Dear ORer Editor,
The Oak Ridger editor deserves words of appreciation for constructive comment in urging implementation of a real "independent health clinic" for the sick workers and community persons of this area in the "Our Views" section.
Obvious now, is that DOE operations have harmed the health of workers in this area. The better question becomes how bad and wide spread. The conspiring mercenary managers and old scientists in this area have put sick persons at high risk from too much denial of obvious toxic damage factors.
DOE released millions of pounds of dangerous airborne uranium and fluorine from the K-25 plant over the decades it operated. The total magnitude of these losses is in question due to the poor record keeping at K-25 and managers looking the other way during these losses. It will soon become clear that K-25 released a thousand plus times more enriched uranium than Y-12's emissions and dominate the region.
DOE intentionally do not made clear that the hexavalent uranium released into the K-25 and Oak Ridge community air is very soluble in water and contaminates gardens, well water, and cattle much worse than uranium oxides from Y-12. The K-25 losses were so great that enriched uranium should be tested for all around the downwind regions of K-25, with acknowledgement that the detection of the soluble uranium is difficult and dose reconstruction not sufficient with soil sampling.
The enriched uranium in soil is not just a Scarboro community problem as enriched uranium was dumped on the entire region from K-25's large losses from K-31/33, raising the regional background. Uranium alters cells in such a way as to have them targeted by the immune system phage actions and highly damages the lymph system via this bioconcentration effect resulting in various diseases and rapid aging effects. The health effects are like Gulf War Syndrome.
K-25 emitted fluorine, which has a very long range compared to uranium dust, and much greater toxicity. Fluorine is like I-131 and water soluble, gets into well water, and bioconcentrates in cow's milk. Fluorine is also toxic above the one part per million range and seeks the thyroid gland, parathyroid, and bone. The combination of the ORNL I-131 releases, plus the NTS I-131 releases, plus the fluorine reactive chemical damage to the thyroid is why there is an extreme thyroid damage signature in this highly toxically damaged area.
Alcoa also released fluorine and affected the regions cattle farms and the collective fluorine damage is worst in the region between K-25 and Alcoa. The damage effect in humans is demonstrated by the high levels of fluorosis of teeth in this area.
ORNL sent out white coat engineers in the 1980's to collect well water and milk samples in the communities near K-25 and officially found these problems and they promptly covered them up because of huge liabilities. They were much more concerned for their jobs than the health of the community or reporting. The K-25 plant harmed the immune health with toxic metal uranium in the environment, plus with the very long range and very toxic fluorine damage they failed to consider in the well water and milk.
ORNL also covers up a very similar fluorine problem at MSRE where workers were exposed to fluorine for years from a leaking bellows valve near the main fuel tanks. This over the years precipitated enough U-233 dust to produce a criticality accident in the 1980's, that was covered up. Many of the workers at MSRE are very sick from fluorine health damage problems.
The fluorine exposures damage the thyroid at low dose because the gland grows slowly and its repaired slowly and because fluorine thyroid seeks, like Iodine with the same chemical valence. It also does great harm to the bone due to damages to the parathyroid and is bone cell seeking like calcium and harms immune health.
These were some of the effects I discovered back in the 1980's that turned me an early harassed "DOE Whistleblower" for wanting to report the DOE's having harmed the region and exposing them to huge liabilities. The Oak Ridge cover up of these damages is a criminal issue, not one of faked national security.
Several of the old scientists that sit on SSAB and ORHASP need to turn in their resignations due to ethical violations in continuing to hide these problems. ORHASP totally missed the largest health harm effects from this area and wasted 16 million tax dollars and this panels chair needs to hand in a resignation. There is also no community or public voice on ORHASP, which has not protected the public interests over the predominately nuclear industry minions on this panel. The entire process deserves condemnation.
These violations should be followed up with GAO investigations and criminal charges against all who hide these obvious health impacts from the community and workers. Charges of toxic assault and conspiracy to conceal these problems from the public need to be brought using prosecution under the Organized Crime and Rackettering Acts.