Archive for the ‘National’ Category

Transcript of Nuclear Royal Commission meeting at Coober Pedy

May 22, 2015

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINTranscript by Noel Wauchope, 20 May 2015   This transcript is a reliable account of the proceedings, but is not word for word accurate. As far as possible, I have used the exact words.

KEVIN SCARCE:  My name’s Kevin  I have also here members of my team – Greg  Ward, Wes Taylor, Mary – .  About three months ago the governmnet decided that they wanted an inquiry into the nuclear fuel cycle, so they decided on  a Royal Commission. I have the Terms of Reference..I am responsible to investigate this. My job is to answer the four questions in the Terms of reference. By the end of this process I will deliver a Report to government, by 6th May 2016.
The reasons for this Royal Commission are:
1. It’s an independent inquiry
2. The second reason for a Royal Commission is that it is evidence-based. There is a lot of feeling in the community, about the nuclear fuel cycle. It is important to unearth the facts and also to examine the risks, – so that we have a basis for progress. We can think of this as an opportunity for the future.
3. Thirdly – the purpose to unearth facts. Royal Commissions are  a trusted venue for unearthing facts.
First I’ll talk about we mean by the nuclear fuel cycle, and what we are attempting to do n this year long examination of the nuclear fuel cycle. I’ll talk about the processes of that cycle.Then about how you can help. I’ll talk about the process we are going to use to engage the community. The nuclear fuel cycle entails  the mining and processing of uranium,  manufacturing of nuclear fuel, and power generation , and storage of wastes – the costs and the risks –

Why South Australia?  Australia has 30% of the world’s uranium supply, 80% of that n South Australia. So there’s  a comparative advantage for South Australia in terms of uranium mining.

The first Term of Reference; does it make sense to expand our exploration and mining of uranium?

We will look at the world demand for uranium – the opportunities, the costs and benefits to the community, the economy and the environment.

We are also interested in thorium. Thorium purportedly has advantages over uranium. It doesn’t create the same wastes, doesn’t enable nuclear explosions such as what happened at Fukushima, it’s not useful for nuclear weapons. It is a potential opportunity for the future. Part of our Term Of Reference is to look for the opportunities for thorium in this State. But this is only at the potential stage. We are yet to see a thorium nuclear reactor.

The second Term of Reference.  What are the opportunities to value add? We look at the opportunities and costs for communities, the environment and the economy. We as a group don’t have enough evidence to form a view. I can see benefits, risks, costs – we need to have the data to prove it one way or the other. We have to gather the data, develop our recommendations, and present our recommendations in our report.

The second Term of Reference  – can we add value to our existing uranium industry?  That will mean substantial infrastructure. I will show the required infrastructure.

The third Term of Reference. Power Generation.  This is the most complex part of the cycle. for us. Does it make economic sense? Can renewables provide us with that baseload of electricity for the future? We have t think of providing the electricity that we need now – and in 10-20 years’ time. It would take 20 years if we go ahead with nuclear power generation. What is the effect of continuing to use coal power to provide baseload power in the future?

The fourth Term of Reference. Management and storage of wastes. Wastes come in a lot of categories. Some of you have had treatment with radioisotopes. Medical wastes  are – gloves, nuclear equipment – low level wastes – the lowest category. At the other end of the scale is the spent fuel from nuclear power generation., that will remain active for thousands and thousands of years. But – with progress – we see 3rd Generation reactors – much more efficient in use of fuel, and soon 4th Generation ones might generate much less wastes. . Fast neutron reactors utilise almost all of the nuclear fuel.  This is a promise yet to be delivered.

How would you store that waste? What measures needed to protect the environment? The nuclear reprocessing process finishes the cycle. The first part of the cycle – at Beverley and other mines, whee they get uranium out of the ground – we look to see where there’s an opportunity to expand that in the future – expand use of yellowcake (shows slide)  When we enrich uranium, we take it up from useful fuel of only 1% to 3% useful. Reprocessing takes it up to a higher percentage.
Demonstrating the process – from mining to reprocessing – we look for the opportunity to expand mining in the future, Value adding is the in the overseas infrastructure that increases the energy availability from uranium hexafluoride – converting it to small pellets. 3 or 4 of these pellets would power a house for several years. The pellets are encased into zirconium in stainless steel rods and inserted into the reactor. They are replaced every 3-4 years. They might then go to waste, or reprocessing will re-use these rods. With some modern technologies the fuel rods don’t need to be taken out of the reactor –  but this technology is yet to be developed.

Nuclear wastes (shows slides)  Two methods. Wet storage for two years until the rods have cooled. Intermediate dry storage in concrete and copper cylinders – kept there until the final stage. None of these processes are conducted in Australia.

Question here female: What about Lucas Heights?
SCARCE: (shows slide)  Lucas Heights produces 15-20% of the world’s medical isotopes. The current reactor has been operating for 3-4 years. Before that there was a reactor for 50 years.Lucas Heights has had reactors for  50 – 60 years Lucas Heights is in an outer Souther suburb of Sydney.

(Slide) This is the sort of infrastructure required to reprocess. It is capital intensive. It takes uranium and re-enriches it.
(Slide) Above ground storage in concrete containers is doted around South Australia.-l ow level and intermediate storage above ground.
(Slide) In Finland there is deep down storage – 500 metres underground, will store wastes for thousands of years. There are many methods, The Australian method is to encapsulate wastes in crystalline rock. It must be in geologically stable areas, requiring specific geological conditions. This is a process of understanding, that we need to look at car

(Slide)  This gives a hint of where nuclear reactors are in the world today – 340 reactors, and 70 being built. That’s the nuclear fuel cycle.

How do we manage that?
We’ve developed 4 papers, one on each part of the cycle.

1. Exploration and Mining What are the costs and benefits – environmental, community and economic?
Question here: Who is we?
SCARCE:  We being the Commission. We have 5 world leaders on these issues, both for and against. Then we will call in experts that we need.

Female Questioner–   .(inaudible) .. about the evidence?
SCARCE: The question is – do we expand uranium mining?  It’s essential not to go back over what was done in the past – but look to what can be done in the future. What are the risks and opportunities for expansion?

Female questioner. Will there be a Commission on renewables? What is your background?
SCARCE: On renewables – I’ll go back to that. The Commission needs someone to be independent. I am a naval officer. I have been Governor of this State. We have to have someone who is neither for nor against. We have got to have someone to bring the community together.

Female questioner: How are you paid?
Male voice intervenes – Let Kevin continue

SCARCE: We’ll examine all 4 questions of the Terms of Reference. We will gather the data to answer these questions.
1. Expanding existing mining
2 Value adding – adding processing
All of these papers pose series of questions. It’s a complex subject. We try to simplify it and make data available.
3. Electricity generation. We are not looking just at nuclear power. Also we look at renewables. We need to look at all the technologies – solar, solar thermal, geothermal. Can they provide baseload power? What industries might we attract to the State if we had the right power base for the future, not just nuclear? Does it make sense o develop nuclear processing for electricity generation?
South Australia has a comparative advantage because of all the uranium that we have in the ground. Where does the State have opportunities? If you think that renewables can deliver clean green energy, tell us.
4. Wastes – what are the methods and the risks? We need to do the economics. We have storage issues here in Australia. The Federal government has a proposal out for those who might store waste.

Female questioner. We have investigated this before, and decided against it. 5 years ago the decision was made not to have nuclear waste importing. Aren’t you going over the same questions again ?
SCARCE: I can’t answer about the Northern Territory. In 2017 we are going to lose 12000 – 13000 jobs in car manufacturing. It seems to me to be the right time to ask ourselves the question doe sit make sense to expand the cycle. Where does the State have opportunities for the future?
Female questioner.  South Australia can have  a green image. People are looking for a healthy environment for the future. I have worked for 5 years in electricity development in Switzerland  I have seen this in Europe. …..
SCARCE: I urge you to write  a submission and put that forward in a submission,
Now we’ve got the papers. We have set the 3 months to put these questions forward. We’re developing open community forums  to develop issues, to discuss the major elements arising from the submissions we’ve received and from our own research. I expect that we will spend several days on each of the four processes. We hope to be out in the community, engaging the community. This is not the first and only engagement in the process, Then there is our website. All papers, all the submissions will be on this website. It is a quite transparent process.

We encourage all submissions to be made public. I am not interested in submissions that cannot be made public.  Where there is a defined commercial interest that might not be published. Some Aboriginal submissions might not be published, for cultural reasons.
Male questioner:  …. about Fukushima…
SCARCE: –  talks about exaggeration of effects of Fukushima – clams of thousands of deaths.There were no deaths at Fukushima – yet. What we have to figure out – the consequences and probability of serious consequences – is it worth it?

Female questioner:  You are putting the costs and the burdens on to future generations?
SCARCE: An dthe opportunities and potential benefits. I’m not suggesting that the consequences are not serious. We have to measure the seriousness against the probability of accidents.

Female questioner: Where does the money come from?
Interjection from a male voice – asks this questioner: Do you live in Coober Pedy? She replies; I have done.
SCARCE: Let’s go to the facts. these are questions that must be asked – if it’s an issue to unearth –  (He repeats encouragement to put these matters in a submission)

Female questioner:Financially – why did Roxby not go ahead with their planned expansion a few years ago? You want to dig up more uranium?
SCARCE: I said I wanted to look at the costs and the risks. By all means, have the debate. Look at the State when it’s 27 million, and look at where opportunity exists in the future – if it’s in renewables.

Interjection from a male voice: I don’t think we’re going to get a sensible argument here, so we can move along.

Female questioner: In regional development across South Australia – what part?
Male questioner: Why is South Australia picked for this? We’ve had Maralinga – nuclear explosions. To run nuclear power you gotta have a bloody lot of water. Are they gonna pull it out of the Great Artesian Basin like the mob that’s doing all the fracking? It seems to me that in our nuclear age of independence we’ve got a lot of sun. We have 364 days of sun. We just seem to be picked. It just seems to all go out of our State to interstate or overseas.
If there’s a bomb or an earthquake….. WE got big companies down South. Here in Coober Pedy we got no say at all.

SCARCE: I’m looking at the potential for opportunities of the future. We in South Australia have uranium. WE have world class uranium in South Australia. Is there an opportunity to add value to it before we send it overseas? We look at the costs and benefits. WE can talk about world’s best practice – only if we are convinced that the  safety of this part of the process makes sense for our State.

Male questioner: We’re talking about shipping the wastes back to South Australia. I’m on my way out – got kids, grandkids. In 20 years time we all won’t be here.
SCARCE: Is there opportunity to value add to it here before it goes overseas? Nowhere in our Royal Commission Terms of Reference are we asked to identify locations. We are asked to see if it is economic, if it makes sense for our State. We should ask, get the data, assess the potential for our State.

Male questioner: I’ve got great grandkids. No matter what you people say –  all the bloody experts – I need to talk this over with my grandkids.
In 20 years’ tim eI won’t be here. By the time this does get on the ground we won’t be here to say we regret it –  none of this will be recorded.
SCARCE: I hope that with this process we will get an understanding of the opportunities, risks and benefits.The issue here is to have the discussion we need to have  – get the facts – make sure that we have a common understanding.

Male questioner. I get the feeling it’s not about us. It’s about money. There’s a misty fog in my brain about this.   You put a wind turbine up – and people complain – health worries..  Our wind farms – most of the energy goes to bloody Victoria.  Nuclear – to me – is not a good way to go.
SCARCE: Keep an open mind, either way, and don’t be afraid to ask
Questioner:  I’m not afraid to ask – but who owns Roxby? They’re Australian?  Who owns it?
SCARCE: partly.

Female questioner –  question on banning uranium mining….
SCARCE: We will answer each of the 4 Terms of Reference.  We might come to a very different conclusion on each one.

Female questioner: Most nuclear plants in other countries are reaching the end of their life. Lots have to be decommissioned.  Some have to be extended. What happens when they have to be decommissioned? Where do we get then facts? We can’t get the facts now. Nobody talks about it.

SCARCE: We will visit those countries. No doubt after the Fukushima accident there was  a loss of confidence in the nuclear industry. I don’t know how Germany can get their power
Female questioner.  I can tell you. Solar.
SCARCE: We’ll go and find that data. If wind and solar can provide baseload power for the future  we might not need nuclear. How do you generate the power for the future. send us submissions.

Male questioner (identifies himself as member of a mining company): I asked the question to a Member of Parliament,about nuclear power. He said “Nuclear power is far too expensive”. We’ve been trying to find a waste site for the past 10 years.
Question on tax payer money given from Federal Govrenmnet to the State for a nuclear waste dump.
SCARCE: I’ve not seen that data – that says that nuclear is too expensive. Get the data and we can  answer that question . I don’t know  about that. I’m not going outside of my Terms of Reference.  As far as I know the State government doesn’t have  a site. I am not aware of it. It is a Federal government responsibility.

Female questioner: UK has had nuclear power for 50 years, and no explosions. In this inquiry, will you be able to get information from UK?. They must be doing something right.
SCARCE: We plan to go overseas at the end of this month – to visit Taiwan – Norway – Finland – to see the waste disposal system  – to France to look at the modern technology – they are very much into reprocessing. We go to UK,- their regulatory framework is  as good as any in the world. We g to UAE to look at the regulatory framework that they have developed within a very short time period. We will also see people who are against nuclear power.

Female questioner: In view of what has been said today, what will happen to all our uranium if it isn’t used, in the future?
SCARCE: It comes down to the question – can we make a better opportunity with it?.  We want submissions, a smuch evidence as possible. It’s back to seking data – to form a view.

Female questioner:  I wonder if it should be all closed down (Roxby?). Should it be developed in some other way?.
SCARCE: The State government has made it clear – we are not examining current uranium mining. We’re charged with looking to the future – what can be done with uranium, with thorium.

Male questioner: South Korea has come up with  a special process of coal burning that produces almost no CO2.
SCARCE: We will be looking at that and at all the technologies for the future – the power sources of the future, not just nuclear. It makes sensethat if we contnue to use coal we need to collectively come to a decision on what to do about CO2 and the environment. I ma not saying that nuclear is the answer.

Male questioner: In China, every 8 days they start a new coal -fired generation plant, and they’re not stopping this until 2030.
SCARCE: They are also producing 20-30 new nuclear reactors.

Male questioner: How much pollution is there from China’s coal?
SCARCE: that’s a  good question. I am not answering that.

Male questioner: In your travels, will you look at Chernobyl and the devastation there?
SCARCE: Yes, we need to look at Chernobyl, and ask – what happened, and why it happened, and look at the consequences.

Male questioner: There are easier and cheaper ways to get power. Are yu having any more consultations at Coober Pedy?
SCARCE: We will come back with our findings. We have to serve all of South Australia.

Male questioner – suggest 7 pm is  a better time to start…
SCARCE:Ask any of our team . No more questions. Than kyou. It’s lunchtime. You can ask Wes, Greg,  any of our team, over lunch.

Australian Labor Party caving in to the nuclear lobby?

May 22, 2015

Re: Uranium policy in the Draft ALP Platform for National Conference 2015

The 2015 Australian Labor Party (ALP) National Conference will be held from July 24/26 in Melbourne. Ahead of Conference the federal ALP has circulated draft policy documents for consultation and comment.

The full draft policy document can be found here with comments accepted from the general public as well as ALP members until Friday 29 May.

Tweedle-NuclearThe draft uranium policy as presented poses both unreasonable reductions in transparency and unacceptable increases in risk.

The draft policy seeks to remove:

· health, safety and monitoring protections for workers

· public accountability and industry transparency mechanisms

· a long standing veto on the importation and storage of international nuclear waste

The draft policy proposes to facilitate:

· the importation, storage and disposal of international nuclear waste

· all aspects of the nuclear industry except domestic nuclear power (ie- uranium enrichment/fuel fabrication/reprocessing/waste conditioning)

Against the backdrop of the continuing Fukushima crisis, directly fuelled by Australian uranium, it is important that the ALP does not further erode an already deficient policy.

Key national and state environmental groups will be making submissions in response to the above points, but we encourage anyone concerned about this backwards policy step to also contribute via the online comment process.

A little effort from us now might help stop a big set back at the national conference in July.

Some suggested points to include in your submission are listed below- please feel free to adapt and expand on these.

If you would like further information or to discuss the draft policy and response please contact: Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation, d.sweeney [at] or Natalie Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, beyondnuclearinitiative [at]


Platform Chapter Reference: CHAPTER 3: Building Australia’s Future

Subject of Submission:  Weakening of uranium and nuclear policy


I am greatly concerned that the 2015 ALP Policy Platform:

– Removes the references in the current (2011) platform to health, safety and monitoring protections for workers in the uranium industry and public scrutiny of the uranium sector.

– Opens the door to importation of high-level nuclear waste, overturning a long-held and widely supported position to oppose international waste storage/disposal.

This contradicts point 65 in Chapter 4: Building a Clean Energy Future (A cleaner Environment for Living) that states: Labor believes nations have a responsibility for the appropriate disposal of hazardous wastes generated within their boundaries. Labor is committed to fulfilling Australia’s obligations in the control of trans-boundary movements of hazardous waste.

– Considers the expansion of Australian involvement in the nuclear chain, including uranium enrichment, fuel fabrication for nuclear power reactors and reprocessing. These processes are prohibited in Australia by federal law and would also undermine efforts stated in Chapter 3 (points 151-153) calling for monitoring and control of materials used for nuclear proliferation.

I would like the 2015 ALP Policy Platform to:

-Reinstate the commitments from the 2011 platform that Labor will ensure the safety of workers in the uranium industry is given priority and support public accountability of the uranium sector.

– Maintain the current and long-standing opposition to importation of international nuclear waste under any circumstances

– Delete the final point in 154: Seek to fully understand the future role Australia can play in global nuclear safety and sustainability including taking back for storage and management materials generated from Australian exported uranium.

The 2015 Policy Platform is an opportunity to strengthen the case for moving away from high impact and hazardous industries like uranium mining toward a future that creates long term, sustainable and regional job opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

In the shadow of Fukushima the words of Labor stalwart Tom Uren continue to ring true: Uranium was always guilty until proven innocent, and no one yet has proved uranium innocent. At the 2015 National Conference it is important that nuclear protections for the community, workers, health and the environment are strengthened rather than reduced.

Bjørn Lomborg’s Consensus Centre – the perfect delaying tactic by the Abbott government

May 18, 2015
Why the Abbott government wants Bjørn Lomborg’s Consensus Centre, The Saturday Paper , 16 May 15  MIKE SECCOMBE
Covert negotiations, whispered announcements and an awkward about-face reveal a political agenda behind reaching consensus.  Mazzarol, Winthrop professor in the business school of the University of Western Australia, is reciting the long list of hoops a proponent must jump through to gain approval for a research centre at the university.

“Normally they have to demonstrate they will contribute to research output of the university and the reputation of the university,” he says. “They must have at least six full-time equivalent academic staff engaged in research at the university, a viable plan for the growth of the centre, the capacity to be self-sustaining. They must have an academic and a business plan, a clear indication of the resources, facilities, funding, negotiated targets for research, training, publication volume, output quality and how that will all be measured.”

He continues, citing the criteria listed on the UWA website: “It must also have the approval of the academic council, normally has to have an interdisciplinary role, and to have demonstrated consultation with other parts of the faculty that might be involved.”

The list of requirements and processes is detailed, but Mazzarol’s point is simple. “This one didn’t go through any of those steps.”

He is referring to an entity proposed by Danish climate change contrarian Bjørn Lomborg, ironically named the Australia Consensus Centre (ACC), whose establishment was secretively negotiated over six months, quietly revealed six weeks ago, and then abandoned after an ugly collision between academe and politics.

In the wake of that crash, only two things are clear. One is that Lomborg, academic darling of the political right for his views on climate change, will not get his “consensus” centre at UWA. The other: Mazzarol’s critique of the way by which the university’s executive went about approving the centre is quite right. It was a travesty of normal process, as even the university’s senior management has acknowledged.

Much else, however, remains unsettled. The affair raises questions about how far cash-strapped universities should go in accepting funds from sources with agendas that go beyond the purely academic, about the potentially corrupting influence of politics, about the rigour of methods and about amorphous notions of academic reputation.

Above all is the question implicit in UWA vice-chancellor Paul Johnson’s rather embittered statement announcing his university’s abandonment of the project. He referred to the “duty” of tertiary institutions in “actively encouraging the exploration of new ideas, challenging established thinking and posing the difficult ‘what if’ questions”…….

The matter may not yet be over. Christopher Pyne reacted to the university’s change of mind by suggesting the government might take legal action for breach of contract. He also confidently declared that the centre would be established at an alternative location. The $4 million is still there, itemised in the budget, waiting to be spent…….

…….Lomborg’s agenda

Bjørn Lomborg is not a climate change denier. He accepts the overwhelming scientific consensus that it is happening and that human activity is responsible. His argument is that there are other more pressing issues facing humanity. And this is what makes him useful to the political right.

Simple denialism is not politically tenable anymore. But Lomborg provides cover for those reluctant to take strong action to limit the emission of greenhouse gases, by suggesting we should work on other things first, and that stronger action on climate change might actually impede those other endeavours.

His method is to apply economic cost-benefit analysis to these various problems, to try to determine priorities. His results tend to give comfort to conservatives in general and climate change do-nothing-ists in particular.

By his formulation, for example, freer global trade returns a benefit of $2011 for every dollar spent, making it 45 times more worthwhile than reducing child malnutrition. Cutting people’s salt intake is deemed roughly 10 times as financially beneficial as spending more on health for the world’s 2.5 billion poorest people. It’s a sort of grand cost-benefit theory of everything.

So when Tony Abbott says coal is good for humanity, it is defensible on Lomborg numbers, which hold that bringing electricity to everyone in the world returns $5 for every dollar spent, while limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees returns a benefit of less than $1.

To say his methods are unorthodox and controversial is to be very understated indeed. Lomborg himself is neither a climate scientist nor an economist. His qualifications are in political science. Rather than rely on primary research, his theories are based on meta-analysis – that is, the harvesting of data produced by others, which is then weighted and modelled to determine relative values.

This has led to numerous complaints from other academics that their work has been either misinterpreted or misrepresented. The detail is too extensive and arcane to go into – suffice to say, books have been written and formal complaints made in his native Denmark and elsewhere.

His original Copenhagen Consensus Centre was funded by a conservative government, then defunded by a successor progressive government. After he set up in the United States, his critics complained that he took funds from right-wing climate change denialist organisations……


Anxiety in neighbouring Shire as Gindalbie Metals offers to host nuclear waste dump

May 15, 2015

Gindalbie Metals nuclear dump proposal surprises nearby WA shire, ABC News  By Sarah Taillier 14 May 15, A shire in Western Australia’s Mid West says it has been caught completely off guard by a proposal to develop a national nuclear waste dump on land near its boundaries.

Iron ore miner Gindalbie Metals yesterday confirmed it had nominated Badja Station, south of Yalgoo as a potential site to hold low and intermediate level radioactive waste.The proposed site lies about 70 kilometres from the township of Morawa, where more than 600 people live.

Shire of Morawa president Karen Chappel said she was stunned to hear about the application from a resident yesterday. “It could have an absolute major impact on our shire and to just hear via the telephone that this is what’s happening [is unreasonable],” she said.”I seriously would have thought that the Shire of Morawa was owed the courtesy of being told that this was on the run.”

Ms Chappel said the shire was trying to source more information about the proposal. “When we’ve gained the information that we think is necessary, our council will be taking a formal position on where we sit with regard to this proposal,” she said.

Under the selection process, states and territories will not have the right to veto the Federal Government’s site selection.

“That may be legislation, that may be the principal of it, but underneath it all, every politician is put there by population and the people,” Ms Chappel said.

“They have an obligation and a responsibility to sit and listen to how their decision affects us and I would suggest they would need to sit and listen to this one.”

A shortlist of nominated sites is expected to be made public in July……..

Greens spokesperson Robin Chapple described the proposal to develop a nuclear waste dump as a “blatant cash grab from a struggling company”.

Aborignal people in Western Australia bought off by uranium mining companies

May 15, 2015

Uranium Minefield: Middle Men Are Bleeding Aboriginal Land Dry, VICE  May 11, 2015 by Jack Callil Buried in Australia’s soil is a third of Earth’s uranium, the largest reserve in the world. This means there’s big money in mining it. But standing on it are Indigenous Australians with native title rights to that land. The Martu people, only numbering only around 1,000, own around 136,000 square kilometers in Western Australia.

On the other side of the dispute is the world’s largest uranium company Cameco, which in collaboration with Mitsubishi, want to extend the Kintyre mine that was previously owned by Rio Tinto. It bears the name of an area cut out of the Karlamilyi National Park for mining in 1994.

Darren Farmer, a burly middle-aged Martu man, told VICE that “the Martu people do not want this uranium mine. Everybody has said no.” But that hasn’t stopped Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who last month gave Kintyre the green light.

This decision was made possible by the intricate mechanics of the Native Title Act. Indigenous Australians are forced to nominate a corporate body that represents them legally. In the case of the Martu people, theirs is the Western Deserts Land Aboriginal Corporation ( WDLAC). In 2012 WDLAC gave up Martu land for mining, and are nowworking with Newcrest Mining, Fortescue Metals Group, Reward Minerals—and Cameco.

WDLAC is currently under investigation for what VICE understands is the corrupt management of millions in mining profits. The body probing them is the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations ( ORIC). ORIC recently asked WDLAC to provide reasons as to why they shouldn’t be overtaken by special management. When VICE asked ORIC spokeswoman Lisa Hugg about details, she was only able to confirm that they’d received “a lot of interest and complaints”.

Darren Farmer is one such Martu man who is complaining. He’s says he’s been thrown out of WDLAC because he kept demanding access to their multimillion-dollar mining deals. But two “bullying” Martu men called Teddy Biljabu and Brian Samson control WDLAC, Mr Farmer says. Teddy and Brian told him the deals were “none of his business”. Upon pressing further, he claims he was was assaulted.

“Sure I’ve been attacked at the meetings. I’ve been punched in front of everyone,” Mr Farmer told VICE. “And if anyone says anything about it, they get the same beating.” While Mr Farmer is only one Martu man, he said that talks over Kintyre involved “lots of people at those meetings declaring that they don’t want this.”

But siding with WDLAC for money is sometimes “the only way out” of the poverty the Martu people still live in. “They’ll ask Teddy for $50 and he’ll give it to them, so they think he’s this great guy,” Mr Farmer said. “But our houses have no windows, no doors, no power, no good hot water. Our housing, health, education—it’s still the same as it’s ever been.” This is despite the report that around $50 million has been collected by the WDLAC in mining profits, and $20.24 million in trust fund for the Martu people.

This is raising concerns that mining companies are selectively buying off Indigenous people for use of land. There are even reports that Toro Energy, which owns theWiluna mine, has sweetened traditional land deals with new Toyotas. “The older people don’t want mines, but some young people do because of the money,” said one Wiluna man Glen Cook to VICE. “But the mining companies give money to a few people, but not to all of us.”

Mr Farmer described similar instances of specific members of WDLAC suddenly owning new cars. “They are all supporters of Teddy and Brian,” he said. “They say at meetings if you don’t side with them, then you aren’t going to get your Toyota, and you aren’t going to get your money for Christmas.”………

With federal approval of the Kintyre mine, WA will now have four uranium mine projects— Mulga Rock,Yeelirrie, and Wiluna—in advanced stages of establishment.

The Martu people are hopeful that WDLAC will be overtaken by ORIC. They had until May 8th to explain their actions, but they were recently granted a month’s extension. “This will give them time to get rid of the rest of the money,” an anonymous source told VICE.

VICE approached Environmental Minister Greg Hunt and WDLAC over a week ago, but both failed to respond.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @jack_callil

Least worst way to manage nuclear waste returning to Lucas Heights nuclear reactor

May 15, 2015

text-cat-questionWhy does the Australian government persist in the lie that the nuclear waste contracted to return from UK and France originated from medical/scientific research?  The medical radionuclides are but a tiny, tacked on part of the Lucas Heights reactor, and they are short-lived and not requiring export for reprocessing. The returning high level wastes originated from the reactor’s own process.

Federal budget 2015: Why Australia’s nuclear waste legacy will cost $27 million May 13, 2015  National political reporter The Abbott government will spend nearly $27 million over four years to return radioactive waste that has been treated in the United Kingdom to Lucas Heights.

We believe the waste coming back to Lucas Heights is the least worst way to manage it In what the Australian Conservation Foundation has described as the “least worst option” the material will be stored in a temporary, purpose-built storage facility at Lucas Heights while Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane examines possible sites for a future Australian nuclear waste dump.The funding is part of an agreement with the UK to return one of two batches of Australian waste, which the government said was largely generated from scientific research and nuclear medicine over a number of decades.

The second batch of nuclear material was sent to a facility in France for processing and its return has been funded in budgets since 2010.

Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear-free campaigner David Sweeney said of the federal money: “We believe the waste coming back to Lucas Heights is the least worst way to manage it.”

“That is – it’s still not a good thing,” he said.

“But because of the expertise, security and the presence of a purpose built facility at Lucas Heights it is the most appropriate option for the nation.”……….

Vagueness and confusion in 3rd “Issues Paper” of South Australian Nuclear Royal Commission

May 13, 2015



Once again we have an issues paper full of pro-nuclear conjecture and crystal ball-gazing with statements like “research has been undertaken”, “under development”, “are proposed”,   “soon to demonstrate”, “could potentially”, “could, if commercialised”, “may be”,” might encourage” and “could have”.  The history of the nuclear industry is a history of overstated optimism. Policy makers would do well to stick to the facts rather than optimistic forecasts from vested interests.

