Archive for the ‘spinbuster’ Category

Australia’s nuclear propagandist Ben Heard, and others, fail at Bonn, so fall back on the “banana” argument

November 18, 2017

Above: Ben Heard at Bonn, 16 November

Ben Heard and the pro nuclear lobby group “Generation Atomic” were not very successful at the Bonn climate talks. A member of the group ‘marraskuu’ explains:

“we ran around Bonn, trying to secure a permission for a side event that our group would like to organize on Monday, when the UNEP [ United Nations Environment Programme ] Sustainable innovations forum, from which the nuclear industry was kicked out from, starts. They eventually ended up denying us the permission.
The evening was spent in one of the weirdest way I have ever spent an evening: By sticking up stickers on Bananas”

So – the nuclear lobby at the climate talks was reduced to pushing one of their most dishonest and silliest propaganda spins – the “banana argument”.  Because our bodies contain a small amount of (mildly) radioactive Potassium 40 –  and because there’s potassium 40 in bananas – then we are told not to worry about the nuclear fission produced highly radioactive ions like Cesium , Strontium, Iodine,

BUT – IN REALITY :  When you eat a banana, your body’s level of Potassium-40 doesn’t increase. You just get rid of some excess Potassium-40. The net dose of a banana is zero.



China- Bill Gates nuclear propaganda faithfully regurgitated by Australian media

November 8, 2017
This isn’t the first time that Cole Latimer has regurgitated nuclear propaganda –  this time from China, (though Latimer also regurgitates some good stuff, and even writes some of his own)
Of course – they didn’t say that the reasons for Bill Gates’ doing this in China:
1. Because China does not have the strict safety regulations that USA has – so Gates can’t do this in USA
2. Because China’s nukes are tax-payer funded – so no worries about getting funding – (in USA there’s quite an outcry about the govt funding nukes)
3. The article made a virtue out of the reactor using ‘waste fuel’ from conventional reactors –  ignoring all the transport safety problems etc.
4 The article brushed over the fact that even this new reactor leaves long-lasting radioactive trash –   smaller in volume, yes, but so toxic that it need equal space to safely store
The article glosses over the fuel “waste uranium”  “depleted uranium” as if that’s fine.
There’s an area that I find ambiguous:
This joint venture aims to design and construct multiple nuclear power plants generating around 1150 megawatts over the next two decades which utilise this fourth generation nuclear technology. ….”    “the reactor would only need eight tonnes of this material to power 2.5 million homes for a year.”
Do they mean that ONE reactor would provide all this power?  They might. But as I understand it, the Travelling Wave Reactor is a small model, that would need to be set up as  a bunch of multiples –  (further making it difficult to market, as a country would have to order them en masse.  I say a country, because apart from Gates and a few mates, private enterprise is unwilling to take this huge financial risk)

Bill Gates and China partner on world-first nuclear technology , Cole Latimer SMH, The Age, and global media outlets, 8 November 17 

Bill Gates’ nuclear firm TerraPower and the China National Nuclear Corporation have signed an agreement to develop a world-first nuclear reactor, using other nuclear reactors’ waste

TerraPower chairman Bill Gates and Chinese premier Li Keqiang signed a joint venture agreement to create the Global Innovation Nuclear Energy Technology company, which will build a Travelling Wave Reactor and commercialise the technology……

Shellenberger in Australia: one sad interview, one happy one with radio shock jock

November 7, 2017

The pro nuclear Twittersphere was alive with angry comments about the ABC’s interview with nuclear propagandist Michael Shellenberger.

I missed that interview, but apparently the ABC interviewer asked some hard questions.

