Radiation Protection Standards Weakened CBG and PEER to File Suit

EARLIER THIS YEAR, DESPITE YEARS OF EFFORTS by Bridge the Gap, EPA issued new Protective Action Guides (PAGs) which dramatically weaken protection of the public from exposure to radiation. The PAGs allow the public to drink water contaminated with radioactivity at levels thousands of times higher than the Safe Drinking Water Act permits, without any action taken to protect them from
such exposures.

The PAGs also would allow long-term contamination of areas so high (the equivalent of thousands of chest X-rays a year) that EPA’s own official estimates are that every fourth person would get a cancer from the radiation, without there being any requirement for cleanup to protect people from such huge doses. The PAGs apply not merely to catastrophic events but to any radiological release for which a protective action might be considered.

Recently the Trump Administration issued additional guidance associated with the PAGs which declares that doses as high as 5000 chest X-rays are harmless. This conflicts with decades of EPA scientific findings and the longstanding conclusions of the National Academy of Sciences that there is no safe level of radiation and that doses that high would cause large numbers of cancers. Bridge the Gap, working with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), brought this story to the news media. Bloomberg News, among others, ran it.

Bridge the Gap and PEER are now preparing to file suit against EPA to overturn the radiation PAGs. The Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to protect the environment, not place it at risk. As is often the case, it is non-profit environmental organizations that must act to try to get government to fulfill its obligations to protect the public and the environment.