Criticizes Therapy Practiced at ORNL's Total-Body Irradiation Facilities
|YUFFEE:||In terms of other researchers, could you tell us if you know anything about other research activities at Oak Ridge, maybe by people such
as Gould Andrews and Marshall Brucer?
||MORGAN:|| Marshall has recently deceased [(1994)] and Gould [has been deceased] for a long time. I think the principal culprit is still alive,
||CAPUTO:|| We've spoken to him.
||MORGAN:|| He was a former friend of mine. I don't hate him, but I don't like what he did. My religion tells me not to hate anyone. What would you
like to know about it?
||YUFFEE:|| Do you know of any specific research activities of Gould Andrews, for example?
||MORGAN:|| I knew Gould Andrews quite well. We belonged to some of the
same committees, and I was with him overseas on several occasions. Of course, in
Oak Ridge, we helped with the dosimetry there (at ORINS).37 We had
nothing to do with the instigation and planning of any of their studies. We did
help them somewhator quite a bit, I guessin some of the
calculations, because I had some of the best physicists in the world in my
group. We helped them with dosimetry with the instruments, so that they could
get much more precise data relating the syndrome to the radiation dose.
During that periodthis is not long before I left Oak Ridge, before
I retired in 1972, Septemberafter 1955it's quite a bit after that,
probably was in the '60sI visited there at the invitation of Gould. I
visited the facility and saw what they called the "radiation rooms." I
call them "radiation chambers" now, thinking of what went on under the
human devil named Hitler. There I saw how they raised sources to the ceiling and
the walls and the floor. I was quite satisfied with the safety and the
arrangement (as far as the workers were concerned) and how to get [the
radiation] back in the containers, pneumatically.38 I was satisfied
with the instrumentation of estimating the dose at the various chairs and cots
in the two rooms.
Then, later on, my former Sunday school teacher[, Jim Fisher from
Salisbury, North Carolina,] was one of the patients there. He came, and he
looked to be in rather vigorous health [when he entered]. I was amazed at his
demise [once treatment was underway]. Shortly afterwards, he died. I was very naïve.
I guess I was too concerned looking after the research of well over 100 people
and trying to protect the people from our operations at Oak Ridge to question,
in any detail, the program they were doing [at Andrews' facility].
|CAPUTO:||Which program was this? Was this the METBI?39
||MORGAN:|| I don't recall the names of the other people, for certain. I
could guess at them, but I'd rather not. I know Marshall Brucer was there. I
know, of course, because Marshall and Gould were rather close friends of mine at
the time. I met the other doctors there, and I have heard of them since, but
since I don't keep anything in writing, it's only in my head, I don't recall any
names of other doctors [doing their treatments].
||YUFFEE:|| This would be the total-body irradiation studies?
||MORGAN:|| There were two rooms.
||CAPUTO:|| The medium-exposure [irradiator room].
||MORGAN:|| Right; they had code names for them and I could perhaps
recall them, but I won't bother since I'm sure you know them. If I were in my
office, at a thumb's distance I could put pick up a pamphlet and tell you the
names of the other people there, but it wouldn't be from memory; it would be
only from what I read now.
Anyway, I was familiar with the fact that they had these exposure areas. I
was very interested that my Sunday school teacher was there, whom I had the
highest regard for. But I was very depressed that his [disease] seemed to
progress much more rapidly than I would have expected from my meager reading of
Most of the cases [at the facility] were leukemiaI think primarily
three types of leukemia. At that time, I and my groupand that included
particularly Sam Hurst and Rufus Richey, and later a few others tried to
evaluate all radiation accidents. Had there been an accident or were there an
accident anywhere in the world, my phone would ring shortly afterwards. Usually
I would be urged to catch the plane and get there immediately. Such as Windscale40
and the accident in Yugoslavia, and the accident at Idaho Falls, and so
forth. "SL-1" they called it [(the Idaho Falls accident)].41
Here in Oak Ridge, we had this facility, of which I was quite proud, and
thought that they were using the kind of [unorthodox] treatment, for example,
[that had been] applied [in Paris] to the young lady who was the first victim
that I knew of out of the country, in Yugoslavia. You remember, she was sitting
there at the control panel of the reactor. Everything had gone so well, and it's
very boring to sit there with nothing to do. She was studying English, of all
things; trying to improve on her English. This darned old Geiger counter on the
wall was clicking away, and that day it was particularly worrisome, and it had
been doing [this clicking] for quite a while.
So[, convinced the counter was malfunctioning], they went about their
work, paying no attention to counter, when suddenly a health physicistI
forget his name nowcame in the door. Fortunately, as all good health
physicists do, he had his Geiger counter turned on as he walked through the
facility. As he approached the room, his Geiger counter went wild, and when he
opened the door it was clicking like madalmost blocked out. Of course,
then everybody in the room ran out, because they knew that their Geiger
counter wasn't foolingthat they were the fools.
None of the othersI've never heard or tried to follow up on what
happened to them, only this one young lady. Our group did determine the dose
they received. [We made our determination] from the activation of sodium-24 in
the blood and sulfur activation, producing, as we discussed earlier, the
phosphorus in the hair: from getting hair samples, [taken from] different parts
of the body, you can determine the distribution, geographical distribution of
the dose [throughout the body], and so forth.
But this woman was treated locally there, at the [Yugoslav] hospital,
but with no success whatever, and moved to Paris, where Drs. Bugnard and Jamet
were the two principal doctors on the case. There was another [doctor]; I can't
remember his name. They treated this patient with what they called the "push-pull"
methodthat is, where the [bone marrow] donor and the patient lay
side-by-side on cots. They push the needle into the sternum42 of the
donor and immediately into the patient that had been exposed. As with all exotic
treatments, she deceased. I don't know whether it's proper to say that the
person died or not. One doesn't like to think there is such a thing, I guess.
Anyway, I was aware of all of this. I was aware of the treatments that
had been proposed [by some at Oak Ridge] and then studied on the animals, and
the failures that we'd had, especially this particular failure case [of my
former teacher]. I suppose I just took for granted, since Gould was director of
that lab,43 that his subordinates there would follow all these same
procedures. Of course, we knew that if you destroy the active bone marrow,
sometimes called red marrow, in a patient, the reticuloendothelial system44
no longer existsthe immune system's goneand you have to be
very meticulous not to allow a single germ to get anywhere near these patients.
You had to follow it with a protective regimen.
Some regimens seem to hold promise for animals. A few cases [show] very
encouraging promise on animals. But, at that time, I knew of no real studies
that made me jump up and down with enthusiasm for studies on humans. For the
most part, the studies had been very discouraging using radiation. So, I did not
question it entirely because of my respect [for] and knowledge of Gould and what
I felt was his ethical standard.45 Then, after I left Oak Ridge and
became a Professor at Georgia Tech, I was appalled to read in the news and Mother
Jones Journal,46 I believe was the name of one of the journals,
about a little boy who was brought there with high hopes of the mother and
fairly good status at the time, though he had a fairly advanced case of leukemiaI
don't remember, was it myelogenous?47
|CAPUTO:|| That's the Sexton case.
||YUFFEE:|| I think it was myelogenous.
||MORGAN:|| Well, that, of course, is very definitely [a case of human
experimentation] associated with radiation as one of the primary causes [of
death], and so I would [consider this defective] treatment if the proper
procedures hadn't been followed.
Then at that time, in Mother Jones, I read some of it and then I
testified [on behalf of the little boy] later on in Oak Ridge in the case before
our Vice President.48 We won the case scientifically, but [then-U.S.
Representative Al Gore] decided the case politically, as most politicians are
supposed to do. They're not supposed to help people but to help their jobs, I
guess, to help politics. So that was the way it was decided.
It was very evident to me that there were irregularities, very serious
irregularities in that case. I mentioned earlier that you should fight to keep
the last germ out of the facility, and when I testified under oath, [I stated
that] I had learned that they were hauling animal droppings from mice, dogs, and
rabbits through the same facility. I could not believe that such a thing went
on! I heard this very often [and] that [the expected] follow-up treatments were
not carried out.
Of course, I've heard about some other stories since then. More recently
my wife and I [went to the door when] our doorbell rang. Mr. Litton and his wife
came to our door in Oak Ridge. I don't know whether you've met him yet or not.
He told of an awful case of his father, how he was treated there. He was in
fairly good health when he went there, and they felt encouraged that it was so
near where they lived. I think they lived down near Oliver Springs[, Tennessee,]
at the timea few miles out of the city limits of Oak Ridge. So they
brought him there. They thought it might help his case, cause some recession of
the pain he was having.
He died very shortly after coming there and [going downhill] physically,
very rapidly. He [(the deceased patient's son)] got hold of some of the dose
records and [discovered that] they went eventually up into the thousands of
roentgen. (Maybe I'd better switch over to units of rads now, or sieverts,49
if you prefer.) They went up into the thousands of these units. I was
just appalled at what he told. It's a very pathetic case.
I heard of other cases, and I think the case of Clarence Lushbaugh's
treatment of humans as guinea pigs and Eugene Saengers at the hospital in
Cincinnati are some of the most terrible human studies I ever heard of other
than those that took place in Germany, and a few in Japan I've heard [that took
place] during the war. I was very disgusted when I read in the Oak Ridger
some time back, a few months ago, about a womanyou mentioned her name
earlierthat worked with Gould Andrews and with Lushbaugh.
Hidden Military Funding to Explore Radiological Warfare During the Cold War
||YUFFEE:|| Or the Sexton case, the mother of the boy.
||MORGAN:|| Not necessarily, but there now, you said [you] interviewed
her, I think.
||CAPUTO:|| Helen Vodopick?51
||MORGAN:|| Vodopick had a little article in the Oak Ridger
stating that the monies they got from the Pentagon were all minuscule, very
small. As you say, to start with, you're interested in getting the facts, and I
wouldn't talk to you a moment unless I took for granted that you are [interested
in the facts]. If you're here only to protect, as has always been the case in
the past, to protect the past actions of the DOE, you might as well leave and
||CAPUTO:|| (smiling) We're "reinventing government."
||MORGAN:|| If you're trying to get the facts, I would urge you to look
at the [research] budget and find how much came from the Pentagon. She
[(Vodopick)] said, according to this article, the amount they got from the
military was insignificant. I think she put in her denominator,52 "the
cost of building the hospital." If I put infinity in the denominator of any
equation, the answer is zero! So it approached zero, according to her. So, if
you haven't [determined the amount of money the Pentagon put into this program],
I would urge you to do that. If any good comes out my discussion here and you do
that, I'll be proud of having talked with you. But I doubt if that has been, to
the present moment. But if it was only a few pennies that the military put in
it, let's forget it. But if they put as much as 10 percent or even 5 percent[I
believe the guilty person should be punished].
||CAPUTO:|| I heard 10 percent as the figure.
||MORGAN:|| Let's get the figures; lets see the numbers. I mean, this
isn't some profound research like we did earlier at Oak Ridge! This is something
that even I can doand I don't have a degree in Business Administration. I
don't understandmaybe it's been done and you just haven't come across the
figures. You ought to know to the penny how much came from the Pentagon and how
much from [Oak Ridge] Associated Universities.53 Because that [figure] is
being used to show that it was no problem.
The real problem is that during that whole period, I got [many] letters,
and I got visits, from not just [from] the two Warrensmostly from Stafford
Warren, not so much Shields at the timeurging me to talk to any military
officer, any official after showing appropriate identification, on the
concurrent use of radioisotopes in warfare, along with various chemicals. I
visited Dugway [Proving Grounds54 in Utah] and I had discussions with
many officers and people from Washington [regarding how enemy forces would react
were they exposed to high doses of radiation from radionuclides (mostly fission
Of course, I had numerous discussions with my friend Stafford Warren at
the time. I don't want to get the two Warren's mixed up: Shields is a very
wonderful person, with a high level of integrity and morals. I never had reason
to question it of the other Warren, but he was a typical military type, [who
believed] that military answers are the important thing.
You know, [it's] on the record that the [AEC's] directors of Health
Physics and Biology and Medicine met about four to six times a year at one of
the sites. So, [during] the 29 years [Iwas at ORNL], if you multiply that by
four, you see I had over a hundred meetings with people, many of which both
Warrens attended. People like Wright Langham at Los Alamos and people like, say,
Hurst at Rochester, John Rhodes at Argonne, and later, of course, others from
other places [such as Los Alamos, Rocky Flats, Brookhaven, Chalk River, Canada
and Harwell, England], and even later from Savannah River.55
At these meetings, we discussed the urgent need for human data. I did
the earliest extensive studies in trying to calculate acceptable levels for,
especially, the bone seekers, like strontium, plutonium, and americium, curium,
and phosphorus. But we had very little data on living organisms. Some data on
rats, dogs, and mice. When I made calculations for the first [MPC (maximum
permissible concentration)] level for plutonium, I had to use three rats that
had been experimented with by Joe Hamilton at Berkeley. At these, in the
neighborhood of one hundred different meetings I attended through the years,
staff meetings at the various sites, there were papers given mostly at eachlocal facilitysay, at Rochester, Berkeley, or Los Alamos, or whatnot [and
many of them related to how humans responded following accidents with
radionuclides and the urgency to have more data on the human response to high
levels of radiation exposure].
The research they were doing in other places was discussed. We'd brought
in people from the UK56 and from Canadaalways there from Chalk
River57 to discuss all the data that seemed to be pertinent to
our problems. Where do these radionuclides go [in the human body]? What effect?
And now the military was getting involved, we were in the real war; I'm moving
up a few years. Germany had surrendered, maybe even if you'd like, Japan has
already surrendered. (Whoawe're getting into the middle period!) They were
very much concerned about the radiation syndrome in reference to humans.
I adamantly refused to consider any human studies. I think [Alex]
Hollaender did exactly the same. I doubt that anyone else at the Laboratory
would have any interest or any knowledge [regarding human guinea pig] studies. I
think I can say it's extremely unlikely that anyone at the Laboratory had any
part in human guinea pig studies. I'm sure that I did not, other than
what we mentioned, which was inadvertently [when] we got mixed up in something
we pulled out of [it] rather quickly. You can confirm this with Bernard and
Struxness if you like. [Later I tried to get Dr. Sweet at Boston General
Hospital to limit his human exposures to the MPC of uranium we were using at
ORNL because the high levels he was using damaged the kidneys of his patients
and compromised the data we were seeking.]
I had numerous visits from these military [officials] and
others. The discussion went on at all these meetings, both meetings on the stage
[in panel discussions] and maybe in a bar, when we would relax. After a meeting
that lasted eight hours during the day, we might sit down and have a beer. We
would discuss various studies that were going on throughout the world. I
remembered, in one case, somebody had read a paper from the Soviet Union. (I
can't translate Russian.) They found that plutonium has a fairly high
concentration in the gonads [so we considered lowering the MPC value for 239Pu
by a factor of 100 for genetic reasons].
Now we're in the middle of the Cold War, and our real enemy was the
Soviet Union, and we thought that maybe the Cold War might spread to Austria,
Hungary, and Poland. [If you were a civilized soldier], you didn't want to
destroy those beautiful cathedrals and places of ancient art, and some places
there go back in early history, which I won't go into. So the conversation was
radionuclides[or] waste fission products seem to be the answer [for killing or
encumbering people while sparing buildings].
Not only for that, but for security: to know what the Soviets were
doing. We did some studies, and we did calculations on what you could find in
the rivers, lakes, and oceans to determine the kind of reactors they had. What
was going on with their neutrons, their uranium separation plants? It's
remarkable what we could get from scattered pieces of information.
For my part, the most concern was the radiation syndrome.58 I did
something I'm very embarrassed that I did, and I'd never think of doing again. I
consented to do studies on monkeys and baboons. So we conducted a long series on
those primates, but never on homo sapiensI never would even think
about that as a possibility. I knew what had been done on prisoners, using
radium and things of that sort that I'd heard about, and some suggestions of
what maybe Joe Hamilton and cohorts might have done at Berkeley. I think I can
speak for my deceased friend Alex Hollaender: he and I would never even think of
human studies. There is no one else at the Laboratory that I think would even be
concerned about or interested in it or have any knowledge of such studies [on
My visits to Dugway and my discussions with these people, [were spent]
trying to find out, for example, "If we dropped a nuclear weapon over some
city in the Soviet Union and the plane didn't quite get out of the fireball
area, the cloud, could they get the plane back to base, or should they abort the
plane and bail out and destroy the instruments on the plane?" [Or,] "If
we drop these fission products over a city in the Soviet Union, how soon
afterwards could our troops get in?" and "Suppose they got ten rads"now
we're up to rads from roentgen, we're not [chronologically] at sieverts and so
on yet"If they got ten rads, could they march back to base, or could
they drive the Jeep, could they operate this bulldozer and this other equipment?"
There was very intense interrogation of myself in particular, in health
physics, on what could be done. I'm sure Hollaender and others, and many in his
division [(Biology)] were questioned on this. I had a few biologists [in my
Health Physics Division], but I don't recall now what [the military people] may
have discussed with them
Here we are with this pressure, tremendous pressure, to get information
[that could be used for tactical and strategic radiation warfare]. "We're
spreading these fission products out over, say, twenty square miles," [the
military officials would say to us;] "There's a beautiful cathedral in the
center here, but the Russian troops are all completely in the area. We want to
get rid of them." Or maybe, "There is a plant producing nuclear
weapons, that's [at] full production. We'd like to run those guys out with a
little longer-lived radioactive material."
So we discussed the use of barium, lanthanum, and things of this sort.
We were shipping large quantities [of 140Ba and 140La] to Los Alamos at the
time. So we knew that [option] was available, up to at least one hundred
thousand curies of barium and lanthanum. It was made-to-order because we had a
large cross-section for production [of radionuclides] in reactorseven in
our little baby reactor at Oak Ridge. So this pressure was on.
Atmospheric Releases of Short-Lived Isotopes Over Grazing Pastures
|YUFFEE:||Is this what led to doing basic rad warfare59 studies
at Oak Ridge?
||MORGAN:|| No[, we never did
any rad warfare studies in Oak Ridge]; I
can get to that if you want to ask the question later. I cannot prove, but I
would say in my mind there's 99 percent belief of certainty that the intentional
release of over one hundred [thousand] curies at Hanford was part of this same
program [to test the use of radionuclides in warfare].
||YUFFEE:|| The Green Run?60
||MORGAN:|| I had no proof of it. I knew many of the people there. I
visited Hanford many times. I've attended these meetings. I had scores of
meetings with military people. Francis Davis and Paul Reindhart in my group were
the ones who developed this aircraft technique of finding sources [of
radioactivity] when you fly over them.
Incidentally, Oak Ridge is accused of spreading radioisotopes in the area
and flying over them. Well, what we spread was solid sources, of course, that
were carefully taken out of lead containers that weighed maybe a half a ton to
two tons. The lid was taken off [the container] with a backhoe device,61 like
a bulldozer, and the source was lifted out very carefully and set on the ground
in a place that was marked with red stripes or white stripes. Then over here
(holds out his arm), three hundred yards [away], was another white
stripe [where we] did the same thing.
Francis Davis and Paul Reindhart flew over these areas with the
instruments they had developed, and in so doing, they developed this technique,
which became so useful to the DOE.
In the earlier days, I used to have friends in the Department of Energy.
I doubt if I have a single one there today, except maybe the director
[(Secretary O'Leary)] would not consider me as an enemy, maybe even a friend. I
have not gone along with the cover-up [of the AEC's and DOE's sanctioning of
human radiation experiments]. I've not hesitated, sometimes, to crack the closet
[of secrecy] where you can sort of peep in and see the "skeletons"
hanging there [the wrongdoings of the AEC and DOE]. At times I did two or three
things that I should not have done. I did not intentionally lose my job at Oak
Ridge [by going pubic with what we were doing]. I should have done it, maybe.
One time I did not intentionally lose my job, but I think it probably was right
because it would have divulged the trigger mechanisms of our weapon, had I done
so. On many occasions, even at Oak Ridge, I was on one side of the battlefield
and the engineers on the other with their monitors [or umpires][Al]
Weinberg, [Eugene] Wigner,62 or [Martin] Whittakerin-between.
Anyway, in the very early period at Hanford, you'll recall, they had a
terrible problem. [Manhattan Engineer District Commander General Leslie R.]
Groves was pushing Hanford, "Get that stuff up to Los Alamos as quick as
you can "63 the cooling time64 maybe now is a
hundred days"Let's get it down to fifty, maybe even forty,"
since they were taking all sorts of risks. As we all know, there are a number of
radioisotopes of iodine [that have] half-lives much shorter than the 8-day
iodine-131 we all hear about. Some of them have [half-lives of] days and hours
and minutes and seconds. Then [if they reduced the cooling time of the uranium
slugs before they were dissolved in acid, the plutonium could be delivered
earlier to Los Alamos (and please General Groves) but much more radioiodine
would escape into the Hanford environment. Too often, Groves won in this contest
and gravestones were erected in the cemeteries at an earlier date].
Developing a Chemical Dissolving Process to Remove Iodine From the
Irradiated Uranium Slugs
| MORGAN:|| But anyway, the temptation was to get this stuff to Los
Alamos as quick as you could. That meant, then, releasing [from the facility]
clouds of iodine and other radioactive materials of relatively short half-life;
and the one that was most well-documented, of course, was iodine-131[, with an]
eight-day half-life, roughly. At our staff meetings and meetings I had when I
visited HanfordI visited there many times other than the staff meetingswe
had a great problem of how to get this iodine out [of the stream before venting
the offgas to the outside air] and prevent if from getting out into the
In retrospect, some things they did sound ridiculous; they even used water
showers, like running [the offgas] through showers. Of course, that took a lot
of it out, but not very much [to make a difference, from a public-safety
standpoint]. [The radioiodine] would have occluded65 on water drops [in
clouds] and come out [to the ground the next time it rained].
They tried limestone, and silver worked real well. They used [silver] in
different forms, but you'll recall at Oak Ridge [the] Y-12 [facility] used most
of the silver from the U.S. mints, in their initial electrical conductors. Now,
they needed even more than that at Hanford. Just think of the cost! And when
you're in a hurry to get this in the right form, what you want is to make your
[absorbing] area [as large as possible]ideally you'd want [the airborne
water droplets and your silver absorption material to consist of] small, round
particles, where your ratio of area to volume is at a maximum.66 You
see, if your radius is close to zero, your area[-to-volume ratio] approaches
infinitytheoretically, of course. When you put silver in that form, it'll
go right on out [into the atmosphere when you vent], and you'll be throwing away
all the silver in the mint! So there were a lot of practical problems using
Cryogenics67 worked nicely, but are [we] going to wait months
to build a great huge cryogenic plant to do this? Well, that was out of the
Finally, it turned out, as I [recall]and this is all
recollections, I might be wrongthey finally ended up with copper in
certain physical forms, which worked very well. That partially solved the
I'm not saying that in the chemical-dissolving facility, they took all
the iodine out, but they reduced the releases per week from maybe a hundred
thousand curies to maybe only ten, twenty, fifty, getting down into what they
considered a lower range. That was unavoidable [(releases of iodine)]: We had to
do something about that maniac in Europe [(Hitler)] and win the war. So we had
to get this plutonium to Los Alamos [even if we cause more thyroid carcinomas in
the downwind populations].
And they were already finding out problems with the plutonium weapon,
you remember. You can't use the cannon technique we used with uranium. (It's
nice to be able to talk [about these] things without [having to show] your
credentials!) At that time, we knew that we could not use the cannon device at
Alamogordo.68 At Alamogordo, and later, unfortunately, at Nagasaki
[we used an implosion device].
These unfortunate releases took place, and I was not too concerned
because I was interested in winning the war. I was willing to risk a possible
few lives or a thousand cancers, to keep Hitler from dropping nuclear weapons on
New York and Washington, Chicago, and eventually on Oak Ridge. I had my fallout
shelter, and so did most of my senior scientists in the division. Though I was
concerned [about] this fallout and [about the pressing need] to get the
plutonium to Los Alamos in a hurry, I was not too concerned [with the thyroid
cancers if this helped us win the war].
But later, when I heard of the intentional release that [had taken]
place at the times when I visited Dugway, and when I had these visits [from
military officials] about how beautiful it would be to use fission products
concurrently with chemicals[, I was very upset]. In my mindI can't prove
itthe only reason for releasing the hundred or more thousand curies of
iodine later on was to answer this question that had been proposed to me, [i.e.,
is it feasible to use radioisotopes as an adjunct to chemical warfare]. I see no
admission of this by the military or by the DOE, or any records I've seen, but
in my mind's eye. To change it, you'll have to show me some hard data to the