The World Health Organization has published a new document, Framework for a Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC framework). This document is intended to be used by practitioners of public health, health policy makers, and authorities and agencies responsible for managing emergencies, incidents, or events where the health of populations is at risk. It provides high-level methodical guidance for designing, developing, and strengthening of public health emergency operations centres.
EnergySolutions, Inc., has announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Valhi, Inc., and operator of a waste-disposal facility located in Andrews County, Texas.
Completion of the sale is subject to certain customary closing conditions outlined in the transaction agreement. "Combining our capabilities will bring improved operational efficiencies and allow us to deliver a safe and seamless supply chain that better serves the needs of commercial and government customers," said David Lockwood, president and chief executive officer of EnergySolutions. "In addition to the ongoing utilization of all the acquired assets, we intend to continue to seek expansion opportunities in the nuclear services area." EnergySolutions and WCS will continue to operate as independent companies until completion of the sale.
Registration is open for the 2016 Health Physics Society (HPS) Midyear Meeting, being held 31 January–3 February in Austin, Texas!
Registration is also open for the meeting hotel. HPS has arranged for a special rate of $169 a night at the Renaissance Austin Hotel, 9721 Arboretum Boulevard, Austin, TX 78759. The hotel is located just 29 kilometers from Austin International Airport.
The International Atomic Emergency Agency has published the new document Preparedness and Response for a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency: Safety Requirements, which establishes the requirements for preparedness and response for a nuclear or radiological emergency. It expands on, complements, and organizes the requirements relating to emergency management established in Safety Series No. 115, International Basic Safety Standards for Protection Against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources. It is available as a free PDF by download or a print version for purchase.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is requesting information from the general public on a number of issues associated with medical treatment of patients with sodium iodide 131I (hereafter referred to as 131I). Specifically, the NRC would like input on patient concerns about medical treatment involving the use of 131I, information that physicians use to make decisions on when it is safe to release 131I patients based on radiation exposure concerns, radiation safety information used by 131I patients after their release, and the availability of a radiation safety informational guidance brochure for 131I patients that can be distributed nationwide. The information collected will be used to develop a website to provide patients with clear and consistent information about radioactive iodine treatments and to revise NRC patient release guidance.
Submit information and comments by 16 February 2016.
The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging meeting will be held at the Radiological Society of North America meeting on Monday, 30 November 2015, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. (CST) in Room S 105 D of McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. The Image Gently Alliance and activities will be discussed.
Attendees are asked to RSVP no later than Friday, 20 November 2015. Speakers will be Donald Frush, MD, Keith Strauss, MSc, and Andrew Einstein, MD.
Health Physics Society (HPS) President Nancy P. Kirner provided comments to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in response to petitions regarding the linear no-threshold model and standards for protection against radiation.
The letter refers to two HPS position statements "which strongly support the petitioners' requests for a re-evaluation of the basis for U.S. radiation protection standards, and one position that affirms that the current dose limits are adequate . . .". The position statements are included in the comments sent to the NRC.
In this issue of Health Physics News, we bring you a cover story of international suspense and intrigue. Of course we mean none other than the lowdown on what transpired at the 59th Annual General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which was held 14–18 September 2015 in Vienna, Austria. You will be fascinated!
This month President Nancy Kirner reminds us that National Radiation Protection Professionals Week is just around the corner. And for the linear no-threshold (LNT) addicts, she provides cogent comments on current LNT initiatives. Clearly LNT is a matter of interest to our members because two other stalwart health physicists join the discussion in Members' Points of View. The editors encourage our members to continue the dialogue by using our LinkedIn presence.
How about the Colorado State University (CSU) students who got a chance to visit Japan and witness firsthand the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident? Read all about the experiences of six CSU health physics graduate students who participated in the Fukushima Ambassadors Program.
The November newsletter pages are filled also with valuable news items of general interest:
- Do you know how important consequence-management exercises are? If not, you need to read Ted Lazo's column "Exercising to Death."
- The Student Corner this month profiles PhD candidate Janelle Mann at CSU.
- The Boice Report assures us that the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, to stay current, intends to conduct a review of recent human health studies that are applicable to radiation protection.
- David Connolly makes us aware of an important new government entity called the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), which was established to create a cellular network that would be used by first responders in an emergency.
- The REAC/TS column emphasizes the role that health physicists play in communicating radiation hazards to medical practitioners.
- Anyone in need of health physics training will surely find what they need among the listings under Short Courses.
For your convenience, the Health Physics Society (HPS) is continuing to make Health Physics News available on the public side of the HPS website. Click here to access the current issue of Health Physics News. Web Operations is always eager to receive your feedback on how we are doing. Please contact me, Howard Dickson, at email@example.com.
There is a new page on the Students area of the Health Physics Society website called Internships. There are a number of internships listed with deadlines in November 2015. Check out the Internship web page.
Argonne National Laboratory Internship
Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) will be sponsoring a one-year internship in 2016 focused on a radon awareness program in the International Atomic Energy Agency's Radiation Safety and Monitoring Section.
To be eligible, interested students must have completed at least two years of undergraduate studies and be a U.S. citizen. Recent graduates are eligible up to two years after obtaining their last degree (bachelor's, master's, PhD). There is no age limit.
Complete details, including how to apply, are posted on the internship page of ANL's website. The deadline for applications is 15 November 2015 and the internship is scheduled to start in June 2016.
International Atomic Energy Agency Internships
See the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Internships web page for more opportunities.
HPS Medical Health Physics Section
The Medical Health Physics Section of the Health Physics Society (HPS) is looking for student volunteers on a short-term research project titled "Radiation Safety Guidance for Death of Patients Containing Sealed or Unsealed Therapy Sources."
This is a great opportunity for students who are interested in becoming a radiation safety officer in a medical facility. The results will be presented at the next HPS annual meeting with possible travel award/distinctions too.
If interested, send your resume/CV to our health physics volunteer lead, Thuquynh Dinh, by noon of 6 November 2015. She will forward the resumes to the Medical Health Physics Section for the final selection.
Student members who upgrade their student membership to an associate or full Health Physics Society (HPS) membership now have a chance to win one year of FREE membership! Twice a year (January and June), one individual who upgraded his or her membership will be randomly selected to receive one year of free membership in the HPS after graduation. The first drawing will occur in January 2016. This drawing is intended to assist health physics professionals who are just starting out in their careers.
For the chance to receive a free year of membership dues, upgrade your student membership today!
The linear no-threshold (LNT) model has been the basis for radiation protection regulations; however, the newly established XLNT Group contends that considerable research suggests weaknesses in this approach that merit revision. To support this revision, an XLNT action plan and supporting group have been established. The XLNT Group welcomes additional members and their input with a goal of establishing a credible basis for future radiation protection regulations.
The action plan is available upon request from Associate Professor Mohan Doss, PhD, physicist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) 2014 Annual Report has been issued. It is available for free download from the ICRP website.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has publicly released The Fukushima Daiichi Accident, a report by the Director General along with five technical volumes on this topic by international experts.
The report assesses the causes and consequences of the 11 March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, triggered by a tsunami that followed a massive earthquake. It was the worst emergency at a nuclear power plant since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
"The report considers human, organizational and technical factors and aims to provide an understanding of what happened, and why, so that the necessary lessons learned can be acted upon by governments, regulators and nuclear power plant operators throughout the world," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in his Foreword to the Report. "There can be no grounds for complacency about nuclear safety in any country."
The report states that "[a]n increase in thyroid cancer among children is unlikely" after the meltdown at Fukushima in March 2011. Increased thyroid cancer is generally the leading health concern after catastrophic nuclear reactor accidents such as at Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The IAEA stated, "Because the reported thyroid doses attributable to the accident were generally low, an increase in childhood thyroid cancer attributable to the accident is unlikely."
The only caveat was that estimates of thyroid equivalent doses incurred immediately after the accident are uncertain, owing to a lack of reliable personal radiation monitoring data. Detailed screening of children's thyroid glands is being done now in Japan; this will possibly increase the number of children diagnosed with thyroid abnormalities, but if so, this would be due to detection of nodules at smaller sizes.
Guidelines for Handling Decedents Contaminated With Radioactive Materials, by Charles M. Wood, Frank DePaolo, and R. Doggett Whitaker, is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The guidelines address both nuclear detonation and radiological dispersal device (RDD) scenarios, as well as procedures to follow after reactor accidents, transportation accidents involving radioactive material, or decedents who recently received injection or implantation of a radiopharmaceutical.
Although there are laws regulating radioactive material in living patients, there are no federal regulations regarding radioactive material in decedents. Some points in the guidelines:
- People who die immediately from blast injuries can have external contamination but not internal contamination (unless there is radioactive shrapnel). Persons who die later may have inhaled or ingested contaminants, though unlikely in concentrations posing a health risk to caretakers.
- The medicolegal investigative team usually consists of a medicolegal investigator, a photographer, and a scribe. They should attempt to limit the spread of contamination.
- Team members should wear protective clothing with a thermoluminescent dosimeter (TLD) inside and a self-reading dosimeter outside. The TLD is the legal record, and the outside dosimeter is for safety.
- Annual limit on dose to a radiation worker is 0.05 sievert.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is ceasing work on a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) pilot study (Phase 1 and Phase 2) of cancer risks in populations near U.S. nuclear power facilities. The NRC determined that continuing the work was impractical, given the significant amount of time and resources needed and the agency's current budget constraints.
The NRC continues to find U.S. nuclear power plants comply with strict requirements that limit radiation releases from routine operations. The NRC and state agencies regularly analyze environmental samples from near the plants. These analyses show the releases, when they occur, are too small to cause observable increases in cancer risk near the facilities.
"We're balancing the desire to provide updated answers on cancer risk with our responsibility to use congressionally provided funds as wisely as possible," said Brian Sheron, director of the NRC's Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research. "The NAS estimates it would be at least the end of the decade before they would possibly have answers for us, and the costs of completing the study were prohibitively high."
Since this is the NRC's decision, direct any questions related to the decision to NRC Public Affairs Officer Scott Burnell at 301-415-8200. The NAS can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Analytical Management Program (NAMP), operated by Savannah River National Lab, will present the free webcast "High Resolution Gamma Ray Spectrometry Analyses for Normal Operations and Radiological Incident Response" on Thursday, 24 September 2015, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter is Robert Litman, PhD.
Persons interested in viewing the presentation must register online.
Upcoming webcasts include the following:
22 October 2015 Nuclear Radiation Safety
19 November 2015 The Diverse Geologic Environments of Natural Uranium Resources
10 December 2015 Introduction to Nuclear Forensics
The Canadian Radiation Protection Association (CRPA) will hold its 38th annual conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 17–20 May 2016.
The theme for the CRPA's 2016 conference is "The Sky's the Limit: From Space Exploration to Deep Geological Repositories." Against this backdrop, CRPA will provide insight into how radiation affects our lives from deep space to natural background and far below the surface. The conference will include invited guest presentations on ionizing and nonionizing radiation, contributed papers spanning the full range of health physics and radiation protection, professional development courses, and exhibitor's displays.
In Toronto, Canada's largest city, you'll discover ways to improve your practice, network with colleagues to find solutions to common problems, and experience unique local hospitality. The annual banquet will be held at the Hockey Hall of Fame and is included in the registration.
The venue is the Allstream Centre, 105 Princes' Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Point of Contact: Sue Singer, CRPA Secretariat, 613-253-3779, email@example.com
Next year's Local Arrangements Committee is already working on the 61st Annual Meeting of the Health Physics Society, which will be held 17–21 July 2016 in Spokane, Washington.
The committee has set up a website that is full of information on things for you and your family to do in your free time. More information will be added as plans are confirmed. Plan to attend the meeting and to enjoy the local area.