Archive for the ‘– politics Australia’ Category

Scrutinising ARPANSA’s Information for Stakeholders on nuclear radioactive waste facility

February 1, 2017

Effectively this is the same draconian situation that existed under the earlier Commonwealth Noonan, David
Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 introduced by the Howard government to override State and Territory interests to protect community health, safety and welfare from the risks and impacts of nuclear wastes and to nullify Federal laws that protect against imposition of nuclear wastes.


Public submission to the draft ARPANSA Information for Stakeholders & associated Regulatory Guide to Licensing a Radioactive Waste Storage or Disposal Facility

Summary

Revised ARPANSA “Information for Stakeholders” should address the following:

The nuclear fuel waste Store in the Flinders Ranges is intended to operate for approx. 100 years.

The ARPANSA “Information for Stakeholders” fails to be transparent and is not fit for purpose.

ARPANSA must inform the public on the proposed licence period for this nuclear fuel waste Store.

ARPANSA should also publicly acknowledge the Contingency that the proposed nuclear fuel waste Store may be at a different site to the proposed near surface Repository in the Flinders Ranges.

The proposed above ground Store in our iconic Flinders Ranges is unnecessary as the ANSTO’s existing Interim Waste Store (IWS) at the Lucas Heights Technology Centre can manage reprocessed nuclear fuel waste on contract from France and from the United Kingdom over the long term.

The ANSTO application for the Interim Waste Store was conservatively predicated on a 40 year operating life for the IWS, and ANSTO has a contingency to “extend it for a defined period of time”.

ANSTO also has a contingency option for the “Retention of the returned residues at ANSTO until the availability of a final disposal option” – which does not involve a Store in the Flinders Ranges.

The Lucas Heights Technology Centre is by far the best placed Institution and facility to responsibly manage Australia’s existing nuclear fuel waste and proposed waste accruals from the Opal reactor.

The Interim Waste Store (IWS) at the Lucas Heights Technology Centre can conservatively function throughout the proposed operating period of the Opal reactor without a requirement for an alternative above ground nuclear fuel waste Store at a NRWMF in the Flinders Ranges or elsewhere.

It is an inexplicably omission or an unacceptably act of denial for ARPANSA to fail to even identity or to properly explain Australia’s existing nuclear fuel wastes and proposed further decades of Opal reactor nuclear fuel waste production in the “Information for Stakeholders”.

Australia’s nuclear fuel wastes are by far the highest activity and most concentrated and hazardous nuclear wastes under Australian management, and must be distinguished from other waste forms. (more…)

The legal barriers to Australia importing nuclear wastes

November 21, 2016

Nuclear waste debate re-emerges in Australia. Moulis Legal 17.11.16

“…….A long history of talk but with little “legal” support

South Australia’s proposal to encourage the world to export its high-level nuclear waste to Australia is in stark contrast to the previous positions of both the Federal and South Australian Governments. Moreover, significant reform to State laws and to existing Federal practice would be required to facilitate the proposal, none of which has been formulated.

In 1998, the responsible Federal Minister condemned a recommendation by nuclear waste management consortium Pangea Resources for a repository for international high-level nuclear waste in the Western Australian outback. He reiterated Australia’s long-standing bipartisan opposition to such a development:

…no high level radioactive waste facility is planned for Australia and the government has absolutely no intention of accepting the radioactive waste of other countries. The policy is clear and absolute and will not be changed. We will not be accepting radioactive waste from other countries.1

After only cursory consideration of the repository idea in 1998, Western Australia actually went the other way, passing a law to make it illegal to establish a nuclear waste storage facility in the State, or to use any part of the State to store or dispose of nuclear waste, or to even transport nuclear waste in the State.2

Other Australian states – New South Wales;3 Queensland;4 Victoria;5 and South Australia6 – have enacted similar legislation either completely prohibiting a nuclear waste facility in their jurisdiction or making it necessary to seek certain approvals to build one. These legislative constraints would first need to be addressed before any facility were to be capable of being built in any of those States.

At a Federal level, a nuclear waste facility is not prohibited, however the statute responsible for creating the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (“ARPANSA”) also places a blanket ban the construction of nuclear fuel fabrication plants, power plants, enrichment plants and reprocessing facilities.

ARPANSA can permit imports of radioactive waste

Despite the above State prohibitions on the building of nuclear waste facilities and on the transportation of nuclear waste, no absolute prohibition applies to the importation of radioactive waste into Australia. Regulation 4R of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (“the Regulations”) stipulates that radioactive substances can be imported into Australia, but only if permission has been granted by the Customs Minister or an authorised officer, such as the CEO of ARPANSA.7

ARPANSA administers Australia’s rights and obligations under a number of specific international treaties, with the most relevant to radioactive waste disposal and storage being the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (“IAEA”) Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management(“the Joint Convention”) which was ratified by Australia in 2003.

The discretion under regulation 4R of the Regulations to approve radioactive imports has rarely been afforded with respect to radioactive waste and never on a premise of the commercial disposal of international nuclear waste. ARPANSA officials readily advise interested parties that “current Commonwealth Government policy prohibits importation of spent nuclear fuel or radioactive waste of foreign origin into Australia”.

The international framework

The Joint Convention enforces a commitment to achieving and maintaining a consistently high-level of safety in the management, transboundary movement and disposal of spent fuel and radioactive waste. The Joint Convention notes:

… radioactive waste should, as far as is compatible with the safety of the management of such material, be disposed of in the State in which it was generated, whilst recognizing that, in certain circumstances, safe and efficient management of spent fuel and radioactive waste might be fostered through agreements among [the] Parties to use facilities in one of them for the benefit of the other Parties, particularly where waste originates from joint projects8

These principles are also recognised in the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, to which Australia is also a party.9 The Joint Convention also recognises that any state has the right to ban import into its territory of foreign spent fuel and radioactive waste.10

Additionally, just as Australia exports unspent nuclear material, being uranium, to foreign countries under safeguards, countries like Canada do too. Those safeguards are essentially accounting and inspection procedures designed to ensure that neither the uranium nor any by-product of it (such as plutonium) could be used to contribute to the construction of a weapon. Bodies such as the IAEA and the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (an office within the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) track exported nuclear material through its whole lifecycle, all the way through to the spent fuel and the reprocessing and/or the recycling of that fuel.

Any facility that were to accept international nuclear waste could also expect to be subject to scrutiny against the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (“NPT”). The overall quality and security of any nuclear waste disposal facility, as well the country that hosts it, need to satisfy extremely high domestic and international standards to be commercially – and politically – viable.

By virtue of both the Joint Convention and the NPT, Australia would need to establish treaties with overseas governments interested in disposing their nuclear waste in the facility, to specify the arrangements that would be put in place for the management of nuclear waste. Australia may also be obliged to seek evidence of “upstream” agreements in circumstances where the original nuclear product and/or the waste has moved between third party countries before its exportation to Australia…….. http://moulislegal.com/nuclear-waste-debate-re-emerges-in-australia/

Australia must rethink the way that it is a nuclear target, because of Pine Gap

November 21, 2016

when China looks at Australia, it will see Australia as an American base

“I think fundamentally we have to ask is that really the way we want to go. The signal we’re sending to Americans is that if they go to war with China, sure, we’ll be part of that.”

“It is embedding us in global military operations for which there is little strategic benefit for Australia.”

We are told mass surveillance makes us safer and in our fear we accept growing militarisation….. these facilities most likely don’t protect us, but put us at greater risk….These are the questions we don’t discuss.

US military bases in Australia: Protecting us or putting us at risk? http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/us-military-bases-in-australia-protecting-us-or-putting-us-at-risk/news-story/274681984ca0959242829f9da8fa338e    Emma Reynolds news.com.au @emmareyn OCTOBER 2, 2016 THE US is strengthening a network of secretive military bases across Australia that could be used for waging wars against our interests, it was claimed at a weekend summit.

We are providing the US with extra capacity to make that happen, says Prof Tanter.

PINE GAP — ‘THE POISONED HEART OF AUSTRALIA’

Pine Gap was established in Alice Springs in 1966 when the CIA came up with the idea of putting satellites 36,000 kilometres above the earth’s surface. These had giant antennae that could listen to very weak signals from Soviet missiles testing, allowing the agency to work out the capability of enemy weapons.

The spy base was placed in isolated Alice in the NT because at the time, the massive amount of data had to be collected over 130km of land.

