Archive for the ‘safety’ Category

Australian government plans to transport nuclear wastes 1000s of kilometres, a dangerous plan in view of bushfires

January 9, 2020

Transporting nuclear wastes across Australia in the age of bushfires, Independent Australia, By Noel Wauchope | IN 2020, the final decision on a site for Australia’s interim National Radioactive Waste Facility will be announced, said Resources Minister Matt Canavan on 13 December.

He added:  I will make a formal announcement early next year on the site-selection process.”

With bushfires raging, it might seem insensitive and non-topical to be worrying now about this coming announcement on a temporary nuclear waste site and the transport of nuclear wastes to it. But this is relevant and all too serious in the light of Australia’s climate crisis.

The U.S. National Academies Press compiled a lengthy and comprehensive report on risks of transporting nuclear wastes — they concluded that among various risks, the most serious and significant is fire:…..

Current bushfire danger areas include much of New South Wales, including the Lucas Heights area, North and coastal East Victoria and in South Australia the lower Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas. If nuclear wastes were to be transported across the continent, whether by land or by sea, from the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney to Kimba in South Australia, they’d be travelling through much of these areas. Today, they’d be confronting very long duration, fully engulfing fires.

Do we know what route the nuclear wastes would be taking to Kimba, which is now presumed to be the Government’s choice for the waste dump? Does the Department of Industry Innovation and Science know? Does the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) know? Well, they might, but they’re not going to tell us.

We can depend on ANSTO’s consistent line on this :

‘In line with standard operational and security requirements, ANSTO will not comment on the port, routes or timing until after the transport is complete.’

That line is understandable of course, due to security considerations, including the danger of terrorism.

Spent nuclear fuel rods have been transported several times, from Lucas Heights to ports – mainly Port Kembla – in great secrecy and security. The reprocessed wastes are later returned from France or the UK with similar caution. Those secret late-night operations are worrying enough, but their risks seem almost insignificant when compared with the marathon journey envisaged in what is increasingly looking like a crackpot ANSTO scheme for the proposed distant Kimba interim nuclear dump. It is accepted that these temporary dumps are best located as near as practical to the point of production, as in the case of USA’s sites.

Australians, beset by the horror of extreme bushfires, can still perhaps count themselves as lucky in that, compared with wildfire regions in some countries, they do not yet have the compounding horror of radioactive contamination spread along with the ashes and smoke.

Fires in Russia have threatened its secret nuclear areas……

Many in America have long been aware of the transport danger:

The state of Nevada released a report in 2003 concluding that a steel-lead-steel cask would have failed after about six hours in the fire and a solid steel cask would have failed after about 11 to 12.5 hours. There would have been contamination over 32 square miles of the city and the contamination would have killed up to 28,000 people over 50 years.

The State of Wyoming is resisting hosting a nuclear waste dump, largely because of transportation risks as well as economic risks. In the UK, Somerset County Council rejects plans for transport of wastes through Somerset.

In the years 2016–2019, proposals for nuclear waste dumping in South Australia have been discussed by government and media as solely a South Australian concern. The present discussion about Kimba is being portrayed as just a Kimba community concern.

Yet, when the same kind of proposal was put forward in previous years, it was recognised as an issue for other states, too.

Most reporting on Australia’s bushfires has been excellent, with the exception of Murdoch media trying to downplay their seriousness. However, there has been no mention of the proximity of bushfires to Lucas Heights. As happened with the fires in 2018, this seems to be a taboo subject in the Australian media.

While it has never been a good idea to trek the Lucas Heights nuclear waste for thousands of kilometres across the continent – or halfway around it by sea – Australia’s new climate crisis has made it that much more dangerous. Is the bushfire apocalypse just a one-off? Or, more likely, is this nationwide danger the new normal? https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/transporting-nuclear-wastes-across-australia-in-the-age-of-bushfires,13465

Bushfire danger to nuclear waste transport across Australia

January 2, 2020

In all the propaganda for a nuclear waste dump in Kimba, South Australia, there was no mention of bushfire risks.  An extraordinary omission, don’t you think?

The whole bizarre plan to trek the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor wastes some1700km by land, or even longer by sea, would entail trucking highly radioactive  (they call it intermediate) wastes through forest areas, towns, ports, to what used to be an agricultural area.

