ABC: Uranium miner defends moving radioactive goods on the back of a ute

Publish Date:
20th February 2014

Read full story and hear ECNT's Lauren Mellor on ABC Darwin website

Uranium Miner Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) says moving radio-active material in barrels in the back of a ute is in accordance with national guidelines, after a photograph emerged showing that was happening in the Northern Territory.

The photograph showed a ute carrying two green barrels bearing warnings that they contain radio-active material, apparently being moved with only a rope over the top of them on the Arnhem Highway.

ERA said while the practice was in accordance with guidelines the company was reviewing what had occurred on this occasion.

"ERA's normal practice is to have them contained in sealed drums and placed in an enclosed box," the company said in a statement.

It said the material in the barrels was "geological samples" and did not have any processed uranium ore.

"These samples were secured and transported in accordance with national and state safe transport guidelines," ERA said.

But Lauren Mellor from Nuclear Free NT said transporting goods by ute in such a manner was dangerous.

"It defies common sense and community expectations that this kind of material isn't physically secured," Ms Mellor said.

"Especially in Wet Season transport on the Arnhem Highway, we know all the risks associated with that," Ms Mellor told the ABC.

"It really boggles the mind that a company under the spotlight as ERA are at the moment, with three separate investigations into the regulation of their mine ongoing, that they are not taking a closer look at how people feel about this kind of dangerous cargo being transported on their roads," she said.

She said incidents concerning the handling of ERA's radio-active goods kept "poppping up" and clarity on what the regulations for moving radio-active material was needed.

The contractor working for ERA that was moving the material - EnLog Pacific Holdings - said NT Worksafe had confirmed the transport of the goods were in full compliance with all legislative requirements.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) which is the nuclear regulator, was unable to immediately comment on issue.