Archive for March, 2020

Global heating is intensifying a rare natural phenomenon that brings severe drought to Australia.

March 10, 2020

A rare natural phenomenon brings severe drought to Australia. Climate change is making it more common, The Conversation, Nicky Wright, Research Fellow, Australian National University, Bethany Ellis, PhD Candidate, Australian National University, Nerilie Abram, Professor; ARC Future Fellow; Chief Investigator for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, Australian National University, March 10, 2020 

Weather-wise, 2019 was a crazy way to end a decade. Fires spread through much of southeast Australia, fuelled by dry vegetation from the ongoing drought and fanned by hot, windy fire weather.

On the other side of the Indian Ocean, torrential rainfall and flooding devastated parts of eastern Africa. Communities there now face a locust plague and food shortages.

These intense events can partly be blamed on the extreme positive Indian Ocean Dipole, a climate phenomenon that unfolded in the second half of 2019.

The Indian Ocean Dipole refers to the difference in sea surface temperature on either side of the Indian Ocean, which alters rainfall patterns in Australia and other nations in the region. The dipole is a lesser-known relative of the Pacific Ocean’s El Niño.

Climate drivers, such as the Indian Ocean Dipole, are an entirely natural phenomenon, but climate change is modifying the behaviour of these climate modes.    understanding the indian ocean dipole

In research published today in Nature, we reconstructed Indian Ocean Dipole variability over the last millennium. We found “extreme positive” Indian Ocean Dipole events like last year’s are historically very rare, but becoming more common due to human-caused climate change. This is big news for a planet already struggling to contain global warming.

So what does this new side-effect of climate change mean for the future?

The Indian Ocean brings drought and flooding rain

First, let’s explore what a “positive” and “negative” Indian Ocean Dipole means.

During a “positive” Indian Ocean Dipole event, waters in the eastern Indian Ocean become cooler than normal, while waters in the western Indian Ocean become warmer than normal.

Warmer water causes rising warm, moist air, bringing intense rainfall and flooding to east Africa. At the same time, atmospheric moisture is reduced over the cool waters of the eastern Indian Ocean. This turns off one of Australia’s important rainfall sources.

In fact, over the past century, positive Indian Ocean Dipoles have led to the worst droughts and bushfires in southeast Australia.

The Indian Ocean Dipole also has a negative phase, which is important to bring drought-breaking rain to Australia. But the positive phase is much stronger and has more intense climate impacts.

We’ve experienced extreme positive Indian Ocean Dipole events before. Reliable instrumental records of the phenomenon began in 1958, and since then a string of very strong positive Indian Ocean Dipoles have occurred in 1961, 1994, 1997 and now 2019.

But this instrumental record is very short, and it’s tainted by the external influence of climate change.

This means it’s impossible to tell from instrumental records alone how extreme Indian Ocean Dipoles can be, and whether human-caused climate change is influencing the phenomenon.

Diving into the past with corals

To uncover just how the Indian Ocean Dipole has changed, we looked back through the last millennium using natural records: “cores” taken from nine coral skeletons (one modern, eight fossilised)……….

positive Indian Ocean Dipole events have been occurring more often in recent decades, and becoming more intense…….

climate change is causing the western side of the Indian Ocean to warm faster than in the east, making it easier for positive Indian Ocean Dipole events to establish.

In other words, drought-causing positive Indian Ocean Dipole events will become more frequent as our climate continues to warm.   In fact, climate model projections indicate extreme positive Indian Ocean Dipole events will occur three times more often this century than last, if high greenhouse gas emissions continue.

This means events like last year will almost certainly unfold again soon, and we’re upping the odds of even worse events that, through the fossil coral data, we now know are possible.

Knowing we haven’t yet seen the worst of the Indian Ocean Dipole is important in planning for future climate risks. Future extremes from the Indian Ocean will act on top of long-term warming, giving a double-whammy effect to their impacts in Australia, like the record-breaking heat and drought of 2019.

But perhaps most importantly, rapidly cutting greenhouse gas emissions will limit how often positive Indian Ocean Dipole events occur in future.

“NuclearHistory” exposes the unpleasant facts about liquid fluoride thorium nuclear reactors

March 10, 2020

Some people believe that liquid fluoride thorium reactors, which would use a high temperature liquid fuel made of molten salt, would be significantly safer than current generation reactors. However, such reactors have major flaws. There are serious safety issues associated with the retention of fission products in the fuel, and it is not clear these problems can be effectively resolved. Such reactors also present proliferation and nuclear terrorism risks because they involve the continuous separation, or “reprocessing,” of the fuel to remove fission products and to efficiently produce U-233, which is a nuclear weapon-usable material. Moreover, disposal of theused fuel has turned out to be a major challenge. Stabilization and disposal of the remains of the very small “Molten Salt Reactor Experiment” that operated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s has turned into the most technically challenging cleanup problem that Oak Ridge has faced, and the site has still not been cleaned up. Last updated March 14, 2019″ Source: Union of Concerned Scientists, at I wonder who is correct, The Union of Scientists or Mr. O’Brien and ScoMo?

