Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Oakridge Experiment

On March 24, 1945, a 55-year-old black truck driver, Ebb Cade, was admitted to the U.S. Army Manhattan Engineer District Hospital in Oakridge, Tennessee for treatment of bodily injuries resulting from a car accident. The extent of his injuries were so severe that he was not expected to live. On April 10, 1945, documents show that he was injected with a significant amount of plutonium. Cade was the first patient out of 18--all of which the DOE has still not completely identified--to be injected with plutonium. He received 0.29 microcuries of plutonium 239, a dose equal to 1,030 rems or 41.2 times what the average person receives in a lifetime.
Dr. Karl Morgan, a physicist from the University of Chicago, who came to Oakridge in 1943 to work on the Manhattan Project, described in a letter to The Oakridger newspaper how Dr. Robert S. Stone--the doctor who injected the plutonium--discussed Cade's unsuspecting involvement and eventual disappearance from the hospital a few days later. Morgan writes: "Dr. Stone was particularly concerned because, as he said, this man was part of an experiment to determine the risk to man from exposure to plutonium. This poor `expected casualty' had suddenly gotten up out of his bed at the hospital and disappeared. I was upset and concerned when I heard about this human experiment because as described to me this black man was unconscious and not expected to live when he was injected with plutonium. I was disturbed for two reasons: One, the poor man could not possibly have given his consent to be a guinea pig and two, I was afraid he was selected for this experiment in part because he was black and it was unlikely any of his family would learn of the plutonium injection... "