Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

PM Robert Menzies ‘ approval of Maraling nuclear bombing, without consulting Parlaiment

Fallout from British atomic tests at Maralinga continues, Liz Tynan – The West Australian on September 27, 2016  “……… the most damaging chapter in the history of British nuclear weapons testing in Australia. The British had carried out atomic tests in 1952 and 1956 at the Montebello Islands off WA and in 1953 at Emu Field north of Maralinga.

The British had requested and were granted a huge chunk of South Australia to create a “permanent” atomic weapons test site, after finding the conditions at Montebello and Emu Field too remote and unworkable.

Australia’s then prime minister, Robert Menzies, was all too happy to oblige. Back in September 1950 in a phone call with his British counterpart, Clement Attlee, he had said yes to nuclear testing without even referring the issue to his Cabinet…… Continue reading

September 28, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pine Gap endangers Australia – a likely target for nuclear missiles

Map-Aust-Target1Pine Gap: Secretive spy base’s role in drone strikes putting Australia in danger, expert warns http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-23/pine-gaps-actions-could-endanger-australian-security/7872190?section=environment  The World Today  By Brendan Trembath  An expert on Pine Gap has raised concerns about the spy base’s role in supporting drone attacks on suspected terrorists overseas.

Officially called The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, the site is jointly run by the Australian and United States governments and is one of Australia’s most secret sites. The facility has been in operation since 1970 and is located half-an-hour’s drive south-west of Alice Springs.

Professor Richard Tanter, from the University of Melbourne, says Pine Gap contributes targeting data to American drone operations, including assassinations. “One of Pine Gap’s two key functions is as a control station and a downlink station for signal intelligence satellites 36,000 kilometres up in space,” he said. “They are picking up a very wide array of radio transmissions, including cell phones, satellite phones and so forth. “And that provides the data, both the contents and the geolocation data for targets of interest through the United States military.”

He said Pine Gap was also used for counter-terrorism and wider intelligence programs, as the site was able to contribute data “pretty directly — for example into drone targeting operations.”

Professor Tanter acknowledged that those type of programs were part of the alliance between the US and Australia, and Australia’s interest in the global fight against terrorism

But he said the question was whether it could be considered a good idea on a political level, seeing the potential for creating “further terrorism” if a strike were to go wrong.

“At a legal and moral level do we really want to be involved in operations which are frankly illegal under international law. In countries where we’re not at war, such as Pakistan or Somalia or Yemen, these are simply assassinations.”

“We won’t like it very much when it’s done back to us I suspect.”

Base also a likely target for nuclear missiles Professor Tanter said the site continued to be a “pretty high priority nuclear missile target” in the event of a major conflict between the United States and Russia or China.

“It would be, as they say in the military, a lucrative target of many benefits,” Professor Tanter said . “Secondly it is itself involved in nuclear war planning. I think that’s a totally awful thing for us to contemplate — you can’t use nuclear weapons except in a fairly genocidal way.”The Defence Department said that “the facility makes an important contribution to national security.”

A spokesperson said: “It provides intelligence on priorities such as terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and foreign military capability and weapons developments. “It also supports monitoring of compliance with arms control and disarmament agreements, and provides ballistic missile early warning information.”

September 24, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory, safety, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Is Australina government secretly planning nuclear submarines?

submarine,-nuclear-underwatDick Smith questions submarine project, says plans are ‘ludicrous’ and ‘we’re being conned’ 891 ABC Adelaide, 14 Sept 16

A group of prominent businessmen, including Dick Smith and John Singleton, have taken out a full-page ad in The Australian newspaper, suggesting the public is being conned over the submarine project.

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

September 14, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia trapped in its status as Nuclear Umbrella State

Aust-weaponsThe great nuclear disarmament divide,   “……On the one hand, there are umbrella states that are addicted to their nuclear protection, and on the other, there are umbrella states that clearly feel trapped by it, Livemint, 29 Aug 16 W.P.S. Sidhu,  Austria, which remained neutral and nuclear weapon-free during the Cold War, has become the leading anti-nuclear crusader in the post-Cold War era. Last year, Austria, along with a group of non-nuclear countries—mostly from the southern hemisphere and Africa, which is entirely covered by nuclear weapon-free zones—proposed several United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions including on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. One of the significant Austrian co-sponsored resolutions proposed an open-ended working group (OEWG) to take forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.

Although this resolution was overwhelmingly supported by 138 countries, the five permanent nuclear weapon states of the UN Security Council plus Israel voted against it. While India and Pakistan abstained, North Korea, curiously, supported the resolution. Significantly, 34 states—mostly members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) and those protected by the US nuclear umbrella—also abstained.

Subsequently, while all nine nuclear-armed states (including India) stayed away from the OEWG deliberations in Geneva, the group made substantial progress. By 19 August, the group’s final report had drafted far-reaching recommendations, including a call to initiate negotiations in 2017 on a legal instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons—unlike biological and chemical weapons, nuclear weapons have never been banned. There were indications that this report would be carried by consensus among the states participating in the OEWG. Clearly, a consensus report recommending a treaty to ban nuclear weapons outright would be anathema not only for the nuclear armed states but also the so-called ‘umbrella states’, which depend on the nuclear protection particularly of the US. Thus, the nuclear-armed states sought to influence the OEWG process by proxy.

Enter Australia. In the past, Australia played a leading role in pushing disarmament initiatives, for instance, when it resurrected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996 and co-sponsored an International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament in 2008. However, this is at odds with its dependence on nuclear weapons.

As an umbrella state, it depends on the perceived security of US nuclear weapons. In the OEWG, Australia became a proxy of nuclear weapon states and a disarmament spoiler: it called for a vote on the group’s final report even though it was evident that the majority would support the report’s recommendations.

Australia’s objective was two-fold: first, to break the emerging consensus and, second, to close ranks among all the umbrella states. Australia almost succeeded in its second goal. Although 19 Nato states plus Australia and South Korea voted against the report, several other Nato members plus Japan abstai-ned, indicating that not all umbrella states are willing to sustain nuclear weapons and deterrence in perpetuity.

The OEWG process reflects a great disarmament divide not only among the nuclear haves and have-nots, but also among the umbrella states. On the one hand, there are umbrella states that are addicted to their nuclear protection, even though it is not apparent that such security is omnipotent. On the other hand, there are umbrella states that clearly feel trapped by the protection provided, but are unsure how get out of this situation. This debate will now play out on the floor of the UNGA…..http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/4smGv8MNF3hg63Y1WpRzQL/The-great-nuclear-disarmament-divide.html

August 29, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia makes itself unpopular at Geneva with unintelligent nuclear weapons diplomacy

The real reason for Australia’s opposition to a ban treaty (that a ban will make it more difficult for Australia to continue its reliance on extended nuclear deterrence) was never mentioned. The transparent dishonesty in Australia’s rhetoric only increased scepticism of Australia’s commitment to nuclear disarmament.
thumbs-downAustralia writes itself out of nuclear disarmament diplomacy http://www.text-relevantlowyinterpreter.org/post/2016/08/23/Australia-writes-itself-out-of-nuclear-disarmament-diplomacy.aspx 23 August 2016 

On Friday at the United Nations in Geneva, Australian diplomats called a vote they knew they would lose, split their already modest support base in half, and enraged more than 100 other countries that had been ready to agree to a painstakingly negotiated compromise. For its trouble, Australia gained precisely nothing, and seriously damaged its credibility and influence. If it sounds like a diplomatic train wreck, it was. What on earth was going on?

The drama unfolded on the final day of the UN Open-ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. This group has met intermittently throughout 2016; the principal goal for Australia and around 28 other countries in nuclear alliances (also known as ‘umbrella states’ or, more colourfully, ‘nuclear weasel states’) was to ensure that the group did not recommend the negotiation of a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons (Tim Wright covered the ban treaty proposal and the associated dilemmas for Australia in The Interpreter in June).

Australia’s manoeuvres on Friday were merely the latest in a series of ill-conceived efforts to try to stop the ban treaty, but which have only fuelled support for it. Continue reading

August 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Australia’s weasel words at United Nations Nuclear Disarmament Conference

Australia has steadily retreated from the push for universal nuclear disarmament that Bill Hayden, notably, inserted into policy when he was foreign minister in the Hawke government to provide moral balance to the alliance with the US.

weasel-words1As we’ve noticed before, the new Defence White Paper this year dropped all that. “Australia’s security is underpinned by the ANZUS Treaty, United States extended deterrence and access to advanced United States technology and information,” it stated. “Only the nuclear and conventional military capabilities of the United States can offer effective deterrence against the possibility of nuclear threats against Australia.”

