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Nuclear battles in Australia

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green

The fight isn't over to stop the Cameco's Yeelirrie uranium project in WA

Conservation groups and Tjiwarl Traditional Owners in Western Australia have vowed to continue the fight against uranium mining at Yeelirrie in the Northern Goldfields, despite the news on February 8 that their Supreme Court action to halt the mine had been unsuccessful.

If and when market conditions improve, Canadian mining company Cameco plans to construct a 9 km open mine pit, requiring clearing of 2,421 hectares of native vegetation and generating 36 million tonnes of mine waste that would remain radioactive for thousands of years. The mine would also threaten the extinction of multiple species of unique underground fauna.

The Conservation Council of WA and members of the Tjiwarl Native Titles group sought judicial review of the WA Government's approval of the project, which went against the advice of the state Environmental Protection Agency to reject the proposal because of unacceptable risks of microfauna species extinction. The Minister for the Environment initially upheld the position of the EPA on appeal, yet turned around and took a position to the contrary in letting the mine proceed. The court case has put a hold on the Commonwealth approval for the project which has not been granted.

Vicky Abdullah, Tjiwarl Native Title holder, said: "This is a very disappointing and sad day for our people, our land, and our future. We have fought long and hard to protect Yeelirrie and stop the uranium project. But the fight is not over ‒ this is only one part of our campaign, and we will not allow this decision to stop us now. It's a bad decision, but it's not the end decision."

Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen said: "The verdict demonstrates a fundamental deficiency in the state's environmental laws, which currently allow a Minister to sign off on the extinction of multiple species with the stroke of a pen. The way the law has been interpreted by the court shows the Minister can ignore the EPA's public assessment process, and instead consider secret information in making a decision with has irreversible impacts on the environment.

"Today we stand knowing that community efforts have been successful in preventing any uranium mines operating in WA, despite two terms of a pro-uranium Government. We will continue to work with Traditional Owners to keep WA nuclear free and I am confident that despite today's decision we will continue to be successful in that goal."

Yeelirrie was approved by the former conservative Liberal Party state government. After the March 2017 state election, the incoming Labor Party government said that previously-approved mines, including Yeelirrie, could proceed but no others would be permitted.

Radioactive Exposure Tour I ‒ South Australia

The South Australian Radioactive Exposure Tour is a journey through Australia's nuclear landscape. The radtours have exposed thousands of people to the realities of 'radioactive racism' and the environmental and social impacts of uranium mining, radioactive waste and nuclear bomb testing.

Run by Friends of the Earth, this year's radtour will take place from Friday 30th March to Sunday 8th April.

This year we will visit communities in Kimba and the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, who are fighting to stop radioactive waste dumps on their land.

We'll head for Arabunna country, watch the sunset over Lake Eyre and see the Mound Springs − oases which are fed by the underlying Great Artesian Basin and host unique flora and fauna. Sadly, some of the Mound Springs have been adversely affected or destroyed altogether by the massive water intake of the Olympic Dam mine. The Tour will visit BHP's Olympic Dam uranium mine at Roxby Downs, the largest uranium deposit in the world.

In Woomera, we'll hear first-hand accounts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu Field. We'll also stop by Nurrungar, the desert surveillance base that closed in 1999.

Participants get to experience consensus decision making, desert camping and vegetarian cooking in affinity groups while travelling to some of the most beautiful and ecologically significant environments in Australia. If you're interested in learning about the industry or anti-nuclear campaigning, the radtour is an essential start or refresher.

International guests are welcome (many have participated over the years). One of the features of this year's radtour will be the participation of a number of Nobel Peace Prize-winning campaigners from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

The costs are (leaving from Melbourne or Adelaide): concession A$600 − waged A$800 − solidarity A$1000.

If you would like to register your interest in taking part in the 2018 Radioactive Exposure Tour, please complete the form posted at

Information on past radtours is posted at

Contact: / 0417 318 368

Radioactive Exposure Tour II ‒ Western Australia

The upcoming Western Australian Radioactive Exposure Tour will be a 12-day journey to visit four proposed uranium mines in WA – Mulga Rock, Yeelirrie, Wiluna and Kintyre.

Run by the Ban Uranium Mining Permanently (BUMP) collective, the WA radtour will take place from Friday 9th March to Wednesday 21st March, 2018.

We will visit communities in Kalgoorlie, Laverton, Leonora, Wiluna, Newman and Parnngurr who are all fighting against uranium mine proposals on their land.

We'll head for Wangkatha country, listen to the Sounds on the Saltlake by Tjuma Pulka Media Aboriginal Corporation, before heading towards Mulga Rock proposed uranium mine. At Yeelirrie, we'll hear from Tjiwarl Traditional Owners stories of their 40-year fight to stop the proposed uranium mine and their Supreme Court action.

We will stop at the gates of Toro Energy, proposed Lake Way uranium mine and hear from experienced campaigners. From Wiluna, we will join and hear from Martu Traditional Owners campaigning to stop uranium mining on their country. We will head through Karlamilyi to Kintyre.

Desert camping, camp fires and cooking in affinity groups are all a part of the tour, while travelling to some of the most beautiful and ecologically significant environments in Western Australia.

For information and to register your interest: www.walkingforcountry/radtour, 0401 909 332,

Standing Strong I ‒ South Australians defeat dump

Standing Strong is a new book (and e-book) celebrating the victory of South Australians in their 2015‒17 campaign to stop an international high-level nuclear waste dump being built in the state. The book is online at and

Published by the No Dump Alliance (NDA), Standing Strong covers the key issues championed by Aboriginal and civil society groups opposed to the plan including the lack of Traditional Owner consent, dubious economics, the risks to people and the environment and the impact on future generations.

"This book documents how our community said no to the threat of radioactive waste," said Yankunytjatjara woman and NDA spokesperson Karina Lester. "We know nuclear is not the answer for our lands and people, we have always said no. It is important that all politicians get the clear message that nuclear waste and nuclear risk is not wanted in SA."

South Australians are still battling a plan by the federal government to establish a national nuclear waste dump in the state (

Standing Strong II ‒ Northern Territorians defeat Jabiluka uranium mine

Mirarr Traditional Owners in the Northern Territory and their many supporters are this year celebrating and commemorating the 20th anniversary of the mass movement that eventually defeated Energy Resources of Australia's plan to mine the Jabiluka uranium deposit. Hundreds of thousands of Australians took to the streets, thousands made the long trek to the Jabiluka blockade (which lasted for eight months), and hundreds were arrested at the mine-site including Mirarr Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula.

The first of a number of initiatives to mark the 20th anniversary is a 'Standing Strong' calendar featuring powerful and beautiful images to commemorate the historic victory. It includes pictures from Mirarr country as well as from Jabiluka actions and support rallies across Australia and around the world.

The Standing Strong calendar is online at

To order hard copies:


Australian Nuclear Free Alliance

Last year, the Aboriginal-led Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) celebrated its 20th birthday. ANFA has fought countless nuclear battle over the past two decades, many of them successfully.

Photos of ANFA's 20th anniversary meeting are online ( and a book about ANFA's history can be ordered from

Australian Map is an online resource ‒ along with an A2 poster ‒ documenting Australia's nuclear history and current struggles. Click on a site to read about it and to view pictures and videos. The website covers uranium mines, waste dumps, atomic bomb test sites, US military and spy bases, etc.

My people are still suffering from Australia's secret nuclear testing

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Sue Coleman-Haseldine

This is an extract of Sue Coleman-Haseldine's speech in Oslo marking the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Sue is an indigenous Kokatha woman who lives in Ceduna, South Australia, and a member of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (

My name is Sue Coleman-Haseldine. I was born into poverty on the margins of Australian society on the Aboriginal mission of Koonibba in 1951. At this time my people were not allowed to vote and we had very few means to be understood, let alone be heard.

I was born into one of the oldest living cultures known on Earth and into a place that I love – a dusty, arid paradise on the edge of a rugged coastline. Our land and waters are central to our outlook and religion and provide the basis for my people's health and happiness.

And I was born just before the desert lands to our north were bombed by the deadliest weapons on Earth in an extensive, secretive and devastating manner by the Australian and British governments.

In the 1950s, areas known as Emu Fields and Maralinga were used to test nine full-scale atomic bombs and for 600 other nuclear tests, leaving the land highly radioactive. We weren't on ground zero, but the dust didn't stay in one place. The winds brought the poison to us and many others.

Aboriginal people, indeed many people at that time, knew nothing about the effects of radiation. We didn't know the invisible killer was falling amongst us. Six decades on, my small town of Ceduna is being called the Cancer Capital of Australia. There are so many deaths in our region of various cancers. My grand-daughter and I have had our thyroids removed, and there are many others in our area with thyroid problems. Fertility issues appear common.

But there has been no long-term assessment of the health impacts in the region and even those involved in the botched clean-ups of the test sites have no recourse because they cannot prove their illness is linked with exposure to nuclear weapons testing.

The impact of the Maralinga and Emu Fields testing has had far-reaching consequences that are still being felt today. Ask a young person from my area, "What do you think you will die from?" The answer is, "Cancer, everyone else is".

I have lived my life learning about the bomb tests and also learning that the voice of my people and others won't always be understood or heard. But I learnt from old people now gone that speaking up is important and by joining with others from many different places and backgrounds that our voices can be amplified.

Through these steps I found the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), or perhaps ICAN found me. ICAN – as an organisation, as a collective of passionate, educated people working for a clear goal – has been so important to me. To know that my story and my voice helps bring recognition to the past and can shape the future of nuclear prohibition has strengthened my resolve.

Being involved in ICAN has been a double-edged sword. On one hand and for the first time in my life, I no longer feel alone or isolated. I have met others from many parts of the globe who have similar stories and experiences and who are passionate advocates for a nuclear-free future.

But the flip side of this is my understanding of just how widespread and just how devastating the nuclear weapons legacy is across the globe. To learn that so many weapons still exist sends fear to my heart. ICAN is a worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – in a short time we have gathered support for a treaty to finally outlaw nuclear weapons and help eliminate the nuclear threat.

The vision was reached in part with so many nations adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July 2017. And we should celebrate this win and the opportunity to work together to stop the suffering and assist countries to make amends to nuclear weapons victims by acknowledging the permanent damage done to land, health and culture.

Unfortunately, the Australian government, along with other first world nations, didn't even participate in the treaty negotiations, and they haven't signed the treaty yet, but over time we feel confident they will.

A lot has changed since I was born. Aboriginal people now have the right to vote in Australia, but still we battle for understanding about our culture and the Australian nuclear weapons legacy. My home is still remote and most of my people still poor. But we are also no longer alone. We have the means and the will to participate – to share and to learn and to bring about lasting change.

ICAN's work is not done, our work is not done. We will continue to work together. A world without nuclear weapons is a world we need and are creating. I stand here in hope and gratitude for the opportunity to participate. I stand here with pride and I stand here for our future and the generations to come.

ICAN's Nobel Peace Prize born in Australia

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Dr Margaret Beavis ‒ president of the Medical Association for Prevention of War and a board member of ICAN Australia.

Australians can be very proud. The winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), started in Melbourne. It began when the Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW) recognised that nuclear weapons, the very worst of the weapons of mass destruction, were still "legitimate". This contrasted with chemical weapons, biological weapons, cluster munitions, land mines – even dumdum bullets, which all have been made illegal by UN treaty, with impressive results.

The late Dr Bill Williams, a key member of the founding group, wrote: "After the energetically anti-nuke eighties and the end of the Cold War, nuclear holocaust – always unthinkable – became almost unmentionable. A mass self-censorship, a mental no-fly zone, a cone of silence descended. Little wonder: no sane person wants to contaminate their dreams with this ultimate horror. But to finish this journey of survival – to abolition – we need to penetrate the fog of fear and denial, informing ourselves and our neighbours without inducing psychological paralysis."

In 2006 he was part of the founding group of MAPW members, along with Tilman Ruff, Dimity Hawkins, Sue Wareham and others. The highly successful landmines campaign was taken as a model. For MAPW this was a bit like giving birth to a gorilla; ICAN very successfully brought together existing humanitarian organisations, clearly identifying nuclear weapons as a humanitarian issue, not a political one.

ICAN now has 468 partner organisations in 101 countries. It was pivotal to the UN adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on July 7 this year. In 2007, IPPNW (the 1985 Nobel Prize-winning group the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War) adopted ICAN as a core campaign. Locally the Poola Foundation helped ICAN get established, and later a major contribution came from the Norwegian government.

ICAN and its many partners worked tirelessly, educating governments about the urgent need for action. In 2013 and 2014, Norway, Mexico and Vienna hosted intergovernmental conferences, attended by more than 150 countries.

Throughout the campaign graphic stories from the "Hibakusha", the survivors of the bombs in World War 2 and survivors of nuclear weapons testing, brought home the appalling personal costs of these weapons. The Red Cross emphasised the only possible option is prevention, given all doctors, ambulances and hospitals are destroyed in a nuclear blast. Any meaningful response is impossible.

The longer term impacts of a limited nuclear exchange are also devastating. So much atmospheric dust would be created that a "nuclear winter" would follow, reducing crop yields for more than a decade and causing a famine putting two billion lives at risk.

It is horrifying that North Korea now has nuclear weapons. But also horrifying are the existing 15,000 weapons, with 1800 ready to launch. There have been numerous very close calls, where human and technical errors have brought us perilously close to nuclear war.

After nearly 50 years the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has stalled, with the entrenched need for consensus blocking effective action. South Africa likened the situation to apartheid; with the nine nuclear weapons states having a different set of rules for themselves compared to the rest of the world – effectively holding the rest of the world to ransom.

ICAN offered a new way forward, aiming for a UN General Assembly based process. Thus the nuclear possessing states could no longer block the wishes of the majority of nations. This treaty deliberately harmonises with the NPT, both working towards a common goal.

Shamefully, Australia's government has worked to undermine this process. The Australian delegation at the UN working group last year was described in the press as "Weasels", much to their chagrin. A key strategy of the ICAN campaign has been "humour, horror and hope", so typically ICAN provided photogenic sign-carrying "weasels", helpfully greeting Australian politicians as they continued their anti-ban treaty arguments.

On July 7 the TPNW was resoundingly adopted: 122 countries in favour, one against (the Netherlands), and one abstention (Singapore). Finally nuclear weapons will be clearly on the same footing as biological and chemical weapons.

This will not be a fast process. It will take a couple of decades to steadily and verifiably reduce stockpiles. But the TPNW has been recognised by the Nobel Prize Committee as critical in making the world a much safer place.

Australia's government is refusing to sign the treaty, but both the Australian Labor Party and the Greens support a nuclear weapons ban. Australians strongly support it too. Both Labor and Liberal voters are more than 70 per cent in favour in a poll taken last month. Given the appalling and indiscriminate impacts of these weapons, denial is not acceptable. Australia needs to show leadership and sign this treaty.

How South Australians dumped a nuclear dump

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green ‒ Nuclear Monitor editor

Last November, two-thirds of the 350 members of a South Australian-government initiated Citizens' Jury rejected "under any circumstances" the plan to import vast amounts of high-level nuclear waste from around the world as a money-making venture.1

The following week, South Australian (SA) Liberal Party Opposition leader Steven Marshall said that "[Labor Party Premier] Jay Weatherill's dream of turning South Australia into a nuclear waste dump is now dead."2 Business SA chief Nigel McBride said: "Between the Liberals and the citizens' jury, the thing is dead."2

And after months of uncertainty, Premier Weatherill has said in recent weeks that the plan is "dead", there is "no foreseeable opportunity for this", and it is "not something that will be progressed by the Labor Party in Government".3

So is the dump dead? The Premier left himself some wriggle room4, but the plan is as dead as it possibly can be. If there was some life in the plan, it would be loudly proclaimed by SA's Murdoch tabloid, The Advertiser. But The Advertiser responded to the Premier's recent comments ‒ to the death of the dump ‒ with a deafening, deathly silence.

Royal Commission

It has been quite a ride to get to this point. The debate began in February 2015, when the Premier announced that a Royal Commission would be established to investigate commercial options across the nuclear fuel cycle. He appointed a gullible nuclear advocate, former Navy man Kevin Scarce, as Royal Commissioner. Scarce said he would run a "balanced" Royal Commission and appointed four nuclear advocates to his advisory panel, balanced by one critic.5 Scarce appointed a small army of nuclear advocates to his staff, balanced by zero critics.

The final report6 of the Royal Commission, released in May 2016, was surprisingly downbeat given the multiple levels of pro-nuclear bias.7 It rejected ‒ on economic grounds ‒ almost all of the proposals it considered: uranium conversion and enrichment, nuclear fuel fabrication, conventional and Generation IV nuclear power reactors8, and spent fuel reprocessing.

The only thing left standing (apart from the small and shrinking uranium mining industry9) was the plan to import nuclear waste as a commercial venture. Based on commissioned research, the Royal Commission proposed importing 138,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste (spent nuclear fuel from power reactors) and 390,000 cubic metres of intermediate-level waste.

The SA Labor government then established a 'Know Nuclear' statewide promotional campaign under the guide of 'consultation'. The government also initiated the Citizens' Jury.

The first sign that things weren't going to plan for the government was on 15 October 2016, when 3,000 people participated in a protest against the nuclear dump at Parliament House in South Australia's capital, Adelaide.10

A few weeks later, on November 6, the Citizens' Jury rejected the nuclear dump plan.1 Journalist Daniel Wills wrote: "Brutally, jurors cited a lack of trust even in what they had been asked to do and their concerns that consent was being manufactured. Others skewered the Government's basic competency to get things done, doubting that it could pursue the industry safely and deliver the dump on-budget."11

In the immediate aftermath of the Citizens' Jury, the SA Liberal Party and the influential Nick Xenophon Team announced that they would actively campaign against the dump in the lead-up to the March 2018 state election. The SA Greens were opposed from the start.

Premier Weatherill previously said that he established the Citizens' Jury because he could sense that there is a "massive issue of trust in government".12 It was expected that when he called a press conference on November 14, the Premier would accept the Jury's verdict and dump the dump. But he announced that he wanted to hold a referendum on the issue, as well as giving affected Aboriginal communities a right of veto. Nuclear dumpsters went on an aggressive campaign to demonise the Citizens' Jury though they surely knew that the bias in the Jury process was all in the pro-nuclear direction.13,14

For the state government to initiate a referendum, enabling legislation would be required and non-government parties said they would block such legislation. The government didn't push the matter ‒ perhaps because of the near-certainty that a referendum would be defeated. The statewide consultation process led by the government randomly surveyed over 6,000 South Australians and found 53% opposition to the proposal compared to 31% support.15 Likewise, a November 2016 poll commissioned by the Sunday Mail found 35% support for the nuclear dump plan among 1,298 respondents.16

Then the Labor government announced on 15 November 2016 that it would not seek to repeal or amend the SA Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000, legislation which imposes major constraints on the ability of the government to move forward with the nuclear waste import proposal.17

Economic claims exposed

Implausible claims about the potential economic benefits of importing nuclear waste had been discredited by this stage.18 The claims presented in the Royal Commission's report were scrutinised by experts from the US-based Nuclear Economics Consulting Group (NECG), commissioned by a Joint Select Committee19 of the SA Parliament.

The NECG report said the waste import project could be profitable under certain assumptions ‒ but the report then raised serious questions about most of those assumptions.20 The report noted that the Royal Commission's economic analysis failed to consider important issues which "have significant serious potential to adversely impact the project and its commercial outcomes"; that assumptions about price were "overly optimistic" in which case "project profitability is seriously at risk"; that the 25% cost contingency for delays and blowouts was likely to be a significant underestimate; and that the assumption the project would capture 50% of the available market had "little support or justification".

The farcical and dishonest engineering of a positive economic case to proceed with the nuclear waste plan was ridiculed by ABC journalist Stephen Long on 8 November 2016: "Would you believe me if I told you the report that the commission has solely relied on was co-authored by the president and vice president of an advocacy group for the development of international nuclear waste facilities?"21

The economics report was an inside job, with no second opinion and no peer review ‒ no wonder the Citizens' Jury was unconvinced and unimpressed.

Prof. Barbara Pocock, an economist at the University of South Australia, said: "All the economists who have replied to the analysis in that report have been critical of the fact that it is a 'one quote' situation. We haven't got a critical analysis, we haven't got a peer review of the analysis".22

Another South Australian economist, Prof. Richard Blandy23 from Adelaide University, said: "The forecast profitability of the proposed nuclear dump rests on highly optimistic assumptions. Such a dump could easily lose money instead of being a bonanza."24

The dump is finally dumped

To make its economic case, the Royal Commission assumed that tens of thousands of tonnes of high-level nuclear waste would be imported before work had even begun building a deep underground repository. The state government hosed down concerns about potential economic losses by raising the prospect of customer countries paying for the construction of waste storage and disposal infrastructure in SA.

But late last year, nuclear and energy utilities in Taiwan ‒ seen as one of the most promising potential customer countries ‒ made it clear that they would not pay one cent towards the establishment of storage and disposal infrastructure in SA and they would not consider sending nuclear waste overseas unless and until a repository was built and operational.25

By the end of 2016, the nuclear dump plan was very nearly dead, and the Premier's recent statement that it is "not something that will be progressed by the Labor Party in Government" was the final nail in the coffin. The dump has been dumped.

"Today's news has come as a relief and is very much welcomed," said Yankunytjatjara Native Title Aboriginal Corporation Chair and No Dump Alliance spokesperson Karina Lester. "We are glad that Jay has opened his ears and listened to the community of South Australia who have worked hard to be heard on this matter. We know nuclear is not the answer for our lands and people – we have always said NO."

Narungga man and human rights activist Tauto Sansbury said: "We absolutely welcome Jay Weatherill's courageous decision for looking after South Australia. It's a great outcome for all involved."


The idea of Citizens' Juries would seem, superficially, attractive. But bias is inevitable if the government establishing and funding the Jury process is strongly promoting (or opposing) the issue under question. In the case of the Jury investigating the nuclear waste plan, it backfired quite spectacularly on the government ‒ jurors knew they were being pushed to vote 'yes' and they responded by voting 'no ... not under any circumstances'.26 Citizen Juries will be few and far between for the foreseeable future in Australia. A key lesson for political and corporate elites is that they shouldn't let any semblance of democracy intrude on their plans.

The role of the Murdoch press needs comment, particularly in regions where the only mass-circulation newspaper is a Murdoch tabloid. No-one would dispute that the NT News has a dumbing-down effect on political and intellectual life in the Northern Territory. Few would doubt that the Courier Mail does the same in Queensland. South Australians need to grapple with the sad truth that the state's Murdoch tabloids ‒ The Advertiser and the Sunday Mail ‒ are a blight on the state. Their grossly imbalanced and wildly inaccurate coverage of the nuclear dump debate was ‒ with some honourable exceptions27 ‒ disgraceful. And that disgraceful history goes back decades; for example, a significant plume of radiation dusted Adelaide after one of the British bombs tests at Maralinga in the 1950s but The Advertiser chose not to report it.

The main lesson from the dump debate is a positive one: people power can upset the dopey, dangerous ideas driven by political and corporate elites and the Murdoch press. Sometimes. It was particularly heartening that the voices of Aboriginal Traditional Owners were loud and clear28 and were given great respect by the Citizens' Jury and by many other South Australians. The Jury's report said: "There is a lack of Aboriginal consent. We believe that the government should accept that the Elders have said NO and stop ignoring their opinions."1

Conversely, the most sickening aspect of the debate was the willingness of the Murdoch press29 and pro-nuclear lobbyists30 to ignore or trash Aboriginal people opposed to the dump.

Another dump debate

Traditional Owners, environmentalists, church groups, trade unionists and everyone else who contributed to dumping the dump can rest up and celebrate for a moment. But only for a moment. Another dump proposal is very much alive: the federal government's plan to establish a national nuclear waste dump in SA, either in the Flinders Ranges or on farming land near Kimba, west of Port Augusta.32

In May 2016, Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Regina McKenzie, who lives near the Flinders Ranges site, wrote:33

"Last year I was awarded the SA Premier's Natural Resource Management Award in the category of 'Aboriginal Leadership − Female' for working to protect land that is now being threatened with a nuclear waste dump. But Premier Jay Weatherill has been silent since the announcement of six short-listed dump sites last year, three of them in SA.

"Now the Flinders Ranges has been chosen as the preferred site and Mr Weatherill must speak up. The Premier can either support us ‒ just as the SA government supported the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta34 when their land was targeted for a national nuclear waste dump from 1998-2004 ‒ or he can support the federal government's attack on us by maintaining his silence."

Perhaps Premier Jay Weatherill will find his voice on the federal government's contentious proposal for a national nuclear waste dump in SA, now that his position on that debate is no longer complicated by the parallel debate about establishing a dump for foreign high-level nuclear waste. He might argue, for example, that affected Traditional Owners should have a right of veto over the establishment of a national nuclear waste dump ‒ precisely the position he adopted in relation to the international high-level dump.


1. South Australia's Citizens' Jury on Nuclear Waste, November 2016, 'Final Report',

2. Tom Richardson, 11 Nov 2016, 'DUMPED: Nuclear repository "dead" as Marshall draws election battleline',

3. Tom Richardson, 7 June 2017, '"There's no foreseeable opportunity for this": Jay declares nuke dump "dead"',

4. Friends of the Earth Australia, 7 June 2017, 'Premier Weatherill unclear on nuclear dump', media release,

5. Conservation Council of SA, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Friends of the Earth, Dec 2015, 'A Critique of the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission',

6. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report. May 2016,

7. 4 Nov 2016, 'Bias of SA Nuclear Royal Commission finally exposed',

8. 2 Nov 2016, 'The slow death of fast reactors',

9. Nuclear Monitor #837, 31 Jan 2017, '2016 in Review: "It has never been a worse time for uranium miners"',


Lauren Waldhuter / ABC, 15 Oct 2016, 'Nuclear waste dump protesters bring the fight from outback South Australia to the city',

11. Daniel Wills, 6 Nov 2016, 'Nuclear waste verdict from citizens' jury leaves Government's grand plan in tatters',

12. Daniel Wills, 7 Nov 2016, 'Citizens' jury overwhelmingly rejects nuclear waste storage facility for South Australia',

13. Benito Cao, 3 Nov 2016, 'Manufacturing consent for SA's nuclear program',

14. Tony Webb, 18 Nov 2016, 'One small voice from inside the recent SA Nuclear Citizen's Jury',

15. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Consultation and Response Agency, Nov 2016, 'Community Views Report', p.19,


17. SA Government, 15 Nov 2016, 'Government delivers response to Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report',

18. Richard Blandy, 7 June 2016, 'How a high-level nuclear waste dump could lose money',

19. SA Parliament ‒ Joint Committee on Findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission,

20. Nuclear Economics Consulting Group, 11 Nov 2016, 'Review of Jacobs MCM Report Commercial Model',

21. Stephen Long, 8 Nov 2016, 'SA nuclear waste dump plans based on questionable assumptions and lacks public support',

22. Stephen Long, 3 Nov 2016, 'Critics argue Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission skewed by advocacy group's evidence',

23. Prof. Richard Blandy, Submission to SA Nuclear Fuel cycle Royal Commission,

24. Stephen Long, 3 Nov 2016, 'Critics argue Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission skewed by advocacy group's evidence',

25. Daniel Wills, 14 Dec 2016, 'Taiwanese energy firm rejects Martin Hamilton-Smith's claim it would help set up SA nuclear waste dump',

26. Daniel Wills, 11 Nov 2016, 'The people have skewered a political class they feels governs for itself instead of them',


28. 'Statements from Aboriginal Traditional Owners regarding the plan to import high-level nuclear waste to South Australia', Oct 2016,

29. Tory Shepherd, 15 Nov 2016, 'Tory Shepherd: Deriding experts as 'elites' is a pinheaded attempt at equality, pretending that everyone's views hold the same worth',

30. 1 July 2016, 'Radioactive waste and the nuclear war on Australia's Aboriginal people',



33. Regina McKenzie, 6 May 2016, 'Premier silent while Flinders Ranges threatened',

34. Irati Wanti,

Paladin Energy's social and environmental record in Africa

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green - Nuclear Monitor editor

This is a longer version of an article published in Nulclear Monitor #847.

Paladin Energy's operations in Africa have been marked by regular accidents and controversies. The WISE-Uranium website has a 'Hall of Infamy' page dedicated to the company.

WISE-Uranium, 'Paladin Energy Ltd Hall of Infamy',

15 September 2005: Members of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) protested at the groundbreaking ceremony of Paladin's Langer Heinrich uranium mine in Namibia. The Namibian Branch of Earthlife Africa criticized the environmental and health hazards of the project. According to a report prepared by German Öko-Institut for the Namibian branch of Earthlife Africa, Paladin's Environmental Assessment underestimated the radiation doses fourfold. Moreover, the proposed tailings management concept would have serious flaws.

