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Chris Busby vs Jack Valentin, 22 April 2009, Part 2/3

PostPosted: 23 Dec 2012, 13:36
by Lantzelot
Part 2, continued from Part 1: Chris Busby's presentation, followed by Jack Valentin's presentation

Full transcript of the video posted by Ditta Rietuma (BSRRW) with the debate in Stockholm between Chris Busby (ECRR) and Jack Valentin (ICRP), arranged by MILKAS, 22 April 2009.

The main reason for this transcript is to scrutinize the misuse by Chris Busby of some of the statements by Jack Valentin.
The transcript of a certain part can be found on several of Busby's web sites, for instance on the ECRR site:

The debate is spread over 2 videos posted on Vimeo:
Video 1:
Video 2:

The transcript is divided into 3 parts:
Part 1 (Video 1): Chris Busby's presentation, followed by Jack Valentin's presentation
Part 2 (Video 1 and 2): The debate/interview between Chris Busby and Jack Valentin
Part 3 (Video 2): Questions from the audience

The full transcript can also be downloaded as a pdf-file here.

Any errors in the transcript are mine.
/Mattias Lantz - NPYP

MG: Miles Goldstick (MILKAS)
CB: Chris Busby (ECRR)
JV: Jack Valentin (ICRP)
RvM: Roland von Malmborg (FmKK)
RR: Roland Reinholdsson (SERO)
AW: Andrzej Wojcik (SU)
BC: Björn Cedervall
JS: Johan Swahn (MKG)
JK: John? Kristiansen
EL: Eva Linderoth (MILKAS)
XX: Unknown persons

Part 2: The debate/interview between Chris Busby and Jack Valentin

MG: …more questions from the public. If the two speakers would like to ask each other questions for a few minutes. Any hands up from either of you?

CB: Oh yes, there is a whole list of questions that I would like to ask Dr. Jack, Dr Valentin, Jack, I want to talk to you about. It is very rare, I have never had the chance to sit face to face with such a key person of an organization that I have been consistently attacking for 15 years. So in the kindest way possible, and without any hostility, I really do want to try to get to the bottom of where you're coming from, and how you deal with this mess, with this question of radiation risk.

Because I did notice in your exposition, and a lot of that I disagree with, but I don't mean to go there. But I have some concerns. The first thing I notice in there was the, you said that the ICRP themselves take the evidence from the UN, is that true or do you take your evidence from all over?

JV: Yes, to both of these, because I could say the most important single source is the UNSCEAR. However that is basically a Reader's Digest of radiation biology and radiation physics, so it comprises a lot of different summaries. In addition to that we look at other organizations like BEIR in the US, and of course a lot of national institutes like RPP, HPA now which you don't like, the IRSN that you perhaps don't dislike quite as much if I understand you correctly, and several other such organizations.
We try to look at the information from many sources.

CB: Right, because this leads me to the question why you do not look at any of the sources that we address, and the sources that we regularly quote. So there has been, like you say, an iron curtain if you like, between the ECRR, or what used to people who now become ECRR, and the ICRP. And there's a very large amount of evidence in the peer review literature and of course outside of the peer reviewed literature, what we call gray literature, and indeed the the European Commission. The European Union have said in many documents that, and WHO too although they probably do not believe it although they say it, that one should look at all sources of information, and as scientists you should look at all sources of information, you can give them different weightings. But the fact is that you have never cited any one of the articles which falsify or argue that your levels of risk are out by an enormous amount. Why?

JV: This puts me in a slightly difficult position, of course, because I tend to agree with you that we should have quoted some of your stuff, and of course since we do not believe in a lot of the things that you're saying we should have said why we don't believe in that, but I tend to agree that ICRP should have done a better job in reacting as it were to some of your stuff. And of course, I'm not a civil servant. If you got the scientific secretary of ICRP, you press a button on its back then and it says what it's supposed to say. Now I am retired and can say, yes I think so.

But by and large I don't think that there are too many people who are greatly impressed by the evidence you're giving. I think it would have been much wiser in that situation to state more clearly why we are not impressed as it were, and thus also giving you a chance to come back again and say this is why I think you are wrong and so forth. Because that is of course the way forward to make sure that we, well if we do not agree with each other, but at least I agree with you that we should at least understand why we do not agree with each other.

CB: For example this book here was published in 2006, and prior to that the CERRIE Minority Report was published in 2004. And both of those documents, and this one certainly, has hundreds of references from the Russian language literature which show extraordinarily enormous effects from radioactivity on genetic damage in plants, so it can't be radio-phobia, in fish, which can't be radio-phobia either, an enormous document here with evidence which has been entirely ignored, and it's not mentioned in any of the UN or the ICRP or the BEIR documents which you must surely concede people would think are driven by biased scientists who want to sustain the idea that radiation is what you say.

