Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Maralinga Britain’s guinea pig land for toxic nuclear bomb testing

Australia’s Least Likely Tourist Spot: A Test Site for Atom Bombs, NYT, 

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April 18, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, personal stories, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

20 years’ anniversary of Mirarr traditional Aboriginal owners blockade of Jabiluka

Guardian 2nd April 2018, One of Australia’s proudest land rights struggles is passing an important
anniversary: it is 20 years since the establishment of the blockade camp at
Jabiluka in Kakadu national park.

This was the moment at which push would
come to shove at one of the world’s largest high-grade uranium deposits.
The industry would push, and people power would shove right back.

The blockade set up a confrontation between two very different kinds of power:
on the one side, the campaign was grounded in the desire for
self-determination by the Mirarr traditional Aboriginal owners,
particularly the formidable senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula. They
were supported by a tiny handful of experienced paid staff and backed by an
international network of environment advocates, volunteer activists and
researchers.  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/03/20-years-on-from-the-jabiluka-mine-protest-we-can-find-hope-in-its-success

April 4, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

AUSTRALIA’S HISTORY OF MISMANAGING RADIOACTIVE WASTE

Friends of the Earth, Australia, www.nuclear.foe.org.au, January 2018
“The disposal of radioactive waste in Australia is ill-considered and irresponsible. Whether it is short-lived waste from Commonwealth facilities, long-lived plutonium waste from an atomic bomb test site on Aboriginal land, or reactor waste from Lucas Heights. The government applies double standards to suit its own agenda; there is no consistency, and little evidence of logic.” ‒ Nuclear engineer Alan Parkinson11 Alan Parkinson, 2002, ‘Double standards with radioactive waste’, Australasian Science, https://nuclear.foe.org.au/flawed-clean-up-of-maralinga/

https://nuclear.foe.org.au/flawed-clean-up-of-maralinga/

RADIUM HILL: A radioactive waste repository at Radium Hill “is not engineered to a standard consistent with current internationally accepted practice” according to a 2003 SA government audit.

PORT PIRIE: The Port Pirie uranium treatment plant is still contaminated over 50 years after its closure. It took a six-year community campaign just to get the site fenced off and to carry out a partial rehabilitation. As of July 2015, the SA government’s website states that “a long-term management strategy for the former site” is being developed.

ARKAROOLA WILDERNESS SANCTUARY: SA regulators failed to detect Marathon Resource’s illegal dumping of low level radioactive waste in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. If not for the detective work of the managers of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, the illegal activities would likely be continuing to this day. The incident represents a serious failure of SA government regulation. The Royal Commission report dealt with this scandal in two sentences and failed to note that the SA government regulator did not detect the illegal dumping of radioactive waste.

MARALINGA: The ‘clean-up’ of nuclear waste at the Maralinga nuclear test site in the late 1990s was a fiasco:2
•                    • Nuclear engineer 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.”

•                    • Scientist Dale Timmons said the government’s technical report was littered with “gross misinformation”.

•                    • Dr Geoff Williams, an officer with the Commonwealth nuclear regulator ARPANSA, said that the ‘clean-up’ was beset by a “host of indiscretions, short-cuts and cover-ups”.

•                    • Nuclear physicist Prof. Peter Johnston (now with ARPANSA) noted that there were “very large expenditures and significant hazards resulting from the deficient management of the project”.

If there was some honesty about the mismanagement of radioactive waste in Australia, coupled with remediation of contaminated sites, we might have some confidence that lessons have been learned and that radioactive waste will be managed more responsibly in future.

But there is no such honesty from the government, and there are no plans to clean up contaminated sites.

More information: Pages 11-15 in Submission to SA Joint Select Committee, https://tinyurl.com/jsc-sub

February 1, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear Racism in Australia

Jim Green, Anti-nuclear & Clean Energy (ACE) Campaign, Friends of the Earth, Australia, www.nuclear.foe.org.au  January 2018 

The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga in South Australia. Permission was not sought from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha. Thousands of people were adversely affected and the impact on Aboriginal people was particularly profound.

