Australian news, and some related international items

Labor Premiers’ dispute over location for AUKUS nuclear wastes, – but planned Kimba waste dump is”now dead in the water”?

Mr Wilkins told ABC Radio Adelaide that the proposed Kimba nuclear waste dump no longer made sense, and that any future site to store submarine reactor spent fuel should also accept waste that would have gone to Kimba.

“The proposed Kimba nuclear waste dump must now be dead in the water,” he said

Nuclear waste divisions intensify between Labor premiers over AUKUS submarine deal

ABC, 18 Mar 23

South Australia’s premier has hit back at suggestions from Labor counterparts that his state should take nuclear waste from the future AUKUS fleet, saying the decision on where the waste goes should be based on the “nation’s interests”…………….

Divisions within Labor ranks over AUKUS — including over its $368 billion cost, and its strategic aims and consequences — have become increasingly apparent since Paul Keating’s blistering attack on what he described as the “worst international decision” by a Labor government since conscription.

While Prime Minister Anthony Albanese yesterday rebuked Mr Keating, Labor premiers have since voiced opposition to accepting nuclear waste from the AUKUS subs in their states.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said yesterday it was not “unreasonable” to suggest that, since South Australia is gaining jobs, it should also accept the spent fuel rods when the submarines reach the end of their service.

“I think the waste can go where all the jobs are going,” he said.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan voiced similar sentiment, suggesting South Australia take on a nuclear waste facility.

But while Mr Malinauskas said that the possibility of SA taking waste could not be ruled out, he rejected Mr Andrews’s claim that SA had a responsibility to take the waste because it was taking the jobs.

“No, because that implies that somehow that this isn’t a national endeavour,” he said……………………

Conservation Council of SA chief executive Craig Wilkins said discussion of a “short-term political stoush between state premiers” overlooked the major challenges involved in storing nuclear waste.

“We’re talking about waste that needs to be kept safe from humans for tens of thousands of years, basically beyond our civilisation, so this needs to be an incredibly well-considered decision,” he said.

“[There] needs to be a multi-billion-dollar project to house the waste.”

Mr Wilkins told ABC Radio Adelaide that the proposed Kimba nuclear waste dump no longer made sense, and that any future site to store submarine reactor spent fuel should also accept waste that would have gone to Kimba.

“The proposed Kimba nuclear waste dump must now be dead in the water,” he said……………………….

March 19, 2023 Posted by | politics, South Australia, Victoria, wastes, Western Australia | Leave a comment

‘Send it to Woomera’: Premier McGowan cold on nuclear waste being stored in Western Australia

SMH, Hamish Hastie, With Paul Sakkal. March 16, 2023

Western Australia has nominated defence force land in the Woomera prohibited area in South Australia as the best location to store dangerous radioactive waste from Australia’s nuclear submarines.

The premier’s comments add to the growing headache the Albanese government faces over what to do with the spent nuclear reactors from the AUKUS deal submarines once the vessels begin producing them from the mid-2050s.

On Wednesday the leaders of Victoria, Queensland and South Australia all signalled they did not want a nuclear waste facility in their state.

When asked whether he would be happy with a nuclear waste facility set up in WA after a press conference alongside Defence Minister Richard Marles in Perth on Thursday McGowan responded: “no”.

Woomera is a large swath of defence land in the north west of South Australia used as a long-range weapons testing area, including for nuclear weapons, after the second world war.

……………………………. Marles said the government would begin a process to pick a site for the waste within the year and revealed he had “a chat” with McGowan about the issue. But he said it was still early days.

…………… On Wednesday South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas told ABC Radio the waste should be sorted somewhere safe but that didn’t mean it had to be in South Australia……………………

A spokeswoman for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said under no circumstances would the state become a dumping ground for nuclear waste.

WA has a nuclear waste dumping facility in the Goldfields that stores waste with low-level radioactivity including discarded medical imaging machines.

McGowan said this low-level waste was completely different to the radioactivity from spent nuclear reactors from submarines.

March 17, 2023 Posted by | wastes, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Should never have been lost’: Big questions after miracle radioactive find

The New Daily 2 Feb 23,

Relieved Western Australian authorities are fending off more questions, after the success of their “needle-in-a-haystack” search for a tiny radioactive capsule.

Search crews defied the odds to find a tiny “Tic-Tac-sized” capsule after it – quite literally – fell off a truck in remote Western Australia.

Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said the discovery was extraordinary considering the scope of the search area.

“Locating this object was a monumental challenge,” he said.

“The search groups have quite literally found the needle in the haystack.”

But questions remain about how the tiny but dangerous object went missing in the first place.

The 8-millimetre by 6-millimetre item fell out of a density gauge while being trucked 1400 kilometres from a Rio Tinto mine in the Pilbara to Perth just over a fortnight ago.

Authorities sprang into action, mobilising specialist crews to look for the tiny capsule. Firefighters were diverted from their usual activities and on Tuesday the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency said it had sent a team with specialised car-mounted and portable detection equipment to join the search.

On Wednesday, WA government officials said the dangerous capsule had been found just south of Newman – about 200 kilometres from the mine site – on the Great Northern Highway………………………………………….

A government investigation has been launched into the incident and a report will be provided to WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson.

Rio Tinto has previously apologised and ordered its own review into what went wrong during the haul, which was carried out by a contractor.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

The truck arrived in the Perth suburb of Malaga on January 16. But it wasn’t until nine days later that a technician realised the capsule was missing.

Under WA laws, the maximum fine for failing to safely store or transport radioactive material is just $1000 – a penalty described by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as “ridiculously low”……………. more

February 4, 2023 Posted by | - incidents, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Missing radioactive capsule found

Authorities in Australia say they have found a tiny radioactive capsule
which went missing last week. Emergency services had “literally found the
needle in the haystack”, authorities in Western Australia said. A huge
search was triggered when the object was lost while being transported along
a 1,400km (870-mile) route across the state.

Mining giant Rio Tinto
apologised for losing the device, which could have posed a serious danger
if handled. The capsule – which is 6mm (0.24 inches) in diameter and 8mm
long – contains a small quantity of Caesium-137, which could cause skin
damage, burns or radiation sickness.

Emergency services used specialised
equipment including radiation detectors during their hunt. Announcing their
find on Wednesday, the state emergency services paid tribute to
“inter-agency teamwork in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds”. The
capsule was found when a vehicle equipped with specialist equipment, which
was travelling at 70 km/h, detected radiation, officials said. Portable
detection equipment was then used to locate the capsule, which was found
about 2 metres from the side of the road, they added.

BBC 1st Feb 2023

Times 1st Feb 2023

February 2, 2023 Posted by | safety, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Missing radioactive capsule: WA officials admit it was weeks before anyone realised it was lost

Fire and Emergency Services official says capsule left Rio Tinto mine site on 10 January but was not found missing for 15 days

Guardian, Mostafa Rachwani, 28 Jan 23

Western Australian authorities are scrambling to find a missing radioactive capsule that is a fraction of the size of a 10c coin, conceding it was not found missing until more than two weeks after it left a Rio Tinto mine site.

The 8mm by 6mm capsule is a 19-gigabecquerel caesium 137 ceramic source, commonly used in radiation gauges, and was supposed to be contained in a secure device which had been “damaged” on a truck which travelled from the mine site north of Newman in the Pilbara to a depot in Perth.

Authorities are now searching along the 1,400km stretch of the Great Northern Highway for the capsule, which they warn can cause skin burns, radiation sickness and cancer.

At a news conference on Saturday, Darryl Ray, the acting superintendent for Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services, said authorities were largely searching for the capsule at “strategic sites”.

He said an incident management team including the Department of Health and police had been formed.

“We have continued the search on strategic sites along the route that the vehicle had taken, concentrating on sites close to high-population areas within the metropolitan suburbs,” he said. “The search involves the use of radiation survey meters to detect the radiation levels which will help us locate the small device.

“What we are not doing is trying to find a tiny little device by eyesight. We are using the radiation detectors to locate the gamma rays, using the meters, that will help us then locate the small device.

“We have secured the GPS data from the trucking company to determine the exact route and stops that the vehicle has taken on its journey.

“We will continue to use specialist equipment to help us search the remaining known locations … in particular, the Great Northern Highway between Perth and Newman.”

The WA chief health officer, Andrew Robertson, said there were screws missing from the protective gauge holding the capsule when it was discovered missing.

“These gauges are designed to be robust and to be used in industrial settings where they may be exposed to weather and vibration, so it is unusual for a gauge to come apart like this one has,” Robertson said.

“We are conducting an investigation on all of the circumstances from when it was originally transported from the mine site, the whole of the transport route, and then its handling on arrival in Perth.”

Robertson urged anyone who found the capsule not to handle it.

“People could end up developing redness of the skin and eventually burns of the skin from the beta radiation,” he said. “If it were kept long enough and they were exposed long enough, they could also have some acute effects, including impacts on their immune system and the gastrointestinal system.”

