A study to determine the risks of cancer near nuclear power plants by federal nuclear energy regulators comes to an end.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which had hired the National Academy of Sciences to conduct the study, said that it determined that the cost and time of the second phase of its research would be too high given the agency's budget restraints.
"We're balancing the desire to provide updated answers on cancer risk with our responsibility to use congressionally-provided funds as wisely as possible. The NAS estimates it would be at least the end of the decade before they would possibly have answers for us, and the costs of completing the study were prohibitively high," said, Brian Sheron, director of the NRC's research office.
In 2010, NRC undertook the study and completed the first phase in 2012. The first phase resulted in recommendations for a second phase, which would focus on analyzing populations near six nuclear power plants to find cancer risks.
NRC staff detailed the decision to end the study in an August memo that the agency made public on September 8.
The study would take as long as 10 years at a cost of $8 million to complete and alternatives to the research plan should be explored.
Specific alternative for the study were not given by the NRC, but noted that commissioning an update to the National Cancer Institute's 1990 study on cancer risks from nuclear plants might be a more cost-effective option.
The 1990 study concluded that there is no increased risk of death from cancer for people living in counties near nuclear facilities.
Radiation exposure to the public from nuclear plants are as low as reasonably available and a small fraction of what federal standards mandate.