Thursday, June 11, 2009
SEPA's Bay beach claims dismissed as 'scientific illiteracy'
by Matt Meade
A PRO-NUCLEAR campaigner has accused the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) of “scientific illiteracy” over radiation claims at a Dalgety Bay beach.
Neil Craig (55) claims radiation being found in the area is likely to be natural and not from luminous dials from dumped war aircraft in the Forth, as widely held.
He also quoted SEPA’s own report which revealed the highest reading for background radiation recorded at Dalgety Bay was still lower than that found in a typical Aberdeen street.
He said, “Since the radium paint is water soluble there must also be some doubt if it would still be in place on a Scottish shore 64 years later.
“They claim to have found ‘radium and its associated daughters’ mixed together.
“They are clearly ignorant of the fact that the ‘daughter element’ produced by the breakdown of radium is radon, an essentially unreactive gas which could not possibly be found mixed with solid radium.
“The scientific illiteracy of this untruth is staggering and not only disproves the claim to have found man-made radium but shows that SEPA lack scientific competence.
“SEPA’s latest assertion about the radiation at Dalgety Bay is inconsistent with previous assertions and more importantly cannot be reconciled with the laws of physics.
“If their announced readings mean anything it can only be that this is natural background radiation.”
The Press reported recently that the MoD estates department has begun a comprehensive investigation to discover the source of the radiation.
This will include partly submerging a 1500 square metre membrane, or “blanket”, into the water at the beach to catch particles.
SEPA this week defended their research, saying that many items had been recovered from the beach, including dials and a vial of active material, and that there was “strong circumstantial evidence for there being luminised paint items on the beach”.
A spokesperson added, “We are also aware that the small particles or flakes that have been found on the beach are similar to those described to us by someone who worked on the airfield after the Second World War, when luminised instruments were still being made and repaired.”
SEPA believe the solubility of the paint could have been altered during the break-up of aircraft when it was common for old luminous dials to be burnt.
She added, “This change and resultant variability in the chemical composition caused by burning also affects the solubility, and this could be a reason why the residues of the radium are still being detected after all this time.
“The radium contamination at Dalgety Bay is believed to have originated from historic MoD operations.”
Regarding Mr Craig’s highlighting of SEPA’s research which showed an average Aberdeen street contained more radiation than the beach, she added,
“The figure of one-third less than Aberdeen is for the background radiation – at Dalgety Bay we are concerned with the potential dose from point sources.
“People in Aberdeen do experience natural radiation but they do not have the chance of encountering small point sources of a higher radium contamination.
“In 2009 HPA (Health Protection Agency) provided advice on the sources retrieved from Dalgety Bay stating that some of them, if ingested, would provide doses in excess of 50msv.”
That figure is typically the lowest dose at which there is any evidence of cancer being caused in adults, according to the World Nuclear Association.
Happy with that. Emphasis from the original. Note that their claim to have tested the radioactive particles & found them to be paint, which they officially still maintain & certainly represents the highest standard of honesty to which they aspire, has been reduced to finding flecks of what look like paint in the area that bear an uncanny resemblance to paint flecks - paint having been used by the RAF during WW2 & arguably by others before & since. It is disgraceful that while the Dunfermline Press, the Courier & the P&J have mentioned this the Edinburgh/Glasgow press haven't. Even assuming the Scotsman don't consider Dalgety Bay in their catchment area the fact is that a Scottish government agency has been caught blatantly & repeatedly lying apparently to build their bureaucratic empire & has shown they can't even lie in a scientificly credible way. This would be a matter of serious news value if their journalists weren't in bed with the politicians & bureaucrats. I have put up this comment:
"As regards the claim about point source radiation may I quote from another part of a SEPA report " "attempts were made to disaggregate these samples to pinpoint more accurately the location of the radioactivity. The result showed that .... it was not possible to subdivide the sample further without loss of identity to its constituent parts" or to put it another way - no point source. Caught lying again then.
Regarding the "vial of active material" found. If this is really radium paint as bringing it in to the discussion implies then finding it lying on Dalgety beach would be finding something considerably more valuable than a diamond necklace lying there. SEPA have not displayed this publicly & indeed not referred to it in reports in the last 10 years & it would be interesting to see it properly examined. Since the RAF did not paint their own aircraft dials there is no reason why such a vial should have been there & I suspect "active material" is a totally meaningless, though deliberately scary, term & that it contained something about as dangerous as dirty water.
I see SEPA have not disputed their scientific illiteracy about the daughter element of radium with which they alleged it was "mixed" being actually a gas.
It is quite clear that SEPA have lied continuously over many years to produce a false scare story & keep themselves in business. Unfortunately most of the "environmental" industry works on this basis. The product this industry manufactures is fear & their only customer is the taxpayer.
To maintain their story SEPA have repeatedly refused to answer questions which they are legally obliged to do under the Freedom of Information Act. That the head of the Scottish civil service & the leaders of all the main parties are unwilling to even comment on this scandal shows how deeply government feels (to quote HL Mencken) ""The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
SEPA's radiation scare is imaginary."