Source AP ©

Case of organs removal from dead nuclear workers expanded

A minister said Thursday that the investigation of the reason why body parts were removed from British nuclear workers after their deaths would be expanded to cover people at additional nuclear sites.

Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling launched an investigation earlier this month after unions alleged that organs were removed from bodies of workers at the Sellafield nuclear plant in northwestern England and secretly tested for radiation.

Officials now believe that similar procedures took place at other nuclear sites, Darling said, adding that some of those tested may not have been nuclear employees. It was not immediately clear who else might have been tested.

Among the sites identified was Harwell, the birthplace of Britain's nuclear industry, the site's operator said in a statement.

Testing on Harwell employees continued into the early 1980s, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority said, adding that information was still sketchy and incomplete. Britain's Atomic Weapons Establishment also said that some of its employees may have been tested.

The investigation into how the organs were removed and whether proper consent was sought from the workers' families will now be expanded to cover the new sites, Darling said in a statement to Britain's House of Commons.

Opposition lawmaker Charles Hendry said the revelations were disturbing.

"It is now clear that the removal of tissue samples was on a much larger scale than was first thought, he said. "Our sympathies are with the families involved at Harwell."

Harwell is in the process of being decommissioned. Sellafield, operated by British Nuclear Fuels PLC, is one of the largest nuclear engineering centers in the world.