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Ranger water leak raises questions about Kakadu

Australian ABC News

3 May 2000

The Gundjhemi Aboriginal Corporation says the leak of contaminated water from the Ranger uranium mine raises questions about the mining company's ability to protect Kakadu National Park.

The mining company, Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA), has confirmed there has been a leak at the mine, which is surrounded by the World Heritage-listed park.

The Aboriginal corporation's Jacqui Katona says the leak is further evidence the proposed Jabiluka mine should not go ahead.

"This is precisely why the Mirrar [people] have terrible fears about Jabiluka proceeding, because it's in a far less stable geographic position than the Ranger uranium mine," she said.

"The likelihood of accidents at Jabiluka are far greater.

"We're seeing this mining company not capable of undertaking its obligations at its present site and we hold no confidence at all that the company can undertake any obligations at the proposed Jabiluka site."

Ms Katona says the leak raises questions about ERA's ability and commitment to protect the environment.

"We want to make sure that the areas surrounding the Jabiluka proposed mine, Kakadu National Park, are protected," she said.

"These are areas where we harvest our food; Aboriginal people have been taking vast amounts of fish in the last month from that particular area and we don't believe the company can guarantee that there hasn't been a detrimental effect outside of the mine site."

Federal concern

The Federal Government says it is concerned it took ERA more than three weeks to report the leak.

But the government says it appears there has been no significant environmental impact on Kakadu.

ERA says it found out on April 5 that contaminated water with high levels of manganese had leaked into a wetlands area on the mining lease.

But it did not tell the authorities until April 28.

Federal Resources Minister Nick Minchin and the Environment Minister, Robert Hill, say they are concerned about the delay and ERA has been asked for an explanation.

Senator Hill's office says monitoring by the Office of the Supervising Scientist has not shown any impact on the park.

The office will report on the incident to the federal government in a few days and its findings will be made public.

Related sites:

North Ltd/ERA

Mirrar opposition homepage (Click on 'Breaking News', bottom left of screen)

*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Feel free to distribute widely but please acknowledge the source. ***

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