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Sunday, 10 June, 2001, BBC UK Australia tested nukes on bodies

Thousands of bodies were thought to have been used for tests By Dominic Hughes in Sydney

Australia's radiation safety authority has confirmed that the bodies of thousands of children and adults were used in scientific nuclear tests without parental consent.

Scientists say the experiments lasted 20 years and involved reducing the bones of dead children to ash.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (Arpansa) has confirmed that autopsy samples from Australian children who had died were used in studies in the United States, Great Britain and Australia.

With the approval of the Australian Government, bone samples were taken from the bodies of children from across Australia before being reduced to ash and sent overseas for analysis.

The practice ran from the 1950s up until 1978.

Nuclear fallout

Dr John Loy, the Agency's chief executive, says the experiments were to gauge the effects of the fall out from nuclear weapons.

"One of the things that was done was the measurement of strontium 90, which is an isotope from bombs, in bones... and bones of people were collected from pathology laboratories in the capital cities and these were analysed - for many years they had been sent... ashes of them were sent to the US and UK for analysis and subsequently the analysis was done in Australia."

The bone samples were taken from children and babies because the skeleton is more likely to take up strontium 90 during periods of growth.

Dr Loy believes that thousands of bodies were involved, although precise figures are not yet available.

But one aspect of the experiments that has shocked Australians is the lack of public consultation.


The scientists never sought the consent of bereaved parents, something that would be thought unacceptable today. Dr Loy says that the standards of the era were very different.

"I have to emphasis that this programme wasn't done secretly, it was reported on, it was reported in the scientific literature, it was reported in public reports. It wasn't a secret but I think in the standards of the time I don't think the idea of consent was even thought of."

Australia's involvement with nuclear experiments has been long and controversial.

Parts of the Australian desert are still contaminated and unsafe for human habitation after the British tested nuclear weapons there in the post-war years.

Australian servicemen have also discovered they were subjected to experiments without their informed consent. These latest revelations will only add to the unease about Australian participation in nuclear research.

Disabled used in Nuclear Blast tests NZ Herald 12 June 01

by Kathy Marks

SYDNEY Profoundly disabled people were sent out from institutions in Britain to be used as guinea-pigs during British atomic tests in the Australian desert in the 1950s, it was alleged yesterday. They did not return home and are assumed to have died after witnessing nuclear explosions at Maralinga, in South Australia, at close quarters. Claims that disabled people were deliberately exposed to radioactive fallout in order to assess its effects on the human body were examined in 1985 by an Australian royal commission into the tests, but were dismissed as unsubstantiated. Now the Independent has learned of the existence of a pilot who says that he flew them out from Britain. The pilot related his story to a respected Australian academic, Dr Robert Jackson, director of the Centre for Disability Research and Development at Edith Cowan University in Perth. The encounter took place after Jackson gave a presentation to 300 staff in the late 1980s, during which he mentioned the allegations about radiation experiments. Afterwards, he said, a staff member approached him and said: "That was true. I was one of the pilots"

Stillborn babies shipped to US for use in N-tests: report NZ Herald June 01

LONDON Bodies of stillborn babies and infants who died at just a few months old were shipped to the United States from Australian hospitals in the 1950s and 1960s to be used in nuclear experiments. Parents were never asked for permission or told what happened to their children, the British newspaper the Daily Mail said yesterday. Details of the US Department of Energy experiment, codenamed Project Sunshine, have been released under the freedom of Information "we didn't fly them out again." Jackson said he closely questioned the man, who had become a disabled care worker, and had no doubt that he was telling the truth. The staff member told him that the people who were used as guineapigs had multiple disabilities, both physical and intellectual. Jackson is now trying to trace the man, who left the centre several years ago. Australian servicemen stationed at Maralinga have claimed that two contingents of severely disabled people were brought into the test area just before a detonation. Terry Toon, president of the Australian Atomic Ex-Servicemen's Association, said yesterday that service personnel were told not to approach a building just north of the Maralinga airstrip terminal. The building was surrounded by a 1.8m-high fence and guarded by federal police officers. On one occasion, Toon said, a refrigeration mechanic went in to carry out repair work. "He said that the sound coming from inside the building was like the jabbering of mentally retarded people," Toon said. "He said that afterthe second [atomic] test, you couldn't hear them any more."

The experiment began in 1955, when Dr Willard Libby of the University of Chicago appealed for large numbers of bodies, preferably stillborn or newly born babies, for experiments on the effect of fallout from atom bomb tests. Over 15 years, hospitals in Australia, Britain, Canada, Hong Kong, the US and South America sent 6000 bodies to the university. After the tests, the bodies were cremated and radioactivity was measured.

15000 Bodies may hav been nuked NZ Herald June 2001

LONDON Nuclear experiments may have been carried out on the bodies of as many as 15,000 Australian men, women and children over a 20-year period, a newly discovered document suggests. The suwe sheet of paper from the National Archives of Australia in Canberra shows almost 800 skeletons were used in experiments in one year alone 230 of them from the corpses of children younger than 5. "That is a rather high rate of 'body-snatching' for one year alone, in a programme that went on for more than 20 years," said Scottish researcher Sue Babbitt Roff, who found the document. "If they were doing 792 samples a year, that would be about 15,000 humans." Roff, who is studying British nuclear tests in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s and their health effects on the servicemen involved and their children, turned up the document while going through a bundle of papers brought back for her from Australia by a student. "It was tucked in there with some other material that wasn't all that interesting. I was going through 700 pages of this for a totally other purpose and this thing popped out." The document, with the file number A6456/3 R029/148, lists the levels of radioactive isotope Strontium 90 in the calcium of Australian bone samples and the number of individuals the samples were taken from. It shows that between January and December 1965 , 792 bodies were used, of which 174 were babies under 12 months.

A further 56 were aged under 5, 102 were between 5 and 19, and 460 were adults. The paper also contradicts the Australian radiation safety authority's claim that the testing programme covered only people aged up to 40, with 326 of the specimens taken from skeletons of people aged 40 or older, including 46 who were aged 80 or over.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safetv Agency admitted a fortnight ago that Australia ran a testing pro e from 1957 to 1978. The admission came after the United States Government released details of a similar programme, codenamed Project Sunshine.

It said the experiments were designed to measure the impact of fallout from atmospheric liuclear tests all over the world on the Australian population by measuring the level of Strontium bo in bones.

The bones were collected from pathology laboratories in capital cities and were reduced to ash with the ashes sent overseas for analysis. AAP

Rusting Nuclear Nightmare NZ Herald July 2001

SNEZHNOGORSK In the midst of the desolate landscape of the Kola Peninsula bare granite and low-growing birch trees for kilometre after desolate kilometre three nuclear submarines lie rusting in the icy waters of Snezhnogorsk. These submarines will never again be ,used; in that sense, their presence here is good news. But those with responsibility for looking after them fear that these vessels, -and dozens of others like them, could yet .cause a catastrophe which would make the Chemobyl disaster pale into insignificance. Two years ago Robin Cook, then British Foreign Secretary, promised i:5 million .($16.5 million) to help with the nuclear clean-up in the Munnansk region, as part of a larger programme on nuclear clean-up in the fanner Soviet Union, where environmental considerations always came bottom of the list. None of the money has been delivered; a ,key set of talks between the two sides last week ended inconclusively. If the hesitations continue for much longer, Russians believe it may all be too late.

Yuri 'tevdokimov, Governor of the Murniansk region, says: "I don't want to be rude. But I think that few people in Europe have appreciated the nature of the real risk." Until recently, the Nerpa submarine repair yard at Snezhnogorsk was off-limits. Even now, you sense that the plant managers are wary of their own bravery in opening the rusting gates. And yet they reckon they have little option. They want the rest of the world to help them to stave off the danger of nuclear apocalypse and they believe that the danger is real. In the words of Pavel Steblin, director of the plant, "God forbid that a tragedy should happen here. But if it does, the world would be involved." In theory, Western countries already acknowledge the dangers posed by this rusting nuclear graveyard. British officials argue, however, that Russian bureaucracy is obstructive; there is said to be a lack of transparency, and the legal framework, especially for liability guarantees, is unclear. The only thing both sides agree on is that if something goes wrong, it could go very wrong indeed. Russian officials talk of "200 Hiroshimas." Snezhnogorsk is just northwest of Murmansk, a city of half a million inhabitants and endless crumbling apartment blocks. Here the economic turnaround that is getting under way in other parts of Russia is still a distant prospect, at best We are well inside the Arctic Circle, and it is broad daylight at midnight. Even that s@ge, neverfading light fails to lend Murmansk real charm, however. This is a place of Sovietstyle desolation. The Snezhnogorsk submarines are orily part of a much larger problem in the Munnansk region. There are 200 nuclear reactors and 80 nuclear submarines waiting to be decommissioned throughout the region; the Northem Fleet has its main base at Severomorsk, west of Murmansk. The Lepse, an old Soviet supply ship in Murmansk Bay, has hundreds of spent nuclear fuel assemblies on board.

Alexander Ruzankin, chairman of the nuclear conversion and radiation safety committee for the region, says: "I don't know of any technology that could treat that boat properly." Yet, if the rusting Lepse were to sink, it would unleash radioactivity on a catastrophic scale. At Andreyeva Bay, further west, 20,000 spent fuel rods stored in rusty containers would be equally difficult to deal with. In short, a catalogue of environmental nightmares. According to Ruzankin, submarines are being decommissioned at the rate of around 15 a year; to do it safely is expensive. The Russians calculate that $US1.5 billion ($3.55 billion) is needed to get the nuclear problems of the Barents Sea region safely under control. Russia, it is generally agreed, cannot afford to foot the whole bill. Other money comes from the Norwegians, the Americans and the European Union. Ruzankin is impatient both with his own Government and with the European failure to acknowledge the potential problem for the rest of the world. He also suggests that the Kremlin is ahnost as reluctant to focus on the problem as the rest of Europe. Nobody in Murnktnsk or Snezhnogorsk can be unaware of the literally explosive problems that lurk on their doorstep. But, as Ruzankin points out, "Moscow is far away. We're next door." INDFPENDENT

Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, BBC Deal reached on Agent Orange

Vietnam says up to a million people were affected Hanoi and Washington are to research jointly the effects of the notorious chemical defoliant Agent Orange, which the US armed forces sprayed on Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

The issue has long dogged relations between the former enemies, with Vietnam's authorities alleging that the health of up to a million people has been severely damaged.

When he was in office, former US President Bill Clinton called for more international research into Agent Orange, and Tuesday's breakthrough accord will free up US funds to do just that.

The US Congress has already approved funding for the studies, but the release of that money was contingent on the two sides reaching agreement on how to conduct the research.

Scientists representing the two governments met in the Vietnamese capital and agreed to conduct a study to screen soil for its most dangerous chemical component, dioxin.

There will also be a joint Vietnam-US scientific conference on human health and environmental effects of Agent Orange, tentatively arranged for April 2002 in Vietnam.


The Hanoi meeting was the first between the two sides after five days of talks on joint research broke down in Singapore last November.

A statement from the US embassy in Hanoi said both sides were "gratified with the spirit of co-operation and scientific discussion".

"[They] look forward to future interactions and continued progress in addressing research collaboration on dioxin and related compounds, a scientific issue of importance to both countries," it said.

US troops sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange and other defoliants on Vietnam between 1962 and 1971 to deny jungle cover to communist fighters who eventually triumphed in 1975.

The chemicals were contaminated by TCDD, the most dangerous form of dioxin, which is a known carcinogen.

Washington, however, has consistently argued there is no solid scientific proof that Agent Orange caused, as Vietnam and some US veterans say, a wide range of illnesses, including tens of thousands of mental and physical birth defects.

Many US scientists doubt that the problem is that widespread and argue that more research is needed to establish exactly what impact dioxins have on human health.

Too hot?- Just move the Earth NZ Herald June 2001

LONDON Scientists have hit upon a novel way to save the planet: move it to a cooler spot. All it would take, they say, is a few comets deflected towards Earth and its orbit would be altered. Our world would be sent spinning into a safer, colder part of the solar system. The plan is the brainchild of a group of Nasa engineers and American astronomers who say it could add six billion years to the planet's working life, effectively doubling it. "The technology is not at all far-fetched," said Dr Greg Laughlin, of the Nasa Ames Research Centre in California. "It involves the same techniques that people now suggest could be used to deflect asteroids or comets heading towards Earth." The prooosal by him and his colleagues involves carefully directing a comet or asteroid so it sweeps close by the planet and transfers some of its gravitational energy to Earth. "Earth's orbital speed would increase as a result and we wotdd move to a higher orbit away from the Sun," Dr Laughlin said. Engineers would then direct their comet so that it passed near Jupiter or Saturn, where the reverse would occur. It would pick up energy fmm one of the giant planets, its orbit would bring it back to Eardi, and the process would be repeated. In the short term, the plan offers a solution to global warming, although the team was actually concemed with a more drastic danger: the Sun will heat up in about a billion years and "seriously compromise" the biosphere by fiwing us. Hence the group's decision to try to save Earth. "All you have to do is strap a chemical rocket to an asteroid or comet and fire it at just the right time," said Dr Laughlin. "It is basic rocket science." The plan has its worrying aspects, however. Space engineers would have to be careful when they aimed their asteroid or comet. The slightest miscalculation could fire it straight at Earth with devastating results. It is a point the group acknowledges. "The collision of a lOOkm diameter object with the Earth at cosmic velocity would sterilise the biosphere most effectively, at least to the level of bacteria," they write in Astrophysics and Space Science. "The danger cannot be overemphasised." There is also the vexed question of the Moon. Scientific American points out that if Earth were pushed out of its position it is "most likely the Moon would be stripped away from Earth," radically upsetting our climate. The criticisms are accepted by the scientists. But one advantage seen by Dr Laughlin is that "any alien astronomers observing our solar system would know that something odd had occurred, and would realise an intelligent life form was responsible." OBSERVER