DOE Openness: Human Radiation Experiments: Roadmap to the Project
Health Physicist William J. Bair, Ph.D.
Radiobiologist Chet Richmond, Ph.D.
HUMAN RADIATION STUDIES:
|FISHER:||[My name is Darrell Fisher from Battelle, Pacific Northwest Laboratories1 and I am here with David Harrell from the Department of Energy's Office of Human Radiation Experiments. We are conducting an oral history of] Dr. Chester Richmond on January 24, 1995, in the Oak Ridge[, Tennessee,]2 Federal Building. Dr. Richmond, we'd like to start out with a discussion of your education and perhaps your undergraduate class and how you got interested in medicine and radionuclides.3|
|RICHMOND:||Thank you. First of all, I would like to thank you for the
opportunity to spend a little time with you talking about the past. I went to
school in Montclair, originally an undergraduate school Montclair, New Jersey,
which is now Montclair State University. That started in 19, just several
years after I was discharged from the Army. My interest in Montclair at the time
was that Montclair was a state teachers college and I thought I wanted to go
into an education career. However, Montclair had some outstanding teachers in
the sciences; they were well-known. That was the driver, I think, and that's
very typical. People who go into sciences very often state the reason as being
someonea teacherthat provided that very strong stimulus to go into
I graduated from Montclair in 1952, and went to New Mexico, because I had [a] relative who was living in New Mexico, and learned about a program whereby a person could attend the University of New Mexico and do a dissertation at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. My degree was in Biology from Montclair, so I pursued a biological career at the University of New Mexico. As I mentioned, that provided me the opportunity to go to Los Alamos and finish my dissertation.
Interestingly, the agreement was [that] I would spend at least three [years] working on a research problem. I highly recommend that kind of training in education because I had the opportunity to work three or four research groups for [about] a week at a time to choose the area in which I wanted to do my dissertation.
I was extremely interested at the time in how things behaved in the body because my submajor was Physiology,4 especially comparative physiology. Actually, there was an individual at the University of Illinois, C. Lad Prosser, who was well-known in the field of comparative physiology, who actually had done some work related to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)5 in the early days. Of course, I wasn't aware of that because I was a young student. The opportunity to use radioactive materials as tracers6 was just a fantastic opportunity since I was in the field of comparative physiology. [I was] interested primarily in [the sense] that I was aware of the history of how radioactive materials, even in 1950, were so replete and so comprehensive.
I always try to remind people that there's a continuum of how radioactive materials have been used in medicine or in biology. That starts with the naturally occurring radioactive materials, and there's a wealth of history on the use of radium, then thorium, uranium, and materials such as those [in] nature. Then, with the invention of the cyclotron7 and other machines, a whole new group of radioactive materials were made available for study. Actually, Nobel prizes were awarded for these studies; Hevesy, in particular, who developed the terminology for tracers, etc.8 That led to a large number of studies, again tracing the dynamics of individual elements in the body.
In 1938 [and] 1939, with the advent of fission, there was again an explosion (in essence), of the numbers and kinds of radioactive isotopes that could be used for tracing [a] particular element in the body. So that was a fantastic opportunity for me, and I guess at the time I really didn't appreciate the uniqueness of the situation, being a young student. Well anyway, I did get [both] my master's and Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico.
|FISHER:||In which year?|
|RICHMOND:||I got my master's in 1954, and a Ph.D. in 1958. But through the working arrangement between University of California, which was the prime contractor for Los Alamos, and the University of New Mexico, I actually was able to start employment at Los Alamos in August 1955. So [the] last couple of years when I was working full-time on my dissertation and taking classes at the same time, both in Albuquerque and then Los Alamos, I was working on my research program.|
|HARRELL:||So, you were getting paid while you were doing your dissertation?|
|RICHMOND:||As a student, right. It was fantastic.|
|HARRELL:||Who were some of the people you worked with when you were a student?|
|RICHMOND:||As I mentioned, it was a fantastic opportunity. I worked with
people like Ernie Anderson,9and
Ernie worked with Willard Libby,10
who won a Nobel prize working with potassium-40 and other materials. Libby
himself use to say that Ernie Anderson did most of the work. That's [the] kind
of third-party stories we used to hear.|
Ernie was a fantastic man. He had several careers. He was involved in anthropometry,11 body composition, and the cell cycle. To me, that's always the mark of a good scientist, where they can leave their mark in several areas, not just one.
I worked with Newton Hayes, an organic chemist, who, with the help of a handful of people, [comprised] the whole starting crew working with liquid scintillators.12 Also, Ernie Anderson and these people developed the liquid scintillators that were used in whole-body counters,13 and small counters that grew into many large industries for counting14 samples with scintillators and radioactive materials.
I worked with Kent Woodward, who was an Army physician assigned to Los Alamos. I worked with people like John Storer, who was, at that time, well-known in radiation biology and went on to an even more distinguished career. People like Ernie Anderson and Newton Hayes; those individuals all ended up getting widespread recognition; I believe Ernie Anderson was an E.O. Lawrence Award winner; I'm not certain of that, but I think so.15We had a lot of people working on the cell cycle like Don Petersen,16 for example, who [is] now retired.
Wright Langham is one I shouldn't forget because he was the group leader in the group where I worked.17 Wright was sort of an understanding workaholic. By that, I mean that he was a workaholic, but he didn't expect other people to work full-time, like Wright did.
It was an interesting group; there were physicians, biologists, and there were chemists, mathematicians. Another individual is Payne Harris, who was a physician with a degree in Physicsvery sharp, in terms of mathematicsand he was a rare commodity. Payne Harris did a lot of support work for studies at the Nevada Test Site.18 I worked in the Bio- Medical Research Group. There were other groups who worked in support of field tests in Nevadanuclear explosions and that sort of thing. That was quite an experience.
|HARRELL:||Were there tracer studies that you worked on while you were a student at Los Alamos?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, absolutely. My thesis was on the comparative metabolism
of alkaline metals. Alkaline metals are, as you probably know, a group of
elements which have similar characteristics in the periodic table.|
Let me explain a little, if I may, why these studies were important. For example, sodium. If you think of the element sodium, it's very common in the body, and you have 60 or 70 grams [(2.1 to 2.5 troy ounces)] in the typical person, and 4 or 5 or 6 grams per day come in, and that many go out. That doesn't tell you anything about how an individual population of sodium atoms behave. So when you take and label some of those with a radioactive or other material that will distinguish those atoms from the general population [of sodium atoms], then you can trace that particular cohort. So, in the case of sodium, you know the material will leave the body at different rates, not just one rate, and it will go to different locations [in the body].
The main interest was in the alkaline metals in particular, and that was a thrust of my thesis. That was reported in a Los Alamos document. But then, many, many years later, it was selected to appear in a Health Physics Journal as one of the 20 articles or so for a 100-year period that were considered to be, the word isn't "classic," but "particularly interesting"something like that.
|FISHER:||That was on the 25th anniversary of the [Health Physics] Society's special publication of historical papers.|
|RICHMOND:||You're right, and I listed it in the materials I sent you.|
|FISHER:||That was your thesis?|
|RICHMOND:||That was my thesis, right. So, it got published immediately as a Los Alamos document, and then, 25 years later, as sort of a classic.|
|FISHER:||This thesis described the metabolism of which radionuclides?|
|RICHMOND:||The main intent was in cesium because of fallout [from nuclear
weapons tests in the atmosphere]. Cesium was detected [in people]. You see, as I
mentioned, Los Alamos was at the forefront of detecting materials for use in
detectors, for developing materials that are used in detectors. At that time,
the major interest was in liquid scintillators, and later in solid crystals
[such as iodine].|
Around the early 1950s or so, or late '50s, in that period, it was determined that you could actually measure cesium within the body by placing a person in a liquid scintillation counter. Of course, separated from [the] liquid that the gamma rays would interact as they leave the body, would go in and interact with the [scintillation] fluid, cause a flash of light, and that light could be detected by a photo[multiplier] tube.
Cesium was tops on our priority, and sodium of course, because it was in the alkaline metals. We worked with sodium-22, mainly; sodium-24; [and] rubidium. Francium is in the alkaline metals but there's no usable radioactive tracer of it. The purpose of those studies was to try to predict what would happen in people, because protection was really a major goal of all that work at Los Alamos at the Bio-Med group.19
What [do] I feel particularly good about? Two things. A lot of that work was published. Some of it is still cited in physiological literature; comparative work done on tritium, for example. So even though protection was the main goal, radiation protection, and protection of the people in the business and in the laboratories, a lot of that information turned out to be extremely useful in terms of the literature on the biology and physiology of tracers.
Again, I was pretty young at that time, and I didn't realize [the importance of the work]. In my mind, the major goal was to do things that would help develop a better understanding and better guides for radiation protection.
What we were really interested in was doing work with small animals, mice, rats in particular, dogs, and monkeys in some cases, and understanding the metabolic kinetics20 so that we could predict, on the basis of some model, what would happen in people. By understanding the kinetics of how the materials were turned over,21 you can predict equilibrium levels.
But that in itself led to a whole group of studies. Karl Morgan22 in particular was interested in that, and Walter Snyder in Oak Ridge [was interested for purposes of better internal dose calculations]. They did not have an experimental setup. There was a group in England, as I recall, and our small group of people, [who] were very much interested in trying to show experimentally that you could, indeed, predict the equilibrium level that [a] radioisotope would reach in the body based on a single administration. You can administer the radioactive material once, do the long-term study, and construct from that data what the buildup would be. So, we did experiments primarily on cesium in small animals to do that sort of work, as well.
The Los Alamos report, then, was my thesis at the time, and it had the usual committee [reviewing it]: academic[s] at the University of New Mexico and some people from the Laboratory. It was a fantastic time, actually.
|HARRELL:||Were you part of an AEC scholarship program?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, it wasI don't remember the name of itbut it was done throughout the Atomic Energy Commission. I was about the third or fourth person to be involved in the one in Los Alamos. Turns out, in later years, when I moved here to Oak RidgeHerman Postman was the Director at the time and I was an Associate Directorseveral of us used to tell students that we started our careers as students through the Atomic Energy Commission Programs. Work at Los Alamos was fantastic, because there were all kinds of people around [as] human resources [and] equipment that was not really readily available in most schools [and] universities. A lot of that work, not just my work but [that of] others, was done collaboratively with people at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. They had very good interactions, even back in those days.|
|HARRELL:||Not much interaction with people back in California, with the [future National] Labs [at Berkeley, San Francisco, and Livermore]?|
|RICHMOND:||No, very little. Los Alamos has been very independent in terms of the contractor relationship over the years.|
|HARRELL:||So, when did you become employed full-time?|
|RICHMOND:||When I got my [Ph.D.] degree in 1958, I had several job
interviews; one at Purdue [University in Lafayette, Indiana], one at Walter Reed
[Medical Center in Washington, D.C.]. Anyway, I was making a circuit,
[interviewing around the country], and Wright Langham called me [from Los
Alamos] and said, "What are you doing?" I said, "I'm looking for
a job." He said, "Don't [you] want to work for me?" I said, "You
never asked me." So he said, "Oh, I just assumed you knew you were
going to work with me." That's how I got to work there.|
Oak Ridge was on the list, too. Walter Snyder and Karl Morgan were trying to get me to come to Oak Ridge, then and later. So, I started my full-time formal employment after I got my [doctoral] degree in 1958.
