A brief review of nuclear news in 2015

a-cat-CANAUSTRALIA

You wouldn’t think this, from the mainstream media coverage, but 2015 has been a successful year for the Australian nuclear-free movement, with Aboriginal led opposition to nuclear waste dump plans, the end to the Ranger uranium mine, and a lively anti-nuclear movement. In polling,  72% of Australians oppose this nation becoming the world’s radioactive trash dump.

The key nuclear issue for 2015 was radioactive trash. Australia is obligated to take back nuclear trash, reprocessed in France, UK and Argentina, but which originated at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney.

An intelligent visitor from Mars might wonder as to why Australia doesn’t just shut down that reactor, store that small amount of trash at Lucas Heights, and stop producing more, especially as a nuclear reactor is now not necessary for production of medical radioisotopes.

But hey – you’d have to explain to that Martian that Lucas Heights is the nuclear lobby’s foot in the door to Australia, and also that the lobby hopes to confuse Australians into accepting something entirely different – a global nuclear waste import business.

Hence the setting up of South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission, an attempt to establish a waste-dump in South Australia.  With breathtaking hypocrisy, this clearly biased Royal Commission pretends that this is just a South Australian matter. Australia’s government and truly pathetic mainstream media go along with this hypocrisy, so the question of Australia becoming the world’s nuclear toilet is just not even discussed across the nation.

The Australian government had already learned, to its cost, that Northern Territory indigenous landowners can defeat their plans for nuclear waste dumping on Aboriginal land. So the government was forced to set up an unwieldy system of inviting volunteers to host the nuclear waste that must be received back from France in 2016. So far,only non indigenous volunteers have been forthcoming, and these met with strong local opposition.

Despite continual funding cutbacks, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency is pushing ahead, and investing in projects which will change the face of Australia’s energy market — if the government allows it for any longer. Australia leads the world in home rooftop solar.

The Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission might have bitten off more than it intended to. There were numerous powerful and well constructed Submissions to this Commission, opposing its nuclear waste dump plan. You can read some of these at the Submissions pages on my Antinuclear website.

Space does not here permit discussion of Australia’s rather embarrassing role at the December Paris climate talks.

INTERNATIONAL

Impossible to encompass all the nuclear news for 2015, even in just headlines. So, I single out some themes that I found most interesting.

The survival of investigative journalism, even in this troubled time for print media, and for the shrinking of journalists’ employment. The two stories revealed were:

Also: Ionising Radiation & Risk of Death from Leukaemia & Lymphoma in Radiation-Monitored Workers (INWORKS): an International Cohort Study

The Paris climate agreement –  the nuclear lobby failed its goal of getting nations to adopt nuclear power as a government subsidised method of addressing climate change.

USA. Because America was the great pioneer country for nuclear power, and still the land with the most nuclear reactors, and nuclear weaponry, nuclear issues in USA are particularly important. Through 2015 the industry has grappled with the reality that it is not now economic, (if indeed it ever really was), and with the new imperative of what to do with its mounting dangerous radioactive trash. Once again, I marvel that none of the nuclear authorities have contemplating shutting down the industry, and stopping production of this toxic trash.

The global nuclear lobby came up with two survival tactics – pretending that nuclear is needed to solve climate change, and trying to overturn the science that ionising radiation is harmful to health and ecology. They went all out to get the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s radiation safety standards weakened, and to promote the quack science of “hormesis” . “Hormesis” Advocates Dodge Scientific Rigor with “Special Pleadings” – Ties to Tobacco Industry & Koch Brother Exposed. Bill Gates, Peter Thiel, Breakthrough Institute, in Paris, resembled  snake oil salesmen for new small nuclear reactors. 

Bill Gates to export ‘new nuclear’ reactors to China, where the safety regulations are slacker.

St Louis residents demanding answers on underground fire near nuclear waste. Residents of St Louis County get cancer from long-term exposure to low level radiation. Decades of bungling over radioactive landfill in St Louis County.

Repeating a few of of the many significant headlines 

Independent assessment of the state of the nuclear industry. Bleak outlook for Generation IV nuclear reactors, asGeneration III look like failing.  Nuclear lobby promotes a new ‘health disorder’ – radiophobia.

JAPAN. Declassified report shows Fukushima nuclear situation much worse than we were told.

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke out against using nuclear weapons, and  opposes renewal of Trident nuclear weapons programme.

CHINA. Tianjin explosion highlights need to prioritise environment over economic growth. China censors Internet on Tianjin explosion news. France worried that China’s hasty nuclear power programme is unsafe.

FRANCE. Gloomy financial situation for AREVA in so many ways. Safety problems may mean the end for AREVA’s EPR nuclear reactor.

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