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Rum Jungle’s toxic legacy: a multi-million dollar warning

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 31 May 2011


Seven million dollars of taxpayers' money will be spent on finding a way to clean up Rum Jungle uranium mine 40 years after its closure, the Australian Greens revealed in Senate Estimates hearings today.


Senator Scott Ludlam said the $7million would be spent over four years just to determine how to deal with the defunct uranium mine's toxic legacy.


"The government can't tell us yet what the final cost will be. The multi-million dollar publicly-funded assessment is just the beginning. Forty years after this mine closed, it continues to be an environmental graveyard for the Northern Territory. How many decades and how many millions of dollars will it take to clean up Ranger mine, or Olympic Dam?"


Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park has been plagued by a series of debacles. There have been more than 150 leaks, spills and license breaches at the mine since it opened in 1981. In 2009 a government-appointed scientist confirmed Ranger was leaking 100,000 litres of contaminated water into the ground on a daily basis. At present it is closed due to heavy rainfall and the danger of more leaks.


"The Northern Territory knows the nuclear industry all too well. That is why the Territory Government and local people oppose the planned Muckaty nuclear waste dump," said Senator Ludlam.


The proposed law that would allow the building of Muckaty waste dump, the National Radioactive Management Bill, concentrates a huge amount of power in the hands of resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson - who has championed the dump.


"In correspondence this month Minister Ferguson referred to himself as the ‘minister responsible for nuclear policy'. Today I was assured there's been no portfolio change or new title invented, so it appears Minister Ferguson - like Napoleon - has crowned himself," said Senator Ludlam.


"In February WikiLeaks revealed Minister Ferguson has pushed for sales of uranium to India, despite that country refusing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Is this the person the Government has in charge of nuclear policy? We need a Government that recognises that the nuclear industry - from uranium mining through to waste disposal - is a costly toxic mess for the Northern Territory and for Australia."




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