Impacted communities speak out on radiation impacts

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The National Academies hosted a virtual public meeting over two days in October 2021, to examine how to move forward with low-dose radiation research. This was part of a larger NAS effort, which will end with a report of recommendations. To NAS’s credit, the October meeting featured powerful and important presentations by downwinder and other communities affected by nuclear technologies including atomic veterans, Native Americans, and independent scientists working with these groups.

The presentations clearly demonstrated the need for a more robust definition of expertise, a desperate need for wider recognition of who is an expert when it comes to living in a radioactively contaminated area over generations, and recognition that the Department of Energy is the wrong agency to provide recommendations for radiation research. We hope that NAS’s willingness to hear these presentations signals a shift to a more inclusive scientific process for assessing radiation exposure impacts.

These groups have now submitted recommendations (also signed by Beyond Nuclear) to NAS stressing that NAS’s final report include, among other points, acknowledgment of the significant harm and persisting risks to nuclear workers and the public caused by government and industry support and use of nuclear technologies; acknowledgement of the larger ethical question of people’s right to a safe environment; and acceptance that future research on low-dose issues should be community-driven and -overseen. Comments on this process and suggestions for the reports contents are accepted until the end of January.

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