Aborigines and uranium: Monitoring the health hazards
The Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review Draft Report deals with Health and Safety issues (Chapter 6) and with Environmental Impacts (Chapter 7). At p.63, the report states that ‘there are legacy problems associated with the Nuclear industry’, and that ‘protecting the people must be a high priority’. The report notes that ‘there may be incidents at the mines that give rise to non-routine radiation exposure’ and that at Ranger ‘incidents occurred in 1983 and 2004’ (p.71). In this context, the Review raises the complex question of how risk is perceived, and how the public and the experts at times have different perceptions of risk.
This paper specifically addresses several of the issues that come within the Review’s terms of reference. It may differ from most of the submissions and consultations to date in that it deals with essentially one critical case study of a definable Aboriginal community living in the vicinity of uranium mining and milling. But it also offers a positive model for the ongoing monitoring of health protection and prevention measures that could be adopted for uranium mining operations elsewhere in Australia.