Nuclear Tests: Woman's fight
November 16, 2007
A BRACKNELL widow is waiting for the results of a Parliamentary inquiry into the effects of nuclear testing that has impacted tragically on two generations of her family.
Beryl Oxberry’s late husband Jim was sent to Maralinga in the South Australian desert in 1962 with the RAF to a nuclear test site.
In the years after his return both he and members of his family suffered health problems they believe can be traced back to his nuclear exposure.
He died aged 69 in 2000 from lung disease, having been plagued by heart attacks and ill health for the last 10 years of his life.
The couple’s youngest daughter Diane, who was born after he returned from the site, has also been beleaguered with health problems.
As a newborn baby she was covered in weeping sores and had black teeth.
Mrs Oxberry, 73, of Madingley in Birch Hill, said: “I am sure that Diane’s health problems are because of the nuclear exposure.
“When Jim came back from the Maralinga he had his uniform in a box. I took it out and shook it, which meant the dust was everywhere.
“There are very few of the men who were exposed to nuclear testing who are still alive and most of them died from heart and lung disease.
“It can’t just be a coincidence.
“Those men were radioactive when they got back. It is so sad and so wrong that the health problems that the nuclear exposure caused for them and their families have never been acknowledged.”
The results of the inquiry, which was held in mid-October, will come in the form of a report that will be used to decide if further research into the effects of the nuclear exposure should be funded.
If research is carried out, it could lead to Mrs Oxberry and the thousands of other nuclear test victim families being awarded compensation for their suffering.
But she does not have much hope that the inquiry will do any good.
“People have tried before to bring attention to this and it never comes to anything.
“I think it is just easier for them to try and ignore it rather than admit they made a terrible mistake by sending those young men out to those sites.
“I don’t think they will ever give out compensation but if they would even just admit responsibility for what happened it would help in some way.”
Bracknell Forest MP Andrew MacKay said: “I was very concerned to learn about Beryl Oxberry’s situation.
“I would be happy to take her case up with the Secretary of State for Defence Des Brown to see if she can be given any help or compensation.”