BHP challenged over nuclear expansion at AGM

Environmentalists will today hold peaceful demonstrations in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne to protest against BHP Billiton's plan to make the Roxby Downs mine in SA the biggest uranium mine in the world. At the company's Annual General Meeting in Perth, BHPB will be challenged with questions over its contribution to global nuclear proliferation and pollution, its unsustainable water extraction plans and its extraordinary legal privileges.

David Noonan from the Australian Conservation Foundation said: "BHPB's uranium exports contribute to the risk of nuclear accidents and terrorism, of weapons proliferation and dirty bombs. These risks will increase with proposed export of Australian uranium to China. We can have no confidence in supposed 'safeguards' once our uranium is in the hands of the Chinese state. Draft guidelines released this week show BHPB is trying to ignore the risks of its uranium exports by excluding the nuclear fuel cycle from assessment of the proposed Roxby expansion."

The Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA’s Robin Chapple, who will attend the AGM, said: "Globally, the nuclear power industry produces 13,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel every year, yet there is not a single disposal site anywhere in the world for any of this high-level nuclear waste. People formerly associated with Pangea Resources have indicated that they intend to return to Australia next year for another push to turn Australia into the world's nuclear waste dump. BHPB cannot ignore its growing contribution to this global problem."

Michaela Stubbs from Friends of the Earth (Melbourne) said: "BHPB proposes to take an additional 120 million litres of Great Artesian Basin water daily - free of charge - for the Roxby expansion. This is additional to the current daily extraction of 33 million litres. The precious Mound Springs, listed as endangered ecological communities under the Commonwealth Environment Protection Act, have already been adversely effected by unsustainable water extraction."

Jim Green from Friends of the Earth (Adelaide) said: "Roxby Downs is subject to the weakest standards of any mine in SA. The Roxby Indenture Act overrides the SA Environment Protection Act, the Water Resources Act and the Aboriginal Heritage Act. These outrageous legal favours are indefensible and must be revoked."

What, where, when: Peaceful, colourful protests:
* Perth: Convention and Exhibition Centre, 10.30am (WA time)
* Adelaide: Outside BHP office, 55 Grenfell St, 4-6pm (SA time)
* Melbourne: Outside BHP office, 180 Lonsdale St, 8am-10am (Vic time)
Contact:
* Perth: Jo Vallentine (ANAWA/PND) 9272 4252; Robin Chapple (ANAWA) 0409 379 263
* Adelaide: David Noonan (ACF) 0408 821 058; Jim Green (FoE) 0417 318 368
* Melbourne: Michaela Stubbs (FoE) 0429 136 935