The spill of toxic copper concentrate from a train derailment off a privately-run rail line in central Australia raises substantial questions for Environment Minister Tony Burke about the environmental assessment for the Olympic Dam expansion, the Australian Greens said today.
"Since the use of this rail line is critical to BHP's massive Olympic Dam expansion, Tony Burke needs to urgently reconsider his approval of the project in the light of new concerns," Australian Greens Acting Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
"A spill of toxic copper concentrate into the central Australian environment is bad enough, but Olympic Dam would be a radioactive disaster waiting to happen.
"What different conditions from those approved for the toxic copper concentrate transport did Minister Burke require for the transport of uranium oxide across the country? If none, then the Minister has placed both the environment and local communities at great risk and needs to immediately recognise just how dangerous mining and transport of uranium is, and reconsider immediately.
"The private operators of this rail line apparently thought that sending a four wheel drive across the bridge 7 hours earlier was sufficient testing before the train came through. Clearly this is not reasonable and cannot be sufficient if uranium oxides are transported along the line.
"Scientists are predicting that extreme weather events like that which triggered the flash flood that led to this derailment will become more frequent and more severe as the globe's climate continues to worsen."