Australian news, and some related international items

Chris Murray responds to statements about UNSCEAR, made by nuclear propagandist Ben Heard

Ben Heard regards UNSCEAR as the “peak body” investigating radiation effects. “Impeccably
credentialed”, he says, “the foremost experts”. Heard claims that “The generally accepted evidence is that 100mSv per year is the minimum long term dose at which ANY increased cancer risk is perhaps detectable” and , re Fukushima, “The possibility of any latent fatality is exceedingly low.”

I wonder what he makes of UNSCEAR’s 2013 report?

” E7. The lifetime baseline risk of solid cancer in the general population of Japan is about 35% on average (males about 41%; females about 29%) [W12]. Following a hypothetical exposure of a group from the same population corresponding to an acute uniform whole-body dose of 1 Sv (equivalent to an absorbed dose of 1 Gy of low-LET radiation to all organs and tissues of the body), the Committee previously estimated the additional lifetime risk of solid cancer due to that exposure to be approximately 13% on average (annex A, table 70 in the Committee’s 2006 Report [U9]). Following doses of 0.1 Sv and 0.01 Sv, the additional lifetime risk due to the exposure was estimated to be smaller by factors of about 10 and 100, respectively.

“31. Adults living in the city of Fukushima were estimated to have received, on average, an effective dose of about 4 mSv in the first year following the accident; estimated doses for 1-year-old infants were about twice as high. Those living in other districts within the Fukushima Prefecture and in neighbouring prefectures were estimated to have received comparable or lower doses; even lower doses were estimated to have been received elsewhere in Japan. Lifetime effective doses (resulting from the accident) that, on average, could be received by those continuing to live in the Fukushima Prefecture have been estimated to be just over 10 mSv; this estimate assumes that no remediation measures will be taken to reduce doses in the future and, therefore, may be an overestimate. The most important source contributing to these estimated doses was external radiation from deposited radioactive material.”.

The population of Fukushima Prefecture is about 2 million. Anyone can do the figures. Even the 100% pro-nuclear UNSCEAR’s own estimates point to an eventual additional cancer total over the next 80 years of about 2,600.

March 29, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster


  1. My apologies. I have made an error here. The UNSCEAR statement

    “Lifetime effective doses (resulting from the accident) that, on average, could be received by those continuing to live in the Fukushima Prefecture have been estimated to be just over 10 mSv”

    does not mean that the 2 million population there will receive a 10 mSv average dose, but that they COULD receive UP TO 10 mSV. This is clear from Table C14 on page 193, which gives a 1.1 – 11 mSv range of doses for adults.

    I therefore withdraw my argument that these particular UNSCEAR figures point to thousands of cancers from Fukushima.

    However, I still argue that UNSCEAR’s 48,000 collective dose estimate does so. Since there is no known safe dose of radiation, there is no good reason to truncate casualty estimates at 10 mSv. For example, Richard Doll, David Brenner and a group of radiation experts stated in 2003 that

    “decreasing the number of damaged cells by a factor of 10 would be expected to decrease the biological response by the same factor of 10; i.e., the response would decrease linearly with decreasing dose. One could not expect qualitatively different biological processes to be active at, say, 1 mGy that were not active at 10 mGy, or vice versa. The argument suggests that the risk of most radiation-induced endpoints will decrease linearly, without a threshold, from ≈10 mGy down to arbitrarily low doses.”
    Cancer risks attributable to low doses of ionizing radiation: Assessing what we really know

    UNSCEAR’s figures do seem to state that the 2 million population Fukushima Prefecture alone will receive doses of at least 1 mSv. That alone would point to hundreds of extra cancers, and applying UNSCEAR’s full collective dose would point to 5,000 extra fatal cancers, mostly across Japan, over the next 80 years.


    Comment by Chris Murray | September 20, 2017 | Reply

  2. I read your review Mark Lynas’s book Nuclear 2.0 on Amazon which led me to this comment. I would appreciate an email exchange or conversation with you so that I could better understand the issues. Would that be possible. My email address is


    Comment by Anton van der Merwe | May 9, 2019 | Reply

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