BHP Billiton AGM coincides with national water week

Friends of the Earth, Australia (FoE) is calling on BHP Billiton to address its massive, unsustainable water extraction for the Roxby Downs uranium mine in South Australia.

MEDIA RELEASE 25/10//07

BHP BILLITON AGM COINCIDES WITH NATIONAL WATER WEEK

Friends of the Earth, Australia (FoE) is calling on BHP Billiton to address its massive, unsustainable water extraction for the Roxby Downs uranium mine in South Australia.

With today's BHP Billiton's Annual General Meeting in London coinciding with National Water Week in Australia, FoE nuclear campaigner Michaela Stubbs said: "The daily extraction of 35 million litres of Great Artesian Basin water for the Roxby has destroyed some of the precious Mound Springs and adversely impacted on others. Friends of the Earth has witnessed this destruction over several decades."

"BHP Billiton should also be forced to pay for the water it uses. It is unacceptable that the company pays nothing for its massive water take despite its record $17 billion profit in 2006-07."

In January 2007, Prime Minister Howard wrote to state premiers seeking agreement "to establish proper entitlements, metering, pricing and reporting arrangements for water extracted from the Great Artesian Basin." Mr. Howard also said that "everybody's got to make a contribution" when it comes to the problem of unsustainable water extraction from the GAB. But he later defended BHP Billiton's 'right' to free, unsustainable water extraction.

FoE nuclear campaigner Dr. Jim Green said: "The Prime Minister ought to insist that the BHP Billiton operate under the same Great Artesian Basin management plan that is imposed on other users."

"The Prime Minister should also explain how his promotion of nuclear power can be justified given that nuclear power is the thirstiest of all energy sources, consuming 20-83% more water than coal-fired plants. Australia's power industry is already suffering from water shortages and it makes no sense to introduce the thirstiest energy source of all”.

"Tim Flannery, the 2007 Australian of the Year, notes that hastening the uptake of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal 'hot rocks' will help ease the water crisis as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions - a win-win outcome," Green concluded.

Contact:

Michaela Stubbs 0429 136935

Jim Green - Friends of the Earth - 0417 318 368

Friends of the Earth report ‘Nuclear power, uranium mining and water scarcity’ can be found at: http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/water-nuclear/Water-nukes-low-...

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