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Devastating Effects of U.S. Nuclear Development Continue to Grow


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12/5/2013
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In Apollo, Pennsylvania, one woman continues the fight to force the U.S. government to take responsibility for the nuclear waste it left behind after numerous wars in the 1900s.  Patty Ameno has been working for over two decades to uncover classified information about the nuclear plant next to her childhood home and how the waste produced is continuing to affect the community.  Patty fought until Congress passed legislation requiring cleanup of the radioactive waste.  Before Patty's invovement, the government insisted that the waste could stay safely buried on the land; land which was used for community recreation for years.  Once the cleanup began, however, government officials quickly stopped communicating about the efforts, stating that the project needed to be classified as they had discovered extensive amounts of "complex material."  The cost of the cleanup is $500 million for the town of Apollo alone.  Across the country, the estimated cleanup bill for other nuclear waste sites is $350 billion. 

Patty's vigilence also was able to spark lawsuits that resulted in an $80 million settlement to cover various health problems that the citizens of Apollo continue to suffer.  The Pennsylvania Department of Health conducted studies that indicate a higher incidence of cancer for area residents.  Off-site contamination potentially contributes to these health concerns, and any residents living within one mile of the nuclear plants had an 11% increase of contracting a serious form of cancer or other illness.  Although the settlement will help many residents who suffer health problems related to radiation exposure, the fact that the cleanup is not completed remains an ongoing issue.  Due to unexpected obstacles with the cleanup, efforts have stalled for now and will not resume until 2015.  Even then, a thorough cleanup will take at least ten years.



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