Thursday, November 4, 2010

Aboriginal cancer doubles near uranium mine

Comment:  Modern uranium mining kills people!

Liz Minchin and Lindsay Murdoch

November 23, 2006

CANCER cases among Aborigines near Australia's biggest uranium mine appear to be almost double the normal rate, according to a study by the Federal Government's leading indigenous research body.

The study also found there had been no monitoring in the past 20 years of the Ranger mine's impact on the health of local indigenous people.

Yet since 1981 there have been more than 120 spillages and leaks of contaminated water at the mine, located in the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.

The study compared Aborigines diagnosed with cancer in the Kakadu region with the cancer rate among all Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory from 1994 to 2003.

It found the diagnosis rate was 90 per cent higher than expected in the Kakadu region, with 27 cases reported. If the diagnosis rate had been proportional to the territory's overall Aboriginal population, there would have been 14 cases.

The authors of the study said the higher cancer rate was "a cause for serious concern, and further investigation is clearly warranted".

They called for ongoing health monitoring of all indigenous communities living near current and proposed uranium mines, at $450,000 a year.

In 2003, after almost two years of hearing submissions, a Senate committee concluded that regulation of the Ranger mine was "flawed, confusing and inadequate". Three years later, the Howard Government has not responded to the committee's recommendations.

Last night the traditional owners of the land on which Ranger operates backed independent monitoring of the health effects of uranium mining. A spokesman for the Mirarr people said while the Office of the Supervising Scientist monitors the mine's environmental impacts, "scant attention has been paid to the health effects of this development".

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