8 OCTOBER - PUBLIC SESSIONS - TOPIC 6

Day Ten review:

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission has today held its first regional Public Session, hearing evidence in Port Pirie.

The session explored the environmental impact of such activities within the State, and the lessons learned, with a particular focus on extraction and processing of radioactive minerals at Radium Hill and at Port Pirie.

25 members of the public took the opportunity to sit in on proceedings at the Northern Festival Centre ballroom.

The first witness was Kevin Kakoschke OAM, President of the Radium Hill Historical Association. Mr Kakoschke worked at the Radium Hill uranium mine for nine years. Since that time, he has been a TAFE lecturer in mechanical engineering and a consultant to the manufacturing industry. He is the author of several books concerning Radium Hill, including “We were Radium Hill” and “Off the Barrier Highway”. Topics addressed in his evidence included:

  • Activities undertaken while Radium Hill mine was operational
  • Planning and decommissioning of Radium Hill mine

This session was followed by a panel discussion with the Department of State Developement and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The witnesses were Greg Marshall and Tony Ward, Department of State Development. Mr Marshall is the Director of the Mining Regulation Division, which is responsible for regulating mining operations in South Australia, including environmental assessments of new mining proposals, ensuring compliance with conditions of tenements and achieving approved environmental outcomes over the full mine life. Mr Ward is the Manager of the Extractive Areas Rehabilitation Fund (EARF) and Mine Completion. DSD owns the former Radium Hill mine and Port Pirie Rare Earths Treatment Facility sites. Topics covered included:

  • Environmental impacts of activities at Port Pirie and Radium Hill
  • Monitoring and management of environmental impacts
  • Lessons learned for the purpose of environmental controls during contemporary mining and milling operations

The Environment Protection Authority’s Mr Keith Baldry, Mr Graham Palmer and Dr Artem Borysekno then covered a range of topics relating to SA’s independent environment protection regulator. Since joining the EPA in 2004, Mr Baldry has held a number of directorial roles and is currently the Director of Mining Radiation and Regulatory Services. Mr Palmer was the former Manager of the Radiation Protection Branch and Dr Borysenko is the Laboratory Manager at the Radiation Protection Branch. The discussion covered specific information on:

  • Environmental impacts of activities at Port Pirie and Radium Hill
  • Monitoring and management of environmental impacts
  • Lessons learned for the purpose of environmental controls during contemporary mining and milling operations

The final witness for the day was Dr Paul Ashley from the University of New England. He is a geologist with more than 40 years of professional experience in academia, industry and government organisations. He currently specialises in petrographic and mineralogical work, and environmental geochemistry. Dr Ashley has carried out studies into the environmental impacts at several legacy mining sites, including Radium Hill, and has had numerous papers published on these investigations. Details covered in his evidence include:

  • Relationship between site specific factors and the potential for environmental impacts
  • Nature of the Radium Hill site and the environmental impacts observed there

Video and transcripts of each session will be uploaded into the Public Sessions archive.

The next public session is on Wednesday, October 14, in the Commission’s office, 50 Grenfell St, Adelaide.

Click here for topic and witness lists for Topic 7 – Expansion of exploration and mining activities.