Crikey has a story about some poll manipulation by the nuclear power industry - ANSTO poll goes radioactive, quietly changes no to yes.
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation has been caught out trying to manipulate a web poll on its own web site.
On Friday Crikey noted that ANSTO had run a poll on its web page for the question “Should nuclear power be a part of Australia’s future energy mix?” which that day had votes “against it” running way ahead of support.
Thursday and Friday saw a big spike in traffic to the site, perhaps because nuclear opponents were drawing attention to it and urging people to vote. “I am against it” went further ahead.
But sometime over the weekend, someone at ANSTO changed the poll, removing “I’m against it” and replacing it with “It is one of the options”.
This prompted a flurry of emails to ANSTO this morning from enraged nuclear opponents angry that the outcome of the poll had been entirely reversed.
Crikey asked ANSTO’s media manager Sharon Kelly what had happened. According to Kelly, ANSTO’s web manager Peter Hindmarsh amended the poll without authorisation over the weekend because of the “Against It” vote spike. It has now been altered again, with “It is one of the options” replaced with “No”, rather closer in meaning to the original option, with an explanation of why it was changed. ...
“This is a small but perfect example of the dishonesty that surrounds the ‘debate’ about nuclear power in Australia,” Greens spokesman on nuclear issues Senator Scott Ludlam said.
“ANSTO ran a popularity poll on their website, which they lost comprehensively. Instead of learning something, they decided to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’. What a perfect symbol for the way the larger nuclear power debate is being run in Australia.”
Across the Pacific, The New York Times has an article on the slow demise of the aging stock of existing nuclear plants - The Dilemma of Aging Nuclear Plants.
From the time the world’s first commercial nuclear power plants were switched on in the late 1950s, installed generating capacity rose rapidly over two decades. It leveled off in the 1980s as new building programs were scrapped in the wake of the accident at Three Mile Island, among other factors.
Contractors generally designed plants to last for 40 years — a standard enshrined in the United States in the adoption by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or N.R.C., of a 40-year licensing regime.
A large part of the world’s installed nuclear power capacity is now coming to the end of that designed life span.
Caught between approaching retirement deadlines and public opposition to new plants, industry operators are pushing to extend the life of their plants to 60 or even 80 years — and this despite problems of premature aging of major components that have already obliged many to replace their plants’ steam generators at heavy capital expense.
Running plants longer is one way to recoup the extra cost and raise returns on investment over the full life of the plant. But it has safety implications.
The 40-year life span was a design specification, said Guillaume Wack, director for nuclear plants at the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire, or A.S.N., the French nuclear regulator.
“It’s like a car,” Mr. Wack said in an interview. “The manufacturer says it will run for 100,000 kilometers” — 60,000 miles — “and last two years. That’s the theoretical life. After that, it depends on how you run it. If you drive carefully with regular checkups, it could last much longer. If you drive recklessly and don’t maintain it, it will wear out more quickly.”
Heading back to Crikey and the topic of the media, they have an article on the low profile the ongoing oil spill off the north west coast has been accorded - Our quietly spreading Exxon Valdez in the Timor Sea.
For the two months since the accident happened we have had an oil slick visible from space, covering an area of thousands of square kilometers. The size, extent and duration means that hundreds if not thousands of our most precious wildlife will have been exposed to the toxic effects of oil, as well as untold damage to the underwater ecosystem and contamination of the food chain. If this was oil off our favourite beaches and swimmers and surfers were at risk, then there would be public outrage. Out of sight should not mean out of mind.
We know from the Exxon Valdez disaster that impacts from an oil spill can be seen 20 years later, so we can expect this environmental disaster will continue to unfold for years to come.
I am at a loss as to why this marine disaster has hardly registered on the Australian radar - press coverage appears to have been piecemeal at best, with little comprehensive coverage of the local, regional and international consequences.
The political response has been limited to hand-wringing stop-gap measures and to paying for a series of failed attempts to plug the spill and some apparently ineffective mopping-up operations.
The Australian reports that even the local oil industry has become embarrassed by the spill - Industry lashes oil spill firm.
It has been almost 10 weeks since sweet light crude oil, gas and condensate started spewing from the drill unit off the Kimberley coast in the Timor Sea.
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association deputy chief executive Mark McCallum said it had tarnished the sector's "excellent environmental record". "There are safeguards and technological measures available designed to prevent well blowouts," Mr McCallum said.
And to top it all off, Reuters reports the rig caught fire this weekend (with the company claiming the leak had been plugged the same day) - Leaking Timor Sea oil rig catches fire.
An oil rig operated by a unit of top Thai energy firm PTTEP in the Timor Sea, which has been leaking for 10 weeks, caught fire on Sunday, officials said.
The West Atlas rig operated by PTTEP Australasia, a unit of PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) (PTTE.BK), started leaking on Aug. 21 and efforts to stop the leak have failed.
PTTEP finally stopped the leak on Sunday, but as it was trying to fill the hole with heavy mud, the West Atlas rig and Montara wellhead platform caught fire, said Australian officials.