Prof Tanter says Pine Gap rivals Uluru as the symbolic centre of Australia, with its strange, mysterious power.

“It’s the poisoned heart of Australia and it is increasingly having an effect on our defence policies and the way in which we conduct our foreign policy,” he says.

The establishment of Pine Gap heralded the start of the American early warning system, which involved powerful infra-red telescopes staring at the earth looking for the heat bloom of nuclear weapons. And it continues to grow in strength long after the Cold War, with the number of antennae growing from two or three in 1970 to 33 today.

It has also grown in capability — picking up satellite and mobile phone transmissions that are important for conducting war in Iraq and Afghanistan and monitoring people allegedly carrying out terrorist activities. It spots jet aircraft in the sky and explosions on the ground.

If a North Korean missile takes off, its trajectory can be rapidly beamed to the US, triggering a possible drone assassination. Prof Tanter says such behaviour makes Australia a target.

“Do we really want to be implicated in that?”

DARWIN — TROOPS ON THE GROUND
In 2011, President Barack Obama visited Darwin to announce US troops would begin making regular visits to the Northern Territory as part of the country’s “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region.

The Gillard government agreed to the “permanent rotation of US marines and US air force aircraft”, meaning we have a constant flow of US soldiers on the ground in Australia. There are currently 1500, but this could rise to 2500.

It was this development that triggered the establishment of IPAN in 2012 as onlookers became alarmed at the move from “the invasion of nerd and computer freaks” to actual “troops in uniform with rifles”, Denis Doherty, national co-ordinator of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign, told news.com.au.

Some of the world’s best fighters and bombers, and Osprey hybrid aircraft, now regularly fly into Darwin and nearby Shoal Bay Receiving Station and RAAF Tindal in Katherine, with huge ships coming down from a US base in Okinawa, Japan.

The purpose is officially for training, but IPAN delegates say Australia has also acquiesced to potential deployment.

A few thousand troops may sound like small beer but in conjunction with marines at US bases in Hawaii, Okinawa and Guam, it is a significant force.

OTHER BASES The Defence Satellite Communication Station at Geraldton in Western Australia, along with Kojarena 20km inland, was one of Australia’s spy bases. It is now shared with two large American operational military communication systems that pull down information on Indonesian and Chinese satellites from the sky. This is part of the Five Eyes surveillance system used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kojarena is creating “battlefield conditions”, says Mr Doherty, providing data a soldier in Iraq can use to ascertain what’s behind a hill — the visual, weather and so on — making it “an American war fighting base”.

Australia paid $800 million for one of the satellites used by this system. But if America does not approve of an operation the Australian Defence Force requests, for example in Timor, it can turn off our access, says Prof Tanter.

The US also has access to the Delamere Air Weapons range and the Bradshaw Ranges (which are the size of Cyprus) in the NT, and the multinational training facility of Shoalwater Bay in Rockhampton, which boasts a mock town complete with pub, mosque and church.

America trains its troops in Australia in all conditions — jungle, savannah, woodland and desert.

Mr Doherty believes there are effectively almost 50 joint bases from Broome in WA to Richmond in NSW, since the US can use all Australian bases in a poorly defined “emergency”, and regularly does. The government insists there are only two joint bases, Pine Gap and North West Cape, since troops rotate out of Darwin — a claim Prof Tanter slams as “specious”.

“If it was built by the United States, if it was paid for by the United States, and if it can only function as part of an American global technology, then it’s an American base to which Australia might have some access; greater or lesser access as time goes on.”

AUSTRALIA’S PROBLEM

So why is the US using our bases a problem? Well, we aren’t just passive bystanders.

“Australia is very, very deeply involved,” says Prof Tanter.

Aussies work in every division of Pine Gap. The Aboriginal woman who introduced Friday night’s public forum revealed her mother worked there as a cleaner in the 1960s and knew nothing about its purpose. Even the hotel where the conference takes place is a supplier for the base, providing catering and accommodation for staff.

“At least we’re not locked out the way we were before, but with that comes culpability,” says Prof Tanter.

“The government seems to lack the ability to ask the question, ‘When do Australian and American interests coincide, and when do they not?’”

He suggests nuclear war or unethical activity in countries where we are not at war might be examples of that. We could be implicated in human rights offences.

