NORTH CENTRAL CHAPTER OF THE HEALTH PHYSICS SOCIETY
September 29, 2003
Earle Brown Center, University of Minnesota
Welcome and Opening Remarks.
Irene Patrek, president-elect of the North Central Chapter welcomed attendees, especially the affiliate sponsors ICN Dosimetry, F&J Specialties, and Hi-Q Environmental. She introduced Craig Moody, the Director of University Health & Safety. Craig commended the Chapter on its national involvement and expressed an interest to play blues/rock guitar with Ray Guilmette, president-elect of the Health Physics Society.
Environmental Benefits of Nuclear Power.
John Parkyn the CEO of Private Fuel Storage, LLC, introduced himself as an environmentalist. He strongly supports the Xcel Energy decision to convert three coal-burning plants to natural gas.
He stated that California and Wisconsin, where he lives, are the only two states that have made nuclear generating plants illegal. This was done with very little debate or discussion. In his opinion, dams are no longer an option for generating electricity, as all good sites have been developed and have large environmental effects.
Parkyn favors nuclear generation because it does not have atmospheric emissions, requires small land areas, can destroy nuclear weapons, and is cost effective. There is lots of international pressure on the United States to reduce green house gases according to the Kyoto Protocol (which the U.S. did not ratify). This pressure would favor nuclear generating.
Looking at LNT from the “Other Side.”
Ray Guilmette, radiation toxicologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory described three radiation dose response models: linear, no threshold; threshold; and adaptive (or hormetic). These models all predict no effects (neither beneficial or detrimental) at “background” doses of radiation.
Staff at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, and others, have done cell growth studies in “reduced” background areas (the “other side”). In this environment, the LNT model predicts benefits, the threshold model predicts no effects, and the adaptive model predicts detriments.
Ray’s study looked at heat shock proteins (HSP) as a measure of stress to a biological system. In a shielded incubator (near zero background) HSP increased and apoptosis (programmed cell death) was delayed. It is not clear if this research can be applied to multi-cell tissues or organisms.
IRPA (International Radiation Protection Association)
Richard Vetter presented a succinct talk on the who, what, where and when of the IRPA. Its primary purpose is to provide a medium for communication among radiation protection specialist around the world. All HPS members are also members of IRPA as our dues to this association are covered by HPS. You may learn more about IRPA by visiting the HPS website, clicking on Links, and clicking on the IRPA link under category number 1.
International Atomic Energy Agency.
Ken Kerns from Iowa State University described his project involvement with IAEA. This agency is an intergovernmental forum for cooperation and safeguard verification. Countries sign binding agreements to provide notice of nuclear accidents, and agree to provide and receive mutual aid, standards, and training material.
Ken told of his participation on the TecDoc 1092 emergency-planning document, emergency planning in the Philippines, and an emergency exercise in Slovenia.
The Human Capital Crisis
Kevin Nelson, health physicist at the Mayo Jacksonville Clinic gave the Wissink Memorial Lecture. Kevin started by saying health physics is a multidisciplinary profession with a broad spectrum of jobs. HP support the energy, security, regulatory, health, and military sectors.
The National Energy Institute estimates that within 10 years the demand for HP will be 50% higher than the supply. Within 5 years, about 15% of HP will retire. In 2002, HPS president John Frazier commissioned a study of this problem. HPS currently has a recruitment brochure.
HPS surveyed State governments this year on their employment of HP. So far, 28 states responded. Kevin expects a draft report to be available by November of this year.
Tour of Cargill Microbial and Plant Genomics Building.
This is a 64,000-square-foot facility built on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus/St. Paul. It contains laboratories, related research space and offices. The building houses 22 senior faculty members and 175 supporting researchers.
Status of Nuclear Power in Minnesota and the US, plus and update on gas vs. nuclear.
Lenny Sueper, Nuclear Management Company, provided additional insights into what the two Minnesota nuclear power plans are presently doing. There is mounting pressure, due to the cost and consumption of natural gas, to revisit the expansion of nuclear power in the upper Midwest. Two energy companies in the Southeastern US have applied to the NRC for permits for new plants.
Supporting the Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program.
Jim McCloskey of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety summarized the Minnesota emergency program: plan, response, recovery, and mitigation. He noted that most of the responders to an emergency are volunteers.
Ken Kerns summarized the Iowa program. In Iowa, HPs from Iowa State University respond to all radiological incidents.
Ken feels that money is being budgeted based on public fears and perceptions, rather than actual risks. For example, lots of money is being spent for unlikely power plant accidents and terrorism because these are public fears, but little money is spent on transportation accidents and lost sources, which are more likely.