5 November 2009 - Federal regulator says Ranger has not harmed Kakadu National Park


The Commonwealth body that monitors the environmental performance of the Ranger uranium mine says the mine had no adverse environmental impact on the surrounding Kakadu National Park.

Reporting for 2008-09, the Supervising Scientist Division of the Federal environment department said: “The extensive monitoring and research programs of the Supervising Scientist Division confirm that the environment has remained protected through the period.

“During the year there were no reported incidents that resulted in any environmental impact off the immediate minesite”.

Providing his overview of the 2008-09 program of monitoring at Ranger, the Supervising Scientist, Alan Hughes, referred to continuing claims that as much as 100 cubic metres a day of contaminated water was leaking from the mine’s tailings storage facility (TSF) into Kakadu National Park.

“There is no evidence of seepage extending from the base of the TSF into Kakadu National Park,” Mr Hughes said.

He said the sideways seepage of liquid from the TSF “is of a significantly lower volume” and comprehensive monitoring “confirms that its extent is restricted to within a few hundred metres of the dam impoundment”.

This had been confirmed by independent reviews of monitoring data collected both by the Supervising Scientist Division and ERA Ltd, the operator of the mine.

Mr Hughes said the vertical seepage of liquid under the TSF represented a “potentially larger proportion” of the liquid “and this water will need to be recovered and treated following the decommissioning and during rehabilitation of the facility”.

Mr Hughes and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam have had repeated exchanges about the tailings seepage issue during successive Senate estimates committee hearings over a period of more than 18 months.

As recently as September 9 this year, Senator Ludlam told the Senate: The Government has recognised the unique nature of uranium mine tailings in setting a standard for the Ranger mine in the Northern Territory. That is the mine that has been leaking around 100,000 litres of contaminated radioactive water a day into Kakadu.” (Senate Hansard, Wednesday 9 September 2009, p. 25) 

‘The Age’ newspaper had also reported allegations that Ranger was “leaking" contaminated water into the Kakadu National Park.