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Suggested Citation:"General Considerations on Criteria of Acceptability." National Research Council. 1959. Considerations on the Disposal of Radioactive Wastes From Nuclear-Powered Ships Into the Marine Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18744.
Page 12

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deep ocean. We cannot specify any of the marine environments from the land out to the deeper parts of the slopes of the continental shelf which are absolutely devoid of exploited or exploitable food resources, especially as world populations and food needs continue to expand. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS ON CRITERIA OF ACCEPTABILITY The International Commission on Radiological Protection and the U. S. National Committee on Radiation Protection have estimated the maximum permissible total body burden of various radio-isotopes and the corresponding maximum permissible concentrations in drinking water. These have been published by the U. S. National Committee in Handbook 52 of the National Bureau of Standards (1953). A revision by the International Commission on Radiological Protection is under prep- aration; data from this forthcoming revision have been utilized by AEC in preparing tables contained in Title 10, Chapter 1, Part 20, Code of Federal Regulations, Revised 1959 (proposed). Permissible concentrations in the marine environment are usu- ally calculated on the basis of these maximum permissible body burdens or maximum permissible concentrations in drinking water by: (1) as- suming a factor relating maximum permissible exposure of the general population to the maximum permissible exposure as an occupational hazard (Dunster, 1956, for example, used a factor of 1/10; Carritt, et al. , 1958, use the mpc's in Handbook 52); (2) calculating, from reason- able and conservative assumptions, the quantity of radionuclides that will reach man from given quantities in the environment. By further considering the relationship between the rate of introduction of a nu- clide and the resulting concentration in the environment, there can finally be estimated the maximum permissible rate of discharge into the environment. This is a reasonable procedure and is similar to the one that we have followed. However, it should not be assumed that the maximum permissible rate of discharge of nuclides into the environment is the sole criterion for determining the acceptable rate of discharge. The acceptable discharge should be that quantity, less than the maximum permissible, which is reasonable, taking into account the cost of re- ducing the quantity. In some cases where the cost of alternatives is low and the advantages to be gained by such alternatives are great, the acceptable discharge of radioactive wastes may be zero. This is em- phasized because, although it has been repeatedly pointed out by other committees dealing with such problems, it has often been ignored. Both the International Commission on Radiological Protection (1950) and the U. S. National Committee on Radiation Protection (1953) have recommended that exposure to any type of radiation be kept to the lowest level deemed possible or practicable. Evidence that there may be no threshold value for radiation damage, either somatic or genetic, led the U. N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (1958) to the conclusion that any amount of radiation, no matter how small, may be harmful in some degree. 12

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