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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: February 14th 2002

:: Cyanide Spill Kills Wildlife in Australia  
By Rod McGuirk

More than 400 birds, kangaroos and other animals have died from cyanide poisoning near a Northern Territory gold mine, police say. Police are investigating how the drainage area near The Granites Gold Mine north-west of Alice Springs became contaminated.

The chemical used for extracting gold from ore had the greatest impact on bird life, a police spokeswoman said. But several kangaroos and a dingo had also died, she said. "The death toll is more than 400 birds and animals, we believe," the spokeswoman said. The fire and rescue service was overseeing the clean-up.

Analysis of the contamination found that the cyanide was in 2,000 parts per one million. "It is extremely toxic for birds and animals and would certainly be lethal for human ingestion," the mine's general manager Leigh Taylor told ABC radio.

The Environment Centre of the NT blamed poor regulation of the mining industry. "The fact that accidents like this occur proves the mining industry is not tightly regulated enough," the centre's coordinator Kirsten Blair said.



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