“It is embedding us in global military operations for which there is little strategic benefit for Australia.”

The agreement seems “asymmetrical” to the professor. We have spent 13 years in Afghanistan and lost 40 soldiers and seen 250 seriously wounded, he notes.

“We’re an island a long way from anywhere. The most important thing is to get over this psychology of dependence.”

We find ourselves integrated with other US bases across Asia-Pacific, with bombing information from Delamere weapons range fed back to Canberra, Hawaii and then Washington.

Prof Tanter warns that when China looks at Australia, it will see Australia as an American base

“I think fundamentally we have to ask is that really the way we want to go. The signal we’re sending to Americans is that if they go to war with China, sure, we’ll be part of that.”

A Defence White Paper released in March emphasised the paramount importance of the US and its role in “global security”, stressing Australia’s desire to maintain strong military ties to America and increased “interoperability” of the two countries’ systems. The paper asserts the US “will continue to be Australia’s most important strategic partner”.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says the two main parties are strangely bipartisan when it comes to not criticising defence decisions.

“The Liberals don’t stand up and say, why has there been no discussion on Darwin.”

He believes our submission to US interests, particularly in the case of the Iraq invasion that ordinary Australians were against, “paved the way for IS”.

A Defence Department spokesman this week told news.com.au facilities like Pine Gap make an important contribution to national security.

He said it provides intelligence on priorities such as terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and foreign military capability and weapons developments. It also supports monitoring of compliance with arms control and disarmament agreements and provides ballistic missile early warning information.

We are told mass surveillance makes us safer and in our fear we accept growing militarisation — but the conference speakers contest that these facilities most likely don’t protect us, but put us at greater risk.

Where should the decision to deploy lie? Do we need to host these bases? Should they do all the things they do? These are the questions we don’t discuss.

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

June 12, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

How smart are these people?????

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

Humungous amount of nuclear waste targeted for importing to Australia

June 12, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Australian Labor Party Policy opposed to nuclear industry

June 12, 2016

2015 National Policy Platform states:

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

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

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

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

South Australia Nuclear Royal Commission- analysis of its first Issues Paper

April 28, 2015

The paper appears to be totally confused by what is a cyclic process. For example, the phrase “once-through” cycle is an oxymoron and reprocessing spent fuel is just that, not recycling. These terms come from the nuclear industry’s spin doctors.

Nowhere in this Issues Paper is information given on Government funding of the nuclear industry either directly in the form of grants and through government supplied services such as exploration, testing, environmental, and occupational health and safety services or indirect in the form of administrative services associated with the nuclear industry. We have no way of telling, for example, whether government expenditure has been recouped through royalties.


NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE (sic) ROYAL COMMISSION

ISSUES PAPER ONE
EXPLORATION, EXTRACTION AND MILLING (of Uranium and Thorium),  critique by Dennis Matthews, 20 Apr 15 

This, the first issues paper of the SA Government’s commission into expanding SA’s role in the nuclear industry, will confirm the worst fears of those who suspect that this commission is an expensive farce funded by the taxpayers of SA , and that the decision to expand the nuclear industry in SA is an ALP-LP-nuclear industry done deal.

The issues paper is the product of the SA Government’s mining bureaucracy, a bureaucracy that has a long history of a gung-ho environmental vandalism in the name of development. In the days when uranium mining was being considered at Roxby, Beverley and Honeymoon it was called the Dept of Mines & Energy but was known in the environment circles as the Dept of Mines & Mines, there never was any interest in anything form of energy other than coal, gas, oil and uranium.

Thanks to the Australian Democrats we got the Renewable Energy Target (RET) which overnight led to significant investment in wind energy in SA. We then got an even better result in the form of rooftop solar, the ultimate challenge to the fossil-nuclear fuel lobby and to multinational energy corporations in general. Not surprisingly the Liberal-Labor duopoly is now trying to reverse this challenge to big business’ control over electricity generation. To a ruling duopoly, which has given us widespread privatisation of essential services, consumer control over electricity generation is anathema.

The issues paper has four sections. Under BACKGROUND the paper describes in broad terms the geology of SA in respect to deposits of uranium and thorium. The latter are described as “common, naturally occurring radioactive metallic elements in the Earth’s crust.” There is no mention of the associated radioactive elements such as radium and gaseous radon.

The fact that uranium and thorium are commonly occurring and natural appears to be intended to make the reader feel at ease. It is worth pointing out that many dangerous, toxic substances such as asbestos, lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic are also common and naturally occurring.

Because of its carcinogenic nature and because the industry successfully denied that it was a problem for many decades, asbestos is particularly relevant to the exploration, extraction and milling of uranium and thorium.

The use of radioactive thorium mantles for gas lamps used in enclosed spaces such as houses and tents was still common practice in the 1980’s. Such mantles were readily available in hardware and camping stores. When in use these radioactive mantles deteriorated forming a fine radioactive dust.

In this section, mention is made of existing uranium mines in SA but there is no mention of the associated social or environmental problems.

Section A. EXPLORATION also makes no mention of social and environmental costs.

Despite the fact that significant exploration occurred around about 1980 in relation to the Roxby Downs, Beverley and Honeymoon deposits no data is given on the expenditure. Instead the graph “South Australian uranium exploration expenditure” (Figure 3) starts in 1999-2000 with the first noticeable expenditure (about $2mill) occurring in 2003-04, rising to a peak of about $190mill in 2007-08 and falling to about $4mill in 2013-14. There is no information given as to whether the data in Figure 3 is in real $ (say 1992 $) nor whether it is private or government-funded expenditure.

Nowhere in this Issues Paper is information given on Government funding of the nuclear industry either directly in the form of grants and through government supplied services such as exploration, testing, environmental, and occupational health and safety services or indirect in the form of administrative services associated with the nuclear industry. We have no way of telling, for example, whether government expenditure has been recouped through royalties.

Section B. EXTRACTION AND MILLING talks about Radium Hill, Roxby Downs, Honeymoon, Beverley and Four Mile but no mention is made of radioactive waste dumping at these sites.

Honeymoon is said to have operated until 2013 and Beverley until 2014 but no mention is made of when they started operating or of the social, environmental and economic costs to the people of SA. Nor is any mention made of the fact that in 1983 the SA Government withheld permission for the Honeymoon and Beverley mines. It took 20 years for these projects to be resurrected only to be turned off within a decade.
The paper gives the irrelevant figure of an “estimated” 13,800 people “involved” directly in SA mining activities in 2012. No reason is given for using 2012 data instead of the latest figures which are probably lower.

The paper then goes on to state

“It is difficult to estimate the employment figure attributable to uranium extraction and milling alone as multiple commodities are extracted at Olympic Dam and figures are not separated in reported information.”

Presumably the Commission has the power to require that BHP Billiton provides this information.

On the basis that Olympic Dam is the largest employer in the SA mining industry and that uranium is a by-product of extracting copper then employment attributable to uranium extraction and milling in 2012 is probably of the order of less than 200.

Quoting a figure of 13,800 in the context of an issues paper on the nuclear industry is therefore highly misleading.

It is stated that international demand for uranium is primarily driven by its use in electricity generation. This conveniently overlooks the fact that the demand and price for uranium are influenced by the supply and demand for uranium to be used in weapons, including nuclear bombs and weapons containing high concentrations of uranium and its radioactive fission products (so-called “depleted” uranium or DU weapons). This becomes apparent when concentrated fissile uranium (so-called “highly enriched” uranium or HEU) from dismantled nuclear weapons is released onto the uranium market.

According to issues paper 395 nuclear power stations (reactors?) are currently in operation, that 66 reactors are under construction, and another 165 planned. No timelines are given for either the construction or the planning. Given the past history of the nuclear industry, these figures should be viewed with considerable scepticism.

The paper then goes on to state that almost 200 reactors are due to be decommissioned “in the next 25 years”.

The net result of these figures is that there is highly unlikely to be any net expansion of the nuclear industry and no increase in demand for new uranium in the foreseeable future.

The paper quotes the International Energy Agency (IEA) as saying that the expansion of the nuclear industry “depends on listening to, and addressing public concerns, about the technology.”

The South Australian Government has chosen to ignore the advice of the International Energy Agency, and exclude public concerns from its inquiry and the inquiry commissioner has made a pre-emptive strike against such concerns by implying that they are emotional.

The paper appears to be totally confused by what is a cyclic process. For example, the phrase “once-through” cycle is an oxymoron and reprocessing spent fuel is just that, not recycling. These terms come from the nuclear industry’s spin doctors.

Figure 4 purports to show global uranium production (supply?) and demand. The production curve starts in about 1956 whilst the demand curve starts in 1947 with the demand curve much higher than the production curve until about 1986 when the production curve rapidly falls below the demand curve. This suggests that the excess demand from 1947 to 1986 was for nuclear weapons and the excess production from about 1990 to 2013 was due either to nuclear weapons material being put on the open market, or to stockpiling.

It is claimed “the interaction of these (production and demand) factors has been reflected in the traded price of uranium oxide [Figure 5].”
Figure 5 is unusual in several ways. Firstly, it doesn’t cover the same time period as Figure 4, it only gives prices from 1982 whereas the production-demand curves start in 1947.

Secondly, for spot prices, rather than the normal weekly values it uses yearly averages. This has the effect of smoothing out the erratic behaviour of the spot price and reducing the peaks in spot price. For example, the large peak which occurred in April 2007 at a spot price of USD136 /lb is shown in figure 5 as occurring in 2007 at $USD90/lb.

Thirdly, Figure 5 shows average US, Canadian and Australian export prices but not the more relevant average South Australian export price.

Fourthly, the price is expressed in current $ rather than real $, which makes it difficult to compare prices and to detect trends in the real value of the export.

The paper refers to the fact that the price on US long term contracts have increased in the last decade. Not only are the USD not real $ but the apparent increase is from a very low base and, according to figure 5, did not exceed (even in current $) 1982 values until about 2006. In real $, prices did not recover to 1982 values until much later. As a consequence, the vast majority of South Australian uranium was sold at rock bottom prices.

SECTION C. RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES contains only a small amount of material that addresses issues that the International Energy Agency thinks are vital to the future of the nuclear industry. The fact that the commission is trying to ignore these issues means that millions of dollars of South Australian taxpayers is probably being wasted on a futile exercise. This is occurring at a time when the SA Government is crying poor and is looking at new ways of raising more money from taxpayers.

The crucial deficiency of this section is that the commission only wants to consider new or different risks for the health and safety of workers and the community, and new environmental risks or increased existing risks. This presupposes that existing risks are acceptable, an assumption that has no rational or scientific basis and which is the crux of what the International Energy Agency says must be addressed.

When it comes to South Australian finances the paper estimates only one figure on only side of the ledger, the royalties paid to the South Australian Government in 2013-14. It makes no attempt to estimate total royalties starting with commercial extraction of uranium at Roxby Downs in 1988, or the direct financial cost to the South Australian Government, or the net direct financial benefit to the South Australian Government.

Bearing in mind that all mineral resources belong to the people of South Australia, it is crucial that we be told what is the direct net financial return (if any) that we have received per kilogram of exported uranium.

Australian Shire might host nuclear reactor, but they object to hosting its wastes

October 31, 2013

The people of Sutherland Shire call on the government to address the long-term future of nuclear waste associated with the continued operation of the ANSTO reactor and increased waste production associated with the new nuclear medicine centre.’

‘‘The continued transportation of intermediate level radioactive waste to Lucas Heights in the form of reprocessed fuel represents an unnecessary risk to the surrounding residents and communities.’’.

Mayor reacts to ANSTO licence for new nuclear medicine facility at Lucas Heights  St George and Sutherland Shire Leader Oct. 4, 2013, .The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) has issued a licence to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation to prepare a site for the ANSTO Nuclear Medicine Molybdenum-99 Facility at Lucas Heights.

The move prompted Sutherland Shire mayor Steve Simpson to renew the council’s calls for the federal government to address the problem of long-term management of radioactive waste from the Lucas Heights centre and establish a national nuclear waste repository as priority.

‘‘The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) has announced it has granted a licence for ANSTO to increase the production of medical isotopes,  which brings to the fore, the dire need for a permanent nuclear storage centre,’’ Cr Simpson said……..

A Synroc waste treatment plant – the first of its kind in the world – and which would be built to treat waste generated by the new centre, is still under review.

If approved the plant would solidify the liquid waste and make it transportable.

