The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) is urging Premier Mike Rann's South Australian government not to agree to a proposal from General Atomics (GA) to increase the size of the Beverly uranium mine from 16 km² to more than 100 km², warning of potential radioactive pollution.
David Noonan, ACF spokesperson, said on February 15 that the project could potentially allow hundreds of millions of litres of radioactive waste to be discharged into the Flinders Ranges' groundwater system. He said that GA discharged some 90 million litres of radioactive, chemical and acidic liquid mine waste to groundwater at Beverley in 2007.
Heathgate Resources, owned by GA, succeeded in imposing the Beverley uranium mine on the Adnyamathanha people in north-east South Australia in the late 1990s.
"This audacious proposal by GAwould allow the company to use its controversial acid leach uranium mining technique and dump the liquid radioactive waste straight into the groundwater of the Flinders Ranges", Noonan said.
Noonan said the draft "public environment report", written by GA, states that, "There are no environmental values to the Beverley aquifer" and "the only potential beneficial use for the Namba Formation water [the body of water underneath Beverly] … is for mining purposes". He said the company had also declared that "No active remediation of the Namba Formation aquifer is proposed".
ACF wants the Rann government to "reject this outrageous uranium land grab" pointing to recent precedent when it rejected a proposal from Marathon Resources to explore for uranium at the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary near Mt Gee because the company had been found burying exploration samples, drilling material and other waste.
Noonan warned that GA could do the same, and said the government should instruct the company to "clean up its act, end mine waste discharge to groundwater and rehabilitate the damage to our environment.
"General Atomics must not be allowed to use our collective groundwater as a sacrifice zone for dumping its radioactive liquid mine waste", Noonan concluded.
[The Public Environment Report consultation documentation can be seen at < http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/minerals/public_notices/beverley_miA HREF="mailto:ne_extension_proposal">