Archive for the ‘ACT’ Category

Australia importing the world’s nuclear wastes? – an ethical case for this

October 27, 2016


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If indeed, the waste importing idea were conditional on a Japanese plan to close down the industry, and help Japan overcome its very serious dilemma, this could be one big move towards halting the global nuclear industry juggernaut, with its undoubted connection to nuclear weapons. Japan could pay a reasonable amount to the waste host country, without being ripped off, without that country expecting to become mega wealthy. That would be one circumstance in which it would be an ethical choice for Australia to import and dispose of nuclear waste.

“Pie in the sky!”  I hear your cry.

Yes, sadly so. Is there any chance that such an ethical decision would ever be made? I doubt it. The Nuclear Citizens’ Jury is left with the question of whether or not to support the NFCRC’s plan for a nuclear waste bonanza, or to risk possible State bankruptcy in the event of it all going wrong. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18603

Nuclear Citizens’ Jury: an ethical case for importing nuclear wastes, Online Opinion, Noel Wauchope, 25 Oct 16 The South Australian government will call another Nuclear Citizens’ Jury, on October 29 – 30. This time the jury must answer this question:

Under what circumstances, if any, could South Australia pursue the opportunity to store and dispose of nuclear waste from other countries?

That set me thinking. The main “circumstance” for recommending this “opportunity” is the State Government’s plan to eventually bring in a pot of gold for the State.   There really is no other argument for this project in the Report. In the 320 page report any arguments about Aboriginal issues, safety, environment, health, are aimed at rebutting criticism of the plan. They provide no argument on the plan actually improving health or environment, and are in fact quite defensive about Aboriginal impacts.

However, nuclear lobbyists have for a long time been promoting the idea that Australia has an ethical responsibility to import nuclear wastes. Terry Grieg, of the Australian Nuclear Association expressed it clearly on Robyn Williams’Ockham’s Razor show, in 2013.:….

This ethical argument is supported only by enthusiastic nuclear lobbyists. Even the World Nuclear Association is clear on the question of responsibility for nuclear wastes:

There is clear and unequivocal understanding that each country is ethically and legally responsible for its own wastes, therefore the default position is that all nuclear wastes will be disposed of in each of the 50 or so countries concerned.

So – the Nuclear Citizens’ Jury seems to be left with only one real circumstance under which it has the “opportunity” to store and dispose of nuclear wastes from other countries – the projected financial bonanza.

There are many serious critics of the economic argument, such as in submissions to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (NFCRC) by Senator Scott Ludlam , by Mothers For A Sustainable South AustraliaDr Mark Diesendorf, and by more recent articles such as the economic briefing by Independent Environment Campaigner, David Noonan. The current South Australian Parliamentary Inquiry has also criticised the economic plan. Senior Liberal MP Rob Lucas, a former state treasurer and the opposition’s Treasury spokesman suggested that:

…we, the taxpayers of South Australia, will be spending tens and maybe hundreds of ­millions of dollars on fool’s gold – fool’s uranium, fool’s nuclear waste dumps…….

Perhaps there IS an ethical argument for South Australia to import nuclear waste. I’m not referring to the uranium lobby’s hope that by Australia importing waste it will make their industry look good, and thus help to save its current decline.…….

At present Japan’s Shinzo Abe government is set on reviving the nuclear industry. However, there is much popular opposition to this, and Japan might well later move to the opposite policy. Interestingly, following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in 2013, Japan held a “deliberative poll” – a type of “citizens’ jury’, which resulted in this conclusion:

As a direct result of the deliberative polling process, Japan’s national government has pledged to have zero percent dependency on nuclear energy after 2030.

Here is where an ethical argument comes in. If Japan took the decision to keep its nuclear reactors closed, to close down the two that are now operating, and abandon the nuclear goal, it would still have to solve the radioactive waste problem.

Japan would need help, in many ways, to achieve that goal. It would indeed be an ethical decision for a country such as Australia, to help…….The present plan, for nuclear waste to be imported into South Australia, is based on the idea of helping South East Asian countries to set up their nuclear power projects, by conveniently solving their “back end” problem. It is above all, a plan to the benefit of the global nuclear industry, which is at present in quite a crisis.

If indeed, the waste importing idea were conditional on a Japanese plan to close down the industry, and help Japan overcome its very serious dilemma, this could be one big move towards halting the global nuclear industry juggernaut, with its undoubted connection to nuclear weapons. Japan could pay a reasonable amount to the waste host country, without being ripped off, without that country expecting to become mega wealthy. That would be one circumstance in which it would be an ethical choice for South Australia to import and dispose of nuclear waste.

“Pie in the sky!”  I hear your cry.

