Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear tourism- a pretty sick idea, really

Nuclear tourism is so hot right now,  https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/opinion-nuclear-tourism-is-so-hot-right-now/news-story/0042cca4743450faafd5c694a11f8e2b

Matthew Abraham, Sunday Mail (SA), August 10, 2019   It was 3.40am precisely on March 1, 1954, when the great Adelaide earthquake rumbled into town, looking for a fight.

Rattled awake, Mum and Dad leapt out of bed, grabbed my older brother from his bedroom, and raced outside. They forgot something.

Me.

I was three weeks old at the time, bouncing around but still sound asleep at the foot of their double bed.

While the Home Alone moment is part of our family folklore, a far more sinister threat to babies in our sleeping city came just over two years later.
It was silent, invisible and a dirty little secret.

The UK Government began merrily blowing up South Australia’s backyard, detonating atomic “devices” on the Maralinga lands in a series of trials stretching from 1956 to 1963.

In radiation lingo, some of these trials were particularly “dirty”.

On October 11, 1956, an unexpected southerly wind shift carried a radioactive cloud from one such blast right across Adelaide. Almost a year to the day later, on October 9, 1957, radioactive rain from an even dirtier nuclear blast – a 25-kilotonne bomb detonated at Maralinga’s Taranki test site – fell on Adelaide.

We were all blissfully ignorant, and that’s how the UK and Australian Governments liked it. The full extent of these trials was covered up for more than 30 years. The denials and callous disregard for the lives of the indigenous people of the Maralinga lands remains an unmitigated disgrace.

You’d think that soaking up a little Strontium-90 with the Farex as a two-year-old might have been more than enough nuclear joy for anyone.

Strange then, that in 1984 I became a nuclear tourist, strolling across the ground zero sites of three of the Maralinga atomic blasts – Taranki, TM100 and TM101.

This is how it happened.

The then Labor premier, the late John Bannon, was pushing hard for the UK to pay for cleaning up the radioactive mess it’d left blowing around our desert.

Much of the credit for what proved to be a successful campaign should really go to his then press secretary, later premier, Mike Rann.

In May 1984, Rann invited journalists to fly to Maralinga to cover an inspection tour by Bannon and Labor’s resources minister, Peter Walsh.

As then political reporter for The Advertiser, I was on the jaunt.

Despite evidence of uncovered plutonium particles, nobody wore masks, protective clothing or special footwear. I wore my trusty, lightweight Dunlop KT-47s.

Before heading back to the airstrip, I pocketed a small piece of aluminium that had been melted out of shape, almost certainly from one of the towers erected to hold the bombs.

Of all the dumb things I’ve done in my life, this was by far the dumbest.

We were issued with monitoring badges but discovered these only measured background radiation, not airborne plutonium particles.

On arriving home I binned the Dunlops and all my clothes from the trip – including the nuked souvenir.

Later we were flown to the Australian Radiation Laboratories in Melbourne for a four-hour scan of our lungs and livers for any evidence of ingested plutonium particles.

They were negative, which is terrific, because plutonium has a half-life of 24,000 years and the tiniest particle lodged in a lung will give you cancer.

Last Tuesday marked 74 years since the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. We’re all so much wiser now. Aren’t we? Nah.

In Ukraine, tourists are reportedly flocking to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the focus of a recent TV drama dealing with the 1986 explosion that turned the nearby city into a ghost town.

The Ukrainian Government has announced it’s transforming the 30km exclusion zone around the still-melting reactor No.4 into a “tourist magnet”, improving mobile phone reception, lifting video bans, and creating walking trails and waterways.

The disaster quickly claimed the lives of 31 workers from direct radiation, while an estimated 5000 people developed thyroid cancer.

Now tourists are posting Chernobyl selfies on Instagram, including a young lady semi-naked in a white contamination suit. It’s all good clean atomic cataclysmic fun.

Nuke tourism? Been there, done that. Give me a small earthquake any day.

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August 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | Leave a comment

“Smile With Kids”- Queensland welcomes Fukushima children for a much-needed holiday

Queensland’s Smile With Kids helping Fukushima children to rebuild their lives, ABC News, 

Fourteen-year-old Karin Hirakuri hasn’t been allowed to play outside since she was six years old and every time she goes to the supermarket, she worries her food could be unsafe to eat.

Key points

  • High school students from Fukushima exercise, play and spend most of their time indoors
  • Refresh programs in Australia give children the chance to connect with families and experience the outdoors
  • Some children are finding career inspiration through refresh programs

Growing up in Fukushima, Japan, after the catastrophic tsunami and the meltdown of four nuclear reactors in 2011, Karin’s childhood has been spent mostly indoors to limit her exposure to radiation.

She is one of eight high school students in far north Queensland this week with Smile With Kids, a not-for-profit organisation that pairs children from Fukushima with Australian host families.

The program began in 2014, inspired by other “refresh camps” that aim to give Fukushima children a week of outdoor activities.

“They can just come and enjoy nature without worry,” Smile With Kids founder Maki McCarthy said.

A highlight for Karin was sinking her feet in the sand and feeling the spray of seawater on her face at Palm Cove beach, north of Cairns, on Thursday.

“I wasn’t able to go swimming at the beach for five years,” she said.  “We cannot play outside in Fukushima.

“We have to play in the gym or in the house.”,,,,,,,,,

Families connect

Smile With Kids host Catherine Gunn has been accommodating Fukushima students for the past three years and said the experience had been eye-opening.

“It opens my world up,” Ms Gunn said.

“Also the reflection on how lucky we are in Australia.

“We’ve never experience anything like [the nuclear disaster] in Australia, we have a very free life.”…….https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-28/children-enjoy-nature-after-nuclear-disaster/11348602

July 29, 2019 Posted by | personal stories, Queensland | Leave a comment

A Maralinga nuclear veteran’s grim story

Maralinga nuclear bomb test survivor reveals truth of what happened in the SA desert  https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/messenger/east-hills/maralinga-nuclear-bomb-test-survivor-reveals-truth-of-what-happened-in-the-sa-desert/news-story/697b17f6d3427a78aa0262b09727c169, 24 Apr 19

The nuclear bomb tests, under British Government control, at Maralinga in far west South Australia in the 1950s were conducted at the highest level of secrecy. But they had thousands of witnesses. Most were Australian servicemen, innocently used as guinea pigs and exposed to deadly radiation. Craig Cook talks to a survivor, one of the last of a group of men who built the Maralinga camp as part of 23 Construction Squadron and watched in awe as the bombs were exploded, little knowing they were risking their lives and the futures of their children.

Tony Spruzen knew the drill at the top secret Maralinga facility in the South Australian desert in the spring of 1956.

Just like hundreds of others at the nuclear site at 11-mile camp during Operation Buffalo, he was told to turn his back and cover his eyes to protect himself from the gigantic glare of the exploding atomic bomb.

What they didn’t tell the Australian Army sapper was, at the moment of the flash of detonation, he would see the bones of his hand through his tightly shut eyelids.

“It was like a massive x-ray,” Tony, 83, from Glengowrie says. ‘Unlike anything I’d ever known before.”

A week after One Tree, on October 6, 1956, Spruzen witnessed the detonation of Buffalo 2, named Marcoo.

The bomb was only a tenth the size of One Tree but this time was detonated directly above and just under the ground.

“The bomb was in an amphitheatre of hills and we were far closer to that one, maybe only 200 yards away,” he remembers.

“We were close enough to see the trenches with dummy soldiers in them holding rifles and fake aeroplanes and tanks used to test the blast effect.

“And we could see the scientists walking around in their white suits checking out the site before and afterwards but we were just in khaki shorts and short sleeved shorts. Even the dignitaries had no protection.”

Every hour, from five hours out, an elaborate PA system across the complex announced the timing of the bomb detonation.

In the final 30 seconds, and with a rising and excited inclination, the voice on the PA dramatically counted….ten, nine, eight…down to zero.

When Marcoo exploded at 7am it only took a few seconds for a heavy shower of dust to descend on the witnesses.

“We had this large piece of litmus paper attached to our shirts,” Spruzen recalls

Spruzen, originally from Victoria and a carpenter by trade, enlisted in the Army at just 16.

Four year later he was at Maralinga as part of a detachment of 23 Construction Squadron, an acclaimed unit of the Royal Australian Engineers and exclusively raised in South Australia.

