[ RadSafe ] Re: Radiation Hormesis Why regulator is always on the receiving end! The action of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission I request your views

parthasarathy k s ksparth at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Dec 29 18:39:31 CST 2007

Dear Kai,

Thank you for the prompt response. You highlighted the primary issue. How can we bring regulators around so that they take decisions with a broader perspective? One of the ideas suggested is to include some social scientists in the Commission. But generally the temperament of social scientists tends to be closer to that of  "activists". Often they talk more than necessary!. They believe that they have to be more conservative in their approach. They feel that they must behave  as "conscience keepers" in the organization! They are the ones who may invoke LNT concept in every decision! 

I know instances in India where certain agencies with regulatory responsibilities  introduced   broader membership.In one instance the member of an important committee arranged a press conference in which he expressed views which are so skewed that any specialist will feel offended. Such "activist" members survive on publicity! " Radiation and radioactivity"  evoke stronger emotions in them.For such people if concentration in water released from a facility increases from one Bq per litre to two Bq per litre they will argue as if it is a great "calamity" even when the limit permitted may be hundreds of Bq per litre.

We have radio-biologists  who explain scientific observations so accurately and passionately that the entire message is lost. Again I cannot forget what Dr. Merril Eisenbud told me.I had some correspondence with Dr. K.Z.Morgan who was then turning into an activist. When I questioned Dr Eisenbud quoting  Dr Morgan on some point, he said that some of the health physicists who joined the profession in the earlier years were cosmic ray physicists who were keen on measuring radiation at extremely low levels of a few particles per hr!.They seldom have the right perspective etc. I was pretty sure that comment may not apply to Dr Morgan. The point is how do we get the right type of specialists to serve in Commissions and Committees! There may be exceptionally competent specialists who are pragmatic in their approach. 

When the Canadian Parliament amended the  original  Atomic Energy Control Act, they admirably ensured the separation of  promotion and  regulation  as is the accepted practice. I defend the decision of CNSC , because the border between promotion and regulation is too narrow. I believe that the Canadian Prime Minister went out of the way to criticize the members of CNSC. The moot point is how far CNSC has to go to condone what was not simply a procedural lapse on the part of AECL. I invite your attention to the transcript of the Commission's meeting.

I expected from the list members a tsunami of comments on this issue. I am still waiting!

With warm regards

----- Original Message ----
From: Kai Kaletsch <eic at shaw.ca>
To: parthasarathy k s <ksparth at yahoo.co.uk>; radsafe at radlab.nl
Sent: Sunday, 30 December, 2007 12:30:25 AM
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Re: [ RRadSafe ] Re: Radiation Hormesis Why regulator is always on the receiving end! The action of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission I request your views

K.S.Parthasarathy wrote: "I believe that CNSC's responsibility is to
safety regulations....I feel that CNSC need not worry over isotope

This interpretation of the CNSC's mandate may be correct and I think it
the root of the problem. You have agencies who's decisions have a broad
effect on the well being of humanity and the environment, but they have
base their decisions on a very narrow mandate (and are not required, or
allowed, to consider the broader implications of their rulings).
 Without any 
oversight, this can only lead to bad decisions.

In this case, Parliament provided the appropriate oversight. They also
 did a 
pretty good job in achieving consensus and in not overly politicizing
issue. (Maybe some unfortunate comments were made, but nothing big...)

We all know of instances where regulatory red tape has caused
damage, not just to the licensee, but to innocent third parties or to
environment. But, since the consequences were less severe than a
medical isotope shortage, parliament did not, does not, and should not,
intervene. Every time elected officials get involved with these types
issues you run the risk of things getting politicized. Also, parliament
other things to do than to micromanage agencies.

So, in summary, we have a system that is designed to produce decisions
are often not in the best interest of society. If the consequence of
decisions is less severe than a worldwide medical isotope shortage,
decisions never get corrected.

To me, this is a less than ideal situation. I think a lot of the
bashing that is going on is more of a frustration with this system than
attack on the people. Most of the regulators I know are pretty

Maybe we need an 'Agency of Common Sense and Public Good', whose
 mandate it 
is to make sure that the decisions agencies make are consistent with
greater public good and that agency turf wars are not fought on the
 backs of 
the public or the environment? Parliament could then oversee that
agency and hold it accountable, rather than all the current agencies.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "parthasarathy k s" <ksparth at yahoo.co.uk>
To: "Steven Dapra" <sjd at swcp.com>; <radsafe at radlab.nl>
Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2007 1:51 AM
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Re: [ RRadSafe ] Re: Radiation Hormesis Why
is always on the receiving end! The action of Canadian Nuclear Safety 
Commission I request your views


I must confess at the very outset, I have some conflict of interest in
discussion on the role and behavior of regulators.I was a regulator for
17 years in my earlier avatar and had defended the role of my
then and since then!.There is a general tendency of regulator-bashing
 in the 
list (in all lists!!) and I do not see the views of any one from the 
regulator's side in the list, I thought that I must react:

A few years ago when Dr Merril Eisenbud visited India, in a private 
discussion, he told us about  the mushrooming of US Federal Acts
 related to 
safety and environment. He traced the inspiration for generating such 
legislation to books such the "Silent Spring".. He had a nice graph
the steep rise in laws with time.

Yes I agree there should be some balance in framing laws, there is no
in having a plethora of laws which cannot be enforced.

Laws are made by legislators or by bodies empowered to do it.  They
inputs and feed back from all stakeholders. It may look very tempting
 to say 
that the lawmakers do not do a good job! Rather than leaving every item
activists, specialists should get involved; it is worthwhile to spend
extra time in highlighting issues for the benefit  of law makers. How
of us can say that we have done it?

The recent isotope shortage in US and Canada due to  the  AECL/CNSC 
conflict  is a case in point. I read references to it in  this list and
the media. I have the following views  I shall appreciate  points and 
counter points on the issue.

I believe that the Canadian  system (CNSC plus the Parliament) acted
and tried to resolve the issue. I believe that CNSC's responsibility is
enforce safety regulations. The transcript of the Commission's
indicated that AECL was taking its own time to comply with the
in their licence. How long CNSC can continue condoning the operation of
reactor? I feel that CNSC need not worry over isotope shortage etc.

Some of you raise your hand in horror arguing that isotope shortage may
cause the deaths of many patients and the regulator should factor in
 this in 
their decision. May be AECL and CNSC should have found a way out. They 
should have explored ways of  avoiding the crisis. Under the prevailing
situation I endorse the decision of CNSC.

I endorse the decision of  the Canadian Parliament as well  in
CNSC's control over NRU for 120 days. They have every right to weigh
different factors to take the decision. It was appropriate that they 
exercised their right! But unfortunately the Canadian Prime Minister
sinister political motives in the action of  CNSC. The concerned
were ham handed in denying CNSC legal assistance.  Ultimately some one
to take a decision. The onus is on the Parliament which empowered the 

 I expect some of you to contribute your views on the subject . Was it
first time a Parliament acted against a regulatory body? The Atomic
Regulatory Board took action against the Nuclear Power Corporation of
Limited which operates Indian nuclear power plants on several
of the restrictions led to loss of millions of Rs. Though there was a
remedy to appeal to the Government it has never done it. Thus far, that


----- Original Message ----
From: Steven Dapra <sjd at swcp.com>
To: radsafe at radlab.nl
Sent: Saturday, 29 December, 2007 10:12:19 AM
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Re: Radiation Hormesis

Dec. 28

         John Jacobus wrote, "Generally, those who believe in
say that there is a benefitical effect as a blanket statement.  If you
disagree, then you are a regulator who is imposing undue restrictions."

         If indeed people are saying this about regulators they are
a clumsy and heavy-handed approach.  Hormesis may prove to be false.
state the obvious, lack of a hormetic effect does not mean exposure is
harmful.  Proponents of hormesis who say regulators who deny hormesis
imposing undue restrictions are just as wrong as  regulators who
(or try to regulate) below a level where no harm has been shown.  Or as

wrong as regulators who try to regulate based on junky studies.

         To back up again, it seems that the attempt to regulate
is based on a questionable study published in Environmental Health
Perspectives.  See this blog link
It has an excerpt from the editorial column in the LA Times,  the one
Barbara Hamrick mentioned earlier in this thread.  If readers go to
link, scroll down a short distance to an area that is highlighted in
orange, and read the three links in this area.  In particular, read the

third link (click on "overstated").  It is an article from the
Assessment Service at George Mason University about how Time magazine
played fast and loose with the truth about phthalate studies.

         The key study about phthalates in the context at hand appears
have been published in Environmental Health Perspectives. [Environ
Perspect. 2005 August; 113(8): 1056-1061.]  This link is to the
and to some related

         This link is to the paper (not in PDF):
you read nothing else, read the Discussion.  The qualifiers alone "are
worth the price of admission."

Steven Dapra

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