Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australian government using a loophole to evade international non-proliferation treaties, to get nuclear submarines?

“interesting interpretation” that the government would try to qualify for an exemption from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspection regime by claiming military submarines, which will be fuelled with weapons grade uranium, are for peaceful purposes.”

Labor questions whether nuclear subs breach international law,   AFR,  Andrew Tillett, Political correspondent, 30 Nov 21,  Labor MPs have raised concerns about Australia breaching its non-proliferation obligations under the Morrison government’s plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines from Britain and the United States.

Parliament’s Treaties Committee has begun a snap inquiry into the first element under the AUKUS deal, an agreement between the three countries to allow the sharing of highly classified nuclear technology with Australian officials.

The nuclear agreement also covers training opportunities for Australian submariners and technicians with the British and American programs.

Under the AUKUS pact, the government will acquire up to eight nuclear-powered submarines, promising they will be built in Adelaide. The first is due to be delivered sometime before 2040.

The government is adamant the nuclear submarine deal will not be a precursor to acquiring nuclear weapons.

The inquiry is due to report by December 17 but at its first hearing on Monday, Labor MP Josh Wilson highlighted significant uncertainty over the government’s plan to use a loophole in the international nuclear safety regime, which had never been used before, to acquire the submarines.

Mr Wilson and fellow Labor MP Peter Khalil grilled officials from the Defence, Foreign Affairs and Attorney-General’s departments over how Australia could acquire nuclear-powered submarines while still complying with its obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Training ‘needs to start now’

Mr Wilson said it was an “interesting interpretation” that the government would try to qualify for an exemption from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspection regime by claiming military submarines, which will be fuelled with weapons grade uranium, are for peaceful purposes.

“If it was determined that was acceptable, we will have broken new ground in weakening the existing non-proliferation regime,” Mr Wilson observed……….. https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/questions-over-whether-nuclear-subs-breach-international-law-20211129-p59d0h

November 30, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Maralinga nuclear bomb tests – British and Australian governments’ callous cruelty to First Nations people.

Australia’s Chernobyl: The British carried out nuclear tests on Indigenous land. It will never heal.   https://www.mamamia.com.au/maralinga-nuclear-testing/ CHELSEA MCLAUGHLIN, JULY 5, 2021  For tens of thousands of years, the Aṉangu people lived on the warm, red earth of their country.

The land provided them with food, water and shelter as they travelled around an area we now know as outback Far North South Australia.

But after colonisation, they were moved off their land: forcibly removed, sent into missions across the region and displaced by train lines linking Australia’s east and west that impacted their water supply. 

Much of the information around the tests was highly classified, and some information remains so.

For tens of thousands of years, the Aṉangu people lived on the warm, red earth of their country.

The land provided them with food, water and shelter as they travelled around an area we now know as outback Far North South Australia.

But after colonisation, they were moved off their land: forcibly removed, sent into missions across the region and displaced by train lines linking Australia’s east and west that impacted their water supply. 

Much of the information around the tests was highly classified, and some information remains so.

Thirty per cent of the British and Australian servicemen who were exposed during these tests died of cancer, though a Royal Commission in 1984 was not able to reach a conclusion linking their health issues directly to the blasts. 

Similarly, many locals died prematurely, went blind and suffered from illness that may have been linked to radiation.

British nuclear scientists, wanting to determine the long-term effects of the tests on Australia and its citizens, ordered the testing of dead Australian infants and children for radiation contamination.

Between 1957 and 1978 in hospitals around Australia, bones were secretly removed from 21,830 bodies. They were reduced to ash and sent away to be analysed for the presence of Strontium 90, a radioactive isotope produced by nuclear fission.

Unsurprisingly, none of the First Nations people of the region were told about the tests and many of the bones were taken without permission.

Associate professor Liz Tynan, the author of Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga Story, told Mamamia‘s The Quicky First Nations people were still in the area during the periods of testing, and this led to disastrous consequences.

