Tell me where the girls are

Recently, I stumbled upon an article from the 2/12 issue of a German magazine called “zeo2”. Actually, I was googling for something completely different when the online version of that article popped up in the search results and attracted my attention. It was (well, still is) titled “Sag, wo die Mädchen sind” (“Tell [me] where the girls are”) and reveals a number of worrysome new findings regarding irregularities in the birth statistics around Gorleben which have recently be found by a group of scientists.

What makes these findings delicate is the fact that Gorleben (a tiny community in the German federal state of Lower Saxony) is the location of a so-called “intermediate storage site” for nuclear waste, and obviously the statistical abnormalities can unambiguously be linked to the increased background levels of nuclear radiation which originates from the storage site.

The original article (in German) can be read online on website of “taz.die tageszeitung” (a relatively small daily newspaper – about 58,000 prints per day, according to Wikipedia – which targets readers with a “non-mainstream” attitude), which also holds the copyright for the publication:!130519/

That being said, I suggest you have a look at the English translation of that article which I’m offering below; please note that it is a rough translation done by myself and in no way officially approved by the original publisher.

Birth statistics around Gorleben


In the surroundings of the Gorleben intermediate storage site, boys are born at strikingly high numbers.

Germany, zeo2 | Friedrich-Wilhelm Schröder, mayor of Gartow near Gorleben, has a clear standpoint. This whole story is “highly played up” and “totally far-fetched”. There have always been anomalies in birth statistics. There are times when people are doing well, and times when people are doing not-so-well. Maybe harmful substances from the Elbe river had a calamitous influence. He is not alarmed at all.

Nonetheless he won’t fight against an expert hearing in case it will be held – as the community council has already demanded twice. In opposition to the mayor, many people in the region are put on alert by “this story”. They are sorrowed by a surprising irregularity in the birth statistics tagged as “gender gap”: in the surroundings of Gorleben, an “insufficient” number of girls is born.

The gender ratio has shifted towards of boys in a highly significant way. And Gorleben is not the only place. It lines up with similar findings in the surroundings of nuclear sites and of regions that had been affected by the Chernobyl fall-out. Too few girls everywhere.

There is a group of people around the bio-mathematician Hagen Scherb dealing with the problem at Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich. Their results are so explicit that Scherb says “it’s a staircase wit in scientific history” how the easy-to-interpret figures – the ratio of new-born boys and girls – are ignored with respect to radiation effects.


Since the fifties, only few publications have analyzed these numbers in a serious way. The results of the Scherb group are dramatic and produce impressing charts. Coincidence is considered to be ruled out from a statistical point of view.

Their latest, especially impressive data analysis prompted the health agency of Lower Saxony to commission a counter-study in the fall of 2011. But instead of a strong dementi, the irregularities were confirmed officially. The figures were calculated correctly, and indeed they were not just coincidental.

According to the birth statistics, so finds the authority, the ratio of boys and girls has significantly shifted in a 40 kilometer radius around the intermediate storage site since 1995 – thus exactly since the time when the first hot transports rolled to Gorleben and when the storage of the nuclear waste started.

From 1981 to 1995, 6,939 boys and 6,922 girls were born, the gender ratio was at 1.0025. For the period of time between 1996 and 2010, it jumped to 1.0865: in opposition to the 12,047 boys, there are only 11,088 girls, mising the naturla number by almost 1,000. Even varying computation methods several times and using modified radiuses cannot change that: the result is definite.

Yet experts are convinced that the effect can impossibly be explained by the Castor storage. They list numerous conditions that can lead to “lost girls” as well: from the mother’s body weight, over “chemicals”, to “gravitational forces”. In the end, every effort of explanation remains “purely speculative” and the phenomenon stays mysterious.

In contrast to the arguments of the authority, it appears absolutely plausible to suspect a link to the radioactivity. Even more so if you know that after the nuclear weapons tests of the atomic powers and after the Chernobly catastrophe girls were “missing” in the fall-out regions. There are similar findings in the surroundings of the Asse nuclear waste storage site in the Wolfenbüttel county and other European nuclear sites.

Bio-mathematician Scherb first stumbled upon the phenomenon in 1997 when he examined the increased number of stillborn children and “an assistant discovered that there was a signifiantly higher number of boys”. What happened to the girls ?

Scherb found the same effect after Chernobyl – an unnatural gender ratio. 2007, ten years later, his first scientific publication followed; the bio-mathematician never disengaged the topic ever since. As their most recent action, the group has analyzed the 32 European locations of nuclear sites.


Four locations show significant results; at others, the situation is less clear due to low number of cases. But the sum for all 32 locations is significantly lacking girls as well. The most prominent numbers come just from Gorleben. Inevitable conclusion: unnatural radioactivity – even if it is below permitted limits – can alter the birth statistic.

As it seems, there is an increased number of failed pregnacies, because ferzilized egg cells die, probably at very early stages. This remains unnoticed, even to the mothers, so the loss is not captured statisticaly anywhere. Yet the effect can be proven statistically, because boys die less often than girls, resulting in a reduced birth rate for girls.

Fro the radiation-bilological point of view, the phenomenon of the “lost girls” can be explained well: human beings in their early development state have a much higher sensitivity. It is estimated to be at least 20 to 40 times higher than for cells of adults, and it seems plausible to estimate it even higher during the first days of life – some say up to a factor of 1,000.

Noone denies that female organisms react more sensitive to ionizing radiation than male ones. This higher sensititivy even exists for adult women, it is estimated to be 1.5 or 2 times higher. The phenomenon is therefore mainly inexplicable in the heads of a community of experts, the majority of whom is fixated to the limits declared by the International Commission for Radiation Protection (ICRP).

But radioactivity neither knows thresholds nor limits. Since 1950, the ICRP replies to the question of genetic risks of radioactivity the Radio Eriwan style: “Yes, as a matter of principle, additional radiation increases the number of mutations even at lowest doses – but, no, as long as the doses are small enough, the increase stays immeasurably low.”

For practice, the radioation protectors had derived a “doubling dose” from their data gained in animal experiments and from Hiroshima: a radiation value for which the number of mutations would presumably double, compared to the “normal” frequency. From that value, they concluded a “safe limit” which is less than a thousandth part of the “doubling dose”.

Ever sincy, they stay confessed in their belief: as long as the radiation stress from artificial sources stays below that level, damages to the human genome occur so infrequently that they are statistically unverifiable. The lost girls contradict that theory. Apart from that, the ICRP had to revise and lower several recommendations regarding limits for nuclear workers and general public over and over again.

They form the base for practically all lawful regulations worldwide. At first it seemed they fulfill their purpose, and with few exceptions, there was no statistical proof for genetic damage as long as the limits were not exceeded.


Then Chernobyl came along, and suddenly increased mutations and malformations occured in the fall-out regions in northern and western Europe, mostly Down syndrome and lip-jaws palatine clefts [unsure about the correct translation], but also more stillbirths and heart failures. Even in weakly contaminated regions, more or less girls were missing during the following years.

In addition, compared to the birth rates before the catastrophe, about one million children less than projected were born between 1986 and 2010, no matter what gender. Following valid models and limits, such effects may not be traceable. And the gender ratio should be unconspicious in the surroundings of nuclear sites.

The amount of radioactivity that is measured using today’s methods is very small compared to the “natural background radiation” which reaches all men in the same manner and that fluctuates significantly depending on the residence. It should not be traceable by theory. This means, on the other hand: the methods used up to now to monitor “natural” and “artificial” radioactivity and to compute a biologically effective dose from the measurements, are obviously fundamentally wrong.

It is yet unclear where the error is, but you can assume that neutrons from space or neutrons from a Castor hitting the human body do not have the same effects, even if they are similar in a physical sense. Maybe it just matters big time if radioactivity reaches the body as natural Potassium or Radon or in form of artificial elements.

Besides, chances are that the measurements of radiation, may they be physically correct, do not track all biologically effective components. Radiation physics had been surprised by new findings too often before. The reports of the Scherb group line up with an unstoppable development in modern radiation biology.

25 years after Chernobyl, the formerly closed front of IRCP lies in debris. There are just too many examples of unexpected effects of radiation that were discovered in recent years: for instance the chronic diseases that are documented in contaminated areas after the maximum credible acident, but also the secured fact of increased frequency of children’s leukemia in the surroundings of nuclear power plants.

All these noticeable problems make researchers ponder. Some want to correct the existing computation models by a factor of 1,000 to 10,000. The lost girls offer enough material for discussion. The chancelor’s word is valid for them as well: “We have a new situation, and it has to be analyzed unconditionally and without reserve.”

Christoph Zink, the article has been published in the zeo2 2/12 issue.

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