Thursday, May 24, 2012

Toro - Keep your poison out of Adelaide!

Adelaide-based Toro Energy (office address: 3 Boskanna Ave, Norwood) earlier this week received approval from the WA Environmental Protection Authority to mine 1200 tonnes of uranium ore from its Wiluna operations, 520km north of Kalgoorlie, and to truck it in 200-litre drums across the Nullarbor to Adelaide.

From Adelaide, the ore will be exported by ship through Port Adelaide, or transferred to trains and sent by rail to Darwin and its port.

This is an intolerable imposition on communities and road users between Wiluna and Kalgoorlie, and Kalgoorlie and Adelaide, and, if the rail link is used, on communities between Adelaide and Darwin.

It must be opposed!

Fremantle says No!

The immediate cause of the decision to send WA uranium ore to SA and possibly the NT is the policy of the Fremantle local government to declare "no uranium, nuclear waste or other material connected with the nuclear power industry may be stored or transported in or through the municipality".

Fremantle has s Greens mayor and voted in a Greens member to the WA parliament in 2009. Adele Carles received the highest primary vote result for the Greens in any state or federal election in Australia, but was forced to resign after she admitted having an affair with a Liberal politician. She now sits as an independent.

Carles and Mayor Brad Pettit were the recipients of community backlash after 2009 concerns about potential lead pollution after the state government gave approval to Magellan Metals to export lead carbonate through Fremantle from its mine at Wiluna, almost 1000km east of Perth. Magellan Metals' lead carbonate dust blew all over the southern West Australian town of Esperance in 2007, killing hundreds of birds and causing high levels of lead in the blood of children and other residents.

Although WA’s Liberal Party defeated the incumbent Labor government over the issue of approval for uranium mining in the state, it is not willing to take on the community over the export of yellowcake from the state’s ports.

After initially pledging that uranium ore would not be shipped from ports near residential areas, Liberal Premier Barnett has extended that to all ports, saying that they do not have container facilities.

Wiluna’s traditional custodians not happy

Toro is negotiating a mining agreement with two native title groups from the Wiluna region. Managing director Greg Hall said he believed residents and traditional owners who had taken part in talks were onside with the project.

The Toro website refers to visits to the area by traditional owners to map sites of cultural significance.

However, Wiluna locals have sent letters to both WA Environment Minister Bill Marmion and Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke inviting them both to Wiluna to discuss the proposed uranium mine by Toro Energy. Wiluna local and senior law man Glen Cooke has been very critical of the consultation process, saying in the letter that “many people in Wiluna feel that they have been excluded from the public process”.

Mr Cooke said “Toro Energy they only talk to a few people, always the same people. It’s not right, the people from Bondini’s (the community closest to the proposed mine) sometimes they don’t know about meetings, or they’re not invited to meetings or they can’t get to meetings. This is not right.”

“Marmion and Burke they will be making a big decision that will affect our community our dreaming and our health. Before they make a decision on what happens in our community, before signing away our country from many thousands of kilometers away they should come and look us in the eyes.”

Kado Muir, Chairperson of the West Australia Nuclear Free Alliance and a Ngalia man  said “The decision by EPA to approve the mining and transport of uranium has sent a shiver of fear through Aboriginal communities in the Goldfields. Our families in Wiluna face the prospect of having their country and environment poisoned by the Toro mine, while those of us living in Leonora and Kalgoorlie can only live in fear and hope that the road trains driving through our town does not have an unfortunate accident.

“The trucking of uranium down the Goldfields highway, sneaking around the back of Kalgoorlie and scurrying out of the State to South Australia along the Eyre highway is a striking commentary on the ‘not in my backyard syndrome’. Lead exports through Esperance and Fremantle demonstrated that industry and Government owned ports can’t cope with Lead, how will they ever transport uranium safely, it’s like playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun.

“This is an irresponsible politically motivated decision by the EPA to pander to Barnetts ‘development at all costs’ agenda for Western Australia. “The EPA needs to redeem its legitimacy and hold a full public enquiry as provided for under their Act into the wider environmental and public health consequences of uranium mining in WA” Mr Muir concluded.

How much is too much?

Yellowcake is already exported through Port Adelaide and Darwin from mines in SA and the NT.

That is bad enough.

For them to have to also be the ports responsible for exporting yellowcake from WA is simply too much!

The Wiluna uranium mine is only the first to receive WA government approval.

There are at least 46 companies searching for uranium and seven others are awaiting exploration licenses. Four other proposals for uranium mines are under consideration.

One of the biggest is being pursued by Cameco Australia, the Australian subsidiary of the large Canadian integrated nuclear energy company, Cameco Corporation, which is developing the Kintyre deposit in a joint venture with Mitsubishi Development on the western edge of the Great Sandy Desert.

Energy and Minerals Australia, an ASX-listed company, is developing the significant Mulga Rocks deposit northeast of Kalgoorlie.

Mega Uranium, a Canadian-owned company has partnered with Japanese companies to develop the Lake Maitland project in the east Goldfields.

BHP Billiton's Yeelirrie deposit is the second-largest known uranium deposit in Australia with a mine life of at least 30 years. But the project, 500km north of Kalgoorlie, is thought to be on hold.

Should the other four mines proceed to export yellowcake – and with the possibility of other mines going ahead in WA given the frenzy of exploration – then Toro’s planned delivery by truck of four to five containers of uranium oxide concentrate to Adelaide each month will pale into insignificance.

Adelaide residents must unite against the dangers of increased transport of yellowcake through their suburbs and out of their port.

No uranium exports through Port Adelaide!

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