Australia’s Anti Environment Minister Greg Hunt squirms when questioned on Climate Change

October 29, 2014

a-cat-CANThere’s a sort of exquisite pleasure in watching a fool squirming.

I mean – in Christian charity, I should be feeling sorry for Greg Hunt, Australia’s hapless Anti-Environment Minister.  But I just couldn’t help my schadenfreude in watching as Leigh Sales skewered Greg Hunt on the ABC 7.30 Report last night http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/      (If you’re not familiar with schadenfreude, look it up. Because many Australians are going to feel this feeling as they watch Australian Government Ministers explaining their Climate Lack of Policy over coming months.

Anyway – I can’t help feeling that it was fun.  English teachers across the nation can use Greg Hunt as a perfect example of double-speak and wobbly words.   Mr Hunt struggled to not answer Leigh Sales’ quite clear and simple question:

Why are you wasting tax-payers’ money on reviewing emissions trading schemes, when you have stated that this government will never have an emissions trading scheme?”

Poor Greg floundered about, and in this and subsequent interviews, he has been a sample case in weasel words, such as  “Let me be quite clear” and  “at the end of the day”

Hunt-direct-action

Christine Milne on theAustralian govt’s latest move against action on Climate Chnage

October 29, 2014

Milne,-Christine-1Christine Milne , 30 Oct 14 Just over 100 days ago, Clive Palmer and Tony Abbott got together to destroy the efficient and effective Emissions Trading Scheme.

Today Mr Palmer and Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced that they’ve reached a deal to create a $2 billion slush fund for polluters. They’re calling it ‘Direct Action’ and they’re trying to convince people that it will reduce pollution, when there is no modelling or other evidence that it will do anything of the sort.

Australians aren’t so easily duped.

Palmer and Abbott have absolute contempt for every Australian who wants strong action on global warming. If Palmer was even remotely serious, he’d get out of the coal business instead of expanding it.

We had a strong and effective set of policies in place to tackle global warming. Clive Palmer and Tony Abbott tore them up. Now they’re pretending to care about our climate, all while making sure that big polluters get a massive taxpayer handout and carry on with business as usual.

poster-Greens-Palmer

Clive Palmer does deal with Australian government to pas its (useless) “Direct Action” Climate Change Policy

October 29, 2014

Direct Action set to pass Senate after Government strikes deal with Clive Palmer ABC News, By political correspondent Emma Griffiths, 29 Oct 14 Tony Abbott’s plan for a $2.5 billion Direct Action emissions reduction fund is set to pass the Senate after the Government made several concessions to win over the support of Palmer United Party and other crossbench senators.

PUP leader Clive Palmer won a Government commitment to salvage the Climate Change Authority and to ask it to conduct an 18-month review of the PUP plan to legislate an emissions trading scheme (ETS) at a zero rate.

“The authority will conduct a review examining whether there are emissions trading arrangements in other countries and what form they take,” Environment Minister Greg Hunt said………

Under the Direct Action plan, polluters would be paid to reduce emissions, in a scheme which has been estimated to cost more than $2.5 billion over four years……..

Greens leader Christine Milne has slammed the direct action policy as “embarrassing”.

“What we have here is no contribution to bringing down emissions, no modelling to backing up the claims, a government and Clive Palmer which tore down an emissions trading scheme which was bringing down emissions,” she said.

In July, the Coalition succeeded in scrapping the carbon tax with PUP support……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-29/direct-action-set-to-pass-senate/5851914

Nuclear news this week

October 13, 2014

a-cat-CANAUSTRALIA

The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) met in Alice Springs, with impressive representation from 14 Aboriginal nations, and 16 prominent community organisations from across the land. Their 2014 statement can be read at Beyond Nuclear Initiative . It covers Radioactive waste, Uranium mining, Mine rehabilitation, Women’s health, Men’s health, Weapons, Rare Earths, Land Councils, and the ANFA Network.

Australian National University (ANU) announcing it is divesting from fossil fuel investment. Credit to the students who lobbied so hard for this. Credit to ANU too, BUT – the university is keeping its investments in those unethical uranium mining companies BHP and Rio Tinto.

Australia’s Dr Helen Caldicott (- a prophet without honour in her own country?) is speaking publicly at a number of venues in USA – the National Press Club , in Plymouth, Massachusetts,  and with Ralph Nader  at  October 25 – 26  – New York TEACH-IN:  TECHNO-UTOPIANISM & THE FATE OF THE EARTH.

Abbott’s latest ?achievements – Squashing renewable energy development initiatives,.  Also Abbott posed sentimentally with Aboriginal children, while his government erodes Aboriginal land rights with 99 year leases. Abbott government is ignoring the effect that climate change will have, is already having, on Aboriginal communities, disempowering remote communities,  cutting funding to Aboriginal child and family centres, cutting funding to Indigenous legal aid,  and a Budget plan to  remove half a billion dollars from Indigenous programs administered by the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Health portfolios.Meanwhile – off to war without any community consultation, no formal debate in Parliament, despite Greens’ efforts to initiate one.

Interesting digression. Have you been watching ABC TV’s “The Code”  (ABC TV Sundays 8.30 pm)? Its story centres around  a truck accident, in which uranium – some kind of  radioactive gas was released  Last night’s episode revealed that the fictional company Physanto was transporting uranium  – in  a secret bid to develop Laser Enrichment Technology..

Strange, as that technology has already been developed by Silex. with ANSTO’s support (or I think it was an offshoot of ANSTO)
Silex sold it, with great fanfare, to GE. GE subsequently abandoned it  – for reasons of (a) cost, and (b) its potential for nuclear weapons proliferation.
INTERNATIONAL
Japan. Authorities exercise tight control over public meetings held to persuade communities to back nuclear power.
Fukushima – Recent typhoon caused big increase in radioactive releases
USA . New nuclear build cannot go ahead without reactor licenses, which must comply with Atomic Energy Act. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s new Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) is not likely to meet the requirements of the Act, in relation to waste disposal. New legal action can be expected, to contest the GEIS.
Federal judge upholds the ban on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.
New book by Julian Assange  When Google Met WikiLeaks examines Google’s role in USA ‘s surveillance operations.
UK - approval from EU for UK’s Hinkley nuclear project is not well received by economists, as well as by environmentalists. The Hinkley project is by no means a done deal.
Anniversary of Windscale nuclear accident last week. Information on this accident now declassified.
Radioactive waste transport ship catches fire. drifts off course – oil rig crew evacuated.
Canada’s Nuclear Safety Commission orders potassium iodide tablets and emergency instructions to be given to all residents in the range of eight to 16 kilometres of a nuclear power plant, and pills ready for an 80-kilometre zone kept at nuclear plants.
South Africa – secret deals with nuclear industries of Russia and France have got the government into a political mess.
South Korea –  City of Samcheok votes NO to nuclear power
Czech Republic US-Japanese company Westinghouse Electric Company pretty desperate to sell nuclear reactors, is adopting the nuke lobby’s new strategy of financing the purchase. Westinghouse pays now, the nation pays up forever afterwards.
Iran. With all that’s going on in the Middle East, the need for reconciliation with Iran is now urgent

Full parliamentary scrutiny needed on Australia-India nuclear deal – says John Carlson

October 3, 2014

Australia-India nuclear deal: The need for full parliamentary scrutiny, The Interpreter, John Carlson, 1 Oct 14  In a previous post, I pointed out how the Australia-India nuclear cooperation agreement departs from Australia’s longstanding safeguards requirements. In particular, there is a risk that the follow-on ‘administrative arrangement’ could deprive Australia of the ability to track and account for Australian uranium supplied to India.

It is not too late to address this problem in a way that ensures the agreement is meaningful and can command bipartisan support in Australia. There will be a crucial role here for the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT), which will have the opportunity to scrutinise the agreement and to ask the necessary and difficult questions about the administrative arrangement.

Here there are two practical issues: the administrative arrangement has not yet, as far as we know, been negotiated, so it will not be available when JSCOT commences its review of the agreement; and in any case it is the usual practice to treat administrative arrangements as being confidential.

The Abbott Government should proceed no further with the agreement unless it can give an assurance that all of Australia’s longstanding safeguards requirements will be met. Of course, the Government may try to dismiss any discussion of the administrative arrangement as being merely speculation. The problem is that, in considering the potential impact of such a confidential document, the public and the Parliament may never know the facts. Yet, a way needs to be found to ensure that a confidential document does not negate the effective operation of a treaty-level agreement.

Therefore, when the agreement is brought to JSCOT for review, the Committee should insist on examining the terms of the proposed administrative arrangement. If necessary, given the sensitivities, this can be done in a closed session. The key question for JSCOT will be whether the terms of the administrative arrangement will enable Australia to confirm that its safeguards conditions are fully met and that Australian uranium and other nuclear material subject to the India agreement is properly accounted for.

