Appeals court rejects revived nuclear lawsuits

A federal appeals court has rejected attempts to revive dozens of lawsuits tying cancer cases to a former western Pennsylvania nuclear plant.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Wednesday upheld a previous ruling by the Western District of Pennsylvania pertaining to adefunct nuclear facility in Apollo, Armstrong County, The Legal Intelligencer reported.

A full copy of the court’s ruling was not immediately available through the court’s electronic filing system later Wednesday.

The Intelligencer reported that Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith agreed with the lower court that expert testimony presented in the case was insufficient to meet legal standards linking radiation exposure with illness and injuries.

According to a previous Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report, the site previously was used to manufacture fuel for commercial nuclear power plants and the Navy’s nuclear submarines, along with other purposes. Radioactive materials were buried there in the 1960s and ’70s, prior to the site’s closure in 1983, the paper reported.

The news comes as unrelated research recently suggested a possible link between the partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station 38 years ago and local thyroid cancer cases.

Researchers acknowledged that one limitation of the study is its small sample size, limited to tumor samples from patients treated for thyroid cancer at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Researchers said in May that an additional study will be necessary to determine whether the findings will be repeated in a larger sample including patients from other hospitals in the region.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com.

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