tions. Problems arise because “plausibility” can be subjective. It is often difficult, 50 years after most of the atmospheric tests, to verify even a veteran’s participation status with certainty. For example, the original list of veterans provided for the earlier Five Series study (see Section I.B.6) was to have indicated all participants in five test series, but it erroneously omitted more than 20,000 participants and included some 8,000 who were later determined to be nonparticipants.
The committee was generally impressed with the extensive historical research carried out by JAYCOR to document the whereabouts and roles of veterans who took part in the testing program. JAYCOR had to locate and piece together deteriorating, obscure, and often almost-unreadable records (morning reports, ship logs, unit histories, and so on) from diverse archival sources. With such sources, the dates of arrival and departure, where a veteran was quartered, and so on, could usually be documented. In contrast, the veteran’s specific duties and the time he spent in various locations (such as on contaminated ships) were typically difficult to document with certainty.
Procedures to be followed by the NTPR program for dose reconstructions, as laid out in 32 CFR 218.3, specify that “possible variations in the activities, as well as possible individual deviations from group activities, with respect to both time and location, are considered in the uncertainty analysis of the radiation dose calculations.” There is also an expectation that a veteran will be given the benefit of the doubt in determinations used to adjudicate a claim for a nonpresumptive disease under 38 CFR 3.311. As stated in 38 CFR 3.102, “when, after careful consideration of all procurable and assembled data, a reasonable doubt arises regarding service origin, the degree of disability, or any other point, such doubt will be resolved in favor of the claimant” (see also Section I.C.3.2).
In many of the records examined by the committee, however, the participant did not appear to have been given the benefit of the doubt regarding the assumed exposure scenario or film-badge dose, including the time and place of exposure. In reviewing the 99 cases, which were randomly sampled within strata, the committee found at least 20 in which a veteran’s external exposure scenario appeared to be incorrect, incomplete, or suspect (for example, see cases #15, 22, 27, 32, 33, 37, 40, 47, 53, 73, 77, 81, 83, 84, 87, 88, 89, 93, 97, 98, and 99). The inaccuracies were often due to insufficient follow-up by an analyst with the participant or other members of his unit. Examples are discussed below.
One tendency the committee saw in the 99 cases was for the analyst to assume that an activity that allegedly violated radiation safety (rad-safe) or operational guidelines in place at the time did not happen. For example, an analyst often assumed that decontamination crews did not stay longer than the allowed times on contaminated ships, that radiation safety monitors and other personnel did not go beyond the 10 R h−1 demarcation line, or that badges that were issued and then returned had, in fact, been worn (not left in a drawer). If the date of issue of a film badge was missing, it was often assumed to have been the recorded date of turn-in of the veteran’s previous badge.