Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 8. 1965.

Nuclear Testing Potential Danger

Nuclear Testing Potential Danger

"The Lower Hutt mayor and his councillors are doing more damage to Petone than the French nuclear tests will do to us," Sir Ernest Marsden said in a panel discussion at the university recently.

However, Sir Ernest did not condone the testing.

"We must do what we can to stop nuclear warfare. We must do what we can to promote nuclear disarmament. We must face up to it this year or we will never face up to it," he said.

A modern high-power nuclear bomb would obliterate everything as far out as Titahi Bay if it was dropped on Wellington.

If France wanted a nuclear deterrent it must test to ensure its nuclear resources would go as far as possible. This was logical unless war was outlawed.

If the French kept to Pitcairn for their lest then not much fault could be found with it. Natural soil radiation in some parts of the world caused greater radiation exposure than would be found 250 miles from the intended French explosion.

Only one-tenth of the number of mutations caused by natural means were caused by fallout from past nuclear tests.

But test fallout could become a serious danger if the testing habit spread and increased fallout tenfold. The results of the United States tests of three years ago were more serious than had been thought and fallout had increased 700 per cent. Much fallout in the upper atmosphere had drifted down to the Southern Hemisphere.

Also recent research had caused scientists to lower the limit of radiation considered "safe."

Coherent clouds of nuclear fallout could form and drift far from the centre of the testing area. This had caused the burning of some Japanese fishermen after an American test. The Swedes had observed such a cloud about 2000 kilometres from a Russian test. So the Pitcairn lest could be a greater hazard than was thought, especially if the French exploded their device near to Tahiti than was at present intended.

If the gene structure of people in overseas lands was affected it would only take 10 years for cross marriage to bring genetic defects to New Zealanders. Genetic changes were everlasting and future generations would have to put up with whatever mistakes were made today, Sir Ernest said.