Why Don’t Australia and Europe Test Food for Radiation Contamination from Fukushima and Chernobyl? Living Safe, Nicole Moir, 8 Nov 14, I am bringing this important issue to the forefront over and over again as I want, as do many others, for the Australian and European government to take steps to protect us from radiation in food and raw ingredients. I have spent the last few months researching into food and raw ingredients, especially certified organic products, grown and harvested from regions affected by radiation by the two huge and tragic accidents of both Chernobyl and Fukushima. Unbelievably it seems the official organic certification bodies in both Australia and Europe don’t test food and raw ingredients for radiation, but trustingly and surprisingly,
rely on the government bodies to advise them in this area and in Australia ARPANSA the government body doesn’t feel there is enough of a risk to warrant it! Radiation contamination takes hundreds of years to dissipate and not just a few years, as is the case with Fukushima and a couple decades as is the case with Chernobyl…..
The ACO pointed me in the direction of ARPANSA- Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, see my prior correspondence with them here.
a reply letter from the European Commission Unit F4.2. ………….was even more worrying, as they admit they don’t conduct regular testing, yet they admit that in the last few years they were notified of higher than acceptable levels of radiation is some wild foods grown in Italy and the Ukraine/Belarus. I knew this as I had seen articles in newspapers of radiation in certified organic blueberry jam made in Italy from imported ingredients and also high radiation in wild mushrooms imported into Switzerland.……….
Correspondence with ARPANSA and European Commission are included in this article
Northern Territory and national environment groups have pledged to fight a proposal for a new underground uranium mine within the boundaries of Kakadu National Park, arguing the proponent Energy Resources of Australia has failed to supply key details that would allow NT and federal environment ministers to make an informed assessment of the project’s economic risks.
Energy Resources of Australia, majority owned by Rio Tinto, has submitted a Draft Environment Impact Assessment prior to finalising and releasing a pre-feasibility study that contains important project details, including economic data directly relevant to the company’s unproven capacity to rehabilitate the troubled mine site.
“ERA’s financial struggles are well known to investors who have fled the depressed uranium sector in droves since Fukushima,” said Lauren Mellor of the Environment Centre NT.
“The company has lost more than $400 million since the disaster, which was directly fuelled by Australian uranium, struck in 2011.
“With rehabilitation liabilities of more than $700 million – worth more than ERA’s market value – the company has warned the ASX it may not be able to fully fund future rehabilitation. Federal and NT assessors should demand all project data be made available for public scrutiny during the assessment process.”
ERA is required to end mining and mineral processing at the Ranger mine in January 2021 and the groups are concerned that the planned new underground operation, known as Ranger 3 Deeps, would complicate and delay the company’s mandated clean up and rehabilitation period.
“Ranger has been operating inside Kakadu for more than three decades and has experienced hundreds of leaks, spills and license breaches in that time, including a major radioactive spill last year that shut the plant for six months,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney.
“The mine is ageing, failing and is overdue for retirement. But instead of a planned and costed clean up and exit plan, ERA is pushing ahead with incomplete plans for a new underground mine, playing radioactive roulette at Ranger.”
“We will actively contest any new uranium mine in Kakadu because this company has a track record of broken pipes and broken promises.
“Federal and NT Environment Ministers responsible for assessment of the Ranger 3 Deeps project should require ERA to come clean about its plans and its projections and ensure all the missing project data is provided for public scrutiny.”
Editors’ Note: Dr Gavin Mudd, Senior Environmental Engineer at Monash University and a leading expert in uranium mining , legacy mines and groundwater impacts will address a public forum at 6pm on Wednesday 5 Nov at the Groove Café in Nightcliff to discuss the complex rehabilitation challenges facing ERA at the Ranger site. Dr Mudd is also available for comment and background briefings.
CONTACT: Dr Gavin Mudd, 0419 117 494. Lauren Mellor, ECNT, 0413 534 125 or Dave Sweeney, ACF, 0408 317 812
$200m sought to rehabilitate former Rum Jungle uranium mine, ABC News 31 Oct 14 By Joanna Crothers The Department of Mines and Energy is seeking $200 million from the Federal Government to rehabilitate the former Rum Jungle mine site.
