Only the Australian Greens have the courage to reject ANSTO’s push for new nuclear reactors

June 25, 2017
Dissenting Report – Australian Greens, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young Australian Greens Senator, 
While not always supporting the outcomes, the Australian Greens have acknowledged previous JSCOT inquiries on nuclear issues for their diligence and prudence. We are disappointed on this occasion to submit a dissenting report into the Generation IV Nuclear Energy Accession. The inquiry process into the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems has been unduly rushed and lacked adequate public hearings or detailed analysis and reflection of public submissions. This is particularly disturbing given that this inquiry relates to public spending for an undefined period of time towards a technology that is prohibited in Australia.
The Australian Greens’ dissent to Report 171 (Section 4: Generation IV Nuclear Energy Accession) is based on a range of grounds, including:
The lack of transparency regarding the costs to the Australian taxpayer over an undefined period of time;
The technology that this agreement relates to is prohibited under Australian law and its promotion is inconsistent with the public and national interest;
The lack of consideration of the global energy trends away from nuclear technology;
The lack of procedural fairness in refusing adequate public hearings and consideration of public submissions;
An unjustified reliance on the submissions from the highly partisan Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). The Australian Greens note that ANSTO is not a disinterested party in this policy arena. Furthermore, ANSTO has made a number of unfounded assertions, particularly regarding the Agreement’s impact on Australia’s standing on nuclear non-proliferation.

Unchecked capacity and resourcing

The timeframe for the agreement is loosely stated as being between 10 and 40 years. Over this period there is a commitment for Australia to pledge resources and capacity at the expense of Australian taxpayers. In exchange for this undefined public expense for an undefined period of time, there is no clear public benefit – given that the technology is, properly and popularly, prohibited in this country.
Point 4.20 states that the Framework is in essence about spreading the significant costs associated with the development of Generation IV reactors. In public submissions made to JSCOT there are detailed cost estimates for individual projects that are all in the range of billions of dollars. There have been numerous delays, cost constraints and problems with the various types of reactors described as Generation IV. While some countries continue to pursue this technology, there is no clear end-game in sight and many nations are stepping away from this sector. Most Generation IV reactors only exist on paper while some others are modified plans of expensive failed projects but are still just conceptual.
It is understandable that countries who are invested in Generation IV would seek to transfer costs and inflate the potential benefits. It is unreasonable, however, for a Government agency to commit Australian resources to fund and develop this technology which is decades away from being anything more than a concept.
ANSTO submits in the National Interest Analysis that the “costs of participation in the Systems Arrangements will be borne by ANSTO from existing funds”. The Australian Greens note that in the last financial year ANSTO reported a loss of $200 million (including $156 million in subsidies). The commitment of funds and resourcing from an agency that operates with an existing deficit that is already funded by the Australian people is fiscally irresponsible and has not been investigated through the JSCOT process.
The Australian Greens maintain that there is a particular need for the rationale of any contested public expenditure to be rigorously tested. Sadly, this Committee has failed in this role.
Point 4.24 of the report states that “Australia was required to demonstrate that it could contribute to the research and development goals of the GIF” yet the inquiry process failed to establish exactly what form those contributions will take and the cost of those contributions to the Australian people.

Prohibited Technology

Point 4.39 on the question of nuclear power in Australia brushes aside the fundamental issue that the future of nuclear energy in Australia is entirely dependent on changing Commonwealth laws.
Report 171 section 4 fails to acknowledge that the technology in question is prohibited under two separate pieces of Commonwealth legislation:
Section 37J of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;
Section 10 of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998.
These Acts reflect considered positions, public opinion and the environmental and economic risk associated with nuclear technology which has repeatedly proved to be dangerous and expensive. The position reflected in these laws has been repeatedly reiterated in subsequent Government reports into the technology and prospects for development in Australia. For example:
The Switkowski Report – Uranium Mining, Processing, and Nuclear Energy – opportunities for Australia? (2006)
The Australian Power Generation Technology Report – Summary (Nov 2015)
Department of Energy and Science Energy White Paper (2015)
Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (South Australia) (May 2016)
These reports all arrive at the same conclusion: that there is no case to develop nuclear power in Australia, albeit for different reasons. These reasons include costs, time constraints, legal constraints, public opposition, restrictions on availability of water and other environmental factors.

Lack of Procedural Fairness and over reliance on evidence from ANSTO

ANSTO has pursued this agreement, signed the agreement, will be responsible for enacting the agreement, drove the National Interest Analysis and were the only agency invited to present at a hearing. This agency is publicly funded, has run at a deficit, and is seeking to further commit Australian resources to a technology that is not only unpopular but is prohibited under Australian legislation.
There is a wide range of experts and public interest groups who have lodged detailed submissions and requested an audience with the Committee to offer some scrutiny and balance to the highly selective view of Generation IV options presented by ANSTO.
These submissions are barely mentioned in Report 171 and additional public hearings were denied. This level secrecy and denial of procedural fairness is of grave concern and, while out of character for JSCOT, is very much in line with the secrecy synonymous with ANSTO and the wider nuclear industry.

