Australia's Defence Minister, Mr. Jim Killen, has confirmed that half a kilogram (1.1 pounds) of?
Australia's Defence Minister, Mr. Jim Killen, has confirmed that half a kilogram (1.1 pounds) of recoverable plutonium is buried at Maralinga in South Australia. Remote Maralinga was the site for a series of British nuclear tests in the 1950s, and Mr. Killen said security measures were now substantially increased because of the temptation for potential terrorists to recover the plutonium.
SYNOPSIS: Maralinga is a deserted township about 12,000 kilometres (7,500 miles) north-west of Adelaide, on the barren Nullabor Plain. The town's name is aboriginal for "field of thunder", recalling the period in the 1950s when it served as base for British nuclear tests.
The news team visiting Maralinga found that the security in the area consisted of four Commonwealth policemen, who stand guard duty on a four-week cycle. Interest is the area increased after an Australian newspaper revealed that half a kilogram (1.1 pounds) of recoverable plutonium is amongst 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of other plutonium waste buried near the former rocket range. The police live in an aluminium caravan while on duty near the concealed waste.
The British Ministry of Defence says that the buried residue is the result of an experiment in which a disc of plutonium was shattered, and no nuclear explosion was involved. The ministry says that the fragments were placed in steel boxes, and buried deep in a concrete-lined pit covered with steel plates.
It is reported from Australia's capital of Canberra that the government is seeking talks with the British government over the future of the buried deposits. And there is pressure to remove it. Mr. Avon Hudson was based at Maralinga with the Australian Air Force, and claims to have helped to bury the plutonium. Now he wants it moved. Reporter Joan Bullock asked him about details of the burial.