Nuclear issues

February 6, 2015

Informational items on various aspects of the nuclear industry

nuke-hazards

Carbon emissions from nuclear reactor

August 22, 2016

Carbon-14 is produced in coolant at boiling water reactors (BWRs) and pressurized water reactors (PWRs). It is typically released to the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide at BWRs, and methane at PWRs. EPRI | Product Abstract | Impact of Nuclear Power Plant Operations on Carbon-14 Generation, Chemical Forms, and Release”. www.epri.com.

Some even more disturbing numbers on the South Australian nuclear waste import plan

June 12, 2016

Kim Mavromatis  10 June 16 MORE NUMBERS – 138,000 tonnes of high level nuclear waste in 69,000 high level radioactive waste canisters equates to a permanent underground nuclear waste dump size of around 112 square kms or 5,500 Adelaide ovals, 400 metres underground – and that’s not taking into consideration the 470,000 m3 of low and intermediate level nuclear waste.

You can’t seriously tell me they will be able to build one nuclear waste dump that big?? in ground where there is no seismic activity in SA. Say yes to one and we will have many – say yes to one and we will end up with a toxic white elephant that will do us in or an economic white elephant that will do us in.

South Australia nuclear waste import plan would need a dump nearly 30 times larger than Finland’s waste dump

June 12, 2016

Kim Mavromatis, 10 June 16  THE NUMBERS TELL A STORY
At the Royal Commission NFC event at the Hawke Centre in Adelaide (Wed June 1), Kevin Scarce made reference to Finland’s permanent underground high level Nuclear Waste dump, currently being built at Onkalo, which will have a capacity of 5,000 to 10,000 tonnes. Onkalo is featured in the must see doco “Into Eternity”(https://vimeo.com/111398583). The Royal Commission NFC final report specifies a capacity of 138,000 tonnes of high level nuclear waste for the proposed Nuclear Waste dump in SA and Kevin Scarce highlighted this figure at the Hawke Centre Nuclear event.

Comparing the Nuclear Royal Commission numbers with Onkalo, it’s clear that the proposed Nuclear Waste dump in SA will be of mammoth proportions.

Onkalo (Finland), permanent underground high level Nuclear Waste Dump :
• Capacity 5,000 to 10,000 tonnes high level nuclear waste,
• or 2,500 to 5,000 high level nuclear waste canisters.

Proposed SA Nuclear Waste Dump :
• Capacity 138,000 tonnes high level nuclear waste or 69,000 high level nuclear waste canisters.
• Capacity 390,000 m3 intermediate nuclear waste.
• Capacity 81,000 m3 low level nuclear waste.
• Above Ground Temporary facility Capacity 72,000 tonnes high level nuclear waste.
• Above Ground Temporary facility Capacity 175,000 m3 Intermediate nuclear waste.

Just for high level nuclear waste alone, it will require a waste dump 14 to 28 times the size of Onkalo (69,000 high level nuclear waste canisters). And for decades, half of the high level nuclear waste will be stored above ground in a temporary facility. Imagine the risk of nuclear holocaust with all that high level nuclear waste in the one location?

And the preferred site for the proposed Federal govnt’s low and intermediate level nuclear waste dump, in the Flinders Ranges, is in an area where there is regular earthquake activity.

How smart are these people?????

I suspect if the state govnt say yes to one Nuclear Waste Dump (low, intermediate, high), the floodgates will open and there won’t just be one Nuclear Waste Dump site in South Australia, there will be many (50, 100 ????). And saying yes in SA will also open the floodgates to the rest of Australia. And I question whether they’ll stop at 138,000 tonnes (69,000 canisters) of high level nuclear waste????? If the state govnt takes us down this path and we become the world’s nuclear waste dump, there is no turning back

Humungous amount of nuclear waste targeted for importing to Australia

June 12, 2016

Nuclear Waste Brief by David Noonan, Independent Environment Campaigner.  3 June 16   An un-declared Australia port is targeted to receive a globally unprecedented scale of high level nuclear waste transport and shipping, facing some 100 000 tonnes of SNF waste over a circa 33 year period of proposed peak Nuclear port operations from project Year 11 to Year 45 (Jacobs MCM, Executive Summary, Figure 3 Timeline of spent fuel transfers, p.5).

