Yesterday was the last official day of the Lizards Revenge Music and Arts Festival of Resistance at the Olympic Dam Uranium mine, where over 500 protestors have gathered for the past week.
Dr Helen Caldicott visited the Lizards Revenge to run a workshop addressing health issues relating to uranium yesterday afternoon. She pointed out that there has never been an epidemiological study undertaken in Australia to monitor the health effects of radiation exposure on mine workers and that 50% of uranium mine workers die of cancer related illness.
Elder Kevin Buzzacott has extended an invitation to the festival participants to join him on Arabunna country to visit the mound springs in the Lake Eyre region, which have been impacted by the extraction of water from the Artesian Basin for the uranium mine. Water extraction will increase from an average of 35 million litres per day to 42 million litres per day if the expansion goes ahead. The mound springs are sacred to the Arabunna people and integral to the desert ecosystem.
Organisers are extremely happy with the event, with people coming from all states and territories and as far as Japan, Canada and Europe to participate.
“The week has seen a diverse range of peaceful and creative actions including a fashion parade at the Gates of Hell, a breakfast not bombs picnic on the road blocking access to the mine, and three minutes of silence to commemorate all the victims of the nuclear industry,” said Nectaria Calan.
“However, we are extremely disappointed by the tactics of police, which have included barricading us into our camp, constant surveillance and spotlighting by helicopter, motorbikes and patrol cars 24 hours a day. With close to a one on one ratio of protestors to police it is hard to understand how the state can justify this excessive deployment of resources. The deprivation of civil liberties that we have experienced in the last week is unprecedented at event like this in Australia.”
“The heavy handed tactics by police at Tuesdays cricket match, followed by the deliberate misinformation by the police regarding the days events, suggests that the police have sought to escalate the situation in order to justify the excessive deployment of resources for the event.”
Despite this, the ground swell of support Lizards Revenge is receiving is extremely encouraging; this is just the beginning.
The bipartisan political support this project enjoys in South Australia, despite widespread concerns regarding its local and international implications, highlights the failure of the political system to accommodate community concerns. This battle will not be fought in the parliament but in the desert.
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