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Kakadu traditional owners join worldwide Indigenous move against nuclear industry

Publish Date: 30th October 2010

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The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, representing the Mirarr traditional Aboriginal owners of
uranium mining areas in Kakadu National Park, yesterday joined with Indigenous people from
across the world to condemn the disproportionate impact of the nuclear industry on their lives and
land. In a statement to the 19th congress of the Nobel Peace prize-winning International
Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) held in Basel, Switzerland, Indigenous
groups from Australia, Canada, India, Mali, Namibia, Niger and the United States called for an end
to all uranium mining and processing, irresponsible radioactive waste management, nuclear power
and nuclear weapons.
In a pre-recorded video message to the conference, Senior Mirarr traditional owner, Yvonne
Margarula, said her land had suffered from mining and that plans for the expansion of the Ranger
uranium mine worry the Mirarr. “We [have] lost billabongs and rivers. Often we are worried
because of the mine. We use the water for fishing, swimming and drinking.”
In her address Ms Margarula referred to the proposed expansion of the Ranger mine, which
currently produces some 10% of the world’s mined uranium, into the so-called R3 Deeps area and
the imminent proposal to introduce the untested technology of heap acid leaching. “We stopped
mining of our sacred land at Jabiluka, for now. But the mining company wants to make Ranger
bigger and to dig under the river. I am afraid the government will support them,” Ms Margarula
The executive officer of the Gundjeihmi Corporation, Justin O’Brien, told the conference that the
destructive reality of uranium mining felt by the Mirarr for over three decades is testimony to the
unsustainable nature of the nuclear industry.
“The Mirarr have endured a little understood but heavy burden over three decades. Their
experience gives the lie to industry claims that the nuclear industry is sustainable. The front end
realities of this industry must be acknowledged and acted on”, Mr O’Brien said.
The Australian delegation included Indigenous activist Rebecca Bear Wingfield, a co-chair of the
Australian Nuclear Free Alliance and Dave Sweeney, nuclear free campaigner with the Australian
Conservation Foundation.
A delegation of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation representatives is meeting with European
Parliamentarians and officials this week over these concerns.

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