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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.


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

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