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British Nuclear Tests in Australia - Royal Commission (President: Mr Justice J.R. McClelland) - Report, dated 20 November 1985 - Volume 1

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The Parliament of the Commonwealth o f Australia



Vol. I

November 1985

Presented 5 December 1985 Ordered to be printed 6 December 1985

Parliamentary Paper No. 482/1985





Volume 1

Australian Government Publishing Service Canberra 1985

© Commonwealth of Australia 1985

ISBN 0 644 04434 9 Set of two volumes ISBN 0 644 04435 7 Volume 1 ISBN 0 644 04436 5 Volume 2

ISBN 0 644 04437 3 Conclusions and Recommendations

Printed by Canberra Publishing and Printing Co., Fyshwick, A.C.T.

r o y a l Co m m i s s i o n i n t o Br i t i s h N u c l e a r T e s t s in Au s t r a l ia

P R E S ID E N T : M R J U S T I C E J . R . M C C L E L L A N D

C O M M IS S IO N E R S : M R S J l L L F I T C H D r Wil l ia m J o n a s


GPO BOX 40 4 4 Sy d n e y NSW 2001

TELEPHONE 3 5 6 20

20 November 1985

His Excellency the Right Honourable Sir Ninian Stephen, A.K., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.B.E., Covernor-General, Government House, CANBERRA ACT 2600.


Your Excellency,

In accordance with Letters Patent dated 16 July 1984, 27 June 1985 and 9 August 1985, we have the honour to present to you our Report of the Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia.

We return herewith our Letters Patent.


J. Fitch (Commissioner)

VJn— d

W.J.A. Jonas (Commissioner)


The Commissioners place on record their gratitude to all who have assisted them in the conduct of this long, arduous and sometimes tedious inquiry and who have contributed to the production of this report.

The list, though not exhaustive, must include the following persons and authorities:

The United Kingdom and Australian Governments for seeking out and producing the massive collection of documents which was placed before the Commission.

The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence and the Treasury Solicitor, Mr J B Bailey, C B.

The Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Aldermaston, UK, which was finally persuaded to divulge some of its secrets.

The Australian Departments of Resources and Energy, and Housing and Construction for their detailed and informative submissions.

The Australian Department of Defence, from whose custody most of the Australian documents were produced.

Australian Radiation Laboratory of the Department of Health for its various reports and in particular its comprehensive report on the current state of the Maralinga and Emu ranges. The editor of that report, Dr Keith Lokan, deserves special thanks for his

illuminating evidence and for the assistance he rendered to the Royal Commission on its inspections of the test sites at Maralinga, Emu and the Monte Bello Islands.

The Australian Atomic Energy Commission, especially for its contribution to the question of cleaning up the Maralinga range.

Professor Annette Hamilton and Professor Tonkinson, consultants to the Royal Commission on anthropological matters.

Dr J L Symonds, consultant to the Royal Commission, whose comprehensive work, A History of British Atomic Tests in Australia, provided helpful signposts for the Royal Commission's researches.

Dr John Harries, of the AAEC, who headed the Royal Commission's research staff and contributed his scientific skills to its work with great dedication.

The Governments of South Australia and Western Australia, which provided invaluable assistance in the identification of documents.


Mr Peter McClellan, counsel assisting the Royal Commission, without whose indefatigable pursuit of the often elusive truth about the most minute details of the nuclear tests, this report would have been a less authoritative document.

The other counsel and solicitors who represented the various parties which appeared before the Royal Commission.

Dr R V Osborne and his colleagues at the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and Mr B W Church and his colleagues of the Nevada Operations Office, USA Department of Energy, for their prompt and detailed response to the Royal

Commission's request for their advice on the question of cleaning up the Ranges.

All of the witnesses, some of them of advanced age, who gave freely of their time and in some cases volunteered personal records of the events the subject of the Royal Commission's inquiry, including United Kingdom officials who often had to spend time examining documents in order to jog their memories.

In particular, Lord Penney, who interrupted his retirement to give the Royal Commission the benefit of his unique experience and vast knowledge.

Finally, the Royal Commission's staff, and in particular Mr John Atkinson, its able and dedicated Secretary and Mrs Jennifer Cox, the President's associate, who contributed hard work, intelligence and charm which soothed the sometimes jangled nerves

which are inseparable from an enterprise involving the co­ operation of many disparate personalities over a period of 15 months.





Chapter 1: Introduction 1

1.1 Terms of Reference 1

1.2 Conduct of Hearings 5

1.3 Leave to Appear 3

1.4 Witnesses 0

1.5 Examination of Witnesses

1.6 Exhibits 7

1.7 Documentation Examined B

Chapter 2: Preamble to Australian Involvement 9

Conclusion IB

Chapter 3: Nuclear Weapons, Radiation and Aspects of Health Physics 19

3.1 Nuclear Weapons 19

- Fission - The Use of Light Elements as a 1 Boost1 - Thermonuclear Weapons 22

- General Effects of the Nuclear Bombs y · ■

- The Formation of Cloud and Fallout -

3.2 Nuclear Radiation 26

- Types and Properties of Nuclear Radiations 26

- Units of Radiation and Radioactivity 28

3.3 The Detection of Radioactivity - '

- Types of Detection Instruments - Personal Dosimeters 24

3.4 Radiological Protection

- Protection by Time, Distance and Shielding - Protective Clothing

vi i

4.1 The Genesis of Radiation Protection 39

4.2 Radiation Protection 1950-1960 45

- ICRP Recommendations 1950 45

- Radiation Protection Standards for the Tests 49

- ICRP Recommendations 1954 55

- Radiation Protection Standards for Use at Maralinga 59

- Radiological Safety Regulations for Mosaic 61

- New International Interest in Radiation Protection 62

- Amendments to ICRP Recommendations in 1956 63

- Medical Research Council Reports 64

- ICRP Recommendations 1958 66

- UNSCEAR 1958 69

Conclusions 70

4.3 Radiation Protection in the Early 1960s 71

- UNSCEAR 1962 71

- UNSCEAR 1964 72

- ICRP Recommendations 1962-1965 73

Conclusion 74

4.4 Radiation Protection 1965-1975 74

4.5 ICRP Recommendations Since 1977 76

- Radiation Monitoring 81

- Medical Surveillance 81

- Exposure of the Public 82

- Internal Exposure 83

- Recent Reports 84

Conclusions 84

4.6 Current Knowledge of Stochastic Effects 85

- Heritable Effects 86

- Carcinogenic Effects . 87

- Dose-Effect Relationships 88

Conclusions 90

4.7 Non-Stochastic Effects 91

- Modifying Factors 96

Conclusions 97

Chapter 4: Radiation Protection Standards 39


4.8 Criticism of the 1CRP 97

Conclusion 98

4.9 Estimation of Doses and Risks to Health from the Tests 98

- Radiation Doses and Risks to Individual Participants in the - Radiation Doses and Risks to the Australian Public from the Conclusions




100 102

Chapter 5: Operation Hurricane 103

5.0 Introduction 103

5.1 The Choice of the Monte Bello Islands 107

Conclusion 109

5.2 Criteria for Safe Firing 109

- Estimated Doses from Fallout - Observed Cloud

114 115

5.3 Fallout Monitoring 115

Conclusion 118

5.4 Safety of Aborigines 118

Conclusion 122

5.5 Safety of Servicemen

- Royal Australian Navy - Recovery of the Sunken Landing Craft - The Joint Services Training Unit - Aircraft - Radiation Exposure of Aircrews

in Hurricane Air Sampling - 86(T) Wing Dakotas - 82(B) Wing Lincolns Conclusions


122 126 127 130

132 133 134 136

6.0 Introduction 137

6.1 Criteria for Safe Firing 141

- Totem 1 Cloud 146

- Totem 2 Cloud 147

6.2 Fallout Monitoring 147

- Totem 1 147

- Totem 2 150

Conclusions 151

6.3 Safety of Aborigines 151

- Aborigines - Location and Lifestyle 151

- Consideration of Aborigines -The Patrol Officer 152

- The Closure of Ooldea 164

- Emu and Further Patrols 168

Conclusions 173

6.4 The Black Mist 174

- The Physical Phenomenon 174

- Scientific and Other Evidence 177

- Other Relevant Evidence 184

- Contamination at Wallatinna 186

- Yami Lester's Blindness 190

Conclusions 194

6.5 Safety of Servicemen 194

- Radiological Regulations 194

- Activities in the Forward Area of Totem 1 and Totem 2 197

- Decontamination at Emu 198

- The Involvement of Aircrew at Operation Totem 202

- Totem 1 - Participation - Woomera 207

- Totem 1 - Participation - Richmond 213

- Totem 2 - Participation 215

- Air Surveys for Ground Contamination 218

- Contamination of Ground Crew - Woomera 219

- Allegations by Participants 221

- Recorded Dose Levels at Totem 224

- Hurried Evacuation of Emu 224

- Centurion Tank 226

Conclusions 228

Chapter 6: Operation Totem 137


7.0 Introduction 231

7.1 The Choice of the Monte Bello Islands 233

Conclusion 234

7.2 The Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee 234

7.3 Criteria for Safe Firing and Meteorological Forecasting 23b

- Prediction of Fallout Pattern 243

- Observed Cloud from Test G1 245

- Predictions of Fallout for Test G2 246

- Observed Cloud from Test G2 247

Conclusion 248

7.4 Fallout Monitoring 248

- Fallout from Mosaic G1 249

- Fallout from Mosaic G2 253

- Information Supplied to Minister for Supply by the AWTSC 256

- Safety Committee Report to Prime Minister 257

Conclusions 258

7.5 Safety of Aborigines 259

Conclusion 261

7.6 Safety of Servicemen 262

- Allegations of Participants at Mosaic 268

Conclusions # 272

Chapter 8: Operation Buffalo 273

8.0 Introduction 2 7 3

8.1 Establishment and Management of the Range

8.2 Criteria for Safe Firing

- Meteorology and Prediction of Fallout Levels 284

Chapter 7: Operation Mosaic 231


8.3 Fallout Monitoring 287

- Buffalo 1 (One Tree) Fallout 287

- Buffalo 2 (Marcoo) Fallout 291

- Buffalo 3 (Kite) Fallout 294

- Buffalo 4 (Breakaway) Fallout 294

- Radioiodine Survey 299

Conclusions 299

8.4 Safety of Aborigines 299

- The Maralinga Site 299

- Further Restrictions 301

- Aboriginal Movements 301

- Giles Meteorological Station 303

- Fallout Monitoring Track 306

- A Handful of Natives 309

- A Second Patrol Officer 311

- Inadequate Data Collection 312

- Cynicism Rampant 313

- Where is Macaulay? 314

- Buffalo Air Patrols 316

- Sightings of Aborigines 318

- The Pom Pom Incident 319

Conclusions 323

8.5 Safety of Servicemen 324

- Plans and Regulations 324

- Radiological Safety at Buffalo - Contemporary Documents 325

- Radiological Safety at Buffalo - Statements and Oral Evidence 331

- Target Response Tests 334

- The Indoctrinee Force 335

- Other Recorded Doses 341

- Allegations by Participants 342

- Village Contamination 347

Conclusions 347

Chapter 9: Operation Antler 349

9.0 Introduction 349

9.1 Criteria for Safe Firing 352

- Meteorological Services 355

- Prediction of Fallout 355

- Antler Round 1 (Tadje) 356

- Antler Round 2 (Biak) 356

- Antler Round 3 (Taranaki) 358

Conclusions 358


9.2 Fallout Monitoring 359

- Fallout from Antler Round 1 (Tadje) 360

- Fallout from Antler Round 2 (Biak) 361

- Fallout from Antler Round 3 (Taranaki) 366

- Results Applicable to Fallout from All Rounds 367

Conclusions 367

9.3 Safety of Aborigines 368

- Hypocrisy and Lies 369

- Ground Patrols for Antler 373

- Air Patrols for Antler 375

- Aboriginal People in the Prohibited Zone 377

Conclusions 381

9.4 Safety of Servicemen 381

- The Sergeant Smith Incident 386

Conclusion 387

9.5 The Cobalt-60 Incident 388

Conclusions 393


Chapter 10: The Minor Trials 395

10.0 Introduction

10.1 Nature of Minor Trials '’

- Kittens 396

- Tims 396

- Rats 396

- Vixen A 397

- Vixen B - Materials Left on the Range - Plutonium - Beryllium - Uranium 401

10.2 The Politics of the Minor Trials Conclusion 415


Chapter 11: Sundry Topics 417

11.1 Decontamination of Aircraft 417

- Operation Hurricane 417

- Operation Totem 417

- Operations Mosaic, Buffalo and Antler 425

Conclusions 426

11.2 Loss of Balloons at Maralinga 427

Conclusion 430

11.3 Allegations of Dead Aborigines at the Maralinga Range 430

Conclusion 432

11.4 Allegations of Burning of Bombs at Woomera 433

Conclusion 434

11.5 The Marston Controversy 434

Conclusions 438

11.6 Peace Officer Guards 438

Conclusion 440

Chapter 12: The 'Need to Know' 441

12.0 Introduction 441

12.1 The McMahon Act 443

Conclusions 446

12.2 Operation Epicure 446

12.3 Operation Hurricane 447

Conclusion 451

- Australian Participation 451

Conclusions 459

- The Press and the Public 460

Conclusions 462

12.4 Operation Totem 463

- The Press and the People 468

Conclusions 470

12.5 Maralinga - A Permanent Proving Ground 471

Conclusions 474

12.6 The Atomic Weapons Test Safety Committee 474

Conclusions 478

xi v

12.7 Operation Mosaic 478

- The Government 484

- The Media and the Public 486

Conclusions 489

12.8 Operation Buffalo 489

Conclusions 495

12.9 Operation Antler 496

- The AWTSC and the Establishment of the NRAC 496

- Establishment of the Board of Management 496

- The Press and the Public 505

Conclusions 505

12.10 The Minor Trials 505

- Kittens 1953 505

- Kittens and Tims 1955 506

- The Press and the Public 508

- Minor Trials 1956 509

- Minor Trials 1957 511

- Minor Trials 1958 511

- Minor Trials 1959 512

- Minor Trials 1960 515

- Minor Trials 1961 520

- Minor Trials 1962 521

- Minor Trials 1963 Conclusions 524

Chapter 13: State of Test Sites 527

13.1 Maralinga Clean-ups and Surveys before 1967 527

- Building DC12 527

- Operation Clean-up 527

- AWTSC 1963 Review of Radioactive Contamination 52ti

- Operation Hercules V - The Ending of the Memorandum of Arrangements

- Operation Radsur Conclusions 534

13.2 Operation Brumby ^24

- Plans and Standards - The Operation - Termination of the Agreement Conclusions '4 1


13.3 Salvage of Equipment from Maralinga 542

- Disposal of Buildings, Equipment and Materials 545

Conclusions 545

13.4 AIRAC 4 546

- The Repatriation of 0.5 kg of Plutonium 548

Conclusion 549

13.5 1985 ARL Survey 549

Conclusion 552

13.6 Emu 552

13.7 Monte Bello Islands 554

- Salvage from Monte Bello Islands 560

Conclusions 561

Chapter 14: Future Management of the Range 563

14.1 The Hazards at Maralinga and Emu 563

14.2 The Future Use of Maralinga Lands by Aborigines 564

Conclusions 568

14.3 Compensation for Loss of Use of Lands 568

- Development of the Outstation 570

Conclusions 573

14.4 Hazards to Aborigines Using the Range 574

- Inhalation 575

- Ingestion 576

- injection 578

- Buried Wastes 579

- Beryllium 579

- Uranium 580

Conclusions 581

14.5 Clean-up of the Maralinga and Emu Sites 582

- The Maralinga Site 582

- Retrieval of Plutonium-contaminated Fragments 583

- Fences 583

- Burying the Plutonium-contaminated Soil 583


- Treating the Plutonium-contaminated Soil 584

- The Disposal Pits at Taranaki and TM101 584

- Uranium and Beryllium Contamination at Kuli 585 - The Overall Clean-up Strategy 585

- Emu Site 58b

- A Maralinga Commission 586

- Sections 400 and 1487 and the Emu Site - AIRAC Advice on Future Management -Maralinga and Emu 587

Conclusions 588

14.6 Who Should Pay for the Clean-up of Maralinga? Conclusions 592

14.7 Future of Monte Bello Islands 592

Conclusions 593

Chapter 15: Consideration of the AIRAC 9, Kerr and Donovan Reports, and the South Australian Health Studies 595

15.1 AIRAC 9 595

- Criticisms 597

Conclusions 602

15.2 The Kerr Committee Report 60J

15.3 The Donovan Report 603

Conclusion 605

15.4 The NRPB Study 605

15.5 The US Nuclear Veterans Study

15.6 South Australian Health Studies Conclusion 609

Chapter 16: Recommendations 611

16.0 Introduction 611

List of Figures *ix



Appendix A: Glossary of Abbreviations, Acronyms, Units and Prefixes

Abbreviations and Acronyms 1-1

Units 1-6

Metric Prefixes 1-7

Appendix B: Glossary of Terms II-l

Appendix C: Key Personnel and Committees III-l

C.l Key Personnel III-l

C.2 Australian Committees III-6

C.3 Organisational Charts for Trials II1-9

Appendix D: Witness Index IV-1

Appendix E: List of Exhibits V-l

Appendix F: Anglo-American Modus Vivendi VI-1

Appendix G: Chronology VII-1

Appendix H: Bibliography VIII-1

Appendix Is Royal Commission Hearings IX-1


Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations 1



Figure Page

Frontispiece Map of Australia Showing Test Sites x x i

4.6.1 Dose-effect Relationships for Stochastic Effects 90

4.7.1 Differences in Dose-effect Curves between Stochastic and Non-Stochastic Effects 92

5.0. 1 Map of Monte Bello Islands, Site of Hurricane and Mosaic Tests 104

5.2.1 Restrictions on Wind Speed and Direction for Hurricane Test 113

5.5.1 Positions of Ships at the Time of the Hurricane Explosion 124

6.0. 1 Map of Emu Field, Site of the Totem Tests

6.5.1 Block Layout of Radiation Health Control at 1A 1 Site, Emu During Operation Totem 199

7.4.1 The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Mosaic G1 Test 252

7.4.2 The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Mosaic G2 Test 255

7.6.1 Positions of the Ships at the Time of the Mosaic G1 Explosion 263

7.6.2 Positions of the Ships at the Time of the Mosaic G2 Explosion 265

8.0. 1 Map of South Australia Showing Location of Maralinga 274

8.0. 2 Map of Maralinga Range 275

8.0. 3 Map of Forward Area at Maralinga (to 25th Avenue) 276

8.2.1 Map of Western South Australia Showing Area Considered by the Safety Committee to be Uninhabited 282

8.3.1 Intermediate Distance Fallout from Buffalo Round 1 (One Tree) Showing Areas where Level A and Level B were Exceeded · '



8.3.2 The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Buffalo 1 (One Tree) Test

8.3.3 Intermediate Distance Fallout from Buffalo 2 (Marcoo) Showing Areas where Level A and Level B were Exceeded 293

8.3.4 The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Buffalo 2 (Marcoo) Test 295

8.3.5 The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Buffalo 3 (Kite) Test 296

8.3.6 The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Buffalo 4 (Breakaway) Test 298

9.2.1 The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Antler 1 (Tadje) Test 362

9.2.2 The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Antler 2 (Biak) Test 364

9.2.3 The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Antler 3 (Taranaki) Test 365

11.1.1 RAAF Base Amberley Showing Location of Decontamination Centre 421

11.1.2 Plan of Decontamination Centre at Amberley 422



Map of Australia Showing Test Sites


Cairns ·>




M O N T E # s — S "


ISLANDS· / * Onslow

• Port Hedland


Alice Springs








I · Port Pirie

^E din b urgh


Pearc^ti Fremantlei

Richmond e / SYDNEY




Km 100 0 2 00 4 0 0 Km


x x i



1.1 Terms of Reference

1.1.1 By Letters Patent issued on 16 July 1984 in thv

following terms, the Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia was established:


ELIZABETH THE SECOND, By the Grace of God, Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth:




WE DO by these Our Letters Patent issued in Our name by Our Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia on the advice of the Federal Executive Council and in pursuance of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Roya1

Commissions Act 1902 and every other enabling power, appoint you to be Commissioners to inquire, in relation to the British nuclear tests (hereinafter referred to as "the tests") that were conducted in Australia during the period of twelve years

commencing on 1 January 1952, into the following matters, namely -(a) the measures that were taken before and at the time of the tests, and have since been taken, for the purpose of

protecting persons in and about Australia and the External Territories against exposure to the harmful effects of ionising radiation and against contact with radioactive substances and other toxic materials used in or produced by

the tests;

(b) whether the measures so taken were adequate for that purpose, having regard to the measures considered appropriate for the protection of health and the standards


applicable, at the time of the tests as well as at the present time: and

(c) whether the health of persons in and about Australia and the External Territories was or has been adversely affected by reason of exposure to the harmful effects of ionising radiation or contact with radioactive substances or other toxic materials used in or produced by the tests:

AND, without restricting the scope of your inquiry or in any way limiting the generality of the foregoing, We direct you -(d) to inquire particularly into the following matters, namely:

(i) the management and conduct of the tests including the criteria for safe firing of the tests;

(ii) the arrangements made both at the time of the tests and afterwards to exclude unauthorized persons from areas that in relation to the tests were prohibited areas or restricted areas for the purposes of the

Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 or otherwise;

(iii) radiological and other health physics standards and practices associated with the tests;

(iv) atmospheric atomic fallout monitoring arrangements associated with the tests;

(v) the disposal within Australia of buildings, equipment and materials that were at the test sites;

(vi) the measures taken, both at the time of the tests and afterwards, to manage the test sites and

(e) in conducting your inquiry to have particular regard to the following persons, namely, members of the Australian Defence Force and civilians at the test sites, Royal Australian Navy personnel in the vicinity of the tests at Monte Bello

Islands, Royal Australian Air Force personnel, including decontamination teams, involved in atomic cloud sampling and tracking operations and Aboriginals and other civilians in the general regions of the test sites:

AND, without restricting the scope of your inquiry, We further direct you, for the purposes of your inquiry, to have regard to the following documents;

(f) the reports of the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council known as No. 2 of 1975, Nos. 4 and 5 of 1979, No. 7 of 1980 and No. 9 of 1983.

(g) the report entitled "Health of Atomic Test Personnel" prepared by the Department of Health in 1983;


(h) Final Report on Residual Radioactive Contamination of the Maralinga Range and the Emu Site by N. Pearce (Atomic Weapons Research Establishment Report No. 0-16/68);

(i) Report of the Expert Committee on the Review of Data on Atmospheric Fallout arising from British Nuclear Tests in Australia made to the Minister for Resources and Energy in May 1984;

(j) British Atomic Tests in Australia Chronology of Events 1950-1968 by Dr J.L. Symonds:

AND We request you -(k) in respect of any particular matter that is, or becomes, in issue between the parties in proceedings in a court or before any other tribunal relating to the death or personal

injury of any person alleged to arise out of the tests, to order, that the evidence be taken in private if you consider that the taking of the evidence in public might directly affect the rights of a party to those proceedings; and

(l) where any part of your report under these Our Letters Patent recites evidence the subject of an order referred to in paragraph (k), states conclusions or makes recommendations the publication of which would impinge directly on a particular matter in issue between the parties in such proceedings, to furnish that part as a separate report with a recommendation whether or not it should be published:

AND We further request you to order that evidence, being classified documents, or the contents of classified documents, of the Government of the United Kingdom, be taken in private unless that Government consents to the taking of that evidence in public

and, where any part of your report under these Our Letters Patent contains such classified documents or recites the contents of such documents and that Government has not consented to publication of that part, to furnish that part as a separate

report with a recommendation whether or not it should be published;

AND We appoint you the Honourable James McClelland to be the President of the said Commissioners:

AND We further direct that, for the purpose of taking evidence, two Commissioners, one of whom shall be the President, shall be sufficient to constitute a quorum and may proceed with the inquiry under these Our Letters Patent:

AND We declare that in these Our Letters Patent -(m) the expression "British nuclear tests" includes the tests associated with the British nuclear tests known as the minor trials and the experimental programme; and


(n) the expression "test sites" means the sites of the British nuclear tests:

AND We further direct you to make such recommendations arising out of your inquiry as you think appropriate, including recommendations regarding the future management and use of the test sites:

AND We require you as expeditiously and on as informal a basis as possible to make your inquiry and, not later than 30 June 1985 or such later date as We may be pleased to fix, to furnish to

Our Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia a report of the results of your inquiry and your recommendations.

WITNESS His Excellency the Right Honourable Sir Ninian Martin Stephen, a member of Her Ma jesty1s Most Honourable Privy Council,

Knight of the Order of .Australia, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and

Saint George, Knight Grand Cross of The Royal Victorian Order, Knight Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the

British Empire, Knight of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, Governor-General of

the Commonwealth of Australia and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Force

Dated this sixteenth day of July 1984.


Governor-Genera 1

By His Excellency's Command,


Minister of State for Trade for and on behalf of the Prime Minister


1 · 1 · 2 The date for the return of the Letters Patent was

extended, on 27 June 1985, to 30 September 1985 and again on 9 August, this time to 20 November 1985.

1.2 Conduct of Hearings

1.2.1 An official opening was conducted in Sydney on

22 August 1984 and a further formal opening session was conducted in Adelaide on 11 September 1984. Oral evidence was then taken in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, London, Marla Bore, Wallatinna, Maralinga, Perth and Karratha. The final sitting for

the taking of oral evidence was conducted on 26 July I9b‘ > although the Royal Commission did sit in September to hear final submissions presented by the parties with leave to appear before it. Details of venues and dates for hearings are set out in

Appendix 1. In all there were 118 sitting days, conducted in it different cities or towns. The transcript of proceedings amounted to 1U 424 pages.

1-2.2 All hearings were conducted in open session and ail evidence was taken under oath. There was, however, no power of subpoena available to the Royal Commission in the United Kingdom.

1.2.3 The subpoena power was used on several occasions in Australia in relation to documents (to the Australian Government Solicitor on 17 August 1984, to the Commonwealth of Australia on

5 and 28 September 1984, to the Chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization on 11 March 1985, to the Honourable David Tonkin on i April 1985 and to Professor Sir Ernest Titterton on 3 April 1985); and on one occasion in

relation to a witness (Mr P G Connolly on 1 May 1985).

1.3 Leave to Appear

1.3.1 The following parties were granted leave to appear before the Royal Commission;

(a) The Aboriginal People represented by Mr G Lames of Counsel, and Mr A Collett instructed by Johnston, Withers, McCusker and Co;

(b) The Australian Government represented by Mr J McIntyre of Counsel instructed by the Office of the Australian Government solicitor;

(c ) The Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council represented by Mr J McCarthy and Mr G Watson of Counsel instructed by Mr M Martin of T V Martin and Co;


(d) The Australian Nuclear Veterans' Association (NSW Branch) - represented by Mr P Nass;

(Qld Branch) - represented by Mr M Bigg of Hawthorn Cuppaidge and Badgery;

(SA Branch) - represented by Mr G James QC of Counsel instructed by Mr G D Hemsley of G D Hemsley and


(WA Branch) - represented by Mr M Bigg of Hawthorn Cuppaidge and Badgery;

(e) The Maralinga and Monte Bello Atomic Ex-Servicemen's Association represented by Mr G James QC of Counsel instructed by Mr M May of Maurice May and Co;

(f) The Nuclear Test Veterans of Britain represented by Mr M Mildred of Mildred and Beaumont;

(g) The South Australian Government represented by Mr M Gray QC, Solicitor-General for South Australia;

(h) The United Kingdom Government represented by Mr R Auld QC, and Mr A Kolodziej of Counsel instructed by the Office of the Treasury Solicitor

1.4 Witnesses

1.4.1 Oral evidence was given by 311 witnesses, of whom 246 presented written statements; 210 further statements were tendered on behalf of persons who were not called to give

evidence. A list of witnesses is at Appendix D. The following provides a rough break-down of the backgrounds and experience of those who gave evidence:

Australia United Kingdom

Adviser/Specialists 16 Ad viser/Specialists 8

Scientists/Technicians 18 Scientists/Technicians 33 Servicemen 241 Servicemen 53

Aborigines 48

Others (Australian/UK) 89


1.5 Examination of Witnesses

1.5.1 With the exception of Aboriginal witnesses, the initial examination of witnesses was conducted by Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission, Mr P McClellan, cross-examination by other legal representatives and a final re-examination by Counsel Assisting. As much of the oral evidence from Aboriginal

witnesses was taken in groups, initial examination of such witnesses was conducted by Mr G Eames or Mr A Collett.

1.6 Exhibits

1.6.1 lihere possible, all relevant documentary evidence was tendered during the examination or re-examination of each witness. Composite sets of exhibits were tendered separately on occasions and although the contents of each are set out in the

Exhibit List at Appendix E (see RC 100, RC 131 and RC 143 for examples), some exhibits deserve particular mention:

RC 558 Ten volumes of documents copied from UK

Ministry of Defence files in London and at Alderma ston after being identified by the Royal Commission, its staff and

representatives of the parties as being relevant to the Terms of Reference.

RC 559 Six volumes of documents copied from files of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London which were identified by the Royal Commission its staff and representatives of the parties as being relevant to the Terms of Reference.

RC 800 1 The Australian Collation 1 - 56 volumes of documents copied from Australian, South Australian and Western Australian Government files after being identified by the Royal

Commission and its staff or representatives of the various parties as being relevant to the Terms of Reference.

RC 819 1 The Aboriginal Collation 1 - documents identified from Australian Government, South Australian and Western Australian Government files and other official sources by

representatives of the Aboriginal people as being relevant to the Terms of Reference.

1.6.2 As will be seen from the list of 918 exhibits, the

amount of documentary evidence tendered is voluminous. Inevitably there is some duplication; for example, documents


originating in the United Kingdom may appear both at their point of origin (in RC 558 or 559) and in the Australian Collation (rc 800) having been drawn from Australian Government files where they were placed upon receipt. Also, some exhibits were found to be merely duplicates of documents already tendered (see, for

example, RC 683, RC 730 and RC 739).

1.7 Documentation Examined

1.7.1 The task of identifying and locating - after a period of up to 40 years - all official contemporary documentation relating to the Royal Commission's Terms of Reference was enormous and although every reasonable effort has been made, it

is inevitable that some documents will never be found and others will continue to come to light. Nevertheless, the Royal Commission has no reason to believe that there are documents of major significance or which could significantly alter any of its

findings which have not yet been discovered. Counsel

representing the United Kingdom and Australian Governments have indicated that their clients have made every reasonable effort to identify all relevant documents and the Royal Commission accepts their assurances without reservation.

1.7.2 Both in the United Kingdom and in Australia, the

approach adopted was for .the Royal Commission to examine lists of files and documents and call for all those which appeared to be relevant. Clearly, in a limited time frame, some judgment had to be exercised in determining which files should be examined but

the overall approach has been most thorough. All State

Governments were approacned in an endeavour to learn what documents of relevance they might hold but, as might be expected, only South Australia and Western Australia had significant holdings. These were examined m the same manner as outlined above. .




2.1.1 The negotiations between the British and Australian Governments which culminated in an agreement to stage the first British explosion of an atomic bomb in the waters of the Monte Bello Islands were conducted with the greatest secrecy. A very

limited group of people was aware of the proposals. During the initial phases of the decision-making process, the only Australian Ministers in the know were the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence and the Treasurer.

2.1.2 To understand the reason for this secrecy, it is

necessary to bear in mind that Australia was not Britain's first choice as the testing ground for its nuclear bombs and to appreciate the delicate state of relations between the USA and

the United Kingdom at this time.

2.1.3 Although Prime Minister Attlee's first approach to Australian Prime Minister Menzies was made in September 195U, the first time that the fact that something nuclear was afoot in Australia got a public airing was in the middle of 1951 when

questions began to be asked in the Federal Parliament isee Ch.12).

2.1.4 Britain's decision to go it alone in the nuclear

weapons game rather than to be content to shelter under the American nuclear umbrella was based not only on its less than full postwar nuclear partnership with the then monopolist of

nuclear weaponry, the USA. An added ingredient was the desire to demonstrate, against the tide of history, that Britain still had a place in the major league of world powers [e . g . Cowing 1974, Vol.l, Ch.6, 7, 9, 10J.

2.1.5 The early British hopes that the Americans would be prepared to allow a full exchange with them of technological information about the bomb were rapidly disappointed. The growing American desire to hug its atomic secrets to its own breast, denying them even to its great wartime ally, was

reinforced by the discovery early in 1946 that a British atomic scientist, Dr Nunn May, had been involved with a Canadian spy ring in giving atomic secrets to the Russians.

2.1.6 The McMahon Act, passed by the United States Congress in June 1946, delivered the death blow to British hopes that the Americans would, in effect, teach them how to make an atomic bomb or allow them to be partners in the further development of the

nuclear deterrent. This enactment effectively barred the sharing of US atomic weaponry know-how with other countries. From being the special relation of the United States, Britain had become the poor relation [Cowing 1974, Vol.l, Ch.4J.


2.1.7 Britain's decision to make an atomic bomb of its own, involving as it did the diversion of economic resources from civilian consumption and from the restoration of the balance of payments, was taken at one of ner darkest economic hours, when factories were closing down all over the country for lack of coal. This was in January 1947 and the leading role in the development of Britain's independent deterrent was assigned to Dr W G Penney, who had taken part in the first American post-war atomic bomb tests at Bikini in July 1946 Libid·, Ch.6_|.

2.1.8 The first Russian atomic weapon test was held in

August 1948, almost three years after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. While Britain's program continued there were fluctuations in the degree of co-operation in atomic matters between her and the United States but there was a distinct setback to such co-operation when Klaus Fuchs, the naturalised British scientist who had worked at Los Alamos, and who had given

so much information to the Russians, was arrested as a spy on 2 February 1950 [ibid., Ch.9j.

2.1.9 Implicit in Britain's decision to make a bomb was the need to test it. In terms of economy of effort and resources there was a clear case for co-operation with the Americans if that were achievable, at least in the limited matter of testing.

In 1949 Britain asked that it be allowed to use the Americans' well-equipped testing areas. Atomic energy talks between the two countries were broken off in February 1950 after the arrest of Fuchs. However, hopes were still entertained that testing could be dealt with in purely military terms.

2.1.10 While keeping open the option of conducting its tests at American testing sites, the British decided that they must consider other possibilities. In September 1950, the Chiefs of Staff recommended to Prime Minister Attlee an Australian site

suggested by the Admiralty - the Monte Bello Islands. Australia was on the verge of getting in on the act [ibid., Ch.9j.

2.1.11 On 16 September 1950, the High Commission for the United Kingdom in Canberra passed to Prime Minister Menzies what it described as 'a top secret and personal message from

Mr Attlee' :

'During recent months we have been considering the arrangements which will be necessary for testing our own atomic weapon when it is ready. Among the most important of the various decisions which must be taken

is the choice of a suitable testing range. We asked the United States authorities earlier in the year whether they would let us use their own testing site at Eniwetok but so far we have had no firm reply and it is not clear when one may be expected. Meanwhile it is clearly advisable if only as a precaution to consider possible alternative sites in British Commonwealth

territory and to carry out a reconnaissance in the


selected area. This would not of course necessarily involve a firm decision to hold the test there. One possible site which has been suggested by our experts is the Monte Bello Islands off the north-west coast of Australia. I am telegraphing to you now to ask first

whether the Australian Government would be prepared in principle to agree that the first United Kingdom atomic weapon should be tested in Australian territory and secondly, if so, whether they would agree to our

experts making a detailed reconnaissance of the Monte Bello Islands so that a firm decision can be taken on their suitability. It will clearly take some little time for the survey to be organized and for its results

to be studied and if reconnaissance is to be really useful and effective we should like it to be put in hand at once. If you agree that the survey may be made we can then work out with your authorities the detailed

arrangements for it; these would include special arrangements for safeguarding secrecy.

'We are instructing the United Kingdom High

Commissioner in Canberra, who will give you this message, to take special precautions in his office tor handling this and all subsequent communications between us on the subject and it may be that the most

convenient arrangement would be for all future such communications to be channelled through him.

1 We are arranging to let your Resident Minister know personally and on a top secret basis about this

message . 1 |_KC BOO, p . 500021 J

2.1.12 Menzies immediately agreed to the proposal. There is no evidence in the documents produced to the Royal Commission which would indicate that he consulted any of his Cabinet colleagues.

2.1.13 In taking it upon himself to embrace British interests as being synonymous with those of Australia, and to expose his country and people to the risk of radioactive contamination, Menzies was merely acting according to his well-exposed Anglophilian sentiments. It was consistent with his approach when, as Prime Minister in 1939, he announced that as Britain was

at war with Germany, Australia also was automatically at war with the same enemy.

2.1.14 it is obvious today that many illusions were held in the world centres of power as to the nature of the new world which was to result from the existence of nuclear weapons. As the 1 balance of terror1 came to depend on the two super-powers

alone, the relevance of the possession of secondary nuclear arsenals by lesser powers such as the United Kingdom and France became more and more difficult to perceive. But at the time, those who shaped British defence policy obviously believed that


Britain's status in the world would be diminished if it did not possess all of the weapons possessed by other powers including wartime allies. As attested by his ready agreement to every request put to him by the British in relation to the test program

(see Ch.12), Menzies apparently regarded such a proposition as a self-evident truth. To believe otherwise would have been deemed to be unpatriotic. Unless this attitude of the time is

understood, the ready acceptance of the risks inherent in a program of nuclear tests and the justification for manipulation of public opinion which was taken for granted by the British

scientists involved cannot be comprehended.

2.1.15 On 26 March 1951, Attlee sent a further top secret and personal message to Menzies in the following terms:

11. Our experts have now examined the results of the reconnaissance of the Monte Bello Islands which was made last year with the help of the Australian

authorities. Their conclusions are:

(a) that it would be possible to conduct an

atomic weapons trial there, but

(b) that for climatic reasons this can be done only in the month of October.

'2. As matters stand it is essential to make

arrangements now for a prototype trial of our atomic weapon since until this is done it is impossible to settle the weapon's final design. For your own top secret and personal information we asked the United

States authorities recently whether they would let us use their range for testing our own weapons. They have replied that they are not in a position to consider the loan of such facilities to the United Kingdom until they are ready to put forward proposals which they are at present considering for co-operation with the United Kingdom in respect of the military uses of atomic energy. At present we see no reason to expect these proposals for some time to come and when we do get them

they will no doubt be the subject of fairly lengthy negotiations.

'3. My colleagues and I have decided that to wait any longer for the Americans would mean subjecting our plans to an intolerable delay. If therefore your Government would agree, we should like to go ahead now with preparations for a test in the Monte Bello Islands

in October, 1952, which is the earliest date by which a prototype of our weapon will be ready. It is of course wasteful and illogical to undertake a separate trial when the desired result could be achieved more

economically if full United States co-operation were forthcoming. To hold a trial in Australia will involve


us in a major diversion of resources in money and material from our defence programme. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that as matters stand there is no

satisfactory alternative to our going ahead with preparations to hold the trial without Unites States help.

'4. in the light of the foregoing my colleagues and 1 accordingly now wish to ask whether the Australian Government are prepared to agree formally that (a) if necessary the trial should be held next year in the Monte Bello Islands and (b) that preparations to this

end should begin forthwith between the authorities concerned in our two countries. We hope that you will be willing to help with the preparation of the site for the test and with the logistic support of the

expedition which will be needed to conduct it; we should be glad to arrange for your experts to take part in observation of the effects of the test. We can settle later details of finance and machinery.

'5. If you and your government agree to our request 1 would propose then to inform the Americans and

Canadians of our intentions. In view of the waste and duplication of effort involved in a separate trial it is possible that this may lead the United States Government to put forward without further delay an

offer which would enable us to use their testing facilities. In that event it will be for consideration whether or not to proceed with the Monte Bello trial. Even if the United States offer were made at a

comparatively late stage in our preparations (and after we may both have incurred expenses) it might well be to the general advantage to accept it and thus minimize the diversion of effort. But meanwhile 1 fee 1 sure

that the only safe course is to proceed on the

assumption that we shall have to manage alone.

'6. There is one further aspect which 1 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.


'7. We are arranging to let your Resident Minister know personally and on a top secret basis about this message.

'8. Thank you for your message to me in Australian Government telegram No. 39 to the Commonwealth Relations Office about the possibility of a joint United Kingdom/Australian programme of atomic energy development in the industrial field. We are examining your suggestions and I will telegraph an answer to your message as soon as possible.' IRC 800, pp.510008-11j

2.1.16 It is not apparent how the figure of three years in item 6 was reached. Evidence given to the Royal Commission established beyond doubt that it was a considerable underestimate of the duration of contamination of the Islands which resulted

from the first test, code-named 'Hurricane', and from subsequent tests.

2.1.17 When Attlee's message was delivered to Menzies by the United Kingdom's High Commissioner, Menzies pointed out that he was unable to give a final decision until after the elections

which were then pending in Australia. Menzies was duly returned to power in May 1951 and was not slow in giving the British Government the all-clear which he had deferred.

2.1.18 Even at this late stage, as can be seen from Attlee's communication of 26 March (see para.2.1.15), the British Government had not finally abandoned hope that the Americans might yet come to the party and make the use of the Monte Bellos as a test site unnecessary. While preparations to use that site continued discussions also continued between the British and American Governments. In mid-September the Americans made an

alternative proposal that there should be a joint test program in Nevada and Penney flew to Washington for consultations.

2.1.19 Lord Penney's evidence before the Royal Commission on this subject makes interesting reading. When the President asked him if the Americans had refused to make Nevada available for the British tests he replied:

'They did not say that Your Honour. What they said [wasj you could go to one of our sites - they had two, one in the Pacific, one in Nevada - providing certain things are done...they would do the tests and they would want a drawing of exactly what was in it; that kind of information and our Government said: "No, that

is unacceptable"; but 1 would have taken it and the reason was that 1 wanted to get back to Anglo-American collaboration. That was the reason. ' LTrans., p .4 312 j

2.1.20 The decision to use tne Monte Bellos rather than Nevada (subject to the restrictions imposed by the Americans) is described by Cowing [1974, Vol.2, p .479J in the following terms:


‘British opinion was divided, both before and after his LPenney'sj return. He himself favoured the Nevada offer; to accept it would be in line with the general policy of seeking collaboration with the United States,

it would have various intangible advantages, and it would cost less in terms of money and effort,

especially as the Monte Bello plans would lay a heavy burden on the Navy. Politically there would be

advantages, however, in showing the world that Britain could produce and test an atomic weapon on her own, it might be safer to keep the operation under British control;...‘

2.1.21 in his evidence Lord Penney referred specifically to the Cowing account of the way this decision was taken. It can accordingly be reasonably regarded as accurate [Trans . , p . 4 J1 3 _|.

2.1.22 It is therefore apparent that Britain's determination to show the world that it still had a place in the big league of world powers was an important factor in the British Government's decision to confer on Australia rather than America the honour of providing a site for Britain's nuclear tests.

2.1.23 While discussions were continuing which finally led to the rejection by Britain of the Nevada option, the Monte Bello arrangements proceeded. An important political event occurred at this time: in October 1951 the Attlee Labour Government was

replaced by the Churchill Conservative Government.

2.1.24 On 27 December 1951, the United Kingdom's hign

Commissioner indicated to the Australian Government that the test would definitely proceed at the Monte Bello site. Thus Australia became the oval on which Britain's nuclear game was to be played.

2.1.25 The gung-ho attitude of Menzies and his Ministers to Australia's modest role in the tests is summed up in a press statement of his accident-prone Minister of Supply, Mr Howard Beale. Although this statement dated 4 May 1955 was made in

relation to the Maralinga tests, it illustrates the Menzies Government's enthusiasm for its part in the tests as a whole:

'It is a challenge to Australian men to show that the pioneering spirit of their forefathers who developed our country is still the driving force of achievement.

' The whole project is a striking example of

inter-Commonwealth co-operation on the grand scale. England has the bomb and the knowhow; we have the open spaces, much technical skill and great willingness to help the Motherland.

'Between us, we shall help to build the defences of the free world, and make historic advances in harnesslng the forces of nature' . [RC 597j


2.1.26 A sidelight on the negotiations between the British and Australian Governments during the period following Attlee's initial approach and the final decision to hold the tests in Australia concerns Sir Ernest Titterton about whom much will be

heard in this report. Dr Titterton, as he then was, was a

British physicist who had been a member of the British scientific mission sent to the USA in 1943 to take part in the development of the first nuclear weapon. After the war he took up a research post at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) at


2.1.27 In 1950, he was appointed to the Chair of Nuclear

Physics in the newly created Australian National University at Canberra. Before he left Britain to take up his post, the following letter was sent on 5 January 1951 by Mr Michael Perrin to Mr R C C hunt of the Commonwealth Relations Office, London:

' I am writing, at Lord Portal's request and after discussion yesterday with him, Cockcroft and Penney,to ask whether your office could arrange to pass a message to Mr. Menzies from Lord Portal.

' The question concerns a scientist, Dr. Titterton, who would be able to make very valuable contributions to the suggested Monte Bello trial in the autumn of 1952.

'Dr. Titterton, who has been a member of the Harwell staff, recently accepted a post with Professor Oliphant at Canberra University and is due to take this up in the near future. if Professor Oliphant was willing to postpone getting his services, we believe that Dr. Titterton would be prepared to do the necessary work in connection with the Monte Bello test before going to Canberra University and we would be most grateful if Mr. Menzies (who, of course knows all about the Monte Bello trial while Professor Oliphant does not) could, on his return to Australia, persuade Professor Oliphant to agree to let us retain

Dr. Titterton' s services till the end of 1952. ' IRC 559, Bundle A, p .53J

Lord Portal, the distinguished wartime Chief of the Air Staff, had been appointed in 1945 as Controller of Atomic Energy within the Ministry of Supply. Mr Perrin was Deputy Controller (Technical Policy) under Lord Portal. Professor Cockcroft was Director of AERE Harwell.

2.1.28 At the time, Menzies was on one of his frequent visits to London. He saw Cockcroft on 18 January 1951 and agreed that on his return to Australia he would ask Professor Oliphant to release Dr Titterton to join the British scientific team at the projected hurricane test.


2.1.29 In his evidence before the Royal Commission, Titter ton was at pains to give the impression that his participation in Hurricane was solely as a result of an approach to him by the Australian Prime Minister's Office in April 1952:

1 He (.Menzies j wished, in view of my experience... to appoint me as an observer at the forthcoming Monte Bello test. He asked that I give all possible help to Dr Penney's team and at the same time look after

Australian interests in all possible ways. 1 l_KC 522, Tittertonj

2.1.30 It is inconceivable, especially in the light of Titterton1s cavalier treatment of the truth throughout his testimony (which will be documented later) that he did not know that he had been planted on Menzies. As a member and later Chairman of the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee (AWTSC),

which came into being before the Mosaic trials in 195b and which continued to be responsible thenceforward for ensuring that the tests were carried out with full regard for the safety of the Australian mainland and population, Titterton can hardly b<·

considered to have been at arm's length from the British. His background, the manner of his appointment and his own view of his role as a member of a British and Australian 'team' hardly ensured a detached and independent approach to what was

ostensibly his primary task in relation to the trials |_Trans. , p .7644j - the protection of the Australian population.

2.1.31 In this context it is interesting to note the remarks of Sir Macfarlane Burnet at the initial meeting of the National Radiation Advisory Committee in 1957. Referring to the AWTSC, he


'The primary reason for the formation of this Committee was to maintain public confidence that adequate measures were being taken to prevent medical and genetic damage from tests of nuclear weapons carried

out in Australia.

'There must always be a public suspicion - sometimes not without foundation - that any group of men

directly concerned in the success of an enterprise will be inclined to minimise danger and to resent any safety precautions which will impede the enterprise. The political requirement is therefore for an uninvolved body to be available to satisfy itself that

precautions for the public safety are adequate and to report this to Government and people. ' LHC tiOU, p.570992]

2.1.32 This confusion about roles is also reflected in a letter from Menzies to his Defence Minister, Sir Philip McBride, on lb May 1955 |_RC 800, p. 550706 j:


1 As you know, officers of our Departments, have been giving some thought to the establishment of a "Safety Committee" to check the safety aspects of each future atomic test in Australia.

‘1 have now been able to look into the matter, and have formed the conclusion that the Committee should consist of five members originally suggested, namely, Professors L. H. Martin, E. W. Titterton and

J. P. Baxter, Mr. W. A. S. Butement and Dr. C. E. Eddy. 1 know that your Department had later favoured a Committee of three. However, 1 believe that the Committee must include members who are sufficiently well known to command general confidence as guardians

of the public interest, and who are not in any way to be identified as having an interest in the success of defence atomic experiments. I doubt whether a

Committee of less than five could be constituted which would meet these requirements, particularly if the Defence Scientific Adviser and the Chief Scientist of the Department of Supply are to be included.

1 I would propose that the Committee should report to me through the Minister for Supply, whose Department might also undertake to service the Committee.

1 1 should be glad to know whether you agree with my views on this matter. 1

2.1.S3 Titterton's eloquence must have matched that of Menzies himself if he was able to convince him that he was 'not in any way to be identified as having an interest in the success of defence atomic experiments'.


2.1.34 The Royal Commission received no evidence to disturb the overwhelming impression that the original decision to make the Monte Bello Islands available to the United Kingdom for the purpose of the latter's first nuclear test was taken by

Australian Prime Minister Menzies without reference to his Cabinet.





3.1 Nuclear Weapons


3.1.1 In 1934, the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi and his colleagues observed that, when subjected to neutron bombardment, stable isotopes of elements absorb neutrons and the products are often radioactive. All radioactive isotopes undergo a random process of decay to a more stable form with the emission ot

various radiations. This process is called 'radioactive decay'-3-1-2 Radioactive decay of a particular radioactive isotope can be characterised very conveniently in terms of the time for

an initial number of atoms to be reduced to half that number by the decay process. This characteristic time is known as the 'half-life1 of that isotope. Because the half-life and the emitted radiations are characteristic of a particular isotope, they provide an important and convenient means for distinguishing that radioisotope from others. Fermi had observed a wide variety of half-lives from less than one second to many thousands of years.

3.1.3 In their studies, Fermi and his colleagues had

investigated the possibility of forming transuranic elements. They used uranium-238, the most abundant isotope of earth's heaviest natural element (element 92), and subjected it to neutron bombardment. It was found that the uranium-238 atom did

absorb a neutron into its nucleus to become uranium-239. This new radioactive isotope has a half-life of about 23 minutes, decaying by beta emission to a radioactive isotope,

neptunium-239, of a new transuranic element. It was shown that subsequently neptunium-239 decays with a half-life of about 2.3 days to another new transuranic element, plutonium-239.

3.1.4 Fermi assumed that this isotope also decayed by

radioactive disintegration, producing other transuranic elements [Cowing 1965, p .23 j. However, other researchers including Hahn and Strassmann in 1938 found evidence that neutron bombardment of uranium also produced lighter elements than uranium. Lise Meitner and 0 R Frisch proposed that

'...the arrival of a neutron in a uranium nucleus set up violent internal motions in the latter and caused it to split into two more-or-less equal fragments. These


fragments would each have roughly half the mass and half the nuclear charge of the uranium atom and would therefore be atoms of elements in the middle of the periodic table.' LCowing 1965, p.25]

3.1.5 The division of the uranium nucleus following the capture of a neutron, named by Frisch the ' fission process', leads to the creation of a number of ' fission products'

comprising isotopes of elements in the range 30 (zinc) to 64 (gadolinium). More importantly, the splitting of the uranium nucleus releases a substantial amount of energy together with the emission of more neutrons.

3.1.6 The release of neutrons in the fission process makes possible the chain reaction process which is fundamental to the operation of nuclear reactors and weapons. These free neutrons can interact with other uranium nuclei, causing more fissions with the consequent release of more energy and more free neutrons. If the chain reaction is controlled, as is the case in a reactor, then the energy generated can be used to provide

thermal heat and electrical power. However, if the chain reaction is uncontrolled, the energy can be released as a massive explosion.

3.1.7 The first observations of the fission process were made using natural uranium which has 99.3 per cent of uranium-23b with the balance made up by the lighter isotope uranium-235. In 1939, Niels Bohr indicated that this isotope was more likely to undergo

fission than uranium-238. Uranium-235 will fission when bombarded by neutrons of any speed. It is the latter isotope which is more likely to produce a chain reaction. Later studies showed that plutonium-239 and uranium-233 were also usable in

fission weapons; these isotopes are bred, respectively, from uranium-238 and thorium-232 in nuclear reactors.

3-1.8 Britain's first test weapon, exploded in the Monte Bello Islands in October 1952 (Hurricane), was a plutonium-239 bomb which used an implosion technique. This technique was also employed in the second atomic bomb, released over Nagasaki, and

replaced the 'gun' technique used in the Hiroshima atomic bomb. It reduced the likelihood of a premature chain reaction and increased the ultimate explosive yield of the weapon.

3-1.9 In its simplest form, an atomic weapon employing the implosion technique consists of a series of concentric spherical shells. The outer shell is composed of a quantity of chemical explosive with detonators placed around the outer surface to ensure uniform detonation. When the bomb is detonated, the resultant ingoing shock wave causes the next spherical shell, the

'tamper', to compress and then to compress and densify the fissile core to a supercritical state. At the instant of maximum density, a neutron source is actuated to provide neutrons which start the chain reaction and the energy build-up.


3.1.10 The tamper is usually constructed from a very dense material which can be depleted or natural uranium. It acts not only as a compression agent but also as a neutron reflector returning escaping neutrons from the chain reaction to the

interior core, thus enhancing the explosive yield. If the tamper is made of uranium, additional fission reactions can take place in either of the two uranium isotopes. Despite some technical problems associated with the use of plutonium, these are offset by the ability to produce weapons that are physically small and of reduced weight with a higher yield-to-weight ratio.

3.1.11 The power of the nuclear weapon is usually called the 'yield' and is given in terms of TNT equivalence. The two units used are the kiloton (kt) and the megaton (Mt), which are equivalent to 1000 and 1 million tons of TNT respectively.

The Use of Light Elements as a 'Boost'

3.1.12 Tne intention of the British Government to develop a hydrogen bomb predated the Hurricane test by some months. The decision, according to Eden in his memoirs [cited in Groom 1974, p. 100] was made in 1952 on the basis of knowledge gained by British scientists during their secondment to Los Alamos in the

second half of World War II.

3.1.13 Although thermonuclear weapons (H-bombs) were not exploded in Australia either at the Monte Bello Islands or at Maralinga, some of the tests carried out at these sites were associated with the developmental program for Britain's H-bomb

program and trials at Christmas Island in the Pacific. A specific association of light elements with the British program was given in Sir Anthony Eden's message to Mr Menzies in May 1955 [RC BOO, p.550712]. The Mosaic tests were to be experiments which consisted of 'atomic explosions with the inclusion of light

elements as a boost'. The yields were to be no more than two and a half times greater than the Hurricane test. Eden stressed that the explosions were to be atomic not thermonuclear.

3.1.14 The light elements referred to above are hydrogen, particularly the heavier isotopes deuterium and tritium, and the element lithium (two naturally occurring isotopes, lithium-6 and the more prevalent lithium-7) . They are often combined in the

form of hydrides - lithium deuteride and lithium tritide.

3.1.15 When these materials are assembled together with a fission device, neutrons from the fission chain reaction, following detonation, react with lithium nuclei to produce other energetic light nuclei of helium and hydrogen. A complex sequence of nuclear reactions among the light elements is possible, raising the temperature at the centre of the exploding

device in excess of ten million degrees Celsius within a period


of microseconds. Further neutrons are released which can add additional energy from further fissions (.see, for example, Wilkie 1984, p .29 j .

3.1.16 The fission explosion yield is thus 1 boosted' by the presence of the light elements. During this sequence of nuclear events, the extra explosive energy comes from neutron-induced

reaction, not from a general fusion of the light elements present although some deuterium and tritium atoms may gain enough thermal energy to fuse together when the temperature has risen above a

few million degrees Celsius. The yield would not be

significantly increased by their reaction since the quantity of light elements used would have been small compared with that used in an H-bomb. Each of these aspects tends to bear out the Eden comment to Menzies that the Mosaic devices were not


Thermonuclear Weapons

3.1.17 In the fusion process, the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium have enough thermal energy to fuse together at temperatures exceeding several million degrees Celsius. As explained above, achievement of this starting temperature is possible if a boosted fission device is used as an 1 atomic detonator1 and the components are encased in a massive cladding which, for a time, confines the energy and the material. The heated mixture experiences nuclear fusion reactions of increasing

intensity with a consequent rapid increase of temperature. The nuclear reaction rate increases rapidly as a result so that, in a very brief instant, the light elements mostly react with an enormous energy release at temperatures in excess of one hundred million degrees Celsius |_De Volpi et al. 1981, Ch. 5 j.

3.1.18 At a given temperature, the time required for a

considerable fraction of the total number of nuclei to take part in the fusion sequence is inversely proportional to the density of the mixture. To achieve such a protracted high density state, the fusion-explosive mixture must remain in a compressed, condensed state for as long as possible under the influence of

its 'atomic detonator1. Only then can the complex sequence of fusion reactions initiated by the fission reaction continue for an adequate time. The British tests in Australia only included development tests up to the 'atomic detonator' stage and the test of a British H-bomb was undertaken at Christmas Island in the Pacific in 1957.

General Effects of the Nuclear Bombs

3.1.19 The underlying principle of all nuclear explosives, whether used as weapons or for peaceful purposes is that, on a


weight for weight basis, they are able to liberate much greater quantities of energy than is possible with conventional chemical explosives.

3.1.20 This energy is released in various forms (Table 3.1.1), including the blast which destroys structures and the thermal radiation which can generate fire over quite substantial distances.

TABLE 3.1.1

Energy Release by Nuclear Explosion

Form Percentage

Blast, shock wave 45

Thermal radiation 35

Initial nuclear radiations 5

Residual radiation from fission products 15

Source: UK Home Office 1982, p .2

3.1.21 When the uranium or plutonium atoms in the bomb are split in the fission process, each split atom leaves two atoms, known as fission products, which are usually radioactive. The splitting of the heavy atoms occurs in different ways so that the

fission product atoms produced by one fission are usually different from the fission product atoms produced by another fission. In all, the fissions products from the explosion include over 300 isotopes from 36 different elements. A 10 kt

explosion produces about 3 x 1024 fission product atoms weighing about 0.57 kg LGlasstone and Dolan 197 7, para.9.12j.

3.1.22 Many neutrons are released by the fission process and those not absorbed by the plutonium or uranium fuel are

ultimately captured by materials around the bomb, including the bomb components, the atmospheric gases, the soil and anything else on the earth's surface. Many of the materials that capture

neutrons become radioactive. This is known as induced activity. The amount of activity induced in the bomb components depends on the detailed bomb design.

3.1.23 The radioactive fission product isotopes decay by emitting beta and gamma radiation over various times. Initially much of the activity is associated with short-lived

radioisotopes, but as these decay, the total activity decreases.


3.1.24 An estimate provided in evidence to the US Congress Special sub-committee on Radiation (.US Congress 195 7, p . 9 3 ] gave the gamma activities in fission products from a nominal yield (about 20 kt) fission bomb (Table 3.1.2).

TABLE 3.1.2

Gamma Activities in Fission Products From a Nominal Yield Fission Bomb

Time Activity

(MCi )

Time Activity


1 minute 820 000 1 month 2.3

1 hour 6 000 1 year 0.11

1 day 133 10 years 0.008

1 week 13 100 years 0.0006

Source: US Congress 1957, p .93

The gamma dose rate from fallout between 10 minutes after the explosion and six months after is, to a reasonable approximation, proportional to the reciprocal of time to the power 1.2

LGlasstone and Dolan 1977, para.9.16].

3.1.25 At the instant of explosion everything in the vicinity of the bomb is vaporised. The fission products, bomb residues, structures and natural objects are drawn up and vaporised in the fireball that forms on detonation. The fireball cools as it

expands and rises in the atmosphere. When the fireball has cooled to about 3000 degrees Celsius the vaporised materials condense into liquid droplets, some of which solidify about 20 seconds after the blast when the fireball has cooled to about

1500 degrees Celsius, the melting point of soil and iron oxides LHicks 1982j.

3.1.26 As the fireball cools, it sheds some of its heavier radioactive particles locally; lighter particulate is carried further afield by prevailing winds and subsequently is deposited as radioactive fallout.

3.1.27 in the case of a surface, or near-surface burst, there is massive damage by fire, blast and radiation within the vicinity of the burst. High levels of radioactive contamination are left close to ground zero.

3.1.28 The results of an airburst are somewhat different, the total effect being dependent not only on yield but on height of


the burst. Here, the fireball is essentially free of contact with the earth, with only a small amount of debris being drawn up a quite narrow stem. Consequently, the induced radioactivity is less and the local fallout is relatively light.

The Formation of Cloud and Fallout

3.1.29 As was noted above, the amount of radioactivity

produced by an atomic bomb can be extremely large, and much of it is carried into the atmosphere by the fireball. The smaller radioactive particles that do not fall to the ground locally are carried well beyond the range of blast destruction; indeed, some

very fine fallout particles are carried around the world by the wind before they reach the ground.

3.1.30 Materials and soil close to the point of explosion but not vaporised by the fireball are also melted into liquid droplets many of which are taken up into the cloud. The melted soil left on the ground resolidifies into glazing such as was observed at the Maralinga and Emu test sites. For a near-surface or surface burst the strong winds from the blast also sweep up

unmelted soil particles into the cloud. The turbulence in the cloud mixes the various components, causing fission products and other radioactive materials to condense onto the various particles in the cloud, making them all radioactive.

3.1.31 The hot gases in the cloud behave like a hot air

balloon and the cloud rises rapidly; e.g. at about 200 km/h at 30 seconds after a 20 kt explosion LGlasstone and Dolan 1957, para.2.47j. As well as the turbulent motion of the gases in the cloud, there is an overall toroidal circulation, somewhat like a

smoke ring. The gases circulate up through the centre and down the outside. As the cloud material moves around from the top to the base it becomes mixed with the cooler surrounding air, making it less bouyant than the main cloud. The overall circulation pattern of the cloud tends to draw this diluted material in

towards the centre forming the characteristic narrow stem beneath the main cloud LRC 418, TPN 42/56j.

3.1.32 The rapidly rising cloud and the extremely hot patch of ground beneath it cause air to be drawn inwards and upwards behind the cloud, raising a column, or jet, of dust and debris. This jet forms a subsidiary cloud, lower in radioactivity and of different composition from the main cloud and stem [RC 418, TPN 42/56j.

3.1.33 As the cloud rises, it cools by expansion and mixing with the surrounding air. It continues to rise until the temperature of the cloud is the same as that of the surrounding air or, more accurately, when the density of the cloud equals the density of the surrounding air - In some cases, if the cloud has

entrained high humidity air, the water vapour will condense when


the cloud temperature decreases below the dew point. if this happens, the latent heat released by the condensing water vapour will cause the cloud to rise to an even greater height.

3.1.34 When the cloud stops rising, it leaves radioactive material at various heights. This material continues to spread horizontally as it is carried by the prevailing wind. The wind speed and direction usually differs at different heights, a phenomenon known as the wind shear. A wind shear causes

different layers of the cloud to go in different directions and acts to disperse the radioactivity in the cloud.

3.1.35 The head of the mushroom cloud contains nearly all of the fission products and bomb debris, and can account for over 90 per cent of the radioactivity from the explosion. The amount

of material in the stem is less for waterbursts and almost zero for high airbursts [Glasstone and Dolan 1977, para.9.61j.

3.1.36 Most of the radioactivity in the cloud is in the form of particles of various sizes, all of which begin to fall towards the ground. The time taken to reach the ground depends on the size of the particles, for example a particle of 200 micrometres

radius would take one hour to fall from 40 000 feet, whereas a particle of radius 25 micrometres would take 20 hours to fall the same distance. Some of the very small particles take months to reach the ground. Ultimately all the particles reach the surface of the earth as fallout.

3.1.37 The proportions of the different radionuclides in fallout varies with the distance from ground zero. This process is known as fractionation. It occurs because the different materials have different melting points and condense at different

times as the fireball cools. This causes some radionuclides to be preferentially deposited on large particles, and other radionuclides to be deposited on small particles.

3.2 Nuclear Radiation

Types and Properties of Nuclear Radiations

3.2.1 Radiation is emitted during a nuclear explosion and also emanates from radioactive particulate carried away in sections of the cloud and stem and later deposited as fallout.

3-2.2 Many but not all radionuclides emit gamma rays which have considerable penetrating power. Consequently, dense shielding is used for protective purposes. Gamma rays (and X-rays) interact with any material through which they pass,

producing ionisation in that material. This type of ionising radiation can cause both internal or external radiation exposure. Most gamma radiation is sufficiently penetrating to cause exposure to organs deep within the body.


3*2.3 Beta radiation consists of high speed electrons coining from the nuclei of many natural and artificial radioisotopes. The beta particle is ejected from the nucleus at near the speed of light. Most beta particles have energies below 1 MeV but they do not penetrate more than a few millimetres in human tissue.

3.2.4 Alpha particles are associated with the heavier

radioactive atoms such as radium, the transuranics such as plutonium and the actinides. They are emitted from the nucleus of a decaying radioactive atom with energies up to 10 MeV. Alpha particles have a much shorter range than beta particles in air

and have negligible penetrating ability in the human skin. in fact, they are absorbed by the epidermis, that part of the skin devoid of living cells. Alpha emitters are, nevertheless, hazardous to man if ingested or inhaled, or taken into the body via an open wound (injected).

3.2.5 If radioactive materials enter the body by ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through the skin, e.g. via an open wound, all three types of radiation alpha, beta and gamma - will irradiate the body tissues. Many beta emitters associated with atomic weapons concentrate in specific organs of the body, e.g.

iodine-131 in the thyroid and strontium-90 in bone marrow.

3.2.6 Neutrons are an essential component of the chain

reaction used to produce the explosion. Their effect on humans would be experienced during the initial release of radiation from the exploding bomb. Neutrons behave differently to other radiations. As they pass through a body they knock on protons

from hydrogenous materials; these protons ionise anything in their relatively short path. Very few neutrons are emitted from the fission products in fallout.

3.2.7 All over the earth there is a background level of

radiation. This comes from a number of sources including cosmic radiation and the radioactive decay from radioisotopes contained in the earth, its waters and all material things. Since the early 1950s, some of the background radiation has been

contributed by fallout from nuclear weapons test programs.

3.2.8 The level of background radiation varies from place to place, depending on both the variety and quantity of naturally occurring radioisotopes in earth, water or materials of construction. Its level is dependent also on height above sea

level. The cosmic rays are partially absorbed by the atmosphere, with the result that the radiation dose from cosmic rays increases with increasing altitude.

3.2.9 The annual dose at sea level from natural sources in areas of normal background is about 2 mSv (i.e. 200 mrem) of which about half is from inhalation of radon and its daughters and fifteen per cent is from cosmic rays.


Units of Radiation and Radioactivity

3.2.10 A number of units of radiation and radioactivity were used throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the period of weapons testing in Australia. In recent times these units have been replaced, the new units conforming to the International System of metric units (the SI system). The more recent units are defined

in the Glossary (Appendix B ). The principal units in use at the time of the British tests were the roentgen (r,R), the rep, the rem, the rad and the curie (Ci).

3.2.11 Originally, the roentgen was used to describe a

quantity of X-rays, but later the definition was extended to include gamma radiation. Essentially it is the quantity of radiation causing a given amount of ionisation during its passage through a certain volume of air. The use of the roentgen

presented a number of problems. It could not be used for other types of radiation; it was essentially a measurement of dose in air and not in other materials; it was difficult to measure; and it was based on ionisation rather than the effect of ionisation and energy absorption.

3.2.12 The rep, or roentgen equivalent physical, was

introduced to provide a unit for radiation produced by particles. It was originally defined as the amount of radiation producing an energy absorption in tissue equal to that deposited by 1 r of X-rays.

3.2.13 The rad, or roentgen absorbed dose, was introduced as a unit of absorbed dose of any ionising radiation in any type of material. The absorbed dose was described unambiguously as 1 the amount of energy imparted to matter by ionising particles per unit mass of irradiated material at the place of interest1

[Barnes and Taylor 1963, p.llj. The rad has recently been replaced by an SI unit, the gray, as the unit of absorbed dose (1 gray = 100 rad).

3.2.14 It was recognised that the biological effect of

radiation in human tissue depends on factors other than the amount of energy deposited. These include distribution of the absorbed energy in the tissue and the type of radiation. The rate of energy absorption by tissue, or other absorbing medium, by an ionising particle is called the 'linear energy transfer1

(LET); LET refers to the energy imparted to a limited volume of an absorber. Alpha particles have a high LET and gamma rays and high energy beta rays have a low LET.

3.2.15 The effectiveness of different radiations to produce a given amount of damage in tissue was defined by a parameter called 'relative biological effectiveness1 (RBE) which was later redefined as the 1 quality factor1 . The value of RBE varies from

1.0 for gammas, X-rays and higher energy betas, to 10 or more for alpha particles and heavy ions. The product, absorbed dose (rad)


multiplied by RBE gives the dose equivalent in rem (roentgen equivalent man). Recently the rem has been replaced by the sievert (Sv) as the SI unit of dose equivalent (1 sievert equals 100 rem).

3.2.16 The final important unit of measurement was the curie (Ci), the unit of the quantity of a radioactive material. A radioactive material has an activity of 1 Ci when it

disintegrates at a rate of 3.7 x 1010 disintegrations per second. One gram of radium has an activity of one curie. The curie has recently been replaced by the becquerel (Bq) as the unit of radioactivity. One becquerel describes a disintegration rate of

one disintegration per second.

3.3 The Detection of Radioactivity

3-3.1 To protect human beings from the hazards of

radioactivity, the development of an array of instruments and other devices was essential for the determination of radiation dose rate, levels of radioactive contamination in air, water and on surfaces, and the doses accumulated by persons exposed to


3.3.2 Many of the devices used during the British weapons test program were developed at research establishments such as Aldermaston and Harwell. Some of this equipment was experimental or at the prototype stage, so in effect the weapons tests were

used to test the efficiency of new instrumentation. Many of the instruments used were cumbersome, being a product of the first phase of electronics which involved the use of vacuum valves, other bulky electrical components and hard wiring. Progress

towards the evolution of miniaturised instrumentation did not commence until the mid-60s, with the increasing use of the transistor, the printed circuit and eventually, in the 1970s, the microchip.

3.3.3 A major factor in the use of such instrumentation in the field is the relative bulk and portability when used in the field under potentially hazardous conditions. Such problems can be exacerbated if the operator is encumbered by bulky protective clothing, respirators and other equipment. Indeed accurate

readings may not be possible if the inexperienced operator is suffering from any form of discomfort caused by clothing, heat or apprehension about the potential radioactive hazard. The effectiveness of the instrument is dependent also on other

characteristics including its range of energy response, its sensitivity, and the quality of its calibration against known radioactive standards.


Types of Detection Instruments

3.3.4 A variety of detection instruments was used throughout the tests including the Geiger-Mueller (G-M) counter, the ionisation chamber, the proportional counter and scintillators. They could be used for various functions including air sampling, the detection of ground contamination, and the assessment of the

radiation dose rate from a radioactive source. Film badges and quartz fibre electroscopes (QFE) were used to measure the dose accrued by an individual.

3.3.5 In simple terms, the first three types of counter have the same basic design. The detector is a metal or glass chamber containing a pair of electrodes (cathode, anode) connected to a mains or battery power supply. The chamber is filled with an appropriate mixture of gases. When ionising radiation enters

this chamber it produces electrons and positive ions which are collected on the cathode and anode. If the instantaneous current flowing from the counter is measured, this level of current, and hence radiation can be recorded on a graph or meter. If

individual particles are being measured through the ionisation they produce, each pulse of current can be recorded by a

numerical counter. Dependent on the type of instrument used, the reading may give the dose rate in roentgens, rads or reps per hour or it may indicate the contamination level in pulses or counts per second (cps) or minute (cpm).

3.3.6 The instruments commonly used at the British tests in Australia are listed, together with their salient features where known, in Tables 3.3.1 and 3.3.2. Other instruments in use during the trials included dosimeters to record the initial gamma

flash, a number of experimental portable and installed dose rate and contamination instruments, laboratory equipment and a range of portable and permanent airborne dust samplers.

Ionisation chamber

3.3.7 Many of the instruments used during the British tests were based on the ionisation chamber. The current from an ionisation chamber is proportional to the dose rate of the radiation. To permit the measurement of alpha and beta

radiation, some ionisation chamber instruments are fitted with a thin 1 window1 section. When covered, the instrument admits gamma and X-rays only. When uncovered, it will admit beta particles too and, if the material from which the window is constructed is

sufficiently thin, it will also admit alpha particles. The detection of alpha particles will be discussed elsewhere.


The Geiger-Mueller counter

3.3.8 An instrument using a G-M tube is more sensitive than an ionisation chamber and is used widely in portable instruments for measuring dose rate and detecting the presence of

radioactivity. Unlike the ionisation chamber, the G-M tube allows the ionisation from each beta particle or each X- or gamma ray to be recorded. Geiger-Mueller instrumentation may be designed to indicate counts per second (or minute), and in this

form is used to detect the presence of radioactivity. It may also be designed to indicate the radiation dose rate. Like the ionisation chamber instruments, the G-M tube may be fitted with a shield to discriminate between beta radiation and gamma or X-radiation.

TABLE 3.3.1

Some Dose Rate Monitoring Instruments Used During the Tests

Type Radiation Dose Range Remarks

Avo Survey meter Portable, ion chamber

beta, gamma

0-500 r/h Not considered

as reliable as other instruments

Radiac No. 2 Survey meter Portable, ion chamber

beta, gamma

3 ranges 0-300 r/h

Modified at Buffalo to read lower by a factor of 10

1043 Survey meter Portable, ion chamber

gamma 0-16 mr/h Used to survey

dose rates

1092 Survey monitor Portable

beta, gamma

Mk 1 0-10

Mk 2 0-50 mr/h mr/h

1171 Field rate meter Portable, G-M tube

gamma Not known Adapted for

aerial survey of dose rate from fallout

1181 Car survey meter Portable, G-M tube

gamma Not known Adapted for

aerial survey of fallout



TABLE 3.3.1 (contd)

Type Radiation Dose Range Remarks

1262 Dose rate meter Portable, proportional counter filled with boron trifluoride

neutrons Not known

1312 Survey meter Portable, ion chamber

gamma 2 ranges

0-100 r/h

Based on earlier type 1155 instru­


1313 Survey meter Portable, ion chamber

gamma 3 ranges

0-5 r/h

Based on earlier type 1193. Widely used at a number of tests

1314 Survey meter Portable, ion chamber

beta 2 ranges

0-50 rep/h

Based on the type 1043

1385 Telemeter/log dose rate meter

gamma Not known Continuous

record of fallout dose rate

1390 Survey meter Portable, ion chamber

gamma 10 scales

10 mr/h 30 r/h

Ground survey of dose rate from deposited fallout

1391 Survey meter Portable, ion chamber

beta, gamma

4 scales 0-100 r/h (gamma) 0-10 rep/h


Used to monitor beta dose rate from deposited


1398 Aerial survey monitor Installed, scintillation counter

gamma 4 scales

0-2.5 r/h

Used to monitor dose rates from contamina­ tion. Fitted with chart recorder

Sources: Marley [1949], Barnes & Taylor [1958, 1963]; AW RE & AERE Reports in Exhibit List.


TABLE 3.3.2

Some Contamination Monitors Used During the Tests

Type Radiation Count Range Remarks

Radiac No. 1 Survey meter Portable, G-M tube

beta, gamma

Area surveys. Also adaptable for liquid counting

1021 Contamination monitor fitted with G-M and scintillation probes

alpha, beta, gamma

3 scales 0-2000 cps Also fitted with a 1/10


Widely used. Personnel and equipment monitoring, decontamina­

tion work

1295 Contamination monitor Portable, fitted with G-M and scintillation probes

alpha, beta, gamma

Calibrated to Portable indicate when version of preset level the type 1021 reached. Alarm bell triggered

if reading high

1027 Hand and foot monitor Installed, G-M and

scintillation probes

alpha, beta, gamma

Personnel monitoring

1093 Monitor Scintillation probe

alpha No further

details available

1319 Hand and clothing monitor Installed, G-M and

scintillation probes

alpha, beta, gamma

Calibrated to Personnel indicate when monitoring present level reached. Alarm bell triggered

if reading high

1320 Survey meter Portable, G-M and scintillation probes

alpha, beta, gamma

2 scales 0-1000 cps Also fitted

with a 1/10 function

Area surveys, cloud tracking and other


1368 Radiation survey meter Portable, G-M tubes

gamma 5 log scales

in ranges 1 mrem/h to 600 mrem/h

General dose rate moni­ toring

Source: Marley [1949]; Barnes & Taylor [1958, 1963]; AWRE & AERE Reports in Exhibit List.


The proportional counter

3.3.9 The proportional counter is a pulse type of instrument, like the G-M counter, but the size of the pulse is proportional to the amount of energy deposited in the counter. Proportional counters are used to measure the energy spectrum of the

radiation, and hence are used to identify the radioisotope producing the radiation. Proportional counters were used as laboratory instruments during the nuclear tests and rarely as field instruments.

The scintillation detector

3.3.10 Scintillation detectors are highly sensitive

instruments that were being developed during the period of tests. In this instrument, a particle or ray enters a phosphorescent material (either in crystalline or liquid form) causing flashes of light which are measured by a photomultiplier.

3.3.11 Scintillation counters are used on general purpose contamination monitors, such as the type 1021 and hand, feet and clothing monitors, for alpha detection. Here the scintillator head is covered with an aluminised nylon screen sufficiently thin

to admit the alpha particle which strikes a zinc sulphide screen to produce the light flash. The flash then is converted to a count rate by the stages described above.

3.3.12 A dual phosphor probe is used to detect and record alpha and beta particles simultaneously. Here the scintillator is a sandwich of two phosphors, one being sensitive to alpha particles and the other to beta particles. Typically the alpha phosphor is made of a combination of zinc sulphide and silver and

the beta phosphor is made of a plastic. Again the light

emissions are counted as described above.

3.3.13 Despite their accuracy and sensitivity, the

scintillation detectors were not as suitable to field conditions, particularly at the time of the tests in Australia, as the more robust Geiger and ionisation chamber instruments. They were fragile and comparatively expensive and, being less suitable for measuring dose rate in human tissue, were used principally for

surface contamination monitoring at control barriers and decontamination centres. A number of scintillation devices was tested against other radiation monitoring systems in areas adjacent to the ground zeros of the explosions to prove their quality of performance.

Personal Dosimeters

3.3.14 Two types of personal dosimeter were worn by personnel when entering radiation areas during the tests. The first is the


quartz fibre electrometer (or electroscope); the other is the film badge. Lapel air samplers were also being produced at the time of the later tests, as were thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) and phosphate glass detectors, but there is no indication in the reports studied that these were used for radiation dosimetry purposes by personnel engaged in the nuclear weapons test program.

The quartz fibre electroscope

3.3.15 The quartz fibre electroscope (QFE) or dosimeter is essentially a small hermetically sealed chamber in which the centre electrode supports the conducting fibre. Before use the QFE is charged. When ionising radiation enters the chamber the associated ionisation allows some of the charge on the central electrode to escape. As the electrode discharges, the fibre travels over a calibrated scale. The wearer views this scale through an optical lens and is able to determine the accrued dose for a given period. The instrument is manufactured for several ranges from

0-0.1 r up to 0-50 r. For personnel monitoring at the tests, the 0-0.5 r and the 0-5 r were generally used. The QFE is a direct reading instrument which indicates instantly the wearer's gamma dose.

3.3.17 Although this instrument has the advantages of

lightness, instant response and portability, it can give erroneous, usually high, readings if subjected to mechanical shock. High readings can also be produced if high humidity or dust causes leakage of the charge on the electrode. Its

principal use then is to give a rough indication of a person's dose.

The film badge

3.3.18 The photographic dosimeter or 'film badge' to give it its more common name, consists of a photographic film wrapped in a paper cover. Radiation passes through the paper and exposes the film. The larger the total radiation dose, the more the film

is exposed. When the film is developed in a dark room, it

darkens to a density (the optical density) that is proportional to the level of dose. This ' blackness' is determined on an instrument called a densitometer.

3.3.19 The other component of the film badge is a locket or container which holds the film. The locket is designed to enable the film badge to discriminate between a number of types of radiation. This is done by providing various 'windows' in the casing and by varying the thickness of different portions of the

locket and by including a number of metal filters (e.g. cadmium and tin). In this way, the health physicist can determine the


types of radiation to which the wearer had been exposed (gammas of varying energies, betas and slow neutrons).

3.3.20 The dose response of these films is good, ranging from 20 mr to 1000 r, well able to cover the range of operational health physics interest. Although they have many advantages (e.g. cheap, and easy to process), they are sensitive to chemical penetration and visible light. Also, like any other portable

instrument, they can pick up and retain radioactive

contamination, which can contribute to the blackening of the film. To prevent this it is often customary to enclose the locket in a thin clear plastic bag.

3.3.21 To detect fast neutrons, a different film with a

thicker emulsion is used. Here, a fast neutron knocks a proton out of the base material into the emulsion. The proton then causes ionisation. When developed, the path of the proton appears on the film as a track. The number of tracks seen

through a microscope indicate the fast neutron dose.

3.3.22 One disadvantage of the film badge is that it records dose to a specific area. Many wearers pin the film badge to the chest, others at the waist, above the gonads. Where extremity doses are expected, the health physicist will often advocate that

additional badges be worn on the wrists, ankles or elsewhere - Such practices were common during the tests.

3.4 Radiological Protection

3.4.1 The advent of large-scale radiochemical laboratories dedicated to research on nuclear weapons, power studies and nuclear medicine necessitated increasing controls on the handling of radioisotopes and improving standards for minimising the

levels of human exposure. This is discussed in Chapter 4.

3.4.2 The types of radiological control used in the field and in the laboratory can be categorised by four broadly based descriptions:

(a) Protection by time, distance and shielding.

(b) Regular surveillance of areas containing radioactive materials for radiation dose rate and contamination.

(c) Protective clothing and respiratory equipment.

(d) Personal dosimetry.

Barnes and Taylor [1958, 1963] in their text 1 Radiation Hazards and Protection1 described the application of these types of control in the research establishments in the UK at the time of the British tests.


Protection by Time, Distance and Shielding

3.4.3 The above categories are applicable to people entering the intense radiation field created after the detonation of a weapon and, to a lesser extent, those having contact with items and areas contaminated by fallout from the cloud. Portable

instruments of the type described in the previous section were carried on entry into areas of expected high radioactivity. They told the user of the presence and intensity of radiation.

3.4.4 For a localised radioactive source the dose rate at a distance depends on the 'inverse square law', i.e. the dose rate decreases by a factor of four if the distance from the source is doubled, and a factor of nine if the distance is trebled.

3.4.5 A person's dose depends not only on the dose rate to which they are exposed but also to the duration of the exposure. The person entering a radiation area carries a survey meter that measures the gamma and/or beta dose rate, usually in r/h. Advice

is given on the maximum permissible level that person may receive over a specified period, in line with the prevailing 1CRP or similar recommendations. The time permitted for work in that area can then be calculated. The accumulated dose for the period would be measured by a personal dosimeter or film badge (see para.3.3.14).

3.4.6 The third important factor is shielding. All materials have the ability to absorb radiation. Their effectiveness is dependent on several factors, the most important being the density of the material used as a radiation shield. In a

laboratory, fixed shielding is provided by such dense materials as concrete, lead and depleted uranium. The use of such shields would not be practicable in the field during a patrol or survey. However, clothing, vehicle and aircraft framework would all have provided some measure of shielding.

Protective Clothing

3.4.7 Protective clothing is provided to prevent or limit persons entering known radioactive areas from acquiring excessive skin contamination and from ingesting or inhaling radioactive

contaminants. Protective clothing does not significantly reduce the dose received from gamma radiation. For the tests it was essential that entrants to contaminated areas be kept relatively mobile, so the weight of protective clothing and respiratory

equipment had to be minimised so that movement was not impeded. The longer the time spent in a contaminated area the higher the received dose.

3.4.8 The types of protective clothing used during the tests are still used in nuclear establishments today, although since that time, light, disposable plastic contamination suits have


been produced. The standard protective clothing was an oversuit with a close fitting hood, with all points of access to the body restricted by tape, flaps or elastic to prevent ingress of contamination. Thick rubber half boots were worn and cotton overshoes were worn over these boots. Either heavy duty rubber gloves or cotton gloves (or both) were worn on the hands. The

former seem to have been unpopular because of their heavy texture. They were not very flexible and caused difficulties during scavenging work. The arms and legs of the protective clothing were double layers, with the inner part being worn inside the glove or boot and the outer part going on the outside. The arms and legs were elasticised to restrict entry or

contamination. Cotton undergarments and woollen socks were also worn LTrans. , p.1084J. ,

3.4.9 A particular problem reported by many participants was the body heat generated by the clothing which, being sealed, allowed no circulation of fresh air. This combined with reasonably rapid movement through contaminated areas and the

temperature experienced under desert conditions led apparently to significant weight loss and personal discomfort through perspiration. Thus heat stress had to be considered as a potential health problem in addition to radiation.

3.4.10 To prevent ingestion and inhalation, respirators fitted with suitable filters were worn. These too were likely to cause discomfort for reasons outlined above. In addition to chafing

straps and perspiration, the eyepieces of full face respirators often mist over, impairing the vision.

3.4.11 The major respirators in use during the 1950s and 1960s were the British For ton full face and the American Willson half and full face models. All afforded protection against

radioactive dusts and beryllium. However, they gave negligible or no protection against toxic fumes and gases LTrans. , p .1088J.

3.4.12 At Maralinga there were several areas where there was some radiation risk. Colours were used to define the relative hazard of the areas, with yellow being the most hazardous, red the next and blue the least hazardous. The categories were

Blue area - Risk of penetrating radiation but not of inhalation, ingestion or injection. No special clothing.

Red area - Risk of penetrating radiation and of slight inhalation, ingestion and injection. Protective clothing to be worn in accordance with Health Physics recommendations for the particular area.

Yellow area - Risk of a serious inhalation, ingestion, injection or penetrating radiation hazard. Fully protective clothing must be worn. [RC 282, RSRM/56j




4.1 The Genesis of Radiation Protection

4.1.1 The realisation that ionising radiation could be harmful to humans came within weeks of the discovery of X-rays in November 1895. The injuries to those using X-ray tubes and the radiations from radium in medicine in the early years were

serious, and first attempts to develop radiation protection rules were made as early as 1913 in Germany and 1915 in Britain

l_RC 594, p. 1-001J. At the First International Congress of Radiology (ICR), held in London in 1925, concern was expressed about protection for X-ray and radium workers and the need for a standard system of units for measuring radiation dose. An

international committee on X-ray units, which later became the International Commission on Radiological Units and Measurements (ICRU) was established LRC 594, p.3-016]; this led to the international adoption in 1928 of a unit of X-radiation, the roentgen (r), for use in radiology.

4.1.2 In the field of radiological protection, although no committee was set up in 1925 [RC 594, p. 3-013], the foundation was laid for informal discussions which led to the presentation to the Second ICR, held in Stockholm in 1928, of proposals

developed by the British X-ray and Radium Protection Committee (XRPC). These proposals were adopted with minor amendments, as the first international recommendations for radiation protection. In presenting the proposals, Dr Kaye of Britain suggested that they be reviewed at subsequent Congresses, and that the question of any legal significance of the recommendations be left to

individual countries. The recommendations were in the nature of a code of good practice, and made no mention of an 1 accepted' dose. The Congress established the International X-ray and

Radium Protection Committee (IXRPC), the title being subsequently changed from 1 Committee1 to 'Commission' , with members from the USA, Germany, France, Sweden and Italy, and two honorary secretaries from Britain [RC 594, p.3-019].

4.1.3 The philosophy of the 1923 recommendations is expressed in the first paragraph;

'The dangers of over-exposure to X-rays and radium can be avoided by the provision of adequate protection and suitable working conditions. It is the duty of thppe in charge of X-ray and radium departments to erxaiir a such conditions for their personnel. The known effects to be guarded against are:


(a) injuries to the superficial tissues,

(b) derangements of internal organs and changes in the blood.1 LRC 592, p.8]

4 .1.4 The earliest attempts to specify an 1 acceptable1 dose for radiation workers began in about 1925, with the suggestion of a 'tolerance dose' based on a fraction of the dose which caused an erythema (reddening) of the skin [RC 594, p. 3-009 j. By the

time of the Third ICR, held in Paris in 1931, the international discussions and comparative measurements necessary to establish a tolerance dose were not sufficiently advanced for a proposal to be put to the Congress, but at the Fourth Congress, held in

Zurich in 1934, a tolerance dose of 0.2 international r per day was adopted for X-rays. The format of the recommendation of this dose by the IXRPC was

1 The evidence at present available appears to suggest that under satisfactory working conditions a person in normal health can tolerate exposure to X-rays to an extent of about 0.2 international roentgens per day. No similar tolerance dose is at present available in

the case of radium gamma rays.1 LRC 592, p.lOJ

It is not clear why the US agreed to the figure of 0.2 r per day for tolerance dose, since only a few months earlier it had published the value of 0.1 r per day for the tolerance dose for X-rays or gamma rays agreed by its Advisory Committee on X-ray and Radium Protection (ACXRP) [RC 594, p.4-011]. There may have been confusion about where the dose was to be measured - in air or on the skin surface - which could account for the discrepancy,

but L S Taylor (1979), who has written a history of radiation protection, discounts this explanation LRC 594, p .4-021J.

4.1.5 In his book 1 Organization for Radiation Protection: The Operations of the ICRP and NCRP 1928-19741 |_RC 594 J, Taylor draws attention to a report given to the Health Organisation of the League of Nations in 1931 by Wintz and Rump [RC 594, p . 3-024J.

In discussing the notion of 1 tolerance dose1 in the context of repeated irradiation of patients for treatment purposes, they pointed out the difficulties in determining a 'harmless' dose. They raised the question of whether such a dose could exist at all, and stated

'We must accordingly be content to speak of a harmless dose, whenever no alteration in the condition and activity of the body can be detected by available methods of clinical examination and observation. This, moreover, has been the principle adopted in the

investigations undertaken with the object of

determining the magnitude of a harmless X-ray dose.1 LRC 594, p.3-025]


4.1.6 The IXRPC met again in 1937 but produced only minor changes to its 1934 recommendations. The tolerance dose was quoted as 0.2 r per day or 1 r per week and was extended to

include radium gamma rays [RC 592, p.10]. The Commission recommended that workers should carry a photographic film or small-capacity condenser so that their doses could be checked.

4.1.7 Meetings of international committees on radiation protection were suspended for a number of years because of World War II, and it was not until 1950 that a reorganised Commission was to meet. However, considerable attention was paid to

radiation protection during this period in various countries.

4.1.8 In the US, there was much discussion of the

geneticists' views that their tolerance dose of 0.1 r per day was too high when genetic effects were considered and that there was in fact no dose below which there would be no genetic effects (based on data from experimental animals). In September 1941, the ACXRP met to consider a proposal that its tolerance dose

should be lowered by a factor of ten because of genetic effects. However, while agreeing that in terms of genetic effects no tolerance dose exists, it decided that it lacked sufficient genetic evidence to warrant lowering the tolerance dose, and

recommended that the matter be investigated further with the help of genetic experts [RC 594, p.5-019j. It also discussed the confusion generated by use of the term 1 tolerance dose', which implied a dose which could be tolerated without any damage

whatever. In view of the fact that, when genetic effects were considered, this was not the case, the ACXRP recommended instead the use of the term 'permissible dose', which did not imply that no injury will follow, but merely that the Committee considered

it a practical and expedient dose limit.

4.1.9 At about the same time (1940-41), the problem of

radioactive materials taken into the body began to receive attention from US organisations concerned with radiation protection. This arose from concern over the hazards to workers

in the radium dial-painting industry. In 1941, a US report entitled 'Safe Handling of Radioactive Luminous Compounds' was published [RC 594, p.5-022J. Based on assessments of about 20 dial painters with measurable amounts of radium in the body,

it recommended that any worker who showed an accumulation of more than 0.1 microgram of radium-226 should change nis or her occupation immediately. It admonished

'It is...essential to avoid all ingestion or inhalation of radioactive luminous compound.'

This figure of 0.1 microgram of radium became the reference value for body burden of internal emitters, particularly those which deposit in bone and, despite much further research over the next three or four decades, there was no need to revise this value.


4.1.10 For the next few years, some of the experts on the US Advisory Committee were deeply involved with radiation work within the Manhattan Project [RC 594, p.7-001j. Others were diverted to different tasks and the Committee did not meet again

until 1946, when a complete reorganisation took place; the name was changed to the National Committee on Radiation Protection (NCRP) and six sub-committees were agreed upon, in recognition of the vastly expanded use of radiation. The sub-committees

included one on permissible external dose, another on permissible internal dose, and a third on radioactive isotopes and fission products - including their handling and disposal. A wide range of organisations known to have an interest in radiation protection was invited to nominate persons to serve on the NCRP

[RC 594, p.7-007J. These included the American Medical Association, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the American Radium Society, the US Atomic Energy Commission

(USAEC) and the National Bureau of Standards.

4.1.11 The NCRP seems to have been conscious of the need to remain independent of any particular interest, for example that of the USAEC, in formulating its recommendations, but at the same time it was anxious to have access to information relevant to radiation protection, especially in regard to radioactive

isotopes, which was derived from military work in atomic energy. In practice, no great difficulties seem to have arisen in this context [RC 594, p.7-009], although there may have been delays in releasing information which was originally subject to security classification. However, a paper on 1 Tolerance Concentrations of Radioactive Substances' was given to the NCRP by K Z Morgan in

1946. He indicated that it was a summary of a report which was scheduled to appear in one of the volumes on health physics in the Record of the Plutonium Project. Morgan was to chair the Permissible Internal Dose Sub-committee and this paper formed an important basis for the Sub-committee's work in the next two to three years [RC 594, p.7-007j. In addition, the NCRP received in 1947 unpublished reports on the 'standard man' from the national laboratories at Argonne and Oak Ridge [RC 594, p.7-011j. These reports gave the Morgan Sub-committee information which was essential to the development of standards for internal emitters.

4.1.12 In developing its recommendations on permissible dose, the NCRP drew attention to the need for careful study of the tolerance dose in varying conditions, e.g. steady exposure, occasional exposures of all or portions of the body, exposure to beta radiation and neutrons. The USAEC was anxious to know

whether the NCRP would recommend a lower permissible dose for radiation workers (as had been discussed around 1941) as it could substantially affect its operations. In the event, a draft of the report of the Sub-committee on Permissible External Dose was

sent to the USAEC in December 1947. The Sub-committee reached formal agreement on permissible exposure levels for a variety of conditions at a meeting in June 1948 [RC 594, p.7-029]. The most significant change was the recommendation lowering the permissible whole-body exposure from 0.1 r per day to 0.3 r per


week when exposure was continued for a long period. This value was first published in another sub-committee's report in 1949, but the full report of the Permissible External Dose

Sub-committee did not appear until five years later [NCRP 1954].

4.1.13 The new permissible dose of 0.3 r per week seems to have come into use in the US quite early. Professor Radford, gave memorable evidence to the Royal Commission (memorable because it was in part sung 1) that he learned of it in 1948 while on his way by sea to a US weapon test in the Pacific.

4.1.14 With regard to permissible doses for internal emitters, the Morgan Sub-committee faced a difficult task as, although there was an immense amount of information, much of it was conflicting or incomplete. Nevertheless, the Sub-committee

pressed on, evaluating' the information on the basis of three methods: experimental biological data regarding body damage; comparison with radium; and calculation of a 1 tolerance dose1 to a portion of body tissue, using the new 0.3 r per week value

IRC 594, p.7-011].

4.1.15 In March 1948, representatives from the UK, Canada and the US met in Washington DC in the first of a series of

tripartite conferences to discuss various health and safety aspects of their atomic energy programs. At this conference, the value of 0.3 r per week for the tolerance dose was agreed. It was also agreed that the important factors in determining

tolerance were

(a) effect on bone marrow with respect to blood count,

(b) reduction of fertility, and

(c ) genetic injury. IRC 594, p.7-033J

4.1.16 The term 1 tolerance dose1 seems to have disappeared from US usage by about the middle of 1948, being replaced by 'permissible dose' to avoid creating a concept of acceptability [RC 594, p. 7-056]. It is doubtful if the change was entirely successful in conveying to the radiation worker who was not

involved in setting the standards, that a ‘permissible dose' could not be regarded as entirely harmless.

4.1.17 At the time that the NCRP was active in setting new permissible doses in the US, similar matters were being discussed in Britain by the Medical Research Council (MRC), which had been asked to evaluate the available information and recommend on

maximum allowable doses for emergency workers such as those in civil defence, and members of the public. The MRC set up, under Sir Henry Dale, the Committee on Medical and Biological

Applications of Nuclear Physics, with a subsidiary Protection Committee chaired by Sir Ernest Rock Carling, a distinguished London surgeon with many radiation protection interests [Cowing 1974, Vol.2, p.94j. A specialist group known as the Tolerance


Doses Panel, chaired by Dr N V Mayneord, first met in

November 1946. It was extremely active and, up to October 1950, met about 30 times and issued about 150 papers.

4.1.18 In fact, there was a proliferation of committees on radiation protection in Britain. Following the passage of the Radioactive Substances Act in 1948, an Advisory Scientific

Committee (ASC) under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Dale was set up to draft regulations for the protection of workers. The XRPC was still in existence but felt that it might ultimately be replaced by the new ASC. There was an overlap in membership between these committees and the MRC1s Protection Committee.

4.1.19 Another tripartite conference was held between radiation protection experts from the US, Britain and Canada at Chalk River, Canada in September 1949. Values were agreed upon for maximum permissible tissue doses at any point in the body and

separate values for the skin (in the basal layer of the

epidermis) for exposure to different types of radiation, taking into account the difference in 'relative biological

effectiveness1 (RBE) of the various types of radiation, e.g. beta radiation, alpha radiation and neutrons compared with gamma rays or X-rays. Higher values were allowed for the skin when tne hands only were exposed. The values were expressed in 'rep'

(roentgen equivalent physical).

4.1.20 Permissible internal doses due to the inhalation or ingestion of a number of specific radioisotopes including plutonium-239, strontium-90 and cobalt-60, were also considered. First, tentative values were established for maximum permissible

body burdens (MPBBs) in radiation workers exposed to these radioisotopes. The Conference then set maximum permissible concentrations (MPCs) of these radioisotopes in air or water which, if inhaled or ingested continuously over a working lifetime, could produce maximum permissible body burdens in a

'standard' man.

4.1.21 It was recognised that a great deal more information on the metabolism of these substances in the body was needed before such values could be established with confidence. When large centres of population were likely to be exposed to radioisotopes

(e.g. from effluent from an atomic facility) it was recommended that the value for MPCs in air or water be divided by 100 to limit possible genetic effects.

4.1.22 The Chalk River Conference also noted that the values agreed for maximum permissible tissue doses do not guarantee no damage, and that 'in the light of present knowledge no manifest

permanent injury is to be expected from a single exposure of persons to 25 r or less with the possible exception of pregnant women' fRC 594, p.7-083j.


4.2 Radiation Protection 1950-1960

IGRP Recommendations 1950

4.2.1 In 1950, the ICR reconvened in London and a new

protection body, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), was formed with Sir Ernest Rock Carling as chairman. Only two members of the pre-war Commission were still alive - Taylor of the United States and Sievert of Sweden. To

them was added a small number of people who were active in radiological protection from a number of countries - France, The Federal Republic of Germany, Canada, Britain (including Mayneord) and the United States. Preliminary communications among the members and discussions at the tripartite conference enabled

agreement to be reached during the London meeting on a new, albeit brief, set of international recommendations (known as the ICRP Recommendations 1950) which were published in January 1951 in the British Journal of Radiology fRC 255; ICRP 1951j.

4.2.2 In its introduction to these recommendations, the ICRP stated

'Developments in nuclear physics and their practical applications since the last International Congress have greatly increased the number and scope of potential hazards. At the same time biological research has led to an extension of our knowledge of the dangers

associated with ionizing radiations. This increase of biological knowledge has not only brought a realisation of the importance of certain effects, particularly

carcinogenic and genetic effects, but has also provided more information as to the permissible levels of radiation. The International Commission on

Radiological Protection has therefore adopted new radiation safety standards with more rigid criteria. Such standards must, in view of the still limited

experience of the effects of radiation, be kept continually under review.

'It appears that the effects to be considered are:

(1) Superficial injuries.

(2) General effects on the body, particularly the blood and blood-forming organs, e.g. production of anaemia and leukaemias.

(3) The induction of malignant tumours.


(4) Other deleterious effects including cataract, obesity, impaired fertility, and reduction of life span.

(5) Genetic effects.' [ICRP 1951, p.46j

4.2.3 The ICRP concluded, on the basis of experimental

evidence, that as far as the individual is concerned, the most dangerous effects of external radiation are probably those on the blood-forming organs. For practical reasons, the maximum permissible exposure was best stated in terms of surface dose per

week rather than dose at the depth of the blood-forming organs. The figure of 1 r per week adopted in 1934 now

'...seems very close to the probable threshold for adverse effects, particularly for radiations of high energy which are more frequently encountered than formerly.1 [loc.cit.J

4.2.4 Noting that the roentgen was not an acceptable unit for all ionising radiations, the ICRP based its recommendations on consideration of the equivalent energy absorbed in tissue, coupled with the appropriate RBE. The ICRP‘s general philosophy of radiation protection was stated:

'Whilst the values proposed for maximum permissible exposure are such as to involve a risk which is small compared to the other hazards of life, nevertheless in view of the unsatisfactory nature of much of the evidence on which our judgements must be based, coupled with the knowledge that certain radiation effects are

irreversible and cumulative, it is strongly recommended that every effort be made to reduce exposures to all types of ionizing radiations to the lowes*· possible level.' [loc.cit.]

4.2.5 Some opinions were expressed to the Royal Commission about the significance of the wording of the ICRP's 1950 recommendations, in particular whether the recommendation ' that every effort be made to reduce exposures to all types of ionising radiations to the lowest possible level' implied an acceptance by

the ICRP of a 'no threshold' theory of dose-effect relationship. The matter was discussed in some detail with Sir Edward Pochin, a long-time member of the ICRP. He came to the view that the recommendation was probably based on a feeling of uncertainty about the magnitude of tne ' threshold dose ‘ for a variety of effects observable in the irradiated person (somatic effects)

rather than on a premonition that there might be no such

threshold dose [Trans., p.9531j.

4.2.6 The Royal Commission accepts this view. Consideration of the history of the evolution of radiation protection standards in the 1950s and early 1960s leads the Royal Commission to the conclusion that the ICRP in 1950 accepted a 'no threshold'


hypothesis for genetic effects but not for any somatic effects which were known at that time. At the maximum permissiole dose (MPD) levels recommended, there was not thought to be an appreciable risk of genetic effects and they did not constitute the limiting factor.

4.2.7 The maximum permissible doses recommended by ICRP in 1950 were as follows:

(a) For whole-body exposure to external radiation:

(i) to X or gamma radiation of energy below 3 MeV

(over an indefinite period), 0.5 r (at the surface of the body) in any one week,

(ii) to high energy beta radiation, energy absorption equivalent to that from 1.5 r of hard gamma rays (in the basal layer of the epidermis) in any one week.

(b) In the case of exposure of the hands and forearms, 1.5 r (or its energy equivalent) in any one week at the basal layer of the epidermis.

(c) For any critical tissue (except the skin), e.g. the blood-forming organs, assumed to lie at a depth of 5 cm, 0.3 r in any one week.

4.2.8 The ICRP also recommended a maximum permissible dose from whole-body exposure to fast neutrons, made a number of recommendations for good practices in working with X-rays and radium, and recommended that radiation workers should have

medical examinations at the commencement of radiation work and annually thereafter, with blood examinations every three months. The ICRP considered that there was insufficient information available for it to make firm recommendations on maximum

permissible exposures to internal radiation from radioactive isotopes, but it published as a supplement to its Recommendations some values of maximum permissible amounts of radioisotopes which were in use for radiation workers in Britain, Canada and the USA. Among these was a value of 0.04 microcuries for maximum

permissible amount of plutonium-239 fixed in the body.

4.2.9 It should be noted that the ICRP1 s recommended MPD for X or gamma radiation of energy below 3 MeV of 0.5 r at the

surface of the body is equivalent to the NCRP' s 0.3 r which was measured in air. The fact that there were two different ways of specifying the MPD has caused a great deal of confusion which is regrettable.

4.2.10 During the London Congress, the ICRP also put forward rules to govern its selection and work. It advocated that the members of the Commission should be selected by the International Executive Committee of the ICR from nominations submitted by the


national delegations and by the ICRP itself. Members would be chosen on the basis of their recognised activity in the fields of radiology, radiation protection, physics, biology, genetics, biochemistry and biophysics, without regard to nationality. Six

sub-committees were proposed to study different aspects of radiation protection between Congresses, in a structure very similar to that adopted a few years earlier by the NCRP in the United States.

4.2.11 A large proportion of the members of these

sub-committees was drawn from Britain and the US, countries which had much experience in the topics to be considered. Among the British members were several whose names became familiar to the Royal Commission: Loutit, Marley, Pochin, Mitchell and Gray.

Other countries supplying members were Canada, France, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the Federal Republic of Germany and Austria. Australia had a lone member, Dr C E Eddy, Director of the Commonwealth X-ray and Radium Laboratory (CXRL). Dr Eddy was

nominated as a member of the main Commission in 1956 but died before the appointment could be ratified. In addition, a British geneticist. Dr D G Catcheside, a member of the Sub-committee on Permissible Dose from External Radiation, came to Australia at the end of 1951 to take up an appointment as Professor of

Genetics at the University of Adelaide. tie returned to England in 1956 but came back to settle in Australia in 1964. These were Australia's only links with international radiation protection committees until D J Stevens, who succeeded Dr Eddy at CXRL,

joined an ICRP sub-committee in 1958.

4.2.12 In October 1950, in England, a conference on the

biological hazards of atomic energy was convened by the Institute of Biology and the Atomic Scientists' Association; the Proceedings were published in 1952 [Haddow, 1952]. During this

conference, Gluecksmann of the Strangeways Research Laboratory, Cambridge, drew attention to a few studies during the previous two decades which had shown that in certain strains of mice whole-body exposure to small doses of radiation, given once or in

repeated fractions over a long period, was followed by tumours arising at various sites. This indirect or remote effect was distinct from a direct carcinogenic effect in which large doses of radiation to a localised area were observed to cause later

tumours in that area. It was distinct also from another effect in which radiation, in combination with local predisposing factors, acted as an agent to promote carcinogenesis; for example, irradiation of osteomyelitic conditions with therapeutic doses resulted in osteosarcomas in some instances.

4.2.13 Gluecksmann observed that the 'tolerance doses' were formulated originally to prevent the direct carcinogenic effect by avoiding minor, permanent injuries which precede

carcinogenesis. The doses required for the co-carcinogenic effect were also above the accepted permissible dose level. However the remote carcinogenic effect occurred near the permissible dose level. He warned


'While there is at present no evidence for such an effect in man, the possibility cannot be excluded that minute doses of radiation may on occasion promote carcinogenesis in disposed persons and the level of permissible radiation dosage will, therefore, have to be reconsidered periodically in the light of new

facts.' LGluecksmann 1952, pp.91-92 J

4.2.14 In 1952, an unofficial meeting of 1CRP was held by some members who were attending a conference on radiobiology in Stockholm. Because of concern over genetic effects, there was discussion of the gonad doses being received by the populations

of various countries up to the end of the reproductive period, but no specific recommendations were made. Also at the same conference, Dr Katherine Williams of the AERE, Harwell presented the results of her studies on blood counts in radiation workers.

She pointed out the considerable technical and physiological variations in white cell counts which needed to be taken into account when interpreting blood counts taken on radiation workers, particularly those exposed to relatively low doses. Her paper was published, together with other conference papers, in Acta Radiologica in January 1954 LWilliams 1954, pp.21-29J. in

Stockholm, there was also some discussion of lengthening the period over which any maximum permissible dose mignt be set. This had hitherto been set at one week. However, owing to uncertainty about dose rate effects, there was no decision on

this point [RC 594, pp.7-244J.

Radiation Protection Standards for the Tests


4.2.15 During the planning of the Hurricane operation, the Naval Task Force Commander, Rear Admiral Torlesse, asked Penney, as Chief Superintendent High Explosives Research (HER), to supply information on the radiation dosages which could be received by

the participants.

4.2.16 There were no statutory regulations on the subject in Britain at that time and, in framing proposals to be put to the Ministry of Supply and the Admiralty for official acceptance, the HER staff, including the health physicist D E Barnes, was guided

by the ICRP's 195U recommendations for a maximum permissible dose of 0.5 r per week for gamma radiation and 1.5 rep per week for high energy beta radiation. These levels were for radiation workers who might be exposed to radiation throughout a working

life, most of whom would receive radiation at a reasonably uniform rate day after day. They had been expressed by the 1CRP in terms of a weekly maximum, since that was the normal

monitoring period, but were essentially equivalent to a continuous exposure at a rate of 0.1 r per day for gamma

radiation and 0.3 rep per day for high energy beta radiation.


4.2.17 The British scientists planning the trial knew that uniform dose rates would not occur during Operation Hurricane. Immediately after the burst, there would be very high dose rates which would drop quite rapidly. Although many tasks could be planned to be undertaken at later times when the dose rates would be reasonably low, it would be necessary for some participants to

enter high dose rate areas shortly after the burst for tasks essential to the trial, such as retrieving important records. These tasks could not be accomplished without exposing a few men to doses higher than those recommended by the ICRP as a weekly


4.2.18 It was suggested that the difficulty could be overcome by using the concept of an 1 integrated dose1 which would allow people to receive a higher dose in a single exposure provided that this was followed by a compensatory period of non-exposure. This dose would be set so that, over the 10-week period of the operation (which would include travelling time to and from the Monte Bellos), the integrated dose would not exceed that which

could be accumulated in 10 weeks at the ICRP1s recommended maximum permissible dose rate per week.

4.2.19 It was anticipated that a third dose category might be required in cases of extreme urgency such as the recovery of vital records that might otherwise be lost. In this case, the HER turned for guidance to the MRC, whose Panel on Atomic

Biological Effects (ΡΑΒΕ), chaired by Dr Harold Himsworth, had considered a similar problem in response to a request for advice on maximum allowable doses of gamma radiation for members of the Civil Defence Corps [_RC 256, pp. 107-13, ΡΑΒΕ 26 J.

4.2.20 The advice was based on the prevailing knowledge about acute radiation effects. It was known that not all people who were exposed to radiation would exhibit the same sensitivity - a very small proportion appeared to be unduly sensitive and with small doses exhibited undesirable symptoms (e.g. vomiting). Probably an equally small number was unduly resistant. From

observations by radiotherapists, it appeared that only a small proportion would exhibit signs of radiation sickness after a single whole-body dose of 50 r, and a 1 negligible1 proportion after a dose of 25 r. Higher corresponding doses could be calculated for repeated doses (with varying intervals between doses) or continuous exposure. The advice for the Civil Defence Corps was that 1 in the absence of urgency, it would not be desirable to expose men to more than 25 r 1 |_RC 256, p. 109 j. The HER staff decided on a gamma dose of 10 r for its highest

category; it was considered extremely unlikely that anyone would exhibit signs of radiation sickness at this dose level.

4.2.21 The ΡΑΒΕ had also considered emergency doses of beta radiation, but the effects of beta radiation on the skin, especially the dependence of the effect on the area of skin irradiated, was not fully understood.


4.2.22 Penney s original proposals on maximum permissible doses for Operation Hurricane containing the three dosage levels were submitted in October 1951 to the various Ministries concerned. Penney said that the effects of beta and gamma

radiation would be regarded as completely additive; however, only the face and neck would be exposed to beta radiation, the remainder of the body being covered by suitable protective clothing.

4.2.23 With regard to internal radiation hazards, he said

'Apart from accidental injuries the problem of internal radiation will not arise, since gas-masks will be worn for all operations which involve exposure to any airborne hazard. They will be worn automatically in

the first instance until such time as measurements prove that their general use is unnecessary. 1 |_RC 256, p.105 j

4.2.24 The Ministries assented to the proposals; the Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Supply made a number of comments and recommendations regarding monitoring by means of film badges and personal ionisation chambers. In emphasising

that exposure in the highest of the three categories should be avoided if possible, he noted that analogous provisions were made in atomic energy establishments (where 13 r was allowed as an emergency dose), so the concept of a higher 'emergency1 dose was

not without precedent.

4.2.25 As planning for Operation Hurricane continued, more information came to hand on the ratios of beta to gamma radiation which were likely to be encountered from fission products. At one stage, there was considerable consternation when it was

thought that the beta/gamma ratio might be very large. Also, it was realised that the thickness of clothing which could be tolerated in hot conditions would not absorb all of the high energy beta radiation from fission products as had been supposed

originally, and beta radiation would probably be the limiting factor.

4.2.26 Penney submitted a revised dosage proposal to the Ministries on 30 July 1952. This allowed more beta radiation than the original, but it was said that the 1 overall

physiological effect1 would be the same. This presumably was based on the maximum gamma doses, which were the same in both proposals. The three categories of exposure were given the names

normal working rate, lower integrated dose and higher integrated dose. In submitting the revised proposal, Penney indicated that it had been discussed with Dr Loutit of the MRC and Dr Mar ley, head of health physics at Harwell, who considered that 'the

levels suggested are safe and the conditions under which they are to be applied are sensible1 [RC 256, p.120J.


4.2.27 The revised dosage proposal was accepted by the Ministries and incorporated into the Hurricane Trial Orders together with a general statement of policy on exposure to radiation:


'As a fundamental policy, no person is to be exposed knowingly to ionizing radiations unless such exposure is necessary in the execution of the operation.

1 In cases where exposure is necessary:-(a) No person is to be exposed who has not passed the appropriate medical tests.

(b) The actual dosage received is to be kept to a minimum and is not to exceed the maximum

authorised for the task in hand. The doses, together with the tasks for which they have been authorised, are given below.


1 Three dosage levels have been authorised for the operation:-(a) The Normal Working Rate. An intermittent or continuous dosage up to 0.3 REP per day of which

the gamma-ray component is not to exceed 0.1R per day. It is estimated that it will be possible to carry out the greater part of the operation under these conditions.

(b) The Lower Integrated Dose. An integrated dose, received In one or few exposures, of up to 15 REP of which the Gamma-ray component is not to exceed 3R. Exposure to this level is permitted

for recovery of category B records. The

Officer-In-Charge, Health Control, is authorised to sanction increased dosages up to the lower integrated dose where necessary for the successful conduct of the operation. Personnel receiving

this dose are not to be subject to any further radiation for a period of six weeks.

(c) The Higher Integrated Dose. An integrated dose of up to 50 REP of which the gamma-ray

component is not to exceed 10R. This dose will be applied in cases of extreme importance or

emergency such as Category A records and requires the personal authorisation of the Naval Commander.


Personnel receiving this dose are not to be

subjected to further exposure for a period of twelve months.

'The effects of Beta and Gamma radiation are to be regarded as additive and as whole body radiation.’ LRC 231, HTO No. 160]

4.2.28 In addition, under the heading 'Application of Policy', rules for procedures necessary for radiation protection were given. These related to such things as the radiation monitoring of personnel and the environment, the wearing of protective clothing and medical examinations.

4.2.29 The Royal Commission considers that the radiation protection standards, including those for internal exposure from radioisotopes such as plutonium, used for participants at Hurricane were reasonable, and essentially compatible with the

international recommendations of the time. This is not surprising, as British radiation protection experts were attending the series of tripartite meetings with experts from the US and Canada, and Britain was also represented on the ICRP.

4.2.30 It was also reasonable to modify the recommendations of the ICRP to suit the particular circumstances. It has always been the policy of the ICRP to deal with the basic principles of radiation protection and to leave to the various national protection committees the right and the responsibility to

formulate and introduce the detailed regulations and codes of practice best suited to the needs of their individual countries.

4.2.31 In proposing an 'integrated dose', the HER was

anticipating a similar concept which was introduced into ICRP recommendations published in 1958 [ICRP 1958, p.12j but which had been discussed by international radiation protection groups much earlier. As noted in para.4.2.14, it was discussed at a

conference on radiobiology in 1952.

4.2.32 There was some ambiguity in the ICRP recommendations of 1950, as it is not clear whether a person could receive the maximum doses allowed for both gamma and high energy beta radiation and still remain within the recommendation.

4.2.33 The Royal Commission agrees with Pochin LTrans., p. 9336] that the ICRP' s intention was to allow both kinds of exposure, since different tissues would have been considered critical in each case: the skin in the case of beta radiation,

and deeper tissues such as the blood-forming organs (red bone marrow) in the case of gamma radiation.

4.2.34 It seems that at the time of planning for Hurricane, British scientists did not have information on dosage levels permitted for participants in US weapon trials. Barnes, in a paper written in April 1955 and entitled 'Maximum Permissible Doses for Weapons Trials', said


1 It may be relevant to consider U.S. practice in their Weapon Trials, so far as information is available. The only statement which I have been able to find which refers directly to the staff employed on Trials is in

the 8th Semi-Annual Report of the A.E.C. (July 1950) where they say "Operating limits for radiation exposure as fixed for the weapons tests paralleled

those in use in the atomic energy program in 1948: one-tenth of one roentgen a day. In special cases, exposure might be allowed up to 3 roentgens in one day, provided the exposure was approved by the top

radiological officers and that the person so exposed was then allowed no further radiation exposure for 30 days. No exposure in excess of this amount was allowed except at the express permission of the task

force commander."1 IRC 255, Document 6]

4.2.35 Although there is no reference to dose limits for beta radiation, the dose limits for gamma doses are very similar to those set by the British for Hurricane.


4.2.36 For Totem, Penney proposed, on the basis of experience at Hurricane, that no change be made in the three previously recommended categories of permissible dose. He also signified his intention to ask the Chairman of TOTEX to inform the

Australian authorities and ask them to agree that Australians who were to work in contaminated areas should obey the same

regulations [RC 256, p.177, Penneyj.

4.2.37 In issuing the Radiological Safety Orders for Totem, C A Adams, the Scientific Superintendent, gave the policy as follows:

'An individual will only be exposed intentionally to a radiological hazard when his task makes such exposure unavoidable. The object of the Health Control is to protect personnel from any harmful effects when exposed

to radiation hazards.

1 In cases where exposure is necessary:-(a) The individual must have passed the

appropriate medical tests.

(b) The extent of the exposure will be kept to a minimum and in any case will be within prescribed limits.

(c) Personnel will conform to the procedure laid down by Health Control. 1 (_RC 353, p. 3 j


4.2.38 The permissible external radiation dosage levels were given as the normal working rate, lower integrated dose and higher integrated dose; the values for each were the same as at Hurricane.

4.2.39 For inhalation, ingestion and skin contamination, the maximum levels allowed were the same as those in use at AWRE. With regard to the wearing of respirators, the instruction was as follows:

1 Because the amount of activity which becomes airborne above a contaminated area is dependent on

meteorological conditions the measured dose-rate is not a straight-forward guide to the inhalation hazard. Measurements of the airborne activity will have to be made therefore in order to determine whether or not

respirators need be worn. As a general guide in order to avoid unnecessary attrition respirators will only be worn prior to dust sampling if the dose-rate exceeds 25 mr/hr or there is visible airborne dust.1 [RC 353, P-4]

4.2.40 Once again, a code of practice was drawn up which

detailed the procedures to be adopted for protection of personnel against radiation and contamination hazards. It was far more detailed than the one for Hurricane, and included a special section the Kittens trials.

4.2.41 There had been no change in international

recommendations for radiation protection standards since the time of planning for Hurricane, so it was reasonable to adopt the same standards for participants in the Totem trial. This was done for

UK participants; it is not known whether the radiation protection standards were communicated to the appropriate authorities for Australian participants.

IGRP Recommendations 1954

4.2.42 When the ICRP sub-committees were set up, it was agreed that they would use existing documents on their various topics as starting points in preparing their reports for the next ICRP meeting, to be held in Copenhagen in 1953. Several NCRP reports,

either published or in the final stages of drafting, were used and the MRC1s Protection Committee supplied material on a number of topics for consideration by the ICRP sub-committees. As the meetings of the sub-committees were followed immediately by the meeting of the main Commission, it was not possible to finalise

sub-committee reports for adoption at the Copenhagen meeting. Also, the adoption by the ICRU of a new unit, the rad, meant that some figures needed to be recalculated.


4.2.43 The task of finalising all sub-committee reports proved to be a major one, and it was not until December 1954 that the recommendations were ready for publication. This lengthy document (known as the 1CRP Recommendations 1954) was published

in 1955 by the British Institute of Radiology as Supplement No- 6 to the Journal of Radiology L1CRP 1955].

4.2.44 The 1954 recommendations made no change in the basic value of the permissible dose for whole body irradiation, which had been set in 1950 as 0.3 r per week in the critical tissue (corresponding to 0.5 r per week at the surface of the body for

penetrating radiation). The ICRP considered, in more detail than before, permissible values for partial irradiation of the body. Four organs were considered to be critical: skin, blood-forming organs, gonads (with respect to impaired fertility) and eyes

(with respect to cataracts). The following basic permissible weekly doses were recommended for critical organs L ICRP 1955, p.16j:

‘Skin - 600 mr/week in the basal layer of the

epidermis in a significant area. Blood-forming organs - 300 mr/week in a significant volume. Gonads - 300 mr/week average in a significant volume. Eyes - 300 mr/week in a significant volume

(essentially at any point in the lens).'

4.2.45 1 Significant area1 and 'significant volume‘ were defined. All tissue dose limits were to apply to total doses from all types of radiation and from external and internal sources. These limits, like those recommended in 1950, aimed to prevent known serious late effects in tissues which had

previously been exposed to radiation. The most serious of these effects was the induction of cancer in a tissue (e.g. skin) which had much earlier sustained damage from a relatively high radiation dose.

4.2.46 A new unit, the rem, which had not yet been adopted officially by the ICRU, was introduced to allow doses of different radiations to be added together. The dose in rems was

equal to the dose in rads multiplied by the appropriate RBE. Modifying factors were specified in certain circumstances which would change the recommended permissible weekly dose; in particular, when the skin was exposed to radiation of very low penetrating power, the permissible weekly dose was 1500 mrem, and

the same figure applied for higher energy radiation when only the hands and forearms were irradiated.

4.2.47 All of these limits were thought to be well below

permissible dose levels. As the 'permissible dose' was one which was not expected to cause appreciable bodily injury to a person during his or her lifetime, there was an implication of a safety margin in the setting of the limits. However, the ICRP

emphasised that all its recommendations were framed 'in the light


of present knowledge' and should not be regarded as permanent. It recommended strongly 1 that exposure to radiation be kept at the lowest practicable level in all cases'. With regard to the rate at which the weekly dose was accumulated, the ICRP felt that there was insufficient evidence to indicate whether this was

important, but recommended further research on this topic.

4.2.48 For the previous few years, geneticists had been expressing concern that, as the uses of radiation increased and more people were exposed to radiation for many years, the average gonad dose accumulated by the population to the end of the

reproductive period might increase to a level where inherited effects became unacceptably frequent. The 1949 Tripartite Conference had recommended that, on genetic grounds, the permissible exposure for 1 large centres of population' should be one-hundredth that for radiation workers; the 1953 Tripartite

Conference changed this factor to one-tenth.

4.2.49 In 1954, the ICRP recommended that, in the case of the prolonged exposure of a large population, the maximum permissible levels should be reduced by a factor of ten below those accepted for occupational exposures. It was not clear whether this

recommendation was intended to refer to individual doses or to the average doses received by the population being considered. This confusion was resolved by an amendment in 1956, which stated clearly

1 For any person in any place outside of controlled areas the maximum permissible levels of exposure are 10 per cent of the occupational exposure levels.' [ICRP 1957]

4.2.50 For internal exposure, the ICRP noted that 1 much uncertainty still remains regarding the behaviour of radioactive materials in the body'. However, in contrast to its attitude in 1950 when it did not make recommendations on this matter but

merely quoted the practice in some countries, this time it made recommendations of values for the MPBBs and the MFCs in air and water of a large number of radioactive isotopes encountered in occupational exposure [ICRP 1955, pp.23-59].

4.2.51 In the case of alpha-emitting radioisotopes which localise in the bone, the MPBB was determined by a direct comparison with radium-226. As noted in para.4.1.9, a figure of 0.1 microgram (corresponding to 0.1 microcurie) had been in use

in the US for radium-226 for more than a decade. It was known that radium does not deposit uniformly in bone and, on the basis that other bone-seeking radioisotopes might deposit even more non-uniformly, a safety factor of five was allowed in making the comparison with radium-226.

4.2.52 For other radioisotopes, the MPBB was calculated as that body burden which would result in an average dose of 0.3 rem per week to the organ in which the maximum concentration of the


isotope occurs. The MFCs in air and water were those which, if taken continuously during working hours, would lead to the MPBB when an equilibrium state was reached. To simplify the

calculations, the only routes of intake considered were ingestion and inhalation.

4.2.53 It is important to realise that the MFCs in air and water applied to continuous intake at that concentration. Short-term exposures to higher concentrations were permitted. The ICRP recommendations of 1954 state 'Exposures of individuals

for a few days to air and water concentrations 10 times those listed...would not be harmful or any cause for alarm provided the average concentration over any interval of a year does not exceed those recommended values' [ICRP 1955, p.57]. The reasoning could be extended to concentrations greater than 10 times the MFC

provided that the exposure was of correspondingly short duration and provided that no other factor such as chemical toxicity was limiting.

4.2.54 The ICRP also made recommendations on radiation monitoring. The workers' external radiation doses were to be checked, either continuously or periodically, by film badges or ionisation chambers. Periodic monitoring should suffice in

conditions where workers' doses could not exceed maximum permissible levels; otherwise, monitoring should be continuous. Where unsealed radioactive substances were used, environmental surveys were recommended if the quantities involved were potentially hazardous.

4.2.55 Pre-employment blood examinations were recommended for radiation workers in addition to any other pre-employment health examination, although the ICRP pointed out that there was no general agreement among haematolegists as to whether people with a low total number of white cells should be excluded from

radiation work. Provided that both site and personnel radiation monitoring were carried out to check workers' exposure to both internal and external radiation, the ICRP recommended routine blood counts as follows:

'(a) routine blood counts are unnecessary in the case of workers who receive doses not exceeding one-third of the permissible doses;

(b) routine blood counts are optional in the case of workers who receive doses between one-third and two-thirds of the permissible doses; and

(c) routine blood counts are desirable in the case of workers who receive doses exceeding two-thirds of the permissible doses.' [ICRP 1955, p. 11]

No particular frequency for routine blood counts was mentioned.


4.2.56 Where site monitoring showed that personnel could not receive more than one-tenth of the permissible dose for external and internal radiation, personnel tests (routine blood counts and personal radiation monitoring) were deemed unnecessary.

4.2.57 The ICRP emphasised that its policy was to deal with the basic principles of radiation protection and to leave to the various national protection committees the right and

responsibility of introducing the detailed technical regulations, recommendations, or codes of practice best suited to the needs of their individual countries. This remains its policy today.

Radiation Protection Standards for Use at Maralinga

4.2.58 In his 1955 paper on maximum permissible doses (see para.4.2.34) Barnes proposed changes in accordance with the latest (1954) ICRP recommendations. The normal working rate was changed to 1.5 rep per week of which the gamma radiation

component was not to exceed 0.3 r per week.

4.2.59 Barnes suggested that the period of non-exposure in the case of the lower and higher integrated doses, instead of being fixed should be related to the dose received, and should be for a period sufficient to bring the average weekly dose down to

1.5 rep, of which the gamma radiation component was less than 0.3 r, i.e. the same as the normal working rate.

4.2.60 The desirability of keeping all doses as low as

practicable and strictly limiting the number of persons receiving more than the normal working rate was reiterated.

4.2.61 When Barnes' paper was considered on 5 May 1955 by the UKAEA's Health Panel at a meeting with its eminent consultants Sir Ernest Rock Carling, Professor Mayneord, Professor Mitchell and Dr Lout it, one of the consultants said that he had been told

by Civil Defence and military personnel (not scientists 1) who had been at previous trials that valuable information had been lost because the upper limit of exposure had been set too low. The consultants suggested - and it was agreed - that a fourth

category should be added: a special higher integrated dose of 7 5 rep, of which not more than 25 rep should be due to gamma radiation. This was only to be applied to personnel who were not normally exposed to radiation, and to require ' the express permission of the commander of the operation who would have

expert medical and radiological (protection) advice at hand1. Personnel exposed to this new special higher integrated dose were not to be exposed to radiation for a further three years IRC 255, Document 7 _|.

4.2.62 Thus the radiological safety regulations drawn up in 1955-1956 for use at the Maralinga Range contained four maximum MPLs for external exposure to beta and gamma radiation: a normal


working rate, a lower integrated dose, a higher integrated dose and a special higher integrated dose [RC 282j.

4.2.63 The normal working rate was 1.5 rep/week of which the gamma radiation component must not exceed 0.3 rep per week, conforming with the 1954 ICRP recommendation. The lower and upper integrated doses were the same as for Totem, and the

special higher integrated dose was as recommended by the Health Panel.

4.2.64 To these MPLs was added another for neutron radiation, which was identical to the ICRP recommendation of 1954 for exposure to neutrons.

4.2.65 For internal radiation, MFCs for air and water were given for a number of radionuclides, based on ICRP

recommendations adjusted for a working week of 56 hours. If the number of hours were different, corrections were to be applied. Limits were also given for skin contamination.

4.2.66 As for Totem, a detailed code of practice was drawn up and incorporated into the Radiological Safety Regulations for Maralinga. A system of classification of range areas according to the degree of hazard - non-active, blue, red and yellow

areas - was defined, and the precautions to be adopted for work in each area, including the protective clothing to be worn, were specified.

4.2.67 The monitoring to be carried out - both personal and area monitoring, monitoring of active waste and equipment - was laid down. The allocation of responsibility for personal monitoring was stated clearly: 'Personal monitoring must primarily be the individual's responsibility' |_RC 282, p. 21J.

4.2.68 The general responsibilities of all categories of persons at the trials were set out in some detail. The

responsibility for compliance with the regulations was a joint one involving the management and all the individuals involved.

4.2.69 The document 'Radiological Safety Regulations Maralinga' |_RC 282, RSRM/56 (5) j was issued on 29 March 1956, by the Director of the AW RE on behalf of the Minister of Supply, after the regulations had been agreed to by the authorities both

in the UK and Australia. During trial periods, their enforcement was the responsibility of the Trials Superintendent and, in inter-trial periods, it was the responsibility of the Range Commandant advised by the AHPR on Health Physics matters.

4.2.70 These regulations remained unchanged until amended on 20 June 1960 to bring tne normal dose limit into line with the ICRP's 1958 recommendation. This meant that there was no longer a normal working rate specified in terms of a maximum dose in one

week, but a limit was placed on the dose accumulated in 13 weeks and a further limit on average annual dose.


4.2.71 The way in which the regulations were framed clearly implied a belief in a threshold dose below which there would be no adverse effects:

'Under properly controlled conditions work involving exposure to these radiations (alpha, beta, gamma and neutrons) can be carried on in perfect safety.' [RC 282, p.7]


1 The object of these regulations is to ensure complete protection both of staff and of the general public, whilst imposing the minimum interference with work.' [loc.cit.]

4.2.72 With statements such as these, it would not be

surprising if the caution on maximum permissible levels

1 ... It is emphasised that these are maxima and every endeavour must be made to keep the average exposure as low as possible.1 [ibid., p.8J

were overlooked or not taken very seriously by the average reader of the Radiological Safety Regulations.

Radiological Safety Regulations for Mosaic

4.2.73 Prior to its leaving the UK for the Mosaic trials, one of the tasks allocated to the Radiological Group was to draft radiological safety regulations for approval by the appropriate UK and Australian Ministries. The regulations are to be found in

the Mosaic Joint Operational Plan Section E [AWRE 1956bj.

4.2.74 Apart from necessary minor amendments, the regulations were identical to those drafted for use at the Maralinga Range.

4.2.75 In addition to this document, a 1 Simple Guide to

Radiation Safety in Operation Mosaic1 was prepared by AWRE. On 24 April 1956 it was forwarded by the Naval Task Force Commander for Mosaic, Commodore Martell, to the commanding officers of UK and Australian ships of the Special Squadron.

4.2.76 The general philosophy of radiation protection at Mosaic was expressed in the 1 simple guide1 as follows:

' The prime responsibility for radiation safety rests with each individual. A well thought out plan of action, plus common sense, goes a long way to minimise any possible exposure risk. If the advice of the

Health Controller is taken, no matter how tedious it seems at the time, this operation can be carried out with complete safety.1 [RC 291j


4.2.77 For the personnel on board HMS Diana, a ship fitted with special decontamination equipment, separate radiological safety provisions were made, since it was intended that the ship should receive fallout to test the special equipment. These were based on a dose limit of 0.3 r for people in the protected part of the ship below deck [RC 434, p.2].

New International Interest in Radiation Protection

4.2.78 In the mid 1950s there was a great deal of concern

internationally over radiation protection. The First International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy ('Atoms for Peace'), held in Geneva in August 1955, brought together a number of international experts in radiation protection, including some from the Soviet Union. There were many informal discussions among the experts and also with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the newly formed

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). One of the matters discussed informally by the scientists was a recent grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to the US National Academy of Sciences for a study of the biological effects of radiation with special emphasis on genetic effects. Soon afterwards it became known to US scientists that the British Medical Research Council had already embarked on a similar study, and arrangements were made

for the two reports to be issued at the same time (June 1956).

4.2.79 In 1955, the UN General Assembly set up the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). Its responsibilities were to report on the amounts of ionising radiation to which people were exposed from different

sources, and the effects to be expected. It was precluded from making recommendations except on methods of standardisation of sources. Dr Eddy of Australia was elected its first chairman, but he died after only a short term in office.

4.2.80 UNSCEAR was to make a very significant contribution to radiation protection and the knowledge of radiation effects, by studying and collating published work and by drawing attention to areas in which further research was needed. In some cases, it arranged for such research to be carried out. It published eight major reports between 1958 and 1982. It meets annually with about 70 scientists who are official representatives from UN member states. It is common for members of other international bodies such as WHO and ICRP to attend as observers, and

scientific data collected and reviewed by UNSCEAR forms a valuable basis for the ICRP to consider when framing its recommendations.

4.2.81 In the late 1950s, a large number of international organisations became involved in radiation safety, including the WHO, the IAEA, the International Labor Office (ILO), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Food

and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


Amendments to ICRP Recommendations in 1956

4.2.82 The ICRP met again in April 1956 in Geneva, this time in advance of the ICR which was held in July in Mexico. It is interesting that the Commission noted that its 1954

recommendations, which had sold well (2500 copies in about 30 countries), could not be regarded as a simple report to deal with, and the question of issuing a 'Child's Guide' to it was

raised! There was discussion of extending the concept of a permissible weekly dose to a permissible dose over a longer period. The US already prescribed a permissible dose for ' any seven consecutive days' and, in exceptional cases, not more than

three times the permissible weekly dose, provided that the total in 13 weeks was not more than 10 times the permissible weekly dose. The dose accumulated in 13 weeks was also used in Britain in some circumstances.

4.2.83 Another major issue discussed in 1956 was whether it was desirable to limit the dose which could be accumulated up to the end of the reproductive period, and also over the total life span. The concern to limit the ' lifetime' dose was based on a growing belief that the current 0.3 rem per week, if continued

for a whole working lifetime, might lead to an unacceptably increased risk of leukaemia and ageing effects, as had been noted in a growing number of reports on causes of death among


4.2.84 Whereas it had been hoped to consolidate reports of the various ICRP sub-committees' and present a final document to the Executive Committee of the ICR in 1956, this did not happen. There was a continuous stream of proposed amendments and new

information arising which delayed publication of the Geneva decisions. The ICRP issued the most important of these in a short report which appeared in a number of radiological journals in 1957 [ICRP 1957j. However, these decisions were well known to the leaders in the radiation protection field in Britain, as in other countries which had members on the various ICRP


4.2.85 The recommendations on permissible external dose for populations were clarified by defining a 'controlled area' as one in which the occupational exposure of personnel to radiation or radioactive material is supervised by a radiation safety officer.

For such personnel, the maximum permissible levels (MPLs) of exposure were those specified for occupational exposure in 1954. For any person outside a controlled area, the MPLs of exposure were to be 10 per cent of the occupational exposure levels. The

ICRP recognised that, as yet, only a very small fraction of the population would be thus exposed. For whole-body exposure to penetrating radiation, the limit was 500 mrem per year.


4.2.86 When genetic effects were considered, the dose to the entire population was important. Noting that scientific data from human as distinct from experimental animal populations were sparse, the ICRP declined to set a maximum permissible 'genetic dose1 for a whole population, but advised that it would be prudent to limit the radiation dose to gametes (germ cells) up to

the time of reproduction from all sources additional to the natural background to an amount of the order of the natural background.

4.2.87 The averaging of permissible doses over a 13-week period was allowed in the following amendment:

1 In exceptional cases in which it is necessary for a person to receive in one week more than the basic permissible weekly organ doses, the unit of time may be extended to 13 weeks provided that the total dose in

any organ accumulated during a period of any thirteen consecutive weeks does not exceed ten times the respective basic permissible weekly dose. 1 |_ibid., pp.494-5]

Caution was advocated in the occupational exposure of pregnant women, since it was known that the embryo was very


4.2.88 For the first time, the ICRP made a reference, albeit worded confusingly, to somatic effects detectable only by statistical means in large groups of exposed persons. Possible shortening of life-span was mentioned as such an effect. Although not changing its basic recommended limits, the

Commission noted that existing radiation practices of keeping all exposure to radiation to the lowest practicable level were expected to lead to average occupational exposures of about 5 rent per year (i.e. about one-third of the recommended limit),

hence average accumulated doses to the age of 30 years of about 50 rem, and 200 rem to the age of 60. By inference, these

accumulated doses could be regarded as 1 acceptable1. To be consistent, the recommendations on permissible doses for internal radiation were amended in cases in which the gonads or the whole body were the 'critical organ1 . In these cases, the maximum permissible weekly dose for the organ was set at 0.1 rem instead of the previous 0.3 rem.

Medical Research Council Reports

4.2.89 In June 1956 Britain's Medical Research Council presented to Parliament a report entitled 'The Hazards to Man of Nuclear and Allied Radiations' [RC 573, MRC 1956]. This detailed report had been prepared by a committee chaired by Sir Harold Himsworth, which was set up especially for the task by the MRC in

response to a request by the Prime Minister in March 1955.


4.2.90 The report is important to the Royal Commission because it expresses the British views on radiation effects and radiation protection at that time, the time of planning for the Maralinga tests and the Mosaic series at the Monte Bello Islands.

4.2.91 The report reviewed the information on the induction of leukaemia by radiation and concluded that

'...our knowledge of the occurrence of leukaemia under conditions of chronic exposure is too scanty to allow any reliable conclusions to be drawn.1 [ibid., para.301J

4.2.92 With regard to the induction of cancers by radiation, the report noted that the tumours tend to arise in tissues which are already severely damaged by radiation, and there is a long latent period of twenty years or more [ibid., para.302].

4.2.93 The report concluded that

' individual could, without feeling undue concern about developing any of the delayed effects, accept a total dose of 200 r in his life-time, additional to that received from the natural background, provided that this dose is distributed over tens of years and that the maximum weekly exposure, averaged over any period of 13 consecutive weeks, does not exceed 0.3 r. We recommend, however, that the aim should always be to keep the level of exposure as low as possible.'

[ibid., para.352]

4.2.94 With regard to genetic effects, the MRC said that ' nowhere in our report have we been more conscious... of the limitations of the knowledge at our disposal‘ [ibid., para.100]. It concluded that

'The genetic effects of radiation are essentially problems concerning the future welfare of the

population as a whole.

‘It follows from the nature of the genetic effects of radiation that a small fraction of a population can, without harm to its members, receive dosages of

radiation which would be likely to have serious genetic effects if applied to the population as a whole. We feel that an individual, considered as such, can accept a total gonad dose of not more than 50 r, from

conception until the age of thirty, additional to that received from the natural background, without undue concern for himself or his offspring, but that the number of such individuals should not exceed

one-fiftieth of the population as a whole. [ibid., para.353, 354].


4.2.95 A second MRC report on 1 The Hazards to Man of Nuclear and Allied Radiations' was presented to Parliament on December 1960 [RC 573, MRC I960].

4.2.96 In a discussion of the concept of a threshold dose of radiation, this report defined the uncertainty:

' The essential difficulty is to decide whether an apparent threshold is due to a genuine absence of effect at low doses or to a failure to observe the effect owing to the very low frequency at which it is occurring.

1 There are great practical difficulties in planning any investigation to decide this issue.

'We therefore think it prudent to continue to assume that even the lowest doses of radiation may involve a finite, though correspondingly low, probability of adverse effect. This may prove to be an unduly

cautious attitude but, in our opinion, it is the only justifiable one in the present state of our knowledge.' [MRC 1960, para.22, 23, 26]

ICRP Recommendations 1958

4.2.97 A major revision of the ICRP's recommendations was adopted in September 1958 and published as the first of a series of ICRP documents (later called ICRP Publication 1) in early 1959 [ICRP 1959].

4.2.98 In a prefatory review to the recommendations, the ICRP explained some of the considerations which led to the formulation of the recommended permissible doses. It pointed out that, prior to the 1956 meeting in Geneva, permissible levels of exposure to

radiation had been expressed in terms of a dose in a rather short interval of time (one day or one week), that is, essentially, in terms of an average dose rate. It was assumed (implicitly, if not explicitly) that if this average dose rate were low enough, no appreciable bodily injury would become apparent in the

lifetime of the individual [ibid., pp.3-4]. This assumption was the basis for setting radiological protection standards for the British atomic tests in Australia.

4.2.99 By 1958, however, it was clear that two different types of possible long-term somatic effects had to be considered in setting permissible dose limits. The first type was a serious effect occurring in some individuals (as had been shown in the case of leukaemia in radiologists), and the aim would be to

reduce the incidence to the lowest practical limit. The second type (life shortening) was presumed to affect every individual, hence the aim would be to reduce the degree of effect to the


lowest possible value. The definition of 'permissible dose' was changed to cover the two types of effect:

'The permissible dose for an individual is that dose, accumulated over a long period of time or resulting from a single exposure, which, in the light of present knowledge, carries a negligible probability of severe

somatic or genetic injuries; furthermore, it is such a dose that any effects that ensue more frequently are limited to those of a minor nature that would not be considered unacceptable by the exposed individual and by competent medical authorities.' Libid., p.9]

4.2.100 The general objectives of radiation protection were stated as being 'to prevent or minimize somatic injuries and to minimize the deterioration of the genetic constitution of the population' [loc.cit.j.

4.2.101 The concept of limiting the accumulated dose, which had been introduced somewhat tentatively in 1956, was reinforced and the inference that the limitation of accumulated dose

corresponded roughly to a three-fold reduction in weekly dose was stated plainly. However, the 'permissible weekly dose' was dropped, on the assumption that it was the dose accumulated over a period of years which mattered most, provided that it was made up of sufficiently small doses. It was stated that the

recommendation of a reduction in accumulated dose over a lifetime did not ‘ result from positive evidence of damage due to use of the earlier permissible dose levels, but rather is based on tne concept that biological recovery may be minimal at such low dose

levels' [ICRP 1959, p.11].

4.2.102 The accumulated dose in the critical tissues, namely the blood-forming organs, gonads, and lenses of the eyes, was to be limited to that given by the formula

D = 5(N-18)

where D is the tissue dose in rems and N is age in years. For a person starting radiation work at 18 years and exposed at a constant rate thereafter, this formula implies a maximum dose of 5 rem per year or 0.1 rem per week, one-third of the previous value. To the extent allowed by the formula, 3 rem could be

accumulated in any period of 13 consecutive weeks.

4.2.103 Skin - which was no longer seen as a 'critical organ' - and the thyroid gland were assigned occupational exposure limits of 8 rem in any 13 consecutive weeks and 30 rem in one year. For other single organs, the corresponding limits were 4 rem in

13 weeks and 15 rem in one year. Tne hands and forearms, feet and ankles were allowed 20 rem in 13 weeks and 75 rem in a year. These dose limits were to exclude any medical exposure (as a patient) and exposure to natural (background) radiation.


4.2.104 Recommendations for limiting the exposure of individual members of the public were made in 1958, using a complex

classification of persons as adults who work in the vicinity of a controlled area, adults who enter controlled areas occasionally in the course of their duties, members of the public living in the neighbourhood of controlled areas and members of the population at large. Dose limits for certain tissues and organs

were specified for persons in these categories. For members of the public (including children) living in the neighbourhood of controlled areas, the recommended dose limit for gonads, blood-forming organs and lenses of eyes was 0.5 rem/year i.e. essentially one-tenth of the limit for radiation workers.

4.2.105 For exposure of populations, the genetic effects were still considered to be of most concern, and a 1 permissible genetic dose1 in addition to the natural background radiation of 5 rem plus the lowest practicable contribution from medical exposure was recommended (to the age of JO years), on the basis of an assumption of a linear relationship between gonad dose and genetic effects, provided that no threshold dose exists.

4.2.106 No specific recommendations were made for a 1 maximum permissible somatically relevant dose to the population1. It was expected that adherence to the maximum permissible dose limits for individuals would limit any injuries that could possibly occur in a population to acceptable levels. It was reiterated

that 1 the Commission recommends that all doses be kept as low as practicable, and that any unnecessary exposure be avoided1 LICRP 1959, p.llj.

4.2.107 In 1958, for the first time, the ICRP commented on accidental and emergency exposures. It was recommended that emergency work involving exposure up to 12 rem be permitted (but not for women of reproductive age); if the accumulated dose then exceeded that calculated by the D = 5 (N-18) rem formula, the excess was to be 'worked off1 within a period of 5 years or less. Guidance was also given on administrative action to be taken in

the event of an accidental dose up to 25 rem; above this figure, the accidental dose was to be regarded as potentially serious and medical advice was to be sought.

4.2.108 Publication of the basic ICRP recommendations in early 1959 was soon followed by the report of the Committee on

Permissible Dose for Internal Radiation LICRP 1960j. It represented a major revision of the internal radiation section of the 1954 Recommendations LICRP 1955 j and extended the listing of MPBBs and MFCs in air and in water to some 240 radionuclides. Limits were calculated for both soluble and insoluble materials and detailed metabolic, chemical and biological data on the standard man were given.



4.2.109 In 1958, the state of knowledge of radiation effects and the sources of radiation to which mankind was exposed were summarised in considerable detail by UNSCEAR in its first comprehensive report to the UN General Assembly [UNSCEAR 1958J.

In this report the Committee said

1 Although there exists a large body of information concerning the effects of irradiation, it is apparent that our knowledge is still insufficient...We have some knowledge of the biological effects caused by exposure

to large doses of radiation, but we know very little about the possible effects on man of intermittent small doses or of low levels of continuous irradiation. ' [ibid., p.3]

4.2.110 With regard to genetic effects the Committee stated

1 For an estimation of radiation hazards, it is of prime importance to have information on the dose-effect relationship at low doses. The data so far available point to the fact that at low dose the amount of

genetic damage is related linearly to the increase in radiation, this supporting the assumption that natural radiation contributes to natural mutations. This linear relationship has been found to be true for all experiments so far performed on viruses,

micro-organisms, multicellular plants and animals.

'These results further indicate that, as dosage is decreased, the number of individuals affected becomes smaller but the consequences to each of those affected remain the same.1 [ibid., p.19]

4.2.111 In summarising the information on somatic effects, UNSCEAR said

'Exposure to relatively large doses of external or internal irradiation produces a variety of

characteristic and well-known somatic effects which may occur either immediately or with a delay of a few days to several years...Many of the acute effects, such as erythema of the skin and radiation sickness following

whole-body exposure, have characteristic threshold doses. Similar thresholds exist for acute blood and bone disorders following ingestion of large amounts of radium and other radioactive materials. 1

1 As the dose of radiation is reduced below the amounts giving rise to acute functional or morphological alterations, the reactions of the organism become more difficult to detect immediately and the effects may be


progressively delayed in time. Thresholds are not easily revealed under these conditions of exposure; in fact, for some of the most delayed phenomena, it is uncertain whether they exist.' [ibid., p.29]



ICRP Recommendations 1950

(a) The international radiation protection recommendations agreed to by the ICRP in 1950 were based on a belief that for all radiation effects except genetic or heritable effects, there were threshold doses for different effects and different types of

radiation below which the various effects would not be observed. The values of these threshold doses were however uncertain, and this uncertainty led to a strong recommendation 1 that every

effort be made to reduce exposures to all types of ionising radiations to the lowest possible level1. Genetic effects were considered unimportant at the maximum permissible dose levels which were recommended.

Radiation Protection Standards for the Hurricane and Totem Tests

(b) The policy on exposure to radiation laid down for

participants in the Hurricane trial, the code of practice for application of the policy, and the maximum radiation doses specified, were reasonable and compatible with the international recommendations applicable at the time.

(c) The radiation protection standards and procedures laid down for participants in the Totem trials were appropriate when considered in light of international radiation protection standards of the time.

ICRP Recommendations 1954-1956

(d) The international radiation protection recommendations adopted by the ICRP in 1954 were essentially unchanged from those of 1950. They were still based on a belief in a 1 threshold dose1 for all but genetic effects of radiation.

(e) A limit of maximum permissible exposure for individual members of the public was agreed by the ICRP in 1956 and

published in 1957. The limit was to be 10 per cent of the


corresponding occupational limit, i.e. 500 mrem per year for whole-body exposure to penetrating radiation.

Radiological Safety Regulations for Maralinga and Mosaic

(£) The radiological safety regulations developed for Maralinga in 1955-56 and also used for Mosaic were appropriate when considered in light of international radiation protection standards of the time. The regulations for these and earlier

tests were not always complied with, as will be shown in

Chapters 5-9.

ICRP Recommendations 1958

(g) In 1958, the ICRP first stated clearly that there are two types of radiation effects against which protection is required; these are now known as stochastic and non-stochastic effects.

(h) In 1958, the concept of a permissible weekly dose was dropped, on the basis that it was the total accumulated dose which was important (provided that it was made up of sufficiently small doses). The dose limits were set for a period of one year

(subject to a further limit over a 13 week period). In effect the new limit was one third of the earlier (1950 and 1954) values.

4.3 Radiation Protection in the Early 1960s


4.3.1 In 1962, UNSCEAR published its second comprehensive report on sources of radiation and their biological effects LUNSCEAR 1962j. The relationship between irradiation and the later occurrence of leukaemia, which was first suspected in the 1940s and early 1950s when an increased incidence of leukaemia in radiologists was noted, was now firmly established by a demonstrated increase in incidence in two study populations: the

survivors of atomic bombs in Japan; and a large group of patients with a disease of the spine, ankylosing spondylitis, who had been treated in Britain with X-rays. Both studies were continuing,

but neither could as yet provide answers to two questions:

What is the relationship between dose and incidence of leukaemia?

Is there a threshold dose below which leukaemia will not be induced?


4.3.2 Since 1958, the study of the Japanese atomic bomb

survivors had shown an increased incidence of some other forms of cancer besides leukaemia, the incidence being highest among those closest to the explosions. However, the state of knowledge on the induction of cancers after irradiation was still too uncertain to permit definite conclusions to be drawn about the effects of low doses of radiation.. The one exception, although somewhat controversial, appeared to be in the case of children

irradiated during the mother's pregnancy, where Dr Alice Stewart (who gave evidence to the Royal Commission) and others had reported an increase in leukaemia and other malignant diseases after quite low doses (about 10 rad or less). The other question of whether radiation led to a shortening of the life span

remained unsolved.


4.3.3 In 1964, UNSCEAR produced a new report which

concentrated on two particular topics: the contamination of the environment by nuclear explosions (which was of particular concern because of the numerous tests carried out in 1961-1962); and the possibility of making quantitative assessments of the

risks of induction of cancers (including leukaemia) by radiation in man [UNSCEAR 1964J.

4.3.4 Better dose estimates in the range 100 to 900 rad

(approximately) for the Japanese atomic bomb survivors allowed a numerical estimate to be made of the increased incidence of leukaemia due to radiation of between one and two cases per year per rad per million people exposed (for leukaemia occurring in

the years 1950 to 1958).

4.3.5 When taken together, studies of various groups of people who had received a radiation dose to the thyroid gland during childhood for benign disease suggested an approximately linear relationship between dose (in the range 100 to 300 rad) and the incidence of thyroid cancer. For a 16-year period after

irradiation, a risk estimate of about one case per year per rad per million people exposed could be inferred.

4.3.6 As was pointed out by UNSCEAR, for estimation of risk as a function of dose outside the dose ranges for which

observations are available, it is necessary to make assumptions. One such assumption related to the incidence of effects in the region of low doses. As UNSCEAR put it

1 Even statistical studies of cancer incidence in large irradiated populations cannot unequivocally establish the existence of a threshold. In general, therefore, for the estimation of risk at low doses it has to be accepted that there is a finite risk of cancer

induction, however small, even at the lowest doses.1 [UNSCEAR 1964, p.82j


ICRP Recommendations 1962-1965

* · 3 · 7 In 1962, the I CRP revised its 1958 recommendations which had been amended in 1959. This revision was published in 1964 as Publication 6 [ICRP 1964J. The most important change was in the maximum permissible dose for the lens of the eye. Whereas

previously the lens had been regarded as one of the

radiosensitive tissues (together with the blood-forming organs and the gonads) and was subject to the 5 (N-18) rem limit, it was now considered that the lens might be especially radiosensitive only to radiations having a high linear energy transfer (LET)

such as alpha particles and neutrons. Where low-LET radiations such as X, gamma and beta radiation were concerned, the lens was considered no more radiosensitive than other organs and the limit of 15 rem per year or 4 rem in 13 weeks was recommended.

4.3.8 A new comprehensive statement of ICRP1s recommendations was approved in September 1965 and later published as ICRP Publication 9 [ICRP 1966]. The Commission made the following statement on, the risk of radiation exposure:

1 As any exposure may involve some degree of risk, the Commission recommends that any unnecessary exposure be avoided, and that all doses be kept as low as is

readily achievable, economic and social considerations being taken into account.1

4.3.9 The categories of exposed persons were simplified to two:

(a) adults exposed in the course of their work; and

(b) members of the public.

4.3.10 There were few changes to the maximum permissible doses (MPDs) recommended for workers and although most of the annual MPDs remained the same, there was a relaxation in the fraction which could be accumulated in a quarter of a year (even in a

single dose) from one-quarter to one-half of the annual limit.

4.3.11 A new term, ‘dose equivalent1, was introduced in 1965. This was the absorbed dose multiplied by one or more factors, the principal factor being the 'quality factor' of the radiation,

which replaced the earlier RBti.

4.3.12 For members of the public, the term 'maximum

permissible dose1 was replaced by 1 dose limit1. Annual dose limits were set at one-tenth of the corresponding annual MPDs for workers, except in the case of the thyroid of children below 16 years of age. Because of evidence that the thyroid of the child

might be more radiosensitive than that of the adult, a limit of 1.5 rem was recommended in this case, i.e. one half of the limit for adult members of the public.


4.3.13 From 1962 onwards, ICRP had sought to improve its efficiency and increase the speed of publication of reports by setting up small specialist task groups from time to time to examine particular topics and report to one of the ICRP

sub-committees. Many of these task group reports were published for information and comment, but in general they were not subject to the same detailed process of review and approval as the reports of the ICRP itself. However, by using task groups the ICRP was able to draw on scientists in many more disciplines to

deal with specialised topics, and the number of people and the range of opinions which contributed to ICRP deliberations were increased significantly.


4.3.14 By 1965, the ICRP definitely based its radiation protection recommendations on the assumption that any exposure may involve some risk. It recommended that any unnecessary exposure be avoided, and that all doses be kept as low as is

readily achievable, economic and social considerations being taken into account.

4.4 Radiation Protection 1965-1975

4.4.1 During tne decade from 1965 to 1975 there was intense interest in radiation protection among scientists and the public, with the prospect of a greatly increased use of nuclear energy in several countries and the widespread realisation that any exposure to radiation, however small, must be assumed to carry some risk.

4.4.2 National and international committees and organisations concerned with nuclear radiation were very active in this period: UNSCEAR issued major reports in 1966, 1969 and 1972; the ICRP, its sub-committees and task groups issued a large number of

reports as did the NCRP in the US; and in mid-1970 the US

Federal Radiation Council (FRC) requested the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for information on radiation effects and risks which it could use to j udge the adequacy of its existing

radiation protection guides.

4-4.3 Professor Edward Radford was a member of the Advisory Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiations (the BEIR Committee) which was set up to undertake this task. He told the Royal Commission that this Committee published its report on

'The Effects on Populations of Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation1, now commonly known as the BEIR I Report, in

November 1972 [BEIR 1972J.


4.4.4 The BEIR I report concluded that, given the current state of knowledge, the linear hypothesis without a threshold was the most practical and indeed the only workable hypothesis to use in estimating radiation risks in a population. Using this hypothesis to estimate cancer risks at low doses from the data

available at higher doses, the cancer risks became more important than genetic risks in a population irradiated at low doses. The Committee pointed out that there were uncertainties in inferring risks associated with radiation exposure at levels not much above

the natural background from the data available from the studies of Japanese atomic bomb survivors, and from groups of patients who had been treated with radiation for non-malignant conditions (see para.4.3.1) - the dose rates differed by factors of about one hundred million, and the effect of this difference was not known. However, it was clear that the prevailing radiation protection guide for the exposure of populations, which was based

on considerations of genetic risk, was no longer appropriate.

4.4.5 The BEIR Committee made some statements on general radiation protection philosophy which seem to the Royal Commission to be just as valid in 1985 as in 1972. The first two of these are given below:

(a) 1 No exposure to ionizing radiation should be permitted without the expectation of a commensurate benefit'.


(b) 'The public must be protected from radiation but not to the extent that the degree of protection

provided results in the substitution of a worse hazard for the radiation avoided. Additionally there should not be attempted the reduction of small risks even further at the cost of large sums of money that spent otherwise, would clearly produce greater benefit.'

[BEIR 1972, p.2]

4.4.6 As Radford put it in his evidence to the Royal

Commission, the BEIR I report did not settle the controversy over the effects of low doses; in fact the controversy became even more heated [Trans., p.4742j. A large number of articles in both scientific journals and other publications discussed the possible

significance of low doses. A further BEIR report was

commissioned in 1976 but, after much controversy and dissension among the Committee, was not published in its final form until 1980 [BEIR 1980j.

4.4.7 One concern which arose during this decade was whether irradiation of lung tissue by radioactive particulate material (especially containing alpha-emitting radionuclides such as plutonium) which was deposited in the lung in a series of ' hot spots' might be more hazardous (in producing lung cancer) than if

the same quantity of material were dispersed uniformly. This so


called 'hot particle1 theory was investigated by the NCRP between 1972 and 1974, and also by the ICRP. Both organisations

expressed the view, based on theoretical considerations and epidemiological evidence, that the hazard of material distributed in ' hot spots' is unlikely to be more than that of uniformly distributed particles, and very probably it is less hazardous. Radford considers the matter still unresolved [Trans., p.4760j.

The ICRP report, 'Biological Effects of Inhaled Radionuclides' includes a discussion of this topic. It states:

'The hot particle issue has been addressed by numerous scientists and scientific bodies, all of which conclude that a hot particle effect with regard to fatal lung cancer has not been demonstrated in either human beings or experimental animals.‘ [ICRP 1980, p.86]

4.4.8 In 1974, the ICRP agreed that its basic

recommendations, which had been published in 1966 and amended slightly in 1969 and 1971, needed complete revision. The new recommendations were issued in 1977 as Publication 26.

4.5 ICRP Recommendations Since 1977

4.5.1 The currently recommended radiation protection standards, in Australia and most other countries, are based on the ICRP's recommendations of 1977. These recommendations stated the general objective of radiation protection to be 'the

protection of individuals, their progeny and mankind as a whole, while still allowing necessary activities from which radiation exposure might result' [ICRP 1977, p. 2] .

4.5.2 On the basis of the present knowledge of radiation effects, there are considered to be two distinct types of effect against which protection is required; these are given the designations 'stochastic' and 'non-stochastic‘ effects.

4.5.3 A stochastic effect is one for which the probability of occurrence of the effect is a function of the dose. The severity of the effect does not depend on the dose. The induction of cancer is a stochastic effect; heritable or genetic effects are also stochastic at the dose range involved in radiation protection. There is assumed to be no threshold dose below which

these effects will not occur.

4.5.4 For non-stochastic effects, the severity varies with the dose and a threshold may occur. Among non-stochastic effects are cataract of the lens of the eye, non-malignant damage to the skin, damage to gonadal cells leading to impairment of fertility, and cell depletion in the bone marrow leading to changes in the blood. For all non-stochastic effects of importance in radiation protection, there does appear to be a clear threshold dose below which no detrimental effects are observed. By setting dose


limits low enough, it should be possible to prevent these effects entirely, even if radiation exposure is to be continued over a whole lifetime or working lifetime. On the other hand, the assumption is that stochastic effects cannot be eliminated

entirely, and the aim is to limit the probability of these effects to levels considered to be acceptable. An additional aim is to prevent 'unnecessary' exposures by ensuring that practices involving radiation exposure are justified.

4.5.5 The ICRP set out its recommendations for a 1 system of dose limitation' in the form of three principles:

‘(a) no practice shall be adopted unless its

introduction produces a positive net benefit.

1 (b) all exposures shall be kept as low as reasonably achievable, economic and social factors being taken into account.

1(c) the dose equivalent to individuals shall not exceed the limits recommended for the appropriate circumstances by the Commission.1 L1CRP 1977, p.3J

4.5.6 Although these principles form the basis of most

current radiation protection philosophies throughout the world, there are many cases in which legislation and practices in radiation protection still do not conform with them.

4.5.7 Mr H J Dunster, the present Director of the NRPB,

explained these principles to the Royal Commission in the following terms:

1 Principle 1, sometimes called the justification of a practice, means that the good done by the practice should outweigh the harm, including any

radiation-induced harm, that it may do. The necessary judgements of both good and harm go far beyond

radiation issues. Principle 2 is now regarded as the most effective of the three. Since any dose is

presumed to do some harm, it is sensible to reduce or avoid radiation doses by any reasonable means. The practical problem is in deciding what is reasonable in relation to the importance of the reduced harm and of

the need for or purpose of the source of exposure. Finally, in relation to the third principle, there must be a level of dose above which the risk is high enough

to require reduction come what may. Working only just below this level will introduce risks that are barely tolerable. 1 l_RC 423 , p. 3 J

4.5.8 The dose limits of the 1977 recommendations were set in quite a different way from those of earlier years, reflecting new knowledge of the effects of low dose/low dose rate radiation which is of most concern in the protection of radiation workers

and the public.


Table 4.5.1

ICRP Dose Limits for Exposure of Male Workers

Date Description Limit(1)

1934 Whole body 0.2 r/day

1 r/week

1950 Whole body (at surface) Skin and extremities Critical deep organs

0.5 r/week 1.5 r/week 0.3 r/week

1954 Whole body, blood-forming gonads, lens of eye. Skin and extremities


0.3 rem/week 1.5 rem/week

1958 Whole body, blood-forming gonads, lens of eye Skin, thyroid

Any other single organ

organs, 3 rem/13 weeks(2) & 5(N-18) rems(3) 8 rem/13 weeks & 30 rem/year 4 rem/13 weeks &15 rem/year

1962 Lens of eye 4 rem/13 weeks

15 rem/year

1965 Whole body, red bone marrow, gonads

If additional flexibility needed annual limit can be replaced by cumulative limit. Skin, thyroid, bone


Other organs

3 rem/quarter & 5 rem/year

5(N-18) rem 15 rem/quarter & 30 rem/year 38 rem/quarter & 75 rem/year 8 rem/quarter & 15 rem/year

19 77 ' Whole body, effective dose equivalent Lens of eye Other organs (subject to limit

5 rem/year

30 rem/year

on effective dose equivalent) 50 rem/year

1980 Lens of eye 15 rem/year

1· Only the units roentgen (r) and rem have been used and

may be taken as numerically equal. Expressions such as rem/year mean the dose accumulated in the year, not a true dose rate. 2. The 13 week period was originally a sliding 13 week

period, later modified to a calendar quarter if the doses were not received at a grossly irregular rate. 3. In the formula limiting cumulative dose, N is the age

in years, rounded up to the next whole number.

Source: Dunster [RC 423j


4.5.9 Formerly, the dose to an individual was limited by the dose which could be received in the critical organ or tissue (which might in later years result in serious damage to that organ or tissue if the dose was too high) and no account was

taken of the doses received by other organs.

4.5.10 The 1977 recommendations were based on the knowledge that cancers may be induced in a number of organs or tissues many years after irradiation, with different probabilities in the different tissues. The risk of cancer associated with the

recommended dose limit should be the same, whether the body is irradiated uniformly or non-uniformly.

4.5.11 The ICRP assigned 1 weighting factors' to various organs according to the risk of stochastic effects occurring in them and the importance of those effects for the functioning of the body as a whole. An ' effective dose equivalent1 can then be derived by summing, for all the organs which are irradiated, the dose

equivalent to each organ multiplied by the weighting factor for that organ. The dose limit was set for this effective dose equivalent. Table 4.5.1 gives an historical resume of ICKP dose limits for the exposure of male workers.

4.5.12 While recognising that there is unlikely to be a

strictly linear relationship between dose and frequency of stochastic effects for low-LET radiation in the low dose/low dose rate region, the ICRP considered that assumption of a linear

relationship may be reasonable for radiation protection purposes, and is unlikely to underestimate risks although it may

overestimate them [ICRP 1977, p.7J.

4.5.13 Taking risk factors of 0.01 per sievert for death from radiation-induced cancers and 0.004 per sievert for hereditary effects in the first two generation of descendants, the ICRP now considers that its previous annual dose equivalent limit for occupational exposure (now applied to effective dose equivalent) of 50 mSv (5 rem) will result in an acceptable level of

protection. Both external and internal exposures are to be considered when applying this limit.

4.5.14 The basis for judging the acceptability of the level of risk in radiation work is by comparing this risk with that for other occupations recognised as having high standards of safety, which are generally considered to be those in which the average

annual mortality due to occupational hazards does not exceed 0.0001, (i.e. one in 10 000) LICRP 1977, pp.19-20]. It must be noted that 'averages' are compared; it has been shown that in

large groups of radiation workers the average dose is commonly about 5 mSv (one-tenth of the limit), and it is this average which gives a risk comparable to the average risk in other 'safe industries' [ibid., pp.20-21J. If a worker receives a dose near

the dose limit, he will be at about ten times the average risk, and whereas if this occurs only occasionally during a working lifetime, it will not make an appreciable difference to the total


risk, ICRP warned that the planning of radiation work so that workers routinely receive doses near the annual limit will result in substantially greater risks [ibid., p.21].

4.5.15 The ICRP emphasised that work with radiation sources should be planned so that all doses will be as low as reasonably achievable (commonly called the ALARA principle), and also so that no individual's dose would exceed the dose equivalent limit. However, the dose equivalent limit should not be regarded as a dividing line between safety and danger; the main significance

of someone's exposure having exceeded the limit slightly is that the planning of the work needs to be reviewed and working procedures may require change [ibid., p.16].

4.5.16 That the dose limit is not a dividing line between safety and danger follows from acceptance of a 'no threshold' relationship for the radiation effects which are important at low doses, i.e. the stochastic effects. The difference in risk associated with doses just above and just below the limit is very small. Only if a dose limit were just below the threshold dose

for some deleterious effect would it become very important that it never be exceeded.

4.5.17 For radiation workers, the ICRP considered that non-stochastic effects should be prevented by applying an annual dose equivalent limit of 500 mSv (50 rem) to all organs and tissues except the lens of the eye, for which the recommended

limit was 300 mSv (30 rem). In all cases, the dose equivalent is not to include contributions from any medical procedure or from normal natural (i.e. background) radiation. The dose limit for the lens was changed from 300 mSv to 150 mSv (15 rem) per year

in 1980.

4.5.18 For members of the public, the dose limit for

non-stochastic effects for all organs and tissues was set at 50 mSv (5 rem); this figure is lower than the limits for workers because the members of the public include children.

4.5.19 The former recommendation that not more than half the annual dose limit should be received in a single dose was dropped in 1977. The only restriction on the rate of accumulation of dose in the current recommendations is made in the case of pregnant women and women of reproductive capacity, in order to

protect a known or unsuspected foetus [ICRP 1977, p.8J.

4.5.20 Provision is made for 'planned special exposures' in cases where it may occasionally be necessary for one or more workers to exceed the dose limits in order to accomplish special tasks. This is allowed provided that the dose received does not

exceed twice the relevant annual limit in any single event, and, in a lifetime, five times this limit [ibid., p.22 j.

4.5.21 The ICRP also recognised that there may be abnormal situations such as emergencies where urgent action may be



required to save life, to prevent injuries or to prevent a substantial increase in the scale of an incident; some workers may then be exposed above the limits for planned special exposures. In these cases, the workers should be volunteers who are well informed of the risks of exposure above the limits.

4.5.22 The exposure of some of the participants in the

Britain's nuclear weapons test program, while retrieving important records or taking samples shortly after the explosions, could be regarded as comparable to a 'planned special exposure1, and in judging them by the standards of today, the limits for planned special exposure seem to the Royal Commission to be the

most appropriate.

Radiation Monitoring

4.5.23 The 1977 recommendations state that workers who might exceed three-tenths of the annual dose-equivalent limits should be individually monitored. If it is most unlikely that the three-tenths level will be exceeded, individual monitoring is not

necessary, although it may sometimes be carried out to confirm that conditions are satisfactory.

4.5.24 As Pochin pointed out, this recommendation has been attacked by epidemiologists on the grounds that if individual dose recording is not carried out below three-tenths of the dose limit, information which might elucidate the low-dose effects will be lost [Trans., p.9500j. This criticism is certainly

valid, as average annual doses, in countries for which detailed information is available (e.g. the United States, the United Kingdom, Federal Republic of Germany), for all monitored workers in occupations involving radiation exposure are currently in the region of 1 mSv [RC 573, p.27J. Also some knowledge of the doses being received is necessary to enable a judgement to be made as

to whether they are 'as low as reasonably achievable'.

4.5.25 The ICRP suggested that the most practical method of classifying workers for radiation monitoring purposes is usually to classify the workplace into areas subject to control in terms of access. A system of this type was used at the British nuclear

tests in Australia.

Medical Surveillance

4.5.26 In the light of evidence given to the Royal Commission by many nuclear veterans of the lack of medical surveillance during and subsequent to their work during the atomic tests program, ICRP recommendations in this respect are noteworthy. The ICRP considered that ' medical surveillance has no part to

play in confirming the effectiveness of a radiation protection


program' [ICRP 1977, p. 34]. This is not to say that medical surveillance of radiation workers is of no value, but its value lies in monitoring the worker's general state of health and in determining his fitness for the particular work he is to undertake. An examination before the person commences work with

ionising radiation provides a 'base line1 of information which is useful in case of accidental over-exposure or occupational disease, but if the exposure is kept within the dose limits recommended, routine medical examination cannot provide confirmation of low exposure; conversely, any illness, disease or abnormality detected cannot be unequivocally associated with

radiation exposure. Medical surveillance is however very important in cases of accidental overexposure.

Exposure of the Public

4.5.27 The risk, and hence the dose equivalent limit, which the ICRP thought likely to be acceptable to members of the public was inferred from a review of available information on risks regularly accepted in everyday life. Exactly what risks were studied was not stated, although the use of public transport was

mentioned [ICRP 1977, p.23J. The risk decided upon was about a factor of ten lower than for occupational exposure, and the corresponding dose equivalent is 1 mSv (100 mrem) per year of life-long whole body exposure.

4.5.28 The ICRP considered that, in general, this level of protection would be achieved by limiting the dose equivalent to 5 mSv (0.5 rem) per year for the average dose in a ' critical group' of the population. The critical group should be

representative of those individuals in the population likely to receive the highest doses and must be relatively homogeneous with respect to age, diet and the aspects of behaviour which affect the doses received. An example of a critical group in the context of the British nuclear tests might be the children among

the Aboriginal people living at Wallatinna at the time of the Totem 1 test. Current practice would be to assess their likely average dose from all pathways of exposure, and compare this value with the limit of 5 mSv in a year.

4.5.29 In 1977, the ICRP introduced a new term, 'collective dose equivalent' , to express a measure of the total number of deleterious effects in a population exposed to radiation. The collective dose equivalent for the population is the sum of all

the individual dose equivalents and, although it is an imperfect measure of detriment, it does enable some estimate to be made of the total number of deleterious effects (numbers of cancers, for example) which might be expected to occur in an exposed

population. It is especially useful in comparing the detriment associated with two or more alternative practices involving radiation exposure. A collective dose equivalent is expressed as a number of per son-sie verts (man-reins); a collective dose


equivalent of 1000 person-sieverts might describe a population of 1000 each receiving one sievert, or 10 000 people each receiving one-tenth of a sievert, or a million people each receiving one—hundredth of a sievert, i.e. 10 mSv. In these three cases,

the linear hypothesis would lead us to expect the same number of stochastic effects occurring in the population.

Internal Exposure

4.5.30 New terminology was introduced in the 1977

recommendations to take account of cases in which the exposure is extended in time. For example when a long-lived radionuclide is taken into the body, if not eliminated quickly it may irradiate body tissues for many years. The term 1 committed dose

equivalent' was introduced to mean the dose equivalent accumulated over 50 years, (representing a working life) following a single intake of radioactive material. More generally, a dose equivalent commitment could be calculated for

any exposure of a specified population which was extended in time.

4.5.31 The ICRP's dose equivalent limits for workers are intended to apply to the sum of the dose equivalents resulting from external exposure during one year and the committed dose equivalent from that year's intake of radionuclides.

4.5.32 Where internal exposure resulting from the intake of radionuclides is concerned, the IGRP suggested the use of secondary limits, the annual limits of intake (ALIs). The

previous recommendations for internal emitters, in IGRP Publication 2 [IGRP 1960J, recommended MPBBs and MFCs in air and water, based on the maximum dose rate in a critical organ. Now it is necessary to take account of all organs irradiated by

internal emitters; also there is greatly improved knowledge of the uptake and retention of radionuclides in body tissues, and of the radioactive decay schemes of some radionuclides. So Publication 2 has been replaced by a new eight part document

entitled 1 Annual Limits for Intakes of Radionuclides by Workers', IGRP Publication 30 [IGRP 1979-1982].

4.5.33 The term 'maximum permissible concentration' which had been widely misinterpreted as a limit which was never to be exceeded, has been dropped in favour of terms with no such connotation, such as derived air concentration. Once again, data

relate to an adult reference man. The IGRP has pointed out that where a group is known to differ substantially in biological characteristics from reference man, this difference should be

taken into account.


Recent Reports

4.5.34 In the last few years, ICRP has made several statements and published a number of reports on special topics. One such report relating to the non-stochastic effects of radiation, is mentioned in Section 4.7 [ICRP 1984]. The ICRP has also given

guidance on assessing ALIs for members of the public.

4.5.35 In 1985, the ICRP clarified its recommendation on effective dose equivalent limits for members of the public (see para.4.5.24 and 4.5.25). It now considers that the principal

limit is 1 mSv (100 mrem) in a year. However, it is permissible to use a subsidiary dose limit of 5 mSv (500 mrem) in a year for some years, provided that the average annual effective dose equivalent over a lifetime does not exceed the principal limit of 1 mSv in a year [ICRP 1985].



(a) Current radiation protection standards in most

countries including Australia and the United Kingdom are based on the 1977 recommendations of ICRP.

(b) The recommendations depend on a 3-part 1 system of dose limitation', which may be summarised as follows:

(i) all exposures must be justified;

(ii) once justified, all exposures must be kept as low as reasonably achievable, economic and social factors being taken into account; and

(iii) the dose to any individual may not exceed the appropriate limit specified by the ICRP.

(c ) The annual dose limit for occupational exposure which ICRP considers to provide an acceptable average risk is 50 mSv (5 rem), and is essentially unchanged since 1958.

(d) For occupational exposure, dose limits of 50 mSv per year should prevent non-stochastic effects in all organs of the body except the lens of the eye, for which the limit is 15 mSv per year.

(e ) 1 Planned special exposures' where workers may exceed the dose limits are permitted in certain circumstances, provided that the dose received does not exceed twice the relevant annual limit in a single event, or five times this limit in a lifetime.


(£) Medical examinations cannot confirm that exposure has been below the recommended annual limit. They are, however, useful to monitor the workers' general state of health. Any illness, disease or abnormality detected cannot be unequivocally

associated with radiation exposure, except possibly in a case of exposure well above the dose limit.

(g) The ICRP considers that an acceptable risk of

stochastic effects for individual members of the public will be provided if their average dose per year of life-long exposure is limited to 1 mSv (100 mrem) . This is not to be regarded as an absolute limit for any one year, but as a yearly average over a

lifetime. A subsidiary limit of 5 mSv (500 mrem) per year may be used where exposure is of short duration, and this limit is unchanged since 1956.

(h) For members of the public, non-stochastic effects

should be prevented by limiting the dose in any organ to 50 mtiv (5 rem) per year.

(i) Assuming a linear, no-threshold relationship between the frequency of stochastic effects and dose, it is possible to use available epidemiological data to derive risk estimates for stochastic effects at low doses.

(j) These risk estimates may be used, together with

estimates of collective dose to a population, to derive estimates of the total number of stochastic effects which might be expected to occur in that population. Such estimates are very imprecise but may be useful in some circumstances. They may give an

indication of the order of magnitude of the number of stochastic effects to be expected to result from a particular practice which exposes a population to radiation.

(k) In the light of the foregoing conclusions on current radiation protection standards, the Royal Commission concludes that the measures taken before and at the time of the tests for protecting persons against exposure to the harmful effects of

radiation, based as they were on the concept that any dose below a certain level was 'safe', must be regarded as inadequate in the light of radiation protection standards of the present time.

4.6 Current Knowledge of Stochastic Effects

4.6.1 The genetic or heritable effects and the cancers which are caused by radiation do not appear to differ in any respect from those of the same type which occur 'spontaneously' or 'naturally'. Hence is is impossible to tell whether, in any particular person, a cancer or a heritable defect was caused by



Heritable Effects

4.6.2 In the case of heritable effects, it has been possible through study of plants and animals, particularly the laboratory mouse, to gain detailed knowledge of the mechanism of radiation effects and their frequency of induction at doses which range

from high to very low.

4.6.3 As early as 1958, when the first comprehensive UNSCEAR report was published, it was generally accepted by scientists that

'...radiation can cause mutations, which are permanent, and for the most part deleterious, changes in the inherited characters.1 [UNSCEAR 1958, p. 303

Further, it was agreed at that time that there was no known threshold of radiation exposure below which genetic damage does not occur. The relationship between frequency of induced mutations and dose was fairly well established to be linear at moderate doses, but the data were increasingly meagre at lower doses, with no data being available below 25 rad. UNSCEAR

concluded that, until more information became available at low doses

1 ... it is prudent to assume at least as much hazard as is implied by a linear relationship between mutation and gonad dose.* [UNSCEAR 1958, p.31j

4.6.4 In addition to mutations affecting a single gene, it was shown in 1959 that there was another type of heritable effect in humans which was caused by an alteration in the structure or number of chromosomes on which the genes are carried (chromosomal aberrations). Down's Syndrome is probably the best known heritable effect due to chromosome aberration.

4.6.5 Since that time, a very large number of studies in

radiation genetics has been carried out, resulting in a large amount of data on the nature and frequency of heritable effects. These led to the conclusion that radiation may cause heritable effects in humans down to the lowest dose levels (i.e. with no

threshold), although at a very low frequency when compared with 'spontaneously' arising hereditary defects which affect, with different degrees of severity, approximately 10 per cent of all liveborn children.

4-6.6 Increased frequency of heritable effects at levels that are statistically significant have not been demonstrated in any irradiated human population, even the Japanese atomic bomb survivors (where the numbers are too small for definite conclusions to be drawn); consequently risk estimates for

radiation-induced heritable effects in man have to be inferred


from other evidence. Reviews of this evidence and the methods which have been used to derive numerical estimates of genetic risk in man are to be found in the UNSCEAR reports of 1972, 1977 and 1982.

4.6.7 The latest report of UNSCEAR [1982j gives a very

detailed review of genetic effects and, for the low dose/low dose rate/low-LET radiation of most concern in radiation protection, gives an estimate of about 2.2 abnormalities induced in the first generation of children of irradiated parents for every 1000 person-sieverts of collective dose to these parents. This number

is expected to increase slowly in subsequent generations to a total of 15 per 1000 person-sieverts [UNSCEAR 1982, p.543]. Only the radiation which is received by the gonads of the parents prior to the conception of their children is considered.

Carcinogenic Effects

4.6.8 It is now clear that the most important somatic effect of low doses is the potential induction of a cancer. What was previously regarded as possibly an 'ageing effect1 of radiation leading to shortening of life now appears to be wholly

explainable in terms of early death from cancers of a variety of types. The Japanese atomic bomb survivors, who have now been studied carefully for nearly 40 years, still show no excess mortality rate from conditions other than malignant disease.

4.6.9 There are now many epidemiological studies of

irradiated populations in which an increased incidence of cancer has been demonstrated. In his submission and evidence to the Royal Commission, Pochin described the various human populations which have been studied [RC 57 3]. The Japanese populations of

Hiroshima and Nagasaki comprise the most important group studied because of the large number of persons exposed to radiation, the length and closeness of their surveillance, the wide range of doses and the composition of the group which included people of

all ages and both sexes. Radford also gave evidence about this study.

4.6.10 Other study populations include patients treated with radiation for a variety of benign conditions, who were usually exposed to comparatively high doses (although lower than those used in treatment of cancer) and whose susceptibility to the effects of radiation might have been influenced by their underlying medical condition. There are also occupational groups

such as the women who painted luminous dials with paints containing radium and inadvertently ingested some of the radium, and miners in uranium and other hard rock mines who inhaled radon and its radioactive daughter products; both of these groups give

information on the effects of high-LET radiation, in these cases alpha particles.


4.6.11 These studies, and particularly the Japanese atomic bomb survivors study, have given valuable information on the frequency of all cancers induced and, in some cases, frequency of

different types of cancer for the particular type of radiation, dose rate and range of doses to which the studies apply.

Although the frequency for all cancers appears to follow a linear relationship with dose over a considerable range of dose, the studies have not provided data for the low dose region. Since no

additional cancers will be caused if there is zero dose (above the natural background levels) it is necessary to interpolate between zero and the data available for medium to high doses. The question of how this interpolation should be done, that is how the risks at low doses should be estimated, has been one of

the most hotly debated questions in the recent history of science.

4.6.12 The Royal Commission has received evidence on the low dose effects and risks from a number of witnesses, among them three medical scientists of world repute in this field: Dr Alice Stewart, Professor Edward Radford and Sir Edward Pochin. Each of these witnesses gave valuable insights into the 'low dose

debate' and made the Royal Commission aware of some of the enormous literature on this subject. The Commissioners are aware of the difficulties which expert committees have experienced in trying to elucidate this issue: Radford described the problems

in the BEIR Committee of which he was Chairman, which led to the BEIR III Report containing dissenting statements by some of its members, Radford among them [Trans., pp.4742, 4750; BEIR 1980].

4.6.13 As Radford and Pochin explained, the estimates of radiation doses for the Japanese atomic bomb survivors are at present being re-evaluated. This is a very large task and it is hoped that it will be completed in the next year or two. It is already apparent that there will be changes to the doses

tentatively estimated in 1965. These changes, in both gamma and neutron doses, are in a downward direction although by exactly how much is not yet known. Since the number of observed cancers will not change, the estimates of cancer risk will increase,

though once again, by how much is not known. The Japanese data are, of course, very important in estimating risks, although they are not the only data which have been used.

4.6.14 Radford's opinion is that the cancer risk estimates at low doses will probably rise by a factor of about 10 compared with those on which current radiation protection standards are based, although Radford speaks of cancer incidence rather than cancer mortality [Trans., p,4766J. Pochin expects a rise in estimates for some types of cancer by a factor of only about two, and possibly no increase for other cancers [Trans., p.9359J.

Dose-Effect Relationships

4.6.15 The debate about low dose effects has centred on the


shape of the line which is drawn between zero and the data points on the graph of frequency of induced cancer against dose. Radiation protection standards have been based on a straight line relationship because it is considered to be the most conservative

of the possible assumptions, i.e. if anything, it will

over-estimate the risk and therefore provide a margin of 'safety 1.

4.6.16 Both UNSCEAR and ICRP recognised, in 1977, that a linear relationship does not apply for all doses, dose rates, types of radiation and effects. For many effects studied experimentally, the response up to a few gray (a few hundred rad)

for low-LET radiation can be represented by a relationship of the form

E = aD + bD2

where E denotes the effect, D the dose, and a and b are

constants. This is called a linear-quadratio relationship, the linear term being aD and the quadratic term bD^.

4.6.17 The majority of the BEIR III Committee favoured the linear-quadratic relationship for low-LET radiation at low doses, although others strongly advocated either a linear relationship or a pure quadratic. For high-LET radiation at low doses, a

linear relationship seemed more likely. Figure 4.6.1 is a schematic diagram showing the different relationships which have been advocated.

