Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rise in Cancer Near Nuclear Plant

A few days ago, I found out that my friend's mother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. My friend told me that thyroid cancer has been on the rise in Rockland county due to a rise in emissions from a nearby nuclear power plant, called Indian Point. I decided to see if this was in fact the case.

I was able to find a Fox News report dated March 8, 2009 called "Cancer Cluster" that reviewed this trend. Thyroid cancer, which is highly sensitive to radiation, is caused by radioactive iodine found only in nuclear weapons and reactors. This radioactive iodine destroys and injures cells in the thyroid gland, leading to cancer and other disorders. The Fox News story reported that the four counties surrounding the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant (Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester) had the highest rate of thyroid cancer in the state, and among the highest in the U.S. The report stated that between 2001-2004 there were 992 reported cases of thyroid cancer, the highest amount in the country during this period.

Joseph Mangano of the research group called the Radiation and Public Health project also reported on this trend. Mangano reported that "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." In his attempt to have the plant completely shut down, 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."

This trend, in my opinion, can be linked to the actions of Enron right before they went bankrupt. The "it's just business" practice of nearly all companies seems to apply both to Enron and Indian Point. These companies simply turn their heads and focus primarily on gaining profit. It is confusing to me when some businesses put "customer satisfaction" at the top of their priorities, when, in this case, their very own customers are becoming diagnosed with cancer. Instead of "customer satisfaction" at the top of the list of priorities, I think many companies put "comany satisfaction" at the top, ignoring the satisfaction of their very own customers.

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