International Bulletin of the Nuclear Veterans
Welcome to fissionline. We hope you enjoy our insights both past and present into all things nuclear and the ‘scary nuclear world’ which we all inhabit. Our growing army of readers make fissionline the premier newspaper for all affected by radiation. A big ‘thanks’ is owed to: Joe Pasquini, Ron Taylor, Llazar Semini, Mary Birch, Mike Rubery, Prof Chris Busby, Gerry Gribben and many more who have contributed to this edition. Many readers have inquired about the recent Radiation Appeal Tribunal. I had hoped we would have had a result by now...but the process is dragging on and on. Chris Busby, however, is keeping a close eye on things (see pgs 28-33) and there will be a special edition as soon as the result is announced. Readers have also been asking about the Aged Veterans Fund and the implications for them. A lot appear to be under the mistaken apprehension that we are connected with the BNTVA and its offshoot the NCCF. This is absolutely not the case, but in the interests of transparency we are publishing the recent contractual arrangement between the charity and the Ministry of Defence which we obtained under Freedom of Information laws. An independent assessment of these arrangements will be made in future editions.
Alan Rimmer EDITOR
4-7: Pray they don’t fallout — Trump and The Bomb. 8-13: Cursed Canberras. Remarkable insights of a Cold War Aviator. 14-15: Footprint from Hell. Inside the most dangerous place on earth. 17: That MoD/NCCF contract in full. 18-21: Return to Christmas Island 22: Smiley’s People 23: Nuke bunker turned into museum 24: Hi-Di-Hi! Holiday Camp offer 25: Hands off our badge! Vets reclaim heritage 26-27: Nuclear Matters 28-33: Inside the Radiation Pension Appeal Court 34-37: Mislaid In America
PRESIDENT-ELECT Donald Trump will take office on January 20. When that happens, he will be put in charge of the country’s stockpile of nuclear missiles. In a ritual out of sight of the cameras on Inauguration Day, America’s “nuclear briefcase” will change hands and President Donald Trump will receive a card, sometimes known as the “biscuit”. The card, which identifies him as commander-inchief, has on it the nuclear codes that are used to authenticate an order to launch a nuclear attack. At that point, should he wish, Mr Trump can launch any or all of America’s 2,000 strategic nuclear missiles. There are no constitutional restraints on his power to do so. Even if all his advisers have counselled against it, as long as it is clearly the president giving the command, the order must be carried out. There are no checks and balances in the system. Moreover, once the order is given there is likely to be only a
matter of minutes in which it could be rescinded. Once the missiles are flying, they cannot be called back or disarmed. Mr Trump, from what he has said, does not take this responsibility lightly. Indeed, he has often stated that he believes nuclear weapons to represent the greatest threat to humanity and that he will not be trigger-happy, “like some people might think”. But in common with his predecessors, he does not rule out their use. With little more than ten minutes to take a decision that could kill hundreds of millions of people, even the calmest individual would be under intolerable stress if informed that America was under imminent attack. It is not Mr Trump’s fault that the system, in which the vulnerable land-based missile force is kept on hair-trigger alert, is widely held to be inherently dangerous. Yet no former president, including Barack Obama, has 4 done anything to change it.
Of greater concern would be how Mr Trump might behave in an escalating confrontation if Russia were to rattle its nuclear sabre even more loudly. It is possible that his apparent desire to be buddies with Vladimir Putin might help defuse a dangerous situation. He is, however, notoriously thin-skinned and unable to stop himself responding to any perceived slight with vicious (verbal) attacks of his own. He also revels in braggadocio and is known to be reluctant to take advice. Marco Rubio, a rival for the Republican nomination, questioned whether he had the temperament to be put in charge of the nuclear codes. So did Hillary Clinton. They were right to do so. But it is now Mr Trump, not them, who takes the biscuit. But what would it take for President Trump — or any other leader of the United States — to actually use one of these missiles? What procedures have to be followed? What are the protocols?
The good news is that there isn’t a button in the Oval Office that a president can press to launch a nuclear strike. It’s a multi-step process involving top military officials from around the world (if nuclear submarines are involved) following a list of predetermined actions. The bad news is that most of these steps don’t mean anything; if Trump wants to nuke someone, Trump can nuke someone. Trump’s wildly varying opinions on nuclear weapons are well-documented, so it’s only natural to think about what he might do once he’s decided to use the ultimate weapon He has to consult with his top advisers at the Pentagon and before giving the order. This doesn’t have to be long — the system is designed to be ready in case another country launches a nuke at the United States, which means it doesn’t allow a lot of time for dawdling — but it’s meant to 5 ensure the president is of sound mind.
Once the formalities are concluded, the President can decide whether or not to give the launch order. This can be done in one of two ways: Either from a secure station, of which there are several across the United States, or from a briefcase called “the Football” that contains everything needed to authorize a nuclear strike. This includes a secure communications tool, a book with the launch codes, and information about where the nuclear arsenal is located. Using the Football or one of the secure stations, the order is passed down from the President to the Pentagon’s war room. The senior officer in the war room reads a so-called challenge code to verify that the order is actually coming from the President; the laminated card “the biscuit” is then given to him. The biscuit has information about the challenge codes and their matching responses. If the President gives the correct response, the order passes down the chain of command. The war room then prepares a launch order with information about the target, the time to launch, and the codes needed to unlock the nuclear missiles before they are fired. This launch order goes out to submarine and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) crews who use them to prepare to launch the missiles. Submarine and ICBM crews follow slightly different procedures from here. On a submarine, a captain, executive officer, and two other crew members verify the order. The order gives them the combination to a safe with a “firecontrol” key that allows them to deploy the missiles. About 15 minutes later, the missiles are ready to launch. ICBM crews, on the other hand, are distributed throughout the country. Five crews of two people each receive the launch order, open safes containing SAS codes, and make sure everything lines up. The missiles are then retargeted based on the war plan, and the five crews simultaneously turn their keys to let the missiles know it’s time to launch. Only two crews have to authorize the launch, however. Assuming the President has given an order, the Pentagon has passed it down the chain of command, and the crews tasked with launching the missiles haven’t mutinied, the nuclear launch then begins. That’s how it works. The World can only hope it never happens. ________________________________________________
6 enemy, Trump said that should be the “absolute last step.” “Power of weaponry today is beyond anything ever thought of, or even, you know, it’s unthinkable, the power,” he said. “It’s a very scary nuclear world,” he added. “Biggest problem, to me, in the world, is nuclear, and proliferation.” Trump reiterated the fact that he would be the “last to use nuclear weapons” during an April interview with NBC’s Today show. But he said the option is still on the table. “I don’t want to rule out anything,” he said. “I will be the last to use nuclear weapons. It’s a horror to use nuclear weapons.” “I will not be a happy trigger like some people might be,” he added. “But I will never, ever rule it out.” In the same New York Times interview in March, Trump indicated that Japan and South Korea might need to obtain their own nuclear arsenal to protect themselves from North Korea and China if the U.S. is unable to defend them. “It’s a position that we have to talk about,” he said. “If the United States keeps on its path, its current path of weakness, they’re going to want to have that anyway with or without me discussing it, because I don’t think they feel very secure in what’s going on with our country.” Trump also said Japan and Korea might need to pay more for their own defense. “You know, when we did these deals, we were a rich country. We’re not a rich country. We were a rich country with a very strong military and tremendous capability in so many ways. We’re not anymore,” he told the newspaper. “We have a military that’s severely depleted. We have nuclear arsenals which are in very terrible shape. They don’t even know if they work.” Trump discussed his stance further with CNN in late March, saying the U.S. might need to change its decadesold policy of preventing Japan from getting a nuclear weapon. “Can I be honest with you? Maybe it’s going to have to be time to change, because so many people, you have Pakistan has it, you have China has it. You have so many other countries are now having it,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Trump later appeared to contradict himself, saying he doesn’t “want more nuclear weapons. ”Trump “wouldn’t be nuking anybody” because he wouldn’t need to, given America’s defense force, he said in an interview with GQ magazine last November. “I will have a military that’s so strong and powerful, and so respected, we’re not gonna have to nuke anybody,” he said, adding that he would be “amazingly calm under pressure.” Still, Trump told the magazine he wouldn’t get rid of the nuclear weapons because “other people have them” and are “unfortunately gaining more and more.” “It is highly, highly, highly, highly unlikely that I would ever be using them,” 6 he added.
