Political News

Uranium Mining: A real risk to regional Queenslanders

For just over a year ago the Newman LNP government dumped its pre-election commitment to keep the ban on uranium mining.

Regional Queenslanders especially should be deeply worried about the dangers of mining and transporting uranium yellow cake due to the many radioactive risks involved.

Even Premier Newman admitted no research or modeling had been done before overturning the ban.

The Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory has a long history of over 150 recorded mishaps such as millions of litres of radioactive tailings water flowing into local creeks and groundwater on many occasions, workers drinking and bathing in radioactive water and spillage of yellowcake. They have been prosecuted multiple times for safety breaches.

Given this record, why would Queensland allow uranium mining in a comparable tropical climate, which is prone to torrential summer rainfall and cyclones from the Coral Sea and the Gulf? It makes no sense at all.

There will also be risks for regional Queensland townships given the four locations of uranium deposits in Queensland at Ben Lomond near Townsville, Georgetown, Mount Isa and Westmoreland near the Gulf. In the short term export can only be via Darwin or Townsville as they are the only licensed export ports in Australia.

That means huge 3000km regular road trips across regional Queensland to get yellowcake uranium to port. Depending on which mine, outback routes would likely include Clermont-Emerald-Roma-St George, Winton-Longreach-Blackall-Charleville and Charters Towers-Hughenden-Cloncurry-Mt Isa-NT. There’s been no consultation with most of these towns at all and it’s easy to see why.

This dangerous job is highlighted by the semi inferno in Sydney a month ago. What happens in a fiery accident when the load is yellowcake uranium?

At some point a major road accident will occur and it will damage local communities and existing industries near the accident for a long time to come. Given uranium is low volume compared to most mining, it just isn’t worth the risk.

There is also continuing medical dispute about whether there is any ‘safe’ level of radiation exposure at all. While authorities have to set ‘safe’ levels, these are disputed and one has to wonder if future research will prove radiation exposure to be much worse than at first thought on the health of workers. The history of asbestos comes to mind in this regard.

To date, there hasn’t been a single ex-uranium mine that has been successfully rehabilitated in Australia. In the end, it’s the ordinary taxpayer who has to pick up the huge costs to rectify them.

Shamefully, the Newman government has not ruled out exporting uranium across the Great Barrier Reef, which should be a source of great concern to our tourism workers. One accident in world media can do enormous damage to tourist jobs in Queensland for years.

The Newman government has no mandate from Queenslanders to allow uranium mining so get involved now in the campaign to stop it by;

Mark Bailey

Statewide Co-ordinator, Keep Queensland Nuclear Free

1. Signing the petition at http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/keep-queensland-nuclear-and-uranium-free

2. Calling Mark Bailey on 0457 902 340 to volunteer

3. Liking us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KeepQldNuclearFree

4. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NuclearFreeQld