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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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I have another thought on this whole discussion. If you take the possible effects of net CO2 emissions that would occur if the world switched over to 100% organic agriculture, this whole discussion about which energy sources to use for generating electricity could be seen as a distraction from the real issue. For a discussion of this issue I invite you to view Thom Hartmann's latest episode of The Big Picture, available on Youtube here:

According to the person he interviewed on that episode, if we switched to 100% organic agriculture, we would end up sequestering 100% of a year's emissions of CO2. Since the USDA standard for switching from labeling your crop from conventional to "organic" is to let your fields lie fallow for 3 years without applying pesticides, the maximum length of time this should take to accomplish, if we get cracking now everywhere, is only 3 years.

John Thielking
by John Thielking
Tuesday Apr 29th, 2014 8:24 PM
A quick note about my previous comment regarding the Thom Hartmann Big Picture show where Tom Newmark makes incredible claims regarding the possible carbon sequestration in soils:

My investigations so far yield possible numbers for the Mean Residence Time of carbon in soil that are all over the place. The EPA claims in their paper on composting that the MRT is essentially zero (~5 years) at least for the top layer of soil, while one of the references in the www, white paper claims MRT is 35 years, while still another source is making offhand references in the abstract to greater or lesser MRT's that vary by hundreds of years. So in my view the jury is still out (possibly way out) on weather this carbon sequestration in soils concept will make a significant difference for the lives of humans on the planet Earth in the next 30-100-200 years. I'm not sure if in the end my limited knowledge will allow me to get my head around this concept without some better input from someone who at least has some formal training in biology. I sent an e-mail to Steven Argue @steveargue2, but so far no response. Good luck!
by John Thielking
(pagesincolor [at] Tuesday Apr 29th, 2014 8:29 PM
If anyone wants to e-mail me offline about this, send e-mail to pagesincolor [at] Thanks.