“This Royal Commission will be hearing evidence in a vacuum: the draft terms forbid it from considering any aspects of the industry we are familiar with (mining), and insist it consider aspects of the hypothetical future next generation reactors, which are so wonderful that no-one is building them commercially.”, said Roman Orszanski, Climate & Energy campaigner for Adelaide Friends of the Earth.
FoE Australia’s very own Jim Green looked at the possibilities for the new generation of nuclear power reactors (since the current crop are unlikely to impress anyone), and found the kinds being spruiked by pro nuke advocates in SA have a few problems.
Integral Fast Reactors … it gets ugly moving from blueprint to backyard
Integral Fast Reactors (IFRs) are a case in point. According to the lobbyists they are ready to roll, will be cheap to build and operate, couldn’t be used to feed WMD proliferation, etc. The US and UK governments have been analysing the potential of IFRs.
The UK government found that:
- the facilities have not been industrially demonstrated;
- waste disposal issues remain unresolved and could be further complicated if it is deemed necessary to remove sodium from spent fuel to facilitate disposal; and
- little could be ascertained about cost since General Electric Hitachi refuses to release estimates of capital and operating costs, saying they are “commercially sensitive”.
The US government has also considered the use of IFRs (which it calls Advanced Disposition Reactors – ADR) to manage US plutonium stockpiles and concluded that:
- the ADR approach would be more than twice as expensive as all the other options under consideration;
- it would take 18 years to construct an ADR and associated facilities; and
- the ADR option is associated with “significant technical risk”.
Unsurprisingly, the IFR rhetoric doesn’t match the sober assessments of the UK and US governments. As nuclear engineer Dave Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned
Scientists puts it: “The IFR looks good on paper. So good, in fact, that we should leave it on paper. For it only gets ugly in moving from blueprint to backyard.”
Small Modular Reactors … no-one actually wants to buy one
In any case, IFRs are yesterday’s news.… Read more >>
Chinese imported frozen berries linked to a number of cases of hepatitis A in Victoria and NSW has led to a national call for stronger food safety regulation and country of origin labelling.
However under the new China Free Trade Agreement and pending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), this could be unfeasible. Friends of the Earth’s Fair Trade spokesperson, Sam Castro said “like other similar trade agreements the TPP could make it impossible to set higher standards on imported foods or labelling, because labelling regulation can be deemed a ‘barrier to trade’.”
“The Investor State Dispute Settlement process included in the China Free Trade Agreement enables foreign corporations with the ability to sue the government for legislation that may harm future profits. We know Philip Morris is currently suing the Australian government for our cigarette plain packaging legislation, the same could happen if the government decides to enact stronger food safety and labelling laws,” explained Ms Castro.
“These trade agreements are a Trojan Horse that threaten our food safety and environment. Trade officials, whose primary objective is to increase trade and boost corporate profits, will have first say over future food safety rules. A trade agreement is not the place to decide about our food safety.”
“The TPP trade agreement is currently being negotiated in secret with 12 other countries, including the US, Chile and Malaysia. We call on the federal government to release the text of the agreement so the public and health professionals can properly assess the impact it will have on health and safety standards. We have a right to know” said Ms Castro.
The European Union has recently committed to publicly releasing the text of a similar trade agreement called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).Read Friends of the Earth’s analysis of the TTIP’s impact on Food Safety.… Read more >>
OHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, 23 February, 2015 – US agencies, funders such as the Gates Foundation, and agribusiness giant Monsanto are trying to force unwilling African nations to accept expensive and insufficiently tested Genetically Modified (GM) foods and crops, according to a new report released today. 
“The US, the world’s top producer of GM crops, is seeking new markets for American GM crops in Africa. The US administration’s strategy consists of assisting African nations to produce biosafety laws that promote agribusiness interests instead of protecting Africans from the potential threats of GM crops,” said Haidee Swanby from the African Centre for Biosafety, which authored the report commissioned by Friends of the Earth International.
The new report also exposes how agribusiness giant Monsanto influences biosafety legislation in African countries, gains regulatory approval for its product, and clears the path for products such as GM maize (corn).… Read more >>
FRACKMAN – Mercury Cinema
Tuesday February 24, 8:30pm
“If you care about our country, see it!” – Alan Jones
“No Australian voter should miss this film” – Bob Brown
This is a film about the ordinary people caught up in a modern day multinational “gas rush” to secure and exploit coal seam gas. Accidental activist Dayne ‘Frackman’ Pratzky was building a simple home on his property, until the Gas company arrived, demanding to install wells on his property. So began his transformation from knockabout pig-shooter to passionate activist, and a David and Goliath battle against a $200 billion industry. Along the way he finds love, tragedy and triumph.
This special DocWeek preview session includes a post screening meet the filmmakers event with director Richard Todd and producer Trish Lake.
See you there!… Read more >>