Radioactive water contaminates Kakadu

The scientist appointed by the federal government to monitor the environmental impact of the Northern Territory's Ranger uranium mine, Alan Hughes, confirmed at a March 12 Senate hearing that contaminated water was leaking into rock fissures beneath Kakadu National Park.

Up to 100,000 litres of contaminated water from the mine tailings dam is escaping every day, said the March 13 Age. "There have been more than 150 leaks, spills and licence breaches at the Ranger uranium mine since it opened in 1981", the Age reported.

The mine owner, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), plans to expand mining at the site. The mine produces 11% of the world's uranium.

Dave Sweeney, the Australian Conservation Foundation's anti-nuclear campaigner, has called on the government to set up an independent review of the mine's impact on the environment and demand full disclosure of the tailings leak from ERA.

"Federal Labor's policy clearly states the ALP will ensure stringent environmental controls on uranium mines, based on world's best practice standards," Sweeny said on March 13. "The Ranger mine comprehensively fails this test and federal action is needed now."