This month, the Radioactive Exposure (RAD) Tour will travel almost 5000 kilometres through three states exposing the reality of radioactive racism, the impacts of uranium mining, radioactive waste and nuclear expansion.
The Rad Tour is a wild ride. It bundles activists, campaigners and anyone with an interest in learning about the nuclear industry into buses to travel dusty desert roads and long highways on a journey through Australia’s nuclear landscape.
Organised by Friends of the Earth's Anti-nuclear and Clean Energy (ACE) collective, Rad Tour is an opportunity to build community resistance and develop creative campaign strategies for the most pressing nuclear issues.
We gather campaigners from across the country, meet with elders and traditional owners who have for too long experienced radioactive racism on their lands, and connect with communities set to be most affected by nuclear activities. We listen, we learn, we collaborate.
The Rad Tour is always changing; each year we design the tour in line with current environmental and political concerns. Last year, we travelled from Melbourne to Muckaty in the Northern Territory to meet traditional owners campaigning to stop a nuclear waste dump being built on their land. After discovering a sordid and racist history of nuclear testing and mining crossing South Australia, we headed north to Tennant Creek, where we met with Warlmanpa traditional owner Dianne Stokes and many other elders who have been fighting the federal government's plans to build a nuclear waste dump on their land for almost a decade.
Last year’s tour was an inspiring journey, after which many of the crew went on to organise fundraisers, parties and public events in Sydney and Melbourne to increase awareness and raise badly needed funds to support Beyond Nuclear Initiative campaigners and traditional owners in the lead up to their Federal Court case.
This year, following the historic win at Muckaty — the community defeated the dump proposal in June last year — the focus of the Rad Tour has shifted to new horizons. The recent exploration in western NSW for rare earths and uranium mining, and the potential of nuclear expansion in South Australia under the recently announced Royal Commission, has put nuclear power and nuclear waste back on the political agenda.
Starting in Melbourne, we will journey up the east coast to NSW and visit the abandoned nuclear reactor project at Jervis Bay before visiting Australia’s controversial and only reactor at Lucas Heights. Then we'll head west to meet with communities in Dubbo and Broken Hill and hear about what they are doing to combat the development of new mines in their communities. We will then explore some more nuclear history at the disused uranium mine at Radium Hill before witnessing the contentious method of in-situ leach mining at the Beverly 4 uranium mine in South Australia.
The Rad Tour will visit BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam uranium mine at Roxby Downs, the largest uranium deposit in the world. The mine is a long-standing environmental and social disaster and BHP plans to trial the contentious acid heap leach mining method this year.
Continuing south to Woomera, we'll hear first-hand accounts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu Field from nuclear veteran and whistleblower Avon Hudson. We'll stop by Nurrungar, the desert surveillance base that closed in 1999, before arriving in Adelaide right in time for the Students of Sustainability Conference and then back to Melbourne.
If you are considering coming on the Rad Tour as a first timer, or want to get back into nuclear-free campaigning, this is the year to get on board. It’s going to be a trip of action, with skill-shares, protests, marches, strategy meetings and a lot of collaboration cross-country. We are already making plans to cause a stir in each community we visit to make sure that politicians in the cities know that Australians support a clean and nuclear-free future.
Before my experience on the Rad Tour last year, I had little knowledge of the nuclear industry in Australia and came with little campaign experience. I found it an amazing way to learn about a dark and rarely discussed part of Australian history, experience the power of issue-based campaigning, and become part of a passionate and powerful movement.
This year’s Rad Tour runs from June 27 to July 8. The costs are: concession $550, waged $750, solidarity $950. For more info visit radioactivetour.com or contact Jemila on 042 696 250, firstname.lastname@example.org
The ACE Collective meets on Mondays at 5pm at Friends of the Earth, 312 Smith Street, Collingwood, Melbourne. Come along to get involved.
[Jemila Rushton] has been campaigning with the ACE Collective since May last year after joining the Radioactive Exposure Tour from Melbourne to Muckaty. This year she is due to finish her studies in community development and complete a study in relation to policy and public opinion throughout the Muckaty nuclear-free campaign.]