Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Why did Sir Mark Oliphant not speak out about nuclear bombs radioactively contaminating Maralinga?

Hiding Britain’s H-bomb secrets https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/dec/27/hiding-britains-h-bomb-secrets   Sue Rabbitt Roff is alarmed at files being withdrawn by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority That the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has withdrawn files relating to the development of the British H-bomb in Australia 70 years ago (Nuclear weapons and energy files removed from archives, 24 December) is indeed alarming to those of us trying to get behind the smokescreens already set up by the Ministry of Defence’s closing access to files over the past decades.

My own research has been into why Sir Mark Oliphant, Australia’s premier nuclear physicist and a prime mover in the Tube Alloys group that showed the Americans how to build atomic bombs in time to use in the second world war, never spoke out about the contamination (from H-bomb tests) of his beloved home state of South Australia and further eastward just weeks before the 1956 Olympic Games took place in Melbourne.

He told me in 1993: “The Brits thought they could ensure any fallout or contamination was not too big. They were very pigheaded about it. The people in control were very haphazard about the estimates.” Why didn’t he speak out about the residual radioactive contamination at Monte Bello, Maralinga and Emu Field, even when he was governor of South Australia? He replied: “You can really decontaminate Maralinga by leaving it alone. Plutonium alpha particles contamination, I think, is grossly overplayed. The Aborigines are using it to the full. At the same time it was very naughty of the British to leave it, and to think of spreading it that way in the first place was very nasty. The British people were very reticent about revealing contamination, especially regarding food contamination. They hugged that to their chests very closely.”

I suggest that Sir Mark Oliphant was Australia’s – and Britain’s – J Robert Oppenheimer. The evidence is set out on my website www.rabbittreview.com and was mostly found in the files I accessed in the UK National Archives.

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December 28, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war

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