Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Uranium tailings at Olympic Dam – radioactive for at least 10,000 years- must be SAFELY managed!

Initial Scoping – Olympic Dam Expansion Issues 22 Feb 2019 David Noonan B.Sc., M.Env.St., Independent Environment Campaigner“……….Radioactive Tailings Management

The 1982 Indenture places an onus on the SA Gov. to grant approvals on terms to facilitate mining.

Roxby Tailings Storage Facilities are to be covered and ‘disposed’ above-ground as final landforms.

Civil society must not accept continued downgrade of standards in Roxby uranium mine expansions.

A full comprehensive safety assessment to determine long term risks from radioactive tailings must be a core required part of this assessment AND apply the 1999 standards set at Ranger mine.

The most recent assessment of Radioactive Tailings Management at Roxby granted Federal and SA Gov. Approvals (Nov 2011) to vastly increase tailings production (from the now lapsed open pit mine proposal) prior to actually carrying out this type of safety study on the long term risks from tailings.

The 2011 Roxby Approvals downgraded the key 1999 standards applied to Ranger uranium mine.

Instead of Federal Gov. required final disposal of tailings (in to a pit) “in such a way to ensure that:

  1. i)The tailings are physically isolated from the environment for at least 10,000 years;
  2. ii) ii) Any contaminants arising from the tailings will not result in any detrimental environmental impact for at least 10,000 years;” Olympic Dam Condition 32 Mine Closure (Nov 2011) defers a Mine Closure Plan and only applies unstated environmental outcomes: “that will be achieved indefinitely post mine closure”, and:

“c. contain a comprehensive safety assessment to determine long term (from closure to in the order of 10,000) risk to the public and the environment from the Tailings Storage Facility and Rock Storage Facility.”

Requiring outcomes to “be achieved indefinitely” does recognise that tailings risks are perpetual.

However, rather than specific high standards of outcome set at Ranger for at least 10,000 years, this 2011 approval has unstated outcomes and only references 10,000 yrs as a period of modelling study.

 In April 2013 Condition 32 was amended to further defer the safety risk assessment, from “within two years of the date of the approval”, to: “prior to the construction of the Tailings Storage Facility”.

 A “No Uranium Recovery” alternative leaves all uranium & associated radioactive decay products in the tails. Roxby mine extracts approx. 2/3 of the uranium from the ore, with 1/3 left in the tailings.

In current mining practice, tailings retain some 90 per cent of the radioactivity in the ore (given the decay product radionuclides remain, thorium & radium ect). Deporting all uranium to the tails doesn’t affect the public interest requirement, in any case, to isolate tailings for over 10,000 years.

 Note: BHP “Tailings Facility Update” (19 Feb 2019) claims a review shows “no significant deficiencies” at Olympic Dam Tailings Storage Facilities and says: “BHP supports calls for greater transparency in tailings management disclosure”. The BHP “Dams and Tailings Management” page cites “establishment of independent Tailings Stewardship Boards to undertake reviews”, and says: “A trial of the stewardship program has been completed at our Olympic Dam asset in SA”. https://nuclear.foe.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Noonan-Olympic-Dam-Expansion-2019.pdf

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March 9, 2019 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

BHP wants the South Australian government to further weaken standards at Olympic Dam uranium mine

Initial Scoping – Olympic Dam Expansion Issues 22 Feb 2019 David Noonan B.Sc., M.Env.St., Independent Environment Campaigner “………   Mine Expansion Assessment – to drive down Standards?

BHP will shortly release a formal Application to the SA Gov., the SA State Planning Commission & Mines Minister will decide the level of assessment and reporting requirements, and the SA Gov. release “Guidelines” to the EIS. Public consultation & NGO input should occur on draft Guidelines.

 These Guidelines to the EIS are crucial to the credibility of the mine expansion assessment and this process is likely to be conducted before the Federal election and to be near binding thereafter.

