Yeelirrie brings a nuclear-free WA one step closer

March 31, 2004 - The Greens (WA) have welcomed the announcement by WMC Resources that the contaminated uranium test site at Yeelirrie will be rehabilitated this year.

‘This is the culmination of a 20 year campaign by activists from across Western Australia,' Mr Chapple said. ‘Crucially, it clears the last barrier to the Western Australian Government finally legislating to ban uranium mining.'

‘The State Government has long argued that the State Agreement Act over Yeelirrie meant that the State could not ban uranium mining without threat of legal action,' Mr Chapple said, ‘We are delighted that this obstacle has been removed, and encourage the Government to finish the job and pass legislation without further delay.'

Anti-nuclear activists had measured radiation levels as high as 56 times background within the WMC site, which had been left in an unacceptable state for decades.

Mr Chapple sounded one cautionary note, in that it appears WMC will not relinquish the mining tenements over the area. ‘This suggests that the company is still keeping the hope alive that the return of a Liberal Government could one day reverse the state's anti-nuclear policy,' Mr Chapple said. ‘I sincerely hope that as soon as the Government has properly legislated to outlaw uranium mining, WMC will let go of these tenements. Then this sorry chapter can finally be closed.'

Mr Chapple said that he would continue to monitor developments at the site, particularly from an occupational health and safety perspective. ‘Someone is now going to have to carefully re-bury 35,000 tonnes of crushed uranium ore, and unless the cleanup is meticulously planned, workers are likely to be exposed to dangerous levels of radon and radioactive dust.'

He urged the company to work closely with unions and State and Federal radiation safety authorities.

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