Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Should have made the front page

Buried on page A20 of this morning's New York Times is Matthew L. Wald's "Pending U.S. Advice on 'Dirty Bomb' Exposure Is Under Fire" (
Antinuclear activists maintain that advice the federal government is preparing to give state and local officials on how to react to the detonation of a radioactive "dirty bomb" would not protect the public from absorbing huge radiation doses in the years after such an event. In fact, they say, those doses might be enough to induce cancer in about a quarter of those exposed.

The advice is to be offered in a "guidance document" that the Bush administration has been preparing for months, to be used if terrorists set off a dirty bomb, whose conventional explosive would spread its radioactive material. Experts say that in the short term, the blast itself would be far more dangerous than the radiation, but that if an important area was contaminated, officials would face difficult decisions about how much decontamination should be required or how many years should elapse before the radiation was deemed to have died down enough for public access.

The antinuclear campaigners, led by a Los Angeles-based group called the Committee to Bridge the Gap, has complained in letters to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Homeland Security that the exposure allowed under the contemplated advice would create almost 100 times as much cancer risk as those usually allowed from other kinds of contaminants, like chemicals, or from radiation in other settings.

Wald's story would appear to have safety concerns for the nation as a whole, so why isn't it on the front page?

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