— Details on the EPA plan; agency hid proposed increases to “avoid confusion”; PAG levels 100s-1000s times Clean Drinking Water standards

From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

For Immediate Release: Dec 22, 2016
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

RADICAL DRINKING WATER RADIATION RISE CONFIRMED IN EPA PLAN

EPA Hid Planned Exposure Levels 1,000s of Times Safe Drinking Water Act Limits


Washington, DC — In the last days of the Obama Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is about to dramatically increase allowable public exposure to radioactivity to levels thousands of times above the maximum limits of the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to documents the agency surrendered in a federal lawsuit brought by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). These radical rollbacks cover the “intermediate period” following a radiation release and could last for up to several years. This plan is in its final stage of approval.

The documents indicate that the plan’s rationale is rooted in public relations, not public health. Following Japan’s Fukushima meltdown in 2011, EPA’s claims that no radioactivity could reach the U.S. at levels of concern were contradicted by its own rainwater measurements showing contamination from Fukushima throughout the U.S. well above Safe Drinking Water Act limits. In reaction, EPA prepared new limits 1000s of times higher than even the Fukushima rainwater because “EPA experienced major difficulties conveying to the public that the detected levels…were not of immediate concern for public health.”

When EPA published for public comment the proposed “Protective Action Guides,” it hid proposed new concentrations for all but four of the 110 radionuclides covered, and refused to reveal how much they were above Safe Drinking Water Act limits. It took a lawsuit to get EPA to release documents showing that –

  • The proposed PAGs for two radionuclides (Cobalt-60 and Calcium-45) are more than 10,000 times Safe Drinking Water Act limits. Others are hundreds or thousands of times higher;
  • According to EPA’s own internal analysis, some concentrations are high enough to deliver a lifetime permissible dose in a single day. Scores of other radionuclides would be allowed at levels that would produce a lifetime dose in a week or a month;
  • The levels proposed by the Obama EPA are higher than what the Bush EPA tried to adopt–also in its final days. That plan was ultimately withdrawn; and
  • EPA hid the proposed increases from the public so as to “avoid confusion,” intending to release the higher concentrations only after the proposal was adopted. The documents also reveal that EPA’s radiation division even hid the new concentrations from other divisions of EPA that were critical of the proposal, requiring repeated efforts to get them to even be disclosed internally.

“To cover its embarrassment after being caught dissembling about Fukushima fallout on American soil, EPA is pursuing a justification for assuming a radioactive fetal position even in cases of ultra-high contamination,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has called for the PAGs to be withdrawn on both public health and legal grounds. “The Safe Drinking Water Act is a federal law; it cannot be nullified or neutered by regulatory ‘guidance.’”

Despite claims of transparency, EPA solicited public comment on its plan even as it hid the bulk of the plan’s effects. Nonetheless, more than 60,000 people filed comments in opposition.

“The Dr. Strangelove wing of EPA does not want this information shared with many of its own experts, let alone the public,” added Ruch, noting that PEER had to file a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to force release of exposure limits. “This is a matter of public health that should be promulgated in broad daylight rather than slimed through in the witching hours of a departing administration.”

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View ultra-high proposed PAG allowable concentrations

(and explanation for the chart)

See briefing memo explaining why EPA wants water PAGs

Read letter of opposition from New York Attorney General

Revisit PEER lawsuit

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— Obama administration final gift: EPA adopts huge increase in allowable drinking water contamination

From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

For Immediate Release: Jan 19, 2017
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

FIG LEAVES NO COVER FOR DRINKING WATER RADIATION ROLLBACK

Final Approval for Radical Radiation Rise in Water Supplies after Nuclear Release


Washington, DC — In a not so lovely parting gift, the Obama administration today formally adopted a policy of allowing public exposure to radioactivity following a nuclear release at levels many times the maximum limits of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Last-minute modifications ladled in by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address public health concerns afford scant comfort, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The “Protective Action Guide (PAG) for Drinking Water after a Radiological Incident” was finalized today by its publication in the Federal Register. This policy lets the public consume water containing radiation at levels hundreds and thousands of times what is permitted for the more than 100 chemical elements that can emit radiation (radionuclides) under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

“Since this policy authorizes leaving people in contaminated zones and not providing them bottled or other potable drinking water for long periods, it should be called a ‘Protective Inaction Guide,’” stated Jeff Ruch, Executive Director of PEER which had to sue EPA to force release of information specifying what levels of which radionuclides EPA would permit public exposure to. “Under this policy, affected Americans would be guinea pigs in an untimed radiation experiment.”

