The Guardian March 13, 2002


More uranium accidents at Ranger

The Northern Land Council will take up the spills, leakages and 
accidents at the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park with the 
company that owns the mine, ERA and the Federal Government. The Land 
Council says there have been a number of "operational errors" which have 
led to high levels of contamination in waters adjacent to the mine 
site.

"I am very disturbed that not only were mistakes made which lead to 
contamination, but that ERA failed to adequately detect high levels within 
the appropriate time frame", said Land Council Chief Executive, Norman Fry.

"The fact that they did not notify stakeholders, including traditional 
owners, until last week, just compounded the problems." Mr Fry said that 
ERA and the Government must not lose sight of the fact that the traditional 
owners live in the area and rely on it for their physical and cultural 
sustenance.

A uranium leak last month sent water contamination to unprecedented levels, 
the fourth breach of operating regulations this year. Andy Ralph, a 
spokesperson for the traditional owners, the Mirrar people, said the 
breaches showed that ERA was still unaccountable.

"The main crux of the matter is that ERA have four times broken regulations 
that were put in place to allay the fears of traditional owners about high 
levels of uranium entering Kakadu", said Mr Ralph.

"How can the traditional owners have any confidence in the regulatory 
authority or the mining company when leaks continue to occur and reporting 
is continually delayed?"

The Northern Land Council said the Government must share the blame, as the 
mine is situated on a Commonwealth lease. Norman Fry said the fact that 
such fundamental operational errors continue to occur raises serious 
questions about the efficacy of ERA's systems.

Back to index page