Letters. AEC and radiation protection - ACS Publications

Letters. AEC and radiation protection - ACS Publicationshttps://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/es60056a601by J DiNunno...

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letters Barren waters

DEARSIR: I would like to take issue with F. Everett Reed’s Viewpoint on page 385 of your May 1971 issue (“Why must our water be barren?”). Mr. Reed explains that nutrients in lakes and streams are essential to a healthy

aquatic environment, which is certainly true. He apparently agrees with the fact that excess phosphates and nitrates in our waters are causing problems and that something should be done. But Mr. Reed goes on to claim that the nation should not so much con-

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cern itself with phosphate and nitrate ingestion into our waters but rather with decreasing the BOD. He proposes mass aeration of lakes and streams by “natural and mechanical means.” This has to be a perfect example of the “engineering mentality” at work. If his suggestions were to be adopted, we would not be correcting the phosphate and nitrate problem, but only changing its appearance, not to mention the technical difficulties and prohibitive cost. Can you imagine the whole of Lake Erie being mechanically aerated? Mr. Reed cites an example of dams i n New England and how, if the waters were allowed to cascade over the top, rather than through a sluiceway, the oxygen content would be increased, thereby increasing the “attractiveness of the stream” and making it “capable of supporting fish.” Unfortunately, examples in the Pacific Northwest have proved this premise totally incorrect. The oxygen concentration is increased but the nitrogen concentration is also increased, in fact to the point of saturation. Fish swimming in these nitrogen-rich waters, especially in the pools directly below the dams, develop nitrogen poisoning -or what might be called the ‘‘bends.” Mortality rates are sometimes as high as 100%. The salmon runs of Washington and northern Idaho have been greatly affected by this situation. It seems that many of our states are presently on the right course by banning phosphate detergents, this being the most logical solution. Robert M. Rosain Dept. o f Chemistry University of Idaho Moscow, Idaho 83843

AEC and radiation protection

DIVISION OF THERMOTRON INDUSTRIES P.O. Box 1013 Holland, Michigan 49423 U S A Phone (616) 392-1492 TWX NO. 810-292-6164 Circle NO. 58 on Readers‘ Service Card

736 Environmental Science & Technology

DEARSIR: While appreciative of the thoughtprovoking and informative aspects of the article “Nuclear power: the social conflict” in the May issue of ES&T (page 404), particularly the author’s observation that there is not “any practical need for moratoria on new nuclear power plants,” I am concerned that your readers might have been misled somewhat.

There has never been an assumption by the nuclear community that they “possess the right to pollute the environment or to expose members of the public to hazardous materials to a needless extent,” the principal thesis around which the author develops his views. The history of the development of radiation protection standards and the record of how they have been applied over the years just do not support such a characterization of the situation. The concept of keeping radiation exposures as low as practicable below numerical values identified as “maximum allowable” has for many years been a fundamental part of the philosophy of radiation protection. Records publicly available show that people living in the vicinity of operating nuclear power plants have been exposed to but a small additional increment above the natural background of radioactivity to which they are continually exposed and to a very small fraction of the numerical values set forth in federal radiation protection guides. AEC has never acted singly on radiation protection matters. AEC regulations have been based upon guidance obtained from independent, national, and international organizations. Congress has before it various bills dealing with the matter of power plant siting. Among other things, these bills call for a regional approach to siting, long-range planning for new facilities, and early disclosure of such plans to provide early consideration of environmental consequences. AEC has consistently supported these concepts. Public agencies other than AEC are participating in the matter of new plant siting. In keeping with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Water Quality Improvement Act, AEC must draw upon the expertise of other federal and state agencies in the assessment of the potential environmental aspects of a nuclear plant before authorizing construction. I hope this will add to your readers’ understanding of the matter. Joseph J. DiNunno, Director Ofice o f Environmental Affairs U S . Atomic Energy Commission Washington, D.C. 20545

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Volume 5, Number 9, September 1971 737