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ORAU History - 1980

A favorite of visitors to the American Museum of Science and Energy, the van de Graff generator provides a hair-raising explanation of how an electrostatic precipitator can be used to control particulate emission.

Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ (ORAU) Institute for Energy Analysis (IEA) was assigned responsibility in 1980 for assessment of the carbon dioxide problem, which was defined as how to adjust the worldwide rate of fossil fuel combustion so that it would be consistent with the capacity of the biosphere to absorb carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide project was the largest single project at IEA.

In 1980, the Medical and Health Sciences Division (MHSD) was reorganized into an environmental and occupational health sciences branch and a radiation and nuclear medicine branch. Research continued to emphasize cancer, pulmonary, cardiovascular, radiation, and nuclear medicine problems.

Of special interest during 1980 was the International Conference on the Medical Basis for Radiation Accident Preparedness, sponsored by Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS) in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). REAC/TS also developed and published the interim edition of Response to Radioactive Materials Transport Accidents for the U.S. Department of Transportation, a manual designed for emergency personnel who are first on the scene of an accident.

To facilitate DOE epidemiological studies such as those of atomic energy workers at Hanford, Wash., Los Alamos, N.M., and Rocky Flats, Colo., ORAU’s epidemiology program (now referred to as Occupational Exposure and Worker Health Programs) developed the DOE Death Certificate Retrieval Center in 1980 to obtain information on the vital statistics of specific workers.

The development of a laser spectroscopy system at the University Isotope Separator at Oak Ridge (UNISOR) was begun and essentially completed in 1980. The main purpose of the system was to measure certain basic properties crucial to determining and understanding the structure of atomic nucleus.

Near the end of 1980, ORAU was asked to establish several health physics teams to perform environmental radiation surveys of active and inactive radioactive material handling sites in the United States. The Professional Training Programs group (now referred to as Radiation Sciences Training) began acquiring equipment and recruiting and training the staff.

A new exhibit, the Oak Ridge Story Room, was opened in 1980 by the Museum Division. It offered a look at the origins of Oak Ridge and some of the major research development projects of the day.