Allgemeine Zeitung Sep. 16, 2005;

April 2006: Paladin CEO John Borshoff told ABC television: "Australia and Canada have become overly sophisticated. They measure progress in other aspects than economic development, and rightly so, but I think there has been a sort of overcompensation in terms of thinking about environmental issues, social issues, way beyond what is necessary to achieve good practice.";query=Id%...

November 2006: NGOs groundWork and the Centre for Civil Society gave out the 'Southern African Corpse Awards' ‒ an annual mock ceremony for big business ‒ in Durban. Paladin was awarded the 'Pick the Public Pocketprize' thanks to a nomination from Malawian NGOs.

Patrick Bond, 24 Dec 2006, ZNet.

2007: Criticisms of operations at Kayelekera outlined by the Catholic Church and other Malawian community and environmental organisations included the following issues of concern: inadequacy of the Environmental Impact Assessment; flaws in community consultation; government deferring its role in safeguarding community interests to the company; destruction of cultural and historic sites; increased social disorder; unfair compensation for those forcibly relocated; and undue interference with makeup of community based organisations.

Background on Recent Developments at the Kayelekera Uranium Mine, 2007,

4 January 2007: Two Malawian NGO members allege that they were ordered to go to the Karonga Police Station by the Chief of Police and threatened with arrest for taking an Australian photojournalist sponsored by the two Australian unions (MUA and CFMEU) to photograph and interview community members at the Kayelekera mine. According to Reinford Mwangonde from Citizens For Justice, a police van carrying around 10 police officers went to Foundation for Community Support Services (FOCUS) and ordered that he and Kossam Jomo Munthali attend the Karonga Police Station. Mwangonde alleges that at the police station Sale, the Chief of Police told them that Paladin had called them 'from a long way away' and complained that the NGO members had taken an Australian photojournalist to the mine site. According to Mwangonde "it's unfortunate that Paladin is harassing us by using the Malawian police to promote its own agenda and protect its own interests at the expense of Malawians". Mwangonde said they were told that in the future any meeting that the NGOs hold in regard to uranium should be reported to the police.

MUA News, 15 Jan 2007, 'Australian Company Uses Malawian Police Against Critics',

March 2007: Paladin's Kayelekera project would not be approved in Australia due to the major flaws in the assessment and design proposals, independent reviewers concluded. Their report covered baseline environmental studies, tailings management, water management, rehabilitation, failure to commit to respecting domestic laws, use of intimidation and threatening tactics against local civil society, improper community consultation and payments to local leaders, and destruction of cultural heritage.

Mineral Policy Institute, March 2007, 'Paladin Resources Kayelekera Uranium Project in Malawi, Africa would not be approved in Australia, concludes independent reviewers',

May 2007: Paladin and the Government of Malawi were named as defendants in two legal actions commenced by a group of NGOs in Malawi including the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation. The two actions sought to delay the Kayelekera project until the government and Paladin, amongst other things: rectified alleged deficiencies in the process associated with the grant of approval under the Malawi Environment Management Act; and put in place additional protective measures affecting both the local community and the country.

Paladin, 28 May 2007, 'Paladin Resources Ltd.: Kayelekera Project, Malawi',

On 15 November 2007, Paladin announced "that all six Malawian Civil Society Organisations that commenced legal proceedings against Paladin Africa Ltd and the Government of Malawi have now settled their action on a positive and amicable basis". However, Malawian NGOs questioned the legitimacy of the settlement of the court case. NGOs coalition members unhappy with the settlement agreement indicated they will "continue with legal action to protect the Malawian people's constitutional rights, unless and until the company is willing to enter negotiations to change its proposal in a way that addresses the flaws, gaps and problems in the project that pose serious public health and environmental risks".

3 July 2007: Civil society groups in Malawi ‒ Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Citizen for Justice, Foundation for Community Services, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, and the Livingstonia Synod Uraha Foundation ‒ issued a statement regarding Paladin's Kayelekera mine. It states in part: "In this regard we note that the issues covered by the Developmental Plan (Agreement) and the agreements on Fiscal are secret and have not been disclosed by the signatories to Malawians. This is totally incompatible with the transparency and accountability which should prevail in the democratic era when the government in office proclaims its commitment to zero tolerance on corruption and causes one to see shadows of corruption in the handing of the secret agreements and the activities of Paladin. We therefore wish to state and for Paladin to know quite categorically that in addition to pursuing the matter in Court, the Civic Society Organisations now intend to address our concerns to the financial institutions who are funding Paladin's project at Kayelekera and also to the institutional shareholders holding equity in Paladin Resources Australia."

Joint Press Statement, 3 July 2007, 'Civil Society Organisations Concerns on the Statement by Mr. John Borshoff',

July 2007: The claim by Paladin and the government of Malawi that the IAEA had approved the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Kayelekera mine "was a fallacy and misleading" according to a media statement issued by a group of NGOs.

Nyasa Times, 25 July 2007.

27 March 2008: The open pit at Paladin's Langer Heinrich mine was flooded with run-off water from a rainstorm and was out of use for about one month.

Allgemeine Zeitung, 31 March 2008;

April 2008: A spill of a large quantity of sulphuric acid at the Langer Heinrich mine raised questions about safety procedures at the mine. The Namibian newspaper was informed that a mine employee lost grip on the hose transferring the acid from a truck to a storage facility. The employee apparently fled to call for help, after which a forklift dumped a large quantity of caustic soda on the spill to neutralise the acid. The result was explosive ‒ a series of loud bangs could be heard from a distance, but nobody was injured.

Namibian, 25 April 2008;

16 March 2009: A fire / explosion killed two workers and badly injured another at the Kayelekera mine. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported: "In 2009, Caldwell Sichinga, then in his early thirties, was cleaning the bottom of a seven-meter steel tank at Kayelekera, a remote open-pit uranium mine in Northern Malawi. It had rained during the night and Sichinga was reapplying a coat of MEK, a combustible chemical that smells slightly of mint. Sichinga was with two colleagues inside when the tank suddenly blew. In order to ignite, an expert told ICIJ, the concentration of MEK must have been at least 70 times the level considered safe within the U.S. "It was like a bomb," remembers Sichinga. Through the fireball, Sichinga climbed his way up the rungs inside the tank, searing the soles of his feet with every step, before falling to the ground outside. The explosion fused the fingers of Sichinga's right hand into one immobile mitt and appears to have melted the pattern of his socks into his ankle. Four meters from the tank, others had been "busy grinding and welding," according to the preliminary incident report issued by the principal contractors and obtained by ICIJ. As the MEK evaporated, its heavy fumes coursed through the tank's drainpipe to the welding outside. The fumes ignited when they reached the heat source, according to the report, sending flames back through the drainpipe towards the three contractors. ... Over the next two days, the "fire accident" prompted 200 contract workers to strike over pay and working conditions, reported the same official in another document seen by ICIJ."

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists noted in its 2015 report that three more workers, including a contractor, died in other incidents at Kayelekera in the years after the fireball.

Will Fitzgibbon, Martha M. Hamilton and Cécile Schilis-Gallego / International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 10 July 2015, 'Australian Mining Companies Digging A Deadly Footprint in Africa',

18 March 2009: Malawian police fired tear-gas at workers at the Kayelekera mine construction site. The workers, mostly casual laborers, were on a sit-in since the previous day to pressure management for better working conditions. The strike forced Paladin management to temporarily shut down the mine and evacuate its senior managers to Lilongwe.

Nyasa Times, 18 March 2009; The Nation, 19 March 2009.

April 2009. Malawi's Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace accused Paladin of back-tracking on pledges to the people of the Karonga region where it operates the Kayelekera mine. The commission, a human rights arm of the Catholic Church, called for a meeting with the miners and traditional chiefs after accusing the energy company of not doing enough to protect water sources from uranium deposits. The group fears the deposits could pollute Lake Malawi, one of Africa's fresh water areas and the third largest lake on the continent. The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation called for a review of all mining agreements including the tax arrangements.

Nyasa Times, 22 April 2009.

August 2009: Neville Huxham from Paladin Energy Africa said: "We're taking the uranium out of the ground, we're exporting it to be used for productive purposes, so we should be getting a medal for cleaning up the environment."

IPS, 24 August 2009.

September 2009: Australia's Fairfax press reported on the Kayelekera mine: "The company's approach has caused friction with local non-government groups, which took legal action to impose tougher controls on the project in 2007. The case was settled out of court. Since then it has been accused of lax safety standards (three workers have died in accidents this year) and failing to bring promised benefits to local communities ..." Australian-based scientific consultant Howard Smith said regulations were ''essentially a self-regulation system, which will ultimately result in releases [of contaminated water] that are under-reported, uncontrolled and hidden from the affected public.''

Tom Hyland, 20 Sept 2009, 'Miner accused on slack safety',

October 2009: Fourth death in 2009 at Kayelekera: The company said that an employee had died at the mine as a result of a mini-bus rollover on October 7. Paladin said 19 people including the driver were injured, with 15 admitted to hospital. Paladin advised on August 25 that a construction contractor had died at the mine, also as a result of a motor vehicle incident. The company reported on April 5 that two sub-contractors had died in a flash fire at the mine construction site on March 16.

Sydney Morning Herald, 8 Oct 2009;;

September 2010: Paladin orders miners to work at Kayelekera in spite of a shortage of dust masks. A Nyasa Times undercover journalist who visited the mine on 23 September 2010 found that most miners did not wear masks, and their hands and face were caked with uranium ore. The workers protested to management about the development. The geology superintendent of the mine, Johan De Bruin, confirmed the lack of dust masks. In a September 23 email sent to mine workers, he ordered staff to continue working despite the shortage of dust masks. "Mining is a 24 hour operation and cannot be stopped as a result of a shortage of available dust masks," said De Bruin in his September 23 email.

Nyasa Times, 25 Sep 2010;

November 2010: Paladin Energy refuses disclosure of carbon footprint. Paladin rejected listing the Climate Advocacy Fund's proposed resolution that the miner disclose its carbon footprint at its AGM. The fund owns a small stake in Paladin and had the support of the required 100 shareholders under the Corporations Act to put forward a resolution. "We say Paladin has acted against the provisions of the Act and we could take legal action over it," fund executive director James Their said. Thier said carbon footprint database Trucost estimated Paladin was the third-most carbon intensive ASX 200 company, with emissions estimated at more than 2,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide per A$1 million of revenue.

Herald Sun, 3 Nov 2010;

June 2011: Dedza North West MP Alekeni Menyani advised the Malawi Government to find an alternative source of energy for the Kayelekera mine. The MP said the use of diesel fuel to power the mine site was exerting pressure on the country's already low supplies of fuel. Menyani said the government should seriously consider building a dedicated coal-fired plant to power the mine.

In February 2011, production at Kayelekera was suspended for one week due to a diesel fuel shortage which Paladin attributed to "foreign exchange constraints".

The Nation, 22 June 2011

June 2011: A truck driver died in an accident at the Kayelekera mine ‒ the Tanzanian national died after the truck he was driving struck a water tank.

Nyasa Times, 19 June 2011;

15 August 2011: Progress on Expansion Phase Three of the Langer Heinrich mine came to a standstill after employees of the main contractor, Grinaker LTA, downed tools due to grievances related to impending layoffs. According to a workers committee representative, more than 600 employees stopped work at noon on August 15 and continued to strike the following day.

The Namibian, 17 Aug 2011;

2012: CRIIRAD, a French NGO specialising in independent radiation monitoring, conducted radiation monitoring activities around the Kayelekera mine. Its report stated: "CRIIRAD discovered hot spots in the environment of the mine and a high uranium concentration in the water flowing from a stream located below the open pit and entering the Sere river. Results that relate to the radiological monitoring of the environment performed by the company are kept secret. The company should publish on its web site all environmental reports. No property right can be invoked to prevent public access to Paladin environmental reports (especially as Malawi State holds 15 % of the shares of the uranium mine). It is shocking to discover that million tonnes of radioactive and chemically polluting wastes (especially tailings) are disposed of on a plateau with very negative geological and hydrogeological characteristics."

Bruno Chareyron, 2015, 'Impact of the Kayelekera uranium mine, Malawi'. EJOLT Report No. 21,

11 May 2012: Workers at Kayelekera went on strike over labor conditions: The local workers told Nyasa Times that they were demanding a pay increase from Paladin. Workers downed tools on May 11, halting production at the site. On May 16, Paladin announced than an agreement in principle was achieved for a return to work by the striking employees.

Nyasa Times, 11 May 2012;;

December 2012: Paladin threatened 75-year old Australian pensioner Noel Wauchope with legal action for posting on her website an article critical about Paladin's operations in Malawi. The threat backfired when it was publicised in the widely-read Fairfax press in Australia. Fairfax business columnist Michael West wrote: "The price of Noel Wauchope's concern for the people Karonga was a long and intimidating letter of demand from Ashurst on behalf of the uranium company Paladin ... "

2013: A detailed report by the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development states:

"Consistent with what many analysts and commentators have said, this research study unequivocally established that the benefits that Malawi, as a country, is gaining from the deal made with Kayelekera are tangential and dismal. Among the reasons why benefits are skewed more favourably towards the mining company are that the negotiations were done hastily under an atmosphere that was not transparent. Furthermore, the government officials involved were not experienced and were no match for the skilled negotiators for Paladin.

"Above and beyond this, the major problem that contributed to the disproportionate sharing of benefits are the country's archaic laws that fail to hold the Multinational Corporation (MNCs) more accountable to pay taxes and remit profits to Malawi. The laws that govern FDI in the extractive industry are weak and in disharmony. Taxation laws fail to adequately address issues of capital flight, tax avoidance or evasion, which the study findings have revealed are being perpetrated by MNCs. To this extent the MNCs in the extractive industry have evolved to use more rigorous and complicated accounting systems that evade the detection radar of the local tax and revenue authorities.

"The investment incentives offered to Paladin have revenue implications to the Malawi government. These include; (1) 15% carried equity in project company to be transferred to the Republic of Malawi, (2) Corporate tax rate reduced from 30% to an effective 27.5%, (3) 10% resource rent reduced to zero, (4) Reduced Royalty rate from 5% to 1.5% (years 1 to 3) and 3% (thereafter), (5) removal of 17 % import VAT or import duty during the stability period, (6) immediate 100% capital write off for tax purposes, The capitalisation (debt: equity) ratio of 4:1 for the project, and (7) stability period of 10 years where there will be no increase to tax and royalty regime and commitment to provide the benefit of any tax and royalty decrease during the period. This clause in the agreement statement implies amortization of profits. This means that there shall be a reduction or cancellation of taxes to be paid during future years of subsequent profits as a means to compensate the debt accrued by the company during years of registering losses.

