Health Department to Amend Radiation Health Rule

For Immediate Release: Feb. 12, 2009

Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON — The Vermont Department of Health is initiating a rulemaking proceeding to amend its Radiological Health rule, and is inviting public comment on the proposed amendments now through March 23, 2009.

A public hearing will be held on Monday, March 9 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Vernon Elementary School gym, 381 Governor Hunt Road, Vernon, Vermont.

The Radiological Health rule establishes the maximum dose of radiation that can result from activities at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station and other sources of radiation, such as medical and dental X-rays, medical waste and industrial uses of radiation.

“Vermont’s rule provides the strictest limits in the country to protect the public from sources of radiation at a nuclear power station,” said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis, MD. “The department is committed to its public oversight responsibilities and is proposing changes to further meet that commitment.”

The proposed amendments would update and clarify the regulation, add definitions consistent with federal regulatory standards, and strengthen the monitoring and enforcement provisions of the rule. The Health Department verifies the plant’s compliance by deploying independent monitoring equipment in and around the plant. The surveillance program includes 1,300 separate measures of the air, water, milk, soil, vegetation, sediment and fish taken at the site boundary and in the six Vermont towns surrounding Vermont Yankee.

The Health Department has been conducting radiological surveys of the environment around Vermont Yankee since it began operating in 1973.

The proposed amendments do NOT change the radiation dose limit of 20 millirem per year at the Vermont Yankee site boundary — a limit that is five times more protective than the comparable federal standard of 100 millirem that is applied at other nuclear power plants.

The proposed amendments would incorporate a dose conversion factor of no less than .60 millirem per milliroentgen as recommended in an independent study from Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) in 2007. The dose conversion factor must be applied to radiation exposure measurements to determine and enforce compliance with the dose limits set in rule.

The proposed rule is available for public comment now through March 23, 2009 at the Health Department’s website at healthvermont.gov. Written comments may be directed to Dr. William E. Irwin, Sc.D., CHP, Radiological Health Chief, Vermont Department of Health, P.O. 70, Burlington, Vermont 05402-0070.

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