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News Media Releases BHP Billiton attracts international scrutiny at AGM
BHP Billiton attracts international scrutiny at AGM
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 14:19

Joint Media Release: Conservation Council of WA and UnionsWA

Western Australia’s peak environment group, UnionsWA and Indigenous representatives will draw attention to widespread community opposition to BHP’s Australian uranium mining plans and will highlight  BHP’s failure to meet its own human and environmental standards overseas as the company holds its AGM in Perth today.

The second BHP Billiton Alternative Annual Report, detailing many of the company’s international environmental, human rights and corporate responsibility failures will also be launched at the AGM.

Supported by BHP shareholders for social responsibility, the organisations will raise a range of concerns directly with the BHP board at the AGM, including actions by the company to block a public inquiry into its proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine.

Piers Verstegen, Director of the Conservation Council of WA said, “We’re concerned about BHP Billiton’s failure to put its own sustainability and corporate responsibility policies into practice in pursuing the proposed Yeelirie uranium mining project in WA.”

“Serious concerns surrounding this proposal include health impacts on local communities, radioactive waste management, transport of uranium ore through communities and the serious risk that WA uranium will contribute to nuclear weapons proliferation.”

 “Earlier this year, the Conservation Council of WA, together with unions, Aboriginal leaders, doctors and youth representatives combined to call for a full open and transparent public inquiry into BHP’s Yeelirrie proposal.”

 “BHP has worked behind the scenes to prevent this inquiry from going ahead, indicating that the company knows they have something to hide. This contravenes BHP’s own policy on transparency, and we are seeking clarity on this at today’s AGM.”

“There is no such thing as a safe uranium mine, and the range of serious international environmental and social breaches outlined in the BHP Alternative Annual Report further compound our concerns about the Yeelirrie proposal here in WA.”

Simone McGurk, Secretary of UnionsWA said, “UnionsWA opposes uranium mining in Western Australia due to concerns for the safety of workers involved in the industry and nearby communities. The WA mining industry, and BHP in particular,  has a poor worker safety record and uranium mining poses even greater health risks as uranium mine workers are exposed to radiation from the ore itself and from the inhalation of radon gas.”

Linda Morich, UnionsWA Occupational Health and Safety Officer was clear in her opposition.

"The UnionsWA position on opposition is clear. It’s NO NO NO. There is no safe leave of exposure to radiation. No tailings dams have ever been cleaned up anywhere around the world, and there is no way BHP can be trusted," she said.

The Conservation Council of WA has contributed to the international BHP Billiton Alternative Annual Report which calls on BHP to put their human rights and environmental policies into practice, and withdraw from uranium mining and other dirty energy resources.

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