India denies huge cancer burden in atomic energy hubs

KudankulamNew Delhi (ISJ) ? Atomic Energy Department has denied, its establishments are causing cancer much higher than the national average. The clarification comes in the wake of reports in a section of the media that almost 70% of deaths during 1995-2015 in atomic energy hubs were caused by radiation induced cancer. The reports quoted information purportedly accessed by one Chetan Kothari of Mumbai through Right to Information Act.

"?.nothing can be farther from the truth, because this report does not reflects the information given by the Units of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to Shri Kothari," DAE clarified on Friday (Sept. 19).

"That the incidence of cancer-related deaths among DAE employees is similar to what is seen in other sectors of society is also borne out of a study conducted by the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) covering 22,224 DAE workers and their families at three major Indian nuclear installations (Tarapur, Kaiga and Kakrapar) between 1981 and 2012, which found that cancer accounted for 9% of all deaths in this population group," claimed DAE.

The total number of deaths of DAE employees in service over the period of 1995 to 2014 works out to 2564, which includes 69 cases of suicides (as against the report claiming 3887 deaths and 255 suicides), said an official release rebutting the media report. On the other hand, the actual number of deaths reported by DAE Units due to cancer-related causes is 152 out of the above 2564 deaths. The department admits, the actual number could be higher than this, as causes of deaths in all cases might not be available with it. However, it clarified such deaths in no case would be anywhere near 2600 as in the media report.

DAE said, the 'outlandish claim on the rate of cancer deaths and suicides among DAE employees seems to be based on grossly erroneous and distorted interpretation of the information provided by DAE Units in their response to the RTI query.' The agency said, some of its units could have given information on the number of its employees undergoing treatment for different types of illness or ailment has been recklessly counted as ?deaths of employees? and tabulated for circulation.

DAE claims, considering the number of employees working in its establishment ? close to 60,000, the average number of deaths of employees of about 130 per year is nothing abnormal, as even the annual death rate in India is reported to be 6 to 8 per 1000.

It further said, such reports are a deliberate attempt to 'malign the DAE and cause considerable damage to the nuclear energy programme in the country'.

Source: PIB

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