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.