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9 April 2002
Dr Arthur Johnston, the Commonwealth's Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region of the Northern Territory, will investigate new allegations of inadequate environmental management at the Ranger uranium mine.
"We have received allegations of several incidents of poor environmental management practices at Ranger in 1997 and 1998," Dr Johnston said.
"I am not aware of any evidence that the alleged events had any impact on Kakadu National Park, if indeed they occurred. Indeed, all monitoring data to date indicate a very high level of environmental protection. "Nonetheless, we will be investigating these issues and taking all actions necessary to ensure the continued protection of the Kakadu National Park."
Commonwealth and Northern Territory investigations have both commenced.
"Our investigation is being carried out in consultation with the Northern Territory authorities responsible for regulating mining," Dr Johnston said.
Under Northern Territory legislation, the authorities are bound to investigate any complaints brought to their attention.
The new investigation by the Supervising Scientist follows an assessment, which will be completed this week, of the mismanagement of a low-grade ore stockpile at Ranger.
Dr Johnston emphasised that recent reports of contamination of Kakadu National Park from that incident are unfounded.
"The environmental protection measures on the mine site worked as they were designed to do. Nonetheless, we have identified deficiencies in procedures at ERA, and these need to be improved," Dr Johnston said.
ERA recently agreed to upgrade its environmental management system to obtain certification under international standards as a result of this investigation.
"After discussions with ERA last week, I welcome its commitment to seek ISO14001 certification for the Ranger and Jabiluka sites." Dr Johnston said.
Dr Arthur Johnston, tel (08) 8982 9101, fax (08) 8982 9103, Mobile 0417 832 661