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Gina_McCarthy-EPAIt seems that McCarthy is the right person for the nuclear industry. It is indeed a critical time considering the shape of many of America’s nuclear reactors: aging and prone to accidents and leaks. Loosening the limits allows more radiation to be let loose in the environment without being considered dangerous.

This sets the stage for astronomical radiation limits to be used not only in emergencies in case of nuclear war or terrorism, but in all radiological “incidents” across America. All that is needed to make that change is a future updated footnote in the EPA PAG.

“If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” said Ruch.


The new EPA PAG also opens the door open for the huge radiation level hikes to be implemented at contaminated sites across the country. That could include such infamously polluted places as the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), 35 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, where America’s worst partial nuclear reactor meltdown occurred. The site is now the subject of an intense greenwashing and astroturfing campaign by polluter and community collaborators. Despite astronomical levels of radiation, the former Rocketdyne site could be declared clean tomorrow using these new EPA PAG numbers.

Judging from the EPA’s egregious behavior at the SSFL since our reporting on the facility began in 1998, we have little doubt that the agency will continue to use and abuse any rule or regulation to enable the polluters to escape fully remediation the site.

But federal chicanery and bait and switches can’t escape the all too real result: huge hikes in radiation limits would result in needless casualties should any number of nuclear-related scenarios unfold.

SSFL Nuclear National ParkPlaces like SSFL could be released as parkland without further cleanup, a scenario that would please the responsible polluting parties – DOE, NASA and lab owner Boeing – already emboldened by EPA blatant waste of $41.5 million evaluating SSFL for radiation then subverting its own findings to greatly lessen the amount of hot land to be remediated. The polluters and government agencies charged with regulating their toxic contamination are working closely together to insure that no full and proper cleanup of the site will take place as we exposed in Boeing’s Meltdown Makeover.

“EPA is statutorily mandated to produce the PAGs and other radiation guidance for the rest of the federal family and historically has viewed DOE and NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] as not sufficiently protective in radiation matters,” Hirsch said. “The PAG now abdicates EPA’s responsibility to come up with guidance and instead references almost exclusively documents from DOE [Department of Energy] that EPA has historically opposed. For example, it now directs the use of DOE’s Operational Guidance document which uses cleanup concentrations hundreds of thousands of times higher than EPA’s official concentrations.”

The radical changes are a far cry from the 1991 EPA PAG’s admonitions to put public safety first over economic profits. “PAGs should not be higher than justified on the basis of optimization of cost and the collective risk of effects on health,” the 274 page document reads. “That is, any reduction of risk to public health achievable at acceptable cost should be carried out.”

The 2013 draft EPA PAG trims down to 86 pages largely because it foists off specific limit levels on radionuclides on other nuclear industry-influenced figures. The hugely inflated acceptable limits are all part of what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman calls “the new normal.”

“For example, I’m sure that as the U.S. industry considers the question of filtered containment venting and other filtration strategies, you will benefit from the collective years of experience other countries have with this technology,” said NRC Chairman Allison M. Macfarlane at the Nuclear Energy Institute’s Nuclear Energy Assembly in Washington, D.C. May 14. “One critical aspect of the ‘new normal’ is that public interest in nuclear power, whether positive or negative, remains heightened. Where certain technology is in place in some countries and not others, both the public and our elected leaders are naturally predisposed to make comparisons.”

Those comparisons include the fact that the NRC doesn’t require American reactors to have filters on their containment domes to remove radionuclides released into the environment in emergency situations like the one in Japan when hydrogen gas buildup blew one reactor to smithereens. Instead, it’s voluntary, as Macfarlane said.

The point of having PAGs is supposedly to deal with all manner of nuclear emergency including attack and accident. EPA PAG instructions include recommendations on when to evacuate an area, shelter in place and when and if to take potassium iodide (KI) pills in case of extreme Iodine-131 exposure.

The emergency rad levels are supposed to give first responders some sort of reference with what level of threat they are dealing. But even that role is muddled in the document referring to other agencies and their standards which aren’t included in the PAG.

“PAGs do not establish an acceptable level of risk for normal, nonemergency conditions, nor do they represent the boundary between safe and unsafe conditions,” the EPA report reads. “The PAGs are not legally binding regulations or standards and do not supersede any environmental laws.”

Then what would be the point of such guidelines other than to render any recommendations mute even if they could be found in the draft EPA PAG? They are nowhere to be found. It is a first responder’s nightmare when it comes to determining safe levels of radiation in an emergency situation.


