Radioactive Waste and Australia’s Aboriginal People

Jim Green, 2017, ‘Radioactive Waste and Australia’s Aboriginal People’, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp.33-50.

Click here to read as a PDF (and here is a link to the journal webpage).

Abstract: The treatment of Australia’s Aboriginal people by the nuclear industry (broadly defined as private- and public-sector agencies pursuing uranium and nuclear projects) is a poorly researched topic. That is not merely a gap in the academic research on related topics (the history of the nuclear industry in Australia; the history of race relations in Australia; etc.), but it has “real world” consequences. Put simply, the paucity of information about the mistreatment of Aboriginal people makes it easier for nuclear interests to repeat past practices; and conversely, proper documentation and publication of past (and current) practices detrimental to Aboriginal people can make it more difficult for nuclear interests to repeat those practices. Over the past decade Friends of the Earth Australia (FoE) has sought to partially remedy the information deficit in the context of its work with Aboriginal communities involved in debates regarding uranium mining and proposed radioactive waste repositories (the author works for FoE). One thread of that work is the growing body of multimedia work (and a Master’s thesis) by FoE member Jessie Boylan covering the legacy of the atomic bomb tests, uranium mining and waste repository proposals (see <>). Another thread of the project is detailed written documentation of past and present incidents of mistreatment of Aboriginal people by nuclear interests (as well as multimedia presentations of this material – see, for example, <>). This article builds on that research and focuses on attempts to impose radioactive waste repositories on the land of unwilling Aboriginal communities in South Australia.