Fallout Monitoring from the People's Republic of China's Nuclear Test

Gao ID: EMD-77-1 October 26, 1976

A review of the circumstances surrounding the fallout from the recent detonation of a nuclear device by the Peoples Republic of China on September 26, 1976, indicated that some confusion and public concern was generated because of a misunderstanding about the source and potential hazard of the resulting radiation. This occurred because no formal procedures exist for the various agencies responsible for detecting and monitoring radiation activities to communicate with EPA. In order to avoid public concern and confusion over the source and extent of increased radioactivity due to increased dispersion of nuclear technology and use of nuclear power, it is important that EPA receive timely information on the location, movement, and monitoring of radioactive fallout from the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. EPA should take the lead in developing and implementing cooperative agreements with other Federal and State agencies which provide for the coordinated collection of data and subsequent release of information regarding nuclear fallout. EPA could more effectively protect the environment and public health if all affected agencies provided EPA with timely information about their activities in detecting and monitoring radioactive fallout. GAO recommends that ERDA cooperate fully with EPA in these efforts.

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