Plans Laid for Atmospheric Releases of Radioisotopes
|CAPUTO:||We've learned that the main reason for the 1949 release of
iodine at Hanford was that Russia had just exploded "Little Joe,"69
and the military wanted the means to figure how we, [the U.S.], could know
what Russia was doing. We had to be able to analyze fallout to know what Russia
[was up to], and that was the main purpose behind the Green Run.
||MORGAN:|| Well, of course you don't take [to] court [what I'm saying]
as fact. [I can't prove the Green Run was to find out the feasibility of using
radionuclides as an adjunct to chemical warfare, but I have many reasons to
consider this as fact].
I think they were planning this all along. Herb Parker might have been at
Dugway when I was there, I don't know. He probably was. But I know there was
great urgency to get the information I've just discussed. I know about what you
just mentioned here, and that's, of course, what would be nice to release as a
cause. I hope you won't take that as necessarily something that blots out what
probably was the real fact.
|YUFFEE:|| There was nothing similar to a Green Run at Oak Ridge? Was
there a release of the same, not necessarily the same magnitude, but of the same
type, at Oak Ridge?
||MORGAN:|| Everybody was pretty cautious about putting anything in
writing on this [touchy subject]. So, the last [court] case I testified in was
[former Secretary of Interior, presently a practicing attorney, Stuart] Udall's
case in Las Vegas. In the courtroom they had everything I'd written and all the
reports, standing over 25 feet high; they had these long boxes, (spreads his
hands, palms in) so long, (stretches out his arm, palm-down) so
high. There were two [stacks of boxes] that went entirely to the ceiling of the
things that I've written, of my reports[, publications, letters, etc.]. I was
amazed at all I had written through the ages of the past.
Now, what is your question?
|YUFFEE:|| The question is: Was there a Green Run type of release at
Oak Ridge? We found some documents that suggest there might have been an
intentional release [to the atmosphere] at Oak Ridge, but we're not sure,
because of the way it was stated, if it actually was [only] a proposal.
||MORGAN:|| I knew this was discussed with me and others, but
[an actual release to the atmosphere]not over my dead body! It was
possible that Wigner or Weinberg might have [had such discussions and] Whittaker
might have consented [to work toward this objective]. I knew [all the] parties
[(Wigner, Weinberg, and Whittaker)] personally. I don't believe they would
condescend to [an intentional release]. It would be condescending to carry out
such a study using our own [people as guinea pigs]. In this case [at Hanford],
when it wasn't our ownanother nation of people, American Indians, as
guinea pigs [made it even worse]. I know [that Biology Division director Alex]
Hollaender would not, and I can say: I know Weinberg and Wigner would not. I
know Weinberg personally and professionally, though we've fought over some
issues in the early years. I knew Eugenethe late Eugene, who's being
buried today or yesterdayvery well, not just at the Laboratory but in many
meetings and other discussions. I think I can say there'd be a 99.99 percent
probability that they would not consent [to] or condone such a study in which
the Laboratory had a major part.
||YUFFEE:|| Moving away from the discussion of intentionally releases to
rad warfare, in particular in the ARUU,70 you did studies in 1948, with
radiolanthanum and tantalum in particular. Maybe you could talk a little bit
||MORGAN:|| I never had anything directly to do with radiolanthanum.
||YUFFEE:|| What about with tantalum?
||MORGAN:|| Only discussions; I never took part in any studies.
||YUFFEE:|| Am I right in calling it the ARUU program? Was that what the
||MORGAN:|| That's what I recall.
||YUFFEE:|| You didn't take part in it?
||MORGAN:|| Only on pen and paper; maybe some reports and letters and
discussions. In fact, since I have no recollection of taking direct part, maybe
you could refresh my memory and what the main motive of that study was.
||YUFFEE:|| That's actually what I was hoping to get at by talking to
||MORGAN:|| I remember the code name and all. You see, we had hundreds
of those codes, and it won't come back to [my memory banks].
Unintentionally Widespread Dispersion From Phosphorus-32 Atmospheric
|YUFFEE:|| But do you have any other recollection of rad warfare
research or tests that were done?
||MORGAN:|| Well, going into 32P and Bernard's work and Francis
[Davis]'s. Francis is deceased, but if you are interested in the claims of many
people, the sources put out to fly over. If you want to follow up on that and
get the raw facts, you ought to talk to Paul Reindhart, who lives outside of Oak
Ridge. I know, because he goes to the same church we go to. He used to be one of
my students when I taught at Lenoir-Rhyne; I know him quite well. He could tell
you details and all the early development of aerial surveys and anything that
was done in Oak Ridge in that respect.
