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Australia’s nuclear testing before the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne should be a red flag for Fukushima in 2020

Part time tutor in Medical Education, University of Dundee

The scheduling of Tokyo 2020 Olympic events at Fukushima is being seen as a public relations exercise to dampen fears over continuing radioactivity from the reactor explosion that followed the massive earthquake six years ago.

It brings to mind the British atomic bomb tests in Australia that continued until a month before the opening of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne – despite the known dangers of fallout travelling from the testing site at Maralinga to cities in the east. And it reminds us of the collusion between scientists and politicians – British and Australian – to cover up the flawed decision-making that led to continued testing until the eve of the Games.

Australia’s prime minister Robert Menzies agreed to atomic testing in December 1949. Ten months earlier, Melbourne had secured the 1956 Olympics even though the equestrian events would have to be held in Stockholm because of Australia’s strict horse quarantine regimes.

The equestrians were well out of it. Large areas of grazing land – and therefore the food supplies of major cities such as Melbourne – were covered with a light layer of radiation fallout from the six atomic bombs detonated by Britain during the six months prior to the November 1956 opening of the Games. Four of these were conducted in the eight weeks running up to the big event, 1,000 miles due west of Melbourne at Maralinga.

Bombs and games

In the 25 years I have been researching the British atomic tests in Australia, I have found only two mentions of the proximity of the Games to the atomic tests. Not even the Royal Commission into the tests in 1985 addressed the known hazards of radioactive fallout for the athletes and spectators or those who lived in the wide corridor of the radioactive plumes travelling east.

At the time, the approaching Olympics were referred to only once in the Melbourne press in relation to the atomic tests, in August 1956. It is known that D-notices from the government “requesting” editors to refrain from publishing information about certain defence and security matters were issued.

The official history of the tests by British nuclear historian Lorna Arnold, published by the UK government in 1987 and no longer in print, reports tests director William Penney signalling concern only once, in late September 1956:

Am studying arrangements firings but not easy. Have Olympic Games in mind but still believe weather will not continue bad.

This official history doesn’t comment on the implications. And nowhere in the 1985 Royal Commission report is there any reference to the opening of the Olympics, just one month and a day after the fourth test took place 1,000 miles away.

The 1984 report of the Expert Committee on the review of Data on Atmospheric Fallout Arising from British Nuclear Tests in Australia found that the methodology used to estimate the numbers of people who might have been harmed by this fallout at fewer than 10 was inappropriate. And it concluded that if the dose calculations were confined to the communities in the path of the fallout and not merged with the total Australian population “such an exercise would generate results several orders of magnitude higher than those based on conventional philosophy”. There was no mention of the Olympic Games.

Neither Prime Minister Menzies nor his cabinet ever referred publicly to what had been known from the outset – that the British atomic tests in Australia would almost coincide with the Melbourne Olympics. The tests and the Games were planned simultaneously through the first half of the 1950s.

In May 1955, 18 months before the Olympics were due to start, Howard Beale, the Australian minister for supply, announced the building of “the Los Alamos of the British Commonwealth” (a nuclear test site in New Mexico) at Maralinga, promising that “tests would only take place in meteorological conditions which would carry radioactive clouds harmlessly away into the desert”.

An Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee was formed by the Australians but was closely controlled by physicist Professor Ernest Titterton, the only Englishman on the panel. The 1985 Royal Commission stated explicitly that the AWTSC was complicit in the firing of atomic detonations in weather conditions that they knew could carry radioactive fallout a thousand miles from Maralinga to eastern cities such as Melbourne.

Hazards of radioactivity

Professor Titterton, who had recently been appointed to a chair in nuclear physics at the Australian National University after working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, and at Aldermaston in England, explained why the atomic devices were being tested in Australia:

Because of the hazards from the radioactivity which follows atomic weapons explosions, the tests are best carried out in isolated regions – usually a desert area … Most of the radioactivity produced in the explosion is carried up in the mushroom cloud and drifts downward under atmospheric airstreams. But particular material in this cloud slowly settles to the ground and may render an area dangerously radioactive out to distances ranging between 50 and several hundred miles … It would therefore be hazardous to explode even the smallest weapons in the UK, and it was natural for the mother country to seek test sites elsewhere in the Commonwealth.

The AWTSC published two scientific papers in 1957 and 1958 which flat out denied that any dangerous levels of radioactivity reached the eastern states. But their measurements relied on a very sparse scattering of sticky paper monitors – rolls of gummed film set out to catch particles of fallout – even though these could be washed off by rain.

Despite their clear denials in these papers, meteorological records show that prior to the Games there was rain in Melbourne which could have deposited radioactivity on the ground.

The AWTSC papers included maps purporting to show the plumes of radioactive fallout travelling north and west from Maralinga in the South Australian desert. The Royal Commission published expanded maps (see page 292) based on the AWTSC’s own data and found the fallout pattern to be much wider and more complex. The Australian scientist Hedley Marston’s study of radioactivity uptake in animals showed a far more significant covering of fallout on a wide swathe of Australian grazing land than indicated by the sticky paper samples of the AWTSC.

The 1985 Royal Commission report into British Nuclear Tests in Australia discussed many of these issues, but never in relation to the proximity and timing of the 1956 Olympic Games. Sixty years later, are we seeing the same denial of known hazards six years after the reactor explosion at Fukushima?

 

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July 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Cancer patients in Queensland, Australia, benefit from nuclear medicine, safely produced at the hospital, with no need of a nuclear reactor

Cancer care in Queensland relies on nuclear medicine made in this concrete bunker http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-03/nuclear-medicine-concrete-bunker-central-to-states-cancer-care/9920624  ABC Radio Brisbane By Hailey Renault

Staff at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital’s nuclear medicine department get to work in the morning around the same time as a baker starts serving up hot bread.

But instead of kneading dough and priming ovens, the labcoat-clad workers manufacture medicines that diagnose and treat cancer.

It’s a delicate operation with rigorous quality control and testing protocols that start deep in the bowels of the hospital behind several layers of thick concrete.

A vault with walls more than a metre thick houses a particle accelerator called a cyclotron.

“It creates a proton beam which bombards oxygen-18 water and turns it into fluorine-18. That’s what we attach to those pharmaceuticals,” Dr Marissa Bartlett, manager of the Radiopharmaceutical Centre of Excellence, said.

The cyclotron is switched on at 4:00am every day to make a new batch of radiopharmaceuticals for lifesaving treatments and therapies.

“We make products that are taken up by cancer cells, so when a patient goes under the [PET] scanner the doctors can see pictures and images of where the cancer cells are,” Dr Bartlett told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Katherine Feeney.

“One of the therapies some patients who have cancer can have is a radionuclide therapy, which goes to the cancer cells and uses radiation to kill those cells.”

There’s no hazmat suits in sight — they’re not needed in a lab largely devoid of dangerous chemicals — but Dr Bartlett said lab workers were protected from radiation by a series of lead, lead-glass and concrete shields.

“When the cyclotron is on it generates very large amounts of radiation so it would be extremely dangerous to be anywhere near it when it’s on,” she said.

“In order to have it on campus we have it inside a concrete room. The walls of that room are thicker than I am tall.”

Medicines go direct to patients

Even though Dr Bartlett described the nuclear medicine department as an “obscure little branch” of hospital operations, many Queenslanders would come into contact with the radiopharmaceuticals it produced.

The Cancer Council of Queensland estimates nearly 27,000 people receive a cancer diagnosis each year.

“One of the things that makes this an amazing place to work is that you literally walk past the patients to get to the lab,” Dr Bartlett said.

“They might get news they really don’t want or maybe they’re coming back to see how their cancer is progressing or responding to treatment.

“We’re very aware of the patients who are lining up every day to get the products we make.”

And what happens to any radioactive materials that aren’t used?

“Everything we make has a very short half-life, so we basically store it until it decays away,” Dr Bartlett said.

“Then it’s completely cold and you wouldn’t know that it had been radioactive.”

July 6, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, health, technology | Leave a comment

Climate change brings collapse of ecosystems in Australia

The Conversation 4 July 18 Rebecca Harris, Climate Research Fellow, University of Tasmania, David Bowman , Professor, Environmental Change Biology, University of Tasmania, Linda Beaumont, Senior Lecturer, Macquarie University, 

To the chagrin of the tourist industry, the Great Barrier Reef has become a notorious victim of climate change. But it is not the only Australian ecosystem on the brink of collapse.

Our research, recently published in Nature Climate Change, describes a series of sudden and catastrophic ecosystem shifts that have occurred recently across Australia.

These changes, caused by the combined stress of gradual climate change and extreme weather events, are overwhelming ecosystems’ natural resilience.

Variable climate

Australia is one of the most climatically variable places in the world. It is filled with ecosystems adapted to this variability, whether that means living in scorching heat, bitter cold or a climate that cycles between the two.

Despite land clearing, mining and other activities that transform the natural landscape, Australia retains large tracts of near-pristine natural systems.

Many of these regions are iconic, sustaining tourism and outdoor activities and providing valuable ecological services – particularly fisheries and water resources. Yet even here, the combined stress of gradual climate change and extreme weather events is causing environmental changes. These changes are often abrupt and potentially irreversible.

They include wildlife and plant population collapses, the local extinction of native species, the loss of ancient, highly diverse ecosystems and the creation of previously unseen ecological communities invaded by new plants and animals.

Australia’s average temperature (both air and sea) has increased by about 1°C since the start of the 19th century. We are now experiencing longer, more frequent and more intense heatwaves, more extreme fire weather and longer fire seasons, changes to rainfall seasonality, and droughts that may be historically unusual.

The interval between these events has also shortened, which means even ecosystems adapted to extremes and high natural variability are struggling.

As climate change accelerates, the magnitude and frequency of extreme events is expected to continue increasing.

What is ecosystem collapse?

Gradual climate change can be thought of as an ongoing “press”, on which the “pulse” of extreme events are now superimposed. In combination, “presses” and “pulses” are more likely to push systems to collapse.

We identified ecosystems across Australia that have recently experienced catastrophic changes, including:

not all examples can be directly linked to a single weather event, or a series of events. These are most likely caused by multiple interactingclimate “presses” and “pulses”. It’s worth remembering that extreme biological responses do not always manifest as an impact on the dominant species. Cascading interactions can trigger ecosystem-wide responses to extreme events.

The cost of intervention

Once an ecosystem goes into steep decline – with key species dying out and crucial interactions no longer possible – there are important consequences.

Apart from their intrinsic worth, these areas can no longer supply fish, forest resources, or carbon storage. It may affect livestock and pasture quality, tourism, and water quality and supply.

Unfortunately, the sheer number of variables – between the species and terrain in each area, and the timing and severity of extreme weather events – makes predicting ecosystem collapses essentially impossible.

Targeted interventions, like the assisted recolonisation of plants and animals, reseeding an area that’s suffered forest loss, and actively protecting vulnerable ecosystems from destructive bushfires, may prevent a system from collapsing, but at considerable financial cost. And as the interval between extreme events shorten, the chance of a successful intervention falls.

Critically, intervention plans may need to be decided upon quickly, without full understanding of the ecological and evolutionary consequences.

How much are we willing to risk failure and any unintended consequences of active intervention? How much do we value “natural” and “pristine” ecosystems that will increasingly depend on protection from threats like invasive plants and more frequent fires?

We suspect the pervasive effects of the press and pulse of climate change means that, increasingly, the risks of doing nothing may outweigh the risks of acting.

The beginning of this century has seen an unprecedented number of widespread, catastrophic biological transformations in response to extreme weather events.

This constellation of unpredictable and sudden biological responses suggests that many seemingly healthy and undisturbed ecosystems are at a tipping point https://theconversation.com/ecosystems-across-australia-are-collapsing-

July 6, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Australian uranium company Paladin Energy has left such a mess in Namibia and Malawi

Who cleans up the mess when an Australian uranium mining company leaves Africa?Jim Green, 18 June 2018, The Ecologist   www.theecologist.org/2018/jun/18/who-cleans-mess-when-australian-uranium-mining-company-leaves-africa

Australian mining companies have a poor track record operating in Africa. Australian uranium company Paladin Energy has now put two of its mines into ‘care-and-maintenance’ and bankruptcy looms. But who cleans up the company’s mess in Namibia and Malawi, asks JIM GREEN

Many Australian mining projects in Africa are outposts of good governance – this is what Julie Bishop, the country’s Foreign Minister, told the Africa Down Under mining conference in Western Australia in September 2017. The Australian government “encourages the people of Africa to see us as an open-cut mine for lessons-learned, for skills, for innovation and, I would like to think, inspiration,” the minister said.

But such claims sit uneasily with the highly critical findings arising from a detailed investigation by the International Consortium of Independent Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ noted in a 2015 report that since 2004, more than 380 people have died in mining accidents or in off-site skirmishes connected to Australian mining companies in Africa.

The ICIJ report further stated: “Multiple Australian mining companies are accused of negligence, unfair dismissal, violence and environmental law-breaking across Africa, according to legal filings and community petitions gathered from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana.”

Paladin Energy’s Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi provides a case study of the problems with Australian mining companies in Africa. Western Australia-based Paladin exploited Malawi’s poverty to secure numerous reductions and exemptions from payments normally required by foreign investors.

United Nations’ Special Rapporteur Olivier De Schutter noted in a 2013 report that “revenue losses from special incentives given to Australian mining company Paladin Energy, which manages the Kayelekera uranium mine, are estimated to amount to at least US$205 million (MWK 67 billion) and could be up to US$281 million (MWK 92 billion) over the 13-year lifespan of the mine.”

Paladin’s environmental and social record has also been the source of ongoing controversy and the subject of numerous critical reports

Standards at Kayelekera fall a long way short of Australian standards ‒ and efforts to force Australian mining companies to meet Australian standards when operating abroad have been strongly resisted. The Kayelekera project would not be approved in Australia due to major flaws in the assessment and design proposals, independent consultants concluded.

Care-and-maintenance

Kayelekera was put into care-and-maintenance in May 2014, another victim of the uranium industry’s post-Fukushima meltdown. And just last month, Paladin announced that its only other operating mine ‒ the Langer Heinrich mine (LHM) in Namibia ‒ will be put into care-and-maintenance.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the decision to mothball LHM is that Paladin claims it is the lowest cost open-pit uranium mine in the world. Moreover, the company wasn’t even paying to mine ore ‒ mining ceased in November 2016 and since then ore stockpiles have been processed. Thus a low-cost mine can’t even turn a profit processing mined stockpiles.

The cost of production was US$23.11 / lb uranium oxide in December 2017, and the average realised sale price in the second half of 2017 was $21.82.

Anticipating the decision to mothball LHM, Paladin Energy CEO Alex Molyneux said in late-April: “The uranium market has failed to recover since the Fukushima incident in 2011, with the average spot price so far in 2018 the lowest in 15 years. It’s deeply distressing to have to consider suspending operations at LHM because of the consequences for our employees, and the broader community. However, as there has yet to be a sustainable recovery in the uranium market, and with the aim of preserving maximum long-term value for all stakeholders, it is clearly prudent to consider these difficult actions.”

Paladin hopes to resume mining at LHM and Kayelekera following “normalization” of the uranium market, which it anticipates in the next few years. But with no operating mines, Paladin may not survive for long enough to witness a market upswing.

Paladin was placed into the hands of administrators in July 2017 as it was unable to pay French utility EDF a US$277 million debt.

In January 2018, Paladin’s administrator KPMG noted that an Independent Expert’s Report found that the company’s net debt materially exceeds the value of its assets, its shares have nil value, and if Paladin was placed into liquidation there would be no return to shareholders.

The company was restructured, with Deutsche Bank now the largest shareholder, and relisted on the Australian Securities Exchange in February 2018.

Perhaps LHM will be sold for a song, either before or after Paladin goes bankrupt. A subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has held a 25 percent stake in LHM since January 2014. Last year, the CNNC subsidiary considered exercising its contractual right to buy Paladin’s 75 percent stake in LHM, but chose not to exercise that right following an independent valuation of US$162 million for Paladin’s stake.

Mine-site rehabilitation 

Paladin hopes to resume mining following “normalization” of the uranium market ‒ but low prices could be the new normal. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd said in May 2014 that the industry is set for “a long period of relatively low prices”. Prices were far higher in 2014 than over the past twelve months. Paladin’s CEO Alexander Molyneux said that “it has never been a worse time for uranium miners” in 2016 and the situation has worsened since then for the industry ‒ prices have fallen further still.

Sooner or later ‒ probably sooner ‒ both the LHM and Kayelekera mine-sites will need to be rehabilitated. Yet it is extremely doubtful whether Paladin has set aside adequate funds for rehabilitation. Paladin’s 2017 Annual Report lists a ‘rehabilitation provision‘ of US$86.93 million to cover both LHM and Kayelekera.

One problem is that the funds might not be available for rehabilitation if Paladin goes bankrupt. A second problem is that even if the funds are available, they are unlikely to be sufficient.

For comparison, Energy Resources of Australia’s provision for rehabilitation of the Ranger uranium mine in Australia ‒ also an open-pit uranium mine, like LHM and Kayelekera ‒ is US$403 million (A$526 million). That figure is additional to US$346 million (A$452 million) already spent on water and rehabilitation activities since 2012 ‒ thus total rehabilitation costs could amount to US$749 million (A$978 million) … and the current cost estimates could easily increase as they have in the past.

Rehabilitation of LHM and Kayelekera could be cheaper than rehabilitation of Ranger for several reasons, such as the relative size of the mine-sites. However it stretches credulity to believe that the cost of rehabilitating both LHM and Kayelekera would be an order of magnitude lower than the cost of rehabilitating one mine in Australia.

Paladin was required to lodge a US$10 million Environmental Performance Bond with Malawian banks and presumably that money can be tapped to rehabilitate Kayelekera. But US$10 million won’t scratch the surface. According to a Malawian NGO, the Kayelekera rehabilitation cost is estimated at US$100 million.

Paladin has ignored repeated requests to provide information on the estimated cost of rehabilitating Kayelekera (and also ignored an invitation to comment on a draft of this article), but the figure will be multiples of the US$10 million bond and it is extremely unlikely that Paladin’s provision of US$86.93 million for the rehabilitation of both LHM and Kayelekera is adequate.

If Paladin goes bankrupt, it seems likely that most of the costs associated with the rehabilitation of LHM and Kayelekera will be borne by the Namibian and Malawian governments (with a small fraction of the cost for Kayelekera coming from the bond) ‒ or the mine-sites will not be rehabilitated at all.

Even if Paladin is able to honour its US$86.93 million provision, additional costs necessary for rehabilitation will likely come from the Malawian and Namibian governments, or rehabilitation will be sub-standard.

Problems most acute for Kayelekera

The problem of inadequate provisioning for rehabilitation is most acute for Kayelekera ‒ it is a smaller deposit than LHM and more expensive to mine (Paladin has said that a uranium price of about US$75 per pound would be required for Kayelekera to become economically viable ‒well over twice the current long-term contract price). Thus the prospects for a restart of Kayelekera (and the accumulation of funds for rehabilitation) are especially grim.

Is it reasonable for Australia, a relatively wealthy country, to leave it to the overstretched, under-resourced government of an impoverished nation to clean up the mess left behind by an Australian mining company? Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to a 2013 UN report, more than half of the population live below the poverty line.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop should intervene to sort out the situation at Kayelekera and to prevent a repetition of this looming fiasco. The conservative Minister’s eyes might glaze over in response to a moral argument about the importance of Australia being a good global citizen. But there is also a hard-headed commercial argument for intervention to ensure that the Kayelekera mine-site is rehabilitated.

It does Australian companies investing in mining ventures abroad no good whatsoever to leave Kayelekera unrehabilitated, a permanent reminder of the untrustworthiness and unfulfilled promises of an Australian miner and the indifference of the Australian government.

Australia is set to become the biggest international miner on the African continent according to the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group. But Australian companies can’t expect to be welcomed if problems such as Kayelekera remain unresolved.

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter, where a version of this article was originally published. He is co-author of a new report titled ‘Undermining Africa: Paladin Energy’s Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Malawi’.

June 20, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Malawi, Namibia, Uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

After years of ignoring Julian Assange’s plight, at last the Australian govt might help him

Australian officials spotted in mysterious Assange visit https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/australian-officials-spotted-in-mysterious-assange-visit-20180608-p4zk7w.html, 8 June 18 

London: Australian government officials have paid a mysterious visit to Julian Assange in his Ecuadorian embassy refuge in London, in a sign there may be a breakthrough in the stalemate that has lasted almost six years.

Two officials from Australia’s High Commission were spotted leaving the embassy in Knightsbridge in west London on Thursday.

It is the first time Australian consular officials have visited Assange at the embassy.

They were accompanied by Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson.

Robinson confirmed the meeting to Fairfax but said she could not say what the meeting was about “given the delicate diplomatic situation”.  “Julian Assange is in a very serious situation” she said. “He remains in the embassy because of the risk of extradition to the US. That risk is undeniable after numerous statements by Trump administration officials including the director of the CIA and the US attorney-general.”

Assange entered the embassy on June 19, 2012, after he had exhausted his appeals against an extradition order to go to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations.

Swedish authorities have since closed their investigation, saying it couldn’t continue without Assange’s presence in their country.

However Assange still faces arrest if he steps out of the Ecuadorian embassy for breach of his bail conditions, after failing in a legal bid earlier this year to have the warrant cancelled by an English court.

His condition has recently become much worse, with his hosts repeatedly suggesting in public comments that they want the situation resolved and him out of the building. The court proceedings also revealed his worsening health, including serious tooth problems, respiratory infections, depression and a frozen shoulder.

His internet and phone connections were cut off by the Ecuadorian government six weeks ago and he was denied any visitors apart from lawyers, after Ecuador complained he had breached “a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages [on social media] that might interfere with other states”.

A spokeswoman from the High Commission said she would have to refer any questions about the meeting to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra confirmed it is providing consular assistance to Assange through the Australian High Commission in London.

Citing privacy obligations, however, DFAT refused to offer further comment.

Assange has complained for years that the Australian government has not offered him consular assistance, despite his being an Australian citizen.

In May last year Assange’s mother Christine Assange called on the Australian Government to give her son a new passport so that he can leave Britain.

“His passport’s been confiscated, the Australian Government should immediately issue him another one and demand safe passage for him to take up legal asylum in Ecuador,” she told the ABC.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Troubled Australian uranium company Paladin mothballs Langer Heinrich uranium mine, in Namibia

Paladin mothballs Namibia uranium mine   Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly 25TH MAY 2018  BY: ESMARIE SWANEPOEL  CREAMER MEDIA SENIOR DEPUTY EDITOR: AUSTRALASIA   PERTH (miningweekly.com) 27 May 18 – Dual-listed  Paladin Energy on Friday confirmed that its Langer Heinrich uranium mine, in Namibia, was being placed under care and maintenance, but said that the low-cost openpit operation would be one of the first to resume production when the uranium market normalised.

Paladin in April said that it was unlikely to resume physical mining activities at the mine despite the medium-grade ore stockpile currently feeding the processing plant set to be exhausted before mid-2019.

The ASX and TSX-listed company on Friday said that it had received consent from all the relevant stakeholders to place the operation under care and maintenance, and had now stopped presenting ore to the plant.

There would be a run-down phase of up to three months where various stages of the plant would be progressively suspended and cleaned, and during this time, there would be some continued production of finished uranium.

Paladin noted that once the run-down phase was complete, operations would have been completely suspended and Langer Heinrich would be under care and maintenance. ……http://www.miningweekly.com/article/paladin-mothballs-namibia-uranium-mine-2018-05-25

 

May 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, Namibia, Uranium | Leave a comment

South Australia’s Aboriginal people fight against nuclear waste dumping – again and again

EXTRACT from:  A journey to the heart of the anti-nuclear resistance in Australia: Radioactive Exposure Tour 2018, NUCLEAR  MONITOR  Author: Ray Acheson ‒  NM859.4719, May 2018 “……The federal government of Australia wants to build a facility to store and dispose of radioactive waste in South Australia, either at Wallerberdina Station near Hawker or on farming land in Kimba.

Wallerberdina Station is located in the Flinders Ranges, the largest mountain range in South Australia, 540 million years old. Approaching from the north on our drive down from Lake Eyre can only be described as breathtaking. The red dirt, the brown and green bush, and the ever-changing purples, blues, and reds of the mountains themselves are some of the most complex and stunning scenes one can likely see in the world.

Most people might find it shocking that the federal government would want to put a nuclear waste dump smack in the middle of this landscape. But after visiting other sites on the Rad Tour, it was only yet another disappointment ‒ and another point of resistance.

What is known is that the Wallerberdina site is of great cultural, historical, and spiritual significance to the Adnyamathanha people.  It borders the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area, which is a crucial location for biodiversity in the Flinders Ranges. Its unique ecosystem provides a refuge for many native species of flora and fauna, contains many archaeological sites as well as the first registered  Aboriginal Songline of its type in Australia, and is home to Pungka Pudanha, a natural spring and sacred woman’s site.

In case that isn’t enough, the area is a known floodplain. Our travels around the proposed site contained ample evidence of previous floods that sent massive trees rushing down the plain, smashing into each other and into various bridges and other built objects. The last big flood occurred in 2006.

The Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners were not consulted before their land was nominated for consideration by the government for the waste dump. “Through this area are registered cultural heritage sites and places of huge importance to our family, our history and our future,” wrote Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners in a 2015 statement.  “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 met Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners Vivianne and Regina McKenzie, and Tony Clark, at the proposed site. They invited us into the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area to view the floodplains and swim in the beautiful Pungka Pudanha. We’d just been camping at Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges National Park only a few kilometres away. It is impossible to understand the government’s rationale for wanting to build a toxic waste dump on this land so cherished by its Traditional Owners, local communities, and tourists alike.

The McKenzies have been working tirelessly to prevent the proposed dump from being established, as have other local activists. Fortunately, they have some serious recent successes to inspire them. In 2015, the federal government announced a plan to import 138,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste from around the world to South Australia as a commercial enterprise. But Traditional Owners began protesting immediately, arguing that the so-called consultations were not accessible and that misinformation was rife.  In 2016, a Citizen’s Jury, established by then Premier Jay Weatherill and made up of 350 people, deliberated over evidence and information. In November that year, two-thirds of the Jury rejected “under any circumstances” the plan to import or store high-level waste.24 They cited lack of Aboriginal consent, unsubstantiated economic assumptions and projections, and lack of confidence in the governmental proposal’s validity.

Other battles against proposed nuclear waste dumps have been fought and won in South Australia. From 1998 to 2004, the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern South Australia, successfully campaigned against a proposed national nuclear waste dump near Woomera. In an open letter in 2004, the Kungkas wrote: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”

Connected communities

The attempts by the Australian government and the nuclear industry to impose a waste dump in the Flinders Ranges, just like their attempts to impose waste dumps and uranium mines elsewhere in the country, or their refusal to compensate victims and survivors of nuclear testing, are all mired with racism. They are rooted in a fundamental dismissal and devaluation of the lives and experiences of indigenous Australians, and of proximity to cities but more importantly, to power.The industry and government’s motivations for imposing nuclear violence on these people and this land are militarism and capitalism.

Profit over people. Weapons over wellbeing. Their capacity for compassion and duty of care has been constrained by chronic short-termism ‒ a total failure to protect future generations. The poison they pull out of the earth, process, sell, allow others to make bombs with, and bury back in the earth, wounds us all now and into the future.

But nuclear weapons are now prohibited under international law. New actors are challenging the possession of nuclear weapons in new ways, and nucleararmed states are facing a challenge like never before.

The nuclear energy industry ‒ and thus the demand for uranium ‒ is declining. Power plants are being shuttered; corporations are facing financial troubles. Dirty and dangerous, the nuclear industry is dying.

This is in no small part due to the relentless resistance against it. This resistance was fierce throughout all of the country we visited, from Woomera up to Lake Eyre, from Roxby Downs to the Flinders Ranges. We listened to stories of those living on this land, we heard their histories, witnessed their actions, and supported their plans…..

https://antinuclear.net/2018/05/12/a-journey-to-the-heart-of-the-anti-nuclear-resistance-in-australia-radioactive-exposure-tour-2018/#more-60401

May 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, wastes | Leave a comment

A journey to the heart of the anti-nuclear resistance in Australia: Radioactive Exposure Tour 2018

NUCLEAR  MONITOR  – A PUBLICATION OF WORLD INFORMATION SERVICE ON ENERGY (WISE)   AND THE NUCLEAR INFORMATION & RESOURCE SERVICE (NIRS  Author: Ray Acheson ‒ Director, Reaching Critical Will, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom)   NM859.4719, May 2018 

Looking at a map of South Australia’s nuclear landscape, the land is scarred. Uranium mines and weapon test sites, coupled with indications of where the government is currently proposing to site nuclear waste dumps, leave their marks across the desert. But amidst the devastation these poisonous activities have left on the land and its people, there is fierce resistance and boundless hope.

Friends of the Earth Australia has been running Radioactive Exposure Tours for the past thirty years.Designed to bring people from around Australia to meet local activists at various nuclear sites, the Rad Tour provides a unique opportunity to learn about the land, the people, and the nuclear industry in the most up-front and personal way.

This year’s tour featured visits to uranium mines, bomb test legacy sites, and proposed radioactive waste dumps on Arabunna, Adnyamathanha, and Kokatha land in South Australia, and introduced urban-based activists to those directly confronting the nuclear industry out in country. It brought together about 30 people including campaigners from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and Reaching Critical Will, environmental activists with Friends of the Earth Australia and other organisations, and interested students and others looking to learn about the land, the people, and the industries operating out in the desert.

The journey of ten days takes us to many places and introduces us to many people, but can be loosely grouped into three tragic themes: bombing, mining, and dumping.  Each of these aspects of the nuclear chain is stained with racism, militarism, and capitalism. Each represents a piece of a dirty, dangerous, but ultimately dying nuclear industry. And each has been and continues to be met with fierce resistance from local communities, including Traditional Owners of the land.

Testing the bomb   The first two days of the trip are spent driving from  Melbourne to Adelaide to Port Augusta. We pick up activists along the way, before finally heading out to the desert. Our first big stop on the Tour is a confrontation  with the atomic bomb. Continue reading

May 12, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

USA, Australia, want to keep fossil fuel lobbyists in climate talks – developing nations want them OUT

US, Australia fight push to bar fossil fuel interests from climate talks https://reneweconomy.com.au/us-australia-fight-push-bar-fossil-fuel-interests-climate-talks-14266/ By Natasha Geiling on 11 May 2018  ThinkProgress  

For nine days, representatives from governments across the globe have been meeting in Bonn, Germany, to hammer out details of the Paris climate agreement.

But participating at the talks alongside diplomatic representatives and environmental groups are some perhaps unexpected parties — like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has long opposed climate regulations and is a vocal proponent of fossil fuels.

A coalition of developing nations in Africa and Latin America had hoped to draw attention to the influence that the fossil fuel industry maintains over the climate negotiation process with a formal acknowledgement of conflicts of interest at the conclusion of the talks in Bonn this week.

But developed nations — led largely by the United States — succeeded in preventing such a formal acknowledgement from being included in the meeting’s final notes.

Conflicts of interest within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) — the international treaty that dictates the UN’s annual climate conferences — aren’t a new phenomenon.

In 2015, companies like Engie — a utility company that gets more than 70 percent of its energy output from fossil fuels — were financial sponsors of the Paris climate talks.

But this year, developing nations — alongside environmental groups — have been working to make eliminating conflicts of interest a central part of the climate negotiations moving forward, much to the chagrin of countries like the United States and Australia.

“Every institution, especially of this scale, has some kind of policy to identify and mitigate internal conflict of interests,” Jesse Brag, media director for Corporate Accountability, which has been campaigning to make conflicts of interest within the United Nations climate negotiations a central issue since 2015, told ThinkProgress.

“Right now, there is no acknowledgement [within the UNFCCC] that there could be problems that arise from the financial interests of businesses and NGOs operating here.”

There are a few ways in which fossil fuel companies — or industry groups that represent fossil fuel companies — have already influenced UN climate negotiations.

At the Paris climate negotiations in 2015, for instance, fossil fuel companies that sponsored the talks were given access to “communications and networking” areas in rooms where negotiations were taking place.

The text of the Paris climate agreement, which calls for limiting global warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius” (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) doesn’t mention the term “fossil fuels” once, despite the fact that burning fossil fuels is the primary action driving climate change.

And the UNFCCC’s Climate Technology Network, which promotes the adoption of low carbon technology in developing countries, includes a member of the World Coal Association.

Developing nations, alongside NGOs like Corporate Accountability, had hoped to get parties on the record this year acknowledging that conflicts of interest exist within the climate negotiations.

They had also hoped that such acknowledgement would be followed by policy suggestions aimed at helping root out conflicts of interest within the process.

That effort was largely waylaid due to intense opposition from the United States, which refused to allow any mention of conflicts of interest or fossil fuel companies into the meeting’s official notes.

But a coalition of governments representing 70 percent of the world’s population — largely from developing countries in Latin America and Africa — did succeed in getting parties to agree to keep talking about the issue at climate negotiations next year.

That might seem like a small victory, but Bragg argues it’s an important signal that the culture of the talks — as well as general recognition of the issue of conflicts of interest within the negotiations — is starting to change.

“Three years ago, no one wanted to talk about the fossil fuel industry’s role in climate denial in these talks,” Bragg said. “Now, it’s a discussion that is happening in every area of these halls. As the process advances, so does the culture around what needs to be done.”

It is unsurprising that the United States — which is still a party to the UNFCCC even as President Trump has promised to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement — would oppose efforts to draw attention to conflicts of interest between environmental treaties and fossil fuel companies.

Under the Trump administration, several high-profile environmental regulator posts have been filled by people who previously represented the industries that they now oversee.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, for instance, came to the EPA after working as a lobbyist for Murray Energy, the largest privately-owned coal firm in the United States.

Nancy Beck, who is currently the highest-ranking political appointee at overseeing regulation of the chemical industry at the EPA, used to work for the American Chemical Council , the chemical industry’s main lobbying organization.

And over at the Department of the Interior, Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt came to the agency after working for years as a lobbyist in the natural resources department of the firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

 

May 11, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear-free movement revs up against a nuclear waste dump being imposed on iconic and beautiful Flinders Ranges

The ballot will be held less than a week after findings of a Senate Inquiry into the site-selection process are to be released, on August 14. ……       a nuclear waste facility would not be imposed on an unwilling community and it would need “broad community support” 

Anti-nuclear protesters increase fight against radioactive dump being established in SA
The Advertiser Erin Jones, Regional Reporter, Sunday Mail (SA) May 5, 2018
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/antinuclear-protesters-increase-fight-against-radioactive-dump-being-established-in-sa/news-story/55f7c369b17f03c747c1de824428b4df

ANTI-NUCLEAR campaigners will increase their fight to stop South Australia from becoming the nation’s radioactive waste ground, ahead of a final vote by the community.

Hundreds of postcards will be sent to Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan demanding cultural heritage sites, agricultural land and the environment be protected from nuclear waste.

The Federal Government is expected to decide in the coming months whether to build a low-level and intermediate-level waste facility at Kimba or Barndioota, in the Flinders Ranges.

The two-year site selection process has divided both communities, those in favour believed it would create economic opportunities, while those opposed said it would jeopardise industries.

Conservation SA nuclear waste campaigner Mara Bonacci said the government needed to be more transparent about the facility ahead of an August 20 community ballot.

“There is division in both communities, whether it’s people who are pro-nuclear waste or anti-nuclear, they both want what’s best for the community,” Ms Bonacci said.

But the pro-waste people are saying it will create lots of jobs, but we haven’t got any clarity around the numbers or if they’re full-time.

“We also want to know what number the Minister wants in a community vote to show ‘broad community support’ for the facility.”

Before the government decides on the successful site, residents from both communities will be given a final chance to accept or reject the proposal.

The ballot will be held less than a week after findings of a Senate Inquiry into the site-selection process are to be released, on August 14.

Mr Canavan told the Sunday Mail the government would provide more detailed information on the project’s design, job creation, cost, community benefits and safety, ahead of the ballot.

He said a nuclear waste facility would not be imposed on an unwilling community and it would need “broad community support” – although no arbitrary figure was provided.

“As we have always said, a range of factors will be used to determine broad community support, including the results of a public ballot, public and private submissions, and feedback from stakeholders during community discussions, including neighbours, councils and local groups,” Mr Canavan said. “The consultation process is engaging people on all sides of the discussion, and all views – supportive, neutral and opposed – are taken into account.”

The ballot will include residents of the Flinders Ranges Council and within a 50km radius of the Barnidoota site, and the Kimba District Council.

May 7, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, opposition to nuclear, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear bomb test site – touted as tourist site, but it’s still radioactive

‘Yes, there is still radiation here’, Gulf News 4 May 18 , Australia’s least likely tourist spot: a test site for atom bombs  “……..

“Yes, there is still radiation here,” Robin Matthews (  Australia’s only nuclear tour guide) said as he drove a minibus to the sites where the Australian and British governments dropped seven bombs between 1956 and 1963, which dotted the earth with huge craters and poisoned scores of indigenous people and their descendants.

Back then, the government placed hundreds of human guinea pigs — wearing only shorts and long socks — in the front areas of the test zones. The effects of large doses of radiation were devastating…….

Today, just four people live full time in Maralinga village, a veritable ghost town. Amid the old buildings are new lodgings built for tourists, complete with hot water and Wi-Fi.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, at the height of the Cold War, 35,000 military personnel lived here.

The first nuclear test was conducted in September 1956, two months before the Melbourne Olympics.

That blast — as powerful as the bomb that the US dropped on Hiroshima — was the first of seven atom bombs set off here.  But it was the so-called minor tests that were the most harrowing. Carried out in secret, the tests examined how toxic substances, including uranium and plutonium 239, would react when burnt or blown up.

….. Around one area tourists can visit are 22 major pits, each at least 15 metres deep and cased in reinforced concrete to prevent dangerous radiation from seeping out.

The site looks like a recently tilled garden bed, stretching out for hundreds of yards, in a near perfect circle. Dotting the red desert earth are shards of twisted metal. Aside from a few feral camels loping nearby, it is still and silent.

But on October 4 1956, a “nuclear landmine” was detonated here, tearing a crater 40 metres wide and 21 metres deep into the earth.

‘This is their land’

The resulting atomic reaction took only a fraction of a second, but its effects on one indigenous family would last decades. Survivors of the blasts, their children and grandchildren suffered from cataracts, blood diseases, arthritic conditions, stomach cancers and birth defects…….https://gulfnews.com/news/asia/australia/yes-there-is-still-radiation-here-1.2216400

 

May 7, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Bushfires near Australia’s nuclear reactor are still dangerous

Firefighters Warn NSW Is “Not Out Of The Woods” On Third Day Of Bushfires, Pedestrian. 16 Apr 18   More than 250 firefighters continue to battle bushfires in NSW’s southwest, which has spread more than 2,400 hectares since Saturday afternoon.

The blaze, which is believed to have originated in the vicinity of Casula, was fanned further by strong winds on Sunday.

More than 500 firefighters from the Rural Fire ServiceFire & Rescue NSW and the Australian Defence Force attempted to contain the blaze over the weekend with help from volunteers and 11 water-bombing helicopters.

The fire tore trough Holsworthy military range, and while approaching suburban areas, has been staved off. Several residents report fighting off embers with hoses and water buckets.

The fire was downgraded from “emergency level” to “watch and act” on 5.30pm Sunday, then again downgraded to “advice” around 2am Monday.

While lower wind conditions are expected to help with containing the fire, RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers warned that the high temperatures remain an issue.

Still quite a difficult day ahead (on Monday),” Rogers told the Nine Network“I think we’ve got a long way to go before we’re out of the woods.”

There’s also a risk that winds could also pick up to 35km/h later today.

The RFS is currently advising residents in Pleasure PointSandy PointAlfords PointBarden Ridge  [ie; Lucas Heights] Voyager PointIllawongMenai & Bangor to “remain vigilant throughout the day and keep themselves up to date by checking the NSW RFS website……..https://www.pedestrian.tv/news/firefighters-warning-nsw-bushfires/

AUSTRALIA is struggling to contain a growing bushfire that is racing towards a nuclear reactor, amid fears that the blaze could expand beyond their controlBy OLI SMITH Apr 16, 2018 

Apocalyptic blaze surrounding nuclear reactor sets off emergency

More than 500 Australia firefighters are struggling to tackle a massive bushfire, with several residents urged to seek shelters as evacuation is now “too late”.

Scenes of the blaze, which started yesterday, have been described as “apocalyptic” after the fire ripped through nearly 2,500 hectares of land close to the suburbs of Sydney.

Firefighters failed to stop the out-of-control blaze from burning through a major military base – and a nuclear reactor is the next at-risk location.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) said it was concerned that flying embers could spark even more blazes……

The unseasonably hot Autumn in south-eastern Australia has been blamed for worsening the bushfire after record temperatures for April.

Shane Fitzsimmons, of the RFS, warned that strong 60km per hour winds are expected to push towards residential homes.

He said that the country’s largest army barracks at Holsworthy, where stockpiles of fuel, ammunition and explosive materials are kept, had been hit by the fire.

April 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, safety | Leave a comment

Australia’s bushfires threatening nuclear reactor: Changing the name of a suburb helps the government keep this quiet.

Lucas Heights nuclear reactor: The untold threat of the Sydney bushfires.  https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/sydney-bushfires-raged-towards-lucas-heights-nuclear-reactor,11401 

As fires raged in Sydney, there has not been a peep out of the mainstream media about the fire hazard to Lucas Heights nuclear complex. Noel Wauchope reports. 

THE LATEST news on the bushfires raging in Sydney’s south-west is that the firefighters are “cautiously optimistic” and that emergency warning advice has been downgraded to “watch and act”.

However, the fire continues to burn in an easterly direction towards Barden Ridge and weather conditions are still dodgy, as Sydney’s record-breaking heatwave looks like coming to an end.

It’s been an anxious time — the fire has burned over 2,400 hectares. On Sunday (15 April), more than 500 firefighters in almost 100 fire trucks, along with 15 aircraft, battled the blaze throughout the day. Residents were told that it was too late to leave their homes. Heat from the bushfires was impacting the high voltage lines. There is very little rain forecast over the next few days.

So, it has all been a worry. But you wouldn’t know, would you, that the fire is so close to the Lucas Heights nuclear complex? The latest maps shown on The Guardian and NSW Rural Fire Service websites don’t really show how close this fire is getting to Lucas Heights. I have previously written about the safety hazards of Lucas Heights, with its reactor, cooling pond and accumulation of nuclear wastes — the amount of which is not publicly available.

The fires have reached about four kilometres from Lucas Heights. Embers carried by wind can form spot fires well ahead of the firefront — even up to 20 kilometres away. In the dense and rugged bushland, with predicted west to north-west winds up to 30 kilometres per hour – not forgetting that bushfires create their own weather systems – is not that hazardous to the nuclear complex?

But we don’t hear a word about this. What makes the silence easier, is that the residential area previously part of Lucas Heights was renamed Barden Ridge in 1996 to increase the real estate value of the area, as it would no longer be instantly associated with the High Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR) — and now the Opal nuclear reactor.

Of course, now, because of the name change, there’s no public awareness that Australia’s nuclear reactor is anywhere near the fires. You can bet that the government wants to keep us all in blissful ignorance.

What we do know, is that fires are certainly a hazard to nuclear sites and there is the possibility of radiation release across a wide area, if fire invades a nuclear complex, with the fuel rods in cooling pools at great risk. When fires do happen near a nuclear site, there may be a security panic going on but that is not communicated to the public.

There have been wildfires threatening nuclear sites –  in Russia, Europe, California –  the pattern is to downplay, to not mention, the nuclear danger. The publicity pattern is always to ignore the radiation hazard.  For example:

“It’s being fought by security site fire crews, with help from a helicopter able to detect any aerial release of radiation.” Like monitoring is going to help or they’re going to share their data. Not a peep about the radiation numbers during the fires in and around Los Alamos even though they were “monitoring” – comment by  Helen Helen Mary Caldicott and Henry Peters, on this article:  Wildfire burning in former Nevada nuclear site.

And from this one:   Russia emergency minister threatens to ‘deal with’ those spreading radiation ‘rumours’ about wildfires in contaminated areas

Whenever there have been wildfires threatening nuclear sites – in Russia, Europe or the U.S. – the pattern is to downplay, to not mention, the nuclear danger. The publicity pattern is always to ignore the radiation hazard.

For example during the recent Californian wildfires:

“It’s being fought by security site fire crews, with help from a helicopter able to detect any aerial release of radiation.”

As though any amount of monitoring is going to help or that any data would be publicly shared. Not a peep about the radiation numbers during the fires in and around Los Alamos, even though they were “monitoring” it.

And in the case of this fire in Russia, the emergency minister threatened to “deal with” those who spread radiation “rumours”:

For the current Sydney bushfires, it seems as though there will have been a lucky escape for the communities, despite the fact that two giant aircraft, the DC10 Nancybird and the C130 Hercules “Thor” — normally used for aerial water bombing — were not available to help fight the Sydney fire, having been sent back to the U.S., because by March, the fire risk is supposed to be over.

It will have been a much luckier escape that they realised if the nuclear complex remains unscathed — this time!  https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/sydney-bushfires-raged-towards-lucas-heights-nuclear-reactor,11401

April 16, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, safety | Leave a comment

Australia’s top secret and expensive shipment of nuclear waste to France

Tight security for shipment of nuclear waste from Lucas Heights to France, THE AUSTRALIAN, SIAN POWELL, 12 APR 18 A top-secret security operation to send spent radioactive fuel rods from Australia’s nuclear reactor to France for reprocessing is planned for the coming months.

Potentially involving hundreds of state and federal police, the details of the transport operation will remain confidential until after the shipment arrives at La Hague, in northwest France.

Unused uranium and plutonium will then be removed from the fuel rods, and the residual waste eventually returned to Australia for storage. About 500kg of unused low-enriched uranium and 4.5kg of unused plutonium will be recovered from the rods…

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation at Lucas Heights in Sydney’s south has confirmed the shipment will be trucked to a port for transport to La Hague midway through this year.

The route, the port, the time and the ship, as well as the numbers of ­security personnel, will remain confidential until after the mission is completed.

The last shipment of spent rods was sent to the US in 2009, and both Port Kembla and Port Botany have been used as shipment ports in the past.

When reprocessed nuclear waste was returned to Australia in 2015 for storage at Lucas Heights, more than 500 police were ­deployed to guard the shipment, and it is expected at least that number will guard the radioactive cargo destined for France.

The radioactive spent fuel rods will be packed into an undisclosed number of ­immensely tough lead and stainless steel transport casks for the journey to France.

“These casks are purpose-­engineered to safely transport this type of material without risk to people or the environment,” said the manager of the multipurpose OPAL Reactor at Lucas Heights, Dave Vittorio. “Even a jet plane strike could not penetrate them.”

The total cost of the project is $45 million, including the contract with France, equipment, staff costs, and incidentals.

…… Australia, like other nations, pays to use the La Hague facility’s infrastructure and expertise. The shipment will be the 10th export of spent nuclear fuel ­assemblies used in the OPAL ­reactor’s first 10 years of operation. ….https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/tight-security-for-shipment-of-nuclear-waste-from-lucas-heights-to-france/news-story/5549c370206c15aa1bc1a4b2367d6552

April 14, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, safety | Leave a comment

20 years ago Australian indigenous land owners stopped Jabiluka uranium mine

Guardian 2nd April 2018, One of Australia’s proudest land rights struggles is passing an important
anniversary: it is 20 years since the establishment of the blockade camp at
Jabiluka in Kakadu national park.

This was the moment at which push would
come to shove at one of the world’s largest high-grade uranium deposits.
The industry would push, and people power would shove right back.

The blockade set up a confrontation between two very different kinds of power:
on the one side, the campaign was grounded in the desire for
self-determination by the Mirarr traditional Aboriginal owners,
particularly the formidable senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula. They
were supported by a tiny handful of experienced paid staff and backed by an
international network of environment advocates, volunteer activists and
researchers.  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/03/20-years-on-from-the-jabiluka-mine-protest-we-can-find-hope-in-its-success

April 4, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment