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ACF questions Ranger uranium mine safety

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NT: It would be a case of good luck rather than good management, if it turns out there is no radiation contamination due to an an unauthorised vehicle leaving the Ranger uranium site in Kakadu, an environment group says.

At about midnight on Sunday, a controlled vehicle used in the most contaminated parts of the Rio Tinto-owned Ranger mine left the site without permission.

It was spotted by security guards who retrieved it, and an initial inspection has found it to be free of contamination, says mine operator Energy Resources of Australia (ERA).

But the breach was not revealed until Thursday to the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), which represents the Mirarr traditional owners of the Ranger project area and much of the surrounding park.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) wrote on Friday to the NT Department of Mines and Energy calling for an urgent review of ERA’s “failure to ensure compliance with operational requirements”.

“On a process level, the system didn’t work,” ACF spokesman Dave Sweeney told AAP.

“If it turns out, and I hope it does, that there hasn’t been any radiological exposure, then that’s just by good luck and not by good management.”

He says there has been over 200 incidents, breaches and leaks at the site.

“There’s a consistent pattern of underperformance, and this is significant because it could have been a major radiation issue,” he said.

An ERA spokesman told AAP the breach was a police matter and would not comment further.

ERA has submitted plans to mine a 34,000 tonne underground deposit at the site, called Ranger 3 Deeps, but has given an undertaking to the traditional landowners not to mine without their approval, which may now be in question.

“This failure… raises serious questions as to the viability of Ranger’s R3D proposal and will certainly be factored into our thinking,” said GAC CEO Justin O’Brien.

“In our view, this incident constitutes a breach of the company’s mining authorisation (and) we are calling on the NT and federal governments to commence an immediate investigation into how it occurred and the security implications it raises.”

AAP

This entry was posted in News, NT

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