SEPTEMBER 27, 2006

September 27 marks the 50th anniversary of the first of seven nuclear bomb tests carried out at Maralinga, following nuclear bomb tests at Emu Field and the Monte Bello Islands.

The September 27, 1956 bomb at Maralinga was a 12.9 kiloton plutonium bomb - similar to the Fat Man plutonium bomb which killed tens of thousands of people in Nagasaki in 1945.

Over the next month, a series of events around Australia will both commemorate the Maralinga anniversary and build the movement for a nuclear-free world.

Below ...

1. Maralinga - Never Again events
- Melbourne
- Adelaide
- Perth
- Darwin
- Alice Spings
- Sydney
- Brisbane

2. List of British nuclear tests in Australia

3. Article by Australian Students Environment Network

4. Links for more info about the British bomb tests

5. Time to end BHP's Outrageous Legal Privileges




Wednesday, September 27
* 7am wreath-laying at War Memorial on St Kilda Rd
* 8am protest at BHP - 'radiaoctive racism then and now' - highlighting BHP's refusal to relinquish exemptions from SA Aboriginal Heritage Protection Act.

Maralinga Concert
Sunday October 22, 3pm to 5pm
Storey Hall, RMIT, cnr Swanston & La Trobe Sts
A concert to mark the 50th anniversary of the British Nuclear Tests in South Australia. Featuring musicians (including Kutcha Edwards), speakers, recent photographs and interviews with Maralinga veterans. Come and join us to commemorate the ongoing legacy of the tests, and to celebrate a vision for a nuclear free future. Tickets $10/$5 available at the door. 
Enquiries: <>




The fun kicks off Friday night, September 22, from 7.00pm at the Karen Eliot Social Centre, cnr. Coglin & Hawker Streets, Brompton. There'll be an amazing crop of riotous short films, pictures from the most recent Radioactive Exposure Tour, music, organic popcorn and maybe even vegan choc-tops! A gold coin donation would be super-appreciated.

Then, next Wednesday 27 September, Friends of the Earth Adelaide is holding a black-tie award ceremony for the first ever Blinky Award. The Blinky was created to recognise the outstanding commitment of massive corporations to short term profits at the expense of a healthy society and environment. There's so many massive corporations to choose from... Meet at 9.30am at Beehive Corner to walk to the surprise award venue nearby. Dress in your best tuxedo or ball-gown, and bring anything you think is essential for such a high-calibre award ceremony - Radical Cheerleader chants are especially welcome!

Then on Sunday 1 October, we're holding a community picnic at the  North Terrace War Memorial, joining groups around Australia in a national day of commemoration of the Maralinga tests. It all kicks  off from around noon, with guests including ecofaith maestro Jason  John, Maralinga veteran and long-time rabble-rouser Avon Hudson and  Kokatha representative Rebecca Bear Wingfield.

Hope you can join us for some of these events, please spread the  details far and wide - if you want any more details, email Joel at, or phone 0403 886 951.




Wednesday 27 September 2006.
Meet 11am at Perth Cultural Centre outside Perth Institute for Contemporary Arts (PICA), James Street Northbridge for lunchtime street theatre and actions. Contact Nic on 0422 990040.




On Wednesday 27th September,
to mark the day the first atom  bomb was dropped at Maralinga
we'll be gathering at Raintree Park  from 12pm to 2pm
with banners / a stall / a media conference / some street theatre
Details: Contact Justin 8945 6810 or Emma 8981 1984.


Maralinga - Field of Thunder
Sunday 1st October, 5pm to 10pm
Aviation Institute, Charles Eaton Dve, Marrara

The musical lineup includes an array of indigenous performers, including Shellie Morris, Russel Corowa, Aly Mills  as well as other local acts, including Flesh Petal and Aly Mental.

Guest speakers include Uncle Speedy McGinness, a senior custodian of the Finnis River Land Trust, which encompasses Rum Jungle. Speedy will describe his deep sorrow at the fact that uranium from his country was responsible for the blinding of his friend Yami Lester during the British atomic tests.

We'll have face painting fun for kids, a bar for adults, a bit of food and an energetic MC

see for more details.




September 27th
One Tree
In commemoration of the first atomic test at Maralinga, codenamed "one tree", Alice Action, Arid Lands Environment Centre and Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation will be planting one tree, along with a small plaque, on the Uniting church lawns in the Todd Mall at lunchtime on September 27th.


