Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Contract For Work in "Desolate Moonscape"

Contract For Work in "Desolate Moonscape" Won by NZ Nuclear Scientists

IT'S hard to find a good reason to make a trip to Mauritania according to The Lonely Planet guide on the internet, which describes the West African country as, among other things, "one of the least trodden spots in the world" - but that hasn't stopped the National Radiation Laboratory (NRL) in Christchurch.

It's been awarded the contract by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) to survey the country for the best location to place one of the 80 radionuclide stations being set up around the world to monitor the treaty.

The Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), to which many countries including New Zealand are signatories, is seen as a major step towards the curtailment of nuclear weapons production, and eventual disarmament. The treaty can only be effectively implemented, however, if there is a monitoring system in place to verify that weapons testing is in place, and if it does occur, to identify the violator.

Because of this need, the CTBTO is setting up 321 stations in an International Monitoring System (IMS) to track any violations. It uses four technologies; radionuclide, seismological, hydroaccoustic and infrasound. The NRL has been playing a significant role in setting up the IMS.

"Our Laboratory carried out the first survey for a radionuclide station in 1998 in the Chatham Islands, and since then the methods and protocols have been adopted by the CTBTO as standard," said Jim Turnbull, Group Manager for the National Radiation Laboratory.

As well as in Kaitaia, surveys for radionuclide stations have since been carried out by the NRL in Rarotonga, Fiji and Kiribati, as well as a survey for an infrasound station on the Chathams. The latest contract is the first outside of the Pacific, in a key location for the IMS.

"While Mauritania is rather an 'exotic' location for a monitoring site, it's also strategically very important, being both on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and the Sahara Desert. The Sahara has of course already been used by the French for weapons testing in the past," said Mr Turnbull.

The $70,000 contract to carry out the work was contested internationally, and was awarded to the NRL. Two senior scientists from the laboratory, Martin Gledhill and Nanette Schliech will travel to Mauritania in January next year.

"Given the logistical necessities, such as access to electricity, line of sight to satellites, security, and ease of access, we have identified the airport as the most likely site. Both scientists will work there for a week or so under the jurisdiction and supervision of the local army, although we are advised there are no safety issues at present."

The local army will likely also arrange the collection of scientific equipment in order to avoid customs and border problems. Samples from the site will be brought back to New Zealand for analysis of background radiation in the soil and atmosphere, in order to determine if the site meets criteria for selection for a CTBTO monitoring station.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Government: Northland To Move To Orange, NZ Prepared For Omicron

Northland will move to Orange at 11:59pm tonight, 20 January 2022, while the rest of New Zealand will remain at Orange as the Government prepares for Omicron to enter the community.
“Vaccination rates have continued to increase in Northland and are now at 89 percent first dose. The easing of the Auckland boundary over summer did not drive an increase in cases so we believe it is safe for Northland...


Gordon Campbell: On Responding To The Need In Tonga

The power of the Tonga eruption (and the size of the aid response being mounted) have been sobering indications of the scale of this disaster. The financial impact is certain to exceed the damage done by Cyclone Harold two years ago, which was estimated at the time to cost $US111 million via its effects on crops, housing and tourism facilities. This time, the tsunami damage, volcanic ash, sulphur dioxide contamination and villager relocation expenses are likely to cost considerably more to meet...


Science Media Centre: Omicron Outbreak Would Move The Country To Red - Expert Reaction

The Prime Minister has announced if Omicron cases spread into the community, the country will move to the traffic light system's Red setting within 48 hours. Jacinda Ardern also mentioned there will be changes to the country's testing regime, with more use of Rapid Antigen Tests... More>>

Government: New Zealand Prepared To Send Support To Tonga

New Zealand is ready to assist Tonga in its recovery from Saturday night’s undersea eruption and tsunami, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today... More>>

Ministry of Health: COVID-19 Immunisation Starts For 5 To 11-year-old Tāmariki

More than 120,000 doses of the child (paediatric) Pfizer vaccine have been delivered to over 500 vaccination sites around New Zealand as health providers prepare to start immunising 5 to 11-year-olds tamariki from today, 17 January... More>>

Statistics: Departures Lift Border Crossing Numbers

The number of people crossing New Zealand’s border went up in November 2021, mostly due to an increase in departures, Stats NZ said today. There were 28,700 border crossings in November 2021, made up of 12,300 arrivals and 16,400 departures... More>>

Financial Services Federation: Open Letter To Government From Non-bank Lenders: The Path Forward On CCCFA Changes
Responsible lenders are not interested in telling the Government “I told you so” when it comes to unintended consequences of changes to lending laws that are now causing grief for everyday Kiwis seeking finance... More>>

CTU: Too Many Kiwi Workers Financially Vulnerable As Omicron Looms
With New Zealand on the precipice of an Omicron outbreak and the economic upheaval that comes with it, the CTU’s annual Mood of the Workforce Survey shows the vast majority of kiwi workers do not have the financial resources to survive a period of unemployment... More>>




InfoPages News Channels