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LaForge writes: "French researchers have confirmed that childhood leukemia rates are shockingly elevated among children living near nuclear power reactors."

File photo: The nuclear power plant in Belleville sur Loire, France, 01/21/08. (photo: Herve Lenain/Corbis)
File photo: The nuclear power plant in Belleville sur Loire, France, 01/21/08. (photo: Herve Lenain/Corbis)

Childhood Leukemia Spikes Near Nuclear Power Plants

By John LaForge, CounterPunch

28 January 12


rench researchers have confirmed that childhood leukemia rates are shockingly elevated among children living near nuclear power reactors.

The "International Journal of Cancer" has published in January a scientific study establishing a clear correlation between the frequency of acute childhood leukemia and proximity to nuclear power stations. The paper is titled, "Childhood leukemia around French nuclear power plants - the Geocap study, 2002-2007."

This devastating report promises to do for France what a set of 2008 reports did for Germany - which recently legislated a total phase-out of all its power reactors by 2022 (sooner if the Greens get their way).

The French epidemiology - conducted by a team from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, or INSERM, the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire, or IRSN, and the National Register of hematological diseases of children in Villejuif, outside Paris - demonstrates during the period from 2002-2007 in France the doubling of childhood leukemia incidence: the increase is up to 2.2 among children under age five.

The researchers note that they found no mechanistic proof of cause and effect, but could identify no other environmental factor that could produce the excess cancers.

Without getting overly technical, the case-control study included the 2,753 cases of acute leukemia diagnosed in mainland France over 2002-2007, and 30,000 contemporaneous population "controls." The children's last addresses were geo-coded and located around France's 19 nuclear power stations, which operate 54 separate reactors. The study used distance to the reactors and a dose-based geographic zoning, based on the estimated dose to bone marrow related to the reactors' gaseous discharges.

All operating reactors routinely spew radioactive gases like xenon, krypton and the radioactive form of hydrogen known as tritium. These gases are allowed to be released under licenses issued by federal government agencies. Allowable limits on these radioactive poisons were suggested to governments and regulatory agencies by the giant utilities that own the reactors and by reactor operators themselves. This is because their reactors can't even function without regularly releasing radioactive liquids and gases, releases required to control pressure, temperature and vibrations inside the gigantic systems. (See: "Routine Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants in the United States: What Are the Dangers?" from, 2009)

In Germany, results of the 2008 KiKK studies - a German acronym for Childhood Cancer in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants - were published in both the International Journal of Cancer (Vol. 122) and the European Journal of Cancer (Vol. 44). These 25-year-long studies found higher incidences of cancers and a stronger association with reactor installations than all previous reports. The main findings were a 60 percent increase in solid cancers and a 117 percent increase in leukemia among young children living near all 16 large German nuclear facilities between 1980 and 2003. These shocking studies - along with persistent radioactive contamination of Germany from the Chernobyl catastrophe - are largely responsible for depth and breadth of anti-nuclear public opinion all across Germany.

Similar leukemia spikes have been found around U.S. reactors (European Journal of Cancer Care, Vol. 16, 2007). Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina analyzed 17 research papers covering 136 reactor sites in the UK, Canada, France, the U.S., Germany, Japan and Spain. The incidence of leukemia in children under age 9 living close to the sites showed an increase of 14 to 21 percent, while death rates from the disease were raised by 5 to 24 percent, depending on their proximity to the nuclear facilities.

When the U.S. public owns up to the dangers of nuclear power, we too can get around to its replacement and phase-out.

John LaForge has worked on the staff of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, since 1992 and edits its quarterly newsletter. your social media marketing partner


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+35 # tedrey 2012-01-28 23:22
The nuclear industry has not carried out or called for the collection of any such data on unpleasant effects near our nuclear power plants.
Remember that when the industry states, as they surely will, that "there is no evidence of any bad effects, etc."

Because they never look for what they don't want to find. And they don't give a damn about your health or your children's.
+8 # barkingcarpet 2012-01-29 01:14
Really? How can this be?

We need to CONSERVE, and learn to share. There are in fact limits on this finite planet. Humans can make ZERO assurances of continued containment or safekeeping of radioactive wastes., period, and believing that we can, or will, is arrogantly hubristic and short sighted. Systems ALWAYS screw up, for various reasons. All we are doing is changing the natural systems which support our, and all other life, to the point where other life will continue, but not necessarily ours. We take and take and consume, and reduce everything to a $ value, leaving behind toxic wastes and destruction where living environments once were.... Our system is nothing more than a pyramid scheme benefiting whoever stole the land first. Ultimately, the earth does not belong to us, and we ARE terrible stewards. Shame on us, really.
0 # Lowflyin Lolana 2012-02-08 00:14
A pyrimid scheme..I like that.
Of all the species we are the ones taking more than we return. Other species live cleanly, leaving little destruction behind. And yet we believe we humans are more "intelligent" than other species, and our holy books say things like "And God gave Man dominion over Animals."
Humility, conservation, and respect --when will our culture reflect these things towards our world, our home? Ever? Never?
+13 # ericlane 2012-01-29 04:48
What can we expect from an industry that was born in secrecy and grew up on deceit?
+6 # wsh 2012-01-29 07:38
"I'm shocked. SHOCKED to find a correlation between radiation and cancer!" ~~ Louie, Director Generale of the Casablanca Nuclear Power Plant.
+4 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-01-29 10:46
I note that Childhood Leukemia was considered an exceedingly rare disease until the late 1950's, when there was a horrifying epidemic, esp. in the USA. This was directly traced to atmospheric atomic testing & led just as directly to the demise of that technology. What a hard choice, though: nuclear electricity or live kids. & what price Alternate energy now?
+7 # Douglas Jack 2012-01-29 11:04
Thank you French epidemiology researchers for standing up to the nuclear owned 'funding' bullies in the mainstream medical establishment, undertaking these studies and publishing them. These studies are only the tip of the iceberg for the catastrophe nuclear bullies have created. Radio-active aggression to human genetic integrity is only symptomatic of an overall consumption for frivolous purposes. As pawns in someone else's ill-conceived control of supposed scarcity game, we're addicted to material and energy distractions to dull our unbalanced / dissatisfied 'exogenous' (Latin = 'other-generate d') living. Recapturing control of our lives is to look inside where our upbringing and culture deny and alienate our attention from the wisdom of our 'indigenous' (L = 'self-generatin g') selves and ancestors.
+1 # CaptD 2012-01-31 11:06
Well said!
You might like this link:
Paul Langley has a great site!
+1 # Douglas Jack 2012-01-29 11:42
Kootenay Coyote, There is no hard choice, only truth and integrity to discover. There are abundant untapped sources of linear energy and material flows all around us in the built environment making the unintended consequences of nuclear's unstable elements totally unnecessary . Throughout our cities present poor linear design of sewage systems when brought full cycle into methane, geothermal and fertilizer can provide 20% of urban gas and electrical needs at the same time cleaning up our rivers and water tables. Adding compostable materials adds another 10% of energy and material needs. Capturing kinetic (without dams) hydro electricity by mounting linear axis helical water turbines plus linear axis helical wind turbines above the water line on city bridge pylons can provide 20% of most city energy at the same time mitigating the unnecessary concentrations of water and wind force around the pylons. Linear axis wind turbines mounted on city buildings will not only supply 20% of electrical needs but as well create calmed wind on rooftops and in streets for better human and wildlife habitation. Replanting the food and material trees which First Nations originally left us mitigates both winter and summer heat, cleans water systems, detoxifies earth, captures wind, feeds and clothes us undoing extremes to provide 20% of energy needs.
+4 # tedrey 2012-01-29 12:52
Following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the American government set up the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in Japan, to study the effects of the bombs on the exposed population. My father, Dr. Earle L. Reynolds, was chosen to head up the section dealing with the effects on the children (born and not-yet-born.)
After several years, he presented ABCC with a report, documenting the increased incidence among the exposed children of numerous undesirable effects, from cataracts to general growth rate, and definitely including leukemia.
He then retired from ABCC, among other reasons, because although they were diligent in questioning and examining the survivors, they devoted not a single dollar or hour to trying to treat or cure them, which my father thought rather cold-blooded.
Some years later, troubled by frequent statements by the ABCC and the American government to the effect that “there is no evidence for adverse effects from radiation,” Dr. Reynolds requested a copy of his own original report. He then found out, for the first time, that it had never been released; that in fact, it had been immediately had a security level stamped on it so high that my father himself could not look at it!
+1 # CaptD 2012-01-31 11:03
Great comment!
Hope you will consider posting on HuffingtonPost on all things nuclear and or Japan!

Like this one:
+3 # tedrey 2012-01-29 12:58
Somewhat later again, Dr. Reynolds suggested that it would be a good idea to get water samples from the oceans to see what the current proportion of radioactive isotopes might be. Since he was about to cross the northern Pacific in a small boat, he was willing to collect samples for nothing, and deliver them to the ABCC for sampling. The reply was that that was not necessary.
Later, when the ABCC made public announcements that “we have found no evidence that there is any increase of radioactivity in oceanic waters,” my father was not impressed, "Of course they found no evidence," he told me. "They didn't look for it. They didn't want to find it."
+5 # Buzzyquipsis 2012-01-29 22:27
In California, Voters have a Choice.
Save our Children.
Sign the Petition to get the
California Nuclear Initiative on the Ballot this November.
+4 # CaptD 2012-01-31 10:38
It is time to have every reactor complex and or nuclear processing complex pay to have an independant study done to make 100% sure that these "businesses" are not a threat to the locals that live nearby!

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