What happened in Australian nuclear news this week?

April 18, 2014

a-cat-CANAustralia’s comedy shows are getting poor audiences this week. Everyone’s focussed on New South Wales and federal politics. My thanks to tweeters “Barry walks the plonk” Che Shiraz Shiraz – whatever will be , will be”

Sorry – I digressed badly there.

Uranium Now we’re going to sell uranium to Saudi Arabia. Such a stable, democratic, Middle Eastern power – no worries about a Middle East nuclear arms race ?

Uranium mining at Ranger: Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) trying to pull a real swiftie. They say they won’t rehabilitate this polluting mine in Kakadu National Park, unless they get approval to start a new underground mine. Meanwhile the parent company Rio Tinto is not prepared to pay for the Ranger clean-up – saying it’s the responsibility of the loss-making ERA.   All bad news for the Mirrar people – they’re ing exploited again , as always, by the nuclear industry.

Australia’s participation in Hiroshima meeting on nuclear disarmament. We refuse to join the non nuclear nations movement towarsds banning nuclear weaposn. We mustn’t be “emotional” about nuclear bombing,, said our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, in Hiroshima.

Politics . (No this is not about a bottle of wine. Stop it!)  The Australian Labor Party in its Not wisdom, is pushing to have mining, uranium mining too, in the radioactively polluted Woomera nuclear weapons test area.

The Liberal government’s response to the IPCC report on climate change?  The Anti Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, announced yesterday that Australia would promote coal and nuclear industries. Not renewable, not energy efficiency. Is it any wonder people are turning to the Greens?  Looks as if Liberal and Labor are now joined at the hip.

New South Wales. A nifty new solar project that should revolutionise remote area energy systems.

Victoria. I bet Greg Hunt wishes that those pesky Morwell people would just shut up, and look after their coal -caused asthma, emphysema, etc. They have started a campaign to keep the Renewable Energy Target.  And they want the government to put money that’s pledged for new brown coal projects into cleaning up Morwell after the Hazelwood coal fire.  Who do they think they are? (“Ohmigawd“, –  thinks the Napthine govt - “they’re voters!“)

Corporate irresponsibility – that’s one thing that Energy Resources of Australia is good at

April 17, 2014

handsoffhttp://www.mirarr.net/media_releases/held-to-ransom-rio-tinto-s-radioactive-legacy-at-kakadu hTHThe Mirarr Traditional Owners of Kakadu National Park (Australia) have accused mining giant Rio Tinto of holding the World Heritage area to ransom by revealing it will not guarantee the rehabilitation of the controversial Ranger uranium mine unless the company’s plans to expand operations at the site are approved. 

ERA, 68% majority owned by Rio, has revealed in its annual report that funding for 
rehabilitation, despite being legally required, is now likely contingent on securing approval for the proposed ‘Ranger 3 Deeps’ underground expansion of the mine. 
…if the Ranger 3 Deeps mine is not developed, in the absence of any other successful 
development, ERA may require an additional source of funding to fully fund the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area. (ERA Annual Report p.17) 
At its London AGM this week Rio Tinto boss Sam Walsh attempted to distance the parent company from Ranger’s rehabilitation, saying it was an issue for ERA. However, Mirarr Traditional Owners said the company has failed in its obligations despite profiting massively from mining the area for the past 30 years. 

“The attitude of Rio and ERA demonstrates little has changed in the more than three decades since Galarrwuy Yunupingu described talks over the Ranger mine as ‘like negotiating with a gun  to my head’,” CEO of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation Justin O’Brien said. 
“The mining giants have made enormous profits at the expense of Mirarr traditional lands and are now holding the Word Heritage listed area to ransom.” 

This comes just months after the spill of 1.4 million litres of toxic slurry, while the mine is shut down and under investigation and while ERA develops its proposal for further mining at Ranger. 
“Rio Tinto is a tenant on Mirarr land. They come and they go. If a tenant told you they weren’t  prepared to fix the damage they caused to your house unless you agreed to give them a longer  term lease, you’d laugh them out of the building – what does this type of announcement say  about these tenants?” asked Mr O’Brien. 

“It is inconceivably thoughtless and arrogant of any mining company to manage its corporate  social responsibilities in this way and regrettably brings to mind the comment made by Mirarr Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula in 2003: ‘The promises never last, but the problems always do’”. 

For further information or comment: Justin O’Brien on 08 8979 2200 or 0427 008 765

Yeah – let’s mine in radioactively polluted nuclear test site – says Australian Labor Party

April 17, 2014

TweedleDum-&-DeeLabor pushes for more mining in South Australian nuclear weapons test range Australian Mining, 16 April, 2014 Ben Hagemann Labor has renewed calls to allow more in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA), urging the Coalition to pass a bill that will facilitate easier access.

Earlier this month a bipartisan committee recommended that the Senate should not support Labor’s WPA amendment bill, raising doubts about access arrangements……..

Mining is currently allowed in the Woomera Protected Area, however the applications process is difficult, and mining companies have been easily rejected on grounds of national security, as was the case in 2009 when a Chinese investor was rejected on those grounds……. The WPA is a military testing range used by Australia and its allies for long range and experimental weapons, and is notorious as the site of nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War.

The site is 450 kilometres from Adelaide with an area of 124,000 square kilometres. …..http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/labor-pushes-for-more-mining-in-south-australian-n

Greens’ Senator Scott Ludlam urges Australia to face the facts on Climate Change

April 17, 2014

Ludlam-in-SenateGreens senator Scott Ludlam says global warming will kill and Australia will cook http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/greens-senator-scott-ludlam-says-global-warming-will-kill-and-australia-will-cook/story-fnkerdda-1226887324936 APRIL 17, 2014

AUSTRALIA is going to cook and people will die through global warming, West Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam says.

Senator Ludlam said Australia needed to stop giving climate sceptics airtime and just get on with the job of responding to climate change.

He said the weather had become a political actor.

“We are swinging back into an El Niño cycle, this country is going to cook and people are going to die. It will be, I think, much harder to sustain the argument that nothing unusual is going on,” he said.

Senator Ludlam rejected suggestions that he was being alarmist or extremist.

“We are in steep trouble here. I don’t think I am being an extremists in just stating the bleeding obvious. The weather is turning violent on us because we have left this for decades,” he said.

Senator Ludlam, re-elected with an increased vote in a re-run of the West Australian senate election, said the solution, renewable energy, was available, but that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was trying to decapitate the industry.

“That’s why people are responding to the sense of urgency that the Greens bring to the table,” he said.

Australia’s “Environment” Minister, Greg Hunt is but a puppet of the coal and nuclear industries

