Archive for December, 2011

The “missing” Maralinga Hospital nuke test treatment records – a lesson for us and for Fukushima.

December 28, 2011

1. John Keane cites the official historian of the more than 500 “minor trials” (the ones that spread fission fuel over the land), Lorna Arnold. Arnold, according to Keane used the Maralinga Hospital records, among other thngs, the come up with exposure doses for the personnel involved in the experiments. He states “Arnold’s report drew upon blood tests and Maralinga hospital records that have since been destroyed.” Well, Arnold’s report, going on Keane’s account of it, is a paradox. For during the clean up in the 1990s was a hazardous affair. Even today areas north of Taranaki are unfit for humans.

So, one account of the records being destroyed after the official account was written. Not a surprising finding, given what was officially written about exposure doses supposedly based, in part, on the Maralinga Hospital records.


A letter was recieved by the Department of Veterans Affairs on 3 Nov 2008. Written by John Hutton, spokesperson, Australian Ex-Service Atomic Survivors Association, he states: “In August 1957 a number of the troop became ill with persistent vomiting but were
reluctant to seek medical help for fear of being called ‘shirkers’. t was admitted to the
Maralinga Village Hospital. on 29 August 1957 and did not return to work until after
7th September. 1 was treated with Largactil, which 1 now know is used not only for
vomiting but psychosis and radiation sickness. I attach a copy of my in- patient
record, probably the only copy of a Maralinga hospital record available as all others
seem to have completely disappeared.
Over the years I have worked very hard to make sure that the grave injustice to these
Veterans didn’t continue. I even lobbied the schools to have the British Nuclear Tests
in Australia included in the curricutum. It is quite remarkable the number of people
who are not aware that this travesty of justice happened on our own soil. ft was
rewarding last year when the National Museum of Australia included this as one off
the subjects in their Touring History Agenda. 1 also appeared before the Royal
Commission, but recently I have had to curtail my activities due to ill health and
failing eye sight.” The Maralinga Hospital document Mr. Hutton attached to the letter gives the “Firm diagnosis” as “Functional Vomiting”. The record gives Mr Hutton’s age at the time as 20 years, and the date of admission is given as 29 August 1957, the date of discharge as 7 September 1957. The total stay in the hospital is given as ten days. One would think that a “Firm diagnosis” of functional vomitting – for ten days – is not a diagnosis but an observation of a sign of a symptom of an undisclosed cause. Apparently the Maralinga Hospital didn’t treat radiation sickness and its signs and symptoms. A lesson apparently learned well by Japanese authorities today. (Hospitals there have new signs which state “We do not treat radiation sickness”. Just “functional vomiting presumably. Just psorasis, not beta burn.)

The clinical notes written on John Hutton’s condition are as follows: “…history of persistent vomiting. No cause found on full examination. Not controlled by 50mg of Largactil tds. Three day intragastric milk drip successful.” The notes were written by a Captain in the RAMC.

(Pecher (1940) and Hamilton (1942) noted that the displacement of Sr** (all isotopes) was enabled by boosting calcium intake. It was one of the protective measures Hamilton communicated to Stone and Groves until the terms of the directive issued by Compton for protective measures to be identified.) Largactil is also known as chlorpromazine. A bried look at studies of the drug turns up the following:
“The vitamins of the B complex, particularly pyridoxine,
were the first group to show undoubted efficacy in the
treatment of radiation sickness (Maxfield et al., 1943;
Oppenheim and Bjorn, 1946; Van Haltern, 1946;
Shorvon, 1949) and are still widely used.
The anti- histamines, having been proved useful in motion sickness,
were advocated for radiation sickness (Lofstrom and
Nurnberger, 1946), but, although still used by some
radiotherapists, neither cyclizine hydrochloride
(” marzine “) nor diphenhydramine hydrochloride
(” benadryl “) is significantly better than inert tablets
(Ellis and Stoll, 1952; Stoll, 1957a). In 1954 the value
of chlorpromazine (“largactil”) in this condition was
reported (Marks, 1954). Since then the phenothiazine
series has expanded widely and has been tried extensively
in the treatment of radiation sickness, and new types
of central sedatives of the vomiting centre have been
developed….” the report records a radomised trial in which patients suffering the effects of radiation treatment
were given Largactil as an oral dose of 25mg. (Source: “Radiation Sickness. An analysis of over 1,000 controlled drug trials by
Basil A. Stoll, M.R.C.S., F.F.R., D.M.R.T.& D., Peter MacCallum Clinic, Melbourne, British Medical Journal, August 25, 1962, pp 507)

The fact that the drug was administered to Mr Hutton was obviously based upon its established (though unsatisfactory) treatment for exposure to radiation. The effetiveness of vitamin B injections is explained by Stoll quite clearly and was known to the Hiroshima doctors. who, Hersey (1945) reports as administering liver extract for radiation victims whenever they had it available. (Liver extract and Vitamin B is discussed in the paper THE VITAMIN B1 AND B2 G CONTENT OF LIVER EXTRACT AND BREWERS’ YEAST CONCENTRATE
D. K. Miller and C. P. Rhoads
From the Hospital of The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research
Received November 26, 1933. J Exp Med. 1934 February 28; 59(3): 315–331.

For milk as a source of vitamin B, see THE FOLIO ACID AND VITAMIN B12 CONTENT OF
Department of Biochemistry, College of Agriculture,
University of Wisconsin, Madison

(Received for publication September 13, 1950) Journal of Nutrition.

All the cited papers are within the era in which the knowledge was being applied to Mr Hutton. It seems to me that the treatments applied were all appropriate ones a doctor who has actually diagnosed or suspected radiation exposure as a cause of the signs exhibited by Mr Hutton. Yet the diagnosis is merely a description of what was happening (vomitting for 10 days).

Hutton in his 2008 letter writes: “Shortly before each bomb was exploded, I and a team of 4 other engineers would
seal the entrance to one of the “Instrument bunkers” with about a thousand sand
bags, which we had previously filled. Then about half an hour after each explosion
we would return in my land rover and removed the sandbags. The bunkers were very
close to the GZ and the task took about an hour. We did not wear protective clothing
and the bulldust was so heavy that we wore handkerchiefs over our mouths. On
return, we were not checked for radiation and had to spend much time in the
showers. Attached is an extract from the list of personnel at the completion of the
countdown for Tadje. I am in charge of Sandbag Party B. It was impossible to work
wearing a respirator for either sandbagging or driving”

In the 1990s. Mr Hutton’s claim against the government was dismissed and in the course of the proceedings, learned gentlemen acting on behalf of our government made statements about their view of Mr Hutton as a drunkard. The sort of person the government would label “not fit and proper”. Crap. The treatment Mr Hutton recieved was the trigger which pulled my pin and started me on this mission to show the truth via the historical record.

