AW: [ RadSafe ] FW: [NucNews] America's Greatest Atomic Radiation Crisis
franz.schoenhofer at chello.at
Sun Dec 2 12:27:17 CST 2007
With all due respect: Don't you think that forwarding this unexcusable
nonsense to whom ever (I believe it is intended for the population and not
for scientists) is far out of any limited acceptable wrong perception???
What you distribute here is far beyond anything one could simply call
"nonsense". It is deliberate unfounded fearmongering, distorting facts and
twisting facts to fit a preconceived unacceptable and totally wrong opinion,
which comes close to paranoia - yes, I write "paranoia" and I mean it.
I have spent recently three weeks in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah and
visited quite a lot of former and current Uranium mines as well as uranium
ore extraction mills. I know the tailings of Monticello and Moab very well,
not only from literature but from VIP visits. I recognized this year, tht
Moab tailings are to be moved at whatever cost from the bank of the Colorado
So, Norm, before distributing such unacceptable and irresponsible nonsens on
RADSAFE you should read it first. If you think that this is o.k. to be
distributed, then nobody can help you on RADSAFE except with the advice to
refrain from posting on RADSAFE.
Franz Schoenhofer, PhD
Von: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] Im Auftrag
von Norm Cohen
Gesendet: Sonntag, 02. Dezember 2007 18:47
An: Know_Nukes at yahoogroups.com; Radsafe
Betreff: [ RadSafe ] FW: [NucNews] America's Greatest Atomic Radiation
Uranium tailings threaten health out west.
Coalition for Peace and Justice; UNPLUG Salem Campaign, 321 Barr Ave,
Linwood; NJ; 08221; 609-601-8583; Cell Phone - 609-335-8176; MySpace
From: NucNews at yahoogroups.com [mailto:NucNews at yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
NO Nukes South Australia
Sent: Friday, November 30, 2007 7:34 PM
To: NucNews at yahoogroups.com
Subject: [NucNews] America's Greatest Atomic Radiation Crisis
AMERICA'S GREATEST ATOMIC RADIATION CRISIS
By Don Munson
Ever hear of uranium "tailings"? It's a fine,
sand-like end product from the dozens of uranium
ore-processing plants scattered throughout the
Far West. Thought to be of no value, or danger,
hundreds of thousands of tons of this material
were dumped on the plains, to be snatched up by
building contractors who used it on construction
jobs-like hospitals, homes, schools and churches.
Now, it's been discovered, the stuff is
radioactively hot and we are facing a catastrophe
of monumental proportions.
In just one city, Grand Junction, Colo., an
estimated 3,000 "hot" sites have already been
reported by the state health department, which
says they were built with radioactive waste from
a uranium processing plant.
Millions of residents in eight Western states are
living on borrowed time while scientists and
environmental health specialists struggle to learn
if negligently handled radioactive material will
Snarled in incredible bureaucratic bumbling and
buck-passing, a tiny handful of investigators is
trying to determine if radiation will produce an
atomic by-product catastrophe from Texas to
They are engaged in a tedious study of the
effects of an invisible gas that decays into tiny
bits of radioactivity that can enter the lungs
and there grow into fatal cancer cells.
What investigators have learned thus far reveals
scandalously confused and highly controversial
situations springing from countless tons of
uranium waste scattered across the western half
of the U.S.
As innocent-looking as common sand, the dangerous
material has for at least the past 15 years been
used in thousands of construction jobs.
Today, hospitals, schools, office buildings and
factories, churches, and private homes stand on
fills and foundations which are radioactively
As a result, eight state governments are accusing
the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission of negligence.
But the AEC is proclaiming its innocence and
declaring that any health hazard which exists is
the responsibility of the states.
Meanwhile, as bureaucrats squabble, what is now
a medical puzzle may burst into a deadly peril.
At a time when the nation's attention is focused
on air and earth pollution, little attention is
being given to what someday may prove to be the
greatest pollution danger of all time.
In Grand Junction, Colo., an estimated 3,000
"hot" sites have already been reported by the
state health department, which says were built
with radioactive waste from a local uranium
State officials claim the plant
let 200,000 to 300,000 tons of hot waste
materials be hauled away to various parts of
Colorado to be used as fill material.
