Archive for the ‘weapons and war’ Category

America’s weapons have poisoned huge areas with their toxic wastes

July 24, 2017

More than three decades ago, Congress banned American industries and localities from disposing of hazardous waste in these sorts of “open burns,’’ concluding that such uncontrolled processes created potentially unacceptable health and environmental hazards.

That exemption has remained in place ever since, even as other Western countries have figured out how to destroy aging armaments without toxic emissions.

Federal environmental regulators have warned for decades that the burns pose a threat to soldiers, contractors and the public stationed at, or living near, American bases.

“They are not subject to the kind of scrutiny and transparency and disclosure to the public as private sites are,”

How The Pentagon’s Handling Of Munitions And Their Waste Has Poisoned America
Many nations have destroyed aging armaments without toxic emissions. The U.S., however, has poisoned millions of acres.
Huffington Post,  20/07/2017 Co-published with ProPublica  20 July 17 RADFORD, Va. — Shortly after dawn most weekdays, a warning siren rips across the flat, swift water of the New River running alongside the Radford Army Ammunition Plant. Red lights warning away boaters and fishermen flash from the plant, the nation’s largest supplier of propellant for artillery and the source of explosives for almost every American bullet fired overseas.

 Along the southern Virginia riverbank, piles of discarded contents from bullets, chemical makings from bombs, and raw explosives — all used or left over from the manufacture and testing of weapons ingredients at Radford — are doused with fuel and lit on fire, igniting infernos that can be seen more than a half a mile away. The burning waste is rich in lead, mercury, chromium and compounds like nitroglycerin and perchlorate, all known health hazards. The residue from the burning piles rises in a spindle of hazardous smoke, twists into the wind and, depending on the weather, sweeps toward the tens of thousands of residents in the surrounding towns.

Nearby, Belview Elementary School has been ranked by researchers as facing some the most dangerous air-quality hazards in the country. The rate of thyroid diseases in three of the surrounding counties is among the highest in the state, provoking town residents to worry that emissions from the Radford plant could be to blame. Government authorities have never studied whether Radford’s air pollution could be making people sick, but some of their hypothetical models estimate that the local population faces health risks exponentially greater than people in the rest of the region.

 More than three decades ago, Congress banned American industries and localities from disposing of hazardous waste in these sorts of “open burns,’’ concluding that such uncontrolled processes created potentially unacceptable health and environmental hazards. Companies that had openly burned waste for generations were required to install incinerators with smokestacks and filters and to adhere to strict limits on what was released into the air. Lawmakers granted the Pentagon and its contractors a temporary reprieve from those rules to give engineers time to address the unique aspects of destroying explosive military waste.
That exemption has remained in place ever since, even as other Western countries have figured out how to destroy aging armaments without toxic emissions. While American officials are mired in a bitter debate about how much pollution from open burns is safe, those countries have pioneered new approaches. Germany, for example, destroyed hundreds of millions of pounds of aging weapons from the Cold War without relying on open burns to do it.

In the United States, outdoor burning and detonation is still the military’s leading method for dealing with munitions and the associated hazardous waste. It has remained so despite a U.S. Senate resolution a quarter of a century ago that ordered the Department of Defense to halt the practice “as soon as possible.” It has continued in the face of a growing consensus among Pentagon officials and scientists that similar burn pits at U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan sickened soldiers.

Federal records identify nearly 200 sites that have been or are still being used to open-burn hazardous explosives across the country. Some blow up aging stockpile bombs in open fields. Others burn bullets, weapons parts and — in the case of Radford — raw explosives in bonfire-like piles. The facilities operate under special government permits that are supposed to keep the process safe, limiting the release of toxins to levels well below what the government thinks can make people sick. Yet officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, which governs the process under federal law, acknowledge that the permits provide scant protection.

Consider Radford’s permit, which expired nearly two years ago. Even before then, government records show, the plant repeatedly violated the terms of its open burn allowance and its other environmental permits. In a typical year, the plant can spew many thousands of pounds of heavy metals and carcinogens — legally — into the atmosphere. But Radford has, at times, sent even more pollution into the air than it is allowed. It has failed to report some of its pollution to federal agencies, as required. And it has misled the public about the chemicals it burns. Yet every day the plant is allowed to ignite as much as 8,000 pounds of hazardous debris.

“It smells like plastic burning, but it’s so much more intense,” said Darlene Nester, describing the acrid odor from the burns when it reaches her at home, about a mile and a half away. Her granddaughter is in second grade at Belview. “You think about all the kids.”

Internal EPA records obtained by ProPublica show that the Radford plant is one of at least 51 active sites across the country where the Department of Defense or its contractors are today burning or detonating munitions or raw explosives in the open air, often in close proximity to schools, homes and water supplies. The documents — EPA PowerPoint presentations made to senior agency staff — describe something of a runaway national program, based on “a dirty technology” with “virtually no emissions controls.” According to officials at the agency, the military’s open burn program not only results in extensive contamination, but “staggering” cleanup costs that can reach more than half a billion dollars at a single site.

The sites of open burns — including those operated by private contractors and the Department of Energy — have led to 54 separate federal Superfund declarations and have exposed the people who live near them to dangers that will persist for generations.

In Grand Island, Nebraska, groundwater plumes of explosive residues spread more than 20 miles away from the Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant into underground drinking water supplies, forcing the city to extend replacement water to rural residents. And at the Redstone Arsenal, an Army experimental weapons test and burn site in Huntsville, Alabama, perchlorate in the soil is 7,000 times safe limits, and local officials have had to begin monitoring drinking water for fear of contamination.

Federal environmental regulators have warned for decades that the burns pose a threat to soldiers, contractors and the public stationed at, or living near, American bases. Local communities – from Merrimac, Wisconsin, to Romulus, New York – have protested them. Researchers are studying possible cancer clusters on Cape Cod that could be linked to munitions testing and open burns there, and where the groundwater aquifer that serves as the only natural source of drinking water for the half-million people who summer there has been contaminated with the military’s bomb-making ingredients……..

ProPublica reviewed the open burns and detonations program as part of an unprecedented examination of America’s handling of munitions at sites in the United States, from their manufacture and testing to their disposal. We collected tens of thousands of pages of documents, and interviewed more than 100 state and local officials, lawmakers, military historians, scientists, toxicologists and Pentagon staff. Much of the information gathered has never before been released to the public, leaving the full extent of military-related pollution a secret.

“They are not subject to the kind of scrutiny and transparency and disclosure to the public as private sites are,” said Mathy Stanislaus, who until January worked on Department of Defense site cleanup issues as the assistant administrator for land and emergency management at the EPA.

Our examination found that open burn sites are just one facet of a vast problem. From World War I until today, military technologies and armaments have been developed, tested, stored, decommissioned and disposed of on vast tracts of American soil. The array of scars and menaces produced across those decades is breathtaking: By the military’s own count, there are 39,400 known or suspected toxic sites on 5,500 current or former Pentagon properties. EPA staff estimate the sites cover 40 million acres — an area larger than the state of Florida — and the costs for cleaning them up will run to hundreds of billions of dollars.

The Department of Defense’s cleanups of the properties have sometimes been delegated to inept or corrupt private contractors, or delayed as the agency sought to blame the pollution at its bases on someone else. Even where the contamination and the responsibility for it are undisputed, the Pentagon has stubbornly fought the EPA over how much danger it presents to the public and what to do about it, letters and agency records show.

Chapter 1. Rules With Exceptions……..

Chapter 2. Debating the Dangers…….

Chapter 3. Awakening to Threats…….

Chapter 4. Risks and Choices…….   alternatives only seem to be deployed after communities have mobilized to fight the burning with a vigor that has proven elusive in many military towns. “Sometimes it’s easier for everybody to just lie low and keep doing what they are doing,” Hayes added. “Short term thinking is the problem. In the immediate, it costs them nothing to keep burning.”

The success in Louisiana could be the start of a shift in momentum. In the 2017 Defense Department funding bill, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, supported an amendment ordering the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate alternatives to open burning. ………

For Devawn Bledsoe, the foot dragging and decades of delay have led to profound disillusionment. For a long time, she thought her responsibility was to bring light to the issue. Now she thinks it takes more than that. “There’s something so immoral about this,” she said. “I really thought that when enough people in power — the Army, my Army — understood what was going on, they would step in and stop it.”

“It’s hard to see people who ought to know better look away.”

Nina Hedevang, Razi Syed and Alex Gonzalez, students in the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute graduate studies program, contributed reporting for this story. Other students in the program who also contributed were Clare Victoria Church, Lauren Gurley, Clare Victoria Church, Alessandra Freitas and Eli Kurland. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/open-burns-ill-winds_us_5970112de4b0aa14ea770b08

North Korea’s missiles tests in 2017: A timeline

July 24, 2017

 http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/north-koreas-missiles-tests-in-2017-a-timeline, 4 Jul 17 North Korea has conducted missile and nuclear weapons related activities at an unprecedented rate since the beginning of 2017 and is believed to have made some progress in developing intermediate-range and submarine-launched missiles.

Here’s a timeline of the missile launches and tests the regime is known to have carried out this year:

Feb 12, 2017: North Korea fires its first ballistic missile in 2017, in what is seen as a show of force against the leaders of the United States and Japan reaffirming their security alliance. The missile is believed to be a mid-range Rodong or something similar, flying 500km and landing in the East Sea, also known as Sea of Japan.

March 6, 2017: North Korea fires four ballistic missiles, with three falling into Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

April 16, 2017: North Korea fires an unidentified ballistic missile that explodes almost immediately after launch, defying warnings from the Trump administration to avoid any further provocations

April 29, 2017: In an apparent defiance of a concerted US push for tougher international sanctions to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons ambitions, the country test-fires a ballistic missile from the Pukchang region in a north-easterly direction. The missile reaches an altitude of 71 km before disintegrating a few minutes into flight.

May 14, 2017: Only four days after the inauguration of South Korea’s new leader Moon Jae In, North Korea fires a ballistic missile in an apparent bid to test the liberal president and the US, which have both signalled an interest in negotiations to ease months of tensions.

The missile flies for 700km and reaches an altitude of more than 2,000km before landing in the Sea of Japan or East Sea, further and higher than an intermediate-range missile North Korea successfully tested in February from the same region of Kusong, north-west of Pyongyang.

While the US Pacific Command says it does not appear to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, the successful launch of a mid-to-long range missile indicated a significant advance in North Korea’s drive for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), monitors say.

The North boasts that the launch is aimed at verifying the capability to carry a “large scale heavy nuclear warhead”.

May 22, 2017: North Korea launches medium-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2, Pyongyang’s state media reported, adding the weapon was now ready to be deployed for military action.

The test sparks a fresh chorus of international condemnation and threats of tougher United Nations sanctions.

May 29, 2017: North Korea fires at least one short-range ballistic missile that lands in the sea off its east coast. The missile is believed to be a Scud-class ballistic missile and flew about 450km. North Korea has a large stockpile of the short-range missiles, originally developed by the Soviet Union.

North Korea is likely showing its determination to push ahead in the face of international pressure to rein in its missile programme and “to pressure the (South Korean) government to change its policy on the North”, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Roh Jae Cheon said.

June 8, 2017: A volley of surface-to-ship cruise missiles are fired off North Korea’s east coast, less than a week after the United Nations expanded sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime in response to recent ballistic missile tests.

The short range missiles fly some 200km before falling into the Sea of Japan, says South Korea’s defence ministry.

June 22, 2017: North Korea conducts a “small rocket engine test on or around June 22, the respected 38 North analysis group says, after a US official reportedly suggested the test could be a step to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

It is not clear whether the test, conducted at the North’s Sohae satellite launch site, involved an ICBM engine.

July 4, 2017: Just days after South Korea President Moon Jae In and US President Donald Trump focused on the threat from Pyongyang in their first summit, North Korea fires a ballistic which flies for 930km and exceeds 2,500km in altitude in 40 minutes before falling into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Seoul and Tokyo say.

The US military says the missile is an intermediate range ballistic missile and does not pose a threat to North America, but analysts say the missile is able to reach Alaska.

SOURCES: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

Testing of USA nuclear warheads is held up, due to safety factors at Los Alamos laboratory

July 24, 2017

A separate Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board report in February detailed the magnitude of the shortfall:

Los Alamos’ dangerous work, it said, demands 27 fully qualified criticality safety engineers.

The lab has 10

Safety problems at a Los Alamos laboratory delay U.S. nuclear warhead testing and production A facility that handles the cores of U.S. nuclear weapons has been mostly closed since 2013 over its inability to control worker safety risks, Science,  By The Center for Public IntegrityR. Jeffrey SmithPatrick MalonJun. 30, 2017 

In mid-2013, four federal nuclear safety experts brought an alarming message to the top official in charge of America’s warhead production: Los Alamos National Laboratory, the nation’s sole site for making and testing a key nuclear bomb part, wasn’t taking needed safety precautions. The lab, they said, was ill-prepared to prevent an accident that could kill lab workers, and potentially others nearby.

