nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

A legal win for Australia’s nuclear test veterans

justiceflag-AustraliaRadiation in court: landmark success for Australia’s nuclear veterans, Ecologist  Chris Busby 24th June 2015

A legal judgment in Australia has fatally damaged the ‘official’ ICRP model of health damage by nuclear radiation, writes Chris Busby – reflecting the fact that cancer originates through the mutation of individual cells, not whole organs or organisms. The ruling is good news for Britain’s bomb test veterans whose day in court is coming up; and for all who suffer radiation induced cancers.

At the end of last month the Veterans Appeals Tribunal Decision on the Case Jean Mahoney vs. Australian Repatriation Commission was published.

The result was a win for the appellant, setting aside of the earlier Australian government decision not to grant a pension to the widow of a veteran who worked among the ruins of Hiroshima and later died from metastatic colon cancer.

I was the expert witness in this case and persuaded the Australian Tribunal (in an expert report and with oral cross examination by telephone, Brisbane to Riga) that the radiation risk model of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) was not applicable to the kind of internal exposure to radioactive particles which her late husband, George Mahoney will have received. Continue reading

June 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Legal | Leave a comment

Rio Tinto pulls out of loss-making Australian uranium mine

graph-down-uraniumflag-AustraliaShares in Rio Tinto’s Australian uranium unit halve, Ft.com , 12 June 15 Jamie Smyth in Sydney Rio Tinto has withdrawn its support for the expansion of one of the world’s biggest uranium mines, causing shares in its separately listed subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia to almost halve in value.

The decision by the Anglo-Australian miner underscores the difficulties in the nuclear industry following the Fukushima meltdown in 2011, which prompted Japan to mothball its 43 operable reactors.

Since soaring to a record high of US$137 per pound in 2007, uranium prices have fallen to US$35 per pound — a level at which many miners are losing money and new investment does not make economic sense.

“After careful consideration, Rio Tinto has determined that it does not support any further study or the future development” of ERA’s proposed underground uranium mine “due to the project’s economic challenges,” the miner said.

Shares in ERA were down 46 per cent at A$0.70 in mid-afternoon trading in Sydney on Friday.

Up until 2008, the Ranger mine in Australia’s Northern Territory was producing almost 10 per cent of the global supply of uranium. But the open cut mine is now exhausted and ERA was conducting feasibility studies on developing an underground mine, Ranger 3 Deeps.

This week, ERA, which is 68 per cent owned by Rio, said it was committed to revisiting the underground project once the uranium market has recovered. But the decision by Rio to rule out support for the future development of the mine casts serious doubt on whether the project will ever happen………..http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f24a6a9a-10b7-11e5-b4dc-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3csmrhS7I

June 13, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission makes a blunder in being advised by AREVA

I would like to think that Kevin Scarce’s Royal Commission was fully investigating nuclear industry issues — not just the geewhiz technology that they would be shown in France by AREVA, which is all too cosy with South Australian pro-nuclear politicians and businessmen.

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINflag-AustraliaSA’s Nuclear Royal Commission: All too cosy with failed French nuclear giant AREVA? Just how independent is the SA nuclear review and are opponents being side-lined? Independent Australia 12 June 15, Noel Wauchope looks at just who the Royal Commission met on its recent visit to France.

AT ITS South Australian community forums, South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission head, Kevin Scarce, made a point of the Commission’s independence.  He stressed that the Commission would be meeting overseas proponents, and also opponents, of the nuclear industry.

On the Commission’s website, they list the destinations for the Commission’s overseas tour, now about to wind up. I was struck by the amount of time allocated to conferring with the French nuclear energy corporation, AREVA. I had to wonder — in their discussions with AREVA, it would hardly be necessary to talk with nuclear opponents. I wondered how much AREVA would be going to come clean about what really is going on, in France’s nuclear industry.

The AREVA connection with Australia is important. AREVA has an office in Wayville, in Adelaide, and has hosted South Australian parliamentary tours of their nuclear industrial facilities in France. AREVA acquired the Northern Territory Koongarra uranium deposit in 1995, but subsequently, in a David and Goliath battle with Aboriginal traditional owner, Jeffrey Lee, lost this opportunity, as Lee donated his land to Kakadu National Park.

AREVA is in a joint venture with Toro Energy, in uranium exploration in the Northern Territory. The corporation had been exploring for uranium in Queensland’s  Karumba and Carpentaria basins since about 2012, but recently pulled out altogether. AREVA will probably be making a submission to the Royal Commission. However, the Commission, in publishing submissions, will not be publishing ones that are deemed “commercially sensitive“.