This is some 25 per cent higher than the global total of 80 000 tonnes of SNF waste shipped around the world in a 45 year period since 1971 according to the World Nuclear Association report “Transport of Radioactive Materials(Sept 2015) and the Jacobs MCM consultancy (p.152).

A total of 30 000 tonnes of high level nuclear wastes were shipped to the UK Sellafield reprocessing facility and a total of 40 000 tonnes was shipped to the French La Hague reprocessing facility, by far the world’s largest nuclear ports, in the 45 year period since 1971 (WNA report).

An undeclared Australian port is targeted to take over three times the total tonnage of high level nuclear waste shipped to Sellafield and two and a half times the total tonnage shipped to La Hague.

Some 400 waste ships of high level nuclear waste, totalling 90 000 tonnes SNF waste and requiring 9 000 transport casks, are to be brought into Australia in a 30 year period of peak port operations.

In a comparable 30 year period, there were some 160 high level nuclear waste shipments from Japan to Europe from 1969 to late 1990’s, totalling 7 040 tonnes SNF waste and involving some 4 000 nuclear waste transport casks (WNA report).

Sweden has shipped over 4 500 tonnes SNF waste around the Swedish coast to their CLAB central interim storage facility by mid-2015 (WNA report). Australia is proposed to do so every 18 months.

Questions on the location of a Nuclear port and on the safety of waste shipments:

The SA State government must publicly explain the basis for the farcical claim made by Jacobs MCM (Introduction p.11) of “an abundance of locations” suitable for deep sea Nuclear port sites in SA.

Is a new deep sea Nuclear port and high level SNF waste storage site to be imposed in the coastal region south of Whyalla? Or as reported in The Australian “World’s nuke waste may pass through NT, SA(12 May 2016): Is the Port of Darwin also in the Nuclear target range?

The Final Report Concludes: “…if a cask was lost at sea and was irrecoverable, there is a potential for some members of the public consuming locally sourced seafood to receive a very small dose of radiation”; and Concludes that terrorist attack scenarios are conceivable and rocket attack has the greatest potential to cause a release of radiation (Appendix L – Transport risk analysis p.312).

A further Jacobs MCM desk top Concludes that radioactivity that escapes from an unrecovered and degrading cask is expected “to be diluted in thousands of cubic kilometres of seawater” (“Safety and risks in the transportation of radioactive material to and from Australia”, April 2016, p.50). see http://www.nodumpalliance.org.au/

Australian Labor Party Policy opposed to nuclear industry

June 12, 2016

2015 National Policy Platform states:

  1. Labor will:
  • Vigorously and totally oppose the ocean dumping of radioactive waste; 
  • Prohibit the establishment of nuclear power plants and all other stages of the nuclear fuel cycle in Australia; 
  • Fully meet all Australia’s obligations as a party to the NPT; and 
  • Remain strongly opposed to the importation and storage of nuclear waste that is sourced from overseas in Australia.

It would be good if people could contact Butlers office and welcome this comment. And as many as possible contact Labor contacts, candidates and connections to make them aware of this and call for them to echo it.

Australia’s uranium industry foundering – ?nearly dead

June 12, 2016

Australia’s uranium industry is also struggling just to stand still. The industry accounts for just 0.2 percent of national export revenue and less than 0.01 percent of all jobs in Australia. Those underwhelming figures are likely to become even less whelming with the end of mining and the winding down of processing at the Ranger mine in the NT.

Uranium on the rocks http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18236&page=0

 

By Jim Green , 17 May 2016 Indicative of the uranium industry’s worldwide malaise, mining giant Cameco recently announced the suspension of production at Rabbit Lake and reduced production at McArthur River/Key Lake in Canada. Cameco is also curtailing production at its two U.S. uranium mines. About 500 jobs will be lost at Rabbit Lake and 85 at the U.S. mines. A Cameco statement said that “with today’s oversupplied market and uncertainty as to how long these market conditions will persist, we need to focus our resources on our lowest cost assets and maintain a strong balance sheet.”Christopher Ecclestone, mining strategist at Hallgarten & Company, offered this glum assessment of the uranium market: “The long-held theory during the prolonged mining sector slump was that Uranium as an energy metal could potentially break away irrespective of the rest of the metals space. How true they were, but not in the way they intended, for just as the mining space has broken out of its swoon the Uranium price has not only been left behind but has gone into reverse. This is truly dismaying for the trigger for a uranium rebound was supposed to be the Japanese nuclear restart and yet it has had zero effect and indeed maybe has somehow (though the logic escapes us) resulted in a lower price.”Ecclestone adds that uranium has “made fools and liars of many in recent years, including ourselves” and that “uranium bulls know how Moses felt when he was destined to wander forty years in the desert and never get to see the Promised Land.” He states that uranium exploration “is for the birds” because “the market won’t fund it and investors won’t give credit for whatever you find”.

The Minerals Council of Australia launched a pro-uranium social media campaign last month. The twitter hashtag #untappedpotential was soon trending but – as an AAP piece noted – contributors were overwhelmingly critical. No doubt the Minerals Council anticipated the negative publicity but what it didn’t anticipate is the uranium price falling to an 11-year low. Mining.com noted in an April 20 article that the current low price hasn’t been seen since May 2005. The current price, under US26/lb, is well under half the price just before the 2011 Fukushima disaster, and under one-fifth of the 2007 peak of a bubble.

Mining.com quotes a Haywood Securities research note which points out that the spot uranium price “saw three years of back-to-back double-digit percentage losses from 2011-13, but none worse than what we’ve seen thus far in 2016, and at no point since Fukushima, did the average weekly spot price dip below $28 a pound.” Haywood Securities notes that an over-supplied market continues to inflate global inventories.

Mining.comnotes that five years after the Fukushima disaster, only two of Japan’s nuclear reactors are back online (and yet another permanent reactor closure was announced on May 15), and that in other developed markets nuclear power is also in retreat. The last reactor start-up in the U.S. was 20 years ago. The French Parliament legislated last year to reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear power by one-third. Germany is phasing out nuclear power, as are several other countries. The European Commission recently released a report predicting that the EU’s nuclear power retreat ‒ down 14% over the past decade ‒ will continue.

China is a growth market but has amassed a “staggering” stockpile of yellowcake according to Macquarie Bank. India’s nuclear power program is in a “deep freeze” according to the Hindustan Times (unfortunately the same cannot be said about its nuclear weapons program), while India’s energy minister Piyush Goyal said on April 20 that India is not in a “tearing hurry” to expand nuclear power since there are unresolved questions about cost, safety and liability waivers sought by foreign companies.

A decision on two planned reactors in the UK could be announced in the near future and the cost – A$48 billion for the two reactors – goes a long way to explaining nuclear power’s worldwide stagnation. If the project proceeds, the industry will be hoping it doesn’t go three times over budget and lag 5-9 years behind schedule, as reactor projects in France and Finland have.

Even if all of Japan’s 42 reactors are included in the count, the number of power reactors operating worldwide is the same now as it was a decade ago. And there is little likelihood that nuclear power will break out of its long stagnation in the foreseeable future, with the ageing of the global reactor fleet a growing problem for the industry. As former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd noted earlier this year: “The future is likely to repeat the experience of 2015 when 10 new reactors came into operation worldwide but 8 shut down. So as things stand, the industry is essentially running to stand still.”

Australia’s uranium industry is also struggling just to stand still. The industry accounts for just 0.2 percent of national export revenue and less than 0.01 percent of all jobs in Australia. Those underwhelming figures are likely to become even less whelming with the end of mining and the winding down of processing at the Ranger mine in the NT.

South Australia’s government will want to impose nuclear waste importing, whatever the citizens think

June 12, 2016
Ultimately it will be a decision for the Government to make, however this process will enable us to have an informed debate and gain a clear understanding of the community’s position on this important matter for our State’s future.
 
Premier Jay Weatherill Thursday, 11 May 2016
  
Community views critical to our State’s nuclear future 
Letters to 25,000 randomly selected South Australians will be received in the post tomorrow inviting them to take part in the first Citizens’ Jury, part of a comprehensive state-wide program on our State’s involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.
The first Jury, involving approximately 50 people, will be asked to determine the key questions arising from the Royal Commission’s Final Report that South Australians should consider and discuss in the next phase of state-wide consultation.
 This Jury will meet over two weekends, on 25 and 26 June as well as 9 and 10 July, and members will be remunerated for their time.
Background This marks the first of three phases in the consultation process, following the release of the Final Report of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission:
1. The first Citizens’ Jury (50 people) will determine key questions the community should consider and discuss during the consultation phase.
2. All South Australians will then be given a chance to respond via community meetings, information centres, social media and online engagement, a free-call number and a specific consultation program for Aboriginal people.
A second Citizens’ Jury (350 people) – will then produce a report to the Government outlining the community’s position.
The State Government will then outline its position on South Australia’s involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle by the end of the year
The Royal Commission has identified that South Australia can safely increase its participation in the nuclear fuel cycle to deliver significant economic benefits to the State.
The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission was established in March last year to consider the practical, economic and ethical issues raised by South Australia’s deeper potential involvement in nuclear mining, enrichment, energy and storage.
The Final Report of the Royal Commission was delivered to the Government on Friday 6 May, and publicly released on Monday 9 May.
The report makes 12 key recommendations regarding the deepening of South Australia’s involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle, including pursuing the establishment of nuclear fuel and intermediate level waste storage facilities in South Australia
To download the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s Final Report and register to stay informed, visit www.yoursay.sa.gov.au/nuclear.
Quotes attributable to Premier Jay Weatherill
This first Citizens’ Jury will guide the debate by identifying the key issues that need to be considered during the state-wide consultation phase.
This Jury will consider the findings of the Royal Commission, and have access to expert witnesses to help them work through the issues and better understand the options.
All South Australians will have the opportunity to have their say, as we will be conducting a state-wide engagement program following the first Citizens’ Jury.
Ultimately it will be a decision for the Government to make, however this process will enable us to have an informed debate and gain a clear understanding of the community’s position on this important matter for our State’s future

South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission – a sham from the beginning

June 12, 2016

There is no logical reason to believe that the SA government would perform any better than the U.S. government. On the contrary, there are good reasons to believe that nuclear waste management would be more difficult here given that the U.S. has vastly more nuclear waste management expertise and experience than Australia.

SA nuclear Royal Commission is a snow job Jim Green, 29 April 2016 http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/sa-nuclear-royal-commission-is-a-snow-job-18368

The South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (RC) will release its final report on May 6. It was established to investigate opportunities for SA to expand its role in the nuclear industry beyond uranium mining.

Before his appointment as the Royal Commissioner, Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce said little about nuclear issues but what he did say should have excluded him from consideration. Speaking in November 2014 at a Flinders University guest lecture, Scarceacknowledged being an “an advocate for a nuclear industry”. Just four months later, after his appointment as the Royal Commissioner, he said the exact opposite: “I have not been an advocate and never have been an advocate of the nuclear industry.”

Other than generalisations, and his acknowledgement that he is a nuclear advocate, Scarce’s only comment of substance on nuclear issues in his 2014 lecture was to claim that work is “well underway” on a compact fusion reactor “small enough to fit in a truck”, that it “may be less than a decade away” and could produce power “without the risk of Fukushima-style meltdowns.” Had he done just a little research, Scarce would have learnt that Lockheed Martin’s claims about its proposed compact fusion reactor were met with universal scepticism and ridicule by scientists and even by nuclear industry bodies.

So the SA government appointed Scarce as Royal Commissioner despite knowing that he is a nuclear advocate who has uncritically promoted discredited claims by the nuclear industry. Scarce appointed an Expert Advisory Committee. Despiteclaiming that he was conducting a “balanced” RC, he appointed three nuclear advocates to the Committee and just one critic. The bias is all too apparent and Scarce’s claim to be conducting a balanced inquiry is demonstrably false.

Given the make-up of the RC, it came as no surprise that numerous questionable claims by the nuclear industry were repeated in the RC’sinterim report released in February. A detailed critique of the interim report is available online, as is acritique of the RC process.

The RC’s interim report was actually quite downbeat about the economic prospects for a nuclear industry in SA. It notes that the market for uranium conversion and enrichment services is oversupplied and that a spent fuel reprocessing plant would not be commercially viable. The interim report also states that “it would not be commercially viable to generate electricity from a nuclear power plant in South Australia in the foreseeable future.”

In a nutshell, the RC rejected proposals for SA to play any role in the nuclear fuel cycle beyond uranium mining. But that still leaves the option of SA offering to store and dispose of foreign high-level nuclear waste (HLW) and the RC strongly promotes a plan to import 138,000 tonnes of HLW for storage and deep underground disposal.

 SA as the world’s nuclear waste dump The RC insists that a nuclear waste storage and dumping business could be carried out safely. But would it be carried out safely? The RC ought to have considered evidence that can be drawn upon to help answer the question, especially since Kevin Scarce has repeatedly insisted that he is running an evidence-based inquiry.

So what sort of evidence might be considered? The experience of the world’s one and only deep underground nuclear waste dump ‒ the Waste Isolation Pilot Plan (WIPP) in the U.S. ‒ is clearly relevant. And Australia’s past experience with nuclear waste management is clearly relevant, with the clean-up of nuclear waste at the Maralinga nuclear test site in SA being an important case study.

But the RC completely ignores all this evidence in its interim report. We can only assume that the evidence is ignored because it raises serious doubts about the environmental and public health risks associated with the proposal to import, store and dispose of HLW.

WIPP is a case study of a sharp decline in safety and regulatory standards over a short space of time. A chemical explosion in a nuclear waste barrel in February 2014 was followed by a failure of the filtration system, resulting in 22 workers receiving small doses of radiation and widespread contamination in the underground caverns. WIPP has been shut down for the two years since the accident. Costs associated with the accident are likely to exceed US$500 million. A U.S. government report details the many failings of the operator and the regulator.

At a public meeting in Adelaide Town Hall in February 2016, Scarce said that WIPP was ignored in the RC interim report because it involved different waste forms (long-lived intermediate-level waste) of military origin. In fact, the waste that the RC recommends that SA import is vastly more hazardous than the waste managed at WIPP, so Scarce’s argument is hard to fathom.

Moreover the RC has overlooked the fundamental lesson from the WIPP fiasco – initially high safety and regulatory standards gave way to complacency, cost-cutting and corner-cutting in the space of just 10–15 years. The RC notes that HLW “requires isolation from the environment for many hundreds of thousands of years”. How can Scarce be confident that high safety and regulatory standards would be maintained over centuries and millennia when WIPP shows that the half-life of human complacency, cost-cutting and corner-cutting is measured in years or at most decades?

There is no logical reason to believe that the SA government would perform any better than the U.S. government. On the contrary, there are good reasons to believe that nuclear waste management would be more difficult here given that the U.S. has vastly more nuclear waste management expertise and experience than Australia.

While completely ignoring the world’s one and only existing deep underground nuclear waste dump, the RC talks at length about deep underground repositories under construction in Finland and Sweden. According to the RC’s interim report, those two countries “have successfully developed long-term domestic solutions” for nuclear waste. But in fact, neither country has completed construction of a repository let alone demonstrated safe operation over any length of time.

Mismanagement of radioactive waste in SA

The RC has also ignored the mismanagement of radioactive waste in SA. A radioactive waste repository at Radium Hill, for example, “is not engineered to a standard consistent with current internationally accepted practice” according to a 2003 SA government audit. And the ‘clean-up’ of nuclear waste at the Maralinga nuclear test site in the late 1990s was a fiasco:

  • Nuclear engineer Alan Parkinson said of the ‘clean-up’: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.” (See Parkinson’s videos here and here.)
  • Scientist Dale Timmons said the government’s technical report was littered with “gross misinformation”.
  • Dr Geoff Williams, an officer with the Commonwealth nuclear regulator ARPANSA, said that the ‘clean-up’ was beset by a “host of indiscretions, short-cuts and cover-ups”.
  • Nuclear physicist Prof. Peter Johnston (now with ARPANSA) noted that there were “very large expenditures and significant hazards resulting from the deficient management of the project”.

The RC’s interim report claims that “South Australia has a unique combination of attributes which offer a safe, long-term capability for the disposal of used fuel”. But SA has a track record of mismanaging radioactive waste (Radium Hill, Maralinga, etc.) and no experience managing HLW. The RC’s claim that SA has “a mature and stable political, social and economic structure” needs to be considered in the context of the longevity of nuclear waste. Australia has had one profound political revolution in the past 250 years (European invasion) and is on track for 1,200 political revolutions over the 300,000-year lifespan of nuclear waste.

Economics

The RC’s interim report presents speculative and implausible figures regarding potential profits from a nuclear waste storage and dumping industry. The Australia Institute crunched the numbers presented in the interim report and wrote a detailed factual rebuttal. Scarce responded on ABC radio on 31 March 2016 by saying that the RC will “take apart” the Australia Institute’s report “piece by piece”. When asked if such an aggressive attitude was appropriate, Scarce said: “I’m a military officer, what would you expect?”

And that says all that anyone needs to know about Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce and his Royal Commission. Critics are taken apart piece by piece, or ignored altogether. On the other hand, Scarce uncritically repeats Lockheed Martin’s discredited claims about its ‘compact fusion reactor’ and the RC’s interim report repeats many other nuclear industry falsehoods. Scarce ignores the mismanagement of radioactive waste in SA (Radium Hill, Maralinga etc.) and he ignores the failure of the world’s only deep underground nuclear waste dump while claiming that Sweden and Finland “have successfully developed long-term domestic solutions” by partially building deep underground dumps.

A year ago the Adelaide Advertiser published a Friends of the Earth letter likening the RC to a circus and Kevin Scarce to a clown. Events over the past year have only confirmed the illegitimacy of the RC. The RC’s bias would be comical if the stakes weren’t so high, particularly for Aboriginal people in the firing line for a HLW dump.

The Aboriginal Congress of South Australia endorsed the following resolution at an August 2015 meeting:

“We, as native title representatives of lands and waters of South Australia, stand firmly in opposition to nuclear developments on our country, including all plans to expand uranium mining, and implement nuclear reactors and nuclear waste dumps on our land. We view any further expansion of industry as an imposition on our country, our people, our environment, our culture and our history. We also view it as a blatant disregard for our rights under various legislative instruments, including the founding principles of this state.”

The Aboriginal-led Australian Nuclear Free Alliance is asking organisations in Australia and around the world to endorse a statement opposing the plan to turn SA into the world’s nuclear waste dump. Organisations can endorse the statement online at www.anfa.org.au/sign-the-declaration

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, Australia.

The Australian government and “low level” nuclear waste

June 12, 2016

  What should the government do about LLILW?

 First, the government needs to carry out a thorough audit/inventory of LLILW, considering the following issues:

  • volume/mass and radioactivity of LLILW at each current storage site;
  • whether waste production is ongoing at each particular site and if so, whether storage capacity has been reached or is approaching and if so, whether increasing storage capacity is an option;
  • nature and adequacy/inadequacy of current storage conditions;
  • nature and adequacy/inadequacy of institutional control.

 Second, the government should initiate a thorough, transparent process to consider all options for management of LLILW. There is no logical reason for the initiation of that process to wait until “the National Facility Project is underway” as the government now states. The delay is not only illogical, it also feeds uncertainty and suspicion.

What does the government plan to do with long-lived intermediate-level waste (LLILW)?

 Jim Green, Friends of the Earth, 8/3/2016. Here is the government’s formal position (8/3/16 email from Department of Industry, Innovation and Science):

“Australia’s current management approach toward long-lived intermediate-level waste is for long-term above ground storage pending future disposal. The preferred option for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, as identified in the Initial Business Case, provides for the centralised management of intermediate-level waste in a purpose-built storage facility. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science will undertake a detailed consideration of disposal pathways for Australian generated intermediate level waste once the National Facility Project is underway.”

What is the government really planning?

1.  The government is already considering deep borehole disposal of LLILW. It might be at intermediate depth, perhaps 200 metres underground.

2. Deep borehole disposal of LLILW could possibly be pursued at the same site as a shallow repository for lower-level radioactive waste. That option is floated in an ARPANSA document (see below).

3. Or the government could go in a very different direction – a stand-alone shallow repository for lower-level wastes withoutco-location of a LLILW store (or a deep borehole for LLILW disposal). Government representatives have said in public meetings that ILW would not be moved to the shallow repository site (for above-ground storage) for 10-20-30 years after the shallow repository is established, and presumably the reason for that is that the government is considering alternative options (borehole disposal at a different site, or perhaps above-ground storage at a different site). Or perhaps the statement that ILW wouldn’t be moved to the site for 10-20-30 years isn’t true, or at least it certainly isn’t locked in, and it is simply designed to quell public opposition.

4. Even if the government does decide that borehole disposal of LLILW is the best way forward, it would likely take decades to progress that project. So above-ground storage of LLILW for many decades at the same site as the shallow repository remains a distinct possibility.

5. The government must be considering the potential to reduce opposition to a shallow repository for lower-level wastes by separating that project completely from its half-baked plans for LLILW. That separation could be enshrined in the MoU that the government plans to establish with the host community for the shallow repository. It could also be enshrined in legislation.

That separation might indeed reduce public opposition, although it wasn’t effective in SA in the early 2000s. From 1998–2003, the Howard government planned co-location, and by the time it reversed that position and decided to separate management of lower level wastes from LLILW, opposition was so entrenched and widespread that it made little difference. The Howard government established a National Store Committee to develop plans for LLILW disposal, but it was disbanded in 2004, at the same time as the government abandoned its plan to impose a repository for lower-level wastes in SA………

What should the government do about LLILW?

First, the government needs to carry out a thorough audit/inventory of LLILW, considering the following issues:

  • volume/mass and radioactivity of LLILW at each current storage site;
  • whether waste production is ongoing at each particular site and if so, whether storage capacity has been reached or is approaching and if so, whether increasing storage capacity is an option;
  • nature and adequacy/inadequacy of current storage conditions;
  • nature and adequacy/inadequacy of institutional control.

Second, the government should initiate a thorough, transparent process to consider all options for management of LLILW. There is no logical reason for the initiation of that process to wait until “the National Facility Project is underway” as the government now states. The delay is not only illogical, it also feeds uncertainty and suspicion.

……………………………….

8 March 2016

Hello,

Thank you for email, and ongoing interest in the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.

Australia has a comparatively small volume of long-lived intermediate-level waste. No country with a similar volume of waste has moved towards disposal.

Australia’s current management approach toward long-lived intermediate-level waste is for long-term above ground storage pending future disposal. The preferred option for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, as identified in the Initial Business Case, provides for the centralised management of intermediate-level waste in a purpose-built storage facility. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science will undertake a detailed consideration of disposal pathways for Australian generated intermediate level waste once the National Facility Project is underway.

Kind Regards,

The National Radioactive Waste Management Project Department of Industry, Innovation and Science GPO Box 9839, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia

Ph: 02 6243 7030 or toll free 1800 682 704

Email: radioactivewaste@industry.gov.au

Internet: www.radioactivewaste.gov.au

Fukushima’s nuclear disaster reactors were fuelled by Australian uranium

June 11, 2016

Fukushima five years on, and the lessons we failed to learn, Guardian, Dave Sweeney, 11 Mar 16 “…….In October 2011 it was formally confirmed to the Australian parliament that not only was Australian uranium routinely sold to the corner-cutting Tepco but that a load of true blue yellowcake was fuelling the Fukushima complex at the time of the disaster. Australian radioactive rocks were the source of Fukushima’s fallout.

Surely after directly fuelling disaster Australia would have taken some steps to review and possibly reconsider our role in the global nuclear trade?

The UN thought so. In September 2011 the UN secretary-general called on Australia to conduct “an in-depth assessment of the net cost impact of the impacts of mining fissionable material on local communities and ecosystems”.

This has never happened. It needs to, and Australia’s uranium sector deserves some long overdue scrutiny.

The most recent independent assessment of the Australian uranium industry – a Senate inquiry in October 2003 – found the sector characterised by underperformance and non-compliance, an absence of reliable data to measure contamination or its impact on the environment and an operational culture focussed on short term considerations…….http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/11/fukushima-five-years-on-and-the-lessons-we-failed-to-learn


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