A FULL investigation is being carried out into whether organs of dead workers from Dorset's nuclear plant at Winfrith were removed for testing.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority will go through records of its 20,000 employees to see if any of their tissue was removed and tested for radiation damage without informing families.

This includes every member of staff who has worked at the Winfrith research site since it opened in 1957.

The inquiry was sparked by revelations last week of 65 cases of tissue removal, mostly from workers at the Sellafield power plant in Cumbria.

It is claimed organs were removed without the consent of the families.

Last week, the authority said that similar tests may have been carried out at its Harwell site in Oxfordshire.

Spokesman John Price told the Echo: "At the moment there is no reason to believe that this kind of work was done anywhere apart from Harwell and the reports from there are very sketchy. But we have set up a project team to go through all the records as we feel we ought to be sure."

Harwell was one of the few places where radiation testing could be carried out and it is possible it was used by outside agencies.

"The samples we have found are not necessarily from Harwell employees," said Mr Price. "The facilities may have been used by coroners from all over as it is one of the few places that could carry out that work."

The inquiry will mean sifting through all the personal, medical and research records of the 20,000 employees at UKAEA's five sites.

It is expected to take "a matter of weeks" to compile the results.

Until 2004, it was not illegal to remove organs for testing without informing family members.

Relatives of Sellafield employees have expressed "shock and outrage" at the thought organs and tissue samples were taken without permission.

  • UKAEA has set up a helpline to give more information to families on 07734 282510.