Robertson said the capsule was “most dangerous if it is handled or if it is close to the body”.

“If you are further than five metres away from the source, certainly if you are more than 20 metres away from the source, it will pose no danger to you,” he said. “If it is closer than that, and we strongly discourage people from picking it up, certainly don’t put it in your pocket or put it in your car, don’t put it on your sideboard, it will continue to radiate.

“While you may not have immediate health effects, they can occur relatively rapidly over a short period of time if it is close to the body………………

Robertson said officials did not know the date the capsule fell off the truck.

Ray said the capsule was placed on to the pallet on 10 January at the mine site, transited and arrived at the radiation service company in Malaga on 16 January.

“It was not until the 25th, late morning, when they opened it up to reveal that the device had fallen apart, was damaged in transit, and that the actual capsule was discovered missing, which is when authorities were first notified.” ………… more

January 30, 2023 Posted by | - incidents, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Urgent public health warning issued over lost radioactive capsule in Western Australia

“It emits both beta rays and gamma rays so if you have it close to you, you could either end up with skin damage including skin burns,” .

“And if you have it long enough near you, it could cause acute radiation sickness.

DFES have issued a warning for people to stay at least five metres away from it if they see something that resembles the capsule. By Cason Ho 28 Jan 23

A missing radioactive capsule lost somewhere between Perth and a Pilbara mine site over an area of 1,400 kilometres has sparked an urgent health warning.

Key points:

  • A capsule containing a radioactive substance has been lost
  • The capsule is 6mm in diameter and 8mm wide
  • People are being urged not to get close to the capsule

In an emergency press conference on Friday afternoon, WA’s chief health officer urged people to stay away from the capsule if they see it because of its radioactive properties.

The capsule is tiny – 6mm diameter by 8mm high.

The radioactive gauges are commonly used in mining. It went missing from a truck sometime after January 10.

WA radioactive substance risk alert

The radioactive capsule could be anywhere along the more than 1,400 km journey between Malaga, in Perth and Newman in WA’s remote north

Any motorists who have travelled along the Great Northern Highway between Newman and Perth since January 10 should check their tyres, in case the capsule has become lodged in them.

Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson said the capsule was lost while it was being transported, somewhere between a mine site north of Newman and Malaga, north east of Perth. 

It is believed the capsule fell through the gap left by a bolt hole, after the bolt was dislodged when a container collapsed as a result of vibrations during the trip.

Authorities are searching Great Northern Highway in a desperate effort to find the capsule, which is smaller than a 10-cent piece.

DFES said the capsule “cannot be weaponised” but are still urging caution due to potentially serious health consequences.

Radiation equivalent to 10 X-rays an hour

Mr Robertson said it does emit a “reasonable” amount of radiation.

He says the radiation emitted is equivalent to receiving 10 X-rays in one hour, if you were within one metre of it, or the amount of natural radiation a body is exposed to over a year.

The half-life of the substance is 30 years. 

“It emits both beta rays and gamma rays so if you have it close to you, you could either end up with skin damage including skin burns,” he said.

“And if you have it long enough near you, it could cause acute radiation sickness.

“Now that will take a period of time but obviously we are recommending people not be close to it or hang on to it.”

Mr Robertson advised anyone who finds the capsule not to go near it, and to rather call DFES on 133 337.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services is leading search efforts, coordinating a team involving the Department of Health, WA Police, and other subject matter experts.

DFES Country North chief superintendent David Gill said there would be “challenges” in locating such a small object.

“The start and finish of the transportation from the mine site north of Newman, and the transport depot in Perth, are among some of the locations that are searched, and being searched yesterday, but the capsule remains unfound,” he said.

“There are challenges here. It is 1,400 kilometres between the mine site … to the north of Newman, and Perth.”

DFES have issued a warning for people to stay at least five metres away from it if they see something that resembles the capsule.

People are urged to avoid coming into contact with it, and immediately contact DFES.

January 28, 2023 Posted by | - incidents, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Upurli Upurli people say no to uranium mining at Mulga Rock, Western Australia

Sam Wainwright, Perth, November 28, 2022

Nuclear Free WA protested outside Deep Yellow’s annual general meeting on November 25 against the company’s plans to mine uranium at Mulga Rock, north west of Kalgoorlie. The Upurli Upurli traditional owners absolutely oppose it.

Deep Yellow holds the only uranium deposit in Western Australia. This was the company’s first AGM following its merger in August with Vimy Resources.

