Thursday, June 6, 2013

Make Radiation Visible | Letter to NRC

One in three Americans lives within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant that routinely releases radioactive poisons into the environment, but there are no public health alerts for these invisible poisons in our air and water and the utility companies are only required to make annual reports on their emissions.

Commercial nuclear power companies and nuclear regulators in our own government are not doing enough to protect us from the dangers and existing poisoning from nuclear sources, so we call on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to create new regulations requiring:

(like pollution & pollen alerts)
whenever radiation is released
into our air, land, or water


(like propane & natural gas odor markers)
so radiation can be readily identified
in the air, on the land, and in our water

Radiation DYE-MARKERS have been used for nuclear evacuation zone planning studies to map radioactive plumes from nuclear power plant releases – so this not only can be done, it already has been done to mark releases into the atmosphere. And Navy Dye-Markers can be used for fluid releases. We have been complacent about this health hazard in our midst, but now is the time to demand a change.

Please sign our group letter to the NRC requesting important new regulations here.*

Because we cannot see, smell or taste radiation, and because its poisoning effects are generally slow in presenting themselves, we tend to follow the old maxim "out of sight, out of mind"; but the poisons remain in our environment and enter our food chain, leading to increased cancers, genetic alterations, and birth defects.

Make Radiation Visible

* text of letter ---

Nuclear Regulatory Commission NRC Commissioners
Chairman Allison M. MacFarlane
Kristine L. Svinicki     George Apostolakis
William D. Magwood, IV  William C. Ostendorff
Washington, D.C. 20555-0001

Re: The health, safety, and security of the American people

Dear NRC Commissioners,

I want to add my voice to these groups who call on the NRC to protect the health and safety of U.S. citizens from the dangers of radioactive poisons. The extremely serious and very long range problem of ‘spent’ fuel radioactive waste neutralization (or even safe storage) has not been solved after 55 years of intensive research, yet utility companies continue to generate massive radioactive waste piles at nuclear power plants across this country – radioactive trash that will remain toxic for 100,000 years. It is time to admit that the experiment of commercial nuclear fission has failed, simply because the inordinate amount of long- term, unmanageable toxic waste does not justify the cost to our people or environment. We call on you to focus now on the safety of existing nuclear plants, on decommissioning, on the safe storage of radionuclide wastes, and on alerting the public to radioactive health threats in their environment. We also call on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to definitively reject all new license requests or license renewals for commercial nuclear reactors.

One in three Americans now lives within the 50 mile danger zone of a nuclear power plant [1] – plants that are vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, containment metal-fatigue, loss of coolant backup power, and/or terrorist attacks. Fukushima Daiichi was a three- fold disaster – two were natural disasters, but the nuclear disaster was man-made and therefore preventable. How many disasters do you require before a reasonable overall program is implemented to prevent a commercial nuclear disaster in the U.S.? We think the only method of prevention is to shut down and decommission the plants and to store the accumulated radionuclide waste using the safest means possible. Energy Efficiency and Renewables are now both adequate and less expensive than nuclear. The safety of the American people should not be sacrificed to commercial nuclear power contractors [2,3] – if you indeed accept the NRC mission to protect the health and safety of the American people,[4,5] to help provide for common defense and security,[6,7] and to protect the environment from the dangers of civilian, commercial radiation. [8]

Radiation poisoning is invisible and insidious, but it does not need to be. We think all radioactive emissions should be reported to the public as airborne health hazards (like pollen reports), and that these toxic emissions should be required to have bright distinctive dye markers - so that we can see where they fall on our cars, lawns, homes, pets and children, as well as in our water. It would be no different than requirements for odor markers for natural gas and propane, and could save the lives of our children – especially in the event of a nuclear accident or malicious attack. These radioactive emissions are being released somewhere in the U.S. on a daily basis – from nuclear power plants, nuclear fuel manufacturing and storage facilities, and nuclear fuel railway and highway transports, as well as nuclear weapons facilities. The American people deserve to know when they are being exposed to carcinogenic and DNA-altering poisons. [9,10]

Some may argue that routine radioactive releases are generally small amounts, but numerous studies show that even low dose radiation is dangerous – especially to women, children and unborn fetuses. Radionuclides are extremely toxic and there is no safe dose of radiation; therefore, the public should be alerted to its presence. Multiple definitive studies show there is no threshold to the biological effect of radiation on human cells and DNA.[11] Some people have greater immunity than others, but the risk exists for the public as a whole. It is your duty to protect us, and accurate information about public health threats is the first line of defense.

We call on the NRC to create the following new regulations and procedures to protect U.S. citizens:

• 1. Require distinctive visual dye-markers (like natural gas and propane odor markers), so that all radionuclide emission releases become readily identifiable as such, in order to protect the public from this very real public health danger.

• 2. Require that the public be alerted via news reports (like pollen alerts) to each release of radiation from venting, fuel transfers, or any other accidental, intentional or incidental release of radionuclide emissions into our air, land, and/or water.

• 3. Require that all radioactive trash be stored using the safest known technologies. Currently, for commercial nuclear power plants, the safest means of protecting the public from these radioactive poisons is to move so-called ‘spent’ fuel rods from cooling pools (after 5 years) to storage in hardened on-site dry-cask storage (HOSS) facilities. [12]

• 4. Resolve to not grant any more commercial reactor licenses, either for new or renewed/ extended operation. In order to stop creating more radioactive poisons at nuclear power plants, the NRC needs to stop providing nuclear power plant contractors with new and/or renewed nuclear reactor licenses (like Germany has done).

Thank you for your service to our country and your careful consideration of our concerns.



Mothers Against Tennessee River Radiation
Bellefonte Efficiency & Sustainability Team
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
Neighborhood Environment Watch
Tennessee Environmental Council Mountain Justice
Deep Green Resistance
Safe Alternatives for Future Energy Carolinas
Georgia Women’s Actions for New Directions
Citizens to End Nuclear Dumping in Tennessee
Nuclear Watch South
Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff
People Against A Radioactive Chesapeake

CC: President Barack Obama, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Environment Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office

[1] Bill Dedman, MSNBC Investigative Reporter, “Population Rises Near U.S. Nuclear Reactors,” MSNBC April 14, 2011,

[2] David Lochbaum, The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2011: Living on Borrowed Time, Union of Concerned Scientists, March 2012. nuclear-safety-2011-full-report.pdf

[3] David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, U.S. Nuclear Power Safety One Year After Fukushima, Union of Concerned Scientists, March 2012. anniversary-report-3-5-12.pdf

[4] National Research Council, Committee to Assess Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation, Beir VII Phase 2: Health Risks from Exposure to Low Level Ionizing Radiation, National Academies Press, 2006.

[5] National Research Council, Board on Radioactive Waste Management, Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage, National Academies Press, 2006. catalog.php?record_id=11263

[6] GAO, Cybersecurity: Challenges in Securing the Electricity Grid, Gregory C. Wilshusen, Director Information Security Issues, Testimony before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate, July 17, 2012.

[7] Robert S. Mueller III, Director Federal Bureau of Investigation, Testimony before the Select Committe on Intelligence U.S. Senate, February 16, 2005, pg 24.

[8] David Lochbaum, Regulatory Roulette: The NRC’s Inconsistent Oversight of Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants, Union of Concerned Scientists, September 2010. assets/documents/nuclear_power/nuclear-power-radioactive-releases.pdf

[9] Wladimir Wertelecki, “Malformations in a Chernobyl-Impacted Region,” Pediatrics: The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, March 2010, content/125/4/e836.full.html

[10] Ian Fairlie, “Children Living Near Nuclear Plants Face an Increased Risk of Cancer,” New Scientist, April 24, 2008.

[11] Electrical Power Research Institute, “Technical Consideration for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission/National Academy of Sciences Proposed Study: Cancer in Populations Living Near Nuclear Facilities,” Final Technical Report, November, 2011, References: pgs. 61-63.

[12] Robert Alvarez, “Improving Spent Fuel Storage at Nuclear Reactors,” Issues in Science & Technology, magazine of the National Academy of Sciences, Winter 2012. 28.2/alvarez.html

see also: Letter To TVA

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