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"Forget the Rest" blog


As we collected these articles we asked Robert Alvarez for a comment.  By way of background, Bob was the former Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Energy and also Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment in the 1990s.  Bob lead departmental efforts to establish the compensation program discussed in these articles (the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, EEOICPA).  His comment:

I've attached a review paper I presented at the 2000 Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association. My paper is based on the studies that were obtained while working in DOE to make the point with the White House that there is considerable epidemiological evidence of increased risks to exposed workers at 14 different DOE sites. These studies were subsequently made public by the National Economic Council at the WH and covered on the front page of the NY Times in January of 2000.

As of June of this year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found higher risks of leukemia based the exposures of more than 300 000 nuclear workers in France, the United Kingdom, and the USA over a period of time between 1943 and 2005.

Also attached is a monograph I wrote in 2006 about Dr. Mancuso and his battle with the AEC/ERDA/DOE. It contains details about how the weapons program suppressed unfavorable occupational health research, while seeking to destroy the careers of those who did the studies.

The main reasons why so many studies found increased cancer risks by late 1999 were: (1) DOE's monopoly over radiation health effects research was ended in 1989, when DOE agreed to transfer funds to CDC/NIOSH for extramural studies, not under DOE's control; and (2) the fact that I had the authority at the time to summon-up studies that had been suppressed within DOE.

EEOICPA also made endangerment of workers without their knowledge or adequate monitoring a compensable act.

What the EEOICPA process revealed were significant weaknesses in the science of dose reconstruction.  Dose reconstruction proved to be infeasible up to the mid-1980's at several of the major sites (Hanford, NTS, SRP, Mallinckrodt, AWE's [in the UK], LANL, Y-12, K-25, Paducah, Portsmouth, etc.). Workers were simply not monitored for known contaminants, especially uranium and its decay products, and neutrons. There proved to be not much scientific rigor by the health physics programs at these sites.

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