ANTI-NUCLEAR power campaigners in West Somerset have called scientific studies which suggest women living near Hinkley power station are twice as likely to develop breast cancer “very concerning”.

Three separate studies by a team of scientists examined the rates of various cancers in communities living close to nuclear power plants.

They found the number of women with breast cancer was higher than the national average at three separate sites.

The research suggested that in areas around Hinkley it was double the rate expected, and at one power station in north Wales it was five times higher.

The research, led by British scientist Dr Chris Busby, compared populations in areas close to power plants with those in nearby uncontaminated areas.

They concluded: “We have also studied breast cancer mortality in the wards near the Hinkley Point nuclear site in Somerset, using the same approach...... and have found the same result, a doubling of risk.”

Factors such as prevailing winds and the amount of radioactive material in sediment were highlighted as main concerns.

Allan Jeffrey, spokesman for the Stop Hinkley campaign described this latest research as “very concerning”.

“It is one of many studies over the years which shows in black and white the link between cancer and nuclear power plants.

“It has always been known that women and children are most at risk and here is yet more evidence. Critics will always dismiss evidence but Dr Busby is a respected scientist.

“Unfortunately the nuclear industry and politicians will try to wash away any research they disagree with.”

A Magnox spokesman said: “Comment on the details of the study is a matter for experts in public health.

“However the radiation exposures of our workforce, and that of the general public, from authorised discharges from the nuclear industry are well below the maximum levels authorised by independent regulatory bodies.

‘The limits are set to ensure members of the public are properly protected.”

Dr Jill Meara, director of Public Health England’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards (CRCE), added: “Identification of disease clusters are matters for local public health teams.

“If those teams needs specialist support, such as in radiation epidemiology, they can talk to CRCE for assistance.”