The Industry Push to Force Nuclear Power in Australia, Part 1 of A Study of the “Report of the inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia” Australian Parliamentary Committee nuclearhistory, February 29, 2020, “………Nuclear power enables the great powers to project power. It is a crucial geo-political influencer. If the committee has it’s way, we will be working with Russia and China and others on reactors they want to develop, that their own people have not had a say in, that are all based upon reactor designs first thought of in the 1950s, and where actual examples were built at that time, turned out to be unsafe failures which continue to present cost and risk at their sites to this day.

The committee’s first recommendation to government includes the following two sub parts:

“b. developing Australia’s own national sovereign capability in nuclear energy over time; and

c. procuring next-of-a-kind nuclear reactors only, not first-of-a- kind.” end quote.

If Australia becomes a nuclear powered nation, it will become subject to the directives of the IAEA in regard to the standards of those nuclear reactors and the procedures and actions which must take place in regard to them. Australia will also become subject to IAEA directives in regard to the standards and specifications of the Australian national energy grid. Further, the ICRP and other bodies will have an enhanced ability to direct and advise Australia and its people. Further international non proliferation requirements will dictate Australian actions regarding “special nuclear substances.” These requirements including control of information – security provisions – regarding the use of and production of “special nuclear substances”. As is true all over the world, nuclear industries are alone in that they do not, indeed cannot, fully disclose operational matters to share holders. This hardly renders Australia and Australians in control of its own sovereign nuclear technology.
Collaborator nations can be expected to demand certain requirements from Australia in return for their help. In the case of China, which wishes to produce small, light reactors of new types partially to provide a means by which it can quickly transform its navy into a nuclear one, in particular, there may well be special requirements placed upon Australia in return for Chinese collaboration. Who knows what Putin will demand in return for Russian collaboration . America might want many things in return. And so on. No nation which might help Australia would want Australia to benefit to the point where we might gain too much control and power over nuclear facilities located in this country.

“procuring next-of-a-kind nuclear reactors only, not first-of-a- kind” How refreshing that the Committee does not want the first gen iv type reactors – the Fermi 1 and Monju type for example. Those dangerous failures that sit like wounded Albatross in the US and Japan and continue to demand taxpayer funds. The failure of Monju, which has long been foreseen by many, renders the original basis for the Japanese nuclear industry subject to severe doubt. As result of vastly improved safety standards, fuel reprocessing in Japan is in doubt, its future course uncertain, and the nature of high level waste management has been an even more pressing issue.

