Page 17


$3.00 $27.50 $62.50 $112.50 $200.00 1 copy 10 copies 25 copies 50 copies 100 copies REMEMBER THE PEOPLE’S SENATOR Senator Ralph Yarborough built a legacy that progressives everywhere can hold dear, and the Texas Observer gathered a group of memories to honor the past and challenge the future. Contributors: Sarge Carleton, Molly Ivins, Ronnie Dugger, Judge William Wayne Justice, Jim Hightower, Larry Goodwyn, David Richards, Bernard Rapoport, Dave Shapiro and Lars Eighner. Now you can collect the Texas Observer’s commemorative issue remembering Ralph Yarborough. Get a copy for yourself; give copies to friends. Send one to Lloyd Bentsen. PLUS: Loman in Iowa, Debbie Nathan on Satan, Dagoberto Gilb on Borneo, James Gal & Galbraith on Greenspan’s Cronies: Keating, lielms, Ayn Rand / /; Please send me copies of the Texas Observer’s February 23, 1996 issue remembering Ralph Yarborough. Name Address igi’ City State Zip Send check with this ad to: Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th Street, Austin, TX 78701. To subscribe to the Texas Observer, 1990-94 periodat rates much higher than the previous five years, and higher than statewide statistics of the same types. An increase in the number of birth defects in the , region presents an equally troubling picture. For the years 1985 through 1989, there was an average of nineteen birth defects a year recorded in the four-county region. From 1990 through 1994, that average increased to thirty-seven birth defects, an increase of 94 percent. Statewide, meanwhile, there was a 9.55 percent decrease in birth defects during the same period. In the four counties, twelve babies born between 1992 and 1994 have Down’s Syndrome, according to health department data and reports published in the Fort Worth Star -Telegram. That is almost twice the normally expected ratio of one per thousand for the six thousand seven hundred live births recorded for the region between 1992 and 1994. Hood, with five confirmed cases for one thousand one hundred fifty-five live births, and Somervell with one for two hundred five births, have ratios five times the expected rate. \(There has also been a sixteen percent jump in low birth-weight babies for the years 1990-94, while live births destate Health Department, citing unreliable reporting for earlier years, are reluctant to comment on the rate of birth defects in the area. The state’s epidemiologists at the Cancer Registry -have been equally cautious when commenting on the increases in cancers in the region, arguing that studies need to be conducted over a longer period before conclusions can be drawn. OULD, A STATISTICIAN, finds the rise in cancers near the Comanche Peak plant significant, but not surprising. He and radiation health physicist Sternglass have long heldbased on their studies of the health of communities downwind of nuclear test sites and other nuclear facilities, as well as the years of fallout from atmospheric testingthat damage to the immune system by the continuing assault of low-level radiation leads to early onset of cancers and other immune system diseases. Their latest studies, which cover the years from 1950 through 1989, have found that the incidence of breast cancer among women who live near nuclear power plants has increased at a much greater rate than the national norm. In their forthcoming book The Enemy Within: The High Cost of Living Near Nuclear Reactors \(scheduled for rethat their data confirm that breast cancer, while on the rise everywhere, is increasing faster among women who live in counties near nuclear facilities. For the female victims of breast cancer who live downwind of these facilities, the evidence of increased cancers as a result of low-level radiation is very convincing. At least two state health studies, both done in the late 1980s, one by the Massachusetts Department of Health, and one by Maine’s state health department, seem to support Gould and Sternglass’ conclusion. Both New England state health agencies have located clusters of cancers in populations living downwind of nuclear plants. In Massachusetts, an increase of childhood leukemia was four hundred times higher in towns downwind of one Massachussetts nuclear plant than in other communities of comparable size. Even the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has found the studies significant, calling the Massachusetts study “disquieting.” In Texas, however, health department personnel say the agency has no plans to look at the four-county region around Comanche Peak unless there are health complaints filed by local citizens. Government agencies will waitwhile researchers search for quantifiable proof in information that Boutros Boutros-Ghali warns “will always remain unquantifiable.” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9