The nuclear industry touts itself as the cure for climate change. In reality,it is the other way around. For Australia especially, climate change, bushfires, water shortages –  make every aspect of the nuclear industry ever more dangerous.

The Lucas Heights nuclear reactor itself is uncomfortably close to the bushfires. But nobody’s talking about that. That reactor shoud be shutdown, and no more wastes produced.

Australia’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor has safety problems

July 22, 2018

Nuclear radiation spills spur Lucas Heights review, THE AUSTRALIAN, SIAN POWELL, Higher Education & Science Writer, Sydney SEAN PARNELL-Health Editor, Brisbane @seanparnell

Australia’s nuclear safety agency has ordered a review of Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear medicine facility after two radiation spills, and a separate investigation is under way into a mechanical failure that has caused delays in diagnostic tests across the country.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation has had four safety breaches in 10 months and in recent weeks has had to call on US…….

Distribution of the replacement nuclear medicine supplies was also disrupted this month after airline delays from the US prevented the medicine reaching clinics and hospitals for some days……….

The supply problems caused by the mechanical failure have come as a review was ordered by the independent regulator, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and its chief executive Carl-Magnus Larsson, who issued the organisation with a direction under the Aus­tralian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act.

The agency said the independent review it had directed would focus on quality control of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), the radio­active agent used in diagnostic imaging.

After the first safety breach when a staff member’s hands were contaminated on August 22 last year, ARPANSA found ANSTO to be noncompliant with its licence conditions, according to a statement from the safety agency.

“Three further events including the latest event on 7 June, 2018, indicate ongoing safety issues at ANSTO Health,” ARPANSA said………

An internal review is being conducted into the conveyor failure on June 22 while the separate independent safety review into the ageing ANSTO facility is ­undertaken.

ANSTO will appoint an independent reviewer. “This appointment is the next step on a path of continuous improvement.

“Using recommendations from the review, we’ll identify what more can be done to make that facility safer,” a spokesman for ANSTO said.

…….The conveyor has been fixed but compliance checks and a thorough audit will keep the production of nuclear medicine at a standstill for some time.

Repairs were originally delayed because ANSTO staff members were forced to wait until radiation levels in the conveyor room fell to a safe level……..https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/nuclear-radiation-spills-spur-lucas-heights-review/news-story/7c5f0c09e7847d8c0265e86c28d1e796

Arrest of top Lucas Heights nuclear security official, over ‘official secrets’ and illegal gun possession

December 26, 2016

secret-agent-AustLucas Heights security boss Anthony Haddad charged over ‘official secrets’, gun SMH, 24 Dec 16, Eamon Duff. A security consultant who held a “top secret” government clearance inside Australia’s only nuclear facility has been arrested and charged with the
illegal possession of “official secrets” and an unauthorised weapon.

Until February last year, Anthony Rami Haddad was manager of security and operations at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor, safeguarding the site against theft, diversion and sabotage.

However, following  a stint in the Middle easrt where he worked on another nuclear security project, he returned hom eto Sydney, and last month became entangled in an unrelated investigation being run by the Australian Federal Police’s fraud and anti-corruption team.

A fortnight ago, Haddad appeared before Sydney’s Downi8ng Centre Local court, where he pleaded guilty to unauthorised receipt of official secrets under the Commonwealth crimes Act.

He has yet to enter a plea for a second charge, ppossessing an unauthorised prohibited firearm. His barrister, Nikolaos Siafakas, will apply to have the outstanding matter dealt with under section 32 of teh Mental Health Act……..

According to ANSTO documents, Haddad’s many responsibilities at Lucas Heights included the “mamagement of security operations” at the onsite Little Forest radioactive waste dump and its “seamless integration” into the facility’s “wider” protective security systems.

Haddad will reappear in court on February 7  http://www.smh.com.au/national/lucas-heights-security-boss-anthony-haddad-charged-over-official-secrets-gun-20161223-gthdwv.html

Extraordinarily unwise deal to sell uranium to Ukraine, on eve of Chernobyl anniversary

April 20, 2016

Aust-two-faced-on-peace

For security reasons, Australia has suspended uranium sales to Russia. It seems extraordinary that Australia should now enter into a deal with even more unsafe and unstable Ukraine, in its present war and political crisis.      


No doubt the federal parliament’s influential Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) will examine the planned deal, that Julie Bishop signed up to in New York with Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn. 

