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    1. My favorite part of this article is the concern over worker safety. Its laughable that they compare the dose received here to the dose received on the Hanford site…….like commercial power and DOE clean up sites are one in the same.

      1. We have gone 1000+ days without a lost time accident
      2. We have gone 250+ days without a OSHA recordable accident (and that was a muscle strain where a doctor prescribed 800mg ibuprofen pills…….yes, the same amount as 4 Advil)

      All this as we are in the midst of a 514 day continuous run since our last outage.

  1. Thanks for the excellent expose how the witch hunt against radiation and nuclear energy was started.

  2. The report from the Genetics Committee of the National Academy of Sciences’s first biological effects of radiation committee was pure gold from the point of view of those who wanted to scare people …

    @Rod Adams

    I’m curious if you could talk about Lewis Strauss’ involvement in this work (as Chairman of AEC at the time). It is my understanding, based on documents that you provided elsewhere (NYT “Science Group’s Statement”) that Strauss and AEC were involved in early stages, and throughout, in setting up this committee, selecting NAS, financing, etc. Perhaps you can include a link to that document here as well (since it seems relevant to this concern). In that article is the following:

    “The National Academy of Sciences was considered by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Atomic Energy Commission to be ideally qualified to study and report on these problems which are of widespread public interest and concern” …

    From Chairman Strauss (of AEC): “From this study should come the necessary facts to clarify opinions in this important field of effects of radiation on human beings and their environments. No more timely service to the world’s people could be performed by American scholarship. The commission will cooperate fully by providing information and consultation as desired by the independent scientists making the study.”

    The article from the NYT above is a bit alarmists (but the press often provides alarmists reports of one sort or another). This is not breaking news. I would be interested to know if there is a study or general assessment of “public attitudes” about radiation and health risks at the time (particularly with respect to fallout from weapons testing) and whether the work of the Committee (clarifying opinions and being of timely service in the words of Strauss) served to exacerbate these uncertainties and fears or mollify them (with better information, and the best fact based research and independent investigation from scientist at time, as described by Strauss)? It seems unlikely to me that the Committee was founded on an anti-nuclear agenda (given significant involvement from AEC and Strauss, and other important efforts, as you describe, to advance an Atoms for Peace program, and coordination of these efforts at many levels of Government and industry). With radiation emerging as an important public issue and concern, it seems to me that the work of the Committee was necessary work and “timely” in addressing these issues (and helping advance the cause of nuclear when used in a safe manner and with adequate protections). At least one member, Strauss, saw it that way (if his public comments are to be taken at face value on the matter).

    1. @EL

      Strauss and other members of the Atomic Energy Commission were also motivated to instill a certain amount of radiation fear into the population. They had several reasons for doing so.

      1. Deterrent weapons — still their primary product — work best when people so fear their use that they cower when negotiators rattle their “swords.”

      2. Belief that all radiation is dangerous, even when doses are maintained so far below a danger threshold that they may be considered to be “below regulatory concern” had the potential to put the AEC on a personnel and budget reduction path. If you know anything about bureaucracies, you will understand why there was not too much disagreement from the AEC upon the issuance of the NAS Genetics Committee report.

      3. Most of the companies that were already in the nuclear business were already in the “raising barriers to entry” mode of operation. In fact, since most of them were already very large and well established companies when they entered the field, they were quite interested in keeping atomic energy special and mysterious in order to keep prices and profits as high as possible.

      I hope you remember that I am a failed businessman. I’m not very good at taking advantage of regulations to hamstring my competitors or in finding subtle ways to increase prices so that there is a larger margin on sales. I never figured out how to establish exclusive sales relationships or how to cooperate with other companies selling similar products. That’s why I decided I needed to move into the information business rather than attempting to stay in a product or commodity business.

      1. Strauss … had several reasons for doing so.

        @Rod Adams

        From 1950 – 1953 (before returning to the AEC as Chairman), Lewis Strauss served as financial advisor to the Rockefeller brothers and board member of Rockefeller Center, Inc.

        http://mises.org/library/rockefeller-morgan-and-war

        A more plain reading is that he had an interest in scientific and technological advancements, and the death of his parents from cancer led to an early interest of his in the atom and development of a surge generator to produce medical isotopes for cancer treatment (which he funded). His interests would have been aligned with Rockefellers on this basis (who also heavily favored science and medical research in this newly established and important field of research). Perhaps on issues related to national defense as well.

        A less plain reading is that his involvement with the Rockefellers co-opted him, and our sense of him as a major figure in the advancement of nuclear power is a carefully constructed myth (concealing hidden and ulterior motives). The findings of BEAR, circumspect and cautious as they were, were informed by bias and were more than just findings (or the best available assessment of the state of knowledge at the time and fully consistent with other reports on the same from British Medical Research Council, WHO, UNSCEAR, ICRP, and others). Despite the involvement of various stakeholders of the nuclear establishment, such work undermined efforts in nuclear energy (and did much to sow the seeds of panic and doubt that benefited the interests of one family, and held the interests of society and the general public as captive to backroom deals and corruption among some of the most respected and well established scientists at the time … of which Strauss and the AEC was an integral part).

        1. @EL

          I’m not sure where you are going here.

          Though history research is leading me to recognize that the Rockefeller Foundation, which was and is intricately linked to the greatest hydrocarbon based fortune ever amassed (outside of Saudi Arabia, perhaps), played a key role in firmly establishing the “no safe dose” myth, I am not suggesting that the myth only benefitted the interests of Rockefeller family.

          Atomic energy still is a disruptive new technology that threatens a vast array of well established interests who have independently seized on the myth and propagated it widely. From commodity suppliers to transportation system builders to financiers to commercial media, there are numerous fortunes built on the fact that hydrocarbons from certain locations in the earth’s crust provide useful, compact and reasonably clean power to make life better for humans. All of those interests are threatened by allowing the natural rate of market acceptance of a power source that is a million times more compact, substantially cleaner, and more widely available in more locations around the globe.

          One of the “interests” that was threatened with disruption and a potential loss of power was the United States itself. After all, 5 out of the Seven Sisters that dominated the world hydrocarbon industry were American companies. The US was still the world’s largest oil exporter as of the time that the Genetics Committee issued its report.

          Though in 1956, Hubbert informed the oil industry that it would eventually be replaced by atomic energy, the US did not hit its peak in oil production until 1970. The UK was home to the other 2 of the Seven Sisters and was highly dependent on its income from concessions in the Middle East. It was willing to move to replace its shrinking coal reserves, but was also interested in moderating the rate of atomic power introduction and limiting the number of approved players.

          The “no safe dose” myth was not designed to mortally wound atomic energy; it was designed to slow it down and add enough costs so that the hydrocarbon domination as the basis of our economy could be extended longer than it otherwise would last.

          By the way, Strauss was perhaps one of the earliest people to recognize the disruptive qualities of atomic energy; Leo Szilard began talking with him about commercializing atomic energy based on his chain reaction patents in the mid 1930s even before fission had been demonstrated. (That tidbit came out of a Szilard biography.)

          1. “The “no safe dose” myth was not designed to mortally wound atomic energy; it was designed to slow it down and add enough costs so that the hydrocarbon domination as the basis of our economy could be extended longer than it otherwise would last.”

            To that, I think we would have to say: Mission Accomplished

          2. I’m not sure where you are going here.

            @Rod Adams

            You don’t think it’s “suspicious” that Lewis Strauss had such close, long lasting, and personal ties with the Rockefellers? It’s a bit different from receiving occasional research funding as a University based researcher from a large and highly diversified foundation (independently administered), and being the personal banker and financier to the two principles of the family (who you are asserting promote their own self-interest over service to society, medicine, and more) and who had a direct role in many of their key activities, funding initiatives, and foundations (principle Director of Governing Board of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, President for Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, financial director American Jewish Committee, Board Member Rockefeller Inc., and more). He’s not sitting on the sidelines, this much we know (for his advocacy for nuclear power, or anything else).

            Supporting your thesis of conspiracy, some have identified Lewis Strauss as a key and influential member of the “Rockefeller Syndicate”:

            Other Rockefeller Foundation spin-offs include the influential Washington think-tank, the Brookings Institution, the National Bureau of Economic Research, whose findings play a critical role in manipulating the stock market; the Public Administration Clearing House, which indoctrinates the nation’s municipal employees; the Council of State Governments, which controls the nation’s state legislatures; and the Institute of Pacific Relations, the most notorious Communist front in the United States. The Rockefellers appeared as directors of this group, funneling money to it through their financial advisor, Lewis Lichtenstein Strauss, of Kuhn, Loeb Company.

            And the song of conspiracy reverberates even deeper. With financial interests in oil, mining, railroads, aluminum, copper, diamonds, and more, Kuhn, Loeb & Co. (of which Strauss was a a full partner) has close ties to Rothschild family and Standard Oil Group. If NAS received Rockefeller funds, it was most likely because Lewis Strauss gave it to them (or as we clearly know, was carefully consulted and involved in the matter). If a case can be made that anybody is working for the Rockefellers (with deep personal knowledge and familiarity with their interests, membership on many of their Boards, significant involvement and oversight of their funding efforts on cancer treatment and experimental biology and genetics) … that would be Lewis Strauss.

            You really don’t know where I am going with this?

            1. @EL

              We have been a loggerheads for so long over this issue that I was a bit surprised that you were making connections that buttressed my arguments.

              Now I see you might have decided that I was not so far off base after all.

          3. Now I see you might have decided that I was not so far off base after all.

            @Rod Adams

            Huh? That’s a very poor reading of my comment.

            You actually believe Lewis Strauss was doing the bidding of the Rockefellers and actively worked to subvert the interests of nuclear power (at the same time he was one of it’s most active promoters)? That’s a very strange and difficult to support view of the history of nuclear power in the US (if you don’t mind my saying).

            My comments were intended to show that your conspiracy thesis doesn’t work (that close affiliation with the Rockefellers does not necessarily imply bias or ulterior motives against the interests of nuclear power, as with Strauss). Somehow, you missed this point (and instead were drawn to a misreading of it). I thought I was being clear. It seems you may not know some of this history. If you’d like to learn more, you can do so here (or any other source that looks at Strauss and the early history of nuclear power in the US).

            1. @EL

              I really wish you would realize that I am not proposing the existence of a “conspiracy.” I am suggesting that wealthy and powerful people whose status depends on industrial civilization remaining dependent on their primary product saw a way to handicap a potentially disruptive competitor and they took concerted, often independent actions to make the burden as heavy as needed to slow down that competitor.

              Strauss was an atomic energy cheerleader — of that there is little doubt — but he was also a long-time member of the atomic establishment that was strongly motivated to maintain the public’s perception of atomic energy as a mysterious, uniquely hazardous force that should be tightly regulated and left to the experts.

              One of the strengths in the campaign to hamstring atomic energy and burden it with uniquely onerous regulations and oversight was that it only required a small amount of exaggeration. Nobody had to actually lie, they just had to express uncertainty and deep concern. They did not have to invent experimental results, they simply extended lines into regions that were not actually tested and then advised the public and the scientific community that that damage they were warning about would not actually be seen because it would be spread out over a very large, diverse population and it might not show up as a defect for several generations.

              There are plenty of people who have benefitted from the “radiation protection” business over the years or who have doubled or tripled their contracting revenues by being required to meet standards that were several orders of magnitude more stringent than necessary to ensure public safety.

              There is a reason why the “no safe dose” myth has lasted longer than I have been alive. Many of the tools I’m using in my research to pull the strings did not exist for the first 50 years after the myth became the official basis for regulations in the United States and around the world.

            2. @EL

              I trust you had a good holiday.

              It is interesting that you chose to point to Professor Balough’s history. It is one of the more marked up books in my library. I was so impressed by the research it contained that I drove up to UVA a few months ago to chat with him about it.

              Like many financially successful people, Lewis Strauss was a complex man who was not always completely transparent about his plans and motives. If you believe that he was incapable of strategizing, concealing bias or being governed by ulterior motives in his decision making, I would suggest that you search through this document to see how he approached the Oppenheimer security clearance hearings.

          4. I really wish you would realize that I am not proposing the existence of a “conspiracy.”

            @Rod Adams.

            It’s a conspiracy to assert that people have hidden motives, and despite what they are actually saying they are actually doing something different (that there is a funding apparatus that supports this, science and public institutions are being organized and financed on this basis and in contrast to their stated missions, and people are fabricating and lying about evidence). Yes, you have previously suggesting lying is involved, and a lot of it (just read any of your statements about Muller).

            Where normal reason gets left behind (and conspiracy takes over) is where regular evidence gets taken out of context and misread to support an underlying thesis or speculation. You claim people are extending “lines into regions that were not actually tested” to hamstring an industry, obtain contracts and make people wealthy in the business of radiation protection, scare the public into thinking radiation is unsafe and promote fear. But this misreads this history, the interests that are served by a precautionary principle (I would claim it’s the “interest of nuclear power”), it’s effect on public attitudes and fears of the time (it likely reduced them), and the science that informs this debate (what is known, what is demonstrated, and uncertainties as they are described and documented and carefully considered and reviewed by the world’s foremost experts at the time). This work did much to pave the way for nuclear expansion (not hamstring it), especially with respect to public concern and worry over atomic bomb and fallout from weapons testing (a specific concern at the time).

            From his biographer, “Muller’s views were complex and often misconstrued … He argued that fallout doses (expect for the largest of the hydrogen bombs used) were too small to be a public health threat.” Similar with diagnostic doses, and similar with Atomic Bomb Casualty results (few mutations would be observed). Strauss said much the same: regarding radiation hazards … “in future years those problems will probably be regarded as no more difficult of solution than were the dangers to persons working around high-pressure, high-temperature steam not so very long ago.” These statements could not be made without coordinated research efforts to examine the issue, a precautionary principle, and without many of the foremost scientists, special interests, engineers, promoters, policy specialists, etc., at the time weighing in and doing so on a credible basis (seen as independent and available to public scrutiny and comment by larger community, skeptical or otherwise, domestic and global, as was the case). What was a virtue for nuclear power at the time (very low risk that could be quantified and adequately managed and perhaps seen in time as no different than working around high-temperature steam) you have turned into a vice (and one with ulterior motives behind it and a ploy by skilled marketers and propagandists working on behalf of some of the most powerful and wealthy industrialists of the day and exploiting an uncritical public who just accepts what it is told).

            This history just doesn’t work. It’s assumptions are all wrong. It supports an underlying thesis that is unsupported, and is betrayed by historical facts. What’s more, it does a disservice to many of the people (Strauss included and others) who were committed to this work, and were passionate and interested in seeing it through (and the hard and difficult labor that was sometimes involved).

            Strauss … was strongly motivated to maintain the public’s perception of atomic energy as a mysterious, uniquely hazardous force that should be tightly regulated and left to the experts.

            Not at all! The opposite actually (according to his biographer).

            He did much to document the real risks of radiation (however small). And he was also passionate defender of the free enterprise system, particularly with respect to nuclear power: “What distinguished him, … particularly among nuclear manufacturers — was his resistance to any form of federal assistance.” He wanted private utilities to “own the oil” (as his biographer describes), and often took positions at odds with the Eisenhower administration (“who felt that nuclear power ‘should be developed without too much concern about the role of private industry'”). This involved broad and far reaching efforts to sell the benefits nuclear power to the public (particularly on matters of national prestige), and also to cajole private industry to make large investments in nuclear technologies (which many at the time were reluctant to do).

            If he was hoping to keep the nuclear industry corralled by regulation around narrow public interests, he was exceedingly bad at it. Especially since most of his efforts worked in conflict to this end. A Rockefeller in his grand vision, perhaps, and success in business … but little in anything else.

            1. @EL

              You are still missing my point. Atomic energy development on the scale proposed and supported by Strauss could only be achieved by the same huge, established companies that already dominated the world energy markets.

              Taking the “precautionary principle” route and layering regulations upon regulations with lengthy licensing processes ensured that creative risk taking entrepreneurs would be kept under wraps and gradually squeezed out of the business entirely.

              You’ve told me I was completely unrealistic in describing my vision of millions of small atomic generators distributed widely around the world, but I believe that is a more natural, risk-informed situation than the one that we have today. Atomic energy can be done safely on a very small scale. If done correctly, it could lead to a real ability for small communities and perhaps even individuals to divorce themselves from dependence on a huge, almost unnoticed “grid” of fuel distribution.

              That vision could have been achieved by now if the “no safe dose” myth had not been created.

            2. @EL

              So call it a conspiracy if that makes you happy, even though there was nothing illegal about the activities and even though businesses often have hidden motives and engage in saying things that are not actually what they are doing. (It’s often called greenwashing.)

              Here is another piece of evidence supporting my thesis that the “no safe dose” myth was one of the key talking points of a well-designed negative marketing campaign against nuclear power as a competitor to established energy interests.

              It is an article from the November 15, 1956 issue of the New York Times.

              Atomic Utilities Called a Hazard
              Rockefeller Heath Expert Says They Exceed H-Tests in Radiation Peril

              Atlantic City, Nov 14 — A warning was issued today that a nuclear power program, even of modest dimensions, might produce “vastly greater” radiation hazards than those in development tests of hydrogen weapons.

              Dr. John C. Bugher, director of medical education and public health for the Rockefeller Foundation, told the eight-fourth annual meeting of the American Public Health Association that the testing of nuclear weapons at the present rate was a minor health hazard. By contrast, he emphasized, an increased nuclear power program could introduce elements of real danger to society.

              Particular concern has been voiced over the possibility that one of the radioactive fall-out materials–the artificially radioactive Strontium 90–might be a hazard for people living today. However, Dr. Bugher said that thus far the amount of Strontium 90 found in the bones of living individuals was one-thousanth of the amount now considered to be “the permissible body burden for industrial purposes.”

              “It seems obvious that the basis for concern for the public health is tenuous as far as the present rate of testing nuclear weapons is concerned,” Dr. Bugher commented. “The same cannot be said for the prospective enormous and rapid expansion of nuclear power. Even a modest nuclear power program will bring into existence vastly greater quantities of radioactive materials than are produced in the development of nuclear weapons.”

              Dr. Bugher, a former director of the division of biology and medicine of the Atomic Energy Commission, made his remarks in an address at a session of the National Citizens Committee for the World Health Organization.

              Nuclear power must be developed in the future, he said, because supplies of conventional fossil fuels will become depleted. The new power installations to be built in the next few decades probably will be nuclear, he noted, and fusion of light elements may be used for power sometime in the future.

              Study of the nature of biological effects of radiation and the means of controlling exposure to the radiation will “become of primary concern to the public health official for the decades that lie ahead,” Dr. Bugher declared.

              Health Hazards Compared

              “Technical ingenuity of the highest order will be required to control these operations so that at no time are dangerous quantities released to the environment,” he said. “Good techniques are already available but continued development will be necessary.”

              Dr. Bugher observed that it was difficult to define a health hazard and to assess what extent of hazard would be acceptable in modern society.

              Automobiles kill about 40,000 persons in the United States each year, one third of them young people, he noted. The loss of an average of forty years of lifetime as a result of each young death, he said, means that the equivalent of 1,600,000 man-years of adult life will be lost each year. This amounts to an average of one one-hundredth of a year for each person in the nation, he calculated.

              Compared with this toll, Dr. Bugher estimated, the worldwide spread of radioactive contamination from nuclear detonations exposes the population to only 1 per cent of the amount of radiation that is an inescapable factor in life on earth–from natural radioactivity in soil, water and air.

              “We have no method sufficiently sensitive to detect the effect of this small amount of radiation upon present or future generations,” he said.

              Long experience in the United States and abroad, he went on, suggests that exposure to one hundred roentgens of Gamma radiation (X-rays) over the whole body would shorten an individual’s life span by half a year to two years.

              There is “appreciable disagreement” concerning the ultimate genetic effects of radiation upon children and grandchildren of those affected, he said, but agreement was general that it should be kept to “the lowest possible amount.”

              (Emphasis added.)

          5. Here is another piece of evidence supporting my thesis that the “no safe dose” myth was one of the key talking points of a well-designed negative marketing campaign against nuclear power as a competitor to established energy interests.

            @Rod Adams

            There are always people who argue on both sides of an issue (and there are usually more than two side to any particular issue). This is not evidence of a coordinated campaign of co-optation or conspiracy (just ordinary public debate and discussion in a country that has free speech, and where there are conflicting issues and concerns). The public is not powerless to accept such opinions, and competing interests are not powerless to organize against them.

            Sure, without adequate protections: “an increased nuclear power program could introduce elements of real danger to society.” This isn’t a remarkable or surprising claim. For someone who believes, as Dr. Bugher indicates, that “nuclear power must be developed in the future,” it even sounds like a prudent one. As he explains further, “controlling exposure to the radiation will ‘become of primary concern to the public health official for the decades that lie ahead’.” I don’t disagree with this claim. I don’t think anybody who is fully supportive of nuclear power disagrees with it either. According to Dr. Bugher, “good techniques” are already available to accomplish this aim, and “continued development” will likely further advance it in the future.

            Despite liberties taken with headline and comments by the journalist here, I’m not sure when offering cautious, deliberative, and informative statements about the future of nuclear power and the role of the public health official necessarily means you are engaged in “key talking points of a well-designed negative marketing campaign against nuclear power as a competitor to the established energy interests.” Given the various takeaways from his talk (risk can be managed, we have the techniques for doing so, we can improve on these techniques in the future) it seems to me that a pretty clear case can be made that his comments suggest entirely the opposite. Not everything is a conspiracy (particularly when viewing things in context, and not misreading statements according to a previously hidden or ulterior motive or view).

            1. @EL

              In light of the below quoted paragraph, I think you are guilty of selective reading.

              “It seems obvious that the basis for concern for the public health is tenuous as far as the present rate of testing nuclear weapons is concerned,” Dr. Bugher commented. “The same cannot be said for the prospective enormous and rapid expansion of nuclear power. Even a modest nuclear power program will bring into existence vastly greater quantities of radioactive materials than are produced in the development of nuclear weapons.”

              Compared to the other issues that confront public health officials, I do not agree that controlling radiation exposures has become a primary concern. In fact, I’d bet that most of them have little or nothing to do with radiation monitoring or protection.

              Dr. Bugher’s talk was a prescription for a cautious, go-it-slow approach that adds costs, reduces benefits, and encourages some extremists to leap to the conclusion that the risks are not worth the effort. I am sure that there were some in the audience whose logical response was along the following lines of reasoning.

              “If doses should be kept as low as possible, why use nuclear power at all, especially since we have such better alternatives as coal, oil and natural gas?” (At the time, there was no thought given to sources like wind and solar, even though their availability was well known.)

          6. Dr. Bugher’s talk … encourages some extremists to leap to the conclusion that the risks are not worth the effort.

            @Rod Adams

            So what do you make of the statement: “Nuclear power must be developed in the future, he said, because supplies of conventional fossil fuels will become depleted.” It seems to me that Dr. Bugher was making a necessary case for nuclear, and one that was accompanied by adequate protections (“already available” and with continued improvement in the future). This isn’t a selective reading (just one not so infused with speculation on hidden or ulterior motives). It seems to me this is entirely in keeping with his training and expertise as a medical professional, interest in public health, and his target audience of the same.

            Would you rather he gave talk on power plant design and engineering to his audience at the American Public Health Association. I doubt anybody would have leaped to the conclusion that it was no bother and that conventional fossil fuels were a better option: 1) because Dr. Bugher specifically told them it was not (in his view), and 2) America’s energy mix isn’t the primary concern of this audience. Perhaps the talk on public health risks from coal emissions and other industrial and chemical processes were available in other sessions. We can only speculate on what they concluded from his talk, since the journalist failed to ask anyone. But it seems reasonable to assume they would have treated it seriously, and asked if they had adequate training and expertise to deal with the issues involved (which they were told were only going to become more prevalent and more necessary in the future).

            1. @EL

              A statement that nuclear energy must be developed “in the future” because supplies of conventional fuel will become depleted does not at all conflict with my thesis that Bugher was interested in protecting fossil fuels from more immediate competition from a more capable technology.

              Nuclear energy dominance did not have to wait until fossil fuels were depleted. As Sheik Yamani famously said, “The Stone Age did not end because the earth ran out of rocks.”

          7. … does not conflict with my thesis …

            @Rod Adams

            Is it worth it at this point to say John Burger was a former AEC official and colleague of Lewis Strauss. Let’s hope everyone who makes a case for an “enormous and rapid” expansion of nuclear power in the future doesn’t’ get painted with the same brush. Don’t be surprised if the last person standing (and without any paint on their face) is the person holding the paint brush and bucket.

            1. @EL

              It is interesting that you pointed out Dr. John Bugher’s employment as a former AEC official.

              Here is a quote from a New York Times article published April 9, 1955 titled “The Academy and the Bomb.”

              Scientific opinion is not unanimous on the effects of the devastating blast, the intense heat and the powerful radiation that accompany the explosion of an atomic bomb. Hence the need of the broad appraisal that the National Academy of Sciences will undertake, with financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation. The need of such an appraisal is accentuated by the recently conflicting views of Dr. John C. Bugher, who speaks for the Atomic Energy Commission, and Dr. Kasuo Miyoshi of Tokyo University, Dr. Bugher maintaining that the fisherman of the Lucky Dragon who died after the fall-out of March 1, 1954, in the Pacific had succumbed to jaundice and Dr. Miyoshi insisting that death was the direct result of radiation sickness.

              This is not an isolated instance of disagreement. On the whole, there has been a tendency on the part of those who would forbid further tests of atomic bombs to overstate their case and on the part of the Atomic Energy Commission a tendency to interpret atomic explosions statistically to show that the world has nothing to fear from such tests “at the present time.”

              In case my reason for quoting the above is not clear, I believe it provides evidence that Dr. Bugher was an excellent spokesman. One criteria for being a spokesman is the ability to stay on message for an employer. That may be one of the reasons I was never asked to be a spokesman during my naval career, even though I earned a service reputation as a pretty decent communicator and speech writer.

              Bugher served on the BEAR 1 Pathological Effects of Atomic Radiation committee, which was chaired by Dr. Shields Warren. He was listed on that roster as representing the Rockefeller Foundation.

              That same article quoted above continues with some additional points worth pondering, if you are interested in understanding more of the complex array of interests and positions that played a role in filtering the BEAR 1 report. (I suspect some might not like my use of the word “filtering,” but I have been involved with the production of dozens of reports over the years. Every one of them was subjected to multiple filters during the production and review processes.)

              What of the future? The genetic aspects are the most controversial. Dr. Alfred J. Sturtevant of the California Institute of Technology estimates that 1,800 of the 90,000,000 children born in the world last year were genetically affected. His estimate is based on what happens when fruit flies are exposed to X-rays. Since it was made, the Atomic Energy Commission experimenters have found that the genetic effect of X-rays on mice is ten times as great. The subject calls for investigation.

              Faced by the ever-present possibility of war with communistic Powers, we cannot afford to discontinue our tests of improved atomic bombs. Yet how far can we go in adding the background of feeble radiation to which life has been exposed for millions of years? Even now a threshold can be established that may not be crossed without imperiling mankind. Is it conceivable that any nation would willfully cross it even in war? There is need of clarification on this and other matters, such as the possible ultimate contamination of the air by scores of high stacks that will rise from atomic power plants throughout the world in the next twenty years. It is such clarification that the country expects from the National Academy’s impartial committee of authorities.

              (Emphasis added.)

              I emphasized that last line because there was a great deal of effort put into marketing the NAS BEAR 1 committee as an impartial body of the best available experts. The reality was that is was funded by an organization with deep interests in the fuels that dominated the existing market and despite the fact that several members of that funding organization were assigned roles on various committees — up to and including the decision making role of chairman of certain influential committees.

              People like Naomi Klein specifically discount any research funded by an industry with a clear interest in a positive outcome. For example, she discounts all research showing few, if any, negative health effects from second hand smoke that was funded by tobacco interests.

              What few people seem to recognize is that a study or report funded by people or organizations with clear interests in a negative result should also be suspect. Would you trust a report commissioned by Pepsi to tell the truth about Coke? Would you trust a report funded by aluminum companies to tell the truth about the environmental risks of plastic containers? Would you trust a report funded by the steel industry to tell the truth about the durability of aluminum car parts in an accident?

              Why should we trust a report commissioned by a foundation created by one of the world’s largest fortunes ever assembled by a man who clearly understood the need to control energy supply in order to prevent loss-making oversupply to tell the truth about the health effects of low dose radiation?

              It is completely unsurprising that their report incorrectly claimed there is “no safe dose” and that even unmeasurable effects will–not might–cause damage to future generations.