Nobody-official or otherwise-can estimate how
many hundreds of thousands of additional tons are
now scattered about in other areas of the Far
But it is there, and it is considered a health
hazard of monumental proportions.
How it got spread across half the nation to
endanger millions of innocent lives is a story
tangled by bureaucratic red tape, government
evasion and scientific double-talk.
It began in 1961 when uranium mines were going
full blast. America was stockpiling the atomic
energy source in its race to build up its A-bomb
arsenal. As hundreds of thousands of tons of
uranium oxide ore were crushed and processed at
plants all over the west, a fine sand-like
residue was left. Called tailings, the waste was
thought to be of no value and of no danger.
Checked by the AEC, the towering piles of sandy
material showed what was then believed to be only
a very low level of radiation.
Partly because it was a near perfect substitute
for building sand to use in back fillings, and
partly because it was free for the asking,
contractors and private citizens by the thousands
swooped down on the piles of gray waste and
happily hauled it off to construction jobs.
It found its way under and around every
conceivable type of structure and dwelling; it
was spread as a base for concrete sidewalks and
highways; it was heaped around retaining walls.
It wound up in flower gardens, in barnyards, in
children's sandboxes, and even in a shelter used
by a doctor who feared an A-bomb attack and its
consequent fallout. It was substituted for hay
on the floors of cattle and horse trucks and
shipped all over the country.
As a building material, the tailings were a
success and continued use seemed likely until a
Colorado health department team stumbled on to
the dangerous condition in 1966. A radiation
reading near a new construction site-showed an
alarmingly high level. It was quickly traced to
the tailings, and a silent monster was uncovered.
Tailings from uranium contain radium, a much more
radioactive element which stubbornly refuses to
die and which retains half of its potency for
1,620 years. At the end of that time, it is still
half alive and still deadly.
Throughout these 1,620 years, radium decays,
releasing radon gas, a gas so insidious that not
even concrete can contain it. It seeps through
concrete as easily as through a sponge.
By itself, radon is not much of a problem. When
released in open air, it quickly dilutes to safe
levels. If inhaled by humans, most of the gas is
exhaled without danger to the body because it
will not cling to the linings of the lungs.
So, as long as the tailings are in open piles,
some experts believe, they are not suspected of
being a threat to human life. But when radon is
trapped it decays into something scientists call
"radon daughters", tiny bits of radioactivity which
can wrap themselves around dust particles and
ride into human lungs. The eventual result is
fatal lung cancer. On that point all experts
By state order, the use of tailings in
construction was halted in Colorado in 1966.
However, by that time an incalcuable hazard had
(At Gas Hills, Wyo., Union Carbide processes
1,000 tons of uranium everyday.)
Despite the hazard, no general alarm was flashed.
No warning to the general public was issued. If
it was, that warning is now buried in some
government file. It never reached the people of
Grand Junction. Behind the scenes a bureaucratic
wrangle broke out that is still going on.
Colorado state health officials and the AEC at
first weren't even sure they had a problem.
Nobody was stricken with a fatal illness directly
attributable to the tailings. Nobody was leaving
Grand Junction in a panic despite the fact that
Robert D. Seik, radiological health officer for
the health department, estimated that 3,000
building sites in that city of 23,000 persons are
built on or around hot tailings.
Why more action has not been taken is a mystery
shrouded in the bureaucratic red tape, because
the highest radiation readings taken in Grand
Junction are 180 times greater than screening
levels set by the health department!
However, in Uravan, a mining village 75 miles
south of Grand Junction, two houses have been
evacuated because of unsafe levels. Seik says
that on the basis of knowledge gathered so far
"there is no choice but to go into other cities"
where uranium processing has been done
to determine if safety levels have been exceeded.
These include Durango, Gunnison, Canon City,
Rifle, and Naturita. Seik says the greatest
hazard is the effect high radiation levels may
have on children growing up there. Exposure
levels for miners are based on a 40-hour work
week but children have a 24-hour-a-day exposure,
seven days a week, the health officer admits.
The AEC, which says it issued a routine warning
to states about the dangers of tailings back in
1961 has refused to assume responsibility. The
commission, a spokesman says, has no control over
tailings because the radium they contain is
occurring "naturally" and the waste contains less
than .05 percent uranium, a cutoff level at which
the AEC drops control.
But Seik says that since the AEC regulates the
mills from which the tailings originate, and
since the material was processed for the AEC,
which also inspects the wastes, the AEC should
therefore control them.
Seik has told investigators that he has called
the Grand Junction radiation to the attention of
the AEC's top brass and has been assured by AEC
Chairman Glenn Seaborg "there was no short or
long term hazard in the tailings piles".
(Note: Glenn Seaborg invented Plutonium,
and with partner in crime, Henry Kissinger, would
propagate Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Radiation
everywhere on Planet Earth.)
Pitching the hot potato of responsibility to each
other, neither the AEC nor the state health
departments have done much more than wrangle
about the potential peril-at least not in
proportion to the inherent dangers.
Colorado, the state most heavily affected, has
martialed only two full-time investigators, a
handful of crude detection devices and an
operating budget of about $10,500.
It will be a full year before results of tests
now being made are completed. By that time the
investigators hope to learn if the Grand Junction
levels of radioactivity threaten human life.
Meanwhile, Coloradans and residents of seven
other states where uranium is processed are
"living on borrowed time", according to G.A.
(Bud) Franz, who has done most of the testing in
(In Edgemont, S.D:, Mines Development, Inc.,
processes 650 tons of uranium every day.)
Franz, a balding man in his 30s, is the principal
investigator. He was imported from Michigan to do
the job. A onetime high school physics teacher,
he has no advanced degrees in science and works
with crude sampling devices in a barren basement
room in the Mesa County Health Department
building in Grand Junction.
His project officer is J. B. Baird, a young Texan
employed by the Colorado health department and
whose duties permit him to devote only about 60
percent of his time to the gigantic task. He also
has only a minimum scientific background, a
bachelor of science degree from the University of
Strongly resentful of investigation of their
work, Franz and Baird discuss their activities
reluctantly. Both refuse details of some of their
findings. But this much they will reveal when
Employing a crude machine, which resembles little
more than a vacuum cleaner that sucks in air
samples, only one man using one machine-Franz-is
currently investigating the hot Grand Junction
"But we hope to have 10 men soon and a total of
75 in the future" Baird says. "Thus far we have
checked out about 350 places where the level is
He refuses to reveal the names and addresses of
Grand Junction residents who may be living on
sites dangerously contaminated by radon gas.
"That's privileged information because it has
people's names on it," he snaps when asked to
produce a list of potential radiation victims.
"I consider this the same as a doctor-patient
It is a one-way consideration because thousands
of Grand Junction residents who are living on or
near the contaminated sites have NEVER been
contacted by either state health department
investigators or AEC officials.
"We aren't sure that the public should be
contacted in big numbers," Baird protests.
Asked how he determines which homes, public
buildings and other sites may be radioactively
hot, Baird said:
"Mainly we follow up tips. We check on
contractors who may have used tailings, and then
we try to get into the buildings to make
Franz admits it will take a year or more to find
out exactly what his tests will produce.
"Until then, and until we get better guide lines
on the effect of low level radiation, we won't
know for sure whether there is a peril or not"
He is not sure how dense the concentrations of
radiation he has thus far found really are.
Trying to guess what the real dangers are on the
basis of his preliminary tests, he admits,
"is like watching the first five minutes of a
basketball game an then predicting its outcome."
Franz and Baird would like to keep their work as
quiet as possible. So they make no general
releases to newspaper radio, or television. They
issue no warnings sufficient to cause general
"We don't feel we have an obligation to keep the
public informed because we're not sure how they
will react," Baird say defensively.
He is afraid a real estate selling stampede
will result that will harm Grand Junction's image
as a resort area.
Baird says he feels no obligation to inform the
considerable Spanish-speaking population of the
area which does not read English-language papers
or listen to radio news in English:
"There's always somebody around who can speak
English and maybe they'll tell them," he says.
The result is that uncounted hundreds of persons
in the area are living on or around hot tailings,
possible future victims of contamination,
without having the slightest inkling of danger.
(In Shirley Basin, Wyo., Petrotomic, Co.
processes 1,000 tons of uranium every day.)
When radiation began to be of some concern,
particularly as it affects uranium miners,
Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz in 1967
issued an order limiting the maximum amount of
radiation to which a Western Slope miner could be
But not so for families living on or near the
(In Falls City, Texas, Susquehanna-Western Co.
processes 1,000 tons of uranium every day.)
The family of Jesus Gallegos, 73, lives in the
shadow of potential fatal disease. His modest
white frame house sits on a small plot of ground
which borders the sprawling uranium processing
plant o1 American Metal Climax, Inc., the plant
from which the Grand Junction tailings
"Nobody ever told us a thing," she declares.
"The only time we have ever had anything to do
with Climax was when they wanted to buy some of
our property. Nobody from the health department or
any other place has ever contacted us; nobody
ever took a reading on our house."
And nobody ever informed the Gallegos family that
the cement walk they built around their home
rests on a bed of hot tailings; nobody ever told
the family that the foundations resting on fill
dirt hauled from Climax's vast dump of hot waste
a couple of hundred feet away may be LETHAL."
"We never had a thing to worry about because we
didn't know anything about the situation. Now,
I'm scared," Esther Gallegos says, and stares
hard at the weather beaten sign which hangs on a
fence 50 feet from her front door. The sign has
hung there so long she previously considered it
part of the scenery. It warns of radiation-a
warning long unheeded.
The Gallegos family's situation is not rare in
Grand Junction. A lengthy street-by-street survey
of neighborhoods surrounding the Climax plant
failed to produce a single resident who has ever
received a warning from any source-AEC, state
health department, or Climax.
(In Point Ray, Tex., Susquehanna-Western
processes 1,000 tons of uranium every day.)
No cry is raised in the Grand Junction
area, even by the media, which in other sections
of the country might sound strident alarms. In
fact, one Western Colorado newsman considered by
the AEC to be an "expert" on environment has
treated the commission's handling of the
situation so kindly the AEC has offered him a
$13,000-a-year job as a public relations man.
As Coloradans see it, "there's nothing to get
excited about because nothing is happening."
(In Blue Water, N.M., the Anaconda Co. processes
3,000 tons of uranium every day.)
Nothing untoward is happening because the only
Colorado testing has been done by a "grab sample"
Franz's testing machine, little more
than a simple air pump which sucks in air and
traps airborne particles of dust on a disc of
filter paper which is later analyzed at a state
university, is the principle weapon of defense.
It is set up in buildings suspected of being
radioactive and run for five minutes. The tests
give an indication, but not an accurate measure,
of radioactivity. The grab samples have been
collected in about 15 places. Of these, 122
showed readings higher than the arbitrary
screening cutoff point, above which further tests
are supposed to be made.
The cutoff point is .Ol "working levels". That is
considered safe to work in if it occurs in a
uranium mine. When the working level hits .02,
the Colorado Bureau of Mines shuts down the
operation and labels the mine as dangerously
The State health department says the highest grab
sample recorded in Grand Junction is 1.88 working
levels. Another expert, however, says levels as
high as *** 4.0 to 200 *** times what it takes to
close down a mine-have been discovered.
He is Dr. Geno Saccamanno, a 53-year-old
pathologist who is recognized as one of the
world's foremost authorities on lung cancer,
particularly as it relates to uranium.
Seated in his tiny office in St. Mary's Hospital
in Grand Junction, surrounded by case histories
and tissue samples of lung cancer victims, Dr.
"Some Grand Junction families have for three
generations lived in houses ranging from zero to
0.5 (five tenths) levels of radiation. Others
have been in houses with levels as high as 4.0."
"My conclusion, after some study, is that there
is no apparent danger at this time. I have no
personal knowledge of anyone becoming sick from
radiation poisoning from tailings ... no cases of
leukemia, cancer of the lungs, etc."
"But much depends upon the individual. Some
persons are highly resistant. No one
investigating this has gone through enough cases
and done enough physical examinations and family
histories to draw definite conclusions."
"More cases should be studied. Chromosome studies
should be made to see if any abnormalities will
result. It's perfectly possible that some future
generations will produce some horrible mutants.
