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Australia’s nuclear bomb test site – touted as tourist site, but it’s still radioactive

‘Yes, there is still radiation here’, Gulf News 4 May 18 , Australia’s least likely tourist spot: a test site for atom bombs  “……..

“Yes, there is still radiation here,” Robin Matthews (  Australia’s only nuclear tour guide) said as he drove a minibus to the sites where the Australian and British governments dropped seven bombs between 1956 and 1963, which dotted the earth with huge craters and poisoned scores of indigenous people and their descendants.

Back then, the government placed hundreds of human guinea pigs — wearing only shorts and long socks — in the front areas of the test zones. The effects of large doses of radiation were devastating…….

Today, just four people live full time in Maralinga village, a veritable ghost town. Amid the old buildings are new lodgings built for tourists, complete with hot water and Wi-Fi.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, at the height of the Cold War, 35,000 military personnel lived here.

The first nuclear test was conducted in September 1956, two months before the Melbourne Olympics.

That blast — as powerful as the bomb that the US dropped on Hiroshima — was the first of seven atom bombs set off here.  But it was the so-called minor tests that were the most harrowing. Carried out in secret, the tests examined how toxic substances, including uranium and plutonium 239, would react when burnt or blown up.

….. Around one area tourists can visit are 22 major pits, each at least 15 metres deep and cased in reinforced concrete to prevent dangerous radiation from seeping out.

The site looks like a recently tilled garden bed, stretching out for hundreds of yards, in a near perfect circle. Dotting the red desert earth are shards of twisted metal. Aside from a few feral camels loping nearby, it is still and silent.

But on October 4 1956, a “nuclear landmine” was detonated here, tearing a crater 40 metres wide and 21 metres deep into the earth.

‘This is their land’

The resulting atomic reaction took only a fraction of a second, but its effects on one indigenous family would last decades. Survivors of the blasts, their children and grandchildren suffered from cataracts, blood diseases, arthritic conditions, stomach cancers and birth defects…….https://gulfnews.com/news/asia/australia/yes-there-is-still-radiation-here-1.2216400

 

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May 7, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, weapons and war

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