Here’s a story I doubt we’ll see on the evening news:
In June 1989, the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant in Sacramento, CA closed for good. A study to be published shortly in the journal Biomedical International reports good news — for the citizens of Sacramento County:
Since the late 1980s, cancer incidence in Sacramento County has declined for 28 of 31 categories (genders, races, types of cancer); 14 of these declines are statistically significant and two others borderline significant. The estimated reduction in cancer cases in the county over a 20-year period is 4,319.
The most impressive declines in cancer were seen in women, children, and Hispanics, with breast and thryoid cancers leading the way.
There is ample opportunity for more study on this. After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed the Fukushima reactors, Japan only has 2 (out of 54) reactors still operating. Germany, Belgium, France, and Switzerland are scheduled to phase out many of their nuclear reactors over the next 10-20 years. This should be an easy study to replicate in these countries.
Nuclear energy is not the only source of exposure to radiation. Humans are constantly exposed to some (low) level of naturally occurring radiation. But the authors of the study cite many studies in the past showing harm with additional exposure from other sources. In southwestern Pennsylvania — “ground zero” in the Marcellus Shale natural gas play — there is growing concern regarding high levels of radiation in fracking fluid as it returns back to the surface after huge volumes are injected deep into the ground. Unfortunately, there are very few scientists and epidemiologists who are studying the hazards of unconventional natural gas extraction while it’s being done. We’ll only know the effects of what we’ve done after the gas is all gone and the wells are silent. And then what?
Read study here.