In any event, it is my view that  the new  types of reactor China is experimenting with are dual use.  That is, they have both military and civilian uses in China. There is little overt opposition to either in China as protest in that nation is dangerous, costly and often lethal. I do not see it in Australia’s national interest to collaborate with Chinese nuclear reactor experimental development. Our contribution will probably speed the ascendancy of a Chinese nuclear navy, and the contribution to be made to Australia by a Chinese/Australian Gen IV is highly suspect, both in the short and long term, both in tactical and strategic terms. And if we are not to buy “first of a kind” reactors but “next of a kind” ones, does this mean we wont buy unproven experimental units but will buy unproven Mk1 production units which have not yet been used to supply power to a grid and which have proven that they fulfil the promises this Parliamentary Committee is making? No such reactors exist with a track record in service providing economic power to any nation grid. None have existed in such deployment and there is no service life span in commercial use for any of these “new” reactor types. 10 years would be the bare minimum to test such a unit over. Anything less is not satisfactory
Alvin M. Weinberg was the Nikola Tesla of Gen IV reactor design. “Weinberg replaced Wigner as Director of Research at ORNL in 1948, and became director of the laboratory in 1955. Under his direction it worked on the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program, and pioneered many innovative reactor designs, including the pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and boiling water reactors (BWRs), which have since become the dominant reactor types in commercial nuclear power plants, and Aqueous Homogeneous Reactor designs.” (Source: Wikipedia at “ORNL successfully built and operated a prototype of an aircraft reactor power plant by creating the world’s first molten salt fueled and cooled reactor called the Aircraft Reactor Experiment (ARE) in 1954, which set a record high temperature of operation of 1,600 °F (870 °C). Due to the radiation hazard posed to aircrew, and people on the ground in the event of a crash, new developments in ballistic missile technology, aerial refueling and longer range jet bombers, President Kennedy canceled the program in June 1961.[30][31]” Source: ibid.
There’s not much that is new under the sun, says the Bible, and that’s probably very generally true. If we get the vision of a flying nuclear reactor out of heads for a minute, it seems as first glance that the Weinberg molten fuel reactor had something going for it. If it didn’t leak, it couldn’t do what a “normal” is capable of doing – over heating zirconium fuel rods, and melting steel to enable the overheated fuel to escape into the biosphere. So how does the molten fuel reactor work? How come it can work without melting its containment? Well, Wikipedia explains it like this: “The Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) set a record for continuous operation and was the first to use uranium-233 as fuel. It also used plutonium-239 and the standard, naturally occurring uranium-235. The MSR was known as the “chemist’s reactor” because it was proposed mainly by chemists (ORNL’s Ray Briant and Ed Bettis (an engineer) and NEPA’s Vince Calkins),[34] and because it used a chemical solution of melted salts containing the actinides (uranium, thorium, and/or plutonium) in a carrier salt, most often composed of beryllium (BeF2) and lithium (LiF) (isotopically depleted in Lithium-6 to prevent excessive neutron capture or tritium production) – FLiBe.[36] The MSR also afforded the opportunity to change the chemistry of the molten salt while the reactor was operating to remove fission products and add new fuel or change the fuel, all of which is called “online processing”.[37]” Source: ibid. As we can see, though the piece does not explain the materials used to construct the reactor – which must have been very tolerant of very high temperatures – the piece is clear that this reactor did produce high level nuclear waste. The fission products. These substances comprise high level nuclear waste. While this reactor type might consume weapons plutonium and fission it into high level waste, the reactor as described does NOT solve the high level waste problem. In an era in which the major nuclear powers have torn up nuclear weapon limitation treaties, it is moot as to whether either the USA or Russia would contemplate feeding their stockpiled bomb fuel into an MSR. The MSR does not solve the fission product waste inventory which is growing on planet earth. The wikipedia article does not describe whether or not the MSR reactor releases radioactive gases to the atmosphere as conventional reactor do at refuelling time.
There is no doubt that Wigner was a brilliant person. Many people view him as a visionary with a singular focus on reactor safety and on new ways of doing things in the 1950s and 1960s. Wikipedia also states the following: “In the 1960s Weinberg also pursued new missions for ORNL, such as using nuclear energy to desalinate seawater. ” Source Ibid. So know you know where the accountant and former politician Cory Bernardi got his idea about desalination via any old reactor from. Genius research Cory. Solar panels can make hydrogen and oxygen and turn sea water into fresh too. It can recharge electric cars, power a macbook and power the natural world. Fancy that. Apparently some people prefer molten salt reactors, proclaimed as new, when actually they date from the 1950s. Wow. I wonder why they didn’t take off. Excuse the pun.
Before I complete this post, let’s delve a little deeper into the MSR, by consulting some actual technical papers. Do try and keep up, Mr. Bernardi and Mr. O’Brien.

A technical report on the original trial run of the reactor is here (we won’t be getting this one, it’s first of type): “Experience with the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment.” Paul N. Haubenreich and J.R.Engel, 1970.

What the fate of the material removed from the fuel ? That is, where is the nuclear waste now and how much has it cost to mind? The Union of Concerned Scientists inform us that: “

Some people believe that liquid fluoride thorium reactors, which would use a high temperature liquid fuel made of molten salt, would be significantly safer than current generation reactors. However, such reactors have major flaws. There are serious safety issues associated with the retention of fission products in the fuel, and it is not clear these problems can be effectively resolved. Such reactors also present proliferation and nuclear terrorism risks because they involve the continuous separation, or “reprocessing,” of the fuel to remove fission products and to efficiently produce U-233, which is a nuclear weapon-usable material. Moreover, disposal of theused fuel has turned out to be a major challenge. Stabilization and disposal of the
remains of the very small “Molten Salt Reactor Experiment” that operated at Oak
Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s has turned into the most technically challenging cleanup problem that Oak Ridge has faced, and the site has still not been cleaned up. Last updated March 14, 2019″ Source: Union of Concerned Scientists, at I wonder who is correct, The Union of Scientists or Mr. O’Brien and ScoMo?

The end.

