Rep. Paul G. Rogers (D-Fla.) said yesterday that top Navy officials withheld a report from his subcommittee earlier this year that was sharply critical of the radiation protection procedures for workers protection procedures for workers at the Portsmouth, N.H., naval shipyard.
In a letter yesterday to Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the Navy's deputy commander for nuclear power, Rogers and Rep. Tim Lee Carter (Rky.), the subcommittee on health and the environment, also criticized the Navy's explanation of the incident Saturday as "inconclusive and unresponsive."
In testimony before the subcommittee last February, Rickover denied allegations made by a Boston blood specialist that hhe number of leukemia cases among workers at the Portsmouth shipyard was four times the expected amount and that overall cancer deaths among the shipyard workers was twice the national average. Ther specialist, Dr. Thomas Najarian, put the blame for the increased cancers on workers' exposure to low-level radiation.
Rickover told the subcommittee in the testimony Feb. 28 that he knew of no serious radiation problem at the New Hampshire shipyard. The yard services nuclear-powered submarines.
An antinuclear group here, the Critical Mass Energy Project, released copies last weekend of a confidential 37 page inspection report signed by Rickover Dec. 30 of last year. The report noted poor safety showings by Navy technicians on radiological safety control exams and an "unsatisfactory rate of occurence of high radiation control incidents" at the shipyard.
The report noted that deficiencies in the radiation control program at the shipyard caused excess radiation exposure levels. The shipyard also had six incidents" at the shipyard.
The report noted that deficiencies in the radiation control program at the shipyard caused excess radiation exposure levels. The shipyard also had six incidents of skin contamination by radiation and other radiological control problems, giving it one of the worst radiation safety it one of the worst radiaion safety records among naval shipyards for nuclear vessels.
During his testimony last February Rickover made no mention of the report.
In an explanation of Rickover's remarks to the committee issued Saturday the Navy said he was speaking only "in general terms" about shipyard problems and not about the Portsmouth shipyard. The explanation also said Rickover meant that to his knowledge there was no problem of cancers stemming from radiation exposure among shipyard workers.
The Navy issued an additional explanation yesterday. It said none of the workers at the Portsmouth shipyard received unusual doses of radiation because of errors in control porcedures and no workers at the yard exceeded the assigned limit of radiation exposure.
In their letter, Rogers and Carter critized the Navy's response and called for additional information on how the report signed by Rickover last year was prepared. They also called for any other reports and background information on radiation control procedures at other nuclear shipyards.
The Navy's spokesman said yesterday that the letter from Rogers and Carter had not been received and that the Navy would not comment before it answered the congressmen.