JV: I have already agreed that it would have made more sense for us to quote more of your stuff. With us I do mean the mainstream community, not just the ICRP, not UNSCEAR, BEIR and such like. I don't know what more I can say. We're not talking here about individual results, because for most of them I believe some of my colleagues will come up with various technical comments. But the philosophical idea that we ought to comment more about your work I tend to agree.

CB: Ok, well here's another question. Why do you think there are childhood cancer clusters near nuclear sites, does this not in itself falsify the model?

JV: I am sure you are aware of that there are also studies that can show that there are clusters of leukemia around nuclear power plant sites where they never built a nuclear power plant.

CB: Yes, but I'm sure if you've read any of our information, you know that those data are confounded by the fact that the places where they are going to build the nuclear plants are on coastal areas which are contaminated by radioactivity or levels of high rainfall.

JV: Well I, if we're talking confounders that is the main types of criticisms that we have with all of your epidemiological studies. You don't have sufficient controls of the various biases which can be very large in some of these cases. ICRP does not have an official position on this, of course since we have commented specifically on this I can only talk as a person involved in the ICRP, but I know that people within the ICRP say in their discussions. But in principle people do not agree with your epidemiology. We can show numerous examples of other epidemiological studies where you get quite contradicting results of lower cancer risks, but the most famous one is of course Bernard Cohen and radon, you must be aware of that he shows very clearly, and falsely of course, a health effect of radiation.

CB: Yes, I do not need to go to Cohen and all that stuff, we would be here forever. But these arguments about confounding disappear in the case of the infant leukemias after Chernobyl. This is surely something that you cannot possibly support in any argument whatever, as these children were in the womb at the time of the Chernobyl accident. They were reported by five different groups in different countries in peer review literature papers. And taken together they must show that the levels of exposure that existed, microSv exposure, you have a statistically significant excess of infant leukemias in those children, now how can you possibly explain that?

JV: I can't but on the other hand I do not think you have enough explanations either. I honestly don't think that you can convince me that you are right. But we return to technical arguments where we would have had to sit with the papers in front of ourselves, send each other emails, send each other reports, go through the arguments, slowly but surely. And wouldn't that be a clever way of continuing our discussion between the ICRP and the ECRR.

CB: Well yes and no, but I can tell you one thing, we wouldn't be here tonight if I hadn't been throwing rotten eggs at you for 15 years. I mean it's only a result of bringing pressure on you people by chaining myself to nuclear power stations, writing in the literature, playing songs on the banjo, and using every possible method available to draw to the attention of the public the fact that your risk model is bankrupt. Otherwise we wouldn't be here.

JV: Are you sure that you wouldn't have had more success if you just come up friendly-like and talk to the people at HPA?

CB: Come on, I've been in the CERRIE committee, I've been the depleted uranium oversight board, I never had these people work. You know, the skullduggery and the kind of shenanigans that went on in those government committees just are all written about. And maybe you have read them, or maybe you haven't, but they're in all the books that I've written, and probably they're all on the internet as well, and those things happened. I mean, one of the secretariat of the CERRIE committee actually resigned, this is a nuclear industry woman, Marion Hill, resigned with a letter arguing that the CERRIE committee chairman and secretary were biased.

JV: I know that Marion retired, I know that you are very unhappy with Ian Fairlie, who of course was “in your camp” the other secretary member. I have heard many stories from CERRIE too, not all of them very favourable for you. But somehow, it's the wrong thing to work about who did the wrong thing at that time. Can't we look forward, and how can we be more constructive instead?

CB: Yes. I agree. I have been asked to ask you this, and I think you have already given the answer but I would like to give it again. Can the ICRP model be used by governments to predict the consequences of a nuclear accident in terms of cancer yield?

JV: I think basically no, because the uncertainties are too large. Now I think the uncertainties we are talking about would be in the order of an order magnitude, I think you talk about two orders of magnitude, and therefore we have a difference. But I think the order of magnitude that I'm talking about is enough to say that it's not useful for that sort of prognosis.

CB: Well what's the point of it then?

JV: You get an upper limit of course. You think that your worst likely number of cases would be X, that ten times X can be excluded.

CB: Ok, ok, ok. But then that means that it is useful, assuming that you've got this range of, I mean I'm talking now formally, would the government be formally reasonable in employing the risk model of the ICRP to calculate the risks, the cancer yield from some hypothetical explosion at Barsebäck say for example. Even if they could then say, well you know, on the basis that it might be ten times though, is that possible? Formally?

JV: I think that it would automatically be misused by both camps, and that therefore it is not... You don't do it like that, you look at individual doses, the highest individual doses and calculate which is the sort of area where people should not live, the sort of area where you would special need of quick evacuation in the case of an emergency and so forth. But these number exercises, I think it's just silly. It serves no good purpose whether you're in your camp, or in a pronuclear camp or an ICRP camp.

CB: Well in this case I am in a political camp, because as you may know I was science policy leader for the policy information network for the EU. And these are questions that the politicians want to know the answer to. When you decide to build new nuclear power stations or repair old ones or you have any policy relating to nuclear. One of the questions you need to ask yourself is what would happen if something went wrong, and therefore they need to know, they need to have some sort of model. And at the moment they are using your model. Now, are you saying that they should be or that they shouldn't be, I think you are saying that they shouldn't be using your model, they should be using no model at all, it's guess work or what?

JV: Well I certainly wouldn't say that they should use your model, because that would be...

CB: It would give the right answer.

JV: No, it would in my opinion give the wrong answer and at large expenditure which would not be sensible and which could have been used to save lives in other respects.

CB: Ok, here's one more question. The draft ICRP, you remember you said it was put up on the internet as a draft for people to make comments. Now that draft actually contained a statement which said that for some internal exposures, or for many internal exposures, the concept of absorbed dose concept was invalid, was not valid. We would agree with that of course, and maybe you would as well. But it disappeared in the final report, it is not in the final report. Why?

JV: Well, in fact in the annex, the biological annex, there's a whole section which talks about the difficulties. I don't know why this specific statement disappeared, but surely the person who reads these paragraphs in the biological annex will be able to see that there's a huge uncertainty.

CB: Well, I don't think we're talking about huge uncertainty, we're talking about the inability to use absorbed dose for internal radionuclides.

JV: As you have seen the ICRP position is that it is possible to use it although with large uncertainties.

CB: What do you call a large uncertainty?

JV: What do I call a large uncertainty? Well, certainly two orders of magnitude is a very large uncertainty.

CB: So it could be an error by two orders of magnitude for certain internal exposures. Then we agree?

JV: I would hate for you to go out and say: Jack agreed with me.

CB: Well, I need to have an answer.

JV: Then the answer is: I don't agree with you.

CB: But you just said two orders of magnitude?

JV: Yes, but I am sure you can find an exceptional case, a specific case where there would actually be that sort of and uncertainty. Remember it can also go in the other direction. And I'm sure that you can find in most cases uncertainties with are less than one order of magnitude which I would find normally. If we look at the existing evidence I don't think you've got enough evidence to prove your case.

CB: The existing evidence is 3 orders of magnitude. If we take the child leukemia clusters around nuclear sites, we're talking about 3 orders of magnitude.

JV: Well that's what you are claiming on the basis of a handful of cases.

CB: I'm claiming that on the basis of the German study, the Aldermaston study, the study at Sellafield, the study at Harwell and numerous other studies. The only answer which you've given to me is that they found minor excesses of leukemia in an extremely biased and rather stupid study done by Richard Doll, in which they were looking at particular studies along the south coast of England where there was already pollution as a later study by Alexander et al showed, associated with contamination of the sediments nearby.

JV: Just as an aside, let's not throw too much rotten tomatoes at Sir Richard. Sir Richard, just to let everybody know, was the person who took on the tobacco industry by proving that tobacco causes cancer. He was the person who proved that there is a radiation risk even after the lowest dose by looking at radiologists. He was the person who first told Alice Stewart that her early results didn't prove anything. And then said to her, which she never liked, that, he actually said to her very clearly “now that you've changed your analysis I agree with you.” And he stood up in public to say that. He's the person that who has actually been awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences their gold medal for radiation protection. I think you can't really say that he would be biased by the nuclear industry.

CB: I am afraid I shocked up Sir Richard Doll to the Danish committee for scientific dishonesty in 2004. So I've already said that and I can back it up with numerous documentation too. Richard Doll might have been doing some interesting stuff in the 1950s but later on he became very much an advocate of the nuclear industry, and was one of the main people behind these population mixing stuff, and he never believed that the Sellafield leukemia was caused by radiation.

JV: And neither do I though surely for different reasons.

CB: Ok, well, we have to open this up to the audience at some point I think. I just want to say about your ethics. I think that anyone is interested in this, the ethical position of the ECRR is quite different from the ICRP. The ICRP ethical situation is a very outdated system called utilitarianism which was developed by Bentham and John Stuart Mill. And basically with the utilitarianism you can have a slave society because the advantages of the many outweigh the advantages to the few. We believe in human rights, and we believe that you have the absolute human right and the integrity of your body and the decision to refuse to allow it to be contaminated by radioactivity. And that's a fundamental human right, it is a UN human right.

[Continued on]

JV: It is indeed, however societies also have rights and you always have the problem of balancing the individual vs society, and as you see we also have a duty at these, which is expressed in the terms of dose limits and which we have strengthened with dose constraints. And you cannot escape some amount of utilitarianism.

CB: Ok. I think that I should now give a bit of time to the audience, and I've have thrown all the tomatoes that I intend to throw.

[The transcript continues in Part 3: Questions from the audience]