Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear history – theme for January 2016

The start was America’s Manhattan project – developing the atomic bomb. Then came the horror of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then came – the shock and guilt, and the attempt to turn the nuclear project into something good – “atoms for peace’ “electricity too cheap to meter”.

Of course the costing for “cheap” nuclear energy did not include the health and environmental toll of uranium mining, which, as always, was to be paid by indigenous people. Costing also did not include the virtually eternal toll of the cleaup of radioactive trash. And of course, there would be no accidents, (no Chalk River, Rocky Flats, Windscale, Mayak, Lenin icebreaker, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Tomsk, Hanford, Fukushima Daiichi)

Meanwhile, the military-industrial complex continued its production of nuclear weapons. Other countries adopted the “peaceful nuke”, so that they could develop nuclear weapons. The nuclear arms race was underway.

skull nuclear world

FROM THE ARCHIVES   For this month, each week we’ll be posting an item from the past. Lest we forget.

Australian Map of Nuclear Sites, Overview  Jim Green Sept 2012 Some of the recurring patterns in Australia’s nuclear history are discussed here under the following headings: children exposed to radiation; racism; struggle; unresolved radioactive contamination issues; deceit; whistleblowers; secrecy; rhetoric versus reality; lessons not learnt; and surveillance, intimidation, and police brutality.

Children exposed to radiation – (at Port Pirie, Rum Jungle, Kalgoorlie, Yeelirie , Hunters Hill, Lucas Heights, and, of course, Maralinga) 

Due to the lack of fencing, the contaminated Port Pirie Uranium Treatment Complex site was used as a playground by children for a number of years. The situation was rectified only after a six-year community campaign.

After mining at Rum Jungle in the NT ceased, part of the area was converted to a lake. As a crocodile-free water body in the Darwin region, the site became popular despite the radioactivity.

In November 2010, the Rum Jungle South Recreation Reserve was closed due to low-level radiation in the area. The Department of Resources advised the local council to shut down the reserve as a precautionary measure.

In 2012, damage to a security gate allowed children to enter a contaminated site near Kalgoorlie. More than 5,000 tonnes of tailings from the Yeelirrie uranium deposit, near Wiluna, were buried there in the 1980s. BHP Billiton said it would improve security.

In a 1997 report, WMC admitted leaving the contaminated trial uranium mine at Yeelirrie, WA, exposed to the public with inadequate fencing and warning signs for more than 10 years. A spokesperson for WMC said a 1995 inspection revealed the problems and also admitted that the company could have known about the problems as early as 1992. WMC said there was inadequate signage warning against swimming in a dam at the site, which was found to be about 30 times above World Health Organisation radiation safety standards and admitted that people used the dam for “recreational” purposes including swimming.

Children and adults alike have been exposed to radiation from the contaminated uranium processing site at Hunters Hill in Sydney (and children are more susceptible to radiation-induced cancers due to their growing bodies). Only in recent years has the contamination come to light after decades of deceit and obfuscation. The NSW Health Commissioncovered up the dangers of Hunters Hill. An internal memo in 1977 told staff to “stall and be non-committal” when responding to queries. Residents were told there was “no logical reason” to carry out radiation or health tests even though the NSW government knew that there were compelling reasons to do so.

A similar attitude has been displayed towards people living near the Lucas Heights research reactor. An internal 1998 federal Department of Industry, Science and Resources briefing document, obtained under Freedom of Information legislation, warns government officials: “Be careful in terms of health impacts − don’t really want a detailed study done of the health of Sutherland residents.”

Another incident with child safety concerns occurred in May 1997 when a radioactive source was stolen from an ANSTO promotional display at Menai High School. An ANSTO spokesperson said the source could be handled “quite safely but shouldn’t be for long periods.” The radioactive source was never recovered.

In the 1950s, the British-Australian nuclear cabal suppressed research demonstrating the contamination of grazing sheep and cattle with strontium-90 from nuclear bomb tests in Australia. Whistleblower Hedley Marston warned that proof of widespread contamination would be found “in the bones of children”. The nuclear cabal and the Australian government initiated a testing program in 1957, but it was done in secret using stolen body partsfrom dead babies, still-borns and infants.

The Advertiser conspicuously failed to inform residents of Adelaide of the plume of radioactivity which contaminated the city after the bungled nuclear bomb test of 11 October 1956. The Advertiser did however run a story in 1957 titled ‘Radioactive Children Are Brilliant’ − a baseless theory from a British psychiatrist linking strontium 90 to ‘brilliant’ children………..


January 8, 2016 - Posted by | Christina themes

1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on GarryRogers Nature Conservation and commented:
    People react slowly or not at all to the chronic action of toxic pollutants that escape our control or, more often, are simply cast away. It’s easy for the polluters to deny the danger. One day, there will be statistics to show how Earth’s plants and animals were harmed and what this did to their health and life span. Will people say, “Why didn’t someone do something?”


    Comment by GarryRogers | January 28, 2016 | Reply

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