Protesting BHP’s Olympic Dam – its special privileges, water guzzling, uranium to Fukushima
Mythical lizard haunts Australian uranium extractors Infoshop News, July 22 2012 Anti-nuclear protesters camping at what they describe as “the gates of hell” — that is, on the edge of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine in the desert of South Australia — decided to play a game of cricket on Tuesday, July 17, in order to publicize their message: Uranium isn’t Australian.
“It’s just not cricket,” they chanted, “and that’s why we picket.”
by Peter Rugh Waging Nonviolence “…….There’s no room for nature’s business in the uranium business. That’s why BHP is digging into the belly of Kalta, the sleeping lizard who, according to aboriginal legend, lives under the rocks at Olympic Dam. BHP is sucking yellow uranium poison out of Kalta’s belly and feeding it to nuclear reactors around the world.
It already takes about 9 million gallons of water a day to wash all that poison down the throats of global markets — water sucked out at no cost to BHP from the region’s only reliable freshwater source, the Great Artesian Basin. But the Melbourne-based multinational plans to expand its mining operations at Olympic from an area of about 1,700 square miles to a terrain roughly eight times that size. The $30 billion expansion would make Olympic Dam at Roxby Downs the world’s largest open-pit mine.
An additional 53 gallons of water a day will be used up should mining at Olympic expand. The amount of diesel required to extract and transport BHP’s uranium would cause South Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions to skyrocket by 12 percent.
Olympic currently operates under the Roxby Downs Indenture Act of 1982, which granted BHP exemptions from laws covering native sovereignty, public disclosure, environmental impact and water preservation. The Indenture Act was amended in 2011 , when BHP began scouting out more land. Critics say the law is essentially a contract between BHP and the South Australian government for the corporation to do what it likes.
Meanwhile, the effects of BHP’s mining are felt far beyond the Outback. Approximately 4,400 tons of Australian uranium per year are used to feed aging reactors in the United States, which jeopardize the civilian population centers that they surround . A major portion of the stuff comes from BHP. The company is to Australia’s uranium industry what Nirvana was to grunge; they’ve cornered the market…..
Prior to the Fukushima disaster , Japan — after the United States and the European Union — was Australia’s third best uranium customer, importing nearly 2,700 tons a year. The uranium fuel pellets that melted down three reactor cores at Fukushima on March 11 of last year were from Olympic Dam.
Dr. Jim Green, an anti-nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, accuses BHP of turning a blind eye to fraud and safety problems in Japan’s nuclear industry in the run-up to the meltdowns. Despite widespread documentation of data falsification and safety breaches, he says BHP continued to peddle its toxic product to the quake-prone nation in the run up to the Fukushima meltdowns…. http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20120722092133582