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In his last remaining months in office, a newly uncovered internal Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") document (.pdf) shows that George W. Bush  has undertaken a massive effort to deregulate ionizing radiation in drinking water.  The document, a confidential EPA draft Protective Action Guidance ("PAG"), was obtained by the trade publication Inside EPA.

Environmental organizations this week seized on the draft guidance, as it proposes to increase the acceptable levels of ionizing radiation hundreds to millions times higher than what is acceptable under EPA's current PAG. This last-ditch effort by the Bush Administration to appease the nuclear industry would amount to the wholesale abandonment and destruction of decades worth of EPA regulation that has protected the American public from radioactivity.

President Bush, now being publicly excoriated for leading the charge to deregulate the mortgage and securities industries, now wants to deregulate nuclear meltdowns and radiation in drinking water!  The effort, not-so-coincidentally, comes as nuclear shills push for a substantial increase in the amount of power the United States receives from this failed technology.

Bush's adventures in deregulating radiation started in 2006, when his Administration issued guidance for cleaning up after a possible "dirty bomb" attack on U.S. soil.  The guidance adopted a heavily criticized process called "optimization," which allowed for the long-term reoccupation of contaminated areas without any cleanup at doses as large as the equivalent of 50,000 chest X-rays.  The National Academy of Sciences ("NAS") estimates that exposure to radiation levels this high (about 50,000 X-rays) would result in cancer for one in three people exposed--this is on top of the cancers that occur without the accident-related radiation.  

At the time "optimization" was adopted, environmental organizations publicly warned that Bush would attempt to expand the use of "optimization" to a range of radioactive events that had nothing to do with a dirty bomb attack.  The draft EPA guidance has confirmed  what the environmental organizations feared in 2006: the Bush Administration is now attempting to expand "optimization" to a whole host of radioactive events.

The most astounding aspect of this proposed policy is the deregulation of ionizing radiation in your family's drinking water.  The proposed PAG includes permissible concentrations of radioactivity in drinking water at levels that are orders of magnitude higher than the levels EPA has traditionally used.

For example, the proposal would permit cesium-137 in drinking water at nearly 14,000 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) without taking any protective action.  For decades, EPA has absolutely forbidden cesium-137 in drinking water at levels higher than 200 pCi/L.  

The new standard for strontium-90 would be nearly 7,000 pCi/L, whereas EPA's longstanding Maximum Concentration Limit (MCL) under the Safe Drinking Water Act is 8 pCi/L: nearly one thousand times lower.

The numbers get more dire as we move down the list!  For iodine-131 the limit is relaxed by a factor of approximately THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND TO ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND, when compared to the existing MCL.  

Nickel-63 contamination would be allowed at 1,220,000 pCi/L compared to the longstanding EPA MCL of 50!!  In comparison to EPA’s existing guidance for emergencies, Removal Action Levels, the new standards would be about a hundred times to hundreds of thousands of times more lax.

The draft plan would also make "optimization" applicable to events such as a fire at a nuclear fuel manufacturing plant; an accident at a commercial nuclear power plant or Department of Energy nuclear site; a release from a facility manufacturing or using radioisotopes or from a transportation accident; and many other radiation releases for which a protective response may be considered.

The Bush Administration now claims that in the event of a nuclear meltdown at a commercial power plant, a radioactive release would only need to be cleaned to a level where one in three people would get cancer due to the ensuing radiation exposure.

Several years ago, in a study funded by EPA dubbed BEIR VII, the NAS examined the most up-to-date science on risks from ionizing radiation so EPA could update its then-current risk estimates.  In the report, the NAS concluded that cancer risks from ionizing radiation were higher than what EPA and other federal agencies had previously assumed.

The pro-nuke activists and shills in this country have been touting nuclear power as the new Massiah to cure all problems from energy independence, national security, to global warming.  If nuclear power is so "safe" then why the big rush to totally deregulate exposure to ionizing radiation?  Why do it under Bush?  Why do it when everyone is paying attention to an election?

The nuclear industry is full of people who put profits first and the safety of the American public quite literally dead-last.  The fact is nuclear power entails the widespread use of the most dangerous substances known to mankind.  While the profits may be high, these people, who are at their core pathological Bushophyles, cannot be trusted with the health and safety of the American public.

Just as deregulation has been a catastrophe in other industries, the deregulation of radiation in drinking water is another failed policy proposal by Bush that just might squeeze through without anyone noticing until it's too late.

Report comparing EPA's proposed PAG to current PAG.

Letter to EPA Administrator Johnson by several national and regional denouncing the plan.

EPA's leaked proposed PAG.

2006 group letter warning of the expansion of "optimization."

2005 group letter asking DHS not to deregulate dirty-bomb cleanup.

Originally posted to TonyZ on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 02:41 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  None of this worries me much. (0+ / 0-)

    Main thing is almost all of it can be tied up in courts until Obama gets in and burns the Bush Executive Orders and the like.

    We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty.

    by TheStormofWar on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 02:44:57 PM PDT

  •  Bush is trying to do much more damage than this (7+ / 0-)

    Allow current emissions at a power plant to match the highest levels produced by that plant, overturning an existing rule that more strictly limits such emission increases. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s estimate, it would allow millions of tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.

    Ease limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants located near national parks.

    Allow increased emissions from oil refineries, chemical factories and other industrial plants with complex manufacturing operations.

    Allow the nation’s natural gas pipelines to operate at higher pressures.

    Poverty is the worst form of violence. - Ghandi

    by mary13L on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 02:48:05 PM PDT

  •  Radi-fucking-ation? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, wbr, kaolin, TonyZ, geodemographics

    What the fuck?

    It's not like you can filter out or sanitize radi-fucking-ation from water!

    What the hell???

    You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

    by DawnG on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 02:48:33 PM PDT

  •  From 2001 arsenic to 2008 radiation (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, wbr, kaolin, geodemographics, DrFitz

    Bookends of the most disastrous presidency in the history of America.

  •  Um (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, Joffan, bryfry, kaolin, Blubba

    I don't believe maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) have been promulgated for the various radionuclides you're citing.  According to EPA's Primary MCL list, the only radionuclides that are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act are alpha and beta radiation, radium 226 and 228, and uranium.

    I think the authors of the report you've cited have confused Protective Action Guidance levels with MCLs promulgated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.  The difference is that PAGs are guidance and the courts have ruled guidance does not have the weight of law as regulations (such as the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations) do.

    •  Guidance is for forming regulations, isn't it? (0+ / 0-)

      I've written a bit about regulations but it is still byzantine and confusing.

      I have a feeling that even with all our work and research, there is much evil about this administration that is still hidden and may never be uncovered, while its effects grind away at ordinary people.

      •  No (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, Joffan, bryfry, Blubba

        Guidance is guidance.  

        My understanding is that once a regulatory concept matures (or a new statute is issued requiring an agency to write rules), regulations typically start with an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) published in the Federal Register.

        After comments are received on the ANPRM, the agency (here, it would be EPA) may move forward and propose rules, which, along with a preamble, typically documents the agency's thought process leading to the proposed rule.  This also is in the Federal Register.

        After the public comment period on the proposed rule closes, the agency may move forward and issue final rules, published in the Federal Register.  The preamble to the final rule typically provides a summary of the comments received on the proposed rule and how the agency resolved them.  You also can request a copy of the docket on rulemaking (or proposed rules) for background information considered and/or received by the agency in its rule making process.

        Not all proposed rules become rules.  Some sit around in perpetuity and are used as guidance (without the force of law) whereas some are formally withdrawn.

  •  A question for our Constitutional scholars (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Isn't endangering the American people an act of treason or treason-like behavior? If so, can't we take this traitor to court, find him guilty, remove him and the other Hitler Youth from the White House? Then finally turn him over to the Hague for War Crimes Tribunals?

    I'm just sayin'

    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives. John Stuart Mill

    by Maximilien Robespierre on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 03:17:21 PM PDT

    •  Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness (0+ / 0-)

      All are diminished or destroyed by this administration.

      So is the right to petition for redress of grievances.

      Treason needs to be redefined to prevent sick bastards like these from pulling this stuff ever again.

  •  Can't Control Them (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Kill them off... Seems like the repug way. Bush and his crew should be taken to court and be put on trial as murderers. They are no better then the guy who shoots a kid to take his shoes.

    I would rather have the freedom to live in a state of fear, than to live in fear of losing that freedom to the state.

    by Animayhem on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 03:18:04 PM PDT

  •  Not even a "Reach Around" from Chimpie. eom (0+ / 0-)

    "See you at the Debates; Bitches"

    by MrDeadeye2U on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 03:21:09 PM PDT

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