[ RadSafe ] Ranger uranium company in Australia & cancer clusters among aborigines

Peter Bossew peter.bossew at jrc.it
Mon Nov 26 04:33:37 CST 2007

As a comment, not based on scientific literature, but on what I heard 
when I was there (only as a tourist, 1989 or 1990): there was a major 
spill from a tailing pond into a river called South Alligator River (if 
I remember correctly) in the mid-1980s (?), when a dam broke after a 
tropical rain storm. Allegedly a large amount of Th230, Ra226 ff. 
bearing sediments from the tailing pond were deposited along the river 
and in the floodplains through which it goes. The river goes through the 
area of an aboriginal community (of which I forgot the name), which, as 
I was told, relies strongly on fish and water from that river.
This event caused a broad discussion about the safety of U mining in 
Australia, and apparently subsequently resulted in substantial 
improvements of  safety provisions. - My (only visual and therefore of 
course superficial) impression, based on what I saw on a guided tour, 
was that the safety conditions were much better than what I knew from 
former East Germany (the Wismut area) and some places in former 
Czechoslovakia (MAPE). (The information I had about these places came 
from the oppositional movements which were active in these times, mid to 
late 1980s, like the "Charta 77" movement in the CSSR and the Churches 
and the "Environmental Library" in the GDR, and with whom I worked, 
under not-so-official conditions, on some environmental projects.)

Peter Bossew

Bjorn Cedervall wrote:
> Among what I found this far is 27 cancer cases instead of 14 expected for the years
> 1994-2004. I assume that this relates to incidence - not deaths.
> Now, in order to interpret such data it is important to understand the average age / life expectancy of the population: If they become older (because they have jobs) that could explain some of the effect - cancer incidence increases sharply with age (especially after age 55-60).
> Comments?
> My personal reflections only,
> Bjorn Cedervall   bcradsafers at hotmail.com
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Peter Bossew 

European Commission (EC) 
Joint Research Centre (JRC) 
Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES) 

TP 441, Via Fermi 1 
21020 Ispra (VA) 
Tel. +39 0332 78 9109 
Fax. +39 0332 78 5466 
Email: peter.bossew at jrc.it 

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