26 Feb 2005

Pacific nuclear test vets claim compensation from Britain

8:11 am on 26 February 2005

The British ministry of defence has confirmed that Fiji, New Zealand and British veterans of nuclear testing in the Pacific have filed a group-action claim against it, seeking compensation.

Dozens of New Zealand, Fiji and British military personnel witnessed nuclear test explosions at Kiritimati and Malden islands in Kiribati from 1957 to 1958.

A spokesman for the UK ministry of defence, Miguel Head, says it's in the process of responding to the claim.

Mr Head says there's no evidence of excess illness or mortality amongst the veterans as a group that could be linked to their participation in the tests or to exposure to radiation as a result of that participation.

The ministry says this is borne out by three studies into cancer incidence and mortality amongst nuclear test veterans conducted by the independent British Radiological Protection Board.

A number of personnel who were present at the tests have successfully claimed war pensions.

The Fiji nuclear test veterans' association says the British ministry of defence has until June this year to file a response at the High Court in London.