Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Australian government very secretive about dumping stranded nuclear waste on a small outback area

January 18, 2018

How a planned nuclear waste dump in the tiny SA town of Kimba impacts us all, Independent Australia,  Should a remote farming community in South Australia be charged with the momentous decision of storing radioactive waste? Noel Wauchope reports.

THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT’S drive for a national radioactive trash dump continues.

It is being depicted by the Federal Government and the media as not a national matter. Indeed, it’s now not even a State matter concerning South Australia. It is now portrayed as just a local matter for small rural areas such as Kimba — population 1,100.

However, an opinion poll in Adelaide Now showed strong rejection of the plan for a nuclear waste dump at Kimba.

Kimba is an agricultural area, most noted for bushfires (Kimba means “bushfire”), wheat farming and a giant statue of a galah.

At the moment, Kimba is well in the running to host the national radioactive trash dump. In 2017, a Kimba town vote favouring this was 396 to 294 in favour. Not an overwhelming endorsement from this small community, but enough to keep enthusiasm for the project going, seeing as the matter is apparently of little concern to the rest of the State or the nation.

How come that Kimba is such a likely place for the dump?

Australia’s nuclear lobby has for decades been pursuing its plan for importing nuclear waste. In more recent years, this nuclear push has also turned its focus towards a dump for Australia’s own nuclear waste. The Australian Government, directed by its statutory body Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), joined in this because ANSTO is obligated by contract to deal with the high-level waste returning to Australia from processing in France and the UK. This waste is currently stored in containers at Lucas Heights in Sydney……….

in 2018, ANSTO and the ever-persistent nuclear lobby are going for what appears to be a moderate aim — the same old “low level” nuclear waste dump that Howard sought in 1998. The National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 stressed the idea that the selection of a site should be “consent-driven” — though, in fact, it gives the Federal Government extraordinary powers to override state/territory governments, councils, communities, traditional owners and, indeed, anyone else.

With the emphasis on landowners volunteering sites – and with financial inducements offered – rural South Australians were encouraged to come forward.

The Turnbull Government claimed it had:

‘ … widespread support from direct neighbours of the nominated properties.’

Farmer Jeff Baldock nominated his property – and will be paid four times its value – if his offer is successful. Wallerberdina Station, near Hawker, has volunteered. Both communities can expect $2 million in government grants plus a $10 million fund for community development for the chosen site.

No wonder that there’s enthusiasm for the project in this somewhat economically stressed area. However, strong opposition to the dump continues from traditional owners the Adnyamathanhapeople and from 204 paid-up members of the Kimba local group, No Radioactive Waste Facility for Kimba District.

The process has been fraught with problems, starting with the problem of overriding South Australia’s law against setting up nuclear waste facilities.

Because the discussion has been confined to communities in the region, there is little input from experts other than those provided by ANSTO. Farming community members have been transported to Lucas Heights at ANSTO’s expense and given reassuring technical information on nuclear waste storage in canisters. ANSTO medical and nuclear experts have been running science lessons in schools and offering hopes of scholarships to ANSTO.

A very problematic area, indeed, is the fraudulent story about storage of “low-level medical wastes” being the purpose of the facility. The practice of nuclear medicine has in no way been adversely affected by the absence of a national repository and it won’t in any way benefit from the establishment of a repository thousands of kilometres away from Lucas Heights. The real need is to store the processed spent fuel rod waste returning to Lucas Heights from France and the UK. This is classified by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) as “high level” waste.

An equally problematic area is in the temporary nature of the planned waste storage. This long-lasting radioactive trash will require burial for its thousands of years of toxicity. Kimba – or whichever area ends up with this facility – is facing the risk of “stranded” nuclear waste.

An Adelaide Now article (no longer available online) quoted a local teacher, Meagan Lienert, assuring us that she has done the research and that the waste facility would not affect the local farming environment. This illustrates a major problem with the way that this issue is being pitched to the locals.

As food produce marketing expert Kristen Jelk discussed in community discussions last year on the South Australian Government site, ‘Your Say’ the perception of clean, green South Australia is all-important. The presence of a nearby nuclear waste dump would ruin that market.

Similarly, Kimba farmer Justine Major wrote to the Eyre Peninsula Tribune, concerned about the image of the local agricultural produce if the radioactive dump should go ahead.

While some in Kimba, including its Mayor, are keen for further investigation of the project as a promising boost for the local economy, are they aware of the irony in that Kimba was, in 2017 State winner of KESAB’s Sustainable Communities top town? This award honours the community that does the most to protect the environment and embrace sustainability.

They hope to go on to win the Australian title.

The Federal Government has set up consultative committees at the local level to advise on the radioactive waste facility proposal. Perhaps it is time for the rest of Australia to have a say. https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/how-a-planned-nuclear-waste-dump-in-the-tiny-sa-town-of-kimba-impacts-us-all,11102

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South Australian opinion polls consistently show rejection of nuclear waste dumping

January 14, 2018

Australia’s old nuclear shill Ziggy Switkowsi is back – trashing Big Nukes, promoting SMRs

January 12, 2018

Australia has ‘missed the boat’ on nuclear power, SMH, Cole Latimer, 11 Jan 18, The Minerals Council of Australia has called for the country’s prohibition on nuclear power to be lifted. But both critics and supporters see little future for large-scale nuclear power in Australia’s energy mix.

The man who once famously called for 50 nuclear reactors across Australia, nuclear physicist and NBN chairman Ziggy Switkowski, says “the window for gigawatt-scale nuclear has closed”.

A lack of public support and any actual proposals for a nuclear plant had resulted in government inertia, he said on Thursday.

“Government won’t move until a real business case is presented and none has been, to my knowledge, and there aren’t votes in trying to lead the debate,” he said, adding that renewables were now a more economically viable choice. “With requirements for baseload capacity reducing, adding nuclear capacity one gigawatt at a time is hard to justify, especially as costs are now very high (in the range of $5 billion to $10 billion), development timelines are 15+ years, and solar with battery storage are winning the race.”

Warwick Grigor, the former chairman of Uranium King, mining analyst, and a director of uranium miner Peninsula Energy, agrees.

“I think nuclear energy is great, but we’ve missed the boat in Australia, no one is going down that path in the foreseeable future,” Mr Grigor told Fairfax Media.“When Fukushima [the 2011 nuclear accident in Japan] occurred, that was the closing of the door to our nuclear power possibilities.”

Mr Grigor sees battery technology, a market he has since entered, as a better alternative.

Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney said talk of nuclear power was “a dangerous distraction” from the steps that needed to address the energy and climate challenges facing Australia.

Nuclear energy has been officially banned in Australia since 1998, with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s OPAL reactor at Lucas Heights, NSW, the only nuclear reactor in the country.

But the Minerals Council’s executive director for uranium, Daniel Zavattiero, said the nation had excluded a low-emissions energy source of which Australia has an abundant supply from the current debate.

“Maybe nuclear power might be something that is not needed, but an outright prohibition on it is not needed,” he said.

Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg supported the Mineral Council’s stance. “There needs to be bipartisan support for nuclear power and that does not exist right now,” Mr Frydenberg said. “You would also need state-based support and that is not clear at this stage either.”…..

Mr Switkowski said smaller, modular nuclear reactors could play a part in the future energy mix, and could support regional centres.

An ANSTO spokesman told Fairfax Media these smaller plants could technically work in Australia.“If Australia did want to expand into nuclear energy technologies, there would be a number of options to consider in the future, including small modular reactors and Generation IV reactors, which could be feasible if the policy, economic settings and technology were right and public support was in place,” he said.

However, the country currently did not have enough skilled personnel to safely operate a nuclear energy industry, he said.

“The question of whether nuclear energy is technically or economically feasible is a different question to whether Australia should or should not have a nuclear energy program, the latter of which is a matter for policy makers and the people of Australia,” the spokesman said…….. http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/australia-has-missed-the-boat-on-nuclear-power-20180111-p4yyeg.html

Dave Sweeney on the achievements of Australia’s nuclear-free movement in 2017

December 30, 2017

DAVE SWEENEY | Nuclear Free Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation | www.acf.org.au  | @AusConservation

A note to reflect on 2017 which has seen the Australian nuclear free community restrict uranium exports, derail plans for a global high level radioactive waste dump and help advance an international initiative to abolish nuclear weapons and receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Not too shabby!

The end of the calendar year provides a pause to welcome the entrance of new life and to mark and mourn the passing of old.

It is also a time to reflect on our collective efforts and achievements – the below observations are by no means comprehensive but my sense of gratitude, solidarity and respect is.

With all best wish for a refreshing and recharging break.

I look forward to seeing and working with you in season 18,

Uranium:

 A big year of activity that has seen the industry further contested and constrained.

In March the WA state election saw the defeat of the aggressively pro-nuclear Barnett government. WA Labor were elected with a strong no uranium policy but have disappointingly failed to clearly implement this and are allowing four projects to continue to be advanced. All projects remain the focus of community concern and active opposition. The WA Conservation Council and Traditional Owners have taken Supreme Court action to oppose the approval of Cameco’s Yeelirrie project with a decision expected in the first quarter of 2018 and pressure is growing on Vimy Resources, the most enthusiastic uranium hopeful. There are no commercial uranium operations in the West and any wannabe miners face a very tough road.

In November Queensland Labor were returned to government with a strong anti-uranium position and the door remains tightly shut on the uranium sector in the sunshine state.

In the NT further assessment is under way about rehabilitation and clean up options for the contaminated Rum Jungle site and issues around the closure and rehabilitation of the heavily impacted Ranger mine site on Mirarr land in Kakadu moved to centre stage. The era of uranium mining in Kakadu is over: Jabiluka is stopped and stalled, Koongarra is finally and formally part of Kakadu National Park and Ranger has stopped mining and is in the final days of mineral processing. The challenge now is a massive one – to help ensure that the NT and federal governments and Rio Tinto have the commitment, competence and capacity to clean up, exit and transition in the most credible and effective way.

South Australia remains the nations sole uranium mining state but even the pro-nuclear Royal Commission found that there was no justification for increased mining. The global uranium market remains over-supplied and the commodity price remains deeply depressed. Our planets energy future is renewable, not radioactive and Australia is ripping and shipping less uranium oxide each year. In contrast to the continuing column inches and Mineral Council of Australia drumbeats – the market and the community both continue to have little confidence in, or time for, the uranium sector.

International radioactive waste:

 One of the best news stories of 2018 was the declaration in June that the plan to ship, store and ultimately bury one-third of the world’s high level radioactive waste into South Australia was dead’.

This result is a massive tribute to the sustained efforts, action and advocacy of so many – especially SA Aboriginal communities and representatives who spearheaded the community resistance. The result is also a real validation of the potency of people power over poisoned power. There was deep and well-resourced political, corporate, media and institutional support for the dump plan and this was stopped by the little people stepping up and doing big things. This result has significant international implications as the absence of an Australian based ‘disposal pathway’ makes it harder for aging reactors overseas to gain license extensions.

This is the second time in as many decades that the Australian community has successfully opposed plans to open a global high level radioactive waste dump with Pangea Resources seeking to advance a plan in WA in the late 1990’s. Some of the same players then were also behind the recent SA push and, like liberty, the price of keeping Australia free from being a global dumping ground is eternal vigilance.

National radioactive waste:

The federal government continues to lurch along an increasingly dry gully in its search to find a site to develop a national radioactive waste dump and store. Three sites in South Australia – one in the Flinders Ranges and two near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula – remain the focus. All sites are strongly contested by large numbers of locals and in the Flinders Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners are continuing to lead the campaign. There has been lots of activity with publications, films, songs, exhibitions, rallies, actions, speaking tours, gatherings, public meetings, media events, Canberra trips and much more.

The government faces a set of sustained and significant procedural and community roadblocks in advancing this plan. It has had its eyes off the ball and been playing musical chairs over Ministerial responsibility – the song has now stopped with Matt Canavan in the hot seat. A growing range of groups are advocating a revised approach to responsible waste management based on extended interim storage at the two federal sites where 95% of the waste is currently stored and a detailed examination of the full range of future management options, not simply a search for a remote postcode. Hardly rocket science and set to be an area of key movement focus in 2018.

Nuclear weapons abolition:

Viva ICAN!

Against a backdrop of increasing global nuclear tensions an Australian born initiative has provided hope and a pathway to peace. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was formed in Melbourne a decade ago and ICAN was behind the UN’s adoption of a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons earlier this year. The treaty seeks to make nuclear weapons illegal and to challenge and change the ways these weapons are viewed and valued. It is our shared planets best chance to get rid of our worst weapons. In October ICAN was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its efforts. Surreal, timely and important. In 2018 work will continue to grow the treaty, including pressuring Australia to sign and ratify.

Along with ICAN’s Nobel there was other external recognition and acknowledgement of the efforts of Australian nuclear free work in 2017 including WA’s Judy Blyth’s commendation in ACF’s Rawlinson Award, respected and beloved Yankunytjatajara elder and prominent anti-nuclear and land rights campaigner Yami Lester was posthumously awarded a SA Environment Award lifetime achievement and the makers of the remarkable Collisions virtual reality film telling a key part of the Martu story won an Emmy Award. And more….congratulations to all.

Of course most of our work is not seeking and does not receive awards. It is done to move Australia away from fuelling and facilitating a trade that disrespects and endangers community and country today and far into the future. It is profound and pivotal – and it is making a real and demonstrable difference and I am proud to work and travel alongside you in this continuing journey.

 

Now illegal for South Australian govt to spend money to promote nuclear waste importing

November 29, 2017

29 Nov 17, Today the Lower House of the SA Parliament passed my Greens Private Members Bill to remove the clause in the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 that allowed the Government to spend public money on spruiking the benefits of an international high-level nuclear waste dump in SA.

That means that this will now become South Australian law as it has passed both Houses of the SA Parliament.

The Government will no longer be able to spend public money on pursuing an international nuclear waste dump.

With the focus now on fighting the Turnbull Federal Government’s plans for an intermediate-level nuclear waste dump in Kimba or the Flinders Ranges, it’s important to show your opposition to these plans. Come along to the “Don’t Dump on SA Rally” at 11am this Saturday, 2 December 2017 on the steps of Parliament House.

I will be speaking at the rally, outlining the Greens position on this important issue.

The Greens stand with the people of South Australia who choose a nuclear-free future for our State.

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) signs up to develop nuclear reactors

September 25, 2017

Noel Wauchope, 20 Sept 17, Now, many weeks after Australia signing up to the Framework Agreement For Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems, the public is informed of this. I found it at the bottom of page 23  of the print version of The Age today.  Why haven’t we heard about this before?

 How is it that Dr Adi Paterson of ANSTO signed up to this, in advance of Parliamentary approval, and that the whole thing can be done without any proper public consultation? Australian tax-payers are now to be supporting the development of these new dreams of nuclear power –  advanced nuclear reactors that exist now only as blueprints, and will be expensive, require government funding, and will not be commercially operational for many decades, if ever.
Surely it is time for a thorough inquiry into ANSTO’s funding and finances. The New Generation nuclear reactors are controversial, to say the least. They are in fact, part of the global nuclear lobby’s push to save itself –  its future being threatened by its dire economics, and by its connection to the nuclear weapons industry.
The Australian media is regularly used to promote ANSTO’s nuclear reactor as having as its purpose “medical research”  and “medical isotopes saving lives” – despite the fact that non nuclear production of these isotopes can be, and is, being done.  The reality is that ANSTO is part of the global nuclear industry lobby, and its reactor produces long-lasting radioactive wastes and it should be shut down.

