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No harm done by Ranger slurry spill: Report

21 July 2014

The Ranger uranium mine near Jabiru, NT. The Ranger uranium mine near Jabiru, NT.

AN interim environmental report has found that a slurry spill at the Ranger Mine in December 2013 has resulted in no abnormal changes in the air, soil and water around the site.

In a statement, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment Senator Simon Birmingham said the report meant the environment and people of the Alligator Rivers Region, including Kakadu National Park, remained protected from the potential effects of the Ranger uranium mine. “Indigenous communities who live in Kakadu National Park can continue to fish in these rivers and creeks and drink the water without fear of contamination.”

The report stated that the radiation dose to workers involved in the cleanup activities was low and of no consequence to human health. However the report notes “a small volume of contaminants may have entered the groundwater in the offsite environment”. 

The spill of sulphuric acid and uranium ore slurry occurred in the early hours of December 7 2013 after a leach tank ruptured due to wear in the rubber lining of the tank, forcing the shutdown of the entire site.

Traditional owners say the findings of the interim report are not conclusive. Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Justin O’Brien told ABC News a further assessment is needed.

“We have some concerns about the lateness of the monitoring that informs this report. There was a delay of some six weeks before data was obtained that informs this report. That needs to be assessed properly,” Mr O’Brien said.

The full report from the Supervising Scientist will be completed and released in August.