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To stop any more of these, we must attack the scientific deception that underlies the industry. Nuclear power station, Wylfa, Wales. Photo: Jeremy WILLIAMS via Flickr (CC BY-NC).
To stop any more of these, we must attack the scientific deception that underlies the industry. Nuclear power station, Wylfa, Wales. Photo: Jeremy WILLIAMS via Flickr (CC BY-NC).
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Stopping Europe's nuclear industry in its tracks: here's how

Christopher Busby

28th November 2016

Article 6 of the Euratom Treaty provides for nuclear industry practices to be rejustified in the light of new scientific evidence of harm to health, writes Chris Busby. We now have that evidence, in particular that radiation exposure even at very low levels causes severe and heritable genetic damage to people and entire families. Now, we must use the law to protect our health from radiation!

To keep risks for the public from nuclear activities within acceptable limits will require huge reductions in radiation releases, which will be either impossible, or impossibly expensive, for the nuclear industry to achieve.

It has been increasingly clear that the radioactivity released to the global environment over the last 50 years has caused the deaths of tens of millions and caused serious genetic harm to all life.

At the same time, it is also clear that the central issue is one of science, and the manipulation of evidence by scientists employed by the military and governments to twist evidence and provide dishonest analysis of real data.

I took up the science in 1990, and since then have watched the accumulating peer-reviewed published evidence that the radiation model underpinning legislation become impossible to sustain. Yet nothing has been done.

The remedy is in the law. In the last ten years I have, as an expert witness, successfully argued the position in more than 20 cases in the USA. And this year I put the evidence into the High Court in London on behalf of the atomic test veterans. After 19 weeks we still haven't heard a Decision.

But we can together, you and me, use the current European and UK law to force the government to admit that the current radiation risk model is wildly incorrect. This will result in a new model reflecting the real dangers of radiation exposures, and internal exposures in particular, which are around 1,000 more dangerous than currently acknowledged.

To keep risks for the public from nuclear activities within acceptable limits will require huge reductions in radiation releases, which will be either impossible, or impossibly expensive, for the nuclear industry to achieve.

It will knock Hinkley Point, Wylfa, Moorside, Bradwell and all the UK's other nuclear energy plans on the head. It will have fatal effects on the military, revealing as it will the intolerable hazards of nuclear weapons, reactors in submarines, the disposal of nuclear waste. The list is long.

Nuclear practices must be rejustified in the light of new evidence

In 1998 Alice Stewart, Rosalie Bertell, Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake, Alexey Yablokov and I were invited by the Irish Green Party MEPs to advise the European Parliament on the then new EURATOM Basic Safety Standards (BSS) Directive 96/29.

As a result of our input, a seemingly innocuous clause was added to the BSS Draft and subsequently adopted as item 6(2) below. This Trojan Horse clause was in Article 6, which states:

"1. Member States shall ensure that all new classes or types of practice resulting in exposure to ionising radiation are justified in advance of being adopted or first approved by their economic social or other benefits in relation to the health detriment they cause.

2. Existing classes or types of practice may be reviewed as to Justification whenever new and important evidence about their efficacy or consequences is acquired."

This Justification clause was later transposed into UK law as the Statutory Instrument 2004 No 1769: 'Justification of Practices involving Ionising Radiation Regulations 2004', which states under 'Review of Existing Practices':

"10 (1) A person may apply to the Justifying Authority to review an existing class or type of practice if one of the conditions set out in Paragraph (4) is satisfied. [...]

10 (4)(a) new and important evidence about its efficacy or consequences is acquired."

Now this is what my lawyers call 'Black Letter Law' - law that is hard-set in legislation and does not depend on complex arguments and citing of precedents. And note the wording. First, the 'Justifying Authority', second, 'A person'. That means (1) there is a convenient central target; and (2) any person can request it to act.

The more recent version of the EURATOM Directive (2103/59) actually hardens this up: "Existing classes or types of practice SHALL be reviewed as to Justification ..."

Try, try and try again ...

In 2012 Ditta Rietuma and I decided to start using this BSS 96/29 clause and the new and important evidence which had been emerging from Chernobyl and from Uranium effects. We created a campign website at nuclearjustice.org and published various versions of a European Parliament Petition for people to fill out, adapt and send to the EU Petitions Committee in Brussels.

Perhaps 1,000 petitions were sent. But nothing happened. It emerged that although this was a European Directive, the Justifying Authority was not in Brussels. Instead, governments of member states, or bodies set up by them, were the justifying authorities. So our campaign was directed at the wrong target.

This led us to formulate a new version of this Justification Campaign which the Low Level Radiation Campaign is launching now. We are taking the issue to the Member State governments, beginning with the UK and Sweden.

Justification means (very crudely) that the government must balance the advantages to society of any radiation practice against its health effects. This is currently done by calculating the number of cancers that would follow from the doses using the methodology of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).

But this methodology is wrong and systematically understates the real dangers of nuclear radation, as demonstrated by a great deal of new and important evidence. This formed part of the draft Petitions on the nuclearjustice.org website.

We have changed the focus of our 'new and important evidence' away from cancer and on to congenital damage: major serious heritable effects in offspring of those parents exposed to internal radionuclide contamination. This is because:

  1. Cancer has always been used as the measure of the health impacts of radiation, but it is easier for the pro-nuclear scientists to dismiss the evidence because the gap between exposure and expression is very large, tens of years.
  2. ICRP coefficients for heritable genetic damage are (absurdly) based on experiments with mice, because ICRP (also absurdly) does not concede that humans show any radiogenic heritable effects.
  3. There is abundant and incontrovertible evidence from the families of nuclear bomb test veterans that the genetic damage caused by radiation exposure is real, serious and heritable through multiple generations.


Government must 'rejustify' nuclear energy

We ask the government to re-Justify nuclear energy. And I ask you all to do the same thing, or if you like, focus on your chosen 'practice' (Hinkley Point, Trawsfynydd, Wylfa, Depleted Uranium weapons, nuclear energy in general, Aldermaston releases, Kingscliffe, Plymouth, Holy Loch, the list is long).

You only have to be 'a person'. If you want help in drafting your request, we will give it. Contact lowradcampaign@gmail.com

The letter below was sent recorded delivery this month to the UK's Justification Authority and copied to the Minister. Our next port of call will be Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex which I will write about separately.

I hope you will all come on board in this project to employ current law to stop all releases of these dangerous radionuclides to the environment and save all life on earth from further damage to the collective genome.

 


 

Justification Application Centre (JAC)
Mezzanine
55 Whitehall Place
London SW1A 2EY.

And by email to justification_application_centre@decc.gsi.gov.uk

cc:

Rt Hon Greg Clark MP,
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
1 Victoria Street
London

And by email to enquiries@bis.gsi.gov.uk

8th November 2016

Justification of radiation exposures of members of the public and workers: review of existing practices.

New and important information.

Dear Sir / Madam,

Under Article 6.2 of the Council Directive 96/29/Euratom of 13 May 1996 and the Justification of Practices Involving Ionising Radiation Regulations 2004 Part 3 Regulation 10: 'Review of existing practices', paragraph 4(a) 'acquisition of new and important evidence about [the] efficacy or consequences of a practice' I hereby request a review of the Secretary of State's Decision:

'Regulatory Justification of the Class or Type of Practice being': "The generation of electricity from nuclear energy using oxide fuel of low enrichment in fissile content in a light water cooled, light water moderated thermal reactor currently known as the EPR designed by AREVA NP." hereinafter 'the Decision'.1

The evidence I submit bears particularly on the consequences of the practice defined in Paragraph 1.7 of the Decision in terms of 'detriment to health, safety and the environment'.

The evidence contradicts the Secretary of State's assertions in para 1.7

  • that the potential detriment is small [and] well understood;
  • that the established regulatory regime ... actively and effectively works to keep detriments within acceptable limits;
  • that the risk of health detriment from the building and operation of EPRs in the UK is very low.

The evidence contradicts an implicit assumption made by the Secretary of State in the following passage from para 1.7:

"As a proportion of the overall radiation to which members of the public are exposed from all sources, including natural sources, the evidence he has reviewed suggests that the contribution from any EPR would be very small."

The implicit assumption being that that the risk of health detriment is necessarily proportional in a linear fashion to the overall radiation to which members of the public are exposed from all sources, including natural sources.

Similarly, the evidence contradicts the assumption that

"the radiation dose which members of the public would receive from the normal operation of an EPR on an annual basis would be below detectable risk levels in the context of overall radiation exposure."

New and important evidence on the safety of the radiation risk model upon which EU Directives and domestic regulation depend.

Background

The issue of the genotoxic hazard from internal radionuclides was considered sufficiently important for Environment Minister Michael Meacher and Health Ministers Yvette Cooper to set up the Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (CERRIE) in 2001. Mr Meacher was removed from office before CERRIE completed its deliberations and two agreed joint studies which would have assisted the process were cancelled. The final report was not agreed by all the members.

Since CERRIE new and important evidence which informs this issue has been published in the peer-review literature.

1. Evidence for the failure of the Hiroshima Studies.

Directives in the European Union and Regulations in the UK depend upon cancer risk factors published by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, an independent NGO. These risk factors are based primarily on the doses and cancer yield of the Japanese Lifespan Study (LSS).

This epidemiological study was set up to depend upon comparison of exposed and unexposed individuals and the cancer yield in those exposed compared with unexposed controls. Forensic examination of the methodology and decisions made over the period of the study reveals that significant errors were introduced which resulted in incorrect conclusions being drawn.

In particular it appears that the original control group, those who were not in the city at the time of the bombing, was discarded in 1973 when it appeared that their inclusion was suggesting a high level of cancer in the exposed groups. Furthermore, evidence presented in the Royal Courts of Justice in the Pensions Appeals Tribunal (Abdale and Others vs. Secretary of State for Defence; June 13th 2016) showed that all the epidemiological groups were exposed to rainout and subsequent contamination of the city by Uranium nanoparticles. The LSS study did not address internal contamination resulting from inhalation of the nanoparticles.

New evidence which has emerged since CERRIE reported in 2004 demonstrates that exposure to Uranium particulates carries levels of genetic hazard which are not incorporated into the ICRP risk model. The matter is outlined in a letter which has been accepted for publication by a leading peer-review journal and will be printed in December 2016.

2. Evidence of genetic damage leading to heritable effects in those exposed to Chernobyl fallout in Europe.

A review of evidence relating to the genetic effects of chronic internal exposure to contamination from the Chernobyl accident was published in a leading peer-review journal in January 2016 [Schmitz-Feuerhake et al., 2016]. It examined the considerable evidence relating to increases in congenital defects and other heritable conditions in Chernobyl-exposed individuals but also discussed other situations where significant excess risk was shown to exist in offspring of exposed parents.

The current ICRP radiation risk factor for such effects is obtained from mice because the LSS study (above) was unable to find any heritable effects in children of the exposed groups. However we now see that the chosen comparison groups were unsafe for the purposes of obtaining evidence of harm (see 1 above).

The aggregated evidence presented in Schmitz-Feuerhake et al 2016 demonstrates unequivocally an error in the current risk factor for heritable defects of approximately 1000-fold. It shows that heritable defects occur in offspring of those exposed to internal doses of less than 10mSv and furthermore that the dose response is not linear, as assumed by the ICRP and current legislation.

3. The ethical basis of the ICRP and regulations which depend on it.

EU Directives and UK Regulations which control radiation exposures encapsulate a decision to tolerate low levels of risk of cancer and genetic damage.

The current 1mSv annual dose limit for members of the public enshrined in EU Council Directive 96/29/Euratom and its successor 2013/59/Euratom is based on a permitted level of absolute cancer risk of 1 in 1 million. The current relative cancer risk factor of the ICRP is about 0.5 per Sievert. Thus an exposure of 1 mSv carries with it an excess risk of 0.5/1000 or 1 in 2000. This is considered acceptable to Society.

Regarding heritable damage, the current doubling dose published by the ICRP and agreed also by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation UNSCEAR is 1Sv. Thus an annual dose of 1mSv, the limit for effective dose for public exposures under Directive 2013/59euratom, carries an excess risk of 1 in 500 of heritable effects in the offspring of parents exposed. This is considered to be acceptable as a side effect of the agreed development of nuclear technology.

The new and important evidence referred to above shows that this factor is in error by approximately 1000-fold when applied to internal chronic exposures. This issue is relevant to releases of radioactivity from nuclear plant and other sources, to contamination of the sea and watercourses, and other releases which are currently controlled on the basis of the 1mSv level. The issue may be less relevant to external exposures from X-rays or other external sources.

4. CERRIE

The disagreements which were documented in the CERRIE majority and minority reports and evidence which was brought forward by the various members of the committee can reasonably be revisited in the light of new evidence which has emerged since then; this evidence includes but is not restricted to the above.

5. Evidence presented during consultation leading to the Decision

This submission is made without prejudice to any future challenge to the Decision which may reference advice from Health Protection Agency (HPA) reproduced in Annexes E and F of the Decision.

 


 

References:

Schmitz-Feuerhake, Busby C, Pflugbeil P, 'Genetic Radiation Risks - A Neglected Topic in the Low Dose Debate'. Environmental Health and Toxicology. 2016. 31 Article ID e2016001. http://dx.doi.org/10.5620/eht.e2016001

1 gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/47936/666-decision-EPR-nuclear-reactor.pdf

 

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