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The Path of Inquiry 

How research for this story was conducted

Wednesday, May 2 2001
"Fallout" is based on months of interviews and documentary research by staff writer Lisa Davis. In reporting this series, Davis reviewed thousands of records held by the National Archives and Records Administration, including both previously declassified documents and documents declassified at the request of SF Weekly. These documents included correspondence, invoices, research and operational reports, photographs, maps, and other papers from the files of the former Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL) and the San Francisco Naval Shipyard at Hunters Point.

Davis also searched for and reviewed hundreds of former Atomic Energy Commission records through the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear and National Security and the DOE Coordination and Information Center. Additional records came from the DOE Human Radiation Experiment Information Management System, which includes documents from the federal Departments of Energy, Defense, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Davis also reviewed records from the United States Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary. In addition to documentary research, Davis conducted countless hours of interviews with former civilian and military employees of the NRDL and the Hunters Point shipyard; with other military personnel who trained at the NRDL; and with family members of deceased enlisted men who were stationed at Hunters Point.

As part of its research effort, SF Weekly also hired a team of analysts from the International Environmental Policy program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Working under the direction of program Chairman W. Jackson Davis, the team reviewed and analyzed historical and environmental documents associated with the Hunters Point Shipyard and its cleanup. During its work, the team created three databases highlighting government documents that relate to the NRDL and the shipyard's history of nuclear research. These databases -- which catalog some of the documents relating to the amounts and types of radioactive materials used at the lab; research conducted by NRDL scientists; and the progress of a variety of lab operations -- can be found on the Internet at

About The Author

Lisa Davis


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