Tony Abbot unaware? or in denial over India’s unsafe nuclear power system

September 9, 2014
India-uranium1Despite assurances of ‘peaceful purposes’, a uranium export deal between Australia and India has serious nuclear security implications. http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/09/09/comment-old-mistakes-new-delhi-australian-irresponsibility-and-indian-uraniumBy Dave Sweeney 9 SEP 2014 
The recent Australian uranium sales deal with India is a further slide in a radioactive race to the bottom that reflects a disturbing retreat from reason and responsibility. During his time in India Tony Abbott repeatedly said that India has an ‘impeccable’ military nuclear non-proliferation record and repeatedly refused to answer questions about serious deficiencies in India’s civil nuclear sector.

In the absence of evidence Mr Abbott was reduced to white flannelled cliché declaring that Australia and India trust each other on issues like uranium safeguards because of ‘the fundamentally ethical principle that every cricketer is supposed to assimilate – play by the rules and accept the umpire’s decision’. Seriously.

Despite assurances of ‘peaceful purposes’, this deal has serious nuclear security implications. Even if all goes well, and in the shadow of Fukushima that is a big assumption, it will free up India’s domestic uranium stocks for military use and do nothing to advance Indian non-proliferation or reduce the continuing tension with nuclear rival Pakistan.

The sale of uranium to India, a nuclear armed nation that is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nor subject to full international nuclear safeguards but is engaged in an active nuclear weapons expansion program, is also in direct conflict with Australia’s obligations under the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty.

While the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is intent on expanding India’s civil and military nuclear ambitions, large question marks remain over the adequacy of safety and security arrangements covering India’s nuclear sector. In 2012 the Indian Auditor General released a damning report warning of a ‘Fukushima or Chernobyl-like disaster if the nuclear safety issue is not addressed’.

This frank assessment came from India’s own senior officials. Fast forward to 2014 and the issues identified by the Auditor General have not been addressed and there is no certainty they ever will be. The safety of India’s nuclear reactors remains shaky, the sectors regulation and governance deficient and the costs of errors extraordinary.

Tony Abbott’s visit to India came hot on the heels of an Australian visit from the former Japanese PM Naoto Kan, who was in Australia visiting Aboriginal people affected by uranium mining in the NT and taking his story directly to Canberra.

Mr Kan was Prime Minister in the early days of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a continuing crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium. As the man tasked with overseeing the fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster and deciding whether to evacuate twenty five million people from greater Tokyo Mr Kan’s message was clear: Australia and world needs to “reduce dependence on nuclear power” and fully embrace renewables.

In the context of the Indian sales deal Mr Kan’s comments have great significance. If Japan, the world’s third largest economy and a nation steeped in technology and systems could not control the atomic genie, it bodes poorly for the application of this technology in other countries. With Australia’s renewable energy expertise and resources we would be superbly placed to keep Indian village lights on while ensuring the Geiger counter stays off.

Along with Mr Kan’s cautionary tale, another of Australia’s controversial uranium customers is providing a stark lesson in the need for prudence with uranium sales. Speaking at a patriotic youth camp near Moscow recently Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted that Russia remains one of the largest nuclear powers in the world, stating: “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers….Russia’s partners … should understand it’s best not to mess with us.”

In the shadow of Fukushima instead of opening up new uranium sales in increasingly insecure and conflict-prone regions we should tread more carefully with our uranium supplies.

Uranium is not just another mineral. It fuels nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons and it all becomes nuclear waste. As home to around a third of the worlds’ uranium supply Australia’s decisions matter and this is an important moment to comprehensively re-consider the domestic and international costs and consequences of our uranium sales.

Tony Abbott has no excuse or mandate to put the promise of small time corporate profit ahead of the reality of severe and sustained human and environmental radioactive risk.

It’s just not cricket.

Dave Sweeney is the nuclear free campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Hillary Clinton urges USA to become a renewable energy ‘superpower’

September 8, 2014

Clinton: US can become renewable energy ‘superpower’,blueandgreen tomorrow, Sunday, September 7th, 2014 By Tom Revell  Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has called for increased investment in renewable energy to achieve “a clean energy future” and address the threat of climate change.

Speaking at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas on Thursday, Clinton – who has been tipped as a likely Democrat candidate for the 2016 presidential election – warned of the risks of unabated greenhouse gas
emissions.

Sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting, storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc. 13 of the top 14 warmest years have all come since 2000,” she said.

However, while promoting the use of shale gas as a bridge fuel, Clinton argued that the US could become a world leader in the use of renewable energy.

America can be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century,” she said.

Just look at what’s happening here in Nevada. This state has quintupled its renewable energy capacity since 2008.  Our economic recovery, our efforts against climate change, our strategic position in the world all will improve if we can build a safe bridge to a clean energy economy,” the former first lady added……..http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2014/09/07/clinton-us-can-become-renewable-energy-superpower/

This week’s nuclear news

September 7, 2014

a-cat-CANAUSTRALIA

Uranium sales to India. P.M. Tony Abbott returns in glory from signing up with Indian P.M. Mori the deal to sell uranium to India.

To Russia. Well Tony Abbott was happy to cut exports of agricultural produce to Russia, as part of Australia’s condemnation of Putin. But he didn’t want to cut uranium exports. However, under pressure in Parliament from The Greens, that little piece of hypocrisy became apparent, and Abbott has reluctantly announced cutting of uranium exports to Russia. (Long may that last – just another step in the collapse of that toxic industry)

Renewable Energy Target (RET) .  Abbott faces a difficult time in his goal of destroying Australia’s renewable energy industry. Even quite  a few Liberals (the wimps) are noticing that the RET is not costing electricity consumers more. And of course, the electricity industries’ “death spiral” continues: – householders notice that it will be cheaper to use the free energy from the sun, and, as they switch to rooftop solar, the electricity utilities are forced to raise their prices. That in turn, causes more people to go for “off grid” electricity, and so the companies must again raise prices….

I am often being accused of being paid by industry to run websites etc.  Not so – but why not tell you about a really nifty provider that will give you a good deal using green energy

logo Powershop green powerFor electricity – I’m switching to green energy Powershop http://www.powershop.com.au/toolkit/   This electricity provider is available in Victoria, but probably not yet in other states. https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/renewable-energy/switch/victorians-switch-to-save-renewables

INTERNATIONAL

Japan.  the Nuclear Regulatory Agency is standing firm on the need to close the  Tsuruga nuclear reactor that is sited above an active earthquake fault. They are also pushing to permanently close a quarter of Japan’s 48 ageing nuclear reactors. Meanwhile, Japan is reluctant to sign up a nuclear technology deal with India,as there is no certainty that India will not use this to make weapons.  Another pesky woman speaking up when she shouldn’t? Akie Abe, wife of P.M, has once again politely voiced her opposition to nuclear power.

Russia. In the heat of the Ukraine conflict, one Russian general is pushing for Russia to adopt a pre-emptive nuclear strike policy. (America already has that policy)

Ukraine. Well, at the moment there’s a pause in conflict between separatists and Ukraine government. It is on the cards that peace will break out. For one thing, war is  just too damn dangerous: Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors, including Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Imagine the radioactive pollution of Europe that would result if rockets or bombs happened to hit Ukraine’s nukes!

Planet Earth.  I have got tired of concentrating on the nuclear issue. It’s just one symptom, the worst though, of the human specie’s trashing of the planet. Geologists are saying that we are in a new Epoch – the Anthropocene Age. We have indeed changed the planet, and we’d better do something about it, before the human species joins the mass of other extinctions that it has caused.

 

Queensland’s uranium will not find a market in Japan, warns former P.M.

August 29, 2014

graph-down-uraniumBetter Market Your Uranium Someplace Else, Japan Appetite No Longer Huge as Before – Former PM Tells Australia Queensland Premier Campbell NewmanInternational Business Times, By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | August 28, 2014 Campbell Newman, premier of Australia‘s Queensland state, has gotten an advice from former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, and that is to market the country’s uranium to someplace else. This, as a new study said the bill of damages from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown will zoom to over $105 billion, double than the earlier estimates released by authorities in 2011.

While Japan may restart some of its 54 idled nuclear power plants, Kan said Japan’s appetite for the yellow cake uranium won’t be “anywhere the same levels of uranium it has in the past.”

Kan was in Australia last week on a trip sponsored by the Australian Conservation Foundation. A previous staunch supporter of nuclear power, Kan is now against uranium mining, having seen the effects of the Fukushima Daiichinuclear power plant meltdowns in March 2011.

Kan was Japan’s prime minister at the time of the Fukushima nuclear disaster three years ago.

“Even if some did restart it would be practically impossible to return to the kind of levels of operation that were in place before the March 2011 disaster,” Brisbane Times quoted Kan………

He also stressed the appeal of the yellow cake to fuel nuclear power plants had simmered down, and thus Queensland has China as the only potential country it can export its primary product.

“The trends we are seeing in the United States and Europe – and also because of the very high costs of nuclear power – we are not seeing a growth in this market,” he said………http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/564339/20140828/uranium-japan-appetite-kan-australia-queensland-newman.htm#.VADXudJdUnk

August 29 UN International Day against Nuclear Tests

August 29, 2014

I have a dream: A world free of nuclear weapons Aljazeera,  28 Aug 2014  China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the US are still to sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Karipbek Kuyukov is the Honorary Ambassador of The ATOM Project. The UN International Day against Nuclear Tests on August 29 is an opportunity to remind the world about the inhumane consequences of nuclear explosions. It is a day which has a special meaning for the many thousands of people who, like me, grew up in Eastern Kazakhstan.
Kuyukov,-Karipbek,-KazakhstI was born 100 kilometres from the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site where the Soviet Union exploded more than 600 nuclear devices between 1949 and 1991.  They have had terrible physical consequences for the people who lived near them.
I came into this world without arms. People often ask me if I can be sure that radiation was the cause. If you had lived in my home town or region, this would not be a question.

In the place where I grew up, I saw mothers and midwives shocked at the sight of their babies. I saw families too embarrassed to show their children to the outside world, hiding them deep inside their homes and bringing them out only briefly for fresh air and sun.
I witnessed families and whole communities decimated by radiation-related cancers. As the United Nations confirms, more than 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan have suffered the effects of Soviet nuclear weapons testing.
The most terrifying fact about this story is that we didn’t understand the impact these explosions would have. We were taken completely by surprise – and this, I believe, is why it is so important that we use August 29 to warn the world about the impact of nuclear testing. We must never forget what happened or allow others to remain in the dark.
I saw so much tragedy and suffering in my homeland that I decided to do everything possible to ensure that my generation is the last to suffer such damage. I became an activist in an anti-nuclear weapons movement and found peace in expressing my pain through art.
I use my feet and mouth to hold my brush and pour out in my own colours my inner world, calling on others to follow my cause. Today, I am an honorary ambassador of The ATOM Project, an online campaign to encourage the global leadership needed to totally eliminate the nuclear threat.
Since its launch two years ago, The ATOM Project has taken the stories of Kazakhstan’s nuclear testing survivors around the globe. On my travels, I have made many new friends in many countries who have encouraged us to continue our work.
We now have over 90,000 supporters from more than 100 countries and have set ourselves a goal of reach the 100,000 mark by August 29. You can help us reach this milestone by signing the petition and showing your desire for a nuclear-weapons-free world.
And over the last two decades we have seen progress. Even before Kazakhstan became a fully independent country, our leader, and now President, Nursultan Nazarbayev shut down the Semipalatinsk test site in 1991 in defiance of then Soviet government in Moscow. On independence, our country also voluntarily gave up the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal, which we had inherited from the Soviet Union. Similar courageous decisions were taken by Ukraine, Belarus and South Africa who all renounced their nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons programmes………http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/08/i-dream-world-free-nuclear-weap-201482874433467528.html

Unusually large number of thyroid cancer cases in young Fukushima people

August 29, 2014

thyroid-cancer-papillaryThyroid cancer diagnosed in 104 young people in Fukushima, Asahi Shimbun August 24, 2014 By YURI OIWA/ Staff Writer  The number of young people in Fukushima Prefecture who have been diagnosed with definitive or suspected thyroid gland cancer, a disease often caused by radiation exposure, now totals 104, according to prefectural officials.

The 104 are among 300,000 young people who were aged 18 or under at the time of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and whose results of thyroid gland tests have been made available as of June 30. They were eligible for the tests administered by the prefectural government.

Of these 104, including 68 women, the number of definitive cases is 57, and one has been diagnosed with a benign tumor. The size of the tumors varies from 5 to 41 millimeters and averages 14 mm.

The average age of those diagnosed was 14.8 when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011……..

The figure can be extrapolated for comparison purposes to an average of more than 30 people per population of 100,000 having definitive or suspected thyroid gland cancer.

The figure is much higher than, for example, the development rate of thyroid cancer of 1.7 people per 100,000 among late teens based on the cancer patients’ registration in Miyagi Prefecture…….http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201408240011

Ukraine crisis – not as simple as name-calling politicians make it out to be

August 29, 2014

Johnson’s Russia List,  jackmatlock.com – Jack Matlock – August 26, 2014  “…Neither Russia nor the United States has any right, under what is generally accepted as international law, to be involved in selecting a government in Ukraine. Russia, however, has an infinitely greater stake in that government’s orientation than has the United States and a much greater ability to affect what happens on the ground…….

We are not in a new cold war, but the participation of our political leaders in public accusations, demands, and threats has helped recreate much of that atmosphere. This acrimonious public dialogue, at times descending to little more than name calling, set off destabilizing vibrations that become amplified by feedback at each exchange……..

Map-Ukraine

The spate of official name-calling seems to be abating, and that is encouraging, for only quiet, realistic diplomacy is going to steer the warring parties in Ukraine away from the disastrous course they have chosen………

The planned meetings this week by Russian and Ukrainian representatives with European and, in some instances, American diplomats provide opportunities to nudge the warring parties to end the violence and to negotiate their

No media coverage in Australia of the uranium mining dilemma in Greenland

August 25, 2014

the people of Greenland are “split down the middle regarding the repeal of the ban.”

Hooge explains that the “mineral authorities” have fed the public disinformation over the last years but the tide may be turning, with growing concerns over environmental effects and the leftist party Inuit Ataqatigiit pledging to roll back the repeal if it wins back power.

The prospect of a relatively unknown Australian company exploiting massive untapped resources in Greenland deserves a robust public and political debate. It has thus far received nothing in Australia, and little in Denmark and Greenland.

In an age of worsening climate change, mining uranium is an arguably unsafe and potentially explosive answer to the problem

Australian uranium mining in Greenland is tearing the country in half jagadees.wordpress.com August 23, 2014 Antony Loewenstein. source theecologist.org

This is a story about an Australian company you’ve never heard of, operating in a nation that rarely enters the global media: Greenland. It’s a story about the intense search for energy sources in a world that’s moving away from the dirtiest fossil fuels.

Aleqa Hammond, the prime minister of Greenland, is the first woman to lead this autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. She also welcomes the financial opportunities from climate change and a melting Arctic Circle……..

In October last year, Hammond pushed legislation through Greenland’s parliament to overturn a 25 year old ban on the extraction of radioactive materials, including uranium, despite countless leading environmental NGOs urging otherwise.

It attracted global interest from the rare earth and uranium industries, including from China. Concerns were also raised about Greenland’s ability to manage a toxic substance in the wake of Fukushima and Chernobyl.

The company Greenland Minerals and Energy Limited (GMEL) is based in Perth, Western Australia. This year GMEL announced a major step forward in their plan to open one of the world’s largest uranium mines in southern Greenland, at Kvanefjeld, near Narsaq. The mine will also produce fluoride, thorium and other rare earths.

There is still significant opposition to the Kvanefjeld project. The Ecological Council, a Danish NGO, organised a conference to discuss the potential contamination risks in March, noting that the mine poses serious risks for the inhabitants of the nearby village, Narsaq.

Many locals told the BBC that they worried about pollution and challenges to traditional ways of life if GMEL moved ahead with its plans.

Unsurprisingly, Danish green groups have pushed for a continued ban on uranium mining. They claim that rare earth elements can be extracted without uranium mining in Greenland.

Who owns GMEL? Read the rest of this entry »

The cover-up of the seriousness of the Fukushima nuclear crisis

August 25, 2014

NO ONE WANTS YOU TO KNOW HOW BAD FUKUSHIMA MIGHT STILL BE VICE By Johnny Magdaleno Aug 19 2014 Last month, when the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced it would move forward with its plan to construct an “ice wall” around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s failed reactors, it seemed like a step backwards. In June, the utility company in charge of decommissioning the plant—which was ravaged by a tsunami in March 2011—indicated that its initial attempt at installing a similar structure had flopped. Its pipes were apparently unable to freeze the ground, despite being filled with a -22°F chemical solution.

Similar techniques have been successfully used by engineers to build underwater car tunnels and mine shafts. But Dr. Dale Klein, an engineer and expert on nuclear policy, isn’t so sure it’ll produce the same results on a project of this magnitude. He says that although freezing the ground around reactors one through four might help corral the water that’s being used by TEPCO as a coolant, there’s little technical understanding of how the natural water sources surrounding the plant might respond. “As the water comes down the mountains towards the ocean, it’s not clear to me that [TEPCO] really know how it is going to move around that frozen barrier,” he said in an interview with VICE.

“But it has to go somewhere,” he continued. “It’s such a complicated site and problem, and I don’t know if they fully understand that yet.”

It’s worrying to hear doubt from someone like Klein, whose expertise ranges from politics to pedagogy. He was appointed to chair the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission by President Bush in 2006 and, after stepping down in 2009, he served as the organization’s commissioner in 2010. Now, in addition to being associate director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, he’s part of an international TEPCO advisory panel and visits Japan three to four times a year to work with officials as they struggle to helm a largely ad hoc clean-up effort.

Aside from TEPCO’s unwillingness to consider other engineering solutions, his main point of criticism about Japan’s largest utility company is rooted in one that countless others have voiced since the earthquake (and subsequent tsunami): a suspicious disregard for keeping the public informed…….

it’s hard to give TEPCO the benefit of the doubt when misinformation, lying, and a sub-par approach to safety culture have been central to this quagmire since before the natural disasters. While it’s rarely constructive to point fingers in a time of crisis, it’s worth noting that TEPCO has been reprimanded by the Japanese government, international scientists, peace-keeping organizations, global media outlets, and both anti- and pro-nuclear advocates for its unwillingness to disclose key details at a time when they are desperately needed. Coupled with the unmitigated radiation still pouring into Pacific waters, this helps explain why a Japanese judicial panel announced in late July that it wants TEPCO executives to be indicted…….

This year marked the disaster’s third anniversary, but new accounts of mismanagement and swelling radiation levels continue to surface. In February, TEPCO revealed that groundwater sources near the Daiichi plant and 80 feet from the Pacific Ocean contained 20 million becquerels of the harmful radioactive element Strontium-90 per gallon (one becquerel equals one emission of radiation per second). Even though the internationally accepted limit for Strontium-90 contamination in water hovers around 120 becquerels per gallon, these measurements were hidden from Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority for nearly four months. As a response, the national nuclear watchdog agency censured TEPCO for lacking a “fundamental understanding of measuring and handling radiation.”

And last month, TEPCO told reporters that 14 different rice paddies outside Fukushima’s exclusion zone were contaminated in August 2013, after a large piece of debris was removed from one of the Daiichi plant’s crippled reactors. The readings were taken in March 2014, but TEPCO didn’t publicize their findings until four months later, at the start of July—meaning almost a year had passed since emissions had begun to accumulate at dangerous levels in Japan’s most sacred food.

The list, unfortunately, goes on. This is merely the abridged account of TEPCO’s backpedalling and PR shortfalls. It begs many questions, but the most perplexing one is: Why? Why has a crisis that is gaining traction as the worst case of nuclear pollution in history—worse, emission-wise, than Hiroshima, Nagasaki, or Chernobyl—being smothered with internal censorship…….http://www.vice.com/read/no-one-wants-you-to-know-how-bad-fukushima-might-still-be-666

 

The dirty tactics of pro thorium trolls

August 23, 2014
A recent article analysed the illogicality, if not downright dishonesty of the climate sceptic trolls. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/8/20/policy-politics/what-i-learned-debating-science-trolls
I welcomed that article with interest, as it dissected the often quite sophisticated comments, blogs, tweets, etc of the climate denialists, most of them well and truly in the pay of vested interests in the fossil fuel industries.
The nuclear lobby is no doubt just as sophisticated. However, it has a sort of “side arsenal” of tweeters, mainly focusing on the red herring industry of thorium energy, Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs and Small Modular (Nuclear) Reactors. (Note how these new geewhiz lobbyists leave out that tainted word “Nuclear” )
It’s interesting to look at their tactics – particularly on Twitter.
I am constantly the victim of Twitter trollism because I campaign against the nuclear industry. It is ironic that these trolls use climate change as their argument for nuclear power, – and accuse me constantly of being in the pay of the coal and gas companies. That’s despite the fact that I repeatedly write and publish on websites on the critical need for action to address climate change
The pro nuclear trolls use two tactics.
 The main one is to abuse and discredit their targeted person. Thus I am not only “in the pay” of the fossil fuel industries, I am also a “murderer” – as well as being “stupid” “evil” ignorant” and have many other unpleasant attributes.
Their second tactic is to focus on narrowly technical matters - such as the intricacies of new (though not yet existing) Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs). The pretense is that this is the whole argument – the superiority of new nuclear technology. Subjects such as economics, ecology, public health, civil liberties, – these matters are “not relevant” to the discussion on nuclear power.
In fact, only people with technical expertise can have a valid opinion. (Of course if a technically qualified person should oppose nuclear power , then he or she must be “in the pay” of the fossil fuel industries).
Here are today’s samples of pro thorium tweeter tactics against critics – me, in fact. No attempt to answer the factual tweets that I posted about renewable energy versus nuclear power (My full name is Noel Christina Macpherson Wauchope)
Thomas Huxley @thjr19Notice how fossil fuel shill Noel Wauchope only mentions say coal (NEVER mentioning gas) perhaps once in a dozen tweets. $$$$$$ !! #thoriumThomas Huxley @thjr19

Noel Wauchope: Please! Fossil Fuel Shill Manager: No! NW: Please! FFSM: OK, every 2nd tweet. NO MORE, hear me

Thomas Huxley @thjr19

Noel Wauchope, fossil fuel industry shill, has been told to lay off coal. How long to get permission again?!

 

Would Noel Wauchope be the old bag who started by calling people she disagrees with shills, & trolls & astrobots on #thorium?

a-cat-CANNote. I have pointed out that pro thorium tweeters, instead of addressing my tweets on renewable energy, and the problems of thorium just abuse me personally. This kind of behaviour is indeed trollism.  Some, I am sure, are paid to tweet – these people are indeed shills. Some repetitively tweet out a succession of the same old pro thorium tweets. THese are almost certainly astrobots. I have never named a rweeter , even by their Twitter pseudonym.


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