Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League


PO Box 88 ~ Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 ~ Phone (336) 982-2691 ~ Fax (336) 982-2954 ~ Email:


October 4, 2004
Louis Zeller
(336) 982-2691


Group Calls for Comprehensive Health Study

In a presentation on October 2nd at UVA, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League called
for comprehensive health studies before the siting of new nuclear reactors. BREDL’s Louis
Zeller detailed recent population studies of death rates within a 30-mile radius of Dominion
Power’s North Anna nuclear station. Records show that death rates rose sharply soon after the
North Anna nuclear reactors began operation; for some groups of children the rate nearly

On Saturday BREDL conducted a seminar on radiation and health at “Virginia At the
Crossroads: Which Energy Future?" hosted by the People’s Alliance for Clean Energy. Zeller
spotlighted the work of Joseph Mangano who released a survey earlier this year. The report
revealed significantly higher death rates especially in infants in a nine-county area of central
Virginia including Charlottesville.

Zeller said. “Radioactive pollutants are known to cause serious health problems. I believe the
high death rates revealed in Mangano’s study are clearly related to the nuclear power plants at
North Anna.”

The study suggests that even low-level radioactive emissions harm local residents, especially the
young. The findings, compiled by Joseph Mangano, MPH of the New York-based research
group Radiation and Public Health Project, raise concern that building new reactors at North
Anna would further threaten public health.

Mangano found that from 1978 to 1979-81 (the first years of North Anna operation), death rates
rose in the nine counties nearest the plant. Miscarriages in the study area rose 3% but fell 15% in
the rest of Virginia. Similarly, deaths to infants younger than one year rose 11% but fell 9% in
the rest of Virginia.

Death rates for children age 1-4 rose 99% from the period 1979-82 to 1983-86, but declined 8%
in the rest of the state. Death rates for children age 5-14 rose 72% from 1983-86 to 1987-90 but
fell 3% statewide. The data suggest that persons born in the earliest years after North Anna
opened were harmed by radioactive emissions from the plant.

Elderly residents may also have been harmed by North Anna. The total number of local deaths
increased 6.4% from 1978 to 1979-82, but rose only 2.5% statewide. Elderly persons are
susceptible to toxic radioactive chemicals because of their declining immune systems.

The nine counties studied have a population of about 400,000, a number that is rapidly rising.
They include Albemarle (including Charlottesville city), Culpeper, Fluvanna, Goochland,
Greene, Louisa, Madison, Orange, and Spotsylvania.

Some critics charge that the Mangano study is incomplete and that without radiation dose
estimates, cause and effect cannot be determined. Zeller said, “Something is killing people here
at an alarming rate. Our position is that local governments would be foolhardy to support or
ignore Dominion’s plans for new nuclear reactors in the absence of comprehensive studies that
do show cause and effect.”

RPHP initiated this study in response to a request by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense
League. Dominion Power is seeking an Early Site Permit from the federal government, in
expectation of ordering two or more new nuclear reactors at the North Anna site in the future.
Federal criteria for the permit do not consider health effects from existing reactors. Annual totals
of radioactive emissions to the air and water from North Anna are published by the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission.

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More info:

- Table slides (in 2 .pdf files) detailing actual radioactive releases to the air and water from Dominion/Virginia Power's North Anna nuclear station, and the high rates of mortality in the area within 30 miles of the North Anna reactors located near Charlottesville, VA.

Radioactive Materials Released from North Anna Nuclear Reactors from 1978-1987

Changes in Death Rates in nine counties closest to North Anna Nuclear Plant after startup of reactors

- Dominion Nuclear North Anna: Info on early site permit for 2 new nuclear power plants at North Anna in Louisa Co., VA