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25 September 1957 Maralinga Atomic Tests

 25 September 1957 Maralinga Atomic Tests

On 25 September 1957 the second of three explosions of atomic bombs took place at Maralinga, yielding six kilotons, eleven days after the first and smaller bomb which yielded one kiloton. The testing of these weapons, code named ‘Antler’, followed an agreement between the Australian and British governments. After earlier tests held at Woomera in 1953 and Maralinga in 1956 Prime Minister Menzies decided that a more permanent organisation was needed which would give Australia more political as well as administrative control over the Maralinga range and this resulted in a new body: the Maralinga Board of Management under the control of the Department of Supply. Another body, the National Radiation Advisory Committee, was also set up to monitor safeguards at the testing site. The third bomb in the series, called ‘Taranaki’, was detonated from a balloon at a high altitude and fallout from the explosion was reported, in the form of acid rain, as far away as Adelaide. In fact at least one of the bombs contained a highly radioactive component and this resulted in the high radiation levels discovered in the area after the tests. After further so-called minor trials, which went on until 1963, Maralinga was closed down and in spite of a major clean-up in 1967 it remained virtually deserted.

Robert Milliken, No Conceivable Injury, Penguin, 1986, pp. 222-24.

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