‘‘The repository needs to be built now,’’ Cr Simpson said.

‘‘For too long, the government has ignored the outstanding problems of nuclear waste management.

‘‘The people of Sutherland Shire call on the government to address the long-term future of nuclear waste associated with the continued operation of the ANSTO reactor and increased waste production associated with the new nuclear medicine centre.”

Cr Simpson said the lack of a repository had prompted ANSTO to request approval to construct an interim storage centre at its Lucas Heights site.

‘‘Reprocessed fuel will be returned to Australia from France in 2015; other shipments of reprocessed and conditioned fuel will follow in subsequent years,” he said.

‘‘We are concerned that in the absence of a national repository, not only will the 2015 shipment be sent to ANSTO but subsequent shipments will be sent to Lucas Heights for storage, which is not a suitable site for a radioactive waste repository.

‘‘The continued transportation of intermediate level radioactive waste to Lucas Heights in the form of reprocessed fuel represents an unnecessary risk to the surrounding residents and communities.’’…….http://www.theleader.com.au/story/1821045/mayor-reacts-to-ansto-licence-for-new-nuclear-medicine-facility-at-lucas-heights/?cs=1507

ILUA Indigenous Land Use Agreement means Australian Aboriginal land under attack

September 14, 2013

Australia: ILUA Indigenous Land Use Agreement Equals Indigenous Land Under Attack http://indigenouspeoplesissues.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=17864:australia-ilua-indigenous-land-use-agreement-equals-indigenous-land-under-attack&catid=24&Itemid=57   Native Title lawyers and anthropologists are deceiving claimants of their true Native Title rights and interests Michael Anderson said from Goodooga on July 2:2013

From my involvement in the Gomeroi Nation’s recent experiences with mining companies, who seek to destroy our Country, it is clear that the Native Title applicants and claimants are being maliciously misled in the Native Title process. The Sovereign Union is seeking legal advice about a class action against Native Title lawyers, anthropologists and the Federal government sponsored Native Title Representative bodies.
The NSW Native Title Corporation Representative body (NTSCorp), the majority of Native Title lawyers and anthropologists fail to inform the various Native Title applicants and claimants that their Law and custom incorporates, and is inclusive of, all flora and fauna that lives in and belongs to their territories.
In the Mabo No. 2 judgement the High Court held that Aboriginal connections to land under Law and custom establish a recognised legal proprietary interest in the claimed lands, waters and airspace.
Various land occupiers may hold the freehold, perpetual pastoral leases or other land titles exhaustively itemised in the Schedule to the Native Title Act but this does not extinguish First Nations Peoples’ proprietary interests in their plants, trees, medicines and shrubs, as well as the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects and all naturally occurring living beings. Generally Native Title lawyers and anthropologists do not press these rights and interests in the Native Title process.
When one looks at how the Aboriginal Native Title rights and interests are dealt with, it is clear that the lawyers and anthropologists are not fulfilling the legal trust that has been conferred upon them.
If there is no clear and plain intention described in legislation relating to land, water, environment, biodiversity, vegetation, petroleum and gas that Aboriginal rights and interests are extinguished, then our rights and interests continue and are paramount. It is incorrect and irresponsible for lawyers and anthropologists to fail to contest First Nations’ rights and interests in all these matters under our own Law and customs.
First Nations’ Law and custom is made up of an inclusiveness of the native flora and fauna and natural biodiversities as they represent our Dreamings, which are incorporated under our totemic connections through our religion, spirituality and under our Dreaming.
The failure of lawyers and anthropologists to argue these facts for and on behalf of their clients is a dereliction of their fudiciary obligations, a breach of their obligatory trust.
The anthropologists’ failure to clarify Aboriginal customary Law is a sheer injustice. All they need to do to understand their obligations is to read the submissions made on Yolngu Law, custom and relationship to the Gove land rights case of 1971 in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory by the people of Yirrkala and anthropologist Ronald Berndt. In this case Justice Blackburn understood that the complexity of Aboriginal society was clearly governed by the rule of law and not of men (but he nevertheless ruled against the plaintiffs). Justice Blackburn stated:
‘The evidence shows a subtle and elaborate system highly adapted to the country in which the people led their lives, which provided a stable order of society and was remarkably free from the vagaries of personal whim or influence. If ever a system could be called ‘a government of laws, and not of men’, it is that shown in the evidence before me. (58) Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd, (1971) 17 FLR 141] at p. 267
Anthropologists of today appear not to want to rock the boat preferring to maintain the status quo, as it appears their consultancies and salaries are more important to preserve than First Nations’ inherent rights. Similarly, the Native Title lawyers appear to avoid having the courts clarify the entirety of First Nations’ rights and interests.
f the lawyers took their legal obligations more seriously, rather than maintaining the status quo, they will find that the Mabo No.2 judgement has been expanded by Canadian Supreme Court cases (eg Guerin v R) that where they describe and define that Aboriginal proprietary rights and interests generally are of a usufructuary nature, which includes the beneficial right to use all natural resources.
The Australian lawyers also fail to argue that under common law the 1888 Canadian case St. Cathrine’s Milling Lumber v Queen and the subsequent decisions of the Privy Council confirm that Aboriginal rights have survived the alleged sovereign claim by the British to Aboriginal lands. The fact that Native Title lawyers and Native Title services are eagerly encouraging First Nations people to sign ILUAs [Indigenous Land Use Agreements] without properly contesting First Nations’ inherent rights is in itself a crime.
Indigenous Land Use Agreements are a convenient way of deceiving the people into divesting their inherent sovereign rights. Too often our people are signing ILUAs, unaware that they are signing away inherent sovereign rights and without being fully informed of the consequences of signing. Often the signatories are under duress from the Native Title Services Corporation and the lawyers, who pressure the applicants and claimants to sign, arguing if they don’t sign they’ll get nothing. Native Title in Australia serves only to legally divest First Nations Peoples of their true inherent rights. These denials have serious ramifications for our people, economically, socially, culturally, politically.
The Federal National Native Title Tribunal is complicit in one the world’s greatest legal debacles of all time, by authorising development and exploitation against First Nations’ wishes while there is a legally registered Native Title claim sitting on the Federal Court books. That is to say, when a Native Title claim is registered by the Federal Court in Australia it becomes an active court case where First Nations Peoples are contesting their inherent rights to Country.
For Federal and state ministers to approve mining exploration and/or mining on and within the claimed areas is in fact a legal contempt for the court process under the sub judice rule, as they are permitting mining companies and developers to begin their destruction and desecration before a Native Title case is finalised.
It is travesty of justice for the white lawyers to ignore this fact, which jeopardises a claim and falsely implies that Aboriginal Peoples have no, or limited, interest in the land claimed, where there is freehold or perpetual leases involved, or lands identified in the Schedule to the Native Title Act. It can only be assumed that the governments’ minsters and the National Native Title Tribunal decisions for mining and/or development to be activated within a registered claim area is predicated on the basis that Native Title rights and interests do not exist.
At this stage, it is not all title that we are contesting, but it is our Law and custom and our connection to Mother Earth that we asserting, that is, trees, plants, shrubs, medicines, animals and all the biodiversity, including water and airspace, where we have an intrinsic cultural and spiritual links. This includes the natural resources below the ground, where our spirits travel and dwell are inherently ours under our law and custom.
The National Native Title Tribunal has breached the legal trust that is placed in them. There is an important need to now review the whole Native Title process including a need to review all the legal advice that has led to the signing of ILUAs and the crippling Native Title determinations that have been made in every State in Australia.
The Native Title lawyers, the National Native Title Tribunal, the Federally funded Native Title Representative bodies and anthropologists are engaged in a major deceitful act against Aboriginal Peoples. If ever one sought to witness an act of contempt for due process of law then this is it. Because we are religiously and spiritually connected under the Dreaming, these actions are in direct violation of Section 116 of the Australian Constitution:
COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT – SECT 116
Commonwealth not to legislate in respect of religion
The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.
First Nations’ Law and custom, as decreed in the Dreaming, constitutes a divine right and obligation on our part, under our Law and custom.
As sure as day follows night, if our own legal strategy leads to a class action against Native Title lawyers and anthropologists, then we will prosecute it in the most vigorous manner. Enough is enough and when you have legal firms from within the country deceiving the people who trust in their advice, then every effort must be made to correct this modern day crime against humanity.