It is day 51 of my 365 Days of Living Deliberately blog, and I spent much of the day traveling to New Orleans. On the flight and in between, during my layover in Ft. Lauderdale, I was able to take time to carefully read Ken’s research paper that he has been working on concerning the actual dangers of low-level radioactive exposure.
Over the past thirty-five years, Ken and I have educated ourselves so that we can help educate others on the scientific and technical issues related to waste disposal and the risks to public health. We have studied toxic waste landfills, and now that we are part of the opposition to uranium mining in Virginia, we’ve been schooling ourselves on the risks of mine tailings disposal and of radioactive exposure. I am also now schooling myself on the dangers of coal ash. We’ve found that since we are grassroots educators and activists, we have no vested interests and no partisan affiliations, so, we are free to learn the unfettered truth concerning the realities of toxic and radioactive contamination. Thus, we are free to work more effectively to help promote solutions.
What Ken has discovered in his research is how and why the risks to public health and the environment continue to increase while government regulators legalize higher and higher “background” levels of radioactive emissions and higher and higher levels of permissible maximum contamination levels (MCL’s).
Last year, Ken and I analyzed the Virginia Uranium Working Group’s Final Report: Exhibit G: Best Practices Uranium Mining and shared our analysis with former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, legislators in both states, and mining opponents. We found that regulations for uranium mining worldwide are based on the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) standard which facilitates, authorizes, and legalizes radioactive contamination, and as we carefully studied the uranium mining regulatory framework, we found that the ALARA standard is a license to pollute.
Because it is impossible to stop radioactive exposure to workers and to the environment during the mining, milling (processing), and disposal of radioactive mine tailings, ALARA standards permit contamination “as low as reasonably achieveable” as long as the exposure does not exceed regulatory limits. The public is led to believe that because radiological exposures are within the accepted limits, that there are no dangers.
Yet uranium mining regulations are not written to protect the public from radioactive contamination. They are written to legally protect the polluting uranium industries and the government that regulates them from liability.
Background levels of radioactive contamination are arbitrarily and capriciously set and are a function of politics and industry. As radiation levels in the environment have increased from nuclear testing and weapons and from nuclear reactors meltdowns, government regulators have simply raised the “background” levels, thus legalizing increased radioactive contamination.
For example, before 1980, background radiation levels were determined to be between 80 – 100 millirems. After the 1983 Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown in the Soviet Union, radiation background levels were raised to 360 millirems, and after the Japanese Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster, they were raised to 610 millirems. (“RADIATION DOSE: Permissible Does not Mean Safe”).
Consequently, as radioactive contamination worldwide increases, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency merely raises the acceptable background levels so that the general public believes that background radioactive levels are in compliance with regulations and therefore safe.
As the background levels are raised, so also are permissible maximum contaminant levels (MCL’s), allowing higher contamination levels in the environment.
More information to come — unfortunately.