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Current News

16 September 2014
New HPS Position Statements

The Health Physics Society (HPS) Board of Directors approved 2 new official positions at the annual meeting in Baltimore.  Positions statements will be prepared for each position and posted on the website.

The new positions are:

Mobile applications to measure radiation using smart phones, or external accessories made for such devices, are not substitutes for quality-controlled measurements made by trained and qualified radiation protection professionals using calibrated radiation detection instruments. Measurements made by such devices should not be used as the primary source of information to evaluate the user's safety or to issue protective actions for the public.

The radiofrequency transmitters used in conjunction with smart meters do not present a public health risk.

All positions are posted on the HPS website.

 

9 September 2014
NRC Strategic Plan for 2014–2018

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a new strategic plan covering fiscal years 2014–2018. It provides a blueprint for the agency to plan, implement, and monitor the work needed to achieve the NRC's mission for the next four years.

The NRC's mission is to license and regulate the civilian use of radioactive materials to protect public health and safety, promote the common defense and security, and protect the environment. To accomplish this mission, the agency set two strategic goals: to ensure the safe use and to ensure the secure use of radioactive materials. The mission and strategic goals have been revised to highlight the agency's focus on the safe and secure use of radioactive materials.

To reflect principles of good regulation, the plan includes a new vision statement:  A trusted, independent, transparent, and effective nuclear regulator. The plan also sets new strategic objectives that describe what is needed to achieve the agency's strategic goals.

The current and historical strategic plans can be found on the NRC's website.

 

4 September 2014
Changes in DOE Isotope Program

The Department of Energy (DOE) Isotope Program, within the Office of Science, currently produces and distributes the radioisotope germanium-68 (68Ge). There are two primary uses of the 68Ge: (1) in the manufacture of calibration sources for positron emission tomography (PET) scanners used for diagnostic medical imaging and (2) in the manufacture of germanium-68/gallium-68 (68Ge/68Ga) generators, which provide 68Ga as a positron source in radiopharmaceuticals used in PET imaging.

The DOE published a Notice of Inquiry and Request for comment in the Federal Register on 8 March 2013 concerning its consideration of withdrawal from commercial production of 68Ge. The DOE received numerous comments in response to this Notice of Inquiry, evaluated substantial information provided by one private domestic company seeking the DOE's withdrawal, and assessed other available information. The DOE determined that 68Ge is reasonably available from the commercial sector for use in the manufacture of calibration sources but not for use in 68Ge/68Ga generators.

To serve the nation's interests in the advancement of health care, the DOE will continue to produce and distribute 68Ge for use in the manufacture of 68Ge/68Ga generators until such time as firm data exists establishing that there are multiple domestic suppliers capable of fully satisfying the needs of the United States market without the participation of DOE in that market.

More information can be found in the Federal Register notice.

 

2 September 2014
$300,000 ASSE Research Grant

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Foundation Research Program has announced the creation of a landmark $300,000 grant to fund the development of knowledge in the safety and health sciences.

In alignment with the foundation's mission, this grant will provide an excellent opportunity for scholars and researchers to perform groundbreaking studies and bring new ideas to the safety community.

Most importantly, this grant will assist safety and health professionals in mitigating the risks of injury and illness in the workplace.

Those wishing to submit a full proposal must first submit a 5–8 page white paper detailing their proposed research, due 1 October 2014. Proposals should be focused on safety-related topics of the NIOSH-National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA).

The Foundation Research Committee expects to consider 6 to 12 white papers for funding based on their scientific merit, efficacy of the research design, and potential impact of the research results.

Authors of selected white papers will be required to submit full research proposals by 1 February 2015.

To learn more about the Foundation Research Program and specifics about the proposal process, click here.

For further information, contact Brenda Kay Zylstra at bzylstra@asse.org.

 

 

29 August 2014
First "Special" Issue of Health Physics News

Health Physics Society (HPS) Web Operations has published its very first "special" issue of Health Physics News. Since the August and September monthly issues were already overflowing with valuable content, Web Operations decided to dedicate one special issue to the recently completed 59th Annual Meeting of the HPS in Baltimore, Maryland.

For those of you who attended the meeting, you will find this issue a reminder of the great experiences you had in Baltimore. For those of you who could not attend, look at what you missed and decide right now that you will not miss the 60th Annual Meeting of the HPS in Indianapolis, Indiana, next July.

In this special issue, you will find photographs and information about the HPS leadership (both retiring and new officers and directors); recipients of all major Society awards, scholarships, and travel grants; session content and speakers; the inaugural HPS Quiz Bowl; the Web Operations fabulous book drawing; and much more.

The HPS is making this special issue available to the public; thus, feel free to share this link with friends and colleagues.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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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