Oldbury health risks are a concern

Wednesday, May 13, 2009, Soapbox: Bristol Evening Post

Unfortunately, the report clearing Oldbury nuclear power station of health risks (Click here to read Bristol Evening Post, April 23) has some important problems.

For example, it failed to look at figures in Chepstow, the nearest large population to Oldbury other than Thornbury.

The South West Public Health Observatory (SWPHO) said it examined cancers within 10km of the nuclear site but missed out Chepstow, which is eight kilometres away and was the subject of a leukaemia report by Dr Chris Busby in 2001 when childhood leukaemia was found to be 11 times the average. Visiting colleagues of mine from the Children of Chernobyl group have been concerned about the levels of cancer in Chepstow and Caldicott, which lie opposite and downstream of Oldbury.

Dr Busby also found 50 per cent extra breast cancer mortality downstream of the plant on the Gloucestershire and Avon side, while SWPHO looked both downstream and upstream, potentially diluting the figures. Prostate cancer mortality was found to be 37 per cent higher downwind of the plant and its aerial discharges. I don't believe the SWPHO has taken an intelligent view on where the likely health effects might occur.

Although the SWPHO report says the recent German study showing childhood leukaemia near every single nuclear power station cannot prove this is linked to their radioactive discharges, common sense suggests so. The problem is that the epidemiology does not match the predictions of The International Commission on Radiological Protection, which is under mounting pressure to radically revise its advised safe doses to the industry. More can be found at www.llrc.org.

The pressurised water reactors (PWR) implicated with leukaemia in Germany discharge much more radioactive tritium than the small reactor at Oldbury does. This isotope, previously considered mild, is now thought to penetrate and damage DNA. Any new giant PWR reactors proposed for Oldbury will discharge this toxic waste, potentially adding to the cancer toll.

Jim Duffy, Shut Oldbury Campaign, Stop Hinkley, Bridgwater, Somerset .



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Page Updated 19-Sep-2009