The head of a United Nations (UN) panel mandated to assess the effects of radiation exposure reiterated on 17 Nov 2016 its view that there is no evident increase in the incidence of cancer caused by the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Addressing a gathering of local school, medical and administrative officials in Aizuwakamatsu city, Fukushima Prefecture, Malcolm Crick, secretary of the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), said it is inconceivable that there would be any rise in the rate of cancer occurrences stemming from the accident. Crick made the comment as he briefed the audience on a follow-up report tracing the impact of radiation from the crippled plant.
The report that followed the committee's 2013 version evaluated new scientific information published since then on the amount of radioactive substances released into the atmosphere, ocean and rivers, their effects on food, and doses of radiation. The new report regards radiation exposure doses arising from the accident as much lower than in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster because preventive measures were taken at the time of the Fukushima accident.
The report says the incidence of thyroid cancer among Fukushima children greatly differs from trends seen in the Chernobyl case. Comprehensive and highly precise examinations undertaken by the Fukushima prefectural government have enabled the discovery of tiny thyroid cancer that cannot be usually detected, thereby boosting the tendency of morbidity prevalence rates, according to the report.
Adapted from article.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is seeking a qualified candidate for appointment to its Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS). The ACRS is an advisory group that provides independent technical review of, and advice on, matters related to the safety of existing and proposed nuclear facilities, and on the adequacy of proposed reactor safety standards. It also advises the Commission on issues in health physics and radiation protection.
The ACRS’s primary focus is on safety issues associated with the operation of 99 U.S. commercial nuclear power plants and regulatory initiatives including risk-informed and performance-based regulations, license renewal, power uprates, new reactor applications and the use of mixed oxide and high burn up fuels. In addition, the ACRS may be asked to provide advice on radiation protection, radioactive waste management and earth sciences in the agency’s licensing reviews for fuel fabrication, enrichment and waste disposal facilities.
Interested individuals should find candidate criteria and details at the corresponding Federal Register notice available on the NRC website. Resumes will be accepted until 30 December 2016. Resumes should be sent to Jamila Perry and Alesha Bellinger, ACRS, Mail Stop T2E-26, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, or e-mail Jamila.Perry@nrc.gov, and Alesha.Bellinger@nrc.gov. For more information on the ACRS go the NRC website.
Adapted from NRC News Release.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has detected a new record-high level of radon and is once again encouraging state residents to test their homes for this radioactive gas, a leading cause of lung cancer.
In October 2016 a home in southern Lehigh County showed a radon level of more than 228,500 Bq m-3, the highest recorded in the state. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set an action level for radon concentration in homes at 148 Bq m-3 (4 pCi/L in the traditional units used by EPA). Homes testing above this level should have a radon-reduction system installed.
Because of its geology, Pennsylvania is prone to high radon levels. Radon has been detected in all 67 counties, and about 40% of homes in the state have levels above EPA's action level. In 2014 a number of homes in the southern Lehigh County area were found to have radon levels over 37,000 Bq m-3. That area is near the Reading Prong, a geological section of granite rock that historically has generated high levels of radon.
For more information, including information on interpreting radon test results and finding a Pennsylvania-certified radon contractor, visit the DEP Radon Division website or call 800-23-RADON (800-237-2366).
(Adapted from a DEP news release)
Descriptions of the Professional Education Program courses (PEPs) and Continuing Education Lectures (CELs) that will be offered at the 2017 HPS Midyear Meeting in Bethesda, Maryland, are now posted on the meetings page. The PEP courses will be given on Sunday, 22 January 2017. Descriptions of the American Accademy of Health Physics courses that will be held on Saturday, 21 January 2017 are also posted.
A long listing of scholarships, fellowships, and summer programs for students is available on the Health Physics Society website. Some deadlines are mid-November, so it is a good time to look through the listing if you are a health physics college student. There are listings for both undergraduate and graduate students.
Registration is open for the 2017 Health Physics Society (HPS) Midyear Meeting! Here is exciting information about the meeting.
Online registration is open for the 2017 HPS Midyear Meeting in Bethesda, Maryland, which will be held 22–25 January at the Bethesda North Marriott.
Save money by registering before the preregistration deadline of 21 December.
HPS has arranged for a special rate of $169 a night at the Bethesda North Marriott.
Use this link for the discounted HPS rate: https://aws.passkey.com/event/14767364/owner/2644099/home
HPS Online Program
The HPS schedule will be online at the end of November.
We look forward to seeing you in Bethesda in January!
Plan to attend the 2017 Health Physics Society Midyear Meeting 22–25 January 2017 in Bethesda, Maryland.
The registration form in PDF format is now available.
The California Department of Public Health in emergency preparedness has launched a new project to recruit health physicists and other radiation professionals to join the California Disaster Healthcare Volunteers Program. This program is essential to California's preparedness for all hazards.
Currently, there are very few radiation-related professionals in the program. A few more are needed to serve as technical disaster service workers in the case of a large-scale radiological emergency. For example, radiation emergency volunteers could be deployed to assist local public health departments in the screening and decontamination of evacuees after a large radiological incident.
More information can be found on the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers website.
In response to requests, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a free online training program of five modules to better equip poison center (PC) staff to serve the public during radiological emergencies.
The mission of the CDC is to protect America from health, safety, and security threats, both foreign and in the United States. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, the CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens in doing the same.
As part of this mission, the CDC works with PC professionals who receive calls from the public asking for information or guidance about exposure to a wide array of harmful substances. Radiation-related calls are not as frequent, so specialists have fewer opportunities to exercise and maintain their knowledge. PC professionals may benefit from training that enables them to better discuss topics like ionizing radiation exposure, radiological contamination issues, and medical countermeasures for radiation-related illness.
The CDC radiation training program is free and consists of self-led modules that offer user-friendly language, audio and video presentations, charts, and other graphics. CEU, CME, CPE, and CNE continuing education units are available upon successful completion.
This training may also be of interest to other public health professionals. For questions, contact HSBradtraining@cdc.gov. To access the training, go to the radiation training page of the CDC website.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that it has issued Revision 2 to NUREG–1556, Volumes 1 and 3, and Revision 1 to NUREG–1556, Volumes 2, 4, 10, 15, and 19, revising licensing guidance for various materials licenses. These documents have been updated to include information on updated regulatory requirements, safety culture, security of radioactive materials, protection of sensitive information, and changes in regulatory policies and practices. The documents are intended for use by applicants, licensees, and the NRC staff.
Topics are as follows:
- Volume 1 - Portable gauges
- Volume 2 - Industrial radiography
- Volume 3 - Sealed sources and devices
- Volume 4 - Fixed gauges
- Volume 10 - Master material licenses
- Volume 15 - Changes of control and bankruptcy
- Volume 19 - Reciprocity
These NUREG–1556 volumes are available on the NRC's public website on the Consolidated Guidance About Materials Licenses (NUREG-1556) page.
Health Physics students, here's your opportunity to publish your work free of page charges in the journals Health Physics and Operational Radiation Safety. Mike Ryan, editor of Health Physics, and Craig Little, editor of Operational Radiation Safety, are always looking for ways to encourage students to submit papers for publication. An objection that we sometimes hear is that students have no funds to pay for published page charges. While the page charges of the Health Physics Society's (HPS) journals are modest at $70 per published page, that amount is still sometimes an obstacle. Therefore, for the next year, from 1 July 2016 through 30 June 2017, we are offering to publish papers written by students free of page charges.
To qualify for publication without page charges, the paper must be submitted to one of the journals via the Editorial Manager website before the student author graduates. The student's academic advisor must verify the student's status. Additionally, the student must be the senior and corresponding author of the paper. Finally, since color figures are expensive to produce, there will be a charge for such figures at the rate published in the author guidelines on the Editorial Manager website.
Recently, a number of websites have reported grossly false information regarding radioactive releases during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. Here are the key facts that refute those claims.
The erroneous information cites a recently “declassified report”:
The claim is that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) “declassified” documents about Fukushima in December 2015. The truth is that the documents were requested through the Freedom of Information Act and were provided in May 2012, and more documents were provided in March 2014. None of these documents were ever “classified” in the legal sense.
The erroneous information claims that the report says “25% of the total fuel in unit 2 . . . , 50% of the total spent fuel from unit 3 . . . , and 100% of the total spent fuel . . . from unit 4” was released to the atmosphere:
Yes, these are the hypothetical releases that were evaluated in an attempt to understand the worst possible situation. No, these are not the amounts that were released from the reactors or spent fuel rods.
The truth is that there was a high degree of uncertainty regarding actual releases early in the accident and continuing for several weeks. As a result, the NRC asked the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC) to provide dose estimates for two or more hypothetical scenarios to set bounds on the potential protective actions that might be taken.
The NRC documents clearly identify those percentages as a hypothetical bounding case, which they asked NARAC to consider. The hypothetical releases were described as a “worst-case scenario” and “realistic worst case.” The NARAC report clearly states the scenario was hypothetical, and the documents also state “There is no evidence this scenario has occurred.”
What was released?
Actual (not hypothetical) data show that ultimately there was major fuel damage in Units 1, 2, and 3 reactor cores. Through about mid-March of 2011, releases from these cores were primarily volatile fission products released to air, as well as some soluble fission products released to water. There has been no evidence of releases from any of the on-site spent fuel pools (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/fukushima-accident/). The total release from the Fukushima accident was about 10-15% that of Chernobyl, though by element, the iodine release was less than 25% and the cesium release was less than 45% of the Chernobyl releases (http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/AdditionalVolumes/P1710/Pub1710-TV1-Web.pdf).
Want more true facts about the Fukushima accident?
Check out the reputable resources listed on the Health Physics Society’s website at http://hps.org/fukushima/.
Barbara Hamrick, CHP, JD