Nuclear plant

By Juliette MaxamA ROW has broken out after a study into levels of cancer in communities living near a nuclear power station was cancelled.The Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters (CERRIE) was due to investigate levels of cancer in communities on the Blackwater Estuary, near Bradwell power station.

By Juliette Maxam

A ROW has broken out after a study into levels of cancer in communities living near a nuclear power station was cancelled.

The Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters (CERRIE) was due to investigate levels of cancer in communities on the Blackwater Estuary, near Bradwell power station.

Previous studies have suggested a doubling in the levels of death from breast cancer among women living in riverside communities along the Blackwater, compared to women living in similar towns and villages along the nearby River Crouch and inland from the Blackwater.


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The CERRIE study was due to look not just at mortality rates, but also at cases of diagnosed cancer in the same communities.

CERRIE, which was set up by former environment minister Michael Meacher to review models used to estimate health risks from radioactive materials, went to the Office for National Statistics for data in May 2003.

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But committee members had still not received the data by April this year and last week CERRIE chairman, Professor Dudley Goodhead, announced the Bradwell study had been cancelled.

Now two members of the committee - Dr Chris Busby, of Green Audit, and Richard Bramhall, from the Low Level Radiation Campaign - have claimed the study would have been embarrassing for the Government and the nuclear fuel industry.

Mr Bramhall alleged the study had been cancelled by Prof Goodhead without consultation with CERRIE members.

"I believe it was realised that for a Government committee to conduct such a study where we already know the rate of breast cancer mortality is higher on the contaminated Blackwater Estuary is great potential to be an embarrassment. If you don't want to see the awkward truth, you just don't look," he said.

But Robin Thornton, of British Nuclear Group, said he believed the report into Bradwell had been cancelled because CERRIE had ran out of time.

Bradwell nuclear power station was closed in March 2002 and is currently undergoing decommissioning.

Prof Goodhead was unavailable for comment at the weekend.

juliette.maxam@eadt.co.uk

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