Number 10 - Low Level Radiation (LLR) and its effects. NATO Supreme HQ.

This is number 10 of a 15 part blog series, created by Mr Roy Sefton, Chair of the New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans Association.

Frequently during our decades of battles with Government to have realistic concern directed towards our nuclear test veterans and their families, the issues we raised about radiation exposure have been dismissed by responses that any radiation we encountered was low level and not dangerous. Such opinion is of course, politically and scientifically selective.

Internationally, there is much scientific consideration that any dose of radiation is dangerous. It is cumulative especially if it is being received frequently. In 1962 the United Nations Scientific Committee on Atomic Radiation in part concluded:

“It is clearly established that exposure to radiation, even in doses substantially lower than those producing acute effects, may give rise to a wide variety of harmful effects, including cancer, leukaemia, and inherited abnormalities”

In 1996, NATO Supreme Headquarters produced policy for Defensive Measures against Low Level Radiological Hazards During Military Operations. The document in part states…

(2) Low Level Radiation (LLR) exposure produces a risk to soldiers of long term health consequences. The doses received from these exposures are higher those received by health physics workers and the general public and are in the range from background radiation to 70cGy.

The primary consequences of exposure may be induction of cancer in the longer term post exposure. Additional health risks that may occur are ??genisis and mutagenis? and their associated psychological and social consequences. The hazard from LLR may result from Alpha, Beta, or Gamma radiation”.

Apart from the $100,000 government grant for research purposes, NZNTVA has raised a further $200,000 to finance research on some of the conditions mentioned in the report. That includes a Psychological Impact study that also looks in part, at the social issues arising from radiation exposure.

Since 1998 NZNTVA had provided much scientific evidence plus the studies that we have contracted and financed to Governments. Every political response has been one of complete ignorance and arrogance. Our concerns have been dismissed with the continuing political stoney face, and an attitude that 'we, Government, know better, you veterans do not know what you are talking about'. Fighting against such stonewalling is soul destroying. However we will keep fighting on.

At the time of writing, NZNTVA is still awaiting a decision from the present Minister of Veterans, Hon Ron Mark, on a situation that has stopped us moving forward over the last 12 years. We are hoping he will overturn the entrenched mindset of previous ministers who dismissed the findings of the Massey University 2007 Cytogenetic study that determined the NZ Op Grapple vets had suffered DNA damage due to their nuclear testing service. That research was upheld by a Ministerial Panel of Experts, and a number of internationally recognised Cytogenetists who all upheld the research findings. Minister Collins ignored everything..

Roy Sefton QSM Chair New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans Association.

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