Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s part in continuing nuclear havoc in Pacific islands – legacy of atomic bomb tests

75 years after nuclear testing in the Pacific began, the fallout continues to wreak havoc    https://theconversation.com/75-years-after-nuclear-testing-in-the-pacific-began-the-fallout-continues-to-wreak-havoc-158208?fbclid=IwAR3q9QJvy507ds2kD0ibOvkD6ZzxFqgGjfHsGrwqJUVMNpujOu8sAeLVPtY
April 6, 2021 
 Patricia A. O’Brien Patricia A. O’Brien is a Friend of The Conversation.Historian, Visiting Fellow in the School of History, Australian National University and Adjunct Professor in the Asian Studies Program, Georgetown University,    This year marks 75 years since the United States launched its immense atomic testing program in the Pacific. The historical fallout from tests carried out over 12 years in the Marshall Islands, then a UN Trust Territory governed by the US, have framed seven decades of US relations with the Pacific nation.Due to the dramatic effects of climate change, the legacies of this history are shaping the present in myriad ways.

This history has Australian dimensions too, though decades of diplomatic distance between Australia and the Marshall Islands have hidden an entangled atomic past.

In 1946, the Marshall Islands seemed very close for many Australians. They feared the imminent launch of the US’s atomic testing program on Bikini Atoll might split the earth in two, catastrophically change the earth’s climate, or produce earthquakes and deadly tidal waves.

A map accompanying one report noted Sydney was only 3,100 miles from ground zero. Residents as far away as Perth were warned if their houses shook on July 1, “it may be the atom bomb test”.

Australia was “included in the tests” as a site for recording blast effects and monitoring for atom bombs detonated anywhere in the world by hostile nations. This Australian site served to keep enemies in check and achieve one of the Pacific testing program’s objectives: to deter future war. The other justification was the advancement of science.

The earth did not split in two after the initial test (unless you were Marshallese) so they continued; 66 others followed over the next 12 years. But the insidious and multiple harms to people and place, regularly covered up or denied publicly, became increasingly hard to hide.

Radiation poisoning, birth defects, leukaemia, thyroid and other cancers became prevalent in exposed Marshallese, at least four islands were “partially or completely vapourised”, the exposed Marshallese “became subjects of a medical research program” and atomic refugees. (Bikinians were allowed to return to their atoll for a decade before the US government removed them again when it was realised a careless error falsely claimed radiation levels were safe in 1968.)

In late 1947, the US moved its operations to Eniwetok Atoll, a decision, it was argued, to ensure additional safety. Eniwetok was more isolated and winds were less likely to carry radioactive particles to populated areas.

Australian reports noted this site was only 3,200 miles from Sydney. Troubling reports of radioactive clouds as far away as the French Alps and the known shocking health effects appeared.

Dissenting voices were initially muted due to the steep escalation of the Cold War and Soviet atomic weapon tests beginning in 1949.

Opinion in Australia split along political lines. Conservative Cold War warriors, chief among them Robert Menzies who became prime minister again in 1949, kept Australia in lockstep with the US, and downplayed the ill-effects of testing. Left-wing elements in Australia continued to draw attention to the “horrors” it unleashed.

The atomic question came home in 1952, when the first of 12 British atomic tests began on the Montebello Islands, off Western Australia.   Australia’s involvement in atomic testing expanded again in 1954, when it began supplying South Australian-mined uranium to the US and UK’s joint defence purchasing authority, the Combined Development Agency.

Australia’s economic stake in the atomic age from 1954 collided with the galvanisation of global public opinion against US testing in Eniwetok. The massive “Castle Bravo” hydrogen bomb test in March exposed Marshall Islanders and a Japanese fishing crew on The Lucky Dragon to catastrophic radiation levels “equal to that received by Japanese people less than two miles from ground zero” in the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic blasts. Graphic details of the fishermen’s suffering and deaths and a Marshallese petition to the United Nations followed.

