In this week’s news briefs, people are divided over an EPA guideline that would increase the radioactive contamination levels allowed in drinking water for a temporary period following a disaster, and Massachusetts utilities are forced to tap into emergency water resources to deal with drought.
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new guidelines that would temporarily allow radioactive contamination in drinking water beyond safety limits in the wake of a nuclear emergency.
Public comments are still being evaluated and the agency is expected to release a final document sometime this year, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. The EPA has said that its normal radiation safety limits — based on presumed exposure over the course of decades — can be relaxed for a brief period of time following an emergency without increasing the risk of public harm.
There have been opponents. The New York attorney general’s office, regarding a possible accident at the Indian Point nuclear power plant 24 miles north of New York City, said the proposal “would potentially allow millions of New York residents to ingest drinking water containing concentration … well in excess of what has been considered to pose an acceptable risk.”
It has received support as well. Kevin Morley, the security and preparedness program manager for the American Water Works Association, said it’s a “reasonable approach” during times when “it is not an everyday, business-as-usual situation.”