"As a result of this concessionary agreement, the government of Malawi lost billions of Malawi Kwacha from royalties, resource rent and value added tax against a meager MK5.35 billion which it has received in taxes and royalties within the three years that Kayelekera has been operating commercially."

African Forum and Network on Debt and Development, 2013, 'The Revenue Costs and Benefits of Foreign Direct Investment in the Extractive Industry in Malawi: The Case of Kayelekera Uranium Mine',

27 June 2013: About 300 workers, including mine staff and contractor employees, picketed at the Langer Heinrich mine, protesting the way they were being treated and paid. The protesting workers and media were barred from the mine site where the demonstration was supposed to take place.

The Namibian, 2 July 2013;

July 2013: UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, rubbished the Kayelekera uranium mine deal between Malawi and Paladin, saying Malawi had a raw deal that is robbing the poor. He said that over the lifespan of the mine, Malawi is expected to lose almost US$281 million. "Mining companies are exempt from customs duty, excise duty, value added taxes on mining machinery, plant and equipment. They can also sign special deals on the rate of royalty owed to the government," he said.

22 July 2013, 'End of mission statement by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food',

30 July 2013: An employee died in an accident in the Kayelekera mine's engineering workshop, after being struck in the chest by a light vehicle wheel he was inflating.

Paladin Energy Ltd July 31, 2013; Esmarie Swanepoel, 31 July 2013, 'Fatality at Paladin mine',

September 2013: Colin Arthur, a Geology Superintendent at the Kayelekera mine, gives a detailed 'Geological Summary' of the high wall pit failure, identified on 21 September 2013.

September 2013: Malawi government unable to verify allegations of radiation-induced diseases among Kayelekera uranium mine workers. Members of Malawi's Parliamentary Committee on Health on September 24 took senior government officials to task over reports of radiation-related health concerns at Kayelekera. The committee summoned officials from the Ministry of Mining and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Management for an explanation on the reports. The officials insisted that there has been no proof of the claims, that the government does not have equipment or the experts to investigate the kind of allegations reported in the local media, and that they are relying on the assessments of Paladin. "Due to uncertainties on radiation exposure and time of exposure was absorbed and the background of the persons' medical records, it is hard to establish whether the man for example who lost sight, did so due to radiation. We don't have the specialized equipment," said an official.

BNL Times Sep. 26, 2013;

October 2013: The Opposition People's Transformation Party (PETRA) appealed to government authorities to renegotiate what it called the "stinking development agreement" between Malawi and Paladin regarding the Kayelekera mine.

Nyasa Times, 5 March 2013.

3 October 2013: Three miners were injured at Langer Heinrich following a "serious electrical incident". Paladin said two of the workers received significant burns while a third worker suffered smoke inhalation. One of the workers was flown to South Africa for treatment. On October 30, Paladin announced that the injured worker flown to South Africa had died in hospital.

Esmarie Swanepoel, 3 Oct 2013, 'Electrical accident injures three at Langer Heinrich',

February 2014: Paladin reported that a truck carrying a container of uranium from Kayelekera overturned. The container fell loose and was punctured by a tree stump, and a "small quantity" of uranium oxide concentrate spilled out. Paladin said the uranium and the soil it came in touch with were removed and taken back to the tailings dam at the mine.

17 Feb 2014, 'Product Shipment Incident near Kayelekera Mine, Malawi',

2 October 2014: About 50 employees staged a protest at Langer Heinrich Uranium (LHU) mine's head office in Swakopmund before handing over a petition listing their complaints. Workers employed by companies sub-contracted to LHU claim they had been mistreated at work. The workers from Sure Cast, Gecko Drilling, LBS, Quick Investment, RVH and NEC Stahl claimed they were made to work without benefits, such as medical aid, transport allowances and pension.

Namib Times, 7 Oct 2014;

November 2014: Paladin came under fire from a coalition of 33 Malawian civil society groups and chiefs over its proposal to discharge mining sludge into the Sere and North Rukuru rivers. The toxic substances that would flow from the tailings pond at the Kayelekera mine into Lake Malawi 50 kms downstream include waste uranium rock, acids, arsenic and other chemicals used in processing the uranium ore, the coalition said. The lake provides water for drinking and domestic use to millions of Malawians. Part of the lake is protected as a national park.

Environmental News Service, 25 Nov 2014, 'Uranium Mine Sludge Discharge Permit Threatens Lake Malawi',

29 November 2014: Paramount Chief Kyungu in Malawi's northern district of Karonga vowed to lead the people in lobbying for developmental projects from mining investors, claiming that since the coming of the mining companies in the district people had not benefited. Kyungu said mining investors in Malawi steal the country's natural resources as well as spoiling the environment yet they leave the people poor.

Nyasa Times, 1 Dec 2014;

2015: A report by the office of Namibia's Prime Minister said there is a lack of safety at the Langer Heinrich mine and that workers are not aware of policies, rules and procedures as outlined in the radiation management plan.

The Namibian, 10 July 2015;;

January 2015: At the Kayelekera mine, heavy rain caused a liner in the plant run-off tank to rupture, releasing some 500 cubic metres (500,000 litres) of material to the bunded areas of the site. Up to 50 litres may have overtopped one of the containment bunds.

Esmarie Swanepoel, 10 Feb 2015, 'Kayelekera no threat to environment – Paladin',

Esmarie Swanepoel, 7 Jan 2015, 'Paladin reports spill at Malawi mine after minor storm',

Sarah-Jane Tasker, 8 Jan 2015, 'Paladin Energy alerts ASX to spill at Malawi uranium mine',

February 2015: About 60 permanent employees of the Langer Heinrich mine participated in a demonstration to hand over a petition to mine management. Employees sought the removal of the manager for human resources on allegations of victimising employees as well as disregarding employees' safety. They also accused him of implementing a new salary structure without union agreement. The workers, through the Mineworkers' Union of Namibia (MUN), also demanded the removal of the mine's managing director, saying he had total disregard for the union. Workers also said the mine never implemented recommendations made after a 2013 accident that claimed the life of a miner. The workers' petition said: "Our members are exposed to safety hazards. The company does not properly investigate incidents at the mine." The workers also alleged that the removal of contract workers from the mine resulted in a lack of rest and increase in fatigue.

New Era, 20 Feb 2015;

April 2015: Despite opposition from a group of 33 civil society organizations, Paladin began discharging treated waste water from the Kayelekera mine into the Sere River. The discharge of contaminated water was expected to take place for three months. Paladin decided to discharge the waste because the dam at the Kayelekera mine was full, raising the possibility of unplanned and uncontrolled discharges after heavy rains.

Sarah-Jane Tasker, 8 Jan 2015, 'Paladin Energy alerts ASX to spill at Malawi uranium mine',

June 2015: A report by ActionAid stated that Malawi ‒ the world's poorest country ‒ lost out on US$43 million revenue from the Kayelekera mine over the previous six years due to "harmful exemptions from royalty payments from the Malawi government, and tax planning using treaty shopping by Paladin."

ActionAid, 17 June 2015, 'An Extractive Affair: How one Australian mining company's tax dealings are costing the world's poorest country millions',

Australia's Fairfax press reported: "Between 2009 and 2014, Paladin Energy moved $US183 million out of Malawi to a holding company in the Netherlands and then on to Australia. A 15-page report by London-based ActionAid has found the Dutch transfers and a special royalties deal – in which Malawi's mining minister agreed to drop the initial tax rate applied to the uranium mine from 5 per cent to 1.5 per cent – have cost the Malawi public $US43 million. In Africa's poorest nation, where per capita GDP is just $US226 a year and life expectancy 55, that money could provide the equivalent of 39,000 new teachers or 17,000 nurses, according to the aid group."

Heath Aston, 11 July 2015, 'Australian miner accused of dodging tax in world's poorest country',

December 2015: Matildah Mkandawire from Citizens for Justice wrote: "In August this year, Citizens for Justice and Action Aid Malawi, with support from the Tilitonse Fund, organized an interface meeting with the local communities, government representatives at district level and Paladin representatives. The aim of this meeting was to discuss the concerns of the community regarding the failure of Paladin to stick to the agreements in the MOU. Paladin cancelled with us at the 11th hour claiming they needed a formal letter of invitation and not the one they got from the community. The meeting had to go ahead without them although this left the community furious as the issues they wanted to raise were key to their health and sanitation, environmental health and social well-being. The lack of clean water, and the delay in providing educational and health facilities as agreed, spoke volumes of the company's lack of responsibility for the community it operates in."

Matildah M. Mkandawire, 17 Dec 2015, 'Uranium mining in Malawi: the case of Kayelekera', Nuclear Monitor #816,

2016: A human rights body in Malawi sued Paladin Africa Ltd for alleged damage the Kayelekera mine has caused to some miners and the surrounding communities in Karonga district. The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation accused Paladin of not prioritising the welfare of its employees and the community.

Norbert Mzembe, 22 June 2016, 'Malawi: Paladin Africa Sued for 'Gross Damage'',

Capital Radio Malawi, 22 June 2016,

16 June 2016: Security guards at the mothballed Kayelekera mine downed tools over poor working conditions.

Nyasa Times, 17 June 2016;

September 2016: Human Rights Watch released a detailed report on mines in the Karonga region of Malawi, including the Kayelekera uranium mine: "Using Karonga district in northern Malawi as a case study, the report documents how Malawi currently lacks adequate legal standards and safeguards to ensure the necessary balance between developing the mining industry and protecting the rights of local communities. It examines how weak government oversight and lack of information leave local communities unprotected and uninformed about the risks and opportunities associated with mining."

Human Rights Watch, 27 Sept 2016, '"They Destroyed Everything": Mining and Human Rights in Malawi', or

October 2016: The Malawi Immigration department at Songwe border in Karonga barred 26 Tanzanian students of Moravian University of Theology based in Tukuyu from visiting the Kayelekera mine. The students' planned to investigate the social and economic impacts of the mine. Secretary General of the Moravian Church, Rev Leman Jere, who led the group, said: "We already agreed with the Kayelekera officials before the day but we were flabbergasted to see that the Malawi Immigration department blocked the students saying it was because of security issues."

Maravi Post, 12 Oct 2016.

20 December 2016: Eight Tanzanians were arrested while travelling to participate in a fact-finding mission of the Kayelekera mine. They are from the area where the Mkuju River uranium mine is planned in Tanzania. They were accused of trespassing, spying and working as foreign agents. They were denied bail and held in sub-standard conditions; their legal access was impeded and their legal team harassed with death threats and the mysterious disappearance of their laptops; their legal defence team was prevented from fully cross-questioning witnesses; and the trial was postponed on six occasions, each time disrupting the defence team that travelled from Lilongwe and Dar-es-Salaam. In April 2017, after almost five months in detention, the eight people were convicted of Criminal Trespassing and carrying out a reconnaissance operation without a permit, and given suspended four-month sentences.

David Fig, 2 April 2017, 'Why Malawi's case against the Tanzanian eight is a travesty of justice',

Menschenrechte 3000 e.V., 28 Feb 2017, 'Report on 8 Tanzanian Environmental and Human Rights Defenders arbitrarily detained in Malawi since 22. Dec. 2017',

Front Line Defenders,

Malawi Times, 12 April 2017.

Bright Phiri & Nicely Msowoya, 'REPORT on the continuation of court case against 8 Tanzanians detained in Malawi, on 13. and 14. February 2017',

January 2017: Paladin and the Malawi government rejected requests to disclose the results of water monitoring performed in the surroundings of the Kayelekera mine.

BBC, 25 Jan 2017, 'Fears of river poisoning in Malawi',

Australia's dangerous uranium deal with India

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Dave Sweeney ‒ nuclear free campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Late on the last night of the last sitting of Federal Parliament for 2017, Australia's two major parties passed a new law that is civil by name, but it is desperately uncivil in nature.

The Indian Civil Nuclear Transfers Act1 exists to provide certainty to Australian uranium producers who want to sell to India. In 2015, a detailed investigation by the Federal Parliament's treaties committee found there were serious and unresolved nuclear safety, security and governance issues with the proposed sales plan.2

The treaties committee also found a high level of legal uncertainty. Australian National University professor of international law, Don Rothwell, said the plan was in conflict with international treaty provisions, most notably the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty.3 Former Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office Director-General, John Carlson, said the plan was in conflict with Australian domestic safeguards legislation requiring the tracking of Australian uranium (and its by-products) overseas.

Given the severity of the inconsistencies and the significance of the issues involved, the government-controlled treaties committee took the unusual step of voting against the clear direction of the prime minister and foreign affairs minister and recommended that the Indian sales deal not be advanced unless several outstanding issues were addressed.5

This decision was welcomed by many. But not by Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop. A terse response to a measured and bipartisan report said the government was "satisfied" that steps had been taken to address each condition, and did not agree that exports to India should be deferred.6

The commercial interests of an underperforming industrial sector were given priority above parliamentary process and evidence-based, prudent public policy. But this favoritism was not enough to paper the deep cracks in this dangerous plan and now the government has rushed through the new laws to close the door on legal challenge and scrutiny.

The new law protects uranium mining companies in Australia from domestic legal action that challenges the consistency of the safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency in India and Australia's international non-proliferation obligations. It also protects any future bilateral trade in other nuclear-related material or items for civil use.

A recent truncated review of the new law said the bill "provides the certainty required to give effect to the Australia-India Agreement".7 So Australian uranium miners, who supplied the product that directly fuelled Fukushima8, are now legally covered from any challenge over a highly contested plan to sell to India.

This move highlights the extent and the risks of the Australian government's preoccupation with ending civil society access to legal recourse. Further, fast-tracking legal favors to provide certainty to the uranium industry simply highlights how profoundly uncertain this industry is. Following Fukushima, the global uranium market has crashed, as has the value of uranium stocks. Prices, profits and employment numbers have gone south. IBIS World's March 2015 market report said only 987 people are employed in Australia's uranium industry.9 Few jobs and dollars, considerable damage at home and escalating risk abroad.

The fragile economics of the uranium sector make it understandable that the industry is pushing for every potential market but fail to explain why our federal government is so intent on trying to pick winners with a sector that is clearly losing. Sadly, and unreasonably, the India uranium deal has become seen as a litmus test for bilateral relations.

Talk of a massive surge in exports is fanciful, and promoting Australian uranium as the answer to Indian energy poverty is more convenient than credible. Political proponents of the trade are driven less by substance than style ‒ the symbolism of Australia and India on the same page and open for business.

In a telling reference, a recent review of the new law highlighted the importance of the "foreign policy backdrop to Australia's nuclear trade with India".10 Sending political signals through trade is not unusual but to do so by ignoring substantive warning signals is unwise. When those warnings and that trade relate to nuclear materials, it is deeply irresponsible.

Buttressing flawed trade deals with bolt-on legislative exemptions is poor policy and practice and while all trades have trade-offs, this one risks far too much.












Australian nuclear waste import plan dead, revived, dead again ... hopefully.

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green ‒ Nuclear Monitor editor

We reported in the last issue of Nuclear Monitor that plans to use South Australia (SA) as a dumping ground for around one-third of the world's spent nuclear fuel was all but dead and buried.1 Since then, the project has been revived by the SA government then buried again (hopefully) by opposition parties.

The first indication of major opposition to the dump plan was on October 15, when 3,000 people participated in a protest at Parliament House in Adelaide, the capital of SA. Then, on November 6, two-thirds of the 350 members of a South Australian government-initiated Citizens' Jury rejected "under any circumstances" the government's plan to import 138,000 tonnes of spent fuel and 390,000 cubic metres of intermediate-level nuclear waste as a money-making venture.

SA Premier Jay Weatherill previously said that he established the Citizens' Jury because he could sense that there is a "massive issue of trust in government". It was expected that when Weatherill called a press conference on November 14, he would announce that no further work would be carried out on the dump plan. But Weatherill instead announced that he wanted to hold a state-wide referendum on the issue, as well as giving affected Aboriginal communities a right of veto over nuclear developments on their land.

However, to hold a referendum enabling legislation would be required and cannot be passed without the support of political parties opposed both to a referendum and also to the nuclear waste import project. Those parties are the main opposition Liberal Party (favored to win the next state election in early 2018), the Nick Xenophon Team and the SA Greens. The conservative Liberal Party and the Nick Xenophon Team had not opposed the nuclear waste import proposal before the Citizens' Jury, and their opposition fundamentally alters the political dynamics of the debate.

Then the Labor Party government announced that it would not seek to repeal or amend the SA Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000, which imposes major constraints on the ability of the government to move forward with the nuclear waste import proposal.2 (Nor will the state government encourage the federal government to repeal laws banning nuclear power, "recognising that in the short-to-medium term, nuclear power is not a cost-effective source of low-carbon electricity for South Australia").

So we're back where we started ‒ the waste import proposal seems to be dead in the water. Nevertheless the state government and SA's Murdoch tabloid, The Advertiser, along with some other supporters are fighting a furious rear-guard battle to try to revive the corpse. They are relentlessly attacking and undermining the credibility of the Citizens' Jury. Those voices of those defending the integrity of the Jury3 ‒ or pointing to its pro-nuclear biases4 ‒ are being drowned out by the chorus of criticism in The Advertiser.

Supporters of the proposal are being extraordinarily dishonest. A public opinion poll5 commissioned by the Sunday Mail (the sister paper of The Advertiser), found that 35% of South Australians support the waste import proposal. Instead of reporting that result honestly ‒ by noting that non-supporters outnumber supporters by almost two to one ‒ the Sunday Mail conflated responses to two different questions and claimed: "Majority support for creating a nuclear industry in South Australia is revealed in an extensive Sunday Mail survey of public opinion, in a rebuff to moves to shut down further study of a high-level waste dump."6

Another example of blatant dishonesty concerned a Community Views Report reflecting a state-wide consultation process.7 The Premier cherry-picked and misrepresented that report, claiming that it found a 43:37 margin in favor of further consideration of the waste import proposal. In fact, the consultation process found that 4365 people were opposed to further consideration of the proposal while only 3032 supported further consideration.8

The Premier completely ignored the other findings of the Community Views Report:

  • 53% of respondents opposed the plan to import high-level nuclear waste while just 31% supported the plan;
  • over three-quarters of Aboriginal respondents opposed the plan;
  • only 20% of respondents were confident that nuclear waste could be transported and stored safely, while 70% were not confident;
  • the number of people confident in the government's ability to regulate any new nuclear industry activities in SA (2125 people) was barely half the number who were not confident (4190 people);
  • only 20% of respondents were confident that the government would consider community views while 70% were not confident; and
  • 66% per cent of respondents were not confident that a nuclear waste import project would bring significant economic benefits to SA.

The state government and the Murdoch press have also been lying about an economic report9 commissioned by a Parliamentary committee. The report, written by Nuclear Economics Consulting Group (NECG), was asked to evaluate an earlier study commissioned by a state government-initiated Royal Commission. According to the Sunday Mail, the NECG report "backed Royal Commission findings that a nuclear dump could create A$257 billion [US$190 bn; €180 bn] in revenue for South Australia."10

But the kindest thing the NECG report had to say was that the waste import project could be profitable under certain assumptions, and the NECG report then raises serious questions about most of those assumptions. The NECG report notes that the Royal Commission's economic analysis didn't even consider some important issues which "have significant serious potential to adversely impact the project and its commercial outcomes"; that assumptions about price are "overly optimistic" and if that is the case "project profitability is seriously at risk"; that the 25% cost contingency for delays and blowouts is likely to be a significant underestimate; and that the assumption the project would capture 50% of the available market had "little support or justification".

SA Liberal Party economic spokesperson Rob Lucas said: "This [NECG] report is a severe embarrassment for Mr Weatherill as it makes it clear the Weatherill Government leaks to the media on the weekend were selective, deceptive and an attempt to grossly mislead the public."11

How will this debate unfold? In all probability, nuclear waste proponents will, sooner or later, tire of banging their heads against a brick wall ‒ particularly if, as expected, the Liberal Party wins the state election in early 2018. It seems that there is little or no internal dissent to the Liberal Party's opposition to the dump ‒ most or all Liberal parliamentarians think the project is too much of an economic gamble and/or they see the political advantage in taking a no-dump position to the next state election. That said, the Liberal Party is pro-nuclear and it cannot be assumed that the party will retain its current no-dump policy.

Unnamed 'sources' told the Murdoch press that they plan to approach potential customer countries in an attempt to shore up the economic case (some reports suggest interest from Taiwan).10 The state government cannot engage in negotiations with potential customers because of the constraints imposed by the SA Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000, but private parties can do as they please.

However, potential customer countries will be reluctant to engage in serious discussions given that there is strong public and political opposition in South Australia. As an Advertiser journalist noted in May 2016: "The business model only works if there is long-term stability for countries like Japan and Korea, who would become likely sellers. The chance of political upheaval or legal changes in SA over a dump would spook any responsible country, and lead them to make other arrangements."12

In the event that the Liberal Party backflips on its current no-dump policy, the SA Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 is amended or repealed, and a credible business case is developed including agreements with potential customer countries, then there is still the issue of the promised right of veto for affected Aboriginal Traditional Owners. Yet the Premier has acknowledged the "overwhelming opposition of Aboriginal people" and he should therefore abandon any further attempts to pressure Aboriginal people into accepting a high-level nuclear waste dump.

Aboriginal people in South Australia are seeking international organizational endorsements for their statement of opposition:


1. 8 Nov 2016, 'South Australian Citizens' Jury rejects nuclear waste dump plan', Nuclear Monitor #833,

2. 15 Nov 2016, 'Government delivers response to Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report',

3. Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, 18 Nov 2016, 'The greatest underused asset in politics is people; ignore them at your peril',

4. Tony Webb, 18 Nov 2016, 'One small voice from inside the recent SA Nuclear Citizen's Jury',


6. Paul Starick, 19 Nov 2016, 'Exclusive Sunday Mail Your Say, SA survey reveals majority support for a nuclear industry',

7. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Consultation and Response Agency, November 2016, 'Community Views Report',

8. Jim Green, 15 Nov 2016, 'Jay Weatherill willing to commit political suicide with push to turn South Australia into world's nuclear waste dump',

9. Nuclear Economics Consulting Group, 11 Nov 2016, 'Review of Jacobs MCM Report Commercial Model',

10. Miles Kemp, 13 Nov 2016, 'Study firms up $257bn nuclear dump findings', Sunday Mail,

11. Rob Lucas, 16 Nov 2016, 'New expert report on dump causes major problems for Weatherill',

12. Daniel Wills, 13 May 2016, 'Voters' nuclear reaction can avoid meltdowns in future',

13. Jay Weatherill, ABC SA 891 Radio, 15 November 2016.

South Australian Citizens' Jury rejects nuclear waste dump plan

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green ‒ Nuclear Monitor editor

On November 6, two-thirds of the 350 members of a South Australian government-initiated Citizens' Jury rejected "under any circumstances" the government's plan to import 138,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste and 390,000 cubic metres of intermediate-level nuclear waste as a money-making venture.1

The Jury was a key plank of the government's attempt to manufacture support for the dump plan, and followed the SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission which released its final report in May 2016.2

The Royal Commission had a strong pro-nuclear bias3 in its composition but still rejected ‒ on economic grounds ‒ almost all of the proposals it considered: uranium conversion and enrichment, nuclear fuel fabrication, conventional and 'Generation IV' nuclear power reactors, and spent fuel reprocessing.

Australia's handful of self-styled 'ecomodernists' or 'pro-nuclear environmentalists' united behind a push to import spent fuel and to use some of it to fuel 'integral fast reactors'. They would have expected to persuade the stridently pro-nuclear Royal Commission to endorse their ideas. But the Royal Commission completely rejected the proposal, noting in its report that advanced fast reactors are unlikely to be feasible or viable in the foreseeable future; that the development of such a first-of-a-kind project would have high commercial and technical risk; that there is no licensed, commercially proven design and development to that point would require substantial capital investment; and that electricity generated from such reactors has not been demonstrated to be cost competitive with current light water reactor designs.2

The ecomodernists weren't deterred. They hoped that the nuclear waste import plan would proceed and that it would lay the foundations for the later development of fast reactors in South Australia (SA). Now it seems that the waste import plan will be abandoned and the ecomodernists are inconsolable.

The SA government will come under strong pressure to abandon the waste import plan in the wake of the Citizens' Jury's vote. Roman Orszanski, climate and energy campaigner with Friends of the Earth Adelaide, said: "Three thousand people protested against the proposed nuclear waste dump outside Parliament House on October 15 and there will be more protests and bigger protests if the SA government attempts to push ahead."

SA Unions secretary Joe Szakacs said Premier Jay Weatherill must now "stand up for SA, and not be hoodwinked into becoming the fall-guy for the multinational nuclear industry. Everyday South Australians have concluded that the argument in favour of storing the world's nuclear waste is flawed, and a bad deal for our state. The magnitude of opposition from the jury shows just how politically damaging this could be for the Premier. People know a dud deal when then see it, and that's exactly what this is."4

Premier Weatherill said: "There's no doubt that there's a massive issue of trust in government, I could sense that, that's why we started the whole citizen's jury process because there is no way forward unless we overcome those issues."4 The "massive issue of trust in government" will of course become all the more massive if Weatherill rejects the clear verdict of the Citizens' Jury.

Friends of the Earth Australia said: "Despite the pro-nuclear bias of the Royal Commission and SA government's so-called consultation process5, the Citizens' Jury has had the good sense to send a clear 'no' message to Jay Weatherill. South Australians do not want the state turned into the world's nuclear waste dump. The Premier has repeatedly said that he will respect the Jury's decision and now he must rule out any further work on his ill-considered nuclear frolic. More than $10 million has already been wasted promoting the dump plan and any further expenditure of taxpayers' money should be ruled out."

South Australia's only mass circulation newspaper, The Advertiser, a Murdoch tabloid, has been heavily promoting the nuclear dump plan but there was no attempt to spin the Citizens' Jury's rejection of the plan. Advertiser journalist Daniel Wills wrote:6

"This "bold" idea looks to have just gone up in a giant mushroom cloud. When Premier Jay Weatherill formed the citizens' jury to review the findings of a Royal Commission that recommended that SA set up a lucrative nuclear storage industry, he professed confidence that a well-informed cross-section of the state would make a wise judgment.

"Late Sunday, it handed down a stunning and overwhelming rejection of the proposal. Brutally, jurors cited a lack of trust even in what they had been asked to do and their concerns that consent was being manufactured. Others skewered the Government's basic competency to get things done, doubting that it could pursue the industry safely and deliver the dump on-budget.

"It seems almost impossible now to see a way through for those in Cabinet and the broader Labor Party who have quietly crossed their fingers and backed the idea of taking the world's nuclear waste.

"With the party planning a special convention which must endorse changes to policy so the industry can be more deeply considered, internal critics now have an extremely potent weapon.

"Those outside the state party ‒ including the SA Liberals, independent Senator Nick Xenophon and even senior federal Labor figures — now have clear public permission to start peeling away.

"Perhaps worse than that, if Mr Weatherill now elects to continue down the nuclear path, it would be by actively ignoring the public will uncovered by a process he personally put in place to test."

Aboriginal Traditional Owners

Friends of the Earth Australia said: "The Premier said he will respect the views of Aboriginal Traditional Owners and it is clear that an overwhelming majority of Traditional Owners are opposed to the high-level nuclear waste dump plan.7 The Citizens' Jury should be congratulated for showing respect to Traditional Owners and the Premier must now do the same by abandoning the plan."

"Jay's jury has said no", said Tauto Sansbury, chairperson of the Aboriginal Congress of South Australia. "The Premier should now listen to the people and respect this clear decision."8

Karina Lester, chairperson of Yankunytjatjara Native Title Aboriginal Corporation, said: "This is a strong decision from randomly selected and very diverse group of South Australians who have had the benefit of studying the Royal Commission Report and hearing information from experts in various aspects of the proposal. It was positive to hear the jurors acknowledging the need for Traditional Owner's voices to be heard. I thank the clear majority of Jurors for this decision."8

The Citizens' Jury report said:1

"There is a lack of Aboriginal consent. We believe that the government should accept that the Elders have said NO and stop ignoring their opinions. The Aboriginal people of South Australia (and Australia) continue to be neglected and ignored by all levels of government instead of respected and treated as equals."

"The South Australian Government has a legacy of:
a. consulting indigenous people in flawed processes that does not allow Aboriginal people to exercise free, informed, and meaningful consent.
b. not receiving free, informed and meaningful consent from indigenous people in the past in all matters, including nuclear.
c. engaging in practices that lead to the disruption of trust in indigenous people; for example, Maralinga.
d. engaging in practices that disrupt indigenous people's connection to country, for example the stolen generation and construction of sites like Olympic Dam. A nuclear waste facility is inherently an imposition on connection to country.

"The consultation process that indigenous people have been involved with has been
problematic. The consultation process has not been transparent, culturally inappropriate, held in inappropriate places with poor access, encountered language and literacy barriers, internet barriers, was directed by non-indigenous people, and did not recognise past wrongs and emotions.

"Many Aboriginal communities have made it clear they strongly oppose the issue and it is morally wrong to ignore their wishes. ... Jay Weatherill said that without the consent of traditional owners of the land "it wouldn't happen". It is unethical to backtrack on this statement without losing authenticity in the engagement process."

Bias exposed

The Citizens' Jury produced a raft of evidence to justify its distrust of government. The government's handling of the current nuclear waste debate is a case in point. The SA government repeatedly said it wanted a balanced, mature debate on the issue. But the government chose a nuclear advocate to head the Royal Commission, and the Royal Commissioner stacked his Expert Advisory Committee with three nuclear advocates and just one critic.

The Royal Commission relied on just one economic report, written by Jacobs MCM, a consultancy with deep links to the nuclear industry. The lead authors of the report were Charles McCombie and Neil Chapman from ARIUS, the Association for Regional and International Underground Storage.

ARIUS is a lobby group promoting nuclear waste dumps (which it calls "multinational facilities") and nuclear power. As the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) noted, ARIUS's motto is: "The world needs nuclear power ‒ nuclear power needs multinational facilities".9

ARIUS is the successor to the infamous Pangea Resources, an international consortium that secretly developed plans to build an international high-level nuclear waste dump in Australia.10 Pangea's existence wasn't known until a corporate video was leaked to Friends of the Earth in 1998.11 Pangea set up an office in Australia but gave up in 2002 ‒ A$600 million poorer ‒ in the face of overwhelming public and political opposition.

Charles McCombie, co-author of the Jacobs MCM report, was heavily involved in Pangea Resources. Likewise, former Pangea chief Jim Voss is heavily involved in the current push for SA to accept foreign nuclear waste, as an 'Honorary Reader' at UCL Australia and a member of UCL Australia's Nuclear Working Group. In the late 1990s, Voss denied meeting with federal government ministers when he had in fact met at least one minister ‒ Wilson 'Ironbar' Tuckey ('ironbar' because he once assaulted an Aboriginal man with a steel cable12). A Pangea spokesperson said at the time: "We would not like to be lying ... we very much regret getting off on the wrong foot."

Needless to say, the conflicted economic report produced by Jacobs MCM predicted that South Australia would become filthy rich if the state agrees to import vast amounts of nuclear waste.

The farcical and dishonest engineering of a positive economic case to proceed with the nuclear waste plan was neatly exposed by ABC journalist Stephen Long on November 8:13

"Would you believe me if I told you the report that the commission has solely relied on was co-authored by the president and vice president of an advocacy group for the development of international nuclear waste facilities? Charles McCombie and Neil Chapman of the consultants MCM head the advocacy group ARIUS ‒ the Association for Regional and International Underground Storage.

"They prepared the report in conjunction with Jacobs, a global engineering and consulting firm which has a lucrative nuclear arm and boasts of its "more than 50 years of experience across the complete nuclear asset cycle".

"When I interviewed the royal commissioner last week, he initially denied that the consultants who prepared the modelling ‒ that is the sole basis of the commission's recommendation in favour of a nuclear waste dump ‒ faced any conflict of interest.

"He then said there would have been a conflict of interest had it been the only material the commission had relied upon, but said it was "reviewed by our team of experts and found to be an appropriate estimation of what the costs, risks and benefits might be if we were involved in the storage of waste".

"That is the same "team of experts" who, apparently, recommended the consultants in the first place."

The Citizens' Jury was deeply unimpressed by the economic propaganda produced by Jacobs MCM and promoted by the Royal Commission and the SA government. The Jury's report said:1

"It is impossible to provide an informed response to the issue of economics because the findings in the RCR [Royal Commission report] are based on unsubstantiated assumptions. This has caused the forecast estimates to provide inaccurate, optimistic, unrealistic economic projections. We remain unconvinced that estimates relating to the cost of infrastructure."

"The advice of two contributing authors to the Jacobs MCM economic and safety assessment, who are lobbyists for the organisation "Arius", has called into question the objectivity of elements of the RC report. Given the authoritative nature and optimistic outcome of the economic analysis in particular, concern has been expressed that RC decisions and recommendations may not be free from bias and manipulation. The issue with the inherent bias could have been abrogated by seeking additional independent economic and safety analysis. The jury is not calling into question the impartiality of the Commission but is concerned that advocates for international nuclear waste storage may have influenced RC outcomes and damaged the integrity of the RC process and may not permit an informed decision.

"The economic modelling has a number of flaws, including not accounting for negative externalities or opportunity costs, compared to other potential investments and relies on a very optimistic interest rate."

South Australian economist Prof. Richard Blandy said: "I congratulate the Second Citizens' Jury on their overwhelming decision against the proposed nuclear dump. They have shown courage and common sense. A large majority could see that the bonanza that the dump was supposed to bring to the State was based on very flimsy evidence. They saw that the real path to a better economic future for our State is based on our skills, innovative capabilities and capacity for hard work, not a bizarre gamble based on guesses. I am proud of my fellow South Australians on the Jury – including those who were in the minority. I would like to thank them all for their efforts on behalf of their fellow South Australians."8


1. South Australia's Citizens' Jury on Nuclear Waste: Final Report, November 2016,

2. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report, May 2016,

3. Jim Green, 4 Nov 2016, 'Bias of SA Nuclear Royal Commission finally exposed',

4. Daniel Wills, 6 Nov 2016, 'Citizens' jury overwhelmingly rejects nuclear waste storage facility for South Australia',

5. Benito Cao, 3 Nov 2016, 'Manufacturing consent for SA's nuclear program',

6. Daniel Wills, 6 Nov 2016, 'Nuclear waste verdict from citizens' jury leaves Government's grand plan in tatters',


8. No Dump Alliance, 7 Nov 2016, 'The verdict is in and the radioactive waste dump plan is out',

9. Stephen Long, 3 Nov 2016, 'Critics argue Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission skewed by advocacy group's evidence',




13. Stephen Long, 8 Nov 2016, 'SA nuclear waste dump plans based on questionable assumptions and lacks public support",

Australia Nuclear Free Alliance annual meeting

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Bilbo Taylor

The 19th annual meeting of the Aboriginal-led Australia Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) was recently held on Wongutha traditional lands in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia (WA) ‒ the first time the annual event has been held in the west. ANFA was formed in 1997 at the height of the successful campaign to stop the Jabiluka uranium mine in the Northern Territory.

This year's ANFA meeting came on the back of three uranium mine assessments in WA and two nuclear waste dump proposals in South Australia. The meeting was eagerly awaited by local Traditional Owners as an opportunity to meet others fighting the uranium industry, to share experiences and collaborate on how we can best fight these proposals.

Over 60 delegates from across Australia attended the meeting, with representatives from 29 different First Nations, including Amanda Lickers, a young First Nation woman from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in Canada, who presented a workshop on the fight to stop tar sands mining and gas fracking in her traditional lands. Amanda's traditional lands also contain all five stages of the nuclear industry including areas occupied by Cameco, the Canadian Nuclear Corporation which is trying to open two uranium mines in WA – Kintyre and Yeelirrie. Amanda's spoken word and video presentations about First Nations people taking direct action against these industries inspired the meeting. You can find out more information about these campaigns on Facebook ‒ search for 'Reclaim Turtle Island'.

There was some good news on the uranium mining front this year, with the impending closure of the Ranger uranium mine on Mirarr traditional lands in the Northern Territory and the WA EPA denying approval of Cameco's Yeelirrie uranium mine ‒ a project that threatened to make several subterranean species extinct.

Four young Mirarr traditional owners spoke at the meeting about the Ranger mine closure plans, mine rehabilitation and concerns that the mining company ERA is still looking to expand the mine. The Mirarr delegates were adamant that the Mirarr's position of no uranium mining meant there is no possibility for any further mining in their traditional lands.

Traditional Owners from Yeelirrie spoke about the 40-year fight to stop the mine, seeing off three mining companies. They are waiting to see the decision of the state Environment Minister, who could still approve the mine despite the EPA's rejection of the application.

Two other uranium proposals, Wiluna and Mulga Rock, both in the Goldfields of WA, have just been given the green light by the WA EPA but both are now subject to appeals against the EPA findings. Vimy Resource's Mulga Rock proposal is contentious as the mining company is claiming that there are no Traditional Owners. The proposed mine is situated upstream from a Class A nature reserve at Queen Victoria springs and is inside the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community.

Janice Scott and Bruce Hogan, local Traditional Owners with ties to Mulga Rock, joined ANFA for the first time this year. Janice recounted stories of how her people, refugees from the Maralinga atomic bomb tests in South Australia, were moved to the Cundalee community close to Mulga Rock in WA. She spoke about how their families learned about that country and have been caring for it ever since and are now facing a second forced eviction. They spoke passionately about how beautiful and unique the plants and animals of the area are, about the burial grounds near the proposed uranium mine, and the appalling decision from Vimy Resources to totally ignore the local Aboriginal people and not consult with them.

Waste dump proposals

With the federal government targeting the homelands of Adnyamathanha traditional owners in South Australia (SA) for a national radioactive waste dump, and the state government promoting a plan for an international high-level nuclear waste dump, there was a large contingent of South Australian traditional owners at this year's meeting. SA has a long history of nuclear issues, from atomic bomb tests to uranium mining and radioactive waste dump proposals.

An earlier plan for a national radioactive waste dump was defeated by the Irati Wanti campaign, led by a group of senior Aboriginal women, the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta. Now Adnyamathanha traditional owners in SA are in the firing line and they spoke at the ANFA meeting about their determination to stop the dump and how they felt that the government and the nuclear industry have unfairly targeted Aboriginal communities. They also spoke about how special the site is, a site that is prone to flooding and is next door to an Indigenous Protected Area.

One of the highlights of this year's ANFA meeting was the presentation from Dr. Christine Stokes about the findings from the Western Desert Kidney Health Project. The project incorporated arts, storytelling, medical research and community engagement to study the possible causes of the large kidney health problems in the area. One of the findings from the study was that the water in the region that has nitrates can cause a range of health problems. Where there are nitrates and uranium in water, the effects on kidneys are severe. Although there needs to be more study, the meeting was concerned that uranium mining could increase water contamination, further adding to what is already an epidemic of kidney health problems.

Australia has a long history of nuclear projects, and a long and often successful history of Aboriginal resistance to this dangerous and unwanted industry. This year's ANFA meeting reaffirmed this with strong talking, resilience and steadfast resistance to the industry. We all have a vested interest in ensuring that this uneconomic, unwanted and unnecessary industry is stopped and that Australia becomes nuclear free.

Australia: Lizards Revenge - Expansion Olympic Dam under pressure

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Hundreds of people from around the country joined the Lizards Revenge music and arts festival and protest camp that took place at the gates of BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in South Australia from 14-18 July 2012. The protest at Olympic Dam was staged to stop the planned expansion of the copper and uranium mine, which received a go ahead in October 2011. But economics raised uncertainties about the expansion project.

Sleeping underneath the ground, there is an old lizard known as Kalta the sleepy lizard. The lizard ain’t so sleepy anymore. BHP Billiton is mining right into that Lizard’s body. Kalta is angry and wants revenge. The land is being irreversibly poisoned in and around Roxby Downs. The tailings dam is causing dust and ground water contamination and contamination of its own workers. Arabunna elder Kevin Buzzacott is calling the people of the world to help the lizard shut down the mine. He is calling for people to come and heal the land in the name of peace and justice for the next 10,000 generations to come.

On July 17, about 350 anti-uranium activists have broken through an exterior fence of the mine, but were prevented from reaching the mine, by a main reinforced steel gate. A few days later, after the official lizards revenge festival ended, about 40 people blocked Olympic Way, one of te road s leading to Olympic Dam. They pushed a car onto the road, let down its tyres and locked the steering. Two men then chained themselves to the underside. Both were arrested and charged with illegal interference.

But the July 28, edition of the Weekend Australian newspaper reported that BHP Billiton is reconsidering investments in several mining projects. BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers said that a faster-than-expected slowdown in China and increasing European instability will rule out a "near-term" improvement in operating conditions, forcing the world's biggest miner to rethink spending on its portfolio of major projects. The Aus$30 billion  (US$31bn or 15.5bn euro) expansion of its Olympic Dam mine is shaping up as the first major victim of the volatile economic conditions. 
A decision by the world's biggest miner on whether to proceed with the proposed expansion of its mine will not be made until 2014 rather than by the end of this year, as previously stated by BHP. The expansion of Olympic Dam is one of three major BHP projects seen by analysts as vulnerable to setbacks as markets soften. The company has until early December to give the final go-ahead for the Olympic Dam project or it faces the need to renegotiate state government approvals.

A day later, on July 29, The Australian reported that the most likely of Australia's next big uranium mine developments - the Kintyre project in Western Australia's Great Sandy desert - has fallen victim to sluggish demand and prices for uranium. Project operator and 70 per cent owner, Canada's Cameco, has revealed that the economics of the project are "challenging" in that a development would not be profitable at current uranium prices. Prices are 34 per cent below where they need to be for a viable project. Cameco chief executive Tim Gitzel told analysts that Cameco was "not going to develop Kintyre at any cost." 

It means that Cameco and its 30 per cent partner, Japan's Mitsubishi Development, will not begin development of what would have been WA's first uranium mine in early 2014 as first planned. A 2014 start to production would have meant first production in 2016. Discovered more than 25 years ago, the contemplation of Kintyre's development only became possible with the election of the pro-uranium mining Barnett government in 2008.

Sources: ABC, 17 July 2012 / Reuters, 28 July 2012/ Australian, 28 & 29 Au-gust 2012 /
Contact: Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia, 5 King William St, Bayswater 6053, Australia.
Tel: +61 9271 8786
Email: admin[at]

Olympic Dam

Nuclear News - Nuclear Monitor #826 - 6 July 2016

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Fukushima's Stolen Lives: A Dairy Farmer's Story 

An English translation of a book by Mr Hasegawa Kenichi, a dairy farmer from Iitate Village in Fukushima, has recently been published and is available on Kindle and iBooks. Hasegawa-san is a strong community leader who has been an important voice for the rights of local citizens, and a regular speaker on Peace Boat voyages, at conferences and field visits including during the Global Conference for a Nuclear-Free World, and in other speaking tours overseas including to Australia and the EU Parliament in Brussels.

Hasegawa-san describes in the book how most of the people in the Japanese village of Iitate ‒ including very young children ‒ continued to live in their homes for more than two months following the Fukushima disaster in March 2011.

Hasegawa describes the catastrophe and its consequences in simple, direct, and clear prose. Weaving together stories about the experiences of Iitate's residents, Hasegawa is a witness to the truth of what life was like immediately following the accident ‒ as he suffered with the knowledge that his children and grandchildren had been exposed to radiation, as he lost all of his cattle, and as he endured the suicide of a fellow dairy farmer and friend.

This is the story of Iitate, but it is also the story of Hasegawa-san, a man who had a lot to lose: a beautiful village steeped in natural history and time-honored traditions, a working dairy farm, a lovely home shared with his extended family, a close-knit community, and colleagues whom he considered close friends. Ultimately, the accident at Fukushima Daiichi ‒ in concert with the profit-minded "nuclear power village" and failures of leadership at every level of government ‒ not only took, but contaminated, all of it: the farm, the fields, the milk, the water, the harvest, the home, and a cherished way of life.

Through it all, Hasegawa pursued the truth by meeting with journalists and taking his own radiation readings. He made sure that the residents in his hamlet of Maeta got what they needed ‒ whether it was bottled water, or reliable information. He confronted lies and hypocrisy in the leadership where he found it. Ultimately, he took a leading role in preserving the interests of everyone and everything he cared about.

Since the evacuation, Hasegawa has organized people from all over Fukushima, including nearly half the population of Iitate, with the goal of getting justice from TEPCO.

Hasegawa-san's ebook is available for US$8 from

Wanted: someone, anyone to operate Japan's Monju fast reactor

Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) demanded in November 2015 that a new operator should be found to operate the Monju fast-breeder reactor. The new operator would replace the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), a quasi-government organization which was not competent to operate the reactor according to the NRA. Hiroshi Hase, chair of the NRA, said: "We haven't seen acceptable improvements. We cannot fully trust the current organization."

But six months have gone by and a new operator is nowhere in sight. "We are exploring many different options for who will operate the reactor ‒ either a new entity or an existing company," said a government official recently.

Makoto Yagi, chair of the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, said Monju's design is quite different from normal power reactors and utilities don't have the requisite expertise.

Last November, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) warned that if a replacement operator for Monju cannot be found, the future of the reactor should be fundamentally reviewed, including the possibility of decommissioning it.

Monju has operated for only 250 days in its 20-year history. The World Nuclear Association provides this warts-and-all summary of Monju's history:

"A key part of Japan's nuclear energy program, Monju initially started in August 1995, but was shut down only four months later after a serious incident. About 700 kilograms of liquid sodium leaked from the secondary cooling loop and, although there were no injuries and no radioactivity escaped plant buildings, this was compounded by operator attempts to cover up the scale of the damage."

"Monju was allowed to restart in May 2010 after JAEA carried out a thorough review of the design of the plant, as well as safety procedures, which were shown to have been inadequate. However, the reactor's operation was again suspended in August 2010 after a fuel handling machine was accidentally dropped in the reactor during a refuelling outage. The device was eventually retrieved almost one year later.

"In November 2012, it was revealed that JAEA had failed to conduct regular inspections on almost 10,000 out of a total 39,000 pieces of equipment at Monju. Some of these included safety-critical equipment. In January 2013, the NRA ordered JAEA to change its maintenance rules and inspection plans. However, following a review of JAEA's performance since then, the NRA found that the agency has failed to formulate and adhere to a strict inspection schedule."

Likewise, Nuclear Engineering International made no attempt to put a positive spin on Monju's track record in an October 2015 article:

"In 2013, NRA ordered JAEA to ban test-runs after more than 10,000 maintenance errors had been found, many involving the facility's piping system. Further safety oversights were subsequently discovered, and in late August some 3000 of errors were found in the safety classifications of the equipment and devices at the reactor during NRA's regular inspection which is conducted our times a year. Some of the errors dated back to 2007, suggesting that previous government inspectors had also overlooked the operator's mistakes. ... NRA officials told a meeting on 30 September that they were unable to grasp the exact nature of the problems, because of JAEA's poor handling of the data."

In addition to lax safety standards, security has been lax at Monju. Reports in 2013 and 2014 said that fencing was inadequate, regular checks to ensure the security of equipment were not conducted appropriately, rules were violated regarding visitors inside areas containing nuclear material, and that the JAEA said that computer hackers may have stolen private data including internal e-mails and training records.

Japan continues to expand its stockpile of 48 tonnes of separated plutonium (10.8 tonnes in Japan, 20.7 tonnes in the UK and 16.3 tonnes in France) and it continues to advance plans to start up the Rokkasho reprocessing plant in 2018. Rokkasho would result in an additional eight tonnes of separated plutonium annually.

If Japan abadons Monju ‒ and with it the broader aspiration of developing fast reactors ‒ the only remaining civil use for the plutonium would be the limited use of MOX in light-water reactors.

In response to the latest episode of the Monju saga, Allison MacFarlane, a former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, offered this sarcastic comment on fast reactor technology: "Many countries have tried over and over. What is truly impressive is that these many governments continue to fund a demonstrably failed technology."

UK nuclear power program: a litany of broken promises

Prof. Stephen Thomas from the University of Greenwich analyses the ongoing controversy over the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power project in the UK in an article published in Energy Policy.

Thomas summarizes:

"In 2006, the British government launched a policy to build nuclear power reactors based on a claim that the power produced would be competitive with fossil fuel and would require no public subsidy. A decade later, it is not clear how many, if any, orders will be placed and the claims on costs and subsidies have proved false. Despite this failure to deliver, the policy is still being pursued with undiminished determination. The finance model that is now proposed is seen as a model other European countries can follow so the success or otherwise of the British nuclear programme will have implications outside the UK.

"This paper that the checks and balances that should weed out misguided policies, have failed. It argues that the most serious failure is with the civil service and its inability to provide politicians with high quality advice – truth to power. It concludes that the failure is likely to be due to the unwillingness of politicians to listen to opinions that conflict with their beliefs. Other weaknesses include the lack of energy expertise in the media, the unwillingness of the public to engage in the policy process and the impotence of Parliamentary Committees."

Thomas provides the following table comparing earlier promises regarding the British nuclear power program (and Hinkley in particular) and actual agreements:

What was promised

What was agreed

No subsidies: would compete in the market on equal terms with all other sources.

Contract for 35 years. Government loan guarantees perhaps covering all the borrowing, about £17bn, of the expected (including finance) cost.

No ‘sweetheart deal'

No competitive procurement process

Competitive with other forms of generation generating at £31–44/MW h.

Most expensive power on system, £92.5/MWh: more than double 2013 wholesale electricity cost.

Construction cost excl. finance £2bn per reactor.

Construction cost, excl. finance £8bn per reactor.

First power 2017.

First power 2026.

Consortium 80% EDF, 20% Centrica

Consortium 66.5% EDF, 33.5% Chinese companies

Programme of 12 reactors by 2030

No more than a handful of reactors built by 2030

Competition between developers & technologies.

Bilateral negotiations with NNB GenCo + EPR

Stephen Thomas, 2016, 'The Hinkley Point decision: An analysis of the policy process', Energy Policy, Volume 96, pp.421–431,

Karlamalyi Walk in Western Australia

Martu Traditional Owners recently led a 140 km, week-long walk to protest against Cameco's proposed uranium mine at Kintyre in Western Australia. Cameco has received conditional government approval to proceed with the mine, but the project has stalled because of the low uranium price.

Kintyre was excised from Karlamilyi National Park ‒ WA's biggest National Park ‒ in 1994. The area still has National Park values ‒ an intricate desert water network and a number of endangered and vulnerable species including the rock wallaby, mulgara, marsupial mole, bilby and quoll. The area includes permanent water holes, ephemeral rivers and salt lakes.

Over 50 artists, activists and Traditional Owners participated in the Karlamalyi Walk. Along the way, stories were told about the land: where water is sourced, where the animals and the plants are, where traditional burial and hunting grounds are located, and why mining on this land must not go ahead.

Aboriginal Traditional Owners are concerned the project will affect their water supplies as well as 28 threatened species in the Karlamilyi National Park. Nola Taylor said the mine represented a threat to the health of people in her community. "It's too close to where we live, it's going to contaminate our waterways, we've got our biggest river that runs right past our community," she said.

"They (Cameco) told me it would be safe, they said all that but we had a cyclone go through here a couple of years back, and for me I have seen what has happened to the river and the water that is in there. I'm going to walk with the rest of the community to fight and stop the uranium mine that's going to go ahead," Taylor said.

Curtis Taylor, a Martu man and filmmaker, is not convinced the waste can be stored safely. "We had assurances given to us by the company but everyone still has that worry, if there was a flooding event that maybe tailings would go into the river," he said.

Joining the walk was Anohni, the Academy Award-nominated musician from Antony and the Johnsons. She said: "It's a huge landscape – it's a really majestic place. It's really hard to put a finger on it but there's a sense of presence and integrity and patience, dignity and perseverance and intense intuitive wisdom that this particular community of people have. There is almost an unbroken connection to the land – they haven't been radically disrupted. They are very impressive people – it's humbling to be around these women. In many regards, I think the guys who run Cameco are desolate souls, desolate souls with no home, with no connection to land, with no connection to country."

From August 7 until September 7, the Walkatjurra Walkabout will be held in Western Australia to protest against the proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine, also owned by Cameco.

Traditional Owner Kado Muir said: "Walkatjurra Walkabout is a pilgrimage across Wangkatja country in the spirit of our ancestors so together, we as present custodians, can protect our land and our culture for future generations. My people have resisted destructive mining on our land and our sacred sites for generations. For over forty years we have fought to stop uranium mining at Yeelirrie, we stopped the removal of sacred stones from Weebo and for the last twenty years we have stopped destruction of 200 sites at Yakabindie. We are not opposed to responsible development, but cannot stand wanton destruction of our land, our culture, and our environment. We invite all people, from all places, to come together to walk with us, to send a clear message that we want the environment here, and our sacred places left alone."

More information:

France: Protest at Bure nuclear waste dump site

On June 19, about 200 people established a protest camp in the forest of Mandres-en-Barrois, a short distance from the Bure site where French government agency ANDRA plans to build a high-level nuclear waste dump.

Protesters successfully established the camp, and have maintained a continuous presence since June 19. Fences that surround the construction site were removed, and barricades were built on the path to the site. Protesters plan to maintain the camp indefinitely and to do all they can to stop work at the site, but they will need ongoing support ‒ especially when police attempt to uproot them.

Major deforestation and land clearing operations have recently been carried out by ANDRA despite local opposition.

Protesters said in a statement:

"Today, on Sunday, 19th, 2016, we have temporarily freed the communal woods of Mandres-en-Barrois from Andra's yoke with its CIGEO nuclear garbage dump. In front of our great wooden pavilion, assembled where the first steps of deforestation were taken, we, resisting inhabitants from here and other places, NGOs, collectives, declare the Woods of Mandres occupied!"

"Today we are occupying this forest to physically oppose ourselves to its being annexed by ANDRA. We are occupying it because we cannot stand to hear the crash of trees being uprooted, because their razor blade wire fences, their mercenaries and big dogs will not stop us from resisting. We are occupying it to stop the territory from being stolen away from the people by the hungry hands of nuclear industry.

"We are occupying this forest in order to prevent the beginning of works for CIGEO. We know that nothing in the shiny corridors of Parliament can stop the dump being dug, that only a territorial struggle can do it.

"We are occupying this forest with another type of life, joyful, inventive, collective, against nuclear society and its world of military and private security guards, of smiling experts and quiet dosimeters, a world set to exploit the ground and its people as much as possible. Where they want to deforest, we are building shelters. Where they raise wire fences, we open paths. Where they are manufacturing a desert of solitude and resignation, we are claiming our joy together, while resisting. So now, all summer, everyone must come to Bure to stop CIGEO!"

More information:

Radioactive waste and the nuclear war on Australia's Aboriginal people

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green − Nuclear Monitor editor

From 1998‒2004, the Australian federal government used thuggish, racist tactics in a failed attempt to impose a national nuclear waste dump on Aboriginal land in South Australia. The government's subsequent attempt to impose a dump on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory was even more thuggish and even more racist. But that also failed. Now the Australian government has embarked on its third attempt to establish a nuclear waste dump and it has decided to once again try to impose a dump on Aboriginal land in South Australia despite clear opposition from Traditional Owners.

The latest proposal is for a dump in the spectacular Flinders Ranges, 400 km north of Adelaide in South Australia, on the land of the Adnyamathanha Aboriginal Traditional Owners.

The proposed dump site is adjacent to the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area (IPA).1 "The IPA is right on the fence ‒ there's a waterhole that is shared by both properties," says Yappala Station resident and Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Regina McKenzie. The waterhole ‒ a traditional women's site and healing place ‒ is one of many archeological and culturally significant sites in the area that Traditional Owners have registered with the South Australian government over the past six years.

Two Adnyamathanha associations ‒ Viliwarinha Aboriginal Corporation and the Arnggumthanhna Camp Law Mob ‒ wrote in November 2015 statement:2

"The whole area is Adnyamathanha land. It is Arngurla Yarta (spiritual land). The proposed dump site has springs. It also has ancient mound springs. It has countless thousands of Aboriginal artefects. Our ancestors are buried there.

"Hookina creek that runs along the nominated site is a significant women's site. It is a registered heritage site and must be preserved and protected. We are responsible for this area, the land and animals. Through this area are registered cultural heritage sites and places of huge importance to our family, our history and as we plan, our future. It is a very important archeological site for Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners. It is also a significant historical cultural site for non-Aboriginal people.

"We don't want a nuclear waste dump here on our country and worry that if the waste comes here it will harm our environment and muda (our lore, our creation, our everything). We call on the federal government to withdraw the nomination of the site and to show more respect in future."

Regina McKenzie said on ABC television: "Almost every waste dump is near an Aboriginal community. It's like, yeah, they're only a bunch of blacks, they're only a bunch of Abos, so we'll put it there. Don't you think that's a little bit confronting for us when it happens to us all the time? Can't they just leave my people alone?"3

Dumping on South Australia, 1998‒2004

This isn't the first time that Aboriginal people in South Australia have faced the imposition of a nuclear waste dump. In 1998, the federal government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near the rocket and missile testing range at Woomera.

In 2003, the federal government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished with the stroke of a pen.4 This took place with no forewarning and no consultation with Aboriginal people.

Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern South Australia.5 Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu Field in the 1950s.

The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to 'get their ears out of their pockets', and after six years the government did just that. In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election, with the dump issue biting politically, and following a Federal Court ruling that the government had illegally used urgency provisions in the Lands Acquisition Act, the government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan.

The debate over nuclear waste dumping in South Australia overlapped with a controversy over a botched clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear weapons test site in the same state. The federal government's clean-up of Maralinga in the late 1990s was done on the cheap and many tonnes of plutonium-contaminated debris remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology.6 Nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the clean-up: "What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn't be adopted on white-fellas land."7

Radioactive ransom in the Northern Territory

From 2006 to 2014, successive federal governments attempted to establish a national nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, 110 km north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. A toxic trade-off of basic services for a radioactive waste dump was part of the story from the start.

The nomination of the Muckaty site was made with the promise of $12 million compensation package comprising roads, houses and scholarships. Muckaty Traditional Owner Kylie Sambo objected to this radioactive ransom: "I think that is a very, very stupid idea for us to sell our land to get better education and scholarships. As an Australian we should be already entitled to that."

While a small group of Aboriginal Traditional Owners supported the dump, a large majority were opposed8 and some initiated legal action in the Federal Court challenging the nomination of the Muckaty site by the federal government and the Northern Land Council (NLC).9

The conservative Coalition federal government passed legislation − the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act10 − overriding the Aboriginal Heritage Act, undermining the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and allowing the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent.

The Australian Labor Party voted against the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act, with Labor parliamentarians describing it as "extreme", "arrogant", "draconian", "sorry", "sordid", and "profoundly shameful". At its 2007 national conference, Labor voted unanimously to repeal the legislation. Yet after the 2007 election, the Labor government passed legislation − the National Radioactive Waste Management Act (NRWMA)11 − which was almost as draconian and still permitted the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent (to be precise, the nomination of a site was not invalidated by a failure to consult or secure consent).12

Radioactive racism in Australia is bipartisan − both Labor and the conservative Liberal/National Coalition voted in support of the NRWMA. Shamefully, the NLC supported legislation disempowering the people it is meant to represent.

The Federal Court trial finally began in June 2014. After two weeks of evidence, the NLC gave up and agreed to withdraw the nomination of Muckaty.13 Victory for the Muckaty mob! The announcement came just days before the NLC and government officials were due to take the stand to face cross-examination. As a result of their surrender, they did not have to face cross-examination in relation to numerous serious accusations raised in the first two weeks of the trial, including claims that the NLC rewrote an anthropologists' report.14

South Australia as the world's high-level nuclear waste dump

Now Aboriginal people in South Australia face another grave threat: a plan to import 138,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel and 390,000 cubic metres of intermediate level waste for storage and disposal as a commercial venture. The plan is being driven by the South Australian government, which last year established a Royal Commission to provide a fig-leaf of independent supporting advice.15 The Royal Commissioner was (and is) a gullible nuclear advocate and the majority of the members of the 'Independent Advisory Committee' were strident nuclear advocates.16

The plan to turn South Australia into the world's nuclear waste dump has been met with near-unanimous opposition from Aboriginal people.17 The Aboriginal Congress of South Australia, comprising people from many Aboriginal groups across the state, endorsed the following resolution at an August 2015 meeting:18

"We, as native title representatives of lands and waters of South Australia, stand firmly in opposition to nuclear developments on our country, including all plans to expand uranium mining, and implement nuclear reactors and nuclear waste dumps on our land. ... Many of us suffer to this day the devastating effects of the nuclear industry and continue to be subject to it through extensive uranium mining on our lands and country that has been contaminated. We view any further expansion of industry as an imposition on our country, our people, our environment, our culture and our history. We also view it as a blatant disregard for our rights under various legislative instruments, including the founding principles of this state."

Self-styled pro-nuclear environmentalists

Australia's self-styled 'pro-nuclear environmentalists' – academic Barry Brook, uranium and nuclear industry consultant Ben Heard, and one or two others – have never once voiced concern about attempts to impose nuclear waste dumps on unwilling Aboriginal communities. Their silence suggests they couldn't care less about the racism of the industry they so stridently support.

Silence from Brook and Heard when the federal government was passing laws allowing the imposition of a national nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory without consultation or consent from Traditional Owners. Worse still, echoing comments19 from the right-wing Liberal Party, Brook and Heard said the Muckaty site in the Northern Territory was in the "middle of nowhere".20 From their perspective, perhaps, but for Muckaty Traditional Owners the site is in the middle of their homelands.

Heard's comments about the current proposed dump site on Adnyamathanha land in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia have been just as offensive. He claims there are "no known cultural heritage issues on the site".21 Try telling that to the Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners who live on Yappala Station, in the Indigenous Protected Area right next to the dump site. So where did Heard get this idea that there are "no known cultural heritage issues on the site"? Not from visiting the site, or speaking to the Traditional Owners. He's just parroting the federal government's racist lies.

Brook and Heard are also offering up the state of South Australia for an international high-level nuclear waste dump as if it was their personal property.22 No mention of Aboriginal Traditional Owners or their fierce opposition to such proposals.17

The intersection between nuclear waste and radioactive racism isn't unique to Australia, of course. In the U.S., for example, indigenous activist Winona LaDuke sums up the problem: "The greatest minds in the nuclear establishment have been searching for an answer to the radioactive waste problem for fifty years, and they've finally got one: haul it down a dirt road and dump it on an Indian reservation".23

The racism associated with nuclear waste dumping in the U.S. is as plain as the nose on James Hansen's face ‒ but he hasn't said a word about it. Nor has the Breakthrough Institute or any of the other self-styled pro-nuclear environmentalists in the U.S.

Take action:




3. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 26 May 2016, 'Indigenous owners appeal to Minister's 'human side' to shelve proposed nuclear waste site',

4. Senator Nick Minchin, Minister for Finance and Administration, Media Release, July 7, 2003



7. ABC Radio, August 2002. A number of Parkinson's papers and videos are posted at


9. ABC, 13 March 2012, 'NT step closer to nuclear waste dump',





Elizabeth O'Shea, 19 June 2014, 'Muckaty nuclear dump defeat is a huge victory for Aboriginal Australia',

14. Jane Lee, 4 June 2014, 'Indigenous land owners accuse lawyer of manipulating nuclear waste storage report',

See also:


16. Jim Green and Philip White, Dec 2015, 'A Critique of the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission',


18. Aboriginal Congress of South Australia, 2015, Submission to Royal Commission,

19. Erin Stewart, 31 May 2012, 'A community maintains its spirit in confronting ignorance',

20. Ben Heard and Barry Brook, 25 June 2014, 'Nuclear waste is safe to store in our suburbs, not just the bush ',

21. Ben Heard, 12 May 2016, 'Location, location, location: why South Australia could take the world's nuclear waste',

22. Ben Heard and Barry W. Brook, 10 Feb 2015, 'Royal commission into nuclear will open a world of possibilities',

23. 25 May 2005, 'Utah tribe cleared for decision on nuclear waste',

Nuclear News - Nuclear Monitor #820 - 16 March 2016

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

No prosecution for massive spill at Australian uranium mine

In December 2013 a tank collapse resulted in a spill of 1.4 million of radioactive slurry at the Ranger uranium mine in Australia's Northern Territory. Investigations found that damage to a rubber liner had allowed the acidic mixture to corrode the steel wall of the tank, leading to its failure. Operations at the mine were suspended for six months.

Over two years later, the NT Department of Mines and Energy has decided not to prosecute Rio Tinto subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) for the massive spill. The Department claimed "that it is not in the public interest to prosecute ERA under the Mining Management Act" ... or any other Act.

The decision was "derelict, deficient and deeply disappointing", said Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation. "Many people expected the regulator to step up and regulate – these people and Kakadu deserve better than this failed and flaccid response from the Department."

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said: "The regulator failed to prevent the spill, they took years to deliberate, and came up with nothing. They've essentially announced to mining companies in the NT that there are no legal consequences for catastrophic negligence. We urge the NT government to reverse this decision immediately and force ERA to be accountable."

Under the terms of ERA's lease all mining and processing at Ranger is required to cease by January 2021. The company is legally obliged to rehabilitate the site so it can be incorporated into the surrounding World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park by 2026.

Mapped: The world's nuclear power plants

Carbon Brief has produced a useful online resource showing the location, operating status and generating capacity of all 667 power reactors that have been built, or are under construction, around the world. The website also provides a useful snapshot of the sick and sorry state of the nuclear power industry worldwide, with statistical information on increased construction times, the aging of the global fleet of nuclear reactors, nuclear power's economic negative learning curve, and nuclear's falling share of worldwide electricity generation.

Switzerland to start nuclear phase-out in December 2019

BKW is to permanently shut down its 373 MW Muehleberg nuclear power plant in western Switzerland on December 20, 2019, the company said on March 2. Muehleberg is to be the first Swiss nuclear plant to close under a federal government plan to phase out the country's entire 3.3 GW nuclear fleet by 2035. BKW had intended to operate the plant until 2022, but in October 2013, the company announced it would close the plant in 2019, three years ahead of schedule, to avoid making long-term investments in the plant. BKW concluded that a weak power price outlook – in particular impacted by continuing expansion in renewable power in neighbouring Germany – could not justify the significant investments required for longer-term operations.

Situation of the five Swiss nuclear power reactors as of August 2015:

Beznau I

365 MW

46 years old

Beznau II

365 MW

44 years old


373 MW

43 years old


970 MW

36 years old


1190 MW

31 years old

Nuclear energy conference in Prague

The third annual Nuclear Energy Conference, 'Nuclear Energy – Expensive Gamble' will be held in Prague on Tuesday April 5, 2016. It is organized by Hnutí DUHA (FoE Czech Republic), Calla – Association for Preservation of the Environment, and South Bohemian Mothers. Emmerich Seidelberger will address risks of the nuclear power industry in the world; Ian Fairlie will reflect on the Chernobyl disaster; speakers will address nuclear safety issues in Belgium, Slovakia and France; Oda Becker and Jan Jílek will report on the results of the risk and safety assessments carried out in response to Fukushima; and Tobias Heldt will discuss the issue of limited liability for nuclear damage. The Conference is free of charge. Translation into English, German and Czech will be provided.



Aboriginal Traditional Owners in Australia seek international support

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

As discussed in the last issue of Nuclear Monitor, Aboriginal Traditional Owners in Australia are facing a push for an international high-level nuclear waste dump. They are now seeking international support. Non-government organisations around the world are asked to endorse their statement online at Here is the statement:

Irati Wanti: 'The Poison – Leave It'

A group of politicians and business-people are developing a plan to build an international high-level nuclear waste dump in South Australia. The plan is strongly opposed by many South Australians and by an overwhelming majority of Aboriginal people.

The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance, representing Aboriginal people from across Australia, calls on nuclear nations NOT to dump nuclear waste in Australia. The nuclear industry has a track record of Aboriginal dispossession and environmental pollution − from the atomic bomb tests to uranium mining to nuclear waste dump proposals.

We call on nuclear nations NOT to dump nuclear waste in Australia.

Commission recommends international high-level nuclear waste dump for South Australia

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green – Nuclear Monitor editor

A Royal Commission established by the government of South Australia to investigate options for nuclear expansion has released its interim report.1 Australia's role in the nuclear fuel cycle is currently limited to uranium mining and export. The Royal Commission is negative about almost all of the proposals it is asked to consider. It concluded that uranium conversion, enrichment and nuclear fuel reprocessing will not be economically viable for the foreseeable future. It found that conventional nuclear power and small reactors will not be economically viable for the foreseeable future.

Significantly, the Royal Commission has dealt a blow to advocates of 'integral fast reactors' (IFR). The Commission faced a major co-ordinated lobbying exercise promoting a plan to import spent fuel and to convert it (well, a small fraction of it) to fuel for IFRs. The illogical nature of the waste-to-fuel plan is neatly debunked in an important recent report by The Australia Institute.2

The Royal Commission could not be clearer on the topic of fast reactors. Its interim report states: "Fast reactors or reactors with other innovative designs are unlikely to be feasible or viable in South Australia in the foreseeable future. No licensed and commercially proven design is currently operating. Development to that point would require substantial capital investment. Moreover, the electricity generated has not been demonstrated to be cost-competitive with current light water reactor designs."

So the waste-to-fuel IFR fantasies are dead and buried ... for the time being.

The Royal Commission promotes a plan for South Australia to accept nuclear waste from power plants around the world for storage and disposal – 138,000 tonnes heavy metal of spent nuclear fuel and 390,000 cubic meters of intermediate-level waste – over about 100 years. It makes absurd claims about the potential profits to be made, claims echoed by the state's one mass circulation newspaper – a Murdoch tabloid.

However the revenue estimates have no basis in reality. There is no comparable overseas model of commercial trade of nuclear waste for disposal. No real idea how many countries might avail themselves of the opportunity to send nuclear waste to Australia for disposal, or how much they might send, or how much they might pay. So there's no way of knowing whether revenue would exceed costs.

The estimated construction costs for a deep underground repository for high level waste are in the tens of billions of dollars. For example the construction cost estimate in France is US$27.8 billion (€25 billion)3 while in Japan the estimate is US$31 billion (€28 billion).4

Of course, there are significant additional costs associated with operating and monitoring repositories. The US governments estimates that to build a repository and operate it for 150 years would cost US$96 billion.5 The Royal Commission provides a similar figure: costs of $145 billion over 120 years for construction, operation and decommissioning.

But the above timeframes – 150 years in the U.S. report and 120 years in the Royal Commission study – are nothing compared to the lifespan of nuclear waste. It takes 300,000 years for high level waste to decay to the level of the original uranium ore.6 The Royal Commission report notes that spent nuclear fuel (high level nuclear waste) "requires isolation from the environment for many hundreds of thousands of years."

Economist Prof. Richard Blandy commented: "We are bequeathing a stream of costs to our successor generations. They will be poorer as a result, and will have reason to curse their forebears for selfishly making themselves better off at their expense."7

Despite the best efforts of the mainstream political parties and the Murdoch press, public opinion is strongly against the plan for a nuclear waste dump in South Australia, and the proposal is likely to meet with fierce opposition from Aboriginal Traditional Owners.








7. Richard Blandy, 23 Feb 2016, 'Nuclear waste dump confounds cost-benefit analysis',

More information:

– 'Australian push to become the world's nuclear waste dump', Nuclear Monitor #808, 18 Aug 2015,

– Friends of the Earth, Australia: