Kevin Buzzacott: Close Olympic Dam mine and charge BHP Billiton and the SA Government for environmental crimes

Kevin Buzzacott, Arabunna elder wants BHP Billiton & Olympic Dam ‘out of the desert’

Uncle Kevin Buzzacott, an Arabunna Elder from the Lake Eyre region has had a long history campaigning for an end to uranium mining in his country. While Australia extracts and exports uranium and sells it into foreign markets, the Australian people remain complicit in the proliferation of nuclear arms and power around the world. Despite a spike in anti-nuclear awareness around the recent Fukushima disaster in Japan, public opposition is not yet sufficient to turn the tide on this unnecessarily dangerous industry. Kevin’s country is hurting as ground water resources are exploited for the benefit of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine site, and tailings dams leak radioactive waste back into the earth. You can hear Kevin’s passion and pain in the video below, recorded before Parliament House on October 10th, 2011- the day both Federal and State Governments granted environmental approval to the expansion project.

 

Mound springs dried up, sacred sites desicrated

Over the past decades of Olympic Dam operation, Kevin Buzzacott has seen his traditional lands dry and suffer at the hands of WMC and more recently BHP Billiton. The Olympic Dam mine site extracts water from the Great Artesian Basin at approximately 35 million litres per day, at no financial cost. This rate of extraction will rise to 42 million litres per day if the pending mine expansion is fully approved. While water is extracted a zero cost to BHP, the environment picks up the bill, as natural springs and bores serving rural communities and pastoral leases dry up. The environment and people are already suffering, simply by Olympic Dam’s extraction of Great Artesian Basin water, let alone the unspeakable risks fuelled by the distribution of extracted uranium into foreign markets. Kevin’s mob have also reported blindness and ulcers on kangaroos which his people had not seen prior to the mine’s operation.

Olympic Dam’s environmental impact reaches from the desert to the sea

BHP Billiton have inherited a series of legal immunities, provided to them with the original Olympic Dam Indenture Act. This operational contract allows them to run their business beyond the boundaries set by Australian Federal law. As it currently stands, the Olympic Dam Indenture Act provides legal powers for BHP Billiton to override indigenous heritage, environmental protection laws and many others which will be detailed by Anti-Nuclear campaiger, David Noonan in a pending video.

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Dan Monceaux is a South Australian documentary filmmaker and the director of Cuttlefish Country.

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