Los Alamos Historic Document Retrieval & Assesment

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Introduction Summary

Seventh 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 question or comment. )

Public: Is there any other information about Los Alamos at other locations, such as at Oak Ridge?

Response (Paul Renard): Yes, Bob will address that.

Public: Will this study use contractor records, ex. medical records?

Response (Renard): Medical records will not be part of the study to protect people's privacy.

(Tom Widner): If we know about contractor records, we are going to look at them.

Public: Do you look at logs?

Response (Renard): We look at summary reports, but we try to go back to the original documents. Hand-written, original log books, provide the most reliable information.

(Widner):We've looked through 1000s of log books already.

Public: Is this a new process? Are you looking at classified records first?

Response (Bob Whitcomb): Yes.

Public: Do you feel restricted?

Response (Whitcomb): We are restricted because we have to have an escort.

Public: Does the owner review apply to a single document, a box of records, or a particular person's documents?

Response (Whitcomb): It could apply to both. The process is cumbersome because classified and non-classified records are housed in a classified area. In the reports area there are places where just non-classified records are housed.

Public: Have you done anything about documents held by others?

Response (Whitcomb): We will talk about more, trying to track down other records held in other facilities.

Public: Once they say yes, what do they screen for?

Response (Whitcomb): The owner determines if someone else can look at the document.

Public: What if they change their mind during the screening process?

Response (Whitcomb): The owner determines if someone else can look at the document.

(Renard): This process takes much longer. At Hanford, we started looking at records that we thought were pertinent. Then found additional records were needed. Here, we are looking at all records. I have asked Tom and company to start the process now to determine owners, and get the process started now, because it will take a long time. That's why we are starting this process early.

Public: Originally the study was making documents available to the public. Can the public still see them? Originally, I thought yes, now I think this is narrowing the process.

Response (Renard): CDC will still get to see all records. Declassified records will be redacted so that all information will not publicly be available.

(Whitcomb): Like the Savannah River Site, all relevant information will be preserved. The plan is just adding more steps. The process will work, just at a slower pace.

Public: Are you going after classified records first because the process will take longer?

Response (Whitcomb): Yes, but also classified records contain the bulk of the relevant information. Also, while we have access, we want to look at as many classified records as possible before something else happens to stop access.

Public: Is DOE the steward of the documents? Do they decide what is not seen? Does CDC get to look at these to decide if they are relevant?

Response (Whitcomb): There are many avenues we can take during an appeal. This plan has been in place for just two months, and we are just now starting to follow the process. We have a foreign nation document which will be a good test for the process.

Public: Will the process be tested by June?

Response (Whitcomb): We almost completed a cycle for this meeting, but have been unable to reach the documents owner.

Public: Will you make a guess on the length of the delay, and how will it impact the cost of the project?

Response (Renard): Until we know how much is there and where it is, it will be difficult to determine the length or cost of the project. The original project was planned for last three years. It may take us seven years to look at all the records. We are going to extended the project, but I can't specify it's duration now.

Public: How many venues exist?

Response (Renard): We don't know where they are. We have been told that we will get a list. That list is most likely classified. I don't have a clearance. When I see something, you'll get to see it. Our cleared personnel will get to see the list and the information. We're committed to the project. The lab is behaving like they are going to work with us.

Public: Do you see the change of administration in Washington as making an affect?

Response (Renard): We still don't know. We are watching.

Public: A lot of people here used to work at the lab, and they have shared with us a lot of the problems when people try to assert there are health problems. Is there a possibility that the classified process is going to reduce access to declassified records?

Response (Whitcomb): The team will get to look at the documents that an owner denies access to determine if it is useful to the study.

(Renard): We are pushing for good science. In our agreement with LANL, the research team gets to determine if a document is relevant. We will tell you if we are denied access.

(Whitcomb): The newsletter design features a puzzle. Each document is a piece of the puzzle. We have access, and we are in the identification phase, which is most important.

Public: You said there were 5-6 million records?

Response (Renard): Just classified records.

Public: When talking about records, is the lab the owner, or the person named on that document?

Response (Whitcomb): It could be a person, a location on site, or an off-site person.

Public: What happens if the owner is no longer available?

Response (Whitcomb): There will be a chain of custody.

Public: Do you have access to the labs photo library?

Response (Widner): We are trying to help Peter gain access to more photos.

(Peter Malmgren): Mead let me look through some and the majority of photos are from there.

Public: What can people in the audience do to help with that effort?

Response (Romero): I am waiting for a call from DOE in Albuquerque.

(Renard): A second set is available for use in Española. To support local access.

Public: Let's talk about how the project can be helpful to us. During the March meeting, a person who worked on a mercury still was later diagnosed with mercury poisoning. All these years, the lab and bureaucracy are saying this didn't happen. More than 50 years later I have read documentation that says this did happen. At least they can't tell him that he is crazy. We really want to assist people with those kind of things.

Response (Renard): We are continuing to let NIOSH know about anything we find.

Public: Most of us look at LANL as being a big fat dragon with a lot of tails and no head. We have resentment against them. We were booted off of the land, and now have a class action lawsuit. A lot of land is going to be returned because it was declared surplus. But now it is contaminated and burned. Now we are suing for money, not land. Most of us, have worked at LANL. Our purpose in coming to the meeting is because we are interested in getting compensated. DOE is fighting us. They say we must be almost dying or in the grave to get money from them.

Response (Renard): I think we will succeed. We are getting in. We are not here to address compensation issues, nor to act as an advocate for the LANL. We want to do good science. What we find, the good, the bad, and the ugly, will be made available to you. You can use it how you want.

Public: What it is going to take is money. We are petitioning Congress to introduce a bill to pay us for 3500 acres that the lab says is not valuable.

Public: I was a 30-year LANL employee. What always bothered me was our dosimeters. The readings were always 0. However, each room had a dosimeter and those records showed readings. I would like you to take a close look at that.

Response (Renard): And we will. For the first round we are looking at everything. Then we will take a closer look. We will compare records from wall-mounted dosimeters to personal dosimeter readings. This will all be combined for the dose reconstruction.

Public: Come see me. I have binders showing true readings.

Response (Renard): We will talk to you and the others.


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