Sandi Keane, Environment Correspondent, Independent Australia, writes: Sorry Mark Willacy (yesterday, comments), but other than your reports on PM, last Thursday and AM and Midday last Friday (you didn’t mention Midday but that’s when I heard you), there was no mention in ABC’s hourly radio news nor anything at all on ABC TV news or current affairs programs on Friday — or, indeed, all weekend.

I’d already posted my story on the Fukushima melt down in Independent Australia on Friday when I read Glenn Dyer’s story. Independent Australia had picked up the story early that morning and I quickly organised an interview with Dr. Helen Caldicott. I verified the story through Reuters and saw that UK Telegraph were running it (nothing in the US mainstream media which didn’t surprise me).

The very thing everyone had been praying wouldn’t happen, did! A meltdown! Finally we had a confirmation. TEPCO admitted it. And our mainstream media went completely missing, including the ABC, other than one mention by Mark Willacy on Thursday’s PM repeated on AM and Midday on Friday.

This story should have run on ABC’s hourly radio news and prime time TV news. Why not?

Thankfully Crikey and other bloggers are beginning to jump into the vacuum vacated by Australia’s increasingly trivia-obsessed media.  Lindsay Tanner was spot on.  Fukushima’s “entertainment” value doesn’t sell.


John Poppins writes: Re. “Gottliebsen: an Olympic victory for BHP” (yesterday, item 4). Although I spent some of my first earnings on BHP shares nearly 50 years ago, and still hold shares, I and some other shareholders are saddened by BHP’s pursuit of Olympic Dam expansion, and by Robert Gottliebsen’s euphoric description of it.

The expansion will supply an industry whose effects will dwarf those of asbestos. It will create the largest above ground hazardous radioactive waste dump in the world. Its colossal usage of oil, electricity and water will ensure that South Australia has no chance of holding, much less reducing its carbon footprint.

Fukushima has demonstrated again how hazardous the nuclear industry is.

The plutonium and caesium ejected from the reactors there will ensure that the surroundings will be uninhabitable for the foreseeable future.

Cleanup is neither possible nor economic. Just as descendants of survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still face difficulties in finding partners because of the potential genetic legacies, descendants of Fukushima survivors will also face difficulties. Those news clips of children being scanned for radioactive contamination by operatives who were clearly keeping their own distance from the children were gut wrenching.

The process of enrichment of the uranium for power reactors removes the desired U235 from the majority U238. The resulting U238 waste, the great majority of the uranium, has found one major application in Depleted Uranium (DU) projectiles. These have been used by the US and NATO as tank busters, a job they do superbly well.

These munitions are true Weapons of Mass Destruction. They create fine toxic radioactive dust which is active for hundreds of years.

Climbing cancer statistics in the Balkan states, Iraq and Afghanistan where these munitions have been used are testimony to their effect on people. Greatly increased rates of genetic abnormalities are occurring in babies born in these areas, some of which may be passed on in the DNA of future descendants.

In time we have to expect to see effects in our own soldiers, exposed to DU particles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their descendants in turn face increased risk.

It is very sad to see a fine company, still calling itself Australian, taking such risks with our long term future for the sake of a tiny contribution to our dividends for a few years.

Ian Lowe writes: So it’s great news, we should all be popping champagne corks.

Even before anything as unimportant as an environmental impact assessment to determine whether it is acceptable to dig the biggest hole on Earth and produce unimaginable quantities of radioactive tailings, turning a huge area of South Australia into a polluted lunar landscape, the business world is hailing the opportunity to allow BHP to help the world build more nuclear power stations.

Their shareholders are going to make so much money, it would ridiculous to rain on their parade by suggesting that the proposal is morally indefensible.

I’m glad Crikey isn’t subjecting the proposal to any sort of critical analysis that might slow down the rush to punch well above our weight in polluting the planet.


Jane Ward writes: Amalgamating the denotatively opposite words tax and benefit into one entity and concept has been a triumph of spin and mystification. Can we please return to using the terms Family Payment and Additional Family Payment which everyone actually understood.

Niall Clugston:

Niall Clugston writes: Chris Virtue (yesterday, comments) is onto something. Do we really need to hear about Niall Clugston’s opinion all the time?