Attempts to rehabilitate the site, Australia’s first uranium mine, stem back to the 1970s.
Scientists from the Department of Mines and Energy (DoE) have been drilling at the site over the past three weeks and analysing rock samples.It is estimated that five million cubic metres of rock will need to be relocated or re-buried in two of the mine’s deepest pits.
The process is likely to take three years and cost millions, scientists say…….Uranium and copper were mined at the site from the 1950s until the site closed in 1971. Waste rock at the site was buried but it started releasing acid and metals into the nearby East Finniss River. Ms Laurencont said the rocks were larger and more oxidised than was thought.
Last year the Federal Government allocated $14 million for developing a rehabilitation plan, in addition to $8 million already spent on a preliminary plan.
Acidic drainage has plagued the site since it closed and the Finniss River is a significant fishing sport for Indigenous people and Territory anglers.
The recreational reserve now known as the Rum Jungle South Recreation Reserve was shut from 2010 until 2012 by the Northern Territory Government where some low-level radiation was detected.
The Department will present its plan of rehabilitation to the Treasury in March next year.Other plans to rehabilitate include cleaning up other areas of the site and reintroducing vegetation onto the site. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-31/mines-department-seeking-200m-to-fix-former-rum-jungle-mine/5858764
It was recently revealed that the French nuclear corporation Areva has been exploring for uranium in the Carpentaria basin in south west Cape York and the north east of the Gulf country for uranium deposits. Areva state that Australia possesses one of the largest uranium reserves in the world and that tens of thousands of hectares are of exploration interest.
Areva already have a track record in Australia. They are the same company that Kakadu Traditional Owner Jeffrey Lee refused to allow to mine on his ancestral lands. As the senior Traditional Owner of the Djok clan and senior custodian of Koongarra where uranium was found, Lee decided to never allow mining in the culturally and ecologically sensitive area.
Despite this opposition, Jeffrey Lee endured years of pressure to allow mining in the former Koongarra Project Area, long excluded from the surrounding Kakadu National Park and World Heritage area.
Turning his back on personal wealth, Lee chose to prioritise country and culture over cash stating; “I could have been a rich man. Billions of dollars… You can offer me anything but my land is cultural land.”
Only last year did the threat of uranium mining on Jeffrey’s country get laid to rest with the area finally and formally added to Kakadu. With the right to veto mining afforded to Traditional Owners in the Northern Territory under the Land Rights (NT) Act 1976, Mr Lee had the legal power to say no. Fortunately for all Australian’s – now and in the future – he exercised this power.
Unfortunately, this opportunity is not afforded to Traditional Owners under Queensland’s Aboriginal Land Act 1992. On Cape York Peninsula Areva has largely flown under the radar, and have been exploring in the Mitchell, Coleman and Gilbert river basins and areas further south and south west. …….
Clearly, the health of the Mitchell River and its tributaries affects the health of the people who rely on its waters for food, culture and lifestyle. As a healthy functioning ecosystem, the Mitchell River floodplain region is part of the real northern food bowl.
When Campbell Newman went to the 2012 state election with a ‘crystal clear’ commitment not to overturn the ban on uranium mining, Areva were already were warming up their drill rigs. Uranium mining is a dirty game and we’ve already seen severe contamination from leaks at Rio Tinto’s Ranger mine in the Northern Territory. Given the amount of wet season flooding on the Mitchell River, there is no doubt of direct risk to the Cape’s rivers from any future uranium operation.
What’s more, it seems as though the public’s right to contest and object to mining proposals is being eroded. Regardless of whether you live next door, downstream or elsewhere, your rights to contest mining proposals was diminished with the passing of the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014 in Queensland’s parliament recently. When enacted this heavy handed law will take away our rights to contest around 90% of mining projects.
Our healthy rivers and waterways are more than just unallocated commodities for the resource sector to consume and then dispose of. Our quality of life, through culture and lifestyle, depend on the life-giving water of the regions spectacular and precious river systems.
