Report: Cancer death rates rising near Fermi nuclear plant
A new study is looking to test baby teeth from children living near the plant.
NEWPORT, Mich. (WTVG) - A new report from the Radiation and Public Health Project claims that the cancer death rate in Monroe County, Michigan is on the rise and it’s tying that growth to the Fermi 2 nuclear plant in Newport.
According to the report, which uses public health data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of death due to cancer in Monroe County was roughly equal to that of the rest of the United States. Since 1988, that rate has risen steadily, reaching 11.3% higher than the national average in the most recent 10 years (2009-2018). From 2014-2018, that rate was 14.3% higher than the national average, amounting to 1,794 deaths. In the period between 1969 and 1978, outlines the report, that rate was 4.5% lower than the national average.
The Fermi 2 nuclear power plant went online in June of 1985, and while the report has no concrete evidence that the plant is the definitive cause of the rise in cancer deaths in the county, it does provide a correlative pattern. 13abc has reached out to DTE Energy, owners of the Fermi 2 plant, for comment.
“The trends in Monroe County cancer rates since the mid-1980s cannot overlook the startup of the Fermi reactor, and the potential role of radioactive emissions on health,” says Joseph Mangano MPH MBA, Executive Director of RPHP and study author.
“The report needs to be taken seriously, and follow-up measures are urgently needed,” adds Christie Brinkley, a long-time activist on nuclear issues, Board member of RPHP, and a native of Monroe County. “In particular our children must be protected, as they are most vulnerable.”
In an effort to further understand the role the reactor may have had in the rise in cancer rates in the area, the RPHP is conducting a “Tooth Fairy” study. They’re collecting baby teeth from children living near the power plant to test for levels of Strontium-90, a chemical created by nuclear reactors. They’re hoping to test up to 50 teeth and will compare the results to Sr-90 levels in Detroit-area residents from a 1950s-era study of atomic bomb test fallout. Information about the study, including how to participate, can be found at their website.
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