Some safety infractions had already occurred at the lab that year. But Neile Miller, who was then the acting head of the National Nuclear Security Administration in Washington, says those experts specifically told her that Los Alamos didn’t have enough personnel who knew how to handle plutonium so it didn’t accidentally go “critical” and start an uncontrolled chain reaction.

Such chain reactions generate intense bursts of deadly radiation, and over the last half-century have claimed nearly two dozen lives. The precise consequences, Miller said in a recent interview, “did not need an explanation. You don’t want an accident involving criticality and plutonium.” Indeed, Miller said, criticality “is one of those trigger words” that immediately gets the attention of those responsible for preventing a nuclear weapons disaster.

With two of the four experts remaining in her Washington office overlooking the national mall, Miller picked up the phone and called the lab’s director, Charles McMillan, at his own office on the idyllic Los Alamos campus in the New Mexico mountains, where nuclear weapons work is financed by a federal payment exceeding $2 billion a year. She recommended that a sensitive facility conducting plutonium operations — inside a building known as PF-4 — be shut down, immediately, while the safety deficiencies were fixed.

McMillan, a nuclear physicist and weapons designer with government-funded compensation exceeding a million dollars a year, responded that he had believed the problems could be solved while that lab kept operating. He was “reluctant” to shut it down, Miller recalled. But as the call proceeded, he became open to her view that the risks were too high, she added. So on McMillan’s order, the facility was shut within a day, with little public notice.

In the secrecy-shrouded world of America’s nuclear weapons work, that decision had far-reaching consequences. (more…)

The financial institutions that provided $344 billion available to 27 nuclear weapon producing companies

July 24, 2017

Don’t Bank On The Bomb  Dec 2016 Briefing Paper.

United States 226 Financial Institutions made an estimated USD$ 344 billion available to 27 nuclear weapon producing companies since January 2013.

 Introduction This document contains country specific information from the 2016 Don’t Bank on the Bomb update. Hall of Fame and Runners-up include financial institutions with headquarters in the country that have published policies banning or limiting investment in nuclear weapons producers. Hall of Shame are the financial institutions that have significant financing relationships with one or more of the nuclear weapons producers identified in the report. There is also a brief summary of the nuclear weapons related work of each of the identified producers. For more detail, see the full report or go to the www.DontBankOnTheBomb.com website.

This briefing paper includes:

Introduction..………………………………………………………………….

1 Hall of Shame, lists 266 organisations ………………………………………………….

Nuclear weapon producing Companies 

The financial institutions identified include banks, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies and asset managers. They have provided various types of financial services to nuclear weapon companies including loans, investment banking and asset management.

All sources of financing provided since 1 January 2013 to the companies listed were analysed from annual reports, financial databases and other sources. The financial institutions which are most significantly involved in the financing of one or more nuclear weapon companies are shown here. See the full report for both a summary and full description of all financial institutions which are found to have the most significant financing relationships with one or more of the selected nuclear weapon companies, by means of participating in bank loans, by underwriting share or bond issues and/or by share- or bondholdings (above a threshold of 0.5% of all outstanding shares or bonds).

Figures presented are rounded up/down to the nearest dollar at the filing date. Commas (,) indicate thousands separators while periods (.) used as decimal points. For more information on loans, investment banking, and asset management, please refer to the website.

Hall of Shame

This section contains the results of our research into which financial institutions are financially involved with the nuclear weapon producing companies identified in the report. For the full methodology, see the website.

 

Each section provides the following information for each financial institution:

  • The types of financial relations which the financial institution has with one or more nuclear weapon companies (loans, investment banking and asset management).

 

Financial institution.    Amount in USD millions ……… [ list covers 5 pages] …….

 

 1.Academy Securities (United States) Academy Securities (United States) has made an estimated US$ 30 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013. Academy Securities (United States) underwrote bond issuances for an estimated amount of US$ 30 million to the nuclear weapon companies since January 2013 (see table below [on original] ). ..

  1. Adage Capital Management (United States) Adage Capital Management (United States) has made an estimated US$ 482 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013. Adage Capital Management (United States) owns or manages shares of the nuclear weapon companies for an amount of US$ 482 million (see table below). Only holdings of 0.50% or more of the outstanding shares at the most recent available filing date are included.  [table on original]
  2. Affiliated Managers Group (United States) Affiliated Managers Group (United States) has made an estimated US$ 1,426 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013.

 

  1. Affiliated Managers Group (United States) owns or manages shares of the nuclear weapon companies for an amount of US$ 1,426 million (see table below). Only holdings of 0.50% or more of the outstanding shares at the most recent available filing date are included.  [table on original]

 

  1. AJO (United States) AJO (United States) has made an estimated US$ 351 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013.

AJO (United States) owns or manages shares of the nuclear weapon companies for an amount of US$ 351 million (see table below). Only holdings of 0.50% or more of the outstanding shares at the most recent available filing date are included.  [table]

 

 6 Alyeska Investment Group (United States) Alyeska Investment Group (United States) has made an estimated US$ 143 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013.

 

Alyeska Investment Group (United States) owns or manages shares of the nuclear weapon companies for an amount of US$ 143 million (see table below, on original). Only holdings of 0.50% or more of the outstanding shares at the most recent available filing date are included.

 

  1. Amalgamated Bank of Chicago (United States) Amalgamated Bank of Chicago (United States) has made an estimated US$ 29 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013. Amalgamated Bank of Chicago (United States) provided loans for an estimated amount of US$ 29 million to the nuclear weapon companies (see table below on original ). The table shows all loans closed since January 2013 or maturing after August 2016

 

  1. American Automobile Association (United States) American Automobile Association (United States) has made an estimated US$ 4 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013. American Automobile Association (United States) owns or manages bonds of the nuclear weapon companies for an amount of US$ 4 million (see table below, on original). Only holdings of 0.50% or more of the outstanding bonds at the most recent available filing date are included.

 

  1. American Century Investments (United States) ……
  2. American Equity Investment Life Holding (United States)  …….
  3. American Family (United States) ……
  4. American Financial Group (United States)……
  5. American Financial Group (United States)………
  6. American National Insurance (United States)
  7. American United Mutual Insurance (United States)
  8. Ameriprise Financial (United States)
  9. Analytic Investors (United States)
  10. Anchor Bolt Capital (United States)
  11. Anthem (United States)
  12. Apto Partners (United States)
  13. AQR Capital Management (United States)
  14. Aristotle Capital Management (United States)
  15. Arrowstreet Capital (United States)
  16. Artisan Partners (United States)
  17. Associated Banc-Corp (United States)
  18. Assurant (United States)
  19. Auto-Owners Insurance (United States)
  20. Baird (United States)
  21. BancPlus (United States)
  22. Bank of America (United States) – funds a staggering number of weapons makers……
  23. Bank of New York Mellon (United States)
  24. Banner Bank (United States)
  25. BB&T (United States)
  26. Beck, Mack & Oliver (United States)
  27. Becker Capital Management (United States)
  28. Bessemer Group (United States)
  29. BlackRock (United States)
  30. Blaylock Beal Van (United States)
  31. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (United States)
  32. Blue Harbour Group (United States)
  33. Boston Private (United States)
  34. Cacti Asset Management (United States)
  35. California First National Bancorp (United States)
  36. Cantor Fitzgerald (United States)
  37. Capital Group (United States)
  38. Capital One Financial (United States)
  39. Carlson Capital (United States)
  40. Carlyle Group (United States)
  41. Cascade Bancorp (United States)
  42. CastleOak Securities (United States)
  43. CAVU Securities (United States)
  44. Central Mutual Insurance (United States)
  45. Central Pacific Financial Corporation (United States)
  46. Charles Schwab (United States)
  47. Chesapeake Partners Management (United States)
  48. Cigna (United States)
  49. Citadel (United States)
  50. Citigroup (United States) – huge no of weapons makers funded
  51. Citizens Bank & Trust (United States)
  52. Citizens Financial Group (United States)
  53. City National Corporation (United States)
  54. CL King & Associates (United States)
  55. CNO Financial Group (United States
  56. Comerica (United States)
  57. Cooper Creek Partners Management (United States)
  58. Corsair Capital Management (United States)
  59. Cuna Mutual Group (United States)
  60. D.E. Shaw & Co. (United States)
  61. Dimensional Fund Advisors (United States)

 

and so on………… to No. 226. Zeo Capital Advisors (United States)

 

Nuclear weapon producing Companies This report identifies 27 companies operating in France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States that are significantly involved in maintaining and modernising the nuclear arsenals of France, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. This is not an exhaustive list. These companies are providing necessary components and infrastructure to develop, test, maintain and modernise nuclear weapons. The contracts these companies have with nuclear armed countries are for materials and services to keep nuclear weapons in their arsenals. In other nuclear-armed countries –Russia, China, Pakistan and North Korea – the maintenance and modernization of nuclear forces is carried out primarily or exclusively by government agencies.  –   report goes on to list companies and their activities. …….

Naming the companies that make the nuclear arsenals

July 24, 2017

Don’t Bank On The Bomb  Dec 2016 Briefing Paper.

“…….Nuclear weapon producing Companies

This report identifies 27 companies operating in France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States that are significantly involved in maintaining and modernising the nuclear arsenals of France, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. This is not an exhaustive list. These companies are providing necessary components and infrastructure to develop, test, maintain and modernise nuclear weapons. The contracts these companies have with nuclear armed countries are for materials and services to keep nuclear weapons in their arsenals. In other nuclear-armed countries –Russia, China, Pakistan and North Korea – the maintenance and modernization of nuclear forces is carried out primarily or exclusively by government agencies.

Aecom (USA) Aecom provides professional technical and management support services and is part of joint ventures that manages the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), previously known as the Nevada Test Site, as well as Lawrence Livermore (LLNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL), key fixtures in the US nuclear weapons infrastructure.

Aerojet Rocketdyne (USA) Aerojet Rocketdyne, formerly known as GenCorp is involved in the design, development and production of land- and sea-based nuclear ballistic missile systems for the United States. It is currently producing propulsion systems for Minuteman III and D5 Trident nuclear missiles.

Airbus Group (The Netherlands) Airbus is a Dutch company that produces and maintains the M51.2 submarine-launched nuclear missiles for the French navy, it is also developing the M51.3. Through joint venture MBDA-Systems, Airbus is also providing medium-range air-to-surface missiles to the French air force.

BAE Systems (United Kingdom) BAE Systems is involved in the US and UK Trident II (D5) strategic weapons system programmes. It is also the prime contractor for the US Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) system. BAE Systems is also part of the joint venture providing medium-range air-to-surface missiles for France.

 Bechtel (USA) Bechtel manages the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories in the US, which play an important role in the research, design, development and production of nuclear weapons. It also leads the joint venture for management and operation of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee and the Pantex Plant in Texas.

Boeing (USA) Boeing is involved in the Minuteman III nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles in the US arsenal. It also provides the US and UK Trident II (D5) with maintenance, repair, and rebuilding and technical services.

BWX Technologies (USA) BWX Technologies (“BWXT”) formerly known as Babcock & Wilcox Company Babcock & Wilcox manages and through joint ventures operates several US nuclear weapons facilities including the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), previously known as the Nevada Test Site, each of which are engaged in various aspects of nuclear warhead modernisation.

Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (USA) Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (“Draper”) is the prime contractor for the Trident Life Extension (LE) boost guidance and is manufacturing the guidance system for the Trident missile system in use by the UK and the US.

CH2M Hill (USA) CH2M Hill is one of the joint venture partners in National Security Technologies (NSTec) that manages the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), previously known as the Nevada Test Site, a key fixture in the US nuclear weapons infrastructure.

Engility Holdings (USA) In February 2015, Engility acquired US-based TASC. It is involved in the research and development for the Solid Rocket Motor Modernization Study of the Minuteman III system for the US arsenal.

Fluor (USA) Fluor is the lead partner responsible for the management and operation of the US Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site and Savannah River National Laboratory, the only source of new tritium for the US nuclear arsenal.

General Dynamics (USA) General Dynamics provides a range of engineering, development, and production activities to support to US and UK Trident II Strategic Weapons Systems. It is also involved in the guidance systems of the Trident II (D5) nuclear missiles of the US Navy…

America’s most likely cities to be targeted in a nuclear attack

July 24, 2017

Here are the cities most likely to get struck in a nuclear attack by Russia, Business Insider ALEX LOCKIE, JUN 1, 2017 Ever since the Cold War, the US and Russia have drawn up plans on how to best wage nuclear war against each other — but while large population centres with huge cultural impact may seem like obvious choices, a smart nuclear attack would focus on countering the enemy’s nuclear forces.

Dismantling a nuclear weapon

July 24, 2017

How To Dismantle A Nuclear Weapon, Gizmodo, Terrell Jermaine Starr and Jalopnik, May 24, 2017 Dismantling the world’s 15,000 nuclear weapons is one the most important geopolitical challenges humanity faces. That number seems bleak, given the current state of affairs. But if you wanted to dismantle just one warhead, here is what it would take.

Those warheads make the world a dangerous place, but we have to keep in mind there were more than 70,000 nuclear warheads in existence at one point. Though Cold War-era non-proliferation treaties were central to the massive cuts, most nuclear warheads were retired or dismantled during the 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. President George H.W. Bush cut 9,500 during his term as president; in 1992 alone, he cut 5,300 warheads, which was the most by any president ever in history. During the 2000s, his son cut the stockpile by more than half to 5,270 warheads. Together, the son and dad president team cut 14,801 warheads from the stockpile.

Comparatively, President Barack Obama cut a mere 507 warheads, but relations between Russia and the U.S. were quite chilly during his term and both nations increasingly saw each other as military threats.

But the U.S. and Russia have their own arms issues. The New START treaty between the United States and Russia is the most important non-proliferation treaty in the world right now, yet its extension appears to be in limbo. India and Pakistan, though they only have 250 warheads between them, could ruin the earth’s atmosphere if they ever engaged in a regional nuclear conflict.

Politics aside, however, once a nation agrees to cut its nuclear stockpile, how does it happen, where and when? We spoke with a few nuclear weapons experts who walked us through the process of how this actually happens, with the focus on how the Americans do it.

The Question Of Dismantlement Versus Retirement

Once a president decides to cut down the nuclear arsenal, he or she must decide if they want to retire or dismantle the warheads. It is important to know the difference. Tom Collina, Director of Policy at Ploughshares Fund — an anti-nuclear weapon philanthropic group — says that current treaties do not focus on the actual dismantlement of weapons.

“They only require that weapons be retired or removed from service,” he said. “They do not require that weapons be dismantled. So, you can have the New START treaty lowering the number of deployed systems you can have, but that doesn’t mean those weapons get dismantled. It just means they get put into storage.”

There is no verification process for determining if a nuclear warhead is destroyed or not once they get to storage, because they are simply are too small to see from space, Collina explains.

Missiles are different.

Those, along with bombers and submarines, are under treaty, and their dismantlement can be verified via satellite, simply because they’re so big. You can see a missile being chopped in half or a bomber’s wings clipped from space.

But a nuclear warhead itself, which is much smaller? That is simply not possible.

Right now, there are around 2,800 warheads in retirement in the U.S., meaning they are no longer stockpiled. As the State Department explains, once a retired warhead is removed from its delivery platform, it is no longer useable and is not considered part of the nuclear stockpile. The tritium bottles are also removed. Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that is critical to powering a bomb. Other “limited life components,” like the neutron generators, are also removed.

The warhead is stored in a depot where they hopefully will move on to the next process of being destroyed.

Separating A Warhead

The key components of a nuclear weapon, besides the metals used to construct its exterior, are uranium, plutonium, tritium boost gas, the neutron generator and other elements, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. And separating a warhead is the hardest and most dangerous part of dismantlement.

The National Nuclear Security Administration is the governmental body that oversees the dismantlement process, which takes place at the Pantex Plant, in the Panhandle of Texas. Pantex is the primary plant where nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly occurs. The warhead is taken to an underground bunker, where its parts are separated.

just one warhead, here is what it would take.

Those warheads make the world a dangerous place, but we have to keep in mind there were more than 70,000 nuclear warheads in existence at one point. Though Cold War-era non-proliferation treaties were central to the massive cuts, most nuclear warheads were retired or dismantled during the 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. President George H.W. Bush cut 9,500 during his term as president; in 1992 alone, he cut 5,300 warheads, which was the most by any president ever in history. During the 2000s, his son cut the stockpile by more than half to 5,270 warheads. Together, the son and dad president team cut 14,801 warheads from the stockpile.

Comparatively, President Barack Obama cut a mere 507 warheads, but relations between Russia and the U.S. were quite chilly during his term and both nations increasingly saw each other as military threats.

But the U.S. and Russia have their own arms issues. The New START treaty between the United States and Russia is the most important non-proliferation treaty in the world right now, yet its extension appears to be in limbo. India and Pakistan, though they only have 250 warheads between them, could ruin the earth’s atmosphere if they ever engaged in a regional nuclear conflict.

Politics aside, however, once a nation agrees to cut its nuclear stockpile, how does it happen, where and when? We spoke with a few nuclear weapons experts who walked us through the process of how this actually happens, with the focus on how the Americans do it. (more…)

Earth’s magnetosphere was warped by Cold War nuclear weapons

July 24, 2017

BOMBSHELL FINDING  Cold War nuclear weapons warped Earth’s magnetosphere – revealing what the true fallout could be if World War 3 broke out

Chaos sparked by Cold War nuke tests is only just becoming apparent – and it’s a chilling prediction of what might be in store for our fragile planet, The Sun By Margi Murphy, 19th May 2017 

NASA have released chilling details about how Cold War nuke tests affected our planet.

Australian Prime Minister Menzies let Britain exploit Australia

May 18, 2017

Australian tolerance of the British and their obsessive secrecy may be explained by the deference and loyalty to the ‘motherland’. Prime Minister Menzies identified so strongly with Britain that he considered British national interest as Australia’s national interest.

Another factor which underlay Australian deference during the course of the testing program was the role of Sir Ernest Titterton.

The full legal and political implications of the testing program would take decades to emerge. The secrecy which surrounded the British testing program and the remoteness of the tests from major population centres meant that public opposition to the tests and awareness of the risks involved grew very slowly.

Wayward governance : illegality and its control in the public sector / P N Grabosky
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 1989 

“…..Admittedly, in the 1950s knowledge of radiation hazards was not as advanced as it is today. At the time it was not generally recognised that small doses of low level radiation might increase the risk of cancer years later. But even in the light of knowledge of the time, the information on which Menzies based his decisions was seriously deficient.

There seems little doubt that the secrecy in which the entire testing program was cloaked served British rather than Australian interests.From the outset, the British were under pressure to demonstrate to the Americans that they were able to keep secrets at all. Full disclosure of the hazards and potential costs to Australia entailed in the testing program were out of the question. Information passed to Australian officials was kept to the minimum necessary to facilitate their assistance in the conduct of the testing program. The use of plutonium in the minor trials was not disclosed.

Australian tolerance of the British and their obsessive secrecy may be explained by the deference and loyalty to the ‘motherland’. Prime Minister Menzies identified so strongly with Britain that he considered British national interest as Australia’s national interest. Although he was later to seek assurances that hazards inherent in the testing program would be minimal and that appropriate safeguards would protect the Australian public, his enduring faith in the British was to blunt his critical faculties.

It is perhaps illustrative that on the occasions chosen by Australian authorities to assert themselves on matters of policy, the issues of concern were purely symbolic. The Antler series of tests was renamed, after Australians objected to the proposed name ‘Volcano’ (Milliken 1986, p. 226). On another occasion, a detonation scheduled for a Sunday was postponed in deference to Australian sensibilities (Australia 1985, p. 287).

Another factor which underlay Australian deference during the course of the testing program was the role of Sir Ernest Titterton. A British physicist, Titterton had worked in the United States on the Manhattan Project, which developed the first nuclear weapon.

After the war, he held a position at the British Atomic Energy Research Establishment, and in 1950 he was appointed to the Chair of Nuclear Physics at the Australian National University. Among Titterton’s earliest tasks in Australia was that of an adviser to the British scientific team at the first Monte Bello tests. In 1956, the Australian government established an Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee (AWTSC) responsible for monitoring the British testing program to ensure that the safety of the Australian environment and population were not jeopardised. To this end, it was to review British test proposals, provide expert advice to the Australian government, and to monitor the outcome of tests. Titterton was a foundation member of the Committee and later, its Chairman.

While Menzies had envisaged that the Committee would act as an independent, objective body, evidence suggests that it was more sensitive to the needs of the British testing program than to its Australian constituents.

Members tended to be drawn from the nuclear weapons fraternity, as was Titterton; from the Defence establishment, from the Commonwealth Department of Supply, from the Commonwealth X-Ray and Radium Laboratory, and from the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Although the expertise of these individuals is beyond dispute, one wonders if they may have been too closely identified with the ‘atomic establishment’ to provide independent critical advice. The nuclear weapons fraternity have often been criticised as a rather cavalier lot; no less a person than General Leslie Groves, who headed the Manhattan Project which developed the first atomic bomb, has been quoted as having said ‘Radiation death is a very pleasant way to die’ (Ball 1986, p. 8). In retrospect, the Australian safety committee suffered from the absence of biologists and environmental scientists in its ranks.

The plight of Aborigines in the vicinity of the prohibited zone was in many respects a reflection of their status in Australia at the time. In a revealing statement to the Royal Commission, Sir Ernest Titterton was quoted as having said that if Aboriginal people objected to the tests they could vote the government out (Australia 1985, p. 121). It is naive to suggest that such a small disadvantaged minority might wield electoral influence; doubly so since Aboriginal people were denied full voting rights at the time of the tests, and indeed, were even excluded from census enumeration until 1967. There is no dearth of evidence of the low regard in which Aborigines were held at the time. The chief scientist of the Department of Supply, a British expatriate, criticised an officer whom he regarded as overly concerned with Aboriginal welfare for ‘placing the affairs of a handful of natives above those of the British Commonwealth of Nations’ (Australia 1985, p. 309).

Because of their unique lifestyle, and often their lack of clothing, footwear and permanent shelter, Aboriginal residents in remote parts of Australia were particularly vulnerable to radiation. Although this was recognised and acted upon later in the testing program, the AWTSC was initially ignorant of or unconcerned with these risks.

Disinformation, whether deliberate or unintentional, was all too common during the testing programs. In order to provide accurate meteorological data for the weapons tests, a small weather station was constructed across the Western Australian border from Maralinga. The Australian Minister of Supply at the time, Howard Beale, quite falsely claimed that it was sited very carefully away from Aboriginal watering places (Australia 1985, p. 373). In fact, the site was chosen without seeking the advice of the native patrol officer. Moreover, the roads which were built to provide access to the weather station contradicted the assurances made by the government in 1947 that no roads would encroach upon the Aboriginal reserve.

In the aftermath of the second Monte Bello tests in 1956, the AWTSC filed a reassuring report which failed to refer to complications with the tests and to levels of fallout on the mainland which were higher than expected (Australia 1985, pp. 257-9).

In 1960, the British advised the AWTSC that ‘long lived fissile elements’ and ‘a toxic material’ would be used in the ‘Vixen B’ tests. Titterton requested that the materials be named, and later announced ‘They have answered everything we asked.’ The substances in question were not disclosed (Australia 1985, p. 414). In recommending that the Australian government agree to the tests, he appears to have been either insufficiently informed of the hazards at hand, or to have failed to communicate those hazards to the Safety Committee, and through it, to the Australian government. Earlier, before the Totem tests, he had reassured the Australian Prime Minister that

the time of firing will be chosen so that any risk to health due to radioactive contamination in our cities, or in fact to any human beings, is impossible. . . . [N]o habitations or living beings will suffer injury to health from the effects of the atomic explosions proposed for the trials (quoted in Australia 1985, p. 467).

There were other examples of Titterton’s role in filtering information to the Australian authorities, a role which has been described as ‘pivotal’ (Australia 1985, p. 513). He proposed that he be advised informally of certain details of proposed experiments. In one instance, he advised the British that ‘It would perhaps be wise to make it quite clear that the fission yield in all cases is zero’, knowing that this would be a misrepresentation of fact (Australia 1985, p. 519). Years later, the Royal Commission suggested that Titterton may have been more a de facto member of the British Atomic Weapons Research Establishment than a custodian of the Australian public interest.

The Royal Commission’s indictment of Titterton would be damning:

Titterton played a political as well as a safety role in the testing program, especially in the minor trials. He was prepared to conceal information from the Australian Government and his fellow Committee members if he believed to do so would suit the interests of the United Kingdom Government and the testing program (Australia 1985, p. 526).

British secretiveness and imperfect review of test proposals and consequences by Australian officials notwithstanding, the degree to which Australian authorities went in limiting debate and discussion of the testing program and its effects cannot be ignored.

Such media coverage of the tests as was permitted by British and Australian authorities tended to be trivial and generally celebratory (Woodward 1984). Restrictions were onerous, in some occasions to the point of absurdity. D-notices were applied in such a manner that Australian journalists were forbidden from reporting items which had already been published freely in the United Kingdom.

Dissent or criticism by Australian personnel involved in the testing program was not tolerated. One patrol officer who objected that the development of testing sites was proceeding without due regard for the protection and welfare of local Aborigines was ‘reminded of his obligations as a Commonwealth Officer’ (Australia 1985, p. 304), and warned against speaking to the press.

Occasionally, when Aborigines were sighted in restricted areas, reports of these sightings were disbelieved, or less than subtly discouraged. One officer who reported sighting Aborigines in the prohibited zone was asked if he realised ‘what sort of damage [he] would be doing by finding Aboriginals where Aboriginals could not be’ (Australia 1985, p. 319).

After the Milpuddie family was found in the restricted area at Maralinga, the Range Commander invoked the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 (Cwlth) to prevent disclosure of the incident by any personnel on the scene.

The flow of information within government departments was at times impeded, with adverse consequences. According to one account, incomplete information about plutonium contaminations at Maralinga was given to Vic Garland, a Minister in the McMahon government, causing him to mislead Parliament in 1972 (Toohey 1978).

The full legal and political implications of the testing program would take decades to emerge. The secrecy which surrounded the British testing program and the remoteness of the tests from major population centres meant that public opposition to the tests and awareness of the risks involved grew very slowly.

But as the ban-the-bomb movement gathered momentum in Western societies throughout the 1950s, so too did opposition to the British tests in Australia. An opinion poll taken in 1957 showed 49 per cent of the Australian public opposed to the tests and only 39 per cent in favour.

Evatt and Calwell, Leader and Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition, called for an end to the tests. Following the conclusion of the Antler series in October 1957, the British conducted their large thermonuclear tests at Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean; only the so-called ‘minor’ trials continued at Maralinga.

By the early 1960s, the United States, the Soviet Union and Great Britain signed an agreement to cease atmospheric nuclear tests. The British, having finally gained the confidence of the United States, were invited to conduct underground tests at United States facilities in Nevada. It was thus decided to close the Maralinga facility……..http://aic.gov.au/publications/previous%20series/lcj/1-20/wayward/ch16.html

British nuclear weapons testing – the toxic price paid by Australia

May 18, 2017

Australia’s hospitality, largesse and loyalty to Britain were not without their costs. Moreover, the sacrifices made by Australians on behalf of the ‘motherland’ were not equally borne. Whilst low population density and remoteness from major population centres were among the criteria for the selection of the testing sites, the Emu and Maralinga sites in particular were not uninhabited. Indeed, they had been familiar to generations of Aboriginal Australians for thousands of years and had a great spiritual significance for the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people.

A variety of factors underlay the harm to public health, Aboriginal culture and the natural environment which the British tests entailed. Perhaps most significant was the secrecy surrounding the testing program.

During the entire course of the testing program, public debate on the costs and risks borne by the Australian public was discouraged through official secrecy, censorship, misinformation, and attempts to denigrate critics

Wayward governance : illegality and its control in the public sector / P N Grabosky
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 1989 “…….
In 1950, Labor Prime Minister Clement Atlee sent a top secret personal message to Australian Prime Minister Menzies asking if the Australian government might agree to the testing of a British nuclear weapon at the Monte Bello Islands off Western Australia. Menzies agreed in principle, immediately; there is no record of his having consulted any of his Cabinet colleagues on the matter.

The Monte Bello site was deemed suitable by British authorities, and in a message to Menzies dated 26 March 1951 Atlee sought formal agreement to conduct the test. Atlee’s letter did not discuss the nature of the proposed test in minute detail. He did, however, see fit to mention the risk of radiation hazards:

6. There is one further aspect which I should mention. The effect of exploding an atomic weapon in the Monte Bello Islands will be to contaminate with radio activity the north-east group and this contamination may spread to others of the islands. The area is not likely to be entirely free from contamination for about three years and we would hope for continuing Australian help in investigating the decay of contamination. During this time the area will be unsafe for human occupation or even for visits by e.g. pearl fishermen who, we understand, at present go there from time to time and suitable measures will need to be taken to keep them away. We should not like the Australian Government to take a decision on the matter without having this aspect of it in their minds (quoted in Australia 1985, p. 13).

Menzies was only too pleased to assist the ‘motherland’, but deferred a response until after the 195 1 federal elections. With the return of his government, preparations for the test, code-named ‘Hurricane’, proceeded. Yet it was not until 19 February 1952 that the Australian public was informed that atomic weapons were to be tested on Australian soil. On 3 October 1952 the British successfully detonated a nuclear device of about 25 kilotons in the Monte Bello Islands.

The newest member of the nuclear club was by no means content to rest on the laurels of one successful test, however. Indeed, even before the Monte Bello detonation, British officials had visited sites in a remote area of South Australia with an eye to conducting future tests.

In December 1952, the new British Prime Minister, Churchill, asked Menzies for agreement in principle to a series of tests at Emu Field, some 1,200 km northwest of Adelaide in the Great Victoria Desert. Menzies replied promptly, in the affirmative. On 15 October 1953, Totem 1, a device with a yield of approximately 10 kilotons was detonated; two days later, Totem 11 was exploded with an approximate yield of 8 kilotons.

By this time, the British government had become firmly committed to a continuing nuclear weapons program. Three days after the conclusion of the Totem trials, the Australian government was formally advised of British desires to establish a permanent testing site in Australia. In August 1954, the Australian Cabinet agreed to the establishment of a permanent testing ground at a site that became named Maralinga, north of the transcontinental railway line in southwestern South Australia.

Following the ‘Mosaic’ tests in mid-1956, which involved the detonation of two weapons at the Monte Bello site, the British testing program in Australia was confined to the mainland. Four ‘Buffalo’ tests were conducted at Maralinga in September and October 1956, and three ‘Antler’ explosions were detonated there the following year.

Each of these explosions generated considerable radioactivity, by means of the initial nuclear reaction and the through dispersion of radioactive particulate colloquially known as ‘fallout’. In addition to British scientific and military personnel, thousands of Australians were exposed to radiation produced by the tests. These included not only those involved in supporting the British testing program, but also Aboriginal people living downwind of the test sites, and other Australians more distant who came into contact with airborne radioactivity.

A series of British hydrogen bomb tests was conducted in the Pacific Ocean during 1957 and 1958 without Australian involvement. In addition to the major weapons testing programs, the British undertook a number of minor trials at Emu and at Maralinga during the period 1953-1963. The ‘Kittens’, ‘Tims’ and ‘Rats’ series of experiments tested individual components or sub-assemblies of nuclear devices. Subsequent series, called ‘Vixen A’ and ‘Vixen B’ sought to investigate the effects of accidental fires and explosions on nuclear weapons.

While less spectacular than the major detonations, the minor trials were more numerous. They also contributed to the lasting contamination of the Maralinga area. As a result of the nearly 600 minor trials, some 830 tons of debris contaminated by about 20 kg of plutonium were deposited in pits which graced the South Australian landscape. An additional 2 kg of plutonium was dispersed over the area. Such an outcome was unfortunate indeed, as plutonium is one of the most toxic substances known; it dissipates more slowly than most radioactive elements. The half-life of plutonium is 24,000 years. At this rate of decay, the Maralinga lands would be contaminated for the next half-million years.

Thus, Australia’s hospitality, largesse and loyalty to Britain were not without their costs. Moreover, the sacrifices made by Australians on behalf of the ‘motherland’ were not equally borne. Whilst low population density and remoteness from major population centres were among the criteria for the selection of the testing sites, the Emu and Maralinga sites in particular were not uninhabited. Indeed, they had been familiar to generations of Aboriginal Australians for thousands of years and had a great spiritual significance for the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people.

In the interests of the testing program, it was decided to curtail the movements of those Aboriginal people traversing the Maralinga area. In addition, a number were taken to a reserve which had recently been established at Yalata, some distance to the south, across the transcontinental railway line. The removal of Aboriginal people from their traditional homelands was more than an inconvenience. The Maralinga lands contained mythological sites of spiritual significance for their inhabitants, a significance which was at best only vaguely appreciated by white officials. Indeed, this lack of sensitivity was illustrated by the consideration given by authorities to identifying sacred objects and ‘removing’ them to areas of resettlement (Australia 1985, pp. 300-1). During the 1950s, hundreds of former inhabitants of the Maralinga lands sought to reaffirm their threatened culture by travelling considerable distances from the Yalata area in order to attend ceremonial functions and to visit other Aboriginal groups. These movements extended as far west as Cundalee, Western Australia, and as far east as Coober Pedy and Mabel Creek.

Some Aboriginal people were even less fortunate. Security patrols in and around the Maralinga area were intermittently effective, and from time to time some Aboriginal people were evicted from the area. Years later, Aboriginal people from Western Australia would recall how they were directed away from Maralinga along a road which diverged from their standard water hole routes, and how some of their party died from lack of access to water.

For those who survived, there seems little doubt that for the Western Desert (Maralinga) people the alien settlement of Yalata and lack of access to their desert homelands contributed significantly to the social disintegration which characterises the community to this day. Petrol sniffing, juvenile crime, alcoholism and chronic friction between residents and the South Australian police have become facts of life (Brady & Morice 1982).

The security measures taken to restrict access to the testing site were not without flaws. One morning in May 1957, four Aboriginal people, the Milpuddie family, were found by range authorities near the crater formed by the ‘Buffalo 2’ explosion the previous October. ‘Me man, woman, two children and two dogs had set out on foot from the Everard Ranges in the northwest of South Australia, and were unaware that the Aboriginal inhabitants of the Maralinga area had been removed. When authorities discovered them, the family was immediately taken to a decontamination centre at the site, and were required to shower. After this experience, which must have been frightening enough, the family was driven to Yalata.

As one of the site personnel described the experience:

It was a shocking trip down as they had never ridden in a vehicle before and vomited everywhere (Australia 1985, p. 320).

On instructions from the Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Supply, the dogs were shot. ‘ne woman was pregnant at the time the family was taken into custody; subsequently, her baby was born dead. Australian authorities went to great lengths to keep the incident secret, but they appear to have been less concerned with the family’s subsequent health. Commenting upon the fact that no-one appears to have taken the time to explain the experience to which the hapless Aborigines were subjected, a team of anthropologists was to comment:

[T]he three remaining members of the family have been subjected to a high degree of stress and unhappiness about the events of twenty-eight years ago (Australia 1985, p. 323).

Knowledge of the hazards of radioactivity has accumulated only gradually over the past century. Some of the dangers posed by radiation become apparent soon after the discovery of X-rays in 1895. It was recognised early on that exposure to sufficient doses of radiation could cause injuries to internal organs, as well as to the skin and the eyes. Only after a number of years did scientists become aware of the risk of genetic damage, and of carcinogenic effects as well, at low levels of exposure. Degrees of exposure regarded as tolerable in the 1950s are now internationally recognised as unsafe.

The amount of radioactivity generated by a nuclear explosion can vary considerably depending upon a number of factors. These include the size of the weapon, and the location of the burst – an explosion at ground level may be expected to generate more dust and other radioactive particulate matters than an air burst. The dispersion of radioactive material is also dependent upon weather conditions.

The heritable and carcinogenic effects of radiation often do not manifest themselves for considerable periods. Moreover, both effects may result from other causes, unrelated to radiation, or may even occur spontaneously. Thus, any determination of the health consequences of nuclear weapons testing in Australia would require very detailed records identifying those citizens who were exposed to radiation, and the degree of radiation to which they were exposed.

Although most of the British and Australian personnel involved in the testing program were equipped with film badges and dosimeters to record the extent of their exposure to radiation, some did not. Moreover, those measuring devices which were provided did not record exposure with perfect accuracy.

Nor could the risk to the general public be assessed with any real rigour. Despite the fact that airborne radiation from the Monte Bello tests was detected as far away as Townsville and Rockhampton, official fallout measurements were not compiled, and available data was insufficient to estimate collective exposure. Whilst it is probable that some cases of cancer and genetic damage were caused by radiation generated by the nuclear tests, a realistic estimate of their extent is not possible.

A variety of factors underlay the harm to public health, Aboriginal culture and the natural environment which the British tests entailed. Perhaps most significant was the secrecy surrounding the testing program. The decision to make the Monte Bello Islands available to the British for their first nuclear test appears to have been made by the Prime Minister alone, without reference to Cabinet, much less Parliament or the Australian public. During the entire course of the testing program, public debate on the costs and risks borne by the Australian public was discouraged through official secrecy, censorship, misinformation, and attempts to denigrate critics……Read http://aic.gov.au/publications/previous%20series/lcj/1-20/wayward/ch16.html