Group says nuclear plant is killing you

By: Diane Cho Email
By: Diane Cho Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, June 20, 2007

BURKE CTY, Ga.---The number of people dying from cancer in Burke County is on the rise, and one group says a nuclear plant may be to blame.

A new study released by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League shows the number of people dying of cancer in Burke County has shot up 25%, while the rest of country's cancer rate was on the decline.

"If I lived in this county I'd want to know why these numbers are increasing," said Louis Zeller with Blue Ridge.

The study is a side by side comparison of before and after Plant Vogtle opened up two nuclear reactors in the Waynesboro area. It finds that since the plant began its operation, the levels of radioactivity in the environment shot up across the board.

Georgia Power spokeswoman Carol Boatright says the governmental agency regulating them has never raised this issue before. "If there were concerns of strong evidence the plants were producing a problem for the residents I'm sure we'd hear about it by now," she said.

But the most startling statistic is the change in infant mortality. In Burke County the number of infant deaths increased 70% compared to the other surrounding counties in the CSRA. But even the backers of the study admit waste from other plants could be contributing to the problem.

"It's like a crime being committed, but too many suspects to find out for certain what the source of the problem might be," said Zeller.

The organization launched the study in December after the Southern Company announced plans last year to expand their existing two nuclear reactors by creating two more. It's a move some in the community say needs to be stopped. "I think you need to start looking at people over profits at some point," said resident Judy Stocker.

The league plans to present the findings to the Department of Health as well as the Public Service Commission in the next few months. They've filed a lawsuit to block the plant from getting a permit to allow further expansion in the area.

Georgia Power says they will review the findings presented today. The company has also offered the following documents in rebuttal:

Blue Ridge Study Response

Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear Operating Company's response to the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League Study of the effects of Plant Vogtle on Burke County residents.

Cancer Incidence Report

The Medical University of South Carolina and Emory University's study of cancer rates in the Savannah River Region from 1991 through 1995, indicating that cancer rates in the area were the same or lower than those of other areas.

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  • by Nancy Location: Warrenton GA on Feb 15, 2008 at 01:24 PM
    I worked at plant Vogtle for 7 yrs in safety and it was always a priority. I have not developed any illness associated with this work and that was 20 yrs ago.
  • by Angela Location: Burke County on Jul 19, 2007 at 05:48 AM
    Burke County is a very low income area. Have any of you ever stoped to think that people in this county have a higher cancer rate because of the much greater accessability to better health care in recent years. Lets not forget that burke county would not be what it is today without Vogtle. With it can jobs, people, greater income and revenues from taxes. Sure it is something that should be looked at, but always remember the whole picture not just the part you want to see. What is "a normal rate of cancer" anyway? If we all knew that we could just avoid the NORMAL!
  • by Donald Location: Athens on Jul 6, 2007 at 01:48 PM
    The Mangano study does have hard data on cancer mortality before and after construction of Plant Vogtle. The Georgia Power response demonstrates that they have yet to digest and craft a specific response to these data. Their attack on Dr. Mangano's professional reputation is beside the point.
  • by Doug Location: Stapleton on Jun 26, 2007 at 06:46 PM
    I agree with the issue that people in parts of Burke, Jefferson, Warren, and South McDuffie Counties are being exposed to "something" that is causing a higher rate than normal for cancer. I've heard people in the area talking about this problem for several years.
  • by Wayne Location: Southeast on Jun 21, 2007 at 02:55 PM
    The truth behind the "study" is that it's a sham. It's authored by Joseph Mangano, who has made similar claims around the country. In all, eight state departments of health have investigated Mangano's claims, and all eight states (Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan) refused to validate them. Here's what the New Jersey Commission on Radiation Protection had to say about Mangano's research: The Commission is of the opinion that "Radioactive Strontium-90 in Baby Teeth of New Jersey Children and the Link with Cancer: A Special Report," is a flawed report, with substantial errors in methodology and invalid statistics. As a result, any information gathered through this project would not stand up to the scrutiny of the scientific community. There is also no evidence to support the allegation that the State of New Jersey has a problem with the release of Sr-90 into the environment from nuclear generating plants: more than 30 years of environmental monitoring data refute this. Mangano's Modus Operandi is as follows: Pop around the country making outrageous claims, and get out of town before anyone has a chance to double check his work. If a reporter would have checked his work, they would have found it to be flawed. And let's think about it. If radiation were a problem in the area, don't you think workers at the plant would be dying off left and right? Remember, they're the ones who work the closest with radiation everyday and they're fine.
  • by Andres Location: Atlanta on Jun 21, 2007 at 06:58 AM
    Only in America are these groups so fast to blame nuclear power without proof.In France 80% of their power comes for nuclear power and they have the lowest cancer and infant mortality in europe (much better than in the states).
  • by Steve on Jun 20, 2007 at 06:59 PM
    This is crazy...i work at the plant, and these so called findings are not true. If people only knew how many people we always have looking at us to NOT let any of this happen, then maybe they would understand. There are corporations like the NRC that people dont even know about....the NRC makes sure that something like what these people are saying doesnt happen....and if it did, we would be shut down immediately. Our #1 focus at the plant is nuclear safety...that means that in the event of an emergency, we do whatever it is possible to PROTECT the surrounding area...not destroy it. These people really need to get their facts in order and possibly do a little bit of research before they make a judgement of the plant!
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