Australian news, and some related international items

BHP betrays international safety efforts

September 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Why NuScam and other ”small” nuclear proposals just don’t make any sense

New nuclear projects, like this NuScale proposal, make no sense, Deseret,  By Robert Davies, Contributor  Sep 18, 2020, The debate over nuclear power has ramped up recently in Utah, with a number of the state’s municipal power agencies wrestling with continued participation in an experimental nuclear project in Idaho, the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems/NuScale project.

Much has already been written about the project itself. Though proponents tout benefits of cost and reliability, two municipalities so far, Logan and Lehi, have recently opted out of further participation, citing mainly financial concerns over an experimental design with delays and cost overruns mounting rapidly. Still, this extremely expensive energy might be worth it ― if the environmental benefits, particularly for climate change, were significant.

Climate change is regarded within the full scientific community as a bona fide civilizational emergency ― that is, a situation requiring immediate, meaningful response to avoid catastrophic outcomes. For the climate emergency, meaningful response means cutting global carbon emissions at least in half in the next decade, and eliminating them entirely in the next two to three decades.

Electricity generation, as roughly a third of the current carbon emissions, is a large piece of the equation ― and it is on this point that nuclear power has been worth considering. Indeed, the project’s developers, having christened the endeavor the “Carbon Free Power Project,” are emphasizing the climate angle. And if the question were about building new nuclear generation versus new fossil (coal or natural gas) generation, they would have a point; the clear winner with respect to climate would be nuclear.

But this isn’t the question. In rapidly decarbonizing the electrical grid, the name of the game is replacing existing high-carbon (coal and gas) with new low-carbon, as quickly as possible.

……..proposed new nuclear makes no sense ― because it isn’t competing with fossils. Instead, new nuclear is competing with low-carbon renewables, chiefly solar and wind. And it simply can’t compete.

Investing in new nuclear projects to combat climate change is akin to the crew of the Titanic devoting time to building a whole new ocean liner instead of putting all their effort into loading the lifeboats; it steals time and resources from a much better alternative. Any money spent on new nuclear could buy us four to six times more wind and solar energy, available in months instead of a decade. And, remember, the next 10 years are critical.

Faced with this reality, UAMPS/NuScale proponents have said they want a mostly renewable grid, but supplemented by just a bit of nuclear for “baseload” ― and that this is necessary.

The refrain of 20th century-era power managers is that renewables like wind and solar aren’t reliable (“The wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine … ”) and so constantly humming “baseload” is necessary for reliability. It sounds reasonable, but like most bumper-sticker wisdom, doesn’t hold up. In fact, it is objectively, demonstrably wrong.

The technologies of energy storage (utility-scale battery systems, for example) and demand management (when the energy is used) have transformed the landscape. Traditional “baseload” is no longer a necessary grid attribute. Anyone who says it is simply isn’t keeping up.

In Australia, for example, a 100-megawatt utility-scale battery system (about 1.5 times bigger than one of NuScale’s nuclear modules) is already proving more reliable and 90% cheaper than the “baseload” natural gas system it’s replacing. ………

new nuclear makes no sense whatsoever ― financially, or far more importantly, for addressing climate change.

The UAMPS/NuScale project is a poor choice for the planet, for our nation and for Utah’s independent municipal power companies. A bright future is possible if we’re smart and focused; the nuclear power trap is a distraction we can’t afford.

Robert Davies is an associate professor of professional practice in Utah State University’s department of physics. His work focuses on global change, human sustainability and critical science communication.

September 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology | Leave a comment

Julian Assange was offered a pardon, if he would name a source

Trump ‘associates’ offered Assange pardon in return for emails source, court hears
WikiLeaks founder was asked to reveal source of leak damaging to Hillary Clinton, hearing told, 
Guardian,  Peter Beaumont in London, Sat 19 Sep 2020   Two political figures claiming to represent Donald Trump offered Julian Assange a “win-win” deal to avoid extradition to the US and indictment, a London court has heard.

Under the proposed deal, outlined by Assange’s barrister Jennifer Robinson, the WikiLeaks founder would be offered a pardon if he disclosed who leaked Democratic party emails to his site, in order to help clear up allegations they had been supplied by Russian hackers to help Trump’s election in 2016.

According to a statement from Robinson read out to the court, the offer was made by the then Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Trump associate Charles Johnson at a meeting on 15 August 2017 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange was then sheltering. At the time he was under secret investigation by a US grand jury.

Robinson added: “The proposal put forward by Congressman Rohrabacher was that Mr Assange identify the source for the 2016 election publications in return for some kind of pardon, assurance or agreement which would both benefit President Trump politically and prevent US indictment and extradition.”

