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Poisoned Power, The Case Against Nuclear Power Plants Before and After Three Mile Island

John W. Gofman, Ph.D., M.D.
and Arthur R. Tamplin, Ph.D.

Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pa.

Presented here, in both hypertext and ASCII text formats, is a combination of the 1971 and 1979 editions of Poisoned Power since they are not identical. The differences in the 1979 reprint are the following:
  • Appendices II, III, and IV were not included
  • Appendix VII, "Commercial Nuclear Power Reactors in the United States" was updated
  • Chapter Nine's graphic, "Nuclear Power Plants in the United States", was updated to match Appendix VII (as well it's first sentence)
  • an additional Foreward was written to augment the text with information on Three Mile Island and challenge the continuing "Safe and Clean" nuclear industry propaganda, largely paid for with tax dollars.
Appendices II-IV of the 1971 version have historical value for their significance of holding people accountable. The benefit in demonstrating that facts and insights of 1971 do not automatically become obsolete.




ISBN 0-87857-004-7

Copyright © 1971, 1979 by John W. Gofman and Arthur R. Tamplin

Permission is granted for downloading, copying, and distribution all or parts of this book, provided that the text and drawings are reproduced without any alterations.

Printed in the United States of America on recycled paper containing a high percentage of de-inked fiber.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Gofman, John William
    Poisoned Power,
    Includes biographical references and index.
    1.   Atomic power-plants--Environmental Aspects.
2.   Radioactive pollution.     I. Tamplin, Arthur R.,
joint author.     II.   Title.
TD195.E4G63       1979         333.7           79-16781
ISBN 0-87857-288-0

    4   6   8   10   9   7   5   3


From the inside front and back dust jacket of the 1971 edition :


John W. Gofman and Arthur R. Tamplin

The Case Against Nuclear Power Plants

  • In one year's operation, a single nuclear power plant generates as much radioactive poison as one-thousand Hiroshima-type atomic bombs!

  • Insurance companies -- experts on judging risks -- protect themselves against anticipated claims from private citizens for nuclear plant accidents and radioactive damage by specifically excluding such coverage in contracts.

  • The AEC--designated as the public's "protector"--is charged with promoting the nuclear industry. This is an impossible conflict of interest.

  • There is "not a shred of evidence" that AEC radiation standards for peaceful use of the atom are truly safe.

  • Nuclear power is not the sole adequate source of electricity for the future. There are efficient alternatives -- cleaner, cheaper, safer ones.

In 1963 the Atomic Energy Commission asked Dr. John Gofman and Dr. Arthur Tamplin to undertake a series of long range studies on potential dangers that might arise from the "peaceful uses of the atom." Assuming that the Atomic Energy Commission seriously wanted to know the truth about the safety of nuclear electricity and its generation, the authors attacked the problem with gusto.

Here's what they learned:

  1. Radiation from rapidly expanding Atomic Energy programs is a far, far more serious hazard to human life than anyone had ever conceived it to be.

  2. Atomic radiation will result in many times more deaths from cancer and leukemia than previously thought possible. The potential damage to future generations from genetic damage has been even more grossly underestimated.

But far from having their findings welcomed, Gofman and Tamplin experienced a torrent of personal and professional condemnation from the nuclear triumvirate--the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, and the Electrical Utility Industry. The authors attribute this to their announced unshakeable conviction that the entire nuclear electricity industry was--and still is--developing under a set of totally false illusions of safety and economy. This judgment was inimical to the interests of all these groups.

Poisoned Power is a starkly realistic book. It is also a hopeful one, for the authors firmly believe that citizen action can combat the nuclear power group's carefully contrived propaganda campaign. To help the citizen to navigate through the murky and controversial areas of debate Gofman and Tamplin provide an appendix containing the most frequently raised questions on the merits of nuclear power, with clear, direct answers. Poisoned Power shows that we can have the electric power we need to maintain our high quality of life. And we can do it without destroying our environment through the introduction of radioactive poisons that will last, essentially, forever.

Finally, the authors make a revolutionary proposal--an Adversary System of Scientific Inquiry, which will open all new technologies of national scope to serious, objective scrutiny by qualified scientists. These men would be specifically charged with exploring each proposed development with an eye to uncovering possible physical, social or economic hazards. These points would then be weighed against any advantages by the scientific community and the lay public before further development of the technology would be permitted. The authors believe such a system would long ago have postponed the proliferation of nuclear power stations to allow for detailed investigation into their safety and efficiency compared with alternate sources of power.


From the back cover of the 1971 edition :

Arthur R. Tamplin    John W. Gofman


Internationally known for their research on the effects of radioactivity on the environment, and particularly on man, John W. Gofman and Arthur R. Tamplin are research associates at Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Livermore, California.

        Arthur R. Tamplin is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, with a B.A. in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in biophysics. As a group leader in the Biomedical Division at Lawrence, he has been responsible for developing the ability to predict the ultimate distribution within the biosphere -- particularly the concentration in man -- of each radionuclide produced in the explosion of a nuclear device. This program also is concerned with the effects of its radiation on man. Previously he was a research associate with Rand Corporation, working on problems concerned with the space program.

        John W. Gofman has degrees from the University of California. a Ph.D. in nuclear-physical chemistry (at Berkeley) and an M.D. He is Professor of Medical Physics at Berkeley.

        Form 1963 to Sept. 1969, he was Associate Director of the Lawrence Laboratory.

        Dr. Gofman is a co-discoverer of U232, Pa232, U233, Pa233; and of slow and fast neutron fissionability of U233. He also is co-inventor of the uranyl acetate and columbium oxide processes for plutonium separation. He has taught in the radioisotope and radiobiology fields for over 20 years, and has done research in radiochemistry, macromolecules, lipoproteins, coronary heart disease, arteriosclerosis, trace element determination, x-ray spectroscopy, chromosomes and cancer, and radiation hazards.

        Co-editor of Advances in Biological and Medical Physics, he also has written about 130 articles, and has prepared many additional reports. In addition, he is author, with A.V. Nichols and E.V. Dobbin, of three books on heart disease. He is a member of 10 scholarly and professional societies.

        Drs. Gofman and Tamplin have worked together not only in research but also as crusaders before governmental, public and professional groups to make Americans aware of the grave dangers of nuclear pollution.


From the back cover of the 1979 edition :

Here's what those who know have to say about Poisoned Power:

John Gofman and Arthur Tamplin have been major figures in the battle against nuclear power since their pioneering work on the dangers of radiation from nuclear power plants. Their book, Poisoned Power, deserves re-reading in the light of recent events at Three Mile Island. If the nuclear juggernaut is stopped, a great deal of credit will go to these dedicated and incorruptible scientists.

--Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb

The information on nuclear power and radiation so eloquently and simply explained by Drs. Gofman and Tamplin in Poisoned Power is of crucial importance to all citizens. We all owe a debt of gratitude to these courageous scientists who could have submitted to the Atomic Energy Commission's pressure, but instead told the truth about nuclear power.

--Ralph Nader, consumer advocate

Dr. Gofman and his colleague Arthur Tamplin have challenged the over-optimistic approach of the AEC to radiation hazards in a remarkable series of scientific analyses while they were employed by the AEC. For this courageous and important service to society, they were rewarded by losing their funding.

--Barry Commoner, in his book, The Poverty of Power

Internationally known for their research on the effects of radioactivity on the environment, and particularly on man, John W. Gofman and Arthur R. Tamplin were research associates at Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Livermore, California, until the Atomic Energy Commission cut off funding for continuation of their research.

Arthur R. Tamplin is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, with a B.A. in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in biophysics. He is now a staff scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

John W. Gofman has a Ph.D. in nuclear-physical chemistry and an M.D. from the University of California. He is Professor Emeritus of Medical Physics at Berkeley and Chairman of the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility.


( Expanded ToC )

Foreward to the 1979 Printing
Foreword, by Mike Gravel, U.S. Senator from Alaska
Introduction : The Nuclear Juggernaut
Chapter 1 : Nuclear Reactors to Generate Electricity
Chapter 2 : How Radiation from Atomic Energy Programs Gets to You--What it Does to You
Chapter 3 : How Radiation Produces Disease and Hereditary Alterations
Chapter 4 : Is Any Radiation "Safe"?
Chapter 5 : Promises, Promises
Chapter 6 : How Safe Are Nuclear Reactors?
Chapter 7 : Nuclear Electricity and The Citizen's Rights
Chapter 8 : The Nuclear Legacy--Radioactive Wastes and Plutonium
Chapter 9 : Alternatives Available to Us
Chapter 10 : What Can Citizens Do About Nuclear Electricity?
Chapter 11 : Must We Hold Out for The "Cold Corpses"?
Chapter 12 : Toward An Adversary System of Scientific Inquiry
Chapter 13 : The Ultimate Issue -- Conversion or Ecocide
Appendix I : Nuclear Power Questions and Answers
Appendix II : Moratorium Activists
Appendix III : Atomic Safety and Licensing Board
Appendix IV : Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards
Appendix V : When Experts Disagree, Which Ones Shall We Believe?
Appendix VI : Nuclear Power and Alternatives
Appendix VII : Commercial Nuclear Power Reactors in the United States

List Of Figures

image   link to location of image in text
figure 1   Vertical cross-section of a pressurized-water nuclear reactor
figure 2   Liquid Metal Fast Breeder/Pressurized Water Reactor diagrams
figure 3   A fission reaction
figure 4   rat exposed to single dose of beta rays
figure 5   small doses of x-ray exposure over 15 years to hand of physician
figure 6   2 cell cultures: left unexposed, right exposed to ionizing radiation
figure 7   human chromosomes diagrams, cell division to each daughter cell
figure 8   human chromosomes in cell damaged by gamma ray radiation
figure 9   Radiation Hazard graphic
figure 10   Nuclear Fuel Cycle
figure 10   (smaller, inlined version)
figure 11   electric power industry advertisement promoting increased consumption of electricity
figure 11   (smaller, inlined version) "Flameless electric heat is pure fresh, so clean, so right for your family"
figure 12   AEC/electric power industry spend millions promoting the idea that atomic energy is safe and clean
figure 12   (smaller, inlined version) "Go play in the nuclear power park"
figure 13   Nuclear Power Plants in the United States as of December 31, 1978
figure 14   electric power lines/towers, `cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky'
figure 15   To Our Patients; Santa Cruz Physicians ad opposing power plant construction
figure 15   (smaller, inlined version)

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