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Nuclear Test Personnel Review (NTPR) Program

(Toll Free Hot Line: (800) 462-3683)

Introduction: The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is the Department of Defense (DOD) Executive Agent for the Nuclear Test Personnel Review (NTPR) Program, which serves veterans who participated in U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests or with the occupation forces of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The primary purpose of the NTPR Program is to provide participation data and radiation dose information to veterans. Since its inception in 1978, the NTPR Program has identified approximately 210,000 DOD personnel who participated in U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests conducted primarily in Nevada and the Pacific Ocean between 1945 to 1962. Since 1988, the program added approximately 195,000 DOD veterans who participated in the post-World War II occupation of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, bringing the total NTPR population to over 400,000.

Program's mission: The NTPR Program has four primary elements designed to assist veterans by: 1) providing participant and radiation dose information, 2) conducting historical records research, 3) performing veteran outreach, and 4) supporting scientific studies. All of these elements are designed to assist veterans who participated, to help the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in responding to claims, and to provide information to those concerned with the possible health effects associated with participation in U.S. atmospheric nuclear testing.

Participant and dose information:The first NTPR Program element provides participation and dose information to support medical and compensation programs administered by the VA (http://www.va.gov/) and DOJ ( http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/torts/const/reca/index.htm). The NTPR Program plays no role in the administration of either the VA or DOJ program. The VA and DOJ are solely responsible for determining the Service-connection of disabilities and administering benefits. When requested by the VA or DOJ, the NTPR Program draws on the results of extensive historical research and completed veteran statements/questionnaires to provide participant data with radiation dose information where applicable.

The NTPR Program also ensures that veterans can obtain access to sources of documents and records used concerning their involvement in U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests and/or in the occupation forces of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Film badge data are used to establish radiation dose levels when such data are available. In instances where film badge data are not available, scientific techniques are relied on to provide the veteran with a calculated radiation dose. For example, because Japanese prisoners of war did not have film badges, their doses must be calculated to account for their potential radiation exposure. About 45 percent of U.S. atmospheric nuclear test participants have some film badge data. Since film badges don't measure all radiation contributions (internal and neutron) that compose a total dose, scientific techniques are used to reconstruct veteran doses. Individual dose reconstructions are based on evaluations of records from all sources and any available statements/questionnaires concerning the veteran's activities.

The scientific dose methods used by the NTPR Program have been twice reviewed by the National Academy of Science (NAS). The NAS findings were documented in 1985 in Review of the Methods Used to Assign Radiation Doses to Service Personnel at Nuclear Weapons Tests and in 1995 in A Review of the Dosimetry Data Available in the NTPR Program. Both reports reference a known bias in the methodology, which tends to overestimate doses. In 1985, the NTPR dose assignment methodology was published after a period of public comment in Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 218 (32 CFR 218).

Historical records research: The second element of the NTPR Program involves comprehensive research of the broadest scope. Over 100 archives nationwide have been researched for relevant information. More than 40 historical volumes and 25 analytical reports have been developed to provide details of each test and operation. The program has located, retrieved, declassified as necessary, and preserved records pertaining to U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests. These records are diverse in nature and are vital in documenting participation activities and establishing radiation dose levels. The documentation includes service and medical records, film badge records, pocket dosimeter logs, special orders, muster rolls, unit memoranda, ship deck logs, morning reports, flight logs, personal accounts, diaries and papers. Although the majority of the archival research effort was completed by 1984, the NTPR Program continues to seek and obtain new information from all available sources.

Public outreach:The third element of the NTPR Program provides a public outreach service to veterans and their families and appointed representatives. This outreach includes personal contact with veterans and mass media announcements to find veterans and publicize the availability of services and the VA's health care and entitlement programs. The NTPR toll-free help line, (800) 462-3683, created in 1978, continues to facilitate direct contact by veterans. A 41-volume summary of each U.S. atmospheric nuclear test operation was developed and made available to 700 public libraries ( http://www.dtra.mil/td/ntpr/td_frntvol.html) throughout the United States as well as to the VA. These documents are available for purchase at the National Technical Information Service (http://www.dtra.mil/td/ntpr/td_ntprvol.html). The Coordination and Information Center ( http://www.nv.doe.gov/about/cic.htm), a repository for over 300,000 nuclear test era documents, has been established in Las Vegas, Nevada, for public use. Additionally, the NTPR Reading Room at DTRA in Alexandria, Virginia, contains about 500 linear feet of reference information for public use. The public can also access basic NTPR information and other associated Internet sites through DTRA's internet site (http://www.dtra.mil/td/ntpr/td_ntprfact.html). Over 70,000 individuals have contacted the NTPR Program and have received information concerning participation status. Public outreach contacts have been followed up with mass mailings whenever significant events occurred that involved the NTPR Program.

