ToC | Part I | Part II

Nuclear Technology:
The Inappropriate Exercise of Human Intelligence

-- and Given This, What Is Appropriate?
by dave ratcliffe


  1. The Fortune 500 listing in all its self-congratulatory details:

  2. Fortune Global 500, The World's Largest Corporations

  3. definition of "corpses" in Ending Corporate Governance, We The People Revoking Our Plutocracy

  4. The World Bank and Ozone Destruction

  5. The World Bank Home Page

  6. World Bank Energy -- See especially the Publications section

  7. Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1986, pp. 510-511.

  8. Jim Falk, "In The Name Of World Peace, Atomic Tests In Both Hemispheres," Poison Fire, Sacred Earth, TESTIMONIES, LECTURES, CONCLUSIONS, THE WORLD URANIUM HEARING, SALZBURG 1992, p. 164

  9. Peter Bossew, "The True Price of Nuclear Power, The Economic, Environmental and Social Impacts of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle," Poison Fire, Sacred Earth, pp. 88-93.

  10. Dr. Gordon Edwards, "Known Facts and Hidden Dangers of Uranium Mining" Poison Fire, Sacred Earth, p. 19-20

              Hidden dangers: When we extract uranium from the ground, we dig up the rock, we crush it and we leave behind this finely pulverized -- it's like flour. In Canada, we have 200 million tons of this radioactive waste. 85 percent of the radioactivity is in that crushed rock. How long will it be there?
              Well, it turns out that the effective half-life of this radioactivity is 80,000 years. So it means in 80,000 years, there will be half as much radioactivity in these tailings as now. You know, that dwarfs the entire prehistory of the Salzburg region which goes way back to ancient, ancient times. Even archeological remains -- 80,000 years. We don't have any records of human existence going back that far. That's the half-life of this material. And as these tailings are left on the surface of the earth, they blow in the wind, they wash in the rain into the water systems, and they inevitably spread. Once the mining companies close down, who is going to look after this material forever? How do you in fact guard 200 million tons of radioactive sand safely forever?

  11. For an immensely informative and detailed lay-person's "primer" on Nuclear Radiation and its Biological Effects, see Rosalie Bertell, NO IMMEDIATE DANGER, Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth, The Book Publishing Company -- Summertown, Tennessee, 1985, "Part One, The Problem", pp. 15-63.

  12. Ulrike Fink, "The Nuclear Guardianship, Concept for a Radioactive Future," Poison Fire, Sacred Earth, pp. 135-138.

  13. "Chernobyl becomes science lab without help funds," Reuter, Tuesday, November 28, 1995.

  14. "30 million still at risk from Chernobyl," Reuter, Thursday, March 21, 1996.

  15. "Kiev says Chernobyl repair leaves danger unchecked," Reuter, Wednesday, February 14, 1996.

  16. "Deformities Found At Chernobyl," Reuter, Tuesday, March 26, 1996.

  17. "Belarus puts $265 billion price tag on Chernobyl disaster," Reuter, Tuesday, February 13, 1996

  18. Yuri M. Shcherbak, "Ten Years of the Chornobyl Era, Confronting the Nuclear Legacy -- Part 1," Scientific American, April 1996, pp. 44-49.

  19. Sustainable/renewable energy technologies have come a long way in the past 20 years. The following resources provide an inkling of just how biospheric sustaining and economically competitive these fundamentally de-centralizing by definition alternative energy technologies currently are:

  20. For a still relatively unknown but portentous new initiative to rid the world of all nuclear bombs, see Kevin Sanders, "Abolition Panel Will Stop At Nothing", WAR & PEACE DIGEST, April/May 1996, Vol. 4, No.1, pp. 1-2.

  21. The following, written more than ten years ago, describes some of the basic facts underlying the Price-Anderson Act as it stood in 1985:

    While the uninformed citizen was slowly and trustingly learning to live with the `peaceful atom', the more realistic insurance industry, lacking actuarial data, was refusing to insure it. In the USA the clause `not covered in the event of radioactive contamination' was written into all property insurance policies. In order to protect the desired new industry, the US Senate enacted the Price-Anderson Act in 1957 to provide insurance for nuclear industries for ten years. The hope was that ordinary insurance mechanisms would be able to take responsibility for insurance at that point, as is the custom in all high-risk ventures. (The entire transcript of senate deliberations on the 1975 extension of the Price-Anderson Act is reproduced in vol 3, no. 1 of The Advocate, 160 Chace Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island 02906. The historical perspective on this nuclear subsidy is given in the same issue, by Doug Wilson, former Washington correspondent of the Providence Journal. R. I. Senator John Pastore served on the US Joint Atomic Energy Commission as Vice-Chairman, and later Chairman. It was he who `managed' the Price-Anderson victory.)
              However, the Price-Anderson Act had to be extended and amended in 1965, 1966 and 1975 [and 1988 --ratitor]. The present nuclear insurance policy in the USA, at tax payer expense, extends to 1 August 1987, assuring thirty years of federal insurance for the commercial industry.
              Under the law, public recovery of damage from nuclear electricity companies is limited to $560 million and recovery from the nuclear manufacturing industry is altogether prohibited. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates that a major nuclear accident would cost around $15 billion or more. Others have estimated damage at $17 billion to $280 billion from the `maximum credible accident'. Assuming a low-cost $14 billion accident, the victims would receive 4 cents on each dollar actually lost. Besides its financial inadequacy, the philosophy behind the Price-Anderson subsidy is seen by many as directly opposed to the free-enterprise system. Price-Anderson is a good indicator of how much the commercial nuclear industry is desired by the US government, and how much it is protected from the usual market-place demands.
              Electricity companies operating nuclear power plants can purchase insurance from `insurance pools': Mutual Atomic Energy Liability Underwriters for liability, and American Nuclear Insurers for property coverage. No other home, automobile, property or business owner can be insured against nuclear accidents. . . .
              Meanwhile, the myth of cheap atomic generation of electricity was perpetuated. The hidden subsidies provided by governments were never included in the cost.

    "Insuring the Uninsurable", No Immediate Danger, Bertell, pp.244-245.

  22. Edwards, p. 20

  23. Stewart Udall, THE MYTHS OF AUGUST, A Personal Exploration of our Tragic Cold War Affair with the Atom, Pantheon Books, 1994, pp. 21-22.

  24. For meticulously documented sources of radiation injuries knowingly inflicted upon humans in the U.S. see KILLING OUR OWN, Chronicling the Disaster of America's Experience with Atomic Radiation, 1945-1982, by Harvey Wasserman & Norman Solomon with Robert Alvarez & Eleanor Walters, 1982 --
    -- for law suits brought against the U.S. federal government see Chapters

  25. Udall articulates a chronology that -- in spite of efforts by Joseph W. Grew, Ralph Bard, and John McCloy to end the war with Japan before the atomic bomb had been proven in the Trinity test in July (and that such an end to the war was a very real possibility in May and June) -- reveals the nature of how a single individual's personal perception of reality can result in the world-shattering effect Stimson's direction of the Manhattan Project's conclusion after the death of FDR had.

              Available facts do not allow us to fix the precise date when Secretary Stimson decided to act as a de facto commander-in-chief and to execute his plan to use the atomic bombs as a "MasterCard" to end the war. Stimson would have been the last person in Washington to encroach on the prerogatives of a president, so we know with certainty that his "command decision" was made sometime between the death of President Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, and the meeting he had with Harry Truman on April 25 to tell the new president the secrets about the success of the Manhattan Project.
              Many entries in his diary help us to understand Stimson's acts and thought processes after Roosevelt's death. With FDR gone and a new president in the White House who knew absolutely nothing about this supersecret project, Stimson's authority as the surviving supervisor was paramount, and he apparently decided it was his duty to make the final decisions about the deployment and use of the new weapon.
              The upshot of this fateful decision was an obsession that influenced Secretary Stimson to personalize atomic issues and to dishonor the ethical principles he had long championed. Soon thereafter, he made a reference in his diary to "my secret," and it seems clear that, in his mind, the atomic weapons became "my bombs" and the plan to use the two bombs to destroy Japanese cities became the Stimson plan. . . .
              When one studies Stimson's conduct in the spring of 1945, the overarching question that recurs again and again is: What influenced this magnanimous man to be so stubborn in his opposition to peace negotiations? The explanation, I am convinced, can be found in his obsession with his secret weapon as a war-ending deus ex machina. To understand Stimson's behavior, one must understand that his behavior was guided by the premise that the way to end the war was to "lay the atomic bomb on Japan" and then negotiate.

    Later in his narrative, Udall goes on to describe what can happen when a man of 77 years with "impeccable credentials" is the only `source', of how his statements become "facts" -- the catch-22 that can occur when only one person knows "the facts":

              The myth that administrators such as Ralph Bard and Dr. Vannevar Bush and scientists such as Oppenheimer, Compton, Fermi, and Lawrence were decision makers who helped guide the bombers to Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not only inaccurate, it places an unfair burden on these men. Henry L. Stimson was the author of this fable. He was the first member of the [Interim] committee to publish a memoir about the climactic events that launched the unveiling of the atomic age, and since all of the pertinent documents were official secrets, Stimson's account of what happened established a baseline of "facts" that historians and journalists could not question.

    Udall, pp. 73, 75,75, 102-103

  26. Dr. John Gofman, What Is Factually Wrong with This Belief: "Harm from Low-Dose Radiation Is Just Hypothetical --- Not Proven, The Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, Fall, 1995.

  27. Dr. John Gofman, Radiation-Induced Cancer, from Low-Dose Exposure: An Independent Analysis, The Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, 1990

  28. "Gofman on the health effects of radiation: `There is no safe threshold'", synapse, University of California San Francisco, Volume 38, Number 16 , January 20, 1994 Number 16 , January 20, 1994
    For the "nine studies of cancer being produced where we're dealing with up to maybe eight or 10 tracks per cell" see Part 1, "The Nine Human Epidemiological Studies Used in Chapter 18" from Chapter 21, "Decisive Epidemiological Evidence from Humans" of Radiation-Induced Cancer, from Low-Dose Exposure

  29. John W. Gofman and Egan O'Connor, The Law of Concentrated Benefit over Diffuse Injury, November 1993:

  30. Ibid

  31. Dr. Jay M. Gould, "Chernobyl and the Collapse of Soviet Society" -- we are pleased to be able to provide the original complete essay before being edited and then published in The Nation, March 15, 1993.

  32. Dr. Jay M. Gould, Benjamin A. Goldman, Deadly Deceit: Low-Level Radiation High Level Cover-Up, Four Wall Eight Windows, New York, 1991, Chapter 7

  33. Richard S. Norris, Thomas Cochran, William Arkin, Known U.S. Nuclear Tests, July 1945 to December 1987, Washington DC: National Resources Defense Counce, 1988; Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Handbook, Vol IV, New York, NY; Harper and Row, 1989, p. 373; Dr. Jay M. Gould, Benjamin A. Goldman, Deadly Deceit: Low-Level Radiation High Level Cover-Up, Four Wall Eight Windows, New York, 1991, p. 96.

  34. Shcherbak, p. 47

  35. Vladimir M. Chernousenko, Chernobyl, Insight From the Inside, Springer-Verlag, 1991.

  36. Ibid, p. 9

  37. Bertell, p. 30.

  38. "Christopher offers new aid to Chernobyl victims," Reuter, Tuesday, March 19, 1996.

  39. Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency, ARTICLE III Functions, 23 October 1956


  41. Peter Weish, "The International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO)," Poison Fire, Sacred Earth, p. 282.


  43. Vladimir Chernousenko Testimony, Poison Fire, Sacred Earth, pp. 22-23.

  44. See the following two papers:
    1. John W. Gofman and Arthur R. Tamplin, "Low Dose Radiation and Cancer," paper presented October 29, 1969 at the IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium, San Francisco. In IEEE Transactions On Nuclear Science Vol.NS-17, No.1: 1-9 February 1970. (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, New York City.) 1969.
    2. John W. Gofman and Arthur R. Tamplin, "Epidemiologic Studies of Carcinogenesis by Ionizing Radiation," in Proceedings Of The Sixth Berkeley Symposium On Mathematical Statistics And Probability: 235-277. (University of California Press, Berkeley, California 94720.) 1971.
    These two papers concluded overall that human exposure to ionizing radiation was much more serious than previously recognized or acknowledged. See also Nuclear Witnesses, Chapter 4, John W. Gofman, Medical Physicist (, W W Norton & Company, 1981.

