atomic veterans, Australia, British Nuclear Veterans, dangers of radiation, duty of care, elderly veterans, genetic damage radiation, nuclear, nuclear weapons testing, Pacific testing ground, South Pacific, UK, veterans
“The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” Hubert H. Humphrey 
US Atomic Veterans Administration brochure (2012)
Victims of British Nuclear Tests have fought for decades for some recognition of their illnesses, along with some financial compensation. The UK government has now offered money to be shared with all aging veterans. Why do veterans, especially the elderly ones, have to get the run around? The US also viciously gives the run around to elderly atomic veterans who have the wrong type of cancer. Why are they so mean-spirited? Just give the veterans their damn money! They were drafted and/or trying to serve their country. The UK and the US waste tons of money. Stop subsidizing the nuclear and petroleum industries for a start. Only a few days ago the UK proposed lower taxes for petroleum companies in the North Sea.
Some background. Note the date is 1999:
“Mortality and morbidity of members of the British Nuclear Tests Veterans Association and the New Zealand Nuclear Tests Veterans Association and their families
Med Confl Surviv. 1999 Jul-Sep;15 Suppl 1:i-ix, 1-51.
More than 20,000 British servicemen–many of them on their National Service, few of them volunteering for the tests, and most in their early twenties, some still boy soldiers in their teens–were required to ‘participate’ in the United Kingdom nuclear tests in Australia and Christmas Island in the 1950s and 1960s. 528 members of the New Zealand Navy were also present for one series of tests. There was also a Fijian Army contingent, which has been variously numbered between 100 and 500 men. An estimated 16,000 Australian servicemen and civilians were also involved in the tests at Maralinga and other sites. The men performed a wide range of duties, from highly technical preparations for the detonations to catering and clerical jobs. But whatever their role, they were all required to witness the detonations as part of their ‘indoctrination’ for the possibility of nuclear war. Most of them were required to line up on the beach, with their backs to the detonations and their hands over their eyes for the first minute or so. They were then allowed to turn around and look at the awesome sight as the mushroom cloud plumed thousands of feet into the air. Very few wore more than shorts and sandals during their time at the tests; only those who were thought to be at risk from radiation injury were issued with protective clothing and radiation dose badges. The UK government was sure that the troops, most of whom were standing within 20 km of the detonations and some of whom were present for 25 nuclear bomb blasts in as many weeks on Christmas Island, were not irradiated. The Ministry of Defence still routinely issues a document to nuclear veterans who feel that their illnesses were caused by the radiation they encountered when they were young men which states: The background [radiation] dose received by civilians and members of HM Forces serving at or off Christmas Island in the years 1956 to 1964 was only about 35% of that which they would have received on average had they remained, for that period of their lives, in the United Kingdom–that is, some 100 microsieverts per calendar month less at Christmas Island than in the United Kingdom. This sanguine view of the health burden borne by nuclear veterans and their families is not borne out by the data reported in this study of the health outcomes of the 2,500 men (2,200 UK, 238 New Zealand and 62 Fijian) on whom data are available to the present researcher. Thirty per cent of the men in this sample have already died, mostly in their fifties. Two-thirds of them died from cancers that are pensionable in the United States as presumptively radiogenic among nuclear veterans. About one in seven of the men in the sample of 1,014 who responded to the questionnaire circulated in late 1997 did not father any children after they returned from the weapons tests. Among the nearly 5,000 children and grandchildren of this group of more than a thousand veterans, there are 26 cases of spina bifida alone–more than five times the usual rate for live births in the UK. Nearly half the health problems among the offspring of the nuclear weapons tests veterans reported in this study consist of the same dermatological, musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal conditions from which many of the men have also suffered. Among the 2,261 children of 1,041 veterans, more than 200 skeletal abnormalities were reported, including more than 30 cases of short stature and 18 spinal problems, mostly curvature and scoliosis. More than 100 skin conditions were reported, mostly eczema and dermatitis, in many cases described as congenital. Over 50 of the children are already suffering from arthritis and similar conditions, although they are only now entering their thirties. Hip deformities were reported for 19 children and kneecap deformities for 14. More than 100 of the veterans’ children reported reproductive difficulties; 24 women reported problems with their ovaries. This pattern of morbidity was repeated in the grandchildren, thoPMID: 10467894” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10467894
“Blood money: the duty of care to veterans of UK nuclear weapons tests.
Med Confl Surviv. 2002 Jul-Sep;18(3):311-22.
Fifty years after the first UK nuclear weapon test at Monte Bello off the north-west coast of Australia in October 1952, this article documents the deliberate and repeated decisions not to provide adequate radiation protection to most of the 40,000 men who participated in the British programme in the 1950s in Australia and Christmas Island, precisely to avoid future liability claims. The evidence lies in the minutes and memoranda of the scientists, doctors and military leaders overseeing these tests. Archival material in the United Kingdom Public Records Office and the National Archives of Australia is, according to senior barristers, sufficient to sustain an allegation of negligence, even by the standards of 50 years ago, against the government of the day and an allegation of cover-up by the current government, faced with potentially huge compensation bills and pension pay-outs for long-term radiation injury to former servicemen. Recent governments have tried to reassure the veterans with epidemiological studies, which are almost inevitably inconclusive. However, pilot studies have now begun on radiobiological tests that may be able to determine whether a particular individual was irradiated significantly 40 or 50 years ago and whether he has subsequently suffered cancers or other ill health because of this radiation burden. The first results from these studies should be available around the time of the fiftieth anniversary of the first UK test.” PMID: 12201088 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12201088
Excerpt from a 2013 Parliamentary document:
“Regarding the current group of on-going nuclear test veterans war pensions appeals, the Government has said that “We remain keen to work with the tribunal and appellants with a view to ensuring that costs relating to all war pensions appeals are proportionate and kept to a minimum. The hearing is due to commence on 28 January 2013 and is likely to run until mid-February”.28
2 Linking nuclear test radiation exposure to illness
Exposure to ionising radiation is known to increase the risk of most types of cancer, including both leukaemias and solid tumours such as thyroid, lung and bowel cancer. The precise mechanisms by which this occurs are still unclear but the following extract provides a reasonable overview:
The development of cancer is a complex cellular process that occurs in several stages, usually taking many years. Radiation appears to act principally at the initiation stage by causing mutations in the DNA of normal cells in tissues. It is usually considered that damage is caused by double-strand breaks (DSBs) in DNA, which are not readily repaired. The production of DSBs can result in a cell entering a pathway of abnormal growth that can sometimes lead to development of a malignancy. In recent years, much has been learned about the processes by which radiation exposure leads to DNA damage, and also about the cellular systems that act to repair, or misrepair, such damage and the way mutations can arise. This information provides supporting evidence for the long-standing belief that, although the risk of cancer after low doses of radiation may be very small, there is no dose, no matter how low, at which we can completely discount the risk.29
Regarding the time course of development of radiation-induced cancers:
When cancer is induced by short but intensive exposure to ionizing radiation, as following the explosions of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki or in patients treated by radiotherapy, the excess incidence of solid tumours rises for 15 to 20 years and then may continue to rise, level off, or decline. In the case of acute leukaemia, however, a peak incidence occurs much earlier (about 5 years after irradiation) and relatively few cases appear after more than 30 years.30
There is also some evidence that exposure to radiation may increase the risk of non-cancer illnesses such as heart disease but this remains controversial.
Estimation of the dose of radiation received by the veterans is difficult: personal radiation exposure monitoring (such as wearable indicators as used by at-risk workers today) was not in use at the time and surrounding levels of radiation are difficult to calculate retrospectively. Attempts have been made to assess retrospectively levels of recent exposure to ionising radiation by analysis of chromosome damage but extension of this technique to exposure over 40 years previously is not proven.” Footnotes: “29 Colin Blakemore and Sheila Jennett (Eds), The Oxford Companion to the Body, Oxford University Press, 2001 [at 11 August 2009], 30 Epidemiology of Cancer, Oxford Textbook of Medicine, Oxford University Press, Fourth Edition, 2004 ” (“Nuclear test veterans – compensation“, Standard Note: SNSC-05145 Last updated: 31 January 2013 Author: Patsy Richards Section Science and Environment) © Parliamentary Copyright, OPL http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/SN05145/nuclear-test-veterans-compensation http://www.parliament.uk/Templates/BriefingPapers/Pages/BPPdfDownload.aspx?bp-id=SN05145
Test badges existed at the time. Why weren’t they in use? They used the military as guinea pigs, but apparently not for long-term studies (or the documents are hidden). Looking at US documents the concern seems to have been if military would survive during nuclear war. What happened to them after military service and/or nuclear war, they didn’t care, as has been made abundantly clear by now.
“£25m to support army veterans, including nuclear test veterans” http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-31928641, 18 March 2015 Key points of Budget 2015: At-a-glance”
Concerns have been expressed because the above announcement seems to give no special attention to the nuclear veterans and nothing at all for their genetically damaged children. See: British Nuclear Test Veterans Association: https://bntva.com/?p=1541
“Nobody Told Us Anything” trailer: http://youtu.be/mebkaTyVoAg
The US has apparently done better, but still cruelly gives the run around to atomic veterans with cancers which do not appear on their list, but are known to be radiation induced, such as skin and circulatory system disease. That ionizing radiation causes skin cancer has long been well-known. Its impact on the circulatory system is documented in ICRP 118 (ca 2012). X-ray mutations in fruit flies was first documented in the 1920s. The impact of ionizing radiation on human offspring has been known for decades. It has been well-documented by US government researchers, and in at least one UK study. True or false, the research suggested that genetic damage to offspring is even more a problem for exposed men than for women. It’s not as strange as it appears on the surface. Cells which divide more frequently are more at risk.
About the US situation: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/us-22-3-billion-for-foreign-aid-1-9-billion-to-dump-foreign-nuclear-waste-on-america-paltry-80-million-for-atomic-veterans-and-other-victims-of-nuclear-weapons-testing-uranium-mining/
 “Remarks at the dedication of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, November 1, 1977, Congressional Record, November 4, 1977, vol 123, p. 37287“. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Hubert_Humphrey
EMPHASIS ADDED THROUGHOUT THIS POST.