Nuclear Facilities, Radiological Safety and Radiation Exposure to Public: Concerns and Facts | Original Article
Man is living with radioactivity and exposure to ionizing radiation and the usage of radioisotope or radiation for the benefit of mankind is on increase. There is understandably a high level of public interest in any ‘Nuclear/Radiation’ related news. On the other hand, timely availability of authentic / factual / credible information on the subject is limited. Due to this, there are several common misconceptions to the extent that any event immediately conjures up visions of deformed children, high cancer incidence, a Chernobyl type event or even a nuclear explosion like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is essential that any possible nuclear / radiation emergency especially in public domain is addressed in rational manner without any preconceived notion / bias. Due to the wide applications and usage of radioactive sources for the benefit of society, large number of radiological accidents (Goiania, Morocco, Mayapuri etc.) has occurred, world over, compared to a few nuclear accidents. The number of deaths reported due to radiological emergencies is many times higher compared to the total number of deaths (58) due to nuclear emergencies (Chernobyl& Fukushima). In the accident at Chernobyl reactor release of large quantity of radioactivity to the environment took place due to the errors in design, operating procedures and lack of adequate containment to retain the pressure build-up. In the accident at Fukushima nuclear plants, release of radioactivity to the environment took place due to the unexpectedly severe Tsunami waves (more than 14m high) affecting the required continuous cooling for the removal of decay heat in the reactor fuel of the reactor cores though they survived the large magnitude earthquake. Inspite of the release of large quantity of radioactivity into the environment, which generated fear on the possible health effects among the exposed persons, there are no indications of occurrence of fatal cancer or other deleterious effects to the member of public except few thyroid cancer cases due to the exposure to radioiodine releases.