We’re safer

In August 1953, one of the big hitter U.S. scientists, John West from Argonne, called in on a senior U.K. physicist, John Dunworth. They would meet a number of times over their careers and clearly had the greatest respect for each other. Yet Dunworth, in documenting to file their meeting, could not resist claiming that British reactor safety work was more advanced than the American work:

It is quite clear that on the subject of safety we have probably given more attention and obtained a more rational basis for considering medical and biological hazards than the U.S. and that on this side of things, especially relations between the reactor people in the States and the Reactor Safety Committee are not on any very good basis.

Of course nothing could be further from the truth. U.S. safety research, thinking, policy, and action was, and always would be, far more comprehensive, for the very simple reason that the American reactor program was much larger, and years ahead of, the British one.


Dunworth, John V. 1953. Dunworth to Cockcroft, Aug. 11, 1953. AB 6/790, National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom.