Los Alamos Historic Document Retrieval & Assesment

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Introduction Summary

Fourth Public Meeting
Public Comments / Questions and Answers

(These statements are NOT direct quotes. All statements are paraphrased. "Team" refers to either one or more members of the project team who responded to a questions or comment. )

Ken Groves: Where will future searches focus?

Response (Paul Renard): The contract was originally set up with funding increments, based on finish a venue (one area would be searched, when finished the team would move to the next, etc). In practice this did not work because of space problems. The revised contract allows ChemRisk staff to work in more than one location. Some bays have been focused on. Now the team will be moving into other places that we consider important. We will be moving to the tech areas soon and will be finding more of these "nuggets."

(Tom Widner): More information is being made available off site.

Public: We have heard of records that have been moved or destroyed. Stories that are not supposed to be repeated-like dumping in canyons

Response (Tom Widner): Interviews are helping. However, we will never be able to gather all the information to complete the whole picture. We start with documents and use interviews to fill gaps.

Public: We are concerned because this is the most secret lab in the United States.

Response (Tom Widner): We are not being excluded from any records.

(Paul Renard): Some of these stories probably are true. But this is one of the reasons we like to go back to original logs. These are good people. They were conscientious when filling out the records. We will fit together the pieces, but when we are finished, there will be some gaps. So far it is too early to determine if the puzzle will be fairly complete or more like Swiss cheese. We are confident that we will get enough to get a good picture.

Public: Have you seen numbers indicating that boxes were destroyed?

Response (Charles Miller): At Idaho it was discovered that some boxes had been destroyed. Now, DOE has a moratorium on destruction of boxes that are important for epidemiology studies.

(Tom Widner): At LANL, three copies are being made of relevant documents.

(Charles Miller): At Idaho, CDC did not ask for the most relevant documents to be copied. Here ChemRisk is making copies of all relevant documents.

Public: We are making the records available at the public library in Los Alamos. However there is interest in establishing a reading room at Northern New Mexico Community College in Espanola, NM. The logistical problems must be resolved. Right now the only thing we can do is get the documents out of LANL. It was also suggested that Santa Fe would be a good place.

Response (Paul Renard): The MOU agreed to provide one set of documents for a public reading room. Dollars are in question. CDC has stepped back. With the reading room there is a huge financial obligation because the records must be followed for a long time. The documents going to the Los Alamos Public Library reading room are copies with no alterations. The library has a copy machine. We have to remember that Zimmerman Library in Albuquerque is the official DOE reading room, but we are trying to keep the records available in the Los Alamos area. The funds are not available to have multiple reading rooms. This is a big effort to get the records out of LANL. We need a place with good public access and good hours.

Public: It seems there is nothing written in stone. Yet, there is a very interested group in Espanola. It would benefit lab scientists if the records were off the hill. There exists an animosity between the public and LANL.

Public: Is LANL more interesting than other sites?

Response (Tom Widner): Each site is different and has different hurdles. LANL is interesting regarding the variety of operations and materials used over the years.

Public: What are your reactions to DOE's comments about releases and cancer for workers? What is the relationship to off site residents?

Response (Paul Renard): I cannot comment on that DOE headline. It is news to everyone. You need someone from DOE to comment. CDC is looking at off-site releases. Our focus is the public. NIOSH is worker focused. They will benefit from this study, as well. ASTDR is looking at current and future risks rather than historical risk.

Public: DOE admits radiation caused cancer in its workers. What will DOE admit to regarding public contamination?

Response (Tom Widner): We do not accept things at face value. We use these items as clues to find corroborating evidence. We don't believe everything we read in every document. We play one against the other to formulate conclusions.

(Charles Miller): We are establishing a database as a record. It is establishing a baseline. We do not have all the answers today, but the database will preserve the information. We are at the first stage of the first real history of LANL. It will grow. Sometime, probably before the end of the summer, Tom Widner will produce a report summarizing what the team has found up to this point. It will be a work in progress. The public will need to read the report and contribute.

We will make the report available on the web site. We will announce it via a mailing. When you receive notice, tell your neighbors and former LANL workers. This will be a draft for which we will need feedback. Give us guidance.

Public: What do you mean by the national security question?

Response (Charles Miller: The team does not have access to two types of documents. One type contains information on how to steal a nuclear weapon. The other covers how to diffuse a nuclear weapon. This information is strictly technical data. We are confident it would not be relevant to any type of dose reconstruction.

(Paul Renard): So far we have not been denied access to anything we have requested. We fully anticipate being able to look at all records. If we cannot, we will tell y


Public: Is there a nuclear exemption for a nuclear research reactor around 1969, 1970? Is this part of the study?

Response (Tom Widner): I have looked through a document regarding that particular issue, and it is not marked with such an exemption.

Joe Shonka: We are looking at real weapons information.

Public: Which part of your organization is conducting the interviews?

Response (Tom Widner): The same people that are reviewing documents.

Public: How have you identified people to interview?

Response (Tom Widner): We held a previous meeting regarding interviewing. Plus the University of California has a list of retirees to contact. Some retirees do not want to be bothered. Others are a gold mine of information. We can conduct interviews in remote locations and the interviewees can remain anonymous. Please recommend people.

Public: Is there another part of CDC that is collecting data now?

Response (Tom Widner): We do not do any monitoring. We are interested in the data other organizations collect, but we do not do any sampling. We have contacted sister agencies to see what they are doing and are collecting data from them.

Public: Do not use the CAP 88 Model at LANL. It does not work.

Response (Charles Miller): This study is gathering and prioritizing information. After this is study is completed, we will need to evaluate on where to go from here. We may have to use some modified models or develop new models. We have no preconceived notions of what models we will use.

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