High cancer rates near Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant

March 4, 2014

diabA 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.


Dr. Hosea is my hero..he saved my daughter’s life yrs. ago but now she lives in SLO city….should I be worried? I have read AG is much less safe than SLO because of wind patterns…how safe in SLO city?


With the current city council, less and less everyday.


One issue which is unclear is where the study draws the boundaries of the where the 15-mile radius of increased cancer risk begins.

The actual nuclear production building complex is accessed by an eight-mile, restricted, fairly straight, two-lane highway, which starts just after the Diablo security kiosk, which is near Fat Cats Cafe.

The communities which are most impacted are, according to the report, within 15-miles of the Diablo Canyon facility, but is that radius started at the actual nuclear-production reactor building complex, or is that radius started at the boundaries of the Diablo Canyon property?

Eight miles is over half of the distance of the 15-mile radius of increased health risk, so where the measurement of that radius begins is important to those who live in the vicinity of Diablo.


This isn’t the first time Joe Mangano has tried to smear the reputation of a nuclear power plant and it won’t be the last. For years, he’s been traveling around the country peddling a noxious combination of fear mongering and junk science in order to grab headlines. But whenever his claims are investigated, they come up empty. In all, eight state departments of health have investigated Mangano’s claims, and all eight states (Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan) refused to validate them.

For a response from both PG&E as well as the Nuclear Energy Institute, go to the following link:


For more on the flaws in his research methodology, see this item NEI published in 2005:


Eric McErlain

Nuclear Energy Institute

Washington, DC


Really? You are not a watchdog,you are a shill.


He is standing up, using his real. Name. You aren’t. That gives him cred, you have none.


abner has the same cred as No_More_Anger no name cred.


Precisely Eric, and more politically based “science” from the green goblins. The same cabal that pedals the nonsense that CO2 reflects heat when it fact it absorbs it.


So you chase Joe Mangano on a free blog as a employee of a lobbing org.

Do you set a new one up for every opponent?

“NEI is governed by a 49-member board of directors. The board includes representatives from the nation’s 26 nuclear utilities, plant designers, architect/engineering firms and fuel cycle companies. ”

“The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) was founded in 1994 from the merger of several nuclear energy industry organizations, the oldest of which was created in 1953.”

“Eric McErlain Founder of NEI Nuclear Notes and head of digital media team at the Nuclear Energy Institute.”

You mean the digital propaganda team.

He does not need too “smear the reputation” of a bad idea, of a not cost effective source of power and a giant money suck out of the pockets of Americans.


Well, the fact that the feels NEI feels threatened by this article is very telling.

You, Eric, are bias nuclear propaganda funded by pro-nuclear dollars. Dance little monkey, dance!

Unless you show me your house right next to a nuclear power plant, where you have been living for 10+ years with kids, then nothing you say gives me confidence.

Build a nuclear power plant next to the Capital and White House.


Thanks for posting Mr. Mcerlain.



This is a screencast of a portion of the map you can find on the last page of the report:



Thank you for reporting on an extremely complex scientific subject. But this concerns me, as Cal Coast News should have done far more rigorous investigative work up front before publishing an article about radiation and Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant without performing an in-depth analysis of the report and how valid it is scientifically.

This just supports typical “fear mongering” that is increasingly becoming more common in American society on many levels, intentionally misleading the American public. This is damaging to America’s future as it deals more and more with technical issues that are rooted deeply in science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM).

From my understanding of the proper way of performing science reporting, and from first-hand discussions with expert Diablo Canyon radiation protection personnel, it is very clear that the study discussed in this article is extremely weak and very misleading, far from being an exhaustive, scientific, peer-reviewed report.

Please always investigate all sides of controversial issues before going to press. This article is another clear example of how the American public just does not have sufficient science education.

This is the same thing that is happening with climate science, with very uninformed deniers and skeptics coming out of the woodwork publicly and embarrassing themselves in demonstrating their ignorance of science and the exhaustive scientific method. The Atascadero City Council’s recent mishandling of its controversial Climate Action Plan was extremely embarrassing for the residents of the city, showing that some city council members, and quite a number of residents, will not open their minds to learning from science. This just perpetuates the Ostrich Syndrome, of people burying their heads in the sand not wanting to acknowledge what is going on in their world or deal with it. Such fear of engagement, learning, understanding and taking meaningful and supportive action is extremely damaging to American society. Our children deserve better from adults and governmental leaders.


So you have no actual science or investigative work to contribute to this and are here to tell us about your journalistic requirements ? No links? No peer reviewed papers showing how safe the Diablo mistake is?

Thinking people know that there is more to the issue than can be conveyed in 800 words.


This is the same thing that is happening with climate science, with very uninformed deniers and skeptics coming out of the woodwork publicly and embarrassing themselves in demonstrating their ignorance of science and the exhaustive scientific method.


That’s this paper’s standard operating procedure. It regularly prints outrageously controversial, one sided pieces and passes them off as they are unbiased fact.

Don’t think so? Watch this post get deleted within half an hour.


ROFLOL — Since when do media outlets conduct scientific reviews (or any exhaustive reviews) on the stuff they re-print?


Also we should note that poverty rates have risen across the country since Diablo was built, therefore nuclear power causes more people to be in poverty. OR how about since Diablo was built the world population has grown, therefore nuclear power causes the population to expand.


Pretty desperate attempt to explain away this study’s findings.


Maybe, but it is an excellent example of cause-and-effect (or how frivolous it can be). I understand people do not want nuclear, and others do – there will always be propaganda on both sides.

Still, to illustrate the silliness of cause-and-effect claims, remind yourself of this: everyone who eats carrots will die. That is absolutely truthful, but highly misleading (people who never eat carrots will also die).

I am still digesting the overly bloated report (yes, I downloaded all 12.8mb of it), and I find the numbers in section V, table 13 disturbing. The report decries that these numbers show that the “county cancer mortality rate (compared to California) rose steadily from -5.1% (late 1980s) to -3.9% (1990s) to -1.2% (2000s), and a spike in 2010 of +5.9% Those are percentages BELOW (negative)/ABOVE (positive) versus overall state rates.

That is, SLO for the most part, was UNDER the average state mortality rate, yet the increase in percent is “statistically significant” – unless you actually look at the numbers provided in the table… that is, the Deaths per 100,000 DECREASED from 1988 through 2010 (the “spike” year mentioned above). Yes, even in the worst year (by this report’s words) of 2010 (+5.9%), there were 163.92 deaths per 100,000 people. MUCH fewer than the 193.20 deaths per 100,000 in 1988-1990.

Seriously, does this person understand numbers and statistics? I’m using THEIR report, with THEIR numbers (from http://www.cancer-rates.info/ca/index.php according to the report), and it shows that the actual number of people DYING from cancer is DROPPING since 1988.

Of course, the actual numbers of deaths is increasing, but they are increasing SLOWER than the population is growing. One has to use the deaths/100,000 figure, not the actual number of deaths, which I think the report uses quite erroneously.

I’ll delve further into it, but I have to admit, my confidence level is pretty low in the headline summaries. So far. I will try to keep an open mind, as I really am on the fence with nuclear (I used to be totally for it, but I have serious reservations now).


So much for property values in Avila, Pismo Grover, Oceano, AG. This study reflect the same issue south of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant. Wind patterns reflect a significant increase in cancer for those living in the direct flow. That study resulted in SDG&E paying tons of money for monitoring devices and cancer treatment centers in the affected areas.


Very Interesting.. Will keep an eye on the outcome of further studies…


It also will probably negatively impact tourist business, certainly in the areas closest to Diablo.


Why blame other sources when such stellar work has been done by one of the top Nuclear

Engineer turned Consultant has been reporting on them all over the world for nearly three years straight, at the cost of his own career. He does this not for profit but for our safety and educa-

tion. Arnie Gundersen via Fairewinds.com or .org. Most of us who read about these power

plants knew that their life span was about over and now many are leaking, as well as blowing off steam, regularly, in the form of nuclear isotopes. Add to that a seismically active and yet

uncharted region, where they directly are built-and don’t forget the well published design flaws that created a backwards or turned-around design. That’s it for me, I’m out of this game. The European Union is done investing – Edward Teller said it was a mistake right after he invented the technology and worked on it- they’re dumping waste now in the sea water-AKA known as my food source for all my fish-Done. I’m moving as far as I can afford to go. We’ll just see

where that ends up being. Good luck to all of you beginners….there’s lots to learn here and you’ll have some fun learning about all the problems in the industry, just to boil 20% of our water to turn some turbines. I had a friend whose former employee had a company that used the surf zones to place their turbines in. No fallout, a present source of energy to turn them,

no destruction of fresh water supply and relatively low impact, with equal output. Bingo.


I totally agree about the incredible work done by Arnie Gunderson and his group Fairwinds. He was absolutely ninja in investigation and thorough, fact-based reporting during and after the Fukishima nuclear disaster.


Arnie Gundersen is far more believable than I’m finding this report… Arnie is a fantastic voice for the anti-nuclear side of the argument, and has been one of the key people to bring me from 100% pro-nuke to where I am now. That said, I still think the report presented here may do more harm than good for the folks who do not like nuclear power… I am still going through it, but the statistical data has serious issues with respect to the thesis.


I question the motivation of commenter “fastandloud1.” Dr. Hosea’s comments on nuclear power absolutely are “based on science.”

In fact, detailed German studies have found the same thing—

increased cancer and birth defect rates in those living near nuclear plants. Also, if you are going to question a well-respected expert’s

“credibility” please learn how to spell the word first! Dr. Hosea

has a strong background in medicine, research and “science”—

obviously! His credibility is not in question, but dear commenter,

yours is. I have interviewed Dr. Hosea and also know how respected he is. Kudos to him for standing up instead of sitting back

knowing what he knows and not sharing it for the betterment of his

fellow citizens.


Dr. Hoses is a well-respected infectious-disease specialist, both locally and nationally. I have worked with him in the past and, if anything, he is conservative in his public statements about public health threats.

He was one of the first infectious-disease specialists to speak out about the realistically possible health threats from the Fukishima nuclear disaster.

I remain impressed by his calm and compassionate approach to AIDS and HIV in the beginning when fear drove many to advocate uncalled for and harmful measures for addressing an infectious public-health problem.


Sounds like Dr.Hosea is a great doctor in his area of expertise. However his opinion regarding cancer and Diablo don’t appear to be based on science.Simply the opinion of someone who doesn’t like nuclear power and is using his title to add credability to his views.

Honoring a doctor with heart and skill

Physician has been on front line in war on AIDS


“It’s an incredible experience to shepherd young people from being medical students to being physicians.”

Dr. Stephen Hosea,

Cottage Hospital




Mention Dr. Stephen Hosea and the accolades begin.

“No matter what the situation is, he remains calm,” said Alicia Kelley, chief Cottage Hospital nursing officer and vice president for patient care services.

“He is just a phenomenal doctor, as well as just a wonderful guy,” said Dr. Elliot Schulman, health officer and Santa Barbara County Public Health director.

“Everyone concurs,” said Peter MacDougall, past president of the Cottage Hospital board of directors. “Not only does he have tremendously strong technical competencies, but his personal modalities with patients, his caring, the deep sensitivity he shows represent just a terrific model for new doctors.

“He’s as close to a model physician as you could ask for,” Mr. MacDougall said. “We are, frankly, blessed to have a man of his talents.”

One of four people receiving a 2005 News-Press Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday, Dr. Hosea, 58, has an impressive résumé.

Since his 1981 arrival in Santa Barbara, Dr. Hosea has treated thousands of people across the region and earned his rank as a leading specialist on infectious disease, from the AIDS explosion of the 1990s to fears of a bird flu pandemic today.

Government officials consider him a go-to guy, regularly seeking his advice on stemming the spread of illness.

His early work with AIDS patients helped set a respectful tone for their care at a time when they often were shunned, and that work continues.

In addition, Dr. Hosea trains Cottage residents fresh out of medical school – one of the most important of his many duties, he said.