Mia Pepper, Nuclear Free Campaigner at the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA), who has been tracking the mine plans for more than 10 years, said it faces more opposition than ever.

Deep Yellow does not have “any agreement with the Native Title claim groups” and “it doesn’t have the finance”, she said.

It has just started a third Definitive Feasibility Study into the beleaguered project, expected to be completed mid-2024. The latest project delay casts further doubt on the future of the site, campaigners said.

“Deep Yellow is the only company beating the uranium drum in Western Australia and even their own executive team has been clear they have no intention to mine at the current uranium price,” Pepper said.

“For a company with a highly speculative business model, no operating mines, many regulatory hurdles still to clear, and a sizeable pricing disincentive, it’s astounding that shareholders would endorse the proposed remuneration package for the Deep Yellow executive team, with the CEO alone receiving over $1 million,” she continued

First Nations communities have been continuing their protests.

WA Greens Legislative Council member Brad Pettitt read a statement in parliament on November 17 on behalf of Upurli Upurli and Spinifex women.

“We are Upurli Upurli and Spinifex women and we are writing because we face the unprecedented threat of uranium mining at Mulga Rock, east of Kalgoorlie … We have been saying no to uranium mining at Mulga Rock for a long time”

Their statement also detailed concerns about Deep Yellow’s executive who held senior roles in companies responsible for the destruction of Juukan Gorge, as well as several incidents of environmental pollution, industrial relations controversies and workplace fatalities at uranium mines in Malawi and Namibia.

The CCWA is delivering a WA Uranium Free Charter to WA MPs. It demands they “review and remove any approval for uranium mining at Mulga Rock” as well as withdraw the approvals of the stalled proposed uranium mines at Kintyre, Yeelirrie and Wiluna.


November 29, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Racist statements by mining magnate Lang Hancock, and claims that he had Aboriginal children

Lest we forget – the great mining magnates have not been so great on human rights.

This becomes an issue now, when their names can be attached to Australian sports teams. Surely an embarrassing whitewash of despicable public persons.

THE families of people claiming to be children born out of wedlock to Lang Hancock work in his mines, it was claimed yesterday. Gemma Jones  From:Herald Sun  February 15, 2012 

Aboriginal elder Hilda Kickett, 68, who has been accepted as Mr Hancock’s love child by his widow, Rose Porteous, said some of the relatives of seven other suspected part-Aboriginal children of the late mining magnate were even paid royalties from mines opened on their traditional land.

Many of Mr Hancock’s suspected grandchildren have taken jobs in family mines and others in the vast northwest of Western Australia, which was opened up by the businessman……

Mr Hancock, who discovered iron ore in the Pilbara, once called for part-Aboriginals to be sterilised.

He also dismissed indigenous land claims, saying: “The question of Aboriginal land rights and things of this nature shouldn’t exist.”

He referred to part-Aboriginal people as “no-good half-castes” and said to deal with those who were unemployed he would “dope the water up so that they were sterile and would breed themselves out in the future”. ….

October 18, 2022 Posted by | people, Western Australia | 1 Comment

Radiation ‘hotspots’: legacy of British nuclear tests lingers on idyllic islands in Western Australia

Tourists warned not spend more than an hour at the Montebello Islands sites – as a new study examines the effect of radioactive sands on marine life.

Guardian, Narelle Towie, @narelletowie 8 Oct 22,

The white ocean sands of Western Australia’s Montebello Islands may appear inviting, but 70 years ago they were the site of Britain’s first nuclear tests.

Now researchers are working to uncover how much and what type of radioactive material persists in sediment on the ocean floor of the archipelago, made up of 265 low-lying islands and islets, 1,200km north of Perth. They hope to get a clearer idea of its effects on the area’s abundant marine life and any lingering dangers to people who visit the islands for tourism or fishing.

The nuclear fallout from atomic blasts in the 1950s have been well studied on land, but little is known about how radioactive sands affect the 60,000-hectare marine park’s ecosystem.

In June 2020 a team led by Madison Hoffman, an environmental radioecologist at Edith Cowan University, collected hundreds of kilograms of sediment from an area near the blast sites, 120km west of Dampier, for analysis.

Hoffman says they detected levels of radioactivity higher than background levels, as expected.

“Those levels are highest in areas around where those three detonations took place, but we also have some areas which have come up with levels a little higher than we expected for where we found them.”


The 12 nuclear tests carried out between 1952 and 1957 – including three in the Montebellos – were part of a secretive deal between Britain and Australia that was championed by the then prime minister, Robert Menzies. Further “minor trials” were carried out in South Australia until 1963.

The first test, codenamed Operation Hurricane, took place on 4 October 1952 at a lagoon off Trimouille Island in the Montebellos.

A decommissioned warship, HMS Plym, was rigged up with a 7kg plutonium device, sending tonnes of seawater and mud 3,000 metres into the air and impregnating the ocean sand with radioactive isotopes.

On 16 May and 19 June 1956 two more bombs were set off from towers at Trimouille and Alpha islands as part of Operation Mosaic. The bombs were boosted with hydrogen and lithium and were the biggest ever detonated in Australia.

Hoffman says while some radionuclides, or radioactive atoms, are blasted inside sand grains, others attach to the surface of sediment and shift in rough weather, such as during cyclonic activity.

“When we know what radionuclides there are and what ratios they are in, they can act like a fingerprint, kind of like a forensics tool that is distinct to the Montebellos,” Hoffman says.

“When sediment rock gets moved from point A to point B, it is taking those radionuclides with it and potentially moving those hotspots and migrating them around.”

Hoffman wants to know where these hotspots are so she can study how the radiation exposure affects sediment-dwelling marine life. The area is home to a rich variety of marine species including dugongs, turtles, whales, hundreds of fish species and mangroves………………….

 Darren Koppel, a marine contaminant expert with the Australian Institute of Marine Science, says low levels of radiation over long periods can cause chronic toxicity to plants and other organisms.

“We do not have much data on the chronic effects of radiation to marine organisms, so this type of research is critical to fill those data gaps,” Koppel says.

“The most likely effect is that sensitive organisms and plants will have stopped living or growing in the areas with higher radioactivity, leaving only the more tolerant species.”

The Montebello Islands are managed by the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

It says there are still “slightly elevated radiation levels” at Trimouille and Alpha islands and warns tourists not to camp or spend longer than one hour at those sites.

Tourists travel from the nearby towns of Karratha, Port Hedland, Onslow and Dampier on fishing trips. Despite warning signs , the department has found evidence of campers on the islands in recent years.

In the Great Victoria Desert, in outback South Australia, authorities spent millions trying to clean up radioactive fallout from nuclear testing at Maralinga, where the British detonated seven atomic bombs.

According to researchers at Monash University, residual plutonium and uranium still contaminate the land at Maralinga as tiny radioactive grains in the soil.

Little heed was given to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara people who lived on the land, who lived with the legacy of the explosions for decades afterwards. It wasn’t until 1994 that the Australian government paid $13.5m in compensation for what had been done to the land.

British and Australian servicemen exposed to radiation by the blasts have also fought long campaigns for the effects on their health to be recognised and adequately compensated…………………

Hoffman says that key technical documents about the nuclear testing, which could help with her research, were reclassified by the UK in 2018.

“We have so little documentation or information about what really happened,” Hoffman said.

“Without that information and all the really crucial statistics [about the blasts] it is really difficult to make sense of the answers we have now in relation to what originally happened.”

October 8, 2022 Posted by | environment, weapons and war, Western Australia | Leave a comment

‘Radiation risk’: Nuclear threat discovered off the WA coast

perth now Eli Green, NCA NewsWire, October 3, 2022,

Tourists visiting a popular destination in Western Australia have been warned there is still a “radiation risk” 70 years after it was used as a nuclear test site, a study has found.

The Montebello Islands, located 120km off the WA coast, were used by the British in 1952 for Operation Hurricane, which saw three nuclear tests performed.

“More than half a century on, marine scientists have discovered there remains a radiation risk to marine life and tourists,” the four-year study by Edith Cowan University PhD student Madison Hoffman found.

With the islands attracting nature lovers such as fishers, divers and snorkellers to its coral reefs, the study has brought a fresh warning for tourists.

Due to the elevated radiation levels, visitors are currently encouraged to keep their trips to an hour a day.

The exact level of danger that the radiation levels pose to humans is yet to be determined, but Ms Hoffman hopes that is something she can determine soon.

“We don‘t quite have an answer for that yet, but we’re hoping over the next two years that we’ll be able to put a number to the potential risk,” she said.

Operation Hurricane was the first time an atomic bomb was tested by the British, with the site chosen due to its isolated location and Australia’s close ties with the UK.

The study saw more than 100 samples of marine sediment and marine life collected and tested.

“It is really important that we try and understand exactly what type of radionuclides and what levels of radiation remain in the marine ecosystem at the Montebello Islands,” Ms Hoffman said.

Radionuclides are substances that release radiation, with some being harmful to humans as they damage the body’s cells and cause cancer.

