UK Nuclear Plant Involved
In Three-Headed Frog?

Science Correspondent
The Guardian - UK

Note - The town of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, England, where the three-headed frog was found this week by children in a daycare, is only 12 miles from the (now decommissioned) Hinkley Nuclear Power Station. Residents in the town of Burnham-on-Sea, five miles from Hinkley, have cancer rates up to six times higher than average. The mutated frog is another possible casualty. Here is an article from 2002 about the plant and its nearby human cancer harvest...
Resort Near Nuclear Plant Is Worst Cancer Cluster
By Mark Townsend
The Observer
Cancer rates in a Somerset town close to a nuclear power station are up to six times higher than average.
Burnham-on-Sea will be named this week as the most significant 'cancer cluster' so far discovered near a British nuclear plant. The revelation will provide fuel for anti-nuclear campaigners who say the industry pollutes the environment and is potentially lethal for people living nearby.
The residents of Burnham, which lies five miles downwind of the Hinkley Point plant, have demanded an official inquiry into the figures, which were compiled by Dr Chris Busby, a government radiation adviser.
The study will be presented to locals on Thursday - the first anniversary of the death of Burnham resident Jo Corfield from breast cancer. Corfield's mother, Geraldine Trythall, 86, who survived breast cancer five years ago, said yesterday: 'We want to know exactly what is causing all these cancers. We have a right to know.'
Some residents are even moving away from the area. The parents of 18-year-old David Lidgey, who contracted leukaemia three years ago, strongly suspect the power station is to blame for his illness. Susan and Rob Lidgey said they are in the process of moving a mile inland from Burnham in a move to avoid further health effects.
Campaigners believe that radioactive discharge from Hinkley Point into the sea could explain the resort's high cancer rate. Busby, also a member of the Government's committee on depleted uranium, believes dangerous material from Hinkley Point is contaminating tidal sediment around power stations.
When the mudflats off Burnham are exposed at low water, he believes that radioactive particles are carried away on the wind and inhaled by residents. Of the 95 people diagnosed with cancer in Burnham since 1989, more than half took part in sea-based activities such as watersports or bait-digging. Only one in five cancer sufferers was a smoker.
'We have known since the 1960s the mechanism by which radioactive particles come ashore, and we will be worrying about this problem for a few hundred years to come,' said Dr Vyvyan Howard, senior anatomy lecturer at Liverpool University and an expert on the effects of toxins on human tissue.
The study, which investigated cancer cases in Burnham since 1998, found residents are 5.95 times more likely to get kidney cancer. The probability that this is coincidental is just one in a thousand.
It also found that cases of cervical cancer are 5.6 times higher than the national average, while leukaemia rates are more than four times above the norm. Women from Burnham have more than double the risk of breast cancer, with a one in 2,500 probability the figures are chance, according to cases over the past six years.
It is the first time both adults and children living near a nuclear plant have been examined for such a broad range of cancers and the first attempt to examine the incidence of the illness rather than deaths.
'We see a picture confirming my fears that Hinkley discharges are responsible for severe health problems. All the epidemiology points to that conclusion,' said Busby, who is a member of the Independent Advisory Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment. Busby urged similar research to be carried out at sites across the UK.
The range of cancers examined in the report have all been linked to the effects of radiation from studies on Hiroshima survivors. However, no scientific link has yet been established between low-level radioactive discharge of the type from Hinkley Point and cancer.
Last year Busby identified a leukaemia cluster near Chepstow on the banks of the Severn near Oldbury power station, north of Burnham. Another study in Seascale, close to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria, observed cases of leukaemia in children under 14 between 1950 and 1983.
A Department of Health spokesman said: 'No known health effects have been shown to be associated with radioactive discharges from current nuclear sites.'
BNFL, which is decommissioning one of the reactors at the Hinkley site, dismissed Busby's findings, adding that his previous work had been 'heavily criticised' by health experts.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003,6903,754946,00.html



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