Would Trump ever Press the button? Judge for yourself
Here’s what Trump has said during the five times he has talked about nuclear weapons during the campaign so far: Trump said nuclear capability was the “single biggest problem” facing the world in a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times in March. Asked whether the U.S. should be the first to launch a nuke during a confrontation with an
A war today or tomorrow, if it led to nuclear war, would not be like any war in history. A full-scale nuclear exchange, lasting less than 60 minutes, with the weapons now in existence, could wipe out more than 300 million Americans, Europeans and Russians, as well as untold millions elsewhere. And the survivors, as Chairman Khrushchev warned the Communist Chinese, "the survivors would envy the dead," For they would inherit a world so devastated by explosion and poison and fire that today we cannot even conceive of its horrors. So let us try to turn the world away from war. Let us make the most of this opportunity, and every opportunity, to reduce tension, to slow down the perilous nuclear arms race, and to check the world's slide toward final annihilation. Second, this treaty can be a step towards freeing the world from the fears and dangers of radioactive fallout. Our own atmospheric tests last year were conducted under conditions which restricted such
fallout to an absolute minimum. But over the years the number and the yield of weapons tested have rapidly increased and so have the radioactive hazards from such testing. Continued unrestricted testing by the nuclear powers, joined in time by other nations which may be less adept in limiting pollution, will increasingly contaminate the air that all of us must breathe Even then, the number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukaemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs might seem statistically small to some, in comparison with natural health hazards. But this is not a natural health hazard-and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of even one human life, or the malformation of even one baby-who may be born long after all of us have goneshould be of concern to us all. Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics towards which we can be indifferent 7
Joe Pasquini was a navigator aboard one of the Canberra bombers that flew through the H-bomb mushroom clouds over Christmas Island in 1958. In this exclusive extract from his compelling new book detailing the events, he reveals for the first time a Top Secret report exposing a military cover-up over how aircrews received far higher doses of radiation than has ever been admitted. A cover-up that continues to this day. This extract is just one of the many pieces of ‘dirty
AWRE nuclear chemist, and was involved in the UK
work’ and cover ups that occurred on Christmas Is-
underground tests held in the USA. He and Dr Anne
land during the nuclear tests. It was the concealment
Braidwood, another MoD witness, testified at the
of a major catastrophe that happened in September,
final Pension Appeals Court held by the late Judge
1958, after the firing of Grapple Zulu Flagpole. The
Stubbs. The Judge considered them to be credible
second largest Hydrogen Bomb detonated by the UK.
expert witnesses, and considered them to be com-
These events were swept under the carpet, and re-
pletely impartial. The Judge showed very poor judg-
mained hidden and out of sight for over 5 decades. It
ment. Part of Mr. Johnson's testimony was an incom-
was accidentally revealed by one of the MoD ‘hit
prehensible explanation on the calculations, made to
men’, a paid consultant, Ken Johnston. Inquiries
determine that the Grapple Yankee detonation in
through FOI requests, and other research, revealed
April, 1958, yielded an equivalent tonnage of 3.2
the underhand methods employed by the Task Force
Megatons of dynamite. His testimony, his version of
Command in suppressing and hiding information.
the ‘Fireball Phenomenology’, was a joke. He was
After requesting a copy of the Court of Inquiry con-
not even on the island when these events occurred,
cerning the incident, the documents that were deliv-
and he did not see or witness the detonation, his
ered, were totally illegible. It took several months to
information was third or fourth hand. His nonsensi-
obtain legible documentation. This was one of the
cal explanation omitted any reference to the billions
many delaying tactics employed by MoD, in an
of BTU’s generated by the molten liquid plasma of
attempt to discourage further inquires. Mr. Johnston
the detonation. He seemed to be completely una-
was considered to be the ‘Ace in the Hole’ for the
ware of it, and the consequential Metrological impli-
MoD, in his testimony against the British Nuclear
cations. He was a Chemist, not a Meteorologist. A
Veterans. He started as a junior AWRE radio chemist
more accurate and fitting paper on this subject was
at Aldermaston, and later served on Christmas Island
written by Harold Brady, of the Rand Institute in Oc9
during Operation Dominic, 1962. He became a senior
This factor is critical in understanding what happened at Christmas Island in April, 1958. The only thing that was 3.2 on the day Yankee was detonated was the diameter of the cloud. It was exactly 3.2 nautical miles. I know, because I measured it. Mr. Johnson did not serve on Christmas Island 1958. He was not on Christmas Island until 1962. The ‘Hard Scrabble’ island in 1958, would not be recognized in 1962. When the USA moved onto the island, they converted it into a plush Billy Butlin’s Holiday Camp, with all the mods and cons. Fresh fruit and vegetables were flown in daily from Hawaii. Weekend passes to Honolulu. USO Shows flown in monthly to entertain the troops. No more ‘fish and chips’ at the NAAFI. You would not have earned a ‘hard livng allowance’ during Operation Dominic. Not that that is what was paid to the troops during Operation Grapple. For his sins Judge Stubbs appears to have been struck down by the hand of God. Shorty before the Appeal hearing, he developed a very fast growing cancer. He died shortly after delivering his verdict. Taking the corrupt evidence produced by the Treasury Solicitors office, he ruled negatively against the nuclear veterans. On examination, it was found that he had erred. He applied the Criminal rules instead of the Civilian rules, to define the case. The nuclear veterans were certainly not criminals. They were the victims. Ken
Johnson died a year later. D Day, for Operation Flagpole, 2ndSeptember, 1958. Four Sampling Canberra’s took off. Their call signs were Sniff Boss, Sniff One, Sniff Two and Sniff Three. I was flying in Sniff One, the primary sampling aircraft to fly through the Nuclear Cloud to collect radioactive debris and gas samples. Sniff Boss made two peripheral cuts into the stem. The first at H+19 minutes, at 42,000 feet. The second at H+24 at an altitude of 44,000 feet. Sniff One was ordered into the cloud and entered at H+33, at 47,000 feet. Sniff Two was then ordered into the cloud at maximum height of 51,000 feet, and entered at H+43. The aircraft was ordered back to base with a final “Charlie” of 8.5 Roentgen. The maximum permissible “Charlie” dose was 10 Roentgen. “Charlie” being the Cumulative Radiation dose in Roentgen. Sniff One was reordered to fly a second cut at 50,000 feet, and finishing the run with a high integrated dose of 10.9 Roentgen, he was ordered to return to base. Sniff Three, flown by Flt. Lt. George Dack, D.F.C., was ordered to fly through the nuclear cloud not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, not five times, but SIX TIMES. After his final pass at the cloud, his “Charlie” meter only indicated a reading of 8.5 Roentgen. The problem was that their “Charlie” meter was unserviceable, and did not give a correct ra10 diation reading
Someone was asleep at the switch. The other two radiation measuring instruments, were indicating the higher doses of radiation the crew were receiving. Flt. Lt. Bosher, the Navigator was broadcasting the “Romeo”, “Charlie” and “Salmon” radiation readings every 15 seconds. The “Romeo” and “Salmon” readings were also measuring incoming radiation, but in different ways to the “Charlie” meter. With all the people listening into the broadcasts, not a single person realized that something was amiss. The radiation instruments fitted into the aircraft were very unique, and there were very few of them. Once all the wires and switches had been attached, there was no way to test if they would work properly. The only way this could be done was by thrusting them into a high field of ionizing radiation. Flying them through a radioactive cloud. The official report on the incident states: “It was later, however, discovered that the integrated dosimeter (Charlie meter) in the aircraft was under reading and that the crew had been exposed to a much higher dose than had been thought. They were still within the upper reserve limits”. The radiation was not “within the upper reserve limits”. George Dack and his crew were NOT informed of the inaccuracy of their equipment. Nor were they informed
of the radiation overdose the had received. They were, covertly flown off Christmas Island within 48 hours of the incident. A Court of Inquiry was convened to investigate the incident, by then the three crew members concerned, were thousands of miles away in Australia. There was an extremely slick procedure in place on Christmas Island, which removed people, miscreants and other undesirable people off the island with the minimum amount of fuss and the minimum amount of time. The heavily redacted Court of Inquiry report tells the story. Grapple Zulu Flagpole was detonated 2nd. September, 1958. The memo instigating the Court of Inquiry was written on 3rd. September. The aircrew of Sniff 3 were flown off the island by a Hastings transport aircraft, early in the morning of 4th. September. The final report of the Court of Inquiry was written 6th September, four days after the incredible incident of radical radiation overdose. Neither the afflicted crew, or the rest of the Squadron personnel were ever informed. Flying on the same Operation in Sniff One. I knew nothing about this incident until more than 5 decades later. Nobody else on the Squadron was aware of what had happened, except for the individuals who perpetrated the conspiracy. More than 50 years after the incident, the information about the concealment, 11 has been discovered and exposed.
This is the narrative of person who conducted the Court of Inquiry (Names heavily redacted): “I have not talked with the crew of the aircraft, believing that they could shed no further light, and thinking that anything suggestive of a Formal Inquiry would cause them needless anxiety” This is an actual extract from, the Court of Inquiry Report regarding the radiation overdose. The crew were never informed of the true radiation dose they had received. A classic case of how to ‘grow mushrooms’: Put them in a warm place, keep them in the dark and cover them with horse manure. The recalculated radiation readings that were in the Court Report, had been massaged downwards! Film Badges were useless. An extrapolation of the radiation readings, broadcast by Flt Lt. Bosher, the Navigator, reveals that each of the crew received very close to 100 Roentgen each, instead of the 20 Roentgen stated in the report. This can be interpolated by measuring time in cloud by “Romeo” readings, and time in cloud by “Salmon”. “Salmon” readings of 50+ indicated a “Romeo” reading of over 200 Roentgen per hour. Obviously the “Romeo” and “Salmon” meters were
not talking to each other, and the “Charlie” meter was broken. So George Dack and his crew were shipped off on the first flight out of Christmas Island on Day 2 after detonation. Back to Adelaide, “to the bosom of their families”. Then within two weeks back to the UK, to be broken up and dispersed to different units. Never to be heard of again. An extract from the 76 Squadron Monthly Report reads:
” A fortuitous Hastings flight…enabled two more very highly satisfied crews to be returned early to the bosoms of their families in Adelaide”. Purely by chance, AWRE chose to videotape Flt. Lt. Dack, and his crew as they checked out their aircraft, prior to take off on their doomed mission. They climbed into their aircraft. Started the engines (pic above). Taxied and took off. This can be found in the Imperial War Museum DVD of Grapple Zulu. Right at the beginning of Film 3. “At the going down of the Sun, and in the morning, we will remember them”. 12
In Jan 1954, two Canberras WH738 and WH 881 were sent on a special mission codenamed Operation Dogstar. The task was particle sampling of the radioactive clouds produced by the US H-bomb tests over Bikini Atoll. Canberra WH 738 disappeared after departing Momote airstrip Manus Island for the 1400nm across ocean trip to the US base at Kwajalein 200 miles south of Bikini Atoll. Although extensive searches were conducted by US aircraft and RAAF Lincolns from Townsville, there was no trace of the Canberra. A number of tropical storms were forecast along the route but these were not thought to pose a serious danger as they were widespread enough for the aircraft to fly around them (providing the aircraft was not in cloud and could see the storms visually). The primary navigation aid on the Canberra was the radio compass. Official reports indicate that about the half way point in the vicinity of the Caroline Islands (Ponape) the pilot of WH 738 reported radio compass failure and that he intended to formate on WH 881. While flying in this formation, WH738 drew up alongside WH 881 and the pilot gave the cutthroat sign indicating a loss of radio or electronics before turning away and descending. WH 738 and its crew of Flt Lt Garside (pilot) and Flying officer Naldreth, the navigator, and Flt Sgt Dormer, passenger, were never seen again, presumed lost after ditching in the pacific. The crew of Canberra WH 881 also experienced problems but managed to complete their journey. According to Flying Officer Peters who occupied the occasional seat in WH 881: â€œThe temperatures that day was critical and our aircraft
suffered from engine surges...we had our hands full on that sortie; what with engine problems, navigation equipment failures, aircraft electrical faults and massive thunderstorms well over 50,000 feet high...we couldn't locate Kwajalein or any other beacon on the radio compass until very close to our destination.â€? The crew of WH 881 thought the most likely explanation for the loss of WH738 was that it suffered a double engine flame-out at altitude, had been forced down into one of the violent thunderstorms that had straddled the Canberra's track and then broken up in turbulent conditions. A few days later on 11 March 1954, a replacement Canberra departed Momote for Kwajalein. It ran into an inter-tropical weather front with rain, cloud and attendant severe turbulence. An attempt was made to climb over the front but the aircraft was still in cloud at 50,000 ft. The radio compass failed depriving the crew of navigation . The pilot was concerned that a loss of AC power to his flight instruments would be catastrophic in the existing turbulent flying conditions and was also concerned about overshooting Kwajalein: he thus decided to descend ahead of ETA into visual contact with the sea. the aircraft finally broke through the cloud base at about 500 feet above the sea where the crew found themselves in heavy rain and poor visibility. They were running out of fuel and elected to land wheels down on a beach of an atoll they spotted. Islanders saw them land successfully and several days later the crew were rescued by a boat from Kwajalein. 13
At the heart of “the most dangerous place on earth”, a scientist is zapped by a radioactive bolt of lightning. This incredible picture was taken after the nuclear fires of Chernobyl were finally controlled when researchers discovered an intensely radioactive mass looking like a giant, smouldering foot, two meters wide and weighing hundreds of tons in the basement of the shattered reactor. They called it “the elephant’s foot” for its wrinkled appearance. The concrete beneath the reactor was steaming hot, and was breached by solidified lava and spectacular unknown crystalline forms termed “chernobylites.” It was then concluded that there was no further risk of explosion. When this photo was taken, 10 years after the disaster, the Elephant’s Foot was only emitting one-tenth of the radiation it once had. Still, merely 500 seconds of exposure would prove fatal. In May of 1986, construction began on the sarcophagus—a gigantic concrete enclosure built to seal off the radiation from the outside world. But it’s not entirely sealed: The Chernobyl sarcophagus was outfitted with access points allowing researchers to observe the core and workers to enter. The contents of the Chernobyl tomb will remain radioactive for at least the next 100,000 years. All of the fire fighters and people who worked in building the sarcophagus died around a year or so after the event.
‘Cos they’re not good for you, and you’re an idiot.
Why didn’t I get a boiled egg like him?
Many nuclear veterans complain they are kept in the dark about BNTVA (NCCF) finances. Although fissionline has absolutely no connection with this organisation, we17 publish here the recent contractual arrangement between the BNTVA and the MoD Armed Forces Covenant Team obtained through freedom laws.
Back on the ‘Rock’ L-R: Ron Taylor, Jac Aslett, Bob Aslett, Anne Taylor, Lionel Garratt. 18
innumerable broken-down vehicles and construction plant of every description were left there to rust and rot, contaminating nature’s undergrowth. OK, in 1979 your British government granted independence to the islanders and their fellow Gilbert & Ellice neighbours on the Line Islands scattered
you think the Christmas Island you
throughout the mid-Pacific. But what
knew is a paradise of the Pacific - forget
good did that do for the native inhabit-
ants of Christmas Island (renamed then
Yes, memories are special but do they
to Kiritimati) when the capital, the seat of
gloss over the reality? Palm-fringed la-
‘government’ of their new Republic of
goons, stretches of white, powdered cor-
Kiribati is situated in Tarawa - 2000 miles
al beaches there may be, but they aren’t
to the west!
of British or American making.
Lines of communication - and thus the
More than 50 years ago your island (for
help that the islanders can or should ex-
you still feel it’s yours, don’t you?) may
pect from their leaders - are extended to
have been the picture-book idyll filled
say the least. The logistics of material
with grass-skirted, nubile maidens so
support are unbelievably difficult with
favoured by filmmakers, but what now?
only one aircraft a week flying into the
Is it still the wonder deep in our memo-
strip, and it taking nine days for the capi-
ries or, were you to travel back those
tal’s ship to reach them.
11,000 miles again, would you find
Finally, after years of prevarication (and
changes which might colour your think-
we veterans are only too well aware of
that scenario), the British government bit
Those lucky enough to have returned
the bullet and agreed to bear the cost of
may not all agree, but change there has
the removal of the multi-tons of rusting
been - and not all for the good.
scrap metal. Safety & Ecology Corpora-
The inescapable truth is that in the late
tion, a specialist American organisation
Fifties/early Sixties we British and follow-
with its UK counterpart based on Tyne-
on Americans used that island and its
side, was appointed to organise and
naive inhabitants. Yes, those islanders
oversee the salvage operation and at last
and their peaceful idyll in the sun were
an end is in sight to the unsightly mess
‘used’ and we, none of us, gave anything
we and the Americans left behind.
back in return.
But, you wouldn’t believe it, the Brits will
Both occupying forces left unimaginable
only pay for the removal of tonnage
dross for others to clear up. For years,
clearly identifiable as being left by Britain 19 and not America! Not easy.
tons and tons of discarded machinery,
© fissionline Left to rot: Some of the tons of equipment left behind by the Brits on Christmas Island after the tests The clean-up team of 60-plus men drafted in from the Line and Hawaiian islands and the Philippines, supervised by Pennsylvanian Mark Shaffer as team leader, were tasked to uplift the mountains of scrap from the jungle clearings and transport to Port London where heavy lifting gear craned it onto barges and from them to ships standing offshore. From hence, believe it or not, to a scrap metal entrepreneur in Indonesia! Only partly hidden among rotting leaves of fallen palms are, still uncleared, hordes of empty aluminium beer, lager and coke cans piled into mounds awaiting a removing saviour. One company with a keen eye for a buck recognised their salvage value, we’re told, but baulked at the extent of the percentage cut demanded by the Republic’s governors. Thus the cans remain a glinting eyesore. “The Republic of Kiribati doesn’t encourage business to flourish," said 64 year-old permanent resident John Brydon, lessee of the one workshop and garage on Kiritimati. "It’s almost all Government-owned," he continued. "They frown upon private enterprise. If only they’d let the people do things for themselves. No wonder the islanders here fail to improve their lot, with only fishing and a bit of copra collecting their only sources of income."
John, who came to the then Gilbert & Ellice Islands as a 23 year-old in 1966, should know, for only his spirit of adventure and dogged perseverance has allowed his repair garage and tiny shop business to succeed. He clearly sees the island failing to prosper through lack of government money and initiative. And it’s true. The island is decaying. Not only are the falling palm leaves rotting as we all remember them, but wooden buildings - even the once pristine bungalows of the Captain Cook hotel itself - are rotting for lack of maintenance and paint. Far fewer frigate birds, only a scantling of the boobies we knew (not the four from the Naafi, you morons!) but now swarms of screeching, cat-like calling sooty terns fill the early evening air. But not all is doom and gloom. You’ve only to experience the warmth of the smiles of greeting from the Micronesian dwellers everywhere or to admire the dedication of the children’s teachers to know that all is not lost. They may live in poverty but are they poor in spirit? Do they have that inner peace that we lack? Or do those smiles hide a sadness, a longing for something better - perhaps just to enjoy just one day in the lifestyle and one hundredth of the money in the pockets of their few visitors?
Let me tell you, you wouldn’t like to live in the parties to Christmas and had regularly reported sometimes corrugated-iron covered, often how bereft of educational equipment were the open-walled shacks that more often than not is few island schools. their lot (goodness knows what the latrines are With initial start-up sponsorship from the charilike!). You wouldn’t like to send your grandkids table arm of national travel agents Trailfinders to the ramshackle school in Poland (the tiny (thank you to company chairman and former village on SAS officer the other Major side of the Gooley), plus main openBob’s unmouthed stinting lagoon to efforts during Port Lonmonths of don) cajoling supwhere the port in kind one and from friends, only teachDevon librarer, uncomies etc., 18 plaining large boxes Marra, has of dearlycharge of needed not 15, not writing 20, not 30 equipment, but 60 blank paper, boisterous children’s youngsters books and of all ages. what have Never, you were airnever lifted free of again do I charge by Air Ron Taylor (centre) and pals Christmas Island 1958 want to New Zealand hear British from London schoolteachers bemoaning poor facilities, too Heathrow to Honolulu (again, well done that many working hours, not enough spare time. airline). You in Britain’s spoon-fed, cosseted classrooms Sadly for Bob and Jac and the trio, by the time don’t know what it is to have next to nothing they had to leave Kiritimati the gifts hadn’t arwith which to teach our children. rived via Air Pacific to enable their distribution Which brings me to Bob and Jackie Aslett of personally. However, we’re assured by those Exmouth. more cognisant than we of mid-Pacific deliverSome of you may recall former sapper Bob’s ies (including former islander, now UK resident brief articles in Campaign encouraging us to Terri Pollard no less) that, given time (up to 12 make a return visit to The Rock. Thirty five vetmonths!) they will arrive and will be properly erans initially expressed interest but sadly 30 shared between all deserving. ‘seeds fell on stony ground’ and only Bob, his Lost? - no. Found? - likely. If only we could wife Jac, Lionel Garratt, a widower and computhave shared the glee on the little brown faces er buff from Wakefield and my wife Anne and I as they opened the boxes. eventually ‘ripened’ to a reminiscence of a lifePS: From the Aslett’s own pockets, two laptops time. were hand-luggaged out and personally donatThe visit was not without purpose. Veteran ed to the two principal schools. Lionel, an RAF Tony Bugbird, a stone crusher par excellence in regular for 16 years, providied the software 21 his RE days on the island but now a professionfrom the UK and on-site set-up expertise. al photographer, had earlier led several small
L-R: Spymaster Sir Maurice Oldfield, A-bomb supremo Lord William Penney, Actor Sir Alec Guinness in ‘Smiley’ role.
When one of Britain’s top boffins Dr William Penney arrived in Los Alamos, the top secret base of the Manhattan Project, he wowed the Americans with his knowledge of explosives and their effects. Penney’s devastatingly frank lectures and first-hand accounts of the damage wrought by Hitler’s bombs brought home the brutal reality of war. One of Penney’s more chilling lectures concerned his calculations of what would happen when an atomic bomb exploded over a city. “There would be total devastation,” he warned. “Whole cities would become a sink for bodies, hospitals and bandages.” Penney’s habit of discussing these horrors with a beaming grin on his face (a nervous affliction) caused the Americans to nickname him ‘the smiling killer’. Penney went on to become a member of the Target Committee, an elite group of seven scientists who chose which Japa-
nese cities to bomb. When Penney returned to Britain after the war he was a surprisingly shortlisted to become Britain’ Head of Counterintelligence. According to Cabinet papers Penney was one of three distinguished figures touted to take over from Sir David Petrie as Director General of MI5 in 1946. In the event Penney didn’t get the job, but went on to cover himself in glory by building Britain’s first atomic bomb, exploded off the north west coast of Australia in 1952. Many people have since noted the similarity between Penney and the subsequent head of the Secret Service Sir Maurice Oldfield. And the coincidences don’t stop there: actor Sir Alec Guinness is said to have modelled his role as spy chief George Smiley in John Le Carre’s Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy on Maurice Oldfield…but be could just as easily have had in mind the 22 ‘Smiling Killer’ William Penney.
BY LLAZAR SEMINI
A former top-secret nuclear bunker has reopened as a museum in Albania’s capital to show visitors how Communistera police persecuted the regime’s opponents. The 1,077-square-foot bunker with reinforced concrete walls up to 8-feet thick was built between 1981 and 1986 to shelter elite police and interior ministry staff in the event of a nuclear attack. The museum that opened in Tirana now holds photographs and equipment that illustrate the political persecution of some 100,000 Albanians from 1945 until 1991. Both an island fortress and another underground bunker designed for Albania’s army command are now open to tourists, as is a leaf-covered villa that once housed the former communist country’s secret police, known as Sigurimi. More may come from the scores of military installations erected during the paranoid, isolationist regime of the late dictator Enver Hoxha,
who ruled with an iron fist after the end of World War II until December 1990. Hoxha’s regime, with an imaginary fear of invasion by the “imperialist United States and social-imperialist Soviet Union, built concrete bunkers of all sizes around the country. At one time there were rumored to be as many as 700,000, but the government says 175,000 were built. Prime Minister Edi Rama said the new museum reflects his Cabinet’s “will to pay back a debt to the memory of the former political persecuted, forgotten in the last 25 years.” Located downtown, it was designed to attract visitors from Albania and beyond “to learn about the ways that the former communist police persecuted their opponents,” curator Carlo Bollino said. “This is the first memorial for the victims of the communist terror,” he added. Twenty rooms in the new museum show Albania’s police history from 23 1912 until 1991, as well as the names of 6,027 people executed during the communist regime.
Morning Campers: Pontin’s Sand Bay Holiday Camp circa 1957 THE NEW Nuclear Community Charity Fund, which
members, who normally stay in four-star luxury at
has taken over from the BNTVA Charity, is offering
country house hotels, will be taking their buckets
free B&B to nuclear victims at an old-fashioned holi-
and spades and knotted hankies to join the rank and
day camp in a bid to boost membership. Flushed
file at the event. On line reviews of Sand Bay are
with dosh from a government grant the new group
mixed: One disgruntled holidaymaker wrote: “It was
is organizing an “all nuclear tests reunion” at the
extremely dirty and dated, the food was inedible and
holiday camp’s Weston super Mare site. Cost of the
most of the staff the worst I have come across . It
4-day jaunt is normally £80, but cash-strapped veter-
was an absolute disgrace.“ However one happy
ans can apply for ‘Assistance to Attend’ by filling in a
camper wrote: “The classic chalet we stayed in was
form and sending it to PO Box 8244, Castle Doning-
spotlessly clean, the bedding was crisp and clean and 24 the towels were like new. “ I
ton , DE74 2BY. It is not known if charity board
IT’S A BADGE of honour proudly worn by thousands of Britain’s nuclear veterans. But the BNTVA Charity, which is now called the Nuclear Community Charity Fund, has been told not to use it as its emblem. Mrs Mary Birch, whose husband Tom designed the badge and successfully applied to have it topped by the Royal Crown , said her husband, who died 16 years ago, would not have wanted the present organization to wear it. “This was designed for the nuclear veterans, servicemen who took part in the bomb tests, not this present outfit who seem only to want to use it as a moneymaking tool,” said Mrs Birch. “The BNTVA has completely turned its back on the nuclear veterans . The people running it don’t deserve to wear Tom’s badge.” The distinctive mushroom cloud emblem symbolizes the struggle to bring the government to account for deaths and injuries caused by exposure to radiation at the A-bomb tests in Australia and Christmas Is-
land it1950s. The badge received royal seal of approval when Her Majesty the Queen granted permission for the Royal Crest to adorn the logo. The honour was bestowed after a long battle by Christmas Island veteran Mr Birch and a group of other veterans from the West Midlands. Mr Birch paid the £150 application fee out of his own pocket and personally lobbied the Royal College of Arms, the heraldic authority for England. His persistence was rewarded with a letter from Sir Colin Pole, Principal King of Arms, confirming his application had been successful. The badge was adopted by the British Nuclear Tests Veterans’ Association, but the organization upset members when it became a charity and stopped campaigning. Chairman of West Midlands nuclear veteran s Mike Rubery said: “We broke away from the BNTVA a long time ago because we didn’t agree with what they were doing. This is our badge and the new charity 25 should go and get its own.”
CHINESE SECRET CITY In the early 1990s, nearly 100,000 people lived in a city that couldn’t be found on any map. It had no name, just a code: 404.
BORIS LOBBIES TRUMP U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he’ll seek to
work with the administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to “make a success” of the 2015 deal to stop Iran from being able to develop nuclear weapons. Trump criticized the deal during his election campaign and
404 City is located on the sandy plains of Gansu province in China’s northwest, some 100 kilometers to the west of Jiayuguan City. Its name comes from 404 Co. Ltd., a company under the China National Nuclear Corporation. When the city was built in 1958, it served one purpose only: to host a nuclear bomb.
has chosen opponents of the agreement to fill senior positions in his White House team, leading to uncertainty about its future. In a speech on March 21, he said both
The country’s best nuclear scientists and experts were transferred to 404 – China’s first nuclear military base – along with mechanics, doctors and other supporting staff. Six years later, in 1964, China recorded its first successful nuclear bomb detonation in the Gobi Desert that he would scrap the deal and strictly enforce it.
in neighbouring Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Johnson told the House of Commons. “We in this country,
The city has an area of four square kilometers, with its
in this government, do think there’s merit in the deal. The
own municipal government, police department, televi-
government remains committed to the nuclear deal in Iran
sion station – even its own courthouse and prison. In
and we look forward to working with the new administra-
fact, 404 is bigger than it looks, with a complete under-
tion in the United States to make it a success. We should
ground defence system in case of nuclear war.
be positive about our engagement and keep it on the
Due to large-scale cave-ins, most people living in 404
were relocated to Jiayuguan in 2006. Now, only some
Britain has reopened its embassy in Tehran and is develop-
1,000 residents remain. Countless identical housing
ing its relations, Johnson said, adding that Vodafone Group
blocks stand empty, their doors sealed shut with walls
Plc and Lotus Cars Ltd. have reached trade agreements in
of brick. The city park, once a nucleus of after-work en-
Iran since the accord, which set limits on nuclear develop-
tertainment, is deserted.
ment in return for relief from economic sanctions.
Pakistan has a nuclear weapons stockpile of 130–140
A 42-year-old man diagnosed with leukemia after work-
warheads and appears to have plans to increase its
ing at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant plans
arsenal further. With several delivery systems in de-
to sue Tokyo Electric Power Co., saying the utility failed
velopment, four plutonium production reactors, and
to take adequate precautions against radiation expo-
expansion of uranium enrichment facilities, the coun-
try’s stockpile will likely increase over the next
He will also sue Kyushu Electric Power Co., operator of the Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture where he had also worked, in the lawsuit expected to be filed at the Tokyo District Court on Nov. 22. The man, who is from Kita-Kyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture, will demand about 59 million yen ($541,000) in total compensation
from the two utilities.
DAVE’S CRUSADE Christmas Island veteran Dave Whyte has been a thorn in the
side of the Ministry of Defence for years. His one man campaign 10 years, but by how much will depend on many things. Two key factors will be how many nuclearcapable launchers Islamabad plans to deploy, and
how much the Indian nuclear arsenal grows. Based on Pakistan’s performance over the past 20 years and its current and anticipated weapons deployments, the authors estimate that its stockpile could potentially grow to 220–250 warheads by 2025, making it the world’s fifth-largest nuclear weapon state. Paki-
stan’s deployment of short-range, so-called tactical nuclear weapons is causing considerable concern in South Asia and in the US Government about warhead security and lowering of the threshold for nuclear weapons use.
for justice for veterans like himself who have suffered serious health problems since witnessing the bomb tests has helped enormously in keeping the veterans’ plight in the public eye. Dave of Fife, Scotland, has frequently wrong-footed the MoD with Freedom of Information requests about his participation in the bomb tests, raising serious new concerns over safety measures and the conduct of the bomb tests. The MoD has been so rattled by Dave’s onslaught it has decided to ban him from making further requests on the grounds they are “vexatious.” Dave is not a man to be silenced, however. He has already got his local MP on the case, and declares: “If the MoD thinks it 27 can silence me, it has another thing coming.”
his summer families of atom bomb test veterans who have died of cancer took the UK government to the High Court for its failure to compensate them. Also on trial was the 'official' radiation risk model, which understates the true health hazards of internal exposures by a factor of 1,000. But 17 weeks after the case, litigants and veterans are still awaiting judgment. On trial was the whole global system of legislation on radiation risk, and the scientific basis of all radiation laws: the Risk Model of the ICRP which defines the public health safety cases for nuclear energy, radioactive waste, and nuclear weapons. It usually takes no more than a few weeks for the High Court to deliver its judgments, six weeks at the most and that's only in long and complex cases. Most often litigants get their judgment within a week or so. But very much not in the case of Nuclear Bomb Test Veterans versus Secretary of State for Defence. We were in Court 25 of the Royal Courts of Justice in London for three weeks from 13th June. I was presenting the veterans' case. Seventeen weeks have now passed since the case finished, yet the Judge, the distinguished QC Sir Nicho
las Blake, has still not delivered his Decision. I can only wonder: why not? Sir Nicholas never quite went out of his way to be kind to me, but his handling of the case was fair and I very much hope that the same fate has not befallen him, as befell a previous judge presiding over our case at an earlier stage of its slow progress through the court system. That judge was Hugh Stubbs. He unexpectedly died of pancreatic cancer on 31st January 2014, while we were in the Appeal Court asking for his previous decision in February 2013 to be overturned; in the event, successfully. His was not a long, drawn out death, incidentally. He was alive, apparently well, on the ball and very much in charge of his case when I last heard from him in May 2013. His illness and death was bad luck for him, and for us. But to have such bad luck twice in succession? Banish the thought. I have already witnessed more than enough deaths during the time I have been working on the case: mainly those of test veterans who have a way of dying well before their natural lifespan. 28
A twelve year legal battle The case now awaiting judgment represents the culmination of a process that began for me in 2004. That was when, as an expert witness, I helped widow Eva Adshead successfully appeal a refusal by the Ministry of Defence to award a war pension for her late husband Gerald's fatal cancer. Gerald was stationed at Maralinga in Australia in 1957 for the Antler bomb test. In Maralinga also was Don Battersby, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2015, but who had claimed for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). He too had been refused a pension because the Secretary of State for Defence, advised by his experts, insisted that CLL could not be caused by radiation. Between 2004 and 2010 I helped more than five other veterans overturn pension refusal decisions at tribunals chaired by Judge Hugh Stubbs. By 2010 these successes had resulted in me being asked by another five veterans to help. The military did their best to keep me out, to destroy my credibility, and prevent me appearing as an expert witness in the hearings, on the grounds that I was not an expert. But Judge Hugh Stubbs had refused their request. A combined case, with 16 appellants, including my five outstanding veterans was finally scheduled to be heard before him in London in February 2013, with me appearing in my usual expert witness role. But solicitors Hogan Lovells - who had just taken over the case from Rosenblatts for reasons that remain mysterious - suddenly and curiously dismissed all my reports and evidence just two weeks before this hearing. They relied instead on conventional nuclear scientist Professor Paddy Regan and dishonest witnesses from the MoD side. As a result, all the appeals were lost. Back to the High Court for the definitive ruling
Don was one of these cases. Don appealed this decision on the basis that I had been excluded. Joining him was Anna Smith, widow of late Barry Smith, who was stationed at Christmas Island in 1958/59 after the bomb tests. Both died from pancreatic cancer, Don during the course of the appeal. The appeal process was permitted by Judge Stubbs, and in 2013/14 the upper Appeal Court judge Sir William Charles directed that the whole case be heard again. Ironically, in the same period, Judge Stubbs also died from the rare pancreatic cancer (which had been the cause of death of 4 of the veteran appellants). Following new representations from the MoD about my expertise and status, Sir William directed that I could not appear as an expert in the new hearing because although an expert, he was persuaded I was biased. That was because I wrote articles (like this one), and appeared on TV and in videos arguing about the health effects of radiation. I had even chained myself to nuclear power station gates, twice, at Trawsfynydd and at Dungeness, and indulged in similar attempts to draw attention to the facts. So instead I took the job of Representative in the new hearings, essentially taking on the role normally played by barristers. This was an extremely stressful and challenging experience but also great fun. Though not a lawyer I had seen the inside of quite a few courts as an expert, in UK and America, even in Korea and so it was not too difficult to become Perry Mason. I bought three white shirts from Marks and Spencer and a nice black suit from Stockmann in Riga. 29 I wore a sober London University tie and no beret: unrecognisable.
On trial: the whole ICRP radiation risk model Many have followed this story. But this is a very important case for the UK, indeed for the world. For the first time, the truth about the real health effects of internal exposures to radioactive contamination has been presented at the highest level, before a High Court judge in a major nuclear-dependent country. It was not just a trial of the military and the test veterans. It was a trial of the whole global system of legislation in the area of radiation risk. A trial of the scientific basis of all radiation laws, the Risk Model of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) which defines the public health safety cases for projects like nuclear energy at Hinkley Point, the disposal of radioactive waste, the use and development of nuclear weapons and Depleted Uranium. If - as the courtroom evidence shows - the ICRP model is unsafe, all bets are off: policy changes become inevitable in these areas as release criteria will have to change. If the case is won, the biggest public health scandal in human history will be out in the open and the Uranium economy will end. To conduct this case, we had to ask for financial support through mailouts to our supporters: none of the charitable foundations like Rowntree, Polden Puckham, Goldsmith et al. would help following illinformed and scurrilous attacks on me by George Monbiot in the Guardian in 2011. But we obtained enough funds to run the case, and to fly our expert witnesses in and put them up in London. So those who helped us, at least, should know what happened. A ten-fold excess of major congenital diseases among
test veterans' children Most of the early case involved tediously writing Statements of Case and obtaining expert reports: since I was not allowed to be an expert, I had to get these from colleagues and friends in the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) that I helped set up in Brussels in 1998. There were also various Directions and case management hearings in London that I had to fly back from Riga (where I mostly live) to attend. The most important ones were those at the beginning where I managed to persuade the judge to do a number of things which were critical for the success of the new hearing. The most important was that we could bring in new evidence and new experts opposed both by the MoD and (interestingly) by Hogan Lovells, who were still representing the majority of the appellants. Second, we asked the judge to order the MoD to disclose all the information it had about contamination at the Test sites. He did: but in the event, the MoD swore they had nothing. They said that either no measurements had been made, or no measurements still existed, or finally when we found data from other sources, that these were still 'top secret', and if we referred to them, we would be sent to jail under the Official Secrets Act. Finally Blake made a Direction that the University of Dundee release the questionnaires from the 1999 British Nuclear Test Veteran Association survey to me for analysis, so that we could see what the genetic effects in the children were. We found that there was a ten-fold excess of major congenital diseases, and this became indirect evidence that the veterans had been genetically harmed by the radioactivity at the test sites. 30
Distinguished scientists set out the key evidence ilar fallout and rainout of Uranium particles from the I contacted colleagues to create expert reports making atomisation of the eight tons of Uranium over Christbroadly the same case I would have presented in the mas island, and various lesser quantities in Maralinga. 2013 hearing. These were Prof. Inge SchmitzThis was not measurable with Geiger counters or film Feuerhake, University of Bremen, Prof Shoji Sawada, badges because Uranium is an alpha emitter. Evidence University of Nagoya, Prof. Vyvan Howard, University of other unmeasured exposures from Carbon-14 and of Ulster, Prof Malcolm Hooper, University of SunderTritium, (radioactive water). The ten-fold excess conland and Lt. Commander Dr John Ash (Scott Polar Ingenital malformation rates in the test veteran chilstitute, dren, eight-fold Cambridge). in the grandRichard children as Bramhall shown by three gave eviindependent dence about peer reviewed the coverstudies. This ups in the affected Don CERRIE Battersby.The committee. three-fold exEvidence cess risk of from these chromosome experts aberrations and made the translocations case for the in the New Zeaveterans land test veterwhich was an studies, broadly the which indicated same as it a very high level had been in of exposure. the previous The evidence for Prof Shoji Sawada, University of Nagoya cases, augchromosome mented by some new findings. It included: Unequivodamage in Uranium miners, Gulf war veterans (DU), cal evidence that the current ICRP risk model is wildly French and UK Uranium workers pointed to this eleinaccurate for internal exposures and is based on the ment as the cause. The enormous improbability that bogus dishonest epidemiology of the Hiroshima studfour in seven appellants with cancer died from panies. Forensic evidence was presented in court that creatic cancer which has an incidence of 2% of all canshowed the scientists that carried out that study cers in the population (the dice throwing or binomial threw out the original control group who were not in probability is about 1 in 200,000). They thus shared a the city when it began to appear in 1973 that there common cause for their pancreatic cancer and their were high levels of cancer in the exposed groups relaonly common experience was the nuclear test sites. tive to that unexposed original control. That individuFor Christmas Island, new evidence was presented als located too far from the Hiroshima bomb to rethat showed that although the lower winds blew offceive any prompt radiation dose whatever still shore to the west when the bombs were exploded at showed the immediate radiation effects like loss of altitude, the upper winds were in the opposite direchair due to exposure to the Uranium-containing black tion and blew the residual Uranium and fission prod31 rain that followed the detonation. That there was simucts back over the island.
So what happened at the hearing? First of all, Group Captain Andrew Ades with whom I was sharing the case had a heart attack a few days before it began and was taken to hospital. I asked my daughter Cecilia to take his place, which she did, brilliantly. I also was helped by Hugo Charlton the criminal barrister and ex-Chair of the Green Party, solicitor Robbie Manson (at a distance) and Dai Williams who has heroically helped throughout the case acting as clerk and our man in London. Two young women helped out in the hearing, passing the evidence when needed: Hatty Bland, and Lucia Pilekova. The case began with an ambush: the judge ruled out any evidence in the scientific peer-reviewed literature which had my name as author or co-author. This lost a key new genetic paper which I published with Inge SchmitzFeuerhake, even though this had been put in as evidence several months earlier and no-one had complained. But suddenly: MR JUSTICE BLAKE: "So that means [Dr Busby's] views, no doubt honestly, passionately held, are not going to enter the difficult arena of this case, either orally by giving witness evidence viva voce, or in writing or otherwise." Hugo Charlton tried to argue this point: " ... to go on and say everything that Dr Busby has ever written on the subject, even though it wasn't with a view to proceedings, it was with a view to participating in the scientific debate, to say that all that has to go I respectfully say, my Lord, is positively Orwellian ... and in effect we are going into court with our hands tied behind our back. MR JUSTICE BLAKE: "Well, I think you are." However, I persuaded the judge that even if the key genetic paper was ruled out, we could rely on the oth-
er papers it was based on: we tore out at lunch, made seven copies of ten papers cited by us in the excluded article, and submitted these. The collapsing MOD witnesses One high spot was when I cross-examined the MoD witnesses. None of them had addressed any of our arguments; they all woodenly laid out the conventional ICRP position that the doses were too low. The most interesting was their witness Professor Geraldine Thomas. She spouted total nonsense, alluding to "non-radioactive Uranium" (there is no such thing) and arguing that the numbers of Fukushima thyroid cancers were what should be expected under the 'standard model'. Apparently Uranium did not bind to DNA, she said, but Uranium Acetate did so exhibiting monstrous ignorance of basic chemistry. In the end I felt rather sorry for her; she was embarrassingly ignorant. The MoD had nowhere to hide. The case we presented was unopposable, and was in fact unopposed. This, despite the judge having previously specifically directed that the MoD rebut all our arguments. Instead the Secretary of State's barrister Adam Heppinstall fell back on the only survival possibility left to him: to dismiss all of our evidence. And this he tried, saying that because all our experts were colleagues of mine, or members of the ECRR, or had written papers with me, or were my friends, they were to be tarred with the same exclusion brush: "activists". Like Busby, they were biased and should be barred from giving evidence. In other words all the evidence the court had heard over a three week period should be excluded. 32 But Judge Blake refused.
Interesting and unusual developments How he deals with this in the decision, we wait to see. But there has been one final and interesting development, that opens the door for another appeal. Some weeks after the end, the judge asked the MoD dosimetry expert Mr Rick Hallard, to expand on the doses he had said that the crew of the Shackleton survey aircraft had received to the west of the big Christmas Island Grapple Y bomb detonation, the radioactive plume of which was asserted by MoD to have blown safely out to sea. Hallard actually wrote that most of the readings from the survey aircraft could be discounted because the plane was already contaminated when it took off. What?? Dai Williams tracked down the log of the specific Shackleton. Hallard's new evidence meant that the contamination had already fallen on the aircraft at Christmas Island before its take-off. I wrote twice to the judge and requested that we might make a comment on this new evidence: a Perry Mason point and spectacular courtroom-stopping case-breaker. The judge did not reply. It is however a point of law (and obvious) that the prosecution should be able to cross examine a defence witness about new
evidence. So this is an appeal point, although we may not have to go there. Hopefully we shall soon see. A lot is at stake here. Win this case, and the scientific fact that the ICRP model understates radiation risk for internal exposures by factor of about 1,000 becomes legal truth. As a result all the nuclear projects that rely on ICRP's understatement of radiation risk - including the MoD projects, the Uranium economy, nuclear
Shackleton could hold the key to victory in court weapons - go down. Under current European and UK law, new and important scientific evidence which emerges must lead to a re-justification of all practices involving exposures to radiation. This basis is currently and explicitly the ICRP model. I can see why the judge, Sir Nicholas Blake, is taking such a long time. He is in a very difficult position - one that will make him famous whichever way he jumps. 33
ou may, as you read this, wonder
this, sign that, and the Official Secrets Act: You must
how a British serviceman could
never engage in loose talk with strangers or even
apparently be forgotten and cease
people you know, including yourself, or you’ll be
to exist whilst in a foreign country.
severely locked up! Thus cleared for ‘Continual Ac-
My name is Gerard James Gribben.
cess to Top Secret/Atomic/UK Eyes only’ it was eyes
In May 1956, in a desperate attempt to avoid Nation-
down in the Secretariat of HQ Task Force Grapple.
al Service, I
For the daily
man and be-
were so deep
Trained as a
service clerk, I
we saw day-
light only out
in 1957 man-
ning the liai-
son and De-
Gerry Gribben, and with colleagues on Christmas Island, 1958
Wing at Fighter Weapons School, Leconfield, now the
selves ‘moles’ but the security people had no sense
Defence School of Transport , a bus ride from home.
of humour as was evidenced when I placed a Ban the
The pilots and aircrew were great to work for.
Bomb poster on a notice board and incurred their
After a few months there came a posting to RAF Inns-
worth to be kitted out for Christmas Island, Pacific.
In due course, in the lucky draw that saw some
Then a new order: pack your kit again, lad, you’re off
moved out whilst others remained on Rear Party, it
to London. First stop wads RAF Station Uxbridge and
was off to Christmas Island via the USA and then Ha-
the usual formalities. Then in due course a tube jour-
waii. At 18 years of age the excitement of visiting
ney to Charing Cross and a short walk to the Air Min-
such places was thrilling, especially as I’d never been
istry (now the MoD) in Whitehall Gardens.
out of the UK before. We arrived in New York to be
After reporting in, there came an interrogation by
picked up by US Army bus and taken to the Hotel
army officers in service dress with badges repre-
Governor Clinton, opposite Pennsylvania Station. It
sentative of certain corps said to include the
was just a short stopover, but boy did we make the
‘spooks’. This turned out to be the final part of the
most of it! Lots of memories! After a short stop in 35 Chicago we flew on to San Francisco. There had been
process known as positive vetting. Then it was sign
advice to get one’s teeth in good military order be-
travel orders and had had no pay. I was from thgen
fore travelling. Despite having acted on that advice,
on fed royally, certainly by British standards. So, in
my lower gums swelled and began bleeding during
this military vacuum, penniless and centless, I was
the flight. The pain was severe but in an aeroplane
reliant on American hospitality and generosity which
what can you do but stick it out? We had a stopover
were freely given. God bless America!
at Casa Mateo Inn, San Mateo, California. I was left
Time passed. I had ceased to be an object of curiosity
there in the friendly care of the manager, Mr Stock.
and had become accepted. I had assumed I would be
An appointment had been made with a local dentist
picked up, and began to worry about the lack of con-
for emergency treatment. The only advice I was giv-
tact. More time passed. Then there was an excited
en was to answer, ‘the British Consul’ if and when
buzz among the US personnel: an RAF Comet was to
land at the base.
tions about pay-
ments. It seemed
buddies took me
to work! My ap-
to the airport ter-
pointment with a
Dr John R. Ulrich
was on 5 Oct 1957,
as this beautiful
the day before my
19th birthday. The
shining silver in
diagnosis was an
the weak sunlight.
abscess. A further
it turned out to be
en route to Christ-
staff car turned up
mas Island. The
with two officers,
aircrew then hap-
one an RAF Group
pened to come
Captain, and off we
through the air-
went down Route 66. I was dropped off at the transit
port building itself, so I approached the skipper and
block in Travis Air Force Base near San Francisco. The
asked if I could thumb a lift. He took some convincing
only advice given me was that dental treatment had
of my bone fides. He’d had no orders to pick me up
been arranged. The abscess cost me two lower front
but decided he would take me to the island. I just
teeth; the USAF dentist made no mention of pay-
had time to collect my kit and say a big, hearty
ment. The cooks, however, did. But an American
thanks to the Americans before boarding. Later it
guardian angel, Sgt Ronnie Wiseman, US Army, told
would transpire there was an RAF detachment at 36 Travis that should have delivered me to the island,
them I was in the American transit block waiting
but no-one had told them. All in all, the usual SNAFU.
and twenty two TFHQ personnel, service and civilian,
On arrival on the island I was asked where the hell I
left the island on 25 November 1957 courtesy of
had been, to which I replied: “In America, trying to
United Airlines DC-7 Hawaiian Mainliner, the
get here.” Not one officer enquired as to where I had
been, or as to my health. It was like that in HQ Task
I was Rear Party back in London for Grapple Y, a
Force Grapple. The Island? Basic. Question: where do
bomb of 3-megaton yield, but as we now know, not a
flies go in the winter? Answer: they come here mate!
successful test in terms of health and safety. I was
Watch out for the land crabs. For relaxation there
returned to the island for Grapple Z in late 1958. Dur-
was an open-air cinema, canned beer, and the occa-
ing that series of tests I became very ill. To cut a long
sional brawl, usually involving the sappers. Thanks to
story short, it was established many years later that
American dentistry I was spared treatment in the
the problem had been three separate bouts of pul-
dental section. Its drill was worked by a foot treadle!
monary TB, not diagnosed or treated at the time.
Primitive, or what! The gums healed normally. My
After treatment at RAF Hospital Halton in the UK I
workplace was the Joint Operations Command, in
was eventually posted to 92 Maintenance Unit, a
the Secretariat that served the then Task Force Com-
nuclear weapons storage depot long since decom-
mander, Air Vice-Marshal Oulton. We shared the site
missioned somewhere in Lincolnshire. I was de-
with the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment,
mobbed in 1959.
AWRE Aldermaston, the meteorological staff, the
Through the old BNTVA and the RAF Association, a
civilian specialists and personnel from the three
Tribunal in 1997 found against the War Pensions and
armed services who collectively formed the Task
recorded that my health problems, including the
three episodes of TB, had been attributable to, and
On 8 November 1957 came Britain’s Big One, the
aggravated by service in the RAF. In 2010, the disabil-
megaton-yield Hydrogen bomb Grapple X. We parad-
ities were rated at 20 per cent. Thus, I became a full
ed in full ‘protective’ kit comprising headgear, shirt,
War Pensioner, without the inconvenience of actual-
pants and issue sun glasses. The build up and the test
ly having gone to war. I do tell enquirers that some
itself have already been well-documented else-
have to face enemy action, whereas we Cold War
where. When we turned to face the cloud I was
nuclear veterans were bombed by our own side,
stood leaning back on a small knoll when there was
sometimes described at ‘friendly fire.’
an almighty deafening bang followed by a wind so
There is a twist to this tale. Many years later one of
strong it knocked me to the ground. Awesome! A
the initiatives of the pre-Charity Btitish nuclear vet-
sergeant, in the polite fashion of the times, then en-
erans association led in 1995 to a shock: there was
quired as to why I was idling on the ground, and
no record of my ever having been on Christmas Is-
would I mind getting up? My reaction was to wonder
land for Grapple X. I was there; the detailed evidence
whether he’d seen what I had just seen – and can
in this story proves it.
still see to this very day. A job well done, it seemed,
EDITORIAL DIRECTORS Ken McGinley
Derek Chappell Margaret Penney
Dr Ian Gibson
Albert I Isaksen
Do you have a story? Something to say? Contact us:firstname.lastname@example.org Or ring 07801 184011. All calls dealt with in confidence NUCLEAR veterans who car-
Professor Gerry Thomas, the MoD
ried out their own ‘Nukexit’ by
scientific stooge famous for putting
leaving the struggling BNTVA
her foot in it over a series of nuclear
charity are being accosted by
gaffes, has been strangely quiet of
a strange woman who rings
late. Not so long ago she was never
out of the blue with offers of a free cheapo week-
off the TV expounding her philosophy that radiation was-
end in a hi-di-hi holiday camp in Somerset. She
n’t as harmful as we all thought it was, and lecturing us
informs them that they could get the four-day B&B
about how. instead of evacuating disaster zones like Fu-
break (normal cost £80) absolutely free. All they
kushima and Chernobyl, victims should just stay indoors
have to do is fill in a ‘Assistance to Attend’ form
and wait for the radioactive cloud to pass overhead. But
and send it off to the new Nuclear Community
since Keith Bavistock’s devastating exposure of her scien-
Charity who will decide if they qualify. There’s a
tific shortcomings (see fissionline 45) there’s hardly been
catch though: you have to re-join the BNTVA if you
a peep out of her either in print or over the airwaves.
want to take advantage of the offer. Said one vet-
Rumour has it that her bosses at Imperial College have
eran: “I don’t know who this woman was, but she
told her in no uncertain terms to put a cap on her contro-
sounded like the chalet maid in the TV sitcom Hi-Di
versial views, and keep her mouth shut.
-Hi. I gave her short shrift.”