Around 40 young men were selected from the unit to build a desert tent camp with cook houses and latrines for the Commonwealth military ‘high-ups’ who were having their first look at the impact of the devastating nuclear weapon.

Around 200km from the ocean, the tent city gained the facetious name of the ‘Sea View Holiday Camp’.

“It was an adventure…we were all excited,” he recalls.

“A lot of young single guys together and we had some fun.”

The lads knew it was serious too as this was a hush-hush operation. They weren’t even allowed to take a camera along for snapshots so Spruzen has no personal photos from Maralinga.

“Then we all turned around to see this mushroom cloud climbing into the sky. The next thing was the blast. The boom was deafening…and then the wind came about thirty seconds after that blowing dust and soil and debris all over us.”

But he does have a terrible reminder of his three months spent in far western South Australia.

“Of the 40 men who went up with me I only know of three of us still around,” he says. “The rest have all died – many from cancers.”

The first Maralinga bomb, Buffalo 1, with the nickname One Tree, was detonated after being dropped from a 31m high tower.

At 15 kiloton it was the same size as Little Boy, the bomb dropped by the US air force that demolished the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945, killing more than 100,000 instantly and tens of thousands slowly in the aftermath from burns and radiation poisoning.

“They said, keep an eye on that and if it changes to pink come and see us. Well it turned pink for every one of us.

“Had I have known what I know now I wouldn’t have been so close.”

Transferred to Sydney on a training course, Spruzen missed the final two detonations at Maralinga that year: on October 11, 1956, Buffalo 3 (Kite) was released by a Royal Air Force Vickers Valiant bomber, the first drop of a British nuclear weapon from an aircraft; and then on October 22, and again dropped from the 31m tower, (Buffalo 4) Breakaway exploded.

There were a total of seven nuclear desert tests at Maralinga performed during Operations Buffalo and Antler.

The 1985 McClelland Royal Commission heavily criticised the detonations, declaring the weather conditions were inappropriate and led to the widespread scattering of radioactive material.

The radioactive cloud from Buffalo 1 reached more than 11,000m into the air and with a northerly wind blowing radioactivity was detected across Adelaide.

Radioactive dust clouds from other bombs were detected in Northern Territory, Queensland and across New South Wales, as far away as Sydney, 2500km from Maralinga.

Around 12,000 Australian servicemen served at British nuclear test sites in the southern hemisphere between 1952 and 1963.

In recent years, the British Government’s claim that they never used humans “for guinea pig-type experiments” in nuclear weapons trials in Australia has been revealed to be a lie.

Tony Spruzen has struggled to come to terms with being placed in danger by his own government who had full knowledge of the consequences of exposure to radiation.

“Once we all found out later what we’d been exposed to at Maralinga it makes you very angry,” he says.

“We believed them when we were told we would be safe — but we haven’t been.”

Spruzen met his wife Shirley, the daughter of an army veteran, in Adelaide where they settled after marriage in June 1960. He left the army seven months later to work in civil construction. He thought his Maralinga days were well behind him but soon after they came to haunt him.

In the first four years of marriage, the couple agonisingly suffered six miscarriages, including twins.

Alarm bells started ringing when he was sent a survey from Veterans Affairs asking about his general health and, specifically his history of cancers.

“It turned out those involved in the atomic tests had a 30 per cent higher chance than getting cancers than the general public,” he says.

“Most of those got them within the first five years and a majority of those were dead before a decade had passed.”

Spruzen, who eventually had three children with Shirley, didn’t get cancer at that time, although he has since had several melanomas removed.

But when his son was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia at the age of 41, he wondered about the possibility of faulty genes, damaged by exposure to radiation, as has been documented in Japanese survivors of the atomic bombs, jumping a generation.

“My son was told by the QEH (Queen Elizabeth Hospital) there was nothing could be done for him but we went up to Queensland and after a bone marrow transfer from his sister he survived,” he adds.

“A decade on he’s working as strong as he has but I don’t think his condition was a coincidence given my history.

“There’s been nothing (compensation) for those of us who were there although they gave us a white card for our cancers and now we have a (full health) gold card.”

