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On Monday, June 15, 2015 Reuters informed readers that “Dozens of US companies bet on nuclear power revolution – report“. This includes defense contractor and the Pentagon’s largest supplier, Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin has also long gotten NASA contracts. [Lockheed is also the maker of Trident Nuclear Missile. Martin Co. was involved in the development of nuclear reactors for the military, early on.]
A Lockheed Martin “Radiation Safety Officer” rudely states to the US NRC “I have a real problem with the changed proposed in your rule to change the occupational dose limit to 2 rem instead of the current 5 rem. I think it should remain at 5R per year.” That’s his letter! That’s it, as can be seen below!
5 rem is 5,000 mrem or 50 mSv. 2 rem is 2,000 mrem or 20 mSv. It is the difference between an estimated 18.4% cancer rate for workers vs. 7.4%, of which an estimated 56% will die (based on BEIR VII est. for those working from age 18 to 65).
The US NRC is already 25 years behind recommendations in retaining the 1956 “standard”. Yes, that does say 2009. He was an early commenter on the rule, it seems.
The ICRP 103 explains that “The annual dose limit of 50 mSv for workers set in 1956, was retained until 1990, when it was further reduced to 20 mSv per year on average based on the revision of the risk for stochastic effects estimated from the life-span study of the Hiroshima–Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors (ICRP, 1991b)” (ICRP 103, p. 36)
RSO is apparently supposed to be “Radiation Safety Officer”. NDE is non-destructive examination.
Another commenter noted that new technologies (Digital Radiography (DR) and Phased-array Ultrasonic Testing (PAUT)) mean that much (non-nuclear) radiation exposure should be reduced or totally unnecessary.
But, Lockheed Martin with all of its government contracts must not be able to afford to either buy or rent new testing equipment! Since the workers under Hick-man appear to be testing missiles, maybe there is some fairness about their dying painful deaths from cancer.
However, it will impact many other workers. And, this unwillingness to protect workers appears far too typical. Lockheed Martin is unique in its combination of size and rudeness. One would think that such a large corporation would be a bit professional, which they clearly are not!
Why should you care about cancer risks for workers exposed to ionizing radiation?
Firstly the comment deadline is about more than just worker safety. It is also about nuclear reactors and waste exposing the general population to needless radiation pollution. And, the acceptability (or not) of the US NRC’s 1 mSv (100 mrem) for the general public, which the National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII Report estimates as leading to an increased lifetime cancer risk of about 1%.
This 1% ignores build-up in the environment, which could quickly account for many more cancers. Nuclear facilities, weapons testing, and uranium mining, may be the true reason for higher than average background radiation in the US, compared to the world average, and even compared to Canada.
This 1 mSv is four times higher than the US EPA’s recommended 0.25 mSv (25 mrem). Contrary to what the nuclear industry wants everyone to believe, the ICRP 2007 proposes 0.1 mSv, where a significant amount of radiation exposure is due to long-lived radionuclides(See ICRP 107, p. 105), which is the case of the nuclear industry. This 0.1 mSv is already unnecessarily high.
There is also the issue of higher exposure to the eyes for the general population, for still unexplained reasons, and even more for those exposed to radiation at work. The 22 June comment deadline is an extension from March. Thus more info and where to comment is found here: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/cataracts-nrc-robbing-americans-blind-comment-until-24-march-2015/
The US is still using the 1956 IRCP “standard” for its nuclear-radiation workers of 50 mSv per year. Since 1991 the IRCP (composed mostly of radiologists and nuclear proponents) has had the standard with an average of 20 mSv per year over 5 years with no one year exceeding 50 mSv. So, for 5 years it is 100 mSv.
Based on estimates given on p. 312 of BEIR VII, for 47 years of work, at 50 mSv per year, the excess cancer risk is 18,385 per 100,000 or 18.4%. For the proposed 47 years of 20 mSv the extra cancer risk is 7354 per 100,000 or 7.4%. The average death rate for these cancers is 56%. (It probably will actually be a bit higher because 45 years is 9 x 5 and there is an extra two years, so that most likely one will be 20 mSv and one the five year max of 50 mSv.)
Excluding ethics, why should you care about worker exposure to radiation? If you are lucky you will be paying for their medical care, after private insurance runs out. If you are unlucky you may become a nuclear worker as part of a welfare to work program, as is known to happen in South Carolina and Georgia and which probably happens elsewhere. This worker exposure also seems to include medical professionals.
No one should be surprised that the Pentagon’s biggest supplier Lockheed Martin places little value on life. Nonetheless, it is shocking to see the overtness and rudeness of the refusal to protect their workers.
Money can actually be made selling equipment for radiation protection (or which does not use ionizing radiation) on the front end, rather than providing cancer treatment on the back end.
Lockheed Martin just prefers to irradiate its workers. Insurance or Medicaid will pay for the cancer treatments so they don’t care, it seems.
From “Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII – Phase 2” p. 312 “TABLE 12D-3 Lifetime Attributable Risk of Solid Cancer Incidence and Mortality“, which gives incidence; mortality, exposure scenario per 100,000. The US NRC’s 1 mSv per year throughout “life” (defined as 70 years; however, US life expectancy is 79 and it is 81 for women) for the general public: All excessive cancer from this exposure for men is 621 (deaths 332); for women is 1019 (deaths 497) for an average of 820 per 100,000 over 70 years is 11.7 per mSv. Thus, for 100 mSv it would be 1170 per 100,000 or 1.2%. For 81 years it would be 1% for both genders. 1.2% for women. The death rate of those with cancer, in the BEIR estimates, is around 51%. This is for nuclear power and waste! There are safe alternatives!
For those exposed to 10 mSv per year from ages 18 to 65 (47 yrs) excessive risk all cancers male is estimated 3059 (deaths 1700) and female is 4295 (deaths 2389). Thus, the average is 3677 per 100,000 (3.6%) with an average of 2045 deaths or 56%. Multiply the cancers by two to get 20 mSv and by 5 to get 50 mSv (or in the words of the Lockheed Martin Hick-man 2 Rem and 5 Rem).
For the low LET radiation evaluation in the BEIR VII report, mGy is the same as mSv. For more dangerous internal alpha emitters a weighting factor must be added. Thus, mSv is used, though the original says mGy.
“… an absorbed dose of 1 Gy by alpha particles will lead to an equivalent dose of 20 Sv. This may appear to lead to a paradox, as this would suggest that the energy of the incident radiation field in joules has increased by a factor of 20, thereby violating the laws of Conservation of energy. However this is not the case, the sievert is used only to convey the fact that the biological effect of absorbing a gray of alpha particles would result in a 20 fold increase in the amount of biological effects that one would observe by absorbing a gray of x-rays. It is this biological component that is being expressed when using sieverts rather than the actual physical energy delivered by the incident absorbed radiation.”