MAC: Mines and Communities

Ranger Danger - Troubled Kakadu Uranium Mine in Court Again

Published by MAC on 2005-07-11

Ranger Danger - Troubled Kakadu Uranium Mine in Court Again

For Immediate Release - Australian Conservation Foundation

Monday 11 July, 2005

The operators of the controversial Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu will again face court after being charged today by the Northern Territory mine regulator over a serious accident last year.

Energy Resources of Australia, majority owned by the British based mining giant Rio Tinto, will be prosecuted under a section of the NT Mining Management Act that deals with actions or failures to act that cause serious injury or death and carries a maximum penalty of $A 275 000.

In July 2004 a contract fitter suffered extensive injuries including a fractured skull, leg and forearm after he was crushed while repairing milling equipment at the troubled site.

In May this year ERA pleaded guilty and was fined $150,000 over three other breaches of the Mining Management Act following the exposure of workers and members of the public to contaminated water and vehicles in separate safety breaches last year. At this time some workers showered in and drank water contaminated with uranium levels more than 400 times the Australian safety standard.

"There are serious and unresolved safety and management problems at Ranger and this experience further vindicates the NT government's recent election commitment to no more uranium mines in the Territory," said ACF nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney.

"The Federal government must now get serious about protecting the community and environment of Kakadu. In 2003 a Senate Inquiry warned about the accidents we are seeing at this aging, leaking and under-performing mine and its findings should now be urgently implemented."

A date has not yet been set for hearing ERA's latest prosecution.

Further information and comment:

Dave Sweeney: 0408 317 812 or (03) 9345 1130

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