$900m rare earths mine in Central Australia approved despite radioactive risk
A proposed $900 million rare earths mine in Central Australia is recommended for approval by the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority.

Arafura Resources Sustainability manager Brian Fowler said the low level radioactive material produced in the processing of rare earth material would be stored onsite in purpose-built dams.

"There will have to be a high level of operational management control for this project over a couple of generations, and there'll have to be a high level of regulatory scrutiny, there's no two ways about that," EPA chairman Paul Vogel said.

The primary risks include the permanent storage of naturally occurring radioactive material onsite and the use of significant groundwater resources over the 35 to 55-year lifespan of the project.

Mr Vogel said he understood public concern about such issues, and the effectiveness of the EPA to effectively monitor them, but said the authority was better placed to provide sufficient oversight.

It is estimated the project will use 2.7 gigalitres of groundwater a year, and the EPA has recommended aquifer levels and water usage be monitored in real-time with data made available to the public.

Alice group to oppose date farm as nuke dump site at public meeting
The Federal Government has short-listed a former date farm 70km south of Alice Springs as one of six possible locations to house Australia’s radioactive material.

The government has promised infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the facility and says $10 million will be awarded to the host community.

Opponents of the Central Australia site say it’s flood prone, sits on the edge of two water basins and is productive for horticulture and cattle.

An online petition at change.org has so far attracted 400 signatures.


The petition says bordering the date farm is a land trust made up of three homesteads, the closest being Oak Valley outstation, owned by Mary Le Rossignol and her husband Robert, and the other is Walkabout Bore.

“The proposed nuclear waste dump site is 10km from Oak Valley, our boundary ends at the date farms fence, way too close for comfort,” the petition states.

Tara Liddy, from Oak Valley, said she was opposed to “putting poison into the ground that we belong to”.

“This is where I grew up, and my concern is that my son will not be able to enjoy the same childhood that I did on that country,” she said.

The family has previously claimed they weren’t notified of the landowner’s decision to nominate his freehold property.

Alice Springs doctor Hilary Tyler said the nuclear industry was dirty. “It is a myth that we need a waste dump for medical radioisotopes,” she said. “We can provide all cancer treatment without a nuclear reactor in Australia.” The opponents say Lucas Heights in Sydney has capacity to store all nuclear waste generated there for the next 20 years. “There is no rush to impose a dump on an unwilling community in an environmentally unsuitable location,” organisers of the meeting said in a statement.

Tokyo children's park closed over radiation
Extremely high levels of radiation have been discovered in a playground in Tokyo, officials said on Friday, fanning fears for the health of children in the area.

Soil underneath a slide at the park in the north-west of the Japanese capital showed radiation readings of up to 480 microsieverts per hour, the local administrative office said.

Anyone directly exposed to this level would absorb in two hours the maximum dose of radiation Japan recommends in a year.

"Many children play in the park daily, so the ward office should explain the situation," Kyodo News quoted a 62-year-old local woman as saying.

The radiation level is over 2000 times that at which the national government requires soil cleaning in areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where reactors melted down after the March 2011 tsunami.

"Because the area in which we detect radioactivity is very limited, and readings in surrounding parts are normal, we suspect radioactive materials of some kind are buried there," local mayor Yukio Takano said in a statement.

radioactive drone lands on Japanese PMs office
A drone marked with a radioactive sign landed on the roof of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's office on Wednesday and tested positive for a "minuscule" amount of radiation, media reported.

Police found the radiation to be low enough not to be harmful to humans, media said.

Public broadcaster NHK said the bomb squad was called in to cart away the drone, which was carrying a small camera and a water bottle.


Abe was in Indonesia on Wednesday attending an Asia-Africa summit. An official at the prime minister's office declined to comment.

It was not immediately clear who sent the drone or why. But a Japanese court on Wednesday approved the restart of a nuclear power station in the southwest of the country, rejecting worries about nuclear safety in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima radiation disaster.

The ruling was a boost for Abe, who wants to reboot nuclear power to help cut reliance on expensive fossil fuel imports.

Televised aerial footage from the prime minister's office showed the drone with propellers covered under cardboard and later a blue tarp.

Broadcaster NHK said an official at the premier's office found the drone and that the device was around 50 cm (20 ins) in diameter. No-one was injured.

Japan, which has a proven track record in electronics and robotics, is looking to fast track industry-friendly regulation to give its drone sector an edge over the United States.

The government is considering the Fukushima nuclear plant, wrecked by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as a test ground for robots and drones.

A Japanese company this year is planning to mass produce six-propeller drones that could survey radiation levels and help with the government's decommissioning effort, media have said.

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Fresh leak detected at Fukushima nuclear power plant
Sensors at the Fukushima nuclear plant detect a fresh leak of highly radioactive water going into the sea. The higher-than-normal levels of contamination were detected on Sunday, with sensors showing radiation levels 50 to 70 times greater than usual. Though contamination levels fell steadily throughout the day, the same sensors were still showing contamination levels about 10 to 20 times more than usual, a company spokesman said. It was not immediately clear what caused the original spike of the contamination and its gradual fall, he said.

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