Australian news, and some related international items

Australian public unaware of the dangers of small nuclear reactors

Thorium advocates say that thorium reactors produce little radioactive waste, however, they simply produce a different spectrum of waste from traditional reactors, including many dangerous isotopes with extremely long half-lives. Technetium 99 has a half-life of 300,000 years and iodine 129 a half-life of 15.7 million years. 


February 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, technology | Leave a comment

Australia must learn to mine rare earths responsibly

 We Australians can be so righteous about our environmental credentials, but we don’t seem to notice the problems with renewable energy.

We must jump on to the circular economy.  If the world could RECYCLE rare earths elements –   there’d be so much less need for mining and processing of rare earths, with its problematic creation of radioactive wastes.

What is needed is DESIGN – clever design of all devices that use rare earths, so that these elements can be easily retrieved, to use again in new devices.
While renewable energy technologies are used in the same old way –  dig it up, throw away the wastes, we are locked in the  20th Century thinking – that also includes the aim of endless energy use, endless growth. 

Critical minerals are vital for renewable energy. We must learn to mine them responsibly Bénédicte Cenki-Tok, Associate professor at Montpellier University, EU H2020 MSCA visiting researcher, University of Sydney,  February 17, 2020 .  As the world shifts away from fossil fuels, we will need to produce enormous numbers of wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles and batteries. Demand for the materials needed to build them will skyrocket.

This includes common industrial metals such as steel and copper, but also less familiar minerals such as the lithium used in rechargeable batteries and the rare earth elements used in the powerful magnets required by wind turbines and electric cars. Production of many of these critical minerals has grown enormously over the past decade with no sign of slowing down.

Australia is well placed to take advantage of this growth – some claim we are on the cusp of a rare earths boom – but unless we learn how to do it in a responsible manner, we will only create a new environmental crisis.

One consequence of a massive transition to renewables will be a drastic increase not only in the consumption of raw materials (including concrete, steel, aluminium, copper and glass) but also in the diversity of materials used.

Three centuries ago, the technologies used by humanity required half a dozen metals. Today we use more than 50, spanning almost the entire periodic table. However, like fossil fuels, minerals are finite.

Can we ‘unlearn’ renewables to make them sustainable?

If we take a traditional approach to mining critical minerals, in a few decades they will run out – and we will face a new environmental crisis. At the same time, it is still unclear how we will secure supply of these minerals as demand surges.

This is further complicated by geopolitics. China is a major producer, accounting for more than 60% of rare earth elements, and significant amounts of tungsten, bismuth and germanium.

This makes other countries, including Australia, dependent on China, and also means the environmental pollution due to mining occurs in China.

The opportunity for Australia is to produce its own minerals, and to do so in a way that minimises environmental harm and is sustainable.

Where to mine?

Australia has well established resources in base metals (such as gold, iron, copper, zinc and lead) and presents an outstanding potential in critical minerals. Australia already produces almost half of lithium worldwide, for example…….

Fuelling the transition

For most western economies, rare earth elements are the most vital. These have electromagnetic properties that make them essential for permanent magnets, rechargeable batteries, catalytic converters, LCD screens and more. Australia shows a great potential in various deposit types across all states.

The Northern Territory is leading with the Nolans Bore mine already in early-stage operations. But many other minerals are vital to economies like ours.

Cobalt and lithium are essential to ion batteries. Gallium is used in photodetectors and photovoltaics systems. Indium is used for its conductive properties in screens.

Critical minerals mining is seen now as an unprecedented economic opportunity for exploration, extraction and exportation.

Recent agreements to secure supply to the US opens new avenues for the Australian mining industry.

How can we make it sustainable?

Beyond the economic opportunity, this is also an environmental one. Australia has the chance to set an example to the world of how to make the supply of critical minerals sustainable. The question is: are we willing to?

Many of the techniques for creating sustainable minerals supply still need to be invented. We must invest in geosciences, create new tools for exploration, extraction, beneficiation and recovery, treat the leftover material from mining as a resource instead of waste, develop urban mining and find substitutes and effective recycling procedures.

In short, we must develop an integrated approach to the circular economy of critical minerals. One potential example to follow here is the European EURARE project initiated a decade ago to secure a future supply of rare earth elements.

More than ever, we need to bridge the gap between disciplines and create new synergies to make a sustainable future. It is essential to act now for a better planet.


February 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, rare earths | Leave a comment

Experienced physicist doubts the value of small modular nuclear reactors for Australia

Despite a good safety record, nuclear power is not straight forward, THE AUSTRALIAN, Leslie Cook 20 Jan 2020

As a physicist with the British Atomic Energy Authority in the 1960s, I remember the scale and complexity of the task and the breadth of expertise required in science, engineering and regulation, even if an existing design is used.

This simply does not exist in Australia. Nor does the necessary construction capacity — and the thought of the CFMEU controlling concrete pours of 18,000 cubic metres is daunting. Small modular reactors exist only on paper at present and will also require infrastructure. ,

January 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology | Leave a comment

Australia as the salvation of the nuclear industry?

Australia is the great ‘white’ hope for the global nuclear industry, Independent Australia, By Noel Wauchope | 19 November 2019, The global nuclear industry is in crisis but that doesn’t stop the pro-nuclear lobby from peddling exorbitantly expensive nuclear as a “green alternative”. Noel Wauchope reports.

The global nuclear industry is in crisis. Well, in the Western world, anyway. It is hard to get a clear picture of  Russia and China, who appear to be happy putting developing nations into debt, as they market their nuclear reactors overseas with very generous loans — it helps to have stte-owned companies funding this effort.

But when it comes to Western democracies, where the industry is supposed to be commercially viable, there’s trouble. The latest news from S&P Global Ratings has made it plain: nuclear power can survive only with massive tax-payer support. Existing large nuclear  reactors need subsidies to continue, while the expense of building new ones has scared off investors.

So, for the nuclear lobby, ultimate survival seems to depend on developing and mass marketing “Generation IV” small and medium reactors (SMRs). …..

for the U.S. marketers, Australia, as a politically stable English-speaking ally, is a particularly desirable target. Australia’s geographic situation has advantages. One is the possibility of making Australia a hub for taking in radioactive wastes from South-East Asian countries. That’s a long-term goal of the global nuclear lobby.   …..