Ionising has been constantly dropped from “ionising radiation”, especially in the section on operational health and safety.  At best this is sloppy science but given the history of the nuclear industry, it might well be considered mischievous.

The word “nuclear” is frequently dropped especially when talking about nuclear reactors. This demonstrates the sensitivity of the nuclear industry to its image. Ironically, the nuclear industry appears to be loathe to admit that it has anything to do with its own scientific and technical foundation.

The issues paper has an unusual view of what constitutes a fuel. In the context of electricity generation, fuels are burnt (combusted) to produce heat for the production of steam which is then used to operate a turbine that drives the generator. Combustion is the reaction of fuel with the oxygen in air and yields carbon dioxide and water.

Over time, the nuclear industry has changed the term fuel to include fissile material used in a nuclear reactor. It even talks about fuel burn-up.

The issue paper’s reference to solar energy and wind energy as fuels removes an important distinction between solar and wind power and non-renewable sources of energy such as fossil and nuclear fuels. Solar and wind energy are not “burnt” to generate electricity and consequently do not produce noxious pollutants.

The unscientific use of the term “fuel” will only serve to confuse the public about the important distinction between renewable non-polluting solar/wind energy and non-renewable polluting nuclear/fossil energy.

The great advantage of solar and wind generators of electricity is that there is no fuel, hence no ongoing costs such as mining, processing, and transport and no noxious wastes and pollution either from these operations or from the operation of the generator. Apparently, the nuclear industry would like to avoid discussing such issues and to give the impression that solar and wind are no different to nuclear in this respect.

This issues paper is divided into three sections, Nuclear Fuels and Electricity Generation, Viability of Electricity Generation in South Australia, and Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Technologies and Fuel Sources; Risks and Opportunities.




  • In its history of the development of nuclear power this issues paper makes no mention of the connection of nuclear weapons research, development and infrastructure to the nuclear power industry or of the role that Governments made and still make to the nuclear industry. It thus ignores the crucial role of government subsidies to the development and operation of the nuclear power industry.


  • The issues paper describes nuclear reactor moderators as “facilitating” the nuclear fission reaction, but it is just the opposite. The role of moderators in nuclear reactors is to control the fission reaction so that it doesn’t get out of hand and lead to catastrophic reactor failure.


  • The power output (MWe) of an electricity generating system is a measure of the rate of electricity generation. The latter is generally measured in MWh (megawatt hour). The issues paper says that the power output is “the amount of electricity produced every second”. It makes as little sense to say that it is the amount of electricity produced every nanosecond or every year.


  • Whilst giving data on the number of operating, under construction and planned nuclear reactors this issues paper gives no data on the number of nuclear reactors being, or planned to be, shut down. Nor does it give data on the net result of these activities.


This section concentrates on electricity supplied through the National Electricity Market (NEM) and hence plays down the role of small but increasingly significant  rooftop solar electricity. Rooftop solar panels supply electricity to the grid but are not part of the NEM.

Additionally, the emphasis is on supply of electricity rather than on services which can often be delivered with no, or greatly reduced, supply of electricity, such as hot water.  Consequently, the issues paper does not look at the alternatives to electricity for supplying services such as hot water and comfortable homes.

Making a home comfortable during periods of high or low temperatures can be done through better housing design and insulation but these cost-competitive alternatives to electricity have to compete on an unequal footing with electricity which is supplied at no up-front cost, time-payment of capital costs and taxpayer subsidies through former, or existing, government ownership.

The NEM is heavily biased towards centrally generated electricity.

It is pointed out that electricity demand in South Australia is very “peaky” but the issues paper does not mention that the problem of peak demand has been reduced by the high uptake of rooftop solar which has not only reduced the magnitude of the peak demand but has shifted it to later in the day.




  • Under the heading “Nuclear accident” only Chernobyl and Fukushima are mentioned. Chernobyl is blamed on uniquely bad design. Nothing is said about human error or the unforgiving nature of nuclear technology. Nor is there any mention of the Three Mile Island meltdown which was also the result of human error.


  • Fukushima is described as an “accident”. There is no mention of a culture of secrecy and deceit which permeated the nuclear industry not only in Japan but also in many other countries including Australia, e.g., the Olympic Dam project, which was given carte blanche thanks to the Indenture Agreement with the SA Government.


  • It is claimed that the design safety and operational efficiency of modern nuclear facilities have improved significantly since those involved in the Fukushima and Chernobyl “accidents”, but gives no evidence to support this.


  • In discussing insurance liability associated with the nuclear industry no mention is made of the fact that a typical insurance policy excludes nuclear accidents from its coverage. This leaves policy holders liable for costs related to the nuclear industry.


  • Under the heading of “greenhouse gas emissions” (GGE) the figures given show that Australia is well on track to exceed its GGE reduction target. Thanks to the renewable energy industry, GGE from electricity generation have departed from their historical pattern of steadily increasing and are now steadily falling.


In SA the Olympic Dam project is the single largest contributor to GGE.

 Present GGE targets cannot be used either as an excuse to introduce nuclear power, to expand the Olympic Dam project, to introduce GGE intensive processing of uranium oxide into fissile material for nuclear reactors, or to expend large amounts of energy constructing underground chambers for long term storage/disposal of nuclear waste.


  • In discussing operational health and safety it is stated that workers who deal with radioactive materials need to be informed about the hazards prior to commencing work but nothing is said about the information being readily understandable by the workers.


  • Under health and safety, the word “ionising” has been dropped from “ionising radiation” which suggests that both workers and the general public are being misled about the nature of the risks.


  • It is noted in the issues paper that many generation technologies cannot be switched on or off at the request of power grid operators but it is not mentioned that nuclear power stations are in this category.


The major problem with electricity supply in South Australia, both technically and economically, is the peak load. This problem would not be solved by having a nuclear power station and the problem is already being addressed by rooftop solar electricity which not only reduces the magnitude of the peak load but also shifts it to later in the day.


  • The issues paper suggests that the commercial viability of the nuclear industry should be assisted by guaranteeing a minimum price for their product.


  • The issues paper claims that a nuclear reactor “could potentially” satisfy demand for “seawater desalination”. Given the economically and environmentally disastrous, rarely used, desalination plant south of Adelaide then suggestions about the need for further desalination plants would appear to suggest that the (anonymous) authors of this discussion paper are totally out of touch with the needs of South Australia.


  • It is claimed that a nuclear power industry in South Australia would lead to a need for “specialist training by tertiary and technical providers.” This is not unique to the nuclear power industry but applies to all other technology for providing the same services as the nuclear industry.


Given the capital intensive nature of nuclear technology, it would seem likely that many more jobs would result from deploying technologies, such as wind and solar, that are already significant and growing contributors to the SA economy.

South Australia’s peak environment group examines issues in South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission

May 13, 2015
scrutiny-Royal-CommissionShould SA accept high-level nuclear waste from overseas?
How much money might be made by taking nuclear waste from other countries? There is no precedent to base an estimate on. It is doubtful whether it would generate any more
than a fraction of the revenue that some lobbyists claim it might. There are many constraints, such as the fact that some countries with significant nuclear power programs − such as Russia, France, and India − operate reprocessing plants so would be unlikely to want to send spent fuel to Australia. BHP Billiton’s submission to the Switkowski Review states
that the utilities to which it sells uranium “generally regard their spent fuel as an asset”.
Prof. John Veevers from Macquarie University states: “Tonnes of enormously dangerous
radioactive waste in the northern hemisphere, 20,000 kms from its destined dump in
Australia where it must remain intact for at least 10,000 years. These magnitudes − of
tonnage, lethality, distance of transport, and time − entail great inherent risk.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION ISSUES- SUMMARY -May 2015 Prepared on behalf of the Conservation Council SA by Dr Jim Green, Friends of the Earth, Melbourne. The Conservation Council of South Australia (Conservation SA) is the peak environment group in the state, representing around 50 non-profit environmental organisations.
Conservation SA does not support an expansion of South Australia’s role in the nuclear cycle. Uranium mining in SA has a history of very significant environmental impacts that show no signs of abating. The nuclear industry has caused suffering and displacement of Aboriginal communities over many decades, from the toxic legacy of Maralinga nuclear testing, uranium mining operations and attempts to impose unwanted nuclear waste dumps.
All forms of energy generation have some environmental impact. To determine the lowest impact options, we need to assess each technology across its entire life cycle. Unfortunately, this is rarely done. Emissions from the nuclear fuel cycle will increase as relatively high-grade uranium ores are mined out and are replaced by the mining of lower-grade ores. Nuclear power brings with it a range of unavoidable risks to public health and safety that other energy options simply do not. Nuclear is also a high-cost option that has never been viable without generous taxpayer support.
The Royal Commission provides an opportunity for all of the impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle to be assessed, and Conservation SA will be actively participating to ensure that it does. This document outlines a summary of our thinking. For more information see the full issues paper.
From the mid-2000s until the Fukushima disaster in 2011, expectations of a significant global
expansion of nuclear power drove a sharp increase in uranium exploration and the startup
of numerous mines. However nuclear power has maintained its long-standing pattern
of stagnation. Some uranium mines have shut down, some are operating at a loss. The
uranium price is lower than the average cost of production − and well below the level that
would entice mining companies to invest capital in new projects………..


The establishment of a uranium enrichment industry in SA is being promoted as a way to
‘value add’ to uranium exports. However the 2006 Switkowski Review concluded that
“there may be little real opportunity for Australian companies to extend profitably” into
enrichment. Conditions are no more conducive to the establishment of an enrichment
industry now than they were in 2006. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve
Kidd noted in July 2014 that “the world enrichment market is heavily over-supplied”.
Proposals to expand South Australia’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle would inevitably have
weapons proliferation implications, regardless of intent:……………
Fuel ‘leasing’ proposals could involve:
 uranium export, and the import and storage or disposal of high-level nuclear waste
arising from the use of that uranium in power reactors overseas; or
 comprehensive ‘front end’ processes (uranium mining, conversion into uranium
hexafluoride, enrichment, fuel fabrication) and ‘back end’ management of spent fuel
(reprocessing and re-export, storage and/or disposal).
Among other problems and obstacles, the simpler of those options − uranium export and
spent fuel take-back − would likely be unacceptable to at least some of Australia’s major
uranium customers. In its submission to the Switkowski Review BHP Billiton said: “BHP Billiton
believes that there is neither a commercial nor a non-proliferation case for it to become
involved in front-end processing or for mandating the development of fuel leasing services
in Australia.”
A renaissance?
Despite the promotion of a nuclear power ‘renaissance’ over the past decade, the
number of ‘operable’ power reactors fell from 443 to 437 in the 10 years to January 2015.
In 2014, worldwide nuclear capacity increased by 2.4 gigawatts (GW). Approximately 100
GW of solar and wind power capacity were installed in 2014, up from 74 GW in 2013.
The International Energy Agency said in its World Energy Outlook 2014 report: “A wave of
retirements of ageing nuclear reactors is approaching: almost 200 of the 434 reactors
operating at the end of 2013 are retired in the period to 2040, with the vast majority in the
European Union, the United States, Russia and Japan.”
Nuclear power is subject to a ‘negative learning curve’ − it is becoming more expensive
over time. Even the large-scale, standardised French nuclear power program has been
subject to a negative learning curve………
A response to climate change?
Nuclear power could at most make a modest contribution to climate change abatement.
The Switkowski Review stated that the construction of 12 power reactors from 2025−2050
would reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions by just 8% relative to business as usual,
assuming that nuclear power displaces coal. Emissions savings would be lower if the
assumption is that nuclear power displaces gas………
Next generation reactors?
The International Atomic Energy Agency states: “Experts expect that the first Generation IV
fast reactor demonstration plants and prototypes will be in operation by 2030 to 2040.” The
Generation IV International Forum, which brings together 12 countries plus Euratom, states:
“Depending on their respective degree of technical maturity, the first Generation IV
systems are expected to be deployed commercially around 2030−2040.”
Clearly the commercial deployment of Generation IV reactors is a significant way off.
Moreover, it is doubtful whether the purported benefits of Generation IV reactors will be
realised. Whether Generation IV concepts deliver on their potential depends on a myriad
of factors, not just the resolution of technical difficulties. Moreover some of the ‘new’
concepts are not new. For example the history of ‘fast neutron’ reactors has been one of
extremely expensive, underperforming and accident-prone reactors which have
contributed to WMD proliferation problems.
The Australia Institute identified possible sites for nuclear power plants in a 2007 report.
Using a range of criteria, the report identified possible sites in several states including the
following sites in SA: Mt Gambier / Millicent, Port Adelaide, Port Augusta, and Port Pirie.
In a 2010 paper, academic Benjamin Sovacool documented 99 accidents at nuclear
power plants from 1952 to 2009 that resulted in the loss of human life and/or more than
US$50,000 of property damage. Of the 99 accidents, 57 occurred since the Chernobyl
disaster in 1986, and 56 were in the USA, refuting the notion that severe accidents are
relegated to the past or to countries without modern US technology and oversight.
Claims that the safety of nuclear power is comparable to that of renewable energy
sources do not stand up to scrutiny, for the following reasons (among others):……
claims ignore the long-term cancer death toll from major accidents, in
particular Chernobyl and Fukushima. For Chernobyl, the World Health Organization
estimates up to 9,000 excess cancer deaths in Belarus, the Russian Federation and
Ukraine. Credible estimates of the Chernobyl cancer death toll across Europe range
from 16,000 to 93,000. For Fukushima, the long-term cancer death toll will be in the
thousands. Based on UN data on human radiation exposure, UK radiation biologist Dr
Ian Fairlie estimates around 5,000 fatal cancers from Fukushima fallout.
   Thirdly, such claims ignore or downplay human radiation exposure from routine
emissions from the nuclear fuel cycle. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the
Effects of Atomic Radiation has estimated the collective effective dose to the world
population over a 50-year period of operation of nuclear power reactors and
associated nuclear fuel cycle facilities at two million person-Sieverts. Applying a risk
estimate of 0.05−0.1 fatal cancers per person-Sievert gives a total of 100,000−200,000
fatal cancers.
Exposure to even low-level radiation is a health hazard. That is the position of all relevant
expert bodies such as the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic
Radiation. As the the US National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on the Biological
Effects of Ionising Radiation states, “the risk of cancer proceeds in a linear fashion at lower
doses without a threshold and … the smallest dose has the potential to cause a small
increase in risk to humans.”
The waste produced in nuclear reactors − called spent nuclear fuel − is orders of
magnitude more radioactive than fresh uranium fuel. It takes around 200,000 years for the
radioactivity of spent fuel to decline to that of the original uranium ore body……….
In the late-1990s, the Australian government carried out a clean-up of the Maralinga
nuclear test site. It was done on the cheap and many tonnes of plutonium-contaminated
debris remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology……….
Should SA accept high-level nuclear waste from overseas?
How much money might be made by taking nuclear waste from other countries? There is
no precedent to base an estimate on. It is doubtful whether it would generate any more
than a fraction of the revenue that some lobbyists claim it might. There are many
constraints, such as the fact that some countries with significant nuclear power programs
− such as Russia, France, and India − operate reprocessing plants so would be unlikely to
want to send spent fuel to Australia. BHP Billiton’s submission to the Switkowski Review states
that the utilities to which it sells uranium “generally regard their spent fuel as an asset”.
Prof. John Veevers from Macquarie University states: “Tonnes of enormously dangerous
radioactive waste in the northern hemisphere, 20,000 kms from its destined dump in
Australia where it must remain intact for at least 10,000 years. These magnitudes − of
tonnage, lethality, distance of transport, and time − entail great inherent risk.”………

Northern Territory resisted, so Australian govt looks to more vulnerable communities to host nuclear waste dump

May 13, 2015

Nuclear waste dump unlikely in NT after land councils, stations refuse to nominate site ABC News, 11 May 15, By Anthony Stewart The Northern Territory appears unlikely to house the Federal Government’s proposed radioactive waste dump after major land holders fail to nominate a site.

The Federal Government began a renewed searchfor a site to store Australia’s intermediate-level nuclear waste and dispose of low-level waste in March this year. A formal application process closed on the May 5.

The ABC confirmed the Northern Land Council, Central Land Council, and Northern Territory Government had not nominated any land. Gilnockie and Supplejack Downs Stations also decided against participating in the process.

In a statement, the Federal Government refused to confirm whether any other organisation had nominated land.

“Details on nominations will be made public following the close of the nomination process and consideration by the Minister for Industry and Science. On current timeframes, this is expected in July 2015,” the statement read………

Anti-nuclear campaigner Lauren Mellor said it was the end of a long fight against nuclear waste in the Territory. “It’s very good news. We have spent the last decade with residents and traditional owners of the Northern Territory fighting a nuclear dump process,” she said. “The Federal Government has pulled out of the trenches in the Northern Territory.”

She said the fight had been pushed to other parts of Australia. “Unfortunately our concern is they will go and target another vulnerable community as they’ve done many times before to try and push them to house a national or even international dump,” Ms Mellor said.

Several organisations in both South Australia and the Western Australia have indicated they have nominated land under the process.

Not everybody in Yalgoo Shire is happy with nuclear waste dump hosting

May 13, 2015

Ben 14 May 15 As a resident of the midwest and has lived and worked on and around the area of Badja Station, I am totally against this idea in our back yard.

I as a former employee, have contributed to the success of GML during the exploration stages of the Karrara mining operation.
Thanks to that I got to see and feel this country and now regret the destruction that has already occurred

So I as one individual totally reject GML nominating this area as a facility for radioactive waste storage which will inevitably lead to establishing a much larger facility to accommodate international nuclear waste for avery handsome $$ profit to those involved.

NO PANGEA HERE !!! Please.

I hope and wish the Widi people are successful in their claim of native title of this area. It is beautiful country, surrounded by at least six vibrant, active towns / communities well within a 150km radius of the proposed radioactive waste dump as well as numerous exploration (because of the mineral wealth) and tourist activities in the area, not forgetting those living off and trying to protect this area

I object to, and will support anyone against, this proposal.


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