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Link between cancer and nuclear waste storage facility aces? Working group reviews increased cancer rate.
The working group convened by the Wolfenbüttel district, the state of Lower Saxony and the federal government has apparently made first progress in clarifying the increased number of cancer cases in the vicinity of the Asse nuclear waste storage facility.
Last year, the Lower Saxony Epidemiological Cancer Registry (EKN) reported 39 cancers in the entire municipality of Asse. In men, leukemia was disproportionately high in women, and thyroid cancer was reported, the EKN reported. An immediately convened working group with representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Environment, the Epidemiological Cancer Register of Lower Saxony (EKN), the State Health Office and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection has since been busy examining a possible connection between the increased cancer rate and the dilapidated Asse nuclear waste storage facility.
Working group for cancer education
The working group had sent 164 questionnaires via the health department to clarify the increased number of cancer cases in the entire municipality of Asse, of which 143 were returned. These are now to be evaluated at the next meeting of the working group on March 9th. In the questionnaires, the people concerned provided information about their jobs and where they lived, but also about personal cancer risk factors (e.g. cancer cases in the family). During the next working group meeting, advice was also given on possible further steps to clarify the increased cancer rate in the area of the Asse, said district administrator of the Wolfenbüttel district, Jörg Röhmann (SPD). However, hardly any of those involved in the working group currently believe in a statistical accident, as announced by the German government after the increased cancer rate was announced last year.
Unusually many cancers in the area of the Asse With 39 cancers in the entire municipality of Asse, an unusually large number of cancer cases have occurred near the dilapidated nuclear waste storage facility, the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Environment also confirmed. The experts from the medical organization IPPNW ("International Doctors for the Prevention of Nuclear War / Doctors with Social Responsibility eV") described the numbers as soon as they became known last year as "evidence for the causal relationship between ionizing radiation and an increased risk of cancer and leukemia" . Over 20 years ago, the frequent cases of leukemia (blood cancer) in children near the Krümmel nuclear power plant were discussed, but there were no consequences. Also in 2007, when scientists from the German Cancer Registry in Mainz showed that children up to four years of age are at greater risk of leukemia the closer they live to a nuclear power plant, the politicians also did not draw any consequences. At the time, the Mainz researchers of the German Cancer Registry said that a total of 37 children were suffering from leukemia within a radius of five kilometers from the German reactors in the period from 1980 to 2003, whereas "on average, (17) cases were expected". According to the experts from the German Cancer Registry three years ago, “about 20 new cases (…) can be attributed to living in this area alone”.
Link between Asse and cancer still unclear The critics have long criticized the potential risk posed by the Asse nuclear waste depot. The outcry was correspondingly high when the EKN announced its figures last year. Accordingly, the number of leukemia cases among men was more than twice as high as the national average, and among women, thyroid cancer cases had increased dramatically. The specially created working group should determine whether there is actually a connection between the increased cancer rate and the nuclear waste storage facility. On the basis of the 143 questionnaires received, the latter can now draw further conclusions and initiate the next steps to clarify a possible connection between the Asse nuclear waste storage facility and the cancer. However, this is an unsatisfactory situation for the population around the Aces, because it is not yet clear to them whether they are exposed to an increased risk of cancer on a daily basis. In addition, because of the intolerable conditions of the nuclear waste storage in the Asse, those responsible have already decided to retrieve the waste, but it is not yet clear when this will take place.
Federal Office for Radiation Protection sees no connection According to this, the business of the dilapidated nuclear waste warehouse continues. The persons responsible at the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), like the Federal Government, repeatedly point out that there is as yet no evidence for a connection between the aces and the frequent cancer cases. The answer to the study by the German Cancer Registry, in which an increased risk of leukemia near the nuclear power plants was found, was similar three years earlier. Both BfS and the black-yellow government coalition seem extremely keen to dispel any suspicions right from the start. The results of the working group to clarify the connection between the increased cancer rate and the nuclear waste storage facility can therefore be eagerly awaited. Although it is not yet clear which measures will be taken by those responsible, even if a connection is confirmed.
Asse salt mine unsuitable for storing nuclear waste Between 1967 and 1978, the former salt mine in Asse was officially used to store around 126,000 barrels of low and medium-level nuclear waste. However, it is now clear that significantly more nuclear waste has been stored than is recorded in the papers. Due to water ingress and insufficient storage conditions, environmental protection associations have long been warning of possible contamination of the groundwater and the risk of collapse. The Lower Saxony Environment Ministry also wants to close the dilapidated nuclear waste warehouse as soon as possible. But little has happened so far.
Revision of the cancer registry planned In order to be able to track down unusual accumulations of cancer cases such as in the area of the Asse in the future, the government coalition in Lower Saxony is currently working on the redesign of the nationwide cancer registry. Minister of Social Affairs Aygül Özkan (CDU) had announced the introduction of a general reporting requirement for cancer after the increased number of cancer cases in the entire municipality of Asse. Accordingly, a draft law should be available by June, although the FDP and CDU have not yet been entirely in agreement whether the patients may also object to the storage of personal data for data protection reasons. However, such a cancer registry only helps those affected if the consequences are also drawn. Anyone who categorically excludes a connection between increased cancer rates and risk factors such as nuclear power plants or nuclear waste storage facilities cannot contribute to the protection of the population with the help of an improved cancer registry. (fp)
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