When it comes to the truth about radiation and health effects, there are no experts who are honest - not in government, not in science, not anywhere. Yet, people would rather listen to liars than challenge their assumptions about the sources of the so-called truth and disregard the purveyors of actual truth on this topic: the non-creditialed self-taught. - Andrew Kishner, May 18, 2013
You are reading from a free online e-book titled 'Deception, Cover-up and Murder in the Nuclear Age.' The book discusses the Trinity test, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hydrogen bomb testing fallout, U.S. experiments done on Marshall Islanders (Project 4.1), the Irene Allen trial, Cosmos 954, the Fukushima meltdowns, Three Mile Island updates, and so much more. Visit the Table of Contents to find this free content.
Footnotes are located at the end of each chapter - press the (right facing) 'PAGE' button icon until you reach the footnotes page, or locate it via the table of contents
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|Chapter 2 - How Kodak Film Became More Important Than American Lives|
The second Kodak story
To their credit, the AEC did fulfill their duty to be careful for the safety of someone. But it wasn't any American citizen.
It was Kodak.
In early 1951, an AEC Commissioner admitted to a Kodak employee that the U.S. government had conducted a secret nuclear test two days before Kodak's radiation equipment went haywire during the Rochester snowstorm. The Commissioner, however, said he wouldn't be able to give assurances to Kodak that it wouldn't happen again - he couldn't guarantee other fallout incidents wouldn't occur.
Unsatisfied with that response, Kodak's president T. J. Hargrave threatened to sue the AEC for damages caused by future exposure of their film. The AEC - likely fearing a lawsuit or public alarm over media attention on the matter - capitulated. They offered to give secret information to Kodak about its nuclear test program, including the date, test type, and forecast map prior to each 'shot' (showing "expected distribution of radioactive material in order to anticipate local contamination."). Kodak would also receive post-'shot' maps, showing where the fallout went. Kodak took the offer.
Other photographic film manufacturers were later given the same rare clearance to receive this secret information so they could move equipment and supplies around their plants to prevent damage to their film supplies. For over a decade, without Americans even knowing it, photographic film producers with big manufacturing plants outfitted their air conditioning systems with state-of-the-art air filtering mechanisms to keep out the Cold War's contaminated air. While Americans were breathing tainted air and eating radioactive wheat and milk that the AEC claimed was safe, the Kodaks of the world knew a proxy nuclear war was going on, acquired fallout maps, and engaged in actual nuclear war survival; the industry rigorously tested and monitored all of their raw materials - such as straw and even gelatin - to make sure that no radiation would impair film in production and storage. But not a single hospital, resting home, day care center or student dormitory knew any of this nor was advised to begin filtering the outside air or told the levels of contamination in milk nor instructed to take laundry off the line during heavy fallout days; they never acquired fallout maps or knowledge that their bodies were being impaired, just like film, from the internalized radiation.
In a 1997 Congressional subcommittee hearing - titled "Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Testing at Nevada Test Site, 1950-1960" - Iowa Senator Tom Harkin bitterly remarked: "Where, I ask, were the maps for dairy farmers? Where were the warnings to parents of children in these areas? ...Why do you suppose it was that the Government of the United States saw fit to inform Kodak about fallout and to give them advance warnings on where the hot spots would be, but would not do so for the general public, especially in Utah and Idaho and places like that? I am speculating here. Why would the Government not say: Look, we are going to have an atomic bomb blast; for the next couple of months, people in this area, you ought not to drink milk. Why was that not done? I mean, they told Kodak to protect their films."
