Betreff: UK Parliament Science Committee Chairman supports call for COMARE closure
Von: "Richard Bramhall"
Datum: Fri, 5 Nov 2004 14:54:49 -0000
An: <"Undisclosed-Recipient:;"@smtp.enta.net>

UK Parliament Science Committee Chairman supports call for COMARE closure

 

Today the House of Commons Early Day Motion 1548, which calls for the closure of COMARE (the Government's Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment) reached 82 signatures. One of the newest signatories is Dr. Ian Gibson, Chairman of the Commons Science and Technology Committee and Vice-President of the Royal Society's Committee for the Public Understanding of Science.

 

Richard Bramhall of LLRC says: "Dr. Gibson is one of the very few scientifically literate politicians. His signature must be seen as a strong indicator of declining confidence in COMARE's competence and in the suitability of its remit, membership and secretariat." (see notes for extracts from Dr Gibson's entry in Dodds, text of the EDM and links to relevant pages of the Observer and Guardian (hot links are on www.llrc.org).

 

This development follows a recent exchange of letters and articles in the Observer and Guardian in which the Chairs of COMARE and CERRIE (Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters) attacked ex-Environment Minister Michael Meacher. Meacher set up CERRIE in 2001 and put down EDM 1548 in July 2004.

Meacher has insisted that evidence laid before CERRIE has been suppressed, leading to publication of a Minority Report written by Dr Chris Busby of Green Audit, Richard Bramhall of LLRC, and Dr Paul Dorfman, who was a member of CERRIE's Secretariat.

 

Meacher insists (Counting the Dead, Guardian Comment & Analysis 22 October 2004) "There is already strong evidence that the standard model is flawed because it cannot explain the facts which have been uncovered in the past two decades. It assumes, for example, that cancer risk is strictly proportional to dose. But the mounting evidence from studies in Germany, Belarus, Greece, Scotland and Wales, and from dozens of studies in Russia, which have examined the sharp increase in leukaemia among babies in Europe in the two years after Chernobyl, indicates that this is wrong.

The nuclear industry explains that the increase would be expected on the basis of the radiation those babies received while their mothers were pregnant, and they take as the benchmark an increase in risk of up to 40% where the dose from obstetric x-rays is 10,000 microsieverts. However, babies in Greece received only 200 microsieverts from the Chernobyl fallout, yet infant leukaemia there jumped by 160%. Babies in Germany received only 100 microsieverts, yet the increase was 48%. Clearly the standard model used by the nuclear industry and regulators is faulty." (He makes the same point in Observer letters 31st October)

 

Meacher and Dorfman have pointed out that the criticisms made by Professors Bridges and Goodhead were wrong in fact. Bramhall observed (Guardian letters 26th October) that the polemics deflect attention away from the science. He highlighted the fact that the CERRIE committee, of which he  was a member, was split four ways on the infant leukaemia issue which Meacher addressed. "In defiance of the committee's remit there is no explanation of why opinions were so divergent." "Cerrie was a brave attempt at a new, open and balanced way of gathering scientific advice. It incorporated strongly divergent views, so reporting was never going to be easy. The next attempt must not be allowed to descend into polemics." (Guardian letters 26th October) "By "next attempt"", Bramhall says, "I meant CHEIR, the Committee on Health Effects of Ionising Radiation which is what EDM 1548 explicitly calls for."

 

Notes:

Dodds on line shows that Dr Gibson is Honorary Vice-President Royal Society Committee for Public Understanding of Science. Other affiliations: Warwick University Faculty of Science Advisory Board; Non-Executive Director Institute of Food Research; ESRC Science in Society Advisory Committee; ESRC Innogen Centre Advisory Committee; Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Text of Early Day Motion 1548 INVESTIGATION INTO THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF IONISING RADIATION (This was put down in July 2004. Its progress has been hampered by intervening summer and conference recesses. It will fall when Parliament is prorogued in the next few weeks)

"That this House notes a serious excess of childhood cancer and leukaemia recently discovered around the Menai Strait in North Wales, which appears associated with evidence near those parts of the coast of contamination with radioactivity; further notes that in 1983 the Independent Advisory Group chaired by the late Sir Douglas Black was established to investigate and advise on Yorkshire Television's discovery of an excess of leukaemia in children living on the Cumbrian coast near Sellafield, and that in 1984 the Black IAG recommended a centralised system for monitoring health data to give early warning; is concerned that the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) based at Imperial College in London has no power of independent investigation and did not find the excess leukaemia and cancer on the Menai Strait; is further concerned that the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE), set up on the recommendation of the Black IAG, did not find the excess leukaemia and cancer on the Menai Strait and has not identified a cause of the excess in Cumbria, and has strictly limited powers of independent investigation; and calls on the Government to disband SAHSU and to replace COMARE with a Committee on the Health Effects of Ionising Radiation with a neutral chair, a full-time civil service secretariat, a budget sufficient to permit independent research, and a membership, paid for their work on the Committee and which represents all shades of relevant scientific opinion."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1332969,00.html - article  Counting the Dead, Guardian 22nd October 2004

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,1334680,00.html - CERRIE and COMARE Chairmen reported in Observer 24th Oct.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,1335196,00.html - a further personal attack by Professor Goodhead in the Guardian 25th Oct.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,1335826,00.html - A CERRIE member and the commissioning minister reply concentrating on the science Guardian 26th Oct.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,1336546,00.html - CERRIE Chairman ignores the science and tries again to impugn Meacher. Guardian 27th Oct.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,1337415,00.html – Everyone joins in; Guardian 28th Oct.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,6903,1340151,00.html - Meacher replies Observer 31st October.

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Richard Bramhall
Low Level Radiation Campaign
bramhall@llrc.org
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