EPA Employees Balk At Proposed Nuclear Industry Authored Public Safety Guidelines

High ranking EPA officials are calling foul on a new set of public safety guidelines that would dictate how the government would respond to a nuclear disaster. What has caused the extreme concern among EPA officials is within the proposed report that was authored by the NCRP. We previously documented that the NCRP is a private company funded by the nuclear industry.

These new guidelines would drastically lower the level of public safety and give it a back seat to nuclear industry financial interests to pretend that nothing happened. Paul Kudarauskas, of the EPA Consequence Management Advisory Team when talking about the industry written rules and a potential nuclear disaster in the US said “U.S. residents are used to having “cleanup to perfection,” but will have to abandon their “not in my backyard” mentality in such cases, Kudarauskas said. “People are going to have to put their big boy pants on and suck it up.””

Not everyone at the EPA agrees with this callous opinion of public safety.

Charles Openchowski of EPA’s Office of General Counsel wrote in a January 23, 2009 e-mail to ORIA:

“[T]his guidance would allow cleanup levels that exceed MCLs [Maximum Contamination Limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act] by a factor of 100, 1000, and in two instances 7 million and there is nothing to prevent those levels from being the final cleanup achieved (i.e., it’s not confined to immediate response of emergency phase).””

“Another EPA official, Stuart Walker of the Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, explains what the proposed new radiation limits in drinking water would mean:

“It also appears that drinking water at the PAG concentrations…may lead to subchronic (acute) effects following exposures of a day or a week. In a population, one should see some express acute effects…that is vomiting, fever, etc.” 

Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility (PEER) wrote this in a recent complaint letter to EPA head Lisa Jackson. “We all deserve to know why some in the agency want to legitimize exposing the public to radiation at levels vastly higher than what EPA officially considers dangerous.” 

PEER has obtained EPA emails and documents via freedom of information requests that documented the behind closed door dealings of the EPA and the nuclear industry sponsored NCRP to rewrite nuclear public safety rules. This statement from PEER is probably the most disturbing. Keep in mind this is coming from a group of federal employees, not some radical environmentalists.

The internal documents show that under the updated PAG a single glass of water could give a lifetime’s permissible exposure. In addition, it would allow long-term cleanup limits thousands of times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These new limits would cause a cancer in as much as every fourth person exposed.” The PEER press release also has links to their supporting documents.

The new guidelines were sent to the federal register by “The Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Bob Perciasepe, signed the following proposed rule on April 5, 2013“. They are supposed to appear on the federal register soon, this may allow for public commentary. A copy of the NCRP authored report can now be found on the EPA website
http://www.epa.gov/radiation/docs/er/pag-manual-interim-public-comment-4-2-2013.pdf

As soon as the guidelines are found in the federal register we will post a follow up with information on how you can comment on this proposed rollback of public safety.

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