Archive for the ‘National’ Category

Nuclear propagandist Ben Heard caught out in shoddy misinformation on nuclear waste importing plan

February 4, 2017

heardben

The only way to avoid gambling hundreds of millions or billions of SA taxpayers’ dollars would be in the wildly improbable scenario that potential client countries would take that gamble.

Taipower clearly states that it would not consider sending waste to another country unless and until that country has developed a repository. Yet the economic case developed by Jacobs and MCM collapses if revenue (and waste) is not received before construction of a repository.

Finally, Mr Heard’s promotion of fast breeder reactors is beyond stupid….. Most of the countries that invested in fast breeder reactors have given up, deciding not to throw good money after bad. Last year, Japan decided to give up on the Monju fast breeder reactor, a fiasco that will cost Japanese taxpayers A$17.3 billion in construction, operation and decommissioning costs despite the fact that the reactor rarely operated.

The Royal Commission completely rejected proposals advanced by Heard and others for ‘advanced fast reactors’, noting in its final report that such reactors are unlikely to be feasible or viable in the foreseeable future; that the development of such a first-of-a-kind project would have high commercial and technical risk

Friends of the Earth Australia has today written to all Members of the SA House of Assembly and Legislative Council, and SA political representatives in the Federal Parliament, responding to the latest round of misinformation from those proposing to turn SA into the world’s high-level nuclear waste dump.

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To: Members of the SA House of Assembly and Legislative Council

From: Jim Green
National nuclear campaigner
Friends of the Earth, Australia     Feb. 3, 2017

EXPOSING THE LATEST MISINFORMATION FROM THE NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP LOBBY

Dear Members of the SA House of Assembly and Legislative Council,
The Advertiser has today run an article including false claims from nuclear lobbyist / uranium industry consultant / PhD student Ben Heard that Jay Weatherill’s plan to turn SA into the world’s high-level nuclear waste dump could be pursued without the need to gamble hundreds of millions or billions of dollars with no guarantee of any return on the investment.

Mr Heard is quoted saying that the “notion of high upfront cost to South Australia is a persistent and deliberate lie first peddled by deceitful environmental groups and now, sadly, taken up by the Liberal Party.”

In fact, the necessity of gambling hundreds of millions or billions of dollars ‒ without the slightest guarantee of any return on the investment ‒ is clearly spelt out by Jacobs, the economics consulting firm commissioned by the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

Jacobs Project Manager / Consultant Tim Johnson told the SA Joint Select Committee that “total expenditure prior to the decision to proceed” is likely to be from around A$300 million to in excess of A$600 million, depending on the timing of the decision to proceed. (Letter to Joint Standing Committee, 5 July 2016.)

Dr Johnson told the Joint Select Committee that the project entails very significant economic risks: “It isn’t a risk-free process to go into this. There is a very significant risk.” Yet the nuclear waste dump lobby persist with the fabrication that the project can be pursued without economic risks.

Jacobs noted the potential for initial outlays in the billions in its report for the Royal Commission: “Under the cash-flow assumptions of the baseline, where no revenues ahead of delivery are assumed (a deliberately conservative assumption), there is an initial outlay of A$2.4 billion (real) in net terms.” (Jacobs, Paper 5, sec 4.4, Cash flow profile for the baseline, p.205.)

Any suggestion that the nuclear waste dump project could be a quick fix for the SA economy were dispelled by the Royal Commission’s report, which stated (emphasis added): “Careful characterisation over several decades is required to confirm the suitability of the geological conditions.”

The only way to avoid gambling hundreds of millions or billions of SA taxpayers’ dollars would be in the wildly improbable scenario that potential client countries would take that gamble. If anyone needs any convincing as to the improbability of that scenario, it came late last year in correspondence from the Taiwanese government’s energy and nuclear agencies. As Daniel Wills reported in The Advertiser: “TAIWAN’S state-owned energy company has bluntly rejected Investment and Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith’s claim the country would consider paying to help set up a nuclear waste dump in SA, saying in a letter that it “hereby declares this is a false information”.”

Taipower clearly states that it would not consider sending waste to another country unless and until that country has developed a repository. Yet the economic case developed by Jacobs and MCM collapses if revenue (and waste) is not received before construction of a repository. The Final Report of the Royal Commission states (p.300) (emphasis added): “Figure J.8 also demonstrates that a facility configuration scenario is viable only with the establishment of a surface interim storage facility capable of accepting used fuel prior to construction of geological disposal facilities. Configurations 3 and 4, which did not include interim storage facilities (see Table J.1), did not generate profits because of the delay in receiving waste and associated revenues.”

Taiwan’s Atomic Energy Council is clearly sensitive to SA public opinion, pointing to the Citizen Jury’s rejection of the proposal and noting that: “Without the understanding and support from Australian … nuclear waste storage cannot be developed.”

The nuclear waste dump lobbyists are hanging on to the ludicrous proposition that potential client countries will gamble hundreds of millions or billions of dollars on a waste dump plan that is:
* Opposed by three political parties in SA (Liberals, Greens, NXT) and by many within the ALP.
* Opposed by a majority of South Australians (e.g. 31% support vs. 53% opposition in the SA Government’s statewide consultation process; and a November 2016 poll commissioned by the Sunday Mail found just 35% support.)
* Opposed by a vast majority of Aboriginal Traditional Owners on whose land the high-level nuclear waste dump would necessarily be located. (The SA government’s Community Views Report said: “There was a significant lack of support for the government to continue pursuing any form of nuclear storage and disposal facilities. Some Aboriginal people indicated that they are interested in learning more and continuing the conversation, but these were few in number.”)
* Rejected by two-thirds of the 350-strong Citizens’ Jury “under any circumstances”.

Taiwan has clearly stated that it has no intention of gambling vast sums of money on a nuclear dump in SA and it is equally improbable that any other potential client country would do so. In which case South Australians would need to gamble hundreds of millions or billions of dollars on a project with no guarantee of any return on the investment.

Late last year, Mr Heard had to correct a statement falsely claiming that most South Australians support the high-level nuclear dump plan and he begins 2017 with another falsehood. He should have the decency to apologise to the Liberal Party and to environment groups for his latest falsehood and slander. Interestingly, the statement falsely claiming that most South Australians support the high-level nuclear dump plan was endorsed by SA’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Leanna Read. Shamefully, the state’s chief fact-checker didn’t bother to check her facts.

Mr Heard also conveniently ignores real-world experience with nuclear waste projects:
* Estimates of the clean-up costs for a range of (civil and military) UK nuclear sites including Sellafield have nearly doubled from a 2005 estimate of £56 billion (A$91.6 billion) to over £100 billion (A$163.6 billion)
* In 2005, the French government’s nuclear waste agency Andra estimated the cost of a deep geological repository at between €13.5 and €16.5 billion (A$19.0‒23.2 billion). In 2016, Andra estimates the cost of the repository at between €20 billion to €30 billion (A$28.1‒42.2 billion). As with the UK, the latest French estimates are nearly double the earlier estimates.
* Between 2001 and 2008, the estimated cost of constructing the Yucca Mountain high level nuclear waste repository in the USA and operating it for 150 years increased by 67%, from US$57.5 billion to US$96.2 billion (A$75.1 billion ‒ $125.7 billion). Yucca Mountain was abandoned – so the USA wasted US$13.5 billion (A$17.6 billion) and still doesn’t have a repository.

The Nuclear Economics Consulting Group report commissioned by the SA Joint Select Committee concluded that the nuclear waste import project could be profitable under certain assumptions but the report then raises serious questions about most of those assumptions. The NECG report notes that the Royal Commission’s economic analysis didn’t even consider some important issues which “have significant serious potential to adversely impact the project and its commercial outcomes”; that assumptions about price are “overly optimistic” and if that is the case “project profitability is seriously at risk”; that the 25% cost contingency for delays and blowouts is likely to be a significant underestimate; and that the assumption the project would capture 50% of the available market had “little support or justification”.

Finally, Mr Heard’s promotion of fast breeder reactors is beyond stupid. For all the rhetoric about Generation IV fast breeder reactors, and the US$100+ billion invested worldwide, only five such reactors are operating worldwide (three of them experimental) and only one is under construction (in India). Most of the countries that invested in fast breeder reactors have given up, deciding not to throw good money after bad. Last year, Japan decided to give up on the Monju fast breeder reactor, a fiasco that will cost Japanese taxpayers A$17.3 billion in construction, operation and decommissioning costs despite the fact that the reactor rarely operated.

The Royal Commission completely rejected proposals advanced by Heard and others for ‘advanced fast reactors’, noting in its final report that such reactors are unlikely to be feasible or viable in the foreseeable future; that the development of such a first-of-a-kind project would have high commercial and technical risk; that there is no licensed, commercially proven design and development to that point would require substantial capital investment; and that electricity generated from such reactors has not been demonstrated to be cost competitive with current light water reactor designs.

Hansard reveals how Australian government tricks the public on High Level Nuclear Waste

February 4, 2017
text-half-truth Steve Dale Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, 4 Feb 17   Seems like Australia put a lot of effort to get other nations to call “High Level Waste” intermediate level. It didn’t work. USA, Canada, France, Japan and UK still call Vitrified reprocessed waste “High Level”.
From Hansard: “Mrs CROSIO – If we have international definitions, why in evidence we have received do they keep on saying that ANSTO refer to their waste at one level as intermediate waste where America would classify that same waste as high level waste? Why are we different?

Prof. Garnett – America is the one that is different. America has not yet adopted the internationally agreed definitions. Dr Cameron is on the committee. He is also involved in the International Atomic Energy Agency. My director of materials, Dr Jostsons, whom you met, is also on relevant committees, and at this stage America is not conforming with the internationally agreed definitions.” Joint Committee on Public Works 14/05/99
In a response to Professor Garnett 21/02/2002 – “Senator SCHACHT —We have had a raging debate in South Australia about whether there should be a depository for low level nuclear waste, high level nuclear waste and—now I can see—intermediate level waste. If you want to go to South Australia and announce that no high level nuclear waste from Lucas Heights will be stored in the future, but we are going to call it intermediate nuclear waste from the spent fuel rods after reprocessing, good luck to you as you get chased out of town. No-one is going to believe you that that is a thing that South Australians want to live with.”decades.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/

South Australian Liberals criticised unfairly by Ben Heard

February 4, 2017

logo-bright-new-world

In his latest pro nuclear spiel, on his front group “Bright New World” Ben Heard attacks South Australia’s Liberal Party. He attacks them for ignoring the evidence of (so-called) “Independent” experts.

Those experts are in fact, highly biased pro nuclear lobbyists. Dr Tim Johnson of Jacob Consulting, a leading advocate for underground nuclear storage in S.A. Jim Voss the ex-MD of Pangea Resources – a failed joint venture attempt to bring High Level nuclear waste to Australia in the late 1990s. Voss has global links in the nuclear industry at the highest level. Through UCL he lectured South Australians on the glories of nuclear.

Australian government confused about nuclear waste- as extracts from Hansard show

January 21, 2017
 Australian environmental watchdog activists are studying  the tired old arguments rehashed in Parliament   since the 1950s. Here’s  a sample of their findings on nuclear waste .
Steve Dale  Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia From 2006 – “We need to know what sort of fuel we are talking about, and it is important that we understand this. It is not physically Australian waste material that will be returned.
If you listen to the government, you would say we are getting a neat package of fuel sent back to us after it has been reprocessed. This is simply not the case. What we will get back will be a proportion of the by-product of spent fuel from every country that sends its waste to France for reprocessing, divided between the contributing countries.
Each country of origin of the waste will receive a proportion of different elements from the reprocessing of the fuel. The main elements are vitrified fission product—high-level waste compacted residues, the hulls and end pieces from the metallic casings—and also high-level waste uranium and plutonium.” Mr Snowden, 19 October 2006. Found with search terms “nuclear vitrified high”
  In various places it was mention that radioactive waste would be “safe” after 300 years. Members were obviously being told that by their advisors. The intense Gamma from Cesium-137 would be gone after 300 years, but the Plutonium etc. will be there for hundreds of thousands of years – I really got the impression that the members of Parliament were not being told the complete truth by their advisors/lobbyists.
diagram-waste-levels
 
Is vitrified waste from La Hague High Level? Back in 1997 the government thought so – “(2) The high-level radioactive waste being carried by the Pacific Teal is in a vitrified form,…… ” – Senator Hill 24 March 1997 and “(3) The waste being carried by the Pacific Teal is high-level radioactive waste (HLW), consisting of mixed fission products resulting from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. The waste is in a vitrified form ….” Senator Hill 4 March 1997.   https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/

“Environmentalists” Ben Heard and Barry Brook now openly spruiking for nuclear reprocessing in South Australia

January 21, 2017

logo-bright-new-worldThese two nuclear spruikers have been at it for decades – promoting the nuclear industry under the cover of pretending to be environmentalists.

Now they’re at least ‘coming out’ about being nuclear lobbyists.   It is surprising that  the Australian National University is publishing  (in the Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies journal)  their claims about recycling nuclear waste as a multi $billion windfall for South Australia. They even claim that nuclear waste reprocessing for South Australia would have ‘significant environmental benefits’!

Ben Heard enthuses that South Australia can ‘commercialise leading technology’ Ben Heard worked on this with former Liberal Senator Sean Edwards.

They’re trying to make a mark on the international scene with their new project “Bright New [Nuclear] World”.   But this is their new project’s first foray into the Australian scene.

Arrest of top Lucas Heights nuclear security official, over ‘official secrets’ and illegal gun possession

December 26, 2016

secret-agent-AustLucas Heights security boss Anthony Haddad charged over ‘official secrets’, gun SMH, 24 Dec 16, Eamon Duff. A security consultant who held a “top secret” government clearance inside Australia’s only nuclear facility has been arrested and charged with the
illegal possession of “official secrets” and an unauthorised weapon.

Until February last year, Anthony Rami Haddad was manager of security and operations at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor, safeguarding the site against theft, diversion and sabotage.

However, following  a stint in the Middle easrt where he worked on another nuclear security project, he returned hom eto Sydney, and last month became entangled in an unrelated investigation being run by the Australian Federal Police’s fraud and anti-corruption team.

A fortnight ago, Haddad appeared before Sydney’s Downi8ng Centre Local court, where he pleaded guilty to unauthorised receipt of official secrets under the Commonwealth crimes Act.

He has yet to enter a plea for a second charge, ppossessing an unauthorised prohibited firearm. His barrister, Nikolaos Siafakas, will apply to have the outstanding matter dealt with under section 32 of teh Mental Health Act……..

According to ANSTO documents, Haddad’s many responsibilities at Lucas Heights included the “mamagement of security operations” at the onsite Little Forest radioactive waste dump and its “seamless integration” into the facility’s “wider” protective security systems.

Haddad will reappear in court on February 7  http://www.smh.com.au/national/lucas-heights-security-boss-anthony-haddad-charged-over-official-secrets-gun-20161223-gthdwv.html

Arrest of Lucas Heights nuclear security consultant

December 24, 2016

secret-agent-AustWhy is this article , from The Age print version, not published on the Internet version?

The Age, 24 Dec 16, Eamon Duff. A security consultant who held a “top secret” government clerance inside Australia’s only nuclear facility has been arrested and charged with the
illegal possession of “official secrets” and an unauthorised weapon.

Until February last year, Anthony Rami Haddad was manager of security and operations at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor, safeguarding the site against theft, diversion and sabotage.

However, following  a stint in the Middle easrt where he worked on another nuclear security project, he returned hom eto Sydney, and last month became entangled in an unrelated investigation being run by the Australian Federal Police’s fraud and anti-corruption team.

A fortnight ago, Haddad appeared before Sydney’s Downi8ng Centre Local court, where he pleaded guilty to unauthorised receipt of official secrets under the Commonwealth crimes Act.

He has yet to enter a plea for a second charge, ppossessing an unauthorised prohibited firearm. His barrister, Nikolaos Siafakas, will apply to have the outstanding matter dealt with under section 32 of teh Mental Health Act……..

According to ANSTO documents, Haddad’s many responsibilities at Lucas Heights included the “mamagement of security operations” at the onsite Little Forest radioactive waste dump and its “seamless integration” into the facility’s “wider” protective security systems.

Haddad will reappear in court on Februaty 7. No link available. I couldn’t find this on the Internet

Critique of Preliminary Report SOUTH AUSTRALIAN SEPARATION EVENT, Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)

December 19, 2016

electricity-interconnector

Dennis Matthews, 18 Dec 16 , 1 DECEMBER 2016. 

The “separation event” was the disconnection of the Heywood interconnector into South Australia.

The following uses the same headings as the AEMO preliminary report.

1. Overview

A short-circuit in a Victorian 500 kV (kilovolt), alternating current (AC) transmission line connected to the Heywood Victorian-SA interconnector resulted in the SA electricity network being disconnected from the Heywood interconnector.

At the time of the “incident” the Victorian electricity network was highly vulnerable to disruption. One of the two circuits served by the Heywood interconnector had been taken out of operation for maintenance. To make matters worse, one of the circuits supplying the Alcoa aluminium smelter at Portland was also out of service. Like all aluminium smelters, the Portland smelter had a very heavy electricity demand (about 480 MW).

The vulnerability of the Victorian electricity network meant that the SA network was also vulnerable to an abrupt loss of 230 MW. Nevertheless, no measures had been put in place to immediately replace power supply from Victoria in the event of disconnection from the Haywood interconnector. As with the SA state-wide blackout two months earlier, there was more than sufficient generating capacity available in SA but it was not on standby.

A short circuit in the remaining transmission line in Victoria to the Heywood interconnector resulted in SA and the Portland smelter being disconnected and the shutdown of two wind farms in Victoria.

The “incident” in Victoria, together with inadequate contingency plans resulted in the loss of 230 MW to SA, BHP’s Olympic Dam project losing 100 of its 170 MW for 3 hours, Portland smelter being disconnected for 4½ hours and disconnection of two wind farms (Portland generating 3MW, and Macarthur generating 4MW) in Victoria.

2. Pre-event Conditions

“Immediately prior to the incident there were two planned outages.”

Use of terms such as “incident” and “event” is reminiscent of the nuclear industry’s avoidance of terms such as “failure” , “accident”, and “meltdown”.

“Planned outage” refers to deliberate disconnection of parts of the system for maintenance or repairs. Such deliberate disconnections should be permitted only if they do not expose the system to serious disruption and only if there is sufficient backup in case of a fault developing in the remaining parts of the system. For SA no backup was put on standby in the case of SA being disconnected to the Heywood interconnector.

One of the “outages” referred to was that one half of the Heywood supply to SA (a 500 kV busbar) was out of service. This left SA and Victoria vulnerable to a fault developing in the remaining half of the Heywood supply. The other “outage” was the Heywood to Portland 500 kV transmission line servicing the Alcoa aluminium smelter.

Both outages were given permission by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

These two decisions left the aluminium smelter vulnerable to a fault developing in the remaining half of the Heywood transmission line in Victoria. There was no backup plan for maintaining supply to the smelter in this contingency.

At the time, SA was importing about 240 MW from Heywood in Victoria.

3. Event

“A single phase to earth fault occurred on the Morabool-Tarrone 500 kV transmission line causing the line to trip out of service.” In other words, there was a short circuit in the only remaining transmission line in Victoria to the Heywood interconnector.

“It is believed that the line tripped as a normal response to this type of fault”. The short circuit caused the transmission line to Heywood to be disconnected (trip).

The short circuit was caused by the breaking of an electrical cable. The reason for the cable breaking was not known to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The “trip” of the transmission line left the Portland smelter still connected to SA, the power flow reversed so that instead of 240 MW into SA from Victoria there was 480 MW from SA to Victoria to supply the Portland smelter. A control scheme then disconnected the smelter from SA.

5 Operation of SA when Islanded

Islanded means that SA was on its own as far as power supply was concerned, in particular, it means that it was not receiving power from Victoria. In fact, SA was still receiving about 220 MW through the high voltage, direct current (DC), Victoria-SA, Murraylink interconnector.

Critique of ‘BLACK SYSTEM, SOUTH AUSTRALIA’ Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) Report

December 19, 2016

electricity-interconnector

Soon after the state-wide blackout, people in SA were subjected to unedifying performances from Federal politicians who tried to blame the blackout on the renewable energy industry, wind energy in particular. Months later, and in the face of factual evidence supplied by AEMO, these politicians still show no sign of repenting.

Dennis Matthews, December 2016 BLACK SYSTEM, SOUTH AUSTRALIA, 28 SEPTEMBER 2016.
3rd Preliminary Report, December 2016 Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)

Introduction

The “Black System” referred to by AEMO is what is more commonly known as the South Australian state-wide blackout. AEMO also refers to it as “the event”. The AEMO report contains considerable technical jargon and use of acronyms. Constant referral to a list of terms and abbreviations at the beginning of the report is necessary.

AEMO Executive Summary

According to the executive summary, the SA blackout was “initiated by the loss of three transmission lines involving a sequence of faults in quick succession”. These electricity transmission lines are the high voltage power lines that feed into the low voltage distribution system that services homes and many small to medium businesses.

The damaged transmission lines were in the mid-north of SA.

The sequence of faults led to many wind turbine electricity generators in the mid-north initially trying to continue to generate. Within 7 seconds, these initial attempts to “ride through” the problems caused by transmission line damage were followed by wind turbines deliberately shutting down (tripping), or decreasing their output, in order to protect them from serious damage. This caused a decrease of power generation by about 460 megawatts (MW). Prior to the transmission line damage, the total generated grid power available to SA was about 1830 MW. Domestic, off-grid, solar photovoltaic power was about 50 MW.

Although it seems reasonable that wind turbines should have an ability to shut down to protect against serious damage, according to the report “AEMO was not aware of the protective feature of these generating units”. Consequently, AEMO had not taken steps to replace the lost power in such a situation.

The loss of about 460 MW of generating capacity resulted in an attempt to import extra power through the Heywood, high voltage, alternating current (AC), connector with Victoria. Such connectors between states are essential for the operating of an electricity market. Without interconnectors there would be no National Electricity Market (NEM).

The Heywood interconnector was already supplying about 610 MW to SA and was unable to supply an extra 460 MW. The Heywood interconnector then also “tripped” in order to protect the interconnector from serious damage. This resulted in a loss of about 900 MW from Victoria to SA leaving only 330 MW of gas-fired (thermal) generation to cope with a demand for about 1830 MW. This thermal power was being produced at three power stations at Torrens Island and a 40 MW thermal power station at Ladbroke Grove in the south-east of SA.

Corrective measures such as disconnecting major demand (load shedding) at places like Roxby Downs (170 MW demand) were too slow to stop the remaining power stations from “tripping” to protect them from serious damage. This resulted in a state-wide blackout.

SA had considerably more thermal power than was on-line at the time of the blackout but they were not on standby or ready to take up shortfalls in power supply. Some thermal power stations, such as one of the relatively new Pelican Point power stations, have been mothballed because of low wholesale electricity prices.

The cause of the loss of the electricity transmission lines appears to have been two widely separated (170 km apart), 190-260 km/h, tornados which brought down more than 20 towers supporting the transmission lines. The report makes no mention of actual sightings of the towers being brought down by the tornados. There is an unanswered question as to whether the collapse of a tower brought down other towers in a domino-like effect or whether is was just the tornados.

In the late 1900’s almost all of SA’s electrical power came from fossil fuel (coal and gas) thermal power stations that produced “synchronous” alternating current (AC) flow. According to the report, the increasing proportion of generators (solar and wind) producing “non-synchronous” direct current (DC) is leading to a “lower resilience” of the electricity networks in SA.

Considering the performance of the electricity transmission grid, the Heywood interconnector, thermal power stations in SA, and AEMO, it would seem that “low resilience” is not a characteristic peculiar to solar and wind power.

Soon after the state-wide blackout, people in SA were subjected to unedifying performances from Federal politicians who tried to blame the blackout on the renewable energy industry, wind energy in particular. Months later, and in the face of factual evidence supplied by AEMO, these politicians still show no sign of repenting.

The following is a more detailed discussion of relevant chapters in the report.

2. Pre-event

AEMO procedures depend very heavily on the distinction between “credible contingencies” and “non-credible contingencies”. For credible contingencies, plans are put in place to take corrective measures, whilst for non-credible contingencies no corrective measures are considered necessary. A contingency may be switched from credible to non-credible as circumstances change but if the switch is left too late then any corrective plans may be too slow to be effective.

The loss of certain groups of wind farms is considered a credible contingency if they are “connected to the grid by a single transmission line” and the disconnection of a single transmission line “is always treated as a credible contingency event” but the loss of both Heywood interconnector lines “was considered a non-credible contingency”. Consequently, AEMO was unprepared for either the loss of multiple transmission lines in SA or for the total loss of interconnection through the Heywood interconnector.

AEMO had also assumed that all wind farms were capable of riding through multiple faults “provided the faults were within the size and duration specified in the generator performance standards”. AEMO did not know that some wind farms had limits on the number of successive faults that they could ride through.

The loss of “any single element (generator, transmission, etc)” is considered a credible contingency, but the “coincident loss of multiple generating units or transmission lines, are termed non-credible contingency events”.

The above classifications may be changed if circumstances change but no changes were made during the events leading up to the state-wide blackout. Bureau of Meteorology wind speed forecasts were upgraded during the day of the blackout but AEMO did not see the need to change its classifications or procedures.

3 Events Resulting in Black System

The loss of three transmission lines resulted in low voltage being experienced at wind turbines. The wind turbines responded as designed by remaining connected to the network and helping to restore the voltage. This “ride-through” response varied according to the turbine settings. Ten of the thirteen on-line wind farms activated their ride-through response three to six times.

“All wind turbines successfully rode-through faults until the pre-set protection limit applied to most on-line wind turbines was reached or exceeded.”

“If the pre-set limit was exceeded in the event, each wind turbine either disconnected from the network, stopped operating (remained connected with zero output), or reduced its output.”

“Five wind farms successfully rode through the faults, they did not recover to the pre-disturbance level immediately and took several hundred milliseconds to recover.” “All wind turbines that exhibited this behaviour remained connected and operational until the SA power system was fully lost”.

In regards to the shutting down and separation and of the Heywood connector from SA the report notes “unforseen separation and complete loss of the Heywood Interconnector has occurred five times in the 17 years since 1999”. Prior to the SA blackout, this amounts to an average of once every 4 years. Since the SA blackout there has been another instance of disconnection of the Heywood Interconnector on 1st December which means there were two disconnections in two months. Disconnection of the Heywood interconnector in 2016 has occurred at a rate 24 times the average in the 16 years up to 2016. The latest disconnection occurred as a result of a transmission cable breaking in Victoria plus a Victorian transmission system made vulnerable by simultaneous maintenance work on transmission lines and power stations in the vicinity of Heywood and Portland.

The report states that the key difference between the SA blackout and previous Heywood disconnections was the lower number of on-line thermal generators prior to the SA blackout. As mentioned earlier, there was sufficient thermal generation available at the time of the SA blackout, but it was not operating.

It is not commonly known that there are two SA-Victoria interconnectors, The Heywood, high voltage, alternating current (AC) interconnector and the Murraylink, high voltage direct current (DC) interconnector. The Murraylink DC connector is much more resilient than the Heywood AC interconnector.

There was negligible effect of the SA transmission line failures and subsequent loss of wind generator output on transmission through the Murraylink DC connector, which continued to transmit 114 MW until the SA system collapsed. The eventual disconnection of the Murraylink interconnector occurred because of AC connections at both the SA and Victorian ends of the interconnector.

In regards to preventing overloading of thermal generators in SA by disconnecting large electricity users (load shedding) the report states 1150 MW could have been disconnected but the disconnection mechanism was too slow; “the amount of load shed and the timing at which these loads were disconnected was not sufficient to avoid system collapse”.

There was “practically no changes in the overall operational demand for the last 10 seconds before the event” including the initial loss of the transmission towers in the SA mid-north.

7. Preliminary Recommendations

“During extreme weather conditions, more rigorous processes to be put in place to monitor weather warnings for changes in order to trigger reassessment of reclassification decisions where necessary.”

