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NRC Sponsors Cancer Risk Study

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff is implementing a National Academy of Sciences committee’s recommendations to perform a pilot study of cancer risk in populations around six U.S. nuclear power plant sites and a nuclear fuel facility.

The NRC is asking the Academy to carry out this effort, which will help the agency determine whether to extend the study to the remaining U.S. reactor and certain fuel cycle sites.

The pilot effort will examine each of the seven sites with two types of epidemiological studies. The first will examine multiple cancer types in populations living near the facilities; the second will be a case-control study of cancers in children born near the facilities. The six reactor sites are: Dresden Nuclear Power Station, Morris, Ill. Millstone Power Station, Waterford, Conn. Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, Forked River, N.J. Haddam Neck (decommissioned), Haddam Neck, Conn. Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant (decommissioned), Charlevoix, Mich. San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, San Clemente, Calif.

The Dresden, Millstone and San Onofre sites include both operating reactors and a decommissioned reactor. The pilot effort will also study Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin, Tenn. The Academy recommended these sites because they provide a good sampling of facilities with different operating histories, population sizes, and levels of complexity in data retrieval from the relevant state cancer registries.

The NRC will work with the Academy to begin the pilot study process in the next three months. The NRC staff expects the effort will continue at least into 2014 and cost approximately $2 million. The Academy will work with interested parties near the sites prior to gathering information and beginning the necessary analyses.

The NRC/Academy effort’s overall aim is to provide a modern version of the 1990 U.S. National Institutes of Health – National Cancer Institute (NCI) report, “Cancer in Populations Living Near Nuclear Facilities.” The NRC has used the 1990 NCI report as a primary resource when communicating with the public about cancer mortality risk in counties that contain or are adjacent to certain nuclear power facilities.

In Phase 1 of the study, the Academy developed proposed methods for examining the most up-to-date cancer information in populations living near NRC-licensed nuclear facilities. The pilot studies will determine the feasibility of using these methods on the balance of the remaining operating nuclear power facilities and certain fuel cycle facilities in phase 2 of the project.

Paula Barrett October 24, 2012 at 02:40 AM
I wish they'd do a study at Entergy in Plymouth. I feel there are way too many cancer cases in my neighborhood, Priscilla Beach. The problem is many of the people who have cancer would not show up on statistics for Plymouth because half of our population are summer residents and live somewhere else most of the year.

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