Somerset

Authority disputes Hinkley Point cancer increase claim

Hinkley Point
Image caption Hinkley Point power station is in west Somerset

A health authority has criticised an anti-nuclear group for suggesting the Hinkley Point power station in Somerset had caused an increase in cancer cases.

Stop Hinkley had two experts look at figures released from the South West Public Health Observatory.

They said there were 54 breast cancer diagnoses above what would have been expected in the Burnham area between 1994 and 2004.

The health authority said there was "no compelling evidence" to suggest a link.

In the 10 years analysed, 167 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Health officials had expected 113 women to have been diagnosed in the area covering around 10,000 people.

The director of the South West Public Health Observatory, Dr Julia Verne, said the numbers were small and fluctuated every year.

For instance, in one year there was a rise in diagnoses because a breast screening van had visited the area.

She said: "There is a link between radiation and cancer, but we have been consistently surveying the population around Hinkley Point and we have not found any link to suggest any rises in cancer that suggest it has been caused by Hinkley Point power station."

Ms Verne added that Stop Hinkley kept "reissuing the same old data".

Low-level exposure

The figures were released under the Freedom of Information Act after the House of Lords ruled incidence or diagnosis data should be made available.

Professor Derek Pheby, former director of the South-Western Regional Cancer Registry, who analysed the figures, said the "increased incidence of breast cancer in Burnham was very unlikely to have arisen by chance".

He said: "What we cannot know from the data made available is what this means, and how it has arisen."

Stop Hinkley said it believed there was a link due to people's proximity to the nuclear power station and the low levels of radiation emitted.

It said it was challenging how international bodies monitored the effects of cancer, saying guidelines covered exposure to large doses of radiation rather than continual, low-level exposure.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites