Carl J. Johnson papers
Scope and Contents
The Carl J. Johnson Papers contain a great deal of overlapping information. Whatever topic your research pursues, do not neglect to search the ENTIRE COLLECTION.
The Carl J. Johnson Papers are arranged as follows:
I. BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
II. PUBLISHED MATERIALS ARTICLES/REPORTS AND PAPERS/ABSTRACTS DELIVERED; BOOK REVIEWS, COMMENTS AND LETTERS
III. PERSONAL IV. U.S. ARMY
V. DISTRICT HEALTH OFFICER, NORTH DISTRICT, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
VI. JEFFERSON COUNTY (JEFFCO) HEALTH DEPARTMENT AND MEDICAL CARE AND RESEARCH FOUNDATION (MCRF), DENVER
VII. SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
VIII. NUCLEAR ISSUES ***The key file in this section is the Rocky Flats file. Each of the (11) sections described below are organized in a similar manner, using common descriptive headings. Which ever issue is being research, do not neglect to look for authors, correspondence, etc. in the Rocky Flat file. Research on whatever topic will be best served if all (11) sections are consulted.
1. ROCKY FLATS NUCLEAR WEAPONS PLANT (RFP) AND RADIATION 2. ATOMIC VETERANS, THE NEVADA TEST SITE (NTS) AND THE UTAH DOWNWINDERS 3. NATIONAL LABORATORIES 4. NUCLEAR POWER INDUSTRY 5. NUCLEAR TRANSPORTATION 6. NUCLEAR WAR, WEAPONS, AND MEDICAL IMPLICATIONS 7. NUCLEAR WASTE 8. NUCLEAR WEAPONS PRODUCTION FACILITIES (OTHER THAN RFP) 9. RADIATION GENERAL 10. RADIUM AND RADON 11. URANIUM MINING AND MILLING
IX. GENERAL FILES ***this is a non nuclear issues file of health issues, organizations and environmental issues X. OVERSIZE MAPS AND POSTERS
- Creation: 1929 - 1988
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Biographical / Historical
Carl J. Johnson (1929-1988), M.D., M.P.H., had an international reputation for his work involving the health effects of radiation. Born in Sims, Indiana he served as an Engineer Corps topographical surveyor in Japan and the South Pacific (1946-1949). He began his medical education at Michigan State University where he received a B.S. in 1953 and a D.V.M. in 1955. At Michigan State he met and married Kathryn Van Deusen. They had three sons; Frederick, Ken and Peter.
Dr. Johnson worked at the Haskell Laboratory for Toxicology and Industrial Hygiene, Newark, Delaware (1960-1962) and as an Associate Professor of Pathology in the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine (1962-1963). Funded by a National Institute of Health grant he concurrently received a M.S. and M.D. from the Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1965. In 1969 he completed the M.P.H. degree at the Univesity of California, Berkeley. He was also a reserve duty Medical Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve Corps. He rose to the rank of Colonel. From 1966 until 1973 Dr. Johnson was the District Health Officer, North District, in Seattle, Washington. He also taught as an assistant clinical professor of epidemiology and international health at the University of Washington. Among his other duties in Seattle, Dr. Johnson investigated carbon monoxide poisoning in school buses and ice skating rinks; the epidemiology of accidental injuries in the schools; lead and arsenic concentrations in soil, water, dairy cattle and school children downwind from the Tacoma copper smelter; and he reported the first investigation of hepatitis transmitted by ear piercing instruments.
In September, 1973 Dr. Johnson became the director of the Jefferson County Health Department. For years the westward suburban growth of the Metro Denver area has been crowding closer to the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. In 1974 the Jefferson County Commissioners reviewed a proposal to rezone to residential several square miles of farm land downwind from the plant. Commissioner Joanne Patterson came to Dr. Johnson and requested that he assess the risks to a residential population living near the Rocky Flats Plant.
Prior to the request that he become involved with Rocky Flats, and unknown to him, the Colorado Department of Health and federal agencies had already reviewed and approved the rezoning request. Dr. Johnson commenced with a study of plutonium in respirable surface dust in the Denver area. His study concluded the existance of considerable plutonium downwind from Rocky Flats. The Jefferson County Commissioners accepted his recommendation against rezoning the land residential.
The landowners, Good Fund, Ltd., Good Financial Corp., et al, whose property value had, obviously, been devastated, sued the Department of Energy, Rockwell International Corp. and the DOW Chemical Company. This lawsuit took years to resolve and during this time Dr. Johnson undertook more investigations to assess the health risks of the Rocky Flats Plant.
The first study, related to the rezoning question, had been of soil contamination. In 1978, Dr. Johnson prepared a grant application to the National Cancer Institute to carry out a comprehensive study of cancer incidence in the Denver area as related to patterns of contamination from the Rocky Flats Plant. Suppported by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health; using federal cancer data, this study found a significantly higher incidence of cancer near Rocky Flats, particularly the types of cancer caused by radiation.
The majority of the members of the Jefferson County Commissioners and the Jefferson County Board of Health supported this Rocky Flats work. Others had always opposed it. The 1980 election changed the composition of the Board of Commissioners. Two members, supporters of Dr. Johnson, were replaced by new members who were real estate investors and contractors with DOW Chemical Co. In May, 1981, Dr. Johnson was asked to resign or be fired. He resigned in order to protect his retirement. Immediately Dr. Johnson sued for reinstatement. The county judge did not grant reinstatement. The Colorado State Supreme Court ruled this decision in error. As a second trial approached, again with the same judge, Dr. Johnson's attorney requested a new judge. The judge refused to withdraw until a unanimous Colorado State Supreme Court decision forced him to disqualify himself. The new judge accepted all the major charges Dr. Johnson lodged against Jefferson County: conflict of interest, outrageous conduct, illegal meetings and illegal firing. Concurrently (this was 1985) the landowners lawsuit against the Rocky Flats Plant ended in a $9 million settlement. Jefferson County moved to settle the Johnson lawsuit. Dr. Johnson accepted $150,000.
While working at the Jefferson County Health Department Dr. Johnson received a Colorado Department of Health grant (1976 1979) to study the water quality of west central Jefferson County, particularly the impact of the Schwartzwalder uranium mine on the North Table Mountain Water and Sanitation District. During his tenure with the Jefferson County Health Department he was involved with many things. These included: helping to organized the Jefferson County Emergency Medical Services Council and an EMS Program; developing plans for the alchoholism program; developing the first strep surveillance and control program in Denver area schools; and he chaired an inter agency committee developing school health standards for the State of Colorado. But he never lost interest in the health issues of radiation exposure or his concern about the Rocky Flats Plant.
After leaving the Jefferson County Health Department, Dr. Johnson worked at the Medical Care and Research Foundation in Denver. In 1981-1984 a grant from the Nuclear Radiation Research Foundation in Washington, D.C. involved him with studies of the health effects of exposure to radionuclides in the fallout from nuclear bomb detonations. This led to a 1985 grant to review the radiation exposures of a cohort of Mormon families which had resided in the St. George, Utah area during the period of atmospheric testing at the Nevada Test Site. This Downwinders study supported the first court decision aiding persons dying of leukemia and cancers after exposure to nuclear bomb fallout. Another issue Dr. Johnson became involved with was the class action lawsuit National Association of Radiation Survivors vs Turnage (V.A.) et al concerning radiation and atomic veterans.
In September, 1985, Dr. Johnson became a medical officer in the South Dakota Department of Health and a Clinical Associate Professor in the University of South Dakota School of Medicine. He and Mrs. Johnson lived in Pierre, South Dakota until March, 1988. Dr. Johnson earned a wide reputation for his knowledge of radiation and its health effects. He was called upon to provide expert testimony in numerous litigations involving radiation. Over the years he presented reports of his work at national and international meetings, including at the universities of Basel, Bern, Bremen, Columbia, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Harvard, Lausanne, Munster, Stanford, Zurich and the College of London and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. His family interests included travel, hiking and photography and he was a member of many national and international organizations.
Dr. Johnson and his family returned to Colorado in 1988 and Dr. Johnson died in December, 1988 from complications following heart bypass surgery.
250 linear feet (167 Boxes)
Language of Materials
Carl Johnson (1929-1988), M.D., M.P.H., had an international reputation for his work involving the health effects of nuclear radiation. As the Director of the Jefferson County Health Department (1973-1981), he performed plutonium soil surveys and cancer incidence studies concerning the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. Dr. Johnson’s work also dealt with Utah Down-winders, the Savannah River Plant, and other nuclear issues. The collection contains his writings and research from 1945 to his death in 1988.
This collection is arranged into the following series: Series 1: Biographical Information, 1979-1989 Series 2: Published Material, 1975-1987 Subseries 2.1: Nuclear Issues and Health – Rocky Flats Plant, 1975-1989 Subseries 2.2: General Articles, 1972-1987 Series 3: Personal, 1955-1989 Series 4: U.S. Army, 1966-1988 Subseries 4.1: Chronological Files, 1966-1988 Subseries 4.2: Subject Files, 1969-1987 Series 5: District Health Officer, Seattle, Washington, 1921-1973 Subseries 5.1: Seattle, n.d. Subseries 5.2: Seattle-King County Department of Public Health, 1921-1973 Series 6: Jefferson County (Jeffco) Health Department and Medical Care and Research Foundation (MCRF), Denver, 1950-1988 Subseries 6.1: Jefferson County Health Department, 1950-1988 Subseries 6.2: Johnson vs. JEFFCO, 1972-1985 Subseries 6.3: Medical Care and Research Foundation (MCRF), Denver, 1981-1988 Series 7: South Dakota Department of Health, 1960-1988 Series 8: Nuclear Issues, 1945-1988 Subseries 8.1: Rocky Flats plant (RFP) and Radiation, 1951-1988 Subseries 8.2: Nuclear Issues: Atomic Veterans, the Nevada Test Site (NTS) and the Utah Downwinders, 1945-1988 Subseries 8.3: National Laboratories, 1973-1987 Subseries 8.4: Nuclear Power Industry, 1975-1988 Subseries 8.5: Nuclear Transportation, 1977-1988 Subseries 8.6: Nuclear War, Weapons and Medical Implications, 1966-1989 Subseries 8.7: Nuclear Waste, 1976-1988 Subseries 8.8: Nuclear Weapons Production Facilities (Other than Rocky Flats), 1960-1988 Subseries 8.9: Radiation – General, 1967-1988 Subseries 8.10: Radium and Radon, 1967-1986 Subseries 8.11: Uranium Mining and Milling, 1970-1983 Series 9: General Files, 1966-1989 Series 10: Maps and Posters, 1962-1980
- In Progress
- Processed by Harvey N. Gardiner, May 13, 1991
- May 13, 1991
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