1. Revolt (e.g. news165.10, 162.9 and 156.7) has called for a feasibility study (no more than that) into the idea of small-scale nuclear reactors, mass produced based on Westinghouse nuclear submarine engines and distributed in areas of demand, for example at the main large electricity substations. Such an idea might potentially solve several problems - reducing greenhouse gases; improving electricity and grid security; avoiding economic and political dependence on imported energy; and reducing the need for pylons and wind farms. Now wired.com reports (APPENDIX 1) actual development in China of a much safer type of small-scale nuclear reactor, helium-cooled and pebble-bedded, which was first mooted over 50 years ago. This news comes on top of that (news165.4) of a different "energy amplifier" reactor, which can also burn nuclear waste, under research in Italy and South Africa. The need for a UK feasibility study becomes more pressing.
2. Snips from news@all-energy issue 41 of Sep 04 are at APPENDIX 2. They are selected from about 60 items in the free email available from <email@example.com>. Note (3.6) the Beauly-Denny line is not abandoned, but The Cairngorms National Park Authority has called for further consideration to be given to putting part underground.
3. Snips from Microwave News EMF papers July/Aug 04 are at APPENDIX 3.
4. Come on Green Party - sort yourselves out on wind power, don't spoil your generally good values by ignorance and dogma. Don't go the way of David Icke again! Saving the planet would be all very well, but wind farms won't do that nor anything like it. Yes, climate change is a genuine concern, and "think global, act local" a good message, and more action to curb pollution of all sorts is needed, but climate change is not just global warming, which in turn is not just greenhouse gases, which in turn are not just human output, which in turn is not just from electricity generation, which in turn is not remedied (nor even scarcely helped) by wind farms. Reports of Jonathan Porritt's off-balance views and prominent influence, together with recent letters to the press (APPENDIX 4) must be of concern to knowledgeable greens and Green Party members and sympathisers.
5. As the UK political party conference season nears, this is a time of year for spin on party environment policies, with some tactical shifting of ground. The Kyoto targets for greenhouse gases are looking doubtful for a number of reasons, not just the US failure to come on board. Michael Howard shifted from political correctness to oppose a wind farm and to call for planning sensitivity, and seems now to be questioning greenhouse gas assumptions at the same time as challenging government performance on greenhouse gas targets. Government policy is firmly for wind farms plus more pylons, while not closing the door on nuclear generation, though Tony Blair and Margaret Beckett today suggested no early move on nuclear. Both parties appear nervous about anti-nuclear and save-the-planet green votes, so are looking for something cosy and simple to understand. Could it be micro-CHP? Revolt has championed that development for years. But we agree there is no single (or simple) fix - action is needed on many fronts. (Article at APPENDIX 5).
6. APPENDIX 6 discusses some new NRPB documents and the latest in NRPB's developing position. Hopefully we will see more change as Sir Bill Stewart takes over and NRPB becomes a Division within the Health Protection Agency, but so far it is still slow. Instead of feeding AGNIR with selected papers, why not give them a more independent brief - to search and find out - with free and open investigation of all and any sources to which their search takes them? Precautionary measures short of exposure limits are badly overdue at low exposures. This gap in NRPB advice remains. I can't yet raise any more cheers than the one-and-a- half I gave to last year's consultation.
7. Three hearty cheers however for last week's scientific conference sponsored by Children with Leukaemia and organised by Prof. Denis Henshaw and Alasdair Philips. That was first class, bringing together world-leading scientists in various related topics. The daily conference themes were: incidence trends and biology; ionising radiation; non- ionising radiation; chemical and biological toxins; and precaution. The latest relevant scientific developments on genetic effects and DNA damage, melatonin, light, EMF and biological complexity were interwoven themes through the conference, reinforcing the plausibility of potential harm. There is not space here to review the conference, but congratulations to Alasdair and Denis and their colleagues for a masterly job. Bringing together evidence, experts and inter-related themes on this scale has given a focus to otherwise fragmented developments and concerns. The charity Children with Leukaemia deserves credit for encouraging such a mature inter-disciplinary and inquisitive focus while some more orthodox authorities seem comparatively compartmentalised and defensive.
APPENDIX 1 Safe small-scale nuclear power in China
?WIRED? Issue 12.09 - September 2004
Let a Thousand Reactors Bloom
Explosive growth has made the People's Republic of China the most power-hungry nation on earth. Get ready for the mass-produced, meltdown-proof future of nuclear energy.
By Spencer Reiss
China is staring at the dark side of double-digit growth. Blackouts roll and factory lights flicker, the grid sucked dry by a decade of breakneck industrialization. Oil and natural gas are running low, and belching power plants are burning through coal faster than creaky old railroads can deliver it. Global warming? The most populous nation on earth ranks number two in the world - at least the Kyoto treaty isn't binding in developing countries. Air pollution? The World Bank says the People's Republic is home to 16 of the planet's 20 worst cities. Wind, solar, biomass - the country is grasping at every energy alternative within reach, even flooding a million people out of their ancestral homes with the world's biggest hydroelectric project. Meanwhile, the government's plan for holding onto power boils down to a car for every bicycle and air-conditioning for a billion-odd potential dissidents.
What's an energy-starved autocracy to do? Go nuclear. While the West frets about how to keep its sushi cool, hot tubs warm, and Hummers humming without poisoning the planet, the cold-eyed bureaucrats running the People's Republic of China have launched a nuclear binge right out of That '70s Show. Late last year, China announced plans to build 30 new reactors - enough to generate twice the capacity of the gargantuan Three Gorges Dam - by 2020. And even that won't be enough. The Future of Nuclear Power, a 2003 study by a blue-ribbon commission headed by former CIA director John Deutch, concludes that by 2050 the PRC could require the equivalent of 200 full-scale nuke plants. A team of Chinese scientists advising the Beijing leadership puts the figure even higher: 300 gigawatts of nuclear output, not much less than the 350 gigawatts produced worldwide today. To meet that growing demand, China's leaders are pursuing two strategies. They're turning to established nuke plant makers like AECL, Framatome, Mitsubishi, and Westinghouse, which supplied key technology for China's nine existing atomic power facilities. But they're also pursuing a second, more audacious course. Physicists and engineers at Beijing's Tsinghua University have made the first great leap forward in a quarter century, building a new nuclear power facility that promises to be a better way to harness the atom: a pebble-bed reactor. A reactor small enough to be assembled from mass-produced parts and cheap enough for customers without billion-dollar bank accounts. A reactor whose safety is a matter of physics, not operator skill or reinforced concrete. And, for a bona fide fairy-tale ending, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is labeled hydrogen. A soft-spoken scientist named Qian Jihui has no doubt about what the smaller, safer, hydrogen-friendly design means for the future of nuclear power, in China and elsewhere. Qian is a former deputy director general with the International Atomic Energy Agency and an honorary president of the Nuclear Power Institute of China. He's a 67-year-old survivor of more than one revolution, which means he doesn't take the notion of upheaval lightly. "Nobody in the mainstream likes novel ideas," Qian says. "But in the international nuclear community, a lot of people believe this is the future. Eventually, these new reactors will compete strategically, and in the end they will win. When that happens, it will leave traditional nuclear power in ruins." Now we're talking revolution, comrade. Known as China's MIT, Tsinghua University sprawls across a Qing-dynasty imperial garden, just outside the rampart of mirrored Blade Runner towers that line Beijing's North Fourth Ring Road. Wang Dazhong came here in the mid-1950s as a member of China's first-ever class of homegrown nuclear engineers. Now he's director emeritus of Tsinghua's Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Tec hnology, aka INET, and a key member of Beijing's energy policy team. On a bright morning dimmed by Beijing's ever-present photochemical haze, Wang sits in a spartan conference room lit by energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. "If you're going to have 300 gigawatts of nuclear power in China - 50 times what we have today - you can't afford a Three Mile Island or Chernobyl," Wang says. "You need a new kind of reactor." That's exactly what you can see 40 minutes away, behind a glass-enclosed guardhouse flanked by military police. Nestled against a brown mountainside stands a five-story white cube whose spare design screams, "Here be engineers!" Beneath its cavernous main room are the 100 tons of steel, graphite, and hydraulic gear known as HTR-10 (i.e., high-temperature reactor, 10 megawatt). The plant's output is underwhelming; at full power - first achieved in January - it would barely fulfill the needs of a town of 4,000 people. But what's inside HTR-10, which until now has never been visited by a Western journalist, makes it the most interesting reactor in the world. In the air-conditioned chill of the visitors' area, a grad student runs through the basics. Instead of the white-hot fuel rods that fire the heart of a