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Dr. Ernest Sternglass – pioneering researcher into radioactive emissions

Nuclear Shutdown News – October 2015, ObRag, by  on NOVEMBER 12, 2015 Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline of the nuclear power industry in the US and beyond, and highlights the efforts of those who are working to create a nuclear free future.

Millstone and Me: 2015…… The Millstone Nuclear Power Plant began operating in 1970. It wasn’t long before its notoriety began too, as its design was similar to Fukushima’s.

During the mid 1970s, the plant’s owner and operator,  CT’s Northeast Utilities was running Millstone reactor 1, with defective fuel rods, which resulted in massive releases of radiation into the air and water. The US Nuclear Regulator Commission NRC) knew of these releases, but said they were “within acceptable limits.”

Enter Sternglass Knowledge of these massive releases eventually made their way to Dr. Ernest Sternglass – who had been a nuclear energy proponent who worked for Westinghouse, which was building some of the first US nuclear power plants. One of these was Shippingport in Pennsylvania.

At first Sternglass believed that radioactive emissions from this nuke plant would be too low to harm people. Soon, however, he began to question this. First of all, reported releases from the plant were significantly higher than authorities had predicted.

This led Sternglass to examine vital statistics in populations living near the plant. There he found spikes in cancer rates emerging, as well in other health problems such a infant mortality and birth defects.

When Sternglass reported these findings to his employer, he quickly became persona non gratain the nuclear power industry.

Dr. Sternglass went on to become professor of radiological studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

When Sternglass received the information about the Millstone ‘70s radioactive releases, and examined them, he became alarmed. These turned out to be the highest annual releases from a US nuclear power plant with the exception of Three Mile Island during its partial meltdown in 1979.

As with Shippingport, Sternglass analyzed vital statistics in communities surrounding Millstone. Again he found disturbing rises in death rates and infant mortality, as well all cancers and specific ones like leukemia and thyroid cancer.

Dr, Sternglass went public with his findings, and initially they caused quite a stir around Connecticut and New England. There were calls for further investigations and cries for the permanent shutdown of Millstone.

Dr. Ernest Sternglass continued his pioneering work into the effects of radiation on human health, which he reported in his brilliant book Secret Fallout: From Hiroshima To Three Mile Island.  Dr. Sternglass died in 2014.

Instead of shutting down Millstone reactor 1, Northeast Utilities started up 2 more reactors. In the1990s chronic mismanagement and harassment of whistle-blowers landed Millstone on the cover of Time Magazine and forced the permanent closure of reactor one.

All its high level nuclear waste, as well as that of the other 2 units, remains on site, making it a massive nuclear dumpsite as well.

Unit 2 turned 40 this year, meaning it has exceeded the years it was designed to operate. Unit 3 will turn 30 next year.

Cancer rates remain high in the region, Dr, Sternglass helped start the Radiation and Public Health Project, which continues his work and has produced studies showing that people living within 50 miles of nuclear plnt are more likely to develop cancer and that after nuclear plants permanently shut down, cancer rates in populations around them begin to fall.

Sources:  Millstone and Me: Sex, Lies, and Radiation in Southeast Connecticut; 1998, Black Rain Press.

Radiation and Public Health Project:


November 12, 2015 - Posted by | history, radiation

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