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Excerpt: "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing in the Federal Register today controversial new Protective Action Guides (PAGs) for responding to radioactive releases."

A nuclear power plant in South Carolina. (photo: Dunya News)
A nuclear power plant in South Carolina. (photo: Dunya News)

EPA Dramatically Weakens Radiation Protection

By Committee to Bridge the Gap

02 June 13


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing in the Federal Register today controversial new Protective Action Guides (PAGs) for responding to radioactive releases. EPA says it solicits public comment but is nonetheless making the PAGs immediately effective.

The new PAGs eliminate requirements to evacuate people in the face of high projected thyroid, skin, or lifetime whole body doses; recommend dumping radioactive waste in municipal garbage dumps not designed for such waste; propose five options for drinking water, which would dramatically increase the permitted concentrations of radioactivity in drinking water, by as much as 27,000 times, compared to EPA's current Safe Drinking Water Act limits; and suggest markedly relaxing long-term cleanup standards.

"In essence the government is now saying nuclear power accidents could produce such widespread contamination and produce such high radiation levels that the government should abandon efforts to clean it up and instead force people to live with radiation-induced cancer risks orders of magnitude higher than ever considered acceptable," said Daniel Hirsch, president of Committee to Bridge the Gap.

The PAGs are intended to guide the response to nuclear power reactor accidents (like Fukushima in Japan, Chernobyl in Ukraine and Three Mile Islandin the U.S.), "dirty bomb" explosions, radioactive releases from nuclear fuel and weapons facilities,and nuclear transportation accidents.

"EPA ignores the fact that women and kids are at even greater risk from radiation. The doses permitted by the 2013 EPA PAGs will allow indecent exposures to radiation," says Diane D'Arrigo of Nuclear Information and Resource Service. "Women are 50% more vulnerable than men and children are at even greater risk from radiation than adults, according to data from the National Academy of Sciences."

Extremely high food contamination levels would be allowed by the incorporation of Food and Drug Administration 1998 guidance. EPA officials had previously criticized those standards, saying that 1 in 50 people eating food at those levels would get cancer from their exposure, on top of our normal cancer risk.

The PAGs also incorporate and expand controversial Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) PAGs adopted in 2008 which would allow long-term doses as high as thousands of millirems per year without cleanup being required. Associated guidance for carrying out the long-term cleanup, prepared for DHS and for which the comment period expires today, recommends abandoning EPA's long-held cleanup standards and instead allowing people to be exposed to doses as high as the equivalent of three chest Xrays a day for one's entire life. Over 70 years, EPA estimates 1 in 6 people would get cancer from exposure that high, orders of magnitude higher risk than EPA has historically said is acceptable.

In addition, EPA admits that a nuclear power accident could far exceed the capacity of radioactive waste sites to manage waste generated from cleanups and therefore suggests allowing the waste to go to regular trashdumps, a fight the public has waged for decades in the US. your social media marketing partner


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+28 # tedrey 2013-06-02 09:40
The nuclear industry has already effectively protected itself against any legal or financial responsibility from accidents caused by its wholly outdated equipment and inadequate safeguards. Now the government is scrambling to trade lives for money in advance of the same looming disasters.
+11 # Vardoz 2013-06-02 11:31
Tell your reps no more bribes for lives!
-51 # brycenuc 2013-06-02 10:03
This reduction is long overdue. It has been known for decades that the level restrictions were unnecessarily and even irrationally restrictive. Many, many reliable studies have shown that effects of modest radiation levels are actually beneficial (the well-known hormesis effect), so the extreme restrictions have been harmful to health as well as unreasonably costly.
+21 # tedrey 2013-06-02 11:50
Sorry, brycenuc, what you claim is quite inaccurate.

