Yellowcake uranium oxide is transported by truck from the Olympic Dam mine at Roxby Downs in South Australia, through Port Adelaide to the docks at Outer Harbor, to be loaded onto ships for export. The yellowcake is packed inside sealed drums in a shipping container on the truck.
Early in the evening of Friday October 3rd 2014 an accident occurred at Outer Harbor. When the shipping container was being unloaded from the truck it slipped and fell to the ground. Emergency services were called, but as this was an accident involving dangerous goods and Outer Harbor didn’t have the facilities to open the container to check for spillage, the Environment Protection Agency was also called in to advise. After checking the container with a geiger counter, the EPA determined that there was no radioactivity measurable outside the container.
The shipping container was loaded back onto the truck and driven all the way back to Roxby Downs where they have the safe facilities to open the container and repack the drums if necessary.
Safe Work SA, the EPA and BHP-Billiton will each conduct an investigation into the incident.
Accidents and spillages along the truck route are very concerning as it is clear that the authorities do not have a clear plan to quickly and safely respond to spillages in a timely manner.
The accident was reported on Adelaide’s Channel 9 TV news but the story was considered too small to be placed on Channel 9’s website.
Questions were asked about the accident at the BHP-Billiton Shareholders meeting in November as reported by the Adelaide Advertiser
‘Separately it was also revealed today that a consignment of uranium oxide being exported from Port Adelaide was involved in a spillage incident.
Responding to shareholder questions, chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said some uranium oxide from a drum inside a container spilt about a fortnight ago.
“No uranium oxide escaped from the container, which was trucked back to Olympic Dam for clean-up and resealing, he said.
Chairman Jack Nasser said the exports were regulated by the South Australian Environment Protection Authority which had investigated the incident.
Mr Nasser said any public report on the incident was the prerogative of the EPA.
The EPA said its radiation squad had attended and investigated the incident.
Outside the AGM, a few dozen people demonstrated against, BHP Billiton’s, production of fossil fuels and uranium and its fly in-fly out labour policies in Queensland”
Members of Friends of the Earth Adelaide were proud to be among the protesters outside BHP-Billiton’s AGM.
Friends of the Earth Adelaide members will continue working with Nuclear Operations Watch Port Adelaide in their campaign to keep Port residents safe.
Robyn Wood firstname.lastname@example.org