One of the 60 companies currently holding uranium exploration licences in South Australia, Marathon Resources, has admitted it's investigating how 50-60 garbage bags containing what's thought to be uranium tailings were dumped in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the Flinders Ranges.
Doug and Marg Sprigg of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary reported to the January 17 Australian that they called police to the site where Marathon Resources had been drilling after they found the garbage bags buried in about a metre of soil. Arkaroola is one of the state's top tourist attractions, however the Spriggs report that already they are seeing a drop in visitor numbers because of the heavy-handed exploration currently underway.
"Ninety-five percent of people who sign our comments book are totally against the exploration of uranium in Arkaroola", Doug Sprigg told the January 19 Adelaide Advertiser.
The South Australian government is also investigating whether Marathon "incorrectly disposed of drill samples in the sanctuary", according to the January 17 ABC News Online. SA Greens MP Mark Parnell has called for Marathon to be stripped of its exploration licence if it's found to have contaminated Arkaroola. The Greens also have a bill before state parliament which would put wilderness sanctuaries off-limits to mining.
According to the ABC News article, David Noonan from the Australian Conservation Foundation says the government "must not allow Marathon to continue exploring for uranium in an area where mining should never be allowed".