Thursday, 20 September 2012

In defence of the messenger at the expense of the truth?

From CNSC:
"On the heels of the release of the documentary, Gentilly or Not To Be, David Suzuki wrote an impassioned plea in support of Dr. Notebaert for his efforts to reveal “the truth” of the impact on Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant (NPP) on the health of residents in the community.
Mr. Suzuki defends Dr. Notebaert as a member of his "cercle scientifique”, a group whose mandate it is to reinforce the role of science in public debate on the environment. That’s a worthy mission and I wholeheartedly agree that we must make decisions based on science – but it must be good science.
Dr. Notebaert’s arguments are not criticized on the basis of statistical significance or lack thereof. Rather, the criticism is based on the fact that Dr. Notebaert chooses to use only a handful of studies—most discredited internationally for faults in methodology—as “proof of harm.” He conveniently ignores the numerous other epidemiological studies and hundreds of well-controlled experimental studies that do not support his preferred conclusions.
A weight-of-evidence approach—based on recognized, well-established criteria—is the foundation of good science when it comes to the investigation of effects of all environmental contaminants, not just radiation. Scientists using this rigorous scientific approach have contributed to public debate and public policy on all major environmental issues over the past several decades. The public has a right to expect the same rigour when it comes to radiation-related health effects.
Two further clarifications:
  • The CNSC does not take a position on the commercial activities of Hydro-Québec and the energy policies of the province of Quebec. Our sole mandate is to regulate the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect the health and safety of people and the environment.
  • The CNSC does regulate using the precautionary principle, using science to set dose and release limits to protect people and the environment. Our stringent regulation of radioactive emissions from nuclear facilities results in concentrations of tritium in drinking water around Gentilly-2 actually lower than the California criterion of 15 Bq/l.
Let me reassure your readers that the staff of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) are actively engaged in scientific studies of the health effects and environmental behaviour of radiation, including tritium. I invite your readers to visit our web site ( to read our peer-reviewed scientific publications, public information documents and fact sheets.
Patsy Thompson, Ph.D.
Director General
Directorate of Environmental and Radiation Protection and Assessment
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission"

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