This may take some time. The Committee may need to withhold its final conclusions on the agreement until the text of the administrative arrangement is available. It would help if the Government were to make the text publicly available.

Both major parties in Australian politics now support the principle that Australia should be able to sell uranium to India to help it meet its energy needs, subject to proper safeguards. However, a nuclear agreement with India should be on the same conditions Australia applies to our other partners, not terms dictated by India.

Even some supporters of closer Australia-India ties have made the point that safeguards should discriminate neither against India nor for it. Australia has demonstrated good faith to India by reversing our longstanding policy with respect to the NPT and signing a civil nuclear agreement. It is up to India to demonstrate good faith by accepting the same safeguards arrangements as all our other nuclear partners.

John Carlson AM is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. He was Director General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office and its predecessor the Australian Safeguards Office from 1989 to 2010. http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2014/10/01/Australia-India-nuclear-deal-The-need-for-full-parliamentary-scrutiny.aspx

Uranium industry lackey Campbell Newman erodes community rights

October 3, 2014

To many Traditional Owners, these places are known as sickness country, or poison country, and are often considered sacred. Upsetting the poison and letting out into the landscape would be a disaster, particularly in the life giving and food providing Mitchel River basin.

The Bill, passed in parliament in early September, gives the Coordinator General the power to exclude community objection rights over some of the largest mining projects

Newman,-Campbell-jackbootsMining companies now have more rights than the community in Newman’s Queensland http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/10/01/comment-mining-companies-now-have-more-rights-community-newmans-queensland  1 Oct 14    Queenslanders have more reason than ever to be concerned about uranium mining in the sunshine state. By  Andrew Picone Back in 2012 Queensland Premier Campbell Newman made a series of ‘crystal clear’ commitments to keep the door closed to uranium mining in Queensland. In a letter to former ACF CEO Don Henry, Newman wrote “I take this opportunity to reaffirm my statements, made before the last election, that the State Government has no plans to approve the development of uranium in Queensland”.

It proved to be one of his first broken promises. Just a fortnight later this commitment was dumped, without any independent assessment or community consultation. Uranium mining would not just be permitted in Queensland, the Premier started actively encouraging uranium mining companies to set up shop in the sunshine state.

Fast forward to 2014 and Queenslanders have more reason than ever to be concerned. In an echo of the heavy handed police state politics that so characterized former Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen, the Queensland government’s hand-picked co-ordinator general will now have sole authority over major new mining projects.

Proposed legislative changes introduced in the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014, literally rushed through the Parliament at five minutes to midnight on September 9th 2014, in particular provision 47D entitled ‘restriction in giving of objection notice under the Environmental Protection Act’ – should sound the community alarm.  

All large scale resource developments including the majority of coal, bauxite and uranium mines that are deemed by the government to be ‘State significant projects’ may no longer eligible for objection from anyone including farmers near or under the mining lease, neighbours, local communities or organised groups, or local Councils.

That means companies like the French nuclear corporation Areva who are currently exploring the Carpenteria Basin in Cape York and the Gulf country for uranium deposits may find themselves immune to community objections if they decide to advance their current uranium mining projects from the exploration to the construction stage. For the record, Areva have stated that it believes Australia has the potential to host uranium resources equivalent to a country like Kazakhastan producing about 4000 tonnes of uranium per year.On Cape York Peninsula, Areva have largely flown under the radar, but are believed to have been interested in exploring in the Mitchell and Alice River basins and areas further south and south west. Much of the country subject to recent exploration has been identified in old geological report as having detectible levels of surface radiation.

To many Traditional Owners, these places are known as sickness country, or poison country, and are often considered sacred. Upsetting the poison and letting out into the landscape would be a disaster, particularly in the life giving and food providing Mitchel River basin.

But regardless of whether you live next door, downstream or elsewhere, your rights to contest mining proposals has just been sunk. The Newman Government has just passed the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014 and when enacted as law, will take away your rights to contest 90% of mining projects according to the Environment Defenders Office.

If you wanted to object to Waratah Coal’s China First mine in defence of the Bimblebox nature refuge, too bad. If you live in Townsville and don’t like the idea of a uranium mine a couple of hundred kilometres up stream, I’m afraid you’re no longer entitled to object. The same goes if you live in Brisbane and you think the Laura rock art up on Cape York is more important than a coal or diamond mine.

This year we hope to see the Queensland Government finalise negotiations with Traditional Owners to deliver national park status to Shelburne Bay, a jewel in the crown of Cape York Peninsula. Minister Cripp’s would do well to remember that it was the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland that objected to that mine in 1985. But under the proposed laws introduced by the Minister for Mines, the spectacular dunes and habitats of Shelburne Bay would have been lost forever, with no right to contest such proposals available today.The Bill, passed in parliament in early September, gives the Coordinator General the power to exclude community objection rights over some of the largest mining projects. In addition, what the government call ‘low-risk’ mines, or standard applications’ will also be exempt.

As for high-risk mines, community objection rights have been diminished and councils, landholders and others will only narrowly defined grounds for objection – none of which have anything to do with the environment. These amendments to Queensland’s laws are absolutely appalling and a true travesty of democracy. Mining companies, both small and large, can now run roughshod over anyone with no redress.

As the Abbott government talks up a vision to develop Northern Australia with short-sighted and ill-informed plans for mass industrialisation of an already water-starved landscape to turn it into the food bowl of Asia, the community ought to be deeply concerned about the erosion of our democratic rights to stand up and make our objections known.

Andrew Picone is ACF’s Northern Australia Project Officer, he is based in Cairns
 

The unsellable Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

October 3, 2014

‘New’ reactor types are all nuclear pie in the sky Ecologist Dr Jim Green 2nd October 2014 “……….In any case, IFRs are yesterday’s news.

Now it’s all about Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). The Energy Green Paper recently released by the Australian government is typical of the small-is-beautiful rhetoric:In any case, Integral Fast Nuclear Reactors (IFRs) are yesterday’s news.  Now it’s all about Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). The Energy Green Paper recently released by the Australian government is typical of the small-is-beautiful rhetoric:

“The main development in technology since 2006 has been further work on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). SMRs have the potential to be flexibly deployed, as they are a simpler ‘plug-in’ technology that does not require the same level of operating skills and access to water as traditional, large reactors.”

The rhetoric doesn’t match reality. Interest in SMRs is on the wane. Thus Thomas W. Overton, associate editor of POWER magazine, wrote in a recent article:

SMRs-mirage“At the graveyard wherein resides the “nuclear renaissance” of the 2000s, a new occupant appears to be moving in: the small modular reactor (SMR). … Over the past year, the SMR industry has been bumping up against an uncomfortable and not-entirely-unpredictable problem: It appears that no one actually wants to buy one.”

Overton notes that in 2013, MidAmerican Energy scuttled plans to build an SMR-based plant in Iowa. This year, Babcock & Wilcox scaled back much of its SMR program and sacked 100 workers in its SMR division. Westinghouse has abandoned its SMR program. As he explains:

“The problem has really been lurking in the idea behind SMRs all along. The reason conventional nuclear plants are built so large is the economies of scale: Big plants can produce power less expensively per kilowatt-hour than smaller ones.

“The SMR concept disdains those economies of scale in favor of others: large-scale standardized manufacturing that will churn out dozens, if not hundreds, of identical plants, each of which would ultimately produce cheaper kilowatt-hours than large one-off designs.

“It’s an attractive idea. But it’s also one that depends on someone building that massive supply chain, since none of it currently exists. … That money would presumably come from customer orders – if there were any. Unfortunately, the SMR “market” doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

“SMRs must compete with cheap natural gas, renewables that continue to decline in cost, and storage options that are rapidly becoming competitive. Worse, those options are available for delivery now, not at the end of a long, uncertain process that still lacks [US Nuclear Regulatory Commission] approval.”

Can’t find customers, can’t find investors

Dr Mark Cooper, Senior Fellow for Economic Analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School, notes that two US corporations are pulling out of SMR development because they cannot find customers (Westinghouse) or major investors (Babcock and Wilcox). Cooper points to some economic constraints:

“SMR technology will suffer disproportionately from material cost increases because they use more material per MW of capacity. Higher costs will result from: lost economies of scale; higher operating costs; and higher decommissioning costs. Cost estimates that assume quick design approval and deployment are certain to prove to be wildly optimistic.”

Academics M.V. Ramana and Zia Mian state in their detailed analysis of SMRs:“Proponents of the development and large scale deployment of small modular reactors suggest that this approach to nuclear power technology and fuel cycles can resolve the four key problems facing nuclear power today: costs, safety, waste, and proliferation.

