From 1957 to 1978 the Australian Government carried out dissections on the bodies of people who had died of illness or accident. These dissections were carried out to monitor the amount of Strontium 90, a radioactive element, absorbed by Australians. Strontium 90 was a component of the fallout deposited from nuclear tests conducted in Australia, the Pacific and China. Permission to carry out the dissections was not sought from relatives. The tests were carried out by the Federal Health Department, and test subjects included babies. Evidence of this activity was released in 1981 by the NSW Health Commission. The Australian Radiation Laboratory paid the costs of bone sample removal and transport to Melbourne The secret operation involved hospitals in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney. Melbourne and Adelaide. (Source: Atomic Fallout, March/June 1992 page 11 )

Data Gathering and Use

From 1965 to the present time, the South Australian Government carried out monitoring of all reservoirs for nuclear fallout. The graphs created from the data are contained in an earlier report (The Monitoring of the Radiological Contamination of SA Drinking Water, by P. Langley). This data has not received wide publicity. Dr Helen Caldicott and others have however spoken on this theme over a period of many years. Results of British water catchment monitoring of South Australian water, carried out prior to 1965, remains unavailable to Australians. SA Water Corp confirms that Australian radiological monitoring commenced only in 1965 – after the cessation of nuclear weapons testing by the UK in Australia.

Although the SA Government does not possess records earlier than 1965, involved ex- servicemen state that British monitoring of water commenced in the 1950s. The records of this early monitoring are unavailable in Australia.

As British nuclear weapons testing in Australia commenced in the early l950s, this data is of great importance. Given that the Nuclear ExServicemens’ Associations have initiated action against Britain via the European Union Court of Human Rights, it may be productive if Australians petition the court to force Britain to release all Australian radiological data to Australian Nuclear Veterans and hence to the general public. Australians who retain citizenship to member nations of the European Union especially are entitled to petition the EU. (Since the enabling of the Maastricht Treaty 1992, all such citizens are entitled to access to the EU court of Human Rights. As the release of British held documents impact on the human rights of Citizens of Europe living in Australia, petitions to the court may be productive).

In 1956, a senior biologist employed by the CSIRO began a biological survey into the effects of atomic weapons testing in Australia. His name was Dr Hedley Marston. He and his team collected the thyroid glands from cattle and sheep in areas of Australia likely to have been contaminated by atomic fallout clouds. He concluded that extensive areas of Australia had been contaminated, including densely populated areas in a band 1,600 miles wide right across the continent. He found that Adelaide and the country surrounding it had been contaminated. He feared that the radioisotope Strontium 90, released by atomic bomb testing, had entered the Australian food chain. He told the CSIRO that his findings indicated that the official version of events was false. He stated that either monitoring instruments were faulty or someone was lying. Dr Marston passed away shortly after making his report.

Statistics within a Socially Isolated Minority Group

After the end of World War 2, 45,000 Australian service personnel served as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in radiation affected areas of Japan. As of December 1992, 18,000 of these people remained alive.

Of the 30,000 Australian service personnel who participated in the testing of British atomic weapons in Australia, only 5,000 could be traced. All of those found to be alive in 1992 were suffering illnesses. Many records relating to involved servicemen are missing.

The Atomic veterans maintain that Human Leukaemia virus HLV occurs in radiation affected areas of Japan. In 1988 La Trobe University identified this virus in radiation affected areas of Australia.

What is the truth concerning the effects of radiation? Is it true to say that the military uses of nuclear energy has no relevance to the industrial uses of radiation? Is the imperative which dictates the use of nuclear resources real or contrived? Can government and industrial interests be trusted with nuclear resources when the effects may be insidious, unseen and undisclosed? In attempting to answer these questions, the survivors of the British A bomb testing program in Australia exist as an under-utilised resource.

The bombs detonated in Australia were Plutonium devices. The Plutonium was created at the Windscale nuclear facility in the UK. This facility was built to produce weapons grade fissile material and to conduct research. The Windscale facility caught fire on 8.10.57. By 10.10.57, the fire had reached a temperature of 1,300 degrees C. The first public announcement of the fire occurred on the BBC on 11 .10.57. Much of the British Isles and Northern Europe received fallout from the fire. The Poms may have been marginally faster than the Soviets after the Chernobyl disaster, but both appear rapid when compared to Australian authorities. Not even a number of suicides by scientists working at the Lucas Heights reactor, nor mass cancer deaths among Australians from A bomb fallout have motivated an open approach by Australian governments.

Mass burial sites containing the remains of Australian Aboriginal people killed by the nuclear experiments are mentioned in Federal Hansard. The Federal Government delegated the investigation of the reported sites to the South Australian Health Commission. Mass radiogenic disease and death at Ernabella are denied by the Federal Government. The Australian Atomic Ex-Servicemenís Association remains certain of alternative facts.

After many years of exhausting representations, the Maralinga people, forced from their lands into the Yalata mission, recently received some justice. The government continues to deny justice to other A bombs victims

Scientific Knowledge vs. Moral imperatives

For many years the Australian Atomic ExServicemens’ Association has maintained that the premature death and illness experienced by members result from the duties carried out by those people in relation to atomic weapons testing and subsequent decontamination and monitoring activities.

Successive Australian governments have contested this point of view and have vigorously presented the view that Australian service personnel were well protected and monitored Despite clear evidence to the contrary, the government maintains that adequate safety guidelines were strictly adhered to and that no one suffered as a result of their nuclear service. The evidence shows that the position held by government is false and cowardly. (The continuance of this stance impacts on civil nuclear projects and activities by potentially reducing the ability of workers to report radiological hazards by the resultant culture of denial.)

The affected veterans have been reluctant to speak out. They remain bound by the Official Secrets Act. Up until the ending of the Cold War in particular, few wished to disclose information, nor express feelings on the matter.

The end of the Cold War however has not changed the Commonwealth Government tactic of impelling the ex-servicemen to pursue justice through individual legal action via the Federal Court. This means several factors continue to reduce the free flow of information regarding nuclear safety in Australia. .

Firstly, when affected exservicemen speak on the issue, they are constrained by laws of subjudice. A recent issue of the Adelaide Advertiser demonstrates that the Government is not constrained on the issue though. The paper printed a story which stated that no service personnel were affected by the nuclear tests. The same paper carried a small item on a South Australian who was taking Federal Court Action in regard to the illnesses he suffers as a result of his service at Maralinga.

The government is hard to fight in the propaganda war, particularly where illnesses may take many years to emerge, and where the media seem to ignore legal protocol when it is in the government interest to do so.

Secondly, Federal Court sittings in all states except Victoria involve proceedings without juries. A Federally appointed judge alone decides if the Commonwealth is at fault.

Thirdly, the time taken by these individual court hearings is extremely lengthy. It is stressful to fight the Commonwealth on an individual basis. The Association is a small one, and each person is very much alone in a sphere of knowledge which is very specialised. The current conventional wisdom on the subject is conservative and the majority of the opinions originate from the same era and the same people which deemed that the nuclear bombing of Australia was advantageous. By the time individuals get to court, they are ill, isolated and broke.

Fourthly , the individual costs are very high. Although the Association has a fighting fund it is small.

Fifthly, the Federal Government is attempting to impose statue of limitations upon the outstanding claims. Clearly, in the view of government, some veterans have taken too long to die.

All these factors indicate that eye witnesses to the events will by and large be dead by the time the facts and events they witnessed can be freely talked about. It is imperative that young people be informed of the issues so that the torch can continued to be carried.

The magazine the Association produces is a living testimony to the consequences of the use of nuclear technology. To date, the information contained within the magazine has not been allowed to be entered as evidence in the Federal Court.

The information collected and held by the Association is vastly different to conventional views on the subject.

A History of Nuclear Heath Physics

Nuclear science has a history of underestimating the health effects of ionising radiation.

* 1896 Becquerel discovered that uranium oxide emitted radiation.
* 1919 Rutherford first split the atom.
* It becomes accepted that workers who applied radium paint to instrument dials died from radiation induced throat and jaw cancer.
* In 1931 the Australian government set up the Commonwealth Radium laboratory to research the health effects of radiation and to store the nation’s supply of Radium. This fact is important to remember when examining the letter of 23 .7.96 from the Federal Minister for Energy in relation to the dumping of nuclear waste upon the Great Barrier Reef.
* 1953 DNA was discovered. DNA creates genetic code, by which characteristics are passed from one generation to the next. One of the key facts which led to the search for DNA was the knowledge of genetic mutation. This fact was also of immense interest to the nuclear industry.
* 1955 – UN General Assembly release report No 17 (A/3838) – Extract from the Report of the United Nations Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation paragraph 49 states “Exposure of gonads to even the smallest doses of ionising radiations can give rise to mutant genes which accumulate, are transmissible to the progeny and are considered to be, in general, harmful to the human race. As the persons who will be affected will belong to future generations it is important to minimise undue exposures of populations to such radiation and so to safeguard the well being of those who are still unborn.” It is interesting to speculate what exposures are “undue” and which are “unavoidable” in the eyes of industry and government.
* 1996 – The South Australian Minister for Mines states that Uranium Oxide is not radioactive. (Reactionary ignorance at best. Secondary schooling for all government ministers should be compulsory. So much for celebrating the Centenary of Becquerel’s discovery – it was “Deemed” out of existence in South Australia.)
* 1996 – The Australian Federal Minister for Energy deems that Radium paint is not a threat to human health when dumped in the hundreds of litres in the environs of Fraser Island. (See Senator Parer’s letter to me in the Appendix).

The Federal Government has maintained that the Atomic tests were permitted in Australia because the appalling results were not known at the time. UNA report 17 (A/3838) and its precursors (circa 1896, 1919 etc) give the lie to this. Rather the questions raised in these reports enabled targeted research which resulted in the deaths of Australians. Infantry training methods no doubt, in my personal opinion, improved as a result. Government policies including “Assimilation” of indigenous people were facilitated by the nuclear bombing of traditional lands. Unlike the radiation affected areas of Japan, radiation affected Aboriginal lands have not been covered by bitumen or concrete. A proper cleanup of Maralinga has taken more than 40 years to commence. As of April 1999, accidents resulting in the spread of radioactive isotopes continue to occur during the Maralinga cleanup. (Adelaide Advertiser, 14.4.99).

People are damaged by radiation which originates from outside the body. This is called “external radiation”. Radiation which originates from within the body is caused by “internal contamination”. Internal radiation also causes damage to the body. Substances which emit ionising radiation have always existed. Radioactive isotopes of substances such as carbon and iodine have always made up part of the environment. The atoms of these substances make up a very small percentage of our bodies. Granite contains radioactive elements. The list is long. The radiation emitted by naturally occurring radioactive elements form what is called “natural background”. This also consists of ionising radiation, usually cosmic rays, which originate from outer space. One cannot blame “the government” for background radiation. Presumably this is why the disseminated residue from government and government permitted nuclear activity is deemed to now be part of “natural background”.

Background Radiation

Levels of background radiation are usually very low. Levels vary from place to place. Background radiation is generally “external”. Very little “internal contamination” occurs in most natural environments.

Radiation causes damage to the body in several ways. When ionising radiation strikes a living cell, it causes electrons to be removed from the atoms which make up the cell. This creates positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons which engage in unusual chemical reactions within the cell. For example when ionising radiation hits a molecule of water within a cell, the water is changed into hydrogen peroxide. Free hydrogen and ozone are produced. The chemical reactions these substances produce within the cell result in more damaging substances being produced. These “metabolites” overload the immune system and many are carcinogens.

Radiation also produces genetic damage if a ray (gamma, cosmic, X) or particle (Alpha, Beta) causes direct damage to the chemicals which make up DNA within a cells gene sequence.

The effect of this damage is usually repaired by the cell. But as age, chemical exposure and radiation dose rate increase, the chance of a mistake occurring in the repair process increase. This leads to genetic change, possible genetic disease and cancers.

Children are vulnerable to radiogenic illness because their cells are highly active, and carry out rapid chemical reactions and rapid cell growth. Cellular damage caused by radiation has a far greater chance of causing disease because the damaging chemicals created in the young and rapidly reacting cells take part in many more chemical reactions than in an older person. Women of child bearing age are vulnerable to genetic damage.

What is a Safe Dose of Radiation?

Many experts not aligned with the nuclear industry believe that even natural background radiation is a risk factor. These doctors and scientists observe that the large mass TB screenings via X Rays in the 1950s and l960s produced greater numbers of cancers in populations than would otherwise have occurred. The point of view held by these experts is that ionising radiation should be minimised and that no industrial or military use of ionising radiation which adds to natural background radiation exposure doses is safe.

On the other hand, other experts state that safe working dose rates can calculated for radiation workers and members of the public. Experiments in Britain and USA throughout the 1 950s, 1960s and 1970s (including injections of radio isotopes upon unaware test subjects), the constant monitoring of Japanese A bomb survivors, and tests upon animals have led to the setting of what is termed “safe limits” for exposure doses. The Australian government denies that Nuclear veterans were used s guinea pigs. Few veterans believe this. The imperative to use nuclear medicine and to provide jobs in mining and nuclear Facilities drives the continued research into safe working levels.

The two sides of the argument are unlikely to meet given the continued drive to use nuclear technology. I can say though that historically, safe limits tend to be revised downwards as research continued.

Internal vs. External Exposure


It is essential that the terms External and Internal hazards are thoroughly understood. The distinction is based on the location of the source of radiation. i.e. whether the source is inside or outside the body. It is possible to take the source of radiation into the body, for example by inhaling radioactive dust or eating contaminated food.

a. An external hazard exists if the source is outside the body. b. An internal hazard exists if the source is inside the body.

When experts talk about “background radiation” external radiation is usually being referred to. However the radioactivity of the human body also forms part of the background dose we are exposed to. As external radiation poses less of a threat to life, the so called ‘safe level’ for this is generally set at a much higher level than for “internal” hazards. This ignores the fact that external radiation becomes internal radiation if ingested. Experts often talk about nuclear technology producing, hazards which are “less than or equal to natural background”. If natural background radiation, which poses a natural risk to health, is added to man made radiation levels, the actual radiation dose rate can be calculated. Politicians and scientists often forget that 2 plus 2 equals 4 when setting safe limits for nuclear industry. The unacknowledged body burden carried by nuclear test veterans places them at risk.

External Hazard

Alpha Radiation

Due to the short range and poor penetrating power of alpha particles they do not constitute an external hazard. Most alpha particles would be stopped by air before they reach the skin. Even if an alpha emitter was in contact with the skin only the first layer of skin would be damaged. This would cause little damage as the skin is constantly dying and being replaced.

Beta Radiation

When large beta emitting sources come into close contact with the skin they can become an external hard. It can cause reddening of the skin similar to sunburn and even blisters. Beta radiation is generally termed a limited external hazard.

Gamma Radiation

In view of the great penetrating power of gamma radiation even from a very distant source a person’s body may be irradiated causing biological damage. Therefore gamma radiation is a definite external hazard

Neutron Radiation

As for gamma

Internal Hazard

Alpha Radiation

When alpha particles damage only the first layer of skin cells, it is not important because these cells are not vital to the functioning of the body. However when alpha particles cause injury to the first layer or two of cells in an internal organ it is important because those cells are vital to the bodyís’ well-being. If for example an alpha emitting particle became lodged in a person’s lungs, the layer of cells destroyed would be those which permit the transfer of oxygen from the air to the blood stream. The loss of these cells would be of great significance. Similar reasoning applies to any internal organs. Alpha particles are the most severe internal hazard. (eg as emitted by Radium and Radium paint. See Senator Parerís letter in the Appendix)

Beta Radiation

The same line of reasoning used for alpha particles also applies to beta except that the beta particles would expend their energy over six or seven times as many cells, causing less damage to each cell than by alpha.

Gamma Radiation

As with alpha and beta radiation the critical nature of internal organs that could be injured by radiation from a gamma source inside the body makes gamma a definite internal hazard causing biological damage. Therefore gamma radiation is a definite internal hazard. However the gamma photons would spread their energy over a very long distance extending outside the body so each cell would receive less damage than from alpha or beta radiation

Neutron Radiation

As for gamma

Common Radiation Sources

The natural environment, air, water, food, housing and even our own bodies contain radioactive elements. The dose rate produced is called “background radiation” It varies from place to place. It includes cosmic radiation. Background radiation is not harmless. The cumulative effect of background ionising radiation, cell damage, genetic change and illness cannot be discounted, although its statistical effect on human health is very low. Without naturally occurring mutations caused in part by background radiation evolution or the development of the species might not have occurred. Life might not have arisen on earth at all.

That said, there is no simple way of separating additional man made radiological doses from natural background. As a result, natural background in many places (eg Nevada, New Mexico, parts of China, Russia and South Australia) is much higher in 1996 than it was in 1940. In evolutionary terms, 56 years is less than a blink of an eye

In the home the most common source of radiation exposure is radon gas. Radon is a decay product of Radium. Radon itself decays into a solid radionuclide. Thus when Radon in inhaled, a proportion of it may “daughter” into a solid and remain in the lungs, forming a internal hazard. Poorly ventilated brick houses built on conventional foundations accumulate more radon than timber or fibro houses built on stumps or above ground. Regardless of building type, the main risk factor encouraging Radon build up is poor ventilation.

Always use disposable vacuum cleaner bags. Buy the best vacuum cleaner you can afford, preferably one with multi-stage filtering. Use disposable dusting cloths. Spray a liquid polish or cleaner onto surfaces prior to dusting. Don’t smoke inside (wont smoke. Tobacco smoke, due to the concentration of a radioactive isotope of Arsenic in the Tobacco, is radioactive. Ions generated by a burning cigarette attract and concentrate Radon which precipitates as dust in the room. Every packet of tobacco product should have a radiation hazard warning on the packaging. It is a mystery as to why this is not implemented. For many years, the Australian military encouraged its personnel to smoke and to enjoy “smoke breaks”. Peer pressure in the military is very strong. No serviceman wants to be seen as a deviant by the group. Smoking in the Military in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s was facilitated and encouraged by the employer.)

Australian soils generally emit levels of radon which are comparable to other parts of the world. There is little doubt that radon exposure contributes to lung cancer rates in occupations such as mining and farming if the farming techniques used include regular ploughing. Residual fallout from the era of nuclear testing contributes to occupational exposures.

Luminous clocks and other instruments form another domestic source of radiation exposure. The radium paint which until recently was used on luminous dials produces radon. If an old luminous clock is examined in a darkened room, specks of light will be seen coming not only from the luminous numerals of the clock face, but also from the internal surface of the glass. The radium has decayed to Radon gas, which has then deposited radioactive solids onto the inner surface of the glass. In l972, a Chinese made “Diamond” brand alarm clock was measured for alpha radiation emission. Alpha radiation was detected with the clock glass in place. On removal of the glass face, Alpha emission from the dial was found to be fifty times the World Health Organisation permitted level. The glass face was found to be highly contaminated.

The clock qualified as low level waste and was disposed of accordingly. The technical staff undertaking the measurements wore face masks and gloves. Old luminous clocks present a particular hazard when the gasket between the clock body and the glass deteriorates, or when the glass is broken or removed. Radon emissions occurs in this case, radioactive dust may also be released. Many luminous alarm clocks reside in bedrooms, in close proximity to sleeping family members

Children should never be given old luminous clocks to play with. They are radiation hazards. The lure of the clockwork mechanism to mechanically minded children has exposed children to radium and radon. It should be pointed out that the Medical Facility of the University of Birmingham is of the view, along with many other experts, that there is no safe limit of radiation exposure in the case of leukaemia.

Televisions and computer monitors emit minor levels of X rays. Children should sit as far away from the screen as possible. Liquid crystal computer monitors do not emit ionising radiation. Australian education Departments must be made aware that no growing child should be forced to sit in front of a cathode ray computer screen. Until liquid crystal computer screens become economically viable, schools should use large screen RGB projectors located at a distance of more than 2 metres from the students. Childhood cancer rates in the USA increased proportionally with the introduction and market penetration of CTV in the USA. It is likely a similar increase is currently occurring with computers. Children currently sit far too close to computer monitors. It must be remembered that Colour TVs and Computer monitors are direct descendants of X ray machines. Non-ionising EMR emissions from electrical equipment is another issue, but here again the distance between the monitor and the child should be more than 1 metre. The rear of the monitor is the most dangerous place for nonionsing EMR. Never place the rear of a TV or monitor toward an adjacent childís bedroom. Walls don’t stop EMR)

In 1985 French research indicated that common bacteria may provide the vector between radiation workers and their children. The bacteria has an affinity with heavy metals, including radium and plutonium. Bacteria transported between nuclear facility and the home, ingested by the children of radiation workers might account for the infamous leukaemia clusters which occur in Britain, around all of that country’s nuclear facilities. Although this link remains theoretical, it now appears that nuclear Facilities, including mine sites and tailings dams should be sterile. That is, as isolated from the microscopic environment as possible. In Australia, cancer clusters among rural populations hit the headlines from time to time. In the ever increasing complexity of the modem world, it is difficult to separate out individual disease agents. However increasing levels of “background” radiation in combination with chemical exposure and other rural factors must surely play some role. The mechanism by which radiation damages the body and presents a challenge to the immune system is in its essence, chemical. So chemical exposure and radiation exposure probably have compounding effects upon human health. This factor has the potential to render all nuclear activity worldwide unsafe.

There are many instances of radium induced illnesses. However, on 23 .7.96, the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator the Hon. Warwick Parer wrote to me and stated in part “I am advised that there have been claims that plutonium contaminated waste originating from the British nuclear test program was disposed of in the sea near Fraser Island. None of these claims has been substantiated. Air Force records have established that radioactive waste from radium based luminescing paints stored at Richmond and Amberley RAAF bases was disposed of in this manner. There is no evidence that this material presents a hazard to people or the environment.”

The Air Force dropped many forty four gallon drums containing radioactive waste in the sea off Fraser Island. Some refused to sink and so were strafed by machine gun fire. At least one drum full of either radium paint or plutonium waste washed up on a beach in New Zealand. In my view liquid radium paint presents more of a hazard than solid Plutonium contaminated artefacts.

So it is easy to see that what passes these days for “natural background” may well contain the residue of human activity also.

Already scientists working in the Ukraine have determined that the rate of genetic change has increased as a result of the Chernobyl disaster (SBS TV). New Scientist magazine was reprimanded by the European Union for publishing an article on European radiation levels on the grounds that the publicity could cause an increase in the number of heart attacks.

Expired Smoke Detectors must be treated as low level radioactive waste and must be kept away from children. Unlike luminous clocks, smoke detectors do not emit-radon gas and so are very safe in use. Should a smoke detector catch fire, radioactive particles may be released if the containment box is damaged, and thus fire fighters contend with the resulting radiation dose as an occupational hazard. Given the increasing use of breathing apparatus and protective clothing among fire crews, this hazard is minimised and indeed is minor compared to the carcinogenic and mutenogenic nature of smoke and other combustion products of plastics and foam found in the modern home.

However designs for smoke detectors which do not use radioactive substances do exist.

Effects of lonisation on the Human Body

(from “Effects of Radiation”, RAEME, RADIAC handbook, 1972, unclassified) (see note below re permission to use)

As electrons take part in chemical reactions, anything affecting the orbital electrons of atoms may affect their chemical reaction. Although an ionised may only remain so for a fraction of a second, in this brief time a chemical reaction may occur because of a momentary loss of an electron. In the human body many reactions are possible and only a few can be suggested here. During the brief moment of ionisation, a long and complex protein chain may be broken; the smaller chains resulting cannot perform the same physiological function as the original chain, as a result the functioning of a living cell may be impaired. Water molecules in the body now change to form hydrogen peroxide, H2O2 or other oxidising agents which may produce chemical reactions that are abnormal to the body’ s functioning. As the body’s balance of chemical substances is extremely delicate, a small change in one place in the body can lead to larger changes elsewhere. The end result of all these chemical changes is that the cell becomes abnormal or dies and if sufficient cells are affected the body may become sick or die The severity and nature of the symptoms depends upon the amount and type of radiation received.

Effects on various Human Systems and Organs

Many parts of the body are more or less sensitive to radiation than other parts of the body

The most sensitive are:

* Lymph Tissue.
* Bone Marrow
* Spleen.
* Gastrointestinal Tract
* Reproductive Organs.
* The next most sensitive parts are:
* Lungs.
* Liver.

The least sensitive are:

* Adult bones.
* Muscles.
* Nerves

Injury caused by certain doses of radiation will depend upon the extent and part of the body exposed. If a small part of the body is injured the rest of the body can contribute to its recovery. This effect is used in the treatment of cancer. However, if the whole body is exposed many organs are affected and recovery is much more difficult.

The effect of nuclear radiation on humans depends not only on the total dose received but the rate at which the dose is received. If, for example a dose of 200 rad were received in one hour, it would have far more harmful effects than the same dose over a number of years.

Severity of Effect

The following are factors which will affect the degree of body damage or sickness.

1. Dose accumulated from previous exposures.
2. Physical condition of the body
3. Period over which doses were received.
4. Sex and age of the person
5. Period between exposures
6. Presence or absence of additional injuries.
7. Type of radiation and the source.

(It should be pointed out that many nuclear veterans suffer prolonged periods of ill health with symptoms similar to those experienced by sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.)

Characteristics of Radiation Sickness

(Please note that chronic health problems associated with low level internal contamination are poorly documented and disseminated. The following description of acute Radiation Sickness however contains facets of long term (chronic) suffering experienced by victims of “legally permitted” doses in some circumstances. eg Atomic Veterans.)

Prodromal Stage

1. One to two hours after exposure sudden listlessness and fatigue sets in. The casualty becomes increasingly quiet, withdrawn and anti-social.
2. The casualty complains of headache, dullness, dizziness and frequently becomes mentally depressed.
3. At about the same time he complains of upset stomach and loss of appetite, soon followed by vomiting. These effects reach a climax from 5 to 8 hours after exposure.
4. These symptoms subside on the second or third day at which time the majority of casualties show no symptoms.

Latent Phase

1. From about 3 to 20 days after exposure, the casualty feels well and is able to carry out normal duties: however important blood changes are occurring.
2. From 13 to 17 days the casualty may experience a loss of hair.
3. On about the 10th day after exposure symptoms begin to erupt again: the casualty now begins to enter the bone marrow depression stage.

Bone Marrow Depression Stage

The Casualty first experiences: Chills, Feverish feeling, Headache, Difficulty in breathing. Within a short period of time his condition deteriorates and it is necessary for him to be confined to bed.

The picture is soon aggravated by:

* Reddening and swelling of the throat. Tendency to bleed. High fever.
* This phase reaches a climax in 4 to 6 weeks.

Recovery Phase (if any)

This period may last up to several months. During this stage many casualties will have recovered sufficiently to require only convalescent care. This includes such care as:

Rest, good food, vitamins and minerals, good nursing care, other measures helpful for complete restoration of the blood forming cells.

Treatment of Radiation Sickness

The normal treatment for radiation sickness is generally confined to relieving the symptoms eg taking aspirin for headaches or removal of damaged organs.

Delayed effects that are important are:

* Shortened life spun
* Increased incidence of Leukaemia
* Cancer
* Cataract
* Genetic damage
* Speeding up of the cellular aging process

Examples of current Scientific and political attitudes to Radiological Safety – what modern victims can expect

Within the past few weeks (late July l996) the Australian Democrats have raised the issue of radiological safety in the SA State Parliament.

The Democrats report that workers employed at Roxby Downs were contaminated while performing nuclear duties in relation to radioactive waste owned by the Commonwealth.

On 2.8.96 the Adelaide Advertiser reported that the State Liberal Minister Stephen Baker told parliament that the contamination did not take place. Mr Baker further stated that uranium oxide is not radioactive.

The Atomic ExServicemensí Association is taking steps to ensure that the contaminated workers receive invitations to join the Association. The association is engaged in action against the Australian Government via the Federal Court, the International Court of Justice, the UN, and the European Union. (This last point is relevant to workers who retain European/UK citizenship).

The Association is in regular contact with nuclear safety experts located in the US, Scotland and England.

The “Silkwood Syndrome” of denial by employers and governments has dogged Australia since the 1950s.

Current events are proving that social isolation and its consequent political disenfranchisement remains a tool of the nuclear industry and its propagandists.

However, given modern mass communication and alternative media the nuclear industry must realise it risks embarrassment on a global scale should it persist in these tactics.

The Association will be watching the pending decommissioning and decontamination of the elderly Lucas Heights reactor and its environs with interest. Odds are that a large proportion of it will end up buried in South Australia. Are we being softened up for this eventuality?



By Phillip Coorey

Workers at Roxby Downs had become contaminated with radiation when they handled “illegal” high level nuclear waste it was claimed in State Parliament yesterday Democrat MLC Ms. Sandra Kanck, who said she had been contacted by some former WMC employees, called on the Government to investigate the alleged incident. Late yesterday WMC (Western Mining Corp) issued a statement emphatically denying any impropriety. WMC’s corporate affairs manager, Mr Richard Yeeles, said the material transported was 11 tonnes of yellowcake, “Not high level waste”.

“All necessary government clearances were obtained for the transportation and the material underwent normal processing at Olympic Dam,” he said. “There was no failure of the process.” Ms Kanck told Parliament drums of waste were secretly and illegally transported from the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in NSW to Roxby Downs in 1995, for reprocessing in tanks at the concentrator leach section of the plant. The process failed and “waste precipitated to the bottom of one of the very large separation tanks and set like cement”. A team of workers had been sent in to remove the deposit but, on the first day of excavation, they sent Geiger counters ‘off the scale” when they entered the lunch room. They had taken off their protective clothing and washed but still had a comparatively high level of radiation on their bodies, said. . The Liberal Leader in the Upper House, Mr Lucas, said the allegations ‘needed to be investigated thoroughly before being accepted as fact”.



Workers at Roxby Downs were not contaminated when treating radioactive waste because the alleged incident never took occurred, the State Government said yesterday. The Mines and Energy Minister, Mr Baker, was responding to an Advertiser report last week when Australian Democrats MLC Ms Sandra Kanck, told Parliament several workers became contaminated after removing a cement like deposit from a tank. The deposit was the result of a failed experiment to treat radioactive waste “secretly and illegally” imported from the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in New South Wales, she said.

Mr Baker said the material was uranium oxide – processed uranium ore known as yellowcake – and was not radioactive.

“The transport took place with full knowledge of both State and Commonwealth Governments All necessary and appropriate notifications were made”, be said.

Outside Parliament, however, a spokesperson from the SA Conservation Council said yellowcake was a medium level radioactive substance. (end quote from Advertiser.)

In 1896, Becquerel discovered that salts of the metal Uranium emitted ionising radiation.

Mr Baker’s deeming of Uranium oxide not to be a radio-nuclide occurs in the centenary year of Becquerels discovery. The unit of radiation named after Becquerel has been used for many years as a unit of measure critical in monitoring the degree of risk to which nuclear workers are exposed. I suppose if Mr Baker is going to ignore the risk, he may as well ignore the unit of measure. We are all just whirling bundles of atoms after all. Some are just denser than others. May Mr Baker incarnate in his next life as a lump of lead.


In the early 1970s soil in suburban houses surrounding the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor was found to be contaminated by radioactive elements. Soil was removed from at least one home garden, and stored. With this knowledge in mind, the following Federal Parliament Hansard record is of interest


13 4.5.92, 2298-2321 House of Representatives, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Amendment Bill 1992 Second Reading

The passage of this Bill enabled the Commonwealth to attempt to over ride the Rights of the State of South Australia in order to deposit large quantities of radioactive waste at Woomera, despite the protests of citizens and the state government. Mention in the reading of the Bill is made of waste being stored in paint tins in a Melbourne office building used by clerical workers. Mention is made of the negative affects of locating the waste in storage in agricultural areas, specifically where its presence may damage Australia’s export meat market. Politicians berate the “Not In My Backyard mentality” of the Australian electorate. (Pretty ironic when you consider some of the waste literally came from domestic gardens – backyards) It is obvious lessons have yet to be learnt. I have written to a Public Sector union in Victoria asking for assistance in identifying, the building workers and visitors who used the building as described in Hansard as a nuclear waste storage area. Questions to the Federal Government in this matter were not fully answered, as the Department of Primary Industries and Energy considered the matter one for the Victorian government. IAEA regulations regarding nuclear safety, however, are international and as such fall within the responsibility of the Commonwealth.

I also asked that Department why the waste from Lucas Heights was stored upon a space vehicle launch site. The launch site is known as the “Range Head”. To quote from the letter signed by the First Assistant Secretary, Coal and Mineral Industries Division, :” the interim storage site is located at the Rangehead which is some 45 kilometres distant from Woomera Village. All the wastes at the Rangehead are safely stored pending decisions on their long term management/disposal. Virtually all of the waste stored at the Rangehead is slightly contaminated soil and represents a very low radiological hazard. The small quantity of material which represents a more significant radiological hazard is stored in a substantial concrete bunker. The waste is stored behind the operational launch area and away from the line of the instrumented range.” end quote. In short, the Woomera Rocket Range and proposed Space Shuttle launch and landing site doubles as a nuclear waste dump. Nothing it seems to me, has been learnt from the nuclear disasters the world has experienced.


So called “minor” accidents involving radioactive substances occur daily. There is rarely any physical evidence of such accidents. Sub lethal exposures which result in minimal or no immediate symptoms nevertheless are likely to involve internal contamination. Such contamination leads to the long term effects previously listed. This being the case, it is very difficult to demonstrate that a sudden onset of vague symptoms not unlike the flu in 1953, when connected to cancer 25 years later, establish that radiation exposure was the disease causing agent. Although the link has been firmly established scientifically, the link may not be made by victims and the legal system.

The documented costs of nuclear industry reveal that it is not a profit making undertaking It cannot exist without capital intensive public infrastructure. The current and future decommissioning costs, as exemplified by the Maralinga cleanup and pending Lucas Heights decommissioning, place pressure on national and global financial resources. To quote former US President George Bush: ‘There isn’t enough money in the world to solve the Russian problem”. Which raises an interesting question. Where does money come from?

The simple answer is that Governments print it.

More interesting still is the question, where does the money go once it is spent?

The history of nuclear technology consists of one huge unsupervised experiment on the planetary gene pool. At the same time vast amounts of money are transferred from tax payers to corporations involved in nuclear industry.

The nuclear deception excused by the Cold War continues today. Denial of effects, denial of exposures, denials of costs, denials of help.

Propaganda techniques, based upon apparent “credible denial” of the invisible, which successfully convinced most of a generation of Australians that British A bombs detonated over, on and under our country were good for us are still in use today. In 1953, only a foolhardy South Australian would ask ëwhy is it good if the British do it, when World War 3 would erupt if the Russians dropped the same bombs on Maralinga?” Such people were labelled subversive.

Yet the people who suffered would really have been better off had the Russians done the deed. Instead of uninvestigated mass burial pits up North (as recorded in Federal Hansard), the Government of the day would have hung the bodies out to dry in order to demonstrate what bastards the other side was. Had the Russians done the deed, there would have been an apology.

Nuclear technology enabled the world to be reduced from hundreds of nation-states with local governance into four blocks – West, East, Third and Non-aligned. In the end, the East and Non-aligned were bankrupt, the Third was the field of proxy combat and the West is now subsuming remanent and radical nationalism within a single global economic system. Given the post Cold War Western economic situation, the overt source of monetary exchange may be about to change. Multi-polar politics is no match for that. It could not have happened so quickly without the Cold War. The Cold War could not have happened without the bomb. The lessons have been learnt. And that is why it continues. The reason for the existence of nuclear industry is not to produce electricity. It is there to facilitate a final power shift The answer to the question “what happens to the money?” is – it goes from tax payers to Government to corporate conglomerates. This is not typical “Conspiracy Theory”. It is a testament to Anglo-Saxon ignorance and arrogance. The sun never sets over the nuclear fuel cycle.

* Atomic ExServicemens Association
* Commonwealth Hansard
* Nuclear Health notes (unclassified) RADIAC Centre, RAEME, Australian Army 1972*
* Meltdown by Crispin Aubrey, Collins and Brown, 1991 ISBN I 855850176
* The Adelaide Advertiser

*Those seeking to censor me should note that this RAEME handbook was authored by my superior officer, who, at the project completion and upon my military discharge, handed me my copy and instructed that I was free to use it.

The above text is taken from
Researched, written and created by Paul Langley
ISBN 0-646-42490-4

One Response to “Propaganda”

  1. Sheba Zellous Says:

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