by Ryan Schuessler @RyanSchuessler1 April 29, 2015 5:00AM ET
Karen Nickel had never even heard of lupus before she was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease six years ago. Today she says she takes as many as 18 pills a day — “and that’s just to make me feel OK.”
Read part one of three part series.
“This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace,” said Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) Executive Director Jeff Ruch, This week, the White House approved a radical radiation cleanup rollback that will threaten people near radioactive accidents. Cancer deaths are expected to skyrocket after radiological accidents with the harmful new “cleanup” standard.
“The White House has given final approval for dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following “radiological incidents,” such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs. The final version, slated for Federal Register publication is a win for the nuclear industry which seeks what its proponents call a “new normal” for radiation exposure among the U.S population, according Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, the radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) allow cleanup many times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These guides govern evacuations, shelter-in-place orders, food restrictions and other actions following a wide range of “radiological emergencies.” The Obama administration blocked a version of these PAGs from going into effect during its first days in office. The version given approval late last Friday is substantially similar to those proposed under Bush but duck some of the most controversial aspects:
In soil, the PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems. This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period; In water, the PAGs punt on an exact new standard and EPA “continues to seek input on this.” But the thrust of the PAGs is to give on-site authorities much greater “flexibility” in setting aside established limits; and resolves an internal fight inside EPA between nuclear versus public health specialists in favor of the former. The PAGs are the product of Gina McCarthy, the assistant administrator for air and radiation whose nomination to serve as EPA Administrator is taken up this week by the Senate.
Despite the years-long internal fight, this is the first public official display of these guides. This takes place as Japan grapples with these same issues in the two years following its Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace. If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the EPA package lacks a cogent rationale, is largely impenetrable and hinges on a series of euphemistic “weasel words.” “No compelling justification is offered for increasing the cancer deaths of Americans innocently exposed to corporate miscalculations several hundred-fold.”
Reportedly, the PAGs had been approved last fall but their publication was held until after the presidential election. The rationale for timing their release right before McCarthy’s confirmation hearing is unclear. Since the PAGs guide agency decision-making and do not formally set standards or repeal statutory requirements, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and Superfund, they will go into full effect following a short public comment period. Nonetheless, the PAGs will likely determine what actions take place on the ground in the days, weeks, months and, in some cases, years following a radiological emergency. “
For more information, go to http://www.peer.org/news/news-releases/2013/04/08/white-house-approves-radical-radiation-cleanup-rollback/
Why isn’t this front page news! Are people really still questioning Climate Change’s impacts? I’m in shock! The sea water . . . the ocean is too warm to cool the reactors, it’s not even believable. I only believe it because the huge energy corporations would never shut a reactor down unless they had too. Waterford, CT is not alone, a number of reactors across the country have been temporarily shut down in the past few days for safety reasons.
In Waterford, Conn., a reactor at the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant was shut down because the water in Long Island Sound was too warm to cool it. According to the reactor’s safety rules, the cooling water can be no higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant has three reactors. The first began operation in 1970 and is now retired. The third was still running yesterday, but engineers have been monitoring the temperature in case that one also needs to be shut down. Temperatures this summer are the warmest we’ve had since operations began here at Millstone,” Dominion spokesman Ken Holt said (Matthew Wald, New York Times, Aug. 13).
At the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in southern Maryland, operators shut down one of the site’s two reactors because a control rod unexpectedly dropped into the reactor core on Sunday.
The plant’s staff is fixing the malfunction, said Kory Raftery, spokesman for operator Constellation Energy Nuclear Group.
Control rods are used to limit the fission taking place among a reactor’s fuel rods. An unplanned insertion of a control rod into a reactor core can “create an imbalance in the fissioning and pose challenges for reactor operators,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said. It happens infrequently at U.S. nuclear plants, he said (Timothy Wheeler, Baltimore Sun, Aug. 13).
The Palisades Nuclear Generating Station in Covert Township, Mich., was taken offline after officials discovered a “very small, very minor” cooling water leak. The leak, which has been monitored by officials for a month, is being repaired inside a containment building at the plant. No radioactive materials were released, spokesman Mark Savage said Sunday. “Palisades is taking this conservative measure at this time because of our unrelenting commitment and focus on nuclear safety,” he said in a release. “Palisades will be returned to service when repairs are completed.”