Chapter 16: A toxic legacy : British nuclear weapons testing in Australia Published in: Wayward governance : illegality and its control in the public sector / P N Grabosky Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 1989 ISBN 0 642 14605 5(Australian studies in law, crime and justice series); pp. 235-253
“……….Another factor which underlay Australian deference during the course of the testing program was the role of Sir Ernest Titterton. A British physicist, Titterton had worked in the United States on the Manhattan Project, which developed the first nuclear weapon.
After the war, he held a position at the British Atomic Energy Research Establishment, and in 1950 he was appointed to the Chair of Nuclear Physics at the Australian National University. Among Titterton’s earliest tasks in Australia was that of an adviser to the British scientific team at the first Monte Bello tests. In 1956, the Australian government established an Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee (AWTSC) responsible for monitoring the British testing program to ensure that the safety of the Australian environment and population were not jeopardised. To this end, it was to review British test proposals, provide expert advice to the Australian government, and to monitor the outcome of tests. Titterton was a foundation member of the Committee and later, its Chairman.
While Menzies had envisaged that the Committee would act as an independent, objective body, evidence suggests that it was more sensitive to the needs of the British testing program than to its Australian constituents.
Members tended to be drawn from the nuclear weapons fraternity, as was Titterton; from the Defence establishment, from the Commonwealth Department of Supply, from the Commonwealth X-Ray and Radium Laboratory, and from the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Although the expertise of these individuals is beyond dispute, one wonders if they may have been too closely identified with the ‘atomic establishment’ to provide independent critical advice. The nuclear weapons fraternity have often been criticised as a rather cavalier lot; no less a person than General Leslie Groves, who headed the Manhattan Project which developed the first atomic bomb, has been quoted as having said ‘Radiation death is a very pleasant way to die’ (Ball 1986, p. 8). In retrospect, the Australian safety committee suffered from the absence of biologists and environmental scientists in its ranks……..
In 1960, the British advised the AWTSC that ‘long lived fissile elements’ and ‘a toxic material’ would be used in the ‘Vixen B’ tests. Titterton requested that the materials be named, and later announced ‘They have answered everything we asked.’ The substances in question were not disclosed (Australia 1985, p. 414). In recommending that the Australian government agree to the tests, he appears to have been either insufficiently informed of the hazards at hand, or to have failed to communicate those hazards to the Safety Committee, and through it, to the Australian government. Earlier, before the Totem tests, he had reassured the Australian Prime Minister that
the time of firing will be chosen so that any risk to health due to radioactive contamination in our cities, or in fact to any human beings, is impossible. . . . [N]o habitations or living beings will suffer injury to health from the effects of the atomic explosions proposed for the trials (quoted in Australia 1985, p. 467).
There were other examples of Titterton’s role in filtering information to the Australian authorities, a role which has been described as ‘pivotal’ (Australia 1985, p. 513). He proposed that he be advised informally of certain details of proposed experiments. In one instance, he advised the British that ‘It would perhaps be wise to make it quite clear that the fission yield in all cases is zero’, knowing that this would be a misrepresentation of fact (Australia 1985, p. 519). Years later, the Royal Commission suggested that Titterton may have been more a de facto member of the British Atomic Weapons Research Establishment than a custodian of the Australian public interest.
The Royal Commission’s indictment of Titterton would be damning:
Titterton played a political as well as a safety role in the testing program, especially in the minor trials. He was prepared to conceal information from the Australian Government and his fellow Committee members if he believed to do so would suit the interests of the United Kingdom Government and the testing program (Australia 1985, p. 526)……… http://aic.gov.au/publications/previous%20series/lcj/1-20/wayward/ch16.html
The report highlighted how the original research advisory committee of the CSIRO-led body – known as the Gas Industry Social & Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) – had been dominated by industry representatives and the CSIRO.
While this committee have since been split into NSW and Queenslandones, industry continues to have a significant presence that raised doubts about how arm’s length the research work could be, said Matt Grudnoff, a researcher with the TAI.
“It’s not just the industry is sponsoring this research,” Mr Grudnoff said. “Industry also sits at the table that decides the questions, and decides what projects get funded.” “It’s a no-brainer that they should get gas executives off these research committees” if the industry wanted to be accepted by communities worried about interference and possible contamination of aquifers from CSG wells, he said.
The industry also wants to convince the public that gas is cleaner than coal as part of efforts to gain “social licence”, Mr Grudnoff said. CSIRO executives will face a fresh grilling at Senate estimates on Thursday.
Emails released earlier this year revealed the nation’s premier research agency was looking to shift its emphasis away from “science for science sake”.
“Public good is not enough, needs to be linked to jobs and growth, but science that leads to SLO [social licence to operate] is OK,” Andreas Schiller, an executive in the Oceans and Atmosphere division, said in one email.
According to CSIRO, GISERA funding totalled $13.05 million for the 2014-15 to 2016-17 years. Industry chipped in about half, or $6.65 million, with governments and CSIRO providing the rest…….http://www.theage.com.au/environment/nobrainer-calls-for-csiro-to-make-its-csg-gas-research-more-independent-20161019-gs5vvg.html
Unlawful reallocation of clean energy investment by the Coalition, Independent Australia, 8 October 2016, John Ward discusses the Turnbull Government’s misuse of Clean Energy Finance Corporation funds.
THERE IS NOW clear evidence of misleading and deceptive conduct by members of the Coalition Government.
This crookedness needs to be exposed.
The sectional interests of our government ministers’ corporate donors are taking precedence over the national interest and the sustainability of financing for the renewable energy industry.
In 2015, then treasurer Joe Hockey and finance minister Mathias Cormann directed theClean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to exclude investments in household and small-scale solar from the $10 billion fund in the future. The draft investment mandate called for ‘mature and established clean energy technologies … including wind technology and household small-scale solar’ to be excluded from the Corporation’s activities.
Interestingly, the authority to make such changes can only come from the Parliament, not the executive. The Executive Council cannot change an act of parliament. The Parliament also authorises the government to spend public money — not the other way around.
Any change, such as the revocation of a part and/or a new investment mandate to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012, may only be modified by amendments made, requested or agreed to by the senate. Stephen Keim SC has provided advice to environmental groups about the government’s ability to direct the CEFC. He said the government had the power to put in place an investment mandate but it had to “tread a fairly thin line”.
During 1998, American Petroleum Institute (API), the USA’s largest oil trade association (member companies include BP, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Exxon-Mobil and Shell) planned a “roadmap” for a climate of deception, including a plan to have “average citizens” believe that the realities of climate science were vague and uncertain.
Australians have been subject to fraudulent and misleading representations regarding climate change over the past ten years by the people we elected.
The direct effect of the CEFC responsible ministers acting as de facto or shadow directors of the CEFC has been to create the perception that Australian policy support for clean energy is uncertain or diminished.
These are the same negative outcomes envisaged by the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) 1998 campaign.
A third entity involved in this deception is lobby group the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). The IPA was founded by a conglomerate of like-minded groups at the same time as the Liberal Party formed in 1943-44, after the break-up of the United Australia Party. The policy agenda of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has been linked directly to Coalition policy ever since…….
Prime Minister Turnbull, Deputy Prime Minister Joyce, Former Prime Minister Abbott, Ministers Pyne, Hockey, Cormann and Hunt are attempting to falsely convince the public that the Cabinet can re-purpose and re-direct legislation without going back through the Parliament. These changes to the CEFC Act 2012 are still to be legislated. ……..
Let’s consider the limits the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 imposes on the responsible ministers’ mandate.
Section 65 states:
The responsible Ministers must not give a direction under subsection 64(1):
(a) that has the purpose, or has or is likely to have the effect, of directly or indirectly requiring the Board to, or not to, make a particular investment; or
(b) that is inconsistent with this Act (including the object of this Act).
The object of Act is to facilitate increased flows of finance into the clean energy sector.
Joe Hockey and Mathias Cormann attempted to skirt around the law. If this gross ideological interference had not happened, the growth and jobs in the clean energy industry might have delivered some real balance to the downturns in other parts of the economy.
The Coalition Government is in contempt of Parliament. Its ministers have betrayed our trust. The Caolition and the IPA are still using the same script and still following the API’s line of climate deception.
There are strong connections between the API and the IPA’s disinformation and the Coalition’s campaign aims.
The links are there. The wrongs have been done. Let’s promote public debate on this matter. https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/unlawful-reallocation-of-clean-energy-investment-by-the-coalition,9567#.V_loHsmJvtk.twitter
9 Oct 16 Tim Bickmore Some of the Jury Members requested that the form of the question be changed to adjust the term ‘circumstances’ into better context ie the question should be along the lines of …. whether or not to pursue the HLW dump, & if so, under what circumstances…..
They were informed that there would be no change to the question. This calls into question any claims that the Jury is in Charge of the process.
The set question is “Under what circumstances, if any, could South Australia pursue the opportunity to store and dispose of nuclear waste from other countries?”
Finland’s false hope for Australia’s nuclear future Independent Australia, 26 September 2016 Premier Weatherill is using Finland’s nuclear waste dump model as a benchmark for Australia but they are not comparable, says Noel Wauchope.
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN PREMIERJay Weatherill has gone to Finland to study their nuclear waste storage project.
With the premier are three stalwarts of the mining and nuclear lobbies: marketing man Bill Muirhead, chief executive of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Consultation and Response Agency (CARA) Advisory Board Madeleine Richardson and chair of CARA John Mansfield.
Unsurprisingly, they all seemed to have no anxieties about nuclear waste disposal.
There, spent nuclear fuel is placed in eight metre long iron canisters, encased in copper tubes … Inside the underground tunnels, the canisters are placed in deep holes.
Reading this, you would think that is actually happening in Finland. But no — that’s just the plan. The facility, in fact, has no nuclear wastes yet disposed of there. In fact, no wastes will be placed there until 2020, at the earliest.
Weatherill’s comments imply that the Finland project and the South Australian plan are pretty much the same kind of thing. Well, apart from some rather obvious differences in climate, which might matter, the whole plan is different.
Just for high level nuclear waste alone, it will require a waste dump 14 to 28 times the size of Onkalo (69,000 high level nuclear waste canisters). And for decades, half of the high level nuclear waste will be stored above ground in a temporary facility.
A perhaps even bigger deception is in Weatherill’s main theme, praising Finland for its transparency and community consent, since that is a subject of considerable dispute. ……
Sweden has the Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review. It is a coalition comprising five NGOs working with nuclear and radiation safety issues, advising the Government and informing the public. The coalition is financed by the Government’s Swedish Nuclear Waste Fund.
Finland has no such agency. That might account for the relative ease with which the Finnish nuclear industry gained public acceptance for the plan with no substantial criticism from the public. In Sweden, the nuclear waste burial project has not gone ahead, as there is much debate and opposition from some scientists and from a well-informed public.
Representatives from municipalities near the Finland repository construction site, Johanna Huhtala and Raija Lehtorinne, explained:
‘ … the locals trust the nuclear industry completely.’
I guess that the Finnish model for community consent is more to Weatherill’s liking than the Swedish one. I can’t see him setting up a South Australian NGO office for nuclear waste review. https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/finlands-false-hope-for-australias-nuclear-future,9518
23 Sept 16 In today’s Advertiser, Jay Weatherill writes about the Finland nuclear waste project.( Jay Weatherill: South Australia can learn valuable lessons from nuclear waste facility at Eurajoki, Finland)
Weatherill’s article completely ignores the negative side of the project – over time, over budget, possibly too small even for Finland’s requirements. Meanwhile he spouts deceptive nonsense about it being so similar to the South Australian plan. He implies that it is already functioning, which is not true. He praises the supposed “transparency” and “community consultation”, which is also incorrect. (See When haste makes risky waste: Public involvement in radioactive and nuclear waste management in Sweden and Finland http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/radioactive-waste-and-spent-nuclear-fuel/2016-08-21710)
This March, documents obtained exclusively by news.com.au revealed that hundreds of children and grandchildren of veterans exposed to radiation were born with shocking illnesses including tumours, Down syndrome, cleft palates, cerebral palsy, autism, missing bones and heart disease.
Other veterans posted to the Maralinga nuclear test site blamed the British Nuclear Test for an unusually high number of stillbirths and miscarriages among the group.
“The rest of the Aboriginal people in this country need to know the story as well,” “This one’s been kept very quiet.”
Nuclear will be on show at the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide, South Australia from 17 September to 12 November.
The secret destruction of Australia’s Hiroshima, http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/the-secret-destruction-of-australias-hiroshima/news-story/9eabf722dbe2f87e03a297c2a348a8e1 news.com.au, SEPTEMBER 17, 2016 WHEN nuclear explosions tore through Australia’s vast, arid centre, some people living there didn’t even know it was coming.
It devastated the country for miles around, annihilating every bird, tree and animal in its path.
Even today, the effects of our very own Hiroshima are still felt by the families it ripped apart, and those suffering horrific health problems as a result.
The British military detonated seven nuclear bombs in remote Maralinga, around 800km north-west of Adelaide, plus two at Emu Fields and three off the coast near Karratha, Western Australia.
They also staged hundreds of minor trials investigating the impact of non-nuclear explosions on atomic weapons, involving tanks, gun, mannequins in uniforms and even tethered goats. In many ways, these smaller tests were equally dangerous, spraying plutonium in all directions.
Yet most Australians know very little about the blasts that shattered communities, and the dramatic story now buried under layers of dust. Continue reading
Dick Smith questions submarine project, says plans are ‘ludicrous’ and ‘we’re being conned’ 891 ABC Adelaide, 14 Sept 16
French company DCNS won the $50 billion contract to build Australia’s next fleet of 12 submarines in Adelaide, which will replace the current Collins Class fleet. The company won the contract to build a modified version of its nuclear submarine, called the Shortfin Barracuda.
The Australian Government stipulated that the winning contract would need to use conventional power, ruling out larger, nuclear-powered submarines. The lead up to the submarine contract has involved election promises, business and political campaigns and lots of speculation.
Mr Smith said the re-designed version of the submarine would have to be converted to a diesel engine.
But he told 891 ABC Adelaide that was a ludicrous plan and he believed it would never happen.
“So the plan is for us to buy a nuclear submarine design and then convert it to a piston submarine,” he said. “Now no-one has ever done that in the world and in fact when I talk to submarine experts they say it is so ridiculous, so we’re being conned.”
Mr Smith said if the Government’s real agenda was to use nuclear technology, it should be up front about it……….
More details on subs project needed: Xenophon South Australia Senator Nick Xenophon said more detail about the submarines project was needed…..Senator Xenophon said he was concerned about the lack of certainty surrounding the project. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-13/dick-smith-questions-submarines-project-over-nuclear-power/7837946
IT crept up with such stealth that few people noticed it was even happening, but South Australia can now make fair claim to being the most secretive state in the country.
The Advertiser revealed two stories this week that should deeply concern lovers of open debate and informed democracy, and leave them demanding big changes.
After a period of welcome sunlight as court suppression orders sank to relative lows, they’ve spiked in the past two years and are running at their highest rate in a decade.
On top of that, a Monash University study admonished our Freedom of Information laws as the worst in the country and found the system was “designed to block, delay and obfuscate”.
But this viscous culture of secrecy isn’t isolated to those two important areas.
It seeped so far into the foundations of our Independent Commission Against Corruption that even the man running it has complained to lawmakers that the public is shielded from important information………
SA also trails other states in the protections offered to whistleblowers and any journalists they contact in an honest bid to get important stories of public interest into the light of day. This has a chilling affect on political debate, and makes it more likely that bad practices will survive.There are a few decent theories that help explain why SA stands out so darkly in the crowd………
When the ICAC legislation was drawn up the balance fell on the side of minimising the risk that people of standing would have their reputations unfairly smeared, rather than a bias towards ensuring the public had maximum access to information about what they were up to………. http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/daniel-wills/news-story/10735e85a9e26eeea142501aa6985f25
Steve Dale, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, 6 Sept 16 When exactly did Australia start calling what should be “High Level Waste” – “Intermediate Level Waste”? The following extract shows they had the correct definitions in 1985 : “The two categories of high level waste are unreprocessed spent fuel and the fission product/actinide residue generated from spent fuel reprocessing. Spent fuel is routinely stored in water-cooled ponds and HLW solution is stored for limited periods in water cooled tanks. HLW solution is being vitrified and stored in air-cooled vaults in France and India…. No country has yet disposed of either spent fuel or vitrified HLW.” from STORAGE AND DISPOSAL OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES by K.D. Reeve, Australian Atomic Energy Commission, 1985http://www.iaea.org/…/NCLCollec…/_Public/17/000/17000568.pdf
Steve Dale Date Found. Australia has based its definition of High Level Waste on an obsolete and superseded version of the IAEA “Classification of Radioactive Waste” 1994, (Safety Series 111-G-1.1). The latest version of the document defines HLW as “HLW typically has levels of activity concentration in the range of 104-106 TBq/m3”. The definition now is based purely on radioactivity and not thermal output. Time for Australia to get honest and start calling Spent Fuel and vitrified reprocessed waste what it is – High Level Waste. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/
Australia must not fall for the nuclear industry’s lie about climate change – theme for September 16
The global nuclear lobby’s current favourite lie is the one about climate change
Australia will be greatly impacted by climate change, yet Australia is an international pariah when it comes to acting to stop climate change.
Compounding this problem is the global nuclear lobby’s push to make Australia the key player in a new ‘nuclear renaissance’. The plan is to encourage South Asian nations to set up nuclear power, with South Australia as their toilet for nuclear wastes.
The last thing that we need is to direct money and energy to the nuclear industry, and away from renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Plimer rebuttals disappear https://www.crikey.com.au/2016/08/19/plimer-rebuttals-disappear/ We predicted the government would delete this document, and guess what, they did.
Back in 2014, Crikey published a piece by Clive Hamilton on the 12 people doing the most to block action on climate change in Australia, including Ian Plimer. Hamilton included this paragraph on Plimer’s book How to Get Expelled From School: “Plimer’s 2011 book — How to Get Expelled From School (launched by John Howard and mailed by the IPA to hundreds of schools) — listed 101 questions for sceptical students to ask their “warmist” teachers, i.e. those who respect science. The federal Department of Climate Change (abolished by Abbott) prepared a responsethat thoroughly debunked his claims in words a child can understand. How long before Environment Minister Greg Hunt is instructed to have this demolition of Plimer taken down?”
A Sydney blogger checked back with the department’s website at regular intervals over 2014, and stopped by this week to see if the PDF was still up — but now it’s nowhere to be found. We knew it would happen eventually.
Strategic US Military Intel Base in Pine Gap, Australia, By Richard Neville Global Research, April 30, 2008 PINE GAP MIND GAP: A TERROR CELL THAT NEVER SLEEPS. “…..This is Pine Gap, a US military base built on the traditional land of the indigenous Arrernte people, which started life in 1966. Australians were told the facility was to be a weather station. Later the official cover was a “Space Research Centre”. Our citizens remained in the dark until 1975, when Prime Minister Whitlam revealed that Pine Gap’s boss, Richard Stallings, was an agent of the CIA.
Up till then, according to former Minister Clyde Cameron, politicians had regarded the base as “a pretty harmless sort of operation”. Whitlam demanded a list of all CIA agents in the country. This infuriated US spy masters, who put pressure on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to shut him up. CIA fears over the leaking of Pine Gaps’ secret activities helped to trigger the murky events that toppled the Whitlam government.
Pine Gap’s first generation of satellites was designed to monitor Soviet missile developments and for espionage in South East Asia, especially Vietnam, and later to spy on China. Since then, both its mission and capabilities have expanded dramatically. The base is believed to have provided targeting information for Israel’s 2006 bombing of Lebanon.
Pine Gap is one of largest and most sophisticated satellite ground stations in the world. Its 26 antennas suck information from the sky and distribute it to US commanders in the field, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it is used to co-ordinate air strikes…….
If Australia wishes to regain its reputation as a fair minded nation, the government will need to take a closer look at this secretive installation, an integral part of the US National Missile Defense scheme, or Star Wars.
It aims to put satellite based weapons in space to shoot down any incoming missiles. New radomes (radar + dome) to accommodate the system have already been installed.
The majority of Pine Gap’s 1000 staff are Americans drawn from branches of the US military, including the National Security Agency, Army and Navy Information Operations Command, US Navy and Combined Support Group, Air Intelligence Agency, US Air Force, 704th Military Intelligence Brigade, 743rd Military Intelligence Battalion, Marine Cryptologic Support Command, etc. The base is described as a “joint facility”, although key areas are out of bounds to Australians. While visiting US lawmakers are taken on tours of Pine Gap, Federal MP’s are denied entry. (Members of Congress have collectively invested up to $US196 million in companies with Defense Department contracts, earning millions since the onset of the Iraq invasion. Until May 2007, Hillary Clinton held holdings in Honeywell, Boeing and – yes – Raytheon).
In 2000, the Howard Government rejected calls by Parliament’s Joint Committee on Treaties for a classified briefing on its operations. There is no public debate on the role of Pine Gap, despite its unbending support of all US military actions, regardless of legality or morality. As for the media, they’re asleep at the wheel……..http://www.globalresearch.ca/strategic-us-military-intel-base-in-pine-gap-australia/8858
Indigenous Australians Fight Planned Nuclear Dump On Sacred Lands, Huffington Post, Timothy Large, 18 Aug “……..CONFLICT OF INTEREST?
Opponents say the government’s process for selecting the site was tainted from the start.
Wallerberdina is co-leased by Grant Chapman, a retired Liberal Party lawmaker who in 1995 chaired a Senate committee that called for a central repository for nuclear waste.
Last year, the government asked for volunteers to accept the dump. Wallerberdina was among 28 nominations nationwide. In May, the government chose it from a final shortlist of six.
“Chapman should understand that that’s not his land to make that bid,” said Tauto Sansbury, chair of the Aboriginal Congress of South Australia. “He should have negotiated with the traditional owners.”
In his home office in Adelaide, Chapman denied there was any conflict of interest in offering up his land.
“It just happened that I think that country, being isolated, and the nature of the topography and geology and so on, is a suitable spot. So that’s why we put it up,” he said.
He declined to say how much he could profit from the sale. Media reports have said he could make four times the market value of the land.
Asked about the possible desecration of sacred sites, he said: “I think it’s quite a wild claim to assert that the whole of the property has cultural significance.”
Back at Yappala, traditional owner Regina McKenzie was dangling her feet in Hookina Creek, whose underground aquifer is so ancient that she says its waters “rained on dinosaurs.”
“It’s racism towards our culture. This is our belief system … It’s like me and my sisters going to the Vatican and saying we want to put a waste dump right under the pillar where they say St. Peter is buried.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/indigenous-australians-fight-planned-nuclear-dump-on-sacred-lands_us_57b5f8c9e4b00d9c3a161db9