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Does Millstone Power Station Cause Cancer? The NRC Wants To Know

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is studying cancer rates near nuclear power plants, including around Millstone Power Station.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will soon commission a $2 million study to analyze the cancer rates of infants and the general population around nuclear power plants, including the population around Waterford’s Millstone Nuclear Power Station.

The National Academy of Science, on behalf of the NRC, will study the populations around seven nuclear power-related facilities – including Millstone Power Station – to see if there is an increase in cancer rates.

The study will take until at least 2014, and cost approximately $2 million, according to an NRC press release.

The point of the study is to update a report done in 1990 entitled “Cancer in Populations Living Near Nuclear Facilities.” The study, done by the National Cancer Institute, found that there was no difference in the cancer rate of populations that live close to a nuclear power plant compared to the general public.

“No general increase in cancer mortality was found in counties in the United States with or near nuclear electricity generating plants,” the study said. “Unlike some studies reported from the United Kingdom, no excess incidence of leukemia was found in children who lived near reprocessing and weapons plants.”

Still, the study is 22 years old, and will be updated with this new study. The study “first will examine multiple cancer types in populations living near the facilities (and then) will be a case-control study of cancers in children born near the facilities,” according to a NRC press release.

The study is being done by following a recommendation by the National Academy of Sciences, and will be done by the academy per NRC request.

Waste of Money?

According to the Associated Press, the NRC reported that the most radiation that a nearby resident could be exposed to is generally less than 1 percent of what the average American receives in a year from all sources. Additionally, the NRC requires power plants to monitor radiation and issue reports to the public on radiation levels.

Some say the study will be a waste of money. The Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group, is opposing the study because it said radiation is constantly tested and there is no scientific reason to do the study, according to the AP.

"In our view, the report recommends an epidemiological study that will likely involve an outlay of significant resources without much expectation for a meaningful outcome in regard to advancing the scientific understanding of potential risks," Ralph L. Andersen, a senior director at the institute, told the AP.

Aside from Millstone, the other sites being studied are Dresdon Nuclear Power Plant in Illinois, Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey, Haddam Neck’s decommissioned plant in Connecticut, the decommissioned Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant in Michigan, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in California and Nuclear Fuel Services in Tennessee.

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