Public Meeting to be Held to Announce Burke County Study Findings Mar 26, 2024News

Please join BREDL for a public meeting March 28 at 4 p.m. at Burke County Library to discuss a new report on death rates in Burke County, GA following the startup of the Alvin Vogtle Nuclear Plant. The report was written by the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) with funding from a grant which BREDL received from Center for Health Environment and Justice (CHEJ) last September. 

The RPHP report finds that: 

  • The death rate in Burke County, GA, which was 19% above the U.S. death rate before Vogtle 1 and 2 nuclear reactors began operation in the late 1980s, has since increased to 35% above the U.S. death rate.
  • This change resulted in 1,223 excess deaths in Burke County from 1988 to 2020. 
  • Death rates increased for both Black and Caucasian residents of Burke County and were largest for young and old residents. For example, the mortality rate for infants under age 1 in Burke County rose from 34% to 79% above the U.S. rate during the 32-year period studied. 
  • The county death rate from all cancers shifted from 7% below to 13% above the U.S. rate after Vogtle startup; 303 of Burke County’s 1,223 excess deaths were due to cancer. 

The report was authored by Joseph Mangano, who is an epidemiologist and Executive Director of the RPHP. Said Joe about the report’s findings, “Since the late 1980s, dramatic increases have occurred in Burke County death rates. Many factors can affect mortality, but adding two large nuclear reactors must be regarded as a major cause.” 

Lou Zeller, Strategic Advisor and former Executive Director of BREDL, has developed the following recommendations in response to the findings of the RPHP study. Lou’s recommendations were developed in coordination with Charles Utley, Chair, BREDL chapter, Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff: 

  1. Public leaders, especially health officials, should review this report and conduct further analysis of trends in Burke County health status. This analysis, along with others in this list, should be presented to the public for comment. 
  2. Further analyses should include assessments of environmental injustice and environmental racism in placing two nuclear power plants plus two more at Plant Vogtle. 
  3. Review the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to grant license extensions for Vogtle Units 1 and 2, which allow operation until 2047 and 2049, and revoke the extensions until it can be determined that Plant Vogtle emissions have not harmed the health of Burke County residents. 
  4. Assess the potential cumulative impacts posed by Plant Vogtle Units 1, 2, 3 and 4 and compare them with other sources of electricity now available, such as safe, economical solar and wind. 

Please join Burke County residents for a public meeting to discuss the findings of RPHP’s study on March 28 at 4 p.m. at the Burke County Library, 130 Highway 24 South, Waynesboro, GA. A presentation on the RPHP findings will be given by BREDL’s Strategic Advisor, Lou Zeller, followed by a session during which public comments will be received. Members of the press and general public are encouraged to attend the meeting, which will be sponsored by BREDL. Light refreshments will be served.