There are a range of reasons for concern over this Roxby mine expansion project and assessment:

  • Public interest appraisal of this 2019 project needs to draw on analysis of BHP Roxby operations from 2005-06 and expansion proposals, process, decisions & conditions to 2013;
  • The outdated 1982 Indenture imposes extraordinary legal privileges and vested interests of the proponent, including over Aboriginal Heritage, that are intended to continue to apply;
  • A new SA Mining Act currently before Parliament to apply updated standards to all other mining projects in SA is not proposed to apply to SA’s largest mine: BHP Olympic Dam;
  • Roxby is also governed by the Mine Works and Inspection Act 1920 which solely provides the powers for Mine Inspectors to enter & inspect and to make Orders, however the Depart has sought to repeal this Act and roll these powers over Roxby into the proponents Indenture;
  • The SA Gov.’s Major Project Declaration has sought to impose serious limitations on this assessment, contrary to the standards, coverage, analysis and transparency that are required to inform good public interest decisions and conditions in this case

; · Successive SA Gov.’s have failed to secure a Rehabilitation Bond over the Olympic Dam mine. This process must now do so, requiring a new appraisal of liabilities over all mine operations: existing, enabling 200 000 tpa, and proposed expansion works and impacts; ;

  • Olympic Dam should be subject to a statutory mandated 100 per cent Bond applying the ‘most stringent conditions’ over estimated Rehabilitation Liabilities to ensure full costs in radioactive ore mining are secured in advance. See D Noonan submission (April 2017) to the Federal Inquiry on Rehabilitation of Mining (due to report 20 March
  • 2019): https://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=3ecf8af6-a640-47d9-96c0-22c03df14728&subId=510447
  • Radioactive Tailings Storages at Roxby are designed and operated to leak liquid wastes, with inadequate lining to cut costs. The BHP open pit expansion proposal was also designed to leak. This 2019 expansion project is highly likely to be designed to leak and to cut costs by failing to require physical isolation of tailings from the environment for at least 10 000 years;
  • This assessment should include a range of alternatives to the proponent’s vested interest preferences, including that the ‘No Uranium Recovery’ option to only trade in copper and other non-radioactive products should be assessed across all Roxby operations;
  • The SA Gov. has a significant conflict of interest in this case and the ‘one stop shop’ Bilateral Assessment Agreement Clause 8.1, c (ii) seeks to constrain the coverage of Conditions applied by the Federal Minister. In practice, this Federal Liberal Gov. failed to impose Conditions on Radioactive Tailings Management in granting uranium mine Approvals in WA;
  • The next Federal Gov. must apply the ‘most stringent conditions’ on all uranium mining operations & reject ‘clearly unacceptable impacts’ on MNES under EPBC including on the fragile Mound Springs, as the State of South Australia can-not be relied upon to do so…….  https://nuclear.foe.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Noonan-Olympic-Dam-Expansion-2019.pdf

March 9, 2019 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Olympic Dam: Uranium responsibilities and alternative ‘No Uranium Recovery’

“Olympic Dam Mega-Expansion Without Uranium” Report Launch

Initial Scoping – Olympic Dam Expansion Issues 22 Feb 2019 David Noonan B.Sc., M.Env.St., Independent Environment Campaigner “………..Uranium responsibilities and alternative ‘No Uranium Recovery’

 Since opening in 1988, Roxby mine has produced toward 80 000 tonnes of uranium oxide and left toward approx. 200 million tonnes of radioactive tailings to remain above ground on-site for-ever.

While this Roxby project is assessed in 2019-20 to a cited BHP Board decision in late 2020, the RioTinto Ranger open pit mine will close and go onto rehabilitation, leaving BHP’s Roxby mine and General Atomics Beverley 4 Mile mine in SA as the only operating uranium mines in Australia.

The Nuclear Free Movement & allies have a responsibility to contest this BHP Roxby mine expansion:

  • Australian uranium (from both Roxby & Ranger mines) fueled the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, always produces intractable nuclear waste, and present’s ongoing dual-use nuclear weapons risks and untenable nuclear accident risks. Australia’s uranium sales deals are also marked by secrecy;
  • Australian uranium is routinely sold to nuclear weapon states failing to honor their NPT nuclear disarmament obligations, to non-transparent regimes in China (and previously Russia), and is intended to go on to unstable regions: to the UAE in the Middle East, to Ukraine, and to India – outside of the NPT and in a nuclear arms race with Pakistan.

