Magazine Desk | August 31, 1997, Sunday
Atomic Guinea Pigs
By Michael D'Antonio (NYT) 1478 words
Late Edition - Final , Section 6 , Page 38 , Column 1
ABSTRACT - Michael D'Antonio article on dozens of Government-sanctioned radiation experiments that were conducted between 1944 and 1974 on unwitting or ill-informed military personnel, patients, children, pregnant women and prisoners; Atomic Energy Commission, to avoid scandal and legal liability, declared certain experiments top secret; cold-war secrecy explains why it took until last month to reveal that A-bomb tests from 1951 to 1962 exposed millions of children to fallout--and increased risk of thyroid cancer--than Govt had once reported; these studies, designed to determine effects of radiation on human beings, were in many cases conducted not just in name of science but also in preparation for nuclear war; in 1993, Energy Sec Hazel O'Leary broke with her predecessorss arranging to declassify all related documents and urging compensation; profiles of some victims of tests; photos (L) For decades, those who claimed to be victims of clandestine radia-tion experiments conducted by the United States Gov-ernment were dismissed as paranoid. At the Department of Energy, which oversees America's nuclear-weapons research, these people were referred to collectively as ''the Crazies.'' But the opening of cold-war archives has brought the Crazies in from the fringe.
As documents declassified since 1994 show, dozens of Government-sanctioned radiation experiments were conducted between 1944 and 1974 on unwitting or ill-informed military personnel, patients, children, pregnant women and prisoners, several of whom appear on the following pages. To avoid scandal and legal liability, the Atomic Energy Commision declared certain experiments top secret.