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29 July 2014
Impact of Federal Travel Restrictions

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has imposed travel restrictions on federal agencies (see Health Physics News, April 2013, page 12) that severely limit the ability of federal employees and federal contractors to attend Health Physics Society (HPS) annual and midyear meetings and affect all professional societies.

The HPS has undertaken three parallel efforts to oppose so-called "bipartisan" action to enact the OMB travel restrictions as federal law.

First, HPS Congressional Liaison David Connolly was authorized by HPS President Barbara Hamrick on behalf of the Society to sign onto a letter to Congress from the Energy Sciences Coalition, a group that Connolly attends on behalf of the Society. The Energy Science Coalition strongly opposes the travel restrictions.

Second, the Society participates with the Council of Scientific Societies, which has prepared strongly worded objections to the OMB policy and the proposed Senate bill. Council members have been visiting monthly with congressional staff on the travel-restriction issue. The Council of Scientific Societies represents 62 professional societies and science-education groups and has a total membership of about 1.4 million.

Third, HPS has joined a second broad coalition of professional societies as a signatory to a letter to the chair and cochair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs that adequately sets forth the Society's position. One part of the letter states:

The Coburn-Heitkamp substitute to S. 1347, Conference Accountability Act of 2013, would raise existing barriers and perpetuate unintended negative consequences the Administration's regulations have already imposed on our scientific enterprise and national competitiveness.

Scientific and technical conferences help maintain a "talented and interconnected workforce"—one of the three critical pillars of a vibrant, economically productive scientific enterprise identified in the National Research Council's Furthering America's Research Enterprise report. These conferences promote collaborations between federal scientists and those in private industry and academia, provide for rapid dissemination of federally funded research results, and provide high-quality professional development for the next generation of scientists and engineers.

For federal employees also involved in program management, conferences are cost-effective venues for overseeing multiple projects in one location, disseminating information about agency policies and programs, and gathering information on the most promising research directions to guide smart decisions when allocating federal research funding.

Since the implementation of restrictive travel policies in OMB Memorandum M-12-12, conference participation by scientists and engineers who are also federal employees has dropped precipitously. This—in conjunction with the ongoing sequestration cuts to federal research investments—has led to canceled conferences and fewer speaking invitations for government scientists, slowing scientific progress and diminishing the stature of U.S. science agencies at home and abroad.

 

29 July 2014
HPS Member George Xu Named Endowed Chair at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Nuclear engineering expert X. George Xu has been named the Edward E. Hood Jr. Endowed Chair of Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). An endowed professorship is among the highest honors bestowed on a Rensselaer faculty member.

Xu is a fellow and 20-year member of the Health Physics Society. He has been published many times in the Health Physics Journal.

"Dr. Xu is known around the world as a leader in his field," said Shekhar Garde, dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer. "His innovative work on radiation dosimetry is advancing many important applications, including sophisticated software to reduce the risk of radiation exposure from common medical procedures. George is a talented engineer who has made a significant impact on our campus and beyond. We congratulate him on his appointment as the Edward E. Hood Jr. Endowed Faculty Chair."

See the related RPI News article on the RPI website.

 

25 July 2014
NAS Report on Improving Nuclear Plant Safety

A new congressionally mandated report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concludes that the overarching lesson learned from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident is that nuclear plant licensees and their regulators must actively seek out and act on new information about hazards with the potential to affect the safety of nuclear plants. 

The committee that wrote the report examined the causes of the Japan accident and identified findings and recommendations for improving nuclear plant safety and off-site emergency responses to nuclear plant accidents in the United States.  Health Physics Society President Barbara Hamrick served as a member of the NAS committee that produced this report.

"Lessons Learned From the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety of U.S. Nuclear Plants (2014)" can be downloaded for no charge from the National Academies Press website.

Read the entire NAS press release on the Office of News and Public Information page of the National Academies website.

A four-page summary of the report is also available on the website of the Division of Earth and Life Studies of the National Academies.

 

2 July 2014
60th Annual Radiobioassay and Radiochemical Measurements Conference

The 60th Annual Radiobioassay and Radiochemical Measurements Conference will be held in Knoxville, Tennessee, 27–31 October 2014. The call for papers and conference information can be found on the conference website. The abstract submission deadline is 31 July 2014.

 

30 June 2014
National Nuclear Science Week - 20–24 October

National Nuclear Science Week, 20–24 October 2014, is a national, broadly observed, week-long celebration to focus local, regional, and national interest on all aspects of nuclear science. Each day will provide for learning about the contributions, innovations, and opportunities that can be found by exploring nuclear science.

During the week, educators, students, employers, and the community will participate in a national recognition of how nuclear science plays a vital role in the lives of Americans . . . and the world. Activities during the week are intended to build awareness of the contributions of the nuclear science industry and those who work in it every day.

The downloadable Celebration Guide 2013 gives creative ideas about National Nuclear Science Week through a variety of actions, such as getting involved in your community, reaching out to the public or to those around you and ideas for your school or company. There are also ideas for professional society chapters.

There is more information on the National Nuclear Science Week website.

 

19 June 2014
Public Meeting on DOE Spent Nuclear Fuel Management and Disposal

On 6 August 2014, the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) will meet to discuss management and disposal of Department of Energy (DOE) spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste. NWTRB members are appointed by the President of the United States. The NWTRB conducts an ongoing and independent evaluation of the technical and scientific validity of DOE activities related to implementing the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. More information can be found in the Federal Register at gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-06-19/pdf/2014-14382.pdf.

The meeting will be held in Idaho Falls, Idaho, from 8 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. A detailed meeting agenda will be available on the NWTRB website approximately one week before the meeting. The meeting will be open to the public, and an opportunity for public comment will be provided at the end of the day. Those wanting to speak at the meeting will need to sign the "Public Comment Register" at the check-in table.

 

12 June 2014
International Radon Symposium, 28 September–1 October 2014

The American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, Inc. (AARST) is hosting the 2014 International Radon Symposium, to be held this year in Charleston, South Carolina, 28 September–1 October 2014.

The 2014 International Radon Symposium will underscore the 2014 AARST Credo, which spells out the importance and uniqueness of AARST. The symposium attendees will present the latest information on radon science and business developments.

Certified health physicists receive a discount to the annual symposium and can receive 10 continuing education credits for attending the full three days.

Currently 26 abstracts have been accepted from scientists and researchers from eight countries.

The symposium preliminary program is now available on the International Radon Symposium website.

 

11 June 2014
Report on Low-Level Ionizing Radiation Exposure

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council report "Research on Health Effects of Low-Level Ionizing Radiation Exposure: Opportunities for the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute" was released Wednesday, 11 June 2014.

The prepublication version of the complete report is available for download in pdf format from links available on the IOM website:

iom.edu/activities/research/researchdirections.aspx

A report summary and other materials are also available at that website. There is no charge for access to any of these materials.

 

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