“Nuclear developers and vendors seek to encode as many if not all of these priorities into the designs of their specific nuclear reactor. The technical reality, however, is that each of these priorities can drive the requirements on the reactor design in different, sometimes opposing, directions.

“Of the different major SMR designs under development, it seems none meets all four of these challenges simultaneously. In most, if not all designs, it is likely that addressing one of the four problems will involve choices that make one or more of the other problems worse.”

The future is in … decommissioning

Likewise, Kennette Benedict, Executive Director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,states“Without a clear-cut case for their advantages, it seems that small nuclear modular reactors are a solution looking for a problem.

“Of course in the world of digital innovation, this kind of upside-down relationship between solution and problem is pretty normal. Smart phones, Twitter, and high-definition television all began as solutions looking for problems.

“In the realm of nuclear technology, however, the enormous expense required to launch a new model as well as the built-in dangers of nuclear fission require a more straightforward relationship between problem and solution.

“Small modular nuclear reactors may be attractive, but they will not, in themselves, offer satisfactory solutions to the most pressing problems of nuclear energy: high cost, safety, and weapons proliferation.”

And as Westinghouse CEO Danny Roderick said in January: “The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment – it’s that there’s no customers.”

Instead of going for SMRs, IFRs, Pebble Bed Reactors or thorium technologies, Westinghouse is looking to triple the one area where it really does have customers: its decommissioning business. “We see this as a $1 billion-per-year business for us”, Roderick said.

With the world’s fleet of mostly middle-aged reactors inexorably becoming a fleet of mostly ageing, decrepit reactors, Westinghouse is getting ahead of the game.

The writing is on the wall

Some SMR R&D work continues but it all seems to be leading to the conclusions mentioned above. Argentina is ahead of the rest, with construction underway on a 27 MWe reactor – but the cost equates to an astronomical US$15.2 billion per 1,000 MWe. Argentina’s expertise with reactor technology stems from its covert weapons program from the 1960s to the early 1980s…………. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2577637/new_reactor_types_are_all_nuclear_pie_in_the_sky.html

October 3, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment | Edit

USA now doesn’t want Australia to get nuclear submarines

US cools on nuclear subs for AustraliaThe United States has gone cold on its close ally Australia acquiring or leasing Virginia class nuclear submarines to replace the ageing Australian-built, diesel-electric Collins class. (subscribers only) http://www.afr.com/p/national/us_cools_on_nuclear_subs_for_australia_pFZuUHylgfi2w6aPkJZnwO

Australia’s uranium deal with India is condemned by John Carlson, former head of Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation

October 1, 2014

See below a very strong critique of the Australia-India nuclear cooperation agreement from John Carlson, former head of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, who worked tirelessly for many years to weaken safeguards standards …

It is not good enough to simply say that we trust India because it has an ‘impeccable’ non-proliferation record (and India’s record in any case is not ‘impeccable’).The reporting procedures are not optional; they are fundamental to Australia’s ability to confirm that our safeguards conditions are being met. They have long applied to close and trusted partners such as the US, the EU, Japan and South Korea. There is absolutely no case to waive them for India.

Is the Abbott Government abandoning Australia’s nuclear safeguards standards for India? John Carlson AM is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. He was Director General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office and its predecessor the Australian Safeguards Office from 1989 to 2010. Lowy Interpreter,  1 October 2014 http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/?COLLCC=737147385& 

The signing last month of a civil nuclear cooperation agreement between Australia and India has been greeted as an important step towards closer relations between the two countries, as well as bringing India into the global nuclear energy mainstream. These are worthy objectives, but not at any cost.

Now that the text of the agreement has been quietly made public, some substantial departures from Australia’s current safeguards conditions are evident. These suggest, disturbingly, that Australia may be unable to keep track of what happens to uranium supplied to India.

In this post I will explain what is wrong with the Australia-India nuclear cooperation agreement and why it appears that the Abbott Government may be abandoning Australia’s longstanding safeguards requirements for India. In a subsequent post I will explain what can and should be done about it.

