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Child leukemia and nuclear power plants

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

The International Journal on Cancer, published in its January 2012 magazine a new study from France, establishing a very clear correlation between the frequency of acute childhood leukemia and proximity to nuclear power stations. It confirms the study conducted in Germany by the Cancer Registry in Mainz in 2008, which had reached the same conclusion.

This rigorous epidemiological study is called "Childhood leukemia around French nuclear power plants – the Geocap study, 2002-2007", and conducted by a team from INSERM (Institut national de la sante et de la recherche medicale),  IRSN (Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire) and the national child cancer registry of the hospital of Villejuif, demonstrates for the period 2002-2007 in France the doubling  of occurrence of childhood leukemia: the increase is up to 2.2 among children under 5 years.

This study again confirms an earlier German study (KiKK-Study Dec 2007) that the incidence of child leukemia more than doubles near nuclear power plants for children below the age 5 living within a 5 kilometer radius of nuclear power plants, compared to children living further then 20 kilometers from a nuclear power plant.

The nation wide study includes 2753 child leukemia cases diagnosed between 2002 and 2007 and a control group of 30,000. The addresses were geocoded around 19 nuclear power plants.

This is in line with a USA study by the National Academy Press, U.S., which argues that women and children are at significantly greater risk of suffering and dying from radiation-induced cancer than a man exposed to the same dose of ionizing radiation.

Current regulation of radiation and nuclear activity ignores the disproportionately greater harm to both women and children. Radiation harm includes not only cancer and leukemia, but reduced immunity and also reduced fertility, increases in other diseases including heart disease, birth defects including heart defects, other mutations.

Sascha Gabizon, international director of the Women's environment and health network WECF says "studies in Russia have shown that radioactive contamination of pregnant women in Chelyabinsk, Russia, lead to mutations of chromosomes, being transmitted into the 3rd and 4th generation of children". Gabizon: "victims of nuclear energy will never be compensated for, as the nuclear industry pays artificially low insurance costs, which means the tax-payer and future generations pay both economically as with their health. Nuclear energy is highly subsidized, the price of nuclear energy does not include the irreversible and long-term damage caused throughout the nuclear fuel cycle". In the light of these finding Gabizon calls for immediate measure for the protection of the population, especially small children, including legislation and support for resettlement of all families currently living in the vicinity of nuclear power plants.

WECF is a unique network of over 100 grassroots women and environment organizations worldwide, working in multi-sector partnerships demonstrating sustainable development alternatives at the local level, and sharing lessons learned and promoting sustainable policies at the global level.

For years, "Sortir du nucleaire" has seen the IRSN discrediting work in all epidemiological studies showing an impact of nuclear facilities on health. Sortir du nucleaire would therefore on this all too rare occasion like to congratulate the IRSN for participating in this epidemiological study. "Even in non-accidental situation, the proof is in the pudding -nuclear technology does not belong in a civilized world."

The study is available at:

Sources: Press release Reseau Sortir du nucleaire, 11 January 2012 / WECF press release, 17 January 2012 
Contact: Chantal Van den Bossche, WECF press:
Email: chantal.vandenbossche[at]
Tel: +31 6 2812 9992