When I covered the Windscale accident, for example, there were two things
that Greg Morley and others impressed on me, where they made mistakes. One was,
they didn't have an information center where everybody could come [with a
request for information]. The [radiation surveyors had no place to interface
with] news reporters, and they didn't have TV then but radio reports, [no open
area where] radiation surveyors could come and bring their data and collate and
disperse it appropriately. They had to come into the controlled area to get
information and disperse it.
The other thing was that, initially, when they had this fallout [in the
United Kingdom, it was several days before they got their light aircraft
airborne]. I could talk for hours on that accident. They put their Geiger
counters against these five-gallon jugs [of milk to take readings]; you
remember: [those jugs] came up with a little lip on top. [They] put their Geiger
counters on the side [of the jug] and if you had too much [(too high a reading)]
they'd pour the milk out on the ground [so no one would drink contaminated
But [the British] found, three days later, when they got their light
aircraft airborne, that the radius distance [in which the milk was excessively
contaminated] should have been twice as large. The area would increase by a
square [so the area of dangerous milk contamination was four times as diffuse].71
The mothers out there, justifiably, were frantic to hear, "My
little baby has been drinking this contaminate milk! Contaminated, maybe, with
strontium and cesium and iodine, and we weren't even told about it! Now, they're
pouring all the milk out and will not let us get near the jugs that [held] the
So I brought [news of] this [miscalculation] back to Oak Ridge, and
immediately we set up corrective measures. We set up an information center
outside the control area. I had quite a number in my division [who] had private
licenses [to pilot] small aircraft; I used to have one. I only flew about 80
hours solo. We [could] get our planes up in a half-hour [during our drills].
To show how stupid the AEC was, they should have taken my reports and
reports from Windscale, and gotten [them] in the minds and the operations of all
operators of [nuclear] reactors throughout the country. Even an order of
magnitude more stupid than the DOE, even beyond the present regime, is the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission [(NRC)].72 I can't even think about
them without thinking how deceitful, and dishonest they've been in some cases
where I've been involved! I can prove that verbatim. Well, anyway, it's a shame
that Three Mile Island operators did not know about [my reports and], did not
take any of these measures. They made all of the mistakes that were made at
Windscale. We corrected them at Oak Ridge. Why did not the AECwhy did not
the NRC get out this information [about how to prevent a recurrence of the
Windscale accident]? They could have prevented that accident [at Three Mile
Influence of Secrecy in Decisions About Radiation Exposure
|MORGAN:|| If I had time I could discuss another accident, potential
accident. Almost identical to Three Mile Island; it just didn't happen. Luck was
in their basket, or whatever it was. [There were] other cases where we came to
very-near accidents. They could have been [catastrophic], [but] in most cases
were completely avoided. In others, they got out by a hair. Windscale was
tragic, and of course Three Mile Island was terrible, but they all could have
been avoided except for Windscale, if they had gotten this information out. They
didn't do it. They just sat on their hands.
||CAPUTO:|| So the AEC tried to keep the veil of secrecy, the same as
||MORGAN:|| Secrecy is more important than the lives of our citizens!
They tried to imbue that in some of us, and maybe, to a little extent, to some
of my friends at Hanford. I was willing to lose my job at Oak Ridge [before
risking unnecessary exposure to employees or members of the public]. I think as
long as I was there, this attitude [of radiological caution] prevailed, and the
workmen would not dare go on the job of any kind unless my Health Physics
surveyors were there with their instruments. The workers trusted them almost as
much as they did when they prayed to their Lord at night. They wouldn't dare dig
this trench, or go near this pipe, or go down this ladder, or go into this area.
If the yellow ribbons were around [an area], they would never go near that
unless the health physicist was there with his appropriate instruments.
Advice for Disposing of Tritium Safely Rebuffed by NRC
|This attitude [for radiation safety] did not prevail, apparently, at some
other places. Certainly it did not at Three Mile Island. Since I left the
faculty at Georgia Tech, I've testified in over a hundred-fifty cases, trying to
help people that have allegedly been injured by radiation. We won the Karen
Silkwood case and Crumbeck case, and I was a sole witness [for the plaintiff
when] we won in the Three Mile Island class-action suit.|
But in most other cases, the AEC and DOE [have] called[what was] then
the Department of Justice [(DOJ)]; let me call it the "Department of
Injustice" [to make false claims about radiation exposure] under some of
the people there. They [(the DOJ employees)] actually bragged about the
fact that they set up courses to train health physicists and lawyers on how to
keep injured parties, injured from radiation, from getting any benefits! One of
these was even held in Washington. I didn't attend it, but I can point to some
people that attended the lecture that [Don] Jose from the Justice Department
gave. Imagine: the Department of Justicewhich is supposed, according to
our Constitution, to provide justice to the citizentraining lawyers and
health physicists how to cheat the public! How to allow people to be used as
guinea pigs rather than be a hindrance to some nuclear or military program!
I more recently have fought the NRC on the release of [radioactive] hydrogen
[to the surrounding air]. All the people in the cities of Washington[, DC] and
Philadelphia and Baltimore are guinea pigs, as you well know. I gave [the NRC] a
letter [from me], showing how you can get rid of this tritium [that had
contaminated the cooling water at Three Mile Island] in a safe manner.
But they used the most nefarious techniques to throw out my testimony, and
they would not even hear it, until I wentat my own inconvenienceto
Washington to testify. They accused me of being a crook when I sent the letter
to them, showing these other ways that they could release this tritium from
Three Mile Island in the water because there [was an unidentified summary
attached to one of the enclosed references]. [There were] hundreds of thousands
of curies of tritium; [my letter explained] how they could dispose of it, in a
relatively benign manner.
But they didn't want to hear that. They would rather use you darned subjects
in Washington and Philadelphia as guinea pigs. So they boiled [it away into the
surrounding air], and you breathed it.
Tomorrow I have a visitor from the UK, and I'm sure I'll have other
interruptions in writing my book. If people could wait and read my book, they'd
get some of the facts that you'd like to have now, maybe.73
But anyway, I sent in my letter [to the NRC] showing these other ways
you could dispose of the tritium without using humans as guinea pigs. It would
be a little more expensive, a little more trouble, but the exposure would be
almost zero. I also indicated, as I recall in the letter, why tritium is far
more hazardous than was agreed-to officially when I was chairman of the
committee74 that set the standards for tritium and other
radionuclides for 20 years, you see. So I wasn't just talking out of the wind.
I sent this in, but I felt maybe I'd better send some backup
information. So I grabbed, out of my library, a few folders and things and put
them in a big envelope and sent them in. Inadvertently, one of these documents
from the UK had a page on the back that summarized the document. It may have had
some other information; but it wasn't supposed to be there. They accused me of
being a crook, because this document had this [summary] attached [as] the last
page! They didn't even go into any of [the scientific information I sent. They
were very cruel and most hostile].
An advisor to theI don't know his position, I guess the court
recorder there, or maybe the second stage of lawyers they hadwas Dr.
[L.S.] Taylor, who had been chairman of NCRP for many years, who [now] is on the
other side of the fence. He used to be a very close friend. I don't consider him
an enemy now, but I disagree with him [vigorously] in his position. He was there
advising them what to dothe only scientist there advising [what
accusations to make]. But these twelve judgeswho I [had] helped to select
a year earlier, because I had been one of those to help select the judges of the
NRCthey threw out my testimony and decided, "Well, it's a lot cheaper
to use you [people downwind] as guinea pigs." I guess they're through
[sending this tritium into the air]; they've completed their [guinea pig] study
on you folks, if you were [living] there [in Washington, DC].
They saved a lot of money in this decision. Tritium can cause leukemia
as well as solid tumors, and the leukemias come in early, some even beginning in
five years, the midpoint about 15 years. Some dribble in even as late as 30
years; but [for] solid tumors, probably the midpoint on them is 30 [years].
Chairing the Public Health Fund (198092)
|Having testified on the Three Mile Island case as the only witness [for the
plaintiff], I was asked to be chairman of the Public Health Fund. You might want
to get hold of some of their documents. The decision of Judge Rambo [in our
favor] has added up, with interest, to over 15 million dollars, which were used
for research [on the effects of low-level exposure to ionizing radiation].|
I was asked to be chairman of the so-called Public Health Fund by the Berger
law firm in Philadelphia.75 We worked on that for a period of over ten
years, following the research and administering this money. The program of which
I was most proud is that of Dr. Alice Stewart, who is a wonderful woman of high
intellect and integrity, with great skill in epidemiology76 as well
as medicine. She's done more extensive epidemiological work than any other
person that's ever livedliving now or dead. A portion of our money [went
to her research]; I think it's added up to about two million. She has
independently studied the film badge records and carcinogenic77 rate,
[as determined] from death certificates in this country [of former employees of
the X-10, Y-12, and K-25 facilities of Oak Ridge and former employees of
Hanford, Los Alamos, Savannah River, Rocky Flats, etc.].
I haven't heard anything from that committee [(the Public Health Fund
Committee)] now for over two years; I think maybe I said the wrong thing at one
of our last meetings, in which I said I was more interested in getting the facts
than I was in getting the data to the judge. That doesn't go over very well with
lawyers. Anyway, I think that independent studies were in order [for we found an
excessive cancer risk at the so-called permissible exposure levels].
Of course, you know of the case where we spent ten years before we could
get the raw data from the AEC or the Department of Energy. We finally got it.
Freedom of Information78 would not work. Finally got it from
testimony we brought in from a man [(Dr. Greg Wilkenson)] who worked at Los
Alamos and then down in Texas. In the court hearing in Columbia, South Carolina,
he pointed out that [when] he was working at Los Alamos studying the data from
the Denver area, he found significant increase in cancers, [but] that he wasn't
allowed to publish his data. I could look up in my notebook and get his name.
That's one of the problems you've [mentioned] you run into, after you're 70 or
80 or approaching 90 years: you always remembered all the names of the millions
of people and I can't think of his name at the moment.
Vanderbilt University Study of Pregnant Women and Iron-59 (194549)
|YUFFEE:|| I have one question, a specific question that I probably
should have asked you when we were back on this subject. So I'm going to go back
a little bit. Do you remember a Dr. C.W. Shepherd?
||MORGAN:|| Oh yes, I do, from Vanderbilt [University in Nashville,
Tennessee]. I was for many years [associated] with [Dr.] Francis Slack, who was
chairman of the Physics Department there. I was an adjunct professor there; I
don't recall [for] how many years; I would guess at least a decade. So I knew
him, and I knew [Paul F.] Hahn at the time; I knew a lot of others [there]. I
remember those two, specifically.
||YUFFEE:|| Were you familiar with the Vanderbilt study with pregnant
women and iron-59?
||MORGAN:|| I know Paul Aebersold was very interested; and Paul and
Mickie, his wife, were good friends of my wife and me; we both belonged to two
dance clubs. So I knew that they had a study using iron-55 and -59. I was
somewhat appalled at the time, and I think even Paul was a bit worried that they
were using the, I guess it's the -59 that is the more dangerous one you should
not use. I even then made calculations showingwell, I'm sure I did,
because I made hundreds and hundreds of thousands of calculation on the
different radionuclides. The risk in the shorter-lived radioisotope [(iron-59)]
was more hazardous than the longer-lived one.79 I won't go into the forty
or fifty reasons why [but mostly because of a much higher energy emission per
disintegration]. That meant that you should not use reactor-produced radioactive
iron. That is, you should not put stable iron in the reactor, and cook it up
with neutrons to make these two isotopes, and use a chemical extractive of this
for any studies of blood or anything else [with humans].
My impressionfrom casual comments of Paul Aebersoldwas, I'm
afraid, that Hahn, Shephard, and the others there, whom I can't recall, used
some reactor-produced iron, which was a terrible choice. Why would you knowingly
give doses more than [10 times than necessary in a human study? This should have
been of great concern] when you're giving doses that were right at the
occupational level and it would go to the fetus, and we all knew the placental
barrier would not take out iron? In fact, you wouldn't have a fetus if it did.
Here we were, exposing man [as a fetus] at the most critical stage [of his
development]. We already knew that the fetus was more critical a human being
than I was, Hahn, or Paul Aebersold, and here they didn't even bother,
apparently, to cook up in special preparation in a reactor and pay a few, maybe
twenty or fifty thousand dollars, for their material rather than get it free
from Oak Ridge or wherever they got it.
|YUFFEE:|| That was my question: Do you know where they would have
||MORGAN:|| No, I don't. Paul, I'm sure, had detailed records. [But I
was always under the impression it was gotten from Oak Ridge].
Difficulty Obtaining Historical Information, Despite Freedom of
|MORGAN:|| When I was at Oak Ridge, there was constant pressure to
shred data, especially the film badge data, but I fought against it. If you go
there now and you have the same luck I hadI have to go through two locked
doors to get to a librarian, who doesn't know where anything is, to help me find
reports that I wrote that weren't classified, that I
sent out [all over the world] to hundreds of people back in that period.
This is Martin Marietta80 that your agency is supporting, supposedly
to help the public. They have offices there for other people that worked there.
When I left Oak Ridge [as a Federal retiree], I did not get an offer of as much
as a dollar a year for a job [at ORNL, as some of the retirees did, because I
was never a yes-man]. I would not have accepted, had I [received such an offer,
but did not have the pleasure of turning it down]. I had offers of jobs in
Washington and other [similar] places. I did not want to get into that den of
thieves. I wanted to be in the South; furthermore, I wanted to do research [and
teach again in a university].
I ended up at Georgia Tech. Maybe that was a bad choice. I had offers at
my former school, [University of] North Carolina; I wish, in retrospect, that
I'd gone there. I think it became a decision of Nuclear Power [versus] The
Health of Peopleand Carolina would have been a much better choice than
Georgia Tech, who wants to please Coca Cola and the nuclear industry.
I've given a black eye hereyou'd better tell your director
[(Energy Secretary O'Leary)] to watch out, because I can name four women that
have been killed since they took strong positions against nuclear power,
beginning with Karen Silkwood, and I testified in her case. It's very dangerous
forespecially a woman, for some reason. You'd better be careful. I don't
know why they pick on women.81
|CAPUTO:|| (smiling) We [(women)] must learn more [of their
secrets]we're more dangerous.
||MORGAN:|| I doubt she (Secretary O'Leary) could live through this (inaudible)
Administration because some of the old (inaudible) are back in the
||YUFFEE:|| I don't have any more specific questions.
||CAPUTO:|| Neither do I.
Have we missed something? Is there a question we should have asked you?
|MORGAN:|| I don't know quite what you have in mind. As I say, I don't
want to give you everything that will go in the book [I am writing jointly with
my lawyer friend Ken M. Peterson of Wichita, Kansas].
||CAPUTO:|| What's your book about?
||MORGAN:|| It's about the early history of health physics. But, as I
said, I have to depend on my memory, mostly, and my library, which is
incomplete, because Martin Marietta won't allow me free access in the
Laboratory, [a privilege they extend] to scores of other former employees. They
are afraid of me because they think I'm against nuclear energy, I guess.
I'm not against nuclear energy; I'm for a long-range study [of nuclear
energy]. I just think that Admiral Rickover82 was just too successful,
and we land-based his PWR83 too soon. We should have done at least
thirty more years' research before we built reactors on land, and certainly
within 50 miles of big cities like New York and Philadelphia. I testified
against the one near New York,84 as you probably have found out. So,
though your director has asked for free access to information, Martin Marietta
hasn't come through. I don't know whether GE and Westinghouse and the others85
have done so [at other DOE operations]; I doubt it.
If a peon like [me,] someone way down the line like I've always been,
someone that has a lot of facts about what actually went on, [can't get in], I
doubt if they would let [you] into these facilities. Even though [I] may still
be for nuclear power [it's in the hope and confidence nuclear power will
eventually find its proper place on planet earth as it has in the rest of the
universe]. When I say "I'm for nuclear power," I'm for research for
getting rid of some of those bugs [that have caused its failure].
Studies on Nuclear Waste Storage Issues
|MORGAN:|| When I was director [of the Health Physics Division of] Oak Ridge
[National Laboratory], we did all the advanced research on high-level waste
disposal. We did the studies in the salt mines in Kansas. We developed big
machines to carry the sources in [and out of the mines], and we looked into the
Wigner effect,86 the storage of energy by the electrons and the
positive ions [in energy] levels in the salt. These are what caused the
accident, as I said earlier, at Windscale and [contributed to the] Three Mile
Island [accident]; and we looked into the transport of moisture in different
chemical forms going through the salt and lots of things [of this nature]. I
think the Swedes have made a little more progress, since that time, with storage
[of high-level nuclear waste] in granite.87
But when they talk about encasing it in gold, I balk. Not because the
gold isn't worth anything compared to the problem. The problem is, in storing,
we had to always think about, "What's the value of this?" Would people
a thousand years from now inadvertently go into this and try to retrieve that
gold or silver or whatever you encase it in? [If so,] you can't dare use it.
Or you can['t] put [it] in some [geological] formation that itself will
be of great value. Well, salt, certainly sodium-chloridetype salt,88
is of essentially no value. I can set up a factory out here and have
the means to get enough salt to supply the world for all time from the Gulf of
Mexico. But there are cheaper ways of getting it than getting out of the ocean,
though it's done commercially [that way] in many places.
So, [at] Oak Ridge, the whole time I was there, there was pressure on
the engineers to move all engineering studies out of [the] Health Physics
[Division]. We had some of the best engineers, the best physicists[, etc.,] in
the Laboratory. I think [Sam] Hurst and [Rufus] Richie both have recently
graduated from there. They should have Nobel prizes for things they've done
sponsored by the Department of Energy. So it [(DOE)] has done some good things
in the past.
Anyway, all the time we were there, there was tremendous pressure from
the Chemical Technology Division to take that away, because "Health Physics
has no business doing this." Immediately when I left, things changed;
shortly after Weinberg left, [conditions at ORNL deteriorated even more]. Of
course, studies [on high-level waste disposal] were taken over by the engineers,
andsurprise!now they've discovered the wheel. Look at the progress
they've made. So it goes.