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DAWSON FOREST TASK FORCE COMPLETES STUDY OF AREA EXPOSED TO RADIATION IN THE '50s AND '60s

 DAWSON FOREST TASK FORCE COMPLETES STUDY
 OF AREA EXPOSED TO RADIATION IN THE '50s AND '60s
 ATLANTA, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The Dawson Forest Task Force has released a report to Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Joe Tanner that reveals two tracts of land in a 10,000-acre area in Dawson County do not present a radiological health or safety problem.
 The sites are located inside the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area about 40 miles north of Atlanta.
 "The nuclear experts chosen to study this site for levels of radiation have completed a very thorough investigation," Tanner said. "I feel extremely confident in telling the citizens who visit the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area that they are in no danger."
 Gov. Zell Miller directed Tanner to appoint the four-member group to study the two small tracts after increased interest and concern about possible health threats from residual radiation. The Task Force, which comprised some of the leading nuclear experts in the country, submitted its final report on Dec. 22.
 Led by Melvin W. Carter, Ph.D., Neely Professor Emeritus at Georgia Institute of Technology, the group plunged immediately into the study shortly after being commissioned last June. The group soundly endorses its findings.
 "Over several months of investigation, we measured current radiation levels and conducted soil analyses and leaching experiments, in addition to studying data collected over time by the Environmental Protection Division," Carter said. "It is our conclusion that the radiation levels are not dangerous. It is highly unlikely, but the only possible danger would occur if unauthorized personnel breached the secured areas."
 However, the task force determined the security of the two closed areas -- buffered by two separate lines of chain- and hog-wire fences -- to be adequate to restrict entry and recommended all other parts of the wildlife and recreation area should remain available for public access and recreational uses.
 The task force further recommended that EPD continue surveillance at the site and make the results public on an annual basis. EPD conducted an initial investigation in the area in 1976 and subsequently closed the two areas to the public because of radioactive contamination. The division has continued routine radiation surveillance at the Dawson Forest site since 1978.
 The site was the former location for the Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory, operated by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation under contract to the U.S. Air Force to study the effects of radiation on military equipment. During the 1950s and 1960s, Lockheed conducted experimental work at the site using a 10-megawatt radiation effects reactor. In the latter stages of operations, cobalt-60 sources were fabricated for commercial purposes.
 In 1971, Lockheed ceased all operations at the site, decommissioned the remaining facilities and sold the property to the city of Atlanta. Shortly after purchasing the property, Atlanta officials arranged for the Georgia Forestry Commission and DNR to manage the forested areas and wildlife on the property.
 For more information about the contents of the report, contact Jim Setser, EPD Program Coordination Branch Chief, at 404-676-4713.
 -0- 1/22/92
 /CONTACT: Jim Setser of the Environmental Protection Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, 404-656-4713/ CO: Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection
 Division ST: Georgia IN: SU:


BR-BN -- AT011 -- 2416 01/22/92 15:06 EST
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Date:Jan 22, 1992
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