I take exception with Tami Thatcher’s outrage at the Trump Administration’s intention to revise the nation’s radwaste classification system because that’s about the only positive thing I’ve seen come out of it so far. If some of our sillier laws, rules and regulations aren’t replaced with equally inane ones (TBD) that certainly would be a worthwhile achievement.

Unfortunately, most of the people he’s chosen to head his agencies are more determined to undermine them than anything else; i.e., insist upon throwing babies out with the bathwater. Experts like Tami try to scare innumerate (normal) people with big numbers and technical-sounding acronyms (e.g., a DailyKos posting’s big scary number was that “tuna caught near Japan’s Fukushima contained up to 1000 Bq/kg of 137Cs”).

The reason behind this is that such experts apply an overly simplistic linear no-threshold (LNT) model to vanishing small radiation exposures because it’s both politically correct and hyper-conservative. It’s especially useful to anyone seeking to frighten people or rationalize super-profitable radwaste boondoggling.

The fact is that there are dose thresholds below which the same cell repair mechanisms protecting us from free radical damage caused by the fact that we breathe a reactive gas (oxygen) also protect us from free radicals generated by low dose rate ionizing radiation. That’s why the nuclear industry’s workers live at least as long as do those in other professions and there have been no massive die-offs after the initial effects of Hiroshima’s bombing or screw-ups like Fukushima's "disaster" have dissipated.

Darryl Siemer

Idaho Falls

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