One of the three main pillars of negligence that informed Jenkins' ruling on the bellwether cases was the failure of the AEC to give downwinders the same courtesy given to Kodak (and its competitors, who also received detailed warnings). Another pillar was the failure to conduct adequate monitoring. Here's an example why monitoring would be a necessary 'duty': if a tractor-trailor hauling chemical wastes crashes on the interstate and spews gooey materials on the tarmac, we'd expect hazmat crews to show up and assess and measure the contamination. Based on the severity of the environmental damage, a cleanup operation may have to be undertaken. Well, the AEC never showed up to check on the contamination. They never adequately monitored the damage. Jenkins elaborates: "Careful review of the numerous relevant documents, reports and statement [sic] which are now a part of the record in this case compels this court to conclude that the monitoring activities conducted in the areas surrounding the Nevada Test Site in an effort to ascertain external doses of radiation were persistently negligent in philosophy and action. The monitoring program as carried out necessarily produced inadequate data from which to accurately evaluate either acute, short-term or chronic, long-term risks of adverse health effects, especially as related to children...Long-term exposures and risks, particularly those related to external beta and internal exposure, alpha, beta and gamma radiations, were never adequately measured or analyzed during the period of atmospheric testing. ...Furthermore, the basic preparations for off-site monitoring were inadequate in terms of numbers and training of monitors as well as in resources, such as film badges, available to the effort."
This means that the health of persons downwind of the test site could have been damaged by the fallout but no one would know this in the 1950s - not the AEC and certainly not the downwinders. Although isolated cases of hair loss, skin burns and radiation poisoning (of humans, and also sheep) were reported in areas of Utah in the 1950s, it wasn't until the 1970s that downwinders began suspecting, en masse, that their (human) cancers and leukemias might be related to previous exposures to the invisible fallout, which the AEC had claimed wasn't harmful.
By then, it was too late. Because of the AEC's failure to act responsibly with regards to its duties for public safety, no one, not a citizen or a doctor, had a clue in the weeks and decades following the nuclear tests if immediate or long-term health problems were related to the exposures. The reason is they had no way of determining those exposures. Jenkins: "Had the Government accurately monitored the individual exposures in off-site communities at the time of the tests, accurate estimation of actual dosage to individual persons could have been achieved. The need for particular precautions could have been evaluated with confidence. Had even the existing programs of surface measurement continued over a longer period, the second phase, or chronic hazard of radiation exposure could at least have been given minimum analysis."
Not only were doctors and their patients scratching their heads for decades over the scope and nature of the radiation exposures received downwind from the tests, but public health professionals were stumped too. Jenkins: "This court has reviewed with considerable interest the struggle of current [dose reconstruction] groups to analyze and estimate from what was and was not measured the relative risk to persons in the off-site communities at the time of atmospheric testing... The dependence of those activities upon assumptions, models and data from other times and places highlights both the inadequacy of the data regarding gamma exposure and the paucity of information concerning other exposure parameters. It further highlights the negligent failure of the off-site monitoring programs to gather sufficient information from which to speak with confidence about dose and relative risk-either then or now. At best, the monitoring effort was only able to give short-term guidance about the fallout hazard considered from the standpoint of acute radiation injury. Those who now seek such guidance as to long-term problems largely must look elsewhere for usable data, theories and models. That so much reconstruction is now required says a good deal about the thoroughness of the original effort."
The AEC did collect some data, to their credit, but the little 'gamma' - or 'short term' - data recorded by the AEC would prove useless because, per one 1966 report cited by Jenkins: '"...accumulation of radionuclides by mammals cannot be assessed only on the basis of dose rate measurements of the gamma radiation field." ... Yet as far as the mammals known as human beings are concerned, except for limited efforts at milk monitoring, external gamma dose rates are often the only direct exposure data available...'
When dealing with fallout events, the overwhelming danger to the body is from internal contamination. With few exceptions, downwinders affected by Nevada Test Site fallout received their greatest radiological doses over time from tainted foods, especially milk contaminated with iodine-131 and strontium-89 and-90. But the AEC had blinders on when it came to internal dose and monitoring 'consumables' basically didn't happen. Jenkins writes that 'It cannot be concluded that those responsible for off-site radiation safety exercised great care in light of the best of available scientific knowledge as far as monitoring of internal exposure resulting from inhalation or ingestion of fallout material is concerned. Clearly, they did not.'