"Consensus reports by the United States National Research Council and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) argue that there is no evidence for hormesis in humans and in the case of the National Research Council, that hormesis is outright rejected as a possibility."
Wikipedia: Radiation hormesis
+10 # Organizer 2013-06-02 13:04
OK Bryce, explain this quote from Puskin, 2009 (conveniently ignored in the recent mountain of papers claiming the superiority of hormesis over the linear no threshold model)

"Even the largest epidemiological studies lack the power to detect low-LET radiation risks unless the incremental dose above background is about 0.1 Gy or higher. Nevertheless, epidemiological studies of groups receiving fractionated or chronic exposures may shed light on risks at substantially lower doses. For example, studies have been carried out on scoliosis and TB patients (McLaughlin 1996), who received multiple diagnostic x-ray exposures of less than 10 mGy each, separated by more than a week. At these x-ray doses, no cell nucleus is traversed by more than a few radiation tracks during a single examination. As a consequence, the relevant DNA damage is expected to have been produced solely by single tracks. A positive dose response for cancer induction has been observed in both the scoliosis and TB patients. Moreover, the slope of the dose-response in the TB patients is remarkably consistent with that observed for breast cancer in the LSS (Howe and McLaughlin 1996). These results argue against an effective threshold—even at ~ 1 track per cell nucleus.

Hey, it's just one track per nucleus. No big deal, right? So my question for you Bryce is: Do you feel lucky?
+20 # baldeagleretired 2013-06-02 10:11
Another example of Corporations owning our congress and now the President. How much longer will we the sheeple put up with this?
+22 # Carol R 2013-06-02 10:39
This is atrocious! How high is the cost of doing nothing? I guess it saves the government money and you are on your own.

How corrupt is the EPA to allow such a ruling?
+22 # blizmo1 2013-06-02 11:02
Dan Hirsch and Committee to Bridge the Gap has led the fight against nuclear pollution and contamination for nearly 40 years; I know him well as the proponent for investigation and cleanup at LA's Santa Susana Field Lab, site of thenworld's first nuclear reactor and subsequent uncontained partial meltdown.

Decades of coverup, environmental devastation and "nuclear cowboy" behavior later -- my young family unknowingly moved next door to the site, where in 1995 Rockwell Inc was busted by the FBI for BURNING NUCLEAR AND CHEMICAL WASTE IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD, blowing up two of their scientists in the process.

2 weeks after Emperor Bush was appointed, the DOE launched its "Accelerated Cleanups"'progr am whereby they walked away from 280+ nuclear contaminated sites in the country.

We got the State of California to sue Boeing (the Lab's new owners) to prevent divestment of the property without proper cleanup -- twelve years later they're still dragging their feet, but they at least characterized the site...

My guess: Obama doesn't control this more than any president -- and the cynicism in the EPA = "we can't clean all this crap up, there's too much -- and more is coming, so all bets are off..."

+10 # Organizer 2013-06-02 11:23
This is unbelievable! Have any of these people ever watched a loved one die of cancer? For god's sake! Common decency tells us: It isn't OK to kill people with radiation poisoning! It doesn't matter whether their deaths occur this afternoon or 30 years from now. Where is Obama in all this? Where do I sign up, donate money, or whatever it takes to undo this outrage?
+6 # Vardoz 2013-06-02 11:28
One has to wonder if they are trying to the human irraicated race? Our food is poisined,our water and now this. The lunatics are in charge. Just imagine all those deforemed fetuses.
+11 # Adoregon 2013-06-02 11:46
All the world's a stage and we have front row seats to watch our species self-abort.

Buckle-up compadres, the ride is going to be bumpy.
+7 # davidh7426 2013-06-02 12:08
I know that the mandate of the EPA is to protect the environment, but from this article it would appear that their job description has been changed.

So would someone care to inform me as to the what it is that the EPA actually does ?!
+3 # davidh7426 2013-06-02 13:24
...apart that is, from claiming salaries under false pretences.
+9 # Vardoz 2013-06-02 12:13
The more corporations pollute the less accountable they become. When profits are the only thing that matters everything else falls by the wayside. They are clearly not capable of managing these toxic substances.
+2 # davidh7426 2013-06-02 13:52
Vardoz... The corporations are accountable, their accountable to the people of this world. But they've becomes so used to the peoples inaction that they've come to believe that they're untouchable, so much so that for the most part they've been ignoring the fact that the people are waking up.

And when they have noticed the people starting to stir, they've been relying on the rule of law to immobilise the people, but in doing so the corporations have forgotten one simple fact...


And the last time I looked, MOBS have a tendency to ignore the law, and mob-rule can be lethal if it focusses on you.
0 # terrison 2013-06-03 00:05
Quoting davidh7426:
Vardoz... The corporations are accountable, their accountable to the people...

