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EnvironmeNT : the newsletter of the Environment Centre NT



EnvironmeNT : the newsletter of the Environment Centre NT


Environment Centre NT


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Environment Centre N.T; Ecology; Periodicals

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Environment Centre NT

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EnvironmeNT : the newsletter of the Environment Centre NT

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Environment Centre NT



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May 20022 Page 3 ECNT campaign briefings for members At the ECNT planning day earlier this year Environment Centre Management Committee and staff developed a plan to have a series of briefing sessions for ECNT members on each of our 4 campaign areas- mining, landclearing, Darwin Harbour, coastal and marine issues and greenhouse. Basically the idea is members are invited to attend an information session where ECNTs campaign activities and goals are outlined. Following a brief presentation there will be plenty of time for discussion and to explore ways in which members can support our campaigns. At what cost? A snapshot of ECNTs mining campaign. A presentation from ECNT Coordinator Mark Wakeham will outline ECNTs mining campaign priorities. The presentation will include an update on Jabiluka, and will also outline our concerns about the NT ALPs back-flip on mining in National Parks. Refreshments will be available. Where: at ECNT, 3/98 Woods St, Darwin When: Tuesday 14th May, 5.30 pm- 7 pm. Its been a bad couple of months for Kakadu uranium miner Rio Tinto, not to mention those concerned about Kakadu National Park. Last month ECNT reported that there had been uranium leaks at both Ranger and Jabiluka mines in early 2002 and that ERA had misplaced 84,500 tonnes of uranium ore at Ranger. Since then the Office of the Supervising Scientist (OSS) report into the incidents has confirmed that ERAs internal management process failed and that ERA failed to meet their reporting obligations. The OSS failed to find a breach of the environmental requirements, however environment groups (including ECNT) are currently receiving legal advice on this issue. Unfortunately the leaks are continuing. At Ranger extremely high uranium levels have been recorded in the wetland filtration system through which contaminated water passes before being dumped into Corridor Creek. The source of the contamination is currently being investigated. In further news on the 18th April the 7.30 Report ran a story on a former worker at Ranger mine raising concerns about incidents that occurred at Ranger mine when he worked there that were not followed up adequately. Geoffrey Kyle, a former radiation safety officer with ERA, sub mitted a report to the NT and Commonwealth Governments this month outlining a series of incidents including tailing spills going under-reported and water quality test results being misreported. He reports that the mine failed to clean up a spill in December 1997 and as a result more than 300 kilograms of uranium leeched into a pond from which water is released into Magela Creek. He also reported that the mine routinely discharged water from a drain containing uranium at levels 9,000 parts per billion. The limit downstream from the mine is six parts per billion. Geoffrey Kyle also reported that he detected uranium levels almost 70 times higher than the level expected in a pristine waterway, but was prevented from investigating the extreme readings. The allegations made in his report (which was reviewed and commended by the Australian National Universitys Professor Ian White), are currently being investigated by the OSS. Traditional owners and environment groups (including ECNT) have responded to this series of leaks by calling for a Senate Inquiry into the regulation and performance of the Ranger and Jabiluka mines. These calls have since been supported by ATSIC, the ALP Shadow Minister for Environment, Kelvin Thomson, the Greens and the Democrats, making it extremely likely that an Inquiry will proceed. ECNT will keep you posted. Finally ERA and Rio Tinto came under intense scrutiny at their AGMs in April. At both meetings groups of protesters met shareholders outside the meetings and concerned shareholders asked questions about the companies commitment to Jabiluka inside the meetings. Rio Tinto again outlined a 10 year moratorium on the development of Jabiluka and Rio Chair, Sir Robert Wilson stated that There will be no development at Jabiluka without the consent of the traditional owners. However Rio Tinto would not commit to ruling out development of Jabiluka altogether. Justin OBrien of the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation told ABC radio that this amounted to holding a sword of Damacles above the heads of traditional owners and that It is completely unacceptable that this significant threat to Mirrar culture and Kakadus environment would continue for such an extended period. Environment groups and traditional owners continue to press for the rehabilitation of the Jabiluka site. The Jabiluka information sheet distributed at the AGMs is printed overleaf. -Mark Wakeham and Kirsten Blair Uranium mining woes continue in Kakadu