Accountability of the Nuclear Industry to State and Local Governments for Radiation Injuries

  • Date: Jan 01 1984
  • Policy Number: 8407

Key Words: Nuclear Weapons, Legislation

The American Public Health Association,

Recognizing that there is concern over the adequacy of federal radiation protection standards to protect the public health and safety;1-13 and

Recognizing that operators of nuclear facilities have a responsibility to prevent the escape of radioactive materials from the restricted areas of nuclear facilities; and

Noting that the Supreme Court held that state and local governments are preempted by the federal government from enforcing laws to protect the public health and safety from radiation hazards;4 and

Believing that corporations which profit from nuclear technology should assume responsibility for the risk of injury to people or to their property in the surrounding communities; and

Recognizing that the protection of public health and safety is a responsibility of state and local as well as federal governments; and

Having previously addressed the issue of prevention of occupational disease and victim compensation in Policy Statement No. 8329(PP);15 and

Having previously recognized that the nuclear industry since its inception has been noted for incidents with significant actual and potential adverse effect on the health of workers and surrounding populations as noted in Policy Statement No. 7909;16 and

Strongly opposing any limitations on the liability of the nuclear industry, as stated in Policy Statement No. 8124;17 therefore

  1. Actively supports federal legislation which will ensure the right of state and local governments to impose civil and criminal liabilities on owners and operators of nuclear facilities for violations of local laws that protect the public health and safety from radiation hazards; and
  2. Encourages state and local governments to consider the necessity of establishing state and local radiation protection standards more stringent than the federal standards.


  1. Johnson CJ, Tidball RR, Severson RC: Plutonium hazard in respirable dust on the surface of soil. Science 1976;193:488.
  2. Johnson CJ: Funding of Radiation Protection Standards Research. (Letter) Am J Public Health 1979;69:181.
  3. Tompkins PC (Deputy Director, AEC, Division of Radiation Protection Standards): Memorandum to Commissioner Haworth: Status Report on Current Activities of the Federal Radiation Council Working Group, September 25, 1962.
  4. Johnson CJ, et al: Cancer incidence in an area contaminated with radio-nuclides near a nuclear installation. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Ambio, Int J Human Environ 1981;10:176-182.
  5. ________: Environmental and health effects of the nuclear industry: a current evaluation. Ecol Dis 1982;1:135-152.
  6. ________: The final epidemic (letter). JAMA 1983;249:728.
  7. ________: Glioblastoma, other brain tumors and melanoma in plutonium workers. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Ambio 1983;12:280-281.
  8. ________: Epidemiologic investigation of cancer incidence in people living near nuclear installations (letter). Health Physics 1983;45:809-813.
  9. ________: Investigations of health effects in populations living near nuclear installations (letter). Am J Public Health 1983;73:598-599.
  10. ________: Spontaneous abortions following Three Mile Island accident (letter). Am J Public Health 1984;74:520.
  11. ________: Cancer incidence in an area of radioactive fallout downwind from the Nevada Test Site. JAMA 1984;251:230-236.
  12. Jenkins B: Mem. Opinion, Irene Allen et al vs U.S. (Department of Energy), Civil No. C 79-0515-J, US District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division, P.O. Box 3900, Salt Lake, UT 84110 (May 10, 1984).
  13. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corporation, 331 U.S. 218, 230 (1947).
  14. US Supreme Court: Silkwood v Kerr-McGee 52 U.S.L.W. 4043 (January 11, 1984), p 18.
  15. APHA Policy Statement No. 8329(PP): Compensation for and Prevention of Occupational Disease. APHA Public Policy Statements, 1948 to present, cumulative. Washington, DC: APHA, current volume.
  16. APHA Policy Statement No. 7909: Nuclear Power. APHA Public Policy Statements, 1948 to present, cumulative. Washington, DC: APHA, current volume.
  17. APHA Policy Statement No. 8124: Nuclear Accident Liability APHA Public Policy Statements, 1948 to present, cumulative. Washington, DC: APHA, current volume.

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