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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has welcomed a report from the Supervising Scientist which confirms that there was no damage to the World Heritage values of Kakadu National Park as a result of a leak in a process water pipe at the Ranger uranium mine.
Senator Hill says the detailed scientific analysis contained in the report supports the preliminary advice of the Supervising Scientist from April of this year.
The report states; "We have concluded that the leak of tailings water had no adverse ecological impact on Kakadu National Park."
Senator Hill says the Government is concerned that the report identifies a breach of the Environmental Requirements by mining company ERA in relation to reporting of the incident.
"While I acknowledge the Supervising Scientist's judgement that there was 'no deliberate attempt to deceive authorities', improvements clearly need to be made. The acceptance by ERA of the Supervising Scientist's recommendations is a positive first step in this direction. The Supervising Scientist will work with ERA to ensure these improvements are delivered promptly and in full."
Senator Hill says that as Minister responsible for the Office of Supervising Scientist (OSS), he endorses the recommendations relating to improved environmental monitoring.
"We will take the necessary action to extend the statutory environmental monitoring program to provide an additional early warning capability."
Senator Hill has welcomed the positive response of the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Minchin to the report's findings.
"As the Minister responsible for regulation of mining and processing of uranium ore, Senator Minchin's support of the Supervising Scientist's recommendations is vital to ensuring the changes required are delivered. His strong response reflects the Government's continuing commitment to ensure that mining at Ranger does not damage the World Heritage values of the nearby Kakadu National Park."
Senator Hill says the Supervising Scientist's report will be made available to the World Heritage Bureau in Paris.
"We have previously advised the Bureau of the preliminary findings of the Supervising Scientist. We have also provided a comprehensive report on the range of measures already being taken to protect Kakadu National Park and to improve the social conditions for its traditional owners.
"This latest report and the government's decisive response will give the Bureau even greater confidence that Australia is fulfilling its responsibility to protect and conserve the World Heritage values of this unique region," Senator Hill said.
27 June 2000
Media contact - Matt Brown on 02 6277 7640 or 0419 693 515
The report is available online at: http://www.environment.gov.au/ssg/ranger-leak