Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Australian government confused about nuclear waste- as extracts from Hansard show

January 21, 2017
 Australian environmental watchdog activists are studying  the tired old arguments rehashed in Parliament   since the 1950s. Here’s  a sample of their findings on nuclear waste .
Steve Dale  Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia From 2006 – “We need to know what sort of fuel we are talking about, and it is important that we understand this. It is not physically Australian waste material that will be returned.
If you listen to the government, you would say we are getting a neat package of fuel sent back to us after it has been reprocessed. This is simply not the case. What we will get back will be a proportion of the by-product of spent fuel from every country that sends its waste to France for reprocessing, divided between the contributing countries.
Each country of origin of the waste will receive a proportion of different elements from the reprocessing of the fuel. The main elements are vitrified fission product—high-level waste compacted residues, the hulls and end pieces from the metallic casings—and also high-level waste uranium and plutonium.” Mr Snowden, 19 October 2006. Found with search terms “nuclear vitrified high”
  In various places it was mention that radioactive waste would be “safe” after 300 years. Members were obviously being told that by their advisors. The intense Gamma from Cesium-137 would be gone after 300 years, but the Plutonium etc. will be there for hundreds of thousands of years – I really got the impression that the members of Parliament were not being told the complete truth by their advisors/lobbyists.
Is vitrified waste from La Hague High Level? Back in 1997 the government thought so – “(2) The high-level radioactive waste being carried by the Pacific Teal is in a vitrified form,…… ” – Senator Hill 24 March 1997 and “(3) The waste being carried by the Pacific Teal is high-level radioactive waste (HLW), consisting of mixed fission products resulting from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. The waste is in a vitrified form ….” Senator Hill 4 March 1997.

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)’s inadequate draft “Information for Stakeholders” on nuclear waste.

December 13, 2016

Effectively this is the same draconian situation that existed under the earlier Commonwealth Noonan, David

Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 introduced by the Howard government to override State and Territory interests to protect community health, safety and welfare from the risks and impacts of nuclear wastes and to nullify Federal laws that protect against imposition of nuclear wastes.

highly-recommendedPublic submission to the draft ARPANSA Information for Stakeholders & associated Regulatory Guide to Licensing a Radioactive Waste Storage or Disposal Facility


Revised ARPANSA “Information for Stakeholders” should address the following:

The nuclear fuel waste Store in the Flinders Ranges is intended to operate for approx. 100 years.

The ARPANSA “Information for Stakeholders” fails to be transparent and is not fit for purpose.

ARPANSA must inform the public on the proposed licence period for this nuclear fuel waste Store.

ARPANSA should also publicly acknowledge the Contingency that the proposed nuclear fuel waste Store may be at a different site to the proposed near surface Repository in the Flinders Ranges.

The proposed above ground Store in our iconic Flinders Ranges is unnecessary as the ANSTO’s existing Interim Waste Store (IWS) at the Lucas Heights Technology Centre can manage reprocessed nuclear fuel waste on contract from France and from the United Kingdom over the long term.

The ANSTO application for the Interim Waste Store was conservatively predicated on a 40 year operating life for the IWS, and ANSTO has a contingency to “extend it for a defined period of time”.

ANSTO also has a contingency option for the “Retention of the returned residues at ANSTO until the availability of a final disposal option” – which does not involve a Store in the Flinders Ranges.

The Lucas Heights Technology Centre is by far the best placed Institution and facility to responsibly manage Australia’s existing nuclear fuel waste and proposed waste accruals from the Opal reactor.

The Interim Waste Store (IWS) at the Lucas Heights Technology Centre can conservatively function throughout the proposed operating period of the Opal reactor without a requirement for an alternative above ground nuclear fuel waste Store at a NRWMF in the Flinders Ranges or elsewhere.

It is an inexplicably omission or an unacceptably act of denial for ARPANSA to fail to even identity or to properly explain Australia’s existing nuclear fuel wastes and proposed further decades of Opal reactor nuclear fuel waste production in the “Information for Stakeholders”.

