Archive for September, 2011

How USA DOE doesn’t investigate health effects near nuclear facilities

September 6, 2011

The Isolation of Victims to control the Survey Outcomes – Will they cook the books at Fukushima?, By nuclearhistory A PROTOTYPE FOR CONTROLLING THE HEALTH STATISTICS.

The Tennessean Special Report – An Investigation into illnesses around US Nuclear Weapons Sites. DOE Survey and programs frustrate the sick. 2006. Energy Department officials say they have tried to help the ill near the nation’s nuclear weapons and research facilities. But some of those attempts have frustrated and infuriated the ill they’re intended to help.

In Oak Ridge, DOE paid an expert in urban trash recycling nearly $25,000 to do his first “health survey” in the largely African-American neighborhood called Scarboro, less than
600 yards from the nation’s storehouse for highly enriched uranium. The resulting May 1997 report recommended young people be educated in recycling and said the top community concerns were police harassment and transportation issues.

Two months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did its own survey and found something the recycling expert missed: One of every three children in the neighborhood suffers severe respiratory problems. At the Rocky Flats plant, DOE paid $80,000 in 1996 for a health survey of plant neighbors in suburban Denver. The 11-
question survey asked if respondents had concerns living near Rocky Flats. It didn’t ask if they had any health problems. This led one respondent to add an addendum:
“Whoever wrote this survey should have included this … People may be sicker than you realize.”
At the Hanford plant in southeast Washington state, DOE has promised a “medical monitoring” program to check people for thyroid problems after decades of massive radioactive iodine releases. But the program would give checkups only, not medical care. A lawsuit is pending because DOE has not yet funded the program, which was approved in February, 1997.

DOE has spent more than $100 million since 1991 on multiple epidemiological studies on workers at most of the sites. “Epi studies,” as they are known, use statistics to try
and link diseases to a cause. Many have been inconclusive, a fact that doesn’t surprise Tim Connor, member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Advisory
Committee on Energy-Related Epidemiological Research and author of a book on the topic.

“These studies are analogous to sending a whaling fleet with harpoons out to find a catch of shrimp,” Connor says. “There might be reason to believe a problem is there, but with the
existing tools of epidemiology, it’s very hard to bring home the catch and prove it.”

If people are waiting for these studies to prove these sites caused their health problems, they’re wasting their time, says John Till, president of Risk Assessment Corp., a scientific
research firm in Neeses, S.C. His company has worked on several of the studies, which he
says are useful for identifying potential effects of the most
serious releases.
“But you’ll never be able to confirm any plants caused anyone’s particular disease,” Till says. “We’ll never be able to tell a person with certainty that their health problems are
caused by a certain contaminant.”

Up to the ill to make plight known, DOE says The U.S. Department of Energy has not been aware of widespread health problems among its workers and neighbors of its nuclear weapons sites across the
nation, said Peter N. Brush, DOE’s acting assistant secretary for environment, safety, and health. Brush acknowledges the department has done nothing to take a comprehensive look at health concerns around all its sites, but is looking for a“plausible connection” betweencontamination and illness.

Problems go beyond ‘known medicine’ Science can send people to the moon, clone sheep, and genetically engineer tomatoes, but it can’t yet determine if the toxic mix of substances released from the nation’s nuclear weapons production sites made anyone around them sick.

How the story was reported As reporters Susan Thomas and Laura Frank traveled around the country interviewing sick people for these stories, they were acting as journalists, not scientists. In the course of reporting a pattern of unexplained
illnesses in Oak Ridge last year, they heard similar symptoms were occurring around other weapons sites.