James Conca: EPA’s decision to allow risk-based decisions to guide responses to radiological events

Remarkably sane new EPA policy – James Conca explains:

(…) What these new guidelines really mean is use your head when all hell breaks loose. Don’t be distracted by an administrative limit set for conditions when everything is fine, when we have the luxury of setting absurdly-low limits. The only downside of the absurdly-low radiation clean-up levels at a Superfund site is a waste of a lot of money. The downside of applying those same levels to a population going through a disaster is unnecessary pain and suffering, and even death, as we’ve seen at Fukushima ( (Cuttler, 2013 http://db.tt/j5IDYGQX).

That’s why these new guidelines are so important. And correct. It’s the same reasoning that led to the United Nations’ change in attitude last year when they stated that the U.N. “does not recommend multiplying low doses by large numbers of individuals to estimate numbers of radiation-induced health effects within a population exposed to incremental doses at levels equivalent to or below natural background levels” (UNSCEAR 2012; Radiation – No Big Deal).

Both changes at EPA and UNSCEAR result from a real administrative fear that LNT once again made things worse with Fukushima, as it did with Chernobyl. That more people died from the forced evacuation and continued refugee plight than will ever be affected by the radiation.

 

8 thoughts on “James Conca: EPA’s decision to allow risk-based decisions to guide responses to radiological events

  1. Bob Applebaum

    James Conca doesn’t “explain” anything. He is a health physics denier in the same class as evolution or climate change deniers. Just because he is telling you want you want to hear, doesn’t make it true. There are no significant changes at EPA or UNSCEAR and their minor revisions are based on LNT which Conca denies. That’s what science deniers do…they deny the science.

    What’s next here? Vaccines are bad for you? Go for it, science denial guy.

    1. joffan7

      As usual Bob you completely fail to understand what is actually being said, and prefer name-calling to actual debate.

      UNSCEAR’s explicit abandonment of collective dose for low doses is also an effective disavowal of LNT in that range.

      More importantly, the EPA is allowing the risks of radiation avoidance to weigh in the balance. Evacuation is not only a risky business in itself, but the disruption to lives from closing down an area is also a massive risk to health and well-being. These should be balanced against the (generally tiny) risks of moderately-low dose exposure, to make a risk-based decision on whether evacuation is sensible. Background-level doses have zero observable consequence and should be weighted accordingly – i.e. disregarded.

      And science is about observation, Bob. Careful measurement, not mindless model extrapolation.

      1. Engineer-Poet

        Rod Adams notes that Applebaum has made a career out of radiation “protection” from minuscule doses, even those observed to produce hormesis.  He knows which side his bread is buttered on.

  2. donb

    Don’t be distracted by an administrative limit set for conditions when everything is fine, when we have the luxury of setting absurdly-low limits. The only downside of the absurdly-low radiation clean-up levels at a Superfund site is a waste of a lot of money.

    There is another downside — those absurdly-low limits will be flogged by fear mongers whenever radioactive substances are released beyond what is normally expected, no matter how inconsequential those releases may be.

    1. Steve Darden Post author

      Good point. This is a textbook example of unintended consequences. Regulations that ignore impact-cost can accumulate staggering costs.

      Aside: the lack of political leadership in Japan is remarkable. Or maybe it just looks that way to me because of the filter of English-language media.

  3. James Greenidge

    Re: “It’s the same reasoning that led to the United Nations’ change in attitude last year when they stated that the U.N. “does not recommend multiplying low doses by large numbers of individuals to estimate numbers of radiation-induced health effects within a population exposed to incremental doses at levels equivalent to or below natural background levels”

    So funny and hypocritical. It’s like coming down from the fresh air of the mountains around Los Angeles into the smog which are chem cocktails whose pollutant concentrations and health effects are light-years above the mountain’s “background” (or nuclear effects) yet still acceptable enough allow fossil burners to run without much griping. Crazy. Someone challenge EPA, please!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

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