many positive commercial opportunities that are on the table for South Australia in nuclear medicine around the SAHMRI cyclotron.”

This IS one positive outcome from this long drawn out process. ra ra

Medical isotope production

November 16, 2016 Posted by | health, South Australia, technology | Leave a comment

South Australian govrenment sucked in by the Small Modular Nuclear Reactor lobby?

SMRs AustraliaThe SA Government’s “Energy Market Transition Plan”, obtained by Freedom of Information request, has revealed that prospects for small modular nuclear reactor deployment in South Australia have been explored.
SA government probes nuclear option as Premier Jay Weatherill promises cheaper power
7News Adelaide  September 7th
7 News can reveal a top level report clearly indicates small scale nuclear reactors have been on the short term radar. Mike Smithson reports

September 14, 2016 Posted by | South Australia, technology | Leave a comment