In particular, small nuclear reactors are marketed for submarines. That’s especially important now, as a new type of non-nuclear submarine – the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) submarine, faster and much cheaper – could be making nuclear submarines obsolete. The Australian nuclear lobby is very keen on nuclear submarines: they are now promoting SMRs with propagandists such as Heiko Timmers, from Australian National University. This is an additional reason why Australia is the great white hope.

I use the word “white” advisedly here because Australia has a remarkable history of distrust and opposition to this industry form Indigenous Australians…..

The hunt for a national waste dump site is one problematic side of the nuclear lobby’s push for Australia. While accepted international policy on nuclear waste storage is that the site should be as near as possible to the point of production, the Australian Government’s plan is to set up a temporary site for nuclear waste, some 1700 km from its production at Lucas Heights. The other equally problematic issue is how to gain political and public support for the industry, which is currently banned by both Federal and state laws. SMR companies like NuScale are loath to spend money on winning hearts and minds in Australia while nuclear prohibition laws remain.

Ziggy Switkowski, a long-time promoter of the nuclear industry, has now renewed this campaign — although he covers himself well, in case it all goes bad, noting that nuclear energy for Australia could be a “catastrophic failure“. ……

his submission (No. 41) to the current Federal Inquiry into nuclear power sets out only one aim, that

‘… all obstacles … be removed to the consideration of nuclear power as part of the national energy strategy debate.’

So the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) should be changed, according to Switkowski. In an article in The Australian, NSW State Liberal MP Taylor Martin suggested that the Federal and state laws be changed to prohibit existing forms of nuclear power technology but to allow small modular reactors.

Switkowski makes it clear that the number one goal of the nuclear lobby is to remove Australia’s national and state laws that prohibit the nuclear industry. And, from reading many pro-nuclear submissions to the Federal Inquiry, this emerges as their most significant aim.

It does not appear that the Australian public is currently all agog about nuclear power. So, it does seem a great coincidence that so many of their representatives in parliaments – Federal, VictorianNew South WalesSouth Australia and members of a new party in Western Australia – are now advocating nuclear inquiries, leading to the repeal of nuclear prohibition laws.

We can only conclude that this new, seemingly coincidental push to overturn Australia’s nuclear prohibition laws, is in concert with the push for a national nuclear waste dump in rural South Australia — part of the campaign by the global nuclear industry, particularly the American industry, to kickstart another “nuclear renaissance”, before it’s too late.

Despite its relatively small population, Australia does “punch above its weight” in terms of its international reputation and as a commercial market. The repeal of Australia’s laws banning the nuclear industry would be a very significant symbol for much-needed new credibility for the pro-nuclear lobby. It would open the door for a clever publicity drive, no doubt using “action on climate change” as the rationale for developing nuclear power.

In the meantime, Australia has abundant natural resources for sun, wind and wave energy, and could become a leader in the South-East Asian region for developing and exporting renewable energy — a much quicker and more credible way to combat global warming.,13326

November 19, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, technology | Leave a comment

Enthusiastic (misplaced) call for tax-payer funded Mars colonisation research

When will these starry-eyed enthusiasts wake up to the intimate connection between space-Mars research, and Donald Trump’s nuclear-war-in-space project?
CALLS FOR A MARS RESEARCH STATION TO BE BUILT IN OUTBACK SOUTH AUSTRALIA, NZGeo, NOVEMBER 10, 2019,It’s unlikely that humans will call Mars home any time soon, but researchers think the arid Australian outback could help give us a clearer understanding of how to survive on the Red Planet.

Mars Society Australia has renewed its push for a Mars research station simulation to be built in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, in outback South Australia.

The site would replicate a future Mars community, complete with a fake rocket ship, laboratories, rovers and scientists in spacesuits doing field experiments in rocky outcrops.

“It will allow us to do a wide range of activities that support the vision of human presence on Mars,” the society’s president, Jonathan Clarke, said.

“We can train people in field science and space operations in the area, and we can do education and outreach programmes…….

It’s leveraging off the creation of Australia’s new space agency, as well as US president Donald Trump’s hasty plan for America to return to the Moon by 2024, and hopefully go on to Mars. ……

In September, the Australian government announced it would invest $A150 million ($NZ162m) for Australian businesses and researchers to join the US’s Mars exploration project……

November 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology | Leave a comment

The failure of nuclear reprocessing and the “Plutonium Economy”

October 26, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, technology, wastes | Leave a comment

Kalgoorlie Mayoral Candidate John Katahana wants a Small Nuclear Reactor for the town

Cannabis, nuclear power and Mardi Gras: General Hercules’ out-of-this-world pitch for Kalgoorlie mayoral tilt, The West Australian, 

Tegan Guthrie, Kalgoorlie Miner Saturday, 12 October 2019 A mini nuclear power station, cannabis cafe, a Mardi Gras parade, an observatory and a new nightlife precinct are among 303 steps in a Kalgoorlie-Boulder improvement plan floated by mayoral candidate John “General Hercules” Katahanas.
Mr Katahanas is gunning for the mayoral seat again, after receiving 277 votes in the 2015 election, and says he is “quietly confident” voters will get behind his campaign, promising he would be “more like a mother than a mayor” to the city……..

October 14, 2019 Posted by | technology, Western Australia | Leave a comment

As Morrison and Australia’s richest suck up to Trump, plan for rare earths business

Morrison and Trump open new front in China trade war with rare earth ‘action plan’, SMH, By Matthew Knott and David Crowe, September 21, 2019  Prime Minister Scott Morrison will throw Australian support behind US President Donald Trump in a bid to counter China’s dominance in vital raw materials as part of a historic state visit to the US capital.

The “action plan” will open a new front against China in a widening technology and trade war by exploiting Australian reserves of the rare earths and other materials that are essential for products ranging from iPhones to batteries and hybrid cars.

Mr Morrison arrived in Washington DC with a message for Mr Trump that positioned Australia as an ideal friend that would back its longstanding ally on Israel, Iran and wider defence policy……

Mr Morrison wants Mr Trump and his colleagues to see Australia as their strongest military ally over the past century and is using the visit to pledge the same close alliance for the century ahead.

Mr Trump’s officials believe the joint plan with Australia will improve the security of supply of materials in critical shortage, saying this will ensure economic security for both partners…….

US officials also praised Australia as a “tremendous partner” in opposing Iran’s nuclear program and interference in shipping, while Mr Morrison made it clear he backed the US in its support for Israel – a totemic issue for Mr Trump.

“Under my government we have taken an even stronger stand against the biased and unfair targeting of Israel in the UN General Assembly,” Mr Morrison says in the draft of his speech to the State Department………

The menu served to guests including golfer Greg Norman, businesswoman Gina Rinehart and media mogul Rupert Murdoch will include sunchoke ravioli, Dover sole and lady apple tart with ice cream for dessert.

Following his visit to Washington, Mr Morrison will travel to Chicago to meet the governor of Illinois, then Ohio to visit a new recycling plant owned by Australian billionaire Richard Pratt and on to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

September 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths | Leave a comment

Exposing misleading evidence to the federal nuclear inquiry

Big claims and corporate spin about small nuclear reactor costs, Jim Green, 19 September 2019, RenewEconomy

The ‘inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia’ being run by Federal Parliament’s Environment and Energy Committee has finished receiving submissions and is gradually making them publicly available.

The inquiry is particularly interested in ‘small modular reactors’ (SMRs) and thus one point of interest is how enthusiasts spin the economic debate given that previous history with small reactors has shown them to be expensive; the cost of the handful of SMRs under construction is exorbitant; and both the private sector and governments around the world have been unwilling to invest the billions of dollars required to get high-risk SMR demonstration reactors built.

To provide a reality-check before we get to the corporate spin, a submission to the inquiry by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis notes that SMRs have been as successful as cold fusion – i.e., not at all. The submission states:

“The construction of nuclear power plants globally has proven to be an ongoing financial disaster for private industry and governments alike, with extraordinary cost and construction time blow-outs, while being a massive waste of public monies due to the ongoing reliance on government financial subsidies. … Governments have repeatedly failed to comprehend that nuclear construction timelines and cost estimates put forward by many corporates (with vested interests) have proven disastrously flawed and wrong.”

The Institute is equally scathing about SMRs:

“For all the hype in certain quarters, commercial deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) have to-date been as successful as hypothesized cold fusion – that is, not at all. Even assuming massive ongoing taxpayer subsidies, SMR proponents do not expect to make a commercial deployment at scale any time soon, if at all, and more likely in a decade from now if historic delays to proposed timetables are acknowledged.”

Thus the Institute adds its voice to the chorus of informed scepticism about SMRs, such as the 2017 Lloyd’s Register survey of 600 industry professionals and experts who predicted that SMRs have a “low likelihood of eventual take-up, and will have a minimal impact when they do arrive“.

Corporate spin #1: Minerals Council of Australia

The Minerals Council of Australia claims in its submission to the federal inquiry that SMRs could generate electricity for as little as $60 per megawatt-hour (MWh). That claim is based on a report by the Economic and Finance Working Group (EFWG) of the Canadian government-industry ‘SMR Roadmap’ initiative.

The Canadian EFWG gives lots of possible SMR costs and the Minerals Council’s use of its lowest figure is nothing if not selective. The figure cited by the Minerals Council assumes near-term deployment from a standing start (with no-one offering to risk billions of dollars to build demonstration reactors), plus extraordinary learning rates in an industry notorious for its negative learning rates.

Dr. Ziggy Switkowski noted in his evidence to the federal inquiry that “nuclear power has got more expensive, rather than less expensive”. Yet the EFWG paper takes a made-up, ridiculously-high learning rate and subjects SMR cost estimates to eight ‘cumulative doublings’ based on the learning rate. That’s creative accounting and one can only wonder why the Minerals Council would present it as a credible estimate.

Here are the first-of-a-kind SMR cost estimates from the EFWG paper, all of them far higher than the figure cited by the Minerals Council:

  • 300-megawatt (MW) on-grid SMR:    C$162.67 (A$179) / MWh
  • 125-MW off-grid heavy industry:       C$178.01 (A$196) / MWh
  • 20-MW off-grid remote mining:         C$344.62 (A$380) / MWh
  • 3-MW off-grid remote community:    C$894.05 (A$986) / MWh

The government and industry members on the Canadian EFWG are in no doubt that SMRs won’t be built without public subsidies:

“The federal and provincial governments should, in partnership with industry, investigate ways to best risk-share through policy mechanisms to reduce the cost of capital. This is especially true for the first units deployed, which would likely have a substantially higher cost of capital than a commercially mature SMR.”

The EFWG paper used a range of estimates from the literature and vendors. It notes problems with its inputs, such as the fact that many of the vendor estimates have not been independently vetted, and “the wide variation in costs provided by expert analysts”. Thus, the EFWG qualifies its findings by noting that “actual costs could be higher or lower depending on a number of eventualities”.

Corporate spin #2: NuScale Power

US company NuScale Power has put in a submission to the federal nuclear inquiry, estimating a first-of-a-kind cost for its SMR design of US$4.35 billion / gigawatt (GW) and an nth-of-a-kind cost of US$3.6 billion / GW.

NuScale doesn’t provide a $/MWh estimate in its submission, but the company has previously said it is targeting a cost of US$65/MWh for its first SMR plant. That is 2.4 lower than the US$155/MWh (A$225/MWh) estimate based on the NuScale design in a report by WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff prepared for the SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

NuScale’s cost estimates should be regarded as promotional and will continue to drop – unless and until the company actually builds an SMR. The estimated cost of power from NuScale’s non-existent SMRs fell from US$98-$108/MWh in 2015 to US$65/MWh by mid-2018. The company announced with some fanfare in 2018 that it had worked out how to make its SMRs almost 20% cheaper – by making them almost 20% bigger!

Lazard estimates costs of US$112-189/MWh for electricity from large nuclear plants. NuScale’s claim that its electricity will be 2-3 times cheaper than that from large nuclear plants is implausible. And even if NuScale achieved costs of US$65/MWh, that would still be higher than Lazard’s figures for wind power (US$29-56) and utility-scale solar (US$36-46).