And when they have noticed the people starting to stir, they've been relying on the rule of law to immobilise the people, but in doing so the corporations have forgotten one simple fact...


Um, I believe he meant that the more corporations pollute the planet, the less accountably they behave. That's how I read it, anyway.

It's a boundaries issue. Like an abusive husband (or wife!), the first time he hits you, will not be the last. After he crosses that boundary, it becomes easier and easier to let the rage fly. In fact, he will only expand his methods, crossing more boundaries into more and more dangerous territory. He will become more abusive, and will take less responsibility for his actions: she deserved it. she shouldn't have used that tone with him. The corporate response is: It's the government's fault, they shouldn't have required such expensive oversight, monitoring, clean-up, retrofits, and on and on.

Now the government is cowering like a terrorized abuse victim: ok, ok, I'll do anything you say, I'll change my standards. Just please don't wreck the economy again, Just please find me a place in your company when I leave my job here at the EPA.
+9 # Paul Scott 2013-06-02 12:46
The cheapest way to make something less dangerous is simply lower the danger level. This government is famous for this action.

The public is getting a dose of what the military got with Agent Orange. When things go wrong government doctors and scientist will just deny the reason to keep their paychecks and retirement. Most people do not have a clue as to how little it takes to keep mouths shut. All that radiation spewed out by those Japanese nuke reactors, or any other reactors, will be eatable when the EPA surveys are done.
+5 # C.Gill 2013-06-02 12:51
This will also facilitate metal contaminated by depleted uranium rounds to be recycled into consumer items. That new cast iron frying pan could be cooking your eggs without additional heat.
+2 # 666 2013-06-02 20:39
while your point is well taken, anyone who can't tell a cast iron frying pan from a lead-based /depleted uranium pan would be an idiot. Ooops, sorry Washington (DC), I guess that means you.
+8 # cafetomo 2013-06-02 13:34
Another win for cockroaches..
+4 # truthbug 2013-06-02 14:12
This story, like more and more in recent years, provides more and more argument that the country is dysfunctional, with no remedy possible. When this dysfunction reaches some unknown level, citizens will strike out. Although I can offer no scenario that could save the U.S. of America, I pray that someone else can see a way our. I give up on it.
+1 # PABLO DIABLO 2013-06-02 14:47
Elizabeth Warren for President 2016. Take back our government. Vote the leeches out, repeal Citizens United, boycott the corporations that are killing us, cut the military machine down to size. Wake up America.
+4 # She Cee 2013-06-02 15:14
I have read that there is some suggestion going around that depleted uranium rounds be recycled into consumer items.

Are these people totally mad?

People that support these kinds of ideas should be the guinea pigs checking for problems arising from these items.
+4 # BLBreck 2013-06-02 15:44
Ah,once again the bulk of the population is thrown under the bus. I hope our "leaders" enjoy dying horribly, but very rich, with us.
+2 # dovelane1 2013-06-03 03:20
I believe there is one underlying tendency that causes most of the problems we continue to encounter. It is the tendency for people in power to focus on the intentions behind their decisions, while ignoring, as much and as often as possible, the consequences of their decisions.

When the nuclear power industry first started up, their intention was to provide cheap energy. At the time, they assumed they would find a way to deal with the problem of the waste.

The main problem with this method of making decisions is that they rarely suffer any personal consequences that result from their decisions.

If, for instance, the people who built and profited from nuclear power plants ended up having to keep the waste in their back yard for the rest of their lives, and their kids lived, and their grandkids' live, do you think there is any way they would have built the power plants?

If the only consequence of their decisions is that the money keeps rolling in, what motivation is there for these people to change their decisions?

At some point in time, the people who made these decisions, have to be judged by the consequences of their decisions, and not by their intentions. I believe that is when these people will start to change their decisions, and I doubt anything will change until that happens.
+1 # novadust 2013-06-03 05:14
how about providing links to new PAGs? i couldn't find anything the article describes. are u sure u got it right?
0 # blizmo1 2013-06-04 01:09
Quoting novadust:
how about providing links to new PAGs? i couldn't find anything the article describes. are u sure u got it right?

Try these -- sounds like what the article refers to: (from EPA):


2). "Visit our web page to learn more and download the PAG Manual:

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