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Australian Government - Supervising Scientist logo


Issued 24 March 2004

Drinking Water Contaminated at the Ranger Mine

The Supervising Scientist, Dr Arthur Johnston, has been advised by Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) that the drinking water supply at the Ranger mine in the Northern Territory has been contaminated.

"The mining company contacted me this morning and advised that ERA is investigating a problem with the potable water supply that provides water to the Ranger mine," Dr Johnston said.

ERA also advised representatives of the Aboriginal traditional owners in the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation, the Northern Land Council and the Northern Territory Government that this incident had taken place.

"This water supply provides water to the Supervising Scientist's Jabiru Field Station and Jabiru Airport as well as the Ranger Mine itself", Dr Johnston said, "but the town of Jabiru itself receives its water supply from a different borefield."

Staff from the Office of the Supervising Scientist are currently at the Ranger mine and are participating in the ERA investigation of the incident.

"The mining company has implemented a range of precautions to prevent the potable water being used until the matter is fully investigated and the problem rectified", Dr Johnston added.

Investigations so far indicate that a change was implemented in the water supply system in the Ranger processing plant last night (23 March). It is believed that this change caused the problem. Investigations are continuing.

"Based on reports so far, it appears to be very unlikely that any of the affected water could have entered the creeks surrounding the mine site. However, my staff are currently collecting samples of water from a number of drinking water sources and a number of locations in the area so the any health implications can be fully assessed" Dr Johnston said.

Media contact :
Dr Arthur Johnston
Telephone (08) 8920 1101
Mobile 0417 832 661