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Strange Events in September: Pressure on Swedish and UK Radiation Risk Scientists to Re-Evaluate Exposure Laws

This last year, 2017 has seen increasing pressure on the radiation protection apparatus of European countries which is now clearly imploding. This pressure is a consequence of the publication in the peer-review literature of scientific studies showing sharp and statistically significant increases in congenital malformations and genetic damage in children born after Chernobyl [1].

This represents “new and important evidence” that the radiation law in Europe, the EURATOM Basic Safety Standards Directive 96/29 requires addressing through a re-Justification process. Governments cannot justify laws which kill and deform large numbers of children. To add to this, it has now been discovered that the epidemiological study of the Japanese A-Bomb groups, which is the basis of the radiation exposure laws, was dishonestly manipulated by the removal of zero-dose comparison groups (those who were not in the cities at the time of the bomb) [2]. I am directing this show from various places on my white horse with a telescope to my eye, and with the assistance of other people in France, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the UK and other EU countries. Some developments (which I shall outline) are making me a bit nervous. I mean, there is a lot at stake here.

The EURATOM operation began in January 2017 with formal letters to the designated legal contacts in various EU States including the UK and Sweden, asking for re-Justification to be carried out, as the law requires. The responses were much as expected: but as it is the law, the risk agencies (termed National Competent Authority in Euratom parlance) eventually had to write something. In Sweden, I had actually to physically travel to the headquarters of the radiation protection authority, SSM (stralsakerhetsmyndigheten) to doorstep the Deputy Director Fredrik Hassel in order to get any response to the several letters Ditta Rietuma and I wrote. His response, in a signed letter (which thrice went astray in the post) was that it was not the job of the SSM, but somehow was the job of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) in Canada to do this. This is pure nonsense. ICRP has no legal status and the EURATOM law is quite clear that it is the member state that has to evaluate the data and re-justify exposures.

We complained to the Swedish Environment Ministry and the Swedish Justice Chancellor. Both refused to get involved. This happened in the Spring. But by the Summer I was asked to make a presentation on this issue to the Swedish Environmental Court in Nacka, a district of Stockholm. This was in relation to the proposed development of a high level nuclear waste repository at Forsmark, some 100 miles north of Stockholm, on the Baltic Sea. This is a truly insane plan to bury high level nuclear waste in copper (yes!) canisters in tunnels drilled sideways 500m under the Baltic Sea, already the most radioactive sea in the world. The private company that proposes this lunacy, SKB, argued in various environmental impact documents over the last 5 years, that there will be no contamination for 100,000 years (correct, 100,000 years!). Anyway, I had written various criticisms on behalf of the Swedish anti-nuclear outfits pointing out that the canisters would not last even 500 years, but this time I was there to raise the issue of the radiation risk model, the issue of the dead babies and congenital malformations after Chernobyl.

So, I arranged to stay in Stockholm for the week of the legal hearing presentations from 7th to 11th September, with an opportunity to respond to the responses from SKB. I bought a cheap EasyJet return flight from London Luton to Stockholm Arlanda on 7th and booked a cheap hotel for the week. The EasyJet return flight to was at 9.20pm on 11th. Note that.

But meanwhile, Richard Bramhall, who is on the BEIS (Dept of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) nuclear stakeholder group (where the government pretend to listen to the small forest animals), had managed to get the NGOs in this stakeholder dialogue to engineer a meeting where the radiation and health issues of concern to the NGOs (i.e. the public) were to be aired before the government’s scientific Committee On Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE). This meeting was ordered up originally by the Energy Minister Baroness Verma, but she disappeared and the project was endorsed by a new Minister, Richard Harrington. Harrington would attend to hear the exchanges, and the possibility of further meetings on “joint fact finding” was on the table.