In the Mitchel River basin we are already seeing in-stream mining, a massive increase in exploration and increased sediment loads in aquatic environments. Introducing the risk of uranium contamination into the Mitchell and other rivers would be a disaster for people and country. It makes no sense to threaten the resource that sustains life with the ill-conceived and fast-tracked digging of a mineral that threatens life. http://www.acfonline.org.au/news-media/acf-opinion/uranium-new-threat-cape-york%E2%80%99s-rivers
“The agreement poses a very real risk to the environment,” says Professor Jane Kelsey, an expert on globalisation and economic regulation from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “If Australia signs an agreement with these mechanisms in place it will make it harder for the government to put new regulations in place.”
That includes any subsidies we might put on renewable energy, or protection we might put in place to save an endangered species.”
Kelsey. “The Abbott government is basically be binding the hands of all future governments on environmental issues.”
So what is the likelihood of Australia ending up signing the agreement as it stands? Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated he’s extremely supportive of signing the deal, and Andrew Robb, has stated that negotiations are in the final stages and the treaty is“ready to be sealed”.
TPP: the free-trade threat to Australia’s environment, ABC 24 Oct 14 FIONA MACDONALD Australia is preparing to sign an agreement that would give international corporations the power to go over the government’s head on environmental issues. Here’s what you need to know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
STRETCHING WIDE, blue and deep, the St Lawrence River in Canada drains America’s Great Lakes to the sea. Along its shores, painted weatherboard cottages cradled by vibrant autumnal trees take in the view of the vast body of water.
This peaceful scene belies the legal battle for what lies underground along this river basin. The Canadian state of Quebec is being sued for CAD$250 million of taxpayers’ money after putting a pause on fracking.
To be clear, Quebec hasn’t decided to ban fracking, it’s simply asked for time to conduct environmental studies to find out whether the process is safe — but mining company Lone Pine Resources has taken the government to an international court, claiming it’s lost millions of dollars in profits as a result of the snap decision.
And if previous trials are anything to go by, there’s a good chance Lone Pine will win, even if it turns out fracking is dangerous to the environment and public health.
It sounds crazy, but it’s legal. And under an agreement Australia is set to sign within 12 months, companies operating in Australia will be able to sue the Government if it makes decisions that hurt their profits — for example, putting in new policies to protect the environment. Continue reading
Graziers on alert as uranium exploration looms ABC News, By Jacqueline Breen 19 Oct 14 Graziers are watching closely as the state government prepares to grant uranium exploration licenses in the state’s far west.
Last month the government overturned the ban on uranium exploration and invited six companies to apply to explore for deposits near Broken Hill, Cobar and Dubbo.
The state’s Resources and Energy Division has since held a stakeholder meeting in Broken Hill, attended by the local council, New South Wales Farmers and the West Darling Pastoralists’ Association.
Association president Chris Wilhelm says landholders will be the first affected when exploration begins and he wants their rights protected……( Map below shows areas in New South Wales where uranium deposts exist, could be explored for))
The ban on uranium mining in New South Wales remains in place. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-20/graziers-watch-closely-as-uranium-exploration-looms/5825950
A backward move for Australia’s environment: Federal govt abandons regulation to South Australia’s control
As part of its broadly criticised ‘One Stop Shop’ agenda the Federal Government has announced that its Assessment Bilateral Agreement with South Australia has been finalised and signed by both parties. The Bilateral Agreement will come into force 30 days after execution, on or about 24 October.
The Agreement allows the Commonwealth to now rely on South Australian environmental impact assessment processes in assessing ‘matters of national environmental significance’ defined under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This change has been widely criticised. There is significant doubt as to whether existing State regulations can actually be brought up to meet the standards required under the EPBC Act. There is also concern about whether the cash-strapped states are likely to make effective champions of our environmental assets when at the same time they are under increasing pressure to jettison environmental safeguards in order to pump through development and replenish state coffers.
Residents to declare Dartmoor and Drumborg in Victoria ‘gas field free’ http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/national/residents-to-declare-dartmoor-and-drumborg-in-victoria-gas-field-free/story-fnkfnspy-1227093367623 CIMARA DOUTRÉ WEEKLY TIMES NOW OCTOBER 17, 2014
TWO Western Victorian communities will today declare themselves ‘gas field free’.
A number of minor and micro party politicians will attend the events at Dartmoor and Drumborg.
It takes the number of Victorian communities to have declared themselves as gas field free to 31.
Dartmoor farmer Michael Greenham said the response to invitations was heartening.
“Unfortunately several of the major party representatives for Lowan, South Coast and Western Victoria are not able to attend, but some minor party and independent candidates will be there,” Mr Greenham said.
“In talking with them, everyone is on the same side of the see-saw on this issue of shale gas fracking — it’s just a matter of how far along the seat they sit.
“Our communities just want to make sure prospective parliamentarians keep moving down our ‘total ban’ end, to ensuring there is no budging when the heavyweights of the unconventional gas mining companies start jumping up and down on the other end. “
The Victorian Government has a moratorium on all onshore gas exploration and fracking in place until July next year.
This week, Energy Minister Russell Northe unveiled a new website to allow landholders to search for mining licenses that cover their property.
Another imagined future is to treat the Outback as a land ripe for unfettered development. It would divide the landscape into exploited and conserved (or neglected) sectors, and would seek to transform the areas by creating an economy highly reliant on intensive agriculture and mining.
It would seek to overcome logistical and environmental constraints of such industrialisation through government subsidies. This may create brief economic growth in a few districts. However, in the long term this approach would cause irredeemable loss to those values that make the Outback so distinctive and important.
There is a different future that instead recognises the extraordinary existing inherent value in the Outback, and supports development that adapts to and works within the environmental and other constraints of remote and dry lands
A Modern Outback — nature, people and the future of remote Australia BARRY TRAILL THE AUSTRALIAN OCTOBER 11, 2014 “…… The Outback stands out as one of the great natural places globally, a place where nature remains in abundance; a landscape where the bush still stands, where the rivers still flow and where wildlife still moves as it always has to find food and shelter in a tough environment……..
There are especially magical, mysterious, spectacular places in the Outback — Kakadu, Uluru, the Kimberley — icons that draw visitors from the nation and beyond.
But these are parts of a whole, places embedded within a vast natural landscape, and dependent on the greater landscape for their ecological health. It’s essential that we think about the Outback as an entire and modern whole because its varied landscapes now face similar problems…….
The Outback is at a crossroads economically and environmentally. Social and economic development is highly dependent on maintaining the natural health of the Outback. The condition of many landscapes and wildlife species in the Outback is dependent on active human management.
It is possible, and Australia now faces the challenge and the opportunity, to create a modern Outback that depends on nature, which in turn supports people, jobs and regional economies…….. Continue reading
Darwin and Adelaide likely export hubs for Queensland uranium (includes audios) ABC Rural By Marty McCarthy 14 Aug 14 “……….Mr Sweeney also says he’s not convinced by the Queensland Government’s assertions that Queensland ports won’t export uranium in the near future, negating the need for transfer to Darwin or Adelaide. “The Queensland Government has had a number of direct opportunities to rule [exporting from Queensland] out and it hasn’t,” he said.
“They’ve kept the door open for future uranium exports from a Queensland Port, and particularly from the Port of Townsville.”
“We’ve seen in both the Federal Government’s energy white paper, and in clear statements by the Australian Uranium Association, an industry body, a desire to develop an east coast port for uranium exports,” he said.
Mr Sweeney suspects Townsville is the most likely city to become a future Queensland-based export hub for uranium, despite Mr Cripps’ saying it is unlikely. “The Ben Lomond [uranium] project is 50 kilometres up the road from Townsville, now you join those dots and you get a picture of ships through the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.
Canadian miner Mega Uranium, although interested in the Ben Lomond site, it is yet to announce plans to re-open it.
However, a French-owned mining company is spending millions of dollars on uranium exploration near remote towns in north-west Queensland, in a race to be the state’s first uranium miner since the ban 32 years ago.
AREVA Resources has drilled more than 90 holes since late 2012, and managing director Joe Potter says the company plans to continue searching.
“The change in policy and the certainty around the ability to mine uranium in Queensland has given us the confidence to press on with our exploration and see if we can become the first uranium miner,” he said.
The company plans to continue searching around Cloncurry, west of Mt Isa, later this year……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-13/queensland-looks-to-adelaide-anddarwin-to-export-uranium/5666458
Proposed WA uranium mine will poison groundwater opponents say http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/08/12/proposed-wa-uranium-mine-will-poison-groundwater-opponents-say Environmental groups say they fear a proposed WA uranium mine will poison groundwater and affect food supplies. By Ryan Emery 12 AUG 2014 LEADING ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS ARE CLAIMING THAT A PROPOSED URANIUM MINE WILL POISON GROUNDWATER AND AFFECT FOOD SOURCES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S EASTERN PILBARA REGION.
The Kintyre project, 260km northeast of Newman, will be WA’s second most advanced uranium mine if it gets final environmental approval from the state’s Environment Minister Albert Jacob.
Uranium mining had been banned in the state until the then Liberal-National government was elected in 2008.
The state’s Environmental Protection Authority has recommended that the project, backed by Canadian uranium miner Cameco, be given conditional environmental approval.
However, opponents of the mine say the assessment was flawed.Mia Pepper from the Conservation Council of Western Australia says a hydrology report failed to consider the traditional owners’ knowledge of rainfall patterns and water flow at the proposed site.
She says they claim water flows from the site into the nearby Karlamilyi National Park, not into the Great Sandy Desert.
“The difference between those two scenarios are really significant when you’re talking about a uranium mine and the pathways for radioactive mine waste to leak into that groundwater and just how far that contamination could spread and what areas it could impact on,” she said.
“And we’re talking about a national park, and we’re talking about communities so the impacts are really significant.”
Concerns have also beeing raised over radioactive waste management, and the impactof the mine on rare and threatened species.
The mine’s proponent Cameco has previously said it is confident it can mine in the area “in a way which maintains the ecological functions and environmental values in the area.”
A decision on ministerial environmental approval is expected in the coming months.
Cripps claims preference to export uranium from SA or NT, Australian Mining 1 August, 2014 Ben Hagemann With Queensland drumming up support for getting back into the uranium business, mines minster Andrew Cripps has not ruled out the prospect of exporting the radioactive resource from Queensland ports.
A statement from Queensland government yesterday said the Government had a “preference” for uranium to be exported from existing licensed ports.
Australia has only two licensed ports for the export of uranium, being Port Adelaide in South Australia (receiving ore from Olympic Dam), and Darwin in the Northern Territory (shipping ore from Ranger). Cripps said that the Queensland government would be willing to consider licensing a port within the state for shipping uranium.
Well if an application comes forward to assess a port for the export of uranium oxide, I mean, we’ll take it and we’ll assess it,” he said………
The Queensland government has invited tenders to reopen the Mary Kathleen mine, which has been closed since 1982.
Mary Kathleen is near Mt Isa in Northern Queensland, and bears rare earth elements such as lanthanum, cerium, praesodymium, neodymium, as well as uranium, all of which are present in tailings waiting to be processed.
Presently there are 7 million tonnes of tailings left at the Mary Kathleen mine, with an estimated 3 per cent rare earth purity……..http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/cripps-claims-preference-to-export-uranium-from-sa
The Great Barrier Reef and the coal mine that could kill it, Guardian, Tim Flannery, 2 Aug 14 These are dark days for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. On 29 July, the last major regulatory hurdle facing the development of Australia’s largest coal mine was removed by Greg Hunt, minister for the environment. The Carmichael coal mine, owned by India’s Adani Group, will cover 200 sq km and produce 60m tonnes of coal a year – enough to supply electricity for 100 million people. Located in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, 400km inland from the reef, it will require a major rail line, which is yet to receive final approval, to transport the coal, which must then be loaded on to ships at the ports of Hay Point and Abbot Point, near Gladstone on the Queensland coast, adjacent to the southern section of the reef. Both ports require dredging and expansion to manage the increased volume of shipping. Once aboard, the coal must be shipped safely through the coral labyrinth that is the Great Barrier Reef, and on to India, where it will be burned in great coal-fired power plants.
The proposed development will affect the reef at just about every stage. Indeed, so vast is the project’s reach that it is best thought of not as an Australian, or even an Australian-Indian project, but one of global impact and significance………..
Today, the Carmichael mine development is occurring adjacent to what is now a very sick Great Barrier Reef. A 2012 study established that around half of the coral composing the reef is already dead – killed by pesticide runoff, muddy sediment from land clearing, predatory starfish, coral bleaching and various other impacts. The coal mine development will add significant new pressures. First will come the dredging for the new ports. The 5m or more tonnes of mud, along with whatever toxins they contain, will be dug up, transported and dumped into the middle of the reef area. Some studies suggest that the suffocating sediment will not drift far enough to harm the majority of the reef. But who can say what impact tides, currents or cyclones, which are frequent in the area, will have on the muddy mass?
The raw coal itself will be another pollutant. Coal dust and coal fragments already find their way from stockpiles, conveyor belts and loaders into the waters of the reef. Indeed, existing coal loaders have already dumped enough coal for it to have spread along the length and breadth of the reef. In areas near the loaders, enough has accumulated to have a toxic effect on the corals that grow there.
There is also the ever-present possibility of a coal ship running aground on the reef……….
If the Carmichael coal mine is a global story, and the Great Barrier Reef a global asset, then the issue should not be left to Australia alone to decide. The citizens of the world deserve a say on whether their children should have the opportunity to see the wonder that is the reef. Opportunities to do this abound. Petitioning national governments to put climate change on the agenda of the G20 summit, to be held in Australia in November this year, is one. Pushing governments to play a constructive role at the 2015 climate negotiations in Paris is another, as is letting the Australian government know directly that everybody has a stake in the reef, and that it needs to act to secure its future. The Great Barrier Reef does not have to die in a greenhouse disaster like the one that devastated the world’s oceans 55 million years ago. But if we don’t act decisively, and soon, to stem our greenhouse gas emissions, it will. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/aug/01/-sp-great-barrier-reef-and-coal-mine-could-kill-it
Increased scrutiny needed as EPA radioactive rubber stamp fails the nuclear test National and state environment groups have called for a dedicated public inquiry into plans for increased uranium mining in WA following an EPA recommendation to conditionally approve the proposed Kintyre mine next to Kalamilyi National Park in the Pilbara.
“The proposal to mine uranium five hundred metres from a creek system that is part of a network of significant waterways in a national park is reckless and should not be approved,” said CCWA campaigner Mia Pepper.
“This polluting plan would put great pressure on one of WA’s special places – our largest national park – and would impact on scarce water resources and a number of significant and vulnerable species including the bilby, marsupial mole and rock wallaby.
The approval recommendation follows recent disturbing allegations that former mine owner Rio Tinto made secret payments of around $21 million to silence Aboriginal concerns and opposition while it negotiated the project’s sale to current owner Cameco.
“Uranium mining is a high risk, low return activity where the proven risks far outweigh any promised rewards,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.
“Uranium is currently trading at US$28/lb. Cameco has stated it will not mine unless the uranium prices reaches upwards of US$75/lb. The EPA is recommending a green light for yellowcake when the company has stated the finances and the plan don’t stack up.
“Uranium mining poses unique risks and long term human and environmental hazards. It demands the highest level of scrutiny and assessment – instead we have a lower order EPA report based on the hope of ‘satisfactory implementation by the proponent of the recommended conditions’. This inadequate approach is out of step with community expectations and fails to reflect the uranium sectors proven history of leaks and failure.”
“In the shadow of Fukushima, a continuing nuclear crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium, Bill Marmion and Colin Barnett should put this controversial and contaminating sector before the people and under the spotlight via a public inquiry.”
For comment contact: Dave Sweeney 0408 317 812 or Mia Pepper 0415 380 808