2004, 52 Minutes
Did fallout from nuclear testing contaminate Australia's milk supply?
In 2001 scientists in a Melbourne laboratory made a startling discovery. They found thousands of jars of ashed human bone, which had been stored for up to 40 years. All contained evidence of one of the most dangerous poisons on earth – Strontium 90, a by-product of nuclear testing that can cause bone cancer and leukemia. All had been collected during autopsies, without consent. Silent Storm reveals the story behind this astonishing case of officially sanctioned “body-snatching”.
Set against a backdrop of the Cold War, the saga follows celebrated scientist Hedley Marston’s attempt to blow the whistle on radioactive fallout from the British atomic tests in Australia. Cities and grazing land have been contaminated, he claims. Strontium 90 was in the milk supply. Marston’s findings were not only disputed, he was targeted as “a scientist of counter-espionage interest”. Yet the government’s own bone surveys proved his assertion right.
Despite attempts to bury the information, debate continues to rage. Is there a safe level of radioactive fallout? And what could the health consequences be for the generations of people exposed to Strontium 90?
A Film Australia National Interest Program. Produced in association with SBS Independent. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
NB Families wishing to make further enquiries about the Strontium 90 survey can call the health department in the state or territory where their loved-one died. The state of Tasmania was not involved in the survey.
Writer/Director: Peter Butt
Running Time: 52 Minutes
Classification: Exempt from classification
Curriculum Links: Science; SOSE; Discovering Democracy; Politics; Public Health; Ethics, Modern History NSW Stage 6: Nuclear Testing in the Pacific; English.