Legacy of British nuclear tests in Australia in focus with national tour via NITV

‘Nuclear energy is not an Aboriginal issue, it’s a people issue,’ says Australian nuclear test survivor Sue Coleman-Haseldine.

Sue Coleman-Haseldine was not quite three years old when the British government conducted nuclear tests at Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia.

Living in Ceduna, 250 kilometres away, the Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia would later reveal that a radioactive cloud from the ‘Totem 1’ test at Emu Field in 1953, travelled as far as her home town.

“The dust doesn’t stay, it goes everywhere,” Ms Coleman-Haseldine told NITV News.

She is one of four women touring Australia this week, speaking at a series of public forums about the human story of nuclear weapons.The ‘Black Mist, White Rain’ talks, organised by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, include nuclear-test survivors Ms Coleman-Haseldine, Abacca Anjain-Maddison and Karina and Rose Lester.

“When you ask the people of Maralinga ‘what have you got?’ The answer is always ‘cancer’,” Ms Coleman-Haseldine said.

The series of talks comes after the South Australian government’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission made draft recommendations identifying several sites in the state for disposing nuclear waste.


Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science says on its website that the proposed facility “will not receive any foreign waste or dispose of intermediate or high-level waste” such as that used to create nuclear weapons.

The department adds that the site will not pose a threat to people or the environment.

“All waste materials at the facility will be solid, immobilised and isolated from the environment through multi-layered encasement such as concrete, glass or synthetic rock.”

It says the local waste will be stored inside containers and isolated.


But Ms Coleman-Haseldine says that, sixty years after the British nuclear tests, the people of South Australia do not want a repeat.

“We’ve been poisoned through Maralinga, now there is a threat hanging over our heads of a nuclear waste dump. They want to poison us again or what?”

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