Without doubt, AREVA has a keen commercial interest in Australia. France’s nuclear industry is somewhat embattled, as its fleet of reactors near the end of their shelf life, and the government is pledged to cut down on nuclear power, and develop renewables. The French nuclear industry (like USA’s) depends for its survival, on selling nuclear technology overseas.

But what of the fortunes of AREVA itself?  As the Royal Commission seeks to learn about the commercial viability of the nuclear industry, AREVA is hardly the most reliable authority on that question.

For a start, AREVA now barely exists. Continue reading

June 13, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | Leave a comment

The irrestistible appeal of home controlled electricity – with solar energy storage

What is certain is that the electricity equation will look very different in a few short years, and it looks like, for the first time in many years, that ordinary consumers will hold a bit more of the power 

How home energy storage is going to change the way we think about power, Adelaide Now,  CAMERON ENGLAND SUNDAY MAIL (SA) MAY 31, 2015 WHEN Elon Musk launched the Tesla Power Wall earlier this month, it was done in true Silicon Valley style.

The charismatic chief executive enters stage right, sans tie, and makes a pronouncement that his new product will change the world — cue rapturous applause from the audience and because this is the United States, whooping.

The thing about Musk’s pronouncement is that it’s most likely true.

It might not necessarily be his company — critics are divided as to whether Tesla will be the market leader it’s portraying itself as — but home and business energy storage is soon to change the way energy utilities, homes and governments think about power……..

Batteries allow homes and especially businesses to employ “peak shaving” — if power prices spike, flick over to using your own solar power and save money, or if the grid power is cheap, suck it out and sell it back later at a higher price.

Or simply save up the solar power your rooftop panels produce during the day for use in the evening, when your demand might be higher……..

graph solar  Melbourne 15

Tesla Power builds on the Tesla Motors technology — relatively standard lithium ion batteries with smart software to help them interact with the grid. The initial interest has been huge. The company recently reported early orders of 50,000 to 60,000 batteries, or as Musk put it, “It’s like crazy off-the-hook”.

Effectively the company is sold out until the middle of next year and its huge new factory will not be big enough to keep up with demand.

At $US3000 for the battery and $US7000 installed with solar panels (US prices) the system makes it economic for houses to become much less dependent on grid power.

UBS estimates that in Australia, the system would pay itself back in six years.

But Tesla is not the only game in town — although it almost certainly has the best PR machine. Continue reading

June 1, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, AUSTRALIA, energy storage | Leave a comment

Extreme heat will finish “Business As Usual” in USA, and probably Australia ,too

heat_waveAnthony M Horton: Extreme heat – ‘Business as usual’ life to end in less than 30 years in the U.S.
A new study projects that the United States will have a four to six-fold increase in extreme heat exposure by 2070 — and even earlier in the South. Unfortunately, no similar study has been conducted in Australia…

As a scientist, I am concerned that research into a range of climate related issues are seemingly not on the agenda in Australia and stellar pillars such as the world renowned Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) are suffering increasingly deep staff cuts at a time when they are needed the most.

It also appears that the long held “without fear or favour” bastion of these pillars has also seemingly ended. If this is really the case, it is a truly sad day for Australia-especially given the many world leading breakthroughs achieved by the former and the proud record of the latter. …

I fear for the future of Australia if this trend becomes entrenched as, by the time the Government realises they have made a tactical error, there won’t be enough trained people left to pick up the slack, as they will have retired, retrained or will be employed elsewhere in the world. https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/business-as-usual-life-in-the-us-will-end-in-less-than-30-years,7750

June 1, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Global nuclear lobby has found a sucker in one State in Australia

Clearly this whole disastrous process is financially beyond the reach of little South Australia. However
Premier Jay Weatherill has been persuaded to establish a flawed royal commission to assess the viability of incorporating the entire nuclear fuel chain in the state.

South Australia has vast amounts of geothermal energy available in its northern reaches and it is perfectly suited for solar and wind power, which get cheaper by the day. With a little initiative and wise political leadership, the state could become a world leader in clean, green and sustainable energy, installing solar panels on every building and parking area, building electric solar-powered cars, constructing thousands of turbines and upgrading the grid, which would enormously increase the GDP and welfare of South Australia.

