Radioactive Times. Vol.4 No 2
Standing Conference starts to strut
15th Standing Conference on Low Level Radiation and Health
NAG made a fine job of organising this year's Standing Conference in Reading, and it was matched by what RaT perceives as a growing confidence and sense of purpose.
Jill Sutcliffe's usual competent summary and the Proceedings (1) published by NAG show that the loose community which comes together each July (invariably sacrificing wonderful weather) is far from running out of things to say. There were a hundred participants, and fully half of them were still going hammer and tongs at the final Plenary where the Resolutions were endorsed (these figures must be records). And what is revealed by the resolutions, and by the copious workshop recommendations (these are published too), is that this community is fully aware of the weaknesses in the official approach to radiation protection and the strength of the evidence that the standard models are wrong, that it's outraged by the international conspiracy to cover up what has happened to health after Chernobyl, and above all is determined to kick the relevant arses.
There are calls for protest about the repression of radiation researchers Bandazhevski and Nesterenko in Belarus,
for proper decontamination of nuclear sites,
a ban on depleted Uranium,
and an end to the shabby 1957 deal by which the International Atomic Energy Agency is allowed to stop the World Health Organisation undertaking radiation research.
Having heard both Ian Fairlie and ICRP's Chairman Roger Clarke address (from opposite sides) the idea of dropping Collective Dose, Conference also demanded that ICRP retain some means of identifying and quantifying how much damage radioactive pollution can do to populations, as opposed to ICRP's big new fudge of assuming that if the most exposed individual is adequately protected, then everyone else must be ok too. (The reader may, unfortunately, miss Fairlie's very succinct paper - it's only one side of A4)
... and more
Notwithstanding the very full programme there was time for the nine workshops to be reported to the final plenary, discussed and amended. The Recommendations from this process show that the workshoppers had given a great deal of thought to the conference theme - the Primacy of Public and Environmental Health. They are worth reading, for they amount to what could be a useful long-term strategy for NGOs to carry on opening up the fisherman's bait box.
challenging the secrecy surrounding officially collected cancer data,
and promoting citizens' epidemiology as a counterpoise;
promoting a public information campaign to alert people to the real risks of low level radiation (LLRC is glad about this - we could do with some help);
legal protection and support for whistle blowers.
The existence of bias in scientific advice to government was recognised, and there was support for a UK Citizens' Institute for Environmental Health, and an open court-room style of weighing evidence (see I don't know much about science, but .... for an account of a Green Audit paper which was discussed at Reading).
In a workshop attended by Roger Clarke, of Chairman of ICRP and Director NRPB the idea of increasing (or, rather, initiating) accountability in the risk agencies was strongly advocated, along with some radical ideas on fresh areas of research. A separate workshop looked at IAEA's and WHO's roles in the same field.
There were ideas for a range of measures to open up and democratise the local weapons establishments,
support for the Nuclear Free Local Authorities network,
and opposition to Star Wars.
Discussing workshop proposals:
from left Cat Euler, Solange Fernex, Jaswan Chaney.
For a full account of the Conference Plenary sessions RaT is glad to refer the reader to the existing accounts. But we must refer to Roger Clarke's contribution and its sequel. It's not a minor detail - Jill's report mentions it, and it was picked up immediately by John Large in his entertaining end-of-conference summary.
Referring to the effects of Chernobyl Clarke said that the increase in thyroid cancer was established but that there was no evidence of an increase in leukaemia. Carol Barton, who has now retired as a consultant haematologist and had earlier given the Alice Stewart Lecture on childhood leukaemia in west Berkshire, returned to the conference the next day to say that she had found a paper (2) which shows a 45% increase in children in the region extending over 10 years after the accident. Disinformation rules, said someone.
LLRC's Chris Busby later added that not only did he have a paper (3) published in the previous month's issue of Energy and Environment showing a statistically very significant peak in infant leukaemia in five countries after Chernobyl, but that the paper by Parkin (4) on which the establishment habitually relies to deny the impact of Chernobyl on this disease did, in fact, find an increase in childhood leukaemia on the border of statistical significance, as well as an overall 10% increase between 1981 - 1991.Parkin says that the general increase doesn't show a steplike change so it can't be attributed to the Chernobyl fallout, said Busby. This is bogus reasoning - the range of exposures was so great that there would not have been any steplike change. These people are crooks.
How is it possible for people like Clarke, whose actions, or inactions, could destroy the lives of millions, to talk such crap and get away with it? Ignorance might excuse him, but that would indicate a system breakdown - NRPB has epidemiologists and librarians and a press department.
Aren't these people keeping an eye on the literature for relevant material? If not, why not? How much are they being paid, and what for?
Or did Clarke just think he could pull the wool? The fact that he could be so quickly and convincingly refuted by a bunch of campaigners is evidence of other but worse system failures - lack of accountability and dereliction of inductive scientific method.
One could not find neater and more timely evidence of the need to reform NRPB in the way the Conference has demanded.
LLRC doesn't know whether anyone has contacted Clarke to put him right, but just in case all this has still got past him, we'll send him this issue of RaT.
If RaT has any gripe about the Conference, it is that we'd would like to see more time given for grilling speakers.
The Proceedings could be a source of some confusion about the identities of the Low Level Radiation Campaign and the Standing Conference on Low Level Radiation and Health itself.
There is no formal link between the two - the problem is that the English language for once doesn't have enough synonyms to go round and we have to share. We have been "LLRC" for eight or nine years, and it would be tough if we had to change - it would involve re-incorporation, for a start, and then rebranding, and more hassle with the Charity Commission.
As we understand it SCLLR&H has no permanent corporeal reality, but is reborn year after year (how Buddhist, how unlike the plodding, earthbound LLRC) with different organisers, new financial support, and new bank accounts. In the meantime Jill Sutcliffe takes responsibility for being guardian angel, midwife, and resus unit. Is that right, Jill?
We hear that the next Conference is to be in Manchester or Yorkshire.
Contact Dr Cat Euler firstname.lastname@example.org phone 01943 468593 (UK).
References and notes:
1. Proceedings - £10 from NAG, 8 Langborough Road, Wokingham, RG40 2BT
2. Moroc G, Drocdova V: Journal of the European Association of Haematologists Vol 1 Supp 1. 2000.
3. Busby, C. Scott Cato, M. 2000 Increases in Leukemia in Infants in Wales and Scotland Following Chernobyl: Evidence for Errors in Statutory Risk Estimates. Energy and Environment Vol. 11 2000, No. 2 127-139
4. Parkin et al. 1996 Childhood leukaemia in Europe after Chernobyl: 5 year follow-up BJC (1996) 73 1006-1012
LLRC's Compendium says more about this paper: Outrageous epidemiology, a boundary looseners' jamboree, full of flaws:- The entire population of Europe was allocated to only three dose bands, despite intense local variability of deposition (e.g. up to 30-fold variations in Baden-Wurttemburg) internal dose not known as dose bands were constructed from Caesium gamma monitoring; selection of inappropriate time periods; confounders ignored - wide variation in genetic, dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors, rural/ urban split.
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