conventional reactor, HTR-10 is powered by 27,000 billiards-sized graphite balls packed with tiny flecks of uranium. Instead of superhot water - intensely corrosive and highly radioactive - the core is bathed in inert helium. The gas can reach much higher temperatures without bursting pipes, which means a third more energy pushing the turbine. No water means no nasty steam, and no billion-dollar pressure dome to contain it in the event of a leak. And with the fuel sealed inside layers of graphite and impermeable silicon carbide - designed to last 1 million years - there's no steaming pool for spent fuel rods. Depleted balls can go straight into lead-lined steel bins in the basement. Wearing disposable blue paper gowns and booties, the grad student leads the way to a windowless control room that houses three industry-standard PC workstations and the inevitable electronic schematic, all valves, pressure lines, and color-coded readouts. In a conventional reactor's control room, there would be far more to look at - control panels for emergency core cooling, containment-area sprinklers, pressurized water tanks. None of that is here. The usual layers of what the industry calls engineered safety are superfluous. Suppose a coolant pipe blows, a pressure valve sticks, terrorists knock the top off the reactor vessel, an operator goes postal and yanks the control rods that regulate the nuclear chain reaction - no radioactive nightmare. This reactor is meltdown-proof.
Zhang Zuoyi, the project's 42-year-old director, explains why. The key trick is a phenomenon known as Doppler broadening - the hotter atoms get, the more they spread apart, making it harder for an incoming neutron to strike a nucleus. In the dense core of a conventional reactor, the effect is marginal. But HTR-10's carefully designed geometry, low fuel density, and small size make for a very different story. In the event of a catastrophic cooling-system failure, instead of skyrocketing into a bad movie plot, the core temperature climbs to only about 1,600 degrees Celsius - comfortably below the balls' 2,000-plus-degree melting point - and then falls. This temperature ceiling makes HTR-10 what engineers privately call walk-away safe. As in, you can walk away from any situation and go have a pizza. "In a conventional reactor emergency, you have only seconds to make the right decision," Zhang notes. "With HTR-10, it's days, even weeks - as much time as we could ever need to fix a problem." This unusual margin of safety isn't merely theoretical. INET's engineers have already done what would be unthinkable in a conventional reactor: switched off HTR-10's helium coolant and let the reactor cool down all by itself. Indeed, Zhang plans a show-stopping repeat performance at an international conference of reactor physicists in Beijing in September. "We think our kind of test may be required in the market someday," he adds. Today's nuclear power plants are the fruits of a decision tree rooted in the earliest days of the atomic age. In 1943, a Manhattan Project team led by Enrico Fermi sustained the first man-made nuclear chain reaction in a pile of uranium blocks at the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Lab. A chemist named Farrington Daniels joined the effort a short time later. But Daniels wasn't interested in bombs. His focus was on a notion that had been circulating among physicists since the late 1930s: harnessing atomic power for cheap, clean electricity. He proposed a reactor containing enriched uranium "pebbles" - a term borrowed from chemistry - and using gaseous helium to transfer energy to a generator. The Daniels pile, as the concept was called, was taken seriously enough that Oak Ridge National Laboratory commissioned Monsanto to design a working version in 1945. Before it could be built, though, a bright Annapolis graduate named Hyman Rickover "sailed in with the Navy," as Daniels later put it, and the competing idea of building a rod-fueled, water-cooled reactor to power submarines. With US Navy money backing the new design, the pebble bed fell by the wayside, and Daniels returned to the University of Wisconsin. By the time of his death in 1972, he was known as a pioneer of - irony alert - solar power. Indeed, the International Solar Energy Society's biennial award bears his name. By the mid-1950s, with President Eisenhower preaching "atoms for peace" before the United Nations, civilian nuclear power was squarely on the table. The newly created General Atomics division of General Dynamics assembled 40 top nuclear scientists to spend the summer of 1956 brainstorming reactor designs. The leading light was Edward Teller, godfather of the H-bomb, and his message to the group was prophetic. For people to accept nuclear power, he argued, reactors must be "inherently safe." He even proposed a practical test: If you couldn't pull out every control rod without causing a meltdown, the design was inadequate. But Teller's advice was ignored in the rush to beat the Russians to meter-free electricity. Instead of pursuing inherent safety, the nascent civilian nuclear industry followed Rickover into fuel rods, water cooling, and ever more layers of protection against the hazards of radioactive steam emissions and runaway chain reaction. To try to amortize the cost of all that backup, plants ballooned, tripling in average size in less than a decade and