Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 7 December 1976

Mr UREN (Reid) - I refer to the recent revelations about the dumping of nuclear waste material at Maralinga in South Australia. I argue that the facts, as they have been reported, indicate that some very serious questions need to be answered. Therefore, I call upon the Government to appoint a royal commission to inquire into 2 matters: Firstly, any possible infringement of Australia's sovereignty which occurred as a result of the alleged actions of the British

Government and, secondly, the health and environmental questions raised by these allegations. There has been a great deal of confusion about these matters. The then Minister for Supply chose to infer in his answers to questions on 13 and 14 September 1972 that the nuclear wastes in question were radio active debris associated with British atomic weapons testing in the 1950s. But recent allegations provide a new dimension to this question.

Mr AvonHudson who worked at Maralinga during the 1960s has claimed that, in the early 1 960s, the British Government was secretly using the Maralinga atomic test site as a burial ground for waste from nuclear power stations. Mr Hudson stated during an Australian Broadcasting Commission interview on 3 December that he was engaged in digging holes and placing in them containers of radio active waste after which the holes were filled with sand. Mr Hudson stated that on one of these containers he read the words 'ex-Calder Hall'. Calder Hall was one of the first commercial nuclear power reactors to come on tap in Britain. It was commissioned in 1956. There is evidence to suggest that Mr Hudson's story is true. For instance, the waste, if it were dumped then, could not have been from the debris resulting from the atomic test program in the 1950s. The last test at Maralinga was carried out on 9 October 1957. Yet these reports suggest that radio active waste was buried at least 3 years after the last atomic tests. This indicates that the waste cannot have been debris.

It should also be emphasised that the treatment of these wastes as described by Mr Hudson indicates that they were high level wastes. This is further evidence that nuclear power station waste was involved. This is because in atomospheric nuclear tests high level wastes cannot be recovered. So, these wastes must have been from spent nuclear fuel. But this is not all. Mr Hudson also claims that Bristol Britannia aircraft came from England and that the waste was buried near the airstrip. This is a further indication that Mr Hudson's story is true and that its implications for Australian sovereignty is serious. During this period the Royal Air Force strategic transport group flew Bristol Britannia aircraft. These aircraft had sufficient range to fly direct to Maralinga from Singapore, thus evading any security. That the wastes were buried hastily and at night indicates that this action was not undertaken with the approval of the Australian Government.

I am aware of certain other information concerning these matters. It appears that further work was done scraping up soil and putting it into concrete after the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) gave his answers in 1972. Also, we have been informed that a bomb or material from a bomb which failed to detonate has been buried at Maralinga. I have been told also that the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council has been prevented, by a lack of funds, from studying the existing and future radiation hazards caused in the area by the improper storage of these wastes. These claims and the evidence supporting them are extremely serious. They imply that previous conservative governments have not safeguarded Australia's sovereignty. Also, the extreme danger of high level nuclear wastes to our environment means that these allegations and claims require a royal commission or, at least, a judicial inquiry.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!The honourable member's time has expired.

Suggest corrections