Some 'downwinders' doubt Hanford study

RICHLAND, Wash., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A federal study concludes high rates of thyroid disease in towns near the Hanford nuclear reservation are not linked to the facility's iodine releases.

But the Tri-Cities Herald reports today that the Hanford Thyroid Disease study, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was questioned and rejected by many at a public meeting held Thursday.

Some questioned why the study's subjects only included people born in four counties from 1940 to 1946 and why people with thyroid problems were left out.

The Herald reported that one woman, Lavern Koutz of Ritzville, Wash., said her town averaged two deaths annually in the years before Hanford began to produce plutonium in 1944.

That average increased to eight cancer deaths annually several years after Hanford began operating. Currently, the town's cancer deaths average 13 a year, she said.

Lead researcher Scott Davis said the study focused on demographic groups believed to be at the highest risk. He said using people with thyroid problems outside of the test group would have skewed the study's statistical validity.

The choice of researchers conducting a peer review of the study was also called into question.

Jim Thomas of Seattle reportedly complained that one of the six medical experts, David Becker, is a defense expert in the long-running lawsuit that thousands of ``downwinders'' filed against several Hanford contractors, alleging Hanford's radioactive releases caused numerous health problems.

A CDC adviser said Becker was picked because he is one of the best experts in the field.