The response of Nuclear Authority to dissenting opinion and contrary knowledge.

The Japanese Diet reported that the Fukushima Diiachi nuclear disaster was largely due to cultural failures, failures borne out of the specific setting of Japan.

I strongly disagree. Boiled down, the Diet, in one sense, concludes that institutional arrogance lay at the base of events. What exactly is it within the Japanese nuclear culture that encourages such arrogance? Is it really unique to Japan?

It is well documented by FAS and others that the nuclear culture was imported in Japan and imposed upon it by the United States of America. The underlying driver in this imposition, which involved intense CIA interference in Japanese society in the 1950s and 1960s, was the strategic interest of the USA. This real interest was concealed within the “Atoms for Peace” program. And of course, this being the reality in Japan, to what extent did the same imperative drive nuclear industry in the USA? It is logical to assume that if nuclear industry was and still considered part of the US strategic balance, then those who spoke against nuclear technology were probably deemed to be un-American. Was this the case and this still the case?

Oral History of Dr John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D., conducted by US Department of Energy, 20/12/1994

Dr. Gofman began his career by working for the Plutonium Project as part of the Manhattan Project at the University of California, Berkeley from 1941 to 1943. During that time, he developed two processes for separating plutonium from the uranium and fission products of irradiated fuel. This work, conducted with Dr. Glenn Seaborg, was the precursor to full-scale plutonium production at the Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington. Between 1947 and 1951, Gofman was a physician in radioisotope therapy at the Donner Clinic, University of California, Berkeley. From 1947 to 1954 Gofman was an Assistant Professor of Medical Physics in the Division of Medical Physics, Department of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1954 this position turned into a full professorship, and in December 1973 it became a Professorship Emeritus, a position he continues to hold today. He was the medical director for the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (Livermore) from 1954 to 1957. From 1963 to 1969 he was an Associate Director of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and from 1963 to 1966 he was Director/Founder of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory Division of Biology and Medicine.

Dr. Gofman has published many times on such topics as the following: · lipoproteins, atherosclerosis, and coronary heart disease, · ultracentrifugal discovery and analysis of serum lipoproteins,
· the relationship of human chromosomes to cancer, · the biological and medical effects of ionizing radiation, with particular reference to cancer, leukemia, and genetic diseases, and· the lung-cancer hazard of plutonium.”

“GOFMAN: At any rate, I was coming up to ’69 and the talk that I gave. Tamplin had the invitation to this nuclear power thing. I’d given the talk at the IEEE, as I say, an extremely conciliatory talk: not a wild, raving, manic thing at all, which I’m capable of doing.

Anyway, Mike May calls me over and says, “Jack, the AEC is upset about your talk before the IEEE.” I said, “Why? [It was] such a reasonable talk.” He said, “No, no, it’s not what you said. It’s the fact that you didn’t notify them in advance of giving it and they get flack from newspaper people and so forth.” So he said, “Would it be agreeable with you, whenever you or Tamplin or somebody is going to give one of the papers on the health effects of radiation,” (which was our mission; just doing my job), “would you consider sending a copy to the AEC in advance?” I said, “Sure, that’s fine.” I said, “They’re not going to censor it?” He said, “Who would stand for that?”

The next paper up was Tamplin’s for that nuclear power symposium. We gave a copy to Mike May and sent a copy off to Washington.

A couple of days later Tamplin walked into my office. Threw down this paper on my desk. He says, “Look at this!” I looked at it. Everything was lined out what he wanted to say-the only thing left were the prepositions and conjunctions. I said, “[Did] this come back from Washington?” He said, “Hell, no! This is Roger Batzel,” who’s Mike May’s right hand. He told me that if I want to, go ahead and give the original talk at this meeting, [but] I can only go as a private citizen, not as a member of the Livermore Lab. I cannot use Laboratory secretaries to type anything and I must pay my own expenses for the travel. Ordinarily, the Lab loved it when we would go give a talk somewhere; it’s publicity for the Lab.

Especially if one said there were no harmful proven effects.
GOFMAN: Right. So all these things that [we] can’t announce, even being a member of Livermore. I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. I called up Mike, and I believe that session he came over to see. I said, “Mike, what in world’s going on? I agreed to have this stuff we are doing seen by the AEC in advance. But,” I said, “censorship like this!”