South Australia’s short-sighted view of uranium and nuclear options   https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion/topic/2015/05/30/sas-short-sighted-view-uranium-Australia suckerand-nuclear-options/14329080001942#.VWjSBtKqpHw Something quite extraordinary is happening in South Australia, the state that initiated the national movement against French atmospheric nuclear tests in 1971-72, and where the movement against uranium mining began in 1975, which ultimately led to a five-year ban by the ACTU on the mining, transport and export of uranium. Forty years later, it is the ultimate irony that the French nuclear industry is interested in becoming involved in South Australian uranium enrichment and nuclear reactors.

In 2010, the University College London (UCL) established its School of Energy and Resources, Australia, in Adelaide. The buyer-beware-1school partnered with pro-nuclear and pro-shale gas corporations, including BHP Billiton and Santos. On the surface this may seem harmless enough, but the school and its well-connected backers has had a profound impact on the nuclear debate in South Australia, particularly as the state begins a royal commission into “opportunities and risks” in the “nuclear fuel cycle”.

Professor Stefaan Simons, who is the director of the International Energy Policy Institute and UCL’s BHP Billiton chairman of energy policy, has been strongly promoting construction of nuclear powered submarines in South Australia, as well as a repository in the state for radioactive “waste streams”. Dr Tim Stone, a businessman and visiting professor to the UCL’s Adelaide campus, was expert chair of the British Office for Nuclear Development and sits on the board of British energy company Horizon Nuclear Power. James Voss, the former managing director of Pangea Resources, the company that originally proposed a nuclear waste dump in Australia in the late 1990s, is also part of the UCL fold, as honorary reader at the International Energy Policy Institute.

Outside of UCL, support has come from the likes of Professor Barry Brook, former professor of climate change at the University of Adelaide, and now professor and chair of environmental sustainability at the University of Tasmania. Brook has vigorously promoted the whole nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining and enrichment to reactors and storage of radioactive waste in the desert of South Australia. He and Tim Stone have been appointed to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s Expert Advisory Committee.

The arguments put for nuclear power are many and specious. As South Australia continues to be seduced by them, it is worth pointing out the flaws that too often go uncorrected. 

global-warming-nuke2The first argument is environmental: that nuclear power is the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and as such combat climate change. But this ignores the huge expulsion of greenhouse gas that goes into producing nuclear power.

The massive industrial process supporting a nuclear power plant is complex and energy intensive. It involves mining millions of tonnes of soil and ore. The uranium must then be separated, milled, enriched and converted into ceramic particles to be packed into zirconium fuel rods. Construction of the huge reactor complex adds substantially to global warming as it is largely made of concrete – a CO2-intensive product. One hundred tonnes of enriched uranium fuel rods are packed into the reactor core and submerged in water. The fission reaction boils the water, steam turns a turbine and generates electricity. Each 1000-megawatt reactor requires one million gallons of water a minute, for cooling.

text ionisingIn operation, the uranium becomes one billion times more radioactive, and more than 200 new man-made radioactive elements are created. Thirty tonnes of radioactive spent fuel rods – nuclear waste – removed from the reactor core annually must be continually cooled for decades. Decommissioning of the intensely radioactive reactor occurs decades hence and long-term storage of radioactive waste for one million years must follow.

This complex process produces massive amounts of global warming gases, including CO2 and chlorofluorocarbons. Enriching uranium also requires the enormous expense of energy, as in Paducah, Kentucky, where two huge coal-fired plants provided the requisite electricity for uranium enrichment for atomic power and weapons.

As far as mitigation of global warming is concerned, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research estimates that 2000 to 3000 reactors of 1000 megawatts each would need to be built over the next 50 years to have any impact – one a week – in order to replace half of our present oil and coal capacity as well as meeting globally escalating electricity needs.

Nonetheless, the South Australian Liberal senator Sean Edwards, a real estate agent and winemaker, has parroted the fallacious arguments about climate change mitigation in a recent interview for the Murdoch press. But he also went further.

greed copyHe said that South Australia could create a special economic zone, thus eliminating $4.4 billion in taxes, including payroll tax, motor vehicle taxes and the emergency services levy, if it became the world’s radioactive waste dump. He said that because international partners would pay handsomely for this service, “free power could then be provided to SA households”.

Ben Heard, an occupational therapist and PhD candidate studying nuclear power, agreed with Edwards and said this proposal was “entirely credible” and that the global market for storing radioactive waste was worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Heard argued that “the used fuel rods … can be converted into a metal form and that can go into a fast reactor that recycles the metal over and over again until all of that material has produced energy, and in that process it converts into a much shorter lived waste form”.

