New maintenance process reduces worker dose at Savannah River tritium facility

September 9, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Operators disassemble a cutter head inside a module at the Savannah River's Tritium Extraction Facility using manipulators and hand tools. (Photo: SRNS)

Using basic hand tools and remote manipulators, operators at Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) were able to reduce radiation exposure to workers performing cutter head maintenance in the Savannah River Site’s Tritium Extraction Facility (TEF).

According to SRNS, the innovative procedure proved to be an excellent example of real-world application of As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) principles of time, distance, and shielding.

The criminalization of nuclear

Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar

Nuclear energy is the cleanest, safest, densest, and most reliable energy source. The value proposition for nuclear energy is unparalleled. It is the only commercially proven, “dispatchable” clean energy technology that can be scaled up fast enough to meet the demand for electricity in a decarbonizing scenario. It is the answer for governments and nongovernmental organizations worldwide that are clamoring for a reduction in human-generated CO2 emissions. Humans flourish when they have access to plentiful, safe, and reliable energy. Nuclear excels at all of these.

Calming fears about low-dose radiation

March 8, 2021, 12:00PMANS NewsMary Lou Dunzik-Gougar

Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar

During my time as vice president and president of ANS, I have been advocating for a new approach to implementing dose limits across the nuclear industry. A lack of understanding and an unfounded fear of radiation has resulted in widespread efforts to minimize dose, rather than to optimize radiation protection in a holistic sense. I want to put the “reasonably” back into ALARA (“as low as reasonably achievable”). Such a paradigm shift, from minimization to optimization, while easily said, equates to a major cultural change spanning international government agencies, industry, nongovernmental organizations, professional societies, and even academia. It is essential to have the active participation of all stakeholders in a transparent process to effect such a change. This process will not only lead us toward a more level playing field for nuclear, it will also greatly impact public perception of nuclear and radiological technology.

ANS webinar to focus on low-dose radiation risk

January 20, 2021, 12:04PMANS News

Join ANS on Thursday, January 21, at noon (ET) for a Q&A with an expert panel as they discuss how to communicate about the risk of low-dose radiation. “Talking About Low-dose Radiation Risk” is a free members-only event that serves as a follow-up to the “Risky Business” President’s Session that took place during the ANS Virtual Winter Meeting last November. The session will take a deeper dive into the many questions generated from the thought-provoking discussion.

Register now to attend the webinar.

2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: President’s Special Session

November 20, 2020, 9:27AMNuclear News

ANS President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar took to the video screen on November 18 during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting for the President’s Special Session on radiation risk, echoing a comment by Exelon Nuclear’s Bryan Hanson, the Winter Meeting’s general cochair, who earlier in the week characterized radiation as one of the most misunderstood aspects of nuclear.

“I think that’s very true,” Dunzik-Gougar said. “So much misconception and misunderstanding. I have always had a passion for communicating about such things as radiation, helping people understand the nature of radiation and the relative risks of nuclear, but mostly about its benefits. But I think we in the industry can better prepare ourselves with knowledge about radiation and its impacts and also educate ourselves on how to talk about the risks of radiation with people not in our own echo chambers to help change the perception among a broader scope of people.”

The panel of experts assembled to help impart some of that knowledge to session attendees included Amir A. Bahadori, assistant professor at Kansas State University; Donald A. Cool, a technical executive at the Electric Power Research Institute and a former senior executive at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Paul Locke, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Shaheen Dewji, assistant professor at Texas A&M University.

Harnessing the promise of radiation: The art of reasonableness

September 11, 2020, 3:04PMNuclear NewsPaul Locke, Amir Bahadori, Antone Brooks, Shaheen Dewji, Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar, Marilyn Kray, and Alan Waltar

Radiation has benefited mankind in many ways, including its use as an energy source and an indispensable tool in medicine. Since the turn of the 20th century, society has sought ways to harness its potential, while at the same time recognizing that radiological exposures need to be carefully controlled. Out of these efforts, and the work of many dedicated professionals, the principles of justification, optimization, and limitation have emerged as guiding concepts.

Justification means that the use of radiation, from any radiation source, must do more good than harm. The concept of optimization calls for the use of radiation at a level that is as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). Dose constraints, or limitation, are meant to assist in reaching optimization and protection against harm by setting recommended numerical levels of radiation exposure from a particular source or sources. Together, these three principles form the bedrock of the international radiation protection system that drives decision-­making and supports societal confidence that radiation is being used in a responsible manner.