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Australia: Uranium Dust Threat Real?

Posted by feww on September 28, 2009

Future storms may contain radioactive dust, if mine proposal goes ahead—Environmentalist

An Australian documentary maker says that  future dust storms in the country may contain radioactive materials, if the mining company BHP Billiton’s proposal to turn a uranium mine into an open-cut mine goes ahead.

David Bradbury, a renowned filmmaker and environmental activist, who has made four documentaries on nuclear issues, says an  environmental impact study suggest that about 70 million tons of radioactive tailing would be deposited at South Australia’s Olympic Dam uranium mine grounds each year.

The tailings are contaminated with alpha radiation, he says, which is proven to be carcinogenic to all animals, including humans.

“My grave concern is that with the open-cut mine expansion that BHP Billiton wants permission from state and federal governments to go ahead with, that the radioactive tailings left behind will blow over the eastern coast centres of the most populated cities of Australia,” he said.

Bradbury concerns came amid last Wednesday  worst ever dust storm in the Sydney and Brisbane areas as  red dust blown in from the outback shrouded the region, causing problems for people, especially those with asthma, and others with heart and lung conditions.

“[Since] the dust storms…  originated from Woomera, and which is right next door to the Olympic Dam mine at Roxby Downs, these [storms] could blow those tailings across the face of Australia,” said Bradbury.

However, Australian scientists are playing down fears, assuring the public that there is nothing to worry about [sic.]

Barry Noller an Associate Professor from the University of Queensland, whose research projects include Risk Assessment of Mined Land,  was quoted as saying that most of the particles from the uranium mines in the outback are simply too heavy to be carried by the wind over long distances.

“In a big dust storm, the dust is not going to come from one isolated site, it is going to be mixed in with dust from a [wide] area and diluted considerably,” said Noller.

FEWW Comments:

Come again? What if the storms were stronger and blew more sand more frequently, say, twice more, perhaps five times, or ten time as much every year? The recent atmospheric trends and new patterns set by climate change certainly suggest such extreme scenarios as highly probable!

That’s the most ridiculous comment an Associate Professor could possibly make, even one from the University of Queensland, without quantifying the extent of the problem. The stronger the storms the more dust they carry over populated areas, and with it goes more of the heavier particles.

Here’s what the Aussies, even their corporate media, should demand to know:

How much stronger must the storms be, and how frequently must they below before they pose,  (i) some risk, (ii) significant risk to the public health, threatening human and animal well being?

Should this professor make similarly stupid, biased and unqualified remarks again, the Moderators will have to investigate his role and function as a government scientist with regulatory bias.

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4 Responses to “Australia: Uranium Dust Threat Real?”

  1. […] Australia: Uranium Dust Threat Real? […]

  2. […] Australia: Uranium Dust Threat Real? […]

  3. Rose said

    Hello, would you or any of your readers be interested in participating in an online survey regarding public opinion on pollution and emission trading in Australia? It is completely anonymous and should take 5-10 minutes to complete. It is for a research project I am doing at RMIT University which will not be published, however participants are welcome to ask me for the results upon completion in November. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my supervisor with any queries – details included at beginning of survey:

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=DmDHuHfJYvHNuM76TPOEXg_3d_3d

    Many thanks, Rose

  4. feww said

    Meanwhile AAP reported:

    “HOT and windy weather on the weekend saw the North Coast hit by a second dust storm.

    “The Bureau of Meteorology said the 200km long dust storm developed in South Australia. It hit western NSW just after 7am, but did not arrive on the North Coast until Saturday afternoon.

    http://www.northernstar.com.au/story/2009/09/28/dust-storm-hits-northern-rivers-again/

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