The UK Supreme Court has ruled against atomic and nuclear veterans seeking compensation for radiation exposure during British weapons testing in the 1950s.
The ruling, which found the claims were not filed within a three-year statute of limitations, illustrates a paradox: The veterans did not have documentation to prove their cases, in part, because the government failed to create or safeguard it.
The veterans may now turn to the European Court of Human Rights to win compensation or a fairer pension scheme.
Losing records and cutting corners. At one time, documentation may have existed on radiation exposures created by atomic testing at the Maralinga site. But as with pre-deployment blood-test information in England, relevant records from the hospital serving participants at the Maralinga site have disappeared. Twelve tests were conducted from 1952 to 1957 on Maralinga, Emu Field, and Monte Bello Islands.
Just the same, the British atomic scientists decided not to monitor radiation exposure of participants because the “[i]ssue of [film] badges at this stage may well provoke anxiety,” not only in the servicemen but also among the Christmas Islanders, according to a 1958 memo from Air Vice Marshal John Grandy to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment back in England.
In the 1960s, a government official opposed the inclusion of a question relating to radiation exposure in the military services’ documents. In the future, the official wrote, “[t]here might well… be changes in medical opinion on this problem, and we anticipate that in this event we would be gravely handicapped in defending claims for arrears of pension where the member could point out that because of the inclusion of this question we were aware of their exposure to radiation.”
Continue reading at UK nuclear veterans timed out?
◇See ABC News article.