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Thread: British Nuclear Testing in Australia

  1. #111

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    Jun 2010
    Penguin. Tasmania.
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    Re: British Nuclear Testing in Australia

    This the first of a series of three articles which covers the experiences of American servicemen

    Conspiracy of silence: Veterans exposed to atomic tests wage final fight

    Published: June 16, 2019

    This is the first part of a three-part series looking at the plight of veterans exposed to atomic radiation testing. The second part detailed the multiple types of exposure vets have had to endure. The third was about how the dangerous cleanup scarred troops for life.

    WASHINGTON – When Lincoln Grahlfs reported to Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in California, he was suffering from a strange abscess on his face, a 103-degree fever and an abnormal white blood cell count.

    The symptoms demanded an unorthodox treatment: A doctor shot the Navy sailor’s face with X-rays with only a shield to cover his eyes.

    Soon after, the abscess cleared.

    “That was the hair of the dog that bit you,” the doctor told him.

    It was the spring of 1947. Grahlfs believed he heard a coded message in the doctor’s words: He knew servicemembers were getting sick from a massive, secret U.S. government project.

    In his 20s, the petty officer first class participated in Operation Crossroads in the Pacific Ocean, the first U.S. atomic bomb tests since the nuclear weapon attacks of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

    Over the next seven decades, more mysterious illnesses surfaced for Grahlfs and the generations who followed.
    “We were experimental subjects who did not give our advised consent to be experimental subjects,” said Grahlfs, 96, a retired sociology professor and author of the book “Voices From Ground Zero: Recollections and Feelings of Nuclear Test Veterans.”

    At least 200,000 U.S. troops participated in the tests and cleanup operations during World War II and later in the Pacific Ocean, the Nevada desert, New Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. They took the human brunt of deadly ionizing radiation that contaminated nearby lands, water and communities.

    Even today, the wide-ranging implications of hundreds of tests conducted from the 1940s until the 1960s and cleanup operations that followed in the late 1970s has yet to be fully understood. In all, the U.S. has conducted more than 900 such tests.

    Until 1996, the atomic vets were sworn to silence, forced to keep their burdens from their families, their friends and doctors. They had limited records and medical help for their illnesses, and faced a threat of prison if they revealed the secret too soon.

    The full article may be read @ the link

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  3. #112

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    Jun 2010
    Penguin. Tasmania.
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    Re: British Nuclear Testing in Australia

    This a short audio broadcast [16 minutes] from ABC Australia.

    [SIZE=2Uncovering the secrets of Australia's outback atomic experiments] [/SIZE]

    Only a few short years after World War II ended, with the horrific powers of the atom bomb still fresh in everyone's minds, Britain looked at the wide open spaces of Australia's outback as the perfect place to conduct their nuclear weapons tests.

    For more than a decade, Maralinga was the site of hundreds of experiments affecting the local indigenous people, military personnel working at the site and the landscape itself. Phil Clark heard the story from Professor Deborah Gare from the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle

    Duration: 16min 42sec

    Broadcast: Mon 14 Oct 2019, 10:00pm

    Listen @

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  5. #113

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    Jun 2010
    Penguin. Tasmania.
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    Re: British Nuclear Testing in Australia

    Scottish MPs take up the case for nuclear test guinea pigs

    Scottish MPs have lambasted the British government for failing to pay recognition and compensation to thousands of British veterans who took part in *nuclear testing in Australia and the South Pacific in the 1950s and 60s.

    Scottish National Party MP George Adam raised the issue in the Holyrood while other veterans were being remembered this week on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.

    “British nuclear test veterans have been completely forgotten… by the nation and the United Kingdom government which carried out tests on them,’’ he said last week.

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    About 22,000 veterans were part of the UK Ministry of Defence atmospheric nuclear test program at Maralinga in South Australia, Montebello Islands off Western Australia and in Kiribati, then known as the Malden and Kiritimati Islands, in the Pacific. About 1500 of them are still alive.

    Despite court cases and pressure from veterans’ groups, the UK government has not accepted they were exposed to unacceptable health risks.

    “We are talking about a state that took young men in national service from one side of the world to the other and dropped a nuclear bomb on them to see how that worked out, how it affected them and how they could function on a nuclear battlefield, of all things,” Mr Adam said.

    “That is how simple the matter is. That seems to be complete madness to us. It feels barbaric in the 21st century, and it seems almost unbalanced for a state to do that. Who in the 1950s honestly thought that it was a good idea to drop a bomb on people? It is not as if the horrors of Hiroshima had not been seen or what could happen was not known.

    “However, those young servicemen were used as guinea pigs by an uncaring and distant government.’’

    Ken McGinley was a 19-year-old sapper building barracks on Kiritimati when at 10.05am on April 28, 1958, a RAF Valiant jet dropped a three-megaton bomb off the coast. McGinley was 35km from the explosion and, wearing just white overalls, was told to turn away and cover his eyes with clenched fists.

    He described seeing just his skeleton when the flash of the bomb occurred and felt immense heat on the back of his neck similar to a three bar heater.

    Mr McGinley was then ordered to kill the birds injured by the explosion. “Some were still flying around but they were blind as their eyes had been burnt out. We used pickaxe handles to kill the birds. I did not like doing this but we had no choice because of the terrible condition they were in.”

    Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart said he had seen the radiation burns of one of his constituents. “They are quite horrific and he has had to go through a lot in his life,’’ he said. “He said to me that other countries have compensated their nuclear test victims, but the UK has not, which he feels is unjust.’’

    The Scottish parliament heard that in 2001 evidence was uncovered by researcher Sue Rabbitt Roff of the University of Dundee that troops had been instructed to walk across the sites within hours of detonation, exposing themselves to radioactive materials.

    SNP MP Kenneth Gibson said that evidence of harm to veterans and their families was compelling. Two thirds of British Nuclear Test Veterans Association members had died before the age of 60. A 1999 study by Dr Roff found that of 2261 children born to veterans, 39 per cent were born with serious medical conditions — 14 times the national figure of 2.5 per cent.

    Scottish Veterans Minister Graeme Dey said studies had not settled whether UK personnel had their health detrimentally affected. The MoD has been undertaking a fourth study that could be published next year.

    “I understand entirely if the veterans concerned and their families feel that they have had enough of studies, and that the undertaking of such is a delaying tactic. Nonetheless, in a few months’ time, we should have a clearer picture, and we will, it is hoped, be embarking on a process that will offer those veterans some long-overdue degree of closure.’’

    Jacquelin Magnay

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