Mothers Milk Project



Indian Point Lapses in Radiation Monitoring:
Entergy cites “heavy work load” and “limited resources” for delays in repair

Seven instruments to measure Indian Point Nuclear Power Station’s radiation releases failed and were out of service for greater than 30-day periods during 2010, according to the plant’s annual radiation effluent monitoring report issued on April 22, 2011.

Several of the failed monitoring devices are located at critical pathways where airborne radioisotopes – byproducts of nuclear fission – are released into the environment.

The seven monitors are identified as the Unit 2 plant vent process flow rate indicator, Unit 3 primary water storage tank level instrument, two Unit 3 steam generator blowdown monitor, Unit 2 radioactive machine shop vent process flow meter, Unit 3 plant vent noble gas monitor and the Unit 1 stack vent noble gas monitor.

The Unit 1 stack vent is a pathway for release to the air of noble gases which decay to strontium-90 and strontium-89 and other radioisotopes. The report states:

“The monitor’s memory failed during calibration [on December 12, 2010]. After repair, an independent failure occurred with a non-required sub-channel that rendered the noble gas channel inoperable. Prioritization, high work load, limited resources, flooding in the work area, and an ongoing modification to retire the superfluous (troubling) channel combined to delay repairs, which are expected in April, 2011.”

The Unit 3 plant vent noble gas monitor is a pathway for release to the air of noble gases which decay to strontium-90 and strontium-89 and other radioisotopes. The report states:

“This backup plant vent monitor’s detector required repair. Due to the primary instrument being in service and unaffected, a high work load, and limited resources, repair and recalibration of the [device] was given secondary prioritization.”

A Unit 3 steam generator blowdown monitor became inoperative on November 8, 2010 and remained inoperative into the new year. The report states:

“Difficulty in accessing and repairing the [faulty] valve [that led to disabling of the monitor] drove a decision to leave this line isolated until the upcoming refueling outage.”

A second Unit 3 steam generator blowdown monitor was out of service for 33 days. The report states:

“The control room lost communication with monitor in the field. Continuous work to repair was not possible, due to prioritization established with high work load and limited resources. Because it could not be worked continuously, multiple teams were used to troubleshoot. The complexity of the system and lack of continuity of repair teams challenged timely resolution . . .”

The Unit 2 plant vent process flow rate indicator was out of service from October 2009 until March 28, 2011 - a total of 18 months.

The Unit 3 primary water storage tank level instrument was out of service from mid-December 2009 to January 21, 2010 due to a succession of failures, including failure of a freeze protection strip heater, failure of a new instrument, and a calibration failure.

The report does not identify radiation effluent monitoring equipment failure that lasted fewer than 30 continuous days.


Dr. Louise Reiss, Pioneer Who Exposed Levels of Strontium-90
in Baby Teeth from Atomic Fallout

The Mothers Milk Project honors Dr. Louise Reiss, who directed the study of hundreds of thousands of baby teeth for strontium-90 levels during the period of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s. Her pioneering work help bring about a ban of nuclear testing in the atmosphere.

Dr. Reiss died on January 1, 2011 at age 90.

Her obituary appears here in The New York Times:

Dr. Reiss’ study led to conclusions that radioactive fallout from nuclear fission was entering the food supply and being taken up by the bones and teeth of human babies.

Strontium-90, a byproduct of nuclear fission from bombs as well as nuclear power plants, mimics calcium in its chemical properties and is a carcinogen.

The study found that children born in St. Louis in 1963 had 50 times as much strontium-90 in their teeth as children born in 1950, before most of the atmospheric nuclear testing occurred.

Her work is being carried on by the Radiation and Public Health Project.

RPHP executive director Joseph Mangano published results of a new study last month in The International Journal of Health Services.

The study found that donors of teeth from the original project who died of cancer by age 50 had more than twice the average strontium-90 levels of donors who were healthy at age 50.

The finding suggests a correlation between higher levels of strontium-90 and an increased cancer risk.

January 11, 2010, Indian Point Unit 2 tripped

Indian Point nuclear plant officials say amount of radioactive steam released was 'Insignificant'

That cloud spewing out of the Indian Point nuclear plant last month wasn't a smoke signal - it was radioactive steam.
For two days starting Nov. 2, an estimated 600,000 gallons of boiling, radioactive water escaped through a valve that was stuck open in the Unit 2 reactor of the nuclear power plant in Westchester.
The superheated water instantly turned to steam and spread out over the lower Hudson Valley in a cloud containing tritium, a cancer-causing radioactive isotope.
A spokesman for plant operator Entergy said the company wasn't concerned about the amount of radioactivity released into the atmosphere.
"The steam was from a non-radioactive secondary system," said spokesman Jerry Nappi, "that contains slight amounts of tritium and is insignificant."
The accidental release, however, prompted an inspection from the regional office of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
According to NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan, the commission ordered a report from Entergy that is due within 60 days. The report will detail exactly what happened during the steam release.
"We will be documenting our own findings in an inspection report covering plant activities for the fourth quarter of 2009. It will be due out in late January," said Sheehan.
According to Kevin Mangan, a senior NRC inspector on site at Indian Point, the water was highly pressurized at 750 pounds per square inch before it jettisoned for about 42 hours.
It took two days for plant owner Entergy to realize the valve was leaking before the plant automatically shut down.
Although Entergy officials dismissed the seriousness of the incident, operations at the plant were abruptly halted for four days.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a test of several emergency sirens that warn of an accident at Indian Point performed poorly, according to the NRC.
There are 172 sirens within 10 miles of the Buchanan based plant, and 37 of them failed to respond to a radio signal.
The new $30 million emergency siren system was installed last year to alert some 300,000 residents living within a 10 mile radius if the plant has an accident.
According to the NRC, in Wednesday's test, one out of every 16 sirens in Putnam County failed, rating the utility company's performance at 78%. The NRC requires a 90% average for emergency siren tests.
The last test for the Indian Point sirens was in October, when all the sirens scored perfectly.
Entergy has applied to the NRC for a new operating license that would keep its two reactors running for an additional 20 years.
Indian Point earns about $1 million a day for Entergy.

New report shows newborn hypothyroidism rate near Indian Point is 92% above US
Dear Friends:This new report, which will be on our web site ( in a few days, shows the rate of hypothyroidism in newborns from Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester counties is 92% above the U.S. rate.This finding corresponds to the article released last week showing the thyroid cancer incidence rate is 66% above the U.S. in these counties.As usual, I encourage all of you to utilize this information in your efforts on the future of Indian Point. It is critical that the public and officials be aware of health risks posed by the plant.Best wishes,
Joseph Mangano, Executive Director
Radiation and Public Health Project
November 25, 2009Background Hypothyroidism and Radiation Exposure.
Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland marked by low levels of thyroid hormone (thyroxine) and high levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).For years, scientists have established a causal relationship between radiation exposure and hypothyroidism. In particular, radioactive iodine (which seeks out the thyroid gland, and destroys cells) is linked with the disease.Residents of the Marshall Islands were exposed to high levels of fallout from atomic bomb tests during the 1950s. Subsequent studies documented a number of Marshallese children with hypothyroidism, also known as cretinism. Because there was no treatment for the disease at the time, and because thyroid hormone is critical to physical and mental growth, these children often were dwarfs suffering from mental retardation.Low doses of radioactive iodine have also been linked with in high hypothyroidism rates. In the nine months after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, there were 9 cases of the disease among Pennsylvania newborns. Eight (8) of the 9 were babies born to the east (downwind) of the Three Mile Island plant.Screening Newborns for Hypothyroidism, and Rising Rates.
Hypothyroidism can be controlled by proper administration of thyroid hormone to the patient. Because of the vital role played by the thyroid gland in physical and mental development of the young, newborns have been screened for the disease for many years. The practice became widespread in the late 1970s with the invention of a technique that only requires drawing a single drop of blood from the baby?s heel.All 50 U.S. states now have mandatory newborn screening programs for a variety of disorders, including hypothyroidism. National rates have been rising during the past several decades. One recent medical journal article documented a 73% rise in the U.S. rate from 1987 to 2002. (1) This trend is parallel to the sharp increase in the U.S. thyroid cancer (all ages) rate, which rose 155% from 1980 to 2006. It is unclear whether the increase in newborn hypothyroidism is due to better detection or other factors.Hypothyroidism in Newborns Near Indian Point.
In New York State, mandatory screening for newborn hypothyroidism began in 1978. An article by administrators of the program showed that the state rate rose 138% from 1978 and 2005 (1).Because U.S. atomic bomb tests above the ground ceased in 1963, and all tests ceased in 1992, the only current source of environmental radioactive iodine is emissions from nuclear power plants. The oldest and largest plant in New York State is Indian Point. One reactor at the site ran from 1962-1974, while the other two started in 1973 and 1976.According to official records maintained by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Indian Point emitted the 5th highest amount of airborne radioactive iodine of all U.S. nuclear plants from 1970-1993. The Indian Point total of 17.5 curies exceeds the official total of 14.2 released during the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. (2)Four New York counties flank Indian Point, and nearly all residents of these counties live within 20 miles of Indian Point. The New York State Newborn Screening Program provided numbers of newborn hypothyroidism cases for each of these counties for each year between 1997 and 2007. Table 1 presents rates of newborn hypothyroidism for these counties compared to the United States.Table 1
Newborn Hypothyroidism Rates
Counties Closest to Indian Point vs. U.S.
1997-2007 1997-2007 Cases/
Area Cases Live Births 100,000 % vs. U.S.
Orange County 33 54,908 60.10 + 40.7
Putnam County 9 12,577 71.56 + 67.5
Rockland County 45 49,001 91.83 +115.0*
Westchester County 121 136,632 88.55 +107.3*4 COUNTIES, 1997-2007 208 253,118 82.18 + 92.4*
4 COUNTIES, 2005-2007 73 68,019 107.32 +151.2*U.S., 2001-2005 8569 20,060,577 42.72 -----* Significantly different from the U.S. at p<.05Sources: National Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center, (national cases). Missing Kentucky 2001 data, Alabama 2003 data, Tennessee 2005 data. New York State Department of Health Newborn Screening Program (local cases). U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (live births). Cases represent confirmed cases of primary hypothyroidism in newborns.Results show that the 1997-2007 four-county newborn hypothyroidism rate was 92.4% greater, or nearly double, the U.S. rate, based on 208 confirmed cases in the 11-year period. Each county?s rate exceeds the national rate, and both Rockland and Westchester rates were more than double the U.S.. The highest rates are in the most recent years; the 2005-2007 local rate was 151.4% above the U.S.Conclusions.
Rates of newborn hypothyroidism in counties closest to the Indian Point nuclear plant are roughly double the U.S. rate. While many factors may account for this pattern, none are obvious. The fact that Indian Point has released more radioactive iodine into the air than most U.S. nuclear plants suggests that these releases may represent one causal factor.Results are consistent with the recent journal article showing the local rate of thyroid cancer is 66% greater than the U.S. rate. (3) Exposure to radioactive iodine raises risk of both thyroid cancer and hypothyroidism.As the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission considers a proposal to extend the Indian Point licenses for 20 years, it is important that information such as local rates of newborn hypothyroidism be made available to the public and to decision makers.

