Maralinga Has Left A Toxic Legacy On Queensland
Article and image courtesy of 4BC News Talk
5 March 2013
4BC Mornings: Greg Cary talks about something no wants to talk about, a toxic legacy that is the Maralinga story.
Stacks/Goudkamp Lawyer Joshua Dale speaks with Greg about this forgotten part of Australian history and how an application to the Australian Human Rights Commission seeking compensation is the last ditch effort for servicemen.
Between 1955 and 1963, the British government conducted secret nuclear tests in Maralinga, an area in the west of South Australia. Seven major nuclear tests were performed, as well as hundreds of minor tests, many of which investigated the effects of fire or non-nuclear explosions on nuclear weapons.
In the 1980s, both Australian servicemen and traditional Aboriginal occupants of the Maralinga site began to fall ill.
After pressure from several lobby groups, the government held a royal commission, called the Royal Commission into British nuclear tests in Australia or the McClelland Royal Commission.
In 1993 the British Government paid the Australian Government the sum of twenty million Pounds Sterling as a compensation fund for the clean up of the nuclear testing sites.
While this amount was paid for the clean up, there are thousands of Australians who have suffered as a result of the British nuclear testing and not received a cent in compensation.
Many died from cancer. A 2006 report commissioned by the Australian government showed the Australians working at the Maralinga and Emu Field testing sites were 23 per cent more likely to develop cancer than the general population, and 18 per cent more likely to die from cancer than the general population
Following a landmark ruling in the British courts, British ex-servicemen and their widows won the right to take the UK Ministry of Defence to court in a class action suit.
A group of Australian veterans, led by the Australian Nuclear Veterans Association, will join in the suit, represented by a legal team headed by Sydney-based law firm Stacks/Goudkamp.
For more information on the class action, visit www.maralingaclassaction.com.au