Skip to main content

Understanding the Facts About Radiation and Public Health at Turkey Point

The following guest post was submitted by NEI Media Manager, Mitch Singer.

Last month I attended two public hearings in Homestead, Fla., focusing on the proposed two new additional nuclear plants, Turkey Point 6&7, at the nearby facility that has two operating reactors and a natural gas plant. Turkey Point has significant support and people are upbeat about the prospects of the additional units.

Aerial view of Turkey Point
But as to be expected there were a number of opponents. One person who testified identified himself as a biologist.

Unfortunately, he sounded more like a script writer for a 1950s horror film as, he accused the operators of Turkey Point of causing all sorts of flesh-eating maladies as the result of radiation leaks from the plant.

Back in high school, all of my science teachers taught me the same valuable lesson: science is the pursuit of truth based on evidence from study and experimentation.

It was a lesson I took to heart, and one that I wish more members of the public would apply to questions of public policy, like the licensing of new nuclear power plants.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission sets an individual exposure limit for nuclear plant workers of 5,000 millirem (mrem) per year. The average plant worker receives 115 mrem…that’s less than one percent a year of that amount. To put it into perspective, the average American is exposed to about 600 mrem of radiation per year from all sources. That includes natural background radiation. As it turns out, the largest source of radiation exposure to the general public is from medical applications like X-Rays.

If you were to Google facts about radiation the search results would be voluminous. NEI has saved you the trouble by creating a Radiation: Standards and Organization Provide Safety for Public and Workers fact sheet with top-line information and footnoted sources from reputable, independent organizations including the National Academy of Sciences and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.

I hope the biologist/screen writer takes a look at this information. Perhaps he’ll discover the lessons of scientific study that were drilled into me during my youth in New Jersey by dedicated teachers like Mrs. Lustbader, Mr. Mitros, Mrs. Kratt, Mr. Edack and Mr. Susskind .

Nobody is more concerned with protecting the health and safety of its workers and the surrounding community than the operators of a nuclear power plant. After all, the folks who work at the plant also live in the surrounding community. Their diligence doesn't only buttress their own safety, it also guarantees the safety and health of their family, friends and neighbors.

Perhaps the most compelling input I heard at the hearings was from Faith Banks, a quality assurance manager who has worked at Turkey Point for more than two decades. During that time she never worried about her health because of the emphasis on safety by plant owner, Florida Power & Light.

“I worked before, during and after my two pregnancies,” she said. “I’m healthy and my children are healthy.”

Editor's Note: Over at the News section of the new NEI website, we've recently posted a story about Turkey Point's economic impact on South Florida.

Comments

jimwg said…
Re: "...I wish more members of the public would apply to questions of public policy, like the licensing of new nuclear power plants."

This will never happen if anti-nukes in media and on campuses can keep snowing the public with FUD several magnitudes over the exposure the public receives from largely MIA adult nuclear education. Such is a constant aggressive offensive PR/Ed effort which the nuclear community still sadly hasn't come to grip with much less fight back. Noble efforts such as "Pandora's Promise" simply is no way even near the beginning of adequate.

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…