Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quote of the Week: and the standard banana

UPDATE: TEGUCIGALPA, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Honduras authorities have found strong traces of radioactive material in a Hong Kong-bound shipping container carrying steel debris from an Atlantic coast port, officials said on Monday. story

Countries worldwide have installed radiation detection instruments to detect shipments of illegal radioactive material crossing their borders. Some common cargoes contain naturally occurring radioactive material (bananas, fireworks, brazil nuts, keychains, kitty litter, granite, etc.) that trigger radiation alarms.

The following excerpts come from A Look Ahead for NRC and the Industry:

The Customs agents told me about one particular port that receives nothing but bananas – and virtually every shipment sets off the detectors. That struck a chord with me, because some of my fellow Commissioners have joked for some time about creating the “standard banana” as a harmless unit of radioactivity.

Now, as all of you know very well, the first step in explaining things properly is having the right metrics. So let me take this opportunity to propose a new calibration that you could put before your Standards Committee, and perhaps the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The new metric or quantification method that I am suggesting would be called… “The Standard Banana.”

Quote of the Week: The public needs to understand there is such a thing as harmless exposure—which I think most people would grasp if you explain it in terms they can understand… like a standard banana. - NRC Chairman Dr. Dale E. Klein (photo above), Canberra User’s Group, Indian Wells, CA, June 27, 2007


Do you ever remember consuming Brazil nuts (0.5 millirem from eating one-half pound of Brazil nuts), or Gatorade (0.2 millirem from drinking a quart of Gatorade each week) served onboard your nuclear submarine? Bananas? Cigarettes (1300 millirem per year for the average cigarette smoker )? What about taking self-powered (tritium) keychain lights onboard? [Tritium is an integral part of thermonuclear devices at quantities thousands of times larger than those in a keychain. Devices containing tritium are considered dual-use by the U.S. and are illegal for export. However, they are widely available in the U.K., most of Europe, Asia and Australia]. Please do not answer any of the foregoing rhetorical questions.

However, do you have your own radiation story (not connected with the Hamiliton incident)?



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