I couldn’t find it on The Age online.  The print version, 19 Sept 17 – small article at the bottom of page 23:

Australia joins nuclear research club,  by Cole Latimer
Australia has officially joined an international group focused on developing future nuclear energy systems, The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation has been welcomed into the Generation IV International Forum Framework, which aims to develop next generation nuclear power systems, and which ANSTO calls “a potential game-changer in global energy creation”.
Although Australia joined the GIF charter last year, the event marked the  country’s official accession to the nuclear framework agreement, which is focused on six different nuclear reactor designs that provide poeer and “stringent standards in relation to safety and non proliferation”.
However, ANSTO stated that this was not about  advancing the cause of nuclear energy in Australia’s current energy mix: instead it was about utilisingAustralian skills in research and development.
“Australia has no nuclear power program, but we do have significant local expertise in next generation research, which is what this partnership is about”  ANSTO chief executive officer Adi Paterson said.
ANSTO will leverage our world class capabilities, particularly in relation to the development of advanced materials and with applications in extreme industrial environments, and of nuclear safety cases.
“This agreement will enable Australia to contribute to an international group focused on peaceful use of nuclear technology, and the international energy systems of the future”
An ANSTO spokesman said Australia was a world leader in terms of nculear safety, “due to the high levels of oversight and paperwork required” to operate.
GIF is a co-operative of 14 nations led by France, a country where nuclear power accounts for  nearly 75% of energy generation. This reliance on nuclear energy has helped the nation slash its carbon emissions.

Malcolm Turnbull’s betrayal of our oceans

September 25, 2017

How Malcolm Turnbull has trashed the Liberal Party record and betrayed our oceans, SMH, Tim Winton , 17 Sept 17 “……

Australians have always loved the ocean, but now, more importantly, we understand how vital the sea’s health is to the future of our island home…….

In 2012, after an exhaustive scientific process and wide community consultation, Tony Burke declared a system of marine national parks, one of the biggest and best in the world, the most significant conservation gain in Australian history.

That took courage. Because it put science before politics, prudence ahead of expediency. And it was popular. But as soon as he came to power in 2013 Tony Abbott announced an immediate moratorium on these parks and instigated a review. The purpose was purely political. To delay implementation, corrode consensus and deny the science. A move straight out of the culture warrior’s playbook.

After decades of forward-thinking leaders, the nation had fallen into the hands of a man whose loyalties were only to the past. It was a low moment. But Abbott’s reign was as brief as it was fruitless. It was a relief to see him replaced in 2015 by a man who’d actually done things, who believed in the future. Malcolm Turnbull did not scorn science. He seemed to understand the value and fragility of our natural estate. So there was new hope the marine parks review would now be expedited and redirected towards real conservation outcomes. With coral reefs bleaching and miners pressing for even more coal ports and seabed to drill, the need for protection had only grown more urgent.

Well, that moment of promise is long gone. Turnbull’s period in office has basically been a hostage drama. The bargain he made with powerbrokers rendered him captive to the party’s most illiberal wing, and if his performance on climate, energy and marriage equality aren’t evidence enough, last month’s announcement that marine parks would be slashed beyond all recognition puts it beyond dispute.

……The draft management plans recently released for consultation by Josh Frydenberg don’t just signify the gutting of the national system, they represent the largest removal of protection for Australian wildlife in our history. What the government is proposing is a nihilistic act of vandalism. Forty  million hectares of sanctuary will be ripped from the estate. That’s like revoking every second national park on land. Under its new plan, 38 out of 44 marine parks will be open to trawling, gillnetting and longlining, 33 will be open to mining, and 42 exposed to the construction of pipelines. In total defiance of the scientific advice upon which the original system was designed, 16 marine parks will now have no sanctuary zones at all.

…….. The shame of it is, the Liberal Party has a worthy environmental record, especially with oceans. Malcolm Fraser declared the Great Barrier Reef a marine park in 1975 and in 1978 he ended whaling. And remember, the national push for marine parks began under John Howard. So this government is trashing its own party’s proud legacy……..http://www.smh.com.au/comment/how-malcolm-turnbull-has-trashed-the-liberal-party-record-and-betrayed-our-oceans-20170908-gydy2d.html

Only the Australian Greens have the courage to reject ANSTO’s push for new nuclear reactors

June 25, 2017
Dissenting Report – Australian Greens, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young Australian Greens Senator, 
While not always supporting the outcomes, the Australian Greens have acknowledged previous JSCOT inquiries on nuclear issues for their diligence and prudence. We are disappointed on this occasion to submit a dissenting report into the Generation IV Nuclear Energy Accession. The inquiry process into the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems has been unduly rushed and lacked adequate public hearings or detailed analysis and reflection of public submissions. This is particularly disturbing given that this inquiry relates to public spending for an undefined period of time towards a technology that is prohibited in Australia.
The Australian Greens’ dissent to Report 171 (Section 4: Generation IV Nuclear Energy Accession) is based on a range of grounds, including:
The lack of transparency regarding the costs to the Australian taxpayer over an undefined period of time;
The technology that this agreement relates to is prohibited under Australian law and its promotion is inconsistent with the public and national interest;
The lack of consideration of the global energy trends away from nuclear technology;
The lack of procedural fairness in refusing adequate public hearings and consideration of public submissions;
An unjustified reliance on the submissions from the highly partisan Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). The Australian Greens note that ANSTO is not a disinterested party in this policy arena. Furthermore, ANSTO has made a number of unfounded assertions, particularly regarding the Agreement’s impact on Australia’s standing on nuclear non-proliferation.

Unchecked capacity and resourcing

The timeframe for the agreement is loosely stated as being between 10 and 40 years. Over this period there is a commitment for Australia to pledge resources and capacity at the expense of Australian taxpayers. In exchange for this undefined public expense for an undefined period of time, there is no clear public benefit – given that the technology is, properly and popularly, prohibited in this country.
Point 4.20 states that the Framework is in essence about spreading the significant costs associated with the development of Generation IV reactors. In public submissions made to JSCOT there are detailed cost estimates for individual projects that are all in the range of billions of dollars. There have been numerous delays, cost constraints and problems with the various types of reactors described as Generation IV. While some countries continue to pursue this technology, there is no clear end-game in sight and many nations are stepping away from this sector. Most Generation IV reactors only exist on paper while some others are modified plans of expensive failed projects but are still just conceptual.
It is understandable that countries who are invested in Generation IV would seek to transfer costs and inflate the potential benefits. It is unreasonable, however, for a Government agency to commit Australian resources to fund and develop this technology which is decades away from being anything more than a concept.
ANSTO submits in the National Interest Analysis that the “costs of participation in the Systems Arrangements will be borne by ANSTO from existing funds”. The Australian Greens note that in the last financial year ANSTO reported a loss of $200 million (including $156 million in subsidies). The commitment of funds and resourcing from an agency that operates with an existing deficit that is already funded by the Australian people is fiscally irresponsible and has not been investigated through the JSCOT process.
The Australian Greens maintain that there is a particular need for the rationale of any contested public expenditure to be rigorously tested. Sadly, this Committee has failed in this role.
Point 4.24 of the report states that “Australia was required to demonstrate that it could contribute to the research and development goals of the GIF” yet the inquiry process failed to establish exactly what form those contributions will take and the cost of those contributions to the Australian people.

Prohibited Technology

Point 4.39 on the question of nuclear power in Australia brushes aside the fundamental issue that the future of nuclear energy in Australia is entirely dependent on changing Commonwealth laws.
Report 171 section 4 fails to acknowledge that the technology in question is prohibited under two separate pieces of Commonwealth legislation:
Section 37J of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;
Section 10 of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998.
These Acts reflect considered positions, public opinion and the environmental and economic risk associated with nuclear technology which has repeatedly proved to be dangerous and expensive. The position reflected in these laws has been repeatedly reiterated in subsequent Government reports into the technology and prospects for development in Australia. For example:
The Switkowski Report – Uranium Mining, Processing, and Nuclear Energy – opportunities for Australia? (2006)
The Australian Power Generation Technology Report – Summary (Nov 2015)
Department of Energy and Science Energy White Paper (2015)
Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (South Australia) (May 2016)
These reports all arrive at the same conclusion: that there is no case to develop nuclear power in Australia, albeit for different reasons. These reasons include costs, time constraints, legal constraints, public opposition, restrictions on availability of water and other environmental factors.

Lack of Procedural Fairness and over reliance on evidence from ANSTO

ANSTO has pursued this agreement, signed the agreement, will be responsible for enacting the agreement, drove the National Interest Analysis and were the only agency invited to present at a hearing. This agency is publicly funded, has run at a deficit, and is seeking to further commit Australian resources to a technology that is not only unpopular but is prohibited under Australian legislation.
There is a wide range of experts and public interest groups who have lodged detailed submissions and requested an audience with the Committee to offer some scrutiny and balance to the highly selective view of Generation IV options presented by ANSTO.
These submissions are barely mentioned in Report 171 and additional public hearings were denied. This level secrecy and denial of procedural fairness is of grave concern and, while out of character for JSCOT, is very much in line with the secrecy synonymous with ANSTO and the wider nuclear industry.

Australia’s accessibility to nuclear technology and standing on nuclear non-proliferation

ANSTO claim in the NIA that a failure to accede “would impede Australia’s ability to remain constructively engaged in international nuclear activities and would limit our ability to forge links with international experts at a time when a significant expansion in nuclear power production is underway……. It would diminish Australia’s standing in international nuclear non-proliferation and our ability to influence international nuclear policy developments in accordance with our national economic and security interests.”
The Australian Greens understand that Australia currently pays $10 million per annum to the International Atomic Energy Agency which grants us access to the safety and regulatory fora and to publicly published research. Where there is a commercial interest in the technology this would no doubt be made available to Australia at a price – but a price not borne by the taxpayer in this crude subsidy by stealth proposed in report 171 (Section 4).
Claims that our failure to accede would somehow diminish our standing on nuclear non-proliferation are absurd. While the industry might promote Generation IV as addressing issues of nuclear non-proliferation there is little concrete evidence that it can or ever would be done. It was the same promise industry proponents made about Generation III reactors and failed to deliver.
Australia’s standing on nuclear non-proliferation is currently being diminished because this Government is actively boycotting the current UN process supported by 132 nations on negotiating a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, not because our country has not been funding research into nuclear power.
The Australian Greens fundamentally dissent from this Committee’s findings and believe that no compelling or credible case has been made to proceed with the treaty action. Rushed, limited and opaque decision making processes are a poor basis for public funding allocations in a contested policy arena.

Australian Labor politicians criticise Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems, but support GIF anyway

June 25, 2017

MPs  Michael Danby, Josh Wilson ,  Susan Templeman  and Senator Jenny McAllister support the recommendation that binding treaty action be taken to enable further collaboration in relation to international research and development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems.

At the same time, they note Labor’s policy :

       Labor will [inter alia]:
 
       Prohibit the establishment of nuclear power plants and all other stages of the nuclear fuel cycle in        Australia.
On that basis, they :
make it clear we strenuously disagree with the argument put by Mr Barry Murphy  that the Framework Agreement will provide an opportunity for Australia to develop a nuclear energy program. It does no such thing, nor should it
The labor politicians  are:
grateful for the joint submission from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and Friends of the Earth Australia (FOE), and the submission from the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, both of which provide a detailed and cautionary context for the consideration and pursuit of ‘next generation’ or ‘Generation IV’ reactors…more http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Treaties/CITES/Report_171/section?id=committees%2freportjnt%2f024073%2f24870

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…)