Update on leach tank incident at Ranger mine

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Ranger Mine Image credit: flickr User: Dr Snafu

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) are to assist the Government-appointed taskforce to investigate the failure of a leach tank at the Ranger Mine that occurred on Saturday December 7th, 2013.

Ranger Mine Image credit: flickr User:  Dr Snafu
Ranger Mine
Image credit: flickr User: Dr Snafu

According to Chief Executive Andrea Sutton, ERA has acknowledged the terms of reference for a joint investigation and review of the accident and will be part of the taskforce consisting of regulatory authorities and key stakeholders, as it moves to address the terms of reference.

“There will be a full investigation into the incident and we are cooperating with Commonwealth and Territory regulators, and key stakeholders,” Ms Sutton said.

“We are committed to working with the taskforce on its objectives for an investigation and review that will be delivered in a timely manner.”

According to the media release, ERA has already held discussions with regulators and key stakeholders on Ranger mine’s Minesite Technical Committee (MTS) with regards to the cleaning operations and the ongoing regulatory response to the incident.

The MTC consists of members of the Northern Department of Mines and Energy, the Office of the Supervising Scientist, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) and the Northern Land Council.

ERA has been acting under the advisement of an external expert structural engineer on its clean-up operations. According to the expert’s assessment, the support structure surrounding the remaining leach tanks, as well as the remaining leach tanks themselves are structurally sound.

In the meantime, monitoring at Ranger Mine has shown that radiation levels are within normal parameters and that the creeks and billabongs around the site have not been affected by the leakage.

A report featured on the West Australian revealed that the accident occurred after a burst tank at the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park released up to a million litres of acidic radioactive slurry, which represents the biggest nuclear accidents in Australian history.

However, the release is said to have been fully contained onsite without damaging the ecosystem of the National Park.