Archive for June, 2020

Why we must fight miners’ push to fast-track uranium mines

June 21, 2020

Expensive, dirty and dangerous: why we must fight miners’ push to fast-track uranium mines, Gavin Mudd, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, RMIT University, June 18, 2020    Of all the elements on Earth, none is more strictly controlled under law than uranium. A plethora of international agreements govern its sale and use in energy, research and nuclear weapons.

Australian environmental law considers nuclear actions, such as uranium mining, as a “matter of national environmental significance” under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. This means uranium involves matters of national and international concern for which the Australian government is solely responsible.

The states, which own minerals, cannot exercise such oversight on uranium exports and use. So any new uranium mine needs both state and federal environmental approvals.

The Minerals Council of Australia wants to change this. In a submission to a ten-year review of the EPBC Act, the council argues that uranium’s special treatment is redundant, as environmental risks are already addressed in state approval processes.

On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that BHP’s proposed expansion of the Olympic Dam copper-uranium-gold-silver mine in South Australia was one of 15 major projects set to be fast-tracked for environmental approval. This would include a single, joint state and federal assessment.

But responsibility and past performance make a compelling case to maintain our federal environmental laws more than ever. Here’s why uranium mining must remain a federal issue.

Our international obligations

Australia is a signatory to several international treaties, conventions and agreements concerning nuclear activities and uranium mining and export.

These include safeguards to ensure Australian uranium is used only for peaceful nuclear power or research, and not military uses.

As of the end of 2018, the nuclear material safeguarded under international agreements derived from our uranium exports totalled 212,052 tonnes – including 201.6 tonnes of separated plutonium.

Making sure our uranium trading partners don’t redirect that material for the wrong purpose has been the raison d’être of our nuclear foreign policy since 1977. It’s clearly a national legal and moral obligation, and something the states simply cannot do.

In response, a spokesperson for the Minerals Council of Australia said a national mechanism to manage safeguards already exists through the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, adding:

Uranium is further regulated through the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) […] under the provisions of the ARPANS Regulations 1999. The object of the ARPANS Act is “to protect the health and safety of people, and to protect the environment, from the harmful effects of radiation”.

But ARPANSA regulates radiation safety and not uranium exports. If uranium mining was removed as a nuclear action, then there would be no public process involving our uranium exports – creating more secrecy and reducing scrutiny.

Successful rehabilitation has yet to be seen

Uranium mines are difficult to rehabilitate at the end of their lives. In my 24 years of research, including visiting most sites, I’ve yet to see a successful case study of Australia’s 11 major uranium mines or numerous small sites.

For example, the Rum Jungle mine near Darwin, which operated from 1954 to 1971, left a toxic legacy of acidic and radioactive drainage and a biologically dead Finniss River.

As a military project for the Cold War, it was Australian government-owned, but operated under contract by a company owned by Rio Tinto. The site was rehabilitated with taxpayer money from 1983-86, but by the mid-1990s the works were failing, and pollution levels were again rising.
The Northern Territory government is proposing a new round of rehabilitation. After accounting for inflation to 2019 dollars, Rum Jungle has cost taxpayers A$875 million for a return of A$139 million. The next round of rehabilitation is expected to cost many millions more.

The former Mary Kathleen mine, also part of Rio Tinto’s corporate history, operated from 1958-63 and 1976-82.

Rehabilitation works were completed by 1986 and won national engineering awards for excellence. But by the late 1990s, acid seepage problems emerged from the tailings dam (where mining by-products are stored) and overlying grasses were absorbing toxic heavy metals, creating a risk for grazing cattle.

Rare earth metals are also present in these tailings, leading to the possibility the tailings will be reprocessed to fund the next round of rehabilitation. The site remains in limbo, despite its Instagram fame.

Both Rum Jungle and Mary Kathleen were rehabilitated to the standards of their day, but they have not withstood the test of time.

Australia’s biggest uranium mine, Ranger, is fast approaching the end of its operating life.

Rio Tinto is also the majority owner of Ranger. Despite Ranger’s recent losses, Rio has retained control and given Ranger hundreds of millions of dollars towards ensuring site operations and rehabilitation.

In recent years the cost of rehabilitation has soared from A$565 million in 2011 to A$897 million in 2019, over which time A$603 million has been spent on rehabilitation works.

Site rehabilitation is required to be complete by January 2026, with Rio Tinto and Ranger assuming 25 years of monitoring – although plans and funding for this are still being finalised.

The legal requirement is that no contaminants should cause environmental impacts for 10,000 years, and no other mine has ever faced such a hurdle.

Recently, it emerged that Ranger had not agreed to continue its share of funding the scientific research required for the rehabilitation – an issue still unresolved. So despite promises of world’s best ever rehabilitation, concerns remain.

The Conversation contacted Rio Tinto to respond, and it referred us to Energy Resources Australia (ERA), which operates Ranger. An ERA spokesperson stated:

Since 1994, ERA has made an annual contribution to research into the environmental effects of uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region under an agreement with the Commonwealth. The agreement provides for a review of funding contributions at fixed periods or at either party’s request to acknowledge changes in Ranger operations.

ERA is required to cease processing in January 2021 in accordance with the expiration of its Authority to Operate under the Commonwealth Atomic Energy Act. Given the impending cessation in processing, ERA believes it is appropriate and reasonable to review the current research funding arrangements.

ERA has followed due process in this matter and welcomes the Commonwealth’s decision to support a process of mediation to resolve the issue.

No other former uranium mine in Australia can claim long-term rehabilitation success. Nabarlek, Radium Hill-Port Pirie, South Alligator Valley and other small mines all have issues such as erosion, weeds, remaining infrastructure, radiation hot-spots and/or water contamination. They all require ongoing surveillance.

Uranium mining is set to be outcompeted

Australia’s uranium export revenue from 1977 to December A$2019 was A$29.4 billion. Lithium has now overtaken uranium in export revenue – from 2017 to 2019, lithium earned Australia two to three times our uranium exports.

Even if Olympic Dam expands (and especially if it stops extracting uranium in favour of tellurium, cobalt and rare earths also present), this trend is expected to increase in the coming years as Ranger closes and the world transitions to renewable energy and electric vehicles to help address climate change.

In response, the Minerals Council of Australia stated that lithium’s contribution to large-scale electricity storage is just beginning, arguing:

With the development of new nuclear technologies such as small modular and micro reactors, the prospects for the future of both uranium and lithium are positive and no one should be picking winners apart from the market.
Ultimately, uranium remains an element with immense potential for misuse – as seen with North Korea and other rogue nuclear states. Federal oversight of uranium mining must remain. After all, the price of peace is eternal vigilance.

South Australia targeted: easy to later bring international waste in to nuclear dump

June 21, 2020
Name withheld. to Senate Committee on  National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 [Provisions] Submission 39  Excerpt The amendment to the Bill put forward by the now Minister of Resources Keith Bill should be rescinded and here are the reasons why. First and foremost there was NO Broad Community Support achieved. [The writer now gives an account of the requirement for community support for the nuclear waste facility:  Support “would need to be in the vicinity of 65%, and that submissions and ‘neighbouring views’ would also be taken into consideration.” – and that this support was not achieved] So why was Kimba announced as the dump site if this stipulation was not fulfilled? To understand it, first you must understand the history behind the dump proposal. HISTORY This whole dump proposal has been flawed from the very start. It is the exact same proposal put forward in Parliament in the 1980’s and hasn’t changed. The recurrent statement of “we only have a small amount of Intermediate Level Waste so that can “tag-a-long” or “co-locate” with the Low Level Waste” was used back then and continues to be used right now 40 years later! If you consider that, back in the 1980’s the proposed dump concept was to be only operating for 50 years, as they also stated that by that time the Intermediate Level Waste would be dealt with before its closure. Think about it – that means the preparation should ALREADY be in place RIGHT NOW according to their statements – ready for 2030! And yet NOTHING has been done in that regard!! We still have the Woomera Waste still sitting in Woomera, when it was stated by the Federal Government at that time (1994), that it would only be “temporary” for 2 – 3 years maximum! Moving on 25 years plus – and it still remains in Woomera. Past behaviour is a good predictor of future behaviour. It should be noted that the waste in Woomera – the CSIRO waste from Melbourne Fishermans Bend and the St. Mary’s waste from St. Mary’s Defence Base NSW – were placed in Woomera AS A RESULT of a NSW Environmental Court Case brought onto ANSTO Lucas Heights by the Sutherland Shire Council.The CSIRO waste was from the cleanup of Fishermans Bend in Victoria – where in fact only 200 of these drums contained radioactive waste according to the then Transport code of a minimum exceeding 70,000 Becquerels per kilogram to be considered a radioactive substance! But due to the media coverage and the concern by the public, all 9726 x 205L of the drums were classified as radioactive and then taken by consignment to ANSTO Lucas Heights NSW for storage. They werenstored on site for 4 years at ANSTO Lucas Heights (1990 -1994). It was only when Lucas Heights agreed to take the waste from St Mary’s Defence Base NSW (1991) that Sutherland Shire Council brought a court case up against ANSTO Lucas Heights from taking waste from other entities.The Case was won by Sutherland Council, and although ANSTO was swift to change the Federal Act thereafter so that such jurisdictional action would never happen again. The Federal Government sought a suitable Commonwealth site to place the Fishermans Bend and St Marys Bend waste at short notice – which was Woomera in SA. At the time, the Feds were in negotiation with Northern Territory with regards to a dump site in NT, which fell through. The waste remains separately stored in Woomera – although ANSTO was commissioned to condition the St Mary’s Defence waste before it was transported to Woomera. blications_Archive/online/RadioactiveWaste Almost every state in Australia has been the target of this dump in the past. This is the second time SA has been targeted.And each and every time the establishment of the dump has failed.Why is this? Because it is a flawed proposal. Trotting out the exact same proposal since 1980’s shows that. The only change this time round is for nomination by land owners to nominate their land for the dump this time! 28 sites all around Australia were nominated in the nomination period 2nd March 2015 to 5th May 2015. It was the 13th November 2015 when the then resources minister Josh Frydenberg announce 6 sites around Australia which the Federal Government had deemed suitable. subId=565152 “Submission “Submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Site Selection Process for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Radioactive Waste Management Taskforce April 2018” Annexure 6 – Chronology of site selection process. Coincidentally, the South Australian Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle was established on 19th March 2015. The final report of this Royal Commission was presented to the SA premier Jay Weatherill on 9th May 2016. From October 2016 to November 2016, with final result obtained and given to the Premier of SA on 6th November 2016 a citizen’s jury decided a NO MEANS NO to SA becoming an International Dump site. against-storing-nuclear-waste/7999262  The then opposition leader Stephen Marshall reaffirmed this stance 5 days later 11th November 2016    8016818?fbclid=IwAR1CiCk6Y1je4l1ZUtpvlJqYT4rHeKcqreHAXtVJ1xZxpKNfHZ6xfToZxVA Why is this important? Because of the timeline! There is NO WAY ON EARTH that South Australia was NOT BEING TARGETED! And even today, there are South Australians who believe that the International AND National Nuclear Dump targeting in South Australia had been put to bed back in November 2016! That this was ONE FIGHT instead of TWO However, it has to be noted, that when Mike Rann fought to stop the Federal Government putting a dump into South Australia in the early 2000’s, there was a push by an international group called PANGEA with a leaked media video, which is intent on establishing an International Nuclear Dump in Australia. The group is now called itself ARIUS, since 2012, and is alive and kicking as witnessed in the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle 2016. TECHNICAL SUITABILITY So why is the Federal Government so hell bent on putting this nuclear waste onto South Australia? Surely World’s Best Practise would dictate that the best site would be closer to the main site of generation and not over 1700kms across the country and into another state! Less transport and less handling required meaning less human error and mistakes. Which is a perfect time to reiterate ARPANSA’s definition of nuclear waste – “Radioactive waste is material that has no foreseeable use and contains radioactive materials with activities or activity concentrations at levels high enough that regulatory oversight is needed to ensure safety.” radiation-sources/more-radiation-sources/radioactive-waste-safety/frequently-askedquestions Why was Sallys Flat NSW which was ONE of the SIX sites deemed suitable by the Federal Government not hounded like the South Australian sites were? Sallys Flat is only 260 kms from Lucas Heights. Even Oman Ama QLD which is another of the SIX sites deemed suitable by the Federal Government is closer at 780kms! The site at Kimba is over 1700kms away!Over 90% of all Australia’s nuclear waste (non-mining) is generated on site at Lucas Heights NSW for the production of nuclear medical isotopes predominately. And these isotopes are predominately used for diagnostic imaging, and to a much, much smaller extent for treatment. How much nuclear waste does South Australia actually have itself? Back in 2003 Mike Rann was reported as stating thatSouth Australia itself had only enough nuclear waste to fill one 44 gallon drum! And today it isn’t much more than that!“States and territories are responsible for managing a range of radioactive waste holdings, accounting for about one per cent of total radioactive waste holdings in Australia.”…according to the DIIS – “Australian Radioactive Waste Management Framework April 2018” page 7 04/australian_radioactive_waste_management_framework.pdf…… Lucas Heights was built with ample space so that they could take care of all of the waste they generated on site. It was only with the build of the OPAL reactor which replaced the aging HIFAR reactor that it was thought that the waste could go elsewhere, to pacify the nearby population as a compromise of the build of the new reactor. But the premise still remains, and Lucas Heights has enough space to deal with their own was for up to 100 years. Since Lucas Heights was built in 1958 there is still plenty of space and time for this research reactor to find a proper solution to this nuclear waste once and for all. Not to bury it somewhere out of sight and out of mind , so it is essentially abandoned. If push comes to shove with Government funding, do you think the proposed nuclear dump will be a priority? This dump simply gives Lucas Heights licence to continue and indeed even increase nuclear waste production. And then consider the criteria for acceptance of nuclear waste at the proposed dump. These can easily be changed with a stroke of a pen. No liquid now, but that can be changed. No mining waste now, but that can be changed. No High Level Nuclear Waste now, but that can be changed. Just as the management and ownership of the dump can change, should the financing prove too much for the Federal Government. They have off loaded other Government owned entities before, no different with nuclear waste. And there in comes International Nuclear Waste through the backdoor.

