The last time cancer risks near nuclear plants was measured was in 1990. That was a study by the National Cancer Institute. Researchers then determined that health risks — if any — were too small to be measured. But more recent studies in Germany and France show that children who live near nuclear reactors have double the leukemia risk.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced plans Tuesday to launch a pilot epidemiological study of cancer risks near six nuclear power plants, including San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in north San Diego County. The commission is acting out of growing concern that using uranium to produce electricity may be dangerous even without accidents at nuclear plants.

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