Negotiations for the agreement began under the Gillard Government in 2012, after Labor came around to an in-principle acceptance of uranium exports to India provided they were properly safeguarded. This was always going to be contentious, primarily because of Australia’s longstanding policy against supplying uranium to countries outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

It is short-sighted and self-defeating to make the agreement even more contentious by compromising Australia’s safeguards standards. This will jeopardise bipartisan support for the agreement, raising the prospect of future governments suspending exports under it. It will also expose the agreement to potential legal challenge under the 1987 Safeguards Act, and it risks re-opening the wider uranium debate in Australia. None of this is in the interests of the Australian or Indian governments or of the nuclear industry in either country.

Two documents are critically important here. First, let’s look more closely at the agreement itself. It departs in the following ways from Australia’s standard requirements on countries receiving our uranium:

  •  Consent to reprocessing – reprocessing, involving separation of plutonium from spent fuel, is the most sensitive stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. To date Australia’s consent to reprocessing has been limited to the EU and Japan, and has been given on what is called a programmatic basis, i.e. Australia has approved the specific ‘downstream’ facilities using separated plutonium and the purposes involved. In this agreement, however, Australia has effectively given consent in advance for India to reprocess in accordance with an ‘arrangements and procedures’ document India concluded with the US in 2010. This covers safeguards at two reprocessing plants which India plans to build, but includes only a vague reference to management of plutonium, and nothing corresponding to programmatic consent;

 

  • Right of return – Australia’s standard conditions include a right for Australia to require the return of material and items if there is a breach of an agreement. This agreement contains no such provision;

 

  • Fallback safeguards – Australia’s standard condition is that, if for any reason IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards cease to apply, the parties are to establish safeguards arrangements that conform with IAEA safeguards principles and procedures and provide equivalent assurance. This agreement requires only that the parties consult and agree on ‘appropriate verification measures’, a vague term readily open to differing interpretations;

 

  • Settlement of disputes – Australia’s standard requirement is for negotiation, backed by an arbitration process. This agreement refers only to negotiation, with no mechanism for resolving deadlock.

 

Even more consequential than the agreement itself may be a second, follow-on text that the public may never get to see, a so-called ‘administrative arrangement’ which sets out the working procedures for the agreement. Officials are presumably working on this at present. The key question here is, will this administrative arrangement enable Australia to track and account for the nuclear material that is subject to the agreement with India?

The administrative arrangement should set out detailed procedures for identifying and accounting for the specific nuclear material to which the agreement applies. This includes not only the initially-supplied Australian uranium, but all subsequent generations of material derived from it, especially plutonium. If it is not possible to apply the agreement’s provisions to specific material, the agreement will be meaningless.

 

To be effective, these procedures need to include a requirement for regular reports to Australia showing the flow of material under the agreement through the nuclear fuel cycle in India. Australia needs to be able to track and account for this ‘Australian-obligated nuclear material’. This is both a proper public expectation and a legal requirement under section 51 of the Safeguards Act.

 

Bipartisan support for, and public acceptance of, uranium exports is based on the assurance that Australia is able to track our material and determine that our conditions are being met. Australia’s safeguards requirements were developed by the Fraser Government, are in line with international standards, and have been applied under all our safeguards agreements ever since – today we have 22 agreements covering 40 countries.

 

Disturbingly, it is reported that Indian officials will not provide Australia with reports accounting for material under the agreement, and that the Abbott Government seems prepared to waive this requirement for India. The same issue has arisen under India’s arrangements with the US and Canada. In response, Washington has held firm: the US-India administrative arrangement has been outstanding for several years; reportedly the US is insisting on receiving tracking information and India is refusing.

In the case of Canada, the Harper Government gave in to India, an outcome described as the ‘meltdown of Canadian non-proliferation policy’. The Canadian Government refuses to reveal the details of its arrangement. If Australia follows Canada down this path, it will put the wrong kind of pressure on the US, the EU and Japan in their own dealings with India.

 

Apparently India considers that its acceptance of IAEA safeguards should be good enough. But India’s refusal to provide reports on Australian supplied material calls into question whether India will in fact identify and account for this material, as required by the agreement. If India will account for this material, the additional effort in providing reports to Australia should cause India no problem. However if it will not account for the material, India will be in breach of the agreement.

 

Why is India being so difficult on this issue? India has an expanding nuclear weapon program. It has not fully separated its military and civilian nuclear programs and some facilities are still dual-purpose. India’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA does not impose the same restrictions as bilateral agreements in areas such as reprocessing, higher enrichment, retransfers to third countries, research and development or the production of tritium (which has uses in nuclear weapons).

 

If India succeeds in delinking foreign-obligated nuclear material from individual bilateral agreements, making it impossible to identify which batch of material is covered by which agreement, then India could work a ‘pea and thimble’ trick in which no supplier could tell whether their material was being used contrary to bilateral conditions. The mere possibility of this is sufficient to call into question India’s commitment to observing bilateral agreements.

 

Without proper reporting, Australia has no way of knowing whether India is in reality meeting its obligations to identify and account for all the material that is subject to the agreement, and to apply Australia’s safeguards conditions to this material. It is not good enough to simply say that we trust India because it has an ‘impeccable’ non-proliferation record (and India’s record in any case is not ‘impeccable’).The reporting procedures are not optional; they are fundamental to Australia’s ability to confirm that our safeguards conditions are being met. They have long applied to close and trusted partners such as the US, the EU, Japan and South Korea. There is absolutely no case to waive them for India.

AREVA to get 51% interest, later up to 80%, in uranium deal with Toro Energy

October 1, 2014

AREVA-Medusa1Toro signs NT deal with AREVA https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/wa/a/25132512/toro-signs-nt-deal-with-areva/ The West AustralianSeptember 29, 2014 Toro Energy has signed a farm-in and joint venture agreement with French uranium and nuclear power giant AREVA in the Northern Territory.

The agreement covers a 2292sqkm tenement package in the Wiso Basin, southwest of Tennant Creek.

“Toro believes that its relatively unexplored Wiso Basin tenement package is ideally placed for exploring for a sandstone-hosted uranium mineralising system of a size and scale not unlike those found in Kazakhstan, where six of the world’s top 15 producing uranium mines are currently in operation,” the company said in a statement.

Toro’s managing director Dr Vanessa Guthrie said the company was excited to have AREVA participate in a substantial exploration portfolio at a time when few companies were actively exploring for uranium in Australia.

“We look forward to adding value to our NT exploration targets through a long and beneficial relationship with one of the world’s most respected uranium groups,” she said. Under the terms of the agreement, AREVA will spend $500,000 within two years of to earn a 51 per cent interest in the joint venture properties.

Upon reaching 51 per cent, AREVA will then have the option to spend another $1.5 million over four years for a further 29 per cent interest for a total 80 per cent stake.

Drilling is expected to begin in the first half of 2015.

Toro shares closed steady at 9.1 cents.

Listen up, Climate Sceptics: researchers find Australia’s 2013 heatwave due to global warming

October 1, 2014

heat_waveAustralia’s 2013 heatwave due to climate change, researchers conclude http://www.theage.com.au/environment/australias-2013-heatwave-due-to-climate-change-researchers-conclude-20140930-10o1sj.html September 30, 2014   National political reporter Record temperatures in Australia in 2013 were almost certainly caused by man-made climate change, five separate studies have found.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and the University of NSW have concluded it is “virtually impossible” that the heatwaves that hit Australia in 2013 would have occurred were it not for carbon emissions caused by human activity.

The reports have been published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society as part of a global project examining the impact of climate change on extreme weather.

The results, which are the strongest statement yet on the impact of climate change on Australia’s weather patterns, are a wake-up call for the Abbott government a week after it was criticised for failing to take beefed-up emissions reduction targets to a special summit of world leaders in New York.

Five teams of researchers examined the heat that baked Australia for much of 2013, leading to the hottest day, month, spring and summer since records began.

They concluded that the record temperatures for the whole of that year would almost certainly not have occurred without man-made climate change and that the chance of heatwaves occurring was more than 2000 times greater because of human-caused climate change.

Professor David Karoly, one of the authors, said the results mark the first time that researchers had concluded that a specific weather event couldn’t or most likely couldn’t have occurred in Australia without the increase in greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity.

“The Prime Minister last year said that studies hadn’t been done and the CSIRO cautioned against attributing individual extreme weather events to climate change,” Professor Karoly said.

“Now the studies have been done and the results are very clear.”

The teams of researchers used a variety of computer-based simulations that modelled 20th and early 21st century temperatures.

One set of models factored in natural variations in climate and human influences on climate, while another set showed what temperatures would have looked like without man-made climate change.

Out of 12,500 simulated years, only one result in the latter group produced temperatures higher than those seen in Australia in 2005 – the hottest year before 2013 – and none as hot as 2013.

“There was an increase in the frequency of heatwaves in 2013 and the intensity of heatwaves due to climate change,” Professor Karoly said “It was three times the frequency and two times the intensity.


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