18 Nov 2010

UN investigations in Marshall Islands may face some challenges

11:39 am on 18 November 2010

The United Nations has agreed to produce a report on the nuclear testing impacts on the Marshall Islands.

67 nuclear weapons were detonated in the Pacific Island nation between 1946 and 1958 during its status as a United Nations Trust Territory administered by the United States.

The report is expected to focus on scientific questions, including safe exposure levels, but also look more broadly at the economic and social impacts of testing.

Our correspondent in the Marshall Islands, Giff Johnson, says the challenge for the UN will be to assemble a team of genuinely independent scientists to investigate the impacts.

"Who may bring a different perspective and particularly bring a public health perspective to an assessment of US testing in the Marshall islands because one of the problems historically has been that it's mostly physicists and scientists who look at this."

Giff Johnson says public health people involved is extremely important because they look at the problem from a wider viewpoint of the impact on the community.