nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

World Heritage Great Barrier Reef headed for climate change doom – UNESCO

UNESCO warns climate change means time is running out for World Heritage Great Barrier Reef http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/unesco-warns-climate-change-means-time-is-running-out-for-world-heritage-great-barrier-reef/news-story/4765a338156dd9e5b9b2c1d2b357d655?nk=ba26857f63080120cbd5fc74c94d3959-1498465693, Daryl Passmore, The Courier-Mail June 25, 2017

THE Great Barrier Reef will be dead by the end of this century without a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a world-first study warns.

The threat to Australia’s natural wonder is detailed in the first global assessment of climate change impacts on coral, released yesterday by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

It comes just a month before the World Heritage Committee meets in Poland to consider the condition of the Great Barrier Reef and the effectiveness of a management plan introduced by the Queensland and federal governments to protect it.

“Soaring ocean temperatures in the past three years have subjected 21 of 29 World Heritage reefs to severe and/or repeated heat stress, and caused some of the worst bleaching ever observed at iconic sites like the Great Barrier Reef,’’ it says.

“The analysis predicts that all 29 coral-containing World Heritage sites would cease to exist as functioning coral reef ecosystems by the end of this century under a business-as-usual emissions scenario.”

The report calls on all countries with World Heritage coral reefs to act to reduce net greenhouse emissions to zero in order to save them.

On current trends, the assessment predicts, global warming will increase by 4.3C by 2100.

Under that scenario, the Great Barrier Reef would suffer severe coral bleaching twice a decade by 2035 – “a frequency that will rapidly kill most corals present and prevent successful reproduction necessary for recovery of corals.’’

The diversity of life on reefs has led to them being been dubbed the “rainforests of the sea”. Covering less than 0.1 per cent of the ocean floor, they host more than a quarter of all marine fish species.

Australian Marine Conservation Society spokeswoman Imogen Zethoven said the Great Barrier Reef and other World Heritage reefs were in grave danger from climate change, mainly driven by the burning of coal.

“Yet the Australian government appears hell-bent on making the problem worse by pushing ahead with Adani’s monstrous coal mine (planned for central Queensland), talking up a coal-fired power station next to the Great barrier Reef and failing to do its fair share of global pollution reduction,” she said.

“The Australian government is not only placing our Great Barrier Reef and the 70,000 jobs that depend on it at grave risk, it is endangering the future of World Heritage coral reefs around the world,” Ms Zethoven said.

“The majority of Australians believe the state of our reef is a national emergency, but the Australian government doesn’t care.”

June 26, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

South Australians resolutely rejected a plan to be the world’s radioactive trash dump

Australia’s handful of self-styled ‘ecomodernists’ or ‘pro-nuclear environmentalists’ united behind a push to import spent fuel and to use some of it to fuel Generation IV fast neutron reactors. They would have expected to persuade the stridently pro-nuclear Royal Commission to endorse their ideas. But the Royal Commission completely rejected the proposal

Another dump proposal is very much alive: the federal government’s plan to establish a national nuclear waste dump in SA, either in the Flinders Ranges or on farming land near Kimba, west of Port Augusta.

How the South Australians who dumped a nuclear dump may soon have another fight on their hands http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2989048/how_the_south_australians_who_dumped_a_nuclear_dump_may_soon_have_another_fight_on_their_hands.html   15th June, 2017  The rejection of a plan to import vast amounts of high-level nuclear waste from around the world for profit was a significant result for campaigners but that threat is still far from over, writes JIM GREEN

Last November, two-thirds of the 350 members of a South Australian-government initiated Citizens’ Jury rejected “under any circumstances” the plan to import vast amounts of high-level nuclear waste from around the world as a money-making venture.

The following week, SA Liberal Party Opposition leader Steven Marshall said that “[Premier] Jay Weatherill’s dream of turning South Australia into a nuclear waste dump is now dead.” Business SA chief Nigel McBride said: “Between the Liberals and the citizens’ jury, the thing is dead.”

And after months of uncertainty, Premier Weatherill has said in the past fortnight that the plan is “dead”, there is “no foreseeable opportunity for this”, and it is “not something that will be progressed by the Labor Party in Government”.

So is the plan dead? The Premier left himself some wriggle room, but the plan is as dead as it ever can be. If there was some life in the plan, it would be loudly proclaimed by SA’s Murdoch tabloid, The Advertiser. But The Advertiser responded to the Premier’s recent comments, to the death of the dump, with a deafening, deathly silence.

Royal Commission

It has been quite a ride to get to this point. Continue reading

June 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

South Australia’s plan to import nuclear wastes is now dead in the water

Nuclear dump idea dead in SA June 7, 2017 Australian Associated Press, news.com.au
Conservation groups have welcomed Premier Jay Weatherill’s move to abandon any plans to establish a high-level nuclear waste dump in South Australia. The premier has indicated the government won’t now proceed to hold a referendum on the issue, even if it is returned at next year’s state election.

Conservation SA chief executive Craig Wilkins says it’s great news the dump is dead. “This is a win for the many South Australians who stood up and demanded a better option for our state than as a home for the world’s radioactive waste,” Mr Wilkins said.

The state government floated the idea of SA having an increased involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle after the last state election and held a royal commission into the idea. The commission recommended the state consider building a high-level dump to earn billions of dollars by taking the world’s nuclear waste, while a citizen’s jury firmly rejected that proposal late last year.

At the time Mr Weatherill indicated the government would still put the question to a referendum at some time in the future.
But asked about the future of a dump at a community cabinet meeting earlier this week he declared the idea “dead”.
“There’s no foreseeable opportunity for this,” he said. The premier later reaffirmed Labor had dropped the proposal, telling internet news site InDaily that it was not something that would be progressed by Labor if the government was returned in March.
“This is great news. We are delighted the premier has announced that he has no intention to re-visit the divisive debate on a global nuclear waste dump,” Mr Wilkins said… http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/nuclear-dump-idea-dead-in-sa/news-story/c4c10d44ab0ac71056efd337cfbb0244 

June 7, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, wastes | Leave a comment

Faster than expected – rise in sea level, especially for Australian and other coastal cities

‘The great unknown’: New climate change data lifts the sea-level threat, SMH , Peter Hannam, 23 May 17   The giant ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland are melting faster than scientists previously estimated, raising the prospect of faster sea level rise placing at risk low-lying areas of Sydney and similar exposed cities around the world.

New research, including from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has lifted the “plausible” sea level rise by 2100 to as much as two metres to 2.7 metres.

That has superseded earlier estimates, such as the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that placed the likely top range of sea level rise at about one metre if greenhouse gas emission rises continued unabated.

Those higher forecasts have now been included in new mapping by Coastal Risk Australia that combines the estimates with national high-tide data and the shape of our coastline.

The resulting maps show airports in Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart will be largely under water by 2100 if that two-metre rise happens.

Other areas at risk in Sydney from such a rise include Circular Quay, Wentworth Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Woolloomooloo and Rose Bay.  ………

Rising seas

NOAA estimates global mean sea levels have risen about 3.4 millimetres a year since 1993, roughly double the average rate of increase during the 20th century.

Even the last century’s pace of increase was the fastest in at least 2800 years, NOAA said.

Global warming is driving the increase in sea levels by melting land ice – such as glaciers and ice sheets – and from the thermal expansion of the warmer oceans.

John Church, a global sea level expert at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW, said other new research indicated Antarctica’s contribution to rising seas appears to particularly sensitive to carbon emissions rates – underscoring the urgency to reduce them…….http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/the-great-unknown-new-climate-change-data-lifts-the-sealevel-threat-20170522-gwa963.html

May 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Chinese marine research working with Australia’s CSIRO to study climate

Science is the winner from alliance, PETER BOYER, Mercury May 23, 2017 CSIRO is back in town and back on the world climate research stage. That was the real news in yesterday’s welcome announcement of a new Hobart-based Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Australia to join in developing Generation IV nuclear reactors, WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC DISCUSSION??

Nuclear Australia

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

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

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

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

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 currently prohibits the development of nuclear power in…

View original post 1,083 more words

May 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, secrets,lies and civil liberties, technology | Leave a comment

Secretive move by Australian government, to develop Generation IV nuclear reactors?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nuclear energy is not zero carbon.

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

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

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

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

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

And all this without any public discussion!

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/apr/11/toshiba-losses-uk-moorside-nuclear-plant-westinghouse
  2.  https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603731/nuclear-energy- startup-transatomic-backtracks-on-key-promises/
  3. https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4555
  4.  http://reneweconomy.com.au/nuclear-industry-crisis-29735/

May 17, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby in USA and Australia gives misleading critiques on renewable energy

  • Overcoming the military-industrial complex: nuclear has always been a centralized industry, with just a few firms that have very close contacts to the government. And keeping nuclear skills for military purposes seems to be a driver in the UK’s push for new nuclear.
The US (and Australian) nuclear camp critiques studies for 100% renewables. Without reading them. Energy Transition ,by Craig Morris, 15 May 2017

Over the past year, the Anglo world has become interested in nuclear as a complement for wind and solar towards “deep decarbonization,” or a (nearly) 100% carbon-free supply of energy or possibly just electricity. Today, Craig Morris reviews a few papers by Americans and Australians and advises them to tackle the best European studies for 100% renewables head-on, not ignore them.

The first paper is by Stephen Brick and Samuel Thernstrom. Thernstrom has been calling nuclear “an essential part of the puzzle” since at least 2010. The paper is peer-reviewed; unfortunately, none of the reviewers noticed the oversights I found. But let’s start off with a contention the authors state in the introduction:

“In seeking to demonstrate that renewables can by themselves replace all fossil fuels and nuclear energy, these studies run the risk of treating renewables as a societal end in itself, instead of just one among a suite of technologies that could be used to achieve the combined goals of environmental protection, cost-containment, and electric system reliability.”

Why shouldn’t renewables be an end in themselves? Assuming nuclear power (plus whatever) is the cheapest low-carbon option, might other impacts society dislikes relativize the low price? To name just a few examples (and we’ll leave out whatever nuclear risks may or may not exist):

  • Overcoming the military-industrial complex: nuclear has always been a centralized industry, with just a few firms that have very close contacts to the government. And keeping nuclear skills for military purposes seems to be a driver in the UK’s push for new nuclear.
  • Transparency in democracy: as numerous authors from various countries have found, the nuclear sector has always come at the expense of open democracy. Strikes, for instance, are a safety issue.
  • Stronger economic growth in communities, especially rural ones: if communities can make their own energy, why would they want to pay some out-of-town corporation, even if the energy is slightly cheaper? People simply are willing to pay more for quality, and local jobs are a quality (not to mention being energy-independent). The price is relative when you pay it back to your community…….

the real problem here is that lower consumption does not jibe with nuclear historically. Nuclear originally promised nearly unlimited electricity, and the technology’s supporters say more energy is needed, not less, especially in developing countries. Here is one pro-nuclear group attacking, for instance, renewables advocate Amory Lovins’ call for efficiency. Nuclear proponents often depict the efficiency aims (= lower consumption) called for by renewables proponents as unrealistic.

In contrast, the renewables camp sees efficiency as crucial because, for instance, we don’t have enough sustainable biomass to support our wasteful habits today. In addition to efficient devices, “sufficiency” – changing lifestyles to make do with what Mother Nature gives us – is therefore crucial. Switching to an electric car is not enough; we will need to walk and cycle more, both of which require compact neighborhoods (a societal, not technical, issue)………

The overlooked update

What’s worse, in their 2017 paper Heard at al. discuss Mathiesen’s 2009 paper on a 100% renewable Denmark as though nothing had happened since. The six-page summary (PDF in English) of the follow-up 2014 scenario is admittedly sparse on details, but we can see a plan taking shape. In 2015, Mathiesen, not unknown to my readers, and his team then fleshed everything out in a 159-page PDF (in English), including a new scenario called the IDA Energy Vision. As you can see below, [table on original] biomass is still based as much as possible on waste, and the rest is mainly wind power. This is what a 100% scenario looks like when you do the footwork for a given country. It would look much different in, say, Saudi Arabia, with very little wind but ample solar. It would also look different in countries with lots of hydropower. One conclusion is thus that investigating 100% renewables is hard without saying where.

In the end, we are left with a discussion in the English-speaking world held by nuclear advocates about 100% renewable energy, in which too little notice is taken of the main studies in two leading countries investigating “deep decarbonization” without nuclear or CCS: Denmark and Germany. What’s worse, not a single journalist covering these papers, including Vox.com’s David Roberts (one of the best) pointed out the oversight. America’s best minds write about 100% renewables, and no one notices the gaps. As President Trump might say: sad. https://energytransition.org/2017/05/the-us-nuclear-camp-critiques-studies-for-100-renewables-without-reading-them/

May 17, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change could kill off all coral reefs by 2050

Dahr Jamail | Coral Reefs Could All Die Off by 2050, May 15, 2017, By Dahr JamailTruthout | Report “…… over the last two years, the Great Barrier Reef, which is so dear to Miller and countless others who revel in the beauty and mysteries of the oceans, has been dying off at an unprecedented rate due primarily to warming ocean waters.

Coral bleaching occurs when corals become stressed by warmer-than-normal water, causing them to expel symbiotic algae that live in their tissues, from which they get their energy. Coral turns completely white when it bleaches. If it remains bleached long enough, it dies.

One scientist has already gone so far as to declare the Great Barrier Reef is now in a “terminal stage.” Most of those studying the reef agree that what is happening is unprecedented. This is because, at a minimum, two-thirds of the 1,400-mile long reef bleached out last year, which led to 22 percent of it dying. Now another bleaching event has resulted in at least two-thirds of the reef bleached again.

The bleaching this year has moved much farther south and has taken scientists by surprise in its severity and extent,” Miller said. And he fears the state of the reef could be even worse than scientists realize, since only aerial surveys have been conducted to assess the damage and no research vessel is currently active on the reef to provide finer details.

With ocean temperatures rising across the globe as anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) continues to pick up speed, the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral ecosystem on Earth, may well be an example of what is happening to all of the coral on the planet.

“This Is New for All of Us”……..

Miller is equally stunned by what he is seeing along the Great Barrier Reef, which is eerily similar to what Burdick is seeing on Guam.

“Parts of the reef that didn’t bleach last year are now under immense pressure, and this is totally different because this is back-to-back bleaching,” Miller explained. “The system was already stressed, and this is a new stress event. We are seeing much mortality on reefs in our area…. What didn’t die last year is dying this year.”

In addition to the new bleaching in this year’s event, southern portions of the reef that are typically in cooler waters are now also bleaching out.

“It’s heartbreaking to see,” Miller added. “Seventy thousand direct tourism-related jobs and a $6 billion tourism industry are all at risk, especially on top of the recent damage from Cyclone Debbie.”

study published this March in the journal Nature found that last year’s bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef was so severe that there was no similar analog in the thousands of years of ancient coral cores scientists use to study past climates.

Another study published in Nature projected that by the year 2050, more than 98 percent of global coral reefs will be afflicted by “bleaching-level thermal stress” every single year.

However, the prognosis could be even worse: The scientists involved in the study from this March speculated that the era of never-ending global coral bleaching may have already arrived, albeit several decades earlier than was predicted even just last year. They explained that the Great Barrier Reef needs 10 to 15 years between bleaching events in order to fully recover, and that recovery time period is “no longer realistic.”

“We Don’t Even Know What We Are Losing”……..

report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization shows that coral reefs are responsible for producing 17 percent of all globally consumed protein, with that ratio being 70 percent or greater in island and coastal countries like those of Micronesia.

At the time of this writing, Earth has lost nearly half of its coral, and oceanic warming only continues to accelerate.

“We are finding that reefs living under anthropogenic stresses for many years have already lost their more sensitive coral species, and the ones that are there now are already the tough bastards,” Raymundo said. “And when reefs have lower diversity, there is less ecological redundancy; hence, they are more likely to collapse.”

A Future Without Coral?

2012 study revealed that half of the Great Barrier Reef had already vanished in just the previous 27 years. Two years later, the world’s most qualified coral reef experts released a report showing that, without dramatic intervention, the Great Barrier Reef would disappear completely by 2030.

Furthermore, a study published and released by NOAA in 2011 warned that, “unless action is taken now to reduce the threats,” 90 percent of all reefs will be “threatened” by 2030, and all of Earth’s coral reefs could be completely gone by 2050. The study, “Reefs at Risk Revisited,” listed human-caused climate disruption, warmer water temperatures, ocean acidification, shipping, overfishing, coastal development and agricultural runoff as the contributing factors.

While that might sound extreme, Miller told Truthout he thought the report actually didn’t go far enough.

“I think it’s too conservative,” he explained. “Corals need many years to adjust to the warmer ocean waters, and we don’t have that kind of time anymore. The warming we are seeing now is happening far too fast to allow for evolution…. So what we’re seeing now is death. That’s what bleaching is.”……..

Back in Australia, Miller is dismayed by the fact that his government is doing very little, if anything, to mitigate the crisis.

Truthout asked Miller what steps the Australian government is taking to save the Great Barrier Reef.

“From what I can tell, virtually nothing,” he answered. “They are not focussed on this at all, but rather are pushing for the Adani Coal Mine to go ahead. We here in Australia can hardly believe it, to be honest. In fact, the government has had almost no comment on the bleaching at all.”

The coal mine he referred to is looking like it is going to move forward, which will, according to Miller, bring an additional 500 ships carrying coal across the Great Barrier Reef every single year.

Truthout interviewed Miller’s colleague, John Rumney, the managing director of Great Barrier Reef Legacy in February, when this year’s bleaching event began.

“This coral is in big trouble,” Rumney said at the time. Like Miller, Burdick and Raymundo, Rumney warned of the extreme loss of biodiversity that comes with the disappearance of reefs.

“When all that coral goes, all that diversity of fish that depends on it goes,” Rumney told Truthout. “The entire food chain is in big trouble.”

Miller concurred, saying, “We might see ecosystem collapse as we know it.” The need for independent research on the Great Barrier Reef during this second mass-bleaching event is needed more than ever, according to Miller. His and Rumney’s organization is striving to get more scientists out to the reef as quickly as possible.

“The world’s greatest natural icon and largest living structure needs our help more than ever, and unless we act as a concerned global population, nothing will be done,” he concluded. “It is not too late. The reef is worth saving — and our actions now will determine the fate of coral reefs in as little as 5 to 10 years. We must act.” http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40579-coral-reefs-generate-half-of-earth-s-oxygen-and-they-could-all-die-off-by-2050

May 17, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, AUSTRALIA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Vanishing Pacific island calls on Australia for help

Our country will vanish’: Pacific islanders bring desperate message to Australia, Guardian, 14 May 17,   Kiribati and other low-lying countries are under threat from climate change, and while their people would rather stay behind, they may be left with no choice “……… i-Kiribati man Erietera Aram is in Australia delivering his message about the reality of climate change in his country, and of its immediacy. Each discussion, he says, is like a drop of water, adding to the one before it, slowly building understanding of the existential threat to his people and place.

“Climate change is not something off in the future, it’s not a problem for later. We are living it now,” he says.

The archipelago of Kiribati – 33 tiny coral atolls spanning 3.5m square kilometres of ocean – is the world’s lowest-lying country, with an average height above sea level of just two metres.

Most of the 113,000 i-Kiribati live crammed on to Tarawa, the administrative centre, a chain of islets that curve in a horseshoe shape around a lagoon.

“My place is very small,” Aram says. “If you stand in the middle, you can see water on both sides. We are vulnerable. One tsunami, one tsunami and our whole country will disappear.”

Already, there is less and less of Kiribati for its inhabitants. The coastline is regularly being lost to king tides and to creeping sea levels, and in a very real sense, there is nowhere to go.

The loss of land is causing conflict – Tarawa is growing ever more densely crowded, as families living on the coastline are forced inwards, infringing on another’s claim.

The next round of multinational climate talks in November – COP 23 – will be chaired by Fiji, and is expected to swing particular focus of the global climate debate to the Pacific, where comparatively minuscule amounts of carbon are produced, but the effects of climate change have been felt first, and most acutely.

Assuming the COP presidency, the Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, said he would “bring a particular perspective to these negotiations on behalf of some of those who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change – Pacific Islanders and the residents of other small island developing states and low-lying areas of the world”…….https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/14/our-country-will-vanish-pacific-islanders-bring-desperate-message-to-australia

May 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Australia’s activists confront the very sly and secretive global nuclear lobby

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

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

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

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

Contacts:

• Jim Green (Friends of the Earth, Australia) jim.green@foe.org.au, 0417 318 368

• Dave Sweeney (Australian Conservation Foundation) dave.sweeney@acf.org.au, 0408 317 812

Contents

1. Introduction and Response to National Interest Analysis

2. Generation IV Reactor Concepts ‒ Introduction

3. Decades Away

4. Purported Benefits

5. French Government’s IRSN Report

6. US Government Accountability Office Report

7. The Slow Death of Fast Reactors

8. Integral Fast Reactors

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. GENERATION IV REACTOR CONCEPTS ‒ INTRODUCTION Continue reading

May 13, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, technology | 1 Comment

After 61 years the Australian government recognises its atomic veterans

Atomic veterans to be recognised after 61 years, Mandurah Mail, 8 May 17,  The service of veterans exposed to British atomic testing off the coast of Western Australia in the 1950s is to be recognised in the federal budget on Tuesday.

On Sunday Canning MP Andrew Hastie announced $133 million would be spent giving the men who served in the Montebello Islands, where three nuclear weapons tests took place in 1952 and 1956, access to Department of Veterans Affairs gold cards.

Mr Hastie said the gold cards, which entitled the veterans to free public and private health care, were an acknowledgment the men had served in dangerous circumstances.

“It says to them that the Australian government, on behalf of the Australian people, care about them and are going to see their responsibility to care for them through,” he said.

“For these men it is recognition they did serve in hazardous conditions, that they were exposed to nuclear radiation after atomic testing, so for them it means a lot, especially since quite a few of them have suffered from cancer.”

Only 51 of the 89 servicemen who were conscripted to assist with the atomic tests are still alive.

Half of those who have since died succumbed to cancer……..

Many of the veterans said they had not been told of the dangers of nuclear radiation and were not issued protective gear.

“We got up there and didn’t even know what was happening, all we knew is that something big was happening so we got out on the upper deck and the count down came down,” Australian Ex-Services Atomic Survivors Association secretary Jim Marlow said.

“We were told to turn our backs, so we turned our backs and there was a blinding flash and a push of wind and a whole lot of noise and we turned back again and saw the smoke going up.”

Mr Marlow said he was back working in the ship 10 minutes after the blast.

He said the survivors association had been lobbying for recognition for more than a decade. http://www.mandurahmail.com.au/story/4647184/atomic-veterans-to-be-recognised-after-61-years/

May 10, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, health, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea says America is preparing for war: highlights 1250 US marines to Darwin, Australia

North Korea highlights 1250 US marines in Darwin to claim America is preparing for nuclear war, SMH, Kirsty Needham and James Massola,  25 Apr 17, North Korea’s state newspaper has singled out the United States’ deployment of 1250 marines to Darwin to claim America is preparing for nuclear war.

And as regional tensions escalate and a US carrier strike group approaches the Korean peninsula, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the secretive regime “must be stopped” as it represented a threat to the region and, potentially, globally.

In a phone call with US president Donald Trump, Chinese president Xi Jinping said China opposed any actions that went against UN security council resolutions, as Japan confirmed it was joining drills with the strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson that is headed to Korean waters.

Pusan National University associate professor Robert Kelly told Fairfax Media North Korea’s missiles might have the range to reach northern Australia, but played down the threat as “the question is guidance, not range”.

Rodong Sinmun, the official paper of the Worker’s Party of North Korea, highlighted the US marines’ arrival in northern Australia on April 18. The marines will be joined by 12 military helicopters including five Cobra helicopters and four Osprey carriers.

“This is the largest scale US military presence in Australia after World War 2,” the newspaper reported on Monday. “America is fanatically, crazily trying to optimise its nuclear war readiness,” it claimed.

The story, on page six of the North Korean newspaper, was headlined: America prepares for nuclear war in different overseas military deployments. Darwin was the only city named…….

Australia-based defence experts believe it is unlikely North Korea has the capacity to strike Australia yet, though they may do within the next three years. The nation’s most recent missile test, earlier this month, failed just seconds after launch…….

The deployment of 1250 marines is the largest to Darwin since the former prime minister Julia Gillard and former president Barack Obama struck a deal back in 2011 to undertake the yearly rotation of troops.

with Sanghee Liu, AAP http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/north-korea-highlights-1250-us-marines-in-darwin-to-claim-america-is-preparing-for-nuclear-war-20170424-gvrbzl.html

April 26, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s prime targets for a nuclear attack

Pine Gap is more than a giant electronic vacuum cleaner. The facility is also involved in tactical warfare, through programs like “The Red Dot Express”

More controversial is Pine Gap’s role in drone strikes.

Instead of trying to pump up hysteria over a non-existent North Korean missile strike, The Turnbull Government should take a hard look at the very real threat that Pine Gap and Northwest Cape pose to Australia.

 


Pine Gap is still there — bigger and badder than ever,
Independent Australia Norm Sanders 25 April 2017 With Donald Trump putting a blowtorch to the Cold War, it is time to take another look at all the U.S. bases in Australia, including Pine Gap, writes Dr Norm Sanders

PINE GAP, Northwest Cape and Nurrungar were the focus of the Australian Peace Movement in the 1980’s. Then the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock crept slowly away from midnight and the removal of the bases didn’t seem so urgent. The clamour to close the bases died down………

I actually knew quite a bit about what Pine Gap was up to at the time, but it was child’s play compared to what they are doing at present. A simple place to start is Pine Gap’s assumption of the function of Nurrungar in 1999. Nurrungar was located at Island Lagoon, Woomera and was crucial to America’s defenses during the Cold War. Nurrungar furnished “Launch on Warning” surveillance of ICBM or other rocket launches anywhere on the globe. Analysts regarded it as one of the USSR’s top ten targets.

Now, Pine Gap has probably surpassed Nurrungar in the rankings. It is one of the largest satellite ground stations in the world, with over 33 satellite antennas. Pine Gap houses a number of U.S. Government agencies, such as the National Reconnaissance Office (spy satellites,) the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the Geospatial-intelligence Agency. In addition, all branches of the U.S. Military are represented.

Pine Gap is a major element of ECHELON, a signals intelligence collection and analysis network. Echelon can eavesdrop on faxes, computers and telephones, and can even scan bank accounts. It can actually pick up enemy combat forces talking to each other in the field. The U.S. Government says Echelon doesn’t exist and never did. In fact, it may have now merged with XKeyscore, another system at Pine Gap. It is run by the National Security Agency and shares data with the Australian Signals Directorate.

XKeyscore was exposed by Edward Snowden in 2013.

In an interview with a German TV station in 2014, Snowden answered the question of what he could do with XKeyscore by saying:

You could read anyone’s email in the world, anybody you’ve got an email address for. Any website: You can watch traffic to and from it. Any computer that an individual sits at: You can watch it. Any laptop that you’re tracking: you can follow it as it moves from place to place throughout the world. It’s a one-stop-shop for access to the NSA’s information.

…You can tag individuals… Let’s say you work at a major German corporation and I want access to that network, I can track your username on a website on a form somewhere, I can track your real name, I can track associations with your friends and I can build what’s called a fingerprint, which is network activity unique to you, which means anywhere you go in the world, anywhere you try to sort of hide your online presence, your identity.

No wonder Snowden has to stay in Russia!

But Pine Gap is more than a giant electronic vacuum cleaner. The facility is also involved in tactical warfare, through programs like “The Red Dot Express”.

Red Dot uses a plethora of imaging techniques, signal intercepts and other sources to identify IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) by their electronic emissions. All this data passes through Pine Gap, gets analysed and, ultimately, is displayed as a red dot on a Humvee computer as a warning that there is a possible IED just ahead on an Afghan road.

More controversial is Pine Gap’s role in drone strikes. This prompted the late Des Ball, a leading ANU intelligence expert, to criticise the Pine Gap facility which he formerly supported.

On the 7:30 Report, broadcast 13/08/2014, he said:

“I’ve reached the point now where I can no longer stand up and provide the verbal, conceptual justification for the facility that I was able to do in the past. We’re now linked in to this global network where intelligence and operations have become essentially fused and Pine Gap is a key node in that whole network, that war machine, if you want to use that term, which is doing things which are very, very difficult, I think, as an Australian, to justify.”………

Pine Gap is still there.

So is Northwest Cape. The facility is officially known as “Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt”. There is a certain irony in the name because rumours circulated at the time of Holt’s death that he was assassinated by the CIA as he was intending to pull Australia out of the Vietnam War.

The base is six kilometres north of the town of Exmouth, Western Australia. Exmouth itself was built to support the base and be a home to dependent families of the U.S. Navy personnel.

The station is a key link in the communication capability with U.S. Navy and Australian ships in a vast area of the Western Pacific and Eastern Indian Ocean. It transmits on VLF (very low frequency,) at 19.8 kHz with a power of 1 million watts, which makes it the most powerful transmitter in the Southern Hemisphere. For comparison, commercial TV transmitters have about 1⁄10 the power.

The powerful transmitter has been linked to two incidents in which Qantas airliners had equipment failures while flying in the area. Qantas Flight 72 had to make an emergency landing at Learmouth, near Exmouth, after uncontrolled pitch-downs which caused fractures, lacerations and spinal injuries to passengers and crew.

In order to transmit this massive power, Northwest Cape has a huge spiderweb array of antennas supported by 13 towers, each almost 400 meters high. Buried underneath the antenna is 386 kilometres of bare copper mat as a ground plane.

The combination of the very low fequency and immense power means that Northwest Cape can communicate with nuclear armed submarines while they are submerged to at least 20 meters to avoid detection. The orders to launch nuclear missiles in time of war in the region would be sent through the base. It is this function which makes Northwest Cape an obvious prime nuclear target.

Instead of trying to pump up hysteria over a non-existent North Korean missile strike, The Turnbull Government should take a hard look at the very real threat that Pine Gap and Northwest Cape pose to Australia. https://independentaustralia.net/article-display/pine-gap-is-still-there–bigger-and-badder-than-ever,10231#.WP92gQsXvE0.twitter

April 26, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea issues nuclear warning to Australia’s hawkish Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop

North Korea issues nuclear warning to Australia, Camden Narellan Advertiser ,23 Apr 2017 Beijing: North Korea’s foreign ministry has lashed out at Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and warned Australia was “coming within the range of the nuclear strike”. The threats were reported by the North Korean state news agency KCNA as being made on Friday, in response to a radio interview given by Ms Bishop.

According to a translation of the KCNA report, which was dated Friday, the same day US Vice-President Mike Pence arrived in Australia, Ms Bishop had said in the radio interview that North Korea seriously threatens regional peace and she supports the US policy that “all options are on the table”.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of North Korea – officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – was quoted as saying: “The present government of Australia is blindly and zealously toeing the US line. It is hard to expect good words from the foreign minister of such government.”….

“If Australia persists in following the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and remains a shock brigade of the US master, this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK.”….

The KCNA report continued: “The Australian foreign minister had better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the US.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday pledged support for the US policy on North Korea and again urged China to do more to place economic pressure on North Korea.

China has turned back coal shipments to North Korea in recent weeks, one of the regime’s few sources of funding. Chinese media have speculated the Chinese government is also considering cutting oil supplies.

There are renewed concerns that North Korea may conduct its sixth nuclear test on Tuesday, the 85th anniversary of its military, and China said this week it was “gravely concerned”.

China’s official People’s Daily newspaper on Saturday evening reported online that new satellite images of the North Korean nuclear test site had shown probable new trailer activity, citing US research website 38 Northhttp://www.camdenadvertiser.com.au/story/4614177/north-korea-issues-nuclear-warning-to-australia/?cs=5

April 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment