Cancer and Nuclear Workers

October 24th, 2007 - by admin

Joe Mangano / FUSE USA – 2007-10-24 23:28:08

Cancer and Nuclear Workers
Joe Mangano / FUSE USA

(October 19, 2007) — Workers at nuclear weapons plants were federal employees, and their health records (minus personal identifiers) are publicly available. But after Dr. Tom Mancuso and Dr. Alice Stewart published a paper in 1976 stating that Hanford workers had higher-than-average cancer rates, the government withheld the records.

Lawsuits followed, and the government only relented in 1990 (after the Cold War ended).

In 2000, DOE issued a report on a series of studies of worker health, concluding that cancer rates were higher. Congress passed a law later that year allowing workers with a variety of cancers to be compensatedalthough the progress has been very slow since then.

Workers at nuclear power plants are different, as they work for private companies, who are under no obligation to share health records or records of exposure (all employees wear badges measuring radiation exposure each day). As a result, there have been virtually no studies on this topic.

There was one for the Calvert Cliffs plant in Maryland years ago, but it was small and inconclusive. I know of one for Canadian workers that was in a journal a few years ago, but again, that found nothing.

Truly, I don’t know of anything we can do to force the release of these records.

Joe Mangano is the Executive Director or the Radiation and Public Health Project and a member of the Advisory Board of FUSE USA.

40 Years of the International Atomic Energy Agency
40 Years of Nuclear Disasters

Greenpeace’s Guide to Nuclear Disasters

In October 1997, the IAEA is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. It is celebrating the fact that it has spent 40 years encouraging the global spread of nuclear technology. At the time of the IAEA’s establishment many thought that nuclear power would become the technology of the future. On the opening day of the first Conference it was stated that the agency would “prepare the way by which the new and limitless power sources of atomic transformation can be made-available” 1.

While others talked about atomic power being “transformed from a symbol of fear into a source of richer, healthier, happier lives”. These euphoric statements are a painful reminder of the ignorance and naivety that existed 40 years ago surrounding nuclear power.

The early pioneers of nuclear technology have since been proven wrong time and time again. Nuclear power is an abject failure, it is uneconomic, dirty and dangerous. This calendar illustrates just one reason why nuclear power should be scrappedthe danger of accidents.

Many people remember the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine in 1986, which spread radioactive contamination across Europe, and the panic following the near disaster at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in the United States. However, these are just two of the thousands of accidents which have occurred since the IAEA began 40 years ago.

In fact, this calendar shows that every day is an anniversary of an accident or incident involving nuclear energy. As a result of these accidents thousands have died, or will die in the future, and millions of people have been contaminated. But as strange as it may seem, we have been lucky and on only a few occasions have we been shown the true consequences of trying to control atomic power. We must learn from our mistakes and accelerate towards ending the nuclear age.

Many countries have now turned their back on nuclear power. In fact, 14 out of the 15 European Union countries, either do not have any nuclear reactors, intend to phase out nuclear power, or have no plans to build new reactors in the foreseeable future. While in the United States, it has been 19 years since a nuclear reactor has been ordered, and Canada announced the closure of seven of its reactors for safety reasons in August 1997.

However the IAEA continues to try to promote this outdated and dangerous technology, particularly to newly industrialising and developing nations, claiming it will solve all their energy needs. It will not. The few countries that continue to invest in nuclear power, with its environmental and economic problems, will find themselves increasingly disadvantaged by being saddled with such a dangerous financial burden.

This calendar portrays some of the damage inflicted by nuclear power on communities around the world. The IAEA should not be celebrating, it should be commiserating on the failure of nuclear power and the damage it has inflicted on humanity. The only way forward from here is to phase out nuclear power completely and to implement clean and sustainable renewable energy technologies.

Go to the Greenpeace Calendar page, click on any month of any year and you’ll find hundreds of jaw-dropping incidents where nuclear transport has resulted in spills, and when nuclear powerplants have malfunctioned, melted down, or leaked radiation over downwind residents. Adjust the year field, to see a calendar for any year. With ‘Big Pictures’ selected, graphics representing the month will be displayed, else thumbnail previews will be displayed.