Mind the Gap
Environmentalists and public-health advocates in California are upset over a new state regulation that allows low-level radioactive waste to be dumped in municipal landfills instead of federally regulated nuclear waste storage facilities. Citing the possibility of increased cancer risks, the Sierra Club and a nuclear policy group, the Committee to Bridge the Gap, are backing legislation to rescind the regulation. The California Department of Health Services currently recognizes 25 millirems per year as the acceptable limit of residual radioactive waste. In other words, if one of the state’s 2,100 licensed radioactive sites shuts down and tests at 25 millirems or less, it can be used for other purposes and debris from the area can be taken to an ordinary landfill. The U.S. EPA objects to that standard and wants the state to adopt stricter exposure limits.