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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Michele Gerber’s Interview (2018)

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.

Richard Foster’s Interview

Dr. Richard Foster was the fish laboratory supervisor at Hanford. He talks about inspection of organic matter in the Columbia River prior to and after the construction of reactors at the Hanford site. Foster describes DuPont’s central role in taking necessary precautions, highlighting their professionalism and efficiency. He discusses how any leaks were primarily into the atmosphere rather than into the water. Also, he brings up research done at the University of Washington regarding X-ray radiation and its effect on fish. The extent to which safety and environmental harms were taken into consideration, according to Foster, was advanced for its time. The state of Washington, and the country as a whole, had very little awareness regarding the concept of ecology or water pollution control.