Likewise, NuScale’s construction construction cost estimate of US$4.35 billion / GW is implausible. The latest cost estimate for the two AP1000 reactors under construction in the US state of Georgia (the only reactors under construction in the US) is US$12.3-13.6 billion / GW. NuScale’s target is just one-third of that cost – despite the unavoidable diseconomies of scale and despite the fact that every independent assessment concludes that SMRs will be more expensive to build (per GW) than large reactors.

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

Corporate spin #3: Australian company SMR Nuclear Technology

In support of its claim that “it is likely that SMRs will be Australia’s lowest-cost generation source”, Australian company SMR Nuclear Technology Pty Ltd cites in its submission to the federal nuclear inquiry a 2017 report by the US Energy Innovation Reform Project (EIRP).

According to SMR Nuclear Technology, the EIRP study “found that the average levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) from advanced reactors was US$60/MWh.”

However the cost figures used in the EIRP report are nothing more than the optimistic estimates of companies hoping to get ‘advanced’ reactor designs off the ground. Therefore the EIRP authors heavily qualified the report’s findings:

“There is inherent and significant uncertainty in projecting NOAK [nth-of-a-kind] costs from a group of companies that have not yet built a single commercial-scale demonstration reactor, let alone a first commercial plant. Without a commercial-scale plant as a reference, it is difficult to reliably estimate the costs of building out the manufacturing capacity needed to achieve the NOAK costs being reported; many questions still remain unanswered – what scale of investments will be needed to launch the supply chain; what type of capacity building will be needed for the supply chain, and so forth.”

SMR Nuclear Technology’s conclusions – that “it is likely that SMRs will be Australia’s lowest-cost generation source” and that low costs are “likely to make them a game-changer in Australia” – have no more credibility than the company estimates used in the EIRP paper.

SMR Nuclear Technology’s submission does not note that the EIRP inputs were merely company estimates and that the EIRP authors heavily qualified the report’s findings.

The US$60/MWh figure cited by SMR Nuclear Technology is far lower than all independent estimates for SMRs:

  • The 2015/16 South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission estimated costs of A$180-184/MWh for large light-water reactors, compared to A$225 for an SMR based on the NuScale design (and a slightly lower figure for the ‘mPower’ SMR design that was abandoned in 2017 by Bechtel and Babcock & Wilcox).
  • A December 2018 report by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator found that electricity from SMRs would be more than twice as expensive as that from wind or solar power with storage costs included (two hours of battery storage or six hours of pumped hydro storage).
  • report by the consultancy firm Atkins for the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found that electricity from the first SMR in the UK would be 30% more expensive than that from large reactors, because of diseconomies of scale and the costs of deploying first-of-a-kind technology. Its optimistic SMR cost estimate is US$107-155 (A$157-226) / MWh.
  • A 2015 report by the International Energy Agency and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency predicted that electricity from SMRs will be 50−100% more expensive than that from large reactors, although it holds out some hope that large-volume factory production could reduce costs.
  • An article by four pro-nuclear researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy, published in 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, concluded than an SMR industry would only be viable in the US if it received “several hundred billion dollars of direct and indirect subsidies” over the next several decades.

SMR Nuclear Technology’s assertion that “nuclear costs are coming down due to simpler and standardised design; factory-based manufacturing; modularisation; shorter construction time and enhanced financing techniques” is at odds with all available evidence and it is at odds with Dr. Ziggy Switkowski’s observation in a public hearing of the federal inquiry that nuclear “costs per kilowatt hour appear to grow with each new generation of technology”.

SMR Nuclear Technology claims that failing to repeal federal legislative bans against nuclear power would come at “great cost to the economy”. However the introduction of nuclear power to Australia would most likely have resulted in the extraordinary cost overruns and delays that have crippled every reactor construction project in the US and western Europe over the past decade – blowouts amounting to A$10 billion or more per reactor.

Nor would the outcome have been positive if Australia had instead pursued non-existent SMR ‘vaporware‘.

Dr Jim Green is lead author of a Nuclear Monitor report on SMRs and national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia.

September 19, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, reference, secrets and lies, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

Dr Helen Caldicott on the unsafety of Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

HELEN CALDICOTT: Small modular reactors — same nuclear disasters–same-nuclear-disasters,13087

By Helen Caldicott | 9 September 2019  The Morrison Government has opened the door to the notion of nuclear power as peddled by the nuclear sociopaths.

Now that the “nuclear renaissance” seems dead and buried following the Fukushima catastrophe (one-sixth of the world’s nuclear reactors were closed after the accident), the corporations invested in making nuclear plants and radioactive waste –including Toshiba, Nu-Scale, Babcock and Wilcox, GE Hitachi, General Atomics and the Tennessee Valley Authority – are not to be defeated.

Their new strategy is to develop small modular reactors (SMR), which can be sold around the world without, they say, the dangers inherent in large reactors — safety, cost, proliferation risks and radioactive waste.

There are basically three types of SMRs which generate less than 300 megawatts of electricity compared to the current 1,000-megawatt reactors.

Light water reactor 

These will be smaller versions of present-day pressurised water reactors using water as the moderator and coolant but with the same attendant problems as Fukushima and Three Mile Island. They are to be built underground, which obviously makes them dangerous to access in the event of an accident or malfunction.

They will be mass-produced (turnkey production) and large numbers must be sold yearly to make a profit. This is an unlikely prospect because major markets – China and India – will be uninterested in buying U.S. reactors when they can make their own.

If a safety problem arises, such as with the Dreamliner plane, all of them will have to be shut down — interfering substantially with electricity supply.

SMRs will be expensive because the cost of unit capacity increases with decrease in the size of the reactor. Billions of dollars of government subsidies will be required because Wall Street will not touch nuclear power. To alleviate costs, it is suggested that safety rules be relaxed — including reducing security requirements and a reduction in the ten-mile emergency planning zone to 1,000 feet.

Non-light water

These are high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGR) or pebble bed reactors. Five billion tiny fuel kernels of high-enriched uranium or plutonium will be encased in tennis-ball-sized graphite spheres which must be made without cracks or imperfections — or else they could lead to an accident. A total of 450,000 such spheres will slowly be released continuously from a fuel silo, passing through the reactor core, and then re-circulated ten times. These reactors will be cooled by helium gas operating at very high temperatures (900 C).