|HARRELL:||Did you move into the right into the same section [(Metabolism23 and Dosimetry24 you had been in as a student?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, I [was] working with other people in that general area. Other people were heavily involved in studies with tritium,25 for example. A fellow named Ted Trujillo, who was a chemist who did a lot of work with tritium, and John Storer were working with tritium. It was very common for people in the Laboratory to volunteer to help someone else in an experiment. I know I, myself, have ingested one or two millicuries,26 not microcuries,27 of tritium. Tritium is turned over very rapidly in the body, and there was that camaraderie of researchers who helped each other in these studies.|
|HARRELL:||Did you do much of that when you were a student, or was that after, when you became an employee?|
|RICHMOND:||Most of it was after I became an employee.|
|HARRELL:||There were some students who were volunteers in experiments?|
|RICHMOND:||As a student, I was involved. Cesium in particular was very important, in terms of gaining knowledge about it. It was my major interest also, so I ingested cesium [on] several occasions. Part of that was for my thesis, actually. We had medical students [from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque] who would come and work in the laboratory occasionally. Most of those students were sort of too busy to become involved. We never coerced them; we offered them the opportunity. Medical students in particular have a history of wanting to get involved in experiment situations, strictly volunteering. There were several dozen, I don't remember exactly, three dozen or so people in that organization, maybe even more. It was called H-4 at the time, and Wright Langham was the leader. I worked in the Metabolism and Dosimetry [section]. Many years later I ended up running that organization, but it was many years later.|
|HARRELL:||So the attitude back then was not to think much [of] the dangers of ingestions of these elements?|
|RICHMOND:||Well, we obviously did give it enough thought. For example, in cesium well, from almost any radioactive materialthere were guides for workers. The uncertainty of those were, in some cases, very large. In many instances, we would end up, on the basis of small-animal experiments, having a pretty good idea of what would happen in people. To verify this in some cases, we would, ourselvestwo or three peopleingest the material and do the experiment actually on ourselves. We felt very comfortable, because of the interspecies correlations we were developing; but at the same time, there were many people out in the field, in the Laboratories, who were using these materials, and there were guidelinessomething called "maximum permissible concentrations." The irony was, in some cases, the amounts of materials that we took were well [below] the guidelines that were being applied at the time, in terms of the allowable amount to be taken in.|
|RICHMOND:|| Yes. So that was sort of the good news, that we felt very
comfortable about it. You know, when you study a material thoroughly in mammals
of different sizes and metabolic rates, generally you can get a pretty good feel
for what's going to happen in a person.|
Cesium, it turns out, is probably the single most important radionuclide, in terms of potential damage to man. That surprises a lot of people, because they think of plutonium right away. If you look at Chernobyl,28 and look at the accidents in many other countries, like Mexico, through Central and South America, and Europe, there were many cases where cesium was used for medical purposesliterally, it ended up in a dump and [subsequently] the people got exposed;29 nuclear fallout [from atmospheric weapons tests]: the prime bad actor in [all those cases,] has been cesium. In terms of the number of people who have been touched by radiocesium, and things of that nature, it is probably the most important [of radionuclides].
|FISHER:||Cesium is a problem for those who ingest meat of animals that have grazed off grasses after fallout. What were some of things that you learned in you dissertation work on metabolism of cesium?|
|RICHMOND:||While we were trying to understand the metabolic kinetics, we were doing other experiments, because we had to concentrate on a thesis problem, and that was the kinetics [issue], for my dissertation. What we learned, number one, [was] that you can, indeed, predict the equilibrium level in people from a single administration, by injection or oral [route], because cesium is almost 100 percent absorbed in the GI [(gastrointestinal)] tract. So, we did confirm our beliefs that you could predict equilibrium for chronic administration without doing the experiment, by using a single administration and looking at the mathematics.|
|HARRELL:||Through animal experiments?|
|RICHMOND:||Through animal experiments. That was very important, because
it turns out you could do that from many materialsnot all, but many. It
was very exciting to be able to measure the so-called biological half-[time]30 of cesium in people, although a small
sample. [The half-time] was uncertain, and it turned out, in the first ones we
didI think, four people [turned out to be] between 80 and 120 days.|
After that, a lot of people in England and the U.S. and other countries made the same measurements. Over the years we became pretty comfortable knowing, and having a pretty good accuracy [in establishing], [a] range of values for [cesium's half-time in] people. But we knew it's different with children. We know it's different under many conditions. Verification of the equilibrium level for chronic administration [is important], and one of our papers has all the mathematics in it. It gets very detail[ed] if you try do that.
|HARRELL:||Did you ever have an example of a human who had reached the equilibrium level through a massive dose of some accidental kind?|
|RICHMOND:||It turns out we had a lot, but it was through nuclear fallout, because [for] fallout you get it incrementally. So we were able, actually, to get a relationship betweenand it's very involved, mathematically, and again, it's in one of our papershow the material would build up in people through a chronic exposure but [specifically under conditions,] where that level was not the same everyday, but variable. And then, [the buildup] stopped, which was done twice, mainly in 1964, during the Limited Nuclear Test Ban [Treaty]:31 there was no more cesium being added [to the atmosphere]. But it was still turning over in the body. So, we were able to predict what the turnover would be in people, after they had a continued variable source of intake. And that we've also published.|
|FISHER:||What did you learn about the excretion of cesium, its excretion rates and [clearance] pathways?|
|RICHMOND:||That's an interesting question. We were able to determine
[that] there were two primary excretion rates, rates of change in the body. [One
was a] very short one, which accounted for maybe 10 or 15 percent of the
population of atoms that had a very short, several-day half-[time]. But then,
most of it had a very long half-[time]. For some elements, that's extremely
important: sodium, for example. Traditionally, in the literature, even before
isotopes were used, everyone thought that sodium turned over with a 10- or
11-day half[-time], which is true. But, if you measure long enough in time, we
found (and this is corroborated by others) a very long half-[time]. A small
amount, but a very long half-[time]. But knowing the amount and the turnover
time, you can calculate the pool size.32|
So it turns out we were among themaybe the first; I'm not certainamong the first, at least, to show that there was a long-term, slow-turnover component of sodium in bone. That was published either in nutritional literature or the physiological literature.
Cesium is a very exciting element to work with. Of course, at the time I didn't have any idea. The interest was in fallout. This was before the widespread application when we got involved in the accidents, having these [cesium] sources end up [in] local dumps, being burned. Places like Chernobyl.
You mentioned the animals that were fed materials to get rid of cesium. There was a group in Norway and our group in Los Alamos who worked with a compound called ferric ferrocyanide. [The] common name was Prussian blue.33 It was used as a dye early on, in histology34 and other [applications].
Well, it turns out that we did some experiments, again with small animals. We fed them this dye after they [had] been given cesium for [a] while. They were given cesiumit was chronicto see if that material would bind cesium. The use earlier had been in the chemical process [that] said, "Yes, this stuff binds cesium." Our argument was [that] if you ingest cesium, it's almost 100 percent absorbed; there's a flux35 where it goes back and forth through the gut wall, also. So, if this insoluble dye was going through the GI tract and bound up the cesium atoms, well, that would take them out of the body. Well, it turns out, that did work.
I actually did work on myself; it's a blue dye, so [the] stools turned blue. We found that you can very, very effectively change the turnover rate from maybe 100 days for [a] long compartment [(body organ)] to about 30 or 40 days. In that experiment, after I ingested the cesium and waited a while until we were sure we were on a long-turnover component, I would [then] ingest the ferric ferrocyanide; eat it for a couple of days. [Next,] by measuring myself in a whole-body counter, [I could observe the] turnover rate would get down to about 40 days. I would stop the ingestion of the dye. Then I'd go back immediately to [something] like 100 to 120 days [half-time].36 So, we did the this seesaw experiment with dogs, primarily, before we did it with ourselves. And then, the group in Norway was doing work with that, also.
But it turns out that [for] ferric ferrocyanide, there's a pharmaceutical37 material in Germany called Radiogarde. I've seen it in reactors, for example in Brazil: in the reactor in case of an accident [involving radiation], workers can ingest it. It's never been approved for use in the United States. After the Chernobyl accident, as you mentioned, it was given to people and animals, [because of the] commercial aspect for the animals to rid the cesium faster.38 So that work was done at Los Alamos. At the same time, there were people interested in working with compounds to accelerate the turnover of other radioactive materials, including plutonium. DTPA39 [and] materials like that were being studied.
|FISHER:||Is Prussian blue still the most effective antidote for ingestion of cesium?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, for accelerating the turnover of cesium, Prussian blue is the most effective.|
|FISHER:||What about for cesium which is distributed throughout the whole body? Is there any mechanism for enhancing the clearance of cesium [deposited in tissues]?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, actually, ferrocyanide [(Prussian blue)] will do that. Because even though the long-term retention component is 100 to 120 days, that doesn't mean that it's sitting in muscle, for example, all that time and periodically losing some of the atoms to give you that 120-day turnover time. The flux is very complicated. So those [cesium] atoms are getting out into the gut and back in, during that time when you have this real nice single exponential.40 But, every time one of the atoms goes out into the gutand think of the gut as a hole in a donutif you entrap it there, it can't get back in. So, that's one of [the] nice things [about] ferrocyanide: the efficiency of treatment is proportional to the [length of] time [over which] you administer it.|
|HARRELL:||So, you have to keep taking this antidote to keep clear of everything that comes into the gut?|
|RICHMOND:||Exactly. Your treatmentthink of it this way: You have a single pill that you take, and it's affected by materials that it sees in the gut, coming from the body. Well, if you can take that pill and subdivide it into smaller and smaller pieces and take that during the day many times, there are many more opportunities for that [binding] to happen.|
|FISHER:||What year was this when you did this studies on Prussian blue, approximately?|
|FISHER:||How much time did you spend in the whole-body counter?|
A lot. One: the counters were being developed at Los Alamos. Two: we were very much interested in cesium from fallout in people. So one of the studies that Ernie Anderson and I were responsible for was to measure the cesium-137 in people from fallout. So we had a select population of people from Los Alamos, primarily people in the Labnot just our H-4 group, but from other parts of the Lab. We would count those people weekly or monthly and plot the amount of cesium in the body as a function of time. It went way up, as you probably know, prior to the 1964 test ban. So that involved a lot [of] materials that we took ourselves: zinc-65; some sodium[-24]; or cesium[-137], for example, we used. Fortunately, for the alkaline metals we were able to use gamma emitters. Gamma emitters are easy to measure with the liquid [scintillation] counter. The liquid counters were large tubes, actually. But you had [a] sling and pulled the person into the center of this long tube.
