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ORAU History - 1981

In July 1981, Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Executive Director Philip L. Johnson left the organization. Dr. William E. Felling was named acting executive director in September 1981.

A Mother Jones magazine article (Sept./Oct., 1981, pp. 31-37, 44) charged that a primary objective of the research hospital, operated by ORAU until 1974, was to conduct experiments for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on the effects of high-level radiation. The article alleged that patients were used in these experiments without their informed consent and without proper treatment. In response, the House Science and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on September 23, 1981, to investigate the accusations. Congressman Albert Gore, Jr., who chaired the hearing, stated the testimony that day “essentially refuted” the charges made in the article.

Donald Petty (left) was TAT’s 5,000th graduate of industrial skills training. A number of DOE, Department of Labor, TAT advisory committee (including A.H. Kelly, right), and labor representatives attended a special ceremony on May 7, 1981.

The Department of Labor named ORAU’s Training and Technology (TAT) program as one of the top 25 training programs in the nation, and TAT was also recognized as one of the model programs for training migrant and seasonal farm workers.

On Oct. 1, 1981, the Comparative Animal Research Laboratory (CARL) became the newest division of ORAU. The activities at CARL in the effects and metabolism of toxic compounds related to energy production reinforced the special interests of ORAU. During that same year, after 20 years under a government-supported contract, ORAU’'s marmoset program became a project headed by the laboratory director at CARL, who reported directly to ORAU's executive office.

Fiscal year 1981 (October 1980 to September 1981) was the last year that ORAU operated the American Museum of Science and Energy for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). After 31 years of managing the museum, ORAU management decided that the organization’s resources could best be applied in other areas.

The Institute for Energy Analysis (IEA) completed its global carbon dioxide emission model. The model focused on energy supply and demand by region and yielded projects to the year 2050.

IEA’s studies of the effect of energy technologies on human health continued to produce results, including studies of the time distribution of leukemia mortality among the atomic bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the link between prenatal diagnostic X rays and childhood cancer.

In 1981, IEA Director Alvin Weinberg received the Fermi Award for his “exceptional and outstanding achievement in the development, use, and control of atomic energy.”

In 1981, letter agreements for the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS) to assist private companies in radiation training were increased by eight to a total of 48. REAC/TS also accepted in February 1981 a request of the World Health Organization to provide assistance and collaborative services to all the countries of the Americas.

In the Epidemiology Program (now referred to as Occupational Exposure and Worker Health Programs), the development of a roster of 3,200 DOE employees exposed to radiation greater than or equal to the then-current limit of five rem per year was completed. It aided the program’s investigation into the possible health effects of occupational radiation exposure.

Two of the Manpower, Education, Research, and Training Division’s (MERT's) programs made direct contributions to the development of fusion energy. University Programs (now referred to as the Science Education and Workforce Development Programs) began administering a new Magnetic Fusion Energy Technology Fellowship program, and University Programs turned to the Labor and Policy Studies group for the evaluation of manpower requirements that gauge such things as how many graduates in what fields would be needed in fusion energy development programs, both then and in the future.

The Radiological Site Assessment Program (now referred to as Environmental Assessments and Health Physics) was established in October 1980 at the request of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and DOE.

A second new program, the Minority Institution Research Travel Program, was started to fund travel for minority institution faculty and graduate students to government labs, research institutions, industrial organizations, and other institutions to plan energy-related research.