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World Heritage Park in Australia increasingly threatened by uranium mining

the Ranger mine is more than 30 years old and we are increasingly seeing metal fatigue and accidents, such as the one we saw so spectacularly 10 days ago.

Kakadu mine: risk of uranium leakage could be greater than thought
Study shows the radioactive particles can escape into the environment, raising alarms about the national park Oliver Milman, Wednesday 18 December 2013 The risk of uranium leakage from filtration systems used by facilities such as the Ranger mine in Kakadu could be greater than is currently acknowledged, with new research showing that the hazardous substance is far more mobile than previously thought.

A study published in Nature Communications found that seemingly immobile uranium“piggybacked” onto iron and organic material and flowed into a stream that joined a wetland in France.

The Australian Conservation Foundation said the findings were “alarming” given the proximity of the Ranger mine to the World Heritage-listed wetlands of Kakadu national park in the Northern Territory. The ACF said the new European research called into question mine operator Energy Resources of Australia’s practice of using a wetland filtration system to ensure uranium doesn’t escape into the environment. A community of Mirarr people live about 10km from the Ranger mine.

Gavin Mudd, a senior lecturer in civil engineering at Monash University, said the uranium rehabilitation strategies used by Ranger and other mines would need to be reassessed…….

Dave Sweeney, nuclear-free campaigner at the Australian Conservation Foundation, told Guardian Australia that the research, along with the leak, raised serious questions about the way the Ranger mine was operated.

“The Ranger mine pumps a significant amount of water through a wetland filter and this research raises concerns that the mobility of uranium has been underestimated,” he said. “If wetland filtration is a key plank of the process, as it is at Ranger, it rings alarm bells. There needs to be an urgent review and assessment of activities at the Ranger mine.”

Sweeney said the Kakadu environment provided all the conditions for uranium mobilisation as identified in the report.“You have a major industrial activity that deals every day with radioactive materials in an area of monsoonal wet tropics that’s world heritage-listed and within Australia’s largest national park,” he said. “That’s not a good combination. This report is a clarion call to scrutinise the assumptions underpinning this mine.

“On top of that, the Ranger mine is more than 30 years old and we are increasingly seeing metal fatigue and accidents, such as the one we saw so spectacularly 10 days ago. This really concerns us.”

December 19, 2013 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment

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