I was honored to be asked to contribute a chapter to the collected works within Tortured Science: Health Studies, Ethics and Nuclear Weapons in the United States, compiled and edited by Dianne Quigley, Amy Lowman, and Steve Wing, published 2012 by Baywood Publishing Company, Inc, Amityville, New York. I am very grateful that Baywood has allowed me to reprint the chapter in its entirety. The chapter is reprinted as a series of excerpts.
Release of DOE Classified Information
The Hanford Education Action League (HEAL)  in Spokane made repeated Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to get answers to these public concerns . In February 1986, after mounting pressure, the Department of Energy (DOE) released the first 19,000 pages of previously classified Hanford historical documents. Journalist Karen Dorn Steele of the Spokesman Review in Spokane, Washington, educated the public about the contents of those docu- ments. Her articles described Hanford’s radiation releases and confirmed con- cerns among government officials, health officials, and the public living both near to and far from the Hanford facility about the extent of those releases. The public learned that between 1944 and 1972, Hanford released large quantities of radionuclides into the air . The radionuclide released in the greatest amounts and the one for which the best documentation is available is I-131. Between 1944 and 1957, an estimated 750,000  curies of I-131 were released into the atmosphere [27-29]. Furthermore, for the first 6 months of 1955, Hanford exceeded the permissible release amounts [17, 30]. In fact, the radioactive emissions from Hanford are the largest ever documented from an American nuclear plant .
According to Jerry Leitch, regional radiological representative for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle, off-site radiation exposures to releases from Hanford were “without precedent in terms of the number of people affected and the magnitude of the doses received” . In addition to the mag- nitude of doses, the duration of exposure to radiation put people in the Hanford region at even greater risk. A DOE publication states that “the risks of adverse health effects are higher when exposure is spread over a long period than when the same dose is received at one time” . Furthermore, health physicists have predicted that the kind of exposures that people potentially received from Hanford, such as beta-emitting I-131, would cause more serious long-term health effects than other exposures, such as gamma ray exposures [33, 34].
23. HEAL was formed in 1984 to raise questions about the past and present safety of
24. The Freedom of Information Act established a procedure for citizens to receive government documents, but it also allowed agencies to hold documents deemed sensitive to national security. See 5 USC. § 552, As Amended By Public Law No. 104-231, 110 Stat. 3048.
25. Hanford Health Information Network. September 1996. A listing of radionuclides released from Hanford.
26. This estimate is associated with appreciable uncertainty because it depends on the use of mathematical models to substitute for direct measurements.
27. Heeb, C. M., Gydesen, S. P., Simpson, J. C., and Bates, D. J. 1966. Reconstruction of radionuclide releases from the Hanford Site, 1944-72. Health Physics Journal
28. Napier, B. A. 2002. A re-evaluation of the I-131 atmospheric releases from the
Hanford site. Health Physics Journal 83:204-226.
29. When the Three Mile Island reactor accident in Pennsylvania in 1979 released between 15 and 24 curies of I-131, people were evacuated and milk was impounded near the plant.
30. The average for the first half of 1955 was 5.1 curies per day, HW-55569 RD, p. 6.
31. Steele, K. D. 1987. Downwinders. Spokesman Review 2 Dec:A10.
32. Office of Environmental Management. January 1995. Closing the circle on the splitting of the atom. Washington, DC: USDOE.
33. Manning, M. 1995. Atomic vets battle time. Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 51:54-60.
34. Nussbaum, R. H., and Kohnlein, W. 1995. Health consequences of exposures to ionizing radiation from external and internal sources: Challenges to radiation protection standards and biomedical research. Medicine and Global Survival