British Scientists Stole Bodies of Deceased Children for Secret Nuclear Tests

EPA Officials Stall Investigation of Yucca Mountain

* According to documents released by the United States Department of Energy, Britain's nuclear industry was involved in secret international operations to steal and experiment upon the bodies of dead children. The operation, called Operation Sunshine, spanned almost thirty years, and involved leading British and American scientists. Included in the hundreds of pages of information released are letters written from British to American scientists discussing the levels of radiation in the ribs of stillborn babies.

The documents state that British scientists removed the bones of dead children without parental consent and sent the bones to American and British universities, where the bones were tested for radiation. Several reports have been released which compared bodies collected in Britain with bodies collected in San Francisco. The bodies of more than 6,000 children were collected in Britain, America, Scotland and Hong Kong between 1950 and 1977. The bodies were primarily those of newborn or very young babies, although the bodies of children up to ten years of age were taken.

Among the documents released was the transcript of a secret meeting between Willard Libby, a Nobel Prize winner for his techniques in carbon dating, and several of Operation Sunshine's brightest scientists. In the transcript, Libby is quoted as saying, "Human samples are of prime importance, and if anybody knows how to do a good job of body-snatching, they will really be serving their country."

An investigation into the body snatching program returned with scathing results, saying, "Researchers employed deception in the solicitation of bones of deceased babies from intermediaries with access to human remains."

* It may be two months before the Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) decides whether its top consumer advocate will investigate radiation standards for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. The delay comes because EPA ombudsman, Robert Martin, may not have jurisdiction over the standards placed on Yucca Mountain by the EPA. Martin's role may be affected by proposed rules that would allow the EPA to veto the ombudsman's decisions in some cases.

Yucca Mountain is currently the only site being considered to store 77,000 tons of highly radioactive commercial and defense wastes. The EPA recently released guidelines that limit the amount of radiation that would be allowed to escape from Yucca Mountain, which is located 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. EPA guidelines limit exposure to 15 millirems per year to an average person outside of the repository boundaries, with four of those millirems restricted to groundwater exposure.

The proposed rules that would limit Martin's jurisdiction are currently suspended due to EPA administrator Christine Whitman's efforts to work with Congress to create an accountable and independent ombudsman. Martin said, "I'll get opinions on my jurisdiction over the case and make a decision if we'll go forward in the next 30 to 60 days."

Martin's jurisdiction has faced scrutiny among citizens of Nevada. Nevada Congressional Representative Shelley Berkley said, "We need to protect the people of this community. We need the EPA ombudsman to look at the standards and make a determination about whether they are just or reasonable."

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