J uly 1, 1947

R. C. Hill
Louis H. Hempelmann, M.D.

Contaminated Canyons

The question as to whether or not the plutonium contaminated area in Los Alamos and Pueblo Canyons should be fenced in has been kicked around for well over six months. I refer you to previous correspondence on the subject between Major Geery, Col. Betts and myself, but will restate the combined positions of the Health Division and the HI-Group on the need for fences around contaminated areas. It should be pointed out at this time that the Health Division has disclaimed all responsibility for future consequences resulting from the continued delay in erection of such fences. The facts are as follows:

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6. Although we do not feel that the contamination existing in nearby canyons represents a health hazard, we strongly believe that it presents a serious morale and medico-legal problem. The contaminated sewer out- let in Pueblo Canyon is quite near the school and, though already marked with signs, it is freely accessible to children and animals. Periodically, children play in this area such to the consternation of their families. Recently Dr. Beller was confronted b about thirty irate mothers who berated him for not f in contaminated areas.

7. Legal complications and extremely unfavorable public relations may come about because of this situation. It is quite possible that future illnesses or diseases contracted by a person who has blundered into a contaminated area my be connected by this person with his contact with radioactive materials. Unless we can state categorically that all contaminated areas have been completely enclosed by childproof and dog-proof fences, it will be extremely difficult to convince a jury that the project was not at fault.

8. The cost of good fencing, although considerable would undoubtedly be less than that of one or two successful law suits against the project. In addition to the monetary aspects of such court proceedings, the bad public relations which would result would cause the project inestimable harm.


LHH: la
cc: Col. A. W. Betts

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