British MPs acknowledge nuclear test veterans report

by nuclearhistory

British MPs acknowledge nuclear test veterans report

The report into the health of New Zealand nuclear test veterans, undertaken by a team led by Dr Al Rowland of the Institute of Molecular Biosciences, has been acknowledged in the United Kingdom House of Commons.

The Labour Mp for Norwich North, Ian Gibson, lodged an early day motion – a device to stimulate debate and recognition in the house – applauding the study. Dr Gibson and John Baron, Conservative MP for Billericay, also planned to request a parliamentary inquiry into the detonations, which took place in the South Pacific from 1957.

The New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association commissioned Dr Rowland to look at the cells of 50 veterans for damage. Dr Rowland says the findings are unequivocal: in a matched control group of men of the same age, his team found an expected frequency of 10 chromosome translocations per 1000 cells, but in the veterans’ group, the average number of translocations was considerably higher at 29 chromosome translocations per 1000 cells. Workers who were close to the Chernobyl nuclear accident or involved in the clean up after the accident had about 20 translocations.

Dr Gibson has asked for a copy of the report.

“We really need a similar thing for this country.”

There were 40,000 servicemen and civilians at the UK tests, 22,000 of them from Britain and the rest from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

Dr Gibson’s early day motion (EDM), lodged on 15 May, has attracted support from 87 other MPs. Although most EDMs are never debated, they are used to publicise the views of individual MPs, draw attention to specific events or campaigns, and to demonstrating the extent of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view.

More than 400 of the 551 sailors who took part in Operation Grapple have died. The New Zealand Test Veterans Association is now urging the New Zealand Government to fund studies into the health of veterans’ children and grandchildren.

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See also: “Atomic Radiation and Life”, Peter Alexander, Pelican Books, London, 1957, Chapter “The Sins of the Fathers.”