Nuclear Rate Shock

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Whether in terms of electricity costs or incidence of cancers among workers, nuclear power plants and nuclear facilities were responsible for a lot of rate shock.

One third of all Americans — about 35 million families — are in for “rate shock,” says a study released by the Environmental Action Foundation. Although more than 100 U.S. nuclear plants have been canceled in recent years, 49 are still in various stages of construction. When they’re completed, the study estimates, Americans will be jolted by a total first-year increase in their electric bills of $25 billion.

Meanwhile, disturbingly high cancer rates among employees at federal nuclear facilities have been discovered in 9 out of 12 Department of Energy (DOE) project-summary studies. Workers (including janitors, laborers, and construction personnel) at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have a 49% higher leukemia mortality rate than the U.S. average. Those employed at the Oak Ridge uranium processing plant from 1943 to 1947 had significantly higher lung cancer rates and higher-than-average fatalities from Hodgkin’s disease, and cancer of the lungs, brain, and central nervous system were reported among employees at the Oak Ridge weapons plant. A 36% higher digestive cancer rate was found at the government’s uranium processing plant at Fernald, Ohio. And a 1976 study conducted by DuPont revealed a 60% excess incidence of lung cancer and a 114% higher-than-average leukemia rate at the Savannah River plant.