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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Professor Geraldine Thomas and nuclear scientific misconduct

a-cat-CANThis is part of a very important article, in which Dr Baverstock thoroughly refutes the claims that  Professor Geraldine Thomas’ made in  a BBC  interview, about Fukushima ionising radiation not being much to worry about. The BBC has since withdrawn her statements.

But that hasn’t stopped the South Australian government bringing Thomas out here to spin her stuff, in Thomas, Geraldinesupport of Weatherill’s push for SA as the global nuclear waste dump.


Thomas’ comments in the video were insulting to the intelligence of the Japanese authorities and their advisors, and extremely ill-judged from a professional radiological point of view.  The BBC was right to withdraw her comments as incorrect

baverstock-dr-keith‘This was quite clearly scientific misconduct’  by Dr Keith Baverstock, Fissiononline 23 Sept 16  .  I will take the BBC interview first. In this interview Thomas questions the whole basis of the Japanese response to the Fukushima accident in terms of its evacuation policy. Is one to imagine that those authorities and the Japanese scientific establishment are so stupid as not to recognise that there is no risk entailing living in those areas?

The internationally agreed public dose limit is 1 mSv per year in addition to approximately 2 mSv per year from natural background radiation.  The single measurement made in that television interview indicate 2.8 microsieverts per hour, which is close to 25 mSv per year. That includes the natural background doses o at that point the dose rate is at least 20 times the public dose limit.

Surely Thomas can recognise that this must demand serious consideration by the appropriate authorities as to the safety of those who would live there? However, to determine the safety or otherwise of living there it would be necessary to do a comprehensive survey of the area.  My guess is that five years after the deposition of the radioactivity there will be a high degree of variability in measurements: some may be less in the measurement made on the programme, but others more and perhaps considerably more. Furthermore, if one were looking at a situation, for example in the UK, one would have to ensure that the most exposed person could not receive more that 1 mSv per annum. Therefore promises arguments that being indoors for example would reduce the dose rate are not valid in the context of the radiological protection of the public in general.

Whether a special dispensation applies when determining the return of evacuees  to their homes is a question that I believe needs to be discussed, because as far as I’m aware the current situation in Japan is unique. Furthermore, we are not talking about a total dose of 20 mSv for someone who returns to live in this village.  In many such villages remedial measures to reduce the dose rate are being taken, but only for the main “living areas”.  Straying beyond these areas could lead to much higher doses, and eating natural produce, mushrooms etc,  to even higher doses.

In the light of these considerations, Thomas’ comments in the video were insulting to the intelligence of the Japanese authorities and their advisors, and extremely ill-judged from a professional radiological point of view.  The BBC was right to withdraw her comments as incorrect if that is indeed what they did.

Watching the video I am inclined to believe that Thomas is being disingenuous when she says she made a numeric al error when calculating the dose from the interviewer’s measurement. She made no attempt to do any kind of calculation: the figure she cited was something she clearly had in mond at the outset: she was delivering propaganda for the nuclear industry

That in the context in which the interview took place and the way in which she was introduced to the audience, is clearly scientific misconduct.  One must also say here that the ninterviewer must have been, for an experienced journalist, amazingly gullible to have allowed the interview to be broadcast………..   https://issuu.com/fission/docs/fissionline_44

Dr Keith Baverstock led the Radiation Programme at the World Health Organisation’s Regional Office for Europe from 1991 to 2003.

September 24, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Christina's notes, media, spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

Finland ready to grasp a nuclear marketing opportunity in South Australia

nuclear-marketing-crapflag-FinlandFinland’s Onkalo nuclear waste disposal facility want to export the technology to South Australia, The Advertiser Daniel Wills, Helsinki, Finland, The Advertiser September 21, 2016 OPERATORS of the world’s most advanced nuclear disposal facility want to export the technology to South Australia and form an alliance to help the state develop its own commercial facility to take waste from around the world.

At a briefing with Premier Jay Weatherill at Finland’s Onkalo nuclear waste disposal facility, Posiva Solutions Oy managing director Mika Pohjonen said his company would be willing to licence intellectual property and engineering solutions to SA if it were to proceed with expanding the local nuclear industry.

Posiva is a joint venture owned by two of Finland’s biggest energy companies — Teollisuuden Voima Oyj and Fortum Power and Heat. It is set to become the first organisation in the world to bury a canister of spent nuclear fuel when they begin inserting them into the bedrock from 2020. Mr Pohjonen said SA could hope to move from site selection to burying canisters within about 15 years, less than half the time taken by Finland, because the Scandinavians had already undertaken the slow work of proving the technology………

The Onkalo disposal site is about 10 times smaller than that conceived by SA’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.……

Mr Weatherill will by the end of the year declare a formal State Government position to Parliament on expansion of the industry………

“The next major step is a threshold question about whether we maintain our prohibition against a facility for spent fuel or whether we take a step to explore it further.”-  Mr Weatherill said ….

weatherill-nuclear-dream

….http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/finlands-onkalo-nuclear-waste-disposal-facility-want-to-export-the-technology-to-south-australia/news-story/5b26cc6e0bf9f342bac97fa5ba81c444

September 22, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Finland, marketing | Leave a comment

Australia’s secret shame – the Maralinga nuclear bomb tests

This March, documents obtained exclusively by news.com.au revealed that hundreds of children and grandchildren of veterans exposed to radiation were born with shocking illnesses including tumours, Down syndrome, cleft palates, cerebral palsy, autism, missing bones and heart disease.

Other veterans posted to the Maralinga nuclear test site blamed the British Nuclear Test for an unusually high number of stillbirths and miscarriages among the group.

“The rest of the Aboriginal people in this country need to know the story as well,”    “This one’s been kept very quiet.”

Nuclear will be on show at the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide, South Australia from 17 September to 12 November.

Book Maralinga Anangu StoryThe secret destruction of Australia’s Hiroshima,  http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/the-secret-destruction-of-australias-hiroshima/news-story/9eabf722dbe2f87e03a297c2a348a8e1  news.com.au, SEPTEMBER 17, 2016 WHEN nuclear explosions tore through Australia’s vast, arid centre, some people living there didn’t even know it was coming.

It devastated the country for miles around, annihilating every bird, tree and animal in its path.

Even today, the effects of our very own Hiroshima are still felt by the families it ripped apart, and those suffering horrific health problems as a result.

The British military detonated seven nuclear bombs in remote Maralinga, around 800km north-west of Adelaide, plus two at Emu Fields and three off the coast near Karratha, Western Australia.

They also staged hundreds of minor trials investigating the impact of non-nuclear explosions on atomic weapons, involving tanks, gun, mannequins in uniforms and even tethered goats. In many ways, these smaller tests were equally dangerous, spraying plutonium in all directions.

Yet most Australians know very little about the blasts that shattered communities, and the dramatic story now buried under layers of dust.

Archie Barton was just a child when the nuclear testing took place between 1956 and 1963, stretching across a huge now uninhabitable 120km of land where he and thousands of others lived.

“He was taken away from his mother,” his stepson Steve Harrison tells news.com.au. “He was part of the Stolen Generations. He grew up in homes around Australia, and led a very rough life.

“Before my mum, he was a full-blown alcoholic. He wanted to go back to his birthplace.

 “With his brother, he fought a battle with the British government to come back to clean up the area.

“He came into my life at a very young age. I was 14. I knew him as a strong, proud Aboriginal black man. He ended up getting an OBE.”

‘CHEAP AND NASTY SOLUTION’

Mr Barton’s family was not the only one scattered by the bombs. Many walked for days or even weeks to find new homes, deliberately going barefoot so their relatives could follow behind. British soldiers repeatedly turned them back south when they tried to head north.

Unsurprisingly, many never found each other.

“They were dispersed pretty much to the four points of the compass,” said Paul Brown, creative director of new showcase Nuclear, featuring Mr Harrison’s artwork. “It represented a massive dislocation from the watering holes and places that were important to Aboriginal people.

“If Aboriginal people weren’t caught up in the blast, it was by sheer luck, not design.

“People were very close at the time of the blast, they even had to take people into the decontamination area to scrub them down.”

Decades later, 57-year-old Mr Harrison’s village still isn’t a safe place for humans to live, despite numerous attempts to decontaminate the area, in 1967, 1985 and the late 1990s.

Ian Anderson’s 1993 New Scientist article “Britain’s dirty deeds at Maralinga” exposed negotiations between the UK and Australia to dispose of toxic plutonium that had been lightly covered with soil instead of being buried in concrete bunkers.

And as recently as 2007, nuclear engineer Alan Parkinson claimed the latest $100 million clean-up was a “cheap and nasty solution”.

IT RUINED QUITE A LOT OF LIVES’

The Anandu people fled to Oak Valley, Yalata, Renmark and almost anywhere between Kalgoorlie in WA and Adelaide.

Torn from family members and their homes, indigenous communities saw the consequences travel down the generations. Alcoholism is one of the biggest problems, along with drugs, crime, homelessness and lack of acceptance from new towns where these displaced people live on the fringes.

The Royal Commission found evidence of terrible disabilities caused by likely radiation impacts on both veterans and Aboriginal communities.

This March, documents obtained exclusively by news.com.au revealed that hundreds of children and grandchildren of veterans exposed to radiation were born with shocking illnesses including tumours, Down syndrome, cleft palates, cerebral palsy, autism, missing bones and heart disease.

Other veterans posted to the Maralinga nuclear test site blamed the British Nuclear Test for an unusually high number of stillbirths and miscarriages among the group.

A 2008 Department of Veterans’ Affairs study reported that the doses to Australians were small, with a spokesman tellingnews.com.au that studies into the descendants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs survivors showed they “do not have an increased frequency of chromosome abnormalities or major birth defects.”

Yet a 1999 study for the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association found that 30 per cent of involved veterans had died from cancer, mainly in their 50s.

Troops flew through mushroom clouds from explosions without protection and marched to ground zero immediately after bomb detonation. Airborne drifts of radioactive material resulted in “radioactive rain” being dropped on Brisbane and Queensland country areas.

“When they created this problem, they didn’t picture it at the end,” says Mr Harrison. “People are fighting for their existence.

“We can go back, but cannot go back and live there. It’s ruined quite a lot of lives.

“I see people who’ve been taken away coming back trying to reconnect with family. Most now live in Yalata on the Nullabor Plains.

“It was so sad, so hard. You need to grow up with family from a young age. Now they’re telling people they’ve got to leave communities in the Northern Territory, they’re closing down a lot of these communities.”

THIS ONE’S BEEN KEPT QUIET’

The Maralinga bombs were set off in a way that officially satisfied safe firing requirements. The detonations were even celebrated as a “great success” in The Advertiser.

But Mr Brown says there is evidence the military was “deliberately misleading the public about the likely impact.”

Britain’s Parliament last year issued a statement of recognition and set up a benevolent fund for veterans who took part in the nuclear tests.

Mr Brown hopes his exhibition, 60 years on from the blasts, will show that these are not simply stories about victims. “Often people have gone on the front foot,” he said. “In Japan, the Hibakusha are world leaders in the peace movement. They’ve taken it upon themselves to campaign for disarmament and world peace.”

Mr Harrison, who has visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors in Japan and presented them with a sculpture, says his main concern is making sure Australians know what happened in their own country.

“The rest of the Aboriginal people in this country need to know the story as well,” he added.

“This one’s been kept very quiet.”

Nuclear will be on show at the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide, South Australia from 17 September to 12 November.

September 17, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, health, secrets,lies and civil liberties, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Ugly Australian Uranium Companies in Africa

uranium-oreflag-AustraliaAfrica Down Under: Tales Of Australian Woe On The ‘Dark Continent’, New Matilda, By  on September 7, 2016 A mining conference underway in Perth states its aim is to help boost the fortunes of one of the poorest regions on earth. But boost the fortunes for whom, asks Dave Sweeney from ACF.

Stories of corruption, dirty dealing and corner cutting are not uncommon in the world of mining and resource extraction, especially in the developing or majority world. It is a tough trade where the high-visibility clothing is often in stark contrast to the lack of transparency surrounding payments and practises.

But as a major industry gathering takes place this week in Perth it is time for a genuine look at whether Australian resource companies are supporting the growth of fledgling democracies or literally undermining them.

No doubt the tall tales will flow along with the cocktails at the Africa Down Under mining conference, an annual event that sees Australian politicians join their African counterparts alongside a melange of miners, merchants and media.

According to the organisers “the ancient land mass of Africa is without question the world’s greatest treasure trove. A new era of joint ventures with juniors and grub-staking is taking place. The action across the continent is taking place hard and fast there could not be a better time to explore the options and hear the stories from the people who are unlocking the wealth of the formerly ‘Dark Continent’.”

While the agenda for conference participants seems clear, the benefits for communities in Africa are less so.

Recent years have seen a marked increase in Australian mining operations and ambitions in Africa with a major increase in the number of Australian mining companies and resource service companies active in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Over a 150 publicly listed companies are operating in more than 30 African nations.

There have been new allegations of Australian companies involved in irregular and illegal practices off-shore, including confirmation that the Australian Federal Police are actively investigating trouble prone Sundance Resources over bribery allegations linked to its Mbalam-Nabeba iron ore project in Congo.

But Sundance is not the only Australian miner generating headlines and heartache. Paladin Energy’scontaminating uranium operations, controversy over Anvil and state repression in Congo, MRC’s exit from its Xolobeni titanium project on South Africa’s Wild Coast following the murder of anti-mining advocateBazooka Rhadebe earlier this year.

The list goes ever on and the details – some of which are documented in a powerful report by the International Consortium of Independent Journalists – are deeply disturbing.

As this decade began, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre expressed the situation clearly stating: “Many Australian companies, particularly mining companies, can have a severe impact on human rights throughout the world, including the right to food, water, health and a clean environment. Despite this, successive governments lack a clear framework of human rights obligations for Australian corporations operating overseas. This is particularly problematic in countries with lax or limited regulations.”……..

Expanding the extractives industry in regions with major governance, capacity and transparency challenges is a concern for communities and civil society groups in both Australia and Africa. The absence of a robust regulatory regime in many African countries can see situations where Australian companies are engaged in activities that would not be acceptable practise at home………

Tracey Davies, a lawyer with the South African-based Centre for Environmental Rights told Fairfax medialast year that there is a widespread and “very strong perception that when Australian mining companies come here they take every advantage of regulatory and compliance monitoring weaknesses, and of the huge disparity in power between themselves and affected communities, and aim to get away with things they wouldn’t even think of trying in Australia”……https://newmatilda.com/2016/09/07/africa-down-under-tales-of-australia-woe-on-the-dark-continent/

September 9, 2016 Posted by | AFRICA, AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Uranium | Leave a comment

Australia, the Pacific pariah on climate change

It is the world’s largest coal exporter, and both major political parties are financially backed by the coal lobby. Rather than move away from coal, the government is seeking to expand exports dramatically, with public subsidies and taxpayer-funded infrastructure.

The contrast could not be starker. While Pacific leaders are praised for their efforts to develop global climate solutions, Australia faces ignominy. Unless Australia changes direction, it will continue to be seen as an irresponsible middle power – a rogue state undermining global efforts to tackle climate change.

australias-politiciansPacific pariah: how Australia’s love of coal has left it out in the diplomatic cold, https://theconversation.com/pacific-pariah-how-australias-love-of-coal-has-left-it-out-in-the-diplomatic-cold-64963 The Conversation, , 7 Sept 16, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will have some explaining to do when he attends the Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting in Pohnpei, Micronesia, this week.

Australia’s continued determination to dig up coal, while refusing to dig deep to tackle climate change, has put it increasingly at odds with world opinion. Nowhere is this more evident than when Australian politicians meet with their Pacific island counterparts.

It is widely acknowledged that Pacific island states are at the front line of climate change. It is perhaps less well known that, for a quarter of a century, Australia has attempted to undermine their demands in climate negotiations at the United Nations.

The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) – organised around an annual meeting between island leaders and their counterparts from Australia and New Zealand – is the Pacific region’s premier political forum. But island nations have been denied the chance to use it to press hard for their shared climate goals, because Australia has used the PIF to weaken the regional declarations put forward by Pacific nations at each key milestone in the global climate negotiation process. Continue reading

September 7, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Once Again, Australia is the laggard on climate change action

US-China ratification of Paris Agreement ramps up the pressure on Australia, The Conversation,   September 5, 2016When President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping announced their countries’ ratification of the Paris climate agreement ahead of last weekend’s G20 meeting in Hangzhou, they boosted its chances of coming into force by the end of this year, some 12 months after the deal was brokered last December.

To enter into force, the Paris Agreement requires ratification by at least 55 nations which together account for at least 55% of global greenhouse emissions. It will then become legally binding on those parties that have both signed and ratified it. These thresholds ensure that the deal has broad legitimacy among states, but are also low enough to limit the opportunities for blocking by states that may oppose its progress.

Aside from China and the United States – the world’s two largest emitters, which together produce 39% of the world’s emissions – another 24 countries have ratified the agreement.

To get over the threshold, it now only needs the support of a handful of major emitters like the European Union (a bloc of 27 countries producing some 10% of global emissions), India, Russia or Brazil. Ratification by countries such as Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom (each of which contributes about 1.5% of emissions) would also contribute significantly to this momentum………

australias-politiciansAustralia left as a laggard

The US-China announcement not only increases the momentum for ratification, but also increases pressure on Australia. With the Kyoto Protocol, Australia loyally supported the United States and refused to ratify until 2007. This time, similar recalcitrance is likely to be met with strong international disapproval.

However, ratification is only the beginning. Australia will then be required to revise and toughen its targets for 2030 and beyond. Its weak 2030 mitigation target is accompanied by policies inadequate to meet this goal.

The Paris Agreement, once in force, will require a more robust Australian target to be announced by 2023 at the latest. This in turn will further highlight the gap between current and sufficient implementation measures.

The US-China ratification announcement is the next step along a path that must see Australia climb – or be dragged – out of its current climate policy torpor. https://theconversation.com/us-china-ratification-of-paris-agreement-ramps-up-the-pressure-on-australia-64821

September 7, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Report finds Australia worst on climate change, among G20 nations

The report notes that if every country emulated Australia’s level of ambition, global warming would likely exceed 4C.

It also said that Australia’s currently implemented policy measures were not set to achieve even those inadequate targets and instead would rise to about 27% above 2005 levels by 2030, rather than the targeted 26 to 28% below 2005 levels.

Map Turnbull climateAustralia worst among G20 when it comes to action on climate change, report finds
Australia the only country to receive a rating of ‘very poor’ in a majority of categories in Climate Transparency scorecard,
Guardian, , 1 Sept 16, Australia is the worst country among the G20 when it comes to action on climate change, according to a comprehensive assessment before the G20 summit in China.

Under China’s leadership, this weekend’s G20 in the eastern city of Hangzhou has had a strong focus on climate-related issues.

By analysing the policies and actions of each of the 20 countries, which together produce 75% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, Climate Transparency produced a report, scorecard and series of country profiles detailing their findings, revealing Australia was not pulling its weight.

On the scorecard, Australia was the only country to receive a rating of “very poor” in a majority of categories.

Australia was given the worst possible rating of “very poor” for its performance on emissions trends, carbon intensity, share of renewables in its energy supply and overall climate policy.

It was rated as “poor” in every other category: for its energy intensity, share of coal in energy supply and electricity emissions intensity.

Alvaro Umaña, co-chair of Climate Transparency and a former Costa Rican environment minister, said: “The G20 has proven that it can be nimble and take action on economic issues, so we are looking to these countries to do the same for the climate.”

Along with half the other G20 nations, Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction targets committed to at Paris – making up Australia’s intended nationally determined contribution – were given the worst possible rating of “inadequate”.

However, none of the 20 nations’ commitments were labelled as “sufficient” or “role model”, with the remaining 10 scored as “medium”.

The report notes that if every country emulated Australia’s level of ambition, global warming would likely exceed 4C.

It also said that Australia’s currently implemented policy measures were not set to achieve even those inadequate targets and instead would rise to about 27% above 2005 levels by 2030, rather than the targeted 26 to 28% below 2005 levels.

The report comes one day after Australia’s Climate Change Authority produced its long-awaited “special review”, recommending that the country should institute two emissions trading schemes…..

Last week international investors controlling $13tn worth of fundsurged the G20 to accelerate investment in clean energy, saying countries that ratified the Paris agreement early would benefit by attracting investment in low-carbon technology.

Those calls were particularly timely, coming as the the Australian parliament considers the effective abolition of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and one day after Guardian Australia revealed that new uncertainty had already caused at least two renewable energy projects to be suspended. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/01/australia-worst-among-g20-when-it-comes-to-action-on-climate-change-report-finds

September 2, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Australia’s reliance on Extended Nuclear Deterrence (END) is now out-dated

The revival of concern about the humanitarian impacts of these weapons is shifting old assumptions.

Australia’s reliance on END keeps us on the wrong side of history. And it has led previous governments and the current government to actively oppose the growing calls for a ban on nuclear weapons.

Instead of blindly following US nuclear policies into whatever a future president might envisage, Australia should carefully consider its non-nuclear defence and challenge all claims, surrogate or otherwise, to nuclear weapons.


Aust-weaponsAustralia’s stance on nuclear deterrence http://www.swinburne.edu.au/news/latest-news/2016/08/australias-stance-on-nuclear-deterrence-.php
 26 text-relevantAugust 2016

IN SUMMARY Analysis for The Conversation by Swinburne PhD candidate
Dimity Hawkins and Swinburne senior lecturer Julie Kimber
.CONTACT Lea Kivivali  +61 3 9214 5428      lkivivali@swin.edu.au  

For Australia, the US election should provide an opportunity to rethink defence relationships, especially as they relate to nuclear weapons.

There has been much hand-wringing at the thought of Donald Trump becoming US president. If, by some miracle, Trump succeeds in November, he will have his hand on the nuclear trigger.

But this concern, while great political fodder, is dangerously simplistic. It presupposes there are “safe hands” when it comes to nuclear weapons. There are not.

The US has around 7,000 nuclear weapons. Hundreds of these can be launched within minutes. While the global community has outlawed other indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons are yet to be banned.

The Cold War’s MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) doctrine has morphed over the years into a framework of nuclear deterrence. Many governments globally have played a double game: supporting nuclear disarmament on the one hand, while relying on a nuclear defence on the other.

One such government is Australia’s. Despite consecutive governments insisting they support nuclear disarmament, Australia’s reliance on Extended Nuclear Deterrence (END) means it is frustrating attempts at a total ban.

  • When defence conflicts with deterrence END is based on the assumption the US would offer a nuclear response to Australia as a select protégé ally in the event of a nuclear threat or attack. These arrangements are publicly documented between the US and NATO states, Japan and South Korea.
  • The first official articulation of the position in Australia is in its 1994 Defence White Paper. This professes a reliance on, and support for, a US nuclear capability to “deter any nuclear threat or attack on Australia”.Importantly, the paper also noted that reliance on END was an “interim” measure until a total ban on nuclear weapons could be achieved. Each subsequent defence white paper has continued to assert this reliance on US nuclear weapons.The 2016 Defence White Paper created more ambiguity about the END arrangement. It claimed:

    Only the nuclear and conventional military capabilities of the United States can offer effective deterrence against the possibility of nuclear threats against Australia.

  • After 22 years of white paper reliance on END, it is no longer a temporary aberration. The risk is we normalise both the need for and use of nuclear weapons.Australian defence white papers offer no clarification on the conditions under which nuclear weapons would be used on our behalf. Given the known humanitarian, environmental and cultural devastation caused by their use, significant questions remain – including under what circumstances policymakers and defence experts would consider justifying the deployment of nuclear weapons in Australia’s name.The global trend of nuclear renewal Anyone watching US President Barack Obama’s speech in Hiroshima in March 2016 might be mistaken for thinking his pledges to end the nuclear weapon threat were sincere. He said:

    Among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.This would seem to undermine the utility of nuclear deterrence, but the reality is different.

  • The US plans to spend US$348 billion during 2015–24 on maintaining and comprehensively updating its nuclear forces. Other estimates for the modernisation program are as high as $1 trillion over the next 30 years.Despite Trump’s assertion that countries under the US END umbrella should be developing their own nuclear capacity, neither Trump nor his Democratic presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, are likely to discontinue the nuclear renewal programs.For Australia, the change in the US presidency provides an opportunity to rethink defence relationships, especially those relating to nuclear weapons.

    An opportunity to re-evaluate our stanceWith some arguing a Trump presidency would undermine alliance relationships, Australia has a chance to strike a new path. The uncomfortable presumption of END in our defence policies is one area we should be actively challenging.

    While Australia is a highly militarised middle power in the region, it has few, if any, discernible nuclear threats of its own to counter. It has forsworn such weapons through international law agreements and has at times been a strong voice on efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.

    The revival of concern about the humanitarian impacts of these weapons is shifting old assumptions. Growing impatience with the slow pace of change and continual delays in meeting even the most basic of expectations in relation to nuclear disarmament have meant support for a ban on such weapons has grown internationally to include the majority of UN member countries.

    Australia’s reliance on END keeps us on the wrong side of history. And it has led previous governments and the current government to actively oppose the growing calls for a ban on nuclear weapons.

    Instead of blindly following US nuclear policies into whatever a future president might envisage, Australia should carefully consider its non-nuclear defence and challenge all claims, surrogate or otherwise, to nuclear weapons.

August 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Positive international report for nuclear disarmament, despite disruption by Australia

Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), said it was thought that Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, instructed her diplomats to disrupt the international gathering late on Friday afternoon by forcing a vote. While others then joined Australia to vote against the report, Australia was alone in forcing the vote to happen.

The acceptance of the report was seen as a major milestone by anti-nuclear campaigners.

“This is a significant moment in the seven­-decade­-long global struggle to rid the world of the worst weapons of mass destruction,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director Ican. “The UN working group achieved a breakthrough today.”

flag-AustraliaAustralia attempts to derail UN plan to ban nuclear weapons Diplomats force a vote text-relevant
on a report to begin negotiations on a ban in 2017 that had been expected to pass unanimously,
Guardian, , 21 Aug 16, Australia has attempted to derail a ban on nuclear weapons at a UN meeting on disarmament, by single-handedly forcing a vote on a report that had been expected to pass unanimously.

The report, which recommended negotiations begin in 2017 to ban nuclear weapons, was eventually passed by 68 votes to 22. An Austrian-led push for the treaty had reached a milestone on Friday, when the report was presented to representatives of 103 nations in Geneva.

Moves towards a ban have been pursued because many saw little progress under the existing non-proliferation treaty, which obliges the five declared nuclear states to “pursue negotiations in good faith” towards “cessation of the nuclear arms race … and nuclear disarmament”.

The proposal recommended a conference be held next year to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

The text was carefully negotiated, and compromise was attempted on contentious paragraphs.

Anti-nuclear campaigners involved in the process expected the report would pass without objection. But Australia surprised observers by objecting and forcing a vote.

The vote was accepted by an overwhelming majority, with 68 voting in favour, 22 against and 13 abstaining.

The next step will be for the proposal for negotiations to begin in 2017 will be tabled at the United Nations general assembly, after which it is likely formal negotiations will begin.

In an opening statement the Australian diplomat Ian McConville told the meeting: “A simple Ban Treaty would not facilitate the reduction in one nuclear weapon. It might even harden the resolve of those possessing nuclear weapons not to reduce their arsenals.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on its website that it opposed a ban on nuclear weapons because although it “might seem to be a straightforward and emotionally appealing way to de-legitimise and eradicate nuclear weapons,” it would actually “divert attention from the sustained, practical steps needed for effective disarmament”.

But in 2015, documents obtained under Freedom of Information revealed Australia opposed the ban on nuclear weapons, since it believed it relied on US nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

“As long as the threat of nuclear attack or coercion exists, and countries like the DPRK [North Korea] seek these weapons and threaten others, Australia and many other countries will continue to rely on US extended nuclear deterrence,” said one of the briefing notes for government ministers.

The documents revealed however that Australia and the US were worried about the momentum gathering behind the Austrian-led push for a ban nuclear weapons, which diplomats said was “fast becoming a galvanising focus for those pushing the ban treaty option”.

Japan’s ambassador to the UN conference on disarmament expressed disappointment that a vote was required.

“We are deeply concerned that the adoption by voting will further divide the international disarmament community and undermine the momentum of nuclear disarmament for the international community as a whole,” he said.

Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), said it was thought that Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, instructed her diplomats to disrupt the international gathering late on Friday afternoon by forcing a vote. While others then joined Australia to vote against the report, Australia was alone in forcing the vote to happen.

“Australia is resisting the tide of history. A majority of nations believe that nuclear weapons are unacceptable and must be prohibited. And now they are ready to negotiate a ban,” Wright said.

“Australia’s attempt to derail these important disarmament talks was shameful and outrageous. It provoked strong criticism from some of our nearest neighbours in Asia and the Pacific, who believe that the world should be rid of all weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

The acceptance of the report was seen as a major milestone by anti-nuclear campaigners.

“This is a significant moment in the seven­-decade­-long global struggle to rid the world of the worst weapons of mass destruction,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director Ican. “The UN working group achieved a breakthrough today.”

“There can be no doubt that a majority of UN members intend to pursue negotiations next year on a treaty banning nuclear weapons,” said Fihn.

“We expect that, based on the recommendations of the working group, the UN general assembly will adopt a resolution this autumn to establish the mandate for negotiations on a ban on nuclear weapons in 2017.”

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said: “Australia called for a vote on the report as it was the most effective way to register our opposition to a recommendation to start negotiations on a ban treaty. A consensus report was not possible in the circumstances…..https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/21/australia-attempts-to-derail-un-plan-to-ban-nuclear-weapons

August 21, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Foolish greed in South Australia’s unwise plan to import nuclear wastes

greed copyPoison In The Heart: The Nuclear Wasting Of South Australia  Counter Currents by  — July 22, 2016 

“Nuclear weapons and nuclear power are both leading instances of the irrationalities 

that result from a social world that has been constructed to concentrate power 
in the hands of tiny minorities, and to make it possible for them 
to maintain and defend their power.”
 Andrew Lichterman, 2012
“. . . because a few, by fate’s economy, shall seem to move the world
the way it goes.”
 Edward Arlington Robinson, 1916

Our planet is deeply burdened. It presently harbours 390,000 tons of high level nuclear waste produced by nuclear reactors and weapons programs over the past 70 years. Spent nuclear fuel is one of the most dangerous materials on earth. Most of it is stored underwater in numerous cooling ponds throughout the world. High level nuclear waste is dangerous to all life for unthinkable periods of time. Plutonium, which is produced in every nuclear fuel rod, has a toxic lifespan of 240,000 years. With each passing year, a further 10,000 tons of spent fuel is added to the world’s accumulated stores of deadly waste. In addition to the spent fuel from nuclear reactors, vast amounts of lower-level radioactive waste lie scattered in mining sites, tailings dams, undersea dumps and soil-borne contamination on every continent.

We have no idea what to do with the stuff. The Americans sank over $13 billion into the construction of a massive underground repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. It was closed down in 2010 without taking in a single gram of nuclear waste. The Soviets didn’t bother with such elaborate schemes and until recently, simply dumped much of their waste – including obsolete submarines complete with nuclear reactors – into the Kara Sea and elsewhere in the Arctic Circle where they slowly corrode, leaching their lethal contents into the cold waters of the Arctic Ocean.

In the meantime, a small cadre of aspirational Promethean technocrats in South Australia have somehow decided that Australia holds the solution to the global problem of nuclear waste. The recently releasedNuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report recommends that the South Australian government accepts over one third of the world’s high level waste for above-ground storage and eventual burial in yet-to-be-built underground repositories in the South Australian desert. The report proposes that South Australia imports 138,000 tons of high level radioactive waste in the form of spent fuel rods as well as an additional 390,000 cubic metres of intermediate level waste for storage and eventual disposal.

This has all been spruiked as a fail-safe commercial venture that will relieve the South Australian Government of its financial problems ever after and create a rosy economic future for generations that have yet to be born. Such madness blithely ignores the fact that the genetic and biological futures of those generations may thereafter be a different story…….  ww.countercurrents.org/2016/07/22/poison-in-the-heart-the-nuclear-wasting-of-south-australia/

July 23, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, wastes | Leave a comment

South Australia’s financially risky nuclear waste import scheme

scrutiny-Royal-CommissionShunning nuclear power but not its waste: Assessing the risks of Australia becoming the world’s nuclear wasteland   http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629616301323 Mark Diesendorf 

Abstract

The South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission has undertaken ‘an independent and comprehensive investigation into the potential for increasing South Australia’s participation in the nuclear fuel cycle’. In its Final Report, issued 6 May 2016, it acknowledges that nuclear power would not be commercially viable in South Australia in the foreseeable future. However it recommends that ‘the South Australian Government establish used nuclear fuel and intermediate level waste storage and disposal facilities in South Australia’.

This is a business proposition to store a large fraction of global nuclear wastes, providing interim above-ground storage followed by permanent underground storage in South Australia.

The present critical evaluation of the scheme finds that the Royal Commission’s economic analysis is based on many unsubstantiated assumptions. Furthermore, the scheme is financially risky for both Australian taxpayers and customers and has a questionable ethical basis.

July 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, wastes | Leave a comment

Antarctic is being polluted by uranium mining in Australia

Climate scientists: Australian uranium mining pollutes Antarctic http://phys.org/news/2016-06-climate-uranium-orescientists-australian-
uranium-pollutes.html
 June 30, 2016 by Beth Staples  
Uranium mining in Australia is polluting the Antarctic, about 6,000 nautical miles away. University of Maine climate scientists made the discovery during the first high-resolution continuous examination of a northern Antarctic Peninsula .

Ice core data reveal a significant increase in  concentration that coincides with open pit mining in the Southern Hemisphere, most notably Australia, says lead researcher Mariusz Potocki, a doctoral candidate and research assistant with the Climate Change Institute.

“The Southern Hemisphere is impacted by human activities more than we thought,” says Potocki.

Understanding airborne distribution of uranium is important because exposure to the radioactive element can result in kidney toxicity, genetic mutations, mental development challenges and cancer.

Uranium concentrations in the ice core increased by as much as 102 between the 1980s and 2000s, accompanied by increased variability in recent years, says Potocki, a glaciochemist.

Until World War II, most of the uranium input to the atmosphere was from natural sources, says the research team.

But since 1945, increases in Southern Hemisphere uranium levels have been attributed to industrial sources, including uranium mining in Australia, South Africa and Namibia. Since other land-source dust elements don’t show similar large increases in the ice core, and since the increased uranium concentrations are enriched above levels in the Earth’s crust, the source of uranium is attributed to human activities rather atmospheric circulation changes.

In 2007, a Brazilian-Chilean-U.S. team retrieved the ice core from the Detroit Plateau on the northern Antarctic Peninsula, which is one of the most rapidly changing regions on Earth.

More information: Mariusz Potocki et al. Recent increase in Antarctic Peninsula ice core uranium concentrations, Atmospheric Environment (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.06.010  Journal reference:Atmospheric Environment  websiteProvided by: University of Maine

July 4, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, AUSTRALIA, environment | Leave a comment

Australian government’s efforts to bully Aborigines into a nuclear waste dump on their land?

text-relevantThe plan to turn South Australia into the world’s nuclear waste dump has been met with near-unanimous opposition from Aboriginal people.

The Royal Commission acknowledged strong Aboriginal opposition to its nuclear waste proposal in its final report – but it treats that opposition not as a red light but as an obstacle to be circumvented.

Radioactive waste and the nuclear war on Australia’s Aboriginal people,Ecologist Jim Green 1st July 2016
Australia’s nuclear industry has a shameful history of ‘radioactive racism’ that dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s, writes Jim Green. The same attitudes persist today with plans to dump over half a million tonnes of high and intermediate level nuclear waste on Aboriginal land, and open new uranium mines. But now Aboriginal peoples and traditional land owners are fighting back!

From 1998-2004, the Australian federal government tried – but failed – to impose a national nuclear waste dump on Aboriginal land in South Australia.

Then the government tried to impose a dump on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory, but that also failed.

Now the government has embarked on its third attempt and once again it is trying to impose a dump on Aboriginal land despite clear opposition from Traditional Owners. The latest proposal is for a dump in the spectacular Flinders Ranges, 400 km north of Adelaide in South Australia, on the land of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners.

The government says that no group will have a right of veto, which is coded racism: it means that the dump may go ahead despite the government’s acknowledgement that “almost all Indigenous community members surveyed are strongly opposed to the site continuing.”

The proposed dump site was nominated by former Liberal Party politician Grant Chapman but he has precious little connection to the land. Conversely, the land has been precious to Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners for millennia.

It was like somebody ripped my heart out’

The site is adjacent to the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). “The IPA is right on the fence – there’s a waterhole that is shared by both properties”said Yappala Station resident and Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Regina McKenzie.

The waterhole – a traditional women’s site and healing place – is one of many archeological and culturally significant sites in the area that Traditional Owners have registered with the South Australian government over the past six years. Two Adnyamathanha associations – Viliwarinha Aboriginal Corporation and the Anggumathanha Camp Law Mob – wrote in November 2015 statement:

“Adnyamathanha land in the Flinders Ranges has been short-listed for a national nuclear waste dump. The land was nominated by former Liberal Party Senator Grant Chapman. Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners weren’t consulted. Even Traditional Owners who live next to the proposed dump site at Yappala Station weren’t consulted. This is an insult.

“The whole area is Adnyamathanha land. It is Arngurla Yarta (spiritual land). The proposed dump site has springs. It also has ancient mound springs. It has countless thousands of Aboriginal artefects. Our ancestors are buried there.

“Hookina creek that runs along the nominated site is a significant women’s site. It is a registered heritage site and must be preserved and protected. We are responsible for this area, the land and animals.

“We don’t want a nuclear waste dump here on our country and worry that if the waste comes here it will harm our environment and muda (our lore, our creation, our everything). We call on the federal government to withdraw the nomination of the site and to show more respect in future.”

Regina McKenzie describes getting the news that the Flinders Ranges site had been chosen from a short-list of six sites across Australia: “We were devastated, it was like somebody had rang us up and told us somebody had passed away. My niece rang me crying … it was like somebody ripped my heart out.”

McKenzie said on ABC television: “Almost every waste dump is near an Aboriginal community. It’s like, yeah, they’re only a bunch of blacks, they’re only a bunch of Abos, so we’ll put it there. Don’t you think that’s a little bit confronting for us when it happens to us all the time? Can’t they just leave my people alone?”

Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Dr Jillian Marsh said in an April 2016 statement:

“The First Nations people of Australia have been bullied and pushed around, forcibly removed from their families and their country, denied access and the right to care for their own land for over 200 years. Our health and wellbeing compares with third world countries, our people crowd the jails. Nobody wants toxic waste in their back yard, this is true the world over. We stand in solidarity with people across this country and across the globe who want sustainable futures for communities, we will not be moved.”

The battle over the proposed dump site in the Flinders Ranges will probably be resolved over the next 12 months. If the government fails in its third attempt to impose a dump against the wishes of Aboriginal Traditional Owners, we can only assume on past form that a fourth attempt will ensue……

Now Aboriginal people in South Australia face the imposition of a national nuclear waste dump as well as a plan to import 138,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste and 390,000 cubic metres of intermediate level waste for storage and disposal as a commercial venture.

The plan is being driven by the South Australian government, which last year established a Royal Commission to provide a fig-leaf of independent supporting advice. The Royal Commissioner is a nuclear advocate and the majority of the members of the Expert Advisory Committee are strident nuclear advocates.

Indeed it seems as if the Royal Commissioner sought out the dopiest nuclear advocates he could find to put on the Expert Advisory Committee: one thinks nuclear power is safer than solar, another thinks that nuclear power doesn’t pose a weapons proliferation risk, and a third was insisting that there was no credible risk of a serious accident at Fukushima even as nuclear meltdown was in full swing.

Announcing the establishment of the Royal Commission in March 2015, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said“We have a specific mandate to consult with Aboriginal communities and there are great sensitivities here. I mean we’ve had the use and abuse of the lands of the Maralinga Tjarutja people by the British when they tested their atomic weapons.”

Yet the South Australian government’s handling of the Royal Commission process systematically disenfranchised Aboriginal people. The truncated timeline for providing feedback on draft Terms of Reference disadvantaged people in remote regions, people with little or no access to email and internet, and people for whom English is a second language. There was no translation of the draft Terms of Reference, and a regional communications and engagement strategy was not developed or implemented.

Aboriginal people repeatedly expressed frustration with the Royal Commission process. One example (of many) is the submission of the Anggumathanha Camp Law Mob (who are also fighting against the plan for a national nuclear waste dump on their land):

“Why we are not satisfied with the way this Royal Commission has been conducted:

Yaiinidlha Udnyu ngawarla wanggaanggu, wanhanga Yura Ngawarla wanggaanggu? – always in English, where’s the Yura Ngawarla (our first language)?

“The issues of engagement are many. To date we have found the process of engagement used by the Royal Commission to be very off putting as it’s been run in a real Udnyu (whitefella) way. Timelines are short, information is hard to access, there is no interpreter service available, and the meetings have been very poorly advertised. …

“A closed and secretive approach makes engagement difficult for the average person on the street, and near impossible for Aboriginal people to participate.”

The plan to turn South Australia into the world’s nuclear waste dump has been met with near-unanimous opposition from Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal Congress of South Australia, comprising people from many Aboriginal groups across the state, endorsed the following resolution at an August 2015 meeting:

“We, as native title representatives of lands and waters of South Australia, stand firmly in opposition to nuclear developments on our country, including all plans to expand uranium mining, and implement nuclear reactors and nuclear waste dumps on our land. … Many of us suffer to this day the devastating effects of the nuclear industry and continue to be subject to it through extensive uranium mining on our lands and country that has been contaminated.

“We view any further expansion of industry as an imposition on our country, our people, our environment, our culture and our history. We also view it as a blatant disregard for our rights under various legislative instruments, including the founding principles of this state.”

The Royal Commission acknowledged strong Aboriginal opposition to its nuclear waste proposal in its final report – but it treats that opposition not as a red light but as an obstacle to be circumvented.http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987853/radioactive_waste_and_the_nuclear_war_on_australias_aboriginal_people.html

 

July 4, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons risk could spread if laser uranium enrichment technology is adopted

Laser uranium enrichment technology may create new proliferation risks, Science Daily,  June 27, 2016

Source:
Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Summary:
A new laser-based uranium enrichment technology may provide a hard-to-detect pathway to nuclear weapons production, according to a forthcoming paper.
A new laser-based uranium enrichment technology may provide a hard-to-detect pathway to nuclear weapons production, according to a forthcoming paper in the journalScience & Global Security by Ryan Snyder, a physicist with Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.
One example of this new third-generation laser enrichment technique may be the separation of isotopes by laser excitation (SILEX) process which was originally developed in Australia and licensed in 2012 for commercial-scale deployment in the United States to the Global Laser Enrichment consortium led by General Electric-Hitachi. Research on the relevant laser systems is also currently ongoing in Russia, India and China.

The paper explains the basic physics of the new uranium separation concept, which relies on the selective laser excitation and condensation repression of uranium-235 in a gas. It also estimates the key laser performance requirements and possible operating parameters for a single enrichment unit and how a cascade of such units could be arranged into an enrichment plant able to produce weapon-grade highly enriched uranium.

Using plausible assumptions, the paper shows how a covert laser enrichment plant sized to make one bomb’s worth of weapon-grade material a year could use less space and energy than a similar scale plant based on almost all current centrifuge designs, the most efficient enrichment technology in use today. The results suggest a direct impact on detection methods that use size or energy use as plant footprints……..https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160627160941.htm

June 29, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, technology, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change: Australia covered up the truth on its damaged World Heritage sites

see-no-evilflag-AustraliaAustralia covered up UN climate change fears for Tasmania forests and Kakadu
Fears about damage to the Great Barrier Reef were removed from UN report along with concern about a threat to the environment in two other heritage sites,
Guardian, , 29 May 16, A draft UN report on climate change, which was scrubbed of all reference to Australia over fears it could deter visitors to the Great Barrier Reef, also outlined possible threats to the Tasmania wilderness and Kakadu.

barrier-reeefThe draft report contained a chapter on the Great Barrier Reef, which described climate change as “the biggest long-term threat to the [reef] today, and to its ecosystems services, biodiversity, heritage values and tourism economy”.

It concluded that “without a comprehensive response more in keeping with the scale of the threat, the [reef]’s extraordinary biodiversity and natural beauty may lose its world heritage values”.

But before it was scrubbed, the report had two other key sections on Australian world heritage sites, and the threats they face from climate change.

One of those sections was on the Tasmanian wilderness…….the censored section of the Unesco report on Tasmania is clear about the “dire” nature of the threat.

It said: “A 2013 assessment of climate threats identified the same habitats as at high risk from greater fire frequency and drier conditions, with likely catastrophic implications for fauna. These dire predictions appeared to be playing out in January 2016, when tens of thousands of hectares of forest burned, sparked by lightning strikes that came in a month when temperatures were 2C above average and in the wake of the driest two-year period ever recorded for the region.”

kakaduThe deleted section on Kakadu national park contained similarly dire warnings.

It described the important natural and cultural values of Kakadu, which has been inhabited by Aboriginal people for 50,000 years.

“The thousands of rock art sites in the park are at risk from damage by more extreme rainfall events, while sea level rise is happening at twice the global average along the northern Australian coast,” the draft report said.

It warned that fresh-water wetlands were at risk from sea level rise, as they are likely to be inundated with salt water. “Climate change threatens Aboriginal traditional use by altering the ecosystems of the vast wetlands of Kakadu and raising temperatures to a level likely to lead to more intense fire regimes,” the report said.

The final version of the report entitled “World heritage and tourism in a changing climate” was published last week by Unesco, United Nationsenvironment programme and the Union of Concerned Scientists, with all references to Australia removed.

The lead author of the report, Adam Markham, told Guardian Australia: “I was shocked when I read in the Guardian the reasons the Australian government gave for why they had pressured Unesco to drop the Australian sites.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/29/australia-covered-up-un-climate-change-fears-for-tasmania-forests-and-kakadu

 

May 30, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment