[ RadSafe ] Oak Ridge workers have collected $600 million in sick benefits

Sandy Perle sandyfl at earthlink.net
Tue Feb 28 11:59:09 CST 2006

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Oak Ridge workers have collected $600 million in sick benefits 
Bush Blames Cuts at Energy Lab on Mix-Up
Report Profiles Nuclear-Plant Attackers
Colorado Residents Win $554M in Nuke Suit
NRC will focus on radiation-barrier rust
Radiation regulators being taken to court 
Radiation Technology Helps Food Industry
Security Issues Go Beyond Ports Flap
Energy Agency Waives Laboratory's Fines
Three Maryland researchers get NASA Mars grants totally $1M

Oak Ridge workers have collected $600 million in sick benefits 

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) -- Workers or surviving relatives at the Oak 
Ridge nuclear reservation have collected more than $600 million from 
a five-year-old federal program for those who became ill from 
exposure to radiation and other hazards at nuclear facilities.

Nationwide, the government has paid about $1.5 billion in benefits to 
thousands of sick nuclear weapons workers, according to a federal 
report issued earlier this month.
The figures for Tennessee workers and beneficiaries at the K-25 
facility, Y-12 weapons plant and Oak Ridge National Laboratory were 
obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor by The Knoxville News 

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program has 
been scrutinized following a report by The Associated Press that the 
Bush administration is taking steps to limit costs associated with 
the program.

The document obtained by AP was written by White House budget 
officials and sent to the Labor Department. It commended the 
department for "identifying the potential for a large expansion" of 
the program.

Then, it states that the White House will lead an interagency working 
group to develop ways "to contain growth in the costs of benefits" 
the program provides.

Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind. and chairman of a House Judiciary 
subcommittee, is holding a hearing Wednesday because of concerns 
about the White House's memo.

Also, an advisory board is to recommend in April whether workers at 
the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and other 
facilities in Colorado, Iowa and the Marshall Islands should be 
automatically compensated. They would get $150,000 plus medical 
benefits under the five-year-old program.

According to statistics through Feb. 26 examined by the newspaper, 
Oak Ridge claimants have received more than $515 million under "Part 
B" of the program, which provides compensation of $150,000 and 
medical expenses to workers with radiation-induced cancers or chronic 
beryllium disease.

Oak Ridge workers also have received more than $100 million through 
its "Part E."

Shirley White, manager of the Labor Department's Oak Ridge resource 
center, said the dollar amounts show more workers are benefiting from 
the program that has been criticized for moving too slowly.

"I think the fact that people are being paid is really a good thing," 
White said. "There are a lot of people who are still trying to get 
compensation, but I think it's important to know that it's worked for 
a lot of people. That's something I don't think a lot of people 

"The total lump sum is not indicative of the individuals and what 
they went through from the start of the Cold War," said Harry 
Williams, 60, a former K-25 worker who collected Part B funds for 
chronic beryllium disease and is working on a second claim for other 

"You're looking at a devastating, life-destroying insult," he said.

"I don't care if it goes to $200 billion. The country owes these 
people for the injuries sustained (in the nuclear workplace), just 
like they would every military veteran," Williams said.

Williams said the totals of benefits don't reflect the many workers 
whose applications have been rejected or whose benefits are still 
pending. Most Part E funds have not yet been awarded, with only 390 
claims paid from 3,621 applications so far

Bush Blames Cuts at Energy Lab on Mix-Up

GOLDEN, Colo. AP  (Feb. 21) - President Bush on Tuesday acknowledged 
that Washington has sent "mixed signals" to one of the nation's 
premiere labs studying renewable energies - by first laying off, then 
reinstating, 32 workers just before his visit.
The president blamed the conflicting message on an appropriations mix-
up in funding the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy 
Laboratory, which is developing the very renewable energy 
technologies the president is promoting.

"I recognize that there has been some interesting - let me say - 
mixed signals when it comes to funding," Bush said. "The issue, of 
course, is whether good intentions are met with actual dollars spent.

"Part of the issue we face, unfortunately, is that sometimes 
decisions made as the result of the appropriations process, may not 
end going to where it was supposed to have gone.

