HAZMAT in Australia on Saturday, 07 December, 2013 at 13:04 (01:04 PM) UT
A burst tank at the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park has released what traditional owners say is up to a million litres of acidic radioactive slurry, in what they describe as one of the biggest nuclear accidents in Australian history. The site could be closed for up to two months as mine operators seek to contain it, said Justin O’Brien, chief executive of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), which represents the traditional Mirarr people of the area. At 1am on Saturday morning a hole was discovered in the side of a leach tank, with staff evacuated before it collapsed. “This is up to a million litres of radiological material in the form of an acid exploding from a drum, bending a crane, twisting metal all around it, pouring down into stormwater drains, with 20 or so people ordered to evacuate,” said Mr O’Brien. It is the third security breach at the site in just over a month. Mine operator Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) is seeking to mine at the site for a project called Ranger 3 Deeps but has agreed to do so only with the consent of the traditional owners.