By Derek Heaps
Derek joined the RAF Transport Command when he was 21 years old. In 1956 he was posted to Christmas Island for the H-bomb tests. It made him happy at the time because as a 23-year-old being posted to a desert island conjured up all sorts of images. They actually did the test on Malden Island, and he saw the last bomb to go off. He hopes nobody ever has to witness an H-bomb going off because they're awesome, and they look beautiful, but they're devastating. Derek knows people, their children and their grandchildren who have all been affected by the radiation from those tests. Looking back at a photo taken a few years ago, he notes that 50% of the people in it are now dead from the long-term effects of radiation. He now works with the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association to help get pensions, mainly for the widows of ex-servicemen.
Your thoughts about this video
it was a wondwerful video about a v interesting topic i think you should go and put it in some toast and eat it
This video epitomises the subliminal intent of sections of the media in general and the BBC in particular to negatively sensationalise issues associated with 'nuclear' topics.
What are the facts rather then the hypothesis behind the claim that 50% of those featured in the photograph died of 'radiation' related illnesses? Further to this, what are the facts associated with the claim by 'Derek' that children and children's children have been affected?
I speculate that the ‘affects’ are cancer related. One in three of us will contract cancer during our lives, with little or no connection to nuclear weapons tests or nuclear power. The vast majority of these cancers will be lifestyle related (i.e. diet, sunbathing etc.), or to do with natural occurrences such as radon gas pockets in the home.
Everyone looks for someone or something, other than themselves, to blame when contracting diseases and 'nuclear'; weapons testing, adjacency to nuclear licensed sites or the fall-out from accidents, provides an easy scapegoat.
Admittedly, there are historic poor practices and controls inherent to the development of nuclear power and nuclear weapons that, by today’s standards, are not acceptable. There are also irrefutable, albeit isolated and few, instances of illness and death resultant from these practices – the types of illnesses (e.g. cancers) associated with radiation are well understood and documented. But isn't this negative ‘ying’ to the positive ‘yang’ true of all developing technologies throughout history; conventional explosives, steam power, electricity, the chemical industry, the internal combustion engine etc.
The BBC has a responsibility to establish a balanced and educated position on emotive issues such as nuclear related topics. This video panders to the rhetoric of the ‘Greens’ who frequently fail to acknowledge the positive influence of the nuclear deterrent on world peace during the past sixty years or the ‘current’ extremely high standards of safety in the nuclear industry.
Come on BBC – get balanced – if you publish a video like this, make sure you present an informed dialogue on unsubstantiated claims made therein.