4.6.18 The most recent analysis of data on induction of cancer by radiation presented to the Royal Commission was that of an ad hoc working group of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), which was set up to develop radioepidemiological tables. Its

report, dated 4 January 1985, was drawn to the Royal Commission's attention by Pochin, who attached extracts from it to his submission [RC 573]. Pochin referred to it familiarly as the 'Tables Report1 [NIH 1985].

4.6.19 This working group has studied the available data on cancers at various anatomical sites caused by radiation and has examined the effect on cancer risk estimates of factors such as age at exposure, sex, models for dose response and dose rate, modifying effects of exposure to other agents (e .g . smoking) and

extrapolation from one population to another. It has calculated risk coefficients per rad for low levels of low-LET radiation for cancers in a number of different sites (leukaemia, salivary gland, oesophagus, stomach, colon, liver, pancreas, lung, breast, urinary tract and thyroid) for each sex and for different age

ranges at exposure. For all sites except thyroid and breast, it considers that the data favour a linear-quadratic relationship, whereas for thyroid and breast, it favours a linear relationship. For cancers at other sites, the data are insufficient to allow

risk estimates to be made.


FIGURE 4.6.1

Dose-effect Relationships for Stochastic Effects

Dose (rad)

Source: Adapted from Edwards 1984, Figure 9



(a) Exposure to radiation at certain dose levels is

associated with increased risk of stochastic effects such as cancer and genetic or heritable effects.

(b) At low dose levels where there are no data on human

populations, it is assumed that exposure is associated with correspondingly low increased risk of stochastic effects.

(c ) The exact form of the dose-response relationship at low doses is uncertain. A linear relationship has been ·assumed in setting radiation protection standards because it is considered the most conservative of all the likely relationships, i.e. if anything, it will over-estimate the risk.

(d) Research has not indicated any increased risk of

mortality from conditions other than malignant disease in irradiated human populations.


(e) Increased frequency of genetic or heritable effects has not been demonstrated in any irradiated human population, although it is accepted that such effects do occur.

(£) Heritable effects and cancers caused by radiation are not distinguishable from those arising from other causes.

4.7 Non-stochastic Effects

4.7.1 Although most of the debate about radiation effects over the last decade or two has concentrated on the stochastic effects of radiation at low doses, especially the induction of cancers, the fact that sufficiently high doses of radiation cause certain non-stochastic effects must not be ignored. In his

statement, Pochin gave a useful summary of the non-stochastic effects of particular interest to the the Royal Commission [RC 573]. A recent ICRP publication has been devoted to this topic [ICRP 1984], and UNSCEAR reviewed the subject extensively

in its most recent major report [UNSCEAR 1982].

4.7.2 Non-stochastic effects include the types of effect which result from damage to a substantial proportion of the cells in a tissue, sufficient to impair the function of the tissue, in contrast to stochastic effects which are thought to result from

injury to only one or a small number of cells. Non-stochastic effects may be detected soon after the damage or after a long latent period depending on the effect. The threshold dose will depend on the sensitivity of methods for detecting the damage. A

typical dose-effect curve for non-stochastic effect is shown in Figure 4.7.1.

4.7.3 Because of variability in the sensitivities of

individuals to radiation, there will be differences in the dose at which a particular non-stochastic effect becomes manifest. The ICRP report uses the term ' threshold dose1 to denote the amount of radiation that is required to cause a particular effect

in at least one to five per cent of exposed individuals

[ICRP 1984, p.3]. Since most of the data on dose-effect

relationships for non-stochastic effects in man relate to experience in the treatment of patients with radiation, they cannot be used without modification in other circumstances such as occupational exposure. In most treatments, the dose is split

into a number of fractions given over a few weeks, whereas occupational exposure may occur over years or decades. Exposure to fallout may give continuous irradiation but at a rapidly decreasing dose rate. The time course of irradiation has a

significant effect on threshold doses.


FIGURE 4.7.1

Differences in Dose-effect Curves between

Stochastic and Non-Stochastic Effects

Stochastic Nonstochastic

> / o 100%

ω / s

/ §â–  50%


0% 1 1




1 I Variation in sensitivities 1 Among exposed individuals 1 1

.·§* \ J / / > > X ,// C Z > _,44 f Threshold of VfTpathological conditionDose

Upper Curve: whole population Lower Curve: (a) people with greatest susceptibility (b) people with average susceptibility (c) people with lower than average susceptibility

Source: ICRP 1984

4.7.4 Pochin quoted thresholds given in the ICRP publication for some non-stochastic effects when induced by a single brief exposure as follows:

Testes, temporary sterility 0.15 Sv (15 rem) permanent sterility 3.5 Sv (350 rem)

Ovaries, sterility 2.5 to (250 to

6.0 Sv 600 rem)

Lens, cataract 5.0 Sv (500 rem)

Bone marrow, depression of haematopoiesis 0.5 Sv (50 rem)

Fatal aplasia 1.5 Sv (150 rem)


He noted that the threshold for the lens is that for cataract causing any degree of visual impairment; opacities detectable by slit lamp examination but without effect on vision were estimated to occur above a threshold of between 0.5 and 2.0 Sv IRC 573, p.7j.

4.7.5 The tissues of most concern to the Royal Commission in relation to non-stochastic effects are the lens of the eye (with respect to cataract) and the gastrointestinal tract (especially with respect to vomiting).

The eye

4.7.6 The ICRP report says of the eye, quoting a paper by

Merriam and co-workers [Merriam et al. 1972],

'The lens of the eye is among the most radiosensitive tissues of the body. At high doses, lens opacities (or cataracts) develop within months, progress rapidly, and eventually cloud the lens completely, while at lower doses the opacities may take years to develop, remain microscopic in size, and cause no significant

impairment of vision.1 [ICRP 1984, p.17j

4.7.7 Cataracts have been reported in radiation workers (especially those exposed to neutrons, such as cyclotron physicists in the 1940s), in patients following radiotherapy, and in atomic bomb survivors. In the latter, the threshold of

low-LET radiation (for increasing the frequency of

cphthalmologically detectable opacities) was estimated to be approximately 0.6 to 1.5 Gy (60 to 150 rad) [Otake and Schull 1982].

4.7.8 The current limit set for occupational exposure of the eye is 0.15 Sv (150 mrem) per year, which, if received every year of a working lifetime, is considered very unlikely to produce a cataract [Trans. , p.9346].

4.7.9 Other parts of the eye are less radiosensitive than the lens. In particular, as Pochin pointed out [Trans., p.9472], the threshold for radiation damage (early oedema and keratitis) to the cornea is given in the ICRP report as 10 Gy (1000 rad) as a

single dose or 30 Gy (3000 rad) or more if protracted lICRP 1984, P-19].


4.7.10 With regard to the gastrointestinal tract, Pochin drew the Royal Commission's attention to a paper entitled 1 Dose-effect Relationships for Early Response to Total Body Irradiation1 by H Smith [RC 573, Smith 1983].


4.7.11 In quoting Smith's review of the available data, Pochin concluded that vomiting is unlikely to be caused by doses below a threshold of about 0.5 Sv (as the dose to the ' midline' of a

person from whole-body radiation received in a short time), but may result in half the people exposed to a dose of 1 to 1.5 Sv LRC 573, p.4].

4.7.12 Pochin gave his opinion that these values (for

threshold dose and dose causing vomiting in 50 per cent of people) are likely to be reliable, since a substantial number of patients have now been treated by whole-body irradiation and consequently there is a considerable amount of data available

[Trans., p .9341].

4.7.13 In his paper, Smith offers the view that vomiting after exposure to less than about 1 Gy (100 rad) which occurs within a few hours of the exposure is probably psychogenic in origin [RC 573, Smith 1983, p.2]. Pochin explained that this referred

to vomiting from anxiety, tension or stress, which he considered could occur at any dose level, even without any exposure to radiation [Trans., p.9480j. On further questioning by Mr Eames, he agreed that a reference in Smith's paper to vomiting not being observed in a group of seriously ill patients when the daily dose

was less than 0.2 Gy could be construed to imply that some vomiting was observed above this value, and therefore vomiting below the threshold dose of 0.5 Gy proposed by Smith could not be

excluded [Trans., p.9479J. However, the paper by Smith does not say whether any patient was observed to vomit after the first dose of 0.2 Gy or after more than one such dose.


4.7.14 The damaging effects of radiation on the skin have been apparent since 1896 and have been studied extensively. Depending on the conditions of exposure, the effects may include erythema (reddening), temporary or permanent epilation (loss of hair),

ulceration, thinning of the skin and permanent colour changes. Temporary loss of hair, a reversible change without serious consequence, has only been observed above a threshold dose of about 3-5 Gy (300-500 rad) while for erythema the threshold is about 6-8 Gy (600-800 rad), both doses being experienced in a

single brief exposure.

4.7.15 Since other damaging effects on the skin appear to require higher doses than these, non-stochastic effects on the skin are not of particular concern to the Royal Commission.

Reproductive organs

4.7.16 The germ cells of the testis and ovary are particularly radiosensitive. Single doses of 0.1-0.15 Gy (10-15 rem) to the testis have been recorded as causing temporary sterility.


4.7.17 The Royal Commission was given evidence that some participants in the Hurricane trial were warned of the

possibility of temporary sterility. Pochin's evidence was that such damage may be repaired by the body much more quickly than was thought in the 1950s [Trans., p.9353].

4.7.18 Permanent sterility requires much higher doses, of the order of 3-5 Gy (300-500 rad) or more [ICRP 1984, p.20].

4.7.19 UNSCEAR reports that Japanese fishermen, exposed to fallout after a nuclear weapon test in the Pacific, received doses of gamma radiation estimated at about 1.4-6 Gy

(140-600 rad) over 14 days, corresponding to about 0.7-3 Gy as a single dose. Their sperm counts were severely depressed, but began to rise by about two years after the exposure, and most of them fathered healthy children [UNSCEAR 1982, pp.597-8].

4.7.20 The adult ovary is more resistant to radiation than the testis; single doses of 1.7-6.4 Gy (170-640 rad) have been shown to cause temporary sterility. Doses above about 5.5 Gy (550 rad) almost always produce permanent sterility [UNSCEAR 1982, p. 597 J.

Blood and blood-forming organs

4.7.21 The blood and blood-forming organs are particularly sensitive to radiation; effects have been noted at doses well below 1 Gy (100 rad). The number of lymphocytes and other blood cells in the circulating blood drops after irradiation at

sufficiently high doses; however the blood-forming organs have a great capacity for regeneration and may show complete recovery unless the depression is severe.

4.7.22 The differential and total blood counts and in

particular, the lymphocyte count have been used as dose indicators in some circumstances. However, at tie levels of dose normally encountered in radiation work, it was realised as early as about 1952 that the response was too variable and too likely to be affected by other factors besides radiation to be used as a definitive indicator of dose (see para.4.2.13).

Immune system

4.7.23 It is known that irradiation can impair the immune response in man. This topic was reviewed in the UNSCEAR report of 1972. Pochin gave evidence to the Royal Commission that the UNSCEAR study appeared to indicate no clear evidence of

significant suppression of immunity until large doses of radiation were received [Trans., p.9414].


Modifying Factors

4.7.24 The ICRP report on non-stochastic effects lists a variety of factors which are known to modify the radiation response of cells and tissues. These include age at irradiation, oxygen tension, temperature, blood flow, genetic background, physiological condition, various chemicals, stress and trauma.

4.7.25 The UNSCEAR report of 1982 discussed a number of agents which have been suggested as possibly affecting the response of individuals to irradiation. It suggested that, while factors

such as oxygen, temperature and certain chemicals may be important for patients undergoing radiotherapy, it seems unlikely that the response of whole human populations to irradiation would be significantly affected by any of these modifying factors

[UNSCEAR 1982, p.576j. In particular, it points out that higher animals (which would include man) have highly developed systems of body temperature regulation which would be expected to prevent any significant modifying effect of extreme temperature

[UNSCEAR 1982, p.761j.

4.7.26 However, as Pochin agreed, the data in this field are very few so that definitive statements cannot be made.

4.7.27 Evidence was given to the Royal Commission by Pochin and others that there are people with very rare genetic

abnormalities such as AT (ataxia telangiectasia) who appear to be considerably more sensitive to radiation than other members of the population.

4.7.28 Pochin gave evidence that the frequency of AT (in the homozygous state) was about 1 in 10 000 people [Trans., p.9413j. Even if it were known at the time of the British atomic tests in Australia that such conditions did increase sensitivity to

radiation, in view of their rarity, the Royal Commission does not think it reasonable to suggest that people likely to be exposed to radiation should have been screened for these conditions.

4.7.29 One factor which is known to have an important effect on radiation response is age. Some tissues are much more sensitive when growing, e.g. bone, than in the mature state. As noted in para.4.3.12, the thyroid is thought to be more

radiosensitive in children than in adults. Also adults of different ages show different radiosensitivity in some circumstances. Epidemiological studies of some human populations have enabled cancer risks to be estimated for different ranges of age at irradiation. Of all the factors which may modify response

to radiation, age seems to be the one of most practical

importance at present, for radiation protection purposes.




(a) Non-stochastic effects of irradiation such as temporary or permanent sterility and cataract of the lens of the eye result from damage to a substantial number of cells. There are

threshold doses below which such effects have not been observed.

(b) Of several modifying factors known to be capable of

affecting radiation response, only age at irradiation appears at present to be of practical importance in radiation protection.

4.8 Criticism of the ICRP

4.8.1 The radiation protection standards recommended by expert committees such as the ICRP since 1954 were criticised in a submission to the Royal Commission by the Greenpeace

organisation entitled 1 The Controversy over Low Dose Exposure to Ionizing Radiation' [RC 471J. Its author, Patrick A Green, claimed that the ICRP and other such bodies are - perhaps subconsciously - biased in favour of industries in which people are exposed to radiation, because many members of the committees have current or previous affiliations with such industries. The

1 nuclear industry1 and medical radiology are given as examples of such affiliations. Employees of Government regulatory bodies are also implicated indirectly in this criticism.

4.8.2 The consequence of this bias, it was argued, is that recommended radiation dose limits are too high, that is they provide insufficient protection. In his evidence to the Royal Commission, Radford expressed a similar view in relation to the

ICRP, although he confined his criticism to the last 15 years, i.e. since about 1970 [Trans., p.4760J.

4.8.3 There will always be a potential for bias in the

members of a group such as ICRP, or indeed any committee

deliberating on any subject. The Royal Commission has received insufficient evidence on the subject to judge whether the ICRP's recommended radiation protection standards have been influenced in this way. They have, however, frequently been misinterpreted by many people, and this must reflect a certain lack of clarity

in their presentation (see para.4.2.82) .

4.8.4 Certainly, in the years immediately following World War II, much of the expertise in radiation protection resided within establishments concerned with atomic energy. Hence it was natural that scientists with such a background should be well

represented on national and international committees concerned with the subject.



4.8.5 Although the radiation protection recommendations issued by the ICRP since 1950 may sometimes lack clarity, the evidence does not enable the Royal Commission to conclude whether or not the standards set by the ICRP have been affected by the

involvement of some of its members in the nuclear industry.

4.9 Estimation of Doses and Risks to Health from the Tests

4.9.1 Dose-effect relationships such as those discussed in Section 4.6 can be used to derive estimates of the risk of stochastic effects for individuals whose dose is known, and the total number of stochastic effects which might be expected to occur in a population which has been exposed to radiation. In

the latter case, it is the collective dose to the whole

population which is important.

4.9.2 In the case of either individuals or populations, such estimates cannot be made with confidence unless the doses are known with reasonable accuracy. It is therefore important to examine what is known about doses to individuals and to the Australian population as a whole resulting from the tests.

Radiation Doses and Risks to Individual Participants in the Tests

4.9.3 In the evidence presented to the Royal Commission, data were provided on radiation exposures received by many individuals taking part in the major atomic tests from Hurricane in 1952 to Antler in 1957. These radiation dose data were acquired as a

result of investigations into records held in the United Kingdom and Australia. Information specific to each test series will be presented in later chapters of this report.

4.9.4 Individuals involved directly in all major atomic tests in areas where radioactive contamination and radiation could be experienced had dose levels recorded through the use of film badges and, in some cases, dosimeters. Those persons who were remote from areas of significant radiation would not have had doses recorded. There would have been others whose doses were shown as nil or less than some low figure such as 20 millirem. In these cases, it was stated that the dose levels received would

have been below the detection sensitivity of the film badges used.


4.9.5 Dose levels were not recorded for all participants. For example, Australian air and ground crews associated with the air sampling flights at Hurricane and Totem 1 did not carry film badges and there was no dosimeter in the aircraft involved. It

is not possible to conclude from the data collected that all individuals involved in radiation areas were listed nor that the dose records were complete or accurate. For instance, in estimating dosage, no regard was had for the possible inhalation,

ingestion or absorption through either intact or broken skin of radioactive material. Hence, recorded doses are an imperfect guide and likely to be underestimates of the doses actually received.

4.9.6 In some cases where it was known that individuals could have received some radiation exposure, for example in the case of Australian aircrews, and no film badges or dosimeters were carried, the Royal Commission was provided with evidence of the

likely levels of radiation exposure experienced. In the case of the aircrews involved in the Hurricane and Totem 1 air sampling operations, estimates were established from the dose rates measured from the radioactive samples collected on the filters on the aircraft. The dose estimates so obtained cannot be classed as totally accurate.

4.9.7 Thus it can be seen that the dose estimates for

individual participants in the tests are subject to varying degrees of uncertainty.

4.9.8 It has already been noted (see para. 4.6.1) that the stochastic effects such as cancer which are caused by radiation are not distinguishable from those which occur due to other (usually unknown) causes.

4.9.9 So it is reasonable to ask, when a cancer has occurred in a person previously exposed to radiation, is it possible to say anything about the likelihood of radiation being the cause?

4.9.10 For cancers at some anatomical sites, there is

sufficient epidemiological data to enable an estimate to be made of tne risk per unit dose, assuming a particular form of the dose-response relationship. For other cancers there is insufficient data available for risks to be estimated. These

risk estimates may vary with sex and age at irradiation for cancers at the same site. Such risk estimates have been used by some people, together with an estimate of the dose received, to assess the probability that a cancer in a particular person might have been caused by radiation.

4.9.11 This approach towards calculating an 'attributable risk1 or 'probability of causation1 was described to the Royal Commission by Dr J Mathews, an epidemiologist from the University of Melbourne [RC 129j. A similar approach is described in a

recent US document 'The Report of the National Institutes of Health ad hoc Working Group to Develop Radioepidemiological


Tables' [NIH 1985j, which was drawn to the Royal Commission's attention by Pochin. It uses risk factors derived from the BEIR III Report [BEIR 1980J.

4.9.12 The Royal Commission notes these developments but regards them as being in their infancy at the present time. It is aware that attempts have been made overseas to use the concept

of attributable risk or probability of causation when

individual's compensation claims are being determined.

4.9.13 For non-stochastic effects, a threshold dose must be exceeded before the particular effect is observed. These threshold doses are known with reasonable confidence for a

variety of non-stochastic effects. If an individual's dose is known with sufficient accuracy, inferences may be drawn on the likelihood of a particular effect being due to his radiation

exposure, due allowance being made for any possible modifying factors.

Radiation Doses and Risks to the Australian Public from the Tests

4.9.14 The general public in and about Australia and the External Territories was subject to radiation doses as a result of fallout from the atomic tests. Some data relating to the fallout from Hurricane and Totem tests could be extracted from

United Kingdom reports. However, for these tests there were no official Australian fallout measurements made. It was not until the establishment of the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee (AWTSC) that arrangements were made to collect fallout data, specifically for the Mosaic, Buffalo and Antler test series. A number of stations was set up (Chapter 7) for the purpose and the

fallout results were published by the AWTSC [RC 547J.

4.9.15 AIRAC used the available fallout data as a starting point for an estimate of collective dose to the Australian population (which it expressed as a mean dose for the whole population). These data are by no means sufficient for making

such an estimate; it is necessary to make many assumptions in arriving at an estimate. The assumptions and methods of calculation used by AIRAC are described in Chapters 12 and 19 of AIRAC 9 [AIRAC 1983j. AIRAC then used the risk factors suggested

by ICRP in 1977 (see para.4.5.13) to estimate that the maximum number of cases of cancer in the population which could be attributed to the tests was no more than one and may have been zero. For genetic effects the estimated number was smaller

LAIRAC 1983, para.19.2j.


4.9.16 Recently, Wise and Moroney of ARL have re-evaluated the fallout data and, using different assumptions and methods of calculation from AIRAC, have arrived at a somewhat larger estimate of collective dose to the Australian population

LRC 601J. Their calculations result in estimates of seven cancers and seven serious hereditary effects, although they point out that these estimates could be too high by a factor of 10 or

too low by a factor of two, when a combination of several sources of variability in the estimates is taken into account.

4.9.17 The Royal Commission believes that the data available for estimating the collective dose to the Australian population from the tests are insufficient to permit a useful estimate to be


4.9.18 When it is considered that the risk factors which are needed to estimate the number of stochastic effects expected in an exposed population are also subject to considerable uncertainty at the present time because of re-evaluation of the Japanese atomic bomb survivor data (see para.4.6.13), the Royal

Commission considers that no useful assessment of likely numbers of health effects in the Australian population, due to the tests, is possible.

4.9.19 However, the Royal Commission endorses the remark of Counsel representing the UK Government, Mr R Auld, QC, that 1 one death from cancer caused by the test is one too many1 (.Trans., pp.10278-9j. His remark was made in relation to the Hurricane

test but it applies with equal cogency to the entire British atomic test program in Australia.

4.9.20 At the time of the tests there was no general

acceptance that small doses received by the population at large might increase the risk of cancers in later years. A current evaluation of the likelihood of harmful effects of ionising radiation or contact with radioactive substances produced by the

tests must be based on the hypothesis that any dose of radiation, no matter how small, is likely to increase the risk of harmful stochastic effects.

4.9.21 The Royal Commission disagrees with the assertion made in the submission on behalf of the UK Government that 1 the weight of the evidence is that the low levels of ionizing radiation to which people may have been exposed as a result of the nuclear

tests or trials have not exposed them to any greater risk of harm than that to which the general population is subject1 [RC 865, p.12].




(a) By reason of the detonation of the major trials and the deposition of fallout across Australia, it is probable that cancers which would not otherwise have occurred have been caused in the Australian population.

(b) Their exposure to radiation as participants in the

trial program has increased the risk of cancer among 1 nuclear veterans 1.

(c) For the reasons stated above, the Royal Commission has been unable to quantify the probable increase in the risk of cancer among the participants in the trial program or among the Australian population in general.




5.0 Introduction

5.0. 1 Faced with uncertain prospects for the use of test

sites in the USA to test their prototype atomic device, British authorities studied possible sites in British Commonwealth countries. One potential site was considered to be the Monte Bello Islands, a low-lying, barren, uninhabited group of islands about 120 km off the north-western coast of Australia.

5.0. 2 The choice of a site was made on the basis that the

United Kingdom had many ports used by international shipping. The view was taken that there should be an assessment of the effects of an atomic explosion in a port or harbour, produced by the firing of a device mounted below the waterline in the hold of

a ship.

5.0. 3 In September 1950, the British Prime Minister, Attlee, sought approval from the Australian Prime Minister, Menzies, to carry out a survey of the Islands, under the code-name Epicure. Menzies agreed to the reconnaissance. A photographic survey of

the Islands was made by the Royal Australian Air Force in October 1950. Significant Australian assistance was given to the British reconnaissance team through the provision of HMAS Karangi in November 1950.

5.0. 4 The report on Epicure submitted to British authorities in January 1951 concluded that the Monte Bello Islands was a suitable site for an atomic test, but for climatic reasons, in particular because of the prevailing winds, such a test could

only be conducted in the month of October. Attlee informed Menzies in March 1951 that suitable sites existed in the Monte Bello Islands. In seeking the formal agreement of the Australian Government to an atomic weapon test in the Monte Bello Islands in

October 1952, he said that if agreement were given, preparations would begin forthwith.

5.0. 5 There was a delay in giving final Australian approval since elections were to be held in May 1951 but authorisation was given nevertheless to a detailed hydrographic survey. The Menzies Government was returned on 11 May 1951. The survey was performed in July and August 1951 using HMAS Warrego. The

operation was code-named Hurricane.


FIGURE 5.0.1

The Monte Bello Islands, Site of the Hurricane and Mosaic Tests

5 0 Gladstone


Main Beach)

£2 HMSPLYM ♦ \

Cocoa Beach Alpha Island]

Karangi Island

Daisy Island South Delta

Parting Pooh



Nautical Miles

Source: Adapted from Symonds 1985


5.0. 6 By the end of 1951, organisational support was already well under way. In Britain, the Hurricane Executive (HUKEX) had been . appointed to oversee the planning and conduct of the operation. Chaired by the UK Deputy Chief of Naval Staff and

consisting of senior service and government departmental officials, its task was to co-ordinate action to the requirements of the UK Ministry of Supply, the Operation's controlling department.

5.0. 7 An Australian counterpart, the hurricane Panel was established in that same year. It was chaired by the Australian Deputy Chief of Naval Staff, Captain A W k McNicoll, and

included Army, Navy, Air Force, Department of Defence and Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (AS10) representatives. The British and Australian activities were coordinated through service and government representatives in the

UK and Australia, most notably through the UK Services Liaison Staff (UKSLS) and UK Ministry of Supply Staff in Australia (UKMOSS LAJ) .

5.0. 8 Rear Admiral Torlesse, as Naval Commander, was given responsibility for the planning and execution of the operation, in accordance with the policy of, and under the direction of, the

Hurricane Executive. Command of the ships and personnel of the Task Force was vested in the Naval Commander.

5.0. 9 Scientific direction of the trial was the

responsibility of Dr William Penney, Director of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE), Aldermaston. Scientific staff of the AWRE and the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) at Harwell were charged with the technical conduct of the


5.0. 10 On radiological health, Penney was provided with advice by the Medical Research Council through its Panel on Atomic Biological Effects (ΡΑΒΕ). Within his own organisation, Penney was advised by D E Barnes (formerly of the Directorate of

Radiological Research) and Major A E Walkling, both of whom were on the HER and then AWRE staff. Radiological safety regulations were drawn up by Barnes and Walkling based on ΡΑΒΕ advice and recommendations of the 1CRP.

5.0. 11 Operation Hurricane was conducted as a military

operation. A special Royal Naval Task Force under the command of Rear Admiral Torlesse was assembled, and the Task Force flagship, HMS Campania, led HM Ships Zeebrugge, Narvik, Tracker and Plym to

Australia. Radiological safety equipment and decontamination facilities were embarked on HMS Tracker, designated Health Control Ship for the operation.

5.0. 12 By agreement, Australian support was not to extend to any area requiring knowledge of weapon design or function (see Ch.12). However, the Australian contribution to the operation was significant. The RAAF provided seven Lincoln aircraft


(82(B) Wing) at Broome for air sampling tasks, two Dakota aircraft at Onslow for aerial radiation surveys (86(T) Wing), one Dakota at Pearce for courier duties, and five Lincoln aircraft at Townsville for air sampling tasks. The RAAF also provided No. 5 Airfield Construction Squadron for construction work on Trimouille Island, established a temporary RAAF station at Broome, WA, to service RAAF No. 86 (T) and No. 82(B) Wings, and carried out general supply and communications duties.

5.0. 13 The RAN supported the RN Task Force with ships and

services and, after the explosion, provided HMAS Hawkesbury for patrol and security duty. The Australian Army built camps at Broome and at Onslow, the staging point for stores and equipment destined for the Task Force, and provided transport and

construction elements.

5.0. 14 Following a UK request for Professor E W Titterton (Head, School of Nuclear Physics, ANU) to be released to provide assistance at Operation Hurricane, Menzies sought and obtained the agreement of the Vice Chancellor of the ANU. Titterton had been a member of AERE staff at Harwell and worked on telemetry measurements at Hurricane at the personal invitation of Penney.

5.0. 15 Brigadier Wardell (Director of Civil Defence) and Squadron Leader Thomas (Scientific Adviser to the Chief of Air Staff) were assigned to the Hurricane team in response to a request from the UK authorities for two 1 junior Australian technicians'. In addition, Australian meteorologists H R Phillpot and Η T Ashton, of the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology, were attached to the Meteorology Group on board HMS Campania.

5.0. 16 An Australian request for representation at the test was settled, after some reluctance on the part of the British authorities to allow any Australian presence, when

Professor L H Martin (Defence Scientific Adviser) and

Mr W A S Butement (Chief Scientist, Department of Supply) attended as observers.

5.0. 17 It is likely that Titterton was given significantly more information on the weapon than were the Australian scientists, Martin and Butement, who attended only as observers of the effects of the explosion. Certainly Martin and Butement were not in possession of sufficient information to judge whether the firing would cause danger to Australian life or property.

5.0. 18 The Hurricane device was exploded at 0800 hours WAST on 3 October 1952. It had a yield of approximately 25 kt and was exploded eight and a half feet below the waterline in the ageing Royal Navy frigate HMS Plym.

5.0. 19 After the explosion, re-entry teams, including

Brigadier Wardell and Squadron Leader Thomas, carried out survey and measurement tasks on the Islands, returning to the Health Control Ship, HMS Tracker, for decontamination and debriefing.


5.0. 20 The collection of air samples after the explosion was an RAAF responsibility carried out on behalf of AERE. The air sampling scientific program leader for Operation Hurricane was H J Gale of the AERE, who was stationed at Broome. Officer commanding the Lincolns at Broome was Group Captain Hartnell, RAAF. The crew did not wear film badges or dosimeters to monitor radiation dosage and no equipment was carried in the aircraft to

indicate when the aircraft had located and was in the cloud·

5.0. 21 These omissions were the result of a statement, issued by the Hurricane Executive to the Australian authorities, that the radioactive hazard to aircrews in flying through the

radioactive cloud was negligible and that there was no fear of the aircraft becoming contaminated. This statement was an incomplete rendition of conclusions made by Dr W G Marley, Head, Health Physics Division, AERE Harwell (see para.5.5.34).

5.0. 22 As a result, RAAF air and ground crews were not

included in the operational orders which required that radiological safety regulations set down for Hurricane be observed. Some contamination of aircraft and crew based at Broome did occur although probably well within the limits set down in the regulations.

5.0. 23 Air sampling by the RAAE1 aircraft stationed at Broome commenced the day after the explosion, and further long-distance sampling took place from Townsville.

5.0. 24 Penney left for the UK on 9 October, and HMS Campania and the RN Task Force departed from the Monte Bellos on

31 October 1952. HMAS Hawkesbury remained to provide security patrols and support for the Australian Joint Services Training Unit (JSTU). The JSTU undertook security duties and training in radiological defence and health measures in contaminated areas of

the Islands. Lieutenant A A Andrews, RAN, commanded the unit of 14 officers and men. Stores and equipment for the unit were supplied by the UK; radiological safety was supervised and dosage records compiled by Thomas.

5.0. 25 With the successful detonation of a fission weapon at the Monte Bellos, the UK joined the United States and the USSR to become the world's third nuclear power. Planning was already under way for further tests.

5.1 The Choice of the Monte Bello Islands

5.1.1 The United Kingdom's requirement was for a site which would be located either on a remote island or in a desert area similar to the Nevada test range in the United States. Several locations within the Commonwealth were examined and the Monte

BelLo Islands appear to have been selected as tne most suitable site for the tests:


'Though there will undoubtedly be many difficulties to overcome, I am of opinion that from the administrative aspect, the site would prove suitable for the trial.' LRC 558, p .88J

That conclusion was made after an assessment of the Islands by Air Vice Marshal E D Davis in a report dated 3 January 1951; notwithstanding this, the author found several matters that lessened the case for using the Monte Bellos as a site for the

tests. Among these matters were the lack of fresh water, the severe living conditions in islands which he described as 1 inhospitable1, the lack of suitable harbour and air field facilities, and the extreme remoteness of the location of the Monte Bello Islands.

5.1.2 Once it had been established that the American

facilities were not to be available under conditions suitable to the British authorities, Attlee sought to procure the use of the Monte Bello Islands from the Australian Government;

11. Our experts have now examined the results of the reconnaissance of the Monte Bello Islands which was made last year with the help of the Australian

authorities. Their conclusions are:

(a) that it would be possible to conduct an atomic weapons trial there, but

(b) that for climatic reasons this can only be done in the month of October...

'3. My colleagues and X have decided that to wait any longer for the Americans would mean subjecting our plans to an intolerable delay. If therefore your Government would agree, we would like to go ahead now with preparations for a test at the Monte Bello Islands

in October 1952, which is the earliest date by which a prototype of our weapon will be ready... 1 LAttlee to Menzies, 26 March 1951, RC 800, pp.510008-9J

5.1.3 There appears to have been insufficient emphasis placed on the meteorological aspects of the tests conducted at the Monte Bello Islands (as is elaborated in Ch.7), and therefore on the potential fallout on the mainland. The records of the time not only indicate that the climatic restrictions were a constraint on when the tests could be held, but also indicated that the planners of the test were aware that fallout would travel in an

easterly direction and that it could be monitored not only over the Australian mainland but also further to the east in Fiji and possibly New Zealand LRC 308J.



5.1.4 The Monte Bello Islands were not an appropriate place for atomic tests owing to the prevailing weather patterns and the limited opportunities for safe firing.

5.2 Criteria for Safe Firing

5.2.1 The problem of radiation hazard to the civilian

population on the Australian mainland resulting from the test on the Monte Bello Islands was raised in the UK at a meeting on 30 July 1951 and staff of the HER Laboratory at Fort Halstead

agreed to investigate the problem LRC 558, p.131j.

5.2.2 The prevailing wind conditions at the Monte Bellos were such that October was the only month for which there was a reasonable chance of winds that did not blow towards the mainland LAttlee to Menzies, 26 March 1951, RC 800, p.510009j.

5.2.3 As a result of the meeting on 30 July 1951, a report

was produced which concluded that if the wind came from

directions between west and north-east (through north), the contamination on the mainland could exceed the levels laid down by the Medical Research Council for civilian populations LRC 558,


5.2.4 The contamination of the mainland was one of the

matters of concern to Australia. Menzies, on 24 January 1952 LRC 559, Bundle B, p.lOJ, raised the problem with the UK High Commissioner in the following terms:

1 There is a special consideration which applies to Australia only, namely possible after-effects of this project on the Australian mainland and its inhabitants. The only persons in a position to make an authoritative

statement in this regard are United Kingdom scientists who know the precise nature of the experiment and who are now in possession of the necessary meteorological

data to estimate its after-effects. From the point of view of the Australian announcement, some categorical and authoritative statement will be necessary that the effects will be innocuous.'

5.2.5 On 29 January 1952 LRC 559, Bundle B, p · 13 j, the UK

High Commissioner replied stating that it was hoped to provide very shortly a full memorandum on the subject of after-effects. Meanwhile he stated that


'...the UK scientists concerned gave a categorical assurance that the explosion will take place only when these conditions are such that there will be no danger from radioactivity to the health of people or animals on the mainland.1

5.2.6 This assurance appears to be based on a report entitled 1 Fallout of Contamination from the Monte Bello Explosion: Criteria for Firing1 [RC 256j. The report is not dated so it is not clear whether it predates or post-dates the statement by the UK high Commissioner to Menzies. it does not seem that the

report was given to Australia at that time so it was not possible for the estimates of the health effects to be checked by

Australians. A letter from the Commonwealth Relations■Office in London to the UK High Commission in Canberra on 5 March 1952 LRC 559, Bundle B, p . 50] expressed the hope that there would be no further pressure from the Australian side for more details or for information about the grounds on which the assurance about health effects was given. This letter makes it clear that there

was no way that the UK would make the data available because, as the letter suggests, it might lead to an embarrassing situation, e.g. the Australians might disagree with the assessment, or might insist on being allowed closer to the test to ensure that the

necessary precautions were taken.

5.2.7 The report on the fallout of contamination LRC 256, p.Jj proposed two conditions which must be satisfied to ensure that the levels of contamination of the mainland were acceptable:

(i) Any particle of size greater than 75 micrometres in diameter (density 2.25), released at any height up to 30 000 feet over the Islands at the time of the

explosion, would fall into the sea not nearer than five miles from the coast of the mainland.

(ii) No air up to 5000 feet over the Islands at the time of the explosion would be carried over the

Mainland within ten hours.

Provided these two conditions were met, the report concluded that the radioactivity falling on the mainland would be spread so thinly that there was 1 categorically no possibility of the health of any person or animal being affected1.

5.2.8 The report lRC 256j also imposed a third condition to protect the ships and personnel of the expedition:

‘ (i i i) No particles, of any size, released from any height up to 30 000 feet over the Islands at the time of the explosion, must fall either

(a) on the ships of the expedition within ten hours; or

(b) on Main Base (H.l) within two hours. 1


5.2.9 Mr Phillpot, in his statement to the Royal Commission [RC 555, p-5], said that the Australian meteorologists had difficulty interpreting these conditions in terms of the meteorological forecasts. They sought more easily usable conditions and were given the following:

'(1) (i) Winds from direction 090 [deg.J to 300 Ldeg.J through north to be excluded.

(ii) 'Winds from direction 300 [deg. J to 270 Ldeg.J not to exceed 10 knots.

(iii) Winds from direction 270 [deg.j to 260 [deg.J not to exceed 15 knots.

(iv) Winds from direction 260 [deg.J to 250 Ldeg.J not to exceed 25 knots.

(v) Winds from direction 250 [deg.J to 090 [deg.J through south, no limit imposed.

'(2) Each of these limits was to be imposed separately on:

(a) surface wind;

(b) mean wind from surface to 5000 feet;

(c) mean wind from surface to 30 000 feet.'

Satisfactory conditions were to be such that all three of (a), (b) and (c) conformed to all of the limits defined in

sub-paragraph (1).

5.2.10 It can be seen from Figure 5.2.1 that these conditions would allow particles from the explosion to reach the mainland in less than five hours for some wind directions. Hence there is a weakening of the criteria for firing between the discussion in

the report and the conditions apparently supplied to the meteorologists. The report by the Naval Commander, Operation Hurricane [RC 231, p. 14 J, gave the following conditions for the trial and the meteorological interpretation of these conditions: 1

1 The conditions prescribed for the firing of the weapon were rigorous. No radio-active "fall-out" was to affect the Australian mainland except at such a distance from the explosion that it could be regarded as innocuous. In order to safeguard the withdrawal of

the scientists who remained ashore to fire the weapon, and also to ensure the safety of the ships of the

Force, no fall-out or surface drift of contamination could be accepted within a wide sector south of ground


zero. The state of sea locally had to be such as to permit the safe employment of boats and landing craft on the day preceding the trial as well as on the day itself.


'4. The above conditions had to be interpreted in terms of meteorological conditions, and after discussion the following directive was issued: -(a) The mean wind from the surface up to all

levels must not have a direction lying within the sector 300 deg. to 060 deg. through north.

(b) The mean wind direction must be south of 260 deg. (i) for the layer from the surface to 5,000 ft.

(ii) for the layers above 25,000 ft.

(c ) A direction of mean wind north of 260 deg. can be accepted for any layer between 5,000 ft. and 25,000 ft. provided

(i) the conditions in (a) are not violated, (ii) the layer in question is not more than 5,000 ft - thick.

(d) The state of sea must allow the operation of boats and landing craft.

'5. A forecast of these conditions was required by 0630 on this morning of D-l Day. This implied that conditions in paragraphs 4 (a) and (c) had to hold for about twelve hours commencing twenty-seven hours after the issue of the forecast, and condition (d) for the . period of thirty-six hours from the forecast. It is

doubtful if a forecast of such a complex type has ever before been required.'

5.2.11 The first condition (a) on the mean wind was to protect the task force and the personnel on the islands. Conditions (b) and (c) limited the level of fallout on the mainland. Wind from the south of 260 degrees would pass to seaward of Port Hedland and would only cross the coast at distances beyond 300 nautical miles. However, condition (c) allowed firing if there was a limited layer of air between 5000 and 25 000 feet blowing more towards the coast. When these conditions were set, the height of the cloud from the explosion was expected to be between 25 000 and 30 000 feet.



FIGURE 5.2.1

Restrictions on Windspeed and Direction for the Hurricane Test 111 °E 115°E 120°E 125°E 130°E




• n o o n k a n b a h



15 knots




111 °E

The shaded area shows the area traversed by the wind in 10 hours. Wind speeds are in knots.

Source: Derived from Phillpot1s statement [RC 555]

Estimated Doses from Fallout

5.2.12 The estimates of dose from fallout presented in the report on fallout contamination [RC 256, TS75/20] suggested that beta radiation would be the limiting factor. A level of ‘no risk' was defined as that fallout which would give a dose of

6 rep of beta radiation and which was considered to cause 'absolutely no risk of any kind1 . The level of 6 rep represented a month's dose at 1.5 rep/week, which was the accepted dose rate at that time for radiation workers throughout their working life

[_RC 256, p. 26 j. The accompanying gamma radiation for the 'no risk' level would be about 0.3 r.

5.2.13 A level of ' slight risk' was also defined as being 50 rep of beta radiation and 2.5 r of gamma radiation. At this dose, it was asserted that ' there is a risk of some temporary sickness in a small proportion of persons exposed - but no

lasting damage'.

5.2.14 The levels of contamination corresponding to the 'no risk' and ' slight risk' doses were estimated to be 6 mCi/m2 an(^ 40 mCi/m2 j_RC 256, p. 36 j . It was also concluded that ' any significant increase in the figure of 40 mCi/m must be assumed to involve a risk of lasting or at least unpleasant injury and cannot be regarded as satisfactory' [RC 256, p .36j.

5.2.15 The winds were measured four times a day from the time the task force arrived at the Monte Bello islands. During the final preparatory period daily forecasts were made of the relevant and upper mean winds for thirty-six hours ahead L RC 2 31 J .

5.2.16 Two meteorologists from the Australian Meteorological Bureau, Η T Ashton and H R Phillpot, were attached to the

meteorological group on HMS Campania for the period of the trial- The other members of the group were Commander F L Westwater, RN, and Lieutenant Chippendale, RN [RC 555j. A special wind-finding station was set up at Roy Hill Cattle Station about 300 miles

south of Port Hedland, and HMAS Culgoa was stationed as a weathership about 300 miles south-west of Monte Bello |_RC 231 J.

5.2.17 Standby commenced on 1 October 1952 but the mean wind from 25 000 feet down to the surface violated the safety

condition. On 2 October, the forecast was favourable and D-i day was announced. A wind-finding check at 0130 hours WAST showed that the safety conditions were 'just satisfied'. A report received from the shore wind finding team at 0700 hours WAST was

'highly disturbing' and instructions to repeat the ascent were given. This was done and it showed that all was well |_RC 231 J.

5.2.18 The weapon was fired at 0800 hours WAST and had a yield of about 25 kt.


Observed Cloud

5.2.19 The cloud rose to about 1800 feet after one second and most of the cloud reached a maximum of 10 000 feet after about four minutes where its ascent was substantially stopped by a

temperature inversion. A small portion of the cloud continued to rise to 11 600 feet LRC 438, Tl/54, p .7]. Local fallout began at one minute after firing with most of it falling as contaminated rain as well as solid particles from the crater and parts of HMS Plym. Most of this close-in fallout fell to the north and west of Ground Zero.

5.2.20 The wind speed and direction were measured by a balloon ascent one hour after the blast. At ground level, the wind was from the south (175 degrees) with a speed of 17 knots. With increasing height to 6000 feet the direction of the wind swung around so that it was coming from the east (10 knots from

74 degrees). There was a strong shear at about 7000 feet, and the wind above 7000 feet was blowing to the north-east (7 knots from 196 degrees at 8000 feet, 13 knots from 210 degrees at 10 000 feet, and 13 knots at 236 degrees at 12 000 feet [RC 438, T1/54J. This wind profile satisfied the condition discussed

earlier for Hurricane.

5.2.21 The cloud did not rise as high as had been expected; all preparations had been made for a cloud height of

20 000-25 000 feet [RC 78, File 89/25/AIR, p. 9j . Hence it was necessary to dispatch aircraft four hours after the burst to measure the winds at 10 000 to 12 000 feet at locations east of

the Monte Bello Islands. The wind at Broome was found to have a strong wind shear between 10 000 and 12 000 feet. At 12 000 feet, the winds were 17 knots from 270 degrees (i.e. towards the east) but at 10 000 feet they were eight knots from 190 degrees

(i.e. towards the north). There was clearly a difference between the winds measured at the Monte Bello Islands and those at Broome.

5.2.22 Although they were to be involved in cloud sampling and flew through the cloud, the Lincolns from Broome had no equipment to show when they were in the cloud so it is not clear which part of the cloud they flew through [RC 78; RC 308, T88/54J. In RC 78 it was deduced from the winds found by the aircraft that most of the cloud was moving west when first intercepted.

5.3 Fallout Monitoring

5.3.1 The close-in fallout from the Hurricane explosion measured by survey teams showed that most of the material was deposited to the west and north-west of Ground Zero. The south-east end of Trimouille Island received no contamination

[RC 438, Tla/54]. An aerial survey was carried out from Onslow


to Broome, the portion of the Australian coast most likely to become contaminated after the Hurricane explosion [RC 30b, T113/54]. A series of G-M tubes to detect radiation was mounted in two Dakota aircraft. The survey was carried out by flying the aircraft at a height of 500 feet and recording the count rate

from the detectors.

5.3.2 A pre-explosion survey was flown to determine the level of cosmic rays and natural terrestrial radiation. The

post-explosion flights from Onslow to Broome by the two Dakota aircraft were flown at about H+24 hours. The detectors showed an overall increase in count rate which was present both on the ground and during the whole flight. There were no localised

increases such as might be expected if there were areas of fallout along sections of the coastline. The overall increase was attributed to a uniform increase in atmospheric activity [RC 306, T113/54j. However, there could be other instrumental

reasons for the overall increase. The survey team decided that the aerial survey had detected no deposited activity, so no ground check for fallout was ordered.

5.3.3 On instructions from the Operational Commander, the return flights by the Dakotas were flown at 8000 and 10 000 feet from Broome to Onslow to check for atmospheric radioactivity. The flight at 10 000 feet found a reading of about 50 times background over a distance of about 100 km. This was taken to

indicate that the aircraft had flown through part of the cloud. No activity was detected by the flight at 8000 feet.

5.3.4 Peirson, who was responsible for the Dakota survey, did not expect that there would be any fallout on the mainland resulting from the test [Trans., p.5590]. Even following the observation of radioactivity at 10 000 feet along the coastline, he did not accept that this meant that fallout would occur on the mainland [Trans., p.5577j.

5.3.5 Seven Lincoln aircraft were stationed at Broome to collect samples of the airborne activity. Five aircraft were dispatched at H+16.5 hours to search a large area of the ocean about 150 nautical miles north-east of the Monte Bello Islands. The aircraft did not have on-board monitoring equipment, so although all aircraft returned with activity on the wing filters,

it is not known where they located the cloud. A further two flights from Broome at H+44 and H+45 hours covered the area of the Indian Ocean to a distance of 1300 nautical miles to the west-north-west of Broome. The flights which were mainly at an altitude of 2000 feet also collected radioactivity, but the amount of activity was a factor of 70 less than that of the earlier flights. A final sampling flight left Broome at H+70 hours and sampled at 9000 feet over a region which included the Monte Bello islands and the area within 200 nautical miles to the north-east. The amount of activity collected was a factor of 2000 less than the sampling at H+16.5 hours [RC 308, T88/54J.


5-3.6 Five Lincolns at Townsville were also fitted with filters to collect samples of airborne activity. Six flights were flown. The first two at H+44 hours did not detect any activity. Three flights between H+60 and H+85 hours collected

significant radioactivity; an examination of their flight paths suggest that it was collected on the section between Townsville and Rockhampton. A further flight between Townsville and Cairns detected no radioactivity [RC 308, T88/54J.

5.3.7 Aircraft of the Royal New Zealand Air Force were also dispatched from Whenuapai, near Auckland, to collect samples at a distance of 3500 miles from Ground Zero. The flight plans were

to the north and south of Auckland with an aircraft travelling to Suva, Fiji, and back. Three of the four aircraft collected significant radioactivity.

5.3.8 The success of the aircraft in collecting samples was a surprise because it had been expected that the low height of the cloud, only 11 600 feet, would have made the search from

Townsville and New Zealand impracticable |_RC 308, T88/54J.

5.3.9 The only attempt to measure fallout from Hurricane was by the collection and analysis of water from roofs at a few locations. A roof about 500 miles from Ground Zero, probably at

Broome, was treated with special paint and all runoff water was filtered to collect suspended particles. The filters were analysed to determine the activity. tiimilar filters were installed in Rockhampton, Cairns, Brisbane and Suva. No results were given for Broome, but activity in the filter from

Rockhampton was about 200 times background and that from Brisbane about 10 times background. No activity was found in the filters from Cairns and Suva £RC 308, T88/54J.

5.3.10 Clearly, Hurricane caused some contamination of the mainland. The low height of the cloud meant that the radioactive particles would have been washed out by any rain which occurred as part of the cloud travelled across Australia.

5.3.11 The cloud from a shallow water burst, such as

Hurricane, consists mainly of sea salts and water drops. When dry these particles are generally smaller than the particles in the cloud formed by a land burst [Glasstone and Dolan 197 7, para.9.53]. The smallness of the particles would mean that the

fallout would extend to great distances and could explain the detection of fallout at Rockhampton. Furthermore, the hygroscopic (water absorption) characteristics of the sea salts would facilitate the rainout of the radioactive particles.



5.3.12 There was fallout on the mainland following hurricane, although most of the activity fell in the sea to the north and west, as was intended. The fallout probably did not begin

falling on the mainland until 30 hours after the burst. Hence it is unlikely that the fallout exceeded the no-risk level proposed in the report prepared prior to the test.

5.4 Safety of Aborigines

5.4.1 Scant attention was paid to the location of Aborigines during the Hurricane test. The Royal Commission found no evidence to indicate that any consideration was taken of their distinctive lifestyles which could lead to their being placed at

increased risk from given levels of radiation.

5.4.2 For their part, the British authorities appear to have relied on the document 1 Some Motes on North-west Australia1 prepared by E R Woodcock, an HER scientist [RC 256, Appendix B, p.134J. This considered ‘ the area to the south, south-east and

east and within 150 miles of the Monte Bello Islands', reported a population of 715 people, 'excluding full-blooded Aboriginals, for whom no statistics are available1 Libid., p.l], and gave a detailed enumeration of hens, ducks, cattle, horses and sheep. Given the paucity of source materials relied upon for the preparation of, the document, it is not surprising that it is

skeletal in general and specifically excludes Aboriginal people. The sources listed were:

(a) Australian Aeronautical Map, sheet F.3.

(b) Statistical Register of Western Australia 1947-48, Part V and Part XI.

(c) Pocket Year Book of Western Australia, 1950.

(d) Population of Onslow; provided by Rear Admiral Torlesse.

(e ) Encyclopaedia Britannica.

5.4.3 However, although Aboriginal people were excluded from the Commonwealth Census until after 1967, demographic information was available to those wishing to obtain it.


TABLE 5.4.1

Aboriginal Populations: Regions

(as at 30 June 1952)

Adult Adult

Region Males Females Children Total

Gascoyne 303 243 339 885

Pilbara 859 741 204 1804

Murchison 675 535 639 1849

TOTAL 4538

Source: RC 483

TABLE 5.4.2

Aboriginal Populations: Major Towns

(as at 30 June 1952)


Adult Males

Adult Females Children Total

Halls Creek 275 198 90 563

Broome 222 222 171 615

Port Hedland. 163 115 120 398

Marble Bar 510 470 280 1260

Roebourne 104 81 113 298

Onslow 87 78 50 215

Nullagine 66 48 7 121

Mt Magnet 89 67 84 240

Sandstone 7 6 2 15

Wiluna 200 150 90 440

Yalgoo 81 66 56 203

Carnarvon 125 109 146 380

Gascoyne Junction 70 45 50 165

Source: RC 483


TABLE 5.4.3

Aboriginal Populations: Missions

(as at 30 June 1952)


Adult Males

Adult Females Children Total

Balgo 24 26 40 50*

La Grange 23 27 32 82*

Jigalong 16 27 44 87*

Carnarvon 2 1 93 96

Source: RC 483

NOTE: Missions marked with an asterisk are considered to have unreliable population statistics. Populations at these locations would fluctuate greatly, so the figures shown probably represent the permanent residents only.

5.4.4 The submission of C Thackrah [RC 483] and Thackrah's oral evidence [Trans., pp.7335-56] show that records were kept by the Western Australian Native Welfare Department and were available in files and annual reports. Using this information Thackrah, an anthropologist, was in four hours able to provide

the Commission with the following information:

(a) Population breakdown for the years 1952 and 1956 within the area roughly bounded by Carnarvon, Onslow, Balgo and Wiluna.

(b) Location of Aboriginal people, including specific numbers.

(c) information about living conditions.

5.4.5 Although there is an element of estimation in

Thackrah1s population counts resulting from the fact that records were kept of Aborigines residing only at missions, on stations or in towns, his evidence showed that 4538 Aboriginal people lived in such places in the Gascoyne, Pilbara and Murchison regions.

The relevant figures and details from Thackrah's submission are shown in Tables 5.4.1, 5.4.2 and 5.4.3.

5.4.6 There were wide variations in the living conditions of Aborigines. Those living 1 beyond the fringes of civilization1 [Trans., p.7337] lived almost constantly out of doors and were


near naked. Town-dwellers may have worn clothes but did not wear shoes. For all Aborigines, part of each day was spent in the open and, for some, shelter was sought only when rains fell. For many, especially those travelling and those living in the

(well-documented) appalling conditions on town reserves, cooking, drinking and sleeping facilities were all exposed to the open air .

5.4.7 For later tests, especially those at Maralinga, the Aborigines' lack of clothing, footwear and shelter were considered. Nobody appears to have been concerned by these features at Hurricane.

5.4.8 Titterton claimed in his evidence that Prime Minister Menzies charged him with the particular responsibility of Aboriginal welfare:

'I had known formally, the brief given to me by the Prime Minister was: in view of your experience, which is unique in Australia, of three nuclear weapons tests around the world, I would be glad if you would be

prepared to go to the Monte Bellos to lend whatever help you can to Dr Penney1s team - as he was then - and at the same time to - well, essentially stick your oar in to make as certain as it is humanly possible to be

certain that there will be no adverse effects on the Australian people, flora and fauna, and in particular the Aborigines. From the first five minutes I was involved a major concern of the Australian Prime Minister was Aborigines. Now, he did not know how you

did it, he was just saying, you have some experience of three occasions, now you go and use your experience in our interests.' [Trans., p.7619j

5.4.9 When asked precisely what steps were taken to determine the locations and manner of living of Aboriginal people on the north-west coast of Australia, Titterton said

'We had information from the relevant departments of the Federal Government...' and

'...a population survey of how many people Marble Bar and so on...1 [Trans·, p.7630j

5.4.10 Aborigines were not the responsibility of the Federal Government at that time and it is difficult to see what

information of relevance its departments could have provided. Titterton‘s lack of knowledge on the relationship between the Federal Government and Aborigines may explain his later evidence that if Aboriginal people objected to the tests they could vote

the Government out - the same Aborigines who did not have voting rights until 19671 [Trans., p.7764]


5.4.11 The Royal Commission found no report of a population survey apart from the rudimentary and totally inadequate report of Woodcock referred to above.

5.4.12 Nobody considered the special conditions of Aboriginal people and their distinctive lifestyles apparently because of their faith in the direction in which the cloud would go and the predicted non-significant levels of mainland contamination. As Titterton said in evidence

' The overriding condition was that there would be no significant fallout on the continent. Now, if there is no significant fallout on the continent that can do anyone any damage, you do not have to differentiate between Aboriginals and Europeans.1 [Trans., p.7630]

5.4.13 Titterton may have been confusing the Hurricane and Mosaic tests. By the time of Mosaic, the AWTSC had been

constituted and questions were being raised about the effects of fallout on people who did not wear clothes and did not live in houses. This is discussed in Chapter 7. For the Hurricane explosion no special consideration was taken of this issue.


5.4.14 There was a failure at the Hurricane trial to consider the distinctive lifestyles of Aboriginal people. As no record was made of any contamination of the mainland it is impossible to determine whether Aborigines were exposed to any significant

short or long-term hazards.

5.5 Safety of Servicemen

Royal Australian Navy

5-5.1 The Royal Australian Navy provided the following ships and support craft for Hurricane:

HMAS Hawkesbury HMAS Culgoa HMAS Koala HMAS Karangi HMAS Macquarie HMAS Murchison MRL 252

MWL 251 HMAS Shoalhaven HMAS Sydney HMAS Tobruk

HMAS Warrego HMAS Warreen HMAS Limicola

The operations of the Australian fleet are briefly described in the Naval Commander's Report [RC 231, pp.39-41]. The RAN searched and patrolled the Monte Bello area before and during the test.


5.5.2 HMAS Warrego surveyed the Monte Bellos in

July-August 1951, and before the test, moorings and navigational buoys were laid by HMAS Karangi and HMAS Koala. HMAS Warreen ferried supplies and provisions from Onslow to the Islands and, as detailed elsewhere, HMAS Koala raised a barge which had sunk

in bad weather after the explosion. HMAS Hawkesbury took the JSTU to the Monte Bellos and accommodated the unit when it was not camped on South East Island.

5.5.3 The impression given in the list of RAN ships and

support craft which visited the Monte Bellos on and after the first test on 3 October 1952 that a considerable number were 1 present at first test1 [RC 800, p.520704] is misleading.

5.5.4 On the day the weapon was fired, HMAS Warreen, HMAS Limicola, and HMAS Reserve were sheltering in Onslow harbour. HMAS Shoalhaven. was 100 miles (160 km) away on a bearing of

075 degrees from the Monte Bellos.

5.5.5 HMAS Murchison and HMAS Tobruk were south-south-west of the Islands at a distance of some 70 miles. HMAS Macquarie and HMAS Sydney were on patrol at 20 degrees 50 minutes S and at 114 degrees, 24 minutes E respectively in the Indian Ocean at a

distance of more than 100 miles (160 km). HMAS Koala, HMA MWL 251 and HMS Zeebrugge were south-south-east of the Monte Bellos, about 20 miles (32 km) away. HMAS Hawkesbury was on patrol about 20 miles (32 km) to the east of the Islands. It

should be noted that the Hurricane Trial Order No. 161 specified that all ships were to be withdrawn a distance of at least 10 miles from Ground Zero at H-hour [RC 78].

5.5.6 It is obvious from the chart (Figure 5.5.1) that no Royal Australian Navy vessel was close enough to the blast to have been in any danger. Nor it seems were any of the ships in the path of the fallout from the blast. The ships were located

at the time of the firing so that the personnel on board were not in danger and that any exposure suffered must have occurred during the recovery and post firing phases of the operation. Trial Order No. 275 [RC 78], which was distributed to HMAS Hawkesbury as well as to the RN fleet, sets out in some detail

the action to be followed should a ship become contaminated by fallout.

5.5.7 Following the explosion, a carefully planned re-entry program commenced to allow measurements, the collection of samples, and the recovery of scientific instruments, and to salvage equipment. The details of this plan are in the Trial Orders [RC 78].


FIGURE 5.5.1

Positions of Ships at the Time of the Hurricane Explosion

Figure 5.5.1 /

HM S Shoe I haven (160 km bearing 0 75 °)

Operation Hurricane

Position of HM and HMA ships at time of detonation (0800 3 October 1952)

Position of ship: o

0 j H MAS Sydney < HMAS Macquarie

/HMAS Culgoa (2 0 °00 'S 1 1 0°00'E )

HMS P '/m V §t>Trimouille lsland MONTE BELLO A · FlaS Island

ISLANDS f'H e rm ite Island

Ο I HMS Tracker O HMAS Hawkesbury t HMS A/erf HMS Campania HMS Zeebrugge

HMAS Koala MW L 251 MRL 252

Lowendal Island ■ o

Barrow Island

(3Shell Island

Barrow Island Shoals

North Sand) Island ■ ( HMAS Murchison I HMAS Tobruk

Rosily Island

Mary Anne Passage

Airlie Island

HMAS Warreen HMAS Limicola HMAS Reserve

•O n slo w



5.5.8 The re-entry plan envisaged that access to the Islands after H-hour would be controlled by the Health Control Ship, HMS Tracker, subject to the safety and security directions of the Naval Commander and Technical Director. Once it was possible to differentiate between clean and dirty areas, the Health Control

Ship was to control the dirty areas only.

5-5.9 All recovery teams entering a contaminated area were to be accompanied by a health escort who was given complete authority over that team's movements and activities in relation

to radiological safety.

5.5.10 McEnhill [RC 603, pp.67-71] has detailed the re-entry program and the arrangements aboard Tracker; it appears that the tasks were completed guickly and efficiently. The re-entry operation was completed within 20 days.

5.5.11 The re-entry phase of the operation was not, however, without problems. An attempt was made on D+2 to dispense with protective clothing for boat crews. This proved 'disastrous and the personal clothes of almost every sailor involved had to be

condemned1 [RC 250j. Although the incident was dismissed in evidence by Saxby and Walkling as being a minor matter akin to a cut finger, it must be accepted that sailors with clothes so contaminated that they had to be destroyed must have been exposed to radiation. Saxby said

'...that particular operation was one which people on the control had decided could be carried out without the additional protective clothing and when people came in it was clear it was a decision that had been wrongly made and that as a result the normal working clothing of the people had to be destroyed or sent away for

laundering.' [Trans., p.6132]

5.5.12 The radiological safety plan was varied on site when it became clear that the normal working rate could not be adhered to and that, to complete the salvage, recovery and survey tasks, the

lower integrated dose of 3 r would have to be used. Dr K Stewart who was responsible for the Radiation Hazards Group stated

1 Indeed in some cases towards the end of the work, the observed dose rates were some roentgens per hour so that it was difficult to limit the total dose to 3 r. ' [RC 343, para.13 j

5.5.13 Dr Stewart's analysis of the radiological consequences of the re-entry operations was that

' The total number of personnel taking part in the survey, recovery and salvage operations was about 500 and, including boat crews and maintenance men, a grand total of about 900. Of these only 31 exceeded 3 r,


6 exceeded 4 r and no one exceeded 5 r. It is certain that all 31 were involved in work considered to be essential to the success of the operation.1 Lloc.cit.]

It seems that only one Australian was involved in this part of the operation and he received a dose of less than 3 r.

5.5.14 From this, it may be inferred that exposure resulting in a dose of less than 3 r was not regarded as a problem.

Walk ling said in evidence that it was his understanding that if a dose of 3 r was received then that person was entirely safe LTrans., p.4544j.

5.5.15 The level of contamination permissible for clothing which could be re-used was raised as the operation progressed and the orders were also modified so that re-entrants were required to wear respirators only when the external dose rate exceeded 25 mr/h.

5.5.16 The nature of the Hurricane test was such that the sea water inevitably became contaminated. The Hurricane Trial Orders acknowledged this and the distillation of contaminated sea water for drinking water was stopped immediately the dose rate reached 0.1 mr/h. That level was set 1 because of the sensitivity of the

instruments rather than by consideration of biological tolerances' [RC 250, para.9.3.lj. It was also acknowledged that the original intention, to avoid all inhalation and ingestion of fission products, had to be modified. Modifications such as these inevitably increased the risk to personnel. Walkling acknowledged that even over lightly contaminated water the airborne activity was always above normal background and that therefore 1 no one who took part in the operation is likely to have avoided inhaling small amounts of fission products' [RC 250, para.9.3.2 j .

5.5.17 Incidents are recorded in which personnel were exposed to inhalation hazards. Firstly, three health surveyors disobeyed instructions that they were to wear respirators and subsequently had fission products detected in their urine and secondly, a wind

change on D-day brought smoke from fires still burning on the Islands over HMS Tracker, exposing those on board to total intake of 0.01 microcuries [RC 250, para.9.3.2].

5.5.18 In both these incidents, the contamination, though measurable, was well below the maximum permissible levels of the time.

Recovery of the Sunken Landing Craft

5.5.19 Bad weather between 12 and 15 October resulted in the sinking of a landing craft auxiliary (LCA) at its moorings near Daisy Island. On the evening of 30 October, HMAS Koala recovered


this LCA and was to take it to HMS Tracker. The LCA, when

monitored, was found to be heavily contaminated with radioactive mud and sand. A decision was taken to dump the LCA in deep water as soon as possible and this was done but not before HMAS Koala was contaminated.

5.5.20 On 31 October, Squadron Leader Thomas went aboard HMAS Koala and monitored the ship. He discovered that the boom area and the hoisting equipment of the vessel were contaminated with radioactive mud, sand and seaweed and that the contamination had been spread around the ship. As the crew walked in the

contamination it was carried through the ship on their sand shoes. The captain's carpet was found to be contaminated and, along with other items which could not easily be decontaminated, it was dumped overboard. Decontamination of the ship by washing

it down took Thomas and the crew 48 hours to complete.

5.5.21 In his statement, Squadron Leader Thomas said that the levels of contamination 1 were no more than a few milli r per day' IRC 553, p.9J. In evidence he said that

1 Once 1 saw the low readings I was not concerned about the external dose rates...but I was concerned about the possibility of ingestion.1 [Trans., p.8675]

Although he acknowledged a risk of inhalation, he stated that he doubted whether any of the ship's company inhaled any radioactive dust [RC 553, p .113.

5.5.22 An aspect of the recovery of the LCA which could be cause for concern was that the cables were attached to it by divers. Thomas stated in evidence that there was no mention to him of naval divers and that he was unaware that divers had been

down [Trans., pp.8691, 8694].

5.5.23 W E Smith gave evidence that he and Mr Brennan were RAN divers aboard HMA Ships Koala and Karangi and that they entered the water to attach cables to the sunken landing craft. He stated that he had swallowed water during his descent.

Subsequently, he said that he was monitored on HMS Narvik and subjected to decontamination [Trans., p.7406].

5.5.24 The divers involved in the recovery of the landing craft and moorings after the explosion were exposed to the risk of ingesting contaminated sea water.

The Joint Services Training Unit

5.5.25 On 31 October 1952, HMS Campania and the RN fleet left the Monte Bello Islands. HMAS Hawkesbury remained behind and had the task of patrolling the prohibited area, recovering and disposing of the electronic equipment, and providing support for


an Australian JSTU. This Unit was to undertake security duties and to provide training in radiological defence and health measures on contaminated parts of the Monte Bellos. The Unit was quartered on HMAS Hawkesbury until a camp and Health Control Centre were established on South East Island.

5.5.26 The JSTU was assisted by Squadron Leader Thomas, who had been a member of the British Radiological Hazards Team thus acquiring some practical experience in re-entry and recovery operations and in decontamination procedures. The Unit comprised:


Lt A A Andrews PO S M Sutton LS Peters PO Monaghan PO Leal

Maj F N Vincent Lt G I Jenkinson Lt J G Moffat W02 J N McMenamin

WO2 M D Jellie Sgt N C Hutchinson

FO J E Nicholls FO E K Peck

Gp Capt King Gp Capt Bird

The Unit assembled aboard HMAS hawkesbury on 27 October 1952 at Fremantle and sailed for the Monte Bellos that day.

Lieutenant Andrews said that, en route, instruction was given in the use of two types of radiation detection instrument which were on board the ship.

5.5.27 By 5 November 1952, the camp on South East Island was established and practical exercises commenced on 6 November. The training exercises were completed by 14 November and the tasks performed included the production of isodose curves for Trimouille Island. The ability of members of the Unit as

instructors was graded. Lieutenant Andrews stated in his report 'the majority of the students were keen and interested...' LRC 62j.

5.5.28 A considerable amount of evidence was taken by the Royal Commission in relation to the JSTU. It is contradictory in many respects, particularly the evidence of Thomas, Andrews and Jenkinson LTrans., p.8530j which tends to be contradicted by the evidence of Peck and the statement of Nicholls. Guidance on the

actual events must be found in the documents and it seems that while the recollections of Peck are corroborated to some extent by his RAAF colleague Nicholls, they are not substantiated by the documentary records. For example, Peck claimed that he was

evacuated because he was ill - suffering, he said, from radiation poisoning - and that he was examined aboard HMAS Hawkesbury and then returned to his base. The medical records of Surgeon Lieutenant McNeill for HMAS Hawkesbury for the period from

1 October to 31 December 1952, do not show that Peck was

examined. The records show that the security party consisting of six army and five navy personnel lived ashore on one of the islands and that


•••although this party did considerable heavy work in the contaminated area at no time did the state of their health cause any anxiety.' [RC 581, p.240]

The records also show that members of the JSTU lost an average of 8 lbs during a three-hour period in a suit with respirators [ibid.]· It is surprising that Surgeon Lieutenant McNeill did not mention the RAAF component of the JSTU in his health report.

5.5.29 The JSTU was a specifically Australian operation and not subject to the Hurricane Trial Orders. Nonetheless, protective clothing including respirators was to be worn when members were in contaminated areas. It may be that Peck and

Nicholls did not wear theirs consistently, but it does seem that they were not authorised by their superior officers to remove them. Peck in his evidence said that he was told at the time by Lieutenant Andrews that some areas were quite dangerous and not to be entered [Trans., p.862J. This indicates that some awareness of the dangers was communicated to the members of the Unit by Lieutenant Andrews. It seems extremely unlikely that Peck received a sufficiently high dose to have suffered from

radiation sickness, although it seems that he did leave the Unit early because of diarrhoea; however, it is understandable that he should have believed there was some connection. The dose records kept by Squadron Leader Thomas indicate that Peck received a

total dose of 1.16 r. That must be regarded as the minimum dose he was subjected to. The qualified conclusion proffered by Dr Langlands that

1 There is no objective evidence in the medical record of significant radiation exposure. 1 [RC 585, Part 2, P· 2]

must be accepted.

5.5.30 The allegations of inept management and lack of

training for the tasks to be performed made by Peck may be understood if it is remembered that the purpose of the Unit was to train service personnel in the field. Thus performance of various tasks may be seen to have been incidental to the training

goal. The isodose chart of Trimouille Island was done

1 remarkably well1 according to Lieutenant Andrews and was 1 better than the original' [RC 62] in his opinion. In this instance, the JSTU improved upon work which had already been done by the United Kingdom re-entrants, and were doing the job as a practical

training exercise.

5.5.31 The JSTU was not subject to the Hurricane Trial Orders. However, Squadron Leader Thomas had considerable knowledge of radiological health and safety matters and the Unit was able,

despite some personality conflicts, to achieve its limited goals without subjecting its personnel to sufficiently high doses of radiation to cause the radiation sickness alleged by Peck. On an examination of all the evidence, the protection measures seem to have been adequate.



5.5.32 One phase of Operation Hurricane which appears to have been poorly planned from a radiological health and safety perspective, and which involved the exposure of service personnel

to radiation, was the air sampling program undertaken by the RAAF.

5.5.33 The question of the safety of aircrew performing such a task had been discussed in the United Kingdom and advice received from Dr W G Marley the head of the Health Physics Division of AERE, Harwell.

5-5.34 Marley concluded

'(1) The radiation dose received by plane crews while actually flying through the cloud from an atomic bomb explosion is expected to be well below lethal level at times later than a quarter of an hour after burst.

'(2) The contamination of the aircraft is likely to cause radiation exposure quite as serious as that arising from direct exposure from the cloud.

'(3) The breathing of contaminated air during passage through the cloud at speeds of the order of 300 mph is found to be rather less serious than the exposure to the external gamma radiation in the cloud and no long-term injury is likely to arise from this cause for times later than a quarter of an hour after burst.

1 (4) The simple rule that aircraft must avoid flying through the visible cloud following an atomic bomb explosion is sufficient to guard against injury and at the later times when the visible cloud has dispersed there will be no danger to aircrews.1 [RC 800,


5.5.35 However, the information, which was eventually placed in the hands of the RAAF in Australia for the information of planning officers, was as follows:

1 Hazards to Flying Personnel

8. The radioactive hazard to aircrews in flying through this cloud is negligible and there is no fear of the aircraft becoming contaminated.1 [RC 558, P-137]

The origin of this statement is not clear, but it was presented at a meeting, chaired by the Naval Commander, by a senior Ministry of Supply officer with RAF connections who should have been aware of the Marley conclusions outlined earlier. There


were no qualifying remarks in the statement about timing entry into the cloud after the explosion or about the visibility of the cloud. It is no surprise therefore that the RAAF officers planning the air sampling operation did not provide aircrew with

film badges or dosimeters.

5.5.36 In a memorandum produced by Marley after a telephone conversation with Penney in April 1951 |_RC 558, p. 175], it was agreed that

'...gamma dose level measurements in the cloud sampled at Broome and Townsville could well be made by RAAF personnel, since British scientists would not fly on

these sorties.1

5.5.37 It is evident that the air sampling operation became a separate operation having a tenuous connection with the main command structure at the Monte Bello Islands. By May 1952, administrative arrangements for the air sampling operation were being made by Air Vice Marshal E D Davis in the Ministry of Supply. He was concerned that the operation was lacking co-ordination and began to question the Naval Commander about the movement of people and equipment. Some limited exchanges of

information occurred through the Hurricane Executive on this matter during May 1952. A decision to extend the range of the air sampling operations occurred in early May 1952 and cables on the subject were sent to New Zealand via the UK High Commissioner

in New Zealand [RC 558, p.269j.

5.5.38 The Naval Commander, in a reply to Davis, offered some suggestions on administrative arrangements for the AERE staff and their equipment. At the end of May, before he departed on HMS Campania for Australia, he wrote to Dr Penney [RC 558, p.279J, stating that he was anxious that it should be clearly understood who had the responsibility for the co-ordination of the arrangements for air sampling and coast monitoring. He noted

that air sampling had been regarded as the operational

responsibility of the RAAF which had agreed to provide the facilities required by the Ministry of Supply (Harwell)· He commented that he understood that all detailed arrangements for air sampling would be made between the Ministry of Supply

(Harwell) and the authorities in Australia. His command was only concerned with the provision of meteorological forecasts and information on which the planning and execution of the air sampling scheme would depend. He stated that he would ensure that available communications were adequate for the passing of such information to the operational air bases and that requests

for co-operation in other respects would be met so far as resources permitted·

5.5.39 On 21 April 1952, a conference was held at Australian Air Force Headquarters to determine the extent to which the RAAF could meet the Ministry of Supply (Harwell) requirements. The


security patrol, coastal monitoring and air sampling requests were subsequently met. Radioactive contamination was not discussed during the meeting.

5.5.40 At a meeting on board HMS Campania on 31 July 1952, the RAAF Director General of Medical Services raised queries about hazards from exposure to radiation and radioactive contamination. Senior RAAF staff were given a specific assurance that there was

no danger to aircrew. Ground crew were not mentioned. It seems that no information on the Radiological Safety Orders was issued to the RAAF staff.

5.5.41 At this meeting, the RAAF discovered that radio

communications would have to be in cypher and not in plain English. The late requirement for such additional facilities imposed severe strains on the provision of equipment, personnel and the communications system. The effect of communications on

the air sampling operation was quite important in terms of radiation exposures to aircrew, as is discussed later. Mail delays added to the difficulties in establishing adequate contact with the groups at Townsville and in New Zealand.

5.5.42 After the explosion, the cloud rose in the very dry air and met a concentrated inversion layer at 10 000 feet, keeping almost all the cloud below that level. A small section of the cloud penetrated the inversion layer and rose to about

11 600 feet, rather than up to 25 000 feet, as had been suggested in earlier communications to the RAAF. There was a large amount of wind shear in the layers below 10 000 feet. The Naval

Commander was advised that sampling should be done earlier than had been suggested and a message was sent to RAAF Broome to intercept the cloud 200 miles from the Islands. Owing to mishandled cyphering of the message dispatched from HMS Campania,

it took six hours for an intelligible message to be received at Broome. In the meantime, the aircrews had been stood down until about 12 hours after the time of the explosion.

5.5.43 The first interception of the cloud by the Lincoln aircraft was estimated to have occurred about sixteen and a half hours after the explosion. The aircraft were in the vicinity of the cloud for about five and a half hours. About two days after the explosion, three aircraft were sent to search an area north-west of Broome at 500 feet. Finally, one aircraft was

dispatched at about three and a half days to take samples at about 9000 feet between Onslow and Broome after the coastal monitoring Dakota aircraft had detected activity at that level.

Radiation Exposure of Aircrews in Hurricane Air Sampling

5.5.44 From information contained in AW RE reports prepared in 1953 and 1954 [RC 308 j, it is apparent that the air sampling operations out of Townsville and New Zealand collected filter samples having a level of radioactivity which would produce very


low radiation exposures for the aircrew; aircraft contamination levels were well below permissible levels. From a health and safety view, it is more important to examine the radioactivity levels for aircrew of the Lincoln aircraft which flew from Broome.

5.5.45 The aircrew did not carry film badges or dosimeters and the aircraft had no gamma-ray detection equipment installed. The dosage levels may therefore only be deduced from other

information. The only radioactivity collection systems were the filter units attached beneath the wings of the Lincoln aircraft. The integrated amount of radiation received by the aircrew from the radioactive products in the cloud was deduced from the level of radioactivity in the filters with each passage of the aircraft

through an active cloud. The aircraft surfaces also became contaminated with radioactivity which related directly to the activity in the cloud.

5.5.46 Data are available on the activity on the filter

samples collected after the Hurricane and Totem tests. Symonds [1985, Appendix 6.2] estimated from these data that the aircrews in Hurricane flights would have received a dose of no more than one or two miHi roentgens. Using information about the

contamination on the Dakotas carrying out the coastal monitoring, he estimated that the contamination on the Lincolns which flew the first air sampling flights would have given rise to a dose rate of about 0.5 milliroentgens per hour. A check was made of

the contamination level of the Lincolns using a radiation monitor which was not sufficiently sensitive for the task. It gave no perceptible reading - the lowest perceptible reading would have been about 0.2 milliroentgens per hour.

5.5.47 These estimates make it likely that the surface

contamination on the Lincolns gave very low dose rates and that the maximum dose to the aircrew was well below the normal working dose specified in the Hurricane Radiological Safety Orders· The contamination levels were such that ground crew working on the aircraft after their return would only have received radiation

exposures that were well within the approved lowest radiation dosage level for Hurricane participants, called 1 the Normal Working Rate 1 (see para.4.2.27).

86 (T)_ Wing Dakotas

5.5.48 86(T) Wing Dakotas fitted with monitoring equipment carried out the following operations. On 22 September 1952, aircraft A65-76 and A65-99 carried out monitoring flights at an altitude of 500 feet from Onslow to Broome to record the

background radiation. They returned to base at 8000 feet. On 29 September 1952, the aircraft flew over a ship which exposed a known radioactive source to test and calibrate the monitoring equipment on board the aircraft. On 4 October 1952, the same


aircraft flew from Onslow to Broome departing at 0600 hours at an altitude of 500 feet. On 4 October 1952, they returned from Broome to Onslow at 8000 feet and 10 000 feet respectively. A65-99 encountered 'intense radioactivity1 at 10 000 feet so that the sensitive monitoring equipment on board reacted to the contamination on the aircraft.

82(B) Wing Lincolns

5.5.49 By 24 September seven Lincolns were stationed at Broome

(a) to fly meteorological wind finding flights at heights of up to 25 000 feet, and

(b) to fly through the cloud after the explosion and take samples of it.

On 3 October 1952, one aircraft was dispatched to find winds at 10 000 to 12 000 feet due east of the Monte Bellos and along the coast to the north. This aircraft discovered a wind shear between those heights. It is reported that the early morning wind-finding flights on D-day had not flown below 15 000 feet but had concentrated on much higher altitudes.

5.5.50 As mentioned in para.5.5.42, the signal requesting the Lincolns to sample the cloud was not received until six hours after it was sent and the search for the cloud began at

1037 hours WAST on 3 October.

5.5.51 The report of the operation states that all aircraft intercepted the cloud and returned with samples having almost the same level of radioactivity [RC 78_|. The canisters were removed from the aircraft and handed to Gale immediately upon arrival at Broome.

5.5.52 On 5 October, a further search was conducted about 700 miles west of Broome at an altitude of 500 feet. Two

Lincolns obtained radioactive samples from this area. The final search was made on 6 October by an aircraft completing a 90 mile radius of the Monte Bello Islands at 9000 feet. No radioactive samples were collected on this sortie.

5.5.53 The aircraft which undertook these tasks and their captains were as follows:

A73-55 A73-54 A73-52 A73-41 A73-53 A73-61 A73-51

Sqd Ldr W M Dixon Sqd Ldr D A Glenn Gp Capt G C Hartnell FO E D McHardie Fit Lt S W Trewin Fit Lt E B Goldner Fit Lt H R Winchcombe


5.5.54 Before the test, Gale gave lectures to all flying personnel at Broome on the following topics:

(a) Atomic physics - historical discoveries, periodic table survey of 19th Century , Einstein's equation.

(b) Radioactivity, fundamental 1919-1930. units, nuclear physics

(c) Nuclear fission, chain reaction, plutonium, the atomic bomb. production of

(d) Atomic warfare.

Notably absent from the series of lectures were instructions in the decontamination of people or aircraft, the use of film badges, dosimeters and protective clothing and other matters of radiological safety. This is in clear contrast with the

instructions given to the re-entrants and the health monitors [RC 250].

5.5.55 The KAAF report does not refer to any contamination of aircrew or aircraft which performed the cloud sampling tasks. The orders acknowledge that there was to be no monitoring equipment on board these aircraft to enable the crews to judge

whether they were flying through a radioactive area. Despite a request by Air Vice Marshal Davis on 15 September 1952 that the aircraft be monitored externally at Broome to determine if they had made a 'positive collection' [RC 800, p . 520622 ], the equipment to perform this task was not made available. Gale

replied on 22 September 1952 to the request in the following terms:

'Broome has no suitable equipment for monitoring aircraft and when planes land all available effort will be otherwise occupied. Advise importance of this new project noting effort will have to be found. Only

suitable instrument is at Townsville as standing by for filter monitoring probably could not reach Broome in time.' [RC 800, p.520648]

It is clear that contamination of the aircraft was an expected consequence of the cloud sampling sorties, at least by some British officials.

5.5.56 The aircrew received a dose of radiation, albeit a small one, so the categorical assurance given on 10 April 1952

‘...that there is no risk to the crews or the aircraft consequent upon flying through these "clouds".' [RC 800, p.520128]

was not an accurate prediction.




(a) The divers involved in the recovery of the landing

craft and also in the recovery of moorings after the explosion were exposed to the risk of ingesting contaminated sea water in the performance of their duties.

(b) Aircrew of the Lincoln aircraft at Hurricane should have been supplied with radiation monitoring devices and given instructions as to their behaviour when in the cloud or a contaminated aircraft. The failure to provide this equipment and

instructions was negligent. Ground crew should have been similarly equipped and instructed.

(c) Air and ground crew of Lincoln aircraft used for

Hurricane suffered exposure to radiation but the dose which they received is now impossible to determine accurately. It is unlikely that the dose exceeded the level of dose which others

involved in the program were authorised to receive.

(d) The failure to make provision for personal monitoring of air and ground crews was an omission which fortuitously did not result in exposure of those personnel to high levels of radioactivity. The RAAF should have been informed of the risks and provided with equipment to monitor the crews.

(e) The Royal Commission finds convincing the recurring evidence given by servicemen who were at the Hurricane test in positions close to the site of the explosion that after a person had entered an active area decontamination procedures were

tediously and thoroughly carried out.

(f) The quick action taken to decontaminate HMAS Koala

following the salvage of the LCA is evidence of the concern to ensure that appropriate radiation protection procedures were instituted promptly after an unplanned incident.

(g) The evidence from servicemen aboard the RN and RAN

vessels does not disclose breaches of health and safety regulations which allowed those personnel to be exposed to radiation beyond the limits set at the time.




6.0 Introduction

6.0. 1 With rapid progress in the UK research and development program for the production of nuclear materials and atomic weapons, British authorities began investigating the possibilities of further tests in the year after Hurricane. There could not be a naval operation because of the short time

available, indicating the desirability of land-based tests.

6.0. 2 Informal discussions between British and Australian officials nad produced a suggestion that a site in the Great Victoria Desert of South Australia should be investigated.

Australian Department of Supply officials arranged in mid-1952 for the area known as Emu Field, about 480 km north-west from Woomera, to be reconnoitred by L Beadell.

6.0. 3 It was not until 4 September 1952, however, that an

official request to undertake a feasibility study of the area was made to Mr Menzies by sir John Cockcroft, Director of the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell.

6.0. 4 Penney, accompanied by Solandt (Canada), Butement and some Australian officials, visited Emu Field prior to attending Operation Hurricane and inspected the area, particularly the claypans. On boarding HMS Campania at the Monte Bello Islands, Penney cabled Lord Cherwell that a possible site had been

inspected and it appeared to offer considerable advantages.

6.0. 5 In the same cable, Penney indicated that the selected site would be used for a comparative trial of two weapon types. He added that he would probably require a further trial at the Monte Bello Islands in two years or so, involving one weapon

similar to those under consideration and one of an urgent experimental type. His future program already had extended over several years even before Operation Hurricane.

6.0. 6 In London in December 1952, the British Prime Minister, Churchill, asked Menzies for Australian agreement in principle to a test series at Emu Field in October 1953. Cherwell handed an Aide Memoire to Menzies on 12 December 1952. An affirmative

reply was sent from Australia to Menzies on 15 December.

6.0. 7 The UK accepted responsibility for safety and for the cost of the tests. The Trial Director was to be Penney, and the Scientific Superintendent C A Adams.



FIGURE 6.0.1

Map of Emu Field, Site of the Totem Tests




Grid North


T racks

Test sites

Em u Test Area


2 00 0 4 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 Yards

6.0. 8 The Operation was given the code-name Totem. A Totem Executive (TOTEX) was established under the chairmanship of Air Marshal Sir Thomas Elmhirst to co-ordinate activity for the trials in the UK.

6.0. 9 A Totem Panel chaired by Major-General J E S Stevens, Secretary of the Department of Supply, was established in Australia to co-ordinate the Australian contribution to Operation Totem. It was an interdepartmental panel with executive

responsibility to the Department of Supply.

6.0. 10 Responsibility for the construction phase of Operation Totem, called Project X200, fell to the Australian Army and was co-ordinated by Brigadier L C Lucas.

6.0. 11 Once again, Australian support did not extend to any area requiring knowledge of weapon design or function. Martin and Titterton, Menzies' safety advisers, were, however, given access to documents which set out the firing conditions and predicted contamination for the Totem explosions. In June 1953,

they reported to Menzies that, for the yields stated and given the firing conditions proposed by the British, the safety of life and health in Australia was not at risk from the tests.

6.0. 12 Radiological Safety Orders cohering external radiation, inhalation and ingestion hazards and their control, were issued by Adams on 14 August 1953. They contained tne same permissible dose levels as had been promulgated for Operation Hurricane.

6.0. 13 Australian meteorologists H R Pnillpot and Η T Ashton, this time with three Australian assistants, again were members of the meteorological forecasting team. Responsibility for

presenting meteorological predictions and making theoretical predictions regarding movement of the cloud and fallout levels rested with the British team.

6.0. 14 The Department of Supply appointed a security officer to the X200 Project whose job was to brief station and property owners on security and nuclear safety in relation to the Emu tests. In August 1953, with the Woomera Range Overseer and Native Patrol Officer, MacDougall, he undertook a briefing of

station personnel to the north and north-east, and south and south-east of Emu. Particular note was made of possible Aboriginal movements in the area.

6.0. 15 Ten Australian personnel, including Squadron

Leader Thomas, RAAF, comprised Radiation Hazards Group RH5. They carried out a variety of tasks, including the issue of protective clothing, monitoring and decontamination of re-entry teams. The Radiation Hazards Group leader was Leiutenant Colonel Stewart of

the AWRE.


6.0. 16 The RAAF contribution to the tests included provision of ten Lincoln bombers based at Woomera and Richmond for air sampling duties, and two Dakotas based at Woomera for ground contamination surveys, plus air and ground crew support. In

addition, an airfield construction unit developed the Emu claypan for all-weather use by large aircraft, and Bristol Freighter aircraft were used for transportation.

6.0. 17 In charge of the RAAF Eastern Area Detachment, Woomera, was Group Captain D W Colquhoun, Officer Commanding RAAF Amberley, home base of the Lincolns and Dakotas. The RAAF representative on the Totem Panel was Group Captain Μ O Watson.

6.0. 18 In the interests of efficient control, the RAAF was given responsibility for all the co-ordination of air operational aspects of the Totem trials, including operational command of the RAF Canberra bomber flown through the Totem 1 cloud by Wing Commander Dhenin and Group Captain Wilson. All aircraft operated

from Woomera or Richmond.

6.0. 19 Two USAF B29 aircraft operated from Richmond to collect air samples outside a distance of 400 miles from Emu. These aircraft were fitted with radiation detection equipment and the crews were provided with film badges and dosimeters.

6.0. 20 As for Operation Hurricane, the RAAF personnel were working under the UK instruction that the radiation hazard in flying through the cloud was negligible and there was no fear of aircraft contamination. RAAF personnel were not included in Radiological Safety orders for Emu, no health control procedures were instituted at Woomera and Richmond for RAAF aircraft and crews, and no personal monitoring devices were issued to RAAF

personnel prior to Totem 1.

6.0. 21 Both Totem bombs were mounted on towers for detonation. Totem 1 was exploded at 0 7 0 0 hours CST on 15 October 1953, and had an approximate yield of 10 kt. Totem 2 was exploded at C700 hours CST on 27 October 1953, with an approximate yield of 8 kt.

6.0. 22 Unexpected contamination of the Lincolns engaged on air sampling duties occurred after the Totem 1 explosion. Partial decontamination was carried out at Woomera under the direction of officers of the UK Radiation Hazards Group. Further

decontamination was carried out later at RAAF Amberley under the direction of two AWRE officers, Butler and Austin. A

decontamination centre was constructed at Amberley in 1954, and Air Board Orders on radiological safety in the RAAF were issued after the Totem experience. These last were largely the work of Squadron Leader Thomas.

6.0. 23 The phenomenon Known as the Black Mist, is dealt with in Section 6.4.


6.0.24 A series of Kittens tests designed to evaluate

initiator devices took place at Emu before and during the Totem trials. Five tests, the first of the minor trials, were carried out between 26 September and 17 October 1953. No nuclear explosions were involved.

6.1 Criteria for Safe Firing

6.1.1 The UK authorities accepted that Australia would require more information about the Totem tests than had been the case for Hurricane. They were committed to disclosing details of the predicted contamination to Martin and Titterton so that the latter could make their own independent evaluations of the hazard

(note of 12 December 1952 handed to Menzies). This agreement was confirmed in the FCO telegram to the UK High Commissioner in Australia on 28 February 1953 [RC 559, Bundle B, p.408].

6-1.2 On 7 May 1953, the 'Technical Assessment of Fallout from Totem1 was dispatched from London for Martin and Titterton LRC 559, Bundle B, p. 416]. It is probable, but not absolutely certain, that this assessment duplicates Report A32 [RC 247] entitled 'Airborne Contamination at the Totem Trial'. The latter report was prepared by the High Explosives Research (HER) Division of the UK Ministry of Supply. Essentially it is based

on a similar report prepared for Hurricane [RC 256, TS75/20] but includes more advanced models of fallout prediction and exposure of populations.

6.1.3 Fallout levels were calculated for a 5 kt explosion over a range of wind and stability conditions. Two levels of contamination were considered:

1 a "zero risk" level is that quantity of fission products which will cause no measurable effect on the body ;

'a "slight risk" level is that quantity of fission products which may cause some slight temporary sickness to a small number of people who have a low threshold sensitivity to radiation.' [RC 247]

6.1.4 The contamination levels were determined on the basis that the total dose over a ten-week period should not exceed the accepted dose over that period for people continuously exposed for their lifetime. At that time the maximum permitted levels of external radiation were 0.5 roentgens per week for gamma rays and

1.5 rep per week for beta particles. The 0.5 r as measured was taken to be equivalent to 0.3 r in dose to the critical tissue.


6.1.5 The doses for beta particles and gamma rays were taken to be additive, so for external radiation the limits were:

zero risk 3 x gamma dose

must not be (r) + beta greater than dose



slight risk 2 x gamma dose

must not be (r) + beta greater than dose



For internal radiation the levels were:

zero risk 3 rep;

slight risk 25 rep;

and for plutonium the maximum body burden of 0.04 microcuries was used.

6.1.6 The Royal Commission considers that these limits were reasonable in view of the standards accepted at the time. The zero risk level was set, using 1CRP recommendations, on the basis of a ten-week exposure. The slight risk level used

recommendations made by the i-lRC Panel on Atomic Biological Effects.

6.1.7 The exposure of people from the fallout contamination on the ground depends on many potential exposure pathways. In the Report A32 the following pathways were considered:

(a) external radiation from fission products spread on the ground,

(b) deposition of activity on the skin,

(c ) direct deposition in drinking water tanks,

(d) deposition in catchment of reservoir used for drinking water,

(e) deposition on food items, e.g. apples, tomatoes, ( i )

(f) dose to animals from pasture eaten.

(g) inhalation deposition, of the cloud materials before

(h) inhalation deposition. of and

dust raised after initial

(i) injection into cuts and abrasions.

