[ RadSafe ] "Communicating with the public and the press"

Wed Aug 21 13:59:43 CDT 2013

Another factor is the reasonableness of the precautions to be taken. We can design a car that will survive almost any traffic accident without harm to the occupants - but it'll likely be as expensive as a tank. So, instead, we build cars to withstand the most likely accidents (fender benders) without much damage and to survive "design basis accidents" without killing the occupants. Similarly, the submarine I was on was designed to survive a certain set of situations, with a safety margin. They could have designed it to, say, dive deeper or to survive a stronger depth charge set off closer to the boat - but it would have hampered our war-fighting mission. 

The question is what set of circumstances we prepare for - do we prepare for the absolute worst thing that can possibly happen in the life of the planet, for something that's likely to happen only once in a million years, once in a millennium, once in a century, etc. God help the engineer who plans for a once-in-the-lifetime-of-the-planet event and wastes money making something ridiculously robust at tremendous (wasted) cost. But what about the person who designs something to withstand a once-in-a-millennium event (to protect a facility that'll be around for maybe a half-century) only to get slammed with a once-in-10,000 year fluke? As someone said earlier - we're not prophets and can't predict when the next fluke will occur - we just know we'll get chewed out if we build for it and it doesn't happen, or we'll be reviled if we try to be reasonable and nature serves up a fluke. 

One final thought - it's easy to criticize something in hindsight - "of course any idiot should have known that you need to do ___" Sort of like Monday-morning quarterbacking. Also interesting that we never hear people second-guessing or commenting when nothing goes wrong. But you can make a case that over-building and over-designing is a waste of money and resources - who (after all) would put a thick lead shield around a vial of tritium?


-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu [mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Clayton J Bradt
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 2:19 PM
To: doctorbill34 at gmail.com
Cc: radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] "Communicating with the public and the press"

Whether prophetic or merely courageous, any engineer (or other employee)
insisting that management do anything other than what they had already
decided to do would be shown the door without a second thought. That's what
it means to be a "team player" - keep your mouth shut.

This, by the way, is the fatal flaw in the NRC's "Safety Culture" dogma. It
requires actions by employees that directly conflict with the most basic
and universal corporate rule: Whistleblowers are traitors to the
organization and must be eliminated.
NRC is in effect telling company employees that they should become martyrs.
Ain't gonna happen.

Clayton Bradt
Principal Radiophysicist
NYS Dept. of Health

Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2013 05:38:13 -0700
From: William Lipton <doctorbill34 at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] "Communicating with the public and the press"
To: Peter Crane <kinderhook46 at yahoo.com>,
		 "radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu" <radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu>
Message-ID: <-5951158373076015959 at unknownmsgid>
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 (Otto G. Raabe)
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Instead of debating what brand of lipstick to put on the pig, we should
be addressing the real safety issues. You can never explain away
Fukushima or other fiascos.

Compliance with the letter of the regs is not good enough. One engineer
with the competence and courage to insist the emergency generators be
flood protected would have prevented a tragedy that will affect
Bill Lipton
It's not about dose, it's about trust.
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