[ RadSafe ] Comments on 'dirty bomb' and atomic bomb cleanup standards

Muckerheide, James jimm at WPI.EDU
Tue Nov 8 07:06:14 CST 2005



This is from the New York Times.  Last year DHS produced some rational, but
still conservative, preliminary dose limits for regulations for cleanup after
a 'dirty bomb,' although not explicitly for a nuclear detonation.  Of course,
the LNT-mafia in the Federal agencies took violent exception.  There were
indications that proposed regs were being pushed to adopt the highly
irresponsible EPA, DOE and NRC "cleanup" standards that are designed solely
to suck great gobs of money from the gullible public into their "radiation
protection" missions and contractors with NO public health or safety benefit.
After all, extreme industry standards are simply profit-generating
opportunities to stick unnecessary costs to the ratepayer and taxpayer.


This article reports that revised "flexible" standards are to be published
shortly, and that have already been reported in "Inside EPA."  Do you know
what was reported?   It seems rather disingenuous for McGaffigan to be
promulgating "reasonable" standards in the absence of initiatives to produce
responsible NRC standards.  Of course, if there were any real interest in
establishing standards that would reflect unwarranted costs, they could start
with the dishonest EPA, DOE and NRC cleanup standards, LLW disposal and Yucca
Mountain standards, and radium-in-water standards that are now costing $100s
of millions in U.S. cities and towns at 4 mrem/year, which would cost nothing
at 16 mrem/year, but God forbid there would be such a "missed opportunity" to
extract more public funds in the name of radiation protection!


Regards, Jim Muckerheide



Agency Seeks Broad Standard for 'Dirty Bomb' Exposure 


Published: November 8, 2005

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 - The Homeland Security Department, preparing advice on
responding to a "dirty bomb" attack, has concluded that cities and states
should take into account the cost of abandoning or cleaning up contaminated
areas when deciding how much exposure to radiation is acceptable. 

The goal of writing "protective action guidelines" that do not set fixed
numerical standards for acceptable radiation exposure is to "balance
protection with other important factors," according to the advance text of
the advice.

In contrast, the federal government has established precise standards for
radiation exposure involving workers in industrial settings and people who
live near hazardous waste dumps or nuclear power plants, whether operating or

A copy of the proposed text, which the department plans to publish in the
next few weeks in The Federal Register, was first published by Inside EPA, a
trade magazine. Government officials confirmed its central points on Monday.

According to the text, if terrorists detonate a nuclear bomb or simply spread
radioactive material in the United States, they could overwhelm the nation's
ability to clean up the contamination or shelter all of the people who would
have to evacuate.

The department plans to take comments for 60 days after publication, but the
guidance would go into force immediately upon publication. 

One official who was involved in writing the guidance, Edward McGaffigan Jr.,
a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said adopting overly strict
rules "only aids and abets Al Qaeda or any other terrorists."

When nuclear power plants are decommissioned, Mr. McGaffigan said, their
owners must clean them up to the extent that the potential dose of radiation
to a member of the public each year is equivalent to the amount of
environmental radiation that the average person is exposed to in two or three

Some sites have been cleaned up to a standard of 15 millirem per year. But,
Mr. McGaffigan said, people who work in some buildings made of granite,
including the United States Capitol, are exposed to substantially higher
doses than that. "You don't raze buildings if they have to be as hot as the
Capitol is," he said, pointing out that workers there absorb 100 millirem a

The new guidance calls for balancing the public health risk against the value
of a highway or crucial transportation structure or of a high-profile place.
It also encourages state and local officials to show flexibility. 

People who oppose nuclear power argue that the new guidance is part of an
effort by the government to loosen health protections so the industry can
more easily build new reactors and dispose of its waste.

Officials say that in the days or weeks after an attack with a dirty bomb,
which is a conventional explosive with radioactive material added to it,
officials at all levels of government and members of the public will discuss
what standards to use. 

Government officials involved in drafting the document said it filled a gap
in the existing regulatory framework, which set the limits on waste dumps and
power plants. The federal government already offers some guidance on
acceptable exposure for emergency personnel during an attack, but not on what
standards to use later, when the contamination would be cleaned up and
decisions made about reopening areas that had been sealed off. 

After officials simulated a dirty bomb attack in a five-day exercise in
Seattle in May 2003, they concluded that one problem was a lack of planning
for long-term cleanup.

Mr. McGaffigan said representatives of different federal agencies
participating in the drill gave varying advice to the mayor about what had to
be done before the affected area could be reoccupied.

The new federal guidance is also meant to apply to a recovery after a nuclear


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