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Thursday, February 12, 2009


When I put up yesterday's post I wrote to SEPA asking:

I have put up a further article on my blog today. If you feel that any of my conclusions are factually wrong I would certainly like you to have the chance to correct them. If you choose not to I will assume you do not dispute them, in which case you should issue a public retraction & ask the BBC to correct their public record.
To which they have now replied
I refer to your email dated 11th February 2009.

Thank you for giving SEPA the opportunity to respond to your blog.

SEPA does not accept the assertions you have made. SEPA stands by its position & does not consider that it would be useful to repeat its opinions on this matter.

Neither SEPA nor its officers are under a duty to deny allegations made in your blog. The absence of a response to the specific points raised does not indicate that SEPA accepts the allegations made. For the avoidance of doubt, neither SEPA nor any of its officers have lied in relation to radium at Dalgety Bay. SEPA reserves its position in relation to the allegations, particularly if the allegations are to be made widely known.

While it may be that SEPA & you have different opinions in relation to radium at Dalgety Bay it is not acceptable that you allege that SEPA or its officers have lied about the matter.

Yours Sincerely
Byron Tilly
Radioactive Substances Manager Bay.
My reply
Thank you for your letter which I have read with interest. I think it likely that there are many matters of opinion on which we might legitimately differ.

I note that on the matters of fact in my posts you do not choose to deny anything I have said & since they differ quite firmly from what SEPA & you have stated both on the radio & elsewhere a reasonable person would assume that that choice was made because the facts are as I stated them. However my offer to publish a letter from you pointing out any error of fact you feel I may have made still stands.

From the style of your letter would I be correct in thinking a lawyer, paid for by the taxpayer, has been involved in its drafting?

In any case, until such time as you are willing to present any alternative to what I have said, I trust you will understand that I must ask for your assurance that no SEPA representative will ever make what could be considered a criticism of the accuracy of my words in a way you are not willing to do directly.

I have also contacted a number of MSPs to ask if they think such unjustified fearmongering is a proper use of public funds. In fairness to them any response will be confidential unless they authorise publication.

UPDATE I sent them this on Friday morning:

On further consideration I must ask you to clarify part of what you wrote. That "Neither SEPA nor its officers are under a duty to deny allegations made." My first letter to you, on February 2nd, simply asked for confirmation of the method of scientific testing which, you stated on the radio had been done. How had it unequivocally proven that the particles were of radium paint as you stated? I also requested figures for the background radiation at Dalgety & adjoining beaches. I assume such measurements have been made since it would obviously be impossible to claim a dangerous or even significant increase without them.

My 2nd & 3rd repetitions of this request invoked the Freedom of Information Act. Could you please advise what exactly are the grounds you had for saying that the duties of the FoI do not apply to SEPA or to this particular request & that neither SEPA nor its officers are under a duty to obey it.

Inconsistencies in your Argument and Evidence

On the comment trail from 11 February you said I am complaining that SEPA's entire case relies on their claim to have scientifically identified the material as paint. Quite obviously they haven't & nothing in your [SEPA's] report says otherwise.

SEPA's entire case does not rest on their having identified the material as paint. The various reports set out their case as being based on the the levels of radiation being too high to be natural, the chemical analysis of the radioactive material as radium and the history of aircraft destruction on the site together with finds of intact aircraft parts there. This is a regular tactic of yours, to misrepresent an opponent's argument and attack the modified, weakened, version.

Also, on the day of the Radio Scotland phone-in, 2 February, you wrote to SEPA in these terms

This morning your representative on the BBC Radio phone in stated that radioactive particles found at Dalgety Bay had, beyond dispute, been identified, presumably by chemical or spectroscopic means, as consisting of paint.

The SEPA representative's reply was consistent with your email question and with the various SEPA reports. However, your question was at odds with your account of SEPA's evidence. Why was your question phrased "presumably" when you had allegedly heard the SEMA spokesman make a categorical statement. Why not ask your question in the terms of that statement?

Was that because you knew that SEPA had not asserted during the phone-in that they had chemically linked the material to paint? Is the real liar you?
SEPA's entire case Norman does depend on the radium being manmade & therefore coming from paint (& indeed on the other 9 points I made without any one of which it falls). I have already explained that natural radium exists there (& everywhere).

Mr Tilly did not use the term chemical analysis but he did say with certainty that paint had been scientificly identified. That could only be done by chemical or spectroscopic means which is why the presumption is justified - or perhaps you may know of another way. The method SEPA's report refers to of starting with the "belief" that it was paint & ending there too is not scientific.

I have accepted this comment from you because, though clearly ill intentioned you did get through it without overt insults or obscenities - I am not accepting your other post which failed that undemanding test.
Well, I appear to have hit home again. Just more equivocation and pomposity from you. Where do you think all the radium came form if not from wrecked aircraft? There is not much of your case left, not that you seem to realise it.

Re overt insults or obscenities. Publish the comment and let your readers decide between how appalling it is and how much of a hypocrite you are.

By the way, whilst having a wee look at radium safety, I came across this cautionary tale from the age when exposure to radium at work and in the home was not regulated. See "The Radium Water Worked Fine Until His Jaw Came Off" at a
SEPA does not accept the assertions you have made. SEPA stands by its position & does not consider that it would be useful to repeat its opinions on this matter.

Byron Tilly likes to speak in the third person.

Byron Tilly is not amused.
I think the 3rd party stuff is justified if he is speaking through their lawyers orifice.
Speaking in the third person is an evasion of responsibility for his own decisions as a public official. He should say: I decided that this is not a problem because of the evidence. Instead we are lead to believe that a decision was either pulled from the ether or that SEPA, as a sentient being made a choice.

Byron is being a weasel. If he is speaking through his lawyer then he should either say so or say that on the advice of his attorney that he cannot talk.
I suspect any lawyer's advice would be not to admit he is talking through a lawyer to avoid having to answer the questions. Nonetheless I will be interested to see how they handle the FoI enquiry element which has legal power.
Norman/mous there is no radium - even SEPA finally only claimed to have found radium's "daughter elements" which only shows how scientifically illiterate this "environmental" organisation is.
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