Commenting on the publication of the Redfern Inquiry into human tissue analysis in UK nuclear facilities, CND expressed profound concern that in addition to the previously uncovered abuse of nuclear industry workers, other researchers had taken samples from thousands of individuals “mostly children under the age of six”, in many cases, without familial consent.

In addition to the cases that sparked the inquiry – where tissue had been taken from deceased Sellafield workers – Michael Redfern QC uncovered comparable practices at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) and the Medical Research Council (MRC). The last case is the greatest in scope with the Inquiry reporting “In all, in addition to the 91 fetus, bone (femur or, later in the study, vertebrae) was collected for the UK strontium research from 6,072 individuals, mostly children under the age of six.” [Chapter 14: Findings, Point 71, page 580]

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said “These abhorrent practices continued undetected for decades – most frequently at Sellafield – but also at other nuclear sites including the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment. The removal of body parts points to the major fear that the nuclear industry obviously had about the impact of radiation on their workers. Disgracefully they chose to conduct investigations without the informed consent of the families of their workers and then kept this fact secret for many years.

“The further revelation that investigations into the effects of nuclear weapons testing – large scale studies for Strontium-90 in the general population – had resulted in samples taken not from dozens of people but over 6,000 without consent. Despite legislation outlawing this after 1961 the studies continued for another decade. It is particularly chilling that it was young children – who were, as the report concludes ‘mostly’ under the age of six – that were the source of this material.”

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The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.