Uranium – is it a country? Tracking the origins of nuclear power.

we are here in front of the trickiest a nuclear Center we can see the water vapor getting out of the cooling towers of the enrichment plant and we also see the two chimneys of the nuclear plant very small chimneys so we are measuring the level of gamma radiation here we can see that it’s a little bit below 200 counts per second which is already abnormal but if I move my body my body is no more stopping the gamma radiation coming from those drums containing uranium and the level of radiation is increasing it’s about 270 counts per second so our bodies are stopping a little bit of radiation which means that the energy they send in the air is creating damage in our body if we go closer those drums are containing uranium and they are attending gamma radiation into the air around closer to the gamma emitting source so now we have more than 300 counts per second this level of radiation is about four times above natural value in this area which is seventy or sixty counts per second so the people who live around here receive gamma radiation from the radioactive material which is stored on this site iranian isn’t it lovely things yes I chemicals in it no I don’t know what is your country is like isn’t it like is it like Betania yeah like some sort of explosive or something like that Iranian it here thing I don’t know in English winspool paints a nice think i might say it’s used for good and for bad the stuff that they make nuclear nuclear stuff of that’s dangerous that uranium oh you mean

you we have to be really really careful because we are dealing with uranium on the corner here is emergency services on the right this is where our big medical surgery using your job with uranium just in there in that sea container we saw that black powder into those drums at 34 gallon drums or 205 litre drums and respect me 22 those sea containers individually we put 48 in a sea container we seal it we put these stickers on the outside and it’s ready to go down to LA no one knows enough of boundary time especially up here they’re not familiar because all that stuff’s all new stuff to to the people that are living up within this area and when mining company do come in to the town to talk about and advise the communities of you know what’s going to happen they don’t tell you the potential dangers of that mining they tell you all the good things that’s going to happen what about 34 for uranium mining within a radius of 50 kilometer so unwell rocks read about 100 from me but we go to the east of probably looking at 50 kilometers so say within a radius of 150 kilometers you’ve got about three or four big mines your own of mine just going to happen any mineral any minerals or anything like that was seen by Aboriginal people as poison and they never touch that they never went near that there’s always stories that are and they’re terrible stories a bad story saying that you shouldn’t go near that place because that is a bad place that place is poisonous Australia is one of the world’s major suppliers of uranium Australia’s very prospective for uranium and we have pretty good prospects for increasing the number of Mines Australia exports about 10,000 tons of uranium a year in 2006-2007 the export value of that was about five hundred ninety six million dollars its forecast to grow to 972 million dollars in this financial year and to about 1.3 billion dollars a year by 2011 2012 uranium in our eyes is a very special minimum it’s unlike any other mineral on earth it’s linked to the production of the world’s worst industrial wastes and is linked to the creation the spread the proliferation of the world’s worst ever weapons so from an Australian perspective as a country that holds around thirty-five or forty percent of the world’s uranium the thing that we are hoping to do and the and the thing that we see is our responsibility and the best thing we could do for the world is keep the genie in the bottle the extreme view of Agriculture and source economics has identified 15 to 20 Romanian prospects which could potentially become mines in the next 10

or 15 years I’m so Australia’s very prospective for uranium Australia is one of the world’s major suppliers of uranium people want our product they’re going to keep wanting it the British are just committed to the nuclear power industry for at least another 70 years so people want our product and we can supply and what we’re looking for here is whoosh onion mush onion will grow in the soft area like that like to see it’s pretty soft top three on three so you would know in an airy feeling for Bush anyen you would look in an area like this and if it’s a bit hard sometimes you’ll find a bit clay but you have a rock and you beat that ground right in the nuclear industry the first step is uranium mining the companies have to get uranium ore from the soil and to put it as a surface this is uranium mining then this uranium ore has to be crushed and the uranium element has to be get out of the hole it is called an Iranian meal and you put the dirt away and then it’s a very horn with onions you figure 2 little Union there that’s what you’re digging for this will produce yellow cake which is uranium concentrate it will then go to a conversion plant to change with uranium into a gas uf6 if another little big one ray so that’s really cool boo hyun jung woo Hyun Jung 3 battalion we call yoga then you have a plant that will use these gas you have six to convert it again into uranium metal and prepare the powder and which will be compressed and heated to make the small pellets and to prepare the fuel the rod but what you do if you paid with like that way you can cook them you can cook them in the air here after this fuel fabrication the fuel will go to the nuclear plant and you will have their the nuclear reactions and this fuel will become highly highly radioactive it’s called spent fuel and you’re all why the important thing is with cyber’s everything else they are people try to you when if you dig that out you’ve gotta cover back in it and put it back in again thank Phil back in so the rest of the bush hanging in there will be there but then you have management of the waste spent fuel other kind of low-level waste and all the industry of how to manage those radioactive waste obviously the link between all those steps is transportation by train by truck by plane I say this in my era Bona language yoga yoga Mickey java muku what I’m saying there this bush onion is very good food the Western society it’s about now rather than the long they belong to it’s what we can do now what we can hold up now what created and and wilke we can hold up I think the people from the Western world don’t realize that and don’t understand that by doing what they’re doing to the lands polluting and damaging that land they’re actually doing that to themselves in the long term yeah what I’m saying you this is my grandmother’s country and my great-grandmother Stanley and my mother’s country I was born here grew up here live deal meal I never left it you know what we live now it’s like the back in the air God’s own country look we had real concerns in Australia about the long-term impacts of uranium mining the long-term social impacts the long-term cultural impacts on indigenous people obviously the long-term environmental impacts from leaking tailings dams and from contaminated water we also concerns about the long-term financial impacts because what

we’ve found so often across the mining sector in Australia is that mining companies quickly formed quickly identify deposits of whatever that mineral that’s in demand is I access it process it sell it and then they finish and what we have is a funny situation we have a legal requirement and a legal recognition in some of the authorities and guidelines and regulations about uranium mining that says the mining company has a responsibility for 10,000 years to isolate and contain radioactive tailings at mines the mining industry says it will all be okay it’ll all be good trust us it’ll be clean and safe we’ll all get jobs we’ll all get rich and then we look at the reality of the mining industry we look at a reality of leaks and spills we’ll look at a reality of secrecy and denial we see a reality of underperformance and coverup we see a reality of a lack of responsibility and of company after company walking away from their long-term responsibilities so it’s one thing the words are one thing the actions are another and the actions also have to be measured over the length of the threat and the threat is thousands of years at least it all began the year then I was born back in 1955 they started processing uranium from a radium hill the site operator from about nineteen fifty five to nineteen sixty and then it went into receivership and then they started processing mineral sands and that was operating until about nineteen sixty-two the company then in a part of ways we put Peru but left the site as it was so it was unfenced and there were six tailings dams left there and so the local children used to play and swim in those tailings dams with the radioactive waste and then in the 1970s a local group of the friends of yours was formed and they campaigned very heavily to have the site fenced-in to have radioactive signs put up mining companies can say whatever they want politicians can say whatever they want in a decade that might be a politician anymore in two decades they won’t be a mining company anymore in four decades they won’t be alive anymore against the spectrum of 10,000 years of threat their promises are pretty hollow I really did like it there you know like living in kakadu national park virtually so you know I liked it I liked the fishing or like my kids you know it was good good school and yeah just come home mainly because a family really cuz it’s a long way away yeah about 18 months after I come home I started forgetting things and you know leaving things everywhere and getting run down so I went and seen the doctor and had some blood tests and I’ve got hairy cell leukemia which I’ve you know had to have chemo and had more spleen out and and luckily enough i’m still here today so yeah but not so lucky for my boss that I work for he died and his brother died I’m Aneesa and one of the plant operators died and it’s just the two brothers are where they were younger than I was and I was just surprised to hear that you know they died from from a cancer the word protesters they’re protesting against it but you know because I was young and naive I didn’t you know didn’t think anything of it it was just a job you know if you were getting half as much money or eight hundred dollars a week you’d be thinking wrong you know maybe I should be joining maybe you should be doing this you know maybe I shouldn’t be you know exposing myself to some health risks but when you’ve been paid probably three or four times as much as that when we think okay it’ll be all right for a little while and then i’ll i’ll give it up i’ll go and do something else

you the moment were about five and a half thousand people will grow to ten maybe twelve thousand people we have a symmetry in roxby downs with no body unit and that symmetry has been in existence for about 18 years and still no II know mine’s been very important for South Australia that’s created a lot of employment but i think the mine bhp billiton is very proactive in trying to make sure that whatever they’re doing is going to also enhance their environment they’re not here to be doing what they can and exploiting or or creating problems environmentally they actually have a big team of people making sure that everything they do is done the right way so they can leave less of an impact upon our environment which I think scrape you I don’t work for bhp billiton I work for local government as I said but I do know that bhp billiton a fanatical almost on safety I don’t wish to to blow sing bhp billiton’s praises but it’s a fact they are everything they do they try to make sure that it’s going to come come at a you know less of an impact damage be more hopefully a chance to mine but also to be respectful of the resources around the natural resources and so I think they’re doing that well apparently they there was some yellowcake found in the township in containers well I’d know nothing about that that’s only what I heard so I really couldn’t comment on that because if if that happened that’s absolutely you know bhp billiton would be absolutely screaming it was shocking and I don’t know I’ve never heard that by bonnie i can’t say i’ve heard it I’ve heard it on a grapevine but not factual so I wouldn’t I wouldn’t know but yeah I find it hard to believe but again I don’t work for bhp billiton and I’ve got no reason to defend them but i do know as i said before the safety procedures are extremely important to them and if that ever did happen there would be serious ramifications without doubt yeah but i don’t know it’s only been a grapevine thing I couldn’t say that’s a fact

welcome to our water week everybody it’s very very hard to think about water usage so we’re here thing about BHP’s water usage we just wanna rainy mind vietri saxer I was 35 million liters of water a day 35 million liters of water every day goes into the bhp rubs freedoms uranium mine we don’t think this is okay and we’re happy to stand out in silly suits on waste barrels be late for work and they’re hanging around here because we don’t think it’s good in our first rains so I’ve good enough for the people who are going to use our uranium overseas we’re all on one planet and we need to conserve our water across the world so we can have water for future generations love the toxic uranium mines this is the lifeline to the mine six meters down below on without this pipeline that mine could not exist that’s coming from the Great Artesian basin without this pipeline here that that mine could not survive at the moment the mine draws on the Great Artesian Basin for its water supply it in fact uses about three quarters of the of it’s allowable allowable arrangement it doesn’t all that it has to do and what the what the studies of that show and what the regulation of that shows is that is that the great is that the Great Artesian Basin Basin is sustainable notwithstanding notwithstanding the fact that the Olympic Dam draws on it for its water supply the only thing about that is that it’s the mining company themselves who do the monitoring and clicked all the data and if they want to manipulate that data they can’t because no one else sees it if there’s an impact on the base and you wouldn’t know because they’re not going to tell you that any air because you said livelihood that’s written water that’s coming out of the Great Artesian basin and I suppose you call it artificial down the track will see natural water escaping from the Great Artesian basin in the mound Springs on that so it’s amazing to look at this dry and just out looking land you wouldn’t expect to find so much water below but there is yeah again that the the the changes since the war since the mining mining you’ve brought a depression that you’ll see in their seed of the depression the party didn’t have that of it they were labeled filling across there rather than a depression Aboriginal people who live in the area have absolutely noticed the natural springs and natural outlets for great artesian basin water call mound Springs which have been really important both culturally and for ceremonies significance they’re drying up flow rates are reduced these are significant impacts and the appetite for water Pat Olympic Dam mine is only increasing the Olympic Dam mine owned by the world’s largest mining company bhp billiton every day sucks are at least 35 30 to 35 billion litres of water every day without costs and suck set up free from ancient fossil ground water reserves

if you get this uranium and you bring it at the surface the companies will make sort of selection the most active rocks will be sent to the uranium mill that will prepare yellowcake uranium concentrate but they will leave a lot of radioactive mud called tailings remember that that timings are a problem with a lot of colleagues are an issue with all minds so you have you have to manage tailings with ore mines and you have to manage change with uranium mines as well and the two ways of doing that are either to build what are called tailings dams which at the end of the life of the mine are capped with with all and made safe and or secondly to put the tailings back into the into the mine and cover them over now both of those ways are both best practice and and environmental best practice of the engineering best practice and environmental best practice that they have the composition of powder it’s readily eroded by window by water and those tailings are going to remain hazardous for thousands of years the volume is so large that the company don’t intend to they intend to leave it on the surface and not move it you know that they’re looking to just leave it on site some people say the tailings benign or neutral and that they’re not a problem tailings are in fact less radioactive and less dangerous than the materials from which say from which they can’t because the uranium oxide is the Iranian war has been has been extracted the absolute reality of tailings is that they contain 75 to 80 percent of the original radioactivity of the ore body the only radioactive element that has taken out in the process is uranium 308 which is one of a host of elements and that material which was previously secure and inert has now been broken up and mobilized tailings are a profoundly serious environmental management problem those who downplay the seriousness of this problem either have not read the technical detail or they have read that technical detail and they’ve decided that that’s not as important as the Prophet bottom line you’re radiant mining in Australia is heavily regulated it’s heavily scrutinized there are laws at the national level there are laws governing environmental protection of the national level there are laws governing Environmental Protection at the state level there are laws governing the mining of uranium and the transport of uranium

we are trying to overtake this track which is transporting uranium from the concentration plans to the enrichment plant and probably when we will overtake him we will measure excess radiation in our car so at the moment the level of radiation is normal about 60 counts per second but when we will cross over take say the truck we might measure an excess of radiation it’s much higher than the natural radiation level which is about less than 100 so at the moment we measure one thousand and six hundred counts per second which is very high compared to natural radiation which is below 100 and you will see that the level of radiation will decrease because we are getting away from the radioactive truck so now we don’t measure any excess radiation from this drug in France we had approximately 200 uranium mines today they are all closed but the contamination is still there so we checked i would say approximately 20 of those uranium mines in france and we discovered the same problems everywhere water contamination sediments in lakes and rivers contamination aquatic plants contamination the fact that radioactive rocks from the mine have been reused even for built constructing buildings of roads and the problems are the same at all different mines grad means commission for research and independent information about radiation so it’s an NGO which has been created in 1986 just after the Chernobyl accident because a French government said that in France we had absolutely no contamination from Chernobyl which was wrong so a group of people decided to set up this organization to our scientists to buy equipment and to create an independent laboratory so our action is to make measurements and to improve people knowledge people awareness about the problems linked with radiation in the environment radiation at own radiation at hospital and obviously nuclear energy and its impact you know those radiations Alpha Beta Gamma they carry a lot of energy for example a typical gamma radiation will have an energy of for example 1 million electron volts while the visible light from the Sun as an energy of one or two three electron volts so those radiations ionizing radiations they carry a lot of energy you know that if you spend too much time exposed to solar arrays you can get skin cancer so you can imagine that if you receive those alpha beta gamma radiation which are much more powerful they can create bricks in our

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