Last updated March 6, 2017 at 11:06 am
As part of the upcoming ARPS (Australasian Radiation Protection Society) conference in Adelaide on 11-14 September 2016, we put some nuclear questions to two scientists – Dr Roger Coates, OBE, International Radiation Protection Association President and Dr Marcus Grzechnik, senior scientists from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.
Both these scientists will be speaking at an event hosted by Australia’s Science Channel at The Science Exchange. This FREE event “A nuclear future – a waste of time or no time to waste?” will be a hypothetical panel discussion where experts will discuss a nuclear future.
1. What do you think is the most widely held misconception about nuclear radiation safety? What myth would you like to bust?
- Myth: ‘Nuclear’ man-made radiation is totally different from natural background radiation and medical radiation such as X-Rays. It is much more dangerous and can never be safe.
- Reality: Its all the same type of radiation with the same potential risks. Public exposures from nuclear waste storage, transport and disposal would not make any measurable difference to the levels of radiation we all receive from totally natural background exposure.
- The statement “There is no safe level of radiation exposure”.
- “Natural radiation won’t hurt you, but human-made radiation will.”
- When we read that someone who has cancer it is“suspected” or “assumed” to be from exposure to radiation (using a mobile phone, receiving a chest x ray, or living in a state with a nuclear powe rplant).
2. In relation to storage and transport of nuclear waste materials, what do you think is the most urgent issue we face on a global scale currently?
- Experience over many many years shows that nuclear waste is stored and transported extremely safely. Despite this strong technical background there is public uncertainty, concern and fear which must be addressed, particularly regarding waste disposal.
- Import and export differences globally related to commodities and waste materials.
- Integration of safety and security frameworks, particularly for transport of high-level waste.
- Perception that nuclear waste cannot be safely transported.
3. Why should the public care about and how should they be involved in making decisions around these issues?
- It’s your environment, your quality of life. There are potentially huge benefits for you from such developments, but you need to make sure that you are comfortable with whatever may eventually be decided by your community. You must have your say!
- The public should expect that proper care is being taken to protect people and the environment from harmful radiation exposures. This includes selection of appropriate sites, long term safety assessments and strong regulatory frameworks and processes.