Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Radioactive soil dumped at Mary Kathleen mine

Cabinet papers: Radioactive soil from UQ dumped at Mary Kathleen mine http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/cabinet-papers-radioactive-soil-from-uq-dumped-at-mary-kathleen-mine/news-story/9bad4b01ffb900f38233aa87474d0cfd  January 1, 2017  A HUGE amount of radioactive soil – enough to top-dress a football oval – from the University of Queensland was dumped in the disused Mary Kathleen open-cut uranium mine north of Mount Isa in June 1986 with the approval of the Bjelke-Petersen government.

Cabinet papers released today after 30 years reveal a submission in August 1986 from then mines minister Ivan Gibbs, outlining how 330 cubic metres of contaminated soil was trucked to the mine site and unloaded into the water.

The submission said that in 1984, the UQ Experimental Mine at Indooroopilly was found to have radioactive material from uranium ore samples taken at the Anderson Lode (14km west of Mount Isa).

“Officers of the Health Department carried out a detailed survey of the site and concluded that the pilot plant tailings had caused contamination of the soil under and around the stockpile area, the total mass of contaminated material required to be moved amounting to about 330 cubic metres,” Gibbs’ submission said.

“Discussions were held with officers of my department to identify a suitable site for disposal of the material and I approved for it to be dumped into the abandoned open cut.

“Expert advice has been received that seepage will not take place from the open cut to the surrounding rocks, and studies have shown that the water level in the open cut will stabilise at least 40m below the overflow level.’’

Gibbs said the soil was classed “low specific activity material’’ under the code of practice for the safe transport of radioactive substances. A convoy of trucks transported the soil to the open-cut mine and dumped it below water level. “The access ramp was sealed with large rocks,’’ Gibbs said. “Each truck was washed down and checked for zero radioactive contamination.”

The submission stated that the government was satisfied that material in the abandoned mine would not have any effect on surface or groundwater in the area.

Gibbs said local National Party MP Bob Katter and Mount Isa mayor Tony McGrady objected to the disposal and sought assurances that no more soil would be dumped there.

Gibbs said: “Although it is highly unlikely that the cost of transporting any radioactive material to Mary Kathleen would be justified in future, the possibility of using the abandoned open cut for special cases should not be totally excluded.’’

March 27, 2017 - Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, wastes

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