Sounding Off: Risks of turbine collapse (Allen Fraser)

Those with an interest in windfarms may be interested to hear about the collapse on Friday 2nd January in light winds of an 80 metre tall 2500kW wind turbine. This turbine was one of eight in the Screggagh wind farm on Murley Mountain in County Tyrone. The industrial sized turbine, valued at over £500,000, collapsed and broke up scattering debris over a wide area. (For sake of comparison the proposed Viking Windfarm turbines are 3600kW and 145 metres tall).

People living in the area said the rotor blades were spinning out of control and the sound of the breaking apart was heard more than 11 kilometres (seven miles) away. Debris from the stricken turbine is scattered across the mountainside up to a kilometre away. A large spike is impaled in the earth several hundred metres from the turbine site. (The attached pictures are courtesy of Padraig McDermott).

Turbine collapses such as this are becoming a more common occurrence worldwide with the proliferation of subsidised windfarms. So great is the concern about such incidents that a new rule has been introduced in Bavaria to regulate the minimum distance of turbines from dwellings. This is because turbines planned for this area will be 200 metres tall.

These new rules introduce a formula for minimum distance from dwellings, i.e. setback distance equals 10xH where “H” is the height of the turbine. Thus for a 200 metre tall turbine the setback distance will be (200metres x 10) two kilometres.

The rationale behind this formula is that the basic laws of ballistics tell us that in a turbine break-up scenario blade debris can be projected and bounce to a distance of 10xH. This applies only to turbines on a flat field, for those built on a hillside flying debris would carry and bounce for a much greater distance.

Assuming the Viking turbines are only 145 metres tall then the danger zone around them will be 1.45 kilometres (one mile). In actuality, the danger zone around the Viking turbines will be much greater for they are planned to be built on slopes and on hill-tops.

Unlike in Bavaria there is no law in Scotland that imposes the setback of these industrial giants from dwellings but there is a recommended setback distance of two kilometres. Viking Energy chose to ignore this recommendation. Why? Because over 70 of the proposed 103 Viking turbines are planned to go up within two kilometres of people’s houses. If they had adhered to this recommendation to keep people and property out of the danger zone there would be no Viking windfarm.
Remembering that much of the Viking windfarm is to built on Shetland Islands Council owned land, this is not the first time that Viking Energy, Shetland Charitable Trust and the SIC has played fast and loose with people’s lives and property.

Two years of careful scrutiny by the experts in the SIC planning department recommended that the Viking windfarm was not appropriate for Shetland, yet this was binned in favour of “back of the fag packet economics” for which that (now discredited) council was famous.

There was a Health Impact Assessment that was lauded as “world class” then cancelled by Viking Energy, and a subsequent health investigation was binned by trustees of Shetland Charitable Trust. Before and since then, report after report in medical and scientific journals has come out highlighting adverse health effects of infrasound from windfarms.

Noise, particularly low-frequency noise pollution, impacts negatively on the health of those living within range of the turbines. This includes a variety of symptoms including: sleep disturbance, depression, suicidal tendencies, lack of concentration and energy, tinnitus, breathing difficulties, migraines, nausea, etc. Most worrying of all are reports of deaths of otherwise healthy animals and stillbirths and deformities in newborns and yearlings.

Shetland’s hills carry the highest risk of peat-slides in the British Isles due to its unique topography combined with rainfall patterns. Much of the Viking windfarm will be built in the highest risk areas of Shetland. Construction of the industrial complex with its 100 kilometres of access roads to vast quarries and turbine sites will completely change the drainage patterns of the hillsides. Peatslides will be inevitable. Peatslides, like fragmenting turbine blades, can kill. Bearing in mind the close proximity of this industrialisation to dwellings, who is picking up the insurance tab if the windfarm is built?

The sitting Shetland Islands Council that handed over the Viking Energy Project to the Charitable Trust was the same one that over many years got Shetland into a needless financial mire that the present council is trying to claw its way out of. It was pretty much the same band of people that sat round the table in the Town Hall and denied Shetland (and the residents in the danger zone of the windfarm) the benefit of a Public Local Inquiry where all these concerns could have been addressed. Will the present 22 that sit around the table in the Town Hall have the guts or the political will to address these concerns by denying Viking turbines access to SIC owned land? I doubt it.

With or without a billion-pound interconnector cable the Viking Windfarm is not financially viable. It is not environmentally desirable. It is not safe for those living within the danger zone of 70 turbines. Our MP, MSP and our councillors are deluding themselves by thinking that if a fairy godmother pays for an interconnector cable it will unlock a great renewables industry.

Where do they think this industry is going to find the land in Shetland to build all the extra turbines needed to make their industry viable? A “Ring o’ 145 metre tall Roses” next to their houses? I don’t think so. The wavefarm was always a non-starter. The plan of filling in Bluemull Sound to generate electricity just four times a day to meet the extra demands of an interconnector is just laughable.

If our councillors and Viking Energy had listened to their own planning department all those years ago then options for an off-grid renewables project for Shetland could have been looked at. If this had happened then perhaps by now we would have a viable off-grid renewables industry appropriate to Shetland supplying power for our own needs.

Allen Fraser


Add Your Comment
  • Erik Smith

    • January 7th, 2015 14:39

    And yet again, the NIMBY’s prove that they have learned nothing in the years that this debate has gone on. Every single one of Allen’s points has been answered over and over again ad nauseum, yet Allen just continues repeating long debunked rubbish. Windmill make people ill, they will cause peatslides, they kill livestock, and the principle claim? How many windmills have actually collapsed over the last ten years out of the tens of thousands that have been built? A handfull. And how many people have been injured by turbines? None. Zero. Give it up, Allen. You lost this debate years ago, when you were unable to come up with anything more convincing than windmills are ugly.

    • Allen Fraser

      • January 7th, 2015 16:42

      Up until September 2014 – Total number of accidents: 1614.
      Number of fatal accidents: 110
      data from

      I don’t actually have a turbine site in my back yard (i.e.Viking Energy’s 2 km danger zone) nor do I remember saying turbines are ugly just the degraded landscape that industrialisation causes.

      Not one of my points have ever been answered in any scientific or rational manner by anyone from Viking Energy.

      Erik Smith sounds a bit like the Pool Supervisor

    • James Mackenzie

      • January 7th, 2015 21:04

      The poverty of Erik Smith’s response – apart from his extraordinary concluding sentences – is in his choice to use the term NIMBY. If he honestly thinks that the large numbers of people – let alone the several organisations – who oppose this windfarm are opposed to something “ugly” in their “backyard”, he has obviously learned nothing about its possible environmental and human impacts , and is utterly blinkered by his own prejudices. This, sadly, seems to be a standard response to Viking Windfarm opponents.

      • John Tulloch

        • January 8th, 2015 10:11


        When people like Erik Smith use the term NIMBY, we know instantly that it won´t be going into THEIR BACKYARD – what the mean is they´re quite happy for it to go into OTHERS´backyards.

        But, if and when the interconnector cable materialises, the pressure will be on for more wind farms to use up its colossal overcapacity and you have to think that areas like Bressay, the Ness of Sound, the area enclosed between Da Black Gaet to the Ladies´ Drive and Da Paets o Scallowa, would be prime areas for development, as would the South Mainland from Quarff to Maywick, and so on…..

      • Kevon Martis

        • January 9th, 2015 16:46

        Windfarm campaigners are not NIMBYS. They are victims of anti-coal, anti-nuke and anti-gas NIMBYS.

    • Johan Adamson

      • January 8th, 2015 9:05

      Me thinks he doth protest too much

  • Ali Inkster

    • January 7th, 2015 15:56

    Oh dear Eric are you sure of your figures? None? zero? maybe you would like to debunk this groups research in detail, .

  • Iantinkler

    • January 8th, 2015 9:24

    Mr Erik Smith’s argument appears as intelligent as his lack of knowledge, ignorance is such bliss.
    The wind energy industry has admitted that 1,500 accidents and other incidents have taken place on wind farms over the past five years. The figures – released by RenewableUK, the industry’s trade body – include four deaths and a further 300 injuries to workers.
    Reference :

  • David Spence

    • January 8th, 2015 11:59

    It makes no difference to those people who are only thinking of pushing the project ahead because of one thing, and thing only…….Profit…..nothing else.

    It is because of this short term thinking that has caused much of the environmental and ecological damage to certain parts of the world as well as the planet as a whole.

    People of this mentality are the most dangerous of all because their vision is so blinkered, they only see £ or $ signs and nothing else. The destruction and harm they caused they do not see. They profess to be doing good, but all they care about is themselves and what good they can benefit from their actions regardless. (the selfish principle in business which has no morals at all)

  • Jonathan Sumner

    • January 8th, 2015 14:58

    Well, um…

    Both Mr Fraser’s and Mr Smith’s comments are phrased in needlessly provocative terms, and there are errors of fact and emphasis in both, which detract from their authority.

    Getting back to the issue in question, that of the accidental collapse of wind turbines: yes, more are collapsing worldwide, because there are more of them standing worldwide. But has anyone been killed or injured by a collapsing turbine? I don’t know. I can’t find any references to any in an admittedly brief internet search. The Caithness document referred to by Mr Fraser and Mr Inkster is rather difficult to interpret because it doesn’t assign deaths to types of incidents. It refers to an accident in Brazil in which 17 people died in a bus crash when it collided with a wind turbine…but that occurred when the bus collided with the tower section as it was being transported to the site on a lorry, not because it collapsed.

    Does anyone have any useful facts relating to injuries caused by collapsing turbines?


  • iantinkler

    • January 14th, 2015 15:02

    Here we go again. Bodes well for those under Viking turbines!
    A wind farm in the Borders has been shut down after part of a turbine was found by a roadside.The three-metre-long turbine component, which is made of fibreglass, was found close to the Longpark wind farm near Stow.

  • Colin Hunter

    • January 14th, 2015 21:00

    I have only three things to say:
    1: Three mile Island
    2: Chernobyl
    3: Fukushima.
    If you want to continue to be able to reach out your hand and switch on the light after all the fossil fuel has gone, it has to come from somewhere. It is called “alternative” and renewable for a reason. It is also relatively new and unproven in the grand scheme of things. I know what I’d sooner be living next door to!

    • John Tulloch

      • January 15th, 2015 23:45


      You sound so confident that fossil fuels will run out imminently that I assume you must be privy to some special piece of information which has, so far, eluded the rest of us?

      Should we be dramatically increasing our heating oil storage tank space with a view to hoarding supplies to keep us going in our old age?

      Perhaps, you will be able to further enlighten us with an approximate date on which this long foretold catastrophe will overtake us?

      In particular, will “Fossil Fuel Ground Zero” predate the “Thermageddon” prophesied by the “Church of the Latter Day Gore”?

      Or are we back to the equivalent of Edward the Confessor, notionally, commanding his subjects not to burn coal or peat, lest we might have none, today?

      • John Tulloch

        • January 15th, 2015 23:50

        CORRECTION: Above comment should read “…..subjects to burn WOOD or peat…..”

    • Johan Adamson

      • January 16th, 2015 8:49

      Two wrongs will never make a right. What about solar and tide as renewables, hopefully safer, cheaper and more efficient, Colin Hunter

      • John Tulloch

        • January 16th, 2015 11:24

        Apart from the cost of these contraptions, a major problem with all of the ones mentioned is their inability to meet demand due to the intermittency of their energy production.

        For example, what would we do at slack tide on Hogmanay, with no wind and 10C of frost?

        Coal, peat, “wracks”? Tilley lamps?

        Oh, sorry, I forgot – “batteries, of course!”

        Renewable energy has its place and time, however, until all sources of affordable, dependable energy have been exhausted that role is limited, essentially, to remote locations with no prospect of affordable connection to a reliable supply or locations subject to particular environmental or other sensitivities.

        If people want to put solar panels on own their roofs to reduce their own bills, fine.

        Just don’t expect the less well-off to pay several times the price of fossil fuel energy when you export your solar energy electricity to the local grid.

    • Tom Clark

      • February 14th, 2015 3:59

      In Canada nimby means ‘ next it might be you’

  • David Spence

    • January 15th, 2015 10:46

    Arthur C. Clarke once said

    ‘ The only way human kind is going to sustain its energy levels and not continue to pollute the atmosphere with fossil fuel emissions is to go Nuclear. No other source of energy comes even close to the demand required. ‘

    Wind energy may be cleaner, but the damage caused to natural habitat and the environment would be just as catastrophic as conventional energy sources of today. You may save the environment in one way, but you will destroy it in another, and the ramifications of such technology would almost certainly nullify any potential good.

    • Johan Adamson

      • January 16th, 2015 8:51

      They need to solve the problems relating to nuclear – what to do with the waste and make it safer, and reassure the world its safe, before it can be an alternative.

  • iantinkler

    • January 15th, 2015 16:21

    Colin Hunter, draws our attention to the three worst reactor accidents in history. Absolutely terrifying, total casualties from radiation fallout , nine (Chernobyl), nil (Three Mile Island), nil (Fukushima). Total further anticipated? None yet attributable to any of the three incidents. To put some kind of reality behind these statistics, Shetland roads are far, far more dangerous, you actually do live next to those, Colin. Get real Colin, scaremongering is a bit stupid when you are in total ignorance of the facts. References: World Health Organisation, International Atomic Energy Agency.

  • john irvine

    • January 15th, 2015 20:16

    What I would like to know is why Viking Energy are pressing on with this mammoth venture when the majority of the Shetland population are against it, and that`s before you start to look at all the negatives.

    What was that word?

    Oh yes,


  • David Spence

    • January 15th, 2015 21:10

    Ian, and anybody else, it may surprise you (and where most people have not even considered) that green house gases by agriculture and related industries produces more pollution that all forms of transportation put together.

