Contaminated groundwater, pollution at 1000s of sites in South Australia

July 23, 2014

polluted-waterToxic sites in Adelaide’s suburbs number in their thousands BRAD CROUCH THE ADVERTISER JULY 22, 2014  THE Opposition has demanded a statewide audit of contaminated sites, as it emerges the dangers of trichloroethene entering groundwater was suspected as far back as the 1940s.

The call for an audit comes after Environmental Protection Authority chief executive Tony Circelli confirmed that “thousands” of sites were contaminated with various chemicals and the EPA received about 100 new notifications each year.

The State Government and Environment Minister Ian Hunter are under increasing pressure over the contamination scandal in Clovelly Park , where dozens of people have been forced to leave their homes because of health risks from the vapours of trichloroethene (TCE) rising up through the soil from industrially poisoned groundwater.

Mr Circelli, was responding to a claim by UniSA Professor Ravi Naidu, the managing director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation, that there are about 4000 contaminated sites in SA.

Mr Circelli said that claim was incorrect, but conceded the number “is in the thousands”.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said an audit was needed to clarify the exact number of contaminated sites and their locations. “The purpose of conducting a statewide audit would be to establish a hierarchy of sites based on potential public health risks,” he said.

“As well as playing an important community awareness role, the audit could also provide a benchmark for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of contaminated sites for the EPA and assist with any future contamination investigations………http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/toxic-sites-in-adelaides-suburbs-number-in-their-thousands/story-fni6uo1m-1226998071395?nk=38b4e03626cff750bb726e65c1a3e9f4

Sorry, Tony Abbott, solar power is thriving in Central Australia

July 23, 2014

Red Centre keeps shining as solar technology hub http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-22/alice-springs-solar-hub-technology/5613534  ABC Rural  By Lauren Fitzgerald Central Australia is continuing to attract international investment from the solar industry, despite the Alice Solar City initiative wrapping up more than a year ago. In its five-year history, the program helped hundreds of homes and businesses install solar panels and solar hot water systems.

The general manager of the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), Lyndon Frearson, says Alice Springs now also has a reputation as a hub for developing technology.

solar-stATION-aLICE-sPRINGS

He says companies from China, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Switzerland and America are all installing different solar PV modules at the CAT site. “The range of their investment varies depending on the size of the facility that they want to put in,” he said.

“Some of them are putting in little five-kilowatt systems as a test site, where they might be putting a number of small test sites around the world, through to a Swiss-based company which only has three R & D [research and development] facilities in the world, and they chose to build one of them here.

“And certainly those investments are in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Mr Frearson says local businesses like the Alice Springs Airport are also demonstrating an ongoing commitment to solar. “They received a subsidy to do their original project, but they’ve just [installed] 320 kilowatts off their own bat, completely their own investment. “And that’s both a maturing of the economics, that the solar panels are cheaper and the energy prices have changed.

“But it also shows a degree of confidence that they as an organisation and their board have in the technology to better run their business. “And there are a number of examples within Alice and broader afield throughout central Australia where different entities are making those decisions.

“So I think the legacy of Alice Solar City in central Australia is strong. “Certainly it’s something we see people talking about with pride, and we still see people outside of Alice focus very heavily on and see Alice Springs as a leader in this space.”

UN report on Fukushima health effects gets scathing criticism from global physicians

July 23, 2014

Fukushima: Bad and Getting Worse - Global Physicians Issue Scathing Critique of UN Report on Fukushima CounterPunch, by JOHN LaFORGE, 20 July 14 

There is broad disagreement over the amounts and effects of radiation exposure due to the triple reactor meltdowns after the 2011 Great East-Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) joined the controversy June 4, with a 27-page “Critical Analysis of the UNSCEAR Report ‘Levels and effects of radiation exposures due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 Great East-Japan Earthquake and tsunami.’”

IPPNW is the Nobel Peace Prize winning global federation of doctors working for “a healthier, safer and more peaceful world.” The group has adopted a highly critical view of nuclear power because as it says, “A world without nuclear weapons will only be possible if we also phase out nuclear energy.”

UNSCEAR, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, published its deeply flawed report April 2. Its accompanying press release summed up its findings this way: “No discernible changes in future cancer rates and hereditary diseases are expected due to exposure to radiation as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident.” The word “discernable” is a crucial disclaimer here.

text-UNSCEAR

Cancer, and the inexorable increase in cancer cases in Japan and around the world, is mostly caused by toxic pollution, including radiation exposure according to the National Cancer Institute.[1] But distinguishing a particular cancer case as having been caused by Fukushima rather than by other toxins, or combination of them, may be impossible – leading to UNSCEAR’s deceptive summation. As the IPPNW report says, “A cancer does not carry a label of origin…”

UNSCEAR’s use of the phrase “are expected” is also heavily nuanced. The increase in childhood leukemia cases near Germany’s operating nuclear reactors, compared to elsewhere, was not “expected,” but was proved in 1997. The findings, along with Chernobyl’s lingering consequences, led to the country’s federally mandated reactor phase-out. The plummeting of official childhood mortality rates around five US nuclear reactors after they were shut down was also “unexpected,” but shown by Joe Mangano and the Project on Radiation and Human Health.

The International Physicians’ analysis is severely critical of UNSCEAR’s current report which echoes its 2013 Fukushima review and press release that said, “It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers.”

“No justification for optimistic presumptions”

The IPPNW’s report says flatly, “Publications and current research give no justification for such apparently optimistic presumptions.” UNSCEAR, the physicians complain, “draws mainly on data from the nuclear industry’s publications rather than from independent sources and omits or misinterprets crucial aspects of radiation exposure”, and “does not reveal the true extent of the consequences” of the disaster. As a result, the doctors say the UN report is “over-optimistic and misleading.” The UN’s “systematic underestimations and questionable interpretations,” the physicians warn, “will be used by the nuclear industry to downplay the expected health effects of the catastrophe” and will likely but mistakenly be considered by public authorities as reliable and scientifically sound. Dozens of independent experts report that radiation attributable health effects are highly likely………. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/18/fukushima-bad-and-getting-worse/

Adelaide suburb’s chemical pollution – a warning to us all

July 22, 2014

Cancer danger in Adelaide suburb -http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-03/clovelly-park-carcinogen-danger-forces-residents-to-move-house/5568116

Dennis Matthews 22 July 14 The problems being experienced at Clovelly Park are the product of a society that gave low priority to environmental health. Environment Ministers and Environmental Protection Authorities either didn’t exist or were given very low priority.

Like the residents of Clovelly Park, Environment Minister Ian Hunter is the victim of a past over which he had little control. The trichloroethylene (TCE) story should be a warning to this generation but there is no evidence that it is being heeded.

Scientists and technologists are busy developing new products with very little thought to their environmental health impact. Our water and soil resources are under constant attack. The environment portfolio is under-resourced and going backwards.

Our aim should now be to prevent a new generation of environmental health threats by giving higher status to the environment portfolio and by encouraging our scientists and technologists to give more attention to the environmental health consequences of their products.

“The Age” appalled by Tony Abbott’s repeal of the carbon tax

July 21, 2014

Repeal of carbon tax shames our nation

The Age July 21, 2014   Editorial

  The overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists concur: the emission of greenhouse gasses as a result of human activity is contributing to a rise in temperate and to the resulting climate change that poses nothing short of an existential threat. So this newspaper has consistently advocated for our governments to act decisively on behalf of future generations to combat global warming. Economists the world over agree the most effective way to reduce the danger is to put a price on carbon emissions. We are appalled, then, that the Coalition has repealed the carbon tax, which was a transitional step towards an emissions trading scheme the like of which is working in Europe and elsewhere.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott claims to accept the science, and indeed has a policy to cut emissions. It’s called Direct Action, but is better thought of as limp inaction, for it is essentially a scheme to plant tress and spend about $2.5 billion paying selected businesses to reduce pollution. Incidentally, that is significantly less than the cost of the tax Mr Abbott, a man who claims to be against new and/or higher taxes, wants to levy on business to pay for his excessively generous paid parental leave scheme. Direct Action is unlikely to go anywhere near reducing emissions to the bipartisan target of a minimum of 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020.

Australia, the nation with the highest level of emissions per capita, is now left in a lamentable limbo; not only has the price on carbon been removed, the first time a government has wound back action on climate change, yet even the Direct Action plan has been stymied by the Palmer United Party, led by a man with a massive and direct interest in coal mining.

The Coalition has regressed astonishingly; Mr Abbott’s political hero and mentor, former prime minister John Howard, took an emissions trading scheme to the 2007 election.

The Age applauds Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s statement that he and the ALP continue to support an emissions trading scheme……..: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-editorial/repeal-of-carbon-tax-shames-our-nation-20140720-3c954.html#ixzz38AgsQNpA

Coal utilities financial ‘death spiral’ as solar rooftops proliferate in Australia

July 21, 2014

Game-changing rooftop solar boom is squeezing the profits out of coal power in Australia http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/rooftop-solar-boom-squeezing-profits-coal-power-autralia.html Michael Graham Richard (@Michael_GR)  14 July 14

Solar power briefly turned electricity prices negative in Queensland Australia is known for its coal, which provides over 80% of its electricity and is a big export, but someday soon it might be known for its solar power. Thanks to rapidly falling solar PV prices, there’s been a rooftop solar boom in Australia. It’s now reaching a point where few coal generators made money last year, and even fewer will make profits this year… Wholesale energy pricing even briefly went negative in the middle of the day (see graph below) recently in the middle of the day in Queensland where there is 1.1 gigawatt of solar spread over more than 350,000 buildings.

Australia as a whole has about 3.4GW on 1.2 million buildings! Eventually, coal won’t be able to compete with solar at any price:

let’s imagine that the wholesale price of electricity fell to zero and stayed there, and that the benefits were passed on to consumers. In effect, that coal-fired energy suddenly became free. Could it then compete with rooftop solar?

The answer is no. Just the network charges and the retailer charges alone add up to more than 19c/kWh, according to estimates by the Australian energy market commissioner. According to industry estimates, solar ranges from 12c/kWh to 18c/kWh, depending on solar resources of the area, Those costs are forecast to come down even further, to around 10c/kWh and lower. (source)

The next step will be for people to get some storage and go off the grid to avoid having to pay these network charges. Australian solar installers are already reporting that “between 15 and 20 per cent of solar customers are asking about storage, and that rate is increasing each month.”

With companies like Tesla having ambitious goals to cut battery prices down over the next few years with gigafactories, the combo of cheap solar PV + cheap battery storage will be hard to beat. Dirty power sources will simply stop being competitive. Australia has lots of sun and high network costs, so it’s at the forefront of this movement. But most other countries will follow at their own pace. The best things we can do to accelerate the switch over to clean energy is to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, create regulation that is more friendly to rooftop solar (net-metering, for example), and put a price on carbon emissions.

The massive financial risks of nuclear power – no real insurance at all

July 21, 2014
Car Recalls, Car Insurance, Nuclear Power And Nuclear Waste, What They Don’t Have In Common http://agreenroad.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/car-recalls-car-insurance-nuclear-power.html
“Going naked” is how the insurance industry describes not having insurance. And when it comes to the worst hazards of nuclear power — America is going naked. Correspondent Miles Benson investigates why the US nuclear power industry is underinsured by hundreds of billions of dollars. He also speaks with Australian physician, author and nuclear industry critic Dr. Helen Caldicott on the health effects of nuclear radiation including cancers, fetal damage and genetic mutation. The video talks about damage and loss costs in the hundreds of billions, when the actual cost is in the Trillions.. Nations that have nuclear power plants are ‘going naked’ due to the potential catastrophic losses from even one nuclear power plant melting down and out, like Fukushima did, multiple times.

Earth Focus Episode 55 – Nuclear Insurance: America Goes Naked


 

Fukushima Crisis Total Cost $1 To $10 TRILLION Dollars; via A Green Road
http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2012/06/fukushima-crisis-total-cost-up-to-10.html

 

Via Christopher Hartly Holte Imagine if all car owners did not have to BE insured, and that they were immune from liability for killing people. Is this even possible? In the nuclear industry, it is not only possible, it is the law. Follow Shawn McCarthy on Twitter: @smccarthy55

Koch brothers facing the threat of other billionaires wanting action on climate change!

July 21, 2014

The Billionaire War Heats Up Slate.com 17 July 14 The richest people in America are turning on one another—over climate change.By  Move over, Al Gore. There’s a new wealthy environmentalist whom conservatives love to hate. If you haven’t heard of him yet, meet Tom Steyer…….In a biographical post on his super PAC’s website labeled “accountability,” Steyer says “climate change has not always been on my radar.” In 2012, after founding Farallon Capital Management and running it for more than 25 years (amassing a billion-dollar fortune in the process), he left his post to work on global warming full time.

As the Washington Post reported last year, to reduce his footprint (which is probably still pretty big), Steyer chooses to take the red eye. He doesn’t shy away from the occasional environmental campaign rally, but he’s not about to guilt trip you for not switching out your light bulbs, either. His target is much bigger: the American political process itself.

In response to his efforts to make global warming a major political issue in the runup to the 2014 midterm elections,
Koch-bros-textSteyer is fast drawing the ire of the political landscape’s resident oil-money billionaires, the Koch brothers. Their talking point is simple: Tom Steyer is one of us, so lefties should demonize him, too. As Slate’s David Weigel wrote, “Republicans are trying to Koch-ify Tom Steyer in just five or six months.”

Ever since February, when Steyer announced a $100 million campaign to fight climate change, critics have been eager to pick at anything that may tarnish his green label. Steyer’s campaign—$50 million of his own, and $50 million from his super PAC, NextGen Climate—is primarily meant to encourage action on global warming……….

teyer doesn’t dispute that he “was for coal before he was against it.” In an op-ed in Politico on Monday, Steyer explained his about-face from hedge fund capitalist to environmental crusader, in an attempt to set the record straight:

[I]t’s true—Farallon did make fossil fuel investments under my watch. But the more I learned about the energy and climate problems we currently face, the more I realized I had to change my life. I concluded that the best way to align my work with my beliefs was to make a real change—leaving my role managing a firm with investments across the industrial spectrum, and instead joining in the global effort to find a solution to climate change once and for all.

Steyer says that he’s completely divested his personal holdings from the fossil fuel industry as of June 30 though certainly that won’t stop the right from claiming that he’s being hypocritical. But that’s missing the point. It’s not Steyer’s dollars (or even the source of those dollars) that will make the biggest difference but his example of putting his money where his mouth is. In his Politico piece, he offers an incredibly personal description of his epiphany and his decision to dedicate himself to tackling global warming on behalf of his children’s generation. Steyer has done something that’s still far too unusual: He’s admitting he was wrong on climate change and that he wants to rectify it. It’s that kind of honesty that we’ll all need to embrace if we’re to face the steep climb of remaking the global economy into one that isn’t tied to carbon with a full head of steam (or, electrons, as the case may be).

Meanwhile, in a world where money defines political clout, most billionaires aren’t as eager to ruffle the status quo. The few who are stand out. Last month, Steyer joined billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and near-billionaire former Goldman Sachs CEO and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to release a high-profile report on the economic effects of climate change in the United States. That report called for the leaders of the business community to address the growing specter of climate change out of their own self-interest: to avoid economic risk. With their billions in annual revenue as part of the fossil fuel industry, the Koch brothers may want to take note……….http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/07/tom_steyer_koch_brothers_billionaires_are_battling_over_climate_change.html

 

What’s going on in Australia’s murky world of “clean coal”?

July 20, 2014

Hear-This-wayThe search for the clean coal holy grail  http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/ The Abbott
government and a group of investors are pinning
their environmental hopes on a clean coal technology that is still in the very early stages of development. Paddy Manning tracks the quest for the clean coal holy grail and investigates the men getting unspeakably rich from the search.

clean coal.psd

The federal government is pinning its hopes of cleaning up Australia’s electricity
sector on a new clean coal technology that is still at the laboratory stage.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has made clear that a key plank of the government’s plan to tackle climate change is reducing emissions from existing black and brown coal-fired power White,-Johnstations……

Ignite Energy Resources, a member of the DICE network, recently recieved a $20 million grant to produce liquid fuel for DICE engines from brown coal, among other things………

photo - Dr John White Executive Director, Ignite Energy Resources

In brief: nuclear and climate news this week

July 19, 2014

a-cat-CANAUSTRALIA

Climate change. International criticism as the Abbott government repeals the carbon tax, leaving Australia with no climate change policy.Scientists demonstrate that human-caused global  warming is causing more severe droughts and floods in Australia. South Western Australia’s long term dry is becoming a big cause for concern

Renewable Energy ‘Maverick’ politicians Clive Palmer and Ricky Muir save The Australian Renewable Energy Agency the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Renewable Energy Target  from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s renewables -destroying axe.  It is clear that the condition for Abbott’s rise to power, courtesy of the fossil fuel industries, was that his central task is to destroy all real action on climate change in Australia.

The remote South Australian town of Coober Pedy is to get  the  second major off-grid project recently supported by ARENA, which is also investing in a 6.7MW solar plus storage installation at Rio Tinto’s Weipa refinery in far north Queensland.  Australian banks face risks if Renewable Energy Target is gutted or abolished.

Wastes. The problem remains of Lucas Heights nuclear wastes due to return from France to Australia in 2015

Uranium industry - current world glut of uranium , and predicted slow return to nuclear in Japan mean that Australia’suranium industry future still looks glum    Even if regulators do approve Cameco’s  Western Australian Kintyre project, it is not now economically viable.

Warren Mundine, Tony Abbott’s appointed top Aboriginal adviser is in the hot spot, with apparent conflict of interestin mining deals in Western Australia.

INTERNATIONAL

Ukraine I cannot yet find information on what the airline tragedy might mean  for nuclear power in Ukraine – and sanctions perhaps on Russia.

Iraq. ISIS insurgents seize nuclear materials

USA  - Radiation Safety Standards The Environment Protection Austhority (EPA)  is calling for comments on its planned update of  “Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations.”   The nuclear lobby is of course very keen to weaken those standards. Sophiticated and disingenuous arguments are being pushed towards that aim.  This is  acomplcated and difficult matter. I would hope that the EPA is concerned first for the public, and second for the nuclear industry, but I doubt this.

Japan. Even with safety clearance Japan’s nuclear reactors might not restartBig protest in Tokyo against nuclear restart.

Fukushima.   Now  available first hand witness: The Yoshida Testimony. The Fukushima Nuclear accident as told by plant manager Masao Yoshida   The ice wall plan to stop leakage of radioactive water is not working

TEPCO workers leaving Fukushima for better paid, clean, safe jobs in solar energy projects. $1 billion in loans forJapan’s solar energy.

Iran Diplomacy struggles on, as the nuclear talks between Iran and the West are extended until November

Renewable Energy. International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that there are now 6.5 direct and indirect jobs in renewable energy.     10 top USA corporations call for renewable energy

 


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