  45. Daniel F. Ford and Henry W. Kendall, Assessment of the Emergency Core Cooling Systems Rulemaking Hearings, San Francisco: Friends of the Earth/Union of Concerned Scientists, 1974.
    Union of Concerned Scientist members Ford and Kendall demonstrated that the AEC didn't know whether the Emergency Core Cooling System would ever work or not. The Emergency Core Cooling System was the last barrier of safety in a major nuclear accident.

  46. The campaign of the late 1980s and early 1990s to adopt BRC was yet another ploy by nuclear interests to find ways of declaring massive amounts of low-level nuclear wastes to be "below regulatory concern" so they would be able to dump same into ordinary municipal landfills and incinerators thus absolving nuclear industry of the expensive requirements for handling large portions of radioactive wastes. The Environmental "Protection" Agency and NRC worked in concert to make this new form of "linguistic detoxification" a reality. See Rachel's Hazardous Waste News #147, "Mr. Reilly's EPA Develops Strategy For Solving Nation's Waste Problems: Full-Scale Linguistic Detoxification".

  47. The Plowboy Interview: Dr. John W. Gofman, Nuclear And Antinuclear Scientist, The Mother Earth News, March/April 1981.

  48. Rhodes, pp. 497-498

  49. quoted in Killing Our Own, by Wasserman, Solomon, Alvarez and Walters, pp. 207-208:
              Nuclear reactors had been in use in the U.S. since the early 1940s. chief function had been to generate plutonium for use on Nagasaki, and in later tests. But as a by-product these reactors also generated large quantities of heat. By harnessing this heat to boil water, steam would be created to turn turbines and generate electricity. Given the apparently infinite power of the atom, there seemed no reason why nuclear electricity could not also be infinitely inexpensive, or--as its supporters would later put it--"too cheap to meter." A new industry had been born.
              But America's private utilities were skeptical. With a few exceptions its generally conservative executives were worried about the dangers of a nuclear accident and the risks of sinking so much capital into an untested technology. It was only with government-insurance guarantees, fuel subsidies, and lavish research-and-development help that commercial atomic power moved ahead. Even at that, private utilities did not become heavily involved until faced with the threat of being squeezed out of business by federal competition in the form of the Tennessee Valley Authority and other government-owned utilities. To this day TVA remains the nation's single largest reactor buyer. As Sam Day, former editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, told us: "The private electric companies did not jump into nuclear power. They were kicked in."3

    1. Sam Day, interview, June 1981. See also, Irwin Bupp and Jean-Claude Derian, Light Water (New York: Basic Books, 1978), p. 35.

  50. Gerard H. Clarfield and William M. Wiecek, Nuclear America, Military and Civilian Nuclear Power in the United States, 1940-1980, 1984, p. 184

  51. Bertell, p. 199

  52. Ibid, pp. 186-187

  53. Ibid, pp. 235, 238-239

  54. Killing Our Own, p. 53.

    Within the secret councils of government, there was opposition to development of the H-bomb. But, tragically, the deliberations were nonetheless conducted in the same manner as everything else had been since the inception of the Manhattan Project -- without public debate or scrutiny. The preceding paragraphs to the one quoted above provide more background on the debate that did occur regarding the deeper moral issues of going ahead with creation of the hydrogen bomb:

              Albert Einstein was among those in 1950 who viewed current events with trepidation. Within the U.S. he warned of "concentration of tremendous financial power in the hands of the military, militarization of the youth, close supervision of the loyalty of the citizens, in particular, of the civil servants by a police force growing more conspicuous every day. Intimidation of people of independent political thinking. Indoctrination of the public by radio, press, school. Growing restriction of the range of public information under the pressure of military secrecy."[143]
              It was in this atmosphere that deliberations over whether to proceed with H-bomb research reached their climax. That secretive process is important to understand "because it is one of the relatively few cases where those who explicitly tried to moderate the nuclear arms race came within shouting distance of doing so," according to Herbert York, the first director of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory where much of the hydrogen bomb R and D subsequently took place. Behind the scenes there was, in York's words, "a brief, intense, highly secret debate."[144]
              Under federal law a key source of recommendations for the Atomic Energy Commission was its General Advisory Committee. Called upon by the AEC to take up the question of prospective H-bomb development, the Advisory Committee--chaired by J. Robert Oppenheimer and including such luminaries of nuclear physics as Enrico Fermi and I. I. Rabi--met in late October 1949. While urging continued efforts to magnify the power of atomic weaponry, the Advisory Committee urged that the United States not plunge ahead with developing the H-bomb, also known as the "super bomb."[145]
              The panel presented arguments in terms of military strategies, technical aspects, and optimum use of present nuclear resources, concluding that the H-bomb was not needed for U.S. national security. The report also depicted the H-bomb choice as a profound moral issue: "It is clear that the use of this weapon would bring about the destruction of innumerable human lives; it is not a weapon which can be used exclusively for the destruction of material installations of military or semi-military purposes. Its use therefore carries much further than the atomic bomb itself the policy of exterminating civilian populations."[146]
              An addendum to the Advisory Committee report, written by James B. Conant--later president of Harvard University--and signed by five other committee members including Oppenheimer, underscored the moral moment of the H-bomb decision: "Let it be clearly realized that this is a super weapon; it is in a totally different category from an atomic bomb. . . . Its use would involve a decision to slaughter a vast number of civilians. We are alarmed as to the possible global effects of the radioactivity generated by the explosion of a few super bombs of conceivable magnitude. If super bombs will work at all, there is no inherent limit on the destructive power that may be attained with them. Therefore, a super bomb might become a weapon of genocide."[147]
              These and other anti-H-bomb scientists were in effect muzzled from openly expressing their viewpoints at critical junctures, held back by security-clearance status. Thus in the crucial months before Truman proclaimed his decision on H-bomb development, the public was allowed little information about a decision that could potentially result in millions of deaths and change the course of human history.
              In top-secret circles the debate was fierce. Senator Brien McMahon, chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, confided in Edward Teller that the anti-H-bomb Advisory Committee report "just makes me sick."[148] For their part McMahon and a constellation of atomic scientists, including Teller and University of California Radiation Laboratory director Ernest Lawrence, were determined to bring about development of the H-bomb as soon as possible, believing it to be the best possible response to Soviet possession of the atom bomb.[149]
    1. The H Bomb, (New York: Didier, 1950), pp. 13-14.
    2. Herbert York, The Advisors: Oppenheimer, Teller, and the Superbomb (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Co., 1976), pp. ix, 2.
    3. Ibid., pp. 150-159.
    4. Ibid., p. 155.
    5. Ibid., pp. 156-157.
    6. Ibid., p. 60.
    7. Ibid., p. 45.

  55. Dr. Anna Ledkova Testimony, Poison Fire, Sacred Earth, pp. 231.

  56. Dr. John Gofman, Radiation-Induced Cancer, from Low-Dose Exposure: An Independent Analysis,, The Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, 1990, Chapters 4-17.
    At present, chapters 4 -- providing an "Overview of a Uniquely Valuable Database" -- and 5 -- introducing the scope of "A Growing Problem: Retroactive Alteration of the Study" -- are available on-line at:

  57. See "Curriculum Vitae of Dr. John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D." and John Gofman, 1992 recipient of the Right Livelihood Award for more details on Gofman's credentials and background.

  58. The Plowboy Interview: Dr. John W. Gofman

  59. John Gofman, Bio-Medical "Un-Knowledge" And Nuclear Pollution: A Common-Sense Proposal, on the occasion of the Right Livelihood Award, Stockholm, December 9, 1992, Section 4, Some Basic Rules of Believable Bio-Medical Research

  60. Ibid, Section 5, Some Examples of Rule-Breaking in Radiation Research

  61. Dr. John Gofman, Radiation-Induced Cancer, from Low-Dose Exposure: An Independent Analysis,, The Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, 1990, Chapter 24, "Chernobyl: A Crossroad in the Radiation Health Sciences"

  62. Ibid, p. 24-3

  63. Gofman, Bio-Medical "Un-Knowledge" And Nuclear Pollution: A Common-Sense Proposal, Section 6, Achieving the Height of Foolishness

  64. Ibid, Section 7, The Nature of One Common-Sense Proposal

  65. See Dr. John Gofman's Seven Comments on Proposed Radiation "Standards" for the Yucca Mountain Rad-Waste Repository: October 26, 1995 addressed to the EPA's Radioactive Waste Management Branch in the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air. This paper provides a useful independent analysis of the "Technical Bases for Yucca Mountain Standards," a 1995 report from the National Research Council's Board on Radioactive Waste Management, Committee on Technical Bases for Yucca Mountain Standards. "Repository" means the proposed Yucca Mountain burial site for radioactive waste.

  66. Testimony of Prof. Ryspek A. Ibraev, Poison Fire, Sacred Earth, p. 141

  67. Ibid, p. 143

  68. For a selection of materials providing more background on this, see articles from the Spring 1992 issue of Nuclear Guardianship Forum

  69. Joanna Macy, "Nuclear Guardianship, The Search for New Perspectives," Poison Fire, Sacred Earth, pp. 257-258

  70. Ibid, p. 258

  71. The following groups are some of those exploring possible practices of Nuclear Guardianship:

  72. Dr. Bill Keepin, "Beyond Nukes, The Promise of Renewable Energy," Poison Fire, Sacred Earth, p. 39

  73. Ibid, p. 40

  74. For an entry point, see the information resource Ending Corporate Governance, We The People Revoking Our Plutocracy

  75. Elisabet Sahtouris, EARTHDANCE: Living Systems in Evolution, 1995, Chapter 1

  76. R. Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path, 1981, p. xxxviii.
    Bucky's example of living his life to the fullest, in service to humanity, as a "comprehensivist" and a "generalist" was the supreme exercise of intelligence in the face of the twilight of the age of specialization and its inherently limiting nature:

              Each year I receive and answer many hundreds of unsolicited letters from youth anxious to know what the little individual can do. One such letter from a young man named Michael -- who is ten years old -- asks whether I am a "doer or a thinker." Although I never "tell" anyone what to do, I feel it quite relevant to this point to quote my letter to him explaining what I have been trying to do in the years since my adoption of my 1927-inaugurated self-disciplinary resolves. The letter, dated February 16, 1970, reads:

    Dear Michael,
              Thank you very much for your recent letter concerning "thinkers and doers."
              The things to do are: the things that need doing: that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done -- that no one else has told you to do or how to do it. This will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed by others on the individual.
              Try making experiments of anything you conceive and are intensely interested in. Don't be disappointed if something doesn't work. That is what you want to know -- the truth about everything -- and then the truth about combinations of things. Some combinations have such logic and integrity that they can work coherently despite non-working elements embraced by their system.
              Whenever you come to a word with which you are not familiar, find it in the dictionary and write a sentence which uses that new word. Words are tools -- and once you have learned how to use a tool you will never forget it. Just looking for the meaning of the word is not enough. If your vocabulary is comprehensive, you can comprehend both fine and large patterns of experience.
              You have what is most important in life -- initiative. Because of it, you wrote to me. I am answering to the best of my capability. You will find the world responding to your earnest initiative.

    Sincerly yours,                        

    Buckminster Fuller                

This document is a publication of

rat haus reality press
Copyright © 1996
276 West Street
Biddeford, ME 04005

and permanently resides at

Permission to reprint this essay is hereby granted
provided you apply proper attribution to
rat haus reality, ratical branch:
If you use our material, please send us a copy of your work.

ToC | Part I | Part II

back to radiation | rat haus | Index | Search | tree