FROM NEW JERSEY NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
AND THE LINK WITH CANCER
The Radiation and Public Health Project
Toms River NJ
April 26, 2001
RPHP Research Associates
Jay M. Gould, Ph.D., Director
Ernest J. Sternglass, Ph.D., Chief Scientist
Jerry Brown, Ph.D.
Joseph Mangano, MPH, MBA
William McDonnell, MA
Marsha Marks, ACSW, LCSW
Janette Sherman, MD
Operations at the four nuclear reactors in New Jersey (Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, and Salem 1/2 and Hope Creek in Salem) have added considerable radioactivity to the local environment, raising the question of whether local residents have been harmed. The Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) research group has investigated this issue, and has documented facts that suggest such harm is occurring. A number of these findings have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
Environmental Levels of Radioactivity
Link Between Sr-90 in Teeth and Childhood Cancer
FROM NEW JERSEY NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
AND THE LINK WITH CANCER
Nuclear power reactors have been operating in the U.S. since 1957. Each of the 103 reactors currently operating in the U.S. (at 72 plants) emits radioactive chemicals into the air and water, from routine operations and from accidents. This radioactivity enters the food chain through precipitation, and is consumed by humans. Most emissions involve chemicals that are not found in nature, but are produced only by atomic bomb explosions and nuclear reactor operations.
Of the 103 nuclear reactors, four are located in New Jersey. The Oyster Creek reactor is situated in Lacey Township (southern Ocean County), and began operations in 1969. Oyster Creek is the oldest of the 103 American reactors. The Salem 1 and 2 reactors in Salem (southern Salem County) opened in 1976 and 1980, respectively. The Hope Creek reactor, located on the same site, opened in 1986. Six other reactors were once proposed for the state, but were later cancelled. (Table 1)
NUCLEAR POWER REACTORS
IN AND NEAR NEW JERSEY
Reactor Location Startup Operating Utility
1. Oyster Creek Forked River 5/ 3/69 GPU Nuclear/Amergen
2. Salem 1 Salem 12/11/76 Public Service Electric & Gas
3. Salem 2 Salem 8/ 8/80 Public Service Electric & Gas
4. Hope Creek Salem 6/28/86 Public Service Electric & Gas
Reactors Proposed, But Never Built
5. Hope Creek 2 Salem 2/27/70 Public Service Electric & Gas
6. Burlington 1 Burlington 12/13/66 Public Service Electric & Gas
7. Burlington 2 Burlington 12/13/66 Public Service Electric & Gas
8. Atlantic 1 off Atlantic coast 3/ 1/74 Public Service Electric & Gas
9. Atlantic 2 off Atlantic coast 3/ 1/74 Public Service Electric & Gas
10. Forked River Forked River 7/10/73 Jersey Central Power & Light
Operating Reactors Closest to New Jersey
11. Limerick 1 Pottstown PA startup 12/22/84 35 mi NW of Camden
12. Limerick 2 Pottstown PA startup 8/ 1/89 35 mi NW of Camden
13. Indian Point 1 Buchanan NY startup 9/16/62 27 mi NE of Paterson
14. Indian Point 2 Buchanan NY startup 5/22/73 27 mi NE of Paterson
15. Indian Point 3 Buchanan NY startup 4/ 6/76 27 mi NE of Paterson
Source: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Built to help the area meet its demand for electricity, the reactors have had a spotty record of safety and health concerns. GPU Inc., which operated Oyster Creek, considered closing the reactor in the late 1990s because of high operating costs of maintaining the plant. (1) GPU subsequently sold the plant to the Amergen Corporation, which must soon consider whether to apply for an extension of the plant's operating license, which expires in December 2009. The Oyster Creek and Salem reactors have had to frequently close due to mechanical breakdowns; the Salem reactors were closed for a period of several years during the mid-1990s.
The capacity factor, or percent of the time that each New Jersey reactor operated, is given below, from beginning of operations through 1999. (2)
Reactor To 1994 1995-99
Oyster Creek 67.8% 88.6%
Salem 1 57.6% 34.4%
Salem 2 56.7% 41.8%
Hope Creek 82.2% 80.3%
U.S. average 75.0% N/A
1. Radioactive Releases Into the Environment
Utilities operating nuclear power plants are required to send annual reports on radioactive releases to the federal government. New Jersey reactors have emitted substantial amounts (78.1 trillion picocuries) of radioactivity) into the air from 1970-93. Virtually all of this total (77.0 trillion) was emitted from Oyster Creek, making it the reactor with the greatest level of releases. (3) The Dresden plant in Illinois emitted more radioactivity, but it has three reactors to Oyster Creek's one. These totals do not include rapidly-decaying radioactive chemicals (half-life of under eight days).
By comparison, the Three Mile Island accident in March 1979 released 14.20 trillion picocuries of radioactive chemicals. Thus, releases from the four New Jersey reactors are more than five times that during the Three Mile Island accident. (Table 2)
NUCLEAR PLANTS WITH HIGHEST EMISSIONS*
OF AIRBORNE RADIOACTIVITY, 1970-1993
(Total U.S. plants = 72, total reactors = 103)
Plant Location Reactors Emissions*
1. Dresden Morris IL 3 97.22
2. Oyster Creek Forked River NJ 1 77.05
3. Millstone Waterford CT 3 32.80
4. Quad Cities Cordova IL 2 26.95
5. Indian Point Buchanan NY 3 17.50
6. Nine Mile Point Scriba NY 2 14.67
7. Three Mile Island Middletown PA 2 14.41
8. Brunswick Southport NC 2 14.19
* Emissions defined as curies of airborne effluents of iodine-131 and particulates (all radioactive chemicals with a half-life of eight days or greater)
Source: Tichler J, Doty K, Lucadamo K. Radioactive Materials Released from Nuclear Power Plants, annual reports. Upton NY: Brookhaven National Laboratory, prepared for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NUREG/CR-2907.
Note: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission discontinued centralized reporting system after 1993.
2. Dietary Levels of Radioactivity
Radioactive releases, in the form of tiny particles, are returned to earth in precipitation and enter the drinking water, milk, and food. The federally-mandated program to measure radioactivity in the diet was started by the Eisenhower administration in 1957, during the time of large-scale atomic bomb testing above the Nevada desert.
Levels of radioactivity in New Jersey are of particular interest; with a yearly average precipitation level of about 45 inches. The amount of radioactive chemicals (specifically, those emitting beta particles) in Trenton precipitation has been measured for two decades by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In the 1980s and 1990s, following the last atmospheric bomb test worldwide (China -1980) levels have varied between rises and declines. (4)
This trend suggests that some current source of radioactivity is preventing levels from declining due to old, decaying fallout from atomic bomb tests. No atomic bombs have been tested above ground in the U.S. since 1962 and below ground since 1992, and nuclear waste is buried and has not yet entered the food chain. Thus, the only plausible current source of these man-made products is nuclear reactors.
3. Radioactivity Levels in the Body
In the 1950s and 1960s, the St. Louis Committee for Nuclear Information tested 60,000 baby teeth for levels of radioactive Strontium-90 (Sr-90) at birth. Sr-90 is one of dozens of radioactive chemicals found only in atomic bomb tests and nuclear reactor emissions. It is like calcium, seeking out bone and teeth, and resides in the body for many years (half-life of 28.7 years), making it possible to test in-body levels. Sr-90 impairs cells in the bone and bone marrow (in which the immune system defenses are built, making it a risk factor for all cancers.
The St. Louis group found that for children born in 1964, when above-ground bomb testing ended was banned, the average Sr-90 level was 50 times greater than for those born in 1950, just before testing began. After 1964, Sr-90 averages declined sharply until the federal government discontinued the study in 1970 (see Figure 1).
Government officials also maintained a small program of testing Sr-90 in bones of deceased adults in New York and San Francisco. This program was also discontinued, in 1982 (5) just as Sr-90 levels began to increase again after a long decline since the end of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in 1963. Since then, the U.S. has been without a systematic program of testing humans for radioactivity levels in their bodies.
In 1996, the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) research group initiated a baby tooth study measuring Sr-90 levels, known as the Tooth Fairy Project. The study is patterned on the St. Louis effort, which provides historical data on Sr-90 levels in the U.S. The RPHP study represents the first study in the U.S. of in-body radioactivity for persons living near nuclear reactors.
As of late April 2001, RPHP has collected about 2800 teeth, mostly from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, and California. It has measured Sr-90 concentrations in 1463 of these. The average concentration of 1.53 picocuries Sr-90 per gram of calcium is equivalent to the level found in St. Louis children born in 1956 (1.57), in the midst of the program of nuclear weapons tests above the Nevada desert.
Concentrations of Sr-90 in 249 baby teeth of persons born in New Jersey have been measured thus far by RPHP. Most (222) of these are persons born after 1979, long after large-scale atmospheric atomic bomb testing ceased in 1963 with the ratification of the Partial Test Ban Treaty. Of these 222, nearly half (106) are persons born in Ocean County, the location of the Oyster Creek reactor.
The average Sr-90 level in New Jersey of 1.55 picocuries per gram of calcium was greater than those for New York and Connecticut, but lower than Florida and California. The average for Ocean County was 1.39. (Table 3) Average Sr-90 levels in Ocean County vary according to the town of residence. The highest average was recorded in Brick, based on 18 teeth from persons born after 1979.
CONCENTRATIONS OF STRONTIUM-90
IN BABY TEETH, BY GEOGRAPHIC AREA
PERSONS BORN AFTER 1979
Teeth collected = 2800
Teeth processed = 1463 (1352 born after 1979)
Place of Residence No. of teeth Avg. pCi Sr90 per
During Pregnancy b. after 1979 g Ca in Teeth at Birth*
Florida 121 2.08
California 106 1.73
New Jersey 222 1.55
- (Ocean County 106 1.39)
- (Other New Jersey 116 1.69)
New York 784 1.41
Connecticut 44 0.96
All Other 75
TOTAL 1352 1.53
St. Louis 1949-1950 (before Nevada 0.20
bomb tests and nuclear power reactors)
St. Louis 1956 (during regular nuclear 1.57
Weapons tests by US and USSR)
St. Louis 1964 (peak of Nevada bomb 11.03
tests, before nuclear reactors)
Zip code areas in Ocean County providing the most teeth
Toms River (08753, 08755, 08757) 22 1.29
Brick (08723, 08724) 18 2.19
Barnegat (08005) 9 0.75
Little Egg Harbor/Tuckerton/ 9 0.99
Mystic Islands (08087)
Forked River (08731) 8 0.94
Source: Radiation and Public Health Project.
Average Strontium-90 concentrations in Ocean County teeth fell after 1979; the largest releases from Oyster Creek occurred in the 1970s. However, average concentrations did not change for births after 1984, suggesting again that a current source of radioactive emissions is affecting averages. (Table 4)
AVERAGE SR-90 CONCENTRATIONS IN BABY TEETH
OCEAN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY
Year of Birth No. of teeth Avg. pCi Sr-90/g Ca*
1970-79 8 2.92
1980-84 13 1.76
1985-87 22 1.36
1988-90 33 1.35
1991-93 38 1.33
Total 1980-93 106 1.39
* average picocuries (one-trillionth of a curie) of Sr-90 per gram of calcium in baby teeth at birth
4. Trends in Releases of Other Pollutants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tracks annual airborne emission levels for each U.S. county for five common pollutants. Some of these chemicals have been regulated in existing laws, and the EPA has measured their decline. In Ocean County, annual emissions in four of five such pollutants declined substantially from 1986 to 1996. The only exception is sulfur dioxide, which rose (although it actually declined 27.2% after reaching a peak in 1992). (Table 5) These trends would suggest more healthful conditions in Ocean County, and any increases in disease and death rates could not be due primarily to these common pollutants.
TRENDS IN ANNUAL AIRBORNE EMISSIONS
OCEAN COUNTY, 1986-1996
Pollutant 1986 Emissions (Tons) 1996 Emissions (Tons) % Ch.
Sulfur Dioxide 1919 3334 +73.7%
Nitrogen Oxides 17028 15474 - 9.1%
Volatile Organic Compounds 23578 15702 - 33.4%
Carbon Monoxide 120421 76768 - 36.3%
Particulate Matter 19990 11717 - 41.3%
< 10 Microns
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, available at http://tree2.epa.gov
III. RADIATION AND HEALTH IN NEW JERSEY
Since the atomic era began in the 1940s, scientists have been studying effects of exposures to man-made radioactivity. Elevated levels of illness and death are attributed to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs; bomb tests in Nevada, the South Pacific, and the former Soviet Union; and the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Each of these studies involved relatively high levels of exposure to radioactivity.