Heard is advocating the reprocessing of radioactive fuel. This involves dissolving intensely radioactive fuel rods in nitric acid and chemically precipitating out plutonium, which would then fuel small, modular, fast-breeder reactors.

Here, another specious argument. Reprocessing is an extremely dangerous process, exposing workers to high levels of radiation and leaving a toxic corrosive brew of more than 100 deadly radioactive elements that must then be isolated from the ecosphere for one million years, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. It’s a scientific impossibility. The proponents argue that fissioning plutonium (the process of nuclear reaction) in a fast reactor converts it to shorter-lived radioactive elements, which reduces the amount of very long-lived waste. Plutonium’s radioactive life is 250,000 years, while that of converted elements such as cesium-137 and strontium-90 is 300 years. But they are wrong. Only 9 per cent of the plutonium successfully fissions, leaving 91 per cent of it with its extensive life, as well as producing deadly fission byproducts.

Thorium-snake-oilIt is also argued that South Australia’s reserves of thorium could be used for electricity production, but this would require the use of enriched uranium or plutonium to make thorium fissionable. This is another vastly expensive and dangerous operation.

Next, there is the question of militarisation. Proliferation of nuclear power and weapons is intrinsically linked. Fast reactors make access to plutonium readily available to use as fuel for nuclear weapons for the next 250,000 years. Fast reactors also use liquid sodium as a coolant, which explodes or burns if exposed to air, should a cooling pipe crack or leak. Five kilograms of plutonium is critical mass – the amount necessary for a sustained chain reaction – and with tonnes of plutonium in the reactor core, a loss of coolant could induce a huge nuclear explosion scattering deadly plutonium. Moreover, fast reactors are hugely expensive and have never been produced on a commercial scale.

There are, as mentioned, supporters of the South Australian waste dump proposal. No doubt, countries with some of the 350,000 tonnes of spent fuel in the world would be thrilled with such a scheme. The dump would be constructed on Aboriginal land, near and likely above the Great Artesian Basin. The extremely dangerous elements in this waste include plutonium-239, existing for 250,000 years and so toxic that one-millionth of a gram is carcinogenic. There would also be americium-241, even more deadly than plutonium, as well as strontium-90 and cesium-137, lasting 300 years. Radioactive elements that concentrate in the food chain are odourless, invisible and tasteless. They induce varieties of cancer, including lung, liver, bone, testicular, breast, muscle and brain. They can cause severe congenital deformities and their presence increases the incidence of inherited genetic diseases, including cystic fibrosis, diabetes, haemochromatosis and dwarfism.

The South Australian population would be likely to experience epidemics of cancer, leukaemia, congenital anomalies and genetic diseases through future generations as the waste inevitably leaked.

text-my-money-2The entire nuclear fuel chain in all countries with nuclear power, including its accident insurance, is heavily subsidised by government. Wall Street will not invest in nuclear power, so in essence it is a socialised industry paid for by the taxpayers. Construction of 1000-megawatt nuclear reactors in the US now costs upwards of $US12 billion. Many of the nuclear power plants in Britain, Europe, Japan, Canada and the US are reaching the end of their productive lives. But because the private utility companies that run the reactors make over 1 million dollars a day selling electricity, they are persuading governments to allow these dilapidated and dangerous reactors to operate for another 20 years. Continue reading

May 30, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Small scale energy revolution in India’s slums – from Australia solar company

Australian solar company Pollinate Energy brings light to slums of India ABC Foreign Correspondent  By South Asia correspondent Stephanie March 26 May 15 With indoor air pollution from kerosene lamps and stoves the second largest cause of death in India, one company, founded by Australians, has come up with a solution to the problem.

Every night in the sprawling shanty towns of the country of 1.2 billion people, the air fills with dense, black smoke.

“We used to get oil from the market and pour it into the lamp and light it; the house used to get full of soot and dirt,” said Abdul, a slum-dweller in Bangalore who lives in a hut made of wooden board and tarpaulin.

That was until Abdul bought a portable solar light from a company called Pollinate Energy, founded by five young Australians.

“After we got this solar lamp a lot of things improved,” Abdul said. “Now we don’t worry that there will be a fire.”

There are 400 million people in India who do not have access to electricity. Many of them live in the thousands of slums found in the country’s cities.

“They’re people who’ve come from rural places to the city to find work, usually in construction sites or as rag pickers, and to make a life for themselves,” Pollinate Energy co-founder Kat Kimmorley said.

