Western Daily Press, 1st March 2008

Infant mortality is almost three times more likely to occur in Severn Estuary towns and villages downwind of Hinkley Point power station than inland parts of Somerset , a report says. Details of the study by Dr Chris Busby, of Green Audit, which was supported by a former director of the South West Cancer Registry, were aired last night on the BBC's Inside Out West programme.

Using Government figures, Dr Busby found there was an almost three times greater risk of infant mortality between 1996 and 2001 in the estuary wards of Brean, Berrow, Burnham, Highbridge, Huntspill, Combwich and Pawlett, compared with inland wards.

The rate of deaths in under one-year-olds was found to be 10 per 1,000 compared with 3.5 per 1,000 further inland. Campaigners said the findings added weight to the theory dangerous radioactive particles discharged into the sea and air at Hinkley were ingested by residents downwind from the power station.

Neonatal deaths (in children up to 28 days old) were also found to be high, particularly in Burnham North during the period 1993-98 at six times the rate expected.

Dr Chris Busby was commissioned by campaign group Stop Hinkley to follow up earlier cancer studies that had shown high numbers of breast cancer and leukaemia in the area near contaminated mudflats between Hinkley and Burnham-on-Sea. Dr Derek Pheby, former head of Cancer Registry, said the findings were significant.

Jim Duffy, spokesman for Stop Hinkley, said: "The tide is turning with more scientific support for the compelling evidence that radiation is harmful to local communities and particularly to vulnerable infants.

"COMARE, the Government watchdog assigned to monitor health trends near nuclear plants should now be disbanded."



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