contributing to a crippling financial crunch in the mid-'70s. Finally, partial meltdowns at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986 pulled the plug on reactor construction in most of the world. Even where the pebble-bed concept took root, the industry's woes conspired against it. In Germany, a charismatic physicist named Rudolf Schulten picked up the idea and by 1985 a full-scale prototype was online - too large, in fact, to meet Teller's inherent safety test. Barely a year later, with Chernobyl's fallout raining over Europe, a minor malfunction at the German reactor set off nightmare headlines. Before long, the plant was mothballed. The twin disasters in Pennsylvania and Ukraine proved Teller's point and inverted his hopeful formulation: The Union of Concerned Scientists pronounced nuclear power "inherently dangerous." The industry, already staggered by overbuilding and runaway budgets, ground to a halt. The newest of the 104 reactors operating in the US today was greenlighted in 1979. And there our story might have ended, except Even as the nuclear establishment was putting all its efforts into avoiding the klieg lights, scientists in two faraway places were carrying the torch for a better reactor. One was South Africa, where in the mid-1990s the national utility company quietly licensed Germany's cast-off pebble-bed design and set about trying to raise the necessary funds. The other was China, where the Tsinghua team pursued a Nike strategy: Just do it. Frank Wu's glass-walled ninth-floor office at Innovation Plaza offers a commanding view of Tsinghua University's leafy campus. That's no accident: The university co-owns this complex of gleaming silver towers, designed as a magnet for high tech startups. Likewise Wu's company, Chinergy, is a 50-50 joint venture between Tsinghua's Institute for Nuclear and New Energy Technology and the state-owned China Nuclear Engineering Group. "I just had a call from a mayor in one of the provinces," says Wu, who came on board as CEO after a decade spent running financial services companies in the US (where he adopted the English first name). "He asked me, 'How much do we have to pay to get one of those things here?'" If Wu's pebble-bed "thing" is, well, hot, it's because Chinergy's product is tailor-made for the world's fastest-growing energy market: a modular design that snaps together like Legos. Despite some attempts at standardization, the latest generation of big nukes are still custom-built onsite. By contrast, production versions of INET's reactor will be barely a fifth their size and power, and built from standardized components that can be mass-produced, shipped by road or rail, and assembled quickly. Moreover, multiple reactors can be daisy-chained around one or more turbines, all monitored from a single control room. In other words, Tsinghua's power plants can do the two things that matter most amid China's explosive growth: get where they're needed and get big, fast.
APPENDIX 2 Snips from news@all-energy 41
3.GRID, TRANSMISSION AND RO
3.1.NGC is GB System Operator
A single electricity market for the whole of Britain is a step closer after National Grid Company's appointment as the GB System Operator under the British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements (BETTA) www.gnn.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=128201&NewsAreaID=2
3.2.GB transmission charging document
NGC has published a document entitled 'GB Transmission Charging: Final Methodologies Consultation' www.nationalgrid.com/uk/indinfo/betta/pdfs/ GBChargingFinalMethodologieswithdiagramsfinalversion.pdf
3.3.Host of new publications
Ofgem has published four new documents on BETTA, all are on 'BETTA (Associated designation publications)' on the Ofgem website; and BETTA Property Arrangements Scheme document is on the BETTA (Go Active) area of work www.ofgem.gov.uk
3.4.Creating a single electricity market for Great Britain
Ofgem has published the proposed designation text, which will comprise the legal framework for creating a single GB wide electricity market. The documents are an important milestone, which will allow the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to bring into effect the relevant parts of the Energy Act. Once this happens the industry can start to prepare for the creation of a single GB wide market due to be introduced in April 2005 www.ofgem.gov.uk
3.5.A view from Alex Salmond MP
"The government must give the renewable energy sector in Scotland the potential to thrive. It cannot get away with talking about the potential whilst undermining it with massive extra costs" Alex Salmond MP www.buchanobserver.com/archived/2004/Week_34/postbag/salmond_column.asp
3.6.Power line plan NOT abandoned
Plans to replace the existing electricity transmission line between Beauly and Denny with an upgraded line have not been abandoned as some press reports have claimed say Scottish and Southern Energy www.timesonl ine.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-1237327,00.html The Cairngorms National Park Authority has called for further consideration to be given to putting underground some of the planned new power lines http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=950062004
APPENDIX 3 Snips from Microwave News EMF Papers July/Aug 04. These notes are in my words (Mike O'Carroll), drawing from the longer papers in the Packets.
