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ORAU Performing Dose Reconstruction for Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Program to benefit military personnel exposed to radiation during nuclear weapons tests

Historic atomic weapon test

ORAU has applied its experience in radiation dose reconstruction to support the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) dose reconstruction program for “atomic veterans.”

These military personnel were potentially exposed to radiation during their participation in atmospheric nuclear weapons tests at the Nevada Test Site or Pacific Proving Grounds or as occupation troops or POWs near Hiroshima or Nagasaki, Japan, at the end of World War II.

These veterans are eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs through the Nuclear Test Personnel Review (NTPR) program if their illnesses are a result of their radiation exposure. Certain types of cancer are assumed to be connected to the veterans’ military service if they participated in the above activities, while some cancers and other diseases require dose reconstruction to establish the link to service-related radiation exposures.

The NTPR has performed some 4,000 dose reconstructions since 1978; however, a 2003 National Academy of Sciences audit identified several issues in the dose reconstruction methods. Since that time, DTRA has cleared 1,200 cases that required re-analysis, and ORAU is assisting with this re-work as well as with new cases. Our role includes:

  • Developing and applying quality assurance/quality control procedures to the dose reconstruction process
  • Performing independent quality reviews of draft dose reconstructions
  • Providing independent quality reviews of dose reconstruction procedures and tools
  • Providing independent validation and verification of the software tools used in dose reconstruction.