Make Radiation Visible Workshop Is Saturday At UTC

Friday, February 21, 2014

As part of its campaign to Make Radiation Visible, a Tennessee Valley environmental group, BEST/MATRR, is offering a Rendevous for Action Workshop Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at UTC, Room 124 in Holt Hall next to the University Center on 5th Street. The workshop offers free training on safe and scientifically sound methods for monitoring and recording radiation in the community. The group has an ongoing radiation monitoring program in the valley, and invites citizens to join their monitoring teams or to create their own. 

The workshop will be led by BEST/MATRR's Monitoring Project director, Garry Morgan, and
by Lou Zeller, executive director of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, a
league of environmental groups in seven southeastern states.  BEST/MATRR, a local group of concerned citizens in north Alabama and Tennessee, is the Bellefonte Efficiency & Sustainability Team / Mothers Against TN River Radiation, a member chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL). More can be learned about the group and the issues on their website at MATRR.org.

Mr. Morgan is retired from the U.S. Army Medical Department with experience and training in Radiation Protection, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Decontamination and emergency response in military and civilian medical care settings, with military experience in Personnel Reliability-Nuclear Surety inspections. Mr. Morgan's training will include protocols of the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and State of Alabama Department of Health Radiation Control. Mr. Zeller will be training in data analysis methods of the Technical Education Research Centers Statistics in Action program.

BEST/MATRR has been monitoring radiation in the Tennessee Valley, and is linked to a
real-time online network of groups and individuals monitoring around the country. The group
published a preliminary 52 page report last summer, Radioactive Emissions and Health Hazards Surrounding Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant in Alabama. The monitoring in north Alabama is ongoing, but they have expanded their range to include east Tennessee from Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant, 17 miles from Chattanooga to Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant near Oak Ridge and Knoxville. They plan to publish a report on that area later this year. 

They launched a national campaign to Make Radiation Visible last month in Washington,
DC, as part of a multi-group committee meeting with Nuclear Regulatory commissioners,
Environmental Protection Agency radiation specialists, and other government officials. With the
Make Radiation Visible campaign, the group proposes a plan to reveal these invisible
toxins for public health and safety. 

First, they call on the NRC to upgrade monitoring rules, replacing outdated quarterly averaging, currently reported only once a year, with real-time online data about radiation levels around nuclear power plants. Second, just like odor markers for natural gas and propane, they ask that visible dye-markers be dispersed with emergency radiation plumes, providing immediate warning about where the radioactive releases are traveling – which could be a critical life-saver for the public and first-responders. Third, they call for public health alerts when these known carcinogens and mutagens are released into the environment.  

Says campaign developer, Gretel Johnston, “We have weather alerts, smog alerts, and even pollen alerts – why not radioactivity alerts when these poisons are both routinely and accidentally
released into our air and water? We are alerted to other hazardous substance spills, why not
radiation? The people being exposed to these toxins deserve to know the levels of radioactivity
in their environment – when it is released, not a year later.” 



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