It is day 31 of my 365 Days of Living Deliberately blog. Here at the cabin the snow is still on the ground and on the road, so neither Ken nor I have even attempted to leave. In most other places where there is more direct sunlight, the snow is nearly all gone. Ken and I have always enjoyed being snowed in here at the cabin and chapel house (for short, practical periods of time ). At times such as this, we especially appreciate our back-woods retreat, the actuality of simple pleasures such as the warmth we enjoy from a fire and such as the sheer beauty of the white, snow-blanketed quiet against the darkened woods.
We are divorced, and each of us has a significant other whom we love, Kenille and Matt, but Ken and I are good friends now. We still argue about things, mostly when we are tired and exasperated with the subject matter which inevitably continues to be the ugly, overwhelming, devastating truth that the war against toxic and radioactive aggression is compelling us more than ever to take action. For Ken and me, who have served in the environmental justice and pollution prevention trenches for more than thirty-five years, our work for the past year-and-a-half has been focused on helping to stop uranium mining in Virginia that threatens Virginia, North Carolina, and the Eastern Seaboard. We have researched and analyzed the issues, and because we have decades of experience with waste disposal and health risk issues, we have studied especially carefully the Virginia Uranium Working Groups’ 2012 Final Report, Exhibit G: “Best Practices Uranium Mining,” examining the claims of regulators, while deconstructing the language they use to circumvent the truth — namely, that they know that uranium mining cannot be done without destroying the environment, natural resources, and public health, so they write regulations to legalize radioactive pollution, and they set maximum contaminant levels (MCL’s) higher and higher as contamination increases. (See “Best Practices”)
Recently, Ken has been researching and writing an in-depth analysis of how legislation, statutes, policies, and regulations are written by the EPA and the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRC) to legalize toxic and radioactive contamination and to protect polluters. Ken, whose logic led him to conceptualize, write the framework for, and to lead what is known as the environmental justice movement that was launched in 1982 here in Warren County, well, he’s at it again — as I am. This time Ken is deconstructing how the EPA and the NRC use the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) standard for uranium mining “best practices,” showing how the regulatory frameworks explicitly allow for inevitable contamination, containment being an impossibility. Thus, Ken explains, the emphasis for so-called safety in the uranium mining regulations is changing from claims that radioactivity can be contained in encapsulation tombs, to claims that contamination will be at doses that are minimal and acceptable. The following is a good example of such arbitrary and capricious changes:
Chernobyl and Japan Nuclear Disasters Led To DRASTIC INCREASES in permissible radioactive MCL’s . For more information, see “Radiation: Permissible Does Not Mean Safe.”
Pre-Chernobyl: 80 to 100 Millirems Per Year
After Chernobyl: 360 Millirems Per Year
After Japan: 620 Millirems Per Year
I will be participating in a panel discussion later this February on uranium mining at Tulane University’s Environmental Law Clinic. Speaking as a uranium mining opponent, I will present our analysis of uranium mining “best practices” as well as Ken’s analysis of “acceptable,” legal low-level radiation doses. At that time, I will share on this post and on this environmental justice – pollution prevention website Ken’s completed analysis.