Jenkins noted that AEC efforts at monitoring for internal exposures paled when compared to British efforts following the nuclear disaster at Windscale: "Even the efforts actually made to indirectly estimate internal dose risks through monitoring of milk or food stuffs were haphazard at best. No concern was shown for risks of ingestion of fallout beyond the time of crisis immediately following a detonation. Milk at Windscale (United Kingdom) was monitored for nearly two months following the release of radioactive iodine, krypton, xenon and traces of other nuclides by a reactor leak.' What happened at Windscale was that a reactor core overheated and dumped thousands of curies of iodine-131 (and other fission products) into the environment. U.K. authorities monitored milk production within 200 square miles around Windscale, tested unpasteurized milk at the farms themselves and even temporarily halted distribution of tainted milk from some farms. Normal milk distribution then began more than one month after the disaster. By then, almost all of the iodine-131 decayed.
Never in its history did the A.E.C. warn U.S. residents to not eat contaminated foodstuffs or divert tainted food or milk26 supplies from immediate consumption. When in the summer of 1962, state officials in Utah and Minnesota were alarmed over radiation levels detected in air, and in milk and lettuce, from atomic fallout from Nevada, they diverted milk supplies from going to the 'shelves' and instead to food manufacturers (where the radio-iodine in milk would largely decay by the time the foods were made, shipped, bought and consumed.) The Federal Radiation Council, a U.S. government body which set radiation exposure standards at the time, actually vehemently protested the decision made by these two states.27
Few people know that the scope of radiation monitoring in the wake of a fallout event must also include the human body itself. In the 1950s, sampling and testing human tissue, blood, urine, bone28, etc... was an accepted and expected procedure in situations when radiation exposure was an issue. But the AEC negligently acted again. Jenkins: "Review of the radiation safety plans and reports as well as more recent analyses of NTS monitoring data and the testimony of witnesses at trial, however, discloses an astounding fact: at no time during the period 1951 through 1962 did the off-site radiation safety program make any concerted effort to directly monitor and record internal contamination or dosage in off-site residents on a comprehensive person-specific basis.....no routine urine, fecal or blood samples were taken from residents of local areas exposed to significant, measurable radioactive contamination. Not even in those circumstances where external exposures were estimated to meet or exceed the established safety guidelines, such as in St. George following [the atomic test dubbed 'Harry'] in May, 1953, did the off-site rad-safe personnel make any effort to check possible internal contamination among residents by direct methods. No thyroid or whole-body counters were constructed for use in screening members of the community-especially children-who may have been exposed to more than was permissible even for radiation workers. In fact, in the aftermath of HARRY, the monitors decided not to take a number of milk samples in order to avoid arousing public concern. ... Even if milk samples had been taken in methodical fashion, the analytical technique used to count radioactivity in the milk involved "dry-ashing" the milk at high temperature, driving off much of the radioactive iodine [and cesium-137]. Concentration of those radionuclides was left to guesswork. No mention is ever made of using blood counts as a method of monitoring in emergency situations, even though it was a technique in common use at radiation laboratories during that period.' (Jenkins cited testimony from experts who attested to the fact that technologies existed at the time [such as oxidating techniques] that could have "completely eliminated any iodine" or resulted in loss of cesium 137 through ashing of milk).
Mays illustrated how his model would 'work' using statistics - valid at the time - by the American Cancer Society that "about 0.5% of Americans will develop thyroid cancer sometime during their lifetimes."
He noted that "since about 200,000,000 Americans lived during the time of NTS aboveground testing, about 1,000,000 cases of thyroid cancer are expected to develop eventually among those potentially exposed." Mays cited tables prepared by a scientist named Seymour Jablon, who calculated 'attributable risks' corresponding to 5 Rad thyroid doses - for which Mays said, regarding all Americans living at the time, "in most individual cases doses of this magnitude could not be disproved."
Jablon's tables indicated that every American who received a 5 Rad dose to the thyroid from Iodine-131 in NTS testing fallout would have an attributable risk for thyroid cancer ranging "from 13.1-73.3% for males and 23.1-68.2% for females."
Mays said the cost of experts would be high: "In many cases, the cost of evaluation would exceed the amount of the award."
