Archive for September, 2010

British Legion Helps Fund British Nuclear Veterans Legal Case

September 27, 2010

Monday, 27 September, 2010 11:13 PM

“Dennis Hayden”


Dear all ,

This is good news and could not have come at a more positive time for the on-going Class Action of over 1000 veterans and widows . The £25,000 funding by the Royal British Legion for the Tribunal is significant it will help fund the expert scientific witness and barrister etc needed but , more importantly , it sends a strong message to the MoD of the widening support for nuclear veterans and widows .

The Tribunal Appeal case for 17 nuclear veterans and widows is due to be heard in November .

Best regards ,


for the CVFI

Legion to fund nuclear veterans Tribunal test case

24 September 2010

The Royal British Legion is to provide £25,000 funding to support a grouped Tribunal appeal case involving 17 veterans who are seeking compensation over their exposure to radiation under Britain’s nuclear testing programme.

The Legion is providing funding for the Tribunal appeal into the health effects of ionising radiation in an attempt to bring consistency to government rulings on compensation for ill health under the War Pension Scheme.

The funding will allow for the preparation of expert evidence for the War Pension & Armed Forces Compensation Tribunal, and for a barrister to represent the veterans in the appeal. Rosenblatt Solicitors, who are acting on behalf of some of the veterans involved, will be instructing counsel and have been working on the preparation of evidence.

There have been numerous claims by veterans under the War Pension Scheme for compensation for ill health caused by exposure to ionising radiation during the nuclear testing programme over many years. These are routinely rejected by the Service Personnel & Veterans Agency (SPVA) due to conflicting medical opinion on the health effects of radiation.

There has been limited success on appeals on SPVA decisions at Tribunals, and there has been no consistency in decisions by the Tribunal Service for appellants; this grouped appeal is attempting to form a view that can then be applied to all veterans and widows with similar claims.

Chris Simpkins, Director General of The Royal British Legion, said: “We believe that if the appeal is successful there are significant numbers of veterans and widows who will benefit from positive decisions on applications to the War Pension Scheme. This is why we are providing funding for the appeal.

“Most of the veterans and widows involved in this appeal are now very elderly. We welcome this action and hope that it will provide a speedy resolution to this long-standing issue. Evidence on the effects of ionising radiation has built significantly over recent years, and we are hopeful of a positive outcome for all those concerned.”

Notes for Editors:
A separate class action in the civil courts is being taken by over 1,000 veterans and their families. That action is separate from this Tribunal appeal.

For further information please contact:
Susan Cottam, Public Relations Officer, The Royal British Legion
E: T: +44(0)20 3207 2477 M: 07775 017 889

end quote

I’m wondering which “experts” will line up against the veterans.
I a couple of suspects, plus the infamous ones who have sprung their coils.

Government attempts to diminish Rowland Study

September 25, 2010

(Paul’s note: I am not related to Anne Langley as included in the following email exchange.)

Saturday, 25 September, 2010 3:59 PM
“Dennis Hayden”
Add sender to Contacts
“Des Skinner” , “Colin Duncan” , “NICK SIMONS” , “PAUL LANGLEY” , “Nic Maclellan” , “Roy Sefton” , “ANNA SMITH” ,… more

Dear all ,

It goes without saying the UK MoD are doing their best to ignore, undermine and devalue the Rowland Study as are the quisling politicians and so – called expert panel in NZ and elsewhere . The single paragraph in Robathan’s letter( UK Minister for Veterans ) clearly shows this . This is why we have to counter this propaganda by explaining to Members of Parliament , internationally, the significance of Rowland .

Regards ,

—– Original Message —–
From: Dennis Hayden
Sent: Friday, September 24, 2010 10:59 AM
Subject: Fw: Nuclear Veteran Given Peacemaker of the Year Award

Passed for information from the Combined Veterans’ Forum International .

We draw particular emphasis and attention on the dissembled remarks by Andrew Robathan MP , Minister for Veterans , in his letter Edward Vaizey MP which referred to the Professor Rowland Study in just one paragraph as follows :

” We are aware of Professor Rowland’s study of Royal New Zealand Navy veterans and are following it and other cytogenetic studies closely , but ionising radiation is only one of many causes to stable chromosomal translocations and clinical significance or predictive value of cytogenetic change is unknown . Established clinical illness is , of course , the basis of all personal injury claims .”

Our comments on the above follow in an email to to Anne Langley p/a for the attention of Edward Vaizey MP .

More will follow on this subject . Roy Sefton and the NZNTVA took control of the understanding of the science of genetic damage in nuclear veterans . The politicians and officials are doing their best to gain control back . We cannot allow this to happen here in the UK in NZ or elsewhere .

With kind regards ,

The Action Executive
the CVFI

—– Original Message —–
From: Dennis Hayden
Sent: Friday, September 24, 2010 8:29 AM
Subject: Re: Nuclear Veteran Given Peacemaker of the Year Award

Dear Anne ,

For attention of Edward Vaizey MP, who is free to use any of the following comment .

re The Late Barry Smith ( Nuclear Veteran )

CVFI comments on the latest letter from Andrew Robathan MP , Minister for Veterans , ref D/Min (DPWV) /AR MC03765/2010 dated 15th September .

It is clear the Minister’s letter is worded from briefings by officials within the MoD to continue to defend the now untenable cold war policy of exclusion enforced to deny nuclear veterans and their widows a duty of care under the military covenant .

Nuclear veterans and the widows who served at British nuclear test fall out locations in the Pacific ( as with Tania Smith’s father Barry Smith ) and in Australia between 1952 and 1967 note the following from the Minister’s letter :

The Rowland Study .

The Minister’s remarks regarding the study by Professor Rowland , Massey University , New Zealand on the genetic damage sustained by the 551 crew of two New Zealand Navy Frigates who sailed through the fall out of nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific grossly ( and deliberately ) under estimates the significance of this study .

The Rowland study was meticulous in its methodology . Extreme care was made to eliminate any bias or confounding causal links to ill health . The study has been peer reviewed by a prestigious scientific journal . It has been hailed world-wide as ground breaking science . It is the first study ever to examine the blood of nuclear veterans .

The results were achieved by careful selection of the control group of ex-servicemen used to compare with the 49 navy crew tested . The controls were all former servicemen of similar age , smoking ,drinking habits and background etc to eliminate any confounding factors or bias . (This has been also confirmed by cytogeneticist Professor Rhona Anderson of Brunel University , London ) .The only difference being the 49 veterans in the study had attended a nuclear test location during their service , the controls had not .

Blood tests revealed , by cytogenetic analysis , the 49 surviving nuclear veterans/ New Zealand Navy Crew who were examined had THREE times the number of chromosomal translocations ( genetic damage ) in their DNA than the controls .

This elevated rate of translocations is highly significant and on a par with the translocations found in the so – called Russian ” liquidators” ( those men ordered to cap the damaged nuclear reactor at Chernobyl in 1986 – 162 of whom died within 10 years of the nuclear accident with an average age of 46.2 yrs – Professor A.V . Yablokov ) . This gives an accurate assessment of the significant genetic damage sustained by the nuclear veterans at nuclear test locations.

Those nuclear veterans who from the NZ Frigates so far have died at an average age of 52.4 yrs . Those who died in their 30’s and 40’s probably had even more translocations than the 49 survivors who were blood tested in the Rowland Study .

The Minister states ” the clinical significance or predictive value of cytogenetic change is unknown ” . This is pure and utter weasel – worded dissembling . The degree of translocations can , in fact , indicate the level of radiation dose ingested into the body . These are facts known and used by the Russian authorites to test their nuclear power workers . What the Minister is trying to imply in his briefing by MoD officials is that significantly elevated chromosomal translocations is not genetic damage . This is nonsense .

