Western Australian Mines Minister Norman Moore yesterday dismissed Federal Labor candidate Ian Bishop’s concerns about an old Western Mining-BHP Billiton uranium test site as “scaremongering.”
Bishop, who will contest the Federal seat of O’Connor in the election later this year, had called on the WA Government to put measures in place to stop children accessing the test site.
The gates to the site, located near Hannans North about five to six kilometres north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, were wrecked by an unknown party.
According to Moore, it appears that vandals may be responsible.
“However, there is no evidence young children have accessed the site, as claimed by Mr Bishop,” he said.
“To suggest the State Government is inadequately protecting children is simply scaremongering
“I find it unlikely that young children would cycle or walk five kilometres in summer temperatures to visit the site.”
The Minister said BHP had been informed of the damage and was addressing the matter.
The site was used by Western Mining, now BHP Nickel West, in the early 1980s for test processing of ore from the Yeelirrie mine, south of Wiluna.
“About 13,000 tonnes of ore were processed at the site in 1980-81, meaning about 5500 m3 of tailings was deposited at the tailings storage facility,” Moore said.
“The tailings facility was decommissioned in 1986, some three years after the plant was decommissioned and placed in care and maintenance.
“Progressive demolition saw infrastructure removed, decontaminated and buried before the site was backfilled, capped and rehabilitated with native vegetation.”
Surveys since then had confirmed radiation levels were similar to background levels.
“Nothing is ‘dumped’ at the site as Mr Bishop’s claims suggest,” Moore said.
“The material that is currently safely buried is old plant and tailings and those areas are clearly signed.
“Although a number of Radiation experts have surveyed the site to ensure it is safe, I will ask the Department to carry out its own survey to ease any community concerns that Mr Bishop’s scaremongering has unnecessarily enflamed.”