One wonders if the interests of a ‘handful of natives’ might on some future occasion again be deemed subordinate to those of the dominant culture.
Each of these explosions generated considerable radioactivity, by means of the initial nuclear reaction and the through dispersion of radioactive particulate colloquially known as ‘fallout’. In addition to British scientific and military personnel, thousands of Australians were exposed to radiation produced by the tests. These included not only those involved in supporting the British testing program, but also Aboriginal people living downwind of the test sites, and other Australians more distant who came into contact with airborne radioactivity.
While less spectacular than the major detonations, the minor trials were more numerous. They also contributed to the lasting contamination of the Maralinga area. As a result of the nearly 600 minor trials, some 830 tons of debris contaminated by about 20 kg of plutonium were deposited in pits which graced the South Australian landscape. An additional 2 kg of plutonium was dispersed over the area. Such an outcome was unfortunate indeed, as plutonium is one of the most toxic substances known; it dissipates more slowly than most radioactive elements. The half-life of plutonium is 24,000 years. At this rate of decay, the Maralinga lands would be contaminated for the next half-million years.
Perhaps most significant was the secrecy surrounding the testing program. The decision to make the Monte Bello Islands available to the British for their first nuclear test appears to have been made by the Prime Minister alone, without reference to Cabinet, much less Parliament or the Australian public.
Chapter 16: A toxic legacy : British nuclear weapons testing in Australia Published in: Wayward governance : illegality and its control in the public sector / P N Grabosky Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 1989 ISBN 0 642 14605 5(Australian studies in law, crime and justice series); pp. 235-253 “……..In 1950, Labor Prime Minister Clement Atlee sent a top secret personal message to Australian Prime Minister Menzies asking if the Australian government might agree to the testing of a British nuclear weapon at the Monte Bello Islands off Western Australia. Menzies agreed in principle, immediately; there is no record of his having consulted any of his Cabinet colleagues on the matter. A preliminary assessment of the suitability of the proposed test site was conducted in October-November 1950.
The Monte Bello site was deemed suitable by British authorities, and in a message to Menzies dated 26 March 1951 Atlee sought formal agreement to conduct the test. Atlee’s letter did not discuss the nature of the proposed test in minute detail. He did, however, see fit to mention the risk of radiation hazards:
6. There is one further aspect which I should mention. The effect of exploding an atomic weapon in the Monte Bello Islands will be to contaminate with radio activity the north-east group and this contamination may spread to others of the islands. The area is not likely to be entirely free from contamination for about three years and we would hope for continuing Australian help in investigating the decay of contamination. During this time the area will be unsafe for human occupation or even for visits by e.g. pearl fishermen who, we understand, at present go there from time to time and suitable measures will need to be taken to keep them away. We should not like the Australian Government to take a decision on the matter without having this aspect of it in their minds (quoted in Australia 1985, p. 13).
Menzies was only too pleased to assist the ‘motherland’, but deferred a response until after the 195 1 federal elections. With the return of his government, preparations for the test, code-named ‘Hurricane’, proceeded. Yet it was not until 19 February 1952 that the Australian public was informed that atomic weapons were to be tested on Australian soil.
“I think fundamentally we have to ask is that really the way we want to go. The signal we’re sending to Americans is that if they go to war with China, sure, we’ll be part of that.”
“It is embedding us in global military operations for which there is little strategic benefit for Australia.”
We are told mass surveillance makes us safer and in our fear we accept growing militarisation….. these facilities most likely don’t protect us, but put us at greater risk….These are the questions we don’t discuss.
Under a burning hot sun in the red centre, experts and citizens shared their fears over what is happening in the most remote parts of the country. These mysterious bases may be invisible to the majority of us living in the most populated regions along the coast, but could threaten the fabric of all our lives. Here’s what you need to know:
NORTH WEST CAPE — SPACE WARFARE Perhaps the most frightening of all the bases, North West Cape is at the cutting edge of warfare — in space.
The monstrous structure sits on the northwest coast of Australia, where kilometres of wire surround a soaring central tower and others fanning off it, sucking up huge amounts of electricity.
North West Cape (also known as Harold E Holt Communications Station) was established as an American nuclear submarine communication station, with a very low frequency that could penetrate water, before being given back to Australia in the 1990s.
In 2008-10, the US and Australia agreed it would be upgraded with an advanced space radar and space telescope.
The radar was built in New Mexico by the US, with Australia paying for installation, and the space telescope comes from Antigua in the Caribbean and was once part of Cape Canaveral rocket range in Florida.
The telescope points at the sky, providing what the US calls “space situational awareness”. The rationale is that it will find space junk, as in the movie Gravity. In fact, its primary purpose will be looking for where adversaries’ satellites are in space and what they do, says Professor Richard Tanter from the School of Political and Social Studies at the University of Melbourne.
If a country like Russia, for example, was hiding a satellite’s purpose, the US might photograph or neutralise it.
Professor Tanter warns Australia could become enmeshed in anti-satellite warfare. If there was a war between US and China over the South China Sea and US could not bring a fleet near the coast any more, “the first thing they want to do is blind other side’s satellites”.
We are providing the US with extra capacity to make that happen, says Prof Tanter.
PINE GAP — ‘THE POISONED HEART OF AUSTRALIA’
Pine Gap was established in Alice Springs in 1966 when the CIA came up with the idea of putting satellites 36,000 kilometres above the earth’s surface. These had giant antennae that could listen to very weak signals from Soviet missiles testing, allowing the agency to work out the capability of enemy weapons.
The spy base was placed in isolated Alice in the NT because at the time, the massive amount of data had to be collected over 130km of land.
Prof Tanter says Pine Gap rivals Uluru as the symbolic centre of Australia, with its strange, mysterious power.
“It’s the poisoned heart of Australia and it is increasingly having an effect on our defence policies and the way in which we conduct our foreign policy,” he says.
The establishment of Pine Gap heralded the start of the American early warning system, which involved powerful infra-red telescopes staring at the earth looking for the heat bloom of nuclear weapons. And it continues to grow in strength long after the Cold War, with the number of antennae growing from two or three in 1970 to 33 today.
It has also grown in capability — picking up satellite and mobile phone transmissions that are important for conducting war in Iraq and Afghanistan and monitoring people allegedly carrying out terrorist activities. It spots jet aircraft in the sky and explosions on the ground.
If a North Korean missile takes off, its trajectory can be rapidly beamed to the US, triggering a possible drone assassination. Prof Tanter says such behaviour makes Australia a target.
“Do we really want to be implicated in that?”
DARWIN — TROOPS ON THE GROUND Continue reading
Farms that grow food in arid deserts, without groundwater or fossil fuels, could be the future of agriculture. BRYAN NELSON October 10, 2016, No soil, no pesticides, no fossil fuels, and no groundwater. And yet, a thriving farm in the heart of the arid Australian desert. How is this possible?
WA EPA rejects proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine, Online Opinion, By Mara Bonacci – posted Tuesday, 16 August 2016 “…….Yeelirrie is located 420 km north of Kalgoorlie in the mid-west region of WA, the land of the Wongutha people. Yeelirrie is the name of a local sheep station and, in the local Aboriginal language, means “place of death”.
In 1973 Western Mining Corporation (WMC) found a uranium deposit there. The Yeelirrie Mine Proposal was submitted to the WA Department of Conservation and Environment in 1979. The proposal was for the development of an open cut mine, ore treatment plant, town and ancillary services and 850 employees. Environmental approval was given by both state and federal governments.
Trial mines were dug in the 1980s, which found the first large scale calcrete orebody in the world. It is estimated that around 195 tonnes of yellowcake were mined in these trials. WMC spent $35 million preparing to develop the mine until the 1983 federal election and subsequent implementation of the ALPs “three mines policy” in 1984, limiting Australia’s number of uranium mines to three.
In 2005, the mine was acquired from WMC by BHP Billiton, who concluded one stage of exploration mining. Then in 2012, Canadian mining company Cameco bought the deposit from BHP for $430 million….
Cameco’s Yeelirrie mine proposal includes:
- A 9 km long, 1.5 km wide and 10 m deep open pit mine
- 14 million tonnes of overburden
- Using 8.7 million litres of water a day
- Producing 7,500 tonnes per year of uranium (10 percent of annual world demand)
- To be transported by four road trains a week
- It would produce 126,000 tonnes per year of CO2 emissions
- 36 million tonnes of tailings stored in the open pit2,421 hectares would be cleared
- 22 years of operation
- Highly variable work force – average of 300………http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18451&page=1
Citizens Jury Panel 1: Craig Wilkins
- A minimal safety margin requires that high level waste not be imported before an agreed licensed geological disposal site…
- High level nuclear waste disposal costs can double in a decade…..
- Dubious claim that disposal of nuclear waste in SA costs one quarter less than in experienced countries….
- SA faces a $60 billion debt in costs across 37 years of ongoing nuclear waste storage operations and nuclear facility decommissioning after the last receipt of overseas revenues for waste imports….
- Nuclear contingency costs are unfunded…
South Australians are being misled by inflated revenue claims, untenable assumptions and under-reported nuclear waste costs. Reality check analysis shows there is no profit in nuclear waste.
Nuclear waste costs are fast rising and unrelenting for decades after the last recite of waste imports regardless of whether or not claimed revenues and fixed prices over time prove to be realistic or illusory.
The Nuclear Royal Commission Final Report Ch.5 “Management, storage and disposal of nuclear waste” and the Nuclear Commission Tentative Findings Report (p.16-20) present a nuclear waste baseline business case that is near solely reliant on a consultancy “Radioactive waste storage and disposal facilities in SA” (Feb 2016) by Jacobs MCM, summarised in Final Report Appendix J.
There is no market based evidence for the Final Report revenue assumptions and claimed income.
Claimed revenues are a tonnage based multiplier: inflated tonnage equals misleading revenues.
Claimed revenues are doubled by an assumption SA can take twice the waste the US failed to achieve. Continue reading
Nuclear waste dump case unravels, World News Report, 13 July 16 , Green Left By Renfrey Clarke “……..Yankunytjatjara Native Title Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Karina Lester told a packed venue at a June 16 meeting: “The overwhelming majority of traditional owners … continue to speak out against establishing an international waste dump.”
Indigenous spokespeople have condemned the project since it was first mooted. In May last year, soon after the royal commission on South Australian involvement in the nuclear cycle began its work, representatives of 12 Aboriginal peoples met in Port Augusta.
“We call on the Australian population to support us in our campaign to prevent dirty and dangerous nuclear projects being imposed on our lands and our lives and future generations.”
The prime site for the long-term waste repository is on the lands of the Kokatha people, near the towns of Woomera and Roxby Downs.
The Transcontinental Railway crosses the region and, as the Australian explained on June 27, the ancient rocks of the underlying Stuart Shelf are “considered by experts to have the best geological conditions for a nuclear dump”.
Early this year Dr Tim Johnson of the nuclear industry consulting firm Jacobs MCM told the royal commission his company envisaged a new port being built on the South Australian coastline to service the project. An interim storage facility nearby would hold newly-arrived wastes above ground for some decades, until they had cooled sufficiently to be transported by rail to the permanent dumpsite.
The only practical location for the port and above-ground repository would be on the western shore of Spencer Gulf, south of the city of Whyalla. Spencer Gulf is a shallow, confined inlet whose waters mix only slowly with those of the Southern Ocean. Any accident that released substantial quantities of radioactive material into the gulf would be catastrophic for the marine environment. Profitable fishing, fish-farming and oyster-growing industries would be wiped out, and the recreational fishing that is a favourite pastime of local residents would become impossible.
To connect the above-ground repository to the rail network, a new line would need to be built from the present railhead at Whyalla. Taking wastes north for permanent storage, trains would pass by the outskirts of Whyalla and Port Augusta.
Initially, the materials transported would be large quantities of low and intermediate-level waste, also planned for importation and burial. But after several decades, transport of high-level wastes would begin and would continue for another 70 years.
Awareness is growing in the Spencer Gulf region of the dangers posed by the nuclear industry. On June 24 in Port Augusta about 80 people took part in a protest against the federal plans to site a separate dump, for Australian-derived low-level radioactive wastes, near the Flinders Ranges’ tourist area………..https://world.einnews.com/article/334731841/OM4SBscz5Dp42697
Greg Ward, Chad Jacobi, Nigel McBride, Jason Kuchel, Michael Penniment mislead the Nuclear Citizens Jury about Radiation
Bananas, brazil nuts and some other foods contain radioactive potassium-40 — but in extremely low doses. Potassium-40 in bananas has a specific activity of 71 ten millionths of a curie per gram. Compare that to the 88 curies per gram for Cesium-137. This is like comparing a stick of dynamite to an atomic bomb. Our bodies manage the ingested Potassium 40, so that after eating bananas, the excess is quickly excreted and the body’s Potassium-40 level remains unchanged.
The radioactive isotopes that come from nuclear fission (such as strontium -90, cesium -137 and iodine 131) were unknown in nature before atomic fission: our bodies are not adapted to them. And as well as being far more radioactive that Potassium -40, they can accumulate in the body.
I had hoped for something sensible to come out of these Citizens’ Juries. That doesn’t look like happening if the juries continue to be fed this kind of nonsense.
Chocolates, bananas, ionising radiation and a nuclear waste dump https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/chocolates-bananas-ionising-radiation-and-a-nuclear-waste-dump,9200 5 July 2016
On the matter of ionising radiation and health, Noel Wauchope rebuts five misleading speakers at the Nuclear Citizens’ Jury hearings on Australia’s nuclear waste importation plan.
IN TWO DAYS of 25 Citizens’ Jury sessions in Adelaide (on 25-26 June), about nuclear waste importing, there was minimal coverage of the question of ionising radiation and health.
What little there was, was skimpy, superficial and downright deceptive, in 209 pages of transcripts.
There was not one mention of the world’s authoritative bodies on the subject — The World Health Organisation, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission or any of the reports on biological effects of ionising radiation.
There was no explanation of the “linear no threshold” (LNT) theory on ionising radiation and health, despite the fact that this theory is the one accepted by all the national and international health bodies, including the Ionising Radiation Safety Institute of Australia who, on this topic, quote the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).
Instead of explaining this basic concept in radiation protection, the slight coverage on radiation and health given to the Jury, was done in a trivial manner as the following examples (listed in the transcript report) illustrate. Continue reading
The plan to turn South Australia into the world’s nuclear waste dump has been met with near-unanimous opposition from Aboriginal people.
The Royal Commission acknowledged strong Aboriginal opposition to its nuclear waste proposal in its final report – but it treats that opposition not as a red light but as an obstacle to be circumvented.
Radioactive waste and the nuclear war on Australia’s Aboriginal people, Ecologist Jim Green 1st July 2016
Australia’s nuclear industry has a shameful history of ‘radioactive racism’ that dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s, writes Jim Green. The same attitudes persist today with plans to dump over half a million tonnes of high and intermediate level nuclear waste on Aboriginal land, and open new uranium mines. But now Aboriginal peoples and traditional land owners are fighting back!
Then the government tried to impose a dump on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory, but that also failed.
Now the government has embarked on its third attempt and once again it is trying to impose a dump on Aboriginal land despite clear opposition from Traditional Owners. The latest proposal is for a dump in the spectacular Flinders Ranges, 400 km north of Adelaide in South Australia, on the land of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners.
The government says that no group will have a right of veto, which is coded racism: it means that the dump may go ahead despite the government’s acknowledgement that “almost all Indigenous community members surveyed are strongly opposed to the site continuing.”
The proposed dump site was nominated by former Liberal Party politician Grant Chapman but he has precious little connection to the land. Conversely, the land has been precious to Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners for millennia.
It was like somebody ripped my heart out’
The site is adjacent to the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). “The IPA is right on the fence – there’s a waterhole that is shared by both properties”, said Yappala Station resident and Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Regina McKenzie.
The waterhole – a traditional women’s site and healing place – is one of many archeological and culturally significant sites in the area that Traditional Owners have registered with the South Australian government over the past six years. Two Adnyamathanha associations – Viliwarinha Aboriginal Corporation and the Anggumathanha Camp Law Mob – wrote in November 2015 statement:
“Adnyamathanha land in the Flinders Ranges has been short-listed for a national nuclear waste dump. The land was nominated by former Liberal Party Senator Grant Chapman. Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners weren’t consulted. Even Traditional Owners who live next to the proposed dump site at Yappala Station weren’t consulted. This is an insult.
“The whole area is Adnyamathanha land. It is Arngurla Yarta (spiritual land). The proposed dump site has springs. It also has ancient mound springs. It has countless thousands of Aboriginal artefects. Our ancestors are buried there.
“Hookina creek that runs along the nominated site is a significant women’s site. It is a registered heritage site and must be preserved and protected. We are responsible for this area, the land and animals.
“We don’t want a nuclear waste dump here on our country and worry that if the waste comes here it will harm our environment and muda (our lore, our creation, our everything). We call on the federal government to withdraw the nomination of the site and to show more respect in future.”
Regina McKenzie describes getting the news that the Flinders Ranges site had been chosen from a short-list of six sites across Australia: “We were devastated, it was like somebody had rang us up and told us somebody had passed away. My niece rang me crying … it was like somebody ripped my heart out.”
McKenzie said on ABC television: “Almost every waste dump is near an Aboriginal community. It’s like, yeah, they’re only a bunch of blacks, they’re only a bunch of Abos, so we’ll put it there. Don’t you think that’s a little bit confronting for us when it happens to us all the time? Can’t they just leave my people alone?”
Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Dr Jillian Marsh said in an April 2016 statement:
“The First Nations people of Australia have been bullied and pushed around, forcibly removed from their families and their country, denied access and the right to care for their own land for over 200 years. Our health and wellbeing compares with third world countries, our people crowd the jails. Nobody wants toxic waste in their back yard, this is true the world over. We stand in solidarity with people across this country and across the globe who want sustainable futures for communities, we will not be moved.”
The battle over the proposed dump site in the Flinders Ranges will probably be resolved over the next 12 months. If the government fails in its third attempt to impose a dump against the wishes of Aboriginal Traditional Owners, we can only assume on past form that a fourth attempt will ensue……
Now Aboriginal people in South Australia face the imposition of a national nuclear waste dump as well as a plan to import 138,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste and 390,000 cubic metres of intermediate level waste for storage and disposal as a commercial venture.
The plan is being driven by the South Australian government, which last year established a Royal Commission to provide a fig-leaf of independent supporting advice. The Royal Commissioner is a nuclear advocate and the majority of the members of the Expert Advisory Committee are strident nuclear advocates.
Indeed it seems as if the Royal Commissioner sought out the dopiest nuclear advocates he could find to put on the Expert Advisory Committee: one thinks nuclear power is safer than solar, another thinks that nuclear power doesn’t pose a weapons proliferation risk, and a third was insisting that there was no credible risk of a serious accident at Fukushima even as nuclear meltdown was in full swing.
Announcing the establishment of the Royal Commission in March 2015, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said: “We have a specific mandate to consult with Aboriginal communities and there are great sensitivities here. I mean we’ve had the use and abuse of the lands of the Maralinga Tjarutja people by the British when they tested their atomic weapons.”
Yet the South Australian government’s handling of the Royal Commission process systematically disenfranchised Aboriginal people. The truncated timeline for providing feedback on draft Terms of Reference disadvantaged people in remote regions, people with little or no access to email and internet, and people for whom English is a second language. There was no translation of the draft Terms of Reference, and a regional communications and engagement strategy was not developed or implemented.
Aboriginal people repeatedly expressed frustration with the Royal Commission process. One example (of many) is the submission of the Anggumathanha Camp Law Mob (who are also fighting against the plan for a national nuclear waste dump on their land):
“Why we are not satisfied with the way this Royal Commission has been conducted:
Yaiinidlha Udnyu ngawarla wanggaanggu, wanhanga Yura Ngawarla wanggaanggu? – always in English, where’s the Yura Ngawarla (our first language)?
“The issues of engagement are many. To date we have found the process of engagement used by the Royal Commission to be very off putting as it’s been run in a real Udnyu (whitefella) way. Timelines are short, information is hard to access, there is no interpreter service available, and the meetings have been very poorly advertised. …
“A closed and secretive approach makes engagement difficult for the average person on the street, and near impossible for Aboriginal people to participate.”
The plan to turn South Australia into the world’s nuclear waste dump has been met with near-unanimous opposition from Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal Congress of South Australia, comprising people from many Aboriginal groups across the state, endorsed the following resolution at an August 2015 meeting:
“We, as native title representatives of lands and waters of South Australia, stand firmly in opposition to nuclear developments on our country, including all plans to expand uranium mining, and implement nuclear reactors and nuclear waste dumps on our land. … Many of us suffer to this day the devastating effects of the nuclear industry and continue to be subject to it through extensive uranium mining on our lands and country that has been contaminated.
“We view any further expansion of industry as an imposition on our country, our people, our environment, our culture and our history. We also view it as a blatant disregard for our rights under various legislative instruments, including the founding principles of this state.”
The Royal Commission acknowledged strong Aboriginal opposition to its nuclear waste proposal in its final report – but it treats that opposition not as a red light but as an obstacle to be circumvented.http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987853/radioactive_waste_and_the_nuclear_war_on_australias_aboriginal_people.html
Climate scientists: Australian uranium mining pollutes Antarctic http://phys.org/news/2016-06-climate-scientists-australian-uranium-pollutes.html June 30, 2016 by Beth Staples Uranium mining in Australia is polluting the Antarctic, about 6,000 nautical miles away. University of Maine climate scientists made the discovery during the first high-resolution continuous examination of a northern Antarctic Peninsula ice core.
Ice core data reveal a significant increase in uranium concentration that coincides with open pit mining in the Southern Hemisphere, most notably Australia, says lead researcher Mariusz Potocki, a doctoral candidate and research assistant with the Climate Change Institute.
“The Southern Hemisphere is impacted by human activities more than we thought,” says Potocki.
Understanding airborne distribution of uranium is important because exposure to the radioactive element can result in kidney toxicity, genetic mutations, mental development challenges and cancer.
Uranium concentrations in the ice core increased by as much as 102 between the 1980s and 2000s, accompanied by increased variability in recent years, says Potocki, a glaciochemist.
Until World War II, most of the uranium input to the atmosphere was from natural sources, says the research team.
But since 1945, increases in Southern Hemisphere uranium levels have been attributed to industrial sources, including uranium mining in Australia, South Africa and Namibia. Since other land-source dust elements don’t show similar large increases in the ice core, and since the increased uranium concentrations are enriched above levels in the Earth’s crust, the source of uranium is attributed to human activities rather atmospheric circulation changes.
In 2007, a Brazilian-Chilean-U.S. team retrieved the ice core from the Detroit Plateau on the northern Antarctic Peninsula, which is one of the most rapidly changing regions on Earth.
More information: Mariusz Potocki et al. Recent increase in Antarctic Peninsula ice core uranium concentrations, Atmospheric Environment (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.06.010 Journal reference:Atmospheric Environment Provided by: University of Maine
The Kungkas wrote in an open letter: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”
Radioactive waste and the nuclear war on Australia’s Aboriginal people, Ecologist Jim Green 1st July 2016 “………Dumping on South Australia, 1998-2004
This isn’t the first time that Aboriginal people in South Australia have faced the imposition of a national nuclear waste dump. In 1998, the federal government announced its intention to build a dump near the rocket and missile testing range at Woomera.
The proposed dump generated such controversy in South Australia that the federal government hired a public relations company. Correspondence between the company and the government was released under Freedom of Information laws. Continue reading
Radioactive waste and the nuclear war on Australia’s Aboriginal people, Ecologist Jim Green 1st July 2016 “……..The 1998-2004 debate over nuclear waste dumping in South Australia overlapped with a controversy over a botched clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear weapons test site in the same state.
The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga. The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety during the weapons tests was characterised by “ignorance, incompetence and cynicism”.
The Australian government’s clean-up of Maralinga in the late 1990s was just as bad. It was done on the cheap and many tonnes of plutonium-contaminated waste remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology.
Nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the clean-up: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.”
Dr Geoff Williams, an officer with the Commonwealth nuclear regulator, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, said in a leaked email that the clean-up was beset by a “host of indiscretions, short-cuts and cover-ups”.
Nuclear physicist Prof. Peter Johnston noted that there were “very large expenditures and significant hazards resulting from the deficient management of the project”.
Prof. Johnston (and others) noted in a conference paper that Traditional Owners were excluded from any meaningful input into decision-making concerning the clean-up. Traditional Owners were represented on a consultative committee but key decisions – such as abandoning vitrification of plutonium-contaminated waste in favour of shallow burial in unlined trenches – were taken without consultation with the consultative committee or any separate discussions with Traditional Owners.
Federal government minister Senator Nick Minchin said in a May 2000 media release that the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners “have agreed that deep burial of plutonium is a safe way of handling this waste.” But the burial of plutonium-contaminated waste was not deep and the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners did not agree to waste burial in unlined trenches – in fact they wrote to the Minister explicitly dissociating themselves from the decision.
Barely a decade after the Maralinga clean-up, a survey revealed that 19 of the 85 contaminated waste pits have been subject to erosion or subsidence.
Despite the residual radioactive contamination, the Australian government off-loaded responsibility for the contaminated land onto the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners. The government portrayed this land transfer as an act of reconciliation. But it wasn’t an act of reconciliation – it was deeply cynical. The real agenda was spelt out in a 1996 government document which said that the clean-up was “aimed at reducing Commonwealth liability arising from residual contamination.”……http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987853/radioactive_waste_and_the_nuclear_war_on_australias_aboriginal_people.html
SA NUCLEAR BRIEFING Nigel Carney, June 16, 2016 Coober Pedy Regional Times “…… the issue South Australians are currently facing in the low level waste site selection process has always been a state and federal alliance, no mere coincidence of need…….
The Commission has been criticized widely as being a political stunt, not an independent Commission but rather a rubber stamp. The findings of the Commission released in May 2016 tend to support this view. The report itself presents evidence against its own findings. We are reminded that the Radium Hill mine and Port Pirie treatment plant remain as unresolved radioactive sites. The Commission finds:
‘The failure to consider the environment in the planning, operating and decommissioning of these facilities has resulted in ongoing management challenges….Although subsequent assessments of both sites show they do not pose a serious radiological risk to the health of visitors to the sites the state government is required to continue to monitor and manage potential environmental contamination’ (Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Findings May 2016)
Why then, the public may ask, would a Commission which acknowledges the failure of government to manage the legacy of the nuclear fuel cycle suggest the state has the capability of managing the world’s nuclear waste? Continue reading
Proposed International nuclear waste storage exposes Australia to risks of terrorism “In the event of a major nuclear accident, adverse impacts on the tourism, agriculture and property sectors could potentially be profound.” Nuclear Royal Commission Finding 155 Feb 2016, Impacts on other Sectors p.28
An International nuclear waste storage agenda exposes Australia to a range of potential profound adverse impacts in major nuclear accidents and in nuclear insecurity as a target for terrorism.
The SA Nuclear Royal Commission Final Report (9 May 2016, 16 Mb) flagged risks in proposed high level nuclear waste transport and storage and concluded that terrorist attack scenarios are conceivable and rocket attack has the greatest potential to cause a release of radiation from impacted waste transport and storage casks (Appendix L – Transport risk analysis p.312).
In an age of terrorism following the devastating September 11th 2001 attacks there is no room for denial on the real security risks society faces in nuclear and radiological terrorism. Continue reading
Kim Mavromatis 10 June 16 MORE NUMBERS – 138,000 tonnes of high level nuclear waste in 69,000 high level radioactive waste canisters equates to a permanent underground nuclear waste dump size of around 112 square kms or 5,500 Adelaide ovals, 400 metres underground – and that’s not taking into consideration the 470,000 m3 of low and intermediate level nuclear waste.
You can’t seriously tell me they will be able to build one nuclear waste dump that big?? in ground where there is no seismic activity in SA. Say yes to one and we will have many – say yes to one and we will end up with a toxic white elephant that will do us in or an economic white elephant that will do us in.