A PLEA has been made for former nuclear test veterans to come forward — after councillors pledged extra support for ex-servicemen and women.
Ex-Nelson South county councillor George Adam served with the Royal Engineers on Christmas Island in the 1960s during the US nuclear test programme.
He is keen to meet any fellow former troopers who shared his experiences, amid an increasing recognition of the health effects caused by witnessing the atomic tests in the Central Pacific.
Mr Adam, 74, of Avondale Road, Nelson, said: “I want to get in touch with any veterans who were on Christmas Island in 1962.
“I don’t know if there are many of us left now, because the radiation has given many people illnesses, which fortunately I haven’t had.
“We went out there for the American nuclear tests, of which there were 24 in three months.
“It’s strange really, I had no specific job. All I had to do was write a letter every time they let off a bomb confirming that everything had gone fine.
“It’s like we were used as guinea pigs. When you are exposed to radiation, it changes your whole body and goes through the generations in your family.”
Last month, Pendle Council passed a motion, proposed by Brierfield Labour councillor Robert Allen, recognising the ‘unique service’ given by the nuclear test veterans.
This also included supporting the establishment of a benevolent fund, for affected veterans, and asking Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson to raise the matter in the House of Commons.
Coun Allen said that witnessing the atomic tests had ‘cast a shadow across the lives of many’, with both veterans and their descendants suffering from the after-effects of radiation exposure.
The Ministry of Defence also commissioned a health needs analysis for veterans and their families three years ago, to devise practical ways of supporting those in need.
Ex-soldiers can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details to be passed on to Mr Adam.