Court rules sick veterans can sue UK

Associated Press / June 6, 2009
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LONDON - Military veterans who participated in Cold War-era nuclear weapons tests won the right to sue the British Ministry of Defense yesterday for on-the-job hazards.

Britain's High Court ruled that about a thousand veterans and their survivors can pursue their claim for compensation because of exposure to radiation, which has been linked to cancer and other health problems.

The veterans participated in nuclear testing in Australia and on Pacific Ocean islands in the 1950s. They argue the defense ministry was aware of the health risks but failed to adequately protect them.

The British military has said it took the precautions that were acceptable at the time.

Most of the claimants are from Britain, though some are from Fiji and New Zealand.

Other countries have taken steps to compensate nuclear weapons workers. In the United States, workers or their survivors can receive compensation through a program established by Congress nearly a decade ago.