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Federal Regulators Halt Study of Cancer Risks at Seven Nuclear Plants

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission flickr.com/photos/nrcgov/6517600977/
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Millstone Power Station, Units 2 and 3, Waterford, CT

Federal regulators are halting a five-year study of the risk of cancer in communities around six U.S. nuclear plants and a nuclear fuel site, including two Connecticut nuclear plants.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday that remaining work on a pilot study would take too long and cost too much, at $8 million. It's already spent $1.5 million. Completing the pilot study and subsequent nationwide reviews could take eight to ten years.

NRC spokesman Scott Burnell told WSHU Public Radio that the agency doesn’t believe the radioactive materials released by nuclear power plants pose a big enough risk to justify the time and expense.

“Even when nuclear power plants do have controlled and monitored releases into the environment, you end up with potential doses to the public that are so low, it’s very difficult to assign an increase in risk from these very small doses,” Burnell said.

The commission said it will continue to work from a 1990 study by the National Cancer Institute. That study showed no increased risk of cancer for people who live near nuclear power plants.

Anti-nuclear power group Beyond Nuclear said halting the study is outrageous, and that funding it is a legitimate cost.

In addition to the Connecticut plants, Millstone and Connecticut Yankee, other nuclear sites to be studied included active and decommissioned plants in California, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey, and a nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Tennessee.

Leyda Quast is an intern at WNPR. This report includes information from The Associated Press.

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