Map showing the fallout area of 9/12 atomic bombs in the South Australian Desert. The three remaining bombs if included would add a further 50% to the density of the fallout discolouration. Fiji (not shown) was also in the fallout zone.

Surviving Australian veterans of the British nuclear tests at Maralinga, Monte Bello Island and Christmas Island in the 1950s and 60s are joining British and other nuclear veterans in taking the British government to court in what could be one of the most significant compensation cases in legal history.

Thousands of servicemen were ordered into the radiation zones and forced to clean radiated planes and vehicles during the 17 nuclear bomb blasts at the three sites between 1952 and 1958, as well as dozens of secret smaller nuclear tests up to 1963. The men developed cancers at three times the rate of other men. Many of their children and grandchildren have been born with deformities.

Submissions to the Senate Committee

Fallout Map appears in this submission by Paul Langley, a soldier who served at the  Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME)  Radiac Centre – where military radiation detectors were repaired. Paul Langley’s own exposure to radiation was due to stored radioisotopes used to calibrate instruments in the course of repairing radiation testing equipment.  At the time the Radiac Centre also played a role in identifying fallout from the then French Nuclear tests as the fallout arrived in Australia. 

Stacks/The Law Firm has agreed to represent The Australian Nuclear Veterans Association in the legal battle to take place in London in 2010.

Australian ex-servicemen, who were exposed to radiation and used as virtual guinea pigs during the nuclear tests, will join 1000 British ex-servicemen and widows who, after a long legal battle, won the right to take the UK Ministry of Defence to court in a class action.

It is a race against time as applications have to be lodged before a legal deadline of May 2010. Bad health and high death rates means that of the original 8,000 Australian nuclear veterans it is believed only 2,000 are still alive.

Tom Goudkamp of Sydney based law firm Stacks/Goudkamp will head the legal team assembled by Stacks to mount the court case in London.

“The UK courts offer the best chance for the Australian nuclear veterans to win their case. The Australian courts have a statute of limitations which would be difficult to surmount,” Mr Goudkamp said.

The class action could include up to 1,500 surviving British, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian ex-servicemen who were deliberately exposed to radiation from the nuclear tests. Their widows can also be part of the class action.

About 100 Australian veterans are ready to join the class action, but Mr Goudkamp is keen to hear from the hundreds of other nuclear veterans and their families who might wish to be part of the class action. They are urged to contact Mr Goudkamp via the law firm’s website

It will be a massive undertaking, but Stacks is running the case on a no-win, no-fee basis. Mr Goudkamp said the London law firm representing the British nuclear veterans, Rosenblatt, has already done tremendous work in winning the fight to be able to sue the UK Defence Ministry and amassing crucial evidence linking veterans’ health problems to their exposure to radiation

National President of the Australian Nuclear Veterans Association, Ric Johnstone, of Gosford NSW and senior vice president Alan Batchelor of Canberra, sat down with Goudkamp and his legal team and agreed it was best to pursue the case together with the British veterans in London rather than through Australian courts. 

The Australian Nuclear Veterans Association acknowledges that the British  nuclear tests in Australia between 1952 and 1963 at Emu Field and other areas were conducted on the traditional tribal lands of the Kokatha people in “Outback South Australia”.

Under a treaty with the UK, Britain paid Australia 20 million pounds sterling as a compensation fund for the victims of the “fall out”, but nuclear ex-servicemen haven’t received any of it. The veterans and their families have been battling for decades to get successive governments to acknowledge the damage done to their health by the nuclear tests. 

Possibly Related Posts

 History of French Nuclear Tests in the Pacific  The most common radiation-induced diseases are leukemia, brain tumors, and thyroid cancers. Australia and New Zealand instituted proceedings against France in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague.

The Royal Commission concluded that it did not have sufficient evidence that the radiation caused the illnesses described by the residents of Wallatinna and Welbourn Hill.  This was in spite of the reports of 50 eye-witnesses….
Ms Dingaman who recollects the Maralinga bombings, said “the number of children who were abducted from their homes and detained at the Umeewarra Mission had reached about seventy by the mid 1960s.
Many of these children were ill from the atomic bombs and babies were already being born deformed”.  The white ones damaged our land and water with their bombs, all of it.  Then changed it’s name.  Maralinga is not one of our words.
“We the Kokatha have never “offered” our land to mining companies or other projects.  Our grandfathers once  trusted the smooth tongued men.  Their sons and their children then suffered at Maralinga”.


10 replies »

  1. Re: It is a race against time as applications have to be lodged before a legal deadline of May 2010. Bad health and high death rates means that of the original 8,000 Australian nuclear veterans it is believed only 2,000 are still alive

    How much is half a life or what’s left of it really worth?

    Financial costs $?.OO
    Social cost$ to Sovereign Traditional Owners after their suffering and centuries of rememberance and to nuclear blast workers above – like the Biblical sins of the fathers is being revisited upon the 3rd & 4th generations …

  2. Nothing changes. In Britain, the Ministry of Defense has continued to “wage a time war” against the veterans – as the veterans age, become ill, and die, there are not only fewer to compensate, but there are fewer to join in the legal fight for justice.

    In France, the government has got this delaying tactic down to a fine art, too, by requiring a mass of documentation for veterans to prove their claims.

    The French experience is also very good for their government, as regards any claims by those pesky Native Pacific islanders. The Pacific islanders are similarly required to produce documentary evidence that they were affected by the atomic bomb testing. (That’s pretty safe, seeing that most of them don’t even speak French, let alone write it).

    I guess that the same goes for Australian Natives affected by Maralinga Not only does the government expect them to conveniently die out, but the government also knows that it’s very hard for those people to find the resources to produce acceptable (i.e. acceptable to the government) evidence should they try to take legal avenues for justice.

    Yes – quite a cost to the Traditional Owners and their descendants. But hey – in the short term, what a profit to the uranium mining company! Wow!

  3. In this excellent article, a single point must be cleared up. I am not a nuclear veteran. My occupational exposure to ionising radiation while in the Army was way less than that suffered by nuclear veterans. As I took care of issuing dosimeters and personally read the results and recorded them, and as I have my film badge readings, I know precisely what was happening in terms of exposure. The nuclear veterans didnt have such luxury.

    I served in Australia in the era of the French tests in the 70s. And that fallout did arrive here. I know that. And its an additional dose everyone had. It’s particularly an additional to the nuclear veterans and others exposed in the 50s and 60s to the “friendly” fire of the British test fallout. I am not a nuclear veteran.

  4. Why are men and women surprised by the Crown and UK parliaments (not to mention the debauched ‘Australian’ parliament) failing to act in a manner which shows integrity, consideration for the lives they have abused in their processes, and honour?

    We must remember that self praise is no recommendation and it is the politicians (who mistakenly refer to themselves as ‘Leaders’) who have given themselves the now prostituted and denigrated title ‘Honourable’.

    Had it been given by the men and women who they are SUPPOSED to RE-PRESENT, then it would be a title worthy of its’ suggestion.

    A perfect example would be Mr Garrett – apparent liar and novice sinceritarian.

  5. Yes mark, lets hope the system collapses gracefully in 2010, and one by one the DIS-honourables are stripped of such pompous titles and transferred to more honourable roles. These people should resign now as a new year’s gesture and save us the public expense.
    Quite honestly we would be better with anarchy than a house full of frauds and charlatans…
    The veterans deserve a break and the aussie soldiers abroad should be brought home to do useful things like planting trees rather than acting as bogus agents of death for this and past bogus govern-ments , people are waking up and dont buy the Daily Bullshit anymore.

  6. I’m still trying to work out where Maralinga is in the middle of that massive fallout, which says its only 50% of the total mass

    Didn’t they say Maralinga was cleaned up….I’d lol, but it’s not funny to say things which are totally unbelievable and illogical.

    These two governments have a lot to answer for. Why don’t they stop feeding off all of us while lie to us about our own lives and why we are so sick.

    I’m not voting at the next election and won’t be paying any fines either..

  7. As a Nuclear Veteran from the 1956 Tests at the Montebello Islands I’m still angry of the fact that I was exposed to Ionising Radiation and even more angrier that the Prime Minister of the day Menzies failed to consult his Cabinet in regards to allowing Britain to conduct the testing of WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION on Australian soil.

  8. I am doing some family tree research , Any ex service men envolved in these tests die during or a short time afterwards as I have had relative a WW2 war vet that was listed as living in Ceduna South Australia at the time of these tests being carried out at Maralinga etc. As I do not know the cause of his death at this stage it is quite ironic that his death was just after these tests 4/10/1956 55 yrs old, his death could of been other reasons as my research is in its infancy at this stage. This man was my Father inlaws Dad.

  9. Loads of disabled marine life floated by CAMPANIA after the explosion and having a desalination plant on board the ship was relocated further from the detonation site amongst a large population of Tiger Sharks. Ships crew crowded round helicopter after a dunking operation. Static electricity was high from fusalage. My watch was used in an exhibition of yellow cake because it gave a higher reading than yellow cake.
    I was exposed to flash and shock wave being in the back row of ratings. Ldg.Wtr.

  10. I was a nuclear test veteran of the first test on The Monte Bello Islands in 1952.
    I am a Member of the british Nuclear test Veterans Association.
    I went back to the Islands ifor a commemoration service on October 3rd 1987.
    Onlu one pollie came with us.
    I organised the 50th commemoration ceremony on October 3rd 2002.
    I had good people support me but not one Brit Pollie or the Consul General in Perth was interested. A pox on them all and their issue
    Channel 7 sunrise spent the whole time on the Island with us and I have a dvd from them. Anyone is welcome to a copy just email me.

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