While NRC Contemplates Restart of San Onofre, New Study Shows Decline of Cancers Since Northern Calif Nuke Closed

by on April 10, 2013 · 3 comments

in California, Energy, Environment, Health, San Diego

Rancho Seco Nuke plant

New Study: Cancer decline since Rancho Seco nuclear plant closed over 20 years ago

 by Michael Steinberg

Recently Southern California Edison asked the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission for permission to restart Unit 2 at its San Onofre nuclear plant. Units 2 and 3 at San Onofre have been shut down since January 2012 after radioactive steam escaped into the environment, and subsequent investigation found that steam generators installed less than two years before had suffered significant damage to large numbers of critical tubes in the generators.

Now Edison wants to restart Unit 2 in June, and receive permission from the NRC to operate that reactor for two years, despite failing to substantially address the damage to the steam generators or pinpoint the reasons for the problems, according to environmental group Friends of the Earth.

“Yet again Edison is putting profits before safety,” FOE’s Kendra Ulrich said on April 3.

FOE cited evidence given by Edison to the NRC recently that, if it were given permission to restart Unit 2, the unrepaired generator tubes “will vibrate, suffer further wear and potentially burst in 6 to 13 months,” well before the two year operating license period Edison wants was up.

Edison also said it would likely have to shut down Unit 2 four or five times during the two year period.

On April 2 FOE released a report carried out on its behalf by “renowned nuclear engineer John Large,” into the problems at San Onofre. In that report Large stated, “Edison has yet to provide convincing evidence that it knows the full reasons or root cause of the severe damage to its steam generators. The problems remain unresolved and unrepaired.”

No Nukes = Less Cancer

Meanwhile, another recent study found that cancer cases have declined in Sacramento County in Northern California since the Rancho Seco nuclear plant there closed over 20 years ago.

The report, “Long-term Local Cancer Reductions Following Nuclear Plant Shutdown,” appeared in the March 2013 edition of the journal Biomedicine International.

Authors Joseph Mangano and Jeanette Sherman (of the Radiation and Public Health Project, radiation.org) used data from the California Cancer Registry to examine trends in Sacramento County, comparing incidences during Rancho Seco’s years of operations to those since it permanently shut down.

Rancho Seco began operating in 1974 and shut down in 1989 after local residents voted to close it permanently.

The authors concluded: “Since the late 1980s cancer incidences in Sacramento County have declined for 28 of 31 categories (genders, races, types of cancers). Of these, 14 declines are statistically significant. The estimated reduction in cancer cases over a 20 year period is 4319. Many factors can result in lower cancer incidence over two decades, but elimination of radioactive isotopes should be addressed as one of these potential factors in future reports.”


Let us hope that these lessons from the recent past in Northern California will be applied in the near future in Southern California.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar abalone Alliance Clearinghouse April 10, 2013 at 1:58 pm

The new GAO report is a bombshell with the main concern being the Shadow evacuee issue.

The report itself only has a few pieces of information that is of major concern

1. The bombshell that the NRC has done no real “ON THE GROUND” investigation into how people would respond outside the 10 mile EPZ, and of course the fact that they don’t even require that people between 10-50 miles out even be educated about the issue.

2. It discloses a report that I wasn’t aware of done by Sandia Labs in 2008 that includes a detailed analysis of evacuation of Los Angeles!

3. The NRC has never conducted an evacuation test that includes the general public of its plans anywhere. It only requires that the vendor do a study based on the latest census report called and ETE or Evacuation Time Estimate. The last one done for San Onofre was done in 2006 with the claim that it could safely evacuate the 10 EPZ in 17 hours during an earthquake.

4. The NRC/Sandia Labs did a 2004 study on evacuations, using 230 real US emergencies, none of which were nuclear related, nor none of which was related to an earthquake, even though there was a sample that could have been used. The 1989 Loma Prieta quake – where it took over 4 hours just to evacuate some 40,000 people at Candlestick Park who were watching the first game of the World Series.

5. The NRC does not currently nor ever has connected the danger of a major emergency at San Onofre with an earthquake, so no studies of this double wammy ever been done.

A quick review of this information is clearly nuts, if we mix in an earthquake and stir with a hefty dose of radiation. They have no answers – the bottom line here is that they don’t acknowledge the possibility that this could happen at the same time as an earthquake.

This is a huge bombshell.

Here are the links – There will be major media coverage of this today (Wednesday) so time is rather crucial.

GAO Report page


2004 Sandia Labs: Identification and Analysis of Factors Affecting Emergency Evacuations


2008 Sandia Labs Study Evacuation study – with chapter five being about Los Angeles!


Here’s a sample image from the 2008 Report. note the 3 hour estimate time for evacuation of the hot spots in L.A. – no earthquake analysis done.


avatar Alex April 11, 2013 at 9:10 am

The average American receives a dose of 0.3 mrem/year from nuclear power stations and radioactive waste disposal sites. That is less radiation than the average American receives from watching television and is over 300,000 times less than the dose required to increase one’s chance of developing cancer by 5%. Your argument that the decline in cancer rates in Northern California is due to the shutdown Rancho Seco is flawed in that it fails to consider alternate causes, such as fewer smokers and healthier lifestyles, and mistakes a correlation for a causal relationship. Please stop spreading your ignorance. Because of people like you, the environment has suffered irreparable damage as utilities have been forced to forego building clean, safe nuclear power plants in favor of dirty, yet less fear-inducing coal and natural gas plants.


avatar abalone Alliance Clearinghouse April 11, 2013 at 1:34 pm

The public relations department of NEI strikes again! Hmm. Ecologists with a bit of a background would know that a Faustian bargain is no bargain at all! Nuclear waste & ever increasing security state combined with the darkest secret of all – The real history of how the US has control over the Hiroshima database that sets the radiation safety standards. That database and the $100 million the US has spent to assure the public that cancers all come from phobias or bad diets is like the real criminal being able to walk into the police locker and place whatever evidence they deem necessary to protect the guilty. Just moving the decimal point over one number with the game of nuclear murder has immense undertones of why John Gofman called for Nuremburg trials for nuclear physicists.

I would be cautious about the Rancho Seco study myself, however, what it suggests that more investigation needs to be done.


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