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7. EXPOSURE OF WORKERS AND SAILORS

Radiation records are kept for a large number of servicemen and workers who are involved in nuclear work for the MoD. The number who would be exposed to radiation in the normal course of work related to the Trident programme is difficult to assess. In 1989 radiation records were kept for 377 personnel at HMS Vulcan, Dounreay. The PWR 2 prototype reactor is only for use on Trident submarines so all these can be considered as Trident related posts. The number in Trident related radiation posts at Faslane and Devonport from 1998 onwards is probably around half the 1989 totals which were 316 at Faslane and 2,394 at Devonport. Of the 3,842 monitored at Aldermaston a high proportion would have been involved in Trident work in 1989. The number of monitored personnel involved in Trident work at Coulport in the future could be higher than the total figure of 188 monitored in 1989, because of the increased number of warheads and changes to procedures in 1990.

The average collective exposure in one year at the Atomic Weapons Establishments between 1985 and 1989 was 2.34 man Sv. If Trident warhead production is continued from 1988 to 1998 then the total collective exposure during this period would be expected to be around 23.4 man Sv. The average annual collective exposure for the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Programme from 1985 to 1989 was 11.63 man Sv. If the Trident programme accounted for one third of similar work over a 25 year period this would be expected to result in a total collective dose of around 96.92 man Sv.

The accumulated doses which had been received by workers employed in 1989 in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Programme (NNPP), at the AWEs and at RNAD Coulport are shown in figure 17.

Accumulated dose for workers in the NNPP, AWE & Coulport 1989: [Component figures have been deduced from percentages]

Accumulated Dose (mSv)

0 - 50 mSv........9617 people
50 - 100.............553
100 - 200...........278
200 - 300............95
300 - 400............28
400 - 500............9
> 500..................1

Total monitored employees 10587

There have been reports associating children's health with their father's exposure to radiation at work. There is speculation that submariners who served as sentries outside the reactor compartment while welding work was carried out on submarines in refit may have been particularly at risk. There may have been a particular problem with regard to the first refit of HMS Resolution in 1971-72 which could explain the 7 or more cases of deformities amongst children of the crew. The cases include several of children born with hare lip and cleft palate and one of brain damage.

There has been speculation for several years about the existence of clusters of leukaemia and other specific cancers around nuclear establishments. These include Capenhurst, Springfields and Aldermaston. In Scotland this phenomena is noted for particular years, for 1979-83 at Dounreay, for 1979-83 at Chapelcross and for 1974-78 for Rosyth. A recent 15,000 case study has concluded that the chance of cancer occurring in the children of men who would have inhaled radioactive dust in their work was 2.7 times greater than normal.

The number of cases of childhood leukaemia around Sellafield was the subject of an extensive study, the Gardner report. Since this was published alternative explanations have been presented. In a detailed follow up to the Gardner report the HSE found that there was a significant association between leukaemia and the offspring of workers from Sellafield who were resident in the village of Seascale. The report examined where and when the father worked in Sellafield. There were found to be significant associations with father working in the Calder Hall part of the site and also with exposure to Tritium. The HSE report does not make any connections with military work, however Calder Hall was built to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons and Tritium is produced at Chapelcross for nuclear weapons.

Exposure to plutonium dust may be a major factor in problems amongst children. Dr Tom Sorahan of the Oxford Study of Childhood Cancers has said: "My own feeling is that alpha emitters like plutonium are going to prove an important pathway through fathers to their unborn children".

The effect of radiation on workers themselves is illustrated by the case of Rudi Molinari who contracted leukemia after working on nuclear submarines. In December 1993 he was awarded 167,000 pounds damages by the MoD.

Scottish CND     Safety of Trident