Thursday, November 20, 2008

Australia is rubbing its hands due to nuclear new build

Uranium mining is expanding all over Australia. The Government is relishing the idea of making lots of money from the nuclear renaissance being predicted (but not yet proven).

Australian greens are fast losing the optimism they felt when the Labor Party won the last election. It's clear that the temptation to make money at the expense of the environment and traditional peoples under the pretense of it being 'low carbon' is too much for them.

Western Australia

In Western Australia BHP Billiton Ltd is to develop one of Australia's largest untapped uranium deposits, after the state government where the deposit is located lifted a ban on mining the nuclear power feedstock.

The 10-kilometre-long (6 miles) Yeelirrie deposit, located about 1,000 km north of Perth in west Australia, is estimated to contain about 52,000 tonnes of uranium.

Elsewhere in Australia and Canada uranium mining has been a disaster for indigenous peoples (as it is most everywhere in the world, ironically). Over half of the world’s uranium is in Australia and Canada.

South Australia

In South Australia, in August the Australian Government approved the expansion of a controversial uranium mine, Beverley ISL. This was dubbed a “blank cheque licence for pollution”.

“Fundamentally, they have allowed the area of pollution from the Beverly mine to be expanded quite significantly,” ground water specialist Dr Gavin Mudd told The Epoch Times. Dr Mudd, a lecturer in environmental engineering at Monash University, says he has looked at the data from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and it is not convincing.

“Until they have got that data on the public record that has been independently verified by people not subservient to the mining industry I think they really have been given a blank cheque to leave groundwater in a much worse state than before.” (The Epoch Times Sep. 2, 2008)

Elsewhere in the Territory, on Oct. 31 BHP Billiton said it plans to have the first of five planned stages of expansion at its Olympic Dam mine in production by 2013. The first phase of expansion is to optimise the existing underground operation and increase its production capacity to 200,000 tonnes of copper, 4500 tonnes of uranium and 120,000 ounces of gold. This is an open pit.

Northern Territory

At the Ranger mines (Northern Territory), on Nov. 17 Energy Resources of Australia, which is 68.4 per cent-owned by Rio Tinto, announced that it expects to find 30,000 to 40,000 t U3O8 in the Ranger 3 Deeps area east to the current Ranger 3 operating pit. ERA has performed extensive exploration in the area over the last two years.

In October the company signed an agreement to supply uranium oxide to an electric utility in China. They also signed "a safety accord." Here is a record of how safe it is:

Almost 15,000 litres of acid uranium solution leaked in a 2002 incident, and since then a further nine leaks ranging from 50 litres to more than 6,000 have been reported on the South Australian Government's Primary Industries website. Spills of 1000+ litres:

* Apr. 22, 2006: spill of 14,400 litres of solution containing approx. 0.5% uranium
* Oct. 31, 2005: spill of 23,700 litres of mining solution, containing approx. 0.06% uranium
* Aug. 8, 2005: spill of 13,500 litres of extraction fluid containing approx. 0.01% uranium
* Mar. 7, 2005: spill of 50,000 - 60,000 litres of injection fluid
* Dec. 8, 2004: spill of approx. 2,300 litres of mining solution, containing 0.028% uranium
* June 13, 2002: spill of 1,750 litres of brine solution
* June 7, 2002: spill of 1,500 litres of injection fluid in the well field
* May 5, 2002: spill of 14,900 litres of water containing 0.0018% uranium (Australian May 7, 2002)
* May 1, 2002: spill of almost 7,000 litres of brine solution containing some uranium (ABC May 2, 2002)
* January 11, 2002: spill of 60,000 liters of groundwater containing acid and uranium, after pipe rupture (ABC, The Age, Jan. 12, 2002)

Plans to expand a nuclear dump at Muckaty station north of Tennant Creek, are being pushed forward with no regard for the indigenous Aborigines who own the land. The new, supposedly greener, Australian government Minister Martin Ferguson has failed to deliver a Labor election promise to overturn the Howard Government's Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act, which earmarks a series of sites for nuclear waste dumps.

Senator Ludlam asked him on Tuesday at a senate hearing on the matter: "How can Martin Ferguson wash his hands of this issue and allow small Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory to cop this waste in a repeat of the worst nuclear colonialism of the past?"

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