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Posts Tagged ‘radioactive iodine’

Japan Nuclear Disaster Update – March 31

Posted by feww on March 31, 2011

UPDATED at 13:00UTC

Japan Should Consider Extending Radiation Evacuation Zone: IAEA

Radiation at Iitate village, 40 km (25 mile) NW of the crippled Fukushima NPP, exceeded safety limits

Radiation levels within the 40-km radius of Fukushima NPP has exceeded safety limits, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.

They have recorded 20 megabecquerels per square meter (20,000,000 Bq/m²) at the village, which is twice the agency’s evacuation criteria, NHK reported.

Two radioactive elements, iodine-131 and cesium-137, had caused the contamination, the report said.

[Note: One becquerel (Bq) represents one nucleus decay per second in a given quantity of radioactive material. 1 GBq = 0.0270 Curie (Ci). Curie is an older unit of radioactivity equal to the decay of 1 gram of radium-226.   1 Ci = 3.7 x 10^10 decays per second.]

“[IAEA has advised Japanese government to] carefully assess the situation on the basis of this report,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a daily news briefing earlier today.

“At the moment, we have no reason to think that the radiation will have an effect on people’s health. We need to closely monitor the situation and see if the radiation is consistently high,” Edano said.

“I don’t think that this is something of a nature which immediately requires such action.”

“But the fact that the level of radiation is high in the soil is inevitably pointing to the possibility that the accumulation over the long term may affect human health,” he added. “Therefore, we will continue monitoring the level of radiation with heightened vigilance and we intend to take action if necessary.”

Meanwhile,  radioactive iodine levels found in seawater about 330 meters south of the stricken plant’s water outlet has climbed by 4,385 times the legal limit, Japan’s nuclear and industrial safety agency (NISA) said. The latest reading is the highest level recorded since radiation first leaked from the plant following the Tohoku 9.0 Megaquake and tsunami, which struck the region on March 11.

The previous high for radioactive iodine found in seawater near Fukushima was reported yesterday at 3,355 times the legal limit.

Radiation at Iitate village

Dangerous radiation levels of about 10 microsieverts per hour have been recorded at Iitate village, according to Greenpeace, which has urging the Japanese government  to “stop choosing politics over science.”

“It is clearly not safe for people to remain in Iitate, especially children and pregnant women,” Greenpeace said.

Iodine 131 is believed to have caused the high incidence of thyroid cancer among children living near the Chernobyl plant when the 1986 nuclear disaster occurred.

Significant Aftershocks

Another significant aftershock measuring 6.2  struck the region about 114 km (71 miles) SE of  Morioka, and 126 km NE of Sendai, USGA/EQHP reported.

The quake was epicentered at 38.954°N, 142.017°E  and struck at a depth of about 39.6 km at 04:15:30 PM local time, EQ report said.


EQ Location Map. USGS/EHP

What is a lethal dose of radiation from a single Exposure?

Studies of the 1945 atomic bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki show that 100 percent of victims whose bodies were exposed to 600,000 millirems (6,000 mSv) died from radiation. About 50 percent of victims who received  450,000 millirems (4,500 mSv) of radiation also died.

(Note: Rem is a unit of ionizing radiation equal to the amount that produces the same damage to humans as one roentgen of high-voltage x-rays.  Source: MIT)

1 rem = 10 mSv  (1 Sv = 100 rem)

Background Radiation in millirems per year (mrem/yr)

  • Average background radiation (US):  300
  • Higher altitudes (eg. Denver): 400

“Safe Levels” of Radiation (U.S.)

Limits above natural background radiation levels (average 300 millirems per year) and medical radiation:

  • Occupation Limit: Maximum of 5,000  (the limit for a worker using radiation)
  • Average Natural Background: 300

[Note: Lifetime cumulative exposure should be limited to a person’s age multiplied by 1,000 millirems, e.g., a 70-year-old person, 70,000 millirems.]

