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 Katie the Goat

Katie the Goat nursing her kids Cindy-Lu and Joe-Joe following her press conference at the State Capitol in Hartford CT in 2006

     Katie the Goat was the source of inspiration for the Mothers Milk Project.

     Katie became a news media celebrity, participating in events that took her from the State Capitol in Hartford in 2006 to the White House on March 11, 2012, the first anniversary of the Fukushima triple nuclear meltdown.

   Then-First Lady Michelle Obama pronounced Katie’s invitation to donate a granddaughter to the First Family to serve as a White House pet as well as radiation monitor “a fantastic idea.”

     In 2001, it is believed that Katie’s milk contained the highest level of strontium-90 ever detected in milk in the state of Connecticut, perhaps the nation, with a concentration of 55 picoCuries/liter when she grazed five miles downwind of the Millstone nuclear power station in Waterford. It is designed to continuously release radiation to the air.

    That number was twice the highest concentration of strontium-90 recorded in milk sampled in Connecticut during the peak of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s – in other words, a danger to human life.

     Most samples of Katie’s milk, taken when she lived near Millstone from the late 1990s until 2003, had elevated levels of strontium-90, as well as strontium-89 and cesium-137. All are potent carcinogens

     Katie was stricken with inoperable cancer and died on Sunday, August 12, 2012, at her Redding, Connecticut home.

     Katie became a news media celebrity when she first ventured to the State Capitol in 2006 for a press conference alongside her suckling kids, Cindy-Lu and Joe-Joe, after anti-nuclear activists became aware of the high concentrations of radioisotopes in her milk, as reported by Millstone’s owner, Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc., and its predecessor Northeast Utilities.

     Dr. Ernest Sternglass, eminent physicist who analyzed Katie’s milk sampling data and warned of its high radioactivity content, appears at 2006 press conference, here shaking paws with Katie’s son Joe-Joe.

    They had assured Katie’s owner that her milk was safe to drink; their environmental sampling reports containing the milk measurements had not been publicized but were buried in Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) basement archives.

     There is no federal or state standard for strontium-89 or strontium-90 levels in milk nor do federal regulations limit the volume of strontium-89 and strontium-90 that nuclear power plants may release to the environment, according to Nancy Burton, co-director of the Mothers Milk Project, which collects milk from dairy cows and goats as well as humans and has it tested for levels of radioactivity.

     Katie’s 2006 press conference on the lawn of the State Capitol, alongside her kids Cindu-Lu and Joe-Joe, forced then-Governor M. Jodi Rell to direct the state DEP to investigate the cause of high concentrations of strontium-90 in Katie’s milk.

     Then-DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy released a report absolving Millstone from any role in the milk poisoning but failed to provide a credible alternative explanation, Burton said.

     “Two qualified scientists studied the DEP report and rebuked it as junk science,” Burton said. Both experts tried to meet with the DEP authors of the study to correct what they perceived to be gross errors, but to no avail.

     (McCarthy later served as President Obama’s appointee as the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s assistant secretary for air and radiation, where her responsibilities included protecting the public from radiation hazards; she presently occupies the position of National Climate Advisor in the Biden Administration.)

       Katie’s milk was tested once she moved to Redding, which is located about 25 miles downwind from the Indian Point Nuclear Power Station in Buchanan NY. Frequently, radioactive strontium – both 89 and 90) was detected in her milk.

Katie in Redding with her caretaker, Nancy Burton

      Katie became a familiar presence at anti-Millstone rallies near Millstone and elsewhere around the state. She appeared next to Ralph Nader, longtime anti-nuclear advocate, in Willimantic. She offered up a sample of her milk at a “Clean Beaches” rally in East Lyme where activists gathered to protest Millstone waste discharges to Niantic Bay, a popular recreational site for swimmers. She wore a “Got Strontium?” sign at a rally supporting a Millstone whistleblower who was fired after reporting to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that Dominion routinely deliberately deactivated its perimeter security system after 9-11 to cut costs.

     Katie was diagnosed with inoperable soft tissue sarcoma in her left shoulder in February 2012. The medical condition is associated with radiation exposure, Burton said.

A Farewell Tour was planned.

      Katie returned to the State Capitol for a press conference. Though invited, Governor Dannel Malloy refused to meet Katie and his office issued a statement that he would not meet her in the future.

     Katie’s keeper, Burton, communicated with the First Family, asking it to adopt Dana Blue-Eyes, one of Katie’s granddaughters, to serve as a White House pet as well as an onsite radiation monitor.

     Through her press office, then-First Lady Michelle Obama replied:

“Dear Ms. Burton,
Thank you for your interest in the First Family. Your offer is extremely generous and seems like a fantastic opportunity, it is truly appreciated. Unfortunately, we are unable to satisfy your request. We apologize that we could not be more helpful. Again thank you so much for such a kind gesture. We wish you well in the future."

      Undeterred, Katie and 3-month-old Dana Blue-Eyes headed to Washington DC and strolled in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on March 11, attracting attention to issues of nuclear power hazards.


      Katie’s daughter, Cindy-Lu, who accompanied her to the State Capitol in in 2006, later had children of her own and donated milk to the Mothers Milk Project. Her milk frequently tested positive for strontium-89 and strontium-90.

Katie’s daughter Cindy-Lu, all grown up.

      Katie’s granddaughter, Dana Blue-Eyes, grew up and gave birth to Athena and Victoria, who followed in the Katie-the-Goat family tradition.
      Katie continues to inspire.

       Katie the Goat was recognized and remembered at a nationally-sponsored rally to end nuclear power and nuclear weapons at the U.S. Capitol on September 20, 2012.

     Nancy Burton, Katie’s caretaker, addressed the rally of C.A.N. (Coalition Against Nukes), telling national anti-nuclear leaders and grassroots activists gathered from across the country about Katie’s radiation monitoring near the Millstone and Indian Point nuclear power plants.

     Burton called on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to require nuclear power plant operators to allow the public to access real-time control room data of reactor radioactive emissions to the air and water..

     To date, the NRC refuses to do so; it prefers to keep the public in the dark about radiation in the air we breathe.

     Other speakers included Jim Riccio, nuclear policy analyst for Greenpeace, Diane D’Arrigo, of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Fukushima native Iori Mochizuki, Kendra Ulrich of Friends of the Earth, Robert Tohe of the Sierra Club, Kristin Iverson, author of Full Body Burden, and many others.

     The rally kicked off a major three-day event including a Congressional briefing on defective nuclear power plants led by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and an “Occupy the NRC” protest at the NRC headquarters.

      Would you like to have your goat’s milk or breast milk tested for strontium-90 and strontium-89?

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