Facebook Twitter

N-PLANT EMITTED RADIATION IN ’49 BUT HID HEALTH RISKS

SHARE N-PLANT EMITTED RADIATION IN ’49 BUT HID HEALTH RISKS

Federal nuclear weapons plants emitted dangerous levels of radiation during the 1940s and 1950s - once deliberately - but the government decided not to inform plant workers or the public about possible health risks, a Senate report said.

The report, issued Monday by Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, said government documents show there were repeated releases of long-lived radioactive particles at the Hanford nuclear facility in western Washington between 1945 and 1954.While most of the emissions were accidental, the report said Hanford officials deliberately released large amounts of radiation on Dec. 2, 1949, as part of an experiment apparently requested by military officials.

"The agency which requested this experiment and the exact reason for it remains secret," said the report, entitled "Early Health Problems of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Industry and Their Implications for Today."

However, the report said monitoring by the Air Force following the "green run" found contamination in farm areas and towns around Hanford at levels well above federal health protection standards used at the time.

"Vegetation was contaminated in milk-producing areas at levels 20 times above the existing standard," the report said. "The plume caused significant contamination offsite (Hanford) in Pasco, Walla Walla and Spokane, Wash."

The report said the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, operator of the weapons plants, was aware workers and the public were exposed to potentially hazardous levels of radiation but decided against informing affected individuals of possible health risks.