>From Packet 315 of 15.7.04 (selected from some 42 items):
>From BBC News 7.7.04: Mast row heads for appeal court. Plans for a 25 metre high mobile phone mast in Harrogate were rejected by an inspector, then that decision was overturned by the High Court on appeal by the industries (T-Mobile, Orange and Hutchinson 3G). Now John Prescott has decided to appeal to the to the Court of Appeal against the High Court decision. The issue at stake is public perception of harm being a planning consideration.
>From Packet 316 of 31.7.04 (selected from some 47 items):
The UK All Party Parliamentary Mobile Group <www.apmobile.org.uk> produced its report July 2004. The full report is at <www.apmobile.org.u k/apmobile%20rpt%203.pdf>. Among its recommendations is R13: We recommend that until much more detailed and scientifically robust information on any health effects from the use of mobile phone technologies becomes available, the precautionary approach be adopted when discussing and allowing for the siting and location of masts, in line with Sir William Stewart's recommendations in the IEGMP Report of 2000, and that this be reflected in a revised PPG8. Another recommendation R18 calls for a joint body between government and industry, but lacks the stakeholder inclusiveness of the SAGE group on EMF formed through DH. The chairman of the group, Phil Willis (Liberal, Harrogate), says the report is "highly critical of the current planning system" and of the industry's voluntary code of practice (known as the ten commitments, following ICNIRP but not including precaution). The government response of 23.7.04 welcomes the report and says the government "will look carefully at the group's recommendations".
NRPB Document 15(4) on Risk and Precaution is released. See separate item this revolt email news.
The UK DH body Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) produced a report 29.7.04 on Mobile Communication Systems. It classifies various systems as high, medium or low risk for electromagnetic compatibility and interference, with appropriate and proportionate recommendations. Some media reports have hyped this up to suggest that mobile phones should be freely used in hospitals and on planes. That is not what the MHRA report says. <www.mhra.gov.uk>
>From Packet 317 of 15.8.04 (selected from some 44 items):
A US government commission has reported on EMP attack. That's Electro Magnetic Pulse attack. A small nuclear explosion high in the earth's atmosphere could create an E-M shock that would disable most infrastruture - communications, electric power, traffic control etc. One such bomb could paralyse the whole USA without killing the population. Russia and China have made it known they have the capability. The full report is at http://www.house.gov/hasc/openingstatementsandpressreleases/108thcongress/04-07-22emp.pdf
>From Microwave News: In August the 5 members of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will choose between mitigating the EMF risks set out by the California Dept Health or following the path of denial favoured by electric utilities. A key meeting of CPUC was on 19 August.
>From Norwich Evening News 7.8.04: Norwich North MP Dr Ian Gibson has called for a government inquiry into plans for more than 20 masts 30 metres high along railway lines in Norfolk in the next few years. Network Rail say the masts - there will eventually be more than 2,000 nationally - are needed to boost rail safety. Network Rail also says the masts on railway property are not subject to planning laws.
BBC News 15.8.04. Gateshead Borough Council is being forced to rethink its policy on mobile phone masts after being sued for legal costs, following a successful appeal by industry against refusal of permission.
APPENDIX 4 Letters to the Western Mail re. Green Party. (Revolt does not necessarily endorse the letters; they are reported here as indicative of concern.)
Letters to the editor, Western Mail 8 Sep 2004
Shame on Green Party
SIR - I was at the recent demonstration against a wind farm at Mynydd y Gair and was deeply shocked at the behaviour of the Green Party.
Their members' aggression towards those of us trying to save this beautiful habitat from commercial development proved to me that the Green Party, at least in Wales, is supporting big business and the pursuit of profit at the expense of our fragile environment and tiny local communities.
I tried to speak, politely and rationally, to one of these "Greens" and asked her a number of scientific questions about wind power and renewable energy. She was absolutely clueless!
They also flatly refused to engage in a debate with the march organisers in front of the media and behaved more like "rent-a-mob" than the educated environmentalists. I have given my vote to the Green Party in the past - but never again. Shame on you!
ROSE DAVIES George Street, Swansea
As published in the Western Mail, 7th September 2004 SIR -
Martyn Shrewsbury, leader of the Wales Green Party, attacked David Bellamy and the wind power protest on the grounds of a quasi-religious "denial" of the link between fossil fuel and climate change.
This is a ridiculous and irrelevant point. The wind power industry provides just four thousandths of UK electricity generation and because there are many other sources of CO2 beside power stations, the total saving by wind is less than a thousandth of UK CO2 emission.
On a global basis this will have no measurable effect on atmospheric CO2 concentration and it is quite impossible for it, or the proposed extra wind generation by 2010, to alter climate change.
Martyn and his supporters have persuaded politicians to support windpower by promoting the falsehood that it can fill the growing energy gap. When it fails to do so, we shall be propelled by another government knee-jerk into a new nuclear programme.
Former Energy Minister, Brian Wilson, once a supporter of windpower and responsible for the holocaust at Cefn Croes has recently written "In the age of global warming, opposition to nuclear power is a cop-out rather than a rational or reponsible position." This was quoted in New Scientist last week.
Martyn - when this happens I shall hold you partly responsible.
Dr JOHN ETHERINGTON (former Reader in Ecology, Univesrsity of Wales), Llanhowell, Pembrokeshire.
APPENDIX 5 Party environment policies (Guardian 11.9.04)
Blair and Howard pledge action on climate change
Paul Brown, environment correspondent Saturday September 11, 2004 The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk>
Michael Howard and Tony Blair will compete to grab the initiative on climate change next week in speeches promising action to use tax incentives and aid to make renewables an attractive buy for the average household.
Michael Howard, who is opposing a wind farm in his Folkestone and Hythe constituency, was expected to endorse the building of new nuclear stations in his speech on Monday but opposition from within his party has led him to water down his proposal.
Mr Howard is expected to list a series of measures including a differential stamp duty on house sales to favour energy efficient properties and faster phasing out of HFCs, the chemical used in fridges and air conditioning which also damages the ozone layer.
The prime minister, who speaks on Tuesday, had a long meeting with environment groups last week. He was told a repeat of the green speeches he began to make before the 1997 election would raise a hollow laugh unless backed with action.
While the prime minister is unlikely to be able to offer anything on the tricky issue of transport, he is expected to announce some boost for renewables and match anything Mr Howard says on one of the great new potential environment areas, micro-generation for households. This is a series of small-scale plants from small wind turbines, solar water heating and electricity to combined heat and power plants and heat pumps.
The government has always said these were some way off but the technology has developed so fast it is available now.
Both came under attack from the Liberal Democrats, who produced a long list of their failings.
Norman Baker, the environment spokesman, said: "Michael Howard's record shows he truly is the Toxic Tory. In his time as environment secretary he gave an amnesty to water companies polluting rivers and attempted to repeal European environmental legislation.
"Tony Blair's government's record on the environment is woeful. Since Labour came to power carbon emissions from aircraft are up 23%. Labour have shown little interest in green issues, introducing only one debate on the subject in parliament since the last general election.
"Global warming, pollution and threats to wildlife are problems that are worsening daily and cannot be tackled with empty rhetoric. A yearly speech on such a crucial issue is simply not good enough.
"The Liberal Democrats have put forward genuine green alternatives, such as a restructuring of road tax with the most polluting cars paying significantly more."
In the seven years since Labour came to power progress has been slow or non-existent in many sectors, and targets are not being met - particularly the 20% cut in carbon dioxide emission by 2010.
The other major examples are traffic growth and failure to boost electricity production from renewables. Britain also remains close to bottom of the European recycling league.
This could prove an embarrassment to Mr Blair because as chairman of the G8 group of leading economies next year he is making climate change and Africa his priorities.
APPENDIX 6 NRPB publications (see www.nrpb.org)
First, some comments on NRPB-W59 June 2004: Summary of comments received on the May 2003 consultation on 0 - 300 GHz EMF and responses from NRPB.
My detailed submission to the consultation of May 2003 was in the attachment to Revolt news148, when I gave "one and a half cheers". The main outcome (or at least subsequent decision) came in the NRPB Advice (Doc 15-2) issued in March this year bringing the UK into line with ICNIRP, recognising the need for precaution but not addressing precautionary measures except to defer to government on that point (news161.5). I couldn't raise any more cheers, but As Prof. Denis Henshaw put it, one small step for man, one giant leap for NRPB.
Document W59 came out after the Advice, but it gives a useful insight into NRPB's position, reporting hostile pro-industry responses questioning whether NRPB should be considering such things at all. NRPB stuck to its guns, considering the questions of non-thermal effects and precaution, but also stuck to rebutting both, in effect, as far as NRPB was involved. NRPB may be using Sir Richard Doll's Chinese wall, which was to keep him from politics, more like the Israeli wall, to keep out the science of non-thermal effects.
W59 does show some positive response to points I raised, for which I am grateful. Wording has improved, but not everywhere. Hypersensitivity is taken seriously. There is a nice distinction between caution and precaution. The California report is considered, but grudgingly. "AGNIR is examining the issue of melatonin", but why didn't they do that much earlier? "There exists a spectrum of opinion within the scientific body", but why are the caveats selected one-sidedly to doubt effects rather than to suspect them?
W59 acknowledges concerns about selection of studies. It seems that the scientific advisory group AGNIR is fed papers to consider, as selected by the career civil servants at NRPB. That would be a form of censorship. In my response I mentioned that, of 26 relevant references in an article on melatonin and EMF, only 7 were cited in the consultation paper, although other papers from some authors were cited. In the latest AGNIR review of the science (Doc 15-3), this has increased from 7 only to 8. You can't say AGNIR skimped on references as they cited about 1,000 of them! But there are still omissions. Rather than having papers selected by civil servants at NRPB, why not give AGNIR a more independent brief - to search and find out - with free and open investigation of all and any sources to which their search takes them?
My submission to NRPB said a central question remained unanswered: what proportionate precautionary measures might be appropriate to the exposure of children to power frequency fields at 0.4 (T? NRPB are still a long way from addressing this gap between their thermal-based exposure restrictions around 100 (T and calling for more research. NRPB Deputy Director John Stather, in his presentation to the conference Childhood Leukaemia last week, reaffirmed that the guidelines were "based on dose- response and not on hypotheses". His abstract said that data suggested the possibility of cancer and effects on the nervous system, but they "lack any clear mechanistic basis or a well defined dose-response relationship". When I asked him why no precaution, he mentioned examples of NRPB precautionary advice, for example over melanoma from sunbathing. But they will not give precautionary advice for power frequency fields, despite the clear association with leukaemia and the mounting evidence on melatonin mechanisms and biological complexity. The gap in NRPB advice remains.
NRPB Document 15-4 reports a seminar "In terms of risk" from the Radiation, Risk and Society Group (RRSAG), an advisory group to NRPB, chaired by Sir Kenneth Calman, who as Chief Medical Officer signed off the Conservative government advertisement "British Beef is Perfectly Safe to Eat" in December 1995, three months before the U-turn which said it was the most likely cause of new-variant CJD. This group also evaluated that awful NRPB public meeting held in Birmingham 5.12.02; I wonder what they made of it.
The seminar report has some interesting features and good points, but errs like NRPB against concerns rather than for them. It rightly says "caution can work both ways depending on the defensive/offensive stance taken", but takes a stance play down or "explain" public concerns. Neither NRPB nor RRSAG seem to be able to grasp the idea of genuine science-based precaution in cases of scientific uncertainty where there are concerns based on scientific evidence. They seem so concerned not to "stretch" science that they can only understand and respond to science when they think it is certain (which it never is anyway). Perhaps they are held back by covering for past misdemeanours.
To look on the bright side, there is some good stuff on transparency, openness and trust. At least there is open discussion on uncertainty, precaution and public concerns. The full document 15-4 can be found at http://www.nrpb.org/publications/documents_of_nrpb/abstracts/absd15-4.htm and similarly for the other documents. Note 15-3 is about 1.6 MB and 220 pages.
-- Mike O'Carroll