Manukau Courier : March 18th 2014
6 MANUKAU COURIER, MARCH 18, 2014 NEWS A real blast from the past Atomic worries came to Auckland one evening in June 1962 when a sudden, giant red flash lit up the northern sky. A lifetime of events and unplanned happenings are now fading behind the shutters of old age but that is one moment I’ll never forget. It was a frightening out- come of American nuclear tests in Johnston Atoll, half the Pacific away, using bombs 1000 times more powerful than Hiroshima’s. The memory has homed in on me again with new coverage of Marshall Islanders still protesting against testing which cost them their ancestral homes in the 1960s. Atomic tests exposed thou- sands in the surrounding area to radioactive fallout, and Bikini islanders have lived in exile since. Some returned in the early 1970s when US scientists declared Bikini ‘‘safe for resettlement’’ but were moved off again in 1978 after eating high levels of radiation from foods grown on the former test site. Around 2000 mourners marched recently in the Japanese port city of Yaizu, to the grave of Aikichi Kuboyama – chief radio operator of the Daigo Fukuryu ‘‘aborted in flight due to failure of the Thor launch vehicle’’. The missile flew a normal trajectory for 59 seconds. Its engine stopped and the missile began breaking up. Missile parts and radioac- Maru (Lucky Dragon), a fishing boat, 60km from a Bikini bomb explosion. They carried a photo of Kuboyama, who died of acute organ malfunction seven months after the test. Fifteen other crew members also died later. One marcher, 80-year-old Matashichi Oishi, was one of 23 fishermen aboard. He too recalls the sky we saw: ‘‘I remember the brilliant flash in the west, the frightening sound that followed and the extraordinary sky which turned red as far as I could see.’’ From an official report on those tests: ‘‘Strong electromagnetic signals, significant magnetic field disturbances and earth currents were observed. ‘‘Energetic beta particles following the Earth’s magnetic field lit up the sky, other high-energy electrons became trapped and formed radiation belts around the Earth. ‘‘These belts – 100 to 1000 times stronger than background levels – were eventually trapped by the Earth’s magnetic field . . . heightened levels of radiation crippling one-third of all satellites in low earth orbit . . . seven others were completely useless, including Telstar, the first commercial/communication satellite’’. The tests were a response to the Soviet announcement that they would end a threeyear moratorium on testing. At that stage, Johnston Atoll sounded like a holiday resort for mad scientists. One bomb’s electromag- netic pulse caused electrical damage in Hawaii, about 1445km away. And our nuclear moments got a mention in technical reports: ‘‘The visible phenomena were widespread and intense; a very large area of the Pacific was illuminated.’’ One test rocket with a nuclear warhead was lost by the radar tracking equipment and destroyed in flight. A second launch was tive contamination fell on Johnston Island and the surrounding ocean after the range safety officer ordered its destruction. Another rocket was later fired on the launch pad but never lifted off. ‘‘Burning fuel . . . flowed over the compacted coral surrounding the launch mount, producing highly contaminated areas.’’ Troops were brought in to clean up dumped rubbish containing plutonium in the lagoon. Eighty-nine per cent had cancers later: Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was the biggest killer plus thyroid cancer, throat cancer, oesophageal cancer, kidney cancer, multiple myaloma and various skin cancers. Thirty per cent experienced ‘‘reproductive inefficiency up to and including stillbirth and deformities’’. ‘‘Reproductive inefficiency!’’ All for nothing. Eventually the tests ended. Not because of concern over those figures. LARGEST LIQUOR CHAIN IN NZ WITH OVER 215 OUTLETS! Lindauer Classic Range 750ml $11.4911each Coruba Original 1ltr & Coruba Gold 1ltr $38.9938each Haagen Lager Haagen Lager OR Wild Buck Bottles 15s Wild Buck Bottles 15s $19.99 Coruba & Cola 5% Bottles 10 pk OR Smirnoff Ice Double Coruba & Cola 5% Bottles 10 pk Black 7% Bottles 10pk $23.99 Otahuhu L.C. Hall Ave L.C. Bairds Road L.C. Mangere Discount L.C. Savill L.C. Otahuhu Mangere Mangere Everglade L.C. 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Oh no. It was because wartime blasts would indiscriminately destroy friendly and enemy satellites alike. Thank heavens for that failure. ❚ To contact Pat Booth email email@example.com or write care of this newspaper. All replies are open for publication unless marked Not For Publication. Council to help with assessments Auckland Council is taking new steps to protect the city’s valuable cultural heritage. Under the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, the council will contact iwi on behalf of landowners who need a cultural impact assessment as part of a resource consent. It’s hoped that will make it easier for applicants and speed up the assessment process. Council chief planning officer Roger Blakeley says more people will be requiring assessments now that there is a focus on protecting cultural heritage within the city. ‘‘It is important for Auckland to protect its cultural heritage and values – and for the rules to be workable. ‘‘We’re working closely with iwi to find ways to get the right balance,’’ Dr Blakeley says. Applicants must con- sult iwi if there is going to be any impact on air or water or if changes will be made in areas of cultural significance. ‘‘Providing a facilitator to contact iwi on applicants’ behalf is just one of the steps we can take to help make the process more straightforward,’’ he says. The council is also working on steps to clarify the assessment guidelines. Meanwhile, iwi are trying to help applicants by finding ways to increase the certainty of the process. Dr Blakeley says an assessment needs to be done before a final decision is made on a building consent application.
March 14th 2014
March 20th 2014