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I am pleased to learn that you are preparing for the first meeting of the newly formed Radiation Policy Council. I want to reconfirm my letter to you of January 25 in which I asked Dr. Julius Richmond, Assistant Secretary for Health and Surgeon General, to represent the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare on the Council. Dr. James Dickson, Senior Advisor for Environmental Affairs, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, will be the alternate to Dr, Richmond.
You asked for recommendations on issues for the Council's first agenda. While I am sure that Mr. Carl Gerber will have the opportunity to go into detail concerning various items when he contacts the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, there are several items that are of concern to me that I hope will be addressed. For example:
o Occupational Radiation Protection Guides or limits of exposure.
I understand that, during the past six years, the Environmental Protection Agency has been working on occupational radiation guides for Federal agencies, utilizing the authority of the former Federal Radiation Council. In addition, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has recently published recommendations for nuclear medicine workers that incorporate the "as low as readily achievable" philosophy. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Department of Energy have studies underway on the impact of lower occupational guides on the organizations under their control. Also, as you may know, the Public Health Service's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has responsibility for supporting OSHA in the development of criteria to protect workers. I am concerned that all these efforts be coordinated so that the Federal government presents a consistent approach to this problem area.
o Professional and technician manpower needs in the area of radiation protection.
These needs have not been fully addressed in the studies of the Interagency Task Force on the Health Effects of Ionizing Radiation. The need for trained radiation protection experts to work in such areas as medical facilities, nuclear reactors and emergency planning has increased, especially following the accident at Three Mile Island. As all of us have an interest in the future needs and systems to solve the training problem, there is a requirement for the Radiation Policy Council to address this issue.
o Finally, the public information (education) program on the health effects of
As the President pointed out in his memorandum of February 21, there is a
As to your question about how the Council can function most effectively, I would strongly suggest that its meetings be public with full opportunity for members of the public to submit items for the agenda and to have the opportunity to comment on planned agenda items. The actual structuring of the operations of the Council will probably have to be accomplished by using work groups consisting of technical experts from the various concerned agencies.
a structuring of to have the opportunity for members of
I would like to emphasize my belief in the importance of the Council. The President has given us a very clear mandate through the Council to focus on the radiation protection picture which now must appear very unclear and diffuse to most citizens of this country. I believe the Council is our opportunity to develop a truly coherent Federal radiation protection policy. I will do what I can to help make the Council a success.
Pori Pont Navi
Patricia Roberts Harris
[Editorial note. The attachments were:
SUBJECT: Proposed Charter for the Interagency Radiation Research Committee
Request to charter the Interagency Radiation Research Committee
On February 21, 1980, the President signed an Executive Order creating a
The Interagency Committee held its first meeting on June 9 in the Hubert H.
A charter for the Interagency Committee was orginally drafted shortly after
The Interagency Radiation Research Committee reviewed the proposed charter at its second meeting on July 25, 1980. On the basis of suggested revisions, the charter was revised and again reviewed by the Committee on September 19. The Committee approved the revised charter and asked that it be transmitted to you for your action and approval (see Tab A).
INTERAGENCY RADIATION RESEARCH COMMITTEE
On February 21, 1980, President Carter directed the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to establish an Interagency Radiation Research Committee with membership drawn from all Federal agencies with significant research, operational, and protective functions in the subject area.
The mandate for the Committee is to assure that the Federal program of research to characterize the risks to humans and the ecosystem from exposure to ionizing radiation is comprehensive and carried out efficiently, objectively, openly, and in accord with the highest scientific standards. The Committee must assure that Federal research programs are also directed to provide the regulatory agencies with the knowledge required to set appropriate standards for protecting the public and environment.
This Committee will serve as the successor to the Committee on Federal Research Into the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation, a committee chartered on June 8, 1979, by the Secretary of HEW to address certain needs of the Administration and the concerns and interests of the Congress.
In May 1978, the White House directed the Secretary of HEW to coordinate the study of a number of specific radiation-related issues, working in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Energy, and the Administrator of the Veterans Administration. Accordingly, the Secretary of HEW established an Interagency Task Force under the direction of the General Counsel, HEW. The Task Force included representatives of the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
wration, transmitted to the White Houico
The reports of the Interagency Task Force on the Health Effects of Ionizing Radiation, transmitted to the White House and to agency heads in June and August of 1979, identified a number of objectives for Federal programs in this area. Among these the following received emphasis: (1) to safeguard the public health, (2) to increase public confidence in the radiation research programs of the Federal Government, and (3) to improve the efficiency of the Government in this area.
During this same period, several Congressional hearings highlighted matters of particular concern to the Congress and the public. These included the following: scientific uncertainty about health effects of ionizing radiation,