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Nuclear battles in Australia

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green

The fight isn't over to stop the Cameco's Yeelirrie uranium project in WA

Conservation groups and Tjiwarl Traditional Owners in Western Australia have vowed to continue the fight against uranium mining at Yeelirrie in the Northern Goldfields, despite the news on February 8 that their Supreme Court action to halt the mine had been unsuccessful.

If and when market conditions improve, Canadian mining company Cameco plans to construct a 9 km open mine pit, requiring clearing of 2,421 hectares of native vegetation and generating 36 million tonnes of mine waste that would remain radioactive for thousands of years. The mine would also threaten the extinction of multiple species of unique underground fauna.

The Conservation Council of WA and members of the Tjiwarl Native Titles group sought judicial review of the WA Government's approval of the project, which went against the advice of the state Environmental Protection Agency to reject the proposal because of unacceptable risks of microfauna species extinction. The Minister for the Environment initially upheld the position of the EPA on appeal, yet turned around and took a position to the contrary in letting the mine proceed. The court case has put a hold on the Commonwealth approval for the project which has not been granted.

Vicky Abdullah, Tjiwarl Native Title holder, said: "This is a very disappointing and sad day for our people, our land, and our future. We have fought long and hard to protect Yeelirrie and stop the uranium project. But the fight is not over ‒ this is only one part of our campaign, and we will not allow this decision to stop us now. It's a bad decision, but it's not the end decision."

Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen said: "The verdict demonstrates a fundamental deficiency in the state's environmental laws, which currently allow a Minister to sign off on the extinction of multiple species with the stroke of a pen. The way the law has been interpreted by the court shows the Minister can ignore the EPA's public assessment process, and instead consider secret information in making a decision with has irreversible impacts on the environment.

"Today we stand knowing that community efforts have been successful in preventing any uranium mines operating in WA, despite two terms of a pro-uranium Government. We will continue to work with Traditional Owners to keep WA nuclear free and I am confident that despite today's decision we will continue to be successful in that goal."

Yeelirrie was approved by the former conservative Liberal Party state government. After the March 2017 state election, the incoming Labor Party government said that previously-approved mines, including Yeelirrie, could proceed but no others would be permitted.

Radioactive Exposure Tour I ‒ South Australia

The South Australian Radioactive Exposure Tour is a journey through Australia's nuclear landscape. The radtours have exposed thousands of people to the realities of 'radioactive racism' and the environmental and social impacts of uranium mining, radioactive waste and nuclear bomb testing.

Run by Friends of the Earth, this year's radtour will take place from Friday 30th March to Sunday 8th April.

This year we will visit communities in Kimba and the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, who are fighting to stop radioactive waste dumps on their land.

We'll head for Arabunna country, watch the sunset over Lake Eyre and see the Mound Springs − oases which are fed by the underlying Great Artesian Basin and host unique flora and fauna. Sadly, some of the Mound Springs have been adversely affected or destroyed altogether by the massive water intake of the Olympic Dam mine. The Tour will visit BHP's Olympic Dam uranium mine at Roxby Downs, the largest uranium deposit in the world.

In Woomera, we'll hear first-hand accounts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu Field. We'll also stop by Nurrungar, the desert surveillance base that closed in 1999.

Participants get to experience consensus decision making, desert camping and vegetarian cooking in affinity groups while travelling to some of the most beautiful and ecologically significant environments in Australia. If you're interested in learning about the industry or anti-nuclear campaigning, the radtour is an essential start or refresher.

International guests are welcome (many have participated over the years). One of the features of this year's radtour will be the participation of a number of Nobel Peace Prize-winning campaigners from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

The costs are (leaving from Melbourne or Adelaide): concession A$600 − waged A$800 − solidarity A$1000.

If you would like to register your interest in taking part in the 2018 Radioactive Exposure Tour, please complete the form posted at

Information on past radtours is posted at

Contact: / 0417 318 368

Radioactive Exposure Tour II ‒ Western Australia

The upcoming Western Australian Radioactive Exposure Tour will be a 12-day journey to visit four proposed uranium mines in WA – Mulga Rock, Yeelirrie, Wiluna and Kintyre.

Run by the Ban Uranium Mining Permanently (BUMP) collective, the WA radtour will take place from Friday 9th March to Wednesday 21st March, 2018.

We will visit communities in Kalgoorlie, Laverton, Leonora, Wiluna, Newman and Parnngurr who are all fighting against uranium mine proposals on their land.

We'll head for Wangkatha country, listen to the Sounds on the Saltlake by Tjuma Pulka Media Aboriginal Corporation, before heading towards Mulga Rock proposed uranium mine. At Yeelirrie, we'll hear from Tjiwarl Traditional Owners stories of their 40-year fight to stop the proposed uranium mine and their Supreme Court action.

We will stop at the gates of Toro Energy, proposed Lake Way uranium mine and hear from experienced campaigners. From Wiluna, we will join and hear from Martu Traditional Owners campaigning to stop uranium mining on their country. We will head through Karlamilyi to Kintyre.

Desert camping, camp fires and cooking in affinity groups are all a part of the tour, while travelling to some of the most beautiful and ecologically significant environments in Western Australia.

For information and to register your interest: www.walkingforcountry/radtour, 0401 909 332,

Standing Strong I ‒ South Australians defeat dump

Standing Strong is a new book (and e-book) celebrating the victory of South Australians in their 2015‒17 campaign to stop an international high-level nuclear waste dump being built in the state. The book is online at and

Published by the No Dump Alliance (NDA), Standing Strong covers the key issues championed by Aboriginal and civil society groups opposed to the plan including the lack of Traditional Owner consent, dubious economics, the risks to people and the environment and the impact on future generations.

"This book documents how our community said no to the threat of radioactive waste," said Yankunytjatjara woman and NDA spokesperson Karina Lester. "We know nuclear is not the answer for our lands and people, we have always said no. It is important that all politicians get the clear message that nuclear waste and nuclear risk is not wanted in SA."

South Australians are still battling a plan by the federal government to establish a national nuclear waste dump in the state (

Standing Strong II ‒ Northern Territorians defeat Jabiluka uranium mine

Mirarr Traditional Owners in the Northern Territory and their many supporters are this year celebrating and commemorating the 20th anniversary of the mass movement that eventually defeated Energy Resources of Australia's plan to mine the Jabiluka uranium deposit. Hundreds of thousands of Australians took to the streets, thousands made the long trek to the Jabiluka blockade (which lasted for eight months), and hundreds were arrested at the mine-site including Mirarr Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula.

The first of a number of initiatives to mark the 20th anniversary is a 'Standing Strong' calendar featuring powerful and beautiful images to commemorate the historic victory. It includes pictures from Mirarr country as well as from Jabiluka actions and support rallies across Australia and around the world.

The Standing Strong calendar is online at

To order hard copies:


Australian Nuclear Free Alliance

Last year, the Aboriginal-led Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) celebrated its 20th birthday. ANFA has fought countless nuclear battle over the past two decades, many of them successfully.

Photos of ANFA's 20th anniversary meeting are online ( and a book about ANFA's history can be ordered from

Australian Map is an online resource ‒ along with an A2 poster ‒ documenting Australia's nuclear history and current struggles. Click on a site to read about it and to view pictures and videos. The website covers uranium mines, waste dumps, atomic bomb test sites, US military and spy bases, etc.