"We want you to know how important your work is," he said. "We 
appreciate what you're doing."

Two weeks ago, 32 workers, including eight researchers, were laid off 
at the lab.

Then, over the weekend, just before Bush's planned visit, the 
government restored the jobs.

His trip to the renewable energy laboratory is part of a two-day, 
three-state trip to promote the energy proposals Bush outlined in his 
State of the Union address.

At the direction of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, $5 million was 
transferred to the Midwest Research Institute, the operating 
contractor for the lab, to get the workers back on the job, the 
Energy Department announced Monday.

Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said the 
decision restores only $5 million of the $28 million budget shortfall 
at the lab that forced the layoffs.

"The $5 million stopped the bodies from going out the door, but it 
doesn't provide the money for the (renewable energy) programs," Clapp 

At the lab, where Bush was holding a panel discussion of his energy 
initiatives, the president saw tanks where agricultural waste is 
fermented into ethanol. He was shown samples of polar, switchgrass 
and corn stalks - material the lab is studying in hopes of developing 
a cost-effective way to use it to make ethanol.

"You're doing great work here," said Bush, who picked up a bottle of 
clear-colored ethanol and smelled it.

The president has proposed a 22 percent increase in funding for clean-
energy technology research at the Energy Department. He wants to 
change the way the nation fuels its vehicles and powers homes and 
businesses by focusing on nuclear, solar and wind power as well as 
better batteries to power hybrid-electric autos.

In 1985, three-quarters of the crude oil used in U.S. refineries came 
from America, Bush said Monday at a stop in Milwaukee at Johnson 
Controls, which is developing advanced batteries for hybrid-electric 
autos. Today, less than half the crude oil used in U.S. refineries is 
produced in America, while 60 percent comes from foreign countries, 
he said.

"Some of the nations we rely on for oil have unstable governments, or 
fundamental differences with the United States," Bush said. "These 
countries know we need their oil and that reduces influence. It 
creates a national security issue when we're held hostage for energy 
by foreign nations that may not like us."

Lab employee Tina Larney said that even though the jobs are being 
reinstated, she still questions the government's resolve in finding 
alternative energy sources.

"There is technology available now, there is the know-how now," 
Larney said. "What is lacking is leadership on the large scale at the 
national level."

The White House says Bush is providing that leadership. They say he 
wants to invest more in zero-emission, coal-fired plants, as well as 
support solar and wind research, promote cars that run on hydrogen, 
encourage more nuclear power plant construction and fund work to 
produce ethanol - not just from corn, but from wood chips and switch 

Critics of the Bush administration are skeptical of Bush's energy 

Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., co-chairman of the House Renewable Energy 
and Energy Efficiency Caucus, said the government has funded only one-
third of the money the 2005 energy bill authorized for renewable 
energy and energy efficiency.

Clapp claims the president is promoting renewables because polls show 
his job approval numbers are being weighed down by Americans' 
concerns about high utility bills this winter and the cost of 
gasoline at the pump.

Report Profiles Nuclear-Plant Attackers

WASHINGTON AP (Feb. 22) - A government defense plan for nuclear power 
plants assumes an attack would come from less than half the number of 
Sept. 11 hijackers and they wouldn't be armed with rocket-propelled 
grenades or other weapons often used by terrorists overseas.

Such assumptions, say critics of the largely classified security 
document, could make plants vulnerable to a terrorist takeover even 
though the industry has pumped more than $1.2 billion into defenses 
at its 64 reactor sites in 31 states since the al-Qaida attacks in 

Because of the sensitive nature of security issues, NRC officials 
declined in interviews to discuss specific details of the defense 
plan. They said the requirements, expected to be final later this 
year, will demand a level of security that is "reasonable" from a 
civilian guard force.

"I'm not going to get into numbers," said Michael Weber, deputy 
director of the NRC's office of security and incident response, who 
has been closely involved in developing the defense plan, known as 
the Design Basis Threat, or DBT.

Various sources, including congressional investigators, private 
watchdog groups and industry representatives with access to NRC 
officials, say the defense plan assumes an attack force of roughly 
double the number that had been used in government planning before 
the 9/11 attacks. Back then, plants were required to anticipate no 
more than four adversaries, including an "insider" accomplice.

