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Ranger mine owners urged to overhaul safety standards

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 31 August 2004


Traditional owners say the operator of the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory should be stripped of its export licence unless it immediately overhauls its safety and environmental management.

The mine has shut down for several days to address issues raised in new contamination reports.

In March, workers at the mine fell ill after drinking and showering in water found to contain 400 times the legal limit of uranium.

Two Commonwealth contamination reports have prompted Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) to close the mine for safety improvements.

ERA's Harry Kenyon Slaney says they are taking the matter seriously.

"We have a wide range of regulatory requirements at ERA and frankly, you know, this is our licence to operate," he said.

The Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation's Justin O'Brien says the reports are a serious indictment against the mining company.

"If the company fails to immediately lift its game the Commonwealth Government should revoke its uranium export licence."

The Northern Territory Government had been waiting for the Commonwealth reports before making a final decision on possible penalties.

Meanwhile, the Greens have called for the Federal Government to shut down the mine.

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle says it is time the Government acted.

"[The] Senate report that came out last year putting in suggestions, changes to the safety procedures, another report that came out yesterday saying let's have at least Australian standards put in place for the safety operations of this mine, not appropriate for it continue to operate," she said.

The Greens are saying the minister needs to use his power to stop the operating licence, revoke the export licence that exists for Ranger uranium mine.


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