If the nuclear waste problem did not exist, those front and back yards would not now be resident in drums at Woomera Rocket Range. If waste did not have to take up residence somewhere, waste would not be a problem. Because there would not be any to store. Australia does not have nuclear power. But we have plenty of ancient and modern nuclear waste. People who do not want nuclear waste or nuclear emissions are called by governments and the industry “NIMBY’s” (Not In My Backyard). I remind the Australian government here and now who have to removed contaminated back yards from Australian homes in the 1970s. It was the Australian Government. What hypocrites you all are!!! To be continued …..

Flinders University, South Australia: collusion with nuclear power promotion, Prof Pam Sykes, and the scam of “hormesis”

March 10, 2020

The Industry Push to Force Nuclear Power in Australia, Part 1 of A Study of the “Report of the inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia” Australian Parliamentary Committee nuclearhistory, February 29, 2020“………….The most recent nuclear collaboration between Australia and a nuclear power for nuclear purposes commenced in the year 2000. At that time a US Department of Energy Contractor named Bobby Scott, based at Los Alamos and at Lovelace Respiratory Research Laboratory, New Mexico, came to Adelaide carrying contract documents. The documents were to be signed by the US DOE and involved personnel of Flinders University. Bobby Scott is a well known (to people in the field) as a leading advocate for the theory of radiation hormesis. The contract to be signed was the first of a number. From the time of the signing of that contract, Flinders University engaged in very strong advocacy of the expansion of nuclear industry in South Australia. Prof Pam Sykes was flown from Adelaide to Los Almos and undertook training and seminars in Hormesis. The concept that radioactive substances are, in her words, “like vitamins”.

I have fully explained that this unproven theory flies in the face of reality in terms of radiological safety and data from monitoring of dose and disease all over the world, including, contrary to the claims of the school hormesis, the naturally high background radiation regions of Iran and India. In those parts of Iran and India, (the five northern provinces in Iran, and Kerala in India) some cancer rates are among the highest in the world. Further, in those Iranian provinces breast cancer in teenage women is more common than it is even in the West. And so on. There are five types of cancer in northern Iran which have very high rates. In south western Kerala, the rates of female thyroid cancer is very, very high.

Contrary the to statements made by the school of hormesis, headquartered at Los Alamos, USA and Flinders University Adelaide. From 2000 on, Flinders University promoted the idea of radioactive substances such as uranium and its decay products and the fission products as being “like vitamins”, necessary for life. By 2011 the university was promoting the idea that an expansion of the state’s uranium mines would be good for the health of South Australians, because the natural background here is “too low” for good health. Presumably the transport of tons of additional uranium ore by train from the mines to the ports in open railway trucks would result in faint clouds of radionuclide “vitamins” being dispersed over the whole population of the state in precisely the right theoretical dose, taking into account, somehow, automatically, the age, gender and health status of each South Australian. (I didn’t write what Sykes did, so don’t blame me.). In 2011 the US DOE funded Flinders University put its pedal to the metal and flew into the debate, labelling South Australians who disagreed with it’s position in words which were insulting and which labelled us as lunatics, radiophobes and totally ignorant of radiological safety principles, cowardly, and devoid of reason. Read it here:

At least in the piece the University acknowledges that Sykes is funded by American tax dollars paid to the University by a foreign government with a vested interest in obtaining cheap Australian uranium. One of the University’s programs, as explained by Sykes on Channel 7 in 2011 was to deliver healthy male volunteers of all ages radiation doses to their prostate glands to see what happened to those glands. For a fuller accounting of this foreign interference by the USA, using money to induce an Australian university to carry out US policy in terms of the South Australian uranium debate, see my submissions to the SA Royal Commission into the nuclear fuel cycle  here: It’s not pretty, and it was a complete re run of the British/Australian nuclear collaboration of decades earlier (from which this country has not fully recovered). It continues today.
The presumption of nuclear industry and PR program, based as it is on the concepts of the arrogant Dr. Goldman (the last man to deny Chernobyl fallout caused childhood thyroid cancer). Any bullshit will do, just get consent or don’t worry about consent. That’s the line. I’m a doctor, you can’t argue with me. Yes i can sir. You are a liar. I expect Sykes to pop her head up again soon. I’m hoping TEPCO renames the Fukushima break water “The Sykes Health Spa and Resort”. Meanwhile, a bit later on the former SA Premier bobs up and says “Let’s discuss nuclear waste storage, because the northern hemisphere has a big problem with it, and they will pay us plenty to become their global dump. No one, much, lives on Eyre Peninsular, so we can bury the stuff there in tubes made from SA copper, which will last a million years. No worries.   We are working with the Swedes on the this. (I’d rather he’d worked with a pumpkin). We promise, the Premier said, never ever, in a zillion years, or for the life of this government, which ever comes first, to use our nuclear knowledge or nuclear resources for military purposes. Even as he spoke those words, he must have known he was wrong, because the supposed research the US paid for (via experiments the US DOE designed) was already being used by the US Air Force in its negotiations with the State of Nevada. The USAF wanted to fire more DU ammunition on the Fallon Air Firing Range, whereas the State of Nevada wanted less to be fired and more to be cleaned up. No joke, I have the letters, and the DOE publication which promotes it’s new you beaut hormesis technology. Which doesn’t work.
And so that brings me to current time. Hormesis research continues and remains unproven. No-one has solved the very high rates of certain cancers in naturally high radiation areas of Iran and India. And the USAF is still having to clean up its on going messing of the land in Nevada, while no one bothers about the DU littered battlefield of Europe and the Middle East. And the Chair of this nuclear committee, a highly skilled politician which a knowledge of China, reckons I and all I say is not worth while. This argument has been going on for many, many decades. The safety culture of the nuclear authorities is totally lame, pathetic and dangerous. I can imagine, on the basis of the past and on the basis of the changing geo-political future, what the results of Australian collaboration in nuclear energy with other nations will be.……

