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The Somerton Man Case. The body of a man found on an Australian beach close to a major Atomic Testing ground, he was probably poisoned, a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and an unbroken Code page found and associated to him. Set against a Cold War background in 1948, was this man a spy? We think so and this blog focuses on the evidence that was left behind and in some cases missed, the Code page, Dry Cleaning numbers, A Poem and a small, torn piece of paper bearing the words TAMAM SHUD.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Somerton Man, a Port Pirie connection? Elevated Lead Levels found in Sample of Hair.

The Port Pirie Connection?

Graph from Spectrometry Sampling
'The Most interesting Quality of the lead trace is how the level changes over time. The trace maintains a relatively constant level over the first half and then increases substantially over the second half.

From this we can infer that he had a significantly higher level of lead exposure in the last week or so before his death'

This information comes from the Adelaide University Electrical Engineering Department and a study carried out by Honours Year students in 2013.

Port Pirie, A Connection?

Port Pirie is situated North of Adelaide and on the main road to Port Augusta and eventually Woomera.
It's major industry was and is Lead Smelting to which was added that of Uranium Processing following the formation of the Combined Development Agency in 1948. Much of the uranium ore came from Radium Hill which had once again started production around 1947 following a break of 13 years.
Whilst it was 1952 before a fully operational Uranium Treatment Plant was established at Port Pirie, it is understood that some basic processing did in fact start in 1947/48 within the confines of the Lead Smelting plant.

At its peak, Port Pirie was exporting 3000 tonnes of lead per shipment to the UK and US plus an unknown amount of uranium.

'The Combined Development Agency (CDA) was established in 1948 by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom to ensure adequate supplies of uranium for nuclear weapons development programs. In Australia, uranium ore was processed at the Port Pirie Uranium Treatment Complex (PPUTC), which was operated by the South Australian government’s mines department under contract to the CDA.

The PPUTC was situated north of the township of Port Pirie, approximately one kilometre west of the Port Pirie River. The £1.8 million complex commenced operations in August 1955 and closed in February 1962. It processed ore from Radium Hill and Wild Dog Hill (Myponga), 64 kms south of Adelaide.'

Read more about Port Pirie and its nuclear history here..

The significance of this plant within the context of the Somerton Man case relates to a mass spectrometry analysis of hairs taken from the plaster bust of the Somerton Man.

Whilst it appears that more work needs to be done, the tests show significantly elevated levels of lead in the man's hair which point to additional exposure during the last two weeks of his life.

Of possible interest to researchers is the fact that there was a regular sea service between Port Pirie and Port Adelaide operated by the Adelaide Steamship Company during the relevant period.

There is an interesting discussion to be found on this and related topics at Nick Pelling's

You can download a copy of the report here...

For further information and resources, if you Google 'TAMAM SHUD' you will find links to this site from Adelaide University which contains a mass of useful information.

Essential Reading From The World's Leading Authority on the Somerton Man Case..

I highly recommend the book, 'The Unknown Man' by Detective Sergeant Gerry Feltus, retired, South Australian Police. For those who do not know, Gerry Feltus is the World's leading authority on the Somerton Man case. As a Police Officer, Gerry had the files on his desk as a Cold Case and actually interviewed a number of people associated with it including Jestyn. Gerry is the source of much of the information put to use by Professor Abbott of Adelaide University.

More valuable information was contributed and shared with the University on the 'World Search for a Rare Copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam' Facebook page  by a number of dedicated independent researchers who unearthed a wide range of fascinating and important details. Much of the information on this and other blogs has its roots in the work of Gerry Feltus and the Facebook group as well as the work of Professor Abbott and Adelaide University students.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Would having an enlarged spleen have anything to do with the lead contamination or, am I losing the plot? Clive

Gordon332 said...

Hi, I don't profess to be an expert in this subject but from what I read, an enlarged spleen is one of the effects of lead poisoning. It was that that caught my attention with the results of the mass spectrometry test.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so if the lead poisoning had nothing to do with Port Pirie-what else or where else could have seen such an increase in poisoning happened over such a short time? Clive

Gordon332 said...

That is a very good question. Without knowing what the 'normal' or average levels of lead in someone's system was in those days, it's a bit hard to estimate. It could be that he moved from a house where lead levels were comparatively low to a house or hotel where the lead levels in the water pipes etc were significantly higher. Needs more investigation I suspect.

Gordon332 said...

Clive, I think we have a chemist or two who follow the blog. If one or both could add their thoughts here it would be useful. Whilst we don't have any answers as yet, it does seem to be a significant piece of new information and one wonders why it has not apparently been pursued. Then again who knows?