Monday, September 14, 2015

NRC drops cancer study. Does it matter? | GreenWorld

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) last week abruptly ended a study that it had commissioned from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) that was purportedly being set up to determine whether cancer rates near nuclear reactors are higher than elsewhere and thus, supposedly, whether there is reason to be concerned about routine reactor operation.
Well, we actually already know the answer to that question. Studies from Europe, as we’ve reported, show that cancer rates, especially among children, are definitely higher near nuclear power facilities. The biggest culprit appears to be refueling of reactors–an operation necessary every 12-18 months depending on the particular reactor’s cycle. When the top is taken off the reactor vessel to allow access to the core, and extraordinarily radioactive fuel rods are taken out of the core and moved to fuel pools, extremely high levels of radiation are freed from the reactor vessel. And some of that radiation does manage to get out into the environment.
Reactor containments are robust buildings, but they’re not as solid as perhaps they look. There are large numbers of penetrations–places where pipes and electrical wires come in and out of the building–that provide a much easier escape route for radiation than through several feet of concrete. That radiation is, of course, toxic. And the European studies show that it kills.
Reaction to the NRC’s announcement, even among clean energy groups, has been widely varied. Beyond Nuclear was outraged. The Radiation and Public Health Project said it was a good thing, since any study by the NRC would be set up to show nothing...

MORE: NRC drops cancer study. Does it matter? | GreenWorld

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