GOFMAN: Senator [Edmund] Muskie [(D., Minnesota)] was holding some hearings on the underground uses of nuclear energy. His aide in Washington had asked if I’d come and testify. He didn’t know about this whole paper I’d given, so I essentially upgraded the thing Tamplin and I had done and went back to testify before Muskie’s committee. Senator Mike Gravel was there from Alaska and he turned out to be a real friend. Muskie was very friendly. But then it was pretty sure we’d better call that number 13,000 cancer deaths, not 16,000. We’d been wavering before that.

Ed Bowser was the Secretary on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. This is also very important for you two to know. The Joint Committee on Atomic Energy was as aristocratic as you can get. Ed Bowser came into Muskie’s hearing room and he said, “Can you come over to the Joint Committee Headquarters? The Chairman wants to see you.” That’s Chet Holifield, [U.S.] Representative from California. The Chairmanship of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy alternated: one session [it would be a] Senator, next would be a House Representative. They went back and forth. Holifield was the chairman.

So I said, “Sure, I can come over,” and said, “Tamplin is in town with me.” “Oh, bring him along, by all means.” So we went over to the Headquarters and went through secret passages in the Congressional Building. They were up there in the Green Room; all very secret. There were a number of people from the Joint Committee staff there. I remember one guy by the name of Dr. Graham; he was friendly.

Chet Holifield and Craig Hosmer of the Joint Committee came in and Holifield turned to me and said, “Just what the hell do you two think you’re doing, getting all those little old ladies in tennis shoes up in arms about our atomic energy program?” I said, “I don’t think we’re doing that Mr. Holifield. We were doing our job.” This guy Graham said, “Mr. Holifield, these are two of our distinguished scientists from the Livermore Lab.”

Holifield said, “I don’t give a damn who they are: They are hurting the atomic energy program.” He said, “listen, I’ve been told that if we gave everybody in this country one hundred times the dose that’s allowed, nobody would be hurt.” I said, “Well, Mr. Holifield, that doesn’t agree with anything we’ve learned about this question. That sounds like a horrible dose. Where did you hear this?” He said, “The Atomic Energy Commissioners told me that.”

I said, “Well, Mr. Holifield, I’ll look into it. I’m surprised, but that doesn’t square with our findings.” He said, “That’s what they told me.” Then he turned to me and said, “There are people like you who have tried to hurt the Atomic Energy Commission program before. We got them, and we’ll get you.” He didn’t mean to kill us, but he meant they could take care of our reputation. That’s a long story…”

If the above sounds very similar to the situation in Japan between scientists who disagree with TEPCO, NISA, the Japanese government, and to me it does, can we say the nuclear disaster in Japan is uniquely Japanese in character? The role of the US political elite in the promotion of nuclear power in the days of Gofman led directly to the nuclear technology which was exported to Japan decades ago. Along with the hardware came the organisational culture. And the hallmark of the culture was it militaristic attitude, its rigid hierarchy, its intolerance of dissent, its blind following of leaders, its ultimate arrogance that it alone was right, and its cruel contempt of anyone in its way.

That is what the US nuclear authorities permitted to be exported to Japan when the first Fukushima Diiachi reactor was purchased from the USA with US government approval and encouragement.

The cultural disaster that is the allegedly particularly a Japanese nuclear cultural effect is in fact a global fact. Across the nuclear culture of all countries. All of them.

“There are people like you who have tried to hurt the Atomic Energy Commission program before. We got them, and we’ll get you.” Chet Holifield.

Bullshit Holifield, we get you instead. And anyone like you. The seeds of the human component which lay at the base of the Fukushima Diiachi nuclear disaster can reasonably be traced back to the attitudes, arrogance and of people such as Holifield. People who, despite their mandate and obligations in a democracy, could not abide dissenting opinions without knee jerk dismissals and and without resorting to implied or actual threats.

That is just the way the nuclear industry is. It is it’s nature. It came out of a military program after all.

One Response to “The response of Nuclear Authority to dissenting opinion and contrary knowledge.”

  1. CaptD Says:

    Thanks for the glimpse behind the Nuclear Curtain!


    We know they will do anything they can to protect the Nuclear Industry and part of that is because sooner or later they all profit from it directly and or indirectly!

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