Stop Hinkley Press Release
6th March 2008
Denial based on switched figures
A report by health officials denying high infant death rates near Hinkley Point may have diluted the statistics by examining populations less likely to be affected. Stop Hinkley is now calling for a look at the 'big picture' with credible research into the risk of breast cancer, leukaemia and infant mortality concentrated in the same affected populations.
The short briefing (1) published by the South West Public Health Observatory in response to a complex study on infant mortality near Hinkley Point, shows populations and uses dates different to those in the original research. Campaigners say this would dilute the mortality figures.
The SWPHO health officials, despite claiming to be consistent with the Green Audit study, chose to include figures from three extra electoral wards (2) which were not part the original study. They had been excluded as they were not downwind from the radioactively contaminated Steart Flats or estuary rivers. The original estuary wards were clearly listed in the Green Audit paper.
SWPHO did not mention their redefinition of estuary wards in their press release criticising the Green Audit study, nor the use of a different band of dates which also made comparison meaningless.
Green Audit's research (3) was based on the hypothesis that particles blown downwind from the contaminated mud-flats would affect the health of infants, following their earlier research. Choosing to include upwind populations would dilute the figures.
The whole study period of the briefing was also different being 1995 to 2006 instead of 1993 to 2005 in the Green Audit report. This could dilute the figures too as Dr Busby's findings were driven by higher mortality rates in the earlier and middle years. Although SWPHO said they examined differing sets of years no correlating figures or examples were published.
SWPHO said the infant mortality rate in its redefined estuary wards compared to inland wards was just seven percent higher from 1995 to 2006 while Dr Busby had said it was almost three times the inland norm at 274 percent higher during a defined set of years from 1996 to 2001.
The SWPHO briefing does not publish the cause of infant deaths despite this being requested through the BBC 'Inside Out' programme on 29th February (4). This data would help ascertain whether radiation may be linked to the deaths eg through genetic defects or cancer.
Earlier studies have found extra breast cancer mortality and leukaemia in some of the estuary wards. (5)
A debate has sprung up on a local newspaper website following the SWPHO denial. (6)
Jim Duffy spokesman for Stop Hinkley said: "It seems perverse of the authorities to bring in populations less likely to be affected. This was bound to dilute Dr Busby's figures. What should happen now is a look at the big picture with a trustworthy study totting up the total risk of breast cancer, leukaemia and infant deaths occurring together in the same wards. Our guess is this would be statistically very high and further implicate Hinkley Point."
"It's unhelpful of the officials to say our research might cause unnecessary anxiety. If they're wrong the consequences are much greater. They should welcome this very detailed report which backs other research and anecdotal evidence."
Jim Duffy' Stop Hinkley Coordinator, 07968 974805