6-1.8 Some of the models used for the pathways were

oversimplified and failed to account for the particular lifestyle of many of the Aborigines in the region. As was subsequently


recognised for Buffalo, the Aborigines were subject to a greater exposure from activity on the ground and on the skin than people living in houses and wearing clothing and shoes.

6.1.9 The result of the analysis in Report A32 was to

recommend contamination levels for the zero risk and slight risk criteria. The results were expressed in terms of H+l hour fission products and were calculated for exposure beginning at various times. The levels in millicuries per square metre at H+l hour for exposures beginning at 1, 6, 12 and 18 hours are shown

in Table 6.1.1.

TABLE 6.1.1

Recommended Maximum Contamination Levels (mCi/m2) for Exposure Beginning at Various Times After the Explosion. (All contamination levels corrected to H+l hour)

1 hour 6 hours 12 hours 18 hours

Zero Risk 5.3 10.7 12.1 13.6

Slight Risk 37.0 68.0 83.0 103.0

Source: RC 247, A3 2

6.1.10 The authors concluded that

1 On these assumptions we have shown that there is in general no risk to any of the present civilian

population of the region. If anyone had wandered nearer the site of the trial than the nearest reported settlement the risk would only be of slight sickness if he was outside the 50 miles radius and was so

unfortunate as to be directly on the track of the cloud.

1 The only essential condition is therefore that no serious contamination should fall on the base camp, which has the bearing 296 [degrees] from the tower. We can express this condition that

"The mean wind between the surface and any level less than 10 000 feet should not be between

100 [degrees] and 130 [degrees]."


'If it should happen that the wind direction was constant with height the zero risk zone may reach 120 miles. In this case therefore firing should not take place if the wind direction was 190 [degrees] or between 218 [degrees] and 246 [degrees J . 1 [RC 247, A3 2 J

6.1.11 The report on the assessment of fallout, which must have been either A32 or an extract (see para. 6.1.2), was made available to Martin and Titterton [RC 800, p.530416J .

6.1.12 Mr McKnight of the Prime Minister's Department reported on 12 June [RC 800, p.530452J:

'Our two Professors had told us orally that safety of Test was amply provided for. However, after conferring in Melbourne yesterday, they withdrew their opinion and have cabled Penney raising a query which I am told is basic to the whole safety appreciation.

'You will appreciate that until Australian Government receives firm advice from Martin and Titterton as to safety, there can be no question of an announcement and my hopes for a release next week can therefore be discarded.'

6.1.13 The concern was about the upper level winds and the prediction of the maximum height of the cloud. Balloon flights in 1951 and 1952 had disclosed winds at 30 000 to 40 000 feet of up to 100 knots with component towards the east and north-east in October. Martin and Titterton were worried about fallout on

Melbourne in the event of unexpected local rain and sought clarification from Penney as to whether the 15 000 feet used in the Assessment was the absolute maximum [RC 800, p.530397].

6.1.14 Penney replied on 16 June 1953 (the signal was wrongly dated 16 May) [RC 800, p.530439] that

'While 15,000 is not absolute maximum we certainly do not anticipate cloud rising above 30,000 feet.

' I feel confident that our met service will give us sufficient knowledge of upper wind conditions to allow us to fire with no possible risk of danger to health, even with unexpected rain at distance quoted.'

6.1.15 This satisfied Martin and Titterton who, on 17 June, reported to tne Prime Minister that

' Sir William Penney and nis colleagues nave made an exhaustive study of the consequences of the atomic explosions involved in the Totem trials. Their predictions are based on the Monte Bello explosion,

extensive experiments in the Ministry of Supply laboratories in U. K. and data made available by the


U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The physical principles of the atomic explosion are well understood and a large body of data has been accumulated in the post-war years. The performance of the weapons to be tested in

the Totem trials can be predicted therefore with confidence.

1 On the basis of the information made available by Sir William Penney we are able to assure you that the isolation of the site of the Totem trials precludes any possible damage to habitation or living beings by the

"shock" wave, thermal radiation, gamma rays, and neutrons.

1A study of the meteorological conditions at the site over past years has established that winds of suitable direction and acceptable strength occur over the period of the trials. Short range and long range

meteorological information will be supplied

continuously from a number of stations specially established for these trials. It is possible for us to assure you that the time of firing will be chosen so that any risk to health due to radioactive

contamination in our cities, or in fact of any human beings, is impossible.

1 To sum up, on the basis of the information before us, we are able to assure you, Sir, that no habitations or living beings will suffer injury to health from the effects of the atomic explosions proposed for the Totem trials.1 LHC 800, p.530457J

6.1.16 On 10 July 1953, Penney and Elmhirst sent the following firing conditions to Stevens and Timcke in Australia LHC 800, p.530537 j:

'Para. 1. Discussions have now been held with


'Para. 2. Cloud top for Totem One is estimated at twelve plus or minus one thousand feet above terrain.

'Para. 3. Firing will occur only if:

(a) The mean wind from surface to any level

below 10,000 ft. does not lie between 330 degs to 130 degs through N.

(b ) It is forecast that no rain will fall within 12 hours nearer than 200 miles downwind.

'Para. 4. Firing conditions for Totem Two, if

necessary, can be slightly less stringent because we do not this time have to preserve a clean firing site for an immediately following trial.'


6.1.17 These firing conditions ignored certain conclusions of the A32 study. Two points should be brought out:

(a) A32 highlighted the fact that, for a 5 kt

explosion, fallout contamination could exceed the 1 zero risk1 level at the distance of the nearest communities if there was low wind shear. Totem 1 had a yield of about 10 kt and low wind shear conditions existed.

(b) Since it was known that rain falling through the radioactive cloud produced a large increase in ground contamination, the condition (b) in para.6.1.16 above requiring no forecast rain within 12 hours nearer than 200 miles downwind seems inadequate when' taken in conjunction with the low wind shear conditions.

6.1.18 The Meteorological Group at the Totem tests consisted of Commander F L Westwater from the Royal Navy Weather Service, as Group Leader, Μ H Freeman from the UK Meteorological. Office, H Ashton and H Phillpot both forecasters from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and three Australian assistants, K Lomas, P Marron and J Longton [RC 246, T12/54]. The Australians collected and recorded information, plotted and analysed the weather maps and prepared the forecasts. The forecasts were presented to the Trial Director by Commander Westwater [Trans., p.5525].

6.1.19 The prediction of fallout was made by E P Hicks

performing the role that later became the responsibility of the Theoretical Predictions Group [Trans., p .5525].

6.1.20 Both of the Totem tests were delayed owing to easterly winds which would have contaminated the campsite, the first test was delayed by a week and the second test by two days [RC 246, T12/54].

Totem 1 Cloud

6.1.21 The meteorological conditions for Totem 1 were unusual, both for the lack of wind shear up to 18 000 feet and the

constancy of the temperature in the lower 8000 feet [RC 246, T12/54]. The winds at the time of the test were from 260 degrees at the surface, and from 242 degrees at 16 000 feet. The

distribution of fallout depends on the mean winds from the height of the particles in the cloud to the ground and these showed a smaller variation, from 215 degrees at 4000 feet and from 232 degrees at 19 000 feet.

6.1.22 The cloud from the Totem 1 (9.1 kt) explosion rose to a height of 15 000 feet after three minutes. The lack of wind shear meant that 1 the cloud preserved its identity to a

remarkable extent and was clearly visible even after 24 hours'.


The concentration of radioactivity remained high and even aircraft obtaining samples at 1000 miles from Ground Zero were found to be heavily contaminated [RC 246, T12/54j.

6.1.23 The cloud was tracked by aircraft from Woomera and Richmond. Sampling flights were also carried out by two USAF aircraft. The cloud crossed the coastline near Townsville about 50 hours after the explosion. Sampling flights were also carried

out in the Fiji area but no activity was found [RC 246, T12/54].

Totem 2 Cloud

6.1.24 At the time of the Totem 2 test, the atmosphere was very unstable and there was a strong wind shear. The wind direction changed from Oil degrees at 2000 feet to 277 degrees at 20 000 feet [RC 246, T12/54].

6.1.25 The Totem 2 test had a yield of 7.1 kt. The unstable atmosphere allowed the cloud to rise to a sufficiently high level for condensation of entrained water vapour to occur, causing the cloud to continue to rise. The cloud was still rising after five

minutes, and the final height was estimated as 28 000 feet in T12/54 [RC 246]. However, a later analysis of photographs from another camera site showed that the maximum height was

20 100 feet and the top subsequently fell to 19 000 feet [RC 418, TPN42/56, Appendix 3]. The theory of the rising cloud presented in this report satisfactorily explained the new height.

6.1.26 The strong shear in the winds caused the cloud to

disperse so that it could not be easily tracked across the continent. The RAAF could not locate the cloud beyond about 500 km east of Emu [RC 246, T12/54].

6.2 Fallout Monitoring

Totem 1

6.2.1 The Totem 1 test was fired at 0700 hours CST on

15 October 1953. By 1000 hours CST the extent of the fallout in the upwind and cross-wind directions had been established. On the following days, further ground surveys showed that the fallout was in the form of a narrow cone going downwind on a bearing of about 35 degrees from north with a semiangle of about

3 degrees. The close-in fallout had the appearance of small black balls resembling lead shot, but there was a variety of forms from doughnut to pear shape [RC 277, T4/55].

6.2.2 More distant ground contamination from fallout was measured by several instruments mounted in Dakota aircraft which


were flown at a height of 500 feet [RC 237, T7/54 J. Flying conditions over the desert at this altitude were extremely turbulent and the height could only be held to plus/minus 50 feet. The aircraft flew numerous scans across the region of fallout at various distances from Ground Zero. Most of the

flights were between 27 hours and 81 hours after the blast and there was one flight at 277 hours.

6.2.3 Most of the fallout was found along a relatively narrow band which could be detected in a north-easterly direction out to 320 miles. An aircraft scan at 400 miles showed a barely

measurable level of fallout.

6.2.4 There was a general increase in the background count rate of the sensitive detectors used for the aerial survey at large distances which was attributed by Cambray and Munnock to an

enhancement of atmospheric activity [RC 237, T7/54j. For the air still to be generally active several days after the explosion would imply a very high resuspension of fine particulates from the ground or a complex wind structure. It is more likely that the increase of background counts was produced by contamination of the aircraft. In either case, the fact that the count rate was independent of height suggests it was not due to fallout on the ground.

6.2.5 To make use of the results from the detectors in the aircraft, it was necessary to convert the count rates to dose rates on the ground. This was difficult because of the

calibration and geometric factors and the unknown energy spectrum of the gamma rays from the deposited fallout. In Report T7/54, the calibration factors were determined by using a cobalt-60 source to give the relationship between the count fates from the detectors in the aircraft and the dose rate at the source

500 feet away. The authors were not very confident about their estimated dose rates and their results did not agree with the dose rates measured on the ground close to Ground Zero.

6.2.6 In view of the uncertainty in the cobalt-60 calibration technique, it was decided at AWRti to adjust the data from the aircraft surveys so that they would agree with the results from the ground survey. In the first attempt, the calibration factors for the various detectors on the aircraft were varied and different calibration factors were determined for each of the Totem tests [RC 261, TC9/55j. This analysis resulted in a large discrepancy between the estimates of total amounts of

contamination from the two tests.

6.2.7 Mr ti M L Beale [RC 281, TPN124/55J repeated the

analysis but assumed that the detector calibration factors were the same for both Totem tests. This was more reasonable because the time interval between the last survey for Totem 1 and the first survey for Totem 2 was only 48 hours. The results of this

analysis substantially agreed with the fallout radioactivity for Totem 1 derived in TC9/55, and gave a substantially more believable result for Totem 2.


6.2.8 There was considerable interest at Aldermaston in using the fallout data from the Totem tests to validate various meteorological and fallout models that were being developed for the following tests. The interest resulted in the re-analysis of

the fallout data starting from the original chart records obtained from the aircraft [RC 316, TPN58/56j. New and improved estimates of the width and intensity of the fallout at various

distances were produced. The end result was a plot of the peak density of deposited activity for Totem 1 as a function of distance from Ground Zero. The line of best fit goes from 0.37 Ci/m2 at 50 km to 0.13 Ci/m2 at 100 km and 0.047 Ci/m2 at

200 km (all activities corrected to H+l hour) [RC 316, TPN58/56, Figure 6j. It should be emphasised that these are average values; it appears from the data that the fallout was not uniform but did vary by about a factor of two from the smooth curve.

6.2.9 Beale presented his results in terms of deposited activity by using the assumption that 1 Ci/m2 of fission product contamination would cause a gamma dose rate of 10 r/h. This was the relationship generally used by the British prior to 1956 when

Hicks and MacDougall [RC 299, T25/58j argued that recent data showed that a dose rate of 5 r/h from 1 Ci/m2 on a rough surface was a better value. As the dose rates are what were measured, it is better to convert Beale's results in the previous paragraph to

dose rates (corrected to H+l), i.e. 3.7 r/h at 50 km, 1.3 r/h at 100 km and 0.47 r/h at 200 km.

6.2.10 In his submission to the Royal Commission, D J Vallis provided a re-analysis of the Totem 1 fallout data using information on the calibration of the detectors that was not available to Beale [RC 315j. His results are probably the best estimate of the dose rates from fallout for Totem 1. His curve

gives values of 5.8 r/h at 50 km, 2.0 r/h at 100 km and 0.62 r/h at 200 km. These values are in reasonable agreement with those of Beale discussed in the previous paragraph.

6.2.11 The cloud from Totem 1 passed over or close to the

Wallatinna station which was 173 km from Ground Zero. The dose rate on the centre-line of the fallout at 173 km from Vallis' analysis is 0.82 r/h (H+l fission products). From the scatter in the individual data points, it is estimated that an upper limit

to the dose rate would be 1.3 r/h. The health effects and visual manifestation of the Black Mist are discussed in Section 6.4.

6.2.12 Using the relationship between contamination and dose rate that was accepted at the time, it is clear from the Vallis results that the fallout along the plume exceeded the ' zero risk' level defined in ArtRE Report A32 for a distance of 500 km

(270 nautical miles). The 'slight risk' level was exceeded out to a distance of 220 km (118 nautical miles). These levels of contamination exceeded the levels predicted using the supposedly conservative assumptions made in Report A32.


6.2.13 Under conditions in which the wind direction was constant with height, Report A32 predicted that the fallout from a 5 kt explosion would exceed the 1 zero risk' level to a distance of 120 miles. In his evidence before the Royal Commission, Mr R A Siddons calculated that Report A32 underestimated the

levels of fallout down the centre-line by a factor of three, even allowing for the 10 kt yield of Totem 1 [Trans., p.5414J.

6.2.14 Fallout from Totem 1 in the vicinity of Wallatinna and Welbourn Hill did exceed the limits proposed in Report A32 for inhabited locations. It follows that Totem 1 should not have been fired when it was. The predicted and observed fallout from

Totem 1 produced unacceptable levels of contamination on areas where people could be expected to be.

Totem 2

6.2.15 Fallout from Totem 2 near Ground Zero was measured by ground surveys out to a distance of about 5 miles [RC 238, T4a/55J. The strong wind shear for this test meant that the dose rate was below 10 r/h (corrected to H+l hour) beyond

5 miles.

6.2.16 The more distant fallout to 160 miles was measured by instruments on the Dakota aircraft, as has been explained for Totem 1 [RC 237, T7/54J. The cloud travelled south after the explosion and then swung to the east passing to the north of Mt Eba. The radioactivity on the ground was clearly evident in

the count rate from the detectors on the aircraft out to

160 miles.

6.2.17 The first attempt to match the results from aerial survey with those from the ground survey suggested that the total amount of fallout from Totem 2 was markedly less than that for Totem 1 [RC 261, TC9/55]. However, this discrepancy largely disappeared when the results were re-analysed, assuming that the calibration factors were the same for both Totem tests |_RC 281, TPN124/55j. The re-analysis (discussed earlier in para.6.2.8)

increased the dose rates for the fallout from Totem 2 and produced a total amount of fallout consistent with that for Totem 1. The main difficulty was the poor quality of the data for Totem 2 between 5 and 46 miles (8 and 74 km) from Ground

Zero, which meant that different methods of analysis produced markedly different results. Beale [RC 663b, TPN37/56j suggested that the problem was the navigational accuracy of the scans for

the first two Totem 2 flights. The measured winds at the time of the explosion gave a fallout direction substantially different from that reported from these two runs.

6.2.18 The intermediate and distant fallout from Totem 2 was less than the fallout from Totem 1. At a distance of 100 km the peak contamination was about 0.035 Ci/in corresponding to a dose


rate of 0.35 r/h (both corrected to H+l/hour) [RC 316, TPN5B/56J. The fallout was less than the 1 zero risk' level, i.e. 9 mCi/in , for exposure beginning three hours after the explosion at all distances beyond 185 km.



(a) The Totem 1 test was fired under wind conditions that the study in Report A32 had shown would produce unacceptable levels of fallout. Measured fallout from Totem 1 on inhabited regions did exceed the limits proposed in Report A32.

(b) The firing criteria used for the Totem 1 test ignored some of the recommendations of Report A32 and did not take into account the existence of people at Wallatinna and Welbourn Hill down-wind of the test site.

(c ) The weather conditions at the time of tiring Totem 2

satisfied the criteria for firing.

6.3 Safety of Aborigines

Aborigines - Location and Lifestyle

6.3.1 From an unknown time - but certainly for long before the arrival of white people - Aboriginal people had used the lands around where the tests took place. The knowledge and use of these lands provided the people with life sustenance systems which impressed some of those outsiders who first came in contact with them:

1 During the latter part of the last century, explorers travelling through the north-west of South Australia described the Pitjantjat^ara and Yankunytjat^ara as people suffering no obvious deprivations in an

environment depressingly inhospitable to Europeans. They told of natives whose easy, ingenious adaptations to the land revealed a long-established confidence in dealing with the rigours of the desert.‘ [Toyne and

Vachon 1984, pp.21-2]

6.3.2 Aboriginal people interacted with, and often helped, these explorers who were later followed by dingo bounty hunters, missionaries and pastoralists.

6.3.3 Traditionally, Aboriginal people moved around the lands. From both old and new, permanent and semi-permanent


locations, people were constantly traversing tfte country. Traditionally, there were the hunting and gathering activities with groups of up to 25 men, women and children travelling through the deserts, the groups constantly forming and

re-forming, splitting and re-combining. Ceremonial activities also were a reason for movement, engaging people in travel over large distances, e.g. from the Everard Ranges to Ooldea, bringing

together large numbers of people, and continually re-establishing spiritual and social connections. There were also the less formal and less regular movements which people would undertake to visit their relatives and their friends.

6.3.4 After contact with non-Aborigines, another pattern of movement emerged but did not displace the traditional, less permanent re-locations described above. During this century, people migrated from the north-west to Ooldea in 1917 following

construction of the transcontinental railway; there was movement of people from the Warburton Ranges and the Gibson Desert to Laverton, Mt Margaret, Kalgoorlie and Wiluna during the 1920s; further movement occurred from Granite Downs to Oodnadatta in the

same decade; from the Everard Ranges the Yankunytjat]ara people moved eastwards along the Alberta River; and Pitjantjat jara people moved into the Everard Ranges from the Mann and Tomkinson Ranges.

6.3.5 Thus, by the time the testing grounds were declared prohibited to their traditional owners, traditional movement patterns had been modified by changing centres of population, i.e. by the out-migration and by the introduction of stations, missions, and the railway. But the movements had not ceased to occur. The country was still used for hunting and gathering, for

temporary settlements, for caretaker ship and spiritual renewal, and for traverse by people who moved from locations to other areas within and outside what became the prohibited zones. The immediate areas used for the nuclear tests and those areas surrounding them were not totally uninhabited wastelands as evidence produced before the Royal Commission from Aboriginal and non-Aborigina1 sources shows.

Consideration of Aborigines - The Patrol Officer

6.3.6 Some consideration of the safety of Aborigines was given during the decision to establish the long-range guided missile facility at Woomera. This consideration led to the appointment of a patrol officer who eventually played a large

role in the nuclear test series.

6.3.7 In November 1946, the Federal Cabinet endorsed the recommendations of the Minister for Defence that there be established in Australia facilities for research and development

work on guided missiles and supersonic pilotless aircraft. The firing point for the missiles was to be near Mt Eba in South Australia:


'The direction of the centre line of the range is such that, if prolonged, it would pass roughly midway between Broome and Port Hedland in Western Australia - that is, in the middle of the Ninety Mile Beach. The

first step is to build a short range of about

300 miles, designed to be capable of extension at a later date, and to reserve the necessary area.' LRC 819, p.18, Statement by the Minister for Defence 22 November 1946J

Cabinet also directed that

1 In view of the numerous representations which have been received in regard to the safety and welfare of aborigines in the proposed range area, it is suggested that the Australian Guided Projectiles Committee might be requested to report specially on the measures to

ensure this. The Director of Native Affairs should be co-opted as a member for the purpose, and the Committee might also be empowered to consult any other authority or person it may desire. 1 [RC 819, p. 2, Report by Australian Committee on Guided Projectiles 31 January

and 1 February 1947 j

6.3.8 Both co-option and consultation occurred with

representatives of the relevant Northern Territory, South Australian and Western Australian Aboriginal authorities attending a meeting on 1 February 1947 along with anthropologists Professor A P ElKin and Dr Donald Thomson, and the medical doctor

Charles Duguid. Consideration of Aboriginal welfare focused on two major issues:

(a) the physical danger from falling/exploding missiles; and

(b) acceleration of the de-tribalisation process in an uncontrolled and destructive fashion.

6.3.9 The first of these was regarded as placing Aborigines at minimal risk and at no greater risk than any other people. The second risk, it was felt, could be minimised through appropriate government intervention, and the Australian Committee

on Guided Projectiles (ACOGP) recommended that

‘16. As the result of discussions to this stage, it was apparent that the welfare of aborigines, both within and without the Central Reserves, must be provided for. The most effective means of ensuring this would be by

the appointment of suitable patrol officers by the appropriate Aborigine Protection Authorities, for whicn purpose the Commonwealth should provide the requisite funds. It was pointed out that, at present the

Commonwealth was training a number of patrol officers, some of whom might be made available for this purpose.


'17. It was agreed that it was desirable to initiate action now to appoint one patrol officer, for the purposes enumerated above, for the South Australian section of the range in the early stages and before it

reaches the Reserves . 1 [RC 819, p.37]

6.3.10 The first Patrol Officer, W B MacDougall, was appointed as Temporary Patrol Officer on 4 November 1947. Initially regarded as an officer of the Department of Works and Housing under the direction of the Project Officer at Woomera,

MacDougall's early work did not involve him in the making of any 'distant journeys or contacts' [RC 819, p.46] although he did undertake certain inspection trips. Such was the limit of his early work that he was not provided with any transport facilities of his own and had to rely on the use of LRW Project vehicles,

'with some disadvantage to the Project' [RC 819, p .46].

6.3.11 In May 1949, MacDougall was transferred, as Native Patrol Officer, to the Department of Supply and Development after which he began to undertake more regular and lengthy patrols from his base at Woomera.

6.3.12 MacDougall's early patrols were influenced by the fact that the range for the Woomera project was extended in stages. Thus, initially, as the range itself was still close to Woomera, MacDougall's patrols consisted of visits to neighbouring stations where the location and numbers of Aborigines were easy enough to ascertain (see, for example, Patrol Report of 9 October 1949). As the range extended further north-west in 100-mile stages, MacDougall's patrols accordingly increased their areal coverage, eventually bringing him into the south-eastern portion of the Central Reserve.

6.3.13 A number of factors need to be introduced here, for they carry over to consideration of Aboriginal safety during the later nuclear tests. These are the increasingly large areas which had to be patrolled by one man, the consequently increasing variations in Aboriginal lifestyles which had to be considered,

the way in which MacDougall interpreted his responsibilities, and the way in which he expressed his interpretation to the

authorities operating within a complex bureaucratic structure.

6.3.14 One of the early patrols of MacDougall, on

9 October 1949, covered 358 miles [RC 819, p.54]. The distance had increased to 462 miles by January of the following year [RC 819, p . 58], and by July of 1950 had extended to 1292 miles [RC 819, p.71]. By March 1952, MacDougall was planning to

traverse over 2000 miles and his actual journey later that month covered 2166 miles [RC 819, p.121]. This latest patrol took him into the southern portion of the Central Reserve, itself extending over more than 60 000 square miles.

6.3.15 As indicated, the early patrols to nearby grazing properties, sometimes including railway sidings and wells,


involved mainly easy head counts with some consideration being given to general Aboriginal health and welfare. As the patrols extended further though, resulting from further extensions of the Range, the emphasis of MacDougall's investigations became both broader in scope and finer in detail. For example, the Patrol

Report of 19 June to 4 July 1950 states

1 1. Object;

'a. To ascertain the true native position and

movements thereof in relation to L.R.W.E.R. Prohibited Area Zone 1 and projected Prohibited Area Zone 2; and

'b. To plan for their future safety and welfare in connection with Range activities.' lRC B19, p.71J

6.3.16 By early 1952, when he was planning to patrol into the Central Reserve, MacDougall wrote

'The objects I have in view are as follows:

'(a) Discover the number of aborigines living in that area.

'(b) How many of them, and to what extent they will be affected by future Range activity, paying special attention to ceremonial grounds and hunting areas within the Reserve. Ceremonial grounds and the homeland of different tribal groups are of paramount

importance to tribal communities; hunting grounds to the physical welfare of the individuals. The

importance of hunting grounds varies according to seasons and weather conditions.

'(c) If possible, determine the existence or

non-existence of a tribe alleged to be living west of the Everard Range, whom it is reported have made very little contact with whites.

'(d) Collect information that will indicate what measures will be necessary in the future to ensure the welfare of abo communities within and without the Central Reserve; particularly the affect Lsicj of

contacts made by survey and working parties, and the manning of OPs.

'(e) Collect any information which may be useful to the Project, ground features, accessibility, weather conditions, etc.' [RC 819, p.lllj

6.3.17 Thus, as the distances of the patrols increased and the scope of their objectives widened, the uncertainties and unknowns in MacDougall's work correspondingly grew. In 1950 he felt he had accounted for


'...all aborigines south of the Central Reserve with the possible exception of a tribe reported to be occupying the sandhill country somewhere between Goober Pedy and Laverton in Western Australia.1 LRC 819, P· 79]

6.3.18 In the same report he writes of the need for 'an

authentic census' to 'protect the Project from adverse criticism' [RC 819, p.80]. Again, the same report suggests

'That there is a need for a reconnaissance to determine to what extent tribal natives are occupying territory within the Central Reserve and over which the Range will pass, and that plans for a reconnaissance should be made as early as possible.' [RC 819, p .83]

6.3.19 In August 1951 he was writing again of Aboriginal people who may have existed but whom he did not see

' The area from 500 mile point to Lake Christopher was occupied by tribal natives who apparently did not know me as although they had a good look at us we did not see them. My experience in the past has been that bush natives who know me will make their presence known as soon as they recognise me. I suspected that natives hunting throughout that particular area are members of

a tribe reported to be avoiding contact with whites as much as possible and occupying mainly the Tomkinson range area. An officer of the Northern Territory Department of Native Affairs told me there exists a

tribe north of the Rawlinson Range who avoid contacts. Those who watched our movement may have been members of this tribe.‘ [RC 819, p.93]

6.3.20 In concluding this report MacDougall expresses further areas of uncertainty when he refers to unconfirmed suspicions of peoples' tribal movements:

' A few natives still travel between the ranges and Ooldea. I saw a woman at Shirley Well, which is

situated on the Officer River between the Everard and the Musgrave Range, whom I saw some time ago at Ooldea. The route they follow I believe is considerably west of Talleringa and Dingo Claypan. I suspect there is

considerable travel east of the Warburton Range but west of Talleringa. There are natives occupying Tomkinson Range, and also the Mann, Peterman and the

Rawlinson Ranges. Also they travel between the Warburton and Musgrave Ranges.

'Owing to the fact that I was travelling as a driver under S/L Garden's organisation I could not spend the time necessary to contact these people. It will be necessary to plan some means of ensuring their safety

in the future.‘ [RC 819, p.101]


6.3.21 The objectives of the March 1952 patrol set out clearly a broad range of unknown aspects of Aboriginal demography and lifestyle which MacDougall obviously felt should be investigated if Aboriginal safety and welfare were to be guaranteed [RC 819, pp.121-4]. That he was not completely successful in achieving his objectives is shown in the report written after the patrol was undertaken:

I The trip was successful in the Northern portion but only partially so in the Southern section. The

information secured in regard to the Mann and

Tompkinson Ranges is as accurate as possible without a personal visit to the area. Accuracy was made possible only because I have known the people concerned for a

long time and Rev R M Trudinger acted as an interpreter when I was in difficulty with the language. The

aborigines from the above areas were visiting


' The natives of the Everard Range area have not known me for so long and they were not prepared to speak so freely of areas with secret life significance. They spoke freely of areas that had no importance to tribal life apart from hunting grounds. It was not possible to determine the degree of importance as commonly under such circumstances they depend upon the inaccessabi1ity

[sic] of the actual sacred areas and the natural camouflage of water supplies to prevent trespassing.

II spoke with representatives of 3 different parties who have recently travelled to and from the Reserve and Ooldea.

' I commenced enquiries at the Musgrave Range, which is occupied by the Pitjantjara [sic] Tribe. Owing to the gradual drift South, which I believe has been going on

for hundreds of years almost imperceptibily, but has accelerated when white contacts occur, it is difficult to determine the boundaries of tribal country.

' I was surprised to find that there are a number of natives still living entirely upon the Northern portion of the Reserve in South Australia. The area over which they travel extends beyond the South Australian border

into the Northern Territory and Western Australia. They show very little interest in those things that can only be got from the white man, and visit the Missions or white communities only once or twice every 2 or 3 years.

11 am sure that the establishment of the Range up to 500 mile point on the Eastern side will have no

detrimental results. I have had no opportunity to investigate the position on the Western side, so cannot express an opinion.1 [RC 819, pp.121-4]


6.3.22 The decision to investigate South Australia for a nuclear test site had been taken by the time of the patrol and what emerges from the patrol reports is that information regarding Aboriginal numbers and movements was incomplete. Areas of uncertainty and areas of the unknown remained. This in itself

is no criticism of MacDougall. One man, in what was effectively about three years, could not be expected to have a complete picture of the demography and lifestyles of the people who varied

from semi-permanent station and mission dwellers to unidentified semi-nomadic tribespeople scattered over and travelling around an area in excess of 100 000 square kilometres.

6.3.23 MacDougall regarded the general welfare of Aboriginal people as the most important of his tasks. It is difficult to tell if this was because of his interpretation of the discussions which led to his appointment, but certainly he used these discussions to justify his viewpoint on what he saw as of paramount importance. The meeting of the ACOGP (1 January 1947) had concluded

1 (b) On the basis of the statement of proposed

activities as affecting the Central Aboriginal Reserves, satisfactory arrangements can be made to ensure the safety and welfare of the aborigines in the proposed range area.

1 (c) The only physical danger to the aborigine, occasioned by the use of the range area as proposed, will be that resulting from an unforeseen eventuality, which, although it cannot be guarded against

completely, can be classified as a remote possibility only.'

1 (f) Any acceleration of the de-tribalization which is now taking place, or interference with the habits of the aborigines and areas of special significance to them, which have existed from time immemorial, can be controlled by the appointment of patrol officers.'

[RC 819, pp.39-40]

6.3.24 In October 1950, MacDougall was to write to the Range Superintendent

'Having read the report by Guided Projectiles Committee on the welfare of aborigines, the following are points I would like to raise for your consideration.

'(1) Aborigines in Zone 1 have benefited by the

establishment of the Range. Their safety is covered by safety measures taken for the safety of white


'(2) Aborigines in proposed Zone 2 and who live

substantially from the land will probably be affected


by Observation Posts. This is to be considered when Observation Post requirements are known.

'(3) Measures necessary for welfare of aborigines on stations surrounding the Reserve.

Ά large portion of these aborigines should be on the Central Reserve. The only way to keep them on the Reserve is to make it more attractive than the station country.

'I believe that an accurate census should be made to discover their number and to what extent they will be influenced by the Range. Also selection and control of personnel contacting them is necessary.

1(4) That the appointment of patrol officers should be Commonwealth and that they should work in conjunction with State Departments. Neither the aborigines nor the Range authorities will concern themselves much about State boundaries.

'(5) That there is a need for a reconnaissance to determine to what extent tribal natives are occupying territory within the Central Reserve and over which the Range will pass, and that plans for a reconnaissance should be made as early as possible.

'(6) That State Department representatives be given an opportunity to attend conferences when work which will affect aborigines is planned.

'(7) Danger to world security of indifference to aborigine population.‘ [RC 819, pp.79-83]

6.3.25 A year later he was to write the following report:

11. On 5 Nov next, it will be four years since 1

arrived at Woomera as NPO, this appointment arising from report made by the "Australian Committee on Guided Projectiles and Welfare of Aborigines located within the Range Area," (tabled in the House of

Representatives by the Minister for Defence on 6 Mar 47). 1

12. On Page 20 of the Report, Sections 16 and 17, the need for Patrol Officer is set out. I was nominated by the South Australian authorities as the first Patrol Officer. Although I clearly understood there would be very little work in connection with aborigines in the early days, I consider at this stage the desires of the authorities are not being met. For almost four years, with the exception of a few weeks' work as set out in previous reports, I have acted as truck driver, bus


driver, switch operator, etc. for Works & Housing, and since transfer to the LWRE, I have assisted Range Overseer.

'3. Soon after my appointment as Patrol Officer, I was appointed as a State Protector, and in this capacity I attended to the wants of a few aborigines who are employed on neighbouring Stations. I arranged transport of sick to Port Augusta, and in some cases, medical attention at Woomera. Three cases of alleged offences against the Aborigines Act were investigated,

and convictions obtained. After the third incident, I was told by this Department that I should be more discreet and concern myself with those aborigines within the Range area only. As a Protector, I consider

it part of my duty to defend them wherever the need arises.

'4. With regard to my appointment as NPO by LRWE, 1 interpreted discussions at the time of my appointment to indicate that as the Range developed, I would be the aborigines' representative, and that my duties would be to: -

(a) Prevent needless or avoidable interference with their way of life, thus minimising the inevitable acceleration of detribalization.

(b) Control contacts by selection of personnel as far as possible, and by accompanying

reconnaissance and working parties which are likely to contact aborigines within and without the Reserve.

(c) Plan measures necessary for their moral and physical welfare.

(d) Patrol areas where contacts have been made.

(e) Work in conjunction with State authorities where aborigines under their control are


'5. Twelve months ago I submitted to Superintendent Range for his consideration, an appreciation of the Native problem affecting the LRW Organization (File 103/1/11). I put forward in this submission several points for consideration. 1 wish to re-submit these with further notes:-

(a) Aborigines in Zone 1:

No problem.


(b) Aborigines in proposed Zone 2:

Investigation of tribe alleged to be living on or near to Southern flank.

(c) Natives on Stations who have left the Reserve Area but who in varying numbers and for varying periods visit the Reserve, particularly that portion which the Range will occupy.

(d) As neither the Range authorities nor the aborigines take into account State boundaries, the Patrol Officer (or Officers) must work in close co-operation with State authorities.

(e) There is, or will be, a very real need for an extensive survey of the territory occupied by aborigines within the area required by the Range, also surrounding country, both within and without the Central Reserve.

(f) Confer with State Departments whenever work affecting aborigines and NPO are concerned.

(g) That some publicity be given to genuine work done by NPO, thus minimising the possibility of adverse criticism such as occurred in discussions between Hitler and Mr. Chamberlain in 1938. 1

16. Why investigations set out in para. 5 (b) and (c) should not be done now while admittedly there is very little else to do, I cannot understand. The time available to the NPO at present would ensure a thorough

investigation and make possible adequate planning before the need arises. To carry out the above

proposals, some equipment and supplies would be necessary - a patrol vehicle equipped with wireless, being main requirement. As the proposed duties in many cases would necessitate some considerable time in places vitally concerned, frequent communications would

not be necessary say, once a week, the commercial network supplied by Flying Doctor Service would be the most practicable. A link with Alice Springs and Kalgoorlie could be arranged. Supplies of petrol and

rations could be forwarded to railhead and mail truck terminus, to be collected by patrol vehicle.

Alternatively, supplies could be picked up by a ferry vehicle (would this mean an Assistant Patrol Officer, or could a driver be supplied) ? I do not forsee any great difficulty, and would be pleased to submit details when such duties are authorized. The above

applied mainly to para.5 (b), (c) and (e) .


'7. Para.5 (d) and (f):

To work in close co-operation with State Departments is essential, as they are responsible for the welfare of the aborigines to the State Governments. I called at the Native Affairs Office, Alice Springs, whilst with

S/Ldr. Garden's recent reconnaissance party, and told them the party had been through their portion of Reserve, also that very little of their territory would be required for the Range. I suggest that I visit the Commissioner of Native Affairs in Pertn with a view to establishing co-ordinated effort and activity. During a discussion some considerable time ago with the South Australian Secretary of the Aborigines Protection Board, he asked me if I needed an Assistant. He looked

surprised when I laughed, and rounded off the

discussion by asking me to communicate with him as soon as I considered there was room for an Assistant. I do not anticipate such a requirement for several years.

' 8. Para.5 (g):

I suggest that some concrete evidence be given to the United Nations or International authorities that the rights of the aborigines are not being disregarded, and that consideration comparable to that shown to the white people concerned with Range activities is in effective progress, e.g. Range Overseer activities, safety measures, compensation, and good relations.

*9. Summary;

I believe:

(a) Action should be taken to establish

co-operation between Native Patrol Officer and State Departments.

(b) (i) Extent of occupation of Southern flank should be determined by visiting the

Warburton Range and collecting information from Western Australian Patrol Officer in that area, from Missionaries, and from natives occupying that area.

(ii) Route followed by natives travelling from Ooldea to Musgrave Range should be determined.

(c) A survey should be made of natives living on Stations near Central Reserve to establish to what extent they are using the Reserve and how

important it is to their tribal life.


(d) A survey should be made of natives known to be living in Northern portion of Reserve, and to what extent the Range area will affect their hunting rights and ceremonial life.

1 There is no great difficulty in the above, if

equipment and supplies are made available.

'10. If the above interpretation is not considered reasonable, I would like the duties of the NPO to be reviewed by LRW Organization, State Aborigines Departments, other rational organizations concerned with native welfare, and Commonwealth authorities.'

IRC 819, pp.105-7]

6.3.26 From this report it is clear that MacDougall saw his task as that of protecting Aboriginal welfare in all its various aspects both within and outside the actual and planned rocket range area. It is equally clear that he was not afraid to

express his views in a forthright manner. And, from the

handwritten comment on the front page of his report, by the Superintendent of the Range, it appears that not everybody shared his views:

' NPO interviewed and generally agreed that he should help local natives as requested and that there is no immediate need for extension of investigations up the range

6.3.27 MacDougall1s concern at the lack of liaison among the different government authorities and between them and him is also reported upon. At this time the laws, and administration of the laws, relating to Aborigines in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia varied; MacDougall himself was

employed by the Commonwealth Department of Supply and had also been appointed as a South Australian State Protector of Aborigines; and the Aboriginal people when they travelled ignored

the existence of the State boundaries which had been superimposed on their traditional and current patterns of movement.

6.3.28 For the Native Patrol Officer's task to be broadened, from that of ensuring safety and welfare of Aborigines in connection with the guided missiles project to ensuring this safety and welfare in relation also to nuclear testing, on the one hand involved a simple administrative decision. On the other hand it brought to the larger task all of the problems attendant on the former. One man had to patrol an increasingly vast area of Australia. He had to investigate people with varying, and

sometimes unknown, demographies, lifestyles, locations and languages. He was strong-willed and knowledgeable but not always correct. Nor was he always supported in his views concerning his role and the role of Aboriginal welfare generally. His tasks had to be carried out within different and uncoordinated government



The Closure of Ooldea

6.'3.29 On 10 June 1952 MacDougall submitted a proposal to undertake a 1 Patrol in conjunction with Mr Beadell1. writing of the Aboriginal people, he says

'3. There are a considerable number who make the Reserve at Ooldea their base. They frequent the East-West Railway line West of Ooldea and as far East as Tarcoola. I plan to investigate the extent of occupation of the country to the North of the railway

line and West of Wynbring Rocks - that is the area of interest to the reconnaissance party.

14. To effectively carry out the above I plan to visit the Ooldea Reserve, and from the men learn of any significant areas. Then, with a guide, visit any such areas and so, in conjunction with Mr Beadell, locate their position, thus establishing their importance, or

lack of importance, to possible range activity. It is planned to leave Woomera on Tue, 17 Jun. ' [RC 819, p.126J

6.3.30 It is implied in the Kerr Report L.RC 587, p. 22] that the closure of Ooldea Mission resulted from the proposed nuclear tests, and, while expressing doubts as to the certainty of this, Brady and Palmer [AB 15, p.8J state

'Whatever the reality, Ooldea would have had to be closed down once the bomb tests started.'

6.3.31 The reality is that the decision to close Ooldea was not directly related to the test program but it did have

implications for Aboriginal safety and welfare then and since.

6.3.32 Relocation of Aboriginal people in the north-west of South Australia had been occurring since late last century and, under the impact of pastoral properties and improved transport, depopulation of certain areas took place. Some Pitjantjatjara

people had moved from their northern homelands south via Everard Park and in an attempt to cater for their needs, Ooldea Mission was established by the United Aborigines Mission (UAM) in 1934.

6.3.33 Brady and Palmer [AB 15, p . 6 J write that people began to travel into Ooldea Mission in large numbers once Harrie Green took control of the UAM in 1936. They go on to say

'The attraction of European food exerted an

extraordinarily strong pull on these people and we had consistent evidence of people spreading the word about rations being available at Ooldea, and even carrying sacks of flour hundreds of miles out into the desert on


their heads to share it with relatives who had not previously tasted it. Food could also be obtained in exchange for dingo pelts and many of our informants hunted dingos further north for this purpose. '

6.3.34 Although Aboriginal people had a strong traditional and spiritual attachment to Ooldea, it became increasingly unsatisfactory as a location for a mission. The 1949 Annual Report of the South Australian Aborigines Protection Board

(SAAPB) [SA 3, Attachment 9 J reported on the scarcity of firewood, game and other natural foods and on the lack of employment for young people. In their response to the Kerr Report, AIRAC [RC 67, p. 21 ] point out that there were also difficulties with water supplies. AIRAC also state that the film

' Bitter Springs', made in 1949 and released in 1950, drew attention to the unfavourable conditions which the Aborigines at the mission had to endure. The 1950 Report of the SAAPB notes that a large pastoral property was being inspected as a possible

future home for the Ooldea people and the 1951 Report announced that this property, the peoples' future home, was Yalata and tnat it had been purchased by the South Australian Government.

6.3.35 MacDougall was well aware of the proposal to close and relocate the mission. On 12 June 1950 he wrote

'It has been proposed to move the Ooldea mission to a more suitable position south of the line. ' [RC 819, p. 74 j


‘Mr Green, Officer-in-Charge of the Ooldea Native Mission, is desirous of moving the existing mission to Yalata. ' [RC 819, p .75J

6.3.36 By November of 1950 MacDougall was lamenting the fact that the missionaries may have been intending to stay where they were:

'...appears to me as if the Missionary Authorities are contemplating remaining at Ooldea. If so I would like to repeat my recommendation that the Mission be moved and add that the Ooldea Area be made a prohibited area

for aborigines, except those legitimately travelling on the train.' [RC 819, p.84J

6.3.37 However, the mission did close. The 1952 Report of the SAAPB states [SA 3, Attachment 9, pp.4-5j:

'When the South Australian Government acquired "Yalata" as a future home for the Ooldea aborigines, it was known that when arrangements for the transfer of the property to Government were completed the Ooldea Mission would be closed. It was anticipated, however,


that a considerable time would elapse before the change could be made. Unfortunately, an internal dispute in the United Aborigines Mission authorities regarding the control of the mission activities in South Australia resulted in the withdrawal on the 24 June, 1952, of all missionaries loyal to the Federal organisation. The

whole of the staff at Ooldea left the Mission on that day and as no substitute staff was available, the Board requested the Koonibba Mission staff to proceed to Ooldea to assemble the natives who had spread over a wide area when they were informed that the Mission would be closed and to convey them to Yalata.1

6.3.38 As it happened, this was precisely during the

MacDougall patrol and, for whatever reason, he prevented at least some people from travelling north to and through what were to become the testing grounds. In his report of the patrol he wrote LRC 819, pp.129-30J:

'3. I first contacted semi-tribal natives at the 416 railway camp. From conversation with them I gathered that the movement of all aborigines from Ooldea to Yalata was imminent. I also gathered that the people

concerned did not clearly understand wnat was to happen. They were under the impression that they were to return to the area in which they were born,

irrespective of any family ties they may have made.

'4. On arrival at the Ooldea Mission next day I found that in fact preparations for the move to Yalata nad commenced. The school children had been sent back to the camp and the staff were to leave on Tuesday the 24th. They expected Missionaries from Koonibba to arrive and supervise the move.

15. The Koonibba people arrived on Monday 23rd and had with them a Police Officer from Fowler's Bay. On Tuesday morning the Police Officer issued rations to all the aborigines and sent a few of them south to Colona Station on the first stage of their trip to Yalata. Over 100 to Tarcoola on their way north. About 100 camped at the siding to be entrained for Western Australia at a later date.

'6. In conversations with the people I discovered that they believed they were being sent to their various destinations and had no option. Some stated that they believed that the State Government intended

establishing a ration depot for them at Bulgunya, Goober Pedy or Mabel Creek. On the arrival of Mounted Constable McLeod from Cook where instructions were to assist in the movement of all aborigines from Ooldea to Yalata, I decided to take charge of those who had gone

to Tarcoola.


'7. M C Ian McLeod accompanied me to Tarcoola and we travelled from there to Bulgunya Station. I contacted 5 groups of aborigines travelling Northwards, some believed that they could make their home either at Bulgunya or Mabel Creek. Most of them wanted to go to Yalata and others were quite willing to do so. I sent

them to the Bulgunya woolshed and told them to stay there until I returned. M C McLeod and I then returned to Ooldea to organise their return and their transport from Ooldea to Colona which is the first stage of the

trip from Ooldea to Yalata.

'8. On arrival at Ooldea I found that the Koonibba Missionaries had explained the position to those who intended going to W.A. and about 90 of them had started for Yalata. Between 20 and 30 had walked along the

line to Watson and stations West of Watson. I arranged with Mr Hans Gaden from Koonibba Mission to have trucks available for the movement of the aborigines at Bulgunya on their return to Ooldea.

19. I returned to Tarcoola by fast goods train on Tuesday 1 Jul 52, and went with M C Curtis to Bulgunya woolshed. Wednesday 2 Jul I supervised the loading of 105 aborigines on 3 trucks, 1 belonged to Bulgunya, 1

to Wilgena and 1 to a fencing contractor. I replaced the petrol used in all three trucks. I asked the

contractor to send his charge for time lost to me. We got to Tarcoola in time to entrain the aborigines on the weekly all stations goods train.

'10. The train arrived at Ooldea on time on Thursday morning. Mr Garden was there with 2 trucks and

immediately transported them to Colona.1

6.3.39 Brady and Palmer however, report that the people were given a choice by the missionaries in where they decided to go:

1 Indeed they asked the people to divide themselves into three groups for this purpose [south to Yalata, west to Cundeelee or north]. Mr Harrie Green (now deceased) wrote in the U.A.M. journal The Messenger of 1.8.52

that the people were given the choice of destination.' [AB 15, p.10]

6.3.40 Brady and Palmer further claim that in 1952 the

majority group at Ooldea was Pitjatjantjara and at the traumatic closure they decided to head north to Ernabella via Bulgunya station where Aboriginal workers were well paid. The

understandably confused people gave in to MacDougall's mixture of persuasion, cajolery and orders and allowed themselves to be transported to Colona and eventually to Yalata [AB 15, p.9].


6.3.41 It is not known if MacDougall1 s reactions to the

peoples' desire to travel north when the mission closed were the result of his knowing that atomic tests were to take place in South Australia. However, the closure of the mission at that time was not a consequence of the future test program.

Emu and Further Patrols

6.3.42 From late June, Beadell set about investigating possible sites for the tests. In August he learned that Penney would be arriving to look over the areas he had chosen, using the Dingo Claypan as a landing base. Emu claypan was selected as the site for the first mainland test during Penney's September visit.

6.3.43 On 18 September 1952, a meeting was held at Dingo

Claypan. The minutes show that those present were Penney, Butement, Bowen, Gates, Worth, Pither, Solandt and Pritchard IRC 819, p.152]. In discussing a suitable site, Penney is recorded as having stated that:

'...the site should be such that -(a) the safety of all personnel in the operation, all homesteads, all inhabited areas and all lines of public transport could be guaranteed.' LRC 819, p.152J


' Under (a), a distance of 100 miles downwind to the nearest point which must be kept free of contamination was necessary.' LRC 819, p.153j

6.3.44 Once it was decided that the Totem series would go ahead, active planning took place and this included the formation of a 'Totem Panel' in Australia and a Totem Executive (TOTEX) in

the United Kingdom. Members of the two groups met in England in early February 1953 and one of the issues discussed was

Aboriginal safety. The Australians assured the British that the NPO for the LRWE , and the LRWE itself, now had considerable experience with Aborigines and that the NPO had investigated and reviewed Aboriginal activities and movements. MacDougall's role

in the nuclear tests was thus discussed and, albeit loosely, defined.

6.3.45 In fact, the Superintendent of the LRWE Range, Group Captain Pither, had recommended, before he left for the UK discussions, that MacDougall investigate the activities of Aborigines in the areas which were to be opened up for the test programme. This is recorded in a note from Newman, the Acting

Superintendent of the Range, to Pritchard, LRWE Chief

Superintendent, on 17 February 1953 LRC 819, p.163J. Newman wrote (of Pither)


'...he thought that it would be desirable to forestall any possible criticism of our own work by sending the Native Patrol Officer into the area in the very early stages.1

Pritchard's reply was that

' is not desired that the Native Patrol Officer should investigate the activities of any natives in the area referred to in the immediate future. ' lRC 819, p.164]

6.3.46 However, Pritchard in a note to this letter sent to Squadron Leader Garden who was doing the 'opening up1 of the area indicates he may have been postponing the decision until the return of Brigadier Lucas who was also in the UK (Lucas was the officer named to lead the Services group to carry out

construction at Emu).

6.3.47 Newman, however, regarded the investigatory patrol as urgent, writing back to Pritchard on 3 March 1953

'(a) The owner of Granite Downs - a Mr. Davies - has asked the aboriginals concerned to select a site for a well for cattle in the general Oolarinna area

(approximately 28 S : 134 E).

1A well in this vicinity would permit cattle to graze unacceptably close to the Claypan area under immediate consideration, especially since periodical visits from stockmen would result.

1(b) Areas to an unspecified depth south of the Everard Range are still being used for aboriginal hunting and ceremonial purposes. Oolarinna and Oolala Oolala

(unlocated but probably west of Oolarinna) were specifically mentioned as sacred. 1 |_RC 819, p.l66j

6.3.48 Upon the return of Lucas and Pither in April 1953, MacDougall was dispatched to carry out ' a patrol in the area Granite Downs - The Officer to determine what Aboriginal activity exists there, and what is their radius of action' LRC 819,


6.3.49 Beadell gave evidence that he found no signs of recent Aboriginal activity while looking for a test site but, apart from this, MacDougall's patrol was the only fully investigatory patrol conducted prior to the Totem series [Trans., pp.3507-8].

6.3.50 The patrol did provide useful information. MacDougall mapped what he regarded as the traditional Yankunytjatjara territory, including their present limits of occupation and the water sources which they used while hunting for dingo scalps in

August, September and October. He counted the numbers of people


at Everard Park, Granite Downs, New Lambina and Wallatinna where he said people confined themselves during November through July and concluded that

1 I believe no action is really necessary other than to avoid arousing interest in that area, or making any reference to white man activity.' [RC 819, p.180j

6.3.51 Although the patrol, from 18 April 1953 to 29 May 1953, was extensive, was no doubt carried out as thoroughly as one man could do it, and the report was expressed in MacDougall ‘ s usual forthright manner, a number of uncertainties remained. Although MacDougall felt he had obtained the information he wanted, he wrote 1 The main difficulty was due to the lack of co-operation by

the tribesmen' LRC 819, p. 176 j; he reported that there may be rock holes and soaks which he did not locate; and he further wrote

1 I am not aware of any occupants of the Ngalea Tribal area. There are persistent rumours of aborigines occupying that area. I have not been able to contact anyone who has actually seen Natives there.' IRC 819, p.180]

6.3.52 In terms of what he did find out, potential questions for the authorities were indicated. Despite MacDougall's disclaimer that people did not use the area any more. Emu claypan was in the traditional Yankunytjatjara lands; what he described as the 'nearest family territory still occupied...Oolarinna'

[RC 819, p.180] is only 140 km from Emu; one man was described as travelling south of Pugla; n ja which is 105 km from Emu; and MacDougall's mapped line of 'Limit of Actual Occupation' is about 100 km from where the test took place. Despite Penney's need for

a 100 miles (160 km) downwind clearance, the known movements of people, and the continuing rumour of unlocated groups, the authorities do not appear to have taken up these questions. As

the later Black Mist and Pom Pom incidents showed, both locations and movements were not adequately monitored.

6.3.53 For the patrol of Apri1-May 1953, MacDougall was 1 instructed to confine his activities to investigation only' [RC 819, p.175j. Later he was to take part in warning briefings but these appear to have been only of white property people, not Aborigines.

6.3.54 In general, the main concern for Aboriginal safety appears to have been in relation to their coming close to or traversing the actual test site. The Totem Panel's Fourth

Meeting (2 April 1953) reports in the Minutes, under the heading Aboriginals:

1 The Chairman invited attention to two problems involving aborigines which might arise after the tests, viz: -


'(a) thefts from the site, and

1 (b) danger of entering contaminated area. ' [.RC dig, P·174j

6.3.55 The Security Plan drawn up for Totem (called Project X200) supports this. Under Aborigines it is recorded

1 The nearest point of the Aborigines Reserve to Emu is approx. 70 miles in a north-westerly direction from Emu. Constant surveys (mainly by air) will oe carried out in this area to enable accurate knowledge to be gained of all movements and locations of natives in the

area. This will necessarily be intensified immediately prior to and for a certain period after the trials and until such time as the area is declared safe by the

R.H. Group. A detailed chart will be maintained by the Project Security Officer showing the location of all natives in the surrounding areas.' [RC 819, p.195J

6.3.56 Since the path of the cloud was to be in a

north-easterly direction, and since the role of the RH Group is mentioned, the fear that Aborigines might enter contaminated areas is again being expressed. C Morrison, the Project Security Officer who drew up the original Security Plan, reinforced this

in his evidence. When asked

‘Whose role did you understand it to be to deal with that question of safety of Aboriginal people?'

he replied

' The health physics people. They made it quite plain that it was their function.1 [Trans., p.9114j

6.3.57 Morrison's evidence and the Security Plan further indicate that it was the immediate test area wnere safety mattered most. Aircraft arriving and departing Emu were to make

'...a wide circuit on approaching site and on take off, keeping a sharp look-out for new tracks, camp fires, vehicles or other signs of entry into the area.' [RC 819, p.222j

Where necessary, land patrols were to be made to investigate any report received from airmen.

6.3.58 From Morrison's evidence the aerial patrols had a diameter of only a mile or two, there was no other specific aerial searching, and, despite the fact that every pilot was spoken to, nothing untoward was ever reported [Trans., pp.9117-8,

9129j, Land patrols were also undertaken but these, too, according to Morrison, were at the most of a 20-mile range [Trans., p.9131j.


6.3.59 The Security Plan also allowed for Trials Warnings:

1 Warnings to stations and natives for safety purposes and possible evacuation of areas adjacent to Emu will be given at a time to be fixed by the Totem Panel.

Accurate surveys of all inhabitants of the surrounding areas will be maintained currently to ensure that at the appropriate time all such persons can be removed from the area.' [RC 819, p.223 ]

6.3.60 Warnings of the trials were conveyed to station

managers in August 1953. Morrison, after being directed by the ASIO Liaison Officer and accompanied by MacDougall, visited Oodnadatta, Welbourn Hill, Granite Downs, Everard Park, Wallatinna and Mt Willoughby (including Arckaringa) between 3 and

5 August 1953. Between 18 and 21 August he visited MacDouall Peak (including the Twins and Ingomar), Mabel Creek, Mt Clarence, Commonwealth Hill and Mulgathing. In each case it was the property manager who was briefed and it was left to him to inform

the Aboriginal people (except at Oodnadatta where it was the collective members of the Community Fund Committee). Morrison in his evidence said that in the case of Wallatinna he assumed that this information was passed on although he did not actually see

or hear this happen. At each place populations of people and grazing animals were recorded [RC 819, p.261].

6.3.61 MacDougall later that month also visited Ceduna, Coorabie and Yalata to check on Aboriginal movements in those areas and the possibility of people moving towards north and west of the test site [RC 819, p.261 ]. In September (17-27) he undertook a patrol to check on the location of the

Yankunytjatjara people counted during his 1952 patrol. Despite finding that the dingo pup hunters travelled further west than he had previously thought, he reported that he had accounted for all of the people noted in his previous report [RC 819, p.271]. On

the day of the Totem 1 test he confidently wrote to the

Superintendent of the Range:

1 There is no fear of Jangkuntjara [sic] natives moving out of pastoral areas, nor is there any possibility of natives based on Missions or Stations in South

Australia moving south of the reserve.1 [RC 819, p.273]

6.3.62 Morrison, at least with hindsight, did not share MacDougall1s confidence that all of the Aboriginal people were necessarily accounted for. While describing MacDougall as 'magnificent' and 1 very sympathetic', he went on to say

'In a vast area like that it would be impossible to guarantee any protection for natives. They could be sitting behind a salt bush and you would never know: even low flying aircraft would not pick them up. So,

in that sense, he would be a foolish man to guarantee


that he could ensure us that there were no natives in the area...' [Trans., p.9116]

6.3.63 Nevertheless, the authorities relied solely on MacDougall's reports and evidently concluded that provided the Aboriginal people stayed where MacDougall reported them to be they could not be in any danger and could not be exposed to any

more risk than any other people. On the first of these points Titterton and Martin had assured the Prime Minister that

'On the basis of the information made available by Sir William Penney we are able to assure you tnat the isolation of the site of the trials precludes any possible damage to habitation or living beings by the

"shock" wave, thermal radiation, gamma rays and neutrons.

'It is possible for us to assure you that the time of firing will be chosen so that any risk to health due to radioactive contamination to our cities, or in fact of human beings, is impossible.' [RC 819, p .207j

6.3.64 The second point, which of course is related to this first point about location, is that, as with Hurricane, no special consideration was given to the lifestyles of Aboriginal people. Facts which could have been provided by MacDougall - of

largely unclothed people moving, sleeping, cooking and eating in unsheltered habitats - were not considered to be of any special relevance. It is not known if these facts were asked for; if they were known to the authorities they were ignored. Even though the people at Wallatinna were only 173 km from Emu, the distinctive characteristics of their living conditions were not considered in relation to the detonation of a 10 kt nuclear bomb.



(a) There was a failure at the Totem trials to consider

adequately the distinctive lifestyle of Aborigines and, as a consequence, their special vulnerability to radioactive fallout.

(b) Inadequate resources were allocated to guaranteeing the safety of Aborigines during the Totem nuclear tests.

(c) The Native Patrol Officer had the impossible task of locating and warning Aborigines, some of whom lived in

traditional lifestyles and were scattered over more than 100 000 square kilometres.

(d) The closure of Ooldea was not directly related to the nuclear tests. However, relocating people at Yalata and


preventing them from returning to Ooldea and places further north marked the beginning of a period during which Aboriginal people were denied access to their traditional lands.

6.4 The Black Mist

6.4.1 One of the most dramatic allegations regarding

Aborigines and the nuclear tests is what has become known as 'The Black Mist Incident'. it became a matter of general public notice after a story appeared about it in The Advertiser in

Adelaide on 3 May 1980. The story was told to a reporter by Mr Yami Lester who claimed that his blindness was a result of the incident. The Royal Commission heard evidence from Lester, from other Aboriginal people who were with him at the time of the

alleged incident, and from other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who claim to have experienced the phenomenon in other locations.

6.4.2 Descriptions of the Black Mist are given in the

detailed discussion of evidence which follows. In essence it is alleged that a black cloud or mist passed over, enveloped and deposited material on people following the Totem 1 explosion. Most of the people affected were at Wallatinna where it is

further alleged that various symptoms of illness occurred. Vomiting, diarrhoea, skin disorders, blindness and deaths have been linked with the alleged phenomenon.

6.4.3 A number of interrelated questions have been addressed by the Royal Commission regarding these allegations:

(a) Did the physical phenomenon known as the Black Mist occur?

(b) Was it a result of Totem 1?

(c) Did it cause illness and death?

(d) Did it cause Yami Lester's blindness?

The Physical Phenomenon

Eyewitness accounts

6.4.4 Yami Lester described his experience at Wallatinna. He heard 'a big bang,...a big noise, an explosion' at the sound of which the other people present started talking, one of them referring to the army. Later, something in the air

'...was coming from the south, black-like smoke. I was thinking it might be a dust storm, but it was quiet.


just moving, as it looks like, through the trees and above that again, you know. It was just rolling and moving quietly. 1 LTrans., p.7117J

6.4.5 The old people at Wallatinna were scared, fearing tnat the phenomenon was a mamu or spirit. They tried to direct it away from their camp with woomeras. Later, said Lester, people were sick with sore eyes, watery eyes and diarrhoea. some people developed skin rashes LTrans., p.7119], and Yami himself had all of these symptoms, in addition to which he claims that he went

temporarily blind in his left eye and permanently lost the sight in his right eye.

6.4.6 At Wallatinna, the Royal Commission heard evidence in group from Kanytji and Pingkayi (Yami's father and mother) , Lily Kanginy, Eileen Brown, Jimmy, Myrtle, Norman and Harry Wallatinna, Andy Tjanyiri, Kunmanara Tjapilyi, Judy Mayawara, Alec Baker and Whiskey Tjukanku. Kanytji, Pingkayi and others

said that they heard the blast [Trans., pp.7180-1J. After the blast, Kanytji 1 thought the smoke was some cloud of some sort, or a mist1 . It came from the south-west, ' ... it was wide, it was fairly low on the ground and it looked black and spreading

out... it was coming slow with the wind pushing it1 [Trans., pp.7182-3J. Eileen Brown reported that 1 when the cloud came over the top of them it sort of turned white and made their personal shadows look queer1. All of the others present also reported

that they saw the cloud, smoke or puyu [Trans., pp.7184-6J.

6.4.7 Pingkayi said that the smoke 'had a really strong smell and she got sick and vomiting' [Trans., p.7189J. Others too, according to Pingkayi, were coughing, vomiting and getting headaches; Jimmy Wallatinna agreed with this [Trans., p.7191J. Pingkayi gave evidence that she, Yami and Kelly got sore eyes

[Trans., p .7190J; Kanytji and Pingkayi said that before the smoke Yami's eyes were okay [Trans., p.7192J. Angelina Lambina gave evidence at Wallatinna that she had been at Wintinna when the puyu passed over, 'black', and 'fairly high' LTrans., p.7205J.

6.4.8 In the Wallatinna group evidence, it was reported that people had died [Trans., p.7190j but because of the unique counting system of the Pitjantjatjara people [Trans., p.7193] and the taboos which operate about mentioning death, the numbers

alleged to have died could not be ascertained. Similarly, the numbers of people actually at Wallatinna when the puyu passed could not be obtained from the people who gave evidence, but

Morrison's and MacDougall's reports (see para.6.3.50 and 6.3.60) put the Aboriginal numbers between 30 and 40.

6.4.9 Mrs Lalli Lennon gave evidence of hearing 'a big

noise...' [Trans., p.7148], 'it rumbled, the ground shook, it was frightening' [Trans., p. 7147]. This was when she was south of Mintabie where, some time after the noise, a black smoke came over from the south. This formed a big cloud which went down to

the ground and over the mulgas. After this, she said, she and


her two children developed fevers, headaches, vomiting and diarrhoea. Her son developed a skin rash at the time, she and the son had sore eyes, and she developed sores on her skin about two weeks later.

6.4.10 Stan Lennon saw a smoke or cloud come over south of Mintabie, saying it was 1 sort of hazy, like a fog or

something... 1 [Trans., p.7168j, it was 'bluish' and 'heading north' [Trans., p.7169]. He said he remembered the children vomiting and Jennifer 'was choking and all sorts of things' [Trans., p. 7170 J. Stan Lennon said he was not aware of Lalli Lennon's skin problems until the 1960s; he also developed skin problems in 1977.

6.4.11 The above witnesses who gave evidence about the Black Mist are all Aborigines. The Royal Commission also heard eye witness reports from non-Aboriginal people.

6.4.12 Mrs A Lander reported seeing a 'strange cloud' LTrans. , p.7097J at about 10 a .m. coming from the south-west towards her at Never Never, about 12-15 miles from Welbourn Hill homestead. She described it in the following way:

'Although it was the colour of a rain cloud, darkish, it did not have the compact, rolling look that a rain cloud would have. It was just a sort of a mass, and it had at the top of it, which was most unusual, like a banner...' [Trans., p.7098]

6.4.13 Mrs Lander said that the cloud could have been in the tops of the mulga trees as she observed it [Trans., p.7099], that fine, sticky dust appeared to fall from it, and that it did not

appear to be accompanied by any wind [Trans., p. 7102 ]. When asked

'So the cloud which you observed would be consistent with a cloud in fact passing through Wallatinna before it got to Never Never?'

Mrs Lander replied 'definitely'.

6.4.14 Mrs Lander later discussed the incident with Mrs Ellen Giles who also gave evidence to the Royal Commission. Because of her state of health, and her unwillingness to give evidence (in which she was encouraged by her daughter), Mrs Giles' evidence is

less than completely satisfactory. However, she did describe a morning dustfall at Welbourn Hill:

'It was not a big storm. It was this mixie sort of

thing, black outside, and it went and it even killed the fruit trees.' LTrans., p.3176]

6.4.15 She said that the fallout was greasy and had to be

washed from the house. Mrs Lander believed from her discussion


with Mrs Giles that the fallout at Welbourn Hill was heavier than she experienced at Never Never.

6.4.16 Mr Ernest Giles tendered a statement to the Royal Commission LRC 679] in which he says that he heard an explosion at Emu and saw 1 a mountain of smoke in the distance'. He was at Ethels Well, about seven miles from Wintinna homestead. About

three hours later a cloud passed over, '...not like a dust storm. It was more like a cloud, except it was a different colour from a rain cloud1. He went on to describe it as a 'weird pinky-orange colour' and said he could not see it dropping anything to the ground. This was on a fairly calm day and the cloud moved


Scientific and Other Evidence

6.4.17 When it was reported in The Advertiser, Yami Lester's story aroused considerable interest. Titterton was quick to respond, stating in the ABC's 'PM' program (14 May 1980) that

'No such thing can possibly occur, I don't know of any black mists. No black mists have ever been reported until this scare campaign was started...The radioactive cloud is in fact at 30,000 feet, not at ground level. And it's not black...

'...Now I'm not sure, if you investigate black mist, sure your going to get into an area where mystique is the central feature and you'll never be able to

establish or not.' LRC 800, p.800120]

6.4.18 Asked if he would support an investigation into the stories he answered:

'No that would be a complete waste of money and time.' LRC 800, p.800120]

6.4.19 A note prepared by the UK Ministry of Defence also discussed the idea of a black mist:

'The paper (302 of 9.5.80) suggests that a group of up to 45 tribal aboriginals were enveloped in a "rolling black mist" after the British detonated a powerful "A" bomb in the South Australian desert in 1953. The 1953

shots were tower shots and there is no way that any phenomenon corresponding to this description could have been experienced at a distance of 170 km NE of Emu Field (21.5.80).' lRC 800, p.800156]

6.4.20 The assumption was that such a phenomenon could not have occurred. Nevertheless, in the face of continuing news media attention and questions in the Federal and South Australian


Parliaments, the Federal Government decided to have the matter investigated.

6.4.21 On 18 September 1980, the Hon D S Tnomson, then

Minister for Science and the Environment, sought the assistance of the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council (AIRAC) to determine whether the occurrence of 1 black mists' in Central Australia was due to the nuclear tests. AIRAC, in the Report AIRAC 9, agreed

'... to determine to the extent now possible the nature and the distribution of fallout from the nuclear tests, identify the potential harmful effects of this fallout, and express an opinion on the effectiveness of the arrangements made to protect the health of the

Australian public during the nuclear tests.' [AIRAC 1983, p .3 J

6.4.22 This term of reference, which subsumed the more

specific Black Mist enquiry, was part of a broader investigation which resulted in the AIRAC 9. This investigation and the report are discussed in detail in Chapter 15.

6.4.23 With regard to AIRAC's conclusions on the occurrence of the alleged physical phenomenon, AIRAC conceded that, at least, the cloud from an explosion could have been observed:

1 It is uncertain whether or not the detonation could have been heard at Wallatinna, but it is evident that the passage of the cloud over or near Wallatinna would have been visible for a considerable distance to either

side of its path...' [AIRAC 1983, p.49J


1 It is possible that the physical accompaniments of the nuclear tests were observed by Aboriginals and misconstrued as harbingers of disaster.' lloc.cit.J

6.4.24 AIRAC also reached the conclusion that, given

prevailing meteorological conditions, blast yields and distances from all the tests at Emu and Maralinga, such an observed phenomenon at Wallatinna could have been related only to the Totem 1 test at Emu.

6.4.25 AIRAC also concluded that

1 The precautions taken to ensure that Aboriginals

living in the area were not endangered by the nuclear

tests were carefully planned and executed, and AIRAC

has found no evidence that any Aboriginals were injured by the nuclear tests.' [ibid., p . 2]


fa.4.26 AIRAC 9, though, was certainly not the last word on the subject. Allegations of the Black Mist and its consequent harmful effects were again raised in England in The Observer on 3 April 1983. On 6 April, Dr F Morgan, Deputy Director,

Materials and Explosives, Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE), wrote to the Director-General of the Meteorological Office drawing his attention to The Observer article and asking whether it was possible for the phenomenon to have occurred. Preliminary investigations by the Special Investigations and

Boundary Layer Research Branches of the Meteorological Office suggested that possibilities could not be ruled out of

(a) debris being carried so far over the ground by low level winds; or

(b) debris at higher levels falling out at the

locations reporting the Black Mist.

6.4.27 A meeting held at AWRE resulted in a decision to

undertake detailed modelling of the dispersion of the Totem 1 cloud. Dr W T Roach, Assistant Director of the UK Meteorological Office, was asked

1 ... to estimate possible levels of air concentration and deposition of test debris in the vicinity of the affected sites, while Mr D G Vailis of AWRE was briefed to estimate the degree of radioactivity associated with my estimates.1 LRC 253, p.2J

This investigation was reported in AWRE Safety Division Technical Note No 8/84, August 1984, entitled 1 Transport of Debris From the British Nuclear Test in South Australia on 15 October 1953' LRC 253].

6.4.28 The model which Roach and Vailis constructed has as its interrelated elements known facts, estimates and assumptions which form the basis for mathematical and statistical

calculations. They take as known that

(a) the rising convective boundary layer (CBL) can reach 1500 metres by mid-afternoon and entrain descending particles;

(b) wind movements were generally south-west, light at the surface and increasing gradually with height;

(c) there was little wind shear;

(d) the cloud preserved itself as a visible entity for at least 24 hours.

6.4.29 The AWRE estimates of particle size distribution suggested that there was a generally log-normal distribution of mass about an aerodynamic diameter (ad) of 20 micrometres for the


main cloud with a standard deviation (sd) of a factor of 3. For the stem, the equivalent estimates were 60 micrometres and 4 respectively. It was further estimated that nine minutes after burst (when the heat energy had largely dissipated and the debris became subject to the normal atmospheric processes of turbulent diffusion, deformation and gravitational settling), the cloud consisted of a stem of about 1 Km in diameter topped by a main cloud extending in length from 2.7 to 4.6 Km and 3.7 km in width.

6.4.30 Simplifying, and other, assumptions taken for the model were that

(a) the main cloud was a sphere 2.6 km in diameter with its base at 2.2 km altitude;

(b) eighty-five per cent of the total mass was in the main cloud, the rest being in the stem; and

(c) the wind speed at the top of the CBL where debris was being entrained was very little faster than the mean wind speed in the CBL below.

6.4.31 For mathematical purposes, the stem was divided into horizontal slices each with its load of debris with the particle size distribution based on the AWRE estimates. It was then further assumed that the slices as a unit followed the wind profile with the particles moving downward, subject to normal gravity and air resistance, from one slice to another, the diameter of the particle sizes determining their terminal velocity.

6.4.32 For some later calculations, to see the effect of different particle size distributions, it was assumed that the size distribution was uniform throughout the cloud and could be centred on an ad of 40, 60 or 90 micrometres with an sd of a

factor of 4.

The model was divided into two phases:

(a) a fallout/entrainment phase for which were calculated the time, location and rate at which each slice of debris was entrained by the CBL after falling from higher levels; and

(b) a diffusion phase which evaluated the

concentration of the entrained material within the CBL as a function of space and time.

Calculations were then carried out for the 1 stem only' material and for the 1 whole cloud1 dispersion with varying particle sizes.

6.4.33 For the 'stem only1 material, the model showed that after five hours 10 per cent of the stem debris remained above the CBL with two thirds of it having been deposited on the


ground. The remaining fraction of the stem debris in the CBL reached a maximum of about 20 per cent between GZA+4 hours (GZA is nine minutes after detonation) [see Appendix A] and GZA+5 hours and with the entrainment process taking place under

differing wind conditions as the CBL rose, fallout material from the stem was drawn into a curtain roughly perpendicular to the direction of movement. Local concentration of entrainment 'could have been seen feeding into the top of the CBL perhaps as a

"billowing" or "rolling" cloud1 [RC 253, SDTN 8/84, pp.6-7j.

6.4.34 Roach and Vallis went on to say that

1 After entrainment, the model "immediately" reduces this concentration by two or more orders of magnitude. In practice, this process may be lumpy and uneven, while mesoscale fluctuations in the wind field which are always present (but cannot be modelled here) will

also introduce unevenness. Therefore the presence of local pockets of concentration intermediate between the mean CBL value and that above it probably occurred. They would probably be limited in horizontal extents

(say 1-3 km) but large enough to have been noticeable as local visibility reductions - perhaps as the reported "black mist".1 [RC 253, SDTN 8/84, p.7]

The model further suggested that the local concentrations of stem debris in the CBL would have reached Wallatinna at about GZA+3 hours and 45 minutes with a reduced rate of entrainment when it reached Welbourn Hill.

6.4.35 When variations in assumed particle sizes (para.6.6.30) were fed into the model, an even more dramatic conclusion was reached:

1 The horizontal visibility within the boundary layer would not have been significantly affected in spite of the large mass concentration: visibility is rougnly proportional to the ratio of particle size to mass concentration; the increase in mass concentration is more than offset by the increase in mean particle size. However, the cloud would have been seen settling on top

of the boundary layer, and would have stretched from horizon to horizon near the centre of the cloud. It would have been strange and awesome sight to anyone beneath it. A fine 1 drizzle' of black particles would

also have been noticed.' [RC 253, SDTN 8/84, p.8J

6.4.36 On the point of the observed physical phenomenon, Roach and Vallis concluded

1 The models constructed on the available data on the meteorology and debris cloud show that the sites reporting the "black mist" received fallout from the British test on 15 October 1953 and that debris being


entrained into the convective boundary layer could have been of sufficient mass concentration and of

appropriate particle sizes to have been visible to observers on the ground in the area of Wallatinna or Welbourn Hill and indeed might have had an appearance similar to that described.1 [RC 253, p.ll]

6.4.37 In a commentary on the Roach and Vallis paper [attached as part of RC 253, Commentary on AWRE Safety Division Technical Note: SDTN 8/84, 18 September 1984J, W N Saxby said

1 (a) it is a possibility that there may have been a visible phenomenon in the Wallatinna and Welbourn Hill area on 15 October 1953 that might have had an

appearance similar to that described by Aboriginals...' [RC 253, p.l]

6.4.38 To accompany his evidence, and at the request of the Royal Commission, Roach tendered a second statement [RC 311 j in which he took some consideration of local fluctuations in fallout, effects of local topography, the role of turbulence and the size distribution of particles. In evidence, this statement

and the original Roach-Vallis paper were discussed at length with Dr Roach reiterating that the main elements of the model are

(a) where the particle mass is most concentrated by reference to height above the ground;

(b) the height of the cloud as a separate element to reflect that concentration; and

(c) the rate at which the CBL develops during the course of the morning and in particular the rate at which it was developing as the cloud approached Wallatinna. [Trans., p.5640]

6.4.39 He explained that, after discussions with Vallis about fallout observations, it was decided that a Gaussian rather than a power law distribution of particle sizes was the more

realistic. A further assumption was made that the Gaussian distribution for the stem material would have its maximum particle concentration at a diameter of 60 micrometres. In his statement he said that

1 The particular choice of 60 micrometres for the mean aerodynamic diameter of particles in the stem in SDTN 8/84 happens to be close to the optimum for

producing maximum fallout near Wallatinna.1 [RC 311, p. 3]

6.4.40 Roach presented the results of nine variations of the model in his second statement [RC 311] and compared each with the original report, SDTN 8/84. Roach had, by this stage, reached the conclusion that the most likely 1 new1 conditions for a Black


Mist could result from a local increase in the height of the CBL and for 50 per cent of the debris being concentrated two-thirds of the way up the stem.

6.4.41 He stated that the local increase in the growth of the CBL was not inconsistent with observations of the behaviour of the cloud elsewhere. With regard to the distribution of the debris, he did not feel competent to comment, preferring that

this be left to Siddons and Vallis. He did, however, suggest that

'All I can say is that I have been able to fiddle the model to produce a black mist. If it is shown that the mass distribution in the cloud was fundamentally different from the uniform then I think it is quite

likely, but one would have to be able to show t h a t . ' LTrans., p .5658]

6.4.42 Siddons estimated the stem debris at about 50 per cent of the total mass but added that this could range from 30-70 per cent [Trans., p. 5700]. Vallis held out for a much lower 15 per cent but admitted that this was quite speculative.

6.4.43 Saxby stated several times in his evidence [Trans., p .6102] that after reading the Roach-Vallis material he was converted to believing that the Black Mist story had credibility.

6.4.44 In Australia Dr G Watson presented statements LRC 561J and gave evidence concerning the Black Mist. Watson was mainly concerned with radiological aspects, but he did write

1 The main cloud positions are shown because there is no doubt that, whatever may have been the case for the entrainment "curtain", the main cloud would have been a conspicuous object and visible for many miles.1

[RC 561, Annexure, p.9]

6.4.45 It should also be noted that Watson assumed a mean particle size of 20 micrometres and particle size is relevant to both the observed phenomenon and radiological activity. Watson based this assumption on data provided from US tests up to 1962. However, as the paper by J D MacDougall [RC 661] shows, the

Australian and US tests are not directly comparable. Comparing, for example, a model developed by A V Shelton for US atomic clouds with data from Operation Buffalo, MacDougall writes LP·7 J

1 Comparison of the Buffalo results with the Shelton model showed considerable discrepancies between the two. The lognormal distribution of contamination with particle size gave only a moderate fit with experiment,

the measurements implying too many small particles. The distribution of activity with height showed a higher proportion of activity in the stem from Buffalo than from the Shelton model.'


6.4.46 Watson also had the following question put to him by Mr Eames:

1 You referred in your paper to gaining information from American tests, would you agree that one of the

problems about doing that is that no two tests are in fact alike and that one has to be very careful in

drawing assumptions from other tests of apparently approximate size and designation?1 [Trans., p.9943J

Watson agreed - 'Yes, that is quite right'.

6.4.47 The document ' The Estimation of Medium Range Fall-out from a Near Surface Nuclear Explosion, TPN 91/56', prepared by E P Hicks, adds a further element of complexity. Hicks states that particle size decreases with increasing height. He writes

'The short range fall-out, corresponding to the larger particles, will mostly fall from the stem. Medium range contamination largely falls from the cloud and perhaps the top of the stem.' [RC 668, p.5j

Other Relevant Evidence

6.4.48 Although not necessarily directly related to the Totem 1 test, the Royal Commission also received other evidence relevant to the Black Mist incident.

6.4.49 After hearing from Yami Lester his version of the Black Mist, Dr Trevor Cutter, of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, decided to make further investigations of the incident. He visited Ernabella where he heard discussions of measles

epidemics and the Black Mist and concluded that 'an oral history of "black mists" at Ernabella was evident' [RC 819, p.2932j. At Wallatinna he heard that the Black Mist came from the south, it passed through the area, and that it made some people sick and

resulted in some deaths. Although Cutter was confronted with confusion about the numbers and ages of people affected, and although he was not certain that the mists resulted from the atomic tests, Mr I Morison (Department of National Development and Energy) wrote after interviewing him:

'...there is no question that what, he gleaned from the Aboriginals was oral history and had not been generated by press stories and subsequent gossip. He is firmly of the view that an oral history of "black mists"

existed before the press reports of 1980.' [RC 819, p.2933J

6.4.50 In a statement prepared for the Royal Commission [RC 586] and discussed in her evidence, Professor Annette Hamilton said that she had heard the Black Mist story at Mimili


from Kanytji and other men while she was carrying out research for her doctorate in 1970-71. Her informants located the incident as having happened at Wallatinna and 1 they then proceeded to recount the occurrence of the "Black Mist" in terms very similar to those heard in evidence...' [RC 586, para.36J. Commenting further on this evidence. Professor Hamilton wrote:

'It is also worth noting that all these people would have an intimate understanding of normal physical events in their environment, and all noted that the puyu was different to anything they had previously

experienced. A dust-storm might be the most comparable phenomenon, but this is always accompanied by a strong wind, whereas all those witnesses who mentioned wind described it at the time as a "breeze". Mists, which

do occur rarely during the cold seasons, might be similar in some respects but they do not usually move and are white in colour. Therefore the description of this as a unique phenomenon has considerable

credibility.' [ibid., para.19j

6.4.51 It is perhaps also significant that in relation to the first of the later Buffalo Tests a black cloud was reported. A telegram of the time (2 October 1956) is quoted here verbatim:

'To Director Maralinga Repeat Lawrence Maralinga Frm Rocran Jay MacDougall camped at Ingomar dog fence on Coober Pedy

short road last night. He reports men employed at Ingomar who were camped 15 miles west of Mt Penrhyer [sic] bore on 27th September report that a very bleak [sicj cloud detached itself from main cloud and

travelled northwards and then rejoined main cloud. This occurred about 1300 hours. They thought that the area covered by the black cloud would be Robin Rise, Rankins Dam and area south of Lake Phillipson. At

night when they were in bed particles of sandy dust were hitting their canvas camp sheets very similar to raindrops message ends. 1100 schedule with MacDougall

today was abortive due to interference. ' LRC 819, p.1038]

6.4.52 A possibly similar incident in the USA was reported by Pendleton et al. [1963j in the journal 'Health Physics'. They wrote of such a cloud on the day after the Sedan explosion on 6 July 1962.

'One of the authors had taken a group of students about 20 miles southeast of Salt Lake City to measure the background radiation near various rock formations. A dusty cloud was observed approaching and when the cloud

arrived, radiation levels rose to 2 mr/hr, or about 100 times higher than the normal background for this area.1


While the Sedan explosion, unlike Totem 1, was an underground explosion in which the surface was ruptured, it, like the phenomenon observed from Ingomar Dog Fence, suggests that the Black Mist at Wallatinna was not necessarily a unique occurrence.

6.4.53 Most of the eyewitness accounts of the Black Mist relate it to some form of explosion-like noise. Yami Lester has consistently reported hearing a noise like a shot-gun [AB 11, p. 5 j and a ' big bang, . . .a big noise, an explosion' LTrans. , p . 7117]; Lalli Lennon said 'it rumbled, the ground shook'

[Trans., p.7147J; Stan Lennon heard ' a big rumble' [Trans., p .7168J; and in the group evidence at Wallatinna there were repeated reports of 'the blast', and 'two blasts' [Trans., p.7180]. The eyewitness accounts are also consistent in reports of hearing the noise very early in the morning [Kanytji, for

example, put it at just after sunrise, p.7180] and in the arrival of the cloud several hours later. Mrs Lander put the time of the cloud's arrival at before lunch-time [Trans. , p.7098]. Yami

Lester said [AB 11, p. 5] that the cloud arrived in the morning, possibly the next day.

6.4.54 Mrs Lander thought that the time of the year was 'in the latter part of 1953' [AB 10, p. 5 J. Lalli Lennon said her daughter, born in June 1953 was still a baby [AB 12, p . 3 J, very young [Trans., p.7145], still breast-feeding [Trans., p.7146].

6.4.55 Given that Wallatinna is 173 km from Emu and 323 km from Maralinga, given the various cloud movements, and eyewitness accounts of the time of year, it seems that only the Totem tests need to be considered in relation to the Black Mist. Of these, the minimal wind shear for Totem 1, and the remarkable coherence of the Totem 1 cloud, plus the fact that Totem 1 was fired at 6.57 a.m. indicate that if the Black Mist resulted from an atomic

test, that test must have been Totem 1.

Contamination at Wallatinna

6.4.56 The gamma dose rate on the centre-line of the fallout plume from Totem 1 at a distance of 173 km from Ground Zero is 0.82 r/h (corrected to H+l) (see para .6.2.11). This is the distance from Ground Zero to Wallatinna. Although Wallatinna is probably not right on the centre-line, in estimating the maximum possible dose, it is necessary to make the conservative assumption that the fallout at Wallatinna could be as high as the

fallout on the centre-line of the plume.

6.4.57 The relationship between the gamma dose rate measured three feet above the ground and the concentration of fission products has changed somewhat over the years. In 1953, when A32 [RC 247] was written it was assumed that 1 Ci/in of fission products would produce a dose rate of 8.7 r/h. The theoretical


physics group at AWRE used a value of 10 r/h for the dose rate. In 1956 at Buffalo, the Theoretical Predictions Group revised the value in the light of the newer data and arrived at a value of 5 r/h from 1 Ci/m2 LRC 299, T25/58J. Subsequently there have been several calculations which have shown that for an infinite

plane the ratio varies with the age of the fission products, and varies from 17 at H+l, 12 at H+12 to 10 at H+24 and H+168. When a roughness factor of 0.7, which is commonly accepted, is applied the ratio at H+12 hours becomes 8.0 and that at H+24 nours becomes 6.8. These values generally agree with the various

reports which defined the 'zero' and 'slight risk' levels for the tests in Australia, and are appropriate to surveys carried out 12 hours to a week after the explosion.

6.4.58 Assuming that 1 Ci/m2 would produce a dose rate at a height of three feet of 8 r/h, the contamination on the plume centre-line at 173 km would be 0.10 Ci/nC with an upper limit due to possible hot spots of about 0.16 Ci/iti (all corrected to H+l).

This contamination at 173 km exceeded both the 1 zero risk' level, 0.009 Ci/m2, and the 'slight risk' level, 0.055 Ci/m , for exposure beginning 3.5 hours after the explosion as derived in

A32. The derivation of these levels did not include the greater exposure likely to Aborigines living a nomadic lifestyle, that is largely unclothed and without shelter.


Effect of contamination of 0.1 Ci/m

6.4.59 The fallout at Wallatinna would lead to exposure via several pathways. On the basis of the analyses presented in AWRE Report 0-26/59 |_RC 273j the doses from the various pathways resulting from a contamination level of 0.1 Ci/m (corrected to H+l), where exposure begins at H+6 hours, are

External gammas from ground 1.5 rem

betas from ground 6.8 rem

betas to feet and ankles 7.0 rem

(no shoes) betas on skin 6.4 rem

betas on skin 17.1 rem

(no washing or clothes)

nternal drinking water 0.5 rem

food 7.3 rem

milk 41.0 rem

inhalation 5.5 rem

injection 0.3 rem

6.4.60 The external beta radiation is not very penetrating and only causes a dose to the skin. The total skin dose, for someone with no shoes and not washing, is very much less than the dose required to give slight skin reddening (see 4.7.14).


6.4.61 The gamma dose from the ground irradiates the wholg body. The value of 1.5 rem for a contamination of 0.1 Ci/m agrees reasonably well with the value of 11 mSv (1.1 rem) given in AIRAC 9 [AIRAC 1983, Table 14.1] for nomadic people. This

whole body dose is much too small to cause any non-stochastic effect.

6.4.62 The internal dose is more difficult to estimate because it depends on knowledge of the food intake and lifestyle on the day of the Black Mist. The dose from drinking milk is almost entirely due to iodine-131 and results in exposure of the thyroid. The thyroid dose calculated assumes milk consumption at the same rate as in the UK. The thyroid is regarded as a

1 radioresistant organ' and the threshold organ dose for observable malfunction for non-stochastic effects is about 10 Gy (1000 rem) [UNSCEAR 1982, p.612].

Vomiting and dose to the gut

6.4.63 The dose to the gut from the results tabulated above is obtained by adding the dose from food, drink and external gammas, to give 9.3 rem. Irradiation of the gut can cause vomiting, and this is probably the health effect with the lowest threshold. Furthermore, several Aborigines who were at Wallatinna recollect

that vomiting occurred after the Black Mist. Hence the question of vomiting and the gut dose for those at Wallatinna were closely examined in the proceedings of the Royal Commission.

6.4.64 Vomiting for about a day occurs in five to 10 per cent of people exposed to a whole body dose of 80-120 r

[Glasstone, 1957]. H Smith [RC 573] reported on the results from 103 seriously ill patients who were subject to whole body radiation spread over many days. Vomiting was not observed when the daily dose was reduced to less than 0.2 Gy (20 rad):

1 Vomiting after exposure to less than about 1 Gy [100 r] which occurs within a few hours of exposure is probably psychogenic in origin. Above this dose, and after a delay of 1-3 hours, it is consistent with upper gut irritation.1 [RC 573, p.2]

6.4.65 Smith [RC 573] also quoted another study which reported a threshold of 0.5 Gy (50 rad) for vomiting following a single dose of whole body radiation. Vomiting occurred in about 10 per cent of persons exposed to a dose of 1 Gy (100 rad). Pochin

LTrans., pp.9478-80] agreed that on the data presented, vomiting after doses of 20 rads was possible though of low probability.

6.4.66 The dose to the upper large intestine from the fallout at Wallatinna has been calculated on the basis of current models by Dr E W Fuller, Mr D R Davy and Sir Edward Pochin. Fuller

[RC 872] took the dose rate value of 0.8 r/h (corrected to H+l) and, assuming that the exposure started at 3.5 hours, derived the


dose to the gut from both external radiation and ingestion. he assumed a body shielding factor of 0.7 and calculated the dose rate to the gut of 5.6 mGy/h for external irradiation. The integrated dose to 70 years was 21.8 mGy of which 7 mGy (0.7 rad) was received in the first day and 1.9 mGy between one day and

four days.

6.4.67 Fuller calculated the dose from internal irradiation by assuming that each individual ingested the amount of fallout on an area of 100 cm^ |_RC 672 j. Using the current ICRP gut model the internal dose to the upper large intestine was 30 mGy (3 rad)

in the time between 3.5 and 24 hours and 27.3 mGy in the

following six days. Hence the total dose to the gut on the first day was 37 mGy (3.7 rad).

6.4.68 The area of 100 cm^ used by Fuller comes from the

earlier analysis of Dale in Report 0-41/55, and is only the area of a single slice of bread. The Aborigines at Wallatinna would have been living largely in the open, cooking on open fires, with cooking utensils left near the fires. The amount of fallout

ingested from food or water could easily be 10 times that calculated by Fuller. This would increase the total dose on the first day to 307 mGy (30.7 rad).

6.4.69 Mr D R Davy suggested that it was possible the

Aborigines could ingest the radioactivity from an area of one square metre, i.e. 100 times the amount used by Fuller in his model. He derived this area from the area of leaves with a mass equal to the whole of the plant material component of the Aborigines daily diet. This is probably unrealistic because of what we know about the Aboriginal diet, but it does establish an

upper limit.

6.4.70 The Totem tests produced a significant amount of neptunium-239 in the fallout. The ratio of the activity of the neptunium to the activity of the fission products peaked at H+90 hours, and for Totem 1 the ratio had a maximum value of 2.9

[RC 307, T6/54J. This means that 74 per cent of the activity on the ground ninety hours after Totem 1 was neptunium-239. The presence of this large fraction of neptunium would modify the decay of the measured dose rate.

6.4.71 Davy pointed out that the dose to the upper and lower intestine would be dominated by neptunium if the activity of the neptunium-239 was 36 times the activity of barium-140, as appears to be the case at Totem [RC 801J.

6.4.72 Davy also calculated the dose to the gut, but used a deposition of 0.05 Ci/m^ and an area of 10 000 cm^· Depending on the amount of neptunium present he obtained doses in the range 0.5-0.8 tiv (50-80 rem) to the upper large intestine, and

1.1-3.8 tiv (110-380 rem) to the lower large intestine for the first day. (The lower values are for fallout with high levels of neptunium and would probably be applicable to the fallout from


Totem 1.) Using Davy's input data, the model used by Fuller would give a dose to the upper large intestine of 1.5 Gy

(150 rad) on the first day. Hence the gut models of Davy and Fuller are in general agreement, the main difference being the amount of radioactive material ingested.

6.4.73 Sir Edward Pochin disagreed with Davy's calculation and said he had greatly overestimated the intake. He also said that Davy's results should have been 40 per cent lower due to decay of activity.

6.4.74 It seems likely that the exposure of Aborigines at Wallatinna would be somewhere between the estimates of Fuller and Davy. It is suggested that a number of people could nave

received gut doses of 30 rem, and it is possible, although unlikely, that someone could have received a gut dose above 100 rem.

6.4.75 This estimated dose to the gut is close to the

threshold for vomiting. There are many uncertainties in the dose estimates and much depends on the food eaten and activities soon after the fallout occurred. In order to cause vomiting the radiation dose would need to be received in a short time, certainly in the first day, after the passage of the cloud and it would be necessary for the activity on more than 1000 cm^ to be

ingested. Hence, it is possible that some individuals could have ingested enough fallout material soon after the passage of the cloud to produce vomiting.

Yami Lester's Blindness

6.4.76 Yami Lester, who was at Wallatinna when the Black Mist incident occurred, and who was aged about 12 at the time, attributes his blindness to the incident. Describing the mist, and how it made people ill, he said

' When people first got sick my eyes got sore. I

couldn't open my eyes. I got diarrhoea and a rash on my skin. I remember when this happened my mother asked me to stay in the shade. Because I couldn't see I was led around with a stick like a digging stick. You hold

it at one end and the person walking ahead of you holds the other end and you follow along. I didn't have the stick for long, I don't reckon it was even a week. My left eye sort of came good again so I threw away the stick but my right eye was permanently blind after that. I could see with my left eye but it gave me a

lot of trouble. I could not see 100% with my left

eye.' [AB 11, pp.6-7]

6.4.77 Lester went on to say that he lost the sight of his

left eye in 1957 [AB 11, p.8].


6.4.78 Lester's mother and father, Pingkayi and Kanytji, confirmed that he had good eye-sight before the Black Mist [Trans., p.7192 j.

6.4.79 Dr David Tonkin first saw Lester on 6 August 1965, [RC 552, p.2]. In 1983, based on his own examinations of Lester, and other records which were available, Tonkin concluded that Lester had

11. a long history of red, sore eyes since childhood (there is evidence of trachoma scarring inside the lids)

'2. blindness since the age of 14 years, following ulcers during a severe attack of measles (presumably when the sight in the right eye was lost)

13. loss of the left eye in 1957, the eye having been blind for nine years previously.

'The findings in the right eye, both before and during surgery, indicate a long-standing history of infection (trachoma), with dense (total) corneal scarring, iris adhesions, and cataract changes following a severe

corneal ulceration which had perforated.

I Although severe, such ocular manifestations are recognised complications of trachoma, and in this instance they were possibly accentuated by measles.' [RC 552, p.2]

6.4.80 Sir Edward Pochin was questioned about the possible interacting effects of trachoma and measles with low-level doses of radiation.

With regard to trachoma he said

II cannot exclude the possibility that a presence of trachoma would produce these very considerable reductions still in the threshold compared with a normal eye.1 [Trans., p.9475]

6.4.81 The following questions of Pochin, and his responses, illustrate well the uncertainties surrounding the causes of Lester's blindness:

' Q . So that in fact those dose levels may well be

considerably reduced simply because what we are talking about here is not direct effect but cell damage, cell regeneration effects as a result of these two processes

working together?

'A. I hear your wording "may well be". I accept under that wording.


' Q. Yes, the reason why we cannot go further on that to say whether one can exclude such an event, that is radiation at low dose levels producing this event if there was an existing trachoma, it is simply because there is insufficient data and knowledge to know what that relationship would be?

Ά. I have already said that I know of no data on the interaction of trachoma with radiation.

'Q. So the situation with Mr Lester is this, is it not, that you are unable to say to this Commission that if each of those events occurred, radiation at low dose, trachoma, measles or any two of the three of those events occurred, you are unable to say to this Commission that they can exclude radiation as being an accelerating or aggravating factor in his condition?

Ά. That is correct.' [Trans., pp.9475-7]

6.6.82 Pochin also said:

1 ... it has emerged within the last year or two the

ophthalmological observation that abnormalities apparently induced by radiation in the lens which do not interfere with vision may develop during subsequent years and without further irradiation to a size in which they do interfere with vision. That has involved a lowering of the assumed threshold for cataract.'

[Trans., p.9526]

Pochin is one of the world's leading experts on the biological effects of radiation.

6.4.83 Tonkin suggested that Lester's eye injuries and ultimately blindness could not be related to radiation [Trans., p.8647]. Tonkin admitted that he had no expert knowledge of radiation [Trans., p.8659]. Tonkin's views on Lester's blindness

assumed a direct radiation injury. He did not profess to have made a study of the potential interacting or synergistic factors to which Pochin later addressed himself.

6.4.84 In weighing up the evidence of witnesses such as Lester and his parents, and the medical and scientific experts, the Royal Commission has been aware of a number of factors which serve to increase the uncertainty in this area.

6.4.85 The lack of historical records on death and illness among Aboriginal people, and the problems in dating events, mean that relevant historical and contemporary medical evidence are unavailable.


6.4.86 To this must be added the limited empirical data

relating to radiation and non-stochastic effects on the Aboriginal people at Wallatinna. There may be a probability, unknown and certainly unquantified, that the Aboriginal people were in an immuno-suppr essed state due to the effects of poor

nutrition and the after-effects of catastrophic epidemics of introduced diseases which raged in the area for years. There may be a probability, again unknown and unquantified, that at doses lower than otherwise recorded as producing non-stochastic injury,

such injury could result from an additive or synergistic relationship between radiation exposure and other conditions such as measles or trachoma.

6.4.87 There is little information on the effects of low-level doses to a group of people such as the Aboriginal people at Wallatinna. If those people were in an immuno-suppressed state because of diet and diseases, the dose required to produce

injuries could be substantially lower than that assumed from research based on other studies. This question remains unresolved.

6.4.88 Pochin, asked about the state of knowledge regarding the Wallatinna people, said

'I would certainly say that the existing knowledge of the doses required to produce non-stochastic effects do not cover any studies on the doses required to produce non-stochastic effects in the populations to which you are referring.1 LTrans., pp.9447-8j

6.4.89 He was further asked

'Is the state of knowledge such that you could say that an Aboriginal person would not have a significantly greater sensitivity to the effects of radiation than a non-Aboriginal person?1

He replied

'No, it is not, because I - unless studies have been made, and I think you were saying yesterday they have not - then clearly it is not known. ' LTrans. ,


6.4.90 The ICRP Publication No. 41, 'Non-Stochastic Effects of Ionising Radiation', states

'Various intrinsic and extrinsic factors are known to modify the radiation response (although not necessarily the radiosensitivity) of normal cells and tissues. These include degree of differentiation, rate of cell proliferation, age at irradiation, oxygen tension,

temperature, blood flow, genetic background, physiological condition, hormone balance, various


chemicals, stress, trauma and other forms of injury. ' [RC 573, Annexure 8:10j

6.4.91 These variables are not known for the Wallatinna people of 1953.



(a) The differences in the details of Aboriginal accounts of the Black Mist are to be expected after the passage of over thirty years. The accounts are sufficiently consistent in general for them to have credibility.

(b ) An oral history of the Black Mist existed for many

years before the incident became known to the general public.

(c) Meteorological, mathematical and statistical modelling indicates that a black mist passing over Wallatinna and Welbourn Hill could have happened.

(d) There is no reason to disbelieve Aboriginal accounts that the Black Mist occurred and that it made some people sick. Both radiation exposure and fear can lead to vomiting. At Wallatinna, the vomiting by Aborigines may have resulted from

radiation, it may have been a psychogenic reaction to a

frightening experience, or it may have resulted from both of these.

(e) The Royal Commission believes that Aboriginal people experienced radioactive fallout from Totem 1 in the form of a black mist or cloud at and near Wallatinna. This may have made some people temporarily ill. The Royal Commission does not have

sufficient evidence to say whether or not it caused other illnesses or injuries.

(f) Given the historical uncertainties and the current state of scientific knowledge, the evidence presented does not enable the Royal Commission to decide one way or the other whether the Black Mist caused or contributed to the blindness of Yami Lester.

6.5 Safety of Servicemen

Radiological Regulations

6*5.1. In early 1953, Penney indicated to the Ministry of Supply that the maximum permissible doses which had been allowed


for Hurricane, and accepted by the Ministry prior to Hurricane, had been applied effectively during the operation. He

recommended that there be no change in the three categories of permissible dose for personnel at Operation Totem and forwarded a draft of the regulations proposed for Totem. He sought formal

approval in order to inform the Australian authorities of these regulations and to seek their agreement that Australians who were to work in contaminated areas should obey the same regulations [RC 256, p.177 J.

6.5.2 Approval was granted and the text of the permissible external radiation dosage levels was incorporated in the Radiological Safety Orders issued by the Scientific

Superintendent for Totem, Mr C A Adams, on 14 August 1953 [RC 353j.

6.5.3 The policy for the Orders was clearly expressed as follows:

1 An individual will only be exposed intentionally to a radiological hazard when his task makes such an exposure unavoidable. The object of the Health Control is to protect personnel from any harmful effects when exposed to radiation hazards.

1 In cases where exposure is necessary:

(a) the individual must have passed the appropriate medical tests

(b) the extent of the exposure will be kept to a

minimum and in any case will be within prescribed limits

(c) personnel will conform to the procedure laid down by Health Control.1

6.5.4 Health Control procedures and responsibilities were set out in detail. Briefing radiological surveyors and health escorts in their duties was considered to be of prime importance. These officers had to ensure that all re-entry parties and

vehicle drivers understood the radiological conditions that they could expect en route to and at the sites being visited, and that health escorts accompanied all re-entry parties. They had to provide protective clothing and personnel monitoring devices for

the re-entrants and provide radiological equipment to surveyors and escorts. On the return of such groups from the Forward Area, Health Control was responsible for the decontamination of personnel and the equipment and papers which they brought back.

For the Kittens trials which were to be held at Emu, some special regulations relating to neutron emission and alpha particle contamination were included in the Orders.

6.5.5 Within the context of the above orders, re-entry into the Forward Area was to be made from D+l to D+14 days to obtain


scientific records and equipment. Three urgency categories governed the order in which recovery tasks were to be performed:

'Urgency 1

'Delay would result in serious deterioration of the record or equipment, and exposure to the higher integrated dose is considered justifiable.

'Urgency 2

'Similar to 1, but exposure up to the limit of the lower integrated dose only is justified.

'Urgency 3

'Those in which no time factor is involved and which can be left until the dosage likely to be received does not exceed or not grossly exceed, the normal working rate.' [RC 353, Part IVJ

6.5.6 Personnel engaged in handling and assembling weapons components were to wear protective clothing, be monitored during and after handling 'dirty material', to have their exposures kept to the minimum level possible and to have records kept of their exposures.

6.5.7 The written regulations were designed to embrace a potentially wide variety of circumstances arising in an experiment, while at the same time ensuring that radiation levels were not exceeded. They clearly designated areas of

responsibility and authority, they allowed for emergency conditions and contingencies and they were operationally practicable.

6.5.8 As the 'Summary Plan for Operation Totem' [RC 232J shows, the tasks to be conducted at the tests were to be carried out by designated teams. In his covering note to the

'Radiological Safety Orders' dated 13 August 1953, Adams wrote

'Team leaders must ensure that members of their teams conform to the regulations and are familiar with the terminology defining clean areas.'

6.5.9 Australians were members of some of these teams. The responsibility for ensuring their compliance with the regulations and familiarising them with terminology therefore rested with their team leaders.


Activities in the Forward Area of Totem 1 and Totem 2

6.5.10 One of the main purposes of the nuclear test program was to understand the behaviour of the device as it exploded and to assess the radiological and other effects of the explosion on the natural environment and on man-made items. As part of the experiments, the latter were placed at varying distances and

heights from the bomb. They included army equipment, including a Centurion tank, Mustang aircraft, a ship's funnel, cubical concrete shelters, film badges and quartz fibre dosimeters, painted and cloth materials, diaphragm gauges, toothpaste tubes,

calorimeter discs, and equipment for making photographic and electric shock records.

6.5.11 After the blast, personnel were required to enter the Forward Area, examine or retrieve the irradiated items and records, and carry out measurements of levels of radioactivity on the items, on the ground and in the air. The first groups in were the RH teams who began radiological surveys from 20 minutes

after the explosion, either by going to pre-determined positions and taking readings or by proceeding in a certain direction until a pre-determined reading was obtained.

6.5.12 The re-entry tasks were carried out under the urgency categories outlined above. As the radiological surveys showed levels of contamination to be decreasing with time, increasing

numbers of Forward Area tasks were able to be carried out.

6.5.13 Entry to and exit from the Forward Area was through the Health Control area. Protective clothing and film badges were worn and at least one person in each re-entry group carried a quartz fibre dosimeter. Personnel who were recorded as receiving

exposures which would exceed the permitted dose limits for an operational period were withdrawn, temporarily or permanently, from further work in the Forward Area.

6.5.14 Three Land Rovers were used by groups entering the Forward Area. The hoods, wind-screens and side screens were removed to reduce the entry of dust. Austin and Stevenson [RC 280, p. 17] reported that this also aided cleaning and the

assurance of a relatively low level of activity on the vehicles. Canvas covered seats were sealed with polyvinyl chloride sheeting.

6.5.15 They went on to say that although the Land Rovers used were driven through some highly active areas, the general level of activity was low: 1

1 Frequently on return from a sortie single particles of 0.2 to 1 mm diameter had been carried into the vehicle on boots or on equipment, but a careful vacuum cleaning removed the sand and active particles. Occasionally

large active particles were thrown up by the wheels and


lodged under the wings; careful searching with a crevice nozzle on a vacuum cleaner was usually

effective.' [RC 280, p.18]

6.5.16 The greatest amounts of contamination were on the vehicle engines which were fairly inaccessible. However, no attempt was made to decontaminate these as the vehicles were to be used later in contaminated areas by the Australian Peace Officers.

Decontamination at Emu

6.5.17 AWRE Report T104/54, 1 The Prevention and Removal of Radioactive Contamination' , by J Austin and D Stevenson IRC 280] is the main official report of the decontamination processes undertaken for personnel after the Totem tests. Austin and Stevenson were in charge of the Totem RH5 decontamination team.

6.5.18 This report indicates, in parts 1-4, that the

decontamination procedures operated smoothly and also that because of the low levels of external contamination encountered, only minimal decontamination of personnel had to be undertaken.

6.5.19 The team was staffed by ten Australian servicemen. They issued protective clothing, provided changing facilities and assistance with dressing, monitored and helped to undress returning personnel, and assisted them in decontamination.

6.5.20 The procedure is more easily understood by reference to Figure 6.5.1. Protective clothing was issued in A17. This comprised an aertex undersuit, rubber gloves, hood, sweat rag, combination oversuit, respirator with filter and anti-dim outfit,

socks and short rubber boots fitted with white cotton overboots. The parties then moved to A18 where they dressed under RH supervision. From there they crossed a barrier and entered their vehicles.

6.5.21 Upon returning, the parties deposited equipment at the store tent (A19) and entered Health Control at R21. Dosimeters and film badges were removed and the name of the person wearing the film badge and/or dosimeter was entered on a list.

Respirators were sent to RH4. Each person was then monitored and the highest readings for head, body and feet were recorded. Hood, suit and boots were marked with chalk to indicate if they were active.

6.5.22 Undressing was carried out in A22. Garments were sorted according to indicated levels of activity (high activity, low activity, inactive) and the garments were then sent for destruction, to the special radioactive laundry or to Woomera for



FIGURE 6.5.1

Block Layout of Radiation Health Control at 'A' Site, Emu During Operation Totem




M WATER TANK ...........L












Source: Symonds 1985, p.205


6.5.23 Pre-shower monitoring took place in A23. According to the report [RC 280, p.7],

1 ... no significant activity penetrated the clothes and the only activity detected at this stage was in the hair of some who had not worn hoods.'

6.5.24 Cold, highly saline showers were used in A27; 'Teepol' detergent, which had better lathering properties, was favoured over soap:

'No more drastic reagents were required during the trial, though special creams, pastes and solutions for potassium permanganate treatment had been prepared.' [RC 280, p. 7 j

6.5.25 After drying, each person was again monitored at A28. Those who were free of radioactivity returned to the change tent (A18). Austin and Stevenson reported

'In a few cases hair remained active and such personnel were sent back to re-shower until clear.'

6.5.26 The measured levels of activity of personnel returning from the Forward Area are shown in Table 6.5.1 [RC 280, p. 8 J. These measurements were made with the beta-gamma probe of a type 1021 contamination monitor, the open window of the probe being held one inch from the surface. Measurements were recorded for the 336 people who went into the Forward Area during the period

D1 to Dl+11 and the 246 who went in from D2 to D2+9.

6.5.27 It was generally concluded that the protective clothing had been effective in preventing penetration by active material. The main criticisms were directed at the outer garments which were too heavy for hot conditions and the black rubber gloves which were difficult to manipulate.

6.5.28 Laundering the clothing was also seen as an effective procedure. It was concluded that

' Only about 200 lb of low-activity clothing were sent from Emu to the radio-active laundry at Woomera and no difficulty was experienced in cleaning this. However, samples of higher level were retained for experiments and the results showed that high decontamination efficiency was difficult to obtain.' [RC 280, p.16]

Apart from clothing, other goods to be decontaminated were

(a) equipment and instruments exposed near the explosion and subsequently retrieved, and

(b) equipment, especially survey instruments, but also including vehicles, taken into active areas after the explosion.


TABLE 6.5.1

Levels of Activity Measured by RH5 - T1 and T2

T1 (Total 336) T2 (Total 246)

Activity Range (counts/s)

Per Cent Men in Range

Per Cent Men in Range

Head Feet Body Head Feet Body

0-15 93.7 54.0 91.0 96.5 42.0 95.7

15-50 5.4 16.0 5.0 1.2 20.0 3.0

50-100 0.6 8.0 1.5 1.5 7.5 3.0

100-500 0.3 14.0 1.7 0.0 17.0 1.0

500-2000 0.0 5.0 0.4 0.0 9.5 0.0

>2000 0.0 5.0 0.4 0.0 4.0 0.0

Cumulative Per Cent Cumulative Per Cent

below 15 93.7 54.0 91.0 96.5 42.0 95.7

" 50 99.1 70.0 96.0 98.5 62.0 98.7

" 100 99.7 78.0 97.5 100.0 69.5 99.0

" 500 100.0 92.0 99.2 86.5 100.0

" 2000 97.0 99.6 96.0

below infinity 100.0 100.0 100.0

Source: RC 280, AWRE Report T104/54, p.5

6.5.29 Again, no safety problems were perceived. Where induced radiation levels were initially high, this rapidly decayed to below permitted levels. Contamination of instruments

taken into the area was only slight and decontamination was more tedious than difficult. It was noted that decontamination of vehicles, particularly inaccessible engine parts, would have been difficult, and also that readings on vehicles were high. However, since these were to remain in the Forward Area for use by Peace Officers, they were not decontaminated.

6.5.30 The layout of the decontamination facilities received some criticism. Radioactive material dumped on the A20.A car park sometimes caused problematic high background readings; an improvised barrier near the exit of A18 meant that monitoring

facilities were some distance from the clean area; the use of tents was very inconvenient; and,

'...any large-scale decontamination would have been very difficult in water such as was available at Totem.' [RC 280, p.22]


6.5.31 Austin and Stevenson concluded that the safety of personnel subjected to radiation hazards was ensured. They stated

1 The organisation achieved its purpose of protecting personnel against radio-active contamination. It appears it did this without too much inconvenience and discomfort to the persons concerned; there were no complaints on this score. The task of decontamination

was no real problem owing to the low order of

contamination and the fact that nothing penetrated the clothing. In the case of an under-ground burst the problem would probably have been greater. This low contamination of personnel was mainly due to the large

average size of fallout particles and to measures taken to reduce dust while travelling in open vehicles. The use of tents caused many difficulties, especially in the high winds frequently encountered. Their use also lead to the spreading of the organisation over a wide area, making supervision very difficult. The stage of pre-shower monitoring turned out to be unnecessary and would be omitted on any future occasion, while much

simplification of the whole routine would be possible in a system more ideally arranged for the purpose.' [RC 280j

The Involvement of Aircrew at Operation Totem

6.5.32 In contrast to the careful planning of operations at Emu, no special arrangements were made to ensure the radiation safety of aircrew in Lincolns prior to Totem 1. The RAAF was told at the time of Operation Hurricane that there would be no hazard to aircrew or ground staff from that Operation. This was based on part of the Marley criteria produced in 1950. There was

no attempt made to bring the RAAF aircrew within the framework of the regulations set down for the ground operations in the Emu area.

6.5.33 As a result, no arrangements were made to provide any form of health control and, in consequence, no personal monitoring devices were provided.

6.5.34 The details of the air sampling operation are described below.


6.5.35 In January 1953, Cockram wrote to Mr A Brown, Secretary of the Prime Minister's Department, and sent a list of

requirements which it was hoped Australia could provide for Operation Totem. The list included


1 Up to 10 Lincoln aircraft for sampling to be based at Woomera and possibly at more distant airfields.1 [RC 800, p.530121j

6.5.36 This request was discussed at a Totem Panel meeting on 2 February 1953 and Group Captain Μ O Watson stated that the RAAF would meet the requirement [RC 800, p.530165j.

6.5.37 Meanwhile, as part of the detailed planning for the project in the UK, the TOTEX Sub-committee on Air Sampling outlined further requirements and tasks. At its first meeting, the Chairman of the Sub-committee, Air Marshal Elmhirst,

'...stated that the purpose of the Meeting was to

correlate scientific requirements for air sampling etc. with the aircraft and technical resources available in Australia. Three separate projects were involved. They were:-

(a) Air survey and determination of possible ground contamination due to "fall-out" at specified distances from the site (2 Dakotas)

(b) Air sampling (10 Lincolns)

(c) Measurement of ground contamination near the site (3 Sycamores)

'3. Dr Tyte said that the operations, in effect would be a repetition of what took place at MONTE BELLO last year. The operational orders issued to the R.A.A.F. at that time are considered to be still satisfactory for our purpose and should be available for reference1.

[RC 800, p .530227]

6.5.38 In May 1953, Watson reported to the Totem Panel that the RAAF would accept the tasks of sampling by two lots of five Lincoln aircraft, and that two Dakota aircraft would be provided in connection with ground contamination surveys LRC 800,

p.530385J .

6.5.39 In the United Kingdom it was also decided that a

Canberra aircraft should fly through the atomic cloud as soon as possible after the explosion to assess the aircraft's behaviour under such conditions and to gain information on types and levels of contamination. Australia was approached about providing such

an aircraft [RC 558, p.492j but, with its Canberra production line not yet fully operational, the limited number of aircraft available to the RAAF [RC 558, p.531J, and Australian commitments in South-east Asia, it was decided the request could not be met. The need to collect the information was given a very high priority and the British authorities decided to provide their own

Canberra aircraft [RC 558, p.622 j.


6.5.40 Watson advised the Totem Panel, and asked them to request TOTEX, to

‘Consider it imperative all air operational aspects Totem be co-ordinated by R.A.A.F. in best interests of efficient control. Would request therefore you approach Air Ministry and arrange that the crews flying the R.A.F. Canberra should be placed under R.A.A.F. operational control of the officer Commanding 82 Wing Detachment Woomera, who will be responsible for all aspects of both air sampling and aerial survey of ground contamination.' [RC 800, p.530545J

The UK authorities agreed to this on 22 July [RC 558, p.658J.

6.5.41 Following a suggestion by Watson [RC 800, p.530556J that investigations be carried out to assess the suitability of operating the Canberra out of Emu, a report was prepared by Group Captain Burrage [RC 800, p.530596j which stated that operations

from Emu were 'quite practicable' but involved some risk arising from the nature of the airfield surface. At the 9th Meeting of the Totem Panel (25 August 1953), Squadron Leader Thomas argued for the Emu option, stating that with the Canberra the real hazard of contamination was in respect of servicing personnel.

He further argued that if decontamination operations were carried out at Woomera, this might mean dividing the already quite small RH team IRC 800, p. 530680 j. In the event, as is discussed in more detail below, the Canberra aircraft operated out of Woomera.

6.5.42 The United States Air Force (USAF) was also to

participate in Operation Totem. On 16 September, the US Air Attache, Australia and officers of the USAF visited the RAAF air base at Richmond and discussed the participation of two B29 aircraft with a transport support of two C54 aircraft [RC 36, p.5j. At the 10th Meeting of the Totem Panel

'Group Captain Hartnell advised that all aircraft were in position, and that two American aircraft would arrive at Richmond on 28th September.' [RC 800, p. 530844J

6.5.43 The UK authorities determined that the US operation was not to take them closer than 400 miles from the explosion.

6.5.44 The air sampling tasK force was under the agreed

co-ordination and control of the RAAF, and comprised the

following units:

(a) Wo. 82(B) Wing, Detachment Ά' based at Woomera;

(b) L \ 1o . 82 (T) Wing, Detachment Ά' based at Woomera;

(c) RAF Canberra Element based at Woomera;





No. 82(B) Wing, Detachment 'B 1 based at Richmond;

USAF Element based at Richmond; and

No. 86(T) Wing based at Woomera.

6.5.45 For the Australian detachments, planning arrangements were made at conferences held at Air Force Headquarters at Mallala, Woomera and Richmond between 3 and 6 August 1953 [RC 800, pp.530613-18]. Operation Instructions No. 4/53 arising

from these conferences were issued on the 14 August 1953 [RC 800, pp.530636-58].

6.5.46 The Australian detachments were to be involved in three main groups of tasks:

Task Totem Alpha; Two Dakota aircraft positioned at Woomera and equipped with gamma-ray detecting equipment were to carry out an aerial survey of an area near Emu field which the directing meteorologist judged the most

likely to be contaminated by radioactive dust from the Totem explosions. Selection of the survey routes was to be the responsibility of the Scientific

Superintendent, C A Adams.

Task Totem Beta: Samples of airborne radioactive dust from the Totem explosions were to be obtained. They were to be collected by the Lincoln aircraft operating from Richmond and Woomera. The aircraft were to be equipped externally with four filter carriers and

internally with gamma-sensitive instruments which would enable the crews to detect the presence of the cloud and traverse it several times during the sampling runs. The aircrews were to be instructed in the use of these

instruments by Mr Gale who was also to supervise the installation of the detecting instruments. Monitoring instruments were to be provided for use at ground level to determine the activity of the flown filters.

Task Totem Gamma: Ante and post event transport requirements in support of Operation Totem were to be provided, including the transport of activated filters from Richmond and Woomera to Salisbury for analysis.

6.5.47 Operation Instructions No. 4/53 required the Eastern Area Detachment at Woomera to be operational by 28 September but the late arrival of Mr Gale left only six days in which to

inspect, test and fit scientific equipment and brief and train aircrews. Further, although the radiation detection equipment had arrived previously, much of it was found to be unserviceable and required considerable RAAF effort to make it ready for use

[RC 36, p.1]. In the Consolidated Report on Operation Totem, Group Captain Headlam wrote


1 As a result of Mr. Gale's tardy arrival, the designing and manufacturing of assemblies to accommodate the equipment in the twelve (12) Lincolns, including illumination and seating for operators, air testing of equipment and training of aircrew in its operation and ground crew in its maintenance, had to be rushed through. This aspect received insufficient attention

in the early stages and might well have led to a delay in the Detachment being fully operational. For instance, it was not until Mr. Gale arrived that this Headquarters had any idea of the nature of the

detection equipment, the time involved in fitting, and that an aircrew member would be required for full time observing of it in the air.' [RC 36, p .1]

6.5.48 Detachment A, No. 82(B) Wing carried out two rehearsals from Woomera on 1 and 5 October of their tasks in Totem Beta One (i.e. for Totem 1). From Richmond, after considerable effort to establish a suitable operations centre there, a full-scale rehearsal by Detachment B, No. 82(B) Wing was held on 6 October. From Emu, the two Dakotas of Detachment A, No. 86 (T) Wing made practice surveys from 26 to 29 September. It had already been decided, after flying from Woomera to Emu (on 25 October), that

these aircraft could be flown within 50 feet on either side of 500 feet provided that the turbulence was not too severe. To minimise the effects of turbulence, Dakota operations would commence at first light.

6.5.49 The USAF B29s did not undertake specific rehearsals but their operations were carefully planned so that they did not approach closer than 400 miles to the test site, as agreed. Based on the forecast trajectories of the cloud from data provided by the meteorologists at Emu and Richmond, a creeping

line-ahead search was designed which allowed for either an increase or decrease in the windspeed or a sweeping change in the direction of travel.

6.5.50 In another and very real sense, however, the USAF B29s were the best prepared of all of the units. The aircraft were equipped with sophisticated radiation detection equipment and were flown by personnel with experience in this type of mission and with this type of equipment. One officer, Captain McMichael,

for example, had previously flown 25 sorties of this type with the USAF and was responsible for the design of the radiation detection equipment carried in the aircraft [RC 36]. The USAF crews carried film badges and dosimeters, they were experienced regarding the contamination of aircraft after flying through radioactive clouds, and they had the equipment and stores to deal with the contamination.

6.5.51 The decision to operate the RAF Canberra out of Woomera was relayed to the RAAF on 6 October. Decontamination of RAF personnel at Woomera was to be under the control of trained officers flown from Emu. A rehearsal flight had been carried out


by the Canberra crew four days earlier to test the general timing of the operation and to ensure that the aircraft was facing away from the bomb when it went off to prevent possible eye damage to the pilot. Since the likelihood of personnel contamination was very high, precautions taken prior to the flight were to include

sealing the cabin, sealing all inspection panels and the door with tape, fitting oxygen masks as tightly as possible and, in flight, using full oxygen [RC 36J. Since it was felt that radioactive dust in the cloud might make the Canberra's airspeed

indicator unserviceable, a support Lincoln was to provide a radio link between the Canberra and Woomera base.

6.5.52 In contrast, no special preparations were made for the decontamination of the Lincolns and their crews operating out of Woomera. Group Captain Colquhoun, Commander RAAF Eastern Area Detachment, had been told by the Scientific Superintendent that

there was little chance that either the Woomera or Richmond Lincolns and their crews would be contaminated [RC 36J.

Totem 1 - Participation - Woomera

6.5.53 The most complete reports of the air sampling and cloud tracking operations for Totem are contained in 1 Operation Totem - Consolidated Report1 [_RC 36 j. They include contributions from Group Captain Colquhoun, Group Captain Davis, Squadron Leader Dick, Group Captain Headlam, and Weather Officer Garriock of the

RAAF Meteorology Office, Richmond. Unless otherwise stated, the following account is based on these official reports.

6.5.54 Six minutes after the T1 explosion, the Canberra flew through the cloud tangentially at 10 000 feet having heard the countdown relayed from the link Lincoln. Three minutes later it made another run through the centre of the cloud where strong but manageable turbulence was experienced, and where it was necessary

for the cockpit lights to be turned on. It then returned to Woomera, and taxied to a prepared position where the special drop tank equipped with filters was released into a pile of sand. The Canberra then taxied to the end of the runway where the crew

climbed out, were removed of their gear, and showered. The aircraft remained at the end of the strip for about four hours until a type 1021 contamination monitor indicated that it was safe to be towed away. It was then washed at least four times to remove radioactive particles. This was done by six RAAF personnel from the ARDU who had been equipped with special overalls, overshoes and masks and who had been briefed by the RH Group at Emu.

6.5.55 Although the protective measures taken before and during the flight through the cloud prevented contamination from entering the aircraft and being inhaled by the aircrew, the Canberra crew members received high gamma radiation doses. The Canberra crew members had exposures of 18, 19 and 21 r


respectively recorded on their dosimeters at the end of the flight [RC 240, T3/54]. When the film badges were processed, the dosages were much lower. The reason for this discrepancy has not been established [RC 240, T3/54j.

6.5.56 Because of the high doses, the crew members were not permitted to take part in the Totem 2 trials.

6.5.57 The Detachment 'A ' Lincolns from Woomera were to collect samples from the radioactive cloud about 400 stat.ute miles from Ground Zero. Following the early morning blast, the estimated average cloud height was 14 000 feet. With mean wind speeds of about 32 knots at that altitude, it was decided that

the Lincolns would leave Woomera from 1230 hours CST in order to meet the cloud at 400 statute miles, on a course approximately 038 degrees from Emu at an estimated 1700 hours CST.

6.5.58 Weather conditions presented no problems and, at 1735 hours CST, the key aircraft on the patrol nearest the explosion received increased readings on the radiation detector. This aircraft located the maximum point of intensity about 15 miles (24 km) north of the expected centre of the cloud passage and made an approved coded VHF message, after which the other four aircraft joined in the operation. All aircraft

recorded increased meter readings and each was able to locate the cloud visually, even at night.

6.5.59 From the chart records made by the radiation detectors installed in the Lincolns it was possible, when taken in conjunction with aircraft speed, to calculate the cloud size from the traverses. The five Lincolns made a total of 15 traverses during a period of about three hours, giving 30 entry and exit points from which to deduce the limits of the cloud. For some aircraft, the radiation recorder went off the scale when they

were in the cloud and remained above zero when they left the cloud because of the contamination received by the aircraft. The filters on the aircraft trapped radioactive materials from the cloud on each traverse and the filter activity gave an integrated

figure for the total activity traversed by each aircraft.

6.5.60 Two of the aircraft spent ten minutes in the cloud and the other aircraft 30, 45 and 55 minutes respectively.

6.5.61 After completing the traverses, the Lincolns returned to Woomera. During the return flight the captain of the leading aircraft (A73-47) radioed Woomera Tower and stated that, because radiation detector readings were still excessive, nobody should approach or handle the aircraft on the ground until he had consulted with Mr Gale. The scientist, Gale, met the aircraft and expressed surprise at the level of contamination of the

aircraft and the level of activity in the filters. The latter readings were so high that they were left until the following morning before being removed and sent to Salisbury.


6.5.62 No provision had been made for the decontamination of RAAF aircraft and personnel at Woomera. As indicated above, Adams had told Colquhoun that this would not be necessary. Fortunately, Group Captain Wilson, the Air Ministry Radiologist

who had flown in the Canberra, was at Woomera when the Lincolns returned and was called in to advise the aircrews of

decontamination measures. He tested the aircraft with his own radiation detection unit and advised that the five aircraft be isolated for twelve hours. The crews were directed to wash immediately and then to shower when they returned to their quarters. When checked with a type 1092 radiation monitor they were found to be free of contamination.

6.5.63 The aircraft were checked the next day with the same equipment and regarded as safe enough to be worked on.

6.5.64 Three days later, Stevenson arrived from RH activities at Emu to check the laundry procedures for the expected

contaminated clothing of the Canberra air and ground crews. He inspected the Lincolns and found that the leading edges of the wings and tai lplanes, and the engines of most of the aircraft, were showing radioactivity. Although the recorded levels were below those permitted by the RH Group for the contamination of

vehicles, a risk existed from the possible ingestion of radioactive particles. Consequently, all ground personnel were instructed to wash before smoking or eating when they had been

working on the Lincolns:

1 It was considered that insufficient attention had been given to the possibility of personnel and aircraft contamination and that measures must be taken to insure against any risk to personnel in the second operation.'

IRC 36, p.28J

6.5.65 To ensure that there would be no further risk to

personnel, and to avoid a repetition of these unexpected events during Totem 2, Stevenson was requested to

1 (a) Arrange for a specially trained officer to be present at Woomera to co-ordinate de-contamination measures.

'(b) To provide five dosimeters for use by captains of aircraft.

' ( c ) To provide 35 film badges which were to be worn by

aircrew members in Operation Totem II.

' (d) To provide ten pairs of overalls for the use of ground contamination party. This party to complete the washing down operations on all aircraft. 1

1(e) To arrange for a paper to be produced on risks to nealth from radioactivity for the purpose of passing to


D.G.M.S. (Director General of Medical Services) and for the guidance of senior R.A.A.F. personnel at Woomerafl [loc.cit.J

6.5.66 As a result of these requests, Captain Butler of thelm

Group at Emu arrived at Woomera on 19 October (D+4) to

investigate the Lincolns more fully. He found that contamination was still being recorded and directed that a system be

established for the effective checking of all ground personneL An additional type 10218 contamination monitor was obtained and

set up jml a hangar. All personnel were required to line up

before the counter and each man was checked individually before

the mid-day meal and evening standdown.

6.5.67 Colquhoun flew to Emu on 20 October and made strong

representations for Butler to remain at Woomera and for

additional RH members to proceed there to develop and supervise a

practical technique for the cleansing of the Lincolns.

6.5.68 At Woomera, Butlez's system for checking ground

personnel was in progress. Overalls and shoes reading above

15 connts per second were removed and placed in a bin for washing

in the special laundry. If a person's hands or feet registered a

count over 15 per second he was sent to the washroom to wash

before being monitored again in a separate room.

6.5.69 Where clothing and equipment registered up to

2000 counts per second, the items were set aside to be buried

since it was considered that no amount of cleansing would remove

all of the radioactive particles.

6.5.70 On 22 October, RH officers Austin and Ellis arrived

from Emu to implement a system of further decontamination of the


6.5.71 From the official reports, it is clear that inadequate

safety precautions were adopted for the aircrews who flew the

Totem Beta One operations out of Woomera. No special precautions were taken for the flights through the cloud and, since no

procedures had been established in advance for post-flight

decontamination, a hurried and impromptu system was initiated

Group Captain Headlam wrote

'The contamination of aircraft, equipment and personnel was, of course, completely unforseen and caused

considerable inconvenience and possible hazards to

personnel. Had the information on tne possibillty of

contamination been available, suitable prov151ons could have been made to meet the case. Whereas, 1t is felt

that the possibility should have been anticipated by

the scientific staff it is appreciated that the

operations were concerned with research and hence all

eventualities could not have been necessarily foreseen. However, considerable experience has been gained 1n


I ?

this aspect by both the scientists and the services and

adequate arrangements should be made prior to future

operations for personnel health control and

decontamination of aircraft and equipment. It is

recommended, therefore, that members of the Radiation

Hazard (R.H.) Group be made available to the R.A.A.F.

at an appropriate stage of preparation so that R.A.A.F. personnel can be trained and supervised in the various

decontamination tasks.‘ [RC 36, p.23J

Group Captain Colquhoun also wrote


'All the scientists are somewhat nonplussed with the

amount of radioactivity registered in Totem I and are

most apologetic that the matter was not fully covered

by briefings, and the issuing of equipment before

Totem I. They are co—operating fully now.‘ LRC 800,


A D Thomas, former RAAF Scientific Advisor to the Chief

of the Air Staff, and a participant at the Hurricane and Totem




said in his statement to the Royal Commission

'Considering all the trouble we went to on the ground at the Monte Bellos and at Emu where the level of

radiation present was very small or exposure was easily

controllable, it is extraordinary to think that the

aircraft were flown through the atomic cloud without

means of monitoring the level of radiation or

protection for the aircrew against inhalation of

radioactive dust.' LRC 553, p.16J

TABLE 6.5.2

Estimates of Doses Received by Aircrews after Tl

Gamma Radiation Time in Maximum Activity

Dose Cloud in Clogd

(mSv) (min) (kBq/m )

0.50 10 1100

1.20 45 1100

0.10 55 400

0.06 * 30 400

0.45 10 1100

AWRE Report'T6/54. p.8, RC 307


6. 5. 73 Estimates were made by Gale of the radiation doses received by aircrews in AWRE Report T6/54, ' Operation Totem, Radio-Active Sampling and Analysis Report1 lRC 307j. These estimates are based on the readings of the radiation monitoring equipment installed in the planes and the recorded activity of material trapped by the filters. The results are presented in Table 6. 5. 2.

6. 5. 74 The crew of aircraft No. 52 received a slightly higher gamma ray dose than tnat set down in the Radiological Safety Orders ( see para. 6. 5. 2) as the lowest permissible dosage level ( i. e. the normal working rate per day) . The rest of the crews are estimated to have received gamma ray doses which are well

within these limits and less than the annual limit of one millisievert which the ICRP currently recommends for life long exposure of members of the general public.

6. 5. 75 To the gamma ray dose must be added internal dose from radioactivity which may have been ingested or inhaled. This question is much more problematic. The Royal Commission received evidence that aircrew ate their rations during the flight. The draughty and dusty nature of the interior of the Lincoln aircraft was also discussed in evidence by K Wilson [ Trans. , p. 323] , R Donald [ Trans., p. 812] , R Naggs [ Trans. , p. 1272j and R Turner

[ Trans. , p. 2097 j .

6. 5. 76 In relation to the inhalation problem, it is useful to examine the 1 worst case1 example. Aircraft No. 52. This aircraft was in the cloud for 45 minutes where the maximum activity was 1100 kBq/m^· The maximum permissible concentration ( MPC, see Ch. 4) for 11 hour fission products ( the mean time of cloud

interception) is 10 kBq/rri , i. e. the maximum activity encountered was 110 times greater than the MPC. At 45 minutes in the cloud, this is equivalent to 82 hours of exposure at the MPC.

6. 5. 77 The ICRP has now replaced the MPC with the analogous derived air concentration ( DAC) . This is derived from the annual limit of intake ( ALI) which is the amount of radionuclide intake which leads to the permissible level of dose. The DAC of

radionuclide is that concentration which, if breathed by the 1 reference man1 for a working year of 2000 hours, would lead to the ALI by inhalation.

6. 5. 78 For Totem 1, the permissible level of dose was 30 mSv. This was for one-fifth of the then annual limit for, as is explained above, dose limits were set for 10 week operational periods. Since one-fifth of 2000 hours is 400 hours, and the exposure to the Lincoln crew from inhaled activity was equivalent to 82 hours at the MPC, it follows that their exposure was a maximum of about 20 per cent of the limit allowed for the

operational period. This corresponds to a whole body dose of 6 mSv, well within the limit permitted.


6.5.79 Although well within the operational limits set at the time, the above estimate of dose, from both external radiation and inhaled radioactivity for the crew of Lincoln Aircraft

No. 52, was slightly above the dose limit recommended for members of the public in any one year by the standards of today.

6.5.80 It was negligent to treat the RAAF personnel in a way different to other personnel of those involved in Operation Totem. The problems which arose in the contamination of the aircraft during the flight through the cloud and the radiation

exposures of the air and ground crews should have been

anticipated. Adequate steps should have been taken to monitor personnel and implement adequate protection and decontamination procedures. However, the weight of evidence suggests that the actual radiation doses received by RAAF air and ground crew

working out of Woomera were, in most cases, within the lowest category of exposure set down in the Totem Radiological Safety Orders, with the possible exception of one ground crew member who might have received a dose just into the lower integrated dose

category. As a consequence, their exposures need to be

considered in the light of contemporary knowledge of the effect of low dose levels.

6.5.81 It is not possible to quantify the probability of ingestion of radioactive material. The crew did eat during the flight but none of the witnesses commented on dust coming into contact with their food. R D Donald [Trans., p .812J said that the Lincolns were dusty inside and out but that most of the dust was in the oil and grease and therefore adhered to engines. J Austin said in his statement [RC 323, p . 13j that a continuous

flow of air to the cockpit and fuselage, which then escaped through the many unsealed outlets in the unpressurised aircraft probably helped prevent the retention of air and dust inside the aircraft. He further commented on the very low level of activity

in aircraft 47 when he surveyed it between D+l and 0+26. He said

1A possible explanation is that nearly all the active dust was caught in the ducting, filter and radiator and did not enter the cabin.‘ [ibid., p .14j

Totem 1 - Participation - Richmond

6.5.82 When the Woomera Lincolns intercepted the cloud, information regarding its location, height and movement was relayed to Richmond. The Richmond base also received information from the USAF B29s indicating that they had also intercepted the cloud. However, the two sets of information could not be reconciled: the Woomera report detailed a large cloud of

specified dimensions whereas the USAF reported small patches of cloud over a relatively small area. Meteorological information also suggested that there might be a section of the cloud breaking away and that there was a possibility of the cloud

moving in two directions, towards Darwin or towards Brisbane.


6.5.83 With a confused situation developing at Richmond, it was decided to dispatch a single Lincoln to carry out a

reconnaissance of the general area of both possible cloud routes, to establish if there were two separate clouds, and to identify the direction in which the contacts made by the B29s were moving.

6.5.84 This Lincoln crew was to search the area west of

Longreach at the expected operational height. Three and a half hours after take-off, the aircraft reported increased radiation readings at a position in the vicinity of Charleville. This however, was unable to report the intensity of the cloud and also

suffered a failure of navigational equipment. The aircraft landed after having been eleven and three-quarter hours in the air. Re-examination of its navigation plot showed that contact with the cloud had actually been made west of Longreach.

6.5.85 By now, meteorological information available at Richmond indicated that the cloud was moving in a north-easterly direction towards Rockhampton and a decision was made to move the main Lincoln force to Garbutt Airfield at Townsville to carry out

its search plan.

6.5.86 The five Lincolns searched the area south-east of Townsville between H+44 and H+51 hours. All made contact with the cloud but, given that the cloud passed over Townsville at the time the first aircraft was preparing for take-off, it is likely

that they passed through the wake of the main cloud. Two

Lincolns made contact while ascending out of Townsville and a third intercepted the cloud on its descent to base. Upon return to Richmond, the filters carried by the aircraft all showed evidence of radioactive contamination. After, a period of

isolation, on advice from the USAF, the Lincolns returned to their base at Amberley on 20 October.

6.5.87 Of the Richmond Lincolns, the first reconnaissance aircraft is the one likely to have received the heaviest concentrations of contamination. The other Lincolns contacted the cloud much later and did not fly through its main body. For

the first Lincoln, the gamma ray dose was about 0.5 mSv [RC 307, p.8j, less dose than received by one of the Woomera Lincolns and equal to the doses received by two of them, and within the dose limits prescribed for Operation Totem. If a worst case example

is assumed for inhalation, this is higher than for any of the Woomera Lincolns |_RC 307, p. 8], i.e. 150 minutes in the cloud at a maximum concentration of 400 kBq/m3 is 25 per cent of the limit allowed for the operational period.

6.5.88 The B29s began their search for the cloud on the

morning of the 15 October armed with forecast trajectories from the meteorologists and with information from Detachment 'A' at Woomera. After three hours in flight they were informed that the Woomera Lincolns had located the cloud at the agreed distance of 400 miles (640 km) and, with further information from Emu, the

first B29 made cloud contact at 2325 hours EST. Just over two hours later, the second B29 reported contact.


6.5.89 As previously mentioned, the instrument readings of both B29s established that rather than finding a cloud of the dimensions indicated by the Woomera Lincolns, the USAF had located small patches of isolated and intense activity. The crew

referred to these as 'small isolated hot-spots'. The recording instruments went to full scale. When the aircraft were flown out of the activity for a few minutes to allow the instruments to come back on scale, the aircrews had difficulty in relocating the hot areas. The patches were considered to be about five nautical

miles in diameter.

6.5.90 In his report, Squadron Leader Dick wrote

1...Cpt. McMichael stated that the activity was the most intense he had ever encountered. The radiac equipment was frequently saturated and rendered inoperative until the collection decayed with time.'

[RC 36, Dick, p .8]

In the same report, Dick went on to say that

'On examination, McMichael was found to have received a dosage of 150 mr/hr.'

6.5.91 It is not clear what this means, as it is not possible to examine a person to determine a dose rate. Given that the B29s were well sealed, that the crew used oxygen from the time that cloud contact was made until the time the aircraft landed at Richmond, and that eating and smoking were forbidden from the

time of contact until after the crew had washed and changed at Richmond, the USAF crew members were placed at far less risk than members of the RAAF.

6.5.92 The crews of the B29s were better informed and better prepared for air sampling tasks than the RAAF. Like the crew of the Canberra at Woomera, they were able to offer advice and

expertise to the Lincoln Detachment at Richmond regarding radioactivity and decontamination of Lincolns at Richmond (and Williamtown) immediately after the Lincolns had returned to base.

Totem 2 - Participation

6.5.93 The British authorities decided that sufficient data had been collected by the Canberra aircraft during Totem 1 for sampling not to be needed at Totem 2. The doses received by the crew of the Canberra also meant that they were unable to fly a

second similar mission.

6.5.94 Experience with Totem 1 also caused the scientific requirements to be modified and it was decided that only two sets of filters were required from samples at the 400 mile (640 km) position [RC 36, Headlam, p .3]. It was planned to collect


samples from the 3000 mile (4800 km) area but, in the event, the unfavourable cloud movement resulted in this plan being abandoned [RC 307, p.10]. Only two Lincolns therefore were required for air sampling and these operated from Woomera. The USAF carried out air sampling out of Richmond during Totem 2.

6.5.95 Four Lincoln aircraft tracked the Totem 2 cloud. Two of them acted as couriers and the other two flew through the cloud and collected samples in the filters. After the

consternation caused by the Totem 1 contamination, each captain was issued with two gamma radiation dosimeters and each crew member was issued with a film badge. The crew was instructed to use oxygen while in the cloud to avoid inhaling radioactive dust particles.

6.5.96 The cloud was intercepted about ten and a half hours after the detonation, further south and at a lower altitude than predicted. The two Lincolns flew as instructed through it and measured its size, altitude and depth. One plane spent

45 minutes in the cloud; the other was in contact with it for an hour [RC 307, p.10].

6.5.97 Upon their return to Woomera both of the cloud

intercepting aircraft were found to be heavily contaminated. The dosimeters carried by the captains indicated that no significant doses of gamma radiation had been received by the aircrews

[RC 36, p.10]. However, a considerable quantity of flying clothing was unfit for further use. Both aircraft required a thorough decontamination wash-down.

6.5.98 Although the crew of the sampling aircraft wore film badges, no gamma ray exposure was recorded [RC 324, p.4j. Colquhoun wrote in his report

'It was found however that items of clothing,

navigation bags flying boots and suits, gave counts varying being 75 and 2000 plus. The latter items were put aside for burial in a site approximately one mile from the airfield.' [RC 36, p.30]

6.5.99 Mr J Austin was questioned at length in an attempt to resolve this seeming anomaly. In his evidence, he said that the high counts could have been caused by the crew touching the contaminated exterior of the craft on exit. These counts would have been for isolated patches on the clothing and would not have affected the film badges [Trans., p .6003 J. He also said 1

1 Even if that clothing had been sitting throughout the whole flight with those levels it is probably not enough to have given a very significant film badge reading. After all, 2000 counts per second, I believe

that was the full scale reading of the 1021 monitor, with measuring with the window open, it is a very small level if it is just on one or two spots. Even if that level were on one particular suit, I do not think that


would give a significant film badge reading.1 [Trans., p . 6007]

6.5.100 Estimates of inhaled radioactivity, as calculated for Totem 2, can be derived from Table 6.5.3.

TABLE 6.5.3

Estimates of Maximum Concentration Encountered by Aircraft Sampling T2 Cloud

Aircraft Time Within Maximum Concentration Cloud Encountered

(min) (kBq/m^)

47 45 400

52 60 1100

Source: RC 307, T6/54.

6.5.101 Aircrew of aircraft 52, which is again the worse case example, experienced the equivalent of 110 hours of exposure at the MPC. For the crew of aircraft 47, the corresponding figure is 30 hours as a result of their operations in Totem 2.

6.5.102 These figures can be reduced by up to 30 per cent since oxygen was used during the Totem 2 exercise, but even if this reduction is ignored, the totals for the crews of aircraft 47 and 52 still remain within the allowed 400 hours for the 10 weeks' operational period. The relevant totals are given in Table 6.5.4.

TABLE 6.5.4

Total Equivalent Hours of Exposure to MPC for Aircraft 47 and 52

Test Aircraft 47 Aircraft 52

T1 18.3 82.5

T2 30 110

Total 48.3 192.5


6.5.103 It was planned that, using meteorological information from Emu, the B29s would search for the tailstream of the Totem 2 cloud and, using their sensitive Radiac equipment, home in on the active cloud centre. This practice had been followed on several similar sorties in the USA.

6.5.104 Searches along the forecast trajectory at around 19 000 feet failed to find the cloud. Assuming that the cloud had subsided to lower levels, the B29s adjusted their search to 15 500 feet and, after making sporadic contact, eventually recorded radioactive readings of medium intensity. The B29s continued to track the cloud for as long as their fuel supplies allowed. They landed at Townsville. Aircraft contamination was

regarded as sufficiently low for no special precautions to be taken.

Air Surveys for Ground Contamination

6.5.105 The Totem Alpha task involved an air search by Dakota aircraft to determine the ground contamination resulting from the fallout of radioactive dust from both Totem explosions.

6.5.106 On 14 September 1953, Cambray and Munnock arrived at Richmond to supervise the installation of scientific equipment. This included modified radio-altimeters, a 12 Volt accumulator, a movable bench to accommodate numerous instruments and radio communication and inter-communication for scientists. Three Dakotas were fitted out and all had moved to Woomera by

24 September 1953.

6.5.107 The scientists had said they wished the aircraft to fly at 500 feet (plus or minus 50) over a search area which would be along arcs at 10, 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 160 and 300 statute miles between true bearings 350 and 110 degrees from Emu. Since this would be beyond the fuel endurance of the Dakotas, arrangements

were made for fuel to be obtained at Alice Springs and

Oodnadatta. Preliminary surveys were carried out which made it clear that at least eight hours' endurance would be required. To conserve hours, it was decided that the Dakotas would operate out of Emu, commencing their operations with full fuel tanks and having a safe nine hours' endurance.

6.5.108 Two Dakotas were positioned at Emu on the afternoon of 15 October. Both took off at first light the next day but one returned with engine malfunction which eventually required an engine change at Emu. Although a reserve aircraft was flying from Woomera, the other Dakota flew the rest of its survey. It located the fallout in the briefed sector but it was of such intensity at the 10 and 20 mile arcs that the scientists

requested it to fly to 60 and 80 mile arcs. After completing these tasks, the aircraft refuelled at Oodnadatta, flew to the maximum intensity point on the 160 mile arc and tracked the fallout back to Emu.


6.5.109 The reserve aircraft landed at Emu then flew the 40, 80 and 160 mile arcs and stayed overnight at Oodnadatta. It

completed the survey of the 300 mile arc on Dl+2 then tracked back on the line of maximum fallout which was plotted to lie between true bearings 045 and 055 from Emu.

6.5.110 One of the aircraft carried out further surveys on 17 and 18 October. These were intensive searches within 20 miles of the Totem 1 explosion.

6.5.111 With the possibility of enhanced background radiation from the Totem 1 blast, it was necessary for surveys to be undertaken to obtain background readings before Totem 2 was fired. Two Dakotas started a preliminary survey from Woomera on 24 October 1953 to search the 160 and 300 mile arcs, then stayed

overnight at Alice Springs. One Dakota became unserviceable there but, after spares were flown from Woomera, both aircraft flew a 400 mile arc before flying to Woomera via Oodnadatta. On D-l day, the 10, 20, 40 and 80 mile arcs were flown by the

Dakotas en route to position themselves at Emu.

6.5.112 The two Dakotas set out at first light on

28 October 1953 (D2+1) having been briefed that

(a) the most likely area of fallout would lie between true bearings 11 and 12 from Emu; and

(b) as a result of upper winds the fallout would be scattered and not at all intense after 20 miles (32 km).

6.5.113 Searches at the 10, 20, 40, 80 and 160 mile arcs showed the fallout to be very scattered. At the request of the RS2 team, the Dakotas then flew south to Tarcoola where they orbited while the scientists compared results. It was then decided that the Dakotas should fly north to Goober Pedy. Upon arrival, a heading was set for the 300 mile arc in the vicinity of Lake Torrens. This arc was completed and the Dakotas flew to Emu.

6.5.114 On 29 October, the Task Totem Alpha operation was completed with two Dakotas carrying out independent creeping line-ahead surveys 40 miles to the south of Emu.

Contamination of Ground Crew - Woomera

6.5.115 It was alleged by R Naggs LRC 893 that he worked on the Lincolns at Woomera, repairing and cleaning booster units on D1. He remembered carrying out these tasks with Leading

Aircraftsman Hobdell. They also serviced aircraft on Dl+1 until they were ordered to stop work and to shower to remove



6.5.116 As the RAAF records and the statement of J Austin 1_KC 323 ] point out, the first servicing would not have been until Dl+1. The records do not show if aircraft were serviced on Dl+2 (a Saturday). Austin said his enquiries on Dl+7 showed that Hobdell did not wear his contaminated overalls on Dl+2 and Dl+3. He wore them again on Dl+4 and, for a short time, on Dl + 5 when

Butler instituted his health control system. Austin said that Hobdell1s overalls were the most contaminated and that another badly contaminated set was probably that of Naggs.

6.5.117 Austin calculated the estimated dose which Hobdell would have received from working on the aircraft and from wearing contaminated overalls. This can be used to estimate the upper

limit of the dose which Naggs would have received.

6.5.118 From AW RE Report T106/54 [RC 239], Austin calculated that a man in lightweight clothing standing on the wing of the most contaminated Lincoln would receive a dose rate of 0.035 rep per hour. Given that Hobdell probably knelt or sat on the wing,

near the engines, for part of the three hours he worked on the aeroplane, Austin concludes that the dose which Hobdell received from the contaminated aircraft would have been between 0.1 and 0.5 rep.

6.5.119 Austin monitored Hobdell1s overalls on Dl+8 and activity was recorded up to 0.018 microcurie/square centimetre. Using this and data on beta measurement reported in T106/54 [RC 239], Austin estimated Hobdell‘s dose from his overalls shown

in Table 6.5.5.

TABLE 6.5.5

Estimated Dose from Wearing Contaminated Overalls

Time of Wearing No. of Hours Dose


i Hl+29 to Hl+35 6 4.40

2 Dl+4 10 0.54

3 Dl+5 6 0.25

Total 5.19

Source: RC 323


6.5.120 Hobdell 1 s total dose was thus between 5.29 and

5.79 rep, or between 53 and 58 mSv.

6.5.121 Pursuant to the radiological standards for the Totem operations, Hobdell was permitted a dose of 0.3 rep per day. The actual dose he received was thus far in excess of that permitted. Hobdell and Naggs were in fact taken off work which would expose

them to contamination for the rest of the series.

6.5.122 The incident demonstrates the lack of foresight in failing to institute a system of aircraft decontamination and health control from the outset of operations at Woomera.

Allegations by Participants

6.5.123 The Royal Commission heard evidence and had statements from personnel who took part in the Totem series and who were concerned that safety measures were less than adequate. Several of these attributed their current health problems to their experiences at the nuclear tests. It is convenient here to group

them into aircrew and those who had ground tasks.

6.5.124 Evidence confirms the appalling lack of foresight on the part of the British authorities who did not perceive the need for special precautionary measures for air and ground crew during and after the Lincoln cloud sampling of Totem 1.

6.5.125 The Royal Commission was told of aircrew flying through the Totem 1 cloud without special protective clothing, without film badges, without any special instructions to use oxygen while in the cloud, and without any special orders to refrain from eating or drinking in the aircraft after the cloud had been

intercepted. The Royal Commission further heard that rations were eaten in flight, that the aircraft became contaminated, and that upon arrival back at Woomera no special system of

decontamination of either personnel or aircraft had been prepared [RC 25; RC 31; RC 32; RC 33; RC 79; RC 118; RC 217; RC 564j .

Some of these witnesses also told of flying in the Totem 2 cloud where, after the consternation caused by the Totem 1 operation, the use of oxygen was ordered, outer protective clothing and film badges were worn, and eating and drinking in flight were

forbidden IRC 25; RC 31; RC 79; RC 111J.

6.5.126 Two other witnesses gave evidence that they were involved in cloud sampling and aerial sampling of ground contamination without wearing special protective clothing LRC 107; RC 30j. The probability is that neither of these witnesses needed protective clothing. One flew in the link

Lincoln at Totem 1 and at Totem 2 he was in one of the courier Lincolns which sighted the cloud but did not fly through it. The


other witness took part in the Dakota surveys of ground

contamination, flying on average 500 feet above the ground at distances 100-300 miles (160-480 km) from the sites of the blasts.

6.5.127 Four witnesses said that they had worked on aircraft at Woomera after they had returned from cloud sampling and before the decontamination system was in operation [RC 72; RC 37; RC 58; RC 89]. Another witness [RC 579] confirmed that this was done.

Implications of these allegations have been discussed above.

6.5.128 Major allegations from personnel involved at Emu relate to re-entry into the Forward Area without protective clothing. One witness [RC 167], said he was an electrical mechanic at Site A for Totem 1 and about two hours after the blast he went into

the contaminated area without protective clothing, film badge or dosimeter. Another stated that a couple of hours after Totem 1 he was taken to within 500 yards of the crater [RC 568]. He had worn no protective clothing while watching the blast but it is

unclear if this was the case in the Forward Area. Nevertheless, he did undergo decontamination at the RH unit upon leaving the Forward Area. Another witness stated that he went into the Forward Area to help linesmen after Totem 1 without protective

clothing and that after he left the area his clothing registered radioactive readings on scientists' Geiger counters [RC 157]. One witness alleged that he went into the Forward Area within a couple of hours of the Totem 2 blast and was able to do this because the barrier preventing access along one of the roads had not been put in place [RC 582]. In his statement, another witness said that the scientists in the Forward Area wore protective clothing but the workmen wore ordinary clothes.

6.5.129 The Royal Commission could find no information to support these allegations. However, a report written of an inspection of the site five days after Totem 1 details the precautionary measures which were taken to prevent unauthorised personnel from entering the Forward Area and to protect people once they were there [RC 800, p.530994]. This says

'The measures were somewhat similar to those taken in decontamination of personnel affected by persistent gases, but much more elaborate.

1A danger area was defined, near the centre of burst where nobody entered at all.

1 The remainder of the contaminated area was marked off from the "clean area". Contaminated vehicles (three Land Rovers) were segregated from the others and parked in a separate park. 1

1 Personnel, before entering the affected area, were required to strip completely and dress in protective suits, rubber boots with canvas over-boots and rubber gloves...


' Each person carries an individual dosimeter which records up to 200 milli-roentgen (0.2 R) as well as a less sensitive individual dosimeter which is pinned to the front of the protective suit.' [RC 800, p.530997]

6.5.130 After describing in detail the decontamination process at the RH unit, the report goes on to say

'The personnel working in this area are required to go through this routine every time they leave the area which means that they do it at least twice a day - at lunch break and stand down in the evening - and more often if they need to go into the clean area for any other reason.' [RC 800, p.530997]

6.5.131 The Royal Commission also heard that protective clothing was worn in the Forward Area [RC 548; Trans., p. 8540 j. This witness described in detail the physical discomfort which was caused by wearing the protective clothing in the high

temperatures but was insistent that full safety precautions were adhered to [Trans., p.8552].

6.5.132 As will be referred to time and time again in this

Report, the passage of more than thirty years, and the fact that the authorities showed an almost paranoid obsession with security and secrecy which prevented servicemen and civilians knowing accurately or fully what was occurring, may have resulted in some

confused recollections and misinterpretations by some of those giving evidence.

6.5.133 One witness could not recall the RH control barrier being in place shortly after Totem 2 when in fact it was in place before the detonation of Totem 1. Similarly, while another person was no doubt laying lines for Totem 2, his oral evidence

indicated that since this was in connection with recording instruments [Trans., p.3624] it is most likely that this was not in the Forward Area since the bulk of the recording was outside it. He would not have passed through RH without wearing

protective clothing and although he says he wore a film badge at all times [Trans., p.3619] he is not recorded in the UK records as having received an exposure to radiation.

6.5.134 One witness [RC 167 J said that he watched the Totem 1 blast from site A and drove in to the Forward Area, close to the bomb site, two to three hours later. He then returned to site A. He claimed that neither entry to nor exit from the Forward Area was through the RH control unit. Given the location of the RH

unit close to site A and between site A and the Totem 1 tower, the Commission believes he is mistaken. He further said that he entered the Forward Area again before the Totem 2 blast and although he could not remember wearing a respirator he did wear

protective clothing and a film badge and underwent

decontamination at the RH unit. He is recorded as having received a dose of 40 millirems.


6.5.135 One witness [RC 154J told the Royal Commission that he was three to five miles from the Totem 1 blast, the brilliant light of which burnt his eyes. Another commented that he was no more than four miles from the blast which shook the ground and

caused some people to stumble and sit down [RC 51 J. Both men were most probably at site A or site B, four and a half miles from the Totem towers and the nearest points of personnel location for the blasts.

6.5.136 One witness [RC 163] said that personnel in the Forward Area used to loosen their respirators to let out sweat. Evidence from participants at other tests suggests that this was not an it * 1ated occurrence. This action would have increased the risk

_ inhalation of radioactive material.

Recorded Dose Levels at Totem

6.5.137 Recorded doses for the crew of the RAF Canberra and estimated doses for the Woomera Lincolns have been discussed above. The RAF aircrew received the highest recorded doses; estimates for the RAAF Lincoln crews were a maximum of about one-thirtieth of these.

6.5.138 Estimates for Woomera ground crew who worked on contaminated aircraft are also given above. Apart from these, and the aircrews, four Australians and five UK participants, other than aircrew, received over 4 rem each. Most of these UK participants were involved in RH activities. The records are not

sufficiently complete to allow identification of the tasks of the Australians although one of the higher doses is recorded for a scientist from the ANU.

6.5.139 Over 90 UK and 56 Australian personnel received no doses or doses which were too low to be recorded by the

monitoring equipment.

6.5.140 Allowing for their incompleteness and inaccuracies, the recorded dose levels make it likely that no Australian

participants at the Totem tests received doses above those permitted for the operational period.

Hurried Evacuation of Emu

6.5.141 The issue of ' hurried departure1 from Emu has been raised by a number of commentators, particularly by Tame and Robotham [1982] who, in Chapter 6 of their book ‘Maralinga1, have claimed that

1 Immediately after the bomb had been dropped from its tower and exploded, the fallout cloud began drifting,


as in Totem I, in a north-easterly direction, away from Emu village and its living quarters. Then, to the dismay of the watching scientists, wind sheer LsicJ took the cloud back on itself, heading it directly for

their home base. It is not difficult to imagine the haste with which they would have packed and departed. Nor is it difficult to imagine the reluctance there would have been to own up to such an undignified

flight. The questions of safety posed by such a

confession would indeed have been difficult to answer.'

6.5.142 There has been little doubt that prior to Totem 2 on 26 October 1953 a decision had been taken to leave Emu quickly. The official close-down of Emu on 29 November 1953, only a month after the Totem 2 explosion, left little time for organising the

removal of all items used at Emu. The evacuation from Emu

appears to have been orderly, if a little rushed· in an

Attorney-General's Department minute, dated 26 April 1954, it was noted that

'From 15th October, 1953, until the final close down of the camp, the U.K. and Australian personnel were moving out from X200 in small parties almost daily until the final party left by convoy, arriving in Woomera on or about 3rd December, 1953.' [RC 800, p.540450]

In the same minute, it was stated that

'There is still ample evidence on the various sites and in the rubbish tips at X200 of pieces of electrical equipment which still appear to be in good condition yet discarded by U.K. staff and not considered to be worth retrieving by the Australian authorities...[There

are] places where sand had drifted and covered over small piles of condensers, resistors and other pieces of equipment. In almost every hut 1 saw articles of small value which did not appear to have been used, yet were discarded, and which even now may have

deteriorated through weather conditions to such an extent as to make them unusable.' LRC 80U, p.540451]

6.5.143 That there was a hurried departure from Emu is not disputed. One month to move a large quantity of personnel and equipment from an isolated place such as Emu is a relatively short time.

6.5.144 The reason for the hurried departure, and the

'evidence' provided by Tame and Robotham is open to dispute. They suggested that contamination was the reason; a more supportable proposition is the conclusion of the Totem test program in an extremely isolated part of the Australian

continent, and the desire of all concerned to leave. British scientists, with vital equipment for their atomic program, were eager to return to the UK.


6.5.145 Evidence used to support the hasty evacuation, such as • the QM Stores has a sizeable quantity of kitchen and dining room equipment, including crockery etc., that would have to be packed before it could be moved1 [RC 800, p.540452], is more probably explained as 1 the presence of appreciable quantities of...low priority UK stores' [Symonds 1985, p.220]. The order of priority

for the transport of stores from Emu was established by UK officials shortly after Totem 2. 1 The U.K. party packed all of the stores required for return to England and storage in Australia. Those stores were marked in various categories ranging from A-E and were removed from X200 (Emu) in order of priority...' [RC 800, p.540450]. Problems encountered, such as the unavailability of necessary aircraft, delayed the departure and resulted in many low priority stores being left behind.

Centurion Tank

6.5.146 Following a decision to expose a Centurion tank to the Totem 1 atomic blast, a party led by Captain J G Monaghan left Puckapunyal on 17 July 1953 to deliver Centurion tank No. 169041 to the Totem test site (X200) at Emu in South Australia.

6.5.147 Movement from Puckapunyal to Emu involved Monaghan, a tank crew of four, a transporter crew of two, and a Commonwealth policeman who joined the party at Port Pirie. With the exception of Monaghan, all the army personnel returned to Puckapunyal as

soon as the tank was delivered to the test site. A Department of Supply cameraman was with them for part of the journey and a film was made of the journey.

6.5.148 Monaghan remained to prepare the tank under the supervision of UK scientists and placed it 350 yards from the Totem 1 tower. The blast of the Totem 1 explosion on 15 October tore off the tank's mudguards, and the vehicle was dusted with

radioactive fallout. AWRE Report T104/54 details the radiation survey conducted after the test:

Ά survey made with a type 1021 monitor on Dl+11

indicated a general gamma level of 50 c/s close to the Tank, but with high spots at any brasswork.

'It was recommended that the more active parts of the Tank should be washed down, which was being done [and] the vehicle was removed to the clean areas.' [RC 280, P* 19]

6.5.149 The tank was driven from the test site on 18 October under its own power while 'still slightly radioactive' and, on 26 October, was checked for radioactivity at Health Control. Monaghan returned to Melbourne on 4 November 1953.


6.5.150 The tank was not exposed to Totem 2 which took place the next day at 0700 hours GST. The RH Group found induced and deposited radioactivity on the tank; the first could not be removed but did not present a significant hazard; the latter was down to levels of less than five counts per minute per square

inch, as a result of Monaghan's preliminary decontamination work. On 1 November, the RH Group declared that the residual radiation 1 did not constitute any hazard1 [RC 800, p.540765]. Eventually

it was considered safe to move the tank back to Puckapunyal, although it was still radioactive.

6.5.151 In mid-November, Monaghan returned to the site with a new two-man tank crew to drive the tank under its own power to Woomera a distance then estimated to be 650 km. On 19 November, the party set off, the tank towing a five-ton rubber-tyred

trailer and accompanied by a one-ton utility and trailer carrying petrol and stores. The route taken by road traffic in and out of Emu at that time crossed the fallout plume of Totem 2. Monaghan had been advised there was no danger, so no radiation monitoring

equipment was carried. The tank threw up clouds of dust and sand, a large amount of which was blown back into the driver's compartment, because of the absence of the front mudguards.

6.5.152 On 26 November the tank broke down near Ingomar

[_RC 800, p. 531330]. As the damage to the tank's engine could not be repaired on the spot, the tank was covered and locked. Monaghan and his crew proceeded to Woomera Airfield. The

recovery team returned to Adelaide.

6.5.153 A second recovery team from Central Command Workshop, led by Staff Sergeant S V Phillips, left Adelaide on 21 May 1954 to move the tank by transporter from Woomera to Whyalla. It arrived on 27 May, was loaded onto the SS Ellaroo on 30 May and

reached Victoria Dock, Melbourne, on 12 June 1954.

6.5.154 The Southern Command detachment of No. 1 Movement Control Group then took charge of the tank and arranged for it to be railed to Dysart (Puckapunyal's tank loading siding). An Armoured Regiment transporter then moved the tank from Dysart to


6.5.155 Some time after the tank was returned to Puckapunyal, Monaghan learnt that radioactive material had collected inside the engines of the RAAF Lincoln bombers used to track atomic clouds. Since the tank was powered by the same type of engine, he suggested that it should be checked. The procedures required

for working on contaminated Lincoln engines were in place at Woomera and Amberley in October 1953, so precautionary measures were taken in relation to the tank, pending a check of its level of contamination. At Puckapunyal, the tank had been impounded in

a barbed-wire enclosure well away from the camp area and marked with a radiation warning sign.


6.5.156 On 26 July 1954, the tank was checked for radioactivity at Puckapunyal by members of CXRL who found that it was not seriously contaminated. The average level of activity was J00 counts per minute, and higher in areas coated with a heavy

mud deposit [RC 800, p. 540668 j. The tank was washed down to remove the accumulation of contaminated material and then cleared for subsequent use.

6.5.157 Members of the Royal Australian Electrical Mechanical Engineers (RAEME) commenced stripping and inspection of the tank on 17 August.



(a) Radiological safety procedures at Emu, including

decontamination, were well planned and executed. The Royal Commission cannot exclude the possibility that some unplanned incidents occurred, including the loosening or removal of respirators by participants in the Forward Areas.

(b) The aircrews for Operation Totem should have been

included in the general radiological safety planning for Operation Totem.

(c) It was negligent to allow aircrew to fly through the

Totem 1 cloud without proper instructions and without protective clothing.

(d) Aircrew of the Lincoln aircraft at Totem 1 should have been supplied with radiation monitoring devices and given instructions as to the behaviour of these devices when in the cloud or a contaminated aircraft. The failure to provide this

equipment and instructions was negligent. Ground crew should have been similarly equipped and instructed.

(e) Air and ground crew of Lincoln aircraft used for

Totem 1 suffered exposure to radiation but the doses which they received are now impossible to determine accurately. It is unlikely that the doses exceeded the level of dose which others involved in the program were authorised to receive.

(f) There was lack of foresight shown in tne failure to

institute a proper system of decontamination for RAAF aircraft at Woomera before the Totem 1 detonation.

(g ) Those crew members who travelled with the Centurion tank on its journey from Emu to Puckapunyal were subject to radiation exposure. No crew members wore film badges for any part of the journey, and the Royal Commission is therefore unable

to determine the level of exposure for any members of tne crew.


(h) There is no evidence to support allegations of an

emergency evacuation of Emu after the Totem series. Stores which remained at Emu were low priority items not required in the UK or at Woomera.

(i) Those people exposed to radiation as a result of their participation in the Totem tests have an increased risk of cancers as a result of that exposure, although the Royal Commission has been unable to quantify the probable increase.




7.0 Introduction

7.0. 1 With the prospect ot testing a thermonuclear weapon in the Pacific in 1957 in mind, British authorities urgently required experimental information on the interaction of light elements (lithium, deuterium and tritium) in the environment of an exploding fission weapon.

7.0. 2 On 16 May 1955, Menzies received a personal message from Sir Anthony Eden seeking agreement to two tests of nuclear weapons neither of which would exceed a yield of about two and a half times that of the Hurricane device. They were to be atomic

explosions with the inclusion of light elements 1 as a boost1. Eden emphasised that the tests would not be thermonuclear in character.

7.0. 3 Because the yield of the second test was expected to be in the region of 60 kt, British authorities considered use of the new Maralinga Range would probably be unacceptable to Australian authorities. Furthermore, the Range was unlikely to be completed by Apri1-May 1956.

7.0. 4 The UK turned once again to the Monte Bellos for two

further tests in May and June of 1956. The operation was

code-named Mosaic.

7.0. 5 As with Operation Hurricane, Mosaic was mounted as a military operation. Commodore H Martell, RN, was appointed Operational Commander. The Scientific Director was C A Adams, and the technical conduct of the trials was the responsibility of

the Scientific Superintendent, I Maddock.

7.0. 6 For the first time, an official Australian Atomic

Weapons Tests Safety Committee (AWTSC) was set up to monitor the safety of the tests on behalf of the Australian Government. The Safety Committee had the power to veto a proposed firing if, in the opinion of its members, safety criteria were not fully met

(see Section 7.2).

7.0. 7 The Scientific Director and tne AWTSC were advised of probable weather patterns and fallout contours by the Theoretical Predictions and Meteorology Groups (including Australian Staff). If it was agreed between the Director and the AWTSC that the

criteria for safe firing had been met, they jointly notified the Operational Commander. The order to fire then rested with him.


7.0. 8 Radiological Safety Regulations for Operation Mosaic were promulgated by the AWRE on 17 January 1956.

7.0. 9 Health Controller for the operation was J A Hole, who was responsible to the Operational Commander through the Scientific Superintendent for all aspects of radiological safety.

7.0. 10 Initial planning in the UK was handled by the Buffalo Executive, which had been established for the forthcoming trials planned for Maralinga in late 1956. Later, a Mosaic Executive was set up. In Australia, the Atomic Weapons Tests Committee

(AWTC) had been constituted in May 1955 to co-ordinate the construction and establishment of the Maralinga Range. A sub-committee called the Monte Bello Working Party was set up under the chairmanship of Captain W B M Marks, RAN, to handle organisation for the Mosaic tests.

7.0. 11 HMAS Warrego and Karangi carried out mooring, surveying and marking operations from October to November 1955. HMAS Fremantle and Junee provided transport and logistic support during the first firing, and HMAS Karangi undertook the same duties during the second. The RAN also erected a base camp at Onslow.

7.0. 12 The RAAF air support consisted of transportation, signals, search and rescue and air traffic control services, as well as security patrols before and after each firing. All operational flying was an RAF responsibility. However, Royal Air Force Canberra aircraft were used for cloud sampling operations

from RAAF Pearce, and were flown to RAAF Amber ley for

decontamination. RAF Varsities and helicopters carried out ground contamination surveys, and RAF Canberras and Varsities tracked the clouds.

7.0. 13 In addition to RAF radiation detection flights to track the cloud over the mainland, an Australia-wide system of recording radioactive fallout operated continually for several days after the tests. Air samplers and sticky paper samplers were provided by the AW RE for use by Commonwealth X-ray and

Radium Laboratory staff on behalf of the AWTSC. In addition, H R Marston of the CSIRO led a team which measured the

radioactive content of the thyroids of cattle and sheep in Australia.

7.0. 14 Mosaic G1 was tower-mounted on Trimouille Island (Figure 5.0.1). It was exploded at 1150 hours WAST on

16 May 1956, and had an approximate yield of 15 kt. The cloud from the explosion rose to 21 000 feet rather than the maximum predicted height of 17 000 feet, and radioactivity was detected on the mainland from Onslow to Broome at 0600 hours the next day

and during the next 24 hours, although the level was well below that set by the AWTSC for public safety. Nevertheless, some problems were suggested in articles in the press.


7.0.15 Mosaic G2, also tower-mounted, was exploded on Alpha Island at 1014 hours WAST on 19 June 1956 (Figure 5.0.1). It produced a yield of 60 kt, making it the largest device exploded by the UK in Australia. The cloud rose to 47 000 feet,

considerably higher than the maximum predicted height of 37 000 feet. Again there was some low level radioactive

deposition on the mainland. The AWTSC reported, however, that the Mosaic safety measures were completely adequate and that the Mosaic tests posed no hazard to persons nor damaged livestock or other property. Claims were made that the main cloud had passed over the mainland and that something had gone radically wrong with the test (see Section 7.4).

7.1 The Choice of the Monte Bello Islands

7.1.1 The primary reason for using the Monte Bello Islands for the Mosaic tests appears to have been the need to push ahead as quickly_ as possible with the development of a hydrogen weapon. Maralinga was not ready and any attempt to use Maralinga before

completion would have set back the preparation for the Buffalo series of tests. The UK authorities also considered it vital that the Mosaic tests take place in May-June 1956 in order not to hold up their thermonuclear program.

7.1.2 Penney also suggested that the UK was doubtful if the Australians would have allowed a 60 kt explosion at Maralinga. He was asked why the Monte Bellos were chosen since it was known that the meteorological conditions were far from ideal. He


1 Cook was running this weapons development committee. The top priority job was thermonuclear. We wanted to see if we could make a few fast neutrons; and we wanted to do it in yields of 40, 50, 60 kilotons. Cook as the Chairman said where can this be fired? I neard all

this later from him because he was doing the running job. Maralinga was not going to be possible; it was too early; and if we had said to the Australians

50 kilotons at Maralinga I think they would have said no. So we could not go there. The other possibility was to ask the Americans. Well, we had been through that hoop; and therefore it was either Monte Bello or wait - not to do it.' LTrans., p.7059]

7.1.3 Tne Monte Bello Islands had already been contaminated by the Hurricane test, the Monte Bello land and sea areas had been extensively surveyed and were subject to limited access restrictions under Australian law, the naval support facilities

necessary for further tests at Monte Bello had already been tried and proved at Hurricane, and finally the remoteness of the Monte Bellos made the Islands attractive to the UK authorities, particularly when testing components which would be used in the

controversial hydrogen atomic weapon.


7.1.4 As was indicated in relation to the Hurricane test, the major difficulty with the use of the Monte Bello Islands was the limited periods in which the weather would be suitable to enable the tests to be carried out safely. The Australians had been informed in 1951 that for climatic reasons atomic test trials could only be carried out at the Monte Bellos during October. Hurricane was fired in October. Even then the meteorological conditions were difficult to predict and were subject to rapid change.

7.1.5 In May and June, the general flow of air was westerly in the tropical zone of north-west Australia. Westerly winds were clearly unfavourable because the fallout would be blown directly to the mainland. However there were short-lived changes which took the winds towards the north, and led to a more

favourable configuration. The difficulty was to predict the favourable occasions and also the length of time oefore the winds returned to the westerly flow [Trans., p.5492].

7.1.6 The Royal Commission was told of several analyses of the meteorological conditions at the Monte Bello Islands at that time of the year. Dwyer estimated that there would be two to four satisfactory or nearly satisfactory opportunities between April and July [RC 556]. Adams looked at the data and concluded

that there could be two or three occasions in both May and June [RC 558, p.1696]. Fotheringham and Phillpot also carried out a study in January 1956 and concluded that there would only be one suitable day in three months.


7.1.7 The Monte Bello Islands were not a suitable site for the Mosaic tests because the chances of obtaining suitable occasions to fire were too low.

7.2 The Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee

7-2.1 The Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee (AWTSC) was officially constituted on 21 July 1955, following discussions between the Australian Prime Minister, Mr Menzies, and his Ministers for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) and Supply (Mr Beale). The Committee was established in response to the need for an expert Australian body to review the UK Government's proposed test safety measures and firing criteria. It reported to the

Prime Minister through the Minister for Supply. In its

Constitution the Committee's functions were stated to be

' (a) to examine information and other data supplied by the United Kingdom Government relating to atomic weapons tests from time to time proposed to be carried


out in Australia for the purpose of determining whether the safety measures proposed to be taken in relation to such tests are adequate for the prevention of injury to persons or damage to livestock and other property as a result of such tests and

'(b) to advise the Prime Minister, through the Minister for Supply, of the conclusions arrived at by the Committee as a result of such examination and in

particular as to whether and if so what additional, alternative or more extensive safety measures are considered necessary or desirable.' [RC 800, p.552565J

7.2.2 Members of the Safety Committee at its inception were: Professor L H Martin (Defence Scientific Adviser) as Chairman, Professor E W Titterton (Head, School of Nuclear Physics, AND), W A S Butement (Chief Scientist, Department of Supply),

Dr C E Eddy (Director, Commonwealth X-ray and Radium Laboratory), and Professor J P Baxter (Australian Atomic Energy Commission).

7.2.3 Mr L J Dwyer (Director, Commonwealth Bureau of

Meteorology) was co-opted to the Safety Committee after its first meeting and attended as an official member from 6 March 1956. D J Stevens joined the Safety Committee on 23 July 1956 after the death of Dr Eddy. (He had also replaced Eddy as Director of

CXRL. ) He resigned in 1958 and rejoined in I960.

Professor Baxter attended only one AWTSC meeting before the Safety Committee's reconstitution in 1957.

7.2.4 In March 1957, the AWTSC was reconstituted with a

membership of three, namely, Titterton (Chairman), Dwyer and Stevens. The new committee was responsible for all matters of public safety arising from the conduct of the atomic weapons tests. The National Radiation Advisory Committee (NRAC), was

established in 1957, under the chairmanship of Sir Macfarlane Burnet, and included former AWTSC members Martin and B u t e m e n t . This Committee reported to the Prime Minister on the issue of radiological effects in the community.

7.2.5 Dr J H Martin, Chairman of the Cancer Institute Board, was co-opted to the AWTSC at its 25th Meeting on

5 September 1957. He had attended the second Antler test as an official safety observer in place of Stevens. He eventually replaced Stevens who resigned from the Safety Committee on 22 August 1958. Martin himself resigned in January 1960, and was

replaced on the return of Stevens from overseas. Dwyer died in May 1962. He was succeeded as Director of the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology, and in December 1962 as a member of the AWTSC, by W J Gibbs.

7.2.6 The duties of secretary to the Committee were performed until 1957 by H A Wills, an officer of the Department of Supply. Dr J C Bower was appointed Secretary upon the Committee's reconstitution in March 1957, but died shortly thereafter. In


August 1957, J R Moroney was appointed as the Joint Scientific Secretary of the AWTSC and NRAC. He was the only full-time member of the two groups. In 1967 the AWTSC was again

reconstituted and Moroney became an executive member. The AWTSC was disbanded in 1973.

7.3 Criteria for Safe Firing and Meteorological Forecasting

7.3.1 In the telegram of 16 May 1955 in which Sir Anthony

Eden proposed two further tests in the Monte Bello Islands, he told Mr Menzies that although the proposed tests would each have yields less than two and a half times greater than the Hurricane explosion, the fallout would be less than one-fifth of that of Hurricane tRC 800, p. 550712 J. The basis for the low level of

fallout was that the proposed tests, subsequently known as the Mosaic series, would involve weapons fired on top of towers rather than in the hold of a ship. Eden further asserted that the '...shots would not be exploded unless conditions were such as to involve absolutely no danger to health of people or animals on the mainland. . . '

7.3.2 Menzies agreed in principle to the tests on

20 June 1955 and asked ' that the most meticulous care be

exercised in the scientific checking of safety measures to ensure the safety of people and animals on the mainland1 [RC 800, p. 550979] The Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee (AWTSC) was constituted on 21 July 1955 with the task of examining data to determine if the safety measures proposed for the tests were adequate for the prevention of injury to persons or damage to

livestock and other property [RC 800, p.552565J. The AWTSC was set up with Maralinga in mind, but Operation Mosaic became its first involvement with atomic weapon tests.

7.3.3 The difficulties in setting criteria and predicting fallout for Mosaic were acknowledged at the outset. Gaps also existed in British knowledge. The following extract from the report 'Predictions of Ground Contamination at Operation Mosaic1

i_RC 284, TPN78/55] gives ample indication that the predictions could not be relied upon:

(a) 'Not confident of ability to predict fall-out in conditions of strong wind shear as at Totem 2.'

(b) ' Actual contamination will of course vary with the meteorological conditions and will nave to be estimated at the time from the meteorological

forecasts. '

(c) ' The problem of estimating cloud height is

discussed in Section 3, in which it was shown that the height reached with a given explosion can vary quite widely, depending on whether or not water vapour


condenses in the rising cloud. If the cloud remains dry, we feel confident of our ability to predict its height quite accurately by the simple methods of Section 3. If the cloud is condensed, we feel that the quoted formula will give an upper limit to its height.

Further progress on developing an improved theory of cloud rise is likely before Mosaic.

' The basic difficulty, which we cannot feel certain to resolve before further weapon test data are available, is our present inability to be sure whether or not condensation will occur.'

(d) 1 What we do not yet know is how the fall-out

pattern will vary with the amount of wind shear.1

(e) 'The only occasions when stem contamination alone might possibly be of significance on the mainland would be those for which the low level winds blew directly towards the nearest point of the mainland while the

mean wind to cloud height was in a safe direction.

'Estimation of fall-out pattern from the stem, particularly in conditions of strong wind shear, is not at all easy, and we have not yet obtained any results which can be usefully applied to future predictions.'

7.3.4. One of the authors of this paper was A G Matthewman. His evidence before the Royal Commission on these uncertainties is quoted:

' Q · So, I take it as a consequence you were all

concerned that for carrying out what in any view was a highly dangerous enterprise the theoretical basis for the decision to fire were blessed with those

uncertainties, is that also fair comment?

Ά. Yes, of course, the result was uncertain.

‘ Q . I think in some respects those uncertainties are borne out by the actual experiments as we discussed a moment ago, in other words, predictions did not accord with the ultimate experience?

'A. Yes, indeed. But may I just say there that there are two, well at least two aspects of this: it is not to be inferred that variations between the predictions and the actuality were all attributable to errors in the prediction of cloud height and the prediction of

the fallout contour. They arose from a quite different source in both cases. The serious aspect was that however exact the forecast of the pattern might have been, given the different winds, if the winds were not

the true winds that s imply violated the whole


experience and it is, I am quite certain, nine tenths of the explanation of the departures were due to errors in the forecast of low level winds.' (.Trans. , p. 6819 j

7.3.5 At its first meeting on 8 July 1955, the Safety

Committee agreed that neither the Mosaic nor Buffalo series of tests planned for 1956 should proceed until the United Kingdom had supplied sufficient information to enable the Safety Committee to calculate the hazards involved.

7.3.6 A visit to Australia by UK representatives involved in Mosaic was held in July 1955. The party comprised Mart-ell, Adams, Menaul, Dodds and Fotheringhara.

7.3.7 On 27 July, Adams met Butement and in the. Summary of Actions for the Mosaic Mission to Australia reported

'Mr Butement was given a broad description of the scope of the operation and an indication of the probable yields as at present envisaged.

'It was suggested to him that safety precautions and permissible conditions for firing should be governed by A32, of which Australia holds a copy.

'He was also shown the contamination contours

(normalised to 20 kilotons) for Totem 1 and Totem 2. These contours give the results of conditions of virtually no wind shear (Totem 1) and large wind shears (Totem 2).

1 He was also shown curves based on the results of estimated contamination as dependent on wind speed and distances. It was suggested to him that on the basis of these documents it should be possible, after study by the Safety Committee, for an agreed set of principles to be formulated governing permissible meteorological conditions for firing the two rounds.

'Mr Butement agreed to this course...

'At meetings with Mr Dwyer on 27 July the following points were raised.

'It was agreed by Mr Dwyer that he would provide, within a fortnight, an objective study of surface and upper air conditions to 50,000 ft over the operational area for the months of April/May. He would also give

information concerning the frequency of tropical storms in the area. (Note: The operational area includes the coast line from Port Hedland to Onslow).'


7.3.8 Later, the report states

'Mr Dwyer thought that the possibility of tropical storms in the Port tiedland area and in the islands might be such that it could not be assumed that they would be absent during the trial period...The

implications on the island site will be investigated by the UK party on return to ensure that any installations used on the islands are capable of withstanding a possible wind speed of 90 knots.1 [RC 558, p.1603J

7.3.9 Dr Black (UK Ministry of Supply) met with Dwyer and

Phillpot on 15 August 1955 and reported to Lloyd that it

'Would appear that changes of winds between 30,000 and 50,000 ft. blowing into Sector from 270 degrees through 360 degrees to 045 degrees during April to July are low. Dwyer considers provision of two weather strips

fitted with radar for night observation of upper winds almost essential.

‘Safety Committee also concerned since they have insufficient information on possible fall out under various meteor[ologicalj conditions. Consider you should arrange for expert on these matters to come out as soon as possible to go into whole matter with Safety Committee. Can you do this?

'Another point to be noted is that rough weather is nearly always associated with favourable winds.' [RC 558, p.1619]

7.3.10 A Monte Bello Working Party, the counterpart of the Joint Planning Team at AWRE, was established in Australia. At its first meeting on 14 September 1955, Dwyer's comments on the meteorological factors for Mosaic should be noted:

' The time of the year would be such that from the

safety viewpoint favourable opportunity for carrying out the tests was only likely to occur on 2 days in 30.' LKC 800, p.551631j

7.3.11 Several documents were supplied to the AWTSC to enable it to evaluate the firing conditions for Mosaic. On

8 September 1955, Adams sent copies of AWRE Report HP6/55 to the AWTSC. In the letter accompanying the report Adams said

'In part I we have defined two levels of contamination, A and B. These levels replace those in report A32 written in 1953, defined as "zero risk" and "slight risk". The new definitions given in part I (i.e. HP

Memo 6/55) have received very careful thought here and we advocate the different nomenclature since we believe the term "slight risk" implies a greater possibility of


damaging effect than is justified by the definition.

