[ RadSafe ] Nuke meltdown may have caused cancers
sandyfl at earthlink.net
Sat Oct 7 08:04:30 CDT 2006
Nuke meltdown may have caused cancers
LOS ANGELES (AP) Oct 5 - A 1959 nuclear reactor meltdown at the Santa
Susana Field Laboratory may have caused hundreds of cases of cancer
in the community, and chemicals threaten to contaminate ground and
water, according to a report released Thursday.
The report by an independent advisory panel estimated it was likely
that radiation released during the meltdown caused about 260 cases of
cancer within a 60-square-mile area around the reactor.
The lab's former owner, Rocketdyne, has said for years that no
significant radiation was released. But the independent advisory
panel said the incident released nearly 459 times more radiation than
a similar one at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island in 1979.
"People have been asking for 20 years what was the impact of the
meltdown, and now they will at least have an approximation of how
many people may have been hurt," said Dan Hirsch, co-chairman of the
Santa Susana Field Laboratory Advisory Panel.
The panel of experts from around the country was formed by
legislators in the early 1990s who responded to residents' calls for
independent health studies of the site.
The 4.5-square-mile site about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los
Angeles was used for nuclear research for four decades beginning in
the 1940s. Rocket engines also were tested there.
A Rocketdyne spokesman said the company, now known as Pratt & Whitney
Rocketdyne, no longer owns the lab site and referred questions to the
current owner, Boeing Co.
Blythe Jameson, spokeswoman for Boeing, disputed that there was a
threat, calling the site safe.
The Energy Department, Boeing and the state have been involved in
efforts to decontaminate the site. The state has estimated that more
than 1.73 million gallons of toxic trichloroethylene was dumped on
the grounds and that 500,000 gallons have saturated the bedrock
beneath the lab.
The panel concluded local soil and groundwater also may have been
contaminated. The rocket fuel additive perchlorate has been found in
a well, but Boeing has disputed assertions it came from the lab. Long-
term exposure to high levels of perchlorate can cause thyroid
In 1999, the federal Agencies for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry concluded people in the area were not being exposed to
levels of chemicals or radiation that impact their health, and three
other studies failed to find any evidence of increased cancer rates,
Boeing, however, agreed last year to pay $30 million to settle a
lawsuit alleging that pollutants from the site caused nearby
residents to get cancer.
The panel's conclusion contradicts several previous studies that
found there wasn't a radiological issue, said Mike Lopez, project
manager for the Energy Department's cleanup efforts at the site. The
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reviewed the site in 2003 and
concluded there was no risk, Lopez said.
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