Earlier this week, NEI announced an industry initiative to...
...[E]nhance detection, management and communication about inadvertent radiological releases in groundwater that are below federal standards at nuclear power plants.The program, of course, was generated in response to the tritium issue we've dealt with from time to time here on NEI Nuclear Notes. Click here for an AP account of the announcement.
I bring all of this up only because last week during an NRC briefing on emergency planning (transcript not yet available online), our old friend Paul Gunter of Nuclear Information and Resource Service decided to go off topic, and include a short statement on the tritium releases at Exelon's Braidwood nuclear power plant. And it was his statement that led to a rather tart response from Commissioner Edward McGaffigan, an appointee of President Clinton [emphasis in bold face --EMc]:
COMMISSIONER MCGAFFIGAN: Okay, Mr. Gunter. We're coming back to you. I'm going to stay off the point of the purpose of the meeting because you went off the point. But your last remark in my last round was to get to, tritium passes through the placenta, which I honestly think you specialize in factoids and irrelevant facts. Potassium 40 passes through the placenta. So, again, I ask you a rhetorical question. And it isn't meant to be rhetorical because I guess I'm just trying to understand how extreme your organization is.For more from our archives on NIRS and their activities, click here.
Do we tell women who are pregnant to give up Brazil nuts and bananas for fear of -- because potassium 40 is going to end up in their baby, in their fetus, in a far higher dose than anything that they'd ever get from drinking tritiated water. I mean, factors of 100 higher. So tell me, two millirem a year is what a woman gets from eating a banana a day. Is NIRS' position that we give up bananas?
MR. GUNTER: Commissioner McGaffigan, again, our concern is unplanned and unmonitored release paths
COMMISSIONER MCGAFFIGAN: You're not answering the question.
MR. GUNTER: What I'm saying is that we're talking about regulatory practices governing unmonitored and unplanned release paths
COMMISSIONER MCGAFFIGAN: Okay.
MR. GUNTER: And the right of the public to be alerted to such events. That's the --
COMMISSIONER MCGAFFIGAN: Then you go to Illinois and you use factoids or made-up facts or irrelevant facts in order to try to condition the public to -- and to spur fear in the public. You yourself have done that. I mean, you yourself go and do this placenta thing, and you --
MR. GUNTER: It was actually Dr. Arjun Makhajani who made that --
COMMISSIONER MCGAFFIGAN: He's another --
MR. GUNTER: And also --
COMMISSIONER MCGAFFIGAN: He's another person who doesn't know anything about radiation.
MR. GUNTER: And also an obstetrician made that statement. It wasn't me. I repeated it.
COMMISSIONER MCGAFFIGAN: Yes, well, you'll repeat anything that serves to spur --
COMMISSIONER JACZKO: Mr. Chairman, I --
COMMISSIONER MCGAFFIGAN: I have a right to use my time as I see fit, Mr. Jaczko. So I honestly think that you should -- if the Nuclear Disinformation Resource Service wants to produce disinformation, you should, as a matter of consistency, tell pregnant women to avoid air travel, to obviously avoid the Capitol, to avoid bananas, to avoid Brazil nuts, and to do all sorts of other stupid things.
Technorati tags: Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Power, Environment, Energy, Tritium, Paul Gunter, NIRS