The more than $22 million spent in the past two years to research Cold War human radiation experiments could have compensated the tests’ victims, critics complain.
The research expenditure by the Department of Energy includes $6.2 million spent by the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Monday.
That committee recommended that victims of the experiments be financially compensated in cases where the government or researchers deliberately misled them, or where there was no medical benefit and they were physically harmed.
“My only reaction to that is, ‘Wow,”’ said Robert Newman, attorney for the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit involving radiation experiments at the University of Cincinnati. “That amount of money could certainly have settled all the claims.”
“That is going to become a real measuring stick for the victims and their families,” said Cooper Brown, spokesman for the Task Force on Radiation and Human Rights, a coalition of victims’ groups nationwide.
An energy department official defended the research cost.
“We think it was a reasonable price to pay to uncover the truth,” said spokeswoman Carmen MacDougall.
Congress has yet to take up the compensation issue.
“I still think there is a chance,” said Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a frequent critic of the experiments at the University of Cincinnati. “But let’s be honest, this has been an extremely busy six months focused on balancing the budget.”
The 14 members of the human experiments committee were paid $462 a day for their time, the newspaper said. The panel met about every three weeks from April 1994 through July 1995, then two more months revising its report, which was issued in October.