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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Spill of contaminated material at Ranger uranium mine; locals fear for Kakadu National Park


Updated Sun 8 Dec 2013, 1:03am AEDT

The operators of the Ranger mine in the Northern Territory say a spill of uranium and acid has been contained, and there will be no impact to the environment.
A huge tank in the processing area of the mine failed about 1:00am (ACST) on Saturday.
The tank containing radioactive material burst open and its contents flowed outside the banks meant to keep any leaks contained.
As much as 1,000 cubic metres of slurry was spilled at the mine site near Jabiru.
Workers had discovered a hole in the side of the tank and were evacuated before the tank burst and the slurry escaped.
The mine's operator, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), says no-one was injured and no uranium leaked off the site into the surrounding Kakadu National Park.
But traditional owner groups say they are "sick with worry" about the potential environment impact.
It's a catastrophic failure on the part of not only the operator but also the government regulators in the Northern Territory and Canberra.
Justin O'Brien, Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation chief executive
Photos of the site taken by the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation and supplied to the ABC suggest material did spill onto grassy ground at the site. 
ERA spokesman Tim Eckersley says there is no environmental emergency.
"They evacuated the area and at about 1:00am the tank basically split at the bottom and the processing slurry, which is a mixture of mud and water, has spilled out the bottom of the tank.
"That's the beginning of our processing operations, so it's a mixture of ground-up uranium ore and acid."
He said the material mostly spilled onto compacted earth, tarmac and drains.
"It's very impervious material so there's very little chance of it leaking into the soil there," Mr Eckersley added.
The company said earlier in a statement the slurry moved outside the containment area, but was captured and contained on-site.
"As the material was contained within the processing area there is no impact on the environment surrounding the Ranger project area," the statement said.
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This is only ONE day after calls to start thinking of a Nuclear plant in the top end..... any one still say Fukushima?

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