Radioactive Exposure Tour 2010

Friends of the Earth is hosting the annual Radioactive Exposure Tour from May 14-23, 2010.

Register your interest soon as places always fill fast! Since the 1980s, these tours have exposed thousands of people first-hand to the realities of 'radioactive racism' and to the environmental impacts of the nuclear industry.

Radioactive Exposure Tour 2010

By Kasey Sparks and Steve Holdsworth

Friends of the Earth is hosting the annual Radioactive Exposure Tour from May 14-23, 2010. Since the 1980s, these tours have exposed thousands of people first-hand to the realities of 'radioactive racism' and to the environmental impacts of the nuclear industry.

After travelling from Melbourne to Adelaide then heading north to the SA desert, we'll visit BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam uranium mine at Roxby Downs, the largest uranium deposit in the world. Friends of the Earth is currently working on a campaign to have the SA Roxby Downs Indenture Act repealed. This legislation allows the mine to operate with wide-ranging exemptions from the Aboriginal Heritage Protection Act, the Environment Protection Act, the Natural Resources Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

We'll watch sunset over Lake Eyre and see the Mound Springs - oases which are fed by the underlying Great Artesian Basin and host unique flora and fauna. Sadly, some of the Mound Springs have been adversely effected or destroyed altogether by the massive water take for the Olympic Dam mine - over 35 million litres daily. The water is taken from Arabunna land and we'll hopefully get to spend time with Arabunna elder Uncle Kevin Buzzacott, Co-President of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance.

Indigenous people across the world suffer most directly from the impacts of the nuclear industry. The tactics used by uranium mining companies against Aboriginal communities include: ignoring the concerns of Traditional Owners; divide-and-rule tactics; bribery; 'humbugging' Traditional Owners (exerting persistent, unwanted pressure); providing Traditional Owners with false or misleading information; and threats, most commonly legal threats. We'll hear about the notorious incident concerning the laying of a water pipeline on Arabunna land in the mid-1990s. WMC Resources, the company that operated the mine at the time, used divide-and-rule tactics against Traditional Owners, leading to violence, terrorism, imprisonment, and the death of one person.

We'll hear first-hand accounts of the British nuclear bomb tests from Maralinga veteran and whistle-blower Avon Hudson (also a Co-President of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance). We'll learn about ongoing WMD proliferation risks arising from the uranium mining and export industry. Australia's uranium exports have resulted in the production of over 114 tonnes of plutonium — enough to build over 11,000 nuclear weapons. Successive Australian governments have been willing to sell uranium to nuclear weapons states, states refusing to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, states blocking progress on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, states with a history of secret nuclear weapons research, and states stockpiling 'civil' plutonium. The International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards system attempts to prevent 'civil' nuclear materials and facilities being used for WMD production, yet the recently-retired Director General of the IAEA Dr Mohamed El Baradei has acknowledged "vulnerabilities" in its "fairly limited" safeguards system and complained about the "half hearted" efforts to tighten the system.

After stopping for a swim at Coward Springs, we'll head east and camp in the beautiful Gammon Ranges and visit the not-so-beautiful Beverley uranium mine. This mine uses the in-situ leach uranium mining method, which leaves underground aquifers polluted with a toxic cocktail of radionuclides, heavy metals and acid. We'll hear about the impacts of uranium mining in the region and the ugly history of the Beverley mine including police attacks against Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners and 'greenies' in May 2000 and the use of pepper spray on an 11 year old Adnyamathanha girl.

We'll visit the magnificent Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary and hear about the current struggle to prevent uranium mining there, and we'll camp in the Sanctuary and in one of the beautiful gorges further south.

Participants get to experience affinity groups, consensus decision making, desert camping and vegetarian, communal cooking while travelling to some of the most beautiful and ecologically significant environments in Australia. Every person who has gone on a tour has had an amazing experience and many of the participants from various tours have made a considerable impacts contribution to the anti-nuclear movement.

We're particularly keen for you to come along if you are involved in anti-nuclear campaigning or if you're interested in getting involved. (If you'd like to come on the tour but can't see yourself getting actively involved in anti-nuclear campaigns, please pay the 'guest' price listed below.)

The costs are:

* concession $450
* waged $750
* guests $1,000

If you're interested in joining in the 2010 Radioactive Exposure Tour, contact Kasey Sparks, <writewithya@gmail.com>, 0425 862834 or Steve Holdsworth <1meteorsteve@gmail.com>, 0430 354887.

For uni students - we leave Melbourne on Friday and Adelaide on Saturday, and we'll get you home on the following weekend, so you'll only miss 5-6 days of uni.

More information on the Radioactive Exposure Tours is posted at <www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear>.

To learn more about the issues check out:

* some of the FoE webpages at <www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/oz> (e.g. the uranium mining section and the radioactive racism section)

* the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance website <www.anfa.org.au>

* another key campaign in 2010 will stopping the Rudd government's plan to dump nuclear waste on Aboriginal land in the NT - for more info see <www. beyondnuclearinitiative.wordpress.com>

For more information, see www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/oz/radtour/2010.