Will DOJ, Congress Investigate Up to 70,000 Portsmouth Diffusion Plant Dosimeter Readings "Changed?"

Updated 10 years ago Copyright 2012 by Tony E Rutherford & HNN (Attribution Permitted)
 Will DOJ, Congress Investigate Up to 70,000 Portsmouth Diffusion Plant Dosimeter Readings "Changed?"

Laboring Cold War patriots knew the risk of a Russian missile strike in the heartland. The United States built bigger, better and more deadly bombs to counter the threat. Little did the American nuclear plant (N-plant) workers know that corporate greed left them unknowingly in harm’s way slowly baking in rads while assembling components of atomic weapons systems.

"They  have ground our bones to make their bread,”  stated former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant worker, Jeffrey Walburn.

Regardless of confident reassurance of safety, the data proved differently. It was suppressed by a hierarchy that craved bonuses for maintaining perfect safety records and minute "exposure" to the cancer-causing radionuclides , such as uranium, plutonium, Neptunian and others.

Recently, an unabridged Portsmouth report POEF 0088 surfaced without redaction and containing the interview summaries deleted from the version provided  to the U.S. Senate, telling of thousands upon thousands of dose changes at Piketon, Ohio.

Terrie Barrie, founding member  Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups (ANWAG) , told HNN , “I am astounded after reading these two documents, especially the discussion of an individual  in the Portsmouth Health Physics Department changing a worker’s radiation dose. As far as I can ascertain, it is illegal to change the amount of radiation a worker received,” adding that dose changes appeared to be “common practice” at Portsmouth. “This is not acceptable. If this was common practice at Portsmouth, was it practiced at other facilities? Changing dose is akin to a medical provider changing a high blood pressure reading because the patient never previously had high blood pressure.”

By comparison, the  version provided to the U.S. Senate  left out one section of relevant allegations --- that changing readings in the data base has left it “corrupted” and “unreliable.”

“There’s an awful lot of information missing from the original document to what [the Senate] was given. If they had received the original , would they have, perhaps, legislated Portsmouth as a Special Exposure Cohort (SEC, no dose reconstruction necessary under EEOICPA, just diagnosis of 22 specified cancers for compensation) for years later than February 1992?  I think a full investigation into the issues surrounding Portsmouth as well as the entire EEOICPA program is long overdue.”


Among the assertions stated in the report:

-       One reading changed to zero for a court case;

-       Thousands of such change reports submitted in a typical year;

-       An “order” to “change back” ;

-       Why would such action have been taken on a negligible dose of 26 millirem since such an action represents “gross impropriety” ;

-       Site legal officer advised, “the individual who authorized that alteration of dosage figures due to a legal action could possibly face both criminal and civil sanctions;”

-       Although the report to the Senate states ONE dose changed, the lab had concerns for four September 7, 1994 dosages and a lab worker was ordered “to affect changes immediately…”;;

-       TLD cards hung on a wall;

-       “incidents” would occur from “time to time” that “would require the changing of a dosage in the TLD database;

-       Since a large number of “temporary” TLD’s were issued , an employee was able to receive an “unlimited amount” of TLD’s each day’;

-       During 1993, approximately 300 temporary TLD’s were issued per day. Total processing 70,000-100,000 TLD readings annually. The plant then had permanent employees of about 3,200.

-       Chief Counsel James Olsen acknowledged that a “crime” took place;


While  most of these procedures remain in place to date full comprehension of the enormity of the disclosures and timeline requires a trip into a way-back machine ..


After having worked on various nuclear projects in the 1940s-1990s most then deemed classified (i.e. Manhattan Project and Cold War nuclear materials assembly), workers complained of cancer (which took about 20 years in some cases for symptoms to occur) , the government initiated a compensation system, centered around theoretical radioactive dose exposure; however, calculating a workers exposure performing often 'classified' tasks provided incentives for anything but real facts.

An in production documentary, American Massacre, tells the story of some of the wronged and dead Cold War Veterans.
An in production documentary, American Massacre, tells the story of some of the wronged and dead Cold War Veterans.
Supplied by American Massacre.

Elaborate dose reconstructions decades later lacked the contents of purposely shredded records. But the calculations themselves assumed a 'best case scenario' which would be continually  jolted and thrashed only after 20 years of complaints about the non-inclusion of leaks, higher weapons grade materials, and discounting neutron exposure.

Following a trail of archival transcripts, Larry Elliott,  former Director Office of Compensation Analysis and Support National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (hereinafter “NIOSH,  expressed knowledge during a worker's outreach meeting of Piketon employees of possible  dose changing which would constitute criminal  activity on April 22, 2008. (He would reaffirm the statement during at a conference call)


A quarterly ALARA radiation safety report had showed that 68 of 210 security guards had been “flagged” for reaching the maximum allowable dose during the time they worked in the X-326 HASA vault, the X-744G, X-344, and X-705 buildings. By putting together the information on the POEF  internal investigation, “changes the entire picture of the dosimetry program at the plant and could possibly change the way that NIOSH looks at dose reconstruction for security guards.” The outreach  meeting included a claim that large rem doses had been received by those “working in the PW vault and transferring cylinders with the ‘blue goose’ from X-345 to the SST trucks. The cylinders contained 90-97% assay, not 3.5% , per documents, and a neutron dosage had not been considered. Security guards working  12 hour shifts often ate lunch in the HASA vaults where there were leaking “seal” problems. Those guards were at risk of both ingested and external 97% assay uranium assay doses.


During one incident a 90% assay area “froze the pipe next to it” (stopped the flow of uranium hexafluoride gas) requiring a welder and carpenter with acetylene torches to get the material moving. For those that worked that “slow cooking” leak for about three hours, the welder had a 3.8 rem dose, the carpenter 2.5 rem dose, and 1.8 rem for the security guard.

Elliott, who had the 0088 report, stated in the outreach transcript, “the opinions of the persons altering the badges should be considered suspect since that sort of activity is not sanctioned by DOELAP.” (pg. 4). Hard copies of the 1992-94 high assay records where fuel was enriched for military purposes were taken to the “wood chipper.”  Further, Elliott acknowledged that if 400 to 600 badges were “changed quarterly, these “adjustments” would cause problems in the NIOSH data. (Note: OSHA cited Lockheed Martin for destroying records.)


Elliott took action items back to NIOSH that  included  90-97% assay (weapons grade) content, examine the dose reconstruction model for 1989-1996 where “as much as one-third of the data may have been adjusted,” add overtime dosage, respond to allegations that the database (was) corrupted and to reexamine the 0088 report.


Two affidavits indicated that the full tape of the meeting contains discussion of Elliott and Dr. Neton in which Elliott stated that both NIOSH in Cincinnati and Washington had directed, “We could not let [John Cardarelli II , M.S. of NIOSH) say it was criminal,” referring to a HETA document.


PRIOR to the worker outreach meeting, Elliott during a Feb. 1, 2008 Advisory Board on Radiation an Human Health meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, acknowledged a “criminal conspiracy,” but investigation of it was outside of the purview of NIOSH:


WALBURN: ... your comment was that there was a conspiracy. And Dr. Neton's comments was that it was criminal....

ELLIOTT: We did say that. We did say that but we also said that it's not within the purview of the program We do not have the authority to institute an investigation of criminal activity....

WALBURN: That 41-page POEF report (of which you have a copy) , if you take every name and title out of it , it still says the data base was irretrievable corrupted. And then the corresponding documents we provided to SC& A shows that the very regulatory agencies of DOE knew that , but they did not act on it. (The transcript states that the POEF report had not yet been delivered to those at the meeting. p 179-181. www.cdc.gov/niosh/ocas/pdfs/abrwh/2008/wgtr020108.pdf )


Nuclear Worker
Nuclear Worker

At Portsmouth the dose formula  excluded  security guards, who unknowingly sat on The Security guards who often sat among cylinders of 97% assay weapons grade fuel have not been included in the automatic Special Exposure Cohort compensation. An on the job accident led to decades of lies and redacting, protecting profits all the way to United States Senate hearings... over and over. The fox continued favorably reporting on the hen-house safety yet documents told of not one changed radiation dose, not two, but thousands.


This examination focuses on the Piketon, Ohio, plant, although, similar activities were apparent at other N-plants. Currently, "American Massacre," a documentary concerning Cold War veterans is in pre-production. It chillingly teases that more American workers died from disease than the "enemy" (whether the Communist giant Russia or China).

Once the race for multiple megaton world-wide destruction ended, a race for down-sizing weapons into peaceful energy uses began. Seeking to realize a partial financial recouping  on the dis assembly of warheads, the re-cycling left small but harmful traces of uranium daughter products in the generating plant fuel or salvaged steel. 


The Huntington Pilot Plant (Reduction Pilot Plant) performed work for the three gaseous diffusion plants --- Portsmouth, Paducah , and Oak Ridge --- including work with nickel carbonyl, uranium and its daughter products from reactor cores. Recycling of radioactive products contaminated the Huntington plant. Some former workers there are eligible for compensation; however, court cases remain which challenge the time frame for residual radiation exposure of workers.


The EEOICPA was approved  by Congress and  compensates workers for medical costs and shortened lives. Since the facilities have often been leveled, altered, or obscured, the determination of an applicants estimated dose relies on a formula --- one that has been repeatedly criticized for not including the facts supplied by worker eyewitnesses. On it's Tenth Anniversary agencies call for improvements, without acknowledging the degree to which the calculations have been skewed to prevent workers (family or survivors) from collecting and stakeholers and citizens learning the full price of nuclear power.



Separate documents included a request by a Franklin T. Gerlach, an attorney representing 534 atomic worker claimants,  to Hon. Eric H. Holder, attorney general, that the Department of Justice convene a grand jury for “investigation of alleged criminality in the operation of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant” and action to “claw back fees to the United States of America” that were paid under a management contract for operation of said plant.

Gerlach stated that PGDP has been operated “without required regard to the health and safety of its employees per its contract with the Department of Energy.” In short, the discoveries of “criminal activity” were “thwarted” by investigations that “reviewed the facts and in discussions said there was a criminal conspiracy and criminal wrongdoing, but these findings were deleted in the official final reports by the undue influence of corporate management.”

The General Accounting Office (GAO) in March 2010 identified numerous areas of concern in the administration of EEOICPA and recommended that Congress create an independent Oversight Board and urged increased transparency within the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP).

The Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups (ANWAG) petitioned for a Senate committee hearing noting:

* OWCP’s unfair denial of claims predicated on the continuing use of an incomplete and inaccurate Site Exposure Matrix and inadequate HazMap

* OWCP’s unauthorized redefining of NIOSH designated Special Exposure Cohort Classes

* The improper influence by OWCP on the decision making authority of the administrative appeals process for denied claims

* OWCP efforts to avoid public accountability to advocate groups, Congressional staff, and the media

* Investigate whether NIOSH’s contractors have a financial interest in denying Special Exposure Cohort Petitions to extend their lucrative contracts to reconstruct dose year after year.

NIOSH implemented a Ten Year Anniversary review of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) sick nuclear workers program.  Elliott has been promoted to NIOSH associate director and is in charge of dose reconstruction for sickened first responders who worked at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and thereafter. But , the Department of Labor has refused parallel  review of OWCP.

Larry Elliott has been promoted to associate director. He is in charge of dose reconstruction of first responders and other workers who toiled in the contaminated ruins of the World Trade Center.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Most of this story came  from searching now de-classified documents; others come from court docket filings, which contain descriptions of the suppression.

  1. POEF 150 96 0088 (2.13 MB)
  2. Fine False Piketon Readings MORE THAN ONE (600 KB)
  4. Full Transcript (dup) (259.14 KB)
  5. SMITH DEPO COVER (189.39 KB)
  6. depo 600 dose changes annuallyh (259.83 KB)
  7. Deposition (1.01 MB)
  8. Senate Summary Walburn (53.42 KB)
  9. Gerlack Criminal Inves Req (1.6 MB)
  10. URAN FLO 6 piketon (2.62 MB)
  11. NEUTRON DOSE (558.15 KB)
  13. Larry Elliott why not provide tape of meeting (230.23 KB)
  14. Union Minutes not accurate (229.59 KB)
  15. 97 assay not 3 unclass table 5 ports (429.13 KB)
  16. PORTS logs (874.71 KB)
  17. L Elliott signed for (636.43 KB)
  18. bowe said crimal.pdf (565.75 KB)
  19. 2012 crime 2pg.pdf (413.13 KB)
  21. timeline 1979 1 of 5.pdf (222.23 KB)
  22. timeline 1992 1992 2 of5.pdf (226 KB)
  23. timeline 1994 3 of 5.pdf (197.88 KB)
  24. timeline 1995 4 or5.pdf (176.49 KB)
  25. timeline 1996 5 of 5.pdf (287.11 KB)
  27. jurisdiction runaround (2.32 MB)
  28. x 326 performance.pdf (664.24 KB)
  29. AIR AND LEUKEMIA.pdf (1.11 MB)
  30. Letter from John Bransford to R Moure pullwool over eyes (203.81 KB)
  32. LETTER R MOURE FROM JOHN B PG 3.pdf (145.71 KB)
  33. sen ver red pt 1.pdf (1.72 MB)
  34. sen ver redact pt 2.pdf (1.21 MB)
  35. 0088 p 1-8.pdf (2.14 MB)
  36. 0088 9-16 use.pdf (2.36 MB)
  37. 0088 p 17-24.pdf (2.7 MB)
  38. 0088 25-31.pdf (2.35 MB)
  39. 0088 p 31-41.pdf (3.07 MB)
  40. talk points 1.pdf (345 KB)
  41. talk pts 2.pdf (160.11 KB)