Tom Foulds is an attorney who represented plaintiffs, or Downwinders, in the Hanford Nuclear Reservation Litigation. In this interview, Foulds recalls how he became involved in the litigation and describes how it unfolded over nearly 25 years. He discusses how Hanford area residents were exposed to radiation and the health impacts caused by such exposure. Foulds provides his perspective on the conclusion of the litigation.
Richard Eymann is a founding partner and lead litigator for the Eymann Allison Hunter Jones Law Firm. He has been a plaintiffs’ attorney for nearly 35 years. In this interview, Eymann discusses his work with the Hanford Downwinder litigation, beginning in the 1980s. In total, Eymann represented 707 downwinders, over the course of 23 years of litigation. He explains how populations were exposed to radiation, and the health complications that occurred as a result to this exposure, primarily thyroid cancer. He describes the litigation, including the bellwether trials and the role of the Price-Anderson Act. Eymann explains the challenges the plaintiffs’ counsel faced in the litigation, and why he believes the compensation award was far too low.
Bob Cook is a nuclear engineer. In this interview, Cook discusses his long career with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and his work as a consultant for the Yakama Nation. He describes the problems he identified with the Basalt Waste Isolation Project. He also shares his opinions on the ethics of governmental decision making and risk assessments related to the health of Hanford-area residents.
Alexander Klementiev was born in Moscow in 1942 and grew up in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. As a student, he attended the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, where he studied radio physics and earned his Ph.D. He also served as a research fellow for the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria. In 1992, Klementiev immigrated to the United States. In this interview, Klementiev describes his work analyzing the mortality of those people who lived in areas contaminated by the Chernobyl reactor accident. He also describes his work estimating radioactive releases from the Hanford Site facilities and the lifetime risk of radiation-induced thyroid disease for the Hanford downwinders. Klementiev also discusses differences between the atmosphere of the United States and Russia.
Karen Dorn Steele is a journalist. As a reporter for the Spokesman-Review, she broke the story about the Green Run test, in which the U.S. government released radioactive gases in 1949 over areas surrounding the Hanford Site. Subsequently, she covered the Hanford Downwinder litigation, in which residents living around the Hanford Site sued the federal government over the health complications they suffered from as a result of radiation exposure. In this interview, she discusses how she discovered the Green Run through FOIA document requests. She describes covering the Downwinder litigation and her thoughts on how the trial was managed. Dorn Steele remembers meeting and interviewing some of the plaintiffs, and how their lives were impacted by the Hanford Site.
Michele Gerber is the author of “On the Home Front: The Cold War Legacy of the Hanford Nuclear Site” and served as the official Hanford Site historian. In this interview, she discusses her role as a local consultant on the Center for Disease Control’s research about the potential health effects of emissions from Hanford on residents. Gerber also describes her efforts to declassify the Hanford site documents. Additionally, she talks about how the United States learned the USSR acquired the bomb and explains the negative health implications of the Green Run test. She also discusses other sources of environmental pollution at Hanford, including in the soil and the Columbia River, and the health impacts on Downwinders.
Trisha Pritikin was born and lived ten years in Richland, Washington, just a few miles away from the Hanford Site. Her father worked in the 100 Area at Hanford, overseeing some of the reactors, while her mom worked as a secretary at Hanford. In her interview, Pritikin recalls her love of Richland at a young age and describes the happiness of many of the people there. At age 18, she began to develop health complications which she believes to be caused by childhood exposure to radioactive iodine and other radionuclides released from chemical separations at Hanford. Pritikin discusses how drastically her health situation deteriorated because of an undiagnosed autoimmune thyroid disorder (Hashimoto’s disease), and related health issues, and how she became a lawyer in spite of the disabling health issues she faced. She provides an overview of the decades-long Hanford Downwinder litigation efforts and her advocacy for justice for Hanford’s Downwinders, the children of Hanford workers, and others exposed to Hanford’s airborne and Columbia River radiation releases.
Jim Eckles worked for decades for the White Sands Missile Range Public Affairs Office, managing open houses and tours of the Trinity site, where the world’s first nuclear test took place. In this interview, Eckles describes the history of Trinity site. He discusses the ranchers who lived on it before the Manhattan Project took over, the buildings used by the scientists, and what it was like to live on the site before and during the war. He provides an overview of the Trinity Test and the “Gadget,” 100 ton TNT test, and the making of “Jumbo.” Eckles also discusses some of the key workers at Trinity site, including scientists, technicians, photographers, and MPs. He also explains some of the controversy around the site, including radiation levels, concerns over fallout from the test, and the atomic bombings of Japan.