NT News: Ute gotta be kidding

Publish Date:
20th February 2014

Shock 'n' ore at load on ute

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by Connor Byrne

A LOAD of uranium ore has been spotted on the back of a ute driving towards a mine in Kakadu National  Park. The ute was on a return journey from a laboratory in Perth to the Ranger uranium mine near Jabiru  yesterday. The drums contain 410kg of low grade uranium ore.

It was photographed by a driver on the road, who said it was ‘‘interesting’’. ‘‘I would have at least thrown a  tarp over it,’’ the source said. ‘‘I’ve never seen it before. He was going quite slow.’’ The ute belongs to hazardous goods transport specialist company Enlog. The are a licensed transport provider and the material was in ‘‘triple-bagged’’ drums.

Energy Resources Australia Rio Tinto spokesman Dan Hall said the transport of the material was guided by regulations enforced by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.
‘‘There are strict codes in place,’’ he said. When asked how often the material was transported in this  fashion, he said ‘‘regularly’’. ‘‘I’m not going to put a figure on it,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s on an as-needs basis.
‘‘We regularly send them to the lab for testing that’s in line with ARPANSA.
‘‘We’ve a licence to do it because we are a uranium mine. They are transported in accordance with code a that materials are secured and also includes emergency procedures.’’
Mr Hall said the driver also had a checklist to complete in case of an accident.

Justin O’Brien, chief executive of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represent the Mirrar  traditional owners, was shocked when told about the photograph. ‘‘That’s very far from normal. It’s not my idea of how the most regulated mine in the world would operate,’’ he said.
‘‘I find it astounding that this material can be transported at low security in such a vehicle in such a manner as the back of a ute.
‘‘This is bizarre.’’