Aborigines to block uranium mining after Japan disaster via The Independent

By Kathy Marks in Sydney

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant began leaking radiation after last month’s earthquake and tsunami, those watching with consternation have included the Mirarr Aboriginal people of Australia’s Northern Territory, who are determined to limit uranium mining on their land despite the promise of vast riches.

The Mirarr are the traditional owners of land where uranium has been mined for more than 30 years and exported all over the world. Tepco, which operates the Fukushima plant, is a long-standing customer of Ranger, the principal mine.

Although the traditional owners have received royalties of more than A$200m (£129m) from Ranger, Ms Margarula told a parliamentary inquiry in 2005 that mining had “completely upturned our lives, bringing greater access to alcohol and many arguments between Aboriginal people, mainly about money”.

She added: “Uranium mining has also taken our country away from us and destroyed it – billabongs and creeks gone for ever. There are hills of poisonous rock and great holes in the ground with poisonous mud.”

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