German citizens living near nuclear waste dump experience high thyroid cancer rates

Newly published figures from the Lower Saxony, Germany state cancer registry show that in the area around Asse - the site of a nuclear waste dump - some cancer rates and thyroid problems are higher than normal.

Between 2002 and 2009, there were 12 cases of leukemia in the greater Asse region, which is twice the rate expected for men. While there was no significant increase in leukemia for women, their rate of thyroid cancer was three times as high as normal.

The government has not yet determined if the increase is related to the proximity to the nuclear waste site. A working group of representatives from Lower Saxony's environment, social and health ministries as well as the federal agency for radiation protection is set to meet over the next few weeks to take a closer look at the data.

Asse was originally a salt mine. Between 1967 and 1978, around 126,000 drums of waste were stored in the facility. It has recently been declared unstable because of a danger of collapse and water leaks, and is due to be emptied out and shut down.

About 44,670 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer this year, and approximately 1,690 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.