60 years ago, Aborginal people’s land desecrated by nuclear bombs. Now a new desecration – nuclear wastes?

June 21, 2020

Even I know off by heart the supercilious tones of the Chief Scientist of the British nuclear tests, Ernest Titterton’s on-screen completely false declaration: ‘No Aboriginal people were harmed.’  The discovery of Edie Milpuddie and family as they camped on the edge of the Marcoo bomb crater was dramatic exposure of that cruel fiction. It is extraordinary to see the actual footage of this moment in the film; and so sobering to hear again the terrible repercussions among her descendants.

‘No Aboriginal people were harmed.’ Add into that mix, English and Australian servicemen and the various pastoral landholders; and from the strong desert winds including across the APY Lands, we will never know the results of the further fallout across the state and nation.

Wind forward another 30 years again and the well being of another almost neighbouring group of Aboriginal people is threatened with nuclear repercussions: this time by the plan for the nation’s nuclear waste ‘stored’ (dumped) on their Country. Again as Traditional Owners, the Barngarla denied a say on their own Country, while a few white ‘latecomers’ were given theirs.

The nuclear fight: then and now,  Eureka Street  Michele Madigan, 04 June 2020 heeded?–then-and-now?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Thursday%204%20June%202020&utm_content=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Thursday%204%20June%202020+CID_d497ae8df79099faf8643a0a84a8536d&utm_source=Jescom%20Newsletters&utm_term=READ%20MORE  On Sunday 24th May, the ABC showed the documentary Maralinga Tjarutja produced and directed by lawyer, academic, filmmaker and Eualeyai/Kamillaroi woman Larissa Berendt. It was wonderful to see the Traditional Owners including the women given a current national voice as survivors of the British nuclear tests on their lands. Mima Smart OAM former long-term chairperson of Yalata Community was co-presenter with the chair of Maralinga Tjarutja, Jeremy Lebois; Mima’s Maralinga art, painted in collaboration with other Yalata minyma tjuta — women artists, becoming an integral background story — sometimes even in animation.

In the early 80s, after a monumental effort by the Aboriginal peoples of South Australia’s Far North West and their supporters, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunyjatjara Anangu gained their Land title. The Yalata people to the south at the time, I remember, had been discouraged by their then Community Advisor to take part. As a result, when the Yalata people’s will finally had their way, it meant that they had to make their own path

In response, the South Australian Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement called together previous supporters. I recall at this first meeting, various priests/pastors/church workers standing together in a circle declaring that they could see that the Pitjantjatjara (in those days the Yankunyjatjara were not named) had really deserved their title as they had remained on their land and kept their ceremonies.

What an extraordinary thing that it had to be pointed out to most of them that surely the Maralinga Tjarutja People had been doubly disadvantaged. Surely their forced removal from their traditional lands, then ‘blocked off’ (as they named it) for 30 years, made their cry for their title and their return just as, or even more, worthy.

As in the previous campaign, Yalata Anangu travelled to the capital city — this time the 1000 kms from SA’s Far West Coast. The struggle through the South Australian Parliament made harder this second time around as parliamentarians, having learned from the first Land Rights granted, were determined to force even more concessions.
But the 18th December 1984 victory celebration is a wonderful scene in the film. On site, on the Maralinga Lands, the nominated Elders Mr Queama and Mr Baker brought in by younger family to receive — at last — from Premier Bannon the so long awaited Land Title named the ‘Maralinga Land Rights’. Tjilpi kutjara, both Old Men, triumphantly flourishing the document and the faces of so many women and men, young people and kids reflecting this same glorious exultation. At last, after an incredible 30 years of exile — they could officially return to their lands — the real red soft earth of their heritage.

Even I know off by heart the supercilious tones of the Chief Scientist of the British nuclear tests, Ernest Titterton’s on-screen completely false declaration: ‘No Aboriginal people were harmed.’  The discovery of Edie Milpuddie and family as they camped on the edge of the Marcoo bomb crater was dramatic exposure of that cruel fiction. It is extraordinary to see the actual footage of this moment in the film; and so sobering to hear again the terrible repercussions among her descendants.

‘No Aboriginal people were harmed.’ Add into that mix, English and Australian servicemen and the various pastoral landholders; and from the strong desert winds including across the APY Lands, we will never know the results of the further fallout across the state and nation.

This is our Australian history; remarkable that it has continued to be so well hidden. Maralinga Tjarutja, now on ABC iView, gives all Australians the opportunity to come to terms with an arrogant deception and to witness the courage of the people surviving back on country.

Wind forward another 30 years again and the well being of another almost neighbouring group of Aboriginal people is threatened with nuclear repercussions: this time by the plan for the nation’s nuclear waste ‘stored’ (dumped) on their Country. Again as Traditional Owners, the Barngarla denied a say on their own Country, while a few white ‘latecomers’ were given theirs.

As with the British nuclear tests, obviously not only Aboriginal people are at risk of harm — and saying so. There are farmers concerned for their livelihood, family members concerned for their present and future generations and many South Australians concerned at the dangers of transporting intermediate long lived radioactive waste toxic across 1700 kms of our vast nation. No long term plan at all for a scientific resolution to the storage of this waste, toxic for an unimaginable 10,000 years.

There are the same bland assurances from successive ministers, the local MP and government bureaucrats that all will be well, nothing will go wrong; fears for lands and waters and the reputation of our state’s food, fibre and tourism brushed aside. Again a strong media secrecy, intended or otherwise, from all, save a few local regional outlets.

Again as with the British nuclear tests — 60 years later the determination of a federal government intent on maintaining secrecy of the real; this time hiding behind the false insistence of nuclear medicine at risk and careful assurances that radiation from bomb fallout was a completely different risk.

But — nuclear radiation is nuclear radiation

And as Mima Smart has said on the sands of Yalata Community, on the steps of Parliament house — ‘Enough is Enough.‘

No, they didn’t know what they were doing then in the 1950s/60s and they certainly don’t know what they’re doing now. Here’s the question: will the truth of some of this 21st century nuclear plan be allowed to emerge in the coming public hearings of the present Parliamentary Inquiry?