The new EPA PAG is solidly an Obama Administration endeavor, eclipsing the efforts of the previous Republican executive branch. Federal authorities now envision an environment where the needs of the companies and government entities responsible for radiologically contaminated sites across the country supersede those of the population in general. Anybody who objects will be painted as a NIMBY who just can’t handle radiation like a real man.

EPA Administrator nominee Sullivan may have made a safe bet that Americans won’t see the dangers of sky high radiation standards or even care. Public unawareness and apathy over the ongoing Fukushima triple meltdowns are strong arguments for that bet.

No one wants to think that the government, on any level, would choose to lie to the American public in a nuclear emergency or about a radioactively contaminated site. But it has happened repeatedly. Now, no one has to lie. The new limits are so high that signaling the all-clear will be much easier.

The Obama Administration has introduced a policy shift that fundamentally removes established radiation protections for the American people. That the President is taking this extraordinary step shouldn’t be a surprise to environmental policy watchdogs.

Fukushima population in sheltersObama’s EPA has failed to monitor for Fukushima radiation in the Pacific even when there has been incontrovertible evidence of the irreparable harm the triple meltdowns are doing to the ocean. EPA pulled RadNet mobile radiation detection systems offline across America just months after the ongoing calamity began saying they weren’t needed. Today more than half of the Fukushima fallout-detecting beta detectors aren’t functioning in the 123 cities that RadNet monitors.

The Administration has little to worry about though because it knows that the country is filled with willing victims, people determined to dismiss the nuclear threat from foreign and domestic sources. It witnessed the laissez-faire reaction of Americans to the disaster in Fukushima. It knows that it can count on the media to treat the triple meltdowns as only a Japanese problem despite the reality that American water are just 5,000 miles away at the receiving end of the Kuroshio Current.


The dearth of media coverage of one of the greatest ongoing environmental disasters in history belies how thin mainstream media’s investigative ranks have become. Few newspapers have the resources or scientific expertise to even tackle such a complicated subject especially when it can be fobbed off as just politically motivated anti-nuclear hysteria.

What better way to control the literal fallout of a nuclear disaster in America than to have one of the few highly respected government agencies, EPA, give the all-clear when it isn’t all clear at all? What better way to keep people calm and willing to productively exist in an environment so hot that it increases the odds of deadly cancers thousands of times? What better way to sneak it into the EPA’s go-to radiological disaster guide than in obscure and complex footnotes? Who better to implement it than the person who oversaw its creation, now Obama’s EPA chief choice?

Medical Reserve Corps checks individual for radiationIt is the perfect crime because it hasn’t even happened yet, but the future victims have already signaled their consent when the terrible crisis comes. America’s aging 103 nuclear reactors haven’t melted down or been destroyed in a tornado, hurricane, flood or earthquake. No terrorist has set off a dirty bomb or destroyed a lightly-defended and protected spent fuel pool, some as close as mere yards from where anyone with a rocket launcher could attack.

These quiet and hard to comprehend sleights of hand are akin to taking a police officer’s bulletproof vest away during a gun battle, stripping a fireman of his protective suit in case of conflagration or cutting the cords to the parachute of a pilot jumping from a nose-diving plane. And when it happens, and happens repeatedly under countless scenarios in a country awash in nuclear materials and radioactive waste, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Gina McCarthy will be assuring Americans that it’s all okay because the EPA says so.

The passage of the EPA’s draft Protective Action Guide will only serve to endanger Americans needlessly. To protect family, friends and community in the face of this bureaucratic betrayal, folks are going to have to depend on trusted sources and themselves to know what the real situation is and what to do about it. Our lives will depend on it.


* The EPA has extended the comment period to September 16, 2013. See http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2007-0268-0071

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  1. In regard to last comment by Michael Collins, it is very odd that people get political over “sound science.”
    Trump has named Robert Kennedy Jr. to bring sound science to the CDC about vaccines. He is naming people who understand the man made global warming hoax. https://lipstick-and-war-crimes.org/global-warming-the-unsettled-science-or-the-big-sell-a-study-guide/ We have to get beyond political parties and get down on political correctness. The new administration will not be politically correct because we live in a matrix of fraud. The EPA is a great example.

  2. Missing Obama already? One of his parting gifts was the implementation of this “midnight mischief,” i.e. last minute regulations stuffed into law just before a President leaves office. The new PAG Manual: Protective Action Guides and Planning Guidance for Radiological Incidents became law January 11, 2017 and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it other than bone up on radiation protection using, for one thing, our information in Eat Me! Combined with nuking our ability to monitor beta radiation through EPA’s RadNet, Obama really gave America the short end of the Geiger counter with these dangerous shenanigans. Now, we can look forward to an Administration even more hostile to sound science so don’t expect any rollback of these drastic increases in allowable radiation in the water.

  3. Check out NBC Bay Area’s follow-up with EPA’s Gina McCarthy floating factual inaccuracies. This is shameful balderdash. From the excellent segment:

    The EPA’s chief stressed that this should not affect the water we drink every day. “I don’t want anyone to think that we are changing our standards for drinking water, that is not the case,” McCarthy said. She referred to an apocalyptic scenario following a nuclear disaster, saying “What we are trying to do is figure out how to actually start transitioning from a case where everybody is in their house and hunkered down, and can’t drink drinking water to being able to understand what exposures – in a temporary way – would allow life to continue.”

    Hogwash. That is exactly what they’re doing. Watch the segment here.

  4. From the NBC Bay Area article:
    “In light of all the controversy, why won’t the EPA sit down with the Investigative Unit and explain what the agency is doing and why?”

    Daniel Hirsch has his own explanation.
    “It’s expensive for industry to control these releases, it’s expensive to clean them up when there are releases, it’s expensive for the Department of Energy or the Navy or other Department of Defense facilities that have been contaminated to clean up. So it’s easier to lean on your friends within the EPA and say you don’t have to control these releases, you don’t have to clean them up, and so what that means is the agency or industry saves some money, but members of the public end up with cancers, leukemia and genetic effects.”
    – Published at 11:05 PM PST on Nov 14, 2016

    Re the video:
    Why do some of the people get a ‘puzzled look’ on their face when asking themselves why this would be happening?

    IMO – Of course it’s Fukushima factor and the future Fukushima-like catastrophes that are yet to come.

  5. We first reported this shocking news three years ago but according to this excellent NBC Bay Area piece called Environmental Protection Agency’s New Emergency Plan for Drinking Water Concerns Many, this outrage is about to go down. In the event of a radiological emergency, the likelihood of which may have increased exponentially with the election of Trump, the EPA is going to allow hundreds to thousands of times more of the most virulent radionuclides in drinking water. Gulp.

  6. @All: We just got this petition from the folks at Beyond Nuclear. Of course we signed it because it is the same weakening of radiation standards that EPA enacted after Fukushima as explained in our above exposé, this time by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. One telling, and depressing note about the petition, it seeks only 1,000 signatories, here in a country of 319 million. The apathy and ignorance that lets government agencies like the NRC and EPA get away with this will not be remedied with a thousand signatures. But it’s a start and it starts with you. Sign this petition.

    Beyond Nuclear press release:

    ACT NOW!
    Protect the most vulnerable from radiation exposure
    The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering rewriting its radiation exposure regulations, which currently do not protect developing children or pregnancy. These life stages are known to be uniquely vulnerable to radiation, and protecting them will protect everyone. Tell NRC to protect the most vulnerable from radiation exposure. Deadline is Monday, June 22, 2015.

    Read and sign the letter here

  7. What good does it do if every time there is a problem that is picked up by sensors or monitoring equipment, the government covers up the truth which harms all of us. I mean, why have any government if they just lie.

  8. After reading all of this content, the EPA is saying they are no longer needed. EPA stands for Environmental PROTECTION Agency with the emphasis on “protection”. We can now save gov’t money by firing the entire agency and send everyone home. I thought the part about the dirty bombs was funny. So, today there were 400 thousand people in New York marching to bring awareness to a cleaner environment. If someone had told me this I would have laughed. But as insane as it sounds, it is true. The world is going mad.

  9. You are more than welcome to copy the links that direct people to the information you want to highlight. Yes, we copy block the site and for good reason as we explained earlier this year in Fukushima – The Perfect Crime?

  10. are you preventing people from copying material from your sight? It seems as though we can not use the usual procedures to copy portions of the posted article. Please advise.

  11. like the FDA and FTC they are nothing but enablers for the industries they regulate. crony corruption with a revolving door bettween regulators and regulated. government=evil

  12. If the EPA was on the Public’s side to “watchdog” the Public’s health, these “Radiation Rules” would not even be what they presently are today. ZERO exposure is the ONLY acceptable level. Once again…Z-E-R-O is the only rating for guaranteed safety.

    To believe that there is actually some magic number possible that ALL PEOPLE can be exposed to, is a fool’s game and highlights the mass ignorance about the deadly nature of Nuclear Power. The EPA only exists to protect the companies and their profits. Maintaining a healthy Public has NEVER their goal. Determining at what point the Public’s Health is “damaged and/or ruined” is their mission. So the EPA is a “damage control” organization that protects the PUBLIC IMAGE of companies that generate toxic products.

    The only saving grace here is, the same clowns that are raising the levels of “acceptable” exposure to radiation, are also inhaling, drinking, and eating the same toxic materials along with their children and families. So they are directly responsible for the destruction of their OWN FAMILIES, too!

    (It’s a “Karma thing” they will realize that has come back around to bite them….)

  13. @Henry: You’ve come to the right place – just have a good look around. Our Radiation Food Lab is the most comprehensive collection of such data anywhere on the Internet. Of course there is air radiation monitoring – including in your area – at US EPA Rad Net Air Monitoring and at any of our Radiation Stations.

  14. Where can I get information on whether any monitoring of Strontium-90 in milk sold in California is being done?
    I read recently that there is no monitoring of the air we breathe for radionucleides. An air monitoring station in Santa Monica doesn’t help me here in Northern California.

  15. Mark of the Wild West...

    It’s nature of radiation, is there is no cleaning it up, when it’s every where. The EPA may as well say anything at this point.

  16. Fukushima is an extinction level event. And no amount of spin doctoring by the EPA or anyone else will make it any less so.

  17. More than 100 Groups Call on EPA to Withdraw Dramatically Weakened Radiation Guides.

    Over 100 environmental organizations today called on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy to withdraw EPA’s controversial new Protective Action Guides (PAGs), which would allow exposure to very high doses from radiation releases before government would take action to protect the public.

    The PAGs are intended to guide the response to nuclear power reactor accidents (like Fukushima in Japan, Chernobyl in Ukraine and Three Mile Island in the U.S.), “dirty bomb” explosions, radioactive releases from nuclear fuel and weapons facilities, nuclear transportation accidents, and other radioactive releases.

    Although official estimates of health risks from radiation have gone up substantially (even higher for women) since promulgation of the old PAGs, the new EPA guidance contemplates radically increased “allowable” exposures in the intermediate and long-term periods after radiation releases.

    The new PAGs

    · propose five options for drinking water which would dramatically increase the permitted concentrations of radioactivity in drinking water, by as much as 27,000 times, compared to EPA’s current Safe Drinking Water Act limits;

    · suggest markedly relaxing long-term cleanup standards;

    · incorporate very high and outdated allowable food contamination levels;

    · eliminate requirements to evacuate people threatened with high projected radiation doses to the thyroid and skin;

    · eliminate limits on lifetime whole body doses; and

    · recommend dumping radioactive waste in municipal garbage dumps not designed for such waste.

    “Rather than requiring protective actions to limit public radiation exposures, EPA is now saying it would allow the public to be exposed to doses far higher than ever before considered acceptable,” said Daniel Hirsch, president of Committee to Bridge the Gap.

    “Even though EPA now admits radiation is more harmful than previously thought, it is weakening rather than tightening radiation protections,” said Diane D’Arrigo of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

    The full letter is at http://committeetobridgethegap.org/GroupPAGltr9-16-13.pdf

  18. Not much use for an “EPA”, since their limits won’t protect anything or anyone anymore anyway.

  19. In Dec 2012, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published an unusual notification in the Federal Register accepting a petition to amend the Code of Federal Rule (CFR) 50 for installing renewable energy sources that do not require human presence to run the safety related pumps at all nuclear stations to avert Fukushima type meltdowns. The petitioner, Thomas Popik, had averred that a severe space weather event can cause grid failure lasting for two years or more and eventual break down of the supply chain and desertion of the nuclear campuses.

    EPA’s PAGs was published in the FR, hundred days later. Dirty bombs and accidents may affect smaller areas. In the case of space-weather-grid-failure, about 80 nuclear plants are likely to be affected.

    I wonder why nuclear related civil society in USA is not discussing this problem.

  20. Solon: You’re only giving the Homer Simpson version of Ramsar. Let me help you out, here:

    The most likely source for your study that concludes ‘no health effects’ was probably an amusingly self-referencing one published in Health Physics in 2002. UNSCEAR uses it all the time – go figure. The actual Ramsar measurements they cite – also from a 2002 source (teleportation??) – don’t seem to exist. Nobody can seem to find or figure out what was measured or how to earn Ramsar their title.

    The terrestrial background *gamma* in Ramsar is elevated, but nothing remarkably high for uranium and thorium mineralized areas. The properly-measured high annual effective dose figures are mostly because of radon. The extremely-high indoor maximum they always seem to toss in is a house extended over a natural hot spring. One house (mansion, spa, whatever) with an indoor radon-spewing pool is hardly something to consider in a scientific study. Everyone tosses it in:


    But back to the original paper’s flawed conclusion. The paper’s second sentence explains their conclusion: families that have lived in those same farms/homes *for generations* don’t seem to be suffering any obvious radiation-induced ill effects. Darwin wouldn’t be too impressed with that conclusion. The ‘researchers’ failed to include *all* the representative subjects – they just studied the survivors.

    If they relocated the ‘normal’ cohort population to the Talesh Mahalleh neighborhood radiation hothouse for a few generations, I think their results would be markedly different. That neighborhood has the new airport and a lot of new residential construction. Let’s see how the newest batch of test subjects thrives.

  21. This is completely appalling! But, if nothing else, these PAG’s will probably end all of the disagreements about the needed level of cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. Isn’t that nice? Boeing and and the Governmental agencies can simply declare that the Field Lab needs no remediation of the toxic chemicals and radionuclides whatsoever, and they can now invite builders to buy the land for home building. Why would they even need to give the land away for a Park, when they can sell it instead and make money? Everyone wins…except, of course, the present and future cancer victims!

    I have been posting articles on the ongoing Fukushima crisis in Face Book for quite some time now, and I am of the impression that no one even cares, as judged by the total lack of either likes or comments. This week, for the first time, two people finally did comment and one person clicked on “like”, and I almost fell off my chair in shock!

    Based on my Face Book experience, I can only conclude that the EPA should have no trouble whatsoever, in imposing the “new normal” on everyone. Cancer? “Oh how silly…it won’t happen to me.” Omnipotence and denial seem to be miles thick. And so, apparently are our heads!

  22. @Alex Pavlak: According to the EPA’s own current risk estimates per unit dose in its most recent “Blue Book” derived from the National Academy of Sciences’ Report on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR VII), 1 rem per year over the first thirty years of life would result is an excess cancer in every 17th person exposed: 1 rem/year x 30 years x 2 x 10-3 cancers per rem during the first 30 years = 6 x 10-2 cancers = 1 cancer per 17 people exposed. At 10 rem/year, EPA’s own estimate is that one in every 1.7 people exposed would get a cancer from the radiation. Remember, Dr. Pavlak, that these are gender-averaged risk figures. Females are at even greater risk than males from the same levels of exposure meaning their risks are even higher than these estimates.

    Not only are these numbers many orders of magnitude higher than anything EPA has ever allowed before, they are on the face of it – to use Dr. Pavlak’s own excellent descriptor – loony.

  23. Mr Collins claims that a EPA standard threshold of 10 rem/y will result in 1 cancer incidence in 1.7 people (58%).

    Actually an acute dose of 10 rem will increase cancer rates by 1%. 10 rems/year for 50 years will get to 58%. But most of the isotopes have half lives of less than 50 years. The EPA standard is not as loony as Mr. Collins would have you believe.

  24. Since I first stumbled onto this site in the spring of 2011 we have discussed radiation acceptance levels.

    EPA vs FDA etc…

    We have known that sooner or later increases in LOC/DIL would be FORCED upon us.

    The fact that ‘they’ have the ability/power, without voting, without true discussion, to adjust these numbers is an admission of the horrendous scope of the failure of the Nuclear Industry and the government puppet agencies that support them.

    First Responders should be organizing and screaming out loud about this. I doubt most are even aware of what’s occurring. That’s a sad statement in itself. 🙁

  25. Let ’em eat radioactive isotopes!

  26. Howard T. Lewis III

    The mass majority of Americans walk around like everything is safe and under control so they attract each other and each other only. Most people do not understand the unavoidable lethality and irreversible genetic damage from being exposed to radiation releases. Nor do they understand the gravity of the huge releases from Fukushima, preferring to believe the damned liars on the CFRtv and Rothschild’s Associated Press and the false security present in being grouped into radiation victim populations instead of taking a few simple precautions.

  27. I watched some youtube vids about Galen Winsor, then checked that this man was who he said he was, he checks out. Then I read a study on natural background radiation levels in Ramsar, Iran, which are up to 250 times the present allowable exposure, but no negative health effects are reported. Who’s telling the truth about radiation effects and it’s dangers?

  28. > The PAG … was developed during the Bush Administration.

    Well, that’s a problem right there. Another good idea from the folks who brought you Iraq, the Prescription Drug Boondoggle, and tax cuts for the hyper-rich — what’s not to like?

  29. The price is too high, close the nuclear plants. There is no safe storage for spent fuel, this is a time bomb all by itself. There is nowhere to put it and the containment would need to last millions of years.

  30. The insane running us! As many sleep. To be or not to be radiated. No choice now. Thanks EPA. If they were human they wouldn’t have done this.

  31. All of this is purly intentional. Chernobyl was at least covered within a couple of weeks but for what ever reason Tepco and Japan incluuding the world are ignoring this event. Thanks a lot!

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