Is time up for Australia's uranium industry ?  

Posted by Big Gav in

Following the latest spill of radioactive material at ERA's Ranger uranium mine he ABC has an opinion piece wondering if it is time to decommission the industry - Is time up for Australia's uranium industry ?.

IN THE EARLY HOURS of December 7, a crack appeared in a large leach tank in the processing area of the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park. The area was evacuated, the tank completely failed, the containment system was inadequate and one million litres of highly acidic uranium slurry went sliding downhill — taking Energy Resources of Australia's credibility with it.

The spill has left traditional owners who live and rely on creeks only kilometres downstream angry and "sick with worry" and raised profound concerns about the management culture and integrity of infrastructure at the mine.

Operations at Ranger are now halted. The mine operates inside Kakadu National Park — Australia's largest park and a dual World Heritage listed region. It, and its people, deserve the highest standards of protection, but sadly Ranger is a long way short of this.

The Australian uranium industry has long been a source of trouble. Now it is increasingly in trouble. The commodity price has collapsed, projects across the country have been stalled, deferred or scrapped and the recent Kakadu spill has again raised community attention and concern.

At least the absence of a nuclear power industry in Australia means we don't have stories emerging like this one from the US - U.S. Dumped Tens of Thousands of Steel Drums Containing Atomic Waste Off Coastlines .

More than four decades after the U.S. halted a controversial ocean dumping program, the country is facing a mostly forgotten Cold War legacy in its waters: tens of thousands of steel drums of atomic waste.

From 1946 to 1970, federal records show, 55-gallon drums and other containers of nuclear waste were pitched into the Atlantic and Pacific at dozens of sites off California, Massachusetts and a handful of other states. Much of the trash came from government-related work, ranging from mildly contaminated lab coats to waste from the country’s effort to build nuclear weapons.

Federal officials have long maintained that, despite some leakage from containers, there isn’t evidence of damage to the wider ocean environment or threats to public health through contamination of seafood. But a Wall Street Journal review of decades of federal and other records found unanswered questions about a dumping program once labeled “seriously substandard” by a senior Environmental Protection Agency official…

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