And if so, be heeded?

A reality check on the cost of nuclear power for Australia

June 21, 2020

Australia must not forget – the plutonium abuse of an Australian child, by Argonne National Laboratory

June 21, 2020


Paul Langley,, 14 Aug 17, 5 yr-old Simon Shaw and his mum. Simon was flown from Australia to the US on the pretext of medical treatment for his bone cancer. Instead, he was secretly injected with plutonium to see what would happen. His urine was measured, and he was flown back to Australia.

Though his bodily fluids remained radioactive, Australian medical staff were not informed. No benefit was imparted to Simon by this alleged “medical treatment” and he died of his disease after suffering a trip across the world and back at the behest of the USA despite his painful condition. The USA merely wanted a plutonium test subject. They called him CAL-2. And did their deed under the cover of phony medicine.

“Congress of the United States, House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515-2107, Edward J. Markey, 7th District, Massachusetts Committees, [word deleted] and Commerce, Chairman Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance, Natural Resources, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe] MEMORANDUM To: Congressman Edward J. Markey From: Staff Subject: The Plutonium Papers Date: 4/20/94

Staff Memo on Plutonium Papers


The medical file for Cal-2 also contains correspondence seeking follow-up from Argonne National Laboratory in the 1980s. Cal-2 was an Australian boy, not quite five years old, who was flown to the U.S. in 1946 for treatment of bone cancer. During his hospitalization in San Francisco, he was chosen as a subject for plutonium injection. He returned to Australia, where he died less than one year later.

Document 700474 is a letter from Dr. Stebbings to an official at the Institute of Public Health in Sydney, Australia, in an attempt to reach the family of Cal-2. This letter reports that the child was “injected with a long-lived alpha-emitting radionuclide.” Document 700471 is a letter from Dr. Stebbings to New South Wales, Australia (names and town deleted), inquiring about recollections of the boy’s hospitalization in 1946. The letter notes that, “those events have become rather important in some official circles here,” but provides few details to the family.

A hand-written note on the letter reports no response through October 8, 1987. Considering the history on the lack of informed consent with these experiments, it is surprising that the letters to Australia failed to mention the word “plutonium.”

The Australian news media has since identified Cal-2 as Simeon Shaw, the son of a wool buyer in New South Wales, and information on the injection created an international incident. The information in the medical file does indicate that at a time when Secretary Herrington told you that no follow-up would be conducted on living subjects, the Department of Energy was desperately interested in conducting follow-up on a deceased Australian patient.

In an effort to determine the full extent of follow-up by the Department after 1986, your staff has requested, through the Department’s office of congressional affairs, the opportunity to speak with Dr. Stebbings, Dr. Robertson, and any other officials who may have been involved in the follow-up. So far, that request has been unsuccessful. It remains an open question as to what was the full extent of follow-up performed in the 1980s, and whether the efforts then would facilitate any further follow-up on subjects now. It seems appropriate for the Interagency Working Group to address these questions as its efforts continue.”

Source: National Security Archives, George Washington University…/…/mstreet/commeet/meet1/brief1/br1n.txt

See also ACHRE Final Report.


Mr. President, you are wrong if you think you can do the same again re hormesis funding in Australia as the USA did with CAL-2. We have not forgotten and do not trust you or your paid agents in Australian universities such as Flinders.

An Email from Stichting Thorium MSR — The Industry Push to Force Nuclear Power in Australia

June 21, 2020

Why is the Majority Report of the Australian Senate here: so full of misinformation and a totally false set of technical assertions???

via An Email from Stichting Thorium MSR — The Industry Push to Force Nuclear Power in Australia


A tribute to the Maralinga traditional owners

June 21, 2020

This is a critical and never-ending land management responsibility which the Maralinga people, who suffered the environmental and health effects of the nuclear tests, have shouldered on behalf of the Australian community.

He was able to relate to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, cabinet ministers and homeless people alike. He treated everyone with candour and respect.

