Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Marathon not popular - noone wants its waste

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary despoiler Marathon Resources has suffered two humiliating rebuffs in its attempt to clean up the sites at which it had illegally dumped drilling and domestic wastes.

It is required by the terms of its government-approved rectification plan to remove “general waste” from Mt Gee West, Mt Gee East and Hodgkinsons to a licensed waste management facility.

The “general waste” includes burned plastic material and other miscellaneous food wastes, general personal protection equipment and other waste from Amdel Laboratories in Adelaide (including gloves, masks and disposable overalls), polystyrene tubing, and cardboard waste.

In its EL 3258 Rectification Plan (4th August 2008 – Version 4), Marathon claimed that these materials would go to the Leigh Creek Waste Management Facility and attached confirmation that the Leigh Creek facility would accept general waste from Marathon. Leigh Creek is a coal mining town south of Arkaroola (right) and is well-used to having to deal with waste from mining operations.

However, on August 28, the Leigh Creek facility changed its mind and said that it no longer wanted general waste from Marathon.

Marathon then moved in on the southern Flinders Ranges tourist town of Hawker, seeking permission to dump an initial 200kg of general waste at their solid waste landfill.

The Flinders Ranges Council chief executive and works manager gave their approval to Marathon, but the community (population 300) was tipped off about the approval, some leaflets were circulated critical of the plan, and the result was that the council had to meet and put the proposal to a formal vote which resulted in a 3-2 decision to block the plan.

So Marathon still has nowhere prepared to accept its waste materials.

This is despite the fact that those materials released for disposal in a licensed waste management facility must be checked for a radiation dose rate below 0.5╬╝Sv/h, allowing it to be described as “non-radioactive” in lay terms. General waste above this reading and hence deemed to be radioactive “must be stored at registered premises for future disposal.” There is no nuclear dump in SA at the moment.

This has led the Murdoch rag the Advertiser to editorially lecture the wider South Australian community about it being “Time to face the nuclear waste farce.”

It tries to trivialise the Hawker decision by pointing out that the Marathon waste was not “harmfully radioactive” and pointed out that “Radioactive waste is a part of modern life…the State Government has no site for the radioactive waste stored in some 134 sites around the metropolitan area.”

However, as a commentator in the internet share trading chat room Hot Copper put it, “ the decision was (not) made because the councillors thought some dusty old clothes were actually dangerous…

“This was not why they stopped it.
“Hawker is the Gateway to the Flinders Ranges and is very reliant on the tourism industry.As a community, they do not want to be seen as aiding Marathon in anyway.
“The council recognised they also have a duty to provide services, and the vote of 3 to 2 really indicates that two councillors thought that it was not council’s position to make a political statement on Mt Gee by refusing the rubbish. It does not show that 2 councillors support the project.
“The fact that this made the front page of the Advertiser pretty much demonstrates that every little thing they do from now on, will be publicised.”

By attaching the question of Marathon waste disposal to the absence of a nuclear waste dump in South Australia, the Advertiser is inadvertently helping to publicise the whole question of Marathon and its plans to mine uranium in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.

Where will the first nuclear waste dump in SA be?

Who wants one?

And why is there still any question of Marathon possibly resuming its drilling and moving on to actually mining inside SA’ premier tourist icon?

For further information, please check the excellent and colourfully illustrated e-newsletter of the Friends of Arkaroola here:

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