Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The health toll of Australia’s uranium nuclear industry – theme for June19

Well -they carefully haven’t kept health records, have they?

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY, Parliament of Australia 

4.1 The perception that uranium mining has not led to ill health effects in workers has been created through the lack of comprehensive studies on worker health and the failure of Governments to establish a national registry for health workers. …..

Uranium mining, however, presents unique risks over other mining operations. Because of the presence of radioactive elements, uranium miners are at risk not only of immediate health problems, but of delayed fatal effects such as cancer. There is also the potential for radiation exposure to lead to illness and defects in the offspring of uranium miners

RADIATION EXPOSURE FOR URANIUM MINERS.  The potentially serious effects of radiation on workers has been shown by previous mines in Australia. Evidence was given to the Committee that 40% of underground workers at the Radium Hill mine in South Australia have died of lung cancer [12]. Even with more recent mining operations it was clear that worker health and safety was not given the priority it deserves. On a trip to the closed Narbarlek mine, the Committee saw worker health records and files left scattered on the floor of an abandoned administrative building. When the Committee visited WMC’s Olympic Dam mine, it saw workers who were not wearing the Thermoluminescent Dial (TLD) badges which register their exposure to radiation.   https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Former_Committees/uranium/report/d05#10

Kirsten Johnson
kirstjohn@aapt.net.au  I have a father, uncle and two aunts who all worked at Rum Jungle in the 1960’s. My father and uncle passed away in their 60’s due to lung cancer. My aunt in her 60’s due to breast cancer and my other aunt who is still with us today has also had breast cancer. Surely this cannot be a coincidence and I would like to know if there is information with regards to the health impact that the Rum Jungle uranium mine has had on past workers.

Janet Dickinson nee Litchfield
dickinsonjanet@hotmail.com  – I am Kirsten Johnson’s aunt, and sister to Judy, Peter and Kevin Litchfield who passed away with cancer. all having worked at Rum Jungle in the 50’s. My father in law also passed away in 1979, aged 70 from lung cancer, he worked at Rum Jungle for 20 years from 1958. I have just recently been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

Health effects on Aboriginal people near Ranger uranium mine. 

….Since 1981, three years after mining began, at least 120 ‘mishaps’ and ‘occurrences’ — leakages, spillages of contaminated water, and breaches of regulations — have occurred. The Office of the Supervising Scientist has consistently claimed no harm to either the environment or human health — a claim difficult to substantiate. Since completion of the AIATSIS social impact monitoring report in 1984, there has been no monitoring of the social and physical impact on Aboriginal health and well-being, and no agency has specifically investigated the impacts on Aboriginal health.

Exploratory research undertaken in 2005 and 2006 has found a significant overall increase in the incidence of cancer among Aboriginal people in the Kakadu region — some ninety per cent greater than would be expected. We could not determine possible effects on maternal and child health because data on congenital malformations and stillbirths were not available. …. https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/products/discussion_paper/dp20-aborigines-uranium-monitoring-health-hazards_0.pdf

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June 8, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Christina themes, health, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

COURT STATEMENT: WANGAN & JAGALINGOU COUNCIL – on the Adani coal project and Aboriginal rights

May 30, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

The harm done to indigenous people, through uranium mining – and it’s happening again

Uranium mines harm Indigenous people – so why have we approved a new one?     https://theconversation.com/uranium-mines-harm-indigenous-people-so-why-have-we-approved-a-new-one-116262   The Conversation, 1 May 19, In the 1970s, when the Ranger mine opened, the Mirarr people felt largely powerless in negotiations between mining companies and the federal government.

Last week, the Tjiwarl experienced similar disempowerment. Yet both communities are recognised by the government as traditional owners.

Unsurprisingly, Australia is yet to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, continuing the persistently toxic legacy of Australia’s nuclear industry.May 1, 2019   Last week the federal government approved the Yeelirrie uraniam mine in Western Australia in the face of vigorous protest from traditional owners.

This Canadian-owned uranium mine is the newest instalment in Australia’s long tradition of ignoring the dignity and welfare of Aboriginal communities in the pursuit of nuclear fuel.

For decades, Australia’s desert regions have experienced uranium prospecting, mining, waste dumping and nuclear weapons testing. Settler-colonial perceptions that these lands were “uninhabited” led to widespread environmental degradation at the hands of the nuclear industry.

As early as 1906, South Australia’s Radium Hill was mined for radium. Amateur prospectors mined haphazardly, damaging Ngadjuri and Wilyakali lands. And an estimated 100,000 tonnes of toxic mine residue(tailings) remain at Radium Hill with the potential to leach radioactive material into the environment.

Uranium mines across Australia have similar legacies, with decades of activism from the Mirarr people against the Ranger and Jabiluka mine sites in Kakadu National Park.

In the 36 years since it began operating, the Ranger mine has produced over 125,000 tonnes of uranium and experienced more than 200 accidents. In 2013, a reported one million litres of contaminated materialspilt into the surrounding environment.

Aboriginal communities remain at a disproportionate risk because large uranium deposits exist in lands deemed sacred and significant, while the testing and dumping of nuclear material is rarely undertaken in areas inhabited by settlers.

The federal government’s ambivalence toward these impacts has most recently culminated in their decision to give Cameco the go-ahead for the Yeelirrle uranium mine, a blow to the traditional owners of Tjiwarl country.

Native title fails to protect traditional owners from the mining industry

The Tjiwarl people have fought the Yeelirrie mine alongside the Conservation Council of WA for more than two years. They now must grapple with the government’s decision to ignore their resistance.

And in 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) negotiated with the United Nations to create a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The treaty, adopted on July 7, 2017, recognised the disproportionate impact nuclear material has on Indigenous communities around the world. It includes the mining and milling of uranium.

The treaty warns that parties should be:

mindful of the unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (hibakusha), as well as of those affected by the testing of nuclear weapons, [and recognise] the disproportionate impact of nuclear-weapon activities on indigenous peoples.

Nuclear weapons sourced from Aboriginal lands

The toxic legacy of uranium mining is not isolated to the contamination of ecosystems.

Radium Hill provided uranium for weapons for the United Kingdom and United States, including the nuclear weapons tested at Maralinga and Emu Field in the 1950s and 1960s.

These weapons spread radioactive contamination and dispossessed Aboriginal communities in and around the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands.

Uranium from the Ranger mine in Northern Territory found its way into the Fukushima Reactor, a reality that plagues the Mirrar people. In 2011, traditional owner Yvonne Margarula expressed her sorrow for those affected by the Fukushima meltdown:

it is likely that the radiation problems at Fukushima are, at least in part, fuelled by uranium derived from our traditional lands. This makes us feel very sad.

These legacies are felt acutely by those who continue to struggle with the lack of protection from native title and other government policies apparently designed to prevent the exploitation of Aboriginal communities by various industries.

In the 1970s, when the Ranger mine opened, the Mirarr people felt largely powerless in negotiations between mining companies and the federal government.

Last week, the Tjiwarl experienced similar disempowerment. Yet both communities are recognised by the government as traditional owners.

Unsurprisingly, Australia is yet to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, continuing the persistently toxic legacy of Australia’s nuclear industry.

May 2, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

British exhibition on nuclear testing glosses over the impact on Aboriginal people

Cold War exhibition tries to airbrush Britain’s dark history of nuclear testing, The Conversation, Sue Rabbitt Roff, Researcher, Social History/Tutor in Medical Education, University of Dundee, May 2, 2019  A new exhibition about the Cold War recently opened at the UK National Archives at Kew in south-west London. Protect and Survive: Britain’s Cold War Revealed seeks to tell the story of how the years of high nuclear tensions affected the UK, from spy paranoia to civil defence posters to communications at the heart of government. …..

an extremely important facet of Britain’s Cold War has been almost entirely airbrushed from the story. There is barely anything in the exhibition about the 45 atomic and nuclear weapons detonations carried out by the British: 12 in Australia from 1952-57, nine in the central Pacific in 1957-58, and a further 24 alongside the Americans in the Nevada desert until as recently as 1991. The effects on the health of all this testing on indigenous people and some 22,000 British servicemen who were sent as observers is still being researched.
The Cold War exhibition includes three photos showing the atmospheric effect of the 1952 detonation off the Montebello Islands off north-western Australia. There is one additional picture of the hydrogen bomb that was exploded near Christmas Island in May 1957, the first of the central Pacific series, which persuaded the US to resume nuclear collaboration with the UK. And that’s about it. Worse, the exhibition includes a map of the global impact of the nuclear era in which the test locations in Australia are obscured by lettering – not least Maralinga, an important Aboriginal area in which seven detonations took place.

