Archive for the ‘National’ Category

Adelaide Advertiser, mouthpiece of the nuclear lobby, excels itself in sycophancy

September 25, 2016
News-Limited1
I knew that The Advertiser was the mouthpiece of the nuclear lobby, anyway, but their latest effort wasreally sick-making. A rave which portrays Premier Weatherill as some kind of democratic champion, and which is pushing the soft sell that the decision on nuclear waste importing will not happen soon, but be dragged on for years.  (They  don’t say this, but in the interim, the nuke lobby has time to get secret arrangements made – and money lent to South Australia, so that ultimately, it might all be just too committed to turn back.)
A Premier with any spine might make a decision, a soon decision, and a wise one, to say no to the whole noxious scheme, – send home the business lobbyists and the propaganda spruikers like Geraldine Thomas, put the lid on the shonky Nuclear Royal Commission’s biased report, stop the silly nuke spinning Forums, and get on with running South Australia properly.   Such an opportunity that State has, as a world leader in renewable energy!
 
Lack of trust more toxic than nuclear dump notion: Daniel Wills, The Advertiser September 23, 2016   “South Australia is still at the stage where it needs reassurance about the science, as well as the competency and motivations of a government that would oversee its administration.

No site has been selected to house the world’s high-level international waste for profit, should the state choose to build one, nor any explanation of how one would be picked. The State Government is yet to overturn laws that ban public money being spent on investigating the establishment of a nuclear dump or even to pick up the phone to ask places like Japan what they would pay…….
The Finnish operators say they would jump at the chance to form an alliance with SA to build a dump here…..

Mr Weatherill is likely to confirm before Christmas that the Government will begin the serious work of developing a robust business case…….

Expect the Government to seek money from overseas to undertake a major geological survey that rules out places too unsafe for disposal to occur. At a cost of up to $1 billion, this is too expensive for SA to fund itself, but could have the benefit of doubling as a discovery tool for new mining deposits.

From there, it is likely the offer will be thrown open to communities to show an interest, and estimates made of what they could receive. Even on the most extremely rapid timeline, that point is unlikely to have been reached by the time voters head to the polls in March 2018.

This project is multi-generational, with a point of no return years away. But it is a doubtful and open question as to whether our politics are up to the job…….Mr Weatherill has framed this as a great test of our democracy’s ability to consider difficult questions and come to wise solutions. … http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/lack-of-trust-more-toxic-than-nuclear-dump-notion-daniel-wills/news-story/e927e455e6f244f35a8b6743bc791adb

Australia’s pro nuclear lobbyists more interested in Small Modular Nuclear Reactors than in waste storage

September 13, 2016

Australia nuclear toilet

Back on the radar: Developing nuclear reactors along with storing nuclear waste, Independent Australia  Noel Wauchope 7 September 2016,  “……..recent pro-nuclear submissions to the South Australian Parliament’s Joint Committee on Findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission have instead focussed on the benefits of “new nuclear” technology, particularly “small modular reactors” (SMRs) — note how the word “nuclear” is left out since people distrust it.
The global nuclear lobby is keenly interested in the South Australian government’s plan to import nuclear waste, because it would solve the waste problem for nuclear companies wanting to sell reactors and particularly, new types of nuclear reactors, to Asian countries.

This idea was pioneered by Australians and spelt out early in 2015, just as the NFCRC was starting, in an ABC Radio National talk by Oscar Archer. Since then, we haven’t heard any more about this, as the whole emphasis in SA government propaganda, has been on the billions supposedly to be made by that state from importing nuclear wastes. The idea of developing new nuclear technology is mentioned in the NFCRC report (p56 and p63) but very much played down and not recommended for South Australia.
Still, for foreign nuclear companies, the underlying aim is to further, or more correctly, to save, the nuclear industry by setting up new nuclear reactors, in particular SMRs.
It is vital for the nuclear industry to have a nuclear waste disposal plan. The industry has pretty much given up on selling nuclear reactors to countries that already have nuclear power and they are struggling with the waste problem. The big hope is to sell to “new” countries.
They are clearly looking to South Asia, as shown at the conference, The Prospects for Nuclear Power in the Asia Pacific Region, held in August, in Manila. The deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEAMikhail Chudakov said that IAEA sees South Asia as a region where nuclear energy is “high on the agenda” and could be one of the drivers for global nuclear power deployment.
The thing is, no country is going to embark on the nuclear power path – for small or large reactors – unless they have a prior plan for the disposal of radioactive wastes. This is vital for the nuclear industry — which is where Australia comes in…..

despite the NFCRC’s distinct lack of enthusiasm for new nuclear technology, three of the only five pro nuclear submissions were focussed, not on waste importing, but on new nuclear reactors.

Ben Heard‘s whole argument is directed at new reactors:

Our research indicates that South Australia could make a significant contribution in this technology development beginning at a modest reinvestment of revenues from used fuel.

Many nations in this region already exploit nuclear technology however this use is constrained by lack of a back-end solution…… The availability of a multinational solution for the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle could change these investment decisions profoundly.

Heard backs up his argument by playing the climate card of nuclear being “low carbon” and so on.

Dayne Eckermann writes:

‘The main motivation for myself and others to embrace and openly support this technology is its immense power output from a relative small facility.’

And the South Australia Chamber of Mines and Energy’s (SACOME‘s) view:

Australia’s well-equipped political, legal and educational structures mean that a reactor program could – with the support of experienced international partners – be started swiftly

SACOME strongly believes that the advances in small modular reactors and advanced reactor designs will provide the necessary facilities…..

I understand that, for the Parliamentary Committee, all submissions were actually published. This is in contrast to the NFCRC process, in which submissions from interested parties such as foreign nuclear companies were kept confidential……..

 Like Oscar Archer, at the beginning of the NFCRC saga, the Australian nuclear lobby is primarily keen for “new nuclear”, with the waste import as a necessary prelude……

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/back-on-the-radar-developing-nuclear-reactors-along-with-storing-nuclear-waste,9437

South Australian government’s secret nuclear forum for schoolchildren

August 31, 2016
secret-agent-AustThe South Australian government is going to a lot of trouble to set up a forum for 160 students and 60 teachers to hear  a presentation from the former Nuclear Royal commissioner, Kevin Scarce, and the Chief Executive of the Nuclear Consultation and Response Agency, to tell them all about the plan for South Australia to import foreign nuclear waste.
They are also to hear from “a range of experts”.
It is very concerning that this plan is so secretive. Neither the time nor the place of this forum has been divulged, nor any details about the experts presenting the information.
nuclear-teacher
The reason for this secrecy has been given as safety concerns, following anti nuclear protests in June. The agency’ s director of engagement, John Phalen , explained that “the safety of our students is our number one priority”
Are South Australia’s anti nuclear protestors actually a danger to schoolchildren?   It sounds more likely that  the government is keen to protect the children from information  that might cause them to ask difficult questions about the plan to make South Australia rich by importing foreign nuclear waste.

Global nuclear lobby doesn’t care if South Australia’s radioactive trash dump is not economically viable

August 26, 2016

toilet map South Australia 2

The global nuclear lobby surely does not care about whether or not the South Australian nuclear waste importing scheme is economically viable. Their fairly desperate need is to sell nuclear reactors to those countries that don’t already have them. In particular, the ‘small nuclear” lobby sees an urgency now, with ‘big nuclear’ failing, to get their industry happening.

A commitment by an Australian State to take in nuclear waste could do the trick for them – as Oscar Archer put it – by unblocking the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Mixed motives in South Australia’s nuclear waste import plan. Online Opinion, Noel Wauchope, 23 Aug 16  In South Australia the continued nuclear push focusses solely on a nuclear waste importing industry. Yet that might not be economically viable. Behind the scenes, another agenda is being pursued – that of developing new generation nuclear reactors.

First, let’s look at the message. The message from the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (NFCRC) is clearly a plan to make South Australia rich, by importing foreign nuclear wastes. …..This theme has been repeated ad nauseam by the NFCRC’s publicity, by politicians, and the mainstream media.…..

Whereas other countries are compelled to develop nuclear waste facilities, to deal with their waste production from civil and military reactors,that is not a necessity for Australia, (with the exception of relatively tiny amounts derived from the Lucas Heights research reactor).

So, the only reason for South Australia to develop a massive nuclear waste management business is to make money.

If it’s not profitable, then it shouldn’t be done.

Or so it would seem.

There is another, quieter, message. When you read the Royal Commission’s reports, you find that, while the major aim is for a nuclear waste business, in fact, the door is kept open for other parts of the nuclear fuel chain………

Nowhere in the NFCRC report, do they make a link between establishing the waste repository and planning for nuclear reactors. It is as though the two projects are not related. But they are.

The clearest explanation of this came early in 2015, just as the NFCRC was starting, in an ABC Radio National talk by Oscar Archer. He outlined a plan:

Australia establishes the world’s first multinational repository for used fuel – what’s often called nuclear waste. This is established on the ironclad commitment to develop a fleet of integral fast reactors …The development of the intermediate repository and the first reactors is funded by our international partners……

By unblocking the back end of the nuclear fuel cycles for our international partners and customers, rapid development in conventional Generation III+ nuclear technology receives a strong boost …

Each PRISM “power block”, or set of twin reactors, adds 622 megawatts of saleable zero-carbon generation to Australia which further improves the revenue position. …….The transition to PRISM world-wide is under-way on the back of Australia’s pioneering embrace of this technology with support of key partners.

Archer’s plan is significant because it illustrates a very important point about South Australia’s nuclear waste plan – IT SOLVES A GLOBAL NUCLEAR INDUSTRY PROBLEM. Both in ‘already nuclear’ countries, especially America, and in the so far non nuclear counties, such as in South Asia, the nuclear industry is stalled because of its nuclear waste problem. In America, the “new small nuclear”, such as the PRISM, technologies (Power Reactor Innnovative Small Module) cannot even be tested, without a definite waste disposal solution. But, if South Australia provided not only the solution, but also the first setting up of new small reactors, that would give the industry the necessary boost……..

Once Australia has set up a nuclear waste importing industry, the nuclear reactor salesmen of USA, Canada, South Korea, will have an excellent marketing pitch for South Asia, as the nuclear waste problem has been removed from their shores.. And South Asia is exactly the market that the NCRC has in its sights. The NFCRC eliminated most of the EU, Russia, China, North America as customers. This was explained by Dr Tim Jacobs, of Jacobs Engineering, (financial reporters to the NFCRC), at the recent hearing of the South Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee on Findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission .

Globally, the ‘conventional’ nuclear reactor business is struggling, The ever escalating costs of USA’s nuclear reactorsbeing built, of France’s Flamanville reactor, and most notable lately, Britain’s Hinkley C nuclear fiasco, have cast a gloom over ‘big nuclear reactors’

However, this is quite good news for the ‘small nuclear’ lobby. In the USA, the charge is led by Bill Gates, and a bunch of billionaires, who work to get governments, and taxpayer funding to support their novel nuclear reactor projects. In Britain, the nuclear charity (yes, it has charity status!) the Alvin Weinberg Foundation , and 33 new nuclear companies are practically ecstatic at the news that Teresa May’s government is having doubts about Big Nuclear.

Australia has its own cadre of small nuclear enthusiasts. These individuals have, in a short period of time, achieved world recognition as advocates for the various types of new small nuclear reactors. On the international scene, leading lobbyists are the Breakthrough Institute, with their Ecomodernist Manifesto. (They put in a submission to South Australia’s NFCRC), and Australian lobbyists Barry Brook and Ben Heard……..

South Australia’s government is influenced by a strong nuclear lobby push and the Royal Commission advocacy for solving that State’s present financial problems by a futuristic nuclear waste repository bonanza scheme.

The global nuclear lobby surely does not care about whether or not the South Australian nuclear waste importing scheme is economically viable. Their fairly desperate need is to sell nuclear reactors to those countries that don’t already have them. In particular, the ‘small nuclear” lobby sees an urgency now, with ‘big nuclear’ failing, to get their industry happening.

A commitment by an Australian State to take in nuclear waste could do the trick for them – as Oscar Archer put it – byunblocking the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. The NFCRC plan also promises the chance of a market in Australia for the mini nuclear reactors.  http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18465&page=1

Can South Australia cope with the bureaucratic mountain needed for nuclear waste dumping?

August 24, 2016

paperwork nuclear dump

Derek Abbott Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia , 24 August 16 Is South Australia aware of the administrative tsunami that will come, with nuclear waste importing plan?

Yucca Mountain created 3.7 million documents. I don’t think Jay is prepared for the administrative nightmare a repository will bring. Jay will buckle under the sheer load of the paperwork:

 Joseph Cullen That would create a few jobs at least

  Derek Abbott Useless admin jobs are just what are needed
  Trisha Dee Some jobs in the short term. But do you really think the government is going to pay people to manage the paperwork in 30 years time? 50 years time? 100 years time? 500 years time? 1000 years time?
1,000 years is how long the Royal Commission report says the material needs to be managed and they guessed at a cost for this (though not included it in the project costs).
Yucca Mountain Documents Now Publicly Available – In a New Online Library, USA Nuclear Regulatory Commission August 19, 2016 David McIntyre Public Affairs Officer

The NRC is flipping the switch today on its new LSN Library — making nearly 3.7 million documents related to the adjudicatory hearing on the proposed Yucca Mountain repository available to the public…….The library is significant for three reasons. First, it meets federal records requirements. Second, the library again provides public access to the previously-disclosed discovery materials should the Yucca Mountain adjudicatory hearing resume. Third, should the Yucca Mountain hearing not resume, the library will provide an important source of technical information for any future high-level waste repository licensing proceeding. https://public-blog.nrc-gateway.gov/2016/08/19/yucca-mountain-documents-now-publicly-available-in-a-new-online-library/

Nuclear waste importing costs queried by South Australia Parliamentary Committee

August 21, 2016

greed-1

SA parliamentary committee questions economics of importing nuclear waste, Independent Australia, 19 August 2016The economic benefits of SA’s push for a global nuclear waste dump took a negative turn during the current parliamentary committee inquiryNoel Wauchope reports.

THE SOUTH Australian Parliament is holdinga Joint Committee on Findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (NFCRC).

The five committee members, with one exception, the Greens Mark Parnell, have pro-nuclear opinions. I thought that it was going to be just a rubber stamp for the NFCRC. Now I am not so sure. The committee gave the NFCRC a grilling on the economics of the plan to develop a nuclear waste import industry in South Australia.

Answers indicated that the NFCRC is keen to have discussions with other countries before the matter is resolved at the political level…….

Trawling through the 173 pages transcript of hearings of this committee, I was surprised at the rigour of the questioning of witnesses by the politicians. They did ask hard questions about the arrangements for contracts from overseas countries, customers sending radioactive wastes to South Australia. They asked questions about who pays and when, and for what aspects of the process.

The most intensive questioning of witnesses was certainly on that subject of economics. After all, the plan is to make a financial bonanza for the state. There is no other reason for it. I sensed that the parliamentary committee was indeed focussed on this one basic question:

If it’s not going to make money, why do it?……

Dr Johnson went on to rather confusing statements about the contractual arrangements, and particularly about at what stage revenue would come to South Australia. I don’t think that the committee was inspired with confidence as Johnson discussed this. It was a very lengthy discussion. A few extracts illustrate the economic problems that were revealed in this discussion:

(Transcript p.24) Dr JOHNSON:

We recognised that, once waste got to South Australia, it was very unlikely to leave South Australia. It was very unlikely that there would be anywhere else you could move it on to, so the liability and the responsibility for that waste would be transferred to South Australia. What was a realistic value of that willingness to pay number?  We looked at that in a number of different ways because there is no market for it……

a rare mention of the probability of a serious nuclear accident happening – who knows when? It raised the spectre of the expected nuclear waste bonanza suddenly fizzling out, after South Australia had committed to building the nuclear waste repository …..

Dr Johnson seemed to get a bit rattled:

Dr JOHNSON:

In essence we are spending money up until we start signing the contracts, and at this stage on the 28-year timeline that occurs at year six-ish, but if it’s a 40-year timeline and there are delays, then it may well be that you keep spending money and you don’t get the precommitments until later than year six. : I am not an economist; I am a chemist. Quite clearly, we were not looking at this from an economic perspective. Our remit was to look at it from a financial perspective…….

Kristen Jelk  asks:


South Australia nuclear toiletWho is talking about “Brand South Australia”?  ……….
If SA is pitching safe products to an international market, and it becomes known that this Australian state has established a dump for nuclear waste, then the damage to brand SA will be immeasurable….It will not matter that the dump is in a desert, nor will it matter if the dump is a distance from prime agricultural land, nor will it matter if experts assure of safety standards. The perception that would prevail is that SA will be a dumping ground for nuclear waste. Perception is everything….

China is our largest trading partner. At present, Australia has clear marketing opportunities in China, and for our other nearer neighbours. In assessing the so called golden coin to be gained for bringing in radioactive trash, South Australia needs to also consider the other side of that coin the economic opportunities that could be lost, along with the risk of a poor or no return on the waste facility investment. https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/sa-parliamentary-committee-questions-economics-of-importing-nuclear-waste,9371

Risky financial assumptions from Nuclear Royal Commission South Australia

August 18, 2016

greed-1

Submission to Joint Committee on Nuclear Royal Commission South Australian Parliament, – Mothers for a Sustainable South Australia, August 2016 http://www.parliament.sa.gov.au/Committees/Pages/Committees.aspx?CTId=2&CId=333

The assumptions underpinning the century-long cost-benefit calculation that this proposal relies upon, are heroic.

Price: There is no market for disposing of HLNW, so the proposed ‘price’ is a guess. It is ‘an illustrative benchmark’ (p 293) – but is critical to the $51 billion profit figure. Experts cannot predict the price of gas, coal or iron ore one year ahead – despite well developed markets for all three. How can a century-long price for something that is not yet traded be sensibly predicted? The price used by the RC is much higher than that suggested by Finnish experience. It is nothing more than a guess.

Cost: There is no existing deep geological storage anywhere in the world, so no experience with what it actually costs. The cost estimate – from transport through to maintenance of the site for 100,000 years – is also simply a guess. The Finns who must dispose of about 6,000 tonnes of their own high level nuclear waste have recently granted construction approval for a deep geological dump at Onkalu – after 40 years lead up. This is the first of its kind in the world – expected to be operational in the 2020s. But until it is built, there is no reliable cost experience for the experimental technology. Further, Onkalu is much smaller than that proposed for SA. What are the costs of something 23 times larger likely to be? Who knows? There are no reliable estimates of what it will cost to transport 138,000 tonnes of HLNW or intermediate waste from, say, Korea to Port Augusta – and then to store it and re-transport it to the far north of the state. Such international transport has not been done before.

A single quote from a nuclear industry insider: As we have pointed out, all these rely on a single consultant report by Jacobs & MCM. Jacobs are industry insiders. They have been in the nuclear industry for 50 years – on projects from construction through to clean up. They have a business interest in the nuclear industries expansion. Jacobs’ website prides itself on ‘ongoing business relationships’ with nuclear industry clients, promising ‘to serve as their advocates and support them in their global aspirations’. They are hired consultants who pride themselves on acting in the interests of their hirers – not for an objective critical viewpoint on behalf of the larger community

The nuclear industry consistently overestimates returns and underestimate risk. For example, academic analysis of the cost of building 180 nuclear reactors up until 2014 (for which cost data is known) found that on average they cost double their original estimates – and most took years longer than expected to build, increasing the costs of finance very significantly (Sovacook, Gilbery and 4 Nugent, 2014). The costs of the US Yucca Mountain deep disposal project also blew out very significantly (prior to it being mothballed). The RC offers ‘sensitivity analysis’ on price, costs and quantity but keeps its analysis within parameters that mean it remains profitable on paper. There are many other plausible assumptions about price, cost and amount of waste received, accidents, and changes in legal, contractual, market or community circumstances that make it not only unprofitable, but potentially extremely costly to Governments – who would own and control the project – and who would have to pick up the tab. The financial risks of the project throw the losses of SA’s state bank debacle into the shade.

What happens if the amount of high level nuclear waste does not eventuate? The economics of the project rely on a minimum quantity of high and medium level nuclear waste. What happens if it does not arrive – for any number of reasons? What if China or the US – or companies from anywhere in the world – enter the market for waste disposal? Both countries – and others – plan to build dumps for their own waste. If this is so profitable, why would they not enter the market to take waste, easily undercutting SA’s price and reducing the quantity in the SA facility – which must achieve a very large share of the international market to be viable, let alone profitable? The nuclear industry consistently overestimates returns and underestimate risk. For example, academic analysis of the cost of building 180 nuclear reactors up until 2014 (for which cost data is known) found that on average they cost double their original estimates – and most took years longer than expected to build, increasing the costs of finance very significantly (Sovacook, Gilbery and 4 Nugent, 2014). The costs of the US Yucca Mountain deep disposal project also blew out very significantly (prior to it being mothballed).

The RC offers ‘sensitivity analysis’ on price, costs and quantity but keeps its analysis within parameters that mean it remains profitable on paper. There are many other plausible assumptions about price, cost and amount of waste received, accidents, and changes in legal, contractual, market or community circumstances that make it not only unprofitable, but potentially extremely costly to Governments – who would own and control the project – and who would have to pick up the tab.

The financial risks of the project throw the losses of SA’s state bank debacle into the shade. What happens if the amount of high level nuclear waste does not eventuate? The economics of the project rely on a minimum quantity of high and medium level nuclear waste. What happens if it does not arrive – for any number of reasons? What if China or the US – or companies from anywhere in the world – enter the market for waste disposal? Both countries – and others – plan to build dumps for their own waste. If this is so profitable, why would they not enter the market to take waste, easily undercutting SA’s price and reducing the quantity in the SA facility – which must achieve a very large share of the international market to be viable, let alone profitable?

South Australian govt’s snide first step in repealing law on nuclear wastes

August 9, 2016
Weatherill nuclear dream
The first goal of South Australia’s shonky Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission is to get rid of clausesw in, or better still, this entire law:  the Nuclear W@aste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000.
The Premier has announced that the first ‘Simplify Day’ will be held on 15 November, 2016 to repeal out-dated and redundant legislation that impacts on the Government’s ability to deliver on its 10 Economic Priorities.
In the lead-up to Simplify Day a consultation process is being held to seek the views of businesses and the community on how red tape can be removed for businesses, including any legislation that may be outdated or unnecessary.
Should you wish to know more about this initiative or make a submission visit the YourSAY website at www.yoursay.sa.gov.au.
The consultation period is open until 13 August, 2016.”
http://yoursay.sa.gov.au/decisions/yoursay-engagements-making-sa-the-best-place-to-do-business-by-removing-outdated-legislation/about

An old pro nuclear team behind South Australia’s biased Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission

August 3, 2016

 

logo MCM consultingThe concerns that this approach is focussed more on manufacturing social license or acceptance of the dump plan, rather than forensically and objectively analysing the full range of risks and opportunities, have increased following news that a key adviser to the nuclear Royal Commission was an industry “true believer” linked to a failed attempt to open a global radioactive waste dump in Australia in the 1990s.

In the late 1990s, public outrage forced Pangea to abandon its dumping plan. Today, a pro-nuclear Royal Commission is using public funds to facilitate Pangea’s inheritors to rewrite the proposal.

Big bucks, radioactive waste and a biased SA Royal Commission https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/big-bucks-radioactive-waste-and-a-biased-sa-royal-commission,9304 1 August 2016 Following SA’s nuclear fuel cycle Royal Commission, a publicly-funded PR campaign is attempting to make the largest ever radioactive waste dump in the world, a tepid topic, writes Dave Sweeney.

A STATE-BASED Royal Commission unleashed a plan with massive national implications when it recommended, in May, that South Australia should move to import, store and bury around a third of the globe’s high level radioactive waste ‘as soon as possible’.

The Royal Commission, initiated by PremierJay Weatherill in 2015 and presided over by former governor and self-proclaimed state salesman Kevin Scarce, has unsurprisingly generated column inches, congratulations and critics.