……….. The barrister added that Assange did not name the source of the emails.While Assange’s legal team first made the claim in February detailing a deal for a pardon in exchange for denying the source of the emails was Russia, Robinson’s statement – admitted as evidence by the court – provides substantial details of the meeting………

Robinson’s description of the offer suggests Trump was prepared to consider a pardon for Assange in exchange for information almost a year before a federal grand jury issued a sealed indictment against the WikiLeaks founder.

If it is confirmed that the approach did indeed have the approval of Trump, it would mark the latest in a number of interventions by the US president in relation to the investigation into Russian election interference.

In her statement, Robinson said Rohrabacher and Johnson “wanted us to believe they were acting on behalf of the president”.

“They stated that President Trump was aware of and had approved of them coming to meet with Mr Assange to discuss a proposal – and that they would have an audience with the president to discuss the matter on their return to Washington DC,” she said……

Appearing to confirm that the approach had been made, James Lewis QC, for the US government, said: “The position of the government is we don’t contest these things were said,” adding: We obviously do not accept the truth of what was said by others.” …….

September 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Young Australians call for COVID-19 recovery plan with climate jobs Australians protest outside Government offices demanding the Morrison Government implement a Climate Jobs Guarantee as part of the COVID-19 recovery.

September 19, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

What Frogs Can Teach Us about the State of the World

We currently find ourselves on the other side of a stark but intangible line created by the climate tipping points we’ve blown past for and at our leisure, the virulent diseases we’ve helped spread, and the habitats we’ve destroyed in the name of peace and quiet. Being on this side of the line is a lot like grieving: we are in an “after” time.

And, as with other forms of grieving, in times defined by disease and mass extinction, we need to bear witness. We can be quiet and press record to capture what is still there. We can cup our hands around our ears and listen.

What Frogs Can Teach Us about the State of the World, By tracking amphibian songs, citizen scientists are helping us understand what’s happening to our environment, The Walrus , BY CAITLIN STALL-PAQUET 18 Sept 20, 

T’S AN HOUR after sunset, one night in early April, and I’m standing on the side of a dirt road in my hometown of Frelighsburg, Quebec, with my hands cupped around my ears. I’m listening for the calls of anurans—amphibians without a tail, so frogs and toads. I am here, more specifically, to hear the croaks of wood frogs, which are one of the first species to peek their little brown heads out after a long winter of hibernation.

This isn’t just recreational listening, mind you—this is also for science. I am a volunteer observer, one of several who are gathering data about dwindling amphibian populations in this region. Continue reading

September 19, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison turns to socialism, with his new religion, not coal, but “gas-led recovery”

It’s a small church that sings the gas gospel, Canberra Times, Michelle Grattan, 18 Sep 20, 

If Labor were threatening to build a power station, the Liberals would likely be screaming “socialists”.

As for a Coalition government contemplating such a thing – well, to say the obvious, it hardly fits with the Liberals’ stated free-market, private-enterprise philosophy. But hey, neither does the hyper-Keynesian support package to cushion the economy through the pandemic.

Only a few within its own ranks would dispute the government’s COVID-19 mega-spending, whatever the ideological contradiction. And they’re keeping their voices to private whispers.

The gas power plant is another matter, and it will be fascinating to see how the debate plays out if the threat turns into reality.

The threat is part of the go-with-gas policy unveiled by Scott Morrison this week, spruiked as driving a “gas-fired” recovery, especially for manufacturing. This sounds suspiciously like a three-word slogan that promises more than it is likely to deliver.

But Morrison has signed up to the church of gas, whose pastors include Nev Power, chairman of the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 commission, and Andrew Liveris, the head of its (now defunct) manufacturing taskforce, which delivered a pro-gas report.

Much of the gas plan is broad and aspirational at this stage. But the threat is specific enough.

Morrison said the electricity sector must lock in by April investments to deliver 1000MW of new dispatchable energy to replace the Liddell coal-fired power station before it closes in 2023. Or else. The government-owned Snowy Hydro was working on options, he said.

Going back to Malcolm Turnbull’s time, the government conducted – and lost – a bitter battle with AGL over the planned Liddell closure. It exerted maximum pressure on the company to extend the life of the station, or alternatively to sell it, but to no avail.

The gas policy, especially the threat, hasn’t gone down well – with the energy sector or environmentalists. And it’s come under criticism from experts and even from within Coalition ranks.

The Australian Energy Council, representing investors and generators, warned the spectre of a government gas generator could put off private investors.

Environmentalists are against gas anyway, whoever produces it, because it is a fossil fuel and therefore has emissions, albeit not as bad as coal.

The Nationals’ Matt Canavan, who not so long ago was resources minister, says if a new power station is to be built in the Hunter region it should be coal-fired.

And the director of the Grattan Institute’s energy program, Tony Wood, says the government’s claim that 1000MW of new dispatchable capacity is needed isn’t supported by the advice from its own Liddell taskforce.

More generally, Wood argues the idea of a gas-led recovery is “a mirage”.

He says east-coast gas prices are unlikely to fall to very low levels and anyway, even very low prices would not stimulate major economic activity. “Investing in more gas infrastructure in the face of climate change looks more like a herd of stampeding white elephants” is Wood’s blunt assessment…….

Critics don’t like the proposed expansion of the remit of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation beyond supporting renewables.

September 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Julian Assange exposed “a very serious pattern of actual war crimes”

Speaking on the significance of the WikiLeaks releases, Ellsberg said, “It was clear to me that these revelations, like the Pentagon papers, had the capability of informing the public that they had been seriously misled about the nature of the [Iraq and Afghan] war[s], the progress of the war, the likelihood that it would be ended successfully or at all, and that this was information of the highest importance to the American public.”

Characterising the wars that WikiLeaks exposed, Ellsberg explained, “The Iraq war was clearly recognisable, even to a layman, as a crime against the peace, as an aggressive war.”

September 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Morrison thinks gas is the new coal, and it’s just as big a climate threat — RenewEconomy

The main threat to climate action comes from people who say they’re trying to help, when really, they’re enriching themselves by harming us. The post Morrison thinks gas is the new coal, and it’s just as big a climate threat appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Morrison thinks gas is the new coal, and it’s just as big a climate threat — RenewEconomy

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

September 18 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “The Climate Alarms Are Blaring – Are People Not Hearing Them?” • One has to wonder – are we unable to perceive the climate’s warning signs? As human beings, we have the ability to learn that for every action, there is a reaction. However, it seems that we as a species are choosing […]

September 18 Energy News — geoharvey

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Snowy 2.0 rapidly turning into “$10 billion white elephant,” experts say — RenewEconomy

Open letter to the PM warns that Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project will blow out to roughly double original cost estimates to around $10 billion. The post Snowy 2.0 rapidly turning into “$10 billion white elephant,” experts say appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Snowy 2.0 rapidly turning into “$10 billion white elephant,” experts say — RenewEconomy

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Does Scott Morrison have any idea what a big battery can actually do? — RenewEconomy

It appears that Scott Morrison and his advisors know more about the Big Banana and the Kardashians than they do about big batteries. And that’s a problem. The post Does Scott Morrison have any idea what a big battery can actually do? appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Does Scott Morrison have any idea what a big battery can actually do? — RenewEconomy

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“First of its kind” solar panel upcycling plant on cards after federal grant win — RenewEconomy

Melbourne-based company wins grant to set up first of its kind solar panel “upcycling plant,” to transform solar panel waste into value-added materials. The post “First of its kind” solar panel upcycling plant on cards after federal grant win appeared first on RenewEconomy.

“First of its kind” solar panel upcycling plant on cards after federal grant win — RenewEconomy

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Did she lie to the Senate? – Samantha Chard, Chief of National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce

Public servant accused of lying to Senate committee,  Sally Whyte  15 Sep 20

A senior public servant has been accused of lying to a Senate committee and only correcting the evidence given when a Freedom of Information request was set to expose her.

Independent senator Rex Patrick made the accusation under parliamentary privilege in a dissenting report on a government bill on radioactive waste management.

In a hearing for the inquiry in June, general manager of the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce Samantha Chard was asked whether she had been involved in discussions around judicial review of decisions made under section 14 of the bill.

Ms Chard said she didn’t recall talking about it in her personal discussions, but Senator Patrick said he would use Freedom of Information to see if that was the case.

The Freedom of Information request was sent three days after the hearing, and Ms Chard clarified her evidence to the inquiry after it was sent, saying she had been involved in policy discussions about the proposed legislation’s effects on judicial review, including having the effect of reducing or avoiding the risk of potential legal challenges.

“It is completely implausible that Ms Chard was unable to recollect being involved in discussions on the new bill about the bill’s effect of removing judicial review of the site selection decision,” Senator Patrick said in the report.

“She was dishonest. She lied to the committee.”

Senator Patrick accused Ms Chard of only updating her evidence because of the FOI request.

A spokesman for the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources said Ms Chard answered all questions truthfully to the best of her ability.

“The committee has already reached out to the government and asked if it would like to respond to any aspects of the report including minority or dissenting reports, which the department will,” he said.