Australia’s nuclear fuel wastes are by far the highest activity and most concentrated and hazardous nuclear wastes under Australian management, and must be distinguished from other waste forms. (more…)

Nuclear lobbyist Ben Heard gathers Big Nob support for nuclear waste importing to South Australia

December 12, 2016


12 Dec 16 Australian nuclear lobbyists have had remarkable success in making themselves famous internationally, which is probably their main aim. . Barry Brook set this off, with a thin veil of environmentalism covering his dedication to the nuclear industry, in Brave New Climate. He got a heap of well-meaning environmentalists to sign up to a pro nuclear letter.

Now Ben Heard has gone a step further, with HIS nuclear front group – Bright New World. He’s got 25 important people to sign up to a pro nuclear campaign for South Australia.  As with Brook’s disciples, some of these people seem quite altruistic and disconnected with the nuclear and mining industries.

Others do not:

Dr Ian Gould:   chairing South Australia Energy and Resources Investment Conference 23-24 May 2017  Adelaide, geologist with  40 years experience in the minerals industry in diverse and senior positions, mainly within the CRA/Rio Tinto Group, current Chancellor of the University of South Australia and was awarded an AM in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to mining.

David Klingberg is a South Australian businessman, civil engineer and former Chancellor of the University of South Australia. director of ASX listed companies E & A Ltd and Centrex Metals Ltd. Klingberg is chair of a technical sub-group working on the Australian Government‘s National Radioactive Waste Management Project. 

Dr Leanna Read is South Australia’s  Chief Scientist, Expert Advisory Committee of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in South Australia.] Read is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering,[which advocated for nuclear power in Australia in August 2014.. Read is also the Chair of the South Australian Science Council.

Stephen Young  director or Chairman on a number of companies including ,Electricity Trust of South Australia, Australian Submarine Corporation ,The University of Adelaide ,E&A ltd and its Subsidiaries.

Mr Jim McDowell Chancellor of the University of South Australia   Jim McDowell is currently Chair of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and non-Executive director of a number of private and listed companies. He advises the Federal Government in a number of areas of Defence and Defence Procurement. He is a member of the First Principles Review of the Department of Defence and is currently on the Expert Advisory Panel for the Future Submarine. Formerly CEO OF BAE Systems Australia, the nation’s largest defence contractor.

Michael John Terlet  Primary qualification in Electrical EngineeringNon Executive Chairman of Sandvik Mining and Construction Adelaide Ltd, a Director of Australian Submarine Corporation Pty. Ltd. Served as the Chief Executive Officer at AWA Defence Industries, Chairman of SA Centre for Manufacturing, Defence Manufacturing Council SA (MTIA)

Graham Douglas Walters AM, FCA Mr. Graham Douglas Walters, AM, FCA, serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Minelab Electronics Pty Ltd. Mr. Walters serves as Chairman and Director at Minelab International Pty Ltd.

Australia’s Turnbull Government releases transparent video on Climate Policy and Coal Mining

December 11, 2016

Honest Government Advert – Carmichael Coal Mine

Australia: nuclear law to avoid legal challenges quietly passed by Liberal and Lanor

November 30, 2016


Major parties push a losing uranium sector to India at great risk  Dave Sweeney , 29 Nov 16 

With little fuss or fanfare, Australia’s two major parties have this week agreed to fly under the radioactive radar and pass an innocuous enough sounding law with some very far reaching implications.

The Indian Civil Nuclear Transfers Act exists to provide “certainty to Australian uranium producers” who want to sell the controversial product to India.

In 2015 a detailed investigation by Parliament’s treaties committee found there were serious and unresolved nuclear safety, security and governance issues with the proposed sales plan. It also found a high level of legal uncertainty.

Expert witnesses including Australian National University Professor of International Law Don Rothwell and former senior DFAT officer John Carlson also highlighted that the plan was in conflict with both Australian domestic law and existing international treaty provisions, most notably the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty.

Given the severity of the inconsistencies and the significance of the issues involved, the government-controlled treaties committee took the unusual step of voting against the clear direction of the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister – and the political run of play – and recommended that the Indian sales deal not be advanced unless these outstanding issues were addressed.

This decision was welcomed by many. But not by Julie Bishop. A terse response to a measured and bipartisan report said the government was “satisfied” that steps had been taken to address each condition, and did not agree that exports to India should be deferred.

The commercial interests of an underperforming industrial sector were given priority above parliamentary process and evidence-based, prudent public policy.

