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More epidemiological studies in the Nord-Cotentin

Press release

June 25, 2001

Department where COGEMA La Hague is located, will be published in the July 2001 issue of the "Journal of Epidemiology Community and Health."
This study will be presented publicly before the Special and Permanent Information Commission of La Hague on 28 June.

This new study adds data collected over a longer period (1978-1998) to the findings for the years 1993 to 1998, which were published in earlier studies. For the area within a 35 km radius from the La Hague plant, the frequency of leukemia observed among individuals under age 25 between 1978 and 1998 was not appreciably different from the forecast frequency: 38 cases observed and 36.93 cases forecast. In the area between 0 and 10 km from the facility, five cases were observed, a higher number than the 2.3 cases forecast.

The higher-than-average incidence was noted mainly among young people, ages 0 to 6, living in the canton of Beaumont-Hague. The small number of employees and the limited geographic area in question here lead to a cautious scientific interpretation of these results, which warrant continued monitoring of the incidence of leukemia in the region.

Professor Spira notes in his study that "it is very unlikely that exposure to radioactive discharge from the nuclear installations in Nord-Cotentin could cause a detectable increase in the incidence of leukemia in Beaumont-Hague." A study conducted by the Groupe Radioécologie Nord-Cotentin (a group of French and international experts, including representatives of activist groups, that is headed by Annie Sugier) pointed to a similar conclusion. It found that the low exposure to ionizing radiation of the population groups studied meant that the number of cases of leukemia occurring between 1978 and 1996 theoretically attributable to all local nuclear installations (EDF Flamanville, COGEMA-La Hague, CSM and DCN) was between 0 and 0.002.

The authors of the study noted in their conclusions that a correlation between population movements and leukemia of the same type as those observed in the canton of Beaumont-Hague had been seen in Britain. The hypothesis most often put forward to explain this phenomenon is viral transmission. The authors stress the need to make a more specific study of population movements in the Nord-Cotentin region (construction of EDF reactors at Flamanville between 1978 and 1986 and the major project at La Hague from 1982 to 1990), and they propose to continue epidemiological monitoring in the region.

Although the nuclear character of COGEMA's activities does not appear to be the cause of the observed results, COGEMA is concerned with controlling the impact of its activities, regardless of their nature, on people and the environment. It accordingly supports all scientific initiatives that will add to our knowledge in this area.