Records relating to atomic testing

Between 1952 and 1968 the British Government, with the agreement and support of Australia, carried out nuclear tests at three sites in Australia – Monte Bello Islands off the Western Australian coast, and Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia. Both British and Australian personnel were present at these sites when testing was carried out.

In 1984, following growing public concern about the health effects of the nuclear tests, the Australian Government established a Royal Commission to investigate. To provide the Royal Commission with access to records relevant to its inquiries, the National Archives imposed a records disposal freeze on all records relating to the nuclear tests and the test sites (July 1984). This freeze remains in place today and relates particularly to records containing information about the following:

  • test sites, including their construction, use, decontamination and dismantling
  • operations conducted on the sites
  • personnel serving on the sites
  • personnel serving elsewhere in connection with the tests
  • treatment or disposal of equipment used in connection with the tests, whether located on the sites or elsewhere.