The Compensation Scheme was started by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL) and its trades' unions in the light of experience gained from a small number of legal actions against the Company in the late 1970's. These cases related to BNFL employees who had died from cancer and the basis of the actions was that their cancers had been caused by occupational radiation exposure and the cases were supported by the claimants' trades' unions. In the aftermath of these cases, the Company and the unions recognised that the cases had been extremely lengthy (some had been ongoing for over 5 years), very stressful for the families of the claimants and very expensive for both sides in terms of legal costs and expert advice.
It was recognised by both sides, however, that the causation of cancer by radiation was now well-understood and that it should be possible to construct a scheme which would evaluate the probability that a diagnosed cancer may have been caused by radiation exposure at work. Such a scheme could provide the basis for an alternative to the normal legal process, but it was clear that to be accepted it would need to be quicker, more generous to the claimant and cheaper than the legal process.
Following further joint discussions, the Compensation Scheme for Radiation-Linked Diseases was established in November 1982 as a joint agreement between BNFL and its trades' unions which were (at the time) IPMS (now Prospect), GMB, TGWU, AEEU (subsequently Amicus) and PCS. At first it accepted only mortality claims (i.e. claims where the subject had died from a radiation-linked disease), but this was revised in 1987 to allow morbidity claims (i.e. where the subject is living with a radiation-linked disease). As a result of the success of the Scheme, it has expanded to include other nuclear employers and their trades' unions. In 1987 the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) joined, followed by URENCO UK Limited, in 1993 Magnox Electric, Nuclear Electric and Scottish Nuclear Ltd (SNL) joined (subsequently British Energy Ltd, Magnox Ltd and EDF Energy Ltd), the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in 1994, Devonport Royal Dockyard Ltd (DRDL) and Rosyth Royal Dockyard Ltd (RRD) in 1997 and Babcock Naval Services and GE Healthcare in 2005. With the expansion across the nuclear industry, other trades' unions have joined the Scheme and these are (or were at the time) EETPU and MSF (subsequently Amicus), UCATT, EMA (now Prospect), Unison, the First Division Association of Civil Servants and the AEA Constabulary Federation (now the Civil Nuclear Police Federation). There has been some amalgamations within the union organisations over the years.
For a full list of current Scheme Employers and participating Trades Unions which now also includes Unite the Union, please go to the relevant section here