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Wales goes radioactive

An HTV documentary [1] revealed that child leukaemia rates in the Welsh seaside town of Caernarfon are 28 times the UK average. This cluster is twice as strong as that in the village of Seascale near the Sellafield nuclear waste reprocessing plant.

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There are other clusters all along the radioactively-contaminated Menai Strait (the channel separating the island of Anglesey from the Welsh mainland). Overall, child leukaemia is nearly eight times higher than the UK average, brain and spinal cancer five times higher, and the rare eye cancer retinoblastoma five to fifteen times higher. Retinoblastoma has been linked to radioactivity since a 20-fold excess was found in the children of Sellafield workers.

The precise source of radioactive contamination has yet to be established, but is most likely to be from dust blown ashore from mudflats radioactively polluted by the Sellafield or Hinckley B nuclear plants.

This and raised cancer rates the length of the Irish Sea coast (both side) show yet again that COMARE and SAHSU, [2] the two 'watch dogs' tasked to monitor cancer clusters, are not fulfilling their remits, and should be disbanded. It also shows that the science to which they and the International Committee on Radiological Protection cling is simply wrong, and must be reviewed.

Specifically, currently accepted science:

  • does not cover the effects of exposure to long term low level radiation
  • ignores the way radioactive discharges are unevenly distributed by local geography, prevailing winds and tides
  • uses a completely inappropriate statistical technique called Bayesian Smoothing which actually smudges the data and hides clusters
  • does not take into account the internal effects of inhaled radioactive particles (ed.- often as small as PM1s, which cannot escape the lungs once inside)

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(i) The Low Level Radiation Campaign is particularly puzzled by COMARE’s failure to investigate why the recently established Welsh Cancer Intelligence Unit wiped a large number of cancer cases from the Welsh Cancer Registry, in some cases going back 20 years.

(ii) For the full story and an analysis of the Caernarfon findings visit: www.llrc.org. The Irish Sea is said by some to be the most radioactively-polluted sea in the world.


[1] Byd ar Bedwar. S4C 10.2.04
[2] The Committee of the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment and the Small Area Health Statistics Unit

(10204) Richard Bramhall. Low Level Radiation Campaign 10.2.04