Protestors halt construction of uranium project
Over 200 people took part in a protest at the US-owned Beverley uranium project in South Australia. They brought rig operations to a halt, filled in pipeline trenches and maintained a blockade at the mine gate for 24 hours. The international protesters united under the banner of International Activists Against Uranium Mining. The mine, located in the Gammon (North Flinders) Ranges, is presently constructing a commercial plant which has been approved by the Howard Government. The company involved in the construction, Heathgate Resources is 100 per cent owned by US nuclear giant General Atomics. The protesters are extremely concerned and strongly opposed to the use of sulphuric acid in the uranium mining process. The process involves the pumping of sulphuric acid into the ground water to dissolve the uranium. The uranium is pumped to the surface, processed and the waste is then returned to the ground water. The use of sulphuric acid technique is not allowed in other developed Western countries or in the company's mother country — the USA. On top of this, the Federal Government has given approval to the company to pollute without a requirement for the rehabilitation of ground water. As Bruce Thompson, nuclear campaigner pointed out, "The export of profit at the cost of our environment brings no benefit to the Australian community". Another disturbing feature at the protest was the use of excessive and unprovoked force by the police. The police face an inquiry into their actions. Protesters, including a nine-year-old Aboriginal girl were sprayed at close range with capsicum spray after being herded into a group. One of the commercial TV station's reporters said that violence erupted after the police had rammed a vehicle into a group of protesters and proceeded to use spray and batons to beat up the protesters. According to eye-witness reports, no violence was initiated by the protesters.