April 17, 2014

Hunt commits to ‘cleaner’ coal, as renewables despair deepens,REneweconomy,  on 16 April 2014 Australian environment minister Greg Hunt, the man most likely to be sympathetic to renewable energy in the current conservative Coalition government, has effectively thrown his lot in with the coal industry. In an interview with the Murdoch-controlled Sky News, Hunt said coal would be a fundamental part of the energy mix for decades and decades, and added algae and coal drying technologies would be the focus of the government’s emissions reduction efforts. Not so much “clean coal” as “cleaner coal”. He also said nuclear energy could provide “relatively low-cost, low emissions or zero emissions energy”, although he said it would not occur in Australia without bipartisan support. Hunt-direct-action The comments from Hunt – once considered a relative moderate in a hard right conservative Coalition government – came as the renewable energy industry reports that large-scale developments are at a standstill, with no new projects committed in Australia during the first quarter of 2014, despite the need for some 8,000MW of new capacity by 2020 to meet the renewable energy target as it now stands. However, the industry is convinced that this target will be diluted following the completion of the current RET review headed by climate change sceptic and pro-nuclear advocate Dick Warburton. The industry is increasingly pessimistic about its prospects. Insiders say recent meetings with various ministers and advisors have increased the gloom, with promises only made that projects already built would not be affected by any changes. Hunt, when pressed on the issue in the Sky interview, said only that the government would be able to offer the renewables industry “certainty” – which could, of course, mean that the target will be less, with no further review for another four years…….. No mention of renewables – or a carbon price – despite new data (quietly) released by Hunt’s department on Tuesday showing that electricity emissions fell 5 per cent in the last calendar year – a fall no doubt due to the combined impacts of the carbon price, renewable energy and falling demand. As this graph below shows, Australian electricity emissions are down nearly 20 per cent from their peak in 2009 (coincidentally the time that solar began booming and demand started to fall).  The big increases have come in transport (53.5 per cent) and fugitive emissions (43 per cent) from coal mines and gas extraction. (The Abbott government’s policies on these sectors are to build more roads and to “extract every molecule of gas” that it can). (graph) Asked specifically about the IPCC’s recommendation of a four-fold increase in renewables, Hunt talked only about cleaning up brown coal power stations. He implicitly dismissed carbon capture and storage (CCS), but embraced coal “drying” – see this story from Crikey’s Paddy Manning for an assessment of this – and repeated his long-held fascination for algae technology, which has yet to move beyond a few small pilot projects. Pressed again about renewables, Hunt said “the extraordinarily prospective technology is about cleaning up the coal fired power stations and Australia is right at the forefront of this.”Australia is also at the forefront of deploying rooftop solar, and in South Australia is at the forefront of integrating high levels of wind and solar energy into the grid. As the energy market operator and statistics have shown, not only has this reduced emissions dramatically, and lowered wholesale electricity costs, it has also forced the early closure of two of the dirtiest power stations in the country – and elsewhere too. Asked again if renewables could reach 80 or even 100 per cent of Australia’s electricity requirements, as AEMO has said is possible, and how various energy research institutes have also pointed out would be lower cost than business as usual, Hunt said:

“Look, I don’t want to make predictions about 2100. What I do think is that we can have a dramatically lower profile for our energy sector. Now, that will be a combination of reduced cost renewables over time. I think that some areas will reduce cost, others may not. It will also be a combination of energy efficiency and then the other part here is cleaning up the existing sources.”

The protection of the Australian coal industry is now the clear policy priority of the new government. Australia’s coal-fired generators, already with nearly one-tenth of their capacity sidelined and the rest with much lower usage – have been pushing back against both the deployment of large- and small-scale renewables, and policies that encourage energy efficiency: both policies that groups from the IEA, the UN, and numerous research institutions have stated are the most cost effective. But, as we have mentioned before, the emergence of solar as a common energy currency, and a potential voter issue means the government needs to tread carefully. As the Australian coal industry has found out to its embarrassment, campaign slogans like “Save our coal” don’t have quite the same ring as, say, “save the reef”. And, as the Guardian and others have pointed out, is open to ridicule. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/hunt-commits-to-cleaner-coal-as-renewables-despair-deepens-7583

Japan’s government returns evacuees first, reveals radiation levels later

April 17, 2014

Radiation study on evacuation zones kept undisclosed for 6 monthhttp://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/140416/radiation-study-evacuation-zones-kept-undisclosed-6-mo The flag-japangovernment kept undisclosed for six months a report on an individual radiation dose study in areas around the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, including a district recently released from an evacuation order.

The study, covering the city of Tamura and the villages of Kawauchi and Iitate, showed that the radiation level in many areas is still beyond 1 millisievert per year — a level the government is seeking to achieve at contaminated lands in the long term.

The government lifted an evacuation order imposed on the Miyakoji district in Tamura on April 1, but the content of the interim report, compiled in October, was not conveyed to the citizens or the local governments before the action was taken.

The government explained the content to local governments later, while the report was posted on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Monday. It also plans to release a final report on Friday. A government team tasked with supporting people affected by the crisis said it did not initially plan to release the interim report but decided to make it public because of the “high attention among residents.”

The team decided to conduct the radiation level study at 43 points in Tamura, Kawauchi and Iitate last July, hoping to address concerns among evacuees seeking to return to their homes.

The study showed that radiation levels measured by individual dosimeters tend to be about 70 percent of those estimated from air dose. Twenty-seven points were also found to be above 1 millisievert per year.

The outcome has raised concerns among the residents that have already returned to their homes.

A 65-year-old man living at his home in the Miyakoji district said, “It was premature to lift the evacuation order. We’ve been deceived.”

The 20-kilometer radius of the Fukushima plant and some areas beyond have been subject to evacuation orders in the wake of the nuclear crisis that began in March 2011.

The Miyakoji district became the first area excluded from the 20-km zone following decontamination and infrastructure restoration efforts.

Australia’s HYPOCRISY on uranium sales to UAE, STUPIDITY on allowing new mine at Ranger

April 16, 2014

a-cat-CANThe Murdoch press, and all the business pages are jubilant : –  Australian uranium to be sold to the United Arab EmiratesAustralian Mining , 16 April 14  - “Australia’s uranium sector will receive a much needed boost with the United Arab Emirates signing a deal that will see it purchase yellow cake produced here. Trade Minister Andrew Robb met with UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah in Abu Dhabi to sign …”

Has Australia no pride?  No understanding of the consequences of its pathetic drive to resurrect the flagging uranium industry. Will Australia go to any country to try and make a few bucks ?  We will sell uranium to India,- non signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, to Russia, notorious for its poor monitoring of where uranium and its wastes go.

Now we’re supposed to rejoice that Australia might sell to United Arab Emirates –  never mind if that triggers off a Middle East nuclear arms race.


At the same time, the Australian government and Australian generally seem oblivious to the mess that uranium mining has made in Kakadu. I mean – it’s only home to traditional Aborigines,  an ecological paradise (or it was) a top Australian tourism attraction.  Having messeed it up environmentally, and messed up financially too, ERA plans to start a new uranium minng venture there – even though they’re too broke to clean up the mess.

Rio Tinto won’t bail out ERA’s Ranger uranium financial mess?

April 16, 2014

Ranger-uranium-mineRio chief tight-lipped on Ranger mine, SMH April 16, 2014 - Peter Ker Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh has refused to guarantee that his company will cover the cost of rehabilitating the Ranger uranium mine near Kakadu, building on uncertainty that was created last month by the Rio subsidiary in charge of the mine.

Energy Resources of Australia – which is 68 per cent owned by Rio – raised eyebrows when it revealed it may need to find new sources of money to meet its rehabilitation commitments for Ranger, which is entirely surrounded by Kakadu National Park.

Under the Ranger permit, ERA must have rehabilitated the site by 2026, and a review of the rehabilitation strategy in 2013 found the cost would be $603 million on a net present cost basis. ERA has $357 million on hand and has ceased mining at Ranger, with the company now exploring for more uranium underground in a bid to find future revenue streams.

In an unusual move, ERA appeared to link the success of that exploration project – known as Ranger 3 Deeps – to its ability to pay for the rehabilitation of the site. “If the Ranger 3 Deeps mine is not developed, in the absence of any other successful development, ERA may require an additional source of funding to fully fund the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area,” the company said in its annual report.Such an outcome would be unusual, as miners are typically compelled to pay for the rehabilitation at the end of a mine’s life through provisions that are made each year.

In ERA’s case, some rehabilitation is already underway and it maintains a trust with the Australian Government which was holding $63.9 million at December 31.

When asked at Tuesday night’s annual meeting of Rio shareholders in London, Mr Walsh indicated he was in no mood to pick up the tab for ERA, particularly after Rio took part in a $500 million equity raising for the company in 2011. “There was a rights issue at ERA to fund the rehabilitation work and those funds are still sitting within that business,” said Mr Walsh.

”(ERA) is a public Australian company and clearly that is an issue for them.

“We are clearly shareholders, but it’s a matter for all shareholders and a matter for the ERA board.”

Environmental sensitivities of another kind were also raised at the AGM, with Rio executives forced to defend the company’s continued involvement in coal mining.

Mr Walsh said Rio did accept that “man made emissions” were responsible for changes in the climate, but the company believed the challenge could be resolved through technological developments rather than by ceasing coal production………

Rio’s Australian AGM will take place on May 8. http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/rio-chief-tightlipped-on-ranger-mine-20140416-36qfi.htmlSMH 

A new global danger – a nuclear-powered Saudi Arabia

April 16, 2014

The risks of a nuclear Saudi Arabia April 7, 2014 by Nick Butler”……….The issue is set out in an excellent new paper for the Belfer Center at Harvard by Olli Heinonen and Simon Henderson. The Saudis’ explanation of their newfound interest in nuclear technology is that they want to use it to produce electric power and to converse oil supplies which can be exported. There is a core of truth in this of course – Saudi Arabia’s domestic oil consumption is rising inexorably and is now more than 3m barrels a day. But, of course, this is exactly the argument used by Iran for its own nuclear research.

Heinonen and Henderson believe the Saudis are preparing the way and giving themselves the option of being able to move beyond civil nuclear power to the point where they could within a matter of months produce some form of weapon. The country undoubtedly has the money to buy whatever is needed and they have close and dangerous allies within Pakistan, a country which is already a nuclear state. Scrutiny by the International Atomic Energy Agency is minimal (bizarrely the organisation spends more money monitoring Jordan) and the Saudis could go a long way down the path to nuclear capability without it becoming obvious until very late in the day.

The prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of the fragile government of Saudi Arabia is bad enough. The country is fundamentally unstable – held together only by force and by the flow of oil money to an ever growing number of citizens who high expectations and low productivity. But equally concerning is that any further conflict in the region – even at a level below the nuclear threshold – could shake the global energy economy to its foundations……..” http://blogs.ft.com/nick-butler/2014/04/07/the-risks-of-a-nuclear-saudi-arabia/

Australia’s top 10 Anti Climate Action activists – named and shamed

April 16, 2014
The Dirty Dozen: Australia’s biggest climate foes, part 1 CRIKEY, CLIVE HAMILTON | APR 15, 2014  Who are the 12 people doing the most to block action on climate change in Australia? With a new government in place, and Australia’s emissions stubbornly high, we name and shame a fresh Dirty Dozen …

Who has been most responsible in recent times for preventing progress in the reduction of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions? The Dirty Dozen — which I originally named in 2006 and updated in 2009  —  are the people who have most effectively denied the science of climate change, lied about its implications, lobbied to water down laws, or provided cover for weak policy.

They are doing most to help turn Australia from a reluctant leader into a proud laggard in responding to the most dire threat to the world’s future. Some are well-known — even if their links and tactics are not — while others do their dirty work behind the scenes. Here is my Dirty Dozen for 2014, in no particular order …

Chris Mitchell

Where to start with The Australian’s editor-in-chief? How about herehere,hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere,herehere or, if you can’t be bothered clicking on all of those, look here or here………

Tony Abbott

What to say that everyone does not already know? ……

Ian McNamara

For too long the presenter of ABC Radio’s Sunday morning program Australia All Over has flown under the radar. When not chatting about the weather in Nuriootpa, Macca’s huge cohort of two million listeners (enough to make other shock jocks weep) is prone to debunking climate science and ridiculing renewable energy. He draws in his salt-of-the-earth listeners with a kind of folksy bush wisdom that has little time for eggheads with PhDs in atmospheric physics. Periodically, listeners complain to the ABC about McNamara’s “pot shots“ at global warming and his penchant for inviting on his right-wing mates……..

….The influence of Bolt on the landscape of climate denial has been exhausted.

Gina Rinehart…….Rinehart is a major funder of the Institute of Public Affairs, the primary conduit of denier talking points in Australia. The IPA’s 70th birthday partylast year was a love-in for the nation’s most powerful climate deniers; Murdoch, Pell, Bolt, Rinehart, Abbott, all co-ordinated by IPA executive director (and former Rio Tinto employee) John Roskam.

Innes Willox……The Australian Industry Group ……Willox has made himself into the enforcer of the greenhouse mafia, pushing the hardest line against measures to limit emissions…….

Ian Plimer

Plimer is the chief ideologist of climate denial in Australia. ….

*Clive Hamilton is professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra and author of Requiem for a Species: Why we resist the truth about climate change. For the second instalment of the Dirty Dozen, read Crikeytomorrow … http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/04/15/the-dirty-dozen-australias-biggest-climate-foes-part-1/


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