Julie Bishop is all for nuclear weapons, gushing that “the horrendous humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are precisely why deterrence has worked”. In Geneva, her diplomats have been hard at work trying to derail efforts for a United Nations ban on nuclear weapons.

…..much bad will towards Australia. But Bishop can be sure of brownie points in Washington, no doubt.

People’s tribunal finds Australia guilty over nuclear weapons, The Saturday Paper, HAMISH MCDONALD, AUG 27, 2016

Weasel words at UN working group Malcolm Turnbull is getting accused of many things as he text-relevantheads towards the first anniversary of his snafu-prone prime ministership. But aiding and abetting the planning of genocide, ecocide and even omnicide (that is, the destruction of everyone and all living things)?

Well, yes. The University of Sydney was recently the venue for an international people’s tribunal, a kind of volunteer court, in which the leaders of the nine nuclear powers were on trial for planning the above crimes through their explicit threats to use their weapons. Turnbull, as our current leader, was up for facilitating the use of American weapons. The judges were New Zealand’s former disarmament minister Matthew Robson and Sydney politics academic Keith Suter, who duly found the accused guilty, in absentia of course.

They ruled that nuclear weapons violate the accepted principles of international humanitarian law in wartime because they cannot discriminate between military and civilian targets; go far beyond proportional response and military objectives; don’t protect non-combatants; cause unnecessary suffering by spreading poison, disease and genetic damage; cause massive environmental damage; threaten future generations; threaten death on a scale amounting to genocide; and involve massive collateral damage to neutral countries.

The United States, France, Russia, Pakistan and Britain refuse to rule out first use of their nuclear weapons, “but all indicted leaders have military plans and exercises that demonstrate that they are ready to use nuclear weapons if they deem it necessary”, the tribunal found. …….

The gesture comes as nuclear powers are expanding or modernising their arsenals. India and Pakistan are in a nuclear arms race: even use of 100 Hiroshima sized-bombs in that theatre would plunge the Earth into its coldest climate for a thousand years, University of Missouri expert Steven Starr told the tribunal. An exchange between the big powers would, aside from the immediate casualties, create a new Ice Age and result in most surviving humans and large animals dying of starvation……

Nuclear ‘weasels’ Continue reading

August 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s betrayal of the global nuclear disarmament movement -theme for August 16

This week, sadly, I, and many others have to report that Australia’s history of doublespeak on nuclear disarmament  has now gone even further down the path of promoting nuclear weapons.

The Australian government did this by sabotaging the final day of the UN Open-ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.  It did this by attempted to derail a ban on nuclear weapons at a UN meeting on disarmament, by single-handedly forcing a vote on a report that had been expected to pass unanimously.

thumbs-down Australia’s contribution.  More detail on this can be found in several recent articles quoted on this website
world-nuclear-weapons-free

August 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina themes, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Time that Australia ended its reliance on Extended Nuclear Deterrence (END)

The revival of concern about the humanitarian impacts of these weapons is shifting old assumptions.

Australia’s reliance on END keeps us on the wrong side of history. And it has led previous governments and the current government to actively oppose the growing calls for a ban on nuclear weapons.

Instead of blindly following US nuclear policies into whatever a future president might envisage, Australia should carefully consider its non-nuclear defence and challenge all claims, surrogate or otherwise, to nuclear weapons.

highly-recommendedAustralia’s stance on nuclear deterrence http://www.swinburne.edu.au/news/latest-news/2016/08/australias-stance-on-nuclear-deterrence-.php 26 August 2016

IN SUMMARY Analysis for The Conversation by Swinburne PhD candidate text-relevantDimity Hawkins and Swinburne senior lecturer Julie Kimber.CONTACT Lea Kivivali  +61 3 9214 5428      lkivivali@swin.edu.au  

For Australia, the US election should provide an opportunity to rethink defence relationships, especially as they relate to nuclear weapons.

There has been much hand-wringing at the thought of Donald Trump becoming US president. If, by some miracle, Trump succeeds in November, he will have his hand on the nuclear trigger.

But this concern, while great political fodder, is dangerously simplistic. It presupposes there are “safe hands” when it comes to nuclear weapons. There are not.

The US has around 7,000 nuclear weapons. Hundreds of these can be launched within minutes. While the global community has outlawed other indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons are yet to be banned.

The Cold War’s MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) doctrine has morphed over the years into a framework of nuclear deterrence. Many governments globally have played a double game: supporting nuclear disarmament on the one hand, while relying on a nuclear defence on the other.

One such government is Australia’s. Despite consecutive governments insisting they support nuclear disarmament, Australia’s reliance on Extended Nuclear Deterrence (END) means it is frustrating attempts at a total ban.

August 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia sabotages international nuclear disarmament effort

Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), said it was thought that Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, instructed her diplomats to disrupt the international gathering late on Friday afternoon by forcing a vote. While others then joined Australia to vote against the report, Australia was alone in forcing the vote to happen.

exclamation-Australia attempts to derail UN plan to ban nuclear weapons Diplomats force a vote text-relevanton a report to begin negotiations on a ban in 2017 that had been expected to pass unanimously, Guardian, , 21 Aug 16, Australia has attempted to derail a ban on nuclear weapons at a UN meeting on disarmament, by single-handedly forcing a vote on a report that had been expected to pass unanimously.

The report, which recommended negotiations begin in 2017 to ban nuclear weapons, was eventually passed by 68 votes to 22. An Austrian-led push for the treaty had reached a milestone on Friday, when the report was presented to representatives of 103 nations in Geneva.

Moves towards a ban have been pursued because many saw little progress under the existing non-proliferation treaty, which obliges the five declared nuclear states to “pursue negotiations in good faith” towards “cessation of the nuclear arms race … and nuclear disarmament”.

The proposal recommended a conference be held next year to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

The text was carefully negotiated, and compromise was attempted on contentious paragraphs.

Anti-nuclear campaigners involved in the process expected the report would pass without objection. But Australia surprised observers by objecting and forcing a vote.

The vote was accepted by an overwhelming majority, with 68 voting in favour, 22 against and 13 abstaining.

The next step will be for the proposal for negotiations to begin in 2017 will be tabled at the United Nations general assembly, after which it is likely formal negotiations will begin.

In an opening statement the Australian diplomat Ian McConville told the meeting: “A simple Ban Treaty would not facilitate the reduction in one nuclear weapon. It might even harden the resolve of those possessing nuclear weapons not to reduce their arsenals.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on its website that it opposed a ban on nuclear weapons because although it “might seem to be a straightforward and emotionally appealing way to de-legitimise and eradicate nuclear weapons,” it would actually “divert attention from the sustained, practical steps needed for effective disarmament”.

But in 2015, documents obtained under Freedom of Information revealed Australia opposed the ban on nuclear weapons, since it believed it relied on US nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

“As long as the threat of nuclear attack or coercion exists, and countries like the DPRK [North Korea] seek these weapons and threaten others, Australia and many other countries will continue to rely on US extended nuclear deterrence,” said one of the briefing notes for government ministers.

The documents revealed however that Australia and the US were worried about the momentum gathering behind the Austrian-led push for a ban nuclear weapons, which diplomats said was “fast becoming a galvanising focus for those pushing the ban treaty option”.

Japan’s ambassador to the UN conference on disarmament expressed disappointment that a vote was required.

“We are deeply concerned that the adoption by voting will further divide the international disarmament community and undermine the momentum of nuclear disarmament for the international community as a whole,” he said.

Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), said it was thought that Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, instructed her diplomats to disrupt the international gathering late on Friday afternoon by forcing a vote. While others then joined Australia to vote against the report, Australia was alone in forcing the vote to happen.

“Australia is resisting the tide of history. A majority of nations believe that nuclear weapons are unacceptable and must be prohibited. And now they are ready to negotiate a ban,” Wright said.

“Australia’s attempt to derail these important disarmament talks was shameful and outrageous. It provoked strong criticism from some of our nearest neighbours in Asia and the Pacific, who believe that the world should be rid of all weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

The acceptance of the report was seen as a major milestone by anti-nuclear campaigners.

“This is a significant moment in the seven­-decade­-long global struggle to rid the world of the worst weapons of mass destruction,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director Ican. “The UN working group achieved a breakthrough today.”

“There can be no doubt that a majority of UN members intend to pursue negotiations next year on a treaty banning nuclear weapons,” said Fihn.

“We expect that, based on the recommendations of the working group, the UN general assembly will adopt a resolution this autumn to establish the mandate for negotiations on a ban on nuclear weapons in 2017.”

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said: “Australia called for a vote on the report as it was the most effective way to register our opposition to a recommendation to start negotiations on a ban treaty. A consensus report was not possible in the circumstances…..https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/21/australia-attempts-to-derail-un-plan-to-ban-nuclear-weapons

August 21, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Secretive Pine Gap remains an integral part of USA’s nuclear ‘star wars’ plans

text-relevantStrategic 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.

Map-Pine-Gap

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

August 19, 2016 Posted by | ACT, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, secrets and lies, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Nuclear weapons and war – the Australian involvement – theme for August 2016

In 2016 Australia faces a further step into involvement in nuclear weapons and the American military encirclement of the globe.  We’ve long had those connections, with Pine Gap and the US military buildup in Darwin.

The South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission ushers in a whole new phase.

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s (NFCRC’s) Terms of References specifically excluded exploration of the military uses of nuclear materials. It is customary to appoint a legal expert, usually a retired judge. Why then did the government  appoint two senior military officials to positions of Commissioner and Chief of Staff?

Is there a military connection to South Australia’s nuclear waste plan, that we haven’t been told about?

Royal Commission weapons

The plan to buy French submarines, that could later be converted to nuclear submarines has been linked with the NFCRC project, as Dan Monceaux has detailed in his submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry.

Another big worry is the apparent inability of Australia’s politicians, especially the ruling Liberal Coalition, to understand the contradictory position that they put us in. Enthusiastic support of USA’s militarism towards China, is a dangerous attitude for Australia to take, and most unwise, with China being our top trading partner.

July 29, 2016 Posted by | Christina themes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Botched clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear test site

Map-MaralingaRadioactive waste and the nuclear war on Australia’s Aboriginal people, Ecologist Jim Green 1st July 2016  “……..The 1998-2004 debate over nuclear waste dumping in South Australia overlapped with a controversy over a botched clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear weapons test site in the same state.

The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga. The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety during the weapons tests was characterised by “ignorance, incompetence and cynicism”.

The Australian government’s clean-up of Maralinga in the late 1990s was just as bad. It was done on the cheap and many tonnes of plutonium-contaminated waste remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology.

Nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the clean-up: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.”

Dr Geoff Williams, an officer with the Commonwealth nuclear regulator, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, said in a leaked email that the clean-up was beset by a “host of indiscretions, short-cuts and cover-ups”.

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

Prof. Johnston (and others) noted in a conference paper that Traditional Owners were excluded from any meaningful input into decision-making concerning the clean-up. Traditional Owners were represented on a consultative committee but key decisions – such as abandoning vitrification of plutonium-contaminated waste in favour of shallow burial in unlined trenches – were taken without consultation with the consultative committee or any separate discussions with Traditional Owners.

Federal government minister Senator Nick Minchin said in a May 2000 media release that the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners “have agreed that deep burial of plutonium is a safe way of handling this waste.” But the burial of plutonium-contaminated waste was not deep and the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners did not agree to waste burial in unlined trenches – in fact they wrote to the Minister explicitly dissociating themselves from the decision.

Barely a decade after the Maralinga clean-up, a survey revealed that 19 of the 85 contaminated waste pits have been subject to erosion or subsidence.

Despite the residual radioactive contamination, the Australian government off-loaded responsibility for the contaminated land onto the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners. The government portrayed this land transfer as an act of reconciliation. But it wasn’t an act of reconciliation – it was deeply cynical. The real agenda was spelt out in a 1996 government document which said that the clean-up was “aimed at reducing Commonwealth liability arising from residual contamination.”……http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987853/radioactive_waste_and_the_nuclear_war_on_australias_aboriginal_people.html

July 4, 2016 Posted by | reference, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

First a propaganda push for nuclear waste importing, then one for nuclear submarines

Federal election 2016: nuclear-powered subs needs discussion, PETER JENNINGS, THE AUSTRALIAN, JUNE 7 “……..Readers will ­appreciate the irony of Australia selecting the French-designed Shortfin Barracuda — a nuclear submarine that will be adapted to conventional propulsion……….

[2016 white paper] –

“During the long life of the new submarines, the rapid rate of technological change and ongoing evolution of Australia’s strategic circumstances will continue. As part of the rolling acquisition program, a review based on strategic circumstances at the time, and ­developments in submarine technology, will be conducted in the late 2020s to consider whether the configuration of the submarines remains suitable or whether consideration of other specifications should commence.”

This could be hinting that ­nuclear propulsion may be considered a decade or more from now. However, no Australian government in the 2030s or later will be in a position to adopt nuclear propulsion unless earlier decisions have been taken to prepare the ground for such a major development…….

After the 2016 election, the government should start to scope out what steps might sensibly be taken to create a realistic option for ­nuclear propulsion at the end of the 2020s. A key part of this strategy should be to have an open discussion with the Australian people explaining the basis for the submarine design decision. Government should consider the following steps:

1. Commission an expert panel to evaluate the necessary steps to position for a nuclear propulsion ­option. The panel should produce a public discussion paper setting out the challenges, risks, opportunities, financial cost and industry requirements necessary to support this technology. Continue reading

June 8, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Montebello nuclear test veterans return to site – no compensation over 60 years later

Montebello atomic test 1952Atomic test veterans back at Montebello Islands as compo bid drags on  Malcolm Quekett – The West Australian on May 4, 2016 “……After returning to HMAS Fremantle, the sailors were tested with the Geiger counter and told they had to decontaminate themselves using a hard brush and soap under the shower.

They stayed under the water for hours and scrubbed. But they were then told they were wasting their time. They were showering under sea water which was itself contaminated.

Mr Whitby said he collapsed soon afterwards and was taken to a naval hospital in Darwin where he stayed for a week, lost one-third of his body weight and developed extreme anxiety and a chronic cough.He was transferred to hospital in Perth for another two weeks. “No one had any knowledge of radiation illness,” he said.

Mr Whitby was eventually discharged from the Navy in 1961, but the problems have followed him to this day. He said he developed skin cancers that had to be removed, and he still had the anxiety and the cough.

His best man, who had gone ashore with him, died at the age of 38 from cancer, and another mate died before turning 40. Wives of men on the ship suffered miscarriages.

After years of struggling to have his case acknowledged by officialdom, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal found in 2012 that he should be paid compensation and have his legal bills met.

Mr Whitby, 76, of East Fremantle, said he was still waiting. A Department of Veterans’ Affairs spokesman said the DVA was “investigating the claims and will be in a position to respond when that investigation is complete”.

Mr Whitby has allies among the other members of the Australian Ex-Services Atomic Survivors Association. Between 1952 and 1957, Britain conducted 12 atomic tests at the Montebellos as well as Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia.

“Minor trials” were also conducted at Emu Field and Maralinga between 1953 and 1963. Next month, members of the association and family members will journey to the Montebellos to place a plaque to mark the 60th anniversary of the last test.Among them are Jim Marlow, 80, of Canning Vale, Rex Kaye, 76, of Melville, and Denis Flowers, 80, of Ferndale, who will all pay their own costs to be part of the expedition.

Mr Marlow was aboard HMAS Karangi near the Montebellos when one of the tests took place. He said the crew assembled on deck and were told to turn their backs just before the explosion, and then turned back again to see the massive cloud build up.

Mr Kaye was a general hand in the Royal Australian Air Force and worked with planes used in the SA tests. He said he was still fighting leukaemia and side effects……..https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/31511899/atomic-test-veterans-back-at-montebello-as-compo-bid-drags-on/

May 4, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The submarine boondoggle- over $2000 per each Australian

4. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE  So we spend $2,000 each. That just gets us the big lumps of steel. If you actually want to use them, you’re paying more. It could be another $2,000 to $4,000 per Australian….

OPTIONS   The great thing about the way the acquisition will work is there should be the opportunity to cut back from 12 when the inevitable delays and cost blowouts happen. From here we can’t save the whole $2000 but maybe we can save some, for better uses.

text-my-money-2Sub standard: why the $2,000 we are each spending on submarines will probably be a terrible waste http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/design/sub-standard-why-the-2000-we-are-each-spending-on-submarines-will-probably-be-a-terrible-waste/news-story/6922de6f6a72657c669fdc1a1248916f APRIL 30, 2016, Jason Murphy news.com.au@jasemurphy  AUSTRALIA is spending $50 billion to buy submarines. The biggest whack of money we’ve ever spent on a Defence project. It comes out at $2000 per person. And it’s probably a shocking idea. Continue reading

May 2, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment