You are on page 1of 13

Health consequences of exposures of British personnel to radioactivity whilst serving in areas where atomic bomb tests were conducted

2nd Supplementary report to the composite report for the Royal British Legion, the RAFA and Rosenblatt’s Solicitors in response to Tribunals Service Directions issued 23rd July 2010 and further directions of the Tribunal in 2011. Chris Busby PhD

Castle Cottage, Sea View Place Aberystwyth, SY23 1DZ UK Jan 2012

1. Preamble I have studied the issues of the health effects of exposures to radioactivity in a number of Pensions Appeals Tribunals cases since 2002. In all this time I have been struck by the lack of real data which is supplied to back up the assertions of the Ministry of Defence that the veterans were not exposed to fallout. It has become increasingly clear that these data have been kept back. There are many references to measurements made of radionuclides in rainwater samples, sticky paper detectors etc, but I have not seen a single set of data which show any of these measurements. This is a matter of justice, and it seems to me (having been involved in many cases in the USA where Discovery is a serious affair) that in some sense I am having to work in the dark. I have to Sherlock Holmes my way though what data is available. In 2008 I made Freedom of Information requests for any documents which showed the results of analysis of radionuclides collected from the test sites. I have seen none. Even measurements of radioactivity seem very rare. And most recently, when concentrations of radionuclides in the megaton mushroom clouds became available, I was not allowed to see the data, but (even after complaining) had to be content with a “gisted” table of radionuclides, which gave upper limits. This, it seems, is because the radionuclide concentrations in the cloud have to be part of the Official Secrets Act, even after 50 years. How can this be? I have decided to give up asking, since it seems to me that we will never get the truth from the MoD, and the longer this continues, the more veterans will die, and this does not serve justice, in my opinion. And in any case, by “reading between the lines” and analyzing such data as has slipped through the filters, I have enough to make my case. What is my case? It is that the veterans were exposed to internal radionuclides which were not registered on the film badge dosimeters nor detectable at all with the measuring instruments employed. It is that these exposures, for technical reasons, are not adequately described by the current radiation risk model, that of the ICRP, and that for some of these exposures, the error in applying the ICRP model is extreme. It is that the chief missing exposure, and principle risk was the inhalation of submicron particles of the alpha emitter Uranium, the chief component of the bombs. The detonation of the bombs in the air resulted in the rainout and fallout of Uranium 238, Uranium 235 and Uranium 234 over the areas where the veterans lived and worked. The enormous contamination from these Uranium nanoparticles, formed in the core of the nuclear explosions, remained on the ground and was resuspended and inhaled. This was in addition to the Plutonium and other beta emitting radionuclides like Tritium, Carbon14 and so forth which also did affect the film badges that some veterans wore. In this final report to the Tribunal case, I review some of the many documents which have been released under the Freedom of Information requests and also the gisted secret documents which tabulate the concentrations of radionuclides in the clouds. These data have enabled me to refine my argument and show that I was broadly correct in all my assumptions about the composition of the fallout and rainout. In addition I will revisit the metereological conditions and will use new data which were released, to reconstruct the megaton cloud over Christmas Island from the Grapple Y test in 1958. This has been a revelation to me. It has shown that the enormous size of the mushroom cloud with all its fallout components, at least 80km diameter,

despite being an airburst at the southern tip, entirely overshadowed Christmas Island. And despite the fact that the ground level wind was slightly offshore at the time of the detonation, the upper winds, where the cloud was, were in the opposite direction, towards the island, so the cloud was over the island for several hours. Radioactive rain falling from this cloud (and it did) will have dropped and blown back over the island. I employ the measurements made by the tracking sampling Canberra aircraft (Sniff) and discussions I have had with their pilots and the Sniff Boss navigator Fl. Lt. Joe Pasquini. From these data, and with the meteorological data obtained under the FoI, with the help of my colleague Dai Williams I have reconstructed the Grapple Y mushroom cloud and its behaviour relative to the island. It is clear that the simple MoD assertion that there was no radioactive exposure in the north of the island (where most of the veterans were) because the wind was offshore is unsafe. I will try to make this report as short as I can to make the points. 2. The gisted secret reports The reports which were kept secret were all reports of the results of measurements of radionuclides in the fallout. If the case depends on fallout exposures, as I argue, then to be refused access to the results of measurements, as I have argued above, seems a rather basic way of biasing the argument. There were 50 separate documents which relate to the measurements of radionuclides in the fallout. None of this data has been made available. The first “gist” gives a vague indication of what the document relates to, with no numbers. For example, the gist for Document R02815 “Post shot radiochemistry for G1 Short Granite” is gisted to: Fission yields based on typical fission products such as Mo99, Ba140, Cd115, and Sr89 gave 250kt, 759ky, 220kt for G1, G2 and G3 respectively. The usual Pu and U isotopic ratios were measured plus three transformation products. This is no use for me, as I want to see what the numbers are. Particularly I want to show that the main component in the fallout was Uranium. For Grapple X I am told (JH0783) radiochem: cloud fraction indicator results seem anomalous. So the radiochemical results are there, but I am not allowed to see them. After a complaint to HH Judge Stubbs I received an Unclassified Gist of the radiochemistry results. In order to declassify the data from the various sets of measurements, the table provided gave an upper limit of the alpha activity in Becquerels per fission for U-238, U-235, U-234, U-240 and Pu-239. This is a rather strange way of providing the data, but fortunately I can deconstruct this table to obtain what I am looking for, the proportion of U-238 in the fallout. 3. The relative quantities of Uranium-238 and other alpha emitters in the fallout from the gist. Table 1 gives the gisted results sent to me for Grapple 1 and Grapple Y. I also had the same data for the other Christmas Island tests but will not investigate all of them here. I choose to examine these to see what these figures show in terms of masses of material in the fallout cloud and its composition. The yield of Grapple G1 and Grapple Y are given as 250kton and 3Mton respectively.

We can employ the table to estimate the quantities of U-238, U-235 and Pu-239 in the fallout on the basis that 1Mton yield is equivalent to 56kg of fissions of U-238. 56kg of fissions is (56 x 1000)/ 238 Moles of U-238 or multiplying by Avogadros constant of 6 E+23 is 1.4 E+26 fissioning atoms of U-238. By similar arguments we can obtain the quantities of the other radionuclides in the fallout samples at their limit given by the gist. The results for G1 are given in Table 2. Table 1 Upper limits of alpha activity in Becquerels per fission supplied by Bevis Parker, Nuclear Science Advisor, Strategic Technologies Document DCDS PERS-PCV-COMP LEGACY AHD Nuclide U-238 U-235 U-234 Pu-239 Grapple G1 5.5 E-16 2.5 E-16 4.7 E-15 7.4 E-13 Grapple Y 9.5 E-17 2.8 E-17 1.6 E-15 1.3 E-12 Half life s 1.41 E +17 2.22 E +16 7.76 E+12 7.6 E+11 Specific activity Bq/g 12,400 80,000 230 E +6 1.4 E +14

Table 2 Total Activity and Quantities in tonnes of alpha emitters represented by the limiting levels given in the gisted document data shown in Table 1 for Grapple G1. Values for Grapple Y can be obtained by the same process. Nuclide U-238 U-235 U-234 Pu-239 Bq in fallout 7.75 E+10 3.5 E+10 6.6 E+11 1.0 E+14 Mass in fallout 6.25 tonnes 440kg 28.7kg 0.7g

What this calculation shows is that the fallout data confirm my argument that the main material in the fallout was U-238, the principle component of the bombs. Clearly the quantities derived from the data are too large, but that is a consequence of the gist authors attempt to cover up the real values by setting an outside limit. What my calculation shows, and this is the important point, is that although the activity of the U-238 seems lower than the other components, in fact the total quantity and proportion by mass is very much greater. This is because U-238 has a longer half life and is less radioactive than the other components, the Caesiums and Strontiums. But there is a lot of it about. The results show that the fallout is 99.9% Uranium, something which has never been mentioned by the MoD or anyone else, and which has disappeared in the way in which fallout is described, in terms of its main radioactive components. I should make it clear that this calculation is the best I can do with the data supplied in the gist and involves various assumptions. The original measurements will have given the components in terms of Bq/kg, and this is what I should have liked to see. However, perhaps the court may be permitted to see these and therefore obtain the real values for the activities of these alpha emitters which the court may then convert into grams using the specific activity in Table 1.

I will approach this differently below and show that there is other evidence which bears on this which I have also employed in earlier tribunal cases, but which I can support with new data from material released under the FoI. 4. The relative quantity of Uranium-238 in the fallout obtained from the beta gamma ratios In my first report and in several PAT reports I have employed the beta gamma ratio measurements made by AE Oldbury in his 1964 report on the decontamination of the airfield at Christmas Island which was carried out finally by his team in 1963. Fortunately, Oldbury has equipment which could measure beta radiation and gamma radiation separately (1320 instrument) and thankfully he reported his data. I compared the beta + gamma measurements he made on the aircraft washdown pad with the gamma measurements in the same area to show that the beta gamma ratio was anomalous for fallout which was 2 years old. The only explanation for the high beta gamma ratio was that the fallout contained large quantities of U-238 and the beta radiation was from the two fast beta emitter daughters Pa-234 and Th-234 (there is also the U-235 beta emitter daughter Th-231). Here I address the ratio in fresh fallout since in the FoI reports there is a second report by AE Oldbury which has a table showing the beta + gamma and pure gamma measurements on fallout collected on the surfaces of aircraft. This is fresh fallout and so we can examine the predicted and observed beta gamma ratios. The observations are given in Table 3. The predicted beta gamma ratios can be obtained by examining each fallout component. Graphs of megaton fusion weapons fallout are shown in Fig 1 taken from the standard work Eisenbud and Gesell Environmental Radioactivity (2000). I also look at U235 fission weapons where the yields are slightly different. The beta and gamma decays from each nuclide can be obtained from standard tables (e.g. in d’Annunziata ,1998 Handbook of Radioactivity Ananlysis) and these are given in Table 4 for megaton and Table 5 for U-235 fission explosion fresh fallout (after 10 days). I use fresh fallout here because of the measurements made of beta plus gamma and pure gamma in material on the surfaces of aircraft being decontaminated on Christmas Island, data given in the report: SSCTD Technical Memorandum No 6/63 Operation DOMINIC Decontamination Group Report AWRE SSCTD 6/63. This has a table at the back of filter paper smears showing how useless the decontamination was, since many surfaces were still contaminated. It is clear from the examination of the betas and gammas from the megaton fallout after 10 days and the fission fallout after 4 days that the theoretical expected values lie between 1.1 and 1.6. This is what should have been measured by Oldbury on the aircraft. However what he measured was a beta gamma ratio as high as 128 and for the high contamination aircraft the mean beta gamma ratio was 49 with Standard deviation of 37. If we subtract the expected value, we see that there is some major component of the fallout which is a beta emitter. As I pointed out in my first report, this can only be U-238 daughters (and the U-235 daughter Th-231). To make this quite clear, for the aircraft smear result of 144000 beta plus gamma counts, and a gamma count of 3200 we would expect with a theoretical beta gamma ratio of 1.5 only 4800 betas. But we observe 139200 betas. If we assume these are from the two U-238 daughters it means that the U-

