When it comes to the truth about radiation and health effects, there are no experts who are honest - not in government, not in science, not anywhere. Yet, people would rather listen to liars than challenge their assumptions about the sources of the so-called truth and disregard the purveyors of actual truth on this topic: the non-creditialed self-taught. - Andrew Kishner, May 18, 2013
You are reading from a free online e-book titled 'Deception, Cover-up and Murder in the Nuclear Age.' The book discusses the Trinity test, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hydrogen bomb testing fallout, U.S. experiments done on Marshall Islanders (Project 4.1), the Irene Allen trial, Cosmos 954, the Fukushima meltdowns, Three Mile Island updates, and so much more. Visit the Table of Contents to find this free content.
Footnotes are located at the end of each chapter - press the (right facing) 'PAGE' button icon until you reach the footnotes page, or locate it via the table of contents
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|Chapter 16 - Introduction to environmental radiation monitoring|
Tiered data review
Another weakness of EPA's RADNET is its 'tiered approached to data review,' which makes the public the last entity to see data, and usually that data is QCed and altered.
The EPA notes in 'Expansion and Upgrade of the RadNet Air Monitoring Network, Vol. 1' that 'There are many circumstances in which we expect false anomalous readings from the real-time monitors. Data review will require several hours...it is anticipated that the data will be available to the public within 24 hours after it has completed the normal review process.'
If you have reviewed our watchdogging of the CEMP tiered data approach, you will see for yourselves that 'data review' is a fancy word for (sometimes) erasing from public view data that the EPA (or DOE) doesn't want us to see, especially when it is a truly elevated reading that could cause panic and bad PR. Tiered data review is an invitation for censorship - plain and simple.
Greater NTS un-coverage
A very likely place for a large, accidental release of radiation is in Nevada. There, the threat of an explosion of unexploded nuclear ordnance at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) or a natural disaster capable of resuspending lethal quantities of soil-bearing plutonium is real.8 Nevada is poorly equipped for such radiological disasters.
In Nevada, RADNET currently has two fixed stations, one in Reno and one in Las Vegas (and one in Utah near SLC).
It doesn't seem that more stations will be added in NV and UT although Figs. 3.6.7 and 4.1 of 'Expansion and Upgrade of the RadNet Air Monitoring Network, Vol. 1' show that southwest Utah will get a fixed station (click to p. 74).
In an 'emergency,' EPA *has the ability* to send its 40 or so deployable 'real time' monitors to rural Nevada and Utah but these mobile stations don't have any more capability than the 'CEMP' network (more on that below). CEMP monitoring stations only provide gamma exposure rate (using GM detectors), not gamma spectrometry. Thus, Utahns and Nevadans don't have real-time ability to tell what is in their air. (More about CEMP in footnote 7.)
NTS monitoring, in general, took a huge hit in 1998 when the DOE decided to gut its ability to monitor airborne plutonium - that may leave the test site via winds. Via a document titled 'Routine Radiological Environmental Monitoring Plan' (RREMP), the DOE argued against fully relying on a protocol called 'receptor monitoring' to estimate the dose to the public and instead argued to implement a half-and-half approach of using some monitors and some modeling.
This decision was blasted in a letter by an anonymous group of DOE/EPA scientists in 1998 and criticized formally by the EPA itself.
Had the DOE relied fully on the 'receptor monitoring' approach they would have had to install monitors capable - in order to be compliant with NESHAP - of detecting all radionuclides that 'may contribute up to 10 percent of dose.' This would include alpha, beta, gamma, neutrons, etc... The EPA argued in its formal 1998 letter to the DOE that the DOE's argument 'obscures the basic issue of uncertainty in resuspension of plutonium for air transport to the offsite.' The EPA argued that since the DOE hasn't mapped out the plutonium sources at the NTS and thus they don't know where the plutonium is, then 'receptor monitoring' would be 'the only way to assure that the offsite public is not being unduly exposed.'
The EPA noted that using models and monitors to predict movements of tritium and other radionuclides might be feasible, but 'it is plutonium which is problematic.' They argued that the DOE's reduction to 6 offsite high volume air particulate samplers- these are run continuously for a timespan of one month and best suited to measure radionuclides like plutonium that are hard to detect but have a low action level - was unacceptable: 'Reducing this number to 5-6 is not substantiated, since it is clearly an important measurement. EPA stands by our original proposal for a network of 12 high volume air samplers...for the very reason which has been cited as a shortcoming of receptor monitoring - that the location of the Maximally Exposed Individual might vary from year to year.'
The 6 high volume samplers, which are unaffiliated with CEMP, are nowhere near Las Vegas; they are only near the NNSS's perimeter (Alamo, Beatty, Rachel, Amargosa Valley, Indian Springs, and Goldfield) and there's a gap to the east of the NNSS between Alamo and Indian Springs that is more than 60 miles wide that a plume of plutonium can very easily slip through.
Note that each fixed air monitor station in EPA's 'new' RADNET network will have a high-volume air sampler, however, historically, ash plutonium and uranium isotope analysis on air filters have been completed by RADNET's NAREL about once a year.
The biggest weakness of RADNET, sad to say, is the EPA itself. For example, during the major Fukushima Daiichi nuclear releases in March and April 2011 that reached the U.S. and its territories, the EPA acted in a way that can only be explained as *asleep in the control tower*. We discuss the EPA's potentially criminal negligent decisions to monitor too little, analyze too late and say the most ridiculous things about health effects in our Fukushima essays titled 'Environmental Radiation Monitoring, your First Warning System for radiation' and 'The EPA is Asleep in the Control Tower'.
'Supplementing' RADNET is the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Environmental Measurements Laboratory's (EML) Surface Air Sampling Program (SASP), which has 41 active sampling stations worldwide that count manmade and naturally occurring isotopes in weekly air filter analyses. Public availability of EML data is not a given. The same goes for the CTBTO's worldwide radionuclide monitoring network, with several highly advanced stations in around 8 U.S. locations - some of the stations are EML sampling sites; others are operated by the U.S. DOE. Some of the global CTBTO surface sampling stations have air filter systems equipped with germanium detector systems that can conduct automated on-site gamma isotopic analysis (or 'high resolution gamma ray spectra')! The CTBTO data, however, is 100% non-publicly available (unless the host nation decides to make it public).
Radiation warning regarding plutonium: Advisory to persons living in or visiting the American West
Where do we go from here?
Clearly, radiation monitoring in the U.S. needs much improvement and grassroots-level success stories can help us to find hope and to learn strategic pointers for making this happen in our communities. The stories below show how grassroots groups either helped create or fought to refund authentic, independent radiation monitoring networks.
One of the few excelling radiation monitoring networks in the U.S. is 'Newnet,' which surrounds the Los Alamos National Laboratory and has incorporated real-time gamma/beta/alpha spectrometry capabilities. According to Joseph Masco in his book 'The Nuclear Borderlands,' [p.248] this rare gem of a network came about through a whistleblower's lawsuit: "In 1990, LANL employee David Nochumson discovered the lab's air stacks were out of compliance with Clean Air Act regulations. They harassed him and forced him out of his position. He sued, got his job back and [Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety] immediately followed up on the radioactive air emission issue by getting the [EPA] to audit LANL's radioactive emissions, and eventually by suing LANL for violations under the Clean Air Act. They won the suit and in an unprecedented settlement won DOE funds to set up an independent monitoring system of LANL's radioactive air emissions. By 1998, LANL was the first U.S. nuclear weapons facility in the country to have an independent system for monitoring emissions, backed up with a promise from CCNS to sue for any discrepancies between activist and laboratory monitoring data."
Another success story: in 2003, the DOE stripped all monies from a 10-year-old federally-funded, state-run program in Georgia that independently monitors environmental radiation levels in Georgian communities that are across the border from the DOE's Savannah River Site, which spans Aiken and Barnwell counties in South Carolina. The DOE argued that its continuing monitoring in nearby areas of South Carolina would suffice and responded to later protests of the funding cuts with the argument, "We fund South Carolina and to fund Georgia would be redundant." From 2003 to 2010, Georgia Women's Action for New Directions (WAND) fought for restoration of DOE funding to restart the lapsed independent monitoring program, which measured radiation levels in air, surface water, ground-water, rain water, river water (Savannah River), soil, fish, wild game, vegetables, etc... Georgia WAND's multi-year campaign eventually succeeded when citizens met with and found an ally in Dr. Inez Triay of DOE Environment Management, who was instrumental in undoing the lapse in the monitoring funding. WAND's victory was hailed in a April 13, 2010 press release by the grassroots organization.
Although CCNS and WAND have
experienced recent setbacks because of federal funding (and other) problems,
their efforts show how legal and enduring grassroots campaigning can succeed at
getting governmental support for the citizen monitoring cause. Creating or upgrading, revamping and
restoring community or government radiation monitoring networks is never easy -
it is an effort that requires community education, hard work and persistence.
The good news is that any noble effort - if it endures and is truly democratic - will eventually succeed.
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