DOE Shield DOE Openness: Human Radiation Experiments: Roadmap to the Project
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The Department of Energy Roadmap
to the Story and the Records

United States Department of Energy
Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety, and Health
February 1995


List of Photographs
Chapter 1. Overview of the DOE Project
DOE Archives and Records
DOE Strategy for Finding Experiment Information
Information as an Engine for Democratic Government
Looking Forward
Chapter 2. Narratives and Records Series Descriptions
DOE Predecessor Agencies and Human Radiation Experimentsation: A Headquarters Overview
Argonne National Laboratory
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Hanford Sites
Idaho Sites
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Oak Ridge Sites
University of Chicago
University of Rochester
National Archives and Records Administration
Radiation, Biomedical Science, and Isotope Distribution
Human Plutonium Injection Experiments
Environmental Releases of Radiation
Chapter 3. Human Radiation Experiments Associated with DOE or Predecessor Agencies
Criteria for Listing Experiments
Basic Categories of Human Radiation Experiments
The Process of Identifying Experiments
Summarizing and Listing Experiments
Plutonium Injection Experiments
Argonne National Laboratory
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Hanford Sites
Idaho Sites
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Oak Ridge Sites
University of Chicago--Argonne Cancer Research Hospital
University of Rochester


Abbreviations and Acronyms
Radiation Terms
List of Experiments from American Nuclear Guinea Pigs: Three Decades of Radiation Experiments on U.S. Citizens (Markey Report)
Select Bibliography

List of Photographs

1. Wright Langham being placed in the first whole body radiation counter at Los Alamos
2. Medical activities at Brookhaven National Laboratory (circa 1965)
3. A horizontal rotational scanner used to detect the quantity and distribution of radiation in the body
4. Los Alamos chemist Wright Langham and a "plastic man" used to simulate human radiation exposures
5. A whole bdody counter (circa 1964) at the Berkeley Donner Laboratory. Such counters were used in human radiation tracer studies and for measuring AEC worker radiation exposure
6. Oak Ridge National Laboratory workers turning in their pocket dosimeters (circa 1950). Various types of dosimeters were worn by workers to measure radiation doses and prevent excessive exposure.
7. A positron emitter detector at Brookhaven National Laboratory (circa 1965).
8. Early treatment for Parkinson's disease at the Berkeley Donner Laboratory (circa 1965)
9. Donner Laboratory carbon-14 metabolic study apparatus.
10. Oak Ridge National Laboratory workers checking for radioactive contaminants (circa 1950).
11. Oak Ridge technicians measuring air monitor samples for radiation.
12. Brookhaven National Laboratory used "phantoms" such as the mannequin on this wheeled table to approximate human radiation exposures
13. A Brookhaven technician demonstrating fast-neutron detection equipment
14. Brookhaven Low-Level Whole Body Counting Facility (circa 1968).
15. A patient prepared for treatment with charged atomic particles at Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (now Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory)
16. Clinical test of an artificial kidney developed by Argonne National Laboratory (circa 1970).
17. A subscale model of the nuclear reactor used for medical research and treatment at Brookhaven National Laboratory
18. A patient receiving treatment at Brookhaven Medical Department Hospital (circa 1961).
19. Study of carbohydrate-lipid metabolism at Brookhaven.
20. A parkinsonian patient (left) before and during administration of L-dopa at Brookhaven. Radioactive materials were useful in the development of L-dopa
21. A facility at Hanford for treating persons injured by embedded radioactive particles (circa 1967). In this shielded operating cell, a mock patient is flanked by a surgeon (right) and a radiation monitor (left).
22. A Richland, WA, child participating in a program to measure radiation typically present in the body. This 1960s project took place at Pacific Northwest Laboratory.
23. Measuring intentional radiation release at the Idaho experimental dairy farm (1964).
24. A mobile whole body counter (1966).
25. Respiration analysis using injected radioactive tracers at Donner Laboratory (circa 1968).
26. A patient under a positron camera. The camera was a diagnostic tool developed at Donner Laboratory, Berkeley, to photograph radioactive tracer concentrations. Unlike a whole body scanner, this device photographs a single, specific area of the body.
27. A kidney examination using a scintillation camera at Donner Laboratory, Berkeley
28. Early use of a Geiger-Mhller counter to test thyroid function at Lawrence Radiation Laboratory
29. A conventional whole body counter (circa 1964).
30. Wright Langham (left) introduces the "plastic man" to Los Alamos Director Norris Bradbury. The figure was used to simulate human radiation exposures.
31. A whole body radiation counter at Los Alamos (circa 1958).
32. A counter being used at Los Alamos to measure plutonium in the lung.
33. An Oak Ridge National Laboratory employee having a blood test to detect radiation exposure (circa 1950).
34. Aerial view of the Oak Ridge XB10 facility (1945), which served as a pilot for the Hanford plutonium production reactors. After World War II, the facility produced isotopes for national distribution
35. Oak Ridge health physics technicians monitoring a cafeteria for radiation.
36. Cobalt-60 teletherapy conducted for cancer treatment at the Oak Ridge Institute for Nuclear Science (1972)
37. The automatic contouring system used at Argonne Cancer Research Hospital to determine how much radiation will penetrate to cancer tumors
38. An AEC inspector checking radiation equipment for safety at Oakland Navy Hospital (circa 1973)
39. Joseph Hamilton (left) conducting one of the first isotope metabolism studies during the 1930s. The study took place at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (now Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory).
40. Oak Ridge technicians reading dosimeters to detect worker radiation exposures.
41. An Oak Ridge isotope worker (right) and a health physics technician (circa 1950)
42. Isotope processing buildings, Oak Ridge.
43. Production of isotopes at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ca. 1946
44. Measuring beta radiation from a sample of phosphorus-32 at Oak Ridge
45. Early method of handling radioactive sources at Los Alamos
46. Experimental cardiac pacemaker powered by plutonium, ca. 1968
47. Telegram from University of Rochester notifying Los Alamos of three plutonium injections, 1945
48. Plutonium separation building (Acanyon@) at Hanford
49. (top and bottom) A Los Alamos Radioactive Lanthanum (RaLa) test in Bayo Canyon.
50. Measuring intentional radiation releases at the Idaho experimental dairy farm (circa 1964).
51. Checking radioactivity after a Controlled Environmental Radioiodine Test (CERT) in 1966
52. A nuclear reactor sitting on a test cell pad prior to preliminary tests at the Nevada Test Site (circa 1968). This Phoebus 2 design was part of the Rover project to develop a nuclear-propelled rocket capable of interplanetary travel.
53. Separating radioactive carbon from material bombarded in the Oak Ridge nuclear reactor
54. The first patient to receive boron neutron capture therapy at Brookhaven National Laboratory (1951). The patient is under the blanket visible in the mirror (top center).
55. Diagnostic test of iodine-131 thyroid uptake at Brookhaven National Laboratory.


On December 7,1993, U.S. Secretary of Energy Hazel R. O'Leary announced her Openness Initiative; the scope of its ramifications has only begun to become fully apparent in the succeeding year. The determination to conduct the public's business in an open and fully accountable manner has required profound change in an agency whose institutional birth was in the most secret of wartime programs, the Manhattan Project.

Over the past several decades, the American people's trust in our institutions of government has greatly eroded. Many complex factors have contributed to this erosion, not least among them the secrecy associated with our Cold War nuclear competition with the Soviet Union. Without judging the historical necessity of secrecy, and in recognition that even today some activities require national security classification, it is a fact that the ability of the Government to perform its post-Cold War missions is greatly impeded by pervasive public distrust of its motives and competence. The commitment to openness, of which this project is a very visible element, is a deliberate effort to rebuild that basic level of trust between the American people and their government that is necessary for a democracy to function.

Well over 200 people in Washington, D.C. and around the country have devoted all or most of their time during the past year to the effort to find, declassify if necessary, evaluate, and make publicly accessible and usable the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) records related to human experimentation with radiation. This project extends beyond the records of the experiments themselves to include records in the custody of DOE and important private institutions that illuminate the considerations that drove human-subject research. It has called on the expertise of historians, archivists, health professionals, declassifiers, records managers, lawyers, and researchers of various kinds. In addition, the advice and comments of a number of academic and government historians and archivists has been sought and is gratefully acknowledged. While the work is still ongoing, it has reached a stage at which substantial progress can be reported, as it is in the following pages.

It would be unrealistic to imagine that we will ever find every document that bears on the story of human radiation experimentation in which the Manhattan Project, the Atomic Energy Commission, and DOE have been involved, considering that 3.2 million cubic feet of records still survive in dozens of locations from coast to coast, many of which are poorly catalogued, if at all. The goal of this publication is not to have the final word, but to leave behind a roadmap that will enable the public, historians, and policy makers, as well as those who participated in experiments as subject or researcher, to come to a better understanding of this aspect of the history of the atomic age.

For me and those with whom I have been privileged to work, this has been an opportunity to contribute to our country's understanding of its past and transition to its future. My sincere gratitude is extended to all of those who helped, from Washington to Berkeley and many points between.

Ellyn R. Weiss, Director
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Human Radiation Experiments
February 1995


THESE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS must begin with Secretary Hazel R. O'Leary, who conceived this project and whose personal commitment to openness ensured that the necessary resources and attention were always forthcoming. Dr. Tara O'Toole, Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health, generously shared her expertise and provided a strong and supportive administrative environment.

We also gratefully acknowledge the help of Glenn Podonsky, Lesley Gasperow, Sandra Fox, Virginia Johnson, and the staff of the Office of Security Evaluations; Martha DeMarre, Fanny Bryant, and the staff of the Coordination and Information Center; and Norma Wilson, Becky Dobbs, and others from Pacific Northwest Laboratory. Loretta Hefner of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, along with an able and eager staff, provided invaluable assistance.

This work could not have been accomplished without the support and coordination of the primary DOE field and laboratory contacts: Jack Bartley, Bruce Church, Max Creamer, Richard Dickson, Barbara Fitzgerald, Shirley Fry, Ken Groves, Erskine Hicks, Ed Jascewsky, Ralph Kopenhaver, Deborah Maresca, Alan McMillan, Thomas Row, Gene Runkel, Gary Sanders, Robert Schlenker, Yvonne Sherman, L.P. Singh, Judy Stroud, James Ware, and Michael Yesley.

The project also recognizes the important contributions of the following people:

  • Dave Anglen
  • Tom L. Baccus, Trina Baker, Neil Barss, Robert Baumgardner, Tom Bell, Anna Berge, Barton Bernstein, Gabrielle Boudreau, Barbara Brooks, Peter Brush, Joanne Burrows
  • Pepin Carolan, Nong Chen, Marjorie Ciarlante, Carolyn Clark, Margo J. Clark, Lynn V. Cline, Frank Cooling, Jim Cooper, Jeannie Cuevas
  • Cheryl Dawson, Ross Decker, Denise Diggin, Jerry Dummer
  • Connie Eimer, Patricia Barbosa-Ekman
  • Dion Farganis, Lenora Flowers, Guy Fringer
  • Steve Galson, Vanessa Gamble, Michael Giberson, Robert Gruber, Paul Guthals
  • Bart Hacker, Perry Hall, Hal Halpern, Victoria Harden, Zena Hardin, Pat Heinig, Roger Heusser, Richard Hewlett, Karen Holmes, Mary Hones, Thomas Hudson
  • Bruce Jones, Pat Jones, Rick Jones, Geoffrey Judge
  • Bonnie Kapus, Hannah King, Judy Krumm, Tom Kunkle
  • Robert Landazuri, Georgette Lane, Lowell Langford, Marsha Lawn
  • Robert Martensen, Brian Martin, Priscilla McMillan, Carol McKay, Roger Meade, Bill Moss
  • Jerome Nashorn, Gary Novak
  • Rick Oborn, John Ost
  • John Parascandola, Gayle Peters, Don Peterson
  • Charles Reeves, Dan Reicher, Chris Reilly, David Rothman, William G. Rothstein, Carol Rueter
  • Shannon Savage, Jeanne Schauble, Berta Schreiber, Pat Schuette, Marion B. Scroger, GayLa Sessoms, Mike Smith, Lynne Snyder, Heather Stockwell, John Stoner, Susan Storch, Cliff Strader
  • Dennis Trailor
  • George Voelz
  • Samuel Walker, Mary Ann Wallace, Denise Walters, Ashleigh Waring, Spencer Weart, Suzanne White
  • Jeanne Young
  • Nancy Zinn, Steve Zobel, Mark Zweifel.

Thanks also are due to the staffs of R.O.W. Sciences, Inc., and COMPA Industries, Inc.