You see, nobody knows much about leukemia, for
example ... how long it takes to develop, how
long it actually takes to kill you."
"But I can tell you this: Once you have
contracted it ... well ..."
And here he gives a helpless shrug.
"The law requires that tailings be confined, be
placed under strict guard so there are no
accidents. But somebody goofed. You'll find
tailings all over Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and
other parts of the West."
"The best idea is a cool scientific exploration
of the problem. Hopefully, no cases of radiation
will have been caused. But if they have been,
then every home should be razed and the fills
sealed off with some sort of protective
Dr. Saccomanno said he thinks the five minute
grab samples made by public health investigators
are "totally inadequate".
One of the hidden potentialities of the radiation
that worries the pathologist is the possibility
that while right now there is no apparent danger,
the future could produce horrible results.
(In Moab, Utah, 1,500 tons of uranium are
processed by the Atlas Corp. every day.)
The long-range effects of radiation know no
boundaries in time and space and AEC safeguards
and forecasts are notoriously inaccurate.
For example, radioactive fallout dumped on the
Albany-Troy, N.Y., area during a 1953 rainstorm
doubled the cases of childhood leukemia over an
eight-year period. The fallout originated in
Nevada, more than 2,200 air miles away.
Those affected included children born as long as
10 years after the incident. These facts are
contained in a report of Prof. E.J. Sternglass of
the Department of Radiology of the University of
Pittsburgh. He said the fallout came from a
43-kiloton nuclear blast set off in Nevada in
His studies showed, he said, a characteristic
five-year delay in the onset of the disease from
the time of irradiation or conception.
So while nobody is dropping dead right now, what
lies ahead for residents of the eight western
states where tailings and other uranium deposits
exist is, at the least, a potential health
hazard of the future. Every new scientific
discovery concerning it bodes bad news.
(In Ford, Wash., 450 tons of uranium are processed
by the Dawn Mining Co. every day.)
One man who warns of the dangers radioactivity is
Dr. Arthur Tamplin of the biomedical research
division of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at
the University of California at Berkeley.
He says radioactivity pollution is seriously
underestimated. And he is vigorously opposed to
the AEC's continued dispelling of radioactivity
into the atmosphere in any form ... from
underground test explosions to exposed tailings
According to Dr. Tamplin, the Atom Energy
Commission wants to release far more radiation than
is safe. The maximum "safe" exposure set by
federal regulation is .17 rads a year-a rad being
a scientific unit of measure.
But .17 rads is enough to cause 16,000 additional
cases of cancer in the U.S. each year for an
undetermined time in the future.
Dr. Tamplin says the reasonable limit of safe
radioactivity ought to be zero.
"If any company wants to be permitted, to release
any radioactivity at all, it should have to prove
conclusively that the danger to the public is
outweighed by the benefits,"
Dr. Tamplin recently told the American Cancer
Society's annual seminar for science writers.
Of course no such proof has yet been offered by
(In Gas Hills, Wyo., Federal American Partners
processes 900 tons of uranium every day.)
Another man who recognizes the dangers is Dr. H.
Paul Metzger, a Boulder Colo., biochemist who has
been asked prepare a report for a presidential
committee on the hazards arising from the
In this report may lie definitive information as
to the actual dangers. But, at this writing, that
report is classified.
Although Dr. Metzger sent in the report last
December, he refuses to go into details about the
presidential committee's effort because he is not
sure the committee ready to release any
information. He has passed the buck to the White
House, preferring to let the word come from
Does his report contain such dynamite that only
the White House dares release it? Will it spur the
AEC and the eight western states into action?
The answers are buried in the bureaucratic
squabbling. The AEC comes in for some harsh
criticism from many scientists, and Dr. Metzger
is one of them.
He charges the Atomic Energy Commission with
dereliction of duty. He say
"I personally have been interested in the whole
history of actions by the AEC in this state
(Colorado) and their dereliction of duty."
Dr. Donald I. Walker, director of Region 4 of the
AEC's division of compliance, says defensively
that the AEC has jurisdiction over uranium only
when it exceeds a certain percentage of total
He denies that the tailings produced by the Climax
Uranium Mill at Grand Junction exceed that
percentage. But Dr. Metzger disagrees.