With its pro-nuclear terms of reference and advisory panel, and its often oblique process, the exercise has been a case study in issue management. Radioactive waste may be hot but a well-funded series of rolling roadshows, a citizens’ jury, and a social media initiative are all part of a state campaign working to make the topic tepid and the “conversation” constrained.

The concerns that this approach is focussed more on manufacturing social license or acceptance of the dump plan, rather than forensically and objectively analysing the full range of risks and opportunities, have increased following news that a key adviser to the nuclear Royal Commission was an industry “true believer” linked to a failed attempt to open a global radioactive waste dump in Australia in the 1990s.

Pangea Resources was a consortium of nuclear agencies and utilities from Europe and the U.S. that tried to advance a waste dump in Australia during the 1990s, before news of the plan leaked and became a focus of public attention and outrage.

After the company’s enforced radioactive retreat from Australia, Pangea’s technical manager Charles McCombie became a foundation partner of MCM, the Swiss based firm contracted by the recent Royal Commission to model economic and technical information, and analyse potential customer demand and economics.

MCM’s report strongly influenced the Commission’s enthusiastic pro-dump recommendations.

Other economic analysts have cautioned against the “heroic” assumptions underpinning the Royal Commission’s final report and there are growing calls for the state treasury department to run the ruler over the sums. But for now, the distorted dollar signs remain in pride of place while the very real danger signs struggle to make the stage.

How times change. In the late 1990s, public outrage forced Pangea to abandon its dumping plan. Today, a pro-nuclear Royal Commission is using public funds to facilitate Pangea’s inheritors to rewrite the proposal.

Mr McCombie is also President of ARIUS, the Association for Regional and International Underground Storage. MCM and ARIUS both aim to advance global radioactive waste disposal and neither are independent or objective. This, of course, raises questions about the independence and objectivity of the advice provided to the Royal Commission.

Clearly, any examination of a plan to ship, store and bury the largest amount of the world’s worst nuclear waste would require engaging with those industry players who think and work in this space. No surprises, conflicts of interest or covert operations there. But these players should not be allowed, or paid, to shape the fundamental documents, data and discourse surrounding such a contested and lasting public policy issue.

Radioactive waste management is complex, contaminating and costly, and it lasts far longer than any politician or headline. It needs real analysis, not industry assumptions.

The costs involved with the South Australian plan – currently estimated at $145 billion – are huge and both uncapped and uncertain. The security, safety, environmental and human health implications are profound and permanent. The issue deserves and demands the highest level of scrutiny and transparency, not limited disclosure and insiders promoting a pre-determined agenda.

What is being planned and promoted in South Australia would be by far the largest high level radioactive waste dump in the world and it has never been done before.

MCM has stated that a positive State Government response to the Royal Commission report would

‘… change the worldwide paradigm of radioactive waste management.’

Any moves to further advance this high risk plan should not be based on a report that is compromised, deeply deficient and unfit for purpose.

South Australians – and all of us – deserve better.

Dave Sweeney is the nuclear free campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation. You can follow him on Twitter @nukedavesweeney.

South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission results compromised by its pro nuclear bias

August 2, 2016


Scarce thanks experts 1

Today’s Age discusses the planned Australian Royal Commission into Juvenile Justice in the Northern Territory. The appointed Commissioner, Brian Martin, has resigned because he recognised a perception of bias by the community, however well qualified he might be for the position.

The South Australian Royal Commissioner, Kevin Scarce, was not only not qualified, with no legal background, but IS clearly perceived as biased.

Kevin Scarce has a conflict of interest, as a shareholder in Rio Tinto, and as a member of CEDA (the Committee for Economic Development In Australia). CEDA’s Policy Perspectives of Nov 2011 clearly supports and promotes the growth of South Australia’s nuclear industry. The Royal Commissioner selected predominantly pro-nuclear experts for the Commission’s Advisory Committee.

Speaking in November 2014 at a Flinders University guest lecture, Scarce acknowledged being an “an advocate for a nuclear industry”.

Mark Kenny, writing in The Age today says:

Indeed, Martin acknowledged this [public confidence] was the crucial factor – irrespective of the facts. He observed if any public doubts about the impartiality or commitment to the unvarnished truth were allowed to “fester” during the commission’s long months, its outcomes would be compromised.