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Deadly Diablo? : Report suggests facility responsible for cancer spike via Santa Barbara News-Press

A report made public today levies a range of powerful accusations against PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear facility, pointing to such public health indicators as cancer and infant mortality rates to suggest that the plant poses a major health risk to residents of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Industry experts have already hit back, characterizing the report as shoddy science and saying its author, Joseph Mangano, is simply a “fearmonger.”

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The plant’s two reactors are the only two nuclear reactors still producing electricity in California and, according to the report, they may be exposing nearby populations to unsafe levels of radiation.

“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,” the report states. “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 rate is the highest of all 20 counties in southern California.”

The report, which breaks out health data based on ZIP codes, claims the plant is having an adverse effect on northern Santa Barbara County as well.

Between 1988 and 2010 in the 10 ZIP code areas in Santa Barbara County closest to the plant, according to the report, “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 plant.”

Besides infant mortality, the study also examined the incidence of strontium-90, a byproduct of uranium fission, in baby teeth.

While strontium-90 levels in baby teeth rose throughout California during the 1990s, Mr. Mangano’s report says levels are 30 percent higher around the Diablo Canyon facility.

“Infants are kind of the canaries in the mineshaft,” said Dr. Brown, emphasizing the link between nuclear power plant proximity and health problems in children.

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