Nineteen al-Qaida terrorists were involved the attacks on Sept. 11, 
2001 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The NRC "should require defenses against attacks ... by groups at 
least as large as that involved in the 9/11 attacks," attorneys 
general from seven states wrote the agency last year, expressing 
concern that the upgraded defense plan falls well short of that 

The states together have 31 of the nation's 103 commercial power 

"Instead of sizing the DBT on the actual threat, the NRC bases 
security standards on what the NRC, or perhaps the nuclear industry, 
believes a private guard force can be expected to handle," says Peter 
Stockton, a former security adviser at the Energy Department and now 
with the Project on Government Oversight, a private watchdog group.

Stockton said he has learned the commission rejected staff 
recommendations to require guard forces at reactors to be capable of 
defending against an attack force armed with a variety of weapons 
including rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), powerful "platter" 
explosive charges capable of penetrating six feet of concrete, 
homemade torpedoes, and .50-caliber armor piercing ammunition.

Those NRC decisions were confirmed by industry and congressional 
sources who are familiar with the deliberations on the defense plan 
but spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive 
nature of the details.

Stockton produced a declassified Energy Department training film for 
security at its nuclear sites that says such weapons are readily 
available to terrorists and suggests ways to defend against them.

"I can't discuss it," NRC spokesman Eliot Brenner said Wednesday, 
which also was the deadline for public comment on the defense plan.

Weber, the NRC security official, said detailed information about the 
size of a potential attack force or its firepower could be exploited 
by terrorists and therefore not discussed publicly.

But Weber acknowledged that the crafting of the DBT "takes into 
account not only what is the threat but what is reasonable for a 
private security force to protect against." The NRC assumes there 
could be a larger threat than outlined by the guard-force DBT, and 
that the defense plan includes provisions to get police and military 
reinforcements to a plant.

"If a larger threat shows up then the security force that's on site 
has to be able to hold that site long enough so the cavalry can 
respond," says Weber.

Government and industry officials have acknowledged, however, that in 
some cases it could be an hour or more before any substantial 
response force could be assembled and dispatched.

The defense plan takes into account the increased terrorist threat, 
the NRC says in outlining the declassified version of the plan. It 
requires a guard force to be prepared to defend against attacks from 
multiple directions including from water. It also assumes a possible 
suicide attack and larger truck bomb than envisioned in the pre-9/11 
document. It does not require plants to guard against an attack from 
the air.

The nuclear industry says most of the requirements already have been 
implemented and that nuclear power plants are much more secure than 
other potential terrorist targets such as chemical plants.

"We feel pretty good on balance that we have the right level or 
protection," says Steven Floyd, vice president for regulatory affairs 
at the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry lobbying group.

But he said in an interview, "Where do you draw the limit of what's 
the responsibility of the private sector and what's the 
responsibility of the federal government?"

"To be able to do what (some critics) are asking us to do we'd need 
our own army, navy and air force," said Floyd. The industry has long 
argued that its a government responsibility to protect against such 
threats as an air attack or a ground attack by a large, well armed 

"If you could pull that off and could put that force together they 
probably wouldn't attack nuclear power plant because they could just 
as easily attack a chemical plant" with much less security, argues 

As some of the weapons cited by Stockton, Floyd said, such attacks 
are unlikely. "We've never seen an RPGs used in this country."

Colorado Residents Win $554M in Nuke Suit

DENVER  AP (Feb. 15) - Two companies that ran the Rocky Flats nuclear 
weapons plant exposed neighbors to plutonium through their 
negligence, endangering people's health and contaminating their 
property, a federal jury concluded.

The jury recommended Dow Chemical Co. and the former Rockwell 
International Corp. be ordered to pay $553.9 million in damages, an 
amount that is likely to be lowered by the judge but still be in the 
hundreds of millions.

"This isn't a windfall, this is making up for what these people 
lost," said Bruce DeBoskey, an attorney who spent 12 years on the 

Dow said it would appeal.

Defense attorney David Bernick said the judge wrongly allowed some 
testimony, including claims that the Energy Department was a 
conspirator. He also questioned a juror's dismissal after 
deliberations had started and said the jury was allowed to award 
damages if it determined the companies were responsible for even one 
atom of plutonium on the plaintiffs' properties.

The lawsuit was filed in 1990 on behalf of 13,000 people, claiming 
the weapons plant contaminated neighboring land, lowering property 

The now-defunct plant made plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads 
for decades. The lawsuit claims the companies intentionally 
mishandled radioactive waste there and then tried to cover it up.

During the four-month trial, attorneys for the landowners presented a 
study showing higher rates of lung cancer near the plant. Bernick 
dismissed the cancer claims as "junk science," saying the study 
didn't indicate how long the patients had lived near Rocky Flats.

Jurors deliberated for 18 days before determining that the damage 
from the radioactive material might never go away. They concluded the 
two companies damaged private property around the site through 
negligence that caused "class members to be exposed to plutonium and 
(placed) them at some increased risk of health problems."

The verdict calls for punitive damages of $110.8 million against 
Midland, Mich.-based Dow Chemical, which operated the plant from the 
1950s until 1975; and $89.4 million against Milwaukee-based Rockwell, 
now known as Rockwell Automation, which ran it from 1975 until the 
plant was shut down.

The jury also recommended $352 million in actual damages.

The final award is likely to be less because of limits in state and 
federal law, but it could still reach $352 million after U.S. 
District Judge John Kane reviews the verdict, said Louise Roselle, an 
attorney for some of the plaintiffs.

The government is expected to cover damages and legal bills because 
the companies were contractors operating the sprawling Cold War site 
near Denver on behalf of the Energy Department, attorneys said. A 
department spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking 

The Rocky Flats site was closed in 1989, and last year, a contractor 
declared a 10-year, $7 billion cleanup project complete. Much of the 
6,240-acre site will become a wildlife refuge.

Rockwell in 1992 agreed to pay an $18.5 million fine for water 
quality and other violations at the site. Rockwell admitted it stored 
hazardous waste without a permit, and that it stored the wastes in 
containers that leaked, and that its actions caused hazardous waste 
to wind up in reservoirs that supplied drinking water to nearby 

The settlement culminated a lengthy investigation dubbed "Operation 
Desert Glow" in which FBI agents secretly monitored the discharge of 
pollutants into streams and the burning of hazardous waste at Rocky 

Federal agents charged in an affidavit unsealed after a 1989 raid 
that Rockwell and Energy Department officials were aware of 
environmental violations and sought to conceal them.

NRC will focus on radiation-barrier rust

RULING: Judges' panel accepts foes' contention

Asbury Park Press (Feb 28) Safety concerns over a steel radiation 
barrier weakened by rust at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant will 
receive additional attention during a federal hearing after a three-
judge panel on Monday accepted a contention filed by plant opponents.

In the contention, six activist groups said plant operators won't be 
able to adequately measure the amount of corrosion in a section of 
the barrier if AmerGen Energy Co. is granted a renewed license 
allowing it to operate the plant for an additional 20 years.

The activists may be the first group to win this kind of quasilegal 
hearing at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said NRC spokesman 
Neil Sheehan.

In the same decision, the judges denied three other contentions 
raised by the state Department of Environmental Protection. State 
officials sought hearings on the plant's vulnerability to terrorist 
attacks, the possibility of safety components wearing out and the 
availability of critical backup power to help cool the reactor.

The judges are part of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, a 
separate arm of the NRC that reviews licensing decisions independent 
from NRC staff. After hearing the activists' contention, the judges 
could force AmerGen to strengthen its aging-management plans as a 
condition of a license renewal, Sheehan said.

"This will allow us to question what AmerGen says is adequate 
corrosion prevention," said Kelly McNicholas, conservation 
coordinator for the Sierra Club's New Jersey chapter, one of the 
groups behind the contention.

The contention challenges Oyster Creek's license renewal application, 
which is now under NRC review. A renewal would allow the plant, the 
nation's oldest, to run until 2029 -- for a total of 60 years. 
Without a renewal, Oyster Creek would close in 2009.

A large part of AmerGen's application shows regulators how it plans 
to manage the aging of components and structures that are important 
to plant safety.