A report in The Times of 12th June, by Deborah Haynes , Defence Editor – ” Yes , Minister ” style has to end , say Tory MP’s .- Adam Holloway and Bernard Jenkin MP’s included the following : ” the Ministry of Defence is failing to give Ministers a full picture in briefings …there is no doubt the Defence Select Comittee has been consistently dissembled to ….it is clear the relationship between the MoD and the rest of Whitehall is dysfunctional .. ” .

The Minister for Veterans who had an illustrious career in the Special Air Service has the sympathy of veterans since becoming a Minister at the MoD his former proud service regiment motto ” who dares wins ” has been sadly replaced by the MoD’s disingenuous mantra ” who dissembles spins .” He has adopted a poisoned chalice .

The Minister’s reference ” Established clinical illness is , of course , the basis of all personal injury litigation ” is complete evasion because ‘established clinical illness ‘ does not allow the inclusion or consideration of radiation induced genetic damage which causes ill ness from immune system damage , chronic disabilites , psychological illness , premature ageing of the heart , cancer , sterility , stillbirths , genetic damge passed to children etc etc .

It is entirely due to the MoD’s policy of deliberately blocking war pension appeals by nuclear veterans and widows , by denying advances in the understanding of the clinical effects of damage to health from ionised radiation , in order to avoid accountability and responsibility , to protect nuclear industry ,allow the use of depleted uranium weapons etc etc that has led to ‘established clinical illness ‘ being unable to admit to radiation induced illnesses .

The Rowland Study is being ignored by the MoD because it has been noted as ” crucial and pivotal ” evidence – based science by the successful Limitation Trial verdict of June 2009 and links to the other trial verdict that the ” prime causal link to ill health in nuclear veterans is from fall out radiation .” A recognition of the truth of the science which is an anathema to the MoD a department that allows no recognition of the truth in order to continue an agenda of denial supported by hapless Ministers of misinformation . .

With kind regards ,

Yours sincerely

Dennis Hayden
for the CVFI
Action Executive .

Copy to : Tania Smith daughter of Barry Smith

From: Dennis Hayden []
Sent: 23 September 2010 14:09
Subject: Re: Nuclear Veteran Given Peacemaker of the Year Award

Yes , Anne I will forward the points soon . In the meantime , this is to say the points will focus on the inaccuracy of the Minister’s reference to the Rowland Study . The nonsense of his remarks that the War Pensions Scheme with regard to nuclear veterans is ‘generously framed’ ( the WPS cannot even be easily accessed and 90% have to go to appeal ! ) . There are many other disingenuous and misleading remarks in the Minister’s response . These points will follow in more detail for first thing am tomorrow . I hope this will be soon enough .

With thanks for your help ,


for the CVFI

—– Original Message —–

From: LANGLEY, Anne

To: ‘Dennis Hayden’

Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2010 1:13 PM

Subject: RE: Nuclear Veteran Given Peacemaker of the Year Award

Can you send me an email if you would like specific points taken up in response to the ministerial reply?

Nuclear Veteran Given Peacemaker of the Year Award

September 23, 2010

Fw: Nuclear Veteran Given Peacemaker of the Year Award
Friday, 24 September, 2010 1:22 AM
“Dennis Hayden”

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 .


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.
Relevant offers

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.
Ad Feedback

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.”

end quote.

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

Story Contacts

Dr Al Rowland
Cytogeneticist, Massey University

Professor Neil Pearce
Epidemiologist, Massey University

Ric Johstone

Roy Sefton

Ruth McKenzie

The Rowland Study Paper:

Click to access nzvetsrept.pdf

Radium data and OH&S in Australian Army Instrument Fitter Workshops

September 23, 2010

An assessment of the knowledge available which would enable the Australian Army to ensure safety by the implementation of training and Occupational Health and Safety regimes for working with Radium reveals an extensive history of relevant publications.
It appears that over 50 years of accumulated knowledge has been ignored In regard to the work practices and lack of dosimetry records for Instrument Fitters engaged in removing radium paint from military instruments in RAEME workshops in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s.

My own publications relating to nuclear warfare touch upon the subject as follows:

Medicine and the Bomb:
Deceptions from Trinity to Maralinga

Volume 1
The Predictive Use of Pre War Medical Research by Nuclear Weapons Authorities

3. Medicine and the Bomb – Introducing the Pre-existing Knowledge into the Bomb Program
In 1939 the announcement of the discovery of nuclear fission from Germany caused alarm, particularly among scientists who had been forced to flee the Nazi regime. Leo Szilard was one such scientist resident in the United States at that time. Together with Eugene Wigner and Edward Teller, he discussed the matter with Albert Einstein, who agreed to write a letter to President Roosevelt. [1]
In his letter dated 2 August 1939 to Roosevelt, Einstein described in common language the awesome capabilities of atomic weapons. Einstein wrote: “It may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future…. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory….” [2]
Einstein warns of the atomic bomb’s great physical destructiveness. He warns it is so destructive that the area of devastation would exceed the size of even a large target such as a port. He warns that the fission process would create “radium like” substances.
In 1925 radium had been identified as the radioactive substance responsible for the illnesses suffered by the largely female work force of radium “dial painters”. These workers, employed to paint luminous dials on the faces of clocks, watches and instruments, had been found to be vulnerable to horrific disease, mainly of the jaw bone. [3]
Press reports covered the suffering of the dial painters as they fought for compensation through the law courts. Many suffered horrific deaths. The decline in their health and appearance being reported in the newspapers from one court appearance to the next. The awareness of the dangers of radioactive radium once inside one’s body was widespread in US culture of the period. [4]
“The New York Times” of 7 March 1938 reported that as a result of the introduction of laws governing the occupational use of radium in New York State, no new radium related compensation claims had been lodged in that state since 1934. [5]
The Manhattan Project referenced civil medical texts describing the radium dial painter illnesses in the process of producing the atomic bomb. The “Manhattan District History, Book 1, General, Volume 7, Medical Program”, Appendix B, References, US National Archives, lists as item number 1 the text “Protection of Radium Dial Workers and Radiologists From injury by Radium”, by Robley D. Evans, as published in The Journal of Ind. Hygiene and Toxicology, Sept. 1943 Volume 25, No. 7, p 253.
A weapon too powerful to be confined to a specific target and which also generated harmful, “radium like”, substances over a large area. Einstein sought to communicate these characteristics of the possible bomb to President Roosevelt.
In response to the information contained in Einstein’s letter, President Roosevelt commissioned the formation of the “Advisory Committee on Uranium” on 12 October 1939. [6]
……. The Health program of the Metallurgical Division of the Manhattan Engineer District did have a safety and protective function. It also had a radiological effects prediction role in relation to the atomic bomb via Scope 4.
The Health Division had access to medical information regarding the effects ofionizing radiation dating at least from the 1925 Radium Dial Painters disaster.It employed persons who had conducted relevant research under Lawrence.The Lawrence “Rad Lab” prior to 1942 included the Crocker RadiationLaboratory and from 1942, Donner Laboratory. [15]
Dr Stone had previously conducted medical treatment of patients usingneutron ray therapy at the Lawrence Berkeley cyclotron. [16]
Dr Joseph Hamilton had previously administered Iodine 131 both to animals and humans. He had assisted Dr Charles Pecher in the administration ofStrontium 89 to animals in early studies, and to people in order to reduce thepain of terminal bone cancer. [17]
It was for these reasons in fact that Hamilton was chosen to investigate, undercontract, the metabolism of the fission products by the Manhattan Project.
As we have seen, history shows that Ernest Lawrence began using his cyclotron to manufacture artificial radio isotopes after the Juliot -Curies had made their related breakthrough in 1934. The formation of the Health Division within the Manhattan Project shows an awareness that the substances and radiations generated by the fission process produced biological effects that presented as health and safety issues.
As nuclear medicine had previous experience studying I131 and Sr89 in the era prior to their identification as fission products, Hamilton had at least this prior experience and the prior findings as a background.
John Lawrence and L.A. Erf had assisted Charles Pecher in his Sr89 work
[19] and had originated treatments using Phosphorus 32. [20]
Stone had prior experience with the effects of neutron ray therapy, such that he ceased such treatment in 1940 after distressing late effects afflicted many of the 250 patients he treated. [21]

……. The production of Strontium 89 resulted in the formation of an isotope of Yttrium as a by-product. [3] Pecher devised and patented a means by which Yttrium could replace the use of Radium in industry. The method offered greater safety, economy and performance in industrial radiography. The patent was one of two granted to Charles Pecher in America. [4]

…….. It is apparent the estimate is the result of a comparison of the known effects of external X radiation doses and the observed effects of internal Sr89 as it irradiated target tissue, the equivalence taking into account such complexities as ionising effectiveness and local vs. whole body dose when comparing internal Beta radiation in bone with external X ray. The external equivalent dose arrived at by Aebersold demonstrates the effectiveness of internal Sr89 as a vector for delivery of radiation doses to specific local tissue compared to external X ray in treatment.
Was there an aspect of the work which might arouse military interest in relation to the spread of this substance over enemy positions by any means?
The “Final Report of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments” (US Department of Energy, 1995) as commissioned by President Clinton states “The first proposed military application of atomic energy was not nuclear Weaponry but radiological warfare (RW) –the use of radioactive materials to cause injury. A May 1941 report by the National Academy of Sciences listed the first option as the ”production of violently radioactive materials , . . carried by airplanes to be scattered as bombs over enemy territory.” [21] In any such use, what would the military expect to happen to the enemy? On the basis of what knowledge?
Charles had spent the previous 15 months [22] manufacturing what turned out to be a fission product, via non-fission means, at the Berkeley Cyclotron.
He had described its relatively high energy beta radiation and rate of radioactivity. [23] In the terms used by the National Academy of Sciences report, Strontium 89 was “violently radioactive”. Strontium 89 has a rate of radioactivity of 27,800 curies and emits comparatively high energy for a beta emitter. [24] This is 27,800 times more ‘violently radioactive’ than the alpha emitting radium. Alpha has a greater ionisation effectiveness than Beta. [25]
6. The Cold War -Secret Witness
The popular mythology has Strontium 90, as a long-range, accreting hazard from nuclear fallout, in pre-eminent place. Of the numerous fission isotopes of Strontium, Strontium 89 is one important contributor to immediate fallout radiation dose and hence induced disease. Strontium 89 is produced more abundantly than Strontium 90 by nuclear weapons. 1 gram of Strontium 89 has a radioactivity of 27,800 curies. 1 gram of Strontium 90 has a radioactivity of 143 curies. [1] 1 curie is the rate of radioactivity of 1 gram of Radium.[2] Further, 2.62 x 104 curies of Strontium-89, and 2 x l02 curies of strontium-90 form per Kiloton of fission yield. [3] The popular culture is imbued with awareness of Strontium 90. This cultural awareness results from the official pronouncements that are limited to possible future harms from the gradual build up of strontium, not the actual immediate doses suffered from all fission products, including the highly radioactive Strontium 89 which gives a very high immediate dose if internalized.

…. In 1925 disease and death caused by the incorporation of Radium into bone was described by medicine. The delivery of radioactive substances of biochemical activity to target populations by military means may have been conceptualized at that time. It seems to have been foreseen by Einstein in his 1939 letter to Roosevelt.
I conclude that prior to Dr Firusian, Charles Pecher was assigned to obscurity by secrecy imposed with the advent of nuclear weapons. His work became obscure outside of the military and industrial nuclear complex.
Charles Pecher found strontium uptake is related to calcium in the diet. This forewarned authorities. I conclude this knowledge was seen as a strategic advantage by the Western Alliance in relation to “enemy” cultures such as Germany, Japan the Soviet Union at the relevant times in history.
Time Magazine, 11 August, 1930, “Medicine: Radium Women.”
“The New York Times”, 7 March 1938, “Radium Edict Obeyed; No Compensation Claims Made in State Since 1934”, pp 19.
Quint, Arvin S., “ORCA. History of Classified Activities at Oak Ridge National Laboratories”. ORCA – 7, Chapter 2 “Origins of the Manhattan Project”, pp. 2.
[U.S. Department of Energy Office of History and Heritage Resources, “The Manhattan Project An Interactive History:” “Events of the Manhattan Project” Reorganisation and Acceleration, 1940-1941”,

Medicine and the Bomb:
Deceptions from Trinity to Maralinga
Volume 2
The August – September 1945 Surveys of Hiroshima
Conducted by Professor Shimizu et al.

,,,,,,, in the 1920s world wide newspapers and scientific literature reported
on the alpha radiation induced deaths and injuries suffered by people employed in applying radioactive paint to instruments such as clocks and compasses. Alpha radiation emitted by radium paint caused these health effects. (Sources: Frome, Paul, 1999, “Radioluminescent
Paint,” on line, Oak Ridge Associated Universities. Griffin, Noel, 6 Feb. 1996, “Radiation Induced cancer in humans,” online, Triumf Safety Group Radiation Protection Training Course.)
The hazards, methods of detection, and modes of protection were known by the nuclear scientific establishment globally years prior to 1945.

While alpha radiation is harmless when outside the body, once internalized, within the body

its very high rate of ionisation causes repeated severe damage to the cells of the body adjacent to the particle emitting the radiation. This has profound and often lethal health effects. (Source: “Medical Response to Terrorism Preparedness and Clinical Practice” Editor in Chief Daniel C Keyes Editors Johnathan L Burstein Richard B Schwarz Raymond
E. Swienton, Chapter 13 Types of Radiation Explained for the Nonphysicist by Greene Shepherd Page 138).

A Chronology Of The Work Of Charles And Jacqueline Pecher : The Hijacking And Suppression Of Their Science
/ Langley, Paul J
Port Willunga, S. Aust. : Paul Langley, 2008

F. L. Hoffman describes osteomyelitis of the mandible. He finds the condition in 8 patients he had seen and some, including 2 deaths, he had heard of. He postulates that the disease is caused by radioactivity in luminous paint. He called the disease “Radium Jaw”. (Brucer cites JAMA 85:961 1925) Brucer, M., “A Chronology of Nuclear Medicine”, ISNB0-9625674-0-X, Heritage Publications In St Louis,
Page 198
M.S. Martland of Orange County, New Jersey, Health Service, publishes study of 18 young women employed to paint clock dials with radium paint. The paint was based upon zinc sulphide and radium. The dial painters tipped their brushes between their lips, enabling them to paint fine lines. In the process, minute amounts of radium transferred to their mouths and absorped to local bone. After 5 years, illnesses ranging from a slight necrosis of the alveolar borders to destruction of the maxilla with profound anemia occurred. (Brucer cites JAMA, 85: 1769, 1925)

Martland used the Elster and Geiter (1904) method to measure the radioactivity of the dial painters exhaled breath. Placing an electroscope 18 inches over the chest of a dial painter , he obtained “a measure of the penetrative radiation from the body”. Brucer considers this the first whole body count. (Brucer cites AJR 37 : 368 1937.)

Robley Evans of MIT uses this “breath analysis” in the 1940s. Seaborg cites the dial painters disaster as the basis for his concern for the health effects of plutonium during the Manhattan Project. The idea that a substance introduced into the body and retained there by its biochemistry to inflict radiological damage to local tissues forms the basis for radiological warfare proposed by Hamilton in 1942 in regard to strontium. Later, Evans and others would rank the biological effectiveness, or harms, of the fission products and transuranics (eg plutonium), in relation to radium on the basis of the intensity and qualities of the radiations emitted. This referred not only to the radioactivity, but its types and its energies. Brucer, M., “A Chronology of Nuclear Medicine”, ISNB0-9625674-0-X, Heritage Publications In St Louis,
Page 198
1928 April 30

Florence L. Pfalzgray, “Radium Victim Battles Death With Courage,”
Orange, N.J. Daily Courier, April 30, 1928: 1.
The Radium Girls
By Bill Kovarik
Originally published as Chapter Eight of
Mass Media and Environmental Conflict
(Revised 2002)

May 13

“Woman Awaiting Death Tells How Radium Poison Slowly, Painfully Kills,” New York Telegram, May 13, 1928.

The Radium Girls
By Bill Kovarik
Originally published as Chapter Eight of
Mass Media and Environmental Conflict
(Revised 2002)

Ethelda Bedford, “Radium Victims too Ill to Attend Court Tomorrow,” Newark Ledger, May 17, 1928. The Radium Girls
By Bill Kovarik
Originally published as Chapter Eight of
Mass Media and Environmental Conflict
(Revised 2002)

Mme. Curie Urges Safety from Radium,” June 4, 1928, United Press.

The Radium Girls
By Bill Kovarik
Originally published as Chapter Eight of
Mass Media and Environmental Conflict
(Revised 2002)


Los Alamos Science Number 23 1995
Radium–the Benchmark

“Radium was thus a stable source of radiation for hundreds of years with an intensity three-thousand times greater than an equal amount of uranium. In other words, radium combined a long life with radioactive intensity far better than the other known radioactive materials, and it was eagerly put to a great number of uses……

Robley Evans became interested in the uptake, metabolism, and excretion of radium in living persons and realized that the key to studying those problems would be the
ability to accurately measure the amount of radium present in the living body. However, the alpha particles emitted by radium are only weakly penetrating and cannot be used to measure the radium body burden; they simply do not make it out of the body. Therefore, Evans’ idea was to measure what became known as the in vivo body burden by an indirect approach. Instead of measuring the alpha
particles from radium, Evans would make measurements pertaining to three of the daughter products of radium (see “In Vivo Measurements of Radium”). Evans developed
the technique in 1934 at MIT. It was many times more sensitive than previous techniques, allowing measurement of body burdens as small as 0.1 microgram.
It was also easy to apply and was eventually used by all those involved in clinical studies of radium poisoning, including, of course, Dr. Martland.

Toward the end of 1940, the United States was gearing up for World War II, and radium-dial instruments were being produced in large quantities. Evans was again approached, this time by the U.S. Navy, about the subject of radium standards. (It is said that a captain in the Navy Medical Corps paid Evans a visit and insisted that he either provide the Navy with safety standards for radium-dial painters or face being inducted into the service where he would be forced to produce them.)
Evans became part of nine-member committee formed by the National Bureau of Standards. Also on that committee were Martland and two other researchers who
had done quantitative work on radium toxicity.
By February 1941, the committee had collected accurate information on the residual body burdens of 27 persons as well as their state of health. The 20 persons with radium body burdens in the range of 1.2 to 23 microcuries of activity, or 1.2 to 23 micrograms by weight (by definition, 1 gram of radium has an activity of 1 curie), showed various degrees Although the tolerance level of 0.1 microcurie was based on residual body burdens measured 15 to 20 years after intake, in practice it was used as the maximum permissible body burden at the time of intake. The initial body burdens of the subjects in Evans’ study were typically about 10 to 100 times larger than the residual
burdens he measured. Therefore, an additional safety factor of about 10 to 100 was built into the standard. In 1981, 40 years after the standard was set, Evans
reported that no exception to the standard had been found among some 2000 observed radium patients. That is, no symptoms were ever observed for persons of injury, whereas the 7 persons with body burdens less than 0.5 microcurie showed no ill effects at all. Evans proposed to the committee that the tolerance level for the radium body burden in radium-dial painters be set “at such a level that we would feel perfectly comfortable if our own wife or daughter were the subject.”

With that thought in mind, the nine members unanimously decided to set the tolerance level at a factor of 10 below the level at which
effects were seen, or 0.1 microcurie. On May 2, 1941, the standard for radium- 226 was adopted in the National Bureau of Standards Handbook, seven months before Pearl Harbor and two months after the then secret discovery of plutonium.

In 1944, when plutonium began to be produced in kilogram quantities, the experiences
with radium forewarned scientists about plutonium’s probable toxic effects
and provided an essential quantitative basis for the creation of a plutonium standard.

Robert Stone, the head of the Plutonium Project Health Division, made the
earliest estimate of a permissible burden for plutonium by scaling the radium standard
on the basis of the radiological differences between radium and plutonium.
Those included the difference in their radioactivities and that of their daughters
and the difference in the average energy of their alpha particles. The result indicated
that, gram for gram, plutonium was a factor of 50 less toxic than radium,
and the standard was set to 5 micrograms.
In July 1945, Wright Langham insisted that the 5-microgram standard be reduced
by a factor of 5 on the basis of animal experiments that showed that plutonium was
distributed in the bone differently, and more dangerously, than radium. Thus, the
maximum permissible body burden for plutonium was set at 1 microgram. That
limit was chosen to protect plutonium workers from the disasters that had befallen
the radium-dial painters. As part of the effort to understand how to measure the
plutonium body burden in living persons and to remove them from work if the burden
got close to the limit, the human plutonium-injection experiments were carried
out. (The story of those experiments is told in “The Human Plutonium Injection
Following those experiments, discussions at the Chalk River Conferences in Ontario,
Canada, (1949 to 1953) led to further reductions in the plutonium standard
to 0.65 micrograms, or 40 nanocuries, for a maximum permissible body burden.
Since then, no further changes have been made, in part because no ill effects from
plutonium have been observed in any exposed individual with the exception of one
person—an individual with a body burden around the permissible level who died
of a rare bone cancer that possibly was caused by plutonium.”

Via Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy.

DOE Openness: Human Radiation Experiments: Roadmap to the Project ACHRE Report Part II
Chapter 5 Introduction
The Manhattan District Experiments
The AEC’s Reaction: Preserving Secrecy while Requiring Disclosure Human Experimentation Continues

Chapter 5: Introduction

A starting point was to examine the available data on radium poisoning, compare the characteristics of the radiation emitted by radium and plutonium, and try to extrapolate from radium to plutonium. However, plutonium had already revealed unexpected physical properties, which were posing problems for the bomb designers. Could plutonium also have unexpected biochemical properties? Extrapolation from radium was a good starting point, but could never be as reliable as data on plutonium itself.
Oppenheimer agreed that this research was critical. In an August 16, 1944, memorandum to Hempelmann, Oppenheimer authorized separate programs to develop methods to detect plutonium in the excreta and in the lung. With respect to biological studies, which Oppenheimer speculated might involve human experimentation, he wrote: “I feel that it is desirable if these can in any way be handled elsewhere not to undertake them here.”[3] The reason Oppenheimer did not want these experiments conducted at Los Alamos remains obscure. Nine days later, Hempelmann met with Colonel Stafford L. Warren, medical director of the Manhattan Project, and others. They agreed to conduct a research program using both animal and human subjects.[4]

A google search for “Radium Dial Painters” reveals hundreds of documents of relevance.

In short, the Australian Army appears to have acted with callous disregard toward the health and safety of instrument fitters engaged in the servicing and modification of luminous dialled instruments.

The Radium Dial Painters of 1920s on – Initial Ideas for a Rad Weapon

September 22, 2010

From my earlier posts readers will be aware that from 1971 to 1973 I was an Australian soldier, I served in the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers corps. I was stationed at a unit within 4 Base Workshop RAEME (just ouside Albury/Wodonga). The unit I was attached to was the RADIAC Calibration Centre. (Radiation Detection Identification and Computation). The primary role of the unit was to maintain, repair and check the accuracy of all military (except Navy) and Civil Defence radiation detectors in Australia. It was the Cold War. There were thousands of such detectors in use. The detectors most often repaired at the Centre had the model designation PDR 27A. They would be handy in case of nuclear attack. Other routine uses of course existed for such devices in certain “special places” in Australia.

The unit where I worked held radioactive sources of known radioactivity – calibration sources – capable of sending the detector meter needle to “full scale deflection” on the detectors’ highest level setting. I worked as a technical clerk and storeman at Radiac, daily within meters of radioactive sources capable of rendering a person ataxic and then unconcious and then dead in very short order if unshielded.

I am not a “radiophobe” as the nuclear industry likes to label nuclear protestors such as myself. I guess these days I am a bit of a feral, (as the State Treasurer, Mr Folly (sic) would label me; not so much as I would like though. Others have more committment than I.

In the course of my Army training, the hazards of working around radium was discussed. My superiors were well aware of the dangers radium posed: the venting of radon gas and the subsequent deposition of radioactive solids as the radon rapidly decayed. In my workplace, the ingestion radium was not the primary concern. Each day I would monitor the work environment with an alpha detector (scintillator) to ensure no radon decay products had deposited on surfaces.

The unit I worked in kept radium as a means of checking the accuracy of radiation detectors sent in for repair and calibration. The radium was normally kept in a gas proof vault.

I clearly recall a day in about 1972 when the Captain and Warrant Officer entered the building. They had with them a plastic bag, which was sealed. Inside the bag was a “Diamond” brand luminous alarm clock, made in China, of the type commonly used in that era as bedroom clocks. I was called into the calibration room and watched as the Warrant Officer, wearing dust coat and gloves, measured alpha radioactivity on the outside of the clock. The external glass and body of the clock was heavily contaminated with radion progeny. (decay products from radon, which is itself a decay product of radium. Radium is a decay product of uranium). These external readings were many times over the World Health Organisation standards, I was told.

On removing the clock’s glass face – which was easy as the it was held in place only by a loose chrome ring – and rubber gasket (which was obviously quite useless), the level of alpha radiation detected became extremely high. The senior staff noted the reading and prepared the clock for disposal as radioactive waste. I was not privy to any report or outcome from this little excersize in checking the radioactivity of a typical radium dialled alarm clock.

An interesting little story when compared with Dr Edward Teller’s statements of the 1960s in which he repeatedly stated that radium clocks and watches were safe. And that, he said, delivered more radioactivity to people than fallout from atomic bomb testing, of which he was a very keen advocate, having been a weaponeer with gusto since 1942. (In any event, Teller deliberately failed to ADD the exposure from radium paint to the exposure from bomb fallout in his explanation. In effect, he actually subjected one from the other; a very devious man. He also set the long standing tactic of confusing internal emitters with external sources of exposure. Very important.

Anyway, there is another story about radium from 4 Base Workshop at the time I was there. At that time RAEME workshops around Australia repaired most Army instruments. Compasses, watches, and so on. Most of these instruments had luminous dials. Luminous via the application of radium paint. (See story above.) The trade of Instrument Fitter was a RAEME trade.

Shortly after the Diamond brand clock incident, the Radiac Centre senior staff checked the Instrument Fitters’ workshop for radioactive contamination from radium paint. Though I was not privy to the actual results of the survey, I do know that the work benches, felt work mats, chairs, desks, floors and so on were heavily contaminated with alpha emitters – radium paint scrappings, (radium paint was freshly applied to dials at the workshop) and from the decay products of radium. The building had to be decontaminated and desks and other things were burnt and buried. This occurred in about 1972. So one can say for sure that at that time the Australian Army, specifically the corp of RAEME was very aware of the dangers of working with radium dialled instruments. The expertise was held by the Radiac Centre.

It would come as a shock then to think that in the 1980s and 1990s Australian soldiers working as Instrument Fitters, specifically tasked to convert luminous dialled instruments from very very radium paint to less dangerous Tritium light source dials, were employed in ways which make a mockery of the safety awareness held by RAEME in 1972. But this is actually the case. The radium to tritium conversion took place at 2 Base Workshop RAEME, near Sydney. It occurred from the 1980s to the 1990s.

Workers were not trained in safely working with radium, were not trained in precautions to take in dealing with radium paint and its removal by scrapping, were not trained in the safe handling of the scrappings, were not instructed to decontaminate prior to leaving the work area or prior to eating. The same clothing worn during radium paint removal were worn off duty and were washed with the soldiers other clothing in the normal washing machines on base.

One does not have to be very bright to see the vast potential for worker internal contamination, the contamination of work clothes, and from there the contamination of laundry facilities and from there, the contamination of clothing of non involved personnel who happened to use potentially contaminated laundry facilities at 2 Base Workshop RAEME in the era.

I do not know what became of the 4 Base Workshop Instrument Fitters. I do not know the fate of the 2 Base Workshop RAEME Instrument Fitters. Other than contact by one former 2 Base Instrument Fitter who has told me she cannot obtain her film badge data.

So, how long has the dangers of radium and radium paint been known? It is no longer available in Australia, it is too dangerous to use. (Though the DOE, its experimenters at Flinders University South Australia, and Bobby Scott of Los Alamos disagree. Scott claims radon is beneficial in official Los Alamos publications. In conflict with the EPA and the US Cancer Council).

The story starts with the diagnosis of “Radium Jaw” suffered by radium dial painters in 1925….

But first, a link:

(Which is:

NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin
Volume 12, Number 4, 233-248, DOI: 10.1007/s00048-004-0201-3
The women radium dial painters as experimental subjects (1920–1990) or what counts as human experimentation

Maria Rentetzi
The case of women radium dial painters — women who tipped their brushes while painting the dials of watches and instruments with radioactive paint — has been extensively discussed in the medical and historical literature. Their painful and abhorrent deaths have occupied the interest of physicians, lawyers, politicians, military agencies, and the public. Hardly any discussion has concerned, however, the use of those women as experimental subjects in a number of epidemiological studies that took place from 1920 to 1990. This article addresses the neglected issue of human experimentation in relation to the radium dial painters. Although women’s medical examinations have been classified as simple, routine measurements of radiation burden on the body and presented as a great offer to humanity, for more than fifty years those women had been repeatedly used as experimental subjects without proper consent. I argue that through this case it becomes obvious that the issue of defining what counts as human experimentation shifts from an epistemological to a serious ethical and political question, concerning the making of scientific knowledge while issues of gender related to this process are also discussed. end quote.) One could be forgiven for wondering how military experts at 2 Base Workshop RAEME, 1980 -1990, saw the staff they failed to adequately protect. In my opinion.

to be continued…


September 21, 2010

Dear friends,

I wanted to send out this action alert and news update to interested members of about the latest subcritical nuclear test in Nevada, an outrageous act that threatens world peace and undermines disarmament and nonproliferation efforts. Please be encouraged to forward this news item to other activists, blogs, etc… Thanks for your time!

-Andrew Kishner


by Andrew Kishner

On Wednesday, September 15, the United States Department of Energy conducted a subcritical nuclear experiment under the NNSS (Nevada National Security Site) facility in Nevada formerly known as the Nevada Test Site.