The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety was characterised by “ignorance, incompetence and cynicism”. Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their homelands and taken to places such as the Yalata mission in South Australia, which was effectively a prison camp.

In the late-1990s, the Australian government carried out a clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear test site. It was done on the cheap and many tonnes of debris contaminated with kilograms of plutonium remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology. As nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the ‘clean-up’ on ABC radio in August 2002: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.”

Barely a decade after the ‘clean-up’, a survey revealed that 19 of the 85 contaminated debris pits had been subject to erosion or subsidence. The half-life of plutonium-239 is 24,100 years.

Radioactive ransom − dumping on the NT

From 2005−2014 successive federal governments attempted to impose a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, 110 km north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. A toxic trade-off of basic services for a radioactive waste dump was part of this story from the start. The nomination of the Muckaty site was made with the promise of $12 million compensation package comprising roads, houses and scholarships. Muckaty Traditional Owner Kylie Sambo objected to this radioactive ransom: “I think that is a very, very stupid idea for us to sell our land to get better education and scholarships. As an Australian we should be already entitled to that.”

The Liberal/National Coalition government led by John Howard passed legislation − the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 − overriding the Aboriginal Heritage Act, undermining the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and allowing the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent.

The Australian Labor Party voted against the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act, with Labor parliamentarians describing it as “extreme”, “arrogant”, “draconian”, “sorry”, “sordid”, and “profoundly shameful”. At its 2007 national conference, Labor voted unanimously to repeal the legislation. Yet after the 2007 election, the Labor government passed legislation − the National Radioactive Waste Management Act (NRWMA) − which was almost as draconian and still permitted the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent.

In February 2008, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd highlighted the life-story of Lorna Fejo − a member of the stolen generation − in the National Apology in Parliament House. At the same time, the Rudd government was stealing her land for a nuclear dump. Fejo said: “I’m very, very disappointed and downhearted about that [NRWMA legislation]. I’m really sad. The thing is − when are we going to have a fair go? Australia is supposed to be the land of the fair go. When are we going to have fair go? I’ve been stolen from my mother and now they’re stealing my land off me.”

Shamefully, the NLC supported legislation disempowering the people it is meant to represent.

The Federal Court trial finally began in June 2014. After two weeks of evidence, the NLC gave up and agreed to recommend to the federal government the withdrawal of the nomination of Muckaty for a nuclear dump. The Coalition government led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott accepted the NLC’s recommendation.

Lorna Fejo said: “I feel ecstatic. I feel free because it was a long struggle to protect my land.”

Owners have won a significant battle for country and culture, but the problems and patterns of radioactive racism persist. Racism in the uranium mining industry involves ignoring the concerns of Traditional Owners; divide-and-rule tactics; radioactive ransom; ‘humbugging’ Traditional Owners (exerting persistent, unwanted pressure); providing Traditional Owners with false information; and threats, including legal threats.

In 1998, the Howard government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near Woomera in South Australia. Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu in the 1950s.

The proposed dump generated such controversy in SA that the federal government hired a public relations company. Correspondence between the company and the government was released under Freedom of Information laws. In one exchange, a government official asked the PR company to remove sand-dunes from a photo to be used in a brochure. The explanation provided by the government official was that: “Dunes are a sensitive area with respect to Aboriginal Heritage”. The sand-dunes were removed from the photo, only for the government official to ask if the horizon could be straightened up as well. Terra nullius.

In 2003, the federal government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished with the stroke of a pen. This took place with no forewarning and no consultation with Aboriginal people.

The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to ‘get their ears out of their pockets’, and after six years the government did just that. In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election − after a Federal Court ruling that the federal government had acted illegally in stripping Traditional Owners of their native title rights, and with the dump issue biting politically in SA − the Howard government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan.

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.”

Nuclear War
One example concerns the 1982 South Australian Roxby Downs Indenture Act, which sets the legal framework for the operation of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine in SA. The Act was amended in 2011 but it retains exemptions from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Traditional Owners were not even consulted. The SA government’s spokesperson in Parliament said: “BHP were satisfied with the current arrangements and insisted on the continuation of these arrangements, and the government did not consult further than that.”

That disgraceful performance illustrates a broader pattern. Aboriginal land rights and heritage protections are feeble at the best of times. But the legal rights and protections are repeatedly stripped away whenever they get in the way of nuclear or mining interests.

Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed. New South Wales legislation exempts uranium mines from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act. The Western Australian government is in the process of gutting the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 at the behest of the mining industry. Native Title rights were extinguished with the stroke of a pen to seize land for a radioactive waste dump in SA, and Aboriginal heritage laws and land rights were repeatedly overridden with the push to dump nuclear waste in the NT.

While a small group of Traditional Owners supported the dump, a large majority were opposed and some initiated legal action in the Federal Court challenging the nomination of the Muckaty site by the federal government and the Northern Land Council (NLC).

Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a famous victory, but the nuclear war against Aboriginal people continues − and it will continue to be resisted, with the Aboriginal-led Australian Nuclear Free Alliance playing a leading role.

More information:  • Australian Nuclear Free Alliance www.anfa.org.au Friends of the Earth 
The greatest minds in the nuclear establishment have been searching for an answer to the radioactive waste problem for fifty years, and they’ve finally got one: haul it down a dirt road and dump it on an Indian reservation.” −− Winona LaDuke, Indigenous World Uranium Summit, 2006

January 29, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference | Leave a comment

Collusion between politicians and scientists on dangers of nuclear radiation

The 1985 Royal Commission report into British Nuclear Tests in Australia discussed many of these issues, but never in relation to the proximity and timing of the 1956 Olympic Games. Sixty years later, are we seeing the same denial of known hazards six years after the reactor explosion at Fukushima?

Australia’s nuclear testing before the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne should be a red flag for Fukushima in 2020,  https://theconversation.com/australias-nuclear-testing-before-the-1956-olympics-in-melbourne-should-be-a-red-flag-for-fukushima-in-2020-85787, The Conversation, Susanne Rabbitt Roff. Part time tutor in Medical Education, University of Dundee, 20 Oct 17,  The scheduling of Tokyo 2020 Olympic events at Fukushima is being seen as a public relations exercise to dampen fears over continuing radioactivity from the reactor explosion that followed the massive earthquake six years ago.

It brings to mind the British atomic bomb tests in Australia that continued until a month before the opening of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne – despite the known dangers of fallout travelling from the testing site at Maralinga to cities in the east. And it reminds us of the collusion between scientists and politicians – British and Australian – to cover up the flawed decision-making that led to continued testing until the eve of the Games.

Australia’s prime minister Robert Menzies agreed to atomic testing in December 1949. Ten months earlier, Melbourne had secured the 1956 Olympics even though the equestrian events would have to be held in Stockholm because of Australia’s strict horse quarantine regimes.

The equestrians were well out of it. Large areas of grazing land – and therefore the food supplies of major cities such as Melbourne – were covered with a light layer of radiation fallout from the six atomic bombs detonated by Britain during the six months prior to the November 1956 opening of the Games. Four of these were conducted in the eight weeks running up to the big event, 1,000 miles due west of Melbourne at Maralinga.

Bombs and games

In the 25 years I have been researching the British atomic tests in Australia, I have found only two mentions of the proximity of the Games to the atomic tests. Not even the Royal Commission into the tests in 1985 addressed the known hazards of radioactive fallout for the athletes and spectators or those who lived in the wide corridor of the radioactive plumes travelling east. Continue reading

October 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics, reference | Leave a comment

When Adelaide got hit by Maralinga nuclear radiation fallout

Fallout map from the day Adelaide got hit hard, 11 Oct 1956 …

I was luckily living elsewhere at the time, in NSW … I do remember having bad nose bleeds … we moved to Adelaide a few years later so many of my school and uni and work and sport mates and their mothers were in the thick of the fallout from the British bomb test called Buffalo 3 .. and there are many sad stories of retarded siblings and congenital cardiac issues and early cancers.

QUOTE:
In 1956 a series of atomic tests were carried out in the far north of the state at Maralinga, including the dropping of a bomb from a plane on October 11th, with devastating impacts on nearby Aboriginal communities.

Australian Atomic Confessions [Full Documentary]

Retired academic Roger Cross’s book “Fallout” focuses on the drift of radiation many hundred kilometres south of the site to Adelaide.

“Fortunately for South Australia it was rather a small bomb, but it was dropped from a Valiant Bomber and was designed to explode in the air which it did do,” Mr Cross told Ian Henschke on 891 ABC Adelaide mornings.

“Part of the cloud blew south towards Adelaide and the minor cloud then blew east as it was supposed to across largely uninhabitated areas towards the towns of Sydney and Brisbane and exit Australia between those two cities.

“But the main part of the cloud actually blew down south towards Adelaide and there was great controversy about that,” he said.

Mr Cross says this wasn’t admitted to at the time, causing great controversy.

He says authorities didn’t realise a man called Hedley Marston who was involved with the tests, checking thyroids of sheep and cattle around the area, also set up a secret experiment at the CSIRO building in Adelaide.

Mr Marston recorded a level of 98 thousand counts per hundred seconds the day after the bomb had been dropped.

“The average count in Adelaide at that time was between 40 and 60 counts per hundred seconds,” said Mr Cross.

Mr Marston also carried out some tests on sheep just south and north of Adelaide, finding elevated levels of radiation material in the sheep that were on pasture but not in others that had eaten hay cut the year before.

“This was a very elegant experiment because by luck he had a control, he had this group of sheep that were penned under cover that were just eating hay from previous harvests.”

Mr Cross says Hedley Marston was concerned about strontium 90 in particular and it getting into milk and then being consumed by young children and pregnant women.

Silent Storm atomic testing in Australia

Anti-nuclear campaigner Dr Helen Caldicott entered medical school in Adelaide in 1956 and told Ian Henschke there was no mention of a possible health impact of the tests, and she is not aware of a study of the human population following that test.

“We the population of Adelaide were kept in ignorance and for that I feel very bad about that as a doctor.”

She says you would have to test all the population exposed to radiation throughout their entire life and compare it to people who were not exposed to know if the incidence of cancer was high.

“My prediction is definitely I’m sure it was but we don’t have any evidence.

“Adelaide got a hell of a fallout, and I must say as a young medical student not being taught about that I have deep resentment that the public was not informed about it,” said Dr Caldicott.

(Quote from http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2011/03/21/3169570.htm )

(Map is a detail from https://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/…/allowable-lifetime-…/ )

 

September 16, 2017 Posted by | history, reference, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia must not forget – the plutonium abuse of an Australian child, by Argonne National Laboratory

Paul Langley,  https://www.facebook.com/paul.langley.9822/posts/10213752429593121CAL-2, 14 Aug 17, 5 yr-old Simon Shaw and his mum. Simon was flown from Australia to the US on the pretext of medical treatment for his bone cancer. Instead, he was secretly injected with plutonium to see what would happen. His urine was measured, and he was flown back to Australia.

Though his bodily fluids remained radioactive, Australian medical staff were not informed. No benefit was imparted to Simon by this alleged “medical treatment” and he died of his disease after suffering a trip across the world and back at the behest of the USA despite his painful condition. The USA merely wanted a plutonium test subject. They called him CAL-2. And did their deed under the cover of phony medicine.

“Congress of the United States, House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515-2107, Edward J. Markey, 7th District, Massachusetts Committees, [word deleted] and Commerce, Chairman Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance, Natural Resources, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe] MEMORANDUM To: Congressman Edward J. Markey From: Staff Subject: The Plutonium Papers Date: 4/20/94

Staff Memo on Plutonium Papers

The medical file for Cal-2 also contains correspondence seeking follow-up from Argonne National Laboratory in the 1980s. Cal-2 was an Australian boy, not quite five years old, who was flown to the U.S. in 1946 for treatment of bone cancer. During his hospitalization in San Francisco, he was chosen as a subject for plutonium injection. He returned to Australia, where he died less than one year later.

Document 700474 is a letter from Dr. Stebbings to an official at the Institute of Public Health in Sydney, Australia, in an attempt to reach the family of Cal-2. This letter reports that the child was “injected with a long-lived alpha-emitting radionuclide.” Document 700471 is a letter from Dr. Stebbings to New South Wales, Australia (names and town deleted), inquiring about recollections of the boy’s hospitalization in 1946. The letter notes that, “those events have become rather important in some official circles here,” but provides few details to the family.

A hand-written note on the letter reports no response through October 8, 1987. Considering the history on the lack of informed consent with these experiments, it is surprising that the letters to Australia failed to mention the word “plutonium.”

The Australian news media has since identified Cal-2 as Simeon Shaw, the son of a wool buyer in New South Wales, and information on the injection created an international incident. The information in the medical file does indicate that at a time when Secretary Herrington told you that no follow-up would be conducted on living subjects, the Department of Energy was desperately interested in conducting follow-up on a deceased Australian patient.

In an effort to determine the full extent of follow-up by the Department after 1986, your staff has requested, through the Department’s office of congressional affairs, the opportunity to speak with Dr. Stebbings, Dr. Robertson, and any other officials who may have been involved in the follow-up. So far, that request has been unsuccessful. It remains an open question as to what was the full extent of follow-up performed in the 1980s, and whether the efforts then would facilitate any further follow-up on subjects now. It seems appropriate for the Interagency Working Group to address these questions as its efforts continue.”

Source: National Security Archives, George Washington Universityhttp://www.gwu.edu/…/…/mstreet/commeet/meet1/brief1/br1n.txt

See also ACHRE Final Report.

NO MORE DUAL USE ABUSE OF AUSTRALIANS MR PRESIDENT. STOP FUNDING SYKES AND FLINDERS UNIVERSITY IN THE DOE QUEST FOR CHEAP CLEANUP OF URANIUM CONTAMINATED SITES.

Mr. President, you are wrong if you think you can do the same again re hormesis funding in Australia as the USA did with CAL-2. We have not forgotten and do not trust you or your paid agents in Australian universities such as Flinders.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, history, reference, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Did Australia cave in to France over Pacific nuclear bomb testing?

French nuclear testing continued at Moruroa and Fangataufa Atolls for another decade

Did Australia ‘cave’ to Chirac’s threats over opposition to nuclear testing?, Released documents from the UK Foreign Office detail the political fall-out of Australia’s opposition to French nuclear testing in the South Pacific in 1985. SBS, By Brett Mason, 20 July  17  , Australian diplomats were forced to deny mysterious rumours circulating around the European Union headquarters in Brussels that the iconic kangaroo faced imminent extinction, just days after then Mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac threatened to ‘make trouble’ for Australia and New Zealand in European Union trade negotiations.

The threat came after both nations vocally protested French nuclear testing in the South Pacific and the sinking of Greenpeace vessel the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour on July 10, 1985.

New Zealand authorities had arrested two French agents suspected of involvement in the bombing, Captain Dominique Prieur and Commander Alain Mafart, who had posed as married couple Sophie and Alain Turenge.

Australia’s former Environment Minister, Barry Cohen, formally wrote to his British counterpart in October 1985 stressing that ‘these allegations are untrue’, providing research data he suggested might be more widely distributed by the United Kingdom ‘in the EC (European Community) context’.

Just days earlier, Mr Chirac delivered what British diplomats described as an ‘ill-tempered’ speech to his Rally for the Republic (RPR) party’s annual conference in Menton, France.

They reported ‘enthusiastic applause’ when Mr Chirac threatened to ‘adopt an increasingly tough line’ towards Australia and New Zealand and ‘to make trouble’ for both nations in crucial upcoming trade negotiations, centred on lucrative lamb and butter imports.

In a diplomatic cable, they claimed Mr Chirac told the enthusiastic crowd: “France recognised and was grateful for the Australian and New Zealand contribution during the Second World War, but this did not give the Australians or New Zealanders any right to interfere in France’s internal affairs.” Continue reading

July 21, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

Australia’s political leaders have a disgraceful history of climate inaction. Time to March For Science

March for science? After decades of climate attacks, it’s high time, https://theconversation.com/march-for-science-after-decades-of-climate-attacks-its-high-time-76041 The Conversation, Marc HudsonPhD Candidate, Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester, April 20, 2017. This Saturday, the March for Science will be held in cities around the world – coincidentally enough, ten years to the day since John Howard urged Australians to pray for rain.

While such marches are not the answer to everything, their very existence tells us that science is under attack, not merely from defunding of research bodies, but also via attacks on the inconvenient truths of climate science.

While scientists weep over the Great Barrier Reef, some politicians respond by laughing and joking. Continue reading

April 21, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, history | Leave a comment

A toxic legacy : British nuclear weapons testing in Australia

Australia’s hospitality, largesse and loyalty to Britain were not without their costs. Moreover, the sacrifices made by Australians on behalf of the ‘motherland’ were not equally borne. Whilst low population density and remoteness from major population centres were among the criteria for the selection of the testing sites, the Emu and Maralinga sites in particular were not uninhabited. Indeed, they had been familiar to generations of Aboriginal Australians for thousands of years and had a great spiritual significance for the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people.

A variety of factors underlay the harm to public health, Aboriginal culture and the natural environment which the British tests entailed. Perhaps most significant was the secrecy surrounding the testing program.

During the entire course of the testing program, public debate on the costs and risks borne by the Australian public was discouraged through official secrecy, censorship, misinformation, and attempts to denigrate critics

Wayward governance : illegality and its control in the public sector / P N Grabosky
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 1989 “…….
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.

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. On 3 October 1952 the British successfully detonated a nuclear device of about 25 kilotons in the Monte Bello Islands. Continue reading

April 10, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

CIA feared that Australian govt would close Pine Gap

text-historyCIA documents reveal Pine Gap fears http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/cia-documents-reveal-pine-gap-fears/news-pine-gap-1story/78dd781a58fe89fd6b7d455a662c8596 22 Jan 17 TENSION over world wheat prices led to fears by the US Government that Australia could shut the secret spy facility at Pine Gap.

A memo prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of East Asian Analysis shows the Americans were nervous Australia could lash out and use US-Australian joint facilities as a “bargaining chip” during the wheat prices stand-off in 1986.

It is among more than 900,000 documents, some of which were previously top secret, released by the CIA this week.

The briefing document says then-prime minister Bob Hawke was under political pressure from “militant farmers” to stand up for their interests as the US prepared to extend its “export enhancement program” to include the Soviet Union and China, which was expected to drive down wheat prices worldwide.

According to the memorandum, the Americans did not take the threats to close joint facilities seriously “but if the Senate proposal becomes law, tensions will be high and thoughts of making such threats will remain just below the surface”. “Our worst case scenario, on the other hand, would have the Australians refusing to negotiate a new ten-year agreement for the Joint Defense Space Research Facility at Pine Gap near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory (thus the facility would be subject to closure after October 1987 with a year’s notice),” the document read.

It said wheat farmers were the most vocal primary producers “and protest most often in Canberra”.

“Hawke undoubtably believes he cannot afford to ignore wheat farmers’ pleas to use his claimed ‘special relationship’ with the US administration to win them relief,” the memorandum read.

With an election looming, domestic pressure was on the prime minister to prove he could exert influence with the Americans. “In our judgment, the current US Senate proposal, if it becomes law, would confirm Australian farmers’ suspicions that Hawke is powerless to win relief from the US government and that Australia’s faithfulness to its responsibilities in the ANZUS alliance is meaningless to the US administration,” the document said.

January 23, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, Northern Territory, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s responsibility to face up to its radioactive wastes produced at Lucas Heights

text-from-the-archivesStoring the reprocessed nuclear fuel that is to come back from France at Lucas Heights seems the best of a poor set of alternatives.

We are stuck with highly radioactive material for which we are responsible. Like all countries with nuclear reactors, we should not have produced it in the first place until safe storage technology existed.

Radioactive game of passing the parcel http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/politics/radioactive-game-of-passing-the-parcel-20120523-1z582.html#ixzz1vp20gX9X Richard Broinowski May 24, 2012 Reports indicate France is soon to return reprocessed nuclear waste generated at Lucas Heights to Australia. The federal nuclear agency says the waste is ”intermediate level”, small in volume, and to be stored temporarily at Lucas Heights.

These assurances are misleading in all three respects: the volume of the waste, its toxicity, and its future disposal.
Australia’s first research reactor, the high flux Australian reactor, went critical in January 1958. It was fuelled by highly enriched bomb-grade American uranium. Although small compared with power
reactors, it discharged 37 spent fuel rods a year, each containing the same weapons-grade uranium, plutonium and fission products as its big brothers.

By 2002, it had produced 1665 such rods. Some were sent to Britain and the US for reprocessing. But by 2003, four metric tonnes remained in temporary storage at Lucas Heights

When political pressure forced Britain to cease reprocessing in Scotland, Australia’s nuclear agency arranged with the French company COGEMA to reprocess the rods. Australia is legally bound to take the
lot back – plus, one assumes, the separated plutonium and uranium-235. The problem is there is no agreed permanent place in Australia to put it.

In 2007 the old reactor was decommissioned and replaced by one designed by the Argentine company INVAP. Before construction began, the government stipulated a high-level waste site was to be identified
and a feasibility study completed. No site was found and the stipulation was modified to a strategy for disposal.

The situation becomes more complicated. Argentina initially agreed to take back the spent fuel rods from the reactor for reprocessing, returning the waste to Australia and keeping the weapons-grade uranium-235 and plutonium-239 under full-scope international safeguards. But its officials asserted such reprocessing was in violation of Argentina’s constitution. Australian officials appear not to be worried because they say the reactor has a storage pool with capacity for nine years’ worth of spent fuel rods. A solution, they imply, will turn up.

But like the rapidly filling storage ponds at all civil reactors around the world, this is a short-term solution. The problem of ultimate disposal of irradiated fuel continues unresolved. Australia does not even have a designated repository for low-level nuclear waste such as contaminated clothing and discarded radio pharmaceutical equipment from hospitals.

In 2002, three possible low-level sites were identified in South Australia. But the sites were judged too risky because an errant missile could land on the dump, scattering radioactive debris in all
directions. The state’s then premier, Mike Rann, strenuously opposed it. South Australia, he declared, would not become Australia’s ”nuclear waste state”.

Nor, according to their premiers, would any other Australian state. Australians seem complacent about exporting uranium but become unsettled about storing its end products here, even waste generated by
our reactors.

By February 2010, the only site still under consideration as a nuclear waste dump was Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory, where the federal government can overrule the Legislative Assembly in Darwin.

But deciding on Muckaty was controversial. First, although a small group of traditional owners of the land supported the decision, a greater number opposed it. They launched a case in the Federal Court opposing it.

Second, the site is meant to take low- and intermediate-level waste. But intermediate waste is a narrow definition based on calorific output. If heat is dissipated, runs the argument, high-level waste
becomes intermediate. But whatever its temperature, the waste still contains all the fission byproducts and actinides of high-level waste.

Storing the reprocessed nuclear fuel that is to come back from France at Lucas Heights seems the best of a poor set of alternatives. There are at least suitable storage facilities and chemists and physicists
who know how to handle the material.

But what Australia needs urgently is a solution. We are stuck with highly radioactive material for which we are responsible. Like all countries with nuclear reactors, we should not have produced it in the first place until safe storage technology existed.

December 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Secret history of Maralinga nuclear bomb tests

text-from-the-archivesThe half-life of plutonium is 24,000 years. At this rate of decay, the Maralinga secret-agent-Austlands would be contaminated for the next half-million years.…..A variety of factors underlay the harm to public health, Aboriginal culture and the natural environment which the British tests entailed. Perhaps most significant was the secrecy surrounding the testing program….There seems little doubt that the secrecy in which the entire testing program was cloaked served British rather than Australian interests…..Information passed to Australian officials was kept to the minimum necessary to facilitate their assistance in the conduct of the testing program. The use of plutonium in the minor trials was not disclosed……

A toxic legacy : British nuclear weapons testing in Australia, Australian Institute of Criminology. “…… Three days after the conclusion of the Totem trials, the Australian government was formally advised of British desires to establish a permanent testing site in Australia. In August 1954, the Australian Cabinet agreed to the establishment of a permanent testing ground at a site that became named Maralinga, Continue reading

December 23, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, secrets and lies, uranium | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In 1985 Australians’ opposition to nuclear weapons and uranium mining was widespread

Opposition to nuclear weapons and uranium mining was widespread

That February Hawke’s public announcement that US aircraft monitoring the tests would be allowed to land in Australia created a storm of protest, which he later relayed to the US at meetings in Washington.

The US decided to press on without the use of Australian support facilities.

text-from-the-archivesArchives reveal depth of opposition to nuclear tests
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10856999
By Greg Ansley
 Jan 2, 2013 Nuclear weapons and the United States alliance were causing Australia more than its share of grief in 1985, Cabinet documents by the National Archives of Australia reveal.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke’s Labor Government was trapped by the commitment of its Liberal predecessor to America’s controversial programme to develop the new MX intercontinental ballistic missile, whose planned deployment threatened to heighten nuclear tensions with the former Soviet Union.

The MX programme originally included 200 of what became the most powerful missile in America’s nuclear arsenal, each armed with 10 warheads and transported on a circular rail track between 4600 silos to confuse Soviet war planners. It was later pruned to just 50missiles, which were withdrawn from service by 2005.

In 1981, Malcolm Fraser’s Liberal Government secretly agreed to support the programme with the splashdown of two missiles about 200km off eastern Tasmania. Continue reading

December 23, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

Evidence that Maralinga soldiers were radiation guinea pigs

The press release was drafted ahead of Operation Buffalo at Maralinga, during which secret-agent-Austtroops were ordered to crawl through areas hit by fallout. It was not meant to be made public

text-from-the-archivesTop secret document reveals British troops were knowingly revealed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests – mirror.co.uk, by Susie Boniface, 2 Jan 2011, British troops WERE knowingly exposed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests, a top-secret document has finally proved.

For five decades, successive governments have denied any harm was caused to the 22,000 servicemen ordered to witness nuclear bomb tests in the Fifties and Sixties – saying the explosions were to test the weapons, not their effects on humans, and the men were at a safe distance.

But a draft Press release written before tests in Australia in 1956, now uncovered in the National Archives, reads: “The possible effects of the ingestion of radioactive fallout (by men and animals) will be among the subjects studied.”

It has the words “by men and animals” crossed out in pencil, and the version that was actually released mentions only sheep and small animals.

The document blows apart official claims that the tests were not harmful to the troops who witnessed test blasts in Australia, the US and the South Pacific.

It also backs the test veterans’ claims that they were used as “guinea pigs” by the MoD in its race to build an atomic bomb.

Since the tests they say they have suffered high rates of cancers and other illnesses. More than 1,000 vets and widows have won the right to sue the MoD.

The top-secret Press release was unearthed by veteran David Wilson, 74, from Shropshire, who served as an RAF clerk at Christmas Island in the South Pacific during two bomb blasts.

Mr Wilson, who is one of the vets suing over illnesses he has suffered, said: “We were ordered there purely and simply to witness those tests, as guinea pigs.”

The press release was drafted ahead of Operation Buffalo at Maralinga, during which troops were ordered to crawl through areas hit by fallout. It was not meant to be made public until..

Top secret document reveals British troops were knowingly revealed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests – mirror.co.uk

December 21, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, secrets and lies | | Leave a comment