In addition, researchers have addressed effects of relatively low doses of radioactivity. The first to scientifically document hazards of low-dose exposures was Alice Stewart, a British physician. In the 1950s, Stewart showed that a pelvic Xray examination to a pregnant woman doubled the chance that the baby would die of cancer before age 10. (6)
Studies of low-dose exposures have addressed many diseases, but often focus on cancer in children. Radioactive chemicals are known to be more harmful to the young, particularly the developing fetus and infant. Body growth and cell division is most rapid early in life, and thus a damaged cell is most likely to cause harm.
The federal government does no systematic tracking of health patterns for persons living near nuclear plants. The only known federal study on cancer near nuclear reactors was a 1990 effort prepared by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), at the insistence of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. NCI concluded there was no cancer risk from reactors, but its designation of counties near reactors as "unexposed controls" is highly controversial. Since 1990, the federal government conducted no studies on health effects of reactor operations.
RPHP's Jay Gould performed additional research on cancer near nuclear reactors. In his book The Enemy Within, Gould found that women living within 100 miles of nuclear reactors are at the greatest risk of dying of breast cancer. These findings inspired the baby tooth study, designed to gather clinical evidence of the presence of environmental radiation in children's teeth.
Near Oyster Creek, high age-adjusted 1985-89 breast cancer death rates were observed in Ocean County (28.7 per 100,000) and Monmouth County (31.9). Near Salem, levels were also high in the urban counties of Camden NJ (28.8), Delaware PA (31.7), and New Castle DE (29.6). Each of these rates is considerably higher than the U.S. average of 24.6 during this period. (7)
2. Cancer Near Oyster Creek - Children
In 1997, the New Jersey Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared an official cancer cluster among children in Dover Township, located just nine miles north (downwind) of the Oyster Creek plant. (8) From 1979 to 1995, 90 local cancer cases among children age 0-19 were confirmed, compared to an expected number of 67.
Since 1997, public health officials have attempted to determine factors behind the cluster, but have yet to identify one. No attempt has been made to examine radioactive emissions from nuclear reactors, although experts like Dr. Helen Caldicott have proposed that officials consider this possibility. (9)
Statistical information reveals that high levels of childhood cancer in the Oyster Creek area extend beyond Dover Township, but include all of Ocean and Monmouth Counties. Table 6 shows that in 1995-98, cancer incidence in children age 0-4 in the two counties exceeded the U.S. rate by 32.4% and the rate in other New Jersey Counties by 30.6%. The cancer mortality age 0-9 was 74.1% higher than the nation, and 54.0% higher than the state. Both the incidence and mortality rates are significantly greater (or approach significance) than the state and nation.
The cancer mortality rate age 0-9 in Ocean and Monmouth actually increased by 45.9% from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. This pattern is quite unusual, because improvements in treatment have meant declines in cancer deaths for children throughout the nation. The rate declined 23.4% and 35.3%, respectively, for other counties in New Jersey and for the U.S.
TRENDS IN CANCER INCIDENCE AND MORTALITY
OCEAN AND MONMOUTH COUNTY CHILDREN
Area Cases, Age 0-4 Avg. Pop. 0-4 Cases/100,000
Ocean, Monmouth 80 73,993 27.03
Other New Jersey 409 490,011 20.70
U.S. (1995-97) 1125 1,377,284 20.42
Excess Ocean, Monmouth Over U.S. +32.4% p<.08
Excess Ocean, Monmouth Over Other N.J. +30.6% p<.10
Sources: New Jersey Cancer Registry, Trenton NJ (New Jersey data). Cancer registries for Atlanta, Connecticut, Detroit, Hawaii, Iowa, New Mexico, San Francisco, Seattle, and Utah (U.S. data).
