BHP BILLITON AGM: URANIUM MINER FAILS THE TEST IN NATIONAL WATER WEEK

MEDIA RELEASE 23/10/08
BHP BILLITON AGM: URANIUM MINER FAILS THE TEST IN NATIONAL WATER WEEK
 
With today's Annual General Meeting of BHP Billiton in London coinciding with National Water Week in Australia, anti-nuclear campaigners are protesting outside the company's Melbourne office calling on it to address its outrageous water profligacy and mismanagement at the Roxby Downs uranium mine.

Friends of the Earth nuclear campaigner Jim Green said: "The daily extraction of 35 million litres of Great Artesian Basin water for the Roxby mine has destroyed some of the precious Mound Springs and adversely impacted on others. Friends of the Earth has monitored this destruction over several decades in conjunction with Arabunna Traditional Owners. BHP Billiton should be forced to pay for the water it uses – it is unacceptable that the company pays nothing for its massive water take despite recently posting a record A$22.4 billion profit.

"The SA Roxby Downs Indenture Act provides BHP Billiton the legal authority to override important state legislation including the Water Resources Act 1997. These legal exemptions and overrides should be repealed. Federal environment minister Peter Garrett and water minister Penny Wong should ensure that their South Australian colleagues act on the anachronistic practices at Roxby Downs.

Mia Pepper from the Roxstop Action Group added: "There have been numerous spills and leaks at Roxby Downs, the largest being a leak of five billion litres from the tailings dams in the 1990s. Birds drink from the tailings dam and drop dead - a 2004 study recorded more than 100 bird deaths over a four-day period. Mining consultants noted in a 2004 report that radioactive slurry was deposited off a lined area of a tailings pond requiring 'urgent remedial measures'.

"Massive, unsustainable water extraction at no cost; serious, adverse impacts on the precious and fragile Mound Spring ecosystems; inadequate management; indefensible legal privileges and exemptions – could BHP Billiton possibly be setting a worse example in National Water Week?

"All to mine WMD feedstock to flog off to untrustworthy nuclear weapons states such as those in Russia and China," Ms Pepper concluded.

What: Colourful, peaceful protest against BHP Billiton's uranium mining at Roxby Downs by members of Friends of the Earth, Roxstop Action Group, Nuclear Free Australia and other groups.


Where: BHP Billiton office, 180 Lonsdale St, Melbourne.
When: Today, Thurs Oct 23, from midday.

Contact:
Jim Green - Friends of the Earth - 0417 318 368
Mia Pepper - Roxstop Action Group - 0415 380 808