When a UN resolution to halt US testing was voted on in July, Australia voted for its continuation. But the tide of public opinion was turning against testing. The events of 1954 dispelled the notion atomic waste was safe and could be contained. The problem of radioactive fish travelling into Australian waters highlighted these new dangers, which spurred increasing world wide protests until the US finally ceased testing in the Marshalls in 1958.

In the 1970s, US atomic waste was concentrated under the Runit Island dome, part of Enewetak Atoll (about 3,200 miles from Sydney). Recent alarming descriptions of how precarious and dangerous this structure is due to age, sea water inundation and storm damage exacerbated by climate change were contested in a 2020 Trump-era report.

The Biden administration’s current renegotiation of the Compact of Free Association with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and its prioritisation of action on climate change, will put Runit Island high on the agenda. There is an opportunity for historical redress for the US that is even more urgent given the upsurge in discrimination against US-based Pacific Islander communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are peoples displaced by the tests.

Australia is also embarking on a new level of engagement with the Marshall Islands: it is due to open its first embassy in the capital Majuro in 2021.It should be remembered this bilateral relationship has an atomic history too. Australia supported the US testing program, assisted with data collection and voted in the UN for its continuation when Marshallese pleaded for it to be stopped. It is also likely Australian-sourced atomic waste lies within Runit Island, cementing Australia in this history.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, history, reference, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia dodged a bullet in not getting nuclear power – Ian Lowe

An obvious conclusion flows from the Fox Report’s 1976 comment about a lack of objectivity. We are not objective observers of the world: we all see reality through the lenses of our values and our experience. We all have a tendency to see what we would like to see…….

The probability that any person will be favourably disposed to the idea of nuclear power can be predicted from their values and from their view of the sort of future they would like to see. Fellows of the Academy of Technology and Engineering tend to favour a high-tech future, while conservationists are much more likely to favour small-­scale local supply systems.

This is a reminder that the future is not somewhere we are going, but something we are creating. From my perspective, nuclear power now looks like an intractable problem we were just lucky to avoid. Most developed nations have nuclear power stations with mountains of accumulated waste, for which there is no effective permanent solution. The urgent task of moving to clean energy supply, mostly from solar and wind, is made more difficult when resources have been sunk into the nuclear power industry. I believe we dodged a bullet.

A long half-­life,  Nuclear energy in Australia,   https://www.griffithreview.com/articles/a-long-half-life/
Griffith Review,by Ian Lowe, March 21, ON MY DESK there sits a well-­thumbed copy of the 1976 Fox Report, the first report of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry. I grew up in New South Wales, where most electricity came from coal-­fired power stations, but miners were often killed or injured and the air pollution from burning coal was obvious. So as a young scientist I was attracted to the idea of replacing our dirty and dangerous coal-­fired electricity with nuclear power.
***
That report changed my thinking. And the sight of it is a reminder that while Australia has a very long history of involvement in nuclear issues, it’s one of the few advanced countries that does not have nuclear power stations. It would now be very difficult to make a rational case for taking that step, but a small group of pro-­nuclear enthusiasts continues to urge greater Australian involvement in the so-­called nuclear fuel cycle.
***
I want to summarise the history of this enthusiasm and use it to explore the continuing interest in that deeper involvement – because nuclear issues have always been intensely political. In practice, debates about nuclear energy are essentially arguments about what sort of future we want.

Continue reading

March 4, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference | Leave a comment

History of Australia’s govt move towards importing nuclear waste

If the “low level” storage facility goes ahead in Kimba, it would only be a matter of time before it became a facility storing medium and high level waste creating untold risks for human life, Indigenous culture and heritage, flora and fauna, and agriculture. It must be stopped.

TERRA NUCLEAR  https://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2020/1902/05-nuclear.html?fbclid=IwAR0oOmAw7IIbs9dERT6aUM6gKTG4eIIco6iEycpzr58GHwyPomOVyGh2jak  Anna Pha,16 Feb 2, Last week, the then Resources Minister Matt Canavan announced the site for an international nuclear waste dump on farmland in South Australia. The decision comes after two decades or more of wrangling over where to locate the facility.

The land is at Napandee in Kimba, on the Eyre Peninsula and is owned by a farmer who offered it to the government. He is set to receive compensation well above market value.

“The facility has broad community support in Kimba, but I acknowledge there remains opposition, particularly amongst the Barngarla People and their representative group,” Canavan said in a press release.

He omits to mention that the Barngarla People were excluded from a local vote on the question.

In addition, the opposition is not confined to the Barngarla People who fear the pollution of their land and waters, as well as the damage to their culture and sacred sites. Environmental and other groups as well as many individuals have not given up. They are determined to fight it to the end.

Denial of Danger

Just as the government refuses to acknowledge the dangers of inaction over climate change, Canavan plays down the deadly risks associated with radiation; “I am satisfied a facility at Napandee will safely and securely manage radioactive waste and that the local community has shown broad community support for the project and economic benefits it will bring.”

This is a hollow claim, which he cannot back with practice. How can anyone claim such a facility would be safely and securely managed for thousands or possibly hundreds of thousands of years that it would take for the radioactive material to breakdown?

The minister cannot make any guarantees. In particular, as the plan is to hand the facility over to the private sector to manage, the risks and cover-ups become far more likely and serious Continue reading

December 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, history, reference | Leave a comment

Research on the intergenerational impacts of Maralinga nuclear tests

Research on the intergenerational impacts of Maralinga nuclear tests supported by Moran Awardhttps://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/research-intergenerational-impacts-maralinga-nuclear-tests

November 20, 2020  November 20, 2020

Henrietta Byrne from the University of Adelaide. Photo: suppliedHenrietta Byrne from the University of Adelaide is the recipient of the Academy’s 2021 Moran Award for History of Science Research.
She receives the award for her proposal entitled ‘Legacies of exposure: Tracing scientific and Indigenous understandings of exposures from the Maralinga atomic testing (1956–84)’.

Ms Byrne will explore how Australian science has responded to the question of intergenerational impacts of environmental exposures on bodies over time, focused around the British atomic testing conducted in Maralinga, South Australia between 1956 and 1968.

The National Archives of Australia and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies library, as well as interviews with leading anthropologists, will inform her research.

Her work will not only provide an important examination of scientific understandings of environmental exposure, but will also focus explicitly on the Indigenous aspects of this history.

Ms Byrne said that the award will allow her to study the relationships between Indigenous knowledges, settler colonial histories and science and technology studies.

“I’m honoured to have the support of the Australian Academy of Science to undertake this study. It is a great opportunity to engage with the archives in a way that highlights the experiences and ongoing activism of Aboriginal people whose land was exposed to radiation.”

This research is part of her broader PhD project in Anthropology and Gender Studies on environmental exposures and epigenetics in Indigenous Australian contexts.

The Moran Award for History of Science Research is worth up to $5000, and is aimed at postgraduate students and other researchers with expertise in the history of Australian science. Applications for the 2022 award will open in early 2021.

November 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The plan to use nuclear bombs for fracking in Western Australia

ED Note.  The absurd and dangerous project discussed here has nothing at all to do with the very admirable American group The Plowshares.
Operation Plowshare pushed for a civilian use for atomic bombs in the 1960s and Port Hedland was in its sights, ABC Radio Perth, By Emma Wynne– 8 Nov 20  Almost every day, John Clancy visits the State Library of WA and delves into the records, intent on finding the background to stories that have piqued his interest.

Most recently, his dives into the archives led him to a largely forgotten episode in Western Australia’s past — the serious discussions that took place about using a nuclear weapon to create a deep harbour at Port Hedland in the state’s north.

The discussions were between the WA Government, United States nuclear scientists, and mining companies.

In 1961, the US Government began Operation Plowshare, a program investigating using atomic technology for civil purposes.

“[The US] had the bomb at the end of the war and they were looking for ways to get some value back out of it after all the money they had spent developing it,” Mr Clancy said.

