Originally created 09/30/97

Article: Dangers were denied



America's photo industry was alerted about the damage that fallout from nuclear tests would do to film as early as 1951.

It took the federal government many more years to caution parents that the milk their children were drinking was so contaminated they risked developing cancer as adults, Washington environmental researchers said Monday.

In an article titled "Let them drink milk," to be published in the November-December issue of Bulletin of the Atomic Scentists, Pat Ortmeyer and Arjun Makhijani claim the government denied the public was in danger even though health effects were known.

A Senate committee will hold hearings Wednesday to discuss the National Cancer Institute's study, released in part this summer, that estimates nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s could result in 10,000 to 75,000 additional thyroid cancers nationwide.

Ms. Ortmeyer urged the institute to release the remainder of the study as promptly as possible so people who are at risk can get tested for cancer.

Some communities more than 1,000 miles from the Nevada Test Site became "hot spots" after winds carried radioactive particles from the tests as far as New England and the Midwest.

When Eastman Kodak Co. received complaints that its film was "foggy," the company determined that the culprit was packaging material made from contaminated corn husks harvested in Indiana.

When the company threatened to sue, the article says, the Department of Energy's predecessor, the Atomic Energy Commission, agreed to give Kodak advance warning of tests.

Meanwhile, the general public was kept in the dark, the researchers said.

"It makes you wonder, what else don't we know?" said Ms. Ortmeyer.