Three mile island cancer rates not higher than normal
Physicist Edward Teller remains the lone identified casualty of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident. The father of the H-Bomb had a heart attack (from which he recovered) following the March 1979 accident at the Pennsylvania power plant due to the stress of combating all the misinformation put out by nuclear power opponents and the news media. The study of over 23,000 people living within a five-mile radius of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant found "no consistent evidence that radioactivity released during the nuclear accident has had a significant impact on the overall mortality of these residents."
Now a 20-year follow-up study of the "worst nuclear accident in American history" in which no one died and no one was injured finds that there has been no significant increase in deaths from cancer among residents near the site.
Researchers looked at causes of death from heart disease and cancers, including those known to be sensitive to radiation effects such as bronchial, breast, blood and central nervous system cancers.
Researchers believe that their 20-year study is important because cancers that take years to develop would have done so in this time.
Previous studies have suggested that even low-level doses of radiation have produced genetic damage in the children of exposed people but scientists have calculated that people near Three Mile Island at the time were on average exposed to considerably less than the annual background radiation experienced by a U.S. resident.
In comparison, Teller says that the radiation released at the Soviet Chernobyl plant was "millions of times greater."
Source: Gaia Vince, Three Mile Island Cancer Rates 'Normal,' New Scientist News Services, November 1, 2002; Forthcoming, Environmental Health Perspectives, March 2003.
For text http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992997
For Teller interview http://www.llnl.gov/llnl/history/teller.html
For more on Nuclear Energy http://www.ncpa.org/iss/ene/
FMF Policy Bulletin \7 November 2002
Publish date: 13 November 2002
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.