This BHP Roxby expansion is intended to increase and to ‘lock in’ Australia’s complicity in untenable nuclear risks & impacts, rather than the needed phase out of uranium mining and export sales deals.

In response to the prior BHP Olympic Dam open pit mine plan, the Australian Greens released a report by academic Dr Gavin Mudd “The Olympic Dam Mega-Expansion Without Uranium Recovery” (Dec 2010), with no uranium and only non-radioactive products to leave the Roxby mine.

In the public interest, this technically viable alternative mine configuration – with significant reduced water usage, should be re-appraised in light of this 2019 Roxby mine expansion plan, see the 2010 Report at: http://users.monash.edu.au/~gmudd/files/Odam-Cu-only.pdf

As Senator Scott Ludlam & SA Greens MLC Mark Parnell have said, this is a challenge to BHP and to the SA & Federal gov’s to assess credible alternatives with better environmental outcomes – both here & overseas, see the Report Launch at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qAVtPYcNmU

Note: Uranium has declined over time as a share of Olympic Dam revenue to less than 20 per cent.

ACF/ D Noonan have campaigned for ‘No Uranium Recovery’ at existing & any expanded Roxby mine…….”. https://nuclear.foe.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Noonan-Olympic-Dam-Expansion-2019.pdf

March 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

BHP’s grand plans for Olympic Dam uranium mine, using old legislation for open slather on water, Aboriginal rights, environment

Initial Scoping – Olympic Dam Expansion Issues 22 Feb 2019 David Noonan B.Sc., M.Env.St., Independent Environment Campaigner The BHP Roxby ‘Major Project’ Copper & Uranium Mining Proposal: ‘Olympic Dreams: Major step for $3 billion, 1800-job North mine expansion’ (15 Feb, p.1 promo The Advertiser) as SA Gov. grant’s “Major Project” status to assess BHP’s latest expansion plan, to:

  • Increase copper production from 200,000 tonnes per annum to 350 000 tpa, with an increase in ‘associated products’ – uranium oxide: from 4 000 to approx. 6 000 tpa;
  •   Use the outdated 1982 Roxby Downs Indenture Ratification Act to control this EIS assessment under the Mining Minister, with the Indenture over-riding other SA legislation and subjecting Aboriginal Heritage to a constrained version of a 1979 Act across BHP Olympic Dam operations in the Stuart Shelf Area (covering 1 per cent of SA) – rather than the contemporary standards, process and protections in the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988;
  • Use a since replaced 1993 Development Act and “Major Project” status Sec. 46 (1) that excludes Appeals regarding the Environment Impact Statement (EIS) process and outcomes;
  • Use a ‘one stop shop’ Bilateral Assessment Agreement leaving the SA Gov. to conduct the assessment, including on Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES)under the Commonwealth Environment Protection legislation (EPBC Act 1999), on nuclear actions and on the fragile Mound Springs Endangered Ecological Community – reliant on GAB waters;
  • Use the SA Gov. Declaration to “Exclude” existing mining and “enabling activities” up to 200 000 tpa Cu & associated products and resultant impacts from this EIS assessment, “such as: waste treatment, storage and disposal, including but not limited to, Tailings Storage Facility 6, Evaporation Pond 6, additional cells for the contaminated waste disposal facility, and development of a low-level radioactive waste storage facility”;
  • And to increase extraction of Great Artesian Basin fossil water “up to total maximum 50 million litres a day annual average” (above the volumes last assessed in 1997 and set at a max of 42 Ml/day) and give BHP rights to take GAB water – potentially up to 2070, with “any augmented or new water supply pipeline from the GAB along with any other wellfield”;…… ……. . https://nuclear.foe.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Noonan-Olympic-Dam-Expansion-2019.pdf

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Olympic Dam, politics, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Traditional owners and Western Australia’s Conservation Council continue legal action, to uphold environmental law  

Battle against Yeelirrie uranium mine continues for traditional owners and Conservation Council     https://thewest.com.au/business/uranium/battle-against-yeelirrie-uranium-mine-continues-for-traditional-owners-and-conservation-council-ng-b881125927z 5 March 2019  Traditional owners and the Conservation Council of WA are continuing their fight against a proposed uranium mine, fearing unique subterranean fauna in the project area will be made extinct if it proceeds.
Former State environment minister Albert Jacob gave the green light to Cameco’s Yeelirrie mine proposal in January 2017, just 16 days before the pre-election caretaker mode began. Yeelirrie is 70km southwest of Wiluna in the Mid West region.Together with members of the Tjiwarl native title group, CCWA challenged the approval in the Supreme Court but lost, and have now taken their   battle to the Court of Appeal.  CCWA director Piers Verstegen said the previous government was desperate to lock-in a uranium project before it lost power, going against the advice of the Environmental Protection Authority, which was concerned about the impact of mining on subterranean fauna.

“Stygofauna might be a relatively obscure species. In fact, these particular species of stygofauna were not known to science until the proponent started exploring for uranium in that area,” Mr Verstegen said on Tuesday.

“But the legal precedent here has much broader implications.

“We’re certainly very keen to be upholding environmental laws … which were never intended to be used by a minister or a government to approve the extinction of species.”

The matter was heard on Tuesday and a decision will be handed down at a later date.

March 7, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, legal, opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) and three Tjiwarl Traditional Owners in court battle against uranium mining

WILDLIFE AND TRADITIONAL OWNERS REPRESENTED IN LANDMARK LEGAL CHALLENGE http://www.ccwa.org.au/landmark_legal_challenge?utm_campaign=nuclear_news68&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ccwa

The Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) and three Tjiwarl Traditional Owners have continued their landmark legal bid to prevent the extinction of multiple species and protect Aboriginal lands from uranium mining at Yeelirrie, with a hearing in the WA Court of Appeal today.

The Yeelirrie mine proposal by uranium miner Cameco in the Northern Goldfields on Tjiwarl Native Title land was approved by the Minister for the Environment in the final days of the Barnett Government, against the advice of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), and against the outcome of an appeals process.

The EPA found that the proposal would cause the extinction of multiple species of subterranean fauna.

Bret Walker SC, Dr Hannes Schoombee, and the Environmental Defenders Office WA (EDOWA) represented Traditional Owners and CCWA in the legal challenge to the environmental approval for the Yeelirrie uranium mine.

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said, “This important case is seeking to prevent the extinction of multiple species at Yeelirrie, and uphold the rights of Traditional Owners to protect sacred country from uranium mining.

“Mr Walker is one of Australia’s most eminent legal minds and his involvement with this case is an indication of its national legal significance.

“The approval of extinction at Yeelirrie at the stroke of a Minister’s pen cannot go unchallenged because it sets a dangerous precedent for all wildlife across Western Australia.

“We are proud to stand with three members of the Tjiwarl Native Title Group, Shirley and Elizabeth Wonyabong and Vicky Abdullah, who have been fighting to protect their country from uranium mining for many years.

“As well as the threat of extinction, Cameco’s uranium project would have a major impact on the landscape and ecosystems at Yeelirrie. It would involve a 9km open mine pit and processing plant, clearing 2421 hectares of native vegetation, and generating 36 million tonnes of radioactive mine waste to be stored in open pits.”

EDOWA Principal Solicitor Declan Doherty said, “This is a landmark case to test how Western Australia’s primary environmental law should be applied.

We argued that in approving the Yeelirrie uranium mine, Minister Albert Jacob failed to correctly follow the process set out in the relevant legislation.

“It will be an important test for how the legislation should be applied, which could have significant implications for future decisions of this kind.”

March 7, 2019 Posted by | legal, opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Olympic Dam Major Development Declaration

Olympic Dam Major Development Declaration, Friends of the Earth 28 Feb 19.  The South Australian Minister for Planning has declared that a proposal by BHP Ltd to expand the operations of the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine, located 550 km NNW of Adelaide, shall constitute a Major Development under section 46 of the Development Act 1993.

The proposal covers the expansion of mining and processing activities at Olympic Dam, including an additional take of water from the Great Artesian Basin. It allows for an increase in copper production from 200,000 tpa Cu and associated products to up to 350,000 tpa Cu and associated products, as well as new and/or expanded facilities to support the development.

