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Kakadu leak demands full and open inquiry.



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Kakadu Leak Demands Full And Open Inquiry Nick Bolkus - Shadow Minister For Environment

Media Statement - 24 May 2000

As more and more questions are being asked about the recent leak of contaminated waters at the Ranger uranium mine, and the subsequent cover up by ERA, the Federal opposition is calling on the Government for a full and open public inquiry into the leak.

"The government must institute an independent public inquiry into the leak" said Senator Bolkus, Shadow Minister for Environment. "This incident requires a full and open inquiry - independent of both the Government and industry - not an internal navel-gazing exercise."

"What kind of protective regime do we have in place when a leak can go undetected for several months, and unreported for weeks if not months? asked Senator Bolkus. "We need to ensure that these kinds of incidents do not re-occur."

Of particular concern are monitoring readings taken as early as December 1999 showing elevated levels of manganese, with readings of up to 6,000 parts per billion.

"This leak, containing radioactive material and manganese, flowed out of company property into Kakadu National Park wetlands and waterways. All at the time when the Government was reporting to the international community that it had everything under control."

More and more questions are being asked about the circumstances and magnitude of the leak and the failure of ERA to report it. As a matter of urgency, a full and open public inquiry should investigate the following:

The volume of the leak, the rate of discharge and the duration of flow ● Reports of other leaks, and their magnitude and extent ● The impact on surrounding ecosystems ● The impact on the health of the Mudginberri people ●

Whether ERA met its legal obligations to the Australian Stock Exchange, the Authority under which it operates and to the Mirrar people ●

The adequacy of the Northern Territory Government's supervision of the operations ● The adequacy of reporting requirements ● What was know by the Office of the Supervising Scientist ● Whether information was concealed by the Office of the Supervising Scientist in Senate Estimates

hearings earlier this week. ●

"I am concerned that unless this matter is fully resolved, there is no guarantee that this kind of incident will not happen again." said Senator Bolkus.