“They are sort of like the modern day pharaoh slaves building this next new empire that we all … take for granted that is just coming up before our eyes and yet [is] completely ignored and sort of invisible to the state here.”

Pollinate Energy employs locals to go tent to tent to sell the solar lights.

The lights cost about $30 each — a lot of money for people who earn a few dollars a day. The company allows customers to pay in instalments.

“For most of the people we work with in these urban slums, when we provide a solar light, every time I sell it I think this is the same type of investment as for a plasma screen TV in Australia,” Ms Kimmorley said.

More mobile phones than toilets in India

The lights are popular — the company has sold more than 7,000, and is expanding to two more Indian cities. And that is partly because they double as a phone charger.

“We discovered that the customers would pay double what they would pay for a solar light for a solar-powered phone charger,” Ms Kimmorley said.

“So it is just testament to the fact that it is not just what we think would improve peoples’ lives but also what keeping up with the Joneses means in an urban slum. It’s having a mobile phone and being able to charge that mobile phone,” she said.

The uptake of mobile phones in India has been huge — there are more mobile phones than there are toilets.

The team at Pollinate believes solar lights can follow the same path………http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-26/solar-energy-brings-light-to-slums-of-india/6495912

May 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, decentralised, India | Leave a comment

Crowdfunding and recuperation programs for Fukushima children

img_0387.lBpthJI3PGah.JPGFukushima c’est eux Fukushima c’est nous
A group of parents who has been hosting children from Fukushima since summer 2012 are now organizing another round of crowd funding for summer 2015.
Details on their crown funding site.
http://fr.ulule.com/fukushima-nous/
Here is the information about the previous year’s achievement.
http://fr.ulule.com/fukushima/

JCSシドニーレインボープロジェクト JCS Sydney Rainbow Project
2015年夏、東北の震災孤児・遺児を10人、シドニーに保養に呼ぶ計画です
Summer camp 2015 for children who lost parents/family members
詳細はこちら For donation details https://readyfor.jp/projects/sydney

FUKUSHIMA KIDS DOLPHIN CAMP 2015 フクシマドルフィンキャンプ2015 御蔵島
“Dear eARThist family,
Oak to all relations Tokyo would like to present 2015 Fukushima Kids Dolphin Camp in Mikura Island this summer for children to release their stress from radiation fear caused by 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and give them an opportunity to play in the mother nature. And WE ARE COLLECTING DONATIONS!
See more at http://www.oak-to-all-relations.org/fukushima-kids-dolphin-camp2015/

Source:  Save Children From Radiation
http://www.save-children-from-radiation.org/events/

image

May 18, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, France, Japan | | Leave a comment

Australia’s right wing think tank uses tax breaks to promote climate change denialism

logo-IPA-wolfIPA uses Australian tax breaks to help fund U.S. climate skeptic’s libel defence Independent Australia  DeSmog Blog 16 May 2015 Environment charities like the ACF face having their Deductible Gift Recipient status stripped by the Abbott government, yet corporate mouthpiece, IPA, keep theirs to help fund U.S. climate skeptic Mark Steyn’s libel suit. Graham Readfearn fromDeSmogBlog reports.

WHEN THE facts on climate change become inconvenient or they start to rub your ideology or vested interest up the wrong way, then there are really only two options available.

Option one is to change your mind. Option two is to try and change, distort, misrepresent or just outright ignore the flood of scientific studies over decades showing the serious impacts of loading the biosphere with fossil fuel emissions.

Mark Steyn is a prominent conservative polemicist and writer in the United States and Canada who has chosen option two.

Australian “free market” think-tank The Institute of Public Affairs chose option two in the late 1980s and has stuck with it since.

Now a climate misinformation book produced by the IPA and paid for with the help of tax breaks in Australia is seemingly helping to finance Steyn in a high profile libel case.

So there are two stories to tell here – one about the libel case and the other about the book. The two meet up at the end…….. Continue reading

May 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

As Australia cuts back on Renewable Energy, its chief advisor attacks UN Climate officer Christiana Figueres

Abbott-destroys-renewablesGovernment’s RET compromise guarantees uncertainty for renewables, Michelle Grattan, The Conversation 8 May 15  As the Abbott government prepares Australia’s post-2020 emissions targets for this year’s Paris conference, the chairman of the Prime Minister’s business advisory council has make an extraordinary intervention in the climate debate.

