Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Value of a Life

To the Editor [of the New York Times]: Your article about the value of human life that federal agencies use in cost-benefit analyses reported that the Office of Management and Budget “recently warned agencies that it would be difficult to justify the use of numbers under $5 million” (“A Life’s Value? It May Depend on the Agency,” front page, Feb. 17). Someone should tell the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The N.R.C. has been using the same value — $3 million — since 1995. If the agency were to increase that value to the $5 million to $9 million per life that other agencies use, it would have a major effect on nuclear plant license renewals and new reactor approvals. Plant owners would have to add safety features that the N.R.C. now considers too expensive because it lowballs the value of the lives that could be saved. N.R.C. calculations need to be brought in line with those of other agencies. Edwin Lyman Senior Scientist Union of Concerned Scientists Washington, Feb. 17, 2011

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