But the activists said in their contention that the plan for a 
section of a radiation barrier, called the drywell liner, is 
inadequate because it failed to include times in which operators 
would measure the liner's thickness.

The liner is a 100-foot-tall steel vessel shaped like an inverted 
light bulb. Inside the bulb is the reactor vessel, a container in 
which atoms are split to make heat.

In the event of an accident, the liner is designed to keep 
dangerously radioactive and highly pressurized steam and gas from 
entering the environment.

Activists have been concerned about the liner's thickness because 
plant operators about 20 years ago found that some of the metal had 
rusted away. The corrosion, resembling scum in a dirty bathtub, 
occurred all around the liner's lower portion.

While operators arrested the rusting with an epoxy coating in 1993, 
the thickness of the corroded areas has not been measured since 1996.

The activists want the drywell measured regularly, especially before 
the NRC decides on relicensing.

AmerGen recently agreed to perform a measurement prior to 2009, but 
not before the NRC's renewal decision. The company also has told the 
NRC that it will measure the liner once every 10 years after the 
upcoming inspection, which could happen this year or in 2008.

Company lawyers attempted to block the activists' petition, but 
AmerGen officials on Monday thought the hearing would provide "a good 
opportunity for further public participation," said Rachelle Benson, 
a plant spokeswoman.

Benson also said that the judges' decision "doesn't mean that the 
drywell liner is deficient. It means the contention meets the minimum 
standards for admission into the NRC proceeding."

The other activist groups behind the contention are The Nuclear 
Information and Resource Service; Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch; 
Grandmothers, Mothers and More for Energy Safety; the New Jersey 
Public Interest Research Group and the New Jersey Environmental 

Officials with the state DEP wouldn't comment on the panel's denial, 
saying that they hadn't officially received the document.

All parties involved could appeal the judges' decisions to the NRC's 
five presidentially appointed commissioners. But neither the DEP nor 
AmerGen expressed interest in pursuing an appeal thus far.

Radiation regulators being taken to court 

The Salt Lake Tribune  (Feb 28) The Healthy Environment Alliance of 
Utah (HEAL) is taking the state Radiation Control Division to court 
over its decision to sign off on EnergySolution's expansion plans for 
its Tooele County landfill. The Radiation Control Board reviewed the 
matter and, in January, backed the division's decision to allow the 
site to double in size. The company operates a low-level radioactive 
and hazardous waste landfill in Tooele County and has recently 
expanded into new areas of the nuclear waste business. HEAL Utah 
calls the approval process "a sham," claiming the division failed to 
meet the legal or technical requirements needed to grant an 
expansion. "The regulatory board misapplied the law and disregarded 
the facts of this case," said Jim McConkie of Trial-lawyers 
Representing Utah's Environment (TRUE), a group of attorneys 
representing HEAL Utah in its appeal. "The gravity of locking Utah 
into another half-century of nuclear waste disposal deserves a lot 
more scrutiny than what was given to this expansion request." Dane 
Finerfrock, director of the state Radiation Control Division, 
declined to comment on HEAL's request to the Utah Court of Appeals 

Radiation Technology Helps Food Industry

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 (Bernama) -- The radiation processing industry 
should be used to help the country become a `halal food' 
manufacturing hub, Deputy Prime Minisiter Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak 
said Monday.

He said the technology could help the food industry meet sanitary 
standards imposed by multinationals and importing countries.

"Although food irradiation often conjures up negative emotions from 
the public, once rationalised logically, food irradiation is in fact 
a useful tool to the consumers and industry.

"I was made to understand that radiation processing is a chemical-
free technology which is flexible enough to be applied across a broad 
range of foods and it is recognised by United Nations agencies such 
as the Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Health Organisation 
and International Atomic Energy Agency." he said.

Legislation was being harmonised in the area of food irradiation in 
the country in line with the recommendations of the United Nation's 
Codex Alimentarious, he said when opening the International Meeting 
on Radiation Processing 2006 here.

