Jordanna Schriever, The Advertiser
March 28, 2016 10:19pm
ANTI-URANIUM protesters who want to shut down the Olympic Dam site are planning a “party at the gates of hell”, four years after a similar event forced police to send 500-plus officers to monitor the dangerous situation.
The Desert Liberation Front has issued an open invitation to artists, musicians, activists, community groups and media wanting to attend the protest festival to be held from July 1-3.
Under the banner “The Lizard Bites Back” the group is encouraging people to learn moves to a Zombie Lizard Flash Mob dance for its “party at the gates of hell” outside the BHP Billiton site.
Hundreds of police and protesters are expected to travel to Roxby Downs for the event, four years on from similar protests which police at the time estimated had cost the state $1 million.
During the 2012 protest more than 500 police — including STAR Group and mounted officers — worked around the clock for more than a week to monitor protesters.
Eighteen people were arrested for offences varying from loitering to resisting arrest.
The protesters were able to shut down the main road into the mine for four hours by locking themselves to the underside of a truck and, in a separate incident, pushed and pulled on the mine’s front gates to break a lock.
Protesters gathering at Arabunna base camp, before the 2012 Olympic Dam rally.
Some staff, including non-essential contractors, were scaled back during the 2012 protests. Many were told to take a week off and leave town.
In a recent post on the group’s Facebook page, The Lizard’s Revenge, co-organiser Izzy Brown says “we are planning a mass action but people are free to organise into affinity groups and plan their own actions if they want”.
She said this would “enable us all to express our dissent against the nuclear industry in whatever way we feel inclined”.
“BHP is a monster of seemingly unstoppable proportions but it is through our creativity and diversity that perhaps we will find the way to strike this monster in the heart,” the post states.
It also says the protest aimed to “stop the nuclear cycle where it starts” at the mine site, as South Australia considers its nuclear future.
The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s tentative findings, released last month, found a high-level nuclear waste dump could pump $445 billion into the state over 70 years and deliver 1500 fulltime jobs during construction and 600 fulltime jobs once the plant was operational.
At the release of the findings, Premier Jay Weatherill said the government was “yet to form a position — either for or against — the tentative findings in the report”.
‘Lizard’s Revenge’ protesters force open one of the Olympic Dam’s outer gates in 2012.
A separate Federal Government project to find a suitable site for low-level radioactive waste listed six potential sites late last year, including three in SA.
An SA Police spokesman said police would be prepared for the protest.
“Police are aware of the planned ‘protestival’ that is organised at the Olympic Dam site in early July,” the spokesman said.
“Sufficient police resources will be provided to ensure a peaceful protest is held and that the safety of all members of the community is maintained.”
A spokeswoman from BHP Billiton Olympic Dam said the mining giant would also be prepared for the event.
“Olympic Dam is aware of the planned activities and have taken it into account as part of our usual business planning processes.”
A spokeswoman from Roxby Council said the council was “not able to comment at this time”.
Olympic Dam, about 570km northwest of Adelaide, has the fourth-largest copper deposit and the largest-known single deposit of uranium in the world. It also produces copper, silver and gold.
Anti-nuclear campaigners dressed as “zombie mine workers” have taken their message to shoppers in Adelaide’s busy Rundle Mall.
Dancing to the song Radioactive by Imagine Dragons, they rallied against nuclear energy use in Australia and a planned expansion of the outback Olympic Dam uranium mine near Roxby Downs.
Protestor Izzy Brown said South Australia needed to reject proposals that it expand its role in the nuclear fuel cycle.
“We’re trying to raise awareness about the dangers of radiation, especially as South Australia is facing an expansion of the nuclear industry,” she said.
“There’s a threat of a national and international waste dump, Roxby wants to expand its uranium mining as well.
“So we wanted to get out on the streets of Adelaide. The flash mob is just one small piece of a very big artistic theatrical theme.”
The protest group, the Desert Liberation Front, has dubbed its latest campaign, The Lizard Bites Back.
An earlier protest at Olympic Dam four years ago saw police and protesters clash as some broke through a perimeter fence of the mine.
More than 100 people are camped near South Australia’s largest mine to protest against uranium mining and the nuclear industry.
Lizard Bites Back protesters are rallying against nuclear energy use in Australia, the planned expansion of the outback Olympic Dam uranium mine near Roxby Downs and the proposed toxic waste dump for the Flinders Ranges.
The protesters, dressed as zombies, marched along Olympic Way to the gates of the mine and back to their campsite on Friday afternoon.
Protesters have returned to the site they used four years ago to protest against an Olympic Dam expansion plan which did not go ahead.
Protestor Izzy Brown said the group wanted to make a “really strong statement about stopping this nuclear fuel chain”.
She said she also wanted to send a message to the South Australian Government that “we don’t want the state to be turned into a nuclear waste dump”.
Ms Brown said traditional owners had not been consulted about the proposed dump.
The campsite is about 10 kilometres out of Roxby Downs.
Police have allocated extra resources to the protest, including officers on trail bikes and mounted police.
Assistant police commissioner Bronwyn Killmier said the protest had been peaceful so far.
“We’re very pleased with today I mean that’s how we’d like to see the whole thing go is no arrests,” she said.
“Everyone gets their point across. The company keeps going with their business. Roxby Downs is not impacted greatly.”
The protest at Olympic Dam four years ago saw police and protesters clash as some broke through a perimeter fence of the mine.
July 2, 2016 6:13pm
ON election day, protesters at Roxby Downs mourned a “failed political process” which ignored their views on the nuclear industry and laid fake human foetuses outside Olympic Dam to represent the dangerous health impacts of uranium mining.
About 200 anti-uranium demonstrators carried a symbolic black coffin and baskets of animal bones to the gates of Olympic Dam in a mock funeral procession on Saturday.
Protesters laid fake human foetuses outside the gates and threw old animal bones over the fence on day two of the three-day protest.
The Desert Liberation Front opposes toxic waste dumps in Australia and wants BHP Billiton’s uranium mine to be closed within two years.
Spokeswoman Nectaria Calan said the march signified opposition to both major political parties, which support the expansion of the nuclear industry.
“This is a funeral procession for parliamentary democracy and for the failed … nuclear policies of the major parties,” she said.
About 200 protesters joined the rally. Picture: Tait Schmaal.
“We have a lot of concern about the health impacts (of uranium) and I think a lot of the workers here probably also have concerns working with radioactive substances.
“We’re here today because we don’t feel represented and because the major parties are not listening.”
There is bipartisan support for South Australia to become the global storage facility for high-level nuclear waste.
About protesters arrived at the gates of Olympic Dam at Roxby Downs in a funeral procession. Picture: Tait Schmaal.
Protesters remain tight-lipped about events planned at Roxby for the final day of the protest today.
A similar demonstration in 2012 lasted more than a week and activists chained themselves to a tractor and shut down the main road into the mine for four hours.
About 200 anti-uranium demonstrators carried a symbolic black coffin and baskets of animal bones to the gates of Olympic Dam in a mock funeral procession on Saturday.Police kept a close watch on protesters this time and defected 23 cars while four drivers were reported for drug-driving at a testing station, north of Port Augusta, since Wednesday.
Arabunna elder Kevin Buzzacottt said the cars of some prostestors were targeted for defects.
4 Jul 2016
POLICE were forced to shut down Olympic Way yesterday after anti-nuclear protesters lit a bonfire in the middle of the road.
About 60 anti-nuclear protesters lit the fire early Sunday morning and it was extinguished that evening by the local CFS, leaving minor damage on the road surface.
Protesters of the Lizard Bites Back ‘Protestival’ also attempted to move a large yellow object resembling uranium onto the road with a defected vehicle, but it was denied by authorities several times.
The object, estimated to weigh 200 kilograms to 300kg, was then carried onto the road but officers were quick to seize it.
Police Commander Bronwyn Killmier said there were no arrests or reported injuries but were unimpressed by the actions of some protesters.
“Police have been extremely patient and tolerant with the protesters. They were told continuously during their ‘Protestival’ that no vehicles or objects will be permitted to block the road,” she said.
“Given the effort that police took to facilitate their peaceful protest, their actions are disappointing. Especially the actions of one protester who attempted to startle the police horses, putting other protesters, our riders and horses at risk.”
The main entry road to Olympic Dam has been closed several times since Friday, with more than 150 protesters participating in marches from their campsite.
Ms Killmier said there were extra police, trail bikes and mounted police to keep protesters at bay.
“In the last few days of the protest, police have gone to considerable effort to facilitate lawful protest activity and are disappointed with the actions of some protesters,” she said.
The Desert Liberation Front protesters are against the planned expansion of the Olympic Dam uranium mine and the proposed Flinders Ranges toxic waste dump, and would like to see BHP’s uranium mine closed within two years.
Protesters returned to the same site as four years ago, where they initially protested against the Olympic Dam expansion which did not go ahead.
The main road leading to the Olympic Dam uranium mine has reopened after a day-long blockade by anti-nuclear activists in South Australia’s north.
On Sunday morning the Lizard Bites Back activists lit a bonfire and blocked the road but were stopped from taking large props – including a block of fake uranium – onto the bitumen, prompting a clash with police.
The fire was extinguished late on Sunday night and police said the road was reopened early on Monday after protesters returned to their nearby campsite.
Some minor damage was caused to the road.
Sunday’s action was part of a three-day protest, which began on Friday, at the mine.
Senior police in the area said officers had gone to considerable effort to accommodate the largely peaceful protest and were disappointed with the actions of some involved.
But they said there were no arrests and no reported injuries.
Protesters have started leaving Roxby Downs following the conclusion of the Lizard’s Revenge ‘Protestival’.
The protest was scheduled from Friday, July 1 until Sunday, July 3.
Police Commander Bronwyn Killmier said they had worked hard to negotiate a peaceful protest.
“There were occasions when the agreements we reached were breached by the protesters and they refused to take lawful direction and we had to step in to resolve those issues,” she said.
“People have a right to protest lawfully.”
“We were there to help them express their views peacefully, and Police were very tolerant, patient and professional in their dealings with all parties throughout the course of the protest.”
“We minimised conflict and confrontation wherever possible, which was clearly demonstrated during the peaceful marches,” she said.
Ms Killmier said that the fire lit by protesters on Olympic Way was extinguished to minimise risk to them and their children, CFS volunteers and police officers on the the roadway.
“We escorted the CFS truck to extinguish the fire and we thank the volunteers for their assistance,” she said.
Lizard Bites Back representative Nectaria Calan said the event attracted over 300 people from around the country but the police made the camp difficult.
“Trying to deter people from attending the event by telling them that the public land we are camped on is owned by BHP Billiton, but they have also prevented mine workers from visiting the camp,” she said.
“Although they have been lodged for the weekend by the company’s accommodation, they should remember that they do not actually work for BHP.”
‘Protestival’ participants have called for another convergence on the mining town next year.
Ms Killmier said there were no arrests or injuries during the protest but police would be staying until further notice.
“Police will remain in Roxby Downs and maintain a safe environment for the residents and workers for as long as it takes,” she said.
Anti-uranium activists have accused police of being heavy handed in ending a day-long blockade of the Olympic Dam uranium mine in South Australia’s north.
About 100 protesters blocked the main road to the mine early on Sunday, setting a fire they maintained for about 18 hours before police moved in late in the night.
Protest spokeswoman Nectaria Calan said that as police moved activists off the road and CFS crews quelled the blaze they also entered a nearby bush camp, shouting at people to get out of their tents before retreating.
In doing so the activists believed police had abused their powers.
But police said they never entered the camp ground and moved in to extinguish the blaze because of the increasing danger it posed.
Commander Bronwyn Killmier said rising winds fanning embers posed a risk to the protesters, their children in the area and to police.
She said police had worked hard over the three days of the action to accommodate a peaceful protest.
“There were occasions when the agreements we reached were breached by the protesters and they refused to take lawful direction and we had to step in to resolve those issues,” she said on Monday.
“We minimised conflict and confrontation wherever possible, which was clearly demonstrated during the peaceful marches.
“There were no arrests or injuries during the protest.”
Ms Calan said the action had been staged to raise awareness of the connection between uranium mining and nuclear waste, with South Australia currently considering two proposals to establish nuclear waste dumps.
“A responsible approach to managing nuclear waste would begin by stopping its production,” she said.
Many of the activists at Olympic Dam, she added, wanted to return to stage a similar protest next year.