Nuclear-safety concerns in letter were addressed decades ago

BRATTLEBORO — Safety of the public, environment, and workers was formally addressed in 1928, at the First International Conference on Radiation Safety. Research on the health and environmental effects of radiation has been continuous since then.

The use of this powerful natural force has expanded into many areas of life: communications, health, and medicine; monitoring and measurement of all kinds; and energy, to name some.

When the first controlled chain reaction for release of energy by “atom splitting” (fission) was being prepared in 1942 in Chicago, it was fully appreciated that the radiation produced in the future would be many times greater than anything dealt with before.

Safety had to scale up, so a Health Physics group was formed, with the sole responsibility of protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of too much radiation, while the beneficial uses of low levels of radiation could be used.

Experience and data on radiation effects has continued to be gathered, applied, and shared worldwide. People working with radiation have great confidence in the safety factors, and their health and lack of any ill effects confirm their belief.

The letter lists several concerns, all of which were addressed decades ago, as part of the federal government's policy to expand the use of radiation and nuclear power.

One concern in the letter states that full-sized tests of casks for transporting used reactor fuel should be done by the industry. Full-size tests were done by the government decades ago, and can been seen on YouTube. Search for “Nuclear Fuel Cask Test.”

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