Ken Daly, President Royal Australian Engineers Association says it is the least the men, who literally put their bodies on the line, deserve.

“You get these young men, aged around 25-30, with a history of exposure to radiation, coming down with cancers in those numbers and you just know what has caused it,” he says.

“Many died within a few years of being exposed to the fallout and many passed on generational health problems and birth defects to their children.”

Mr Daly, who was based at Warradale Barracks for 15 years, where 23 Construction was based until being disbanded in the early 1960s, hadn’t heard of the Squadron until around five years ago.

Since then he has been central to the group gaining due recognition.

In its earliest days the Squadron, with a strength of eight officers and 160 in other ranks, built the El Alamein Army Reserve camp, part of which later became the Baxter Detention Centre, outside of Port Augusta.

It also assisted the South Australian community by providing aid during bush fires, the grasshopper plague of 1955, and significant infrastructure construction.

During the record flood of 1956, while those squad members were at Maralinga, the rest of 23 Construction were out sandbagging River Murray towns and then cleaning up after the water receded.

In 2011, the Royal Australian Engineers constructed a memorial at Warradale to all who have served in its ranks.

This year a bronzed engineer’s slouch hat, of actual size, by Western Australian sculptor and former army engineer Ron Gomboc will be incorporated into the memorial.

“The hat will be mounted on the memorial in such a way it will look like it’s suspended in mid-air,” Daly adds.

“It acknowledges the ultimate sacrifice of the more than 1250 engineers who died in World War I and the remarkable service and sacrifice of 23 Construction Squadron that has never been recognised before.”

The slouch hat, costing $6,000 and one of only six to have been cast, will be unveiled during a service at Warradale Barracks at midday on Sunday April 28.

Contact Ken Daly at dailydouble@bigpond.com for further details.

Subscriber only https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/messenger/east-hills/maralinga-nuclear-bomb-test-survivor-reveals-truth-of-what-happened-in-the-sa-desert/news-story/697b17f6d3427a78aa0262b09727c169

April 25, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, personal stories, reference, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Anti nuclear campaigner Eileen Wani Wingfield honoured posthumously at the 2018 SA Environment Awards. 

Family accepts Lifetime Achiever Award in Eileen’s honour  https://www.transcontinental.com.au/story/5892492/eileen-wingfield-honoured-as-a-conservation-legend/?cs=1538&fbclid=IwAR0EgYbVPqxhd1EkhHXcL5Z-k8cuWyWWjDAHvuJznCeeDlliHoOudQ1toSo#slide=1, Amy Green, 13 Feb 19, 

February 14, 2019 Posted by | personal stories, South Australia | 1 Comment

Yes, Prime Minister, I’m striking from school: consider it a climate lesson

  Canberra Times, By Veronica Hester 29 November 2018 I am Veronica, 15 years old, from Scott Morrison’s electorate. Despite our Prime Minister’s calls for students not to strike from school on Friday, we’re choosing to no longer be powerless. We will be striking with thousands of other students, to show we will not stand for our government’s inaction on climate change………
In school, we have seen the raw truth of climate change: videos of our dead and dying Great Barrier Reef, increasingly shocking statistics, forecasts of a worrying future.

Seeing this, we students do not shout at each other across the classroom. We sit in a shocked silence. Afterwards, we shout, with our signs and our demands. Because how can an educated person know all we know, and do nothing?

Mr Morrison and his government continue to overlook the danger of climate change, while not seeming to have a problem helping coal miners such as Adani dig up and burn more coal. It’s surreal to watch nothing significant happening on the parliamentary floor, when the solutions have been made so clear. We are one of the sunniest and windiest countries in the world, yet our government chooses to burn more coal.

When Mr Morrison refuses to implement a climate policy that keeps fossil fuels in the ground and transition to 100 per cent renewable energy, he isn’t representing us, our community, or the majority of Australians who want urgent climate action.

Tackling climate change isn’t just about looking out for our young people. We’ll all live with extreme heat and changing weather patterns, not to mention the sense of helplessness in losing our natural world.

By making a stand and organising our communities, we can push our politicians to represent us, not lumps of coal…….That is all we want – for a serious problem to be treated seriously by our politicians. We need the fire of climate change to be confronted, not left to engulf my generation.

