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Revolt News 140

17/02/03

Text Version 

Revolt News 140

1. Message from Tim Le Roy down under, who says "Basslink, pylons and
windfarms all go together. Good luck in your battles. Some humour for
your day."  (see Appendix 1)

2. NG magazine Gridline winter 02/03 tells of NG's new "Framework for
Responsible Business" <www.ngtgroup.com>. James Ross, NGT Deputy
Chairman, says shareholder vale "is based not only on the financial
returns we provide, but also on the way in which we treat the
environment, our employees and the communities in which we operate".
Fine words. They say it was developed with the help of more than 2000
external people from government, pressure groups, media, investors,
customers and regulators. Revolt wasn't consulted. We remember ten years
ago NGC being among the sponsors of the RSA Tomorrow's Company scheme,
with similar objectives of inclusiveness, but with the opposite kind of
behaviour over the Yorkshire powerline project.

3. Malcolm Moore's article in the Telegraph 3.2.03 on the "bloom of
windfarms" says subsidies give windfarms roughly 50 pounds per MWh
whereas other generators get the market rate of about 15 pounds. That is
over 200% subsidy. On top of that capital grants (typically 10 million
pounds each) subsidise building the windfarms. Moore says that updating
the grid so that Scotland can power London will cost NG more than a
billion pounds. That can only mean lots more pylons in England, as we
predicted, with the costs not absorbed by NG but passed on to consumers.

4. The government's Energy Policy White Paper was expected before
Christmas, then early in the new year, and it now looks like being at
Easter at the earliest. When it started the hot question was the future
of nuclear energy. While that remains, the manic drive to wind power is
coming increasingly to be seen as flawed, while the market for
mainstream generation is collapsing. No wonder there is delay. If it
helps the government to see sense, let the delay continue. 

5. The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has issued a warning
3.1.03 that candle lit dinners could be on the menu, not just at
Christmas but all year round, if the Government fails to deliver on
energy policy. And to stress the point, MPs have been sent copies of
IChemE's new policy briefing, Energy at the Crossroads, complete with a
surprise gift in the form of a wax candle.
Energy at the Crossroads, points out that urgent action is needed to
tackle the current distortions in the wholesale electricity market. The
briefing also highlights that the UK's CO2 reduction targets are over
ambitious and will probably not be met unless the government sanctions a
nuclear replacement programme. A stern warning is also issued on the
dangers of over dependency on imported gas in an era where global
instability is a pressing concern. Copies of Energy at the Crossroads
can be downloaded at:
<http://www.icheme.org/pr_and_media/Government_relations/energyresponse.pdf>

6. More fuel cell news selections from Angela Ovenston at Appendix 2
below. The development of small-scale distributed generation (DG)
continues apace, with the very real potential we will all be able to
have cheap and reliable local generation in our homes and workplaces in
the next decade or two, instead of relying on the grid for basic power.

7. Contents of another email newsletter from Aberdeen are listed at
Appendix 3. Details passed on by Angela Kelly of Country Guardian,
although the Aberdeen company seems to have a pro-windfarm agenda. The
newsletter has lots of items on windfarms and windpower PR events, but
only one on hydrogen and none on fuel cells and DG (distributed
generation). Still, lots of other snatches and references. Appendix 3
says how to subscribe. 

8. Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) is a key reference point (handed
down from national government) for planning approval. The guidance for
Yorkshire & the Humber (RPG12) is under selective review this year.
Topics of potential interest to revolt include topics 6 (Climate Change)
and 8 (Renewable Energy). The Yorkshire & Humber Assembly (Y&HA) seeks
comments by 14 March to feed into its response to government in June.
Details at <http://www.yhrpg.info>, comments to
<amy.upson@yhassembly.gov.uk>.

