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Issue #1549      30 May 2012

Uranium mine approval a sign of systemic failure

The EPA’s (Environmental Protection Authority) announcement last week that it has approved the Toro Energy uranium mine in Wiluna, has exposed a long litany of failures in Western Australia’s regulatory, political and legislative systems, says WA Greens spokesperson for Water Alison Xamon.

Ms Xamon’s motion, calling for legislation to ensure world’s best practice for any future uranium mine, is currently being debated in the Upper House.

“The system has failed the people of Western Australia,” Ms Xamon said.

“We are now going to be saddled with an expensive, dangerous and radioactive mine site – even though the government has yet to finalise its legislative regime for such mines.

“What this legislative framework will be – the subject of my motion – continues to be the subject of debate in the Legislative Council and is far from resolved.”

Ms Xamon said the EPA has apparently determined that existing incomplete regulations are comprehensive enough to prevent any damage to our environment.

She said this was plainly absurd and that the EPA has comprehensively failed in its job to protect the environment.

“Also failing the people of Western Australia are the Labor Party – who are ducking and weaving so much on their uranium policy that no one knows where they stand, let alone themselves.

“And let us not forget the arrogance of Colin Barnett who believes his party has a mandate from the electorate to mine uranium and seems to forget he is only Premier thanks to a series of compromises hastily cobbled together with the National Party.

“A fail mark also goes to the National Party which went to the election with no clear policy on uranium mining and with candidates who during the election gave contrary responses to the uranium question. Ironically, the only two parties with a consistent position on uranium mining are the Liberals and the Greens.

“And the Greens are the only ones who are consistently fighting against the creation of uranium mines and mine tailings dams that will prove hazardous for thousands of years.”

Ms Xamon said that despite all the best rhetoric coming from the uranium industry, once you start to examine the failings of even the best practices employed around this industry it becomes self evident that uranium mining is a road to environmental disaster.

“We have not yet seen a uranium mine closed and rehabilitated in Australia that has not demonstrated major ongoing radioactive contamination problems.

“The cost of managing these has run into the tens of millions of dollars with no end yet in sight.

“Those who support the uranium industry, including the Barnett/Grylls government, are adamant that the risks associated with this industry can be managed.

“I wait to hear how this government proposes to do this because this hasn’t been achieved anywhere else in the world.”  

Last year the anti-nuclear movement of Western Australia joined with global peace group Footprints for Peace in an exciting campaign to re-instate the ban on uranium mining in Western Australia. Here they gathered just outside remote Wiluna to begin the ten-week walk to Perth.

Next article – Baillieu’s TAFE cuts threaten only sign language diploma in Victoria

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