“We’re focusing now on mapping out areas where higher levels of radionuclides are found in marine sediment all around the Marine Park.”

The level of radiation also poses a threat to local wildlife, with more than 450 species of fish, 630 types of molluscs like octopi and cuttlefish, and 170 varieties of starfish and sea urchins found in the area……………..

October 3, 2022 Posted by | environment, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Groups join together to sign WA Nuclear Free Charter against uranium mining

Neil Watkinson & Stuart McKinnon, Kalgoorlie Miner, Thu, 11 August 2022

Nineteen groups representing thousands of West Australians have signed a joint statement against uranium mining in WA.

Their pledge comes as a $658 million merger of uranium mining companies Deep Yellow and Vimy Resources was confirmed this month, alongside plans to advance their $393m Mulga Rock project 290km east-north-east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

The groups — which include trade unions, faith groups and conservation organisations — have expressed their support for the WA Nuclear Free Charter which calls on the WA Government to remove any outstanding approvals for uranium mining at four sites across the State.

Three of the four sites — Kintyre, Yeelirrie and Wiluna — have missed development deadlines for approvals, but Mulga Rock remains active after Vimy achieved “substantial commencement” from the the State Government in December.

The price for uranium fell into the doldrums following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, but the industry has been making much noise recently about a brighter future.

……………………….. Deep Yellow plans to revise and update a definitive feasibility study for Mulga Rock to include a base metals component, which was a condition of its original approval to develop the project.

The company also hopes to complete a definitive feasibility study for the company’s other project, Tumas in Namibia, by the end of the year.

Mulga Rock is expected to deliver 3.5 million pounds of uranium oxide per annum while Tumas is slated to produce 3Mlb a year.

But anti-uranium mining groups are marshalling themselves to continue fighting against the Mulga Rock project.

Signatories to the WA Nuclear Free Charter include UnionsWA and the WA branches of the Australian Manufacturers Workers Union, Electrical Trades Union, United Workers Union, State School Teachers Union, United Professional Firefighters Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, along with faith, health, and national and state environment organisations.

The charter describes uranium mining as “unwanted”, “uneconomic” and a “damaging and underperforming sector that unnecessarily risks our unique environment”.

Mia Pepper from the Conservation Council of WA — one of the many conservation groups to have endorsed the charter — urged the State Government to withdraw “expired and deficient” approvals for the four uranium mine proposals in WA.

“Consistently, the people of WA have said that they do not want uranium mining in their State,” she said.

“The current government, like many Labor governments before them, hold a strong clear position opposed to uranium mining because it puts workers, communities and the environment under threat.

“Now is the time to create lasting protections against uranium mining in WA by withdrawing outdated and deficient approvals.

“Uranium mining is different. It is radioactive, leaving behind long-lasting wastes which pose an ongoing threat to public health and the environment.

“No uranium mine in Australia has ever been successfully and completely rehabilitated.

“The Ranger uranium mine in the NT is undergoing a $2.2 billion clean-up, fortunately by a company with the money and resources to do so.

“In WA the one advancing uranium project — Mulga Rock — is being pushed by Deep Yellow . . . and we have no confidence they can do what bigger better resourced companies are failing to do.

“This government knows the risks, the costs and the legacy of this toxic trade which is why they have a strong anti-uranium policy.

“Along with unions, health, faith and environment groups we’re calling on the government to act now to put an end to uranium mining in WA.”

August 11, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

A big win for Yeelirrie — Beyond Nuclear International

Indigenous community keeps door closed to uranium mining in Australia

A big win for Yeelirrie — Beyond Nuclear International Cameco delays mean uranium mining permit not extended
By Maggie Wood, Acting Executive Director, Conservation Council of Western Australia
On April 6, we celebrated a huge step forward in our sustained campaign to keep the door closed to uranium mining in Yeelirrie. 
The Minister for Environment has rejected an application by the Canadian mining company Cameco to extend their environmental approval for the Yeelirrie uranium mine. 

The approval was controversially granted in 2017 in the dying days of the Barnett government and required Cameco to commence mining within five years. They have failed to do this and now they have failed in their bid to have this time extended.

This is a huge win for the local area, the communities nearby and for life itself. The special and unique lives of the smallest of creatures, endemic subterranean fauna found nowhere else on earth, would have most likely been made extinct had this project gone ahead, according to the WA EPA. 

For over five decades Traditional Custodians from the Yeelirrie area have fought to protect their Country and community from uranium mining. Over this time they have stood up and overcome three major multinational mining companies – WMC, BHP and now Cameco.

We have stood united with communities to say no to uranium mining and this consistent rejection of the nuclear industry in WA has helped secure the sensible decision to not extend the approval.

“It is possible to stand up to multinational companies and stop major mining projects from destroying sacred lands and environments – we do that from a base of strength in unity and purpose, from persistent and consistent actions and most of all perseverance against all odds to stand up for what is right …” – Kado Muir, Tjiwarl Traditional Custodian.

And this couldn’t have happened without you. Hundreds of supporters like you have spent time on country with Traditional Custodians – listening, walking, connecting with country and standing up for a nuclear free future. Traditional Custodians, unions, faith groups, health groups, environmental groups, the WA and Australian Greens and WA Labor – we’ve all had a big part to play. 

Thank you to everyone who has stood up, spoken out, donated, walked, written letters, signed petitions and online actions, bought artwork and t-shirts, volunteered, and organised to say no to uranium mining.

The campaign to protect Yeelirrie is not entirely over. While the approvals can’t be acted on currently, they do still exist, and an amendment could be made by a future government giving Cameco the greenlight to mine.

This is why we are now calling on the State Government to withdraw approvals for Yeelirrie along with expired approvals for Cameco’s Pilbara proposal at Kintyre and Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium proposal. Doing this would be consistent with WA Labor’s policy and community expectations and – as Vicki Abdullah says – is the next step to a lasting solution.

“We’re really glad to hear the news that Yeelirrie’s approval has not been extended. It was a bad decision in the first place and after years in court and fighting to defend our country this news is a great relief. We will really celebrate properly when this government withdraws approvals altogether and then we can have more confidence the threat is over…” – . – Vicki Abdullah, Tjiwarl Traditional Custodian.

June 27, 2022 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Stop Deep Yellow: No uranium mining on Upurli Upurli Nguratja country The Mulga Rock uranium project is the only uranium proposal being advanced in WA. The project is uneconomic, unwanted and unnecessary.

Mulga Rock is on Upurli Upurli Nguratja country in the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological community in the Great Victoria Desert (GVD) and home to the endangered Sandhill Dunnart – one of three remaining areas where the species is found in Australia. The area is also home to the endangered Southern Marsupial Mole the vulnerable Crest Tailed Mulgara and Desert Skink, the migratory Rainbow Bee-Eater and many other priority species. 

Vimy Resources are seeking to merge with uranium miner Deep Yellow. Deep Yellow’s leadership is a cause for Deep concern. Their Chairperson Chris Salisbury was the Iron Ore boss at Rio Tinto during the Juukan Gorge destruction. Deep Yellow’s Managing Director John Borshoff was the Director of uranium company Paladin. During his leadership there were ongoing reports of industrial disputes worker fatalities and environmental concerns. 

“I worry about that country and what effect uranium mining would have on it, there is no other area like it. Once that’s destroyed and poisoned well how can you replace all that. It’ll be gone forever.” Janice Scott – Nangaanya-ku 

There is a registered Native Title Claim over the area – Upurli Upurli Nguratja. Vimy have routinely undermined Native Title interests in the area and have failed to meet the claim group. The Spinifex people who are descendants of some of Australia’s first environmental refugees who fled South Australia during the British atomic weapons tests between 1956 and 1963 and settled near Mulga Rock first at Cundallee then Coonana and then Tjutjuntjarra. There are strong connections to the area and a strong history of impact and resistance to the nuclear industry.   

“We don’t want uranium mining. We’ve written to government to let them know we the Traditional Owners have not been consulted. The current clearing at the site is disrespectful and shows a total lack of social value, moral and ethical leadership.” Debbie Carmody – Upurli Upurli Nguratja 

The Proposal: 

  • Four open pits, strip mined and backfilled
  • Licensed to take 15 million litres of water per day
  • Would produce 32 million tonnes of radioactive mine waste
  • Would clear 3,709 ha of native vegetation
  • Located in the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community, known as one of the most pristine areas in the Great Victoria Desert.
  • Home to the endangered Sandhill Dunnart
  • Upstream from the Queen Victoria A Class Nature Reserve

May 28, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Cameco Corp still set on WA uranium mine, despite government knockback, Indigenous opposition

ABC Goldfields /  By Sean Tarek Goodwin, 14 Apr 2022

A multinational mining company says it remains committed to a controversial uranium project in WA, despite the state government declining to extend its environmental approval. 

