[ RadSafe ] FW: Horizon: Nuclear Nightmares

Falo, Gerald A Dr KADIX Jerry.Falo at us.army.mil
Tue Jul 18 07:52:01 CDT 2006

>From the Low Level Radiation Campaign mailing list.

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Gerald A. Falo, Ph.D., CHP
Kadix Systems 
U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine - Health
Physics Program
jerry.falo at us.army.mil
DSN: 584-4852


From: Richard Bramhall [mailto:bramhall at llrc.org] 
Sent: Tuesday, July 11, 2006 6:32 PM
To: info llrc
Subject: Horizon: Nuclear Nightmares

Horizon: Nuclear Nightmares. BBC Two, 9.00 p.m. Thursday 13th July
(United Kingdom)

A lot of people have, understandably, been outraged at the advance spin
on this documentary (see, e.g. Monday's 10th July Times

The programme apparently will offer up as "new" (The Times says) the
idea that there is a threshold dose below which radiation doesn't cause
harm. We read that it "may even be beneficial" and that "Evidence ...
has convinced experts that the risks of radiation follow a much more
complex pattern than predicted."

We certainly agree that dose/response curves are complex. The reason for
the complexity is that more than 50 years ago the American National
Committee on Radiological Protection adopted a grossly simplistic
concept of "dose" as an average of energy deposited into body tissue.
This model was based on external irradiation, with which they were
familiar since it was what they had been dealing with for decades in the
search for adequate standards for regulating X-rays. It wasn't too
difficult to extend that simple physics-based model to the external
irradiation from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, and it was convenient
to assume that radioactivity inside the body could be understood as if
it were external - an approach which fails to account properly for the
huge variations in energy distribution from different kinds of
radioactivity. Even in 1952 Karl Z. Morgan, who was responsible for the
NCRP sub-committee on internal radioactivity, refused to agree that
internal could be dealt with like external. His sub-committee was closed
down and for the rest of his life he was a critic of the NCRP and its
successor the International Commission on Radiological Protection - "I
feel like a father who is ashamed of his children." All this happened
before the structure of DNA was discovered and long before biological
responses like genomic instability, the bystander effect and
microinflammation were even suspected. For these reasons all competent
authorities now recognise that for many internal exposures "dose" is a
virtually meaningless term, so it is irritating to see propaganda like
The Times report still using it; inhaled particles of reactor fuel
cannot be compared with chest X-rays. One size does not fit all. 


It is appalling to see WHO denying the reality of life post-Chernobyl,
but we must bear in mind that their minds are clouded by the ICRP
dose/risk model and by the International Atomic Energy Agency's power of
vetoing any WHO research on radiation and health. In their crazed world
the risk model predicts no discernible health impact because doses
(whatever "dose" may mean) from Chernobyl fallout were too small - a
maximum of twice natural background. When there is an all-too-observable
impact (e.g. 30% increase in cancer in Belarus in ten post-Chernobyl
years or a similar increase in northern Sweden) they say it must be
caused by something else rather than inferring that the risk model is
wrong. Their science and their epidemiology are like two drunks holding
each other up - a temporary marvel!

For an alternative view see http://www.euradcom.org
<http://www.euradcom.org/>  and the European Committee on Radiation
Risk's volume Chernobyl: 20 Years On. ECRR has summarised thousands of
Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian studies. Scientists and clinicians in
those regions are reporting a melt-down in human health. Studies of
animals and plants show genetic defects transmitted over 22 generations,
although plants don't suffer from radiophobia. There is a flyer on

In 2004 LLRC summarised about 100 of these Russian language studies for
the CERRIE Minority Report: they are on our site at


The BBC documentary "Nuclear Nightmares" looks as if it will be
propaganda intended to soften us up for a new round of nuclear power
stations. We have raised this with the series producer and we shall be
watching to see if the programme or the series complies with the rules
of the Office of Communications. Rule 5.5. says  "Due impartiality on
matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to
current public policy must be preserved [...]  This may be achieved
within a programme or over a series of programmes taken as a whole." 


We have obtained calculations of the health impact of replacing the
present nuclear power generating capacity with new nuclear build. These
are based on the ECRR's 2003 Recommendations and will be the subject of
a separate circular. 


We don't feel worried by the UK Government's announcement today. Nuclear
power stations cannot operate without discharge licences, but the
scientific debate over radiation risk has reached such a point that any
decision to emit radioactivity will be subject to legal challenge.
That's the point at which the drunks will hit the pavement.


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