Files under review

My understanding is that decisions about the content of the exhibition were finalised late last year. Interestingly, this was around the same time as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the public body with ultimate responsibility for the UK’s nuclear legacy withdrew recordsfrom the National Archives relating to 1950s nuclear weapons tests that had been declassified decades ago, pending a “security review” by the Ministry of Defence and Atomic Weapons Establishment. Specialists in this field have long complained about the many files concerning British testing that have remained secret, which makes the withdrawal of declassified files all the more unsettling………

Remembrance, The omissions at the London Cold War exhibition are a reminder about the UK’s low-key approach to its weapons testing history. The story doesn’t only need to be properly told at this exhibition, it needs a permanent public space. Yet no existing museum dedicated to Britain’s wars is interested in giving it house room – not even the records and memorabilia of all the military personnel sent to observe the tests. A number of years ago I was quietly told while walking down a corridor in one major institution not to offer it my own records because “they will end up in the skip”.

My years working in this field indicate to me that successive governments seem to want the story of British nuclear testing to die off naturally. But surely, at the very least, the point of the National Archives is to preserve the records to ensure that it is never allowed to be forgotten. https://theconversation.com/cold-war-exhibition-tries-to-airbrush-britains-dark-history-of-nuclear-testing-116237

May 2, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Traditional owners fight Adani coal project, – fear destruction of their sacred wetlands

May 2, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment | Leave a comment

UK nuclear testing in Australia – Trident anniversary – no cause for celebration.

Trident celebrations ignore Aboriginal victims of British nuclear weapons testing, Green Left, Linda Pearson, April 26, 2019 Issue 1218, Scotland   

THE Royal Navy’s plan to hold a “national services of thanksgiving” at Westminster Abbey to mark 50 years of Britain’s submarine-based nuclear weapons has provoked condemnation from senior clergy and peace campaigners.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) General Secretary Kate Hudson said the plan is “morally repugnant” and the organisation is urging supporters to convey their opposition to Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson. Two Bishops and more than 20 priests have called on Westminster Abbey to cancel the service, which is set to take place on May 3……

The rhetoric of “deterrence” and “defence” is routinely invoked by nuclear-armed states to obscure the horrifying truth about nuclear weapons and justify national security doctrines that rely on them. Nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power; “designed to indiscriminately kill and destroy thousands of innocent civilians”, as the Bishop of Colchester told The Times last week. This reality was recognised by most of the world’s countries, which voted to ban nuclear weapons in 2017.

Britain’s nuclear weapons program has already destroyed the lives of countless innocent civilians. More than 1200 Indigenous Australians were exposed to radiation during British nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s, while many others were displaced. The effects continue to be experienced by their families today. Some are now calling on the British government to apologise for the testing, instead of celebrating Trident.

Nuclear testing in Australia

Britain conducted 12 major nuclear weapons tests in Australia at the Montebello Islands, and at Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia.

After securing the agreement of the Australian government, the British established a permanent test site at Maralinga in 1955. Seven major and several hundred “minor” tests were carried out there, releasing 100kg of radioactive materials into the surrounding area.

The British and Australian governments of the day demonstrated a callous disregard for the lives of Aboriginal people that is characteristic of the settler-colonial mindset. Permission to conduct the testing was not sought from Aboriginal landowners and the Australian government decided they should not be informed of the risks.

When an Australian scientist asked British authorities about the potential danger to local Aboriginal people, the response was that “a dying race couldn’t influence the defence of Western civilisation”.

Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their land prior to the tests, destroying their way of life. Others experienced serious health issues as a result of their exposure to radiation.

Yankunytjatjara man Yami Lester went blind after a “black mist” from the explosions enveloped his country. Others experienced skin rashes, diarrhea and vomiting. Today, Aboriginal communities in the area experience high rates of diseases associated with the effects of radiation poisoning.

Yami Lester’s daughter, Karina Lester, and her family played a crucial role in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). They collected and shared stories from the survivors of nuclear weapons testing that were instrumental in convincing 122 states that the only safe way to deal with nuclear weapons is to eliminate them.

ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to bring about the 2017 United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The historic treaty recognises “the disproportionate impact of nuclear-weapon activities on Indigenous peoples”. The British and Australian governments boycotted the UN negotiations, however, and have ruled out signing the treaty.

No cause for celebration

Karina Lester said “survivors of the British Nuclear Tests carried out on Australian soil in the 1950’s and 1960’s in South Australia’s outback are still haunted. The Indigenous communities still suffer with high numbers of deaths, cancers, respiratory illnesses and autoimmune disease.”

Several attempts to clean up the Maralinga site have been made by British and Australian governments, thanks to the campaigning of survivors like Yami Lester, but contamination at the site remains. In 1995, Aboriginal peoples received just £7.5 million for the loss and contamination of their land. Only £110,000 has been paid to five Aboriginal people to compensate for their exposure to radiation. A class action was blocked by Britain’s Supreme Court in 2013.

Karina Lester said that the affected communities “have had no apology for the wrongdoings on our traditional lands to this day. As the British Government celebrates 50 years with nuclear weapons, Australia’s Indigenous communities in South Australia wear the scars.”

Instead of celebrating, Lester said, “we Indigenous South Australians urge the British government to own up and apologise for your actions…………”https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/trident-celebrations-ignore-aboriginal-victims-british-nuclear-weapons-testing

April 27, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Traditional Owners fighting Adani coal mine mount fresh legal challenge   

 https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2019/04/10/traditional-owners-fighting-adani-coal-mine-mount-fresh-legal-challenge?fbclid=IwAR2CDn6KvmYhrD2yfZ2-Hz7sGtKr0MRWbA5fDQFVvr1S-3Oxk_OOd509qyk   Adani gained federal government approval for its controversial mine project but could be stopped by a courtroom confrontation from Traditional Owners.  By Ella Archibald-Binge, 10 Apr 19

Source: 

NITV News

Traditional Owners opposed to the Carmichael mine will mount a legal challenge in the federal court next month to overturn Adani’s crucial agreement with Indigenous landholders.

The mining company’s groundwater management plan was approved this week by Federal Environment Melissa Price and before construction can begin the Queensland government needs to sign off on environmental approvals.

However, if successful, next month’s court hearing could have severe ramifications.

A handful of Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) native title claimants are seeking to invalidate Adani’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA), which is required for the mining company to build key infrastructure.

Some W&J native title claimants support the mine but those who oppose it say the ILUA is a “sham”.

Their claims were dismissed in a court hearing last year and the group will now appeal that verdict to the full bench of the federal court.

‘An act of war on our people’

Adrian Burragubba, one of the anti-Adani claimants, said he felt confident ahead of the hearing.

“That full bench federal court has allowed us to argue at least ten points – all we need is one of those points to get up in that argument and that ILUA will then become null and void,” he told NITV News.

“You can’t start building a mine until you get that ILUA, so nobody wants to talk about it because it’s the main thing that’s holding up the mine.”

Mr Burragubba  also criticised the federal government’s decision to approve Adani’s groundwater management plan, claiming the project would destroy ancient springs.

“Water is part of our dreaming as First Nations people,” he said.

“This will fracture our ties with our ancestors and will essentially be an act of war on our people.”

Environmental approval ‘reeks of political interference’

Meanwhile, Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said she would not be rushing the remaining approvals.

“I will not be bullied and I will not allow the regulator to be bullied,” the Labor MP said.

“The federal minister’s decision yesterday to approve Adani’s [groundwater management plan] reeks of political interference, and in many ways puts into question the integrity of her decision-making process.”

Adani Australia CEO Lucas Dow said the approval followed 18 months of environmental evaluation by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia.

“The measures outlined in the plans will ensure groundwater at the mine, and the ecosystems that depend on it, are protected,” he said in a statement.

April 11, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

 Australian Greens Platform for equality for First Nations Peoples 

 
greens.org.au/platform/equality#first-peoples
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April 7, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australia and Britain’s shameful history of Nuclear Bombing of First Nations Lands   

Living with the legacy of British Nuclear testing: Bobby Brown

Maralinga No More: The British Nuclear Bombing of First Nations Lands   https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/maralinga-no-more-the-british-nuclear-bombing-of-first-nations-lands/?fbclid=IwAR0UIC6VK_x6i8NAStEyZHZXK-Sld-IH4HFyE9gy-Zngp4RzaLtVeiWV7tM, By Paul Gregoire   31/03/2019


As former Australian Conservation Foundation anti-nuclear campaigner David Noonan put it in 2005, “Australia is the only society to have ever provided its own uranium to an overseas nuclear weapons state to make nuclear weapons to then bomb back on their own land.”

And it was Scott Morrison’s pin-up boy, former prime minister Robert Menzies, who in 1950 said yes to the British government carrying out secret nuclear weapons tests without initially consulting cabinet, whilst making assurances that no negative radioactive impact would occur.

Around 800 kilometres northeast of Adelaide, Maralinga was chosen as the main nuclear testing site, as the government found that the Maralinga Tjarutja people – who’d been living there since time immemorial – weren’t actually using the land.

The local Indigenous peoples were never consulted about the testing. Many were forcibly removed from their lands and taken to Yalata mission in SA, which effectively served as a prison camp. Some remained in the vicinity of the test site. Signs written in English were erected warning them to leave.

Indeed, on 27 September 1956, when the first nuclear device, One Tree, was detonated at Maralinga, First Nations peoples had no rights under Commonwealth Law. The vote didn’t come until 1962, while citizenship rights weren’t granted until the 1967 Referendum.

A toxic legacy

The Menzies Liberal government passed the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952, which effectively allowed the British to access remotes parts of Australia to test atomic weapons. The general public for the most part had no awareness or understanding of what would take place.

British and Australian servicemen built a test site, airstrip and township at Maralinga known as Section 400. Australian troops signed documents under Australian secrecy laws that required them never to divulge any operational information, with the threat of harsh prison sentences.

Between September 1956 and October 1957, the British set off seven above ground nuclear bombs ranging from 1 to 27 kilotons. The first four were part of Operation Buffalo, while the last three made up Operation Antler.

Following these tests, the British continued to carry out around 600 minor nuclear warhead tests up until 1963. And it was these that caused the greatest contamination. The most dire being the Vixen B tests that led to massive contamination of plutonium, which has a half-life of over 24,000 years.

The impact upon First Nations

Around 1,200 Aboriginal people were exposed to the radioactive fallout of the tests. This could lead to blindness, skin rashes and fever. It caused the early deaths of entire families. And long-term illnesses such as cancer and lung disease became prevalent amongst these communities.

As for those who were moved away from their homelands, their way of life was destroyed. The Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act was passed by the SA parliament in 1984, which ensured the damaged land was handed back freehold to traditional owners, as soon as it became “safe” again.

The Maralinga Tjarutja people, as well as other First Nations peoples, gradually returned to their homelands. Australia and reluctant British governments carried out initially terribly shonky clean-ups, that got progressively better, of the Maralinga site in 1967, 2000 and 2009.

And the British government eventually paid affected Aboriginal peoples $13.5 million in compensation for the loss and contamination of their lands in 1995.

Prior to Maralinga

The late Yankunytjatjara elder Yami Lester was just a boy living at Walatinna in the South Australian outback, when at 7 am on 15 October 1953, the British detonated a nuclear bomb at a test site at Emu Fields, northeast of Maralinga.

Mr Lester watched as a long, black cloud of smoke stretched out from the bomb site towards his homelands. In the wake of two tests carried out at Emu Fields within 12 days of each other, Yemi permanently lost his site, sudden deaths occurred, and his people suffered long-term illnesses.

The Emu Fields blasts were not the first on Australian soils. The initial nuclear bomb blast was carried out on the Monte Bello Islands in October 1952, while two more blasts took place in this Indian Ocean region in 1956.

And just like the Maralinga and Emu Fields blasts, the radioactive waste from these islands travelled across the entire continent. Two hotspots of excessive radioactive fallout resulting from the Emu Fields blasts were the NSW towns of Lismore and Dubbo.

Adding insult to injury

In 1989, the federal government announced it was establishing a nuclear waste dump near Coober Pedy in SA on the lands the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a senior women’s council representing the local peoples, many of whom had directly suffered the impacts of British nuclear testing.

As opposition to the dump grew, the government used the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act 1989 to seize the land, where it proposed to store the waste that was being produced at Sydney’s Lucas Heights reactor.

n July 2004, after a six year long battle the Kungka Tjuta senior women brought a stop the nuclear waste repository being situated on their land. And the federal government then turned to the NT’s Muckaty Station to dump the NSW waste. However, after that fell through, it’s still looking for a site.

The global threat continues

Maralinga took place at the height of the Cold War, after the US government refused to continue its nuclear program with British participation. And following World War Two, the crumbling empire sought to develop its own nuclear capacities in its faraway colonial backyard.

But, while many believe the threat of nuclear war faded with the end of the Cold War, renowned political analyst Noam Chomsky still warns that the two major threats in the world today are climate change and nuclear war.

Chomsky has pointed to a March 2007 article published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences that revealed the “extremely dangerous” threat the Trump administration’s nuclear forces modernisation program is creating.

And as of January this year, the Doomsday Clock – which measures the likelihood of human-made global catastrophe – is still set at two minutes to midnight, as it first was 12 months prior. Based on the two threats identified by Chomsky, this setting is the closest to midnight it’s been since 1953.

April 6, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference | 4 Comments

Western Australian Aboriginal community uses solar hydropanel to solve problem of uranium in water

Buttah Windee in remote WA now has clean water thanks to solar hydropanel technology   https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-31/solar-hydropanels-fix-water-supply-in-remote-community/10941788?fbclid=IwAR2j446RfOuRIZNBC0K1xY6CWBq3Jnn48zx0b-WiuI8o96Jklb-bL1pfZHQ

Key points:

  • Six solar hydropanels have been installed in the small WA community, capturing 900 litres of water a month from the air
  • The community had discovered its water supply contained uranium more than twice the national health standard, and the State Government deemed it too expensive to address
  • With the help of crowdfunding and technology donated by a WA company, the residents of the community no longer need to live elsewhere

The remote Aboriginal community is 760 kilometres north-east of Perth on the outskirts of Meekatharra.

Almost a decade ago, resident Andrew Binsiar discovered the community’s water was tainted with naturally occurring uranium at more than twice the national health standard.

“I was actually very surprised,” he said.

“You’d imagine people would test the water for human consumption before people are allowed to drink it.”

Unable to drink the community’s tap water, most of the 50 people who lived at Buttah Windee left.

Too expensive to fix: State Government

But for Andrew Binsiar and his wife Janine, leaving the home where they had raised their five children was not an option.

He turned to the State Government for help, but was told fixing the water supply would be too expensive.

“They come out and put up ‘do not drink the water’ signs and that was their solution to it,” Mr Binsiar said.

The State Government offered to move the remaining residents into state housing in Meekatharra, but Mr Binsiar was apprehensive about exposing his family to the town’s social issues.

“We knocked them back … for the simple reason I’d already been there and done that. My life changed when I moved here,” he said.

“I wasn’t a very good father when I lived in Meeka.”

Solar hydropanels pull water from air

Almost a decade on, Buttah Windee is the first remote Aboriginal community in Australia to use innovative technology for its water supply.

Six solar hydropanels have been installed at the outback community, donated by a WA company who heard about the community’s plight and wanted to help out.

Director of Wilco Electrical Frank Mitchell said the units captured water from the air and produced up to 900 litres of water a month.

“Those fans, you can hear them whirring away, are just drawing in air all day, all around, and the piece of material inside collects … the moisture in the air, then condenses down into the tank where it’s got a pump straight out to the tap,” he said.

Mr Binsiar said it was a simple idea, which should be introduced to all remote communities.

“Water is a basic human right that everyone deserves,” he said.

“It could mean better health for your children … I would guarantee that most communities have bad water.”

Crowdfunding rallies support

The near decade-long battle for clean drinking water has not come easily for the Buttah Windee residents, with Mr Binsiar turning to crowdfunding as a last resort.

Word spread quickly when Mr Binsiar began the fundraising campaign last year, and people from across Australia donated nearly $26,000 in three months.

“It was a huge success. The Australian public have been awesome,” he said.

Mr Binsiar used the funds to install a reverse osmosis water treatment plant.

“Reverse osmosis takes out all the contaminants in the water … on the back end of it, it puts the minerals your body needs back into the water,” he said.

“They’ve given us a chance where no-one else would and we are really proud of what we have done here.”

Barramundi fish farm to boost employment

The two separate systems now supply the community with safe drinking water and enough water to run a small barramundi fish farm.

Mr Binsiar and several residents built the fish farm hoping it would eventually provide local employment and a potential source of income.    “Hopefully we can continue on and make it bigger and provide this region with fresh barramundi,” he said.

“I’d like to welcome everyone out to Buttah Windee and come and look at the work we do.”

April 1, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, solar, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Hypocrisy in Scotland. For political reasons, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon refused to meet Aboriginal nuclear waste protestor

Gaffe reveals why Sturgeon refused to meet nuclear waste protestor    https://theferret.scot/sturgeon-nuclear-waste-protestor/  James McEnaney on March 14, 2019 The Scottish Government has mistakenly revealed that Nicola Sturgeon refused to meet an Aboriginal nuclear waste protestor in an attempt to avoid political damage – not because she was too busy, as her officials said. 

Internal emails uncovered by The Ferret reveal that the First Minister was advised to turn down a request for a meeting in 2018 so as not to become a “focus for criticism”. But officials said the public reason given for her refusal would be “on the standard basis of diary pressures”.

Campaigners reacted with sadness, saying that the Scottish Government’s “ears are closed”. The government stressed that it had “very limited scope” to address the issues raised.

Nuclear fuel was sent from an Australian research reactor to Dounreay on the north coast of Scotland for reprocessing in the 1990s. The resulting radioactive waste, amounting to 51 cemented drums, was originally due to be returned to Australia for disposal.

But under the terms of a waste substitution deal in 2014, Scottish and UK governments agreed that the drums should stay at Dounreay. Instead, the plan is to send four containers of “radiologically equivalent” waste to Australia from the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria.

Two sites have been identified for a planned store for the waste in south Australia – Wallerberdina Station, near Hawker, and Kimber – both of which face opposition from indigenous communities. The Ferret reported in February that Scottish ministers had been advised that they had powers to prevent the waste being exported to protect human rights.

March 16, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics international | Leave a comment

Landmark High Court decision guides how compensation for native title losses will be determined

March 14, 2019 1.43pm AEDT William Isdale  Jonathan Fulcher 
theconversation.com/landmark-high-court-decision-guides-how-compensation-for-native-title-losses-will-be-determined-113346
‘The High Court has decided, for the first time, the approach that should be taken to resolving native title compensation claims. In a previous article, we said it would be “the most significant case concerning Indigenous land rights since the Mabo and Wik decisions”. The High Court’s decision yesterday certainly stands up to that description, and provides a degree of certainty for native title holders and governments. … ‘

March 16, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Abbot Point Nine fines reduced on appeal

Source Documentmailchi.mp/frontlineaction.org/anti-adani-activist-fines-reduced  8 March 2019 

Nine anti-Adani activists, each originally fined $8,000 for disciplined non-violent direct action, which blocked coal exports from Adani’s Abbot point coal terminal for a total of 14 hours in January 2018, have expressed great relief that their fines have been substantially reduced on appeal to Bowen District Court.

The activists’ fines were reduced to between $2,000 to $3,000 each.

“Our actions were aimed to highlight the massive threat posed to a liveable planet for future generations by Adani’s railway and mine. Burning the Galilee Basin’s coal will make limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, as agreed at Paris, an impossibility.” said Liisa Rusanen, one of the nine activists.

“In confronting the climate emergency, of course we need to phase out coal and other fossil fuels. We also need to stop billion-dollar corporations from dictating government policy. The destruction of the environment has deep roots in the current political system and our future depends on facing this.” Added Nic Avery, another of the nine activists.

Another of the nine, Ella Skerret, pointed out “our original fines totalled $72,000 compared to Adani’s $12,000 fine for exceeding their licensed release of polluted water into the Caley Valley Wetlands during cyclone Debbie.  A second pollution incident occurred in the recent major rainfall event and is being investigated. Will they be handed another meagre fine?”

