AIChE - Indianapolis Section



April Newsletter - Part 2

American Institute of Chemical Engineers

Second April Meeting:
Joint Meeting of Indianapolis Section AIChE and ACS

"...And Some of the Cowboys Wore White Hats: Disposal of Liquid Nuclear Waste at Oak Ridge National Lab during the Manhattan Project"

Stephen H. Stow, Ph.D.
Oak Ridge National Lab

Thursday, April 18, 2002
Dow AgroSciences
9330 Zionsville Rd., Indianapolis

Dinner - 6:00 PM; Speaker - 7:00 PM
For information and dinner reservations,
call Mamie Cable at 276-6388
by 4:00 PM, Monday, April 15, 2002.
$25/Person (1/2 price for students with ID)


When asked, most people would contend that the disposal of waste materials -- including the highly toxic liquid nuclear waste -- from operations at Clinton Laboratories (now Oak Ridge National Laboratory or ORNL) during the Manhattan Project was of secondary interest and was handled in a haphazard and irresponsible fashion. This talk addresses new and previously unpublished information that demonstrates this was not the case and that the world premier scientists and engineers of the Manhattan Project were highly dedicated to "proper" management decisions for the liquid wastes. The talk traces the evolution of waste management-related thoughts and actions at Clinton Laboratories from the start of the Manhattan Project in 1942 to the arrival of the Atomic Energy Commission in 1947. The involvement of the Chicago-based Metallurgical Laboratory, under the direction of Arthur Compton and Glenn Seaborg, and the construction and development of super-secret scientific facilities at Clinton Labs never lost sight of issues related to the safe handling and disposal of the liquid wastes. Chemical principles dominated the thinking for the waste handling prior to disposal, when volume minimization and protection of human health were of paramount importance; the lack of knowledge of the chemical behavior of radionuclides in the environment, including the biosphere, after disposal was a frustration faced by all. The scientists, engineers, and medical professionals involved with this activity were of world class caliber on a mission to produce a nuclear weapon to end the war. However, their professional ethics and concern for their fellow man continued to direct their thoughts and actions toward "proper" waste management. They were not solely directed toward bomb production at any cost, as many would automatically presume. Indeed, these individuals can be viewed as "cowboys" in a western town, where they battled a common enemy on the frontier of science. By today's standards, what was done to manage liquid nuclear wastes in the 1940s is, of course, totally unacceptable. We must view their efforts in light of the times and with full understanding that they lacked knowledge of the chemical and physical characteristics of radionuclides, many of which had never even been envisioned before. Without the integrity that was demonstrated by these pioneers, we would be facing a much greater challenge today as we strive to clean up the disposal problems of the past.

Biographical Sketch - Stephen H. Stow, Ph.D. Oak Ridge National Lab

Recent positions: ethics officer, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)/Lockheed Martin Energy Research (LMER) (1996 Ė present); program manager for Environmental Management activities, ORNL (1995-1996); section head, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences section, ORNL (1988-1995). Education: B.S., Vanderbilt University, geology, 1962 (cum laude) M.S. Rice University, geochemistry, 1965; Ph.D., Rice University, geochemistry, 1966. Professional interests lie in the broad technical areas of geology, geochemistry, and hydrology with emphasis on applied aspects; management experience involves leadership in a wide variety of waste-related projects and programs that span a diversity of technical areas including geoscience, environmental engineering, chemistry, and remedial actions for radioactive (low- and high-level) and hazardous wastes. Active at national and international levels in geoscience and waste management activities, serving as chairman of the International Commission on Hazardous Wastes (International Association of Hydrogeologists), and a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geological Society of America. Served as program leader for development of the Natural System portion of the new U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Neutron Source (ANS) International Conference on High-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal and participated in numerous other conferences relating to geosciences and waste management. Co-chairman of the Environmental Advisory Committee of the American Geological Institute. Active in science education initiatives in many earth science societies. Have over 50 publications dealing with geosciences, waste management and resource issues.

2001-2002 Meeting Schedule:

April 18, 2002 - Joint meeting of AIChE and ACS

May - Year-end banquet

Message from the Local Indianapolis AIChE Chairman:

We made great progress April 9 on the planning for the November 3 to 8, 2002 Annual AIChE meeting here in Indianapolis. I encourage the Guest Program, Plant Tour, Evening Event, On-site Registration, and Welcoming Reception Chairs and Committee members to finalize their descriptions and get them to Lia Treffman and myself in the next couple weeks. The Chairs also need to get a photo to Lia for the Program Copy. Please continue with further Welcoming Reception sponsorships as Tom Leas makes the company information available. Lia needs to get the final program copy to national AIChE at the start of May to meet publishing deadlines. This is a national opportunity for our local chapter; let us shine.