The declaration of a Major Development takes the project outside the bounds of the usual development assessment process.  The type of assessment and reporting required for this project has yet to be decided by the State Planning Commission and Minister for Energy and Mining.  That decision will determine the degree of public consultation on offer, which this eBulletin will endeavor to report as soon as possible.

February 28, 2019 Posted by | South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

In this time of critical drought, water shortage, South Australia’s govt lets BHP expand its water-guzzling Olympic Dam uranium mine

 

Why does BHP get this water for free?

 

SA boost for Olympic Dam expansion  https://www.sbs.com.au/news/sa-boost-for-olympic-dam-expansion  15 Feb 19, The South Australian government has granted the expansion of the Olympic Dam project major development status.  BHP’s plans for a $3 billion expansion of its Olympic Dam project in South Australia’s north have been granted major development status by the state government.

The government’s move, gazetted on Thursday, clears the way for the company to increase annual copper production from 200,000 to 350,000 tonnes.

It also allows it to boost gold, silver and uranium production and to lift water extraction from the Great Artesian Basin to a maximum of 50 megalitres a day.

Declaring BHP’s proposed expansion of Olympic Dam a major development is a key milestone in this important project,” Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said.

“Olympic Dam is already the state’s largest mining operation, providing jobs, investment and royalties for South Australia.

“(This is) a very important project that, if it goes ahead, would contribute 1800 additional jobs in South Australia during construction, and another permanent 600 jobs on site at Olympic Dam.”

But the minister said the project was still subject to thorough assessment, particularly the plan to extract more water.

“All potential environmental impacts, potential social impacts, potential economic impacts will be considered incredibly thoroughly,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

Local communities will also be consulted on the company’s plans.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan said it would be several years before an expanded mine could begin operation.

The state government’s declaration also covers BHP’s development plans outside the mining lease, including proposals for extra accommodation. The proposed expansion of Olympic Dam has had a chequered history after first being mooted by the previous owners, Western Mining, back in 2002.

BHP initially proposed a $30 billion expansion, including development of one of the world’s largest open cut mines, but put the plans on hold in 2012.

The company has since been looking at lower-cost, smaller scale, alternatives to its original proposals.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

In New South Wales, government lets mining companies dodge costs for site rehabilitation.

NSW ‘accounting trick’ lets miners dodge appropriate rehabilitation costs, Guardian, Ben Smee


Lock the Gate accuses state government of placing interests of mining sector over those of taxpayers   New South Wales taxpayers could be shortchanged up to $500m by a state government “accounting trick” that allows mining companies to dodge paying appropriate contingency costs for site rehabilitation.A 2017 report by the NSW auditor general found that security deposits paid by miners for future rehabilitation were inadequate and made several recommendations, including that the “contingency” costs be increased.

Though not part of the formal recommendation, the report said contingency costs should range from 25% to 50% (of the estimated total rehabilitation cost).

The environmental group Lock the Gate has obtained a letter, through Freedom of Information, that shows the NSW Department of Planning and the Environment told a parliamentary committee last year it had accepted all of the auditor general’s recommendations, and that it had already increased contingency costs.

The department told Guardian Australia this week it had increased “contingencies” to 30%. But it later clarified that figure included “contingency” and two other metrics – project management costs and post-project environmental monitoring – which were dealt with separately by the audit.

The amount for “contingency” remains at the previous level of 10%.

Rick Humphries, the mine rehabilitation coordinator at Lock the Gate, said the new arrangements were “an accounting sleight of hand” that had the effect of not forcing mining companies to meet the standards outlined by the audit….. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/14/nsw-accounting-trick-lets-miners-dodge-appropriate-rehabilitation-costs

February 14, 2019 Posted by | environment, New South Wales, uranium | Leave a comment

Australian mining companies dominate in human rights abuses in African countries

Dirty deeds: how to stop Australian miners abroad being linked to death and destruction, The Conversation, Julia Dehm
Lecturer, La Trobe UniversityJanuary 23, 2019 
 Australian companies dominate African mining. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade counts 175 ASX-listed companies operating in 35 African countries. Professional services company PwC reckons there are more than 200, and that “a golden age of Australia-Africa relations has begun”.
But Australian miners also arguably stand implicated in both human rights and environmental abuses in pursuit of Africa’s mineral wealth.

