Sunday, December 23, 2007
Families Decry Anti-Nuke Web Site
Kin of deceased listed on Internet say deaths not radiation-related
Lisa and Leonardo Blanco's 7-month-old son, Collin, died last year when his walker rolled down a driveway into a trailer towed by a pickup truck.
Margaret and David Beacham's daughter, Erin, died at 23 of bone cancer.
Fred and Dorothy Weaver are pursuing a medical malpractice claim over the death of their infant son, Damarius, who died the day he was born.
Lisa Blanco of Gales Ferry, Margaret Beacham of North Stonington and the lawyer representing the Weavers, who live in New London, said this past week that those deaths had nothing to do with radiation exposure from Millstone Power Station.
The Web site of an anti-nuclear group, www.MothballMillstone.org, had suggested these and three other deaths “may be linked” to such emissions. That segment of the Web site was taken down two weeks ago.
“It is fair to say that there is absolutely nothing I'm aware of that the loss of the Weaver's child has anything to do with Millstone,” said Lincoln Woodard of the Hartford law firm Moukawasher & Walsh. “It's certainly nothing to do with radiation.”
Until Dec. 5, the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone had listed six infants and young adults on its “Mothball Millstone” Web site as possible victims of radiation exposure from the nuclear power complex in Waterford. The section on the Web site was headlined “Where Have All the Children Gone? Are we allowing Millstone to kill our own?”
The material was removed from the Web site after another couple, Patrick and Channing Gauruder of Quaker Hill, complained. Evan Joel Gauruder, their son, died when the umbilical cord became wrapped around his neck.
The parents interviewed also say the coalition or its leader, Nancy Burton of Redding Ridge, did not notify them or seek permission to use their children's names on the Web site, and that they weren't aware their children's names had been posted there. The sixth set of parents could not be reached for comment.
One mother, Lisa Blanco, whose son died in a car accident, said that while she had been unaware of the posting regarding her son and appreciated being informed of it, she didn't mind that it was on the Mothball Millstone Web site.
Burton is suing the Gauruders, The Day and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal after the newspaper reported the Gauruders' experience and Blumenthal's comments on Dec. 15. She did not respond to a list of questions e-mailed to her for this story.
Burton says in legal papers filed last Monday that she had a First Amendment right to use information about the deaths, printed publicly last year in The Day's obituary section.
She took the step of posting on the Mothball Millstone Web site, she wrote, “in an effort to draw community, government and media attention to a perceived growing epidemic of early childhood mortalities and in the hope of marshaling government support to investigate any possible relation to Millstone's radiation release to the environment.”
Referring to the Gauruders' loss, the lawsuit continues: “Because the death of any child for other than accidental cause is a matter of general public concern within the society, and particularly where the death occurred within the ten-mile 'peak fatality' radius of a nuclear power plant and downwind of it, the untimely death is a matter of heightened public concern.”
Margaret Beacham said that although the information was publicly available, Burton should have sought permission to include her daughter's name on the Web site. She said she's still in mourning and “would have been very upset” if she had seen the section on the Web site before it was taken down. She also does not believe Erin's cancer was caused by Millstone emissions.
“I know (Burton) might think her cause is a good cause, but I feel Millstone is following federal regulations,” Beacham said. “I'm hoping they are and that's what I've been told from people who work there. Even though she meant well, it should not have been handled the way she handled it. I appreciate that she took the list off the Web site.”
Dominion, the company that owns Millstone, along with the state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal government, routinely monitors radiation emissions at the nuclear power complex. The company and agencies have claimed over time that levels are well below federal standards and pose no danger to the environment or public health.
According to Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, federal resident inspectors at Millstone “track daily events at the plant and would be aware of any releases exceeding allowable limits.”
The company also must file an “Effluent Release Report” every year that documents all releases to the environment during the previous calendar year. The NRC also conducts periodic inspections of the power station's “Radiological Environmental Monitoring Program” to ensure that it is working properly, Sheehan said.
Beacham and Kathleen Graham of Mystic, whose son Chris died of soft tissue sarcoma at age 23 and was also listed on the Web site, say they still have vivid memories of their children. Beacham said that is the way she wants to think of Erin, not as a victim of radiation exposure from Millstone.
“I don't want her to be remembered like that,” said Beacham. “She was a very happy young woman who lived her life to the fullest.”
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