CERRIE Minority Report made simple

Committee Examining Radiation Risk of Internal Emitters (CERRIE)
Minority Report

The essential position after the Committee failed its remit

There is strong evidence that current models of hazard from radioactivity inside the human body underestimate risks by at least 100 and possibly up to 1000 times. The Low Level Radiation Campaign brought this to the Government’s attention and in 2001 Ministers set up CERRIE to investigate. LLRC was represented on the Committee. The Minority Report was published in September 2004 because last minute intimidation by Government lawyers excluded the LLRC’s dissenting views from the Committee’s final report.

Radiation “dose” is meaningless.

Safety standards for radioactivity in the environment are in meltdown. This is because the old idea of radiation “dose” as a whole body average is now seen to be nonsense, like thinking a cigarette burn couldn’t hurt because a nice warm bath would transfer more heat to your whole body. Some types of radioactive substance, once embedded in body tissue, irradiate the few cells near them, treatening mutation, while the rest of the body gets no dose. Plutonium particles are the extreme example. The CERRIE Majority Report accepts that dose is sometimes meaningless. Even the International Commission on Radiological Protection admits it.

This is a problem for official bodies like the Environment Agency because they depend solely on “dose” to quantify risk. If dose is meaningless they can not reassure the public about the risks of radioactive discharges, or recycling and incinerating contaminated materials, or the use of Depleted Uranium weapons.

The nuclear mafia’s fallback is: Ok, dose is meaningless but it doesn’t make any difference; there’s no evidence that radioactivity in the environment is any more dangerous than we always said. In fact there’s plenty of evidence, as we show in the Minority Report. The persistent excess of childhood leukaemia near Sellafield is an example; doses were 300 times too small to cause the number of cases found. The sharp increase in infant leukaemia in several countries after Chernobyl demonstrates a similar error.

The nuclear project cannot function without freedom to dump and pollute. That’s why the Government had to keep our statements out of an official report. Its Majority Report denies the evidence of a large error but it concludes that scientific uncertainties could mean risks have been underestimated. Ironically, CERRIE’s “uncertainties” are so big (many thousands - read the report, not the spin!) that the 300-fold error looks quite modest (see New Scientist letters 11th September 2004).

In the short time since the Majority and Minority Reports were published, scientific journals have published even more evidence; cancer rates in north Sweden and Belarus have risen by 40% since Chernobyl. The conventional risk model says any increased cancer risk wouldn’t happen until 2006 at the earliest and it would be undetectably small anyway. So the authorities ignore it.

So it's a matter of what you believe:
Do you believe the Seascale cluster is caused by radiation from Sellafield?
If you believe it was, then you believe
  • EITHER that BNFL discharged 300 times more radioactivity than anyone thought,
  • OR that risk models underestimate the dangers of internal contamination by a factor of 300.
If you believe it was not caused by radiation from Sellafield, then what do you believe did cause it? (it's lasted so long that it cannot be a random event, not even in Douglas Adams's Hitch-hiker's Guide galaxy).
Sorry if you were looking for certainty - the CERRIE Majority Report says there isn't any; we say there is.

The CERRIE Minority Report - essential reading for people interested in any aspect of the nuclear project.
£25 (concessions £5)

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Low Level Radiation Campaign,
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