238 has a proportionate activity of alphas of 139200 counts per second, none of which would have been detected by any of the systems that were deployed. All that would have been detected would have been 3200 gamma photons and this would have been recorded as the dose rate. The ratio of counts of U-238 alpha to the number of counts from gamma due to all the other nuclides combined is 1394200/3200 = 43.5 on the surfaces of these aircraft. Thus the predominant material in counts per second is U-238. It is, in fact, worse than I have calculated since I have used the fission beta ratio of 1.5 rather than the fusion value of 1.1. The observed beta gamma ratios were also recorded elsewhere by AE Oldbury and reported in a paper he produced extolling the virtues of a fallout protective wax paint he developed (and patented). I am extremely grateful to Oldbury for his meticulous attention to detail, in that he employed a 1320 instrument to measure the beta+ gamma and separately the gamma radiation. The report, which shows the same high beta gamma ratio, indeed as high as 100- fold, is Decontamination of Cloud Sampling Aircraft AWRE report T 16/62 (1962). Table 3 Results of smear tests carried out 20 June 1962of aircraft which had already been decontaminated (SSCTD Technical Memorandum No 6/63 Operation DOMINIC Decontamination Group Report AWRE SSCTD 6/63) Aircraft Aircraft type No B 21506 Position Beta + gamma Counts/s 750 144000 300 388800 550 115200 190 129600 4000 972000 900 259200 3240 144000 600 144000 50 60 65 150 gamma Beta (by subtraction) 725 143800 290 384000 540 114200 185 129500 3935 959200 850 248000 3195 142400 575 142400 45 55 60 142 Beta/gamma ratio 29 44 29 80 27 114 38 128 60 75 17 22 71 90 23 89 9 11 12 12









S nose S tail P nose P tail S nose S tail P nose P tail S nose S tail P nose P tail S nose S tail P nose P tail S nose S tail P nose P tail

25 3200 10 4800 20 1000 5 1000 65 12800 50 11200 45 1600 25 1600 5 5 5 12

Fig 1 Principle components of Megaton weapons (Eisenbud and Gesell, 2000)

Table 4 Beta and gamma components of fresh fallout constituents from megaton test after 10 days. Gamma energy is approximately normalized to 600kev. Data from d’Annunziata 1998 for fallout from Eisenbud and Gesell 2000. Beta emitter nuclide La-140 Ba-140 I-131 Ce-141 Zr-95 Sr-89 Nb-95 Ce-144 Ru-106 Rh-106 Pr-144 Pm-147 Cs-137 Sr-90 Y-90 All % in fallout Gamma photon % BETA ratio 11 200 10 25 7 90 5 48 3 100 2 0 0.6 100 0.8 11 0.3 0 0.3 30 0.6 0 0.05 0 0.03 85 0.02 0 0.02 0 40.82 Beta gamma ratio = 1.1 Total gamma GAMMA 22 2.5 6.3 2.5 3 0 0.6 0.08 0 0.09 0 0 0.02 0 0 37.09

Table 5 Beta and gamma components in 4 day old fallout from U-235 fission. Beta emitter nuclide Mo-99 Ce-143 I-132 Te-132 La-140 Ba-140 I-131 Pr-143 I-133 Ce-141 Nd-147 Nb-97 Pm-149 Rh-105 Zr-95 % in fallout BETA 13 8 8 8 5 6 5 5 5 3 3 3 3 2 1 Gamma photon % ratio 16 100 200 90 200 25 90 0 90 48 13 98 0 19 100 Total gamma GAMMA 2.08 8 16 7.2 10 1.25 4.5 0 4.5 1.5 0.3 3 0 0.4 1

Y-91 Sr-89 Ru-103 Rh-103 All

1 1 .5 .5 93

0 0 90 0 Beta/gamma ratio = 1.53

0 0 0.45 0 60.58

5. Christmas Island and fallout: Grapple Y revisited The documents released under the FoI request enabled me to re-examine the arguments I advanced in the supplementary report I wrote with Dai Williams and which is part of my earlier arguments. What we did was to employ the NOAA HYSPLIT computer program to examine the wind directions and the likely contamination plumes from the ground zero positions on the days of the tests. What I did not realize then, but now see, is that these calculations are of little utility in examining the contamination from weapons whose energy is far greater than any weather energy, and which dominated the direction of fallout dispersion. There are three main points I will make which follow from the FoI papers. 1. Although the lower winds were supposed to be offshore, and for Grapple Y were south east, blowing along the coast, the upper winds were westerly and blew back across the island. Since the plume and fireball were mostly in the upper atmosphere, the total fallout cloud passed across the island in the easterly direction. Fallout from this will have eventually reached sea level where it will have been carried back over the island again by the lower winds. 2. There was considerable heavy rain caused by well-described processes involving the drawing of moist tropical sea level air (and sea water for Grapple Y which explodes close to the sea owing to fuse problems) into the cold upper atmosphere) 3. The measurements made by the Canberra aircraft sent to collect samples enable me to show that the cloud of fallout debris was roughly 88 km in diameter and thus overshadowed the island (which is about 15km by 30km) by a significant amount. So whichever way the wind was blowing, the fallout cloud was above all parts of the island for several hours. 5.1 The lower and upper winds One FoI document is a letter from P Graystone, Senior Meteorological Officer HQRAF Christmas Island, to various individuals on 2nd May 1958 which tabulates met data from Christmas Island immediately before Grapple Y. I show Heights in feet, Temperature Wind speed and direction at 1900GMT on 28th April 1958 in Table 6

Table 6 Metereological data. Christmas Island on 1900h 28 April 1958. Tropopause in bold. Height 1000ft Sea level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 46 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 Temp deg C 30 24 23 21 19 17 15 15 13 12 10 1 -7 -16 -27 -38 -51 -63 -65 -73 -79 -77 -69 -61 -57 -49 Relative humidity 80 80 80 85 85 85 85 85 75 70 50 50 60 25 20 20 25 Wind Dir 160 130 130 130 130 140 130 130 120 120 120 080 040 080 080 080 030 240 210 270 280 330 230 330 100 090 Wind speed knots 8 9 10 12 12 12 13 14 16 16 17 16 19 10 18 22 23 04 03 11 17 10 14 20 12 40

From this I conclude that since the fallout cloud developed within 10 minutes, the stem only was in the lower airstream whereas the main cloud was at a level where the wind was blowing it slightly to the East back over the island. The high humidity shown by the balloon sonde data in Table 6 supports the many eyewitness accounts of heavy rain, a phenomenon well known to be associated with nuclear weapons (see e.g. Glasstone 1962) and which follows from the drawing up of moist tropical air into the higher and cooler atmosphere. The sample collection (Sniff) Canberras reported rain at unusual altitudes and this was confirmed in a conversation I had with Joe Pasquini the navigator of the control Canberra Sniff Boss. Another veteran described to me very heavy rain on the

island which was accompanied by falling fishes. This rain will have been full of uranium particulates and other fallout material, and we know from FoI reports that it was collected and analysed, though no results have been released. 5.2 The size and position of the fallout cloud There was a very valuable document among the FoI bundle. This was a letter to Mr GC Scorgie from Wing Commander AW Eyre RAF/AWRE/S1334 dated 21st May 1958 and titled Grapple Y Sampling Canberra Data. It describes the gamma readings, headings and airspeeds of the 5 Canberra sampling aircraft together with their altitude and other data. I have discussed these data with the navigator of Sniff Boss, Joe Pasquini, have obtained valuable first-hand information from him and also obtained information from another pilot who is still alive Chris Donne. Eric Denson on Sniff 2 flew though the high altitude high radiation area and died of cancer. The gamma measurements are recorded on the various headings and from the speed of the aircraft (given as Mach 0.74) the location of the high radiation areas define the size of the fallout cloud. This has been reduced to a diagram by my colleague Dai Williams and it shows the extent and position of the high radiation areas up to H + 139 mins compared with the position of Christmas Island. I show this in Fig 2. The external blue perimeter drawn in (by me) shows the position where the gamma readings began to be recorded. However Pasquini says that the gamma measurements began to climb at least 30 seconds before this point was reached. The diameter of the cloud dependent on altitude but at the highest point the aircraft reached (Densons Sniff 2) was 6 minutes in diameter at Mach 0.74. This puts the diameter at approximately 88km, although there is some slight uncertainty for two reasons. The first is that the aircraft lost height as rapidly as possible to get out of the area so the final readings were not taken (Chris Donne says his navigator shouted for Christs sake lets get out of this or something similar). The second is that apparently the pitot head mach systems ran out of steam at these near stratospheric altitudes and so the recorded speeds were based on the fact that the aircraft had been travelling at these speeds. It is of interest that the record in the FoI actually referred to light rain but Fl.Lt. Pasquini in Sniff Boss recalls very heavy rain which was extremely unusual at the very high altitude the aircraft were flying, close to the tropopause between 45,000 and 55,000 feet. As an example of these data I give the radiation measurements recorded by Sniff One, third run, on a course of 240 at a height of 54,000 feet in Table 7. Table 7 Radiation exposure rates R/h recorded by Sniff 1 3rd Run; H + 79.5 minutes; Course 240; Height 54,000ft. (1 R/h = 100mSv/h) Dose rates in Sniff 2 were as high as 280R/h (2.8 Sv/h) Time of entering at Mach 0.74 = H+79.5 Time of leaving = H+85 Duration in cloud with high gamma readings below recorded = 5.5minutes R/h 1.5, 2.5, 3.1, 4.5, 5.5, 7.5, 10, 13, 16, 17, 18, 17, 16, 19, 19, 20, 21, 20, 20, 19, 18, 19, 13 aircraft exited; no more measurements taken. .

Fig 2. The size and position of the fallout cloud after GrappleY as shown by the 4 cloud sampling Canberras together with their track directions and the times of their runs (Dai Williams). Note the northern displacement of the stem and eastern displacement of the head are not shown.

6. The sticky paper measurements of fallout One interesting document released under the FoI draws attention to the way in which measurements of fallout were made (I subsume rainout under this heading of fallout). A memo by Maj.WG McDougall written from AWRE Aldermaston 14 Feb 1948 outlines required operation of fallout collection on Christmas Island (Veterans July 2008157654) is titles Air Water and Sticky Paper samplings. It states: Sticky paper is adversely affected by rain and should be taken in under cover when rain is falling. We assume that either this was carried out or wasn’t. If it was, then no radionuclides in the rain will have been collected on the filters. If it was not, then the filters will have had the fallout washed off them. Since the MoD depend to a great extent on the sticky filter data to argue their position that there was no fallout in areas where the veterans were stationed, this paper largely withdraws that evidence as unsafe. 7. Uranium and health Since I wrote the first report, I have completed with colleagues a study of the Fallujah populations and have shown, by the use of hair analysis of the parents of children with congenital malformations, that he cause is exposure to Uranium nanoparticles from weapons (Alaani et al 2011). This new evidence is very relevant to the veteran case since the veterans also have significantly high rates of congenital conditions in their children and grandchildren as I have shown in my 2007 study of the British Nuclear test Veteran Association children (Busby et al 2007). Uranium causes these conditions and also chromosome aberrations. The new evidence on uranium effects is reviewed in the ECRR report on Uranium which may be downloaded from 7. Conclusions These FoI and gisted secret documents support the arguments I advanced in my earlier reports on this case. C. Busby 11/Jan 2012

Alaani Samira, Tafash Muhammed, Busby Christopher, Hamdan Malak and Blaurock-Busch Eleonore (2011) Uranium and other contaminants in hair from the parents of children with congenital anomalies in Fallujah, Iraq Conflict and Health 2011, 5:15 doi:10.1186/1752-1505-515

L’Annunziata MF (1998) Handbook of Radioactivity Analysis San Diego: Academic Press Eisenbud M and Gesell T (1997) Environmental Radioactivity San Diego: Academic Press