Nuclear Regulators Ask For Scientific Study of Cancer Rates Near Nuke Plants

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has asked the National Academy of Sciences to update its first study on the risk of cancer for people who live near nuclear power plants.

The updated study would look at cancer rates around the Nine Mile Point nuclear plants, as well as cancer rates at every other nuclear facility in the country.

The two agencies will discuss a potential second study April 26.

“We’re pleased the Academy is interested in taking on this important study,” said Brian Sheron, Director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, in a news release. “Their broad range of medical and scientific experts can give us the best available analysis of the complex issues involved in discussing cancer risk and commercial nuclear power plants.”

The first study found no link between living near a nuclear plant and deaths from cancer.  However, the first study did not look at cancer diagnosis rates but only at cancer death rates.

From the press release:

The NAS is a non-governmental organization chartered by the U.S. Congress to advise the nation on issues of science, technology, and medicine. Through the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, it carries out studies independently of the government using processes designed to promote transparency, objectivity, and technical rigor. More information on its methods for performing studies is available at

The NRC is seeking the expertise of the NAS to update the 1990 U.S. National Institutes of Health – National Cancer Institute (NCI) report, “Cancer in Populations Living Near Nuclear Facilities” ( The staff uses the NCI report as a primary resource when communicating with the public about cancer mortality risk in counties that contain or are adjacent to nuclear power facilities. In the new study, the NRC is also interested in having the NAS evaluate cancer diagnosis rates, as well as exploring how to divide the study areas around the facilities into geographical units smaller than the counties used in the NCI report.

The NCI report studied more than 900,000 cancer deaths from 1950–1984, using mortality records collected from counties that contain nuclear facilities. The researchers evaluated changes in mortality rates for 16 types of cancer in these counties from 1950 until each facility began operation, up until 1982. Cancer diagnosis information was only available for four facilities located in Iowa and Connecticut, due to the lack of this type of data being collected. The NCI report showed no increased risk of death from cancer for people living in the 107 U.S. counties containing or closely adjacent to 62 nuclear facilities, including all of the nuclear power reactors operational before 1982.

1 Comment

  1. I worked at one of the nine mile nuclear plants for 8 years and lived within the 10 mile EPZ for 15 years. I have suffered from testicular cancer and had radical surgery; I had Stage 4 seminoma that almost killed me; and have had male breast cancer with surgery as well.

    I am not suggesting anything, just stating some “stuff.” It will be interesting to me to see what the NRC decides to do.

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