Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Watchdog criticizes feds for pulling back on radiation monitoring

An environmental watchdog group is criticizing the federal government for scaling back its radiation monitoring, while simultaneously planning to raise allowable levels of radiation releases in food, water and soil after a nuclear incident.

The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, issued a press release yesterday condemning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decisions.

The EPA and the Food and Drug Administration increased their radiation monitoring efforts after a massive earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan set off the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

But on May 3, the EPA announced [PDF] in a press release that it was falling back to a business-as-usual schedule of radiation monitoring, citing “consistently decreasing radiation levels.”
The EPA will begin analyzing milk and drinking water on a quarterly basis, with monthly testing of rainwater.

According to the federal agency, detectable levels "are well below any level of public health concern, and continue to decrease."

But the environmental group isn't buying it.

“With the Japanese nuclear situation still out of control and expected to continue that way for months and with elevated radioactivity continuing to show up in the U.S., it is inexplicable that EPA would shut down its Fukushima radiation monitoring effort,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of the watchdog group, in a statement.

He said the agency found high levels of radiation in drinking water, and now was not the time to be pulling their efforts back.

He also said the EPA’s monitoring program, RadNet, is unreliable and fails to cover large swaths of the West Coast.

A spokesman for the EPA denied Ruch’s allegations.

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