The EPA says it has not changed its radiation protection standards since the 1970s. Radiation health researchers would probably agree that there is a need to evaluate existing standards and bring them in line with our current scientific understanding of how radiation affects human health.
However, it should be quite obvious that the people who have identified the fact that the standards have been in effect since Jimmy Carter was president do not plan on applying modern science to the effort and instead plant on simply ratcheting down the limits to make them “new and improved.”
Note: The Hill Blog mentions Richard Nixon as being the president when the standards were developed and Ford as the president when they were issued, but also states that the standards were issued in 1977. Carter was elected in 1976 and inaugurated in early 1977. End Note.
To put it in perspective, the rules have not been updated since before the high-profile nuclear meltdowns in Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania; Chernobyl, Ukraine; or Fukushima, Japan.
“These standards were the earliest radiation rules developed by the EPA and are based on nuclear power technology and the understanding of radiation biology current at that time,” the agency said in the Federal Register.
“These standards have not been revised since their initial publication,” it added.
You can find the advance notice of proposed rulemaking at EPA–HQ–OAR–2013–0689; FRL–9902-20-OAR: RIN 2060–AR12: Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations . The deadline for public comments will be 120 days after official publication of the proposed standards. Page 2 of the notice of proposed rulemaking provides several options for submitting comments.
The notice points to several “fact” sheets published at Environmental Standards for Uranium Fuel Cycle Facilities: Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) including:
- Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
- What is the Uranium Fuel Cycle?
- EPA Radiation Protection Standards
Aside: That last one reminds me of a strange disconnect in our regulatory structure. In the first paragraph, it says “EPA does not regulate naturally occurring radiation …” but it does regulate radiation from uranium mill wastes. The radioactive material left over from uranium mining is exactly as “naturally occurring” as the radioactive material left over from coal, oil and natural gas extraction processes. Nothing in the the mining process adds isotopes that were not already in the rocks before they were mined. End Aside.
This is a wonderful opportunity to set a new direction and to set standards based on measured science instead of 70-year-old assumptions established based on a dishonest interpretation of fruit fly studies.
However, if knowledgable professionals remain silent, people with well-established and well-funded agendas will waltz into the meetings and make policies that will be exceedingly expensive and will most likely harm future human prosperity.