County health department disputes findings in Diablo Canyon study
The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department has released a report Friday refuting the claims made in a recent report entitled “Report on Health Status of Residents in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties Living near the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Reactors Located in Avila Beach, California”. The Public Health report contests the claims that living near Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant increases the likelihood of low birth weight babies, childhood leukemia, and adult cancers.
“As the Health Officer for San Luis Obispo County, I take the health of our residents very seriously, and when a claim was made that excess cancer and infant mortality was occurring in our County, I made it an immediate priority to investigate further. However, upon examination of the report issued by the World Business Academy (WBA) of Santa Barbara, it became evident that flawed methodology and selective exclusion of populations of interest were used to achieve a result not consistent with standard scientific investigation and practice” states Dr. Penny Borenstein, Health Officer of San Luis Obispo County.
The Health Department report shows that selective inclusion and exclusion of zip codes in the analysis contributed to the alleged effects on birth weights claimed in the World Business Academy report. When the analysis was re-run to include excluded zip codes, the effect lessened or disappeared entirely.
As cancer is reported to the State of California, and not the local Health Department, the help of the State Cancer Registry was requested for review of the report findings. The State Cancer Registry examined the report, and found that the use of crude rates in analyzing cancer cases in the County distorted the true change in rates over time. In fact, age adjusted cancer rates have
remained unchanged or declined.
Health Status reports covering the topics discussed in the WBA report are released on an annual basis by both the State of California and San Luis Obispo County, and are available on the State and County website for review.
The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department report refuting the WBA study is available on their website, www.slopublichealth.org, or available by written or phone request.