extracts from The Dangers of Low Level Radiation
Charles Sutcliffe: Avebury Press 1987
ISBN 0 566 05482 5
The references in the text are not reproduced here.
by the public on the status quo decisions made by prestigious government experts. It is the view of Dr. Rosalie Bertell that "the Atomic Energy Commission lied about the hazards from the dumping of nuclear waste in the oceans by the US", Bertell (1985, page 303). A young man accidentally drove through the fallout area of a US nuclear bomb test, sustaining radiation burns from which he died. Publicity of this accident was suppressed, Bertell (1985, page 201).
Not only does the US government and its agencies try to confuse and mislead the public, they also influence legislators to prevent specific reference to the health dangers of low level radiation. In a letter written in September 1981, the General Counsel of the US Department of State, William H. Taft, tried to persuade Congressman G.V. Montgomery, Chairman of the Committee on Veteran Affairs, to delete assistance to veterans exposed to nuclear weapons testing from a bill then before Congress. Taft wrote thatsection 3 of the Senate passed bill creates the unmistakable impression that exposure to low level ionizing radiation is a significant health hazard when available scientific and medical evidence simply does not support that contention. This mistaken impression has the potential to be seriously damaging to every aspect of the Department of Defence's nuclear weapons and nuclear propulsion programs',quoted from Bertell (1985, pp.68-69). The bill was subsequently modified to delete specific reference to veterans exposed to nuclear weapons testing. This letter from Taft reveals the government's fear of the public realising that the production and deployment of nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear powered submarines results in low level radiation exposure, and that this exposure is dangerous.
Publication of an early article by Karl Morgan was delayed for almost a year in 1945 because he argued that permissible levels of occupational exposure to radiation should be much lower, Morgan (1975b). In 1955, two scientists from Colorado University, Ray Lanier and Theodore Puck, challenged a claim by the American AEC that nuclear weapons tests posed an insignificant health hazard. The Governor of Colorado, Edwin C. Johnson, responded by saying that Lanier and Puck "should be arrested" for their views, Smith (1985, page 145),
A study by Dr. Robert Pendleton on fallout in milk in 1962 was suppressed, and Pendleton said that funds for his studies of radon gas were cut off as a reprisal for his having conducted the study. Also a study by Edward Weiss in 1965 linking a sharp rise in leukaemia in school children to the Nevada nuclear tests was suppressed by the AEC. In squashing his study, the AEC told Weiss that publication of his study "will pose potential problems to the Commission; e.g. adverse public reaction, lawsuits, and jeopardising the programs at the Nevada Test Site".