Expert, independent and public: Call grows for a new approach to radioactive waste management

handsoffAustralian civil society groups have called on the Federal Government to take a new approach to the vexed issue of radioactive waste management.

In an open letter to federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane national environment groups, the ACTU, public health and Aboriginal representatives have urged the Minister to move away from a search for a postcode for a remote dump in favour of a credible and open examination of the range of management options.

The groups’ letter states:

For over two decades, successive Australian governments have sought to manage Australia’s radioactive waste inventory through the development of a co-located remote central dump and store. This approach has repeatedly failed to win social license and has been characterised by division, contest and the inability of the Commonwealth to realise a site. There is no reason to think that repeating this approach in a new place would lead to a different outcome and seeking site nominations from communities that often suffer extensive economic disadvantage risks placing many in an invidious position. The approach taken to date on radioactive waste management has led to a polarisation of views and a lack of the consensus and discourse required to realise lasting solutions.

“As health practitioners we see that Australia now has both a real chance and the clear need to avoid another sweep it under the carpet response to our nuclear waste problem,” said Dr Peter Tait of the Public Health Association of Australia.

“A national inquiry into the long term, responsible management of Australia’s nuclear waste is overdue and necessary.”

The Federal Government has indicated its intention to start a national search for a waste site from early November.

“Industrial waste and its management is a serious issue that requires genuine and open scrutiny. Everyone, including workers, gets a better result from a better decision making process,” said Australian Council of Trade Unions President Ged Kearney.

The call for a review follows the failure of the federal plan to open a national radioactive waste site at Muckaty in the Northern Territory.

“The Muckaty community is the latest in a line of Aboriginal communities at multiple sites across South Australia and the NT who have taken action against remote dumping plans,” said Natalie Wasley from the Beyond Nuclear Initiative. “The approach of the past two decades has failed to deliver and it is time for a new approach.”

The majority of Australia’s existing radioactive waste is currently stored at two secure federal sites. Waste set to return in 2015 from reprocessing in France is already slated for storage at one of these sites. The signatory groups see this as providing the federal government with an opportunity to do things differently and better.

“Radioactive waste is a difficult issue, but not an impossible one,” said Australian Conservation Foundation spokesperson Dave Sweeney.

“Radioactive waste lasts far longer than any politician so we need to get the management of this material right – the best way to do this is through open and evidence based policy and planning.”

Further Comment:

Dave Sweeney 0408 317 812

Natalie Wasley 0429 900 774

MEDIA RELEASE  13 October 2014

Doctors Prescribe NO URANIUM deal with India

Melbourne, Australia: Wednesday 03 September 2014:    Australian and Indian medical doctors have urged a re-think on planned uranium sales ahead of Prime Minister Abbott’s visit to India on Thursday 4th September 2014. The doctors recently met on 27 -29 August at the congress of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNWi) in Astana, Kazakhstan and represent Indian Doctors for Peace and Development and the Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia). Continue reading

Australian government allows BHP new uranium mine to avoid environmental impact statement

Originally posted on Antinuclear:

Abbott’s Olympic dodge on environmental protections  The Australian Greens say the Abbott Government is shirking responsibility by waiving a new environmental impact statement for the proposed expansion of Olympic Dam.

“The Federal Government needs to do its job and stop putting the private profits of the big mining companies ahead of the environment,” said South Australian Greens Senator Penny Wright.  “This is a short-sighted measure, which shows how little the Government cares about environmental protection.”

Senator Wright said BHP’s original environmental impact statement did not mention acid leaching but there were serious concerns around about this process in South Australia, with previous leaching in a copper mine near Copely resulting in leaks and contamination.

“We need to be sure that chemical pollution from BHP’s trial will be contained. If the Federal Government is cutting corners, what’s to stop BHP from skimping on environmental protections?

BHP-on-Aust-govt

Senator Wright urged the Weatherill…

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Australia’s pro nuclear lobby in the spotlight

Originally posted on Antinuclear:

Australia – uranium and nuclear power, Online opinion By Helen Caldicott -, 26 August 2014

“………… an Brook,-Barry-glowsardently pro-nuclear group in Adelaide has arisen led partly by Barry Brook a Professor of Climate change at Adelaide University, who is an adamant supporter of uranium mining and nuclear power in Australia and is promoting small modular reactors http://www.huffingtonpost.com/helen-caldicott/small-modular-reactors_b_5653378.html.

