– Obama Approves EPA’s Higher Radiation Exposure Levels for U.S. Population (Activist Post, April 18, 2013):
According to a statement by PEER (Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility) published on the organization’s website on April 8, 2013, Barack Obama has given final approval for the EPA’s attempt to raise radiation levels in soil and water following “radiological incidents.”According to PEER, the new guidelines, if enacted, would “allow cleanup many times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted.”Furthermore, PEER, which is in opposition to the changes, has stated that the proposition is a “win for the nuclear industry which seeks what its proponents call a ‘new normal’ for radiation exposure among the U.S population.”In regards to the changes to acceptable levels of radiation in water it should be noted that the EPA does not actually propose anything specific. However, this is one of the criticisms put forward by PEER, with the organization claiming that the EPA is “punting” on establishing “an exact new standard.”Indeed, the EPA does refuse to create a new standard for acceptable radiation levels in water. Yet it suggests the possibility that temporary guidelines may be created that could themselves allow for a vast rise in acceptable radiation levels justified by the declaration of an emergency.
The EPA document, “Draft For Use And Public Comment,” states:
EPA is not proposing specific drinking water PAG [Protective Action Guide]at this time. EPA has established enforceable drinking water standards for radionuclides under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). EPA recommends that, to the extent practicable, emergency measures for drinking water be based on the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWR) for Radionuclides. The Radionuclides Rule provides states with flexibility when responding to radiological events. If a public water system exceeds the radionuclides standard it must work to get back into compliance as soon as feasible. States have the authority to determine if other corrective actions are needed (e.g. providing alternative water). Guidance on monitoring, notification and protective actions is provided in Chapter 3, along with several online resources for drinking water system operators.
However, in light of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, in which some Japanese drinking water supplies were impacted, the Agency recognizes a short-term emergency drinking water guide may be useful for public health protection. The Agency requests input on the appropriateness of, and possible values for, a drinking water PAG.Still, what is much more alarming than the non-standards expressed by the EPA in regards to radiation in water are the standards regarding acceptable levels of radiation in soil which are written into the document.
In Section 3.7, “Reentry During the Early and Intermediate Phases,” it is determined that levels ranging from 1,000 mrems to 5,000 mrems as cause for evacuation for the general public. However, further in this section, the level of radiation found in soil is determined acceptable at 2,000 mrems for reentry of some displaced individuals. Thus, there seems to be some contradiction in the numbers presented by the EPA.Far more concerning than mere numerical contradictions, however, is the manner in which PEER paints the real effects of such a policy if it is ever put into practice. The organization states that, “This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period.” Clearly, any policy enacted that has the potential to increase the rates of cancer amongst the general public by such drastic numbers should be thoroughly debated and investigated before it is enacted. Unfortunately, just the opposite is taking place.As PEER’s published statement reads,
“This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace. If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy [EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy], then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the EPA package lacks a cogent rationale, is largely impenetrable and hinges on a series of euphemistic “weasel words.” “No compelling justification is offered for increasing the cancer deaths of Americans innocently exposed to corporate miscalculations several hundred-fold.”
Because PAGs and agency policy decisions such as the ones mentioned above are not the result of Congressional action, these standards will go into effect shortly after the ending of the required period for public comment.It is also important to note that PEER claims these policy changes were approved as far back as last fall, but were delayed until after the Presidential election. The suggestion, obviously, is that the Obama administration knew the potential bad PR to be garnered from the release and approval of such guidelines during only the second period of sustained criticism of his presidency and thus decided to take the safe route by waiting until the election process was over.The recent suggested changes proposed by the EPA and approved by the Obama White House are in keeping with numerous past attempts by the EPA to raise acceptable radiation levels in a variety of other contexts such as food, the environment, and even the general public themselves.
Indeed, in March, 2011, I wrote an article entitled, “EPA To Help Mainstream Media Obscure The Truth About Radiation Exposure to Americans,” in which I reported on the EPA’s attempt to make important changes to its PAGs (Protective Action Guides) that would have allowed for, according to PEER, “nearly 1000-fold increase for exposure to strontium-90, a 3000 to 100,000-fold hike for exposure to iodine-131; and an almost 25,000 rise for exposure to radioactive nickel-63” in drinking water.”Likewise, in April, 2011, I also wrote an article dealing with an attempt by the European Union to amend its own requirements in regard to food imported from Japan which would be similar to those proposed by the EPA in the United States.
It appears, however, that the proposed guidelines of 2011 have fortunately not yet been enacted as policy since the EPA appears to still be utilizing the 1991-1992 PAGs. It remains to be seen how long it will take for this latest approval of higher levels of radiation exposure to go into effect.