Could there be a connection between cancer rates and nuclear power plants?

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is teaming up with the National Academy of Sciences for an ambitious cancer risk study. It is the first of its kind in over two decades.

Seven of our nation's generating facilities will be used in the study. One of the plants that made the top of the list is in the Garden State: The Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in Lacey Township, Ocean County. The NRC is asking the Academy to carry out this effort, which will help the agency determine whether to extend the study to the remaining U.S. reactor and certain fuel cycle sites.

The pilot effort will examine each of the seven sites with two types of epidemiological studies. The first will examine multiple cancer types in populations living near the facilities; the second will be a case-control study of cancers in children born near the facilities.

NRC Spokesman Neil Sheehan says, "The NRC will work with the Academy to begin the pilot study process in the next three months. The NRC staff expects the effort will continue at least into 2014 and cost approximately $2 million. The Academy will work with interested parties near the sites prior to gathering information and beginning the necessary analyses."

The study is the first one since 1990, which was done by the U.S. National Institutes of Health - National Cancer Institute report.

The seven facilities include Dresden Nuclear Power Station, Morris, Illinois. Millstone Power Station, Waterford, Connecticut, Haddam Neck (decommissioned), Haddam Neck, Connecticut, Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant (decommissioned), Charlevoix, Michigan, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, San Clemente, California.

The Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant is the nation's oldest. It will cease operations in 2019 as part of a plan to help restore the Barnegat Bay.

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