PRESS RELEASE - 19 April 2011

Stop Hinkley supporter denounces SAGE & urges adoption of ECRR risk model

A Stop Hinkley member has criticised the government body handling the Fukushima crisis – SAGE (Scientific Advice Group in Emergencies) [1] – by continuing to minimise the impact and underplay the health risks.

The supporter expressed unease about the calibre of advice coming from SAGE stating “within days of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan and crippled the nuclear reactors at Fukushima , concerns were being expressed about the quality of SAGE'S advice.”

"When I heard Sir John Beddington, the UK 's Chief Scientific Adviser and Chairman of SAGE, on the radio I became enraged at what he was saying.” she said. All of the reactors suffered a loss of cooling mechanisms and went on to be rocked by a series of explosions and other problems. “He was so laid back I was half expecting him to go on and say that TEPCO should call a plumber!"

"Anyone with any common sense could see that it was more serious than the picture he was giving of ‘a small risk of a small amount of exposure' ", she continued, "I had already sent a flurry of emails to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office telling them to evacuate our nationals from Japan, so Sir John's comments were totally unacceptable I felt.”

The government's civil contingencies' website claims that the work of the Governments Chief Adviser (John Beddington) and the Government Science Office is "to ensure that all these stages are underpinned across Government by strong science - whether research or advice". One has to question whether advice being offered by John Beddington and his SAGE panel, is based on rhetoric rather than research.

Ministers were later described as also being ‘spooked' in the media by Sir John's ‘misinformation' and ordered the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice to be changed themselves. [2]

In advice given to British nationals residing in China on the 18 th March, SAGE claimed that it was “wholly wrong” to compare Fukushima to Chernobyl (they have now hastily removed this statement from their website). [3] Since then, SAGE have continued to underplay the risks in their analyses.

Given that less than a month later it is becoming clear that not only is Fukushima ranked as 7 on the INES scale like Chernobyl, it is highly likely that, in the long run, Fukushima may prove to be far worse than Chernobyl.

One has to question the wisdom of the Government rolling out nuclear apologists to head up departments charged with the task of protecting the public. Not only are these bodies continuing to play down the risks but the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) model that they use to assess radiological risks is not applicable after a nuclear emergency such as this one in Fukushima. [4] The (ECRR) risk model 5 developed by the European Committee on Radiation Risk, however, has been developed for just such incidents.

Nikki Clark, Deputy Press Officer, Stop Hinkley Campaign

Stop Hinkley supporter email to SAGE, 17 April 2011:

Dear Chairman and Members of SAGE,

It concerns me that SAGE now appears to have joined the many Government bodies that are no longer ‘fit for purpose' as the public's perception of your credibility sinks to an all-time low. Your panel's performance to date regarding the Fukushima disaster has put you amongst those in need of reform.

  • I therefore ask that you urgently implement the following before your reputation sinks any further:

  • That the ECRR 5 risk model to assess radiological health impacts be applied. Upholding a discredited ICRP model beyond its useful life jeopardises the health and well-being of citizens as it underestimates the risk by a significant amount.

  • That the panel's membership is changed to overturn a culture of denial and ensure it is no longer biased in the interests of the nuclear industry, as it is at the moment, so that it is more capable of doing its job and improving the quality of advice. That you correct the failure to address the serious problem of missing uranium and plutonium from the Fukushima site, an aspect on which you are silent.

  • To note that the credibility of this panel has been stretched beyond belief because your forecasts of events at Fukushima have been proved wrong and if these measures are not implemented you risk becoming a laughing stock.”

Yours faithfully

The ECRR (European Committee on Radiation Risk) risk model was first published in 2003 and updated in 2010. It was developed specifically to accommodate the increased understanding of how different radionuclides behave and affect the human body internally, reinforced when it became apparent that the ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) model had failed to predict many of the effects seen emerging in affected populations as a result of the Chernobyl catastrophe.

TEPCO: Tokyo Electric Power Company, the Fukushima Daiichi plant's operator.

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1. Scientific Advice Group in Emergencies: Click Here

2. Independent 18th March 2011: Click Here

3. The following link is to the cached advice that the government have hastily removed: Click Here

4. You tube Video Click Here

5. ECRR Website: Click Here See 2010 Recommendations  of the European Committee on Radiation Risk - The Health Effects of Exposure to Low Doses of Ionising Radiation, Regulators' Edition: Brussels 2010


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