Government Considering Increasing Public Exposure to Radiation

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KARL GROSSMAN, kgrossman at hamptons.com

Professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, Grossman is author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power and The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. He just wrote the piece “‘Radiation is Good for You!’ and Other Tall Tales of the Nuclear Industry.”

The piece states: “The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering a move to eliminate the ‘Linear No-Threshold’ (LNT) basis of radiation protection that the U.S. has used for decades and replace it with the ‘radiation hormesis’ theory — which holds that low doses of radioactivity are good for people.

“‘The change is being pushed by a group of pro-nuclear fanatics — there is really no other way to describe them,’ charges the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) based near Washington, D.C.

“’If implemented, the hormesis model would result in needless death and misery,’ says Michael Mariotte, NIRS president. The current U.S. requirement that nuclear plant operators reduce exposures to the public to ‘as low as reasonably achievable’ would be ‘tossed out the window. Emergency planning zones would be significantly reduced or abolished entirely. Instead of being forced to spend money to limit radiation releases, nuclear utilities could pocket greater profits. In addition, adoption of the radiation model by the NRC would throw the entire government’s radiation protection rules into disarray, since other agencies, like the EPA, also rely on the LNT model.'”

Grossman notes the work of various advocates of increased radiation exposure by the public: “Dr. T. D. Luckey — a biochemistry professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia and visiting scientist at Argonne National Laboratory … authored the book Hormesis and Ionizing Radiation and Radiation Hormesis and numerous articles. … A 2011 story in the St. Louis Post Dispatchquoted Dr. Luckey as saying ‘if we get more radiation, we’d live a more healthful life.’”

Grossman notes the scientific consensus runs totally counter to this: “As chair of the BEIR [Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation] VII committee, Dr. Richard Monson, associate dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, said in 2005 on issuance of its report: ‘The scientific research base shows that there is no threshold of exposure below which low levels of ionizing radiation can be demonstrated to be harmless or beneficial.’

“A European expert on radioactivity, Dr. Ian Fairlie, who as an official in the British government worked on radiation risks and has been a consultant on radiation matters to the European Parliament and other government entities, has presented detailed comments to the NRC on the petitions that it drop LNT and adopt the hormesis theory.

“Dr. Fairlie says ‘the scientific evidence for the LNT is plentiful, powerful and persuasive.’ He summarizes many studies done in Europe and the United States including BEIR VII. As to the petitions to the NRC, ‘my conclusion is that they do not merit serious consideration.’ They ‘appear to be based on preconceptions or even ideology, rather than the scientific evidence which points in the opposite direction.'”

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