Pangea Resources was an international consortium that was planning an international high-level nuclear waste repository in Australia.
Pangea set up an office in Australia in the late 1990s but gave up in 2002 in the face of overwhelming public and political opposition.
The existence of Pangea Resources was a closely guarded secret until a corporate video was leaked to the media.
Pangea chief Jim Voss denied meeting with federal government ministers when he had in fact met at least one minister. A Pangea spokesperson said: “We would not like to be lying … we very much regret getting off on the wrong foot.” Ironically, ARIUS, the successor to Pangea, now states: “An essential element of any approach is the open and complete flow of information.”
Here is Pangea Resources’ corporate video which was leaked to Friends of the Earth (UK) in the late 1990s. Until this video was leaked, Australians had no idea that we were being targeted as the world’s nuclear dump.
And here is an ABC Four Corners program from 1999:
Pangea reborn as ARIUS
Some people from Pangea thought they might do better if they presented themselves in the guise of a not-for-profit group. Thus ARIUS — the Association for Regional and International Underground Storage — was born. And some of these people were commissioned by the South Australian Royal Commission in 2015/16 to do the economic analysis on the proposal to turn SA into the world’s nuclear dump. Incredibly, the Royal Commission relied completely on this one economic analysis.
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, 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? 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.”
See also the Channel 7 video posted here.
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:
“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.”
The Jacobs MCM claims uncritically regurgitated in the Royal Commission’s report were scrutinised by experts from the US-based Nuclear Economics Consulting Group (NECG), commissioned by a Joint Select Committee 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. 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”.
For more information on the 2015-17 debate on turning SA into the world’s nuclear waste dump, please visit: https://nuclear.foe.org.au/waste-import/