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Dueling Quotes And Arguments Re: Possible Diablo Canyon Plant Health Effects
by John Thielking
Wednesday Apr 16th, 2014 10:53 AM
A scathing rebuttal of a recent report that seemed to link the operation of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant to health problems in San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County is presented (and disputed).

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I finally had a chance to read the entire report put out in March 2014 by Joseph Mangano titled: "Report On Health Status Of Residents In San Luis Obispo And Santa Barbara Counties Living Near The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Reactors Located In Avila Beach, CA". The landing page and links to the full report and rebuttals are located here:

While I am not an epidemiologist by any stretch of the imagination, I did find the rebuttal to this report that was put out by the San Luis Obispo County Health Dept to be compelling. See the attached file to this article to read their report. Basically, they conclude that Mangano cherry picked data sets (arbitrarily excluded or included various SLO zip codes inappropriately) and failed to use standard epidemiological procedures including taking into account the mitigating effects on the results due to the differences in race/ethnicity between the population of SLO and the State of CA as a whole.

Despite those faults in the Mangano report, I believe that the discussion about the health effects of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant continues to be an important discussion to have. In particular, I decided to examine in some detail the claim presented by the SLO County authors that cancer rates in CA have been declining and so we should pooh pooh any claims about cancer being related to radiation exposure. A Google search using the terms "cancer rates decreasing in CA" returns a bunch of articles that support that position. A Google search using the terms "cancer rates increasing in CA" returns a few articles with the words "increasing" in the titles. Of particular interest is that two of the articles: ("Increase In Childhood Cancer A Puzzle") ("Thyroid Cancer Incidence Is Rising")

discuss the fact that while overall cancer rates in CA are indeed declining due to the vast numbers of people who are quitting smoking, there are increases in cancers that could be due to nuclear reactors operating normally. (See the Mangano report for some data on how much Iodine 131 has been released by Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.) These cancers that are increasing include childhood Leukemia and child and adult Thyroid cancers. Note that the publication date of the Thyroid cancer article is hard to determine, but there is a "Copyright 2011" notice in fine print at the bottom of the page. Any thyroid cancers in CA in 2011 are not likely to be due to Fukushima, but since a normally operating nuclear reactor also emits Iodine 131, the increase in Thyroid cancers could be due to any number of nuclear reactors, including San Onofre in San Diego. It may be difficult to make a study that looks only at Leukemia and Thyroid cancer that has statistically significant results for just SLO county since the rates for those cancers are so low. But that shouldn't stop us from attempting to make the argument that radiation from nuclear power plants can be dangerous.

My conclusions after reading both reports include: There are liars (as in "Figures don't lie but liars can sure figure") on both sides of this controversy. We should still work to shut down as many nuclear reactors as we can, preferably all of them.

Nuclear power is not even a solution to CO2 emissions/global warming. According to this article:

a certain amount of CO2 emissions are always associated with the production of nuclear fission power. At current Uranium consumption rates, there are a few decades left before the ore available from mines will be such a low grade that the CO2 emissions of nuclear power will be equivalent to the emissions from a natural gas fired power plant, when the emissions due to fuel mining and processing are included in the analysis. If everyone did like the French do and had their countries' electricity mostly produced from nuclear power, we would run out of uranium ore in a heartbeat. So that's no solution. Sorry. Support wind and solar instead. Recent figures suggest that more than 90% of the growth in electricity generating capacity in CA and the US has been in renewables such as wind and solar.
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