A vital cancer study which was started by the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 has been canceled after heavy lobbying by the nuclear industry. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission cancelled the study citing financial reasons despite the fact that money for the 8 million dollar study had already been budgeted. In light of the agency’s one-billion dollar operating budget the amount of money necessary to complete the study should not be a deal breaker for an investigation so relevant to the citizens of the Hudson River Valley and other communities with reactors in their back yards.
“Funding a cancer study around nuclear power plants is a legitimate cost of doing radioactive business and the NRC could have collected money through its licensing fees,” said Paul Gunter, Director of Reactor Oversight at Beyond Nuclear and an NRC watchdog. “Instead, the NRC has decided to pass along another cost savings to the nuclear industry at the expense of public health and safety.”
The Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, a grassroots group working for the closure of Indian Point, joins Beyond Nuclear, an educational group committed to a sustainable future, to decry this outrageous decision by the NRC to cancel a study that would have examined cancer incidence and mortalities and their connection to U.S. nuclear facilities.
“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, radiation and health specialist at Beyond Nuclear.
Margo Schepart of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition said “For the past 20 years we’ve heard personal stories and concerns from area residents regarding the possibility of thyroid and other cancer clusters in the communities surrounding Indian Point. The taxpayers who live near or downwind of nuclear plants have a right to know what effect these federally subsidized plants are having on the health of their families.“
Last year, Alfred Koerblein and Ian Fairlie, noted British radiation biologists, conducted a meta-analysis of cancer studies around nuclear plants in the UK, Germany, France and Switzerland and found “a highly statistically significant 37% increase in childhood leukemias within 5 km (3 miles) of almost all nuclear power plants” in those countries. Reacting to the NRC’s decision, Fairlie said it was “highly regrettable and inexplicable given the large amount of good evidence from countries outside the U.S. which strongly pointed to increased leukemia near nuclear power plants.”
Marilyn Elie of the Indian Point coalition commented that the growing influence of the nuclear industry over the NRC is no surprise, given that the agency receives 90% of its funding from the nuclear industry. She noted, “Over the last 20 years of attending public hearings concerning Indian Point, I have seen a growing pattern of curtailing public input and canceling minimal safety measures. It is a very worrying trend that potentially puts us all at grave risk. Cancelling a National Academy of Science study dealing with such a critical matter, a study that was already in progress makes it clear that the NRC serves the industry, not the public.”
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