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Hydrogen Bomb (Radio-Activity)

Volume 526: debated on Monday 5 April 1954

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asked the Minister of Works whether he will make inquiries as to the effect of the recent explosion of an hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean, particularly with reference to its effect on the production of radio-activity in fish; the intensity of the contamination and the survival rate of the fish; and what effect the consumption of fish rendered radioactive would have on human beings.

asked the Minister of Works if he will set up a scientific committee to study the effects of atomic explosions on the run of world salmon and other fishes; and to what distances radio-active sea water can be carried in the Pacific and other ocean currents.

Work on the effects of radio-activity on fish is carried on by the Atomic Energy Establishments, the Agricultural Research Council and the Fisheries Research Laboratory; and there is no need for any special inquiry. It is known that a large part of the radioactivity produced in explosions decays very rapidly, and the radio-activity is also diluted progressively in the sea as the distance from the point of explosion increases. Possible serious effects on fish would occur only for a very few miles round the point of explosion. To accumulate a significant quantity of radio-activity in his body a human being would have to eat daily for many months or even for years large meals of fish all of which had been taken within a few miles and a few days of the explosion.