Nuclear aftermath

 
Published: Monday 15 February 1999

THE UK government will launch an investigation into claims that a rare form of cancer is killing servicepersons who witnessed the Britain's nuclear weapons tests in Australia during the 1950s. UK's ministry of defence agreed to investigate the claims after, media reports in late 1998 suggested the number of test veterans contracting multiple myeloma, a rare bone marrow disease, was 10 times higher than in the rest of the population, English newspaper, The Mail on Sunday said.

A UK-based Dundee University researcher, Sue Rabbitt Roff, called for the new investigation after claiming to have found 45 victims, 32 of whom have died, among 2,000 test veterans. The ministry and the government's National Radiological Protection Board, will conduct the investigation. These bodies have previously disputed links between the disease and ailing veterans who saw around 46 atomic bombs exploding around Australia and Christmas Island between 1952 and 1962.

A ministry of defence spokesperson said investigations will be carried out to establish whether the disease is linked to the tests.

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