|FISHER:||Did you do your own dose calculations on these radionuclides before the experiments?|
|HARRELL:||Or did you have another physicist to help with the dosimetry?|
|RICHMOND:||Well, that was part of my education, to learn how to do that, but obviously I got a lot of help.|
|HARRELL:||Who taught you this?|
|RICHMOND:||Ernie Anderson was a key guy. Langham was involved. And a man [named] Joe Sayeg, who was sort of the key dosimetrist for that group. He's now at the University of Kentucky.|
|HARRELL:||Could you spell that name?|
|RICHMOND:||S-A-Y-E-G. Joseph Sayeg.|
|FISHER:||He was the photographer then for the Health Physics Society.|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, right. He used to tutor me and help me a lot with on the mathematics.|
|FISHER:||I know him very well.|
|RICHMOND:||There were a lot of questions about whether materials would follow exponential rules, or something called the power function [(y=axn)]. So we did a lot of the mathematics.|
|FISHER:||Even though the doses were considered to be low, what were the doses that [you] allowed yourself to ingest? In terms of absorbed dose, did you set for yourself any maximums?|
|RICHMOND:||No, these were all within the allowable guides at the times, so we didn't worry about that. That was done, and there was obvious interest in the material itself: "How [should] you put the radioactive material in the thing you were going to drink?" George Voelz was [the] physician at the time, and he used to be involved in helping us with the protocol.41|
|FISHER:||Was there any time when you took a radioactive material not administered by a physician, or was there always a physician [present] for these intakes?|
|RICHMOND:||As far as I remember, there was always one [present]. [Such as] Tom Ship man, who headed the Health Division [and served as the Lab's Medical Director], or Dr. Lushbaugh. Now, Lushbaugh was in that group, also H-4, and he was doing work related to patients in the hospital, leukemia-related studies. So Lush was sort of the resident physician. There were several others involved in H-4 who were physicians: Irene Boone, and Harry Fore man. In fact, there [were] quite a few physicians. Harry Foreman was the man who did most of the work with chelating agents42 to try to accelerate the loss of plutonium.|
|FISHER:||So in other words, was there a Lab policy, or just an understood policy, that you wouldn't ingest or receive an injection, of course, without this being administered by a physician?|
|RICHMOND:||I don't think there was any written policy.|
|FISHER:||But it was understood?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, it was understood.|
|FISHER:||There had to be a physician.|
|RICHMOND:||In fact, the technicians who worked with me, they were also medical techni cians, for example. Since they were not physicians, they couldn't inject people. All [injections] had to be done by licensed physicians.|
|HARRELL:||In your experience, do you think there was more experimentation on the scientists themselves done at Los Alamos than at the other Labs?|
|RICHMOND:||Probably true, probably true.|
|HARRELL:||Why do you think that was: just the people that were there?|
|RICHMOND:||Well, I think several things. One, there was an interesting grouping of phy sicians, mathematicians, physicists, biologists. Two, the building was right next to a hospital, so that naturally you had more physicians around. Three, that's where the development was taking place, in terms of detectors, scin tillators, [and] whole-body counters. They graduated from liquid to crystals to even more sophisticated [binds] into the modern counters [used] in medi cine today, actually. Later on, I think, some of the Government Laborato ries had hands-on, physicianpatient interactions. ORINS43 here in Oak Ridge, Brookhaven,44 for example. There were at least those two, maybe one in the Chicago area,45 but they are all gone now.|
|FISHER:||It would be interesting for you to describe some of the work done by these people: Ernie Anderson, Wright Langham, maybe going back to Harry Foreman. He was, as you say, interested in EDTA46 as a chelating agent for plutonium. And he also did some studies of carbon-14labeled EDTA to understand the metabolism of just the salt itself. Can you remember some of those studies?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes. In fact, there were several people involved in that. Newt
Hayes, as I mentioned earlier, was an organic chemist. He and Harry had some com
Newt would get some materials called terpenes; that's a chemical that you can extract from plants. Newt was looking at the 14C-labeled terpenes, using 14C [(carbon-14)]47 to measure certain things about terpenes as an indicator of carbon-14 in nuclear falloutin terms of how it built up in different [carbon] reservoirs in different plants. 14C was used by quite a few people, in dating for example.
Ernie Anderson had an interest in using different radionuclides for dating. Harry, as you mentioned, was interested in using 14C and other labels for tracing things like DTPA and EDTA. Irene Boone was a physician using 14C labels with isoniazid48 [and] some other compounds used in medicine.
Some of the military folks that were therethere were usually one or two physicians from the military; Kent Woodward was onethey were also using 14C and other tags, for different reasons. And again, the reason for that is that the technology for measuring small amounts [of radionuclides] was being developed and evolving about the same time in that Laboratory, in that complex.
|FISHER:||You haven't mentioned [that] you worked a lot with Louis Hempelmann.49|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, that was later on, toward the last of my service at Los
Alamos. Louis had been at Rochester, and Louis was very much interested in the
study that Wright and Louis started on following up GIs,50 a couple of dozen military folks, who
worked on the first bomb in Los Alamos.|
Hempelmann was a very interesting guy. Early on, he was involved in the Manhattan District,51 in the medical parts, and he did a lot of the tromping around down at the Trinity52 site, trying to find people who might have been exposed inadvertently in the fallout. Anyway, my main involvement was as a coauthor on papers to follow the health of a group of a couple dozen, roughly, GIs who [had] worked with very high levels of plutonium, under pretty primitive conditions, when they were racing to build a bomb. You probably know that history. They wanted to get this thing done and tested before the Potsdam meeting53 and things like that.
Langham was key in getting that started. Louie Hempelmann was the phy sician, and [later] George Voelz kind of inherited the responsibility [for the follow-up studies]. He still has it, I guess, even though he has retired. Hempelmann had moved to Los AlamosI'm not sure whenfrom Roch ester. When I was there, I got involved in a 25-year follow-up or something like that. Periodically, these survivors are seen by their own physicians, and there's a protocol for their health studies. And then, every once in a while, [every] three [or] five years, they all congregate at Los Alamos for very thorough measurements. The idea here is to try to find out as much as you can about the potential impact, adverse effects of plutonium on those folks who were known to get high exposures.
|HARRELL:||So, these 25 or 26 men were happy to participate in this program?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, in fact I understand, I don't know how many are left, but they still get together periodically.|
|FISHER:||There was a report in the December  issue of Health Physics, an even later follow-up of this same worker population.|
|RICHMOND:||It has been published five or six times, I guess, over the
years. The risk is [that] if that happen[s], in today's world, if we had a
couple of dozen peo ple exposed to an almost unknown agent, except [that] you
knew it could cause problems based on animals or similar materials in man, that
kind of study would never be done because people would say, "You cannot
whether or not, if you see a bone or lung cancer later on, that was due to
chance or whatever."|
Now that's true. But, what is also true is the uniqueness at that time. Here was a handful of people who were exposed, and you knew they were ex posed to fairly high levels compared to what you think they should be ex posed to, based on animal experiments. The question at the time was, "What do you do? Do you study them or don't you?"
Retrospectively, after all these years, all those fuzzy things are going to come out, because there is at least one bone cancer and lung cancer [among the study population]. And the statistics say, "All right, that's what you'd expect." I'm not up on that last study, so I don't know where they are ex actly. But, on the other hand, I think today the pressures would be so strong [that the prevailing sentiment would be, "A study] may or may not show something, so why bother?" That's the wrong attitude. [When] you have unique agents [(factors contributing to exposure)], you have to take advan tage of those human populations [who were exposed].
|FISHER:||There may never be the same opportunity again.|
|FISHER:||In conjunction with the original plutonium-injection cases, it's been said that Wright Langham was very reluctant to discuss this after the 1940s. You came to Los Alamos sometime in the 1950s. Did you ever have discus sions with your group leader, Wright Langham, about the 18 people in jected with plutonium in the 1945-to-1946 era?|
|RICHMOND:||No, that was never really [a] point of discussion. What was interesting it involved LA-115155was the document that was classified for many years. We would continually take that data and feed in all sorts of addi tional data and try to refine the excretion curve.56 A lot of us were interested in that.|
|HARRELL:||-1151 was the Rochester report?|
|RICHMOND:||No, Los Alamos, by Langham et al. That's the one that was
classified. But in terms of the early history of "who did what" and "who
authorized what" and "where were they done," that was never
really kicked around, and I don't understand why. I guess my feeling was, "Here
is a set of data."|
In fact, right now, one of the key issues is whether or not these injectees were or were not expected to have long or short survival times. What every one said and wrote at the timeWright and otherswas that they were expected to have short lifetimes. Now, that's under contention. And the argument isthis New York Times argument and allthat not only were they not told what was happening, but they, indeed, were more healthy than Langham [had indicated]. And others said, "If you just look at the litera ture, it's clear that everyone who wrote on it would refer back to the early statements and documents and say they were expected to have short sur vival times."
|FISHER:||Less than 10 years. You've written extensively on the plutonium injection cases; I've read some of your articles on this.|
|RICHMOND:||The reason for that is I was on loan to the Atomic Energy
Commission in 1968 for about three years. During that time, Pat Durbin57 got very much interested in the
plutonium data and revisiting it. And while I was on loan, she asked me to try
to get some help in getting [LA-]1151 declassified. It took a while, but
we did. So, the last declassification step [was] from LA- 1151 OUO,
[meaning] Official Use Only, to no classification. That was really done through
Pat Durbin's pushing, with my help when I was on loan from Los Alamos to the
Atomic Energy Commission. And that happened in 1971, I believe, the final
The reason for that is, Pat was digging into that literature, and people had been referring to bits and pieces of that for years. Wright was referring to -1151 in the literature and the English were refining the [plutonium turn over] curves. Pat's argument was, "Why don't we get that key document out, where everybody can see all the details, instead of writing to Wright Langham?" and things like that. That declassification was, as I recall, in May 1971. I'd have to go back and confirm that, but it happened just after I spent my couple of years there. I actually ended up working at AEC for two of those three years.
|FISHER:||Who did you work with and for at the AEC during this period?|
|RICHMOND:||Mainly Dave [(H.D.)] Bruner, who was a physician. [Also] a man
named Joe Goldstein, who was a physician. He was mainly involved in nuclear-
He was involved with the external radiation studies of the prisoners up in the northwest; [Carl G.] Heller, et al.58
|FISHER:||Which one, Goldstein?|
|RICHMOND:||Joe Goldstein, when I was there, he was at ?|
|HARRELL:||He oversaw those programs?|
|RICHMOND:||At that time. He was the contact in Washington in the AEC.|
|FISHER:||You worked under John Totter,59 also?|
|RICHMOND:||Totter toward the end. Earlier on, Chuck Dunham[, his immediate predeces sor as head of the AEC's Division of Biology and Medicine]. In fact, Dun ham asked me, when I was at Los Alamos, to come back to Washington. I remember because Wright was still alive and said, "Oh, you want to be a bureaucrat."|
|FISHER:||(smiling) The end of a good scientific career.|
|RICHMOND:||There were three or four vets [(veterinarians)] involved with that group I was in. Ed Still, Frank Brooks, Roger McClellan had been up there earlier. So there was a mix of mainly physicians and veterinarians.|
|HARRELL:||What did you do when you got to Washington?|
|RICHMOND:||That's interesting. I was kind of in awe. I went to work for
this big Federal agencyJohn Storer was there, by the way, at the time. The
first thing they told me was, "Here is what we want you to do." I saw
this list of Hanford,60 the
Albuquerque laboratory [named] ITRI,61
Salt Lake City's University of Utah, U[niversity of] C[alifornia at] Davis. I
guess they're the main ones, and Argonne [National Laboratory]. [To] kind of
worry about these animal studies. And my first reaction was, "What are all
you guys going to be doing?" And [John Storer] said [basically], "Obviously
there has to be a second round of large-animal studies for plutonium, and I want
you to go to these laboratories and do an assessment, and come back and tell us
[which lab] we ought to put them [in]."|
I remember, because I went first to [the University of] Rochester [in Roch ester, New York]. They were an interesting group. They had gotten off into more basic cellular biology. They basically said, "We don't want to do that scutt work." To make a long story short, we focused on two, finally; the Albuquerque lab [(ITRI)] and Battelle [Pacific Northwest Laboratory in Richland]. Our assessment, the one I gave back [to AEC], was that the Albuquerque lab was so involved with their original mission on fission product [toxicology], a combination of fission products,62 which I don't think they ever got around to really, except indirectly. We decided that Battelle should be the site for a follow-on study, so-called "low-dose pluto nium." That was my first assignment: to make th[at] recommendation.
|FISHER:||Part of the reason for that second study was that the first studies were con ducted at high levels, and a lot of information was missing at the very-low- intake levels. The work at Battelle was primarily inhalation [toxicology], and it was felt that there was too little information on the metabolism of inhaled plutonium.|
|RICHMOND:||These are, like, 16- to 18-year commitments.|
|FISHER:||[Yes, because the studies would have to consider] different chemical forms of plutonium: the insoluble plutonium-238, -239; and then the soluble plutonium nitrate. It's interesting that you were responsible for getting that work started at Hanford. For me, that's interesting because I've had a chance to do some analyses on those dogs who were involved in that study. That's very, very, interesting.|
|HARRELL:||Did you design the protocols or the types of materials to be studied?|
|RICHMOND:||No, that was basically the responsibility of the Hanford
people. We were involved in reviewing it, and all. But, we didn't design it and
say, "Here, go do it."|
The other major activity I had was that before I went there to AEC, there was a lot of uncertainly about the so-called nonuniform dose distribution, "hot particles." We were trying to get a better hold on that.
|FISHER:||You might give some introduction as to why the controversy developed, where it came from.|
|RICHMOND:||I guess one of the big drivers was the use of plutonium-238 in
radioisotope thermoelectric generators for space applications. As you may know,
there's a bunch [of plutonium-238] on the moon that was left there. There's some
in space vehicles and there's one in the Tonga Trench [in the Tonga Islands of
the South Pacific] that came back with Apollo 13, plus the [plutonium left on
the moon by] astronauts on the lunar module, the landing module. Half-life is a
lot shorterit's about 87 years, as, I remember, compared to the
24,000-plus years for plutonium-239.63
What happens is that it disinte grates relatively rapidly, and the concern was
the spallation64 [from] the
surface of other materials; alpha emitters65
and plutonium-238. Plus the factand this [concern] spreads over to
plutonium-239if you have any applications where you might have small
particles, even very, very, small particles, any exposure to people would have a
different pattern compared to where you have [only] individual atoms.|
So the question was, is the radiation dose more effective or less effective for a dose, a given quantity, a given weight, whether you have it evenly distributed in many, many, tiny pieces or the other [case], if you imagine it coming, aggregating, now you have one piece. So we did at lot of the origi nal work in Los Alamos using rodents, where we would [inject] extremely small particles, which were still horrendously large for radiation dose. These were very small, ten microns,66 in some cases. We would inject them into the tail vein, and these would circulate. [We'd] inject them in different places, where they could lodge in the lungs, and then [we would] do the [effects] studies.
There [were] other reasons for that, too. That was the point in time where the U.S. thought we would have a lot more involvement with the use of reactorsnot just energy generators, but full reactors in space. Kiwi67 was tested in Nevada for that. As you probably know, at least three of those Russian satellite [reactors] have reentered the atmosphere, one over Can ada.68 Question there was, "What happens to particulates if you ingest them?"
Number one question was, "Do small particles get hung up in the GI [gas trointestinal] tract in the diverticula69 and the villi70 and all?" So in that casegetting away from plutonium nowwe used simulated particles of different densities. At Los Alamos, the interest was on the transit of these materials, very small particles. Up at Hanford, I'm trying to think of the nameVic Smith, I thinkwas interested in using highly radioactive particulates. They were using pigs, as I remember. There were several people around the country, who were looking at several parts of the same problem, namely "Do small particles get trapped in [the] GI tract by virtue of their small size?"
The second part of the question is, "If [the particles] are highly radioactive, do they behave differently?" Plutonium-238 pilot studies that we did in Los Alamos, I led that effort. We actually used more plutonium-238 in the pilot studies and the design of the experiment and getting the new facility (which was only about four or five rooms, actually) up and running, than was used in the entire experiment that went on for a couple years after that. Working with plutonium-238 was a real challenge because it's so highly radioactive. Even the tiny particles, materials will flake off the surface, so it's a very difficult thing to work with.
|HARRELL:||Was it even dangerous to have in your hands the syringe to inject into the animal?|
|RICHMOND:||No, because [for] alpha particles, the energy isn't high
enough to get through the glass or anything. However, the particles we worked
with were so small that it was difficult to know where they were, at times. One
of the interesting parts of that is that we had detection equipment; we used the
alpha meters [that] were in a web-type canvas carrying material. Well, the
instruments themselves were sent to Santa Fe periodically to get recalibrated.
Then they would come back into the Laboratory somewhere else, and they would be
assigned to different research groups. At one point in time, we had one come
back from Santa Fe, and in the process of check ing it in or something, they
detected one of these small particles in the webbing of the carrying case. It
was traced back to our laboratory, actually, where one day one of them got loose
and we couldn't find it. But it ended up [being found] in the webbing of the
Anyway, the conclusions of many studies [at] many places were that gener ally, for alpha emitters, the more the material diffused for a given [amount of] material, the more potential hazard than if you have it in one piece. With the one piece, the damage is so intense that you have cell killing and walling off, as opposed to a lot of events, where one of them, statistically, can initiate a tumor.71
|FISHER:||You published a nice report, an AEC report in 1974 on the hot particle problem.|
|RICHMOND:||With Dr. Bair?72|
|FISHER:||With Dr. Bair and Bruce Wachholz.|
|RICHMOND:||He[, Wachholz,] is at a National Cancer Institute now. Bill Bair, myself, and Bruce did that.|
|FISHER:||And, just as a side-light, I think it's interesting that I ended up using some of these plutonium microspheres in my own work in the early 1980s. I think I got Dr. [Ernie] Anderson to send it to me. Similar kinds of work on cells in vitro,(73) which reconfirmed your report in 1974, using the same pluto niumzirconium microspheres.|
|RICHMOND:||This was a real challenge because of the nature of the material and the fact that it had not been used, in a large sense, in biological settings. But no one on that project received any measurable internal contamination.|
|FISHER:||Even though it was a fairly difficult thing to make those zirconium oxide microspheres of uniform particle size. I remember there was a spinning- disk technology that had been developed to make them.|
|RICHMOND:||Sol gel, actually? But, earlier on, when we got the
plutonium-238 spheres from Mound Laboratories [Miamisburg, Ohio] they were,
allegedly, intact. There would be no spallation. These were the bigger ones, a
couple hundred microns. Boy, we got shocked when we first opened some of those
shipping containers. The material had crept all over. People denied it and they
[basi cally] said, "No, no, no. The way these are made with the plasma
torch, no way that this could be happening." After a while everybody
agreed, "Yes, it [is] happening."|
It's a common phenomenon, it turns out, for very intense, relatively short- lived alpha emitters. You get the spallation from the surface. We were able show that experimentally. We would embed some of these spheres in an organ somewhere [or] in muscle very carefully, and, then we would take tissues from the animals at different times and do autoradiographic74 stud ies. You could actually see [on the photographic negative] single tracks [of individual alpha particles at] long distances. [It] meant that the material was coming off, not in flakes, but ultimately in individual atoms. You could see this with the autoradiographs, [at] long distances from the spheres. That information got back into people who were making them and working with them at Mound Laboratories.
|HARRELL:||So you would end up having several [smaller] particles after you injected [one larger] one?|
|RICHMOND:||For those big ones, you really didn't know what was happening. One of the other things that we worked with [was] iodine, for example. Folks were doing a lot at Los Alamos working with iodine-131, primarily. We were interested in isotopes that had longer half-lives, so we did a lot of work with iodine-125, which had a 60-day half-life. Several things came out. I'm a biologist, but I have at least two publications on the physical half-life of radionuclides.|
|RICHMOND:||Right, and iodine-125. It turns out that iodine-125 is the most often used radionuclide today, by [some] of the protein chemists and folks like that. Enormous applications. And, at that time, I thought everybody kn[e]w the half-life of iodine-125, and it wasn't so. The argument is that even people doing these tracer studies were contributing to the literature, which tradi tionally physicists generated; half-lives and physical characteristics.|
|HARRELL:||You also did some work on strontium-85 retention?|
|HARRELL:||Was that part of overall fallout-studies program?|
|RICHMOND:||Yeah, the rationale there again was that strontium-90 from fallout was a beta emitter75 and you couldn't put a person into a counter and get an accu rate estimate of body burden. What we were trying to do was get a feel for retention of strontium by using external counters, i.e., some isotope that had a gamma emission.76 We found that strontium-85 was the isotope that met those characteristics, so we did some work with strontium-85 in ani mals, not in people.|
|HARRELL:||Why did you use skin absorption?|
|RICHMOND:||Back in Los Alamos, the questions that arose were, "How
do you get mate rial in your body through wounds, ingestion, and also skin
absorptions?" The [person] at Los Alamos, as I recall, who did most of that
work was [physicist] Marv[in A.] Van Dilla, again using the advanced counting
equipment.77 I don't remember
him doing strontium-85. I'm not surprised; it's probably something we did
Iodine was of interest. The ritual was to take a person and set them next to a very sensitive detector; put some material on the hand in a controlled way; put the hand in a shield that would shield the radioactive material from the [detector]; and the body is looking at a detector. So anything that's ab sorbed through the skin gets into the circulation [and] will leave [the hand in] that shielded cave and get out into the body. Once it's in the body, it can be detected. So, that was all part of this general interest of the skin absorp tion; how the materials moved through the skin. That never turned into a large study, actually. Van Dilla was the main PI [(principal investigator)] on that, Marvin Van Dilla.
|FISHER:||So, you never really did work with any strontium-85 or ingestion or injec tions in human subjects?|
|RICHMOND:||No. I think we did some animal work|
|FISHER:||You did some animal work, but did you do some human studies?|
|RICHMOND:||I don't think so, but I'm not positive.78|
|FISHER:||At least none come to mind?|
|HARRELL:||For these body counter experiments, were the subjects Lab employees?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, all except one. No, that's true[, what you suggested:] for the whole- body experiments, they were all employees.|
|HARRELL:||Were most of the human subjects Lab employees in the studies that you did?|
|RICHMOND:||Any of the work that I did, they were all Lab employees,
except one. You probably heard this story already, when we were interested in
the movement of small, discrete particles. We did a study, after we did studies
with dogs, where we would feed them the particle once a day and follow that
through [their digestive tracts]. We needed some information on people (to
confirm that). And that was a study that's been reported in several of these
reviews. We took small spheres, very small, 100 to 200 microns. ([A] hair is
about 50 microns across, to give you some feeling of that [size].) We had two
kinds of particles. One was a very low density. Essentially a plastic kind of
material, ceramic with manganese-54 in it, that could be easily measured from
[its] gamma rays. Then, we had some unfissioned uranium spheres, very
high-density. So, what we wanted to see was, "When you have a very tiny
particle go through the GI tract, how important is density?" People were
arguing that plutonium, uranium, and things like this, or fuel from space
reactors or accidents, [of] high density would lodge in the villi in the small
[linings] of the gut. So we did this and we reported it.79|
Since then, I've been asked several times about details of that experiment. It was published, [in the] open literature, [complete with] dosimetry [infor mation]; everything is in there. [As] it turns out, one of the people was not an employee [but] was my wife. Well, I just used to talk to her about what we did, and she was interested, so that was the one exception.