In American practice at Nevada a permissive dose for

inhabited and grazing areas corresponding closely with level B at six hours is used. We do not propose to ask

Australian agreement to the use of as high a level as

this but we invite them to consider agreeing to the use

of a level half way between A and B .

'...The adoption of half level B as the criterion

would, in our opinion, give only the slightest chance of any physiological effect, which in any case would be temporary and only just observable. We should, of

course, hope for forecasts which will show that exposures will be below this level. However, . since a marginal possibility must be defined we think it reasonable to suggest that half of level B should be the level.' [RC 558, p. 1629]

7.3.12 On 29 September 1955 Adams sent copies of TPN78/55, ' Predictions of Ground Contamination at Operation Mosaic' , by E P Hicks, J D Macdougall and A G Matthewman [RC 284j. The

report gave details of the model that would be used to predict the levels of fallout at Mosaic. The model had been checked by comparing the results with the measured fallout following the Totem tests.

7.3.13 It can be seen that the Safety Committee knew that the general meteorological conditions at the Monte Bello Islands were not thought to be very good for safe firing of the weapons as early as September 1955. The suitability of the Islands was

lessened further when Phillpot advised that suitable firing conditions were likely to be accompanied by rough seas, which are far from ideal for a naval-based operation such as Mosaic.

7.3.14 The firing criteria for the Mosaic tests were discussed at the 3rd Meeting of the Safety Committee on 28 November 1955:

'It was decided that the restriction imposed on meteorological conditions for Operation Mosaic would be such as to ensure that there would be no fallout in the sectors 050 degrees through South to 250 degrees. As the fall-out would be in the sea there would be no need to place additional restrictions on the speeds or directions of the winds at different altitudes.‘

[RC 131j

7.3.15 Report 0-41/55, 'Safety Levels for Contamination from Fallout from Atomic Weapons Trials', by G C Dale [RC 274j was given detailed consideration at the 5th Meeting of the Safety Committee on 6 March 1956. Report 0-41/55 considered the level of fallout that would give rise to a particular dose to the exposed population. It was an updated version of the pathway analysis in Report A32, which was prepared for Operation Totem.

In the report two dose levels were defined:


(a) Level A was the contamination which would 'not give rise to any observable effects on the body'.

(b) Level B was the contamination which 1 could cause a small observable effect, such as slight temporary sickness, in a few people if they had a low threshold sensitivity to radiation. The proportion of such people in a population would only be a fraction of one percent1 .

7.3.16 The doses that would result from fallout were

calculated by Dale for various exposure pathways. He considered the beta and gamma doses that would be received from a uniform layer of fallout on the ground, from direct deposition in a tank containing two metres depth of drinking water, indirect deposition in a reservoir, deposition on human food, inhalation of dust, and injection into cuts and abrasions.

7.3.17 The limiting pathway was exposure to the skin both by direct deposition and by irradiation of beta and gamma rays from contamination deposited on the ground. The activity deposited on the skin was assumed to cover half of the body surface and to be

washed or rubbed off during 24 hours. The results showed that Level A contamination was 11 mCi/m2 and the Level B contamination was 40.5 mCi/m2 for exposure starting one hour after the blast and continuing for 10 weeks after the blast. If the exposure

started six hours after the blast the Level A and Level B values would be 23.5 and 90.8 mCi/m2. All contamination levels were expressed in terms of one hour fission products.

7.3.18 The Minutes of the 5th Meeting, held on 6 March 1956, record comments by the Safety Committee on the shortcomings in this report:

(a) '...The documents [were] confined to

considerations of tissue damage. The genetical effects were not mentioned, presumably because the paucity and contradictory nature of the information available.

(b) 'It was felt that the effects of Sr ^ had not been adequately dealt with and that copies of

Scott-Russell's paper on the secondary processes relating to the ingestion of Sr^O and iodine should be obtained and studied.

(c) 'Page 7 of the report contained a statement on the breathing capacity of the average human being which appeared to be rather low and needed checking.' [RC 131]

7.3.19 Although the report claimed that 'these levels are intended to be adequate to protect unsuspecting persons who might be in a fallout area', the Safety Committee clearly thought


otherwise and sought advice from AWRE on the adequacy of Levels A and B in relation to the safety of Aboriginal people living in the open, without clothes or shoes.

7.3.20 Black had requested in August 1955 that an expert come to Australia for discussions with the Safety Committee. At the 6th Meeting of the AWTSC, held on 17 April 1956, three experts

from the UK were in attendance: Adams, Maddock and Matthewman. Adams brought two reports with him. The first was an Appendix A to the earlier Report 0-41/55 on safety levels for contamination. The second was a paper entitled ‘Predictions and Safety Criteria

for Mosaic1 [RC 800, p.561684J prepared on 10 April 1956 by Adams for AWTSC consideration and decision. It should be remembered that this meeting was held only a few weeks before the Mosaic G1 explosion on 16 May 1956.

7.3.21 Appendix A to Report 0-41/55 extended the estimates of the maximum fallout levels to include the lifestyles of Aborigines. This reduced the allowable levels of contamination. However, this appendix was written for Maralinga and the effect on Aborigines from the Mosaic tests was never considered (see Section 7.5).

7.3.22 The firing criteria for Mosaic were discussed at the same meeting. Adams presented his paper in which he proposed that Level 3/2 should be used as the marginal level when deciding whether to fire. It is clear from this document that the Level B referred to was that in the main report 0-41/55 and not that calculated in the Appendix for Aboriginal people 1 in reserves'. The Level B/2 was said to be about half the value used by the Americans in their firing criteria. This paper had been prepared by Adams especially for the meeting but as it had been circulated

to Safety Committee members only a few days before the meeting, the Minutes note that ' members had not had an opportunity of studying them fully 1 .

7.3.23 Adams informed the meeting that 1 AWRE recommended the adoption of one half Level B as the marginal level...the

equivalent to 12.5 r of gamma radiation or 25 rep of beta

radiation1 [RC 131, Minutes of the 6th Meeting of the AWTSCj.

7.3.24 According to the Minutes, Titterton stated that he was not altogether convinced and agreed to the adoption of half Level B for one occasion only. He was concerned about the build-up which would occur with the frequency of firings but, as

there were only two tests in the Mosaic series, this was not as great a problem as it would be at Maralinga where numerous firings were being planned. Neither was he convinced by the argument that as the Americans had used Level B at Nevada, the adoption of half Level B would necessarily be viewed as the last

word on the subject in Australia due to the presence of 'well informed and politically active critics' [RC 131, Minutes of the 6th Meeting of the AWTSC J.


7.3.25 The safety requirements for G2 were not, it seems, agreed to before the Safety Committee attended Gl. Although this may not necessarily be an indication of pressure being applied by the British for a speedy firing of the Mosaic rounds, it is

certainly evidence that the AWTSC was not supplied with

information sufficiently far in advance to be able to make an unhurried assessment of the requirements in the absence of the British.

7.3.26 At its 6th Meeting on 17 April 1956 the Safety

Committee 1 noted that the safety requirements for the second test would have to be carefully examined. This would be done by the Committee when it reached the Islands next week1 LRC 131J.

7.3.27 The Safety Committee arrived at Onslow on 14 May and was ferried across to HMS Narvik. The Operational Commander, Commodore Mar tell, had declared standby for Gl on that day. However, he was informed that the AWTSC would not agree to the

test proceeding without further information about the presence of 1 light elements as a boost1 mentioned in a cable from Eden to Menzies dated 16 May 1955 LRC 559, Bundle C, p.344J.

Specifically, the Committee members wanted to know which elements would be used and the quantity of each. The information was ultimately given by Martell and was said to have been restricted to their own use. What information was given is not recorded but

as the firing proceeded, they were evidently satisfied with that information. On 15 May, it was announced that the weather was favourable and D-l day was declared.

Prediction of Fallout Pattern

7.3.28 The weather forecasts were based on synoptic and upper air data from the Australian Meteorological Office supplemented by results from a weather ship located near 20 degrees ti and 105 degrees E, a special weather reporting station in the Indian Ocean on Christmas Island, and weather reconnaissance flights.

The Meteorology Group consisted of tne AWRE Staff Meteorological Officer and two Australian meteorologists. They provided forecasts of the wind structure up to 30 000 feet for assessing the degree of fallout as well as the complete wind structure to

50 000 feet at the site to ensure the safety of the Task Force LRC 233, p.390J.

7.3.29 The Theoretical Predictions Group (A G Matthewman and J D Macdougall) used the wind and weather forecasts to predict the fallout pattern. The prediction involved estimating the height of the cloud and using the winds forecast for various heights to determine the path of the cloud and the level of

fallout. Fallout contours for Gl were plotted for half Level B .


7.3.30 Dwyer recorded

'5. At the 11 a .m. Conference on 15 May, the first after the arrival of the Safety Committee, the 28-hour forecast for noon the next day predicted the extension of a high pressure ridge to the north east from

Carnarvon towards Halls Creek with little cloud, a stable dry air mass subsiding in the ridge and winds with a fair amount of shear between south east and south under 12,000 above which a thermal wind would increase the westerly component with height. The cloud

trajectory would cross the coast between Port Hedland and Broome. The freezing level was 575 mbs. The

height of the cloud was predicted at 11,500-15,000 feet, and the half Level fl contamination contour would extend from 90 to 135 miles on the centre line curving on a bearing from 005 [degreesJ to 050 [degreesJ.

'The situation was taken to be sufficiently favourable and the forecast adequateiv reliable to declare "d-l" day...' [RC 800, p. 562-tuu j

7.3.31 Significantly, he stated that the cloud trajectory was predicted to cross the coast between Port Hedland and Broome. He continued

'7. The second conference was held at midnight to consider, in view of a forecast prepared at 11 p.m. , whether the operation should continue as planned. At this stage the forecast conditions for noon the next day were somewhat marginal - the air mass was less

stable lifting the predicted height of the cloud up to 14,000-17,000 feet; the winds had not backed as far to the south west as previously expected and the predicted half level B fall-out for the 17,500 feet height was

placed a little to the east of the 050 [degreesJ

"safety arc" at a distance of 130 to 150 miles.

18. On some indications, there was a possibility that the winds might veer further to the west and carry the fall-out pattern closer to the mainland. On the evidence, the Safety Committee concurred in the decision to declare 16 May as "D-Day", subject to the provision that suitable conditions would be predicted

at 6.45 a .m. This decision put in train a further phase of the operation such as orders for the dawn air search of the prohibited area and placing the

air-tracking aircraft in readiness.

'9. At the third conference at 6.45 a.m. the forecast (5.15 a.m.) showed maintenance of stability and dryness below 560 mbs (17,000 ft.) and winds holding to the south west below 12,000 feet; the effective winds were

forecast as 10 kts. from 180 [degrees] below 10,000


feet, veering to 12 kts. from 209 [degreesJ at

15,000 ft., and 23 kts. from 244 [degreesj at 25,000 feet; the trajectory at 20,000 feet was expected to cross the coast between Port Hedland and Broome and the freezing level to be at 590 mbs; there was no sign of precipitation in the northern half of Australia, except

for the possibility of isolated showers near Darwin and east of Cloncurry. The numerical prediction gave the height of the cloud as remaining between 14,000 and 17,500 ft. and the centre line of the half level B

contour backing to 214 [degrees] at 80 to 120 miles with very little of the "maximum probable"

contamination east of the "050" arc. Only a small area of the Monte Bello Islands was included in the expected local fallout.' [RC 800, p.562460]

7.3.32 The trajectory of the 20 000 foot winds was also

predicted to cross the coast between Port Hedland and Broome.

7.3.33 The probable predicted height of the top of the cloud was 17 500 feet and the maximum probable predicted height was 21 500 according to T24/57 [RC 270], the theoretical predictions document for Mosaic prepared by Matthewman. Firing took place at

1150 hours WAST.

Observed Cloud from Test Gl

7.3.34 The actual cloud was higher than predicted, the top of the cloud being at 24 000 feet, and the bottom of the head of the cloud being at 15 500 feet. The difference between prediction and observation probably arose because full account of the

humidity profile of the atmosphere was not included in the cloud model [RC 270].

7.3.35 In the event, the cloud top was closer to 24 000 feet, the bottom was at 15 500 and the centre was calculated to be at 19 750 feet, only a few hundred feet below the 20 000 foot winds that would carry contamination across the mainland. Figure 3 in RC 270 shows the seven-hour forecast issued at 0645 hours on

15 May 1956. The figure indicates that there was no change at 0930 hours and, if extrapolated, the line for maximum probable yield would cross the coast between Port Hedland and Broome. In

RC 270 [p. 8], it is conceded that the cloud height was 1 rather seriously underestimated1. Dwyer recorded on 6 June 1956 [RC 800, p.562479] that

1 The shape of the cloud after stabilisation was somewhat different than expected and the top was reported to be at 21,000 ft instead of the 14,000 ft predicted as "most probable" to 17,500 ft as the

"maximum probable" . 1


7.3.36 He stated that

' The difference may have been due to an unexpectedly high yield or because the arithmetical values of the parameters used in the computations did not completely fit the conditions of firing.'

7.3.37 Hither way, somebody got it wrong i Figure 5 of RC 270 illustrates the post-firing analysis. It is clear that between 12 000 and 18 000 feet the cloud eventually came back over the mainland.

Predictions of Fallout for Test G2

7.3.38 The Mosaic explosion which really caused controversy, was G2, a much larger weapon. It is reported in RC 233 that there had been no suitable day for firing the weapon since HMS Narvik arrived at the Monte Bellos and that it was unlikely that the planned terminal date for the operation of 15 July could be

extended. Thus, after Gl had been exploded, there were only 30 days left in which to fire G2. The procedures were changed after Gl because * 1 it seemed unlikely that there would be much advance warning of the advent of suitable weather conditions' and

1 The force must be ready to take the slightest chance - however fleeting - as it might be the only one1 LRC 233, p .93 J.

7.3.39 The new plan allowed

. an earlier firing time; . abolition of D-l day, the first intimation being declaration of D-day at 0015 hours; . as few people as possible be on Hermite at HI for

firing; and . D-day sector searches to start before dawn as radar search.

7.3.40 For G2 the procedure for predicting fallout was

modified and the stem was considered as an independent cloud containing one-seventh of the fission products at half the height of the main cloud. The Safety Committee also changed its practice and requested that the Level A contour also be shown in

the map of predicted fallout LTrans., p .6826J.

7.3.41 A letter from F W Cook to Vice Admiral Clifford and dated 12 June 1956 lRC 264] indicates that the concern about G2 was not just finding suitable meteorological conditions but also that it would provide information for the Christmas Island H-bomb

tests in 1957 in the Pacific. The letter is also significant in that it indicates that the Safety Committee was doing its job to an extent that the British had not expected. In part the letter reads


1 Adams is in considerable difficulty with the

Australian Safety Committee over the firing of G2 and he had to be very restrictive about weather conditions to meet the Safety Committee and so to obtain agreement to fire. He is very worried about the possibility of

having no weather which will satisfy the Safety Committee before July 15th. His last signal says Cannot exclude possibility of no firing up to July 15th, hence require executive reaction to possibility

of extension. I wish to press that no UK action be omitted which makes extension possible if needed or that approach to Australia could be made with UK backing. Issue raised now because action might make

extension impossible.1 [RC 264j

7.3.42 The first sign of suitable weather was not until

13 June when the pre-firing phase was entered. Forecasts were made for 17 and 18 June, but in both cases the predicted Level A fallout was well over the coastline and the Level B/2 fallout occurred either very close to or over the coast. On 18 June, the Level B/2 fallout was well out to sea and predicted Level A

fallout occurred on only a very small part of the mainland. This amount of fallout on the mainland was accepted by the Safety Committee and the firing sequence proceeded.

7.3.43 Dwyer outlined the meteorological conditions prior to G2 [RC 800, p. 562631 ] and noted that because of error in cloud height prediction at Gl, 30 per cent was added to the G2

calculation as a 'margin of safety1 lRC 800, p.562632J.

7.3.44 Dwyer recorded that the theoretical predictions were based upon a probable height for the cloud of 35 000 feet and a maximum probable height of 37 000 feet. The half Level B contour was

'...placed at 250 by 30 miles on the general bearing 055 [degrees] and 330 miles on the same bearing. The level A contour was computed at 400 miles by 50 miles on bearing 058 [degrees] for the probable height and 640 miles on 057 [degrees] for the maximum probable height. The contours... indicated that the only hazard of contamination was at level A on the Kimberley

coast. 1 [.RC 800, p. 562632]

Observed Cloud from Test G2

7.3.45 The G2 test was expected to have a yield of about

60 kt; Matthewman wrote [RC 270, T24/57] that the top of the cloud was predicted to be at 34 000 feet with a maximum probable height of 47 000 feet, much higher than the height of the cloud for the smaller Gl test. The predicted heights differ from those

recorded by Dwyer and discussed in the previous paragraph. The


yield was measured to be 56 kt. On this occasion the observed top of the cloud was at 47 000 feet, just within the maximum probable range given by Matthewman. The bottom of the head of the cloud was at 21 000 feet [RC 270, T24/57J.


7.3.46 The Mosaic tests were conducted in a hurry under

marginal meteorological conditions.

7.4 Fallout Monitoring

7.4.1 The monitoring of long-range fallout was discussed at the first meeting of the AWTSC on 8 July 1955 and accepted as a proper function of the Safety Committee following UK proposals that such a program was needed. The Safety Committee decided to organise about 20 sampling units to be distributed along the north-west coast and northern hinterland and also in each capital city.

7.4.2 The Safety Committee installed 29 fallout sampling stations across the country, including stations in each capital city. Each station had sticky paper samplers and air filters to enable both the amount of fallout and the airborne concentration of contamination to be measured. Sticky paper samples and air

filter samples were collected daily. The Safety Committee, with the assistance of the AWRE in providing equipment, also organised the analysis of thyroids of grazing animals and samples of water and sludge from some reservoirs [RC 547, Butement et al. 1957J.

7.4.3 There was some discussion in evidence before the Royal Commission that the UK had supplied enough equipment for 48 sampling stations and that the Safety Committee should have

installed them all for Mosaic. The number of stations that should have been deployed is a matter of judgment and it would depend on the availability of people who could run the equipment, change filters every day and get the exposed papers to the laboratory in a reasonable time. The 29 stations used appear to include all the major population centres across the north of Australia. It is doubtful if the use of more fallout stations would have greatly changed the conclusions about fallout

following Mosaic.

7.4.4 There was some question about the efficiency of the sticky paper method of fallout sampling. The AWTSC subsequently carried out a comparison between the collection efficiency of sticky paper and open pot collectors |_RC 266]. The result of this study was that there was no significant difference between the two methods, at least in conditions where there is no rainfall.


7·4.5 Rainout of suspended radioactive material in rain can cause local high levels of contamination. The sticky papers are not effective in heavy rain because rain running off the paper not only carries off its own load of activity but can wash off the fallout already collected.

7.4.6 Hole was responsible for monitoring the close-in

fallout for the equipment installed in Varsity aircraft [Trans., p.5163j. This equipment was designed for the aerial survey of the Islands to reduce the effort required on ground surveys. Hole had not anticipated that any fallout debris from the test would go near the mainland [Trans., p.5164j.

Fallout from Mosaic Gl

7.4.7 After Gl was fired, the fallout near Ground Zero was measured by the Radiological Group under Hole [RC 291, T21/57J. The dose rate close to Ground Zero exceeded 1000 r/h (corrected to H+l) but it decreased to less than 0.02 r/h (corrected to H+l)

at a distance of 1000 metres.

7.4.8 Most of the close-in fallout from Gl fell in the ocean to the north and north-east of the Monte Bello Islands. HMS Diana, which was intended to be on station on the centre-line of the fallout, collected 1 only a negligible amount of

contamination1 at the predicted centre-line [RC 270, T24/57J.

7.4.9 A Varsity aircraft was used to survey the coastline from Onslow to Broome on the morning of D+l day, and detected no radioactivity. On the strength of this the Safety Committee decided that no further information was required and all air operations were declared complete [RC 233, p.119j.

7.4.10 The first indication of fallout on the mainland was the detection of contamination on the leading edge of part of the under-carriage of an aircraft that had flown from Onslow to

Pearce. The contamination must have been picked up when the wheel was down and so must have occurred at Onslow some time after Dl+1 and most probably on Dl+2 [Trans., pp.5165-74].

7.4.11 Hole carried out a ground survey around Onslow using a Geiger counter in the back of a Holden van [Trans., p.5165j. He found patches of contamination of 1 the size of a tennis court'. Having found the contamination on the roadways, Hole then

continued the survey on foot including a visit to the local hotel and other places that the aircrew might visit [Trans., p. 5173 _|. However there was no radiation above background in the hotel or in other buildings.

7.4.12 When Hole returned to HMS Narvik it was decided that Beaver and Sewell should carry out a ground survey along the road to the north-west of Onslow. They surveyed about 150 miles of


the road and found patches of contamination [Trans., p.5180J. Hole concluded that the fallout on the mainland only amounted 'to a small fraction of the zero risk level' [RC 291, T21/57J.

7.4.13 Martell, the Operational Commander for Mosaic, said in evidence that the fallout over the coast was unexpected. He did not like the word fallout, but in answer to the question ‘It was fallout, was it not?' conceded that '...there was a measurable

amount of fallout, but measurable scientifically, for practical purposes, no' LTrans., p.4943].

7.4.14 The cause of the fallout at Onslow and along the coast was the change in the winds following the explosion. The winds weakened and 12 hours after the explosion began blowing towards the south and east. Hence part of the radioactive cloud was blown first to the north and then back again to the south. A post-firing analysis of the winds showed that fallout began

occurring about 26 hours after the explosion. The material deposited near Exmouth Gulf originated from a height of 9000 feet in the stem, that at Onslow from 12 000 feet in the stem, and that at Port Hedland from 18 000 feet which was the lower part of

the main cloud.

7.4.15 The sticky paper samples showed that the high altitude cloud travelled right across northern Australia at a latitude of about 20 degrees S and that after 60 hours it was over the Coral

Sea, clear of the Australian coastline (Figure 7.4.1). The highest level of fallout measured by the sticky papers was 0.031 mCi/in at Onslow, followed by Broome with 0.022 mCi/m and Nunkanbah with 0.010 mCi/m . The contamination at Onslow and Nunkanbah were both 1.10 mCi/in when corrected to H+l hour [RC 270, T24/57]. In all cases the level of contamination was

less than the Level A, and much less than the Level B/2 used as firing criteria.

7.4.16 The Safety Committee estimated that the fallout at Onslow, Broome and Nunkanbah corresponded to a whole body dose to 50 years of 31, 21 and 13 mr respectively. The results of the

fallout survey were subsequently published in the Australian Journal of Science in December 1957 [RC 547, Butement et al. 1957 J.

7.4.17 The message sent by the Chairman of the AWTSC to the Minister for Supply following Mosaic Gl described an uneventful operation in which everything happened according to expectations:

'The requirements of the Safety Committee for

meteorological prediction of safe firing conditions and for examining the subsequent radioactivity fallout by air and sea operations were fully met.


1 The control of movements of shipping and aircraft worked smoothly. The air search of restricted areas showed with certainty that there was no shipping, other than that associated with the experiment, in the prescribed danger area.

' The meteorological predictions were complete and accurate and the operation was carried out without there being any hazard whatsoever to life on the mainland, ships at sea, and to aircraft.

'The whole operation proceeded with precision and was a complete success.' [RC 131, Minutes of the 8th Meeting of the AWTSC]

7.4.18 The Safety Committee met in Melbourne on 29 May 1956, almost two weeks after G1 was fired [RC 131]. The Chairman read the message which had been sent to the Minister for Supply immediately after the explosion. He then went on to discuss various matters of concern arising out of the G1 test. The Safety Committee should have noted these in its report to the Minister.

7.4.19 On the question of the contamination found on the mainland, Martin was recorded as saying

1 This was an unexpected event and gave rise to a number of further actions which were still in progress.1

7.4.20 A message received from Adams in the course of the meeting indicated that

1 ... at D plus 10 days there was no significant reading at Roebourne, a small reading at Port Hedland, and readings of up to 20 counts per second at Broome, and at about six miles out of Onslow on the Carnarvon road. Mr. Adams pointed out that with no subtraction for background the Onslow figures from the earliest measurements extrapolated to H plus 1 hours and with no

allowance for transit time decay gave less than 1/lOth level A. The actual levels would necessarily be lower.' [RC 131]

7.4.21 As a result of the fallout on the mainland from Gl, several changes were introduced in the monitoring procedures for G2. The Safety Committee asked that predictions be carried out to estimate the Level A contour of contamination. The

Theoretical Predictions Group also modified its procedures to include the prediction of fallout from the stem. The Safety Committee decided that the aerial survey along the coast would have to continue for up to two weeks after G2. It also suggested

that the use of mobile equipment operating on the ground would be an added safeguard. These extended aerial and ground surveys do not appear to have been implemented.


FIGURE 7.4.1


The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Test. The contours show the total amount of radioactivity recorded by the sticky paper collectors. The squares show the locations of the fallout stations.

Mosaic 1



* 1 0 10

I I 0 1-1.0

Ί 0 .01 - 0.1

J <0.01

Data from Butement et al. 1957

Fallout from Mosaic G2

7.4.22 After the explosion, the cloud moved off to the

north-east. Cloud samples were to be collected by a Canberra aircraft at H+4, but the pilot had difficulty in finding the cloud, locating it eventually 80 miles north of the predicted position [RC 233, p.119].

7.4.23 At H+18 hours, the Canberra aircraft sent to collect samples and track the cloud could not locate it despite two attempts. At H+22, a further attempt to locate the cloud was made, again without success [RC 233, p.119].

7.4.24 An aerial survey along the coast was carried out by a Varsity aircraft which made a return flight from Onslow to Darwin, via Port Hedland, Broome, Derby and Wyndham. The coastal

regions were surveyed on the outward journey, and an area 30 miles inland on the return to Onslow. The Radiological Group reported that '...the results indicated patches of fallout at several places along the coast but all below "Zero Risk Level"1

[RC 291, T21/57]. The measured levels of contamination, apparently from the aerial survey at Port Hedland and Broome were 1/3 Level A and 1/5 Level A [RC 270, T24/57].

7.4.25 The fallout on the mainland following G2 was again greater than expected and occurred at locations where no fallout had been predicted. The post-firing winds behaved similarly to those after Gl, i.e. they weakened and then began to blow to the

south and east. An analysis of the trajectories of fallout particles showed that fallout at Port Hedland occurred 24 hours after the explosion and consisted of particles that originated from 20 000 feet in the region of the top of the stem and the bottom on the cloud. Fallout occurred at Derby 24 hours after

the explosion of particles that originated at 30 000 feet in the main cloud [RC 270, T24/57]. Clearly part of the main cloud did cross the mainland.

7.4.26 The mainland contamination was a result of part of the cloud and stem drifting across the coast. Martell was examined about this contamination and resorted to a confining and restricted definition of the 1 cloud1 excluding the 1 stalk‘

[Trans., p .4903].

7.4.27 Matthewman compared the predictions for G2 with the observed event:

1 The safety contours prepared for the 0630 conference are shown in figure 9. Level A occurs only on a very small part of the Mainland, for MAXIMUM probable yield and corresponding predicted height. These contours

represented a condition acceptable to the Safety Committee.' [RC 270, p .18]


7.4.28 In the Figure 9 referred to above. Level A is shown touching the mainland north of Derby and, in effect, runs parallel to the coast.

7.4.29 Figure 10 in the same report illustrates the

post-firing trajectories of particles from various heights in the wind field. The 18 000, 24 000 and 30 000 foot lines went

further south than was predicted:

'...this was primarily due to the unexpected

development of a northerly component in the winds between 5,000 and 10,000 ft.' [RC 270, p.21J

7.4.30 The AWSTC sticky paper collectors provided a record of the passage of the contaminated cloud across the mainland (Figure 7.4.2). The maximum fallout measured by the sticky papers was 0.147 mCi/m2 at Port Hedland, 0.051 mCi/m2 at Broome and 0.027 mCi/m2 at Nunkanbah. When these values are corrected

to H+l, the amount of fallout is 3.960, 1.71 and 2.002 mCi/m2 respectively [RC 270, T24/57J. These levels are all less than the Level A, which, for exposure beginning 24 hours after the explosion, is 68 mCi/nt for nomadic people. Hence the measured fallout from Mosaic G2 satisfied the criterion for limiting the exposure of Aboriginal people.

7.4.31 However it exceeded the levels proposed in 1959, after the ICRP introduced dose limits for members of the public. For exposure commencing 24 hours after the explosion, the 1959 report Level A to be 2.7 mCi/m2 and Level A 1 to be

Hence by later standards, the doses estimated from the fallout at Port Hedland exceeded the levels for members of the general public, but were less than the dose allowed for occupational exposure. The doses at Broome and Nunkanbah were

less than the standard for people living in houses, but exceeded the standard for Aborigines.

7.4.32 Air pumps fitted with filters were operated at all the collection stations to determine the airborne radioactivity. The results were significantly different from the sticky paper measurements. The highest reading was 14 nCi/in at Nunkanbah followed by 8.3 nCi/nr at Broome. These were significant levels of airborne contamination but Butement et al. 1957 [RC 547j claimed that when the inhaled material is averaged over a 60-year

lifetime, it would represent less than 0.04 per cent of the ICRP recommendations.

7.4.33 Evidence was given to the Royal Commission by S Stubbs, a miner, who was living near Marble Bar at the time of the G2 explosion. He stated that drizzling rain fell and that he measured levels of radioactivity with his Geiger counters which sent them off the scale. He reported his experiences by

telephone to someone he thought was a British scientist [Trans., pp.7588a-91]. When his report appeared in the press, it was played down by the Australian Government [RC 800, p.562801J.

determined 1.5 mCi/m2


FIGURE 7.4.2


The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Test. The contours show the total amount of radioactivity recorded by the sticky paper collectors. The squares show the locations of the fallout stations.

Data from Butement et al. 1957

There was no fallout monitoring station at Marble Bar, so the degree of contamination will never be known, but if drizzling rain occurred, fallout contamination would have been greater than for dry conditions.

7.4.34 Meteorological opinions sought by the Royal Commission (Phillpot and Southern) differ as to whether observations from the Marble Bar Post Office were consistent with rain or drizzle [Trans., pp.7505, 8883]. However, Mr Stubbs and Ian Blair, the Police Sergeant at Marble Bar at the time, both said in evidence

that it could have drizzled at the mine but not necessarily at Marble Bar [Trans., p.9786J.

7.4.35 On the third day after the explosion there was fairly general rain over Queensland. However the collection of water, mud and sludge from the reservoirs monitored by the AWTSC gave no

activity above background.

Information Supplied to Minister for Supply by the AWTSC

7.4.36 After Mosaic G2, there were reports of the radioactive cloud drifting over the mainland. The reports appear to have originated from the grounding of aircraft within a radius of 250 miles (400 km) of the test site and from the report of

radioactive rain at Marble Bar. Federal Cabinet sought urgent clarification but the Minister for Supply had difficulty in getting a response from the Safety Committee on HMS Narvik [RC 800, p.562788].

7.4.37 Eventually, the Safety Committee replied at 2235 hours WAST on 20 June that

'At last aeroplane fix [the] cloud was over Arafura sea 100 miles off [the] north-west coast of Australia. Path of cloud being followed by aeroplanes.1

The Safety Committee further said that it

'Cannot over-emphasise the fact that whole operation was carried out with no risk to life or property on the mainland or elsewhere.'

However, the Safety Committee did note that all aircraft were grounded within a radius of 250 miles (400 km) but the airports were all opened some hours after the test. One QANTAS aircraft flying from Cocos to Darwin was diverted to avoid the cloud. However, the message did not make it clear whether any

radioactive cloud had drifted back over the mainland [RC 800, p. 562791] .

7.4.38 The Safety Committee sent a further signal at

1110 hours WAST on 21 June responding to the Minister's earlier


press statement, saying that there was no cloud between 5000 and 10 000 feet, and that the activity between 15 000 and 20 000 feet was very small. Further, most of the activity moved as a cloud at very high altitude over the sea as earlier described. It also claimed that 'these facts preclude the possibility of any risk to property or to living things either now or in the future'

[RC 800, p.562807J.

7.4.39 A further message from Martin to Beale at 2235 hours on 21 June 1956 did acknowledge that * 1 some harmless deposition along north-west coast of Australia was always anticipated' and 'measurements show that in those localities where there is some deposition it is completely harmless1. The Safety Committee

re-affirmed that there was no evidence of the cloud crossing the coast at any point IRC 800, p.562824].

7.4.40 The Safety Committee's messages to the Minister were misleading on the question of fallout on the mainland. The Safety Committee seemed to equate the whole cloud with the centre of the cloud and this caused communication difficulties. Clearly

some radioactivity did cross the coastline and to most people this would mean that part of the cloud also crossed the


7.4.41 Fallout from both the Mosaic tests produced a marked increase in the iodine-131 levels in the thyroids of sheep and cattle in central and northern Australia j_Mar ston 1958 j. In 1956, AW RE had said that the levels were only 0.03 per cent of the permissible dose and therefore of no significance LRC 800, p.563047]. These aspects are discussed in Section 11.5.

Safety Committee Report to Prime Minister

7.4.42 The Safety Committee gave a report to the Prime

Minister on 27 July 1956 giving details of the conditions when the devices were fired and the distribution of fallout. The report was very reassuring and did little to inform the

Government about the problems experienced at Monte Bello with meeting the firing criteria and the unexpected levels of fallout on the coast [RC 527].

7.4.43 The report was misleading in its treatment of whether 1 the cloud1 crossed the coast. In the report, the Safety Committee claimed for the first test

1...incontrovertable evidence is presented below showing that the cloud did not pass over the mainland.'

and for the second test

’...the cloud moved in a NE direction never closer than 100 miles to any part of the coast.' LRC 527]


However, it is clear from the meteorological data, to which the Safety Committee had access, that some fallout did originate in the main cloud. The Safety Committee was wrong to persist in stating that no contamination from the ' cloud1 crossed to the


7.4.44 The report did the mainland, but that acknowledge that some fallout fell on

' ...the fallout on the MW coast was harmless in the extreme.

'Some very low level contamination was observed in patches circumscribed by a wide band which stretched across the north of Australia towards the centre of the Continent. As was predicted and confirmed beyond doubt by the sticky paper stations, the contamination was negligible.’ [RC 527]

7.4.45 The Safety Committee attached lists of the

contamination levels collected by the sticky papers at various locations across Australia. It noted that the highest dose was observed at Port Hedland where the gamma dose received by an individual from fallout was about half the background exposure

they would receive every year.

7.4.46 Subsequently, the Safety Committee published its results on the fallout levels from Mosaic in a paper in the Australian Journal of Science in 1957 [RC 547, Butement et al. 1957]. In this paper the fallout over Australia was ascribed to

1 a small quantity of finely suspended particles from the "stem" which was trapped in a stable layer somewhat below the base of the cloud'.



(a) The theoretical predictions were incorrect for both Mosaic tests and parts of the clouds passed over the mainland of Australia.

(b) Although the close-in fallout from both Mosaic tests fell into the ocean, fallout also occurred over the mainland and some of it originated from parts of the main cloud. The Safety Committee's communications with the Minister for Supply soon after the second explosion, when it reported that the cloud had not crossed the coast, with the implication that there was no

fallout on the mainland, were misleading.

(c ) The level of fallout on the mainland was less than the Level A criterion defined before the Mosaic tests and was also less than the Level A 1 criterion used at the Buffalo trials for


areas in which nomadic Aborigines were living. Although the fallout at Port Hedland satisfied the standards of the time, it did exceed the dose levels applicable later for members of the general public. It was less, however, than the level allowed for occupationally exposed workers.

(d) The Safety Committee report to the Prime Minister

following the Mosaic tests was misleading and did not properly inform the Government of the difficulties experienced with meeting the firing criteria, the unexpected winds that brought some of the stem and cloud over the mainland and the higher than expected levels of fallout on the mainland.

(e) For the Chairman of the AWT SC to advise the Minister

for Supply that conditions for firing G2 were ideal from the point of view of safety of the mainland was grossly misleading and irresponsible.

7.5 Safety of Aborigines

7.5.1 The safety of Aborigines was never seen as a problem for tne Mosaic tests by either the British or Australian Governments. There were no Aborigines living on the Islands. The British had given their assurance to Menzies 1 that the tests would not proceed unless conditions were such as to involve

absolutely no danger to the health of people or animals on the Mainland1 LRC800, p. 550712J. Therefore, it was not deemed necessary for either government to devote resources to

establishing the location, numbers and lifestyle of the Aboriginal communities in Western Australia - even as a precautionary measure.

7.5.2 The British Government did not consider that there were Aborigines living near the Monte Bellos whose health would be adversely affected by the Mosaic tests. In his evidence, Penney said

1Q. Did you or different people ever consider the prospect of Aborigines living on the northwest coast of Australia before firing the Mosaic explosion?

1 A. Not to my knowledge.

' Q . Of course, you would accept now that the safe position would have been to consider the position with respect to Aborigines before either G1 or G2 was fired?

‘A. Yes, but once again would we not have looked to the Australians for advice?' tTrans., p.7062]

7.5.3 Martell's evidence confirms the British attitude that it was not necessary to consider the safety of Aborigines at Mosaic as the following Transcript extract shows:


'Q. Do I take it in your deliberations in relation to whether or not it was safe to fire the weapon for G1 or G2, you gave no thought whatsoever to the possibility of fallout affecting native Aborigines?

1A. I gave every thought to this fact and, in fact, I was convinced by our fallout prediction experts and meteorologists and in consultation with Mr Dwyer and the Safety Committee that what we were doing was completely safe and at no time would the mainland of Australia be contaminated.

'Q. Did you get any confirmation of the information as to whether or not it was safe to fire yourself: to pay any regard to the possibility Aborigines might be affected?

1 A. The question does not arise. There were no

Aborigines on Monte Bello Islands.

1Q . What about mainland?

1 A. There was no case for supposing any fallout would cross the mainland from G1 or G2. [Trans., p.4908]

7.5.4 The safety of Aborigines was unquestionably the

responsibility of the AWTSC. However, they too paid little attention to Aboriginal safety for the Mosaic tests.

7.5.5 The AWTSC had received the AWRti Report 0-41/55 1 Safety Levels for Contamination from Fallout from Atomic Weapons Trials' [RC 274] by its 5th Meeting on 6 March 1956. This document had been prepared in relation to the forthcoming tests at Maralinga. The AWTSC decided that the Levels A and B set down in 0-41/55 may not have been adequate for the safety of Aboriginal people living

in the open without clothes or shoes but, again, this was in relation to the Maralinga tests. It requested further

information from the British and the result was an appendix to 0-41/55.

7.5.6 Appendix A to 0-41/55 [RC 274] said that

‘...the permissible levels of contamination are reduced by a factor of 5 in the case of a tribal native, which means that for a nominal burst the acceptable level would occur at a distance of about 240 miles from ground zero.1

Although the Appendix with its revised levels was available before the firing of G1 (albeit only several weeks before), it was not adopted for that test. Instead, 1AWRE recommend the adoption of one half level B as the marginal level...This was the equivalent of 12.5 r of gamma radiation or 25 rep of beta

radiation [RC 131, Minutes of the 6th Meeting of the AWTSC].


7-5.7 Titterton was not convinced and agreed to the adoption of half Level B for one occasion only. He was concerned about the build-up which would occur with the frequency of firings, but as there were only two tests in the Mosaic series, this was not as great a problem as it would be at Maralinga where numerous

firings were being planned. Neither was he convinced by the argument that as the Americans had used Level B at Nevada, the adoption of half Level B would necessarily be viewed as the last word on the subject in Australia due to the presence of 1 well

informed and politically active critics' [RC 131, Minutes of the 6th Meeting of the AWTSCj. There should have been concerns other than political ones.

7.5.8 After Gl, when half Level B had been adopted, and

before G2, the following telegram was sent from HMS Narvik to Aldermaston:

1 Believe half B will be accepted for regions where no Aboriginals. Quarter B if Aboriginals present. This not formally agreed but likely to be applied G2 due presence Aboriginals north west Australia.1 lRC 558, p.2485 J

7.5.9 There is no evidence that the level ' Quarter B ' was adopted and in fact no direct confirmation has been found that the quantitative levels applying to half Level B were employed for Operation Mosaic.

7.5.10 As it turned out, the levels of fallout measured on the mainland were much less than the half Level B criterion. The highest measured fallout was at Port Hedland where the aerial survey results gave a third Level A where this was the level for people living a Western lifestyle [RC 270, T24/57J. On this

basis the Level A for Aboriginal people would have been slightly exceeded.

7.5.11 A sticky paper sample at Port Hedland collected

radioactivity but at only about one-tenth Level A for nomadic Aborigines [RC 270, T24/57J. However, it exceeded the Level A introduced in 1959 when the ICRP had introduced dose limits for

members of the general public.


7.5.12 The presence of Aborigines on the mainland near the Monte Bello Islands and their extra vulnerability to the effect of fallout was not recognised by either AWRE or the Safety

Committee. It was a major oversight that the question of acceptable dose levels for Aborigines was recognised as a problem at Maralinga but was ignored in setting the fallout criteria for the Mosaic tests.


7.6 Safety of Servicemen

7.6.1 The involvement of service personnel at Mosaic and their exposure to the risk of radiation was considerably less than at the Hurricane test in the Monte Bellos. This was due to two factors. First, the cloud sampling was conducted by RAF

Canberra aircraft which were considerably more suitable than the Lincolns used at Hurricane as they were sealed and pressurised aircraft and had been specially modified to protect the crews. Second, re-entry to the Islands after the explosion was on a very

limited scale and tightly controlled by Health Physics staff.

7.6.2 Naval involvement in the operation was considerable. The ships used were

Task Group 308.1 HMS Narvik - The control ship HMS Alert RFA Eddyrock - Fuel supplies

Task Group 308.2 HMAS Warrego HMAS Karangi HMAS Fremantle HMAS Junee MRL 252 MWL 251

Task Group 308.4 HMS Diana

7.6.3 A weather station was located at 20 degrees S

105 degrees E from 9 April 1956 and the following ships carried out that role at different times during the operation:

Task Group 308.3 HMS Cossack HMS Concord HMS Comus HMS Consort HMS Newfoundland

7.6.4 At the time of firing Gl, these ships were to be

located as set out below (Figure 7.6.1):

(i) HMS Narvik at 158 degrees and 3.2 miles (5.1 km) from the Flag Island beacon;

(ii) HMS Alert at 113 degrees and 4.6 miles (7.3 km) from the Flag Island beacon;

(iii) The RAN ships of Task Group 308.2 were to be at 158 degrees and 7 miles (11.2 km) from the Flag Island beacon [RC 233, p.332J.

HMS Diana had more detailed orders and will be dealt with separately.


FIGURE 7.6.1

Figure 7.6.1

Operation Mosaic (Gt)

Position of HM and HMA ships at time of detonation (1150 16 May 1956)

Position of ship: o

Positions of

O H M S Diana

Ships at the Time of the Mosaic G1 Explosion

s· ^Trim ouille Island

MONTE BELLO A ' Fla9 lsland ISLANDS vU'Hermite Island HM S Narvik HMS Alert

0 ( HMAS Fremantle

Lowendal Island ^ HMAS Junee

M W L 2 5 1 M R L25 2

Barrow Island

Barrow Island Shoals

\ »

North Sand'

' Island ■

Mary Anne Passage ,Rosily Island

Airlie Island

•O n slo w



7.6.5 After the explosion, the orders for the movements of ships envisaged HMS Narvik and HMS Alert proceeding on D-day to the lagoon or the Parting Pool to anchor when ordered LRC 233, p.333 j. In the event, following a radiological survey of the

lagoon by members of the Radiological Group wearing full protective clothing and working from a motor cutter, HMS Alert returned to her fixed buoy and HMS Narvik anchored off Cocoa Beach on the evening of 16 May 1956.

7.6.6 The Radiological Group survey team considered that the main hazard came from contaminated seaweed. Aboard Alert and Narvik, the use of water evaporators, and the catching and eating of fish, was prohibited by the Commander of Task Force 308 until

further orders.

7.6.7 The re-entry program and the personnel involved for G1 has been described in considerable detail in RC 233 Lp.345]. It was envisaged that re-entry would commence at H+50 minutes with the party arriving and landing at Main Beach at H+2.25 hours and commencing a survey of Trimouille Island.

7.6.8 The majority of the instruments were to be retrieved on D+l and a further ground survey was to be conducted on D+2. Crater samples were to be collected at a date to be decided by Hole, the Health Controller who was responsible to the

Operational Commander for all aspects of radiological safety.

7.6.9 After the G1 test, a health control was established on Main Beach in a tent which was also used as an office and

headquarters. A large tarpaulin laid out alongside the tent was divided into clean and dirty areas and was where the re-entrants dressed and undressed. The landing craft was fitted with a pump so that the survey team could wash themselves down before returning to the Narvik.

7.6.10 Before the explosion, the tent was collapsed ready for re-erection. The re-entry on D-day, 16 May 1956, went smoothly. No contaminated seawater was encountered on the journey to Main Beach and the party was able to land, re-erect the tent and commence the sortie within 40 minutes.

7.6.11 On D+2, crater samples were collected by Hole with Long as his Health Escort and another sortie was made to the crater on D+9 by Maddock and Rixon; 'High personal doses on the sorties were unavoidable due to the necessity of getting the samples at

that time‘ [RC 233, p.188J.

7.6.12 The re-entry procedures for G1 appear to have been well planned. The re-entry was completed by D+3 and protection of personnel involved was adequate. Those who received high doses were, because of their position and knowledge, able to make an assessment of the risk, and the highest recorded dose was still within the recommended maximum limits of the time.


FIGURE 7.6.2

Figure 7.6.2

Operation Mosaic (G2)

Position of HM and HMA ships at time of detonation (1015 19 June 1956)

Position of ship: o

Positions of Ships at the Time of the Mosaic G2 Explosion

i HMS Diana T (160 km N of GZ)

β· <^Trimouille Island

M O NTE BELLO Δ * Fla9 lsland ISLANDS jj'H e rm ite Island

( HM S Narvik 1 HM S Alert ° ) M W L251

Lowendal Island ^ v MRL 252

Barrow Island

cJSholl Island

Barrow Island Shoals

\ » } North Sc Mary Anne Passage ,Rosily Island

Airlie Island

HMAS Karangi Q ,

•O n slo w



7.6.13 The positions of the ships at the time of the explosion of the G2 test are shown in Figure 7.6.2.

7.6.14 Re-entry after the G2 test was more limited in scope than for G1 as it consisted of only two sorties. The first sortie on D+l involved driving a Land Rover from a landing craft at the western end of Alpha Island. The party drove this vehicle to within 400 yards of Ground Zero and recovered the blast measurement equipment. The exposure risk is stated to have been

'negligible 1 [RC 291, T21/57, p.7j. Full protective clothing was worn and on return to the LCA, the parties placed the clothing in bins to be returned to HMS Narvik.

7.6.15 A second sortie by Sewell and Bennett was made to

recover film badges from the northern tip of Hermite Island. This area was free of contamination. A sample was collected from the G2 crater by Hole and Haddock.

7.6.16 It appears that the re-entry tasks following 02 were also planned and performed to a high standard.

7.6.17 Report T21/57 lists the 25 people at the Monte Bellos who received doses of more than 0.05 r during Operation Mosaic [RC 291, p.18].

7.6.18 Not surprisingly, the people involved in gathering samples from the bomb craters received relatively high doses.

7.6.19 HMS Narvik, the control ship, was located close to the Islands for the whole of the operation. In an endeavour to ensure that those on board were not exposed to health risks, the air activity was monitored, daily checks were made on the level of activity in drinking and shower water and the ship's

condensers were checked. In addition, spot checks were made on the crew's living and sleeping quarters. Hole reported that activity levels on the Narvik were 'insignificant' [RC 291, T21/57, p.7j.

7.6.20 Cloud sampling for the Mosaic trials was undertaken by RAF Canberra bombers operating from the RAAF base at Pearce. For Gl, four Canberras were sent from Pearce. Two were to sample the cloud shortly after the explosion and two were to provide

support. The aircraft carried filters to collect samples for radiochemical analysis and were modified to help protect the crews from exposure to radiation. About 20 minutes after firing, two Canberras entered the cloud, one at an altitude of

20 500 feet and the other at 17 500 feet. The higher flying aircraft was crewed by Group Captain Menaul, Flying Officer Love and Squadron Leader Boyd, and the aircraft at 17 500 feet was crewed by Flight Lieutenant Brettell, Flying Officer Digby and Flying Officer Phillips. When they returned to Pearce with their

samples, they were monitored and decontaminated. The Mosaic Operational Commander's Report states that '...monitoring showed that not more than 2.5 r had been taken by any crew member'


[RC 233, p. 117j . The doses for UK staff at RAAF Pearce for the Mosaic Operation are set out in Report T21/57 [RC 291, p.19J and show readings higher than 2.5 r. They range from 5.80 r to 2.90 r. These doses, though higher than stated in RC 233, are nonetheless within the allowed limits.

7.6.21 The fifth Canberra took off to obtain a late sample but as this was thought to be unnecessary, a cloud tracking sortie was undertaken instead. All tracking sorties were stopped at H+6 hours.

7.6.22 The other air tasks undertaken after G1 were an aerial crater survey by a Varsity aircraft and air surveys of the mainland. These presented no health hazards to the crews involved.

7.6.23 After G2, the cloud sampling was again undertaken by two Canberra bombers flying at altitudes of 40 000 and 27 000 feet. The higher aircraft was crewed by Air Commodore Wilson, Flight Lieutenant Gumming and Flying Officer Davis; the crew of

the other aircraft was Flying Officer Clellan, Flying

Officer Adams and Flying Officer Ashbury. The doses recorded for these men range from 5.30 r for Wilson to 3.30 r for Ashbury [RC 291, T21/57, p. 19 j. The crew of the aircraft which flew at 40 000 feet received higher doses than those in the other Canberra.

7.6.24 Other duties undertaken by the Air Task Group following G2 included tracking the cloud at H+4 by a Canberra stationed at Pearce. This aircraft found the cloud and was said to have been 1 moderately contaminated1 [RC 233, p.119j. A Canberra aircraft

from Darwin attempted to find the cloud but could not locate it.

7.6.25 On D+l following G2 two Varsities completed an aerial survey from Onslow to Darwin and return. This sortie involved no radiological hazards to the crews.

7.6.26 Procedures at RAAF Pearce to cope with the

contamination of aircraft and crews were the responsibility of Stevenson [RC 319]. The facilities were limited but adequate since decontamination of the aircraft was not attempted. Rather, the aircraft were sprayed with a barrier paint between the tests

to seal the contamination. Final decontamination was postponed until after Operation Buffalo because of the difficulty of disposing of contaminated effluent at Pearce.

7.6.27 It appears that adequate protection was afforded to the air and ground crews of the Mosaic Air Task Group. They were fully briefed and rehearsed in advance. Respirators were worn by the ground crews for operations involving a risk of inhalation or

ingestion, such as the removal of the sampling filters, and Stevenson also states that film badges were worn by all who entered the active area at Pearce [RC 319, para.15J.


A n e g a t i o n s o f P a r t i c i p a n t s a t M o s a i c

7.6.28 It was alleged in evidence that participants at Mosaic had access to areas which were still contaminated from the Hurricane explosion in 1952, that pieces of twisted metal and fragments of the Plym were discovered and that swimming and

fishing was permitted in areas still contaminated LBlake, RC 470; Crumper, RC 470; Hollingsworth, RC 507].

7.6.29 By 1956, the levels of contamination remaining on the Monte Bellos from the Hurricane test were low. The surrounding seawater was not active. The Islands were monitored to assess the residual contamination by P Beaver and the medical officer of HMS Narvik, Surgeon Lieutenant R Paul. Hole stated that there

was some residual contamination of a low level on parts of Trimouille and Alpha Islands [RC 291, T21/57J.

7.6.30 Hole also stated that

1 In the early stages of the preparation period all personnel landing at Trimouille Island had to change into another set of clothing prior to working on any part of the Island...When more extensive surveys were made later this drill was relaxed for personnel working at the tower site but was retained for staff going into more active areas.'

7.6.31 Despite evidence of some control over the active areas of Trimouille and Alpha Islands and areas remaining contaminated after Hurricane, exposure to radiation of participants cannot be excluded.

7.6.32 It should be borne in mind that considerable freedom of access to other islands was allowed, particularly Delta where the Lido or wet mess was located. Also fishing was specifically prohibited immediately following G1 until further orders. The Royal Commission finds that servicemen who swam and fisned at the Monte Bellos just prior to the firing of G1 were not at risk.

7.6.33 Mr Muxworthy gave evidence j_RC 498] that he was a re-entrant to Trimouille Island and was in a rescue party for the helicopter which carried out an aerial survey of the G1 crater. He wore full protective clothing. He was also a member of the party which re-entered Alpha Island following G2 and complains

that he was not fitted out with protective clothing on that occasion. The reason is simply that a preliminary survey of that area of Alpha Island had found it to be ‘ free from

contamination...' [RC 291, T21/57, p.7J.

7.6.34 In his evidence, Berry said that he went back to

Trimouille Island without protective clothing to collect equipment after the explosions [RC 202, p.4092]. He claimed that his health had been affected by exposure to the radiation at


Mosaic. His film badge reading was zero and he does acknowledge that he had such a badge LTrans., p.4103]. He claims not to have seen a decontamination unit during his tour of duty at the Monte Bellos.

7.6.35 As set out above, the decontamination facilities for the re-entrants at G1 was a tent and there was no decontamination for G2. The re-entrants removed their outer protective clothing, put it in bins and returned to Narvik. It is clear that Berry did not re-enter either Trimouille or Alpha Islands after the explosion. He is not listed among the re-entrants in Report T21/57 and does not recall wearing protective clothing which the Royal Commission is satisfied was worn by all re-entrants after Mosaic. The explanation may be that he is confusing Trimouille and Hermite Islands.

HMS Diana

7.6.36 Evidence was given by five men aboard HMS Diana during Operation Mosaic LStephens, RC 182; Syder, RC 219; Scott, RC 133; Coles, RC 470; Grant-Fakrell, RC 506].

7.6.37 HMS Diana was present at Mosaic in a unique capacity:

'It was arranged that HMS Diana should be stationed in the fallout area from each shot to obtain scientific data on fallout and to provide operational experience of conditions that may arise in nuclear warfare. It was planned that Diana should be stationed so as to

receive as much fallout as possible consistent with ensuring that no member of the ship's company received a biologically significant dose of radiation...' LRC 434, p.lj

7.6.38 For Gl, Diana was to be stationed so that she received '...fallout from the bottom of the puff of the atomic cloud, at such a distance that the estimated hypothetical peak total gamma dose in an infinite field would be 5 roentgens' [RC 434, p.lj.

It was calculated that if she was so positioned then the

following doses would apply on board:

From an infinite field 5. r

On deck 2.5 r

Below deck (no washdown) <1.25 r Below deck (pre-wetting and washdown) <0.3 r

These levels of contamination were accepted by the Admiralty Research Laboratory beforehand.

7.6.39 The ship was to be positioned 002 degrees and 40 miles from Ground Zero at the time of the explosion. In actuality, she was three miles east at H+9 minutes. Speed and course were


adjusted to pass through the position at H+1.34 hours the estimated time of arrival of the fallout. Fallout arrived but stopped after 20 minutes, so the captain then made a series of

manoeuvres to pick up more.

7.6.40 The observed dose rates were about 5 mr/h at H+l2 hours and the bulk of the activity arrived at H+7.5 hours. In his report [RC 434], Beale calculated that this corresponded to a total dose of about 0.3 r on the pre-wetted upper deck of the ship. By way of comparison, the forecastle was not pre-wetted and received a dose rate of 20 mr/h which is stated to correspond

to a dose of about 1.3 r.

7.6.41 For G2, Diana's position was chosen so that fallout would be received from about the centre of the cloud. A

hypothetical peak total gamma dose in an infinite field of 9 r was used rather than the 5 r specified in the Admiralty

Instructions. She was positioned at 100 miles from Ground Zero.

7.6.42 Fallout was first received at H+3.12 hours and the bulk arrived at H+4 hours. Beale's report stated that the readings on the upper deck varied but were, in the main, below 10 mr/h; he calculated that this corresponded to a total dose to infinity of just under 1 r on the upper pre-wetted deck [RC 434, p. 6].

7.6.43 Beale concluded that 'no member of the ship's company received a measurable gamma dose' [RC 434, p.8], and attributed this possibly to a conservative estimate of the shielding effect of the ship's structure.

7.6.44 It is the case that despite the experimental nature of the operation and what were, in essence, the calculated risks, none of the ship's company were exposed to levels of radiation which exceeded the limits for the operational period.

7.6.45 Andrews said in evidence to the Royal Commission that 'every precaution was taken that could be taken to ensure that both ship and personnel were absolutely safe and they were' [Trans., p.1332]. Andrews also said that other protective measures adhered to included sealing the evaporator used to provide fresh water on board, instructing crew members (such as

the engine room branch) on methods for detecting radioactivity, and ensuring that after fallout had ceased, the monitoring party went on deck wearing full protective clothing [Trans., p.1331]. Indeed, one seaman claims that 'some personnel were wearing

"spacemen" suits... which were removed at the bulkheads when the personnel went below' |_RC 219, p. 4 j .

7.6.46 K A Stephens [RC 182J and R H Scott [RC 133] have also indicated the type of safety measures taken aboard HMS Diana. Stephens said that the ship's company was

'...told to turn our backs and not to look at the

initial blast. We were later told that we could turn around...We had to put on certain items of clothing.


These included our normal clothing, anti-flash gloves, and a fleecy-lined Irish linen anti-flash balaklava. Over this we had a plastic style oil-skin coat,

leggings and boots. We had a hat but I cannot recall what style it was. We looked very much like North Sea fishermen.‘ [RC 182, p.3]

7.6.47 Saxby claims that the whole crew of HMS Diana was

issued with film badges [Trans. , p.6133j, although he said later that

11 have certainly had records of certain film badges for the crew.1

7.6.48 Hole [RC 290J, however, has indicated that the ship's company was not issued with film badges [Trans., p.5223J. He justified this by saying that

1 By any stretch of the imagination in view of the predicted fallout that may possibly strike there, which was just enough to get their results, one could not see a case where any dose accumulated over that particular period would be greater than three-tenths of the

recommended ICRP level. Under those circumstances we decided that a film badge was not necessary. There would be adequate monitoring in any case.'

7.6.49 There was some degree of concern by the Admiralty about levels of radiation below deck, given that Scott [RC 133 J says that 1 two of the ship's crew in my area were continually taking radiation readings on a geiger counter' [Trans., p.2821j.

7.6.50 Of those men who were above decks, Vice Admiral Sir Hugh Martell said that ' the number is probably counted on the fingers of one hand' [.Trans·, p. 4955 j, and probably wore a film

badge. Syder, one of the ratings aboard Diana, claimed that he was issued with and wore a film badge when above decks. In his statement he said that

'The meters and badges were handed in on going below. We were told to take showers, and after the showers body readings were taken. If those readings remained above an acceptable level we had to shower again. '

[RC 219, p.4j

7.6.51 Stephens, who was in the direction tower, the second highest position on the ship, was under cover and 'surrounded by heavy plate glass/perspex' i_RC 182, p. 4 J. The only exposure Stephens claimed he may have received would have occurred when

going to or returning from the tower:

' The tower is reached by climbing down inside of the mast superstructure and then a short passage in the open to the damage control ablutions area.' [RC 182, P-4J


Stephens had what he described as a 1 roentgen counter1 and a personal dose rate meter:

1 The purpose of these had been explained to us and I was sufficiently aware to understand that their presence indicated that there was some risk and that we would have to look after them.' [RC 182, pp.3-4]

Stephens has claimed that the same practice was adopted in both tests.

7.6.52 Syder stated that he was on deck during the first track through the fallout from Gl, claiming that the pre-wetting system, designed to rid the upper decks of Diana quickly of fallout, was not operational, and that he was able to watch particles fall on the anti-slip pads LTrans., p.4955J. Syder is probably referring to the forecastle which was not pre-wetted

[RC 434, p.5j, and received a dose rate of 20 mr/h, corresponding to a dose to infinity of about 1.3 r.

7.6.53 The issue of film badges was also raised in respect of those men who were tested in the citadel. Martell said in evidence that those crew members did not need to wear film badges, because

'...if you sit in an iron box, sealed, with half a

dozen other chaps, (and) that iron box has monitors all over from a central control position, these people are not contributing to themselves or anyone else by wearing badges. It is an area into which no

contamination can go.' LTrans., p.4955]

7.6.54 It seems from their evidence that most people wore film badges and that some of those on board wore protective clothing. None of those who gave evidence complained of illnesses which they relate to their service on HMS Diana.



(a) The Royal Commission concludes that the precautions taken for the health and safety of the servicemen at Mosaic were generally adequate.

(b) It is the Royal Commission's view that all efforts were taken to limit radiation exposure of the crew of HMS Diana from fallout. Those below decks would have received only minimal or background levels of radiation, and those above decks and exposed

to fallout were wearing protective clothing and film badges and had their doses recorded.




8.0 Introduction

8.0. 1 The Buffalo explosions in September and October of 1956 were the first atomic bomb tests on the Maralinga Range. Figure 8.0.1 is a map showing the location of Maralinga; Figures 8.0.2 and 8.0.3 are maps of the Range. The Trials

Director was Sir William Penney. Preliminary activity was co-ordinated by the Buffalo Executive in the UK, and the Atomic Weapons Tests Committee in Australia.

8.0. 2 The tests not only furthered bomb design and

development but also they provided an opportunity for selected Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and British officers from the various Services, collectively known as the Indoctrinee Force, to observe at first hand the effects of a nuclear explosion on

target response items. These included a Centurion tank, aircraft and aircraft parts, military, electronic and medical equipment, and defensive emplacements. Officers and other ranks of the Indoctrinee Force toured the Range, including contaminated areas, after Buffalo 1 and 2. 100 Australians participated in the

Indoctrination program.

8.0. 3 Radiological Safety Regulations were approved for Maralinga Range by the AW RE in March 1956. Responsibility for implementation of the regulations for Operation Buffalo lay with the Health Physics Adviser, G C Dale (AWRE), aided by the Health

Physics Group under Colonel S J Dagg (also AWRE). Their tasks included the establishment of health control for the tests, and maintenance of records of doses received by all personnel. Joint Deputy Leader of the Health Physics Group was Mr Ο H Turner of

the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. At the conclusion of Operation Buffalo he became the Australian Health Physics Representative at Maralinga (see para.8.1.9).

8.0. 4 The Health Physics Group worked closely with the

Decontamination Group and the Radiological Measurements Group, which included the Australian Radiation Detection Unit of 22 servicemen trained by J F Richardson of the CXRL. The

Decontamination Group leader was Dr D G Stevenson (AWRE), and the Radiological Measurements leader was G C Dale.

8.0. 5 Senior Meteorologist for the trials was H R Phillpot, seconded from the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. He was assisted by a staff of seven Australians. The Meteorology Group's work, with that of the Theoretical Predictions Group

under E P Hicks (AWRE) enabled the AWTSC and the Trials Director to determine safe firing conditions.


FIGURE 8.0.1

Map of South Australia Showing Location of Maralinga


FIGURE 8.0.2

Map of Maralinga Range




6 MILES (approx.)


FIGURE 8.0.3

Map of Forward Area at Maralinga (to 25th Avenue)

Twenty fifth Avenue

Tenth Avenue

Fifth Avenue

Second Avenue Second Avenue





6 MILES (approx.)


8.0. 6 Air operations for the Buffalo trials were a RAF

responsibility. Officer Commanding the Air Task Group was Group Captain Menaul, RAF. The main operational air base was at RAAF Edinburgh, with an advance airfield at Maralinga. Canberra aircraft carried out sampling and tracking duties and Varsities

undertook radiological surveys and medium height cloud tracking. The Buffalo 3 bomb was dropped from a Valiant bomber.

8.0. 7 The Decontamination Group at Maralinga was responsible for all decontamination of aircraft there, and in addition a decontamination centre staffed by RAF and RAAF personnel was set up at RAAF Edinburgh to deal with lesser contaminated aircraft.

Staff at Edinburgh were trained by and worked under the

supervision of a member of the Decontamination Group.

8.0. 8 An Australia-wide sampling network involving

86 stations was operated during the Buffalo series on behalf of the AWTSC. The Emu site north of Maralinga was re-established and used as a base for medium range fallout measurements, herbage sampling and a mobile meteorological station. Four teams, each of two men from the Australian Radiation Detection Unit, operated

from Emu and a fifth team was based on the North-South road.

8.0. 9 Ground and aerial searches for Aborigines north of the transcontinental railway line were conducted within one hundred and seventy miles of the firing sites. The aerial searches were carried out by the RAF using Varsity aircraft.

8.0. 10 The UK used live animals in test experiments for the first time in Operation Buffalo to assess the direct effects of the explosions and the resultant ingestion, assimilation and retention of radioactive products. Six Australians assisted in

the Biological Group.

8.0. 11 Buffalo 1 was detonated on a tower at One Tree site at 1700 hours CST on 27 September 1956. It had a yield of

approximately 15 kt.

8.0. 12 Buffalo 2 was exploded at ground level at Marcoo site at 1630 hours CST on 4 October 1956. It had a yield of

approximately 1.5 kt.

8.0. 13 Buffalo 3 was dropped by the RAF and exploded 500 feet above the Kite site at 1427 hours CST on 11 October 1956. It had a yield of approximately 3 kt.

8.0. 14 Buffalo 4 was mounted on a tower at the Breakaway site and detonated at 0005 hours CST on 22 October 1956. It had an approximate yield of 10 kt.

8.0. 15 The Trials Director and his staff had left Maralinga by 8 November 1956. The Range theij entered an inter-trial period. Responsibility for control of the Range then devolved on the Australian Range Commander, advised by the Australian Health Physics Representative.


8.1 Establishment and Management of the Range

8.1.1 The need for a permanent mainland testing site at which to continue the UK atomic tests program was foreseen as early as 1952. The Emu site in South Australia, used in 1953 for the Totem series, suffered from inadequate water supplies, and

difficult terrain made supply and transportation generally expensive and inconvenient. The search ended with the choice of a site, now known as Maralinga, north of the transcontinental railway line between Cook and Ooldea in South Australia,

reconnoitred by Sir William Penney and Mr Butement in

October 1953. The Australian Government agreed to the

establishment of a permanent proving ground at Maralinga on 26 August 1954 and, by April 1955, work was advanced sufficiently to allow a series of Kittens trials, followed in July by the Tims trials, to take place (see Ch.10). The first major trial at Maralinga was the Buffalo 1 explosion, in September 1956.

8.1.2 The joint UK-Australian Memorandum of Arrangements, dated 7 March 1956, sets out in broad terms the financial and administrative arrangements which were to apply. The UK agreed to bear the cost of the establishment and maintenance of the Range and of all tests, other than costs of work specifically

requested by Australia and Australian costs incurred in the provision of the normal services, e.g. service personnel wages. The UK also agreed to be responsible for undertaking all practicable measures on the site to ensure that tests were

carried out without risk of injury or damage to persons or property.

8.1.3 The Memorandum nominated the Atomic Weapons Tests Committee (AWTC) as the co-ordinating body for construction and maintenance of the Range. This interdepartmental committee was responsible to the Australian Minister for Supply and was chaired by the Secretary of that Department. The Head of Staff of

UKMOSS(A) was the permanent UK representative on the Committee. Its first meeting was held on 9 May 1955.

8.1.4 It became obvious after Operation Buffalo that the Range would not be closed down between major trials, as had at first been envisaged, but would in fact have to support an almost year-round program of minor trials and assessment tests. The Maralinga Board of Management was established in 1957 to provide a more appropriate administrative and operational structure than

the AWTC could provide in the changed circumstances.

8·1 · 5 The Board was a joint UK-Australian body under the chairmanship of the Secretary of the Australian Department of Supply. The Head of Staff of UKMOSS (A) was his Deputy and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to the Board was the UKMOSS(A) Atomic Weapons Staff Officer. The Board first met on

29 April 1957.


8.1.6 The role of the CEO was never clearly defined, although in practice, as the UK officer answerable to Head of Staff, UKMOSS(A), the CEO was regarded as being responsible for implementing all executive action concerning Maralinga (a British project). Matters concerning Australian participation were

directed through the Chairman, the Assistant Secretary Research and Development (Department of Supply), and the Secretary of the Board.

8.1.7 The Range Commander was an Australian Army appointment, with control and command of the Range and of the Maralinga Range Support Unit. He was responsible to the Secretary of the Department of Supply for all matters pertaining to Australian

sovereignty and for implementation of the security plan, which included the overseeing of Native Patrol Officers' reports on the location and movement of Aborigines. He was responsible, through the Board of Management, to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to heads of Government departments for administration of their personnel, and to the Head of Staff, UKMOSS (A), for the custody and

maintenance of all UK property. In conjunction with AW RE and UKMOSS(A) he was responsible to the Trials Director for local administrative support for the trials. Regulations covering movement, security, communication, issue and control of stores

and general administration on the Range were issued by the Range Commander as Range Standing Orders.

8.1.8 Radiological safety on the Range was the specific responsibility of AWRE. During major trials, the senior UK health physics officer oversaw Range health physics matters on behalf of the Trials Director. During minor trial periods, a

similar arrangement was in force for the localised area of the trials, although responsibility for the implementation of safety regulations over the rest of the Range remained with the Australian Health Physics Representative (AHPR), an Australian

appointee on the Range Commander's staff. Maralinga Range Radiological Safety Regulations, drawn up by AWRE staff, set out details of the responsibilities of the Trials Director, AHPR, and Range Commander during trial and inter-trial periods.

8.1.9 The position of AHPR, originally intended to be filled on a rotating basis, was in fact held by Mr Ο H Turner from

1956-1964, or virtually the life of the Range. He was on

secondment from the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and his position was administered by the Commonwealth X-Ray and Radium Laboratory (CXRL) on behalf of AWRE, to whom he was operationally responsible. His duties included implementation of the Maralinga

Radiological Safety Regulations in inter-trial periods, and the submission of a monthly report on the radiological state of the Range. In these tasks he was assisted by a UK appointee and a section from the Australian Radiation Detection Unit (ARDU). The ARDU was a group of 22 men trained to assist in the collection of

radiological information in major trials by J F Richardson, senior health physicist at CXRL. Turner was assisted by a UK appointee who became the senior health physics officer


responsible for radiological safety in minor trials areas when trials teams did not bring with them a designated health physics adviser.

8.1.10 The question of responsibility for safety on the Range during inter-trial periods became somewhat clouded by the extensive programs of minor trials undertaken by the British after 1956. During these periods, which by 1959 and the start of

the Maralinga Experimental Programmes occupied up to ten months of the year, the Range Commander or his representative had no responsibility, nor authority for ensuring safety practice at minor trials sites, although the spirit of the joint agreement on Maralinga was that the Australian Government should at all times

be able to assure the Australian people of the health and safety of Australian life and property. The matter was brought to a head in September 1960 when a second balloon escape occurred. After that event, talks were held with British representatives,

including Captain F B Lloyd, Director of Atomic Weapons Trials (Planning), UK Ministry of Supply, and the British agreed to pass on greater details of firing schedules and safety criteria to enable the Range Commander to establish required safety precautions effectively and, in some circumstances, to veto a


8.2 Criteria for Safe Firing

8.2.1 The criteria for safe firing of the Buffalo rounds were based on the acceptable levels of fallout contamination defined in AWRE Report 0-41/55, dated October 1955 and its Appendix A, dated 3 April 1956 [RC 274]. The report defined two levels:

Level A - that level which will not give rise to any observable effects on the body.

Level B - that level which could cause a small

observable effect such as slight temporary sickness in a few people if they had a low threshold sensitivity to radiation. The proportion of such people in a

population would be a fraction of one per cent.

8.2.2 Appendix A to this report extended the calculation of contamination levels to include exposure to 1 people living in semi-primitive conditions'. The levels in the Appendix were still called Level A and Level B, although subsequently, prior to Antler, they were called Level A 1 and Level B 1 . The Safety Committee accepted the Level A and Level B of contamination as

defined in Appendix A of 0-41/55 but it seems to have had some doubts as to whether it would be able to impose them on the UK Trials team. After all, prior to the Mosaic tests, Adams had proposed that the B/2 level be used as the marginal level. For

Buffalo, the Safety Committee wanted to make sure that it had the support of the Federal Cabinet in imposing the criteria.


8.2.3 The Safety Committee submitted a report to Cabinet on 13 August 1956 asking for guidance and instruction on the acceptable levels of contamination from Operation Buffalo [RC 800, p.563496]. In the report, the Safety Committee outlined

the problems associated with the Maralinga site:

1 From the purely safety point of view it is possible to lay down firing conditions which will ensure that there is no hazard to humans, animals or plant life except in the immediate area of the test site - a prohibited area. However, it is appreciated that political difficulties can arise from the detection of small

quantities of fallout in the outback or elsewhere even when this does not involve a health hazard. This possibility is one which we feel should be understood by the Government. It is manifestly impossible to

prevent radioactivity from falling on the mainland in the case of the Maralinga tests. The task of the

Safety Committee is to ensure that the activity which does reach the ground outside the specified danger areas shall be at a level so low that it will not harm people exposed to it, or have any economic effect on plant and animal life.' [RC 523]

8.2.4 The Safety Committee specifically raised two problems in the report; exposure to Aborigines and the possibility of radioactive rain. To ensure protection for Aborigines, the Safety Committee proposed that Level A be the acceptable level of

fallout for any region where Aborigines were likely to be. The submissions included a map showing where there was permanent habitation (Figure 8.2.1). The Safety Committee went on to say

1 This level is lower than that which would be

acceptable for the white population. This will impose a further restriction on the choice of suitable firing conditions, beyond those already agreed with the UK. We also wish it to be clearly understood that such a

dose can be delivered only once in the Buffalo test series to any one area. That is the dose contour from test 3 at distances beyond 100 miles must not overlap that from test 1. We request the Australian Government to pass this requirement to the British Government. '


8.2.5 The reference to round 3 results from the preliminary program which was given to the Safety Committee. In the

preliminary program, round 3 was the second tower-mounted explosion which, in the event, became round 4. The Safety Committee recognised that the two tower-mounted bombs would be the ones to cause the greatest potential problem with fallout.



FIGURE 8.2.1

Map of western South Australia Showing Area Considered by the Safety Committee Uninhabited. Circles show expected limit of 'Level A' fallout under different wind conditions.



....- Boundary of LR WE Restricted Area — — *— Limit of Aboriginal Population ----------- Property Boundaries

n e r i v e d fr o m A.G9

to be


8.2.6 On the question of rain, the Safety Committee

appreciated that radioactive rain presented political difficulties, even if the levels of radioactivity were harmless. In recognition of this, it sought guidance from Federal Cabinet as to whether firing could be allowed under conditions where the possibility of rain could not be excluded at distant locations.

8.2.7 The Safety Committee also felt that there was a problem in ensuring that the UK would accept the Level A criterion. Previously there had never been a firm agreement with the UK on dosage levels. Hence the Committee was anxious that the Australian Government communicate the decision to the UK


8.2.8 Finally the Safety Committee recommended

'Having regard to the special hazard to aborigines it is recommended that -(a) the highest acceptable dosage for aborigines and other population shall be level A;

(b) no overlap of dose contours exceeding level A can be permitted beyond a hundred miles from the test site.

'Also -(a) It is requested that Cabinet consider whether for political reasons it should impose the

restriction that rain should not occur over the relevant area during the passage of the cloud over the continent, although this will limit the number of occasions on which it will be possible to fire.

If so the Government should inform the United Kingdom.

(b) It is desired that Cabinet request the UK to be prepared to take emergency action on the

request of the Safety Committee should this ever become necessary.1 [RC 800, p.563501]

8.2.9 On 4 September 1956, Cabinet:


(a) that the recommendation of the Safety Committee accepted by Sir William Penney regarding the level of radiation to be permitted for both aboriginal and white populations be "Level A" with no overlap of dose contours;

(b) that the possibility of rain on remote areas of the cloud path as described by the Safety Committee be accepted; and


(c) that the United Kingdom Government be required to provide as a first priority all available resources at the request of the Safety Committee should emergency measures become necessary.

In relation to (b) above, Cabinet was of the view that, before the first explosion, a statement should be made referring to the possibility of rain being radioactive to a small degree.

Cabinet noted that grounding or other control of aircraft may be desirable and agreed that public relations aspects of this should be kept in mind.

In relation to the proposed series of minor trials at Maralinga from February to June, 1957, Cabinet agreed that before any decision is reached the Acting Prime Minister and the Minister for Supply should endeavour

to obtain from the United Kingdom Government a more comprehensive account of the United Kingdom programme for Maralinga and the consequent demands on Australian

resources. [RC 800, p.563935]

8.2.10 It is not clear if the Cabinet decision was conveyed to the UK Government. Titterton, in his evidence to the Royal Commission, doubted that the Safety Committee was told of the Cabinet decision [Trans., p.7949], and considered the decision to

be an endorsement of the Safety Committee, but certainly not an order [Trans., p.7951]. The Royal Commission does not find Titterton1s position credible.

8.2.11 The limit on fallout contamination does seem to have been accepted by the UK because in a paper produced before Buffalo 1 by H Cameron, the conditions for firing were given as

'No local contamination to occur South of Ground Zero and beyond 1 mile from Ground Zero. Medium range fallout, outside a boundary line prescribed by the Australian Safety Committee, not to exceed level A. No precipitation within 500 miles from Ground Zero.1

[RC 299, T25/58, Appendix A]

Meteorology and Prediction of Fallout Levels

8.2.12 Before the weapons could be fired, it was necessary for the Safety Committee and the Trials Director to be convinced that the firing conditions would be met and that high levels of fallout would occur only over the uninhabited area. An

Australian Meteorological Group under H R Phillpot used information from the Australian meteorological network supplemented by local observations to determine winds at various


heights, to forecast the weather after the shot and to estimate the likelihood of rain during the passage of the cloud [RC 234, T8/57].

8.2.13 The meteorological data were used by the Theoretical Predictions Group, consisting of E P Hicks and J D Macdougall, to predict the final cloud height and the distribution of fallout [RC 299, T25/58].

8.2.14 The firing conditions were written in terms of the fallout concentration (i.e. in Ci/m2), whereas most of the survey instruments available determined a dose rate. British practice before Buffalo had been to assume that 1 Ci/πν2 of one hour

fission products spread over an infinite plane would give a dose rate of 10 r/h. However, the data collected at previous tests and a better understanding of the effect of surface

irregularities showed that the dose rate from a fallout of 1 Ci/m was closer to 5 r/h; this was the figure adopted by the Theoretical Predictions Group for Buffalo [RC 299, T25/58].

Buffalo 1 (One Tree)

8.2.15 For the first round of the Buffalo series, the expected yield was 12 kt, with a maximum likely yield of 16 kt. It was mounted on a 100 foot tower at the One Tree site. Standby

commenced on 11 September 1956 but unfavourable winds prevented a firing until 27 September when the weapon was fired at 1700 hours CST. The actual yield was 15 kt.

8.2.16 After the long delay there would have been a strong desire to fire the weapon. Even on 27 September, the wind directions were 1 by no means ideal for firing the weapon1 [RC 299, T25/58, p. 10]. It would have been better if the wind had been directed more to the north, and if there had been a much

greater shear above 15 000 feet. The lack of shear meant that the predicted fallout pattern was long and narrow, and extended more than 200 nautical miles for the B/2 level, meaning that for Coober Pedy the fallout was predicted to exceed the B/2 level.

Clearly the predicted fallout did not meet the criterion that fallout in inhabited regions should be less than Level A. However, the Theoretical Predictions Group believed that the cross-wind spread of fallout would be greater than it had predicted. The Group had some evidence for this from various analyses carried out before the firing using real meteorological

data which showed that changes in the post-firing winds would increase the spread. The Safety Committee apparently accepted the argument that the spread would be greater than predicted and

allowed the firing sequence to continue.

8.2.17 When the weapon was exploded, the top of the cloud rose to a height of 37 500 feet, much higher than the 27 900 feet predicted for an explosion of the maximum probable yield. This discrepancy was a matter of serious concern because it affected


the fallout predictions and hence raised questions about meeting the firing conditions. Two problems were identified; the first was the value of a parameter used to determine the rate of growth of the cloud radius with height, and the second was the presence

of condensing water vapour in the cloud [RC 299, T25/58]. The use of the higher cloud would have made little difference to the predicted fallout pattern for this round because of the lack of angular shear at height.

Buffalo 2 (Marcoo)

8.2.18 The second Buffalo test was a ground burst with an expected yield of less than 2 kt. The weapon was fired at

1630 hours GST on 4 October 1956, the first day of the standby period. The yield was about 1.5 kt.

8.2.19 Final predictions of cloud height and fallout were based on data from a balloon ascent carried out at 1430 hours GST. The top of the cloud was predicted to be at 13 000 feet and the bottom at 7000 feet. The wind had a large angular shear which meant that the cloud was soon dispersed. The Level A

fallout contour was predicted to extend between 90 and

110 nautical miles on a bearing of about 80 degrees, and lay entirely in the uninhabited area [RC 299, T25/58].

8.2.20 Rain presented the greatest worry for this round although the high wind speed at the cloud layer (about 40 knots) was very favourable. Isolated thunderstorms were forecast for areas of South Australia north and east of the test site. Clearly this was not 1 remote1 as specified in the Cabinet

Decision [RC 800, p.563935], nor was it 'more than 500 miles from Ground Zero' as specified by the UK Theoretical Predictions Group [RC 299]. Shortly before firing, the natural cloud cover increased considerably. No rain was produced as the radioactive

cloud penetrated the natural cloud layer, but rain subsequently fell to the north-west of the test site [RC 234, T8/57].

Buffalo 3 (Kite)

8.2.21 The third Buffalo test was an air drop with an expected yield of 3 kt. The weapon was fired on the first day of standby. Firing conditions were again less than ideal and the firing time was advanced by an hour to take advantage of favourable winds which were decaying. The weapon was dropped from an aircraft and

fired at a height of 150 m at 1527 hours CST on 11 October 1956. The yield was 3 kt.

8.2.22 The top of the cloud was predicted to reach a height of 16 100 feet. No fallout prediction was made as it was expected that as an airburst it would produce little fallout. However, a fallout prediction for a ground burst was made in case there was a failure and the weapon exploded on the ground.


8.2.23 The explosion went as planned and it was a true

airburst, i.e. the fireball did not reach the ground. The top of the cloud reached 15 000 feet [RC 299, T25/58].

Buffalo 4 (Breakaway)

8.2.24 The fourth Buffalo test was a tower burst with an

expected yield of 16 kt. This was similar to the One Tree test and, in view of the difficulty experienced in obtaining suitable winds for that test, it was decided to reduce the notice for firing to eight hours. Standby commenced on the evening of

18 October, and the weapon was fired at 0005 hours CST on

22 October [RC 299, T25/58], with a yield of about 10 kt.

Conditions had been favourable on 21 October but this was a Sunday and a Sunday firing was not acceptable to the Australian Government.

8.2.25 The cloud from the explosion was predicted to rise to 30 000 feet at the top and 22 500 feet at the bottom. Fallout was predicted to exceed Level A for a distance of 110 nautical miles (i.e. 126 statute miles) in the direction 068 degrees. Fallout in this direction would overlap areas beyond 100 miles

(160 km) that had been contaminated by fallout from round 1 with contamination exceeding Level A. This was in breach of the no-overlap criterion proposed by the Safety Committee and accepted by Federal Cabinet. Winds near the surface were not

very satisfactory, being from 280 degrees at 7000 feet, and were expected to produce some contamination on some of the forward areas to be used for future tests. It was decided that this

local fallout would be of sufficiently low level not to be a problem.

8.2.26 The Safety Committee accepted the forecast conditions and gave approval for the firing [RC 299, T25/58]. A sheet of low stratus cloud moved in shortly before the firing and prevented visual ground observation of the cloud development

[RC 234, T8/57, p.9].

8.3 Fallout Monitoring

Buffalo 1 (One Tree) Fallout

8.3.1 The fallout close to Ground Zero was measured by ground survey teams which went into the Forward Area soon after the explosion, and continued to survey for the following couple of weeks. These surveys were used to position the Health Control Centre and determine the radiation doses on the roads and tracks

[RC 288, T49/57]. The surveys resulted in the mapping of the gamma dose rate contours around the craters and to a distance of about 15 miles (24 km).


8.3.2 The actual deposition of activity close to Ground Zero was measured using three different types of equipment - air samplers that sucked air through a filter, cascade impactors to measure the particle size distribution, and sticky paper

collectors [RC 243, T52/57]. More than 30 sites were established along 5th Avenue, West Street, 25th Avenue and East Street, and one of each type of sensor was installed at each site.

8.3.3 Fallout at about 200 miles (320 km) was measured by an Australian Radiation Detection Unit (ARDU) based at Emu [RC 243, T52/57]. The ARDU was told where the fallout was expected and

then attempted to establish five monitoring sites to straddle the predicted fallout. The ARDU established its sites along the ‘North-South' road from Tarcoola to Goober Pedy and Welbourn Hill, and then north-west to Ernabella. The maximum fallout on the North-South road was at Goober Pedy, where two sticky paper collectors which were exposed from H+3 hours to H+6 hours and H+6 to H+8 hours, collected a total activity of 0.88 mCi/irn

(corrected to H+l hour) [RC 243, T52/57]. A sticky paper sampler 10 miles south of Goober Pedy collected an activity of only 0.03 mCi/m''. There were no sampling stations further to the south. The Theoretical Predictions Group noted these sticky paper results and claimed that it showed that fallout was less

than predicted by an order of magnitude. Unfortunately for them, the aerial surveys to be discussed in the next paragraph showed that the peak fallout went to the south of Goober Pedy between the two sticky paper stations.

8.3.4 The distribution of fallout up to a distance of

200 miles was measured using plastic scintillators mounted in Varsity aircraft and Whirlwind helicopters [RC 244, T51/57]. The Varsities were flown at a height of 500 feet as steadily as possible at 120 knots. The severe turbulence restricted the use

of navigational aids so all positions were determined by dead reckoning. The featureless landscape compounded the difficulties with navigation. The full significance of accurate height information was not appreciated before the trial and the aircraft were fitted with somewhat unsatisfactory radio-altimeters.

Servicing facilities for the altimeters were not provided which led to the loss of results for Buffalo round 4 [RC 244, T51/57].

8.3.5 Helicopters were used to determine how the count rate observed by the detector varied with height [RC 244, T51/57]. The resulting relationship was used in the calibration of the air survey data. The helicopters were also used for some surveys but

this was limited as they were restricted to visual navigation.

8.3.6 The results of the aerial surveys after One Tree are given in Figure 8.3.1 [RC 244, T51/57]. The contours show that the total dose rate from fallout corrected to H+24 hours was less than 9 mr/h beyond 110 statute miles (176 km) but still exceeded

2.3 mr/h at a distance of 200 statute miles (320 km). The

contour line which passed through Goober Pedy corresponded to a total dose rate of 2.3 mr/h, of which fission product contributed a dose rate of 1.7 mr/h.


8.3.7 It is necessary to convert the measured dose rate to an equivalent level of contamination in order to compare the results from the aerial survey with the sticky paper results and the criteria for firing. In AWRE Report 0-41/55 [RC 274] it was assumed that a contamination of 1 Ci/m2 of 1 hour fission products would give a dose rate of 8.7 r/h. However, the

Theoretical Predictions Group at Buffalo concluded that a better value would be a dose rate of 5 r/h from a contamination of 1 Ci/m2 [RC 299, T25/58]. Using 1 Ci/m2 as being equivalent to 5 r/h, the level of contamination at or near Goober Pedy would be 0.5 mCi/m2 (from 2.3 mr/h) and the fallout at locations mo^e than 100 miles from Ground Zero would be less than 1.8 mCi/m (from 9 mr/h), and corrected to H+24 hours.

8.3.8 The level of fallout measured by the sticky paper at Goober Pedy was 0.88 mCi/m2 corrected to H+l hour (see

para.8.3.3). To compare this value with the aerial survey^,2it is necessary to correct to H+24 by dividing by 45.3 (i.e. 24 ' ). Hence the level of fallout collected by the sticky paper at Goober Pedy was 0.019 mCi/m2 corrected to H+24 hours, which is a

factor of 26 less than shown in the contour plot derived from the aerial survey. These results are not necessarily contradictory. The aerial survey scans were flown across the path of the fallout plume and the scans nearest to Goober Pedy were 40 miles (64 km)

to the west and 10 miles (16 km) to the east of Goober Pedy. These scans were then used as the basis of the contours which passed through Goober Pedy. It would be as reasonable for the contour lines between the two scans to be drawn to the south of Goober Pedy, which would be consistent with the sticky paper observation that very little fallout occurred at Goober Pedy.

But it would mean that more fallout would have fallen a few miles south.

8.3.9 The criteria for firing were defined in AWRE

Report 0-41/55 in terms of the fallout at H+l hour. To compare the observed fallout with the firing criteria, it is necessary to correct Level A and Level B fallout to H+24 hours by reducing the numbers by a factor of 45.3. For exposure beginning at H+6 hours and for clothed people living in houses, Level A would become 0.6 mCi/m , and Level B 2.4 mCi/m2 for H+24 hours. For nomadic people living in the open the H+24 hour levels are Level A - 0.1 mCi/m , and Level B - 0.4 mCi/m . Using the conservative

dose rate value of 8.7 r/h from a contamination of 1 Ci/m , the dose rates corresponding to Level A and Level B are 0.87 mr/h and 3.8 mr/h for nomadic people. These levels are shown on

Figure 8.3.1.

8.3.10 The measured fallout of 0.5 mCi/m2 to the east of

Goober Pedy exceeded Level A for Aborigines although it did not exceed the Level A criterion for people living in houses. The Cabinet submission from the Safety Committee imp_Lied that the lower 1 nomadic Aborigine1 Level A 1 of 0.1 mCi/m2 should have

applied to those regions closer to Ground Zero than Goober Pedy where Aborigines were known to be living. Clearly fallout from the One Tree explosion exceeded both the Level A for nomadic


lifestyle and the corresponding Level B concentration in some areas where Aborigines might be expected to be.

8.3.11 The other condition of firing was that there should be no rain within 500 miles. The forecast before the explosion predicted that there would be isolated thunderstorms over eastern New South Wales at the time of the cloud passage and some washout

of radioactive material was expected [RC 234, T8/57, Phillpot]. This was well beyond the 500 miles (800 km) given in the firing conditions. Rain did occur when the radioactive cloud was over the north-east corner of New South Wales. A press report

indicated that rain with a count rate of 600-1000 counts per minute was observed at Inverell (about 200 miles (320 km) south-west of Brisbane) at H+48 hours. Some activity was also reported at Brisbane at the same time.

8.3.12 The Safety Committee monitored the fallout at distant locations to confirm that the fallout levels were acceptable. The results of this survey were published in the Australian Journal of Science in October 1958 [RC 547, Butement et al.

1958]. For Buffalo there were 86 stations, each of which had a sticky paper collector to gather deposited fallout. In addition, 76 of the stations had air pumps fitted with filters to determine the amount of radioactivity which would have been inhaled by people at these locations. In each case, the sticky papers and

filter papers were replaced each day and sent to Melbourne for analysis. The Safety Committee also organised for rain to be collected daily at 13 meteorological stations and for water

samples to be collected from 14 reservoirs. All samples were sent to Commonwealth X-ray and Radium Laboratory (CXRL) for analysis.

8.3.13 The analysis of the post-firing winds predicted that the centre of the main cloud would cross the coast near Coffs Harbour at about H+18 hours and the centre of the secondary cloud at H+33 hours. The sticky paper samples showed that the fallout

occurred over a wide area (Figure 8.3.2). Along the east coast, fallout was detected from Coffs Harbour to Townsville. The highest fallout occurred at Lismore and was associated with washout. The fallout at Lismore was estimated by Butement et al.

[1958] to correspond to a whole body gamma dose of 22 mr. Other locations with significant fallout, i.e. between 1.5 and 7 mr whole body gamma dose, were Thargomindah, Armidale, Bourke, Lismore, Tenterfield and Marree.

Buffalo 2 (Marcoo) Fallout

8.3.14 The fallout from Marcoo, measured by the aerial survey was spread over a wide fan shape from north through to east. The dose rate was less than 1.9 mr/h corrected to H+24 hours at distances more than 50 statute miles from Ground Zero [RC 244, T51/57]. Level A and Level B for this round are shown in

Figure 8.3.3.


FIGURE 8.3.2

The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Buffalo 1 Test. The contours show the total amount of radioactivity recorded by the sticky paper collectors. The squares show the locations of the fallout stations.

Buffalo 1



* 1. 0-1 0

_J 0 1-10

j 0.01-0.1 J <0.01

D a t a f r o m B u t e m e n t et al. 1958

lere Level A and Level B

8.3.15 The main cloud moved to the east and the rain area

contracted to the east ahead of it. At the lower level

(5000 feet) 'it is almost certain that complete washout took place just north-west of the test site1 [RC 234, T8/57]. The sticky paper collectors at the close-in sites were almost all spoiled because rain fell before they could be retrieved [RC 243, T52/57]. The forecast before the firing that rain would fall well within 500 miles proved to be correct.

8.3.16 The continental sticky paper samples detected the passage of the main cloud as it moved to the east (Figure 8.3.4). Along the east coast, fallout was detected between and including

Sydney and Bundaberg but all whole body gamma doses were less than 1 mr.

Buffalo 3 (Kite) Fallout

8.3.17 Buffalo 3 was an airburst and the intermediate distance fallout was only small in quantity. The wind direction changed soon after the explosion and veered from south-west to

north-west. This meant that the cloud was blown to the south and some fallout from a height of 6000-7000 feet fell on the

Maralinga Village about 10 hours after the explosion. Sticky paper samplers in the village showed that about 0.09 mCi/m (corrected to H+l hour) of fallout fell on the village [RC 299, T25/58]. Although this was considered to be 'negligible from a

biological point of view' it does suggest difficulties with the forecast prior to the test.

8.3.18 For this round there was no problem with rain that was either forecast or observed [RC 234, T8/57, p.20].

8.3.19 The cloud was tracked at 7000 and 12 000 feet.

However, the cloud was very diffuse and the last contact was made at H+5.5 for 7000 feet and H+7 hours at 12 000 feet [RC 234, T8/57, p.20].

8.3.20 Sticky paper samplers showed that the main part of the cloud travelled to the east (Figure 8.3.5), but the lower level winds veered to the south causing some fallout over Victoria. Activity was detected in Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney and north to Lismore but all corresponded to a whole body gamma dose of less than 1 mr [RC 547, Butement et al. 1958]. The only station to exceed 1 mr was Watson to the south of the Range which received the equivalent of 4 mr.

Buffalo 4 (Breakaway) Fallout

8.3.21 The fourth Buffalo test was a tower burst similar in size to the first Buffalo round. These two tower bursts were expected to have a higher level of fallout than either of the other two Buffalo rounds.


The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Buffalo 2 Test. The contours show the total amount of radioactivity recorded by the sticky paper collectors. The squares show the locations of the fallout stations.

FIGURE 8.3.4

At? Buffalo 2


I S 1-0-10

Γ 7 Ί 0 - 1 - 1 - 0

H i p 0.01-0.1

| l <0.01

D a t a f r o m B u t e m e n t et al. 1 9 5 8

FIGURE 8.3.5

The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Buffalo 3 Test. The contours show the total amount of radioactivity recorded by the sticky paper collectors. The squares show the locations of the fallout stations.

Buffalo 3




J 0 . 1 - 1 . 0

_ } 0 .01 - 0.1


Data from Butement 1958

8.3.22 A ground survey was carried out by the Canadian

Radiation Detection Unit (CRDU) to a distance of about 15 miles (24 km) from Ground Zero and a helicopter was used to survey much the same area. The fallout pattern showed that the cloud moved to the east from Ground Zero. The maximum dose rate at a

distance of 15 miles was about 250 mr/h at H+24 hours [RC 244, T51/57] .

8.3.23 The ARDU established sticky paper samplers along the section of the North-South road that straddled the fallout p l u m e . The highest levels of fallout were at Ingomar and 15 miles south of Goober Pedy where 2 and 1.2 mCi/m2 (at H+l) , respectively,

were collected. The fallout on Ingomar was 40 per cent of

Level A ‘ for Aborigines. Ingomar is about 190 miles (304 km) from Ground Zero. If the fallout was 40 per cent of Level A' at Ingomar, it probably exceeded Level A' at distances about 100 miles (160 km) from Ground Zero.

8.3.24 Unfortunately, the radio-altimeter on the Varsity aircraft broke down so no results for the level of fallout were obtained from the air survey [RC 244, T51/57]. The only

information now available from the aerial survey is the limit of measurable fallout and this shows that the fallout plume was to the east of Ground Zero and passed to the south of Goober Pedy. Clearly the fallout did fall over many of the same places that

received fallout exceeding Level A from the first Buffalo round at One Tree.

8.3.25 As previously mentioned, prior to the firing of this round the Theoretical Predictions Group predicted that the fallout would exceed Level A to a distance of 126 statute miles (201 km) on a bearing of 068 degrees. The prediction, combined with the observed fallout at Ingomar, and the extent of the plume

strongly suggests that some locations beyond 100 miles (160 km) did receive fallout exceeding Level A 1 from both the first and last rounds of the Buffalo series, in breach of the no overlap condition for firing that was approved by the Australian


8.3.26 The sticky paper samples showed that some of the cloud travelled north and crossed the coast near Darwin (Figure 8.3.6). Fallout activity was detected in the broad area from Darwin to Newcastle. The highest fallout was measured at Birdsville, Marree, Roma and Charlevilie and corresponded to whole body gamma

doses of 8 or 9 mr [RC 547, Butement et al. 1958].

8.3.27 The Breakaway test was the only one for which the

Safety Committee found significant activity in its rainwater samples. Rainwater collected at Brisbane on 24 October, and at Oodnadatta on 26 October, had activities of 200 pCi/mL, which are much greater than any other rainwater sample for the series

[RC 547, Butement et al. 1958]. Butement et al. calculated that if this rain, which was only light, had been used for drinking water for a week it would have caused a maximum dose of 0.2 r.


□ □□□■

FIGURE 8.3.6

The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Buffalo 4 Test. The contours show the total amount of radioactivity recorded by the sticky paper collectors. The squares show the locations of the fallout stations.

At? Buffalo 4




0 .1- 1.0

0 .01- 0.1


D a t a f r o m B u t e m e n t 1958

Radioiodine Survey

8.3.28 Fallout from the Buffalo tests produced a large

increase in the levels of iodine-131 in the thyroids of sheep and cattle in central and eastern Australia [Marston 1958]. There was a disagreement about the significance of the measured increase. Marston argued that the increase indicated a major hazard from strontium-90 and other radioisotopes, and the Safety Committee argued that the iodine levels were not of significance

and that one could not extrapolate from the iodine levels to other radioisotopes. This controversy is discussed in Section 11.5.



(a) The Buffalo round 1 (One Tree) was fired at a time when the fallout was predicted to violate the firing conditions that had been proposed by the Safety Committee and agreed to by the Government. Measurements after the Buffalo round 1 confirmed

that fallout exceeded Level A at locations beyond Coober Pedy and exceeded the Level B for nomadic people where Aborigines could be expected to be living.

(b) Round 2 (Marcoo) was fired in conditions which violated the firing criterion that there should be no forecast of rain except in areas remote (interpreted as 500 miles) from Ground Zero. Rain was forecast within 250 miles and actually fell within 100 miles of Ground Zero.

(c ) Round 3 (Kite) was fired under conditions which led to the contamination of the Maralinga Village. Although, in the event, the contamination was minor, it should not have been fired under the conditions prevailing at the time.

(d) Round 4 (Breakaway) was fired under conditions for

which the fallout was predicted to exceed Level A beyond a distance of 100 miles and into the inhabited region. In

addition, the condition that there should be no overlap of fallout exceeding the Level A fallout at distances more than 100 miles from the site was violated.

8.4 Safety of Aborigines

The Maralinga Site

8.4.1 After the decision was taken to use Emu for the Totem series, but before the Totem explosions took place, it was


realised that Emu was inadequate for a permanent test site. In July 1953, a search for such a site was ordered by the UK

Government [RC 819, p.231].

8.4.2 A reconnaissance south-west of Emu was undertaken in October 1953 and a site 37 miles (109 km) north of Ooldea was selected as having the necessary potential. Penney and Butement were flown in to inspect the site five days after Totem 1 and their opinions were tape-recorded [RC 819, pp.285-9].

8.4.3 Penney described the area as

'...a first class site. It would give us all that we wanted for many years to come and I see no difficulty in testing 20 or more weapons here.1 [RC 819, p.285]

8.4.4 Penney raised the 'position about aboriginals' with Butement who stated

'There was a mission at Ooldea, or just a little north of Ooldea, but this has now been abandoned, and I am given to understand that this area is no longer used for aborigines. There was a track from Ooldea up to

the north through the area roughly where Emu now is, and further north, but here again I understand that this is not now used, except by one or two elderly

blacks, and on rare occasions, and that there is no need whatever for aborigines to use any part of this country around the proposed area. The main aboriginal reserve to the north is well away from this area and

should not provide any sort of problem. ' [RC 819, pp.287-8]

8.4.5 It is difficult to see how Butement could have made such a categorical and complacent assertion since no surveys had at this time been undertaken of Aboriginal people, their movements, sites and paths around Maralinga. That it was

unfortunately wrong was demonstrated when a family of Aborigines used the very route mentioned to walk in to a contaminated area in 1957 (see para.8.4.85).

8.4.6 MacDougall was not as presumptuous as Butement in this regard and, having admitted that the number, locations and significance of ceremonial grounds were 'unknown' to him [RC 819, p.314], he requested that he spend time with former Ooldea residents to gain an idea of their possible movements [RC 819, p.318]. His reports from 1954 onwards contained information which showed that Aboriginal people did use the area and

frequently moved around its edges to attend ceremonies at, for example, Lake Phillipson and Cundeelee.

8.4.7 Formalisation of the Maralinga tests required that the Ooldea Reserve be revoked. The Prime Minister, regarding it as the 'abandoned' reserve, wrote to Playford, the South Australian

3 00

Premier about its revocation on 25 November 1953 [RC 819] and MacDougall the next day urged that this be carried out because he feared that Ooldea still held ceremonial attraction for people [RC 819, p.314]. Work parties making roads and searching for

water also needed access through the Reserve [RC 819, p.320] and after MacDougall reported to the Aborigines Protection Board ' justifiable reason for retaining Reserve as such...' [RC 819, p.339], the Ooldea Reserve was formally revoked on

9 December 1954 [RC 819, p.421].

Further Restrictions

8.4.8 What was not realised by MacDougall was that neither the revocation of the Reserve nor his own planned actions towards doing so would destroy the viability and dynamism of the traditional culture of the former Ooldea people. Like many other Aboriginal people affected by the nuclear tests, their spiritual

links with their lands and sites remain intact today.

8.4.9 Nevertheless, MacDougall tried. Before setting out on the 1954 patrol, on which he concluded that there was 'no justifiable reason for retaining Reserve...' [RC 819, p.339], he planned to check Yalata for potential 'new ceremonial areas and

to encourage the establishment of such areas' [RC 819, p.318]. He then set out on the patrol accompanied by some of the men at Yalata and visited Ooldea and sites north and west of it. MacDougall's aim was for sacred objects which had been left behind to be removed and transported to Yalata. Satisfying himself that the areas visited had been ‘cleaned up', and that

'no practical or ceremonial benefit remains on the Ooldea Reserve' [RC 819, p.339], he made his conclusion to Bartlett.

Aboriginal Movements * 1

8.4.10 MacDougall's basic assumption was incorrect: removing sacred objects did not change Ooldea's status as a birth, death and dreaming site. Nor could this overcome the problem (for MacDougall) of people wanting to use Ooldea as a stepping-off point for sites to the north and west, or of people wanting to

visit Ooldea from the north.

8.4.11 There is considerable evidence in the Aboriginal Collation [RC 819] of large and small-scale movements of people over great distances between 1953 and 1956. A report dated 1 July 1953 states that 54 people walked from Yalata to Cundeelee

[RC 819, p.187]. In January 1954, three groups of people walked to Ooldea siding en route to destinations east and west [RC 819, p.336]. In October/November 1954, 150 people visited Ooldea and about 60 of them went on to Coober Pedy. They stayed there until May 1955 when MacDougall cut their rations to disperse them, and


prevented men travelling overland via Lake Phillipson, Panthanne and Tietkens Well [RC 819, p.437]. A witness, Alice Cox, who gave evidence at Maralinga said that she recalled MacDougall ordering people back to Yalata from Goober Pedy, causing them to miss the ceremonies in which they had come so far to participate

[Trans. , p.7270] .

8.4.12 In August 1955, 100 people were reported to have

assembled at Ooldea siding, waiting for Western Australian people to arrive before proceeding to Tarcoola, Anna Creek and Marree [RC 819, p.512]. Two months later there were 80 people at Ooldea siding en route to Zanthus [RC 819, p.527]. The South Australian Aborigines Protection Board, and MacDougall, were concerned about

the considerable movement out of Yalata in November that year [RC 819, p.680].

8.4.13 Aborigines visited Yalata in May 1956, 90 people coming from Coober Pedy and others from Granite Downs and Mabel Creek [RC 819, p. 680]. The Coober Pedy people returned home in July [RC 819, p.743]. Yalata people reciprocated this visit in September 1956 [RC 819, p.894]. A month before this, over

100 Yalata people were prevented from accompanying a youth to be initiated in Western Australia [RC 819, p.888].

8.4.14 Obviously, ceremonies and the large-scale movements of participants continued. The Aboriginal Collation also records incursions into the vicinity of Maralinga. In February 1954, MacDougall reported that people had walked from the north-west to

Ooldea six months previously and, finding the mission abandoned, had walked back home [RC 819, p. 341]. Aborigines with camels visited Tietkens Well in about December 1953 [RC 819, p.318]. North-south movement was reported in April 1955 [RC 819, p.433].

Passengers on the east-west train saw Aborigines between Ooldea and Watson in March 1956 [RC 819, p.627] and the Milpuddie family walked into the Marcoo site in May 1957.

8.4.15 Although MacDougall felt that he had the former Ooldea people at Yalata under control he also realised the need for extensive patrols over much of the areas likely to be affected by the nuclear tests and by WRE activities. His views were, as before, not always shared by those responsible for these

activities and the seeds of conflict sown earlier came to fruition as planning for the atomic explosions progressed.

8.4.16 In April 1954, MacDougall wrote to Newman, the

Superintendent at Woomera, that there was

'Need for thorough investigation of areas occupied and thought to be occupied by aborigines in South Australia which will be, and are likely to be, used by L.R.W.E. activity.

'It is essential that such a survey should not be hurried. Last year I was able to rush through patrols of the area concerned and make a confident report


because I knew a large portion of the country and 50% or more of the native people.

1 It is important that any nomadic occupation of prohibited areas should be well known to me, so that any measures considered necessary for the safety and well-being of the aboriginal people can be taken with


' I believe a survey of the North-Western portion of South Australia from the East-West Line to the Northern Territory border will be necessary as the range develops. I consider that now is the time to commence

such a survey.1 [RC 819, p.367]

8.4.17 For the next year, however, MacDougall's patrols were mostly around the immediate Maralinga area, partly to control the movements of the ex-Ooldea people [RC 819, pp.419-20, 465-8].

Then his conflicts with authorities began to emerge more fully into the open. An examination of these conflicts throws light on the attitudes of the UK and Australian officials to the issue of Aboriginal safety and the nuclear tests.

Giles Meteorological Station

8.4.18 In July 1955, British scientists decided that, with a need for reliable meteorological forecasting for the Maralinga tests, a meteorological station should be established north and west of the test site [RC 819, p.464]. Penney and Dwyer, using Garden's 1951 ’Centre Line Reconnaissance Study1, decided that

this should be 600 miles (960 km) up the centre line. They required that the station be functioning 1 as soon as possible' and the AWTSC agreed [RC 819, p.464].

8.4.19 In September 1955, MacDougall learned of plans to search the Rawlinson Range for the final site from T Nossiter, Senior Range Reconnaissance Officer for the WRE. Nossiter proposed that his reconnaissance would take only a short time

[RC 819, pp.489, 491].

8.4.20 Little was known about Aboriginal people in the

vicinity of the proposed site when the decision was taken to establish the meteorological station. The Western Australian estimates of the numbers of 1 nomadic natives beyond the confines

of civilisation1 were at best guesses [RC 819, p.461] and in 1951, for example, the Commissioner for Native Affairs, S Middleton could only 1 speculate1 on the numbers and needs of 1 the Aborigines who are said to be living1 in the area of the proposed range trajectory. In his view,

'... in the absence of any specific knowledge of his functioning, it is the responsibility of the Patrol

Officer attached to the Woomera Rocket Range project to


ascertain what natives, if any, are living in the Range area and to make suitable arrangements for their evacuation.1 [RC 819, p .95]

8.4.21 However, when the decision was taken to establish the meteorological station, the WRE had not appointed a native patrol officer (NPO) for the Western Australian section of the Range and MacDougall had not yet patrolled there. Yet, despite

MacDougall's 1954 warning about the need to base decisions on accurate information which took time to collect, and despite the fact that he warned of 1 shy primitive Aborigines' occupying the area, Nossiter planned to push ahead with his reconnaissance for a permanent and final site.

8.4.22 MacDougall was alarmed at the proposed location for the station. Quite correctly, he saw that the station personnel would intrude into the lives of the Aboriginal people and that construction of the necessary road to the station would allow

further intrusion by other non-Aborigines, especially miners.

8.4.23 MacDougall wrote to Middleton in Perth and Newman at Woomera stating in strong terms that any location for a

meteorological station should be outside the Reserve [RC 819, pp.518-19, 525-6]. He enlisted Newman's support and approached the WRE Controller, H J Brown, to lodge further protests. Brown in turn conveyed MacDougall's sentiments to the WRE's Chief

Scientist, W Butement, pointing out that there did appear to be a discrepancy between the decision to establish the post and

'...the original agreement on Aborigines

Protection... that we would not construct roads in Aboriginal Reserve or interfere with areas of

importance to tribal life, etc.' [RC 819, p .512]

8.4.24 Brown's support for MacDougall's objections quickly disappeared when he found out that the Patrol Officer was planning to make his position known through an article in the Adelaide press. Although MacDougall was attempting to place most

of the blame for invasion of the Reserve on miners and

pastoralists, WRE were obviously not going to brook any criticism of its activities. Brown stopped transmission of MacDougall's letter to Middleton, dismissed his protests as 'making quite a fuss', reminded him of 'his obligations as a Commonwealth Officer' and warned him against speaking to the press [RC 819, pp.553-4, 557-8]. Brown was supported by the Secretary of the

Department of Supply and, on 4 November 1955, MacDougall was formally directed to make statements only through the Controller at Woomera.

8.4.25 As it happened, Middleton was also unsympathetic to MacDougall's ideas. In early November 1955, he had discussions with Nossiter and F O'Grady who explained that the Western Australian policy was 'to assimilate the natives into the white

man's way of living as quickly as possible' [RC 819, p.582].


8.4.26 Writing to Butement about Middleton, Brown said

'He stated that should this Establishment ultimately desire to use part of the reserve he would recommend to the Minister that a suitable area of land be excised to meet this Establishment's needs. He could see no

objection of any kind to the proposed use of land in the reserve for such a purpose as a meteorological station. In the case of other possible needs along the centre line and finally along the North West coast, he

indicated that a similar policy would apply. The Government of Western Australia would be most unlikely to raise any objections to this Establishment setting up works of any kind in an aboriginal reserve should

such sites be found desirable for technical and similar reasons.‘ [RC 819, p.583]

8.4.27 Brown went on to point out that what Middleton had in mind for Western Australia 'is quite different from the policy of the SA Government as it has been interpreted to us in recent times by Mr W B MacDougall, Native Patrol Officer' [RC 819,

p.583]. Medical certificates and character references would not be required from white personnel entering reserves, and the WA Government favoured the construction of roads and similar public

works rather than discouraging them [RC 819, p.584]. Rubbing salt into MacDougall's wounds, WRE had the Western Australian Government appoint Nossiter as a Superintendent of Native Affairs, giving him the power to 'permit entry of any other persons required to enter the reserve for any purpose of this

Establishment' [RC 819, p.583].

8.4.28 MacDougall's initial threats to go to the press appear to have been mainly prompted by his patrol into the Raw 1 i nson Range with Nossiter in September 1955. After he was officially 'silenced', he was allowed to accompany Nossiter and his party on a further reconnaissance in December. He again came into

conflict with WRE authorities, apparently because he had again shown a strong concern for the safety and welfare of Abo rigines, whereas the WRE gave them a very low priority.

8.4.29 It is clear from the notes of V J Bahr, for example, that firm decisions on the completion of the meteorological station had been made before this patrol was undertaken. On 17 November 1955, he recorded

'...the completion of buildings was 1/5/56 and for

commencement of observations was 1/8/56 - that in my

view, deferment of the recco until the end of January

would mean that the necessary plans and specifications would not be completed before the end of February, and

that there would be little possibility of meeting the

target dates agreed u p o n . ' [RC 819, p p .574-5]


8.4.30 Bahr, the Meteorology Branch representative, appears to have had little knowledge of, or interest in, policy towards Aborigines or Aboriginal feeling towards the land. He suggested before the December patrol that Aborigines might provide a source of labour for the station [RC 819, p.573] and he is reported by MacDougall as stating 1 that it was intended to interest and encourage personnel to prospect as a hobby thus further invading country reserved for Aborigines' [RC 819, p.596].

8.4.31 The December patrol appears to have angered MacDougall at least as much as the September patrol. He wrote

‘This so called reconnaissance was a rush a pre-selected spot...There was no attempt to select a site that would interfere as little as possible with Aborigines occupying the Rawlinson Range...The actions and attitude of the reconnaissance party also shows

that there is no intention of fulfilling or seriously regarding the promises made by the Commonwealth of the Peoples of Australia. .. If existing measures necessary for the protection and welfare of Aborigines are obsolete...please publish the fact so that new measures can be taken, and organizations function smoothly and without false pretences.' [RC 819, pp.594-6]

8.4.32 The report from which these extracts are taken was sent to Newman at Woomera. MacDougall expressed similar sentiments to Middleton [RC 819, pp.599-600], objected to Nossiter's appointment as WA Superintendent in a letter to Brown [RC 819, pp.610-11] and wrote of his general dismay of the Aboriginal

situation to Bartlett [RC 819, pp.612-13].

Fallout Monitoring Track

8.4.33 Obviously, MacDougall was not a man to be silenced on the issue of Aboriginal welfare. His threat to go public must have been recalled by Butement and Brown in March 1956 when it was known that Saxby had developed an extensive system for mobile monitoring of the forthcoming Buffalo tests. This involved a decision to build a track running north-west from Emu into the

Reserve [RC 819, pp.622, 630-1, 642-3]. As O'Grady pointed out, this would 'appear to violate the spirit of the Ministerial Statement' which had said that '...we would not be constructing roads in aboriginal reserves although we would be dragging equip, across country and setting up observation posts etc. ' [RC 819, p.630]. There was also the implication that since monitoring was

to take place in the Reserve, the Reserve obviously might receive some degree of contamination [RC 819, pp.631, 645].

8.4.34 MacDougall was not consulted about the effect of the track on Aboriginal people. However, Brown was obviously concerned at what MacDougall would do when he found out. He wrote to Butement on 7 March 1955:


‘As there is the question of radio activity inherent in this work, it is obvious that any objections

Mr. MeDougall [sic] has already raised concerning the northern access track will be raised again as soon as he becomes aware of this new proposal. 1 [RC 819, p.634]

8.4.35 Brown's main concern in this letter appears to be that MacDougall's stated objections to the meteorological station and his assumed reaction to the monitoring track, would result in adverse publicity for the Maralinga nuclear tests. Brown pointed

out that MacDougall was not supported by the Western Australian Department of Native Affairs and that

'...we must be guided entirely by the expert advice of the State Government Department which is charged with the responsibility of looking after aborigines throughout the state.' [RC 819, p.633]

8.4.36 He further stressed that the South Australian Protector of Aborigines did not support MacDougall's views. He gave a strong warning about MacDougall that

‘ ... it is clear that in his present frame of mind, he is likely to take some extreme step to draw public attention to what he regards as a breach of promises made by the Minister for Defence in his statement to

the House in 1946, dealing with the Long Range Weapons Project.' [RC 819, p.632]

8.4.37 Butement replied with a strong personal and

professional attack on MacDougall. In his evidence to the Royal Commission, Butement agreed with Mr Barnes that '...anything that went out under your signature was carefully thought about?' and ' . . .you would be confident because of the way you ran your

department that if you put your name to something that would have been after careful thought?' [Trans., p.2848]. It is useful, therefore, to quote in full some extracts from Butement' s reply to Brown because these two letters show what MacDougall was up against in his attempts to prevent intrusion into the Aboriginal

lands of the Rawlinson Ranges:

'In the first place, Mr. MeDougall is not concerned with policy matters: these are the responsibility of more senior officers, and Mr. MeDougall‘s duties are to ensure that any extension of W.R.E. activities is

carried out in such a way that the impact of any

aborigines in an area involved in such an extension, is kept to a minimum. To this end he should accompany reconnoitring or other parties going into areas where aborigines may be expected to be encountered. This

duty, and this duty only, is Mr. MeDougall' s concern, and we look to him for advice and guidance in this particular aspect.


' The setting up of the Maralinga meteorological station is no concern of Mr. MeDougall' s, and the necessary arrangements have been quite properly made between your headquarters and the Western Australian Department of Native Affairs.

'So far as any publicity likely to arise from

Mr. MeDougall1s views is concerned, he should be made aware of his duty as a servant of the Commonwealth, and informed categorically that public servants are not permitted to make statements to the Press.

'The joint project has been agreed between two

Governments, and is concerned with defensive measures which will apply to the British Commonwealth of Nations. Similar considerations exist in respect of atomic tests which Australia has agreed shall be

carried out by the United Kingdom in this country. These decisions having been taken on a very high level, it behoves all of us to implement them with the least possible upset to any existing economy in the territory concerned, whether it be aboriginal or pastoral. To

this end, and this end only, will Mr. MeDougall1 s services be utilised.

1 The mere fact that Mr. MeDougall' s views conflict so strongly with those of the Natives Affairs Departments of both South and Western Australia indicates how much he is out of step with current opinion, and the sooner he realises his loyalty is to the Department which

employs him, and which is glad to take advice from him on matters on which he is an expert, the sooner his state of mind will be clarified, and he will be enabled to carry out his duties without any sense of

frustration or disappointment, as is evident in your assessment.

1 There are doubtless many tasks upon which

Mr. MeDougall's services can be more profitably engaged than in debating whether or not the policy enumerated by the Minister for Defence in 1946 is being correctly interpreted, and I suggest that, if you have not

already determined to do so, Mr. MeDougall might be instructed to get on with the job within his sphere of activity, and leave policy matters to those whose

responsibility they are.' [RC 819, pp.647-8]

8.4.38 This 'carefully thought about1 letter also contains one of the most telling of all statements to come before the Royal Commission. Although Butement acknowledged that MacDougall had a 1 sincere desire to protect the welfare of aborigines', he wrote

'Your memorandum discloses a lamentable lack of balance in Mr. MeDougall' s outlook, in that he is apparently

3 08

placing the affairs of a handful of natives above those of the British Commonwealth of Nations.' [RC 819, p.647]

8.4.39 Clearly nothing, and certainly no 'handful of natives' was going to stand in the way of what Butement saw as necessary preparations for the British nuclear tests.

A Handful of Natives

8.4.40 As it happened, MacDougall did not go public but

concentrated instead on the surveys of the Rawlinson Range which he saw as so necessary [RC 819, p. 641]. He appealed for all installations and bores servicing the meteorological station to be built south, not north, of the Rawlinson Range [RC 819,

pp. 671, 673, 677, 688-9] but his requests were ignored, the station was built at Giles, and he was censured by Brown for raising what the latter said were 'policy matters' [RC 819, p.689].

8.4.41 MacDougall made patrols throughout the Rawlinson Range from April and by August had documented Butement's 'handful of natives' to be more than 100 around Giles with, he believed, a significant number remaining uncontacted further to the north.

8.4.42 The 'affairs of the handful of natives' became an increasing source of irritation to the officers at Giles and WRE. Newman complained to Brown that they were ' a menace to health‘ [RC 819, p.688] and

'For reasons of the health of the white men and safety of equipment, alone, it is recommended that blacks be kept to the north and whites to the south of the

Rawlinson Ranges.' [RC 819, p.686]

Brown ordered MacDougall to 'discourage presence of Aborigines in the vicinity' [RC 819, p.699]. Butement, perhaps not

surprisingly, wrote

'I am rather disturbed at a report I have just received verbally from Mr. L. J. Dwyer, Director of Meteorology, concerning the Desert Meteorological Station.

' One of his officers has just returned after having spent a day or so at the site and reports that there are 20 or more natives in the area which are becoming rather a nuisance, and apparently are not being discouraged from remaining in the area. ' [RC 819, p.725]

8.4.43 Butement was opposed to MacDougall giving food to the Aborigines and said that the Patrol Officer's duty should be to do everything possible to keep them out of the area.


8.4.44 But it was not the meteorological officers or the Giles station which suffered. It was, as MacDougall had predicted, the Aboriginal people and one is confronted with a sense of tragic irony when reading the Native Patrol Officer's reports.

8.4.45 In his report of the 1 reconnaissance' of December 1955, for example, MacDougall describes his meeting with one group of Aboriginals and, in particular, how

1 ... an elderly man appeared and told me he had nothing that I would want and that he had only a woomera and one spear which he showed me and then placed on one side then he advanced slowly lifting his feet high so

that I could see that he was not dragging a spear held between his toes.

1 The old man enquired for what purpose the strangers had visited his country and expressed anxiety when told that they intended establishing a post. The word used means fear (I have not a word for troubled or anxious but I gathered that he was more than just afraid. That he was worried or concerned.).1 [RC 819, p.595]

8.4.46 MacDougall wrote of this group again in the report of his Apri1-July 1956 patrol, beginning with

1 There was evidence that the group seen at Sladen Waters last December had remained in the area for some months.' [RC 819, p.760]

But as this patrol progressed through May, he discovered that 'On my return to Giles I found many of the aborigines very sick with a chesty cold' [RC 819, p. 761]. He later wrote 'Six were very ill and I started hot cocoa and eucalyptus again‘ [RC 819, p.762]. By June he found that

'On my return to Giles I found six more people very sick. A group had returned from a trip to the north. They were all mourning...

' I believe the very bad colds were caught from the white men in the area and I think it is the old man, first seen at Sladen Waters, who has died. ' [RC 819, p.762]

8.4.47 The entire chapter of events concerning the

establishment of the Giles meteorological station and construction of the track for monitoring fallout is essential for understanding the measures taken to ensure safety of Aborigines during the Buffalo tests. The only Native Patrol Officer to be appointed knew far more about Aborigines than anyone from the WRE and he, MacDougall, was the one who appreciated and stressed the need for more and better information. The decision-makers at the


WRE, the objective scientists and the policy-makers, knew little about Aborigines but this was not going to stop them preparing for the tests.

8.4.48 Officials of the WRE withheld information from

MacDougall, they tried to silence him, and they discredited him. Such was the relationship between the one person who knew about Aborigines and was concerned with their welfare and those whose main concerns were for the nuclear test program and the British

Commonwealth of Nations. It was in this environment of

uncertainty and conflict that MacDougall had to conduct his patrols during the Operation Buffalo tests.

A Second Patrol Officer

8.4.49 The complement of Native Patrol Officers was doubled for the tests, with the appointment of a second NPO. This NPO was R A Macaulay who was initially posted to the Giles

meteorological station where, among his duties, he was * 1 to take measures as you deem practicable and necessary to prevent any natives suffering physical harm from scientific tests’ [RC 819, p.765]. Macaulay, aged 23, was a new graduate from the

University of Sydney with no experience of Central Australia nor of the Aborigines. On his own admission, 11 had virtually not been outside of Sydney' [Trans., p.1587]. Newman wrote of him after the tests

1...his practical knowledge of Aboriginal languages and tribal customs is almost nil, and his ignorance of bushmanship make it inadvisable that he should patrol by himself until he has gained a lot more experience.'

[RC 819, p.1077]

8.4.50 Macaulay arrived at Giles on 31 August 1956. The first Buffalo shot was scheduled for 10 September 19561

8.4.51 Even more incredibly, it was reported to Newman on 10 September that

'It now transpires that AWRE sent patrol officer Macaulay to Giles without transport or radio and that there is no vehicle fitted with radio which he can borrow there.

'He therefore has been, and still is, unable to carry out Superintendent Woomera's instructions and no guarantee can be given that natives have not moved, or are not moving, out of the area for which he is

responsible.' [RC 819, p.940]


Inadequate Data Collection

8.4.52 Considering that a number of scientists were involved in making decisions which had the potential to affect the lives of Aboriginal people, the reliance which they placed on incomplete, imprecise and ultimately inaccurate information about the location of Aborigines is disturbing.

8.4.53 The AWTSC used Map No. 55/14B as its basic reference on Aboriginal location [RC 819, pp.680, 775]. This map was compiled by the South Australian Mines Department and was seriously deficient in its notations of Aboriginal populations. Nevertheless, it was supplied to Cabinet in the AWTSC1s report on

1 The Aboriginal Problem' as part of the general report 'Problems of Safety Conditions at the Maralinga Test Series'. This report was submitted on 13 August 1956. The map had been in the hands of the UK and the Australian Department of Supply for 1 some time1 before 9 May 1956, but apparently no notice had been taken of the

information which it contained [RC 819, p.680].

8.4.54 The population information given on Map 55/14B was regarded by Brown, and apparently accepted by Butement (as a member of the AWTSC), as being 'as accurate as available at the present time' [RC 819, p.680]. Brown's comment was made on

9 May 1956. However, MacDougall's patrols before three years had established regular movement of people from the Everard Range west towards Mt Lindsay, well beyond the 'Limit of Native Population' marked on Map 55/14B [RC 819, pp. 176-83, 271, 1310,


8.4.55 Similarly, the line on the map marked 'Approximate Limit of Southward Movement of Nomadic Tribes' is not consistent with MacDougall‘s reports to that date nor with his later reports [RC 819, pp.1338-40, 1641].

8.4.56 MacDougall supplied information to Security Officer K Lawrence on 1 September 1956 on the location of Aborigines in the quadrant 360 degrees to 90 degrees, centred on Maralinga. To the numbers which the AWTSC had used in its report to Cabinet was added another 300 people at Mulga Park. Even more disturbing,

though, is that the map used by the AWTSC shows Wallatinna, the scene of the Black Mist incident, as 'vacant'.

8.4.57 The AWTSC's report to Cabinet on 13 August 1956 was based on an appalling paucity of information. Even worse, as late as 3 September, Butement cabled Newman urgently stating that they needed knowledge of

‘...actual native and half caste population in northern rectancle [sic] of Mabel Creek property in

Mt. Willoughby and Wintinna areas and in area marked vacant to north west of Mt. Willoughby on Mines Dept. Map 55-14B. We also wish to know living conditins [sic] that is whether or not they are clothed and sleep on open ground.' [RC 819, p.892]


8.4.58 This was seven days before the proposed firing of the first Buffalo explosion. Newman had difficulty in providing the urgently sought information. He did not have Map 55/14B and he could not define the limits of the 'vacant' area. He also stated that

'...our census last year showed no aboriginals or half castes on Mabel Creek, Mt. Willoughby or Wintinna Stations.' [RC 819, p.893]

Cynicism Rampant

8.4.59 Six days before it was planned to fire the first of the Buffalo rounds, Nossiter cabled Butement about a party of 90 Aborigines who had arrived at Coober Pedy from Yalata [RC 819, p.894]. They were waiting for a group from the north-west whom

they would join near Mt Penrhyn for a corroboree [RC 819, p.913]. After also informing Butement that Wallatinna, far from being 1 vacant' was occupied by 31 Aborigines who were b a r eheaded, barefooted and in various states of nakedness, Nossiter stated

1 Bartlett anticipates enquiries from newspapers re precautions taken and suggests MacDougal [sic] patrol track to mobile met station and he will make available an officer of his department to patrol area mentioned

in your signal if vehicle and driver supplied by

W.R.E.' [RC 819, p.894]

These, however, were not considerations related to Aboriginal safety:

1 These are only suggestions for your consideration and are chiefly offered to cover his department.* 1 [RC 819, p.894]

8.4.60 On 5 September, Bartlett's offer to supply an officer was accepted and, on the following day, B L Smith arrived at Woomera.

8.4.61 The almost unbelievable inexperience of Smith appears to have been matched only by that of Macaulay. At least Macaulay had a six-days start 1 Writing of Smith the day after he arrived, Mr Jay, the Patrols Co-ordinator, wrote

'...he informs me:-' (A) that he has no experience of dealing with


'(B) that he has no knowledge of the roads, tracks, or country north of Port Augusta... I am reluctant to send him out on patrol either by himself or as a millstone

around somebody's neck.' [RC 819, p.928]


8.4.62 But experience, or lack of it, was all beside the point for, as Mr Brookman cabled to Newman:

'...I know that Bartlett of the Aborigines Dept is well aware that Smith is not experienced in the

matters... you mention.

1 His main object [in] sending Mr Smith up was to enable him to say [truthfully] to the press and to his

Minister that he had an officer of his Department in the area. I think we should do all we can to assist Bartlett in that respect, even if we only arrange for Smith to stay at some locality within the areas under consideration.1 [RC 819, p.930]

8.4.63 Even Newman found this 'form of hypocrisy1 too much, as did MacDougall and Jay. The day before the test was due, Smith was sent to Mt Penrhyn where he was to remain until after the first explosion, 1 contributing nothing to the operation' [RC 819, p. 941]. Newman added

1 For subsequent explosions I intend to retain Mr. Smith at Woomera where he will see all reports from the field, all instructions from Maralinga, and the evidence of such instructions having been carried out. He will then, at least, be in a position to inform Mr. Bartlett of what occurred, and Mr. Bartlett will not need to attempt to put a form of confidence trick over the press or his Ministers.1 [RC 819, p.942]

Where is Macaulay?

8.4.64 The first Buffalo explosion was planned for

10 September 1956, but for the reasons outlined above it was postponed for 17 days. In terms of Macaulay's task of ensuring Aboriginal safety this must be seen as fortuitous.

8.4.65 It has already been noted that Macaulay was sent to Giles without a vehicle or radio. He eventually borrowed a vehicle and journeyed south of the Ernabella Mission [Trans., p. 1588]. This patrol did not begin until 12 September. His own vehicle was not to be ready for 1 about two weeks' [RC 819, p.958].

8.4.66 The borrowed vehicle did not have a radio and for most of the patrol Macaulay was largely out of contact with those to whom he should have been reporting. The Aboriginal Collation [RC 819] records the following communications:

14th September, from Jay to Mulga Park Outpost: 'Please advise whereabouts of MacCauley if known. Request him to contact Woomera.' [p.967]


17th September, from Macaulay to Jay: 'Have no radio. Suggest you leave signals for me at Mulga Park.' [p.973]

17th September, from Nossiter to Newman: 'Report from Beadell states Macauley is with Appleton.' [p.975]

19th September, from Jay to Penney: 'Macaulay was reported yesterday between Musgrove Ranges and Mt. Davies destined for St. Agnes. He has no radio until his vehicle is forwarded to him in approximately one and a half weeks time.' [p.976]

19th September, from Lawrence to Penney: 'Macauley is at Mt. Davies. MacDougall will try and contact by radio this morning.' [p.983]

24th September, from Jay to Lawrence: 'Every endeavour is being made to contact Macauley who has not reported in since Thursday last.' Cp.997]

24th September, from Jay to Laine: 'Please advise whereabouts of Macauley if known...' [p.999]

24th September, from Jay to Trudinger: 'Do you know whereabouts of MacCauley. Please advise...' [p.999]

24th September, from Laine to Jay: 'McCalley last seen Saturday headed for Ernabella from Mount Davies.' [p.998]

25th September, from Jay to Penney: 'Alice Springs Flying Doctor radio reported Macauley left Ernabella 1600 hours Sunday last bound for Giles.' [p.1004]

25th September, from Maralinga to Rocran: 'Reference your signal to Macauley. Unable to pass restricted traffic to Giles via R/T link. Advise.' [p.1005]

25th September, from Maralinga to Rocran: 'We have try [sic] to pass yr WM5/25 RS6478 but am unable as

Macauley' s radio is U/S and it will be that way until his new vehicle is available to him.‘ [p.1006]

25 th September, from Jay to Keith: ' Has Macauley Native Patrol Officer based on Giles Met Station been allocated a VL5BW call sign please. If not will you please give him one and advise.' [p.1008]

25th September, from Maralinga to O.I.C. Giles: 'Macaulay Native Patrol OFR allocated call sign VL5BW16 in lieu of VL5BW15 in error... please advise Macaulay. ' [p.1009]


25th September, from Maralinga to Macaulay: 'It is imperative that you send daily reports when on

. reconnaissance. Until you get your radio you should send collect telegrams through the Flying Doctor Radio Network or when possible through Giles...' [p.1012]

8.4.67 On 27 September, the day that the first Buffalo test was fired, Macaulay cabled Woomera from Giles. The cable included the following:

'Unable to satisfy myself no natives south of mentioned line. Have not been there. Unable to penetrate

without own vehicle and radio. Hear none Mt. Harriot area. Regret unable to signal daily. Unaware I could use flying doctor system. Shall remain Giles until vehicle and instructions arrive.' [RC 819, p.1021]

8.4.68 The most charitable conclusion which can be drawn regarding the ground patrols for Buffalo is that they were chaotic. Macaulay, who in his evidence said he was given no briefing in relation to the tests [Trans., p.1590], was totally unprepared for his task, was placed in the field to cover

thousands of square miles in a vehicle which had to be borrowed, and was without a radio. The equally inexperienced Smith was about to be shanghaied to Woomera where he would not be ' a millstone around anyone's neck'. And MacDougall, who at least knew parts of the area and the Aboriginal people, had been the subject of vituperative attacks by WRE officials because he dared to defend the welfare and safety of a 'handful of natives'.

Buffalo Air Patrols

8.4.69 In his submission to Federal Cabinet on

3 September 1956, Beale wrote

'The Safety Committee point out that strict continuous ground and air patrols will ensure that there will be no natives inside the prohibited zone, but that there may be a very few in the area immediately outside the prohibited zone.' [RC 819, pp.877-8]

In its report to the Prime Minister after the Buffalo tests, the Safety Committee wrote

'During the trials period a continuous watch of the movements of the aborigines was kept by a Patrol Officer assisted by a number of motorised Native Affairs Officers, and effort was supplemented by an air

search before each test.' [RC 800, p.570007]

8.4.70 Beale's statement was based on his advice from the Safety Committee and his outline of what was planned is little


different from what the AWTSC wrote as the reality. Both

statements bear little relationship to the events that actually took place.

8.4.71 In the report on the air operations during Buffalo [RC 332], there is little evidence of continuous searches or of searches before each test. Reference is made to a creeping line ahead search by a Varsity aircraft on 10 September 1956 [RC 332, para.104]. This aircraft flew from Maralinga to Ooldea and then

north-east at an altitude of about 500 feet. The area covered was 3745 square miles.

8.4.72 There is no reference to search flights before rounds 2 and 3. For round 4, an undated flight by a Varsity is recorded which covered the area Maralinga, Ingomar, Welbourn Hill, Mabel Creek and then returned to Maralinga.

8.4.73 This section of the report was written by Group

Captain Menaul. It is an extremely detailed report of the air operations, test by test. It is unlikely that if search flights had been undertaken they would not have been recorded. The conclusion is that only two aerial searches were made, one

seventeen days before the first Buffalo firing and another close to the firing of the fourth bomb.

8.4.74 Menaul knew little of Aborigines and their habits, claiming, for example, that a single search prior to a test was adequate because Aborigines 1 sleep most of the afternoon1 [Trans., p.6989] and therefore would not move into a danger area overnight 1 His lack of understanding can be grouped with that of

Colonel Durance, the Range Commander, to whom the Chief Security Officer and those conducting air patrols had to report. Giving evidence of Aborigines in the spinifex, Durance said

‘They were sufficiently shy and could not be contacted but one of their traits - and it is in my statement - was they wakened in the mornings, as I was informed, early and were concerned with eagle spirits that would

enter them during the night. This could be offset by - a silly word to use when you are speaking of human beings - but offset by lighting the spinifex all around them and jumping in the smoke. Now they did light the

spinifex for what reasons really I would not know, and that this is what the planes were looking for at

night.1 [Trans., p.2412]

8.4.75 The transcript may be in error here as Durance wrote of 1 evil1 spirits in his statement [RC 125, p.7]. Nevertheless, either concept is ludicrous. Rather than leap into smoke from spinifex fires to ward off spirits, the Aboriginal people hid

from the aircraft in fear [Trans., pp.7222-3]. Henry Anderson told the Royal Commission of how the people would douse camp fires so as not to be discovered by the aircraft [Trans., p.7223].


8.4.76 Macaulay stated that he did not see any searching aircraft during his patrols for the Buffalo tests [Trans., pp.1629-30]. Saxby stated that the single flight of 10 September would not have been sufficient to ensure that Aborigines were not on the Range [Trans., p.6063].

8.4.77 Air patrols were not continuous nor is there any record that they were carried out before each Buffalo test. Patrols that were undertaken were not based on knowledge of Aboriginal movements and lifestyles. The air searches were not

comprehensive and, like the ground patrols, they were far from effective.

Sightings of Aborigines

8.4.78 Despite the inadequacies of the search procedures, there were sightings of Aboriginal people in locations which should have warned those in charge of the tests that the patrol system was flawed. However, the patrols were not made more effective, some sightings were disbelieved, and reports of others were discouraged.

8.4.79 Brigadier Hooton of the Indoctrinee Force gave evidence that about four days before the One Tree explosion he came across a group of about 24 Aborigines north-west of Maralinga. The people had been picked up by the driver of a station truck after

they had walked from a mission. Hooton reported this sighting, which occurred when he was not on a patrol, to a Range Safety Officer [RC 563, pp.8-9]. Brigadier Hooton told the Royal Commission that he saw the people about half-way between Maralinga and Lake Maurice [Trans., p.9069]. It is possible that

these were the same people seen by K Therkelsen prior to One Tree. At this time they were about two thirds of the way between Watson and Ceduna and travelling south by truck [Trans., p.1499].

8.4.80 T R Brindley, a member of the ARDU team, said other ARDU members had seen about 70 Aborigines travelling from north-west of Mabel Creek to south-west of Coober Pedy [Trans.,

pp.2128, 2170-3]. This incident may have occurred prior to One Tree. Brindley told the Royal Commission that Major Thompson told the ARDU members not to discuss this sighting with anyone

[Trans., p.2174].

8.4.81 F Smith, another ARDU member, was also discouraged from reporting Aboriginal movements. While Smith was based at Mt Wooltar1inna during the Buffalo series, he saw what he believed to be Aboriginal hunting fires south of the Aboriginal Reserve and probably in the prohibited zone [Trans., p.8583]. He

reported his sighting by radio to MacDougall who went to search for these people. Smith's radio report was 1 not only treated with hostility, it was treated with absolute disbelief1 [Trans., p.8594]. He was asked in response if he realised 'what sort of


damage [he] would be doing by finding Aboriginals where Aboriginals could not be1 [Trans., p.8593].

8.4.82 Although no-one bothered to tell him, Smith was in fact correct. The fires were lit by people whose presence in the area throughout the Buffalo tests was later confirmed by MacDougall [Trans., pp.8594-5; RC 819, p.1346].

8.4.83 MacDougall, it seems, wanted to have the observation checked out from the air. Mr Jay cabled the Trials

Superintendent and Lawrence at Maralinga to the effect that

1 MacDougall suggested that if an air patrol is going near Long 129 [degrees] 45 [minutes] E Lat 27 [degrees] 10 [minutes] S that they have a look around hills in endeavour to spot any natives who may be in that area.1

[RC 819, p.990]

8.4.84 Lawrence apparently tried to follow up the request and was told by his superior

’Not concerned about area 129 [degrees] for this series.1 [RC 819, p.992]

The people involved were in fact those about whom Macaulay had cabled Jay on 17 September:

'Here say some natives south of Darring Hills south of Piltardie.' [RC 819, p.973]

The tragic events which overtook these people are discussed in Chapter 9.

The Pom Pom Incident

8.4.85 In the light of the assurances being passed on to the Prime Minister by the AWTSC about the adequacy of Range security and Aboriginal safety, the unexpected and untimely appearance of the Milpuddie family at the site of the Mar coo crater was 1 seen

to be an extremely serious incident...which had the potential to stop the test series’ [Trans., p. 2461]. It did not. But then the news was not all that widely disseminated. Lord Penney stated that he had never heard about it [Trans., p.4387], and the

incident is not recorded in the Minutes of the AWTSC. The ‘ incident' was one of some magnitude, however, as it exposed dangerous flaws in the Range security system.

8.4.86 On the morning of Tuesday 14 May 1957, Captain

R Marqueur, of the Royal Australian Engineers, was informed by a group of engineers that there were Aborigines in the 'dirty' area. Captain Marqueur went to the decontamination centre and saw a male Aborigine approaching from the direction of the crater


formed by the explosion at Marcoo during the Buffalo tests in 1956. He radioed to base and remained with the Aborigine until security and health physics representatives arrived [RC 109]. Sergeant F Smith of the Health Physics Group drove to the Marcoo site in a Land Rover and collected the rest of the party - a woman, two children and two dogs. They were monitored and showered in the health physics caravan to remove contamination which was not considered to be harmful [RC 14]. The Milpuddies were transported by vehicle to the mission at Yalata on the same day.

8.4.87 The sequence of events from the time of their discovery at the Marcoo site must have been frightening for the Milpuddies. In the first place, showering was not part of the daily ritual for 1spinifex people'. Peace Officer T Murray described the showering procedure:

1 There was soap in there, and they had it in their eyes. The lubra was crying. I put them right under the shower and told them to keep their eyes very tight, I washed it out of their hair, I opened their eyes a little bit to let the water get the soap out of their eyes and got all the dust off them.' [RC 148]

8.4.88 Mr B G Lindner, a former manager of the Yalata

Community, stated that they 'were in a state of apprehension and bewilderment and that they were frightened1 by the showering [RC 150].

8.4.89 In addition, Murray also described the drive to Yalata:

'It was a shocking trip down as they had never ridden in a vehicle before and vomited everywhere.1 [RC 148]

8.4.90 Yalata was the culmination of a journey begun by the Milpuddies about 12 months before when they set out from the Everard Ranges for Ooldea not knowing that Aboriginal people had been moved from there. They had followed the traditional rock

hole route towards Ooldea, a route which the Native Patrol Officers had assured their superiors was no longer used by Aborigines. They also made use of the new system of roads which had been constructed. In fact, MacDougall wrote of this journey

in his report of 19 June 1957: Ά series of incidents combined to suggest a trip to Ooldea. The greatest factor being a North South road where there had never been a road before1 [RC 819, p.1346].

8.4.91 Peace Officer Murray confirmed that the recently constructed roads were a great attraction to Aborigines:

1 Then, as time went by and Lenny Beadell put these roads through after the bombs the natives followed the tracks and came in closer to the prohibited area than I had noticed before.1 [RC 148]


8.4.92 There are no records from that period which suggest that Australian authorities concerned themselves further with the welfare of the Milpuddies. The only follow-up action was taken at the Range Commander's request, on receiving instructions from Mr E Cooke, the Secretary of the Department of Supply: the dogs, having escaped the showering process, were shot in case they had been contaminatedl

8.4.93 MacDougall gives a description of the Milpuddies' state of mind in his report of 19 June 1957:

'The man is not very concerned in regards to his

experiences but his wife is worried about the

possibility of punishment for trespassing on what was obviously a male area and therefore probably a

ceremonial ground taboo to females.' [RC 819, p.1346]

8.4.94 Edie Milpuddie was pregnant at the time. The baby was born dead. Edie and other Maralinga women believe that this happened because there was 'poison' on the ground where they had been.

8.4.95 The Range Commander, Colonel Durance, saw the incident as a 'political embarrassment' [Trans., p.2393], and went to considerable lengths to keep the story secret:

'This would be a rather sensitive matter and we were all very guarded in anything that we had to say so that preferably it didn't get out from the range. I made this known to the men on the range that references to

the incident were not to take place at all,

particularly as they were under the Defence Special Undertakings Act and would remember that [they] could have great difficulties for them if they started breaking the security that was required of them in this

matter.' [RC 125, p.16]

8.4.96 These tactics worked. Durance made his report of the incident 'cryptically' over the telephone to Cooke, who would see that the Minister was informed [RC 125]. Turner, the Australian

Health Physics Representative on the Range, had his report classified as 'Secret Atomic Guard' - an effective means of guaranteeing a limited audience [RC 819, p.1304]. Patrol Officer MacDougall also obliged. He noted in his report of 19 June 1957

to the Superintendent of the WRE at Woomera, that he had

suggested to the Milpuddies 'that as they had accidentally seen something of a Whiteman's ceremony they should not declare anything to other white men' [RC 819, p.1346]·

8.4.97 The British were informed accordingly in a cable from the UK High Commission to the Commonwealth Relations Office in Downing Street dated 16 May 1957:


1 The count was practically negligible on all four and it is felt that there will be no dangerous results. It is hoped to keep this incident from the press. Frank O'Connor has, however, informed the Minister in case there is any sudden publicity but all possible steps are, of course, being taken here to prevent this.'

[RC 559, Bundle D, p.280]

8.4.98 Hushing up the affair was one thing. Doing nothing about it was quite another. There were only two patrol officers checking on the movements of Aborigines in an area of 30 000 square miles. A third patrol officer was eventually appointed. He was never told of the Mar coo incident even though the

information would have been vital when he was co-ordinating aerial and ground searches for the Antler trials [Trans., p.6651 ]. MacDougall had advised the Superintendent, Woomera, 1 that there are natives living West of the road who may follow it

if they find it1 [RC 819, p.1346]. MacDougall had also admitted that he and Macaulay had been mistaken in assuming that reports indicating that there were Aborigines living in the Mt Lindsay area were wrong. The movements of Aborigines were impossible to predict. The resources allocated for Aboriginal welfare and

safety were ludicrous, amounting to nothing more than a token gesture.

8.4.99 The Range Commander saw no reason to tighten up the security measures. His evidence to the Royal Commission is quoted:

'Q. ...the fact that security had been breached, so that this family had got right into the contaminated area, did you suggest to your superiors that something further should be done to provide adequate security on the range?

' A. The system itself was clearly sound. I know it had one or two breaches.

'Q. But it was pretty obvious by this stage, was it not, that it could not have been operating to secure the most sensitive of areas?

'A. This is so.1 [Trans. pp.2394-5]

8.4.100 In 1980, the Pitjantjatjara Council approached the Minister for National Development and Energy for assistance in assessing the possible claim for injury or death of Aborigines resulting from atomic weapons tests. People who considered that they may have been affected were invited to come forward for interview and, if appropriate, undergo medical examinations

[RC 100, p. 319]. The health of the surviving members of the Milpuddie family has been under surveillance since then [AB 15, p.19]. Anthropologists M Brady and Dr K Palmer, in their submission to the Royal Commission, made the following observations:


1 Whether or not the medical histories associated with this family are found to be significant, their

experience and the (somewhat belated) concern about it has made Edie, Rosie and Henry confused and anxious. Edie has a very poor grasp of English and it is

unlikely that anyone has taken the time to sit with her and explain with an interpreter, what has been going on. I think it would be true to say that the 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.' [AB 15, p.19]



(a) Overall, the attempts to ensure Aboriginal safety

during the Buffalo series demonstrate ignorance, incompetence and cynicism on the part of those responsible for that safety. The inescapable conclusion is that if Aborigines were not injured or killed as a result of the explosions, this was a matter of -luck

rather than adequate organisation, management and resources allocated to ensuring safety.

(b) For the Buffalo tests, a site was chosen on the false

assumption that the area was not used by its traditional Aboriginal owners. Aborigines continued to move around and through the Prohibited Zone and inadequate resources were allocated to locating them and to ensuring their safety. The

reporting of sightings of Aboriginal people was discouraged and ignored.

(c ) Aboriginal people were kept away from Ooldea and other important places to the south and west of the Range. At the same time, the construction of the Giles meteorological station and roads brought intruders and detrimental effects to the people north-west of Maralinga.

(d) Native Patrol Officer MacDougall was placed in an

impossible situation. In his task of ensuring Aboriginal safety he had to carry two totally inexperienced colleagues. The appointment of one of these can only be described as blatantly cynical. MacDougall's considerations of Aboriginal welfare

brought him increasingly into conflict with authorities in government and WRE. The affairs of a handful of natives counted little compared to the interests of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

(e) The Pom Pom incident demonstrated that flaws existed in the security system at Maralinga. Those responsible for security seemed at least as concerned about the exposure of such flaws as the welfare of the Milpuddie family.


(£) For the Milpuddies the experience caused great concern and it distresses Edie Milpuddie today. The Royal Commission cannot exclude the possibility that the Milpuddies1 entry into the contaminated area resulted in injury to them.

8.5 Safety of Servicemen

Plans and Regulations

8.5.1 Radiological safety during the atomic tests was at all times the responsibility of the United Kingdom. In January 1955, the AWRE produced the first edition of the Radiological Safety Regulations - Maralinga [RC 282]. The safety standards laid down

in these regulations were based on recommendations made by the ICRP.

8.5.2 The Safety Regulations covered maximum permissible dose levels, conditions of entry to contaminated areas, film badges and protective clothing, use, storage and transit of radioactive materials, medical surveillance, hazards, and responsibilities.

8.5.3 Radiological Health Control was to be carried out initially by about 40 AWRE personnel. However, in May 1955 it was decided that a team of Australians should be formed [RC 800, p.550863]. Their duties would be to assist the UK team during trial periods and to be responsible for the Range during

inter-trial periods [RC 800, pp.552235-6].

8.5.4 The Australian Health Physics Team of six members was selected in December 1955 [RC 800, p.562136]. Three of them went to the AERE at Harwell for special training before proceeding to

Maralinga. At Maralinga, further training courses in health physics were conducted [RC 140].

8.5.5 The Australian Health Physics Team moved to Maralinga in August 1956. They were attached to the British Radiation Measurement, Health Physics, and Decontamination Groups [RC 560].

8.5.6 The main functions of the Health Physics Team were set out in the Radiological Safety Regulations [RC 282]. These included radiological control of movements of all personnel into, within and out of contaminated areas, control of decontamination, maintenance of records of individual exposure, delineation of active areas and advice on all aspects of radiation safety

[RC 560].

8-5.7 During the trial periods the Trials Superintendent was responsible for radiological health and safety on the Range and for enforcement of the Radiological Safety Regulations [RC 800, p.564543]. During the inter-trial periods the responsibility lay with the Australian Range Commander who was advised by the Australian Health Physics Representative.


8-5.8 Another group of fifteen men comprised the Australian Radiation Detection Unit (ARDU). Members of this group received special training for their tasks of carrying out fallout measurements to survey and determine possible ground

contamination. The ARDU was under the control of the Australian Health Physics Team which it assisted in maintaining health and safety services in the inter-trial periods [RC 560].

8.5.9 General physical safety was covered by the Range

Standing Orders which were drawn up by the Range Commander. These related to overall control and administration of the Range. Range Daily Orders were also published by the Range Commander along with Administrative and Safety Instructions. These were displayed on notice boards throughout the Range [RC 800, p.560802].

8.5.10 Directions on access to test areas and equipment during the major tests were provided by the Task Force Commander, the Scientific Test Director and the Trials Superintendent. They

were assisted by the Range Commander, ASIO, the Chief Security Officer, Department of Supply officials and the Commonwealth Peace Officers [RC 329, p.3].

8.5.11 During the inter-trial periods, security and regulation of access to prohibited areas was the responsibility of the Australian Range Commander [RC 329, p.3].

Radiological Safety at Buffalo - Contemporary Documents

8.5.12 The Leader of the Health Physics Group at Buffalo, Lieutenant Colonel Dagg, did not compile a British post-trials report. To gain some understanding of that Group's activities it is necessary to refer to its planned operations as well as other

available documentary material.

8.5.13 The Summary Plan for Operation Buffalo stated that the Health Physics Group

'...will ensure that all buildings and installations conform to radiological safety requirements and it will provide a film badge service for everyone on the Range, the films being changed at periods depending upon the

duties of the wearers. On all parts of the Range not in the fall-out zone, there will be a routine service of testing for contamination on buildings, of air and water and of effluents, and the ensuring of

radiological safety during the handling of radioactive materials including weapon assembly and

decontamination. In the fall-out zone, contaminated areas will be signposted and persons entering the zone will, where necessary, be issued with protective clothing and writing pads, will be briefed and on their

return will be monitored.


1A comprehensive range of nuclear instruments will be provided and maintained in working order for other Groups, including gamma and neutron time-intensity instruments, counting devices for radiological

surveying on the ground and by air, spectrometers, and monitoring and contamination measuring equipment. Changing and personal decontamination facilities will be provided at airfields at Maralinga and RAAF

Edinburgh which will be operated in conjunction with the Decontamination Group. The Group will collaborate to the full with Australian Health Physics

representatives of the Range Commandant and will hand over records and will leave such nuclear instrument installations as may be required to maintain

radiological safety during the period between trials.1 [RC 393, p.12]

8.5.14 The Health Physics Group was to provide general

decontamination services for the other groups and to investigate methods of decontamination and protection against contamination. This included protection and decontamination of aircraft and vehicles as well as laundering decontaminated clothing. It was

also to examine the efficiency of protective clothing worn in contaminated areas [RC 393, pp.11-12].

8.5.15 A separate and more detailed section of the Operation Buffalo Summary Plan was issued to the Health Physics Group [RC 394]. This divided the total group into eight sub-groups. Of these, two are of special importance: HP3 which was to impose

health control over all contaminated areas; and HP5 which was responsible for film badges and personal dose records [RC 394, p. 5].

8.5.16 The detailed tasks of HP3 were as follows:

'The Active areas will be signposted at all entrances as required by the Radiological Safety Regulations. The fall-out area will be that part of the Test area in which explosion debris may be encountered. It will

comprise a contaminated (YELLOW) area and an

uncontaminated (BLUE) area. These areas will be defined by fall-out data supplied by the RN group.

"A mobile Health Control Point, consisting of a train of caravans will be set up outside the fall-out area. Protective clothing and personal film badges will be issued at the Health Control Point to individuals entering the YELLOW area. Individuals entering the BLUE area, which although uncontaminated has an external radiation hazard, will each be issued with a personal film badge and overshoes. Beta and Gamma dosimeters will be issued on a party basis to all personnel entering the fall-out area.


' Entrants into the fall-out area will be briefed on routes and timings. Movement into, within and out of the fall-out area will be regulated from the Health Control Point, which will be equipped with two-way

radio communication between all vehicles operating in the YELLOW area.

' A member of every party entering the fall-out area will be nominated as Health Escort. If all members of the party have no previous experience, a trained escort will be provided from some other group. He will be

responsible for the observance of Radiological Safety Instructions by the party he accompanies, and will be instructed in the use of the appropriate instruments to be provided by Health Control.

1 Personnel leaving the YELLOW area will take a

shower-bath and be monitored at the Health Control. Personnel who have entered the BLUE area only, will be monitored.

1 Priorities for re-entry will be determined before each firing.

1 HP Group will provide "on the spot" decontamination of lightly contaminated records and small instruments at Health Control point. Other records and instruments will be taken to building DCS where HP Group will assist other Groups to decontaminate. Bulky equipment will be decontaminated by DC Group.' [RC 394, pp.6-7]

8.5.17 HP51s instructions were as follows:

1A film badge service will be established for everyone on the Range. Films will be changed monthly. These films will be given up on entering the Active areas and collected on departure. In the Active areas separate badges will be worn on a sortie basis.' [RC 394, p .8]

8.5.18 Other documents provided to the Royal Commission give further indications of the plans for radiological safety and the execution of these plans; [AG 11, pp.1-2] contains an outline of a lecture by Dagg discussing methods of health control at Buffalo and indicating the way in which the Summary Plan was to be

instituted by the Health Physics Group.

3.5.19 Buffalo Operational Procedure No. 2 [AG 11, pp.3-4] sets out the procedure to be followed by the mobile Health Physics Control Unit after detonation. It refers to the requirement to comply with appropriate safety regulations and to controls related to contaminated areas. This document, signed by J Tomblin, says


' Clearly the rate of re-entry must be planned so that the Health Control Unit does not become overloaded and also that each group uses the total permitted dose in the most economic manner.' [AG 11, p.3]

8.5.20 Tomblin's instructions were followed by Target Response Notice No.5/56. This was issued by E Drake Seager and concerned the location of the yellow zone boundary and the requirement to

wear respirators [AG 11, pp.5-6].

8.5.21 Buffalo Operation Procedure No. 6, issued by Dagg, stressed the role of the Health Escort:

'In the Yellow Zone re-entry parties must be

accompanied by a Health Escort adequately briefed by Health Control. Group Leaders should be ready to nominate a Health Escort for each of their own parties re-entering the Yellow Zone in the first three days. The escort should be other than the party leader, and should be chosen from those with previous Trials

experience. If none such is available from the Group, Health Physics will arrange an escort for at least the first re-entry.

'Group Leaders are also asked to nominate suitable members of their Group to assist other Groups as escorts. This particularly applies to Groups who have no re-entry commitments.

'Health Physics will arrange instruction in the use of monitoring instruments for all escorts before Standby. This inevitably implies that escorts will have to be freed on a half day to be notified.' [AG 11, p.10]

8.5.22 A further instruction was issued by Dagg on

20 September concerning the briefing of re-entrants [AG 11, p.14]. This required the person conducting the briefing to have a full knowledge of the fallout pattern, local topography, routes of access, and the dose record of the re-entrant. The re-entrant

was to be briefed on protective clothing, entry and exit routes and the limits of contaminated areas.

8.5.23 Other documents in AG 11, some unsigned and undated, set out detailed movement schedules of the RH Group, the identities of health escorts, pre-firing movement schedules,

vehicle movement details, a schedule of expected re-entries, the tasks of various personnel in relation to the operation and positioning of Health Control caravans and the organisation and movement of the Health Physics Group. Most of these documents appear to be related to the One Tree test at Buffalo [AG 11,


8.5.24 A document in the Australian Collation gives precise details of the composition of radiation monitoring survey parties


after round 1 [RC 800, p. 564243]. A minute from Dagg dated 8 October describes the location of the Health Control caravan for round 3. It says, in part,

'It is not expected that Round 3 will create fresh Yellow Areas, and the re-entry control should be mainly Blue checking.' [RC 800, p.564540]

8.5.25 Two documents written after the Buffalo tests summarise some of the health physics activities engaged in by Lieutenant Colonel D F Lloyd. 'Control of Entry into Areas Contaminated by Nuclear Weapons' [undated, first two pages only] described the

activities of the radiological survey team which entered forward areas immediately after the explosions to monitor radiation levels [AG 11, pp.44-5]. Details are given of the clothing worn (including respirators), the types of gamma-ray monitors which were used, and the progress of the party in the Forward Area. It notes that 'each person carried a film badge and two pocket

dosimeters to record radiation dose' [AG 11, p.45].

8.5.26 Lloyd also wrote a report on the activities of the Australian Health Physics Team during the Buffalo series called 'Atomic Weapon Trials - Maralinga 1956 - Australian Health Physics Team' [AG 11. pp.46-52]. This report described the

activities of the Health Physics Team in radiation measurement, health physics and decontamination. Control of movement in and out of the Forward Area is described. Lloyd concluded that

'The experience gained in witnessing at first hand the explosion of atomic weapons, the inspection of the subsequent damage and the participation in the many activities of the Health Physics Organization should prove invaluable to the Service and to the officer

concerned.' [AG 11, p.52]

8.5.27 In addition to those references cited above, the Royal Commission received documentary evidence concerning the operation of the film badge service.

8.5.28 The 'Directors Daily Notice No. 2' issued by Tomblin said that

'Lt. Col. S.J. Dagg, CL/HP is responsible for the issue of numbered badges against nominal roll of all staff.' [AG 11, p.54]

8.5.29 After describing the method of film badge distribution, the Notice said

‘The film in the badges will be changed monthly. For those frequently handling radioactive sources the change will be fortnightly. Additional badges including wristlet badges can be obtained from CL/HP as and when necessary.


'On passing through Health Control to enter the fall-out zones, the monthly badges will be temporarily exchanged for a "once only" sortie badge. CL/ΗΡ will issue sortie badges to aircrew engaged on flights

involving possible exposure to radiation. Records of sortie radiation doses will be made available to Group Leaders daily. 1 [AG 11, p. 54]

8.5.30 Also issued was an Australian Services Task Force Administration Instruction 38/56 entitled 1 Radiological Safety Film Badges' [AG 11, p.55]. This appears to have been issued by Captain J C Coen. It contains details of the issue of film

badges and those responsible for this as well as stating how the badges were to be worn.

8.5.31 The documents used to record the film badge issues are also contained in AG 11 [p.59]. On 6 October a follow-up to the Director's Daily Notice No. 2 stated that '...all personnel are advised that monthly films are due for renewal. Group Leaders are requested to obtain fresh films...' [AG 11, p.60].

8.5.32 Details of the correct method of donning protective clothing and of removing it with the aid of an assistant are given in AG 11 [p. 61 ]. A note issued in July 1956 from the

Department of the Army refers to the requirement for members of the Indoctrinee Force to wear respirators [AG 11, p .62].

8.5.33 Detailed reports of the activities of the Australian Health Physics Team [AG 11, pp.63-4] and activities of the Australian Radiation Detection Unit [AG 11, pp.65-7] were written after the Buffalo tests by the Acting Director of CXRL,

D J Stevens. In the first of these, Stevens noted that members of the team were interchanged amongst the Health Physics, Radiation and Decontamination Groups between rounds. He recorded

' This interchanging of individuals was on the whole satisfactory but it did mean that with only ten days between Rounds there was little opportunity after Round 1 to apply the experience gained.' [AG 11, p.63]

8.5.34 In relation to the ARDU, Stevens wrote

'After the final trial (Round 4) all members of the A.R.D.U. assembled at Maralinga and under the direction of Mr. O.H. Turner conducted a survey of all crater areas. This was a useful exercise for the A.R.D.U. and

it was one of the few occasions on which the A.R.D.U. operated together as a team. The information obtained from this survey will be of value to the Health Physics Representative in the inter-trial period as it will help him to brief those men who must enter the forward

area on the hazards which exist there.


'After this exercise the A.R.D.U. assisted Mr. Turner in barricading and sign-posting the forward areas and in establishing a Health Control Centre for men whose duties will take them into the forward areas in the

inter-trial period. 1 [AG 11, p. 65]

Radiological Safety at Buffalo - Statements and Oral Evidence

8.5.35 The Royal Commission heard oral evidence and received statements, in the UK and in Australia, from a number of people who were concerned with the operation of health control and security arrangements at Maralinga during the Buffalo tests.

8.5.36 Saxby gave evidence that

1 For the Maralinga nuclear tests a main Forward Control was established at Roadside: with certain specific exceptions, all authorised and in continuous radio or line telephonic contact with Roadside, no person was

allowed forward of Roadside at the time of detonation. All movements were reported to and monitored by the Forward Control at Roadside... Following the

detonations, post-firing control of movements in the forward areas continued from Roadside for the period which lasted until Health Control vehicles had moved into position and had set up and were effectively operating control over entry into areas where exposures

to radioactivity or ionising radiations, at levels significantly greater than zero from the UK tests, would or might occur. The post-firing control, from about 1 hour after detonation was a task carried out at Maralinga by a team under my control (see Appendix B)

and continued for typically one or two days after each firing. A barrier and Peace Officer control post was in operation at Roadside throughout each major test programme from the time of the first full rehearsal and

regulated traffic to the forward areas.' [RC 329, p. 10]

8.5.37 Saxby, said as a general conclusion,

'My own observations at 10 of the 12 nuclear test detonations plus all the many pieces of information available to me, have shown that the control and security arrangements were most stringent and were

strictly and meticulously enforced.' [RC 329, p. 10]

8.5.38 W E Jones gave evidence which supported that of Saxby:

'A foolproof safety plan was required to ensure that during the preparations for firing the nuclear devices the whereabouts of all personnel participating in the


operation were known at any time and that when the final countdown phase was entered every person present on the Maralinga Range was accounted for and was in the allocated position at the instant of detonation of the device.1 [RC 389, pp.2-3]

8.5.39 Jones described a Movement Schedule which was able to show the locations of any of the 800 participants at any one time:

1 The Movement Schedule was laid out in vertical and horizontal columns and provision was made for a description of the movement, names of personnel involved, vehicle number, departure from base, arrival

at Roadside and arrival at the requisite site, method of reporting (e.g. intercom, vehicle radio, telephone or in person), and essential tasks to be completed...

'Reporting at Roadside would be "in person", and reporting en route by vehicle R/T...The large magnetic blackboard was installed, with a map of the range drawn on it, with all experimentation, target response, photographic and measurement sites in the "bush" beyond

the firing sites, marked out, with their names. Each group, or in certain cases individuals, and every vehicle was allocated a small magnet, with their identification serial according to the schedule clearly marked on the magnet. As each report came in, the

appropriate magnet would be moved on the magnetic blackboard, so that the position of personnel and vehicles could be established at a glance. A certain number of "unscheduled" movements were catered for and

these were tracked in the same way as the major

schedule. For example, one of the scientific groups might request a certain piece of equipment to be taken to a certain site.

'As work preceded [sic], the magnetic blackboard would be covered with magnets all over the forward area. When all tasks had been completed and it had been established that the firing phase would go ahead, personnel would commence the withdrawal back to

Roadside. The procedure on the magnetic blackboard then went into reverse - ie the magnets would start to be removed from the forward sites and accumulate round the Roadside area. Finally, the firing site, eg One-Tree for Buffalo Round 1, would have one RED magnet and a personnel and vehicle magnet, representing the weapon arming team, they being the last people out of the area and carrying the master safety key which had to be inserted in the firing control console before entering the final countdown and firing phase. These two magnets would be the only ones on the blackboard

forward of Roadside (in the case of Round 2 at Marcoo,


the ground burst two other magnets were present forward of Roadside to indicate the location of the Indoctrinee Force personnel).

'In addition to the Schedule of Movements, a physical barrier was erected at Roadside and manned by a member of the Royal Australian Constabulary (Peace Officer) which meant that all vehicles had to stop anyway before proceeding into the Forward Area. All vehicles

approaching would be directed to a parking area while the drivers or other passengers reported to Forward Control.' [RC 389, pp.3-5]

8.5.40 Jones concluded that ·

I As far as I am aware, no incident occurred which might have led to a radiation or other hazard to personnel engaged in work in the Forward Area.1 [RC 389, p.6]

8.5.41 E R Drake Seager was responsible for co-ordinating target response testing during the Buffalo trials (see para.8.5.49). In his statement to the Royal Commission, he confirmed that personnel entering the Forward Area adhered to all

of the radiological safety regulations, and said

II have not seen the dose records but have no reason to believe that anyone received more than the lower integrated dose as defined in RSRM/56(5). 1 [RC 325, P-9]

8.5.42 Dagg described in detail the health physics system and its operations at Maralinga. He said 'There was a rigorous system for checking people in and out of the restricted areas' [RC 344, p.6]. His conclusion was that

' The arrangements maintained by the health control group were effective to secure the required safety standards. This would appear to be borne out by the film badge radiation dose records.' [RC 344, p.9]

8.5.43 Dale, as health physics adviser at the tests, included among his duties the responsibility for 'overseeing the processing of film badges' [RC 269, p. 11]. He told the Royal Commission that

'This was done in the Health Physics Centre where we also read the QFEs, tested instruments and maintained cumulative dose records based on film badges. This processing, checking and recording was carried out

vigorously and in accordance with procedures because of the importance attached to the policy that exposure would be as low as practicable and that actual exposure would be within the ICRP limits.' [RC 269, pp.11-12]


8.5.44 Saxby, Jones, Drake Seager, Dale and Dagg all gave evidence in the United Kingdom. Their evidence was supported by that of a number of people in Australia.

8.5.45 Turner was one of the Australian Health Physics Team members who had received training at AERE Harwell. At Maralinga he was attached to the British Health Physics Group under Dagg, who in turn was responsible to Dale. Turner told the Royal Commission that

'Elaborate safety procedures were adopted during each major or minor test. After each explosion, re-entry to the test area could only be through a suitably equipped and staffed health control. Entry was always

restricted to a small number of authorised personnel.' [RC 140, p ·7]

8.5.46 W F Hemmy, who worked in the ARDU, gave oral evidence that he wore protective clothing in the Forward Area, wore at least one film badge and carried two dosimeters [Trans., pp.2852-3]. He confirmed other evidence that on some occasions more than one film badge was worn [Trans., p.2854]. Mr Hemmy

said that the security system 'worked quite well' and could not recall any incidents when security was breached [Trans., p.2855].

8.5.47 D O Magee recalled entering the Forward Area on the morning after the One Tree explosion. He wore a full set of protective clothing, including a respirator with dust filter,

carried a dosimeter, wore a film badge and entered and returned through the Health Physics Centre. He went into the Forward Area on several occasions and 'recollected' that he was given a new film badge each time [Trans., pp.1709-11]. H R Byron's entry to and protection in the Forward Area were similar to those of Magee although he could recall having only one film badge [Trans., pp. 2270-1], W J Hughes said that he was issued with a new film

badge each time he worked in the Forward Area wearing protective clothing and a respirator [Trans., pp.2076-7].

8.5.48 Before addressing the allegations which witnesses made concerning inadequate safety it is useful to turn to two aspects of the Buffalo trials which relate to this issue. These concern the target response tests and the Indoctrinee Force.

Target Response Tests

8.5.49 At an early stage of planning for Operation Buffalo provision was made for target response tests. Australian, Canadian and UK military forces and civil departments were asked to make proposals for the placing of equipment at various distances from the detonations. Interdepartmental committees were set up by BUFFALEX to co-ordinate replies and submit

recommendations to the executive. Nine target response groups


were set up to implement the plans [RC 393; RC 800, pp. 550373-6, 550674-5, 550689-91, 550761-3]. It was decided that 1 most of the targets will be exposed to the effects of the first of the nuclear explosions but there will be some targets in subsequent

rounds' [RC 393, p.23].

8.5.50 Eight target response groups were concerned with instrumentation, aircraft, biology (including effects on goats, rabbits and mice), electronics, materials, ordinance, structures and explosions [RC 393, pp.23-8]. The Indoctrinee Force (see para.8.5.55) made up the ninth target response group.

8.5.51 Australian authorities wanted more target response data from Buffalo than they had received from Totem and Hurricane. All items which were specific to Australian military forces were provided for in the target response programs and arrangements were made for physical, chemical and mechanical analyses to be

carried out later in Department of Supply laboratories [RC 558, p.1783A; RC 800, p.551451].

8.5.52 As planned, most of the target response tests were carried out at the One Tree explosion. They were extensive and covered many of the technical aspects of military equipment and stores.

8.5.53 During the early planning stages of Buffalo, both in general and specifically for the target response tests, the question was raised whether it was reasonable to expect a research and development weapons team to handle the situation

without full and independent support. It was further felt that people who would eventually be responsible for installing military and defence systems needed the opportunity to observe an atomic weapons test and its effects.

8.5.54 Early in 1955, the UK Chiefs of Staff Committee decided that this need could be fulfilled by the formation of a separate group which would also be able to use the program as a means of learning at first hand the effects of a nuclear blast [RC 325, p. 6; RC 800, pp.550719-20]. The Australian Government was

approached [RC 800, p.550830] and agreed in principle in June 1955 [RC 800, p. 550872]. The group was to be known as the Indoctrinee Force.

The Indoctrinee Force

8.5.55 The Indoctrinee Force (IF) consisted of commissioned officers who were to gain operational experience of the effects of nuclear weapons.

' Two hundred and fifty officers from the armed forces of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand will be exposed, at a safe distance to the flash heat and


blast effects of an atomic explosion. A conducted tour of the firing area will be made before and after the event to enable indoctrinees to observe and appreciate the effects of explosion on the ground and on items of

Service equipment, vehicles and structures exposed for Target Response Tests.' [RC 338, p.5]

8.5.56 The Indoctrinee Force was eventually made up of

283 men, 178 from the UK (172 officers, 6 civilians), 100 from Australia (74 officers, WO and CPO, 1 civilian and 25 other ranks) and five officers from New Zealand [RC 325, Annex Note on Radiation Levels]. They were accommodated at Eleven Mile Camp,

11 miles (18 km) from Watson and 40 miles (64 km) south of the Forward Area. Drake Seager said to the Royal Commission that 1 logistics determined that the force was to an extent kept separate from others... IF members were treated alike and no discrimination practised - the only difference being that the UK personnel had received lectures in London and Singapore1 [RC 325, p. 7] .

8.5.57 The Indoctrinee Force Program was in four stages:

'(1) Lectures and general instruction on scope of the trial.

‘(2) Conducted tour of range area before the event - paying particular attention to Target Response items.

'(3) Exposure of the indoctr inees to the flash, heat and blast effects of Round 1 at a distance of about 4 and a half miles (7.2 km).

' (4) A conducted tour to examine the effects of the explosion on the ground and on target response items. Indoctrinees will pass through health controls and don protective clothing to enter the contaminated area. On

their return they will be passed through ad hoc army decontamination centre and finally monitored by AWRE health control.1 [RC 590, p .375; RC 325,

BUFFALEX (56) P.2, p.l]

8.5.58 It had been intended to assemble the Indoctrinee Force three days prior to the detonation of round 1 (One Tree), to enable general lectures and instruction on the scope of the trial and to form the area before the blast (stages 1 and 2) [RC 332, P-2].

8.5.59 Lectures included topics such as the effects on

personnel of heat flash, blast effects, ionising radiation, biological effects of fallout, radioactive contamination, health physics and health control and radioactive decontamination [RC 800, p.560093].


8.5.60 The Indoetrinee Force was assembled by 3 September, and lectures given between 5 and 11 September in time for the originally planned early morning detonation on 12 September [RC 546, Annex p.2; RC 332, p.2].

8.5.61 Because of the delay in firing round 1 by 15 days, a

more comprehensive program of lectures was arranged. These covered general instruction on atomic weapons, including re-entry and safety procedures after the test and the necessity for wearing protective clothing. The program, according to Commander Weir, was highly successful and enabled the Indoctrinees to get a

reasonable appreciation of what was involved in the trials and of the likely effects of an atomic explosion [RC 332, p.3].

8.5.62 Indeed, one effect of the recurring postponement of D-day brought home to the Indoetrinee Force the 1 vital importance of meteorology in connection with atomic trials and the abysmal ignorance of most Army officers about it1 [RC 325, Indoctrinee

Force Commander's Report, p.5].

8.5.63 Also during the delay, many of the Indoctrinees, assisted the 'scientists in the preparation of and laying out of targets (25-pr. guns, scout cars, dummy men, etc.), construction work in the Maralinga Cinema and in the Biological Laboratory, and the like' [RC 325, AORG Report 9/57, p.4].

8.5.64 North Base was chosen as the site from which the

Indoctrinees would witness the firing of round 1. 'This was a perfectly safe place and had been chosen in full consultation with AW RE advisers. It was some 8.2 km from ground zero'

[RC 325, Statement, p.7]. Prior to detonation, personnel were told to turn their backs to the explosion, and a countdown from 10 to zero was undertaken, after which they were told to turn and face the blast [RC 864, p.71].

8.5.65 One of the Indoctrinees, Major Walters, in his report made after Operation Buffalo, said that

'... all witnesses stood with their backs to ground zero from minus five minutes (this prevents injury to the eyes)... On "flash" (the detonation) the first

impression is of heat on the back of the neck. This is like a small radiator (500 W) being placed close to the neck and then quickly removed. On turning around (2 to

3 seconds from "flash") I saw a ball of fire

approximately 350 yards in diameter. This gradually collapsed and was replaced by a "stem" of dust rising rapidly into the air.' [RC 546, Attachment, p.2]

8.5.66 Owing to the firing taking place in the evening rather than early morning as originally envisaged, there was not sufficient time for the Indoctrinee Force to view the results of the explosion from a close distance shortly after the explosion.


8.5.67 The conducted tours of the blast area and target

response items were arranged for between one and four days after firing. The Force was divided into teams of 14:

1 Each team consisted of a leader with a marked map indicating the trail to be taken, a Health Officer with dosimeter and all the team clothed in protective clothing and a respirator.1 [RC 546, p.3]

8.5.68 Major Walters wrote that ' the tour lasted 2 1/2 hours and culminated in decontamination under field conditions' [RC 546, p. 4]. Walters was referring to the Experimental Decontamination Centre designed for use in the field and detailed

in AW RE Report Tl/57 [RC 326]. There, the indoctrinees changed from contaminated clothing and showered. 'No officer was found to be contaminated after his shower' [RC 325, IF Commander's Report, p .5]. Film badges were also handed back, and readings recorded by Service administrators; these are still available [RC 590, p .403]. From the Experimental Decontamination Centre, the Indoctrinee Force passed through the AWRE Health Physics Control for further checking and, if necessary, further decontamination [RC 800, p.551397; Trans., p.6018]. Some members of the Indoctrinee Force were required to undertake further work on day 3 after detonation, where volunteers were marched through specified areas of levels of radiation to assess the degree of protection afforded by military clothing. In the event, it was not possible to contaminate the clothing sufficiently for the purpose of the trial [RC 327, AWRE T2/57, Appendix F, p.36].

8.5.69 Following One Tree, about 100 officers remained to witness round 2 at Marcoo. These were chosen by a committee with Major General Sugden in the chair. Between rounds 1 and 2 it was decided that the round 2 group should undertake a number of tasks


' (d) Dig shelters with overhead cover in which

24 indoctrinees would experience the ground shock produced by the explosion.

'(e) Move one Centurion tank to the area of the

shelters in which 4 RAC officers were to experience the effects of the explosion.' [RC 325, IF Commander's Report, p.6]

8.5.70 Round 2 was fired at 1700 hours on 4 October, with the Indoctrinees being located in three different environs; a witness stand at Mina, about 3200 yards from Ground Zero, a Centurion tank and a series of covered shelters located at 2000 yards from Ground Zero.

' The Centurion tank was occupied by four UK officers. The covered shelters at 2000 yds were occupied by 24 officers (20 UK, 3 Australian and 1 New Zealand). The party in the open at 3200 yds totalled 82, comprising


38 UK officers, 3 UK civilian defence scientists, 10 Australian officers, 17 Australian support staff, 2 New Zealand officers, 2 UK health physics assistants, 9 UK

military observers and the controlling UK Senior Trials Scientist. No entry to or tour of the Target Response area was conducted after this shot as part of the Indoctrinee Force operation.1 [RC 325, Radiation

Levels, p.2]

8.5.71 There was no re-entry to the target response area following round 2. All the sites used by the Indoctrinee Force for experiencing both tests were south and upwind of the detonation points and beyond the residual radiation fields generated by radioactive debris and neutron induced activation as a result of the tests. Thus, with the wind directions at the

times of the tests, no effects due to these residual ionising radiations were experienced by any of the indoctrinees at these times.


8.5.72 The allegation that troops were being used as 'human guinea pigs' during the trials was first raised during the planning stages. This allegation was rejected by both the Australian and UK authorities at the time [RC 559, 1956, p . 37 ]. Drake Seager told the Royal Commission: 11 repeat that the

members of the IF [Indoctrinee Force] were not being used as human "Guinea Pigs" to test the effects of a nuclear explosion' [RC 325] and Flannery also refuted any such suggestion [Trans., p.2711].

8.5.73 The requirements of the Indoctrinee Program were diverse. There were many obvious needs, but one in particular has been given attention out of the context of other documents and, referring to the discussions of that particular time, states


' The army must discover the detailed effects of the various types of explosion on equipment, stores and men with and without various types of protection.1 [RC 590, p.372]

8.5.74 The sentence has been taken in various articles of recent times to refer to the use of the Indoctrinee Force. Those officers who eventually made up the Indoctrinee Force assisted in setting up items in the target response area but were not

themselves target response items. The 'men' referred to were dummies clothed in service uniforms.

8.5.75 The Royal Commission heard evidence from eight former members of the Indoctrinee Force. Four of these have made certain allegations, which are dealt with below. The remaining four all agree that film badges were issued and worn by all

Indoctrinees [Trans., pp.3481, 9066, 8482, 8468].


8.5.76 As well as the Indoctrinee Force, certain support staff were also present at Camp 11. Hi 11am [RC 135] claims to have worn a film badge [Trans., p.2829], although Jarvis [RC 495] also a member of the support staff claims that film badges were

issued, but no one even wore them. He also claims that he

'accidentally' witnessed the One Tree blast. Prior to the round 1 blast, Jarvis borrowed an Austin Champ which became bogged. He was standing beside the car when he witnessed the test. Ireland [RC 542] has claimed that he did not wear a film badge while at the Indoctrinee Camp, and cannot recall wearing one while in the trench for the Marcoo blast [Trans., p.8493].

8.5.77 Beevers [RC 74] has said in evidence to the Royal

Commission that during visits to blast areas after One Tree and Marcoo, the Indoctrinee Force did not wear any special

[protective] clothing [Trans., p.953]· This is similar to Lowe's evidence [RC 210; Trans., p.4192], but conflicting with Broadbent [RC 104] who claims that protective clothing was issued and worn by all Indoctrinees.

8.5.78 Wallsworth-Bell also claims he was wearing no

protective clothing [RC 681, p.4], and cannot recall whether or not he was wearing any film badge. He does not recall whether dosimeters were taken with the group of indoctrinees on their tour of the Forward Area the day after the blast [RC 681, p.5].

8.5.79 Lowe [RC 210] recalled in evidence that he was

stationed in a 1 closed down tank' for the Marcoo blast which 1 moved about 10 feet sideways1 [Trans., p.4193]. At the time there were three Indoctrinees inside the tank, dressed in ordinary military clothing with no film badge.

8.5.80 This conflicts with the report of Major Walters

[RC 546] noted above. In it he indicates that a tomato juice can was placed on a tank at the Marcoo blast. 1 The tank "lit up" as if someone had switched on an electric light. Hardly any shock was felt. Two empty tomato juice cans left on the front of the

tank were still in place' [RC 546, p.6].

8.5.81 Ireland [RC 542] claimed in evidence that a truck was blown down the road by an explosion and a tank moved [Trans., p. 8490]. In this instance, he is probably referring to one of the target response items at Marcoo and not to Lowe's allegation

noted above.

8.5.82 The total exposure to ionising radiations for members of the Indoctrinee Force comprised three components:

' . . .(i) Gamma and neutron exposure from the test detonations;

' (ii) X- and gamma-radiation exposures during the conducted tours; and


'(iii) X- and gamma-radiation exposures during other duties not arising directly from the Indoctrinee operation.

1 The X- and gamma-radiation exposures were determined by the exposures indicated by personal film badges issued to all Indoctrinee Force members. An estimate of the first component, ie exposure from each test

detonation has been made, based on the approximate yield and the degree of shielding (if any) at the position occupied an making an allowance for the neutron component which occurs close to ground zero.

The other two which were the more significant

contributions cannot be separately estimated but were monitored by personal dosimeters and varied according to the specific duties and proximity of individuals to sources of X- and gamma-radiation.' [RC 325, Radiation

Levels, p.3]

8.5.83 It has been estimated that, for all but the 4 officers in the tank during the Marcoo explosion, only a minor part of the Indoctrinees1 total dose was received during the explosions, the majority being received during subsequent tours of the blast area. The dose to the four in the tank was estimated at 2.5 mSv

(250 mrem) [loc.cit.].

8.5.84 A review of the information on the total exposures of the Indoctrinee Force showed that the average exposure was less than 5 mSv (500 millirem) . The maximum was 20 mSv (2 rem) . These were well within the prescribed limits for the trial, namely 30 mSv (3 rem) [loc.cit.].

8.5.85 All Australians received doses less than those

prescribed in the Maralinga Radiological Safety Regulations. One Australian record indicates that about 45 of the Australian members of I-Force received less than the minimum measurable exposure on the film badges used in the One Tree test, viz. 0.4 r

of gamma rays (4 mSv). Of the remainder, three Australian

members received between 0.4 and 0.5 r, 15 received between 0.5 and 0.6 r, and eight between 0.6 and 0.7 r. The last member of the Australian group arrived after the actual test but was

present for the target response tour, and received a dose reading less than 0.4 r [Symonds, p.403].

Other Recorded Doses

8.5.86 A summary of the doses recorded for participants in all the major test series was supplied to the Royal Commission by Saxby. There are no recorded gamma doses above 10 r for any participants at the Buffalo series, and none above 3 r for Australians [RC 329, Table 1].


8.5.87 There are 24 cases in which the gamma dose is recorded as being above 3 r [RC 329]. Of these, 13 were members of the RAF, some of whom would have flown through the One Tree cloud eight minutes after detonation [RC 631].

8.5.88 The remaining higher dose records are those of UK scientific personnel involved with radiological measurements, health physics, decontamination, and air and ground shock measurements.

8.5.89 The highest dose recorded is for the UK scientist who was in charge of the animal experimentation. After the One Tree explosion, he was concerned that goats which had been exposed to the blast were suffering and he went into the Forward Area and shot them. To do this, he had to approach closer to Ground Zero than anyone else had done. This was done with the permission of

Penney [RC 140, pp.40-1]. The dose recorded is 7 rem of gamma radiation and an aggregate dose of 40 rem. As with all of the dose records, it is not possible to say whether this was from one exposure. Nevertheless, it is below the higher integrated dose.

8.5.90 The highest dose recorded for an Australian at the Buffalo tests is 1.97 rem. This was for a participant who was a member of the Radiation Measurements Group.

Allegations by Participants

8.5.91 Apart from the general allegation that people were used as guinea pigs, the Royal Commission heard allegations of specific breaches of security and of inadequate safety precautions. These are shown in Table 8.5.1.

8.5.92 As with all of the nuclear test series, many of these allegations and the fears which are associated with them stem from the failure of those in authority to inform the participants fully of the nature of the activities in which they were engaged. For example, fourteen of the witnesses who said they did not have protective clothing put this in the context of when they were witnessing the blast. Apart from the Indoctrinees, all personnel were too far from the blast to receive any significant radiation.

In any event, protective clothing does not stop either neutrons or gamma rays and so would serve no useful purpose in stopping the immediate radiation from the nuclear explosions.

8.5.93 A further 14 witnesses did not enter the Forward Area and another eight did enter, but this was from days to months after the detonations. Six of the witnesses were involved in decontaminating aircraft at Amberley and are covered in Chapter 11. Two statements were received from relatives of participants now deceased, to the effect that they could not remember the deceased mentioning protective clothing.


TABLE 8.5.1

Specific Allegations Concerning Inadequate Safety During Operation Buffalo

Allegation Number of Witnesses

Making Allegations

No protective clothing/equipment 52

No information about danger from radiation 23

No film badges/film badge results not recorded 19

Handled contaminated equipment 12

No/inadequate decontamination procedures 10

Lax security 10

No dosimeter 7

No health checks 4

No safety precautions 3

No monitoring 3

Camped in Forward Area 3

Excessive secrecy 2

8.5.94 Five witnesses referred to respirators. One said that he did not wear one although it is not clear when he entered the Forward Area nor how long he remained there. Two said that

people who should have been wearing respirators sometimes took them off. Two others said that they personally removed their respirators when, through heat and extensive perspiration, conditions became too uncomfortable. The possibility of servicemen inhaling contaminated material when they loosened or

removed their respirators cannot be excluded.

8.5.95 Two witnesses may have worked on aircraft which had been contaminated. Another witness decontaminated machinery and other equipment from the Forward Area without wearing protective clothing other than rubber boots. These witnesses may have been

exposed to radiation which was not recorded.


8.5.96 Similar conclusions are reached regarding film badges and dosimeters. If participants had been adequately briefed on the use of and necessity for these measuring devices, many current fears would not be held. Film badges are not talismans.

In themselves they offer no protection against radiation. They indicate the wearer's exposure to radiation only after they have been developed.

8.5.97 For the Buffalo series, people entering the Forward \rea were issued with film badges which were retrieved on their exit through Health Control. These were developed daily. Participants in tasks outside the Forward Area wore film badges which were changed monthly. These were not all collected and developed. It is unlikely that they needed to be.

8-5.98 Similarly, dosimeters were not needed outside the Forward Area. In areas where there was a risk of radiation exposure they did not need to be carried by everybody. People worked in groups and it was sufficient for the Group Leader or

the Health Escort to carry the dosimeter, monitor the radiation levels and warn his group when it was necessary to get out or keep out of radiation areas.

8.5.99 Witnesses who allege that they worked on contaminated equipment and that they did not undergo personal decontamination fall into a number of groups. Those who worked on aircraft at Amberley are discussed in Chapter 11. Another group went to Emu during Operation Buffalo where they may have handled equipment contaminated during Operation Totem. The Royal Commission is unable to establish if this was the case. Given the precautions

taken at Emu after Totem, it seems unlikely that the men were exposed to radiation from contaminated equipment.

8.5.100 A number of witnesses are mistaken in their belief that the equipment they handled was contaminated, for example, green area Land Rovers or equipment which was never in the Forward Area. Others handled equipment which may have been contaminated initially but was no longer radioactive.

8.5.101 Two witnesses may have worked in the Forward Area sufficiently close to Ground Zero and soon enough after the blast for protective clothing to be required. They allege that they did not have full protective clothing. They may have been exposed to radioactivity, although the dose records do not show that anybody exceeded the limit for the operational period.

8.5.102 Those witnesses who claimed that they were not

personally monitored either did not go into the Forward Area or did so as late as one month after a detonation. Witnesses who camped in the Forward Area did so years after the blast at distances sufficiently far from Ground Zero and for short enough

times for them to have been exposed to little risk of



8.5.103 The Royal Commission received overwhelming evidence for it to reject the allegation that there were no safety precautions at the Buffalo tests. It has also received evidence that medical checks were made of personnel if required. Before the Buffalo series, all Australian personnel were given chest X-rays and blood checks, 450-500 personnel were medically examined, and

46 people were given medical permission to be exposed to the higher integrated dose of 10 r during the series [RC 29].

8.5.104 During the tests themselves security on the Range was tight and personnel movements were strictly supervised. Health Physics Control was placed about a mile upwind of Ground Zero and all personnel wishing to enter the Forward Area had to pass

through the Health Physics caravans [RC 344, p.4]. Anyone wishing to enter a contaminated area had to justify his visit [RC 269, para.31]. Maps showing contaminated areas were displayed in the Health Physics Control Unit; they were explained

to personnel going through the barrier [RC 344, p.6].

8.5.105 After the major tests, the Australian Range Commander assumed full control of the Range. He was responsible for controlling and monitoring access to the whole of the Prohibited Area [RC 329]. Responsibility for radiological safety of the

Range was assumed by the AHPR [RC 142].

8.5.106 Access to the Prohibited Area was monitored and controlled for the Range Commander by the Chief Security Officer of the Department of Supply acting through the Regional Security Officer (South Australia) and a Maralinga Range Security Officer

[RC 329]. Security was concentrated on the minor trials areas which were surrounded by manproof fences and subjected to 24-hour guards [RC 130, p.4] and to the area between Maralinga Village and Watson.

8.5.107 The Range Security Officer, Mr A Flannery, gave the following evidence on safety and security:

'At this stage it is as well that a differentiation be made between security and safety responsibilities. While at times, particularly during trials periods the common purpose of these merged, i.e. the control of

personnel movement within the test area and its fringes, there were other times during the non-trials periods when the requirements differed. For example after the major tests of Buffalo and Antler were

concluded, the area north of Roadside virtually lost all security significance, but there was a residual safety factor. As the security organisation had the necessary manpower, whose security duties had

diminished with the conclusion of the trials, they were diverted to providing roving patrols and the control of entry north of Roadside mainly for reasons of safety. Those areas with remaining high security and safety

significance, such as Kittens and Tims areas were


protected by manproof fences and twenty-four hour guards. There was also a control post at Watson, and when necessary at the airfield.1 [RC 130, p.4]

8.5.108 As the entry of the Milpuddie family showed, the system of security after the major tests was not without flaws. Too much of the effort may have been devoted to securing the area south of Maralinga Village and to the minor trials sites. After

the major trials, there may have been breaches of security by people who, for example, were collecting souvenirs or by people who were not adequately warned of the dangers of radioactive contamination.

8.5.109 Members of the Indoctrinee Force were given planned, formal lectures before the proposed firing of One Tree and they received other lectures as this test was postponed [RC 325]. These, however, were officers with specific tasks to be carried out. Lectures were provided for other participants but do not

appear to have been compulsory and, as some witnesses have said, they were 1 too hard1 and the witnesses could not understand them.

8.5.110 The Royal Commission also believes that application of the 1 need to know‘ principle has contributed to the concerns, fears and anxieties which the participants hold today.

8.5.111 The excessive secrecy is also the cause for other allegations such as the use of mentally defective people in the nuclear tests. Such allegations were published in The Times (UK) in June 1984 and were also made by several witnesses before the Royal Commission [RC 29; RC 71; RC 102].

8.5.112 Although the recollection of witnesses who claim they heard sounds akin to that of humans babbling may be correct, the Royal Commission totally rejects the allegations that these were

the sounds of mentally defective people being experimented on. Human voices intermingle and carry long distances in the desert air; tape recordings played backwards or forwards at fast speeds simulate gibbering; even machinery can emit such sounds. However, a more probable explanation for the unfounded rumour is

that provided by the witness who, speaking of the Indoctrinee Force, said

' They appeared to be drawn from all the services. We didn't speak to them. I had seen the same group about one month previously in a trench on the Watson side of the Village. We referred to them as the "secret army".

It is generally believed amongst the men that this group must have been made up of people who were

mentally retarded or defective in some way because they were always seen wearing full-dress uniform despite the terrific heat, whilst all of us were simply in shorts etc.' [RC 102, p.6]


Village Contamination

8.5.113 The movement and behaviour of fallout from the third Buffalo test, Kite, are described above and it is noted that fallout swirled south over Maralinga, Watson and Ooldea. With regard to Maralinga, Hicks and MacDougall have written

1 By counting sticky papers exposed in the village a fallout deposition of 90 1-hour microcuries per metre square was deduced. The amount of the fallout received in the village was clearly negligible from a biological point of view, but had a slight nuisance value to those

carrying out experiments in which radiation

measurements were involved. No harm was done on this occasion but it seems desirable to ensure that the village is not contaminated to any greater extent than this at future trials; thus an extra restriction

should be placed on airbursts to ensure the village does not lie within the fallout area.' [RC 299, p.20]

8.5.114 Evidence was given that the unexpected fallout at the Village was negligible. Siddons said that level was at least 1000 times below the zero risk level [Trans., p.5473]. In fact the measured fallout was about 100 times less than the ' zero

risk' level.

8.5.115 It is clear that residents of Maralinga Village would have experienced radiation from fallout at higher levels than those of normal background.



(a) Radiological and physical safety arrangements for participants during the Buffalo tests were well planned and sound. Security was strictly policed during the major tests but was relaxed afterwards. Unplanned incidents and exposures may have occurred during this time. Breaches of the safety

regulations may also have occurred when participants loosened or discarded respirators.

(b) There are no recorded cases of participants receiving doses above the higher integrated dose set down in the

Radiological Safety Regulations for the Buffalo nuclear tests. The Royal Commission acknowledges that the existing records of radiation doses may be incomplete and inaccurate.

(c) Operation of the 1 need to know1 principle and the

minimal amount of information given to participants has been a factor contributing to participants' concerns and fears regarding


what might have resulted from their experiences at Maralinga. Nevertheless, such participation at the tests, including residence in the village during the Kite explosion, has increased the risk of cancer to those participants who were exposed to

radiation but the Royal Commission has been unable to quantify the probable increase.

(d) The Royal Commission rejects the allegation that

mentally defective people were used in nuclear experiments at the Buffalo tests.




9.0 Introduction

9.0. 1 After the Buffalo series of tests, the AWTSC was

reconstituted in May 1957 as a three-man committee under the chairmanship of Titterton. The other members were L J Dwyer, Director of the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology, and D J Stevens, Director of the Commonwealth X-ray and Radium

Laboratory. With the change in structure came a change in the role of the AWTSC. The new Committee was to report to the Prime Minister on the safety of weapons tests only. Its brief to examine radiation safety in the community was taken over by the

newly constituted National Radiation Advisory Committee (NRAC). From May 1957, NRAC advised the Prime Minister on all matters concerning the effects of ionising radiation in the community - not only that from the British weapons testing program, but

radiation from industrial, scientific and other sources as well, including fallout from atomic weapons tests in other parts of the world. The Chairman of NRAC was Sir MacFarlane Burnet, and members included Professor Martin and Mr Butement, formerly of the AWTSC.

9-0.2 Another major change followed the realisation that the British did not intend to close the Range between major trials, as had initially been envisaged. Accordingly, the Maralinga Board of Management was established. It was a joint

UK-Australian body under the chairmanship of the Secretary of the Australian Department of Supply, and was set up to provide a more permanent and effective administration in inter-trial periods than could the AWTC (see Section 8.1). After 1956, extensive programs of minor trials kept the Range open for up to ten months

of the year. Operation Antler was preceded in March-July 1957 by Kittens and Tims trials.

9.0. 3 On a wider perspective, the preparations for Operation Antler took place against a rising wave of public concern about atmospheric and ground contamination caused by the major powers' nuclear testing programs. In 1958, this concern found expression

in a moratorium on all forms of nuclear testing, declared at Geneva and signed by the UK, the USA and the USSR. The test ban lasted from 1958 to 1961.

9.0. 4 Contemporary events included the Suez crisis and the Russian invasion of Hungary, both in 1956, and the UK's program of hydrogen bomb tests planned for 1957 and 1958 in the Pacific.

9.0. 5 Against this background, negotiations took place in 1956 and 1957 for the Antler series of tests. The outline of the proposed Antler program, sent to the Australian Government in


September 1956 for agreement in principle, was couched in general and unspecific terms. It gave very little detail beyond indicating that five tower-mounted tests were proposed. Australian consent was withheld, pending more detailed safety and

firing information. Nuclear contamination was becoming a political issue, and the public outcry after the Mosaic G2 explosion made the Australian Government sensitive to the political implications of the tests. In addition, the UK was known to be planning experiments with hydrogen bombs in the

Pacific and, although the terms of the Memorandum of Arrangements between the two countries stated that no hydrogen weapon would be tested at Maralinga, the Government was aware that in the prevailing climate of public opinion any failure to assure itself of the exact nature of the proposed tests could be electorally damaging.

9.0. 6 By March 1957, the Australian Government had still not received more details of the proposed tests. Information on yields and likely fallout was required by the Minister for Supply before any agreement in principle could be considered by Federal Cabinet. The UK replied that it considered the AWTSC the appropriate body to receive such information. Titterton did in

fact hold discussions with AW RE staff in the UK in March 1957, and was apparently given more details about the planned trials, although this information was not forwarded to the Australian Government.

9.0. 7 With the time factor becoming more critical, the UK Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations contacted Menzies with further details of the trials. He revealed that a maximum

of six rounds was planned (not five as mentioned in

September 1956), the final number being dependent upon other research, including British tests in the Pacific. Maximum yields expected ranged from explosions of about the size of the airburst at Kite in the Buffalo series to about that of Mosaic G2. Safety and fallout predictions would be based on the maximum expected yields, as had been the case at other trials. Three of the weapons were to be mounted on towers for detonation, and the other three suspended from balloons, which would mean very high clouds and fine particulate debris.

9.0. 8 As with the two Mosaic detonations, the Antler trials were designed to evaluate components used in thermonuclear weapons although neither series involved thermonuclear explosions. High yield lightweight warheads for ballistic

rockets and low yield lightweight weapons using plutonium-239 were tested, with particular emphasis being given to their triggering mechanisms.

9.0. 9 The Trials Director was C A Adams of the AW RE.

J T Tomblin, also of the AWRE, oversaw the scientific and safety groups, which included the Health Physics (Major W G McDougall), Decontamination (H Wells), Theoretical Predictions (R A Siddons) and Meteorology (H R Phillpot) Groups. The Health Physics Adviser for Operation Antler was G C Dale.


9.0. 10 The Safety Committee had the role of determining that firing conditions were safe and of co-ordinating 85 fallout measuring stations to determine fallout levels.

9.0. 11 McDougall, Group Leader Health Physics, was responsible for provision of all facilities necessary to meet the Maralinga Radiological Safety Regulations, imposition of health control over all contaminated areas, and maintenance of records of total doses incurred by personnel.

9.0. 12 The Services Commander was Air Commodore W P Sutcliffe, RAF. Under his command the RAF Task Group operated to provide all the air support required for the operation, including cloud tracking with Canberra and Varsity aircraft.

9.0. 13 Australian support for Operation Antler included provision of the Australian Radiation Detection Unit (ARDU) of 26 men, operating under the Radiation Measurements group leader,

G C Dale. The ARDU performed ground radiological survey work in the Alice road (Stuart Highway) area. Their work was

complemented by two Australian veterinary technicians who took sheep thyroid samples in the same area.

9.0. 14 Meteorological tasks were an Australian responsibility, supervised as at Operation Buffalo by Phillpot of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. He was assisted by a staff of

11 Australians.

9.0. 15 The Maralinga Range Support Unit (MARSU), comprising some 450 Australian and UK personnel, was commanded by the Range Commander, Colonel R Durance of the Australian Army. The MARSU was responsible for the logistic, engineering and administrative

support of the Range. During major trial periods the Range Commander acted under the operational command of the UK Services Commander.

9.0. 16 Health control imposed at Operation Buffalo, which included the monitoring and marking of dangerous areas and control of entry into those areas, was continued by the

Australian Health Physics Representative, Ο H Turner, and his staff during the inter-trial period. This arrangement was still in operation at the beginning of Operation Antler· For the duration of the trial Turner performed duties as Deputy Group

Leader to McDougall in the Health Physics Group.

9.0. 17 At a relatively late stage, the Antler program was much reduced and only three devices were exploded. The first, Antler 1, was tower-mounted and exploded at the Tadje site at 1435 hours CST on 14 September 1957. It produced a yield of

approximately 1 kt.

9.0. 18 Antler 2 was also tower-mounted. It was exploded at Biak site at 1000 hours CST on 25 September 1957 and produced a yield of approximately 6 kt.


9.0.19 Antler 3 was suspended from a balloon at an altitude of about 300 metres and exploded at the Taranaki site at 1615 hours GST on 9 October 1957. It produced a yield of approximately 25 kt.

9.0.20 The Antler explosions were the last of the major trials on Australian soil. Future British tests at Maralinga were known as minor trials, assessment tests and, from 1959, the Maralinga Experimental Programmes. These tests kept the Range in operation until 1963.

9.1 Criteria for Safe Firing

9.1.1 The contamination levels used for the Antler firing criteria were calculated by Dale in early 1957 ' ... in the light of new information obtained since the last weapon trials at Maralinga1 [RC 800, p.570907]. He defined four maximum

permissible levels:

1A is that level which will not give rise to any

observable effect on people living under "civilized" conditions, i.e. wearing footwear and some clothing.

A 1 is that level which will not give rise to any

observable effect on people living under “primitive" conditions, i.e. no footwear or clothing and sleeping in the open.

B is that level which may give rise to a slight

observable effect such as temporary slight sickness in a small percentage of "civilized" people if they had a low threshold of sensitivity to radiation.

B 1 is the corresponding level for "primitive" people.1

9.1.2 Only the external hazards were considered in the

re-analysis since the earlier report [RC 274, 0-41/55] had shown that the hazard due to external irradiation was greater than that due to inhalation and ingestion for a given concentration of fission product fallout.

9.1.3 Levels A and A 1 were based on an external gamma dose of 3 r in ten weeks or a beta dose of 15 rep in the same period. If only half the body area was exposed, a beta dose of 30 rep was used. Levels B and B 1 were based on an external gamma dose of

25 r in ten weeks or a beta dose of 250 rep in the same period. A dose of no more than 500 rep was allowed to the feet. These doses were suggested by Professor Mitchell, a medical consultant to the UKAEA.

9.1.4 The new values for the levels of contamination (mCi/m2) corresponding to the safety levels are given in Table 9.1.1; all values are corrected to H+l hour.


TABLE 9.1.1

Maximum Levels of Contamination (mCi/m2) for Exposure beginning at Various Times after Firing

Exposure Starting at 1 hour 6 hour 12 hour 18 hour 24 hour 60 hour

Level A 13 30 45 61 77 150

Level A 1 4.6 7.7 9.3 11 12 17

Level B 120 270 410 560 690 1350

Level B ' 62 98 120 140 150 220

Source: RC 800, p.570914

9.1 = 5 In May 1957 the safety responsibilities were divided between two committees, the newly formed National Radiation Advisory Committee (NRAC) and the reconstituted Australian Weapons Tests Safety Committee (AWTSC). Matters concerning the

effects of ionising radiation on the Australian community became the responsibility of the NRAC, and this included the

establishment of permissible levels of radiation resulting from fallout.

9.1.6 The AWTSC asked NRAC to consider the fallout levels that were to be applied for the Antler trials. On 1 August 1957, the AWTSC submitted to a meeting of NRAC a schedule of proposed dose limits derived from the ICRP recommendations for maximum permissible dose received over 10 weeks and to which the AWTSC

applied a safety factor of six. The dose limits for which approval was sought were a total external gamma dose of 0.5 r, an external beta dose of 2.5 rep, and an integrated internal dose, from all sources of radiation of 0.5 rep. Titterton also said in

the proposal to NRAC that

1 It may be stated at this point that the highest

integrated dose recorded in any inhabited area was a factor of 10 down on these limits and the doses

generally recorded were many orders of magnitude below them.' [RC 524, Note, p.13]

9.1.7 NRAC does not appear to have been provided with any supporting evidence for this statement, and it must be considered misleading in view of what is known about the levels of fallout following Totem 1, Mosaic G2 and Buffalo 1.

9.1.8 NRAC agreed to accept the dose levels proposed by the Safety Committee which, it should be noted, were much lower than the levels applied for the earlier tests and much lower than the


levels used by Dale to derive his revised 'Safety Levels for Contamination1 for the Antler tests.

9.1.9 NRAC was given no information about the fallout levels which would produce the suggested dose limits; presumably this was considered to be the responsibility of the AWTSC. However, there is no indication from the records that the dose limits approved by NRAC were ever applied to obtain fallout criteria for

the tests.

9.1.10 When it agreed to the Antler series of tests, Federal Cabinet did not specify any particular permitted levels, but the decision did include the following:

1 ...before any test is conducted, the Australian Safety Committee must be satisfied that the tests can be safely conducted without injury to the Australian people, their livestock or property.1 [RC 800, p.570814]

9.1.11 Despite the fact that the NRAC had approved the AWTSC proposal that the dose limits for fallout should be one sixth of those used by Dale, it seems clear that contamination levels used for the Antler 1 trial was based on the report by Dale. The Theoretical Predictions Group at Antler reported [RC 300, T4/58]


'For Round 1, safe firing conditions from the point of view of fallout hazards were held to exist when the predicted levels were such that half level A was not exceeded in any populated spot. For Rounds 2 and 3 the criterion was changed on the recommendation of the Australian Safety Committee, and the limiting level

then became that level which gave a total gamma dose of 500 mr. This represented a slight relaxation of the restrictions.'

9.1.12 The application of these criteria would meet the maximum gamma radiation dose limit that had been approved by the NRAC. However, the beta dose would exceed the approved level, and it seems likely that the internal dose would also be

exceeded. It is not clear why the Safety Committee adopted half Level A as the firing criterion rather than Level A 1 which is about a factor of two lower.

9.1.13 The AWTSC was very concerned about the effect of

rainfall on the contaminated cloud. Calculations had shown that high concentrations of radioactivity could conceivably be deposited by rain as far as 1000 miles (1600 km) from Ground Zero. Even though these calculations were considered 1 extremely

pessimistic1, firing was to be postponed if the forecast path of the cloud led into regions where rain was expected at the time the cloud would pass [RC 300, T4/58].


9.1.14 The AWTSC was also concerned about the fallout on Adelaide following the experience of the third Buffalo test and the consequent controversy. The Minutes of the AWTSC meeting on 24 August 1957 say

1 Following a general discussion on the programme, the Chairman mentioned the trouble created by Mr. Marston because of temperature inversion following the third Buffalo test. For this reason he said the Safety

Committee could not consent to a firing if there was the slightest chance of the cloud passing anywhere in the vicinity of Adelaide. He wished to make it quite clear that although an inversion created a political

and not a safety problem, the Safety Committee could not ignore the political implications.1 [RC 131]

Meteorological Services

9.1.15 Meteorological data for the Antler series were provided by the Australian Meteorology Group which consisted of five meteorologists: H R Phillpot (Group Leader), E A Mizon,

R L Southern, Μ H Lamond and J H Hobba, and six observers:

J McDermott, W Greening, D McKauge, J Tester, J Walsh and M Weaver [RC 555, T38/58, Vol.l·].

9.1.16 The Meteorological Group combined the meteorological data received from the Bureau of Meteorology with data collected specially for the trials. Additional radiosonde or radar wind ascents were made by balloon from mainland stations during the Antler series. A mobile meteorological unit was dispatched to Mt Lindsay to do surface synoptic readings and upper wind balloon

ascents. Four Shackleton aircraft were used to make

meteorological reconnaissance flights over the oceans to the south of the continent. There were also various aircraft sorties to determine wind and weather from Maralinga and Edinburgh [RC 555, T38/58, Vol.l].

9.1.17 In spite of the resources used to obtain meteorological data for the Antler trials, the forecasting errors on Operation Antler were larger than those on Operation Buffalo. It was suggested that this was due to the greater variability of the

atmospheric circulation in the spring of 1957 than was

experienced during Buffalo [RC 555, T38/58, Vol.l, p·64].

Prediction of Fallout

9.1.18 The Theoretical Predictions Group used data provided by the Australian Meteorological Group to predict both the height of the cloud and the medium range fallout pattern. The members of the Theoretical Predictions Group for Antler were R A Siddons and


D Sams of AWRE, G H Gilbert of the Defence Research Board, Ottawa, and J K Mackenzie of the Air Ministry, London [RC 300, T4/58].

Antler Round 1 (Tadje)

9.1.19 The first round of the Antler series was an expected 0.8 kt explosion mounted on a 100 foot tower at the Tadje site. Standby commenced on 12 September 1957, but was cancelled because the winds at lower levels were 1...dangerously light and there was a most marked northerly component in the upper winds at about

7000 feet1 [RC 555, T38/58, Vol.l, p.23]. The second attempt at firing, on 13 September, was cancelled when the Safety Committee declared the conditions unacceptable because of the rainout risk in South Australia and Victoria [RC 131].

9.1.20 The device was fired on the third attempt at 1435 hours CST on 14 September 1957 with a yield of 0.93 kt. The

meteorological conditions were considered 1 almost ideal1 because a strong inversion at 10 000 feet limited the cloud height and the winds below this height carried the cloud away from the rain areas to the east and south-east of the continent [RC 555, T38/58, Vol.l, p .43].

9.1.21 The Theoretical Predictions Group had predicted that the top of the cloud would be between 8300 feet and 9000 feet with the base between 5300 feet and 5700 feet. The actual cloud reached

[RC 300, 9500 feet T4/58]. and the base of the cloud was at 7000 feet

9.1.22 Fallout predictions were made for both the probable yield of 0.8 kt and the maximum probable yield of 2 kt, and maps were produced showing the half Level A contour. The centre line of the fallout pattern was predicted to lie in the direction

035 degrees and to extend for 80 or 120 miles (120 or 192 km) for 0.8 and 2 kt yields respectively.

9.1.23 The three members of the AWTSC present for the Tadje round were Titterton, Dwyer and Stevens, who arrived at Maralinga on 11 September [RC 527].

9.1.24 The cloud was tracked by aircraft and the last contact was 0130 hours CST on 15 September at a position of 25 degrees 42 minutes S, 133 degrees 36 minutes E [RC 555, T38/58, Vol.l, p. 41; RC 437, Table 2]. At the time, the cloud density was so

low that no further tracking was attempted.

Antler Round 2 (Biak)

9.1.25 The second Antler round was an expected 6 kt explosion on a 100 foot high aluminium tower at the Biak site. The first


day of standby was 21 September and firing sequences were begun and cancelled on both 21 and 24 September [RC 300, T4/58; RC 555, T38/58]. On both occasions, the problem was that the cloud would be moving over areas where rain was forecast [RC 555, T38/58, Vol.l, p·30]. AWTSC members Titterton, Dwyer and J H Martin

arrived for the second round on 21 September [RC 527]. They vetoed the firing on 24 September.

9.1.26 Forecasts made on 24 September suggested that

favourable winds would occur during the morning of 25 September, but that the situation would be short-lived. However fog was also forecast, probably clearing by 1000 hours CST. In fact the fog formed and cleared between 0300 and 0330 hours CST. Light

and easterly winds below 5000 feet were forecast, but it was decided to accept the probable contamination of the Taranaki site and go ahead and fire at 1000 hours CST on 25 September 1957.

9.1.27 The top of the cloud was predicted to rise to 14 600 feet and its base to 9100 feet. The fallout for a 6 kt explosion was predicted to lie in a north-easterly direction with the maximum contamination beyond 60 miles (96 km) expected to give a dose less than 500 mr. For a 10 kt explosion the 500 mr contour extended to 130 miles (208 km). The line of maximum predicted

fallout was directed towards Mabel Creek and Coober Pedy [RC 300, T4/58] .

9.1.28 After the explosion, the top of the cloud rose to

24 000 feet and the bottom to 17 500 feet. The yield was

5.67 kt, close to the expected yield. The discrepancy between the predicted and observed cloud height was probably due to condensation. A pre-trial Canberra flight to measure humidity was cancelled because of the forecast fog, hence it was not possible to calculate the possibility of condensation.

9.1.29 A temperature inversion between 6000 and 7000 feet trapped a small cloud at this level. The marked increase in wind speed between 12 000 and 15 000 feet meant that shortly after the firing, the stem of the cloud was stretched out between the base

and the rapidly moving upper portion [RC 555, T38/58, Vol.l, p.52].

9.1.30 The much greater height of the cloud meant that the levels of fallout would be greater than predicted at intermediate distances. A calculation immediately after firing using the observed height of the cloud predicted that the fallout from a

6 kt explosion would exceed 500 mr out to a distance of about 150 miles (240 km), only about 25 miles (40 km) short of Mabel Creek.

9.1.31 If the height of the cloud had been correctly predicted prior to firing, the calculated fallout pattern would not have satisfied the AWTSC criteria for firing. The Theoretical Predictions Group knew from previous experience the difficulties

of predicting cloud height and it should have been aware of the possibility of the cloud being higher than expected.


Antler Round 3 (Taranaki)

9.1.32 The third Antler round was an expected 30 kt explosion suspended 1000 feet above the ground by a system of balloons. AWTSC members, Titterton, Dwyer and Stevens, arrived at Maralinga on 5 October [RC 527]. The first day of standby was declared on

7 October, but the forecast was not acceptable to begin the firing sequence until 9 October. The upper level winds had been suitable but the winds below 1000 feet had a northerly component which could have resulted in contaminating the test area [RC 300, T4/58, p.20].

9.1.33 From a meteorological viewpoint, this round presented a difficult problem of timing. The forecast weak cold front was expected to make the direction of the low level winds favourable, but it was also clear that the upper winds were deteriorating at the same time [RC 437, T38/58, p .59].

9.1.34 The final predicted fallout showed that the expected contamination at many of the sites, including Breakaway, Marcoo and Mina, would exceed half Level B . This was considered acceptable as it was the last round of the series. The 500 mr

contour only extended about 17 miles (27 km) from Ground Zero in an easterly direction [RC 300, T4/58, Figure 11]. The relatively limited extent of the fallout was due to the height of the explosion, which meant that the fireball would not contact the ground. The height of the cloud was predicted to be 28 300 feet at the top and 18 700 feet at the base.

9.1.35 The weapon was fired at 1615 hours CST on 9 October and had a yield of 26.6 kt. The observed height of the cloud was 23 000 feet at the top and 15 000 feet at the bottom.

Condensation was predicted and observed at the top of the cloud.



(a) The Australian Government made no decision on the

permitted level of contamination from fallout of the Antler explosions.

(b ) Although the NRAC approved permitted levels of dose resulting from fallout, it was left to the Safety Committee to determine the level of contamination which would give those doses.

(c) It appears that the contamination levels accepted by the Safety Committee met the external gamma dose limit approved by NRAC. The criteria adopted for the Antler tests allowed about double the contamination levels approved by the Government for

the Buffalo series the year before.


9.2 Fallout Monitoring

9.2.1 Radioactivity in the cloud for each of the Antler tests was monitored about 30 minutes after the burst using Canberra aircraft fitted with several types of equipment to collect particulate and gaseous samples [RC 449, T24/58].

9.2.2 The Australian Radiation Detection Unit (ARDU) used four specially equipped Land Rovers to sample and measure fallout on the road to Alice Springs. The Land Rovers were based at Mt Clarence and were directed by radio to go to the fallout area predicted by the Theoretical Predictions Group. Sticky paper

collectors and cascade impactor s were set up at each of seven locations across the expected path of the cloud. The sticky papers and filters from the impactors were changed five times during the expected transit time of the cloud. After the passage

of the cloud, a ground survey was carried out using type 1390 gamma survey meters and type 1320 beta-gamma monitors [RC 436, T44/58].

9.2.3 The ARDU was also organised to collect samples of soil, herbage and sheep thyroids. Sheep thyroids were to be collected before round 1, after each round, and again on five occasions in the two weeks after round 3.

9.2.4 After the cloud had passed, an aerial survey was

carried out using improved type 1398A equipment fitted in Vickers Varsity aircraft and Westland Whirlwind helicopters. The improvements consisted of a better recorder, standardised detector crystals and more convenient layout of the equipment in

the aircraft. Despite a requirement after Buffalo for a more accurate radio-altimeter, the same type of unit was supplied for Antler, and it was still not sufficiently reliable [RC 27 2, T40/58].

9.2.5 The radiation detectors were calibrated shortly after each burst by comparing dose rates determined by the aircraft with the dose rates measured by a ground survey. Both surveys were made along a length of road which crossed the fallout pattern. For all three rounds there was a reasonable agreement

between the aircraft and ground survey results. As soon as the distant fallout had been deposited, the aircraft surveyed the fallout by flying across the pattern at various distances from Ground Zero. The spacing between the flights across the fallout was about 5 miles (8 km) out to 60 miles (96 km) and then

increased to 10 miles (16 km) at further distances [RC 272, T40/58].

9.2.6 The distant fallout from the Antler tests was monitored by the AWTSC using sticky papers at 85 stations around Australia. At 15 of the stations a second sticky paper film was exposed to determine the reproducibility of the sticky paper method. In


addition, at six stations open stainless steel pots were used alongside the sticky paper trays to compare the two methods of collecting deposited fallout.

Fallout from Antler Round 1 (Tadje)

9.2.7 The ground survey party was told that the fallout would occur between 20 and 40 miles (32 and 64 km) east of Emu.

However the fallout occurred between 14 miles (22 km) east and 22 miles (35 km) west of Emu. The error in the prediction

corresponded to an error of 15 degrees in the direction of the fallout plume. Because of the discrepancy, the ground stations were set up at the wrong locations and no sticky paper or cascade impactor samples were collected. Ground deposition across the

fallout pattern was measured using hand-held type 1390 gamma survey meters and type 1320 beta-gamma monitors [RC 436, T44/58].

9.2.8 The maximum contamination along the Emu-Mabel Creek road was 12 mCi/m2 ( corrected to H+l hour, and this occurred about 3 miles (5 km) east of Emu [RC 436, T44/58, Figure 2]. This contamination was between half Level A (15 mCi/m^) and

Level A'. The contaminated section of the road was about 93 miles (149 km) from Ground Zero and well within the area considered by the Safety Committee to be uninhabited. Hence it seems that the fallout contamination from round 1 would have met the half Level A criterion for inhabited locations.

9.2.9 The aerial survey using Varsity aircraft was carried out to a distance of 120 miles (192 km). The distance from Ground Zero to the peak value of the fallout was eight miles. The dose rate, corrected to H+24 hours and a height of one metre, was less than 2 mr/h beyond 40 miles (64 km). At 40 miles, the

width of the pattern, down to a dose rate of 0.1 mr/h, was about 12 miles (19 km). The fallout pattern was fairly regular and relatively free of local concentrations, and this was thought to be due to the strength of the lower winds [RC 272, T40/58].

9.2.10 The results of the aerial survey for the Antler 1 test showed up two sources of error which could have been important for earlier rounds. One scan was flown at a height of 245 foot, rather than the 310 foot flown for most of the other scans, and

the peak dose rate from the 245 foot scan was significantly less than scans on either side. Cater argued that the problem was caused by using the radio-altimeter at a height different from that for which it had been calibrated [RC 272, T40/58].

Alternatively, the low reading on this scan could indicate a real decrease in the dose rate at that location.

9.2.11 The other source of error was due to the temperature dependence of the equipment. The temperature of the equipment during the flight was different from that experienced during ground calibration. The thermometer attached to the equipment


did not work during the flight. Hence it was not possible to recalibrate the equipment after the flight. The problem became apparent when the results for the different sensitivity detectors were compared [RC 272, T40/58].

9.2.12 The results of the continental sticky paper survey showed that the fallout levels were low, the maximum was 1.21 microcuries per square metre at Alice Springs, and most of the fallout occurred to the north-east and north-west of Maralinga. Small amounts of fallout, close to the detection

limits were detected in Adelaide and Melbourne. No fallout was detected along the east coast (Figure 9.2.1). The results from the sticky paper survey were published in the Australian Journal of Science in September 1959 [RC 547, Dwyer et al. 1959]. The AWTSC characterised the fallout over continental Australia as

trivial [RC 527].

9.2.13 No rain was reported over the northern half of the continent over which the cloud would have moved [RC 437, T38/58].

Fallout from Antler Round 2 (Biak)

9.2.14 The cloud from Antler 2 was tracked by aircraft at two levels. The top of the cloud at about 24 000 feet was followed to a distance of about 200 nautical miles, 4 hours 20 minutes after the explosion. At this time the cloud was moving on a bearing of 070 degrees from Maralinga. The lower part of the

cloud, at about 14 000 feet, was followed past Marree, a distance of about 350 nautical miles on a bearing of 090 degrees. This part of the cloud passed Marree about eight hours after the explosion [RC 437, T38/58, Figure 17, Table 4].

9.2.15 The trajectories from the last reported positions were estimated using the reported upper winds. These showed that the cloud at 25 000 feet would have crossed the east coast near Fraser Island, and the cloud at 15 000 feet near Coffs Harbour.

Lower level parts of the cloud would have been carried more to the north: at 10 000 feet the trajectory crossed the coast near Cairns [RC 437, T38/58, Figure 18].

9.2.16 The ground survey party on the Alice road was told that the fallout would occur between 30 miles (48 km) north of Ingomar and Mabel Creek. The survey after the event showed that the fallout was somewhat south of the predicted path, but

sufficiently close for the sticky paper, air filter and cascade samplers to collect fallout. The maximum fallout from the gamma dose rate survey occurred about 10 miles (16 km) north of Ingomar where the fallout was about 4.7 mCi/m^» corrected to H+l hour

[RC 436, T44/58, Figure 4]. This was less than had been

predicted at this distance of 180 miles (288 km) from Ground Zero [RC 300, T4/58].


FIGURE 9.2.1

The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Antler 1 Test. The contours show the total amount of radioactivity recorded by the sticky paper collectors. The squares show the locations of the fallout stations.

Antler 1


■ 1.0-10

i l 0-1-10

[ i 0.01-0 1

l | <0.01

D a t a f r o m D w y e r et al. 1 9 5 9

9.2.17 The results from the sticky paper collectors set up along the Alice road were low compared with the other

measurements of ground deposition taken at the same time. It was suggested by Beaver that the problem could be due to the

non-uniform deposition of fallout over a small area [RC 436, T44/58, p.19]. The sticky paper collectors only sampled a small area and it was probably unlikely that the paper would collect one of the few large particles responsible for much of the ground deposition at about 200 miles (320 km). Measurements with a type

1320 beta-gamma monitor showed that the count rate could vary by a factor of three over a small area [RC 436, T44/58, p . 19]. Beaver concluded that the sticky paper method of measuring deposition was 1 totally inadequate because of divergencies of

levels over quite a small area1 . It is not clear how important the problem was at greater distances.

9.2.18 The results from the cascade impactors set up along the Alice road were used to estimate the lung dose to people at the locations where the stations were set up. The lung dose was found to be much less important than the external dose from the

deposited fallout [RC 436, T44/58, p.19].

9.2.19 The aerial survey of the fallout by the Varsity

aircraft showed that the fallout pattern followed an easterly path that passed to the south of Coober Pedy. The fallout pattern was not symmetrical; the maximum fallout occurred close to the southern edge of the fallout pattern, and the

contamination decreased rapidly to the south and only slowly to the north. The asymmetry was present from Ground Zero to the limit of the aerial survey at a distance of 190 miles (304 km) to the east. The distance from Ground Zero to the peak value of contamination was less than one mile [RC 272, T40/58].

9.2.20 The firing criterion for this round was that the total gamma dose in inhabited areas should not exceed 500 mr · The fallout on the Alice road occurred about eight hours after the explosion. For exposure that commenced six hours after the

explosion, Dale showed that contamination at 33 mCi/m^ (0f h +1 hour fission products) would give a gamma dose of 500 mr. Hence the maximum value of contamination reported from the Alice road survey would give a gamma dose of about 71 mr, a factor of seven

less than the 500 mr criterion.

9.2.21 The air survey data were given in terms of dose rate corrected to H+24 hours. Contamination producing a dose rate of 1.4 mr/h at 24 hours would give a total dose from eight hours to infinity of 500 mr. The dose rates obtained by the aerial survey were all less than this value at distances beyond 100 miles

(160 km) from Ground Zero. Hence the criterion that the gamma doses should be less than 500 mr at inhabited locations appears to have been satisfied for the Biak explosion.


The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Antler 2 Test. The contours show the total amount of radioactivity recorded by the sticky paper collectors. The squares show the locations of the fallout stations.

FIGURE 9.2.2

Antler 2



1.0-1 0

j 0 1"1' 0 _ J 0 01-0.1

J <0.01

D a t a f r o m D w y e r et al. 1 9 5 9


FIGURE 9.2.3

Antler 3

The Distribution of Fallout over Australia from the Antler 3 Test. The contours show the total amount of radioactivity recorded by the sticky paper collectors. The squares show the locations of the fallout stations.



0 .1- 1.0

0 .01- 0.1

< 0.01

D a t a f r o m D w y e r 1 9 5 9

9.2.22 The only rain recorded during passage of the cloud over the continent was 14 points at Coolangatta [RC 437, T38/58, Figure 20].

9.2.23 The Safety Committee's sticky paper samplers showed that fallout had occurred over most of the continent to the north and east of Maralinga (Figure 9.2.2). The maximum fallout was at Oodnadatta where 14 mCi/m2 (corrected to mid-collection time,

2100 hours CST) was deposited on the 25 September, the day that the round was fired [RC 547, Dwyer et al. 1959].

Fallout from Antler Round 3 (Taranaki)

9.2.24 The Antler 3 round was suspended from balloons at a height of about 1000 feet. After the explosion, the cloud was tracked by aircraft, towards the east. The last contact with the

top of the cloud (19 000 to 25 000 feet) was 11.5 hours after firing, when the cloud was near Bourke. The lower part of the cloud at 15 000 feet would have crossed the coast near Port Macquarie [RC 437, T38/58, p.58].

9.2.25 The fallout measured by the ground survey team along the Alice road, about 180 miles (288 km) from Ground Zero, was greater than predicted:

1 The fallout level predictions were seriously wrong at both close and long ranges, overestimating in the former case and underestimating in the latter. Fortunately, in this case the error had no serious consequences.* 1 [RC 300, T4/58, p.22]

9.2.26 In fact no stations for air sampling were set up for this round along the North-South road because the theoretical prediction was that there would be no measurable fallout. The ground survey using the gamma and beta monitors showed that the maximum fallout on the North-South road was 6.9 mCi/m2 (corrected to H+l hour) at Ealbara, 22 miles (35 km) north of Tarcoola. A survey along the road to the west from Ealbara to Mulgathing

found levels up to 10.3 mCi/m2. This value exceeded the Level A ’ for people living under primitive conditions but it still satisfied the 500 mr total gamma dose criterion adopted by the Safety Committee.

9.2.27 The aerial survey of the fallout showed very little fallout close to Ground Zero. The close-in fallout was much less than expected [RC 100, T4/58, p.22]. The distance from Ground Zero to the peak value of contamination was 32 miles (61 km) · Apart from the low contour values close to Ground Zero, the pattern was very much like the previous patterns [RC 272, T40/58]. The survey showed that the gamma dose rate, corrected

to H+24 hours, exceeded 1.4 mr/h out to a distance of 171 miles (274 km), well into the region considered by the AWTSC to be inhabited. The dose of 1.4 mr/h at 24 hours corresponds to the


total gamma dose of 500 mr used by the AWTSC as the criterion for firing. The fallout pattern passed to the north of Mulgathing where the 24-hour dose rate was 0.4 mr/h.

9.2.28 Although none of the homesteads received gamma doses exceeding 500 mr this was a matter of luck, because the levels of fallout did exceed the standard set by the AWTSC for the

inhabited zone.

9.2.29 The AWTSC's sticky paper samplers showed that the fallout occurred over most of the eastern half of the continent (Figure 9.2.3). The highest level of fallout was at Bourke where 6.2 microcuries per square metre was deposited on 10 October. Fallout from this round also fell on Adelaide, Melbourne and

Sydney which received 0.18, 0.35 and 0.16 microcuries per square metre respectively [RC 547, Dwyer et al. 1959].

9.2.30 Rain did fall in Victoria and southern New South Wales during the passage of the cloud but the closest rain was about 100 miles south (160 km) of the nearest forecast trajectory [T38/58, p.59].

Results Applicable to Fallout from All Rounds

9.2.31 Twenty-seven rain water samples were collected for the days on which rain fell during the Antler series. The background rate in the detector corresponded to about 1 pCi/m and no activity above this level was detected [RC 547, Dwyer et al.

1959] . '

9.2.32 After each Antler round, thyroids were collected from sheep which had been grazing in areas close to the passage of the main radioactive cloud. The thyroid tissue was found to contain iodine-131, iodine-133 and xenon-131m, a decay product of

iodine-131. A total of 73 sheep were slaughtered to provide thyroid glands for the program. The highest level of iodine-131 in the thyroid glands was 43 nCi/g for a sheep from Victory Downs following the first round. Dwyer et al. [RC 547] refer to Scott Russell et al. [1956] who found that a mean thyroid burden of 3000 nCi/g over 14 days caused no detectable biological damage

to sheep.



(a) For rounds 1 and 2 of Antler, the measured

contamination from fallout satisfied the criteria set by the Safety Committee for rounds 1 and 2. For round 3 the fallout at the edge of the 1 inhabited1 zone exceeded the limit of a total

gamma dose of 500 mr.


(b) The extent of the fallout was predicted reasonably well for the two tower bursts (rounds 1 and 2), but the intermediate distance fallout from the air burst (round 3) was seriously


(c) There was no overlap of the fallout patterns beyond a distance of 35 miles from each Ground Zero.

9.3 Safety of Aborigines

9.3.1 On 4 November 1963, the following report appeared in the Daily Telegraph (Sydney):

'3 Die of Thirst and Starvation

'PERTH, Sun. - An aborigine, his wife and their 10-year old son have died from thirst and starvation in remote desert country.

‘They died north of Rawlinna, near the South Australian border.

'Three other aborigines survived a trek of more than 100 miles and are being cared for at Cundeelee. They are the man's second wife, her three-year-old son and a 12-year-old girl.

'Native Welfare Commissioner Mr. F. E. Gare said in Perth tonight a patrol from Kalgoorlie was searching for 11 other aborigines.'

9.3.2 This report was forwarded by the Establishment Security Officer to the Range Commander at Maralinga with the remarks

'Copy for your information. The paragraph marked is of interest and may explain some of the un-accounted native tracks sighted by Senior Constable T. Murray of late.' [RC 819, p.2537]

9.3.3 This incident occurred after the Antler series of tests. However, the people involved were in the Maralinga Prohibited Zone during these tests. It is now clear that they were also there for the Buffalo series. They heard the bombs and felt the tremors. They feared for the safety of their lives and their lands. Yet they remained uncontacted by those charged with ensuring their safety and welfare.

9.3.4 Chapter 8 showed how Aboriginal people were placed at risk by official ignorance, incompetence, cynicism and, in the face of repeated warnings, preference for a 'need to not know'.

This pattern continued through the Antler series and beyond.

3 68

And, confronted with the growing opposition to the nuclear tests, those in charge compounded the problem by resorting to a stance which became increasingly hypocritical.

9.3.5 The Aboriginal deaths which were 'of interest * 1 are taken up again later. Here it is necessary to examine the

background to Aboriginal safety and the steps which were supposedly taken to ensure it.

Hypocrisy and Lies

9.3.6 Among the opponents of the nuclear test program in Australia were people who argued that it had had and was having a detrimental impact on Aborigines. A leading voice among this group was W Grayden who had begun asking questions on the matter

in the Western Australian Parliament in August 1956 [RC 819, p.795]. In October of that year, Grayden was elected Chairman of the Select Committee Appointed to Inquire into Native Welfare Conditions in the Laverton-Warburton Range Area.

9.3.7 The Report of the Select Committee was presented to the Parliament on 12 December. The Report said:

1 The Committee is of the opinion that with the

interference with the natives' natural way of life which has already taken place and the fact that that interference must increase with progress in the area and in the light of all the other facts associated with

the issue, the people of this State can no longer continue to evade responsibility for the natives as a whole in this area. It is the view of the Committee that the number and plight of these people makes welfare work on their behalf an urgent necessity. Members of the Committee find it hard to visualise that

any people, anywhere in the world, could be more in need of such assistance than the natives in the inland area of Western Australia who were investigated· Their immediate requirements are adequate water, food and medical attention. Subsequent welfare work must be

carried out on a strictly scientific basis since the society, language and customs of these people are too complex to admit of a fumbling uninformed approach to their problems. The first requirement, it is

emphasised, is the acceptance by the people of Western Australia of responsibility for those natives. [RC 819, p.1104]

9.3.8 It went on to say that

'The necessity for keeping the Maralinga Testing Ground free from natives has interfered with the normal way of

life of the natives who frequented the area east and


south of the Warburton Mission, inasmuch as a large area of their tribal grounds is now denied them.' [RC 819, p.1106]

9.3.9 The Report provoked a great deal of public comment and criticism. Both the Australian and UK Governments faced Parliamentary questions and both prepared their defences.

9.3.10 On 21 January 1957 the Commonwealth Relations Office cabled the UK High Commissioner in Australia:

1 The only information we have on the alleged plight of the aborigines in Western Australia is in brief press reports according to which, as a result of a recent report by a West Australian Government Parliamentary Committee, a delegation from West Australian Government

is calling on Mr. Beale this week to ask for an

immediate grant of £A50,000 to help aborigines "living under the worst conditions in the world". These reports all associate aborigines' plight with development of Maralinga testing ground which is said

to have encroached on their tribal areas. But it is not clear whether this has been chief cause or merely a recent contributory factor. Nor is it clear whether claim for financial assistance is well-grounded; one

report quotes West Australian Commissioner for Native Affairs as saying "Committee's report is grossly exaggerated and is political rather than practical".

'It would be most helpful to us in preparing draft reply to know what attitude Australian Government are proposing to take to the request for assistance and how far they consider Maralinga development is to blame.

'Even if claim is accepted and Maralinga is thought to have been principal cause, it does not seem to be the sort of claim for compensation for which we should accept liability under Clause 11 of Maralinga

Memorandum of Arrangements (which confines claims to compensation for death or injury or damage to property due to tests carried out on the site). Our present inclination is, therefore, to suggest that Under Secretary of State gives negative answer but we should welcome your views on whether, in the circumstances, there are any strong political reasons for considering making some gesture.' [RC 559, p .177]

9.3.11 Meanwhile, back in Australia, Beale had been facing criticism and, in his attempts to counter it, was making some extraordinary statements:

'Mr. Brady (W.A. Minister for Native Affairs) is now reported as saying, in advance of our conference, "natives have been driven from their country by the


establishment of the Maralinga testing ground" and natives in the Woomera Rocket Range area, which by the way is a different place altogether, are "told to get out and keep moving".

'I am informed by my officers, including patrol officers on the spot, that these statements are simply not true. No natives have been driven out of the

Maralinga area and no natives in the Woomera Rocket Range area have been told to get out and keep moving.

'Tribal grounds have not been denied to the natives. The area over which watch is kept for possible native movements during the test period is very arid and is, in fact, uninhabited. No natives have been found there and, therefore, none have been interfered with.'

[RC 800, p.570169]

9.3.12 The British seized upon Beale's statement. On

28 January 1957, the Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO) wrote to the UK High Commissioner in Australia

'...Mr Beale said that no Aborigines had been driven out of Maralinga or Woomera (rocket range) areas and that any suggestion that Federal Government was in any way cause of their reported condition was "absurd".'

[RC 559, p.185]

9.3.13 The CRO then added a statement which, for sheer

brazenness and insensitivity, equals Butement's reference to a 'handful of natives' (this, though, is not surprising. Their top priority, too, was the 'affairs... of the British Commonwealth of Nations'). The statement reads

' The conditions of life of the Aborigines and the prevalence of malnutrition and disease among them have existed for centuries and recent developments, of which Maralinga is only one, in Western Australia have made

little or no difference to them.' [RC 559, p.185]

9.3.14 Any statement made by any person about the health of these Aborigines centuries ago must at best be a guess. What is known, however, is that when they were contacted by white explorers during the latter part of the last century the

Aborigines were described as 'suffering no obvious deprivations in an environment depressingly inhospitable to Europeans'. In addition, Professor Annette Hamilton, one of Australia's leading authorities on Central Australian Aborigines, gave evidence to

the Royal Commission that

' Most of the adults, at least those reared in the traditional environment, are in excellent health. This is not surprising in that such people are in any case a survivor population. They are rarely ill. are


extraordinarily strong, capable of great feats of exertion and endurance, with excellent teeth and good hearing.' [RC 586, p .2]

9.3.15 Even the Australian authorities found the British statement too much to take:

1 For wider international reasons Australian Government are most anxious to stress domestic aspect of this matter. They hope, therefore, that this point will be borne in mind in answering any supplementaries. They would also prefer no repeat no mention to be made of

long-standing conditions of aboriginals mentioned in last paragraph of your telegram.' [RC 559, p.188]

9.3.16 Beale continued to run into the type of trouble

experienced by those who try to counter criticism with dogmatic replies based on false assumptions and inaccurate information. For his January Press Statement (see para.9.3.11), he had attempted to get information from the Native Patrol Officers. MacDougall was not available and the information came to him from

the inexperienced Macaulay via Flannery. Replying to the question ' Any knowledge of natives frequenting area east and south of Warburtons?', Macaulay said that 1MacDougall had some

ideas on this. Suggest contact be made with him1. MacDougall could not be contacted so Flannery simply searched the security files containing information on Aborigines during the Buffalo series and, not surprisingly, concluded

1 ... no nomadic natives sighted within vicinity during intense aerial and ground surveys. All nearby natives at stations and tribal natives in outer areas accounted

for by range overseer Woomera, Native Patrol Officers, and Missionaries.1 [RC 819, p.1133]

9.3.17 Beale was contradicted by Cook in a letter to Brown of the WRE (25 January 1957 ) when he wrote

1MacDougall was quoted as having visited the Warburton Mission about April/May 1956 when he told the missioner and natives to restrict native walkabouts to the East and South of Warburton area.' [RC 819, p.1146]

9.3.18 But still Beale bumbled on. In April 1957 the

Protestant Council of New South Wales passed a resolution referring to the removal of Aborigines from their home grounds in order to provide nuclear testing sites. A letter concerning this was passed to Beale from Mr Paul Hasluck, the Minister for Territories. Replying to Hasluck on 1 May 1957, Beale wrote

'No tribal aborigines are located adjacent to the Woomera Rocket Range, nor in the prohibited area which extends in a North Westerly direction from Woomera. The only aborigines in this area are those employed on pastoral properties.


'So far as the Maralinga site is concerned, the

northern limit of its prohibited area passes through the southern portion of the Central Aboriginal Reserve. However, this dividing line was decided upon after consultation with the South Australian Aboriginal Welfare authorities, and the area itself, being so arid

and waterless, is not frequented by aborigines - reports from our Native Welfare Officers have confirmed that natives do not use this area.

1 The Giles Meteorological Station occupies only a small area of less than 50 acres, and is situated in the Central Aboriginal Reserve in West Australia. It was sited very carefully away from aboriginal watering places and areas where game might be expected to be

found. Since the commencement of operations, a native Welfare Officer, accredited to the West Australian Aboriginal Department, has been stationed there and has

carefully controlled any contacts between white officers and aborigines.

1 From the foregoing you will see that not one aborigine has been moved by the Commonwealth from normal hunting grounds and you may care to advise the Protestant Council of N.S.W. accordingly.1 [RC 819, pp.1275-6]

9.3.19 Of all the falsehoods in this statement, that regarding Giles is most apparent. The station was sited there because it was a watering place. It was sited there against the vehement protests of MacDougall who predicted its impact on Aboriginal people. Far from being unused by Aborigines, photographs of

Aboriginal people were taken there in May 1956 [RC 819,

pp.675-6]. As for the 1 carefully controlled... contacts between white officers and aborigines,' Cook's letter to Brown (para.9.3.17) stated

'Grayden was informed at Giles by members of works party constructing the station that workmen had broken cohabitation law and had broken tribal laws in being present at and photographing native birth.' [RC 819, p.1147]

Ground Patrols for Antler

9.3.20 It is against the background of increasing dishonesty and hypocrisy that the search patrols for Antler must be assessed. It is difficult to see how such a background would not have affected the morale of the patrol officers, especially MacDougall.


9.3.21 For the Antler series, co-ordination of the search program was the responsibility of J Weightman from the South Australian Aborigines Protection Board. Weightman said of MacDougall

1MacDougall was a good bushman. He related well to the Pit jant jat jara people and picked up some of their language. He felt his role was to articulate the interests of these people.

1 He was cynical about the Department of Supply and was critical of various of its policies towards these people including the making of roads through and the refusal to limit access to the North West Reserve. He

felt unable to convince the Woomera hierarchy that these people had a point of view.

'I felt that with the resources we were given, we had a hopeless task to guarantee that all Aborigines were kept out of the prohibited area. I am sure that was MacDougall1s view. He saw himself pretty much as a

lone figure.

1 He said that he used to have to take a lot of officers of the Department of Supply from Ministerial level out on bush trips. He thought that was a bit of a joke. 1 [RC 409, p.2]

9.3.22 Given the limited resources available to them,

Weightman and MacDougall appear to have done the best they could on the ground patrols. It must be pointed out, though, that for MacDougall this did involve turning Aboriginal people back from their tribal country. This was confirmed by William Wongkati in his evidence to the Royal Commission [Trans., p.7197].

9.3.23 MacDougall wrote of his September patrol that he located and turned back 27 people from Ernabella Mission whom he came upon in the Mt Lindsay area. He also reported another 150 people concluding initiation ceremonies at Betty's Well and added that he saw no sign 1 of the natives known to be living in the area west of the Emu-Giles road1 [RC 819, pp.1514-15].

9.3.24 William Wongkati accompanied MacDougall as his guide on one of the Antler patrols. He told the Royal Commission that after one of the explosions MacDougall was anxious to move camp when material was found to have been deposited on the pannikins

[Trans., p.7200]. This incident occurred near Coffin Hill, close to the prohibited zone [Trans., p.7201j.

9.3.25 The hapless Macaulay appears to have contributed as little to the Antler patrols as he did to those for Buffalo. In fact, he spent the test period stuck on a rock:


' - t never became involved because the area through which I had to pass became impassable because of heavy rains and I sat through that test period, not bogged, but

sitting on a little rocky outcrop... I was unable to move for at least 3 or 4 days but I estimate my chances of having got through would not have been good for 10 to 12 days. By that stage it was too late.'

[Trans., pp.1592-3]

9.3.26 The story of the ground patrols for Antler has

depressingly similar characteristics to the Buffalo fiasco. Weightman had been appointed to the South Australian Aborigines Protection Board only three months previously and had no experience of Aborigines in the area. Despite this, Bartlett was

again issuing such statements as

1 In order that my Board should be assured that every care is being taken as regards any aborigines that may be affected during the forthcoming tests at Maralinga, a Welfare Officer of this Department has been attached

to the Weapons Research Establishment at Maralinga.1 [RC 819, p .1483]

9.3.27 Macaulay was again immobilised. MacDougall was growing increasingly cynical, disillusioned and isolated. Those immediately responsible for the safety of Aborigines, such as the Range Commander and the Trials Director, and those to whom they

were ultimately answerable in Government, continued to issue unfounded platitudes that all was well with the Aboriginal people. And through it all, people remained uncontacted and unwarned on the western section of the Prohibited Zone.

Air Patrols for Antler

9.3.28 Weightman was responsible for co-ordinating the entire search program for Antler, including the air patrols [Trans., pp.2727-8, 2743, 6655]. Despite his lack of experience in the area, he was described in the Air Task Group Operation Order

No. 1/57 as capable of giving 1 a specialist briefing on locating aborigines and on the search area' [RC 819, p .1475].

9.3.29 The Air Task Group Operation Order provided for three forms of search:

Search 1A 1 : A patrol by Varsity aircraft once before each round at night for locations north of Lake Maurice on the western side of Maralinga and concentrating on the Emu/Coffin Hill Road. The search aircraft was to

fly at about 6000 feet altitude on flight paths spaced 30 nautical miles apart.


Search 1B 1: A dawn patrol of the Emu/Coffin Hill road on the day of the test.

Search 1C 1 : A daylight helicopter patrol over the inner test area road system between 5th and 25th Avenues.

9.3.30 In the Air Task Group's Report on Air Operations the following is written of the Antler air searches:

'...there is always the possibility that individuals or isolated groups of aborigines or other peoples might enter the area by accident or with malicious intent.

'Searches of the range area were therefore flown both by day and night during the last forty-eight hours before each shot firing. Each series of searches usually consisted of one long range night search

covering the whole outer range area, one dawn search along a specified track in the outer range area and a search of the inner range commencing at dawn on the

firing day. The outer range area searches were flown by Varsity aircraft of No. 1439 Flight and the inner range searches were flown by Helicopter aircraft of that Flight.' [RC 334, p.12]

9.3.31 It became commonplace for the Royal Commission to read details of well-laid plans and complacent reports of their execution only to find that the reality was quite different.

9.3.32 Weightman said that 'there were no searches at night of the whole outer- range area' [Trans. , p.6654]. He agreed that the patrols did not go to the area west of Maralinga at all despite the fact that 1957 was a 'wet' year and that the increased water and vegetation would have been attractive to people wanting to

travel south [Trans·, p.6648].

9.3.33 Weightman referred to the air searches as

' looking for a needle in a haystack given the vastness of the area and the means at our disposal. ' [RC 409, p.3]

9.3.34 In his oral evidence he said

' The plane really just flew up the road and not over the country. This was the case because Flannery and I took the view that the country was too vast to cover on a grid basis.' [Trans., p .6638]

9.3.35 Weightman agreed that Durance was 'totally dependent on what information could be passed on to him by yourself of the native patrols' [Trans., p.6646]. He said that the RAF search crews were told to look for 'roughly, any traces of human beings on the ground' [Trans., p.6646], and admitted


1 There were not many obvious things to look for from an aeroplane 500 feet up and travelling at say 200 or 300 miles an hour. The obvious things were smoke by day and fire by night. To look for an aboriginal

person in that sort of country from an aeroplane and to find him would be quite impossible.' [Trans., p.6646]

9.3.36 At the Fifth Meeting of the Maralinga Board of

Management on 26 August 1957, the following decisions were reached:

1 The responsibility for knowing the whereabouts of any natives in the Maralinga Area was that of the Range Commander.

'The responsibility of deciding whether or not to fire the weapon after being informed of the whereabouts of such natives rested with the Trials Director in conjunction with the Safety Committee.' [RC 819, p. 1437]

9.3.37 Clearly, the allocation of resources to ensure that Aboriginal people were located rested with Adams, the Safety Committee and Durance. Given the involvement of some members of the AWTSC in all of the tests which had already been conducted, and given Adams' experience with Totem, it should have been clear

that neither the height nor direction of the atomic cloud could be predicted with complete accuracy. Given his own experiences and those of his officers, it should have been clear to Durance that the search system was inadequate. Given the Pom Pom

incident (see Section 8.4), it should have been clear that the security system was flawed. Yet, the Antler series went ahead with Aboriginal people living to the north and north-west in close proximity to Maralinga.

Aborigina1 People in the Prohibited Zone

9.3.38 After Grayden presented the Report of his Select Committee (para.9.3.7) he wrote a book, Adam and Atoms expanding on the Report and answering some of its critics. In his book, he wrote

'...most of the natives questioned by our party were under the impression that some foreign country was going to drop a bomb somewhere in their territory. It was apparently beyond their comprehension that the Government of this country would drop a bomb on its own

territory.' [Grayden 1957, pp.64-5]

9.3.39 The fear which such lack of understanding brought must have been intensified for the people who were inhabiting the lands west and within 80 miles (128 km) of Maralinga. Not only


9.3.40 The Royal Commission heard evidence in group from a number of witnesses who now live at Cundeelee. The group witness session was led by Henry Anderson. Witnesses described how they heard the explosions of the bombs, felt the ground shake, and watched the atomic clouds [Trans., pp.7219-25]. They heard the

explosions on many occasions and were frightened.

9.3.41 Henry Anderson said he saw an explosion after he saw an aeroplane fly over. This was most likely the Kite test in the Buffalo series. It is little wonder, then, that people doused

camp fires and hid from the search aircraft [Trans., p.7223]. Henry Anderson also said that 1 the smoke1 had 'killed or hurt' important sacred places at Lake Dey Dey and Bulgunya. His view was that

'...maybe what happened was that the white people thought there was nothing sacred in that place and therefore they let the bombs go or threw the bombs over there.' [Trans., p.7225]

9.3.42 The people who remained in the Prohibited Zone remained at risk after the major tests had finished. There had already been demonstrated the possibility of Aboriginal people wandering into areas which these tests had contaminated. There was also the risk of dangerous substances, including plutonium, being blown westward beyond the sites of the minor trials.

9.3.43 Macaulay reported that MacDougall had seen fires twenty miles north of Yokes Hill on 2 July 1959. This, Macaulay wrote, ' places them not very far from a road which leads to Emu and Maralinga Forward Area'. He went on to conclude that

' There are natives living on the fringe of the

Maralinga Prohibited Zone and in the Zone itself. Natives travel through the area and reach a point at least half way from the border to the Forward Area. This constitutes a safety factor and leaves the

Department open to newspaper criticism that it takes inadequate safety precautions, lacks responsibility towards natives, and is careless and indifferent to their physical plight and health.' [RC 819, p.1951]

9.3.44 The Emu-Vokes Hill-Cook area was patrolled by

MacDougall and Senior Constable T Murray in October 1959. They found many signs of habitation between Yokes Hill and Lake Wyola. They concluded that 'this area is definitely used by Aborigines' [RC 800, p.590795]. Macaulay and MacDougall eventually contacted

some of these people in 1960. On 14 September, Macaulay wrote

' Two men, four women and eight children were

encountered just north of the Nurrari Lakes. Only one man had seen whites before. The group had been living

w e r e t h e y n o t c o n t a c t e d a n d w a r n e d b u t t h e r e w a s t h e v e r y real

f e a r t h a t d i s a s t e r m i g h t d i r e c t l y a f f e c t them.


permanently in the area around Nurrari Lakes-Lake Wyola and it was their footprints which N.P.O. MacDougall and Constable Murray saw earlier on the inner perimeter track. The natives said that they heard the atomic bombs at Maralinga a few years ago and were very

frightened. They did not see any flashes. 1 [RC 819, p.1729]

Macaulay concluded that

'...natives have been living well inside the Maralinga Prohibited Zone continuously from before the

establishment of the Atomic Weapons Testing Grounds.1 [RC 819, p.1730]

9.3.45 MacDougall and Macaulay saw signs of other people in October 1960 [RC 819, pp. 1735-6] as did Murray in December of that year [RC 819, p.1750].

9.3.46 Murray encountered a group in the Waldana area early in July 1963. They had 1 ample bush food and water available and the party appear to be in good health1 [RC 800, p.630536]. They told

him they intended to move to the Djindikarra area but would wait until the arrival of the Native Patrol Officer.

9.3.47 Murray met the group again in August. He relayed to them Macaulay's intentions to visit them at Djindikarra. Macaulay did not keep to his intentions and he cancelled the visit. He left the meeting until October when, with Murray, he

set out on

' ... an inspection of the outer perimeter of the

Maralinga Prohibited Zone to re-establish first hand contact with a group of Aborigines near Bringyna Well in contact with Constable Tom Murray.' [RC 800, p.630743]

On 16 October, Macaulay wrote

' A family unit was encountered at Bringya [sic] Soak... They had been waiting some time to see me, and departed the morning after our meeting, heading to the Serpentine Lakes and points west. A follow up patrol

to see them again was cancelled when it was learned that they had moved into Western Australia about their normal business. It is reported that they planned going west then south of the Serpentine Lakes. No

further contact is planned until they re-present themselves on a graded road in the Prohibited Zone.

'...the family as now constituted, contains six

persons, husband, 2 wives, 3 children. The family appeared to be in good health.' [RC 800, pp.630744-5]


9.3.48 After speculating on the length of time the people might prefer to remain in the desert, Macaulay noted:

' A recent message from an Army Survey Team at Neale Junction indicates that a woman and two children have turned up there, and this may indicate that they are seeking a way to Cundeelee Mission. ' [RC 800,

p .630745]

9.3.49 Two of the people who arrived at Neale Junction gave evidence to the Royal Commission. Their 'bush' names are recorded in Macaulay's report of his October patrol.

9.3.50 Darlene Stevens recalled the meeting with the two 'Patrol Officers' [Trans., p.7231]. One of them told the family to go to Cundeelee. He told them to travel by road to

Djindikarra (our emphasis). It is assumed that this was Macaulay as he was the only one with the statutory authority to move people off the Prohibited Zone. Macaulay, in fact, comments on Murray's ' quasi-legal' position and notes that he does not have

'Protector's Rights' in the October report [RC 800, p.630744].

9.3.51 Macaulay's consideration of Murray's position and rights may also have stemmed from an argument the pair had. Darlene Stevens said that one of the men suggested that they travel with them on one of the vehicles but the other one

disagreed and ‘ told off' the first man for making the suggestion [Trans., p.7232]. Again, it probably was Macaulay who did the 'telling off'. His orders stipulated that Aborigines were not to be carried in Departmental vehicles [RC 819, p.1209] and he had previously reported Beadell for allowing an Aborigine to ride in his Land Rover [RC 819, p.1271].

9.3.52 As instructed, the family unit moved off the Range. And, as instructed, they walked along the road. To the white Patrol Officer the instructions no doubt made sense. But for the Aborigines the road, unlike Aboriginal routes, had no logic as a pathway between food and water. Without food and water, Darlene

Stevens' mother, father and brother perished.

9.3.53 The attitude towards Aboriginal safety during the Antler period remained cynical and became hypocritical. Traditional lands remained closed and Aboriginal people were discouraged or prevented from using them. Ground and air patrols and personnel involvement in searching for and warning Aborigines continued to be inadequate.

9.3.54 Aboriginal people inhabited the Prohibited Zone during the tests and afterwards. When they were ordered to move off their lands, some of these people died. This incident is but one illustration of the lack of comprehension of Aboriginal culture and lifestyle. The need to know nothing of the distinctive characteristics of Aboriginality was a constant of the entire program of British nuclear tests in Australia.




(a) Inadequate attention was paid to Aboriginal safety during the Antler series. People continued to inhabit the Prohibited Zone as close to the test sites as 130 km.

(b) Air and ground patrols for Antler were neither well

planned nor well executed.

(c ) Aboriginal people continued to inhabit the Prohibited Zone for six years after the tests. When they were told to leave the Prohibited Zone, some of them perished.

9.4 Safety of Servicemen

9.4.1 The Antler series of tests was probably the best

planned and organised of all the atomic tests conducted in Australia. This is not surprising considering the experience gained from the tests conducted prior to the Antler series.

9.4.2 During the pre-trial period, Australian involvement was concentrated in the areas of meteorological services, health physics, and the provision of support facilities, in particular the preparation of test sites. Health control procedures were

governed by the Radiological Safety Regulations (Maralinga) which defined the exposure limits for personnel who were working at Maralinga at that time. In the pre-trial period, health control was the responsibility of the Australian Health Physics

Representative (0 H Turner), and during the trial period it was under the control of the UK Health Physics Group under G C Dale. The original Antler series was to have consisted of six tests, so the site preparations were made on that basis. Much of the pre-trial work consisted of site preparation and health physics

duties such as surveying the forward areas and health physics support for personnel working in those areas.

9.4.3 Preparations for the Antler series included the making of a number of summary plans which were allocated to particular scientific groups:

(a) Services groups.

(b) Weapons groups.

(c) Measurements groups.

(d ) Target response groups.


Apart from the meteorological services under Phillpot, all other services within these groups were the responsibility of UK personnel.

9.4.4 Changeover from the pre-trial to the trial period was to take place with the assumption of command by Air

Commodore W P Sutcliffe on 15 August 1957. The period of command was to run from that date until the completion of the test series and then continue to the end of the rundown period. The

operational plan for Antler followed what had become a reasonably standard pattern and consisted of four operational phases for each test:

(a) 1 Preparatory Phase: From the day of arrival on site, or of a previous, firing, until the first day of Standby.

(b ) ' Standby Phase: From 0001 hours of the first day of Standby until the declaration of the Firing Phase at some time, dependent on the meteorological forecasts, on any day of Standby.

(c) 'Firing Phase: From the declaration of the Firing Phase after a favourable meteorological forecast has been given until the firing of the weapon.

' The commencement of the Firing Phase can be at any hour of the day or night and, likewise, so can the time of firing (except Round 3, the balloon round). In actual fact, declaration of the Firing Phase will be

related to specific forecasting times throughout the twenty four hours.

(d) 1 Recovery Phase: From a firing until completion of the operation.1 [RC 800, p.571767]

9.4.5 A series of operational procedures, controls and checks was developed from the basic operational structure:

1 The essential responsibilities of Control are to ensure that all Firing Phase activities are going according to plan and to take emergency action if any Group falls behind schedule, to know the location of every person in the Test Area during the Firing Phase, and to ensure that all staff dispersed about the Range receive adequate and close warning to look away from the burst.

'Four main control points will be established:

(1) at the Village, in Building BL.l (Base Control)

(2) at Roadside, in Building FC.1.2 (Forward Control)

(3) at the Airfield


1 (4) at Watson for the balloon round. Here it will also be necessary to warn the inhabitants of sidings and stations along the Trans-Continental Railway over a specified sector, dependent upon direct distance from Ground Zero. An up-to-the-minute record of train movements will be kept and warnings will also be issued

to any aircraft flying in the vicinity within one hour of F-instant.

'On this operation, Health Control will be operating since entry to the Test Area involves close approach to previously contaminated ground. It is anticipated that Health Control will move back to Roadside during the

Firing Phase at about Z+3 hrs.

1 Control of each firing will be conducted from Forward Control at Roadside.

' Personnel checks on individuals in the Test Area are maintained through periodic reports of action or progress (at least every two hours) according to the Action and Movements Schedules, throughout the Firing

Phase. For this reason each action schedule requires each person to report individually or through a nominated Team Leader to Base Control and Forward Control during movement to and from the Test Area.'

[RC 800, pp.571771-2]

9.4.6 Those personnel who were not directly involved in the test preparations and who were not located in the test area were accounted for by a separate check procedure:

1 Stationed at convenient positions about the Range will be a number of Personnel Officers who between them will have the responsibility for ensuring that all staff are either within earshot of a loud-speaker, from which

they will hear the countdown, or that they have

personally received adequate warning to keep their eyes turned away from the flash.

'To achieve this, the name of every person on the Range will appear on a personnel check list. With each list will be the name of a reporting officer whose

responsibility it will be to account for each member on his list, and take appropriate warning action and then report that he had done so to the nominated Personnel Officer.' [RC 800, p.571773]

9.4.7 Extensive security measures were taken for the Antler series. These included control of visitors and movement of personnel. The documents before the Royal Commission indicate that the following further steps were taken in an attempt to

ensure that unauthorised personnel were not permitted to enter the restricted areas


(a) Security posts manned by Peace Officers were located at eight sites together with a roving patrol of the airfield and the village.

(b) Peace Officer patrols around the Range were conducted in accordance with the post orders.

(c) Fencing was erected in any restricted areas, in particular the XA/TM Kittens areas in addition to certain restricted buildings and the firing sites.

(d) Notices were erected at entry points and on the perimeters of restricted areas to warn of the potential danger of entry.

(e) Periodic aerial reconnaissance was made in addition to requests for all incoming and outgoing aircraft to keep a watch for signs of unauthorised entry and other infringements of security.

(f) Limited land and air patrols were undertaken.

9.4.8 There were several allegations [RC 113; RC 144; RC 186; RC 164] made to the Royal Commission by servicemen and other personnel which suggested that the checks and controls during the Antler series were inadequate and that, as a result of this,

personnel were subjected to the dangers of ionising radiation. The particular allegations are considered below.

9.4.9 One particular allegation involved an RAAF

driver/mechanic who alleges that he led a convoy into the Ground Zero area to perform duties shortly after the blast. He claims to have eaten an apple while there and to have been monitored and found to be 1 way over the limit1 [RC 166, p. 6]. Although no protective clothing appears to have been worn, it is significant

to note that he was monitored and therefore it is reasonable to assume that he was under some form of supervision and control while undertaking those duties.

9.4.10 Having regard to the nature of the evidence which is before the Royal Commission, and to the details contained in the official reports, it seems highly unlikely that any servicemen or other personnel were required to work in the forward areas without protective clothing in such a way as would cause them to be exposed to levels of radiation which were above the accepted

levels of the time. It is also likely that the number of

personnel involved in this type of activity was small.

9.4.11 A further allegation was that personnel were required to steam clean vehicles and aircraft without respirators or with ineffective respirators. It is clear from the evidence that respirators and protective clothing were issued in areas where


decontamination duties involved a hazard to personnel. This does not, however, cover the allegation that the respirators may not have been totally effective or practical for the work required to be done.

9.4.12 The evidence of several veterans suggests that

respirators which were supplied to them for their decontamination duties were impractical and at times ill-fitting.

9.4.13 It was alleged that there were two Australian ground personnel who exceeded their dose limits during the Antler series. On the first occasion, this was because the person engaged in monitoring moved towards rather than away from the

fallout path following one of the tests. In evidence before the Royal Commission the witness involved regarded the incident as an accident. The second incident involved health physics personnel who were engaged in close-in monitoring duties which resulted in

them receiving doses in excess of 3 r on two occasions. On these occasions, the personnel involved were warned off 1 the Range by the Range Commander1. The particular witness who made these allegations (Mr T R Brindley) alleged that the warnings were disregarded either because of the financial attraction of the overtime involved in undertaking such duties or at the request of

the Australian Health Physics Representative.

9.4.14 It was alleged that personnel were subjected to

excessive exposure owing to dust raised during the clean-up of the Taranaki site. In material before the Royal Commission, it was adequately documented that the Taranaki site had been contaminated by fallout from the round 2 explosion at Biak. The clean-up of the Taranaki site involved some sweeping which caused airborne activity which was reported to have been 'higher than at

any other time or place in the trial' [RC 271].

9.4.15 The health physics report of the clean-up operation indicated that not only were proper precautions taken at the time but that personnel involved were properly monitored for exposure. The thyroids of four personnel were monitored to check on the possible uptake of radioiodine; the results indicated no

'significant count rate above normal background' [RC 271]. The allegation is inconsistent with the records of the clean-up exercise.

9.4.16 It therefore appears that, by the standards of the time, the precautions taken were adequate and that all reasonable steps were taken to protect the personnel involved.

9.4.17 The allegation of inadequate instruction and warnings was also made in relation to the Antler tests. This allegation occurs not only throughout the test series but also across a wide

range of service and civilian personnel.


9.4.18 There is a significant body of evidence before the Royal Commission which indicates that warnings, signs, instructions and notices were posted in strategic places around the Maralinga Village and in the forward areas. It thus seems unlikely that personnel would not have been aware of those areas

which were of potential danger; they may not have understood the danger but would have been aware of it. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that some personnel were not adequately informed of the effects of radiation and the potential dangers

inherent in exposure to that radiation.

9.4.19 There is little doubt that at least some of the UK

service personnel were given only very limited information:

1 Early in 1957, a number of British Service personnel were sent to Australia to man the Range. They left Great Britain at short notice and had no special briefing on the tasks they were expected to do and the

living conditions.1 [RC 333]

9.4.20 It was alleged that an RAF crew was exposed to a higher than normal dose-rate during the sampling exercises. The dose levels incurred do not seem to have given rise to great concern at that time:

'Only one sampling aircraft was used in this operation, (i.e. Antler 3) then the crew recalled to base early as they received a higher radioactive dose-rate than normal. This aircraft collected all the samples required for the scientists. Cloud Tracking by Varsity and Canberras was successful.1 [RC 333]

There was also evidence that an RAAF crew was exposed:

'A Royal Australian Air Force crew, led by Wing

Commander H.D. Marsh, D.F.C., performed a sampling mission in a Canberra during Round II. This was the first time that an RAAF crew had flown through an atomic cloud and a suitable press announcement was made.' [RC 333]

The Sergeant Smith Incident

9.4.21 Sergeant F Smith was selected, in June 1956, to be a member of the Australian Radiation Detection Unit (ARDU) at Maralinga, where he assisted in the collection of measurement information and operated health physics caravans and the decontamination centre. A nucleus of five men, including Smith,

remained in inter-trial periods to assist the Australian Health Physics Representative to enforce the Maralinga Radiological Safety Regulations.


9.4.22 Between June and August 1956 he attended a training course for the ARDU conducted by J Richardson at the Commonwealth X-ray and Radium Laboratory in Melbourne. He was taught basic concepts of ionising radiation, various radiation types and types

and uses of radiation detection equipment were.

9.4.23 While performing duties as a member of the ARDU after the second Antler explosion at Biak on 25 September 1957, Smith was recorded as receiving a dose of 3.9 r. This was above the maximum permissible dose of 3 r in any three month period at Maralinga.

9.4.24 He received this dose when he was recovering various measuring instruments for the Radiation Measurements Group [Trans., p.5875] from positions at pre-determined distances from

Ground Zero (GZ).

9.4.25 Smith entered the GZ area in the belief that he would not encounter hazardous levels of fallout along the track he was following. However, no one realised that at about the time of firing the wind structure had changed [RC 140, p.29]. The upper winds remained constant but the winds very near the ground

reversed direction, unexpectedly depositing fallout towards Taranaki. The instrument Smith was using to monitor radiation went off scale between two scheduled readings. He thought the instrument was unserviceable. After making radio contact with

the Health Physics Group he was told to leave the area

immediately. This he did but rather than retracing his steps towards the known safe area he went by a route which took him along the edge of the fallout. On returning to the

decontamination centre his dosimeter was found to show a reading in excess of 3 r and his film badge recorded 3.9 r. He was taken off radiation duty for the approved time [Trans., pp.2920, 2922; RC 550, p.5].

9.4.26 The incident happened because Smith moved into the area ahead of the RAF survey team, which moved along and beside a pre-determined centre line [Trans., p.5874]. Smith was the first to discover that the cloud had moved in a direction different to

the one expected [RC 550, p .30].

9.4.27 This incident serves to illustrate the point that, however well operations were planned, it was always possible that something could go wrong.


9.4.28 The Antler series of tests was clearly better planned, organised and documented than any of the previous test series. Nevertheless, it was not entirely without unplanned incidents.


9.5 The Cobalt-60 Incident

9.5.1 During routine surveys for radioactivity after the Antler series in the area around the Tadje Ground Zero by the AHPR and his team, one member of the team discovered spots where anomalously high radiation levels could be found. It was discovered that these were associated with small, very active pellets. Back in the laboratory, the AHPR, Turner analysed a pellet and discovered that it contained cobalt-60 at an activity level in the order of tens of millicuries.

9.5.2 Some of the cobalt-60 pellets were collected by

D W Rickard and are described by him in evidence to the Royal Commission in the following terms:

' I had been surveying this crater for some months, and one day when I was out by myself doing a survey of this crater, I noticed a few anomalous readings...I found that this high level of radiation was coming from a number of quite discrete sources, and by using my right

foot to move the dirt about I was finally able to

discover that the radiation was coming from some very small metallic-looking particles, so by using my foot again I was able to locate about 20 or 30 of these and

put them into one of the tobacco tins which we used for sample collection.' [RC 144]

9.5.3 Turner, obviously annoyed, reported the discovery of the cobalt-60 pellets to G C Dale at the AWRE on 10 July 1958 in the following terms:

1A number of Co60 pellets have been found in the

vicinity of 700 feet North of Tad je with an average activity of 40 millicuries, repeat millicuries. The largest pellet (79 mC) would register 36 r/hr when

touching a 1390. The potential lethality of each pellet is increased by the fact that they are only from 1 to 2 m.m. in diameter and could easily be lodged in

clothing or ingested. It is proposed to collect as many of these pellets as possible and bury them in a sealed container in the established cemetery.

1 Although not understanding how these pellets could be so uniquely concentrated, I must assume that they originate from cobalt in the weapon or ancillary apparatus. If it is absolutely necessary to utilise cobalt, could some indication be given in the future that this hazard may exist, so that I could endeavour to locate and retrieve the concentrated fall-out pellets at an early time. I would appreciate it if you

could look into the matter. The Range Commander has been informed of the situation.1 [RC 143]


9.5.4 Turner's report caused some concern to the authorities in the UK, the level of which is indicated in correspondence of 23 July 1958. Turner reported on two matters of concern, the first dealing with radioactive waste disposal at Maralinga. The letter continued

1 The second report, however, is more difficult. Turner says he has discovered small particles of highly radio-active cobalt near Tadje. He states that the degree of radioactivity is dangerous but what he complains about most is that A.W.R.E. had not warned him of the possible presence of cobalt which must, he

says, have come from a weapon. Turner is said to be corresponding direct with Dale on this matter.

'I mention these items to you because there is a danger that some political trouble will arise if these stories gain a wide circulation. It could quite well be that Dale is in process of allaying Turner's anxiety but I

suggest it would be worth while if you were to talk to Frankie Lloyd about this so that he can make sure that A.W.R.E. are putting matters right. The main

requirement seems to be to reassure Turner and to stop him from worrying the Range Commander needlessly if this is in fact the case.' [RC 558, p.3783]

9.5.5 It was of great concern to the AHPR that the discovery of the cobalt-60 had been accidental. It appears that other Australian authorities were also ignorant about the use of cobalt-60. Richardson of CXRL, the Senior Health Physics Adviser

to whom Turner reported administratively, wrote to Turner on 12 August 1958

'The discovery of the cobalt is disturbing. Is it pure cobalt or merely cobalt present as an alloy, for example, cobalt in steel? We can do little about this until we receive a reply from the UK.‘ [RC 143]

9.5.6 Evidence before the Royal Commission shows that the UK authorities were quick to contact Titterton to clarify the matter. Correspondence between Adams of AWRE and Titterton, dated 1 August 1958, indicates this situation:

'You will probably remember that I told you at Antler that one of the assemblies had some Co 60 in it for tracer purposes. I have now heard that Turner in the course of routine surveys has found some small pellets in which he has identified Co 60. In order that this may not cause any disquiet to him he will be informed by signal that Co 60 was used as a tracer and that you,

as Chairman of the Safety Committee, knew and approved the action.' [RC 800, p.580808]


9.5.7 The concern with which Turner regarded the incident is vividly recalled in the evidence which he gave to the Royal Commission:

' This was probably the most disturbing aspect of my time at Maralinga: disturbing because I hadn't been warned about it...The Atomic Weapons Test Safety Committee at this time was chaired by Professor Ernest Titterton who, after conferring with the British said

that he had been told prior to the test that cobalt-60 would be involved but they didn't tell me because they knew that I would find out anyway. I couldn't quite understand the logic of that argument... It was probably

the most embarrassing episode on the range as far as I was concerned because we hadn't been warned about it and therefore could not have anticipated if there was a problem and for some months, about 9 months we had

walked in that area where the cobalt-60 pellets were not knowing that they were there, meaning that it was possible that by some mischance, somebody may have collected one of those pellets and not realised what it

was although, admittedly, anybody in that area would have been using an instrument and should very quickly realise something was wrong. But it still had a

potential there which left us a little bit unhappy as to why the British did this without informing us.' [RC 140]

9.5.8 At the request of the AWRE, the AHPR organised recovery of the cobalt pellets using Australian service and civilian personnel who were at his disposal at that time. The follow-up

action was described by Rickard in the following way:

'. . .A major effort was immediately started to try to collect as much of this material as possible, but there were problems because the level of radiation was so high that it was obvious that the existing Health

Physics Group Personnel could not do it because by this time we were already over our limits. At this time there were a number of Australian Services personnel who were supposed to be there on a training course in radiation detection. These people could not be told what they were working with because of the security blanket, however I made up some long scoops by tying

jam tins onto wooden handles, and I showed them how to use these to collect the particles. By this time, special aircraft had been flown out from the U.K. with large lead containers, and the particles were placed into these and then flown immediately back to the U.K.‘ [RC 113]

9 · 5.9 Brindley also gave evidence to the Royal Commission about his involvement in the incident and the recovery of the cobalt-60 in the following terms:


'The instrument [type 1391] was used to detect small pellets of unfissioned material. This material was detected and removed from close to Ground Zero. This material gave off hard beta rays. Normally these rays

are only detectable from a few centimetres in air. We were detecting them however, from approximately 4' from the ground. Most of the particles were so small that they had to be collected with tweezers. The particles

were placed in containers and then placed in a larger container in the back of a truck. A lead brick wall and a water tank separated the material on the back of the truck from the driver's cabin. I went into the

forward area on about 20 occasions during these courses to pick up this material. During this time we were only wearing as protective clothing, rubber boots and gloves.

1 After leaving the forward area I was checked for contamination but no serious contamination was disclosed...however, I was sitting in the picture theatre at Maralinga, and I noticed that my fingers were red around the tips and nails. I asked a Royal Australian Navy surgeon who had just completed a course

in nuclear medicine in the United Kingdom what this might be. He told me they were beta burns. I recall that Mr Turner received a letter from one of the

Australian officers on the course which stated that we shouldn't be doing the work that we were doing. ' [RC 113]

9.5.10 The last report on the matter was made to AW RE by the AHPR on 1 December 1958:

'During July to October, 180 Co 60 pellets totalling approximately 4.5 curies have been recovered from an area of about 100,000 square feet North of Tadje ground zero...

' There is a tendency for some of the pellets to

"explode" into minute fragments when pressure is applied to them...

' Most of the activity left in the Tad je area now

appears to be fragmentary in nature, and becomes increasingly difficult to locate...' [RC 143]

9.5.11 The failure of the UK authorities to inform Australian personriel working at the test sites of the presence of the cobalt-60 is a matter of concern to the Royal Commission. By agreement, when the British team departed from Maralinga after a

series of tests, they were to leave with the AHPR a complete statement of radiation hazards likely to be encountered on the


Range. Without this, the AHPR could not be expected to perform his function adequately. The failure to supply this information arose independently of any advice given to Titterton at the time because neither he nor the AWTSC was primarily responsible for activities on the Range and in any event much of the work

undertaken by the AHPR and his staff was at the request or under the direction of UK authorities.

9.5.12 Of great concern to the Royal Commission is the failure of Titterton to inform Australian authorities and personnel concerned of the possible presence of cobalt-60 at the Tad je site. In evidence, Titterton said

1...we were informed Cobalt-60 would be on the range as it had been used in the weapon before the weapon was even fired.' [Trans., p.7939]

9.5.13 Moroney told the Royal Commission he was not aware of the presence of cobalt-60 before the explosion [Trans., p.8308]. This evidence, together with the letter of Adams quoted above (see para.9.7.7) leads the Royal Commission to believe that only Titterton received the information, and did not pass it on to the

Safety Committee. This would have been in accordance with his usual practice of reporting information

'...if it was in the line of interest of the Safety

Committee,...but if it was on the weapons side, then as you know the agreement was that these things were not to be discussed and bandied about.' [Trans., p.7781]

Titterton told the Royal Commission that the UK had classified the use of the cobalt-60 as ‘weapons information or weapons design' [Trans., p.7939].

9.5.14 Titterton further stated that he did not tell the Safety Committee about the cobalt before the explosion but did so 10 seconds after the explosion [Trans., p.7986]. Moroney however said that he was told of the presence of cobalt-60 'at some stage after the explosion and whilst we were still at Maralinga'

[Trans., p .8303].

9.5.15 When asked why he did not pass on to Turner the

information about the cobalt-60, Titterton said that they wanted 1 . · . to give Harry [Turner] and his workers a bit of a test' [Trans., p.7940]. Stevens discounted this explanation and described such a suggestion as being ' trial by irradiation'

[Trans., p.8429]. He denied knowledge of such a 'test' and stated that ' ... it would certainly be foreign to me to call on a person who has a job to do to be put to the test in that way'

[Trans., p.8428].




(a) The weapon exploded at Tad je had associated with it

cobalt-60 to be used as a tracer. The technique used proved to be unsuccessful and the resultant dispersal of the active pellets was only discovered accidentally many months after the explosion.

(b) The AHPR and those personnel who helped collect the

pellets for subsequent disposal were exposed to radiation as a result.

(c ) The British scientists should, as had been agreed, have informed the Australian Health Physics Representative of the existence of the pellets, before they left the Range at the end of the Antler series. By their failure to do so, an unnecessary

radiation hazard was created.

(d ) The Royal Commission believes that Titterton was the only member of the AWTSC who knew of the use of cobalt-60 at the time of the Tad je test. In not informing other members of the AWTSC and the AHPR, he also contributed to an unnecessary

radiation hazard.