But this favouritism was not enough to paper the deep cracks in this dangerous plan, and now the government has moved to rush through the new laws to close the door on legal challenge and scrutiny.

The declared intent of the new law is to protect uranium mining companies in Australia from domestic legal action that challenges the consistency of the safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency in India and Australia’s international non-proliferation obligations. It will also protect any future bilateral trade in other nuclear-related material or items for civil use.

A recent truncated review of the new law said the bill “provides the certainty required to give effect to the Australia-India Agreement”.

So Australian uranium miners, who supplied the product that directly fuelled Fukushima, are now to be legally covered from any challenge over a highly contested plan to sell to India.

This move highlights the extent and the risks of the federal government’s preoccupation with ending civil society access to legal recourse. Further, fast-tracking legal favours to provide industry certainty simply highlights how profoundly uncertain this industry is.

Following Fukushima, the global uranium market has crashed, as has the value of uranium stocks. Uranium operations are on hold; extended care and maintenance are well behind planning schedules, and prices, profits and employment numbers have gone south.

IBIS World’s March 2015 market report said only 987 people are employed in Australia’s uranium industry. Few jobs and dollars, considerable damage at home and escalating risk abroad.

The fragile economics of the uranium sector make it understandable that the industry is pushing for every potential market but fail to explain why our federal government is so intent on trying to pick winners with a sector that is clearly losing. Sadly, and unreasonably, the India uranium deal has become seen as a litmus test for bilateral relations.

Talk of a massive surge in exports is fanciful, and promoting Australian uranium as the answer to Indian energy poverty is more convenient than credible. Political proponents of the trade are driven less by substance than style – the symbolism of Australia and India on the same page and open for business.

In a telling reference, the recent review of the new law highlighted the importance of the “foreign policy backdrop to Australia’s nuclear trade with India”.

Sending political signals through trade is not unusual, but to do so by ignoring substantive warning signals is unwise. When those warnings and that trade relate to nuclear materials, it is deeply irresponsible.

Buttressing flawed trade deals with bolt-on legislative exemptions is poor policy and practice. This law may be civil by name, but it is desperately uncivil in nature.

All trades have trade-offs but this one risks far too much.

Dave Sweeney is a nuclear free campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation.

South Australian Premier Weatherill keeping on with nuclear waste agenda!

November 14, 2016


Nuclear dump in SA still on the cards as Premier calls for referendum, ABC News 14 Nov 16 The nuclear debate is not over yet in South Australia, with Premier Jay Weatherill saying he wants to hold a statewide referendum on the issue.

Mr Weatherill said the only path forward was through the restoration of bipartisanship “and a broad social consent secured through a statewide referendum”.

“Ultimately this is a matter for people to decide, not politicians,” he said.

“If broad social consent were to be achieved through a referendum, a local Aboriginal community would also be given a final right of veto on any future facility on their land…….

Mr Weatherill accused Opposition Leader Steven Marshall of withdrawing his support for a nuclear waste dump before the consultation process had been completed.

“The royal commission was clear bipartisanship is essential,” Mr Weatherill said…….

Nuclear Corporate Lobbyists descend on Adelaide

November 14, 2016


14 Nov 16 Members and supporters of the ANTI NUCLEAR COALITION are at the reception today for the 2 day Nuclear Fuel Cycle Symposium, organised by the strongly pro-nuclear organisation, Education and Opportunity in Waste Management at UCL (University College London) 220 Victoria Square, Adelaide’

ANTI NUCLEAR COALITION spokesperson Bob Lamb said, “No doubt this high-level corporate
symposium was planned to coincide with what was anticipated to be a successful Citizens’Jury outcome for Premier Weatherill and fRoyal Commissioner Kevin Scarce.” “Corporations such as those lined up for this event are accustomed to getting their way,” he said.

Included in the line-up for this event are two of the world’s largest builders of nuclear power plants: AREVA (France’s state owned nuclear industry utility) and Westinghouse (US). “Westinghouse designed and built the first nuclear submarine, which could be convenient given the push by numerous politicians and academics for Australia’s next fleet of submarines to be nuclear powered”, Bob Lamb said.

“Another noteworthy contributor is Sandia National Laboratories, which has been involved in developing the capability to conduct simulated nuclear weapons’ tests in contravention of the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, as well as upgrading nuclear weapons’ components.”

“Host for the conference, University College London (UCL) has provided, over many years, a
continuous stream of pro- nuclear spruikers in Adelaide. These academics have lobbied government and provided an expert advisor (Dr Tim Stone) to the Royal Commission. UCL is heavily sponsored by SANTOS, and BHP Billiton, of which Kevin Scarce is a shareholder.

“Until now a dump for imported high-level-waste has dominated the nuclear debate, but, in fact, the Royal Commission’s recommendations are about nothing less than the nuclearization of SA, beginning with federal and statelegislative changes to remove any limitation on the nuclear fuel cycle in SA.”concluded Bob Lamb.

Key Findings of South Australia’s Nuclear ‘Community Views Report’.

November 14, 2016


Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Consultation and Response Agency, November 2016, ‘Community Views Report’.

Jim Green, 13 Nov 16  Page 19: The report states: “Over thirty per cent (31%) of South Australians interviewed in the three rounds of telephone surveys supported the storage and disposal of nuclear waste from other countries in the state, while 53% opposed the proposal and 16% were unsure or didn’t know enough.”

Page 18: The report distinguishes ‘representative feedback’ (participation in telephone surveys and focus groups by random selection) from self-selected feedback (feedback forms, online survey, conversation kit). In the representative feedback (4016 people), 43% of people supported or strongly supported continuing to explore the nuclear waste dump proposal, while 37% were opposed or strongly opposed. In the self-selected feedback (4499 people), 64% of people opposed or strongly opposed continuation, more than double the 29% who supported or strongly supported continuation.

Adding the figures together (which the report does not do):

1727 + 1305= 3032 people support continuing to explore the proposal

1486 + 2879 = 4365 people oppose continuing to explore the proposal

Page 34: Within the structured channels of feedback forms and telephone and online surveys, 198 people who identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander provided feedback. In terms of support for continuing to explore the establishment of a nuclear storage facility for international waste in SA, 34% of Aboriginal people in the representative sample (total 56 people) were supportive and 50% were opposed, compared to 16% supportive and 73% opposed in the self-selected feedback (total 138 people).

Combining the figures (which the report does not do):

Support continuing to explore the proposal: 19 + 22 = 41 people

Oppose continuing to explore the proposal: 28 + 101 = 129 people

The report states (page 9): “Many [Aboriginal] participants expressed concern about the potential negative impacts on their culture and the long-term, generational consequences of increasing the state’s participation in the nuclear fuel cycle. 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.”

Page 22: How confident are you that nuclear waste can be transported and stored safely?

Confident or very confident 20%

Not confident or not at all confident 70%

In four places the report produces survey results regarding what the next steps should be. In all cases the most common response was that the nuclear waste dump proposal should be stopped. In three of the four cases, stopping the proposal was vastly more popular than the second most common response:

p.23: 28% stop the proposal vs next most common response 7%

p.26: 18% stop the proposal vs next most common response 17%

p.29: 25% stop the proposal vs next most common response 8%

p.31: 28% stop the proposal vs next most common response 8%

Page 24: Self-selected feedback channels showed that confidence that the government would consider community views in its decision was low at 20%, with 70% not confident.

Page 28: Asked about confidence in government’s ability to regulate any new nuclear industry activities in South Australia, 43% of the representative sample (total 4016 people) said they were not confident, compared with 38% who were confident. Of the self-selected feedback (total 3330 people), 74% were not confident and 18% were confident.
Combining the figures (which the report does not do):

Confident: 1526 + 599 = 2125

Not confident: 1726 + 2464 = 4190

Page 30: On the question of confidence that a nuclear waste disposal facility would bring significant economic benefits to SA, 66% of the people who submitted online

No more taxpayer money to be spent on nuclear waste dump plan – says Citizens Jury

November 13, 2016


South Australian ‘citizens’ jury’ rejects nuclear dump, Green Left  RENFREY CLARKEAdelaide, November 11, 2016   “………Lack of confidence Also striking is the complete lack of confidence voiced by the jurors in the ability or willingness of the state’s politicians to manage radioactive materials responsibly. “No evidence of regulatory bodies … to act independently and to be funded properly to adequately regulate an industry,” the report observes. As evidence, the report cites examples that include a radioactive tailings site at Port Pirie on which children were allowed to play for decades, and which was prone to flooding by high tides.

