Monthly Archives: January 2019
SEWAGE SAGA: An aerial view of the RAAF’s private sewage treatment plant, constructed in the 1950s. The need to decommission it was identified over a decade ago and was described as “urgent” by MP Bob Baldwin in 2012.
THE TURNBULL government has been called on to intervene in a sewage sagathat hasrun into its fourth year, cost taxpayers $7.5 million for an unused pipeand left a bad taste in the mouths of Williamtown residents.
Defence admitted this week thattheWilliamtown RAAF base is still notconnected to the region’s sewerage network, with no end in sight to what appears to have become a war of attrition with Hunter Water.
When theNewcastle Herald revealed the dispute in January, 2016, Defence rubbished suggestions the parties were atan impasse and said the matter would be resolved within a month.
But two years later, Hunter Water claims Defence is still refusing to sign a standard trade wasteagreement setting limits on the amount of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl [PFAS] chemicals itdischarges into the sewer.
Sewer pipe to nowhereDefence ready to sign for sewerIt means the base’s sewage –containing the toxic firefighting chemicals – continues topoolin unlined ponds on a neighbouring private property, with nothing to stop the toxinsseeping into the Tomago Sandbeds aquifer during heavy rain.
Shadow assistant Defence Minister Gai Brodtmann said it was time for Defence Minister Marise Payne to take control of the situation.
“Why hasn’t the Turnbull government shown leadership and stepped in to resolve this issue sooner?” she said.“I’m concerned at how long this negotiation has taken, and strongly encourage both Defence and Hunter Water to come to an agreement as soon as possible.”
Minister Payne could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Spokesperson for the Williamtown and Surrounds Residents Action Group Rhianna Gorfineslammed it as “unthinkable” that Defence would be seeking to flush PFAS into the sewer network.
“If they can’t connect a sewer after four years of negotiations, what hope have we got of them decontaminating the area?” she said.
A Defence spokesperson said negotiations were continuing and it would be seeking a high level meeting with the Hunter Water board.
“Defence remains committed to finalising the trade waste agreement as quickly as possible,” they said.
“Negotiations have been delayed due to a number of commercial and legal matters.These matters have been complicated by the emerging issue of PFAS as a contaminant, and, therefore, the lack of a NSW trade waste regulatory framework incorporating PFAS management.”
A Hunter Water spokesperson reiterated that all commercial and industrial customers were forced to sign trade waste agreements to protect the environment.
He said Defence could not“guarantee” that PFAS in its wastewater would meet requirements.
The RAAF base isserviced by a private sewage treatment plant,constructed in the 1950s.
The need to decommission the ageing plant and connect the base to Hunter Water’s sewerage network was identified over a decade ago and was described as“urgent” by Paterson MP Bob Baldwin in 2012, who warned the region’s drinking water supply was being put in jeopardy.
By late 2014, $7.5 million in taxpayer funds had been spent on the construction of a pipe and Defence and Hunter Water began negotiations over the trade waste agreement.
Ms Gorfine said the community no longer had any faith in Defence to follow through on its commitments.
She was incensed that community representatives were told in January 2016 thattheHerald’s reports were inaccurate and that the matter would be resolved by the following month.
“Why should the community have any faith in their words?” she said. “Actions speak louder than words.”
The Defence spokesperson said the latest testing on waste in its sewage ponds detected the chemical perfluoroctane sulfonate (PFOS)at 1.3 parts per billion.
“The waste is not currently treated for PFAS where itremains on Defence land,” they said.
“Where Defence removes waste from the site, that waste is treated in accordance with NSW Environment Protection Authority Guidelines.”
ziggyThe Minerals Council of Australia has called for the country’s prohibition on nuclear power to be lifted. But both critics and supporters see little future for large-scale nuclear power in Australia’s energy mix.
The man who once famously called for 50 nuclear reactors across Australia, nuclear physicist and NBN chairman Ziggy Switkowski, says “the window for gigawatt-scale nuclear has closed”.
A lack of public support and any actual proposals for a nuclear plant had resulted in government inertia, he said on Thursday.
“Government won’t move until a real business case is presented and none has been, to my knowledge, and there aren’t votes in trying to lead the debate,” he said, adding that renewables were now a more economically viable choice.
“With requirements for baseload capacity reducing, adding nuclear capacity one gigawatt at a time is hard to justify, especially as costs are now very high (in the range of $5 billion to $10 billion), development timelines are 15+ years, and solar with battery storage are winning the race.”
Warwick Grigor, the former chairman of Uranium King, mining analyst, and a director of uranium miner Peninsula Energy, agrees.
“I think nuclear energy is great, but we’ve missed the boat in Australia, no one is going down that path in the foreseeable future,” Mr Grigor told Fairfax Media.
“When Fukushima [the 2011 nuclear accident in Japan] occurred, that was the closing of the door to our nuclear power possibilities.”
Mr Grigor sees battery technology, a market he has since entered, as a better alternative.
Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney said talk of nuclear power was “a dangerous distraction” from the steps that needed to address the energy and climate challenges facing Australia.
Nuclear energy has been officially banned in Australia since 1998, with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s OPAL reactor at Lucas Heights, NSW, the only nuclear reactor in the country.
But the Minerals Council’s executive director for uranium, Daniel Zavattiero, said the nation had excluded a low-emissions energy source of which Australia has an abundant supply from the current debate.
“Maybe nuclear power might be something that is not needed, but an outright prohibition on it is not needed,” he said.
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg supported the Mineral Council’s stance.
“There needs to be bipartisan support for nuclear power and that does not exist right now,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“You would also need state-based support and that is not clear at this stage either.”
In a pre-budget submission, the Minerals Council said nuclear energy needed to be “allowed to compete with other low-emissions sources of electricity – and on equal terms”.
“The ban on nuclear power in Australia is hampering an open debate about future energy and climate change management.”
Mr Zavattiero’s position has been supported by the South Australia Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, which recommended the lifting of the federal prohibition on a nuclear industry.
Mr Switkowski said smaller, modular nuclear reactors could play a part in the future energy mix, and could support regional centres.
An ANSTO spokesman told Fairfax Media these smaller plants could technically work in Australia.
“If Australia did want to expand into nuclear energy technologies, there would be a number of options to consider in the future, including small modular reactors and Generation IV reactors, which could be feasible if the policy, economic settings and technology were right and public support was in place,” he said.
However, the country currently did not have enough skilled personnel to safely operate a nuclear energy industry, he said.
“The question of whether nuclear energy is technically or economically feasible is a different question to whether Australia should or should not have a nuclear energy program, the latter of which is a matter for policy makers and the people of Australia,” the spokesman said.
Countries such as France have embraced nuclear energy, and nuclear power accounts for nearly 75 per cent of all energy generation.
This reliance on nuclear energy has played a role in helping the nation slash its CO2 emissions, with OECD data outlining France averaging 4.32 tonnes per capita compared to Australia’s average of 15.8 tonnes per capita.
While France had set a timeline to reduce its proportion of nuclear energy generation to half of all generation by 2025, French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot said it would be difficult to keep to its timeline without reintroducing fossil fuel generation.
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The first player in the BBL’s history given out for obstructing the field is adamant he was merely trying to avoid being hit by the return throw rather than block its progress as he attempted to complete a second run against the Hobart Hurricanes on Wednesday night.
But Brisbane Heat batsman Alex Ross was left with no choice but to walk when the umpires gave him out after reviewing the incident midway through the 17th over of the match.
The hard-hitting Ross was on 27 off 19 balls at the time but had to sit on the sidelines as the Heat rattled home, scoring 34 runs in the final three overs to fall just four runs short of victory.
Ross gave his perspective on Twitter: “I can unequivocally say I was trying to run away from the line of the ball to avoid being hit, as I felt I was going to make my ground.”
The controversial decision led to respective captains, Heat’s Brendon McCullum and George Bailey of the Hurricanes, having an animated discussion after the game.
McCullum made it clear that while he thought the Hurricanes deserved the win he thought the Ross decision was wrong.
Bailey told Channel 10 the Hurricanes’ initial appeal was made in relation to whether Ross was out of his ground but after seeing the vision they then enquired as to whether the batsman had obstructed the field as he changed direction when running down the wicket.
The umpires determined he had, in fact, obstructed the field, deciding Ross’s action was not accidental nor taken to avoid injury.
Cricket Australia said the decision was “justified” although they conceded it was a difficult rule to adjudicate as it required umpires to determine the intent of the player.
“The dismissal last night of Alex Ross from Brisbane Heat saw the batsman change direction, turn to watch the direction of the throw, and run on the pitch,” a Cricket Australia spokesperson said.
“The third umpire concluded that the change of running direction of the batsman, after seeing the direction of the throw, obstructed the wicketkeeper’s opportunity to affect the run out.”
Umpires are instructed to take into account whether a player changes direction as a guide for measuring intent.
The mode of dismissal is extremely unusual with only eight players ever given out in international cricket for obstructing the field.
The only time it has happened in a game involving Australia was in 2015 when England all-rounder Ben Stokes threw out his hand and deflected a Mitch Starc attempt to throw down the stumps.
Coincidentally the Australian wicketkeeper in that game was Matthew Wade, who was also keeping for the Hurricanes.
The Sydney Sixers English import Jason Roy is one of the eight players to have been dismissed for obstructing the field in international cricket after being given out for 67 against South Africa last year.
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BenSimmonshas been dealing with hype and expectation since high school so NBA All-Star and rookie-of-the-year chatter is water off a duck’s back for the 20-year-old Australian superstar.
Simmonshas been a revelation in his first full season after being handed the point guard role by Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown.
Former Boomers mentor Brown made him the focal point of his team alongside giant centre Joel Embiid and it has paid off with the perennial battlers sitting just one spot outside the Eastern Conference play-off spots.
Simmonsaverages 16.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and his 7.5 assists rank as the sixth-best in the league with his 1.9 steals tied for fourth.
That form has subsequently seen him touted as a potential All-Star, with online voting closing next week, and a frontrunner for the rookie of the year accolade.
Should he earn selection for the annual showpiece event he would be the first rookie to do so since LA Clippers star Blake Griffin in 2011.
Earlier this weekthe former Newcastle Hunters junior had clocked up just over 210,000 votes, placing him fourth among point guards in the East.
RISING STAR: Former Newcastle Hunters junior Ben Simmons has been a revelation in his debut season with Philadelphia. Picture: AP
Simmonssaid he is unfazed by the talk but revelling in the responsibility at the 76ers.
“I’ve had pressure my whole life, from high school, so I am not too worried about it,”Simmonssaid.
“I just go out there and try to enjoy my game. I’ve always been around cameras and the media.
“But I love being able to run the team. It’s one of those roles where the coach has a lot of confidence in me and I think I am doing a good job so far.”
The Melbourne-bornSimmonssaid sitting on the sidelines and missing his first season through a foot injury after being drafted No.1 overall in 2016 did little to prepare him for the rigours of the NBA.
“It helped to an extent, but playing the game is so different to watching,”Simmonssaid.
“I’ve learnt a lot from playing, far more so than watching.”
Brown believesSimmonshas only just scratched the surface of his potential but is delighted with how’s he adapted to his new responsibility, having played as a forward throughout high school and college.
“If any of us had thought about making him a point guard, forgetting 15 to 18 years of experience … and said ‘we are just going to give you the ball, you’re a point guard in the NBA’, … and fast forwarded 38 games into the season and looked at what he’s done, we’d have been incredibly happy,” Brown said.
“He has so much more growth to experience. Intellectually learning what a point guard is, that it’s not just dribbling the ball up the floor.
“As our point guard I see daylight, I see that being very progressive and heading in the right direction.”
Sachin Tendulkar has contributed richly to the history of the SCG. It was at the famous venue that, as an 18-year-old, he announced himself to the country with his maiden Test ton on Australian soil. Twelve years later he rained on Steve Waugh’s farewell Test with an unbeaten 241 after shelving his cover drive, and he made 154 not out in the infamous Bollyline Test of 2008.
On Sunday, nearly six years after his last match at the famous ground, it will be his son’s turn to grace the hallowed turf. Arjun Tendulkar, 18, is lining up for the Cricket Club of India in a Twenty20 match as part of the Spirit of Cricket Global Challenge, a tournament run by SCG Cricket.
There is even talk his father may be making a whirlwind trip from India just to see his son play at the ground, where his name is etched on the honour boards. Tendulkar, you’ll remember, is also the first overseas player to be given an honorary life membership of the SCG.
Unlike his father, Tendulkar junior is a left-arm quick, though he impressed this week with the bat, whacking a quick-fire 40-odd not out at Coogee Oval. Arjun has not hit the professional ranks but last year was picked in an under-19 side by Mumbai for an invitational one-day competition.
The son of a gun was playing at Bradman Oval in Bowral on Thursday and, our operatives tell us, will be in the crowd on Saturday night for the Big Bash League’s Sydney Derby.
The Tendulkar family is fiercely protective of Arjun’s privacy with all interview and photo requests having to go through his father. Pay war protagonists to meet
It was the greatest civil war the game had seen since World Series Cricket and wounds have not fully healed five months after a peace deal was struck in the bitter pay dispute.
An uneasiness remains about how Cricket Australia conducted itself during the standoff, and not just from the players’ side of the fence. There are figures in state land who were also unsatisfied with the approach taken by head office, having seen 230 cricketers around the country left unemployed for more than a month last winter.
However, now that the dust has properly settled, and the Ashes have been run and won, executives and directors on both sides appear to be at least attempting to improve relations.
Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Alistair Nicholson says his organisation’s president, former Australian wicketkeeper Greg Dyer, is expected to meet “a couple of CA board members” this month to discuss ways to avoid such a crisis ever occurring again.
“Now the Ashes is done, that conversation will now happen,” Nicholson told The Tonk.
“I think that the boards have to have some crossover, to at least try to understand some of the good and bad things that came out of it. There hasn’t been a lot of interaction on that with CA up until now.”
This week marks 100 days since the actual five-year memorandum of understanding was signed – there were weeks of to-and-fro following the heads of agreement deal that effectively ended the pay war – and the governing body and the players’ union have restored top-level contact beneath the board level.
“I can’t speak for him, but [CA chief] James [Sutherland] and I have a pretty good professional relationship,” Nicholson said. “And I’m dealing with [CA team performance boss] Pat Howard regularly on things. A couple of board members meeting in January from both sides of the board … I think that’s important.”
The ACA will later this month mark its 20th anniversary. Ashes pitches given thumbs up
There’s been much criticism of the pitches used for this summer’s Tests with many from both the Australian and England camps unhappy. But it seems the International Cricket Council does not share that view, with some of the ratings for this summer’s wickets likely to raise a few eyebrows.
While Australian captain Steve Smith described the Gabba deck as “reasonably disappointing”, the uncharacteristically slow pitch was given the highest possible rating of “very good” by match referee Richie Richardson. Not surprisingly, the Adelaide Oval was also given full points while Perth was judged to be “good”.
The MCG, as we all know, was slammed as “poor” while the SCG is set to be a tick with a grading of “good” or “very good” likely.
The ICC findings are at odds with the widespread view in the Australian game that the country’s pitches have become homogenised. Another son of a gun
Our loyal readers will be aware Usman Qadir, the son of Pakistan leg-spin great Abdul Qadir, has been turning heads in Sydney’s first-grade competition. Well, it seems word has spread well beyond the suburbs.
The 24-year-old leggie this week had a bowl in the nets with the Perth Scorchers. One spy tells us he gave Test opener Cameron Bancroft a bit of trouble. We also hear Perth and Western Australia coach and former Test great Justin Langer is very impressed. Again, watch this space.
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