Australia’s early nuclear history – a scandalously crooked co-operation with Britain

March 10, 2020

The British also deliberately spread plutonium dust over the outback in so called safety tests. Although a number of Australians had knowledge they desperately wanted to share with the Australian people, the Australian government threatened these people with many years jail if they spoke out.

Australian service personnel and their health status records were treated and kept at the Maralinga Hospital. John Hutton was the only involved person to ever see his Maralinga file and actually get to retain a page from it. (He nicked it).

Australia and Britain perfected a medical regime in which medical responses to radiation induced syndromes were solved without documenting the actual diagnosis. The afflicted personnel, with the exception of Mr. Hutton, never got to read their own medical records, all of which disappeared when the British Bombardiers left Australia in the 1960s. And some say they took the Maralinga medical records with them. That’s very close collaboration, isn’t it?

Kimba nuclear waste dump – a total mishandling of the truth from Australian government.

March 10, 2020
IN DAILY – YOUR VIEWS – 25TH FEBRUARY 2020 Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste In The Flinders Ranges
Leon Ashton, When will the Federal Government finally acknowledge publicly that their process to establish a nuclear waste dump has not worked.?   All that they have done to date is to destroy the community bond which is the glue that holds any small community together.
They have portrayed the dump to the key communities as a win-win for all.
This they can do easily because they have only told half the story. The good bits.
They have the money to do this as its taxpayers’ money. If the people of South Australia only delved a bit deeper into the nuclear issue, they would soon discover a total mishandling of the truth from our government.
A few unanswered concerns are:
1) Why won’t the department tell the people of Kimba what the CEO of Lucas Heights told the doctor from Hawker in May 2018 that we are lucky to now be receiving intermediate-level waste, because without it there are very little economic benefits to any community.
2) The department will not tell the community how long the highly dangerous intermediate nuclear waste will be temporarily stored. There are no such plans in place at the present to permanently bury this waste as it is too cost prohibitive to do so. This could easily end up stranded for hundreds of years to come in the centre of Eyre Peninsula.  If the government watchdog ARPANSA agrees that it is to remain at Lucas Heights, where does that leave the community.
3) Why won’t Sam Chard (Your views, February 19) tell the communities that once legacy waste is collected and stored at the dump, then there will only be about two and a quarter containers annually of low-level waste delivered provided every one chooses to use the dump. This will never provide 45 jobs.
4. A parliamentary enquiry in 2004 in NSW acknowledged it was misleading to the public by ANSTO, rebadging the high-level waste being returned from France and England as intermediate waste.
If Australia has to have a single waste dump for our low and intermediate-level waste then all Australians need to be involved.  Not just kept low key on the few hundred citizens that are at present bulldozed into the decision that needs a national answer.

Australian public unaware of the dangers of small nuclear reactors

March 10, 2020

Thorium advocates say that thorium reactors produce little radioactive waste, however, they simply produce a different spectrum of waste from traditional reactors, including many dangerous isotopes with extremely long half-lives. Technetium 99 has a half-life of 300,000 years and iodine 129 a half-life of 15.7 million years. 


History of Australia’s govt move towards importing nuclear waste

March 10, 2020

If the “low level” storage facility goes ahead in Kimba, it would only be a matter of time before it became a facility storing medium and high level waste creating untold risks for human life, Indigenous culture and heritage, flora and fauna, and agriculture. It must be stopped.

TERRA NUCLEAR  Anna Pha,16 Feb 20, Last week, the then Resources Minister Matt Canavan announced the site for an international nuclear waste dump on farmland in South Australia. The decision comes after two decades or more of wrangling over where to locate the facility.

The land is at Napandee in Kimba, on the Eyre Peninsula and is owned by a farmer who offered it to the government. He is set to receive compensation well above market value.

“The facility has broad community support in Kimba, but I acknowledge there remains opposition, particularly amongst the Barngarla People and their representative group,” Canavan said in a press release.

He omits to mention that the Barngarla People were excluded from a local vote on the question.

In addition, the opposition is not confined to the Barngarla People who fear the pollution of their land and waters, as well as the damage to their culture and sacred sites. Environmental and other groups as well as many individuals have not given up. They are determined to fight it to the end.

Denial of Danger

Just as the government refuses to acknowledge the dangers of inaction over climate change, Canavan plays down the deadly risks associated with radiation; “I am satisfied a facility at Napandee will safely and securely manage radioactive waste and that the local community has shown broad community support for the project and economic benefits it will bring.”

This is a hollow claim, which he cannot back with practice. How can anyone claim such a facility would be safely and securely managed for thousands or possibly hundreds of thousands of years that it would take for the radioactive material to breakdown?

The minister cannot make any guarantees. In particular, as the plan is to hand the facility over to the private sector to manage, the risks and cover-ups become far more likely and serious

The minister says the waste will come from Australia’s historical radioactive waste holdings which are currently spread over more than 100 locations across the country, like science facilities, universities and hospitals.”

“The facility will be capable of permanently disposing of low-level waste and temporarily storing intermediate level waste for decades (while a separate intermediate level waste disposal facility is developed).”

We are supposed to believe him when he says, “We will work with traditional owners to protect culture and heritage, and to maximise economic opportunities and outcomes for local Aboriginal communities near the future facility.” That would be a first for this government! After all the voice of the Indigenous custodians of the land was not listened to in the selection of the land for the facility.

Short On The Truth

Canavan also claimed the process to find a site began five years ago but it actually dates back to the late 1990s when the Howard Coalition government made moves to find a location for an international dump.

This would house intensely radioactive spent nuclear fuel, high-level radioactive waste, intermediate-level radioactive waste, and “unwanted” nuclear materials from weapons dismantling.

The dump would be sited in South Australia or Western Australia. A poll of South Australians at the time revealed that ninety-three per cent were opposed to the idea of even a low-level nuclear waste site.

In 2002, the Howard government actually allocated $9.9 million in the budget to build a shallow burial facility where nuclear waste would be stored for the next 300 years. It would be on defence land near Woomera.

It sounded like a case of terra nullius all over again. Indigenous Australians experienced more than enough showers of nuclear dust when near-by Maralinga and Emu Fields were used to test British nuclear weapons. Similar assurances given then were never honoured.

In 2006, Labor’s Martin Ferguson, supported the concept of an aptly named “cradle to grave” proposal under which nuclear waste is returned to the country that mined and exported it. It should come as no surprise that Ferguson now heads the resource sector’s lobby group, the Minerals Council.

In 2016, it was the run of the Adnyamathanha people to take up the struggle against the siting of nuclear waste dump on their land near South Australia’s Flinders Ranges. Then Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg, had picked a cattle station near Barndioota, just north of Port Augusta. The land just happened to be co-owned by former Liberal Senator Grant Chapman.

Adnyamathanha Tribal Lands Association CEO Vince Coulthard said he was “totally disgusted” by the decision; “This is our land, we have been here forever, and we will always be here, and we are totally opposed to this dump.” Once again, no respect was shown to the tradition custodians of the land.

A royal commission launched by SA Labor Premier Jay Weatherill came up with a proposal that could see Australia take in thirteen per cent of the world’s nuclear waste while offering a fuel leasing mechanism. Under this mechanism, Australia would “lease” the yellow cake to other countries who would return it in the form of spent fuel for Australia to manage.

Royal Commissioner Kevin Scarce recommended that South Australia import and store international high-level nuclear waste.

In fact, there are calls for countries that mine and sell uranium products to take back the waste. The costings of the royal commission and other proponents of similar systems fail to take into account the long-term costs and risks.

“Aboriginal people did not give prior or informed consent to the British nuclear weapons tests that took place at Maralinga; they were not warned that the black rain was laced with plutonium and radioactive fission products, or that the brilliant white flash would blind.”

As nuclear weapon countries such the US, Israel, Russia, India, and Pakistan continue to build their nuclear arsenals the question of the disposal of nuclear waste becomes more and more pressing.

Uranium mining and radioactive waste pollute air, soil, and water. Radiation can damage the genetic and reproductive systems of plants, animals and people. All of Australia’s operating uranium mines have a history of leaks, spills and accidents – and none have been properly rehabilitated.

If the “low level” storage facility goes ahead in Kimba, it would only be a matter of time before it became a facility storing medium and high level waste creating untold risks for human life, Indigenous culture and heritage, flora and fauna, and agriculture. It must be stopped.

USA’s nuclear insurance places the big responsibility on the tax-payer

March 10, 2020

The US government insurance scheme for nuclear power plant accidents no longer makes sense, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Victor Gilinsky, February 26, 2020   The Japan Center for Economic Research, a source sympathetic to nuclear power, recently put the long-term costs of the 2011 Fukushima accident as about $750 billion. Contrast that with the maximum of $13 billion that could be available after a catastrophic US nuclear accident under the plant owners’ self-insurance scheme defined by the Price-Anderson Act. The Act will have to be renewed before 2025; Congress should seize the opportunity not only to reflect on the lack of insurance in the event of a catastrophic accident, but also to reconsider our approach to nuclear power plant safety altogether.

 frees nuclear plant operators and all firms involved in nuclear construction and maintenance of any liability for offsite accident damage. The only chance for additional compensation lies in the act’s declaration that if accident damages exceed the legal limit “Congress will thoroughly review the particular incident” and will “take whatever action is determined to be necessary” to provide full compensation to the public. In short, a Fukushima-level accident would toss the costs of compensation and cleanup unto the lap of Congress. ……….

The main public risk of nuclear power plants comes from rare but devastating nuclear accidents. Because data on such accidents is sparse, the probability of their occurrence has to be calculated on the basis of a model, rather than obtained from experience. Moreover, the extent of an accident and its monetary consequences are postulated on the basis of models that are limited by analysts’ imagination. Who would have imagined, for example, that the Fukushima accident would involve several reactors? Or that Japan would subsequently shut down all its other nuclear power plants?……….

Curiously, from the chairman on down, the NRC misstates the legal standard for its safety decisions. The NRC and its staff claim their job is to provide “reasonable assurance of adequate protection,” whereas the standard in the Atomic Energy Act is “adequate protection.” Under the law, their job is to provide adequate protection, period. Do the commissioners think the extra cushion of “reasonable assurance” justifies weaker regulation?

To return to the Price-Anderson Act: As we’ve seen, a catastrophic accident would render the US self-insurance scheme for nuclear power plants pretty much irrelevant. But the indemnification of all industry participants would remain highly relevant: The industry would be free of any liability for offsite death or damage, whereas the victims would have to go hat in hand to Congress for restitution. This is an enormous subsidy—consider, again, the $750 billion and counting tab for Fukushima—that the federal government provides the nuclear industry, one without which not a single US nuclear power plant would or could operate. Freedom from liability also has had a perverse effect on nuclear safety. Without the liability protection of Price-Anderson, industry incentives to develop nuclear designs safer than light water reactors would surely have been higher.

Freedom from liability was put into law in the 1950s to get the US commercial nuclear power industry off the ground. It was meant to be temporary, until industry and insurers got some experience with the new technology. But even as time went on, industrial organizations like General Electric and Westinghouse would not participate in the civilian nuclear program if they risked responsibility for offsite damage from a nuclear plant accident………

What is clear is that the nuclear firms—the largest of which possess an understanding of nuclear safety far beyond that of the public—do not believe the NRC safety conclusions that the risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident is infinitesmal. Nor do they accept that probable risk—probability of an accident times the consequences, were one to occur—as the right measure of risk to their companies. They don’t want to risk their companies, period.

If they don’t believe the NRC numbers, why should the rest of us accept them?

Why shouldn’t we have the same protection from physical harm that the nuclear industry has from financial liability? And just as the nuclear vendors will not participate on terms that do not include indemnification from the overwhelming cost of a severe accident, so should the public have the analogous power to only accept future nuclear designs that can demonstrate that they preclude offsite harm. And the designs should demonstrate that level of safety in a clear way, based on physical principles, not on complicated probabilistic calculations put forward by interested parties.

Such new designs would eliminate the current dilemma of a federal nuclear self-insurance scheme that cannot, as a practical matter, cover the financial consequences to the public of catastrophic nuclear power plant accidents. But how to get there? One of the disincentives is the Price-Anderson Act’s limitations on industry liability for offsite accident consequences. That should get phased out.

Deceit and Dark Money -Ohio’s nuclear subsidy saga 

March 10, 2020

Dark money dominated Ohio’s nuclear subsidy saga ENERGY NEWS NETWORK, Kathiann M. KowalskiMarch 5, 2020  

FirstEnergy Solutions paid nearly $2 million to at least one group, but most other data remains hidden.

