jonathan | 28.02.2002 14:12
'' A government study estimating that about 15,000 Americans died from cancer as a result of Cold War nuclear fallout has been withheld from the public for nearly a year. The $1.85 million study, which occupied several top-notch scientists for two years, has been sitting in administrative limbo since early last summer while a host of local health officials, citizens groups and researchers have been clamoring to see it. "The process seems aimed at slowing down information release and minimizing the consequences," says Bob Schaeffer of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a coalition of local and national citizens groups.
The roots of the conflict stretch back to 1997, when the government first acknowledged that fallout from nuclear weapons trials at its Nevada Test Site had spread across much of the country. The admission came in the form of an initial study that focused on the spread of iodine-131, one of many radioactive elements in the fallout. That study estimated that the iodine had caused tens of thousands of thyroid cancers among people born after 1951, when the Nevada tests began. Because of the low fatality rate of thyroid cancer, it is estimated that about 2,500 of those cases were fatal.
But that study sat unreleased for years before it was issued in 1997. The delay sparked a congressional probe and a barrage of charges that federal officials had suppressed the iodine data.
The study also raised more questions than it answered: What about all the other radioactive elements in the fallout, many of which are longer-lived and more dangerous than the iodine? What about fallout from the many tests not done in Nevada, such as those in the former Soviet Union or the Pacific? What was the human toll?''
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