The Human Rights Law Centre has documented serious human rights abuses in the overseas operations of a number of prominent Australian companies. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has linked Australian mining operations to deaths, destruction and displacement across Africa. ……….
Despite the Australian government endorsing the UN declaration – along with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which also covers human rights obligations – there is no real legal obligation for Australian companies operating overseas to abide by such principles.
…….In June 2017 the Australian government established an advisory group for implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The group quickly recommended developing a national action plan, in line with international standards. But in October the government announced it was “not proceeding with a national action plan at this time”.

We can do better

Other countries are doing more.

France has introduced a “duty of vigilance” law requiring companies ensure their supply chains respect labour and other human rights.

In Switzerland there is a push for a constitutional amendment obliging Swiss companies to incorporate respect for human rights and the environment in all their activities.

Canada is soon to appoint an independent Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise to investigate allegations of human rights abuses linked to Canadian corporate activity overseas.

It’s increasingly recognised on a purely pragmatic level there are legal, reputational and financial risks if companies attempt to operate without community consent. Studies show the huge financial costs of conflicts with Indigenous communities, which can delay projects significantly.
Australia law makers, therefore, can do both local communities overseas and domestic investors at home a favour by putting in place adequate mechanisms to ensure Australian companies cause no harm overseas.  https://theconversation.com/dirty-deeds-how-to-stop-australian-miners-abroad-being-linked-to-death-and-destruction-109407

January 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, uranium | Leave a comment

Ranger mine closure costs to hit more than $800m

Ranger mine closure costs to hit more than $800m NT News, 18 Jan 19, The Northern Territory’s Ranger mine is counting the millions — more than $800 million to be exact — to move the mine, which is surrounded by Kakadu National Park, towards full closure…. (subscribers only)

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Despite Tony Abbott, renewable energy investment has been promoted by Labor and the crossbench

Senate crossbench gave renewables $23bn boost by thwarting Abbott’s plan https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/06/senate-crossbench-gave-renewables-23bn-boost-by-thwarting-abbotts-plan, Paul Karp @Paul_Karp Sun 6 Jan 2019 

 Decisions by Labor and crossbench to save clean energy agencies encouraged investment, report says The Senate’s decisions to stop Tony Abbott abolishing clean energy agencies helped create renewable energy projects worth $23.4bn, a new report says.

The Australia Institute says decisions taken by Labor and the crossbench between 2013 and 2015 to save the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) have now secured $7.8bn in public funding and investment for clean energy.

Together with the renewable energy target – which was retained but reduced to 33,000GWh by 2020 – these measures will cut greenhouse gases by 334m tonnes over their lifetime, compared with 192m tonnes through the Coalition’s emissions reduction fund.

The Australia Institute released the Saved by the Bench report alongside polling that showed Australians supported the Senate’s role as a check on government power but were split on whether it blocked government legislation too often. Continue reading

January 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, uranium | Leave a comment

Dave Sweeney reflects on the achievements of Australia’s nuclear-free movement in 2018

 The days roll on and 2018 is about to be in the past tense.

As ever the year saw highs, lows and flatlines. It also saw sustained and successful resistance to the nuclear industry in Australia.

This note is a snapshot, not a definitive list, but I wanted to capture some of our collective efforts and achievements so in a quiet moment we can reflect and recharge – and know that we are making a real difference.

Thanks and solidarity to all – and best wishes for a good break and time with people and in places that freshen the spirit. I look forward to working with you all in season 2019.

Uranium: Less is being ripped and shipped

  • Kakadu: the clean-up of the Ranger site is underway – Mirarr native title of the region was formally recognised – Rio Tinto have accepted their responsibility to clean up – there was a calendar and a series of events around the country to mark twenty years since the Jabiluka blockade
  • uranium remains stalled and actively contested in WA: 2018 saw a decade since then Premier Barnett announced a fast tracked uranium sector that would be “iron ore on steroids” – there are no mines but there is a major legal challenge to the Yeelirrie project, procedural challenge to Mulga Rock and community resistance to the four proposed projects with actions at AgMs, project critiques, Walkatjurra Walkabout and more
  • Qld Labor reaffirmed its opposition to uranium mining at its state conference

Radioactive waste: Under pressure and delayed

 the federal plan for a national waste facility in regional SA is highly contested, behind schedule and increasingly uncertain

  • the issue was pushed ahead of the state election and SA Labor has subsequently adopted a good policy position
  • there is growing civil society awareness and engagement with the issue – especially through our trade union partners
  • the Barngarla people were formally awarded native title over the Kimba sites in June and have taken legal action over deficiencies in the Feds consultation processes
  • Adnyamathanha resistance to the proposed Flinders Ranges site is strong and they have lodged a complaint on the plan with the Australian Human Rights Commission
  • community resistance at both sites is sustained and strong with high levels of engagement and regular actions, events and media profile
  • Federal Labor policy has a long way to go but at its national conference in December Labor moved from a policy position dominated by sites and place to one of standards and process
  • Standing Strong – the story of the successful community fight against the earlier plan for an international radioactive waste dump in SA was launched and learned from
  • there was early and strong opposition to chatter around other potential radioactive waste sites – especially at Brewarrina (NSW) and Leonora (WA)

 

Nuclear weapons: the cold war is reheating and support for a weapons ban grows

 ICAN – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – has continued to build on its 2017 Nobel Peace Prize profile

  • there was sustained outreach and awareness initiatives, including a bike ride from Melbourne to Canberra
  • there is growing international support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons with more nations signing and ratifying the ban
  • federal Labor committed to sign and ratify the ban treaty at its national conference in Adelaide in December – a major step forward
  • the Peace Boat visited Australian waters and cities in January/February and the Black Mist, Burnt Country Maralinga exhibition continued touring

Broader nuclear free efforts

 ANFA – the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance – had a good gathering in the Adelaide Hills in October and there was clear recognition of the role of First Nation people in the atomic resistance with awards to crew in WA, Aunty Sue in SA and Jeffrey Lee gaining the German based Nuclear Free Future award in the global Resistance category

  • anniversaries were marked with actions, events and reflection – including Fukushima, Chernobyl, Hiroshima and Maralinga
  • people engaged in state and federal processes including Senate Estimates, Senate Inquiries into radioactive waste siting and mine rehabilitation, ARPANSA Codes of Practice and more
  • folks engaged with ALP state and federal conferences, the ACTU Congress, many union forums, SoS, the Sustainable Living Festival and more
  • we remained connected and updated via the efforts of Christina Macpherson, Maelor at ACF, Jim Green at WISE, KA at CCWA and Walkatjurra, WGAR news, 3CR’s Radioactive Show, Understory and more

Looking ahead to 2019 – Another big year ahead folks – and one where we consolidate, defend and grow

 

  • Challenges include:
  • the forever struggle of resourcing and capacity
  • pro-nuke voices pushing small modular reactors (SMRs) and seeking to overturn the ban on domestic nuclear power
  • Mineral Council of Australia and others seeking the removal of uranium mining as a ‘trigger’ action in the federal EPBC Act

  • We need to:
  • better braid the uranium story and struggle into the wider dirty energy-fracking- fossil fuel narrative
  • keep Rio Tinto and the regulators focussed and genuine re the best possible rehab outcomes at Ranger and keep the door shut to the uranium sector in WA
  • support affected communities facing radioactive waste dump plans and push federal Labor to adopt a different approach
  • pressure and support federal Labor to follow through on its commitment to sign and ratify the nuclear weapons ban
  • make Australian uranium companies operating overseas – often in jurisdictions with low governance – accountable for their impacts

December 30, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, opposition to nuclear, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Cost of rehabilitating Ranger uranium mine

World Nuclear News 7th Dec 2018 The estimated rehabilitation costs for the Ranger Project Area inAustralia’s Northern Territory have increased from AUD512 million (USD370
million) to AUD808 million, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has
announced. The estimate is based on preliminary findings from a feasibility
study which will be finalised in early 2019.
http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/ERA-updates-Ranger-rehabilitation-costs

December 10, 2018 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

 REPORT CASTS DOUBT OVER THE VIABILITY OF THE MULGA ROCK URANIUM PROJECT

December 3, 2018 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment