Archive for August, 2011

BHP Billiton making $billions as it rips of Australia’s environment, and takes huge amounts of precious water

August 25, 2011

BHP Billiton: Billions in profits and not paying a cent for water in SA, Friends of the Earth Adelaide24th AUGUST 2011 Today mining giant BHP Billiton announced record financial results for the 2011 financial year, recording a total net profit of US$23. 95 billion, nearly double its 2010 figure of US$13.01 billion.

Despite its profits more than tripling in the last three years, BHP has never paid a cent for the vast amounts of water used by the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine near Roxby Downs. The mine currently uses approximately 35 million litres of water a day from the Great Artesian Basin. Under the Roxby Downs Indenture Act BHP is not required to pay for this water usage.

The Indenture Act applies specifically to the Olympic Dam mine, and provides for wide-ranging legal exemptions and overrides from environmental and Aboriginal heritage protection laws that apply elsewhere in the state, including the Environmental Protection Act and the Natural Resources Act (which incorporates water management issues).

“The Indenture Act means that the Olympic Dam mine is not subject to the same environmental regulatory framework as other industrial projects in the state,’ explained Nectaria Calan of Friends of the Earth Adelaide. “Additionally, by allowing BHP to take water from the Great Artesian Basin for free, the South Australian government is essentially providing BHP with a massive subsidy,” she continued.

The water intake from the Great Artesian Basin has already had adverse impacts on the unique Mound Springs found near Lake Eyre, which are fed by the underlying Artesian Basin, and are sacred to the Arabunna people, the traditional owners of the area.

As part of the proposed expansion of the Olympic Dam mine, BHP Billiton proposes to increase its water consumption by an additional 200 million litres per day. Water intake from the Great Artesian Basin will increase to up to 42 million litres per day, with the remainder to come from a proposed desalination plant at Point Lowly. This amounts to over 100,000 litres of water per minute.

 “The vast water usage of uranium mines is often forgotten in the debate about uranium and nuclear energy. Here we are, in the driest state on the driest continent on earth, host to a mine which needs millions of litres of water each day. Due to the Indenture Act, we are essentially exporting our water overseas for free,” said Ms. Calan.

The Indenture Act is currently the subject of negotiations between BHP Billiton and the South Australian government. In the near future amendments will be introduced into parliament to extend the Indenture Act to the proposed expansion.

“The South Australian government is planning to allow the largest uranium mine in the world to go ahead with legal privileges that will allow BHP an impunity characteristic of some third world states,” said Ms. Calan. “The Indenture Act should be repealed completely, allowing BHP to be subject to the same laws as other corporations operating in the state.”


“adaptive radiation” and “radiation hormesis” – quack science in Australia

August 22, 2011

After Fukushima: the rise of nuclear radiation denialists  Independent Australia 22 Aug 11,After the Fukushima disaster, the nuclear industry has urgently redoubled its efforts to convince the world that nuclear radiation is safe. Now it seems they are trying to say that radiation is actually good for us. Noel Wauchope reports.

In 2001, President Bill Clinton authorised funds to research the effects of radiation on the “downwinders” from the Nevada and Utah atomic bomb tests. The funds went to the Department of Energy, who designed the research project. They then allocated the project to Flinders University in South Australia, under the leadership of Professor Pam Sykes.

But the original intention of the research has taken a strangely perverted course.  Pam Sykes has joined the proponents of “adaptive radiation” and “radiation hormesis” –  the theory that “low level ionising radiation is good for you” It’s quite an old theory, but now, after Fukushima, it has suddenly become very useful to the nuclear and uranium lobbies……..

HOW PAM SYKES HAS CHANGED DIRECTION (SUITING THE NUCLEAR LOBBY)    Early on in her research, Pam Sykes was following up the idea that human individuals vary in their susceptibility to low level radiation — that some are more susceptible than others.

Dr Sykes’ current view deviates markedly from the statements she made prior to the signing of the 2001 US Department of Energy research contract which funded her. US DOE still funds her. The aim of the original funding as authorised by President Clinton was in service of US Downwinder victims.

In 2001, Dr Sykes and Flinders University issued a press release which stated in part:  ”….If you have a limit based on the whole population but some the population are more sensitive, then perhaps you need a lower limit.”

They [Pam Sykes, Bobby Scott etc] are the “radiation sceptics”, very much comparable to “climate change sceptics”.  Their belief in “radiation hormesis” is comparable to “intelligent design” — as opposed to evolution.

Their common funding sources are nuclear energy agencies — in particular the USA Department of Energy…… (DOE)…..

$1.6 trillion for weapons development, $50 billion for food development

August 20, 2011

Homo Sapiens are wise in name only, Canberra Times, BY JULIAN CRIBB , 20 aug 11,

“………Humans invest $1.6trillion a year in new weapons – but only $50billion a year in better ways to produce food. Despite progress in arms reduction, the world still has around 20,000 nuclear warheads and at least 19 countries now have access to them or to the technology to make them. Finally, we are in the process of destroying a great many things which are real – soil, water, energy, resources, other species, our health – for the sake of something that exists chiefly in our imagination: money. To trade something real for something imaginary hardly appears wise.

Finally, as a growing number of eminent scientists are now saying, these things carry the risk of catastrophic changes to the Earth’s systems, deleterious not only to our own future but to that of all life.

When these issues are considered, it is difficult to justify a single epithet of ”wise”, let alone two of them. Our official sub-species name is Homo sapiens sapiens (”wise wise man”), which now looks not only like conceit – but insecurity. Such a name sends a totally misleading signal about the capacity – let alone the will – of humanity, as a whole, to manage the consequences of its own actions…..

Solar costs equal coal. Silex moves some jobs to China

August 18, 2011

Solar energy costs hits par with coal fuel Ben Cubby, Brian Robins, Melissa Lahoud, August 18, 2011 THE cost of solar power in parts of NSW has for the first time crept below that of coal-fired electricity – seen as a key tipping point for the expansion of renewable energy.

New data shows solar power is edging towards ”grid parity”, after which it becomes cheaper than fossil fuel-generated energy such as coal and gas, even taking into account the upfront cost of buying rooftop solar panels.

But it was one of the few bright spots for an industry suffering from a 93 per cent drop in rooftop panel installations since the boom late last year at the peak of the NSW bonus scheme.

Workers at Australia’s only commercial solar cell maker, the Silex plant at Homebush in Sydney, were told yesterday that cell production would be outsourced to China.

Nevertheless, the flow-on effects of the subsidies have helped achieve grid parity across wide areas of rural NSW. For the first time, the amount paid to households feeding power to the electricity grid passed 28¢ a kilowatt hour, which is the equivalent of buying coal-fired power from a utilities company

Andrew Blakers, the director of the centre for sustainable energy systems at the Australian National University, said: ”If you look at the prices being paid today, we have already reached grid parity in a lot of places except Melbourne and Hobart.”…..

The Australian Photovoltaic Association said that while some areas had reached grid parity, it could be several years before solar electricity was worth more than coal-fired electricity in most of NSW, and that depended on state and federal policy.

”A 1.5 kilowatt system in Sydney is probably going to be cost effective next year or the year after, depending on whether we get a carbon price,” said Muriel Watt, the chairwoman of the association and a senior lecturer in renewable energy engineering at the University of NSW.

The amount of solar energy generated in NSW has surged above the cap imposed by the previous state government…….

At the Silex plant yesterday, about 30 people were told they would be made redundant and others would be redeployed because the company could no longer afford to compete with cheaper, imported solar cells. The panels will still be made at the plant.

The chief executive, Michael Goldsworthy, said: “This type of silicon flat panel technology was actually invented here in Sydney at the University of NSW … that’s the sad thing. Now it’s all gone offshore.”

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union said many of the workers had previously worked in the same plant with BP Solar, and were being made redundant for the second time….

TV’s CHannel 9 has the guts to spell it out on Fukushima nuclear radiation

August 16, 2011

Aussie 60 Min and Kaku: Fukushima and Chernobyl Radiation In All Of Us   Asian Week,  BY  ARTHUR HU – AUGUST 14, 2011 As usual, US media is carrying next to zero coverage of the continuing nuclear mess as now radiation is affecting rice, mushrooms, hay, beef, tea, fish, seafood, sewage, playgrounds, compost, firewood, and now they can’t even drain swimming pools that are contaminated with fallout. …

 mainstream pieces from a very good Australian 60 minutes program. Australia has done a much better job of covering the crisis as opposed to US media which seems to be more covering up and coverage.
In this episode, they hop in a van but have to withdraw once they get within 20 km (10 mi) of the plant because the radiation detectors are going crazy. Remember the workers trying to clean up the plant have to work in this stuff all day when they signed up to work at a fully working plant that isn’t leaking radiation until the cows come home. They tallied 126,000 refugees and visited one of the many families with no job and no home living on a floor with cardboard box cubicles where kids have drawn in windows and pictures of the outdoors. There are pastures in England that still are too contaminated from Chernobyl to pasture cows 25 years later. They got to tour the Chernobyl site where discarded clothing in the hospital basement where they treated the first wave of firefighters who were fatally exposed was still radioactive. People who leave the area must be scanned because the air, water and food are all contaminated, and they’re still not even sure if the reactor fuel which is a massive hot glob on a concrete floor is still generating heat because it’s too dangerous to even check it. They estimate 5M people have been affected just locally, not counting the rest of europe, and they have set up hospitals for children whose medical conditions and cancers were almost certainly caused by the nuclear accident.
Michio Kaku is on throughout with his grim assessment that radiation from Chernobyl and now Fukushima circulated around the planet many times and is, measurabley or not, in all of us sooner or later….
I just went through some of the documentaries on Youtube about Three Mile Island which sounded eeriely like Fukushima – ….

New England group formed to counter Australia’s pro nuclear spin

August 11, 2011

Protest against nuclear centre Glen Innes Examiners, AMY SLESSOR

9 Aug 2011 AGROUP of four people showed their angst against the idea of a nuclear power plant in our region during the opening of the New England Nuclear Energy centre’s opening on Saturday morning.Enaowyn O’Sirideain, Rachel Christie, Chris Wharton and Anita Stewart had signs and aired their concerns in the middle of Grey St.After their protest, a Facebook page entitled the Stand Against Nuclear Energy SANE New England Group was created and yesterday afternoon it had 511 members.

At 11am today, the group has organised a meeting for anyone who wants to get involved in the stand against nuclear energy.

“We take this very, very seriously,” Ms O’Sirideain said.

“There is a looming energy crisis and there is a real threat as to what will come of nuclear power.

“The group page on Facebook has proven we have a lot of support – especially gaining so many members in such a short time.

“We will be a force to be reckoned with and we are not going to go away.”

Ms O’Sirideain said the main reason for setting up the group and organising a meeting today was to give people an informed choice.

“It is a big issue that is not going to go away and we want to make sure people have all the facts.”

The aim of the group is also to have an official website on the negatives of nuclear energy as well as organise a public rally.

“We are also going to create a petition for people to say no to nuclear energy,” Ms O’Sirideain said. “Everyone involved has bright minds and we are very passionate.

“Our support will keep growing; we do have a voice and we will use it.” To find out more about the meeting today, contact Enaowyn O’Sirideain on 0488 961 491 or 6732 5194.

South Australian govt will let BHP Billiton make the rules on Olympic Dam uranium mine expansion

August 9, 2011

South Australia over a barrel on Olympic Dam, Greens say, Herald Sun, AAP, August 08, 2011  BHP BILLITON has South Australia well and truly over a barrel with Olympic Dam expansion negotiations, the Greens say.

The much-publicised $30 billion copper and uranium mine extension will make Olympic Dam in South Australia the world’s biggest mine and transform it into a trillion dollar project with a life of at least 100 years.

The mining giant has yet to make a final investment decision on the massive expansion with investors watching around the globe.

State Premier Mike Rann will step down on October 20 hoping to complete by then the state’s negotiations with the company over the proposed extension.

SA Greens Leader Mark Parnell says nominating that deadline leaves SA in a “terrible negotiating position”.

“All BHP Billiton has to do is hold out and watch the clock ticking down, knowing the premier needs their signature on the deal before October 20,” Mr Parnell said.

BHP Billiton wants to ship the ore to China and with it many of the jobs, leaving an enormous toxic waste pile and risking our marine environment, Mr Parnell said.

“It’s not too late for the Government to insist on a better deal; but by setting an artificial deadline BHP Billiton can stare the Government down,” he said.

“South Australia deserves better than the Government tying a leadership stoush to the most important development decision in our state for a generation.”

Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia makes $1.3 billion loss

August 9, 2011
 Energy Resources of Australia Uranium Reserves cut by 46 percent,, by Charles Kennedy
, 07 August 2011 14:25
Since the 11 March Fukushima catastrophe, nuclear energy companies worldwide have been pummeled by the new market realities, as more and more countries turn away from nuclear power…..

Rio Tinto’s locally listed uranium subsidiary, Energy Resources of Australia, has slashed uranium reserves by 46 percent and shelving a planned expansion, The Australian newspaper reported.

The Darwin-based ERA has also reported a January-June 2011 net loss of $121.75 million, down from a $22.7 million profit a year earlier. Contributing factors for the loss include disappointing first-half production figures from its Ranger uranium mine after heavy rains stopped operations as well as uncertainty over the immediate future of uranium markets in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

ERA’s share price fell sharply to its lowest close since 2004 following its downgrading of estimated reserves at its key Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory from 29,800 tons to 16,000 tons, which wiped $99 million of inventory value from ERA’s balance sheet.
ERA stock has fallen 70 percent in the past year, representing a $1.3 billion loss for Rio, which has a 68.4 percent stake in ERA.

An Australian apologises to Japan on the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima

August 5, 2011

Apologising for the bomb: a letter on our anniversary The Drum, Luke Stickels, 5 August 11

Dear Japan,

Today marks 66 years since your city, Hiroshima, faced the world’s first ever nuclear attack, and I thought I would write to apologise……..

at approximately 8.15am on 6 August, 1945, the United States dropped a gun-type atomic bomb called Little Boy on Hiroshima. Between 70,000-80,000 people, or approximately 30 per cent of Hiroshima’s population, were killed instantly by what the subsequent US Bombing Survey termed “inefficient” nuclear fission, which nevertheless cleared 12 square kilometers of the city and 69 per cent of its buildings.  I am sorry that Little Boy was not even less efficient; in fact I wish it had failed altogether. Another 70,000 of your people were injured, with 90 per cent of doctors and 93 per cent of nurses among the casualties, significantly disabling treatment for the injured and substantially raising the final death toll.

Three days later, at 11:01am on August 9, while your government officials were still scrambling to ascertain the extent of damage done and the nature of this new threat, the US dropped a second, implosion-type atomic bomb called Fat Man on the city of Nagasaki. An estimated 40,000 people died in the initial blast, with 60,000 more injured.[3] By January 1946, approximate acute deaths range from 90,000 to 166,000 for Hiroshima, and from 60,000 to 80,000 for Nagasaki, whose inhabitants were somewhat protected from the blast by an undulating geography…..

the atomic bombings were done for me, for my alleged freedom, so I apologise sincerely for constituting part of the rationale against you. While I had nothing to do with US president Truman’s initial public statements about seeking to avoid civilian casualties, I do apologise for my country’s lack of widespread outrage when so many scientific and political leaders’ statements were revealed to be untrue over the ensuing decades.

Truman statements are particularly galling, mind you, given that all potential targets were selected for their strategic significance and urban civilian density, as well as to maximise blast potential and incendiary damage. By ruling out the other 66 cities that had already been significantly firebombed, by considering the surrounding geography – particularly of mountains to focus the blast – and by having both bombs explode in mid-air, the Targeting Committee could achieve what they called “the greatest psychological effect against Japan”, and generate an event “sufficiently spectacular” for the global community…….

I’m sorry that two days before Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, Truman learned that the Twentieth Air Force had mined all your major harbours, thus finalising a comprehensive blockade that would literally as well as figuratively starve you, with or without a mainland offensive.[6] Truman himself advised one of his senators two days before Nagasaki’s bombing, that the Japanese would “very shortly fold up” with the Russians entering the war.[7] It is apparent from Allied leadership correspondence that your defeat had been a question of details for most of 1945, and there is a good case to be made for the late Soviet entry into the war as the decisive factor in you accepting unconditional surrender at last.[8] So I guess I’m sorry that most Australians believe that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki succeeded in ending the war and forestalling a grueling home invasion of your lands, when the case against this rationale is so easily available from decades of declassified US state sources.– ….

Finally, perhaps you wonder why I am apologising. After all, I didn’t have anything to do with the design of the bomb, or with the decision or strategy to attack you with it.. I didn’t vote for Truman, Churchill, or even Chifley. And anyway, you did keep my grandfather imprisoned at various POW camps, including the infamous Changi Prison in Singapore. If you didn’t ruin his life exactly, you certainly transformed it. Who knows if that’s why he drank so much, and who knows how that affected my mum and how she raised me. On my own drunken walk home through the streets of Tokyo’s western suburbs, my friend Mitsu and I realised both our grandfathers fought each other; not directly (my grandfather was a medic, for starters) but against each other nonetheless. And they were, in a very real way, fighting for Mitsu and I, who would not be born for decades.
We inherit from the past our own conditions of living. We inherit the burdens, responsibilities and sacrifices, as well as the opportunities. Whether I like it or not, I am part of the rationale against you, that led to the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. All this I owe to you, Japan, when I apologise. ….

Australia and Anti Nuclear News

August 5, 2011

Australia’s media is dominated by the Murdoch virtual monopoly – with 70% of media controlled by right wing news favouring the polluting industries.  Excessive and uncritical attention is paid to nuclear industry salesmen – such as Ziggy Switkowski, Martin Ferguson, Michael Angwin and Barry Brook

This site is one of several Australian sites that aim to counteract this bias, which is so damaging to Australia’s democracy.

The site is updated only once each day, as we choose one particularly significant item, from those available each day.

For a more complete account of each day’s  nuclear news for Australia, please go to