Are You Silly to Reject the Policy of
Putting Radioactive Scrap-Metal
W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.,
and Egan O'Connor, CNR Exec. Director.
December 1, 1997.
- Putting radioactive scrap metal into commerce will cause cases of fatal radiation-induced cancer. How many cases? That would depend on the aggregate extra radiation dose delivered to people, and that dose is impossible to estimate in advance, and will never be measured in practice.
- The only way, that use of radioactive scrap would not kill any people, is for a safe threshold-dose of radiation to exist, below which all radiation-induced mutations are flawlessly repaired. That is the "safe-dose fallacy," because existing human evidence shows that flawless repair of radiation-induced mutations does not occur at any dose-level.
- Like every other "Below Regulatory Concern" (BRC) practice, commercial use of radioactive scrap-metal amounts to permission to commit premeditated random murder --- as does every "permissible dose" of nuclear pollution. These BRC and "permissible" doctrines violate human rights in a profound way.
- The fact that people voluntarily expose themselves to extra radiation in medical procedures, in flying, in living at high altitude or in radon-contaminated homes, is irrelevant. Those are choices, and no individual's choice forces other people and their children to receive extra radiation exposure. The morally bankrupt aspect of radioactive scrap and nuclear pollution is that these practices force unwilling and unsuspecting people to take extra radiation exposure. These practices amount to deadly trespass.
- The aggregate dose from ionizing radiation matters, because ionizing radiation is a uniquely menacing mutagen. If the aggregate dose matters, then citizens must resist even the smallest contributions to involuntary exposures. Otherwise, citizens are consenting to an aggregate dose of unknown size.
- Point 3 of CNR's testimony, about radioactive waste burial at Yucca Mountain, presents our estimates and also official estimates of fatal cancers per 20 extra millirems of dose annually for a lifetime. To obtain extra fatal cancers from each extra millirem of dose (annually for a lifetime), cut those estimates by 20. Example using the government estimate: 1 extra fatal cancer among every 2,000 exposed people becomes 0.05 case out of every 2,000 exposed people --- or 1 extra fatal cancer among every 40,000 people. Etc.
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