December 4, 2003

Your EEOICPA tax dollars at play :

Feds Hide Bethlehem Steel Radiologic Data
Pertinent to Filing Claims under EEOICPA

ORAU Asks F.A.C.T.S. for Copy of Oak Ridge Report

The long overdue NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) final report on the radioactive status of the early atomic weapons contractor sites, required by the EEOICPA, was released to the public on November 7, 2003. There is little new information in the report produced under contract by NIOSH contractors, including Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) and MJW Corp. of Williamsville, NY.

The irrationally limited coverage dates first established by NIOSH under the EEOICPA were extended for some sites. This simply acknowledged existing widespread public awareness of the continued presence of significant contamination at these sites.

The report says that radiologic data are unavailable for many sites, leaving a final determination of eligibility and coverage dates unsettled for these sites.

The statement is made regarding the Bethlehem Steel site that no radiological data is available from the period when radioactive materials were processed at the facility in Lackawanna, NY (late '40s, early '50s). This is not true.

In February 2002, F.A.C.T.S. received e-mail correspondence from the daughter of a deceased Bethlehem worker; she was considering making a claim under the EEOICPA. She asked for help interpreting radiologic monitoring data from 1952 that had been supplied by DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratories in response to her inquiries. See below for one of these data sets.

This appears to be a clearcut case of government agencies intentionally and illegally withholding information pertinent to the filing of claims by Bethlehem workers and their families under the EEOICPA. There can be no excuse for this failure: NIOSH assured those at its July 23, 2002 public meeting in Amherst, NY that any data uncovered by individual claimants would be available to other site claimants for use in dose reconstructions.

F.A.C.T.S. calls on the responsible Congressional oversight committees to investigate this serious bureaucratic lapse. Nothing less than a full investigation of this failure to disclose pertinent radiological survey records with identification and accountability of the responsible individual(s) will be acceptable.

Further evidence of the bureaucratic ineptitude of the contractors carrying out this program was revealed last week. F.A.C.T.S. received an email request from an employee of Oak Ridge Associated Universities working at the NIOSH EEOICPA office in Cincinnati, OH. The ORAU employee sought help in locating DOE's Remedial Investigation Report for the Tonawanda Site. This document was produced by DOE Oak Ridge contractor Bechtel National Inc. and should be readily available to ORAU at the Energy Department's Oak Ridge public document room!

Data Set



March 15th, 1952

At the time of the rolling an air dust survey was made. The purpose of the survey was to check on the high concentrations found in the last survey at the #6 Stand and at the shear and to obtain more information about other locations.

A total of 26 air dust samples were taken. Results ranged from 2.34 d/m/M3 to 219.0 d/m/M3. The following table is a summary of the survey.

Table 1
[Results in d/m/M3]

Description No. of Samples Low High Average
1. P., No. 3 stand 6 2.34 13.3 5.32
2. P., No. 6 stand 6 3.17 35.2 18.05
3. GA, No. 3 stand 2 9.07 10.3 9.68
4. GA, No. 6 stand 2 6.30 10.44 8.37
5. P., shear 3 108.0 219.0 147.4
6. GA, shear 3 5.4 7.95 6.55
7. P., No. 4 stand 2 12.06 66.6 39.33
8. P., No. 5 stand 2 8.46 11.5 9.98

Table 2

Partial Results Survey

Description No. of Samples Low High Average
1. No. 6 stand 2 120 503 337
2. Shear 5 50 360 15

The results of the air dust samples at the No. 6 Stand were considerably lower than the previous survey. The average of the shear samples was approximately the same, in both cases being over twice the MAC. The only other sample in the March survey approaching the MAC was at the No. 4 Stand. Results of samples at other locations compared with the results of previous surveys.

DPM/M3 or d/m/M3 disintegrations per minute per cubic meter

(Sources: The Rocky Flats Dictionary (Second Edition), July 1991; consultation with various experts in the health field.)


"MAC" refers to Maximum Allowable Concentration.
To convert "d/m/M3" to picoCuries per liter (pCi/l) divide by 2200.

This is equivalent to 1350 pCi/M3, or 1.35 pCi per liter (pCi/l), a concentration that is 270 times the 1991 NYS standard, and from 450 to 150,000 times the 1994 standards
, depending on the solubility of the different compounds of uranium.
[In 1991 the NYS air concentration limit for natural uranium was 0.005 pCi/l for both soluble and insoluble forms of uranium. In 1994 the concentrations were lowered to 0.003 pCi/l for soluble, 0.0009 pCi/l for slightly soluble, and 0.00009 pCi/l for insoluble forms (corresponding to the symbols used in the regulations : D, W, Y (days, weeks, years), respectively, that refer to the rough ranges of excretion times from the body).]

Arjun Makhijani, in his study for USAToday, identifies the historical concentration limit of 38 DPM/M3 that was set in 1949 and an earlier MAC of 70 DPM/M3:

"Dose estimates derived from a given air concentration depend greatly on the assumed solubility of the material that is inhaled. To illustrate this point, we calculated the dose to lung tissue using the dose conversion factors in the Federal Guidance Repo rt No. 11 from inhalation of natural uranium over an entire year (2000 working hours). We have assumed constant exposure at the in-plant maximum permissible concentration of 70 disintegrations per minute per cubic meter (dpm/m3) in the plant air that was in effect at the time these facilities were operating.[6] The federal limit for concentration in air prevalent since 1949 was 38 dpm/m3.[7] This limit was established based on the chemical toxicity of uranium and seems to have been ignored both by the gov ernment and its contractors, so far as we can determine. A limit of 0.009 mCi of uranium lung burden (apparently with a 90 day biological half-life) seems to have been established in 1951.[8] The resulting doses calculated using an air concentration of 70 dpm/m3, the prevailing radiological standard in the plants, and as calculated by present methods, are as follows: . High solubility (class D): 0.084 rem/yr . Moderate solubility (class W): 4.2 rem/yr . Low solubility (class Y): 79 rem/yr. The difference between the lowest and the highest estimate is a factor of 940. It is apparent that if the solubility of material is not known, the results of calculations are subject to major uncertainties. For comparison, the federal limit of doses to any individual or gan of the body, established in the early 1950s was 0.3 rem/week (or about 15 rem/year).[9] "