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INS Laundry - Related Topic

Just a second while I get my soapbox - 
Santa Fe is doing now what the City of Albuquerque did years ago.
Albuquerque's sewer use ordinance prohibits the discharge of radioactive
waste (no definition) to the sanitary sewer system.  Hospitals and medical
clinics are exempt from the prohibition.  Why are they exempt?  I don't
know.  Anyway, Sandia National Labs and DOE have decided that the ordinance
is not worth fighting.  We want to be good neighbors (read "conflict-free
neighbors").  For some reason, several years ago the city even contracted a
health physicist to study the impact of, and propose changes to, the
ordinance that would allow discharging up to some fraction of the NRC or DOE
standards.  He did a great job and drafted a very workable ordinance.
Unfortunately, some portion of our City Council is up for reelection just
about every year, and this potato is too hot for those politicians to
address, so it remains tabled.

Of course, with no lower limit attached to the ordinance, we are forced to
fumble around with waste water with analytical results hovering around the
critical level.  Trying to decide if there's really activity there or not,
etc.  And if the answer is that there is (or may be) DOE-added radioactivity
in the waste, then it gets handled as radioactive waste. It's a huge waste
of time and taxpayer money, with absolutely no quantifiable benefit to
public health, but what's new?   

The sad part, other than wasting money of course, is that our collective
lack of will in fighting this ordinance only promotes the perceptions that
1) any exposure to radiation, no matter how small, poses a risk; 2) that the
risk from exposure to radiation, no matter how small, is worth spending any
amount of money to avoid; and 3) that the risk from radiation varies somehow
with who delivers the dose (be it God, the government, the doctors, etc.).
Good job.

Three cheers for INS.  I hope they win their law suit.  Maybe somebody in
our management, DOE, or in city government will take notice.

Obviously only my opinion... 
Hans Oldewage
Sandia National Laboratories

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