MARALINGA .. NEVER AGAIN – via Dr Jim Green
50th ANNIVERSARY .. 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.
Please find below a list of some of these events, and contact details for other nuke groups around the country so you can find out what’s happening in your part of the world. (I haven’t been able to get details for all the events happening around the country.)
1. ‘Maralinga – Never Again’ events
- Alice Spings
2. Current list of nuclear campaign groups (please advise of ommissions, corrections)
3. Information about Maralinga
4. Fighting the NT nuclear dump plan … and Martin Ferguson
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.
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 email@example.com, 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.
27th Sept; presence in the mall.
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
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.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 nearby)
Beyond nuclear testing; Australia’s nuclear past… towards a nuclear free future
speakers: Lew Rice, National President Atomic Ex-Servicemen’s
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 to 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 to 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 email@example.com
LIST OF ANTI-NUKE CAMPAIGN GROUPS
Adelaide: FoE Clean Futures Collective
Joel Catchlove firstname.lastname@example.org 0403 886 951
Friends of the Earth’s Clean Futures Collective meets each Tuesday, 5.30pm, Conservation Centre, 120 Wakefield St, Adelaide.
Web: http://www.geocities.com/olympicdam & http://cleanfutures.blogspot.com
Alice Springs: Alice Action & Arid Lands Environment Centre
Nat Wasley email@example.com (08) 8952 2011, 0429 900 774.
Alice Action meets every Wednesday 6pm at ALEC, 39 Hartley St.
Web: http://www.no-waste.org http://www.alec.org.au
Darwin: Environment Centre of the Northern Territory
Emma King firstname.lastname@example.org (08) 8981 1984, 0428 818 109
Darwin: No Waste Alliance www.no-waste.org
email@example.com, ph Justin Tutty (08) 8945 6810
Brisbane: Anti-Nuclear Collective & Food Irradiation Watch
Robin Taubenfield firstname.lastname@example.org 04 1111 8737
Kim Stewart email@example.com (07) 3846 5793
Canberra – Canberra Region Anti-Nuclear Campaign (CRANC)
Meets every second Thursday (June 1, 15, 29), 6pm, at ROCKS meeting room, cnr Kingsley St, off Barry Dr, Acton.
Tim 0405 370782
Melbourne: FoE Anti-Uranium Collective
Michaela Stubbs firstname.lastname@example.org 0429 136935
Friends of the Earth’s Anti-Uranium Collective meets each Wednesday, 6.30pm, 312 Smith St, Collingwood.
Perth: Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA http://www.anawa.org.au
Annemarie Hindinger email@example.com (08) 9271 4488
Nicola Paris Nicola.firstname.lastname@example.org 0422 990 040
Fremantle Anti Nuclear Group. Meets fortnightly. Contact Nicola Paris, 0422 990040 or email@example.com
Catherine Atoms firstname.lastname@example.org 0404 899 619
Beyond Nukes Lismore
Ruth Rosenhek (02) 6689 7519, email@example.com
Meets at Winsome Hotel.
INFORMATION ON MARALINGA
Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, Irati Wanti (‘The poison, stop it’): http://www.iratiwanti.org
and see the links section:http://www.iratiwanti.org/iratiwanti.php3?page=bomblinks
and the testimonies:http://www.iratiwanti.org/iratiwanti.php3?page=50yrhome
Australian Nuclear Veterans Association: http://users.bigpond.net.au/anva
Large collection of articles by journalist Colin James available as Word file from firstname.lastname@example.org
Articles by nuclear engineer and Maralinga whistle-blower Alan Parkinson, re botched clean-up in the ‘90s:
( ...EXCELLENT WEBSITE… )
( ...HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… )
and articles about the use of human gunea-pigs, the body-snatchers scandal and other stuff at the same site.
BBC material: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/falloutatmaralinga.shtml
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 http://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 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!
Fighting the NT nuclear dump plan … and Martin Ferguson
Labor MP Martin Ferguson recently claimed that environmentalists and other special interest groups “have used indigenous communities to peddle their own ideology” and that “indigenous communities are starting to make their own decisions about these issues.”
Below is a response by Mitch, an Eastern Arrernte/Luritja woman from Alice Springs. She is fighting the federal government’s nuclear dump plans.
We stand strong as Indigenous people
By Mitch (an Eastern Arrernte/Luritja woman from Alice Springs)September 13, 2006
When the Howard government’s proposal to build a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory was announced in July 2005, my Elders from the Harts Range site north-east of Alice Springs gave me permission to set up a protest camp and to speak out against it.
The Alice Springs community and environment groups supported us, but they have never pressured us into anything or put words in our mouths. I reject the statement from Labor politician Martin Ferguson, published in the Financial Review on Wednesday, that environmentalists “have used indigenous communities to peddle their own ideology”. The environment groups have only ever helped us, not told us what to say.
Mr. Ferguson is being paternalistic when he says, “indigenous communities are starting to make their own decisions about these issues.” As he should know, we have always made our own decisions, but the politicians don’t often listen.
My family and I have done a lot of our own research on nuclear issues in the Alice Springs Library, by watching documentaries, and listening to the environmentalists and politicians. And of course we already know about our traditional culture and country – protecting country and access for hunting and gathering bush tucker.
We have asked repeatedly for more information from the Government but they have only told us that it is safe and there is no reason why people in the ‘middle of nowhere’ can’t have a dump. We have asked to meet with federal science minister Julie Bishop, but she refuses to speak to us.
If this nuclear waste is so safe, why can’t they keep it at the Lucas Heights nuclear plant in Sydney, where it is produced and where the nuclear experts work? We stand strong in our own culture as Indigenous people, and want the land and water to be protected for all children, black and white. We have enough issues of our own to deal with without having to deal with the nuclear waste.
We can solve the problems of racism, economic impoverishment, and inequality in housing, but as a nation we need to think hard about nuclear issues because radioactive waste is a problem we can’t solve easily.
Last December, the federal government passed legislation – the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act –which prevents the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 from having any effect during investigation of the short-listed nuclear dump sites, and it excludes the Native Title Act 1993 from operating at all. Julie Bishop should come here to tell us why the normal laws, as inadequate as they are, are being ignored.
Aboriginal Heritage is not protected under white law, what are the morals here if the culture of the Indigenous people is not protected?
Indigenous communities have found solidarity with other groups that have an interest in caring for the earth. For the dump campaign this has meant feeling supported instead of feeling like a single Indigenous woman and talking up for people living out bush at the Alcoota/Harts Range site, 120 kms north-east of Alice Springs.
Aboriginal communities and greenies are interested in the same thing, with different reasons and understandings, but both wanting to save the water and look after the country. Martin Ferguson should do the same. 7 years ago