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Friday
Apr012011

FDA’s Comparison of Radiation in Milk to Everyday Exposures Called ‘Improper’

­A U.S. Food and Drug Administration statement regarding milk contaminated with radiation from Japan failed to accurately inform and educate the public, four watchdog groups and a former senior advisor in the U.S. Department of Energy said today, pointing to the fact that exposure to ingested iodine-131 is substantively different than everyday exposure to radiation in the environment.

On March 30, in response to reports that radioactive iodine-131 has been found in milk in Washington state, FDA senior scientist Patricia Hansen said, “Radiation is all around us in our daily lives, and these findings are a miniscule amount compared to what people experience every day. For example, a person would be exposed to low levels of radiation on a round trip cross country flight, watching television, and even from construction materials.”

This statement was called improper by experts at Beyond Nuclear, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth and Nuclear Information and Resource Service, as well as by Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy during the Clinton Administration.  Read the full press release.

Friday
Apr012011

The single greatest security vulnerability in the U.S.-- high-level radioactive waste

CNN Money quotes Beyond Nuclear's radioactive waste watchdog, Kevin Kamps, on the need to transfer high-level radioactive waste from dangerously overfilled storage pools into hardened on-site storage in order to prevent catastrophic radioactive infernos if cooling water is lost through natural disaster, accident, or attack. The Statement of Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactors, first unveiled by Michele Boyd (then at Public Citizen, now at Physicians for Social Responsibility) at a congressional hearing in September 2006, now has nearly 200 endorsing environmental organizations signed on. The phrase "hardened on-site storage," or HOSS, was first coined by Dr. Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) in April, 2002 at a national grassroots gathering on the risks of high-level radioactive waste, organized by Citizens Awareness Network, held at Wesleyan College in Connecticut. Dr. Gordon Thompson provided more in depth analysis on what HOSS would require in his Jan. 2003 report "Robust Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel: A Neglected Issue of Homeland Security," also commissioned by CAN. Despite repeated calls over many years by environmental coalitions, to both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Congress, to empty vulnerable storage pools (especially the General Electric Boiling Water Reactors of the Mark 1 design, the same as are currently melting down, with pool fires, at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan) by transferring high-level radioactive wastes into HOSS, the warnings have fallen on deaf ears, and no action has been taken, nearly a decade after the 9/11 attacks.

Friday
Apr012011

Fukushima evacuees denied refuge and medical treatment over radiation fears

Child being scanned for radioactivity contamination in the very first days of the Fukushima nuclear catastropheThe Telegraph of London has reported that refugees (including children) from the evacuation surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are being denied entry into emergency shelters, as well as medical treatment, due to fears of providers over the radioactivity "contagion" they may carry. This is reminiscent not only of the experiences suffered by Hibakusha (Japanese survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the U.S. military), but also by survivors of Chernobyl, who have long been ostracized, and prevented from gaining employment, housing, and even marriage partners. (Dr. Robert Gale, quoted in the article, went to Moscow in the aftermath of Chernobyl to provide bone marrow transfusions for the firefighters stricken by radiation poisoning; he later authored the book Final Warning about his Chernobyl experiences.)

Friday
Apr012011

State of Virginia warns residents not to drink rainwater due to Fukushima fallout

The State of Virginia's Department of Health, while repeatedly stating that there is no public health concern to be feared from the low concentrations of radioactivity falling out, has nonetheless warned Virginians to avoid drinking rainwater, out of "an abundance of caution."

Thursday
Mar312011

Rachel Maddow calls out all the U.S. nuclear near-misses

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