Joseph Mangano 609-399-4343
Andrea Lieberman 631-726-5228
November 5, 2014 – The Long Island branch of Coalition Against Nukes (CAN) has started to track radiation in local air, following a series of recent safety concerns about the Millstone nuclear reactors in southeast Connecticut, just across the Long Island Sound.
Using hand-sized devices that measure airborne radiation levels, CAN is taking daily readings of radiation levels, while one of Millstone’s two reactors is going through mechanical repairs and removal of used radioactive fuel. Results are preliminary, but there has been a 14% rise in average radiation levels in eastern Suffolk County, about 20 miles from Millstone, in recent weeks.
“Citizens need to be involved to know potential hazards of radiation routinely emitted from nuclear reactors,” says CAN founder Priscilla Star of Montauk. “No monitoring of Long Island air is done by Millstone officials, even though the plant is as close as 11 miles from the island,” she adds.
CAN, formed in 2011 after the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, Japan, is among the growing number of citizen groups to use radiation counters. These devices are simple to use, and can easily be attached to a computer so minute-by-minute readings can automatically become a data file.
Millstone’s two reactors have been operating since the 1970s. The reactors produce enormous amounts of highly radioactive waste also found in atomic bomb explosions. Some is routinely released into the environment. Millstone had the 3rd highest emissions of any U.S. nuclear plant during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s for one type of radiation (air particulates that decay slowly).
When prevailing winds are from the north and northeast, radiation heads directly towards Long Island. These chemicals enter bodies through breathing and the food chain and may lead to cancer, birth defects, or other diseases.
Since this summer, public hearings in Connecticut have led state and federal regulators to increase monitoring of the Millstone plant. Jay Schneiderman, Suffolk County legislator from the 2nd District, has expressed concerns about Millstone releases, and effects on Long Island residents.
CAN is working with the Radiation and Public Health Project research group (RPHP), which has set up networks of citizen monitoring near nuclear plants in New York and New Jersey. CAN is hoping that Long Island citizens will contact it to form a similar group.
CAN and RPHP suspect radiation is one reason why Suffolk County cancer rates are so high. The county rate is 6th highest among 67 New York counties for all cancers combined, and also 6th highest for the most radiation-sensitive types of cancer (female breast and thyroid). The county rate has risen from 2% above the state in the late 1970s to 9% greater today.
Citizens of Long Island are encouraged to contact CAN or RPHP for more information.