The plans are to construct a reactor complex consisting of four HTGR modules located underground to be run by only two operators in a central control room. It is claimed that HTGRs will be so safe that a containment building will be unnecessary and operators can even leave the site — “walk-away-safe” reactors.

However, should temperatures unexpectedly exceed 1600 degrees Celsius, the carbon coating will release dangerous radioactive isotopes into the helium gas and at 2000 C, the carbon would ignite creating a fierce graphite Chernobyl-type fire.

If a crack develops in the piping or building, radioactive helium would escape and air would rush in igniting the graphite.

Although HTGRs produce small amounts of low-level waste, they create larger volumes of high-level waste than conventional reactors.

Despite these obvious safety problems and despite the fact that South Africa has abandoned plans for HTGRs, the U.S. Department of Energy has unwisely chosen the HTGR as the “Next Generation Nuclear Plant”.

Liquid metal fast reactors 

It is claimed by the proponents that fast reactors will be safe, economically competitive, proliferation-resistant and sustainable.

They are to be fueled by plutonium or highly enriched uranium, and cooled by either liquid sodium or a lead-bismuth molten coolant creating a potentially explosive situation. Liquid sodium burns or explodes when exposed to air or water and lead-bismuth is extremely corrosive producing very volatile radioactive elements when irradiated.

Should a crack occur in the reactor complex, liquid sodium would escape burning or exploding. Without coolant, the plutonium fuel would melt and reach critical mass, inciting a massive nuclear explosion. One-millionth of a gram of plutonium induces cancer and it lasts for 500,000 years. Yet it is claimed that fast reactors will be so safe that no emergency sirens will be required and emergency planning zones can be decreased from ten miles to 1,300 feet.

There are two types of fast reactors, a simple plutonium fueled reactor and a “breeder”. The plutonium reactor core can be surrounded by a blanket of uranium 238, the uranium captures neutrons and converts to plutonium creating ever more plutonium.

Some are keen about fast reactors because plutonium waste from other reactors can be fissioned converting it to shorter-lived isotopes like caesium and strontium which last “only” 600 years instead of 500,000. But this is fallacious thinking because only ten per cent is fissioned leaving 90 per cent of the plutonium for bomb-making and so on.


Three small plutonium fast reactors will be arranged together forming a module. Three of these modules will be buried underground and all nine reactors will connect to a fully automated central control room. Only three reactor operators situated in one control room will be in control of nine reactors. Potentially, one operator could simultaneously face a catastrophic situation triggered by the loss of off-site power to one unit at full power, in another shut down for refuelling and in one in start-up mode.

There are to be no emergency core cooling systems.

Fast reactors will require a massive infrastructure including a reprocessing plant to dissolve radioactive waste fuel rods in nitric acid, chemically removing the plutonium and a fuel fabrication facility to create new fuel rods. A total of 15,000 to 25,000 kilos of plutonium are required to operate a fuel cycle at a fast reactor and just 2.5 kilos is fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Thus, fast reactors and breeders will provide the perfect plan for nuclear weapons proliferation and despite this danger, the industry plans to sell them to many countries.

September 10, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology | Leave a comment

Scrutiny on proposal for thorium nuclear reactors for Australia

New nuclear power proposal needs public  debate,13071

By Helen Caldicott | 4 September 2019  The prospect of thorium being introduced into Australia’s energy arrangements should be subjected to significant scrutiny, writes Helen Caldicott.

AS AUSTRALIA is grappling with the notion of introducing nuclear powerinto the country, it seems imperative the general public understand the intricacies of these technologies so they can make informed decisions. Thorium reactors are amongst those being suggested at this time.

The U.S. tried for 50 years to create thorium reactors, without success. Four commercial thorium reactors were constructed, all of which failed. And because of the complexity of problems listed below, thorium reactors are far more expensive than uranium fueled reactors.

The longstanding effort to produce these reactors cost the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars, while billions more dollars are still required to dispose of the highly toxic waste emanating from these failed trials.

The truth is, thorium is not a naturally fissionable material. It is therefore necessary to mix thorium with either enriched uranium 235 (up to 20% enrichment) or with plutonium – both of which are innately fissionable – to get the process going.

While uranium enrichment is very expensive, the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from uranium powered reactors is enormously expensive and very dangerous to the workers who are exposed to toxic radioactive isotopes during the process. Reprocessing spent fuel requires chopping up radioactive fuel rods by remote control, dissolving them in concentrated nitric acid from which plutonium is precipitated out by complex chemical means.

Vast quantities of highly acidic, highly radioactive liquid waste then remain to be disposed of. (Only is 6 kilograms of plutonium 239 can fuel a nuclear weapon, while each reactor makes 250 kilos of plutonium per year. One millionth of a gram of plutonium if inhaled is carcinogenic.)

So there is an extraordinarily complex, dangerous and expensive preliminary process to kick-start a fission process in a thorium reactor.

When non-fissionable thorium is mixed with either fissionable plutonium or uranium 235, it captures a neutron and converts to uranium 233, which itself is fissionable. Naturally it takes some time for enough uranium 233 to accumulate to make this particular fission process spontaneously ongoing.

Later, the radioactive fuel would be removed from the reactor and reprocessed to separate out the uranium 233 from the contaminating fission products, and the uranium 233 then will then be mixed with more thorium to be placed in another thorium reactor.

But uranium 233 is also very efficient fuel for nuclear weapons. It takes about the same amount of uranium 233 as plutonium 239 – six kilos – to fuel a nuclear weapon. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has already, to its disgrace, ‘lost track’ of 96 kilograms of uranium 233.

A total of two tons of uranium 233 were manufactured in the United States. This material naturally requires similar stringent security measures used for plutonium storage for obvious reasons. It is estimated that it will take over one million dollars per kilogram to dispose of the seriously deadly material.

An Energy Department safety investigation recently found a national repository for uranium 233 in a building constructed in 1943 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

It was in poor condition. Investigators reported an environmental release from many of the 1,100 containers could

‘… be expected to occur within the next five years because some of the packages are approaching 30 years of age and have not been regularly inspected.’

The DOE determined that this building had:

Deteriorated beyond cost-effective repair and significant annual costs would be incurred to satisfy both current DOE storage standards, and to provide continued protection against potential nuclear criticality accidents or theft of the material.