It appears that Mays knew better than just about anyone how expensive compensating victims of radiation injury would be. In 1964, in his analysis titled 'Compensation for Radiation Injury,' he suggested that radiation injury compensation be streamlined into compulsory health coverage for the employed and 'attributable risk'-based compensation by the government for others, including the unemployed.
Dr. Mays was one of the first scientists, he claimed, to "seriously suggest that the thyroid doses from Nevada fallout might produce an increase in thyroid cancers among residents of Southern Utah."
Mays' formula is: Upper limit cancer compensation (the highest cancer compensation award possible, or, as Mays suggested, $400,00034) times attribution risk times 'degree of severity' (a fraction assigned by an expert from 0 (to describe non-lethal, subclinical cancers) to 1 (lethal cancer)
The 10% cutoff
In Mays' testimony, he addressed the idea of a '10% cutoff' that was floated by the senators themselves. A 'cutoff,' for example, of 10 percent, meant anyone with a "fractional radiation causation" over 10% would be awarded damages. (Jenkins' cutoff was 51% - he took Gofman's estimates and, with only one exception, ruled in favor of those plaintiffs who had a 51% or greater chance of causation - meaning that fallout was 'substantial contributing factor' to the onset of disease.)
Under a 10% cutoff model, actually most of the bellwether trial plaintiffs would be awarded compensation. This would include one plaintiff in Jenkins' courtroom who had died suddenly of a brain tumor at age 20 - with a 21.5% "fractional radiation causation." Another plaintiff, who died from a form of skin cancer, had a 10.6% 'causation' - he would be eligible. Only one or two such plaintiffs, including a woman who died at age 20 of ovarian cancer with a 7.3% rate, would be ineligible.
What was so deficient about the AEC that its employees and scientists failed to understand even the basics of monitoring for internal hazards? Without speculating on the AEC's motivation, it almost seems that Jenkins believed the AEC intentionally deviated from monitoring practiced elsewhere in the U.S. when it came to the downwinders of the Nevada Test Site. He noted that monitoring efforts around other governmental nuclear laboratories, such as the one at Oak Ridge National Labs, were more robust and advanced than the AEC's efforts in Nevada: "The notion that far greater releases of radioactive materials than at the other national laboratories somehow justifies far less monitoring than undertaken at those laboratories defies reason and logic, falling well beyond any notion of reasonable care under the circumstances." Whatever the reason for the AEC's acting negligent in their responsibilities for monitoring, the point is they behaved like a teenager goofing off on their first job and people got hurt.
Jenkins cited a passage in his decision from The Story of Atomic Theory and Atomic Energy by J. Feinberg (pap. ed. 1960) which explains the AEC's philosophy-in-action: 'With no serious effort being made to monitor actual internal exposure, the "tacit assumption" of no internal hazard to off-site residents went essentially untested.' Jenkins' own take on the AEC's philosophy was: "Take care of external gammas and the betas will take care of themselves." The AEC had a duty to ensure public safety following each bomb test and yet their philosophy-in-action incorporated untested, fictitious assumptions and reflected willful and blatant ignorance of known hazards.
Judge Jenkins' decision on this case, the downwinder bellweather trial, was supported by his determination of three major types of negligence of the AEC (these were published in his 'Findings of Ultimate Fact'29). One was the failure to warn downwinders (although they did warn Kodak), another was the failure to tell downwinders about 'well-known and inexpensive methods' to 'prevent, minimize or mitigate' fallout exposures, and the third was: "....that defendant failed to measure adequately and concurrently with open-air atomic testing the actual fallout in communities and population centers near the Nevada Test Site on a person-specific basis, or its equivalent, and that such failure was negligent."
After more than a year of reviewing his notes and thousands of documents, in early May 1984 Judge Jenkins announced his ruling. It was summed up in an article heading in the May 12th issue of the New York Times: 'RADIATION-CANCER LINK KEY TO RULING.'30 The article noted "The landmark ruling Thursday by a Federal district judge that the Government had been negligent in the way it conducted nuclear tests in Nevada was based on the ''contributory role'' that radiation from the explosions played in causing 10 cancers, nine of them fatal."