Najib said the use of radiation processing industry and advanced 
technologies such as gamma, electron beam and x-ray irradiation would 
fit very well with the country's renewed focus on agriculture, 
especially in meeting the phytosanitary standards of major importing 

Currently, fruits from Malaysia such as papaya, banana and jackfruit 
were not exported to the largest and most profitable market hub due 
to phytosanitary constraints, he said.

In this regard, Malaysia was working closely with trade partners to 
explore the avenue, he added.

Najib said the radiation processing industry had also helped Malaysia 
to sustain its position as a leading surgical glove and catheter 
exporter worldwide.

Security Issues Go Beyond Ports Flap

USA TODAY (Feb. 23) - When mayors, governors and members of Congress 
learned this week that an Arab company was poised to oversee 
terminals at six major U.S. seaports, many reacted with surprise and 

They demanded to know why President Bush would support the idea of a 
government-owned company from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 
operating key commercial areas in this country where security is 
paramount. And they vowed to stop the deal.

The $6.8 billion ports deal has become an extraordinary piece of 
political theater in Washington, but it is quite ordinary in another 
sense. It merely is the latest example of a decades-long trend in 
which foreign interests have become heavily involved in U.S. 
institutions the government now considers targets for terrorism - 
from busy seaports to utilities and railways.

At the massive Port of Los Angeles alone, 80% of the terminals are 
run by foreign firms. And the U.S. Department of Transportation says 
the United Kingdom, Denmark, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, 
Singapore, China and Taiwan have interests in U.S. port terminals.

Bush says a company from the UAE, a U.S. ally in the war on 
terrorism, shouldn't be treated any differently than other companies 
that seek to do business here. But the tiny Persian Gulf nation was a 
base of operations for two 9/11 hijackers - a fact cited repeatedly 
Wednesday by Democratic and Republican politicians from New York to 

However, port security specialists say much of Wednesday's rhetoric 
focused on the wrong questions.

Allowing Dubai Ports World to control up to 30% of the port terminals 
in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans and 
Miami shouldn't really be a cause for concern, says James Loy, former 
deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security and a 
retired commandant of the Coast Guard. "We're making a mountain out 
of a mole hill here."

He and other analysts say that instead, politicians should focus on 
gaps in port-security programs that have left the global shipping 
system and the nation's 360 ports vulnerable to terrorism. The 
vulnerabilities extend from companies that load cargo containers 
abroad and the inspection process at overseas ports, to the need to 
install radiation detectors at most U.S. ports.

If the Dubai Ports World deal is sealed, the company would oversee 
only a tiny piece of a security chain that is weak from start to 
finish, Loy says. At the six ports, the company would be responsible 
only for keeping cargo containers secure from the time they are 
unloaded from foreign ships to when the containers are taken away on 
trucks, generally a few hours later.

The more significant vulnerabilities are abroad, where blue jeans, 
car parts and other goods are loaded at foreign companies before 
making the journey to U.S. ports.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents inspect U.S.-bound goods at 
42 of the world's busiest foreign ports. However, the Homeland 
Security Department acknowledges that by the time a pair of jeans 
ends up in someone's shopping cart in Ohio, the chance that the 
container in which they were shipped was inspected by a U.S. agent is 
less than 10%.

That security gap is part of what fueled this week's firestorm. New 
Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, says his state will file suit 
later this week to stop the deal in which Dubai is taking over the 
port terminals from a London company. Members of Congress, including 
Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, R-Va., say they are 
planning hearings.

Loy says he hopes politicians will begin to focus on the significant 
port-security questions that are "much more deserving of our interest 
and attention than this little episode."

Key among them: Is the U.S. government doing enough to make sure 
terrorists abroad don't use cargo containers to sneak weapons of mass 
destruction past the Coast Guard and Customs officers responsible for 

Focus on Containers

As a terminal operator, Dubai Ports World would be responsible only 
for terminal maintenance and security in the area where cargo 
containers are stored before being loaded onto trucks. Before that 
happens, some containers are inspected by the Coast Guard. Shipping 
company and port employees who handle cargo are checked against 
terrorist watch lists.

"I can understand the high level of anxiety the deal has created," 
says Keith Mason, former chairman of the Georgia Port Authority. "But 
a more important issue is what's contained in the boxes when they get 
to the United States."

After 9/11, the U.S. government imposed security requirements and 
programs at U.S. ports in response to heightened concerns that 
terrorists could try to smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the 
USA in cargo containers.

However, the checks are spotty, and once containers arrive in the 
United States, they seldom are inspected. The government is working 
to install drive-through radiation detectors at all major ports so 
that trucks carrying offloaded containers can be checked for 
radiation on their way to the nation's highways, but that program is 
just beginning. Now, only 37% of the cargo coming into the U.S. is 
sent through radiation detectors.

Other government screening programs include:

· The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, which offers 
benefits to companies, ports, terminal operators and others that 
provide verifiable information about their cargo and operations. The 
program was designed to allow Homeland Security to focus on high-risk 
cargo from undisclosed countries the government suspects of having 
ties to terrorism.

But last year, congressional investigators found that of the 4,357 
importers certified under the program, only 564 - or 13% - had been 
deemed secure by Customs officials.

· A 24-hour advance manifest rule requires most sea carriers to give 
the U.S. government descriptions of cargo and information on those 
handling the cargo 24 hours before it is loaded.

· The Container Security Initiative, which is a voluntary program 
that allows U.S. officials to pre-screen companies and their goods 
before containers are loaded on ships. Through the program, U.S. 
agents work at overseas ports using sophisticated computer models to 
identify potentially risky cargo that should be physically inspected.

Foreign Ownership Increasing

Besides raising security concerns, the debate over the Dubai deal has 
cast a spotlight on the increasingly prevalent foreign ownership of 
U.S. ports.

Stephen Flynn of the Council on Foreign Relations estimates that most 
port terminals across the nation are run by foreign interests.

In Los Angeles, port spokeswoman Theresa Adams Lopez says, foreign 
operations include Yusen Terminals Inc., a subsidiary of Japanese 
shipping giant NYK Line, established in 1885.

The Port of Seattle has five container terminals. Three are run by 
U.S. companies, one is managed by a South Korean company, and the 
fifth is managed by a company partly owned by the Singapore 

Energy Agency Waives Laboratory's Fines

LA Times (feb 28) The U.S. Department of Energy said Monday that it 
had assessed, but waived, a nearly $589,000 fine to Lawrence 
Livermore National Laboratory for safety violations, including a 
series of incidents in which several lab workers were exposed to low-
level radiation.

Three Maryland researchers get NASA Mars grants totally $1M

University of Maryland professor will receive $357K to study magnetic 

The Examiner Washington (Feb 27) Three Maryland researchers have been 
awarded nearly $1 million by NASA for research on how radiation from 
the sun could affect astronauts traveling to Mars.

James Drake, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, 
College Park, will receive $357,985 to study the interaction of the 
magnetic fields of the sun and Earth.

The collisions between the two magnetic fields can create radiation 
that can damage man and machine, he said.

Matthew DeLand, a senior scientist at Science Systems and 
Applications Inc. in Lanham, will receive $300,000 for his work on 
the effects of solar flares on clouds that appear above the Earth's 

Mikhail Sitnov, an associate research scientist at the University of 
Maryland, College Park, who studies magnetic fields and energy 
currents, will receive $299,049.
Drake said his work could help researchers determine how much 
radiation astronauts and their equipment may be exposed to during the 
trip to Mars.

DeLand told The (Baltimore) Daily Record that his work could help 
scientists better understand climate trends on Mars, where signs of 
ice at the red planet's north pole have been found.

"The more you can understand about how the sun affects our 
atmosphere, the more information you can put in a model to understand 
how it would affect Mars," DeLand said.
President Bush has proposed a return to the Moon and eventually a 
manned mission to Mars.

In September, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said it will cost 
$104 billion over the next decade to send astronauts back to the 
moon. NASA has estimated the first crew could be launched to the moon 
in a newly developed space vehicle by 2018. The same type of vessel 
could be used one day to transport astronauts to Mars.

NASA will fund 27 projects with approximately $8.7 million in 
geospace science program grants, according to spokeswoman Erica Hupp.

Sandy Perle
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc.
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614 

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714  Extension 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144

E-Mail: sperle at dosimetry.com
E-Mail: sandyfl at earthlink.net 

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

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