In its final action, the EPA claims to have tightened the policy with respect to duration of public exposure, the nature of the triggering event and protections for infants and nursing mothers. PEER disputes the accuracy and efficacy of these supposed mitigations for the following reasons:

  • Duration. These rollbacks cover the “intermediate period” after the radiation release has been brought under control (not necessarily stopped but no longer growing). EPA now contends that this period may last for “week to months but not longer than a year.” However, the PAG itself states that the early, intermediate and late “phases cannot be represented by precise periods of time” and suggests their duration be viewed as “in terms of activities, rather than time spans.” Nor does EPA specify what happens if this intermediate period extends beyond a year;
  • Trigger. EPA now says application of the PAG is limited to “nationally significant radiological contamination incidents” but does not define the term. The PAG itself states that it covers “a wide range of incidents,” not just reactor accidents but also spills. By contrast, the EPA website FAQ posting says the PAG applies in “any radiological emergency”; and
  • Sensitive Populations. The PAG allows 500 millirems (mrem) of radiation exposure for the general population but only 100 mrem for the most sensitive populations (e.g., infants, children, pregnant women and nursing women). But EPA never explains how non-nursing children will get only one-fifth the radiation their parents receive in situations lacking clean drinking water.

“EPA’s qualifications tacitly concede the dangers to public health but do little to solve them,” added Ruch, noting that PEER is considering a lawsuit to nullify the PAG. “Among other legal vulnerabilities, this policy flies in the face of the anti-backsliding requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

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View the Federal Register notice

Examine redline showing recent EPA rewrites

See EPA’s public relations motivation for the PAG

Look at the full Drinking Water PAG

Read the non-explanatory EPA blog posting

http://www.peer.org/news/news-releases/fig-leaves-no-cover-for-drinking-water-radiation-rollback.html

— 12 nuclear realities whose names must not be spoken

From No Nukes California

Beyond Obama’s ‘Nuclear Security’ Hokus POTUS

By James Heddle
April 6. 2016

[ First published on Counterpunch.org ]

‘Nuclear Security’ – The Quintessential Oxymoron?

It ended, with no apparent sense of irony, on April Fools’ Day. Obama’s much-heralded ‘Nuclear Security Summit’ came to a close on April 1st in Washington, D.C., having drawn representatives from about 50 countries…minus Russia, which declined to attend citing a “shortage of mutual cooperation” and the exclusion of some of its allies from the invitation list.

Compared to the lofty vision outlined in Obama’s famous 2009 Prague speech of a ‘world without nuclear weapons,’ the POTUS conference marked a sad measure of how far short of his stated intentions his actual accomplishments have fallen.

To be fair, by no means all of that failure can be said to be Obama’s fault. There are many counter-forces.

There’s a global system that profits handsomely from the combined nuclear energy-weapons-waste economy.

There’s a worldwide elite whose members derive much power and privilege from it.

There’s the domestic ‘deep state’ system of the ‘defense and security’ industry with its revolving door to government, which is heavily invested in the permanent war economy.

Then there are the people the President has chosen to surround himself with, some of whom disagree with him and work to undermine his stated policies.

http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2016/03/obama-disappointing-nuclear-weapons-legacy/127068/

It remains to be seen if the controversial ‘Iran Deal’ will stand as a signature accomplishment of Obama’s tenure. But the facts remain that, despite his boasts that he has ‘reduced’ the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the actual cuts amount to a mere 5% – from 4,950 operational nuclear warheads to 4,700, according to the Federation of American Scientists. As former Defense Secretary William Perry points out, that’s more than enough to destroy the world many times over.

http://www.planetarianperspectives.net/?p=2741

https://www.edcast.com/wjperryproject

And, as Perry and other former U.S. officials disapprovingly observe, Obama’s plan to spend over $1 trillion to ‘upgrade’ America’s stockpile of nuclear bombs and their delivery systems not only makes their use more likely, but has also triggered a New Arms Race.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/warnings-of-global-arms-race-ahead-of-nuclear-security-summit/5517478

Finally, the President’s ‘all of the above’ energy policy treats nuclear energy generation as ‘clean,’ ignoring the massive carbon footprint of the atomic fuel chain that makes uranium essentially a fossil fuel. It also gives massive funding and support to developing a new generation of nuclear reactors, as well as marketing existing U.S. designs world-wide to such clients as warring Arab oil states. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2015-05-25/nuclear-power-people

12 Unspeakable Realities

Those who advocate for nuclear energy as a response to climate change, or for new nuclear weapons in pursuit of ‘national security,’ must ignore or deny an overwhelming burden of facts from the history and legacy of these nuclear technologies so far.

Here are just a few:

Continue reading

$355 Billion expansion of nuclear weapons proposed by Obama administration and Congress

From the Guardian, September 29, 2014
By Cady Enders

…Congress and the Department of Defense, together with New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), are gearing up to dramatically increase production of nuclear weapons cores to numbers not seen since the cold war. In a report to Congress last month, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) outlined specific recommendations for a nuclear production plan under which as many as 80 explosive plutonium cores – 3.5in spheres that trigger an atomic bomb – would be created per year by 2030.

The Los Alamos proposal, which aims to increase plutonium core production at the nuclear facility thirtyfold from 2013 levels, leaves various environmental, fiscal, and political questions unanswered. Los Alamos, which the CRS report cites as the only plausible place for the slated nuclear expansion, happens to have a staggeringly poor history of safeguarding war-grade nuclear materials. A federal study last month found the nuclear facility unprepared to respond to emergencies; environmental violations abound; and a former employee was recently sentenced to a year in federal prison for trying to sell nuclear secrets to the Venezuelan government.

The plan, which has already been quietly adopted in broad terms by the House and Senate armed services committees as part of the 2015 Defense Authorization Act, is expected to contribute an estimated $355bn for nuclear weapons development over the next decade. The spending would seem to stand in stark contrast to President Obama’s stated position on nuclear weapons.

Obama has previously indicated a strong commitment to cutting the nuclear stockpile from 5,113 warheads in 2009 to 1,500 by the year 2016. In a 2009 speech in Prague, cited by the Nobel committee as the primary reason for awarding him the peace prize…

… James Doyle, a former scientist in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Division at LANL, said that the scale of the proposed project lacks supporting research, particularly in the quantity of cores required. “I’ve never seen the justification articulated for the 50-80 pits per year by 2030,” Doyle said.

Doyle, a 17-year veteran of Los Alamos, was dismissed on July 8 for publishing an article in support of nuclear disarmament that had been approved prior to publication by the laboratory’s classification department. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the State Department have since classified the article, despite the fact that the media review process at the lab prior to publication identified no classification breaches. (The article remains available to the public even after the classification.)

Doyle believes that the timing of his ouster was connected to the congressional push for nuclear weapons maintenance. “I think the laboratory would like to review for message, too,” he said.“I would speculate that the message of my article was in opposition to the labs’ message when searching for funding for the plutonium pit project.”

Doyle believes that the government should turn its focus from weapons component production to a strategic plan for eliminating nuclear weapons by the year 2045. “I think there are plenty of people at the lab who share my view that are now even less likely to write an article like that now this has happened to me,” Doyle said.

… Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group, a nuclear watchdog group, said that the reason the pit proposal has progressed, despite monumental cost to the taxpayer, comes down to the priorities of the for-profit corporations that now run all the country’s nuclear laboratories since they were privatized in 2006. That includes Los Alamos National Security, a private limited liability corporation that manages and operates Los Alamos National Laboratories.

“The business model of the nuclear weapons labs is to blackmail the government into continuing excessive appropriations,” said Mello. “The nuclear weapons labs are sized for the Cold War, and they need a Cold War to keep that size.”

For the complete article:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/29/congress-nuclear-weapons-new-mexico-radioactivity

http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44968
Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2014 to 2023

Posted under Fair Use Rules.