U.S. Radioecology Research Programs Initiated in the 1950s

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In the early postwar years, beginning in 1949 and extending to the mid-1960s, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) research on the fate and effects of radionuclides in the environment was driven by distinct environmental concerns-- the releases of radioactive materials around production sites, fallout from nuclear weapons tests, and radiation effects from both external and internal exposures. These problem areas spawned development of the scientific field of radioecology. To understand the perspectives in the 1950s of the United States on the issues of nuclear energy and the environment, we have reviewed the early research programs. Keeping to the theme of ... continued below

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Auerbach, S.I. & Reichle, D.E. October 1, 1999.

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Description

In the early postwar years, beginning in 1949 and extending to the mid-1960s, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) research on the fate and effects of radionuclides in the environment was driven by distinct environmental concerns-- the releases of radioactive materials around production sites, fallout from nuclear weapons tests, and radiation effects from both external and internal exposures. These problem areas spawned development of the scientific field of radioecology. To understand the perspectives in the 1950s of the United States on the issues of nuclear energy and the environment, we have reviewed the early research programs. Keeping to the theme of the papers in this environmental session, we will focus on the first area of concern -- the scientific studies to understand the environmental consequences of nuclear production and fuel reprocessing at the three primary production sites: the Hanford Works in the state of Washington, Clinton Laboratories in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina. The driving environmental issue was the fate and effects of waste products from nuclear fuel production and reprocessing -- concern about entry into environmental pathways. Early operational monitoring and evaluation by health physicists led to realization that additional emphasis needed to be placed on understanding environmental fate of radionuclides. What followed was forward-thinking R and D planning and development of interdisciplinary research teams for experimentation on complex environmental systems. What follows is a review of the major U.S. AEC radioecology research programs initiated during the 1950s, the issues leading to the establishment of these programs, early results, and their legacies for environmental protection and ecological research in the following decades.

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INIS; OSTI as DE00014349

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  • History of Atomic Projects 199, Laxenburg (AT), 10/04/1999--10/08/1999

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  • Report No.: ORNL/CP-104856
  • Grant Number: AC05-96OR22464
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 14349
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc623264

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • October 1, 1999

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  • June 16, 2015, 7:43 a.m.

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  • Jan. 21, 2016, 1:29 p.m.

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Auerbach, S.I. & Reichle, D.E. U.S. Radioecology Research Programs Initiated in the 1950s, article, October 1, 1999; Tennessee. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc623264/: accessed December 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.