Although there were 24 plaintiffs in the bellwether trial and all were deemed potentially harmed by the AEC's negligence, monetary awards were granted to 10 plaintiffs and denied to 14 others. The reason lay in the decision made by Jenkins to award damages to only those persons for whom - according to an expert's judgment - the contributory role (in causing the cancers or leukemia) from NTS fallout played a 51% or greater role. Experts from the federal government and experts for the plaintiffs both calculated a 'contributory role' of NTS fallout - that number was a function of the calculated estimate of the radiation dose31 from NTS fallout each downwinder received. Jenkins sided ultimately with the plaintiff's experts, including Dr. Joseph Lyon and Dr. John Gofman, a former Manhattan Project scientist and expert in radiobiology. Jenkins relied extensively on Gofman's estimates and his 'fractional causation' estimates, or the probability that cancers or leukemias stemmed from a certain dose received from NTS fallout.
Gofman assigned such probabilities for each of the 24 plaintiffs ranging from percentages under 10 (%) to the upper 70s (%). But Jenkins picked the cutoff level of 51%. Every plaintiff who had a 'fractional causation estimate' above 50% was awarded damages, and the rest were denied damages, but with one exception. That was the case of Ms. Norma Pollitt, a resident of Cedar City, Utah, who was diagnosed with a form of breast cancer and died during the trial (in August 1983). Dr. Gofman estimated Norma's cancer was 47.5% caused by NTS fallout. Although, per Gofman, NTS fallout fell short of having 'substantially contributed' to Norma's cancer, Jenkins reached into the box of tools for fixing 'uncertainty' and pulled out the maxim 'Occam's Razor,' which offers the wisdom that often the simplest explanation rivals all "other largely hypothetical alternatives." The simplest explanation for Pollitt's cancer, lacking any other likely source, was that NTS fallout was to blame.
Some may argue that Jenkins' decision exonerated the government from the harm it incurred on the other 14 plaintiffs (and all other downwinders in their 'boat'). Jenkins' allocation of awards - that was dependent on probabilities calculated by the plaintiff's experts - obscures the fact that we don't, and will never, know which 'bullet' (one from a food-additive carcinogen or a radioactive-fallout particle) caused the downwinders' cancers and leukemias. To grant compensation based on an arbitrary cutoff (of 51% or greater) of probability goes against Jenkins' own argument that two negligent hunters ought to be both held liable. Jenkins asserted in that scenario that: "The injured party has been placed by defendants in the unfair position of pointing to which defendant caused the harm...If one can escape [...] the other may also and plaintiff is remediless."
That the 14 plaintiffs were poisoned by the federal government but were denied justice flies in the face of Jenkins' assertion that every hunter a with smoking gun pointed at an innocent boy with a bleeding eye should be held liable if they can't prove their bullet didn't hit the boy. Jenkins wrote that the burden of proof rested on the defendant - the federal government - to absolve itself, and because it couldn't the federal government should be liable for the pain and suffering of the victim(s). But that's not what was reflected in Jenkins' ruling. He added a rule to his otherwise brilliant judicial argument on Allen v. U.S.: if experts cannot claim with 51 percent or greater confidence that NTS fallout or carcinogens clandestinely put into cigarettes or additives placed in foods caused someone's cancer, then all entities - the federal government, the tobacco companies and the food companies - are acquitted.32
Dr. Mays' imperfect solution
As we mentioned above, there were two remarkable men who gave much thought to the idea of radiation injury compensation. Dr. Mays, the professor of radiobiology who provided testimony to a Senate committee in 1982 regarding a compensation bill, was the second one. Dr. Mays thought about compensation in very similar ways as Jenkins. His model of compensation would, like Jenkins', incorporate 'fractional causation,' which would be calculated by experts who would evaluate each and every subject's medical history. (Mays' term for fractional causation was 'attributable risk'). Along with that probability estimate, an expert would assign a number corresponding to the severity of the cancer.
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