Is Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant Causing Cancer In Toledo?


Could a Davis-Besse nuclear power plant that has been shut down before for non-radioactive leaks be the cause of cancer in portions of the northwest Ohio, including Toledo.

Davis-Besse nuclear reactor (power plant) is located on Lake Erie in Oak Harbor, Ohio, 20 miles east of Toledo.

The reactor has been plagued with accidents and violations, starting even before it began operations.

Since November 2011, EPA has assessed 14 former dump sites, previously identified by state agencies, as part of an investigation into potential sources of contamination in eastern Sandusky County, Ohio.

Ohio health and environmental regulators have speculated the cause was environmental and may have come and gone — maybe a chemical from a factory or a dump that polluted the air or water.

Air and water samples have not revealed any concerns around the Whirlpool plant or the Vickery Environmental waste site just outside town, where hazardous chemicals are injected into rock a half-mile below ground.

And in September, investigators said they found no radiation from homes, schools, or industries to link to the illnesses, ruling out the Davis-Besse nuclear plant, about 20 miles from Clyde, and NASA’s former nuclear reactor near Sandusky as a possible source.

The late Dr. John Gofman, as both a physician and a physicist, was hired by the Atomic Energy Commission to investigate the effects of radiation on human beings. Dr. John Gofman estimated that there would be 32,000 additional cancer deaths a year from radiation released from nuclear power plants.  This estimate was based on around 20 nuclear power plants running at the time he did his research.  In the U.S., there now approximately 100 working nuclear power plants.  So multiply the 32,000 additional cancer deaths by 5 and that equates to 160,000 cancer deaths EVERY year just from the radiation released from nuclear power plants.

First In Operation In Ohio

Davis-Besse thus became the first atomic power plant to go into operation in Ohio, one of 67 operational plants in the United States.

The mighty atomic reactor at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station was brought to life at 5:29 p.m. Friday August 12, 1977.

At that precise moment engineers and physicists, huddled in the control room at the $540 million facility, completed a careful series of adjustments that permitted the start of the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in Davis-Besse’s atomic furnace-it’s nuclear reactor.

In physicists’ jargon, the reactor “went critical” as billions of atoms of uranium fissioned or split each second. This initial atom-busting liberated a quantity of neutrons suffient to split other uranium atoms in a fashion that will continue unaided, until intentionally halted.

Every time an atom of uranium-235 splits or fissions inside the reactor core, it releases two or three atomic particles called neutrons. These neutrons cause a chain reaction by smashing into other atoms of U-235, causing them to release neutrons. When the production of neutrons reaches a certain level, the fission reaction becomes self-sustaining.


It doesn’t take an accident for a nuclear power plant to release radioactivity into our air, water and soil. All it takes is the plant’s everyday routine operation, and federal regulations permit these radioactive releases. What you are not supposed to know:

  1. Radioactivity is measured in “curies.” A large medical center, with as many as 1000 laboratories in which radioactive materials are used, may have a combined inventory of only about two curies. In contrast, an average operating nuclear power reactor will have approximately 16 billion curies in its reactor core. This is the equivalent long-lived radioactivity of at least 1,000 Hiroshima bombs.
  2. A reactor’s fuel rods, pipes, tanks and valves can leak. Mechanical failure and human error can also cause leaks. As a nuclear plant ages, so does its equipment – and leaks generally increase.
  3. Some contaminated water is intentionally removed from the reactor vessel to reduce the amount of the radioactive and corrosive chemicals that damage valves and pipes. The water is filtered and then either recycled back into the cooling system or released into the environment
  4. A typical 1000-megawatt pressurized-water reactor (with a cooling tower) takes in 20,000 gallons of river, lake or ocean water per minute for cooling, circulates it through a 50-mile maze of pipes, returns 5,000 gallons per minute to the same body of water, and releases the remainder to the atmosphere as vapor. A 1000-megawatt reactor without a cooling tower takes in even more water–as much as one-half million gallons per minute. The discharge water is contaminated with radioactive elements in amounts that are not precisely known or knowable, but are biologically active.
  5. Some radioactive fission gases, stripped from the reactor cooling water, are contained in decay tanks for days before being released into the atmosphere through filtered rooftop vents. Some gases leak into the power plant buildings’ interiors and are released during periodic “purges” and “ventings.” These airborne gases contaminate not only the air, but also soil and water.
  6. Radioactive releases from a nuclear power reactor’s routine operation often are not fully detected or reported. Accidental releases may not be completely verified or documented.
  7. Accurate, economically-feasible filtering and monitoring technologies do not exist for some of the major reactor by-products, such as radioactive hydrogen (tritium) and noble gases, such as krypton and xenon. Some liquids and gases are retained in tanks so that the shorter-lived radioactive materials can break down before the batch is released to the environment.
  8. Government regulations allow radioactive water to be released to the environment containing “permissible” levels of contamination. Permissible does not mean safe. Detectors at reactors are set to allow contaminated water to be released, unfiltered, if below “permissible” legal levels.
  9. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission relies upon self-reporting and computer modeling from reactor operators to track radioactive releases and their projected dispersion. A significant portion of the environmental monitoring data is extrapolated – virtual, not real.
  10. Accurate accounting of all radioactive wastes released to the air, water and soil from the entire reactor fuel production system is simply not available. The system includes uranium mines and mills, chemical conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication plants, nuclear power reactors, and radioactive waste storage pools, casks, and trenches.
  11. Increasing economic pressures to reduce costs, due to the deregulation of the electric power industry, could further reduce the already unreliable monitoring and reporting of radioactive releases. Deferred maintenance can increase the radioactivity released – and the risks.
  12. Many of the reactor’s radioactive by-products continue giving off radioactive particles and rays for enormously long periods – described in terms of “half-lives.” A radioactive material gives off hazardous radiation for at least ten half-lives. One of the radioactive isotopes of iodine (iodine- 129) has a half-life of 16 million years; technetium-99 = 211,000 years; and plutonium-239 = 24,000 years. Xenon-135, a noble gas, decays into cesium-135, an isotope with a 2.3 million-year half-life.
  13. It is scientifically established that low-level radiation damages tissues, cells, DNA and other vital molecules – causing programmed cell death (apoptosis), genetic mutations, cancers, leukemia, birth defects, and reproductive, immune and endocrine system disorders.