COMARE was set up following the childhood leukemia cluster discovery near Sellafield in the 1980s because clearly Sir Douglas Black, who chaired the Sellafield enquiry, could not believe that the leukemias were not caused by the radiation and wanted a second opinion.   COMARE has remained ever since as a supposedly independent group, funded by the Department of Health, and quick to attack any suggestion that exposures from nuclear sites have any effect on health of local people. It always pops up and attacks any paper I write, several which are published in peer-review journals, though interestingly COMARE itself never publishes anything in peer review journals. These days most of the peer review journals send submissions in this area straight to me as a reviewer, and if they are dodgy, I recommend rejection. I have thrown out quite a few. COMAREs latest (non-reviewed)17th report finally concludes that the Sellafield child leukemias are caused by population mixing and an unknown virus, a view that earlier COMARE reports did not endorse (because there was no population mixing at Sellafield).

Anyway, back to the story. I was invited to give the NGO presentation on the 12th September at Church House, Westminster, just next to the Houses of Parliament, and convenient for Minister Harrington. BEIS bought me a flight from Stockholm to London Heathrow, and booked me into a hotel at Paddington. This was SAS flight 1527 leaving Arlanda Terminal 5 at 8.00pm. So, after giving my presentations and rebuttals at the Swedish Court, I went to Arlanda and checked in to the SAS flight. We boarded the plane at about 15 minutes before scheduled departure, but then the plane sat still for about an hour. Then the Captain said that the engine had broken down and we could not fly. We all disembarked. I had thought that something like this would happen. It was now about 9pm and I still had the faint possibility of taking the EasyJet flight at 9.20. I ran past all the disembarkees. We were let out at Arrivals, so had to queue to get past passport control: I would have had to go from Terminal 5 to Terminal 2 (about a kilometre or 2) to say nothing of all the baggage checks and X-rays. I ran to the head of the passport queue: how can I get to T2 quickly? Is it possible? Here the Goddess steps in: the Easyjet flight is delayed to 10.00pm. The friendly Swedish Passport cop said: you can get to T2 by running to the runway exit and pressing the green button for a bus.

So I run like mad with my suitcase and backpack to the exit. At this point, I notice someone running after me. In fact, I had registered being followed from the SAS plane by this guy, about 45, in a suit, no luggage, but a raincoat over his arm. I turn and ask him why he is running after me. I am trying to catch another flight, he replies. Public School English accent. Shiny black shoes, standard 1955 black and white B movie spy.  I press the green button. But it is the wrong green button: it is the emergency fire exit button. All the glass doors open and I run out onto the bit where the aircraft are. He comes after me. I collar a passing van to see if I can hitch a ride to Terminal 2. But all hell breaks loose. The airport security teams appear with flak jackets and guns and yellow reflective jackets. I explain that I am trying to get to Terminal 2, critical, meeting in London with Minister etc. They want to see my passport and boarding card. Where am I from? Bideford, Devon. They do the same for the spook. He is from London, shows his passport, looks sick. After a lot of radioing to and fro they call us a bus. Spook (who is avoiding me now) sits at the very back of the bus. I sit at the front. The trip to T2 takes 15 mins (long way) but the driver sets me down at the exact Gate for EasyJet. The spook exits running and rapidly disappears running. No baggage.

So, I get back to London at a million o’clock, there being (again Goddess) a National Express coach waiting at Luton airport. Cost is £10 cash. This is exactly all I have, otherwise only Kroner and Euros. Sets me down at Baker Street and I walk to Paddington. I fall into the hotel room and barricade the door with several chairs.

Next day is the big meeting. Lovely room. Wonderful sandwiches and food. Lots of unidentified people taking notes. I have emailed them my presentation 2h before the meeting so they can load it up on their encrypted system. 3 members of COMARE are there. The chair Dr Chris Gibson, a smiling character, no publications on radiation risk and two last minute attendees roped in, the ex-head of National Radiological Protection Board John Harrison and that guy from Bristol who attacked my Trawsfynydd study on the statistical power, but then found out he was wrong and backed off: Frank de Vocht. Quickest way to get on COMARE (assuming anyone wants to) is to attack Busby. It got Julia Verne the cancer registry woman at Hinkley Point onto COMARE. Wakeford is also on COMARE, my oldest attacker, he is necessary, and there he is. We know that these two Harrison and de Vocht were last minute additions because their place names are in felt tip–everyone else’s are printed.

COMARE has stipulated that it goes first. We hear the usual outline of what they are and what they do. Boring. One slip: Gibson says that no one on COMARE has or ever had any connection with the nuclear industry. In the question session that follows I ask him about Richard Wakeford. He changes his text—I must have been misunderstood, he says, I said that no one currently working for the nuclear industry. He did not. However, my attempt to tape the meeting was rapidly blocked by Matt Clarke, another government fireman.

And what about the Minister? Well, how sad—he couldn’t come, was detained by a 3-line whip due to an important vote in the Commons. Read out letter of apology. I later looked at Hansard and saw that there was no vote in the Commons that afternoon.

They never expected me to come. The flight was blocked somehow, but like Jason Bourne, having expected something of the sport, I evaded their operation running like Jason Bourne (maybe not quite—Matt Damon has a very odd running style) and dodging about on airport runways being chased by Our Man in Stockholm. Then they had to fall back on Plan B. Keep the Minister away, ban any recording of the presentation, root out a couple of COMARE stooges to keep up the appearance of listening.

And finally, COMARE stated quite clearly that they were not going to do anything about the evidence of dead babies and congenital malformation after Chernobyl given in 20 peer reviewed scientific papers. They didn’t have to, no-one important had asked them to, and they wouldn’t.

So that is where the situation is right now. Except that on 13th September, and not mentioned by COMARE or anyone in Sweden, a new 67-page paper on the health effects of low level radiation appeared in the Royal Society Proceedings B. This was produced by the “Oxford Martin School” and has as its authors all the usual suspects: Richard Wakeford (BNFL, CERRIE) Colin Muirhead (NRPB, CERRIE), Dudley Goodhead (Harwell, CERRIE), Mats Harms Ringdahl (who got up and attacked me in the Sweden court), Geraldine Thomas (Nuclear Test Veteran case), Alex Elliott (COMARE) et al. The Royal Society paper (like their one on Depleted Uranium but worse) is a monstrously biased and cherry-picked account of the scientific literature. It excludes any study that does not agree with its conclusions that the current risk model is correct. It was not sent to me to review. It was not sent to the NGOs to comment (although the text of the paper says it was). Sir John Beddington himself (who was the instigator of this operation according to Geraldine Thomas) had backed off. I phoned him in April 2016: nothing to do with me, he lied. Very wise. Their ship is sinking and they will all go down with it [3-6].

References

[1] Schmitz-Feuerhake, Busby C, Pflugbeil P  Genetic Radiation Risks-A Neglected Topic in the Low Dose Debate. Environmental Health and Toxicology.  2016. 31Article ID e2016001. .

[2] Busby Christopher. Invited Letter to the Editor on “The Hiroshima Nagasaki survivor studies. Discrepancies between results and general perception.” By Bernard R Jordan. Genetics. 2016; 204(4) 1627-1629

[4] Busby C (2017) Radiochemical Genotoxicity Risk and Absorbed Dose. Res Rep Toxi. Vol.1 No.1:1

[ 5] Busby C (2017) Radiochemical genotoxicity and absorbed dose. 9th Global Summit on Toxicology and applied Pharmacology. June 22-24 Paris France. Keynote presentation.

[6] Busby Christopher (2017) Child health and ionizing radiation: Science, Politics and European Law. Pediatric Dimensions. 2(3) 1-4 doi:10.15761/PD.1000150

 

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Dr Chris Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Riskand the author of Uranium and Health – The Health Effects of Exposure to Uranium and Uranium Weapons Fallout (Documents of the ECRR 2010 No 2, Brussels, 2010). For details and current CV see chrisbusbyexposed.org. For accounts of his work see greenaudit.orgllrc.org and nuclearjustice.org.

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