October 1st
“we are not no-one, this is not nowhere”
Alice Springs Council Lawns

In June 2005, then science minister Brenden Nelson asked “why can’t people in the middle of nowhere have low level and intermediate level (radioactive) waste?”

On October 1st the Alice Community will be coming together to remind the Government that this is not the middle of nowhere. We live here. This is our place.

Bands: Warren H Williams, Shane Howard (Goanna)
Performance: Drum Atweme, Tangentyere Circus
Films: Living Country (CAAMA), We of Little Voice
Speakers: NT Senator Trish Crossin, Fran Kilgariff (Alice Mayor), Elliot McAdam (Minister for Central Australia, member for Barkly region),
Margie Lynch (Arrernte Nations Campaign) and Traditional Owners from the proposed waste dump sites

This event will be drug and alcohol free, BYO picnic.

Presented by the Alice Alliance Against the Waste Dump: Alice Springs Town Council, Central Land Council, Tangentyere Council, Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation, Arid Lands Environment Centre, Warren Snowdon’s office and AliceAction.




27th September - vigil at Sydney Town Hall steps at 5pm.
Contact: Renata <> 0422 854 184




Free Skillshare:  nukes 101
Australia’s nuclear industry – the past, present and future….
explore the issues and how to talk about them
date:  Sept 23 (Sat)
time:  10am-12am – stay on for a light lunch
place:  Friends of the Earth Brisbane 294 Montague Road West End
RSVP:   if possible (07) 3846 5793

Pine Gap 6 Benefit Gig - Coalition of the Unwilling
support the arrestees of the Pine Gap Citizen's Inspection Team - due
to face trial in Alice Springs on Oct 3.   Music by the Burrs, Alec Burns
Folk Band, Warwick Adenay and family - plus more
date:  Sept 22 (Fri)
time: 7:30pm
place:  St. Mary's  Church cnr Merivale and Peel Streets South Brisbane
price:  $8/$5 concession

Maralinga 50 years on: commemoration vigil
Remembering global victims of nuclear weapons, testing and
contamination on the 50th anniversary of major nuclear tests at Maralinga, SA.
date:  Sept 27 (Weds)
time:  4pm- 6pm
place:  ANZAC Square Adelaide Street, Brisbane
this is planned as a silent vigil.  please wear white or black and
bring a candle and a visual message. (information stall will also be held

Beyond nuclear testing – Australia’s nuclear past… towards a nuclear
free future
speakers:  Lew Rice, National President Atomic Ex-Servicemen’s
Association; Keith Jaffray, Shoalwater Wilderness Awareness Group;  Medical
Association for the Prevention of War;   Peace Convergence/Friends of the Earth
date:  Oct 1 (Sun)
time:  2pm – 4pm
place:  Ahimsa House 24 Horan Street West End

Pine Gap 6 – solidarity vigil
expose Pine Gap as Pine Gap Trial commences - stand in support of the
Citizens Inspection Team who entered US spy base Pine Gap last year and
now face court under the “Special Defence Undertakings Act”
date:   Oct 3 (Tues)
time:  1-2pm
place:  in front of “Lady Justice” (outside Supreme Court of Qld) cnr.
George and Edward Sts. Brisbane

Queensland Nuclear Free Alliance (QNFA) meets fortnightly.  Join us!
ph Robin 0411 118 737  <>



Operation Hurricane (Monte Bello Islands, Western Australia)
* 3 October, 1952 - 25 kilotons - plutonium

Operation Totem (Emu Field, South Australia)
* 'Totem 1' - 15 October, 1953 - 9.1 kilotons - plutonium
* 'Totem 2' - 27 October, 1953 - 7.1 kilotons - plutonium

Operation Mosaic (Monte Bello Islands, Western Australia)
'G1' - 16 May, 1956 - Trimouille Island - 15 kilotons
'G2' - 19 June, 1956 - Alpha Island - 60 kilotons

Operation Buffalo (Maralinga, South Australia)
'One Tree' - 27 September, 1956 - 12.9 kilotons - plutonium
'Marcoo' - 4 October 1956 - 1.4 kilotons - plutonium
'Kite' - 11 October, 1956 - 2.9 kilotons - plutonium
'Breakaway' - 22 October, 1956 - 10.8 kilotons - plutonium

Operation Antler (Maralinga, South Australia)
'Tadje' - 14 September, 1957 - 0.9 kilotons - plutonium
'Biak' - 25 September, 1957 - 5.7 kilotons - plutonium
'Taranaki' - 9 October, 1957 - 26.6 kilotons - plutonium


Following info from Australian Students Environment Network <>

The Maralinga Atomic Bomb Tests – 50 years on…

"They put the bomb there. In our country. Maralinga and Emu Junction. In the middle, right through. All the smoke went there. Right through and finished all our people, in the Victorian desert. You look at it on the map, nobody living in the Victorian desert. All our people gone."
--- Myra Tjunmutja Watson

On September 27, 1956, the first British atomic test at Maralinga, in the South Australian desert, codenamed 'One Tree', was conducted, on Tjarutja lands.

It followed similar atomic bomb detonations further north at Emu Field, and on the Monte Bello islands, off the northwest coast of Western Australia. One Tree was detonated despite poor weather conditions, resulting in significant radioactive fallout around Coober Pedy, and measured as far away as Townsville in North Queensland and Lismore in New South Wales. The cumulative fallout from the tests ultimately passed over most of Australia. Seven further nuclear devices were tested at Maralinga in the following months.

Many Indigenous communities living in the surrounding areas were not warned of the immediate nuclear threat. Despite the experience of previous atomic tests at Emu Field, where Indigenous groups around Wallatinna and elsewhere recalled experiencing a "black mist" rolling through their camps after the tests, followed by widespread sickness, the 1986 Royal Commission concluded that at Maralinga "attempts to ensure Aboriginal safety [during the tests] demonstrate ignorance, incompetence and cynicism on the part of those responsible for that safety."

The test range was located in an area that was selected "on the false assumption that the area was not used by its traditional Aboriginal owners," when in actuality Indigenous people continued to move in and around the Prohibited Area – including the Milpuddie family camping in a highly contaminated bomb crater. The boundaries of the test site were not secure, and warning signs were all in English.

Communities across the Western Desert suffered significant radiation exposure. The fallout from the tests was extensive: radioactivity affected most of the Australian continent, leading to death and sickness, and continuing to affect individuals and communties today. Indigenous oral histories tell of a black mist that caused cancer and asthma, red and yellow-coloured smoke rising, bright flashes of light leading to blindness. There are tragic stories of families sleeping in bomb craters, nose and stomach trouble, family dying, and children orphaned.

It is the story of poison spreading far, hurting people and land.

To carry out the tests, thousands of Maralinga, Pitjantjatjara and Kokatha people were forcibly removed and dispossessed from their land by 'Aboriginal Protectors' and forced to relocate to government and mission-controlled enclaves.

British nuclear testing in Australia between 1952 and 1963 at Maralinga, Emu Fields, Christmas Island and Monto Bello was officially unquestioned because of the close military ties between Australia and 'Mother' England. Permission was not sought for the tests from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha. The racist logic of imperialism underscored the tests; officials of the day condemned "placing the affairs of a handful of natives above those of the British Commonwealth of Nations" as "lamentable" and ludicrous. This racism continues today when the voices of Indigenous people and communities directly affected by uranium mines, waste dumps or lingering contamination are ignored and silenced in favour of the voices profiting from the nuclear industry. Maralinga is testimony to the radioactive racism inherent in the nuclear industry.

50 years later, the legacy of Maralinga remains. In 2001 the British Ministry of Defence acknowledged that military personnel from Britain, Australia and New Zealand were used as "guinea pigs". They were inadequately trained, not made fully aware of the dangers of the tests and sometimes intentionally exposed to radiation in order to observe its effects on humans. Many of the veterans carry a high incidence of cancer and genetic damage, passed on to their children and grandchildren. The veterans of these tests, along with the Indigenous groups of the area, still have not been adequately compensated or acknowledged.

Effects on country and failed clean up of Maralinga

The nuclear weapons detonated contain radioactive substances poisonous for up to 250,000 years, already contaminating land and water systems; and affecting fragile desert eco-systems and the underground water basins which sustain them.

The contamination from the tests still lingers in the ground; approximately 8,000 kg of uranium, 24 kg of plutonium, and 100 kg of beryllium from the 'minor trials' at Maralinga. In the late 1990s the Federal Government committed to a clean-up which they declared 'successful' in 2002. The clean-up is widely considered to have been grossly inadequate. The government breached its own standards for the disposal of long-lived radioactive waste by burying plutonium-contaminated debris in shallow, unlined trenches "with no regard for its longevity or toxicity, and no regard to the suitability of the site," as nuclear engineer Alan Parkinson commented.

Dr. Geoff Williams, a senior officer from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) described the 'clean-up' as marred by a "host of indiscretions, short-cuts and cover-ups." Alan Parkinson, who was initially appointed as the Government's Representative to oversee the clean-up but later removed, argues: "What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn't be adopted on white-fellas land."

The poison still lingers.

In Australia today….

Climate change is happening – and governments and corporations are being forced to respond to a consensus of scientists worldwide, and a strong global movement taking action to avert dangerous climate change. In Australia, the nuclear industry and other pro-nuclear advocates have been quick to reinvent nuclear power as "clean, green and safe" and a "solution" to climate change. But nuclear power is no solution to climate change: it is too dangerous, too costly, too slow and makes little impact on greenhouse pollution. That is why most of the industrialised world is rejecting the nuclear option in favour of renewable energy and improved efficiency.

With 40% of the world's known uranium reserves in Australia, however, the Federal Government and other nuclear industry players are keen to cash in on the recent enthusiasm for nuclear power.

The patterns of short-sightedness and discrimination that characterised the Maralinga tests continue. In the 1950s, it is very likely that uranium mined in South Australia was sold to another country, and returned as bombs to be exploded on land not far from where it was extracted. Today, South Australian uranium is again being sent overseas, with a growing push for the subsequent wastes to be returned and dumped on Indigenous land in the Northern Territory. As the Federal Government looks to sell uranium to countries like China and India, there appears a very real risk that Australian uranium may again end up in warheads, as countries continue to allow the diminishing effectiveness of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Likewise, government and the nuclear industry's pattern of discrimination against Indigenous cultures can be seen today in legislation like the Roxby Downs Indenture Act. This Act allows BHP Billiton's operations at its Olympic Dam (Roxby Downs) uranium mine to supercede a variety of other crucial pieces of legislation, including the Aboriginal Heritage Act. The interests of the nuclear industry continue to be granted precedence over the legislated rights of Indigenous Australians.

Australia has three existing uranium mines – the Ranger Mine in the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, and the Beverley and Olympic Dam (Roxby Downs) mines in South Australia. BHP Billiton is planning a $5 billion expansion of the Olympic Dam mine to make it the largest mine on the planet, and Australia the largest producer and exporter of uranium in the world.

A second nuclear reactor in Lucas Heights, Sydney, was recently granted approval to begin operation, on the grounds there is an adequate storage facility for the waste it generates. The repackaging of nuclear energy as "clean energy" cannot hide the ongoing thorn in the nuclear industry's backside: the problem of nuclear waste. There is still no safe way of disposing of nuclear waste, and there are still no storage plans for the more than 250,000 tonnes of high-level radioactive waste already in existence.

Regardless, the Federal Government is working hard to force a low and intermediate-level nuclear waste dump on the Northern Territory. On December 8 last year, the Federal Government passed legislation clearing the construction of a national nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory. This proposal has been met with opposition from almost all sides of Northern Territory politics, alongside Indigenous landowners, and environment and community groups. The dump proposal is crucial to the recent commissioning of the replacement nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights, as the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) was required to demonstrate they had a comprehensive plan for waste disposal before the reactor was granted a license to operate.

The reframing of the nuclear industry and 'debate' is a distraction from the real debate about climate change – energy reduction and moving to renewable energy. State and Federal Governments seem determined to gratify nuclear and fossil fuel industries – at the expense of indigenous communities; and creating environmental destruction, long-lived radioactive waste, and dangerous climate change.

"The patterns of short-sightedness and discrimination that characterised the Maralinga tests continue."

Better active today than radioactive tomorrow! Get active and involved:

The nuclear industry is seeing its biggest revival in decades – with extensive exploration, pushing for new uranium mines and enrichment in Australia, a new reactor to operate in Sydney, the possibility of nuclear power, and plans for a radioactive waste dump in the Northern Territory. But it's going to be a short-lived revival – the nuclear industry is no answer to climate change, renewable energy works and is non-polluting, and we've got the people power to create a sustainable and safe future!



Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, Irati Wanti ('The poison, stop it'): <>
and see the links section:
and the testimonies:

Australian Nuclear Veterans Association: <>

Large collection of articles by journalist Colin James available as Word file from <>

Articles by nuclear engineer and Maralinga whistle-blower Alan Parkinson, re botched clean-up in the '90s: <>
and articles about the use of human gunea-pigs, the body-snatchers scandal and other stuff at the same site.

BBC material: <>


Today - the 50th anniversary of the first nuclear bomb test at Maralinga - we call on BHP to relinquish the outrageous, racist and indefensible legal privileges at the Roxby Downs uranium/copper mine in SA.

BHP Billiton likes to waffle on about Corporate Social Responsibility and the like. But the Roxby Downs Indenture Act overides the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Water Resources Act and the Freedom of Information Act. BHP has yet to relinquish these anachronistic legal privileges.

BHP can:
* Ignore the provisions of the 1988 Act designed to protect Aboriginal heritage;
* Choose which Aboriginal groups to consult with;
* Determine the nature and manner of any consultation with Aboriginal communities; and
* Decide the level of protection that Aboriginal Heritage sites receive

All that smacks of the racism and paternalism which characterised the Maralinga nuclear bomb tests.

The legal privileges are totally inconsistent with  BHP's Health, Safety, Environment and Community Policy, which states: “Wherever we operate we will develop, implement and maintain management systems for health, safety, environment and the community that are consistent with internationally recognised standards."

Let BHP know you think its time for the company to relinquish its legal privileges:
Write to:
BHP Billiton, 180 Lonsdale Street
, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
Or email BHP's so-called 'Ethics and Business Conduct' people: <>.

More information:
Peter Burdon, "Above the law? Roxby Downs and BHP Billiton’s Legal Privileges", <>


Australian uranium exports have resulted in the production of over 86 tonnes of plutonium - enough to build about 8,600 nuclear weapons. Roxby Downs uranium is responsible for about one quarter of the total. BHP plans to triple the uranium production at Roxby Downs to about 15,000 tonnes annually - enough to build several thousand nuclear weapons each year.

It is irresponsible for BHP to be mining and exporting ever more WMD feedstock in the form of uranium given that the 'safeguards' system is such a joke. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has acknowledged that the 'safeguards' system is "fairly limited", suffers from "vulnerabilities" and operates on a "shoestring budget".

BHP is entirely reliant on the IAEA's limited and under-resourced safeguards system to prevent its uranium ending up in nuclear weapons. Uranium mining should be stopped at Roxby Downs. And BHP ought to honestly acknowledge that it is contributing to nuclear WMD proliferation risks by mining and exporting uranium.

To make matters worse, BHP sells uranium to countries with nuclear weapons, countries which are not abiding by their Non-Proliferation Treaty disarmament commitments, countries which refuse to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and countries with appalling human rights records and a track record of gross environmental mismanagement. China is one country which fails on all those criteria yet BHP wants to export uranium to China. What a disgrace.

These proliferation risks are not just hypothetical. Four or five countries have misused their 'peaceful' nuclear facilities for nuclear weapons production. Over 20 countries have used 'peaceful' nuclear facilities for nuclear weapons research.


Since the Roxby Downs mine opened, it has produced a large amount of tailings waste - over 70 million tonnes, currently growing at a rate of 10 million tonnes annually. The tailings waste is dumped on site with no plans for its long-term management. BHP says it plans to manage the waste to “industry standards” - in other words, the company will walk away from its toxic legacy soon after the mine’s closure, yet the radioactive waste will pose an environmental and public health hazard for thousands of years. What sort of a legacy is that to be imposing on future generations of Australians for thousands of years to come?

Overseas, nuclear power plants are producing over 10,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste annually yet there is not a single disposal site for any of this waste. BHP is a significant contributor to this global problem. As Premier Mike Rann argued in his 1982 book, uranium should not be exported from Australia until disposal solutions for high-level waste have been "conclusively demonstrated" not just "promised hopefully in the future".

* Friends of the Earth, Australia <>
* Friends of the Earth Adelaide <>
* Nuclear Free Australia <>
* Australian Conservation Foundation <>
* Dr. Gavin Mudd <>
* Yellowcake Country: Australia's Uranium Industry

* Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta <>
* Australian Nuclear Veterans Association: <>