Nuclear power not just costly but also unsafe

Johanna Neumann cites the high cost of a new nuclear reactor as the major reason to not build one ("Let Calvert Cliffs 3 Die," October 14). But she also mentions that reactors are risky, and official statistics back her up.

Since the early 1980s, just after the two Calvert Cliffs reactors began operating, Calvert County's cancer death rate jumped from 2 percent below to 16 percent above the state rate. A lot of other factors are associated with cancer, but none are apparent in Calvert County. Its 90,000 residents have a high educational level, an above-average income and a low poverty rate, and few of them don't speak English. Radioactive emissions from the reactors should be considered as one reason that cancer rates are rising.

Large amounts of over 100 radioactive chemicals — only found in nuclear reactors and atomic bombs — are created in reactors. Most is stored as waste, but some must be released into local air and water on a routine basis. These cancer-causing chemicals enter human bodies through breathing, food and water.

Before building a new nuclear reactor, officials should thoroughly review how much radiation has been released from Calvert Cliffs and the effects on the health of local residents. Health risk is more important than cost.

Joseph J. Mangano, Ocean City, N.J.

The writer is executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project.

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