The DOE Office of Environmental Management now considers the disposal of this uranium 233 to be ‘an unfunded mandate’.

Thorium reactors also produce uranium 232, which decays to an extremely potent high-energy gamma emitter that can penetrate through one metre of concrete, making the handling of this spent nuclear fuel extraordinarily dangerous.

Although thorium advocates say that thorium reactors produce little radioactive waste, they simply produce a different spectrum of waste to those from uranium-235. This still includes many dangerous alpha and beta emitters, and isotopes with extremely long half-lives, including iodine 129 (half-life of 15.7 million years).

No wonder the U.S. nuclear industry gave up on thorium reactors in the 1980s. It was an unmitigated disaster, as are many other nuclear enterprises undertaken by the nuclear priesthood and the U.S. government.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, thorium | Leave a comment

Dr Jim Green explodes the Australian Financial Review ‘s propaganda promoting Small Modular Nuclear Reactorsll

August 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, reference, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

Lynas’ radioactive waste – still a toxic issue in Malaysia

Australian mining company Lynas gets permission to dispose of radioactive waste in Malaysia, dividing locals ABC 

Key points:

  • Malaysia has renewed the rare earth plant licence of Australian company Lynas
  • Green groups say Lynas’ activities pose a threat to the local environment
  • Lynas says it will meet the licence obligations set by Malaysia’s Government

Outside of China, the Australian firm, Lynas, is the world’s only major producer of rare earth minerals, which are crucial in the production of high-tech gear including smartphones, laser-guided missiles and electric car batteries.

The ore is dug up at Mount Weld in Western Australia and then shipped to Malaysia, where the cost of processing is significantly lower.

The low-level radioactive waste is a by-product of the enrichment process and Malaysian activists are convinced it poses a threat to local communities.

At a recent protest in Kuantan, several hundred people rallied against the Australian firm and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s decision to extend its licence to operate.

“[The radioactivity] will be passed through our children and our children’s children,” said Moses Lim, a chemical engineer turned activist.

“We may be gone, but our grandchildren will curse us.”

Mr Lim claimed the issue had the potential to “tarnish the good name of Australia” in the minds of millions of Malaysians. But the Prime Minister, 94-year-old Dr Mahathir, dismissed criticism of Lynas’ operations in Malaysia.

“It’s not Chernobyl. This isn’t going to be dangerous,” he said.

‘We just have to accept this fate’

The issue has split the local community, which relies on the hundreds of high-paying jobs that the processing facility provides.

At a local fish market in Kuantan, a mother who declined to offer her name told the ABC she feared radioactive contamination from the facility would make its way into her food.

“I am scared, but I have no choice but to buy the fresh fish from here. We just have to accept this fate,” she said.

“I think Lynas should be shut down for the sake of the surrounding environment.”

But other locals said there was nothing to worry about, blaming politicians for trying to capitalise on the issue by whipping up fear in the community.

Raja Harris bin Raja Salleh, the chief fisher in Balok village, said the residents are “not at all scared”.

“Lynas is the same as other agencies and factories that produce chemicals. The accusations against Lynas are political,” he said.

Toxic waste becomes a toxic issue

The issue of Lynas’ radioactive waste has become politically toxic for the Mahathir-led coalition, which promised in opposition to close the Australian plant.

Now in government after last year’s shock election result, there has been a major backing down.

Lynas is allowed to keep operating its plant and has been given six months to find a suitable site within Malaysia to permanently dispose of 580,000 tonnes of low-level radioactive waste currently stockpiled at the Kuantan facility.

The company has also been given four years to relocate its cracking and leaching processing operation — which creates the radioactive waste — to Western Australia.

Wong Tak, a Malaysian Government MP who attended the Kuantan protest, said the cabinet decision to extend the licence was a “great disappointment”.

The long time anti-Lynas campaigner claimed the issue was serious enough to fracture the Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope, Coalition.

“I know the majority of backbenchers are with us, and I will even say the majority of the cabinet are with the people.”

Dr Mahathir has taken a pragmatic approach to the issue, saying the decision to extend the licence was based on expert advice, not the “popular view”.

“Either we get rid of the industry and lose credibility in terms of foreign direct investment, or we can take care of the problem,” he said……

The fate of Lynas in Malaysia is being keenly watched around the world amid concerns rare earth materials could become a bargaining chip in the ongoing US-China trade war.

In 2010, the Chinese supply of rare earths to Japan suddenly stopped for two months following a territorial dispute over Japan’s claim to the Senkaku Islands, which angered China.

The construction of the Lynas plant in Malaysia was largely funded in 2011 by Japan, which needed a reliable supply of rare earths.

China currently holds a near-monopoly on the production of rare earth minerals, with Lynas producing about 13 per cent of global supply.

August 22, 2019 Posted by | politics international, rare earths | Leave a comment


Friends of the Earth Australia Statement August 2019 

  1. Introduction 2. Nuclear Power Would Inhibit the Development of More Effective Solutions 3. The Nuclear Power Industry is in Crisis 4. Small Modular Reactors 5. Nuclear Weapons Proliferation and Nuclear Winter 6. A Slow Response to an Urgent Problem 7. Climate Change & Nuclear Hazards: ‘You need to solve global warming for nuclear plants to survive.’ 8. Nuclear Racism 9. Nuclear Waste 10. More Information 
  2. Introduction 

Support for nuclear power in Australia has nothing to do with energy policy – it is instead an aspect of the ‘culture wars‘ driven by conservative ideologues (examples include current and former politicians Clive Palmer, Tony Abbott, Cory Bernardi, Barnaby Joyce, Mark Latham, Jim Molan, Craig Kelly, Eric Abetz, and David Leyonhjelm; and media shock-jocks such as Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and Peta Credlin). With few exceptions, those promoting nuclear power in Australia also support coal, they oppose renewables, they attack environmentalists, they deny climate change science, and they have little knowledge of energy issues and options. The Minerals Council of Australia – which has close connections with the Coalition parties – is another prominent supporter of both coal and nuclear power. 

In January 2019, the Climate Council, comprising Australia’s leading climate scientists and other policy experts, issued a policy statement concluding that nuclear power plants “are not appropriate for Australia – and probably never will be”. The statement continued: “Nuclear power stations are highly controversial, can’t be built under existing law in any Australian state or territory, are a more expensive source of power than renewable energy, and present significant challenges in terms of the storage and transport of nuclear waste, and use of water”. 

