Many decades to cleanup Ranger uranium mine. Taxpayers to cop these costs?

July 1, 2015

as Ranger was authorised by the Commonwealth Government under 1953 Atomic Energy Act which primarily allowed the uranium to be used for military purposes, the Commonwealth and, ultimately the taxpayers, could be liable for the clean up if ERA was bankrupted.

Ranger-pitERA faces closure after uranium miner’s expansion plans shelved by Rio Tinto, ABC News, 30 June 15  By business reporter Stephen Letts Sorry history, uncertain environmental legacy Apart from the discharge of a million litres of radioactive slurry in 2013, Ranger has a sorry history of accidents with more than 200 environmental incidents being reported to government agencies since 1979.

Just how much Ranger’s clean-up will cost is open to question. Under existing legislation, once the lease expires early in 2021, ERA has five years to complete the rehabilitation program.

Gavin Mudd, a senior lecturer in environmental engineering at Monash University with a long standing interest in Ranger, argues there are problems calculating the final cost as it depends on a number of choices, including how long is an adequate period of monitoring radioactivity levels.

The level of radioactivity around the site is unlikely to be safe any time soon given the half-life of uranium-238 is 4.5 billion years. The half-lives of other principal radioactive components of mill tailings, thorium-230 and radium-226, are shorter at about 75,000 years and 1,600 years respectively, but it’s a rather academic distinction.

Currently there is not a stipulated period for monitoring levels of radiation at the site once the rehabilitation is completed. However, Dr Mudd said a monitoring program should be run over decades rather than years.

“Fifty years would be a good start,” he said.

“The $500 million is the basic truck and shovel number, just the earthworks part of the rehabilitation.

“Sufficient money needs to be put in a fund that will pay for on-going monitoring and I haven’t seen that done yet.”

That leaves a big question mark over what will happen if ERA runs out of cash according to Dr Mudd.

“If ERA ran out of money before the rehab was finished and went bankrupt, who picks ups the tab?” he asked. Dr Mudd argues that the existing rehabilitation fund has always been a small fraction of the total cost, because ERA maintained it was a profitable company and could cover the costs.

The mounting losses and depressed prices bring that argument into question.

Dr Mudd said, as Ranger was authorised by the Commonwealth Government under 1953 Atomic Energy Act which primarily allowed the uranium to be used for military purposes, the Commonwealth and, ultimately the taxpayers, could be liable for the clean up if ERA was bankrupted.

“A lot of the day-to-day regulatory stuff is handled by the

Northern Territory Government, so it’s difficult to say where the liability lies (if ERA was bankrupt),” Dr Mudd noted.

“I’d much rather have cash in a trust to cover it, rather than have taxpayers potentially foot the bill,” he said.

If there has been one constant at Ranger, Dr Mudd said it has been that ERA has failed to invest in good processes as decisions were constantly delayed “waiting for the next big thing”.

“A new water treatment plant would have only cost $10 to 15 million back in 2002,” Dr Mudd said.

“The cost of mine closures, clean-ups and retrofitting other technology since then is probably more than a billion dollars.”

“Mining stopped in Pit 1 back in 1994, but has only now been finally closed, about two decades later.”

Traditional owners demand ‘comprehensive clean up plan’

The traditional owners – the Mirrar people – are reluctant to discuss Ranger’s closure, apart from issuing a statement welcoming the decision.

“As things stand today we will not support any extended term of mining at Ranger beyond 2021,” the statement said.

“We take this position because of our experience of 30 years of environmental and cultural impacts at Ranger.

“We need to see a concrete and comprehensive commitment and plan for the clean up of Kakadu; that commitment and planning needs to start today.”……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-30/era-faces-closure-after-expansion-plans-shelved/6584040

The week in Climate and Nuclear News

June 29, 2015

a-cat-CANAUSTRALIA

As June ends, Australians have just a few weeks in which to put in submissions to the South Australian Nuclear Royal Commission. (Submissions due by 24 July and 3rd August)  They’ve made it as difficult as they can – it’s complicated, and you have to sign before a JP etc. The nuclear lobby’s subtle spin implies that it’s for South Australians only – and the mainstream media goes along with that.

