Following the March 11 nuclear power plant disaster in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture it was revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency’s RadNet radiation detection network has several serious drawbacks, including a lack of maintenance and equipment that is often improperly calibrated. Such a system is essential for informing and protecting the American public during such a catastrophic event that has spread radiation throughout the northern hemisphere.
Emails between EPA officials during the George W. Bush administration suggest plans to obscure radiation reporting in the event of a nuclear disaster. The EPA’s unpreparedness for such an event was intensified when in late March 2011 the Nuclear Regulatory Agency arranged for nuclear industry lobbying firm NEI to provide radiation monitoring data to the NRC. Under the plan, the NRC would then forward it to the EPA. On April 14th the EPA’s RadNet unexpectedly returned to regular monitoring activities. Thus rigorous testing of food, water, and air throughout the US came to an end.
A national or international terrestrial radiation detection network is not difficult to establish or maintain. Indeed, laypersons at the Radiation Network use Geiger counters, a simple computer program, and the internet to provide an international, around-the-clock monitoring service that has surpassed the EPA’s RadNet.
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Student Researcher: Alyssa Barbieri
Faculty Advisor: James F. Tracy