[ RadSafe ] Montgomery Burns Award, 2016

Peter Crane kinderhook46 at yahoo.com
Fri May 13 10:35:37 CDT 2016

Ten days ago, I wrote to Mark Flanagan, who edits "Nuclear Notes" for the Nuclear Energy Institute, and followed up later that day with an email to Ellen Anderson, the chief health physicist for NEI, to point out an inaccuracy in a blogpost dealing with the effects of radioactive iodine. To date, neither one has responded in any way.

I have been following the efforts of the nuclear industry to win the hearts and minds of the American people for 41 years, since the days when John Simpson of Westinghouse led the Atomic Industrial Forum. I'd like to suggest the establishment of a Montgomery Burns Award, for those who speak for the nuclear power industry but do so in a way that only fosters public distrust of the industry and the technology. Mr. Flanagan can be the first recipient.

The messages follow.

1.  Dear Mr. Flanagan,

I recently read your post from 2011, "Iodine-131: Not an Issue in the United States," in which you wrote that  except for pregnant women, there is no risk from I-131 to anyone over 20. Can you tell me your source for that? Everything else I have read, in some 33 years of following this issue, says that the risks are minimal once one reaches 45, but not below that age.

Lest you think me some reflexive anti-nuke, I am on record as believing that nuclear power should be part of this country's energy mix, and that eliminating it, in an age of global warming, would be reckless. I was also on television in Seattle in March 2011, saying that it was "irresponsible fearmongering" to suggest that people should be buying and taking potassium iodide in the U.S. on account of Fukushima. But I feel strongly that the case for nuclear power can and should be made on the basis of a scrupulously accurate analysis of risks and benefits, with no distortion of the underlying facts.

I look forward to hearing from you.

-- Peter Crane, NRC Counsel for Special Projects (retired)

2. Dear Ms. Anderson,

I realized belatedly that I should have copied you in on the message that I sent to Mark Flanagan earlier today. His statement that there is no risk to anyone over 20 from I-131 contradicts the FDA guidance on potassium iodide from 2001, which calls for administering KI to all those under 40, and even to those over 40 if the potential thyroid dose is high enough to result in hypothyroidism. I am not aware that this guidance has been changed since then, or that there is any new scientific information suggesting that it ought to be. Could it be that Mr. Flanagan intended to write "40" and that the "20" that appeared was a typographical error? 

I hope you will discuss this with him. Thank you.

-- Peter Crane, NRC Counsel for Special Projects (retired)

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