Given the facts of the matter, and the uses of the treatments Mr Hutton recieved in the Maralinga Hospital, it is pretty clear that he was being treated for radiation sickness. And this treatment was documented in the records he was allowed to see and possess in such a way that no mention what so ever was made of the actual case of his illness. Any cretin can diagnose vomiting. Even if they do only know enough to label it “chucking up constantly for a phucking long time after inhaling radioactive dirt.”

No wonder the real records from the hospital, the ones sent to England, have gone missing.

So no Mr Keane, it looks like they are not destroyed. One document held by Hutton indicates at least further documents consisting of the secret reports of the condition the personnel, probably despatched monthly to Whitehall or Aldermaston.

As for Lorna Arnold, well…let’s see how her findings of miminal radiation exposure to personnel stack up…
see this:

She was, according to the findings of Dr. Roger Cross, the author of at least one proven “whitewash” in regard to radiation exposure. The documents released to Mr Hutton by the Maralinga Hospital are obviously inadequate. It is enough to make me puke….

(of course, the whitewash continues in the law courts, and is aided by people who contact me telling me to forget the past and focus on modern information….information formulated from the whitewash….)

3. The Independent ( reporter Kathy Marks.
June 15, 2001

Thousands of young, inexperienced troops observed nuclear tests in 1950s Australia. They were never informed of the risks. Survivors tell Kathy Marks of the sickness that has never been acknowledged.

“As Peter Webb clambered over dust-coated Centurion tanks at ground zero in his regulation boots, shorts and short-sleeved shirt, he saw other men walking around in full-length white “space-suits” with gloves, hoods, masks and rubber boots. They were the scientists, and they always wore protective clothing in the forward area. The young servicemen who worked there almost never wore any protective gear. Webb was admitted to Maralinga Hospital with nausea and headaches, as were many others; the precise figure is not clear, as the hospital records have disappeared.
The average life expectancy of the men who helped Britain to achieve its place in the nuclear sun is 55.5 years. There are just a few thousand surviving veterans in Britain and in Australia, and they believe that their governments are simply waiting for them to die.”


Australian Broadcasting Corporation



Broadcast: 21/05/2001
Secret documents detail plan to use servicemen in atomic tests

Reporter: Geoff Hutchison

“ANNE MUNSLOW-DAVIES: What I would really like to see in those documents is the records from the Maralinga hospital.

To date, they have never been found and no-one knows their whereabouts.

PETER WEBB: But every now and again, when something comes up like this, Peter Webb comes up and says, “Hey!

I’m still here, I’m still alive, I’m still breathing’. What are you going to do about it?”

I still get the same answer – “Nothing, bugger off and die,” and that’s the sad part.

KERRY O’BRIEN: We should point out that Veterans Affairs Minister Bruce Scott has been out of the country and unavailable for interview.”


SECRET records detailing the fate of dozens of babies born in the shadow of Maralinga’s nuclear testing hold the key to a case that is building as South Australia’s largest class action.

More than 100 South Australians have joined a class action against the British Ministry of Defence over deaths and disabilities they believe were caused by nuclear testing at Maralinga more than 50 years ago.

Among them are families of the Woomera babies – more than 60 lives lost, many without explanation, during the decade of nuclear testing, up to 600km away.

Lawyers running the case say it is “just the tip of the iceberg”. They have heard only from people who are “very confident” they have a case for compensation, AdelaideNow reports.

Already, families of some of the stillborn children, hours-old babies and toddlers who account for more than half the plots in Woomera Cemetery for the 1950s and 1960s, have come forward.

Edith Hiskins, 79, of Willaston, gave birth to a stillborn daughter, Helene Michelle, in March 1963, and still is not satisfied with the reason given for her baby’s death.

Mrs Hiskins, and her husband John, a serviceman at Woomera, were told the baby girl was stillborn due to “mild toxemia” – a cause not given until years after her death and only after they pushed authorities for a death certificate.

The parents never saw their daughter , who was buried in the cemetery the next day, and they have never seen her medical records. “I would like some answers as to why that happened, because the answers given on her death certificate, I do not find sufficient,” Mrs Hiskins said.

“As far as I know, her records were sealed. It was years before we even got a death certificate.”

Mrs Hiskins said she, or her family, are likely to join the class action. “There are still questions to be answered and reasons to be given,” she said.

In all, the Woomera Cemetery contains 23 graves for stillborn babies born in the hospital between December 1953 and September 1968, and a further 46 graves for other children who died around that period. Autopsies were not always conducted and it is understood the medical records of those 23 stillborn babies remain sealed and held by the National Archives of Australia.

6. British surrender over Maralinga clean-up bill
(The British said the place was perfectly clean and safe. It was not.)

7. Major Alan Batchelor’s submission:
Submission to the Clarke Review…/batchelor.pdf
“Not considered, were the actions taken by Government to hide the total range of health and
genetic effects resulting from exposure to ionising radiation and other toxic materials associated
with nuclear weapon tests. Maralinga and other hospital records went missing and those with
dangerous exposures had their names and dosage records removed from the ofiicial listings.
“ltiere are a number of practical examples where nuclear veterans were exposed to dose rates
many thousands of times higher than the Cancer and Mortality Study’s “ail-purpose‘ dose rate”

and so on.

The google stats on my search for “maralinga hospital records” was 39,800 results (0.26 seconds).

Ms Arnold would be pretty busy these days. And instead we have the hormesis and adaptive response crew writing in telling me to
report on modern stuff instead.

The modern stuff is actually Lorna Arnold’s flock of parrots.

Apparently its ok though if you present with “motion sickness” and “psorasis”. Don’t dare tell the truth, radiation sickness and beta burn or they won’t apparently treat you. Even though the treatments can be the same or similar.

(see above, and Cronkite, AEC, Marshall Islands, 1954.)

Blame the farmers. Not the nuke industry? Don’t think so.

December 26, 2011

Refer to historic and present US attempts to produce food fit for human consumption in the Marshall Island test plots by adding potassium to the contaminated soil there as background to the following story.

FUKUSHIMA — High radiation doses in rice produced here are not necessarily linked to soil radiation levels, and could be linked to a lack of potassium and insufficient cultivation of rice paddies, a joint governmental survey has revealed.

The survey, conducted by the Fukushima Prefectural Government and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, inspected the conditions of rice paddies in the prefecture where rice was found to surpass the provisional upper limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram.

An analysis of soil samples showed that the paddies’ levels of potassium — which prevents rice plants from absorbing radioactive cesium — were only about one-third of the average concentration of potassium in the city of Fukushima.

It was also determined that rice grown in insufficiently cultivated paddies, including those in mountainous areas where rotary tillers are not used, tends to be tainted with higher doses of cesium. This is caused by the rice plants’ roots being closer to the soil surface in comparison to those in well-cultivated paddies.

Based on the assumption that unpolished rice absorbs about 10 percent of cesium in the soil, the government allowed rice to be planted in paddies where soil radiation doses were under 5,000 becquerels.