The original fracking was atomic fracking. But it was too strong for that. It was doing too much damage underground.”

Various Plowshare ideas floated included using atomic bombs to cut a highway through southern California or duplicate the Panama Canal in Nicaragua, but they were deemed too big and too risky.

“They’d have needed 30 or 40 bombs to do that,” he said.

“There would have been too much leftover waste and they didn’t quite know what a big concentration of it in one place would end up doing.”

His interest in the connection to WA was first roused years ago on a trip to the United States.

“You can do a public tour of the Nevada [nuclear] Test Site (NTS), and I did that,” he said.

“They had one particular test that they (the NTS) had set up with Port Hedland in mind, seeing how much dirt they could shift with one blast and how big the hole would be. That’s the first I heard of this.”

Recently, his online research led to an array of documents held in the State Records Office including reports, correspondence, and newspaper clippings about the plans during the 1960s.

“I never thought there would be this much information on it,” he said.

The files reveal numerous discussions the State Government, north-west mining companies, and nuclear scientists had around using nuclear technology in the Pilbara.

At the same time, the discovery of vast iron ore deposits in the Pilbara meant that the region was rapidly opening up to mining and industrial development.

A port was needed to ship million of tonnes of iron ore offshore.

Mr Clancy said the project in Australia’s remote north-west, requiring only one or two bombs, would have seemed an ideal first project.

“The Plowshare operation was quite prominent, they were shopping around anywhere they could for someone that was interested,” he said.

“While this was going on, they were still doing underground testing in America, they were gathering information all the time.

“They [Operation Plowshare] were open to anything.”……….

While it’s not entirely clear who first suggested it, the flurry of correspondence between the Western Australian government, engineering firms and mining companies throughout the 1960s shows the idea was firmly on the drawing board.

In one letter to Charles Court, a former premier and minister for regional development and the north-west from 1959 until 1971, an engineering firm wrote they had met with Australia’s atomic energy attache at the embassy in Washington and were eager to proceed:……..

A report of a visit by Australian Atomic Energy officers to BHP’s Deepdale iron ore development, dated February 1, 1966, gives some hint of the magnitude of the political challenge faced.

It also raised the inconvenient problem of the existence of the Test Ban Treaty:

The report goes on to discuss how an exemption may have been possible, but it would have required the Australian Government to be the first in the world to propose changing the treaty.

Mr Clancy also suspects the fallout from the British tests on the Montebello Islands in Western Australia’s north-west and in Maralinga in South Australia also played a part in why the ideas came to nothing.

By 1971, the Liberal government under Premier David Brand had been defeated and the records come to an end.

In 1977, the United States Government formally ended Operation Plowshare, never having found a site for the peacetime application of nuclear weapons……..https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-08/documents-reveal-plans-to-use-nuclear-bombs-in-port-hedland/12848004

 

November 9, 2020 Posted by | history, Western Australia | Leave a comment

315 nuclear bombs and ongoing suffering: the shameful history of nuclear testing in Australia and the Pacific

November 3, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, personal stories, reference, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Legacy of Maralinga bomb tests -a reminder of need for safety in matters nuclear

Sixty years on, the Maralinga bomb tests remind us not to put security over safety, The Conversation    Liz Tynan, Senior Lecturer and Co-ordinator Research Student Academic Support, James Cook University September 26, 2016   It is September 27, 1956. At a dusty site called One Tree, in the northern reaches of the 3,200-square-kilometre Maralinga atomic weapons test range in outback South Australia, the winds have finally died down and the countdown begins……….
And so, at 5pm, Operation Buffalo begins. The 15-kilotonne atomic device, the same explosive strength as the weapon dropped on Hiroshima 11 years earlier (although totally different in design), is bolted to a 30-metre steel tower. The device is a plutonium warhead that will test Britain’s “Red Beard” tactical nuclear weapon.

The count reaches its finale – three… two… one… FLASH! – and all present turn their backs. When given the order to turn back again, they see an awesome, rising fireball. Then Maralinga’s first mushroom cloud begins to bloom over the plain – by October the following year, there will have been six more.

RAF and RAAF aircraft prepare to fly through the billowing cloud to gather samples. The cloud rises much higher than predicted and, despite the delay, the winds are still unsuitable for atmospheric nuclear testing. The radioactive cloud heads due east, towards populated areas on Australia’s east coast.

Power struggle

So began the most damaging chapter in the history of British nuclear weapons testing in Australia. The UK had carried out atomic tests in 1952 and 1956 at the Monte Bello Islands off Western Australia, and in 1953 at Emu Field north of Maralinga.
The British had requested and were granted a huge chunk of South Australia to create a “permanent” atomic weapons test site, after finding the conditions at Monte Bello and Emu Field too remote and unworkable. Australia’s then prime minister, Robert Menzies, was all too happy to oblige. Back in September 1950 in a phone call with his British counterpart, Clement Attlee, he had said yes to nuclear testing without even referring the issue to his cabinet……….
He was also exploring ways to power civilian Australia with atomic energy and – whisper it – even to buy an atomic bomb with an Australian flag on it (for more background, see here). While Australia had not been involved in developing either atomic weaponry or nuclear energy, she wanted in now. Menzies’ ambitions were such that he authorised offering more to the British than they requested.

While Australia was preparing to sign the Maralinga agreement, the supply minister, Howard Beale, wrote in a top-secret 1954 cabinet document:

Although [the] UK had intimated that she was prepared to meet the full costs, Australia proposed that the principles of apportioning the expenses of the trial should be agreed whereby the cost of Australian personnel engaged on the preparation of the site, and of materials and equipment which could be recovered after the tests, should fall to Australia’s account..…..
Britain’s nuclear and military elite trashed a swathe of Australia’s landscape and then, in the mid-1960s, promptly left. Britain carried out a total of 12 major weapons tests in Australia: three at Monte Bello, two at Emu Field and seven at Maralinga. The British also conducted hundreds of so-called “minor trials”, including the highly damaging Vixen B radiological experiments, which scattered long-lived plutonium over a large area at Maralinga.

The British carried out two clean-up operations – Operation Hercules in 1964 and Operation Brumby in 1967 – both of which made the contamination problems worse.

Legacy of damage

The damage done to Indigenous people in the vicinity of all three test sites is immeasurable and included displacement, injury and death. Service personnel from several countries, but particularly Britain and Australia, also suffered – not least because of their continuing fight for the slightest recognition of the dangers they faced. Many of the injuries and deaths allegedly caused by the British tests have not been formally linked to the operation, a source of ongoing distress for those involved.

The cost of the clean-up exceeded A$100 million in the late 1990s. Britain paid less than half, and only after protracted pressure and negotiations.

Decades later, we still don’t know the full extent of the effects suffered by service personnel and local communities. Despite years of legal wrangling, those communities’ suffering has never been properly recognised or compensated.

Why did Australia allow it to happen? The answer is that Britain asserted its nuclear colonialism just as an anglophile prime minister took power in Australia, and after the United States made nuclear weapons research collaboration with other nations illegal, barring further joint weapons development with the UK. …..Six decades later, those atomic weapons tests still cast their shadow across Australia’s landscape. They stand as testament to the dangers of government decisions made without close scrutiny, and as a reminder – at a time when leaders are once again preoccupied with international security – not to let it happen again.  https://theconversation.com/sixty-years-on-the-maralinga-bomb-tests-remind-us-not-to-put-security-over-safety-62441?fbclid=IwAR3-AXJA_-RZTlr1AW6qxgcFRPuOX5IIi163L75vLWXFyIOcZGKxbet5DDE

October 1, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia was the guinea pig population for Britain’s nuclear weapons tests radiation fallout

