Nuclear Reader

The Nuclear Reader was written with the intention of bringing into focus information known and unknown which surrounds the use of nuclear energy.........

Chapter 1. Hazards of Low Level Radioactivity
This chapter discusses some of the Many hazards of low level radioactivity.

Chapter 2. Nuclear Power is Bad Business
This chapter dispells the myth that nuclear power is economically viable.

Chapter 3. The Petkau Effect
This chapter explains the health damaging effect of low-dose radioactivity.

Chapter 4. Health Damage from Radioactivity
This chapter clarifies that there is no safe dose of radiation.

Chapter 5. References
Medical literature on radiation health damage.

Chapter 6. Depleted Uranium
This chapter looks at depleted uranium as a part of the nuclear energy cycle with attention to military uses.

Chapter 7. Photos of Radiation Damage
This chapter contains photos of plant deformities and infant deformaties.

Chapter 8. Radioactive Waste
This chapter discusses the fact that there is no plan for long term storage of radioactive waste.

Chapter 9. Toward Clean Energy
Thsi chapter explores clean renewable energy sources.


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 Low level radioactivity includes radiation released from the routine operation of the world’s 433 nuclear power plants, plus leaks and accidents, nuclear fuel recycling, uranium mining and other related activities.
INFERTILITY Radiation causes infertility. The global fertility rate has dropped by nearly half since 1955.
Radiation weakens the immune system. A hundred nation study on quality of health found the United States was number 1 in 1943. By 1992, the United States was number 100, according to a U.S. Public Health Statistics Report. Globally, health is deteriorating with the incidence of cancer, heart disease, allergies and infectious diseases increasing.
Even at low levels radiation may increase mutations of bacteria and virus. Mutations are causing the appearance of new diseases such as Reye's Syndrome, Legionnaires' Disease and Lyme Disease.
The percentage of oxygen in the air is down to about 19 percent. The standard reference amount is 21 percent. Oxygen is formed by trees and  plankton. Trees and plankton can be killed by radiation. 
Large-scale breakdown of the protective ozone layer in the  stratosphere was initiated in 1958 by high atmosphere bomb tests, and continues due to releases from nuclear power plants and reprocessing plants. Radioactive Krypton-85 goes to the stratosphere where it greatly      enhances CFC ozone damage.


The global fertility rate has dropped by nearly half since 1955! The cumulative effects of radiation-caused infertility raise the possibility of gradual human extinction. 

Escalating infertility in the United States has forced couples to turn to the fast emerging new world of assisted reproduction and pre-made embryos in ever growing numbers.   A front page New York Times article (November 23, 1997, “Clinics Selling Embryos Made for Adoption”) looks at the “anguished infertile couples” who “are more than willing to pay for whatever infertility clinics can offer.”  Fear of the “population bomb” of the 1960’s has turned into the “birth dearth” of the 1990’s.

The so-called replacement rate is 2.1 children, which is needed to keep the population from falling.  In the year 2010 fertility rates hovered between 1.1 and 1.4.  In the less developed countries fertility rates were 6.0 in 1972 and had dropped to 2.9 in 2010.The current fertility rate in the developed nations is 1.6 children per woman. According to the CIA World Factbook, 2010, the fertility rate of the United States has nearly halved in the last 50 years.
Dr. John Gofman, an eminent scientist, medical doctor and eloquent spokesman against the hazards of nuclear power explained, back in the 1970’s, “that the worry about over-population would become a non-worry due to radioactivity.”  (Tamplin, Arthur R. and John Gofman. Population Control Through Nuclear Pollution. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1970.) 
This prediction is confirmed in the decline in fertility among those born during the period of atmospheric bomb testing between1955 and 1963. 

Dr. Rosalie Bertell, mathematician, epidemiologist and founder of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health has been researching infertility for some years and feels it is the “cutting edge” of radiation health damage, surpassing immune damage in the extent of its implications, as it raises the possibility of human extinction.

In response to questions on the status of this research, Dr. Rosalie Bertell wrote in a personal correspondence (November 1997): “We found in Kerala, India, that when comparing couples matched for socioeconomic status, class, religion, occupation and life style, those living on the high radiation background (300 to 3000 mrad per year) had twice the infertility rate of  those living on the normal background soil (below 300 mrad per year).” 

The Baby Boomers are the group born in the USA after the war, from 1945 through 1963, and these are the years of atmospheric bomb testing as well as the start of the nuclear power industry. They show a high rate of immune related diseases and also an increasing rate of infertility. Data from the U.S. Public Health Service illustrate the difference between the fertility rates of the Baby Boomers and those who are called Pre-Baby Boomers:

Percent Women Infertile, by Age
U.S. 1965 and 1976
in 1965
in 1976
Percent Change
Baby Boomers
Age 15-19
Age 20-24
Age 25-29
Pre-Baby Boomers
Age 30-34
Age 35-39
Age 40-44

(Reproductive Impairments Among Married Couples United States U.S. Public Health Service,Washington, D.C., December 1982)

The two surveys in the chart, done in 1965 and 1976 by the US Public Health Service, show that the percent of infertility of the baby boomers increased, and the percent of infertility of the pre-baby boomers born before bomb testing and nuclear power, decreased. 
In an article in the conservative journal Foreign Affairs Nicholas Eberstadt says:

“If the twentieth century was marked by vast improvements in public health, then the twenty-first century is likely to be defined by steep declines in fertility rates.”
He points out this new demographic reality includes the West, Europe and rising economies. (Eberstadt, Nicholas.  “The Demographic Future: What Population Growth Means for the Global Economy.”  Foreign Affairs 89, no. 6 Nov/Dec 2010).


On the correlation between low dose radiation and weakened immunity radiation physicist 
Dr. Ernest Sternglass stated in a 1986 article: “It appears that perhaps the most serious unanticipated effects of fallout is long-term, persistent immune deficiency.” He adds, “It can weaken the immune defenses of the body at very low total doses leading to unexpectedly large increases in infectious diseases and cancers.” (Int. J. Biosocial Res., July 1986, p. 18)

Initially, zealous industry misrepresentation of the facts led the public to believe that small amounts of radiation were of no special concern. Yet these low levels are exactly the cause of weak immunity and resulting diseases.

Authorities couldn’t ignore emerging data, and in December 1989 the government sponsored National Academy of Sciences, in a report titled 'Biological Effects of Radiation', stated that there was no safe level of radiation. 

Low protracted doses of radiation cause physiological damage through the formation of free radicals. A free radical is a molecule with an imbalance in electrons which can destabilize other molecules resulting in cellular damage and disease.

In high, short doses like the Hiroshima bomb blast, radiation primarily causes direct damage to the nucleus of cells, where the genes that control the functioning of the cell are located. In contrast, low doses acting continuously over time produce their damage indirectly through the generation of free radicals that destroy cell-membranes; hundreds to thousands of times more efficiently than might be expected in calculations related to high-dose damage. So the everyday amount of radiation that is released as part of the normal operation of the world’s 400 nuclear power plants is a very grave concern. Nuclear power plants release steam and water as part of their normal operations, and these releases, even though they may be partially filtered, disperse radiation into our air and drinking water, onto farmland and into our food.

The everyday releases of low-level radioactivity by nuclear power plants has been found to cause several kinds of health damage; including premature births, congenital defects, infant mortality, mental retardation, heart ailments, arthritis, diabetes, allergies, asthma, cancer, genetic damage and chronic fatigue syndrome. It has been linked to previously unknown infectious diseases and the resurgence of old ones by damaging the developing white blood cells originating in the bone marrow and thus weakening the immune system. 

For more information on health damage see chapters 3, 4 and 5.


It is well known that radiation can cause mutations in bacteria and viruses. Andrei Sakharov, the famous Russian physicist, described in his 1992 Memoirs that even at low levels radiation could increase mutations of bacteria and viruses. His predictions, which were originally made in 1958, have come true and we are seeing new ailments such as Reye's syndrome which first appeared in 1963, and Legionnaires' disease, which is caused by a bacteria that was not threatening prior to 1976. AIDS may be related to a mutated virus combined with a weakened immunity in a generation born after the first nuclear weapons were detonated.

Of particular interest is Lyme Disease which first appeared in 1975 near the Millstone and Haddam Neck nuclear power plants in Connecticut.  Dr. Jay Gould points out: 

“In 1975 there were 59 cases of Lyme Disease recorded; in 1985 the number increased to 863, mainly in the two counties of Middlesex and New London, CT near the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant. Just as increases in cancer may be linked to the huge radiation release from Millstone in 1975, so too may be the tick-borne Lyme disease epidemic. The Lyme Disease is carried by a spirochete that had not been as harmful to humans prior to 1975. It is well known that radiation can cause mutations in bacteria. The enormous 1975 Millstone radiation release may have caused just such a mutation in the tick-borne spirochete.”  (Gould, J and B Goldman. Deadly Deceit: Low-Level Radiation and High-Level Cover-Up. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1990.) 
So we have a double challenge:  the weaker immune system and the new diseases resulting from mutated pathogens.

Dr. Ernest Sternglass further explains:

“When the radiation from such isotopes as strontium-89 and 90 in the bone    marrow mutates an existing virus that invades the T-cells of the immune system    and kills them in the process of replication, the stage is set for the complete    collapse of the immune defenses and resulting death from opportunistic     infections or cancer.” (Ernest Sternglass, “The Implications of Chernobyl for Human  Health”, International Journal of Biosocial Research, no.8, p. 19, July 1986)

Walter Russell, a visionary artist and scientist predicted in his book Atomic Suicide, published in 1957, that due to man-made radioactivity we would suffer a reduction of oxygen in the atmosphere. Like the predictions of Andrei Sakharov in the 1950’s, Walter Russell’s foresight is now coming true. Our current oxygen levels are down to about 19 percent (BioTech News 1997).  The standard reference amount is 21 percent oxygen. Some experts say that we may have originally evolved in an atmosphere of 38 percent oxygen. Now, due to the loss of the two main producers of oxygen, forests and ocean plankton, measurements as low as 12 percent and 15 percent have been made in heavily industrialized areas. This oxygen-depleted condition is a contributing cause of the generalized lack of well-being that many are experiencing.  We need oxygen to live and to thrive!

Trees and other land plants provide about half our oxygen, and plankton provides the rest. Phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain, is declining. Various studies confirm this: Plankton in parts of the Antarctic Ocean had already declined by up to 12 percent when S. Weiler testified to the Senate Commerce Committee in November of 1991. Trees absorb radioactive carbon-14 in place of stable forms of carbon and in this way they are gradually killed. In The Petkau Effect, Ralph Graeub describes how radioactivity has harmed trees and forests: 

“It is assumed that the decisive physiological damage resulting in current forest death must have begun during the 1950’s. This is depicted in a reduction in density and width of tree rings, and in reduced growth, which is true in the Northern Hemisphere and in the Himalayas....Neither aging, location, nor climate can be considered as the possible sole cause of damage....The growth ring of a tree shows exactly what effects the tree has experienced, both in terms of time and seriousness....During the 1950’s and 1960’s, there must have been a global wave of air pollution which caused the initial damage.”
The author speculates that it may not be just the usual chemicals which are so damaging to  trees. And he notes that these trees are mainly within the 30th to 60th parallels of northern latitude. “This zone contains the most nuclear power plants -- over 300 -- and almost all nuclear reprocessing centers. Also, the vast majority of nuclear weapons tests occurred in this area.” 


The protective layer of ozone around the Earth filters out solar and cosmic rays and prevents them from reaching our planet. Ozone surrounds the Earth in a layer between six and thirty miles above sea level. It is formed when light rays strike molecules of oxygen, which is 02, and causes them to break into two separate oxygen atoms, or an 0 and 0. An atom of oxygen then combines with a molecule of oxygen and forms ozone which is 03. It breaks down again and then recombines again. And so on; unless it is interfered with.  Radiation interrupts the process of ozone formation. 

1957 - Walter Russell published his book Atomic Suicide, whose principle message was that the development of the nuclear weaponry and nuclear industry, if it continued, would eventually destroy the planet’s oxygen.

“The element of surprise which could delay the discovery of the great danger, and thus allow more plutonium piles to come into existence, is the fact that scientists are looking near the ground for fallout dangers. The greatest radioactive dangers are accumulating from eight to twelve miles up in the stratosphere. The upper atmosphere is already charged with death-dealing radioactivity, for which it has not yet sent us the bill. It is slowly coming and we will have to pay for it in another century, even if atomic energy plants ceased today.” 
(Russell, Walter and Lao. Atomic Suicide? University of Science and Philosophy. Virginia 1957 p. 18)
1982 and 1984 - Two German reports conclude that radioactive krypton, which is released in the daily operation of nuclear plants and through the reprocessing of used reactor fuel elements, is affecting the distribution of the electric fields in the atmosphere.

1987 - The ozone hole is twice as large as the U.S. It is discovered that ozone is not only diminishing over the south pole but globally.

1987 - 1988 - Consensus has it that various man-made chemicals are the sole cause of ozone breakdown; especially compounds of chlorine (CFC’s) and bromine (from halon fire extinguishers) and there was an attempt to implicate hair spray and refrigerators.  A leading authority on the ozone problem, NASA’s Dr. Robert Watson, admitted many scientists were “baffled” by findings of ozone depletion even in areas where CFC’s action was negligible. He called the extent of the hole’s growth “absolutely unexpected”. 

April 6, 1989 - “Scientists reported yesterday that for the first time they have detected an increase in “biologically relevant” levels of ultraviolet radiation reaching the ground as a result of the ozone hole over the Antarctica.”  This is the first indication that the depletion of ozone is beginning to cause the potentially harmful effect that has long been predicted.” (The Washington Post 4/6/89)

Late 1990 - University of California researchers publish their findings that phytoplankton are reproducing less profusely than before. Observing the plankton in the Belingshausen Sea (in the Antarctic) they found that increased UV appears to be suppressing the phytoplankton’s productivity by 6 to 12%.

1992 - Both NASA and The World Meteorological Society reported 10 to 25% ozone depletion measured over the northern United States, Canada, Europe and the Antarctic; and the ozone hole is now three times the size of the United States.

1994 - An article in a German journal Strahlentelex (March 3, 1994) argues that the nuclear industry is responsible for the hole in the ozone. The authors, Giebel and Sternglass explain that radioactive gases like krypton-85 from nuclear plants and from the recycling of spent fuel go up to the stratosphere where they create water droplets from the moisture which in turn form ice crystals which enhance the destruction of the ozone by the fluorohydrocarbons. 
(Krypton-85 has a half-life of 10.7 years and a whole life of 217 years.)

March 1996 - The World Meteorological Agency reports “the extremely worrying” development of an unprecedented 45 percent ozone thinning over Greenland, Scandinavia and Western Siberia.

Summer 1997 - Research from the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Program find “krill abundance in the Antarctic Peninsula region is down 60 to 90 percent since the early 1980’s”.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you can get them asking the wrong question, you don't have to worry about the answers. 
Thomas Pynchon
Given all the damage to the Earth and to all living creatures caused by the nuclear industry, the natural response would be to find it unacceptable and to phase it out in favor of clean renewable energies.  However, our attention has been diverted.  The wrong questions are proposed.  We respond to these questions and so miss the larger point.

We do not need to ask how we can meet the inflated western energy demands, but we should inquire how we can live appropriately without causing harm.  We can stop producing more radioactive poison; phase out nuclear power plants.  Go for efficiency and for clean, renewable energy.  We can clean up and store radioactive waste with responsibility.  If this is our true intention, it could be done.  If not, we are destined for a radioactive Earth.

In response to the March 2011 Japanese nuclear catastrophe, President Angela Merkel of Germany took seven power plants off-line and proposed the following six-point plan (Spiegel Online International 4/15/2011) from which other countries might take inspiration:

Expanding renewable energy. Investing in more wind, solar, and biomass energies will try to raise the renewable-energy share of Germany's total energy use -- from a baseline of 17 percent in 2010. 

Expanding grids and storage. Building a much larger storage and delivery network for electricity -- particularly wind energy, which can be generated in the north but must be carried to the south -- will be a main focus. 

Efficiency. The government hopes to improve the heating efficiency of German buildings -- and reduce consumption -- by 20 percent over the next decade. 

"Flexible power." The government wants to build more "flexible" power plants that can pick up slack from wind or solar energy when the weather fails to generate enough electricity during peak demand. The obvious source of "flexible power" for now, besides nuclear energy, is natural gas. 

Research and development. The government will increase government support for research into better energy storage and more efficient grids to a total of €500 million between now and 2020. 

Citizen involvement. The government wants to involve its sometimes-recalcitrant citizenry due to ongoing resistance against wind generators and the installation of an efficient new power line grid in some regions. 


“Not much time remains before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity are immeasurably diminished.  We, the undersigned senior members of the world's scientific community, hereby warn all of humanity of what lies ahead.  A great change in the stewardship of the earth is required.” 

Warning to Humanity
issued by the 
Union of Concerned Scientists
signed by 1500 scientists 
from 69 nations
 “For questions such as preservation of a liveable environment and a liveable world, it is truly discouraging that the public must plead for an opportunity to be represented in decision-making.  No right is closer to the constitutional guarantees than that of a liveable environment.” 
John W. Gofman MD, PhD
In nuclear-physical chemistry
Associate Director of Lawrence
Radiation Laboratory 1963-1969
Researcher in radiation hazards 
Author of Poisoned Power and
200 articles.
 “There is no safe amount of radiation.  Even small amounts do harm.” 
Linus Pauling PhD
Nobel Laureate
 “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” 
Edmund Burke
 “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” 
The Great Law of the
Iroquois Confederacy

A list of nuclear plants in the USA with their locations and details such as the amount of high-level radioactive waste on-site, problems and leaks, and “worst case” projections of casualties and property damage:

A list of 200 nuclear related books and videos:

A national information center about nuclear power and sustainable energy issues:

A map of the USA depicting radiation levels updated frequently:

About the catastrophe in Japan:

About Health Effects of Low Level Radiation: