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History of the Advisory Committee

SAC Meetings
Current Advisory Committee
All SAC Members, past and present

1968-1976: The Formative Years
1968 National Plutonium Registry Meeting. Standing (left to right): Carlos E. Newton, Jr., W. Daggett Norwood, H.D. Bruner, Philip A. Fuqua. Seated (left to right): Thomas F. Mancuso, J.H. Sterner, Robley D. Evans, Herbert M. Parker. Not photographed: Clarence C. Lushbaugh, Lloyd M. Joshel.

The Plutonium Registry Advisory Committee included six original members plus a seventh who was added a year after it first formed. These members helped to guide the Registry.

  • J.H. Sterner (Chairman)– A faculty member at the University of Texas medical school
  • Robley D. Evans (Vice Chairman)– The MIT physics professor noted for his studies of the radium dial painters
  • Clarence C. Lushbaugh – A physician from Oak Ridge Associated Universities
  • Thomas F. Mancuso – The retired head of the Pennsylvania state occupational health program and a University of Pittsburgh faculty member
  • Herbert M. Parker – The prominent medical and health physicist from General Electric’s Hanford Laboratory
  • Lloyd M. Joshel – A toxicologist and manager of the AEC (now DOE) Rocky Flats Facility operated by Dow Chemical Company
  • Wright Langham – The Los Alamos National Laboratory biophysicist who many acknowledged as “Mr. Plutonium.” Langham was added to the Advisory Committee a year after the initial six members

The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) met for the first time in Richland, WA. Drs. Joshel and Lushbaugh were unable to attend, but the other four members were joined by Dr. Bruner of the Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. Fuqua of HEHF, and the Registry staff. The committee elected J. H. Sterner and R. D. Evans as Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, and proceeded with a thorough and detailed discussion of the fledgling Registry’s scope and planned activities.

In the early 1970s several changes took place:

  • 1971: J.H. Hanes replaced L.M. Joshel; Hanes had succeeded Joshel as manager of the Rocky Flats Facility
  • 1974: Edward A. Putzier temporarily replaced J.H. Hanes
  • 1973:  Louis H. Hemplemann replaced Wright H. Langham, who had died in a tragic airplane crash in Albuquerque the previous year; Hemplemann was a physician at the Los Alamos National Laboratory
1977-1981: Transition Years

In 1977 the Advisory Committee was restructured to address the need for expansion and development in new areas.  The revised SAC included 9 members:

  • J.H. Sterner (Chairman) – A physician who was on the original Advisory Committee
  • Charles W. Mays (Chairman) – A health physicist from University of Utah who succeeded Sterner as chairman in 1978
  • Robley D. Evans (Vice Chairman) – A physicist who was on the original Advisory Committee
  • Clarence C. Lushbaugh – A physician who was on the original Advisory Committee
  • Herbert M. Parker – A physicist who was on the original Advisory Committee
  • G.L. Voelz – An occupational physician from LANL who headed their plutonium worker epidemiology study
  • John W. Poston – A health physicist from Georgia Institute of Technology; Poston had also worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Donovan J. Thompson – A biostatistician from the University of Washington; Thompson served less than a year before resigning
  • Patricia W. Durbin – A leading research figure on the biological aspects of actinide elements from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California; Durbin replaced Thompson after he resigned
Epidemiology Recommendations

The newly restructured SAC observed in its June 1977 meeting that the USTR and LANL appeared to have overlapping and perhaps conflicting responsibilities with respect to epidemiologic studies of transuranium workers. The Committee recommended that Drs. Breitenstein and Voelz pursue resolution of the epidemiologic study matter and report their findings and conclusions back to the Committee. Breitenstein and Voelz met with Walter W. Weyzen to discuss the relationships and responsibilities of the USTR and LANL. They concluded that it was best to leave the matter unresolved pending a better definition of the Department of Energy Occupational Worker Epidemiology Study, and within months the USTR was out of the epidemiology research area. Its next Annual Report reflected a major change in direction: greater emphasis was placed on biokinetics and health physics, and epidemiologic study was no longer a stated purpose of the Registry.  In fact the Annual Report did not mention epidemiology.

Dosimetry Subcommittee

The end of the USTR’s first decade presaged the start of considerable change in the USTR operation. In April 1978, J. H. Sterner, who had chaired the Advisory Committee since its inception, resigned as chair, and was replaced by physicist Charles W. Mays. Under Mays leadership, the Advisory Committee, in addition to providing general policy and technical guidance, took a more active role in the detailed scientific aspects of the work. This was largely accomplished through the appointment of a Dosimetry Subcommittee which consisted of three people.

  • John W. Poston – An Advisory Committee member who served as the Dosimetry Subcommittee chairman; Poston was a health physicist from Georgia Institute of Technology who had also worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Charles W. Mays – The Advisory Committee chairman and a health physicist from University of Utah
  • Patricia W. Durbin – An Advisory Committee member; Durbin was a leading research figure on the biological aspects of actinide elements from Lawrence Berkeley (Donner) Laboratory, University of California.  Durbin replaced Thompson after he resigned
Technical Subcommittee

The Technical Subcommittee considered scientific details – what samples should be collected, sample sizes, effects of dehydration – and performed the primary evaluation of the data. It also considered and recommended through its parent Advisory Committee the basic scientific policy and research direction of the USTR. It included in its meetings and deliberations the following people.

  • James F. McInroy – Directed the radiochemical analysis of samples processed at Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Carlos Newton Jr. – The USTR Associate Director. Newton provided health physics support to the Technical Subcommittee
  • Kenneth R. Heid – A health physicist from Battelle who would replace the soon to retire Newton

The Technical Subcommittee operated in an informal collegial manner, in intense frequently lengthy all day meetings in which the basic scientific work of the USTR was carried on. Thus, it effectively augmented, or, perhaps in another sense, took the place of, the woefully small scientific staff of the USTR, whose entire cadre of personnel consisted of half-time Director Bryce D. Breitenstein, half-time Associate Director Carlos E. Newton, Jr., and a full time secretary, Dorothy Potter. The Technical Subcommittee in large measure, really carried out the scientific mission of the USTR.

Additional assistance for the program was obtained from three prosectors, who had been appointed the previous year to assist with the procurement of tissue samples at autopsy.

  • Gerald R. Dagle – Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories
  • Robert V. Bistline – Rocky Flats Facility
  • James F. McInroy – Los Alamos National Laboratory
1982-1991: Combined USTR and USUR SAC
SAC Meeting 1984
1984 Scientific Advisory Committee: Left to Right: Langan Swent, Herbert Parker, Pat Durbin, John Poston, Sr., Charles Mays, Robley Evans, George Voelz, Newell Stannard.

In 1981, the Advisory Committee recommended that the Transuranium and Uranium Registries be combined into a single entity, observing that there were no disadvantages but many scientific and administrative advantages that would accrue from combining the two programs. Although this recommendation was not immediately acted upon, a combined USTR and USUR Advisory Committee was created in 1982, and two new members with expertise in uranium were added. These additions were:

  • J. Newell Stannard – An eminent biophysicist and the former associate dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine
  • Langan W. Swent – An occupational safety and health expert and retired vice-president of Homestake Mining Corporation

The 1983 Advisory Committee meeting was an open meeting attended by 28 persons in addition to the Registries staff and the Committee. An observer from the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense as well as scientists from several DOE laboratories attended. The Committee discussed the evaluation of a second whole body case, to be carried out under the lead of Advisory Committee member, George Voelz, and James McInroy. The Uranium Registry was also discussed and director, Robert Moore, was commended for his tenacious dedication to the program. However the Committee also observed that the staff of the both Registries needed to increase their understanding of uranium biokinetics and bioassay analysis.

Poston retired and George Voelz became the Advisory Committee chairman. Two more vacancies opened up following the death of Herbert Parker and the retirement of Robley Evans. The new Advisory Committee members were:

  • 1989: Kenneth Inn filled the vacancy left by Poston; Inn was a leading radiochemist from the National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • 1990: Paul L. Ziemer, a leading health physicist from Purdue University, served on the committee for one year before he was appointed Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health; he voluntarily stepped down to avoid any potential conflict of interest
  • 1990: Roy C. Thompson was a prominent radiobiologist who had recently retired from Pacific Northwest Laboratory
1992-Present: WSU Years
SAC Meeting 2012
2012 Scientific Advisory Committee: William Hayes, Herman Gibb, Kathryn Meier, Robert Bistline, and Richard Toohey.

In February 1992, the US DOE awarded a three-year grant for $3.76 million to WSU for management and operation of the Registries. This resulted in changes to the composition and operation of the Advisory Committee. Within a matter of weeks after the transfer, a formal policy relating to the Advisory Committee was developed. This policy required that the majority of members of the Committee have no affiliation with the DOE or its prime contractors, and that the Committee — no more than seven in number — include a representative of the academic community and the general public, in addition to the scientific members. It also provided for the appointment of a representative of organized labor. Accordingly, a newly reconstituted Committee was appointed, which included four scientific members as holdovers:

  • George Voelz (Chairman) – A physician from LANL
  • Keith J. Schaiger (Vice-Chairman) – A health physicist from the University of Utah
  • Kenneth G. W. Inn – A radiochemist from NIST
  • Roy C. Thompson – A radiobiologist who had recently retired from Pacific Northwest Laboratory
  • Borje K. Gustaffson – The dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at WSU
  • MaryBelle Thompson – Represented the general public
  • Bruce Lawson – Joined in 1994 to represent organized labor

In the years since the USTUR moved to Washington State University several additional scientists and representatives of the public, labor, and ethics have served on the Advisory Committee. Meetings continue to be held annually, and USTUR staff are in communication with the SAC throughout the year. A complete list of past and present SAC members is available (see complete list).