The subcritical test dubbed ‘Bacchus’ is the 24th such controversial subcritical nuclear experiment whereby plutonium is bombarded by conventional explosives, short of triggering a chain reaction that would create a nuclear-bomb-explosion. Although the Department of Energy (DOE) conducts many experiments using plutonium and other bomb-trigger materials, those are generally called hydrodynamic tests and are different from subcritical experiments. Why? Subcritical tests entail ‘Goldie Locks’ amounts of plutonium – not too small to be a small physics-type experiment (hydrodynamic test) but no too big such that the plutonium experiment will go critical and create a nuclear explosion. However, the amounts of plutonium used in a subcritical test can begin to fission, just like a nuclear bomb. One Cold War era subcritical test conducted at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1963 slightly went critical, bombarded the surroundings with nuclear radiation, although a runaway chain reaction wasn’t maintained.

Why does the DOE conduct subcritical tests? They say that they want to learn more about plutonium – how it acts, how it ages. And so bombarding with conventional explosives a similar but smaller weapons ‘core’ of plutonium (there are thousands of such cores in warheads in our nuclear stockpile) would teach them more about the physical conditions that fissile materials (i.e. plutonium) experience at the onset of a nuclear blast, they say. However, some scientists called this baloney. They note that plutonium’s physical structure actually becomes more stable over time.

So, why REALLY is the DOE doing subcritical tests?

One reason is to prime and ready the test site. The most nuked place on Earth is the Nevada National Security Site (formerly Nevada Test Site). That area, which is home to ‘Area 51’ and ‘Yucca Flat,’ is the U.S. (and U.K.’s) primary nuclear proving grounds. It is still there to test our nukes because U.S. leaders won’t disavow their rights to test nukes ‘if they have to.’ That is the only reason it is still open despite excuses that the area is ‘useful’ for other national security, firefighting, treaty verification purposes. The U.S. simply wants to retain the right to blow up nukes in Nevada when it wants to – even though it doesn’t want the public to know this – and so it conducts these subcritical tests to keep the test site workforce employed, trained and primed in case a nuke test is needed in the future.

The first subcritical test was conducted by the U.S. in 1997 – just five short years after the U.S.’s very last nuclear test which was conducted underground also at the Nevada Test Site. The most recent subcritical test was in 2006, which was the same year that DOE was put to shame for its complicit role in attempting to irradiate Westerners with Divine Strake. The DOE is expected to give a 48 hour notice to the world community in advance of any full-scale subcritical test but it does not appear that this precedent was followed, and rather was completely disregarded, possibly because the DOE fears that the public would again kick their butt into not doing another test at the site. One Nevada activist group has indicated that they were on a list to get 48-hour notices but never received one.

The DOE’s subcritical testing program, which is part of its Stockpile Stewardship program, is problematic because it is nearly impossible to know if any country has indeed conducted a zero-yield subcritical test or a very small yield nuclear blast. Why? Subcriticals are:

* conducted out of sight, so there would be no flash of light detectable via satellite imagery
* involve such small amounts of plutonium, so a tiny ‘pop’ would be too small to produce any seismic effect
* occur at deep depths, at about 1,000 feet underground, so radioactive hot gases would likely not reach the surface and wouldn’t be picked up by the radiation monitoring network of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

Forty four members of Congress stated in a letter to President Clinton in 1997 that the depth (below ground) where subcritical experiments are conducted would set ‘a precedent for conducting underground nuclear tests that a test ban treaty violator would find useful. Because the CTBT is not yet ratified, there are no existing verification standards nor methods by which to determine whether a nuclear weapons experiment violates the CTBT or not. The U.S. is unwisely creating a testing norm under which other nations could justify conducting similar underground nuclear weapons experiments at their test sites. An even more dangerous consequence is that countries with nuclear capability, but lacking the sophisticated testing technology of the declared nuclear weapons states, could be provoked to resume full-scale underground testing.’

Subcritical tests are currently generating suspicion and distrust worldwide. In August 1997, after a full-testing ban was put into effect between the U.S. and Russia, a seismic event in Russia generated suspicion in the U.S. and around the globe that Russia conducted a nuclear test or critical-subcritical experiment! The U.S. Air Force later determined that the seismic event came from the ocean and was a small earthquake.

Each time the U.S. conducts a subcritical test, they fan the flames of fear in other countries, whose interpretation is that the U.S. is (still) testing and honing their nukes.

See a sample of the website hits we are getting at Idealist from China/Russia/ regarding Bacchus.

Their logical conclusion is that until they become nuclear, militarily they are disadvantaged. What’s to stop then from starting their own subcritical testing program now, or even when the CTBT, which won’t ban subcritical tests, goes into effect? The same thing will happen. Suspicion of the deliberate conduct of, or a technical error that led to an accidental occurrence of, an underground nuclear test may force a resumption of underground nuclear testing by one country or a slew of countries. Note that the preparations as viewed by satellite for a subcritical test will end up looking exactly like the preparations for a full-scale underground nuclear test. This ‘preparation’ would create a global furor.

It is unlikely that the CTBT-in-force will change anything and remedy any of the problems the CTBT is designed to solve. The current not-in-force status of CTBT lacks any verification regime for these subcriticals. When in force, although any signatory can request that international monitors visit the country where a suspected test occurred, an on-site visit by international monitors may be too late by then (even if they can find the subcritical testing enclave to verify claims).

The CTBT is not comprehensive enough at preventing fear and distrust from spiraling towards a nuclear arms race.

And, so, we return to ‘Bacchus.’ Why isn’t ‘Bacchus’ now causing a global furor? Is it because we ‘trust’ the nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons development in the U.S. and not from North Korea or Iran? Recall that neither of those two latter countries has ever used DU or nuclear bombs on other nations, or poisoned their own people with fallout under false assurances of ‘There is No Danger.’ Why is it that ‘they’ can’t experiment underground but WE CAN? That adds new meaning to Obama’s mantra ‘Yes, we can!’

It is my firm belief that subcritical tests are an extension of the 41-year-long nuclear testing program of the United States government at the Nevada Test Site that began in 1951 and ‘ended’ in 1992. A subcritical underground test – which I place in the same category as a nuclear test – is a break of the underground testing ban and these ‘nuclear’ tests may signal to other CTBT signatories the U.S.’s determination to not only keep its nuclear arsenal but one day resume full-scale nuclear testing.

Please read more on our very comprehensive subcritical experiments page; there, you must read the 2 amazing letters written in 1997 by Rep. Cynthia McKinney and 43 other Congresspersons, and another by Greenpeace and dozens of other peace orgs; also view our ‘Map of the global conversation about the U.S.’s subcritical experiment program’

Action step

Idealist asks everyone concerned about these provocative subcritical tests to bring awareness to and protest this most recent subcritical nuclear test by observing an hour of silence everyday starting at 5:35 pm, the time of the ‘Bacchus’ test held on Sept. 15, 2010.

If asked ‘Why aren’t you talking?,’ you can write on a notepad that you will conveniently carry around with you:

“I am observing an hour of silence to protest the U.S.’s subcritical nuclear test ‘Bacchus.’

More at:

paul’s comment: One can see Bobby Scott, Los Alamos and its contractors, such as Flinders University (P. Sykes) having yet another agenda in the design and conduct of “health” experiments” purporting to show the health benefits (as stated by Scott based on data provided in part by Sykes funded by DOE) of “low level” external radiation without any acknowledgement of the nature of the true mode of damage – internal contamination.


The Radium Dial Painters.

Illegal Internal Experiments 3

September 11, 2010,,2078957,00.html

Family urges public inquiry over Sellafield

Daughter’s anger as new details emerge in body parts scandal

* Martin Wainwright and James Randerson
* The Guardian, Monday 14 May 2007
* Article history

The government is facing renewed pressure for public hearings into the Sellafield body parts controversy as new details emerge of tests done on the organs of dead workers without the knowledge of bereaved families. Papers seen by the Guardian show how organs and tissue were removed at autopsies and apparently burned by doctors looking for evidence of radiation contamination.

One woman who has had confirmation that her father, Malcolm Pattinson, was among 65 people whose organs were taken without his family’s consent, wants the government to hold a public inquiry into the affair, instead of hearing evidence behind closed doors. Pattinson died in 1971 from leukaemia. Yesterday his daughter, Angela Christie, 49, told the Guardian: “I’m not against research – how could I be when I work at Sellafield, just as my dad did, and so do my husband and my son? But the way these things were done has lessons for today.”

She has obtained documents, previously thought destroyed, which show that when her father died, doctors acting for both BNFL and his trade union had immediate access to his organs. Surviving relatives say they and the man’s widow knew nothing about it. The papers confirm:

· Organs including lungs, liver, spleen and bone marrow were removed;

· Concerns about the risks of working at the plant were so grave that union lawyers were notified on the day of death about autopsy plans;

· Evidence that BNFL tried to cover up admissions of liability.

Mrs Christie said: “The law was different then, but the papers give me a sense of people doing as they pleased.”

The trade and industry secretary, Alistair Darling, last month appointed Michael Redfern QC to report on the removal of body parts from 65 former Sellafield workers between 1962 and 1991. Mr Redfern’s inquiry into the Alder Hey children’s hospital body parts scandal was praised for transparency and his appointment, followed by an expansion of the Sellafield remit to other nuclear sites, has been welcomed. But while his inquiry will be independent, it will not be held in public. Family members are pressing for a further extension to permit public hearings.

Mrs Christie insisted that only such scrutiny could lay to rest the local sense of shock and suspicion about the research programme. Trade unions and the local Labour MP, Jamie Reed, said the new evidence added to concerns about the secretive way in which deaths were handled.

Mr Pattinson’s family won Sellafield’s first court admission of liability in 1979 and £67,000 compensation after an eight year legal battle whose documents were rediscovered last week.

The documents include a solicitor’s account of the settlement on the day court proceedings were due to start, after a last-minute attempt by BNFL to remove references to an admission of liability made the previous February, on the grounds that the company’s press office had been denying this for nine months.

Mrs Christie said: “There are five more boxes of papers involving other families. It will help if it all comes out.”

Mr Reed said: “Michael Redfern is the right person to head this inquiry and the government has just announced that he will have a team in West Cumbria to hear from families. This should take its course, but if there are any gaps at the end, then a full public inquiry will be essential.”

Another one in the eye for Pam Sykes of Flinders University and her cohort of funders at Los Alamos and US DOE.

Illegal Internal Emitter Experiments 2

September 11, 2010

Originally sent to me by Christina, here’s a press article the preceding post refers to:

UK nuke test victims
Monday, 6 September, 2010 10:40 PM
This sender is DomainKeys verified
“Christina Macpherson”
Add sender to Contacts
“paul langley”

Nuke test veterans health files to be probed after they die,, By Susie Boniface 5/09/2010 Scientists keep tabs in secret A nuclear test veteran has discovered the Government has ordered secret research into his health – after he dies. David Whyte has been included in a programme giving scientists access to his NHS records. He now fears thousands of others are also being secretly monitored.

Mr Whyte, an ex-Army engineer, said: “To find out you will be included in medical research you have not agreed to after you’ve died is horrifying.”

The events came to light after Mr Whyte applied for his MoD records and noticed his name was on a mysterious “health physics” list…….

The UK Government is battling a High Court compensation bid by 1,000 veterans and widows for health problems.

The Ministry of Defense insists almost none was exposed to dangerous levels of radiation and the high rates of cancer, death and birth defects are a coincidence.

Nuke test veterans health files to be probed

Next post: The UK Guardian reports in 2007 on the exhumation of Sellafield workers bodies. Same old Same old. and a poke in the eye for Pam Sykes (FU, Adelaide, uranium capital) and Bobby Scott, Los Alamos.


September 11, 2010


EMAILS FROM NUCLEAR VETERANS – UK (names deleted apart from
Mr Hayden)

Sunday, 12 September, 2010 12:56 AM
“Dennis Hayden”
Add sender to Contacts
Hi Paul ,
We are sure the motives for not compensating nuclear test veterans is because we underpin the whole question of radiation damage to health in our DNA .( Rowland Study – Massey University , NZ ) .

The following chain of email gives an explanation for our political exclusion from justice . The nuclear veterans are part of an on – going experiment that started with the nuclear tests and has continued since . The press in UK are beginning to take an interest in what we are referring to as ‘nucleargate’ that is , the experimentation on and the criminal neglect of nuclear veterans during and after the nuclear test experiments .

I am looking forward to seeing the information given to you in your Army Notes of 1970 . Prior knowledge of the health hazards of ingested ‘internal emitters ‘ is a key part of the cover -up , the lack of any follow up of health monitoring and health of individual veterans brings in the question of criminal negligence .

All the best ,

—– Original Message —–
From: Dennis Hayden
Sent: Saturday, September 11, 2010 2:03 PM

Dear All ,

We have a situation where the Sunday Mirror ( – 05 Sept ) revealed that nuclear veterans health files are being investigated by government AFTER veterans die and government scientists are keeping secret files . Added to which every politician in the UK who becomes a Minister at UK MoD ( who has been previously supportive of the nuclear veterans fight for justice) immediately , on becoming a Minister , does a spectacular back somersault on his previously held convictions .

The reason given in every instance for these back – flips over the decades is ” I have changed my mind because since becoming a Minister I have been made privy to new information .” ( Daily Mail 11 Sept , Ian Drury , Defence Correspondent )

In the long running saga of the political cover -up of ‘Nucleargate’ the question is :

” What is the ‘new information’ the UK MoD reveals to politicians , that it could not ( or dare not ) reveal to the Court ? ”

Nuclear veterans have long suspected we are being politically excluded from a duty of care . We have been victim of a hazard to health from ingested fall out radiation , previously known to government which is tantamount in legal terms to criminal negligence .

The truth of this is plain to see and so is the motive .

Regards to all ,

for the CVFI
—– Original Message —–
From: Dennis Hayden
Sent: Saturday, September 11, 2010 1:01 PM

From the Combined Veterans’ Forum International (CVFI )

Dear Ian ,

Thanks for your report in today’s Daily Mail ” LibDem minister betrayed us , say atom-test veterans ” .

The question we really need the Minister to answer is ” What did the MoD reveal to him , that it could not ( or dare not ) reveal to the Court ? ” .

The following chain of emails throw some possible light on this . There is more to follow .

Thank you for taking an interest in the long running saga of Nucleargate .

for the Action Executive

—– Original Message —–
From: Dennis Hayden
Sent: Saturday, September 11, 2010 12:08 PM
Subject: Is the Truth in Plain Sight?

Hi Roy ,

Please find attached copy of today’s 11 Sept national Daily Mail . The question we are hoping to get the press to ask is ” Why when a politician becomes a Minister do they renege upon previous support and say they have become privy to new information ? If that is the case then that new information must be made avaliable or the Minister should resign .”

We strongly doubt whether they will comply because any new information we suspect will reveal that the nuclear test veterans have been part of , and remain part of, a long on-going experiment . An experiment that is hiding previous government knowledge of radiation damage to health form fall out and as a concealment of a known hazard is therefore criminal negligence cotrary to the military covenant , the Nuremberg code etc .

All the best ,

—– Original Message —–
From: Dennis Hayden
Sent: Friday, September 10, 2010 1:15 PM
Subject: Re: Is the Truth in Plain Sight?

Dear Ian ,

This is very interesting and we thank you for sending it . It has always been a wonder and a mystery to nuclear veterans and widows why all politicians who have been supportive of the nuclear veterans always end up doing a massive back – flip when becoming a Minister in the MoD .

Comparing the nuclear test experiments and the US Tuskegee experiments there is , even from a lay person’s legal view , a very striking similarity : Experimentation and Criminal Negligence .

In the case of the nuclear veterans it has been UK government experimental acitivity , with prior knowledge of the hazard of ingested fall out to ill health , no follow up health care and then waiting for all involved to die .

In the US Tuskegee case one doctor involved explained the failure to treat them :

” As I see it we have no further interest in these patients until they die .”

This is very similar to the MoD /Government’s attitude to the nuclear veterans of probing nuclear veterans health files only after death ( a reference to the flagging uo of nuclear veterans under the ” mysterious ‘health physics’ list for secret research after death ” – as reported by Susie Boniface , Sunday Mirror 05 September ) .

It certainly makes valid Ian’s point that the experimentation on servicemen is not only an act of criminal negligence but it is certainly enough to make any politician who becomes a Minister to be induced to do a spectacular backward somersault on theri previous convictions .

We believe we should attempt to get the media to follow up on this and to ask why was Harvey scared off ? What are politicians being told to induce them to do these backflips ? Almost everyone joining the MoD explains it thus …

” When I became a Minister I became privy to additional infomation ” .

What EXACTLY is this further information ???

This exchange of email is copied to Dave Whyte for information . To journalists to see what they can make of it .

Regards ,

for the CVFI

—– Original Message —–
Sent: Friday, September 10, 2010 5:04 AM
Subject: Is the Truth in Plain Sight?

Ian Anderson
11 Park Place
Suite 600
New York, NY 10007
Telephone: 212-791-6380
Fax: 212-791-6381


I spoke to Shirley today about the US Health Department’s Tuskegee Experiment. Below is an account of the experiment in which men who were diagnosed with syphilis were not told of their condition nor treated for it. The experiment was to document and record the untreated course of the disease on the men and their subsequently born offspring.

The MOD/ UK Government knew that the nuclear test veterans had been exposed to radiation, especially in the case of Shirley’s husband whose records reflect extremely high doses. The AWRE Christmas Island records clearly showed an awareness of the possibility of leukemia. So why was there no attempt to detect and treat for radiation illnesses?

Is this why Harvey did the 360 degree turn- about? Did the MOD also conduct a “Tuskegeelike” experiment to ascertain the long term effects of radiation on the large group of initially healthy men and their subsequent offspring to ascertain survival rates in a post- nuclear strike UK where medical services were overwhelmed or non- existent?

The MOD had already presented its evidence to the court to show the experimental nuclear tests were conducted in a safe manner. So what did it tell Harvey to scare him off? Perhaps the media could follow up on this more closely?



The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

“The United States government did something that was wrong—deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens. . . . clearly racist.”

—President Clinton’s apology for the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment to the eight remaining survivors, May 16, 1997

For forty years between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. Informed that they were being treated for “bad blood,”1 their doctors had no intention of curing them of syphilis at all. The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men, and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphilis—which can include tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death. “As I see it,” one of the doctors involved explained, “we have no further interest in these patients until they die.”
Using Human Beings as Laboratory Animals

The true nature of the experiment had to be kept from the subjects to ensure their cooperation. The sharecroppers’ grossly disadvantaged lot in life made them easy to manipulate. Pleased at the prospect of free medical care—almost none of them had ever seen a doctor before—these unsophisticated and trusting men became the pawns in what James Jones, author of the excellent history on the subject, Bad Blood, identified as “the longest nontherapeutic experiment on human beings in medical history.”

The study was meant to discover how syphilis affected blacks as opposed to whites—the theory being that whites experienced more neurological complications from syphilis whereas blacks were more susceptible to cardiovascular damage.

How this knowledge would have changed clinical treatment of syphilis is uncertain. Although the PHS touted the study as one of great scientific merit, from the outset its actual benefits were hazy. It took almost forty years before someone involved in the study took a hard and honest look at the end results, reporting that “nothing learned will prevent, find, or cure a single case of infectious syphilis or bring us closer to our basic mission of controlling venereal disease in the United States.”

When the experiment was brought to the attention of the media in 1972, news anchor Harry Reasoner described it as an experiment that “used human beings as laboratory animals in a long and inefficient study of how long it takes syphilis to kill someone.”
A Heavy Price in the Name of Bad Science

By the end of the experiment, 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis.

The experiment continued in spite of the Henderson Act (1943), a public health law requiring testing and treatment for venereal disease, and in spite of the World Health Organization’s Declaration of Helsinki (1964), which specified that “informed consent” was needed for experiment involving human beings.
Blowing the Whistle

The story finally broke in the Washington Star on July 25, 1972, in an article by Jean Heller of the Associated Press. Her source was Peter Buxtun, a former PHS venereal disease interviewer and one of the few whistle blowers over the years. The PHS, however, remained unrepentant, claiming the men had been “volunteers” and “were always happy to see the doctors,” and an Alabama state health officer who had been involved claimed “somebody is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.”

Under the glare of publicity, the government ended their experiment, and for the first time provided the men with effective medical treatment for syphilis. Fred Gray, a lawyer who had previously defended Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, filed a class action suit that provided a $10 million out-of-court settlement for the men and their families.

Gray, however, named only whites and white organizations in the suit, portraying Tuskegee as a black and white case when it was in fact more complex than that—black doctors and institutions had been involved from beginning to end.

The PHS did not accept the media’s comparison of Tuskegee with the appalling experiments performed by Nazi doctors on their Jewish victims during World War II. Yet in addition to the medical and racist parallels, the PHS offered the same morally bankrupt defense offered at the Nuremberg trials: they claimed they were just carrying out orders, mere cogs in the wheel of the PHS bureaucracy, exempt from personal responsibility.

The study’s other justification—for the greater good of science—is equally spurious. Scientific protocol had been shoddy from the start. Since the men had in fact received some medication for syphilis in the beginning of the study, however inadequate, it thereby corrupted the outcome of a study of “untreated syphilis.”

In 1990, a survey found that 10 percent of African Americans believed that the U.S. government created AIDS as a plot to exterminate blacks, and another 20 percent could not rule out the possibility that this might be true. As preposterous and paranoid as this may sound, at one time the Tuskegee experiment must have seemed equally farfetched. Who could imagine the government, all the way up to the Surgeon General of the United States, deliberately allowing a group of its citizens to die from a terrible disease for the sake of an ill-conceived experiment?



September 6, 2010

Here’s mine. What is so ticklish about giving K** hers?

The military use of instruments with luminous dials has a long history. Military and contract civilian workers employed to clean, reapply radium paint , latterly , to convert instruments to safer tritium light sources should have been employed in safe areas with appropriate training. They should have full access to their radiation exposure records.

I worked in an area which calibrated and repaired military radiation detectors. I have full access to my exposure records. Others, in other areas and at other bases are not so lucky.

As an example, here are some of my records and a couple of photos of me at work

Note that Dr Pam Sykes et al’s DOE experiment did nothing to address the hazards of internal contamination and that Los Alamos Labs, via Bobby Scott’s publications does nothing to raise from the dead those people, from the radium painters of the1920 through to victims over the decades affected by the radiological butchery of the military industrial complex. Those who disagree are often treated as Karen Silkwood was.