Index

Email sent 1st March

4   Leaks and peaks

"Error of judgement" kills babies

Increased infant mortality after radioactive leak points to fault line in radiation risk model.

A BBC Inside Out documentary broadcast yesterday (29th February 2008) features new research by Green Audit (sponsored by Stop Hinkley). Leaks of radioactivity from Hinkley Point nuclear power station near Burnham on Sea, Somerset, UK in 1994 preceded a peak in infant mortality. This is based on official health data.

Earlier studies in Burnham on Sea showed increased breast cancer after the accident.

The first leak was caused by corroded pipework. The second was caused by a failure to replace one part of the suspect pipe. When prosecuted for this "error of judgement" in 1995 station operators Nuclear Electric described the leaks as "insignificant" and "at the bottom of the scale".

The conventional radiation risk model predicts no discernible impact on cancer at such levels of exposure. Infant mortality is not officially considered as an effect of radioactive pollution.

Radiation is thought to cause anomalies in the sex ratios of births the proportion of boy babies born compared with girls. Normally, in England and Wales five percent more boy babies are born. The Green Audit report studied sex ratios in the data for Burnham North, the ward nearest to the most contaminated mud in the study area. The sex ratio was found to be abnormal, with nineteen percent more boys born, similar to the ratios found in the Hiroshima atom bomb studies.

To view the 10 minute BBC report go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/ Scroll down to find the icon titled "West" on the right hand side. Click on the link Watch the latest edition in full to run the video on your computer. You can see Dr. Julia Verne, the current head of cancer registrations in south west England, claiming she found nothing when she re-tested the data "using the best methods". Her predecessor, Dr. Derek Pheby, disagrees: "This is a serious finding, and most unlikely to have arisen by chance. The likelihood is that something happened environmentally at the beginning of the period in question and it is very likely, although this would be difficult to prove, that the accidental releases of radioactive material in 1994 to which the authors [of the study] draw attention is implicated in this. Clearly this is a serious matter, which warrants further investigation. The South West Public Health Observatory [formerly the SW Cancer Registry] ought to take this seriously."

Julia Verne has denied the existence of radiation effects before and had ignored refutations of her flawed analyses. Curiously, after her earlier reports, she was appointed to COMARE, the UK Government's advisory Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment.

The Green Audit study is on http://www.llrc.org/epidemiology/subtopic/infmort.pdf

A local newspaper report of the 1995 trial of Nuclear Electric is on http://www.llrc.org/epidemiology/subtopic/hinkleylocalnews201095.pdf

Stop Hinkley report http://www.stophinkley.org/Press Releases/pr080229.htm (Stop Hinkley sponsored the Green Audit study.)

Western Daily Press report http://www.westpress.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=145809&command=displayContent&sourceNode=145792&contentPK=20029238&moduleName=InternalSearch&formname=sidebarsearch

Next