Area Deaths, Age 0-9 Avg. Pop. 0-9 Deaths/100,000
Ocean, Monmouth 33 153,928 5.36
Other New Jersey 138 990,509 3.48
U.S. 4804 33,934,051 3.08
Excess Ocean, Monmouth Over U.S. +74.1% p<.04
Excess Ocean, Monmouth Over Other N.J. +54.0% p<.09
Mortality, Ocean and Monmouth Counties, since 1979
Years Deaths, Age 0-9 Avg. Pop. 0-9 Deaths/100,000
1980-84 21 114,346 3.67
1985-89 26 126,415 4.11
1990-94 29 141,374 4.10
1995-98 33 153,928 5.36
Change 1980-84 to 1995-98
- Ocean and Monmouth +45.9% p<.01
- Other New Jersey -23.4%
- U.S. -35.3%
Source: National Center for Health Statistics (available fromhttp://www.cdc.gov, data and statistics, CDC Wonder). Uses ICD-9 codes 140.0-239.9 (neoplasms).
3. Cancer Near Salem/Hope Creek - Elderly
Because of the relatively small population near the Salem/Hope Creek complex, cancer in children is difficult to analyze, as the small numbers often lack significance. However, cancer in elderly, which is much more common, provides an indication of trends in the area.
In Salem and Gloucester Counties, which are located downwind (to the north and northeast) and under 30 miles of Salem/Hope Creek, an unusually large rise in cancer mortality in persons over 65 has occurred in the past two decades. Increases from 1979-81 to 1996-98 (the latest data available) for certain cancers are particularly large, including leukemia (+130.4%); Hodgkin's Disease and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (+115.2%); Multiple Myeloma (+ 74.5%). Results are presented in Table 7.
Each of these changes are significantly greater than national trends. Leukemia, Hodgkin's Disease, and non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma are all cancers of the blood-forming organs, while Multiple Myeloma is a malignancy of the bone marrow. Each of these is especially sensitive to the effects of bone-seeking radioactive chemicals, including Strontium.
CHANGE IN DEATH RATE, AGE >65
GLOUCESTER AND SALEM COUNTIES
1979-81 vs. 1996-98
Deaths/100,000 (No.) % Change
Type of Cancer 1979-81 1996-98 Local Oth NJ U.S.
All Cancers 1024.05 (780) 1231.09 (1411) + 20.2% +7.7% +12.1% p<.01
Leukemia 19.69 ( 15) 45.37 ( 52) +130.4% +16.0% +11.0% p<.01
Hodgkins Disease/ 27.57 ( 21) 59.33 ( 68) +115.2% +53.4% +54.9% p<.06
Multiple Myeloma 10.50 ( 8) 18.32 ( 21) + 74.5% +35.7% +30.4%
All portions of Gloucester and Salem are located less than 30 miles of the Salem and Hope Creek reactors, and downwind. Prevailing winds are from the south in Wilmington DE, and from the west-southwest in Philadelphia.
Gloucester and Salem population over 65 is 76,168 (1979-81), and 114,614 (1996-98).
Source: National Center for Health Statistics (available athttp://www.cdc.gov, data and statistics, CDC Wonder), mortality data. Bair FE. Weather of U.S. Cities, 4th Edition. Detroit: Gale Research Company Inc., 1992 (prevailing wind directions).
IV. THE LINK BETWEEN CANCER RISK AND SR-90 IN TEETH
The St. Louis study was designed to measure the increased burden of radioactivity in the body from atomic bomb testing, and not to consider cancer risk of this radioactivity. However, the rise in Sr-90 levels in teeth corresponded to a rise in cancer incidence in children under five years old in the 1950s and early 1960s. In the late 1960s, after above-ground testing ended, both Sr-90 in teeth and childhood cancer declined.
The rise in childhood cancer during bomb testing contributed to President Kennedy's decision to sign the historic 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty with the former Soviet Union and Great Britain. At that time, the Kennedy White House asked Ernest Sternglass, now chief scientist of RPHP, to testify before a Congressional committee on the health effects of nuclear weapons testing. Dr. Sternglass' work played a key role in the passage of the historic treaty, which prohibited above ground and under water nuclear weapons tests.
