1970s Research Attributed Cancer Death Spike to Radiation in Ohio River from Nuclear Reactor Near Pittsburgh
Flashback to the 1950s and environmental issues were below most people’s radar. The fear was that the United States and Russia would engage in a nuclear exchange. The impact of long term radioactive fallout from deploying these increasingly powerful warheads led to a strategy of mutually assured destruction, which would effectively severely limit the radiation free locales on the planet.
Both nations performed atmospheric , underground and deep sea weapons tests which themselves exposed scientists, workers, and innocents world-wide to low-level radiation exposure that allegedly did not affect anyone’s long term health.
Medical researchers in that era were beginning to inquire about a possible link between cancer and cigarette smoking.
Archival footage from WSAZ-TV shows Dr. Clarence Cook Little , a famed Chicago cancer researcher, was asked by reporters following a speaking engagement whether smoking does or does not cause cancer. Cook responded in the December 9, 1961 interview, "Right now we don't know, but we're going to find out."
Similarly, archival footage contains Ohio River pollution anxieties, including a fear that atomic particles were dumped in the stream potentially contaminating drinking water. The fear was denied after a meeting in Wheeling, WV in 1960.
Despite those assurances, the Third Annual Tri State Fire School on August 21, 1961, highlighted be a course in radiation hazards, and the operation of a fire department when operating in a radioactive area. (Editor's Note: At that time the uranium processing Huntington Pilot Plant was classified; the training likely corresponded with fears of atomic attack. But, due to the industrialization of chemical and other plants, Charleston/Huntington was supposedly high on the target list.)
Rather than leaving undecided the possible pollution from radioactive sources, a July 24, 1961, WSAZ-TV report told parents not to let children swim in the Ohio River as it was like "an open sewer."
They asked Marshall Professor Howard Mills to test the Ohio's waters. "
The results were decisive…bacteria galore. In the Ohio River tests 3-4 thousand cells of bacteria in each drop of water…in the Guyan test, 6 thousand bacteria in a single drop of water…and of even more significance, many of the bacteria that showed up were of the disease producing variety."
EMISSIONS FROM N PLANT NEAR PITTSBURGH
However, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School did not accept the no radioactivity assumptions. He had his students gather data from vital statistics to verify his hypothesis that emissions from the world’s first commercial nuclear reactor near Pittsburgh, Pa., were killing people, particularly infants, in towns and cities up and downstream on the Ohio.
The theory --- radioactive contamination had been vented airborne and settled in the soil, water and other environments eventually draining into the Ohio.
Dr. Ernest Sterngrass published his findings in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and a now out of print study, “Secret Fallout: From Hiroshima to Three Mile Island.”
Could emissions from the Shippingport reactor was near the current Beaver Valley Nuclear Generating Station on the Ohio River, about 25 miles from Pittsburgh cause cancer? The generating station used a naval pressure vessel reactor, which would be decommissioned in 1985 then disassembled and buried in Washington State.
SUMMARY OF CANCER DEATHS
One mile from nuclear plant:
Midland, Pa. 149.6 per hundred thousand (1958, when plant opened) to 426.3 (1970), 184%
Other Towns/Cities Near and Downwind from plant:
Beaver County, Pa. 40% increase cancer deaths 1958-1968 (147.7 to 204.7
Pittsburgh, Pa., up 31% (1958-1968)
East Liverpool, Ohio (ten miles), 40% increase in cancer (1958-1968) and 67% increase (1971)
Steubenville, Ohio (thirty miles, across from Wheeling, WV), 25% increase cancer deaths , (1958-1968)
Cincinnati, Ohio (300 miles) , 24% increase cancer deaths
WALTZ MILLS MELT DOWN ACCIDENT APRIL 1960
This reactor located 20 miles upstream from McKeesport, Pa., which was on the Youghiogheny River had an accidental release of radioactive isotopes from fuel element melt down. Within a year, infant mortality in McKeesport DOUBLES
SHIPPINGPORT TEMPORARY SHUT DOWN DUE TO HYDROGEN GAS EXPLOSION, 1974-1976
Aliquippa, Pa. Infant mortality all-time low 11.3 per 1,000 babies (1976)
CONTROL COMPARISONS: Ohio, Pennsylvania, United States
By comparison, cancer deaths for the full state of Ohio climbed 6%. Columbus, Ohio, which does not draw drinking water from the Ohio River had a 10% decline in cancer deaths, even though the alternative water source contained pollution from carcinogens, such as automobile exhaust, cigarettes, food additives, hair dyes and artificial sweeteners. Furthermore, in Pennsylvania (as a whole), showed an eight percent increase in cancer deaths , while the United States death rate rose ten percent.
NUCLEAR WITNESSES (excerpt)
What prompted the physicist , a former Westinghouse employee, to do a 180 degree reversal going from supporting clean energy nuclear to proving negative health impact which go beyond those of nuclear workers working daily at the sites?
A revelation similar to the activism that occurred by union employees at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, when they learned that they had been lied to concerning alleged "safe" exposure to radioactive elements at the plant.
Dr. Ernest Sternglass wrote:
"Early in May 1970 I gave a talk at a meeting of physicists in Wisconsin. At that meeting I secured a report put out by the Bureau of Radiological Health about radioactive releases from nuclear power reactors. On the plane home, I opened this thing, and there I saw that instead of .001 or .0001 curies coming out of nuclear reactors, as I had been told about Shippingport, some reactors were discharging hundreds of thousands of curies--millions, hundreds of millions times more than what I had been led to believe. It was all in the official tables.
"I was shaken up, and I said to a group of my medical students at Pittsburgh, "What do we do now? If I'm right about fallout, and these figures are right about radioactive releases, then there must be increases in infant mortality around every nuclear reactor in the United States."
(Above link to Nuclear Witnesses)
LINKS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH:
1992 interview: www.ratical.org/radiation/inetSeries/ejs1192.html