Yes, sadly so. Is there any chance that such an ethical decision would ever be made? I doubt it. The Nuclear Citizens’ Jury is left with the question of whether or not to support the NFCRC’s plan for a nuclear waste bonanza, or to risk possible State bankruptcy in the event of it all going wrong. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18603

Australia should learn from Toshiba’s nuclear waste debacle in Mongolia

January 19, 2016

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This article relates to Mongolia, but the principles would also apply to Australia, on the basis that anywhere will do. The waste in question is not only Japanese waste, but also waste produced in nuclear power plants exported by Toshiba/Westinghouse

 

 

The elephant in the room for Toshiba is nuclear http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/16/national/media-national/elephant-room-toshiba-nuclear/
BY PHILIP BRASOR  THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 16, 2016

Japanese press outlets often cover scoops from competing outlets, but it’s rare to build on a competitor’s story with original reporting, especially when the scoop is a few years old. In December, the weekly magazine Aera, which is affiliated with the Asahi Shimbun, ran an article about a secret meeting that took place between representatives of Japan, Mongolia and the United States almost five years ago. This meeting was first reported by Haruyuki Aikawa in the May 9, 2011, issue of the Mainichi Shimbun.

What interested Aera reporter Atsushi Yamada about the article was Aikawa’s assertion that Toshiba Corp. was on hand for the negotiations.

In 2006, Toshiba had bought a majority share in the American company Westinghouse, a manufacturer, like Toshiba, that started out in the home electronics field and eventually expanded into nuclear power plant construction. Japan said it would buy uranium mined in the central Asian country and in return Mongolia would tap Japan’s nuclear energy expertise in building power plants and, more significantly, nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities that would incorporate the acceptance of high-level nuclear waste from Japan and other countries.

Though the Mainichi story received little attention in Japan or the U.S., it was translated and disseminated in Mongolia, thus leading, only three months after the 2011 nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, to citizen protests against the deal, which opponents said would turn their country into a “toilet” for the world’s nuclear waste. Later, the Mongolian government said it might be difficult for it to accept this waste.

Yamada read subsequent emails between Toshiba’s president at the time, Norio Sasaki, and an official of the U.S. Dept. of Energy, which said that negotiations with Mongolia should continue and that any further arrangements be made in a confidential manner. Toshiba’s public relations department confirmed the existence of the emails to Yamada but denied that Toshiba had asked the Mongolian government to receive outside nuclear waste. The negotiations, it said, had more to do with “building on the system of nuclear nonproliferation.”

Aikawa told Yamada that while ostensibly the negotiations were between the three governments, the plans for the deal were drawn up by the U.S. and Toshiba with the aim of selling nuclear power plants to emerging economies under a scheme called Comprehensive Fuel Service.

According to this scheme, vendors assure potential customers that they will handle any future nuclear waste produced by power plants the customers buy, which is why Mongolia’s acceptance of such waste is so important. Due to local resistance, neither the U.S. nor Japan has anywhere to dump spent fuel, even their own.

The reason Yamada became so interested in this topic years after the fact is that in the meantime, Toshiba has been caught up in financial scandals that have brought the company to its knees, and he wanted to explore the connection between Toshiba’s nuclear energy business and its fiscal woes.

The connection itself is not a secret. Toshiba spent almost ¥600 billion to buy its share of Westinghouse, which at the time of the purchase was only worth about ¥250 billion. The extra “goodwill” money (norendai) was in anticipation of future revenues that would accrue as Toshiba expanded its nuclear energy business both in Japan and throughout the world with Westinghouse as its “trump card.” But then Fukushima happened, putting a serious damper on demand for plant construction.

The revenues Toshiba envisioned didn’t materialize, and the norendai became a huge liability it tried to hide through bookkeeping. Sasaki, his predecessor and his successor are all now being sued by Toshiba’s management for ordering improper accounting practices after Nikkei Business reported that Toshiba was violating Tokyo Stock Exchange regulations regarding the disclosure of a subsidiary’s losses.

However, at the end of December, the Financial Services Agency, in its investigation of the accounting scandal, did not find Toshiba to be at fault, but rather punished the auditing firm of Ernst & Young ShinNihon for “failure to detect” Toshiba’s improper accounting practices. In a follow-up article in the Jan. 11 issue of Aera, the reporter wondered if this arrangement didn’t smack of “conspiracy,” and an FSA representative told the magazine that the agency “suspected” as much but “could not find any evidence.” For the next three months, ShinNihon is suspended from signing any new business contracts and must pay a “surcharge” of ¥2.1 billion. Though that may sound severe, industry people told Aera that usually in such cases penalized companies are suspended from conducting business altogether.

So why didn’t the FSA accuse Toshiba of accounting fraud, especially given that it’s not uncommon for auditors to revise their findings so as not to inconvenience powerful clients? As Yamada points out, the agency didn’t even mention Westinghouse in its findings.

Perhaps the government still needs Toshiba, since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pegged Japanese growth at least partly to the export of nuclear technology. In November, the Asahi Shimbun interviewed the CEO of Westinghouse, who said his company had plans to build dozens of new reactors all over the world, “including Japan.” Abe is selling nuclear technology to Vietnam, Turkey and other countries, and in October he finalized a trade deal with Mongolia.

Ryoko Imaoka, an associate professor at Osaka University and longtime expert on Mongolia, has explained that the U.S., desperate to find a friendly country to accept nuclear waste, was pushing Japan to make a deal with Mongolia. Japan publicly downplays the nuclear part of the trade agreement and Japanese media have obliged, though Mitsubishi Corp. is already developing three new mines there. She says the country’s currently dormant uranium pits remain extremely radioactive and it’s not clear where any nuclear waste would be buried, but in any event there are Mongolians who are ready to sue to shut the whole thing down.

100% renewable energy power for Australia’s Parliament House

November 14, 2015

Tom Swann says ACT government will have last laugh at climate sceptics,Canberra Times, November 13, 2015   Reporter for The Canberra Times. “…..researcher and campaigner Tom Swann says whether the former treasurer or prime minister or anyone else in Federal Parliament likes it or not, the Australian Parliament House will soon be 100 per cent renewably powered.

This is one of the implications of the ACT government’s clean energy policies, the most ambitious in Australia, which Mr Swann will explain at the Progressive Canberra Summit on Saturday morning, at a gathering of people discussing energy, housing, social justice and sustainability in this city and globally.

Mr Swann will point out the ACT government plans to completely decarbonise the territory’s electricity system and its moves to decarbonise its investments, by starting to divest from fossil fuels.

He will ask a group of people how can Canberra make the most of this leadership? “How do we ensure this transition engages all of Canberra, using local energy and expertise and providing options to those on lower incomes?” Mr Swann said.

He will present research from public policy think tank Australian Institute which shows three in four Canberrans surveyed (78 per cent) support the 100 per cent renewables target, a majority strongly supporting it. The polling also found an interesting national perspective.

“Canberra’s leading position on renewables is the envy of the rest of the country,” Mr Swann said.

The research is based on two polls  in September, one by ReachTEL of 731 residents in Fraser electorate and 717 residents in Canberra electorate, while a separate poll by Research Now surveyed 1407 people across Australia.

Three in four Canberrans (75 per cent) said they were willing to pay more on their bills to achieve the 100 per cent renewables target and almost two in three (62 per cent) said they would be willing to pay at least $5 per week more on household electricity.

Almost three in four Australians from outside of Canberra (72 per cent) said they wanted a similar policy in their own state……..http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/tom-swann-says-act-government-will-have-last-laugh-at-climate-sceptics-20151113-gky8vd.html

These Liberal and National MPs line up against renewable energy

April 2, 2014

MPs unite against ACT’s renewable energy scheme, Braidwood Times, 1 April 14 Liberals and Nationals in NSW have joined forces to send a strong message to the ACT Government over its renewable energy policy: Leave our farms alone!

Windfarms have been controversial in the area surrounding the ACT and an110 tower ‘farm’ is in the wind for the area from Tarago, south across the Kings Highway down to Manar.

The Member for Monaro John Barilaro was joined by his State colleague the Member for Burrinjuck and Minister for Primary Industries and Small Business, Katrina Hodgkinson, Family & Community Services Minister, Minister for Women & Member for Goulburn Pru Goward, the Federal Member for Hume, Angus Taylor  and Goulburn Mulwaree Mayor Geoff Kettle, on top of a popular Canberra lookout to deliver the message on behalf of their communities…….http://www.braidwoodtimes.com.au/story/2189378/mps-unite-against-acts-renewable-energy-scheme/?cs=741

Australia’s own “Pentagon”

October 2, 2009

KRudd’s war room to deal with all manner of Strangelove situations

Sydney Morning Herald, by Tony Wright October 1, 2009 “……..a brand-new, super-secret installation called Headquarters Joint Operations Command. It’s in a paddock about 35km outside Canberra, heading towards the village of Bungendore, (more…)

ANU joins ANSTO for nuclear research

September 22, 2009

New agreement for nuclear research
Sky News September 21, 2009The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and The Australian National University (ANU) will join forces to further research into nuclear science.Science Minister Kim Carr will launch the national research partnership in Canberra on Tuesday.The new agreement will see the two organisations collaborate on research into future energy sources and nuclear non-proliferation as well as share the use of testing facilities like particle accelerators.

Sky News: New agreement for nuclear research