Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary has recommended financial compensation for people who were exposed to radiation in tests conducted by federal researchers after World War II, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

O'Leary acknowledged Tuesday that researchers knowingly exposed to radiation up to 800 people in the experiments. "For people who were wronged . . . it would seem that some compensation is appropriate," O'Leary told The Post."Let the Congress and the American people determine the level that would be appropriate."

A government hotline set up last week to collect information about human radiation testing has received more than 300 calls during the first four days of operation, an Energy Department spokesman said.

The now-defunct Atomic Energy Commission oversaw the tests in the 1940s and 1950s in a number of states.

In Massachusetts, officials are looking into reports that 49 retarded boys at a state school were fed radioactive food to test the human digestive system.

The University of California Hospital in

San Francisco said Tuesday it would cooperate with an investigation into reports that some patients were used as human guinea pigs in U.S. government-sponsored radiation experiments.

Investigators there said they were trying to track down the patients to see if any died or suffered ill effects from tests that began in 1946 and ran through 1956.

View Comments

A series of articles that appeared in the Albuquerque Tribune last month documented cases where dozens of people, including prisoners, mental patients and pregnant women, were injected with plutonium, the Post reported.

Other documented radiation experiments were conducted on blacks at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and on prisoners in Oregon and Washington state.

The Post also reported that radiation was deliberately injected into the atmosphere in Utah, New Mexico and Tennessee from 1948 to 1952, according to a report from the General Accounting Office. The tests were to determine how far and fast radioactive particles would spread.

O'Leary also said she has appointed a non-governmental panel of experts to determine what ethical violations occurred, and a team of researchers will study classified documents to determine the extent of the experiments.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.