1. Katherine B. Harris and Kenneth A. Pass. Increase in congenital hypothyroidism in New York State and in the United States. Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, Volume 94, Issue 1, May 2008, p. 140.2. J. Tichler, K. Doty, and K. Lucadamo. Radioactive Materials Released from Nuclear Power Plants, 1993 Report. NUREG/CR-2907. Upton NY: Brookhaven National Laboratory, 1995. Nuclear plants with highest 1970-1993 airborne emissions of Iodine-131 and particulates are Dresden IL (97.22 curies), Oyster Creek NJ (77.05), Millstone CT (32.80), Quad Cities IL (26.95), and Indian Point NY (17.50).3. Joseph J. Mangano. Geographic Variations in U.S. Thyroid Cancer Incidence and a Cluster Near Nuclear Reactors in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. International Journal of Health Services, Volume 39, Issue 4, October 2009, pp. 643-661.
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For immediate release Contact Joseph Mangano 609-399-4343 Sharon Cunningham 647-477-5672

June 3, 2009 – A fast, inexpensive test that determines elevated thyroid stimulating hormone, an indcator that the thyroid gland may be under stress, will be available at a public event later this month. The ThyroChek testing program will examine if persons living near the Indian Point nuclear plant have higher than normal levels of TSH.

The test uses a drop of blood from a finger stick to determine whether the level of thyroid stimulating hormone is normal, in just 10 minutes. The test will be available at the Clearwater Festival in Croton-on-Hudson the weekend of June 20-21. Screening Devices Canada, which manufactures the FDA regulated test in California, will have professional staff available to explain the importance of thyroid health, administer the test, and provide results on the spot. The cost is $10.

The information from the two day testing program may provide information on whether emissions from the Indian Point nuclear reactors are affecting the thyroid glands of people who live in the vicinity. The percent of tests indicating elevated TSH in local residents will be compared with results of other populations living far from reactors. Indian Point produces and emits radioactive iodine particles; when they enter the body, they attack thyroid cells, leading to cancer and other problems like hypothyroidism.

“ThyroChek is an easy way to study a serious public health issue,” says Joseph Mangano, Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project. He adds there are no standard screening programs for thyroid health in the U.S., even though the rate of thyroid cancer has nearly tripled since 1980. Experts believe that hypothyroidism rates have soared as well. No single blood test can determine thyroid cancer but a TSH test may be used to evaluate the thyroid's activity and test for hypothyroidism, a common disease of the thyroid. There are about 30 million Americans with hypothyroidism, a disease that if not detected and treated may lead to cardiac disease, reproductive issues, mental health concerns, obesity and a variety of autoimmune diseases.

Official statistics indicate that the 2001-2005 thyroid cancer rate in counties closest to Indian Point are nearly double the U.S., and among the highest in the nation. The annual U.S. rate of 8.9 per 100,000 persons is exceeded in Rockland, Putnam, Orange, and Westchester Counties (18.3, 18.0, 16.6, and 12.6, or 106%, 102%, 87%, and 42% higher). About 300 residents in these counties are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year.

"As a local family practice physician, I see a high number of people with thyroid disorders," says Susanne Saltzman MD. "When I discovered that nuclear power plants routinely emit radioactive iodine, which damages thyroid tissue, I became very concerned that Indian Point might be contributing to the higher rates of thyroid problems in the Hudson River Valley. Studies must be done to evaluate health effects of living near and downwind from Indian Point."

Sharon Cunningham, president of Screening Devices Canada welcomes the opportunity to test at the Clearwater Festival. “By providing results on the spot, we will be able to educate on the importance of thyroid health and how the environment can affect it. More about thyroid health testing can be obtained from the company’s website,

Mangano says RPHP, which is a New York-based research group, plans to analyze the data, and announce results in the near future. More information on the Clearwater Festival is available at

Mothers Milk Project Launched to Sample Human and Dairy Milk
Within 50 Miles of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Station

For Release June 5, 2008/12 noon
Contact: Nancy Burton Tel. 203-938-3952/Cell203-545-9252 email:

Breastfeeding mothers from three counties surrounding the Indian Point Nuclear Power Station joined a press conference today to announce creation of the Mothers Milk Project to sample human and dairy milk within 50 miles of Indian Point in Buchanan, New York.
It is believed to be the first project to systematically sample human milk from mothers living near a nuclear power plant to detect the presence of radioactive contaminants released by the plant.
During routine operations, Indian Point is designed to release fission byproducts into the air and water. One such radionuclide, krypton, rapidly decays to strontium-90, a beta particle which mimics calcium in its chemical composition. Strontium-90 is readily absorbed in bone tissue and teeth. With a half-life (decay period) of 30 years, it disrupts nearby cells and is known to cause leukemia, bone cancer, diseases of the immune system and cancers of soft tissues such as breast and lung. Children and developing babies are especially vulnerable to its effects.
Indian Point once had a program to sample dairy cow milk from a farm located within five miles of the plant, but abandoned the program in 1991 when the farm ceased to milk cows. New York State stopped its own monitoring for dairy milk near Indian Point at the same time.
Entergy, Indian Point's owner, conducts sampling for evidence of radioactive contamination in the environment but in its annual reports filed with federal and state regulators it states:
"There are no animals producing milk for human consumption within five miles of Indian Point."
"Entergy has been overlooking a critical animal subspecies: women who breastfeed their babies within five miles of Indian Point and beyond," said Nancy Burton, co-founder of Mothers Milk Project.
"Our project will shine a light on this never-before sampled population," Burton said.
Burton announced the formation of Mothers Milk Project with co-founder Gail Merrill at Merrill's home in New Canaan, Connecticut.
The Mothers Milk Project will collect samples of breast milk - as well as cow and goat milk - within a 50-mile radius of Indian Point. Since emails were circulated during the past week, dozens of breastfeeding women, from Brooklyn to Tarrytown NY, have responded with offers to have their milk sampled.
The Project will collect 8-ounce samples monthly and divide them into four parts: one for the New York State Department of Health, one for Entergy, one for the Project's independent laboratory and one to be retained by the Project for possible re-testing.
The Project has appealed to the New York Department of Health to resume its own milk sampling program near Indian Point and has been informed the matter is under consideration.
The project also contacted Entergy to request it resume milk sampling but Entergy has not responded.
Entergy does carry out a milk-sampling program at four dairy farms located near Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station near near Brattleboro, Vermont.
"If Entergy can sample cow's milk in Vermont, why not human milk near Indian Point with its population of 22 million people within 50 miles of the plant," queried Merrill.
Each breastfeeding donor will be asked to complete a simple confidential questionnaire. Once results are received, they will be plotted on a map and used to create a database for future comparison. The Project will also sample for traces of Iodine-131, a carcinogen which disrupts thyroid and endocrine function.
Burton said she was motivated to launch the Mothers Milk Project because of her work as Director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, a nuclear power plant near New London, Connecticut.
Poring over environmental reports filed by Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc., Millstone's owner, Burton learned that Dominion sampled goat milk 5.5 north of Millstone and detected high concentrations of strontium-90 in the goat milk in 2001 and at other times.
Goat milk is considered a reliable indicator for the presence of radionuclides. Also joining the press conference were a lactating goat, Cindy-Lu, and her kids, Hannah and Henry, who will be part of the Project.
"Breatfeeding mothers and others are entitled to know if harmful radioactive effluents are entering our milk supply," Burton said.
"We believe 'breast is best' and our babies should be protected from insidious contaminants," she added.
Note to Editors: The Mothers Milk Project press conference will take place on Thursday, June 5, at 12 noon at 227 Silvermine Road in New Canaan, Connecticut.