Letter to the editor: In response to April 8, 2016 article ‘OSU fined by EPA’

The Friday, April 8, 2016 edition of The Daily Barometer featured a cover story detailing the fines levied by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) against Oregon State University for a variety of compliance issues.

Per the article, the major concern was improper labelling and storage of chemical waste, which was largely limited to Weniger and Gilbert halls. A large image of a radioactive waste drum with an affixed placard reading “Caution: Radioactive Materials” accompanied the article.

We feel that this is an egregious misrepresentation of the story that is being reported and an inappropriate characterization of the handling of radioactive materials on campus. The EPA fines were unrelated to radioactive materials. While the EPA monitors radioactive releases to the atmosphere and public drinking water, they are not the organization that regulates radioactive waste storage or labelling on campus. Furthermore, the image used is incongruent with the description of the violations in the article, as it represents a properly labelled disposal container with spill safeguards.

As students who regularly work with, around, or on projects that involve radioactive materials, this distortion of the narrative is particularly distressing. Radioactive materials and nuclear research frequently receive significant, undue negative implications from a variety of media sources. Treatment of diseases, advances in physical sciences, and production of significant quantities of carbon neutral electricity are often overshadowed in movies, television and news reporting by baseless fear mongering.

This unjustifiably damages the reputation of people who work in this field, and we feel that the improper use of the image accompanying this article represents a continuation of this trend.

We appreciate The Daily Barometer’s willingness to retract this image, and would be happy to communicate our research to all members of the campus community. Tours of the Radiation Center will be offered on Mom’s Weekend (April 29 – May 1) to anyone who is interested in viewing our facilities or learning about our fields of study. We hope to use this time to generate enthusiasm for working in the versatile and dynamic field of radiation sciences, and look forward to answering any questions about our work.


Students of Radiation and Nuclear Sciences

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