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 doubled.

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 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