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The spilled tritium was destined to be discharged as effluent in rivers anyway, authorities said, and they were not explicitly required to notify the public about it -- a reporting loophole Illinois congressmen want closed.
"It's not like people are going to start dropping like flies from this level of radiation," said Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.
"What I am alarmed by is the number of years it has taken, and how lax the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been, and how lax the corporation has been in informing the community fully" about the spills, he said.
A local doctor and his wife, Joseph and Cynthia Sauer, whose daughter contracted brain cancer when they lived near the Dresden plant, have collected data about heightened rates of cancer and birth defects near the Illinois plants in the period after the spills began. They say they were brushed off by the NRC.
The industry and the NRC say existing medical research shows people living near nuclear plants are safe and limits on discharges of radioactive liquids and gases are adequate.
But some scientists and at least one congressman want a conclusive investigation of the health risks. They say that while tritium is like water, if ingested some of it may remain in the body where it can damage cells, leading to cancers, birth defects and miscarriages.
Years of radioactive waste water spills from Illinois nuclear power plants have fueled suspicions the industry covers up safety problems and sparked debate about the risks from exposure to low-level radiation.
"I don't say that people don't have concerns, but any suggestion that we are in cahoots with the industry to suppress (information) is baseless," NRC spokesman Jan Strasma said.
U.S. Rep. Edward Markey has been unable to secure government funding for a health study on people living near nuclear plants, and the Massachusetts Democrat says he opposes U.S. President George W. Bush's prescription to build a new generation of nuclear reactors to lessen reliance on fossil fuels until more is known.
"The president's plan is misguided. It presents health risks, creates additional nuclear waste that we have no long-term solution for, creates additional terrorist targets that we do not adequately defend, and costs an enormous amount of money. (Bush's) phrase 'clean, safe nuclear power' is oxymoronic," he said.
Nuclear waste (in the form of spent fuel rods mostly) is dangerous scary stuff. None of the current plans though are 100% safe and the same irrational fear of radioactivity that haunts the building of new nuke power plants haunts the creation of a waste storage facility somewhere.
Originally posted by Astronomer68
Besides, unless we go solar, with orbiting power plants, what real alternatives do we have? The human race is very power hungry and becoming more so all the time.
Originally posted by Damocles
but i still like wind power alternatives.