Robert Alvarez on the Conflict of Interest inherent within US DOE radiation research,b=facebook

A Radioactive Conflict of Interest

Posted: 06/25/2012 2:31 pm

Having the Energy Department control radiation health research makes as much sense as giving tobacco companies the authority to see if smoking is bad for you.

Last month, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) heralded an Energy Department funded study indicating that evacuation zones around nuclear power stations might not be needed after a major nuclear accident. The study, which exposed mice to radiation levels comparable to those near the Fukushima nuclear disaster, found no evidence of genetic harm. “There are no data that say that’s a dangerous level,” says Jacquelyn Yanch, a leader of the study. According to the MIT press release “current U.S. regulations require that residents of any area that reaches radiation levels eight times higher than background should be evacuated. However, the financial and emotional cost of such relocation may not be worthwhile, the researchers say.”

It’s quite a leap to claim that evacuation zones around nuclear power plants might not be needed based on the chromosomes of 112 irradiated mice. In a devastating critique, blogger, Ian Goddard points out that the MIT study excluded extensive evidence of genetic damage to humans living in a radiation-contaminated environment. Although doses in a peer-reviewed study of 19 groups of children living near Chernobyl were consistently lower than the MIT mouse study, most showed lasting genetic damage from radiation. “MIT’s presentation of its study as the first scientific ever examination of the genetic risks of living in a nuclear disaster zone is pure science fiction, not fact,” Goddard concludes.

Even more troubling, the Obama administration reduced emergency preparedness in case of a major nuclear accident in a quiet announcement made six months ago, right before Christmas — virtually guaranteeing minimal media attention. Given that the number of people living near nuclear stations has grown four-and-a-half times larger since 1980, a move in the opposite direction would make more sense. Yet, the government’s low priority for radiation protection is underscored by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General, who recently reported as radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear site drifted over the U.S., 20 percent of EPA’s radiation monitoring stations were out of service for more than 6 months.

Also, during early stages of the Fukushima accident, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officially doubled the baseline annual public radiation dose from the environment by adding medical procedures. According the NRC this dose, ” has not been shown to cause humans any harm.” Although medical radiation exposures have soared over the past several years, unlike accidental nuclear power releases, an x-ray involves a choice by the patient and doctor. Moreover, in 1970, the world’s largest human study of pregnancy x-rays reported that NRC’s harmless dose more than doubles the risk of childhood cancer.

Observations based on radiation-exposed humans have long been considered of greater scientific importance, some which were obtained with a callous lack of ethics. In March 1954, after the U.S. exploded an H-bomb in the Marshall Islands that released a roughly comparable amount of cesium-137 as the Fukushima accident, Japanese fishermen and Marshallese were exposed to life-threatening doses of radioactive fallout while forcing Japan to confiscate four million pounds of fish. Two years later, medical advisors to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC now DOE) secretly recommended returning the Marshallese people to their homes after being told they would be living in “by far the most contaminated place in the world.” At the meeting an AEC expert stated,” it would be very interesting to go back and get good environmental data… when people live in a contaminated environment… While it is true that these people do not live, I would say, the way Westerners do, civilized people, it is nevertheless also true that they are more like us than the mice.”

Given this well-documented history of deception, why is the government reducing nuclear emergency preparedness and claiming no harm from radiation exposure, right after a major nuclear power disaster? The answer lies in the fact that since the 1940’s, the United States remains a major pillar of nuclear support here and around the world. Currently, about 70 percent of the Department of Energy’s $26.3 billion budget goes for nuclear activities — not including $18.5 billion in loan guarantees for new U.S. power reactors being sold by Japan’s failing nuclear industry.

The Energy Department is also the main source of funding for radiation health research — much like having the tobacco industry determine the safety of smoking. This conflict-of interest is not new. Several prominent scientists on the nuclear payroll in the 1950’s and 60’s vigorously claimed that radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests was harmless. Some went so far as to assert that fallout might be beneficial because increased radiation-induced genetic mutations could weed out the weak.

This problem was not lost on congressional investigators over the past 35 years. They have revealed the government’s suppression of incriminating data, blacklisting of uncooperative researchers, unethical human experiments, and submission of fraudulent research in federal court. By the late 1980’s DOE was forced to move funding for radiation research to public health agencies. This all changed 10 years later, when the Republican-controlled Congress restored DOE’s monopoly control.

Things have gotten to the point that the agency gave a $1.7 million grant to MIT, last month that will address among other things, the “difficulties in gaining the broad social acceptance” of nuclear power. MIT has also received millions of dollars from Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), which is responsible for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

This conflict of interest has tragic dimensions. The government and nuclear industry still face the costly disposal of enormous amounts of radioactive waste and profoundly contaminated “sacrifice zones” at the Energy Department’s nuclear sites. Not to mention tens of thousands of sick nuclear workers, uranium miners, military veterans, experiment victims, and nuclear test “down-winders,” who are receiving billions of dollars in compensation after being put in harm’s way on behalf of splitting the atom. end quote

See my previous post.

Since the turn of the century the US DOE has aggressively pushed the concepts of hormesis and adaptive response. It has spent a lot of money funding research around the world. In my local case, for the last 12 years, US DEO research contractors have promised a new medical treatment based on these concepts.

At the same time, the researchers claim that specific, highly defined types of photon radiation (gamma, x) are uniformly beneficial. Even if true, these highly defined forms of radiation at specific dose, dose rate and Linear Energy Transfer specifications deviate from the types of exposures suffered by people due to nuclear industry emissions. For instance, the people subject to the nuclear industry emissions caused by the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster are not subject to the time of ultra low dose, dose rate and LET radiation as the GM mice used in the US DOE experiments.

Further I believe that the Japanese government’s response to the Fukushima Nuclear industry disaster was in large part predicated on the entrenched pro-hormesis view which has infected Japanese radiological safety considerations for many years.

Even though Japanese nuclear victims are forced to live in areas of Japan which remain subject to decontamination attempts, and even though the government maintains the safety of this situation, it has been found, as explained lost post, that school children have suffered thyroid exposures which have reached their Allowable LIfetime Dose.

It remains to be seen what the US DOE advocates for hormesis and adaptive response have to say about this or what action they propose be taken.

The obvious answer seems as least to be moving the children out of harm’s way. However, ever since March 2011 US DOE funded contractors have called for the reverse.

I note none of these people have moved to Fukushima Diiachi in order to part take of the cesium baths at Spent Fuel Pool number 4.

There are thousands of possible outcomes from the cellular responses to insult from ionizing radiation. In the end, insult by ionizing radiation is cause of human disease and death. That medical uses exist is not in doubt.

Industrial pollution is not medicine. It is a risk to public and individual health.

In Australia we remember the 2006 Government finding that this country’s nuclear veterans suffer up to a 23% increase risk of cancer. The British and Australian government remains and has always been that these veterans were subject to low dose radiation. After the fact, US DOE contractors here claim the veterns dose was not dose. But this claim contradicts government. At the same time these DOE contractors called and call for the non evacuation of Japanese people from contaminated areas of Japan on the basis of the pet DOE theories of the benefit of nuclear industry emissions.

Such people advocate the routine exposure of members of the public to nuclear industry emissions. They claims they are “Like vitamins”.

They are not.

Anyone suggesting that the children of Fukushima who suffer thyroid exposures which have reached the Allowable Lifetime Limit should be further exposed is really adding more risk and advocating, on behalf of nuclear industry, for the compulsory “treatment” of a vulnerable group without any informed consent. And that is not medicine. It is industry propaganda.

The reassessment of “acceptable risk” and consequent increase in maximum exposures by the ICRP in 1999 and the modification of these limits by Japanese authorities in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear industrial disaster is bad enough. What is worse is the sight of obvious hormesis ideologues emerging from their featherbeds within Japanese and Western institutions to advocate the consumption of plutonium because it is, according to them, perfectly safe.

It is not.

The industry attempt to confuse medical use of ionising radiation with nuclear industry radio-chemical pollution and contamination of the living space and biosphere has failed in Japan. I hope it fails everywhere as well.

X ray machines come with an off switch. The emitted radio-nuclides do not. Where they are constantly present in the living space and biosphere, they pose risk. These risks may be be calculated and foreseen. The outcomes for the individual cannot be foreseen with any precision at all.

At the same time, I assure the reader that, in the days following the Japanese nuclear disaster I received emails from nuclear reactor workers which expressed despair at the IAEA contamination data from Japan. I received emails from a US decontamination contractor which raised questions relating to the nature of the emissions, and in which the person expressed the view that what was happening in Japan amounted to an experiment in his view. Not a pre planned event, he meant rather, that great risks were being taken, the outcomes of which were not fully known. He considered that Japanese agriculture would suffer great losses.

I fail to see any evidence of “beneficial radiation” in Japan. The Fukushima disaster was not a beneficial medical treatment, it was and continues to be an unmitigated nuclear industry disaster.

The casual reader might wonder how on earth such claims for beneficial nuclear emissions can be made. They most certainly have been. This DOE program has been underway in the modern era since about 1999. Though the advocacy of hormesis as a concept has been pursued by nuclear industry since the days of Marshall Brucer.

See also 26 March 2011

One Response to “Robert Alvarez on the Conflict of Interest inherent within US DOE radiation research”

  1. CaptD Says:

    SALUTE Great Post!

    Your readers might be interested to know that the NRC now has a blog (!) but be advised that moderation is glacial…

    Here is just one:

    One on CA Contaminated food from Fukushima Radiation!

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