By Richard Bramhall and the THE LOW LEVEL RADIATION CAMPAIGN:
Disgraceful pro-nuclear propaganda from the BBC It’s time to complain.
LLRC has sent a complaint, analysing the rubbish talked by “experts”
This is about Fallout: The Legacy of Chernobyl (BBC Radio 4 26th April 2011 20.00 – 20.40; still available to listen online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b010mckx)
The BBC’s Complaints process requires complaints to be registered within 30 days, so there are 11 days to go.
This programme failed to meet the BBC’s editorial standards for accuracy and impartiality. It downplayed the extent and gravity of the Chernobyl accident and deplored the way it turned public opinion against nuclear power. The script explicitly considered whether Fukushima would have a similar impact. Under BBC rules this means the topic of the programme was controversial and required particular attention to impartiality.
has an almost complete and very accurate transcript of the programme with a parallel commentary. Click the “BBC bias” button on the front page.
One “expert” after another talked factually incorrect rubbish (see the transcript for the detail of how we know it was rubbish).
The presenter, Nick Ross of “Crimewatch” fame, said the area contaminated by Chernobyl fallout was 400 times smaller than it actually is.
Professor Gerry Thomas, currently the BBC’s favourite expert on radiation and health, said Britain wasn’t exposed to the radiation from Chernobyl, although data from many official sources proves her wrong.
Nick Ross said the Chernobyl accident and the explosion at Fukushima reactor 3 were hydrogen explosions, whereas some experts contend that they were both prompt criticality detonations.
Vadim Chumak, a Ukrainian radiation dosimetry expert, tried to compare exposure to Chernobyl fallout with high natural background areas of India where, he claimed (wrongly), no-one has health problems associated with radiation. He gave Nick Ross a plausible measurement for natural background in Kiev but every other factual statement he made was wrong – by a factor of 1000 where he confused milliSieverts with microSieverts, and by 8760 in the case where he gave a dose per hour which (when you look into it) is really a dose per year. The detail is in the LLRC commentary, together with literature sources to prove who’s right. Mr. Chumak didn’t seem to realise that if people in parts of Kerala really were getting a dose of 50 milliSieverts an hour (which is what he said) then they’d be getting 21,900 times as much dose as the internationally recognised dose limit for adult workers in the nuclear industry. In fact, the actual mean doses in the high background parts of Kerala are 6.5 milliSieverts a year – not 50. Frighteningly, LLRC has found out that Chumak is a member of a new World Health Organisation committee on radiation and health research priorities.
Britain’s former chief scientific officer, Professor Sir David King, tried to down-play radiation exposures in Japan since Fukushima by comparing the doses with what you’d get from cosmic rays on a flight from London to New York. He said the 8-hour flight would give you “many, many times” as much as walking around Fukushima. He wasn’t as far wrong as Mr. Chumak, but he was still wrong.
With nuclear policy in the balance and 75 years-worth of nuclear debris still to clear up, your life is in their hands.
According to this programme, “scientists” know that, apart from 56 emergency workers and six children who died of thyroid cancer, Chernobyl has caused no deaths. People who believe “alarmist stories” about “the myth of Chernobyl” are only “anti-nuclear campaigners” peddling “fiction not fact”, “anecdote rather than science” with “inaccurate or fanciful reporting” and “wild claims fuelled by suspect science” citing “poor and alarmist research from official authorities” etc.etc. At no point was there any reference to the fact that those beliefs about the health impact are shared by many scientists and originate from some 30,000 papers of medical evidence, epidemiology and registry data. None of those scientists was named or interviewed and none of the papers was cited. None of the “official authorities in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia” accused of poor and alarmist research was identified and there was no analysis of their alleged shortcomings nor any material to give the other side of the picture apart from interviews with two researchers in Kiev whom Nick Ross sneered at. The largest collection of Chernobyl data published anywhere – Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and Nature – was ignored. This is a compendium of evidence including the challenging total of 985,000 deaths between 1986 and 2005 attributable to Chernobyl. Published in 2009 by the New York Academy of Sciences it is now, fortunately, a free download from here (Help with downloading it is here.)
LLRC has submitted a detailed complaint about Fallout: The Legacy of Chernobyl
to the BBC.