    Agriculture is also responsible for more destruction of natural habitat than any other source.

    Agriculture has also been responsible for the extinction of more animals and wildlife than any other source.

    In all this destruction, none of the major environmentalists have brought this to attention. However, in saying this, over 1,500 environmentalist campaigners have been killed in South America alone in bringing this issue to the fore and the destruction agriculture is doing to the rain forest.

    Because agriculture has commercial and economic interests with many companies (medicine, fashion, food, cosmetic industries but to name a few) then the destruction it causes has been silenced by those who would prefer greed and profit over anything else.

    • Ali Inkster

      • January 16th, 2015 14:48

      Should we ban agriculture then? Or we could just insist that supermarkets buy the whole crop instead of just the part that meet exacting specifications. between 40% and 60% of all food crops is dumped because supermarkets don’t like the way it looks. Since agriculture is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions accounting for roughly half of all CO2 produced this simple action could lower our CO2 emissions by a quarter and lower the cost of most food. No need for stifling taxes or mega wind farms.

  • Michael Inkster

    • January 16th, 2015 0:24

    Yes, well said, no one should underestimate the benefits of Chernobyl.

  • iantinkler

    • January 16th, 2015 12:50

    World Health organisition. International. International Atomic Energy Agency. or who? I realise some are to ignorant to know the difference, usually the Greenies and assorted Flat Earthers, whom would be hard pressed to know the diferrance between atomic energy, nuclear fusion and atomic fission.. As for Fukushima, not a single radiation death . Notice I said death from fall out not acute radiation sickness from direct exposure, a bit too deep fo some perhaps. ( !!!)

  • John Tulloch

    • January 16th, 2015 19:55

    It has been reported elsewhere that Energy and Climate Chage Secretary Ed Davey intends to bring forward the date from which the “minimum island strike price” for renewable energy generated in Scottish isles will apply to July, in order to bring forward the “viability” of Viking Energy and similar projects.

    I hope this doesn’t put political pressure on the Supreme Court to rule in favour of the Scottish government in the Sustainable Shetland v Scottish Government case, currently sub judice, with the verdict due to be announced within a fortnight?

    I’m sure Mr Davey wouldn’t do anything as daft as “anticipating the course of a trial or predicting the outcome”, or “campaigning to influence proceedings”.

    I’m just a country boy, not a lawyer, but couldn’t that type of thing be construed as “contempt of court”, a criminal offence, punishable by unlimited fines and/or up to two years imprisonment?

  • David Spence

    • January 17th, 2015 2:08

    Correct me if I am wrong, but most of the nuclear incidents have involved Nuclear Reactors that were very much older (20, 30 or 40+ years old)?

    I believe France produces 75% of its electricity with Nuclear Power, and it has had no issues to the extent of the more serious problems highlighted. I believe in the UK, it is around 19% and the US 9%?

    Today’s more modern Nuclear Reactors have so many safe-guards incorporated within them, it is almost impossible for a Nuclear Reactor to go into meltdown? I may be wrong, but today’s more modern Reactors are very much safer than what was initially build 20, 30, 40 or more years ago…….when Nuclear Energy was very much in its infancy?

    • Allen Fraser

      • January 17th, 2015 13:27

      My letter was mainly about the about the siting of Viking’s turbines too close to dwellings, not about nuclear reactors. However all three nuclear accidents mentioned were due to human failure to follow the correct procedure or by building external protection to the sites – not failures of the nuclear plant design.

      The Chernobyl nuclear accident happened because during a routine test the engineers didn’t follow the laid down procedures. Three Mile Island was also due to human errors in a non nuclear part of the site. Fukushima nuclear site got flooded because the site protection only allowed for a 10 metre high tsunami, not the 15 metre one that occurred.

      If Viking turbines are built then accidents that will affect people who live within the 2km of the turbines will be due to failure of the turbines (which has happened elsewhere) and the siting of turbines contrary to government guidelines.

    • Tom Clark

      • February 14th, 2015 4:04

      Very much so David – but as one with 30+ years of operating Nuclear stations I can tell you the 20,30,and 40 yr olds are still very safe .

  • Gareth Fair

    • January 17th, 2015 8:57

    The 9 deaths figure is a bit misleading, as you point out you exclude the 41 people whose deaths are directly attributable to the Chernobyl disaster.
    Those 9 deaths were from the 4000 cases of child thyroid cancer at that time.
    The report also mentions a doubling of the incidence of leukaemia among the most highly exposed Chernobyl liquidators.

    However the 2005 report you use as a source in estimated 4000 eventual deaths from radiation exposure this figure only included the case of 200,000 people involved in the cleanup, and the 400,000 most directly affected by the released radioactivity.
    The full report estimated 9000 will die from cancer caused by radiation fro the accident among the 6.9 million most-exposed Soviet citizens from significantly contaminated areas in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

    An IAEA press officer admitted that the 4000 figure was given prominence in the report “…to counter the much higher estimates which had previously been seen. … “It was a bold action to put out a new figure that was much less than conventional wisdom.””

    Looking outwards in terms of their surface areas, Belarus (22% of its land area) and Austria (13%) were most affected by higher levels of contamination. Other countries were seriously affected; for example, more than 5% of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden were contaminated to high levels . More than 80% of Moldova, the European part of Turkey, Slovenia, Switzerland, Austria and the Slovak Republic were contaminated to lower levels. And 44% of Germany and 34% of the UK were similarly affected.

    The International Agency for Research on Cancer, another UN agency, predicts 16,000 deaths from Chernobyl.

    With the Chernobyl accident there have been difficulties in gathering reliable data from areas left in administrative chaos after the accident. Hundreds of thousands of people were moved away from the affected areas, and the break-up of the Soviet Union led to records being lost.
    One assessment by the Russian academy of sciences says there have been 60,000 deaths so far in Russia and an estimated 140,000 in Ukraine and Belarus.
    While these might be on the high side I doubt you will find anyone claiming 9 deaths in 2015.

  • iantinkler

    • January 17th, 2015 10:30

    Gareth Fair. Please reference your reports, they look like no more than the usual speculative, anti nuclear, nonsense .The point am making is that the most recent statistics from epidemiological studies show no increase whatsoever in leukemia or hard tumors in those exposed to the fallout from Chernobyl. These were completely independent studies overseen by the WHO and the IAEA (9 July 2013). These results were so contrary to previous estimates of mass casualties a complete rethink of the hazards and dangers has been undertaken. It is no longer believed that the cellular damage caused by irradiation is a linear function of the dosage but is more likely to require a dose threshold to be crossed before a significant health hazard is reached. Clearly the evidence of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and most certainly Fukishima would indicates that. The simple fact is over similar time scale Shetland motorists and roads have proved far more fatal than the World’s most significant civil nuclear fallout incidents. As regards Wind Farms, sadly people fall off them with great frequency!! It is just a matter of perspective but nuclear is nothing like as dangerous as the ignorant and misinformed think.

    • Gareth Fair

      • January 18th, 2015 20:54

      Yes I’m reading the same WHO report.
      Projected deaths p108 in Figure 12.

      If you look at chapter 7 it explains how they come to those figures and the current health implications and latency in cancer detections.

      It’s published in 2006 not 2005 as I stated but the data is older than that.

  • iantinkler

    • January 17th, 2015 10:47
  • iantinkler

    • January 17th, 2015 18:38

    Gareth, The point am making is that the most recent statistics from epidemiological studies (2013) show no increase whatsoever in leukaemia or hard tumours in those exposed to the fallout from Chernobyl. These were completely independent studies overseen by the WHO and the IAEA. The results were so contrary to previous estimates of mass casualties a complete rethink of the hazards and dangers has been undertaken. It is no longer believed that the cellular damage caused by irradiation is a linear function of the dosage but is more likely to require a dose threshold to be crossed before a significant health hazard is reached. Clearly the evidence of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and most certainly Fukishima would indicates that. The simple fact is over similar time scale Shetland motorists and roads have proved far more fatal than the World’s most significant civil nuclear fallout incidents. As regards Wind Farms, sadly people fall off them with far greater frequency!! It is just a matter of perspective but civil nuclear energy is nothing like as dangerous as the ignorant and misinformed think.
    Referance: ((2011, World Health Organisation)) I quote “Apart from the dramatic increase in thyroid cancer incidence among those exposed at a young age (nine deaths), there is some indication of increased leukaemia and cataract incidence among workers. Otherwise, (fallout danger as I quoted) there is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of solid cancers or leukaemia due to radiation in the exposed populations. There also is no convincing proof so far of increases in other non-malignant disorders that are related to ionizing radiation.”
    2 Report of the UN Chernobyl Forum Expert Group “Health”, WHO, Geneva, 2006:
    3 UNSCEAR Chernobyl report (2011):
    4 See basic facts on radiation units and doses:

    • John Tulloch

      • January 18th, 2015 17:44

      Fascinating, Ian. If you’re right then this could be yet another scare story from the “Greens” which has cost the world dearly.

      GM crops, global warming….the list grows ever longer.

      • Robin Barclay

        • January 19th, 2015 13:04

        Add fracking to that list.

    • Ali Inkster

      • January 18th, 2015 23:21

      And yet du still wears a lead apron and stands ahint a screen when du gees patients x-rays.

    • John Tulloch

      • January 19th, 2015 11:33

      This short, linked article from the eminent climate scientist Dr Roy Spencer, who supervises the US satellite global temperature monitoring system at Huntsville, Alabama and who sounds pretty disillusioned, isn’t about nuclear power but tells us how science has been hi-jacked by politicians as just another tool to influence the masses.

      Highly recommended.

    • Gareth Fair

      • January 19th, 2015 14:39

      What the WHO report (as I am reading it) is saying that there was a spike in Thyroid cancers in the surrounding areas (especially in children).
      These can, with certainty, be attributed to radiation exposure as such cases are rare in the population under normal circumstances and Thyroid cancers show up quickly following radiation exposure.
      There have been indications of rises in leukaemia and hard cancers in the population but these are impossible to link to the radiation exposure as there are many cancer cases under normal circumstances which can be caused by a variety of different reasons.

      In my interpretation, no one is saying exposure to this type of radiation is safe. It is one of many things that increase the risk of dying from cancer and other diseases.
      There are many other factors, smoking, passive smoking, non radioactive environmental pollution etc etc which increase the risk of cancer probably to a higher degree than the majority of the exposure levels in the area around Chernobyl.
      The report is saying no one will ever be able to put a number on the death toll from Chernobyl due to the difficulties separating out background cancer cases, mobility of the population and poor recording of individual radiation exposure.
      Instead it compares known affects of radiation exposure and projects that onto the highly and less highly exposed populations on the areas around the accident.
      What that means is over the lifetimes of those people it can be reasonably expected that 3.5% of the highest exposed population will die from health issues resulting from the affects of radiation and 0.9% from the wider area looked at and in a later study 0.01% across Europe. Bear in mind that on average over 40% of them would have been expected to contract cancer without the Chernobyl accident.

      WHO / International Agency for Research on Cancer summary below.

      You seem to be taking the leap that because cancers cannot be linked with a high degree of certainty there are no cancer deaths as a result of Chernobyl radiation?

      That’s the problem I was pointing out. We know radiation exposure increases cancer risks. The WHO document as well as all the other studies I have read point this out clearly.

      If there are no long term heath effects why would it be necessary to maintain a 30km exclusion zone around the Chernobyl reactor and build the Chernobyl arch will cost about $1.5 billion at its completion, financed largely by the United States and about 30 other nations including the UK?

      • John Tulloch

        • January 19th, 2015 16:17

        An interesting argument, Gareth.

        I won’t pretend to know anything about the subject, however, if Ian is

        “…..taking the leap that because cancers cannot be linked with a high degree of certainty there are no cancer deaths as a result of Chernobyl radiation”,

        then does not the converse i.e. “others are taking the leap that DESPITE cancers being unable to be linked with a high degree of certainty, there ARE more cancer cases as a result of Chernobyl radiation”, also apply?

        Surely radiation risks have been well-researched by now and medical science is unequivocal where health risks associated with smoking are concerned.

        Why isn’t it clear about radiation risks without having to draw conclusions from the necessarily murky picture of the post-Chernobyl population data?

      • Gareth Fair

        • January 19th, 2015 22:16


        I’m no expert on radiation, I am just reading the 2006 WHO report Ian puts a link in for and questioning the 9 deaths quoted as being applicable in 2015.
        The arguments are all from that report not mine.
        The estimates the WHO puts forward are educated guesses based on what is known about radiation.
        Read it and make your own mind up if it is a leap.

  • iantinkler

    • January 19th, 2015 12:25

    Try and read a bit Ali, then you may manage an informed opinion and be in a position for intelligent comment The Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2000, (IR(ME)R 2000), may be a good start point, if you can understand a word of it. Incidentally a dental X-ray is about as dangerous as a third of a cigarette in a life time. No lead apron needed.
    Referance: ttps://

  • iantinkler

    • January 19th, 2015 15:39

    No one has claimed that there are no long term health risks associated with the Chernobyl accident, Gareth. It is just they are being greatly exaggerated by scaremongering, ignorant fools, I choose those words with care. It is as simple as that, no more no less. Atmospheric pollution from industry kills tens of thousands every month worlwide, if the Greenies and anti-nuclear ignoramuses must whine they should whine about that.

    • Gareth Fair

      • January 19th, 2015 21:47

      So do yo agree that the 9 deaths acknowledged in a report published in 2006 will have increased by 2015 based on the ‘long term Heath risks associated with the Chernobyl accident’?

  • iantinkler

    • January 19th, 2015 20:53

    These are not my words but come from the most authoritative Medical organisation on the planet . 7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution:Reference:
    25 March 2014: World Health Organisation | Geneva – In new estimates released today, WHO reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. Now does that put Chernobyl in perspective Gareth? Now also not my words “Apart from the dramatic increase in thyroid cancer incidence among those exposed at a young age (nine deaths), there is some indication of increased leukaemia and cataract incidence among workers. Otherwise, (fallout danger as I quoted) there is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of solid cancers or leukaemia due to radiation in the exposed populations. There also is no convincing proof so far of increases in other non-malignant disorders that are related to ionizing radiation.” Now that is after 25 years of study by the worlds top scientific minds. What is so difficult for you to understand Gareth about ” there is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of solid cancers or leukaemia due to radiation in the exposed populations. There also is no convincing proof so far of increases in other non-malignant disorders that are related to ionizing radiation.” Only a very closed mind would have trouble with that.

    • John Tulloch

      • January 20th, 2015 9:10

      And of these 7 million deaths, the number attributable to “pollution” by nature’s plant growth-enhancing gas carbon dioxide will be close to, if not actually, zero.

      So why waste billions on cutting carbon dioxide emissions when action could be taken to reduce emission of soot particles and other carcinogenic or even, poisonous substances?

      When crop yields could be further boosted by letting nature take its course?

  • iantinkler

    • January 19th, 2015 22:46

    Gareth, The most recent reports (2013)state ,”there is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of solid cancers or leukaemia due to radiation in the exposed populations. There also is no convincing proof so far of increases in other non-malignant disorders that are related to ionizing radiation in the exposed populations.” That is a fairly clear statement, any comment of further casualties, made by myself, would purely be speculative, unscientific and unfounded. I am science trained an deal in facts, here they appear unambiguous. After 25 years, “There also is no convincing proof so far” would to any rational mind should indicate the risk from fallout was minimal outside the immediate reactor area, apart from isotopes of iodine. Fortunately tumors caused by that source of radiation are mostly curable ( very sadly nine deaths). WHO records no more at that date.(2013). Enough said perhaps.

    • Gareth Fair

      • January 20th, 2015 18:37


      The quote you use comes directly from the UNSCEAR website, article here;

      You will notice at the bottom of the article it states:

      The material on this page has been prepared by the UNSCEAR secretariat based on the published UNSCEAR reports, including the latest UNSCEAR document Health effects due to radiation from the Chernobyl accident( Annex D of 2008 UNSCEAR Report).
      The Annex D is the most recent part and contains a couple references dated 2009 and a few from 2005 to 2008 the majority are much older than this. These are published dates not the date of the data used. We can therefore say that this cannot use data newer than 2009. This is not based on 2013 data.
      That said the UNSCEAR report Annex D has the deaths from Thyroid cancers at 15.
      You are still projecting that forward 9 deaths with zero additional deaths for all cancers and all other radiation related effects upto 2015.

      There have been no further WHO studies which has fuelled the controversy over the current death toll.

      While I accept that it is impossible with absolute certainty to say how many people have died as a direct result of the Chernoby and it will likely remain so.

      However unless you have got anything else to contradict this my original assertion that you will not find anyone putting the death toll at 9 in 2015 still stands. Especially if the projections championed by the WHO / IAEA are credible.

      Please feel free to point me in the direction of the 2013 data, I have no problem admitting I am wrong if that is the case.
      I’ve spent some time looking for it and cannot find it.

  • John Tulloch

    • January 20th, 2015 19:07

    So how many are we talking about, Gareth, 9, 15, 100, tens of thousands?

    There were 75 people killed in an accident at Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro power station, also, in Russia, in 2009, so if we are to be swayed by the threat of nuclear radiation risk, the death toll from Chernobyl would need to be seen to be considerably higher, would it not?

    • Gareth Fair

      • January 21st, 2015 9:48

      That’s the point, nobody knows.
      I just think highlighting a figure of 9 is just as dangerous as the almost 985,000 eventual deaths Greenpeace claim.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree with almost everything you and Ian say.
      Even if you take the estimated projections of 25,000 potential excess cancers for Europe (Cardis et al. 2006) through 2065 that might be attributable to exposure to radiation from Chernobyl of which 16,000 cases could be fatal, it really isn’t significant in the overall scheme of things. It is possible it will be less.
      We need energy, there is no getting away from that, nobody wants the lights to go out tomorrow, all ways of producing it have their problems.
      We all need to make informed decisions about where we want this to go.
      Traditional coal and oil fired power stations create lots of pollution that isn’t good for us, windmills can fall on us, dams can burst, nuclear power stations can melt down, I’m sure tidal power and solar have drawbacks also.

      My point is that focusing on a figure of 9 deaths from Chernobyl is not helping people to make informed decisions.
      We know exposure ionising radiation are dangerous, we know why it is dangerous, we
      know the full scale of the disaster is yet to come and will probably never be fully known. This is what the science is telling us.
      Does that make nuclear power more dangerous overall than other energy generation, not necessarily.
      Indeed newer reactors are likely to be much safer, than old ones, are they 100% safe? The reasonable answer is no. It might be very safe but cannot be 100% safe.
      Given the very very low risk of accidents and the relatively few deaths it really isn’t as bad as many would have us believe, plus we have learned from Chernobyl and many of the thyroid cancers can now be easily avoided and treatments getting better all the time. It is certainly a significant point that, so far, the cancers cannot be demonstrated as might be expected, as are the findings that new thyroid cancers rates are not slowing down as might be expected.
      People need to weigh up the pros and cons and how much they are willing to pay.

      I think it is fair to say most people do not want any sort of power station on their doorstep, including windmills but they have to go some where so these are the decisions people have to make.
      If someone wanted to put a nuclear power station on Shetland would you honestly be happy about that? Personally I wouldn’t but I’m not mad keen on covering it with windmills either, or having a fossil fuel power station pumping out pollution.
      I do however want electricity so realistically something has to give.

      It’s a good thing having the debate about this, if the inter cable does go ahead, you never know, the government might decide putting a few nuclear power stations in Shetland is a good idea.

      • John Tulloch

        • January 21st, 2015 16:46

        Thanks, Gareth. My interest in this isn’t as an advocate of nuclear power, rather, that I’m intrigued by Ian’s argument that the risks associated with nuclear power have been grossly exaggerated.

        There are too many false “bogey men” for politicians of whatever colour to declare as “common enemies” for the “Great British public” rally – and vote – against.

        Modern nuclear power designs are indeed much safer. In particular, I understand thorium reactors are intrinsically safe and cannot melt down in the runaway fashion of conventional “old nuclear” reactors.

        Given the psychotic fear generated by nuclear meltdowns, “old nuclear” reactors, consequently, require elaborate designs and safety precautions and are thus hideously expensive.

        At present there is no incentive for utilities to install modern designs because governments are willing to have consumers pay them about twice the price of conventional fossil fuel electricity, so we’re having new “old nuclear” energy foisted upon us with the profits going straight to France and possibly, also, China.

        In this climate, development of new designs will be frustrated, developers will not invest in it.

        Of course, if it turned out that the dangers have been exaggerated, those “old nuclear” plants could be implemented much more cheaply, but then the utilities would get less money and the anti-nuclear “Greens” would be out of a job.

        So the “great game” continues.

        In addition to having intrinsically safe designs, modern reactors can be modular, shipped to and from the manufacturer in sealed units and are scalable, thus a small nuclear power station, perhaps, coupled with a CHP partner who could use the steam directly e.g. district heating, on land in Shetland, should be very safe and much less risky than nuclear powered – and armed – warships sailing up and down the busy Clyde estuary on, potentially, a daily basis.

  • ian tinkler

    • January 20th, 2015 20:35

    “Absolutely terrifying, total casualties from radiation fallout , nine (Chernobyl)”. My words Gareth, absolutely no one has proved them wrong at this time, certainly not you. Now I never said one way or the other whether that would be the final total, no one can know that, but the total will be very close, to that figure. Hardly the gibber you spouted! “60,000 deaths so far in Russia and an estimated 140,000 in Ukraine and Belarus.” Quad error demonstrandum . Now go scaremonger elsewhere, this is becoming very dull!.

  • David Spence

    • January 21st, 2015 15:20

    The death toll figures are related to Nuclear Reactors that were built some time ago.

    I would be more interested in casualties or deaths related to more modern Nuclear Reactors and this of the provision of energy through Nuclear Power Plants or the production of weapons grade Uranium or Plutonium used in WMD’s, and to get a more ‘ refined figure ‘ in proportion to the advancement of this technology compared to what was in the past.

    As mentioned, France produces 75% of its electricity via Nuclear Power, but what are the figures for people suffering or death from radiation (whether accident, poor safety procedures, human error etc etc) and related short and long term illness as a consequence of working within such, potentially, dangerous conditions?

  • iantinkler

    • January 22nd, 2015 7:25

    It is perhaps worth a mention that a large number of our Royal Naval sailors have spent their service careers working, sleeping eating and serving literally within a few feet of active nuclear reactors. Among these sailors, the number of premature deaths or illness due to radiation hazards? Nil. It is also perhaps worth a mention, that I doubt if a single man, woman or child on Shetland, does not have a family member, friend or colleague whom does not owe their life and health to nuclear medicine and radio-therapy. Odd how the Greenies, SNP and ignorant anti-nuclear people do not mention this when spouting their facile nonsense!


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