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Ranger Uranium Mine asked to explain safety breach

The Northern Territory branch of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) has expressed concern that four drums used for uranium yellowcake transport have recently been found at a property in Darwin’s rural area, as reported in local media.

“We expect an immediate investigation into the radioactivity of these drums will follow and a further public and environmental health response will be taken accordingly.  We understand these drums have since been claimed by ERA and taken to the Ranger mine,” said Dr Michael Fonda, PHAA’s NT Branch Secretary.

This current case follows a serious operational breach earlier this month where a Ranger mine vehicle left a controlled and contaminated area without authorisation.

“These latest incidents – in the context of more than one hundred reported safety failures over the last 30 years – continue to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the safety regulations at Ranger.  They also come at a time when ERA is seeking approval for an expansion to uranium mining at the Ranger mine with the 3 Deeps underground project,” explained Dr Fonda.

Of further concern to the PHAA are comments made by NT Mines Minister Willem Westra van Holthe yesterday, suggesting less Federal Government scrutiny in future NT uranium mining projects.

“These safety incidents, along with the inherent dangers associated with the uranium industry, reinforce the importance of strict government regulation at a federal level.  The NT Branch of PHAA is calling for an urgent independent public inquiry into the safety operations at Ranger, including any proposed expansion of the industry in the region,” said Dr Fonda.

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AMSJ April 2022