Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s Maralinga Nuclear Veterans unrecognised – (Government strategy – wait for them all to die?)

Maralinga nuke test crusader Avon Hudson’s plea for the Australian Nuclear Veterans’ Association getting lonelierTory Shepherd, State Editor, Sunday Mail (SA) June 9, 2018  https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/maralinganuke-test-crusader-avon-hudsons-plea-for-the-australian-nuclear-veterans-association-getting-lonlier/news-story/3a88136d594912f0aa8a12b59b218649

AVON Hudson is still fighting – but his crusade is becoming lonelier.

The Australian Nuclear Veterans’ Association founder has fought for the rights of those exposed to deadly radiation at Maralinga in the 1950s and ’60s.

But the association is crumbling since so many of the survivors of those long-ago explosions have died.

“We had so few members we couldn’t keep going. The members all died,” Mr Hudson, of Balaklava, says.

Describing himself as an OBE – “Over bloody eighty” – Mr Hudson is worried they will all be gone before an apology is offered for what they endured in the British nuclear test program. He reckons there are about 1500 veterans left – but no one really knows.

He wants proper compensation but, more than anything, he wants recognition that the government of the time put them, and their as-yet-unborn children, in danger.

From 1952 to 1963, men in flimsy clothing – such as shorts and singlets – watched mushroom clouds bloom as the British carried out nuclear bomb tests at three sites in Australia. They were military personnel or civilians with little or no idea what radiation could do to them.

Since then, many have suffered cancers and disabilities, and their children have had deformities. There have also been reports of early deaths and high numbers of stillbirths.

Maralinga’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara people were hit by the fallout. They saw a black mist floating across the desert, blocking the sun. Then people started to get sick.

Britain wanted to develop a nuclear capacity, and Australia’s vast outback was the place to test the weapons. The UK’s then prime minister Winston Churchill struck a secret deal with Australia’s prime minister Robert Menzies, who wanted to keep Britain happy.

They called it Project Hurricane, and it started on October 3, 1952.

There were minor trials and major tests.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency describes the detonations setting off a large fireball.  “Everything inside of this fireball vaporises and is carried upward creating a mushroom-shaped cloud,” ARPANSA says. “The material in the cloud cools into dust-like particles and drops back to the earth as radioactive fallout. This radioactive fallout is carried by the wind very long distances away from the site of the explosion.”

Mr Hudson, who worked at Maralinga while in the air force, has had cancer treatments and other health issues.

He is furious that the Government has spent millions on war memorials like the $100 million Sir John Monash Centre at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

“They spend $100 million on the dead but can’t even look after the living,” he said.

“It’s too late for the dead – they’ve got no more pain and suffering like we have.

“Why have we been sidelined? Aren’t we entitled to some compensation?”

Since the tests, there have been decades of court cases here and in the United Kingdom, but all legal avenues are now exhausted and the veterans’ hopes are pinned on the Government.

Last year’s Budget included $133 million for survivors exposed to radiation and they can now get Medicare gold cards – but that has come too late for many.

Part of the problem is the difficulty in ascribing a specific cancer to a specific incident. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has previously said there is “no significant danger of ongoing health effects for the descendants of participants”, although some research has shown an elevated risk.

The department said there had been “decades-long controversies” over compensation. In a recent Senate estimates hearing, SA Labor senator Alex Gallacher asked if the department was considering further support.

“No,” DVA spokeswoman Lisa Foreman said. “We’re focusing on making known that the gold card is available to those veterans.”

Senator Gallacher asked if they knew how many veterans were still alive. They didn’t.

He then asked if they were tracking deformities or illnesses in the descendants of veterans. They are not.

Meanwhile, Mr Hudson vows to fight on as long as he is able.

“I will not go quietly, I’ll give them hell. They deserve it,” he said.

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June 10, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, weapons and war

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