By word and deed he refused to accept that Aboriginal people were inferior

Why Archie Barton and the Maralinga traditional owners are the unsung heroes of the British nuclear test program in Australia  By Andrew Collett

Politicians, bureaucrats, scientists and advisers come and go. The traditional owners must plug on with the management and rehabilitation of their land — on behalf of us all.

Andrew Collett is an Adelaide barrister and one of the lawyers who has represented the Maralinga traditional owners since 1984. Find out more about the story of the people of Oak Valley and Yalata in a new ABC TV documentary, Maralinga Tjarutja, available to stream now on iview.

  The traditional owners of the 100,000 square kilometre Maralinga Lands didn’t only shoulder the harsh legacy of the British nuclear testing while it was happening in the 1950s and 60s.

To this day, they are managing the still contaminated test sites in far-west South Australia on behalf of Australia and Britain.

For this they receive little recognition and inadequate financial assistance — despite having established extremely constructive and enduring relationships with Australian scientists and government representatives.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains names and images of people who have died.

The Maralinga people were kept away from their lands and from any knowledge about what happened in the nuclear tests from 1955 until they obtained land rights and finally returned to their lands in 1985 — an isolation of 30 years, or well over a generation in Aboriginal terms.

For that 30 years the Maralinga people were kept at the Lutheran Mission at Yalata, away from their traditional lands, isolated from their Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara communities over 400 kilometres to the north and from much of their vibrant Western Desert tradition and ceremony.

They fell prey to social and cultural isolation and deteriorating health outcomes.

When they returned to their traditional lands in 1985, having been granted land rights to all their lands apart from the test sites, a royal commission was sitting in London examining what had happened during the Maralinga nuclear tests and why.

A constructive partnership with governmen (more…)

13 Australian peak Non Government Organisations seek stronger Environmental Law on Nuclear Issues

June 21, 2020

Joint ENGO Submission on Nuclear Issues as they Relate to the Environmental Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act Review 2020

This submission is made on behalf of the following national and state peak environment groups:

    • Australian Conservation Foundation,
    • Australian Nuclear Free Alliance,
    • Friends of the Earth Australia,
    • Greenpeace Australia Pacific,
    • Mineral Policy Institute,
    • The Wilderness Society,
    • Arid Lands Environment Centre,
    • Environment Centre NT,
    • Environment Victoria,
    • Conservation Council SA,
    • Conservation Council WA,
    • Nature Conservation Council NSW and Queensland Conservation Council.

This submission outlines the importance of retaining s140A of the EPBC Act which prohibits nuclear power; the retention of uranium exploration and mining in the definition of a Nuclear Action and the inclusion of Nuclear Actions as a Matter of National Environmental Significance (MNES).

This submission is made in consideration of the broader objects and principles of the Act and is based on evidence from recent inquiries into both nuclear power and uranium mining. There is clear evidence that nuclear activities can have a significant environmental and public health risk and, in many cases, irreversible impacts, and this is consistent with the current dedicated legislative prohibitions for both nuclear power and scrutiny for uranium mining.

While the current Act does not include a prohibition on uranium mining we strongly advocate that there be a national ban on uranium mining consistent with state legal or policy prohibitions in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and West Australia   Written by Mia Pepper, Jim Green, Dave Sweeney, David Noonan & Annica Schoo.

Summary of Recommendations


• that uranium mining and milling be included in s140A prohibitions as nuclear actions that the Minister must not approve, on the basis that the nuclear industry has failed to successfully remediate any uranium mine in Australia and has impacts inconsistent with the objects and principles of the EPBC Act.

• if the above recommendation is not adopted that uranium mining and milling remains within the definition of a ‘nuclear action’ and that nuclear actions continue to be listed as MNES and the protected matters continue to be listed as the ‘environment’ and so be subject to full environmental assessment at the state level

• DAWE to initiate an inquiry into the human and environmental impacts of uranium mining, as advised by the UN Secretary General following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, noting that Australian uranium was present in each of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors at the time of multiple reactor meltdowns

. • regulatory reform for existing operating mines • that the review committee recommend DAWE prioritise the rehabilitation of abandoned uranium mines and processing facilities, exploration sites and uranium mines that have been in care and maintenance for more than two years.