9. Hambleton DC seeks comments on a Draft Hambleton Community Plan. It
is to steer the Council's work in promoting Quality-of-Life, not just on
planning matters. There are five main themes, respectively to promote a
prosperous, safe, healthy, sustainable and vibrant community. Issues
about quality of life, and specifically about health, safety and
sustainability, will be of interest to Revolt, with regard to pylons and
precautionary policy. Details from and responses by 28 Feb to Rhona
Pringle, Freepost NEA9686, Hambleton DC, Stonecross, Northallerton DL6
2BR, <rhona.pringle@hambleton.gov.uk>.

10. Prof Denis Henshaw and I met with DTI and DOH officials in London
4.2.03 to discuss precautionary policy. My notes for the meeting are at
APPENDIX 4 below. I have been invited to attend a joint EC/WHO 3-day
meeting on Precaution and EMFs in Luxembourg later this month and will
keep readers posted.

 
************************************************************************

APPENDIX 1   Article from Tim Le Roy

7.55 am Saturday January 25 2003
The Controller of the ACME wind farm licked his lips nervously, staring
at the three phones on his desk, dreading the call he knew would come.
Red phone, Noise, he knew would be quiet and for the thousandth time
cursed the VCAT Commissioners who had imposed this monitoring condition
on the company. Blue phone, Tourism and Enquiries, was unlikely to break
the tension building in the room.

The Controller flicked his eyes at the weather report once again, 42
degrees forecast and already the mercury had hit 32. The Yellow phone
shrilled and despairingly the Controller answered, "ACME Wind Farm
central despatch, Controller speaking." 
 
"What have you got?" growled the Grumpy Scheduler from GRIDCO. "Nothing"
replied the ACME Controller, "but I'm hopeful we could have something
for you by about 9 am". 
 
The Grumpy Scheduler from GRIDCO was merciless "Nothing, listen up mate,
I've got 42 degrees forecast, the tennis at Rod Laver is on, they're
closing the roof and need aircon and every family in this town is going
to be in front of their TV's watching Serena and Venus and they're ALSO
going to have the aircon pumping. And you may have something at 9? I'd
had better get onto the guys at the Snowy, I need urgent reliable
supply." 
 
The ACME Controller tried one more time "But, the weather forecast is
talking 25 knots....." The GRIDCO scheduler tossed back a filthy quip
about relying on weather forecasters and his harsh laughter echoed in
the Controller's head as the line went dead.

The Controller replaced the handset with a sigh and went back to reading
the report from the windmill salesman who evaluated their wind farm. The
words "smooth terrain" kept leaping out at him.

8.55 am.
The hour had flown by and the Controller had that feeling in his stomach
again. The yellow phone rang and Grumpy asked the usual "What have you
got?" The Controller looked at his reading from his new anemometer tower
(erected without the need for a permit). "Nothing" replied the
controller but in a bid to support his industry said, "have you tried
the windmills on the other coast?"
 
Grumpy, who had secured and scheduled his supply, in 5 minute blocks,
for Victoria's hottest day of the summer, had a few moments to spare and
now got on a roll. "Now here's the thing, mate, I don't know what it's
like in your interstate wind farm control room but here in the smoke of
Melbourne we have an event. Serena and Venus are already warming up, the
temperature has hit 37. In five hours time the Glorious Leader is going
to finish his lunch at the Gold Corporate dining room and has front row
seats behind the player on the Yarra side. He'll be in a suit, probably
the blue tie with white shirt, (same as on Thursday evening) and he
wants to be cool. It's my job to make him cool. He won't want to hang on
to see what you got."

The Grumpy Scheduler started warming to his task "I know the Glorious
Leader is your biggest, and perhaps only, customer and it's thanks to
his $40 million of taxpayers money that you are even viable but you have
real problems up there. From what I hear the Glorious Leader buys his
power from one company and you guys have to deliver your power through
lines owned by another company who won't let you into their grid unless
it suits them." 
 
At this point the Controller used the Noise phone to ring the Tourism
and Enquiries phone and told the Grumpy Scheduler he had to go. Tourism
is a crucial part of wind farming and will create regional jobs.

9.24 am January 25 2003.
The Controller watched as the hot Northerly hit his permit free
anemometer and the wind speed grew to over 50 km/h. The Controller was
jubilant, this was going to be one of those 30 days in the year when his
windmills were pumping at capacity. He watched as the 11 tonne
fibreglass blades spun faster and faster, he flicked the switch which
put them into high gear and watched with awe as the blades settled into
their 20 spins per minute routine and the tip speeds hit 296 km/h. His
remote video camera eagerly panned the wind farm. The car park was empty
and flurries of dust were rising off the gravel tracks leading to each
turbine. 

He watched without emotion as the couple who live 400 metres from one
turbine came back from spending the night with friends to escape the
noise and get a good night's sleep. That explained why the Noise phone
was so quiet.

He watched the real estate agent, as he had done more than 100 times
before, make another futile attempt to sell one of the houses near his
turbines. It was a long weekend and there should be plenty of punters
looking to buy their rural dream home.

9.48 am.
The Northerly was really howling now and the Controller was eagerly
awaiting the Grumpy Scheduler's call. This was the ACME wind farm's
chance to show how they could power 14,000 homes and take 54,000 cars
off the road. 
 
At 10.05 am the Controller knew the call was not going to come, the
Scheduler had done his job and the Glorious Leader was going to get his
air-conditioning from somewhere else. He considered ringing Head Office
and advising them of the situation but got depressed at the thought.
Their windmill investment represented postage costs to the company and
allowed them to devote 75% of the corporate website to being clean and
green, with elegant pictures of cows grazing happily with windmills in 
the background, disguising the fact that they turn out around 1% of the
company's total power output.

2.15 pm.
The wind was really howling and still the Scheduler had not called. The
Controller watched the readout from his permit free anemometer as the
gusts approached 85 km/h. 
 
The Yellow Phone rang, it was the Scheduler. "Listen ACME, because of
the heat there's more people staying at home going to watch the Williams
ladies and lots of TV's going on. I'll take all you can give, top dollar
offered." 

The Controller was thrilled "I've got enough for 14,000 homes and you
can take 54,000 cars off the road at the same time, it's on it's way!"
he cried. 
 
He flicked a switch, nothing happened. Damn, pick up phone to line
owners for a quick grovel. "Please guys can I put my power into your
grid? What? OK, OK we'll pay just please let me in."

The Controller flicked the switch again and watched his power slip into
the system. His mission in life accomplished.

At this point the wind speed hit 95 km/h and the windmills shut down.

The Controller sighed, switched on the TV and watched the Williams
sisters, with the Glorious Leader in row one. 23 rows back he spotted
the windmill salesmen who had bought an Executive Corporate package.

5.15 pm.
The wind stopped blowing, it was still 33 degrees in Melbourne. The
Controller handed over to the Modem and put the Noise phone onto message
bank.

Authors note:
The temperature in Melbourne reached 47 degrees on Saturday 25th. Our
sources tell us that less than 50% of the turbines at Toora were
working, despite strong Northerly winds. The wind speeds in this story
were personally observed in Sth Gippsland on Saturday.
 
The average price for electricity in Melbourne on this day was $60.01.
The price of wind energy is between $77-$107. The average price on 27/1
was $13.27.

Tim Le Roy
timleroy@optusnet.com.au
Tel: 0418 121 656
Fax:03  9807-0052
Post PO Box 296, Glen Iris, VIC 3146

***************************************************************

APPENDIX 2   Fuel cell news selection.

Automakers on Fuel Cells. Fuel Cells 2000 has released a new free
report, Automakers on Fuel Cells. The report focuses on statements made
by the CEOs and Project Managers of GM, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Honda,
Toyota, Nissan and others. It concludes that fully commercial fuel cell
vehicles will be available in the marketplace by 2010
<http://www.fuelcells.org/AutoCompaniesonFuelCells.pdf>

New DG Study. Jackson Associates released "Applying Distributed
Generation Strategies to Ease the Long Island Power Crises," which
examines the ability of such distributed generation (DG) technologies as
fuel cells, microturbines and engines to help meet power needs in Long
Island, New York. According to the study, as much as 63 percent of the
1,000-megawatt capacity shortfall expected by the Long Island Power
Authority (LIPA) during the next nine years could potentially be offset
through the use of DG technologies located at or near customer sites. 
<http://www.maisy.com/wpdglipa.htm>

Plug Power Completes DOD Fuel Cell Demonstration Program. 
Plug Power has announced the completion of its fuel cell demonstration
program at the Watervliet Arsenal (NY), which was funded by the U.S.
Department of Defense. The company's ten grid-parallel 5-kW fuel cell
systems operated for more than 80,000 hours and generated approximately
210,000 kWh of electricity throughout the year demonstration. The
systems operated at or above 94 percent average availability during the
year, exceeding the contract requirement of 90 percent.
http://www.energyinfosource.com/dg/news.cfm?id=17849

GDF to Test Sulzer Hexis Fuel Cell.
Sulzer Hexis, Ltd. has signed a cooperation agreement with Paris,
France-based natural gas utility Gaz de France (GDF) to test a pre-
series fuel cell system manufactured by Sulzer Hexis. Under the
agreement, GDF will install and test a HXS 1000 Premiere system in a
test house at its research and development facility outside Paris. The
pre-series HXS 1000 FC system, which features a solid oxide fuel cell
that generates one kilowatt (kW) of electrical and 2.5 kW of thermal
power, is able to provide the basic power needs and the entire heat
requirements of a typical single-family home in central Europe.

EIA Releases Annual Energy Outlook.
DOE's Energy Information Administration has released its Annual Energy
Outlook 2003 report. In the report, EIA projects that U.S. dependence on
oil imports will grow over the next 22 years to between 65 and 70
percent. The report also sees a similar growth trend in residential
energy consumption, which is expected to increase 26 percent by 2025.
EIA projects that renewable energy use will grow at an average rate of
2.2 percent per year through 2025, "primarily due to state mandates for
renewable electricity generation."
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/pdf/0383(2003).pdf

SECA Launches New Website.
The Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) program has launched
its new website, featuring news releases, official solicitations,
workshop presentations and proceedings, as well as a listing of upcoming
events. 
http://www.seca.doe.gov/

*************************************************************

APPENDIX 3   all-energy email newsletter

News@All-Energy. Issue 18. January 2003
 
This free emailed newsletter is published by Media Generation Events
Ltd, organisers - in partnership with Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference
Centre - of the annual All-Energy Opportunities conference and
exhibition. This year's event takes place 21 and 22 May - you can read
some preliminary information on both the exhibition and the conference
at the end of this issue. Feel free to pass News@All-Energy on. If
colleagues would like to receive it automatically they need to email
info@all-energy.co.uk with 'subscribe' in the subject line and contact
details in the message.
 
CONTENTS 
1.GENERAL 
1.1.Early predictions on Energy White Paper contents
1.2. Renewable energy initiative for communities and households
1.3. DTI will help the cause
1.4. Recommendations for the energy mix in 2020
1.5. All you need to know about FP6 - move fast if you are Aberdeen-
based!
1.6. A Centre of Excellence for Renewable Energy in the East of England
1.7. Green job cuts on the cards at Defra
1.8. Germany - green power production
1.9. EU funded project launches international energy web survey
1.10. Research ranks technologies for achieving a UK low carbon economy
1.11. Public urged to play their part
1.12. UK power shortages as early as 2004?
 
2.GRID 
2.1.Implications of GB-wide electricity transmission losses
2.2.Rewiring Britain
2.3.Timetable for introduction of BETTA
2.4.Fossil Fuel Levy = Zero
2.5.New appointments at Ofgem
 
3.WIND 
3.1. 1000th UK turbine commissioned
3.2.New Chairman for BWEA
3.3.Cromer offshore windfarm clears planning hurdle
3.4. Government gives consent to offshore wind farm at Rhyl Flats
3.5.Wales needs to increase windfarm numbers
3.6.Wind Energy and Aviation
3.7.Deepwater windfarm project - input wanted
3.8.National Assembly for Wales welcomes comments
3.9.Go ahead for Scotland's largest windfarm
3.10.GE to supply turbines for Cape Wind
3.11.More American wind news
3.12.Meanwhile in Australia
3.13.Italian activity
3.14.Vestas news 
3.15.Nordex news 
3.16.Danvest taken over by NEG Micon
3.17.New service lift from HEFA A/S in Denmark
3.18.Annual power costs analysis: only gas left to beat
3.19.January facts and figures from Windpower Monthly
 
4.WET 
4.1.3.7m for wave power devices
4.2.New Hammerfest Strom pictures
4.3.Severn Barrage - new appraisal
4.4.Supplementary questions on wave and tidal to Select Committee
 
5.BIOENERGY 
5.1.Boost for UK bioenergy projects
5.2.Wood-powered cars
5.3.Wiltshire Police go green - and Sainsbury's follow
5.4.Test of green fuel by Powegen
5.5.Chicken litter wins the day
5.6.Fuel from food waste in Japan
 
6.HYDROGEN 
6.1.Fuel cells - the Canadian Experience
 
7.SOLAR 
7.1.BBC coverage for EnviroMission tower
 
8.HYDRO 
8.1.PEACE and electricity generation
 
9.KEEPING IN THE PICTURE
 
10.ALL-ENERGY OPPORTUNITIES
10.1.The Exhibition
10.2.The Conference
10.3.Book your accommodation now!
 
11.OTHER KEY EVENTS
11.1.Offshore windfarms and site investigation
11.2.BWEA's UK Offshore Wind 2003 conference
 
12.FOOTNOTES 
12.1.Have you a job for Pedro?
12.2.'Q' information from Scottish Renewables

******************************************************************


APPENDIX 4 - Notes for meeting at DTI 4.2.03, extended 6.2.03

1. Information effects

To have an information effect, you only need to be able to detect the
signal. Powerline fields are readily detectable at 100 metres by a
pocket instrument.

The energy necessary for an information effect is only that to transmit,
store and detect the information. It is a fallacy to suppose that only
by harmful quantum energy or harmful thermal energy can illness be
caused. Information effects on immune system, on hormone production, on
oxidation control can have ill effects, including cancer, for example by
disrupting inhibitors. 

Previous personal discussions with both Richard Doll and Ted Grant
strongly suggest to me that they have taken a view (before the evidence)
that non-energetic effects are not to be taken seriously. They hadn't
recognised the concept of information effects, but had dismissed non-
thermal effects as "subtle effects" with a sense of something mysterious
and unfounded.

2. Melatonin

Over the past three months, Denis Henshaw has forwarded to me over 20
academic papers (list of short references appended), some dating back to
the 1990s and some very recent, supporting the following hypotheses
among others. 

Hypothesis 1. Exposure to power frequency emf well below levels of
thermal effects can suppress melatonin in humans.
Research includes both animals and humans. Exposure levels are relevant
to human environmental exposure, e.g. 1 (T for occupational exposure.
Experiments on hamsters at 86 (T indicate an effect within the pineal
gland, noting speculation about whether the observed effects on
melatonin levels may otherwise be via optical sensing or reaction
mechanisms.

Hypothesis 2. Melatonin can have a protective effect against human
miscarriage.
Administered doses of melatonin were associated with decreased
luteinising hormone (LH) which in turn was associated with miscarriage
in women.

Hypothesis 3. Melatonin can be protective against gamma radiation.
Pre-treatment doses of melatonin in mice and in blood samples of human
volunteers showed significant protective effects against gamma
radiation.

Hypothesis 4. Melatonin can be an effective anti-oxidant and an immune
enhancing agent.
"Even at physiological concentrations, melatonin detoxifies free
radicals and reduces oxidative damage." (In vivo and in vitro animal-
based experiments.)

Hypothesis 5. Physiological melatonin concentrations vary between organs
by orders of magnitude, a base level being the picomolar or low
nanomolar range.  Higher levels, called pharmacological, can occur
physiologically in some organs.

Hypothesis 6. Geomagnetic disturbances can be associated both with
depressed melatonin and with certain illnesses (depression, SAD); the
association is enhanced in combination with power-frequency exposure.

While these hypotheses do not constitute a conclusive mechanism for ill-
health effects of exposure to powerline fields, notably childhood
leukaemia with its persistent epidemiological statistics, and bearing in
mind that melatonin is not the only possibility of an information
mechanism, and that different mechanisms may combine as causal factors,
the hypotheses would seem together to provide a 

plausible summative hypothesis:  that exposure to power-frequency emf at
levels well below those consistent with thermal effects, and at levels
of environmental exposure, can have biological effects on humans, and
these biological effects can lead to ill health, through mechanisms
which are necessarily information- and control-based rather than
essentially energetic.

It is disturbing that it is left to Professor Henshaw's initiative to
scan the literature and find many papers relevant to the above
hypotheses, which therefore should be central to the work of AGNIR and
NRPB. An advisory body should be pro-active in exploration, rather than
reactive to the media and to selective publications.

3. Diluting factors

Important uncertainties in emf work seem to be taken to diminish the
results. But they may be diluting the results and concealing stronger
results. Results tend to be understated. Two examples:

Uncertainty in precise causal mechanism leads to using "wrong" exposure
metrics (TWA, MMF). Other measures (E, nocturnal MF) would, if
reflecting real mechanisms, yield stronger results.

Human susceptibility is likely to be variable. Data for predisposed
groups would yield stronger results. General population studies may
dilute real effects to insignificance.

4. Independence

Bearing in mind tobacco, X Rays, Spycatcher, Matrix Churchill, BSE, Gulf
War Syndrome, Joe Moore etc. etc. it is to be expected that a discerning
public will approach government-backed statements with a presumption of
fallibility and spin.

NRPB is no exception - e.g. knee-jerk erroneous reaction to Henshaw's
early results on deposition, spin in Doll II, knee-jerk reaction to Li
and Lee papers on miscarriage (and surreptitious change of web page). We
have these issues well documented.

How then to obtain independent advice?

Some rough ideas, e.g. for an advisory body with a role like NRPB:
* avoid long term career positions;
* have appointments made by independent bodies (e.g. a mix of
professional, scientific and environmental bodies);
* have a rolling three-year membership, with an overlap six months
induction and extension by exception (to max 6 years for max 25% of
members);
* make advisory body accountable to Select Committee or other body
independent of government;
* subcontract specialist input to consultants by competitive tender
(e.g. as OFFER did in TPCR);
* expose advice service to internal audit to GIAS standards and to
independent appraisal;
* direct the advisory body and its specialist groups or consultants to
search widely for evidence and to use their own exploratory initiative,
within the scope of their main brief;
* let government determine the broad objectives, such as to explore and
advise on matters of public safety relating to EMFs and radiation, and
let government set specific questions as may arise in the public
interest, but let the advisory body determine the scope and detail of
their investigations and recommendations.

5. Test policies

For industry: other things being equal, exposure will be avoided.

For government: un-block local discretion.

6. Facing up to precaution

Fears to be examined:
* would guidelines excite legal claims?
* would precautionary restrictions on new developments excite claims for
existing exposures?
* would giving local authorities discretion create claims from both
sides?
* would precaution necessarily become prohibitively expensive?

Responsibility and liability should depend on the information at the
time. Would it do so in law? If exposures from new powerlines were to be
limited, on the basis of evolving evidence, would it be sufficient to
offer advice (and low-cost support to move) to those presently exposed?

In my paper of 5 December I listed five immediate steps, mostly passive
(guidance and allowing local authority discretion). Compensation
reflecting health concerns, if introduced for new projects, could by
internalisation lead to better design choices.

As an example of an actual, thorough and implemented precautionary
policy, the Swiss Ordinance on Protection from Non-Ionising Radiation of
23.12.99 is intended to protect the public from "harmful or undesirable"
NIR, from 0 to 300 GHz. It distinguishes between:
* stationary installations and appliances (restricting the former only);
* old and new installations;
* sensitive use locations (e.g. playgrounds, regularly occupied rooms)
and other locations;
* precautionary controls (specified with a limit of 1(T for certain
installations including new powerlines, otherwise "as low as is
technically and operationally feasible and financially viable") and
stringent controls (for proven harm).
Time-limited modernisation requirements apply to old installations with
transitional provisions. Appx 1 para 15 provides for authorised
exemption provided phase assignment is optimised. 

It would be helpful to learn of the Swiss experience since the Ordinance
came into effect on 1.2.00 and in particular what proportion of
installations have been granted exemption. 

The Swiss Ordinance does not apply to electrical appliances. Such
exposures are more susceptible to voluntary control, both by manner of
use and by choice of product in the market place. The example of VDUs is
outlined in section 8 below.

Can voluntary controls can be brought to bear for fixed installations?
Exposures are imposed, for example on homes by powerlines, but choice
may be created by compensation offers, such as a cash sum to support
either moving home or accepting the exposure. Experience with radon
would suggest a wide-spread willingness to accept the exposure for the
financial and other benefits. Compensation would need to be geared to
exposure levels and to property value. Perhaps such voluntary controls
would complement controls such as in the Swiss Ordinance, particularly
in a long transition period and where exemption is granted, rather than
be a complete alternative. They might provide flexibility to deal with
exposures lower than 1 (T.

7. Reflections on 5 December   (from Revolt email news136 of 8.12.02)

(5). On Thursday 5th December two national meetings were held at the
National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, on "powerlines and health".
First the NRPB held a public consultative meeting in the morning,
chaired by Lord Robert Winston. That was followed in the afternoon by a
conference sponsored by the charity Children with Leukaemia. I would
estimate 200 to 300 people attended the morning meeting, but only about
100 in the afternoon.
(6). The morning meeting was a panel of experts to hear and respond to
views from the public. The panel included Sir Richard Doll, who chairs
the NRPB advisory group (AGNIR), and Michael Repacholi from WHO, as well
as NRPB members. In opening, Lord Winston said that "we" would draw up
revised guidelines after hearing public views. He explained that by "we"
he meant that he would stay with this work, but NRPB would draft the
guidelines. There wasn't a scientific discussion, as such a large and
short forum wasn't conducive to it, but sundry views were put from
various people present. The replies recognised the variation between
countries in their approaches, but conceded nothing and treated the
uncertain hazard as something to be dismissed. 
(7). The afternoon session was attended by some NRPB and government
officials, and for a time by Sir Richard Doll. It included Professor
Denis Henshaw's information-packed talk about the range of potential
effects and mechanisms, with special attention to much new work on
melatonin, which makes potential mechanisms all the more plausible. The
paper can be seen at <http://www.electric-fields.bris.ac.uk>. Maureen
Asbury gave details of the people's survey at Trentham, which while not
a fully controlled analysis clearly showed dramatically higher
incidences of key illnesses near the powerline. I presented a paper on
"precaution" which can be seen on <http://www.revolt.co.uk>.
(8). All in all, this was a useful day, and to NRPB's credit that it has
taken the initiative, but one which didn't provide for reasoned
scientific discussion. As a consultation exercise it can hardly have
gathered information systematically but will have provided for a few
people to air their views very briefly across a very large hall.

8. Market effects: an example from VDUs (or VDTs).

>From L-E Paulsson (Swedish RP Inst.), EMF effects from a regulator's
point of view, CIGRE paper P4-01, 1996:

"The VDTs of today have EMFs 10- 100 fold lower than those of the 80s
without the regulating authorities having issued any regulations and
without any substantial increase in costs."

9. Bradford Hill on biological plausibility.

>From Bradford Hill's Principles of Medical Statistics, 12th edn, Edward
Arnold 1991, page 275:

"It will be helpful if the causation we suspect is biologically
plausible, though this is a feature we cannot demand. What is
biologically plausible depends upon the biological knowledge of the day.
Thus there was no biological knowledge to support (or to refute) Pott's
observation in the 18th Century of the excess of cancer in chimney
sweeps.   ... ... (passage omitted) ... ...
 In other words, the association recorded may be one new to science or
medicine and must not therefore be too readily dismissed as implausible
or even impossible."

10. List of short references. (Some of these papers are additional to
those cited by Professor Henshaw in his notes on 5 December.)

Regan L et al, Hypersecretion ..., The Lancet, 336, 1141-1144, 1990.
Voordouw BCG et al, Melatonin ..., J Clin. Endocrin. & Metab., 74,
108-117, 1992.
Wilson BW et al, Effect ...,  pp 527-552 in The Medical Hypothesis -
Breast Cancer and the Use of Electric Power, Eds RG Stevens et al,
Battelle Press, Columbus, 1997.
Wilson BW et al, Evidence ..., J Pineal Res., 9, 259-269, 1990.
Pfluger DH et al, Effects ..., J Pineal Res., 21, 91-100, 1996.
Burch JB et al, Nocturnal ..., Scand. J Work Environ. Health, 24(3),
183-189, 1998.
Davis S et al, Residential ..., Am. J Epidem., 154(7), 591-600, 2001.
Levallois P et al, Effects ..., Am. J Epidem., 154(7), 601-609, 2001.
Burch JB et al, Melatonin ..., J Occ. & Env. Med., 42(2), 136-142, 2000.
Burch JB et al, Melatonin ..., I J Radiation Biol., 78, 1029-1036, 2002.
Juutilainen J et al, Nocturnal ..., J Pineal Res., 28, 97-104, 2000.
Strick R, Dietary ..., PNAS, 97(9), 4790-4795, 2000.
Ross JA, Dietary ..., PNAS, 97(9), 4411-4413, 2000.
Jacob S et al, Melatonin ..., J Pineal Res., 33, 186-187, 2002.
Badr FM et al, Radioprotective ..., Mutation Research, 444, 367-372,
1999.
Vijayalaxmi et al, Melatonin ..., Mutation Research, 425, 21-27, 1999.
Vijayalaxmi et al, Melatonin ..., Mutation Research, 404, 187-189, 1998.
Vijayalaxmi et al, Melatonin ..., Mutation Research, 371, 221-228, 1996.
Vijayalaxmi et al, Marked ..., Radiation Research, 143, 102-106, 1995.
Brendel H et al, Direct ..., J Pineal Res. 29, 228-233, 2000.
Kay RW, Geomagnetic ..., B J Psychiatry, 164, 403-409, 1994.
Tan DX et al, Identification ..., Biochimica et Biophysics Acta, 1472,
206-214, 1999.
Burch JB et al, Geomagnetic ..., Neuroscience Letters 266, 209-212,
1999.
Kirschvink JL et al, Magnetite ..., Proc Nat Acad Sci USA, 89,
7683-7687, 1992.
Allegra M et al, Minireview, J Pineal Res. 34, 1-10, 2003.
Reiter RJ et al, Editorial Note, J Pineal Res. 34, 79-80, 2003.

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Mike O'Carroll

 

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