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Tissue Sampling Program Under Scutiny

February 21, 1994 GMT

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ A Cold War program to collect bones and organs from the corpses of people who lived near nuclear sites is under scrutiny, the Department of Energy said.

Researchers may have taken samples without notifying people’s relatives, said U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan.

Dingell wrote to Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary Thursday to ask for more information.

A White House panel probing human radiation experiments also will look into the tissue sampling program, DOE spokesman Bob Alvarez said Friday.

The National Human Radiobiological Tissue Repository tried to determine how much harmful plutonium people absorbed from nuclear testing at Hanford; Los Alamos, N.M.; Fernald, Ohio, and Rocky Flats outside Denver. The program began in the 1940s.

The civilian program no longer continues, but samples are still taken from nuclear workers who consent.

The repository was transferred from the Energy Department to Washington State University in 1992, and is now housed at a former motel in Spokane.