Australia’s accessibility to nuclear technology and standing on nuclear non-proliferation

ANSTO claim in the NIA that a failure to accede “would impede Australia’s ability to remain constructively engaged in international nuclear activities and would limit our ability to forge links with international experts at a time when a significant expansion in nuclear power production is underway……. It would diminish Australia’s standing in international nuclear non-proliferation and our ability to influence international nuclear policy developments in accordance with our national economic and security interests.”
The Australian Greens understand that Australia currently pays $10 million per annum to the International Atomic Energy Agency which grants us access to the safety and regulatory fora and to publicly published research. Where there is a commercial interest in the technology this would no doubt be made available to Australia at a price – but a price not borne by the taxpayer in this crude subsidy by stealth proposed in report 171 (Section 4).
Claims that our failure to accede would somehow diminish our standing on nuclear non-proliferation are absurd. While the industry might promote Generation IV as addressing issues of nuclear non-proliferation there is little concrete evidence that it can or ever would be done. It was the same promise industry proponents made about Generation III reactors and failed to deliver.
Australia’s standing on nuclear non-proliferation is currently being diminished because this Government is actively boycotting the current UN process supported by 132 nations on negotiating a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, not because our country has not been funding research into nuclear power.
The Australian Greens fundamentally dissent from this Committee’s findings and believe that no compelling or credible case has been made to proceed with the treaty action. Rushed, limited and opaque decision making processes are a poor basis for public funding allocations in a contested policy arena.

Australian Labor politicians criticise Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems, but support GIF anyway

June 25, 2017

MPs  Michael Danby, Josh Wilson ,  Susan Templeman  and Senator Jenny McAllister support the recommendation that binding treaty action be taken to enable further collaboration in relation to international research and development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems.

At the same time, they note Labor’s policy :

       Labor will [inter alia]:
 
       Prohibit the establishment of nuclear power plants and all other stages of the nuclear fuel cycle in        Australia.
On that basis, they :
make it clear we strenuously disagree with the argument put by Mr Barry Murphy  that the Framework Agreement will provide an opportunity for Australia to develop a nuclear energy program. It does no such thing, nor should it
The labor politicians  are:
grateful for the joint submission from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and Friends of the Earth Australia (FOE), and the submission from the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, both of which provide a detailed and cautionary context for the consideration and pursuit of ‘next generation’ or ‘Generation IV’ reactors…more http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Treaties/CITES/Report_171/section?id=committees%2freportjnt%2f024073%2f24870

We’re not as smart as frogs

June 25, 2017

It’s a myth that frogs will stay in water that slowly heats, until they die.  In reality, they will try to get out, as soon as the temperature becomes uncomfortable. Right now, homo sapiens is dreaming on, in our warming world, as climate change gets to crisis stage. Computer models were showing the coming impacts of climate change: now real life events show them.

This newsletter, and websites, were intended to promote the nuclear-free movement. They still are, but (except for the threat of nuclear war), the global climate emergency is now the most pressing issue. The Guardian has this week shown how some areas are especially threatened: – in SpainBangladesh , Malawi, Norway, Brazil,  New York, Philippines.

AUSTRALIA

CLIMATE Australia’s peril: ignoring the climate ‘disaster alley’ that we are already in.   Report shows how Australia is underestimating security threats from climate change. Australia’s politicians protect the coal industry, not the Australian people.  A renewed push for climate change action .  Future jobs in Far North Queensland threatened by Adani coal mine.

NUCLEAR

Australia kicked off the Global Womens’ March To Ban The Bomb.

The Liberal-dominated Joint Standing Committee on Generation IV Nuclear Energy Framework has just recommended Australia joining this Generation IV International Forum (GIF) (aims to develop new nuclear reactors). Hardly surprising, seeing that Dr Adi Paterson of Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) had already taken it upon himself to sign up in advance. All this, with no Parliamentary discussion, no media coverage, and despite Australia’s strong laws prohibiting the nuclear industry. The Committee’s recommendations were a straight handout from ANSTO. Labor politicians on the Committee had a few wimpy complaints. Only the Greens had the guts to examine and reject the whole thing, noting the secrecy, legal prohibitions, lack of procedural fairness, uneconomic state of the nuclear industry, and ANSTO’s financial problems.

Australia’s top nuclear shill, Ben Heard, of nuclear front group Bright New World presented a paper in Moscow, to help the Russians promote nuclear power at AtomExpo.

Kimba community divided over federal nuclear waste dump plan – fairly narrow “yes” vote. Strong calls to have Kimba nuclear dump plan dumped.

Strong union opposition to uranium mining in Western Australia. Disappointment over Labor’s broken promise on uranium mining in Western Australia.

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Drop in peak energy demand, as Western Australia goes for rooftop PV solar. I can’t keep up here. REneweconomy can.  And there’s more.  And more.   A Kimberley cattleman‘s powerful argument for renewable energy.

Dennis Matthews Scrutinises the Finkel Energy Report.   PM urged, by small business, to decide on Finkel report. Crikey names and shames the Liberal Neanderthals opposing Clean Energy Target.

INTERNATIONAL

UN Human Rights Council on protection of human rights from the impacts of climate change: even USA is supportive.  Research on climate change and migration.

Worrying climate news, as a huge ice shelf melts, in Antarctica.

Second round of UN nuclear ban talks begins in New York.  Global Collaboration Towards a Legally Binding Ban on Nuclear Weapons.Radiation research foundation to apologize for studying but not treating hibakusha, A-bomb survivors submit petition for nuclear ban.

PORTUGAL. Climate change, and Portugal’s deadly fires.

USA. Airplanes grounded because of heatwave. Climate Change Is Shrinking the Colorado River.

RUSSIA.  Russia angered by Nato surrounding Baltic fleet in Kaliningrad- unprecedented war games.  Ever increasing piles of toxic Russian radioactive trash – a challenge for Norway and Russia to clean up. As the global renewable energy transition speeds up, Russia gambles on nuclear energy. Russia holds AtomExpo – a triumph of nuclear marketing.  Rosatom’s plans to DEVELOP NUCLEAR CLUSTER IN SOUTH AFRICA .

UK.  Bank of England to probe banks’ exposure to climate change.  Brexit brings Britain’s nuclear industry to a “cliff edge”.   Wylfa nuclear power project threatens the biodiversity of North Wales nature reserve.   National Audit Office considers Hinkley Point C nuclear power plan ‘risky and expensive’.  Should British tax-payers cough up for both Hinkley and Wylfa nuclear power boondoggles?

SOUTH KOREA. South Korea’s major turn away from nuclear energy with Kori-1’s permanent shutdown.

JAPAN. Students and researchers at research reactors should have background checks, warns Japan’s nuclear regulator.  Plutonium in workers’ urine at Oarai Research and Development Center.  Fukushima. Fukushima’s Radiation will poison food ‘for decades’ Study Finds. For Fukushima returnees, security a growing concern in deserted towns.

NORTH KOREA. There are “positive signals” on Korean Peninsula nuclear issue  – China. New activity at North Korean nuclear test site.

SOUTH AFRICA. Nuclear deal with Russia is central to the corruption in South Africa. President Jacob Zuma says South Africa is committed to nuclear power expansion.   President Zuma “knows nothing” about nuclear corruption in South Africa, or his family benefiting.

FRANCE. Flamanville nuclear reactor: EPR pressure vessel does not comply with safety regulations.

INDIA. India gives up on importing Western nuclear reactors, to save face, will build its own.

GREENLAND. As Greenland Ice Sheet thaws, old nuclear missile site Camp Century is revealed.

And it’s another lot of nuclear and climate news

June 16, 2017

Thanks to those who reminded me that the British PM is NOT Theresa Merkel, (as I wrote last week). As one reader suggested, I must have been doing some wishful thinking – a Freudian slip. Now I know that the  PM is Theresa Mayhem.

17 June, as delegates gather in New York for UN negotiations on nuclear weapons ban treaty, women and men and children around the world will be marching in support of that treaty plan.

Collapsing ice shelves will further accelerate global sea level rise. Cities and states may be able to officially join the Paris Climate Agreement. The “growth economy” must end, along with the coal industry. Record drop in global coal production. Solar power speeding the death of coal-fired power.

AUSTRALIA

Congratulations to those who received Queen’s Birthday awards for work on the environment.

NUCLEAR 

Ukraine uranium sales plan: Unreasonable, unstable and unsafe.

Senator Scott Ludlam probes the Australian government’s plan to dump Lucas Heights’ nuclear waste on rural South Australia.

South Australians very definitely dumped the nuclear dump plan, but a new battle looms.

Liberal MP Jane Prentice speaks out in favour of nuclear power. New South Wales DEPUTY Premier John Barilaro renews calls for nuclear power. Tomago Aluminium boss wants government to invest in nuclear energy.

CLIMATE and ENERGY 

Adani coal project Green light for massive coal mine? Adani has not secured the financing it needs for the project. Aboriginal leader, previous supporter of Adani coal project, now rejects it.   Federal Inquiry needed: Adani should be questioned on history on environment and ‘allegations of fraud, corruption. Adani Group embroiled in corrupt arms deal in South Africa. Adani could be looking for an excuse to back out of unviable Carmichael coal project.

Aboriginal issues  Traditional Owners slam passage of Native Title amendments. Professor Marcia Langton promoting Big Coal, not Aboriginal Rights. Marcia Langton “poorly informed” on Adani coal mine, says leading native title lawyer.

INTERNATIONAL

Renewable energy news– the latest.

NORTH KOREA. North Korea moving surprisingly fast towards launching long-range, nuclear-capable missile. Increased activity around N. Korean test site may indicate 6th nuclear test.

JAPAN  Accidential exposure to Plutonium: what this means for Japanese nuclear workers.  Burst nuclear container scattered contaminants,  Court rejects citizen group submission, allows restart of Genkai nuclear plant.   Review of safety of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant will mean along delay in restart. Underwater robot to probe damage at Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. Japan accused by UN special rapporteur of eroding media freedoms and stifling public debate of issues such as the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. Radiation levels exceeding state-set limit found on grounds of five Chiba schools.

USA

NORWAY. A warning to Norway, on Russia’s bad history of nuclear waste disposal.

UK. No planning in UK’s Brexit for the problem of EURATOM and UK’s trade in nuclear materials.Hitachi getting out of its financial risks in construction of new Nuclear Power Plant at Wylfa.

SOUTH KOREAPermanent shutdown of unit 1 of South Korea’s Kori nuclear power plant

BANGLADESH. Ship at Bangladesh found to have illegal levels of radioactive material: too dangerous to scrap.

TURKEY. Turkey to go into big debt to Russia for $20 billion Akkuyu nuclear power plan.
FRANCE. France set to close some nuclear reactors.

UKRAINE. Chernobyl nuclear station – smoke detected at crippled Unit 3.

NEW ZEALAND. Auckland commemorates 30 years of nuclear-free New Zealand.

INDIA. American corporations hope to use Indian insurance companies, for nuclear build in India.

Senator Scott Ludlam’s very inconvenient questions on Australian government’s nuclear waste plan

June 13, 2017

Assuming that the long-lived intermediate-level stuff does go to the sites that you are busy characterising at the moment, how long is it envisaged that it actually stays there before it gets taken somewhere else?

Mr B Wilson: We cannot give a definitive answer on that because we have not commenced a process to identify a permanent disposal solution for the long-lived intermediate-level waste—

Senator LUDLAM: Ouch!

if the really dangerous intermediate-level stuff is to be stored there you cannot tell them how long it is meant to be there for

so we kind of do not really know what is going on there or how long it is meant to be there for.

ECONOMICS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE, Department of Industry – RADIOACTIVE WASTE  1st June 2017

 Full Transcript here: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/committees/estimate/e3ddf88b-3e9c-4546-9d90-8f646689a98c/toc_pdf/Economics%20Legislation%20Committee_2017_06_01_5134.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf

Senator Canavan: I have been to Hawker and I am going there again tomorrow, and I would like to put on record my thanks to many in the Hawker community who engage in this process. Some have certainly changed their mind as they have come to have more understanding of it. I think you have probably been to Lucas Heights, and it I think it makes a big difference to people when they see it. There is a lot of misinformation spread about this, and we are trying to engage with people in a genuine way in good faith to give them the information to make informed decisions.

Senator LUDLAM: Who is spreading this information, Senator Canavan?

Senator Canavan: I hear it from time to time. I do not have any particular allegations to make about individual groups here, but you do hear lots of information from time to time about the potential danger of this material. But, of course, as you would probably know, much of the low-level waste is stored safely at Lucas Heights, a place where people go to and from work every day. 

Senator LUDLAM: That begs the question of why it needs to move. ..….

Senator LUDLAM: Staying in South Australia: has there been any consideration at all—this is for the department or the minister, whoever wants to take this one on—of the tension between the proposed national radioactive waste facility and the existing South Australian legislation, which would be the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000? The tension between the fact that your entire project is presently illegal under South Australian law: what is being done about that?

Mr B Wilson: We are certainly aware of the South Australian prohibition under their law. However, the National Radioactive Waste Management Act that we operate under overrides South Australian law. 

Senator LUDLAM: And that is it? You are just going to squash them? Or are there discussions progressing with the South Australian government?….

Senator LUDLAM: Is the department, or you, Senator Canavan, or any of the federal agencies or other actors in communication with the South Australian government environment or heritage departments, or representatives of any body, actually, in relation to the tension between the two acts?

Senator Canavan: I have raised it with the South Australian government. They have indicated that they may seek to make changes. I am not aware of the status of that at the moment. Obviously, they have their own process, which is a separate to ours, on radioactive waste. Certainly, the issue has been raised. Mr Wilson is also right that we are confident that is not a barrier to this project. But Mr Wilson will be giving you that.

Mr B Wilson: We engage—I would have to characterise it as infrequently—with the South Australian government. It is more in the line of updating where we are. We have not had any recent engagements. They are certainly very well aware of the prohibitions under their law about what the South Australian government and its officials can do in this space….

When I said that the National Radioactive Waste Management Act overrides South Australian law, that is the fact. But what we are trying to do in the development of this project is to develop it and act in a way that is consistent with requirements under other South Australian legislation. For instance, in terms of Indigenous heritage protection and other aspects. While we are not necessarily bound by those laws we want to act in a way that is consistent with them.

Senator LUDLAM: With waste that is as dangerous as this, I am very glad to hear it! Is the department still accepting site nominations?

Senator Canavan: The government remains open to further nominations, as we announced on selecting the Hawker site last year. But the ones we have announced are those that we are proceeding with at this stage.

Senator LUDLAM: Wallerberdina and two at Kimba. Read the rest of this entry »

Senator Scott Ludlam probes the influence of USA on Australia’s negative approach to nuclear weapons ban treaty

June 12, 2017

Senator LUDLAM: …I want to turn to the opening day of the nuclear weapons ban treaty negotiations, 27 March this year. Having failed to prevent these negotiations occurring, the Trump administration’s ambassador to the UN held a protest outside the UN General Assembly Hall. Did Australia participate in the protest?

Senator LUDLAM: So we just stood there in mute solidarity with the Trump administration? As 130 UN member states started serious work on negotiating a nuclear weapons ban treaty, we were outside the room in a protest?

It is a shame that there will be no Australian representatives at the UN because these talks are scheduled to conclude at the end of June or early July

FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE LEGISLATION COMMITTEE, UN – Nuclear Weapons Ban, 31st May 2017   http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/committees/estimate/0a6ef7dd-2f88-423a-a01b-23b5c5b4e4c0/toc_pdf/Foreign%20Affairs,%20Defence%20and%20Trade%20Legislation%20Committee_2017_05_31_5055.pdf;fileType=application/pdf

Pg- 20

Senator LUDLAM: Can I speak to someone on the UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons?

Senator LUDLAM: Can I speak to someone on the UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons?

Mr Sadleir: Yes, Senator.

Senator LUDLAM: It is good that you are here, Mr Sadleir, because I want to ask a couple of questions about a meeting that occurred between 4 and 8 July 2016 that I understand you were present at. You and Ms Jane Hardy travelled to Washington, DC to meet with a range of, I understand, quite senior State Department and National

Pg – 21

Security Council people to discuss what was then referred to as the UN open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament. Can you confirm for us on the record that that meeting occurred and that you were in attendance?

[Here it took an extraordinarily long time for Mr Sadleir to admit that he was at this meeting]

‘……..Senator LUDLAM: I have not asked what you discussed yet. Were you in attendance at that meeting?
Mr Sadleir

?
Mr Sadleir: I was certainly in Washington. I would need to check my diary to get the precise dates but I was certainly there around that time.

Senator LUDLAM: I think that what will happen when you check the dates is that you will come back and confirm that you were in fact there. I will let you check the record. I would appreciate that. What was the purpose of those meetings? Read the rest of this entry »

Uncertainty about the clean-up of Ranger uranium mine in Australia’s Northern Territory

June 12, 2017

Environment and Communications Legislation Committee 23/05/2017 Estimates
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY PORTFOLIO
Clean Energy Regulator

Full Transcript: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;adv=yes;orderBy=customrank;page=0;query=Dataset%3AcomSen,estimate%20Dataset_Phrase%3A%22estimate%22%20CommitteeName_Phrase%3A%22environment%20and%20communications%20legislation%20committee%22%20Questioner_Phrase%3A%22ludlam,%20sen%20scott%22;rec=5;resCount=Default

CHAIR: I welcome the Office of the Supervising Scientist.

Senator LUDLAM: I understand that ERA is in the process of starting to get on with closing the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu and have notified stakeholders—presumably including yourselves—that they are intending to vary the way that they are depositing the tailings back into pit 3, and that they are proposing to change from an aerial tailings deposition to subaqueous deposition. For the non-specialists, could you describe maybe in plain English the difference in technique they are proposing.

Mr Tayler : The previous tailings deposition methodology had tailings being dredged from the tailings dam and tailings coming from the mill being deposited onto a beach, essentially. The new methodology that ERA is proposing involves depositing tailings through water; hence the subaqueous versus subaerial. Essentially, it was being put onto a tailings beach; the new method will be depositing it through the water column itself.

Senator LUDLAM: Is the decommissioning of the mine being treated as a nuclear action under the EPBC Act?

Mr Tayler : No.

Senator LUDLAM: Can you describe for us why not?

Mr Tayler : I would prefer that questions specific to the EPBC Act were directed to the Environmental Standards Division, or we could take it on notice if that is okay.

Senator LUDLAM: I think that is fair enough. If you can take it on notice, but I guess the answer is not going to come from you, is it? I think we have already let these people go.

Mr Tayler : Yes, it is a legal point, and I would not want to comment on that in case I got it wrong.

Senator LUDLAM: That is fine. I understand there is an interception trench, which intersects the saline plume coming out from under the tailings storage facility. We have been asking your predecessors in this office for years about this. My understanding is that ERA is currently monitoring that plume of saline water. There is a certain amount of dewatering that is being done. How long is it expected that monitoring and dewatering operations would continue beyond 2020?

Mr Tayler : In relation to the seepage—

Senator LUDLAM: In 2026, I beg your pardon. In relation to the monitoring of that saline plume and the dewatering.

Mr Tayler : Specifically related to the tailings dam?

Senator LUDLAM: Yes.

Mr Tayler : That is not information that we currently have. It is on ERA’s work program to conduct some detailed groundwater modelling of the TSF footprint. The TSF will not be decommissioned for several years yet, so I could not give you a specific answer to that question at this time.

Senator LUDLAM: When is the expected decommissioning date for the tailings storage facility?

Mr Tayler : I would have to take that on notice for the exact date. I believe it was towards the end of the rehabilitation process, which would put it in the 2024-25 period, but I will confirm that for you.

Senator LUDLAM: I will tell you what the purpose of these questions is: we have a plume of saline water that ERA was a bit reluctant to concede even existed, seeping out from under the dam, carrying goodness knows what other processed chemicals and radionuclides and whatever with it. We have the company with interception trenches, possibly bores, trying to get a sense of how much water is falling out the bottom of the TSF. We have an interception trench which is allowing them to remove some of that water and presumably process it and clean it up. That is a very active process of maintenance. How long is it anticipated to last?

Mr Tayler : Yes, I understand the question. At this stage, I do not have sufficient information to answer that question.

Senator LUDLAM: In terms of a yes/no. Is that because you do not have it at the table or you do not think that knowledge exists at this time?

Mr Tayler : I do not think that knowledge exists at this time. We need ERA to complete some proposed groundwater modelling. That will model the movement of that plume. That will give some indication of how long that plume will take to move, how long it will take to dilute and what management, if any management, will be required. That work has not yet been undertaken.

Senator LUDLAM: It is 2017. How does the ERA not know that already? I have been asking about this for about eight years, and this was an issue way before I came along.

Mr Tayler : Operationally, I think the issue has been quite well managed. We can provide an update on that if that would be helpful. From a long-term closure sense, the focus has been on looking at the groundwater impacts from the pits. Further work is still required on quantifying exactly what is beneath the TSF and what that may look like in the future.

Senator LUDLAM: So they still do not really know what is coming out from underneath the dam?

Mr Tayler : In an operational sense, we know very well exactly what is moving now. How that will behave over the long term into the future is not yet quantified.

Senator LUDLAM: Could you provide us with an estimate of how much water is seeping out from under the TSF every year? We have had order of magnitude estimates going back a couple of years.

Mr Tayler : For the whole dam? I would have to take that on notice.

Senator LUDLAM: Thank you. What I am trying to find out is whether that process is still going to be underway beyond 2026 or if it is within the company’s work plan that it is all well and truly done.

To 11 June – Nuclear and Climate news

June 10, 2017

of interest:   Radiological and nuclear incidents – the IAEA database

In the anglophone world, nuclear and climate are not top of the news at the moment, but are lurking not far beneath it. Terrorism events enhance the concern about radiation – “dirty bombs” etc.  Theresa May’s unsatisfactory result at the British election makes it harder for her to negotiate the exit from the European Atomic Community (“Euratom”). In America the unfolding saga of the the sacked FBI director Comey, and the  investigation into Michael Flynn and the Trump election campaign, has now revealed Flynn’s involvement in a truly weird nuclear marketing scheme.

As for climate change action – well, China is taking over the leadership. China and California are setting up their own climate accord. A joint commitment to fight climate change – European Union and China. America is really “still in it” as More than 1,000 U.S. governors, mayors, investors, universities, and companies  pledge to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.

AUSTRALIA

Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel released his report on future energy planning. I think that the report is good. It is real realpolitik, in the light of all of Australia’s political conflicts about energy. The report just might let PM Malcolm Turnbull actually get some energy planning happening – nothing extreme in its promotion of renewable energy, nothing that would promote the coal power industry, while allowing it to die quietly. Nuclear is not mentioned, nor is it condemned.