Friends of the Earth Australia agrees with the Climate Council. Proposals to introduce nuclear power to Australia are misguided and should be rejected for the reasons discussed below (and others not discussed here, including the risk of catastrophic accidents). 

  1. Nuclear Power Would Inhibit the Development of More Effective Solutions 

Renewable power generation is far cheaper than nuclear power. Lazard’s November 2018 report on levelised costs of electricity found that wind power (US$29‒56 per megawatt-hour) and utility-scale solar (US$36‒46 / MWh) are approximately four times cheaper than nuclear power (US$112‒189 / MWh). 

A December 2018 report by the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator concluded that “solar and wind generation technologies are currently the lowest-cost ways to generate electricity for Australia, compared to any other new-build technology.” 

Thus the pursuit of nuclear power would inhibit the necessary rapid development of solutions that are cheaper, safer, more environmentally benign, and enjoy far greater public support. A 2015 IPSOS poll found 

that support among Australians for solar power (78‒87%) and wind power (72%) is far higher than support for coal (23%) and nuclear (26%). 

Renewables and storage technology can provide a far greater contribution to power supply and to  climate change abatement compared to an equivalent investment in nuclear power. Peter Farley, a fellow of the Australian Institution of Engineers, wrote in January 2019: “As for nuclear the 2,200 MW Plant Vogtle [in the US] is costing US$25 billion plus financing costs, insurance and long term waste storage. For the full cost of US$30 billion, we could build 7,000 MW of wind, 7,000 MW of tracking solar, 10,000 MW of rooftop solar, 5,000MW of pumped hydro and 5,000 MW of batteries. That is why nuclear is irrelevant in Australia.” 

Dr. Ziggy Switkowski ‒ who led the Howard government’s review of nuclear power in 2006 ‒ noted in 2018 that “the window for gigawatt-scale nuclear has closed”, that nuclear power is no longer cheaper than renewables and that costs are continuing to shift in favour of renewables

Globally, renewable electricity generation has doubled over the past decade and costs have declined sharply. Renewables account for 26.5% of global electricity generation. Conversely, nuclear costs have increased four- fold since 2006 and nuclear power’s share of global electricity generation has fallen from its 1996 peak of 17.6% to its current share of 10%. 

As with renewables, energy efficiency and conservation measures are far cheaper and less problematic than nuclear power. A University of Cambridge study concluded that 73% of global energy use could be saved by energy efficiency and conservation measures. Yet Australia’s energy efficiency policies and performance are among the worst in the developed world. 

  1. The Nuclear Power Industry is in Crisis 

The nuclear industry is in crisis with lobbyists repeatedly acknowledging nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis”, a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West” and “the crisis that the nuclear industry is presently facing in developed countries”, while noting that “the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies” and engaging each other in heated arguments about what if anything can be salvaged from the “ashes of today’s dying industry”. 

It makes no sense for Australia to be introducing nuclear power at a time when the industry is in crisis and when a growing number of countries are phasing out nuclear power (including Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Taiwan and South Korea). 

The 2006 Switkowski report estimated the cost of electricity from new reactors at A$40–65 / MWh. Current estimates are four times greater at A$165‒278 / MWh. In 2009, Dr. Switkowski said that a 1,000 MW power reactor in Australia would cost A$4‒6 billion. Again, that is about one-quarter of all the real-world experience over the past decade in western Europe and north America, with cost estimates of reactors under construction ranging from A$17‒24 billion (while a reactor project in South Carolina  was abandoned after the expenditure of at least A$13.3 billion). 

Thanks to legislation banning nuclear power, Australia has avoided the catastrophic cost overruns and crises that have plagued every recent reactor project in western Europe and north America. Cheaper Chinese or Russian nuclear reactors would not be accepted in Australia for a multitude of reasons (cybersecurity, corruption, repression, safety, etc.). South Korea has been suggested as a potential supplier, but South Korea is slowly phasing out nuclear power, it has little experience with its APR1400 reactor design, and South Korea’s ‘nuclear mafia‘ is as corrupt and dangerous as the ‘nuclear village‘ in Japan which was responsible for the Fukushima disaster. 

  1. Small Modular Reactors 

The Minerals Council of Australia claims that small modular reactors (SMRs) are “leading the way in cost”. In fact, power from SMRs will almost certainly be more expensive than power from large reactors because of diseconomies of scale. The cost of the small number of SMRs under construction is exorbitant. Both the private sector and governments have been unwilling to invest in SMRs because of their poor prospects. The December 2018 report by the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator found that even if the cost of power from SMRs halved, it would still be more expensive than wind or solar power with storage costs included (two hours of battery storage or six hours of pumped hydro storage). 

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

No SMRs are operating and about half of the small number under construction have nothing to do with climate change abatement – on the contrary, they are designed to facilitate access to fossil fuel resources in the Arctic, the South China Sea and elsewhere. Worse still, there are disturbing connections between SMRs, nuclear weapons proliferation and militarism more generally. 

  1. Nuclear Weapons Proliferation and Nuclear Winter 

“On top of the perennial challenges of global poverty and injustice, the two biggest threats facing human civilisation in the 21st century are climate change and nuclear war. It would be absurd to respond to one by increasing the risks of the other. Yet that is what nuclear power does.” ‒ Australian

Nuclear power programs have provided cover for numerous covert weapons programs and an expansion of nuclear power would exacerbate the problem. After decades of deceit and denial, a growing number of nuclear industry bodies and lobbyists now openly acknowledge and even celebrate the connections between nuclear power and weapons. They argue that troubled nuclear power programs should be further subsidised such that they can continue to underpin and support weapons programs. 

For example, US nuclear lobbyist Michael Shellenberger previously denied power–weapons connections but now argues that “having a weapons option is often the most important factor in a state pursuing peaceful nuclear energy”, that “at least 20 nations sought nuclear power at least in part to give themselves the option of creating a nuclear weapon”, and that “in seeking to deny the connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons, the nuclear community today finds itself in the increasingly untenable position of having to deny these real world connections.” 