Veronica Hester is a school student from the Sutherland Shire. https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/yes-prime-minister-i-m-striking-from-school-consider-it-a-climate-lesson-20181127-p50iqd.html

November 29, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, personal stories | Leave a comment

Friday November 30 – Australian students Strike For Climate Action

Why aren’t they doing anything?: Students strike to give climate lesson, https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/why-aren-t-they-doing-anything-students-strike-to-give-climate-lesson-20181123-p50hvu.htmlBy Peter Hannam,  24 November 2018 This Friday, November 30, thousands of Australian students will go on strike, demanding their politicians start taking serious action on climate change.The movement, School Strike 4 Climate Action, has been inspired by a 15-year-old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, who started boycotting classes before parliamentary elections in her nation on September 9, and continues to skip school every Friday. She also has a particular message for Australia.

Students in each state capital and across 20 regional Australian centres will walk out of their classrooms this week to tell politicians that more of the same climate inaction is not good enough.

Here are some of the lessons they hope to teach.

‘If we really want a better planet Earth’ Continue reading

November 25, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, personal stories | Leave a comment

A cry from a brave indigenous heart

Heather Mckenzie Stuart Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 4 June 18  Hmm, Regina McKenzie Vivianne C McKenzie I feel that our intelligence has been insulted by DIIS especially how we have been disrespected and ignored in our stand against the proposed nuclear waste dump Barndioota on Adnyamathanha yarta.

Honestly people, we might be Aboriginal and are still part of the flora and fauna and not in the Australian Constitution, but we have a mind of our own and can go between the non Aboriginal world and our culture.

We started our campaign against the dump talking to media etc, attending protest marches, visiting politicians. Vivianne and Regina went to Melbourne to see the then minister Frydenburg. Regina and my grand daughter went to Canberra campaigning with others. Regina’s daughter attended functions in Sydney.

I dropped out attending functions interstate, due to the loss of my only son. The grief of a loss of a child, no matter how old is horrendous, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but at the time, the DIIS lot didn’t care about me my feelings, my hurt, my sorrow as a human being, a mother who was in mourning, they still persisted liaisoning with my family organisation and visited family homes in Port Augusta causing unrest among our once close family. During this time, culturally at different times, I should have had my loved ones around me, but due to the unrest among everyone that those lot caused, me and my family were left on our own. Everyones world was turned upside down as we had already lost a dear family member 4 months before my son’s passing, we were already grieving for a nephew.

I love all my family no matter what, but I with my sisters and my family will trudge on against what we believe in and that’s standing up and say NO to a nuclear waste dump on Adnyamathanha yarta. We will never forget the hurt that has been caused through this dump by DIIS dividing and conquering. We have had enough of our family been destroyed bad enough our mum was stolen from her family. #WeWillKeepSayingNoToNuclearWaste#EnoughIsEnough #WeWillNeverGiveUp https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/

June 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, personal stories | Leave a comment

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

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

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

Group of Montebello nuclear test veterans have no medical insurance, not entitled to gold card

Montebello nuclear testing veterans exposed to radiation vent anger over gold card refusal http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-15/nuclear-testing-veterans-hold-protest-at-wa-parliament/9551658 By: Jacob Kagi 

March 17, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, personal stories, weapons and war | Leave a comment

My people are still suffering from Australia’s secret nuclear testing

 http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/my-people-are-still-suffering-from-australias-secret-nuclear-testing-20171208-h01a3l.html Sue Coleman-Haseldine, 

My name is Sue Coleman-Haseldine. I was born into poverty on the margins of Australian society on the Aboriginal mission of Koonibba in 1951. At this time my people were not allowed to vote and we had very few means to be understood, let alone be heard.

I was born into one of the oldest living cultures known on Earth and into a place that I love – a dusty, arid paradise on the edge of a rugged coastline. Our land and waters are central to our outlook and religion and provide the basis for my people’s health and happiness.

And I was born just before the desert lands to our north were bombed by the deadliest weapons on Earth in an extensive, secretive and devastating manner by the Australian and British governments.

In the 1950s, areas known as Emu Fields and Maralinga were used to test nine full-scale atomic bombs and for 600 other nuclear tests, leaving the land highly radioactive. We weren’t on ground zero, but the dust didn’t stay in one place. The winds brought the poison to us and many others.

Aboriginal people, indeed many people at that time, knew nothing about the effects of radiation. We didn’t know the invisible killer was falling amongst us. Six decades on, my small town of Ceduna is being called the Cancer Capital of Australia. There are so many deaths in our region of various cancers. My grand-daughter and I have had our thyroids removed, and there are many others in our area with thyroid problems. Fertility issues appear common.

But there has been no long-term assessment of the health impacts in the region and even those involved in the botched clean-ups of the test sites have no recourse because they cannot prove their illness is linked with exposure to nuclear weapons testing.

The impact of the Maralinga and Emu Fields testing has had far-reaching consequences that are still being felt today. Ask a young person from my area, “What do you think you will die from?” The answer is, “Cancer, everyone else is”.

I have lived my life learning about the bomb tests and also learning that the voice of my people and others won’t always be understood or heard. But I learnt from old people now gone that speaking up is important and by joining with others from many different places and backgrounds that our voices can be amplified.

Through these steps I found the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), or perhaps ICAN found me.

ICAN – as an organisation, as a collective of passionate, educated people working for a clear goal – has been so important to me. To know that my story and my voice helps bring recognition to the past and can shape the future of nuclear prohibition has strengthened my resolve.

Being involved in ICAN has been a double-edged sword. On one hand and for the first time in my life, I no longer feel alone or isolated. I have met others from many parts of the globe who have similar stories and experiences and who are passionate advocates for a nuclear-free future.

But the flip side of this is my understanding of just how widespread and just how devastating the nuclear weapons legacy is across the globe. To learn that so many weapons still exist sends fear to my heart. ICAN is a worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – in a short time we have gathered support for a treaty to finally outlaw nuclear weapons and help eliminate the nuclear threat.

The vision was reached in part with so many nations adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July 2017. And we should celebrate this win and the opportunity to work together to stop the suffering and assist countries to make amends to nuclear weapons victims by acknowledging the permanent damage done to land, health and culture.

Unfortunately, the Australian government, along with other first world nations, didn’t even participate in the treaty negotiations, and they haven’t signed the treaty yet, but over time we feel confident they will.

A lot has changed since I was born. Aboriginal people now have the right to vote in Australia, but still we battle for understanding about our culture and the Australian nuclear weapons legacy. My home is still remote and most of my people still poor. But we are also no longer alone. We have the means and the will to participate – to share and to learn and to bring about lasting change.

ICAN’s work is not done, our work is not done. We will continue to work together. A world without nuclear weapons is a world we need and are creating. I stand here in hope and gratitude for the opportunity to participate. I stand here with pride and I stand here for our future and the generations to come.

Sue Coleman-Haseldine is a Kokatha woman who lives in Ceduna, South Australia. This is an extract of her speech in Oslo marking the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN.​

December 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories, weapons and war | 18 Comments

Yami Lester’s daughters continue his fight against the nuclear industry

Yami’s daughters take up anti-nuclear fight https://nit.com.au/yamis-daughters-take-anti-nuclear-fight/ – Wendy Caccetta –reporter@nit.com.auNovember 29, 2017 Sisters Karina and Rose Lester know all too well the tragedy nuclear weapons can bring.

Their late father Yami Lester, a Yankunytjatjara man of northern South Australia, lost his sight after being exposed as a boy to nuclear testing by the British Government at Maralinga in remote SA.

He went on to become a prominent anti-nuclear campaigner.

Now his daughters have taken up the battle, collecting and sharing stories that have helped the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) win a Nobel Peace Prize.

The prestigious prize will be presented in Oslo on December 10, with an event at Melbourne Town Hall to be held the same day.

Karina Lester, who lives in Adelaide, said when she was growing up her father did not talk much at home about what had happened to him as a boy when the nuclear testing took place.

But in public Mr Lester, who passed away in July at the age of 75, felt it was important to share with the world the events that shook the Wallatina community in the ’50s.

“There’s a role a parent plays in protecting your children from really knowing some of the sad, sad stories that did take place across our community,” Ms Lester said.

“He spoke a bit about where the camp was, he remembers that day, he remembers the ground shaking and this black mist rolling and the fear in the community.

“There was a huge loss for us as an Aboriginal community and we were so badly done by when the British came in and tested in our backyard that we still suffer to this day.”

Ms Lester said conditions in the community deteriorated over a week after the testing.“When the fallout happened, that evening, people were violently ill,” she said. “There was a lot of vomiting going around in the camp. People became sick. Their eyes started getting sore and tender.

“By day two, people were really starting to suffer. By week two, people’s eyes were either burnt out or people had bad burns on their bodies. “There were lots of rashes appearing and there was a trail of black-like soot that fell over the whole of the community.

“The oranges had shrivelled up and by that week were non-edible.”

Ms Lester said the story was a painful one, but needed to be heard. She said it was important to take a stand against anything nuclear from weapons to waste storage facilities. The Lester sisters gave NIT permission to reproduce the photo of their late father.

 

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Opposition to nuclear, personal stories, South Australia | Leave a comment

Aboriginal grandmother, survivor of Maralinga nuclear bomb tests, to Norway for Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

World spotlight shines on Maralinga horrorhttps://au.news.yahoo.com/a/38090548/world-spotlight-shines-on-maralinga-horror/   Lisa Martin, 30 Nov 17,  Sue Coleman-Haseldine was a toddler crawling around in the dirt when the winds brought the black mist.

Her white nappies on the washing line were burnt.

It was in the 1950s when the British began testing nuclear weapons at Maralinga in the South Australian outback.

The legacy of the bombs dropped continues to haunt the 67-year-old Aboriginal grandmother. “We weren’t on ground zero at Maralinga, otherwise we would all be dead,” she told AAP. “I was born and grew up on a mission at Koonibba, but the winds came to us.”

Ceduna, the main township before the Nullarbor, is the cancer capital of Australia, Ms Coleman-Haseldine says. She’s had her thyroid removed and will be on medication for the rest of her life.

Her 15-year-old granddaughter is also battling thyroid cancer..

There are birth defects and cancers right across the community. “It’s changed our genes,” she said.”These diseases weren’t around before the bombs.”

On December 10, Ms Coleman-Haseldine will be in Oslo for the Noble Peace Prize award ceremony.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is being recognised for its work to achieve a treaty-based ban on nuclear weapons.

So far 122 countries have adopted the treaty, excluding Australia and countries with nuclear weapons – the US, UK, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.

Only three countries have ratified the treaty and 50 are needed for it to become international law.

ICAN is a grassroots movement that began in Carlton, Melbourne more than a decade ago.

In Norway, Ms Coleman-Haseldine will tell the story of her people and their contaminated land.”You’ve got to keep the past alive to protect the future,” she said.

Ms Coleman-Haseldine hopes Australia will reverse its opposition and sign the treaty.

The Turnbull government has ruled that out but the Labor Party will debate the issue at its national conference next year.

December 1, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, personal stories, South Australia | Leave a comment

Nobel Peace Prize Win and the work of Australian indigenous activist Karina Lester

Indigenous anti-nuclear activist tells of her personal work with Nobel Prize-winning ICAN http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-07/ican-and-a-personal-battle-against-nuclear-weapons/9026846 By Karen Percy For Karina Lester 2017 has been a mixed bag — the loss of her beloved father, but a big win as part of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

Ms Lester’s anti-nuclear stance is a very personal one.

Her father was Yami Lester, an Aboriginal elder who was blinded by nuclear fallout when he was a child.

Mr Lester died just two weeks after the United Nations agreed to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons thanks to ICAN’s work, which was last night named by the Norwegian Nobel Committee as the Peace Prize winner for 2017.

He was 75 and had spent a lifetime raising awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons, having been blinded during British weapons testing in Maralinga in South Australia in the 1950s.

“I think he’d be really pleased and very proud to know but also grateful that ICAN was able to provide that platform for us and that his story was so powerful,” Ms Lester said.

On July 7 the United Nations adopted the treaty. Mr Lester died on July 21.

Ms Lester has become as passionate about the anti-nuclear movement as her father. “It’s not a happy story, it’s quite a sad and tragic story, but ICAN has certainly been a wonderful platform for us Anangu and Aboriginal people of Australia to really talk up strongly about what happened to us back in those days,” she said.

When she was younger, she did not know what had caused her father’s blindness.

“It wasn’t until later in life that I realised it was such a sad story … with the doings of the British Government and our Australian Government as well … allowing for tests to happen in South Australia in the 1950s and 60s.

“[And] that they were responsible for taking my father’s sight.

“There were a lot of people affected by this, not only Aboriginal people, there were non-Aboriginal people, ex-servicemen and women who were exposed to this as well.”

As a representative of Indigenous voices within ICAN’s 400-strong organisations around the world, she has told her father’s story to audiences around the Asia-Pacific region, including the Japanese city of Hiroshima, which was struck by an American nuclear bomb in 1945.

A later attack on the Japanese city of Nagasaki prompted an end to World War II.

Ms Lester has also exchanged stories with the people of the Marshall Islands and Tahiti affected by nuclear testing by French authorities from the 1960s until the 1990s.

“Many tests have taken place or nuclear issues have occurred in Indigenous countries around the world, so it’s a global issue for sure,” said Ms Lester, a Western Desert Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara woman.

Her grandparents were part of efforts to prevent the establishment of a nuclear waste facility in SA.

She took her daughters to Hiroshima in November 2015 where Yami Lester’s experience was well understood.

“It’s important for us to continue on sharing that story for the next generation to know the story and [then] the next generation to know the story,” she said.

The historic treaty pushed by ICAN needs 50 nations to sign on before it will be activated.

Australia has yet to join the treaty.

October 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | Leave a comment

Death of famed and much-loved Aboriginal activist Yami Lester

Yankunytjatjara elder and Maralinga nuclear test survivor Yami Lester OAM passes away, aged 75 http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/yankunytjatjara-elder-and-maralinga-nuclear-test-survivor-yami-lester-oam-passes-away-aged-75/news-story/ccfc3f82c75a643c3e49f22c8a215dbf, MATT GARRICK, Sunday Mail (SA), July 22, 2017 YANKUNYTJATJARA elder Yami Lester OAM, an Outback hero who opened the nation’s eyes to the human cost of nuclear tests committed on Australian soil, has died aged 75 in Alice Springs.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | 1 Comment

Tributes flow, on the death of highly respected Aboriginal elder Yami Lester

Yami Lester: tributes follow death of Aboriginal elder and Maralinga activist https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/23/yami-lester-tributes-follow-death-of-aboriginal-elder-and-maralinga-activist

Lester, who was blinded by British atomic tests in South Australia in the 1950s, campaigned to get recognition for the 1,800 Indigenous Australians affected, Guardian, 23 July 17 Tributes have poured in for Aboriginal elder and activist Yami Lester, who died at the age of 75.

Lester, who died in Alice Springs on Friday night, lived a life of “great hardship and challenge” after being blinded as a young adolescent by the Maralinga atomic tests in the 1950s, which he called the “black mist”.

He worked as a stockman before losing his sight.

He may be farewelled at a state funeral if his family accepts the offer from the Northern Territory government.“Mr Lester was a key Aboriginal leader who embraced the challenge of bridging two worlds,” NT chief minister Michael Gunner said on Saturday.

“He never let his blindness hold him back, he was sharp as a tack in negotiating at the highest levels of business and government.

“His life was a life of great hardship and challenge, met with great courage and foresight, and he achieved great change.”

He joined the Aboriginal Advancement League in Adelaide, fighting to gain recognition for the British atomic tests in South Australia, and an acknowledgement for the 1,800 Aboriginal people affected.

His work lead to the McClelland royal commission in 1984-85 which resulted in group compensation for the Maralinga Tjarutja people and long-term clean-up operations to restore the land.

Lester, who had an Order of Australia, was also central to the work of the Pitjantjatjara Council that led to the grant of freehold title to traditional owners in South Australia.

South Australia’s Aboriginal affairs minister, Kyam Maher, said Lester had inspired many and left behind a strong legacy.

Lester was also the inspiration for the 1987 Paul Kelly song Maralinga.“My thoughts are with his family, who carry on his work of activism, standing up for the rights and views of Anangu and preserving culture and language,” he said in a statement.

The South Australian government is consulting with his family on a memorial to recognise his contribution to the state.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | Leave a comment