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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 April 2007, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Body parts removal helpline opens
Tests were carried out between the 1960s and 1990s, said BNFL
A helpline has been set up for families of nuclear workers concerned their relatives' body organs may have been removed without consent.

It was opened after an official inquiry into the removal of body tissue from 65 deceased employees at Sellafield, in Cumbria, began on Wednesday.

The plant's owner, British Nuclear Group, said more than 20 calls had already been made to the helpline.

The group said tissue was taken for "legally correct" purposes.

A spokeswoman said: "The support line is for families who want to know if their relative is one of the 65 cases being looked at.

"Once we have taken their details our medical team looks into the matter and then gets back to the family member."

Radioactive material

The workers all died between 1962 and 1991.

The samples ranged from small samples of tissues to bones and organs.

On Wednesday, Trade Secretary Alistair Darling appointed lawyer Michael Redfern QC to lead an independent investigation into trade union claims permission was not sought to remove tissue and body parts.

Mr Darling said in many cases the tissue was removed at the request of a coroner and was used to investigate the effects of radioactive material.

But in other cases medical records failed to show why samples were taken and who asked for them.

Medical records

The inquiry would ask why tissue was taken, whether next of kin were told and if proper procedures were followed.

He told MPs records at BNFL, which formerly operated the site, showed six of the workers were from Aldermaston and one was from a nuclear site at Capenhurst, in Cheshire, who had transferred from Sellafield.

Other information - but not medical records - related to a worker from Springfield, Lancashire. The rest worked at Sellafield.

The helpline number is 01946 774 017, which is open between 0700 BST and 2400 BST on Thursday and Friday.

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