The EPA has updated protective action guidelines in regards to radiation. The government’s legal safety standards haven’t changed. The new guidelines aren’t enforceable rules — they are suggestions to help local officials make tough decisions. In fact, the guidance repeatedly refers to meeting existing standards, not flouting them. The question, though, is how to handle a big radiological release in the real world.
Nextbigfuture recommends looking at enhanced steps to mitigate damage
Besides balancing the existing risks of sheltering in place versus evacuation risks there should be an examination of cost effective upgrades to mitigating, limiting and avoiding problems.
What can be done to improve sheltering in place at senior centers and hospitals ? There can be some simple and cost effective structural improvements.
What can be done to mitigate and limit damage ? Besides improved cleanup there can be fast response patching like inflatable covers that would limit radiation to the nuclear plant and prevent or limit how much is allowed to get into the atmosphere. Fukushima had radiation releases over months from used fuel pools and from damaged reactor structures. We have now developed prepared capping of deep ocean oil leaks like the BP spill, we can prepare fast response containment structures to limit and localize radiation leaks.
New EPA guidelines
Following a nuclear disaster, it could be a long time before radiation meets the EPA’s usual safety levels. In the meantime, when is it absolutely necessary to restrict the water people can drink or to abandon an area? Moving people out of a hospital’s intensive care unit, for example, poses its own risks. And when is it safe enough to move back (with precautions)? There are costs to keeping people out of their homes and away from their jobs for long stretches. Repaving roads and restricting crop growth, for example, might make an area habitable while cleanup continues. The guidance encourages local officials to think about these questions — with some sense of where the threshold contamination levels might lie — before they have to make those calls.
After Fukushima, it became clear that the initial radiation level could be reduced significantly by cleanup. We are assuming it won’t just lay fallow for 50 years.
Thyroid conditions among juvenile population in three prefectures across Japan — Aomori, Yamanashi and Nagasaki — are not much different from those of their counterparts in Fukushima Prefecture hit by the March 2011 nuclear crisis, a recent survey by the Environment Ministry showed Friday.
The ministry conducted the study from last November to March this year on a total of 4,365 people aged 3 to 18 in the cities of Hirosaki in Aomori, Kofu in Yamanashi and Nagasaki, and concluded that the percentages of detecting small lumps and other anomalies in the surveyed population were “almost equal to or slightly lower in Fukushima.”
It turns out the new test being employed is so sophisticated that it is finding mild abnormalities never detected before. Of course this didn’t prevent the Japan Daily Press raising the specter of “another Chernobyl” because three cases of childhood thyroid cancer have now been found in the Fukushima province over the last two years – as if thyroid cancer never existed before nuclear energy.