May 4, 2008

Manhattan Project Blamed for Cancer

Research to create the first U.S. atomic bombs has caused cancer among people who grew up near where the research was conducted, a lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque this month, alleges children who lived Los Alamos, N.M., in the 1940s and '50s were poisoned by contaminated fish and water, and even by radiation brought into their homes on the clothes of their fathers, who worked on the research effort dubbed the Manhattan Project, The New Mexican reported Sunday.

Rene Ryman, whose father died in 2005 at age 63 of multiple myeloma -- a cancer associated with plutonium -- told her as a child he had played in streams that had a chemical look to the water.

Her lawsuit accuses the University of California and managers at the atomic research lab of negligence and wrongful death.

If enough people come forward, there's a chance we could do a medical-monitoring class action, said her attorney, Michael Howell.

Lynne Loss, 65, who lived in Los Alamos from 1949 to 1957 but is not yet party to the suit, told the newspaper her father's death was attributable to radiation contamination and her mother also had tumors before she died. She says many old friends have died of cancer and believes there may be more victims from that era.

A university spokesman said the school doesn't comment on pending litigation.