Shellenberger commented: “fighting to survive a brutal interview by a tough young reporter in Oz On ABC (the Aussie BBC)”

Australia’s own nuclear propagandist, Ben Heard,  commented:  “Shabby interview. Host evidently unfamiliar with topic”

However, those pro nuclear spinners were happy with shock jock Alan Jones on 2GB Alan Jones Breakfast Show.  Jones said:

“Michael has turned on wind and solar with a passion: he’s now advocating for an all-atomic energy future, simply because the latter provides reliable power, whereas the former are a childish nonsense…..

the Finkel review totally ignored nuclear power as an option and pushed harder for more and more renewable energy. So Victoria’s looking at 25% renewables by 2025, South Australia 50%, the ACT 100%, Queensland 50%……

one of the world’s leading new-generation environmental thinkers has said the renewable energy experiment with wind and solar has failed. Michael Shellenberger is a former renewables advocate and adviser to Barack Obama when he was President. [ed. not true. Shellenberger sent an unsolicited  submission to President Obama]  He is now global champion for nuclear energy, which he said was the only option to replace coal and gas on a global scale. ……”

Shellenberger  said:

every major study for the last 40 years finds that nuclear power is the safest way to make reliable electricity. You don’t have the risks that come with coal and fossil fuels, both in terms of mine collapses and air pollution, and the accidents themselves that everyone worries so much about hardly have any impact on people’s lives…

Wind and solar – They’re the worst. Really, all renewables are. The reason is easy to understand, in the sense that the fuels are very dilute, they’re very diffuse, and so you have to cover a huge amount of land with wind and solar……. solar produces huge quantities of toxic waste…… They produce two to three hundred times more toxic waste than nuclear plants, which are the only way of producing electricity that contain all of their potentially harmful waste. Of course it’s been contained so well that nobody has ever been harmed by the radiation from nuclear power waste, ever……

The other problem is that you just end up getting too much wind energy when you don’t need it, like the middle of the night. Solar and wind, it’s like they’re almost set up to destroy cheap, clean, reliable energy.

What happened was that there was a smaller group of anti-human so-called environmentalists that opposed nuclear precisely because it allowed for so much cheap and abundant power, and they thought, “Well, if we’re going to stop the human cancer, we have to cut off its energy supplies.” …..

You’ve got some really crazy anti-nuclear people down there…..

Alan Jones: “I’ll tell you something, when you arrive in this country, Michael we’ll have you on again. We can’t hear enough of you. It’s time we had a good healthy dose of common sense”

Fooling the public- Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s definition of “Intermediate” Level Wastess

October 20, 2017

Steve Dale Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia  21 Oct 17 Lest we forget. The ore we dig up from Roxby has a radioactivity of about 80 Becquerels per gram. The vitrified waste we received back from France has a radioactivity over one Billion Becquerels per gram (one GigaBq/gr). France considers this High Level Waste – but our political system has allowed this to be defined as “Intermediate” – incompetence? corrupt? I will let you decide. (image from…/2006_summar…/files/docs/all.pdf)

Persuasive pro nuclear spinner Brian Cox headed for Australia

October 4, 2017

Brian Cox is  a very personable and knowledgeable TV star and particle physics expert. He is also a promoter of the nuclear industry. He is a big fan of plutonium -powered space travel.

Currently, Cox is in Cumbria, UK, addressing schoolchildren groups, and revving up enthusiasm for science and technology. All good, yes. He enthuses about the opportunity for top jobs in high tech in Cumbria.  Good? Yes, but – where are these future jobs? Well – in the nuclear industry, which is desperately trying to get a new nuclear power station built.

Whitehaven News 29th Sept 2017, Television star Professor Brian Cox says Cumbria has a world-leading industry which warrants talent – but there’s a shortage of scientists and engineers. But he hopes to change that by helping to bring the prestigious Infinity Festival to the area and inspiring hundreds of teenagers to follow their dreams. Professor Cox was the star speaker at today’s festival which was held at West Lakes Academy in Egremont. More than 200 schoolchildren, aged 13 and 14, attended the event from schools across the whole of the county.

Professor Brian Cox welcomes Cumbria’s nuclear history and future scientist, Professor Brian Cox, has told guests at the opening of a new exhibition in Whitehaven that nuclear power should be an important source of energy in the UK.

Famous scientist argues for ‘stable’ forms of energy, The famous scientist Professor Brian Cox has told guests at the opening of a new exhibition in Whitehaven that nuclear power should be an important source of energy in the UK.

He argues that education is important for accepting nuclear energy:

Michael Shellenberger, top “new nuclear” spruiker, heads for Australia

September 26, 2017

‘Michael Shellenberger  will visit Australia in Nov­ember to promote a rethink on nuclear at a minerals industry conference.

A radioactive wolf in green clothing: Dissecting the latest pro-nuclear spin,10735

 Noel Wauchope Michael Shellenberger is a nuclear salesman posing as a new generation environmentalist with unsubstantiated energy “solutions”, writes Noel Wauchope.

LAST WEEK, The Australian excelled itself in uncritically regurgitating nuclear lobby propaganda in the article‘Nuclear the “only option” to replace coal and gas: Michael Shellenberger’. 

To start with, they describe Shellenberger as ‘one of the world’s leading new-generation environmental thinkers‘. Well, that is sort of, a bit, right. Shellenberger is well known as the founder in 2003, with Ted Nordhaus, of The Breakthrough Institute — a nuclear front group dedicated to promoting “new generation” nuclear reactors. He is not a new generation environmentalist, as his focus is solely on the nuclear industry.

In the same opening paragraph, Shellenberger is described as ‘a former renewables advocate to Barack Obama‘. Well, Shellenberger’s advocacy consisted of lobbying Obama to promote not renewables but nuclear power. He is described as ‘now a global champion for nuclear energy’, as if he had only recently become a convert from renewables.

The Australian goes on to quote Shellenberger’s statements against renewable energy, uncritically, despite the fact that he provides no evidence for them:

“[Wind and solar] are doubling the cost of electricity and they have big environmental impacts. All existing renewable technologies do is make the electricity system chaotic and provide greenwash for fossil fuels.”


“[Opposition to nuclear] is like a superstitious religious belief.”

Shellenberger was a one of Time Magazine’s ’30 Heroes of the Environment’ in 2008. True. However, he was chosen and discussed in Time by Bryan Walsh, a nuclear proponent and a member of The Breakthrough Institute. That choice was strongly disputed by genuine leading environmentalists Bill McKibben and Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. 

Having thus established Shellenberger’s very shaky credentials as an environmentalist, The Australian gets to the gist of the story:

‘Michael Shellenberger  will visit Australia in Nov­ember to promote a rethink on nuclear at a minerals industry conference.’

We are told that Germany’s renewable energy transition is not successful and that Shellenberger believes better education about nuclear power is needed as well as ‘a leap forward in scientific literacy about radiation’.

He says:

“The reality is the death toll from Chernobyl in 1986, after 20 years, is less than 200 people.”

As we have come to expect from The Australian and from Michael Shellenberger, no references are given to back up these statements.

Also unsurprisingly, The Australian quotes Shellenberger’s conclusion without comment:

“Nuclear is the only technology that can lift everyone out of poverty and reverse human ­impact.”

As often happens, this article is followed by numerous positive comments, often glowing with praise, if somewhat lacking in information or insight. There were no negative comments. But then, only registered readers of The Australian are allowed to make comments. It is tiring but necessary to refute bald claims made by very manipulative nuclear spruikers.

Where to start?

Here are some links to thoughtful articles which address claims made in this article:

  • The cost or electricity from renewables?

Renewable energy versus nuclear: dispelling the myths about costs‘, by Mark Diesendorf, Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales.

  • Death toll from Chernobyl accident?

‘Radiation harm deniers? Pro-nuclear environmentalists and the Chernobyl death toll’, by Dr Jim Green, National Nuclear Campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and Editor of the Nuclear Monitor.

  • Nuclear lifting the world out of poverty?  

‘Nuclear Power Cost’, from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Australian media blindly accepts nuclear lobby spin about “medical isotopes”

September 4, 2017

Misconceptions about radioactive medical isotopes, , By Noel Wauchope -29 August 2017

Australians get their information about medical isotopes straight from The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation(ANSTO) via handouts faithfully retailed via the mainstream media. Some recent examples of media coverage:

The message is straightforward and goes like this:

The purpose of the Opal nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights is to make medical radioisotopes to treat cancer. Australia needs a national radioactive waste dump in rural South Australia, thousands of miles away from Lucas Heights, to dispose of the low-level medical radioactive wastes produced. And this will be a bonanza for the lucky rural community of Kimba.

Is this story true?

No. It is misleading on a number of counts.

First of all, a nuclear reactor is not essential for making medical isotopes. The IAEA lists 39 countries that use cyclotrons to produce them. That includes Australia, which has them not only at Lucas Heights itself, but also at hospitals in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia.

From the invention of the cyclotron (1931) , and discovery of artificial radioactivity (1934), non nuclear particle accelerators were used to produce them. Globally, particle accelerators produced the vast majority of radioisotopes with medical applications until the 1950s. Radioisotopes of medical interest began to be produced as a byproduct of nuclear weapons reactors during World War II. After the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the USA Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)’s main mission was promoting the military use of nuclear material, but “giving atomic energy a peaceful, civilian image” was also part of it. In1948 the AEC took over, and isotopes for biomedical research, cancer diagnostics and therapy were made in nuclear reactors and even became free of charge.

Australia was a bit slow to jump on the medical isotopes bandwagon. The Lucas Heights nuclear reactor began its life in 1958 as the start of a plan for nuclear weapons for Australia.Then it was promoted as research for nuclear power, and later as for making medical radiopharmaceuticals. Lucas Heights and ANSTO itself are very much part of the nuclear lobby’s plan to promote the entire nuclear industry in Australia.

Australia does not need a national radioactive waste dump for medical wastes. Nearly all medical radioactive wastes are very short-lived – a matter of days, or even hours. There is no need to transport them across the continent. Australia does have a problem with higher level wastes: Spent reactor fuel sent to France, USA and UK for processing must be returned. This is the type of waste that needs deep and very secure disposal. That is sure to be the underlying purpose of the South Australian waste dump plan.

The planned national radioactive waste dump will not benefit the local community. Yes, there will be bribes – so far, not much – a $2 million Community Benefit Package to fund local projects, but I’m sure that the Feds will come with better than that. Jobs, no doubt. However, the underlying problem remains. The community is being asked to accept a temporary nuclear waste dump, which is to be set up long before any permanent dump is set up, if it ever is. Kimba, the proposed dump site, is likely to suffer the fate of so many sad sites in America –stuck with “stranded wastes” of radioactive trash. Think what that would do to Kimba’s environment and reputation as an agricultural area.The nuclear lobby has argued persuasively that the Lucas Heights area has held nuclear wastes for decades. However, the Lucas Heights residents did not grasp the implications when the nuclear reactor was set up. They do now – that’s why they want the wastes sent far away.

The global nuclear lobby is fighting a losing battle. The industry has always struggled to win over public opinion. In Australia, the industry’s “foot in the door” is the Opal reactor at Lucas Heights. Following the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s failed attempt last year, to introduce radioactive waste importing, the next sortie is to use Lucas Heights to get a national nuclear waste dump happening. To justify this, the argument put forward is the medical argument.

In the slick salesmanship from ANSTO and the nuclear lobby in general, they don’t mind a few lies and half truths,. For example, they’ll say ” The most important isotope technetium-99m can be made only with nuclear reactors” – conveniently forgetting that Canadian researchers achieved this with a cyclotron in 2015.

They’ll say that cyclotrons are too expensive to set up, conveniently forgetting that the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor was set up at  tax-payer expense, and that tax-payer will have to fund its waste management virtually for eternity.

They’ll ignore the facts that cyclotrons produce negligible wastes.  As most medical radioisotopes have very short half lives – it makes sense to produce them in a decentralised way – in cyclotrons close to the hospitals where they will be used.  The transport of isotopes from cyclotrons is much less of a problem, than from the centralised nuclear reactor.

The nuclear reactor produces radioactive wastes suitable for use as nuclear weapons fuel –  and present a safety problem, with the reactor itself also a target for terrorism.  Cyclotrons do not have these risks, and this need for huge, and expensive security measures.

Canada, having abandoned nuclear reactor production of medical isotopes, is now leading the way in their production and export without use of a nuclear reactor.  ANSTO’s boast of a future thriving export industry in isotopes is sounding hollow.

We should bear in mind that medical radioisotopes are used 80% for diagnosis, and only 20% for actual treatment of cancer. They are an additional means of diagnosis, but not the only means.

We should also be mindful that radioactive isotopes in medicine carry a small increased risk of cancer for the patient, staff, and sometimes the patient’s family.

Therefore our enthusiasm for nuclear medicine should be tempered with an understanding of its limitations and risks, both at the individual patient level, and in the broader context of nuclear fission and its health and environmental dangers.

Jim Green debunks the hype about Generation IV “new nuclear”

September 4, 2017

James Hansen’s Generation IV nuclear fallacies and fantasies, REneweconomy, Jim Green, 28 Aug 2017,

The two young co-founders of nuclear engineering start-up Transatomic Power were embarrassed earlier this year when their claims about their molten salt reactor design were debunked, forcing some major retractions.

The claims of MIT nuclear engineering graduates Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie were trumpeted in MIT’s Technology Review under the headline, ‘What if we could build a nuclear reactor that costs half as much, consumes nuclear waste, and will never melt down?’

MIT physics professor Kord Smith debunked a number of Transatomic’s key claims. Smith says he asked Transatomic to run a test which, he says, confirmed that “their claims were completely untrue.”

Kennedy Maize wrote about Transatomic’s troubles in Power Magazine: “[T]his was another case of technology hubris, an all-to-common malady in energy, where hyperbolic claims are frequent and technology journalists all too credulous.” Pro-nuclear commentator Dan Yurman said that “other start-ups with audacious claims are likely to receive similar levels of scrutiny” and that it “may have the effect of putting other nuclear energy entrepreneurs on notice that they too may get the same enhanced levels of analysis of their claims.”

Well, yes, others making false claims about Generation IV reactor concepts might receive similar levels of scrutiny … or they might not. Arguably the greatest sin of the Transatomic founders was not that they inadvertently made false claims, but that they are young, and in Dewan’s case, female. Ageing men seem to have a free pass to peddle as much misinformation as they like without the public shaming that the Transatomic founders have been subjected to. A case in point is climate scientist James Hansen ‒ you’d struggle to find any critical commentary of his nuclear misinformation outside the environmental and anti-nuclear literature.

Hansen states that 115 new reactor start-ups would be required each year to 2050 to replace fossil fuel electricity generation ‒ a total of about 4,000 reactors. Let’s assume that Generation IV reactors do the heavy lifting, and let’s generously assume that mass production of Generation IV reactors begins in 2030. That would necessitate about 200 reactor start-ups per year from 2030 to 2050 ‒ or four every week. Good luck with that.

Moreover, the assumption that mass production of Generation IV reactors might begin in or around 2030 is unrealistic. A report by a French government authority, the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, states: “There is still much R&D to be done to develop the Generation IV nuclear reactors, as well as for the fuel cycle and the associated waste management which depends on the system chosen.”

Likewise, a US Government Accountability Office report on the status of small modular reactors (SMRs) and other ‘advanced’ reactor concepts in the US concluded: “Both light water SMRs and advanced reactors face additional challenges related to the time, cost, and uncertainty associated with developing, certifying or licensing, and deploying new reactor technology, with advanced reactor designs generally facing greater challenges than light water SMR designs. It is a multi-decade process …”

An analysis recently published in the peer-reviewed literature found that the US government has wasted billions of dollars on Generation IV R&D with little to show for it. Lead researcher Dr Ahmed Abdulla, from the University of California, said that “despite repeated commitments to non-light water reactors, and substantial investments … (more than $2 billion of public money), no such design is remotely ready for deployment today.”……  ,

Australia’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor is simply NOT NECESSARY for making medical isotopes

August 23, 2017
85% of ANSTO Lucas Heights isotope production is for Technetium 99. This can also be made in a cyclotron by using electricity – which makes NO Intermediate Level Waste & NO long lived LLW – thereby negating a national radioactive dump facility
Having the CRIC located on the same site as SAHMRI’s cyclotron will enable new shorter half-life compounds to be used in research. There are now several compounds being developed using the cyclotron for conditions such as dementia, cancer and cardiovascular disease which need to be tracked by advanced imaging machines.

State’s most advanced clinical imaging centre, worth $13m, opens at SAHMRI, Brad Crouch, Medical Reporter, The Advertiser February 15, 2017   THE growing South Australian Health and Biomedical Precinct takes another step forward today with the opening of the most advanced clinical imaging centre in the state.

The $13 million Clinical and Research Imaging Centre at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute has been established in partnership with Dr Jones and Partners Medical Imaging.

Space on the ground level of the SAHMRI building on North Terrace has become a Dr Jones & Partners clinic, with dedicated time allocated to SAHMRI researchers for clinical research without compromising the scheduling of patient treatments.

State-of-the-art imaging equipment in the centre includes CT, MRI and PET/CT platforms.

Officials say the arrangement is moving SAHMRI in a new direction of commercialisation with industry partners to create a facility to benefit researchers with the aim of improving the treatment and diagnosis of patients. (more…)

American nuclear front group propaganda in Australia

May 29, 2017
Todays’ AUSTRALIAN touts a nuclear promotion by Jessical Lovering:
“Jessica Lovering is director of energy at The Breakthrough Institute, a US environmental and energy think tank. She is visiting Australia to discuss nuclear innovation with energy policy experts, parliamentarians and government agencies.”
Just let’s be clear on who Jessica Lovering represents, and who is paying for her visit.
Well, the visit is paid for by  the Minerals Council of Australia, also sponsored by the breakthrough Institute.
The Breakthrough Institute is a pretend-environmental group that propagandises for new nuclear power It’s interesting that Jessica will be speaking in Sydney on May 30th, and in Adelaide on May 31st –   coincidentally, just as the Parliamentary Committe is about to give its blessing to Australia signing up to join in developing new :”Generation IV”  nuclear reactors
The Breakthrough Institute  launched the Breakthrough Energy Coalition at the start of the COP21 climate talks in Paris, with collective wealth of three hundred and fifty billion dollars.
The Breakthrough Institute is a billionaire’s club of “new nuclear” proponents, (to name just a few):
  • Bill Gates who owns Terra Power LLC,  a nuclear design and engineering company
  • Richard Branson, publicly touts nuclear energy and put his name on Pandora’s Promise as executive producer.
  • Mukesh Ambani an investor in Terra Power
  • Jeff Bezos investor in  nuclear fusion
  • Chris Hohn’s TCI hedge fund invested in J-Power, a Japanese utility company whose assets included nuclear power stations.
  • Vinod Khosla loves nuclear power and is on record blaming environmentalists rather than nuclear energy’s obviously disastrous economics, for its failure.Chinese billionaire
  • Jack Ma of Alibaba, involved in  China’s investment in the UK’s planned Hinkley-C nuclear power plant.
  • Ratan Tata  investing in nuclear energy in India