Nuclear Power:
• the retention of s140A of the EPBC Act 1999 which states “No approval for certain nuclear installations: The Minister must not approve an action consisting of or involving the construction or operation of any of the following nuclear installations: (a) a nuclear fuel fabrication plant; (b) a nuclear power plant; (c) an enrichment plant; (d) a reprocessing facility.”

Other Matters:
• a National Environmental Protection Authority be established
• the effectiveness of assessment bilateral agreements be reviewed, and approval bilateral agreements are not pursued
• legislate requirements for mine closure, address activities that are used to avoid mine closure and to work with states and territories to remediate existing legacy mine sites
• there be established internal process for DAWE to pursue the listing of newly identified species by referring to the Threatened Species Scientific Committee
• that the principles of free, prior and informed consent become a mandatory operational principle within the EPBC Act along with a governance mechanism to operationalise this principle……… .

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

June 21, 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 (more…)

Siberia’s alarming prolonged heat wave

June 20, 2020


Climate crisis: alarm at record-breaking heatwave in Siberia

Unusually high temperatures in region linked to wildfires, oil spill and moth swarms, Damian Carrington Environment editor

Thu 18 Jun 2020 A prolonged heatwave in Siberia is “undoubtedly alarming”, climate scientists have said. The freak temperatures have been linked to wildfires, a huge oil spill and a plague of tree-eating moths.

On a global scale, the Siberian heat is helping push the world towards its hottest year on record in 2020, despite a temporary dip in carbon emissions owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Temperatures in the polar regions are rising fastest because ocean currents carry heat towards the poles and reflective ice and snow is melting away.

Russian towns in the Arctic circle have recorded extraordinary temperatures, with Nizhnyaya Pesha hitting 30C on 9 June and Khatanga, which usually has daytime temperatures of around 0C at this time of year, hitting 25C on 22 May. The previous record was 12C.

In May, surface temperatures in parts of Siberia were up to 10C above average, according to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). Martin Stendel, of the Danish Meteorological Institute, said the abnormal May temperatures seen in north-west Siberia would be likely to happen just once in 100,000 years without human-caused global heating.

Freja Vamborg, a senior scientist at C3S, said: “It is undoubtedly an alarming sign, but not only May was unusually warm in Siberia. The whole of winter and spring had repeated periods of higher-than-average surface air temperatures.

“Although the planet as a whole is warming, this isn’t happening evenly. Western Siberia stands out as a region that shows more of a warming trend with higher variations in temperature. So to some extent large temperature anomalies are not unexpected. However, what is unusual is how long the warmer-than-average anomalies have persisted for.”

Marina Makarova, the chief meteorologist at Russia’s Rosgidromet weather service, said: “This winter was the hottest in Siberia since records began 130 years ago. Average temperatures were up to 6C higher than the seasonal norms.”

Robert Rohde, the lead scientist at the Berkeley Earth project, said Russia as a whole had experienced record high temperatures in 2020, with the average from January to May 5.3C above the 1951-1980 average. “[This is a] new record by a massive 1.9C,” he said.

In December, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, commented on the unusual heat: “Some of our cities were built north of the Arctic Circle, on the permafrost. If it begins to thaw, you can imagine what consequences it would have. It’s very serious.”

Thawing permafrost was at least partly to blame for a spill of diesel fuel in Siberia this month that led Putin to declare a state of emergency. The supports of the storage tank suddenly sank, according to its operators; green groups said ageing and poorly maintained infrastructure was also to blame.

Wildfires have raged across hundreds of thousands of hectares of Siberia’s forests. Farmers often light fires in the spring to clear vegetation, and a combination of high temperatures and strong winds has caused some fires to burn out of control.

Swarms of the Siberian silk moth, whose larvae eat at conifer trees, have grown rapidly in the rising temperatures. “In all my long career, I’ve never seen moths so huge and growing so quickly,” Vladimir Soldatov, a moth expert, told AFP.

He warned of “tragic consequences” for forests, with the larvae stripping trees of their needles and making them more susceptible to fires.