Archive for the ‘South Australia’ Category

South Australian couple welcome nuclear waste: have no idea of its radioactive and long lived toxicity

August 2, 2017
 
L-R ANSTO’s Chief Nuclear Officer Hef Griffiths; Michelle Rayner; Brett Rayner   with the most radioactive waste on site at ANSTO:
Steve Dale Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA    The container pictured contains 15 Petabecquerels of radioactivity. If the walls weren’t 20cm thick solid steel it would kill any who stood too close for too long. Estimates are around 20 Petabecquerels of Cesium-137 contaminated the land and sea around Fukushima. There’s enough radioactivity in that high level waste container to Fukushima all the farmland, fisheries and tourism around Kimba. more https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/
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South Australian couple Brett and Michelle Rayner thrilled at thought of hosting nuclear waste dump on their land

August 2, 2017

Last Friday, landowners who volunteered a site for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility made a trip to Australia’s home of nuclear science, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

Brett and Michelle Rayner, who volunteered part of their property for consultation on the national facility, toured ANSTO, meeting with ANSTO’s CEO and the local Mayor.

Brett said that the experience showed him that the waste was even safer than he thought.

“I was originally against the proposal, but after attending the community meetings I got the information and could see that there are no safety risks and there is opportunity for our community,” he said

“Based on that I volunteered my land, but coming to ANSTO and seeing this operation in person has really confirmed for me that this waste can and is being safely managed,” he said.

Being able to walk up to the intermediate level waste and touch the container it’s stored in, and to hear and see the different ways that the waste is treated to make it safe, was amazing.

“There is so much more done with this one reactor than I even imagined, so it was great to be able to come, see the way things are done here, and ask all your questions.”

Michelle said that she really enjoyed the opportunity to come and see the reality of what waste storage looks like.

“What’s done at ANSTO is just mind-blowing, and what stood out is the wide variety of research that goes on here, that people maybe don’t realise the huge contribution nuclear science makes.”

Michelle said that she really enjoyed the opportunity to come and see the reality of what waste storage looks like.

“It has been extremely informative, it’s really opened our eyes to how safe the waste is – in many ways it is no scarier than a garbage bin,” she said.

“What’s done at ANSTO is just mind-blowing, and what stood out is the wide variety of research that goes on here, that people maybe don’t realise the huge contribution nuclear science makes.”

Senator Scott Ludlam’s very inconvenient questions on Australian government’s nuclear waste plan

June 13, 2017

Assuming that the long-lived intermediate-level stuff does go to the sites that you are busy characterising at the moment, how long is it envisaged that it actually stays there before it gets taken somewhere else?

Mr B Wilson: We cannot give a definitive answer on that because we have not commenced a process to identify a permanent disposal solution for the long-lived intermediate-level waste—

Senator LUDLAM: Ouch!

if the really dangerous intermediate-level stuff is to be stored there you cannot tell them how long it is meant to be there for

so we kind of do not really know what is going on there or how long it is meant to be there for.

ECONOMICS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE, Department of Industry – RADIOACTIVE WASTE  1st June 2017

 Full Transcript here: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/committees/estimate/e3ddf88b-3e9c-4546-9d90-8f646689a98c/toc_pdf/Economics%20Legislation%20Committee_2017_06_01_5134.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf

Senator Canavan: I have been to Hawker and I am going there again tomorrow, and I would like to put on record my thanks to many in the Hawker community who engage in this process. Some have certainly changed their mind as they have come to have more understanding of it. I think you have probably been to Lucas Heights, and it I think it makes a big difference to people when they see it. There is a lot of misinformation spread about this, and we are trying to engage with people in a genuine way in good faith to give them the information to make informed decisions.

Senator LUDLAM: Who is spreading this information, Senator Canavan?

Senator Canavan: I hear it from time to time. I do not have any particular allegations to make about individual groups here, but you do hear lots of information from time to time about the potential danger of this material. But, of course, as you would probably know, much of the low-level waste is stored safely at Lucas Heights, a place where people go to and from work every day. 

Senator LUDLAM: That begs the question of why it needs to move. ..….

Senator LUDLAM: Staying in South Australia: has there been any consideration at all—this is for the department or the minister, whoever wants to take this one on—of the tension between the proposed national radioactive waste facility and the existing South Australian legislation, which would be the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000? The tension between the fact that your entire project is presently illegal under South Australian law: what is being done about that?

Mr B Wilson: We are certainly aware of the South Australian prohibition under their law. However, the National Radioactive Waste Management Act that we operate under overrides South Australian law. 

Senator LUDLAM: And that is it? You are just going to squash them? Or are there discussions progressing with the South Australian government?….

Senator LUDLAM: Is the department, or you, Senator Canavan, or any of the federal agencies or other actors in communication with the South Australian government environment or heritage departments, or representatives of any body, actually, in relation to the tension between the two acts?

Senator Canavan: I have raised it with the South Australian government. They have indicated that they may seek to make changes. I am not aware of the status of that at the moment. Obviously, they have their own process, which is a separate to ours, on radioactive waste. Certainly, the issue has been raised. Mr Wilson is also right that we are confident that is not a barrier to this project. But Mr Wilson will be giving you that.

Mr B Wilson: We engage—I would have to characterise it as infrequently—with the South Australian government. It is more in the line of updating where we are. We have not had any recent engagements. They are certainly very well aware of the prohibitions under their law about what the South Australian government and its officials can do in this space….

When I said that the National Radioactive Waste Management Act overrides South Australian law, that is the fact. But what we are trying to do in the development of this project is to develop it and act in a way that is consistent with requirements under other South Australian legislation. For instance, in terms of Indigenous heritage protection and other aspects. While we are not necessarily bound by those laws we want to act in a way that is consistent with them.

Senator LUDLAM: With waste that is as dangerous as this, I am very glad to hear it! Is the department still accepting site nominations?

Senator Canavan: The government remains open to further nominations, as we announced on selecting the Hawker site last year. But the ones we have announced are those that we are proceeding with at this stage.

Senator LUDLAM: Wallerberdina and two at Kimba. (more…)

Australian govt plans imposing nuclear waste on South Australian rural community

May 29, 2017

28 May 2017, Submission by David Noonan, B.Sc., M.Env.St.  To:Senator The Hon Matthew Canavan  RE: Proposed Federal government imposition onto community in South Australia of an illegal “100 year” Store for ANSTO’s “10 000 year” irradiated Nuclear Fuel Wastes.

Storage of nuclear wastes affects the rights, interests and safety of all South Australians and is prohibited in our State under the Nuclear Waste Storage (Prohibition) Act 2000.

Proposed imposition of ANSTO reactor nuclear wastes is a major public interest concern in SA and detracts from public trust and confidence in the Federal government, in ARPANSA and in ANSTO.

The National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) comprises two co-located waste management facilities: an above ground 100 year Store for wastes that ARPANSA states require isolation for 10 000 years, AND a Disposal Facility for wastes requiring isolation for up to 300 years.

This submission focuses on the proposed imposition of the illegal Store & consequences thereof.

The Store is primarily for ANSTO irradiated Nuclear Fuel Wastes (NFW) and other existing and proposed reactor wastes, with only minor projected future arising’s of Intermediate Level Wastes (ILW) from States & Territories or from other Commonwealth agencies.

ARPANSA’s CEO (May 2015) has formally considered the proposed NRWMF Store and stated:

This plan will have the provision for ILW storage above ground for approximately 100 years.”

This indefinite storage plan compromises safety in importing nuclear waste to SA without a waste disposal capacity or even a requisite program for disposal of NFW and ILW.

ARPANSA’s Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council (April 2010) has provided formal advice which concluded: “that Australia’s current policy of indefinite storage for intermediate level waste does not appear to be consistent with International best practice.”

The import, transport, storage and disposal of ANSTO irradiated Nuclear Fuel Wastes is illegal in SA and was prohibited under the leadership of Liberal Premier John Olsen in 2000:

“The Objects of this Act are to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of South Australia and to protect the environment in which they live by prohibiting the establishment of certain nuclear waste storage facilities in this State”

Since April 2016 the NRWMF project has exclusively targeted community and environment in SA in an attempt to again impose an illegal Store for ANSTO’s irradiated Nuclear Fuel Waste in our State. 2

The Minister’s release “Kimba 90-day consultation begins”(20 March 2017) invited submissions on potential approval under the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 of two nominated sites near Kimba for assessment as potential sites for the proposed NRWM Facility.

This is in-parallel with the Federal government targeting the iconic Flinders Ranges on the country of the Adnyamathanha people in a serious threat to their human rights and cultural interests.

These are fundamentally State level public interest issues and represent a multi-generational threat to community in SA: including intended Federal requisition of an as yet unnamed SA port for imposition of decades of irradiated Nuclear Fuel Wastes imports, along with affected stakeholders on transport routes, in addition to the rights & interests of community around a potential Store site.

The Federal government has unacceptably failed to take up the recent Advice of the ARPANSA Nuclear Safety Committee (4 Nov 2016) for transparency and for the essential “ongoing requirement to clearly and effectively engage all stakeholders, including those along transport routes”.

This Store also exposes SA to unresolved security and potential terrorist risks in shipping, transport and indefinite above ground storage of irradiated Nuclear Fuel Wastes and other reactor wastes.

However, Lucas Heights is Australia’s best placed institution and facility to responsibly manage ANSTO’s Nuclear Fuel Wastes and can do so through-out the operating period of the Opal reactor.

An “Interim Waste Store” built at Lucas Heights in 2015 has a design life of 40 years and an approved purpose to take both the Nuclear Fuel Waste from France (NFW received Dec. 2015) and NFW to be received from the UK in circa 2020. The ARPANSA license for this Store “is not time limited” and has Contingency options to retain these NFW’s at ANSTO “until the availability of a final disposal option”.

The policy agenda to impose a NFW Store in SA is a flawed, unnecessary, contested and unsafe plan.

A broad public interest campaign protected SA rights and interests from prior Federal government attempts to impose nuclear waste facilities onto our State over 1998 to 2004 – and can do so again.

That “National Store Project” was abandoned – just as this NRWMF Store will have to be set aside.

Further, the Federal government’s flawed policy agenda for imposition of nuclear waste effectively precludes a long term resolution to Australia’s “low level” radioactive waste responsibilities.

The Minister has an obligation to learn the lessons from experience in failure of prior projects in Australia and internationally and not to deny or override key public interest community concerns.

My background includes experience as an Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Campaigner over 1996 to 2011 based in Adelaide.

The continued move by the nuclear lobby to have South Australia as a radioactive trash dump

May 13, 2017

By Annie McGovern. 23rd April 2017  (this is an extract from the Adelaide Forum held very recently, to discuss this question) “….ENDNOTE  These observations have been gleaned from a fairly
random search for relevant information which was also confined by the time available to process and present these findings. These are offered at this time as an additional body of information that may help fill some of the gaps in the thrust to force further nuclear energy production and waste disposal on the people of S. A.

Amongst the many recommendations of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission there were 3 major points which raise concerns regarding the possible imminent changes to Legislation in S.A. The Royal Commission has urged the State Government to fast-track these Legislative changes, even though there are no current viable plans for any nuclear industry developments in S.A. at this time.

  1. Modification of the State Waste Dump Prohibition Laws. This Legislation was almost immediately amended following presentation of the Royal Commission’s findings, to allow Government spending on proposals for the Waste Dumps. The further question of approval of nuclear waste dumps in S.A. was put to the Labour State Conference and became a stalemate to which no decision could be made. Progress of changes to Legislation on this proposal was interrupted.
  1. Legislation that would allow contracts of Uranium sales to be tied to obligations on S.A. taking back the resultant waste. The Royal Commission sees this possibility as an enhancement to capture sales of Uranium, despite there being no approval for waste disposal in S. A. at this time, and, the fact that no such facility would be capable of fulfilling the contract until well into the future. The Royal Commission appears to be determined to place the people of S.A. into an intractable situation where industry is forcing obligation through contractual arrangements. However, a caveat might be placed on such contracts that are not plausible…an explicit caveat and the risk is borne by the signing parties. A letter of advice is provided to the signatory and the Annual AGM of companies involved informed of this unethical business practice.
  2. Legislative changes to allow Nuclear Power production. Despite there being no overt plans for these developments within the foreseeable future, the Royal Commission is encouraging making changes now for future development. The absence of a ready nuclear waste disposal dump has historically been a constraint on Australia and the world in the development of greater Nuclear ambitions. Reports of illegal dumping and covert placement of radioactive waste abound both here and across the world. Reports of French waste being held at Lucas Heights and American wasteat Pine Gap are recent additions to these claims.Despite peoples’ efforts over many generations to call for and act on Peaceful Principles in our World, Environmental Sustainability and Productivity based on Need rather than Greed, capitalism and its theory of perpetual growth continues to drive forward in an overtly destructive manner.The continued focus on South Australia to perpetuate the nuclear travesty on our planet is acknowledged through this Forum and collectively we stand against this invasion. We walk with the Protectors of Country with Respect for Life.

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

February 4, 2017

heardben

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————————————————–

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

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

EXPOSING THE LATEST MISINFORMATION FROM THE NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP LOBBY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Australian Liberals criticised unfairly by Ben Heard

February 4, 2017

logo-bright-new-world

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

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

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

January 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

December 19, 2016

electricity-interconnector

Dennis Matthews, 18 Dec 16 , 1 DECEMBER 2016. 

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

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

1. Overview

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

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

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

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

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

2. Pre-event Conditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Event

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

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

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

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

5 Operation of SA when Islanded

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

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

December 19, 2016

electricity-interconnector

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

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

Introduction

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

AEMO Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Pre-event

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

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

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

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

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

3 Events Resulting in Black System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Preliminary Recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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