Published: Jan 1954
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From 1946 to 1952, the author was a fairly good customer of the AEC Isotopes Division, procuring over that period something like a dozen shipments of radioisotopes from Oak Ridge for use in various industrial studies relating to rubber science and technology. Since that time, he has been on the other side of the counter as an employee of the AEC in Washington, studying atomic energy from the viewpoint of a public servant and talking with numerous industrial people interested in peacetime applications of the atom. As one might expect, a considerable number of these people were interested in radioisotopes either as users, processors, consultants, or even as potential manufacturers. The easy questions were answered in Washington. On the difficult ones our questioners were referred to the Isotopes Division experts at Oak Ridge. The subject of management problems with radioisotopes will be approached in the light of experience gained from working on both sides of the street. On the basis of his industry days and after a look at the statistics snowing how the isotopes program has grown over the past few years, the author feels that those in the Isotopes Division have done a magnificent job in creating, promoting, and administering the isotopes program until it stands today as an outstanding instrument for good—representing in fact the major constructive use realized thus far from the splitting of the atom. In the medical field alone it was recently estimated by one expert that radioisotopes have already saved more lives than were taken at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even if this statement is only approximately true, it is a powerful testimonial for radioisotopes. One might say the success of this program was inevitable, that radioisotopes filled a needed niche so well they would practically sell themselves, much like the proverbial hot cakes. To a certain extent this is so. But the arrangements and procedures for securing these potentially hazardous bodies from AEC could have been so fraught with restrictions that unskilled or overly cautious handling of the program might have snarled matters to the point where the whole operation would have died while being born. Commendation is due Paul Aebersold and his group for having done a worthwhile service in encouraging the use of radioisotopes, while at the same time taking necessary steps to protect public health and safety.
Davidson, W. L.
Director of ResearchAtomic Energy Commission Staff, Food Machinery and Chemical Corp., South Charleston, W. Va.