Children living near nuclear power stations are far more likely to
suffer leukaemia - cancers of the blood or bone marrow - than those
living far away, a study funded by the German government has found,
officials disclosed Saturday.
Government radiation specialists said they could not explain the
finding, since there was no direct radiation from the 16 German plants,
which are all scheduled for closure by 2022.
The study was paid for by the German Federal Radiation Protection
Agency BfS, the government's main adviser on nuclear health.
It was conducted by the German Register of Child Cancer, an office
in Mainz which is funded by the 16 German states and the Federal Health
The study found that 37 children had come down with leukaemia in the
period between 1980 and 2003 while having home addresses within 5
kilometres of nuclear power plants. The statistical average for Germany
would have predicted just 17 cases in that group.
More research needed
Statistically, the 20 extra cases could be associated with living
close to the plants, but the BfS said more research was needed to
discover if the presence of reactors was actually the cause of the
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the government
radiation safety committee would analyse the findings.
BfS said current science held that radiation from reactors
themselves or their emissions was too weak outside the perimeter to
cause cancer, and other conceivable risk factors also could "not
explain this distance-related heightening of risk."
Germany generates more than 20 000 megawatts of electricity through
nuclear power annually, around a quarter of its needs.
Despite broad public opposition to the plants, some German officials
have suggested giving nuclear power a reprieve in order to reduce
climate-damaging emissions from fossil fuels. – (Sapa-dpa)
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