But wait! It’s OK if you happen to be an overseas nuclear company. Then you’re invited to submit – and – best of all – submissions from nuclear companies need not be published – they’re “commercially sensitive”

If you’re Aboriginal – no worries – the Commission will coach you, (like a fox coaching the chickens)

Through July please look on my website http://www.antinuclear.net for guidance summaries and links for submitting, and for latest news.

NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION NEWS

 

CLIMATE CHANGE Australia’s New Climate Roundtable. World is watching Australia’s pathetic performance on Climate Change. Australian farmers urge Liberal Party to defeat climate denialism

LEGAL WIN for Australia’s nuclear veterans

Trans Pacific Partnership – putting Australia’s democracy in a noose.

Lynas Rare Earths shares at all-time low.

URANIUM.  Pro Nuclear Expert John Carlson warns on selling uranium to India   Rio Tinto fears that the uranium market will not pick up. The game is up for uranium miners ERA and Paladin?. Half of ERA’s board quits.  It’s the end of big uranium mining projects in Australia.

ABORIGINAL ISSUES. Rallies across Australia protesting shutdowns of remote Aboriginal communitiesMelbourne city’s hub stops as protestors rally. Aboriginal People Need A Treaty First– Forget constitutional recognition. British musician Antony Hegarty joins the Martu people in their struggle against uranium mining

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Weakened Renewable Energy Target legisation passed in Parliament : still, big economicbenefits to regional communities, from new wind and solar farms.  South West Victoria’s wind farm goes ahead  General Electric ready to spend $billions on renewable energy in Australia. Wind farm research: Tony Abbott’s strategy to delay development by creating uncertainty.

 

INTERNATIONAL

Pope Francis denounces nuclear power.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Pope Francis and Naomi Klein – a formidable duo for action .

Optimism for a nuclear agreement with Iran, but big hurdles remain

RENEWABLE ENERGY: Record world investment in renewable energy, except for Australia, of course. Bill Gates is no friend to renewable energy, as Gates promotes his nuclear power company, Terra Power.  Jordan going ahead with solar technology in a big way, helped by China

UK.  Breast cancer rates higher near nuclear power stations.  Future of Britain’s Hinkley Point Nuclear Facility is increasingly uncertain.

USA. $1.8B in tax-payer loans for new nuclear plant – as its costs soar. Radioactive Polonium from Fukushima has contaminated Southeast USA. Pentagon’s new “laws of war” legalise killing of inconvenient journalists. Trans-Pacific Partnership: US Senate approves fast-track trade bill, sends to president Barack Obama.

FRANCE  keen to save AREVA, by selling nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia. Nuclear power a very poor deal for Saudi Arabia.

JAPAN company discloses possible failure of container lid bolts for low-level nuclear waste. Fukushima: 1,000,000 Bq/m3 of Sr-90 detected in seawater of Fukushima plant port / Highest in recorded history.

GERMANY: Grafenrheinfeld nuclear reactor closes, as Germany’s renewable energy surges ahead

SOUTH AFRICA’s purchase of nuclear reactors from Russia is by no means a done deal.

Jon Bok of South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission faced tough questions in Coober Pedy

June 27, 2015

John Bok representing the Royal Commission. Small attendance (5 people) 

This is not a perfect transcript, but is largely accurate. Where you see 1. that means a question from the attendees.

Bok: I’m here to help with providing information for the community, and particularly the Aboriginal community, as the Commissioner looks at risks and opportunities for expanding the nuclear industry in South Australia.

  1. Is there some reason why we are being targeted? We’ve had two Royal Commission community forums, and Roxby Downs hasn’t had one.

Bok:  I’m out an about in the region. I’m going back to Port Augusta in the coming weeks.

  1. You’re not looking at the underground tunnels, are you? – I don’t mean you personally; I mean the government in general.

Bok:  It’s a much broader process. It is my opportunity to meet people who are interested.

  1. AREVA is sending back a shipload of nuclear waste to Australia. What are we going to do with that, when it gets here?

Bok: I simply don’t know. The Commissioner is looking broadly at South Australia.  One question is – should we take nuclear waste in, to South Australia?

I’m not aware if Australia has the obligation to take that waste back. The question is:  is it viable to take back nuclear waste?. The Terms of Reference ask about the feasibility and viability of the four questions . Read the rest of this entry »

NOW is the time to act – on Submissions to the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Commission

June 27, 2015

Submissions for the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle are closing soon.

This Commission could change our State forever.

Make sure you have a say in it.  The Conservation SA team 26 June 15 

This is too big an issue not to have your voice heard. Currently, our State government is weighing up a future that could see nuclear power, uranium enrichment and nuclear waste dumping here in South Australia. The window for the public to make comment on these issues closes in a month.

We encourage you to make a submission and draw on our resources to assist you.

Submission wizards

In May nuclear expert Dr Jim Green produced some information resources about each of the issues the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle is investigating. Please see a summary and full report here.

Only last week renewables expert Dr Mark Diesendorf from the University of NSW finished an exciting report showing that South Australia could be run on 100% renewable energy is just 15 years. You can view and download the summary version and Dr Mark Diesendorf’s full report online here.

The issue papers generated by the Royal Commission are available here and submissions are due:

  • Issues Paper 1 (Extraction) and/or Issues Paper 4 (Storage and Disposal of Waste) is 24 July, 2015
  • Issues Paper 2 (Further Processing) and/or Issues Paper 3 (Electricity Generation) is 3 August, 2015.

If you wish to provide a consolidated written submission addressing all Issues Papers you have untilMonday August 3, 2015.

If you wish to make an oral submission call the Royal Commission on 08 8207 1480 to make arrangements.

It’s critical that your voice is heard. This commission could change our State for generations to come.

Now is the time to act.

South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission chief Scarce is not independent

June 26, 2015

Scarce,--Kevin-glowDennis Matthews, 26 June 15 It does no credit to the Advertiser, or Kevin Scarce, or the SA inquiry into the nuclear industry when Scarce cites misleading statements like no one was killed by exposure to ionising radiation from the Fukushima disaster (The Advertiser, 25/6/15).

This sort of ignorance was promulgated generations ago by the asbestos industry. Gullible, greedy politicians and newspaper editors became part of the problem and it took many decades before action was taken.

cancer-lies

Sure, nobody was killed outright by asbestos, and lots of jobs and wealth were produced, but do we really want to lumber the next generation of South Australians with another expensive medical disaster?

It’s time that editors, politicians, and ex-Governors learnt from the past. Learnt that some medical disasters don’t happen overnight and can take decades to be diagnosed.

As with asbestos, the nuclear industry and its supporters will undoubtedly be condemned by history. It’s a pity that the Scarce’s and Koutsantonis’s of this world won’t be around to try to defend themselves.

According to Kevin Scarce – no need to worry about Fukushima nuclear plant

June 26, 2015

Fukushima scarcely a worry Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide,  Paul Starick 25 Jun 2015  FORMER governor Kevin Scarce says the Fukushima disaster doesn’t pose a major barrier to the nuclear industry’s development in SA.

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commissioner, who toured the Fukushima exclusion zone during a global study tour, says the 2011 nuclear power plant meltdown was a result of poor design and management. In an exclusive interview with The Advertiser, Rear Admiral (retired) Scarce said the six-country study tour had demonstrated SA was technically capable, with help, of developing a nuclear industry, from the enrichment to spent fuel rod reprocessing, if this was financially viable.

nuclear-ship-sinking

……. Rear Admiral Scarce said the disaster had prompted safety rethinks at other sites the three-person delegation visited during the Asian and European tour, completed this month…..it doesn’t indicate to me that we shouldn’t be looking at this technology. “It means we’ve got to be very careful. We’ve got to be aware of what the consequences are.

“As devastating as Fukushima was, the subsequent improvements made since then enable us to go and look at this technology for our future.”….

latest lie from nuclear lobby

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/nuclear-royal-commissioner-kevin-scarce-says-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-no-major-barrier-to-sa-industry/story-fnpp66pk-1227413485904

Fukushima nuclear facility plagued by new problems

June 26, 2015

nuclear-ship-sinkingNew Problems & Challenges Plague Fukushima, Simply Info June 23rd, 2015 As June wanes we find more delays, more problems and new admissions about the extent of the disaster.

TEPCO introduced a new roadmap plan. In this they declared they would now focus on safety over speed. At the same time they announced that spent fuel removal work for units 1-3 would be delayed again. Currently they are attempting to remove the cover on unit 1 but this process has not actually begun based on visual evidence at the plant. TEPCO has not been forthcoming what is delaying this work again. Work at unit 3 had been underway in early spring to remove parts of the crane that fell into the fuel pool. An oil leak was found as they attempted to remove a portion of the crane. This stopped the removal work as they cleaned the oil out of the pool water and investigated a cause. Around the same time they discovered damage to the metal gate that connects the spent fuel pool to the reactor well. After this discovery, removal work at unit 3 appeared to cease.

Newer reports also showed that the earlier concept of flooding the reactor containments to remove damaged fuel debris is being phased out. ……..http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=14818

Financial interest in nuclear industry – Royal Commissioner Timothy Stone!

June 24, 2015

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINDr Timothy Stone should be in the same position as any other business or ordinary individual: free to put his opinions to the Royal Commission through the submissions process, but not be a member of the Commission in any form.

Dr Timothy Stone Visiting Professor, International Energy Policy Institute, University College London Adelaide

Current potentially relevant activities:

  • Non-executive Director, Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd (UK)
  • Visiting Professorship, International Energy Policy Institute, University College London (Adelaide)
  • Chairman, Advisory Board of DBD Ltd (UK, nuclear engineering)

South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission is not neutral with propagandist Barry Brook on board

June 22, 2015

Brook,-Barry-glowsSo that’s the game plan − making absurd claims about Generation IV reactors, pretending that they are near-term prospects, and being less than “abundantly clear” about the truth. Time for these people to be held to account and for Brook to be removed from the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s ‘expert panel’.

Royal Commissioner Kevin Scarce was forewarned about Brook’s track record of peddling
misinformation
but still chose to include Brook in his ‘expert panel’.

On the troubled worldwide history with fast reactors, see thereport by the International Panel on Fissile Materials.

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINBarry Brook being less than “abundantly clear” about Generation IV reactors  Jim Green, June 2015,www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/oz/barry-brook-bravenewclimate An 18 June 2015 guest post on Barry Brook’s website claims that Generation IV fast neutron reactors will be mass produced and “dominating the market by about 2030.”

Compare that Big Fat Lie with the following:

  1. The Generation IV International Forum states: “Depending on their respective degree of technical maturity, the FIRST Generation IV systems are expected to be deployed commercially around 2030-2040.” (emphasis added)
  2. The International Atomic Energy Agency states: “Experts expect that the FIRST Generation IV fast reactor DEMONSTRATION PLANTS AND PROTOTYPES will be in operation by 2030 to 2040.” (emphases added)
  3. A 2015 report by the French government’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) states: “There is still much R&D to be done to develop the Generation IV nuclear reactors, as well as for the fuel cycle and the associated waste management which depends on the system chosen.”

IRSN is also sceptical about safety claims: “At the present stage of development, IRSN does not notice evidence that leads to conclude that the systems under review are likely to offer a significantly improved level of safety compared with Generation III reactors, except perhaps for the VHTR …” Moreover the VHTR (very high temperature reactor) system could bring about significant safety improvements “but only by significantly limiting unit power”.

  1. The World Nuclear Association noted in 2009 that “progress is seen as slow, and several potential [Generation IV] designs have been undergoing evaluation on paper for many years.”

In 2009 Brook wrote a puff-piece about Generation IV fast reactors for the Murdoch press. On the same day he said on his website that “although it’s not made abundantly clear in the article”, he expects conventional reactors to play the major role for the next two to three decades but chose to emphasise Generation IV reactors “to try to hook the fresh fish”.

So that’s the game plan − making absurd claims about Generation IV reactors, pretending that they are near-term prospects, and being less than “abundantly clear” about the truth. Time for these people to be held to account and for Brook to be removed from the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s ‘expert panel’.
Royal Commissioner Kevin Scarce was forewarned about Brook’s track record of peddling misinformation but still chose to include Brook in his ‘expert panel’.
The guest post on Brook’s website was written by barking-mad conspiracy theorist Geoff Russell (who holds me personally responsible for all the death and suffering from the Fukushima disaster).

Russell cites the World Nuclear Association (WNA) in support of his claim that “The Chinese expect these [fast reactors] to be dominating the market by about 2030 and they’ll be mass produced.”
Does the WNA reference support the claim? No. According to the WNA, China has one very small experimental fast reactor and plans for a larger ‘Demonstration Fast Reactor’ by 2023 and plans its FIRST fast reactor “for commercial operation from 2030″.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/country-profiles/countries-a-f/china–nuclear-power/

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/China–Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/#FNR

So China doesn’t expect fast reactors to be dominating the market by 2030. China may have ONE commercial fast reactor by 2030 … but almost certainly won’t. One of the reasons China’s fast reactor program is going nowhere fast is that China is collaborating with Russia (see the above WNA links) and Russia’s fast reactor program is going nowhere fast.

Rosatom subsidiary Rosenergoatom recently “indefinitely” postponed construction of the BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor, citing the need to improve fuel for the reactor and amid speculation about the cost-effectiveness of the project. The decision to indefinitely postpone the project might be reviewed in 2020. The reactor had been scheduled to start commercial operation in 2025, depending on experience operating a pilot BN-800 fast-neutron reactor which achieved first criticality in June 2014 but has not yet started commercial operation.

As recently as July 2014, Rosenergoatom’s director general said that Russia planned to begin construction of three BN-1200 reactors before 2030. OKBM − the Rosatom subsidiary that designed the BN-1200 reactor − previously anticipated that the first BN-1200 reactor would be commissioned in 2020, followed by eight more by 2030.
Rosenergoatom spokesperson Andrey Timonov the BN-800 reactor “must answer questions about the economic viability of potential fast reactors because at the moment ‘fast’ technology essentially loses this indicator [when compared with] commercial VVER units.”

Another fast-neutron reactor project − the BREST-OD-300 − is stretching Rosatom’s funds. Bellona’s Alexander Nikitin said that Rosatom’s “Breakthrough” program to develop the BREST-OD-300 reactor was only breaking Rosatom’s piggy-bank.

 

On the troubled worldwide history with fast reactors, see the report by the International Panel on Fissile Materials.

Revolutionary huge solar powered glasshouse for Hunter Valley, New South Wales

June 22, 2015

solar glasshouseMassive solar-powered glasshouse in NSW Hunter Valley to employ refugees, migrants , ABC News, By Jackson Vernon  21 June 15 Construction is underway on Australia’s biggest glasshouse, in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, which is solar powered and already providing employment opportunities for new migrants and refugees.

Excavators have started the groundwork on the vegetable growing facility at Fullerton Cove, about 40 minutes outside of Newcastle. At more than 16 hectares, it will cover the size of 20 rugby fields.Dutch investor Cor Disselkoen has developed glasshouses throughout the Netherlands and has brought in materials and labour for construction here.

Once operating, the facility will produce 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums every year. “We are producing 14 times more per square metre so we have a huge production compared to open field growing,” Mr Disselkoen said.

“It’s year-round, reliable, independent from whatever climactic circumstances so we can guarantee year around delivery to our clients.”

It has taken many years since the project was first announced to get to this point, after assessments in both Port Stephens Council and the Joint Regional Planning Panel. The project was mired in controversy initially, over plans to power it with a nearby coal seam gas well. But now it will be run solely on clean energy.

“We don’t get any natural gas or coal to fire or heat, we don’t use any electricity from coal fired electricity mains,” Mr Disselkoen said. “We catch the rainfall, which falls on our roof, which is enough for us to grow our plants.” “It’s the most efficient way, but environmentally the best way to do in the future.”

Glasshouse employs refugees and migrants

Refugees and migrants in the Hunter region will be among the 125 workers employed at the glasshouse…….the farm would be a major employment opportunity for dozens of people starting lives in Australia…….

Government welcomes growth to agriculture industry

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said the new facility would help ensure more local produce was grown and consumed.

“[It] means that we can grow different crops out of season and capitalise on some of the markets that traditionally we may have had to rely upon imported products for,” Mr Blair said.

Mr Blair said the alternative farming method worked side by side with traditional practices and will help grow the $15 billion primary industries sector.

“When we look at glasshouse and intensive production it’s something that we’ve done a lot of investment and research into through the Department of Primary Industries,” Mr Blair said.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-21/massive-solar-powered-glasshouse-in-nsw-to-employ-refugees/6561424


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