Paul Langley  Facebook , 5 July 20
It was Operation Buffalo’s series final tonight, on the ABC, so Im interrupting my thread on Fuk ( a crime which, were I just, would see me ban myself from this page) and I want to point out , yea, the British were the spies, and we were the guinea pigs and we did what they said or else.
As late as the 80s the Poms were threatening us with jail in our own land for speaking out it. And yea, the false fallout maps that were published and the real ones hidden, and readings which were under valued by 50%. Here’s the nine maps publically released by the Royal Commission.
Once, years ago, I printed each one onto its own sheet of transparent plastic sheet. There were 12 bombs, but only 9 fallout maps.
But laying those 9 transparent maps on top of one another results in the final combined map, which proves how cunning the British spies were who used us, On Her Majesty’s Service, as guinea pigs. Whereas had the Soviets done the deeds, the nuclear veterans would have been elevated as heroes, instead of traitors for trying to speak. For at least 2 of the bombs, the Poms put a few ton of coal at the base of the bomb towers. The coal vapourised when the bomb went off, and when it condensed again it formed a black sticky goo in small droplets, containing speckles of fission product throughout it. That is what made the Black Mist of 1953 so sticky. Yep, pretty war like and cunning, the British. I am ashamed to say. I wonder why they spared Perth.

July 6, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics international, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

60 years ago, Aborginal people’s land desecrated by nuclear bombs. Now a new desecration – nuclear wastes?

Even I know off by heart the supercilious tones of the Chief Scientist of the British nuclear tests, Ernest Titterton’s on-screen completely false declaration: ‘No Aboriginal people were harmed.’  The discovery of Edie Milpuddie and family as they camped on the edge of the Marcoo bomb crater was dramatic exposure of that cruel fiction. It is extraordinary to see the actual footage of this moment in the film; and so sobering to hear again the terrible repercussions among her descendants.

‘No Aboriginal people were harmed.’ Add into that mix, English and Australian servicemen and the various pastoral landholders; and from the strong desert winds including across the APY Lands, we will never know the results of the further fallout across the state and nation.

Wind forward another 30 years again and the well being of another almost neighbouring group of Aboriginal people is threatened with nuclear repercussions: this time by the plan for the nation’s nuclear waste ‘stored’ (dumped) on their Country. Again as Traditional Owners, the Barngarla denied a say on their own Country, while a few white ‘latecomers’ were given theirs.

The nuclear fight: then and now,  Eureka Street  Michele Madigan, 04 June 2020 heeded?  https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/the-nuclear-fight–then-and-now?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Thursday%204%20June%202020&utm_content=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Thursday%204%20June%202020+CID_d497ae8df79099faf8643a0a84a8536d&utm_source=Jescom%20Newsletters&utm_term=READ%20MORE  On Sunday 24th May, the ABC showed the documentary Maralinga Tjarutja produced and directed by lawyer, academic, filmmaker and Eualeyai/Kamillaroi woman Larissa Berendt. It was wonderful to see the Traditional Owners including the women given a current national voice as survivors of the British nuclear tests on their lands. Mima Smart OAM former long-term chairperson of Yalata Community was co-presenter with the chair of Maralinga Tjarutja, Jeremy Lebois; Mima’s Maralinga art, painted in collaboration with other Yalata minyma tjuta — women artists, becoming an integral background story — sometimes even in animation.

In the early 80s, after a monumental effort by the Aboriginal peoples of South Australia’s Far North West and their supporters, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunyjatjara Anangu gained their Land title. The Yalata people to the south at the time, I remember, had been discouraged by their then Community Advisor to take part. As a result, when the Yalata people’s will finally had their way, it meant that they had to make their own path Continue reading

June 6, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, history, reference, 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.

May 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, history, reference, secrets and lies | 1 Comment

The lingering horror of the nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga

March 24, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s early nuclear history – a scandalously crooked co-operation with Britain

 

The British also deliberately spread plutonium dust over the outback in so called safety tests. Although a number of Australians had knowledge they desperately wanted to share with the Australian people, the Australian government threatened these people with many years jail if they spoke out.

Australian service personnel and their health status records were treated and kept at the Maralinga Hospital. John Hutton was the only involved person to ever see his Maralinga file and actually get to retain a page from it. (He nicked it).

Australia and Britain perfected a medical regime in which medical responses to radiation induced syndromes were solved without documenting the actual diagnosis. The afflicted personnel, with the exception of Mr. Hutton, never got to read their own medical records, all of which disappeared when the British Bombardiers left Australia in the 1960s. And some say they took the Maralinga medical records with them. That’s very close collaboration, isn’t it?

March 2, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, history, politics international, reference | Leave a comment

The government seeks to intimidate the media

The national security bureaucracy doesn’t want a police state. It is more ambitious than that. The hope is to return Australian culture to the conformity and political quietude of the 1950s.

Now the government seeks to intimidate the media through laws and criminal prosecutions into a deferential posture once more, with editors becoming habituated to asking permission before they publish.

Clinton Fernandes, The Witness K case and government secrecy  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion/topic/2019/09/28/the-witness-k-case-and-government-secrecy/15695928008833  In recent months, I have sat in court as an observer as Canberra lawyer Bernard Collaery has faced charges over disclosing information about the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS). On Thursday, Collaery’s case was back before the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. It is a good time, then, to consider this case and the national security state’s assault on Australia’s democratic culture more generally.

In 2004, ASIS installed listening devices in the government offices of newly independent Timor-Leste to eavesdrop on its internal discussions during oil and gas negotiations with Australia. The espionage operation occurred while Alexander Downer and John Howard, who were respectively foreign minister and prime minister at the time, said they were deploying Australia’s resources against extremist Muslim terrorism in Indonesia.

But the Timor operation diverted precious ASIS resources away from the war on terror. On September 9, 2004, Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists succeeded in bombing the Australian embassy in Indonesia. To make matters worse, the Timor bugging occurred under cover of an aid project, jeopardising the safety of Australian aid workers everywhere.

A senior ASIS officer, known only as Witness K, expressed concerns about the Timor bugging operation. His career is believed to have suffered as a consequence. He approached the inspector-general of intelligence and security and obtained permission to speak with a lawyer – Bernard Collaery. Both men are now on trial: Collaery in the ACT Supreme Court, where he will exercise his constitutional right to a jury trial, and Witness K in the ACT Magistrates Court……. Continue reading

October 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, media | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear research reactor was always intended as the first step towards the nuclear bomb

The push for an Aussie bomb   It took former PM John Gorton almost three decades to finally come clean on his ambitions for Australia to have a nuclear bomb. THE AUSTRALIAN, By TOM GILLING  30 Aug 19,

In December 9, 1966, the Australian Government signed a public agreement with the US to build what both countries described as a “Joint Defence Space Research Facility” at Pine Gap, just outside Alice Springs. The carefully misleading agreement expressed the two countries’ mutual desire “to co-operate further in effective defence and for the preservation of peace and security”.

Officially, Pine Gap was a collaboration between the Australian Department of Defence and the Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, but the latter was a red herring meant to conceal the real power at Pine Gap: the Central Intelligence Agency….the truth was that the Joint Defence Space Research Facility was joint in name only and its purpose was not (and never would be) “research”. It was a spy station designed to collect signals from US surveillance satellites in geosynchronous orbit over the equator. ……

The building of an experimental reactor at Lucas Heights in Sydney’s south was supposed to be the first step in a nuclear program that within a decade would see the development of full-scale nuclear power reactors. ……

During the 1950s Australian defence chiefs ­lobbied vigorously for an Australian bomb. When it became clear that the prime minister, Robert Menzies, had reservations, they went behind his back. Menzies did agree, however, to let Britain test its nuclear weapons in Australia — a decision, according to historian Jacques Hymans, taken “almost single-handedly… without consulting his Cabinet and without requesting any quid pro quo, not even access to technical data necessary for the Australian government to assess the effects of the tests on humans and the environment”……….

Gorton’s political reservations about the non-proliferation treaty masked a deeper fear: that signing the treaty might cause Australia’s ­nascent atomic energy industry to be “frozen in a primitive state”. Gorton and the head of Australia’s Atomic Energy Commission, Philip Baxter, were both committed to pursuing the development of an Australian bomb. Scientists at the AEC worked with government officials to draw up cost and time estimates for atomic and hydrogen bomb programs. According to the historian Hymans, they outlined two possible programs: a power reactor program capable of producing enough weapons- grade plutonium for 30 fission weapons (A-bombs) per year; and a uranium enrichment program capable of producing enough uranium-235 for at least 10 thermonuclear weapons (H-bombs)  per year. The A-bomb plan was costed at what was considered to be an “affordable” $144 million and was thought to be feasible in no more than seven to 10 years. The H-bomb plan was costed at $184 million over a similar period.

Aware of opposition to any talk of an “Aussie bomb”, ­Gorton carefully played down the military aspect and argued instead for the economic benefits of a nuclear power program. ………

a US ­mission did visit Canberra at the end of April 1968.   Officials from the AEC had impressed the US visitors with “the confidence of their ability to manufacture a nuclear weapon and desire to be in a position to do so on very short notice”.  

The Australian officials, they said, had “studied the draft NPT [non-proliferation treaty] most thoroughly… the political rationalisation of these officials was that Australia needed to be in a position to manufacture nuclear weapons rapidly if India and Japan were to go nuclear… the Australian officials indicated they could not even contemplate signing the NPT if it were not for an interpretation which would enable the deployment of nuclear weapons belonging to an ally on Australian soil.”

Eighteen months after Rusk’s fractious visit to Canberra, Gorton called a general election. He declared his commitment to a nuclear-powered (if not a nuclear-armed) Australia, announcing that “the time for this nation to enter the atomic age has now arrived” and laying out his scheme for a 500-megawatt nuclear power plant to be built at Jervis Bay, on NSW’s south coast. While the defence benefits of such a reactor were unspoken, there was no mistaking the military potential of the plutonium it would be producing.

The Jervis Bay reactor never got off the drawing board, although planning reached an advanced stage. Detailed specifications were put out to tender and there was broad agreement over a British bid to build a heavy-water reactor. A Cabinet submission was in the pipeline when Gorton lost the confidence of the party room and was replaced by William McMahon, a nuclear sceptic who moved quickly to defer the project.

It would be another 28 years before Gorton finally came clean on the link between the reactor and his ambition for Australia to have nuclear weapons.  . In 1999 he told a Sydney newspaper that “we were interested in this thing because it could provide electricity to everybody and… if you decided later on, it could make an atomic bomb”. Gorton did not identify who he meant by “we” (although Philip Baxter was almost certainly among them) but Gorton and those who shared his nuclear ambitions were unable to win over the doubters in his own government.

Australia signed the non-proliferation treaty in 1970 but even as it did so it was clear that Gorton had no intention of ratifying the treaty. Australia would not ratify it until 1973, and then only after McMahon’s Coalition government had lost power to Gough Whitlam’s Labor Party. As well as ratifying the treaty, the Whitlam government cancelled the Jervis Bay project that had been in limbo since McMahon became prime minister. And with that, Whitlam effectively ended Australia’s quixotic bid to become a nuclear power.

Australia never got its own bomb, although as late as 1984  the foreign minister, Bill Hayden, could still speak about Australian nuclear research providing the country with the potential for nuclear weapons. The Morrison Government is unlikely to let the nuclear genie out of the bottle, with a spokesperson from the Department of Defence telling The Weekend Australian Magazine that “Australia stands by its Non-Proliferation Treaty pledge, as a non-nuclear weapon state, not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons”.  …..    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/weekend-australian-magazine/gorton-and-the-bomb-australias-nuclear-ambitions/news-story/00787e322a41d2ff37a146c86a739f02 

August 31, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Jervis Bay and previous governments’ secret plans for nuclear weapons

August 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, Opposition to nuclear, opposition to nuclear, politics, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment