Fw: Nuclear Veteran Given Peacemaker of the Year Award
Friday, 24 September, 2010 1:22 AM
Dear all ,
Governments in Australia , NZ and UK are all ignoring the Rowland Study and trying to undermine it .
The reason they are all singing from the same devil’s hymnsheet of denial is clear . The Rowland Study has been accepted as ” crucial and pivotal” science – based evidence of fallout damage in the High Court in London ( June 2009 ) .
The Rowland Study is the only study ever carried out examining the blood of nuclear veterans .It is not a statistical exercise examining death certificates easily open to bias , it is hard evidence . The type we veterans love and the type that gives the politicians sleepless nights ! No wonder officials and their supportive politicians are running scared .
Please don’t let the officials and politicians forget they have been overtaken by an understanding of the science of radiation damage to health from ingested fall out and advanced genetic testing has shown the mark of the bomb is in our DNA .
Nuclear veterans underpin the whole question of radaition risk and damage to health this is why the Governemnts are so desperately attempting to defend the indefensible . We in the UK hope your class action for compensation is progressing well .
Roy’s award is well deserved we all take our hats off to him and the NZNTVA . The award also comes at the the right time ..
Regards to all from the UK ,
for the CVFI
A Press Release by The Combined Veterans’ Forum International
23rd September 2010 .
NUCLEAR TEST VETERAN RECEIVES PEACEMAKER OF THE YEAR AWARD
The award , in New Zealand , of Peacemaker of the Year, by the New Zealand Peace Foundation to Roy Sefton QSM , nuclear veteran , Chairman of the New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans Association ( NZNTVA ) and Member of the Action Executive of the Combined Veterans’ Forum International is a source of huge pride for all servicemen who attended British nuclear test locations from 1952 to 1967 .
The award is in recognition of Roy Sefton’s and the NZNTVA’s ” outstanding efforts to sustain peace , support those affected by nuclear tests , and achieve a nuclear free world .”
It is by the sacrifice of Roy Sefton and all those who participated in the nuclear test experiments and who subsequently suffered radiation induced genetic damage to their health that the UK Government ” recognises and is grateful to all Service personnel who participated in the nuclear testing programme and their contribution will never be forgotten .” ( Taken from standard literature circulated by the UK Ministry of Defence on the subject of their neglect of genetic damage to nuclear test veterans .)
Despite the veterans sacrifice by ill health , disability and premature deaths , from exposure to fall out , the Government of the United Kingdom has deliberately failed to act upon its professed “recognition and gratitude” to the nuclear test veterans .
The award is fully justified because Roy Sefton , as Chairman of the NZNTVA , had the courage , the foresight and the persistence to take control of the science of radiation damage to health . His initiative , with Professor Al Rowland of Massey University , New Zealand , to study the genetic damage of surviving nuclear veterans , by blood analysis ,. has been judicially recognised in the High Court , London ( on the 5th of June 2009 ) as ” crucial and pivotal ” science – based evidence showing genetic damage .The study has been prestigiously peer reviewed and is recognised world – wide as cutting edge , ground breaking science . Currently , the UK Ministry of Defence is desperately attempting to undermine the study . The study showed elevated and significant genetic damage occured to the crew of two New Zealand Navy Frigates taking part in nuclear test experiments in the Pacific off Christmas Islands and is causally linked to fall out radiation.
Following world – wide alarm at the nuclear test experiments , when signing the Test Ban Treaty in 1963 , President Kennedy , like the UK Government , was well aware of the genetic damage of fall out on the men and on their future children . When persuading the US Senate to ratify the Treaty President Kennedy said :
” The number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones , with leukemia in their blood or with poison in their lungs might seem statistically small to some in comparison to natural hazards , but this is not a natural health hazard and is not a statistical issue . The loss of even one human life , or malformation of one baby , who may be born after we are gone , should be a concern to us all . Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics toward which we can be indifferent .”
Thousands of servicemen , including conscripts , were exposed to ionised fall out at the British nuclear test experiments which condemned them and their subsequent children to the serious risk of fatal long-term radiation illnesses .
Successive UK Governments have since deliberately failed to provide the veterans and their children with proper medical monitoring for the timely detection and treatment of delayed , long – term radiation induced illnesses .
It is clear from de-classified archive files that the UK Ministry of Defence wanted to ascertain the effects of radiation on servicemen deployed to nuclear test locations to determine the fighting ability of the troops not immediately killed in a potential cold war nuclear conflict . As part of the so- called ” indoctrination” process , archive Defence Staff statements reveal the need to test equipment and men by exposure to ionising radiation .
In the light of today’s ever increasing knowledge of the events half a century ago and the knowledge held by the Government at the time many surviving nuclear veterans and their widows are beginning to view the activites of the UK Ministry of Defence as one of deliberate cover – up .
Prior to Roy Sefton’s initiative to take control of the science the UK Government had relied upon , and still refers to , statistical studies , without any physical examination of any veteran , to enable them to deny and to bury the truth of genetic damage to health .
The New Zealand Peace Foundation’s , Peacemaker of the Year Award to Roy Sefton ( Queens Service Medal ) , of Palmerston North , New Zealand and to the NZNTVA is a boost to the morale of all who participated in the British nuclear weapons test experiments .
The soldiers who were ordered to crawl through radioactive dust , the sailors who sailed beneath the fall out , the aircrew who flew sampling missions into the atomic mushroom clouds together with the land – based support staff who lived under , worked , ingested and inhaled the radioactive fall out at test locations of the Pacific and Australia all take heart in the award’s recognition of their selfless endeavour in a hazard deliberately and callously denied by Government .
Issued by the Action Executive ( UK )
The Combined Veterans’ Forum International
Shirley Denson – Dennis Hayden – Ken McGinley
Tel ; 0208 6464098 01594 845118 01505 345612
MURRAY WILSON/Manawatu Standard
STILL WAITING: New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association chairman Roy Sefton is still fighting for government recognition and compensation for the 550 veterans used as guinea pigs in British nuclear testing near Christmas Island in 1957 and 1958.
Palmerston North nuclear test veteran Roy Sefton is proud to have received this year’s New Zealand Peace Foundation peacemaker of the year award. But there’s an irony to it, as he tells LEE MATTHEWS.
Palmerston North nuclear test veteran Roy Sefton sometimes wonders if the British and New Zealand governments are just waiting for him to die.
It would stop him asking awkward questions, and halt his fight on behalf of the New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association to get compensation for sailors and soldiers affected by Operation Grapple, British nuclear testing at Christmas Island in 1957 and 1958.
He’s just been awarded the Peace Foundation’s peacemaker of the year award for 2010, on behalf of the association. It recognises his and the association’s “outstanding efforts to sustain peace, support those affected by nuclear tests, and achieve a nuclear-free world”.
Mr Sefton is pleased that the association has been recognised, and hopes it will aid the compensation fight. He’s not holding his breath, though. It took until 1997 for the Operation Grapple veterans to be awarded full war pensions by the New Zealand government. Mr Sefton was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal, in 1998, to recognise his work getting these pensions.
Now, he’s waiting to hear the results of a legal appeal taken last year to the British government to get compensation for the surviving Kiwi veterans and for British and Fijian veterans of the same tests.
Only about 140-150 of the 550 veterans are left. Many died young – their average life span was 52.4 years. Many of those left suffer from an increased incidence of cancers, skin and muscle problems, and vision problems. Some of their children and grandchildren suffered birth defects attributable to radiation.
“Sometimes I think the governments are waiting for us to die [before they make the decisions],” Mr Sefton says.
Mr Sefton’s story is known to many. He was a young sailor on the frigate Pukaki when the British were developing and testing hydrogen bombs. He and about 550 others, including sailors on Pukaki’s sister ship, Rotoiti, attended nine nuclear tests, some at ground zero.
Mr Sefton can remember being warned to cover his closed eyes with his hands as the bombs detonated. During the flashes from the explosions, he saw the bones in his hands, as clearly as on X-ray film, through his eyelids. But officials insisted the tests wouldn’t hurt anyone – even though for some tests, protective clothing was stripped back to just shorts and sandals.
For one test, they were under the fallout umbrella at ground zero for 22 hours. “To save the fresh water supplies, we chased rain clouds and showered in the falling rain. We cleaned our teeth with that water. We were ingesting radioactive water.”
In his 30s, Mr Sefton started suffering aches and pains and muscle and bone problems, bad enough to make him leave the navy. It wasn’t a medical discharge; he just didn’t feel well enough to continue working as a sailor.
He became an artist and art teacher, well known for his landscapes and seascapes. He also continued with music, drumming in rock band, Track 5, and performing many Manawatu gigs.
Ill health has dogged him. At one stage, he was sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Rotorua because he was thought to have ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis.
“They didn’t find one single scrap of arthritis.
“What the specialists there told me was that I showed symptoms of somebody poisoned by toxins or radiation.”
In 2007, the results of a four-year research programme, headed by Massey University’s Dr Al Rowlands, showed sailors who participated in Operation Grapple had significant chromosome damage, most probably caused by radiation.
Since then, the government and Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand have not accepted those results. The study wasn’t government funded and did not conclusively prove the disabilities were caused by the nuclear exposure.
Last year, a spokesman for Veterans’ Affairs said the surviving Grapple veterans had lifetime tax-free pensions from the government and all their medical care was fully funded.
The spokesman also said an expert panel was being set up to look into matters.
Mr Sefton says the expert panel hasn’t come up with anything to further help the association’s members.
Operation Grapple isn’t his only concern, however. Mr Sefton says the government will in future face the issue of servicemen and women who have been affected by depleted uranium in theatres of war such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It’s there, it’s not being disposed of properly, and our service people are in that environment. It’s going to cause problems.”
A smack in the eyes for Bobby Scott at Los Alamos and the researchers DOE funds to attempt to show the opposite. In my opinion. Such paid hacks should be ashamed of themselves. Internal contamination injures and kills.
The Rowland Study:
New Zealand Nuclear Veterans
11:34 mins – Windows media – Real Player
NZ nukesBetween 1957 and 1959, nine hydrogen bombs were detonated in the Pacific. Two New Zealand navy frigates were there observing and on board, with backs to the blast, were more than 500 kiwi sailors. Some of them were just 20 nautical miles from Ground Zero.
When you realise just how close some of these young men came to clouds of ionising radiation, it’s hard not to imagine some of them had their health affected. Yet to date, the science has been inconclusive, even dismissive.
But a recent study has given these sailors some hope.
Catalyst travels to New Zealand to look into the science behind the study and ponders whether the waves created by this new data will reach the other side of the Tasman, where some 16,000 Australians were also exposed to British nuclear tests.
Have New Zealand scientists finally found the mark of the bomb?
Narration In the late 1950’s, in the deepening chill of the cold war, the British were looking for places to test their powerful new nuclear weapons.
They chose Australia.
Old Cinesound Voiceover Conditions are just right so the Valiant heads for the target. Cameras roll, backs are turned to the blast, 5,4,3,2,1, 0 BLAST ……… The mighty power of the atom is released.
Dr Jonica Newby When you see just how close our young men came to clouds of ionising radiation, it’s hard not to imagine some of them had their health affected. Yet to date, the science has been inconclusive, even dismissive. That’s why the hopes of Australia’s nuclear veterans are turning here across the Tasman. Have New Zealand scientists finally found the mark of the bomb.
Narration Like the Australians, the New Zealand veterans were witness to British nuclear tests. But theirs were all at sea – in the Pacific. It was known as Operation Grapple.
In 1957, Roy Sefton was just 17 when he was assigned to the HMNZS Pukaki. He saw the first ever test of Britain’s H bomb.
Roy Sefton They told us to sit down, backs to the blast, cover your eyes.
And all of a sudden there’s just this massive flash. I had my eyes closed and goggles, dark goggles, hands over them, and there before me lay the skeleton or, or the bones of my hands. And lots of guys obviously saw that because I heard all sorts of naval language being quoted around me.
Narration As the series of 9 tests progressed, the sailors remained for months in the area, enjoying the local seafood, bathing in tropical rains.
A few years later, Roy started to get develop strange aches and pains.
Roy Sefton By the time I was thirty, it was difficult, getting difficult to walk any distance. Everything I touched was sore, everything I did created pain. So that was my life, I mean…
Dr Jonica Newby Did you get a diagnosis in the end?
Roy Sefton No.
Narration Roy wasn’t the only one. I’m on my way now to visit a woman whose husband, was the Padre on Roy’s sister ship, the Rotoiti.
After his death 25 years ago of a rare blood condition, Ruth, a former nurse started tracking the fate of other nuclear veterans.
Ruth McKenzie So 6 of the fellows died in their twenties. Most of them cancers.
Dr Jonica Newby Oh.
Narration The British denied any possibility of a link with the tests. Declassification of top secret documents, however, has revealed a stark history of coverups going back to the 1950’s.
Ruth McKenzie And we have here a, a paper saying, the Prime Minister saw the report of the committee considering genetic affects of nuclear radiation. His comment was, “A pity but we can’t help it”.
Dr Jonica Newby I must say Ruth I find this the most staggering – this is a document from 1955 and it says “we do not want you to release any statement on genetic effects or on radiation. So they were doctoring the reports?
Ruth McKenzie They did, they doctored the reports.
Narration As the extent of misinformation became gradually apparent, the veterans came together in frustration and anger.
In 1996, they formed the New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans Association. They blamed their collective illnesses on the effects of radiation.
But were they right?
Massey University in Wellington is home to leading epidemiologist, Professor Neil Pearce.
In 1990, he analysed the health records of New Zealand veterans – and found an increase in the overall risk of death – a slight one.
Professor Neil Pearce So they’re not huge numbers, its’ not like everyone was dying, but there was an increased risk of death and it was from the types of cancer that you would expect to find elevated from a population that was exposed to radiation.
It all depends on the dose, you know at Hiroshima or Nagasaki, clearly if you were very close to the explosion you got a very high radiation exposure and you had a very high risk of death. If you were ten kilometres or so away then, then your risk was, was very small.
Narration The New Zealanders were at least 40 kilometres from the tests.
But the Australians were much closer.
Ric Johnstone was one of the hundreds of men who went right into ground zero in the hours and days after the blast – part of the cleanup crews who retrieved and decontaminated test vehicles and equipment.
Ric Johstone I spent hours in ground zero, checking vehicles, recovering vehicles, I got sick toward the end of it, while I was doing it, I started to vomit and get diarrhoea. And when I reported up sick, his explanation was it was the bad food.
Dr Jonica Newby So no one acknowledged at the time it was possible radiation sickness.
Ric Johstone No, And the doctor that checked out my blood tests wrote on a medical document that I was being treated for radiation sickness. And I’ve still got that document and it was that document that displeased the government very much because after many years of struggling we went to court and I won.
Narration Ric won compensation – but he’s the only Australian nuclear veteran to do so.
Unlike the New Zealand study, an Australian study completed as recently as 2006 concluded that while veterans did have significantly more cancers, this was not due to radiation.
The reality is, while radiation is known to raise the risk of death, it can be hard to show a small effect against the background noise of illness in the community anyway.
And that lack of a conclusive link has long confounded nuclear veterans calls for pensions or compensation.
Back across the Tasman, it was against this context of scientific ambiguity that veterans decided to do something extraordinary.
Dr Jonica Newby In 2000, the New Zealand veterans decided to take control of the science. They decided to commission their own research.
Roy Sefton That is the most frightening decision that I’ve ever made in my life. If this research shows nothing, not only us but nuclear veterans internationally are going to be ridiculed and this research will be used against us.
Narration Weighed down with responsibility, and a quarter of a million dollars raised from the government and veterans themselves, Roy Sefton came here to Massey University – to meet top cytogeneticist, Al Rowland.
Dr Al Rowland For something that occurred fifty years ago, I did have my doubts. But the alternative was to do nothing, and I felt if we live in a responsible society we owe it to people to at least look.
Narration And they had access to a brand new technique – one that could assess DNA damage directly.
It had been used on Chernobyl victims and nuclear workers, but never before on nuclear test veterans.
In 2002, the scientists began selecting 50 veterans, and 50 controls – matched perfectly for age, lifestyle, even smoking and drinking habits – a painstaking task that took years.
Roy Sefton Yep, it was a pretty nervous time I’ve got to tell you.
Narration Last year, the scientists were finally ready to look – and this is what they saw.
These are chromosomes – the structures that contain our DNA.
Dr Al Rowland So this is a normal lining up of the chromosomal pairs. And we see this is normal, each chromosome pair has their own colour and there’s not been a switch of colour from one chromosome to another.
Narration A colour switch would be a sign of genetic damage – known as a chromosomal translocation.
Dr Al Rowland This is a nuclear test veteran.
Dr Jonica Newby Wow.
Dr Al Rowlands If you look you can see there are translocations all over the place.
Dr Jonica Newby Absolutely.
Dr Al Rowland There’s red and yellow and blue.
Dr Jonica Newby That’s really striking.
Dr Al Rowland There are thousands of genes in each chromosome and they have to have their own position. If they move to another location that’s when things can go wrong. The more translocations you have, the greater the risk of cancer developing.
Narration Overall, the nuclear veterans had 3 times the number of translocations you’d expect – that’s higher than the Chernobyl victims, higher than Al Rowland had ever seen.
Dr Al Rowlands Our view is that this is caused by radiation. Because the frequency is so high and we have taken into account every other possible confounding factor and we’re left with only one thing – this group took part in Operation Grapple and the control group didn’t.
Narration The results were delivered to a nervously waiting Roy Sefton in May 2007.
Roy Sefton Oddly it wasn’t great elation at all because I, I did feel happy that at last we had something we could pin our problems on. You know there was all, always that. But then you had the realisation, as I do and I’ve had a look at one or two of my samples and they’re not very good.
Narration While the finding is only just permeating the scientific community – already veterans groups worldwide are responding.
Ric Johstone We would like to do the same study here but also go a little more intensive and study our offspring and grandchildren.
Narration The nuclear veterans are old and dwindling in number. The arguments surrounding their claims for compensation are clearly not just scientific.
But whatever happens from here, this new study has given them something profound. It’s the validation they’ve so long been seeking. It seems the bomb left its mark in their DNA.
Topics: Archaeology & History, Environment
* Reporter: Dr Jonica Newby
* Producer: Anja Taylor
* Researcher: Anja Taylor
* Camera: Kevin May, Peter Sinclair
* Sound: Guenter Ericoli, Lauren Howard
* Editor: Chris Spurr
Dr Al Rowland
Cytogeneticist, Massey University
Professor Neil Pearce
Epidemiologist, Massey University
The Rowland Study Paper: