Uranium Fails Catastrophically


Wed, 11/12/2013

As the Northern Territory scrambles to contain one of the worst uranium disasters in Australian history, Western Australia faces new proposals for uranium mines.

Energy and Minerals Australia (EMA) has a proposal before the Environmental Protection Authority and recently, the Federal Department of Environment, to mine an area of Mulga Rocks, located 240km northeast of Kalgoorlie.

Greens (WA) member for the Mining and Pastoral Region, Robin Chapple MLC affirms his opposition to the proposal, stating, “Uranium mining is a financially and environmentally unviable industry that leaves a legacy of radioactive waste for tens of thousands of years. It does not make sense to persist with uranium in WA, the Saudi Arabia of sunlight, whilst renewable energy is drastically underutilized and the price of uranium continues to fall.”

The Mulga Rock Uranium Project is anticipated to commence operations in 2016 but environmental organisations have voiced their concerns over the risks posed to threatened plants and animals on site and in the nearby Queen Victoria Springs nature reserve.

Local community members have raised questions as to how the water-intensive uranium industry will meet the water requirements of the site when communities in and around Coonana struggle with water supply.

The people of Coonana are no strangers to the uranium industry. Members of Coonana are Spinifex people who were living in Maralinga in South Australia until the 1950’s whereby they were dispossessed of their lands due to atomic testing by the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia and moved to Cundalee and then Coonana.

The environmental concerns and ongoing threat to Indigenous communities come as one of our national jewels, the Kakadu National Park, was disturbed by a spill of 1.4 million litres of acidic radioactive sludge from the Ranger Uranium mine over the weekend. The mine has been the site of over 150 spills, leaks and licence breaches in its 33 year history. Operations have been ceased until regulators are satisfied with the integrity of the mine site.

In response to the weekend spill, Greens spokesperson for nuclear policy Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam said, “This is one of the best regulated uranium mines in the world and clearly, not only has the operator of the mine failed catastrophically, so has the regulator. If this can happen at this mine, it can happen anywhere. This is an industry we do not need in Western Australia.”

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255

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