Adults

  • Max single dose for an adult: 3,000
  • Annual total dose: 5,000

Under 18

  • Max single dose for a person aged under 18 years: 300 millirems (whole body equivalent)
  • Annual total exposure: 500

Fetal Exposure

  • Maximum limit for fetal exposure during gestation period:  50 millirems per month above background levels

Medical

  • Single Chest X-ray (the whole body equivalent): 2 millirem

Air Travel

  • Coast-to-coast US round trip flight: 12 millirems

Megaquake and Tsunami Death Toll

The latest figures released by the authorities put the number of dead at about  11,420, with 16,370 people still listed as missing.

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Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Update – March 30

Posted by feww on March 30, 2011

Radiation Rises in Seawater near Fukushima NPP

Radioactive iodine was detected at 3,355 times the legal limit in seawater some 330 meters south of Japan doomed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said Japan’s nuclear safety agency.

Iodine 131 is believed to have caused the high incidence of thyroid cancer among children living near the Chernobyl plant when the 1986 nuclear disaster occurred.

Highly radioactive water has inundated at least 3 reactor buildings and is also  found elsewhere at the stricken nuclear plant.

Half-life of some radioactive elements

[NOTE: Half-life is the time taken for a radioactive substance to decay by half.]

  • Cesium-134 ~ 2  years
  • Cesium-137 ~ 30 years
  • Iodine-131 ~ 8 days
  • Plutonium-239 ~ 24,200 years
  • Ruthenium-103 ~ 39 days [Ruthenium is a fission product of uranium-235.]
  • Ruthenium-106 ~ 374 days
  • Strontium-90 ~ 28.85 years  [Strontium-90 is a product of nuclear fission and is found in large amounts in spent nuclear fuel and in radioactive waste from nuclear reactors.]
  • Uranium-234 ~  246,000 years
  • Uranium-235 ~ 703.8  million years
  • Uranium-238  ~ 4.468 billion years

Source: Various

TEPCO UPDATE

The most ridiculous news out of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO): Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata has told reporters that he thinks Fukushima Reactors 1 to 4 MAY HAVE TO BE SHUT DOWN PERMANENTLY!

[REALLY?]

Also, is he implying that Reactor 5 and 6, or any part of the Fukushima Dai-ichi for that matter, are still safe?

Death Toll

The number of people dead or missing from the megaquake and tsunami on March 11 stands at about 28,000 people.

Aftershock

Meanwhile another strong aftershock measuring 6.0Mw struck off the east coast of Honshu about 246 km (152 miles) ENE of Tokyo, USGS/EHP reported.

Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) had not reported this quake, as of posting.

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Radiation Contaminates Sea Near Fukushima NPP

Posted by feww on March 26, 2011

Radioactive iodine in the sea near Fukushima NPP 1,250 times higher than the safety limit: Officials

Today’s news is about radioactive leaks in Fukushima, Japan, tomorrow you could hear about similar or worse incidents at a plant near you.

The following article was first published in May 2004 and is one of the most read pieces on the proliferation of nuclear energy. It’s reprinted here with the kind permission of MSRB Blog.

On The Way To Armageddon: Could We Make A Detour?

James Lovelock: ‘Only nuclear power can now halt global warming’

Lovelock’s assertion that “Only nuclear power can now halt global warming” [Independent UK, May 24, 2004] is what Ed Regis (Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition) calls turn of century’s “great wave of fin-de-siècle hubristic mania.” The Professor can be forgiven for his tardiness: He is 84.

Lovelock proposes that a massive expansion of nuclear power is the only thing that “can now check a runaway warming which would raise sea levels disastrously around the world, cause climatic turbulence …”

He says he is concerned by “two climatic events in particular: the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which will raise global sea levels significantly, and the episode of extreme heat in western central Europe last August, accepted by many scientists as unprecedented and a direct result of global warming.” He is right to be concerned.

As well, “climate change is speeding, but many people are still in ignorance of this.” Unfortunately, he is right on target on this one, too.

Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, says: “Climate change and radioactive waste both pose deadly long-term threats, and we have a moral duty to minimize the effects of both, not to choose between them.”

