Skip to main content

When BREDL Makes Claims, Be Sure to Check the Data

Yesterday, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) unveiled a study that makes some startling claims about the community that hosts the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant in Georgia:
The number of people dying from cancer in Burke County is on the rise, and one group says a nuclear plant may be to blame.

A new study released by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League shows the number of people dying of cancer in Burke County has shot up 25%, while the rest of country's cancer rate was on the decline.

"If I lived in this county I'd want to know why these numbers are increasing," said Louis Zeller with Blue Ridge.


But the most startling statistic is the change in infant mortality. In Burke County the number of infant deaths increased 70% compared to the other surrounding counties in the CSRA. But even the backers of the study admit waste from other plants could be contributing to the problem.

"It's like a crime being committed, but too many suspects to find out for certain what the source of the problem might be," said Zeller.
To read the reports, click here (PDF) and here (PDF). To be sure, the conclusions sound alarming, but if you take a closer look at those reports, you'll see that they're authored by Joseph Mangano of the Radiation and Public Health Project. Here at NEI Nuclear Notes, we've been tracking Mangano since March 2005 since his claims were the subject of a feature on CNN.

At that time, we reminded readers that 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. Even better, here's what the New Jersey Commission on Radiation Protection had to say about Mangano's research:
The Commission is of the opinion that "Radioactive Strontium-90 in Baby Teeth of New Jersey Children and the Link with Cancer: A Special Report," is a flawed report, with substantial errors in methodology and invalid statistics. As a result, any information gathered through this project would not stand up to the scrutiny of the scientific community. There is also no evidence to support the allegation that the State of New Jersey has a problem with the release of Sr-90 into the environment from nuclear generating plants: more than 30 years of environmental monitoring data refute this.
Mangano's act goes something like this: Pop around the country making outrageous claims, and get out of town before anyone has a chance to double check his work.

Here's hoping the folks in Georgia don't buy into the scare mongering. For more from our archives on Mangano, click here. And for a look at our archives on BREDL, which has a similar track record when it comes to playing fast and loose with the data, click here.


Don Kosloff said…
A near term increase in cancer could not be attributable to the operation of Vogtle because Vogtle has been operating for many years. Also, there are 23 counties in Georgia that have higher cancer rates than Burke county over the most recent time period that provides reasonably accurate statistics. During the previous long term period, Burke County was #20. So Burke county has improved its standing among Georgia counties since Plant Vogtel started up.
Anonymous said…
Or just say that the cancer deaths in Barrow County GA for All Cancers are not increasing, e.g.:

YEAR NO. RATE/100,000
1999 58 130.0
2000 77 166.9
2001 89 183.3
2002 72 140.6
2003 73 136.7
2004 73 128.8

Regards, Jim Muckerheide
News 12 said…
We will be following up on this story, and have added Georgia Power's rebuttal to the end of the original article.

Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…