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ROGER JOHNSON, San Clemente
Everyone should thank the Surfrider Foundation for forcing Southern California Edison (SCE) to warn people about its radioactive discharges into the ocean—something it has been doing in secret for 50 years.
SCE is careful not to claim that the releases are safe. Instead, they say only that they are “allowed” by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a captured regulatory agency, which is funded by the nuclear industry and run for its benefit.
What is allowed is governed by a motivational standard the NRC calls ALARA (Allowable Limits As Low As Reasonably Achievable). The industry calculates dose tolerance with reference to the average statistical adult male, a standard not relevant to women and children who are much more vulnerable. They ignore the human fetus, which is 50 times more vulnerable to low-dose radiation.
The basic problem is that nuclear power plants cannot operate without releasing radioactivity into the environment. They also have absolutely no solution whatsoever about what to do with the enormous amounts of toxic nuclear waste they generate. Zip Code 92672 now has thousands of tons of uranium and plutonium sitting on the beach in thin temporary containers for the indefinite future. We have become the Spanish Nuclear Waste Dump by the Sea.
It is no secret that many radioisotopes remain deadly for hundreds of thousands of years. It is, therefore, important for the industry to confuse the public with misleading PR aimed at trivializing ionizing radiation.
They fail to mention that the effects are cumulative. One exposure sounds harmless, but repeated exposure can damage cell DNA and cause cancer, the No. 1 killer in California. The National Academies of Science (NAS) proposed scientific research to study cancer streaks in the 31-mile radius around San Onofre, but in 2015 the powerful NRC blocked the research before it could begin.
The NAS studied low-dose radiation and in 2006 they published the 422-page, BEIR-VII report (Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII Phase 2).
It concluded that the risk of cancer from radiation increases in a linear fashion, and there is no threshold below which there is no risk. This is now widely accepted as settled science by everyone except those in the nuclear industry.
While we await the next 300,000 gallons of radioactive discharges into our ocean, remember the warnings of Jacques Cousteau, the renowned French scientist who said, “A common denominator in every single nuclear accident is that before the specialists even know what happened, they rush to the media saying there is no danger to the public.”