Since the 1980s, Friends of the Earth's (FoE) annual Radioactive Exposure Tour has exposed thousands of people first-hand to the realities of “radioactive racism” and to the environmental impacts of the nuclear industry.
The tour is a 10-day journey into the heart of the breathtaking semi-arid landscapes of South Australia and its atomic history and current uranium mining operations.
A new campsite this year was at Point Lowely at the top of the Spencer Gulf, near Port Augusta. BHP Billiton plans to expand the Olympic Dam copper/uranium mine to such a degree that it will require over 200 million litres of fresh water a day for processing.
Point Lowley is its proposed site for a desalination plant for this purpose. Point Lowely is also the only breeding ground of the Giant Australian cuttlefish. This proposal directly threatens the existence of this charismatic and unique species.
Each year, we visit Roxby Downs Olympic Dam copper/uranium mine on Kokatha country. BHP Billiton plans to expand its operations to become the largest open cut mine in the world.
FoE is campaigning against the proposed expansion and to have the South Australian Roxby Downs Indenture Act repealed.
This law grants the mine wide-ranging exemptions from the Aboriginal heritage protection, environmental protection, natural resources and freedom of information acts.
This year was a special event as Lake Eyre South was full of water and we experienced the expansive wonder of the inland sea.
Arabunna elder Uncle Kevin Buzzacott accompanied us, as always, through out this country. A highlight was our visit to the sacred mound springs. The springs threatened by BHP's overuse of the Great Artesian Basin water ― it uses more than 35 million litres per day.
We visited the in-situ leach uranium mine of Beverley in the Gammon Ranges, which is also set to expand. We met with Adnyamathanha elder Eunice Marsh who told us about the affect the mine has had on the country and the divisions created within the Adnyamathanha community.
We visited the magnificent Arkaroola Wilderness sanctuary, also threatened by a uranium mine proposal.
Travelling and camping with us on the journey was the indefatigable Avon Hudson, anti-nuclear veteran and Maralinga whistleblower. Each year, we hear first-hand accounts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and learn about ongoing nuclear proliferation risks arising from the uranium mining and export industry.
In a post-Fukushima world, it is now more important than ever to get active not radioactive.
You can hear from the Radioactive Exposure Tour on the Radioactive Show on Melbourne community radio station 3CR's on 855am, 3CR Digital and online streaming. Keep radical community radio alive by donating to the Radioactive Show during 3CR's June 6-19 Radiothon, during 3CR's live radiothon broadcast at 10am, June 18, online at 3CR.org.au or by calling (03) 9419 8377.
[Madeline Hudson is a member of the Anti-nuclear and Clean Energy collective.]