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.

Comments

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.

http://www3.cancer.gov/atlasplus/charts.html
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

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?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…