Letter to the Western Daily Press, 13 March 2008, From Gwyn Evans of Bristol

The BBC1 programme Inside Out, shown on February 29, examined the claim that the deaths of children in Burnham-on-Sea were caused by radioactive substances released by Hinkley Point nuclear power station.

The lady from the Health Department said that the numbers in this local cluster do not vary sufficiently from normal to justify an official investigation.

The subject is tragic and evokes high emotions, so it is well to have a sense of proportion.

A Government pamphlet Radiation Doses can be obtained free by phoning 01235 831600. It shows that the body of the average UK person receives unwanted radiation from 10 sources.

Radon gas from the ground provides 50 per cent, medical activities 14 per cent and nuclear discharges less than 0.1 per cent.

So, the nuclear power process is responsible for less than one thousandth of our total intake.  


Reply from Richard Bramhall, member of Committee Examining Radiation Risk of Internal Emitters, 2001-2004

Gwyn Evans cites an official pamphlet on low doses of radiation. This is out of date. It depends on science which has been simplified to the point of absurdity. The concept of dose is a calculation based on irradiating the whole body but the target for radiation effects is the DNA; damaging the DNA of a single cell is enough, potentially, to lead to mutation.

Suppose I offer you a dose of warmth; enough, say, to raise your whole body temperature by some very small amount. I can administer it by sitting you by the fire, or by giving you a nice cup of tea, or I can heat a ball-bearing to white heat and drop it on your skin. Or I could heat a poker and apply it to your intestines, which is said to have been how King Edward II was murdered in Berkeley Castle, not far from a couple of nuclear power stations, give or take 800 years.

Radiation protection officials would say these different dose regimes were equivalent. It is manifest nonsense. We are all infected with types of radioactivity which deliver pinpoint radiation to microscopic volumes of tissue. For this reason the whole basis of the conventional radiation risk model is in break-down, as evidenced by recent reports from the International Commission on Radiological Protection, the official French radiation risk agency IRSN, the European Committee on Radiation Risk, the UK Government's Committee Examining Radiation Risk of Internal Emitters, and the UK Health Department's radiation research strategy.

A recent report from the official radiation risk agency in Germany shows a doubling of leukaemia risk in children living near nuclear power stations, although the radiation "doses" to those children were infinitesimal, as conventionally modelled.


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Page Updated 20-Mar-2008