Mortgaging the future: Dumping ethics with nuclear waste
- Kristin Shrader-Frechette
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On August 22, 2005 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued proposed new regulations for radiation releases from the planned permanent U.S. nuclear-waste repository in Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The goal of the new standards is to provide public-health protection for the next million years — even though everyone admits that the radioactive wastes will leak. Regulations now guarantee individual and equal protection against all radiation exposures above the legal limit. Instead E.P.A. recommended different radiation exposure-limits for different time periods. It also recommended using only the arithmetic mean of the dose distribution, to assess regulatory compliance during one time period, but using only the median dose to assess compliance during another period. This piece argues that these two changes — in exposure-limits and in methods of assessing regulatory compliance — have at least four disturbing consequences. The changes would threaten equal protection, ignore the needs of the most vulnerable, allow many fatal exposures, and sanction scientifically flawed dose calculations.
- Environmental Protection Agency (2005) Public Health and Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Yucca Mountain, Nevada, 40 CFR Part 197, OAR-2005-0083;FRL, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
- E.P.A., pp. 98–109.
- See, for instance, United Nations Scientific Committee on Effects of Atomic Radiation, U.N.S.C.E.A.R. (1994) Sources, Effects, and Risks of Ionizing Radiation, U.N., New York.
- U.S. National Research Council (2005) Health Effects from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
- All national ALARA standards are based on International Commission on Radiological Protection, I.C.R.P. (1991) Recommendations of the ICRP, I.C.R.P., Stockholm.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, F.B.I. (2004) Crime In the United States, F.B.I., Washington, DC.
- International Atomic Energy Agency, I.A.E.A. (2001) An International Peer Review of the ... Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project, I.A.E.A., Vienna.
- U.N.S.C.E.A.R., I.C.R.P.
- Mortgaging the future: Dumping ethics with nuclear waste
Science and Engineering Ethics
Volume 11, Issue 4 , pp 518-520
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers
- Additional Links
- public health
- Yucca Mountain
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Philosophy and Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, 100 Malloy Hall, 46556, Notre Dame, IN, USA