JSCOT recently warned against the agreement to sell uranium to India but its recommendations were ignored by the Coalition Government. Here’s hoping that there will be scrutiny on the Ukrainian agreement and that the government will pay attention. 

Four big reasons not to sell uranium to Ukraine https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/fourbig-reasons-not-to-sell-uranium-to-ukraine,8895  Noel Wauchope 18 April 2016 As the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster approaches, Noel Wauchope outlines just a few compelling reasons why the Coalition Government’s uranium deal with Ukraine may have further disastrous consequences.

WHAT AMAZINGLY insensitive timing! As the anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe approaches, Australia makes a deal (at the Nuclear Security Summit) to sell uranium to Ukraine.

This is such a bad idea for so many reasons — it’s hard to know which to pick first!

Economics: simply because uranium exporting is not really economically worthwhile.

Chernobyl’s plight: because Ukraine’s Chernobyl radioactive disaster is continuing. (We supplied uranium for that other catastrophe — Fukushima.)

Insecurity: Ukraine’s dangerous nuclear industry due to civil war, ageing reactors, risks of smuggling and terrorism.

Political crisis: Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt and unstable political regime.

Let’s check those four reasons.

Economics

The global uranium industry is in a declining state. Price reporting companies describe repeated low and falling uranium prices. Australia’s uranium industry now accounts for 0.2 per cent of national export revenue — and that’s not counting profits that go overseas, due to the high degree of foreign ownership of companies mining uranium in Australia.

Chernobyl’s plight

The 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear accident is on 26 April 2016. Ukraine is still suffering from, and struggling with, the legacy of that radioactive catastrophe. The conservativeWorld Health Organisation (WHO) estimates the radiation caused deaths at 4,000 — based on itsreport ‘Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident and Special Health Care Programmes’. The 2016 TORCH (The Other Report on Chernobyl) Report amplifies this discussion (summary here) but all sources agree that no conclusive figure can be given.

The legacy of the accident includes the struggle to contain the radioactivity of the shattered reactor.

Ukraine seeks international funds to complete its new concrete tomb being built over the reactor, the old cover having decayed to an unsafe state. The reactor itself is still too contaminated for workers to approach. Removal of radioactive materials there will begin only after the new confinement structure has been finished. But experts believe that it will contain radioactivity for only 30 years .

Insecurity

This issue of nuclear security is another irony in this uranium sales deal. Julie Bishop and Ukraine President used the meeting of the Nuclear Security Summit in New York to discuss the sale. The focus of the Summit was the need to protect radioactive materials from dangerous zones, and from the risk of terrorists obtaining them.

You couldn’t pick a more dangerous zone than Ukraine

Ukraine’s Zaporizhia nuclear facility is Europe’s largest and is only 200 kilometres from the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine. Already there have been sabotage events that affected its nuclear programme.

All of these events have led to an additional emergency shutdown of the electrical network of two units at thermal power plants – the Dnieper and Uglegorskaya – and the emergency unloading by 500 MW of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. This includes Zaporozhskaya NPP and the South Ukrainian NPP. I want to stress that such emergency unloading of a nuclear plant – it is very dangerous. ~ Senior Ukrainian energy official Yuriy Katich.

Some commentators have described nuclear plants in the region as pre-deployed nuclear targets and there have already been armed incursions during the recent conflict period.

Bankwatch recently listed 10 reasons why Ukraine’s nuclear power stations are a security danger for Europe. These include Ukraine’s ageing reactors – some already having exceeded their planned lifespan – and restrictions on the nuclear regulator’s ability to inspect reactors. Bankwatch regards Ukraine as a huge financial risk to Europe:

The European Commission, the European Parliament, and EU governments – particularly in neighouring countries that could be affected by the Ukrainian government’s reckless nuclear adventure – need to demand Ukraine complies with its international obligations, especially when EU public money is involved.

Petro Poroshenko’s Government is responding to Bankwatch’s criticism with a lawsuit against Bankwatch’s member group National Ecological Centre of Ukraine (NECU), in an attempt to silence criticism and avoid public scrutiny. Organisations in five European countries have joined in a campaign for transparency about Ukraine’s nuclear programme.

Even Ukraine’s own Progress Report to the Nuclear Security Summit admits some safety problems, listing over 1400 sources of ionising radiation that are not under regulatory control.

