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

Gordon Campbell: On Last Night’s Leaders Debate

Do political debates change voter intentions, and cause voters to switch sides? According to a 2019 Harvard Business School study conducted across 61 elections in nine countries involving 172,000 respondents, the answer would seem to be a resounding “No.” Political debates have little effect on voter behaviour, let alone on election outcomes. Crucially, the limited effect they do have does not involve a change in voters’ policy preferences... More>>


Shaw: Wealth Tax Not A Bottom Line For Green Party But They Will Push For It

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says one of his senior MPs misspoke under pressure when she said a wealth tax was one of the party's bottom lines. More>>


Government: More Border Exceptions For Critical Roles

The Government has established class exceptions for border entry for a limited number of veterinarians, deep sea fishing crew, as well as agricultural and horticultural machinery operators. “Tight border restrictions remain the backbone of the Government’s ... More>>


PM: Auckland At Bolstered Level 2, Rest Of Country Provisionally At Level 1

Pandemic alert levels for the whole country have been reviewed by Cabinet and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is announcing whether restrictions will be eased. More>>


Labour: Supporting Workers And Valuing Their Contribution

Making sure working New Zealanders are safe, healthy and that their contribution to the economy is valued is at the heart of Labour’s Workplace Relations Policy.
“This is Labour demonstrating its commitment to helping working New Zealanders by increasing sick leave, raising wages, protecting them while they are at work, growing jobs and investing in the economy,”... More>>


Dunne Speaks: The Election Campaign Just Grinds Slowly On And On

With just over three weeks until the General Election, the release of the first major pre-election opinion poll this week confirmed what was already being reported about this year’s campaign. Although the gap between Labour and National has narrowed ... More>>

Electoral Commission: Candidate And Party Lists Released

17 registered political parties and 677 candidates will be contesting the 2020 General Election Nominations have now closed and the Electoral Commission has released the electorate and party list candidates for 2020 online at vote.nz . Advance voting ... More>>

National: Plan To Restore NZ’s Prosperity

National’s Economic and Fiscal Plan carefully balances the need to invest in infrastructure and core public services while also reducing tax pressure on Kiwi families and businesses. National Leader Judith Collins and Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith unveiled National’s ... More>>


NZ First: Party List

New Zealand First has a proven twenty-seven-year history of bringing balance and common sense to our government. Amid the continued setbacks of COVID-19 restrictions, New Zealand First has once again sustained its profile by selecting a strong team ... More>>

Election: Arriving Travellers In Isolation To Be Able To Vote By Telephone

Up to 5,000 people in managed isolation or quarantine will be able to vote by telephone in the general election and referendums after an amendment to electoral regulations last week. Chief Electoral Officer Alicia Wright says the Electoral Commission sought ... More>>





InfoPages News Channels