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Lallie Lennon provided convincing testimony of the injuries suffered from the fall-out.
Nearly 60 years have passed since Totem 1, a British nuclear test in the Australian desert, was recklessly conducted in unfavourable meteorological conditions.
Nuclear testing of any sort, even in the most “controlled” of circumstances, is inherently abusive, a crime against the environment and humanity for countless generations to come. Yet the effects of Totem 1 were particularly bad, even by the warped standards of the era.
The mushroom cloud did not behave in the way it was supposed to. Instead of rising uniformly, part of it spread laterally, causing fallout to roll menacingly at ground level over a remote yet still populated corner of South Australia, sowing injury, illness and death in its wake.
The number of casualties is unknown because the secretive and unaccountable nuclear establishment has always declined to investigate the full impact of its own criminal negligence. But it has been suggested by investigators that perhaps 50 short-term Aboriginal fatalities resulted.
In addition to those who died, many others were exposed to harmful levels of radiation. The long-term health effects on these individuals have never been charted — but anecdotal reports of high cancer rates and horrendous birth defects in isolated “downwinder” communities have circulated.
At the time of the tests, it was well known by authorities that communities of Aboriginal people were close by. Yet the official attitude was that the concerns of a “handful of natives” could not be allowed to interfere with the “interests” of the British Commonwealth.