DAE rebuts media report on cancer deaths in nuclear hubs

Terming as a gross distortion of facts a media report about cancer causing 70 percent of deaths in India's atomic energy hubs, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) Friday said the incidence of cancer-related deaths among DAE employees is not higher than that "seen in other sectors of society".

New Delhi: Terming as a gross distortion of facts a media report about cancer causing 70 percent of deaths in India's atomic energy hubs, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) Friday said the incidence of cancer-related deaths among DAE employees is not higher than that "seen in other sectors of society".

"The number of deaths reported by DAE Units due to cancer-related causes is 152 out of 2,564 deaths over the period of 1995 to 2014. The actual number of deaths of employees due to cancer-related causes could be higher than 152, but this would in no case be anywhere near 2,600 cases, as being made out in the media report," the department said in a statement here.

"The media report seems to have got its numbers wrong, although it refers to the RTI (Right to Information) source," the statement added.

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

There is nothing abnormal about the average number of 130 deaths per year among their employees considering the DAE employees number nearly 60,000, while the annual death rate in India is reported to be 6 to 8 per 1000, the department said.

"The blatant attempt made by such malicious report to malign the DAE and cause considerable damage to the nuclear energy programme in the country in the long-run needs strong condemnation," DAE said.

"It is very unfortunate that a section of the media not only published such a completely misleading report without carrying out necessary and sufficient verification of all facts and figures. DAE had countered in June 2010 similar erroneous media reports on cancer deaths and suicides," it added.