Hinkley Point cancer cluster
Cancer Mortality and Proximity to Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station
The study used data from the Office for National Statistics to compare cancer mortality in all age groups from 1995 to 1998 for 103 wards within 30km radius of Hinkley Point nuclear power station. The study set out to compare risk of dying from all types of cancer combined, breast , prostate, lung and stomach cancer with the England and Wales average risk over the same period. The hypothesis being tested was that proximity to the offshore mud bank which exists at the mouth of the River Parrett was a source of excess cancer risk. This 50 sq: km mud bank is a repository for radioactive waste which has accumulated following its discharge from Hinkley Point.
It is now well known that the radioactive nuclear fission-products discharged from nuclear sites to the sea become attached to fine silt and are re-suspended by wave action and blown ashore. These novel man-made radioactive isotopes like Strontium-90, Caesium-137 and Plutonium-239, become inhaled as fine particles and trapped in lung tissue. They are then absorbed into the lymphatic system of the body where they cause cancer by irradiating local cells and attacking the immune system. Recent research undertaken by Green Audit in Wales and funded by the Irish government has shown that excess cancer risk exists in those populations of towns on the north Wales coast which are adjacent to mud banks and estuaries where high levels of such radioactive isotopes are found. The results support the hypothesis and show:
1. Relative risks for all malignancy combined, breast, prostate and lung cancer were consistently high in the down-winders at Burnham on Sea. For breast cancer Relative Risk was 1.47 on 26 observed and 17.7 expected (p = .03). For prostate cancer the figure was 1.48 with 21 observed and 14.2 expected (p = .05). This population is closest to the mud bank but also downwind of the power station and they thus receive gaseous emissions of Tritium and Krypton-85 from the reactors and solid isotopic material from incinerators also.
2. In annular concentric rings around the centre of the mud bank, risk was highest in the population living within a 5km radius.
3. Thereafter, risk fell off with a trend similar to that found elsewhere for inland penetration of salt and radioactive particles in seaspray.
4. Risk was significantly higher in wards close to the rivers and on the low lying areas and was generally low in those wards above the 200m contour. This may reflect the general effect of rainfall causing concentration of radioactive material in the rivers.
5. Figures available from the National Radiological Protection Board and also the operators of the power station show two to threefold excess external gamma radiation doses (60, 78 and 110 nGy) on beaches included in the 5-km ring compared with the 34nGy average for Somerset.
The reports conclude by recommending that more detailed cancer mortality and incidence figures are made available for analysis by the Cancer Registry and that the releases of man-made radioactive isotopes to the environment should be ceased.
Detailed results are given in the following three reports published by Green Audit:
Busby C, Dorfman P and Rowe H, (2000) Cancer Mortality and Proximity to Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station 1995-1998: Part 1- Breast Cancer. Green Audit: Aberystwyth
Busby C, Dorfman P and Rowe H, (2000) Cancer Mortality and Proximity to Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station 1995-1998: Part 2- Prostate Cancer. Green Audit: Aberystwyth
Busby C, Dorfman P and Rowe H, (2000) Cancer Mortality and Proximity to Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station 1995-1998: Part 3- All Malignancy, Lung Cancer, Stomach Cancer and Summary of Results. Green Audit: Aberystwyth
Contact: Green Audit, 38 Queen Street, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 1PU