Despite reports of a “radiation alert” from an Arizona-based private group that bills itself as a nuclear emergency organization, federal officials are saying no evidence of any such radiation spike in Mattituck in the past week exists.
Representatives for multiple national and state oversight organizations said they have never heard of the group that supposedly issued the alert.
“It is not a government source,” said Elias Rodriguez, a spokesman with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “We don’t have any validated data that would indicate a cause for concern.”
The alert, issued by the private group the Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center and spread by the Turner Radio Network — a blog that has previously posted about alleged government conspiracies and hyperbolic warnings about radiation from the Fukushima disaster — states that background radiation levels” spiked 156 times higher than normal” in Mattituck on Friday, but quickly returned to normal.
A press release from the Turner Radio Network — which has no affiliation with Turner Broadcasting — claims that on Sunday, radiation levels “spiked again to 75 times higher than normal” and allegedly remained higher than normal on Tuesday.
Data from the NETC, which is not affiliated with any government agency, is not publicly available; members on the site must pay a $20 yearly fee to see the charts that lead to the alert. The NETC also advertises selling $199 Geiger counter kits to residents to become part of the network of sites, according to a post on the wesite’s forum.
The Turner Radio Network was previously owned by Hal Turner, an inflammatory New Jersey-based radio host who was convicted in August 2010 of making threats against three federal judges on his radio show.
A disclaimer posted prominently on the Turner Radio Network site states that Mr. Turner no longer has any connection with the site, as per a federal court order.
Town Supervisor Scott Russell said the town first received a phone call from a Wisconsin man warning them about the alert on Tuesday. Wednesday morning brought roughly a half-dozen more phone calls from concerned residents as the “alert” spread on social media.
“We’re still trying to gather all the information we can,” he told The Suffolk Times, adding that the town is in contact with Congressman Tim Bishop’s office to expedite the process of debunking the claim.
Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley said the police department is in contact with Suffolk County police regarding the report as well.
“I have not heard anything regarding this statement, nor am I familiar with this organization,” he said. “Obviously there are a lot of factors that could cause radiation levels to vary in our environment, but I am not sure where or what levels they are referring to.”
Neil Sheehan, a representative with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said he’s unfamiliar with the group that issued the alert.
“Never heard of it,” he said. “We’re not aware of any incidents at any of the nuclear power plants that could be a source of that [supposed radiation].”
Mr. Sheehan said that since the Fukushima meltdown, often-false reports of increased radiation levels, especially on the West Coast, have been spread.
“There’s a lot of misinformation that gets put out there,” he said. “There are some very good citizens’ groups out there that monitor radiation levels, but they always have to make sure their radiation equipment is properly calibrated, and that it’s being properly checked, that the data has been validated.”
A disclaimer on the NETC web site states: “Some radiation monitoring sites are maintained by the government and other [sic] are privately owned. In either case the reading may not be accurate.” An email to the organization was not immediately returned.