The nine activists thanked Caxton Legal Centre, in addition to Barristers Andrew Boe and Sian McGee for their dedicated hard work in achieving this appeal court outcome.

March 9, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Traditional owners and Western Australia’s Conservation Council continue legal action, to uphold environmental law  

Battle against Yeelirrie uranium mine continues for traditional owners and Conservation Council     https://thewest.com.au/business/uranium/battle-against-yeelirrie-uranium-mine-continues-for-traditional-owners-and-conservation-council-ng-b881125927z 5 March 2019  Traditional owners and the Conservation Council of WA are continuing their fight against a proposed uranium mine, fearing unique subterranean fauna in the project area will be made extinct if it proceeds.
Former State environment minister Albert Jacob gave the green light to Cameco’s Yeelirrie mine proposal in January 2017, just 16 days before the pre-election caretaker mode began. Yeelirrie is 70km southwest of Wiluna in the Mid West region.Together with members of the Tjiwarl native title group, CCWA challenged the approval in the Supreme Court but lost, and have now taken their   battle to the Court of Appeal.  CCWA director Piers Verstegen said the previous government was desperate to lock-in a uranium project before it lost power, going against the advice of the Environmental Protection Authority, which was concerned about the impact of mining on subterranean fauna.

“Stygofauna might be a relatively obscure species. In fact, these particular species of stygofauna were not known to science until the proponent started exploring for uranium in that area,” Mr Verstegen said on Tuesday.

“But the legal precedent here has much broader implications.

“We’re certainly very keen to be upholding environmental laws … which were never intended to be used by a minister or a government to approve the extinction of species.”

The matter was heard on Tuesday and a decision will be handed down at a later date.

March 7, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, legal, opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Long delayed realisation of Australia’s brutal history of massacres of Aboriginal people

As the toll of Australia’s frontier brutality keeps climbing, truth telling is long overdue,  The myth of benign, peaceful settlement persists today – even as historians reveal a far more sinister picture

 The Killing Times: the massacres of Aboriginal people Australia must confront
 A massacre map of the frontier wars – interactive

Guardian by Paul Daley, 4 Mar 19 

“…………  The Australian Museum estimates that pre-European invasion in 1788, about 750,000 Indigenous people (representing some 700 language groups) inhabited the continent that would become Australia. This figure may well be an underestimate.

Little over a century later, by federation in 1901, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island population had diminished to some 117,000. Black-white warfare and organised massacres, no matter how you define them, with police, British soldiers, native police, militia and raiding parties as the perpetrators, accounted for many tens of thousands of deaths. Individual acts of violence – including shootings, poisonings, torture and illegal incarceration – killed many more. Battle wounds, starvation (owing to the depletion of traditional hunting grounds) and disease – all of which can also be directly linked to invasion and frontier conflict – killed countless others.

Yet the historiographic confect of benign, peaceful settlement and the unexplained “passing” or “extinction” of the “natives” pervaded well into the 1960s, replete with the deception that very few Aboriginal people died violently during pastoral and urban expansion and dispossession. Things began to change with the emergence of a new, more inquisitive, less empire-centric cohort of historians and writers who, not content with the Anglophile colonial trope of terra nullius and benevolence to the Indigenes, began to commit truth to the page………..

In the 1970s and 1980s a number of historians – among them Henry Reynolds, Marilyn Lake and Richard Broome – began focusing on frontier violence, using the colonial records, newspaper archives and family histories (including generational oral accounts of killings).

Reynolds is acknowledged as the first Australian historian to make a calculated continental estimate of the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who died violently in Australian frontier conflict. In his 1981 book, The Other Side of the Frontier, and after at least a decade’s research Reynolds estimated the figure at about 20,000……….

Reynolds speaks of the significance of Evans and Ørsted-Jensen’s research on the numbers of killings in colonial Queensland.

Based on an extrapolation of native police documentation, they estimated (conservatively) that as many as 60,000 Aboriginal people died in frontier violence in Queensland alone.

The national implications of the figure are profound; the wars that raged across this continent from 1788 did, it seem, claim more Indigenous lives than 62,000 Australian service personnel who died in the first world war………… https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/mar/04/as-the-toll-of-australias-frontier-brutality-keeps-climbing-truth-telling-is-long-overdue

March 4, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment