Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is Nuclear Power a Safe Climate Change Solution? New Evidence Suggests Health Risks Include Childhood Cancer

A segment on this week's Living On Earth should give pause to those who consider nuclear power to be a safe form of emissions-free electricity that must be used to help us solve climate change.

According to evidence presented by epidemiologist, Joseph Mangano, with the Radiation and Public Health Project, nuclear power plants can be linked to higher rates of childhood cancer:

MANGANO: We found that close to nuclear plants the levels of strontium-90 are considerable higher than areas far away. Number two, we found that levels are going up – since the late 1980s they've gone up about 50 percent, as nuclear plants get older, and are corroding more, and emitting more radiation. And number three, we found the link with childhood cancer. We found that in counties closest to nuclear plants in New York and New Jersey, when strontium-90 in teeth went up, childhood cancer went up; when strontium-90 went down, childhood cancer went down.

CURWOOD: What tests have you conducted that show the effects of before and after a nuclear power plant closes?

MANGANO: We've done two studies, which looked at eight nuclear plants in the United States that were shut down permanently during the 1980's and the 1990's. And we found that in the first two years after nuclear reactors shut there was a very sharp plunge in the rate of infants that died, in the rate of children born with birth defects, and in the rate of children diagnosed with cancer.

Experts tell us that the economics of nuclear power plants are not there.  Now we have evidence that they are not really "emissions-free" -- it's just that their 'emissions'-related dangers are, shall we say, different than those of fossil fuel burning. We solve global warming, but see an increased risk that our kids will get cancer.  Not really what I'm looking for in my climate change and clean energy solutions...

Listen to the segment>>

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