Former US Vice President Al Gore has neatly summarised the problem: “For eight years in the White House, every weapons-proliferation problem we dealt with was connected to a civilian reactor program. And if we ever got to the point where we wanted to use nuclear reactors to back out a lot of coal … then we’d have to put them in so many places we’d run that proliferation risk right off the reasonability scale.” 

Running the proliferation risk off the reasonability scale brings the debate back to climate change. Nuclear warfare − even a limited, regional nuclear war involving a tiny fraction of the global arsenal − has the potential to cause catastrophic climate change. The problem is explained by Alan Robock in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: “[W]e now understand that the atmospheric effects of a nuclear war would last for at least a decade − more than proving the nuclear winter theory of the 1980s correct. By our calculations, a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan using less than 0.3% of the current global arsenal would produce climate change unprecedented in recorded human history and global ozone depletion equal in size to the current hole in the ozone, only spread out globally.” 

Nuclear plants are also vulnerable to security threats such as conventional military attacks (and cyber-attacks such as Israel’s Stuxnet attack on Iran’s enrichment plant), and the theft and smuggling of nuclear materials. Examples of military strikes on nuclear plants include the destruction of research reactors in Iraq by Israel and the US; Iran’s attempts to strike nuclear facilities in Iraq during the 1980−88 war (and vice versa); Iraq’s attempted strikes on Israel’s nuclear facilities; and Israel’s bombing of a suspected nuclear reactor site in Syria in 2007. 

6. A Slow Response to an Urgent Problem 

Expanding nuclear power is impractical as a short-term response to climate change. An analysis by Australian economist Prof. John Quiggin concludes that it would be “virtually impossible” to get a nuclear power reactor operating in Australia by 2040. 

More time would elapse before nuclear power has generated as much as energy as was expended in the construction of the reactor. A University of Sydney report states: “The energy payback time of nuclear energy is around 6.5 years for light water reactors, and 7 years for heavy water reactors, ranging within 5.6–14.1 years, and 6.4–12.4 years, respectively.” 

Taking into account planning and approvals, construction, and the energy payback time, it would be a quarter of a century or more before nuclear power could even begin to reduce greenhouse emissions in Australia … and then only assuming that nuclear power displaced fossil fuels.

  1. Climate Change & Nuclear Hazards: ‘You need to solve global warming for nuclear plants to survive.’ 

“I’ve heard many nuclear proponents say that nuclear power is part of the solution to global warming. It needs to be reversed: You need to solve global warming for nuclear plants to survive.” ‒ Nuclear engineer David Lochbaum

Nuclear power plants are vulnerable to threats which are being exacerbated by climate change. These include dwindling and warming water sources, sea-level rise, storm damage, drought, and jelly-fish swarms. 

At the lower end of the risk spectrum, there are countless examples of nuclear plants operating at reduced power or being temporarily shut down due to water shortages or increased water temperature during heatwaves (which can adversely affect reactor cooling and/or cause fish deaths and other problems associated with the dumping of waste heat in water sources). In the US, for example, unusually hot temperatures in 2018 forced nuclear plant operators to reduce reactor power output more than 30 times

At the upper end of the risk spectrum, climate-related threats pose serious risks such as storms cutting off grid power, leaving nuclear plants reliant on generators for reactor cooling. 

‘Water wars’ will become increasingly common with climate change − disputes over the allocation of increasingly scarce water resources between power generation, agriculture and other uses. Nuclear power reactors consume massive amounts of cooling water − typically 36.3 to 65.4 million litres per reactor per day. The World Resources Institute noted last year that 47% of the world’s thermal power plant capacity ‒ mostly coal, natural gas and nuclear ‒ are located in highly water-stressed areas. 

By contrast, the REN21 Renewables 2015: Global Status Report states: “Although renewable energy systems are also vulnerable to climate change, they have unique qualities that make them suitable both for reinforcing the resilience of the wider energy infrastructure and for ensuring the provision of energy services under changing climatic conditions. System modularity, distributed deployment, and local availability and diversity of fuel sources − central components of energy system resilience − are key characteristics of most renewable energy systems.” 

  1. Nuclear RacismTo give one example (among many), the National Radioactive Waste Management Act dispossesses and disempowers Traditional Owners in every way imaginable: 
    • The nomination of a site for a radioactive waste dump is valid even if Aboriginal owners were not consulted and did not give consent. 
    • The Act has sections which nullify State or Territory laws that protect archaeological or heritage values, including those which relate to Indigenous traditions. 

The nuclear industry has a shameful history of dispossessing and disempowering Aboriginal people and communities, and polluting their land and water, dating from the British bomb tests in the 1950s. The same attitudes prevail today in relation to the uranium industry and planned nuclear waste dumps and the problems would be magnified if Australia developed nuclear power. 

The Act curtails the application of Commonwealth laws including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 and the Native Title Act 1993 in the important site-selection stage. 

  • The Native Title Act 1993 is expressly overridden in relation to land acquisition for a radioactive waste dump.

9. Nuclear Waste

Decades-long efforts to establish a repository and store for Australia’s low-and intermediate-level nuclear waste continue to flounder and are currently subject to legal and Human Rights Commission complaints and challenges, initiated by Traditional Owners of two targeted sites in South Australia. Establishing a repository for high-level nuclear waste from a nuclear power program would be far more challenging as Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan has noted

Globally, countries operating nuclear power plants are struggling to manage nuclear waste and no country has a repository for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste. The United States has a deep underground repository for long-lived intermediate-level waste, called the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). However the repository was closed from 2014‒17 following a chemical explosion in an underground waste barrel. Costs associated with the accident are estimated at over A$2.9 billion

Safety standards fell away sharply within the first decade of operation of the WIPP repository ‒ a sobering reminder of the challenge of safely managing nuclear waste for millennia.

  1. More Information 
  • Climate Council, 2019, ‘Nuclear Power Stations are Not Appropriate for Australia – and Probably Never Will Be‘ 
  • WISE Nuclear Monitor, 25 June 2016, ‘Nuclear power: No solution to climate change‘ 
  • Friends of the Earth Australia nuclear power online resources 

August 15, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, technology, wastes | Leave a comment

Spent nuclear fuel from small nuclear reactors would pose a real problem for Australia

August 12, 2019 Posted by | technology, wastes | Leave a comment