“All members of the department who appear at proceedings in Parliament are aware of their obligations to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their ability, which Ms Chard did.

In a further exchange between Ms Chard and Senator Patrick at a hearing in August, Ms Chard again said she had been truthful.

“In my clarification of the evidence I make it really clear that I have been involved in policy discussions related to the proposed legislation having the effect of reducing the risk of potential legal challenges, including through judicial review,” she said.

“At the time, the questioning was specifically related to section 14 of the act and whether this bill was designed to remove judicial review, and I maintained that it was not the intention of the bill to remove scrutiny under section 14 of the act.”

It is not the first time Senator Patrick has used parliamentary procedures to call out what he believes is a growing tendency for public servants to choose protecting their ministers over being open and transparent.

“I am absolutely determined to protect the integrity of the Senate’s oversight processes,” he said to The Canberra Times.

Senator Patrick said he would be calling ministers who make “erroneous public interest immunity claims” to the Senate chamber to explain themselves.

“I will be not be tolerating officials who are evasive, misleading or untruthful in their answers.”

He also threatened to publicly name FOI officials who make “blatantly cavalier” exemption claims that are then overturned by the Information Commissioner.

“Ministers and officials who meet their public service obligations and are fulsome and truthful in their responses to the Senate need not fear anything,” he said.

“FOI officers who make decisions consistent with the objectives of FOI act need not fear anything.”

September 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Words Before Waste: South Australians Call for More Consultation on Federal Radioactive Waste Plan

New research shows that, while South Australians are divided on the issue of a nuclear waste dump, a clear majority believe more consultation should be undertaken before any final decision is made regarding a proposed disposal and storage facility near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula.

The Australia Institute recently surveyed 510 South Australians about the proposed nuclear waste facility.

Key Findings:

  • Two in three South Australians (66%) say the traditional custodians of the land, the Barngarla people, should be formally consulted via a ballot before any proposal is advanced.
  • Three in five South Australians (60%) believe the whole SA population should be formally consulted via a ballot before any proposal is allowed to go ahead.
  • Two in five South Australians (40%) oppose the nuclear waste dump, while the same share of respondents (40%) support the plan.
  • One in two South Australians (51%) oppose the potential use of the South Australian ports and roads to transport nuclear waste.

“This issue is dividing the state and there is a strong appetite for more consultation with both the Barngarla people and the general South Australian public,” said Noah Schultz-Byard, South Australian Director at The Australia Institute.

“Our research has shown that a significant number of people hold concerns about the transportation of nuclear waste on South Australian roads and through South Australian ports.

“In 2016 the current Premier Steven Marshall said he had much greater ambitions for South Australia than for it to become a nuclear waste dump. If that is still the case, the Premier should support a state Parliamentary inquiry and a far broader community conversation regarding the proposed federal facility.”

“This is a highly controversial proposal, with many questions unanswered and a lot of misinformation flying around.  It’s little wonder the community is divided,” said Craig Wilkins, Chief Executive of Conservation SA.

“However, one thing is crystal clear: the Barngarla people, who are the formal native title owners of the area, have consistently said they have not been properly consulted. The South Australian people clearly believe further consultation, particularly with Barngarla Traditional Owners, must take place before this proposal progresses.

“There is no hurry: federal authorities have confirmed that there is safe and secure storage at Lucas Heights in Sydney for decades.  So, let’s get the process and the consultation right – starting with genuine and respectful engagement with the Barngarla people,” he said.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Call to Australian Labor Party to state its position on Napandee nuclear waste dump plan

Labor split on nuclear waste dump,    The Greens are calling on the Labor Leader in the Senate, Penny Wong to declare where her party stands on the proposed Nuclear Waste Dump in SA, after a clear division within the Labor Party was revealed in a Senate Inquiry Report released late yesterday.

NSW Labor Senator Jenny McAllister delivered a dissenting report, independent of her Labor colleagues including SA Senator Alex Gallacher who supports the majority report that SA should be a dumping ground for nuclear waste.

Greens Senator for South Australia Sarah Hanson-Young said:

“Penny Wong needs to come out today and tell South Australians where the Labor Party stands.

“Does it stand with Senator McAllister who has stated the process for selecting a site has been flawed and no meaningful community consent obtained? Or does it stand with SA Senator Alex Gallacher and the Liberal Party who want to dump on SA?

“The decision to set up a nuclear waste dump in SA will affect our state for generations to come. All South Australians should have the right to have their say on this important issue and they should know very clearly where the ‘opposition party’ stands both at a federal and state level.”


September 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment