Kimberly Nielsen’s article in your May 31 edition and the DoseNet project are nothing but lies and propaganda for the nuclear industry, which unfortunately includes institutions like the University of California and its Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore labs, along with its professors and scientists who work in this area. People who in any way make money from the nuclear industry have absolutely no credibility on the issue of the harms caused by radioactivity (ionizing radiation). This is similar to cops investigating themselves: there is too much conflict of interest to get an honest answer or result. The most credible people on this issue are those who don’t stand to profit in any way from the nuclear industry, the foremost of whom are Dr. Helen Caldicott. The following are indisputable facts about nuclear issues:
- There is no safe level of radioactivity, period. Any amount of radioactivity is harmful, though greater levels of it are obviously more harmful than lower levels.
- Natural background radioactivity is the main cause of aging. If our planet had no background radioactivity, we and other animals would live a lot longer.
- The only benefit of radioactivity is that in a tiny percentage of instances, the mutations it causes turn out to be a positive evolution. This is a species-wide and possibly ecological benefit, but because this only happens rarely from radioactive contamination, it only very rarely benefits individuals; instead, it is usually very harmful.
- All nuclear power plants leak and/or emit radioactivity.
- In order to make “nuclear” anything, uranium has to be mined. Uranium mining is an extremely environmentally and ecologically destructive process, akin to mountain-top removal coal mining. Like coal and oil, uranium should have been left in the ground. Bringing toxic substances like these to the surface is harmful per se and what scientists have done with them is even worse.
Please don’t use The Daily Californian to shill for the nuclear industry. I realize that the University of California is heavily involved and invested in this industry, but this involvement is not supported by most Californians and would be stopped if we had a real democracy. What this article should have done was to expose DoseNet for the lie and propaganda that it is. Berkeley is, by local law, a nuclear-free zone, and we would have this type of research and development removed from our city if we could do so. I would hope that the Daily Cal would at least respect our local laws and the Berkeley attitude.
Jeff Hoffman is an environmentalist and attorney who resides in Berkeley.