57 Years since Maralinga: Australia’s uranium fuelling disaster since the 1950s

MaralingaDespite claims to the contrary, Aboriginal people did wander through radiated lands. They camped in fresh craters, to keep warm and to trap rabbits blinded by cobalt pellets. When discovered, they were compulsorily showered, their finger nails scrubbed with soap. The women suffered miscarriages. They were herded in trucks or pushed onto trains, expelled from a sacred site at Ooldea, a day’s walk from Maralinga airport. Alice Cox — at 87, the oldest survivor of the tests — remembers it well. “Soldiers everywhere. Guns. We all cry, cry, cryin’. Men, women and children, all afraid.” 
John Keane, “Maralinga’s afterlife” The Age May 11, 2003i

57 years ago today, uranium from the Northern Territory was used in the One Tree nuclear test at Maralinga in South Australia. The 12.9 kiloton bomb dropped on Maralinga-Tjaratja land was similar in size to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.Fallout from Maralinga nuclear tests dispersed over most of Australia, reaching Townsville in the north and Lismore in the east. The people of the land and those exposed have never been compensated.

2 years ago, uranium from the Australia fuelled the ongoing nuclear disaster at Fukushima. As the crisis continues to unfold, evacuees face a life of displacement and uncertainty, while environmental impacts remain incalculable.

Despite the misery caused by our uranium, one year ago, Premier Newman reneging on a pre-election commitment, announced that he would allow uranium mining to go ahead in Queensland. 

Today, Maralinga serves as a reminder of the real risks posed by a uranium industry in this state. 

Uranium is a radioactive heavy metal, the mining of which exposes those involved and the environment to radiological hazards and contamination. Water used in mining is rendered radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years making it unusable for human consumption and toxic to plant and animal life. Uranium mines in Queensland could threaten significant waterways such as Settlement Creek and the Great Artesian Basin.

Australia’s uranium legacy already includes: nuclear weapons, nuclear meltdowns, water way contamination and radiation exposure of workers.

It is time to learn the lessons from the past. Leave Queensland uranium in the ground.

For more information:

Read the report “High Risk, Low Return” the case against uranium mining in Queensland” http://www.brisbane.foe.org.au/uploads/1/4/1/7/14174316/highcost-lowreturn-uinqld.pdf

Contact: Robin Taubenfeld Friends of the Earth Brisbane 0411 118 737

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