Explosion during Maralinga 'clean-up'

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Explosion during Maralinga 'clean-up'

By Jim Green

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency has revealed that an explosion took place during the clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear bomb site in western South Australia on March 21. The blast scattered radioactive waste up to 70 metres.

A process known as in-situ vitrification was being used to solidify soil containing plutonium left over from the British nuclear tests conducted in the 1950s. The process melts contaminated debris into a leach-resistant ceramic block to immobilise the radioactive material. The explosion occurred when a gas released in the process ignited.

"This is another example of the reasons Australia should be getting out of the nuclear business altogether. It shows that there is still no such thing as a safe way to deal with nuclear waste", WA Greens senator Dee Margetts said.