Environmental groups and Jabiru traditional owners are calling for the closure of Australia's oldest uranium mine following the explosion of a holding tank containing a million litres of radioactive material.
9 Dec 2013 - 5:48 PM  UPDATED 9 Dec 2013 - 6:13 PM

Protestors gathered at the Darwin office of BHP Billiton today in response to the incident which occurred at the Ranger Uranium Mine in Kakadu National Park.

The protesters in attendance were urging Energy Resources of Australia to protect Arnhem Land by repairing the damage that occurred near a world heritage-listed site.

Related: Investigation at Ranger mine underway

"This is something like the 150th spill or incident at the mine over 30 years; it’s a major ongoing problem. Rio Tinto has said that there’s been no environmental harm, we think they’re lying because we've clearly seen photos of the liquid spilling onto the dirt where it will infiltrate into the ground," said the director of Northern Territory’s environmental centre, Stuart Blanch.  

In a statement, the local Indigenous representative body said ''this is nothing but a hillbilly operation, run by a hillbilly miner with hillbilly regulators. Based on the woefully inadequate government response to the previous incident, we have no confidence that this will be taken seriously enough."

Brian Wilkins from the Australian Manufacturers Union believes the incident could have been avoided.

"That's why our union is calling on an independent audit of all equipment on that site because if you put in proper preventative maintenance strategies, accidents like these do not happen," said Mr Wilkins.

Shadow Minister for Trade and Infrastructure Kon Vatskallis says the Mirarr people of the Northern Territory aren't alone in their concerns.

"They can't afford to have these things happening all the time. They have to come clean, they owe it to the people of the territory and they owe it to their own employees, people have to work in a safe environment and Territorians have to live in a safe environment," said Mr Vatskallis.