Secrecy on health information about uranium workers – Submission to #NuclearCommissionSAust
EXPLORATION, EXTRACTION & MILLING “………I have previously expressed my criticism that this, and indeed all Royal Commissions conducted in South Australia are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act 1991. This is fundamentally undemocratic, and contradicts claims made by the Commissioner on many occasions of his commitment to openness and transparency.
Returning to the subject of exploration drilling, I would suggest that there is another factor confounding the efficacy of exploration drilling regulation in South Australia- namely regulatory capture. This is accompanied by a tendency to withhold information regarding non-compliance and regulatory failure. The resulting impression can be one of false assurance. For example, by citing Marathon Resources Rectification Plan 2008 in its Tentative Findings, while neglecting to list the Eyre Iron compliance audit report which it also received, the Commission is misleading the reader. A reader would be forgiven for assuming that Marathon’s non-compliance was an isolated example, when clearly, this is not the case. The compliance audit report is found as Appendix A attached to my submission below. http://nuclearrc.sa.gov.au/app/uploads/2016/03/Dan-Monceaux-10-08-2015.pdf
The Government of South Australia has on its own record admissions of its institutional knowledge of lung cancer risk to uranium workers in underground mines. The evidence base dates back to the early experiences of miners at Joachimstahl in Czechoslovakia, from whose high incidence of lung cancer the first precautionary safety standards were subsequently set in other jurisdictions. The risk was understood in the 1920s as evidenced by publications of the South Australian Department of Mines from the mid 1950s, namely: Possible health hazards in uranium mining – Armstrong, A.T., Department of Mines (1955) https://sarigbasis.pir.sa.gov.au/WebtopEw/ws/samref/sarig1/image/DDD/RB00429.pdf The health consequences of workers in the uranium industry – Dr. B. S. Hanson (1956) https://sarigbasis.pir.sa.gov.au/WebtopEw/ws/samref/sarig1/image/DDD/RB4200080.pdf
They are found in the results of Radium Hill worker cohort studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals. The epidemiological studies of the 1980s, published circa 1990 proved, with epidemiological evidence of elevated cancer incidence, that confidence expressed in the safety of working conditions at the Radium Hill mine in the 1950s and 1960s was ill-founded.
Radon daughter exposures at the Radium Hill uranium mine and lung cancer rates among former workers, 1952-1987 – Alistair Woodward, David Roder, Anthony J. McMichael, Philip Crouch and Arul Mylvaganam (1991) http://www.jstor.org/stable/3553403………
the Olympic Dam mine’s radiological safety measures and records remain protected by special secrecy provisions established under the Roxby Downs (Indenture Ratification) Act 1982. Secrecy during the time of the Radium Hill mine was a matter of protecting Commonwealth secrets during the Cold War. The secrecy provisions of the Roxby Downs Indenture (Ratification) Act 1982, were according to Ian Gilfillan of the Australian Democrats, at least in part to protect the project from attack by environmental groups. The Indenture Act was revised in 2011, and forfeited the ideal opportunity to repeal Cold War-style exemptions as a sign of good faith to the people of South Australia and movement towards open government………… https://www.academia.edu/23544163/Nuclear_Fuel_Cycle_Royal_Commission_Tentative_Findings_Submission_-_March_2016