|FISHER:||What was the outcome of the project? Did these small particles pass en tirely through GI tract?|
|RICHMOND:||There was no difference in [the excretion rates of particles of different densities]. The reason we put the tag on them was so that would measure that, but it was a very difficult measurement problem. We would take stools, feces, and put them in press them, actuallyin plastic bags be tween two very large detectors [made of] sodium-iodide [crystals]. And these would be counted all night, as I remember. So it was a very challeng ing process to detect them. The doses were extremely small, and that was all documented.|
|FISHER:||The doses were very small, but how did you get Mrs. Richmond to partici pate in the fecal collection part of the study?|
|FISHER:||(laughter) Devotion to the scientist or the husband?|
|RICHMOND:||Both, I guess. She just got interested in it, I guess.|
|HARRELL:||Did you do studies similar to those for nonradioactive particles and other kinds of pollutants?|
|FISHER:||Weren't there also some uranium microsphere studies done with 100- to 200-micron ceramic particles with 235U?|
|RICHMOND:||Yeah, that's what I just mentioned. One was manganese-54, low-density, and the other was uranium, nonfissioned, but extremely small amounts [of] uranium in those 100-micron spheres.|
|FISHER:||Were they high-density or low-?|
|RICHMOND:||High-density. The manganese were in ceramic, low-density. The uranium fuel pellets, spheres, had traces of uranium-235 in them; that's what we were measuring, actually. So again, we had low-density and high-density; same size, different tags. One [tag was] built into the uranium-235, and the other [(manganese-54)] was commercially available. The medical profes sion used it for lodging in different tissues. That material, the only way we could detect it, since they were so small, was to put a tag it. Our conclusion was that it didn't make any difference. That does not say that if th[ere] was a fission particle with a high radiation field it would stay in.|
|FISHER:||I've looked through your list of publications, and also we've done some searches on the annual reports at Los Alamos, and I was going to ask you if the following radionuclides were studied in man, or just in animals. In some cases its difficult to find specific mention of radionuclides studies in man where there are many animal studies. Some examples would be ruthenium-106.|
|RICHMOND:||All [exclusively in] animals.|
|FISHER:||All animals. Silver-110, manganese-54 as a metabolite.80 Do you recall any human studies with manganese-54?|
|RICHMOND:||Not offhand, other than the spheres that I just mentioned.|
|FISHER:||Any of the plutonium isotopes in man?|
|RICHMOND:||Beryllium, as I recall, was all [studied in] animals.|
|FISHER:||I'm sure I haven't covered them all.|
|RICHMOND:||Many of these, after we worked on cesium and a few others, we felt pretty comfortable about the doing the work in animals and predicting what would happen in man.|
|FISHER:||You've already mentioned strontium.|
|RICHMOND:||I'd have to recheck that but I don't recall work with strontium-85 in people. But I'd need to look carefully.|
|FISHER:||One of the most worked-with radioactive materials at Los Alamos was radiolanthanumbarium-140, lanthanum-140. Did you do any biological studies on this radionuclide whatsoever?|
|RICHMOND:||Not at all, and I don't think anybody in that group did, at all.|
|FISHER:||Why was this one not studied in your group?|
|RICHMOND:||I have no idea. They were used in a testing"RaLa" I guess it was called.81 So, that was happening in some of the canyons [near Los Alamos]. I knew that, at Los Alamos. I'm not sure why it wasn't.|
|FISHER:||Was it perhaps because the use of radiolanthanum was classified?|
|RICHMOND:||I have no idea.|
|HARRELL:||So you had no connection with that program or the warfare program?|
|FISHER:||That's interesting to me, I think, in an historical sense, why barium lantha num was not given intense biological investigation. Maybe it had been but we just don't know about it.|
|RICHMOND:||Or it might have been done somewhere else.|
|FISHER:||Done somewhere else previously.|
|RICHMOND:||My extent of that was hearing bangs once in a while when they
had explosions down in the canyons.|
Incidentally, one thing I did want to mention, in that '74 publication that you mentioned on plutonium[zirconium microspheres]. I think I brought a copy with me. (picks up his copy and begins to flip through the front pages as he talks) We were very careful to point out that even though 30 years had elapsed from those original exposures of the GIs and other popu lations, we shouldn't be complacent; we needed to wait and see what the outcomes would be.Here it is, it's a front-end summary:
The message I would like leave with you is that we have not observed any serious biological consequences of man from occupational exposure to pluto nium. The next logical question is, "How do you know or have you looked?" We have indeed looked and the record
This was a summary
the record today is quite reassuring. However, I would like to point that past is not always prologue, cheerful as that thought might be. Although the final answers are not in, I would hasten to add that we now have information on people which has spanned almost three decades, so that the argument of la tency for certain late effects (how long does it take to produce a tumor) is losing impact in at least some of the cases I will discuss.
|FISHER:||You have just read one [of] the paragraphs from a paper entitled "Current Status of Information Obtained from Plutonium-Contaminated People," by yourself, Chet Richmond, reprinted from Radiation Research Biomedi cal, Chemical and Physical Perspectives 1975, published by Academic Press.|
|RICHMOND:||The point is, I think serious investigators who are interested in radiation effects [are] well-aware that, in many cases, you have to wait, depending on what you're looking for. And this was specificallyI was pleased to go back and read this [just now]I was pleased with myself, that we had foresight to state that, "Even 30 years might not be enough time."|
|FISHER:||For follow[-up] studies on these workers. It was interesting that this popu lation was also fairly young when it was exposed.|
|RICHMOND:||Young GIs, just out of college.|
|FISHER:||So, it was a unique population.|
|HARRELL:||Were there animal studies that ever had a span of twenty years?|
|RICHMOND:||Closest ones I know of were some of the beagle studies at Hanford, Albu querque, Salt Lake [City], and [the University of California at] Davis.|
|HARRELL:||I guess you have to have a relatively long-lived species?|
|RICHMOND:||Right. I think some of the swine studies, the pigs at Hanford, I think some of those extended out for quite a few years. But rodents don't live that long: a couple of years or so for a mouse. Four or five, [in] that range, for ro dents.|
|HARRELL:||You did some work on the effects of a criticality82 at Los Alamos in 1958, with Lushbaugh. There was an injury to a man.|
|FISHER:||Are you referring to the Kelley case?83|
|RICHMOND:||I was involved in that, but I wasn't an author or anything. It was sort of aalmost everybody in that group, H-4, got involved.|
|FISHER:||Why don't you give us a little background on the accident?|
|RICHMOND:||It's kind of interesting. It happened [at] the end of the year; I don't quite remember the year.|
|RICHMOND:||Right, 1958. That was pretty common. A lot of the criticality deaths were done during inventory activities, which normally were the end of the year.|
|FISHER:||And when you say at the end of year, you probably mean the last day of the year, December 31st.|
|RICHMOND:||The calendar year, toward the end of calendar year . The
inventories were done for the year. Kelley was my neighbor; he lived next-door
in Los Alamos. I knew him and his wife very well. Anyway, he was exposed, and
died 30-some hours later. New Year's morning [I remember], because several of us
were at a New Year's party. There was a snowfall; it must have been a foot and a
half of snow. I had a call from Dr. Lushbaugh, say ing, "We want you to
come over to HRL (Health Research Lab). Kelley died." |
Now, from the time of the accident until he died, the major interest was in the site of the excursion,84 where that happened, the criticality. Because there was concern that it was still pulsing, there was concern that it could go through more criticality steps. Kelley was in the hospital. A couple of other people had been involved.
Before Kelley diedLet me go back a little. We had been making measure ments on some other people who [had been] involved [in the accident], and it turns out that as we took them down the stairwell to the counting areas where we had the whole-body counter and the crystal counter, the count [rate] went off [the] scale on the liquid [scintillation] counters. So, we knew we couldn't measure Rod. I don't remember his [last] name. He was the person who had the second-highest dose; his first name was Rod. We had been very much concerned about Kelley, and again all [the] physicians, everybody, was sort of [on] standby.
After Kelley died, there were a lot of samples made availablenails, teeth, hair. Lots of people were making measurements, sodium activation [in the victim's hair etc.], trying to get a better estimate on the dose. Several large publications came out on reconstructing the accident, the dosimetry, what was known about blood counts, and things like that.
My major involvement was, when Kelley died, they said, "We really want to try to get a better estimate on the things that were activated by neutrons in the body[stable] sodium[-23] for example." That's why we couldn't measure Rod, one of the survivors. He was so intensively radioactive, be cause the sodium[-23] in the body, a lot of it, got activated to make sodium- 24.
Anyway, they took Kelly's bodyIn fact, since I knew Lushbaugh, I guess it was just coincidence that I was one of the first people there after he died, early on the first [of January]. Lush and I took the body over on the gurney85 from the hospital to the HRL building, which is just a couple hundred yards. Last time I talked to Lush, [we] couldn't remember if it was a gurney or a stretcher.
We placed Kelley's corpse in one corner of a large cubical room with about eight- to twelve-inch steel [walls], inside of which was a sodium iodine [crystalline] detector. [The corpse] was still so intensely radioactive that we just had no way of calibrating. So, we left the door [of the room] open, then we closed the door, as I remember. We made some measurements and said, "Well, now we have to try somehow to calibrate this."
So Marvin Van Dilla and I think Ernie Anderson were in charge of that, and they said to me, "You've got some cesium in you, don't you?" I said, "Yes." So anyway, I lay down exactly where Kelley [had been], and this was early in the morning, very cold, [on] eight or so inches [of] steel, and I remember because they wantedI was taking [his] placethe [sodium iodide] crystal in the same position [in relation to Kelley's corpse]. And, from my naturally occurring potassium and cesium and maybe even zinc at the time, we knew we could get a calibration match.86 So it turned out, I think I was there for an hour or so in that position, trying to get enough data collected, because the crystal was so far away.
|FISHER:||Did you get enough counts?|
|FISHER:||To do the calibration?|
|RICHMOND:||They took that data and somehow used it.|
|FISHER:||That's rather remarkable, in and of itself.|
|RICHMOND:||Of course, I was still fairly young then and I was thinking,
lying there in the cold, that, "Gee, this guy just died, a radiation
accident criticality!" I had read about the earlier deaths, criticality in
the early [radiation] pioneers, Dahlgren and some others. There was a lot going
through my mind at the time, plus [the discomfort of] being real cold.|
Anyway, that was a full-bore thing. Payne Harris was doing calculations, and they were resimulating it, and they were taking samples, as I men tionedhair and nailsand looking at things [in the body] that were acti vated, [such as] sulfur. So, that was my only involvement with that critical ity.
|HARRELL:||Did you have any involvement with the SL-187 autopsy?|
|RICHMOND:||No. Some of the people did at the Lab. Lush was involved, and Payne Har ris.|
|HARRELL:||Was that because of the experience at Los Alamos with other accidents of that type that they were called in?|
|RICHMOND:||I think that, plus the closeness. Well, one thing I
did want to mention to you. There was, back in that 1970, 1971 period, around
that time when Pat Durbin was really exercising a lot of people to sort of get
more information out on the plutonium, she had been contacting me because I was
in Wash ington. Then, after I went back to Los Alamos [from my two-year stint at
the AEC] in 1971, [in] the AEC there was intense interest in all this busi ness
on plutonium and injectees. I sent this to Don Petersen in case they didn't have
it at Los Alamos. I sent this letter to Sid Marks, who was a physician in the
Division of Biomedical Environmental Research. This is March 22nd, and that was
in response to a request from him, sort of [asking me] "What do you know
about plutonium in people, reports?"|
I just noticed, I don't have the list of references attached, but I think there were like 24, including some of the early Manhattan District. Some of these reports that I mentioned in my letter to Sid Marks of March 22, 1974, mentioned that these reports are available, were available.
|HARRELL:||That was after the declassification of [LA-]1151?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, [the declassification] was 1971, as I recall. This was an attempt on my part to respond on anything I knew that was available. As I mentioned, open-literature publications and I did, yes, you're right. I said, "Los Alamos Scientific Lab Report 1151 is one of the most valuable prime sources of data on the subject. The OUO classification was removed in May 1971." So that was an attempt, in 1974, to provide information back to AEC, reports and things. I guess that must have coincided with a previous time when people were interested in gathering information on the [human] sub jects.|
|FISHER:||Well, there were three. There have been several reviews of this: one in 1974 by the AEC, another in 1985 by DOE, and then the present reconsideration.|
|HARRELL:||You mentioned your work with the inhalation program at PNL89 as part of your time with the AEC. What else did you work on when you were in Washington?|
|RICHMOND:||The University of Utah; we were very much interested in sort of the assess ing where they were and where they were probably going. A lot of effort with the Albuquerque Laboratory, ITRI, [namely the] Inhalation Toxicol ogy Research Institute. That lab had been created many years earlier. Their mission was sort of, I'm simplifying this, "What would happen if a reactor exploded and you had a lot of mixed fission products in various forms, gaseous and particles, and so on?" They had been studying a typical beta emitter, a typical alpha emitter, etc. Ultimately [they were] going to com bine these [research areas]. There was a fair amount of concern at the time about, "Hey, is this huge project on track? Where is it going?" Because they were diversifying into cellular biology and all kinds of things.|
|HARRELL:||Were they interested in short-term effects, or all kinds of effects?|
|RICHMOND:||Their mission, as I recall, was, "What would be the biological effects, both short-term and long-term?" So, it was whoever designed that [who could answer your question]. Retrospectively, I think it was kind of not well- thought-out, really. I think the pressures at the time were concerns about large reactor accidents.|
|HARRELL:||Was some of that information used in Chernobyl to help clean up or help the victims?|
|RICHMOND:||I doubt it very much. I don't think so. Anyway, that was
mainly the thing when I was back in the AEC, on loan, or as an employee
reviewing some of those programs.|
In fact, what I just told you was part of the reason for the decision to have that new low-dose experiment with dogs take place at Battelle. Because we were kind of concerned about exactly what would be happening next at ITRI in Albuquerque, and what their capabilities were to take on something new before we fully understood where they were going.
Interestingly, I didn't have much to donothing to do actuallywith Rochester, except on that first tour. Your letter asked me to mention that. [During] the first tour, I mentioned earlier about looking at four or five sites to see where we would placewhere AEC would placethat low-dose plutonium dog experiment. I think the reason for that is that there were other people in the division of AEC, Division of Biology and Medicine, who were assigned to those labs, and I'm fuzzy on this, but I think Frank Brooks or Ed Still probably had that assignment.
|HARRELL:||Did you get involved much with what was going on here in Oak Ridge?|
|RICHMOND:||No there were no animal experiments going on down here. There was no comparable either small-animal or large-animal facility.90 I guess I visited Oak Ridge a couple times, probably just as part of program reviews that people would have ongoing because there were other kinds of funding going on. That time, funding was for primarily mammalian genetics; Bill Russell and [his wife], Liane Russell.|
|HARRELL:||Was there interest in the low-dose information coming out of the LETBI91 facility and cancer therapy program here?|
|RICHMOND:||At the ORINS, at ORAU?92 That, I had nothing do with at all. I'm trying to think, again that would be [physician David] Bruner and Joe Goldstein and folks like that. I'm not sure Storer was involvedprobably, since he was a physician. I think Ed Still, I'm pretty sure Ed Still was one of the staff up there who was assigned to labs, like I was, [to] some of the beagle labs.|
|HARRELL:||In 1970, the AEC adopted the NIH guidelines for the protection of humans as research subjects.93 Were you involved with the process of approving that for adoption and discussing how that would be implemented?|
|RICHMOND:||Not directly, no. Again, that was mostly the physicians. I do
remember discussions about, "AEC, let's try to make to make this pretty
much as HHS94 has it: not
develop all-new ground rules, but sort of adopt it."|
Now, when I was here at Oak Ridge as Associate Director, I was involved in human-use committees, from the standpoint of making sure we had them and [ensuring] proper representation [from the various Oak Ridge divi sions]. In fact, the study in the northwest on the irradiated prisoners,95 the gonadal irradiations, some of the biologists were going to be involved in that study here at Oak Ridge just by getting some of the tissues and doing some analyses. That went through a very rigorous review.
In fact, I brought that along; it's kind of interesting. (pulls out an old docu ment and begins to scan its pages as he talks) Actually this is September 1969, so it was before I came to Oak Ridge. But what impressed me is that Tom Lincolnlet me back off. When I came here, I was involved [in human-use guidelines] because I was the Associate Director for Biomedical and Environmental Research, [working] with human-use committees. They already had one [such committee] before I came here, but this is Tom Lin coln's statement for the minutes of the review committee for the Pacific Northwest Research Foundation[, which was conducting the prisoner stud ies]. Tom just points out here that,
By participating in this study, we (ORNL) are necessarily identified with it, regardless of any agreement, written or otherwise, with Dr. Heller. If there's any eventual ethical criticisms of this program, ORNL will inevitably share the criticism. I, therefore, believe a careful review should be conducted so that we approve of the basic ethics of the program.
That was in 1971.
|FISHER:||This indicates that ethical considerations for the prisoner study you were very high on [the] list?|
|FISHER:||And, it also indicates there must be some opinion that there were unethical aspects of the work in the State of Oregon, also, [and] up in the State of Washington?96|
|RICHMOND:||I want to make it clear, I had nothing to do with this, but [in the] process of what's been going on here at Oak Ridge, in terms of releasing documents, this one struck me as being kind of interesting. There are comments from all the reviewers here. Now, I'm on record though, in something here that was published in Oak Ridge when I got interviewed, as saying[and] I'm kind of restructuring this, it's not verbatimthat people have their own opinions about what is ethical and what is not. I personally, and it's just a personal prejudice, do not think that we should be studying, using prisoners for experimentation. That is just a reaction I have. There's no logic to it, really, but it's a gut reaction. I [have] that feel[ing], even if those people sign something.|
|FISHER:||Even if they volunteer?|
|RICHMOND:||Even if they volunteer. To me, ethically, it doesn't make sense. I'm on record for saying that. At the same time, it's interesting. They did a pretty good job [of adhering to ethical standards] back then.|
|FISHER:||And the outcome of this review is that ORNL would not participate or would participate in the analysis of tissues, do you remember?|
|RICHMOND:||No, I sure don't. I didn't get here until 1974. I'm not sure. It would be interesting to chase that down97 Grant Brewer was the person here who would have been involved or was involved.|
|HARRELL:||Yesterday, Dr. Totter told us that the University of California[, which man aged the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory,] declined to get involved with analysis of tissues for similar reasons at about that time.|
|HARRELL:||Were there ever any such human-use committees at Los Alamos back in the 1950s? Did the University of California have anything to say?|
|RICHMOND:||I don't think there was at all.|
|HARRELL:||Did California have anything to say about the policies?|
|RICHMOND:||Not in the 1950s, not that I remember. Of course, I didn't get there until late, and I was pretty young and innocent. We did while I was there, had people have things explained to them, and there were documents on file about the experiments and things. In terms of formal policy, I doubt if there was anything in the 1950s.|
|FISHER:||When did the concept of "informed consent "or "signed informed consent" first come up in your professional career? When were you first faced with this issue?|
|RICHMOND:||I don't really remember.|
|FISHER:||Did it evolve slowly?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes it evolved slowly but, as I say, [for] some of the work we did with even our colleagues at Los Alamos, we would have [printed] materials explain ing what was going to be done. I don't know if they were signed or not, but even though we were researchers, that got discussed and written down.|
|FISHER:||Do you have children?|
|FISHER:||Did they participate in any of the studies? There are some children of Los Alamos workers who did, but yours were not included?|
|RICHMOND:||I would imagine they were [in] some of the skin absorption studies, I guess.98|
|HARRELL:||I think some iodine studies, also, [were conducted] on some of the children.|
|RICHMOND:||Now, some of that work, I know was done through patients in the hospital. In other words, some of the patients that would show up in the Bio-Medical Research Group, and especially the [radiation] counting area, were patients in the hospital.|
|HARRELL:||Which hospital was that?|
|RICHMOND:||The Los Alamos Memorial, whatever.|
|HARRELL:||People in the immediate area?|
|FISHER:||Next to the HRL [(Health Research Laboratory)].|
|RICHMOND:||Right. See, the HRL building, Health Research, [is] on the town side of the bridge, which separates most of the Laboratory, and it's right adjacent to the hospital. There were kids with leukemias91 who were in and out of there quite often.|
|HARRELL:||When did you come to Oak Ridge, then, after?|
|RICHMOND:||1974, twenty-some years ago.|
|FISHER:||You came to Oak Ridge as Associate Laboratory Director for Biomedical and Environmental Sciences. It's a fairly distinguished position.|
|RICHMOND:||Herman Postman[, whom I was replacing, had just been] selected to replace Alvin Weinberg [as Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory].|
|FISHER:||Had you received the [AEC's] E.O. Lawrence Award before that time, or did that come afterwards?|
|RICHMOND:||It was awarded before I came here as part of what I had done
[in] research on at Los Alamos. Herman Postman had just been named Director
here, and that was about the time that ERDA100
was being born. Herman knew that the job at Los Alamos involved environmental
[radiation studies]. The Health Division had a lot of pieces to it that got
involved with medicine, environmental research, and biological research and he
thought I'd be a good fit for the biomedical and environmental program here. So
that's what attracted me.|
Also, [I] had waited for years. That was the third job offer, actually, to come to Oak Ridge. One when I got my [doctorate] degree [in 1958], and the second time, ten years or so later from Weinberg, and then the third time in 1974. But part of the rationale was that there were still people here who thought that Oak Ridge could build more animal kinds of research activities becauselong story, I'm trying to think of the name of it nowthe University of Tennessee had the facility here onsite, the CARL laboratory,101 [an] animal research lab. They had a lot of nice facilities here, large rooms for working on animals.
