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BART ZIEGLER, president of the Samuel Lawrence Foundation
In his Jan. 24 commentary, “Alleviating fears from misinformation about SONGS,” Richard Warnock bashes an international expert in radiation biology. Warnock’s bluster is laden with unattributed claims he expects readers to take at face value.
He argues that radiation levels in seawater, sediment and crops near San Onofre are being monitored (he does not say by whom) and that radiological releases follow government guidelines. He also defends Southern California Edison’s storage of nearly about 1,600 metric tons of radioactive waste at the old plant. These activities follow Nuclear Regulatory Commission guidelines, Warnock says.
It comes as no surprise that Warnock, a 32-year veteran of the nuclear industry, comes so passionately to its defense.
Warnock criticizes Dr. Ian Fairlie, an English scientist who studied the Chernobyl fallout before advising government agencies in Europe and leading its prestigious Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters.
During an online presentation Nov. 19, Fairlie warned listeners that it’s better to be aware of the dangers of radiation exposure than to live in ignorant bliss.
Warnock, who doesn’t like this message, casts aspersions on the messenger.
Fairlie’s warnings deserve attention. So does a campaign by a coalition of nine physicians and scientists and nearly 1,200 Californians who are petitioning lawmakers to fund research on possible cancer clusters near the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
Warnock downplays Southern California Edison’s frequent release of radioactive isotopes from SONGS into the ocean and atmosphere for more than 65 years. As a board-certified health physicist (to be clear, the certification is not a license to practice health physics), Warnock should welcome further gathering of objective data.
We do, too. The Samuel Lawrence Foundation supports a method by UC San Diego scientists to greatly improve radiation monitoring at San Onofre and provide data in real time to the public.
We support scientific debate. On this topic, however, Warnock clearly has neither the credentials nor the depth.