Nuclear Power Kills Kids. Or Not.

This is pretty funny. An anti-nukie group put out a report on how nuclear power kills children only to have Georgia Power successfully destroy their credibility solely on the basis of the report itself.

Here’s the funny thing about the article itself though. I don’t know Margaret Newkirk, but I’m a bit disappointed in how she wrote the article. She starts off sensationally with this

Cancer death rates for children and teens up 58 percent in the region around Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle since the nuclear facility went on line. Cancer death rates up 25 percent in Burke County, where the plant sits. Hundreds to die if two new reactors get built, as Georgia Power plans.

The figures came from a report called “Health Risks of Adding New Reactors to the Vogtle Nuclear Plant.”

Then she says this

It took Georgia Power approximately a nanosecond to bloody the health study beyond recognition, with an assist from the well-organized and well-funded nuclear industry, the speed of the Internet and —- unfortunately for its sponsors —- the report itself.

Then she spends the next 671 words saying (1) some of the “report’s disseminators . . . backed away from the more startling claims” and “the industry’s much louder message was that the report’s author, Joe Mangano of the Radiation and Public Health Project, was a well-known crank known for issuing scary scientific junk.”

Nonetheless, despite saying that Georgia Power was able to “bloody the health study beyond recognition,” Ms. Newkirk doesn’t really say how other than that one group called into question the author and one group listed “typical flaws.”

So at the end of the day Georgia Power apparently destroyed the credibility of the report, but the report is just “flawed” and we should still be concerned about the cancer risk to children.

Your mileage may vary, but it seemed the reporter started out writing about how hyperbolic and silly the report turned out to be and by the end of writing the reporter tried to redeem the study and make it flawed but still sound. Again, mind you, she started out saying Georgia Power bloodied the report beyond recognition, but concludes with this quote from a professor of environmental health:

“Their hearts are right and their instincts are right,” Clapp said.
“But this is not the way to prove it.”

Anotherwords, the report was awful, but we should still believe the environmentalists that nuclear power kills kids.


  1. MSBassSinger says:

    As someone who worked in the nuclear power industry (US Navy, not private sector), a little-known fact is that more radiation is given off by a coal-fired plant than by a nuclear power plant.

    Nuclear power plants are so heavily shielded that the radiation given off outside the plant is between nil and natural background radiation. The small percentage of C13 and to a lesser degree, C11 and C14, that naturally occurs in the mounds of coal at a coal-fired plant gives off significantly more radiation than a nuclear power plant. C13 makes up about 1% of carbon, and decays into N13. C14 (the most unstable isotpe), which decays into N14, is a smaller percentage,and has a longer half-life.

    Of course, neither nuclear power plants nor coal-fired plants exhibit a radiation danger to those around the plant. You get more radiation from a dental X-ray or a winter ski vacation to Colorado.

  2. Jmac says:

    The whole thing is an odd piece of journalism. Not only does it begin with a sensationalist lede, but it then goes onto declare one guy a ‘crank’ without attribution based on the arguments from the lobbying arm of the nuclear industry. The article should have gone through a couple of edits and re-writes along the way to tone down the lede and then temper the inflammatory language.

    Are there any existing numbers regarding cancer or other wellness factors from the area around either Savannah River Site or Plant Vogtle? Growing up in Augusta, I had always heard these stories about the cancer rates around those sites and the cancer rates for its workers, but I don’t ever remember seeing anything.

    Here’s a question … do they keep the reactors below ground, or are they just heavily shielded above ground?

  3. MSBassSinger says:

    Reactors are above ground, and very well sheilded. The outer structure is designed (and has been for decades) to withstand a direct hit by a large jetliner without a core breach.

    US reactors cannot melt down like the China Syndrome mythology, even if all technology fails. They cannot explode by atomic explosion, again, by virtue of the laws of physiscs, not man-made technology.

    The worst civilian case of a nuclear plant failure was Three Mile Island, and no one outside the plant was harmed, and not one single case of cancer or birth defect has been attributed to the Three Mile Island disaster by virtue of medical science. The tin-foil hat folks will certainly blame every anomaly on Three Mile island, but I was referring to science and fact, not left wing hysteria.

  4. Southerner says:

    Let them get hysterical. The more they do so, the less respect they’ll get, even when they have a cogent arguement. It’s the old boy who cried wolf situation: when the wolf is actually at the door, no one cares.

    In line with that, I predict that when and if the current “world climate crisis” actually reaches “crisis” levels (and we are far, far from that enven with the heat wave in the west, which I believe is caused by all the political hot air being generated by early primaries) no one will have the energy to care much about that either.

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