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EnvironmeNT : the newsletter of the Environment Centre NT



EnvironmeNT : the newsletter of the Environment Centre NT


Environment Centre NT


EnvironmeNT; E-Journals; PublicationNT; EnvironmeNT : the newsletter of the 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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April 2001 Page 6 ground shafts in order to avoid the IWMP overflowing. Since then millions of litres of contaminated water have been pumped underground at Jabiluka. Some of this water will have permeated through into the groundwater and potentially into the surrounding wetlands. The remainder will become increasingly contaminated daily and contribute to a growing water management fiasco at Jabiluka. There is no guarantee that ERA will be able to treat all of the con taminated water prior to the 2001/2002 wet season. The fact that Jabiluka is experiencing major water management problems at this stage of development does not say much for ERAs ability to responsibly operate a mine in full production. The problems at Jabiluka have emerged as a result of premature approvals for construction of the Jabiluka mine. In July 1998 the then NT Minister for Mines and Energy, Eric Poole, approved the beginning of construction at Jabiluka. This was prior to the completion of the Public Environment Report for the Jabiluka Mill Alternative, which given the subsequent Mirrar veto of the Ranger Milling Alternative, was the only project option available to ERA. Therefore the NT Government approved construction for a project that hadnt yet been approved by the Common wealth Minister. The writing is on the wall for Jabiluka. The approvals process has been shoddy, the mine is already experiencing major water management problems and it continues to be opposed by Traditional Owners, environment groups and the Australian public. Rio Tinto now has the perfect op portunity to demonstrate some responsibility and quit attempts to develop the mine. Mark Wakeham and Kirsten Blair A heavy wet in Kakadu has seen serious water management problems emerge at Jabiluka. The Interim Water Management pond (IWMP) was designed to operate for a period of 12 months catching contaminated water that ran off the mine site during the construction phase. Two years later with construction halted at Jabiluka the IWMP is still in operation and has been unable to cope with the accumulated run-off from a couple of big wet seasons. Water management problems emerged at Jabiluka over the 1999/2000 wet with the pond filling almost to capacity. The water in the IWMP was contaminated with high levels of uranium and other radio-nucleides. Following the wet season ERA committed to installing a Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant in early 2000. RO plants essentially filter contaminated water to reasonable water quality standards. After several months of delay ERA finally got an RO system in place towards the end of 2000, but not in time to dispose of enough water before the 2000/2001 wet season. In February 2001 the company was forced to resort to pumping water from the IWMP into the mine decline and under ERA in deep water at Jabiluka. Jabiluka mine site, March 2001. Photo by David Palmer

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