Reactor cancer study has potential for conflict

In a press release issued today, Beyond Nuclear identified significant potential for conflict of interest in a proposed new study of cancer around U.S. nuclear reactors. The study, initiated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), has been offered to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). However, the chair of the NAS board that would conduct the study is former NRC chair, Richard Meserve. Furthermore, past NAS studies have raised concerns about absence of bias.  The two agencies will meet to discuss the study on April 26th, ironically the 24th anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl reactor explosion that dispersed radiation across the planet. Although the study may be awarded to the NAS, Beyond Nuclear has concerns that the NRC - with a demonstrated bias toward industry priorities - will retain undue influence.


Beyond Nuclear report on leaking reactors finds regulator ignoring oversight

A new report released today by Beyond Nuclear - Leak First, Fix Later: Uncontrolled and Unmonitored Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants - looks at the epidemic of reactors leaking tritium into groundwater. The report finds that the federal regulator – the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission -  is ignoring its oversight and enforcement responsibilities at the nation’s increasingly leaky, uninspected and unmaintained nuclear power plants.  The report shows that despite agency efforts initiated in 1979 to prevent uncontrolled radioactive releases to groundwater, the NRC is capitulating to an industry decision to take almost three more years before announcing an action plan.

Instead of mandating compliance with established license requirements for the control and monitoring of buried pipe systems carrying radioactive effluent, the NRC cedes responsibility to industry voluntary initiatives that will add years onto the resolution of a decades-old environmental and public health issue.

Of further concern, the agency and the industry continue to downplay and trivialize the health risks of prolonged exposure to tritium, a known carcinogen which is shown to cause cancer, genetic mutations and birth defects.

The highly-publicized leaks of radioactive hydrogen – or tritium – from buried pipes at the Braidwood, Oyster Creek and Vermont Yankee nuclear power plants have drawn attention to a more widespread and longstanding problem analyzed by the report. Leaking U.S. reactors are now ubiquitous. There is evidence of 15 radioactive leaks from March 2009 through April 16, 2010 from buried pipe systems at 13 different reactor sites. At least 102 reactor units are now documented to have had recurring radioactive leaks into groundwater from 1963 through February 2009.

The full report, the executive summary and the press release can all be downloaded. We encourage you to reproduce and distribute all three and to forward these documents to others in your community and to send the press release to your media contacts.


Higher birth-defect rate seen in Chernobyl area counters UN reports

Reuters reports that higher-than-normal rates of certain birth defects plague one Ukrainian region affected by fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power reactor explosion. The findings were reported in April’s journal of Pediatrics and counter a 2005 United Nations report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which stated that there was no increase in birth defects. Dr. Wladimir Wertelecki, researcher at the University of Southern Alabama, says that this official conclusion had a “chilling effect” on study of prenatal disease and that these findings show more research is needed into congenital defects, especially in regions of chronic, low-dose radiation.


National grassroots gathering on radioactive waste, Chicago, June 4-6

Beyond Nuclear is a co-sponsor of a national grassroots gathering in Chicago from Friday, June 4th to Sunday, June 6th, which will address the radioactive waste crisis. The gathering will be devoted to challenging President Obama's and Energy Secretary Chu's “Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future." As its name, explicit mandate, and the bias of a majority of its members make clear, the panel ironically appears more devoted to expanding atomic power (and thus generating yet more radioactive waste) than it is to solving the over 50 year old high-level radioactive waste crisis. Please consider attending this event, and spread the word!


US NRC asks National Academy of Sciences to perform a cancer study around nuclear reactors

The NRC announced today that it has asked the NAS to perform a study on cancer risks around nuclear facilities. The study will begin this summer. Citizens' groups have already expressed aggravation that NRC would have control of such health studies since this presents a conflict of interest between NRC's role as both creator and assessor of its own health protection regulations. In their letter, the groups also expressed concern over inadequate study protocols that US government agencies have used in past studies. The division of the NAS slated to conduct this study is the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board (NRSB) which has as its chair, Richard Meserve, a former NRC Chair. NRSB has planned a public meeting for April 26 (ironically, the day Chernobyl exploded) at the NAS in Washington, DC.  A skeletal agenda has been posted. Beyond Nuclear will post further details as they occur.