Archive for the ‘wastes’ 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

Advertisements

South Australian opinion polls consistently show rejection of nuclear waste dumping

January 14, 2018

AUSTRALIA’S RADIOACTIVE WASTE: WHAT TO DO WITH IT? WHERE TO PUT IT? WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? WHY KEEP PRODUCING IT?

December 16, 2017

 

by ENuFF(Everyone for a Nuclear Free Future SA) enuff.sa@gmail.com November 2017.In 2015 the SA Weatherill government established the SA NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION (RC). The following year, the government adopted 9 out of 12 of the RC’s recommendations including to expand uranium mining and to collaborate with the federal government on nuclear power developments. A proposal to remove the state’s Nuclear Waste Storage Prohibition Act and, thereby, allow the state to pursue an international highlevel radioactive waste (HLW) dump was not adopted.

Less publicised, the RC’s Report also recommended that the government pursue the disposal of Australia’s own radioactive waste in SA; hardly a novel idea! (Previous attempts have been made, and failed.) And, this recommendation was adopted.

Running in parallel with the RC; confusing many people, the federal government was, again, doing just that: seeking a ‘suitable site’ for shallow burial of decades of Australia’s accumulated low-level waste(LLW) and indefinite storage (co-location) of long-lived and highly hazardous intermediate-level waste (ILW).

A short list of three sites was selected; all in SA: one at Barndioota in the Flinders Ranges – traditional land of the Adnyamathanha people – and two sites at Kimba.

A decision about a final site in SA for the nation’s waste is imminent. State politicians are surprisingly mute about such an important decision. Clearly they do not want this issue raised in the forthcoming (March 2018) state election.

So where has Australia’s radioactive waste come from? Australia has been accumulating nuclear waste since the Cold War era of the late 1940’s. Initially, it is mostly this legacy waste that would be destined for a national waste dump.

During the post-World War 11 and Cold War decades,  Australia mined and milled uranium for US and UK bomb projects; provided sites at Monte Bello, Emu Fields and Maralinga for British atomic bomb tests; established a research reactor at Lucas Heights and developed the Woomera Rocket Range. The forerunner to the CSIRO and a number of nuclear physics research laboratories at universities, especially at the ANU, were also conducting nuclear-related research. The facilities mentioned above were developed in close collaboration with the UK’s quest to develop and test atomic weapons, and the means to deploy them. They all produced and/or stored radioactive waste. There was no thought about what to do with the waste.

Following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many in military and government circles considered that the next war would be fought with nuclear weapons.

Some influential Australian politicians and scientists considered that Australia, too, should eventually produce its own bombs and nuclear power reactors. For example secret work on centrifuge uranium enrichment technology, ostensibly, to reduce the ‘lead-time’ required to develop weapons, was being conducted by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC) in the 1960s. However, until now, apart from research reactors, such nuclear dreams have not yet come to fruition.

Since the 1970s after much controversy, a new era of uranium mining creating millions of tonnes of radioactive tailings has commenced; the oldest reactor at Lucas Heights(HIFAR) has been de-commissioned, the Moata reactor is due for decommissioning and a third reactor – the OPAL – has been built; all with no long-term plans for the waste.

A group of nuclear enthusiasts, undeterred by the intractable nature of nuclear waste and catastrophic nuclear accidents, is determined to take Australia further down the nuclear road. They wish for Australia to build nuclear power stations and nuclear submarines.

According to ANSTO (formerly AAEC), the organisation responsible for operating the Lucas Height’s OPAL research reactor, the nuclear isotopes currently being produced are for nuclear medicine; engineering; making our food more nutritious and undefined research. No reference is made about defence-related research, from either the past or present (ENuFF considers that at least 50% of Australia’s radioactive waste could have been created by defence activities. However, it is difficult to verify this.)

In spite of a backlog of decades of waste, no federal government has succeeded in persuading any community to willingly host either the LLW or the much more hazardous and long-lived ILW. Yet ANSTO is in the process of significantly expanding OPAL’s production of medical isotopes for export, thereby, increasing future highly hazardous spent fuel and reprocessed spent fuel waste.

