The spring meeting of the North Central Chapter of the Health Physics Society was held on April 25, 2003 at Memorial Union of the Iowa State University campus in Ames, Iowa. Forty-one people attended including speakers, vendors, guests, and 30 chapter members.
Dr. A. David Inyang, Director of Environmental Health & Safety at ISU, welcomed the Chapter to Ames, Iowa and to ISU. He stated that we had come during "dead week", a time when students are studying for exams and there is a slower pace around the campus. Chapter President-elect Irene Patrek then opening the meeting thanking the staff at ISU their hospitality in hosting the spring meeting.
Ken Kerns, Emergency Response Coordinator at ISU, started the day's presentations off by discussing the health physicist's role in homeland security. He discussed the roles that health physicists can take in homeland security through procedural development, training, and helping responders understand radiation and to be able to properly interpret the "ticky-ticks" measured by their radiation detector. Examples where HPs could get involved would be in working with one's own institutional emergency planning, helping local emergency planning groups, or getting involved with state or national agency efforts. Additionally, he stressed that by helping the public understand radiation by offering opinions or corrections in the media, being an radiation expert in the public, and volunteering to participate in emergency response drills and exercises.
Major Ryan Reichenbacher, Commander, and Captain Michael Simpson, Biochemist, both from the 71st Civil Support Team, Iowa National Guard next gave a briefing on the Civil Support Team program. The Support Teams are a federally funded program that were developed to provide support in a supplemental response role in the event of chemical, biological, and radiation events. Their primary task is to identify, assess, advise and assist the local response to such events. They discussed some of their analytical platform laboratory capabilities and shared an example of another CST's recent response to a potential anthrax incident.
Don Flater, Chief at the Iowa Bureau of Radiological Health discussed issues related to the transportation of radioactive waste across Iowa. Iowa is one of several states that charge a fee for the transport of high-level radioactive waste through their state. They are also the only state currently charging fees for the transport of low-level radioactive waste across the state. The fees are used to fund accident responder training.
At the business meeting, election results of chapter officers were announced. The newly elected officers will take over duties at the conclusion of the fall business meeting. The officers elected are President-elect Ken Kerns, Secretary-Treasurer Dan McGrane, and Council Members Catharine Knox and Dan Miron. Chuck Roessler also discussed the Chapter's potential involvement with Homeland Defense Equipment Reuse Program.
Following the business meeting, the group was treated to a tour of the ISU Virtual Reality Room. The ISU staff took attendees on a virtual tour of their state of the art facility. I'm not so certain that immediately after lunch was the best time for this experience, but it was fun time.
Gary Yarrow, Executive Board, South Dakota State University took us on a not so virtual tour of radiation safety and environmental health and safety operations at a small university setting. Although the title of the talk used the words "small university", Gary argued that it is really a "medium-sized university". Gary discussed the pros and cons, challenges and successes that have occurred in his years in the safety program at SDSU.
Mike Holtzbauer from the Iowa State University Linear Accelerator Facility next gave a presentation discussing ISU's food irradiation program. Mike reviewed the history and advantages of food irradiation. He also discussed some of the research being done at the ISU food irradiation facility.
Status reports were given regarding the Minnesota and Wisconsin agreement states efforts. George Johns gave the Minnesota status report. He will be starting as the radioactive materials branch supervisor on Monday, April 28, 2003. He comes to Minnesota with several years experience at the Iowa Bureau of Radiological Control. Minnesota has a few issues that they are addressing in their program development but hope to complete the process in the next year. While Wisconsin state regulatory personnel were not in attendance at the meeting, they did send an update to Irene Patrek who passed the information along to attendees. Wisconsin's proposal to become an agreement state was published in the Federal Register for public comment in early April. State regulators are holding license informational sessions to help current registrants and licensees through the transition process. They estimate that the final agreement state approval in July or August 2003.