Australia’s history of Uranium Mining : worst radioactive accidents in Australia’s history.( "If we take the best measurement practices that are being used in Australia,)

ERA cautious about impact of Ranger uranium mine spill as report warns of future problems

Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) says it is still assessing the financial impact of a toxic spill at its Ranger mine in the Northern Territory.
It has been almost two weeks since operations ceased at the mine site after a 1,400 cubic metre holding tank burst, spilling radioactive slurry and acid.
Operations were suspended indefinitely by order of the Territory and federal governments after the spill.
In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange this week, ERA said the cost of the clean-up and recovery process is not expected to affect its financial results this year.
ERA says it has a sufficient stockpile of processed uranium to meet all sales commitments in the first half of next year.
But it says the full financial impact for 2014 is still being assessed and will depend on a range of factors.
These will include the need to carry out repairs when it is allowed to recommence processing operations.
Meanwhile, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says a new study shows it will be difficult to rehabilitate the Ranger uranium mine site.
Operations at Ranger, which is located near Jabiru inside the boundaries of Kakadu National Park, are expected to end in 2021 when the mining lease expires.
A new report by international scientists shows uranium particles from mine sites spread further than initially thought through surrounding areas, making rehabilitation harder.
ACF spokesman Dave Sweeney says the report has ramifications for rehabilitation at Ranger and parts of Kakadu National Park.
"The uranium effectively hitchhikes its way with other particles out of particularly organically rich or wetland-style environments," he said.
"That has very significant implications for ERA's operations in Kakadu.
"Kakadu is world heritage listed, Kakadu is Australia's largest national park.
"[It is] a very high standard that ERA is going to have to meet.
"What this new report says is that rehabilitation is going to be harder, more complex and more costly than had been imagined."
ERA responded to the ACF claims with the following statement:
"ERA is aware of the potential of wetlands to remobilise uranium.
ERA and independent research providers have compiled a comprehensive body of research looking into the safe operation and progressive rehabilitation of the Ranger mine.
As a result of this work, ERA is not solely reliant on wetland mechanisms to ensure the safe release of surface water from the mine site.
Ranger mine is independently monitored by the Commonwealth Government’s Supervising Scientist Division.
In each of its annual reports, the Supervising Scientist has confirmed that the surrounding environment has remained protected.
Research and monitoring is overseen by several regulatory committees.
One of these committees is the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee (ARRTC), which oversees the nature and extent of research being undertaken to protect and restore the environment in the Alligator Rivers Region from any effects of uranium mining.
The ARRTC considers new findings and information that comes to hand.
The ARRTC also oversees the quality of research underpinning ERA’s closure plans.
The 13 ARRTC members include seven independent scientists nominated by the Federation of Australian Scientists and Technological Societies and six representatives of key stakeholder organisations, including the Supervising Scientist Division, Northern Territory Government, ERA, Northern Land Council, Parks Australia, and a non-government environment organisation.
Further to this regulatory oversight, ERA has significantly enhanced its water management capability in recent years.
In 2012 ERA and the Mirarr, represented by the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), conducted a jointly facilitated independent expert review of the quality of surface water around the Ranger Project Area.
The Independent Surface Water Working Group consisted of representatives from ERA, GAC, the Supervising Scientist Division and the Northern Land Council.
The working group examined the impacts, monitoring and reporting of surface water flowing from the Ranger mine and in March 2013 released findings that the current surface water management and regulatory systems in place at Ranger mine are of a very high standard.
In addition, the working group identified 15 recommendations to ensure that the surface water management system continues to be best practice.
See summary via this link:
ERA is undertaking the progressive rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area in consultation with stakeholders, including Traditional Owners and government regulators.
A Closure Criteria Working Group has been established to develop criteria for the long-term closure and rehabilitation of the Ranger mine.
Members of this group include representatives from Traditional Owners, the Northern Territory Government, the Commonwealth Government and ERA.
Please refer to the following.

Is time up for Australia's uranium industry?

Dave Sweeney ABC Environment 18 Dec 2013
IN THE EARLY HOURS of December 7, a crack appeared in a large leach tank in the processing area of the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park. The area was evacuated, the tank completely failed, the containment system was inadequate and one million litres of highly acidic uranium slurry went sliding downhill — taking Energy Resources of Australia's credibility with it.

The spill has left traditional owners who live and rely on creeks only kilometres downstream angry and "sick with worry" and raised profound concerns about the management culture and integrity of infrastructure at the mine.

Operations at Ranger are now halted. The mine operates inside Kakadu National Park — Australia's largest park and a dual World Heritage listed region. It, and its people, deserve the highest standards of protection, but sadly Ranger is a long way short of this.

The Australian uranium industry has long been a source of trouble. Now it is increasingly in trouble. The commodity price has collapsed, projects across the country have been stalled, deferred or scrapped and the recent Kakadu spill has again raised community attention and concern.

Flooding in area of Proposed Uranium Mining and Milling

Comments:  Most pro uranium mining people says u mining has been "safely" and I guess everyone wants everything to be done "safely" but human error, equipment and weather weakens the theory of "safely"!  Well the following series from this blog will post the problems of uranium mining all over the world but please review the following statement  Heritage:  Indeed, decades of experience in the U.S. and other uranium-mining countries, such as Canada and Australia, provide strong evidence of safe uranium mining.[12]"     Uranium mining is safely conducted domestically in states like Colorado and Texas, and internationally in countries like Canada and Australia. (

Now let's check out what the local u mining people are saying about safe uranium mining:  "New Virginia Uranium Billboard Promotes Safety of Uranium Mining:  "If we take the best measurement practices that are being used in Australia, in Canada and in the United States and apply them right here, we're very confident that we're going to build the safest uranium mine in the world and that's something that's very important and probably our most important commitment to this community," said Wales (Patrick):  (
Full Definition of SAFE: free from harm or risk :  unhurt ,   secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss , affording safety or security from danger, risk, or difficulty obsolete of mental or moral faculties :  healthy, sound ,  not threatening danger :  harmless , unlikely to produce controversy or contradiction ,  (— safe or safe·ly adverb, safe·ness noun }

Disaster: A truck and crane are swamped by acid slurry. All personnel were evacuated before the tank burst. Photo: Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation

Read more:

Radioactive spill in Kakadu stirs rage

Tim Elliott
Published: December 9, 2013 - 3:00AM
It began as a 10-centimetre tear in a leach tank at Ranger uranium mine, in Kakadu National Park. Within an hour it turned into what some are calling one of the worst radioactive accidents in Australia's history.

''It's a massive failure,'' said Justin O'Brien, chief executive of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the local Mirarr people. ''It's hillbilly mining, and it's not good enough.''

About 12.30am on Saturday morning, mine staff noticed liquid squirting from a crack in Leach Tank 1, a large above-ground tank containing more than 1.4 million litres of highly acidic radioactive slurry. Using a crane, they attempted to cover the crack with a steel plate, before noticing a second hole.

All personnel were then evacuated, shortly after which the tank burst, spilling more than 1 million litres of mud, water, sulphuric acid and radioactive liquid. Such was the force and volume of the spill that the crane was damaged and pushed back a metre. It is understood the radioactive liquid then flowed outside the ''bunded area'', or nearby containment banks, onto grassed areas and into the mine's stormwater and drainage system.

The spill is the latest of more than 120 incidents at Ranger, which has been mining and processing uranium for more than 30 years.

In March 2004, 28 Ranger workers were found to have drunk and showered in water containing 400 times the legal limit of uranium. Later, an excavator covered in radioactive mud was taken to the town of Jabiru for cleaning, contaminating a mechanic and his children. The Howard government threatened to shut the mine after a Senate committee inquiry found a ''persistent pattern of under-performance and non-compliance''.

This year there has been the theft of a vehicle from the controlled radiological area, and the disappearance of four 44-gallon drums of a type used to store yellowcake. (They later turned up in bushland south of Darwin, having been gifted to a Ranger employee. The company claims the drums had received a radiation release certificate.)

''ERA has form with this,'' said Gavin Mudd, of the Mining Policy Institute, who also consults to the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation. ''The company has a history of delaying infrastructure maintenance in order to maximise profits.''

''It comes down to regulation,'' Mr O'Brien said. ''They are too close to the regulators, both state and federal … they have the same dry technical 'whitefellas know best' attitude. What we need is robust independent oversight. We simply cannot trust a pack of hillbillies who have been consistently found wanting in regard to safety.''

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said government officials have already been on site. ''It is unacceptable. It is something on which we have taken immediate action in terms of instructing the Supervising Scientists Office to attend, commanding there be an investigation and instructing that there be an immediate clean-up.''


Calls for Ranger uranium mine to shut after spill

8 Dec 2013 - 10:03am
The Greens have called fro the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park to shut after it released what traditional owners say is up to a million litres of acidic radioactive slurry.

The site could be closed for up to two months as mine operators seek to contain one of the biggest nuclear accidents in Australian history.

"It is hard to imagine a worse time for Environment Minister Greg Hunt to be deregulating the uranium sector and leaving it to the States and Territories," Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said in a press release.

"The writing has been on the wall at Ranger for a long time: this disaster may well be the last nail in this accident-prone mine.

It is the third security breach at the site in just over a month.

"The time for mining a problematic and polluting mineral in a World Heritage area is over," said Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney said.