The topic of radiation sickness and death from nuclear power plants is controversial, and causes heated argument from both sides of the nuclear power issue. Over the decades, the nuclear proponents’ position has changed from “no one has ever been injured”, to “no
UPDATE - 6/9/2014: Cancer rates near Sacramento, CA decreased significantly after the Rancho Seco nuclear plant was shut down. "The first long-term study of the full-population health impacts of the closure of a U.S. nuclear reactor found 4,319 fewer cancers over 20 years, with declines in cancer incidence in 28 of 31 categories – 14 of them statistically significant – including notable drops in cancer for women, Hispanics and children.
Published in the peer-reviewed medical journal, Biomedicine International, the major new article, “Long-term Local Cancer Reductions Following Nuclear Plant Shutdown,” is the work of epidemiologist Joseph Mangano, M.P.H. M.B.A., executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project, and internist and toxicologist Janette Sherman, M.D." -- see link
Approximately 18 million Americans live within 20 miles of a nuclear power plant (5 percent of total population), while 116 million live within 50 miles (almost one-third of total population) -- end update]
[Update- 6/14/2014: Thyroid cancer cases increased in children near Fukushima.
[UPDATE 9/13/2015 - the NRC has cancelled a study that would have determined, then published, the statistics on greater-than-normal incidences of diseases among persons, especially children, living within close distances of nuclear power plants. The technology and data is available for the study, but NRC chose not to allocate funding to the study. Predictably, nuclear advocates cheered, and nuclear opponents are disappointed. see link to the article.
An earlier (1991) study of health effects near nuclear plants was fatally flawed by design, and its results are not surprising.
Quoting the article: "Among the study’s many problems, according to scientists who were designing the new probe:
•"It tracked mortality rates based on where people died, rather than where they lived before getting cancer. That makes it hard to determine true lifetime exposure.
• "It tracked deaths, rather than total cancer cases. That may downplay the full health impact of living near a reactor, since many cancer patients survive.
• "It used countywide data to reach conclusions – a blunt instrument that may again downplay the impact on those living closest to a reactor. Residents in La Habra and San Clemente live in the same county – but few would argue that they had the same exposure to San Onofre.
"To remedy all that, the NRC asked the NAS to evaluate cancer diagnosis rates, not just cancer deaths; and to explore how to divide the areas around nuclear facilities into geographical units smaller than counties. The NAS made no bones about the effort being difficult and time-consuming, but said it could be done."
This is certainly an area where citizen volunteers - qualified and motivated - should step forward to perform this study pro-bono. Also, it is a shame that the US government cannot find the $8 million to perform the initial study of 7 reactors. In an era where government spending, and borrowing, is full of studies for irrelevant issues, this one is certainly deserving of funding. --- end update 9/13/2015]
Part Fourteen - A Few More Reasons Nuclear Cannot Compete
Part Fifteen - Nuclear Safety Compromised by Bending the Rules
Part Sixteen - Near Misses on Meltdowns Occur Every 3 Weeks
Part Seventeen - Storing Spent Fuel is Hazardous for Short or Long Term
Part Eighteen - Reprocessing Spent Fuel Is Not Safe
Part Twenty Two - Fukushima The Disaster That Could Not Happen
Part Twenty Three - San Onofre Shutdown Saga
Part Twenty Six - Evacuation Plans Required at Nuclear Plants
Part Twenty Seven - Power From Nuclear Fusion