Where is Australia’s waste currently located? It is estimated that there are around 100 sites; many of them in hospitals, universities and engineering businesses, generally holding very small amounts. Such wastes are the responsibility of the state in which they were used. But, the majority of the waste, both in terms of its quantity and level of radioactivity, is held at a number of federally controlled sites including Lucas Heights, Woomera, Radium Hill, Maralinga, St Mary’s in suburban Sydney and Amberley Air Force Base. Waste from these sites is a federal responsibility.

Like a dirty old can being kicked down the road, Australia’s radioactive waste has been moved from one temporary site to the next: for example, waste stored at Derrimut near Melbourne was shifted to St Mary’s in suburban Sydney. From St Mary’s it was moved to Woomera. CSIRO waste from Fisherman’s Bend was moved to Lucas Heights and, after three years, moved again to Woomera, where it has been ‘temporarily’ stored for the past 23 years.

And how is the waste being managed? Records for some of it are lost. Aircraft washings, following the atomic bomb tests, ended up in the Pacific Ocean. Waste from the first decade of Lucas Height’s operation was buried on site. Radioactive valves were buried in old paint tins at Derrimut. At Hunters Hill it was simply forgotten, until rediscovered when building work on a new development commenced there. The Fisherman’s Bend waste is currently stored in 10.000 corroding metal drums housed in a tin shed at Woomera, where the Defence Department doesn’t want it, and where it is leaking Radium-226. Uranium tailings exist in massive and growing quantities; they are stored in ‘dams’ which leak into surrounding soils and ground water when wet, or are blown away when dry and powdery. Uranium tailings, like higher levels of waste, remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.

Meanwhile, the English routinely release waste into the Irish Sea and wanted to wash their hands of the Maralinga site. The Americans have polluted many sites: the Colorado River, Hanford, swathes of Nevada and the Marshall Islands to name just a few. The Russians, too, have a long history of radioactive pollution, most infamously the poisoning of Belarus and Ukraine from the Chernobyl disaster, and the Mayak region from their bomb programme. The Japanese do not know what to do with waste from their nuclear reactors, let alone from the Fukushima multiple melt-downs, that is, apart from releasing it into the Pacific Ocean.

Would a permanent dump for Australia’s LLW waste at Barndioota or Kimba be any better managed? Who Knows? But the highly hazardous waste, including reprocessed spent fuel classified by ANSTO as ILW but by France as HLW, would be kicked further down the road and stored ‘temporarily’ at the proposed national dump. There it would remain, until a permanent repository for hundreds of thousands of years is planned and built hundreds of metres below the ground.

The federal government insists that many other countries have successfully resolved their radioactive waste issues. But, they have not. Why else is there ongoing interest in the establishment of an international waste dump in Australia as recommended by the RC? A national radioactive dump could well become an opportunity to leapfrog into just such an international waste project, as proposed by state Liberal Party adviser Richard Yeeles.

STOP PRODUCING THE WASTE, ONLY THEN WILL WE TALK ABOUT WHAT TO DO WITH IT

 

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.

Western Australian offer to host radioactive trash – unaware that it’s nuclear waste.

November 25, 2017

Is Mr Baker ignorant, or disingenuous?

In his enthusiasm Mr Baker seems unaware that the processed nuclear waste returning from France is classified there as high level waste. The proposed dump for radioactive wastes in outback Australia is obviously intended to store those long-lasting toxic wastes. Australia’s nuclear reactor in Lucas Heights, Sydney produces these dangerous wastes, just the same as any other nuclear reactor.

The Leonora man behind plan for a radioactive waste dump in outback WA, ABC Goldfields ,By Jarrod Lucas, 23 Nov 17,  A mining entrepreneur who came to WA’s northern Goldfields during the 1960s nickel boom is behind a new bid to develop an outback repository to store the nation’s radioactive waste.

The Shire of Leonora this week voted 5-2 in favour of joining forces with a private company, headed by former councillor Glenn Baker, to make a bid for Commonwealth funding to fast-track the project.

The council sought legal advice and waited until after last month’s local government elections before voting on the proposal to store medical, industrial and scientific waste underground.

The proposed site is on Clover Downs pastoral station, about 20 kilometres north-west of Leonora……..

Conflict of interest was a deal breaker for council

Mr Baker is a director of Azark Project Proprietary Limited alongside his business partner, Perth-based corporate lawyer and mining executive Peter Remta, with whom he has developed several gold mining projects since the 1980s.

The 79-year-old was behind a previous proposal for a waste storage site that failed to progress in 2015, and he quit the council last month after more than 30 years because of the conflict of interest.

“Now there is no conflict of interest, but it did come up a few times and I left the meetings on those occasions,” he said………

Residents could be offered shares in waste company

Mr Baker flagged the possibility of Leonora residents eventually being given the opportunity to invest in the company.

He described as “mind-boggling” the funds being dangled by the Federal Government, which has been searching for a site to establish a national radioactive waste management facility for more than a decade……

Sites in South Australia and the Northern Territory have been considered, but lengthy environmental assessments and community consultation mean a final decision is not expected until next year…….

Sites in South Australia and the Northern Territory have been considered, but lengthy environmental assessments and community consultation mean a final decision is not expected until next year……..

Traditional landowner Vicky Abdullah said she had previously organised a petition with 500 signatures opposing the project.

“From my point of view, they can do it somewhere else, not in Leonora,” she said.

Ms Abdullah said the local Indigenous community was yet to be effectively consulted about the revived proposal.

Environmentalists opposed to facility in outback WA

Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney said it was a long way from a “bad council decision” to a national radioactive waste dump in outback WA.

“It is pretty much radioactive groundhog day,” he said.

“It’s come up before in Leonora, and there was a strong and negative response from many there in the community.

“I’m obviously disappointed Leonora has put itself back in this frame, because it’s a divisive place to be.”

Mr Sweeney suggested it would not just be for low-level radioactive material.

“This has nothing to do with nuclear medicine, and everything to do with the operations of the Lucas Heights reactor,” he said.

Mr Baker disputed that point, saying it was one of the misconceptions about what was being proposed.

“People are confused when we talk about radiation … this is not a nuclear waste disposal facility,” he said.

“Australia does not have a nuclear industry, so has no nuclear waste to bury. That’s uranium 235 which is used in atomic bombs, powerhouses etc.

“This is another isotope of uranium and has a much shorter decay life, some of it only a matter of months, and it’s not to be confused with nuclear-powered radiation like Chernobyl and Fukushima.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-23/leonora-man-behind-plan-for-radioactive-waste-dump-in-outback-wa/9184020?pfmredir=sm&amp%3Bsf174104777=1

Australia’s National Radioactive Waste Management Facility  – the obvious place is Lucas Heights

November 18, 2017

Gary See Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, November 15  

ANSTO at Lucas Heights are supposedly short of space to keep radioactive waste, but they are literally next door to a landfill site that is near to being closed. Anyone know if they’ve ever considered building a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility  there?
It would seem a logical place for it.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/

Australian government plans high level nuclear wastes for rural South Australia, but doesn’t tell the public

November 18, 2017

Tim Bickmore Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/  November 15 

What the Barndioota Consultative Committee was presented in August 2017 regarding the nature of material storage in the proposed suppository. The guidelines (Waste Acceptance Criteria = WAC) are yet to be formalised, so we are expected to accept the unknown.
No reference to the decommissioned HIFAR & MOATA Reactors demolition waste – hunks of steel & concrete of unknown volume – & no mention of returned processed fuel.
http://www.radioactivewaste.gov.au/…/4.%20WAC%20presentatio…

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

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

South Australian couple Brett and Michelle Rayner thrilled at thought of hosting nuclear waste dump on their land

August 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 13, 2017

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

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

Senator LUDLAM: Ouch!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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