24 April 2014, 13:21

Australian Company refuses to clean up uranium mining site

Australian Company refuses to clean up uranium mining site

Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has refused to help clean up a uranium mine located within a national park in the country, saying it is the responsibility of its subsidiary, the Guardian reported Thursday.

"This is a public Australian company and clearly that is an issue for them," Rio Tinto's chief executive Sam Walsh said, adding "we are clearly shareholders, but it is a matter for all shareholders and a matter for the ERA board."

Walsh refused to offer any guarantees that the mining giant would help its subsidiary, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), clean up the site of the Ranger uranium mine, the report said. The mine, bordered by the Kakadu National park in Australia's Northern Territory, was shut down in December after a toxic spill from a leach tank.

The indigenous Mirarr traditional owners, who live in the park, fear that if Rio Tinto, one of the largest mining companies in the world, refuses to take responsibility for the site no one else will step up to replace them. Under the Ranger permit, ERA is required to clean up the site by 2026.

Justin O'Brien, chief executive of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, called for officials to respond to the threat to public safety. "We urgently want clarity from the Australian government and from ERA and Rio Tinto on this that our fears are unfounded. Those fears are that we'll be left with a toxic radioactive legacy from Ranger, and that there's nobody with pockets deep enough to fund the cleanup," he said.

 

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