“[A]s of the end of 2000 the world counted 438 reactors with a total of 350 GW, less than 8 percent of the projected nuclear capacity. They produced about 17 percent of the world’s electricity or about 7.5 percent of its commercial primary energy, far behind oil (40%), coal and natural gas (25% each). Nuclear power accounts for only 2 to 3 percent of the world’s commercial final energy consumption.” http://www.greens-efa.org

Lovelock also fails to consider the issue of time frame: It would probably take 15 to 20 years to even double the projected nuclear capacity from 8 to 16 percent (increasing to 5 percent the nuclear share of world’s commercial final energy consumption) without taking too many shortcuts with devastating consequences (the Chernobyl disaster, the Three Mile Island incident, and many recent near misses in Japan and elsewhere spring to mind). By then, however, the rising sea levels will have inundated most of the existing reactors.

How would Lovelock propose to solve the civilization’s mobility dilemma that we have created in the last 100 years? (About 600 million cars are registered worldwide, as well as millions of trucks and buses, thousands of trains, planes, boats … and millions more are being manufactured each year). What is Lovelock proposing, cars running on nuclear powered batteries? [How about nuclear-powered jets flying over Washington DC?]

Soon the additional demand for oil fueled by the increase in the number of vehicles on the roads and planes in the air would render the nuclear conversion ineffective. The only thing to show for a fleeting moment of madness would be a bigger pile of radioactive waste, which no one knows what to do with.

Global Warming is not the disease; it’s a symptom, albeit the most serious symptom of a cancer caused by industrial civilization. Prescribing more nuclear power (even if it were physically possible) as a cure to the civilization’s cancer is tantamount to treating a smoker’s lung-cancer by switching her over to a different brand of cigarettes.

According to Lester Brown (Earth Policy Institute) the world experienced the fourth consecutive harvest shortfalls in 2003. Last year’s shortfall of 105 million tons (5.4 percent of the total world consumption) was “easily the largest on record.” The world’s carryover stocks of grain are at their “lowest level in 30 years,” amounting to “dangerously low level of 59 days of consumption.” The minimum level needed for food security is considered to be 70 days of consumption. Meanwhile, 74 million people will be added to the world population in 2004. (www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update40_data.htm).

Based on the United Nations projections, by 2015 nearly 1.4 billion people in up to 48 countries will face severe water shortages (we believe this figure is highly optimistic), while the water quality continues to deteriorate globally from pollution and rising temperatures.

World oil production is about 80 million BPD [barrels per day] and the projected demand for 2015 [a conservative estimate] is an unsustainable 135 million BPD. The New Oil-Rule Economy will replace the “old” economy in the very near future. A single company/organization will have a monopoly on about 80 percent of “economically recoverable” global oil reserves. It will dictate “production,” pricing, and delivery (and will even decide on the end user – who may or may not buy the oil). How much is too much for a barrel of oil, $40, $240, or $4,000 a barrel? Soon, the current monetary system will be of no value.

mushroom-cloud-hb.jpg

The world spent about 1,500 billion dollars on military [the war racket] in the last 12 months. The US share of the spending was about 1,000 billion dollars, or 52 cents in every dollar of Federal Funds (current military spending 29 percent; Iraq and Afghanistan 4 percent; past military 19 percent, including national debt created by military spending) while 35 million Americans live at or below the federal poverty level.

All around us we have created a garbage quicksand. We are sinking rapidly in a quicksand of 57 trillion pounds of materials that is turned into waste annually. Of course, there is a price to pay: The Sixth Great Extinction is looming.

To avert extinction we need an ecological revolution. We must unlearn, rethink, undo, and re-do all human activities re-mapping a sustainable path within the framework of eco-centrism.

Unless the dynamics of our civilization pertaining to our morality, militarism, mobility, consumption, and our perceived ideas about possession and waste are reversed rapidly, this writer believes, the “final” war (which is being fought over the control of resources) would, in the very near future, enter its next sinister stage – a global thermonuclear holocaust.

How else could you prevent anyone in China, to quote but one example, from eating a square meal a day, or owning a car, or the gasoline to drive her car, while the United States with less 5 percent of the world population is taking more than 25 percent of the energy and 30 plus percent of all the resources?

We must begin a new chapter in human evolution, one that rejects wars for control over the oil, food, water supplies, and other resources.

But how do we do it? Is there a “single” solution that would avert an all-out nuclear war, prevent further militarism, check global warming, stop consumerist madness, reduce CO2 emissions by more than 80 percent, reduce acid rains, minimize toxins in the land, air, and sea … ?

The Zero Oil Solution

Yes there is. The zero-oil, NO fossil fuel principle—a moratorium on oil extraction and fossil fuel consumption.

Freeze the oil. Seal the oil wells. Cement them, or otherwise make it impossible to pump out any oil for 50 years. Keep all the fossil fuels in the ground, where they belong!

Stopping the flow of oil globally and keeping the fossil fuels in the ground are drastic measures, of course, and cannot be easily implemented. Freezing the consumption of fossil fuels has far-reaching socio-economical implications; it will create great upheavals. The consequences of the zero-oil, NO fossil fuel principle, however, would be far less devastating than the remaining alternatives: The inevitable global thermonuclear war, and global warming.

A moratorium on oil and fossil fuel production can only be reached through global consensus among governments; it would require an unprecedented level of cooperation among the “representatives” of nations.

The existing resources need to be redistributed fairly; populations must be readied to assume new challenges; lifestyles will be changed dramatically; communities would have to learn how to produce their food (and renewable power) locally, be sustainable and learn to do more with less.

Unfortunately, this author does not believe such levels of cooperation could possibly develop between the world governments anytime soon.

We must, therefore, rely on “we the people.” We need non-violent volunteer organizations to develop and promulgate a new, unified value system based on an eco-centric economy at war speed, employing creative ways and means of stopping the flow of oil and consumption of fossil fuels globally to avert The Sixth Great Extinction.

If we choose life, that’s a price well worth paying for.

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10,000 times the normal radiation at Fukushima R3

Posted by feww on March 25, 2011

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Continues to Unfold

Dangerously high radiation levels detected in water at Reactor 3: TEPCO

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) says it has detected dangerously high radiation levels of radiation at Fukushima NPP Reactor 3, which could mean the core has been damaged.

Japanese government says it’s doing all it can to establish the cause of radiation leak at the stricken nuclear complex, and have asked residents living within 20-30km (12-18 miles) of the nuclear plant to leave voluntarily. Until today, residents had been asked to stay indoors.

Two workers at the nuclear facility who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation remain in hospital. Apparently they had not been wearing protective boots and had ignored a radiation alarm, according to Kyodo news agency.

“As of 24 March, 19:30 Japan time, the number of workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant found to have received more than 100 millisieverts of radiation dose totalled 17 including the three contract workers. The remaining fourteen are TEPCO’s employees.” IAEA said.

Meanwhile, two Japanese tourists from Tokyo who arrived in China were taken to a hospital after being found contaminated with high radiation levels, Xinhuanet said.

Mystery surrounds the case as to how the two men became contaminated as neither of them had been within 240km radius of the Fukushima NPP, BBC said.

This news came amid an earlier report that  higher than normal radiation had been detected on a Japanese merchant ship entering the Xiamen port in Fujian province, Xinhua news reported.

Japanese Government has confirmed that levels of radioactive iodine detected in Tokyo’s tap water earlier this week  have since dropped to about normal levels, however radiation levels are still high in various areas of northern Japan.

Decommissioning of older nuclear plants big problem: IAEA

Many of the 441 nuclear reactors operating worldwide were built in the 1970s and 1980s, with an average lifespan of about 35 years (including those at Fukushima plant).

“Their decommissioning peak will occur from 2020 to 2030 which will present a major managerial, technological, safety and environmental challenge to those states engaged in nuclear decommissioning,”  according to a draft safety report by IAEA.

Is it Safe?


Construction of 4 pressurized water reactors at Cattenom Nuclear power plant in France began in 1979. CC-License.

Countries with 10 or more nuclear reactors:

The United States: 104  (Highest number of operational units)
France: 58
Japan: 54
Russia: 32
S. Korea: 21
India: 20
UK: 19
Canada: 18
Germany: 17
Ukraine: 15
China: 13
Sweden: 10

The Basic Points that are Overlooked by the International Atomic Energy Clan

1. Earth is a seismic planet and earthquakes regularly strike various regions.

2. The Pacific Ring of fire is particularly prone to earthquakes, some of them large earthquakes [Megaquakes.]

3. Larger quakes  can and do rip through ALL structures.

4. Offshore megaquakes are invariably followed by large tsunamis.

5. Large tsunamis invariable inundate vast areas, starting with coastal areas.

6. Nuclear power plants use electrical devices to operate vital cooling systems.

7. When inundated, electrical systems invariably fail.

All of the above, of course, is academic.

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Japan radiation: “serious situation”

Posted by feww on March 21, 2011

Fukushima Nuclear Crisis “very serious”—IAEA

Japan food radiation “serious situation”—WHO

Engineers at Fukushima NPP have restored power to all six reactors, but have managed to start the cooling pump at only one reactor.

IAEA says the situation remains very serious, despite the progress. “There have been some positive developments in the last 24 hours but overall the situation remains very serious,” said a senior IAEA official.

Meanwhile, some of the engineers were evacuated from the plant after a gray plume of steam and smoke escaped from the Reactor 3. The incident was followed by a large plume of steam and smoke rising from Reactor 2.

“The crisis has still not been resolved and the situation at Fukushima [nuclear power plant] remains very serious,” Yukiya Amano, the IAEA boss has announced.

I have no doubt that this crisis will be effectively overcome.” He added.

Contaminated Water

Residents living near the plant have been told not to drink tap water because high levels of radioactive iodine has been detected.

Radioactive contamination detected in the water exceeds three times the legal safety limit, according to local reports.

Food Contamination

“The World Health Organization said it had no evidence of contaminated food reaching other countries. However, China, Taiwan and South Korea have announced plans to toughen checks of Japanese imports.” BBC reported.

However, a spokesman for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) regional office for the Western Pacific told Reuters that the situation “it’s a serious situation.”

“It’s a lot more serious than anybody thought in the early days when we thought that this kind of problem can be limited to 20 to 30 kilometers … It’s safe to suppose that some contaminated produce got out of the contamination zone.”

The health officials in Tokyo earlier reported that abnormal levels of iodine were found in edible chrysanthemum flowers.

Rising Death Toll

The official death toll in the mega quake and tsunami twin disasters has now climbed to about 8,500, with up to 13,000 reported as missing.

The Humanitarian Crisis

Up to half a million people have been left homeless as a result of the Tohoku Megaquake and the ensuing deadly tsunami. Most of the surving victims are in thousands of emergency shelters, where there are still severe shortages of water, food, heating fuel, warm clothes and other basic essentials.

Up to a million homes are reportedly without water.

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Japan’s Triple Disaster Update Mar 20

Posted by feww on March 20, 2011

UPDATED 12:00UTC

TEPCO FALSIFIED SAFETY RECORDS

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) the operator of Fukushima Daiichi NPP has admitted faking repair reports.

TEPCO submitted a report to the Japan’s nuclear watchdog on 28 February, 11 days before the Tohoku Megaquake, admitting it had not  inspected 33 pieces of equipment in the plant’s six reactors.

‘Long-term inspection plans and maintenance management were inadequate,’ the nuclear safety agency concluded in its follow-up report two days later.

The company also admitted that the voluntary inspections didn’t cover substantial section of the cooling systems, including water pumps and diesel generators.

In 2002, TEPCO again admitted to falsifying safety reports, prompting the nuclear safety authorities to shut down all 17 of its boiling-water reactors for  inspection, including Fukushima.

In 2007,  after an earthquake struck the Kashiwazaki Kariwa NPP, the world’s largest, TEPCO submitted false reports concerning the amount of radioactive leak.

Radioactive contamination found in food products from Fukushima prefecture: Officials

Radioactive iodine has been found in milk samples and spinach produced in the Fukushima and could be harmful to human health if ingested, Japan’s science and technology ministry reported.

Minute amounts of radioactive iodine have also been detected in tap water in Tokyo and five other prefectures neighboring Fukushima: Gunma, Tochigi, Niigata, Chiba and Saitama.

In addition to the iodine, traces of radioactive cesium have also been found in tap water in Gunma and Tochigi prefectures, the ministry added.

The radioactive traces fall within the government safety limits, but tests don’t normally show iodine contamination, AP reported.

Radioactive iodine has a short half-life of eight days, but it can poses short-term risk to human health if ingested. It can also cause damage to the thyroid gland, IAEA health experts say.

“Progress”

“We are making progress … (however) we shouldn’t be too optimistic,” the deputy-general at Japan’s Nuclear Safety Agency has said.

Fukushima Reactor 3, which contains plutonium, a highly radioactive element, has bee stabilized after being doused for a day with large volumes of  seawater.

UPDATE: Shortly after announcing Reactor 3 had been stabilized, the authorities said pressure was again building up in the reactor’s containment vessel.

Aftershocks

A magnitude 6.1 aftershock struck Ibaraki prefecture south of Fukushima on Saturday at 06:57 PM local time. However, no significant aftershocks were reported Sunday (local time), as of posting. But the “fireworks” are by no means over, FIRE-EARTH believes.

UPDATE: Magnitude 6.1 Strikes Near the East Coast of Honshu

Magnitude: 6.1
Date-Time: Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 12:03:48 UTC
Location: 39.365°N, 142.105°E
Depth: 53.1 km (33.0 miles)
Region: NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
Distances:

  • 90 km (55 miles) ESE of Morioka, Honshu, Japan
  • 139 km (86 miles) SSE of Hachinohe, Honshu, Japan
  • 162 km (100 miles) NE of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
  • 458 km (284 miles) NNE of TOKYO, Japan

Source: USGS

RADIATION RISKS TO HEALTH

A Joint Statement from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the American Thyroid Association, The Endocrine Society, and the Society of Nuclear Medicine

The recent nuclear reactor accident in Japan due to the earthquake and tsunami has raised fears of radiation exposure to populations in North America from the potential plume of radioactivity crossing the Pacific Ocean. The principal radiation source of concern is radioactive iodine including iodine-131, a radioactive isotope that presents a special risk to health because iodine is concentrated in the thyroid gland and exposure of the thyroid to high levels of radioactive iodine may lead to development of thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer years later. During the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident in 1986, people in the surrounding region were exposed to radioactive iodine principally from intake of food and milk from contaminated farmlands. As demonstrated by the Chernobyl experience, pregnant women, fetuses, infants and children are at the highest risk for developing thyroid cancer whereas adults over age 20 are at negligible risk.

Radioiodine uptake by the thyroid can be blocked by taking potassium iodide (KI) pills or solution, most importantly in these sensitive populations. However, KI should not be taken in the absence of a clear risk of exposure to a potentially dangerous level of radioactive iodine because potassium iodide can cause allergic reactions, skin rashes, salivary gland inflammation, hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism in a small percentage of people. Since radioactive iodine decays rapidly, current estimates indicate there will not be a hazardous level of radiation reaching the United States from this accident. When an exposure does warrant KI to be taken, it should be taken as directed by physicians or public health authorities until the risk for significant exposure to radioactive iodine dissipates, but probably for no more than 1-2 weeks. With radiation accidents, the greatest risk is to populations close to the radiation source. While some radiation may be detected in the United States and its territories in the Pacific as a result of this accident, current estimates indicate that radiation amounts will be little above baseline atmospheric levels and will not be harmful to the thyroid gland or general health.

We discourage individuals needlessly purchasing or hoarding of KI in the United States. Moreover, since there is not a radiation emergency in the United States or its territories, we do not support the ingestion of KI prophylaxis at this time. Our professional societies will continue to monitor potential risks to health from this accident and will issue amended advisories as warranted.
______________________________________________________________________
For additional information, please contact Stephanie Kutler, Director of Government and Public Affairs, at skutler@endo-society.org.

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