            2. @EL

              One more thing. Bugher was not “making a case for” an expansion of nuclear power. He was warning against “the prospective enormous and rapid expansion of nuclear power” being called for by many members of the public and their representatives in Congress, some of whom were public power advocating Democrats like Al Gore, Sr. Once again, here is the full quote in context, not with your selective extraction of words that support your argument.

              Dr. John C. Bugher, director of medical education and public health for the Rockefeller Foundation, told the eight-fourth annual meeting of the American Public Health Association that the testing of nuclear weapons at the present rate was a minor health hazard. By contrast, he emphasized, an increased nuclear power program could introduce elements of real danger to society.

              Particular concern has been voiced over the possibility that one of the radioactive fall-out materials–the artificially radioactive Strontium 90–might be a hazard for people living today. However, Dr. Bugher said that thus far the amount of Strontium 90 found in the bones of living individuals was one-thousanth of the amount now considered to be “the permissible body burden for industrial purposes.”

              “It seems obvious that the basis for concern for the public health is tenuous as far as the present rate of testing nuclear weapons is concerned,” Dr. Bugher commented. “The same cannot be said for the prospective enormous and rapid expansion of nuclear power. Even a modest nuclear power program will bring into existence vastly greater quantities of radioactive materials than are produced in the development of nuclear weapons.”

          8. @Rod Adams

            I’m traveling today for Thanksgiving holiday. If I have anything more to say, I’ll do so when I get back.

            And I agree, Bugher appears to have been a contrary view at AEC (which had a very active role to play in the advancement of nuclear power at the time). A team of rivals makes for better policy, as they say, rather than a group of toadies under the thumb of Strauss.

            If nuclear requires everyone to be on the same enthusiastic page to advance, and that cautious voices cannot be heard and addressed, then it likely has a problem. Discussion on these points shouldn’t be an obstacle to an industry that can advance on the merits (or more hard headed competition for funds and institutional support among competing interests). The nuclear establishment had significant power at the time (and a prominent role in Government). That they couldn’t do anything with it accept cow to fossil fuel interests doesn’t’ sound like a correct view of history to me (and doesn’t properly position reports such as BEAR in this context, which served to settle matters that were a source of fear and uncertainty, not propound them). As such, it did much to advance the cause of nuclear (not hinder it) … as some of it’s most significantly invested members intended.

            1. @EL

              Have a nice holiday. I hope that you will be in a location where you are not dependent on unreliable power sources – underdone turkey is not very healthy.

  3. @EL It’s not a conspiracy. ‘Conspiracy theory’ implies:
    * there was a specific, secret, organization set up to carry these ‘plans’ out.
    * ‘plans’ implies they knew what the outcome of their actions would be. E.g. “Let us artificially stoke up radiation fears to increase our fossil fuel profits”.
    * that they did it all in secret, taking specific secret actions.
    * that the secret actions they took had an entirely predictable, and planned, outcome

    There was no ‘plan’ in that sense. They didn’t know for sure what the consequences of their actions would be. It was more the case that events played themselves out along a line of least resistance: in favour of fossil fuels, against the development of plentiful energy. How can one sell fossil fuel in an environment where energy is cheap. The higher the price – the higher the profit. That’s the line of least resistance.

    “Let us artificially stoke up radiation fears to increase our fossil fuel profits” – who alleges this? I put it to you that radiation fears were stoked up because no coherent interest group existed to give humanity plentiful energy. Arguments for plentiful energy were incongruent with the needs of the fossil fuel industry. No one promoted plentiful energy with money.

    In his book “Never Let A Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown“, Philip Mirowski looks at the promotion of Neoliberalism. No conspiracy theory is required to explain how this came about and Mirowski explicitly rejects such a notion. Mirowski simply traces the ideas back to the Mont Pelerin society, looks out how it diverged from classic liberalism, how it promoted Neoliberalism via press commentary, journals, meetings, think tanks, political influence. To the extent that Neoliberalism – we can hardly think outside of it. When Neoliberalism fails – carbon/emissions trading – no one blames it on Neoliberalism either – but on Big Fossil Fuel or Big Steel.

    I think it’s a bit like the anthropic principle. Here we are living on a planet where all the physical constants, laws of the universe are just perfect to allow life. A trillion, trillion to one chance! Oh, there must’ve been a plan – aka conspiracy. Some God must’ve planned it all without us knowing. No, not at all; there’s another explanation. Rod is just explaining how things came to be; not how Gods made our universe.

  4. I think a great rebuttal of the effects of long-term, low dosage exposure to radiation comes from the studies done of airline flight crews and their cancer/overall mortality rates. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22678613 supports the findings of the first, and they both support earlier studies of the same. The executive summary for the lazy is that Airline pilots regularly exposed to higher doses of ionizing cosmic radiation tend to outlive people with lower exposure rates and have generally lower cancer rates.

    <blockquote cite="The study comprised 547,564 person-years at risk, and 2,244 deaths were recorded in male cockpit crew (standardized mortality ratio [SMR] = 0.64, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.61-0.67). Overall cancer mortality was decreased (SMR = 0.68; 95% CI = 0.63-0.74). We found an increased mortality from malignant melanoma (SMR = 1.78, 95% CI = 1.15-2.67) and a reduced mortality from lung cancer (SMR = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.44-0.62). No consistent association between employment period or duration and cancer mortality was observed. A low cardiovascular mortality and an increased mortality caused by aviation accidents were noted.>
    Comment(sarcasm): emphasis mine and does the increased mortality due to aviation accidents surprise anyone? Let’s blame the radiation.(/sarcasm)

    I don’t know, we may never convince the anti-nuc power crowd, but the risk/reward seems to tremendously favor nuclear power over every other viable source of base power. I’m confused by people who don’t see that.

  5. I hope that you will be in a location where you are not dependent on unreliable power sources …

    @Rod Adams

    I was … adequately supplied with energy in the land of public power and the TVA, but unfortunately had to drive through Metropolis and Paducah to get there. I hope you had a good holiday as well.

    Like many financially successful people, Lewis Strauss was a complex man who was not always completely transparent about his plans and motives.

    I don’t discount this … but ulterior motives have to make sense (tell a believable story), and shouldn’t discount everything that Strauss worked towards in his role as AEC Chairman (private development of nuclear power, key figure in Atoms for Peace Program, “father” of nuclear power, establishment of scientific committee to review radiation risks, etc.).

    Paying adequate attention to historical context, the issue is not that complex to me. BEAR was a key instrument in the sales effort to advance nuclear power (and calm fears about radiation risks that where very high after use of atomic bomb and increasing prevalence of nuclear weapons testing) … not undermine it’s efforts. A close look at the 2nd summary report of committee on genetic effects of radiation, which is available on web, speaks directly to this (here). It is a cautious document, circumspect in it’s findings, involving diverse stakeholders, language that satisfies dissenters, and is generally consistent (not an outlier) with other summaries of the same by British Medical Research Council, WHO, UNSCEAR, ICRP, and others. It forms a clear picture, reviewed by qualified experts, and serves as an adequate basis for action (not an impediment to a new and promising industry).

    Having been successful in business (and also attentive to successful efforts of the same by Rockefellers, international banking empires, and others), I think Strauss well understood the early challenges for nuclear and what was needed at the time. BEAR was a part of this (not a barrier). From your standpoint, what is a better marketing pitch or story to tell looking back at this history (and looking forward at new opportunities in the future):

    1) The risks from radiation from nuclear plants is very small and can be adequately addressed.

    2) Lies and conspiracy have infused modern radio-protection standards, and further work needs to done to more fully document risks at lowest doses (perhaps including healthy low doses).

    I think it’s clear how Strauss answered this question. I think it’s also clear how many people (committed to the advancement of nuclear power) answer this question today.

    1. @EL

      The problem is that you are not telling the truth about the pre 1956 optimism about the Atomic Age and the calm acceptance of small doses of radiation. You ignore evidence like the over the counter availability of Radiothor, the high value placed on radium, the use of tritium in consumer items, the use of X-ray equipment in shoe stores, and the popularity of uranium glazes for casual dinnerware. You forget about the multiple uses of the word “atomic” to signify modernity.

      Your question at the end vaguely reminds me of the Swedish referendum question from 1980 in which the only available choices were to oppose the continued use of nuclear energy.

      My option is 3) The public risks from radiation from nuclear plants does not exist.

      That does not mean that the plants will be perfect and never experience any accidents that can be publicized and blown out of proportion. It means that it is not only possible, but quite likely that there will never be any public injuries caused by operation of a large and growing number of nuclear power plants, especially in comparison to all available alternatives.

      You’ve also ignored Strauss’s record during his first term on the Atomic Energy Commission, a term in which he focused on building bigger bombs and enforcing the harsh secrecy rules that turned off the most creative and progressive scientists and engineers who understood nuclear science and technology. It was during Strauss’s first term that he developed his strong dislike and distrust of Oppenheimer because he wanted to turn the atom into a powerful servant of mankind. It was also during Strauss’s first term that he campaigned to halt funding for the Daniels Pile and to convert the resources devoted to that effort into a military application of producing reliable power.

      You pointed out Strauss’s effort to promote “private” investment in nuclear energy, but you neglected to mention how that effort was rigged against the utilities, almost guaranteeing that they would fail. He demanded that they put up all of the money and not expect any government assistance even though the technology he was asking them to use was not fully developed and not designed to be the most economical way to build power stations. He used a pretty scary club to “encourage” those money-losing investments; he reminded utilities that there were plenty of Democrats in Congress who wanted to turn atomic power over to publicly owned power producers.

      That second summary report from BEAR published in 1960 was an improvement on the fear mongering document issued in 1956. Not only was it somewhat more nuanced, but it includes an appendix titled “On the Appraisal of the Genetic Effects of Radiation on Man” that offers “a polite rebuke to the overly simplistic approaches to the problem of the genetic effects of radiation.” That quote is from Neel’s Physician to the Gene Pool a book that contains fascinating observations about the increasingly heated debates preceding both the 1956 and the 1960 reports. Here is a sample:

      Muller had come into the initial round of meetings with a well-thought-through position and firmly held views that exerted great influence on Committee thinking. Now these were challenged. I found myself increasingly siding with Dobzhansky, on the grounds that we knew too little about human genetics (a view certainly reinforced by the later developments we have discussed) to be as definitive in our treatment as Muller would have wished.

      Note: “initial round” refers to the 1955-56 meetings before the addition of Dobzhansky to the committee. IMO, a another way to say “well-thought-through position” is “agenda.”

      One more thing to consider is the following quote from James F. Crow (a member of both 1956 and 1960 committees) paper titled Quarreling Geneticists and a Diplomat, which is part of Perspectives: Anecdotal, Historical and Critical Commentaries on Genetics p. 425.

      MULLER didn’t have his way with much of the wording of the Committee report. But his major practical recommendation–that the standard be set low, in the vicinity of the natural background level, and that it be based on a population average, not an individual dose–prevailed. In the years immediately following the BEAR report there were numerous discussions, committees, and Congressional hearings. PAULING joinedMULLER and was a forceful advocate. Radiation protection became a major concern and, among other consequences, above-ground bomb testing was ended. MULLER certainly won the day. In my view, he and PAULING, along with others much less visible (including me), oversold the dangers and should accept some blame for what now seems, to me at least, to be an irrational emphasis by the general public and some regulatory agencies on low-level radiation in comparison to greater risks.

      As I mentioned earlier, the 1956 report was presented at a press conference and received wide publicity. Then still another problem arose. Most of the report was technical and not controversial; only the genetics section, thanks to Weaver was written for the general public. Writers from the Scientific American were co-opted to write a popular version of the report, and they proceeded to change some of the hammered-out wording of the genetics section. WEAVER again came to the rescue, persuading these writers to leave this section largely alone, and undoubtedly averted another crisis with Muller or Wright or both.

      WEAVER had done a great job, but he had had his fill. The press conference was held on June 12, 1956 and he resigned the next day.

      I should like here to acknowledge my personal indebtedness to WARREN WEAVER in another regard. The next year, on his recommendation, the Rockefeller Foundation supported me on a trip to Japan to spend the summer of 1957 working with MOTOO KIMURA.

      As Neel phrased it

      Unfortunately, the 1956 report received far more attention than the 1960 report and Wright’s thoughtful essay went relatively unnoticed.

      Wonder why? The promotional effort for the 1956 report–as evidenced by more than half a dozen articles in the New York Times, including one on the front page, on the day after the press conference announcing the report–was no accident.

      1. One more thing to consider is the following quote from James F. Crow …

        @Rod Adams

        These sound like legitimate debates and legitimate differences among scientists in a highly technical and somewhat new and developing field of research and policy to me. If you expect them to all agree and be on the same page this isn’t going to happen, and you aren’t going to find it (and lacking such agreement is not a sign of conspiracy or ulterior motives). That there was a “learning” and a softening of tone between 1956 and 1960 is hardly a sign that the Committee had an axe to grind and is sharpening their tools against nuclear power (but exactly the opposite). They appear to be listening to contrarian perspectives, and adjusting their findings and approach (in tone and content) in response to new information.

        As James F. Crow wrote: “Most of the report was technical and not controversial.” This was even more true of the second report. Weaver did his best to prevent popular accounts from misconstruing their work and altering their carefully “hammered-out wording” (particularly when it came to the Scientific American). This goes to show just how hard it is to communicate highly technical matters to a popular audience (not that the Committee was incorrect or being alarmist for attempting to do so). Highly technical disciplines still have difficulty with this, and the BEAR Committee appears to have got much better at it over time (by the available evidence).

        For more on James F. Crow, and his subsequent work (he became a kind of specialist in this kind of report writing and committee work), you might be interested in the following.

        My option is 3) The public risks from radiation from nuclear plants does not exist.

        From a marketing perspective option 3 is abysmal, primarily because most people know it to be incorrect. Lacking the qualifier “well regulated” it is a meaningless statement.

        You ignore evidence like the over the counter availability of Radiothor, the high value placed on radium, the use of tritium in consumer items, the use of X-ray equipment in shoe stores, and the popularity of uranium glazes for casual dinnerware.

        I don’t! As I stated previously, this is part of the broader context that motivates the creation of the BEAR committee in the first place: “Committee seems most concerned with atmospheric fallout from weapons testing (which was increasing or projected to increase at the time), as well as other areas were public exposure to radiation risks were expanding (industrial chemical processing, medicine, agriculture, nuclear energy, and more). Motivated primarily by atomic weapons fallout, they appear to me to be looking at a general public safety concern, and not one uniquely targeted to a specific industry or site. The membership of the committee (and diversity of stakeholders) is a reflection of this.

        Care to speak to BEAR not being an outlier, and other comparable findings and statements from similar Committees and reports at the same time? I doubt Strauss’ impact (since you now seem to think he worked at cross purposes to the advancement of nuclear power) reached to all these Committees and locations (and similar efforts to respond to general public safety concerns about radiation health risks in a calm and informative manner).

        1. @EL

          Care to speak to BEAR not being an outlier, and other comparable findings and statements from similar Committees and reports at the same time? I doubt Strauss’ impact (since you now seem to think he worked at cross purposes to the advancement of nuclear power) reached to all these Committees and locations (and similar efforts to respond to general public safety concerns about radiation health risks in a calm and informative manner).

          But BEAR 1 WAS an outlier in the tremendously important area of eliminating the dose threshold that had previously been a part of radiation protection constructs before 1956. The BEAR 1 Genetics Committee report specifically and repeatedly told the public — in an admirably public communications science-based effort (aka Bernays style-propaganda) — “Any radiation is genetically undesirable since any radiation produces harmful mutations.” There might have been other committees that issued similar reports within a few months to years, but the US National Academy of Sciences was an authoritative, trend-setting voice – especially in the field of nuclear energy and especially in the mid 1950s.

          The Genetics Committee report concluded with the following, which has provided the “scientific” basis on which antinuclear activists like yourself can constantly assert that there is “no safe dose of radiation.”

          We ought to keep all of our expenditures of radiation as low as possible. Of the upper limit of ten roentgens (0.1 Gy) [total over the first 30 years of life] suggested in Recommendation C, we are at present spending about one-third for medical X-rays. We are at present spending less–probably under one roentgen–for weapons testing. We may find it desirable or even almost obligatory that we spend a certain amount on atomic power plants. But we must watch and guard all our expenditures. From the point of view of genetics, they are all bad.

          You claim that the differences of opinion among the scientists were legitimate; why don’t you recognize that there was no basis for forcing those scientists to issue a “unanimous” report that made very specific assertions designed to provide grist for opposition to beneficial uses of nuclear energy, radioactive isotopes, and radiation diagnostic devices?

          You might believe it is completely unremarkable that the man who forged that consensus report and produced the carefully “hammered out wording” was the paymaster from a foundation whose wealth and power was directly traceable to an energy oligarch who clearly recognized the importance of controlling competitors and the perceived supply of energy.

          I disagree. There will be many people on your side of the political fence who recognize that moneyed interests played a huge role in propagating a myth designed to handicap a strong technical competitor before it got out of the gates.

          BTW – you were the one who introduced Strauss into this argument. By my understanding, he was sort of a bit player in this particular aspect of nuclear energy development. I have merely been pointing out that he did not see “no safe dose” as something that worked against his interests in developing a heavily-regulated, established company-dominated nuclear industry out of previously approved members of the military-industrial complex.

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