Families Sue LANL Over Secret Radiation Testing on Bodies of Deceased Lab Workers

U.S. to Investigate Claims that Radioactive Human Body Parts are Buried in New York

Environmental Groups Speak Out Against Proposed Yucca Mountain Standards

* Six families of deceased Los Alamos National Laboratory (or LANL) workers have filed suit against the lab claiming that the bodies of their relatives were illegally used in secret lab autopsies to see how much radiation they absorbed and how their bodies processed it. The suit states that LANL removed tissue samples from hundreds of people for autopsy and study without the consent of their families.

The lawsuit was instigated by Kelley Mereau, who was seven years old when her father was involved in one of the most notorious radioactive accidents at LANL. Mereau's father, Cecil Kelley, received a lethal dose of radiation on December 30, 1958 and spent 35 hours in and out of consciousness as his bone marrow liquefied and his white blood cells disappeared. After his death, scientists removed his brain, spinal cord, and other vital organs, totaling upwards of eight pounds, stored it in a mayonnaise jar and sent it to be autopsied secretly. Kelley's organs were the first studied by the Los Alamos Human Tissue Analysis Program.

The treatment of the deceased has led to serious questions of morality. In a deposition years later, the pathologist who autopsied Cecil Kelley claimed that God had given him permission to remove Kelley's organs. Nevertheless, Richard Hughes, lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the families were never told about the government experimentation, and that the autopsy permits they signed limited the autopsy to discovering the direct and indirect causes of death.

*The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began investigating claims that radioactive human body parts are being stored in Niagara County, New York. The Rochester Burial Site near Lewiston was used to store the remains of dogs, cats, and other animals that were used in radiation experiments in the 1940s and '50s.

Human experimentation at the University of Rochester has been documented in the book The Plutonium Files by Eileen Welsome. It is still uncertain whether radioactive human parts are stored near Lewiston as well. Louis Ricciuti, of Citizens Campaign Against Nuclear Exposure, said, "...Experiments involving the injection of plutonium into unwitting human subjects were done in Rochester in the 1940s and 1950s. The grisly possibility exists that human body parts were also buried in Lewiston."

*Eight Nevada and California public interest groups issued a call to the Bush Administration to issue strict radiation exposure standards for the proposed Yucca Mountain High-Level Nuclear Waste Repository in Nevada.

The letter was also signed by 26 groups nationwide who have expertise in nuclear related issues, and are concerned for the health and safety of those living in Nevada. The letter claims that proposed Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) standards, which are required to be drafted specifically for the Yucca Mountain site, are too weak to protect the public. The proposed standards call for higher exposure limits and no groundwater protection. The letter states, "Strong EPA standards are vital for a credible assessment of whether the Yucca Mountain project is in the best interest of the public, present and future."

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