“It’s an incredible experience to shepherd young people from being medical students to being physicians,” he said. “I mean, it’s a sacred experience.”

During a recent interview in his office on the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital’s sixth floor, he showed no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Dr. Stephen Hosea, who works at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, is a leading specialist on infectious disease.

He maintains a private practice, and has worked since 1983 as director of clinical services for the Cottage Department of Medical Education. Since 1986, he has worked as a clinical professor of medicine at USC, and since 1987 as director of the county AIDS clinic. In addition, since 1994, he has been medical director of Cottage Hospital infection control.

Dr. Hosea lives in Hope Ranch with his wife, Susan Day. He has two children – a daughter, 19, and a son, 20.

Born and raised in Kentucky, Dr. Hosea did not always want to be a physician. But with the Vietnam War raging, his Harvard College career otherwise ending and his draft card number perilously low, medical school in 1969 seemed like a wise choice, he said.

Shortly after his 1973 graduation from Harvard Medical School, Dr. Hosea began his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. From there, it was off to Maryland, where he rose to the position of senior investigator in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

But the appeal of research had its limitations.

“My star was rising in academic medicine,” he said. “But it just didn’t quite make my heart sing.”

So he headed west – to Santa Barbara.

“I spent most of my time windsurfing in those early years,” he said with a chuckle. In fact, Dr. Hosea soon was embroiled in the emerging HIV and AIDS epidemic. His care has – and still does – reach most people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in Santa Barbara.

Two decades later, and with the numerous medical advances to date, it’s easy to forget that doctors at one point had no idea what caused the illness.

“He had a line of people that needed to see him,” said David Selberg, whose partner of nine years, Gabriel Asturias, died of AIDS complications in 1998 at age 36. As the former patient services director for the Pacific Pride Foundation, Mr. Selberg recalled driving AIDS patients to see Dr. Hosea.

“If a client was emotionally breaking down . . . he just stopped everything and would sit with them,” Mr. Selberg said. “He can sit down on the carpet with a client or on their bed and just totally meet them where they are at.”

Mr. Selberg remembered his late partner’s last hospital stay.

“I said, ‘Steve, Gabriel is here in the hospital.’ He said, ‘David, he’s dying. What’s going on is he’s dying.’ It enabled me to be present for Gabriel. He could say that to me and, you know, also have deep conversations with me and Gabriel about the meaning of life, what life is about and spirituality.”

AIDS work does not consume as much of Dr. Hosea’s time as it once did. But Dr. Hosea still spends a substantial chunk of his time helping HIV or AIDS patients manage their illness, which still has no cure.

In addition, Dr. Hosea brainstorms local responses to new health threats – like the emergence of the new bird flu in Asia, which some health experts warn could mutate and fuel a pandemic flu that could kill millions of people worldwide.

Dr. Hosea says it’s a potential “Category 5 viral hurricane.”

Most of his professional time these days, however, is spent with the Cottage residents. There are 25 in all.

Asked about his bedside manner, and about dealing with people facing their most difficult challenges, Dr. Hosea was upbeat and direct.

It’s important to be clear about a diagnosis and prognosis, and the options for care, he said. And it’s important to remember that much of what he tells a sick person is probably not digested immediately.

“It’s just about being there and showing up and listening, and presenting the information in a way that at least can be understood,” he said.

“Illness is really the great equalizer,” he said. “It’s about caring and showing up, and doing the best you can for people.”

e-mail: tschultz@newspress.com


Dr. hosea specializes in the following:

Infectious Disease Specialist

Sub-specialties: Internal Medicine


Infectious disease specialists are physicians who diagnose, treatand manage of infectious diseases. Usually infectious conditions are first diagnosed by a patient’s primary-care doctor or an internal medicine specialist, with the infectiologist called in when diagnosis is difficult or prescribed treatment has failed. Infectiologists have extensive knowledge of viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi – whether contagious, communicable, food-borne, airborne or sexually transmitted. They deal with conditions in many parts of the body, including the sinus, brain, urinary tract, bowel, heart and lungs, with many of the conditions treatable with antibiotics.