Key points:

  • The WA Environment Minister has rejected an application to extend approval for a uranium mine near Wiluna
  • Traditional owners and conservationists say the decision is a relief, after half a century of opposition
  • The company says it is still determined to bring the project forward in the future

A multinational mining company says it remains committed to a controversial uranium project in WA, despite the state government declining to extend its environmental approval. 

Canada-based Cameco Corporation spent US$430 million acquiring the Yeelirrie uranium deposit, near Wiluna in the northern Goldfields, in 2012.

It is one of the largest uranium deposits in the country. 

Earlier this year, the project’s approval expired due to a failure to commence work.

Last week, WA Environment Minister Reece Whitby denied the firm’s application to have the approval extended.

Relief for traditional owners and conservationists

The Conservation Council of WA and Tjiwarl traditional owners welcomed that decision, after 50 years of campaigning against the project.

Traditional owner Vicky Abdullah said it meant a “threat” was over. 

It was a bad decision in the first place and after years in court and fighting to defend our country this news is a great relief,” Ms Abdullah said. 

Other conservationists also welcomed the decision.

“This is an important and responsible decision and is a further signal to the uranium sector that they’re not welcome in WA,” Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation said. 

Cameco said it has also had a similar application for its Kintyre project in the Pilbara knocked back. 

Conservation Council Nuclear Free campaigner Mia Pepper said uranium mining had no future in WA. 

“Cameco has clearly shown that there is no economic case to mine uranium in WA, with the 2016 writedown of the Kintyre uranium proposal and the clear decision not to advance Yeelirrie,” Ms Pepper said. 

But one mine, at Mulga Rock, also in the Goldfields region is pushing forward.

“There is a lesson here for Vimy Resources and their investors – who are bucking the trend and are continuing to throw more money at their beleaguered Mulga Rock project – that mining uranium in WA is uneconomic,” Ms Pepper said.

Company not backing away

Cameco Corporation declined an interview with the ABC, but said market conditions had hindered the project. 

“Economic conditions and the state of the uranium market since the project was approved did not support significant expenditure on development activities,” communications director Jeff Hryhoriw said.

But the major mining company said it was committed to the long-term prospect of mining the mineral in WA. ……………………….

Project’s controversial history 

The ABC revealed last year the mine was approved by the former federal environment minister Melissa Price without key protections strongly and repeatedly recommended by the government’s own experts.

The approval occurred on the eve of the 2019 election, which most expected the government to lose.

An email from Cameco chief Simon Williamson to the federal government in the days before the 2019 federal election.(ABC )

Secret emails obtained by the ABC showed the approval occurred following intervention by Cameco and then-resources minister Matt Canavan, both of whom asked for the process to be expedited.

April 18, 2022 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Conservation Council of Western Australia continue their long fight for the environment, and to stop uranium mining.

This week we are celebrating a huge step forward in our sustained campaign to keep the door closed to uranium mining in Yeelirrie.  We have received word that a request made by the Canadian mining company Cameco to extend the environmental approval for the Yeelirrie uranium project has been rejected by Minister for Environment Reece Whitby. In 2018 and 2019, we challenged this approval in court. Now it has expired and time is running out for the uranium trade in WA.

This is a huge win for the local area, the communities and for life itself. The special and unique lives of the smallest of creatures, endemic subterranean fauna found nowhere else on earth would have most likely been made extinct had this project gone ahead, according to the WA EPA. 

We are now pushing for further protection. Under new provisions in the Environmental Protection Act s47A – Minister Whitby can withdraw approvals where the “commencement” condition has not been met. We are calling on the Minister to withdraw approvals for Yeelirrie, Wiluna and Kintyre – as all three projects have failed to meet these commencement conditions.  For over five decades Traditional Custodians from the Yeelirrie area have fought to protect the site from uranium mining.

Hundreds of supporters have spent time on country with Traditional Custodians, listening, walking, connecting with the country and standing up for a nuclear-free future. Traditional Owners, unions, faith groups, health groups, the WA and Australian Greens and WA Labor, and environment groups, we’ve all had a big part to play. For the full report and to heart what Traditional Owners, Kado Muir and Vicki Abdullah had to say please click here.

We are currently growing our campaign to protect Mulga Rock on Upurli Upurli Nguratja country, east of Kalgoorlie. This is WA’s one uranium project that has so far slipped through the next and last week through a merger this project is now being advanced by a team with links to the destruction at Juukan Gorge and dodgy mining operations in Malawi and Namibia. And we will continue to push for a withdrawal of approvals for Yeelirrie, Kintyre and Wiluna.

April 7, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment