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Australian Government - Supervising Scientist logo


Issued 18 June 2004

The Commonwealth Government's Supervising Scientist, Dr Arthur Johnston, advised today that Mr Alex Zapantis, the Assistant Secretary of the Office of the Supervising Scientist, yesterday accepted the position of Manager, Environment Safety and Health at the Ranger Uranium Mine operated by Energy Resources of Australia.

“I congratulate Mr Zapantis on his appointment. His demonstrated commitment to the protection of the environment and the people of Kakadu will be of great benefit to ERA,” Dr Johnston said.

“It is very important to me, as Supervising Scientist, to ensure that there is no real or perceived conflict of interest arising from this appointment. It is for this reason that I am issuing this statement.

“Alex has been one of the key people involved in the Supervising Scientist's investigation of the recent incident at the Ranger Uranium Mine. His part of the investigation was complete before the position at ERA was advertised. The content of the report has not been, and will not be, influenced in any way by Alex's appointment to the position with ERA. It needs to be emphasised that the report on the incident is my report to the Minister as a statutory officer, not the report of any individual officer.”

“The Australian Public Service Commission has issued guidelines that are to be followed when members of the APS take up positions with organisations that have direct contact with their former agency. These procedures, which address issues such as potential conflict of interest and confidentiality, are being implemented. For example, consistent with these guidelines, Mr Zapantis ceased to have any input to the content of the report on the recent Ranger incident when he advised me that he was considering applying for the position at ERA.

“Mr Zapantis has worked for the Office of the Supervising Scientist for eight years. Throughout that time he has demonstrated the highest level of probity and integrity. I am completely confident that he will continue to apply these values in his future employment with ERA.

“Nevertheless, given the possible perception of conflict of interest by members of the public, it has been agreed that Mr Zapantis will cease his employment with my office at close of business today.

“My report on the Ranger incident will be completed when the final report is received from the external experts we engaged to assess the potential long-term effects on the health of ERA staff who consumed contaminated water at Ranger. I am very aware of the concerns of Jabiru residents and Traditional owners about the incident and have continued to keep people informed on the outcomes of our investigation as it has progressed.

“As I have advised in previous public statements, there has been no impact on the environment outside the minesite arising from the recent incident at the Ranger mine and there has been no harm to the health of the people of the region.

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly express my gratitude to Alex for wonderful work he has done with the OSS over the past eight years. He will be missed by all of us within the Supervising Scientist Division and we all wish him well for the future.”

Media contact:
Jacqui Rovis-Hermann
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