Thursday, April 9, 2009

Local professional attends national conference on nuclear power

OK, one more time...freshly mined uranium ore is only one aspect of the dangers. The bigger danger, by far, is exposure to RADON gas and its progeny. Play down exposure to raw ore all you want, VUI...but let's be honest: it's just a smokescreen to distract folks about the real danger...RADON.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 9:17 AM EDT

Virginia Uranium's Mick Mastilovic, vice president of operations, recently attended the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements' 2009 Annual Meeting in Bethesda, Md.

The two-day conference, titled "Future of Nuclear Power Worldwide: Safety, Health and Environment," brought together leading experts from around the world for an in-depth discussion of issues related to the safety, health and environmental protection aspects of new nuclear power reactor systems and fuel production and processing strategies.

Participants in the conference included representatives of several countries, scientific organizations, nuclear industries, and governmental agencies engaged in the development and regulatory control of advanced reactor systems and fuel concepts.

One of the most notable findings reported at the conference was that Americans now are exposed to more than seven times as much ionizing radiation from medical procedures as was the case in the early 1980s.

The increase was primarily a result of the growth in the use of medical imaging procedures.

The featured presenter, Dr. John D. Boice, Jr. of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and International Epidemiology Institute, reiterated that to date no radiation-induced genetic diseases have been demonstrated in humans and that biological effects are not noticed under a dose of about 10,000 milli-rem (common measurement for radiation).

"The conference was an opportunity to learn more about the much researched topic of radiation," said Mastilovic.

"It was enlightening to hear leaders in the field talk about the research they have done and are doing. Each presenter had valuable information that helps all of us better understand radiation."

This research has direct implications for the potential uranium development operation in Pittsylvania County.

"Confirming that there are no reported developmental effects in humans who are exposed to under a 10,000 milli-rem dose of radiation was very reassuring," Mastilovic said.

"The dose above ground for a mine-worker at Coles Hill is estimated to be under 17 milli-rem above background, or close to 600 times less than the level at which the effects of radiation could even be noticed."

Put another way, it would take about 600 years for a worker at the Coles Hill uranium mine to get a cumulative dose that could even register demonstrated effects.

To put that in perspective, 17 milli-rem is what someone can expect to get from just fertilizing their lawn.

While radiation exposure is not seen as a significant hazard with the potential uranium mine, it is something that will be thoroughly evaluated, properly permitted and continuously monitored.

Mastilovic has over 15 years of experience in the energy industry. Prior to joining Virginia Uranium, he was with USEC, a leading supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants, as director of production operations.

Previously, he worked in the product development and process engineering departments at Framatome (now Areva) in Lynchburg, and worked on the development of power generation and transmission assets for PSEG.

Mastilovic has a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia, a master's degree from Carnegie Mellon University and has an MBA from Cornell University. He is a registered professional engineer in Virginia.

The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements seeks to formulate and widely disseminate information, guidance and recommendations on radiation protection and measurements which represent the consensus of leading scientific thinking.

The council is always on the alert for areas in which the development and publication of materials can make an important contribution to the public interest.

While founded in 1929, the council was reorganized and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1964 as the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements.

More information about the NCRP including their publications, you can visit their Web site at

The council's mission also encompasses the responsibility to facilitate and stimulate cooperation among organizations concerned with the scientific and related aspects of radiation protection and measurements.

Virginia Uranium Inc. is a Virginia corporation founded by the Coles and Bowen families in 2007 to promote the development of the largest undeveloped uranium deposit in the United States, which is located at Coles Hill in Pittsylvania County.

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