Nuclear lobby out to discredit Joe Mangano – but perhaps he is right!
Industry and government regulators claim Mangano’s study, as well as his previous peer-reviewed research studying the health impacts of radiation on local communities, is not credible.
“Given Mr. Mangano’s history of discredited reports due to poor science and that this newer report draws on the previously discredited work, PG&E is not giving this report any consideration,” Blair Jones, a PG&E spokesman, told Truthout in a written statement. “Recent assessments performed by the US nuclear industry’s federal regulator, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), demonstrate Diablo Canyon is being operated safely and in a manner that protects the health and safety of the public. The NRC has found our operations continue to meet all safety and security performance objectives.”
And the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), an industry group, reacted even more aggressively, calling Mangano a “fearmonger” and “scaremonger.” The group regularly cites a statistic from the EPA that nuclear power plants only account for 0.1 percent of the radiation an average American is exposed to in the course of a year and that exposures from common medical procedures such as CT scans and X-Rays account for about 50 percent of this overall level.
But Dr. Hosea questions their claims. “At least with medical radiation you know you’re exposed and you can make a decision whether or not it’s worth the risk of getting a cat scan which is very, very small compared to not knowing [about potential risks from reactors] and finding out later that there’s potentially a problem,” he said. “We keep being reassured there’s not a problem, but there very well may be a problem,” he said.
Strontium-90 is not typically released in the radiation patients are exposed to diagnostically, and different radioactive isotopes can be of different qualities in terms of how much harm they can do to the human body.
“In whose interest is it to discount the study and not pay attention to it? It needs further investigation so we can really know the truth,” Dr. Hosea said.
PG&E and the industry group both point to staffers from eight state departments of health and the NRC who have looked into Mangano’s work and have invalidated it. The NEI claims that most of the Strontium-90 in the environment, which has a half-life of 28 years, is a remainder left over from above-ground atom bomb tests in the 1950s and early ’60s, and that there has been no significant change in background levels of radiation near nuclear reactors.
But Mangano’s research has found an overall statistically significant increase in concentrations of Strontium-90 found in baby teeth near Diablo Canyon over time. His previous research has also found that after the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant in Sacramento was closed, public health indicators in the surrounding areas improved.
“What the industry does in the absence of not doing these studies and not liking the results, is calling names,” Brown said. “This is not fifth grade; you do not get to talk about the health and safety of your customers and your neighbors by pointing fingers, and calling names, and trying to discredit, and trying to shoot the messenger.”
“This is not Joe Mangano’s data, this is data that is put out and publicly available by the Centers for Disease Control, by federal statistics and by the California cancer registry,” Brown said.
An NRC spokesman agreed with the industry that Mangano’s latest study lacked credibility. But more than 20 years after a highly cited study claimed there was no increased cancer risk from proximity to nuclear plants, the NRC is finally looking into the matter. The agency has asked National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to perform its own assessment on cancer risk for populations surrounding nuclear reactors, which is still in the works. The NAS has confirmed there are no safe levels of radiation exposure, in contrast with the EPA’s “permissible limits” approach.
“[The NAS assessment] is essentially the study we asked for 20 years ago,” said nuclear engineer David Lochbaum, who directs the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Lochbaum told Truthout that when he asked NRC staffers why they did not address health impacts in a draft environmental impact statement for a nuclear plant seeking a 20-year license extension in 1998, the staffers told him that “human health was outside the scope of their assessments.”
“We applaud the NRC for doing [the health impact study], we just wish it would have been done…” he paused. “I guess better late than never, so we’ll look at the glass as half-full.”
When it comes to the credibility of Mangano’s work, Lochbaum told Truthout more research still needs to be done.
“When I read Joe’s work, it seems plausible,” he said. “When I read industry’s objections, that seems plausible too, and I know they both can’t be right and I don’t know which is. That’s why we advocated … for a health study that included people from the entire spectrum.”…..http://truth-out.org/news/item/22324-study-nuclear-reactors-are-toxic-to-surrounding-areas-especially-as-plants-age?tmpl=component&print=1
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