Thyroid Cancer Rates Near Indian Point Among Highest in U.S.

Communities around the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester, NY have higher-than-normal rates of <"">thyroid cancer, according to a study released Monday. The study found that rates of thyroid cancer in the four counties surrounding the Indian Point nuclear plant – Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester – were the highest in New York state, and among the highest in the United States.

The Indian Point nuclear power plant is located just north of New York City. The two nuclear reactors there went online in1973 and 1976. The plant, originally run by Consolidated Edison, is now owned and operated by Louisiana-based Entergy, a $13 billion company which runs nuclear plants in four other states. Entergy is awaiting renewal of the licenses for Indian Point’s two reactors, one of which expires in 2013 and the other in 2015.

According to an article published by anti-nuclear activist Joseph Mangano in the International Journal of Health Services, before the Indian Point reactors began operating, the thyroid cancer rate in the four surrounding counties was 1.5 percent below that of the state. Now they are 54 percent higher.

At a news conference yesterday, Mangano called for the facility to be shut down. “Indian Point shouldn’t be allowed to keep unless it proves that it’s safe and it should only address issues such as this,” he said.

To reach his conclusions Mangano analyzed data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which he says showed that from 2001-2005, the thyroid cancer rate for the four counties was 66% above the U.S. average The rate of the disease in Rockland County is 106 percent above the national average; 102 percent above in Putnam; 87 percent higher in Orange and 42 percent higher than average in Westchester, Mangano said.

Mangano asserted that a major risk factor for thyroid cancer is exposure to radioactive iodine, which is produced only in nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors.

Mangano heads the nonprofit Radiation and Public Health Project. Yesterday’s event was also attended by representatives of the Indian Point Safe Energy Council, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, and the Atlantic chapter of the Sierra Club.

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