SMRs Australia

To make matters worse former Prime Minister Bob Hawke is advocating that Australia enrich uranium and become the repository for the world’s nuclear waste. “We would get an enormous stable flow of income which could be used for the benefit of the world and our own benefit” he says. Nuclear waste must be isolated from the environment for 1,000,000 years according to the US Environmental Protection Agency – a scientific impossibility.

These people clearly do not understand the carcinogenic and medical dangers arising at all stages of the nuclear fuel chain, nor…

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Students of Sustainability conference 2014

Originally posted on Peace Convergence:

What is SOS?​

Students of Sustsos14poster1ainability (SOS) is an annual, volunteer-organised five day conference and festival bringing together hundreds of students, activists, artists, writers and researchers interested in dealing holistically with questions of environmental and social justice. Through plenaries, workshops, skillshares, performances, presentations, artworks and actions, SOS explores everything from deep theoretical issues to questions of everyday political praxis.

SOS aims to articulate the challenges posed by the present ecological crisis not merely to our energy supplies or regulatory regimes, but to the foundations of our economic and social system; to the stories we tell, how we think, what we create and who we are. It is a unique event with a defining role in the Australian environment movement and in all movements working towards a society that is sustainable because it is just, and just, because it is sustainable.​


​What does your ticket include?​

The days will be…

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2014 Budget signals more weapons spending, less defence workers

Originally posted on Peace Convergence:

ImageThe 2014 budget has drawn criticism for cuts to health, education and welfare, with more than 2200 defence civilians and contractors to be sacked, while the Liberal government’s budget pushes for billions in military ‘hardware’ spending. 

Total defence outlays for the coming year will be $29.2 billion (up $500 million) and the government will spend $122.7 billion on military hardware to 2017-18.

In the face of cuts to welfare for young people under 30 and increases in the cost of uni fees, the government is instead encouraging young people to join the military with the ADF gap year program - with a price tag of $191.8 million over four years.

Defence budget expert with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) Mark Thompson told news.com that the budget is, “as good as it gets for defence”.  Not so for veterans who see cuts to pensions, superannunation and medical assistance in this budget.

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Environmental and racial injustice. The saga of Northern Territory radioactive trash dump plan continues

Originally posted on Antinuclear:

handsoffEnvironmental Injustice in Australia – Nuclear Waste, The Stringer,  by Kate O’Callaghan,  May 8th, 2014 Muckaty Station is a small township in the remote Northern Territory, 110km north of Tennant Creek and roughly 800km south of Darwin.  Also known as Marlwanpa, the land is held under Native Title having formally been returned in 2001 to thetraditional owners – the Milwayi, Ngapa, Ngarrka, Wirntiku, Kurrakurraja, Walanypirri and Yapayapa peoples.  Muckaty is also the proposed site of Australia’s first national nuclear waste dump or, as it’s officially called, radioactive waste repository.

Australian governments have been trying to settle on a nuclear waste site since the mid eighties, but have met fierce community opposition at every turn.  Muckaty is the sixth proposed site since the search began.  In 2007, the location of the site was nominated by the Northern Land Council (NLC) on behalf of several members of the Ngapa clan. …

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Uranex company faces reality: getting out of uranium industry, changing its name

Originally posted on Antinuclear:

bad-smell-nukeUranex dumps uranium for graphite  Brisbane Times, May 13, 2014 - Greg Roberts  The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster killed the dreams of many an Australian uranium explorer.

One of those, Uranex, has survived by changing commodities.

It went back and kicked the dirt again on its tenements in Tanzania and discovered another resource there: graphite.

In 2012 a stubbornly weak uranium price and a 200 per cent rent hike by the Tanzanian government spurred it into action……..

Graphite is in demand because it is a necessary component in rechargeable lithium ion batteries.

An eventual predicted take-up of electric cars would spur even more demand – nearly 40kg of graphite is used in each of those batteries.

Graphite has been used in batteries for decades because it is an electrical conductor, but the technological explosion in smart phones and other portable devices has sent demand soaring.

Uranex would be in production by…

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Fraser calls for closure of Pine Gap US spy base

Originally posted on Peace Convergence:

pinegapMalcolm Fraser has called for the closure of the Joint Defence Facility Australia at Pine Gap, writes the ABCs Matt O’Neil. The former prime minister says that Australians could be charged with crimes against humanity in the future over US drone strikes which are reportedly co-ordinated from the facility.

Listen here: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/malcolm-fraser/5414694

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