Uranium mining a dead-end road for Queensland

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The Queensland Government's decision to pursue uranium mining breaks a promise by Premier Newman and will yield "all risks and no rewards", the Australian Greens warned today as a report on establishing the industry in the state was released.

Australian Greens nuclear policy spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said "uranium mining makes no economic sense and no environmental sense for Queensland".

"It is extraordinary that Queensland's Mines Minister Andrew Cripps today claimed uranium exports had the potential to earn Queensland 'billions of dollars' when at present Australian uranium exports make less than two billion a year. The uranium price has been in free fall since 2007, and with governments around the world shutting down nuclear power stations; 150 nuclear power stations in Europe alone are scheduled for closure with no plans to replace them.

Australian Greens Great Barrier Reef spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters said the Queensland Government was threatening to destroy the reef with its uranium proposal.

"Minister Cripps has not ruled out the shipping of this radioactive cargo through the Great Barrier Reef. This is a radioactive accident waiting to happen, which would have disastrous consequences for our marine life, coral reefs and the multibillion dollar tourism industry that relies on the reef.

"Campbell Newman needs to decide whether he wants a World Heritage icon on Queensland's doorstep or a highway for toxic uranium," Senator Waters said.

Senator Ludlam said the effects of uranium mining were wide reaching.

"Uranium mining is bad for mine workers; bad for residents near mines and on uranium transport routes; bad for farmers; bad for groundwater, for soil and local species - and it provides fuel for a dangerous industry that is on the way out. Queensland deserves better."

"Thirty years after the closure of the Mary Kathleen uranium mine west of Cloncurry, there is significant physical and chemical mobility of uranium and related elements, including transfer into vegetation. The rate of seepage from the tailings dump is much faster than predicted and radioisotopes are being mobilised in surface water seepage," Senator Ludlam said.