MARALINGA - NEVER AGAIN
SEPTEMBER 27, 2006
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.
1. Maralinga - Never Again events
- Alice Spings
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.
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.
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.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org, 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
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.
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 www.nucleartaskforce.org for more details.
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
“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)
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
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.
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
27th September - vigil at Sydney Town Hall steps at 5pm.
Contact: Renata <email@example.com> 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)
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
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)
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
BRITISH NUCLEAR BOMB TESTS IN AUSTRALIA
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 <www.asen.org.au>
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
--- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
MORE INFORMATION ON MARALINGA
Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, Irati Wanti ('The poison, stop it'): <www.iratiwanti.org>
and see the links section:
and the testimonies:
Australian Nuclear Veterans Association: <http://users.bigpond.net.au/anva>
Large collection of articles by journalist Colin James available as Word file from <email@example.com>
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: <www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/falloutatmaralinga.shtml>
TIME TO END BHP's OUTRAGEOUS LEGAL PRIVILEGES
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.
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.
* 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.
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:
BHP Billiton, 180 Lonsdale Street
, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
Or email BHP's so-called 'Ethics and Business Conduct' people: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
"Above the law? Roxby Downs and BHP Billiton’s Legal Privileges",
BHP AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROLIFERATION
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.
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
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.
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.
BHP AND RADIAOCTIVE WASTE
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?
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
MORE INFORMATION ON ROXBY DOWNS AND URANIUM MINING
* Friends of the Earth, Australia <www.foe.org.au>
* Friends of the Earth Adelaide <cleanfutures.blogspot.com>
* Nuclear Free Australia <www.nukefreeaus.org>
* Australian Conservation Foundation <www.acfonline.org.au>
* Dr. Gavin Mudd <http://civil.eng.monash.edu.au/about/staff/muddpersonal>
* Yellowcake Country: Australia's Uranium Industry
MORE INFORMATION ON THE BRITISH NUCLEAR TESTS
* Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta <www.iratiwanti.org>
* Australian Nuclear Veterans Association: <http://users.bigpond.net.au/anva>