Coordinates: Maralinga in the remote western areas of South Australia was the home of the Maralinga Tjarutja, a southern Pitjantjatjara Indigenous Australian people. Maralinga was the site of the secret British nuclear tests in the 1950s. The site measures about 3,300 km² in area. In January 1985, the Maralinga Tjarutja native title land was handed back to the Maralinga people under the Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act, 1984 passed by both houses of the South Australian Parliament in December 1984 and proclaimed in January 1987.
Under an agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia, efforts were made to clean up the site before the Maralinga people resettled on the land in 1995. They named their new community Oak Valley ( it is approximately 128 km NNW of the original township. The effectiveness of the cleanup has been disputed on a number of occasions. );
The population is generally around 23–50. During special cultural activities with visitors from neighbouring communities, it rises to 1,500 people.
Nuclear tests and cleanup
The Maralinga and Emu Fields were the scene of UK nuclear testing and were contaminated with radioactive waste in the 1950s. Maralinga was surveyed by Len Beadell in the early 1950s, and followed the survey of the site called Emu Field, which was further north and where the first two tests were conducted.
On 27 September 1956, Operation Buffalo commenced at Maralinga, as Emu Field was found to be too remote a site. The operation consisted of the testing of four fission bombs, codenamed One Tree, Marcoo, Kite and Breakaway. One Tree and Breakaway were exploded from towers; Marcoo was exploded at ground level and Kite was released by a Royal Air Force Vickers Valiant bomber from a height of 30,000 ft (9,144 m). This was the first launching of a British atomic weapon from an aircraft.
Operation Antler followed in 1957. Antler was designed to test the triggering mechanisms of the weapons. Three tests began in September, codenamed Tadje, Biak and Taranaki. The first two tests were conducted from towers; the last was suspended from balloons. Yields from the weapons were 1 kiloton, 6 kilotons and 25 kilotons respectively.
The McClelland Royal Commission of 1984–1985 identified significant residual contamination at some sites. British and Australian servicemen were purposely exposed to fallout from the blasts, to study radiological effects. The local Aboriginal people have claimed they were poisoned by the tests and, in 1994, the Australian Government reached a compensation settlement with Maralinga Tjarutja of $13.5 million in settlement of all claims in relation to the nuclear testing. Previously many of these facts were kept from the public.
Despite the governments of Australia and the UK paying for two decontamination programs, concerns have been expressed that some areas of the Maralinga test sites are still contaminated 10 years after being declared 'clean'.
- Temperature from 6.5°C in Winter to 44.7°C in Summer, overnight minimum −3º in winter.
- Rainfall average .75mm – 1.25mm
- Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act, 1984
- Operation Buffalo
- "Summary of findings of the Royal Commission". Retrieved 2006-10-06.
- "Maralinga rehabilitation project". Australian Department of Education, Science and Training. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
- "Maralinga finally cleaned up", 7.30 Report, ABC TV, broadcast 1 March 2000
- "Maralinga: The Fall Out Continues", Background Briefing, ABC Radio National, broadcast 16 April 2000
- Parkinson, A., (2007), Maralinga: Australia's Nuclear Waste Cover-up, ABC Books, Sydney, ISBN 978-0-7333-2108-5
- Jim Green, "Nuclear waste and indigenous rights", Perspective, ABC Radio National, broadcast 7 February 2008, accessed 9 March 2008
- Philip Dorling. "Ten years after the all-clear, Maralinga is still toxic", Sydney Morning Herald 12 November 2011, accessed 12 Nov 2011
- Parkinson, Alan 2007. Maralinga: Australia’s Nuclear Waste Cover-up
- Tame, Adrian & Robotham, F.P.J. 1982. Maralinga: British A-Bomb Australian Legacy. Fontana / Collins, Melbourne. ISBN 0-00-636391-1.
- Mattingley, Christobel; Yalata & Oak Communities. 2009. Maralinga: The Anangu Story. Allen & Unwin – a children's book about the history and culture of the region, the nuclear testing controversy and the region's original owners
- Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements (ATNS) project at the Indigenous Studies Program, The University of Melbourne
- British Atomic Testing in Australia
- BBC Radio 4 photos from Maralinga
- British nuclear tests at Maralinga – Fact sheet 129 from National Archives of Australia