Allegations of Records Falsification at the Nevada Test Site in the Mid-1950's

RCED-83-108: Published: Apr 21, 1983. Publicly Released: Apr 25, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO investigated allegations that radiation records were falsified for personnel who participated in the joint Department of Defense/Atomic Energy Commission atmospheric nuclear weapons testing program at the Nevada Test Site in the mid-1950's.

A veteran alleged that two sets of records were maintained, one showing actual radiation exposure readings and the other showing that test personnel received only minimum doses of radiation. GAO noted that it is difficult to reconstruct events which occurred more than 25 years ago. In this particular case, military service records were difficult to locate and were sometimes incomplete. GAO could not substantiate the allegations on the basis of the available evidence. Specifically, GAO found that: (1) the veteran's military service record did not show that he was at the Nevada Test Site; (2) records maintained by the Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission did not show that the individual was at the test site, that the combined-service medical evaluation team at the site existed, or that two sets of radiation exposure records were kept; (3) persons involved in recordkeeping at the test site did not support the allegation that two sets of records were kept; (4) the veteran had no documentation to support his allegations and two principal leads he furnished led to dead ends; and (5) an open letter from GAO to veterans of the atmospheric nuclear weapons testing program produced no corroborating witnesses.

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