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24 September 2014
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Scientist's radiation fears of North Yorks base

Inside Out, BBC ONE (North East & Cumbria), Monday 2 June, 7.30pm

A senior United States Air Force scientist has told the BBC he would not buy a house near Britain's biggest radar base because he fears its radiation could pose a serious health risk.

The role of RAF Fylingdales on the North York Moors is set to be expanded under plans for President Bush's new "Star Wars" missile defence system.

But BBC ONE's Inside Out programme for North East & Cumbria will tonight reveal that an almost identical base on Cape Cod in the USA is at the centre of a $5m investigation into an unexplained cluster of rare cancers in the local community.

In an exclusive interview with Inside Out reporter Sophie Hull, serving USAF researcher Dr Richard Albanese says he fears Phased Array Radiation from radars may have carcinogenic properties that science has yet to understand.

Dr Albanese: "If I were coming into this area (Cape Cod) to purchase a new house, I would live behind the radar."

Sophie Hull: "Why?"

Dr Albanese: "I am concerned about the radiation."

Sophie Hull: "So if you were buying a house on the North York Moors, which side of the radar would you choose to live on?"

Dr Albanese : "I'm medically very conservative and I would prefer to live outside the beam.

"I think the concerns I have mandate the kind of action that is being taken - medical study, aggressive urgent medical study taking a path between alarm and complacency."

What makes Dr Albanese's claims more disturbing is that he was a member of the medical team that first identified Agent Orange – a defoliant used during the Vietnam War – as the cause of unexplained cancers in American veterans.

He's now running the Cape Cod tests, which were ordered after local medical experts identified raised levels of breast and lung cancer in young women near the Sagamore base, 70 miles from Boston.

Emissions from the radar – like those at Fylingdales – are well within legal limits but some researchers are now questioning whether the complex waves of electro-magnetic radiation from Phased Array bases should be subject to much tighter regulation.

Some experiments have suggested they can actually damage DNA.

Dr Albanese told Inside Out: "Technology seems to lead our medical understanding by somewhere between ten and 20 years.

"With asbestos there was a 30 to 40 year delay and I think now it is the wireless systems."

He compared his concerns to those over X-Rays, asbestos and lead in fuel in the years leading up to scientific proof they could damage health.

There is no evidence of a cancer cluster in the Fylingdales area, but the Yorkshire Cancer Register confirmed no research has yet been done in the area.

Emissions from the base are known to be within existing legal limits.

The only known effect that emissions from the base have is on local motorists – numerous breakdowns on the busy A171 are due to interference with car alarms and immobilisers.

But local campaigner Jackie Fearnley says she is shocked by Inside Out's revelations from America, which come only months after the MoD reassured local people that the British base was safe.

Jackie, who lives in Goathland, says: "My husband and I have talked seriously about whether we go on living in such a place.

"We've see the way America decides policy purely to suit themselves and we are not necessarily going to be in very much control or given much information so we really must ask: is this the right thing for us?"

Cape Cod campaigner Richard Judge warned people in Goathland: "I would make sure the people in Britain understand they've been given a system that may not be safe."

Notes to Editors

BBC ONE's Inside Out must be credited if any extracts from the programme are used.

Also on this week's programme - Art connoisseur faces his critics in the north

Inside Out investigates the disappearance of actor Leslie Howard - BBC ONE West (30.05.03)

Morris seeks out weird and wonderful - BBC ONE North West (30.05.03)

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