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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
26 September 2002
A report into allegations relating to the operations of the Ranger Uranium Mine five years ago has found no evidence of a breach of environmental requirements, the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said today.
The report concludes that ‘…no evidence has been found that Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has operated otherwise than in accordance with its Authorisation and the Commonwealth’s Environmental Requirements’.
The report on allegations by former ERA employee Mr Geoffrey Kyle was jointly prepared by the Commonwealth Supervising Scientist and the Northern Territory Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development and has been submitted to Dr Kemp and to the Northern Territory Minister, Mr Paul Henderson.
“The findings in this report are reassuring, however as I announced earlier this year, given the mine’s close proximity to the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park, I expect nothing short of environmental best practise from ERA,” Dr Kemp said.
“In April this year I announced a wholesale overhaul of ERA’s environmental monitoring systems. ERA is now committed to achieving compliance with the international best practice standards for environmental management ISO 14001 by July 2003 and certification against ISO 14001 by July 2005.”
In April 2002, Mr Kyle wrote to Commonwealth and Northern Territory Ministers and officials raising allegations relating to environmental management and reporting at the Ranger mine between 1996 and 1998. The issues raised related to a spillage of tailings at the mine site, the discharge of water from the site and the management of the environmental laboratory which ERA previously operated in Jabiru.
“Many of the issues raised are no longer relevant because of the significant changes in staffing and management of the mine that have been implemented in recent years. Nevertheless, I take these allegations seriously and therefore requested that the Supervising Scientist investigate the allegations and prepare a report on them for me.
“The investigation, which involved interviews with past staff and an audit of the company’s records, was particularly challenging as considerable time had passed since the alleged events took place. Despite this, each of Mr Kyle’s allegations have been thoroughly investigated and the findings presented.”
The report makes two recommendations on technical issues related to the possible need for load estimation in the chemical monitoring program and the assessment of discharges of water from the region south of the tailings dam.
“I have asked the Supervising Scientist to ensure that these recommendations are implemented,” Dr Kemp said.
Dr Kemp noted that while the Supervising Scientist, who is part of the Environment and Heritage portfolio, is not the regulator of Ranger, he has worked with the Northern Territory regulators (Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development), the Northern Land Council and ERA to develop strong environmental protection protocols and requirements.
The executive summary and full report is available at www.ea.gov.au/ssd/publications
Office of the Supervising Scientist: Arthur Johnston 0417 832 661
Media Contact: Catherine Job 02 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400