• Germany's news in English

Cancer spikes around Asse nuke dump

The Local · 26 Nov 2010, 11:38

Published: 26 Nov 2010 11:38 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) was forced on Friday to issue a statement saying monitoring of the soil and crops had shown “that at the present point in time, there is no danger from the Asse (dump) either for workers or for the public.”

The news came as the upper house of parliament, or Bundesrat, signed off the ruling coalition government’s plan to extend the lifespans of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants by an average of 12 years. It is now up to President Christian Wulff to approve the controversial law, which has triggered protests across the country.

The former government led by Social Democrat Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had set in place the phase-out of nuclear power, with all 17 plants to close by around 2022, but the new law means the last plant will not close until at least 2036.

In lengthy overnight negotiations, Chancellor Merkel also overcame objections from state leaders from her own Christian Democrats party to her planned nuclear energy tax. The conservative premiers eventually agreed to back the tax, which is expected to yield €2.3 billion a year - of which the states will get a share.

It emerged on Thursday that the number of leukaemia cases in the area surrounding the Asse dump had risen. Between 2002 and 2009, there were 18 cases of leukaemia – cancer of the blood or bone marrow – according to figures confirmed by Wolfenbüttel district authorities.

Men in the area have twice the rate of leukaemia cases as the rest of Germany. Among women, there was a tripling of the rate of thyroid cancer between 2002 and 2009.

Stefan Schostok, head of the opposition Social Democrats’ parliamentary group in the state, told daily Bild: “The numbers are a shock. The discussion about the ramshackle nuclear storage site has taken on a new dimension since Thursday.”

Stefan Wenzel, head of the environmentalist Greens’ parliamentary group, told the paper: “We have feared such a development and are calling for an honest explanation. The question is, how long has the state government known about these shocking numbers?”

But according to the “current scientific and technical readings,” there was no evidence of a connection between emissions from the operations at Asse and illnesses in the population, a BfS spokesman said. A recent analysis of ground and crop tests revealed that there was no danger in the area around Asse.

After it took charge of the Asse dump last year, the BfS established comprehensive radiation protection and monitoring measures, including underground measurements and checks to see whether there was any way for radiation to seep out.

The Asse dump near the town of Wolfenbüttel is used to store weak and medium-level radioactive waste from medicine as well as atomic power plants. Since 1978, some 126,000 barrels of the waste have been stored there.

Owing to a danger that the mine in which the barrels are stored could collapse or be flooded, the BfS is planning to remove the waste.

Story continues below…

Meanwhile the Bundesrat effectively let the new nuclear extension law through without objection on Friday. The opposition Social Democrats plan to challenge the law in the Constitutional Court.

And nuclear energy opponents in Wendland have refused to meet with Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen during his visit next week to the controversial Gorleben nuclear dump site – which was the scene of massive protests earlier this month.

“Röttgen is coming too late,” the BI Lüchow-Dannenberg group said in a statement, adding that they saw no point in a discussion.

DAPD/The Local/dw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:05 November 26, 2010 by iseedaftpeople
Authorities insisted, my ass...

They know what's going on... evil bastards...
14:10 November 26, 2010 by biker hotel harz
I spent an interesting 2 hours down the Konrad Shackt two weeks ago where we were assured by the authorities that there is absolutely no chance of anything remotely nasty happening.

That's alright then :-)
15:04 November 26, 2010 by AusHessen
Don't believe any government they are corrupt and give a darn thing about us. It's called politics as usual. Instead to work for the people they work for big corporation.
15:05 November 26, 2010 by Simon_Kellett
Reminds me of clusters of leukaemia here:

15:26 November 26, 2010 by cyclingtech
It might help if the drums were stacked properly, rather than tipping the into a pit, or is the picture not related?
16:11 November 26, 2010 by neilcraig
Radiation, at low levels is not only not harmful it is beneficial. This has been proven repeatedly, the process is known as hormesis, but there are a lot of political careers tied up in promoting the scare.

Here is how the fraud is being done:

"Men in the area have twice the rate of leukaemia cases as the rest of Germany. Among women, there was a tripling of the rate of thyroid cancer between 2002 and 2009."

Sounds bad but whenever somebody tells tou the proportion always ask about the basic numbers. In this case the total number is 18.

Thats 9 men & women. So "twice the rate of leukemia is in men 4.5 people (probably 4). The article doesn't say if there is any increase in women for leukemia so i think it is fair to bet there aren't - insterad the article focuses on another illness, which presumably men don't share. This is just cherry picking data. These illnesses are random, this year it may be 4 more, next year it is equally likely to be 4 less but of you go through all the possible groups & all the possible diseases for all the possible years you are bound to get an outlier. If you toss 50 coins in a row you will probably get 6 heads or tales in a row & it is nothing to do with radiation or God.

But false scare stories sell papers.
00:56 November 29, 2010 by deutschamer
Very good points neilcraig. Discussion of numbers without a discussion of statistical significance means nothing.

I know absolutely nothing about the study, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were other kinds of cancer that went down in the local area.

Though I have no knowledge of the study, an article that does not discuss the statistical significance tells me nothing. Even if there is a statistical significance, that still says nothing about cause and effect. There are probably plenty of other locations with statistically higher levels of cancer that are not near a nuclear waste site.
Today's headlines
After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Eurowings union threatens cabin crew strike for Thursday
Photo: DPA.

A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will start as of Thursday if ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd