The current [2014-2018] cancer incidence rate in Grundy County, the site of the Dresden nuclear plant, is 22% above the state rate, the 9thhighest** of all 102 Illinois counties, and one
of the highest in the United States, according to a new report** released today.
Rates of cancers most sensitive to radiation are especially high, including child cancer (+18%),
thyroid cancer (+43%), breast cancer (+24%), and leukemia (+33%). Rates are taken from the
National Cancer Institute analysis of 2014-2018** county-specific data.
“I am not aware of any county with a nuclear plant where radiation-sensitive cancer rates are so
consistently high,” comments Joseph Mangano, Executive Director of the Radiation and Public
Health Project (RPHP) and author of the report. Mangano, author or co-author of 38 medical
journal articles, has been with RPHP since 1989.
“The Dresden nuclear plant may well be harming local residents,” states Christie Brinkley, the
model/actress who is a Board member of RPHP. “It is old, its parts are deteriorating, and
continues to emit more and more dangerous radiation the longer it operates,” she adds.
Dresden reactors 2 and 3, 43 miles from Chicago, have operated for over 50 years; they
areamong the eight oldest reactors in the U.S. Exelon Nuclear, which owns Dresden, intended to
shut the plant in November, due to its unprofitability.It recently received a large bailout from the
Illinois legislature which will enable it to operate through 2026.
In the original Report analysis done for 2013-2017, a total of 1,508 residents of Grundy County
were diagnosed with cancer – the highest reported rate of any Illinois county for those years. The
county cancer incidence rate is 36th highest of all 3,100 U.S. counties, and 8th highest among the
1,600 counties with a population of at least 27,000.
The report also shows that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as the two Dresden reactors started
operating, the cancer death rates in Grundy County was 13% below the U.S. rate. In the most
recent decade, the county rate was 15% above the U.S.