Public Outraged over WA's First Uranium Mines and Flawed EPA Appeals Process
Environmentalist and activist Kylie Fitzwater has started an important campaign seeking critical review of Western Australia's proposed uranium mines. Her petition, Say no to Western Australia fuelling the Nuclear Industry, has already gained traction and is seeking the support of other concerned citizens throughout Australia.
According to Fitzwater, the following details are relevant to the campaign:
Toro Energy and Cameco (partnered with Mitsubishi) are set to become Western Australia's first uranium mine operators. A decision made by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to approve mines at Kintyre and Wiluna are in the final stages and despite considerable public scrutiny and outcry the mines are set to forge ahead by 2015.
Australia's history of uranium mine operations in other states has recieved criticism due to numerous leaks and breaches of the safeguards and regulations imposed by the EPA that uranium companies must adhere to.
The public's increasing concern comes post Fukushima from what is now the biggest nuclear catastrophe in human history. Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima and assurances Australian uranium won't fuel more disasters or weapons are not guarenteed.
“It was confirmed to the federal parliament in October 2011 that Australian uranium directly fuelled Fukushima" said Australian Conservation Council David Sweeney.
“The Fukushima crisis started in the back of big yellow trucks in Kakadu and northern South Australia — these rocks are now the source of fallout in Japan and far beyond.”
The EPA public submissions and appeals process to stop uranium projects and fuelling potential future nuclear disasters is flawed as these companies are consistantly permitted to release incomplete Environmental Review Management Reports and impact studies. These reports also neglect to mention details of millions of tonnes of radioactive tailings management and rehabilitation of the land.
"There is not a single example of a uranium mine in Australia that has been rehabilitated to the point that radiological conditions are stable and ongoing monitoring is no longer required."
Safeguards and Regulations the EPA set out for these projects are transcripted from outdated documents that fail to reflect the true bioaccumulative nature of radioactive isotopes and their relationship on the environment, particularly waterways.
"Toro has released a scoping document for an expansion of the Wiluna uranium proposal – the proposal is now for 4 mines across two lake systems. We are most concerned that the EPA is assessing the one project as two separate projects instead of looking at the total regional impact of this scattered mine across a 100km stretch" said Anti nuclear campaigner Mia Pepper from the Conservation Council of Western Australia.
Toro concedes that the Wiluna project area is of no cultural significance to the local Indigenous peoples even though public consultation and public relations failed to highlight negative impacts of radioactivity on the environment and the health of communities.
“The lives of not only our people today are at stake but the future of our people into time immemorial. This uranium mining if it goes ahead will spell the end of us as custodians of the land. It will make toxic the land, preventing us from caring for the land, it will poison the rivers that we swim in, drink and fish from,” said Elder Mr Glen Cooke.
-These projects are water intensive and Toro admits their project at Wiluna will exhaust groundwater resources within 7 years of the intended 14 year contract.
-The Kintyre region has many endangered species and a paleodrainage river channels reliant on clean and uninterrupted waterflow as well as indigenous communitues that source these areas for bushtucker.
-Despite Toro Energy's conviction that they have a progressive rehabilitation plan in place the company is inexperienced and radioactive impacts extend beyond the 14 year contract. There is no profit in land rehabiltation.
-Cameco's past performance in Canada and Kazakhstan is nothing to be admired as there are reports of leaks and spills.
Substantive story and resources links provided by Kylie Fitzwater.
Photo credit: Photographer Rocio Martin at Fremantle Beach Western Australia.