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Death toll call marks nuclear test anniversary

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 15 October 2003


Atomic test veterans have called for a study into just how many of those involved in the tests remain alive as Australia marks the 50th anniversary of mainland nuclear testing in Australia.

The first detonation was at Emu Field in South Australia's far north-west on this day in 1953, with subsequent testing at nearby Maralinga.

South Australian Nuclear Veterans coordinator Avon Hudson says about 8,000 civilians and as many servicemen were involved.

But he says no-one knows how many have died or whether the testing was responsible.

"We know that there's a very high mortality rate and it might be too embarrassing to come out with that figure," he said.

"I've been at it for 30-odd years and we were told back in the seventies it would be impossible but the Government doesn't want to track the people down."

Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta elder, Emily Munyngka Austin, says some of the women survivors of the testing are still experiencing health problems caused by the test.

"They get sore eyes, some of them get terrible skin," she said.

Australian Conservation Council says the proposed low level radioactive waste dump at Woomera has brought full circle Australia's involvement in the nuclear industry.


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