United States Government Sued For
Wrongful Human Radiological Experiments
Source: Business Wire

The law firms of Chamberlain, Neaton & Johnson and Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell announced today that they have filed a class action suit in the U.S. District Court of Seattle, Western District of Washington, on behalf of individual Native American citizens of the regions adjacent to or in the vicinity of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, located in south central Washington State, against the United States Government for conducting wrongful human radiological experiments on their people.

This suit is brought against the United States of America and other Defendants, including Dupont, General Electric, Westinghouse, Rockwell International, the University of Washington and Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory, for violations of the constitutional rights of the affected group of Native Americans under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, for infliction of radiological injuries compensable under 42 U.S.C. Section 2210 (the Price Anderson Act), civil conspiracy, battery, strict liability, negligence, and other torts. These violations all arise out of the Government’s and other Defendant’s surreptitious and wrongful radiological experimentation on the Native Americans.

The suit alleges that the Native Americans have been subjected to systematic, clinical experimentation of the hazardous effects of ionizing radiation, and that these experiments were planned, funded, coordinated, reviewed and orchestrated by agencies of the United States, including the Atomic Energy Commission, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. These field environment experiments were conducted by research institutions and contractors with the United States, including the University of Washington and certain Hanford contractors also named as Defendants in the suit. The suit further alleges that the Native Americans were subjected to repeated, intentional releases of ionizing radiation from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and then were studied without their knowledge or consent, which directly violated their constitutional right to bodily integrity and established government policies.

In disregard of its special fiduciary responsibilities to Native Americans, which are based on long-standing treaties and agreements and supported by the U.S. Constitution and the courts, the United States Government did not warn the people of the Hanford region of the hazards of ingesting high doses of radiation, did not take steps to protect them from harm, and did not obtain their consent for “studies” of their physiological reaction to deadly poisons in the air, land and water. These deadly poisons included radioactive iodine, plutonium, phosphorus, zinc and other byproducts of the Hanford plutonium manufacturing process. The Government instead continued monitoring the Native Americans as subjects of secret experiments to determine what ill effects could be detected over time from systematic exposure to repeated doses of radiation through their diet and way of life.

The United States has admitted in recently declassified documents that these releases occurred in such massive doses as to permanently injure and impair the health of the Native Americans ingesting foods and liquids contaminated with hazardous doses of radiation from Hanford, with possible impact to future generations. These experimental releases were deliberately orchestrated by the Government and other Defendants to monitor the effect of high doses of radiation on vegetation, fish, and human beings, among others. Adverse health effects from the intentional and unintentional releases of radiation have been catastrophic for the indigenous population living in the counties surrounding Hanford. Thousands of residents of the towns and areas surrounding Hanford have suffered thyroid cancers, bone cancers, arthritis, diabetes and other auto-immune disorders, hypo-thyroidism, blood disorders, reproductive disorders, skin cancer, and other serious injuries as a direct result of the radiation releases from Hanford since 1943.

While all residents living in the areas surrounding Hanford since 1943 were placed at risk of deadly exposure to radiological contamination, adult Native Americans and their children were uniquely situated in their lifestyles, dietary patterns, religious expressions, and cultural habits, to suffer radiological exposure significantly more intense than was suffered by non-Native Americans – a fact known to the Government and underlying their selection of these Native Americans for study of the health effects from Hanford. Furthermore, no actions by the U.S. Government to address these devastating health effects, including a recent proposal for health monitoring, take into account the unique diet and cultural lifestyle of the Native Americans and their consequent greater exposure to environmental damage.

In addition, the Government consistently failed to disclose or acknowledge to the public the dangerous conditions it created at the facility and the resulting adverse public health effect but instead engaged in a practice of misrepresentation, concealment and/or false and misleading reassurances concerning the dangerous condition created and their adverse health consequences. These human experiments were conducted in secrecy, without disclosure to or consent from the Native Americans, despite the fact that the United States had developed policies and procedures as early as 1946 which required informed consent from subjects of human radiation experiments. This experimentation was undertaken at a time when the laws in this country had clearly established that all American citizens have a constitutional right, derived from the Fifth and 14th Amendments, to bodily integrity, free from non-consensual invasion or tampering by governmental agencies. By surreptitiously exposing the Native Americans to hazards to their bodily integrity without consent, the Government and other Defendants have violated the Native American’s constitutional rights to life and liberty under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Native Americans are bringing this action in order to bring to light the conduct of the United States Government concerning human radiation experiments, to protect the Treaty rights of Native American peoples to live their traditional way of life, to protect the human dignity of all American citizens from violation, to restore the cultural and natural resources of Native Americans, to ensure their constitutional protection and to provide a remedy for the physical and spiritual harm caused by these radiation experiments. The Native Americans are represented by Chamberlain, Neaton & Johnson of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell of Memphis, Tennessee.