Breast cancer map using US Government data

A 100-mile radius from nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons labs as the location of 2/3 of all breast cancer deaths in the United States from 1985-89.



High-risk counties within 100 miles of nuclear reactors where 2/3 of breast cancer deaths occurred 1985-1989. Source: J. Gould, The Enemy Within: The High Cost of Living Near Nuclear Reactors, Four Walls Eight Windows, NY/London (1996), p.187.
Right – Nuclear power plant locations in the U.S. Source: “The Madness of Nuclear Energy”, The Ecologist, Vol. 29 No. 7, November 1999, back cover.


  • In 1972 a strong wind caused lake water to flood the construction site for a month.
  • Davis-Besse has had six “significant accident sequence precursors” out of 34 total in the U.S.
  • In Oct. 1977 a pilot operated relief valve stuck open in an incident almost identical to the cause of the 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island (TMI). Had the NRC asked all similar pressurized water reactors to correct this problem, the TMI incident could have been avoided.
  • In June 1985 a potentially catastrophic 12-minute loss-of-coolant event idled the plant for more than a year. The NRC referred to the accident as the worst since Three Mile Island.
  • A direct hit by a tornado in 1998 caused complete loss of outside electric power and destroyed the alert, communication and emergency systems and threatened a meltdown.
  • In 2002 a delayed inspection found that boric acid had eaten through 7 inches of the steel reactor lid, with only a bulging 3/16-inch steel liner preventing a radioactive catastrophe. A photo was found, taken earlier, that showed major corrosion on the outside of the vessel, but this was ignored. This “Hole-InThe-Head” fiasco resulted in the largest fine in NRC history – $33.5 million. The plant was idled for 2 years, costing ratepayers $600 million.
  • In 2003 First Energy’s failure to trim trees along transmission lines caused the second largest power outage in our history, the Northeast Blackout that impacted 55 million Americans and Canadians.
  • The reactor head was replaced twice due to cracking.

According to NETC, the average CPM for Toledo, Ohio is ABOVE NORMAL levels.


According to the Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center, local Beta radiation levels in Toledo, OH is “typically” 33 CPM.

The monitoring system, known as RadNet, is the nation’s comprehensive network for monitoring radioactivity and ionizing radiation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Current RadNet Monitoring System


HUMAN EXPOSURE: Exposure to barium can occur through the air, water or food. Another source of barium is nuclear fallout.

For fission of uranium-235, the predominant radioactive fission products include isotopes of iodine, caesium, strontium, xenon and barium.

In the case of a release of radioactivity from a power reactor or used fuel, only some elements are released; as a result, the isotopic signature of the radioactivity is very different from an open air nuclear detonation, where all the fission products are dispersed.

People are in and around Toledo going about their daily affairs would be completely unaware of the sudden surge of radiation.


What happened in Cleveland, Ohio

Got radioactive milk? Cleveland Ohio USA. Looking at data from US EPA from 1978 to 2013. What happened in 1990 thou?

NRC FOIA documents regarding Davis-Besse shield building cracking

On January 26, 2012, Beyond Nuclear filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) after NRC Region 3 Acting Administrator, Cynthia Pedersen, refused to provide documents about her decision to approve the rushed re-start at Davis-Besse, despite “unique” cracking of its concrete containment shield building.

In mid-June, 2012, NRC at long last began to respond to the FOIA request (the response is still not complete). Following are links to NRC’s FOIA response, APPENDIX B: (PREVIOUSLY UN-RELEASED) RECORDS BEING RELEASED IN THEIR ENTIRETY documents, cited in Beyond Nuclear and environmental coalition allies’ 5th supplement to its cracked concrete containment contention, in opposition to Davis-Besse’s 20 year license extension, before NRC’s Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board (ASLB):

In a surprise revelation to the NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safety in September, 2015, First Energy admitted under questioning that they plan to submit a License Amendment Request (LAR) to keep the reactor running with a shield building that falls outside of structural design criteria. The coalition of intervenors has vowed to oppose an LAR, which should have been submitted when First Energy first revealed the building cracking in 2011.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday renewed the operating license of the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor near Toledo for another 20 years.

A Toledo-area teen is getting national attention for her battle with cancer and her fighting spirit.


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