Dr. Alan D. Schmidt, Chairman General Arrangements Committee and AIChE Indianapolis Section


We still are in need of corporate sponsors!!!

The goal is to raise approximately $40,000 in sponsorship support. This is an opportunity for a company to partner with the AIChE and promote advancements of the chemical engineering field with good public relations. Please contact Tom Leas, GAC Vice-chairman and Welcoming Reception Chair, at (317) 232-8945 if you have any questions about the company sponsorships available.

Tom Leas, Vice-Chairman

What You Missed - April - Indianapolis November 2002 Annual Meeting Planning Session

I would highly recommend that anyone who has never been to the Dodd Townhouse, just north of 56th and Meridian, stop by for dinner some time, unless you are a vegetarian (like me) or would like to order alcohol (donít worry, I wonít tell who tried to order a beer), that is. According to a newspaper clip integrated into the menu, at some point, in some newspaper, someone had rated the restaurant number one in Indianapolis. We were impressed.

There is an assortment of lovely items on the menu, including beef, chicken and seafood entrees. Everyone was quite satisfied with his or her meal, including the imaginative vegetarian, although no one had enough room left to sample the homemade deserts listed on the menu. Making the meal even more enjoyable was the ambiance. The original logs that made up the cabin walls were still in place. Of course, the mud/straw filling had been replaced by whitewashed plaster. I was greatly impressed that the logs were holding up much better than the plaster. I guess it really is true that they donít make things like they used to. However, any disappointment that might have been present due to hundred year old wood being in better shape than much newer plaster was quickly dissipated when each of us received a crisp ten dollar bill to assist with the cost of our meal! See, now you can never say you never had the chance to benefit from one of our meetings!

But seriously, the ten members in attendance were able to prepare a tentative schedule of guest programs and plant tours for the Annual Meeting. We will be offering tours of Argonaut Technologies, Eli Lillyís Insulin production facility, and Dow AgroSciences. Our guest activities include a tour of the Childrenís Museum which will coincide with the weekly Scientech meeting, a day-trip to Conner Prairie, and a visit to the Eiteljorg and State Museum. We will update you as plans are further solidified.

Lia M. Treffman, Newsletter Editor

From the AIChExchange

START YOUR ENGINES: 2002 ANNUAL CALL FOR PAPERS April 19 is the deadline for papers for the 2002 AIChE Annual Meeting, November 3-8, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Take a lead position and submit your proposal online at

PREPARE TO BE ENLIGHTENED AIChE's 2002 Management Conference, May 19-21 in Scottsdale, Arizona, is the place where senior executives will learn, network, and recharge their strategies to foster growth through innovation. J. Michael Fitzpatrick, President & COO, Rohm and Haas Company will kick-off this focused event. Register by May 3 and save $200. Visit or call 1-800-242-4363.

BIG SAVINGS DURING DAYLIGHT SAVING Daylight Saving Time was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin while he was living as a delegate in Paris in 1784 as a chance for French night owls to save money on candles. Economics propelled the US to observe Daylight Saving Time year-round during WWII and the 1970s oil crisis. President Reagan moved Daylight Saving Time from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in April in 1986-saving the country an estimated 300,000 barrels of oil each year. Learn more at

POWERFUL FUTURE FOR CALIFORNIA The US DOE/OIT and the California Energy Commission will host "Energy Solutions for California Industry" May 15, 7:45 am-3:00 pm in Buena Park, California. Participants will share solutions for managing energy demand and how to improve system efficiency while maintaining or, in many cases, improving productivity and profitability. Registration and more information is available at Email or call 703/748-8608 with questions.

APRIL CEP: THE LOW DOWN ON ENERGY The premier Critical Issues Series (CIS) at the AIChE Spring National Meeting drew a near-capacity crowd for panel discussion on three highly debated topics - global climate change, alternative energy options and the viability of nuclear energy. Read about the different viewpoints from the government, independent research organizations, and leaders in the industry in the April issue of CEP. Or read online at

OFFSHORE TECHNOLOGY Sponsored by AIChE, the 34th Offshore Technology Conference, "Deep Into the Future," May 6-9 will attract over 45,000 oil and gas professionals to Houston, Texas. The largest annual event for the development of offshore resources, the conference focuses on the latest developments in the fields of drilling, exploration, production, and environmental protection. For more information on this conference and to register, visit

TIME TO CALL IT A DAY Thinking about retirement? Join other engineers and scientists for live online workshops on April 23, May 21, and June18. One of Schwab's Investment professionals will lead you through an interactive Web presentation. Free to AIChE members. Visit under Institute News for a description of workshops and information on how to participate.