– The real reason the NRC cancelled its health study: nuclear power kills

Global Research, September 22, 2015
The Ecologist 19 September 2015

The US’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission just cancelled its study into cancer near nuclear plants citing the ‘excessive cost’ of $8 million, writes Chris Busby. Of course that’s rubbish – similar studies in the UK have been carried out for as little as £600 per site, and in any case $8 million is small change for the NRC. The real reason is to suppress the unavoidable conclusion: nuclear power kills.

Despite the truly enormous amount of information that has emerged about the adverse health effects of releases of radioactivity since 1990, no official investigation will be carried out. The nuclear industry is now in a corner.

After spending some $1.5 million and more than five years on developing strategies to answer the question of increases of cancer near nuclear facilities, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) last week reported that they would not continue with the process. They would knock it on the head [1].

This poisoned chalice has been passed between the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the NRC since 2009 when public and political pressure was brought to bear on the USNRC to update a 1990 study of the issue, a study which was widely seen by the public to be a whitewash.

The NCR quickly passed the unwelcome task up to the NAS. It requested that the NAS provide an assessment of cancer risks in populations living ‘near’ the NRC-licenced nuclear facilities that utilize and process Uranium. This included 104 operating nuclear reactors in 31 States and 13 fuel cycle facilities in operation in 10 States.

The NRC request was to be carried out by NAS in two phases. Phase 1 was a scoping study to inform design of the study to be begun in Phase 2 and to recommend the best organisation to carry out the work.

The Phase 1 report was finished in May 2012. The best ‘state of the art’ methods were listed and the job of carrying out the actual study, a pilot study, was sent to: Guess who? The NRC. The poisoned chalice was back home. The NRC was now in a corner: what could they do?

If you don’t like the truth … suppress it

The committee sat for three years thinking about this during which time more and more evidence emerged that if it actually carried out the pilot study, it would find something bad. It had to escape. It did. It cancelled it. The reason given was that it would cost $8 million just to do the pilot study of cancer near the seven sites NAS had selected in its 600 page Phase 1 report. [2]

So despite the truly enormous amount of information that has emerged about the adverse health effects of releases of radioactivity since 1990, no official investigation will be carried out. The nuclear industry is now in a corner.

Its only way forward is to continue with what is now clearly definable as a psychosis: a failure to compare belief with reality. It has to stick its fingers in its ears put on the blindfold and soldier on.

But this recent move of the NRC was unexpected. The closure of the study is hard for it to explain to Congress, the Senate and the public. Because even if it does cost $8 million, what is that compared with saving the lives of the thousands – or millions, if we take the whole radiation risk model?

On the European Child Health Committee PINCHE [3] there was a French statistician who told me that the sum they put on a single child leukemia was $1.7M. I bet you didn’t know they have costed it. NRCs best option (and I suspect their original plan) would have been to carry out some more dodgy epidemiology, like the 1990 study.

There are many ways to lose your statistical significance

It is not difficult to carry out an epidemiological study of cancer near any point source of radioactive contamination. But it is fairly easy to design the study in such a way that you find no effect.

They could have asked the UK’s COMARE [4] and their friends the leukemia cluster busters SAHSU [5] at Imperial College London, or better the Wales Cancer Intelligence Unit [6] in Cardiff.

When the NAS began their Phase 1 discussion on best methodology, what they called ‘State of the Art’, we followed developments with some interest. Indeed, in a bogus request for inputs NAS invited comments and suggestions. This is the modern democratic fig-leaf for all these decision-making processes where the outcome has already been decided.

We sent in our suggestions (which have been published recently [7]) and others did also, for example Ernest Sternglass’s outfit, the Radiation and Public Health Project RPH in New York, which had published several studies of cancer near US nuclear sites [8] and a book by Dr Jay Gould, The Enemy Within. None of the suggestions were acknowledged by the NAS or incorporated in any way.

What you need is the sex and age breakdown of the populations living close to the site (less than 10km) or near where the releases from the site end up (e.g. downwinders as in Trawsfynydd, or those near contaminated coasts as in Hinkley Point and Bradwell).

What NAS proposed you needed (like COMARE) was population data of those living inside 50 km from the nuclear source. 50 kilometres? How much radioactivity is going to travel 50 kilometres? The German KiKK study of child leukemia [9] found the effects inside 5km (about 3 miles). We found our breast cancer effects within 5 miles of the contamination. A 50km study would dilute any effect out of existence.

Of course also it is good to have some data about where the contamination goes. So you would look at downwind populations or those near where the liquid releases end up. But ‘State of the Art’ for the NAS was the usual absurdity of drawing circles around the point source.

This also dilutes any contaminated sector with those unexposed living in the (larger) uncontaminated sector. What NAS majored on was the need to quantify releases and calculate the doses from that data. The reason was obvious. They wanted to say that the doses were so small (below background) that they would not find anything.

All proceeding to plan, but then a nasty snag

Indeed, in the final 2012 Phase 1 report, the NAS committee stated exactly that. One of their main findings was low expected statistical power:

Doses resulting from monitored and reported radioactive effluent releases from nuclear facilities are expected to be low. As a consequence, epidemiologic studies of cancer risk in populations near nuclear facilities may not have adequate statistical power to detect the presumed small increases in cancer risks arising from these monitored and reported releases.

That is: we won’t be able to find anything because we already know that we can’t find anything. They include their expected result in the initial protocols.

And just to underline this, they present the first of their three preferred study designs. Risk-projection models, they write,

estimate cancer risks by combining population radiation dose and/or dose surrogate (e.g., distance and direction from a nuclear facility) estimates with risk coefficients derived from epidemiologic studies of other exposed populations, for example, Japanese atomic bombing survivors. Risk-projection models can be used to estimate population-based cancer risks for any facility type, population size, and time period.

But since the doses from the Japanese study necessary to give a 50% increase in cancer risk are more than 1000mSv, and the doses calculated by the current risk model for releases from nuclear sites are less than 0.1mSv, the increase in cancer expected from the Japanese based ICRP model would not be measurable.

The NAS could not reasonably exclude the one epidemiological method which would have turned up a result. Thus ecologic studies

estimate cancer risks by comparing observed cancer incidence and/or mortality rates in populations, considered as a group rather than as individuals, as a function of average radiation doses and/or dose surrogates for those populations.

That is the obvious one, the one we use. It is to choose a group close to the plant and see if the cancer rates are high. Rather than predicting that they cannot be detected. And this is the reason they could not continue: because they would have found significant effect.

How much should it cost?

The NRC state it will cost $8 million to study the seven NAS proposed pilot sites. These are the six nuclear power stations at Dresden, Millstone, Oyster Creek, Haddam Neck, Big Rock Point, San Onofre and the nuclear fuel site at Erwin Tennessee.

This is a pilot study: that means it is looking to see if there is a problem, if there is a high rate of cancer near the plants, and that reliance upon the Japanese A-Bomb comparison is unsafe.

So all they really need is the predicted or measured places where the accumulated radioactive contamination has ended up (e.g. downwind and close to the site or the local coast) and cancer and demographic data for the people who live there; then either a nearby control group or a State average rate for comparison, perhaps both.

We carried out the Bradwell study for £600 [10]. Essex Health authority commissioned the Small Area Health Statistics Unit SAHSU (the government’s leukemia cluster busters) and paid for £35,000 to check our results. Take the Millstone site in Connecticut, a power station I am familiar with and have visited in connection with a court case [11].

Millstone is a dirty power station: its radioactive discharges end up in tidal Long Island Sound and the estuary of the Thames River. The tidal range in this area is 1.5m so there is plenty of mud uncovered at low water, like Bradwell and Hinkley Point.

I looked at breast cancer in Connecticut. Guess what? The coastal Long Island Sound Counties have the high rates of breast cancer [12]. This is at county level its true but it is a pointer to what they would find. And probably they have already checked this out. They know what they will find.

But who are these people? The usual suspects

When the NRC were selecting the committees, I suggested myself. I had a track record of examining cancer rates near nuclear sites in the UK (I wrote).

Surprisingly, they didn’t take up my offer, but peopled the committee with mathematical physicists and individuals with no knowledge of epidemiology and no history of studying those exposed to radioactive contamination.

Many of the people on the committee were connected with the nuclear industry, or depended on the nuclear industry for their funding. Of course, 90% of the funding of the NRC itself is from the nuclear industry and its allies but surely we expect better from the National Academy?

On the NAS website the members of the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board NRSB are listed. Normally there is linked a biography page. When you look for the NRSB biography page you get Missing Content: bios page is not available for board: nrsb [13]

Here is why. There is one epidemiologist Martha Linet, but she is a member of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) Epidemiology committee and also the NCRP full committee. Seven board members are mathematical statisticians and physicists, two are waste management engineers, there is a woman professor of cancer care, and two mineralogists.

Four work directly for the nuclear industry. One of the mathematical physicists is Fred Mettler Jr, also on the ICRP and the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA. He also makes a living as an expert witness in radiation cases as I know having been up against him in New Orleans. No conflict of interest there then.

The only good guy on this committee is David Brenner of Columbia, an Englishman from Liverpool, but again a physicist and radiobiologist.

The plain fact is that this is an issue in epidemiology. The committee should have comprised medical and environmental epidemiologists. What possible need is there for mathematical physicists and engineers?

The UK’s Hinkley Point nuclear complex kills babies

Let’s bring this back home to get some perspective. Let’s be clear about what is going on.

This NRC decision is a continuation of the cover up of the effects of low dose internal radiation exposure, the biggest public health scandal in human history where millions have been sacrificed on the altar of the Uranium economy and nuclear weapons.

In the last few months I have started to put all my 20 years of research into the peer-review literature. I have reported the increased levels of breast cancer deaths near Bradwell and Trawsfynydd.

Last week we published the Hinkley Point study [14] where we shifted our focus from cancer to infant deaths and stillbirths, also indicators of genetic damage, and showed that the nuclear plant releases kill children as well as adults. Naturally we also found excess adult cancer there, and Bowie and Ewings previously (1988) reported the usual local excess childhood leukemia.

Our Hinkley Point study was a forensic investigation of causation. We began by looking at a large area of Somerset, some 115 wards between 1993 and 2005 and compared those near the sea or the muddy estuary of the tidal River Parratt (cf. Bradwell) with inland wards.

We carried out some fancy statistical regressions of distance from the contaminated Steart Flats (the historic repository of the releases from Hinkley Point) and infant and perinatal mortality over the period. It is well accepted that infant mortality is caused by deprivation so we included the ward index of deprivation in the regression.

Astonishingly the results showed that it was not deprivation that killed infants in Somerset. It was Hinkley Point. Deprivation was not statistically significant, not in Somerset. When we slowly statistically crept up on the cause of the infant deaths it turned out to partly relate to an accidental release of radioactivity in 1996 for which the plant was fined £20,000 by the regulators.

The downwind town of Burnham-on-Sea, located adjacent to the contaminated mud flats, and which had the breast cancer cluster also naturally had the highest levels of infant mortality.

In Burnham North there was a significant 70% excess mortality risk for breast cancer between 1997-2005 RR = 1.7 p = 0.001 (41 deaths observed and 24 expected). Between 1993 and 1998 excess risk for infant mortality in the town was 330% (RR = 4.3; p = 0.01) and for neonatal mortality RR = 6.7; p = 0.003 based on 4 deaths.

Sex-ratio at birth (an indicator of genetic damage) was anomalous in Burnham-on-Sea over the whole study period with 1175 (boys to 1000 girls) expected rate 1055.

The same cover up in the UK

I like to think that I had something to do with the NRC cancellation, which has come just after this, our third nuclear site cancer paper, hit the streets. The NRC and the NAS have their equivalent cover-up artists in the UK.

The Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters COMARE, the National Radiological Protection Board NRPB, SAHSU, the Royal Society. Much the same thing happened to the original version of the Bradwell breast cancer study, part of the Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters CERRIE in 2001-2004.

There was a joint epidemiological study. Three groups looked at the wards near Bradwell to see who was correct about the breast cancers. Busby, Wakeford (for the nuclear industry) and Muirhead of NRPB (also for the nuclear industry). But in the several meetings of the ‘CERRIE Epidemiological Sub Committee’ it emerged that there was indeed a statistically significant effect.

At this point the Minister Michael Meacher was sacked and replaced by Tony Blair (war criminal) [15] with Elliot Morley MP (later an actual jailed criminal [16] and like the NRC/ NAS circus, the Bradwell / CERRIE study was shut down.

For me, dishonest scientists in this area, responsible for supporting an industry which they know is killing people – like some of those on the NAS and NRC boards – should also be prosecuted in a court of scientific fraud [17].

I have a little list.

Chris Busby is an expert on the health effects of ionizing radiation. He qualified in Chemical Physics at the Universities of London and Kent, and worked on the molecular physical chemistry of living cells for the Wellcome Foundation. Professor Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk based in Brussels and has edited many of its publications since its founding in 1998. He has held a number of honorary University positions, including Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Health of the University of Ulster. Busby currently lives in Riga, Latvia. See also:chrisbusbyexposed.orggreenaudit.org and llrc.org.

References

1. http://safeenergy.org/2015/09/14/nrc-drops-cancer-study/

2. http://dels.nas.edu/global/nrsb/CancerRisk

3. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1080/08035320600886653/abstract

4. https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/committee-on-medical-aspects-of-radiation-in-the-environment-comare

5. http://www.sahsu.org/

6. http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk/home

7. http://jacobspublishers.com/index.php/journal-of-epidemiology-current-edition

8. http://radiation.org/about/index.html

9.http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2525488/nuclear_power_stations_cause_childhood_leukemia_and_heres_the_proof.html

10. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3116620/Nuclear-power-station-cancer-warning-Breast-cancer-rates-FIVE-TIMES-higher-Welsh-plant-twice-high-Essex-Somerset-sites-experts-reveal.html

11. http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/routinereleases/busbyonmillstone32001.htm

12. http://www.cancer-rates.info/ct/index.php

13. http://dels.nas.edu/global/nrsb/BoardBios

14. http://epidemiology.jacobspublishers.com/index.php/articles-epidemology/article-in-press-epidemology

15. http://www.brusselstribunal.org/KLWarCrimes2011.htm

16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliot_Morley

17. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOI-wpMlq28

18. http://dels.nas.edu/global/nrsb/CancerRisk

Advertisements

– Feds cancel nuclear health study, leaving questions for Tennessee plant’s ailing neighbors

Institute for Southern Studies


September 9, 2015

<p class=
The NRC answers questions from the public at a 2009 meeting in Erwin, Tennessee about the Nuclear Fuel Services facility. (NRC photo via Flickr.)

This week the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced it was canceling a National Academy of Sciences pilot study of cancer risks near U.S. nuclear facilities, citing budget pressures.

The NRC said that “continuing the work was impractical, given the significant amount of time and resources needed and the agency’s current budget constraints.” The NAS estimated that the study would take 39 months and cost $8 million.

Nuclear watchdogs blasted the NRC’s decision, with Maryland-based Beyond Nuclear calling it “outrageous.”

“Study after study in Europe has shown a clear rise in childhood leukemia around operating nuclear power facilities, yet the NRC has decided to hide this vital information from the American public,” said Cindy Folkers, a radiation and health specialist with the group. “An $8 million price tag for the next phase of this study is a drop in the bucket for an agency with a $1 billion annual operating budget.”

Beyond Nuclear raised concerns about industry manipulation, noting that it had obtained documents showing NRC staff had been approached by the president of the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements offering a cheaper, faster and less sensitive study design, which the NRC has not yet agreed to accept. The Council is funded in part by the nuclear industry and has pro-nuclear ties.

The NAS study was to focus on seven facilities, six of them nuclear power plants: San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in California, Millstone Power Station and Haddam Neck Plant in Connecticut, Dresden Nuclear Power Station in Illinois, Big Rock Point Nuclear Plant in Michigan, and Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey.

The other facility that was to be part of the study is Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin, Tennessee, which produces nuclear fuel for the U.S. Navy and processes weapons-grade uranium into fuel for nuclear power plants. Originally built in the 1950s by the W.R. Grace chemical conglomerate and now owned by Virginia-based BWX Technologies, the NFS plant in northeast Tennessee’s Unicoi County has a long history of safety problems. They include a 2006 leak of highly enriched uranium, details of which were withheld from the public.

A 2010 report by a university scientist documented uranium contamination downstream from the plant in the Nolichucky River, which provides drinking water for Tennessee communities including Greeneville, and in Davy Crockett Lake, a recreation site maintained by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Besides being radioactive, uranium is a toxic metal that can impair normal functioning of the kidneys, liver, heart, brain and reproductive system. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, long-term chronic intakes of uranium isotopes in food, water, or air can lead to internal irradiation and/or chemical toxicity.

Barbara O’Neal of the Erwin Citizens Awareness Network, a group that’s been critical of NFS, told the Greeneville Sun she suspects the NRC may have pulled the plug on the cancer risk study because the agency didn’t want information it found to be released to the public.

People living near NFS have long raised concerns about cancers and other health problems in their communities. In response, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry conducted a public health assessment in 2007. However, it focused only on volatile organic compound pollution from the facility and not radiation, since the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act that gives ATSDR its authority excludes releases of the kinds of radioactive materials NFS handles.

While preparing its report, ATSDR received comments from concerned plant neighbors (commenters’ names are not included in the report):

I grew up in the big green two-story house which I think is now owned by NFS. When W.R. Grace built “the plant” down where Mrs. Home’s frog pond used to be, we had no idea what was in store. The security and regulations then were few and far between. As kids, we would still go down there and walk around the fence to see the stuff that leaked out of the big tanks. The ground was always wet. When we heard the alarm go off, we ran to the upstairs bedroom to watch the men in white suits run up the hill. Orange smoke came out of the smokestacks. My aunt was a secretary there and one night came and took us away from our house because “something” was about to happen “down at the plant”. Never knew what. I know we ate radiation straight from Mama’s garden. Our beloved little dog died of cancer. My dad died at 56 with colon cancer. Our next door neighbor died of colon cancer; I doubt she was 60. A friend and close neighbor had extensive colon cancer in his early 30’s. I had a huge lymphoma removed from my heart at the age of 30. My brother had kidney failure in his early 30’s. My sister and I both have thyroid nodules and weird protein levels in our blood that can lead to multiple myelosis. These all have to be watched closely. At the age of only 64, I also have an autoimmune disease that makes life difficult. People in Erwin are still brainwashed about NFS. Those that know the truth have died or moved away. My mother died of heart failure at 65. I believe her heart was broken.

Another commenter, a resident of Erwin, offered this account of health woes:

I live on Washington Street and I have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I have had several lymph nodes removed due to unexplained fevers, weight loss, lymphadenopathy, etc. My illness developed when I moved to Washington Street. … I worked inside this home doing medical transcription spending all my time there from the time we moved in until approximately a year ago. My health continued to deteriorate during this period of time. I began working outside my home a year ago and I have improved considerably since then. I have been told by many well-educated individuals that there may be something in my home environment that caused by illness. With the continued improvement in my health after getting away from the house during the day … I believe there may be something to this assumption.

And yet another comment from a resident in nearby in North Carolina:

I live in the NC county (Yancey) adjacent to and downwind from Erwin TN. As a (now retired) health care professional, I have observed over many years what appears to be higher than average occurrences per capita of several debilitating diseases here. Multiple sclerosis, various unusual types of cancer, spina bifida, clefting/midline developmental disabilities among others are more prevalent in the local population than would be expected. While nobody is yet able, or willing to point the finger toward the Erwin plant … there is suspicion that airborne products from this facility passing through this area in highest concentration could be a factor in these statistics. Certainly further study is warranted.

In the end, the plant’s neighbors got few answers to questions about their health from ATSDR. It now looks like they won’t be getting answers from the NRC any time soon.

• NRC pulls plug on health study around nuclear power plants

The NRC states that one 25-year old “deeply flawed” study that supports nuclear energy “answers the question well enough.”

“We have no data to support…” says the government on many issues. There is no data when there are no studies or it comes from a flawed, politically-driven government study.

From the Orange County Register
September 13, 2015
By Teri Sforza

After spending five years and $1.5 million planning a nationwide probe into whether living near a nuclear power plant such as San Onofre is truly hazardous to your health, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission pulled the plug this week, saying the study would take too long and would be too expensive.

An American study from 1990 – derided by critics as the “don’t worry, be happy” report – concluded that there is no health risk associated with living near a nuclear plant, and answers the question well enough, the NRC said.

More recent studies in Europe, using far more sophisticated techniques, have found that kids living within 3 miles of nuclear power plants had twice the risk of developing acute leukemia as those living farther away. The NRC-ordered study was to probe similar data here, and the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was to be one of the initial areas examined.

“I’m disappointed and disbelieving,” San Clemente Councilwoman Lori Donchak said. “Our people within a 30-mile radius of (San Onofre) would’ve benefited directly from learnings about any cancer risks – for ourselves and our kids.”

There are 4,200 children under 5 living in San Clemente, whose southern border is about 3.5 miles from San Onofre. The study was to help determine if children like them are more vulnerable to leukemia than children in, say, Irvine.

French and German probes from 2008 and 2012 found that children living very close to nuclear plants were indeed twice as vulnerable, with the peak impact on kids aged 2 to 4.

Is the 25-year-old U.S. study, using broad data from the 1980s, the best American science can do?

“No, it’s not,” said Ourania Kosti, senior program officer with the National Academies’ Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, and erstwhile director of the NRC-ordered probe. “We could do better today.”

BLUNT SCIENCE

There was rejoicing among scientists and nuclear critics alike in 2010, when the NRC asked the National Academy of Science to do a “state-of-the-art study” on cancer risk for populations surrounding nuclear power facilities.

This probe was to remedy deep flaws in the 1990 study by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, which examined more than 900,000 cancer deaths between 1950 and 1984. Using mortality records from counties with nuclear facilities within their borders, it looked at changes in mortality rates for 16 types of cancer, and found no increased risk of death.

Among the study’s many problems, according to scientists who were designing the new probe:

• It tracked mortality rates based on where people died, rather than where they lived before getting cancer. That makes it hard to determine true lifetime exposure.

• It tracked deaths, rather than total cancer cases. That may downplay the full health impact of living near a reactor, since many cancer patients survive.

• It used countywide data to reach conclusions – a blunt instrument that may again downplay the impact on those living closest to a reactor. Residents in La Habra and San Clemente live in the same county – but few would argue that they had the same exposure to San Onofre.

To remedy all that, the NRC asked the NAS to evaluate cancer diagnosis rates, not just cancer deaths; and to explore how to divide the areas around nuclear facilities into geographical units smaller than counties. The NAS made no bones about the effort being difficult and time-consuming, but said it could be done.

21st CENTURY

San Onofre was one of the seven areas with nuclear facilities that scientists picked to focus on first. [The locations chosen were 6 nuclear power plants — San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (California), Millstone Power Station and Haddam Neck Plant (Connecticut), Dresden Nuclear Power Station (Illinois), Big Rock Point Nuclear Plant (Michigan), and Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station (New Jersey) — plus Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin, Tennessee, which produces nuclear fuel for the U.S. Navy and processes weapons-grade uranium into fuel for nuclear power plants.] They would proceed on two fronts, study director Kosti said:

One would examine multiple types of cancer in people of all ages living within 31miles of seven nuclear sites.

The other would examine cancers in children born within that radius, since children are especially vulnerable to the effects of radiation.

In practical terms, that meant gathering decades’ worth of data about births, cancer diagnoses and cancer deaths from six states, and plotting them on maps surrounding the seven nuclear sites.

It also meant gathering decades’ worth of data about the release of radioactive gases and liquids – accidental or otherwise – at all seven sites, and plotting those on the maps as well.

In January, the NAS forwarded its proposal for the pilot study to the NRC.

It would take 39 months and cost $8 million to examine those seven sites. After that was done, the NAS would turn its attention to the other 50-or-so nuclear facilities throughout America.

NEVER MIND

On Tuesday, the NRC said that continuing work on the NAS study was “impractical, given the significant amount of time and resources needed and the agency’s current budget constraints.”

NRC staffers estimated that it could take NAS eight to 10 years to complete the pilot and the subsequent nationwide studies before NRC has final cancer risk results to share with the public, which was the original intent of the project, said a staff policy paper to NRC commissioners last month.

That would possibly take until 2025, 15 years after the start of the project, the NRC paper noted.

If it cost $8 million to examine seven sites, it could cost $60 million or so to examine the remaining 50. The NRC’s annual budget is about $1 billion.

A simple update of the 1990 study could be done much more quickly and much more cheaply – but it would have the same problems as the original, the NRC noted.

“The NRC continues to find U.S. nuclear power plants comply with strict requirements that limit radiation releases from routine operations,” the agency said in a statement. “The NRC and state agencies regularly analyze environmental samples from near the plants. These analyses show the releases, when they occur, are too small to cause observable increases in cancer risk near the facilities.”

The agency is balancing the desire to provide updated answers on cancer risk with its responsibility to use taxpayer funds as wisely as possible, Brian Sheron, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, said in a statement.

It might be worth noting that the NRC asked the NAS to do the study in 2010, when Gregory Jaczko was still NRC chairman. Jaczko was a frequent critic of the nuclear industry, who pushed for swifter action in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. He resigned in a hailstorm of controversy in 2012.

REACTION

“The nuclear energy industry sees the NRC’s decision as a sensible one rooted in the NRC’s judgment about the safe operations of our facilities,” said John Keeley, spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade group.

“The nuclear industry has been so successful in keeping radiation in effluents at such a low level that the general scientific community has concluded that this kind of study is scientifically challenged in trying to prove or disprove any cancer risk,” he said. “There are simply too many variables that could influence cancer rates other than very small releases from commercial reactors.”

Ted Quinn, a member of the volunteer panel overseeing the decommissioning of San Onofre and past president of the American Nuclear Society, was a bit surprised by the decision to abandon the effort.

“I think their decision is based on a combination of poor funding availability, recognition that the sample sizes are too small to reveal any justification for changing … and belief that there really is no technical basis for challenging the analysis from the earlier scientific studies,” Quinn said in an email.

Donchak, the San Clemente councilwoman, didn’t find much comfort there. “I’m still frustrated about the recent announcement that San Clemente hospital has been taken out of the new (San Onofre) emergency plan. To have yet another safety aspect removed is unacceptable. This kind of incrementality – gradually removing safety aspects – isn’t good.”

Kosti, the NAS study director, pointed out that the NRC requested a scientifically-sound, epidemiological study, and that those things take time.

The French and German studies did not prove causality between the plants and the childhood leukemias, but they raised many questions, she said.

“Right now we cannot explain the twofold increase,” she said. “These other countries are continuing to probe, trying to understand what is happening.”

Contact the writer: tsforza@ocregister.com

Posted under Fair Use Rules

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/nuclear-682289-nrc-cancer.html

Comments:

“The NRC continues to find U.S. nuclear power plants comply with strict requirements that limit radiation releases from routine operations,” the agency said in a statement.

We know that isn’t true, including from the data from Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

“The NRC and state agencies regularly analyze environmental samples from near the plants. These analyses show the releases, when they occur, are too small to cause observable increases in cancer risk near the facilities.”

Nuclear power plants routinely emit radionuclides into the air and water, especially during refueling. These radionuclides can be inhaled and ingested. Nuclear experts repeatedly say there is no safe dose of radiation. Internal exposure, through inhalation and ingestion, causes cancer.

The agency is balancing the desire to provide updated answers on cancer risk with its responsibility to use taxpayer funds as wisely as possible, Brian Sheron, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, said in a statement.

The public isn’t worth $8 million to the NRC. That isn’t a wise expenditure for the NRC when the study’s findings would most assuredly interfere with the NRC and the nuclear industry’s first priority — promoting nuclear energy. Our health and environmental safety are last in their priorities.

If you are outraged by this decision, write your elected officials and tell your community.

More information:

Beyond Nuclear’s press release:
http://www.beyondnuclear.org/storage/nas-cancer-study/NAS%20cancer%20study%20canceled.pdf

Feds cancel nuclear health study, leaving questions for Tennessee plant’s ailing neighbors, Institute for Southern Studies, 9-9-15
http://www.southernstudies.org/2015/09/feds-cancel-nuclear-health-study-leaving-questions.html

On life near two nuclear power plants in Illinois: an interview with Cindy and Joe Sauer, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
http://ieer.org/resource/commentary/on-life-near-two-nuclear-power-plants-in-Illinois/

Health Concerns and Data Around the Illinois Nuclear Power Plants
http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/nrsb/miscellaneous/Sauer_morning_present.pdf