|HARRELL:||And they used that for some of the bone marrow work.|
|RICHMOND:||Some of those folks thought I would be a good addition here to help them improve, or whatever, that program. But that never materialized because those programs were phasing out, really, and I just didn't get interested in that, personally.|
|HARRELL:||And they phased out the ORAU hospital at that time, too?|
|HARRELL:||Are you aware of the decision-making process that went into that?|
|RICHMOND:||No, just that I know it was part of a planned decision on the part of the Government to do away with hands-on patientresearcher activity at places like Brookhaven, here at Oak Ridge, and I think Chicago. I think there were some involvements with Argonne, and one of the hospitals there [(Argonne Cancer Research Hospital, Chicago)].|
|HARRELL:||You did some work back in Los Alamos with the Damon Runyon [Memo rial Fund]. Was there some collaboration there?|
|RICHMOND:||I think that was University of New Mexico.|
|HARRELL:||That was back when you were a graduate student?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes that was with Tim Eversole, one of my first publications. I don't think that was at the Lab; I think that was strictly University of New Mexico. In fact, that probably [was] what I [was] funded by to do my research. I did a master's degree completely onsite in Albuquerque, working with hormones, adrenals,102 adrenalectomy,103 etc.|
|FISHER:||There are some other radionuclides that were studied at Los Alamos, and I wondered if you had any further involvement in them. We've covered almost all of them, I think. A couple I wanted to ask you about. Did you do any work on chromium-51 metabolism, or was that primarily the occupa tion of the physicians in your group?|
|RICHMOND:||I didn't. I think most of all that was done by Dr. Lushbaugh on red blood cells, chromium tags.|
|FISHER:||Iron-59 metabolism studies, same situation?|
|RICHMOND:||And he, again, was doing that jointly, as I recall, with some physicians in the hospital.|
|FISHER:||Was potassium-42 a part of your doctoral research?|
|FISHER:||Did you do any metabolic studies with barium-133?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes. With animals, but not man.|
|FISHER:||Did you work with both cesium-134 and cesium-137?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, and -132.|
|RICHMOND:||Cesium-137 and -134 in man[in] myself, [so] at least one. Mostly cesium-137, some -134, and the reason is [that] -134 has a much shorter half-life and -132, well, that was dosimetric [(taken to calibrate the doses of the -134 and -137)].|
|FISHER:||You needed additional subjects. One subject would not give you statisti cally significant results. Did you recruit some help? You mentioned three or four other subjects who were participants in your doctoral research. Do you remember who they were, or what they were?|
|RICHMOND:||They were employees of the Lab, and they were in the same group: Health Research. They were whoever was interested and available at the time who was probably not involved with tritium studies. I would say it was probably on the order of six people or so. Wright Langham volunteered. Kent Wood ward, who was a physician; myself; Jeff [E.] Furchner, who was my closest colleague in research, coauthor on many of the papers.|
|HARRELL:||Is it "Jeff" or "John"?|
|RICHMOND:||John. He was known as Jeff.|
|FISHER:||Tell us a little about Furchner; you haven't said much about him.|
|RICHMOND:||He was at Los Alamos when I joined the group. Originally, when I first got there, he was mainly involved in external-radiation studies. There had been a lot of those ongoing with rodents, primarily mice. There were some mon key experiments, high-dose monkey experiments. Jeff's main interest had been in biological effects from external radiation. Somewhere along the line, [he] moved over into the internal emitter area, and he and I worked together very closely. Paul McWilliams also, was a theoretician, mathema tician-type.|
|HARRELL:||What became of these people later on? Did they stay with this Lab? Did they move on?|
|RICHMOND:||Jeff is retired; I think he's still alive. He'd been there a long time.|
|FISHER:||We've discussed a lot of radionuclide metabolism studies in animals and in man. Were these studies, the ideas for themgenerated at the scientific level, proposed to the Laboratory, and [then] authorized by the Atomic Energy Commission in Washington? Do you remember how that whole process took place? You got a good idea, you took it to your group leader. What was the approval process for a project or new experiment?|
|RICHMOND:||I'm trying to think what the title of the request was for
funding. But there were, back in those days, something we had to write that
ultimately went through the process to get funding. At one point, they were
called FWPsField Work Proposals. The[re] were [Form] 189s; I'm not sure
what they [(the form that served that function)] were back then.104 We had to a make a request, and
ultimately that had to be approved somewhere along the line.|
In fact, when I went back to Washington [on loan to the AEC] in the late 1960s for a couple of years, that's one thing I did that I didn't mention before. We would review the requests that came in from laboratories for continuation of funds, or new funds, or whatever. So there was a budgetary process; no one just came and gave you money.
Then, in-house, the work that I did had to be reviewed and approved [by] Wright Langham, for example. His superior was Tom Shipman for most of the years that I was there. Tom was the head of something called the Health Division, and he had to approve things. I don't know how formal that was, but Wright had to go and interact with Tom Shipman. So that was at the division level at Los Alamos. And then, on the reverse end, we would get information on our budgets and we had to decide what we could do within those budgetary limits.
|FISHER:||Was there a lot of scientific discretion with the use of those budgets?|
|RICHMOND:||A lot more than there would be today, absolutely. For example, the allow ance for me to do a lot [of the] work I did that ended up in the open litera ture on physiology105and metabolism. That was all considered to be part of the whole project. No one said that you could only work with fallout materials and that they had to be directly related to public safety. Rather, the approach was: "Here's the alkaline metals, work on them." The target being health, radiation protection. But the spinoffs of that were actually a lot of the most interesting things, and a lot of fun, really.|
|FISHER:||Was there ever a proposal turned down in those early days at Los Alamos? Did you ever have work that was proposed, that was rejected at [AEC] Headquarters?|
|RICHMOND:||I don't recall, but I wouldn't be surprised [if] somewhere along the line someone [at AEC] wouldn't be interested. We had periodic program re views, too. I remember one time [that] Cyril [L.] Comar, I remember he questioned whether or not there was enough information on how to predict equilibrium levels and things. I don't know when and what impact that had, but I remember that, because here was an outside reviewer saying, "When do you have enough information?"|
|FISHER:||Who would lead the teams from AEC Headquarters when these reviews took place?|
|RICHMOND:||Charles Dunhamhe's the one who asked me to go back to
Washington. [John] Totter, I guess in his job. Dave Bruner was very much
involved in program reviews. He was a physician, I mentioned earlier. John
Storer was involved as a key person.|
Now when I was there, there were some reviews that I led. We would get a team of people to go out, and very often we would tie these on with other reviews that were taking place. Before the institution would have a review group in, we would tie into that, for example. A lot more, and you could almost plot, I think, the amount of direct involvement, technically, in Wash ington staff as a function of timehow that's decreased. Very little any more.
|HARRELL:||Were there regular progress reports that you had to send in?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes. We had a lot of the LA [(Los Alamos)] documents that often served as progress reports. That was the main one. Much of what we did had to [be] written as an internal report. These were not; they were available to people, but it was just a designation"the LA- series," for example. LASL- was another series. That was the primary way of documenting what we did. Except in the budget proposals, you had to show progress. Most of these budget documents are really three years [in scope]. What I don't remember is if that process of writing 189s went back into the mid 1950s. But I'm pretty sure there was something similar [to 189s] the first time I went there.|
|FISHER:||There was a funding mechanism. It started with an abstract of
work to be done.|
One of the radionuclides I didn't ask you about, which is important, is cobalt-57, -58, and -60. Did you ever do any cobalt metabolism studies?
|RICHMOND:||I think we did some rodent work with cobalt, but not people. I'm pretty sure we did some rat work with cobalt-60. I don't think we did any with mon keys, or dogs, or people.106|
|RICHMOND:||Probably because there were a lot of people [already] working with cobalt.|
|HARRELL:||Can you describe the long-term cesium studies that you did? There was a 20-year study, I believe.|
|RICHMOND:||Not 20. Oh, I'm sorry: we might have followed the fallout levels for 20 years. If that's the one you mean, you're correct.|
|HARRELL:||It wasn't [studied] in people for 20 years?|
|RICHMOND:||This wasn't administered cesium: this was cesium from fallout. So every body had cesium in them. And I think you're right: we did follow that group for 20 years.|
|HARRELL:||Were these groups of people that worked at the Lab for 20 years?|
|RICHMOND:||Right. These were people from the city [of Albuquerque] or the Laboratory. I'm pretty sure they were mixed.|
|FISHER:||Did you find that long-term retention of cesium in the general public from fallout matched pretty well with the expectations from the injection studies or the ingestion studies, really?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, absolutely. This has been documented in one of our publications. The math gets pretty involved. But even though the cesium was [received] over long times and at different levels, once that was cut off, once you stopped testing, there's still cesium coming down [from the sky]. We were able to predict, pretty much, what that slope of that curve [(the dose per year, plotted over a 20-year span)] should be for a population. Levels from fall out were variable, depending on where you lived in the world. And in far northern latitudes, the cesium levels got up to several microcuries in select small populations. But generally, they were lower by one or two orders of magnitude.|
|HARRELL:||So they were much lower than the highest you ever encountered, much lower than what you personally have ingested?|
|RICHMOND:||Pretty much, except those select populations I mentioned in the far north. Those microcurie levels, around one microcurie, they were about the levels that we were using experimentally.|
|FISHER:||You're thinking of the Laplanders and the Alaskan Eskimos?|
|RICHMOND:||I stand corrected: they were higher than the levels we were using experi mentally. I'd have to go back and check, but I think we were in the range of one-half to one microcurie. Probably in that range. But again, those select Laplander populations were considerably higher than what you would find for most populations in the U.S., especially in the northern hemisphere. They were even lower in the southern hemisphere.|
|FISHER:||You were jumping around just a little bit. You served as Associate Lab Director for more than fifteen years?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, 1974 to 1990|
|FISHER:||Was there a change in Lab Directors during this time or several changes?|
|RICHMOND:||One change. Herman Postman was [the Lab] Director, who was new in his job when he asked me to come here. Alvin Trivelpiece became the Director around 1988 or 1989. He has been the Director since.|
|FISHER:||And after that, you worked as a Director of Educational Programs?|
|FISHER:||University and Educational Programs.|
|RICHMOND:||That started in 1984. From 1984 to 1990 I had both responsibilities.|
|FISHER:||You had a dual role?|
|RICHMOND:||Right. Then in 1990, I guess it was 1990, we decided to make that a much more highly visible Laboratory function, the education piece.|
|FISHER:||So you were appointed Director of Science Education?|
|RICHMOND:||Science Education and External Relations. That latter part, External Rela tions, was in a context of educationstate level, national level, and re gional levelnot public relations.|
|FISHER:||What year did you receive the E.O. Lawrence Award for your work on the radiation biology of internally deposited radionuclides?|
|RICHMOND:||In 1974. I remember because during one of my last interviews here, when I'd learned about it, I mentioned it Herman Postman and he said something like, "Great, now I feel even better [about deciding to hire you]."|
|FISHER:||You've received some other awards in your career?|
|RICHMOND:||[The G.] Failla [Award and Lecture, Radiation Research Society, 1976].|
|FISHER:||You gave a Failla Lecture at the Radiation Research Society?|
|RICHMOND:||In the mid-1970s. I've gotten several [awards] from what was then the Atomic Energy Commission, a couple of those. I got something from the University of Utah for involvement with their programs.|
|FISHER:||What was that called? Do you remember the name of that award?|
|RICHMOND:||I don't recall.|
|FISHER:||That's interesting. You've also served extensively on national and interna tional scientific committees, principally the NCRP,107 member of ICRP108 Committee Two [(Internal Dose)]?|
|FISHER:||You had some involvement in preparation of ICRP-30 reports?|
|RICHMOND:||Absolutely. More than I want to remember.|
|FISHER:||It took a lot of work, I'm sure.|
|RICHMOND:||That developed over the years here, [for] Karl Morgan originally was heavily involved in the International Commission on Radiological Protec tion, especially Committee Two[, which he chaired for twenty years]. And he set the pace, I guess, for people here like Keith Eckerman and a few others who have followed that on. In fact, many of the dose calculations [for the] Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, and DOE have come out of that group here. The good news, I guess, is [that] over the years from the Committee, ICRP activities, and Committee Two, the French and the English and the Spanish and many other groups now have gotten very proficient in terms of their ability to do dose calculations and things like that. Most of them built on what was done here in the U.S., [at] Oak Ridge in particular. I finished all of my board involvements with NCRP, I guess, a year ago. I had two cycles on the board, I think it was.|
|FISHER:||Of the NCRP?|
|FISHER:||As you look back on your career, I know you've retired as of January 1, 1995, I would guess that one of the highlights of your career was your doctoral dissertation work.|
|RICHMOND:||Absolutely. Hard work, but fun.|
|FISHER:||At the very beginning of your career in this field. Could you describe for us some of the other principal scientific contributions of which you're particu larly proud?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes, I guess some of the work that we did with cesium, in terms of acceler ating loss. Ferric ferrocyanide, for example. In the process of getting very comfortable with that, we did work with a lot of materials.|
|FISHER:||Looking at enhanced excretion?|
|RICHMOND:||Trying to find out mechanisms, really. How can you take
advantage of what happens normally physiologically to accelerate the loss? We
looked at diamox and different drugs and things. Of course, as I mentioned
earlier, the most effective is Prussian blue, ferric ferrocyanide.|
I guess the other things that are intellectually pleasing, when I look back, are the work we did in comparative studiesfor example, tritium. Most of that was published in early 1960s, particularly 1962. One was in the jour nal, I think the Journal of Comparative Physiology. That's still being cited today.
I don't know if you know this, but most scientific publications, more than half, are never cited, never, even once. Of those, less than 50 percent, that are cited, most of them are cited within the first year or two. Never after. So papers that are cited 10, 20 years later are very, very rare. So it's nice to pick up something and see a document that you published in 1962, still being referred to.
I didn't mentioned this, but because of the undergraduate and graduate work I had in comparative physiology, we got very interested in studies about anomalies: a camel, for example, being able to store water in fat. When we were working on tritium at Los Alamos, some of the people were going up to [the] Nevada [Test Site] for weapons tests. So we asked them to get us some desert kangaroo rats. So they brought them back to [the] Lab and we did tritium studies on them. If you plot the turnover time for mam mals [as a function of species body weight], you get a beautiful straight line, with man being like 10 or 11 days and rodents being a half a day or so. But lo and behold, this little rodent that lives in the desert looks like a per son [in terms of its tritium turnover rate]! The turnover time is 10 or 11 days, just like [a] person. That paper gets referred to very often, too, in the literature.
The other thing that is of the interest [is] that hot-particle [research] that we've done on the densities. Most of that [interest] seems to be, "Why did you use people?" Recently, the last couple times that Russian satellites reentered [the earth's atmosphere with onboard nuclear] power reactors, they referred back to the work we did on the transit of those particles [through the body if inhaled].
The other one is the work that we did with ferric ferrocyanide way back many years ago; you had mentioned it has been used even with animals, post-Chernobyl. This is a March 1994 publication from the Brazilian acci dent, involving Prussian blue treatment. And cited in there is the work that we did back in the '60s, 1968, "Acceleration and Turnover of Internally Deposited Radio Cesium," and the "Diagnosis and Treatment of Deposited Radionuclides," which was a Hanford symposium. It's always nice to see, as a scientist, something that you published decades ago still being referred to.
|FISHER:||I was wondering if this was the Goiania accident in Brazil.109 And for the benefit of the transcriber, you've just referred to the paper in Health Phys ics entitled, "Cesium-137, Internal Contamination Involving a Brazilian Accident and the Efficacy of Prussian Blue Treatment" by Dunstana Melo, Joyce Lipstein, Carlos Olaverio, and Louis Bertelli, published in Health Physics, Volume 66, pages 245 to 252, 1994. I know these authors, in particular Louis [Bertelli] and Dunstana Melo. You served as an advisor to the Brazilian Government after this accident?|
|RICHMOND:||No. I had no involvement. The Brazil connection was many years ago. Someone from ERDA or AEC asked me to visit Brazil many years ago; I don't even remember when. The Brazilians were building three reactors at Point Angra, south of Rio. And the U.S. changed its policy about fuel re processing[, banning U.S. companies from building any more reactors in Brazil]. One [reactor] had been constructed by a U.S. company, and they were bringing in the German and French to build the other two. And the Brazilians still wanted help on doing analyses of what would happen from reactor accidents. I was asked to go down and see what they had and what they were planning. That was one trip, and I was a consultant on that long before this accident.|
|FISHER:||I was thinking you were involved in the review of the Goiania.|
|RICHMOND:||In fact, I was pleased when I visited the completed reactor of Angra that they had ferric ferrocyanide in vials in case of an accident.|
|HARRELL:||There was extensive Oak Ridge involvement in that follow-up at the REAC/TS110 center.|
|RICHMOND:||Oak Ridge Associated Universities, right.|
|FISHER:||I wondered if you had been involved because of your expertise in cesium metabolism and removal. So maybe I should ask you, why weren't you involved in the Goiania accident investigation?|
|RICHMOND:||I don't know.|
|FISHER:||You would have been a likely choice, I would think.|
|RICHMOND:||Well, that was a long time ago. I was trying to run a program here. Keep people employed. But I wasn't asked, either.|
|FISHER:||You were involved in program development and working to keep Oak Ridge National Laboratory well-funded between 1974 and 1990. That was your major responsibility, and perhaps a lot of that had to with your knowl edge of the way the Department of Energy operates and the way projects are funded.|
|RICHMOND:||Part, I'm sure.|
|FISHER:||Well, we're coming near the end of this oral history interview. Have we skipped over anything in your professional career that you would like to add to what we've already talked about? Have we left anything out that you think we've missed?|
|RICHMOND:||No, I think it's been quite comprehensive. I don't think of anything out standing right now that I want to add.|
|HARRELL:||What is you opinion of the recent interest of human radiation experiments and this whole investigation?|
|RICHMOND:||I think you said the key word: "investigation." I
have mixed feelings. One, I'm very much in favor of openness. I've indicated
earlier that I feel good. I had something to do with getting that [LA-]1151
[report], thanks to Pat Durbin's prodding, completely declassified. My problem,
frankly, I'm on record, is the way this was done.|
[And] I think this third cycle now was sort of: "Look what we've found! Everything has been hidden under the rug all of these years and we're bringing this out for the first time!" I think that has done a disservice to a lot of people who ha[d] been very much involved in it and aren't here [(alive)] any more to defend themselves.
I think it was the process. It was frustrating, because here someone would turn up in paper a letter about poloniumone in particular that was signed by [R.M.] Fink to Hymer Friedell111 back in the early years, about polo nium. That letter was made public, and obviously the press looked at it and they said, "[It says] Oak Ridge, you know, on the letterhead, and what was going on here that you haven't told us about polonium?"
Everyone was at a disadvantage. The press got no help. The people who released the information didn't understand what it meant. The network would get wired, and I would be talking with people like Pat Durbin and we would be trying to help people here in Oak Ridge and people all over. The press [is] very much interested. Two things. One is [that] a lot of materials that were supposed to be released for the first time had been released for a long time, not just in technical journals.
But my favorite example is that 1974 press release on the plutonium injectees, six pages. I'm sure you've seen that. Most people weren't aware of that. They'd forgot that, but at the time it had a very wide distribution. So, the process is what I think has been frustrating, flawed perhaps. Materi als are just dumped out [to the world at large with no explanation of their context].
By the way, that's why I think this [disclosure] process is going to be very valuable. Because I don't want to have to do it a fourth time sometime later on. To get the information out is one thing, but to do it in a fair manner, I think is important. People like Wright Langham, frankly, have gotten pretty much smeared over this.
The big issue is whether or not those folks [(the injectees)] really [had] short-term [or] long-term prognosis for survival. What has been lost is the foresight the man had, working with others, and many thingsnot just the plutonium injectees. The fact that here we've had this knowledge nationally about plutonium retention and excretion. Where there have been thousands and thousands of people involved, their safety depends, in part, upon that knowledge. All that has sort of been shelved now, and Wright's reputation, I think, has been badly blemished. I know his wife personally, and she's very upset about this.
|HARRELL:||She's still alive?|
|RICHMOND:||Yes. Her name is Julie Grilly.112 But you know, that may be because Wright was my mentor and I was close to him. So I may be responding a little emotionally about it. No one, I don't think anyone, especially scientists, have any problems with getting all this information out.|
|HARRELL:||What would like to say about the scope of biomedical work that's being funded by the Government these days? It seems as if it's gone down quite a bit from its peak.|
|RICHMOND:||The years [that] I was an Associate Director [of ORNL], about
the only work that came from [the] kinds of things I did when I was in
Washington was a program that had been ongoing for many years before, and that
was the Russells' genetic work.|
Over that period from 1974 until recently, what I've seen was two things. Biological work has decreased very rapidly. This is true of other Labs. The environmental work has increased. The waste remediation has been over whelming. In fact, it's a huge part in many Laboratories.113That's a risk in itself, I think a long-term risk. The work has gone from more of a basic to an applied kind of activity. Current buzzwords are "technology" rather than "applied." But that trend, we've seen over the years.
The other trend is from small individual or groups of individuals' research to large teams, long[-term], multidisciplinary [efforts]. Those trends are tough, because when we had the reduction-in-force at the Oak Ridge Na tional Laboratory recently, a lot of people were shocked that a large frac tion, third or half, probably more like a half of our senior scientists, decided to leave [(accept an early-retirement buyout)]. Of course, that hurts several ways, in future work and all. The reason is that those folks have been the hardest to keep funded in the recent years because the real basic research has been most vulnerable to being cut.
|HARRELL:||With all the work that you did on the nuclides and all the data you've col lected, are there any areas that need to be studied more that you didn't get to? Any areas that you would like to have more knowledge on?|
|RICHMOND:||I don't think so. In fact one of the problems we see today is that a lot of people are doing [numerical] modeling. That's important for any kind of research, but I think in the radiation business it has been overkilled. More people are now saying, in reports and publicly, that the modelers now are sort of demonstrating their knowledge of a very specific thing rather than incorporating changes that really have a basis biologically. As you may know, that's probably what happened with the lung modelsnow an ICRP model, an NCRP lung modeland there are more components to those models than is really necessary. I think what's happened is that the research has phased out over the years and the modelers have taken over.|
|FISHER:||Part of the reason for their delay in publication has been their complexity.|
|RICHMOND:||A lot of people, like Paul Morrow and others, have said it: There's no need for that complexity because we really don't understand things that much in the real world, biologically. I think basically we're in good shape, in terms of what we understand about radioactive materials internally.|
|HARRELL:||Well, we're in good shape with this interview. I would like to thank you very much for participating and spending some time with us.|
|RICHMOND:||Thanks for the opportunity.|