It is a known fact that DDT was sprayed on Christmas Island during Operation Grapple. It is also a known fact that DDT is now a banned substance. But there are reasons why they should not be combined together to form an argument for the exposure of the personnel on Christmas Island.
The main reason is that if DDT is brought into the equation whilst discussing radiation exposure, the faceless Whitehall officials will use this as a mechanism to stall any campaign that the BNTVA will bring.
DDT usage needs to be discussed separately. The use of DDT was widespread at the time of the testing program, it was widely used across the world. It is very easy to say that it is now a banned substance and that the service personnel should not have been sprayed.
A Freedom of Information request was sent to the Ministry of Defence in 2016:
The request was further refined as follows:
The request was then further refined as follows:
So as of 2016, not awards had been made to Nuclear Test Veterans under the War Pension scheme for Nervous System and Liver Damage associated with DDT exposure.
The Chairman of the BNTVA requested further information under the Freedom of Information Act in 2016.
The attachment can be read in full here.
The report was prepared in 1992 and references the DDT on Christmas Island, but comes to the following conclusion:
There is evidence that birds and fish are effected by the use of DDT. The impact of DDT on human health received worldwide attention from the general public, political and scientific communities, with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring book.
In Silent Spring, Carson described a series of harmful effects on the environment and wildlife resulting from the use of DDT and other similar compounds. Fifty years later the book and the issues raised remain controversial. DDT, which had been effectively used to eradicate malaria carrying mosquitoes, continues to be a major public health problem and effective treatment and prevention efforts are still necessary.
A full report on the book, fifty years on can be viewed here.
A further study in 2014, "DDT, epigenetic harm, and transgenerational environmental justice" which explains the ethical reasons for using DDT can be viewed here.
The Miles & Green Health Audit of October 2011 also mentions DDT:
The full Miles & Green Audit can be viewed here.
The reason is that if you are pressing a case of death and ill health through exposure to ionising radiation, then introducing concerns about another agent, you are giving Government a legitimate reason to say we will have to investigate and possibly research the veterans to determine if it is DDT rather than radiation is the offending factor.
That of course means years of further waiting. Scientifically it becomes a confounding factor in the research already done on irradiation of the vets. Further, DDT spraying may only apply to those stationed on Xmas Island.
Crews of navy ships that had spent extended period at sea, very occasionally anchored at the Port of London for perhaps a couple of days with only a small number of the crew going ashore to the canteen. They may not be considered to have been sufficiently exposed to DDT to cause health damage. So you end up with a who were possibly damaged by DDT and who were not?
Whilst the spraying of DDT is another reason to highlight that the Health & Safety of the personnel, the conditions that they lived in, the risk and rigour that the men went through and the disregard for the men on the island, we must not introduce into the ionising radiation argument.
The prime purpose of claiming damage is through exposure to radiation and that is what the argument should firmly remain on. Any other agent confounds that argument and could end up with further research delays and/or more excuses by the MoD to further delay the Veterans concerns.