WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED
Brentwood dump contains radioactive remains from decades of animal and human tests
By Michael Collins
EnviroReporter.com – May 25, 2006
During the 1950 and 60s, both UCLA and the Veteran’s Administration were deeply engaged in the Atomic Age, doing their part for the Cold War by performing radiation experiments on a wide variety of animal and human subjects. An unknown amount of the radioactive waste from those experiments, including animal carcasses, were buried in a dump that now lies under a popular Brentwood dog park, and may be disturbed by proposed development of the VA site.
Records of these nuke studies show a vast array of experiments, and a potentially large amount of contamination. The university nuked critters ranging from rats to roosters and monkeys to mule deer. Some of the experiments involved post mortems on animals killed by a deadly dose of radiation from atomic explosions. One involved the injecting of poisonous radionuclides like strontium-90 into pregnant Rhesus monkeys in 1961, and strontium-85 into the fetuses. Another in 1954 involved ten burros essentially X-rayed to death, taking three weeks to die.
Experiments on live humans were kept under wraps, but were uncovered in the 1990s and caused a huge uproar. Examples of UCLA and West L.A. VA experiments on people are chronicled in the 1996 report, “The Human Radiation Experiments,” put together by an advisory committee to President Bill Clinton. One typical UCLA/VA experiment involved injecting patients with radioiodine to image their thyroids in 1951. Another from 1962-64 saw 11 patients given radioactive calcium-47 in an “atomic cocktail” to see how well they absorbed the material.
The advisory committee recognized that these human radiation experiments were morally bankrupt in its report. “We argue here that the use of patients in non-therapeutic experiments without their consent was not only a violation of these basic moral principles but also a violation of the Hippocratic principle that was the cornerstone of professional medical ethics at that time. That principle enjoins physicians to act in the best interests of their patients and thus would seem to prohibit subjecting patients to experiments from which they could not benefit.”
“[I]n some non-therapeutic tracer studies involving children, radioisotope exposures were associated with increases in the potential lifetime risk for developing cancer that would be considered unacceptable today. The Advisory Committee also identified several studies in which patients died soon after receiving external radiation or radioisotope doses in the therapeutic range that were associated with acute radiation effects.”
The 1953 film The Atom and You shows a man downing one of these infamous atomic cocktails as well as the testing of radioactive dust inhalation at UCLA. Atom in the Hospital, a 1961 film, shows UCLA research on the effects of radiation on the human body. Other UCLA human radiation experiments included the use of the radionuclides zinc-65, strontium-85, gold-198, iodine-125, cobalt-60, copper-67, manganese-54, xenon133, and indium-113.