NUCLEAR.  South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill declares the nuclear waste importing plan “dead”

ANSTO’s Dr Adi Paterson signed Australia up to New Nuclear club with NO Parliamentary discussion!   Senator Scott Ludlam asked inconvenient questions at Senate Estimates Committee about Australia’s role in nuclear weapons ban negotiations.    Australia’s diplomats called “weasels” on Australia’s stand against nuclear weapons ban treaty

Senator Scott Ludlam asked inconvenient questions at Senate Estimates Committee on the cleanup of the Ranger uranium mine

ENERGY  

CLIMATE CHANGE. Traditional Owners fighting Adani mine query Labor’s support for Native Title Bill  Adani announces “green light” for expanded coal mine, but still hasn’t got the finance. Adani ‘investment decision’ meaningless without Indigenous consentReligious leaders in active opposition to Adani coal mine project.

INTERNATIONAL

NORTH KOREA. Defiant North Korea vows to continue its nuclear weapons development. No answer in sight, to North Korea’s march toward nuclear capability.

EUROPELeaders of Germany, France and Italy reject Trump’s suggestion of renegotiating Paris climate accord.

USA.

JAPANIbaraki nuclear research facility under scrutiny after accident; gas suspected in rupture. 5 Workers Exposed to Radioactive Materials at Oarai Nuclear Research Facility in Ibara. Decommissioning of Monju Fast-Breeder Reactor Accepted by Fukui Governor,

Fukushima. Thyroid Cancer Plagues Fukushima Evacuees, But Officials Deny Radiation to Blame. Fukushima town, Namie to receive compensation.  Trial of Three Key Tepco Executives Starting. 80% of voluntary evacuees not yet returned to Fukushima Prefecture.

UK. Dangerous cargo of radioactive trash flying from Scotland to South Carolina.

GERMANY. German Chancellor Merkel says budget not affected by court ruling to refund nuclear taxes.

RUSSIA. Legacy of improperly managed radioactive sites across Russia.

INDIA. The high cost of new Units 5, 6 at Kudankulam Nuclear power – most of it owed to Russia

BRAZIL. Brazil following US in rolling back climate protections.

AFRICA. Solar lamps tackling poverty and ill-health in Africa.

ANTARCTICA. Massive crack in Antarctic ice shelf is near to breaking.

 

June 2, 2017

As I write, the world is reacting to Donald Trump’s announcement  that America will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.  We knew this was coming, but it is still a shock. USA, under Barack Obama was, along with China, a world leader, at least symbolically, in the struggle to save the planet from catastrophic climate change. (Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker, has an original opinion on this.)

AUSTRALIA

Issues about climate change, and of the Adani coal project dominate the news at present.

NUCLEAR Meanwhile important nuclear issues are going on, under the radar. There are the Western Australian planned uranium projects of Yeelirrie and Wiluna

CLIMATE. Donald Trump is a “climate criminal” – Australian reaction to the USA climate deal pullout. Massive implications for Australia, in new report on sea level rise.  Sea level rise threatening Australia’s East Coast holiday beaches.

New South Wales EPA must review procedures for managing contaminated land

Uncertainty about future of existing Indigenous Protected Areas..

RENEWABLE ENERGY Ross Garnaut – green energy will be win-win for South Australia. Australian States lead in move towards renewable energy boom.   Solar power plant for Northern Territory Aboriginal community -cuts reliance on diesel. Telstra funding construction of $100 million solar farm in northern Queensland. If Glencore wants cheap energy for Mt Isa, it should go solar. Josh Frydenberg predicts ‘big battles’ within Coalition after Finkel review

INTERNATIONAL

Donald Trump excelling himself in policies to ruin not only America, but the world.

Climate deniers hijacking a climate science conference in Rome.

If USA moves into Crimea, Russia prepared to use nuclear weapons.  North Korea ramps up nuclear warning to USA. Danger of conflict between USA and North Korea: North Korea has 100 Unidentified Nuclear Facilities.

EUROPE‘s nuclear power stations aging – nearing retirement: Nuclear transboundary consultations.

USA.  

UK.The danger of catastrophic cyberattack on UK’s Trident nuclear submarines. Britain’s exit from European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) – a real damper on UK’s nuclear industry.   Theresa May govt plans to weaken climate action rules.

SOUTH KOREA. South Korea soon to announce plans to phase out nuclear power.

BELARUS. Europe should not turn a blind eye to the developing nuclear threat in Belarus.

INDIA. India going into debt to Russia, for expanded Kudankulam nuclear plant ? A victory for Indian farmers, as nuclear power proposal shifted from coastal district of Gujarat. As solar costs plunge, India rethinks coal projects.

SOUTH AFRICA. Nuclear power company Eskom wants a blank cheque from the South African government. South Africa’s anti nuclear movement renews its campaign.

CHINA. China suspends permits for new coal plants.

JAPAN.  Nuclear storage crisis grows as reactor restarts continue.  UN Rapporteur Received Reports that Japan Media Avoids Covering Ongoing Fukushima Nuclear Disaster; Reporter Demoted-Salary Reduced for Writing About Fukushima.   Toshiba to present UNAUDITED accounts at the company’s AGM next month.

SWEDEN. In Sweden, civil society can influence nuclear waste decisions.

SPAIN. A promising first: hybrid wind power storage plant in Spain using batteries.

POLYNESIA. Declassified: Polynesia  vastly affected by radioactivity from French nuclear bomb testing.

 

Australian govt plans imposing nuclear waste on South Australian rural community

May 29, 2017

28 May 2017, Submission by David Noonan, B.Sc., M.Env.St.  To:Senator The Hon Matthew Canavan  RE: Proposed Federal government imposition onto community in South Australia of an illegal “100 year” Store for ANSTO’s “10 000 year” irradiated Nuclear Fuel Wastes.

Storage of nuclear wastes affects the rights, interests and safety of all South Australians and is prohibited in our State under the Nuclear Waste Storage (Prohibition) Act 2000.

Proposed imposition of ANSTO reactor nuclear wastes is a major public interest concern in SA and detracts from public trust and confidence in the Federal government, in ARPANSA and in ANSTO.

The National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) comprises two co-located waste management facilities: an above ground 100 year Store for wastes that ARPANSA states require isolation for 10 000 years, AND a Disposal Facility for wastes requiring isolation for up to 300 years.

This submission focuses on the proposed imposition of the illegal Store & consequences thereof.

The Store is primarily for ANSTO irradiated Nuclear Fuel Wastes (NFW) and other existing and proposed reactor wastes, with only minor projected future arising’s of Intermediate Level Wastes (ILW) from States & Territories or from other Commonwealth agencies.

ARPANSA’s CEO (May 2015) has formally considered the proposed NRWMF Store and stated:

This plan will have the provision for ILW storage above ground for approximately 100 years.”

This indefinite storage plan compromises safety in importing nuclear waste to SA without a waste disposal capacity or even a requisite program for disposal of NFW and ILW.

ARPANSA’s Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council (April 2010) has provided formal advice which concluded: “that Australia’s current policy of indefinite storage for intermediate level waste does not appear to be consistent with International best practice.”

The import, transport, storage and disposal of ANSTO irradiated Nuclear Fuel Wastes is illegal in SA and was prohibited under the leadership of Liberal Premier John Olsen in 2000:

“The Objects of this Act are to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of South Australia and to protect the environment in which they live by prohibiting the establishment of certain nuclear waste storage facilities in this State”

Since April 2016 the NRWMF project has exclusively targeted community and environment in SA in an attempt to again impose an illegal Store for ANSTO’s irradiated Nuclear Fuel Waste in our State. 2

The Minister’s release “Kimba 90-day consultation begins”(20 March 2017) invited submissions on potential approval under the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 of two nominated sites near Kimba for assessment as potential sites for the proposed NRWM Facility.

This is in-parallel with the Federal government targeting the iconic Flinders Ranges on the country of the Adnyamathanha people in a serious threat to their human rights and cultural interests.

These are fundamentally State level public interest issues and represent a multi-generational threat to community in SA: including intended Federal requisition of an as yet unnamed SA port for imposition of decades of irradiated Nuclear Fuel Wastes imports, along with affected stakeholders on transport routes, in addition to the rights & interests of community around a potential Store site.

The Federal government has unacceptably failed to take up the recent Advice of the ARPANSA Nuclear Safety Committee (4 Nov 2016) for transparency and for the essential “ongoing requirement to clearly and effectively engage all stakeholders, including those along transport routes”.

This Store also exposes SA to unresolved security and potential terrorist risks in shipping, transport and indefinite above ground storage of irradiated Nuclear Fuel Wastes and other reactor wastes.

However, Lucas Heights is Australia’s best placed institution and facility to responsibly manage ANSTO’s Nuclear Fuel Wastes and can do so through-out the operating period of the Opal reactor.

An “Interim Waste Store” built at Lucas Heights in 2015 has a design life of 40 years and an approved purpose to take both the Nuclear Fuel Waste from France (NFW received Dec. 2015) and NFW to be received from the UK in circa 2020. The ARPANSA license for this Store “is not time limited” and has Contingency options to retain these NFW’s at ANSTO “until the availability of a final disposal option”.

The policy agenda to impose a NFW Store in SA is a flawed, unnecessary, contested and unsafe plan.

A broad public interest campaign protected SA rights and interests from prior Federal government attempts to impose nuclear waste facilities onto our State over 1998 to 2004 – and can do so again.

That “National Store Project” was abandoned – just as this NRWMF Store will have to be set aside.

Further, the Federal government’s flawed policy agenda for imposition of nuclear waste effectively precludes a long term resolution to Australia’s “low level” radioactive waste responsibilities.

The Minister has an obligation to learn the lessons from experience in failure of prior projects in Australia and internationally and not to deny or override key public interest community concerns.

My background includes experience as an Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Campaigner over 1996 to 2011 based in Adelaide.