High cancer rates near Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant
March 4, 2014
A report by the World Business Academy that details negative health trends in the area surrounding the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County was released Monday.
Stephen W. Hosea, MD, the associate director of Internal Medicine Education at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, concluded after reading the report that those living near Diablo have higher cancer risks.
“The data contained in this report support a remarkable predisposition of persons living within a 15 mile radius of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant to have a significantly increased incidence of various cancers, including thyroid, breast and melanoma,” Hosea said. “Exposure to radiation is well known to result in an increased risk of developing cancer. Until an alternative plausible explanation is provided, the overwhelmingly logical conclusion must be that the exposure to radiation as a direct consequence of living within a 15 mile radius of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant results in an increased risk of developing cancer.”
The report listed the following major findings about local health patterns:
1. Since the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant opened in the mid-1980s, San Luis Obispo County has changed from a relatively low-cancer to a high-cancer county.
2. Due to increases in the San Luis Obispo County cancer rate during 2001-2010, an additional 738 people were diagnosed with cancer.
3. Cancer incidence in San Luis Obispo County rose from 0.4 percent below to 6.9 percent above the average for the state of California during the time period of 1988-1990 to 2003-2010. The current cancer rate is the highest of all 20 counties in southern California.
4. After Diablo Canyon began operating, significant rapid increases occurred for the incidence of thyroid and female breast cancer in San Luis Obispo County, both highly radiosensitive cancers.
5. After Diablo Canyon began operating, infant mortality in San Luis Obispo County rose significantly.
6. After Diablo Canyon began operating, child/adolescent cancer mortality in the county rose rapidly.
7. Melanoma incidence in San Luis Obispo County soared from 3.6 percent above to 130.2 percent above the state incidence rate during the period from 1988-1990 to 2003-2010, and is now the highest of all California counties.
8. Cancer mortality for people of all ages in San Luis Obispo County rose from 5.1 percent below to 1.4 percent above California from 1988-1990 to 2008-2010, making SLO the 25th highest county in the state (up from 43rd highest).
9. The ratio of babies born at very low-weight (below 3 pounds, 4 ounces) rose 45.0 percent higher in the nine San Luis Obispo County zip codes closest to Diablo Canyon, versus the other more distant 10 county zip codes.
10. The ratio of all-cause mortality rose 47.9 percent higher in the nine San Luis Obispo County zip codes closest to Diablo Canyon, versus the other more distant 10 county zip codes.
11. In the 10 zip code areas in Santa Barbara County closest to Diablo Canyon, there was a greater rise in the rates of infant mortality (61.7 percent), low weight births (40.2 percent) and total mortality (19.1 percent), than in the five zip codes areas in the city of Santa Barbara, located approximately 90 miles from the reactors.
12. The major findings of this report show increases in various rates of disease and death in San Luis Obispo County, as compared to the state of California, since the 1980s (before plant start up and during its early years of operation). This includes increases in infant mortality, child/adolescent cancer mortality, cancer incidence for all ages (especially thyroid, female breast, and melanoma), and cancer mortality for all ages.
Conclusions and Recommendations:
While many factors can affect disease and death rates, the official public health data presented in this report suggest a probable link between the routine, federally-permitted emissions of radioactivity from the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and elevated health risks among those infants, children and adults living closest to the reactors.
These findings strongly suggest that federally-permitted radiation releases pose a health risk to the public, especially to people living near Diablo Canyon in California.
These data also correspond with earlier studies showing significant declines in local disease and death rates after the shutdown of the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant in Sacramento County in 1989.