[ RadSafe ] ALARA

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Mon Jun 23 13:35:27 CDT 2008

I believe that what we get from ALARA that we cannot get from just writing clear regs is flexibility.  My formative years were spent in the Navy's nuclear submarine community, both on subs and teaching at Officer Submarine School.  The submarine community had (and presumably has) very well developed Standard Operating Procedures, designed to cover every foreseeable, or at least foreseen, possibility.  The crews are taught the SOPs, and use them to the point where many are memorized.  But additionally there is a program of training and testing of individuals so that they not only understand the SOPs, but the reasons behind them, and the assumptions that go into them, and the underlying principles that go into those assumptions.  This is the process that leads to someone becoming "Qualified in Submarines", and it is a non-trivial achievement to earn your dolphins.  The point of the qualification process it to produce people who can use the SOPs, but who also can recognize when the SOPs aren't moving the situation in the direction it should go, and creativity backed by deep knowledge is called for.  I can think of several dozen cases in which the crew had to leave the SOPs in order to save the ship or prevent highly undesirable consequences.  I was the person in charge in one such case.  

SOPs and regulations both rest on the assumption that a group of people sitting in an office writing them up know more than the person who is dealing with a particular situation.  This is often true, but not always, and the times it is not true are often the most important one.  Having well thought-out, well written regs and SOPs is important, but they are not the whole solution.

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On Behalf Of garyi at trinityphysics.com
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2008 10:45 AM
To: radsafe at radlab.nl; WILLIAM LIPTON
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] ALARA


Did Alara produce the successful facility, or did the successful facility produce doses that were Alara?

In other words, if you went into a "dirty" plant and made them implement Alara, would the plant become a model facility?  Or would it still be "dirty" wherever scrutiny was lacking?  I agree that the correlation you recall exists, but I strongly doubt that Alara is the causative factor.

Unless you are willing to insist that Alara is a causative factor, your concluding statement is unfounded.  I assert that the well run facilities you recall would have been just as well run (perhaps better) if Alara had never been conceived, had never been made a part of the compliance requirement.

So I'm back to this:  Do we get anything from ALARA that we could not have just by writing clear regs? 

And, this is the last I will post on this issue.  I am so busy keeping things Alara that I have no more time to think about whether this is a good policy.  :P

-Gary Isenhower


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