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Friday, 11 October 1985
Page: 1087


Senator COONEY —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment. Has the Office of the Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region established or put into effect any safety standards for disposing of contaminated water into the Magella catchment area of the Kakadu National Park? Has Ranger Uranium Mines Pty Ltd established or put into effect safety standards for disposing of contaminated water into the Magella catchment area of the Kakadu National Park? If the answer to those questions is yes, are the safety standards the same, or are they different in any way and, if so, in what way?


Senator GIETZELT —Senator Cooney was kind enough to suggest that I might get some advice from the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment, who has advised me that the spill of tailings on 24 September at the Ranger uranium mine was immediately and effectively cleaned up. The Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region has advised that the spillage was small and of little environmental consequence. The radiation exposure of workers would have been very small and well below the prescribed limit. The Acting Minister for Mines and Energy in the Northern Territory, who has the supervisory responsibility, discussed the incident with the Ranger management and Ranger ceased using the pipeline until it was completely rectified. The Commonwealth Government expresses its concern at the number of breakdowns of the tailing pipeline at the mine and expects Ranger Uranium Mines Pty Ltd to immediately tighten its control on the pipeline operation. To that extent the Commonwealth will consistently keep this matter under review.