Scientific studies support: The final element of the NTPR Program supports independent scientific studies to ascertain whether U.S. atmospheric nuclear test participants have adverse health effects as a result of their participation. The NTPR Program has supported scientific studies conducted by NAS to determine whether there is an increased radiogenic disease (such as leukemia, liver or thyroid cancer) specific mortality among U.S. atmospheric nuclear test participants. Two scientific studies are summarized below:

CROSSROADS study: NAS completed a mortality study in October 1996 on participants of Operation CROSSROADS, the first peacetime atmospheric nuclear test series conducted in 1946. The study focused on about 40,000 Navy participants at Operation CROSSROADS as the significant group to examine. NAS found these participants experienced a 4.6 percent increase in all-cause mortality versus the comparable number of military controls who were not participants. That result was statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level. When malignancies (cancer) and leukemias were considered, participant mortality was elevated a few percent, but the results were not statistically significant. The significant all-cause elevation in mortality did not concentrate in any disease group examined. The results above did not vary when participants engaged in higher exposure occupations were compared to the rest of the participants. According to the NAS report, these findings do not support a hypothesis that exposure to radiation was the cause of the 4.6 percent increase in all-cause mortality among CROSSROADS participants. For further information about the CROSSROADS study, contact the National Academy Press Internet site ( http://books.nap.edu/catalog/5428.html) and read the report titled Mortality of Veteran Participants in the CROSSROADS Nuclear Test.

5-Series study: NAS completed a mortality study in October 1999 of about 68,000 military personnel who participated in at least one of five U.S. atmospheric test series, Operations GREENHOUSE (1951), UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE (1953), CASTLE (1954), REDWING (1956), and PLUMBOB (1957). The risk of death for the test participants was compared against that of a control group of about 65,000 comparable military personnel who were not test participants. The study concluded the following:

  • Overall, participants and controls had basically the same risk of death from all causes;

  • Overall, participants did not exercise widespread early death;

  • Participants and controls has basically the same risk of death from cancer;

  • Participants experienced a 14 percent higher risk of death (25 excess deaths) from leukemia than controls, but the elevated result was not statistically significant;

  • Statistical significance in risk of participant death was noted as follows:

  • Increased risk overall from external causes, such as motor vehicle accidents;

  • Increased risk overall from nasal cancer and prostate cancer;

  • Increased risk from leukemia in Nevada Test Site based (UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE and PLUMBBOB) participants;

  • Increased risk from all-cause deaths in Pacific Ocean (GREENHOUSE, CASTLE and REDWING) based participants.

The excess cancer (leukemia, nasal, and prostate) deaths among participants amounted to less than about 100 cases, which NAS concluded could be attributed to chance as well as participation. The current study overcame the limitations noted in the first five series mortality study completed by NAS in 1985. Copies of the report, The Five-Series Study: Mortality of Military Participants in U.S. Nuclear Weapons Tests , are available from the National Academy Press, telephone (800) 624-6242, and the world wide web (http://www.nap.edu/books/0309067812/html).

Medical/compensation programs: Eleven public laws, enacted between 1981 and 1999, provide the basis for medical care and compensation entitlement for radiation exposed veterans. These public laws are codified by the VA in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 3.309 and Part 3.311 (38 CFR 3) and by the DOJ in 28 CFR 79. The Government Printing Office has a free Internet site ( http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/cfr-table-search.html) to access the Code of Federal Regulations.

Military personnel and medical records: The NTPR Program does not maintain a file of military personnel service or medical records; rather, these records are kept at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), Military Personnel Records, 9700 Page Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri 63132.

Copies of military records may be requested by submitting Standard Form 180 (SF 180) to NPRC. An SF 180 can be obtained by calling NPRC at (314) 538-4261. Additional information about the NPRC and how to request records is available on their website (http://www.archives.gov/research_room/obtain_copies/veterans_service_records.html).

Unit records: Historical records for military units are not maintained by the NTPR Program; rather, copies may be requested from the following offices:

  • Army:
    U.S. Army Center for Military History
    Building 35
    103 3rd Avenue
    Fort McNair
    Washington, D.C. 20319-5058

  • Navy:
    (for Deck Logs 1942-1961)
    Textual Reference Branch, Archives II
    National Archives & Records Admin.
    8601 Adelphi Road
    College Park, Maryland 20740-6001

  • (for Deck Logs 1962 and later)
    Naval Historical Center (DL)
    Washington Navy Yard
    Washington, D.C. 20374-0571

  • Air Force:
    Air Force History Support Office
    170 Luke Avenue, Suite 400
    Bolling Air Force Base
    Washington, D.C. 20332-5113

  • Marine Corps:
    Marine Corps Historical Center
    Washington Navy Yard
    Washington, D.C. 20374

NTPR inquiries:Veterans desiring service or seeking general information about the NTPR Program can address their inquiries to: Defense Threat Reduction Agency/Tel, (ATTN: TDANP/NTPR), 6801 Telegraph Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22310-3398; telephone (800) 462-3683.

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This page last updated: July 1, 2003