However, rice tainted with nearly 800 becquerels of cesium was found in a paddy that had radiation levels of only 2,321 becquerels — less than half of the limit allowed by the farm ministry.

In fact, the survey showed that nearly one-fourth of the inspected paddies, where radiation-tainted rice was grown, had radiation levels below the set limit — a finding that led the Fukushima Prefectural Government to conclude that there is no direct correlation between levels of radiation found in soil and the rice grown in that soil.

Click here for the original Japanese story

(Mainichi Japan) December 26, 2011

The precedent:

I think before anyone makes any conclusions, ask the Marshall Islanders what they think of their nuclear history and their nuclear present.

No matter how wonderful Livermore Labs may be, I think the Islanders have cause for unhappiness and saddness in many respects regarding what was done to them and their home.

Ditto Japan.

People may want to comment on the natural radioisotope of potassium. Well, how many millions of tons bananas is Fukushima equivalent to? A billion trillion?

And cesium is just one fission product out of many. And displacement as a method is not perfect as the US reports regarding the Marshall Islands indicates. Further, taking potassium as a supplement to excess presents the potential for severe health risks on its own.

Nothing wrong with trying the Marshall Island method in Japan. It will be a test though, and it will not take the soil back to its pre Fukushima standard.

6 out of 54 reactors still functioning in Japan.

December 26, 2011

What maniacs ringed Japan with such vulnerable machinery in the first place and why?

Mainichi Daily News.

Genkai reactor suspended, leaving 6 reactors in service in Japan
An aerial view of the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Saga Prefecture. (Mainichi)
An aerial view of the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Saga Prefecture. (Mainichi)

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) — Kyushu Electric Power Co. suspended operation of the No. 4 reactor at its Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture late Sunday for a regular checkup, the utility said.

The suspension left only six among 54 commercial reactors in Japan in service in the wake of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant triggered by the March earthquake and tsunami, with operations of all six reactors in Kyushu Electric’s service area being suspended.

Kyushu Electric has decided to ask customers to reduce their maximum power usage by more than 5 percent between Monday and Feb. 3.

The suspension of the No. 4 reactor will put the utility’s supply capacity at 14.69 million kilowatts in January against the expected maximum power demand of 14.57 million kilowatts, with the reserve rate standing at 0.8 percent, according to the utility.

The rate, however, will fall to minus 2.2 percent if electricity demand grows to the level seen a year earlier, when the area faced a hard winter, it added.

(Mainichi Japan) December 26, 2011

According to the former head of Australia’s ANSTO, the Japanese reactors are “among the best in the world”.

Buy a Pinto Ziggy. The logic is the safe. Con consumers, knowing the inherent flaws, don’t remove the flaws because its cheaper to pay compensation than institute change.

Not this time it ain’t. All the tax dollars gone into nuke could have produced a renewable revolution years ago.

Forestry workers have to independently monitor tree contamination – Mainichi Daily News.

December 26, 2011

Everyone knows officials do not accept the readings of radiac instruments which have not been calibrated by approved facilities nor operated by officially sanctioned monitoring staff yet:

Mainichi Daily News:

SHIROISHI, Miyagi — Radiation fears stemming from the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant and radiation monitoring activities are raising concern among people handling trees to grow mushrooms and make charcoal.

Forest workers are very concerned about any potential fallout from the nuclear crisis because they have to independently monitor radiation before applying to the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), for compensation, unlike farmers and fishermen who have standing in law.

Decontamination work in the mountains is said to be much more difficult than on flat land and some forest workers are considering switching jobs.

The Forestry Agency in October set a ceiling of 150 becquerels per kilogram for raw wood for mushroom cultivation and in November set limits on radioactive cesium found in firewood and charcoal for cooking at 40 becquerels and 280 becquerels, respectively.

The governmental agency advised Tokyo and other prefectures concerned not to market forestry products that exceed those ceilings. While local governments conduct radiation checks on farm and marine products under the Food Sanitation Law, there is no law for contaminated raw wood or charcoal. The agency says it is simply requesting members of the forest products industry to unilaterally check radiation and make redress requests.

“Even if I prepare expensive testing equipment, I can’t do business because of a dwindling number of clients,” Tomio Takahashi, a 58-year-old forestry operator in Shiroishi, Miyagi Prefecture, near the border with Fukushima Prefecture, said with a sigh.

He started his forest business 35 years ago using wood from southern Miyagi and Fukushima Prefecture to produce and sell raw wood for mushrooms, charcoal and firewood. The nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami occurred as his firm’s annual turnover reached 90 million yen.

His firm is located 70 kilometers away from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. His business partners asked him about radiation contamination and subsequent examinations by an inspection entity of raw wood for shiitake mushrooms found a cesium level of 333 becquerels per kilogram.

Massive cancellations ensued, and one firm said it cannot accept his forest products for the next two years.

Cesium levels of about 1,800 becquerels per kilogram were also found in ash in the firm’s charcoal kilns. Takahashi wonders if the firm’s six kilns have been contaminated due to the burning of timber. Tearing down the kilns would cost about 30 million yen and disposing of them afterward poses a challenge as well.

“I don’t know how long radiation will remain in the mountains,” he says, adding he is considering quitting charcoal production because “there is no guarantee when his customers will come back.”

The Miyagi Prefectural Government has launched a search for forests with low levels of cesium to pass on information to forest workers and owners.

(Mainichi Japan) December 26, 2011

“poor emergency responses by the plant operator and the government.” Mainichi Daily News, Japan

December 26, 2011

TOKYO (Kyodo) — A government panel investigating the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant said Monday the accident shows the need to prepare for unexpected events if the consequences of them happening could be disastrous, referring to the poor emergency responses by the plant operator and the government.

Releasing an interim report following some six months of investigation, the panel said that many problems related to the crisis were linked to the absence of measures to deal with severe nuclear accidents caused by tsunamis as well as the failure to assume that a nuclear crisis could occur in combination with a natural disaster.

“It cannot be denied that people who have been involved in nuclear disaster response and those in charge of managing and operating nuclear power plants have lacked the big-picture viewpoint for seeing nuclear disaster preparedness,” the report said.

“In that point, there has been a major problem in nuclear disaster preparedness, which would not allow them to make the excuse that they were not able to handle the situation because…the plant was hit by tsunami waves beyond the scope of their assumptions,” it said.

The remarks are in contrast with the outcome of an in-house investigation conducted by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., which blamed the larger-than-expected tsunami for the failure to prevent the world’s worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

With key buildings flooded by tsunami waves more than 10 meters high, the plant located on the Pacific coast in northeastern Japan lost nearly all of its power sources and consequently the ability to cool the reactors and spent fuel pools.

The report by the investigation committee led by Yotaro Hatamura, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, said TEPCO misunderstood and mishandled the situation at the Nos. 1 and 3 reactors, which eventually suffered meltdowns along with the No. 2 reactor.

As for the No. 1 unit, injecting water into the reactor by using fire trucks was delayed mainly because officials at the plant’s emergency headquarters mistakenly thought that a cooling system called an isolation condenser was functioning when it was not.
In this March 20, 2011 aerial file photo taken by a small unmanned drone and released by Air Photo Service, the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is seen in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture. From top to bottom: Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3 and Unit 4. (AP Photo/Air Photo Service)
In this March 20, 2011 aerial file photo taken by a small unmanned drone and released by Air Photo Service, the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is seen in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture. From top to bottom: Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3 and Unit 4. (AP Photo/Air Photo Service)

There was “a good chance” the actual situation could have been noticed, the report said, but reactor operators and headquarters staff apparently did not have sufficient knowledge about the equipment itself or how to handle it, which was an “extremely inappropriate” situation for a plant operator.

TEPCO “had not expected a situation in which all power sources would be lost at multiple reactors simultaneously due to an extremely severe natural disaster, and it had not provided enough training and education to respond to this situation,” the report said.

In the case of the No. 3 reactor, meanwhile, some workers stopped an emergency cooling system without reporting to senior officials of the plant’s headquarters.

If workers had been able to release the pressure in the Nos. 1 and 3 reactors and start injecting water earlier, the reactor cores might not have been damaged as much as currently believed and a smaller amount of radioactive substances might have been emitted, the report said.

The government’s response in the early stage of the crisis was also problematic, with communications among officials at the prime minister’s office insufficient and the emergency response center in the industry ministry not functioning well in performing its role of gathering information as stipulated in the nuclear disaster response manual.

Members of the industry ministry and the nuclear safety agency were “strongly frustrated by the lack of speed in information provision” by TEPCO, but even so they did not take such actions as sending agency staff to the company’s head office, the report said.

The committee also said that the government’s evacuation order issued to residents around the plant was not clear enough in that it sounded almost the same as telling them to “just run,” and in some cases residents were found to have been evacuated to areas where radioactive substances had spread.

Summarizing its findings, the report said that TEPCO did not take steps to deal with severe accidents caused by tsunami and that nuclear regulators acted similarly. The possibility of such an incident was seen as very low and treated as an “unexpected” issue.

“But even if it is a phenomenon with a very low probability of occurring, it does not mean that you can ignore it. If an irreversible situation is going to happen…measures should be taken to prevent the situation,” the report said.
In this March 11, 2011 photo released Monday, April 11, 2011 by Tokyo Electric Power Co.,(TEPCO), the access road at the compound of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is flooded as tsunami hit the facility following a massive earthquake in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.,)
In this March 11, 2011 photo released Monday, April 11, 2011 by Tokyo Electric Power Co.,(TEPCO), the access road at the compound of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is flooded as tsunami hit the facility following a massive earthquake in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.,)

Since launching its investigation in June, the investigation committee had conducting hearings from a total of 456 people as of Dec. 16. It is expected to release its final report next summer.

Gist of investigation report on Fukushima nuclear accident

The following is the gist of the interim report issued Monday by a government panel investigating the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

The government:

— failed to communicate well within the prime minister’s office.
In this March 15, 2011 photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., smoke rises from the badly damaged Unit 3 reactor, left, next to the Unit 4 reactor covered by an outer wall at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex in Okuma, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)
In this March 15, 2011 photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., smoke rises from the badly damaged Unit 3 reactor, left, next to the Unit 4 reactor covered by an outer wall at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex in Okuma, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

— had problems gathering information through channels stipulated in the nuclear disaster response manual.

— did not use in issuing evacuation orders data from a computer system to predict the dispersal of released radioactive materials.

— failed to fully use a facility planned to serve as the local headquarters as it was unprepared for a rise in radiation levels.


— misunderstood the functioning status of the No. 1 reactor’s cooling system called the isolation condenser.

— had not trained reactor operators sufficiently to handle the isolation condenser.

— mishandled the No. 3 reactor’s emergency cooling system.

— might have been able to lessen the damage of fuel inside the Nos. 1 and 3 reactors if it acted more appropriately.

The investigation committee:
In this photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), a small fire breaks out from facilities sampling seawater located a few dozen meters from Unit 4 inside the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Tuesday morning, April 12, 2011. The fire was put out soon and the ongoing cooling operations at the main units were not affected according to TEPCO. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)
In this photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), a small fire breaks out from facilities sampling seawater located a few dozen meters from Unit 4 inside the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Tuesday morning, April 12, 2011. The fire was put out soon and the ongoing cooling operations at the main units were not affected according to TEPCO. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

— calls for the need to be prepared for low-probability events if the possible consequences could cause extremely huge damage.

— calls for the need to consider the possibility that a nuclear accident can occur in combination with natural disasters.

— believes that people involved in considering the country’s nuclear disaster measures lacked a broader perspective on the issue.

— has so far not confirmed that reactor vessels were damaged by the March 11 earthquake, before being hit by ensuing tsunami waves.

(Mainichi Japan) December 26, 2011

Not Nostradamus. “Fumbling gov’t faces huge challenges in 2012” Mainichi Daily News, Japan.

December 26, 2011

I hope the nuke industry supports a free press. The record shows though that it does not.

Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute (KURRI), is someone who has made one of the strongest impressions on me among the experts I’ve spoken to about the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The public’s views toward Koide have changed by the minute. He went from first being considered a nuclear “maverick” to a “pioneer” and finally to “one polemicist from the anti-nuclear camp.” His ever-changing reputation has been symbolic of Japan’s wavering between the promotion of nuclear energy and independence from it.

There’s a reason why Koide came to mind as the year draws to a close. Last week, a government insider I’ve known for years wondered aloud whether they couldn’t “drag someone like Koide” into the process of drawing up the government’s new energy policy.

When I asked Koide about this, however, he responded: “I’m completely disillusioned with politics. No matter what committees are set up, nothing’s going to change while politics continues to be carried out the way it is now. I won’t accept a position from the government. When it comes to one-on-one public debates, however, I’m willing to go anywhere to participate.”

Many of the experts who have been involved in the government’s related committees since before the outbreak of the nuclear crisis on March 11 are pro-nuclear energy advocates. The inclusion of some anti-nuclear experts in discussions since March has created a bit of a stir, but they’re still vastly outnumbered. Talks remain under the tight control of bureaucrats from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), as well as staff dispatched from utility companies. The lineup is so skewed to nuclear energy promotion that it even gets a government insider anxious to get “someone like Koide” involved.

The government is now reviewing its energy policy in terms of a management overhaul at the stricken plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), and comprehensive reform of the electric power system. It is beginning to look like TEPCO will be nationalized to ensure stable power supply, with the government obtaining at least two-thirds of TEPCO’s shares. A final decision about the utility will be reached before account settlements for the fiscal year ending next March are made.

Meanwhile, the most significant point of contention within power system reform is nuclear power generation. The government claims it will present concrete energy policy options to the public next spring, with plans to finalize new policy by summer.

But that just isn’t going to be possible. The government may be able to come up with options, but it won’t be able to reach a decision. The issue of power reform is not something that the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which has bungled the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and is floundering over the Yamba dam project, can handle.

Winning the public over is the biggest obstacle that lies ahead for the government. There is talk that some in the government and ruling party are advocating a referendum. But the government’s planned timing of this process — spring and summer of next year — coincides with a critical time for Prime Minister Yoshiko Noda’s cherished consumption tax bill. Can the government handle two such massive issues at once?

So what would happen if the debate over energy policy fails to pick up steam, and things proceed with the “nuclear village,” a pro-nuclear collection of politicians, bureaucrats, academics and utilities, firmly in charge? A bureaucratic source offered the following vision: “Dependence on nuclear energy for our power supply can stay at (pre-March 11 levels of) 30 percent. This would still be lower than our original goal of achieving 50-percent dependence, so it would count as a ‘reduction in nuclear dependence.’ It would be acceptable to abandon the Monju fast-breeder project, but nuclear fuel reprocessing plants should be preserved. We would process MOX fuel from plutonium extracted from spent fuel, and export it at the same level as Britain and France.”

This scheme is a pipe dream. Nuclear power plants across the country are being stopped for regular inspections, with no clear prospects of them being restarted. No one believes the government’s recent announcement that “the crisis has been brought under control.” This widespread mistrust is not something that one-sided rhetoric from government or business leaders can dispel.

Protests against an unjust system that forces rural communities to suffer for the power consumption of the country’s cities has erupted far and wide. Some municipalities have even begun to return subsidies they received for hosting nuclear power plants to the national government.

If underestimating the public’s anger and leaving decisions up to the nuclear village is Noda’s political stance, then not just Koide, but also the rest of us, cannot help but be disillusioned. Changes must be made to the lineup of experts tasked to draw up energy policy, but the appeal is unlikely to be heard. Clearly, a possible hike in the consumption tax is not the only controversy that we’ll face in the year 2012. (By Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer)

(Mainichi Japan) December 26, 2011

If the nuke industry was a car, it would blame the tree that jumped out and hit it. The car is the fuel cycle and technology. The tree is the real world. If you can’t design for reality and respond honestly to challenge to design ideology, you aint a designer. You’re a despot. Like Ford making taking over the government and making the Pinto compulsory in every driveway.

Ting. Boom. Once every 30 years according to reactor designer Toshiba. No thanks.

Up to the minute report, from Japan, J Gov commissioned Indpendent report on Fukushima.

December 26, 2011

Hope this is new enough for Mr Patte and his health physics gurus. Course, its no different to reports independent scientists have been publishing since 1948 in general thrust.

Fukushima Probe Highlights Nuclear Regulator

By Tsuyoshi Inajima and Stuart Biggs – Dec 26, 2011 6:24 PM ET

When engineering professor Yotaro Hatamura took the job of heading the independent investigation into the Fukushima disaster, he said he was looking for lessons rather than culprits. He may have changed his mind.

In a 507-page report published today after a six-month investigation, Hatamura reserves some of his strongest criticism for Japan’s atomic power regulator, the Nuclear Industrial and Safety Agency, known as NISA.

NISA officials left the Dai-Ichi nuclear plant after the March 11 earthquake and when ordered to return by the government provided little assistance to Tokyo Electric Power Co. staff struggling to gain control of three melting reactors, according to the report.

“Monitoring the plant’s status was the most important action at that time, so to evacuate was very questionable,” the report by Hatamura’s 10-member team concluded. The committee found “no evidence that the NISA officials provide necessary assistance or advice.” Even though NISA’s manual said to stay at the plant, their manager gave the officials permission to evacuate, according to the report, which doesn’t name the manager.

The preliminary conclusions by Hatamura, who specializes in studies of industrial accidents caused by design flaws and human error, includes a slew of planning failures and operational mistakes by Tokyo Electric and the government before and after the earthquake and tsunami.
No Power

While the utility supplied the electricity that kept homes, factories and offices running in metropolitan Tokyo, the world’s biggest city, lack of preparation for power failure in the Fukushima station left workers reduced to flashlights at the 864-acre plant site, the size of about 490 soccer fields.

Batteries in cell phones at the Fukushima plant started running out on March 11 and with the failure of mains power couldn’t be recharged, preventing communication with the on-site emergency headquarters, according to the report.

Communications became so fractured that plant manager Masao Yoshida, stationed in the emergency bunker, didn’t know what some workers were doing. The high pressure coolant injection system at the No. 3 reactor was stopped by a worker without authority from plant managers because he wanted to prevent the battery running out, according to the report. The reactor was one of the three that melted down.
Muddled Response

In Tokyo, the central government’s response was muddled by miscommunication between two teams working on different floors of the same building, the report said.

The report by Hatamura, professor emeritus at University of Tokyo, serves as a time line for the chaos that ensued when the record magnitude-9 earthquake knocked out power and buckled roads before the tsunami flooded backup generators. Radiation fallout from the reactors forced the evacuation of about 160,000 people. The government has yet to say how many can return and when.

Tepco spokesman Masato Yamaguchi declined to comment on the Hatamura report when contacted today before its official release.

Hotlines between the central control room and the reactor buildings worked following the quake, while workers outside the buildings could use a total of nine transceivers, he said. The company added 29 transceivers on March 13 and 80 more on March 15, Yamaguchi said.
Failed Procedures

On NISA procedures, the report says the agency’s manual called for inspectors to remain at Dai-Ichi in an emergency while other officials head to the offsite emergency command office 5 kilometers (3 miles) away in Okuma town.

By March 14, all eight NISA officials, who are unidentified in the report, had left Dai-Ichi.

Kazuma Yokota, a NISA inspector at Dai-Ichi at the time of the quake, said in an interview with Bloomberg News in April he was one of three inspectors who left the plant 15 minutes after the temblor for Okuma. The three reached the center in 15 minutes and found it wrecked, power down and no working communications, he said.

Yokota didn’t answer calls to his cell phone today seeking comment.

Hatamura’s full report is expected in the summer of 2012, when it will include interviews with former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and other Cabinet officials. Those interviews weren’t completed for the interim report due to time constraints, according to a briefing by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry last week.
Kan Interview

Interviewing Kan may be necessary to reach a conclusion on media reports that former Tepco President Masataka Shimizu requested to evacuate all employees from the plant following the disaster.

Tepco has denied it made that request, while Hatamura’s report said the company was planning a “partial evacuation.”

Hatamura was appointed by the government in May to lead an “impartial and multifaceted” investigation into the nuclear accident, the worst since Chernobyl in 1986.

He received his Ph.D. in industrial mechanical engineering from the University of Tokyo in 1973 and began studying human error after finding his students were more interested in how projects can go wrong, according to the publisher of his book “Learning from Failure.”

The Failure Knowledge Database that he set up has studies on more than 1,100 accidents, including a case study of Tokyo Electric and its falsification of nuclear plant maintenance records, which the utility admitted in 2002. The study concludes the faked reports resulted from lack of quality control and proper risk management.

Other members of Hatamura’s team include a former chief prosecutor, a retired chief judge, academics, a former diplomat, a radiology specialist, a writer and the mayor of a town in Fukushima prefecture.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tsuyoshi Inajima in Tokyo at; Stuart Biggs in Tokyo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Langan at
end quote.

When the accident happened and I posted data from the IAEA website on emissions from the Fukushima plant, one nuclear power worker in the US contacted, concerned that the figures were very high. He asked if I was sure the figures were correct.
He described his views of the procedures that would be taken locally in such an environment.

As to the complaint from readers that I focus on the past, apparently so does TEPCO and J Gov, who took weeks to even admit to the actual meltdowns. I get panned for mentioning Sr89 in a detailed history by readers who think Fukushima is now a health spa, while Sr89 and dozens of other fission products are found miles from the TEPCO “spas”.

I have no patience for people who insist that each incident involving the nuclear industry be seen as a separate, isolated and extremely rare event.

Light up a Camel, build another nuke plant, car accidents are the drivers’ sole responsiblity and air bags encourage dangerous driving???? The collapsible steering column was patented in 1948 by Vaxhall, a GM company. Tucker was run out of the car industry for introducing pop out windscreens, a padded dash and seat belts in the Tucker Torpedo.

In the same era people who pointed out the realities of reactors and their vulnerablities were labelled Communist ratbags, were defunded, lost university tenures, and had their passports taken away by their own governent. Some people don’t like history being discussed because of what it reveals about the constancy of the nature of nuclear industry.

Death does not result from every car crash. But people today walk away without being knee capped by glove box lids which popped open in minor bingles until Ralph Nader wrote his book about unsafe cars. His book on unsafe reactors very precisely describes the sequence of failures resultant from the nature of the fission process and the particular fission product kettles (reactors) used to boil water at Fukushima.

The history apparently is too shameful apparently to be repeated in print in the current era. Stuff that. It needs to be thought about. GE maintains the MkI is a great reactor. So do many nuke cultists. Cultists who want as many people as possible to have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to nuclear history.

UK Ministry of Defence reveals 15 radioactive UK sites resultant from World War 2

December 26, 2011

MoD reveals 15 radioactive UK sites

Current and former air and naval bases have been contaminated by second world war hardware, but the risks are unclear
Rob Edwards, Tuesday 20 December 2011 12.08 GMT

At least 15 sites across the UK have been contaminated by radioactivity from second world war military hardware, according to new disclosures by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

A dozen of the sites, which include current and former air and naval bases, have not been identified before by the MoD. Some are accessible to the public or are being developed for homes or businesses, though the potential risks are unclear.

The contamination comes from radium that was used to coat the dials of aircraft and other equipment so that they could be seen in the dark. It was in scrap burned and dumped in the 1940s and 1950s, and remains radioactive for thousands of years.

The contaminated sites include the old SAS headquarters at Stirling Lines in Hereford, a former naval air base near Portsmouth and a previous home to the Red Arrows in Gloucestershire.

The MoD has revealed the list of sites in response to a series of freedom of information requests in the wake of the discovery of dangerous levels of radium contamination at Dalgety Bay in Fife. It was home to a busy second world war air base.

In the past three months, 475 radioactive hotspots have been discovered on the foreshore near a public footpath and a popular sailing club. Several of the finds have been radioactive enough to cause skin burns, or to significantly increase cancer risks if swallowed.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency is now trying to force the MoD to pay for Dalgety Bay to be cleaned up. It has threatened to formally designate the foreshore as Britain’s first radioactively contaminated land.

But the MoD has so far been reluctant to make any commitment, partly because of the precedent it might set, experts say. Now it has revealed that there are a minimum of 12 previously unknown sites suffering “localised radium contaminated soil” due to “historical activities”.

These are in addition to Dalgety Bay, and two other sites in Carlisle and Stirling that have been reported before. The MoD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation says that some of the sites have been, or are in the process of being, remediated.

“For the remainder the potential risk is being managed through the use of appropriate site controls in accordance with MoD policy,” said an MoD spokesman.

Fred Dawson, who worked for the MoD for 31 years before he left as head of the radiation protection policy team in 2009, said the MoD had a “far from complete understanding of the extent and significance of radium contamination on the defence estate.”

The issue had dropped down the MoD’s agenda because of budget cuts, he argued. “This is in part due to the resources needed to go through old files, and the fear of what liabilities might be thrown up.”
end quote.

This is not a unique situation.

In the early 1970s the instrument fitters’ hut at 4 Base Workshop Royal Australian Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (RAEME), Bandiana, Victoria, was found to be contaminated with radium. The contamination was confined to the workbenches, tables and felt mats the instruments repaired luminous military instruments on. Part of the reconditioning of the instruments involved the removal of old radium paint and the application of new radium paint. The workers usually ate their lunch at these same workbenches. The work area was decontaminated and the contaminated benches etc were burnt.

I do not know the fate of the instrument fitters.

See previous posts regarding a female former soldier who cannot obtain her film badge records. She worked in a similar area at another Australian Army Base. See also previous posts regarding Tritium leaks (the replacement for radium paint) at Australian installations engaged in the repair of luminious military instruments and other equipment.

For Ric. The Age, “Every cloud has a Plutonium Lining”, Oct 2009

December 26, 2011

Every cloud had a plutonium lining

October 09 2002

Ric Johnstone

Ric Johnstone, a veteran of atomic bomb tests at Maralinga. The photo behind is a 15 kiloton detenation at Maralinga in 1956.

Fifty years ago this month, Britain began testing atom bombs in Australia. The tests left thousands of Australians with serious health problems, and those who are still alive are struggling to get compensation. Aidan Windle reports.

At 8am on October 3, 1952, Britain detonated its first atom bomb aboard the HMS Plym, which was anchored offshore of the Montebello Islands, 80 nautical miles off northern Western Australia. The 25kilogram nuclear fission device vaporised the Plym and its surroundings in a test codenamed Operation Hurricane.

It was the beginning of a series of 29 British nuclear tests in Australia and several South Pacific islands from 1952 to 1958, in which more than 22,000 British, 14,000 Australian and 500 New Zealand servicemen were involved.

The Menzies government supported the tests until 1957, when scientist Hedley Marston revealed that radioactive fallout was widespread. The tests were then moved from Maralinga to Christmas Island, where the last six explosions of the program took place.

During the tests, these servicemen and the many civilians who took part were exposed to ionising radiation that left many with serious and often lifethreatening health problems. Bill Paterson, 69, a stoker on board HMAS Karangi, took part in the ship’s mission to recover materials from around the Plym following Operation Hurricane. His home – among the wooded hills of Milgrove, east of Melbourne – is a long way from the desolate Monte Bello Islands, which members of the Karangi’s crew explored during recreation breaks.

Today, radiation contamination on the islands prohibits visits of longer than one hour. But back then, the crew spent extended periods of time feasting on fish caught near the nuclear test site – despite the fact that the fish had levels of radiation that would now be designated as unsafe.

“They told us you could just wash it off. But if the stuff’s inside you . . . ?” Paterson asks.

While his own health has thankfully been unaffected, Paterson feels betrayed for those many veterans who have died or are dying of radiationrelated illnesses.

“Somebody must have known how dangerous it was,” agrees Walter Diston. The 71yearold Vermont veteran served as a cook aboard HMAS Warrego, which surveyed the Monte Bello area after the explosion. “We were just doing the job – we didn’t think any more about it.”

Operation Hurricane was the first of Britain’s 21 bomb tests in Australia and on Christmas Island. Each blast spread radioactive fallout over areas up to 160 kilometres from ground zero. Atmospheric radiation levels increased throughout Australia and as far abroad as New Zealand and Fiji.

Local indigenous people were also at risk, as authorities made only token efforts to protect them from fallout. After the first nuclear test at Emu Field, in outback South Australia, a black mist of oily radioactive dust passed over Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara communities camped nearby. They reported deaths and sickness from the cloud and its noxious drizzle.

While scientific understanding about the dangers of radiation was less developed than today, many involved in the tests were not given even the most rudimentary of lessons in how to protect themselves because secrecy dictated that information be kept to the bare minimum required for workers to fulfil their tasks.

The Karrangi’s captain, Richard Taudevin, knew as little about radiation as Paterson, and he later died of cancer. Service personnel working under the scorching sun at desert test sites often shed their suffocating protective outfits, unaware that onemillionth of a gram of plutonium could cause cancer in anyone who inhaled it.

Perhaps the most sinister component of the testing program was experimentation into the ability of service personnel to endure the physical and psychological conditions of nuclear war.

Professor Sue Rabbitt Roff, from the University of Dundee, last year unearthed a document from the Australian National Archives confirming that Australian service personnel were deliberately exposed to radiation during the second test at Maralinga in 1956.

The British Government admitted that 24 of the 280 service personnel comprising a Commonwealth Indoctrination Force were ordered to march and crawl across radioisotopelaced dust and shrubbery.

But it has continually denied that troops were treated as guinea pigs, arguing that the tests were designed to examine what sort of protective clothing was most effective rather than assessing the damage inflicted by exposure to radioisotopes.

Ric Johnstone, 69, remembers the year he spent at Maralinga – 850 kilometres northwest of Adelaide – as a time of hardship. His job was to travel into the “hot” area around ground zero after each explosion during Operation Buffalo in 1956 and assess the damage and contamination to target response vehicles placed to gauge the bomb’s power.

When a bomb was detonated, most of the service personnel and civilians watched the awesome spectacle from a nearby compound. They turned their backs to the bomb and listened to a countdown. On zero they pressed their palms into their eyes.

“Your skull seemed to light up. The whole world was going up in a fireball,” Johnstone says.

There was a moment of silence before an extraordinary shudder and a blast of hot air that knocked many off their feet.

“It made you feel like an ant under a boot.”

Johnstone runs the Australian Nuclear Veterans’ Association (ANVA) from his home in Gosford, NSW. He wears the stubborn smile of an almost beaten soldier refusing to surrender.

What he is fighting to change is the fact that nuclear test veterans have been excluded from the health care and welfare provided to veterans of wartime, peacekeeping or hazardous operations under the Veterans’ Entitlement Act.

The surviving veterans of Britain’s nuclear tests in Australia in the 1950s have had to endure the terrible effects on their health over the years.

For example, Ric Johnstone has endured openheart surgery, a nervous disorder, a blood condition and has had his gall bladder removed.

A variety of musculoskeletal, skin and gastrointestinal problems are common in nuclear test veterans, although doctors are divided on the extent to which radiation is to blame. Cancer is the big killer.

Like many veterans he knows, Johnstone must have “half a pound of meat cut out” every six or so months to fend off carcinomas that he knows will some day overpower him. Hundreds of service personnel who suffered the devastating legacy of radiation contamination have died angry. Johnstone says veterans often call him from their deathbeds, one lamenting, “The fing government has killed me and now they won’t even give my wife anything”.

While the Australian Government offers compensation to nuclear test veterans for illness or injury through the Military Compensation and Rehabilitation Service, just nine of 358 claims to date have succeeded, while seven claims remain unresolved. Consequently, some veterans pursued their claims through the courts.

The British and Australian governments hold most nuclear test documentation and the onus of proof is on victims. Without medical records and personal radiation exposure measurements, victims have found it difficult to prove that their cancers were caused by the nuclear tests rather than other potential causes, such as poor diet or sun damage.

Johnstone won his compensation claim in the NSW Supreme Court in 1989, but only after a 17-year legal battle. He says each time the case was about to reach trial, his legal aid was withdrawn. A doctor’s report stating that he was suffering from radiation sickness clinched the case.

Many veterans believe that the stalling tactics employed by successive governments are designed to outlast them. If this is the case, then it is working. All the ANVA members with court cases pending have died. A vociferous body of 2000 ANVA members has withered to 600 as veterans have died or given up hope of receiving recognition and compensation for their service.

For his part, Johnstone was awarded $900,000, about $200,000 went to pay his legal costs. Just $20,000 was allocated for future loss of income, because, as he puts it, “they didn’t expect me to last long”.

Some widows of veterans have successfully claimed compensation. Peggy Jones was the first, receiving an $8600 lump sum under the Compensation (Australian Government Employees) Act in 1974. Her husband, Warrant Officer William Jones, died of cancer 13 years ago, after spending two days working near ground zero after an explosion as part of the Operation Totem nuclear tests at Emu Field, South Australia, in 1953.

Veterans have welcomed a planned study by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) into cancer and mortality and the nuclear tests. The study finally comes after years of calls for such an investigation from veterans who began to notice patterns of radiogenic maladies among their ranks several years after the tests.

Shadow veterans’ affairs minister Mark Bishop says the study has taken too long to get underway, particularly since many veterans are suffering from cancer. But a spokesman for Veterans’ Affairs Minister Danna Vale says the Howard Government is the first government to respond to the nuclear test veterans’ concerns.

Meanwhile, the DVA is awaiting the report of the Independent Committee to Review Veterans’ Entitlements, due in midNovember. The review received more than 100 submissions for health and welfare support for nuclear test veterans like that available to war veterans and their families.

After their decadeslong struggle for recognition of their service and its legacy, nuclear test veterans are hoping the findings will deliver symbolic justice in the survivors’ final years.

Aidan Windle is a Melbourne writer.

see also

The Passing of Ric Johnstone, President of the Australian Nuclear Veterans Association, Christmas Day, 2011

December 26, 2011

email from Major (retired) Alan and Marion Batchelor:

Dear Friends,

It is with deep regret that we let you know of the death of Ric Johnstone (President of ANVA), yesterday afternoon Christmas day, at the Tarragal House Nursing Home, Erina.

No other details are known at this stage pending the arrival of his son, Ron, from Queensland.

Kind regards,

Alan and Marion Batchelor.

end quote.

ric johnstone
Ric Johnstone. Photo credit: The Daily Telegraph

Ric presented the case for nuclear veterans and victims without fear and with endless energy and great emotional and rational investment.

Though he was one of the very few veterans in Australia to attain some justice through successful action, he did not rest upon his own favour. Rather, he invested his life to the welfare of others, increasingly widows of veterans and their children. He never ceased explaining the case for the veterans and the case against the authorities.

Though Australia is a large country, with veterans thinly spread far and wide, and possessing diverse views, all will miss Ric badly for his total dedication to the cause. A cause made more urgent by the day.

Until nuclear veterans are fully acknowledged, the decisions of government will be made upon a false premise.

The nuclear tests constituted hazardous war-like duty, in which personnel prepared for and trained within a nuclear battlefield.

Ric entered hot zones shortly after bomb detonations, to recover target response vehicles. His duties included steamcleaning of contaminated vehicles, and for many years was the sole survivor of his squad. The direct memory of the futility of steam cleaning vehicles – forcing hot particles deeper into cracks, creases and crevices of vehicles and machines, some of which were later sold to the general public, remained with him. It was one of the many subjects he discussed with me.

A person of deep conviction, he was fearless in his expression of his views. Though rendered a civilian by nuclear service induced illness, he conducted himself over many years with the bearing any serving soldier would be expected to display. This standard of discipline marks both the standard of the Association he headed and the policies it pursued in the fight for justice.

His public statements were clear and informed. Though in contest with authorities, his statements always conveyed respect for elected leadership. This, even though many politiicians, who thought they knew it all, did not and do not behave with the same military standard bearing Ric held has a personal and intrinsic trait. His contempt for the the suppression of truth was long standing.

I am greatly saddened. Ric and I assisted the Indigenous Section of the South Australian Museum mount a Maralinga nuclear test display a few years ago. Apart from phone calls and emails, this was the first and only time I met him. His knowledge, humour, resources and networks enabled the display to be a memorable and important event which helped inform a younger generation of South Australians of their real history. It helped Australia’s nuclear victims validate their varied experiences and memories. Something authorities would rather not occur. As a result of that Museum display, Ric was invited to a radio interview at the ABC. At the last moment he told me I was participating as well. He insisted. I will transcribe the recording of that interview as soon as I can. It is his words, his record, his memories forged through his witness and insight which are important. And will remain forever important.

I will miss you Ric and so will everyone else. We will carry on.

Ric suffered at the time of the tests – abnormal blood changes, vomitting and so on. He then suffered heart disease which required the insertion of stents in the arteries of his heart. These stents eroded abnormally rapidly, surprising his doctors with the unusual reaction of his immune system. In an attempt to lengthen the life of the stents, eventually stents coated with medical radioistopes were inserted. Amazing the doctors, these stents were rapidly and severely attacked by his immune system, in complete contradiction to their expectations. Like many, many nuclear veterans, Ric suffered from the time of his nuclear service until the time of his death.

Ric’s service at Maralinga in the 1950s changed his life. He made the best of the situation of injustice he found himself in.
Though acknowledging the lies told over decades by nuclear authorities and elected politicians, Ric remained convinced that oil wars and other resource wars were a major threat – threats any service person or veteran would be well aware of. Service personnel have a life and death interest in trends which cause war. And Ric’s views, as he and I discussed them and exchanged views, were deeply rooted in the hope for a peaceful future.

Ric hoped for a safe nuclear industry and shared the common sense view that nuclear veterans suffered the fission gamma and neutron bomb bursts as well as fallout. Forced to live in canvas tents in harsh conditions, Ric and his cohort at Maralinga watched the English leadership have their air conditioned caravans washed down daily. The troops might bang the top of their tents to raise a cloud of Maralinga dust from the canvas. It’s all very well for the leadership to claim that they “were hale and hearty” after the bombings of Australia. It’s certainly not true of the veterans and affected civilians.

We have lost a fearless fighter for the truth and rights of the victims of the British nuclear bombing of Australia. A fighter who helped many. The help came in many forms, and came no matter what.

Ric’s contribution to the Howard Government’s Atomic Test Health Survey Consultative Forum was tireless, and though unhappy with many aspects, presented his views aiming for the best possible outcome possible. Alan Batchelor and others continues the fight to correct the errors in the official view which came from the snowball tossed into the proceedings by government agents.

The primary complaint being the lack of accurate dosimetry and the official ignorance of the internal contamination of veterans. Particularly from plutonium and other substances from the so called minor trials in which disarmed nuclear weapons were cooked, smashed into concrete walls in speeding railway train carriages, and blown up with TNT. These activities spread plutonium over wide areas both inside and outside the designated nuclear test areas. The resultant bomb Britain produced, the Blue Danube was obselete and out of service by the early 1960s. A lot of suffering caused for little effect. An arrogant effort to duplicate already existing weaponry. Had the USSR done to Maralinga, Emu Field and Monte Bello what the British and Australian governments did, it would have started a war and the victims would have been hailed heroes instead of being denied, hidden, given false diagnosis, suffer the “loss” of their film badges and medical records and labelled subversive and threatened, at one stage, with penalties for speaking. Ric always had a lot on his plate, as do all nuclear veterans and their families.

Ric’s gone Home, and he has been welcomed by his mates who have been waiting for him for many earthly decades in that better place.

Bye mate.

I would ask the Australian Government again: release the Maralinga hospital records in full to the families affected. Release the data in name redacted form to the people of Australia, the people who have a right to know and the people who elected you and pay you to do your duty. The Maralinga Hospital records are not lost as the government claims. They are hidden.

Ric did his duty for free. And it was a duty which came with a cost. His was a long and courageous march toward the objectives of justice and truth. He will not be forgotten.

Paul Langley

Ric’s voice: An interview with Ric on Adelaide ABC radio 891 in May 2005, talking about the nuclear tests
and the Museum Exhibition (Mediafire .Wav file download 112mb audio):

South Australian Museum flyer promoting the Maralinga Exhibition Ric helped produce:

A few photos from the Museum Display:
Ric obtained this authentic Maralinga radiation suite which workers often found impossible to breath in during heavy work in the desert heat. They weren’t issued to everyone. Test blasts were witnessed by people often wearing shorts and little else.



(I have not presented photos of Aboriginal artwork depicting the bombs and the contaminated ground for copyright reasons, nor have I presented photos of Aboriginal bomb witness survivors for cultural and privacy reasons.)