torika bolatagici

Defence chiefs admit radiation risks

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2008 at 8:36 am

August 04, 2008

BRITISH defence chiefs have admitted servicemen were exposed to dangerous radiation levels during nuclear tests in Australia and the South Pacific in the 1950s.

The admission, made after years of denials, features in papers filed with the High Court in London by Ministry of Defence lawyers.

The Sunday Mirror newspaper said the court papers revealed that the ministry now believed that nuclear tests were responsible for the deaths of some British servicemen.

However, the ministry insisted that only 159 men were affected out of the 20,000 who were present.

About 800 former servicemen from Britain, New Zealand and Fiji earlier this year launched a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the ministry, claiming they had been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation during tests at sites including Maralinga in South Australia and Christmas Island.

While the case is not due to start until January, court documents seen by the newspaper show that two Royal Air Force servicemen, Eric Denson and John Brothers, were irradiated after being ordered to fly through mushroom clouds of nuclear bombs to collect samples.

Film badges worn by the men recorded the amount of radiation they were exposed to. “Eric had a dose equivalent to 190 years of background radiation,” the newspaper said. “John’s was 107. The (ministry’s) maximum safe dose was just 30.”

Mr Denson’s widow, Shirley Denson, who is part of the group suing the ministry, said she hoped the truth about the tests would finally be revealed.

“Hopefully this will mean they have to admit everything else,” she told the newspaper.

“There were 20,000 others there. They and their families suffered just as badly.

“In reality, they have no idea who had how much dose. Eric and John had records taken but most had none.”


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