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fissionline ISSUE 6



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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW PATRICK REGAN Professor of Nuclear Physics Surrey University

Patrick “Paddy” Regan thinks atoms can be as cuddly as Teletubbies. In newspaper articles he urges people to “embrace the atom” and declares: “Time to stop fearing the atom.” He was the surprise choice by the legal team representing the nuclear veterans in the recent Ionising Radiation Tribunal before Judge Hugh Stubbs. In a frank interviews he states his position. Q: Given that you are considered a pro-nuclear academic, don’t you think it was unusual that you were chosen as an expert witness for the veterans in this court action? A: I was chosen because I am a professor of nuclear physics I have published over 200 research papers in nuclear and radiation physics in learned journals and I have run for the past 10 years a masters course in radiation protection. I don’t work for the nuclear industry and I’m not sponsored by the AWE. Q: Were you privy to the Top Secret documents that the lawyers and Judge Stubbs were shown in the Ministry of Defence before the tribunal proceedings got underway? A: I’m not really allowed to comment on that. I must be careful what I say. I don’t want to give you a bum steer. I mean I have got nothing to hide; I don’t want to make it sound as though something has been covered up. I read through a Thisof story can fit 75-125 large range documents all sortswords. of different reports and health physics reports, and records and stuff like or graphics is an Selecting Q: Yes, but the lawyers had to go through what is calledimportant ‘developedpart vetting’, of adding which iscontent a high secuto rity classification, to view certain docuyour newsletter. ments….where you privy to those documents? A: I don’t think the lawyers saw anything that I didn’t…certainly the lawyers for the veterans…I Think about your article and ask don’t think the lawyers saw anything that I did yourself if the picture supports or not see. Q: Haveenhances you undergone developed vetting yourthe message you’re trying self? convey. Avoid selecting images A: I amtonot allowed to tell you that. I am not supposed to appear tell you to whether I of have or I haven’t, that be out context. so I can’t comment on that. I am not trying to be evasive. My job as an expert witness is to look at the information Microsoftthat Publisher is presented includes and comment thouon it. sands of clip art images from Q: The Stubbs tribunal found that the which majority

of veterans were not harmed by radiation. That doesn’t make sense to most people. A: To a lay person if you are sitting on an island and are exposed to a three megaton H -bomb explosion from 25 miles away yes, you would think that was a lot of radiation. You would think that that sort of radiation dosage is not appropriate. My gut feeling is that if you are 20-30 miles away from a great big bomb…I mean I would rather be 100, 200 miles away from a H-bomb when it goes off than 20 miles away from it. And that is with all my great scientific insight. But the reality is in terms of measured values that I have to comment on, all I can quote is the records that I saw. Q: What about radiation levels at places like Vaskess Bay on the northeast of the island which recorded very high levels of radiation? A: Yes, it is a matter of record now that some radiation got onto the island that is clear and I have made that comment in my cross examination. What there is at Vaskass Bay is evidence that some radiation got to the island. And then you work out what that level is…and according to the report that is still below the health level. Q: What about ingested radiation? A: I made the point of ingested beta and alpha radiation and that in order to be certain that the veterans were not exposed to internal alpha radiation in my opinion then they should have done some urine and faeces testing on them. In order to ascertain what the health risk is, you need to know what the type of radiation is. So you have to do an analysis to characterise what is causing that radioactivity. Again I have commented you caninchoose and import intothat yourwas on that the past, I don’t think done properly; I have said I didn’t think it newsletter. There are also several was done in a way that made it comfortable for Mycan main that Iand don’t tools usecomment to draw isshapes think they measured the island well enough. I symbols. was surprised that they weren’t crawling all over the island looking for radiation. I said if itOnce was done by my PhD students you have chosen an image,I would have failed them. That doesn’t mean that I place closecent to the article. sureistoan am 100it per certain thatBethere enormous amount ofofradiation on the place the caption the image nearisland and all these fellows were given huge amounts of radiation. That would be a lie. the image. There isn’t any evidence for that. The point is that there were no records that you saw that indicated that the whole island was irradiated to such an extent that all the men were going to have radiation sickness of some sort. To my mind that tells me that large scale deposition of nuclear fission

fragments did not occur across the island. It can’t have done because otherwise the record would still be there. The half-life of caesium 137 is 30 years. It is easy to pick up. That does not go against the hypothesis that there couldn’t be localised, and I could use the word hotspots, localised areas on the island where there was significant fallout. But I don’t have a measured number for that. But I think it is a not an unreasonable hypothesis that it should have been tested better. There could have been hotspots on the island…but there wasn’t any of the evidence that I saw that said there was a large, and large means where a human would have been exposed to 50 millisieverts of radiation which is basically the upper limit for a radiation worker to get, nowhere was there anything measured where I could say that was definitively there. Q: What about the weather reports? It says quite specifically in documents from the Meteorological Office that cumulonimbus clouds responsible for rainfall over large areas of the island was caused by the bomb. A: I am not a meteorologist, and I am not going to comment. I don’t know about weather patterns. I know about radiation. I am not there to be an advocate. My job is to comment on what sort of radiation would be made, what sort of radionuclides would be made, how you make it, how long it would be radioactive for and the biological effects if you were exposed to it. Q: Going on your written articles and from what you are saying, you come across as someone who believes radiation doesn’t do us any harm. Is that fair? A: I have never said it doesn’t do us any harm. I think there is a scientific fear of radiation that is associated with people of my generation with the link between atomic weapons and nuclear power. I certainly have no desire to see a world full of nuclear weapons, but I think nuclear power has to be looked at in the context of all other types of energy generation. Everyone remembers Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, but stare at you blankly if you talk about the three biggest hydro-electric disasters which killed thousands of people. I believe the risk analysis on those should be done rather more soberly than is being done at the moment. Q: Don’t you agree that you come across as pronuclear rather than anti-nuclear? A: What is pro-nuclear? I am certainly happy to be considered pro-educationalist when it comes to radiation. But I am certainly not a nuclear weapons advocate. I don’t want to see nuclear weapons spread across the world and I can assure you I am not a patsy for the nuclear industry.



Hello Dalai! Lord Alton Joins fissionline Lord David Alton, one of Britain’s most distinguished politicians has become the latest big name recruit to fissionline the authentic voice of nuclear test veterans and children. As a Liberal MP in the 1980s, Lord Alton was a tireless campaigner for the nuclear veterans. His was very often a lone voice against the majority of politicians who wanted to sweep the issue of the nuclear bomb tests under the carpet. He was the youngest member of parliament when he first won his eat against all the odds in 1979. For 18 years he was a Member of the House of Commons and he never missed an opportunity to raise the plight of the nuclear veterans and their children. He is now an Independent Crossbench Peer, but he is still keeping a watch on developments. In a statement he said: “I have looked through and read two editions of fissionline and I can see it shows considerable skill in ensuring that a story that needs to be told is recounted in the most effective way possible. The atomic veterans deserve nothing less. It is absolutely right that on the basis of the evidence the

promised new enquiry should be established. I hope that you are able to stir the consciences of the powers that be.” Lord Alton has emerged as one of the world's leading campaigners on human rights and religious freedoms. In 2004 he welcomed the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, to the UK to deliver a lecture and collect a Fellowship. In recognition of his work for human rights and religious liberty, in 2006 Pope Benedict XVI created Lord Alton a Knight Commander of St. Gregory. In 2010 he hosted a 12-part television series on the plight of persecuted Christians. In 2011 he successfully steered a Private Members Bill through all its stages in the House of Lords. The Re-export Control Bill regulates the resale of weapons into areas of conflict. In Parliament he has continued to speak out regularly on a range of issues. In March 2011 he organised a visit to the United Kingdom of a delegation from North Korea, which included the Speaker, Choe Tae Bok. He arranged for the Fellowship awarded earlier to Burmese pro-democracy campaigner, Aung San Suu Kyi, to be presented to her per-

sonally during her recent visit to the UK. He also recently gave an address at a conference at the American Congress on the plight of Egypt's Coptic Christians. He is married to Elizabeth, has four children and lives in Lancashire.

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Sir Nick Harvey: A Question of Questions Former Defence Minister Sir Nick Harvey came in for a lot of stick when he unceremoniously ditched the nuclear veterans after assuming power. Most people believed it was just another case of an uninformed politician jettisoning his principles as he mounted the greasy

pole. But it transpires Harvey may not have been as ignorant as people thought. In 2008 when he was in opposition Harvey with no technical or scientific background (his field was public relations), suddenly tabled a series of questions in the Commons about a substance called beryllium, which many people had never even heard of. Beryllium is a silver-grey metal that is lighter than aluminium and more rigid than steel. It is used in aircraft and space vehicle structure. It is also highly toxic. Harvey’s first question was innocuous enough: To ask the Secretary of State what research the government had conducted into the possible health effects of the substance. The Minister replied there had been three studies done, all inconclusive. And that was that...until a month later when Harvey suddenly popped up again in the Commons to ask

again about beryllium. This time he was more specific: It turns out beryllium is used to initiate the chain reaction in nuclear bombs, and he asked if it had been used in any of the UK’s nuclear weapons exploded in the Pacific and Australia. The Secretary of State replied that it had. The question of why Harvey was asking about beryllium was left hanging, and noone was any the wiser when a few weeks late he asked the same question but asked specifically if it had been used in ALL the nuclear weapons exploded by Britain. The reply was that it had. And that was the end of the matter. Harvey never brought it up again. The question that fissionline wants an answer to is why his sudden interest in beryllium? Did (does) he know something we don’t know? We understand it could be important. Over to you Sir Nick.

Sellafield Leukaemia Cover-up in Action In 1957 Sellafield was run by the now defunct United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), a powerful government organisation set up ostensibly to control Britain’s nuclear energy needs. It’s main function at the time, however, was to produce plutonium for the UK’s atom bomb stocks. It was difficult and dangerous work and there were inevitable health consequences. UKAEA bosses were in a panic over the number of leukaemia cases that were beginning to emerge among Sellafield workers. One of these was Mr Bernard Clarke, a production worker. He sued the UKAEA claiming his myeloid leukaemia and cataracts in both eyes were caused by radiation.

The UKAEA fought the case and Mr Clarke died before it could come to court. His son carried on, however, and eventually the authority agreed to settle, but still insisted it wasn’t responsible. In a “cosying-up” exercise a confidential letter was sent to the Medical Research Council giving advance warning of the case and providing details of Mr Clarke’s radiation dosage records and offering to provide details of the “briefing material” the UKAEA was preparing to ward off bad publicity. The MRC replied it was “very thoughtful” of the UKAEA, and would “very much appreciate” a copy of the briefing material. Both letters have just been released after 50 years locked away.



fissionline FIGHT, FIGHT AND FIGHT AGAIN... The Stubbs Ionising Radiation tribunal revealed powerful evidence of radioactive contamination on Christmas Island following the H-bomb blasts of 1957-58. It disclosed how winds and rain carried the contamination to the island and the woeful lack of proper equipment to monitor fallout levels. Despite this Judge Stubbs decided the vast majority of servicemen stationed on the island were too far away from the blast to be affected by radiation, direct or otherwise. That contention has now been seriously challenged by Professor Patrick Regan one of the UK’s foremost nuclear physicists and an expert witness at the tribunal. Prof Regan is an honest man and he makes clear in our exclusive interview his belief that nuclear power is little understood and much-maligned. So when such a “pro-nuclear” scientist says he wouldn’t want to be 20-30 miles from an H-bomb explosion you may be sure he knows what he is talking about. He echoes the sentiments of what we all know deep in our bones: it is nonsense to suggest that human beings placed in close proximity to atomic explosions equivalent to many millions of tons of TNT would experience no harm. It is an affront to common sense. Unfortunately common sense doesn’t win tribunals and it certainly won’t change the mind of the Ministry of Defence. This stony-hearted ministry is now laughing up its sleeve at the plight of the nuclear veterans. “Basically we’ve won,” chortled an official when the Stubbs decision to refuse compensation payments was announced. The courts have failed, the lawyers have failed, the politicians have failed. The “Recognition campaign” is making little headway. Besides nuclear veterans are in no mood to accept charity. Justice is what they want. Right is on the side of the nuclear veterans. ‘Fight, fight and fight again’ is the fissionline motto even if they have no choice but to fight on alone. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Join the fight for Justice for the Nuke Vets: Contact:

‘Dartboard’ Dave Whyte Scores a Bullseye Here’s the face that gives Ministry of Defence top brass the shivers. Nuclear veteran David Whyte has sent so many freedom of information requests into the ministry that quivering mandarins haven’t been able to cope. For years Dave has led a dogged lone fight to prove he was exposed to huge levels of

radiation while stationed on Christmas Island in 1958. He has now won the backing of his local MP who has written to David Cameron demanding an investigation. Mr Whyte, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, believes there has been a massive cover-up to conceal his service records and has been constantly badgering the MoD. My spy in the ministry tells me that this is having a profound effect on many of the MoD officials who have to deal with his relentless barrage of requests. Some openly weep at the prospect of opening another of his letters, while others have been forced to take sick leave. To try to relieve the psychological pressure on their beleaguered staff, MoD managers held a brain-storming seminar with a view to resolving the crisis. A dartboard with Dave’s photo on it has now been put up in the staff canteen. “It’s the only way we could think of to stop people throwing themselves out of the windows,” said an insider. Dave says: “I’m

flattered in a way. But the MoD should know that I am never going to give up my campaign for justice. I know my cause is right, and I also know the MoD are covering up what happened at the bomb tests. I am not going to give up until they surrender.” * How do you recognize a nuclear veteran? Perhaps he should glow in the dark or walk around with a glowing outline like the people in those old TV adverts for Quaker Oats. Maybe then the remaining 500+ MPs who have not signed up to John Baron’s Recognition Campaign might be able to recognize them. * Give a thought to three stalwarts of the nuke vets campaign. Ken McGinley who founded the BNTVA, legal champion Neil Sampson, and NZ veteran leader Roy Sefton are all very poorly.

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Bulletin of Nuclear Veterans and Children