Veteran anti-nuclear power activist Nancy Burton (of Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone [Nuclear Power Plant]) has launched an innovative way for mothers to get involved in investigating possible risks from the technology. Burton and friends have launched the Connecticut-based Mother's Milk Project, supported by Rock the Reactors.
The goal of the project is encouraging moms in Connecticut's Fairfield County and New York's Westchester and Rockland Counties to donate milk samples, so researchers can look for possible traces of strontium-90 and other radionuclides, which may be linked to the controversial Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in nearby Buchanan, New York.
Strontium-90 can form after radioactive krypton gas escapes from a nuclear power plant, then quickly decays in the environment to strontium-90. This falls to the ground in rain. It can enter human bodies through the water supply, direct inhalation or through the food supply (it can coat plants, which are then eaten by animals).
Since strontium-90 mimics calcium, it can be readily taken up by bones and teeth (and can appear in milk). It has been linked to bone cancer and leukemia, and is believed to pose the greatest risk to the young.
New York State and Indian Point's former owners previously tested livestock milk for strontium-90 at a farm that was about five miles from the plant, but after that farm closed in 1991 the program stopped. Entergy, Indian Point's current owner, does test animal milk in the vicinity of its Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. According to Burton, goat milk sampled 5.5 miles from the Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford, Conn. has tested high for strontium-90. She says the surrounding area has a high incidence of leukemia, early childhood mortality, miscarriage, bone cancer, childhood cancer and breast cancer.
There are 104 nuclear power plants in the U.S., although the Bush administration and others have been pushing hard to build more. Industry scientists have long said that living near these plants poses no increased risk of cancer or other problems, but NIMBY opposition is fierce, and many scientists and activists continue to point to data and correlations that are cause for concern.
For their part in learning more the Mother's Milk Project needs only a cup of breast milk, which will be divided into four parts: one for New York State, one for Entergy, one for an independent laboratory and one for safe keeping. The results will be kept anonymous, except being identified by town of residence. The goal is to build a database of information and ultimately to plot the findings on a map, with Indian Point at the center.
Learn more and sign up for participation here.
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