Australian news, and some related international items

‘Radiation risk’: Nuclear threat discovered off the WA coast

perth now Eli Green, NCA NewsWire, October 3, 2022,

Tourists visiting a popular destination in Western Australia have been warned there is still a “radiation risk” 70 years after it was used as a nuclear test site, a study has found.

The Montebello Islands, located 120km off the WA coast, were used by the British in 1952 for Operation Hurricane, which saw three nuclear tests performed.

“More than half a century on, marine scientists have discovered there remains a radiation risk to marine life and tourists,” the four-year study by Edith Cowan University PhD student Madison Hoffman found.

With the islands attracting nature lovers such as fishers, divers and snorkellers to its coral reefs, the study has brought a fresh warning for tourists.

Due to the elevated radiation levels, visitors are currently encouraged to keep their trips to an hour a day.

The exact level of danger that the radiation levels pose to humans is yet to be determined, but Ms Hoffman hopes that is something she can determine soon.

“We don‘t quite have an answer for that yet, but we’re hoping over the next two years that we’ll be able to put a number to the potential risk,” she said.

Operation Hurricane was the first time an atomic bomb was tested by the British, with the site chosen due to its isolated location and Australia’s close ties with the UK.

The study saw more than 100 samples of marine sediment and marine life collected and tested.

“It is really important that we try and understand exactly what type of radionuclides and what levels of radiation remain in the marine ecosystem at the Montebello Islands,” Ms Hoffman said.

Radionuclides are substances that release radiation, with some being harmful to humans as they damage the body’s cells and cause cancer.

“We’re focusing now on mapping out areas where higher levels of radionuclides are found in marine sediment all around the Marine Park.”

The level of radiation also poses a threat to local wildlife, with more than 450 species of fish, 630 types of molluscs like octopi and cuttlefish, and 170 varieties of starfish and sea urchins found in the area……………..


October 3, 2022 - Posted by | environment, Western Australia

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