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Current News

22 August 2014
EPA Updates RadTown

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) student-focused radiation website, RadTown, has launched with a new look and feel. This interactive, virtual community provides information for students and teachers about different radiation sources, links to additional information, and all-new graphics and content.

A new addition to RadTown is EPA's Radiation Education Activities for middle and high school students (grades 6–12), which includes lesson plans covering radiation basics, sources of radiation, radiation protection, exposure versus contamination, uranium mining methods, radon, and more. All educational activities are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and the Vocabulary Materials are aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

Visit the all-new RadTown USA at epa.gov/radtown.

Questions or comments can be directed to Angela Shogren at Shogren.angela@epa.gov or 202-343-9761.

 

20 August 2014
Proposed Changes to High-Risk Source Legislation

The Radiation Research Society (RRS) has posted a letter from Mary F. Shepherd, JL Shepherd & Associates, regarding pending U.S. Senate Legislation concerning licensees possessing what are considered high-risk sources, over 27 curies of cesium-137 and 8 curies of cobalt-60.

This proposed legislation has been incorporated into the "appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending 30 September 2015, and for other purposes." This proposed legislation may be detrimental to licensees who use radioactive materials and may negatively impact public health and safety because of the potential restrictions placed on research programs. Shepherd urges affected licensees to contact their senators and congressmen concerning the implications.

To read more, see the letter on the RRS website.  

 

19 August 2014
NRC Nuclear Education Grants

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has awarded $15 million in grants to academic institutions in fiscal year 2014 through the Nuclear Education Program. The grants are used for scholarships, fellowships, trade school and community college scholarships, and faculty development.

The NRC announces grant opportunities on Grants.gov, which helps the public find and apply for federal funding opportunities. A panel of expert reviewers evaluates all the grant proposals. The panel composition is diverse with most reviewers having both experience reviewing proposals for government agencies and advanced credentials in nuclear engineering, health physics, radiochemistry, or related disciplines. All panelists must certify that they do not have any conflicts of interest for the proposals they evaluate.

With the award of the FY14 grants, the NRC Nuclear Education Program has awarded nearly $122 million since the program began in 2007. The complete list of grants awarded is posted on the NRC website along with more information on the NRC Nuclear Education Program.

 

7 August 2014
HPS Responds to EPA on Nuclear Power Operations Standards

Health Physics Society President Barbara Hamrick has provided comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) (40 CFR 190) Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations.

The EPA has posted a fact sheet (EPA 402-F-12-001) that explains the purpose of the ANPR and the rulemaking process.

The EPA will provide email updates regarding this issue when new information is available for all who register their email address on the Environmental Standards for Uranium Fuel Cycle Facilities (40 CRF 190) page of the EPA website.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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