Australia just can’t wait to sell uranium to unstable Middle East region

April 23, 2014

Robb Fast-Tracks UAE Uranium Deahttps://newmatilda.com/2014/04/23/robb-fast-tracks-uae-uranium-dea  By Dave Sweeney, 23 April 14 The Federal Government has signed another uranium export deal with a dubious overseas partner – and without inspecting the country’s facilities. We need an independent inquiry, writes Dave Sweeney

In a move that marks the first time Australia uranium would be sold to the Middle East, Trade Minister Andrew Robb is fast-tracking a nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Last week hesigned a new treaty in Dubai worth 800 tonnes of Uranium a year from 2020. But in doing so, the Minister is treating our Parliament as little more than a radioactive rubber stamp.

Aust-two-faced-on-peace

The foundation for these sales was laid by former foreign minister and airline food critic Bob Carr, who signed the initial agreement with the UAE — a country with a secretive, unelected government situated in one of the world’s most insecure regions.

Consequently, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties recently recommended that prior to any ratification of the sales plan, the International Atomic Energy Agency undertake physical inspections of UAE facilities.

But the Federal Government’s failure to take this or any other prudent step, in favour of providing “certainty” to the ailing uranium sector shows it has confused the commercial interest of Australia’s small, high-risk low-return uranium sector with our national interest. Uranium is a small contributor to Australian export revenue and employment, but when it comes to global impact and risk Australian uranium is playing in the major league. The Australian Conservation Foundation has used industry data to examine the sustained gap between the sector’s promise and performance.

The report, Yellowcake Fever: Exposing the Uranium Industry’s Economic Myths, highlights the urgent need for an independent cost-benefit analysis and a comprehensive and transparent assessment of Australia’s uranium trade. The sector’s employment contribution is tiny: the World Nuclear Association estimates there are less than 1800 jobs in Australia’s entire uranium industry, representing just 0.015 per cent of Australian jobs. From 2002 to 2011, uranium sales averaged $627 million annually and accounted for only 0.29 per cent of all national export revenue: small beer, but with a big hangover.

Why sell to the UAE? The seven emirates, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, have one of the least participatory political systems in the world. In 2012, more than 50 human rights activists in the UAE were rounded up and detained without charge following calls for political reform. The Human Rights Watch 2013 world Report describes a worsening human rights situation in the country, with labour rights a particular issue.

The planned uranium sale treaty doesn’t take into account local human rights issues, political changes or broader social upheavals in one of the world’s most volatile regions. It states that the agreement “shall remain in force for an initial period of thirty years and upon expiry of this initial period shall be renewed automatically for successive thirty year periods”. If this is advanced Australia would be locked in. As Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said, the Federal Government should “take a deep breath” and ask “do they really want to be selling ­uranium into the Middle East at the moment?”

Despite the Federal Government’s repeated insistence that the uranium must and will only be used for peaceful purposes, there is clear evidence that international nuclear safeguards are stressed, under-resourced and effectively impossible to police. To simply state that Australian uranium will not be misused is dangerously naïve.

In the shadow of Fukushima — a continuing nuclear crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium — we need policy based on evidence. Instead of fast-tracking irresponsible uranium sales to the UAE and India — or continuing to provide nuclear fuel to nuclear weapon states — we urgently need an independent assessment of the full impacts of Australia’s radioactive and risky uranium trade.

Hanford nuclear waste area has high rate of rare birth defects

April 23, 2014

Rare Birth Defects Still Spiking in Washington State http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/rare-birth-defects-still-spiking-washington-state-n86916 BY JONEL ALECCIA 22 April 14, Seven cases of a rare fatal birth defect were reported in a remote region of Washington state in 2013, making it the fourth consecutive year that rates have more than tripled the national average, health officials said Tuesday.

There’s still no clear reason for the spike in anencephaly, a severe defect in which babies are born missing parts of the brain or skull, according to Washington state health officials. NBC News investigated the issue in February.

But it brings to 30 the number of cases reported since 2010 in the area that includes Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties in central Washington state. The anencephaly rate jumped to 8.7 cases per 10,000 births in the region, far exceeding the national rate of 2.1 cases per 10,000 births.

anencephaly


“We’re really concerned about the fact that the anencephaly rates are still so high,” said Mandy Stahre, an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based in Washington state. “We were sort of hoping that this may have been a statistical anomaly or would go away.”

State and federal officials plan to convene an advisory committee of national experts to review options for investigation and prevention, Stahre said. Next month, they’ll hold “listening sessions” in the community to hear public concerns about the rise in birth defects in the region. “The community members, they live here,” Stahre said. “They may be seeing things that we don’t.”

But that hardly seems like enough, said one mother whose baby was born with spina bifida last year and was considered part of a cluster of cases of neural tube defects in the region.

“It’s good that they want to know everybody’s thoughts, but what are they doing about it?” said Andrea Jackman, 30, who lived in an orchard in Yakima, Wash., while she was pregnant but now lives in Ellensburg. Her daughter, Olivia, is 7 months old.

“Why are they going to put the time and money into chatting with people who don’t know? Do the research.”

Stahre said one of the goals of the advisory committee will be to decide what focus future investigations should take.

“Do we go back and look even further back? Or do we just focus on current conditions and looking foward,” Stahre said.

The new count follows a report last summer that found more than two dozen cases of babies born with anencephaly and other neural tube defects in the region between 2010 and 2013.Researchers found no geographic, seasonal or other type of pattern to the cases, Stahre said.

Medical records indicate low rates of folic acid vitamin supplementation in the region, which has been linked to anencephaly. Other studies have shown ties between the defect and exposure to molds and pesticides. Critics have said state and federal officials need to do detailed interviews and a thorough investigation of the central Washington cluster.

Many local residents are convinced that leaking tanks of nuclear waste from the region’s nearby Hanford nuclear plant must be to blame, but Dr. Edith Cheng, a University Washington Medicine expert on birth defects, said there has not been a good evaluation of the plant’s impact on anencephaly or other problems.

Experts emphasize the need for all women of childbearing age to take folic acid supplements.

Australia’s scientifically illiterate Prime Minister advised by climate denialist Maurice Newman

April 23, 2014

No evidence that man has caused warming Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lateline  Broadcast: 22/04/2014 Reporter: Emma Alberici

Maurice Newman, the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council discusses climate change and says that there is little correlation between carbon dioxide and the warming of the planet.

Transcript

EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: One of Tony Abbott’s first acts in Government was to appoint Maurice Newman as the head of his Business Advisory Council. Mr Newman is the former Chairman of both the Stock Exchange and the ABC. He’s our guest this evening and he joined me earlier in the studio for this exclusive interview. ……..
EMMA ALBERICI: It’s no secret that you don’t agree that man-made CO2 is causing global warming. Given there is now consensus among 97 per cent or so of climate scientists across the world that the view – around the view that human activity is responsible for climate change, what would it take to convince you?………

MAURICE NEWMAN…………the 97 per cent doesn’t mean anything in any event because science is not a consensus issue. Science is whatever the science is and the fact remains there is no empirical evidence to show that man-made CO2, man-made emissions are adding to the temperature on earth. We haven’t had any measurable increase in temperature on earth for the last 17.5 years……
EMMA ALBERICI: ……..Now 195 countries contribute to that. Nineteen academies of science across the world, including I have to say the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO, NASA, the American Academy of Sciences, the British equivalent, the Canadian equivalent, some really reputable bodies around the world are now agreeing that it’s human activity that’s causing climate change. So I’m wondering, who is it that’s influencing you so that is so convincing you otherwise? 

MAURICE NEWMAN: I just look at the evidence. There is no evidence. If people can show there is a correlation between increasing CO2 and global temperature, well then of course that’s something which we would pay attention to. But when you look at the last 17.5 years where we’ve had a multitude of climate models, and this was the basis on which this whole so-called science rests, it’s on models, computer models. And those models have been shown to be 98 per cent inaccurate.

Newman-Moaurice-climate
 

EMMA ALBERICI: By?

MAURICE NEWMAN: By Roy Spencer, who’s carried out a thorough review of all of the models and the empirical data which against both land-based and satellite-based measuring. And they were found to be wrong………

MAURICE NEWMAN: Yes he is a climate scientist.


EMMA ALBERICI: He is. He was at NASA. His colleagues at NASA disagree with him…………

 http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s3990190.htm

Ukraine is a worry, and shows how nuclear reactors are really a TARGET!

April 23, 2014

Why Ukraine’s nuclear power plant crisis has far-reaching ramifications, Adelaide Advertiser, Jim Green , 22 April 14  IT seems likely that Ukraine’s 15 nuclear power reactors will continue operating throughout the unfolding political crisis, and that there will be no attacks on Ukraine’s nuclear plants despite reported threats. Nonetheless the crisis has wideranging nuclear dimensions and ramifications.

Perhaps the most important is that the nuclear security threats draw attention to a question that may, sooner or later, seal the fate of nuclear power: what happens when nuclear-powered nations go to war? Continue operating power reactors and hope that they will not be attacked?

It’s a huge dilemma. There’s no dispute that most nation-states have the military wherewithal to destroy reactors, resulting in widespread radioactive fallout. But for countries such as Ukraine, with a heavy reliance on nuclear power for electricity supply, shutting down reactors would also be highly problematic.

There is a history of nation-states attacking ostensibly peaceful nuclear facilities, such as the destruction of research reactors in Iraq by Israel and the US.

Ukraine’s 15 power reactors are spread across four sites. Nuclear power supplied 44 per cent of Ukraine’s electricity last year – that heavy dependence presumably explains the decision to continue operating reactors despite security concerns.

Protesters seized the headquarters of Ukraine’s energy ministry on January 25, but left hours later. Eduard Stavitskiy, Ukraine’s then energy minister, reportedly said all the country’s nuclear power facilities were put on high alert after the seizure.

In late January, Ukraine’s Security Service reported “anonymous threats to blow up hydropower and nuclear power plants, damage to which may have unforeseen and extremely serious consequences for the population of Ukraine and neighbouring states.” On March 2, Ukraine’s parliament called for international assistance to protect its nuclear power plants……..http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/why-ukraines-nuclear-power-plant-crisis-has-farreaching-ramifications/story-fni6unxq-1226891431319

Pro nuclear advertising infiltrates The Age TV

April 22, 2014

Noel Wauchope, 22 April 14, And, more importantly, when will The Age restore balance with an Australian documentary on nuclear/uranium issues, such as one of David Bradbury’s films?

Early this month The Age TV prominently featured “Pandora’s Promise”, so people across Australia could watch this glossy piece of advertising from the American nuclear front group, The Breakthrough Institute.

Today, I wasn’t able to find that nuclear infomercial on The Age’s TV site. Which is a little reassuring – they seem to be not continuing the promotion.

However, I am disappointed that I have not received a reply to my fully addressed, signed and posted.letter to The Age:

The Age  

Online Editor

PO Box 257 Melbourne VIC 3001

3 April 2014

 I came across The Age TV site, and found the Breakthrough Institute’s film “Pandora’s Promise” there.

 I had recently reviewed this film, on its Australian premiere in Melbourne, and found it to be very glossy and engaging, but essentially  a promotional feature for the nuclear industry.

 So it would bring in some balance if The Age were to show a film with a different point of view – and perhaps an Australian film, rather than American.   David Bradbury, for example, has made a number of films on nuclear/uranium issues – http://www.frontlinefilms.com.au/

 Can you tell me how The Age came to be showing this film?  I assume that Robert Stone and the Breakthrough Institute did not pay The Age to show it

 Sincerely

 Noel Wauchope

As bottom falls out of Small Modular Nuclear Reactor (SMR) plan, Australia is urged to buy them!

April 22, 2014

In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.

America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s.  Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.

But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects Read the rest of this entry »

UK radioactive waste dump will be washed away by rising sea levels

April 22, 2014

nuke-&-seaLThis Huge Nuclear Waste Dump Will Be Washed Away By Rising Sea Levels http://gizmodo.com/uk-nuclear-waste-dump-will-be-washed-away-by-rising-sea-1565513267    21 April 14,  Geoff Manaugh A dumping ground for nuclear waste located near the British coast is “virtually certain” to be washed away by rising sea levels, a new report warns. The UK Environment Agency has admitted that constructing the Drigg Low-Level Waste Repository so near the coast was a mistake, and that one million cubic meters of nuclear waste will begin leaking into the ocean “a few hundred to a few thousand years from now.”

Sounds bad? Pay no attention, then, to current plans to increase the site’s capacity by another 800,000 cubic meters over the next century, adding new waste that will include “radioactive debris from Britain’s nuclear power stations, nuclear submarines, nuclear weapons, hospitals and universities,” the Guardian reports.

It’s interesting to note that, while the site officially contains only low-level waste, there is suspicion that higher-level wastes with correspondingly higher levels of radioactivity could have been dumped there in the past. Recall the incredible tale of Sellafield nuclear power station—the site from which much of the waste now stored at Drigg originates—where records of previous dumping had been thrown away or lost. This led to the terrifying need to advertise in the local newspaper, saying: “We need your help.” Why? Because they had no idea what was buried there.

“Did you work at Sellafield in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s?” the ad asked with false calm. “Were you by chance in the job of disposing of radioactive material? If so, the owners of Britain’s nuclear waste dump would very much like to hear from you: they want you to tell them what you dumped—and where you put it.”

In any case, the coastal tomb at Drigg is all but guaranteed to break apart in the waves and wash its mysterious and harmful contents into the sea. “A few hundred to a few thousand years from now” sounds like a long time, of course, but think of that as potentially little more than the time between us and Shakespeare (400 years), and the terrifying urgency of this becomes more clear. [Guardian]

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) effectively mothballed

April 22, 2014

Another one (or more) bites the dust …http://johnquiggin.com/2014/04/20/another-one-or-more-bites-the-dust/ April 20th, 2014  Coming back yet again to nuclear power, I’ve been arguing for a while that nuclear power can only work (if at all) on the basis of a single standardised design, and that the only plausible candidate for this is the Westinghouse AP1000. One response from nuclear enthusiasts has been to point to possible future advances beyond the Gen III+ approach embodied by the AP1000 (and less promising competitors like EPR). The two most popular have been Small Modular Reactors and Generation IV (fast) reactors. Recent news suggests that both of these options are now dead.

The news on the Small Modular Reactor is that Babcock and Wilcox, the first firm to be selected by the US Department of Energy to develop a prototype, has effectively mothballed the project, sacking the CEO of its SMR subsidiary and drastically scaling back staffWestinghouse already abandoned its efforts. There is still one firm left pursuing the idea, and trying (so far unsuccessfully) to attract investors, but there’s no reason to expect success any time soon.

reactor-types-spin

As regards Generation IV, the technology road map issued by the Gen IV International Forum in 2002 has just been updated. All the timelines have been pushed out, mostly by 10 years or more. That is, Gen IV is no closer now than it was when the GenIV initiative started. In particular, there’s no chance of work starting on even a prototype before about 2020, which puts commercial availability well past 2035. Allowing for construction time, there’s no prospect of electricity generation on a significant scale before 2050, by which time we will need to have completely decarbonized the economy.

U.S. Navy covering up on radiation exposure to its navymen who helped at Fukushima

April 22, 2014

Is America Abandoning its Bravest Heroes Yet Again?, WhoWhatWhy  By  on Apr 21, 2014  “……….What Did the U.S. Navy Know?

Whether the plaintiffs succeed in holding the Japanese utility liable, the case raises important questions about the role and responsibility of the U.S. Navy:

   Why did the U.S. Navy insist from the beginning that it was safe for its troops to remain in the vicinity of three reactor meltdowns?
   After having gone to the trouble of setting up a medical registry to track radiation-related illnesses—the Operation Tomodachi Registry—why did the U.S. Department of Defense decide not to monitor the health of the nearly 75,000 DOD-affiliated citizens—military personnel and their family members—who were in or near Japan during and after the Fukushima meltdowns?
   Why is there no mention of radiation exposure in many of the sailors’ military medical files, even those people specifically assigned jobs involving radiation decontamination?
   Why, given the mounting evidence of illnesses known to be triggered by radiation exposure, is radiation dismissed as a possible cause?………http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/04/21/america-abandoning-bravest-heroes-yet/

Underground radioactive water a problem, as ground sinks below Fukushima’s nuclear reactors

April 22, 2014

Top Nuclear Official: “Ground sinking” beneath Fukushima reactor buildings a concern — Gov’t experts looking closely at risks from changes to flow of underground water http://enenews.com/top-nuclear-official-ground-sinking-beneath-fukushima-reactor-buildings-a-concern-govt-experts-closely-looking-into-risks-from-changes-to-undergroud-water-flow

NHK WORLDApr. 21, 2014: Japan’s nuclear regulator and experts are questioning the safety of plans to build frozen walls to [...] prevent groundwater from flowing beneath the reactor buildings. [...] The government and TEPCO want to start construction in June. [...] The NRA invited experts to a meeting last Friday [...] NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa expressed concern about the risk of the ground sinking. [...] They said all the risks need to be addressed further. The NRA decided to continue to closely look into the safety of the planned frozen walls.

NHK WORLDApr. 21, 2014: Some contamination in the groundwater drawn from near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is making the area’s fishermen uneasy, as the plant’s operator plans to release it into the sea. Tokyo Electric Power Company has a plan to pump up groundwater and release it into the Pacific Ocean [...]

USGS“More than 80 percent of the identified subsidence in the United States is a consequence of human impact on subsurface water”

text-Fukushima-2014

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