Reclassification refers to change from a non-credible to credible event. Such a change, if initiated several hours before the blackout, would have led to more SA thermal power stations being on-line, preventing overloading of the Heywood interconnector.

As with many of the recommendations, classification as a credible event involves a trade-off between maintaining integrity of the system and short term financial benefits to power producers. It would appear that the classification system was too heavily weighted towards the latter. If so, given the financial losses caused by the blackout, then it was very short-sighted.

The report also noted “the level of risks associated with wind turbine over-speed protection, while not a major issue in this event, needs to be considered more closely.” Over-speed protection refers to the well-known dependence of wind turbine output on the wind speed and to the fact that they may have to shut down if the wind speeds are too high or too erratic. The wind turbines rode through the extreme weather as well as faults in the transmission lines. Multiple faults eventually caused large changes in wind farm output.

The report also looked at the possibility of “constraining flows through the Heywood Interconnector”. Importation of electricity from Victoria is usually maximised for short term economic gain, due to the relatively inexpensive nature of electricity from coal-fired power stations. This may change after the closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station in Victoria. In any event, over-reliance on importing power through the Heywood interconnector has proved to be short-sighted and costly, not just during the SA blackout but also with the recent power disruption caused by transmission line failure in Victoria.

It is noteworthy that SA’s biggest electricity user BHP has flagged that it is negotiating a wholesale electricity contract to purchase electricity from one of the thermal power stations (Pelican Point) that was not on-line during the events leading up to the SA blackout. This may decrease the dependence of SA on imported electricity, provided existing power stations stay on-line.

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)’s inadequate draft “Information for Stakeholders” on nuclear waste.

December 13, 2016

Effectively this is the same draconian situation that existed under the earlier Commonwealth Noonan, David

Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 introduced by the Howard government to override State and Territory interests to protect community health, safety and welfare from the risks and impacts of nuclear wastes and to nullify Federal laws that protect against imposition of nuclear wastes.


highly-recommendedPublic submission to the draft ARPANSA Information for Stakeholders & associated Regulatory Guide to Licensing a Radioactive Waste Storage or Disposal Facility

Summary

Revised ARPANSA “Information for Stakeholders” should address the following:

The nuclear fuel waste Store in the Flinders Ranges is intended to operate for approx. 100 years.

The ARPANSA “Information for Stakeholders” fails to be transparent and is not fit for purpose.

ARPANSA must inform the public on the proposed licence period for this nuclear fuel waste Store.

ARPANSA should also publicly acknowledge the Contingency that the proposed nuclear fuel waste Store may be at a different site to the proposed near surface Repository in the Flinders Ranges.

The proposed above ground Store in our iconic Flinders Ranges is unnecessary as the ANSTO’s existing Interim Waste Store (IWS) at the Lucas Heights Technology Centre can manage reprocessed nuclear fuel waste on contract from France and from the United Kingdom over the long term.

The ANSTO application for the Interim Waste Store was conservatively predicated on a 40 year operating life for the IWS, and ANSTO has a contingency to “extend it for a defined period of time”.

ANSTO also has a contingency option for the “Retention of the returned residues at ANSTO until the availability of a final disposal option” – which does not involve a Store in the Flinders Ranges.

The Lucas Heights Technology Centre is by far the best placed Institution and facility to responsibly manage Australia’s existing nuclear fuel waste and proposed waste accruals from the Opal reactor.

The Interim Waste Store (IWS) at the Lucas Heights Technology Centre can conservatively function throughout the proposed operating period of the Opal reactor without a requirement for an alternative above ground nuclear fuel waste Store at a NRWMF in the Flinders Ranges or elsewhere.

It is an inexplicably omission or an unacceptably act of denial for ARPANSA to fail to even identity or to properly explain Australia’s existing nuclear fuel wastes and proposed further decades of Opal reactor nuclear fuel waste production in the “Information for Stakeholders”.

Australia’s nuclear fuel wastes are by far the highest activity and most concentrated and hazardous nuclear wastes under Australian management, and must be distinguished from other waste forms. (more…)