Ukraine now has a messy and competitive nuclear power system, in which Western companiesAREVA and Westinghouse compete in marketing and upgrading nuclear reactors and lobby to sell nuclear fuel. But Russia actually controls the fuel supply, providing nuclear fuel to 13 out of Ukraine’s 15 reactors.

Ukraine is just next door to Moldova, the heart of a 2014 nuclear smuggling gang. With Ukraine’s secretive nuclear arrangements, and inadequate regulatory system, the possibility of theft of radioactive materials is a real one in Ukraine.

Political crisis

If you thought that Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory regime was dubious, what about its political regime?   Many see corruption as Ukraine’s greatest danger. Russia was notorious for its oligarchs, but to some extent they were held in check. Not in Ukraine, where oligarchs appropriated government money to become very wealthy, using some of their wealth to buy politicians and set up a “convenient’ political system.

Oligarchs are reported to control 70 per cent of the state’s economy. The country has been described as a “cleptocracy” —with so much intrigue amongst corrupt politicians and oligarchs that it’s called “Ukraine’s Deep State”.

President Petro Poroshenko himself is a very successful businessman, whose business assets have increased over the past year. Before the last election, Poroshenko pledged to sell his company Roshen but now refuses to do so. He also owns a major TV channel. His private assets are larger than those of any other European leader. Poroshenko is currently involved in a real estate scandal.

Along with lawmaker and business partner Ihor Kononenko, Poroshenko is co-owner of the International Investment Bank. Kononenko is accused of being involved in a laundering scheme that moves money from Ukrprominvest (a group founded by Kononenko and Poroshenko) to the British Virgin Islands through offshore companies Intraco Management Ltd and Ernion. Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius, who worked to expose political corruption, resigned in disgust on 3 February, saying:

“Neither me nor my team have any desire to serve as a cover-up for the covert corruption, or become puppets for those who, very much like the “old” government, are trying to exercise control over the flow of public funds”.  

Aivaras claimed that Prime Minister Mr Yatsenyuk and Mr Poroshenko were blocking reforms aimed at tackling corruption. Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigned suddenly on 11 April, under pressure from Poroshenko, who has replaced him with close associate, Volodymyr Groysman. Several reformers from Ukraine’s previous government are departing after declining to serve under Mr Groysman.

The West is watching the Ukrainian regime carefully. The IMF has been providing a $17.5 billion support scheme to cash-strapped Ukraine but has put it on hold, due to the corruption and instability of the regime.

Early this month, the Netherlands held a referendum regarding a potential Ukraine-EU treaty on closer political and economic ties. A whopping 61 per cent (2.509 million people) voted against Ukraine’s association with the EU. European nations, as well as many Ukrainians share in loss of confidence in the government, following this referendum as well as revelations of scandals in the Prosecutor General’s Office.

All this concern came to a head with the revelations of the Panama Papers, in which President Poroshenko figures largely. Unlike Iceland’s President, Poroshenko has no intention of resigning. The West has been very quiet about the allegations against him — presumably they support anyone who is opposed to Russia’s Putin.

Poroshenko claims that his financial arrangements have all been legal. But not everyone agrees with that. Igor Lutsenko, a member of Verkhovna Rada, Supreme Council of Ukraine, outlines how Poroshenko violated Ukrainian law in setting up the British Virgin Islands firm

For security reasons, Australia has suspended uranium sales to Russia. It seems extraordinary that Australia should now enter into a deal with even more unsafe and unstable Ukraine, in its present war and political crisis.

No doubt the federal parliament’s influential Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) will examine the planned deal, that Julie Bishop signed up to in New York with Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn.

JSCOT recently warned against the agreement to sell uranium to India but its recommendations were ignored by the Coalition Government. Here’s hoping that there will be scrutiny on the Ukrainian agreement and that the government will pay attention.

Transporting radioactive trash across Australia – a very bad idea

November 14, 2015

radiation-truck

Goondiwindi mayor raises issues over transport of nuclear waste to Queensland, ABC News 13 Nov 15  The Mayor of a southern Queensland region shortlisted to store nuclear waste is concerned about how it will be transported, but is keeping an open mind to the proposal.

Oman Ama, 250 kilometres southwest of Brisbane,is one of six sites earmarked by the Federal Government, including three in South Australia, one in New South Wales and one in the Northern Territory. Goondiwindi Mayor Graeme Scheu said he did not want to jump to conclusions.

“The main question around it would be transportation, where it goes, so, so many questions that we don’t even have an answer for and the facts,” he said……..

The Federal Government is offering sweeteners to the community that agrees to house nuclear waste…..

Transporting waste to Queensland ‘total lunacy’

National secretary of the Australian local government nuclear free zones secretariat, Ipswich councillor Paul Tully, said “total lunacy” had overtaken the Federal Government.

Mr Tully said the federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will put major cities across southeast Queensland under threat with hundreds of trucks a year carrying nuclear waste across the region.”They will be transporting nuclear waste from the Lucas Heights reactor west of Sydney and other parts of Australia to Queensland,” he said.

“We don’t want Queensland to become the dumping ground for dangerous waste from NSW.”

He said similar plans in 1989 for a radioactive waste dump at Redbank in Ipswich had been thwarted after major environmental concerns were raised.

Kirsten Macey from the Queensland Conservation Council said regional communities should not be used as the scapegoat for a “dirty” nuclear industry. She wants the waste left in Sydney.

“We believe that where the regulator is – where they have the capacity to store it and monitor it, that’s where the nuclear waste should be stored,” she said. “That’s at Lucas Heights where the nuclear waste is being generated.”http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-13/mayor-goondiwindi-transport-nuclear-waste-queensland/6937570

Australia’s uranium deal with India is condemned by John Carlson, former head of Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation

October 1, 2014

See below a very strong critique of the Australia-India nuclear cooperation agreement from John Carlson, former head of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, who worked tirelessly for many years to weaken safeguards standards …

It is not good enough to simply say that we trust India because it has an ‘impeccable’ non-proliferation record (and India’s record in any case is not ‘impeccable’).The reporting procedures are not optional; they are fundamental to Australia’s ability to confirm that our safeguards conditions are being met. They have long applied to close and trusted partners such as the US, the EU, Japan and South Korea. There is absolutely no case to waive them for India.

Is the Abbott Government abandoning Australia’s nuclear safeguards standards for India? John Carlson AM is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. He was Director General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office and its predecessor the Australian Safeguards Office from 1989 to 2010. Lowy Interpreter,  1 October 2014 http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/?COLLCC=737147385& 

The signing last month of a civil nuclear cooperation agreement between Australia and India has been greeted as an important step towards closer relations between the two countries, as well as bringing India into the global nuclear energy mainstream. These are worthy objectives, but not at any cost.

Now that the text of the agreement has been quietly made public, some substantial departures from Australia’s current safeguards conditions are evident. These suggest, disturbingly, that Australia may be unable to keep track of what happens to uranium supplied to India.

In this post I will explain what is wrong with the Australia-India nuclear cooperation agreement and why it appears that the Abbott Government may be abandoning Australia’s longstanding safeguards requirements for India. In a subsequent post I will explain what can and should be done about it.

Negotiations for the agreement began under the Gillard Government in 2012, after Labor came around to an in-principle acceptance of uranium exports to India provided they were properly safeguarded. This was always going to be contentious, primarily because of Australia’s longstanding policy against supplying uranium to countries outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

It is short-sighted and self-defeating to make the agreement even more contentious by compromising Australia’s safeguards standards. This will jeopardise bipartisan support for the agreement, raising the prospect of future governments suspending exports under it. It will also expose the agreement to potential legal challenge under the 1987 Safeguards Act, and it risks re-opening the wider uranium debate in Australia. None of this is in the interests of the Australian or Indian governments or of the nuclear industry in either country.

Two documents are critically important here. First, let’s look more closely at the agreement itself. It departs in the following ways from Australia’s standard requirements on countries receiving our uranium:

  •  Consent to reprocessing – reprocessing, involving separation of plutonium from spent fuel, is the most sensitive stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. To date Australia’s consent to reprocessing has been limited to the EU and Japan, and has been given on what is called a programmatic basis, i.e. Australia has approved the specific ‘downstream’ facilities using separated plutonium and the purposes involved. In this agreement, however, Australia has effectively given consent in advance for India to reprocess in accordance with an ‘arrangements and procedures’ document India concluded with the US in 2010. This covers safeguards at two reprocessing plants which India plans to build, but includes only a vague reference to management of plutonium, and nothing corresponding to programmatic consent;

 

  • Right of return – Australia’s standard conditions include a right for Australia to require the return of material and items if there is a breach of an agreement. This agreement contains no such provision;

 

  • Fallback safeguards – Australia’s standard condition is that, if for any reason IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards cease to apply, the parties are to establish safeguards arrangements that conform with IAEA safeguards principles and procedures and provide equivalent assurance. This agreement requires only that the parties consult and agree on ‘appropriate verification measures’, a vague term readily open to differing interpretations;

 

  • Settlement of disputes – Australia’s standard requirement is for negotiation, backed by an arbitration process. This agreement refers only to negotiation, with no mechanism for resolving deadlock.

 

Even more consequential than the agreement itself may be a second, follow-on text that the public may never get to see, a so-called ‘administrative arrangement’ which sets out the working procedures for the agreement. Officials are presumably working on this at present. The key question here is, will this administrative arrangement enable Australia to track and account for the nuclear material that is subject to the agreement with India?

The administrative arrangement should set out detailed procedures for identifying and accounting for the specific nuclear material to which the agreement applies. This includes not only the initially-supplied Australian uranium, but all subsequent generations of material derived from it, especially plutonium. If it is not possible to apply the agreement’s provisions to specific material, the agreement will be meaningless.

 

To be effective, these procedures need to include a requirement for regular reports to Australia showing the flow of material under the agreement through the nuclear fuel cycle in India. Australia needs to be able to track and account for this ‘Australian-obligated nuclear material’. This is both a proper public expectation and a legal requirement under section 51 of the Safeguards Act.

 

Bipartisan support for, and public acceptance of, uranium exports is based on the assurance that Australia is able to track our material and determine that our conditions are being met. Australia’s safeguards requirements were developed by the Fraser Government, are in line with international standards, and have been applied under all our safeguards agreements ever since – today we have 22 agreements covering 40 countries.

 

Disturbingly, it is reported that Indian officials will not provide Australia with reports accounting for material under the agreement, and that the Abbott Government seems prepared to waive this requirement for India. The same issue has arisen under India’s arrangements with the US and Canada. In response, Washington has held firm: the US-India administrative arrangement has been outstanding for several years; reportedly the US is insisting on receiving tracking information and India is refusing.

In the case of Canada, the Harper Government gave in to India, an outcome described as the ‘meltdown of Canadian non-proliferation policy’. The Canadian Government refuses to reveal the details of its arrangement. If Australia follows Canada down this path, it will put the wrong kind of pressure on the US, the EU and Japan in their own dealings with India.

 

Apparently India considers that its acceptance of IAEA safeguards should be good enough. But India’s refusal to provide reports on Australian supplied material calls into question whether India will in fact identify and account for this material, as required by the agreement. If India will account for this material, the additional effort in providing reports to Australia should cause India no problem. However if it will not account for the material, India will be in breach of the agreement.

 

Why is India being so difficult on this issue? India has an expanding nuclear weapon program. It has not fully separated its military and civilian nuclear programs and some facilities are still dual-purpose. India’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA does not impose the same restrictions as bilateral agreements in areas such as reprocessing, higher enrichment, retransfers to third countries, research and development or the production of tritium (which has uses in nuclear weapons).

 

If India succeeds in delinking foreign-obligated nuclear material from individual bilateral agreements, making it impossible to identify which batch of material is covered by which agreement, then India could work a ‘pea and thimble’ trick in which no supplier could tell whether their material was being used contrary to bilateral conditions. The mere possibility of this is sufficient to call into question India’s commitment to observing bilateral agreements.

 

Without proper reporting, Australia has no way of knowing whether India is in reality meeting its obligations to identify and account for all the material that is subject to the agreement, and to apply Australia’s safeguards conditions to this material. It is not good enough to simply say that we trust India because it has an ‘impeccable’ non-proliferation record (and India’s record in any case is not ‘impeccable’).The reporting procedures are not optional; they are fundamental to Australia’s ability to confirm that our safeguards conditions are being met. They have long applied to close and trusted partners such as the US, the EU, Japan and South Korea. There is absolutely no case to waive them for India.

Australia’s nuclear reactor cuts safety staff!

July 26, 2014

safety-symbolFears for safety at Lucas Heights nuclear reactor: permanent supervisors to be dumped as part of cost-cutting GEOFF CHAMBERS THE DAILY TELEGRAPH JULY 25, 2014 PERMANENT frontline safety supervisors will be dumped and Australian Federal Police roles overhauled as part of cost-cutting measures at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.

Lucas-09The Daily Telegraph can reveal that six permanent ­safety positions will be ­outsourced from next month at the Australian Nuclear ­Science and Technology ­Organisation (ANSTO).

Workers at the facility in Sydney’s south have expressed concern about the removal of permanent safety inspectors.

The AFP will retain an armed presence but it is ­expected that light duties, including boom gate operation and CCTV monitoring, will be outsourced.

With 260 production, ­laboratory and technical staff on its books, the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union has firmly opposed what it describes as a “cost-cutting exercise” by ANSTO.

The union’s state secretary, Tim Ayres, said that the reactor site was an important local ­employer and crucial for the innovation and manufacturing industry.

“This is in no way an ­improvement to safety at ­Sydney’s only nuclear facility, this is a decision to wind back the safety protections purely on the basis of costs,” he said.

“This is a nuclear facility in the middle of a very large population centre — they’ve had to work very hard to get the confidence of the community that it can operate ­safely. But outsourcing the senior level safety inspectorate to some private company is going to absolutely shatter the confidence that this place can be run to the standard of safety and quality that the community expects.”

Mr Ayres said having ­permanent safety inspectors on staff should be a priority for management.

The inspectors, many with years of experience, are the first point of contact at Lucas Heights during an emergency situation.

      “This sends a message that safety is a second-order issue. It will set the safety culture back,” he said………

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/fears-for-safety-at-lucas-heights-nuclear-reactor-permanent-supervisors-to-be-dumped-as-part-of-costcutting/story-fni0cx12-1227000713465?n

Mirrar Aboriginal people want full investigation of Ranger uranium mine

December 16, 2013

The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) has welcomed the formation of a task force to investigate the recent tank collapse at Ranger uranium mine. Federal Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane and Northern Territory Mines Minister Willem Westra Van Holthe announced the investigation today noting that a representative of the Mirarr Traditional Owners of the mine site will be invited to join.

GAC Chief Executive Officer Justin O’Brien said “We welcome the Government’s proactive closure of operations at Ranger and believe that mining should remain suspended until the completion of this investigation and the subsequent implementation of all recommendations.”

The investigation has been established to:
i) identify the immediate cause of the incident;
ii) examine the integrity of broader processing operations;
iii) identify any gaps in operating procedures or maintenance practices;
iv) undertake a comprehensive examination of corporate governance arrangements; and,
v) provide recommendations to the Commonwealth Minister for Industry and the Northern Territory Minister for Mines and Energy.

Mr O’Brien continued: “This inquiry must be given full access to ensure the condition of infrastructure and the rigour of procedures at this aging mine are fully scrutinised. We look forward to assisting with the appointment of an independent investigator.”

“We are hopeful that this process will set a strong precedent for government listening to and including aboriginal landholders in decisions about the management of their land” Justin O’Brien concluded.

Nasty radiation accident to clean-up worker at Ranger uranium mine

December 15, 2013

AUDIO Worker ‘fell in’ to radioactive slurry pit, ABC Radio AM Michael Coggan reported this story on Saturday, December 14, 2013  

SIMON SANTOW: The operators of the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory are facing fresh allegations they are cutting corners on safety.

A worker told his union he sunk up to his armpits into radioactive slurry while helping to clean up a massive toxic spill caused by the collapse of part of the mine’s processing plant last weekend.

The company that runs the mine, Energy Resources of Australia, says it can’t confirm the workplace accident and is checking the validity of the claim.    Michael Coggan reports from Darwin.

MICHAEL COGGAN: When a 1,400 cubic metre leach tank at the Ranger uranium mine fell apart last Saturday, workers had to evacuate to avoid being hit by the mixture of sulphuric acid and uranium it was holding…….

BRYAN WILKINS: I received a message from a worker out at Ranger this afternoon that another worker there was walking on top of the spill area. It’s got a crust on it now. He fell through it, was in to the waste up to his armpits. He was taken to first aid, told to have a shower and get back to work. The worker refused to go back to work, so Ranger put him on a plane and sent him home? MICHAEL COGGAN: What does that say about the safety of the mine site?

BRYAN WILKINS: I think this is fairly typical of safety on that mine site. And it goes to show when the minister said the mine was safe the other day, he obviously wasn’t right. There still are safety issues on that site, and there needs to be that full independent inquiry that we called for…….http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2013/s3911651.htm