Study Claims Increase of Cancer Deaths in South Jersey County, PSEG Nuclear Responds

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For years controversy has swirled around whether or not nuclear plants may have an impact on the health of residents living nearby them. A recent study supports claims that one such plant in Salem County could be at the root of rising cancer deaths in the area.

Right along the Delaware River sits PSEG Nuclear’s Salem-Hope Creek Nuclear Plants. A study released this week from the Radiation and Public Health Report says the plant could be a reason Salem County is seeing an uptick in cancer deaths.

“The study looked at cancer rates, and what we found is that in the 1960s, '70s and early '80s that the Salem County cancer death rate was pretty much the same, maybe a little less than the state rate,” says Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project.

But according to the study, that trend soon began to change.

“Beginning in the mid-'80s, the county rate began to climb and steadily go up until now; it is 20-percent higher than the state rate," says Mangano. "In fact, it’s the county in the state with the second highest cancer death rates.”

The study says nuclear reactors can create more than 100 chemicals that are not found in nature. According to Mangano, three reactors opened at the plant in Salem County in 1976, 1980 and 1986.

“It could be many things, but we certainly know that nuclear reactors at Salem are new, and we certainly know that reactors release radiation," says Mangano. "And we know that radiation is cancer causing and it’s breathed and drank and eaten by local residents.”

When SNJ Today reached out to PSEG Nuclear, its spokesperson, Joe Delmar, provided the following statement:

“There’s no merit to Mangano’s claims. He has made similar claims across the country at other nuclear plants. Eight state departments of health have investigated his past claims and all eight states (Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Michigan) refused to validate them.

Mr. Mangano has made similar claims against us in the past. About a dozen years ago, the New Jersey Commission on Radiation Protection within the state Department of Environmental Protection questioned his research and methodology. This is a common refrain among the scientific research community with publications like Scientific American and Popular Mechanics also questioning his research and credibility.

PSEG Nuclear and its 1,600 employees at Salem and Hope Creek take our responsibility to protect the health and safety of the public seriously. This community isn’t just where we do business – it’s also our home. The safety of our employees and this community remain our number one priority.”

Mangano is hoping the study creates a dialogue between the company, the county health department and the public. 

SNJ Today is a Southern New Jersey news and information source that is dedicated to providing current stories related specifically to South Jersey.

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