Tynan said the Milpuddie family – Charlie, Edie, two kids and their dogs – were found by British service personnel in 1957, camped on the crater left by the bomb Marcoo soon after it had been detonated. 

They were rounded up and most of the family, not Edie, but most of them, were given showers. Edie didn’t wish to have a shower,” Tynan explained.

“They were tested for radioactivity and the geiger counters did detect radioactivity, particularly on the young boy Henry. Anyway, there were rather insensitively treated I suppose, given showers, had clothes put on them and then take off down south to a mission.”

Their dogs were shot in front of them. Edie was pregnant at the time, and she later lost her child.

“It was a tragic story and indicative of the callous approach to Indigenous people that was displayed by both the British government and their officials that were conducting the tests, and by the Australian government as well,” Tynan said.

Following the testing, many Aṉangu people returned to the area, but the lands that had previously sustained and protected them were now poison.

We still don’t know the truth impact of the bombs at Maralinga, as well as nearby Emu Fields and the Montebello Islands off the coast of Western Australia.

“The South Australian Department of Health commissioned a fairly extensive study, [but] that study was hampered by the fact there was no base-line data from which to understand the general health of the population before the tests,” Tynan said.

The study did show an increase in various cancers, but most of the findings were inconclusive due to a lack of information. Indigenous Australians were not counted in the census at the time and there was very little known about the health of the populations.

In 1964, a limited cleanup of the Maralinga site, named ‘Operation Hercules’, took place. 

A year after a 1966 survey into the level of contamination at the site, a second clean-up titled ‘Operation Brumby’ filled 21 pits with contaminated equipment and covered them with 650 tonnes of concrete.

Tynan said it was later found the survey data was drastically wrong, and the contamination was 10 times worse than thought.

It wasn’t until decades later, with the help whistleblowers and scientists, that the government began to realise the true, horrifying extent of the damage done to the land at Maralinga.

Under an agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia in 1995, another clean-up took place. And while this was more thorough than the previous, it still came with issues.

Whistleblower Alan Parkinson, who wrote the 2007 book Maralinga: Australia’s Nuclear Waste Cover-up, exposed the unsatisfactory methods.

The plan had been to treat several thousand tonnes of debris contaminated with plutonium by a process called situ vitrification. Against the advice of Parkinson, the government extended the contract of the project manager, even though that company had no knowledge of the complex process of vitrification.

Parkinson was let go from the project.

The government and the project manager then embarked on a hybrid scheme in which some pits would be exhumed and others treated by vitrification. After successfully treating 12 pits, the 13th exploded and severely damaged the equipment. The government then cancelled the vitrification and simply exhumed the remaining pits, placed the debris in a shallow pit and covered it with clean soil.

Parkinson told The Quicky another, complete clean-up of Maralinga could take place, but it was unlikely because of the cost and the courage it would take to admit the previous attempts were insufficient.

Around the same time as the 90s clean up was the Australian government push for a nuclear waste dump to be located nearby. 

Fearing even further poisoning of their country, First Nations woman Eileen Wani Wingfield co-founded the Coober Pedy Women’s Council to campaign against the proposal.

The plan was eventually abandoned, but has popped up again in many forms over the decades. Currently, the Coalition is amending a bill that could see a site set up near Kimba.

Glen Wingfield, Eileen’s son, has spent his life working and learning from his parents’ tireless campaign for protection of their country.

The theme of NAIDOC Week 2021 is Heal Country! but as Wingfield told The Quicky, much of the Aṉangu lands in and around Maralinga are beyond healing.

“A lot of the Aboriginal communities that live in and around that area, they just will not and do not go back near that country. I think that’s a word, healing, that we can’t use in the same sentence with that area.”

Tynan agreed, saying there are parts of the area that will be uninhabitable for a quarter of a million years.

“There are parts of the site that you can’t go to, that are still very dangerous,” she said.

“The real problem at Maralinga was the plutonium which was detonated in a series of trials… The particular type of plutonium they used, plutonium 239, has a half-life of 21,400 years which takes hundreds of thousands of years for that radioactivity to diminish.”

Wingfield said the broken connection between these people and their lands is “just downright disgraceful and horrible”.

“No amount of conversation will ever cover what’s been done for people in and around. The lasting effects of health issues on people have been passed through people who were there to generational abnormalities… I think when you talk compensation and stuff, I don’t think we’ll ever get close.”

July 5, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, environment, health, history, personal stories, reference, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

An international tribute to nuclear-free warrior, Dr Helen Caldicott

My Six Mentors,  “…….Helen Caldicott, MD,  by Mary Olson, Gender and Radiation Impact Project, 1 January 20121

Helen Caldicott deserves a much greater place in our histories of the Cold War and ending the USA / USSR arms race than she generally gets. This is, perhaps, because she is powerful and a woman. A pediatrician, who in the 1970’s would not tolerate the radioactive fallout she and her patients were suffering from nuclear weapons tests in Australia, Helen and her family came to the USA. She and another physician named Ira Helfand revived what had been a local Boston organization of physicians and created a Nobel Prize winning organization called Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), which later participated in the creation of another Nobel Prize winning group, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). These two along with hundreds of other organizations committed to peace and nuclear disarmament formed the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) which has helped to create the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (see http://icanw.org/the-treaty ) and also won the Nobel Prize (2017).

Helen herself is a powerful communicator and will move audiences at a level that can change the course of someone’s life and work. She followed her own destiny to winning meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the Soviet Union, where she educated him about Nuclear Winter and the fact that nuclear is not a war that anyone can win. She also met with President Reagan in the era and diagnosing early-stage dementia… Her ability to bring the reality of the world to these men, and reality of these men to the world set her aside, in a class by herself—and was an enormous contribution to us all.

I first met Helen in the body of her Cold War block-buster book “Nuclear Madness.” I was in the midst of an existential crisis that could have become an even bigger health crisis.  After college I needed a job (not yet a career) because I was broke, broken up from my first “true” love, and far from home. I got a job as a research assistant in a lab at a prestigious medical school; it was 1984.

Within 2 weeks, I was inadvertently contaminated with radioactivity (without my knowledge) by carelessness of a lab-mate. The radioactive material, Phosphorus-32 is used in research to trace biochemical activity in living organisms. This type of radioactivity is not deeply penetrating, so there was some reason not to panic, however the I was exposed continuously for over a week, and I also found radioactivity at home– my toothbrush was “hot”—so I had also had some level of internal exposure. I was terrified. The lab used concentrations of the tracer thousands of times higher than is typical.

The institution told me there was no danger, but because I was upset, they helped me transfer to a different job. No accident report was filed, and in the midst of transition, my radiation detection badge was never processed. It is not possible to know the dimensions of my exposure—I began having symptoms that were not normal for me. Many people, including some family members told me I was imagining things. No one in my circle understood how terrified I was.

I was fortunate that Helen had already written “Nuclear Madness”—the first edition came out in 1978, just before the March 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown in Harrisburg PA—an event that propelled the book into multiple printings including a Bantam Paperback edition that I found. It turned out that 7 years later I helped Helen to revise and update the same text for the 1994 WW Norton edition. It was Helen’s deep commitment to truth, to speaking and writing that truth, to empowering people to take action for good. Helen’s words accurately described radiation and its potential for harm, and in my panic about the unknown, this calmed me.

Every other authority I had encountered was trying to tell me there was no problem—when I knew they had no right to dismiss what had happened to me.  I am quite certain that had I remained alone with my fear, despair, and confusion my panic would have resulted in behaviors that would have compounded any harm bodily from that radioactive contamination. Reading Helen’s work let me know there was at least one woman walking the Earth who did know what I was going through… it made it possible for me to choose recovery and walk away from a legal battle that would have forced me to maintain, hold and prove a myself a victim. Instead, following in Helen’s wake, I chose Peaceful Warrior. Thank you Helen! : ……….. https://www.genderandradiation.org/blog/2020/12/31/my-six-mentors

 

January 1, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | 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

A mixed blessing – the sudden departure of Australia’s nuclear high priest, Dr Adi Paterson

I am reminded of Hilaire Belloc’s advice to the young – ”Always keep a hold of Nurse, for fear of finding something worse”.

Among other sycophantic tributes, Dr Adi Paterson is lauded for encouraging women into the nuclear industry.

Adi Paterson spent several years in South Africa, trying to establish Small Nuclear Reactors. It turned out to be Tan expensive and useless exercise. Then he came to Australia, with the same dream. He quietly signed Australia up to the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems, without any consultation, discussion in Parliament (which rubber-stamped this later).

He quietly organised Australia’s participation with China in developing small nuclear reactors.

He rubbished renewable energy at a solar conference.

He went to Kimba to do propaganda for the nuclear waste dump plan, but admitted that there was no economic benefit in  the low level waste dump, so the intermediate level waste was the real intention.

Leadership changes at ANSTO,   Statement from the ANSTO Chair: Dr Annabelle Bennett  9 Sep 20,  Dr Adi Paterson has resigned as CEO of ANSTO slightly ahead of time of his term. He has decided to take a period of leave before formally finishing. ……..

Mr Shaun Jenkinson will continue as acting CEO, while the Board undertakes a global search for a permanent CEO. https://www.ansto.gov.au/news/leadership-changes-at-ansto?fbclid=IwAR0cLOwne84D7XJP9UGwrf1aVAxyXgStAB6502zPYUgsqxdbjUuyUR3MYjo

Adrian “Adi” Paterson is a South African scientist and engineer best known for his work on Pebble Bed modular reactor research and development. He was appointed CEO of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) in 2009

In 2006, he became General Manager of Business Development Operations at the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Company in South Africa, and held the position until December 2008. The Company downsized significantly following his departure. In 2010, Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan described the project in Parliament saying that “between 2005 and 2009, it became increasingly clear that, based on the direct-cycle electricity design, PBMR’s potential investor and customer market was severely restricted, and it was unable to acquire either [investors or customers].”

He emigrated to Australia in 2008 and was appointed Chief Executive Officer at ANSTO in March 2009.

September 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories, politics | Leave a comment

Regina McKenzie comments on Felicity Wright’s submission about the National Radioactive WAste Dump

May 21, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | Leave a comment

NUCLEAR WASTE DEBATE DIVIDING COMMUNITIES

NUCLEAR WASTE DEBATE DIVIDING COMMUNITIES Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA  The Transcontinental November 06, 2019, My name is Ken McKenzie. The Flinders Ranges and Port Augusta have always been my home. I now reside in Flinders House in Quorn.

I wish to say that the radioactive waste dump being proposed for our region is going to be very dangerous for all of us and for generations to come if it is allowed to go ahead.

This is something for all South Australians both black and white to be involved in as it will have an effect one way or another on every one of us.

The area where they want to put this dump is on my tribal land. My ancestors are buried here.

The area also holds a huge connection to our women as this is their land overall. The government do not listen when we say we don’t want it.

The earthquakes and flooding stories told to me in our language goes back into time itself.

This is not the place for a radioactive waste dump. If the Lord doesn’t come down in the next few years, this is going to be a threat to all of us and our future generations to come.

I am also very concerned for people over at Kimba who are going thru the same grief that’s happening to us and my family over here.

The money the government are throwing at us, trying to get us to forfeit our land is insulting and disrespectful to us all.

They have divided my family and our communities, and now we hear that without the much more dangerous intermediate radioactive waste being dumped here as well, that there is hardly any value to the community for putting it here.

Why didn’t they tell the communities all this in the first place. We didn’t want it four years ago and we certainly don’t want it now.

This whole process needs to be scrapped and the government needs to look at a new way to get people to ever trust them again.

 

November 11, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, personal stories | Leave a comment

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.

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