British Nuclear Test veterans case -Dose or dross? Sellafield in the dock!
Day 8 Royal Courts of Justice, 22nd June 2016 cross examination of Mr Rick Hallard, ex-BNFL Sellafeld, witness for the Secretary of State for Defence
Page 145 146 147
Cross-examination by DR BUSBY
16 DR BUSBY: Mr Hallard, good afternoon. I want to start just to explore something about your function in the arguments that are going on in this Tribunal. I want to start by asking you about your work history with the nuclear industry. It’s true that from the time you left university until quite recently you worked for the nuclear industry and for a long time at British Nuclear Fuels, Sellafield.
(Mr Rick Hallard) A. I did.
Q. Now, what I want to ask you is a question about the scientific culture, ways of seeing the picture, if you like. I mean, for example, you must have been at Sellafield for much of the time that this discussion was going on about the childhood leukaemia cluster at Seascale?
Q. And it’s correct, is it not, that for a long time — perhaps even as far as I know up until the present day — the argument has been that the statistically significant excess of childhood leukaemia at Seascale could not have been caused by the radiation because the doses were too low, is that fair?
A. I think that’s a fair summary. As I understand it, I think from the most recent COMARE report that I’ve read I think the size of the cluster is actually starting to shrink now, if that’s the correct term, that the excess is getting smaller if my memory serves me correctly. But you’re quite right, there has been —
Q. But there is still an excess —
A. There is still an excess risk there.
Q. — risk of childhood leukaemia. Of course childhood leukaemia is a well known consequence of exposure to ionising radiation, is it not?
A. Ionising radiation, yes, is a possible cause. I don’t think it’s the only one.
Q. No, of course not. But I think basically what I’m asking you is this: that does it not seem curious to you that here you have evidence of an effect, which is an effect that can be caused by radiation, it’s a well known consequence of exposure to radiation, and causation has been denied because you start with the dose rather than looking at the effect and working backwards to the dose. Is that a fair —
A. Okay, there’s quite a lot I could say about that.
Q. Well, of course, please do.
A. I think — sorry, I’m just getting my thoughts together when I said that.
Q. It’s just that I think that this is an important area because what’s happening here also in this Tribunal is very largely the same thing. On the one hand people are saying the doses are too low to cause the effect. On the other hand a lot of people are saying “Hey, look here’s a lot of effects and surely we should be working from the effects back to the doses,” or at least there are some people who are saying that. It’s a reasonable logical inference, if you like.
MR JUSTICE BLAKE: You got the gist of that question?
A. I have.
MR JUSTICE BLAKE: That maybe the hypothesis of childhood leukaemia in Sellafield should make us question the dose.
A. I understand, my Lord.
MR JUSTICE BLAKE: I tried to summarise but I think that’sthe question.
MR JUSTICE BLAKE: Yes.
A. Childhood leukaemia in Seascale has been a cause of concern for many years, not least among the Sellafield workforce, because of course some of the children were children of the Sellafield workforce and in fact I knew one of them. So it has been a cause of significant worrying concern, as indeed have some of the other episodes. When Dr Gardner came on to the site to explain his hypothesis that caused a great deal of concern. I heard him give his presentation. That was another theory about the possible cause of the leukaemia excess in Sellafield. That caused a great deal of worry. It changed quite a lot of practices on the site as well. But I think the most important — and can I just stress first of all that I’m not a epidemiologist. I hope that’s understood.
DR BUSBY: Of course. I just wondered
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