The Conspiracy of Silence over UK use of Human Nuclear Guinea Pigs

Human guinea-pigs in the British N-tests in Australia

‘An act of indefensible callousness’

Human guinea-pigs in the British N-tests in Australia

Jim Green, May 2001

The British government has finally admitted that military personnel were used in radiation experiments during the nuclear weapons tests at Maralinga in South Australia in the 1950s.

Confirming statements made repeatedly by veterans over the years, the British Ministry of Defence acknowledged on May 11 that it had used military personnel from Britain, Australia and New Zealand in radiation experiments. A statement released by the British government said that military personnel were “transported to or walked in various uniforms to an area of low-level fallout”.

The admission followed publicity surrounding documents found in the Australian National Archive in February by Sue Rabbitt Roff, a senior research fellow from Scotland’s Dundee University.

An October 12, 1956, document on an “Australian Military Forces – Central Command” letterhead refers to the ‘Buffalo’ series of four atmospheric nuclear tests conducted at Maralinga in September and October, 1956. The document names 70 Australian military personnel and one civilian, plus five New Zealand officers, all listed as exposed to radiation on September 28 or 29.

“As far as can be determined the individual dose for round one was received over a period of two to three hours while the various indoctrinee groups were touring the target response area. … Certain people were exposed to radiation on dates other than 28 and 29 Sep, during clothing trials or for a limited number during a tour of the contaminated area after round two”, the document said. The September 27 weapons test was 15 kilotonnes, about the same magnitude as the Hiroshima weapon.

The Central Command document reveals that at least 26 of the 76 people named as being exposed to radiation from tests in 1956 received a dose greater than the “maximum permissible exposure” of 0.3 roentgens in a week; the highest exposure was 0.66 roentgens in a few hours.

Some men were chosen for ‘clothing trials’ from an “indoctrinee force” of British, Australian and New Zealand military personnel. The men walked, crawled and were driven through a fallout zone three days after a nuclear test at Maralinga. Roff says 24 men were involved in the ‘clothing trials’, whereas Ric Johnstone, national president of the Australian Nuclear Veterans Association (ANVA), said in the May 19 Melbourne Age, “There were a whole lot more than 24 used as guinea pigs, there were men sent into the hot area with and without protective clothing.”

Roff dismisses the British government’s claim that it was testing clothing, not humans, and says that thousands of Commonwealth military personnel not directly involved in the nuclear tests at Maralinga were required to be outdoors to observe the detonations.

“The issue is that they (the British government) have always denied doing these experiments and they have never conducted any medical support or follow-up for the men who were involved in these experiments”, Roff told the BBC.

Roff said the Central Command document contradicts claims by the British government in the European Court of Human Rights in 1997 that no humans were used in experiments in nuclear-weapons trials; a claim which enabled the British government to successfully defeat compensation claims.

“I was in the court in 1997 when the government denied using humans [in] studies of the effects of radiation”, Roff said. “In fact the government said it would be ‘an act of indefensible callousness to have done so'”…..see above link for full text.

This deception is springs out of the general culture of lies and suppression engineered by nuclear authorities at the time of the tests and since.

The following post takes the deception into the current time, as nuclear authorities and the government which succour them, continues to deny and with hold information in an act of monumental arse covering that has not ceased since the UK set out to nuke its own for reasons more complex and more deceptive than has ever been admitted.

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