Dealt with brusquely is an issue that promises to be highly contentious in coming months. “There was agreement that … NO FURTHER PUBLIC MONEY should be spent by the South Australian taxpayer.”

Weatherill, however, shows signs of planning to do exactly that.

The jury’s verdict is not binding on the government. After months of implying that the jury’s recommendation would be viewed as definitive, the Premier has now switched to stressing the “fifty thousand” South Australians whose views his “roadshow” supposedly canvassed.

The dump process, Weatherill made clear in his address to the jury on receiving its report, is not yet dead.

“Mr Weatherill said the ‘very clear position’ of the jury would be combined with other government research about the state-wide views of the nuclear industry, as Cabinet considers whether to push ahead,” the Advertiserreported on November 7.

“All of those perspectives need to be weighed

up,” Weatherill said. “We don’t expect that this is a debate that will be concluded any time soon.” Weatherill is now due to present a formal position to parliament on the dump proposal, probably around the end of November. But if he tries to force the scheme through as he has suggested, the political costs for his government will be dire.

On the question of the dump, South Australians seem overwhelmingly to accept the verdict of their Citizens’ Jury peers. On November 7 an informal Channel 7 poll asked: “Should the state government now abandon its nuclear storage plans?” The response was: Yes 86%, No 14%.

Charged with legitimising the dump, the jury has very likely ended the scheme. But anti-dump activists would be foolish to quit their campaigning just yet.

South Australian Liberal Party rejects nuclear waste dump plan

November 13, 2016

logo-liberalPremier fails to garner support from SA public for nuclear waste dump claims Opposition leader Marshall Sheradyn Holderhead Political Reporter, The Advertiser November 10, 2016   THE push to establish a nuclear waste dump in South Australia is “all but dead and buried”, Opposition Leader Steven Marshall has declared.

Before returning from visiting the world’s most advanced nuclear disposal facility, Mr Marshall told The Advertiser it was clear from Finland’s experience that the public had to be on board.

“Personally, I have a much greater ambition for SA than becoming the world’s nuclear dump,” he said.

Mr Marshall said the decision that two-thirds of the citizen’s jury did not want the proposal pursued under any circumstance was “a complete failure to get the public onside”.

“Finland is the world leader in creating a permanent repository for nuclear waste. They have spent 40 years getting to this point. And that’s just for their own waste,” Mr Marshall said.

“The clear message here is that this policy from (Premier) Jay Weatherill — that he could receive a Royal Commission report and then make a decision within a matter of months — was ill-conceived. The things they (Finland) have achieved took decades, not months.

“The Citizen’s Jury result showed that Jay Weatherill could not be trusted to deliver on such a significant project. He couldn’t even get Gillman right.”

Today, a group of environmentalists will hand Mr Weatherill a petition with 35,000 signatures calling on the Government to abandon plans for a nuclear waste dump.

The group includes indigenous leaders Enice Marsh, Lesley Coulthard, Regina and Vivianne McKenzie, Tony Clark, Karina and Rose Lester and representatives from conservation groups.

Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Dave Sweeney said burying nuclear waste in SA would leave an “unwelcome toxic legacy for hundreds of thousands of years”.

Mr Marshall said Finland’s Onkalo nuclear waste disposal facility was “impressive”.

He said that while he was not worried about the safety of such a facility, he had “serious concerns” about economic return. “The longer we look at this issue, the more questions are raised about the viability of this project,” he said.  “Nothing I saw in Finland waylaid those concerns.”

A Liberal joint party room meeting would be held on Monday to discuss Mr Marshall’s report from Finland and to hear from Liberal MPs Rob Lucas and Dan van Holst Pellekaan, who were members of the parliamentary committee investigating the proposal.

Earlier this week, Mr Weatherill said the Government would wait for a community views report that includes results from 30,000 online surveys and in-person feedback provided by 16,000 people, before making a decision on how to proceed.

He said the jury decision would be given “substantial weight” in the final government position to be announced to Parliament before the end of the year.

The Government expects to receive the community views report, compiled by consultants, early next week.