Climax's general manager is vehement on the
Anthony Mastrovich takes on his interviewers with
the angry indignation of a father defending the
virtue of his daughter. A pale middle-aged man,
Mastrovich sets his lips grimly, and his eyes flash
angrily behind his glasses as he condemns all
members of the press as "biased, trying to stir up
trouble" ... even before he is asked the first
question about Climax's operations.
In Grand Junction he is the kingpin the local
operation of a vast, impersonal organization whose
holdings stretch from the Rockies to Zambia in
Africa. He tangles frequently with local
reporters, who call him "a real bear" and less
"For the past four years no tailings have left our
area. Prior to that," he declares, "when nothing
was known of the dangers, we let our tailings be
used. Ninety-five per cent of it went to
industrial uses, such as fill dirt under U.S.
"The AEC never warned of any danger and neither has
the state public health department. We as
Climax's management don't believe the state's
figures (concerning radiation levels) but, at
the same time, we can't arrive at a figure either."
Mastrovich says in joining the long list
principals confessing that no one real knows
where danger from tailings begins or ends.
His mill is soon to be knocked down, permanently
out of business. But not, he says, because it
presents any potent health danger. The reason:
pure economics. The mill isn't paying off now.
When the plant is torn down, it will
"stabilized," the Climax manager says. That means
the land it now occupies will be contoured,
covered with soil and planted with grass ... all
according to a Colorado public health department
And that, it is generally agreed in Grand Junction,
will eliminate the danger at one source. Nobody,
however, will hazard a guess at what damage has
already been done and what may arise in the future.
Right now the focus of attention is Grand
Junction. But Climax's milling capacity is only
500 tons per day, and the operation is scheduled
to halt soon.
According to the 1969 AEC annual port to
Congress, thousands of tons of ore are processed
each day at other mines throughout the West.
Each ton produces its corresponding heap of hot
tailings. They are mountainous.
United-Nuclear Homestake Paterners, Grants, N.M.,
3,500 tong each day. Utah Construction and
Mining Co., Gas Hills, Wyo., 1,200 tons per day...
the same company at Shirley Basin, Wyo. 1,200 tons
per day ... Western Nuclear Inc., Jeffrey City,
Wyo., 1,200 tons per day ... are a few examples.
As the tailings heaps grow bigger and bigger, so
too, does the potential for a catastrophe beyond
human imagination. What remains now is a deadly
Radium is still half alive after 1,620 years. The
average American man lives 70 years-with luck.
** THE END **
Note: This article was from the 1970's.
South Australia is victim of the World's LARGEST intended
the BHP Olympic Dam Roxby Downs URANIUM mine.
BHP stands for Broken Hill Proprietary, Big Huge Pig or,
in the SA Radioactive Nuclear Mining Disaster case,
Big HOT Pig since BHP would utilise HOT Geothermal
Energy to mine Uranium, a radioactively HOT heavy metal.
The consequences will be CATASTROPHIC, especially given
BHP previous disasters such as the Ok Tedi Gold Mine in
Papua New Guinea that destroyed the second largest river
in Papua, the Fly River.
(BHP placed the Ok Tedi Mine at the top of the Fly River
in the Highlands of Papua where it gets SEVEN METRES RAIN
per year. The tailings dams holding cyanide solution broke and
the Fly River was destroyed by the poison solution, and
full-scale acid rock drainage that occurred when biological
organisms changed millions of tonnes of mine silt from Ok Tedi
into an acid state that leaches toxic heavy metal poison everywhere.
When Papuans reacted angrily to the disaster, the Puppet Papua
government made it ILLEGAL for Papuans to sue BHP, or any
other corporate criminals, within or outside Papua New Guinea,
in relation to compensaton for the Ok Tedi mining disaster.
The Fly River today, remains a wide raging torrent of muddy silten
waste, where once a pristine clean docile wild natural
river flowed and supported and sustained BILLIONS of Creatures.
BHP, other mining corporates and all their associates are
Major Criminals before Nature. The Human Pigs are extremely
guilty of Crimes Against Nature and will eventually pay a
maximum price. Mark My Word.)
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