The Manhattan Project

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William Norwood's Interview

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William "Dag" Norwood came to Hanford in March 1944, where he worked as DuPont's Medical Director. He specialized in occupational health and radiation monitoring, and he was responsible for the frequent testing of workers exposed to radiation.
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[Interviewed by S. L. Sanger, from Working on the Bomb: An Oral History of WWII Hanford, Portland State University, 1995]

I came to Hanford in March, 1944, as Du Pont's medical director. When we arrived, we stayed in a hotel, and felt sand in our teeth, sand on the bed. Richland had 200-300 people and one grocery store. At first, I was involved in all medical care, later it was mostly occupational health and radiation moni­toring.

We used all types of measuring instruments, for different types of radia­tion. The worst possibility was plutonium. The amount allowed, total whole body, was .04 microcuries, an amount equal to what you could put on the point of a very sharp pencil. People wore a pencil-type monitor, and also a badge with X-ray film. At first the pencils were checked every day and the badges checked weekly.

Plutonium is an alpha emitter, and internal deposition is dangerous because it goes to the bone and liver and can cause malignancies. The people at great­est risk were working in the separations plants. We did urine tests, at first, some were done daily. After that, weekly and, finally, I think, monthly. We were looking for plutonium. Plutonium did show up, but well below the per­missible limits.