Texas officials charged with protecting the environment and public health have for years made arbitrary subtractions to the measured levels of radiation delivered by water utilities across the state, according to a series of investigative reports out of Houston.
Those subtractions, based on the test results’ margin of error, made all the difference for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ): without the reduction, demonstrated levels of dangerous radiation would have been in excess of federal limits for years.
This was being done in direct contravention of an order by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which told state regulators in 2000 to stop subtracting the margin of error.
The findings are part of an investigation by Houston CBS affiliate KHOU.
Confronted by reporter Mark Greenblatt, TCEQ staffer Linda Brookins claimed that the radiation was “natural” and people shouldn’t be concerned. She also refused to read on camera the EPA’s order to stop subtracting margins of error from radiation test results.
KHOU called it “Texas math,” in part two of its ongoing series.
Thanks to the TCEQ’s under-reporting of radioactive content, one particular water provider in Harris County was able to skirt needed maintenance for years, even though uncensored tests showed radiation was almost always above legal limits.
Independent tests, the station noted, showed that some of the radiation contained harmful alpha particles, which can cause cell mutations and increase the risk of cancer.