After-the-fact filings show that FirstEnergy’s generation subsidiary paid nearly $2 million to Generation Now, one of the special interest groups that orchestrated ads, political donations and other efforts behind Ohio’s nuclear and coal bailout.

But legal loopholes make it harder to find out the total spent and who else was behind xenophobic advertising, dueling voter petitions, alleged intimidation and other claims of foul play. And none of those actions fully disclosed who was behind them.

The scant public filings that are available show additional connections to FirstEnergy Solutions (now Energy Harbor), as well as the law firm of an outspoken legislator who has long fought the state’s clean energy standard, and others with high-level political influence.

House Bill 6 gutted Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards while putting ratepayers on the hook for nearly $1 billion in subsidies for nuclear power plants, plus an additional amount for aging coal plants. Multiple groups spent heavily to promote HB 6 and prevent a referendum on the law following its passage.

In some cases, nonprofit and for-profit organizations funded each other or shared the same spokesperson. Groups active in the HB 6 campaign also had links to some of the same lobbyists and consultants who acted for companies that stood to benefit from HB 6, or unions with workers at their plants. But only limited amounts of funding could be traced.

ON ORIGINAL – INTRIGUING INTERACTIVE DIAGRAM HERE _ shows interrelationships of individuals and groups (more…)

Big Oil Big Soda and plastically polluted Planet Earth

March 10, 2020

They really sold people on the idea that plastics can be recycled because there’s a fraction of them that are,”..“It’s fraudulent. When you drill down into plastics recycling, you realize it’s a myth.” …… “Recycling delays, rather than avoids, final disposal,” the Science authors write. And most plastics persist for centuries. …….

We are all guinea pigs in this experiment, as plastics accumulate in the food web, appearing in seafood, table salt, and ironically even in bottled water. Many plastics are mixed with a toxic brew of colorants, flame retardants, and plasticizers. 

PLANET PLASTIC, How Big Oil and Big Soda kept a global environmental calamity a secret for decades, Rolling Stone, By TIM DICKINSONMARCH 3, 2020   

Every human on Earth is ingesting nearly 2,000 particles of plastic a week. These tiny pieces enter our unwitting bodies from tap water, food, and even the air, according to an alarming academic study sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, dosing us with five grams of plastics, many cut with chemicals linked to cancers, hormone disruption, and developmental delays. Since the paper’s publication last year, Sen. Tom Udall, a plain-spoken New Mexico Democrat with a fondness for white cowboy hats and turquoise bolo ties, has been trumpeting the risk: “We are consuming a credit card’s worth of plastic each week,” Udall says. At events with constituents, he will brandish a Visa from his wallet and declare, “You’re eating this, folks!”

With new legislation, the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020, Udall is attempting to marshal Washington into a confrontation with the plastics industry, and to force companies that profit from plastics to take accountability for the waste they create. …….

The battle pits Udall and his allies in Congress against some of the most powerful corporate interests on the planet, including the oil majors and chemical giants that produce the building blocks for our modern plastic world — think Exxon, Dow, and Shell — and consumer giants like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and Unilever that package their products in the stuff. Big Plastic isn’t a single entity. It’s more like a corporate supergroup: Big Oil meets Big Soda — with a puff of Big Tobacco, responsible for trillions of plastic cigarette butts in the environment every year. And it combines the lobbying and public-relations might of all three………

Massive quantities of this forever material are spilling into the oceans — the equivalent of a dump-truck load every minute. Plastic is also fouling our mountains, our farmland, and spiraling into an unmitigatable environmental disaster. John Hocevar is a marine biologist who leads the Oceans Campaign for Greenpeace, and spearheaded the group’s response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf. Increasingly, his work has centered on plastics. “This is a much bigger problem than ‘just’ an ocean issue, or even a pollution issue,” he says. “We’ve found plastic everywhere we’ve ever looked. It’s in the Arctic and the Antarctic and in the middle of the Pacific. It’s in the Pyrenees and in the Rockies. It’s settling out of the air. It’s raining down on us.”

More than half the plastic now on Earth has been created since 2002, and plastic pollution is on pace to double by 2030. At its root, the global plastics crisis is a product of our addiction to fossil fuels. The private profit and public harm of the oil industry is well understood: Oil is refined and distributed to consumers, who benefit from gasoline’s short, useful lifespan in a combustion engine, leaving behind atmospheric pollution for generations. But this same pattern — and this same tragedy of the commons — is playing out with another gift of the oil-and-gas giants, whose drilling draws up the petroleum precursors for plastics. These are refined in industrial complexes and manufactured into bottles, bags, containers, textiles, and toys for consumers who benefit from their transient use — before throwing them away. (more…)