Initial results of RPHP's Tooth Fairy Project were published in three peer-reviewed medical journals. (10) (11) (12) In Suffolk County NY, which contributed over 500 teeth to the study, an increase in Sr-90 averages was followed by an increase in childhood cancer - and a drop in Sr-90 was followed by lower childhood cancer rates (see Figure 2). Thus, RPHP has found a statistical link between Sr-90 in teeth and childhood cancer. In addition, average Sr-90 levels increased 50% after the opening of the Diablo Canyon plant in California in the mid-1980s, followed by a rise in local childhood cancer death rates in the 1990s.
Only 113 teeth from Ocean County have been analyzed by RPHP, far fewer than the total from Suffolk County NY. However, the trends in average Sr-90 levels and cancer incidence rates age 0-4 in Ocean County are roughly equivalent, with a three-year lag (Figure 1). The three-year lag means cancer trends correspond to Sr-90 trends three years later; previous research like that of Alice Stewart indicates that fetal exposures to radiation only manifest into cancers after several years.
This result should still be considered preliminary, and more teeth are needed to further test the radiation-cancer link. If these trends continue, however, RPHP will have produced strong data pointing to a cause-and-effect relationship between fetal exposures to radiation and the risk of developing childhood cancer.
Another means of demonstrating this relationship is by performing a case-control study, commonly used in health research. This would entail the comparison of Sr-90 levels of New Jersey children with cancer (cases) with levels in healthy children (controls). RPHP is making preparations for such a study in several areas of the U.S.
V. HEALTH EFFECTS OF CLOSING NUCLEAR REACTORS
In April 2000, RPHP also published findings that in downwind areas within 40 miles of five nuclear closed nuclear power plants, infant deaths dropped sharply in the first two years after closing. Since the article was published, this list has been expanded to eight plants - all showing an immediate and dramatic improvement in infant mortality. (13) The total decline of -16.9% in the eight areas was significantly greater than the normal U.S. decline of -6.4% (Table 8).
In three of the eight states in which closed reactors were located, cancer incidence registries existed before and after plant closing. In each of these three areas, cancer incidence in children under five years old declined in the first seven years after closing. The total decline of -25.0% was significantly different than the U.S. increase of +4.4%.
CHANGE IN INFANT DEATHS AND CHILDHOOD CANCER
COUNTIES DOWNWIND OF CLOSED NUCLEAR PLANTS
BEFORE AND AFTER CLOSING
Infant Deaths (< 1 Year), 2 Yrs. Before vs. 2 Yrs. After Closing
Reactor Year Closed % change
LaCrosse WI 1987 -15.4%
Rancho Seco CA 1989 -16.0%
Fort St. Vrain CO 1989 -15.4%
Trojan OR 1992 -17.9%
Big Rock Point MI 1997 -54.2%
Maine Yankee ME 1997 - 8.3%
Pilgrim MA 1986 -24.3%
Millstone/ 1995 -17.4%
Haddam Neck CT
TOTAL 8 REACTORS -16.9% p<.02
U.S. AVERAGE, 1986-98 - 6.4%
Notes: "Before" period includes year of reactor closing. For example, the "before" period for LaCrosse is defined as 1986-87, and the "after" period is 1988-89. Only includes reactors in which closing creates a radius of at least 70 miles with no other operating reactors. Millstone 2 and 3 reactors re-started in July 1999 and July 1998, respectively. Pilgrim reactor re-started December 1988. Other closings are permanent.
Sources: National Center for Health Statistics (available fromhttp://www.cdc.gov, data and statistics, CDC Wonder). Bair FE. Weather of U.S. Cities, 4th Edition. Detroit: Gale Research Company Inc., 1992 (for prevailing wind directions).
Cancer Incidence (< 5 Years), 2 Yrs. Before vs. 7 Yrs. After Closing
Cases 0-4 Avg. Pop. 0-4 Cases/100000
Reactor, Date Closed Before After Before After Before After % Change
LaCrosse (4/30/87) 7 15 8746 8722 40.02 24.57 -38.6%
Rancho Seco (6/6/89) 50 153 104151 122017 24.00 17.91 -25.4% p<.02
Ft. St. Vrain (8/16/89) 10 32 24578 25535 20.34 17.90 -12.0%
TOTAL 3 AREAS 67 200 137475 156274 24.36 18.28 -25.0% p<.003
U.S. 705 2678 1783871 1854395 19.76 20.63 + 4.4%
Notes: "Before" and "after" periods are 1986-87 vs. 1988-94 (LaCrosse); 1988-89 vs. 1990-96 (Rancho Seco); and 1988-89 vs. 1990-96 (Fort St. Vrain). Includes counties downwind and within 40 miles of closed reactors including LaCrosse WI and Vernon WI (LaCrosse); Amador CA, El Dorado CA, Placer CA, and Sacramento CA (Rancho Seco); and Larimer CO and Weld CO (Fort St. Vrain).
Sources: State cancer registries for California, Colorado, and Wisconsin (local data). Cancer registries for Atlanta, Connecticut, Detroit, Hawaii, Iowa, New Mexico, San Francisco, Seattle, and Utah (U.S. data).
In the mid-1990s, mechanical problems caused the Salem 1 and 2 reactors to cease operations to make necessary repairs. Although the reactors were never totally closed for two consecutive calendar years, they were closed for much of 1995, 1996, and 1997. During these three years, the infant mortality rate for Salem and Gloucester counties located downwind of the plant declined -31.3%, compared to decreases of just -18.2% and -11.2% for the rest of New Jersey and the U.S., respectively. In 1998, when the reactors were operating again, infant mortality in the two counties increased +8.8%. (Table 9).
CHANGE IN INFANT DEATH RATE
AND CANCER INCIDENCE RATE AGE 0-4
SALEM AND GLOUCESTER COUNTIES
BEFORE AND AFTER REACTOR CLOSING
After Closing Infant Deaths Live Births Deaths/1000 Births
Area 1992-4 1995-7 1992-4 1995-7 1992-4 1995-7 % Ch.
Salem County 35 16 2625 2428 13.33 6.59 -50.6
Gloucester County 71 53 10031 9558 7.09 5.55 -21.7
TOTAL 106 69 12656 11986 8.38 5.76 -31.3
Other New Jersey 2783 2196 342440 330427 8.13 6.65 -18.2
U.S. 8.30 7.38 -11.2
After Restart Infant Deaths Live Births Deaths/1000 Births
Area 1995-7 1998 1995-7 1998 1995-7 1998 % Ch.
Salem County 16 8 2428 775 6.59 10.32 +56.6
Gloucester County 53 17 9558 3218 5.55 5.28 - 4.9
TOTAL 69 25 11986 3993 5.76 6.26 + 8.8
Other New Jersey 2196 709 330427 110557 6.65 6.41 - 3.5
U.S. 7.38 7.20 - 2.4
Sources: National Center for Health Statistics (available fromhttp://www.cdc.gov, data and statistics, CDC Wonder).
Minimizing adverse health effects of emissions from nuclear power reactors is an important element in any effective strategy to prevent disease and death. Studies show that radioactivity from nuclear plants is getting into the environment and human body, and may be hurting the health of Americans, especially its youngest members.
Because of the need to minimize risk and prevent disease, RPHP has initiated a national study of Strontium-90 in baby teeth, with the goals of collecting and testing 5,000 teeth and correlating radioactivity levels with cancer risk. A complete study of in-body radioactivity levels in persons living near nuclear reactors is the most effective means of studying whether radioactivity emitted from nuclear reactors is affecting cancer levels in the U.S. To date there have been no such studies from government or private researchers.
After reviewing the initial findings of the Tooth Fairy Project in 1999, Dr. Victor W. Sidel, past president of the American Public Health Association, and Dr. H. Jack Geiger, past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, stated:
"If the levels of Strontium-90 in children's teeth and the variations in levels by geographic area reported in this study are validated by appropriate repetition, these findings would appear to justify intensive follow-up and continuing large-scale surveillance. Given the biological risk associated with body burdens of even small amounts of long-lived radioactive Strontium-90, it would be prudent to regard these findings as suggestive of a potential threat to human health."
Information on the radiation-cancer link should be considered by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in its environmental review of utility applications to renew and extend the licenses of aging nuclear power plants in New Jersey and across the U.S.
Mangano JJ. Improvements in Local Health After Nuclear Power Reactor Closing. Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology, Spring 2000, pp. 32-36.