Friday, May 18, 2012
This is a short version of my latest article, this time summarising the position of Dalgety Bay and taking a few sideswipes at the BBC & some at the no threshold radiation scare) on Brian Monteith's ThinkScotland site. Please put any comments on there.
Radiation scare stories? Aberdeen's more dangerous than Dalgety Bay
THE Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) promised to blight the little town of Dalgety Bay by designating part of their beach as "radioactive waste" by the end of March.
I first ran across this scare story in Feb 2009 when the BBC morning programme gave SEPA a slot. (1)
In its influence on British public life the fact that the BBC daily promote new scare stories on the environment, health or how some part of the welfare state is about to collapse is probably the most damaging to the fabric of the nation.
They do censor and propagandise on political party lines. Otherwise the Green party couldn't get 40 times more coverage per vote (virtually all supportive) than UKIP do (unsupportively). They do lie, censor and proagandise to support hatred of whichever country we are preparing to bomb. Otherwise they could not have censored reporting of the dissection, while still alive of 1,800 people by our "police" in Kosovo (formerly the NATO armed KLA) while giving so much coverage to the "indictment" of Gadaffi for things literally not 1% as evil. But I suspect that, over the long term, the "eco" scare stories do more damage to the average citizen.
Have any of these thousands of scare stories subsequently been proven fully true? I am open to an example....
The report on Dalgety Bay was one such. The story on that programme was that certain aircraft were decommissioned there after the war; that they had dials painted with radium paint; and that this radium has contaminated the beach to a dangerous extent.
Listening to SEPA's spokesman speak it became clear that the amount of radiation they had detected was extraordinarily low and that they avoided the fact that low level radiation occurs naturally everywhere. Since it was a phone in I phoned in and suggested that this could indeed be simply the natural radiation. The SEPA spokesman replied that since they had chemically proven that these radioactive particles consisted of paint this had to be the cause and thereby won the debate.
However the claim to have proven that such microscopic particles of radiation consisted of paint seemed to me to be pushing the limits of science. Radioactives in tiny quantities can be detected by the radiation but molecular quantities of paint are a different matter. I wrote to SEPA asking for the published evidence of this.
They replied saying (A) that they had no duty to answer such questions and (B) threatening legal action if I persisted. I persisted, pointing out that, under the Freedom of Information Act they did indeed have such a duty. Across a period of over a year and repetitions of the query I was directed to many documents. Though SEPA never admitted the claim was a lie (and still don't) it became clear that no they had, in fact, never found the radioactive paint particles claimed.
Over the years the experts they hired had reached conclusions. The most spectacular being that "the highest reading recorded at Dalgety Bay was still less than 2/3rds that found in a typical Aberdeen street"....
So there is no actual threat and no evidence of dangerous radioactivity introduced by Man.
There is a vast amount of scaremongering about radiation. We all live with radiation every day. World average human radiation dosage is about 2.4 mSv per year but this varies from place to place. Aberdeen being about 50% above average. By comparison Kerala in India has a background rate of about 175 mSv without any visible harmful effect, indeed quite the opposite....
The science writer Steuart Campbell also wrote a guest blog (4) in which he pointed out that within the top foot of an average square mile of land there is 9 tonnes of naturally occurring uranium and thorium and because of the breakdown of these, 1 gram of radium. He also pointed out that these radium dials existed on all the 100s of thousands of wartime night bombers.
My findings about SEPA's claims were reported by the Dunfermline, Dundee and Aberdeen Press (5) but not by papers from Glasgow or Edinburgh, who presumably consider Dalgety too remote to be worth questioning coverage. Obviously the BBC refused to broadcast anything balancing their earlier reports despite knowing they were, at least in part, false....
According to one report SEPA paid for "the highest reading recorded at Dalgety Bay was still less than 2/3rds that found in a typical Aberdeen street." There should be a thorough, independent and public investigation into the entire expensive organisation....
I also asked them under further FoI's how many aircraft were destroyed, how much paint there was on each of them and what weight of radium that would amount to but it turned out they not only had no slightest idea but they had not even asked the MoD for such specific and very basic information.
Nonetheless, on their behalf I have an estimate, assuming not more than 20 planes were broken up and knowing what proportion of paint is pigment. Since the paint is water soluble is probable that most of it would be long gone after 60 years but the original amount of radium could not reasonably have been more than 1/4 of a gram - i.e. 1/4 of the naturally occurring radium and 1/36 billionth of all the radioactive material. (6)
SEPA have to date chosen not to dispute this estimate...
SEPA are now threatening that, within a few days, if the MoD does not come up with an expensive plan to remove the "radium" they will declare the land "radioactive contamination". There is allegedly no requirement for them to produce any evidence of this, nor any appeal against this decision....
The main broadcaster has not merely been complicit in maintaining a story they know to be, at least in part, false but have been, in recent months, the most enthusiastic promoter of SEPA's story....
The good news is that in March SEPA backed off from their promise to designate the land as radioactive waste. Not permanently - because the situation is "more complicated than initially believed". They and the MoD will put off their confrontation until then....
(1) Blog on the day about the programme http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2009/02/scotlands-secret-radioactive-sites.html
(2) SEPA's own Assessments http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2009/05/dalgety-bay-my-reply.html
(3) LNT disproven. "Impacts of low dose radiation" http://www.healthcanal.com/public-health-safety/24865-New-Take-Impacts-Low-Dose-Radiation.html
(4) Steurt Campbell's article on the science http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2009/05/radium-at-dalgety-bay-guest-article-on.html
(5) Dundee Courier article http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2009/05/dundee-courier-does-article-on-dalgety.html , P and J letter http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1234845, Dunfermline Press article http://www.dunfermlinepress.com/news/roundup/articles/2009/06/11/388386#comments
(6) New ban http://news.stv.tv/uk/98998-ban-on-gathering-seafood-from-beach-where-radioactive-particles-found/
I also have an article to come on SEPA's response to my last FoI