Maurice Newman, writing in the Australian, maintains it’s all a United Nations conspiracy – a power grab of massive proportions.

“This is not about facts or logic. It’s about a new world order under the control of the UN. It is opposed to capitalism and freedom and has made environmental catastrophism a household topic to achieve its objective.”

Newman claims that 95% of the climate models that we’re told prove the link between human emissions and global warming “have been found … to be in error”.

Newman,-Maurice-ideasIn his article he targets Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN’s Framework on Climate Change, who has been visiting Australia. Newman writes that “there is a real chance Figueres and those who share her centralised power ambitions will succeed.

“As the UN’s December climate change conference in Paris approaches, Australia will be pressed to sign even more futile job-destroying climate change treaties.”…………..

The government was urged by a number of its own backbenchers with renewable energy enterprises in their electorates to get the issue sorted. Earlier this week business groups issued a joint statement calling for a deal at 33,000 GWh. The government had been stuck on 32,000, saying that was its last offer.

The industry was anxious the Coalition did a deal with Labor rather than the crossbench for a new RET because bipartisanship is needed to restore some confidence.

But the two-yearly review of the target would ensure that doubt remained in investors’ minds. The Clean Energy Council, representing a substantial part of the sector, said on Friday night that the issue was not worth resolving if the reviews continued every two years.

Labor promises that if it wins the 2016 election, it would revise the target up. But if the Coalition wins, would the target be cut again?

The government hopes the in-principle deal holds so it can see another barnacle scraped of the hull of the Abbott ship.

This has been a saga that, like so many other issues under this government, has been grossly mismanaged.

Listen to the latest politics with Michelle Grattan with guest, Greens co-deputy leader Larissa Watershttp://theconversation.com/governments-ret-compromise-guarantees-uncertainty-for-renewables-41524

May 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | 2 Comments

Australia’s cowardly and duplicitous stance on nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Australia’s disarmament double-speak at the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference 2015

Online opinion By Gem Romuld – 7 May 2015  Despite being close in name, the gap between Australia and Austria on the issue of nuclear disarmament is stark. Austria is at the forefront of a global push to stigmatize, ban and eliminate nuclear weapons, whereas Australia is leading efforts to undermine this push.

During the first week of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, currently underway in New York, the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations, Ms Gillian Bird, delivered a statement expressing concern that 45 years since the NPT entered into force, “some 16,000 nuclear warheads still exist”. But she dismissed the “call for a treaty banning nuclear weapons”, and stated Australia’s support for “practical, realistic measures to achieve actual nuclear disarmament”. Elaboration on these unambitious measures was saved for the 26-nation Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons, not to be confused with the much stronger Austrian-led 160-nation Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons.

Both ‘humanitarian statements’ acknowledged the renewed focus on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, catalysed by the three conferences that have been held on the subject since February 2013 by the Norwegian, Mexican and Austrian Governments. The Austrian-led statement said that the “humanitarian focus is now well established on the global agenda” and affirmed that “the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination”. The Australian-led statement claims there are “no short cuts”, implying that the slow, and thus far ineffective, steps to disarmament are the only way to reach a world without nuclear weapons. Acknowledgement of the survivors of nuclear testing, including in Australia, was disappointingly absent, despite the moving testimonygiven before 158 nations by Kokatha-Mula woman Sue Coleman-Haseldine at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons last December.
Australia’s claimed reliance on the US’ nuclear arsenal hijacks any meaningful contribution to disarmament. Most endorsers of the Australian-led humanitarian statement are similarly thwarted by their commitment to the nuclear weapons of their allies. Meanwhile, many other countries are refusing to accept and enable indefinite inaction. At the time of writing,80 states have endorsed the Austrian Pledge to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and many national statements during the first week of the NPT Review Conference have proudly declared their readiness to address the disarmament stalemate………
Forty-five years of the NPT has seen the disarmament obligation contained in Article 6 dismally unfulfilled. While Australia remains tolerant of nuclear weapons, thankfully Austria and the majority of states are seeking new methods and action, now. This process to “fill the legal gap” is bound to go ahead with or without the nuclear weapons states. The Chair of the Mexico Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons identified the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings as the appropriate timeframe within which to begin. The Australian Government should respond to the 84% of the Australian public who want our government to support a nuclear weapons ban (2014 Nielsen poll) and stop encouraging the reckless behaviour of the nuclear minority. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=17323

May 8, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Uranium effluent discharged into Malawi river by Australian company Paladin

Malawi: Paladin Starts Discharging Uranium Wastes Into Public Rivers, AllAfrica,  By Bishop Witmos Karonga April 23: Few months after Paladin Africa Limited differed with civil society organizations (CSOs) and some chiefs in Karonga over the disposition of uranium wastes into public water, the company has started discharging the effluent into Sere River.

uranium sludge to river Malawi

Paladin Africa Limited, a member of the Paladin Energy group of companies, suspended its operations at Kayelekera Mine in the district in May, 2014, due to unstable uranium prices at an international market. The project is now on care and maintenance.

Malawi News Agency (Mana) has established Paladin invited Paramount Chief Kyungu and the District Commissioner (DC) for Karonga, Rosemary Moyo, to a meeting in Lilongwe early April this year (2015),to brief them about the company’s recent decision.

Paladin Africa Acting General Manager in Malawi, Greg Walker, confirmed in a telephone interview that the company, indeed, started releasing the uranium wastes into the public rivers………

Sere River flows into North Rukuru River, then into Lake Malawi.

When asked why the company decided to brief Paramount Chief Kyungu and the Karonga DC about their action in Lilongwe instead of explaining it to the general populace of Karonga, Walker said the company conducted enough meetings with relevant authorities in the district……..

Despite the decision by Paladin to start discharging its effluent into the public water, some people in the district feet it would have been safer if the company had constructed another dam where the wastes would be transferred into.

Chairperson for Karonga District Council, Patrick Kishombe, said in an interview the plan to release the waste water from the storage dam into Sere River is raising fears amongst communities who feel the water is not fully treated and could be a health hazard.

“This, I believe, will lead into many hazards, like killing of fish in Lake Malawi and may also cause skin cancer to some people,” said Kishombe.

Uranium contains gamma rays, particles that cause skin cancer to human kind, according to experts.

In developed nations, mining companies construct a stable tank that stores all the wastes, ready for transportation to recommended disposal sites. ……http://allafrica.com/stories/201504231621.html

April 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, Malawi, Uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Australia’s PM Tony Abbott sacked real climate scientists, now funds dodgy Bjorn Lomborg

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmLomborg’s influence over key ministers in the Abbott government is quite well-known. He is seen to be at the centre of much of federal cabinet’s climate groupthink………

The real travesty of funding Lomborg’s newest franchise is that it comes from the same government that defunded the Climate Commission. This was composed of Australia’s best climate scientists, economists and energy experts, with an operating cost of A$1.5 million per year. This, more than even the most horrendous of storms, really exposes the parlous state of the Abbott government’s desertion of future generations

The Bjorn supremacy – is Australia getting the climate advice it deserves?.  The Conversation,  David Holmesn 23 April 2015, Senior Lecturer,Communications and Media Studies at Monash University “……..Lomborg’s particularly dangerous form of climate denial is to begrudgingly accept the science while producing economic models to say that global warming is really a minor issue. He is famous for using economic modelling as a mercenary gun for hire, saleable to governments and jurisdictions requiring climate inaction, climate distraction, or just straight-out climate crisis denial.

As such, one has to have some sympathy for Lomborg, who is a strange kind of “climate change refugee”. In 2012, the Danish government pulled all funding from his centre. Since, he has only set up shop in countries that have strong climate change-denying lobbies – both in the private sector and within mainstream media. He has enjoyed this in the US.

Lomborg operates by attaching himself to these centres as an adjunct professor, which will be his title at UWA, rather than a staff member. This offers the freedom to command remuneration well above a professorial salary – such as the US$775,000 he was paid in 2012 by the CCC and the US$200,484 paid for his work in 2013………

a book, The Lomborg Deception, that focuses solely on the lack of rigour in Lomborg’s books The Skeptical Environmentalist (2001) and Cool It (2007).

The Lomborg Deception’s author, Howard Friels, documented how footnote after footnote does not support anything that Lomborg says. In Cool It, Lomborg opens with a claim directly ignoring research by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature showing that polar bear numbers in the Arctic are in terminal decline. He is bold enough to suggest they are actually increasing.

The problem is that Lomborg’s sources consist of a blog and a study that nowhere mentions polar bears – not even the ones that are dead. Not much rigorous thought and analysis there.

The mere fact that Lomborg’s franchise-style “consensus” centre is here is an indictment on the climate politics environment in Australia. The centre subverts the term “consensus”, which is otherwise famous for the 97% of climate scientists who have verified the fact of global warming.

But, what is perhaps a new low for Australia is how the federal funding for Lomborg’s centre was not even subject to a competitive process. Instead, it was through negotiations personally held between Lomborg and Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

Lomborg’s influence over key ministers in the Abbott government is quite well-known. He is seen to be at the centre of much of federal cabinet’s climate groupthink………

The real travesty of funding Lomborg’s newest franchise is that it comes from the same government that defunded the Climate Commission. This was composed of Australia’s best climate scientists, economists and energy experts, with an operating cost of A$1.5 million per year. This, more than even the most horrendous of storms, really exposes the parlous state of the Abbott government’s desertion of future generations.http://theconversation.com/the-bjorn-supremacy-is-australia-getting-the-climate-advice-it-deserves-40716

April 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Call to Australian and Canadian govts not to sell uranium to India

International call not to sell uranium to India http://www.acfonline.org.au/news-media/media-release/international-call-not-sell-uranium-india April 15, 2015

QUÉBEC CITY, CANADA: The Australian Conservation Foundation has called on the
India-uranium1Canadian and Australian governments not to further advance controversial plans for uranium sales to India.

The call comes as Australian nuclear free campaigners join Indigenous landowners affected by uranium projects to present at the World Uranium Symposium in Québec.

The conference takes place against the backdrop of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Canada and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s trip New Delhi to advance planned uranium sales.

“Canada and Australia should show responsibility restraint and prudence, as India has been criticised widely over the safety, security and transparency of its nuclear industry,” ACF’s Dave Sweeney said. “Australia and Canada should not rush into uranium sales agreements with India while serious concerns about safety and security remain unresolved.”

Australia’s controversial uranium deal with India has been widely criticised, including by former safeguards director John Carlson, who was for two decades head of Australia’s safeguards regime and was a keen nuclear promoter.  Mr Carlson has raised concernsthat the new treaty’s administrative arrangements could substantially depart from Australia’s usual safeguards conditions, meaning Australia may be unable to keep track of what happens to uranium supplied to India.

Speaking from Québec ACF’s Dave Sweeney called on the Canadian and Australian governments not to further fuel instability in South Asia by selling uranium into the already volatile region.

“Uranium is not like other minerals.  It is the fuel for nuclear weapons and creates carcinogenic waste that lasts for thousands of years,” he said. “Fuelling danger and instability in India is not in the interests of Canada or Australia.”

April 22, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Canada, India, politics international | Leave a comment

Grave danger in Australia’s planned uranium sales deal with India

Australia and India face a graver test than cricket Against the backdrop of Australia and India squaring up in the World Cup cricket, the two nations now face a test with much graver consequences, write Dave Sweeney and Jim Green. SBS News, 26 Mar 15 When Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed a uranium deal with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last  September, he praised India’s “absolutely impeccable non-proliferation India-uranium1record”. This praise came despite the reality that India is actively expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal and its missile delivery capabilities.

Mr Abbott declined to answer serious questions about India’s nuclear weapons program or the inadequate safety standards in and inadequate regulation of its civil nuclear program. Instead, he offered a cricketing cliché, declaring that Australia and India trust each other on issues like uranium safeguards because of “the fundamentally ethical principle that every cricketer is supposed to assimilate – play by the rules and accept the umpire’s decision”.

Gaining comfort from clichés while ignoring inconvenient truths might work for those in Canberra and mining company boardrooms but it fails any real world test.

The proposed India uranium agreement is currently being considered by federal parliament’s treaties committee, and it has yet to be ratified by parliament. Submissions to the treaties committee have raised many serious concerns − and not just from the usual suspects.

Those raising concerns and objections include John Carlson, former Director-General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office; Ron Walker, former Chair of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors; Prof. Lawrence Scheinman, former Assistant Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; Princeton University physicist Dr M.V. Ramana; and nuclear arms control expert Crispin Rovere.

The uranium agreement with India weakens Australia’s nuclear safeguards standards, increases the chances of Australian uranium finding its way into Indian weapons and would lead to further undermining of nuclear checks and balances. If the uranium agreement is approved there will be sustained pressure for Australia to apply equally inadequate standards to other uranium customer countries. As John Carlson notes in his submission: “If the Government does compromise Australia’s safeguards conditions, inevitably this will lead to other agreement partners asking for similar treatment.”

Mr Carlson’s critique carries particular weight given that for over two decades he was the head of Australia’s nuclear safeguards office……..http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/03/26/comment-australia-and-india-face-graver-test-cricket

March 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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