When it comes to the truth about radiation and health effects, there are no experts who are honest - not in government, not in science, not anywhere. Yet, people would rather listen to liars than challenge their assumptions about the sources of the so-called truth and disregard the purveyors of actual truth on this topic: the non-creditialed self-taught. - Andrew Kishner, May 18, 2013
You are reading from a free online e-book titled 'Deception, Cover-up and Murder in the Nuclear Age.' The book discusses the Trinity test, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hydrogen bomb testing fallout, U.S. experiments done on Marshall Islanders (Project 4.1), the Irene Allen trial, Cosmos 954, the Fukushima meltdowns, Three Mile Island updates, and so much more. Visit the Table of Contents to find this free content.
Footnotes are located at the end of each chapter - press the (right facing) 'PAGE' button icon until you reach the footnotes page, or locate it via the table of contents
|Chapter 14 - Environmental Dangers from Cold War Legacy Radiation - Dust storms||
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From September 22 to 24, 2009, Australia's worst dust storm in 70 years carried debris from the continent's interior into the coastal cities, including Sydney, and onwards, on Sept. 24-25, to New Zealand. The storm was about 1,000 km long and 500 km wide. A second dust storm hit Syndey early on September 25 and Brisbane by evening of September 26 - it was smaller than the first storm and measured about 200 km wide. The winds from both storms may have carried plutonium particles1 and there were speculations in the blogosphere that even other radioactive substances, like uranium from open mines and DU from military operations, were lofted from the interior. An article by news.com.au on Sept. 25 titled 'Are the dust storms radioactive? Australian scientists study Aussie dust from New Zealand' mentioned that a team of scientists had assembled to determine if uranium dust from South Australia's massive Olympic Dam uranium mine might have ended up in the red dust that coated the Australian east coast and New Zealand. (Filmmaker David Bradbury told the Coober Pedy Regional Times on Sept. 25 that the red dust from the storms likely contained plutonium from the Maralinga test site and uranium dust and radon from BHP Bilton's Olympic Dam, which is currently planning to expand into an open-cut mine larger than Adelaide, which Bradbury says 'will be one of the, if not THE most environmentally criminal act of any mining company in the history of Australia.')
What is Maralinga? How did plutonium get there?
In the 1950s and 1960s, Australia was the host of a handful of U.K.-sponsored atmospheric nuclear tests and related nuclear experiments on the Montel Bello Islands (off the northwest coast) and at Emu Field and Maralinga, both located in the Great Victoria Desert in South Australia. At Maralinga2 between 1957 and 1963, the U.K. conducted several plutonium dispersal experiments, dubbed 'minor trials' (very similar to the ones conducted at the Nevada Test Site; see: safety experiments), which scattered radioactivity (tens of pounds of Plutonium 239) far and wide into the bush.
Through the 1990s, the Emu and Maralinga sites were physically blocked off by a 100-mile radius security zone, which might have been a good enough barrier for un-remediated (not cleaned up) nuclear sites but in reality is no match for a dust storm the size of several hurricanes. (If the same sized-radius were blocked off around the Nevada Test Site, it would force the evacuation of Las Vegas.)
Although the 'Maralinga Rehabilitation Project' - finished in 2000 - cleaned up some of the 'minor trial' plutonium, not all of the plutonium is cleaned up and the waste burial practices have been SERIOUSLY3 called into question mostly because the plutonium was buried only 3 to 4 meters deep. Australia's Senator Lyn Allison noted in 2003: "No matter how many reports are produced, the fact of the matter is that 22kg of plutonium is buried in simple, unlined earth trenches, some of it just a couple of metres below the surface." The Sunday Age article titled "Agenda - Maralinga's Afterlife" on May 11, 2003, stated that: 'The vitrification method was abandoned by MARTAC three-quarters of the way through the project, in favour of the much cheaper trench-method. Most of the waste - including broken-up vitrified material - was then buried in unlined pits covered with just three metres of clean soil. The rest was left on the desert surface. As a result, an area the size of metropolitan London - 300 square kilometres - remains infected with lethal plutonium that will stay active for a quarter of a million years.' That section of land is dubbed the 'North West Plume,' located northwest of Taranaki and contaminated largely from the 'Vixen B' trials (see footnote 2).
On December 30, 2008, Australians learned that thousands of square kilometers of the ocean also became the repository for some of the Maralinga plutonium. The expiration of a '30-year rule' of secret Cabinet government documents in late 2008 revealed information that plutonium cleaned off the desert floor in the late 1970s at Maralinga by the British cleanup operation had 'probably' been dumped in the ocean! The Australian government kept mum on the issue and location of Britain's secret final resting place - the ocean - as part of a 1978 'plea bargain' over cleanup issues. All told, the British took about 0.5 kilograms of plutonium and 20 kilograms of debris-mixed radioactive waste into the seas. (Engines from air force bombers that flew through the nuclear test radioactive clouds - and later dismantled - also were dumped in the oceans.)
Australian authorities have denied there is any radiological health problem with the red dust: The Australian wrote in their September 26 article titled 'You call that a dust storm..?' that the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) told them regarding the first dust storm 'that health problems from the Maralinga dust specifically were not expected, though the Bureau of Meteorology said those grains would have carried across to Sydney.' ARPANSA acting chief executive Peter Burns noted: 'The dilution between that dust and all other dust is such that any radioactive material would be pretty small compared to the total volume. Generally, even right there (at Maralinga) in a dust storm, you don't pick up enough dust to cause serious problems.'
Although it is commendable that ARPANSA acknowledged that radioactive material was in the red dust that coated most of the populated areas in Australia and New Zealand, ARPANSA's Burns is saying more to allay fears than educating Australians about the consequences of their actual radiation exposure to the dust.
Even if the winds significantly diluted and reduced the concentration of the Maralinga soil-laden plutonium in the red-dusty air, it will still be extremely toxic because it takes just one millionth of a gram of plutonium to deliver a lethal dose and even more minute quantities (billionths of a gram) might induce cancer. Theoretically, even a single atom (particle) of plutonium has the ability, from its extremely strong alpha radiation (like a very strong, mini X-ray machine), to produce free radicals and alter DNA in our body's cells - both are precursors to cancerous growth.
Since any population exposure to radiation increases the risk of cancer in a population, the dispersion of plutonium dust from Maralinga over thousands of miles of populated Australia has increased Aussie's cancer burden. To what extent can be determined by how much dust entered water and food supplies, and also directly into human bodies, and the population's collective immunological strength.
The hand of plutonium from the red dust can reach all corners of the world. If Australian vintage 2009 wine has a uniquely metallic odor, then it might be from the radioactive dust that coated wine grapes. Then, the bioaccumulation of plutonium traveling (and concentrating) up the food chain in late 2009 from plankton to humans (eating Pacific Rim seafood) might trigger a wave of new cancers.
Finally, ARPANSA's Burns commented that even a dust storm won't pick up enough radioactive dust to cause problems, yet the winds from the first dust storm reached speeds of over 100 km per hour (62 mph) (Reuters noted on 9.23.09: 'A severe thunderstorm with 100 km per hour (60 miles per hour) plus winds formed in South Australia state on Monday and began whipping up dust from drought-hit outback lands.') Richard Miller, who has studied fallout patterns from U.S. nuclear testing, noted on his personal blog that at the Nevada Test Site radioactive soils can be relocated up to 5 miles at wind speeds of less than 50 miles per hour (80 km/hr). Wind speeds over 50 mph (80km/hr) can send radioactive dust just about anywhere, and certainly the wind-speeds in South Australia met that criteria. The climate at Maralinga is such that gusts during dust storms, based on recordings made during 12 days of dust storm activity from 1957 to 1966, can range from 90km/h to 125km/h. (p. 6, 'Rehabilitation of the former nuclear test sites at Emu and Maralinga (Australia) 2003).
Apparently, winds of just 40 km/hr were successful at re-suspending dust in Taranaki and halted clean-up operations during a dust storm in 1996 :
(Picture from page 335 of report titled 'Rehabilitation of the former nuclear test sites at Emu and Maralinga (Australia) 2003'; link (26.9 MB) Also, see 'Plutonium resuspension and airborne dust loadings in the desert environment of Maralinga, South Australia' published in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity (Volume 20, Issue 2, 1993, Pages 117-131) regarding resuspension of plutonium particles during dust storms.)
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