“Death Ash Rains on Betrayed Men” Couier Mail Queensland 24 Feb 13

Thanks to David Noonan for passing this one along.

…As late as 2010 it was confirmed at least one contaminated Royal Australian Air Force Lincoln bomber was buried at Amberley base….
‘Death ash’ rains on betrayed men

by:Terry Sweetman
From: The Sunday Mail (Qld)
February 24, 201312:00AM

KILL ZONE: Japanese fishermen were fatally affected by US nuclear testing on Bikini Atoll in 1946. Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)
ONE of the great ironies of history is that the Japanese fishing boat that took 23 men into the fiery breath of America’s first hydrogen bomb was called the Lucky Dragon No 5.
That was on March 1, 1954, which is ancient history to most Australians, but there is a tragic echo right here and right now.
Lucky Dragon was fishing off Bikini Atoll, outside the declared danger zone, when the Castle Bravo thermonuclear device was detonated.
Oops. The blast was about twice as powerful as the boffins had calculated and the Lucky Dragon was showered with radioactive dust, which the Japanese poetically called death ash.
Soon the fishermen began to suffer nausea, pain and skin inflammation and, in September, radio operator Kuboyama Aikichi died.
It was a shocking incident but more shocking was the initial cover-up and official disinformation.
The Atomic Energy Commission initially indulged in some scientific hair-splitting to deny radiation was the problem and said the ship was deliberately inside the danger zone and even claimed the boat was a Russian spy ship. Eventually the US paid some miserable compensation.
The connection? Well, by 1954 no one could deny the dangers of radioactivity, something scientists and victims have known since the bombs were dropped on Japan nine years earlier. Now, the Lucky Dragon headlines guaranteed even Joe Blow knew of this invisible killer.
Yet, Britain continued to test atomic weapons in Australia right up until 1963 with safety precautions that did not reflect the state of contemporary scientific knowledge.
With the enthusiastic connivance of the Australian Government (more precisely, prime minister Robert Menzies, who bypassed his cabinet), the British detonated about a dozen nukes in our backyard. More than 8000 servicemen were involved in the tests and the measures for their safety were perfunctory at best and criminal at worst.
Claims have been made that they wore cotton uniforms while British scientists were rigged out in radiation suits, that they were asked to walk (even crawl) through the nuclear zone, handle contaminated equipment and fly through the fallout.
As late as 2010 it was confirmed at least one contaminated Royal Australian Air Force Lincoln bomber was buried at Amberley base.
And, it seems, subsequently many of the Australian servicemen were buried and largely forgotten.
A 2006 report commissioned by the Australian Government showed those working at the Maralinga and Emu Field testing sites were 23 per cent more likely to develop cancer than the general population, and 18 per cent more likely to die from cancer than the general population.
But, strangely, it concluded it was impossible to determine if that was due to exposure to radiation. Well, it surely wasn’t because of pixie dust.
Now 300 survivors are hoping for compensation through the Human Rights Commission, claiming their government knowingly exposed them to radiation by ordering them to take part in the tests.
What is it with governments that they are so profligate with the lives of citizens but so parsimonious when it comes to compensation?
Men and women sent to war, often with dubious justification, invariably end up fighting for their rights.
And now men who served at home in the cause of what was perceived as national security are struggling for recognition six decades after the event. Men who were cynically and carelessly exposed to a recognised threat were sent into danger as surely as any who served their country.
They trusted their government but the miserable response shows that trust was betrayed.
Oddly, the Lucky Dragon is now a museum ship and will probably be remembered long after Australia forgets its nuclear veterans

One Response to ““Death Ash Rains on Betrayed Men” Couier Mail Queensland 24 Feb 13”

  1. CaptDCaptD Says:

    Far too much has been swept under the Nuclear Rug…

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